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VENUS JPG SC20120324-200905 AUTO2

Leaving Minnehaha Falls At Dusk, Droid Screenshot of the Night Sky, Star
Chart over Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 24, 2012,
photos © 2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




NIGHT VISION


Leaving Minnehaha Falls at dusk,
a woman brushes by in a black beret.
On her forearm, a Libra tattoo.
On her face, the rising crescent Moon.

“Look,” I say, “Venus & Jupiter.”
She pauses, points, “Back there, that’s Mars.”
Seven Sisters, one hundred and eighty degrees—
the astrological Underworld.




After a Pampered Chef party in South Minneapolis, Liz and I stopped to take photographs at Minnehaha Falls. When we climbed the limestone steps to leave the park, a sliver of Moon rose next to two of the brightest stars. When I pulled up the Droid Star Chart app, they proved to be planets. Venus and Jupiter hovered over the waxing crescent Moon with the Pleiades close by. Right behind me, a stranger pointed out Mars.

According to Shamanic Astrology, March, 2012 begins the Underworld Saga where Venus (the feminine) and Mars (the masculine) only meet when they are with the Sun. Mars is always retrograde when it is opposite the Sun. This year it will be retrograde in the sign of Virgo for 81 days, January 23 to April 13, 2012. In 2113, Mars dips below the horizon and into the Underworld, a time of chaos and surrender in service to people and the greater community. Read more about the future at Shamanic Astrology and the predicted night sky at Sky and Telescope.

Star Chart was introduced to my by my brother when he visited last Fall and pulled up the night sky right over our heads. I highly recommend it. My second favorite app of the month is The Photographer’s Ephemeris. With TPE, you can instantly access information on the exact rise and set of the Sun and Moon, your altitude in relationship to the landscape, and times when the Sun and Moon will be at an optimal location in the sky for your photograph. When Liz and I were at the 50-foot bottom of Minnehaha Falls, we saved our location in TPE giving us all the info we need to return at an optimum time to photograph the Moon over the falls. Venus and Mars are alright tonight.

-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 31st, 2012

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2011-08-22 18.02.04

MN State Fair Button, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2011, all photos © 2009-2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


The Minnesota State Fair kicked off last week and for the first time since 2007, I am writing my annual State Fair piece after attending the Fair. That means I can speak from the voice of experience (that, and the fact that I spent 11 solid hours tootling around the fairgrounds last Saturday). 2011-08-27 13.50.14This year there are over 80 foods on-a-stick; I recommend the Teriyaki Chicken on-a-stick from Chan’s, a new vendor for 2011. Liz and I shared the combo and topped it off with The Original Minneapple Pie smothered in cinnamon ice cream.

Of course, the Minnesota State Fair is about more than food, or the debut of Peach Glazed Pig Cheeks On-A-Stick, so our State Fair posts are always chock-full of history. Last year we covered F. Scott Fitzgerald’s A Night At The Fair, Ye Old Mill, and artist Debra Frasier’s debut of the Alphabet Forest at Baldwin Park. Debra is back again this year and you can read more about her work at her official website. Or check out red Ravine dressed in her State Fair alphabet (yes, that’s me standing a letter behind).

In 2011, the Minnesota State Fair celebrates its 100th Fine Arts Exhibition (over 2300 pieces were submitted in 2010). In the past, I’ve written about the history of Princess Kay of the Milky Way and the Butter Queens (2011 marks the 40th year sculptor Linda Christensen has carved their likenesses out of butter); Minnesota State Fair poster artists; mascots Fairborne and Fairchild; and the 2011-08-27 14.24.13 autotradition of Tom Thumb Donuts. To change it up this year, I’m going to focus on the integration of the Smartphone and digital technology into the State Fair’s 150-year-old traditions. When the past meets the present, you get a gleaming new Minnesota State Fair Smartphone App and the Minnesota State Fair History Tour on your mobile!



Minnesota State Fair Smartphone App & Mobile Web Site


I was thrilled to download the new Minnesota State Fair Smartphone app on my Droid this year (also available for iPhone) a week before I attended the Fair 2011-08-27 15.57.58. All the information I needed was right at my fingertips. The Food Finder is organized alphabetically (or you can search by food item). When you click on a vendor, all details of that vendor are listed, including a Show Map feature that pins their exact location on the2011-08-27 14.14.49 auto fairgrounds. Other tabs include Merch Search, Fun Finder, and a colorful digital map. We used the app constantly during our 11 hour visit. Oh, and if you don’t want to download the app, you can visit the Minnesota State Fair Mobile Website with Google Maps integration. I’m grateful to Liz for pointing me to the new app. If you have a Smartphone, I encourage you to go paperless!



Minnesota State Fair History Walk & Cell Phone Tour


Liz and I had a blast listening  to sounds of the Minnesota State Fair’s past on the new 13-stop cell phone tour. By calling (877) 411-4123, you can hear recorded history narratives from your cell phone (or any land line), or use your Smartphone to locate QR codes, and brush up on State Fair trivia while you shuttle to the Fair’s 2011-08-27 15.11.44 autogate. We downloaded a bar code scanner app on our Droids, scanned the QR code (Quick Response code for Smartphones) at each information board, and Whoosh!, we were jetted right to the history page for that stop. (If you press the Like button at the bottom, a link is also added to your Facebook page so family and friends can follow your tour!).

The Minnesota State Fair History Walk & Cell Phone Tour offers a fun 2011-08-27 14.57.03 and engaging way to learn about State Fair history and explore all corners of the grounds. When you complete the self-guided tour, you receive a prize (I won’t say what it is!) at the J.V. Bailey House or (before 8pm) at the Minnesota Historical Society’s booth on the first floor of the Grandstand. Tour brochures are available at information booths and the 13 tour stops. The tour is presented by the Minnesota State Fair Foundation and the Minnesota Historical Society.



_____________________________________________________________

Spaghetti & Meatball Dinner On-A-Stick, Fried Fruit On-A-Stick, Macaroni & Cheese On-A-Stick, Bull Bites, Deep Fried Tater Tots On-A-Stick, Grilled Shrimp On-A-Stick, Vintage Kids & Fair Food!, Leprechaun Legs, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



MN State Fair – Foods On-A-Stick


Our Minnesota State Fair post wouldn’t be complete without the annual foods on-a-stick list. Here’s the 2011-08-27 17.43.36lineup for 2011 (the Sweet Corn Ice Cream really hits the spot). If you are looking for the location of specific foods at the Fair, here’s a link to their FoodFinder with a map of the Fair (0r use the Smartphone app I wrote about above!). The Minnesota State Fair runs through Monday, September 5th. 2011-08-27 17.49.10 autoAnd if you happen to eat just a little too much, feel free to visit the brand new 5,500 square foot restroom with 51 sinks and 75 shiny white toilets where many of the 22,000 rolls of toilet paper are used up at the Minnesota State Fair. Above all else, ENJOY!

  1. Alligator Sausage on-a-stick
  2. Baby Potatoes on-a-stick
  3. Bacon (Fried) on-a-stick
  4. Bananas (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  5. Beef Kabobs on-a-stick
  6. Bologna (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  7. Bomb Pops on-a-stick
  8. Breakfast Lollipop
  9. Butterscotch Cake on-a-stick
  10. Candy Apples on-a-stick
  11. Candy Bars (deep fried) on-a-stick
  12. Caramel Apples on-a-stick
  13. Caramel Apple Puppies on-a-stick
  14. Catfish on-a-stick
  15. Cheese on-a-stick
  16. Cheesecake (chocolate covered) on-a-stick
  17. Chicken on-a-stick
  18. Chicken Teriyaki on-a-stick
  19. Chicken Bites on-a-stick
  20. Coffee (frozen) on-a-stick
  21. Corndogs on-a-stick
  22. Cotton Candy on-a-stick
  23. Custard on-a-stick
  24. Espresso (frozen) on-a-stick
  25. Fruit (fresh) on-a-stick
  26. Fruit (fried) on-a-stick
  27. Fry Dog on-a-stick
  28. Fudge Puppies on-a-stick
  29. Gyro on-a-stick
  30. Hot Dago on-a-stick
  31. Hot Dish on-a-stick
  32. Hot Dogs (wrap) on-a-stick
  33. Jerk Chicken on-a-stick
  34. Key Lime Pie Dipped in Chocolate (frozen) on-a-stick
  35. Kufta Kabob on-a-stick
  36. Lamb (leg of) on-a-stick
  37. Macaroni & Cheese on-a-stick
  38. Marshmallows (Chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  39. Mashed Potatoes (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  40. Meatballs (porcupine wild rice & ground pork) on-a-stick
  41. Meatballs (Greek) on-a-stick
  42. Meatballs (Scotch) on-a-stick
  43. Meat Kabobs on-a-stick
  44. Northwoods Salad on-a-stick
  45. Nut Roll (chocolate-dipped) on-a-stick
  46. Pickles on-a-stick
  47. Pizza on-a-stick
  48. Pizza Kabob on-a-stick
  49. Poncho Dogs on-a-stick
  50. Pork Chops on-a-stick
  51. Pretzel Dog on-a-stick
  52. Pronto Pups on-a-stick
  53. Sausage on-a-stick
  54. Sausage and Cheese Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers on-a-stick
  55. Scotch Eggs on-a-stick
  56. Shrimp on-a-stick
  57. Shrimp (grilled) on-a-stick
  58. S’mores on-a-stick
  59. S’mores (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  60. Spaghetti & Meatballs on-a-stick
  61. Spudsters on-a-stick
  62. Steak on-a-stick
  63. Taffy Pops on-a-stick
  64. Tater Tots (deep-fried) on-a-stick
  65. Texas Steak Dinner on-a-stick
  66. Texas Tater Dog on-a-stick
  67. Tornado Potato on-a-stick
  68. Turkey Tenderloin (bacon-wrapped) on-a-stick
  69. Turtle Puppies on-a-stick
  70. Vegie Fries on-a-stick
  71. Vegetable Kabobs on-a-stick
  72. Waffle (Belgian) on-a-stick
  73. Walleye on-a-stick
  74. Wild Rice Corndog on-a-stick
  75. Wonder Bar (chocolate-dipped ice cream) on-a-stick


