Artist of the Day: Rescue Me Globe - Wendy Gold

rescue me globe wendy gold wendygoldimaginenations

Wendy Gold didn't have anything to say about herself, artist statement or biography-wise on her site. I think her collaged globes reveal an humorous and inventive artist.

I paint and collage on old maps, so I was immediately drawn to her work. 

The Day in Cartoons: Olympic Gold and the Queen - Dave Grunland

The monarchy has been bringing in the gold for centuries. Today, the Queen's granddaughter snagged a silver

I just finished reading two books of Hilary Mantel's trilogy of the Tudors. We should all breathe a relieved sigh that the treachery and exploits of past monarchies are no more.

Interesting Reading:

Quickie Review: Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

Quick Thoughts:
Thomas Cromwell was born near the lowest rung on the English social ladder, but through the relentless force of his inexhaustible and dogged skill and will, he came as close to the top as was possible without displacing his mercurial lord and master, King Henry VIII.  

Henry's court never forgave him for proving the merit of a blacksmith's son superior to theirs.

Power was his currency. Had he been born in the United States in the country's latter centuries, he most certainly would have been a Vanderbilt or Rockefeller, a Teddy Roosevelt, Truman or Nixon. At the very least a Rove.

Hilary Mantel is a masterful writer. She imagines it is Cromwell, not cruel, torture fanatic, heretic burning More, who is the man for all seasons. 

Mantel takes a much maligned and somewhat forgotten historical figure like Cromwell, who over the centuries has been portrayed as one of English history's villains and makes of him a man who rejected the cards Fortune had given him and played himself out of the muck and into the glittering world of the Tudors.

True, Cromwell was no respecter of title or persons. He deftly removed Katherine from Queen to Dowager, made Princess Mary a bastard. He made the dubious Boleyn girl Queen, over the objections of the entire world, and the God of the land. He oversaw the fall of Thomas More, and the downfall of any enemy, perceived or real, of the realm. Cromwell masterminded the most audacious judicial murder of his time, the downfall and execution of Queen Anne. Not to mention he played hardball with the Pope, and won. Cromwell remade England, and changed the course of the world.

Hilary Mantel breathes a conflicted and complicated, yet always human oxygen into the lungs of Thomas Cromwell and thereby raises him from ignominy. He is a dangerously humorous, sometimes calculated, sometimes vulnerable, greedy and generous, fully realized character you cannot help but admire, if not love. 

The Thomas Cromwell of Wolf Hall lives and breathes England and Henry VIII. 

I love his wicked sense of humor, his character defining observances of Uncle Norfolk glaring at the fire as if to ignite it, George Boleyn's penchant for puffing his silks, his creation of teasing stories of pious Cranmer's outrages as Wolsey once told of him. He was fiercely loyal to Wolsey when it was not politically expedient to be so. However, Cromwell was not willing to go down with the ship, he was not a martyr for friendship or his conscience; he saved his own skin and that of his household, and advanced himself during this time. His quiet grief over the fall of his cardinal and the too many deaths of his wife, children, and family felled by the plague, is a telling character trait, for the man, known more as the devil who chased Rome out of every nook and cranny of England, and back to Italy.

So too, is the reality that Cromwell had a long memory, and any slight or cruelty was paid out, no matter how many years he had to wait. And he waited. He was terrifying in his single-minded service to his mercurial king. He cut down anyone or anything that stood between Henry's wishes and his own success.

It is truly sad when Cromwell believes he will outlive his enemies. He believes himself to be indispensable to England and Henry's future. And he is. But Henry is a raging child, who in his fit breaks his favorite toy, then bemoans its loss.

From what English history we know, Cromwell's relentless work to bring England out of the Middle Ages, and grant any wish for his king, will end blood drenched. And badly. 

First Sentence:
"So now get up"

Favorite Parts:
p. 14 " Kat had given him a holy medal to wear...He touches it with his lips, for luck. He drops it; it whispers into the water. He will remember his first sight of the open sea; a gray wrinkled vastness, like the residue of a dream."

p. 18 "In the case of his man Cromwell, the cardinal has two jokes, which sometimes unite to form one. The first is that he walks in demanding cherries in April and lettuce in December. The other is that he goes about the countryside committing outrages, and charging them to the cardinal's accounts."

p. 25 "He never lives in a single reality, but in a shifting shadow-mesh of diplomatic possibilities."

p. 61 "Beneath every history, another history."

p. 91 "Try always, the cardinal says, to find out what people wear under their clothes, for it's not just their skin. Turn the kind inside out, and you will find his scaly ancestors; his warm, solid, serpentine flesh."

p 142 "All Hallows Day: grief comes in waves. Now it threatens to capsize him He doesn't believe that the dead come back; but that doesn't stop him from feeling the brush of their fingertips, wing tips, against his shoulder."

p. 189 "There is a world beyond this black world. There is a world of the possible. a world where Anne can be queen is a world where Cromwell can be Cromwell. He sees it; then he doesn't. The moment is fleeting. But insight cannot be taken back. You cannot return to the moment you were in before."

p. 238 "Don't ask, don't get, he thinks."

p. 240 "What was England before Wolsey? A little offshore island, poor and cold."

p. 246 "The entertainment is this: a vast scarlet figure, supine, is dragged across the floor, howling, by actors dressed as devils. There are four devils, one for each limb of the dead man. The devils wear masks. They have tridents with which they prick the cardinal, making him twitch and writhe and beg. He had hoped the cardinal died without pain, but Cavendish had said no. He died conscious, talking of the king. He had started out of sleep and said, whose is that shadow on the wall?"

