Tag Archives: brni

first day with baked goods

this was the first day of the new sculpture session after the holiday break. it was nice to be back in the studio among artists and friends. we have two new students this session…one is an accomplished sculptor and the other is brand new to clay and working in three dimensions.

i brought the heron in to finesse the details and then set on slats to dry before firing. everyone seemed to like this latest effort. jennifer said that i’m pushing the limits of what clay can do with that long snaky neck. we’ll see if it makes it through firing. i think this year i’ll be looking at water birds, herons, pelicans, cormorants and the like. i started a pelican today which i’m fairly pleased with at this point. i think i’ll be needing extra studio time this session. i have a lot of birds in my brain, so i need to release them and once a week is just not enough.

this was also the first day i left brni alone since his surgery almost two weeks ago. i was a bit nervous about it. it’s hard to take care of someone 24/7 and then leave them, even for a mere three hours. of course, he was fine when i got home and i’m sure it was probably a relief to him not to have me hovering over him.

our friend, jack came by for a visit bearing a box of baked confections…cannoli, a lovely little fruit tart and a very chocolatey thing that found it’s way on brni’s dessert dish. thank you, dear jack.

an end to my enslavement with a bird on top

We received a letter and packing slip in the mail, informing us that I have won my freedom from the Iceman. The cords will be forever cut and the demanding cooler will be shipped back to it’s place of origin on Monday. From that day forward, Brni’s shoulder will wear bags of frozen peas and I will allow whatever ice is left to melt in the sun. An offering tinged with a smirk and a freeing shrug.

So, it’s been ten days since Brni’s shoulder surgery and he’s doing phenomenally well. He had his second PT session yesterday and his therapist was practically giddy with his progress. At the same time, Brni’s mood has lifted a great deal, almost as if a switch has been flipped. He’s looking and acting more like himself. Definitely coming out of the anesthesia/drug induced doldrums. I find it almost magical how a body can go through so much and heal so quickly.

It’s an amazing process, but one I hope very few of us need go through. But, if you do, I hope you are surrounded by love and kindness, for that is the true healing salve.

And, as Brni heals, my head turns to look at the lump of clay waiting for me on my work table. This one might be a bird, maybe a heron stretching her neck to the heavens.

busy and crazy and hopeful

I’m so tired. It’s surprising what a toll it takes on a person to care for another who is infirm or disabled or just indisposed. What is strange is that everything I’m doing, I do normally throughout the course of the day. I make coffee, get breakfast, lunch, dinner. I straighten, clean, make the bed, feed the animals, etc. The only additional tasks are emptying and filling the “iceman,” hooking Brni up to the machine, extra errands for things like bandages, thermometers, ice, ginger ale, etc. And watching over (hovering?) Brni to make sure he’s O-K-A-Y.

[That’s the real thing of it. The making sure he’s okay. Making sure he’s taking his meds, comfortable, clean, fed and watered. To all my nurse-friends out there, I bow my head to you.]

In the everyday, no-surgery world, Brni does an amazing amount of work around here. I honestly had not realized how much until the past few days doing both my stuff as well as his stuff. And I’ve begun to realize that his stuff is way more than I thought. I’m coming away from this with a new respect for the usual, every day chores that Brni does just as a matter of course. I guess it takes something like this to open our eyes to the little things that take up time and really do matter.

So, yeah, I’m tired and stressed with the added responsibility, but I’m also happy to do it. It’s a good kind of tired and the stress is worth it if it means Brni can get through his day without constant pain. Tomorrow is his first physical therapy session–the next step on the path of healing.

Wish us luck.

the iceman cometh

pictures of life post brni’s shoulder surgery. here’s the “iceman” which is essentially a small beer cooler with a fish tank pump in it. this is the thing that has enslaved me. i fill it to the brim with ice, fill again with water enough to cover the bottom of the pump, hook up the massive blue hoses to brni’s shoulder pad and then plug it in. it whines frigid water up into the shoulder pad, keeping brni’s shoulder from swelling and reeking havoc. he needs to be hooked up to this 24/7 for 2 weeks. i love fishing ice out of the cooler out on the deck at 4:30 in the morning. it’s what i live for.


this is what happens to a brni when linked to the iceman.