Total Number of Foods-On-A-Stick: 75*


New Minnesota State Fair Foods In 2011
(including *6 new foods on-a-stick not on list above)


• Breakfast Lollipop (sausage patty dipped in corn muffin batter, deep fried and served on-a-stick with a side of maple syrup)
@Axel’s, located on the southeast outside corner of the Food Building
• Carnitas Asian Fusion Taco (pork carnitas served on a flour or spinach pepper, and topped with Asian sauces)
@San Felipe Tacos, located in the Food Building
• Chocolate Covered Jalapeno Peppers on-a-stick (a hot and spicy confection)
@Andre’s Watermelon, located on Underwood Street next to Ye Old Mill
• Coushari Rice with Lentils (rice and lentils with Holy Land sauce, served with a side of pasta or fried onions)
@Holy Land Deli, located inside the International Bazaar, southeast corner
• Crab Fritters (crab meat, Caribbean herbs and spices with veggies all rolled and deep-fried into a fritter, served with a side of southwest dripping sauce)
@Ollie’s Crab Fritters, located on the corner of Underwood Street and Murphy Avenue
• Deep-Fried Cookie Dough (fresh cookie dough coated with a sweet batter, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar)
@Sonny’s Spiral Spuds, located in the Food Building
• Dirt Dessert (Oreo cookies, vanilla pudding, whipped cream, cream cheese and gummy worms)
@Spaghetti Eddie’s, located on Cooper Street and Dan Patch Avenue
• Fresh Fruit Wrap (sliced fresh fruit wrapped in a soft tortilla shell with a sweet and creamy cheese spread)
@Fried Fruit, located in Carousel Park east of Grandstand Ramp
• Grilled Yankee Apple Pie & Chocolate Sandwich (Minnesota grown apples sauteed with spices and topped with chocolate, grilled in Brioche bread)
@Moe & Joe’s, located on Judson Ave. by the CHS Miracle of Birth Center
• Jamaican Jerk Fries (french fries dusted with Harry’s own Jamaican Jerk seasoning)
@Harry Singh’s Caribbean Restaurant, located in the Food Building
• Mexican Horchata Beverage (cold drink made of rice, almonds, cinnamon, vanilla and sugar)
@El Sol Mexican Food, located on the southwest outside corner of the Food Building
• Minneapple Pie (homemade deep-fried apple pie served hot with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream)
@The Original Minneapple Pie, at the corner of Judson Avenue & Underwood Street, north of the Dairy Building
• Northwoods Salad on-a-stick (a caprese salad-mozzarella cheese and grape tomatoes on-a-stick with dressing and served over a bed of Minnesota wild rice)
@Giggle’s Campfire Grill, located on Cooper Street and Lee Avenue in The North Woods
• Pizza Kabob on-a-stick (three individually flavored Green Mill Pizza rolls served on-a-stick)
@Green Mill, located near the Baldwin Park Stage
• Pretzel Dog on-a-stick (a hot dog baked in pretzel dough, served on-a-stick)
@Der Pretzel Haus, located on Liggett Street, in front of the Horse Barn
• Sweet Corn Ice Cream (cream-based ice cream with blended sweet corn kernels, served in a waffle cone with a choice of wild blueberries or caramel bacon topping)
@Blue Moon Dine In Theater, located at the corner of Chambers Street and Carnes Avenue
• Teriyaki Chicken on-a-stick (served with fried rice, egg rolls, and spring rolls)
@Chan’s Concessions, located on Judson Avenue near the Dairy Building
• White Razzie Puppies on-a-stick (Belgian waffle with white chocolate baked inside, then dipped in dark chocolate and drizzled with raspberry sauce)
@Granny’s Kitchen Fudge Puppies, located on the outside west wall of the Food Building


State Fair photos on Flickr.


-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

-related to posts: double Ferris wheel haiku, MN State Fair On-A-Stick (Happy B’Day MN!), On-The-Go List Of Must-Haves (MN State Fair), Nightshot – Carousel, MN State Fair On-A-Stick II – Video & Stats, food on-a-stick haiku

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NS2011_RomanVerostko

Northern Spark Installation by Roman Verostko, Three-Story Drawing Machine, Minneapolis College of Art & Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2011, photo © Creative Commons by Northern Spark. Some rights reserved.


I walk in the tradition of the Night Owl, and revel in the sleepless rituals of nuit blanche. Tonight from 9pm to 6am, Liz and I will be traversing the Mississippi River (from Minneapolis to St. Paul and back!) to visit the art installations of Northern Spark. Various corners of the Twins Cities will be lit up from dusk until dawn with venues that include: the Mill City Silos, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, poetry at All My Relations Arts, the GLOW-a-BOUT at Loring Park near the Walker Art Center (open all night and featuring the Lullaby Experiment by Marcus Young, creator of Everyday Poems For City Sidewalk), and four site specific installations (see Three-Story Drawing Machine by Roman Verostko above) at my alma mater, the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.

The information below is from the Northern Spark Media Kit. The Northern Spark website includes a complete list of events that you can add to your own interactive map that charts your night’s events. You can also download and print this PDF of the Northern Spark Guide listing the details of each installation across the Twin Cities. Hope to see you at this community event for the Arts, public art at its best!



The Nuit Blanche Movement


The idea of a nuit blanche (translated as “white night” or “sleepless night”) is an art event/tradition first seen in St. Petersburg, Russia and Berlin, Germany in the mid 1990s and first named “nuit blanche” in Paris in 2002. Since that time, the idea of the nuit blanche has expanded dramatically becoming a popular art event in cities throughout the world.

Today, a Nuit Blanche event consists of art installations and events in public spaces and museums, art galleries, and other cultural institutions opening their doors free of charge to the public from dusk till dawn. In effect, the host city itself is turned into a de facto art gallery, providing space for art installations, performances (music, film, dance, performance art), social gatherings, and other activities.

Besides St. Petersburg, Berlin, and Paris, nuit blanche events have taken place in Toronto, New York City, Tel Aviv, Santa Monica, and Montreal.



Northern Spark 2011


Spearheaded by Northern Lights.mn, Northern Spark is the first ever nuit blanche event in the Midwest. Northern Lights.mn is a roving, collaborative, interactive media-oriented, arts agency from the Twin Cities but for the world. It presents innovative art in the public sphere, both physical and virtual, focusing on artists creatively using technology, both old and new, to engender new relations between audiences and artwork and more broadly between people and their built environments.

Northern Spark will take place from June 4 (sundown ~8:55 p.m.) to June 5, 2011 (sunrise ~5:28 a.m.) at various locations along the Mississippi River and surrounding areas in Minneapolis and St. Paul. More than 60 artists from Minnesota, the surrounding area, and select locations across the country will be represented at the event.


NS2011_DeboraMiller

Northern Spark Installation by Deborah Miller, Mill City Silos, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2011, photo © Creative Commons by Northern Spark. Some rights reserved.



Northern Spark:
First All Night Take Over Of The Twin Cities



MINNEAPOLIS, May 3, 2011 – It’s no secret Minneapolis St Paul is one of the leading centers of art in the United States. But on June 4 this year, the Twin Cities will join for the first time, the worldwide Nuit Blanche arts movement by hosting “Northern Spark,” the area’s first ever, all-night long arts festival.

