damn damn damages – or – art show woes.

I recently had a piece in a show at my local art center where I’ve been a member for several years. The show was kinda special in that (some of) the proceeds were to benefit a local animal rescue. I sculpted my dog, Loki. Worked hard on the little piece and my work earned an “Honorable Mention” at the show, where a fun time was had by all. Here’s a look at my girl…


So come time to pick her up from the center and nobody can locate her. I went on down to the studio figuring they’d find her and let me know. What ensued was bizarre and troubling. Here’s what happened:

When they broke down the show, my sculpture was mistakenly sent to another artist living somewhere in Montana or Michigan (the location is unclear but distant).

She was packed poorly and damaged during shipping. Here is what they did:


Loki was sent back to the center in a too small box and given back to me. The center’s executive director promised they would reimburse me for damages but later, reneged. If I wanted to be reimbursed the value (minus 40%), I would have to give them my sculpture for disposal. Really? If I wanted to keep her, I get nothing. So, you take my artwork, ship it out of state, break it, and then tell me I must resign it to the trash heap?


I was told that this is the same as if she’d sold.
It’s not.

It was mentioned that I was very fond of it and didn’t want it to sell anyway.

They then offered me 30% of the value and I could keep my artwork because they felt sorry for me, but would be changing their liability policy so that if anyone failed to pick up their work on the last day of the show, they would not be covered. Yeah, that’s right. I’m a member. I work in the studio downstairs. I pay dues. I had the flu on pickup day and you can’t hold her or put her on my shelf? This somehow caused you to allow a moron to handle artwork and ship it willy nilly wherever? And blaming the artist will make it all better?
I say, fuck you, art center.

Basically, where it stands is here. I want to continue working with my sculpture guru and the great group of super talented sculptors, so I will take your paltry 30%, continue working in the studio, but that will be the extent of my involvement or support of the art center. I will never participate in shows, exhibitions or events again. I mean really…who would want to entrust their hard work in the hands of people who don’t understand or appreciate art?

Art is not just a commodity. Art is not something you toss out in the dust bin.

Art is blood, sweat, tears, love, hate, beauty and joy to the world and anybody that doesn’t understand that is a bloody moron and not to be trusted.

Here’s my sculpture, “Waiting to Play,” repaired but not the same. I used epoxy to put her back together then filled in the cracks with Bondo (the stuff they use in body shops), built up and modeled the crushed foot, then matched up the patina. She not perfect and can’t be sold or exhibited, ¬†but at least she’s resting comfortably at home.


happy anniversary

as of april 1, day of fools, brni and i will have been married 13 years and been together for 19 years. it’s been positively prime. ūüėČ

the hole in the cellar

There are places in the night while I dream that are real. I visit them intermittently but with enough regularity that I know them when I’m there.

There’s the place deep in the darkest, dankest corner of the cellar — a cellar that is rather sprawling with lots of rooms and a huge, professional, restaurant-style kitchen full of well-used stainless steel counters, ovens, blackened gas cook tops, and cooks. Yes, there are people down there cooking all the time. They know me because this is my cellar.

Past the kitchens, the linoleum on the floor becomes broken and crumbly, until it finally gives way to stained, pitted cement. The ceiling is lower here, so even I have to crouch a bit to make my way through. The walls close in to form a narrow, dark hallway which turns sharply to the right. At the end of the hallway — more of a tunnel really with walls and floor given over to tightly compacted, damp dirt — there is a crevice-like opening. It is easily missed as there’s no light hanging from the dirt ceiling here.

Shimmy sideways through this opening, you will enter into a small but complicated cavern with mud-made columns resembling termite towers beset with little depressions, shelves, niches, and secret hidy-holes. The cavern is lit, but it’s not clear where the light is coming from. The soft, creamy light sort of emanates from within the walls. From the dirt. In some spots it sparkles like mica.

There are three of these rooms, set back but without regard to regular rectangular room configurations. They just sort of veer off each other at odd angles, always going deeper into the earth. It’s easy to get lost here, but I know the way because I’ve lived here all my life.

This is where I keep the special and rare Christmas ornaments. The ones that are old — some older than Christmas — and full of magic.

