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Miners Mural - Ely, Minnesota

Miners Mural – Ely, Minnesota – 22/365, Archive 365, Droid Shots, Ely, Minnesota, July 2011, photo © 2011-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


When I passed this mural yesterday on the corner of Sheridan Street and Central Avenue, I was reminded that I had a photograph in my archives from the trip North last year. The art catches my eye every year when I visit Ely, Minnesota for an annual trip to the North American Bear Center. Ely was a thriving mining town 50 to 100 years ago, with rumbling steam locomotives that pulled train loads of iron ore over to Lake Superior to be shipped out of the Midwest. The town of Ely was named after Samuel B. Ely, a miner from Michigan who never actually visited there.

Most of the mines have closed now. On the north side of town, the bones of Pioneer Mine stand tall over the abandoned quarry where tons of iron ore were extracted by a thriving community of miners; it is now a large body of water called Miners Lake. The mural is one of many around Ely that honor its mining past. It was painted by artist Bill Defenbaugh, part of the Ely Greenstone Public Art Project.


_______________________________

ARCHIVE 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, July 24th, 2012. Related to posts: MN Black Bear Den Cam: Will Lily Have Cubs? and Jewel Under The Bear Moon

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photo2

Twin-Lens-Reflex Camera, illustration from Black & White Photography: A Basic Manual by Henry Horenstein, Droid Shots, original photograph edited with Paper Camera, Golden Valley, Minnesota, February 2012, photos © 2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



One of the goals that came out of my last writing retreat with the Midwest writers was to focus on organizing, storing, revisualizing, and selling my photographs. I took a photojournalism class this week from a journalist who makes a living from her stories and photographs. I spent much of this morning perusing old photo books while sipping French Roast (I have a Twin-Lens-Reflex in my collection just like the one in the illustration above).

Old print photograph and design books are inexpensive and inspirational. It is exciting to view the work of the photographers who came before us and to learn from their art. At MCAD, I focused primarily on black & white photography, along with alternative processes. I’d like to do more along those lines with my digital photographs. I remember…


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, February 18th, 2012, with gratitude to Liz (one of my Muses) who consistently brings home tons of books from our local library

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2011-07-17 18.56.13 yes

World’s Largest Sandhill Crane – 29/52, BlackBerry 52 — Week 29 Jump-Off, Steele, North Dakota, July 17th 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



On a July trip to North Dakota, we exited off I-94 to fill up with gas in Steele, North Dakota. Across the street, next to the Lone Steer Cafe (formerly a bustling Greyhound bus station), a 40-foot sandhill crane stood grazing in the grass. Sandy, the World’s Largest Sandhill Crane, was built in 1999 by Arena, North Dakota resident James Miller. The sculpture weighs 4.5 tons and is constructed of rolled sheet metal welded onto a steel inner frame. It was built in three separate sections — the body in one section, the neck and head in another, and pipes fitted to make the legs.

Residents of Steele, North Dakota erected the giant sandhill to call attention to the fact that Kidder County is one of the best birding destinations in North America. The Coteau Rangeland of North Dakota, commonly known as the Prairie Pothole Region, is an area of glacial potholes located in the direct path of the migration flyway making this area a favorite spot for migratory nesting birds, including the Sandhill Crane. To the west, Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, established as one of the country’s first wildlife refuges in 1908 by executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt, is the largest American White Pelican rookery in North America, where thousands of pelicans nest each spring.

North Dakota artist James Miller, creator of the World’s Largest Sandhill Crane, died October 17, 2002. According to his obituary in the Bismarck Tribune, Jim and his wife farmed north of Arena from 1955 until retiring in 1991. He created metal work sculptures in his shop and invented his own version of “Miller Bilt” hydraulic presses, along with everything from two wheeled trailers and wheelchair ramps to yard ornaments, docks, crystal radios, and even a steam engine. His art live on in 26 states throughout the country.


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Lotus and I will continue to respond to each other’s BlackBerry Jump-Off photos with text, photography, poetry (however we are inspired) for the 52 weeks of 2011. You can read more at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration. If you are inspired to join us, send us a link to your images, poetry, or prose and we’ll add them to our posts.

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC — ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS,   dragonfly revisted — end of summerfirst dragonfly, Flying Solo — Dragonfly In Yellow Rain, Shadow Of A Dragonfly, Dragonfly Wings — It Is Written In The Wind, Dragon Fight — June Mandalas, sticks for legs and arms

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Lunar New Year Postcard 2011 (Side B)

Lunar New Year Postcard 2011 (Side B), 6/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 6, February 7th 2011, photo © 2011 by A~Lotus. All rights reserved. Medium: E-Postcard created using MS Word 2007, Adobe Acrobat, & Adobe Photoshop CS2. Photo taken on Canon PowerShot A550. Digital Collage (Side B): Text by Lotus, clipart of lanterns from MS Word 2007, Lotus icon: from oceancurrents, QuoinMonkey icon: Chartres Cathedral labyrinth from inside the front cover of Alice Walker’s The Same River Twice.


I was delighted to receive this digital postcard collage from Lotus last night. It’s the BlackBerry 52 Jump-Off for Week 6, and the inspiration for whatever response rises to the top by the end of the day on Sunday.


Dear Lotus,

I’d love to know more about your experience of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration. I am a Moonchild, and after receiving your card, I researched a little bit about Tết Nguyên Đán (also known as Tết). I wonder if it ever came up in the comments on ybonesy’s many posts about her journeys to Vietnam.

I read that the Lunar New Year falls on the New Moon, the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (around late January or early February), and is the same day as the Chinese New Year. Yet according to the Vietnamese Community of Minnesota site, 2011 is The Year of the Cat; for the Chinese, it is The Year of the Rabbit. It must be a season that has to hold both.

With two cats on the couch and a resident rabbit in the yard, I’d be happy to honor either. I did happen to be in San Francisco one year for the Chinese New Year. We stood on Market Street and watched the parade. It was a wonderful evening full of bright color and light. I wonder what happened to those photographs.


Lunar New Year Postcard 2011 (Side A)

Lunar New Year Postcard 2011 (Side A), 6/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 6, February 7th 2011, photo © 2011 by A~Lotus. All rights reserved. Medium: E-Postcard created using MS Word 2007, Adobe Acrobat, & Adobe Photoshop CS2. Photo taken on Canon PowerShot A550. (Side A): Origami paper, glue, & masking tape. Origami by A~Lotus (Chrysanthemum Kusudama model by Tomoka Fuse).