For one night only, more than 60 regional and national artists together with the Twin Cities’ arts community will display new art installations at public places and unexpected locations throughout the city. Directed and produced by Northern Lights.mn and funded by the MN State Arts Board, Northern Spark takes place this summer from sunset on June 4 (8:55 p.m.) until the morning of June 5, 2011 (sunrise 5:28 a.m.).

“The Twin Cities has an amazing art culture and reputation,” says Northern Lights director, Steve Dietz. “Our aim is to really showcase that artistic excellence in a way never quite seen before by transforming the cities’ urban landscapes into a Twin Cites-wide art gallery for one special night.” The Northern Spark event will include a wide diversity of art forms and projects including multi-story projections, audio environments with vistas, installations traveling down the Mississippi on barges, houseboats and paddleboats, headphone concerts, and the use of everything from bioluminescent algae and sewer pipes for organs to more traditional media such as banjos and puppets.

One of the most highly anticipated installations is Jim Campbell’s “Scattered Light” from New York’s Madison Square Park, in which LED light bulbs suspended in a cube-shape on high tensile wire blink on and off to recreate the forms of pedestrians’ movements in three dimensions. Other artists involved in the nuit blanche include Christopher Baker, Phillip Blackburn, Body Cartography, Bart Buch, Barbara Claussen, Wing Young Huie, Debora Miller, Minneapolis Art on Wheels, Ali Momeni, Janaki Ranpura, Red76, Rigo 23, Jenny Schmid, Andréa Stanislav, Piotr Szyhalski, Diane Willow, Roman Verostko, Liu Xuguang, Marcus Young, and others.

The event is a collaboration — rarely seen on this kind of scale — of more than 40 partners each of which will sponsor one or more projects for the duration of the night. The goal is to showcase the urban splendor of the Twin Cities in a unique way, introducing a broad and diverse audience to innovative local and national talent in an inspiring journey through the night.


NS2011_WingYoungHuie

NS2011_DeboraMiller

Northern Spark Installations: Wing Young Huie (TOP) by Nomad World Pub, St. Paul, Minnesota, Deborah Miller (BOTTOM) at Mill City Silos, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2011, © Creative Commons by Northern Spark. Some rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, June 4th, 2011

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Fire & Ice

Fire & Ice, Winter Solstice Celebration, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2010, photos © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Sitting, staring out the window. The Hairy Woodpecker has found our suet feeder. This year we moved the deck feeders two feet South to protect them from the squirrels. The rodents can jump about 4 feet from the deck rail to the feeders if they put their minds to it. I love the woodpeckers and am happy they have found a safe place to feed for the Winter.

Last night we celebrated Winter Solstice. Holding On, Letting Go Letting go of what we want to leave in the Dark, making conscious choices about what to bring into the Light. I was quiet, more withdrawn than usual. Liz wore the Bear this year. I loved watching her dance down the path, calmly and playfully.

Ice Candle The night was cloudy, with a frigid West Wind blowing right into our faces. My fingers grew numb; I pulled them into my coat to keep warm. Homemade ice candles lit the path down to the fire ring. We didn’t hear the coyotes. Or the Great Horned Owl from last year. There were times when we stood by the fire in complete Silence. Other moments when drums and rattles were going full force. The drummer in me is happy at these rituals.

Morning finds me tired, sore, smelling like smoke from last year’s Yule tree. Solar Tree It’s 4 degrees as I type. A powerful Solstice is a day away. What makes it so potent is something that has not happened in 450 years — the combination of a Winter Solstice Blue Moon (the original meaning of a Blue Moon was Four Full Moons in one season) which coincides with a Total Lunar Eclipse.

According to NASA, an eclipse of the Moon can only take place at Full Moon, and only if the Moon passes through some portion of Earth’s Winter Solstice Fireshadow. Unlike a Solar Eclipse, it is safe to view with the naked eye. From a Shamanic perspective, the Total Lunar Eclipse collapses time and accelerates what’s already in motion. The rare Winter Solstice Full Moon Total Lunar Eclipse is a time that creates maximum synchronization of Solar and Lunar cycles, strengthening the power and intensity of the Sun and Moon together. When this happens the New Year brings increased understanding of a larger cycle of events at work in the world, and of lineage, the knowledge passed down from the Ancients.


Here are the times for Solstice & Eclipse events in Minnesota (CST):

Total Eclipse of the Moon — Tuesday, December 21st, 1:41am to 2:53am CST
Full Blue Moon in Gemini — Tuesday, December 21st, 2:13am CST
Winter Solstice 2010 — Tuesday, December 21st, at 5:38pm CST


Hours to view the reddish hues of the eclipsed December Moon vary, depending on where you live. In Europe and the eastern United States and Canada (time zones AST, Tiny Solstice MoonEST and CST), the entire eclipse occurs during the early morning hours of December 21, 2010. For the western United States and Canada (time zones MST and PST), the eclipse begins before midnight on the night of December 20, and ends sometime after midnight on the morning of December 21. In Alaska and Hawaii (time zones AKST and HST), most of the eclipse occurs on the night of December 20, but ends early on December 21.

You can find official times in your area at Mr. Eclipse and a detailed breakdown of the phases of this year’s Winter Solstice Total Lunar Eclipse. If you don’t feel like braving the elements, NASA is providing a live webcam at their site.


Another year is coming to a close. The frost on our windows tells me Winter is here to stay. We have had a cold December. One that finds pleasure in mimicking the sub-zero temps we usually see in January. And the snow! Almost three feet of it. Last weekend we were digging out. This weekend, back to the mundane chores of living. Chop wood, carry water. You can’t get away from it. Blue sky peeks over the oaks and ash. The woodpecker has flown from the feeder; a Lunar Eclipse is on the way.


2004 Lunar Eclipse Sequence, (c) 2004 Fred Espenak, courtesy Fred Espenak, Mr. Eclipse at http://www.mreclipse.com


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, December 20th, 2010 , partially based on a Sunday Writing Practice about Frost

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My Refrigerator

My Refrigerator, BlackBerry Shots, Golden Valley, Minnesota, September 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


To some, refrigerators are bare places, slick and spit-polish clean. Enamel, stainless steel, plastic. Avocado greens and lemon yellows in the 1970′s. Black, white, and stainless steel, the current aesthetic. For some, appliances are pieces of art — sleek, retro, places that make a statement through even curves and vintage hardware. In our house, the fridge is a place that collects — grocery lists, receipts, magnets, calendars, bits and pieces of our lives. One day, we realize the clutter for what it is, throw the valuable photos and magnets in a shoebox, and toss the rest. Until the cycle begins again.

The front of my refrigerator reflects a timeline of my life, something I call fridge typography. Magnets from Ocean City, Maryland, an old photo of Liz’s sister when she was a small girl, the Morton Salt Umbrella Girl, the official Geocaching logo, Lily and Hope black bear swag from our trip to the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota last July. There is a school photo of my niece, a postcard of Hershey Kisses I sent to Liz when I was in Pennsylvania in May, another of the World’s Largest Boot (size 638 1/2 D) sent to Liz by Bob (or was it Jude) when we were down near Red Wing, Minnesota for a writing retreat earlier this year.


Fridge Topography - 259/365

Fridge Typography, September 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


What does your fridge look like? Is the outside uncluttered and sparse? If so, open the door. What food do you have inside your refrigerator? Is it all fresh and ready to eat? Or are there a few rotten items to be tossed. What about the freezer? Do you have old-style vintage refrigerator coils (remember what it used to be like to defrost condenser coils)? Or is yours state of the art, energy efficient, humming along quietly in the night.




Fifteen minutes should do it. Or if you’re on a roll, go for 20. Get out your fast writing pens and Writing Practice notebook. Jot down My Refrigerator, and Go!




-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, September 19th, 2010

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Scar Geography, Burn Scar From An Art Project, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Scars may be an odd topic, I know. But scars, random warrior marks across body (and mind), remind us that we’ve lived a full life. A nick, a cut, a slice. I remember when I was a young girl, my mother sliced her finger open while peeling potatoes; the wound took several stitches and weeks to heal. And when I was about six, my young brother fell off his tricycle while standing on the seat, reaching for a pickle jar resting on the brick window ledge of our carport. There was blood everywhere; it scared me to death.

