KaBooM WritersKaBooM Writers

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!

Welcome to the online presence of KaBooM, a writing group that has sustained the creative lives of a diverse group of women for over a decade. We hope that getting to know us will inspire you, too!


The KaBooM Writers Notebook: Our Blog

Working Water: A collaboration and memoriam

Cover Art by Pam Papka Sexton, 2000

Cover Art by Pam Papka Sexton, 2000

 

At a meeting recently, Gail brought in a copy of the anthology, Working Water, written and published in 2000 by the students in the YMCA Master Poetry Class, taught by James Baker Hall.  Pam Papka Sexton, our dearly missed Kaboom member, created the cover.  I remembered how and when she had made it, and how she and that anthology had led to the final chapter of my novel Ruby River, a chapter I would not have written but for Pam and the phrase, “Working water.”

Now, I often desire solitude as the ideal situation for making art or for writing.  We all dream of the private studio and uninterrupted days as long as the sun’s journey from horizon to horizon that sometimes include the moon’s crossing as well.  The artist in the attic, the recluse in the cabin, the single person, the wealthy person unencumbered by the demands of conversation and appointment.  And yet much good work comes out of group work, when the members intentionally engage in making some thing new.  Collaboration is one form of  group making, but making within the parameter of a group offers a rare sense of support and maybe even revs up the quality of one’s focus and intention.  Sort of like playing on a tennis team where every one has a racket and a desire to win but each member plays, wins or loses, her own match. Kaboom Blog Oct 2014 5

Pam’s cover and my chapter are both stories of artistic collaborations that bore better fruit because of companionship.   First the cover.  Pam, Deborah Reed, an early member of Kaboom, (pictured above) and I met for coffee with a North Carolina artist whose show in Lexington featured images she’d made with a fascinating process that involved a photocopier and nail polish remover.  Pam was intrigued and tried the process herself.  She xeroxed one of her paintings of a wooded landscape.  While the copy’s ink was still wet, she applied nail polish remover which created the foggy clouds of color  When it was dry, she copied that image and that is what you see as the cover of the anthology Sherry Chandler designed.  In this case, one artist shared a process with another.

The chapter came about in a more roundabout way, with more antecedents, some which I will never know of.  Pam, Deborah Reed, Mary Alexander, Betty Gabehart, and I went to Forest Retreat, an old estate in Nicholas County, for a writing weekend.  One of its distinctions is that its family cemetery contains the remains of both a former governor and a Kentucky Derby Winner.  Actually there are several thoroughbred race horses buried in the plot.  We had our photos taken with their memorial stones.

We also visited an emu farm and Blue Licks Battlefield, places which offered inspiration for our afternoon writing practices. We gathered in the sitting room, where Pam led us through an exercise she learned in the Master Poetry Class: as each poet read his or her weekly poem, the students gleaned intriguing words which they used as the basis for new poems.  At Forest Retreat, Pam read a poem she had written using that method.  We repeated the exercise by writing down words we liked.  I wrote “working water” among others.

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From our pile of gift words, we constructed a scene on the page, into which would come, after ten minutes of writing, a character whom the person on our left had created. Since we had been to Blue Licks that morning to the river, I described a sycamore that was “ghostly.”  Mary Alexander (pictured above at the retreat) passed me a character sketch of a young girl wearing a red and black dress.  From those words, I wrote the three page chapter that ends Ruby River:  “He was born with a hole in his heart.  When the wind blew he could feel it gush deep in his chest, a sound like green hush.  If he was working the water on Sunday morning, always a Sunday morning, he heard the wind play as a harp, the ripples on the slow river like the notes in his heart . . . .”

Not Feeling Myself

There’s a silly commercial on television that shows children in Halloween costumes recommending a candy bar to a character, a giant head who claims to be the Horseless Headsman. After taking a bite, the character becomes the famous Headless Horseman. The slogan is “Because you’re not you when you’re hungry”.  Like I said, a silly commercial. Still, it made me think about the times that I don’t quite feel like myself.