Your origami is beautiful. How did you come to it as an art form? And the weather. In Texas, an unexpected blizzard on Super Bowl weekend. In Minnesota, -11 last night to be followed by dips into the 40′s next week. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t mention the weather in my journal. Peeling the onion. Do the layers ever stop unwinding? Whatever it is that lies at the core, I have never stopped seeking.


Thank you for your postcard,

QM


_______________


We will continue our call and response by posting a BlackBerry photo for the 52 weeks of 2011. Feel free to join us if you wish (learn about the project’s beginnings at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration). To read more about Lotus, visit her at alotus_poetry on Twitter (where she writes poetry every day in community with other Twitter poets), at Poetry By Lotus, and on her Flickr account.


-related to posts: Best Of BlackBerry 365 — First Quarter SlideShow, BlackBerry 365 Project — White Winter Squirrel, Flying Solo — Dragonfly In Yellow Rain, Searching For Stillness, icicle tumbleweed (haiga) — 2/52, The Mirado Black Warrior, The Dying Art Of Letterwriting (Postcards From The Edge)

-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, February 10th, 2011

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IMG01307-20110101-0922 auto 2

Mandala For A New Year, BlackBerry Shots, Golden Valley, Minnesota, January 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


A Downy pecks at the suet feeder. Black-eyed peas simmer in a vintage crock-pot in the kitchen. Temperatures hover around zero; it’s 3 degrees and windy. Gifted with unexpected time alone on New Year’s Eve, I wrote in my journal, checked in with the Midwest Writing Group, worked on a mandala, completed the BlackBerry 365 practice, made plans for the New Year. It felt positive to me, this forward thinking.

I am one of those people who mines for specks of gold in old and burly mountains, drags silvery threads of the past forward. Lineage. Writers, artists, photographers. Process. Birth, death, old age. What makes something work? Like The Fool archetype in Tarot, it is with great humility that I embrace the unknown and begin again. Beginner’s Mind. I will miss ybonesy and her free spirited and vibrant creative fire on a daily basis at red Ravine, but I know I have to face forward. It’s one of the things she taught me — take risks. Move into the future. When you collaborate with a person who strikes a balance, one who possesses the qualities you lack, it’s easy to become complacent about that which needs strengthening inside.

I need a strong back, flexible muscles. I will build on the Bones of red Ravine. I have so many dreams I want to pursue; they have not gone away. I will have to be diligent. Courageous. Disciplined. It takes courage for ybonesy to leave to spend more time with her family; it takes courage to stay. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. There are days when the work of blogging feels like it needs a whole army of writers and artists to move it forward. But I believe in the mission and vision of red Ravine and am excited to steer her in a new direction. The winds may be stiff; I will follow the structure we put into place—teacher, practice, community—and see where red Ravine takes me.


Mandala For The New Year Mandala For The New Year Mandala For The New Year


I am forever grateful to Roma who walked up to me in Mabel’s dining room after one of the silent retreats, and asked if I wanted to write together. I would be returning to Minnesota, she to Albuquerque, 1200 miles between us. The Turtle in me had to give it some thought; not for long. The seed for red Ravine had been planted. Now this space is Home, a strong cottonwood by the Mother Ditch, in her adolescent years, still growing. But nothing can thrive without nurturing, play, attention, and time. I have to plan carefully, regroup. Thank you for standing by me.

I am grateful for the 5 years of creative collaboration with ybonesy. She is a strong, gifted woman, a dear friend. I am grateful for a community that keeps coming back. I feel supported. I’ve committed to keeping red Ravine alive through another year. It’s one of my practices. I draw on what Natalie taught me: Continue under all circumstances. Don’t be tossed away. Make positive effort for the good (adding under my breath, Cross your fingers for Good Luck!).

Back to the moment. Time to feed Mr. Stripeypants and Kiev. Liz will be rising soon. We spent part of New Year’s Eve watching Lily and Hope on the NABC 2011 DenCam. They aren’t worried about such things as red Ravine. They are busy being Bears. I focus on my new practices for 2011: (1) a daily Journal entry 365 (2) a BlackBerry collaboration inspired by Lotus (one of our readers) (3) a year-long Renga collaboration. I’ll write more about these practices in coming posts. Happy New Year, ybonesy. Happy New Year to all red Ravine readers. Happy New Year, red Ravine. New Beginnings. The Promise of Spring.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, January 1st, 2011

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letting go
Letting Go, one of the themes at the Natalie Goldberg silent retreat in Taos, December 2010,  collage made of magazine paper, wax crayons, and pen and ink in Moleskine journal, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

It was strange to find myself sitting in the zendo at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, our teacher Natalie Goldberg urging us to Let Go. I had just a few weeks before made the decision to leave red Ravine, although QuoinMonkey and I had agreed to wait until the end of the year to make the announcement. Though not intended as such, the week in Taos could be a test of how ready I was to let go of this special virtual space that had inspired and sustained me for so long.
 
mabel's houseIt was in Taos, after all, that red Ravine was born. The year—2006. QM and I, having already written together for some time, are both participating in a four-season Intensive with Natalie Goldberg. This Intensive is part of a bigger plan I have for myself, a wannabe writer-and-artist withering away inside the body of a corporate manager and breadwinner for my family of four. I am bored and unhappy. I want to write and do art, but I can’t seem to motivate myself to do much with either except to dream about it. QM and I and a couple of others hatch red Ravine over intense working sessions in Taos and through the phone lines while back at our respective homes. Setting up a blog is hard work, but it is also real. For the first time, I am motivated to do more than fantasize about writing and making art. red Ravine promises to be the impetus to actually producing. 
 
Those first two years of creating red Ravine, QM and I worked our butts off and had a blast doing it. The blog was a perfect outlet for the deep, low creative growl that the Intensive seemed to unleash within us. Some days we posted more than once, and often we had to make sure that we weren’t publishing over one another. For my part, I was making art like crazy. After years of being fearful of the lack of control inherent in a brush (as compared to a pencil), I took a workshop at Ghost Ranch and learned to paint. My corporate job changed around the same time, too. I landed an assignment that took me back and forth to Vietnam. I bought myself a slew of different colored inking pens and began using the long trips back and forth as opportunity to take on a doodling practice.