p. 255 "The dead grip the living."

p. 260 "Thomas More says, Now you are a member of the council, I hope you will tell the king what he ought to do, not merely what he can do. If the lion knew his own strength, it would be hard to rule him."

p. 376 " You see this councillor of mine? I warn you, never play any game wit him. for he will not respect your ancestry. He has no coat of arms and no name, but he believes he is bred to win."

p. 437 " Already there are too many books in the world. There are more every day. One man cannot hope to read them all."

p. 444 "Death is a japester; call him and he will not come. He is a joker and lurks in the dark, a black cloth over his face."
p. 479 " ...we all walk in circles to our destination."

p. 495 "Henry says, Do what you have to do. I will back you.

It's like hearing words you've waited all your life to hear. it's like hearing a perfect line of poetry, in a language you knew before you were born."
p. 519 "'s all very well planning what you will do in six months, what you will do in a year, but it's no good at all if you don't have a plan for tomorrow."

p. 531 "The saying comes to him, homo homini lupus, man is wolf to man."
p. 533 "When you are writing laws you are testing words to find their utmost power. Like spells, they have to make things happen in the real world, and like spells, they only work if people believe in them."

p. 561 "Last week Chapuys said to him, in this kingdom now you are all the cardinal was, and more."

p. 566 "The fate of peoples are mad like this, two men in small rooms. Forget the coronations, the conclaves of cardinals, the pomp and processions. This is how the world changes: a counter pushed across a table, a pen stroke that alters the force of a phrase, a woman's sigh as she passes and leaves on the air a trail of orange flower or rose water; her hand pulling the bed curtain, the discreet sigh of flesh against flesh."

p. 568 "They talk about his heart; he overhears them. He feels they should not: the book of y heart is a private book, it is not an order book left o the counter for any passing clerk to scrawl in."

p. 574 " Henry is frightened of you.
He shakes his head. who frightens the lion of England?"

p. 576 "He reemerges into the world. Knock him down and he will get up. Death has called to inspect him, she has measured him, breathed into his face; walked away again.
p. 580 "I have never understood where the line is drawn, between sacrifice and self-slaughter.

Christ drew it.
You don't see anything wrong wit the comparison?"

p. 583 Anne says, It's all about me...When finally you have out of More what troubles his singular conscience, you will find that what is at the root of it is that he will not bend his knee to my queenship...She is small and white and angry. Long fingers tip to tip, bending each other back; eyes bright."
p. 584 "She suspects, and she is right, that her man Cromwell is more interested in the friendship of the German princes than in an alliance with France; but she has to pick her time for that quarrel, and she says she will have no peace till Fisher is dead, till More is dead. So now she circles the room, agitated, less than regal, and she keeps veering toward Henry, touching his sleeve, touching his hand, and he brushes her away, each time, as if she were a fly.
p. 585 "Do I retain you for what is easy? Jesus pity my simplicity, I have promoted you to a place in this kingdom that no one, no one of your breeding has ever held in the whole of the history of the realm...I keep  you, Master Cromwell , because you are as cunning as a bag of serpents. but do not be a viper in my bosom. You know my decision. Execute it."

-- "He drew the blind down. I asked him why, ad he said, the goods are taken aways, so now I am closing the shop.

He can hardly bear it, to think of More sitting in the dark."

p. 589 "The world corrupts me, I think. Or perhaps it's just the weather. It pulls me down and makes me think like you, that one should shrink inside, down and down to a  little point of light preserving ones solitary soul like a flame under a glass...I truly believe I should be a better man if the weather were better."

p. 591 "It's England against Rome, he says. The living against the dead."

p. 602 "It's the living that turn and chase the dead."

p. 603 "The past moves heavily inside him."

Author Bio:
Born in Derbyshire in 1952 and educated in Cheshire, Hilary Mantel read law at the LSE. Married at 20, she finished her degree at Sheffield University. She tried social work, then sold frocks in order to write in the evenings. She lived in Africa in the late Seventies. In 1982 she remarried her husband and his job took them to Saudi Arabia. Her first published novel was Every Day is Mother's Day. She won the Hawthornden Prize for An Experiment in Love, and the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize for travel writing. Her other novels include Fludd, The Giant O'Brien and A Place of Greater Safety. A memoir, Giving Up The Ghost, and the short stories Learning To Talk (out in July), are published by Fourth Estate. Hilary Mantel lives with her husband in a flat in a converted lunatic asylum.

Best Reviews:
Atlantic Magazine - The Men Who Made England
The Guardian - Henry's Fighting Dog
The New Yorker - Tudor Tales
Christian Science Monitor - Wolf Hall

Song of the Day: Desperate Heart - Gram Rabbit

Gram Rabbit
Desperate Heart

I heard this song by Gram Rabbit watching a Fruit of the Loom commercial break during the Olympics. Go USA swimmers!

Desperate Heart is from the band's new Welcome to the Country album. The promo photograph above pays homage to Jane Russell.

Artist of the Day: Vagues Normandes - Labokoff

vagues normandes labokoff

artist bio: Between photography and painting, i'm very happy to share with you my little vision of the world and small fragments of France through these pictures. To find out more, or join my mailing list, please visit:
What I like about this photograph is that although the title alludes to Normandy, and makes me think of ancient history all the way up to soldiers storming the beaches, it has a ethereal quality on which you can project your own meaning.  But then, that is the story of art, isn't it?

