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Friday, September 25


So much to report but the
laptop died. Next week from Friday Harbor. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 16


Eastern Wyoming is infinite. The horizon is unbroken by trees or hills or civilization. You feel that if you walked to the edge you would fall off. Makes you understand why it was once thought the Earth was flat. You can watch rain storms form and fall miles away, as if it was right in front of you.

But you will drive for a hundred miles before a drop falls on your windshield. Yesterday we had a constantly changing reel of rain, clouds, lightning and rainbows. Beautiful and humbling. When we began to see the mountains that gathered around the edges, I felt a sort of relief, a loosening of muscle, as if I had been on guard. I told Russell that this part of the drive would be a nightmare for an agoraphobic.

The rains slowed us down a little bit and so we stopped just short of the Utah border, choosing a cheap, clean HoJo with a ceiling so low I could paint it on tiptoe.

We should get very close to our destination by tonight, Lord willing. Through the edges of Utah and Idaho and finally into Oregon.

So much is waiting for us there.

Tuesday, September 15

husker harvest days

This, apparently, is why the hotels were all booked up on a Monday night. It's all over the local news this morning. I assume it is some sort of farming convention. Russell says if we had known, I could have applied for a booth. Funny guy, huh?

Anyway, what can I say about Nebraska? They have the best rest stops in the country.

Of course, the fact that I was taking potty pictures, sort of says a lot about what there is to see along the Interstate here. I decide to try for artful potty shots :)

The people here are very nice, the sweeping farm vistas are inspiring, the number of radio preachers on the AM dial is a revelation. Pun intended.

This morning we head for Wyoming. I love this part of the trip. The roads suddenly start to rise and fall, the corn gives way to tumbleweeds, mountains appear in the distance, the locals change from John Deere caps to cowboy hats, tractors replaced by horses.

Hmm..John Deere has a jumbotron in their booth this year. The local news guy is pretty excited about it.

The front desk clerk is an aspiring writer. She has been submitting her book of "adult humor" but no takers. The rejection letters have referenced specific passages, so at least she has the comfort of knowing she was read. I wished her luck and encouraged her to persevere. Her eyes filled up. She said it is so important to her.

I want to remember her, the too blond woman in a slightly stained Holiday Inn blazer, a manuscript and her future on a card table somewhere waiting for the interview with Matt Lauer. ("Tell me, Cynthia, why adult humor?") I want to believe her courage and desire will be rewarded and she will never have to work the night shift again.

She says this hotel has the best breakfast in the country. I'm ready. Wyoming waits.

Monday, September 14

new motto

"A journey of 3000 miles begins with 12 rest stops"

Or so it seemed yesterday. We worked until late Saturday...Russell on the house, me in the studio. Sunday morning we finished loading the van, taking care of last minute details, finally hitting the road about 8.

But we were tired. Worn to the bone by the culmination of a busy Summer's work. We stopped at the first rest area...just 25 minutes down the Thruway. Coffee, tea, walk the dog. This was going to be tough.

Quincy was perplexed. We drove and drove and never got the dog park. He was restless and anxious. When he had to pee, he would throw himself on the driver and make odd, almost human groany sounds. He doesn't understand waiting for rest stops. And so we stopped at almost every one. Letting Q zoom, changing drivers, limping along.

Around Cleveland, I said to Russell that this might be an even longer trip than we thought.

But we are almost to Iowa today. All 3 of us rested now. Quincy was entertained most of the morning by a large mirror that came down to his level. He is very intrigued by the puppy with the same squeak toy he has in his mouth. Every so often he puts his nose to the glass and whimpers. At least he has stopped barking at it.

And so we approach the endless part of the journey. Iowa and Nebraska. Pretty places, but the scenery seldom changes. Flat. Farms. Corncorncorn. This is where I usually read aloud to Russell. The iPod transmitter seldom works here, cell phones get better every year but it's iffy.

Onward. The sun is out and it is a beautiful day for corn.

Friday, September 11

what I remember

I remember that all of a sudden the phones all started ringing on every desk. Family members, spouses. Did you hear? Turn on a radio. Sign on to CNN. Planes into skyscrapers in New York.

People wandering cubicle to cubicle, numb expressions, quizzical and edging to panic. The Pentagon. The Pentagon?? Dear God, this is real.

My phone rang again. My son in Colorado. His voice sleepy and vulnerable. Confused. He was 20-ish, grown. Accomplished, Independent. 2 time zones away. It was probably just becoming dawn over the Rockies. "Mom? What's happening? What's happening?" Mothers can feel their childrens' fear over mountains and time zones. My man child awoke to crashing planes and bewildering violence and he called me. He called Mom.

