Trying something different in May, a spin on daily concepts we have talked about many times. I am curious to see how the month will take shape and am hoping this will rekindle something approximating the kind of "daily" that was, for a while, such a big part of me.


While I was working in the kitchen the other night, I needed paper towels. Maximizing my efforts, I bundled up a bag of trash and headed down to the garage. When I came back up, ready to resume dinner-making, I realized I had forgotten the paper towels. I gathered up a load of recycling and headed down again. Back up, I stood at the counter again, ready for the same task, and realized I had forgotten the paper towels. Ranting aloud, I took out the under the sink trash, tied it up, and headed down. Up again and, you guessed it, still no paper towels. I went down the final time only to get them and succeeded. Crazy!


[A few days separate then and now.]

The things we do.

Last night I did something that we hope we never have to so, but something that many times I have thought necessary and, even so, a step I have never taken. Until last night. I called 911 for an ambulance after a frightening afternoon with a sick adult, an adult who has often been sick but never this way. I called for an ambulance, and then I moved everything out of the way so that they could get in. In the minutes after being on hold and then explaining the situation to the dispatcher, I scrambled around the room trying to clear a path between the door and the suddenly dangerously narrow hallway. I moved two baskets of clean but unfolded laundry. I moved the bin of library books. i moved backpacks and shoes. I moved the couch. It felt oddly like cleaning up for a house cleaner to come in. And then there were eight or nine men filing the house, asking questions, taking over. It was not like on TV. It wasn't overly friendly or reassuring. And then they were gone, tape and packaging remnants scattered throughout the hallway.

There was a stillness in the house, though I could hear the sounds of the ambulance still on the street for another ten minutes or more. And there was the weight of all of it, of two kids watching it happen, of a hole in the hallway wall that I put packing tape over because the kids were as afraid that something might come through the wall as they were by the fact that the hole was caused by someone falling and hitting the wall with a head. There was weight all around us, pressing in, and yet for those who are left behind to wait, the hours move on. We finished the show we had been watching, the three of us, said goodbye to the lost hour of the time change, read at bedtime as we always do.

Later, when I could not sleep, I played through my scrabble games and then endless rounds of solitaire in between calls from the ER and then, later, the ICU. The weight of everything, all the implications, realities, worries, and more, kept me company through the night as I tried to figure out how to walk the next steps.

The next morning after coffee, the stillness within me sat like lead. With no one to call for help juggling the kids, I waited. I did my regular things, regular morning things, regular Sunday things, regular parenting things, all with an ear to the silent phone, all while mentally planning how to fit Sunday necessities into an amorphous day of waiting.

I looked at the list of daily drawing prompts and contemplated a piece of clothing to draw. It's a drawing prompt I've been tasked with before, and it is always one I find difficult. But "a piece of clothing" was the prompt ahead of me, so getting back "in" to the rhythm and the sketchbook meant starting there even though, in truth, I am going to skip several of the ones coming up. A piece of clothing. I considered a scarf. Simple pattern. But interesting. And then I spotted a sweater, a sweater that has lived a life of its own. I have two of the same sweater in different colors, each more than 15 years old, each seriously oversized, even in all the sizes I've been then and now. I wear them now in the mornings when it is cold, or late at night. Each is a silky soft chenille on the back, collar, and cuffs with a smooth front that is soft but not chenille at all. Though they've never been exposed to moths and are not wool in nature, the chenille has a worn appearance, a see-through quality when you hold it up to the light, as if sections are being somehow washed away. These are seriously old sweaters. They are not sentimental. They are simply cozy.

I picked one up, tried to drape it here and there so I could get some angle on it. Mostly I was unsuccessful, but finally I left it over the arm of a large loveseat and sat down to fill a page. And I did.

Later, I sat and searched for new (to me) podcasts and stocked my phone with a playlist of shows I have not tried before. I scrolled through the few people I follow at Facebook and flipped over and read an essay that appeared on a "weekend list" Ali Edwards had linked to from her blog, a piece written to (and in defense of) a parent on a phone. I read just enough to find it brought me to tears, tears I was woodenly keeping at bay. I clipped it to Evernote and put it aside for later. It is a beautiful piece and a reminder that what you think you see may or may not be the while story. So often these days I see the insular way in which people draw boundaries and make interpretations. It is a good piece to read, whether your phone is a lifeline for a hundred reasons or not. I went back a day later and read it all the way through. I know none of the people the author knows, and yet I am many of them.

