Sunday, August 31, 2008


On this long weekend that marks the end of summer for those of us in the U.S. and Canada, I'm thinking back over the summer of 2008. It was one of the best and fairest of summers, weather-wise, that I can remember.

I'm reminded of the song "Camelot" from the movie of the same name: "A law was made a distant moon ago here - July and August cannot be too hot. By order summer lingers through September, in Camelot."

And: "The rain may never fall 'til after sundown, by 8 the morning fog must disappear. In short there's simply not, a more congenial spot, for happily-ever-aftering than here in Camelot." Once the three weeks of constant rain ended in mid-June, it's been oh-so pleasant.

Here in Bismarck, it never once reached 100 degrees, much less topped it. That's unusual for the Northern Great Plains. I myself have seen it get to 113 degrees. Even on days when it reached the 90s, the evenings cooled down most comfortably. When it did rain, it usually was at night, just like in Camelot.

The tornado sirens only went off once all summer. Unusual? - you bet! We only had one rip-roaring thunder, lightning and wind storm. Unusual? - uh huh! We had no hail at all. Unusual? - absolutely. We never once turned on our air conditioner. Unu--oh, am I wearing out that word?

Here are some substitutes: It was a summer of spring zephyr breezes. It was moderate, balmy, temperate, blissful, languorous. Even the West-Nile-virus-carrying culex tarsalis mosquito went away somewhere. The c.t.s represented only 4% of mosquitoes found in traps, and the reported cases of West Nile were down by 4/5ths from last year.

This summer also reminded me of what I have read about the weather in England the summer of 1914, "The hot, sun-drenched gorgeous summer of 1914; the most beautiful in living memory. It was remembered as a kind of Eden." Writer Stefan Zweig remembers that he "had rarely experienced a summer more luxurious, more beautiful and, I am happy to say, more summery."

A summery summer. Yes, that's what we've had here. The essence of all summers, with all of the good and little of the bad. I savored every day of this summer, from early in the cool mornings to late into the evenings.

But we remember what happened in both Camelots - ancient and modern. And at the end of the summer of 1914, the guns of August began booming, signaling the start of the Great War. I certainly hope that the summer of 2008 does not portend anything bad coming in the fall!

NOTE ADDED LATER: I have deleted an ending sentence in this post, and any comments referring to that sentence will not be shown.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008



I haven't been watching the Olympics this summer. All I did was follow the exploits of Michael Phelps. Yeah, Michael!

I did catch a segment of one of his races in which he was doing a "stroke" that involved holding his arms back by his sides, keeping his legs and feet together and undulating his body like a fish to propel him through the water. Like a fish, I tell you!!

I was astounded. Michael Phelps, I thought, is a flippin' merman!

Then, a few days later I was browsing the web and found out that he is for sure a merman. Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz must have seen him do the same swim move that I did, because she picked him to be in her "The Little Mermaid" shoot for a series she is doing for Vanity Fair called "Disney Dream Portrait Series". (PS - Julianne Moore is Ariel.)

Look at them in the photo above. Yes, it's a photo, not a painting, and they are accompanied by other well-known swimmers in the background.


Here's what the article said, in part: "Fitted in his silvery fishtail, Phelps was lowered into a backlot tank in Los Angeles used for underwater movie scenes. Leibovitz was on the outside, snapping away, communicating her instructions to Phelps via members of her crew.

"One of the most complicated shots I have ever done," said Leibovitz. "I didn't know if it was going to work, what to expect. I have to tell you, he was beautiful. Michael put on that tail and ... he just became like a modern dancer. He just took to it and enjoyed himself and swam through this tank. I was blown away."

She adds, "His movements were so graceful and beautiful you just felt like you were watching a real merman."

Doing some more research, I found this on Wikipedia (I bolded the relevant quotes:):
"Five physical attributes particularly suit Phelps to swimming: his long, thin torso (low drag in the water); arms which span 6 feet 7 inches (long, powerful, propulsive "paddles") disproportionate to his height of 6 feet 4 inches; relatively short legs (lower drag, and perhaps the speed enhancement of a hydrofoil coupled to size 14 feet (providing the effect of flippers) by double-jointed ankles he can extend beyond the pointe of a ballet dancer, enabling him to whip his feet as if they were fins, for maximum thrust through [if not over] the water.)
See, I told you he was a merman!
PS - Check out the other photographs in the Disney Dream Portrait Series here (wonderful casting for the most part):
PPS - Congratulations to Great Britain on your haul of Olympic medals this year! If any of you want to watch the best movie ever about the Olympics (best MOVIE ever, in my opinion), watch "Chariots of Fire", the story of two British Olympians (Eric Liddell of Scotland and Harold Abrahams of England) competing in Paris in 1924. This was when the Olympic games were still "the realm of the amateur" (imagine Sir John Gielgud as the snooty English professor pronouncing it ah-ma-TOOR).

