Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Just Wanna Thank You. Thank You.

I know you've got a lot going on, but I just had to drop in and say thanks. So much about you has made me unbelievably happy lately.
It's fall too and that helps with the General Cheer Factor. But, seriously - you are amazing and awesome. You make me smile from a thousand miles away. I remember you.
Thanks for thinking of me - ever. That shit goes a long ways towards keeping me balanced and happy. Thanks for sending me random, unsolicited compliments.
For. REAL.
That probably weighs as much as a back tickle o
n the Emotional Bliss Scale. Every compliment you squeeze my way undoes about 10 unpleasant strangers on the phone.
Thanks for holding me (and you) to standards that extend past mouth-breathing and knuckle-dragging. I expect a lot out of me and you. Thanks for helping keep my disappointment at bay. You do great work.
Thanks for the hugs. These hugs mean business. Life is so freaking short. Find me ANY one single person who couldn't use more hugs. These hugs are making my time here a lot more real and meaningful. You so rock.
Thanks for jacking with me and testing the true limits of my gullibility. I can completely lose track of the time-space continuum when I'm in a project - I will believe most anything. I'm glad you know that and can mess with me relentlessly. You wouldn't really be able to jack with me if you didn't care, right?
Thanks for not telling me things that would be destructive to the delicate Ph balance known as my Sense of Self. You'll never know how cool it is that you don't agree with me when I tell you I'm having a horrible awful bad hair day. Please never agree. Apparently I may never outgrow this flaw in my fabric. I appreciate your devotion to my flawed cause. copyright2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Am Your Grandmother

When I was little, my grandmother (Momo. They were ALL Momos) was a highly revered, sometimes feared and always respected woman of a strong presence.
I am now a grandmother and I don't feel like what I thought my Momo felt like. She was so
old, even then. My Momo scared me and loved well beyond reason. When she wasn't looking she taught me all about Love Letters.
She was, like, Jackie Kennedy's mom old.
She was old.
And, then there
was my mom. She lived through the depression. She grew up in the Strawberry Hill section of Kansas City. She was the daughter of an insurance salesman and a full-time, old-school saint of a mother. More Lace-Curtain Irish than not.
They were Uber-Catholics. Momo played piano by ear and Papa Leo sang with his brothers in a barbershop quartet.
They lived a version of reality that I don't think you could imagine. There were late nights full of 3 part harmony and slamming doors. Screaming sisters and not enough milk.
My mom and all her sisters had their
hair permed by hooking up jumper cables to the chandeliers in the dining room. When somebody got physically broke or tore up, they sent one of the girls across the alley to get the doctor.
This Irish-Catholic Matriarchy is not what I would have ordered off the menu, but - it's what I've got and I'm all about my Momo now.
My Momo probably saved my teeny weeny life
a time or two, but everyone who could validate this has already moved along. I can't go anywhere and research this, but I've been told. She was my Momo.
Now I am a Grandma. A Momo. I don't look like a Momo.
Wow. I so really did not think I'd live this lon
g. There's this deal about being a musician. When you're playing live, you don't ever want to follow somebody who is way way better than you.
The deal about being a Momo is that ....

...well. Damn.

The bar is set so high.

The Momos before me have set precedent.

I'm pretty sure I can.
I'll Google it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

NO sale. No Sale.

One time a long time ago, I was with Bryanmasters (that's just what we always called him) and we went into Zelmans (I think it is, there on Douglas by what used to be Panama Reds.)
It was before a job at Reds and we were just killing time.
We were both talking about how we'd never actually seen anyone shop at that store and admiring the attention to detail that had been paid to the front windows. In 1956. Picked over and thinned out by people we'd never seen buying things we couldn't imagine anybody actually using.
Mrs. Zelman walked up as we were admiring and we asked if we could go in. She looked at us like we had parrots on our heads and said, "Y'nevah buy anything," as she was reaching for her key and unlocking the front door.

Mrs. Zelman is as much a Wichita institution as Century II (or she used to be, I haven't been there much in 10 years or so.) The story I've been told is that she and Mr. Zelman were captives in one of the Nazi camps and she always carried a bar of that soap.
She never drove and always took the bus and walked EVERY where.
For real.
She had to be 83 the night she shadowed us in her store.