I was taking a life drawing class a few years ago at the University of Kentucky. The instructor, Ross Zirkle, was an excellent teacher, involved and excited about his subject and his students. The first day of class, he handed out a paper listing all of the things that happen to artists when they don’t create. The list included such fun things as alcohol and drug abuse, depression, divorce; everything but the seven plagues of Egypt. I admit, I thought he was overstating the idea. After all, the history books are full of artists who struggled with depression, alcoholism, and other ills. What about Jackson Pollack, divorced alcoholic? What about Vincent Van Gogh? Surely cutting off ones ear is not the act of a happy, well adjusted artist.

However, the more I thought about Ross’s essay, the more I began to understand what he was trying to say. If we deny something as integral to our being as the urge to create, then we can’t fulfill our true human potential. We fail to become our best selves. Art doesn’t guarantee happiness, or even simple satisfaction, but without it, as artists, we are guaranteed unhappiness and dissatisfaction. I thought of all the years I had put my career on hold. Those years were filled with family obligations, excuses that I didn’t have the time or energy to devote to my own work. After all, it seemed selfish to put my own need for work above the real needs of my children and husband. I would have said at one time that they were busy, happy years for me.

It wasn’t until late in my life that I began to appreciate that my denial of self had cost not only me, but my family, the very people to whom I had dedicated myself. I had an obligation to be the best person I could be, to use and develop the talent with which I was gifted. To show, not just tell, my children what it takes to develop as a human being. While I was encouraging my children to realize their potential, I was ignoring my own. I was failing to become myself.

Now, when I feel disconnected from myself, out of sorts or depressed, I turn again to my art work. Realizing that I can find myself in my work is liberating. I won’t claim that I never feel guilty, or that I don’t worry at times that I’m neglecting my family, but I now feel that I’m ultimately doing us all a favor. I am myself again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (6) — Categorized under: Creativity,Mary Alexander

The Heebie Jeebies

My three quilts framed and hanging in the hospital hallway.

The following is an email conversation that I had in January with my friends from KaBoom. I was working on three quilts to be hung in a new hospital and about halfway through the project, I was plagued by a severe case of self doubt. The responses I received from Normandi Ellis, Susan Brown, Leatha Kendrick, and Jan Isenhour were thoughtful, encouraging, and warm and allowed me to relax and successfully complete my work.

 

MA: Help! I’ve got a bad case of the heebie jeebies. That’s what I call the feeling that comes when I’m halfway through a project and suddenly paralysis sets in. I’ve been trying to work all week and it’s not going well. Self-doubt is plaguing me and interfering with my sleep. I’m beginning to wonder if I will be able to complete this quilting project by the deadline. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Or am I setting myself up to fail with this extreme anxiety?

I’m panicked that I won’t have enough material of the right colors to give cohesion to the project. I’ve spent hours at quilt shops and on line looking at material and yet everything I’ve bought has turned out to be wrong somehow. I’ve put on pieces (I work on a design wall first before sewing pieces together)only to take them down. I put up another color only to take that down too. I had hoped to work out most of my problems with fabric choice on this first quilt and that the other two will be faster. My goal was to finish this first one by the end of December and yet here it hangs, about half done.

Today is my daughter’s birthday and I don’t think my labor to bring her into life was as painful as the process I’m going through now. At least during that labor, I knew that it was going to end one way or another before the day was through. I had wonderful nurses, an adequate doctor, and a terrified husband to deal with, but I knew that at the end of it all, I wouldn’t be pregnant anymore. What can I say, I was only 19! Not being pregnant seemed the height of desirability. Looking back, I can see that giving birth was the beginning of a long journey that is not ended yet.

Maybe if I can tell myself that creating these works of art is only a beginning then it won’t seem so terrifying. This is not a live or die situation. Yes, there is the possibility of failure, but it’s only one possibility of several. Maybe the hospital people will love the quilts. Maybe the company that commissioned them will commission others. Maybe they won’t be in love with my work, but will deem it acceptable and still hang them. Maybe they’ll hate them, but I have a contract and it doesn’t say anything about whether or not they LIKE the work. 🙂 And I’ve already deposited my check for half the commission!