QuoinMonkey and I worked surprisingly well together. We were both committed to the idea of a creating a space where we would each be inspired and where we might inspire others. She brought to red Ravine and to me her strong values around Community and Giving Back. Her thoughtful and thorough turtle complemented my quick and often irreverent spirit. (What animal am I anyway? The brown bird, I guess.) We found ourselves in synch whenever we wanted to try something new or make a change. We pushed each other to do our best.
 
 
what I learned

 
mabel's house 2 for red ravineOne of the things I love about Taos and Mabel’s place is how they never seem to change. Here I am, early December 2010, and I’m crossing the same flagstone patio that I walked those years ago back when red Ravine was still an infant. Over the past several years, I’ve brought my daughters here, and my husband. I bring my father back each year after we clean his parents’ graves in Costilla, 42 miles north. One summer he laid some of these very flagstones,when he was about 16 and living on Morada Lane in a house with a storefront.

It doesn’t matter what I have accomplished, what roles I have taken on in the years since I’ve been back. Inside the zendo, Natalie reminds us to Let Go. For me this means letting go of my responsibilities, my ego, any self-assigned self-importance. Here, in Taos, I am zero. In my raw, stripped-down state I feel my sadness. It is deep inside me, under everything else I carry. 

My heart breaks open.
 
Letting Go in Taos means being able to clearly see that red Ravine was, in fact, the catalyst for change in my life. It means being grateful for everything I’ve learned as a result of opening up to others. Because of red Ravine, I’ve had a place to publish my writing, to experiment with and share my art, to meet other writers and artists. red Ravine has been Muse, sounding board, supportive audience, friend, family, mentor.

I started a fledging business because of the creativity that flowed out, thanks to red Ravine. Because of this blog I’ve learned to commit to and follow through with my practices; to make jewelery; to turn unpolished writing into finished pieces; to put my creative self out into the world. I used to think I couldn’t finish anything; it took having this blog to realize that I’m an actualizer at heart. 

Of course, there are downsides to setting and realizing intentions. Jim long ago gave up complaining when I’d spend hours socked away in my writing room. But I don’t take for granted any more, not since April of this year when he collapsed on the bed clutching his heart, that he will always be there waiting when I need to take a break. And my daughters—full-fledged teenagers! Just today I accompanied my oldest for nearly an hour while she drove us all around town, adding experience under her belt in preparation for graduating from learners permit to drivers license. I don’t have much time left to influence their lives.

 
 
letting go

 

la morada (taos)At the December retreat, we walk the dirt trail out at the morada, just down the way from Mabel’s place. Natalie often takes her students there. The day we go, boys and men from Taos Pueblo run past us in the cold air. I feel alone and sheltered in my layers of warmth, and for a moment I am homesick for family and our traditions

My parents are old now. They’ve passed from the stage of old-yet-mostly-healthy to being old-and-frighteningly-frail. I visit them every Sunday. All year long I struggle to keep up with everything I have on my plate. Some weeks it feels impossible to eke out even the simplest of posts.

QM is a rock. Her posts are—like her—consistently high-quality, thorough, and deep. I am honored to have worked with her for this long.

A good friend of mine who a few years back started up his own blog had this to say when I told him I was thinking of leaving red Ravine: “Blogging has no exit strategy.” Which is another way of saying that unless you’re getting paid to do it, blogging is a labor of love. This particular labor has born much fruit. 

It has so much more potential, so much yet to become. I’m going to be here, on the other side of the screen, cheering on QM to keep moving it forward. I know I’ll always be proud to say I was a part of creating it.

Thank you for everything you’ve done, QM. Thank you to the friends I’ve met here. So long for now. See you in Comments. 8)
 
 

 

self portrait
Self Portrait, December 2010, collage made of magazine paper, wax crayons, and pen and ink in Moleskine journal, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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…During Labor Day weekend, the thought of making the same ol’ pendants all the live-long day sounded monotonous…
 
…so we pulled out the Dominoes and starting playing.
 
 
 
 

Domino collages in process, in all stages of becoming domed resin pendants, images and photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
 
 
 
 
And so now instead of having only a sea of game board pendants…
 




Sea of Pendants, different sizes of pendants in process of being made, images and photo © by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




…I have a sea of Domino collages.





Sea of Domino Collages, some covered with domed resin and others not, images and photo © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 




This Sunday, September 13, is the We Art the People Folk Festival at Robinson Park in downtown Albuquerque. If I didn’t have so much to do yet to get ready, I would provide a thorough how-to on making domino collage pendants. But time is of the essence (plus sleep calls) so I will leave you with these tidbits on what you’ll need to make your own:

  • Dominoes. I like to use vintage that come from incomplete sets. Why incomplete? Because vintage domino sets, especially those made of Bakelite, are worth a lot, and I hate to break them up given that people pay top dollar to collect whole sets. I found an antique store owner who had a bunch of random dominoes in her sun tea jar back in her kitchen. She brought in about 60 and sold them to me for $20!
  • Images, including your own words from journals, pictures from magazines, stamps, doodles, photos—anything you can find. Stickers work well, but mostly I cut mine from crafts magazines.
  • Mod Podge to glue the images down to the domino.
  • Doming resin, which is described in the tutorial that I linked to in my Scrabble pendant post (see above link).
  • Once the resin is cured, you can turn the domino collages into pendants, magnets, or key chains. I’ll make pendants out of mine.

 

I will try to provide a more thorough How-to once I get past this show, but I can tell you now that it’s so easy, my girls got into making them with me. And I loved how quickly they did it; their Beginner’s Mind did not over-analyze what to put where and whether the message was just so. They slapped down their images and threw on the Mod Podge.

 

But the folk festival is afoot, and all my energy between tonight and Sunday morning will go to getting ready. I hope all you Albuquerque folk will go to the festival, too. There will be a giant puppet parade, theater, over 100 vendors, and fun for the whole family.

Come on out and see us! Let’s play a game of Dominoes. (Or Scrabble.)



we art the people

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The first weekend of May is a special time in the sleepy village where I live.

(A side note on villages: Aren’t they always sleepy? That’s what makes them villages. Not cities; not even towns. Ours truly is a village, incorporated as such in 1971. Hence, it is known as The Village of Corrales, and there has been since I can recall a sign that says something to the effect of “Drive slow and see our animals, drive fast and see our judge.” I know, it’s not the most grammatically correct sign. But what do you expect from a village?)

May 1 and 2 are the days when many of the artists and craftspeople who call Corrales “home” open up their studios and galleries and invite the public to visit.


Corrales Art Studio Tour, poster © 2010 by Krysteen Wazask. All rights reserved.