She followed us for a good 15 minutes muttering, "Y'nevah gonna buy anything..." Then we'd move on to another item and she'd kinda bark "NO SALE! no sale."
She was relentless. She said "NO sale" like, 36 times in a handful of minutes. This happened for the duration of our visit.

We didn't buy anything simply because we just couldn't justify buying anything (probably.) And we probably had a house full of kids and no money.
Well, that AND she kept saying "NO SALE." I still feel kinda bad about not stimulating her economy.

So, if you're in Wichita and anywhere near downtown AND by some miracle of feistiness Mrs. Zelman is still alive and torturing shoppers - you must go in and buy something.
Then scoot down to the Donut Whole and have a maple-bacon donut or two.
Both of these things will make me feel better.
Go me.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bluegrass Calendar: Monarchs

Up here in the NE corner of the state, it's full-on autumn.
It's gotten down in to the 40s on some nights. And, it's still (really) just the first of September. Down south (Winfield way) it's about time to start seeing the first of the Monarchs that come through as the Fall harbingers.
Blankets. Big orange moons. North breezes.
That smell (what is that smell? I've always imagined it's a special Kansas thing that is the combination of clovers and smooshed grains and soybeans and ripe humans wearing patchoulil and just a hint of skunk. Mmmm skunk.)
One of my first mass-monacrhings came on an adventure down to the Bluegrass Festival, it was probably early September (and yea, probably half a million years ago). I had my first VW bus (the '71 tan and white one with big letters all over it). John Byers (To this day the best and only VW mechanic any human should ever pick for their team) and about 8 other friends in three other VWs were in one caravan headed south for Winfield.
Somebody's car messed up. I can't remember the details which tells me it was probably mine. We all pulled over and a few hundred yards down on a dirt road lined with over-ripe something (it had started to go brown) we stopped and all got out and mingled.
These occasions of cars breaking down when you're in caravan are seen more as social bonding opportunities more than traveling frustrations. We were deciding what to do next, and probably knee-deep in a Safety Meeting when about 38 bazillion Monarchs descended upon us.
I used to have a picture of John Byers, just about two feet away from me, with butterflies on the rims of his glasses and his baseball cap and shoulders.

The world behind him was mostly orange.
You could hear all their bazillions of wings flapping and making a sound that was like a weak, but very healthy, teeny weeny generator...
For real.
I swear this happened.
It's always made me think that this particular time of year means that soon I'll smell camp-fires. I'll sleep where I fall and wake to strangers bringing me coffee and aspirin.
Don't know that I'll be there in person for this year's fiesta, but I know that the Monarchs up here are just starting to come through and it smells fantastic.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Bluegrass Festival Calendar

Every single full moon lately has hopped off the horizon with that neon-orange glow that I have come to expect during harvest. The monarchs are packing their bags and every single shorty I know has a backpack full of cool way wicked awesome new # 2 pencils and Elmer's glue.
The sweet corn has come and gone and the avocados are no longer that good for the eating. The days have gotten shorter. The mornings have the first blush of a nip. For real. Step outside about 5am sometime this week.

I love it when there's a season just
right around the corner.
I get this nutty fine clean energy. Almost autumn and you should know where your socks are.
I love it when it's time to build fires. I love not being able to sleep because they said we were "gonna get a foot of snow."
Way more cool than I can do justice to.

It's almost autumn here.
Almost Bluegrass. My personal calendar has been set to "Bluegrass" for just about 30 years.
Just for the record: I suck as guitarists go, and I'm A-OK with that, I will readily admit it and I'm sorry. I am,
however, probably the most underpaid Cheerleader ever (IN THE HISTORY OF TIME!) (That gross exaggeration tossed in for my kids: To keep it fresh.) I know a million songs and I can fake my way through about another million (IF I haven't indulged in fruity girl drinks prior to playing).
That alone does not a good guitar player make.