Scars have a long memory. They follow some kind of trauma in a life. Here is a little scar geography from the years that I have lived:

 

#1 — Index finger in the crease above the knuckle. I was sharpening dental tools in the late 70′s, when a blade caught on a grinding wheel and popped up into the air. I watched in slow motion; gravity took its course and the steel tip landed in my finger. (Occupational hazard of the dental tool sharpener.)  – Montana

#2 — Middle finger, second crease above the knuckle. While performing the perfect high dive at a pool party (showing off for my high school friends) I didn’t realize how shallow the deep end was. Bam! scraped my knuckles on the bottom and came up bleeding. Not cool. – Pennsylvania

#3 — Inside wrist, right side, a burn scar shaped like a lop-sided heart. I was helping an art school friend paint scalding hot bees wax on her senior project, a huge sculpture made of all natural materials. She’d heat up the dark brown bees wax in an old electric skillet her grandmother gave her and slather it across branches of wood. Memories of art school. — Minnesota

#4 — Inside of left calf - a light burn scar shaped like the edge of the tailpipe I brushed against when stepping off the saddle of my uncle’s Honda. I was about 13 and asked if he’d take me on a ride across Pennsylvania back roads around East Berlin. He forgot to tell me the first rule of the road about motorcycles – always step off the side without the 500-degree tailpipe. (Ironically, it’s the same day I fell in love with motorcycle riding.) – Pennsylvania



Do you have scars on your body, the kind of unexpected life happenings that leave a little mark? Or maybe you’ve had surgery under the knife (before the laser) and have a long zipper down your abdomen or across your right knee. My brother has had two liver transplants and I am awestruck by what he has endured, evidenced by the long scars down his chest. He recently became a candidate for a third transplant, and the last time I was home, he joked that he was going to tattoo a dotted line down his chest – - – - Cut Here.

Scars can also be psychological and emotional. Childhood trauma, abuse, post traumatic stress, or scars associated with cultural rites of passage. Stressful life events become markers, cairns on the journey. Scars provide a rich vein of material to be excavated. In your next Writing Practice, follow the scars across your body. They contain deep memories and feelings, a topographical map through the past.

Scars — 10 minutes, Go!

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Pink Cadillac, Hindsight, outside the Pink Cadillac Diner, Natural Bridge, Virginia, October 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Back in Pennsylvania. I always think I’m going to post more than I do from the road. But at the end of the day, I find myself exhausted. Out as soon as the head hits the pillow. Perhaps it’s the introvert in me. I love traveling West to East, North to South, all the people I see only once a year. I wish there were a dozen of me. Maybe a baker’s dozen.

Yesterday I drove 13 hours back from Georgia with Mom. I spent this October day with my family in Pennsylvania. It’s almost 4am and I find myself wide awake, wanting to write. It’s the best I can do to post a haiku, a note, a few photographs from the Pink Cadillac Diner in Natural Bridge, Virginia. It’s a little off the beaten trail. Mom was finishing up her ice cream cone while I walked out to photograph the Caddy. A young woman strode proudly up behind me with her two daughters, camera in tow.

“My dad took a photo of me in front of this very spot,” she said, “and now I get to take a photo of you.” Snap. I watched her daughters gleaming next to the rusty chrome. “Would you like me to take a photo of all of you together?” I asked. “I’d love that,” she smiled, rushing over to hand me her pocket camera.

Lineage. Family legacies. The things we pass down.

The day was perfect for driving. The light illuminated by Fall. I hung my head out the window and snapped photos of a sunset front over Virginia. There is so much to tell. For the time being, will you settle for the highlights?


  • visiting the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in Augusta, Georgia with my mother
  • walking with my dad through the Brick Pond Ecological Park in North Augusta, South Carolina
  • dining on my uncle’s chili he’s been making since he was 12
  • riding on the back of my brother’s Harley Softtail
  • driving through Virginia with the mountains framed in gold
  • visiting my paternal grandparents’ graves for the first time with my aunt
  • photographing a historic Sand Oak at Westover Memorial Park Cemetery
  • standing by the Savannah River on the down side of Clarks Hill Dam
  • spending the day on the Georgia side of Clarks Hill Lake working on family history with Mom
  • watching the Vikings/Steelers game with my family
  • grits, sweet tea, barbecue hash, boiled peanuts
  • seeing the faces of my brother and mom at the airport when I land
  • talking to Liz on the new BlackBerry from Sconyer’s Bar-B-Que (she asked for hushpuppies)
  • Twittering across the Mason-Dixon line (and the rest of the 1200 mile round trip to Georgia) with the same said BlackBerry
  • photographing the October Blood Moon rising over Pennsylvania, setting over Georgia and South Carolina
  • writing haiku in the air, Minnesota to Maryland and Pennsylvania
  • watching my sister-in-law tap dance across her living room floor (and later my niece and brother’s fiancee danced across the same floor)
  • The Beatles Rock Band with my niece, nephew, and brother in his living room
  • attending a huge Halloween bash with my aunt at the Julian Smith Casino building where in the 1950′s my mother used to go to dances and work barbecues to raise money to build a local church
  • laughing with my family, North and South
  • stopping at the Pink Cadillac Diner in Virginia with Mom on the way home from Georgia





season to season
hindsight is 20/20
reflecting the past;
future remains uncertain,
jumps hoops through the looking glass




-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, October 25th, 2009

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), WRITING TOPIC — MEMORIES OF CARS, WRITING TOPIC– ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS, you can’t go back — 15 haiku, Cassie’s Porch — Then & Now, Excavating Memories

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lifeline – the rio grande , C-41 print film, close up of the Rio
Grande River from the Gorge Bridge, outside Taos, New
Mexico, January 2003, photo © 2003-2009 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.



rivers pour like words–
geological fault line
the length of my heart


gully, gulch, or wash?
the mighty Rio Grande
started as a rift


who can heal the gap?
lost key dangles from the bridge
steady leap of faith











flying – the rio grande (with lens flare), C-41 print film, longshot of the Rio Grande River from the Gorge Bridge, outside Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, photo © 2003-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, September 19th, 2009

-haiku inspired by a Flickr comment on the approach

-related to posts: haiku 2 (one-a-day), Are You River, Desert, Mountains, Ocean, Lake, City, Or None Of The Above?

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Home Ground, Saint Paul, Minnesota, May 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Home Ground, Saint Paul, Minnesota, May 2009, photo © 2009
by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

We’re back after a 2+ week blogcation. How time flies. On Sunday ybonesy sent me an email titled: Getting Back in the Saddle. We both agreed that the vacation from blogging was refreshing; we needed it. We also took a hiatus from electronics, with the exception of learning a bit about Twitter. It’s a whole other world that moves at lightning speed and (like blogging) has its own protocols, courtesies, and idiosyncrasies. But there are some good, smart people on Twitter including a whole slew of writers and artists.

We’ll keep using Twitter for updates, to stay in touch from the field, and to add links we find of interest or that relate to red Ravine. So keep watching our sidebar for the latest Tweets. If you see an RT, it means we picked the link up from another Twitter user and are giving them credit. Oh, and the bit.ly and tiny.url link shorteners we use are perfectly safe. We test them first and wouldn’t steer you in the wrong direction.

But what should I post today? ybonesy’s back from Vietnam and has a few posts in the works; I survived Art-A-Whirl and am excited to be in the studio. I’m leaning toward something simple for our first day back. While on vacation, I didn’t do much writing, but I did go hear Patricia Hampl at the Highland Park Library in St. Paul. I had already finished The Florist’s Daughter and made the commitment to read all of her work; she is my kind of writer.

Her talk in St. Paul did not disappoint. She was there to promote the new book, Home Ground – Language for an American Landscape from Trinity University Press. The book is edited by Barry Lopez and Debra Gwartney and contains an A to Z history of words about the land written by famous writers like Terry Tempest Williams, Barbara Kingsolver, Robert Hass, and Franklin Burroughs.  Lopez gave each writer a list of words for which they wrote a definition using a combination of research and wordsmithing; the result is over 850 terms—from `a`a to zigzag rocks—defined by 45 American writers. It’s beautifully written with pen and ink illustrations by Molly O’Halloran.

Hampl explained that Barry Lopez had asked her over a glass of wine if she would be interested in participating in the project; she agreed. And after being initially uncertain about the words she received, she ended up loving the project. In addition, each writer was asked to choose the place they considered to be their “home ground.” Patricia Hampl chose the North Shore of Lake Superior, womb of the earth, a Minnesota landscape completely different from the urban setting of her home in St. Paul.

What place do you consider your “home ground?”

  
 

Home Ground, Saint Paul, Minnesota, May 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.            Home Ground, Saint Paul, Minnesota, May 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.             Home Ground, Saint Paul, Minnesota, May 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 
 

Home Ground – Language for an American Landscape is a historical map drawn by writers — word geography with cairns that weave through centuries of the American landscape. Liz and I fell in love with the book; she purchased it that evening. When I took the photograph at the top (that’s Liz’s finger holding the book up), Patricia Hampl had just walked out of the library and we chatted for a few seconds about the bloom of Spring on the Minnesota landscape and how well the book sold that night. I’m certain it will find a prominent place on our reference bookshelf.