Havana cat gargoyle

This little gargoyle sculpture was commissioned by a friend who raises Havana cats, which are these amazingly lean, long-legged cats with rich brown coats and striking green eyes. I hope I did them justice.




Loki and her ball

Loki has a favorite ball. It’s a red ball that flashes light when it is moved, jostled, or nudged. My cousin, Donna gave her this ball many years ago — at least 8 or so. We’re all amazed that the flashy thing inside still works.

Loki doesn’t really like playing fetch. She has her own way of playing ball. She gets the ball of choice, runs up to the human she has decided needs her attention, and growls menacingly. This is her invitation to the human to try and get the ball. As you go to take it from her, the pitch and volume of her growl grows and she does her best imitation of an attack monster-dog defending her young. If you back off or try to ignore her, she will continue to close in, eventually nudging your hand or dropping the ball in your lap while continuing to growl with gusto, as if to say, “stupid human, you are supposed to grasp the ball with your hand and pull on it while it’s in my mouth. Hasn’t anyone taught you how to play?”

Sometimes she will go to a spot in the room or out on the deck with the ball or other toy in her mouth, sit facing the humans with the hope that they will notice she wants to play. If they fail to notice after a certain amount of time (say, a few minutes), she will drop the ball with a sigh and stare at you with the saddest look I’ve ever seen on the face of a most well-loved dog.

So, I sculpted Loki waiting with her ball. She’s done in red, outdoor sculpture clay with a pigmented wax patina. It doesn’t do her justice.


I’ve entered her in a juried art show and I really hope she gets in. I also hope to get up some better photos of the piece to put up on Flickr and my website. But for now, here’s Loki, waiting to play.

Another view plus a detail of the head below.
Waiting to Play


birthday bah

i do not want to complain, but …
my birthday doesn’t even warrant proper capitalization. the effort at this point is just not worth it.

the night before my birthday, which was today  (so the night before was last night) was okay until my younger son called me. he needed help getting his social security card replaced. a quick web search informed us that we could do that at the county courthouse. i had tentative plans to lounge around, take a hot, soaky, bubbly bath and then go to the studio, but that was easily changed to help the kid.

later that night the older son called to complain about his life. bitterly. these things are not only upsetting to hear, they are exhausting. so i went to bed relatively early to blot it all out and be ready for the younger son’s arrival around 9am.

and i waited.
until noon.
called. texted. waited. got annoyed.

long story short, when younger son called back, i was no longer fit to drive so brni volunteered to take him to the courthouse, which was open until 3 pm. that is, until some time in the near past where some underpaid worker pasted a sticker over the 3. the sticker said noon.

so, no lounging around, no bubbly bath, no studio, no social security replacement card. birthday is not looking so good. my mood was not happy. my mood was rather dark and prickly.

when brni felt my prickles had softened some, he told me he wanted to take me out to dinner for my birthday. i bristled at the word, “birthday” but said okay. we went to a cute local place around the corner that serves good food and frufru drinks, but also beer.

it was closed. as in, closed-for-business-forever.

this birthday is not boding well. this birthday really sucks.

went home. brni went and bought me booze. i raided the fridge for leftover frozen shit. maybe i’ll play lotro.


down in the depths of the little house

so, something that i have no control over, possessed me to start fixing/organizing/cleaning the basement YET AGAIN. got a good start on it with only one meltdown about never-throwing-anything-away-kill-me-now. turned into a rather nice time watching and chatting with brni while he upboxed and organized all our vinyl and put them in our makeshift modular unit.
all in all, it is a good start.
now i think i’ll take a lovely scented bath and maybe smear some soothing, mind-altering salve on my skin.

seeds and feet

Today I worked outside for a few hours. In shirtsleeves. In January. Rosemary doesn’t overwinter here, but since the weather is no longer normal, one plant overwintered last year and so I moved a large pot of rosemary next to the house and sheltered it hoping it will survive the eventual cold snap. That’s all we get now in the winters here…snaps of cold.

I found a fresh rabbit’s foot while cleaning up the backyard. Thought I might preserve the offering, but then thought of the cats in the house and how resourceful they are. Foot goes back to ground.