I am participating in the Corrales Art Studio Tour with two other artists, in a centuries-old former dance hall — now a creative space called Movement Studios — that sits in the center of Corrales.

(A side note on the center of Corrales: You know you’re there when you see a road sign warning Congested Area. Whenever Jim and I approach the sign he coughs and sniffles, at which point I, having forgotten that he does this every time we drive through the village, ask, “Something wrong?” He points to the sign, clears his throat, and says, “Congested Area.”)

Although I am quietly panicking over the fact that I’m behind on making art, I am deeply grateful to be spending the weekend with two talented artists who are also kind and lovely individuals. I’ve known them for only a short while yet I am honored to share this experience with them both.

(A side note on artists: I stand in awe of most simply because I’m blown away by their talent. But not all artists are likable, and there are some I probably wouldn’t choose to get to know. Well, these two artists are people I want to know better. Seeing their art and learning what moves them makes me want to know more about their lives, past and present. They are creative and authentic. Buena gente, as we say in Spanish.)

Here is a bit about them, starting with the one I met first.



_________________________________________________________________________________________________

john toomey





Working Memory-Resurrection-Fern and Working Memory-Hymn-Recording, 30″ x 24″ mixed media paintings, images © 2010 by John Toomey. All rights reserved.



My art is communion with natural form. My imagery, which stems from both observation and improvisation, is born from dreaming upon the horizon, both drifting towards sky and descending into soil. My work is a contemplation of forces that shape, veil, reveal, and reshape forms of nature. It is a dialogue between abstraction and representation, cause and effect, growth and decay.


WORKING MEMORY


I am an artist, arts educator, and twenty-year resident of New Mexico. I teach art to pre-school and elementary aged children at Cottonwood School in Corrales. I make landscape-based abstractions, mostly mixed media paintings on paper. And although I have a profound love for my New Mexico home, it is the landscape of rural west Tennessee that set me on a path towards becoming an artist.

I spent most of my childhood outdoors, roaming and exploring the fields and woods that surrounded my home. As a teen I began to realize an interest for drawing and painting, finding my primary source of inspiration and imagery out in those familiar places. In those fields I dug a well that continues to provide, regardless of where I put down roots.

This is especially true with respect to my current body of work entitled “Working Memory,” a series of paintings in progress that return me to home and deal with the loss of that home. These are mixed-media works on paper, made with acrylic, pastel, watercolor, and bits of organic debris, pressed flowers, leaves, and soil. Most importantly though, this series deals with the ever so gradual loss of my mother as a result of Alzheimer’s disease.

My mom’s greatest love was taking care of our home, gardening and tending to the flowers, trees, and birds. I know her greatest desire was to live out her days in that beautiful place, but sadly she no longer recognizes her family or remembers her flowers.

“Working Memory” is about a boy paying homage to his mother, remembering the gifts that she instilled within him — a deep love of nature and a purposeful connection to place.

I dedicate this work to my mom but also to all who have experienced loss as a result of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.



_________________________________________________________________________________________________

mary hobbs




Bahamas, photo © 2010 by Mary Hobbs. All rights reserved.





I carry my camera with me all the time, photographing my young children and their friends at the grocery store, dentist’s office, just before bed. Watching them at play or in repose, I am compelled to take pictures. This practice is a way for me to discover something profound in everyday mundaneness, to recall events from my own past and explore a child’s emotional landscapes.

I am especially intrigued by how our psychological world can be so different from the physical space we inhabit, how different each child’s experience can be in the same moment — one joyful, the other stressed, another bored.

In a poolside snapshot of a little girl, the traditional touchstones of a carefree childhood — a Popsicle on a sunny day, being wrapped in a warm towel after exiting the pool — are missing. Instead she is surrounded by oversized sneakers, a barrel trash can and rough blades of brass. This image is not so much a photograph of a happy child at the pool, but something more complicated. It is this complication, this juxtaposition of objects in a child’s physical space and the child’s response to this juxtaposition that fascinates me.



_________________________________________________________________________________________________



I hope you will come and visit with us on May 1 and 2, in the center of the sleepy village of Corrales. Our address is 4605 Corrales Road (#25, #26, and #27 on the studio tour map). You can see more of John’s and Mary’s art, and my own. You can learn about Movement Studios and the classes that happen there when we’re not inhabiting the space.

We’d love to see friends and strangers, talk about coyotes and snakes and the trials and tribulations of making art and making a living. And just hang. And, well, maybe sell a piece or two.

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Happy 3rd Birthday, red Ravine!, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 7th 2010, doodle © 2010 by Lizzie Bee. All rights reserved.


It was November 2006 when ybonesy and I started planning and writing for red Ravine, fruit from a seed planted in Taos, New Mexico at a writing workshop with Natalie Goldberg. In April 2008, red Ravine celebrated her 1st birthday with the post A Year Of Living Dangerously. When I saw that ybonesy and I were approaching our 3rd birthday, I went back and read some of the comments from 2 years ago. One of the most fun, from Sam, about red Ravine’s Zodiac sign (Aries) sparked a whole conversation:


QM, I looked up a make-shift chart for red Ravine. I went back to the April 7th post, and didn’t see a timestamp, so I used 9am, with San Francisco (WordPress) as the birthplace. That put the Moon in Sagittarius, Mars and Mercury in Pisces, and Venus in Taurus.

But I’m betting that you and YB have more accurate data. You should swing by Cafe Astrology for a free natal chart, AND you can get free compatibility readings while you’re there, too. Then, let us all in on the results.

In astronomy, the zodiac (Greek: ζῳδιακός) is the ring of constellations that lines the ecliptic, the apparent path of the Sun across the sky over the course of the year. The Moon and planets lie within the ecliptic, and are also part of the constellations of the zodiac. In astrology, the zodiac denotes those signs that divide the ecliptic into twelve equal zones of celestial longitude.

When I was in high school, I belonged to a Tri-Hi-Y named The Zodiacs. My Sun is in Cancer, with Taurus Moon and Taurus rising. My ruling planet is the Moon. ybonesy and I haven’t done compatibility readings, but after 3 1/2 years of publishing red Ravine, I’d say our Gemini/Cancer combination seems to be working.

I thought it might be fun to take this opportunity to poll our readers (as ybonesy mentioned in the comment thread on the 2008 post) and see what signs they are. ybonesy thinks we have a high percentage of Gemini readers on red Ravine. But I’m not so sure. What sign are you?