Thanks for hanging in there with us on our red Ravine break. Thanks for reading. We’re back in the saddle and I’m going to wrap it up with a little taste of Home Ground. There is a short essay on saddle written by Conger Beasley, Jr. where he refers to the twin summits of the Spanish Peaks outside of Walsenburg, Colorado (though it’s closer to ybonesy, I did eat dinner there one evening on a drive to Taos). According to Beasley, because of their resemblance to the torso of a woman at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Spanish Peaks are called Wah-to-yah, “Breasts of the World,” by the Ute Indians and locals refer to the saddle as “the cleavage.” Conger Beasley considers the beautiful and nurturing Spanish Peaks his “home ground.”

  
Here’s a final excerpt from a word near and dear to our hearts: 
 

ravine
Ravine is French for mountain torrent, and comes from the Old French rapine, or “violent rush.” Larger than a gully or a cleft but smaller than a canyon or gorge, a ravine is a small steep-sided valley or depression, usually carved by running water. The word is most often associated with the narrow excavated valley of a mountain stream. A rarer usage denotes a stream with a slight fall between rapids. In A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains, Isabella Bird writes: “After descending about two thousand feet to avoid the ice, we got into a deep ravine with inaccessible sides, partly filled with ice and snow and partly with large and small fragments of rock which were constantly giving way, rendering the footing very insecure.”

      -Kim Barnes, from her home ground, Clearwater Country in Idaho

 

Home Ground Resources:



-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

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Wet Cement, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

Wet Cement, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.








Wet cement,
Opportunity.
It only takes a second
To change this spot
forever.








Another poem from the streets of Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk. I wrote the first piece about the project a few months ago (Sidewalk Poetry — Public Art At Its Best) after attending the opening in Frogtown last October. The project is a collaboration between Saint Paul Public Works and Public Art Saint Paul. It was spearheaded by Marcus Young, Artist In Residence of the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

The untitled poem in the photograph Wet Cement was written by Zoë Jameson. I ran into Zoë and her family at the opening; they were celebrating on the sidewalk near her poem. She kneeled on the cement next to “Opportunity,” and smiled up at her mother who proudly shot photographs of her daughter, the poet.

To view Zoë’s poem in person, here’s a link to the map of the place in Saint Paul where the poem is located. I can’t think of a better way to stay warm this Winter. Or if you’re a teacher, you can print the map out for your class in preparation for a Spring field trip during National Poetry Month this April.

Oh, and one of our readers spotted a poem near the Fitzgerald Theater. She left these words about the project in a comment on red Ravine:


It was absolutely freezing when I ran two blocks from my parking spot to the Fitz; I couldn’t wait to get into the warm lobby. But I was stopped dead in my tracks when I saw one of these poems in the sidewalk. A few steps later, there was another one. When the weather is more cooperative, I’d love to spend a lazy day walking and reading.

It’s really quite lovely to have poetry in our lives this way…coming up from beneath our feet.

Poetry rising from the Earth. If you are heading into downtown St. Paul to see a show, keep your heart open, eyes to the ground, breath connected to the bottom of your feet.



Zoë Jameson has always enjoyed literature because it helps her get inside other people’s heads. When she isn’t reading, she enjoys running, traveling, playing the viola, and spending time with friends. She attends Central High School and has lived in Saint Paul with her parents and her dog, Perk, for over a decade.

— bio from the book Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk


-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

-related to posts: Got Poetry? (National Poem In Your Pocket Day)Celebrate Poetry (Let Me Count The Ways

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vietnam_rel01

Relief Map of Vietnam, 2001, Public Domain, Courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.



I’m a connoisseur of maps. I tape, tack, and paste them up around me in all environments:  work, studio, home, journals, and sketchbooks. My blog partner ybonesy is visiting Vietnam for a few weeks and I’m following her progress – from Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), north to Da Nang, and even further north and inland to Hanoi.

Are there any other map lovers out there? I thought some of you might want to travel along, a vicarious December trip to Vietnam.

There are reams of maps across the Internet. One of my favorite places to visit is Sacred Destinations, a site that contains satellite maps of sacred places all across the world. With a view much like Google Maps, you can click on the little blue balloons and find links to photographs and commentary on each site.

Though her schedule is tight and structured and she may not have time to do much sightseeing, I wanted to note that one of the oldest sacred destinations in Vietnam, Thien Mu Pagoda, is just north of ybonesy’s weekend destination in Da Nang, right outside the city of Hue:


Built in 1601 between a river and a pine forest, the Thien Mu Pagoda (“Heavenly Lady Pagoda”) in Hue is one of the oldest and prettiest religious buildings in the country. Among the many interesting artifacts housed at the complex is the car that took the monk Thich Quang Duc to his self-immolation in 1963 Saigon.


The power of place. You can read more about Thien Mu Pagoda at Sacred Destinations, along with history and photographs. You can also upload reasonably priced PDF travel guides at Travelfish. And find a collection of over 250,000 maps covering all areas of the world at the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin.




Dear yb,

I’m thinking about you half way across the world and holding the space (imagine virtual map pins with tiny red-dotted heads!). Because of one of your travel questions, I learned today that Minnesota has the 13th largest Vietnamese population in the U.S.

I miss you on red Ravine and look forward to your next check-in. Hope your journey is going well.

oo,

QM




  vietnam   vietnam   vietnam   vietnam


This is ybonesy’s second trip to Vietnam this year. To read more about her travels, see her posts and doodles below:

 

-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, December 6th, 2008

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A Little Less War, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

A Little Less War, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






A little less war,
A little more peace,
A little less poor,
A little more eats.









I had planned to write another mandala post tonight, but the time got away from me. I’ve been learning to navigate the new WordPress 2.7 release and I think I’m going to like it. It’s faster and more user friendly, and, of course, WordPress support is unprecedented. But it always takes time to learn something new, so I decided to do another short post, more poetry from Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk.

The project, a collaboration between Saint Paul Public Works and Public Art Saint Paul, is the brainchild of Marcus Young, Artist In Residence of the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota. I did a first piece about the project earlier this week (Sidewalk Poetry — Public Art At Its Best) and thought I would post another poem while it’s fresh in my mind.

The untitled poem in the photograph A Little Less War was written by Eyang Wu. If you’d like to take a slow walk down long city sidewalks and view the poetry for yourself, here’s a link to the map of the section of Saint Paul where the poetry is located. And while you are slow walking in the December chill, remember – Awaken, Awaken, Awaken! Do not waste this precious life!


Eyang Wu is a retired Chinese opera artist originally from Hangzhou, China, and now a resident of the United States. His poem was first written on a kite and flown at Saint Paul’s annual Earth Day celebration, Wishes for the Sky.

    — bio from the book Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk


-posted on red Ravine, Friday, December 5th, 2008

-related to posts: Got Poetry? (National Poem In Your Pocket Day)Celebrate Poetry (Let Me Count The Ways

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CrossWings, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

CrossWings, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



ONE: Squaring the Circle creates an opening which connects the (“I”) Ego with the inner self, freeing up energy for the things that really matter to you. Opposites in conflict settle into balance (like these wings). Medium: Crayola markers and Reeves Water Colour Pencils.




Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Meditation, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



TWO: Stage 7 brings attention to thinking, learning, and discovering creative abilities. This mandala was designed during the Renaissance as an object of meditation. Committing it to memory was thought to draw up love, the life force in all things. Medium: Crayola markers and Reeves Water Colour Pencils.




Circle Squared, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Circle Squared, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



THREE: Learning to feel comfortable with yourself and your place in the scheme of things creates a firm foundation for identity. The balance between circles and squares signifies the harmony between masculine and feminine energies that reside together in each of us. Medium: marker paints.




Crusaders Shield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Crusader’s Shield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



FOUR: Resolution of inner conflict creates a stronger, more complex personality. You start to find yourself motivated by a sense of mission toward worthy goals that engage your whole being and allow you to find your place in the world. Medium: Crayola markers, Portfolio Brand Water-Soluble Oil Pastels, and Reeves Water Colour Pencils.





July Mandalas — Stage 7 – Squaring The Circle


One of the hardest things about this year-long practice of working with mandalas is getting them posted on or near the month I’ve actually created them. Isn’t it amazing how the older we get, the more a year goes by in the blink of an eye?

I was traveling most of July and completed these before I left for Georgia (I’ve had resistance to posting them). I am currently working on September’s mandalas, and have started a drawing on canvas that I hope to paint and complete by mid-November.