Thank you dear friends for your patience with my whining. I find, as always, that writing down my deepest fears takes some of the bite out of them. I can only hope that the heebie jeebies will come to an end and my time will be more productive. I will try to be grateful for this opportunity and not paralyzed by it.

NE: All is well and you will get through the other side. The hardest part is the doubt, but as you say, you just have to keep going. I think some of the best things I ever did in terms of stories or books were those that I was ready to ditch at one point because they just weren’t want I thought they were supposed to be. You know, of course, that the art itself will teach you what it needs and wants. I have seen you work and I have every confidence that you are listening closely to it! In fact, I can even see you bent over the work with your ear to the fabric practically. We’re all there with you, cheering you on. It’ll be wonderful when it’s finished, and you will have learned something of your own process through it.

SCB: Oh, Mary. Normandi is right, of course. This work will teach you what it needs and what it will take to finish it, and you have all the skills and intuition you need to see it through. You’ve done so much beautiful work, and you’re up to finishing this project.

Maybe you could set aside thoughts of the audience and the people who will see it for a while, and just be with the quilt. Eventually the audience will have a role, but they don’t belong in your studio with you while you’re doing your work. Too many crowds, too much noise. You’re the one who knows what needs to be done, and what your audience needs is for you to do what only you can do.

Interesting question, whether the Magi had their doubts about that journey. They probably did– how could you not? But they had enough faith to keep going. And your friends who know you and know your work have enough faith for you, even if your own has its moments of wavering.

All will be well.

LK: Mary, I am so glad that you wrote out your doubts and allowed us to hear them. Doubt and fear have paralyzed me and continue to — especially lately — but I have not thought to reach out. What I know is that these emotions (as Susan wisely points out) have to do with letting others’ judgment hover over the work itself. When I simply am with the work, it takes the lead — the problem here for you is the deadline also hovering. And your self-imposed schedule. Let go of what you thought would happen and be with what is unfolding. Trust that once the first quilt falls into place, the others will come more quickly. Most deadlines are more flexible than we imagine — even our own.

Of course, we are all talking to ourselves, you know. And you have given us a chance to remind ourselves of what matters — which is the process, as frustrating and terrifying as it is sometimes.

JI: It sounds as if each of us sees herself in the situation you describe, Mary. I had always thought of myself as being a procrastinator–and then of course someone pointed out to me that procrastination is classic behavior for a perfectionist, who allows so many things to interfere with the work she wants to accomplish. A useful piece of advice for me was Anne Lamott’s exhortation to work “bird by bird”: forgetting about the finished, beautiful, and well-received end product and instead making my slow way through tiny steps that lead eventually to the end, allowing myself to feel graced by surprises along the way rather than threatened. Good advice. Wish I could learn to accept it more often.

MA: Thank you all for your wonderful encouragement! I’ve read your responses over and over and feel myself taking heart already. Each of you had a fresh take on my problem and each new view has helped me look at my work in a new light. I will keep plugging along and hope that I will have a better report when we meet again. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am once again reminded of how important you all are to me.

 

I did finish the quilts in time, but I know that the words from my friends played a key role. How many times do we sabotage our own efforts with doubt and negativity? By acknowledging my difficulties and reaching out to my committed group of like minded artists, I brought the heebie jeebies out of the dark and in the light of clear thinking, I vanquished them and completed my project. The words, “All will be well!” became my slogan and self fulfilling prophecy.

Do you have people in your life as an artist that you can reach for when the heebie jeebies attack?

Goal Tending

I am not a jock. I can hear my friends and family laughing at this massive understatement, but I make it to underscore that I am the last person one would expect to use a sports metaphor. However, I find myself thinking about the phrase, goal tending, and how it applies to basketball and the life of an artist.