Saturday, August 16, 2008


MAMMA MIA!!! Fun with a double MM!!! (Or I guess that would be four Ms.)

I saw the movie this afternoon and highly recommend it. I haven't had so much fun at a movie since "The Wedding Crashers."

Oh, it's gonna make you feel like dancin'! So what if Pierce Brosnan can't sing. He doesn't sing that much, and it's wonderful to watch his face as he sings to his long-lost love.

Meryl Streep, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters are my new models for wild women!

And they prove that you can be a Hoochie Mamma at any age!
There are several love stories, hunky men and pretty women and wonderful views of Greece, especially as the wedding guests ascend a very steep path to the little wedding chapel. (My husband and I went to Greece for our honeymoon so this was very nostalgic for me.)
But really, it's all about the music. I had forgotten how many hits ABBA had. I have never really appreciated them before.
I am now going to do some Wild Women art while I am inspired by "Dancing Queen", "Voulez-Vous", "SOS", "Take a Chance on Me" and my favorite, "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme (A Man After Midnight)". Yes, I had to buy the soundtrack.
And ladies, it's a full moon tonight. Go out "and dance by the light of the moon". You are all wild women!
P.S. Kristen - Go to the movie. You will like it!


Gemma of "Wild Woman in a Desert Garden" has tagged me to list six quirky things about myself. I've done this before and can't think of six more. I guess I'm a pretty tame lady. I tend to hide my quirkiness under a bushel. basket. Like Luke Wilson tells Sarah Jessica Parker in "The Family Stone": "You have a freak flag - you just don't fly it very often."
But I was a quirky kid, so I'll list six quirky things about me back then:
1. When I ate, I had to eat one food entirely before starting another. For example, I would have to eat my all peas first, then my potatoes, then my meat. My stepfather didn't like this. He would always say, "They're going to get mixed up in your stomach anyway." Oh, pretty picture, dad. (At least I didn't care if my foods touched each other.)
He was also the guy who made me sit for hours to finish some kind of food I didn't like. Once it was a slice of tomato, once it was a fried egg. I don't remember if I ever gave up and ate them, but I do remember him telling me how his mother would take her child's uneaten food, put it in the cupboard and then bring it out for the next meal until it was gone. And this was in the days before refrigeration! I never met her but I certainly hated the lady.
By the way, I like sliced tomatoes now, but I have not eaten and will never eat a fried egg. So there!
2. Before I went to sleep, I would stick my finger into a corner of my blanket, and then I would stick my finger in my ear.
3. I liked to read lying on the floor with my feet up on the easy chair. Or sprawled sideways across the chair.
4. I assigned male or female properties to colors, and to silverware. (Maybe everyone does this?) Forks and spoons are female, knives are male. The female colors are pink, orange, red, yellow, and white. The male colors are blue, green, black, gray, brown, purple.
5. One day I was late for school and heard the bell ringing when I was only half way there. I stopped slogging through the snow and knocked at the Early house (everyone knew everyone else in my village). They invited me in, gave me hot cocoa, took off my boots and propped my wet feet on the warm oven door.
6. When I was in fifth grade, we had a Valentine's party at my one-room schoolhouse. We were allowed to invite our siblings who weren't in school. My little sis came in a pretty pink dress, with a pair of pants underneath for the trip. (This was often done in North Dakota, because it gets freakin' cold here in the winter.)
At the school, my sister wouldn't take her pants off. The teacher said, "Oh that's alright, let her be." I replied, "No, she's my sister and she'll do what I tell her!" Then I stormed off and hid behind the freestanding stove and cried for the rest of the party. I didn't speak to the teacher unless spoken to for the next year and a half, until I went to school in town.

Sunday, August 10, 2008



I have been a busy girl this summer, making pages for an altered book round robin that I'm participating in. I always do double pages.