Then I washed and filled little pots with the compost/soil mixture I made and put them in the sunroom window with seeds of herbs and cold weather greens in hopes of germination.

Then I put chicken wire over the pots in hopes of repelling resourceful cats.

updating things not just online

So, I have decided to update my website galleries. As I get more serious (about time?) about trying to make a living with my artwork, I figured the first step would be to get the images of my stuff current. With prices.

This will probably lead to all sorts of sitting at the computer, maybe devoting this WordPress blog to be more artful, maybe a different blog devoted only to art? Maybe a new FB page?

odear, the possibilities of doing all sorts of things that are not actually making art. argh.

Of course, there needs to be more time devoted to actually making the art. My sister and I are hatching plans to create actual marketable art things — you know, artsy ornaments, jewelry — that sort of thing. Who knows, maybe an Etsy or Ebay store could be in our future?

and then there’s the problem that i thoroughly and totally suck at sales and marketing.

so many maybes up there.
anyway…go look at the slightly new and hopefully improved galleries and let me know what you think.

ogod i just realized that if anyone buys anything i have to figure out how to pack and ship art without it breaking.

Cherry Picker

Ceramic clay, black iron oxide wash finished with pigmented wax patina.

Finishing the crow yesterday made me realize how much I want to concentrate on ceramic sculpture at this time.

I’ve experimented lately with oil clay as a temporary medium for later casting. I enjoy working in oil clay but it is so expensive to have molds made and casting into a permanent material — well, it’s simply not feasible for me.

I also tried carving in stone and really really like it, but again, there are problems for me. My hands can’t take it. The arthritis in my thumbs is simply not amused by all the pounding and bashing. Workspace is a big issue with all the shards and dust stone carving creates. I’d have to work in the driveway, which is thoroughly unappealing to me (wishing for that garage or studio–someday). And it takes forever! I don’t think I’ll live long enough to do more than a couple pieces.

And anyway, I love the feel of earthen clay. It’s cool, pliable, grounding and quirky.

So, as soon as my current obligations are met, I will not be taking on any more illustration work and will concentrate on experimenting with ceramic sculpture and developing a strong body of work.

and well…. I just like playing in the mud.

Ceramic clay, black iron oxide wash finished with pigmented wax patina.

Ceramic clay, black iron oxide wash finished with pigmented wax patina.

Ceramic clay, black iron oxide wash finished with pigmented wax patina.

Ceramic clay, black iron oxide wash finished with pigmented wax patina.

Ceramic clay, black iron oxide wash finished with pigmented wax patina.

Ceramic clay, black iron oxide wash finished with pigmented wax patina.

i really should do this more often


It’s been a while since I’ve felt good enough, unstressed enough and just plain interested enough to write about anything in my life at all. But today, after months of gathering bids for redoing our bathroom, I have finally received a bid that is reasonable from someone I trust. My plumber of all people does bathroom remodels. Who knew?

He sent us to the local (again with the local–I love it) plumbing supply store to look over the tubs, toilets and other sundries. The prices were far higher than those of Home Despot — er — Home Depot, so Brni and I were a little worried that we’d be looking at even more money out than the last guy who’s bid was (we thought) outrageous. The other guy we asked a bid from never bothered to get back to us, and good thing too, because after he left, I turned to Brni and said, “I don’t think we’re his kind of people. He reminds me of the insurance salesman who tried to hoodwink me into buying an annuity.”


Not two hours after we picked out the things that make a bathroom something more than an outhouse, our plumber called. His price for the job was significantly less than Home Depot’s price. He said he tries to be competitive. I said, this is good, but now we have to factor in the tile. He said, that includes the tile as long as it’s not more than $3 a square foot.”

I choked down a gasp of sheer joy.

So this is why I feel like communicating. It looks like we will be able to afford to redo the bathroom without taking out a loan.


This little turn of this little tide has made me feel that maybe–just maybe–we will be able to do other things that real grownups do. Things like, go on vacation! It’s only 12 years overdue. I may actually hire an animal sitter to feed and water the cats, bird and iguana, take my dog and drive out to Arizona for The Traditions of Western Herbalism Conference in September. Brni said if I take Loki, he’ll fly out and meet me in NM and we’ll take it from there.

