I cannot believe it’s already a week into August. In a few weeks Our Man Cub will be back to school again, tickets for Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival will be on sale, and blessed cooler weather will be back to calm my shit down. And in the meanwhile, I’m pickling. With the air conditioning running.

It starts with the garden patch on the side of the house, where it’s cozy and pleasant. There’s a little wall that separates our property from the apartment complex, and it feels private, even if it really isn’t. I love that garden patch. But it gets iffy sun, and the woman who lived here before us planted day lilies and hosta to accommodate that. Every spring we put in vegetables, and I’ve been experimenting with what will grow there well.

Tomatoes grow, but generally don’t ripen on the vine. Some varieties of melons grow well, sprawling all over and bearing fruit that takes a long time to ripen. Rosemary and oregano love it. Strawberries loooooove it. And the squirrels love the strawberries – we rarely get to eat any, because squirrels get up earlier than we do, as a rule. Pepper plants come up and thrive, but the fruit is small. Zucchini gets us a big plant, and two or three actual zucchinis. Broccoli is a wash – it gets leggy and blooms. Cauliflower seems to be coming up ok, if leggy and smallish.

But cucumbers? Holy carp, cucumbers love the side garden patch. And so every year we put in a few more plants. We plant pickling cukes, because they just taste better to us – Man Cub and I have discovered that we can eat something like our own weight in salted pickling cucumbers. Lately he’s taken to forgoing the salt part and just biting into them in the middle. Last year, in spite of our intentions, we ate all the cucumbers – not a one made it into the pickle jar. So! Good! -urp-

So this year we made a conscious decision to plant enough cucumbers for pickling and eating. We put twenty-odd plants in the ground and let ‘em go.

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I’m not dead! I was just resting, y’all.

No, that’s not even true (except for the not dead part) – I haven’t been resting. It’s been busy as all get out here since my last post in… omg, in May. Here’s the scoop: stuff is in motion. Here’s the work on the biggest stuff.

Rabbit Heart is off and running!

The 2014 Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival is rolling along like a boss. We just finished up judging on Wednesday night – winners in four categories have been picked, two categories have been scrapped (the youth category because there were no youth entries,* and the under-one-minute category because there weren’t enough suitable entries), as well as the overall winner, and I am both grateful for the judges and satisfied by their outcome. We have a venue and a date – 8pm Sunday, October 12th at Nick’s Bar, right here in Worcester. We have a gorgeous ticket design (if I don’t say so myself), and we’re ready to rock.

There’s still a lot to be done before the date – ticket sales (and emailing out of town folks who donated and are promised tickets ♥ ♥), curating of the show, setting up the programs, posters and tee-shirts, getting in touch with the finalists, making runner-up prizes, staffing the event, press releases, and of course, securing the popcorn possibilities – but I am deeply stoked to be digging in on it. I am downright thrilled to tell you that tickets should be on sale in the next couple weeks. WooT!

How grateful am I? I am so freaking grateful. This is a project that two years ago I was just dreaming about bringing to fruition. I was armchairing the hell out of it, and only vaguely entertaining the idea that I could get it into action. I was convinced that in order to get this event off the ground, I would have to get someone else to do it. And now here I am on the verge of it actually happening, and it’s because I got my butt in the game.

Something snapped in January. I just felt like I couldn’t wait anymore for a Right Moment or someone else to decide that they wanted to produce this event. And so I stuck my toe in. And check it out – I hooked a fish! Now it’s time to reel that baby in. The next couple of months are going to be filled with more work, and I tell you what, sister – I’m totally looking forward to it =) Read the rest of this entry »

So occasionally I get panicky about my son, Our Man Cub. It doesn’t happen that often – he’s really got good accountability, and we have a pretty great relationship, so I generally have a clue about things going on with him. Also, we share a desk, so I have at least his side of the conversation to glean the goings on from.* In general, I don’t ask a lot from him aside from chores and school and, you know, being a good member of our household. One of the things I do ask of him is for him to let me know where he is when he’s out and about. When he hangs out with his friends after school, the deal is that he texts his dad to remind him to swing by after work and pick him up. ‘Cos, dinner, natch.

Well, on Friday we got no text. Will Dearest called me to ask if Our Man Cub had come home instead of going to his friend’s place. And then it got wonky.