In basketball, goal tending is a foul. Wikipedia defines it as ” the violation of interfering with the ball when it is on its way to the basket and it is (a) in its downward flight, (b) entirely above the rim and has the possibility of entering the basket, and (c) not touching the rim.” It goes on to add that “in both NCAA and NBA basketball, goaltending is also called if the ball has already touched the backboard while it is above the rim in its flight, regardless of whether it is in upward or downward flight.” Clear as mud right?

I remember my first college basketball game. I was a freshman at the University of Kentucky. My date was a member of the UK track and field team so we sat in the athletic section. I watched in amazement as my date transformed from the thoughtful, slightly shy boy I knew into a raving lunatic, swearing at the referee, questioning the parentage of various players on the opposing LSU team. One of the moments I remember most came when the referee called a goaltending foul on UK. I asked my date in confusion, “Why aren’t they supposed to tend to the goal?”  My date gaped at me, clearly wondering how I made it into college with such a fundamental gap in my education. What can I say. I was a basketball virgin.

When it comes to an artistic career, I think goal tending is an absolute necessity. There are fewer clear, defined landmarks for the arts than there might be in another career. It is necessary, therefore, that you not only create your own goals, but defend them from the many distractions and detractors that come with the messy process of living.

I ran across a journal the other day that I kept while participating in a workshop using Julia Cameron’s classic book, The Artist’s Way. For one of the exercises we had to write down at least three secret desires for our work as artists. I wrote out my wishes, thinking that they were far-fetched and unlikely to come true. I wanted to have my own show, I wanted to land a large commission, and I wanted to have my work displayed in a public place. Imagine my surprise when looking through the book three years later, I found that I have fulfilled each of those desires.

Although I had not thought of that exercise in those three years, I believe that the deliberate act of writing them down pointed me in the right direction to succeed. By writing down my desires, I transformed them from wishes into goals and placed them into the back of my mind. My subconscious tended to those goals even when I was not thinking of them with the result that I had a show of my work at Beaumont Inn, I landed a large private commission, and I now have a quilt hanging in a prominent space in the Mercer County Library. Slam dunk! How’s that for a sports metaphor?

 

The Power of the Pen

I love my computer. It simplifies the physical process of writing for me. Editing is easier. How did we ever compose without cut and paste? Spell check, for all of its faults(and they are many), catches errors that the eye might overlook. The computer makes writing faster so that when I type, I can keep up with the racing thoughts that sometimes accompany creative energy. I find it easier to get my thoughts out when I’m not distracted by the feel of the pen in my hand, the drag of the ink across paper, or the shape of the letters.  As arthritis gradually eats away at my knuckles, typing is also less painful than writing by hand. Yet, even though the benefits are many, I still feel the need for hand writing. Why do I bother with hand writing anything when it’s so much more convenient to tap out a quick email and hit send?

Have you ever wondered why legal documents require a hand written signature? The answer is obvious; our signature is unique. Nobody else can sign our name the exact same way we sign it. Even talented forgers make tiny errors that enable experts to detect the difference between a real signature and a forgery. The same thing can be said for all of our hand writing. Dr. Rosemary Sassoon, the creator of the Sassoon series of typefaces, said, “Handwriting is an imprint of the self on the page.” Our handwriting is imbued with our personality in a way that a typed page can never capture.  I can look at something scribbled on the back of an old picture and know if it was written by my mother, my father, or my grandmother. I have letters from my grandmother that show the passage of time by the way her script began to waver as she aged but even wavering, it is still undeniably my grandmother’s handwriting. My father often typed his letters; as a businessman, he had ready access to a typewriter. But he always signed them in pen and ink and I still get a warm feeling when I come across an old letter with his signature at the bottom. The hand written signature connects me to my father in a visceral way that the typed pages don’t. I can see my father’s hand swooping, forming the “d” for David and final swoop on the end that crossed the “t” in Harter with the tail of the “r.” It’s unmistakably my father’s hand.