Poem Therapy: Breaking Across Us - Katie Ford

8:21 P.M. 30 July 2012

Breaking Across Us
Katie Ford

I began to see things in parts again,
segments, a pen drawn against the skin
to show where to cut, lamppost through the stained glass
with its etchings of light against the wall —
it was the middle of the night. It was something we would tell no one:
The hospital roads with standing water, I drove quickly through,
saying, you won’t have to stay.
                          But then I left without you,
you whom I’ve felt missing all this time —
when I sat in the weeds of the yard, told to pull them
from the root, not to touch the wild trillium, tying knots in the daffodil stalks,
discontented. When I watched the scatters
of firs sway their birds out through my storm windows,
the tree itself now and no more,
I thought I needed belief — walking through the stubbed wheat grass
requesting everything that would undo me — the nearness of Christ,
abandon and devotion — no one has to teach me
my disobediences. No one sees
the shed I see now, its roof bent with snow, all of it
leaning south how it was never built.
The inches overcome it, but
the green wood darkens, oceanic and deep.
                         He might not wake up,
I thought that night —
                         I remembered the house I boarded in one summer
with a widower, his wife’s fabric samples left draped over
the arm of the unfinished chair. I could feel her eyes
in my own when I tried to choose
between them, almost, if the sun of the alcove
hadn’t faded them, the dust and his arms worn them.
The sky as stark as the first sheet laid down
after they took her body.
                       But on that night
while I waited, the clouds casketed the stars,
stars with no chambers or hollows, filling themselves
with their own heat how a hive quivers
to fill each crevice with itself,
how I have never been able.

All day today I felt the hive of myself quivering with a quiet rage  I spent the entire day pacing the halls, then the room, in the hospital while my husband recovered from his early morning surgery. He is doing very well, in case you're interested. A simple offhand phrase pulled me back ten years. I caught my reflection and was shocked that my eyes looked feral. I could have bared my teeth and hissed, or roared.

The day reminded me that the past is always present, always breaking across us, pulling and shoving us in opposing directions.

The quiet rage of the day has subsided, but I can still feel the buzz of it still humming inside.

Quiet rage may be an oxymoron on the surface, but most intense emotion is a unexpressed storm out on the horizon.

Years ago I took a traditional pottery class in the tiny village La Madera, literally the middle of nowhere in New Mexico, from a master potter and the village's medicine man. It was a wild and raw experience. Packs of wild dogs snarled as they roamed the hills behind the house where I was staying, and every morning the doorstep was littered with the bones of unfortunate animals.

My host and teacher asked if I would be interested in staying on during the weekend for a sweat lodge ceremony. Of course I said yes, although I had only a vague idea of what he was offering. To prepare, he asked me to make another pot in the shape of heart. I did and took it to the fire pit, but he said that this pot was not to be fired. I thought this strange.

Before the sweat lodge ceremony, he instructed me to climb the Oretga Mountains, hills really, behind his home, and take my pot and smash it. He said I needed to break my angry heart apart. I did exactly as he asked me.

Later that evening, after the smudging purification, we had crawled on our bellies into the small opening of the adobe sweat lodge. Those very few of us who had made it to the fourth round of hot rocks steaming and passing the bowl and offering gratitude, were to receive a blessing. When it came my turn, he asked me to acknowledge my anger. I said, I am angry. He laughed and said something close to, you don't sound angry. I answered that I was indeed very angry. He told me to prove it. I said it again. He kept at me. He wanted me to scream. I raised my voice. He kept at it.

I have no problem yelling, when I am by myself.  I don't like to yell around anyone. And then there was the reality that every man in that sweat lodge sweltering alongside me, was either suffering from HIV or dying of AIDS. I didn't feel like divorce warranted  screaming.

He kept at me until I really yelled just how angry I was, and I felt a release, and then comfort from the men around me as they patted my hair and held my hands.

I received my blessing from the medicine man, which was basically the same I received as a fourteen year old girl from our local Mormon patriarch, but I still think back to all the blessings I received that night as I cried in darkness, waves of heat rising over me.

Home Spa Pamper Yourself Wish List - Vintage & Homemade Gifts

Usually I post holiday or important event-related wish lists, but today left me feeling rough, so a pamper wish list is needed. Wouldn't it be sweet to lock the door, turn off the lights and shut off all the electronic devices, light a few candles, and spend the evening with just yourself?

It's a date!
nuno felted hand-painted scarf  yanina

vintage i magnin lounging pajama elliemayhems

organic rooibos red tea butter cookies  esther aguirre 

bergamont and sandalwood calm yourself body oil & blend becca & mars

natural facial cloth set pomegranatefarms

turkish bath experience eastanbul design

Artist of the Day: Popsicle - Meg of September Wren

popscicle meg septemberwren

artist bio: September Wren (you can call her Meg) is finally joining the ranks of the hip (and the homeschooling) on Etsy. More photos to be added daily, or as her three-year-old sees fit.
Nothing says summer like the cold shock of a sweet popscicle on a blistering day. Boston, Massachusett's- based photographer Meg's photograph captures the essence and pleasure of this sweet summertime treat.

I am lamenting that the summer is almost over. Soon, children will be back in school,  the air will turn cool and the leaves will fade and fall. All too soon winter will be creeping about on its bony fingers.