This mandala practice began with the post Coloring Mandalas when I decided to take a year to follow the twelve passages of Joan Kellogg’s The Great Round. According to Susanne F. Fincher, the healing benefits of The Great Round: Stage 7 – Squaring The Circle are:

  • choosing goals that accomplish more than Ego desires for wealth, health, and happiness
  • learning to recognize projects worthy of your best efforts, projects that challenge you to grow, create, and care for others
  • dedicating yourself to principles and practices that make life better for you and for those around you



Squaring The Circle is a stage that brings the intellect into sharper focus. For a child, it is going to school for the first time; as a young adult, it might be when you complete your formal education. You are energized with a sense of power, importance, and mission and have great potential to create in ways that may impact the rest of your life.

On the spiritual level, Squaring the Circle is about dedicating yourself to principles and practices that enhance life for you and others. From that perspective, I thought I’d use July’s mandalas to talk about color and the body’s spiritual energy centers — the chakras.



 Body Mapping, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Body Mapping, ancient illustration from Mapping The Body by Mark Kidel and Susan Rowe-Leete, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



The Chakras & Color


Chakra is from the Sanskrit word for wheel. It is believed that we have hundreds of energy centers inside and around us, all connected to major organs and glands that govern parts of our bodies. On a daily basis we collect energy from different levels of vibrations, including color, that are utilized by the body.


Here are the general ideas and color schemes for each chakra:


  • RED – 1st CHAKRA — base of spine: basic needs, physical health, security, survival, connections to first tribe, community
  • ORANGE – 2nd CHAKRA –  between navel and tailbone: autonomy, self-worth, issues around gender, sexuality, money, energy to create (including procreation)
  • YELLOW — 3rd CHAKRA – behind the navel, at the solar plexus: independence, self-esteem, ability to take action, to move toward your goals
  • GREEN — 4th CHAKRA – near the heart: attachment to parents, ability to nurture yourself and others, ability to form intimate relationships, the many ways we love
  • BLUE — 5th CHAKRA – throat area: creating and communicating in your own voice, sharing and expressing gifts, talents, and the spiritual within us
  • INDIGO — 6th CHAKRA – just above and between the eyes: the Third Eye, developing wisdom, center for creative visualization, learning to receive information from the Higher Self
  • VIOLET — 7th CHAKRA – crowns the top of the head: the 1000-petaled lotus, transcending separate existence, living in the moment, connecting with the Universe, belief that you are more than your physical body


What begin to emerge in a year-long mandala practice are patterns of color. As the months go by, you start to notice a gravitation to certain colors (the same way your body is drawn to certain foods that contain the vitamins and minerals you crave). Shades, hues, tints, values make up the thousands of color vibrations that help the body heal.

I am drawn to oranges and reds with certain undertones of blue and shades of black. The oranges and reds are at the base of the spine, connected to survival and root energies. It makes sense to me as I continue to dig into the past while working on my memoir. I revisit what has passed for rediscovery and healing. Certain materials draw me, too; those that create strong bold colors (while others may be drawn to pastels).



What Colors Are Showing Up In Your Mandalas?


RED – Is some part of you feeling vulnerable or in need of healing? How is your relationship with your tribe? Do you have a vibrant stirring of energy to create something new.

ORANGE – Are you honoring your own needs as well as those who are in relationship with you? Do you struggle with addictions to food, money, sex? Is your creative energy ebbing or flowing? Are you acting with integrity around your commitments.

YELLOW – Are you ready to learn, think, plan, take action for your future. Does your self-will overrun your common sense and good judgment. Do you accept yourself fully for who you are and stand up for what you believe in from your own unique point of view.

GREEN – Are you able to forgive (yourself and others)? Is your heart broken? Are you opening emotionally to new relationships or expanding your capacity to love and nurture.

BLUE – Is it time you spoke up about an issue you’ve been quiet about? Are you sharing your gifts with the rest of the world or hoarding them, keeping them close to your body. Do you feel you speak with integrity about your own points of view.

INDIGO – Are your intuitive abilities being expanded at this time. Do you feel a sense of wonder. Do you see the mysteries and joy in our everyday mundane existence.

VIOLET – Are you living in the present moment? Do you feel connected to something bigger than you, a larger Universal Consciousness. Do you share with others the wisdom you have gained from living in this world.


As artists and writers, color detail is of prime importance to us. Volumes of literature have been written about the meanings, color systems, and energies of the chakras. What I have posted is derived from the many books I’ve read over the years (I’ve barely scratched the surface).


For a primer, you can read An Introduction To The Chakras at Chakra Energy. And here are a few more links for exploration, including a Chakra Test to gauge strengths and areas of vulnerability:


There is so much to be learned from the things we take on as practices. Structure, repetition, and dedication to a practice prove to be excellent teachers. Practice helps me to become a better listener.



-posted on red Ravine, Monday, September 8th, 2008

-related to posts: The Void – January Mandalas, Dragon Fight – June Mandalas, Winding Down – July 4th Mandalas, and WRITING TOPIC – CIRCLES

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Electric Snow Cone, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Electric Snow Cone, Minnesota State Fair, half way between St. Paul & Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



It’s Labor Day weekend and we’re recovering from our second day at the Minnesota State Fair. For me, the Fair is about photography, food, and history. On Wednesday, we checked out the State Fair and Sesquicentennial history exhibits and enjoyed a Gnarls Barkley concert and fireworks in the Grandstand.

There is a JFK Remembered exhibit this year that we wanted to attend (Kennedy’s death had a big impact on me as a child). We passed the building when we arrived, but the lines were too long (the exhibit is drawing 20,000 people a day). We had planned to circle back, but you know how it goes at the Fair. Navigation routes are turned topsy-turvy; we never made it back.

The exhibit is the personal collection of Nick Ciacelli. He started collecting in the 4th grade on the day Kennedy was assassinated. The exhibit contains rare items such as Kennedy’s jewelry box, a gift from his father in 1946, and a pair of gold Texas star cufflinks he never got to wear. The exhibit was featured on WCCO News a few nights ago — ‘JFK Remembered’ Exhibit Drawing Record Fairgoers.



        Icy Spoons, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Icy Spoons, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Icy Spoons, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



On Friday, we returned to the Fair. We did the weave-and-dodge past weary food vendors, and over-full rides, then ate our way through the Food Building, packed with wall-to-wall people (wait until you hear about the Pickle Pop on-a-stick!). We visited the Education, Creative Activity, Horticulture, and HealthCare buildings and picked up a few freebies at the Merchandise Mart.

There are 3 days left to attend the Minnesota State Fair. It’s a beautiful cloudless Saturday: low humidity, sun, slight breeze, blue skies. There must be thousands of people planning to venture around St. Paul’s blocked off roads (for the Republican National Convention) to make their way down the Midway. I thought it might be helpful to have a check-off list of must-haves (in no particular order) to take with you to the Fair.



Hidden Values Of A Casket, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Hidden Values Of A Casket, vintage Minnesota Casket Company booth at the MN State Fair, half way between St. Paul & Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




On-The-Go List Of Must-Haves (MN State Fair)


