December, 2013

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It’s True!

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sick1I am SICK today. But I hope to be back and better than ever tomorrow!

(Secretly, I’ll just settle for s0-so, even. This does NOT bode well for my sketches!)

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The Adventure That Never Was…Yet

ColdBirdJulie and I agree: EVERY day is an adventure in Iowa! But alas, some of them never actually happen.

The day before yesterday I felt an ever-so-subtle chill in the air. This is Iowa! This is Winter! Such is to be expected, is it not? However, THIS chill was in my house. My heater! It stopped working! And wind chill temps that night were to be in the double-digit lows!

Even today, our high is 9 with a “feels like” of -5. Brrrrr!

I called the repair company and prepared to snuggle with my pets, as all good Cat Lady of Reliance‘s do. If my boiler was broken for good, I certainly didn’t have the necessary thousands of dollars to replace it. Yikes!

coldbird1In addition, I prepared to live like Bob Cratchit from my favorite Christmas tale, A Christmas Carol, and bundle up in blankets and warm my hands by candlelight. No way did I dare light a fire in my fireplace! Have you seen my roof? ‘Tis wood shingles, and crispy, old, well-seasoned ones at that!

Of course, if my house caught on fire, I would definitely be warm…for a little while…hmm…

Secretly, I enjoy these kinds of situations a tiny bit. I call them “Making a memory!” just like that, with an exclamation point. Oh sure, I could have stayed at Julie’s house, but where’s the adventure in that? I’d already done that when I had bats in my house. More than once, if I recall correctly.

The cold night might not be pleasant, but I’d never, ever forget it. A memory!

The repair guy made it to my house and I sat and anxiously watched, holding my poor cold dog for warmth. Tinker, tinker, tinker…WHOOSH!

coldbird2“You are so lucky,” I heard the repair fellow mutter under his breath. Oil! All it needed was a little oil on this fan thingy!

However, the adventure continues: “It’s just a matter of time,” the hero repair guy told me. “These boilers have a fatal flaw: their pipes are made of cast iron and they rust and soon the rust builds up and clogs and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s just a matter of time…”

Well, PHEW! The adventure continues!

Our artist Nina has a wee bit of catching up to do. So while we wait for Chapter 17’s art to be captured from my GLORIOUS sketches, we just got Chapter 15 The Meeting at The Mirror’s color versions and you’re seeing them here first!

Here’s the color version of the black and white sketch of “The First Quartet,” previously shown in my November 15 post, “I Don’t Know How She Does It”:


And the second illustration for the chapter, “My Little Human!”:


I LOVE all of Nina’s detail! I can certainly understand why she’s a couple of chapters behind. Meanwhile, you can enjoy my lovely sketches in Chapter 17 The Ending & The Beginning.

We are scrambling here to keep things moving along. My brain is warm again so I can forge ahead.

Happy Friday, all! We finally have glorious snow in the forecast! I know you’re all as excited as I…

Sticks & Bones

hansel3In Chapter 17 The Ending & The Beginning, I get to use a few of my favorite things: The Night Before Christmas, Breakfast, and Hansel & Gretel.

The Night Before Christmas: As a child (which I still am in my head), I loved this story. One of my favorite illustrations was “The children were nestled, all snug in their beds” because looking at them, I knew just how excited they were for Christmas morning, and wasn’t it the best feeling in the world?

hansel2sBut I also loved that BED, like a twin mattress sideways, with the headboard and foot board along the long sides. What fun! And thankfully, perfect for my story.

I also loved breakfast on school mornings with Adam. The camaraderie of it, the working together to get everything out piping hot, the music we would listen to, the talks we would have.

Of course, Hazel’s experience on this particular morning isn’t quite that pleasant.

And finally, a brief glimpse into Hazel’s mind (which I secretly share). This is the sentence I’m talking about:



Maybe Ruth was The Queen of the Giant Spiders, which would explain why she always wore black, and she’d been feeding Hazel moldy food this whole time to fatten her up for Priscilla, and the transformation of the home had only been an illusion created to make it appear to be wonderfully magical and clean and to keep her here willingly, and instead Hazel was actually still living in filth, surrounded by ghosts masquerading as dolls.

Now it’s nowhere in there, but in my mind, when Ruth was fattening up Hazel in her imagination, she was doing it like the old witch was doing it in Hansel & Gretel, with Hazel in a hanging wooden cage. Surely Hazel would be clever enough to stick out a bone for a finger when the blind witch checked to see if she was plump enough yet. Of course she would!

So there you have it! Three more of my favorite things! KISMET. Because today is Thursday! Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood will be LIVE on TV! What fun! Reminds me of the occasional live shows (Cinderella with Julie Andrews comes to mind) that they used to have on TV back in the day….

‘Til then!

You’ll Put Your Eye Out!

tmAs I wait for those of you who are reading to read Chapter 17 The Ending & The Beginning, I must make a confession: You are not alone. I too love Tussie Mussies, and have gone through an embarrassingly long Tussie Mussie phase that continues to this day.

tm1Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about! Come towards the light, ’tis nothing to be ashamed of! Let me “refresh” your memory: Tussie Mussies, those cone-shaped little baskets for posies or treats and tiny presents, made of papers and decorated with scraps and trims to hang on trees and chandeliers and doorknobs. THOSE things.

I knew you knew what I was talking about!


This is Ginger. She has “flirty” eyes just like Dot in the book.