Recently,  I received a short, hand written note from a woman I have never met. This woman had seen a piece of my art work that is hanging in the public library in Harrodsburg, Ky. She was inspired to write to me to tell me how much she loved my work and she offered me some hollyhock seeds for my garden, the hollyhock being the subject of my quilted work. I was so touched by the note that I immediately called to tell her. I told her that not only did I appreciate her compliment to my work, I appreciated that she had taken the time to write.  She laughed and said, “That’s what we old women do!” I told her that it was more than that. She gave me something to save; something to read again when I’m feeling particularly discouraged about my work. I hope that writing by hand is not a dying art. I hope it’s something that we all will continue to do, not just “we old women.”  I can’t picture a stack of emails being saved with quite the same reverence as a bundle of love letters tied with blue ribbon. I hope that the hollyhocks will bloom next summer in my garden and remind me of the kindness of a stranger and the power of the pen.

 

 

 

 

13 Years of KaBoom; How on Earth Did We Get Here?

Lynn, Mary, Jan, Gail, Pam, Susan, and Leatha

A question I ask often myself is how on earth did I get to be this old? And the answer is always the same- one second at a time.  I am sometimes asked the same question about KaBoom. How on earth have we stayed together for 13 years? The simple answer, of course,  is one meeting at a time. But as with age, the simple answer doesn’t tell the whole story. After much reflection I have come up with reasons both general and personal that have contributed to the success of KaBoom. I am listing  these suggestions in the hope that they may help someone who is looking to create a similar writing group.

General

Size: Like Goldilocks, we have kept our group neither too large nor too small. Eight seems to be the upper limit to allow time for full discussions of each other’s work. We like the intimacy of a smaller group, but try not to fall below four in order to ensure a variety of opinion and style.

Membership: New members should be agreed upon by all members. It’s best to say no if there are doubts about someone before they meet with the group. All shoes do not fit all feet and all writers do not play well in group settings. If a problem arises with someone after they have joined, the others should approach that person as a group, explain their concerns, and try to reach a solution.

Place: A neutral meeting space has been important to us. It should be a convenient location with plenty of parking and a tolerance for raucous discussion. We usually don’t meet at a member’s house so no one has to clean up or feel obliged to provide sustenance and so all can simply enjoy being together.

Time: Pick a regular meeting time, recognizing that at various points in life, members may have more demands on their time and that these demands will fluctuate. Don’t sit there with a stop watch waiting for late offenders. Simply begin your discussion and let the late ones catch up when they can. Over time it always seems to even out.

Personal

Be tolerant. We are all struggling and sometimes the things that irritate us most about others are the things that secretly irritate us about ourselves.  Kindness is an important component of our group dynamics and seems to be the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine of honest criticism go down.

Be honest. If we don’t tell each other the truth about our work, believe me, someone outside will. Honesty fosters trust and although we don’t always agree with each other, an honest discussion enhances our work and helps us see it as other see it.

Be committed. You won’t always feel like going to a meeting, reading another manuscript, or discussing someone else’s writers block, but those times pass, and then it will be good again. If something isn’t working for you in the group, speak up before quitting. Anyone can quit, but not everyone can find a group of like minded people with which to share a creative life.

Have fun! This may be my most important suggestion. Laugh, tell jokes, and share life with one another. Don’t take yourselves too seriously even as you struggle to produce serious work. And maybe 13 years from now you will look at your writing group and marvel at the way time passes, one second at a time!

Falling Apart: In Defense of Procrastination

When I was in high school, I had a wonderful piano teacher, Mrs. Blackwell. A few weeks before my senior recital, I drove my family crazy practicing the same tricky sections over and over, trying to get the music as close to perfect as I could. Then, a few days before recital time, the music that I thought I had perfected fell apart under my fingers. Suddenly, I hit all the wrong notes and couldn’t remember entire passages. Instead of advising me to practice more, Mrs. Blackwell patted me on the back and told me to play something else for a few days. Something fun. She said, “Don’t worry, Mary. You’ve worked hard and the music is still there. Sometimes things fall apart just before they come together.”