I mean, my first instinct read that he’d turned his phone off in school and then forgotten to turn it back on. Things happen.** That morphed into the possibility that he had his phone on DND (which I’ve done accidentally), or that his reception was poor. So I decided to call a few times. Ok, four times. Five? Anyway, he didn’t answer. So I decided to text bomb him in hopes that his pocket would eventually buzz.

What wound up happening is that my texts never actually went through – just like the text that he had sent to his dad when he got off the bus with his friend. He did eventually look at his phone and notice that there were five calls from home, and he called me and everything got straightened out. But in the meanwhile, I sent him a bunch of texts, all the while trying to keep it light – because while the rational me was repeating the mantra of, Cell service is poor in parts of town. Cell service is poor in parts of town. Cell service is poor in parts of town, irrational me was screaming something about ditches and bad people and shop accidents and the mothership. Yeh, ok, so that worry from when they’re tiny? Apparently, it doesn’t ever actually go away.

Man Cub eventually did get the text – his pocket went off when he got into the car with his dad. We all had a good giggle – so it turns out I’m funny when I’m nervous, who knew?*** And on Saturday when he went out with friends and kept me posted about where they were, I sent him back a whale with four bars, because he earned it, natch.

I apologize for the lack of a cut on this entry, but the image is just too big. And after wrassling with the screenshots to make them all one, I don’t have it in me to go back and cut the sucker in two. Also, one-bar whales are endangered (I heard it from a good source on teh internets). so I don’t want to accidentally cut one of them in half.

***

*Here’s what I can tell is going on: his friends are nice to hang out with and they are funny more often than not, and they poke good natured fun at each other. College is a priority, and so is co-op. They’re not all boys; there are some smart girls that they hang out with. The Ender Dragon is a big boss in a square world. Also, making sure the balloon is fixed is of utmost priority. Hands Like Houses is playing on Friday, they’ll be taking the bus here after school, and I’m responsible for driving them to the show and picking them up after. That’s what I know today.
**Personally, I’ve lost my phone in the bottom of my handbag with the ringer off for a goodly amount of time. It never rang, so I never went looking for it. At bedtime when I went to set the alarm, I tore the house apart. Eventually I dumped the handbag and it came bouncing out (it’s a good case), and everything was fine. But had it been a Friday night, I might not have found it until Sunday.
***Generally, anxiety just makes me belch. Which is great when it’s social anxiety because I’m meeting someone for the first time. Good. Times.

This is the process: You get it wrong. You make adjustments. You get it wrong. You make adjustments. You get it wrong. You get lucky and see something that you didn’t see before, or you make a connection all of a sudden. Something different turns up wrong. You make adjustments.

And eventually, you not only get it right, but you understand how to do it right. And further down the road, you get good at it. Far down the road, you can even claim some mastery.

It’s the process. The process is probably law. Sister Corita Kent knew about the process. When she put together her rules for the Immaculate Heart College Art Department, number 7 was:

“The only rule is work.

IF YOU WORK IT WILL LEAD TO SOMETHING.

IT’S THE PEOPLE WHO DO ALL OF THE WORK ALL THE TIME

WHO EVENTUALLY CATCH ON TO THINGS.”

It doesn’t say anything in there about sussing out printer issues, but that’s likely because she was all about the letterpress.* If she had been a computer user, I’m 100% sure that there would be something specific about the printer.

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I have been stupid productive this last couple of weeks. No – really. I’ve made a set of spring scarves and gotten them up on Etsy, I’ve redesigned the Doublebunny store, done a ton of art, written some press releases, finished fundraising* for Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival and issued a venue challenge for it, done some writing for a pet project with a good friend, led a collage workshop, put down the bones for a website for another pet project, and did I mention, I’ve made a ton of art? I’ve made a ton of art.

I blame it on Edward James Olmos. Well, the Admiral.

See, I got home from a fantastic retreat feeling energized, and reading Stephen Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life, which I had picked up while away. When I hit the part about focus, I sorta lost my shit for a week, and everything started to fall apart as I thought myself into a corner.

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If an eavesdropping stranger told you that the project that you are working on full-time and hardcore right now, the project that’s your baby, the project that you’re longing to see come to fruition, that is your reason for getting out of bed in the morning to work on, is doomed to failure, would it take the wind out of your sails?