My heart squeezed with love for him, with desire to be with him, to weather this as family. comforting and reassuring each other.

Later, we talked to the rest of the families, learned that one sister was unaccounted for. A sister who sometimes worked in Building 7. All night, as we watched the buildings fall, and fall and fall again, the strange plumes of debris, oddly graceful, cascading, I saw Dorie tumbling in the smoke and ash. Head over heels, like an acrobat. Riding the wave to the ground. We finally got the call late that night that she had spent the day with a friend and had no idea the family was frantic, was actually unaware of the tragedy until a few hours before.

And finally, there were tears. Relief morphed into grief into fear into a sadness too heavy to carry.

There are so many memories of that day, those weeks. But what I will never forget, ever ...

"Mom? What's happening?"

And I had no answer.

Monday, September 7

too many deadlines, so little time

We leave Saturday night/Sunday morning, off to see the children. 2700 miles or so by car. I'm doing a show in Oregon, so we will have a loaded van. Ask me if I'm ready.

Russell is rebuilding the porch, almost by himself. A friend is helping, on and off. It is about half done. We have a painter working on the trim. It needs to be done in the next few days.

I am replenishing my "stock" so I don't have to spend precious vacation time locked in a room with glue and scissors.

I have an order for 120 beaded bookmarks to finish in 2 weeks. I'll work in the car, but the stuff needs to be organized and prepped in order for the car thing to work.

I have not yet planned anything. Usually, by now, I have lists and half-packed bags and a menu for car food. Nothing yet.

I have to pick up Quincy's medical records and a dose of flea/tick goo.

Kinkos cut the paper wrong for my pages, so I have to go buy more and have it re-cut. That means I can't bind any books until wednesday.

Did I mention I'm working this week? All day Tuesday and a few hours for Curtain Up.

Oh, and in a flurry or optimism, I bought 3 tickets for a film at Burchfield Penney on Saturday afternoon.That wouldn't be such a big deal, except that I have decided to have a small yard sale Saturday morning. I've been going to have it all Summer. There are a couple of big things I would like to get rid of because when we get home, we plan to start on the inside of the house and October is an iffy time for a yard sale so it is sort of now or never. I figure I'll schlepp the stuff outside and whatever doesn't get purchased will be moved to the curb.

Maybe I'll just move it to the curb, period.

So, why am I spending precious time blogging? Beats me.

Anyone want 3 tickets to "The Guest of CIndy Sherman"?

Tuesday, September 1

season ends, reflection begins

The Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts is a show I love to do. A few blocks from home, throngs of people, good sales, family friendly and a festive air that puts everyone in a good mood.

This year I asked to be moved because the merchant behind our usual spot has difficulty accepting we are there, blocking her driveway, affecting her business even though she makes a fortune selling goodies on the sidewalk. And she lets you know at every possible moment that you are not welcome. I chose to move out of a shady, protected spot and take my chances away from that kind of negative energy.

So, we got a wind tunnel, no shade and the scenery across from us was the food court.

Loved it.

The merchants behind us were friendly, my chair wasn't tilting on a curb cut. It was good. Was the odd wind pattern a problem? Yeah. But, you know, after the weather we've had this year, I think I could deal with almost anything.

I was a little tense because this show pays for our pilgrimage to see the kids. At noon I was working on accepting the fact that we might have to wait until Spring. But the skies cleared and the people came. At the end of the weekend, my last customer put our sales one dollar over last year, our best year at Elmwood. Phew!

And that brings me to the reflection part. When the season started this Spring, many art carnies were wondering just how bad things would be with the economy and all. My very first show was disappointing and I was concerned. But as the season went on it became apparent to me that the economy wasn't going to be a problem for me. Even with the horrific weather we had all Summer, sales were good. I believe that had we enjoyed sunny skies this year, my sales would have been the best yet.

Why? How is that possible?

I've got a theory. I believe that our upstate NY community has been living with a recession mentality for a long time. Our houses sell at reasonable prices, I don't see a lot of conspicuous consumption. Somehow this area always pegged as one of the poorest, acts like one of the richest when it comes to art and music and festivals and sports.

People come out in droves for Allentown and Elmwood, the hockey and football teams sell out, as do the concerts and the theaters. Come early for Shakespeare in the Park or you'll be watching from the hood of your car. Last week we went to an art museum to see the premeier of a small documentary. They sold out the first show, added another. Then another. And a fourth. And on it goes.

I watched two woman walking behind my booth yesterday. Each carried a metal branch with enameled bells that jingled as they walked. They were laughing and waving the branches, being silly in the cool Summer air. Friends, I thought, out for a day at the fair. I smiled, too.

One of the poorest cities in the nation? Feels like one of the richest to me.