It was hard to follow her advice. I wanted perfection, after all, and the only way I knew to achieve it was to work harder.  But being an obedient student, I put aside the broken pieces and played something else instead.  Then, on recital night, the music flowed. It wasn’t perfect, of course, I never managed perfection, but it was very good. It was better than I had ever played it before. It was a miracle!

It’s been over forty years since I graduated from high school. I went to college as a music major and graduated as an art major. I married and raised two children who have given me four wonderful grandchildren. I’ve continued my work in art and branched out into writing. Yet, the advice given such a long time ago by a gifted music teacher still comes to mind when I’m struggling to perfect a paragraph or finish a quilt and it’s not going well. I back off, work on something else for a while. Then, when I return to my project, I tackle it with a renewed spirit and see solutions to problems that before appeared unsolvable. I call this method creative procrastination and see it as part of the process. Mrs. Blackwell was right. Sometimes things fall apart just before they come together.

Comments (0) — Categorized under: Creativity,Mary Alexander

Let’s Put on a Show

I love old movie musicals. Particular favorites of mine are the show within a show variety where teens would gather together to solve some financial problem by putting on a show. Within a few days these enterprising young people produced a show with amazing singing, dancing, and costumes that not only saved the theater, school, or whatever the needy cause but also resolved all of the romantic entanglements of the young stars. Everybody would come together in the last scene holding hands and belting out the final number with shining, happy faces.

Of course, in real life, many of those young stars went on to lead tragic lives complicated by alcohol and drugs, multiple love affairs and marriages. Putting on a show in public to cover up their very real problems only exacerbated them and the money they made didn’t solve anything in the end. Their personal show within the show too often closed early without the happy last scene.

I recently had the pleasure of putting on a show of my art quilts at the Beaumont Inn in Harrodsburg. It was my first solo show and I spent the better part of the year preparing for it. I was surprised and honored by the number of people who came to see my quilts but I also experienced a form of stage fright. As gratifying as it was to see my work displayed in such a beautiful setting, it was terrifying as well. It was difficult to listen and watch as people looked and discussed my work. But I also had my own part to play in the show. I had to answer all the questions and pretend to be unfazed when someone made a remark about the price that I had put on a particularly large, complicated piece. Nobody knows the real worth of a piece of art more than the artist themselves and having to translate that worth into a dollar value is a daunting task.

Does putting on a show solve our financial problems? Sometimes, perhaps. I didn’t make a sale at my show, but I did have someone call several days later about doing a commission piece. Selling is a validation of the worth of our work. But most of us don’t create only for the money. I can think of many easier ways to make money than by making art. The show is only part of the process and the show within the show is the actual time spent in creative activity. That’s where the drama, the comedy, the tears and the laughter are found. And if we’re very lucky and work hard, that’s where our happy ending lies.

Comments (2) — Categorized under: Creativity,Events,Mary Alexander

Getting Organized, A Fairy Tale

Before

First, a disclaimer. I’m in no way a neat freak. Housework has been on my list of things to be avoided at all cost since I was old enough to know that homes are not self-cleaning. I would use my last dime to pay someone to clean for me and consider it money well spent.  Nevertheless, I hate working in a messy environment. Go figure. I even clean the kitchen and put stray dishes in the dishwasher before I start dinner. Like I said, go figure. So when I started to avoid my sewing studio, I knew exactly what the problem was- it needed cleaning.

Periodically I’d take a deep breath and open the door, determined to bring some order to the space. I would look in horror at the mess, the detritus left by unchecked creativity. Were the heaps of material growing? Did the magazines hurl themselves from the shelves? Jumbled fabric demons with thread hair lurked under my sewing machine and taunted me, hissing, “You’re not the boss of me!”  So I ended up closing the door again, trying not to imagine the fabric scraps dancing with the dust bunnies on the floor.