Or if someone you trust told you that you weren’t clear enough about what you wanted for the project, and maybe people just don’t get it, so that’s why they’re not taking part.  Or if you realize that your current reach is that of a t-rex, and you, clearly an otherwise impressive beast, are waving your tiny little arms in the air, and no one is really seeing you, because, you know, tiny little arms. Or no one is looking, because, you know, dinosaur.

Would it slay you?

Here’s the truth: I’m not stopping.

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Sister Corita nailed it:

Thinking about road tripping to Pittsburgh or Cleveland this spring.

Hello, I am returned – Ta-DA!

Last week was amazing. I spent five days in the Berkshires, taking a collage and yoga workshop with amazing women and an amazing teacher, learning and playing, cutting and piecing, and having a bit of a reunion.

It wasn’t just a reunion with other people, tho’ that part was pretty great, too – some of us have been taking the Vibrant Visionary Collage Workshop for years now, and it is a delight to reconnect and catch up. My mom & I attend together every year, and with her living in FL and me in MA, it’s a really good come-together for the two of us as well.

But the big reunion, really, was with myself.

There’s just so freaking much on my plate at home, it’s not even funny. There’s the film festival , there’s the household stuff,* there’s the art rep,** there’s the businesses,, there’s getting ready for the workshop I’m teaching at the end of the month, not to mention all the messy crap that goes along with the health insurance change that we just made.*** And did I mention that Our Man Cub broke his poor nose last week at the Memphis May Fire show?†

To say the gas was low in my tank is an understatement. And retreat couldn’t have come at a better time.

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Good morning, Brave Monday, I’m all wound up.

What I really want to say is: I dreamed last night that I was making Thanksgiving dinner and had forgotten to go grocery shopping, and that there was a baby scrambling around (that might have been a kitten?), and I was at the top of some stairs that I couldn’t get down from. And that dreams are super weird, but anyone can see that there’s some interpretation to be gleaned from that there pre-wakeup business.

What I really want to say is: this is about courage.

I put it out into the world. Yes, I did.

So you know about the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival, yes? This is an effort in bravery, and I’m not afraid to say so!* I got up off the sofa at the end of January with my good idea tucked under my arm, and pushed it into action. Holy crap, it’s in action!

Since then I’ve been figuring things out – like making pretty web pages, getting logistics in order, shouting out news, learning to write a press release, chatting up people I don’t know, and sniffing around cool venues for the scent of amazing things in potentia.**

And now I’m asking for help – which, in case you were wondering, is terrifying. This morning I set up a Go Fund Me page  in order to make submissions to the Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival free, and now I’m buzzing all over and feeling weird and excited, and hopeful, and and and…

Look – here’s the scoop:
Right now the plan for this festival is to use money that I have been carefully socking away since the beginning of the year as prize money. And I was planning to use that and money from submissions to cover the cost of throwing the awards ceremony event, right? But the more I think about it, the more I think about how often money can be the one thing that keeps me personally from submitting my work. Money for poems in the mail or money for groceries, right?*** The groceries usually win out. And I thought about how people who make a lot of art don’t have a whole lot of disposable income†. Conclusion: I want to make submissions free.

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So, sister, there’s been some talk about my talk. I *can* call you sister, can’t I?

Have a look at this:

—Where are we going then?

—Brothers, brothers…

—I ain’t your brother, a woman shouts.

—All right bloody hell sisters then, and everyone is laughing.
 -from Iron Council by China Mieville

Iron Council is one of those books that I can just read and re-read, and it never suffers for it. It has trains, and remade people, and union politics, and golems, and sex workers, and civil rights, and magic, and it’s a fucking artful piece of writing. But all that aside, it’s the interaction in that quote that stays with me beyond the entire adventure, more than anything else at all.

Shall we talk about sisterhood a moment without getting granola? I mean, I’m sure that at least half the people reading this are expecting granola. I can get granola with you, if you want – personally, I’m down with the notion of sisterhood and the hippie magic associated with it. I have no shame around that stuff, ‘cos there’s nothing to get shameful about. But the hippie magic isn’t where I’m going when I call you sister.

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