Which means I now get to shop for the perfect tent so that we can camp out instead of pay for motels, which will be how we pay for the pet sitter. heh…

It just might end up to be all good.

christmas morning

cthulhu frostyxmas mornxmas morn-2xmas morn-4xmas morn-5xmas morn-6
xmas morn-7xmas morn-8xmas morn-9xmas morn-10xmas morn-11loki present-1
loki present-2loki present-4loki present-3loki present-5loki present-6loki present-7
loki present-8loki present-9loki present-10loki present-11brni's flying bunnybrni's golden spider web

xmas 2011, a set on Flickr.

a father/son christmas with some pictures of ornaments and a somewhat heretical nativity scene.

in the aftermath of irene

Hurricane Irene garnered immense media coverage. The local television stations preempted all programming to bring us non-stop coverage of the storm before it happened. The weather dudes were all over this. Honestly, after watching hours and hours of the hurricane forecasts, I may have enough hours to get a degree in meteorology. This storm was huge and the news coverage was huger. Really huger, and I totally meant to type huger. Irene even eclipsed good grammar.

I sat transfixed as the anchor and pretty co-anchor on Action News reported as we saw a live picture of the Philadelphia skyline, “You are now seeing what so many are experiencing right now. Gray skies and lots and lots of rain.” The pretty little co-anchor then exclaimed, “Pelting rain. I experienced this myself today.” A stunning example of the in depth and truly gutsy journalism we were subjected to.

Our fearless leaders all over the Mid-Atlantic worked tirelessly to close down the cities, evacuate citizens and shut down mass transit in anticipation of the devastation to come. New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York City and other locales up and down the I-95 corridor declared states of emergency before the first raindrops fell. Not only did they shut down everything, they were kind enough to explain to the frightened public exactly what to do to prepare for the worst. This was not just your average bread, milk and eggs run on the grocery stores, no this was all out, hunker down in the bunker with three days worth of water, canned goods, and toilet paper.

Here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, people were out in droves making preparations to weather the biggest hurricane in 50 years. I’m embarrassed to admit, we started our preparations too late. A full day before the storm hit, there was not a battery or flashlight to be found at Home Depot, CVS, or even ACME.¬† As I spent my time hauling all our deck furniture, plants, bird feeders and other potential projectiles down to grotto under our sunroom, Brni secured the trash cans and tested the gas generator. We even identified the safest place in the basement to hunker down in case the hurricane spawned tornadoes. But we forgot to get D batteries before the stores sold out.

I was terrified.

Now that it’s all over, I feel it important to record pictorially for posterity, the damage in the aftermath of this massive and deadly storm that we suffered in my tiny quarter acre of suburbia. We feel lucky to be alive.

There is a stream at the edge of our property. Not only did it flood its banks, but it started creeping up the southern side of the gully. We feel lucky that it only dislodged a couple of discarded bricks.

Lost harvest
lost harvest 2
Tomato on the ground and half eaten by a nearly drowned chipmunk.

Birdbath destruction
birdbath destruction
Not only is this birdbath on its side, but all the water has been spilled. This was a prime mosquito nesting site. Lost. All lost.

Fallen twigs and leaves
deck devastation 2
Would you look at the size of that twig? We’re lucky the deck held.

weird projectile
This pointy tree-thing could have put out someone’s eye!

downed twigs 2
Thank god no one was standing on the walk when these came down.

Fallen rake
fallen rake
We will pick this up!

Yes, there were areas hit with more severe flooding, power outages, damage and sadly, some loss of life. My heartfelt sympathies go out to those who have suffered, and I am truly grateful that we got away easy on this one. Almost makes up for the media overkill.

missing my yard

I’m starting to think that I’m either missing something very basic, something that is maybe key to everything or there’s something I’ve lost. I think this because recently I’ve been plagued by disturbing dreams at night and then during the day I sometimes find myself standing in the middle of a room with the distinct feeling that something is missing.

My life feels out of focus. The world seems to be all blurry around the edges. Just a little over a year ago, things were crisp and very clear to me. All the parts of my life were fitting nicely in place — the irons were in the fire and the ducks were all lined up neatly in a row.

and now they are not.