Let's enjoy these last few weeks of lolling in the sunshine.

Letters: Thomas Cromwell to Henry VIII

the new yorker 19 october 2009

On this day, 28 July 1540, Henry VIII had his chief advisor executed for trumped up charges of treason and heresy. The real reason for his fall from grace was more of the office politics variety; Norfolk hated Cromwell, mainly because Cromwell was the most powerful and able man at court and he wasn't a noble, just the son of a lowly blacksmith. The King lamented his rash decision. He never found a man as capable to serve him.

I just finished Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall early this morning, so a letter from Tom to Harry seems fitting.

Dear Henry,

Did I not tell you that you would miss me when I was gone?

Thomas Cromwell

P. S. Wolsey asked that I relate the following unto you: Sit on a spit thou cockered and doghearted codpiece giglet.

Artist of the Day: Astrid - Jeanne Berg

astrid jeanne berg magpieworkshop
artist bio: I am a native New Yorker but have lived in the United Kingdom since 1998 - first in London and now in Bath. For many years, I worked as an illustrator. It was then that I began looking for inspiration in the works of Renaissance artists. When I started making collages, I once again, returned to these paintings. Faces from my favorite Renaissance paintings are found in many of my collages. I love being able to re-imagine them - to create a new sense of beauty by combining elements from sometimes contradictory places.
Poet Charles Simic said that collage is the medium of mystics. I think collage, as an art form, is a window into the mind of the artist.

Bath, United Kingdom based artist Jeanne Berg's collages are gorgeous. That she uses Renaissance images imbue the collages with a luminous quality.

Poem Therapy: Offerings - Howard Altmann

Howard Altmann

To the night I offered a flower
and the dark sky accepted it
like earth, bedding
for light.

To the desert I offered an apple
and the dunes received it
like a mouth, speaking 
for wind.

To the installation I offered a tree
and the museum planted it
like a man, viewing 
his place.

To the ocean I offered a seed 
and its body dissolved it
like time, composing
a life.
When I read this poem all I could think was what is it that I am offering?

I was raised Mormon. It wasn't a good fit. But as a child what can you do but carry out your secret rebellions? I vowed once I was old enough I was out, and never would be at the mercy of another religion. Even so, as a child I was fascinated by the small stone statue of the Virgin Mary outside the church of Rosa Lima. I knew I didn't want to be a Catholic, but I wanted her. I still do.

My first religious experience was at mass in the Cathedral of the Madeline when I was in my early twenties. The light filtered through the stained glass windows, the choir boys were singing in Latin, as I remember it there was a haze from incense. I burst into tears. My first husband was Catholic. That is as close as I got to the religion, other than the history and the images. Mary is something altogether different, though. I can't say that I can explain it.  

I have had similar experiences, when I remove my shoes and step into a holy site, sit in the blistering cave of sweat lodge, or enter certain groves of trees.

For a time I covered all the bases religious-wise, by making offerings to all the gods of which I was aware, from various religions and belief systems, present and ancient. I still have all of them, and my house if peopled with tiny altars and their saints or gods. Sometimes, I'll still put an orange at the base of one of the niches or a coin in the hand of an image.

In times of strife or desperation, I have struck so many unrealistic bargains that I should know by now that Deity is not a shopkeeper.

I stopped bargaining eleven years ago, out of anger and stubbornness. What will be, will be. It is what it is. Lately, though, I find myself haggling, just a little again. Perhaps, this means I am ready to look to the stars again, in hope of finding the Old One Einstein spoke of when he spoke of God. Perhaps it means I am finally ready to let the anger and stubbornness go, and allow something else, offer something else.

In truth, all I can offer up to lay on the altar, any altar, is my gratitude.

Travel Photo Essay - Las Vegas 2012

We took a quick trip last week to Las Vegas to celebrate my daughter's 21st birthday. I haven't been to Las Vegas since the crash back in 2008. This visit was a mom and daughters excursion. Vegas has something for everyone. My daughter has never been to Sin City before, so I made certain she experienced a little bit of (almost) everything the city has to offer. Since she was the birthday girl, she chose where we went, what we did, where we ate. We made a quick trip down The Strip, all the way to Fremont, ate our first meal at Dick's so we could be subjected to an hour of sacrcasm, and then spent the majority of our time in the pool, which was open 24 hours. We saw the Bellagio's Fine Art  Claude Monet exhibit, Chihuly glass sculptures, and Conservatory & Botanical Gardens display. We saw Cirque de Soliel's KA at the MGM - it was brilliant. We gambled a little: longstoryshort - win some, lose a lot. We shopped, as in walked through Prada, Dolce & Gabbana's, Miu Miu's showroom. My daughter actually did shop Top Shop - apparently, it is the thing for young fashionistas. I loved the store's  loud Indie music, ombre-dyed skirts and leggings, and the 10 inch chopin-like shoes on display. I could never, ever wear those shoes, but you look great in them while seated. We walked a lot. The first night, we walked The Strip for the tourist experience. There were the usual escort pushers, but this time, there were street performers of every ilk from a tiny woman in a Hello Kitty costume and men as Avengers characters, to drag queens in heels, sequins and big hair. There were also rappers and beat box dancers for Jesus, and one preacher up on a crate calling the sinners to repent. We stopped by a karaoke outside restaurant and watched a woman sing as loud and as off key as she possibly could while shaking it, and I mean shaking it hard, for a full three minutes. She was feeling herself, as in she was in full Diva. She drew a large crowd, many of whom were filming her performance. I loved it. The heat was nearly unbearable. Our last Vegas meal was at Senor Frog's and we had front row view of Treasure Island's pirate vs. sirens show, complete with sinking ship, flame throwers, writhing dancers, and a muscle-bound man inexplicably dressed as a parakeet. Vegas is a trip, to say the least. Some think it's akin to Sodom and Gomorrah. Those some need to just cozy up to the pool's margarita bar and have a few laughs, sit in the hot tub when the sun goes down, and relax. My next trip to Vegas is going to be a spa vacation.
Las Vegas Strip from the air
The Luxor from Las Vegas Airport tarmack