In Gratitude: Here’s to another year of red Ravine. With much appreciation to our readers and guests. You keep the community energy flowing, and help us keep going. Special thanks to ybonesy, my blog partner, an inspiration. And to Liz, my partner in life (who also created the doodle in this piece). I could never have kept going on this project without the two of you.

-posted on red Ravine, in celebration of her 3rd Birthday & Blogiversary, Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

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First Thursdays At Casket Arts, poster by Linnea Marie Doyle, © 2009-2010, used by permission of the artist.


Once a month the artists in the Casket Arts Building in Northeast Minneapolis open their doors to the public. The March date is coming up fast. The Casket Arts Building, which includes the Carriage House, has a rich history (see Casket Arts Photoblog). Not only did it used to be a genuine casket company, it’s one of the oldest surviving buildings in Minneapolis. And in 2006, after over 100 years on 17th Avenue NE, the Northwestern Casket Company moved their business to New Hope and sold the building.

That’s when two visionaries, Jennifer Young and John Kremer, turned vintage real estate into the Casket Arts Building. Together they work hard to maintain the integrity of the original structure, and create a thriving space for artists. I share Studio 318 with Liz and two other artists on what used to be the floor where women sewed and embroidered the inside of the caskets (more at Casket Arts Epilogue). It’s a beautiful space. Please stop by and visit if you are in the area!


_________________________________________


Date: First Thursday of Every Month
Time:
5:00pm – 9:00pm
Street:
681 17th Ave NE
City:
Minneapolis, MN


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If you miss us this Thursday, we are open the First Thursday of Every Month from 5 to 9 pm at 17th and Madison Street NE. And don’t forget about one of the highpoints of the year for the Minneapolis Arts District, ART-A-WHIRL Open Studio and Gallery Tour which takes place May 14th – 16th, 2010 (in 2011, the dates are May 20th – 22nd). It’s a great way to kick off Spring in Minnesota — in community and support of the Arts.


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010, with gratitude to Linnea for creating and giving us permission to distribute her poster. You can see more of her work at her website.

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He Who Keeps Me Company – 54/365, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, February 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights
reserved.


It’s March 1st, 2010. Sixty days and nights have passed since I began the BlackBerry 365 Project. Day 54 landed on this shot of Mr. Stripeypants keeping me company on a less than perfect day. I was reading Mary Karr’s memoir, Lit. He was taking a nap beside me, simply being himself. I felt like I really saw him.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a big commitment — taking a new photo each day and posting it in a public forum. I had been exploring taking photographs with the BlackBerry since last October. It was so much fun, I decided to turn it into a practice. That’s when the work began.

Pushing through days when I am under the weather, low energy, or uninspired are the hardest. But once I get the shot posted, I feel like I’ve accomplished a great deal. I know from past practices of writing, mandalas, and haiku, that yearly dedication to a craft can take you a long way. It can also drive you crazy! I thought I’d check in at the 60 day mark and let you know how things are progressing. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from the BlackBerry 365 Project:


  • As soon as I make something a practice, resistance kicks in. It’s all Monkey Mind. The trick is to not think too much, to simply keep going. Don’t force the shot, let the image appear.
  • Using the camera phone takes the pressure off to snap the perfect photo. It fits in the palm of my hand. I can have fun with it, photograph and post images I might not let myself publish with my Canon.
  • Themes appear and reappear in the photographs, just like in my writing. I keep coming back to what I love and have passion about.
  • Knowing I have to post a photo at the end of the day changes the way I look at the world. I am awake to all the possibilities. Everything I see is an opportunity.
  • Taking BlackBerry photos reminds me of the old days of 60-second Polaroids. I take snapshots of my day, glean ideas for new projects, visit places I want to go back and shoot with the Canon.



There are many photographers and artists who have embarked on yearly projects of daily images. And writers who have daily practices that keep them going through the lean times. I’d love to hear insights from others who are willing to share their experiences. And I’ll check in again along the way.

Going forward, I’ve decided not to post daily images in the red Ravine comments. But I’ll continue to check in on the original post once or twice a month. If you’d like to continue to follow the yearly practice, I’ll still be posting each day in my BlackBerry 365 set on Flickr. And in the Twitter widget on our sidebar. Just click on BlackBerry 365 to take you to Flickr.


-posted on red Ravine, Day 60, Monday, March 1st, 2010

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'Break Me' Music Video Shoot of Alexx Calise, photo by Luigie Gonzalez




You might not have ever heard of singer-songwriter Alexx Calise, but someday, hopefully soon, that will change. Alexx is a young woman who in her short career in a hard-as-nails industry has managed to release a debut album, Morning Pill; rack up over a dozen endorsements from music gear and clothing manufacturers; get featured as a Boston radio’s “Hot Up-and-Coming Indie Artist”; and have one of her songs used in a promo for TV series One Tree Hill. Those are just a few of her accomplishments.

We were curious about how Alexx landed on her unique sound of electronica, hard rock, and urban-edged pop, as well as what drives her to work so hard to achieve her dream. She took time from working on her two next albums to give us these insights.


* * * *




Interview with Alexx Calise, February 2010, red Ravine


red Ravine: By way of introduction, tell us a little bit about yourself and your music. How would you describe your music to someone who’s just getting to know you?

Alexx Calise: Well, I’m a bit of an enigma. I’m too alternative to be considered “normal,” and I’m too “normal” to be considered alternative. Sometimes, I don’t even get myself. I’m extremely introverted in person yet unabashed and raw when I get on stage. I think that my material is an accurate portrayal of my personality. The music is high-energy and adrenaline inducing yet the lyrics are esoteric and thoughtful.


red Ravine: You’ve worked hard toward the goal of being a musician, which is noteworthy given that many people your age are still trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives. How did you get so focused and how do you stay that way?

Alexx: Thank you! Fortunately, I’ve known since I was 5 years old that I wanted to be a writer in some form (over the years music started to accompany those writings). Knowing what you want to do early on makes all the difference in the world. Essentially, I had my whole life to hone my craft. Not everyone is that lucky. Being focused and motivated has always been kind of innate for me. I’m always striving for perfection (which is also my downfall), and I’m constantly pushing myself to be better in every sense of the word. No one else is going to do this for me, so it’s up to me to make it happen.


red Ravine: Making it as a musician must be challenging. What specific actions or milestones have you found to be most significant in moving you closer to your goals?