When I left the computer, still waiting, I stood in front of a pile of fabric. I cut some pieces. I sewed a few seams. I looked at the almost finished piece marking last year, and yet I filled my head and hands with pieces for this year's project, one defined but not yet begun. I waited, and I worked on something new. And I stopped at one point and pondered the role of the process, the normalcy and calm of the act of creating in such moments when, really, one's hands are tied.

Today, a few days since... I read another post on "story," on the telling of story, the crafting of story, on finding and identifying and following story. These are all things I have been thinking about in recent days, weeks, and months. Sometimes the story is in the subtext, another layer to a main story, an aside, something in the wings and waiting or while waiting. And always we pick and choose which parts to tell, which parts to weave together. Which parts to let stand alone, to let break a rule of grammar for a turn of phrase or a pause. Sometimes our stories are interwoven with others, sometimes connected to things past, things present, and things yet unknown. And always, always, there are more stories than we can really share, read, tell, and comprehend. But stories help us understand, survive, and better know ourselves and others. Over the last few days, I've paused in the midst of other things many times realizing I need to sit, with myself, and get down the bare bones of several stories, stories upon which I want to build, stories with details I do not want to lose and wonder about later. I've been telling myself that for months, over and over, as I run around with too many things on my plate, the fine lines of some stories fading fast. This post, in reality, was spawned by the moment of stopping and realizing that in the midst of a bad day, I turned, instinctively, to a pile of fabric. But in writing that reality, the nature of story rises to the surface.


Episode 171: Bacon Podcast

Catching up on a year started and a year gone buy.

Featured Podsafe Music:

Intro Clip: Jim Fidler ~ All I Really Wanted [PMN]
David Alter ~ Live for Today [Ariel Publicity]
Jennifer Richman ~ Home Inside [Ariel Publicity]



It is January 28. Just a few more days in the month are ticking away. As the first month of the year passes, there are several things I am hoping to complete, manage, share that will help get me firmly started on this year in terms of the notes I made of daily or monthly or yearly creative goals for 2013. It is not looking good, but I think there is still some possibility of putting a few things firmly in place. If January slips away, it is too easy to call the year a loss. So I am determined even if more than my share of busy at work and getting over some kind of flu.

You have a good guess as to what one of my "goals" for the month was, right?

For the moment, I am going to post this list, started last week and sitting here waiting to be pushed out, of things of recent note in my Facebook updates (and in open windows on my computer):

  • Doodles? Tangles? A Zentangle follower? Check out this open call -- and submit your tiles! Note the Feb 15 deadline. Do it! (As my oldest would say... "Come on peoples!") @CreateMixedMedia
  • Someone else recommended Wonder  by R.J. Palacio to me recently (or asked if we had read it). Seeing a Chapel Chronicles mini-review reminded me that I want to take a look at this one!
  • Check out Tammy Garcia's journal prompt cards in her Etsy shop. Need a nudge? Or know someone who does?
  • Awesome library photos... some libraries I would love to see and sit and read or write in. My library is way less than cool aesthetically. This is an eye-opening reminder to the beauty of books and space.
  • A new book and a list of books to check from Claire Vanderpools. (What I said when I saw it: "When I first read her list of recommendations, they felt 'too' classic. But looking closer... I think this is an interesting list (w a few token exceptions). Do you have favorites that appear here or ones you would like to read or have your middle readers read?")
  • Super cool small fabric globes.
  • Geeky whimsy: ice globe lanterns @MAKE.
  • On my list to watch: Mathematical Impressions: Can You Turn a Rubber Band into a Knot?
  • "Warning to Children" by Robert Graves -- It's a poem I did not know, but it's a poem my oldest recently chose for analysis and as a basis for writing his own poems in his humanities class. I like the poem very much. (And if you have a Minecraft player... there's a ring of that in here!)
  • I am an EverNote user... I thought this video on their career page was excellent.

I may need a brigade to ping me at night so that I manage to find my way to a computer, to words, to notes, and then... to the microphone. Not that desperate yet. But the days are ticking away!





A pointless photo, but after making my second full cup, I was thinking about a meeting I had this week. I typically manage to keep a low meeting profile, but before our once-a-month in person staff meeting this week, I agreed to a pre-meeting with a young scientist to talk about social media. She does not live in the Bay Area but was staying in Union Square for this (rare) city-based meeting. I don't spend much time in the Financial District or South of Market, so I poked around online to try and find a coffee shop near our main meeting location. Ultimately, Starbucks was easy to figure and count on. We met there... And she had a tiny hot chocolate. I downed my venti and then when we got to our main meeting, I welcomed the opportunity to refill my cup from an available carafe. Me and the other 40-somethings, I guess.

