Posts Tagged ‘tools of the trade’

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The Key To Success (Backspace) – 9/52 (Haiga), Week 9/BlackBerry 52, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

the key to success,
no matter what type you are —
know when to backspace.

Week 9′s Jump-Off in the BlackBerry 52 collaboration with Lotus sprang from the keys of my Royal typewriter on a Sunday afternoon in the Casket Arts Studio. Feel free to join us if you wish. You can learn more about the project’s beginnings at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration.

-posted on red Ravine, Monday, March 1st, 2011

-related to posts: Waning Moon (Haiga), A Warm Game Of Texas Hold ‘Em (haiga) — 6/52, Celebrating The Lunar New Year — Postcard From A Friend, Flying Solo — Dragonfly In Yellow Rain, The Mirado Black Warrior, icicle tumbleweed (haiga) – 2/52, Best Of BlackBerry 365 — First Quarter SlideShow, BlackBerry 365 Project — White Winter Squirrel, haiku 4 (one-a-day) Meets renga 52

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The Mirado Black Warrior - 3/52

The Mirado Black Warrior – 3/52, Week 3/BlackBerry 52, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

I was at the Casket Arts Studio last night (Liz and I finally completed, scanned, and mailed our sketchbooks to New York) and saw this still life on the art desk. The Mirado Black Warrior is one of my favorite pencils. I bought about ten of them years ago when I read that author Thad Beaumont, the main character in Stephen King’s The Dark Half, wrote his books with Black Warriors. By association, I made the leap that the Black Warrior was also Stephen’s pencil of choice. (I just knew that if I used them to write, his uncanny ability to weave a story together would rub off on me.)

I am fascinated by the way ordinary objects impact our daily lives and have read about the history of pencils. Liz included the pencil on the cover of her sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project because pencils changed the world (her theme was Things That Changed Other Things). I learned at Pencil Revolution that part of what makes the Mirado Black Warrior so enticing is that it is rounded (rather than octagonal), smells like heaven because of its cedar construction, flows smoothly on the page due to the waxed-ceramic and graphite core, and has a semi-soft Pink Pearl eraser that will not burn holes through your pages.

Did you know Henry David Thoreau’s family owned and managed a pencil factory in Concord, Massachusetts? According to The Thoreau Society, “Thoreau family pencils, produced behind the family house on Main Street, were generally recognized as America’s best pencils, largely because of Henry’s research into German pencil-making techniques.” (For more on Thoreau and pencils, check out Henry Petroski’s classic account The Pencil; the thick, tall book is on my bookshelf.)

The Dark Half tops my list of books by Stephen King, along with his nonfiction work, On Writing (see 10 Tips From Stephen King On The Craft Of Writing). I even went to see him at the Fitzgerald Theater in November 2009. So when I saw the Mirado Black Warrior on the desk last night, I knew it would be Week 3’s Jump-Off in the BlackBerry 52 collaboration with Lotus. Feel free to join us if you wish (learn about the project’s beginnings at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration).

-related to posts: icicle tumbleweed (haiga) – 2/52, Best Of BlackBerry 365 — First Quarter SlideShow, BlackBerry 365 Project — White Winter Squirrel, WRITING TOPIC — TOOLS OF THE TRADE

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Orbs In The Barn

Orbs In The Barn, Glenwood, Minnesota, May 2006, photo © 2006-2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

It’s Halloween, the time of year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest. Have you ever taken a photograph and were later surprised to find you had captured an orb? Orbs are small, floating, transparent balls of light, most times unexplainable in the context of the photograph. Some claim that orbs are the building bricks from which ghosts are formed.

Do you believe in ghosts? When I was in high school, we would drive around looking for abandoned buildings that might be haunted. We rarely saw anything supernatural and most times managed to scare ourselves silly. But in the years since, I have been visited by two ghosts. One was from my grandmother in Tennessee the night that she died. She came to see me in (what I thought) was a dream, and told me she loved me. The next day I called Mom to ask if Granny had passed away. She said, “Yes, how did you know?”