today we removed the dressing for the first time. it looks like the surgeon was unable to save the top of brni’s sun tattoo, but to compensate, added some lovely purple marks of his own.


wow. this is a tiny tiny incision! amazing what they can do laproscopically, isn’t it?


but, no matter how bad things get, you can’t keep a good brni down…well, maybe down, but never offline.


brni’s left arm

a visual experience…


the break happened in 1993 when a semi decided not to stop at a red light, but brni’s car was in the way. there’s a story that goes with this…here it is:

Dead Souls

Brni’s story, The Collector featured in a new anthology, Dead Souls, will be out next month. Everyone should buy it and read his story so that we can be rich and famous like Stephen King.

my huzban, the writer-dude

ok….this is weird. brni is talking on the phone to his “editor/publisher lady.” they are going through his story line by line trying to make edits so that it will fit in the book. apparently, there is a max on numbers of pages.
it’s all a mystery to me.

brni wants tequila but we have none.
scotch. nada.
declined the cheap 100 proof vodka i use for making medicine.

some notes on recovery and a ramble about the wisdom of plants

My husband does everything for me. He feeds me, feeds the animals, goes shopping, cleans the house, cleans me! and has generally taken over all the big and small things of daily living. And, he doesn’t complain or show a whiff of irritation. I have failed to catch even a small sigh of regret. I thank him and my gratitude is laden with guilt and angst with a tinge of embarrassment coloring the edges.

Yesterday, I told him he should be proud of himself. He said, “There’s nothing to be proud about. I’m just doing what should be done. I’m just doing what is right.” I said, “I know others who would not be so patient and giving,” and my amazing husband said, “Then they should be ashamed.”

I do not know what I did to deserve such a person in my life, but I humbly thank the universe for my good fortune.


Bodies are amazing things. I’m so glad I have one that works so well. Granted, I feed it real food, but I’m not obsessive about it. I’ve done terrible things to it over the decades, especially back in the 60s and 70s…ok, I was pretty terrible to it in the 80s too, but not as wantonly as in the two decades previous. I got serious about yoga and started feeding it better in the 90s and with the turn of the century, I gained some wisdom and found my way back to a more earth-centered style of living. My studies of how to live with more kindness in my heart and a lighter foot on the earth has strengthened me in ways that I’m just now beginning to understand.


Two or three years ago I began studying herbalism in earnest. I chose to study in a tradition that spoke to me of the ancients, of old earth magic and lore, the Wise Woman Tradition. This gives me a real and deep connection with nature; a connection that is intimate and personal. I look at what is growing in my yard, in the woods close by, and choose the plants that have come to me of their own volition. I encourage these weeds of opportunity: dandelion, plantain, feverfew, St. John’s Wort, yellow dock, chicory and other “lawn weeds.” I plant perennial and annual herbs and flowers and vegetables that support me, my family and the birds and other critters who live here. I make my medicines from these humble but powerful allies.

If interested, read about my experiences with Poke

ma huzban is almost famous

so, brni has been reading this writer’s livejournal. apparently, the writer became aware of brni somehow and now! ma huzban is famous!


it’s about time more than the very few people intimately associated with ma huzban were given the treat of reading what he writes. i am truly happy for them. hopefully, they will have the good sense to drill down through his journal and find and read zoo music girl. it’s also about time that brni found out that i am right about his talent and skill.

i do so love being proved right.

happy birthday, and thanks for all the fish

last night, i went into the kitchen to make dinner. now, i can’t cook in a messy kitchen and brni has a habit of dumping stuff on the counter which means i MUST clear the counter before i can cook (even when the offending stuff is not in my way).

so i pick up a plastic shopping bag and ask brni, “what is this?” he says, “it’s your birthday present.” i am taken aback and exclaim, “we don’t DO birthday presents!” and i look in the bag. it’s a wacom tablet. i’ve wanted a wacom tablet for years!

i cry.

then he gives me another present — baccala!

for those of you who are not italian and are not initiated in italian foodways, baccala is salt-cured codfish. the fish is split, filleted, salted and hung to dry. it looks just like a large ping-pong paddle, only stinky.

in the old days, dried, salt-cured cod, or baccala, was found hung in the kitchen of every italian home. before cooking, the baccala was soaked in water for 3 days. the water was changed everyday to both hydrate the fish and rinse away the excess salt. after the baccala was all plumped up, it was cut into chunks and poached in a tomato, onion and pepper sauce. of course, every region had it’s own variation, but for the most part, this was the theme.

now, italian women, being very practical, had the concept of multi-tasking down before there was even a word for it. so, it’s no wonder that when the children were acting up they were threatened with the biggest, hardest thing at hand–baccala! this was such a common household weapon that baccala became slang for spanking.