  • State Fair tickets – easy to forget. slide them in your wallet
  • Blue Ribbon Bargain Book — see details under Ways To Save $$$ in the second link on this post
  • Rain jacket – and rain pants if you have them. It drizzled all through Gnarls Barkley and poured as we were leaving. You never know!
  • Portable umbrella – small enough to fit in a backpack. When it comes to umbrellas, remember, you get what you pay for.
  • Shoes with good arches – flat feet or not, your feet and legs will be tired; they need lots of support.
  • Water bottle – unbreakable and full. Fair food is greasy and salty. You are going to be thirsty for water!
  • $$$ — with attachable wallet ring. The Fair makes you spacy. The right accessories help to keep the right things close to your body.
  • Backpack — comfortable with lots of zippered pockets
  • Sweatshirt — hooded, for cooler evenings at the Grandstand
  • Map of the Fairgrounds – with streets, bathrooms, buildings, and information booths labeled. You can pick this up at any Information booth when you enter the Fair. Believe me, you’re going to need it.
  • Tree Sculptures By Name map – kind of like playing the License Plate Game with your kids on the family vacation. (Details in Comment #43 on the second link in this post.)
  • Deals, Drawings, & Giveaways Guide – this is your guide to everything FREE at the Fair. (Details in Comment #43 on the second link in this post.) 
  • Hat — with a brim to shield direct sun from eyes. August in Minnesota is bright!
  • Sunglasses – any kind, cheap or designer. I saw two kids wearing blue LCD light-up sunglasses at night on the Midway. It’s a strange adaptation, but it works!
  • Suntan lotion - does Rudolph ring a bell?
  • List of 63 foods on-a-stick – and their locations on the Fairgrounds. I marked the ones I wanted to try on the map in highlighter. Well, okay, that’s just me. (More info and a list of all 63 foods in the second link on this post.)
  • List of streets blocked off in St. Paul – for the Republican National Convention. It hasn’t officially started, but already there have been street closings and police raids in St. Paul. Is it the Boy Scout motto that says, “Be Prepared?”
  • Plan for your parking spot – it’s mobbed, friends. You’ll pay $9 for the lots. Make an alternative plan to save money. Have any friends living near the Fairgrounds?
  • Cameras and video cam – don’t forget charged batteries, portable tripod
  • Tickets to Gnarls Barkley & Cloud Cult – these were the tickets we had to remember. Varies with the evening. BTW, Cloud Cult is one of Liz’s favorite bands. They combine art and music beautifully in their concerts. Two painters work on canvas during the concert; then they auction the paintings off at the end. See them if you ever get a chance!
  • Trash bags – large brown plastic ones to cover gear and body if it rains
  • Aluminum foil and baggies – for extra foods on-a-stick that you’re too full to eat or want to cart home. We used quite a few of these!
  • List of Must-Do Pointsdo the things important to you first, before you get worn out. For us it was: History Building, Farmers Union, Public Radio, WCCO, Art Building, Crop Art, chickens, Dairy Barn, Butter Queen sculptures, photographs of carousel, Ferris wheel, roller coaster.
  • List of places where there are seats and shade – you’re going to want to get off your feet and out of the sun once in a while! I had a mini-meltdown last night when my ice cream was melting down my hand, a blister was forming on my right foot, and my camera battery died all at the same time. A 15 minute rest on a nearby bench did the trick.
  • ChapStick — for the dry lips that happen from sun, wind, and all that screaming!
  • Napkins, paper towels, & Wet Ones – need I say more? Yeah, grease, and everything else touchy-feely-sticky imaginable.
  • Flashlight — portable LED that hangs around the neck (with fresh batteries)
  • Pressure point wrist bands – for vertigo from the rides. Liz bought these for her plane trip to Georgia this year (I ended up using them on our car rides). Yesterday, I wore them to the Fair. They really do work!
  • Gratitude — to the 3000+ workers who labor at the Fair to make it all possible. (After all, it is Labor Day weekend!)

 

If you don’t live close enough to make it to the Minnesota State Fair, you can live vicariously by visiting the pieces sprinkled throughout this post. They contain all the links and trivia you’ll ever need to know about the Minnesota State Fair (with the exception of their official website).

Or better yet, plan on attending a local Fair this Fall in the part of the planet you call home and write an essay about your own experiences. It’s good to support the local economy (think global, buy local), and have tons of family fun in the process. Oh, and if you think of anything I should add to the list, feel free to leave it in the comments. I just thought of one other thing I neglected to mention — TUMS!



State Fair Chautauqua (150 Years Of Statehood), Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

State Fair Chautauqua (150 Years Of Statehood), celebrating all people and cultures of Minnesota, Minnesota State Fair, half way between St. Paul & Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, August 30th, 2008

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Befriending The Dragon, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Befriending The Dragon, hand-drawn mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



ONE: Hand-drawn mandala incorporating the internal conflict and fight of the Dragon. Started as a blank circle, drawn with a black Sharpie, and colored with Crayola markers, Portfolio Brand Water-Soluble Oil Pastels, and Reeves Water Colour Pencils.




Eye Of The Beholder II, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Eye Of The Beholder II, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



TWO: The eye at the center of this mandala signifies the Ego, the part of you that you call “I.” The birth or rebirth of Ego happens many times during your life as the understanding of your relationship to yourself, and others, changes.




Eschers Dragons, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Escher’s Dragons, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



THREE: Dragon Fight brings about polarization of opposites: dark and light, male and female, angel and devil. Increased inner conflict creates energy that can be channeled into expansion of consciousness. The drawing is based on M.C. Escher.




Mother Earth, Father Sky, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Mother Earth, Father Sky, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



FOUR: A new viewpoint emerges when you endure the tension of opposites during conflict resolution in Stage 6. Opposites are incorporated into one another as Mother Earth, Father Sky. Or the white and black of the Yin Yang symbol. Solutions to conflict bring something entirely new to the situation, something you may not have thought of prior to that moment.




Animal Spirit Guides, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Animal Spirit Guides, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



FIVE: Dragon Fight is experienced during adolescence and other transitional periods as a new phase in your life. Tribal peoples heighten the normal fear and stress of young people to intensify their initiation into adulthood. Initiates are given secret teachings about the animals that serve the tribe as helpers and guides to the Spirit World. This mandala design was inspired by designs on the creation of ancient pottery and based on an illustration by Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess.





June Mandalas — Stage 6 – Dragon Fight


I bet you thought I’d never get June’s mandalas posted. Here’s how it goes – I get the mandalas done, but then need to work them into the energy and timing for the posts; it’s time to publish June’s mandalas!

The theme for the 6th Stage of The Great Round is Dragon Fight. We began Coloring Mandalas as a practice in January, working with the archetypal circle, and following the twelve passages of Joan Kellogg’s The Great Round.  June’s mandalas are colored and drawn with Crayola markers, Portfolio water-soluble oil pastels, Reeve’s Water Colour Pencils, and a black Ultra Fine Point Sharpie (Sharpies are my favorite writing and drawing utensils).



      Totems, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Synthesis, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Dragon Fight takes you face to face with your own internal demons. When you are young, Dragon Fight plays out in adolescent conflicts and helps you separate from your parents, or the tribe or community in which you grew up. You find yourself wanting to break out of traditions; tension increases, issues are polarized, until a new psychological perspective is generated.

As adults, transitions in midlife can bring you around again to the stage of Dragon Fight. On the spiritual level, the 6th Stage is concerned with working through contradictions in belief systems, until your own spiritual footprint emerges.



Eye Of The Beholder (Dragon Close Up), Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

According to the book Coloring Mandalas by Susanne F. Fincher, the healing benefits of The Great Round: Stage 6 – Dragon Fight are:

  • learning how to confront self-doubt
  • facing temptations to misuse power
  • learning to incorporate and synthesize both sides of a conflict
  • learning the value of standing independent from tribe or community
  • working through contradictions between religious dogma and personal spiritual experience


With Dragon Fight behind me, Stage 7 falls at High Summer, in the month of my birth. I’ll be traveling over much of July and have a few mandalas left to color for the next stage. Maybe I’ll create a few of my own while I’m on the road.



        Swoop!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Avocado, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Polka Dot Curve, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Monday, July 14th, 2008

-related to posts: The Void – January Mandalas, Bliss — February Mandalas, Labyrinth — March Mandalas, Beginnings — April Mandalas, Target — May Mandalas, and WRITING TOPIC – CIRCLES

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Mandala Shield, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Mandala Shield, hand-drawn mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




ONE: Hand-drawn mandala, setting pie-shaped boundaries. Made with Crayola markers, glitter glue, and Portfolio water-soluble oil pastels; started as an empty circle.




Celtic Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Celtic Mandala, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

TWO: Celtic mandala set up much like a castle and moat, with mazelike bands of designs protecting tender, leafy vines at the center. When emotions intensify, personal habits and rituals help you feel safe.




Protection, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Protection, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

THREE: Perceptions can make you feel sensitive and vulnerable, open to criticism from others (real or imagined). Mandalas during Stage 5 are about vigilance, protection and defense. The walls don’t have to be heavy – your fortress can be a connected ring of flowers.




Hildegard Of Bingen's Vision, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Hildegard Of Bingen’s Vision, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

FOUR: Mystics transcend the emotional intensity of Stage 5 by using the Target mandala to communicate insights and experiences. This mandala represents the 9 circles of angels and humans in Hildegard of Bingen’s Vision. The empty circle at the center is the mystery of the center where beauty is born.




Circle Boundaries, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Circle Boundaries, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

FIVE: Ringed mandala used to explore feelings. The inner circle is filled with things you fear most. The ring around that is a color that represents courage. The second circle contains mentors, guides, teachers (living or dead). The third, negative thoughts that arise from fear. The fourth, positive behaviors that help manage fear. The fifth circle is filled with positive affirmations.




May Mandalas — Stage 5 – Target

May is a turbulent time in Minnesota. It’s tornado season; the weather is unpredictable. Moods in the month of May seem to follow the seasons. The theme for the 5th Stage of The Great Round is similar to Frog Medicine — protection – setting and keeping good boundaries. It is a Catch-22 that strong boundaries allow us to feel safe when exposing our vulnerabilities. I found it difficult, and comforting, to work on Stage 5.

It was Carl Jung who introduced modern Westerners to the psychological significance of mandalas. He believed we all strive to live out our own unique potential, to experience wholeness.  We began Coloring Mandalas as a practice in January, working with the archetypal circle, and following the twelve passages of Joan Kellogg’s The Great Round.