This morning I decided that part of this feeling of loss is being made worse because I haven’t been able to lose myself outside. When I work in the yard, I enter a place that is private, wordless, sensual. It’s the same place I go to when I sculpt or paint. I lose myself in the yard and feel more present, more alive, more connected. Losing myself is where I find my place. But, we’ve had so much rain lately, that it’s been impossible to do any yard work. The few times I have gone outside, the mosquitoes have been relentless. I haven’t been able to spend more than a few minutes in the yard without being eaten alive. And ya know those all-natural-no-toxic insect repellents? They are not fooling these mosquitoes, no way.

So since the day today was so lovely — warm not hot, dry not humid or raining, I took the opportunity to clean out the grotto of accumulated junk. The “grotto” is just the bricked in space outside the basement door in the back, which I believe was the original brick patio which is located under our little sun room, which was the original back porch. One of these days, I want to turn the grotto into a cool, romantic outdoor room but right now it’s the place where we keep the lawn mower, garden tools and other assorted junk that we probably don’t need.

but first, i sprayed my whole self with deet.

and then i took some pictures of my yard.

my tortoise sculpture peeking out


jimsonweed flower


if it’s friday, it’s broken

There are some things in life that I can always count on. The sun comes up every day whether I’m miserable or not. No matter how bad things are, they can always be worse. I’ve tested this theory repeatedly and found it to be true. My animals only have medical emergencies on Sunday nights during inclement weather and major appliances, electrical and plumbing systems break after 5pm on Fridays.

This evening I created a new dish in order to use up some of the summer squash bounty. I set the oven to preheat and then took a large squash and two medium potatoes and sliced them thinly. Then I put a handful of fresh parsley and another handful of fresh basil, a large pinch of red pepper flakes and put them in the blender with about a 1/2 cup of olive oil and pulsed it til well blended. I put all this in one of those white, french gratin dishes (a deepish one), threw in some salt, pepper, a 1/2 cup or so of freshly grated parmesan cheese and mixed it all up with my hands. I topped that with course bread crumbs and dotted the whole thing w/butter.

Then I put the dish in a cold oven.


I saw this as an opportunity to slam the door as I left the house to feed my neighbors cat since she’s down the shore. When I came back, Brni had taken the oven apart and determined that the heating coil that triggers the ignition for the gas was dead. Gas ovens can no longer be lit with a match because we can no longer be trusted to use our ovens safely. We are still allowed to light the stovetop burners with matches, but for some reason, we are not to be trusted to light our ovens.

And it’s Friday night.

Last Friday night the kitchen sink stopped up. I thought it was the stupid garbage disposal, but apparently it was stopped up all the way down to the sewer pipe. The plumber charged me $200 to clear my sink because it was the weekend.

Luckily, I still have the microwave that came with the house. Now, I’ve never used it to cook anything before — it mostly warms up cold coffee and sometimes it melts butter or heats up frozen burritos. I had no clue as to how to cook real food in it and frankly, the idea scared me, but I had all this food in the gratin dish and no oven to cook it in. So, I set it to nuke the food for 5 minutes at 50% power. After the beep, I checked for doneness. I did this many times until the food seemed cooked. Then I put the whole thing under the broiler (yes, the broiler part of the oven works…it has it’s own ignition coil thingy). Amazingly, the dish was delicious and the tomato, pepper & basil salad I’d made was the perfect accompaniment.

The oven will remain broken until Monday.

connecting …

Eve Ensler on finding her body.

joining in

by this time tomorrow, our corner of the woods will be joining in on the heat wave that has so much of the country in its grip. we haven’t had rain since last friday, if i remember correctly, and i’m not so sure the predicted storms will amount to much. seems like whenever the weather dudes predict rain lately, it sorta skirts around us.

but for now, it’s a warm, breezy, gorgeous day outside. which is where i’m heading right now….cuzz after this, i’m probably going to be staying indoors as much as possible. i don’t do so well when it hits the 100 mark.

art show

So, we went to the art show opening tonight to find out that my sculpture, “gargoyle dog” won the Merion Art Repro¬†award. The piece was also smack dab in the center of the room so it was the first thing you see when you walk into the gallery.