All things being equal and
that being said yada yada yada. Who'd a thunk it? It's the coolest place I've ever been in my life and it's, like, a half hour outta Ta-town. yea.
Not Germany or France or Ireland or Scotland. Nope Kansas.
It's an amazing thing to see and experience...
Ooohhh, the things you will see...
The people telling stories to friends they haven't seen in ages. The fire pits dug half way down to China. Food. The food seriously defies description.
First off: There is Everything (I shit you not. I have seen bear, whole pigs, goat, gohpers, snake, fish of every make and model, vegan feasts, psychotropic appetizers. You name it - it's there.)
Second: There is way way more than every one in camp could eat in one night.
Third: Never forget the Karma thang - do unto others, blah blah blah...wash your own eating utensils...

I know you know what I mean. Bring presents. Represent.
I've got some serious freakin callouses on my left fingers, and my timing only sucks
half as much as it used to. And, I do know the entire John Prine library...
I'm jus'sayin.
I feel it coming, I smell fires built of pecan and walnut. And eggs.mmmmm....eggs.....

Too many stories, and you kids need to get to bed before your father gets home. Run along now. I'll tell you more tomorrow...

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I have fully developed my most recent theory,
Theory Number 1503:
Belonging and Why People Are Happier When They're Hanging With Their Posse (or their country or state or band or class or family.)

I've found myself being all proud and patriotic today, since it's Independence day and whatnot. I'm glad to be an American. I believe in the possibilities that come with living here. In
other countries I was called "That American Girl" or "America" and I completely dug it. I was part of something much bigger than just me.
Safety in numbers.
And, yea, I know - I smack talked our elected leaders for the better part of 10 years, but I'm over it. I'm being the Change.

Dial that down a notch, and all over America (as some point in the la
st few years) people who hadn't quite remembered my name would call me "Kansas." I'm fine with that. Kansas is big and generally nice and chill. Sadly, also a little judged by the whole uptight, haaaaard right conservative way it shows up on the radar. I'm okay with that only because I know that is no real indication of my team.
(Kansas being that team - in case I
lost you.)
Look even closer and I'm a musician, an artist and a writer. Oh yea. This could be one of my most favorite places to belong, seriously. This is one huge and constantly growing group of good, alive, diverse, stimulating, over-caffeinated and outside the box people.

In spite of having probably taken them for granted for a bit now, I really need my love bunch. I am related by blood to some of them, and by honor and love to others, but without them I lose my definition. My edges get all blurry and I don't make much eye contact or offer quality hugs. Without this part of who I am, I cease to be who it is that I am.

At the Solstice Party in Kansas City a couple weeks ago I hung with a bunch of people I had never met. Even though I wasn't a due-paying member of their posse, I caught the vibe and had a blast. I belonged there just long enough to remember what it was that I needed.

Then I realized that I've got it.

It's a good day to be me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stella Yellin Non-Get-Alongs

For about as long as I can remember I have attended the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in Winfield, Kansas for most of the months of September.
It's been years now since I attended but I still have a completely romanticized warm and fuzzy feeling about it.
One of my very first years there I came upon a camp of musicians who were in the newspaper industry and from Joplin, Missouri. Among them was a man named Jim Moss.
While most of that festival in particular remains something of a blur, I have been having really vivid memories of the time he shared with me and the key to the John Prine universe that he unlocked.

He taught me a huge chunk of the songs that I'm still playing today.
I can play those songs (and have) with almost anyone, almost anywhere - and I find people to sing along and play amazing leads and share stories, food and drink till well past sunrise.
I don't know where Jim Moss is anymore (although I suspect he's still somewhere near Joplin) and I doubt I'll ever be able to thank him for the gift he gave me ~ But, almost every day I play something that he either taught me or showed me that I could learn and, for that, I'm grateful.