The Luxor

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Birthday Girl

Kissing Elvis at Dick's Restaurant

Kite display, Aria Mall

Reclining Connected Forms, 1969-74, Henry Moore

Ka image from YouTube (performance photos not allowed)

Haystacks, 1890-91, Claude Monet from Wikipedia (photos not allowed in Bellagio Fine Art Gallery)

Bellagio Fountain show set to Pink Panther

Paris Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas

Song of the Day: Ready to Start - Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire
Ready to Start

I listened to this on the way to coffee and the lyrics below resonated, and accused. Well, I accused myself of falling back on my old patterns of taking a dozen tentative steps forward, making a few huge strides, then the second an emotional hook presents itself, I stumble almost all the way backwards to where I began and try to convince myself that the Emperor really is wearing clothes.

You probably do this, too. Frustrating and infuriating isn't it?

Life is short.

The Emperor wears no clothes, people. You know it and so do I.

Today is as good a day as any to start again.

All the kids have always known
That the emperor wears no clothes
But they bow down to him anyway
It's better than being alone

But I would rather be alone
Than pretend I feel alright

Now I'm Ready to Start
My mind is open wide
Now I'm Ready to Start
Not sure you'll open the door
To step out into the dark
Now I'm ready!

Artist of the Day: Vintage Erasers - Lisa Congdon

artist bio: San Francisco illustrator and fine artist Lisa Congdon was raised in both upstate New York and Northern California where she grew to love the trees and animals that surrounded her. That love is now expressed most intensely through her paintings and drawings. Lisa comes from a family of creative people and has been making things with her hands since she was a little girl, but she did not begin painting until she was 33 years old. Ten years later, it is now the most significant part of her life and livelihood. Aside from four painting classes, Lisa is entirely self-taught. Four years ago, she left a career as a leader in the education nonprofit world to pursue her intense desire to live a full-time creative life.
Apparently, I have been living under a rock to not have seen Lisa Congdon's A Collection A Day blog or book. Both are inspiring. Both make me feel less like a hoarder of junk, and more like a collector of invaluable treasures.

You will want to click on the links above to see Congdon's collections and illustrations.

I collect books, especially old books or books with marginalia (scribbles or annotations of any kind on the pages), rhinoceros figurines, religious iconography - crosses, saints, Milagros, reliquaries, Virgin Mary, Guadeloupe Mary, Buddha, Sacred Heart Jesus, Shiva, Kali scupltures, shoes - especially vintage pointy toe shoes or folk-inspired, old dolls - the kind that look like survivors of world disasters or dolls that could be featured in scary movies, kitchy ceramic birds, tarnished silver, vintage jewelry, coins of the world, jewelry boxes - the kind that look they could be reliquaries or sacred niches to hold the image of a saint, folk art of any kind, thrift store mirrors. And that's the short list.

What do you collect?

Artist of the Day: Black & White Striped Burlesque Corset - Gigi Devlin

black and white striped burlesques corset gigi devlin gigidevlin
artist bio:   I always had a love for clothing...mainly corsets. I have been avidly sewing for 5 years now and I love burlesque and 1950's style clothing. It's my specialty!

I adore burlesque, of the Gypsy Rose Lee period. So, since I'm headed to Vegas soon, it makes sense that today's artist should be a little on the Gypsy side.

Artist/designer Gigi Devlin may be based in Westport, Massachusetts, but I think she has more than a little Sin City and Versailles in her.

I love this corset, and the styling is excellent. Brings to mind a steam punk-inspired Marie Antoinette, doesnt' it.

Song of the Day: Change Is on the Way - Shawn Colvin


Shawn Colvin
Change Is on the Way

Nothing stays the same.
I feel like change is on the way.

Change is always on the road, kicking up dust, on the way to all of our houses.

Colvin's voice is imbued with a melancholy that never haunts or sticks a knife under your ribs.

It's a perfect song for a thunderstorm.

My small dog is under the bed, hiding from the cracking thunder, while the big dog is nestled against my leg, ears pricked, listening to this song with me.

The Day in Cartoons: The Business of Religion - Pat Bagley

the business of religion pat bagley, salt lake tribune
corporation: an organized body, especially a business, that has been granted a state charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of the individuals within the entity.  The corporation is a desirable organization for a business entity for a variety of reasons, including the increased capability such an entity has to raise capital.

Bagley's cartoon is funny, and on the money.  Of course, it tells only part of the truth. The Mormon Church is a corporation in the same manner that many churches, past and present, are. The faithful pay their tithes and offerings, trusting that the money goes to help the needy, build temples and churches, and also knowing full well that some of the money goes to pay salaries, fund public relations. And then, there is that nebulous gray area that nobody really thinks or talks about where the money goes: stocks, politics, controversial propositions, and who knows what else.