And since I’m making a confession here, I shall also admit to another love of mine: Pointy Hats. I adore them! I am drawn to them! In fact, in one of the future Hazel Twigg books, I am determined to insert a “Pointy Hat Parade”! SOMEWHERE. Do not doubt me.


I LOVED these little guys! They came to me naked, eyeless and armless. I painted on their features, added pipe cleaner arms (which I thought were quite fun, they could hang anywhere and I had seen precedent on other antique dolls with original pipe cleaner arms, and then made coordinating outfits with Pointy Hats, of course!









I’ve even sewn pointy hats for my dolls on occasion – when they’ll let me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, these are dangerous things with their pointy ends. You could put your eye out, or end up eating more candy than actually makes it into the “Mussie,” but that is a risk I am Willing To Take.

I feel better now! See you tomorrow!

Into Each Life…

Tonight Chapter 17 The Ending & The Beginning premieres. You know what I wish I had? A mind like a steel trap!

3mice5There’s a significant re-write to chapter 17 that needs to happen, and yesterday afternoon was the first chance I had to get to it. I was so tired! But I was determined. I toiled over three hours for around 300 words. Now, I was just about to write that that works out to a minute a word, but actually, hours are not made up of units of a hundred, they’re made up of sixty units, so….


Anyway, I don’t know if what I did worked, we’ll wait and see. It may have to be changed for the book in print instead.

And today I must sketch more sketches, all cozy in my bed. How I toil! How hard my life is! I kid of course. I realize that while I am poor, I’m also lucky.

3mice3In the meantime, into each life a little trouble must fall. Mice. I have MICE. Little stinkers must have had a heyday while I was gone. Well, I’m back now! Usually my cats get ’em, but I think these are crafty mice that keep to themselves.

You know what else I wish? That mice were cute little things! Cute little anthropomorphic things! As you know, mice are about the same size as fairies and dollhouse dolls, and I would have so much fun making tiny furnishings for them and gifts for Christmas…a chocolate chip would be like one of those giant Hershey’s Kisses!

I would just get a little square of foil, and some tissue paper for a streamer, and a tiny blue pen for writing “KISSES”….

3mice2But, nope! Sadly, mice are not like that. Gulp. Once again, I’ll draw strength from my mother, because I recall the size of the rats we occasionally got in Hawaii. These little field mice here are tiny things.

Double gulp.

Ah, well. Tonight at midnight!

Perhaps the fairies would like a giant chocolate Hershey’s Kiss for Christmas instead!

We Gather Together


After the play in the lobby with my beautiful and amazing Mother.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! This was by far the most emotional one for me. As many of you know, it was a combination Thanksgiving/Memorial for my father. We all traveled to Utah to celebrate and recall this wonderful man, and to feast.

The meal was wonderful, the company was glorious. It was so good to see my mother again and to hold her. I needed my mommy like I haven’t needed her in a long time!

The day after Thanksgiving we had the memorial. I learned a lot of things about my dad that I didn’t know before. I saw my brothers cry, something I hadn’t seen in our adult life – and rarely in our childhoods, either.


My Dad always had Certs in his pocket. He would give us one in church frequently to help keep us quiet.

I sang at the memorial at my father’s request and got through it, although after my small verse of “Until We Meet Again” sung acapella, I started the congregation out to sing “Aloha Oe” too low. No matter. The thing for me was, I got through it.


A Fuller Brush letter opener. I’d seen this in our family desk drawer for years and never know where it came from until I was searching for images of my father’s familiar brush (in the gallery photo, center).

I knew it was going to be hard because it was at the very end of the program. I vowed not to start crying that day until everything was done because I am a cryer and when I cry I can’t speak, let alone sing. And I cry a LOT. I cry at Hallmark commercials, which is somewhat common, many people do. However, I’ve also been known to cry when a member from an opposing football team helps another member up from the ground, fer cryin’ out loud! But I was determined: I was going to keep it together and put blinders on and then let go afterwards.

I was doing fine, just a little tearing up every now and then but no actual tears – until my mother handed me a pen to sign in. It was my father’s pen. As familiar to me as his hand. As familiar to me as all the other images scattered throughout this post that have such meaning to me in regards to my father.


Peter Falk as “Columbo”

My father took notes of everything in a little notebook like Columbo and he had for years and years. So much so that he’s been able to write his memoirs of each year with incredible detail. He received this gold pen upon getting his Master’s degree and it’s been with him ever since; the refillable kind. It took me by surprise seeing it there so suddenly when I’d been doing so well, as if I’d been given his hand to hold.

It was a beautiful, healing service. That evening we went to see “Liken’s The First Christmas.” It’s a telling of the story of Mary and Joseph, book-ended by a modern day situation of a woman celebrating her first Christmas after the death of her beloved husband. My brother Dennis rewrote the book end part inspired by my mother’s situation. It was wonderful. More tears of course, more wringing out, but wonderful. I will never, ever forget it.


After one of the best and most emotional moments of our lives. My brother Kenny, my Mom, and my brother Dennis.

And in between it all, my siblings in this partnership, Dennis, Kenny, and Julie, found time to meet with me. Over the healthy new fries and diet Coke’s at Burger King we met and discussed the next steps for Hazel Twigg. They’re big, and I’m excited. Now that I’m back and I’ve got my land legs under me again, I’m ready to take that first step.

Thank you all for giving me so much to be thankful for, and for being with me in these early days. I think it’s going to lead to something rather large, and you are here. THANK YOU.