The second ghostly visit was from my friend Leslea not long after she died from pancreatic cancer. She appeared in my bedroom, pulled on my toe, and knocked a writing book off the shelf at 3am in the morning. It was one of those cover your head with the sheets moments. I didn’t want to see, but could not forget. There are many TV shows that deal with the paranormal these days. Ghost busters and ghost hunters who travel the world documenting the presence of ghosts. What are your ghost experiences?

In his new book Ghost Hunting — A Survivor’s Guide, John Fraser documents a brief history of ghost hunting and explores definitions of poltergeists, doppelgangers, animal ghosts, and crisis apparitions that occur at the point of death or near death of a loved one. Fraser has several chapters on methods of ghost hunting. He divides ghost hunting tools of the trade into scientific and low-tech. Many of the paranormal ghost hunters we hear of today are using high-tech, scientific methods.

High-Tech Ghost Hunting Equipment

  • EMF Meters — commonly called ghost detectors and used to measure electromagnetic fields of various frequencies. These devices measure fluctuations in electromagnetic energy in the environment. [Last week I heard a radio interview with a psychic that said many times EMF detectors are not useful because ghosts like to hang out where there is an abundance of electrical currents like airports or malls.]
  • Cameras — used in ghost hunting for well over 100 years, commonly to capture orbs or mists
  • Thermometers — traditional mainstay of a ghost hunter’s kit used to register changes in air temperature. Digital is the best today. Some use infrared thermometers for target spotting. The theory is that ghosts often suck up the warm energy around them, leaving cold spots where they hover or stand.
  • Tape Recorders — Ghosts and poltergeists often make audible sounds or electronic voice phenomena called EVP. You will hear EVP’s recorded with digital recorders in many of the ghost busting TV shows.
  • Camcorders — camcorders are placed in paranormal hot spots and later reviewed for images or disturbances
  • Night Vision Scopes — for open-air locations where mediums feel more comfortable operating in the darkness
  • Barometers & Motion Detectors — compact and digital, to measure changes in air pressure. Like EMF meters, barometers do not detect ghosts but indicate a change in the environment or warning of poltergeist activity.
  • Spirit Box — a regular portable AM/FM radio modified to continually scan up and down the dial without stopping. The radio produces small snippets of clearly distinguishable voices as it scans the stations, noises that are clearly not part of any broadcast. Many believe that the spirits, who lack a voice of their own, are able to harness and manipulate radio signals to give voice to their thoughts.

Low-Tech Ghost Hunting Equipment

  • Graph Paper — for drawing clear plans of the haunted site
  • Rulers or Tape Measures — used to measure distances of objects moved
  • Watches — digital and viewable in the dark for timing events, synchronized among investigators
  • Voltmeters — used to check electrical power faults and cuts
  • Strain Gauges — to measure the force it would take to open a door or drawer, or the weight of an object that has been moved
  • Magnifying Glasses — for closer viewing of evidence
  • Transparent Envelopes — safe place to store unusual objects collected
  • Flour — simple device for sealing off a room, sprinkling a large area, seeing if footprints are left by any intruders
  • Black Thread — for sealing rooms to detect and prevent hoaxes
  • Torches — to light dark ghost hunting corners, castles, and caves
  • Candles — for lighting and to detect air flow changes
  • Whistles — to call for help if needed. Can also use a two-way radio.
  • Survey Maps –– to document history of what the property may have been used for in the past
  • Chalk – to make temporary marks showing the location of objects before and after they have been moved

Many ghost hunters also use human sensitives, intuitives, psychics, or mediums to help detect paranormal activity. If you want to read more about ghost hunting, your local library is a great resource for books on the paranormal, including the newest from John Fraser. Get your ghost hunting kits ready because tonight is Halloween. We’ll have a fire in the fire ring and candy in hand, ready to stave off tricks in favor of treats.

Ghosts make for good Writing Practice too. Whether haunted by figurative ghosts or the real thing, there is juice in ghost writing. Write the word Ghosts at the top of your page — 10 minutes, Go!

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, October 31st, 2010

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Tools Of The Trade (On Sale), Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Back-to-school sales are a bonus for writers. Liz came home last night with presents in tow: three full-sized college ruled notebooks for Writing Practice and five colorful 4 1/2 by 3 1/4 Composition notebooks with marble covers (my favorite for carrying around in my pocket). The large notebooks were a penny less than 4 bits; the small ones only 19 cents. (Hint: a bit is 12.5 cents; 2 bits is a quarter.)

