February, 2014

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WELCOME To My Kasbah

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WELL. I went all out with art last Monday, and our little elf also known as Nina is hard at work behind the scenes, so! As is my wont, I shall step in with more art from that art class!

We were all hard at work from our art class the other night. A masterpiece doesn’t paint itself!


My group:

artaaI’m in the center like the flower that I am! That’s my dear friend Jenn(IFER) Trenary up top. Her gorgeous daughter Shelby is to my left. Nikole, who is a smart, smart, smarty-pants is to my left, and one of our minions, Charity, is above with “Love”! The other two are Teresa and Sandra with Turquoise.

Here’s the entire group. Amazing, all the different takes when put together!

artcHere’s the context in my Kasbah (enter at your own risk. ‘Tis a land not often seen by eyes other than my own):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s a reason I picked those colors! My bedroom is an odd gray, putty blue color with accents of red, pink & orange. This is the picture above my bed. Otherwise known as the Place Where I Cower when bats decide to take flight in the living part of my house:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI found this frame at a going-out-of-business antique store for $5 and filled it with favorite vintage post cards, shell art, and lots of flotsam and jetsom. It’s HUGE.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you look closely, we missed a cobweb. Well, Rome wasn’t built in a day! Where the heck is my Swiffer…?

Happy Friday!

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You know how it is; company’s coming, and not just to stay below grounds on the main floor of your house.  Chances are, they’re family. Quite possibly from far away, and they will most likely venture upstairs to Neverland. What do you do? You throw things into your closet, that’s what.

And then imagine the light in your closet breaks, and you can’t see in there, and you’re afraid of the dark anyway, especially the dark in there, because that’s where the first bat occurred. Would you take the time to clean the mess? No! At least, I wouldn’t.

I would only venture in there and hang out amongst the rubble to record the occasional teaser video, balancing a script, a recording device and a flashlight (although in one silly move, I used a CANDLE. Which I then tipped over. All these months later I discovered wax on some of my shoes).

You can watch Chapter 3’s video here:

Collect (or watch) all FOUR videos HERE.

So there my closet sat, rubblicious and dark. Enter my mother. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t let her take a “before” picture. Shoot! That would have made a wonderful contrast to how it looks now!

Thankfully, I found a close approximation:

closet6Aaaaand here it is now!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd towards the left:                                                                          And under the stairs:













Turns out, the light wasn’t broken! The little pull chain had just come off! There’s actual LIGHT in there! And we found no bats!

So now I have a nice clean place to put things! Should company ever come again…upstairs…


Just An Old-Fashioned

Love Song to my adopted home town of Rolfe, Iowa. I LOVE IT HERE. My sister (The Mayor) Julie and I have lived here for just over seven years, and it is home.

Last night I went to an event at the old school gym and had a great time. It was so much fun! There were so many friendly faces. Some I know well, some I didn’t recognize, but all were friendly. Of course, you don’t expect an ax murderer at a painting class…


Here’s the painting event hosted by Creative Spirits Okoboji. If you have a moment, like them HERE on Facebook. And while there, if you haven’t yet liked the Hazel Twigg page, you can do that HERE.
Now, I’m not amongst this sea of faces. There’s some older woman seated four folks back in the second row that looks an awful lot like me, but surely...

I am reminded quite frequently of why I moved here. Why once I learned of its existence I absolutely had to live in Iowa, no matter what. And Rolfe was the magical town in the freshly discovered state I adored those seven and a half years ago that I had to live in above all else.

I love everything about it. The people, the houses, the people, the weather, the people…Thank you, Rolfe! Thank you, Iowa! I won’t let you down.

Once Lost, Now Found

Tonight, at midnight! The first little patient appears at the Hideaway in Chapter 27 The Once-Loved Doll.

‘Til then!


Well! Turns out, even with all that’s going on in the Ukraine, sweet Nina has been working hard! Some of us (namely ME) simply missed seeing them.

I blame Brownies. Excerpt from version 3 before Hazel Twigg was created:

brownies1a…not all magic was as delightful as that. Roguish brownies would get Ruth in trouble when her busy mother would send her off in search of one thing or another. The brownies would hide the sought after object in plain sight, so that even if she were looking right at it she wouldn’t see it, only revealing it to her with a crisp “snap!” when she was about to give up her search in frustration. 

She would hear their gleeful laughter as they ran away, but that didn’t make her task of facing her mother any easier after having taken so long!

I SWEAR, there was NO ART in my in box last week! When Genn inquired if I’d received certain illustrations, I went back – and was shocked to see them there! Curse you, Brownies! Foiled again!

Ah, well. We now have some new color versions to premiere, as well as a DELIGHTFUL new sketch from our Nina.