Some religions got their start very early and their leaders were as powerful, if not more so, than kings.  This is no longer the case. 

Mormons got a relatively late start, and the closest any prophet got to king status was Brigham Young, just read Mark Twain's Roughing It. The current Mormon leadership may not be as powerful as presidents or world leaders, but they have influence, and killer business acumen, and loads of money.

How about we just agree that religions can have spiritual and secular functions, and sometimes, they resemble and act like corporations, and just go on with our lives? 

Interesting Reading:
How the Mormons Make Money - Bloomberg Businessweek
Criticism follows Businessweek cover on Mormon Church finances - Deseret News
Organized religion is big business - The Washington Post
Mega churches, mean big business - CNN World
Churches as business, Jesus CEO - The Economist
Christian Capitalism Megachurches, Megabusiness - Forbes, Inc

Artist of the Day: Balance - Mindy Lacefield

balance mindy lacefield timsally
artist bio: Welcome to Tim's Sally. My name is Mindy and I've been creating art full-time for about 2 years and am thankful every day for the lovely people who visit my shop and support my art. I couldn't do it without you lovely souls.  visit my website:
I am in the mood for some timsally today.

I am also in need of some serious balance. I am completely lopsided to the point of literally falling over in practically every aspect of my life. It took an intense fall on the trail a couple weeks back to wake me up to this.

Actually, to be honest, it took looking at this painting, and its title, to put all the pieces together to make me to realize it is up to me to get myself standing upright again, get my balance back, internal and external.

You know what the secret to balance is? Ask for what you want or need, without expectation. Be prepared for a no. Make a plan and move forward. Do what your heart tells you - you can talk your mind into it later. Just do it, just for you.

Here I go, arms stretched wide, steadying myself.

Poem Therapy: There is no frigate like a book (1236) - Emily Dickinsen

There is no frigate like a book (1263)
Emily Dickinson
There is no Frigate like a Book  
To take us Lands away,  
Nor any Coursers like a Page  
Of prancing Poetry –   
This Traverse may the poorest take         
Without oppress of Toll –   
How frugal is the Chariot  
That bears a Human soul.
The frigate Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel just rammed me head-on yesterday.

I have yet to read Wolf Hall, or any of Mantel's other books, but every single book she has written is now on my list.

Mantel has made Thomas Cromwell flesh, and not just the Machiavelli sort. He is terrifying in his single-minded service and devotion to his prince, and to England, but he is also humorous in his practicality, and tender in his personal interaction with family, and his empathy for those of lesser station.

I can't help but wonder, that for a man who sees the world clearly, how is it that he doesn't see the executioner's axe waiting for him? Wolsey fell. Anne fell. As did countless others, (and Cromwell helped them to their graves, and many times profited by it).

Cromwell is aware that the Tudor court is populated by a company of the the king's ghosts. Cromwell knows Henry better than the Tudor monarch knows himself.  As a reader, you want to yell, Run, Thomas! Repeat after me: Henry VIII is a jackass.

Elizabeth I is her father's redemption.

In addition to being a frigate, a book can also be a rocking chair, a well-deserved slap  or an embrace. It all depends on the book, and what you need.

Yesterday, the 16th century had much to teach me.

Artist of the Day: Welcome to Las Vegas - Stefanie Poteet

welcome to las vegas stefanie poteet retroroadsidephoto
artist bio: I am a photographer with an unhealthy obsession for vintage signage. I love old neon, large light blubs, crazy arrows and signs with drama and flair. Signs with personality speak to me. It's like they call my name. I also love classic muscle cars. The detail, the chrome, the low growl they make when idling. There's nothing quite like a 1970 Chevelle and there never will be again. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era.
I am counting the days down.

House of Blues, Fremont Street, Bellagio Art Museum, I Love Sushi, Cosmopolitan's Wicked Spoon, Cirque du Soleil, Queens of Las Vegas, Shark Reef, roulette, margaritas, here we come!

Watch & Listen Playlist I Got the Blues: July 13-15, 2012

I have a case of the mid-summer blues. I'm headed to Vegas soon, so sin city should shake me out of my blue streak.

I hear wild women never get the blues, so I have resolved to run with the wolves. I used to be able to outrun anyone, but I haven't raced for years. So I will either be cheered, or devoured.

Somthing's Got A Hold of Me - Etta James & Christina Aguilera
I'm Coming Down with the Blues - Marcia Ball
How Blue Can You Get - Jeff Healey
Early in the Morning - Junior Wells
Right Next Door - Robert Cray
What the Hell Is Going On - Elvin Bishop
Don't Gotta Work It Out - Fitz and the Tantrums
La La Blues - Porky LaFarge
Black Coffee - Canned Heat
Young Woman's Blues - Bessie Smith
Married to the Blues - Shemekia Copeland
Love Interuption - Jack White
Just Won't Burn - Susan Tedeschi
Hold On - Alabama Shakes
Fearless Blues - Ana Popovic
Cut You Loose - Tinsley Ellis
Independence Blues - Valerie Wellington
Walking Blues - John Hammond
Run Away Blues - Ma Rainey
Thousand Miles From Nowhere - Robert Pete Williams
Walking the Back Streets - Koko Taylor
Have Love, Will Travel - The Black Keys
I Want A Little Sugar in My Bowl - Nina Simone
House of the Rising Sun - Josh White Jr.
Sugar on the Floor - Etta James
The Thrill Is Gone - B. B. King
How Long, How Long Blues - Jimmy & Mama Estella Yancey
I Just Can't Be Satisfied - Muddy Waters
Life Is A Journey - Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials
Crossroads Blues - Robert Johnson
Think - Aretha Franklin
Boom! Boom! - John Lee Hooker
Shake A Tail Feather - The Blues Brothers & Ray Charles
Wild Women Don't Have the Blues