If you are one of the thousands that saves up your precious vacation time for those moments in the Pecan Grove, just yell "Stellllllllllla" for me sometime around 4am and then start singing "That's The Way That The World Goes Round."
I think you've only got about 100 more days to build a plan that involves that request.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Life in The Slow Lane

The town I'm calling home now smells of sweet honeysuckle from one end to the other. I see more tractors and pick-ups every day then I ever see cars. There is absolutely NO ethnic diversity and I think it's reasonable to assume that everyone I meet is related to someone else I've already met.
I have yet to see a kid wearing a helmet or protective gear on their bicycles as they ride down the middle of the "busy" street (busy in this case being defined by the fact that there are TWO whole stop signs.)

I haven't seen this many men sporting mullets since sometime around 1982. On any given night I can walk around and smell fried chicken, roasting brats and the occasional whiff of sulfur from some precipitous bottle rocket fights.

The sum total of today's 18 hours passed like minutes.
We talked about sustainable hardwoods and opportunity costs. We shared stories and took hours to eat half a sandwich.
I thought about all the Twitters I'm keeping, the blogs that are maybe days overdue and the social networks that either do or don't need to be tended to.
I weeded the flower beds and played catch with the Lab. I wrote. I researched. I organized and alphabetized. I made and broke deadlines.
I good vibed my grown children and their partners and babies and dogs.
I offered up little prayers even though I'm no longer a disciple of organized religion.
I talked endless smack to and about my computer.

Today was one of the sweetest slices of magic I've known in a very long time. I laughed and I cried and I laughed till I cried. I'm in love with this life. In spite of knowing that all things will change and there will be some wicked bad days, I'm finally free enough to bliss out completely and love the moments that come and go so freely.
And, in so doing, I'm glad you're here because this moment rocks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Breaking The Rules

I've always been a big fan of breaking the rules.
At some point I chose to say, "Drain the break fluid and drive 100!" instead of "Have fun storming the castle," or "Be careful and call me if you're going to be late."
I've participated in illegal activities since I was able to walk (it was all in the training...years and years of practice)
Today I remembered that my grandfather taught me how to make "Jailhouse Gin" (he spent most of his life, and therefore certainly most of MY life incarcerated in a federal penitentiary) when I was way too young to even know what gin was. That was the same weekend that he taught me how to play poker and run a line across the Missouri river to catch fish so I wouldn't starve to death.
Y'know, priorities were just different back then. We didn't EVER wear helmets or elbow pads when we rode our bikes. My parents smoked Kent cigarettes like fiends in the car while we rode on the back dash all the way up to Topeka every other weekend. They never rolled down the windows.
Ever. NOT once.
My mom told me that the Flint Hills were all just a huge cemetery for giants, buried long before we were born, and that's why the grass was so green and the hills so attractive.

Blood and scabs and ropes and splinters were just a small fraction of the stuff that went into building our character. Almost nobody got busted for anything - from child abuse to tax evasion and felonious contraband.
We all had an errant uncle living with us. Good Catholics went to confession on Saturdays, received communion on Sundays and nobody was gay.
All the phones were rotary dials, the internet was far from even being a twinkle in somebody's eyes and we could go to the drive-in on Saturdays if mom never had to say the words, "Don't make me tell your father about this."
I still refuse to buckle up. I wear cut-offs and go barefoot at work. I smoke this and that (much more of This than That) - and I'm serious: Do you honestly think that Monet could have done what he did...and Kerouac, and Picasso, and Rembrandt, Emerson and William Burroughs ... without breaking the rules? I'm thinking not so much.
It's all a gamble. You never know what's going to happen. In that Dustin Hoffman movie ("Little Big Man") that old Indian said over and over, "It's a good day to die," meaning that he had lived well THAT day and it was all good by him. I think that may well be the way we are supposed to take this: One falling star at a time.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Back to Kansas

I've traveled a few thousand miles to be here. And, here is so fundamentally good and soul restorative I find myself having trouble wrapping my brain around it (much less trying to put it into words).
So rare are the moments when I wasn't able to articulate something (read: I never shut up) a
nd since I've been pretty elusive in my tweets and status updates, I'm going to attempt to bring you up to speed and NOT lose you in the details.
The shortest story I can think of goes like this: A few years ago everybody I knew started to die, within a couple years everybody was gone but my kids and a couple of faithful friends. But, in the three years that it took that holocaust to pass, I'd buried my mom and my dad and more beloved memories than I've ever cared to count.
The best and only response I could come up with was to sell everything I owned (but my guitar, laptop and cell phone) and hit the road. I really didn't care all that much about much at all, and it had become abundantly clear that that which wouldn't just freakin' kill me forgodssake, would just make me stronger.
With a completely unfounded belief that I was unstoppable, I traveled. Then I traveled some more, and a little bit more for good measure.