Alexx: There are a few specific things that have helped propel my career, like when my music was featured on One Tree Hill, or when I was Frostwire.com’s featured artist for a while. But I’ve found that hard work, dedication and perspiration created those types of opportunities. The more you put yourself out there, the more you get back. I always have 10,000 different poles in the ocean. If one thing falls through, I don’t dwell on it because another opportunity is bound to come up. I’m constantly moving, and I’m always attempting to generate momentum and interest. I think of my music career as a business, so like Donald Trump or any of these successful entrepreneurs you’ve seen or read about, I’m constantly thinking of new and innovative ways to market myself. I’m always researching and I’m always trying to make my “product” better.


red Ravine: I read in an interview that your father was a musician and an early influence in your musical life. What did he say when he found out you wanted to be a musician?

Alexx: I think my father loved the fact that I wanted to be a musician as well, because it became our way of communicating. We’d spend our father-daughter time playing or talking music, and he even ended up playing a few shows with me when I needed a bass player (by the way, he rips on the bass!). I think some of the most special and memorable times in my life were those moments. You really can’t buy moments like those.


red Ravine: Who are your other musical influences?

Alexx: I grew up listening to silverchair, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Toadies, STP, Soundgarden and Buckcherry. My forthcoming album, In Avanti, incorporates a lot of my electronica influences, such as Archive and The Dust Brothers. I think the best way to describe the new sound would be “Alanis meets The Prodigy.”


red Ravine: What do you think of shows like American Idol or America’s Got Talent? Are these credible venues for musicians who are starting out or who haven’t found other means of making it big?

Alexx: I’m personally not a huge fan of those types of shows, but that’s not to say they’re not credible launch vehicles. I don’t have a problem with anything that doesn’t compromise someone’s artistic integrity.


red Ravine: Do you like to read, and if so, what books or authors?

Alexx: I’m actually a voracious reader. My favorites to name a few are Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Janet Fitch’s White Oleander, Downtown Owl and Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman, Girl by Blake Nelson, anything Stephen Covey, and Bully by Jim Schutze.


red Ravine: Describe a typical day in your life.

Alexx: Depends on what you’re definition of typical is! (Ha ha!) Lately my days consist of interviews, recording for either my solo project or Sound of Cancer (my other new album/project with drummer/songwriter Dennis Morehouse), doing photo and video shoots, tracking vocals for commercials, writing, practicing, marketing and promoting, and spending whatever little time I have left working out, hanging with my kitten or sleeping.


red Ravine: Talk a little bit about what it’s like to be a young woman in this industry. Have you had to make any adjustments, or do you find the industry to be equally challenging for men and women?

Alexx: I think it’s a challenge for everyone these days. There are thousands of distractions, like social media and other technologies, so that it’s difficult to stand out and be seen as an artist in general. To be a successful musician nowadays, you need to do some serious out-of-the-box thinking. As far as adjustments are concerned, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that people aren’t buying CDs anymore—hence you have to come up with alternative ways of generating income—and that you have to do everything yourself. No record label is going to save you from a lifetime of poverty and obscurity, and most importantly, no one is going to care about your career (or you!) more than you.


red Ravine: I have a ten-year-old daughter who has been playing guitar since age 7. She’s recently discovered the joy of playing for others. What advice would you have for her (or for me, as her mother) in nurturing her love of music and performing?

Alexx: Scatter as many law books around the house as you can before it’s too late! Just kidding! As far as advice goes, I would encourage her to follow her dreams and to reach for the stars. There is nothing on this Earth that you can’t do so long as you put your mind to it. Sure, it’s a long, hard road, but if it’s in your heart and that’s all that you know how to do you owe it to yourself to give it a try. The worst thing you could ever do is give up or let fear get in the way of your love.





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Live at Swinghouse (Los Angeles, CA), photo by Lucinda Wedge

About Alexx Calise: Alexx Calise grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she spent her childhood mostly alone or in the pages of a notebook, finding comfort only in her parents’ vast record collection, which included everything from Mozart to Led Zeppelin.

At 11, she picked up the guitar to emulate her father, also a talented musician, and began fusing the melodies she heard in her head with her own poetry and recitations.

She lives in Los Angeles, California. You can learn more about her at her website, plus follow her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/alexx.calise and on My Space at http://www.myspace.com/alexxcalise.

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Looking back I see myself lying flat on my back, unable to move. It was early February, 2009. I was literally lying on the floor of Burlington Coat Factory, my sciatica pinched. That’s how last year began for me. Immobilized.

My best friend from graduate school, Ana Lucia, had come with her family all the way from Brazil. It had been over a decade since I’d seen her and her husband, and I’d only seen her three children in photos. They were on their way to Santa Fe for a week’s ski vacation, stopping off to visit us en route. My sciatica had been giving me trouble for weeks, and then the morning before Ana Lucia’s arrival, I woke up and could hardly get out of bed. I managed to get a chiropractic treatment that morning, acupuncture the next, plus a handful of painkillers from my mom, who suffers from lower back problems.

When Ana Lucia and her family got here, the pain was masked enough to join them for lunch and then to Burlington Coat Factory to buy jackets for their ski trip. For a while, I thought I was going to be fine. Little did I know, it was Codeine that had me walking around the store searching for good deals on down coats. As the drug wore off, the pain became so unbearable I thought I was going to pass out. Panicked, I got the keys to Ana Lucia’s rental and told her that I had to get something from the car.

My plan was to get to the car, drive the less than three miles to my house, pop another painkiller, and come right back. But when I got to the foyer of the store, that space not inside nor outside, I was close to passing out. I plopped myself down in a spot of sun, moaning and sweating. The automatic double doors opened and closed, opened and closed. Shoppers passed through the space, glancing my way. Not a soul asked if I was OK. I’d sit, try to get up, fall back again.

Finally I mustered the strength to hobble to the car. I turned on the engine, put the gear into reverse, and started to back out. When I almost passed out again, I turned off the engine and reclined as far back as the seat would go. I was stuck. I couldn’t drive home and I couldn’t walk back into the store to let Ana Lucia know what had happened.

And that was how my year started. Stuck.

The pinched nerve, I am convinced, had everything to do with a commitment I had made months before. I had been invited to submit five paintings to a show in Manhattan. Thrilled, I signed up to do so. But as the show’s Spring 2009 deadline approached, I let fear get the better of me. I had it in my mind that the pieces were due in New York City in April, but I didn’t go back to verify any dates. By early February, when I finally checked on the due date, I saw that the paintings were due in the gallery by February 28. I had less than a month to go and hardly an inkling of what I was going to paint.