Artist of the Day: Hemingway, As Boxer - Jeff Mitchell

hemingway, as boxer jeff mitchell boxingbear
artist bio: Jeff Mitchell is the founder of Boxing Bear Studio, a Design and Art studio based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jeff works across disciplines, from stark pen and ink illustrations, to heavily textured digital paintings, and mixed-media paintings using acrylic and screen printing. Through Boxing Bear Studio, Jeff has sold his artwork all over the world and participated in shows across the US. Visit to keep up-to-date.
Although Tulsa, Oklahoma based artist Jeff Mitchell touts his artwork as indie art prints and posters for guys, this gal likes his work. Be sure to check out Sigmund Freud.

Guy or gal, you'll enjoy his artwork.

I chose "Papa" Hemingway because I just finished The Paris Wife, a book from first wife, Hadley Richardson's  point of view. It's the story of her marriage with the pugilist/writer. They drank. A lot. There is a bare knuckle boxing match in a living room, and then, a lot, I mean a lot, of brawls. I think it sad he alienated even his most devoted friends. And of course, his end is tragic.

Of all the characters, I found Zelda Fitzgerald the most fascinating. But, I digress.

Hem, and all four of his wives, led wildly adventurous, rollicking, volatile, drunken lives.

Poem Therapy 9:53 P.M. 11 July 2012: Our Valley -

Our Valley
Phillip Levine

We don't see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August 
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.

You probably think I'm nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you're thrilled and terrified.

You have to remember this isn't your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.
My little valley is the very bottom of what once was Lake Bonneville, a primordial lake. It is flanked by the Rocky Mountains to the East, and The Great Salt Lake to the West. The soil is rich. On a humid day, the sulphur smell and tang of salt wafts over the land and for a moment it is possible to believe the ocean is nearby.

Like the poem, I have to remember that this small patch of Earth, is not mine, even though I have a paper that says I own it. I am passing through, just like all of those who came before me who had a title with their signature of ownership.

My great-great uncle lived on this land ninety four years ago. He walked and rode his horse up the same street that is in front of my home. The street was a dirt road until well into the forties. It is now something of a residential highway with its steady stream of cars.

William's funeral cortage, a wagon draped with black silk, was pulled up this street by horses with feathered headresses, to the cemetery. Occasionally, a hearse followed by a length of cars with thier lights on will pass by my house, headed for the cemetery.

Today is my Uncle William's birthday. If he were alive, he would be 114. He died in France in transport to the front, to Verdun, just three days after arriving, at the age of twenty-one.

Of course I never knew him. I am not exactly sure what my connection, (fascination, obsession),with him is, other than he arrived in my thoughts one day, took up residence, insisted on being acknowledged, and is as real to me as any relative I've known in the flesh.

A little weird, I know.

My intention was to visit his grave today, and pour a beer into the grass beside his headstone, but I spent the entire day with friends, and just barely got back from swimming.

I can't say that I believe in an afterlife that any religion has offered, but I do believe in a continuation of energy. Energy never dies, it just changes form. What form is it? Not anyone on the planet knows for certain.

Artist of the Day: Cockatoo Papageno Articulated Paper Doll - Emma Kidd

cockatoo  papageno diy articulated paper doll emma kidd benconservato
artist bio: All creations here are by me, Emma Kidd. I'm an Australian artist, illustrator, printmaker, photographer. I spend most of my time creating things. I like monsters and dream scapes. I especially like the sea. I studied textiles and design at one point in my life, and find that this part of me still needs to also be expressed at times. Find my portfolio site and blog at
There is magic in Sydney, New South Wales-based artist Emma Kidd's drawings of beasts and articulated dolls.

I look at this cockatoo paper doll and see the influence Maurice Sendack's beasts. I just love it.

July Books 2012

Three guesses as to which book I'm at fever pitch to read.

It's too hot to lie about in a hammock, even in the shade, so I have my stack of July's book next to my vintage seafoam-turquoise overstuffed reading chair. All I need is an pomegranate iced tea.

The Paris Wife - Paula McLain
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Bring Up the Bodies - Hilary Mantel
Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.

A Hologram for the King - Dave Eggers
In a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from weary, recession-scarred America, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter’s college tuition, and finally do something great. In A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers takes us around the world to show how one man fights to hold himself and his splintering family together in the face of the global economy’s gale-force winds. This taut, richly layered, and elegiac novel is a powerful evocation of our contemporary moment — and a moving story of how we got here.

The World Without You - Joshua Henkin
It’s July 4, 2005, and the Frankel family is descending upon their beloved summer home in the Berkshires. But this is no ordinary holiday. The family has gathered to memorialize Leo, the youngest of the four siblings, an intrepid journalist and adventurer who was killed on that day in 2004, while on assignment in Iraq.

The Forty Days of Musa Dagh - Franz Werfel
The Forty Days of Musa Dagh is Franz Werfel's masterpiece that brought him international acclaim in 1933, drawing the world's attention to the Armenian genocide. This is the story of how the people of several Armenian villages in the mountains along the coast of present-day Turkey and Syria chose not to obey the deportation order of the Turkish government. Instead, they fortified a plateau on the slopes of Musa Dagh Mount Moses and repelled Turkish soldiers and military police during the summer of 1915 while holding out hope for the warships of the Allies to save them.