First, from Chapter 20 Bearing Gifts. My sketch:

HT-045 The Gift NG

Nina’s, in living color:


“Can I come in? This is getting a little heavy.” Without waiting for a response, Marlene swept into the house carrying an enormous basket of fruit wrapped in bright yellow cellophane. “Oh, my,” Marlene paused and looked Ruth and Hazel up and down, “you have been in the attic, haven’t you? My, my, my…”

This next one is especially beautiful. Nina has captured the moment perfectly. From Chapter 22 Remembrances & Regrets. First, her sketch:

Sk_HT_49And now, in color:


“What’d you say, Liv?” Ruth called out. She stayed still, not wanting to pull either the tube or the toboggan because the swishing of them would make it hard to hear Olivia’s response. But Olivia didn’t respond. Not verbally. Instead, she sank to her knees.

That is now one of my absolute favorites from Nina. Of course, I have a lot of favorites from her…

Last but not least, good ol’ Marlene is at it again in Chapter 24 Scotcharoo’d. My sketch:

HT-051 The Poser NG

And Nina’s!


The eating area was empty. There was no one else in the station except the two clerks. And Maxwell. Marlene’s cheeks flushed, and she imagined that she looked as pretty as a picture standing there. For a moment she paused. And posed.
Ooooh. She loved the sound of his voice. “Why, hello Maxwell!”

That Marlene is quite the dresser. Can’t WAIT to see this in color! Of course, I have to actually LOOK. Happy Monday, all!

*Bonus points for you if you can guess which song from which movie the title for this post came from. Any ideas..?

The Good Fight

Usually on Fridays I’ve posted the art for the newly premiered chapter of the week. A sort of David vs. Goliath theme (although in this case, Goliath (Nina) always wins. She is a kind, gentle and well-deserving Giant of Art).

Lately, however, the art has slowed to a trickle. For a very good reason. Here’s an excerpt from my brother Dennis’ blog post, “Today, I am Ukrainian”:

NINAFor the past couple of years, we’ve been working with a wonderful artist and her husband, who are creating the illustrations for my sister’s book. They live in the Ukraine, which is at a pivotal point in its history.

Nina and Genn, and their lovely daughter, Lidia, are a sweet, young family with, I suppose, the same worries that all young families do, like bringing enough in to support their family, keeping safe, raising a child in these times. But now they have new worry hanging over them. And it’s a big one.

Read the rest of the post HERE.

Morning Has Broken & The Plot Thickens

ninja2wOkay, first the “Morning Has Broken” part: my Mother and my Attic. NINJA! As I quietly and fruitfully worked down in my sewing room, overhead there was much knocking and shifting about. My mother is a wonder! I would occasionally go up there (gulp!) to sort through piles with her, finding long lost treasures as well as a good deal of junk to be tossed. In between, my mad eyes would search those dark little rafters for inky fur and razor fangs.

My last visit of the day up to the attic, and voila! Wonderfulness! I could see a glimpse of why it had been one of my favorite places when I first saw this house. Why, perhaps I’d come up here more often! Perhaps I’d even LIVE up here! After all, there’s a perfectly good and practically brand new red reclining love seat, partially taken apart and carried up there and put back together by my ex-husband and son for that brief time period when my son decided that the attic was the Place To Be. Maybe Adam was right! I could sleep up there in plush comfort, warmed by the glow of the single dangling light bulb, cozy and content in this wide open and spacious space.

Maybe not.


Smith & Jones would have LOVED THIS CHAIR.

As we sat having lunch over the well-deserved homemade pizza I’d made for my hard-working Mom, I casually asked, “So, did you see any bats?” munching away without a care in the world.


“Um,” she replied. “Maybe.”


“Maybe some little bones…”

Dear Reader, I shall NOT be living in that attic anytime soon. The snow is melting. Which means spring is just around the corner. Time for those creatures to get out and feed…YIKES! I’m scaring myself! Today the attic fun continues…


I was going to insert a picture of a nice, hot bowl of split pea soup here, but it grossed even ME out – and I love split pea! So, um, you’re welcome…?

Now for “The Plot Thickens” (I hope you’ve already had your breakfasts): This is a little tidbit “About” Chapter 26 Split Pea. After Hazel, Ruth and the dolls discover that they cannot venture outside the Circle of Magic, and therefore cannot venture out of town to buy new clothes for Hazel to wear to school, it’s decided that they will search for things in the attic for Hazel to wear.

The attic! Hazel knows that Ruth and her mother’s grandmothers once lived in this house. The clothes up there had to be Very Old.

Looking at the dolls that surrounded her, Hazel decided to humor Ruth. Maybe she could secretly brew up a can of split pea soup and hold as much as she could in her mouth and then pretend to throw up at just the right time. It was something she always dearly wanted to try, faking an illness. She’d never attempted it with her mother, because the instant she would so much as sneeze, her mother would rush her to the doctor, worried that her only daughter was on the brink of death. Hazel figured that Ruth would probably just send her to bed, something that sounded far more attractive than going to school in ancient rags. So, yes. That would do.