Target, the 5th cycle of The Great Round, begins after age two, when you discover yourself as separate from your caregivers, and go after what you want. Sometimes seeking creates conflict, and can lead to disappointment or frustration.

In adulthood, we set and seek personal, creative, and career goals. We may run into resistance from others, feel tired and vulnerable. In Stage 5 we explore ways to set healthy personal boundaries, which allows us to feel safe when we take risks or are in situations where we are emotionally vulnerable.

Continue, Continue, Continue, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Continue, Continue, Continue, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Continue, Continue, Continue, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 

 

May’s mandalas are drawn with Crayola markers, glitter glue, and Portfolio water-soluble oil pastels. I find drawing and coloring mandalas fun and relaxing. But there are some artists who consider coloring a serious business. Last weekend, in On The Road, Jason Davis profiled Minnesota Artists. I was delighted to witness the work of Don Marco from Duluth, Minnesota who has been coloring in his Fine Art since the late 1960′s.

In an act of synchronicity that Jung would have loved, about a year ago, a 24-yr-old named Christina Nelson from Superior, Wisconsin decided to try making art with crayons. She thought she was the only one using the medium. Then she met Don Marco working only a few miles away in Duluth; he became her mentor. Now she goes under the name Tiona Marco.

According to the book Coloring Mandalas by Susanne F. Fincher, the healing benefits of The Great Round: Stage 5 – Target are:

  • learning to ritualize behaviors of self-care and self-protection
  • realizing and appreciating daily rituals and routines
  • knowing how to set good boundaries with others
  • knowing your limitations and working within them
  • cultivating the ability to exceed and transcend limits when needed


The high humidity and blue skies, with a backdrop of billowing, dense gray clouds tell me we are well into June. And I’ve already begun Stage 6.



Sacred Circles, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Sacred Circles, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Sacred Circles, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Monday, June 9th, 2008

-related to posts: The Void – January Mandalas, Bliss — February Mandalas, Labyrinth — March Mandalas, Beginnings – April Mandalas, and WRITING TOPIC – CIRCLES

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Somewhere Over Milwaukee, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Somewhere Over Milwaukee, flying home from a writing retreat, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





Blurred Boundaries, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. From The Air, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Somewhere Over Milwaukee, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Winding, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




“That looks like Louise Erdrich?” I said, shuffling toward the boarding area of the DC-9 parked on the runway. Northwest Flight 792 out of Milwaukee was about to depart. Three days earlier on our flight from Minneapolis, Teri was stopped in security by a stern, expressionless woman with black, straight hair running down her back.

“What’s going on?” I had asked, sliding my laptop into a slingpack and leaning down to slip on my Lands’ End moccasins. Teri turned to me with a blank look. “It’s the soup,” she said. “The soup?” I laughed.

She had been stopped for carrying a blue ice pack in a small rectangular thermos, housing packages of Minnesota wild rice soup. Bob was bringing ribs from Missouri. We chuckled, wondering if they’d made it through the luggage scan.

“Come with me,” the security guard said to Teri. You need to go back through security.” I blindly followed. One step past the yellow striped police line, I realized my mistake. “Wait, can’t I wait here?” I asked the guard. “Too late,” she said.

I followed Teri, we checked our bags, and looped back through security, twice. Then we sprinted to Gate C3, pausing only long enough to realize we were supposed to be at Gate C7. We were two of the last to board the plane.

By comparison, the Milwaukee check-in had been effortless. No wild rice soup incidents. No blue ice packs filled with dangerous liquids. But Teri did have her backpack searched again. This time it was toothpaste. Finally we were shuffling toward the packed plane bound for Minneapolis.

“Yeah, isn’t that Louise Erdrich?” I asked again.

“What? Where…” Teri said, turning her head in the direction I was staring. “That is Louise Erdrich.”




Topsy-Turvy, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Edges, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Curves, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Tip To Toe, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Blurred Boundaries, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. From The Air, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Somewhere Over Milwaukee, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Winding, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




We played it cool. But could barely contain our excitement. A second before, we had been embroiled in a conversation about writers. And we had talked about Louise among the four of us Saturday night, during a weekend writing retreat at a cabin on Lake Michigan.

Jude mentioned that Louise was coming to Wisconsin to talk about her new book, The Plague of Doves. That spawned a conversation about a night last winter, when Teri, Liz, and I went to see Louise Erdrich and her two sisters, Heid and Lise, at the Minneapolis Central Library. They were appearing together for a local program on writers, Talk of the Stacks.

All three Erdrich sisters are writers. After the Friends of the Library book discussion, we had them sign our books, and Liz took a few photographs, including family shots that she agreed to email to Heid.

That was February. Now it was May — two days earlier, we had talked in casual conversation about our favorite Louise Erdrich books. And just like that, Poof! — she was sitting 15 feet from us at the airport in Milwaukee. Most people did not recognize her.

“Should we say something?” Teri asked.

“Hmmm, I don’t know. Maybe she wants to be anonymous,” I said, throwing another glance toward Louise. She wore frameless glasses, a long brown skirt, and a print blazer. When you run into a well-known writer in public, how do you know the respectful thing to do? Would the writer want you to acknowledge her work, or respect her privacy. What would my published writing friends want. What would I want?

We scanned our boarding passes and headed to our seats. We thought she’d fly First Class. But then, we didn’t even know if she was on the same plane. We were quietly surprised a few minutes later when Louise elegantly walked down the aisle with her leather briefcase. She stopped while a young man in the row across from us almost knocked her over while slinging his carry-on luggage up to the top rack.

After one more look over our shoulders, we buckled our seat belts and settled in. Louise sat down in the opposite aisle, three rows from the back of the plane. It was inspiring be in the company of a famous writer known for her craft. It felt auspicious that she was on the same flight.

“Well, at least if we go down, it will be with one of Minnesota’s most famous writers,” I quipped. “And after a great writing retreat in Wisconsin.” In some twisted way, a moment of spontaneous, dark humor made sense to me. I never board a plane without saying my prayers.




Topsy-Turvy, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Edges, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Curves, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Tip To Toe, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Blurred Boundaries, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. From The Air, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Somewhere Over Milwaukee, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Winding, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Tired from the weekend, I stared out the window. The curves of Lake Michigan receded into the distance. I thought about Maurine’s funeral pyre on the beach Sunday night. I thought about how the wet sand stuck to my feet the morning I wrote haiku on the beach. I thought about literature, about writing. I thought about Louise Erdrich. She was carrying a CBS bag. Was she on book tour? Had she been in Chicago? New York?

How do you stay grounded, traveling all over the country promoting a new book. I remembered something Ann Patchett said when I saw her speak last year at the Fitzgerald – when you go on book tour, prepare to talk about the last book you wrote. It’s the one people have most likely read.

Teri struck up a conversation with the law student in the seat beside her. He was from Washington, D.C. They exchanged stories throughout the flight. He talked about his travels; she told him about the writing retreat, and that Louise Erdrich was on the same plane. Smiling, I looked down at Lake Michigan and the skyline of Milwaukee.

We rose to cruising altitude, the wings swooped, the plane tipped. We were heading for a bank of clouds with an open slice of light. I quickly unstrapped the Canon from my backpack under the seat, and clicked off a few shots.

The law student dropped his cell phone under his seat. It slid back toward me, resting under my pack. Camera in hand, I pushed it up under Teri’s seat with my right foot. “It’s under your seat now,” I laughed. “Can you reach it?”

She leaned down to pick it up. The glacial lake faded into darkening rain clouds. I focused on the rays of light between them. And wrote a haiku.





Openings, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

                Openings, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, all photos © 2008
                by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






at the city’s feet
Lake Michigan from the air
changing perspectives






Topsy-Turvy, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Edges, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Curves, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Tip To Toe, May 2008, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Post Script:   Teri and I bumped into Louise Erdrich again at the MSP baggage carousel. She was engaged in conversation with a woman she seemed happy to see.  We wanted to mention how much we enjoyed her talk with Heid and Lise. But the timing wasn’t right.

Liz met us at the curb with a big smile on her face. I hugged her, threw my luggage into the backseat, and mentioned that Louise Erdrich was standing at the baggage claim. “Really?” she said, peering through the sliding doors. Teri hopped inside the Saturn and we headed to Hiawatha Joe’s for debriefing and iced tea.

I decided it’s enough to send good thoughts. Though I know her books, Louise Erdrich is a stranger to me. Perhaps the greatest gift was to leave her to a peaceful trip in relative anonymity.



-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

-related to posts: Flying With Strangers & Other Anomalies, Louise Erdrich – No Love for “Fighting Sioux”

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