Sacre Bleu: A Comedy D'Art - Christopher Moore
In July 1890, Vincent van Gogh went into a cornfield and shot himself. Or did he? Why would an artist at the height of his creative powers attempt to take his own life . . . and then walk a mile to a doctor's house for help? Who was the crooked little "color man" Vincent had claimed was stalking him across France? And why had the painter recently become deathly afraid of a certain shade of blue? These are just a few of the questions confronting Vincent's friends—baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec—who vow to discover the truth about van Gogh's untimely death. Their quest will lead them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late nineteenth-century Paris.

The Memory Factory: The Forgotten Women Artist of Vienna 1900 - Julie M. Johnson
The Memory Factory introduces an English-speaking public to the significant women artists of Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, each chosen for her aesthetic innovations and participation in public exhibitions. These women played important public roles as exhibiting artists, both individually and in collectives, but this history has been silenced over time. Their stories show that the city of Vienna was contradictory and cosmopolitan: despite men-only policies in its main art institutions, it offered a myriad of unexpected ways for women artists to forge successful public careers. Women artists came from the provinces, Russia, and Germany to participate in its vibrant art scene. However, and especially because so many of the artists were Jewish, their contributions were actively obscured beginning in the late 1930s. Many had to flee Austria, losing their studios and lifework in the process. Some were killed in concentration camps. Along with the stories of individual women artists, the author reconstructs the history of separate women artists' associations and their exhibitions.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith
While Abraham Lincoln is widely lauded for saving a Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead has remained in the shadows for hundreds of years. That is, until Seth Grahame-Smith stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln, and became the first living person to lay eyes on it in more than 140 years. Using the journal as his guide and writing in the grand biographical style of Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, Seth has reconstructed the true life story of our greatest president for the first time-all while revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation.

America the Beautiful - Moon Unit Zappa
America Throne is living the good life in L.A. Her career is sprouting, and she is in love -- with Jasper Husch, a sexy-sultry artist from San Fran. But just as soon as they've realized domestic bliss, Jasper has a change of heart, and America falters on the slippery slope of hope: hoping that he will come back, hoping that new sex will erase all evidence of him, and hoping that in nurturing a truce with her dead father she will make peace with all men.

Why Do Men Have Nipples? Hundreds of Questions You'd Only Ask Your Doctor After Your Third Martini - Mark Leyner & Billy Goldberg, M.D.
Is There a Doctor in the House? Say you’re at a party. You’ve had a martini or three, and you mingle through the crowd, wondering how long you need to stay before going out for pizza. Suddenly you’re introduced to someone new, Dr. Nice Tomeetya. You forget the pizza. Now is the perfect time to bring up all those strange questions you’d like to ask during an office visit with your own doctor but haven’t had the guts (or more likely the time) to do so. You’re filled with liquid courage . . . now is your chance! If you’ve ever wanted to ask a doctor . . .
Around the World in 80 Dinners: The Ulitamate Culinary Adventure - Cheryl & Bill Jamison
After years of writing award-winning cookbooks, Cheryl and Bill Jamison were ready to take a break. They packed their bags, locked up their house in Santa Fe, and set off on a three-month-long visit to ten countries—all on frequent-flier miles.

The Collage Workbook: How to Get Started and Stay Inspired - Randel Plowman
Both a popular hobby and a recognized art form, collage encompasses a wide range of creative styles and techniques--explored here by the creator of the popular A Collage a Day blog. Offering step-by-step instruction, visual inspiration, and even a library of copyright-free images, this hands-on guide covers all the necessary materials, tools, and know-how, from adding color and transferring images, to d├ęcollage (tearing away layers). And to spark the reader's imagination, there are 52 creativity prompts, such as a collage using the letters of a single word.

Bent, Bound & Stiched: Collage, Cards and Jewelry with a Twist - Giuseppina "Josie" Cirincione
Whether you're a collage artist ready for new techniques or a paper crafter looking to broaden your skills, reinventing your artwork is easy with complete step-by-step photos and instructions for twenty projects, including cards with decorative sewing-machine stitching, a pendant sporting a photo image on shrink plastic and even a photo stand for displaying your favorite snapshots.

This Moment: 10 July 2012 - DMV Drivers License Division

Every grey vinyl and metal seat for the first three rows is occupied by drivers waiting for their number to be called. 252 is now being served. Now 253 is being served at Window 4. A child directly behind me is listing the upcoming days and their temperatures in an alternating whining and sing-song voice. The noise in this room is as loud and assaulting as Walmart acoustics. My daughter has her blond hair piled on the top of her head in a loose knot. The skin of her forearm looks ghostlike in comparison to my olive. A child dressed only in a patterned diaper is pounding the chairs in front of where I am seated. It is unbearably hot outside, and despite the cool circulated air, heat lingers in pockets each time the door opens. Number 256 is called and my daughter walks to Window 7 to renew her license. The next time she is required to renew it, she will be four years older and experienced in the world as an adult and will no longer require my help. I wonder what the next four years are hiding behind it's back. It is likely my daughter may be married, with a child, my grandchild. I am certain the years hold departures in its tight fists. The test came back negative. A relief. Also a frustration. More blood tests are required to find the source of his ailment. The years will find the answer.