To say I’m surprised is really an understatement. This photo isn’t all that flattering to the piece, but well, what can ya do with a camera phone? There are better shots of this in an earlier post and also on Flickr.

Here’s a closeup through flickr. The color of this is much closer to the actual color of the sculpt.

dog gargoyle by linda saboe

suddenly, the world moved over here

well, not the whole world, just the small part of my world that was on livejournal.

There was no real reason for this move except that I haven’t bothered posting publicly on Livejournal for quite a while. No real reason for that either. I just lost the habit I suppose. And then I got notification of the yearly fee for my journal and well, since I’m hardly ever using it anymore, it seemed reasonable to do something else. So this is something else. WordPress seems like a decent blogging atmosphere and somehow more “grown up” than LJ. Plus it has a nice import feature that enabled me to get my stuff from LJ copied here. Nice feature!

I’m hoping to talk more about art, wildlife and nature in general and maybe not so much about the personal stuff that seemed to makeup the bulk of what’s over at Livejournal (but, ya never know, at least I don’t).

A few things happening now that I’d like to share….

My husband, his friend A.C. Wise and I have put together a new online magazine called The Journal of Unlikely Entomology of which the first issue has garnered some rather nice comments.

We created the journal to be “a new literary market for fiction that delves into the world of things that creep and crawl and explores the limits of what it means to be human” (from the about page). The Journal will be published biannually in May and November, with the possibility of an additional “roving mini-issue” some time during the year. There’s also a blog associated with it, Grump’s Journal, if you are interested in finding out more about the contributing authors and artists. The blog will include announcements, calls for submissions as well as guest bloggers.


Today is the opening of The Wayne Art Center’s student show, in which I have one small sculpture. I’ve included a picture of it below…but if you are local to the area, please drop by the center and take a look at all the works. There are a lot of very talented people working at the center, and the gallery space at the center is really quite nice.

an auspicious solstice

Happy Solstice to all those near and far and dear to me. I’m preparing to go outside in about half an hour, start a fire in the chiminea and sit back with a glass of whiskey and watch this rare solstice, total lunar eclipse. I’ll be by myself, but I’ll be thinking of all of you, and preparing for a new and better year.

In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy this holiday card I made. Some have been printed up and sent to family and friends. If you click on the picture, it will take you to my flickr page. Click on “Actions” above the picture and then, “All sizes” to see a larger version or the original (really large) size.

polarbearcard 2010

Happy Solstice everyone!

on becoming a patient

For weeks I’ve been thinking there was something wrong w/my GI tract. Pain, up high, mostly on the left side under my ribs. What’s there? Heart, lung, spleen, part of the stomach and pancreas. But pain can be referred, so possibly any of the major organs that are jammed up in there. Everything I tried seemed to make no difference, going on a blandish diet, lots of nicely cooked leafy things, home cooked soups, nettle infusions, carrot juice. Soothing herbs for the tummy like slippery elm, catnip, chickweed. Dandelion, milk thistle, yellow dock for the liver…nothing seemed to make a difference. So, finally, in desperation, I go to the doctor. She did blood work and ordered an ultra sound of the abdomen. Everything seemed fairly normal except for some fatty deposits on the liver. I promptly quit drinking alcohol. She suggested I see a gut specialist, but none of them could see me for before December.

Then, yesterday, the whole area seized up. I could not move without severe, spasmodic pain. I couldn’t breathe, laugh or cry or even draw, type or drive. Walking my neighbor’s dog or going to my sculpture class were right out. The doctor said to get myself to the ER.

The last time I went to the emergency room, I had broken my foot. The place was packed with damaged limbs, broken heads, ice packs and compresses spilling out into the hallway. I hopped over to the reception desk, leaned over some bruised and bleeding people trying to see what was on the television across the hall, and asked, “How long is the wait?” The receptionist said, “I don’t know how long you will be waiting, but see that woman in the chair over there? She’s next in line. She’s been waiting three and a half hours and no one has seen her yet.” I hopped back over to the door and told Brni, “Take me home. I can fix my foot myself.”