Last night I put the small red Composition notebook by my bed. It came in handy when I woke up at 3 a.m. with insomnia. I grabbed it and wrote down these haiku (senryu) floating around in my head. I had hoped the rhythmic counting would help me get back to sleep:


Insomnia haiku (II)

crumpled white paper
word remembrances of love
10 sleepless monsters
rambling around in my head
flat Insomnia

beyond Milky Way
a random act of kindness
what it takes to love



I hope everyone is taking advantage of the back-to-school sales to stock up on writing supplies. Paper products are our Tools of the Trade. What kind of notebooks and pens do you love? Where can we get the best deals?


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, August 13th, 2009

-related to posts: WRITING TOPIC – TOOLS OF THE TRADE, haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Hunters Moon (Over The Weisman), Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Hunter’s Moon (Over The Weisman), Minneapolis, Minnesota,
October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights

I watched October’s moon all month long. The Full Hunter’s Moon rose over the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art after a soft rain. The museum winds upward along the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. That night we were there to see a one of a kind video performance by R. Luke DuBois, along with his exhibit Hindsight is Always 20/20 .

The Weisman, designed by acclaimed architect Frank O. Gehry, spirals high above the Mississippi River. Moonlight reflects off her curves, and the city beams in ripples that echo off sweeping balconies. Every time I see the building, I think of Sydney Pollack’s Sketches of Frank Gehry and the way the two men were playful, yet articulate, when they bantered back and forth about their craft; they each shot for the moon.

Last night, while Liz was finishing up last minute details on Rendering & Return, an Red Synonym Finder, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Intermedia video performance she created and will be showing this weekend, I grabbed The Synonym Finder she had just put down on the couch, and looked up the word moonstruck. That led to another word, and another, until I was knee-deep in moons.

I learned about The Synonym Finder from Natalie at one of her workshops. We are the proud owners of two. It was compiled by Jerome Irving (J.I.) Rodale in 1978 and contains more than 1,500,000 words on 1,376 pages.

It might weigh in at over 5 pounds, but writers — don’t leave home without it.

I’m tired tonight and only have enough steam for a short post. Circling back to moonwriting, these are a few expressions I have run into in my research, words and phrases to describe the October moon:

Falling Leaves Moon
White Frost On The Grass & Ground Moon
Moon When The Water Begins To Freeze On The Edge Of The Streams
Moon When The Birds Fly South
Leaves Change Color Moon
Bears Hibernate Moon
Month of Long Hair
Moon When The Wind Shakes Off The Leaves
Month of the First Frost
Wilted Moon
Rutting Moon
Hunter’s Moon
Travels In Canoe Moon
Big Wind Moon

Ripples, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Ripples, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

And from The Synonym Finder, letters moonlighting as words help to explain Autumn’s 10th Moon; October’s waning splendor; the November Full Moon I discovered a moment ago, rising behind me over the oaks.

moon  n.  1. satellite, secondary planet, celestial body, Archaic. lamp.
2. new moon, increscent moon, waxing moon, decrescent moon, waning moon, old moon; crescent, lune, meniscus, half-moon, demilune; full moon, hunter’s moon, harvest moon; disk, orb, sphere, globe, ball.
3. month, lunation, lunar month
4. once upon a blue moon rarely, seldom, not very often, hardly ever.
__v. 5. Informal. daydream, dream, fantasize, imagine, indulge in reverie, gaze or look out the window, stargaze, go off into one’s own world; mope, pine, languish, brook; fret, sulk, pout.
6. Informal. (all of time) waste, squander, fritter, spend idly, pass, Sl. blow.

moonlight, n. 1. moonshine, Fr. clair de lune, moonbeams, Fr. rayons de lune.
___v.  2. Informal. work two jobs, work nights.

moon-shaped, adj. crescent, crescentic, crescent-shaped, demilune, half-moon, meniscoid; lunate, lunar, lunular, lunulate, luniform; sickle-shaped, falcate, faliform, bicorn; semiglobular, hemispheric; curved, bow-shaped, convexo-concave, semicircular.