To make matters worse, I had committed to taking on an exchange student from Mexico for two of the four weeks that I might have used to complete the paintings. In hindsight I believe I was subconsciously sabotaging any chance to actually fulfill my creative commitment. (Our experience with the exchange student was so enriching in other ways that I don’t regret having done that. But this is how the mind can work; this is how we create the obstacles to our own creative fulfillment.)

Back in the parking lot of Burlington Coat Factory, I called Jim on my cell phone and told him my predicament. He was there within ten minutes, went inside the store and found Ana Lucia. Then he got me home. I was able to see my friend and her family again on their return leg of the trip. We had a wonderful dinner and have kept in touch since.

Looking back I see that good things come of bad. Aside from my two weeks laid up on the ground, literally, I moved forward in 2009. I completed four paintings and showed them during the Corrales Art Studio Tour in early May. Went to Vietnam in mid-May and again in August. I met Pham Luc, learned how to make jewelry from my doodles, did two art shows in the Fall, and set up a small Etsy shop this past November.

Looking back, I woke myself up. I committed even further to the life I have—giving to my children and husband, to my job. I connected with old friends and new ones, gained from the generosity of other artists, and spent time with family.

Looking back, I see I found clarity. It’s as if Saint Lucy, that courageous woman who gouged out her own eyes so she could dedicate her life to what she loved most, was by my side, carrying her eyes on a plate so that I could see. I began painting her image probably a decade ago and never finished. She’s a constant reminder that if I look inside myself, I can see where I need to go.



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This piece is based on a 15-minute Writing Practice I did on WRITING TOPIC — REFLECTION & INTENTION. Tomorrow I will post my Intentions for 2010.

-Related to post The Making of a Painting Painter

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White Winter Squirrel – 1/365, BlackBerry 365, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Intentions for 2010. My first is to focus on my photography. I have a print project in progress in the studio. I hope to have 12 framed pieces done by Art-A-Whirl in the Spring. Some of you are familiar with my Writers Hands project that I’ve been working on since 2007. I have quite a collection of photographs now, and am combining them with stories of actually meeting the writers. It’s exciting to think about a dozen framed pieces of writing and art on the walls by May.

I’ve discovered I do best when I focus on one project at a time. So I can finish what I’ve started. If I set too many goals, I fall flat on all of them. I’ve given myself permission to let my writing go for a while, to work on my photography. Another thing I’ve learned is that I need something fun that runs parallel to tough creative work projects. For 2010, it’s the BlackBerry 365 photo project.

When it came time to renew our phone contracts in 2009, Liz and I spent a few hours in the Verizon store, checking out all the different options for mobile devices. We could not resist the features and BOGO deal of the BlackBerry. It was October, right before my trip to Pennsylvania, then Down South with Mom. We were on the road, buzzing by the Blue Ridge Parkway, when Liz called and said, “Why don’t you Tweet photos along the way with your BlackBerry.” She gave me a quick ÜberTwitter lesson and an obsession was born — I love my BlackBerry.

I’ve taken over 1000 photos since then, posting them in various places around the Internet including Twitter, Flickr, and TweetPhoto. Many photographers have done a photo-a-day practice over the years. But I never have. I started with 0/365, the Blue Moon the last day of December. The second was the White Winter Squirrel. And though I take many BlackBerry photos over the course of a week, I’ll only post one daily favorite in the BlackBerry 365 Series.

I’ve also decided to post thumbnails of the photos in the comments on this post each day. The idea with cell phone photography is that it creates a different way of seeing. I find that taking photographs with the BlackBerry frees me up. I got to know my Canon PowerShot more intimately this year at a writing retreat and will continue to take RAW photos. But sometimes with the larger camera, I feel pressure to take a great photograph. With the phone camera, I feel free to experiment to my heart’s content.

I’d love it if readers wanted to join me in a phone photo-a-day practice. Just drop the link to your photos into the comments section of this post.

To be clear, here are my photo project intentions for 2010. I’ll try to check in on my progress over the course of the year:

  1. BlackBerry 365 — continue to take BlackBerry Shots each day of 2010. Post my daily fave in the BlackBerry 365 set.
  2. Complete 12 final prints, writing and bios, matted and framed, in my Writers Hands Series by May of 2010 where I will show them in Art-A-Whirl
  3. Start a monetary presence for my photographs in the form of an online store with sets of cards and prints available for purchase (which also involves revealing my identity)

A wise woman recently told me that I had practiced enough, that it was time to complete some of these projects and get them out into the world. She’s right. My practices are important to me, but it’s crucial that I follow through on the finished work. And focusing on photography doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my writing. From the time I was a small child, photography and writing have been inexplicably linked for me. I’m excited to set these intentional goals. And I know you’ll help hold me to them!


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, January 4th, 2009

-Follow the BlackBerry 365 Project on my Flickr set

-related to post: Reflection — Through The Looking Glass

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“K” Is For Kramarczuk’s, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


We stopped at Kramarczuk’s Deli last week to take a few photographs after Christmas shopping. Wasyl Kramarczuk and his wife Anna traveled from the Ukraine to the United States in the 1940′s carrying hope and a dream. In 1954, they combined Wasyl’s sausage making skills with Anna’s delicious cooking and baking to create Kramarczuk’s. Today it’s a Northeast Minneapolis landmark (read more at the Kramarczuk’s website).

Northeast Minneapolis is one area of the city that still cherishes the neighborhood deli. After moving to Minnesota in 1984, I settled in Nordeast where I quickly got to know Kramarczuk’s Deli. In fact, for 20 years I got my hair cut in the vintage East Gate Shopping Center nearby that was torn down a few years ago to make way for a grocery store and high-rise.

What’s your favorite deli food? Check out Kramarczukl’s mouthwatering menu. I’ve had the Polish Sausage, the SauerKraut Dish, and the Ukrainian Meatballs. I love the Varenyky dumplings and the Borscht. It is hearty, stick-to-your-ribs food, perfect for the -0 degree December weather we’ve been having in the Twin Cities. Liz and I were drawn to photograph the mural on the side of the building at night. The letters in the side-by-side alphabets reminded me of our recent post on Runes, Oracles, & Alphabets.

And the Runes remind me of the Holidays and Solstice. Today we’ll be putting up our tree. On Sunday, we’ll be celebrating Winter Solstice at the home of our friends. I’m excited because they recently created a labyrinth in their front yard. Walking from Winter darkness to the green of Spring. What do you want to let go of? What would you like to carry into the light.