My young scientist explained that she has watched a parent who drinks two cups a day and knows it is in her genes and doesn't want to do that. Oh spare me! Like an ancient sage or an old tortoise, I told her there are way worse things you can do than drink coffee.

I am suddenly drinking more coffee than ever before (at home), and I still pass out in exhaustion each night before I manage to find any 'me' (creative) time.

"Coffee may be my one remaining luxury in life," I told the group around me. "I am definitely not going to begrudge myself my coffee!"

Drink it or don't. But spare the rest.

Here, I am hoping for some kind of quasi-normal (for me) weekend... which I hope means some time to work on something. I always hope :) I have spent too much time already this morning savoring my alone time and
watching the darkness fade around me into light as I browsed, played my morning games, evaluated some app options, and did some math as part of planning a 2013 collaborative yearlong project. Time now to move into the day... which means the kids are now up.

(Posting from mobile app... Still working out kinks with getting photos to work this way in this template. Would love a new template. Like the look of this one but a bad choice from code side.)


I have been wanting to try this list widget... to see if it will help me move things from here to there... from the void to the blog. There used to be segments in the podcast (way back in the beginning) that were random assortments... maybe not quite this random though! Anyway, a few things on my mind to share. If you think this is chaotic... you should see me in person!

  • Rainbow igloo (LOVE this so much; Science Buddies post coming!)
  • LED lights (Magical; and ties to a memory of a very special and cool room at the hospital last December -- the All-Star Room, with its absolutely amazing ceiling of blinking lights... a starfield of sorts)
  • A glimpse of "Ode to Joy" on the design wall (shared at Facebook)
  • A glimpse (literally) of my "daily" project for this year (shared at Facebook)
  • Jetpens  (Enough said. This was my best discovery of the holiday shopping season! I could spend forever browsing there!)
  • Pentel Tradio Energel, Green (Gave these in various colors as gifts. LOVE them. Tradio Stylio body with a gel inner. Woohoo! Smooth. Seriously.)
  • OtterBox Defender Series (Probably really need an Otterbox. In my haste and scrambling today to detach from work and get to a pickup, I dropped my phone as I got in the car. Yikes.)


No Fear of the Blank Page Here.

This was a bit ago... after we spotted a Townsend's Warbler (yellow and black with mask!) for the first time in a bush across from the house as we were going to the park to make a "first" YouTube video about folding paper airplanes. Once we were all done, I created the opportunity for this--having brought both the little journal and my nifty new set of Stabilo 88 pens. They are pretty irresistible! He's got a mouth (and hand) full of nuts, but I'll match his "Go Giants!" note with a cheer of my own. And... yes... I matched his journal note with one of my own. Luckily I had a blank journal in my bag. It is one I had planned to use for Zentangle patterns... but this was arguably the right use and the right moment! (Both the pens and the Moleskine Volant in green were gifts for a creative--and colorfully organized--New Year. LOVE both. Volants come in lots of colors...)

(The backstory to the story.)


2012 Map (Phone Photo)


I bought two things in the last few months that were decadent (for me). Both are indulgences that I had wanted but put off, money being tight for most of the last few years and such purchases seeming, to me, unnecessary even if desired. The story of my first pair of Dansko shoes is a saga of its own. More than once I ordered and returned. (It's true.)  I had a particularly hard time looking down and seeing them on me after many decades of bulkier clogs, and once I finally decided to keep a pair, after debating for days, I walked to the car and promptly fell out of them on the steep slope of our hill. Home again, I took them off, again unsure, and kicking myself for having worn them outside only to be unable to walk in them! Today, they are my luxury. I love them as if they have always been mine.

For me to wax poetic about a pair of shoes seems out of character, it's true. I will chalk it up to menopause.

The other purchase is even more ironic only in the fact that it took me so long. I am surely one of the most techy/geeky of people. I consider the iPad I share with the boys an indispensable part of my nights. And yet I didn't have an iPhone. Not for lack of wanting one. I just couldn't really justify it to myself. (Plus, I was super attached to the slideout keyboard of my old non-smartphone.) Debating about my iPhone purchase in the days before New Year's almost pushed my family over the edge. But now... I could not be happier. I am like a fish in water far too long deprived. Why do I love it? Sometime I will count the ways. But last night, after getting up at 2AM to do my son's glucose check and injection, I could not sleep. I tried and tried. So I grabbed my phone, and I browsed the app store for various 'list' apps I might try. (I've already sampled a bunch of blood sugar apps, and none of them is the way I would do it or really what I want. How I wish I could program my own!) I searched and then made a list and then, finally, I slept a few minutes before I was woken by a little boy at 4AM who knew suddenly his blood sugar was too low. After testing and drinking juice, I grabbed my phone and set a timer for the 15 minute interval before we needed to test again. In those few minutes, I slept. In this moment, little could possible be a better fit in my life than my new phone.