moonshine, n. 1. U.S. Informal. U.S. bootleg, Sl. hootch, smuggled or contraband whiskey, Fr. alcool de contraband; homemade whiskey, corn whiskey.
2. moonlight, Fr. clair de lune, moonbeams, Fr. rayons de lune.
3. nonsense, Sl. hot air, humbug, claptrap, rodomontade, fustian, bombast, rant; idle or foolish talk, Inf. gab, Sl. gas, palaver, chatter, chit-chat, jabber, prate; jargon, gobbledegook, Jabberwocky, gibberish, babble, Fr. bavardage, twaddle, Brit. twattle, blather, drivel; foam, froth, bunkum, Sl. bunk, U.S. Sl. blah; flummery, Inf. hokum, Sl. applesauce, Sl. eyewash; rubbish, Sl. tripe, refuse, Dial. culch, chaff, trash, Inf. garbage, Sl. crap, Sl. crock, Sl. bull; balder-dash, Sl. horsefeathers, hogwash, stuff, stuff and nonsense, Inf. bosh, Brit. Inf. gammon, Brit. Sl. tosh, fudge, foolishness, folly, rigmarole, amphigory; footle, Inf. malarkey, Sl. bushwa, Sl. baloney, Sl. bilge or bilge water, Sl. meshugaas, Scot. and North Eng. haver; poppycock, Inf. fiddle-faddle, Inf. piffle, Inf. hooey, Inf. kibosh, Inf. flapdoodle.

moon-struck adj. 1. crazed, crazy, mad, maddened, lunatic, lunatical, insane, demented, deranged, dazed, moon-stricken, possessed, infatuated; of unsound mind, Latin non compos mentis, mentally ill, daft, Inf. daffy, unbalanced, touched. Inf. unglued. Inf. half-baked, Brit. Sl. bonkers. Brit Sl. barmy, unhinged, distracted; brainsick, Sl. kooky, Sl. meshuga; U.S. Sl. balmy, dippy, batty, bats, cuckoo, buggy, bughouse, bugs, screwy, wacky, wacko, goofy, loony, squirrely, bananas, nuts, nutty, nutty as a fruitcake.
2. out of one’s head or mind or senses or wits. Scot. redwood, Sl. loco, mad as a hatter, mad as a March hare, far-gone, stark raving mad; not all there, not quite right, not right upstairs; Inf. out in left field, Sl. in outer space, Sl. in orbit, Inf. off the wall; Inf. Cracked, Inf. mental, Sl. off one’s rocker, Sl. out of one’s tree, Sl. off one’s trolley, Brit. Sl. off one’s chump.
3. hysterical, delirious, maniacal, madding, Archaic. wood; frantic, frenzied, frenetic; ranting, raving, storming, foaming at the mouth; beside oneself, at wit’s end; out of control, uncontrollable, corybantic, Inf. haywire, berserk, rabid, wild.

Nightlight Downtown, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Nightlight Downtown, Weisman Art Museum,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2008, photo
© 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, November 13th, 2008,
rabid and wild on the inside, in need of sleep on the outside,
basking in the light of November’s Full Moon

-related to posts: PRACTICE – September Harvest Moon – 15 min, Against The Grain (August Moon), The Many Moons Of July (Digging Deeper), winter haiku trilogy, PRACTICE – Wolf Moon – 10min

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Rubber Stamp, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Rubber Stamp, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 100-year-old maple floors of the Casket Arts Building, April 3rd, 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

ink covers rubber
thunder blizzard covers spring
paper covers wood


-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, April 10th, 2008

-related to posts:  haiku (one-a-day), WRITING TOPIC – TOOLS OF THE TRADE, ybonesy’s PRACTICE: Tools Of The Trade – 20min

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Van Morrison is on in the background singing, They Sold Me Out. Later…Jools Holland. The sky is lit up at 7:51. A few months ago, dark by 4pm. I’m thinking about Mrs. Blume, my 4th grade teacher. She said her son, Jules had a crush on me. Why? Because my hair looked like Patty Duke. Swirl, schwish, swoop under the chin.