Kramarczuk’s – Since 1954, Kramarczuk’s Sausage Co. Inc., Kramarczuk’s Walldog Mural, Northeast – Making History Again, East European Deli – Old Kramarczuk’s Sign, Writing On The Wall, Kramarczuk’s At Christmas, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


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

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Ms. Kiev: She Who Rules The Roost, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


It’s been a long week. Except for the house noises, it’s quiet as the wind. Liz went to the hardware store to buy a new shower head. For the first time this week, I’m alone. It was a hard week. I felt sick on Tuesday but went to work anyway. After becoming a national statistic earlier this year, for the last few months I’ve been driving a truck, delivering parts to machinists to be electropolished, drilled, deburred, picking them up again. It’s Saturday morning, a sacred time when I can actually catch up on reading my own blog.

Weekend hours are sweet. I promised Kiev during her morning ritual with Liz that I’d post a photo of her. She’s the only cat in our family who hasn’t made it to the cover of red Ravine. (Mr. Stripeypants was published for his support of Obama; we lost sweet boy Chaco this year.) I was sitting on the couch, writing. Liz called me on the BlackBerry from the bedroom; I picked up to hear her whispering that I should come and see the cats. I tiptoed in and took these camera shots. Family time.

The first photograph is alpha cat Kiev in her favorite position. Liz places her arm just so; Kiev curls up in the crook, same position every time. I have discovered that Kiev is difficult to photograph. She is jet black and her catty panther features all blend into night. I guess I need one of those umbrella reflectors. I do the best I can.

How do you spend your days and nights? What are your weekends like? Do you take any downtime, time to do things you can’t get to during the week? Or are you retired, off of work, and every day is the weekend for you. It seems like when I have time, I have less money. More money, less time. Where’s the balance?

In catching up on red Ravine, I see that Bob was moved by Anna Deavere Smith in our Writing Topic — 3 Questions. Our guest Buzz explained some of the nuances of basketball banter in his poetry post Hoops. ybonesy wrote about art as play, community art, something dear to our hearts on red Ravine. The renga has heated up in the Daily Haiku. And we made April plans to go to Lake Pepin in the Midwest writing group I am a part of.

I’m relieved to know that even though I feel dead beat at the end of my truck driving day, the creative world goes on around me. And sweeps me along with it. I’m grateful for that.

For Christmas, I may ask Liz for a pocket protector and a few cotton work shirts with my first name stitched above the pocket, but I’m still a writer, a photographer, an artist. Still full of wonder at the animal track flannel sheets in the photo behind Kiev. Making a living as writers and artists isn’t easy. All of you make it easier. Thank you for that.


Morning Rituals, Mr. Stripeypants: Paw Over Hand, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, photo © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, December 5th, 2009 with gratitude to Liz who holds up the other half of the sky, my family and friends who check up on me, and Roma, the best blog partner a woman could ever have

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pseudonym

Definition: false name
Synonyms: AKA, alias, ananym, anonym, assumed name, handle*, incognito*, nickname, nom de guerre, nom de plume, pen name, professional name, stage name, summer name
Notes: an allonym is a pen name that is borrowed, not made-up like a pseudonym
Antonyms: name



The time has come. For three years I have blogged and doodled under (and behind) the pseudonym ybonesy. When we started, the alias was for protection; we didn’t know what kind of weirdos might read the blog. (Now we know, and I’m pretty sure I can best any of ‘em. Well, except for one, and she knows who she is.)

The nom de plume served me in other ways. It made me freer than I might have been early on in my writing. It’s strange sending your words out into the ether of the Internet. There were times when I thought, Well, no one gives a damn about turkeys who mate on the patio, or a snake who bathes, or my stress incontinence, but who cares? No one knows it’s me!

OK, I exaggerate. There were enough friends and family who knew it was me such that I was never truly anonymous. And I knew the kinky among you would appreciate turkey sex, wet snakes, and bed-wetting. (Going back to read that one, are you?)

But I’m ready to merge. I’m already a Gemini; having a pseudonym is like being four people. ybonesy has become me and I have become ybonesy. Time to take off the mask.



first, the facts


My name is Roma Arellano. I’m married to Jim. My daughters are not really Dee and Em, but since they’re not old enough to choose to go public, we’ll keep calling them Dee and Em. Sony the Pug, Baby the Bullsnake, Otis, and Rafael have used their real names from the beginning. They can all bite; thus, they never have worried about protection.

I work in high-tech. I love my job. I used to be a workaholic. It took almost burning out to finally figure out how to work and write in the same lifetime. My other big accomplishment is that I haven’t puked since I was 11; I’m now 48. I have emetophobia, so called because those who suffer are afraid of others emeto-ing all over us. Other than that, I’m like any other corporate writing painting wife mother blogger.



next, the hair


Why did God give us hair anyway? Didn’t he realize we’d figure out how to knit? I have the worst hair. One hairdresser used to call it Schnauzer fur. Then I’d pay him $85 to turn me into a retriever.

Long? Short? You get to decide which is better. Voting is anonymous, or you can vote using your pseudonym. I will not be crushed and depressed for two weeks if you hate my new hair. (After all, I still have my no-puke streak, and you can’t take that away from me.)




BEFORE: Looking like a raptor that just spotted a mouse in a field.


roma long hair 1



AFTER: Aw, I am so shy. Haven’t I proven myself to be shy?















lastly, the stuff


The biggest reason for taking off the mask is that I’m selling my goods and I want to claim them as my own. Part of embracing myself as a creative being is embracing my creations. So instead of ybonesy being my pseudonym, ybonesy is my muse.

And it’s the name of my new Etsy shop. If you haven’t heard about Etsy, it is “your place to buy and sell all things handmade.” You’ll need an Etsy account to buy there, but you will find great items from so many different vendors that it’s worth the trouble setting up an account.


http://www.etsy.com/shop/romaarellano


Wallinga Design, the same graphic design company that created the red Ravine logo, also created my new logo. Professional people and fun to work with. We were aiming for something quirky, bold, emetophobic. Wow, you’re still paying attention?


ybonesy (that's me)


If you have any questions about my shop, you can ask them here. I have more items to add, and more to make. Keep checking in. I haven’t made a sale yet. I might just shave my head when I do make one.



epilogue


If you want to keep calling me ybonesy or yb, that works for me. Or you can call me Roma. Or you can call me Emeto-dork. Or just dork.

QuoinMonkey, who I fondly call QM, is not taking off her mask right away. But eventually, and she doesn’t look anything like a hawk going in for the kill.

OK. All done now. This feels good.




See? I told you I was a dork.

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