I think you can click on the pictures to enlarge them. If not, the words below "Reflections on Claire" say: "She loves the winter"; "Names her dogs after ex-boyfriends"; "She's been down the Nile and up the Mississippi"; and "Even my mother likes her."

I've had the clipping of the woman and the quotes for ages, but only recently though of putting them together. I like this spunky woman.

This one might be confusing. Her name isn't Grace, but Opal, as signified by the "O" in the lower left corner. Grace is a state of being and I feel that this lady, whom I also like very much, is the epitome of grace. The sentence says "In a room with a thing of beauty, you are never truly alone."
All those white lines on the left page aren't really there - they're just reflections.

This collage was generated by the Carl Sagan quote: "We ourselves are made of star stuff."
The other quote says: "It is easier to accept the message of the stars than the message of the salt desert. The stars speak of man's insignificance in the long eternity of time, the desert speaks of his insignificance right now."

The left-hand caption asks: "Where are those little girls we once were?" The right-hand caption answers: "They are not lost, they're still here inside."
The tags can be pulled out of the pockets. Below those pictures, I wrote: "Those girls who: turned cartwheels, skipped rope, played jacks, caught fireflies, dressed cats in clothes, sang often and lustily, danced through sprinklers, played hopscotch, played with paper dolls, loved puppies, climbed trees, blew bubbles into their chocolate milk."

This collage was inspired by the picture on the top left. I suspect, as does the cowboy, that those ladies are not drinking tea. The caption says: "Let them talk." The cowboy sez, "There's more than just tea in them cups, I'll wager."
The snooty woman is saying: "Ladies, we must maintain decorum at all times."
The bohemian man (a famous writer, whose name I cannot recollect), believes "Women must be allowed artistic expression."
The lady on the top of the right-hand pages would like to join in, I think. She's saying: "Hmm, that looks like fun."
The two men are thinking: "Those crazy wimmin."
The one seated lady asks the other: "Did you hear what those hussies Lizzie and Lila did?" (Lizzie and Lila are two of the wild women in the round robin.)
The three old broads at the bottom are sure that the wild women will "come to no good."

Do you have dreams of flying? I have a lot of them! The caption on the left says: "Flying dreams are common and are often associated with ambition, personal empowerment and breaking free from limitations." Oh, really? That makes me feel better.
The caption on the upper right says: "Dreams are illustrations...from the book your soul is writing about you." Don't you love that?
The caption on the bottom right says: "You may never look at sleep the same way again."

The poem reads: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver.
These pages also feature a hang tag with a stamp of a 19th century woman on her Grand Tour.

Some of the items in this collage were given to me by a friend, and I am happy to pass them along to another friend via her altered book.
The Chinese Proverb on the left says: "If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing birds will come."
Another Chinese Proverb, on the right, says: "A bird does not sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song"

"Love is the greatest refreshment in life." ~ Pablo Picasso.
I used a paper napkin for the background, which gives an interesting, wrinkled effect. I also used real buttons but I didn't have to sew them. They are threaded, but they have adhesive backings so I just pressed them on.
I did lots more collages this summer, but I don't want to overwhelm you with all of them at once, so I'll show more later.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Happy Birthday to my husband, Dan, who turns the big 6-0 today. As blogging friend Gemma says, that officially qualifies him to be an Old Fart! Or, you could say he is older than dirt!
On Dan's big 4-0, we had just driven across North Dakota and half of Montana in 100-degree heat to attend his niece's wedding. His mom baked him an angel food cake with butter cream frosting, and brought it all that way in the heat, but other than that, his celebration was overshadowed by the wedding.
On his big 5-0, I was spending a week in Boise, Idaho, with said niece and her family. Word has it that he celebrated quite well without me. Fortunately, his watering hole was close enough so that he could walk home after his revels.
On his birthday four years ago, he took one of his few days off to go golfing at one of the prettiest spots around, the Painted Woods golf course near Washburn, ND. Unfortunately, I had to have him reached with an emergency message, that our daughter was critically ill in Washington, DC.
Today, he took another of his rare days off to try to have that golfing/birthday celebration at Painted Woods. This time, there was no emergency call and he was able to spend a balmy day in the great outdoors with his best buds.
We're not ones for having parties, so we're just going to have some pizza and beer tonight.
Happy Birthday, Dan, and many more. But of course that means that in less than 365 days I will be the big 6-0. Yikes!