But this writing practice is about Tools of the Trade. It’s hard to dive right in. I splayed everything out on the couch beside me. The bucket of Kid’s Crafts 100 FineLine Markers, The Crayola GlitterGlue and PipSqueak makers, the Portfolio 24 Oil Pastels, yellow cat with green box, long eyelashes, sylin’.

I’m looking at the Canson watercolor paper manufactured in France, 9×12 and 4×6, cold press, Montval Aquarelle. Liz bought the paper along with a box of 24 Reeves Water Colour Pencils. We went to purchase art materials when we started working on the mandalas. The rest of my art supplies are packed in boxes. And boxes and boxes. I hauled them to the studio last week. But I don’t know what I have. I need to go through them, purge.

It was ybonesy who said that she has art supplies she would not use, even if she could find the time. I feel the same way. When I went to MCAD, I was sure I was going to be able to tackle every art form before I died. But that’s like saying I’ll read all the books I want to before I die. It’s not happening. That reminds me of the Do Or Die lists that ybonesy and I made for that Writing Topic. And that takes my brain to Bucket List, a movie Mom saw about a month ago. What is important to us? What do we want to do before we die?

This is all I ever wanted to do. Write, photograph, be close to my family, have a partner that makes me smile every day, and good loyal friends. Loyalty is important to me. This is something I’ve realized over the last year. I have lost friends. I have gained friends. Isn’t it strange how people come and go, suddenly, and most times with no rhyme or reason. Loyalty. But not at all costs.

There are Crayola colored pencils in a green swoop neck container with a roll top, like a roll-top desk. The roll part of the top is clear and I can see that many of the points need sharpened. The thing about colored pencils is that I love contrast and I can’t seem to find a deep enough value in the tip of a colored pencil. Others are able to achieve dark, dark, blues, crimson reds, and lemony snicket yellow. That’s not a word. Where did it come from?

On the painted living room table there is a navy mug with gold moon, sun, and stars, from the Wedge CoOp on Lyndale. It’s filled with 4 fluorescent highlighters (I use highlighters a lot in writing), a black Uniball Vision (an old favorite), a cool Post-It highlighter, filled with Post-It flags on the other end. I use a lot of Post-It Notes. Did you know the glue came out in 1968 but the Post-It was not mass marketed until 1980.

There is a hot pink Pilot Precise V5, Extra Fine, a Sanford Fine Point Sharpie, an overused emery board that Chaco likes to lick, and a Twist-Erase 0.7 Pentel pencil made in Japan. There is an Olivia pen, a publisher gave to the bookstore where I worked, bright red bottom, clear top with a thick liquid, Olivia floating from top to bottom when I move the pen up and down. Olivia wears a red smock, black and white striped pants, and a black bowtie. Her skin is bright, a fictional pig.

These are my tools of the trade. There is a Mead spiral notebook, 3 yellow legal pads, and a Spiderman folder where I carry all the notes from my red Ravine meetings with ybonesy. It’s thick and full of papers with lines in orange, yellow, and green highlighter. When I read ybonesy’s post on Tools of the Trade, I thought, “I really should give away those strings of beads I bought at BearHawk Indian Store. I should give them to an artist who would appreciate them, a beader.”

Once I thought I would sew. But I am not good at sewing. I usually have a lot of patience. I don’t have it for sewing, knitting, or anything involving thread, needles, or yarn. Strange. Because sewing is the perfect medium for meditation. To keep the hands moving, let the mind get lost, the body ground through the hands.

There’s a Prosperity candle from a Pennsylvania store I went to with Mom last June. The Satya Super Hit – Since 1964 – incense I got that burns long and wild (made by the same people that make Nagchampa and Saibaba). Blue, red, silver, black box, smells good as Italian Roast.

I gave Liz the Goddess Prosperity candle for her birthday. The odor, clean and green. The poem says – “In opening up our hearts to giving and receiving, blessings and gifts come easily. Abundance and joy flow in our life. The Goddess of Prosperity is the embodiment of success and fulfillment.” Prosperity. Giving and receiving. Can’t have one without the other. The art of a craft – not up for trade.

-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008


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