No such luck this time. At noon, the ER was practically empty and they took me back within minutes. Once through the locking security doors that swing open towards you after an authorized person swipes their card (homeland security has hit suburban hospitals), you are a patient. I’m not sure doctors, nurses, lab techs, and physician assistants ever talk to each other, because every one of them had to ask me the same things including, “What’s your name?” “What’s your date of birth?” “Why are you here instead of at your sculpture class?”

I understand the need to make sure that the right patient is being treated for the right problem, but dudes…read the damned wrist bracelet and the chart on the wall, k?”

Anyway, because of all the organs and such all jammed up in my painful abdomen, and the fact that the pain is mostly on the left side, I get to have an IV stuck in my arm (after 4 tries–my veins were “flat”), blood syphoned off, lots of leads glued to my chest and am hooked up to a monitor so that anyone and their brother can see my heart rate, oxygen levels and blood pressure. I am obviously not having a heart attack since the nurse kept muttering, “Wish I had that heart rate.” This does not stop them from doing an EKG.

*did you all know that saline solution pushed into a vein tastes briny? kind of a cool mouth rush. yeah, i get my kicks where i can*

Being a patient means that you get to wait. You wait to be seen. You wait for test results. You wait for nurses, techs, doctors and bad news or most likely, befuddledness, but mostly you wait to find out whether you get to go home or not.

After about two hours my blood work came back and showed that I had a possible blood clot in the lung. Okay, I wasn’t waiting for THAT. Hey, I was thinking a blockage, pancreatitis, a tumor somewhere, but blood clots? People die from that. So, next up, Xray of the chest and then a CT scan of the chest and abdomen, but not before I get results telling them my kidneys are okay because you can’t inject contrast dye into someone with fucked up kidneys. So we wait…and wait…and wait. We wait until 5:20 because some little old lady drove her car into the back of some other car, biting down on her tongue, causing a traumatic event that backed up the lab and the CT scanner. I know this despite Hipaa privacy rules.


Contrast dye is cool. In fact, despite the massive dose of radiation from CT scanners, the whole CT thing was weirdly interesting, reminding me of something out of a SciFi 3000 lab. The thing is a big, white, shiny donut, seemingly suspended in the cleanest room I’ve ever seen. For some reason, there is a happy face and a frowny face on it. They light up. The very personable tech, Joe, transfers me from the gurney to the sliding CT table, which is made up like a very low, white massage table complete with poofy pillow and knee wedge, all the while regaling me with humorous tequila drinking stories. Joe then hooks me up to the contrast dye infusion apparatus, which consists of two clear glass containers with spiral tubing coming out of them (I really like the spiral tubing–nice touch).

Joe leaves to go sit behind a distant glass wall. The little massage table starts moving back and forth, the donut starts to hum and whirl, the frowny face flashes and Joe cautions me to alternately breathe and hold my breath. A light starts flashing over one of the glass containers and then the telltale mouth rush of saline hits. After that, the light on the other container flashes. There’s a burning and pressure in my arm, then a seriously warm flush starts at the top of my head and flows down my body to my genitals, which for all the world feels as if I’ve just wet myself. And then the feeling is gone, the bed is no longer moving and the donut stops whirling. I have not wet myself.

After another 30 or 40 minutes, the results are in. No blood clots. No heart problems. No problems with any of my organs. No idea what is causing my pain. Seven hours after becoming a patient, I am released back into the world with 15 percocet, orders not to lift anything, and to see my doctor in a day or two.

I wonder how long it will take me to pee out the dye.

ghosts, herbs, biting burros

I tend not to board planes to go places, but when we had to cancel our road trip to take care of my sister, I had no choice but to go to the Traditions in Western Herbalism Conference by airship. Happily, the flights to and from were uneventful (though I lost half my potions when the security dudes decided to stick the one quart baggie rule on me. But being so high from the conference still, nothing so minor as the one quart rule could bring me down. A week later, I’m still feeling the love.