Her fail proof plan in place, she followed Ruth up the stairs.

My childhood friend Holly and I used to dream and scheme about this very thing: holding soup in our mouths and “throwing up” at the same time so that we could both stay home from school and play. We never actually did it, but it was awfully fun to think about…

On that note, Happy Thursday! Once again, if I’m not back tomorrow check the attic. We are not Out of the Woods YET.

Mama Mia & the Lion’s Den

Okay, it’s not REALLY a Lion’s Den. It’s much, much scarier: My Attic.


“They’re coming to take me away, ha-ha! Hee-hee! Ho-ho! To the FUNNY FARM, where life is beautiful all the time…”

For those of you who have been reading for any length of time, you know: I have a particular fear of bats. You would too, if you had faced SIX in your living space, all by yourself. If you knew that they could fit through holes the size of pencil erasers – as I myself have been told time and time again since living here, and which I have pointed out time and time again in my book. If you lived in a less than whole 100-year-old house with little nooks and crannies everywhere…

I suspect they enter into my attic. Therefore, being a sane person, I have absolutely NO desire to go there until I’m rich and can have my roof and eaves professionally for sure repaired. And if I were that rich, I’d hire a double to sleep here during the worst of the season, just to be sure. Or something. Because I never, ever want to ever have a bat encounter again.

HHcol_7AI’ve always loved my attic. It’s a walk up with permanent stairs and a lot of the book takes place up there (oh, YOU’LL see). When I first saw this house, it was one of my favoritest features. Ah, those sweet, innocent days! When I thought – as my real estate agent had told me at the time – that the dead bat we discovered in the entryway upon our first showing was “most likely a fluke.” I even actually went into the attic…at NIGHT. GAH!!!!

Now I don’t like to go up there even in the daytime. Several months ago my sister and I were in the attic cleaning. I had her with me, so I felt safe. But there were still dark little corners into which I would not go. So SHE did, bless her. SQUEEE!!! Was that bat lying on the ground always there? Was he alive or dead? There’s not much to bats, for all their leathery hugeness, so he couldn’t have been there for long…

That was the end of cleaning that day. Julie’s house is older than mine, and she’s had an encounter or two herself.

I went from being able to go to my attic at night, to only going during the day, to only going there during the day with someone else, to not wanting to go up there AT ALL. EVER.

Alastor1BEnter my mother. She is a neat nick. I am not. My son took the attic over and now everything’s scattered willy-nilly. Actually, I can’t put all the blame on him. Sometimes I’d run up there, grab what I needed and flee, scattering things about in my path as I rushed to get back down the stairs.

My mother’s been itching to get to that attic since she’s gotten here. Yesterday she finally began. Gulp. Today I’m going to help her. What help I can give, with my bat-spotting Mad-Eye Moody don’t-focus-on-any-one-thing eyes that I get when I’m in a place where I know bats have been.

Wish Us Luck. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, please: Somebody check the attic…

Two Prongs, Infinity Trouble


Suffering Sucotash! This little stinker has given me grief!

Is it just me, or were evil forces afoot when it came to inventing this here little halogen light bulb? For months and months now, I’ve been working in extreme dark or the blinding light of my overhead, three bright bulb ceiling fan!

My little desk lamp bulb burnt out, and I haven’t been able to find the right replacement since! Several tries, several fails. Thankfully, it only took one attempt to learn that even if there’s just THIS ” (<-between those two quote lines) much difference, the bulb will not work.

CA13081Since then, I’ve written down aaaallll the little numbers in my lamp – having confidently thrown the burnt out bulb away – only to finally get to a store that carries them, to discover that no such numbers exist! “We need WATTS, no VOLTS!” the tiny packages cry.

bulb4wStill, in good faith, I plunk down my cash for these little monstrosities, only to get to my middle-of-nowhere beloved home, and! FAIL. Another attempt when I venture into civilization weeks later. FAIL.

Some day. Some day, my darling. I shall go towards the (right) light (bulb)!

bulb5Tonight at midnight! NEW Chapter 26 Split Pea. That’s my favorite soup! It’s no mystery at all to me that there’s an entire restaurant devoted to this one little bowl of green goodness.

The mayor of Rolfe (I run in fancy circles, what can I say? Also, I’m a name-dropper), who is a soup aficionado might disagree, but I LOVE it.

A Love Note…

…to all who read this blog. And a thank you to all of the secret fairies out there! I wish you all a very happy Valentine’s Day. And may all your wildest dreams come true.

vvalHappy Friday!