And I am thankful, very, that I bought it when I did. Had I waited another two weeks, I would not have felt able to buy it or justify it or the increase in my monthly service. That I did not order the treadmill I suddenly was determined I must have over the weekend, on the other hand, was probably fortuitous. ;)

Several times recently, I've thought about an Ali Edwards post I read in November: "Ali Edwards: Ten Things I Am Thankful For Right Now." At the time, I admired (as I so often do when seeing Ali's work) the simplicity of the idea combined with the elegance and poignancy of its execution. In explaining the things for which she was thankful, the rest of the year came out, beautifully told. When I read the post, it was before the trip to the ER and the stay in the PICU. And that was before new threats to the financial and insurance stability on which families (even in good health) depend. Back then, I thought of what might make my list. It is a list, in its generic subheadings, that many of would approximate, each of us with our own nuances, differences, and reasons, overt or covert.  Ali's list was her own, and I found it a powerful piece to read. Despite the adversity it hints at, there is a thread of life, friendship, and wisdom that comes through--a list worthy of thankfulness.

As the year wound down and the new one began, I thought through the "markers" of 2012, the "big" things that would make a list around which the year seems to have taken its tenor, ebb, and flow. It's not a rosy list, which is partly what kept me from making it. It contains things like a hit-and-run in July, nerve-wracking days without health insurance, and then the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes for my son. It contains other things, too, some good, some disappointed, some lonely, some increasingly self-aware and resigned. More and more I realize I am too old for some things to ever change!

These lists have been on my mind. Despite the adjustments we are making to diabetes, the last few weeks were ones with moments in which I felt the glimmer of the me that once embodied the blog, the podcast, my sketchbook, my journals, and my quilts. After the fear of early December, the weeks during the holidays were light, positive, forward moving. There were many hours wasted dealing with prescriptions and pharmacies. There were shock-filled moments realizing how much insurance was saving on prescriptions. There were amazed moments at the cinema and, on a different day, at a major chain restaurant when we discovered there were no caffeine-free, sugar-free drink options. Airplanes, in my experience, always have diet 7-Up or diet Sprite. The same is not true on the ground! There were moments, but there was a kindling within, the edges of story new and different, but intertwining, connecting, blending with other threads and pushing to find a path.

What a difference a day makes.



Again, in the last few days, circumstances have changed. Things I feared would happen, have, indeed, happened. There is so much to worry about and so little recourse. I must be thankful, I suppose, that there were a few weeks for me to begin adjusting to the new diabetes routines and making it as "okay" for him (and all of us) as I can.

I do not know what this year will bring. I am saddened, shaken, and scared that it has started off as it has. It feels like a redo of the year before, but with added responsibilities that complicate and magnify everything.



One thing I know is that I have to write my way through it. I have to record what is happening, whether there are readers or not. For some, a cup of shared coffee offers the chance to connect and regroup. For others of us, those of us who dangle mostly alone, there must be some outlet, some way to disperse the weight, even if it only amounts to scattering grains of sand to the winds.

I have to write my way through.

And in that, I welcome the new year.


[The photo, snapped on New Year's Day as I took a bunch of blocks from various plastic baggies where they have sat waiting attention, represents blocks from a collaborative 2012 project. There is a lot of work needed to bring it into the shape I have in mind. But I like seeing these blocks on the wall. I agonized over the palette last year at the outset of the project. It was the right one.]

Guesses as to the color of my iPhone case?

Thinking as the Precursor to Doing.

I seem to be becoming a master of wasting time. The November-December days of "list-building," coupled with the allure of the vapor-thin chance that something on someone's list will show up in one of the changes-every-hour-over-the-next-seven-days sales at Amazon, make it all too possible to while away hours--hours that really could be better spent. And yet the list-building... there are aspects of that I love. We have maybe odd holiday traditions, and certainly ones that have been drawn in as scenarios have changed. But there are lists of ideas. And though there are always "things," there are also often "things to do," which really boils down to creative elements. I noticed in recent weeks how everything I gravitated toward was pointing me in one direction -- the blank page.