Things came to a crux two weeks ago. With a deadline looming, I had to get some work done.  But things were so bad in the studio that I could no longer see any of the flat surfaces in the room. And that included the floor. There was no way I could start something new surrounded by such chaos. In desperation, I did what any sane woman would do. I cried. Then I picked up the phone and called for help. Help arrived in the form of a professional organizer named Kathy Needy. She calls herself the DeClutter Doc, but I call her my fairy godmother. When she came to the house for an initial consultation, I must admit I was worried that she might take one look at the place and run screaming from the room. Instead she looked calmly around and said, “This is a beautiful space!” I knew immediately that she was gifted with uncommon vision and the ability to look at something and see not what it was but what it might become.  It was a beautiful space, and Kathy was just the person to help it reach its full potential!

My Fairy Godmother and her assistants

She returned last week with her two lovely assistants, Kristy and Laura, and piles of boxes. They set to work immediately, their movements a ballet of organization. They conquered the huge piles by dividing  them into  multiple smaller piles and then putting them away. They assembled shelving and filled it with my painting supplies, all neatly sorted. They constructed a clever grouping of wire baskets that not only tamed my out-of-control fabric, it gave me another table surface to use. They took the vacuum cleaner out of the closet and chased the dust bunnies and scraps out from under the furniture. They sorted and filed and filled large plastic garbage bags with trash. All I had to do was stand back and watch, occasionally answering questions about the value of one thing or another. It was amazing, it was a miracle, it was magic. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Kathy had pulled out a magic wand and chanted, “Bibbity-bobbity-boo!”

After

By the end of the day, my studio was transformed. Everything was in its place, neatly accessible. My painting supplies had their own place out of the way. My design wall was cleared and ready for work. I could see the floor and no more dust bunnies! The area around my sewing machine was clean and quiet with no hissing demons underneath. Kathy and her crew bounced down the stairs and out of the house leaving behind complete order and the smell of lemon Pledge. I stood in the doorway, surveying my sparkling studio, and made myself a promise. I will never, never go messy again. And as I work happily drawing up designs for new quilts, I know that I can create again thanks to my fairy godmother Kathy Needy, at  DeClutterDoc.com.

Comments (3) — Categorized under: Creativity,Mary Alexander

Nooked

My husband gave me a Nook for Christmas.  Don’t get excited. Although it sounds like something naughty, the Nook is an electronic reader. Marketed by Barnes and Noble Booksellers, the Nook rivals Amazon’s Kindle, but the idea behind both products is the same…the user can hold an entire library in one hand.
The Nook is about 5″ by 8″, weighs a paltry 8oz., and holds 1500 books. I can now travel without the 60 lb. bag of reading material that I consider necessary for a trip of any length. My husband gave up arguing with me about the bag years ago although he almost convinced me by pointing out that I look more like the Hunchback of Notre Dame than the sophisticated traveler I aspire to be. Now I can tuck my Nook into my purse or carry-on bag and have hundreds of books available, including a dictionary and a copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which came pre-loaded for some reason.
Besides the obvious advantage when traveling, the Nook proved invaluable this winter when ice and snow kept me trapped in my house for weeks. From the comfort of my chair pulled up next to the fire, I could browse an entire bookstore, read reviews, check out new releases and order any book that I wanted with the tap of a key. It was delivered to me in minutes with no driving involved and no haunting the mailbox.
Sound too good to be true? There are drawbacks, of course. The Nook doesn’t offer the feel of the traditional book, the scent of fresh ink, the quiet joy of turning the page. The Nook doesn’t curl up in your hand. However, let’s face it. Not all books are archival material. The thought of forests felled to print the latest thriller or romance novel is disturbing.
Another drawback is the price.  Although the books are cheaper, the reader itself is costly. At roughly 250 dollars, it’s a lot to spend for something that can be scratched or broken. Fall asleep in the bathtub, drop the Nook, and neither one of you will ever be the same.
Still, the Nook has a place in the literary world. It’s convenient, conducive to instant gratification, portable, and green! The trend in electronics has been a steady reduction in price as popularity rises, so the Nook will be less pricy in the future. Just don’t fall asleep while reading in the tub.
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