“you want a baccala? no? then get out of here!”

the practice of hanging baccala in the kitchen died out a generation or two before i came along, but i grew up with the threat of baccala over my head just the same. i think i was a teenager before i knew that baccala wasn’t the english word for spanking.

and yesterday, brni gave me my first, real baccala. it’s real stinky, but it’s the best birthday present ever!

i think i know what i’ll be making for our anniversary dinner on april fools day.

brni’s road trip

brni seems to be the one taking over his boss’s schedule since he fell ill. so a little while ago, brni IM’d me abt his schedule (he’s down in annapolis right now). here’s what he sent:

schedule is looking like altoona tonight, stay over in altoona then home sat.
then to pittsburgh sunday
stay over in pitts
come home monday
early tuesday morning, go to norfolk
stay overnight in norfolk
head to richmond from there (wed) to get my ID badge for cavalier, and to visit cara
prolly stay overnight there, then head home thursday (maybe stop in DC on the way home to visit Chris if I can, and into annapolis as well)
will need to do another altoona trip when we get some additional gear, and another harrisburg trip
and a trip to ashburn, VA
and need to do some work in baltimore.

so i told him that if i ever want to see him again, i should quit my job now and rent the house out to lori and gordon. they can take care of loki and the other animals while we tape the new reality show, “network crimper.” i would tape him moving servers and crimping cables all over the mid-atlantic. since most of the crimping happens after midnight, we could have some very blair witchy flashlight effects.
it could be the next big tv event!
stay tuned…

high definition woes

our living room isn’t done up in the typical, matching, department store decor. it’s an ecclectic (i like that word much better than junky) mix of handed down (not antique, just old), rummaged, thrift shop stuff. the colors are warm earthy greens, beiges, browns of wood and brass with splashes of bright color from paintings and funky stuff (like brni’s purple, red, blue, green painted rabbit).
the whole room really worked for me. i felt comfortable and at ease.

then we decide we need a new tv.

the new tv doesn’t fit in the tv cabinet. we need a different stand for it, so my nice (focal pointy) cabinet has been banished from the room. it is replaced by a black metal and glass topped tv stand that is too low and very modern. with the gray metal of the tv (they don’t make black ones anymore it seems), the wall is stark and hurts my soul.

what to do? we can’t afford a different cabinet that will hide the tv.

poor brni doesn’t understand my problem with this. i guess it’s hard for most people to understand that i can be physically pained (not just a psychological wince) from visual stimuli. but it’s a real physical sensation not just a “yuk, that’s ugly” and forget it sort of thing. clutter does this to me. piles of stuff all over is a constant threat to my wellbeing.

looks like i have a very big important project to make a silk purse.

brni’s heroic feets

brni’s bro, lennie, had a birthday party yesterday for sarah. it was a nice mix of people, young and old, and dogs. though loki was the smallest of the three, her speed, agility and general fearlessness put her firmly in the alpha position. until the stray entered the mix.

all three dogs had followed sarah over to the front of the house. sarah was either trying to herd her niece in through the front door or away from it…i never got that part clear in my head. anyway, the dogs had all gathered in a rather tight pack when the stray came up to them. meanwhile, brni had followed the dogs to make sure they didn’t end up in the street.

somehow, the toddler found herself in the middle of the now very tense group of snarling dogs. brni said, “i’m going to pick you up now” and the baby said, “ok.” he had just gotten her out of the line of pricked ears and bared teeth when he realized loki was trapped. the stray managed to flip her over on her back and was trying to get to her throat. brni started kicking the dog while still holding the toddler above the fray. a feat of feets, one might say. the dog took off after the third kick.

loki was bit in the face. we washed her off with soap and water, treated her with antibacterial ointment and figured everything was ok since she didn’t seem to be feeling any pain.

the next morning we saw that she her eye was red and swollen…a dog version of a black eye.

o….and the cur gave her fleas.

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