A few times, I wanted to reach out to the CMP group at Facebook and ask... what makes your list? What should be on a creative list for an artist? I am one of those people (and it is a large crowd, I know) for whom a gift of a "pen" is always a wonderful choice. I think that may have been true for ever and always. So many pens and pen packs rose to the top. Pens for sketching and graphic noveling. Pens in color, shockingly, because of some vague and meandering sense that there will be color in the new year, at the very least in some new determination to get the words down, the use a calendar again, and to be more committed to my design book, which I used to document my quilting, too. And then, of course, specialty pens... the limited edition of one fountain pen is a great green? I built a list based that was constantly debated and pruned for price. But in doing so, I considered and thought about many things... I wonder about the Copic multiliners that have  replaceable tips. I wonder about inks I know others use (like Doc Martin). I considered x, y, and z. It is fun... simply considering. It is, without a doubt, the only way I window shop.

And then I turned to books. The line of creative journaling and sketching books continues to explode, and there were many that caught my eye. My experience is that books don't always pan out to be exactly what I want or need. Maybe I am not sure exactly what it is I want and need. But there are differences in what makes the perfect/most useful/most inspiring book for sketchers compared to drawers compared to multimedia artists compared to journalers. For this reason, I find it is hard to put books sight unseen onto a "wish" list.

After looking at reviews of many books online, I managed to locate a few at the library. I hesitated to bring them home and really "look" at the one that did make my list in case I do receive it. But I quickly skimmed (really quickly flipped through) the three that were waiting when we picked up books yesterday from the 'reserve' shelf. Two are ones I think I need and want. One, on the other hand, I think I will look through and be happy to have borrowed it. One thing I know for sure... I am susceptible to falling for a book based on its cover, and that can be a mistake!

(Here are a few you might look into, depending on your interests and where you fall in the journal to art book spectrum. Really, it is about what inspires you and what you enjoy doing/making right now! I put Danny Gregory's new book in this list, too, though it is a memoir.)

(I've got suggestions for you quilters, too! And, having just read a fabulous memoir, I looked through a great set of memoir and autobiography titles.)

I will admit there are some other odd creative things that I think need to be brought into my new year. I made a much-delayed trip to the dentist a few days ago (with expectedly not-so-good results), and as I told the dentist that did my cleaning, we simply have to just write off this last year. It's been a wash! That sense is even more profound when it comes to my creative self. The year has been a wash.

But when I look up at my wall, I see the 'leaf' quilt I made for '42.' Nothing I have ever made has intrigued me more in seeing it finished and hanging. It has such movement to it, that I sometimes look at it and think about the process of it and the vision of it and the symbolism of it. The '43' is very vague in my head. A few pieces have been made along the way, and I have had a large piece laying out for a while that needs to be ironed and prepared so that I can have it ready for ongoing work. I need to cut a stack of applique pieces as well. I think there is something to these private year pieces.

While I can say the year has been a bit of a "creative wash," there have been many things made, and many things are in progress. Two quilts for the boys are nearing completion, both original, both wildly different from each other, both very cool. There have been many points at which I have wanted, desperately, to begin again, begin anew. There were moments where I thought certain things would come into being, chief among them a zine. But what I am feeling right now is that I need to return to the page. But what struck me in recent days is that I keep thinking a lot about returning to the page and looking at things related to returning to the page... instead of "doing it." But maybe the thinking needs to come first. I am buying myself a bit of time in looking at it that way.

And, I should clarify... the sketchbook is not blank. Maybe a waste is different than a wasteland. I am hard on myself, and so the year, as a lump sum, seems to have been sleepy. But there are many full pages. I have confused my direction by trying to solve a cartoon vs manga debate in terms of my own approach. I like one better. But at the same time I think one is more fitting more me and my story. I think I stalled myself in trying to sort it out. And then there is the reality that I still can't render body and position the way I want. I really need to make a plan, practice, and train -- without worrying about getting the story down for now. Just train the poses and positions. Where will the story go? Those colored pens will be put to good use, as will stacks of 4 x 6 cards, handy plastic boxes and plastic dividers, and so the spiral goes. Just pipedreaming my way through these weeks, maybe. Or maybe something will come of this thinking.

So this post seems to beg the question... what makes your creative list this year? Care to share?



(You notice my recent posts have no photos? What's up? Camera is in the glove compartment of the new car that I had to buy and now rant daily about my 14mpg average! You can see how things go. If I wait to get a photo with the post, the post won't happen!)