The conference was held at the Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, NM, former home of Georgia O’Keefe. The weekend was filled with an amazing, feral energy that imbued an already enchanting landscape with a magic that only herbalists and wizards can conjure. Organized by Kiva Rose, Jesse Wolf Hardin and Resolute, the conference brought together an array of herbalists from all over the country. The featured presenters were Rosemary Gladstar, Matthew Wood, Phyllis Hogan, Kiva Rose, Paul Bergner, Charles Garcia, Phyllis Light, Jesse Wolf Hardin, 7Song, Jim McDonald and Howie Brounstein. There were many other guest presenters as well as vendors and three nights of amazing music performed by Flamenco World Company, Tina Collins & Her Pony and the now official TWH band, Rising Appalachia.

Two incredible teachers who inspired me are Kiva Rose and the uproariously humorous 7Song.
kiva-7song closeup

And of course, Jesse Wolf Hardin. I had an image of him as serious and unapproachable, but in fact, he’s a very huggable and goofy guy with an astounding and inspiring message for all of us. I hope to visit The Anima Center one day to spend time with and learn more from Wolf, Kiva, and the rest of their family.

Going to New Mexico is going home for me. I lived there for almost a decade back in the 60s and 70s. My body feels good in the high desert and my mind feels at ease under that big, expansive sky. I had my first born there. It’s where I hope to be when I die.

I’d never been to the Ghost Ranch when I lived in New Mexico — had never ventured that far north. Unlike Santa Fe and Albuquerque, the northern Spanish land grant region has not been built up and run over with malls, markets and trendy shops. On my way to the ranch I had to pull over several times to photograph the land. Here are some shots off I-25 North.


With its spectacular mountains and rock formations, unobstructed by tall buildings, populated by ravens, vultures and little blue-tail lizards, I spent a lot of time catching my breath in awe. For a visual artist, this country is simply astounding. I understand why Georgia O’Keefe kept a home there. Add to that, the energy generated by the conference, the experience was awe-inspiring.

This mesa dominates the ranch.

During the conference, I made notes of places I wanted to revisit and photograph. I like to take photos after an event for some reason, as if catching echoes. Wherever you turn on the ranch, you find little surprises, if you look for them.

Here’s a sweet adobe bench with surprises inlaid on the back.



A very tall carving of St. Francis.

Chimes to pleasure the birds and burros.


A labyrinth! The first I’ve ever walked. I built a small altar for my sister on one of the center stones.

Things are wonderfully low-tech on the ranch. No cell reception and I refused to bring the tiny laptop my husband so sweetly offered. So, here are some “road signs.” Who needs a GPS?

One of the guest houses.

The dining hall.

This friendly, old swayback would follow a person closely, allowing pets and nuzzles, but really just wanting some food. When she determined no food was available, she’d follow someone else.

A pretty corner in the old “Ghost House.”

An irrepressible cottonwood.

Where I slept on the “upper mesa.”

My bed — packing to go home.

One view from my room.

And in the other direction, this is the first thing I saw in the morning.

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my sister’s broken heart

I find that when a truly awful, traumatic thing happens, I cannot find solace on the internet. I can email a friend or two, poke around on Facebook, but no way can I “talk” about it there. I am finding it excruciatingly difficult to even write about it here. When the truly awful, traumatic thing happens to my sister, my heart simply clenches. She’s with me now, dazed, confused, traumatized, devastated. She stares blankly, unmoving, with her hand gently covering her mouth. And she cries in sudden bursts that wrench my soul.

The only reason I’m writing now is to try and unclench my heart by moving my fingers so that maybe tonight I can get the first real sleep that has been denied both of us for the past three days. Tomorrow the hard work of dissolution begins. I doubt she’ll get through more than one or two things on the very long list of mundane horrors.

How do you tell someone you love that happiness will come again someday when you don’t believe it yourself?

This past year has brought many endings for my family. This past year I have found a capacity for hatred deep inside me that I simply did not think was possible. Hatred for those who hurt others to preserve their personal myths, for those who refuse to admit their faults, for those who when faced with their own bad behavior, blame and slander others with lies of denial. But I’ve never felt this much hatred for anyone, as I do for the cowardly cretin who destroyed my sister. If curses are possible, there is a very mean one on his head.

how i spend my sunday afternoons

feeding raccoons!


adolescent raccoons, group 2

adolescent raccoons, group 1

and skunks.


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