I've met so many people and seen so many things, that I can only smile a bit and shake my head from side to side.
Seriously. For real.
I think it's imperative that we all step outside our comfort zones, and my adventures have proven that we are all way more resiliant than we think we are.
I a
m a horrible homeless person. I can suck it up and do the stiff upper lip thing as good as (well, technically: MUCH better than) the average bear. But, I simply can't ask anyone for anything. It just kills me. So there was that.
And then recently I remembered that I could write well enough to sell that talent, and not everybody can do that. Some people do algebra, some knit - I write. I did what I've done for 3 years: Craigslist. Long story short, I'm sitting in a 70 year old limestone building in Perry, Kansas. I am now paid to be a Marketing Director.
I can drive the old red Dodge beater truck with a manual transmission. There's a sweet bro
wn lab named Rachel that comes in and I can pet her and throw her sticks.
Out the front door the trains roll by
with certaintity, out the back is the Delaware river (no mamby pamby river either, it's way bigger than the Arkansas.) Go a mile either of the other ways and it's nothing but milo and soy and fields of tart prairie grass. There are a lot of guys on tractors.
If I'm so inclined, Lawrence is just 20 minutes away and there are all kinds of attractive things to be had there.
There is a herd of Red Deer (wh
o look just like Reindeer to me) and they're having babies. I've heard of the sheep, but have yet to see them. Supposedly it's not the best lamb you can eat, but it doesn't suck either. I learned that you can't wrangle deer, you have to trick 'em. That could be fun.
The concern for whom I write is a well-established family business and it reminds me so much of what
I knew and learned to love growing up in a family-run business. I can swear AND take showers here. I have a room and a soft padded place to lay my head at night.
Just up the street is the Perry Bar and Grill where they still allow smoking indoors. On Thursdays they have $5 steak nights. I don't even like steak, but I'm really looking forward to Thursday next - my son and his wife and my perfect grandson are meeting us there for dinner. And, I have never in my life been so grateful to know that I can buy them all dinner.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ode to the Hobo

As far as I can tell, through countless hours of research, there is no definitive line that separates the Hobos from the Homeless. The statistics (which I consider to be somewhat outdated) indicate that on any given night here in America there is between one and two million people sleeping on the streets, in boxes tucked away in alleys and in the drainage ditches available in almost every city in the country.
From my personal research, I've found these misplaced and discarded humans to b
e considerably more generous and beneficent than the average middle-class American. They've given me their last ten or twenty cents and I've returned the favor every time I have any change in my pocket (which, much to my dismay, is not all that often anymore). The times I've felt unsafe have been few and far between.
I am beginning to believe that the disparity between privilege and poverty is most clearly defined by the kindness of those who've known poverty.
Back in the day (the late 1800's) the very first Hobo Convention was held and a code of ethics was developed that still holds true today. I believe the consequences of our economy have increased the homeless/hobo numbers ten fold (at least) and there are now new considerations and symbols.
I am a hobo who travels
with a laptop and a pre-pay cell phone. I have had great success in finding free wireless in every city I have jungled in, thanks to warchalking.In addition to those symbols, there is a whole new set of symbols that make it easier for the modern day hobo to identify safe harbor from danger.
The vagabond lifestyle is not something that I'd wish for my best friend, but it has provided me with an entirely new perspective on our culture and our priorities.
While there are times that I miss owning stuff (clothes, electronics and a cat) there are more times that I am ridiculously grateful to know that I'm not a burden to my children.
Should you see a homeless, humble and dignified person in your path, don't go out of your way to avoid them. Even a smile given freely to someone sitting on a street corner can make a day so much better.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day Eve

This is that night when we set out a plate of cookies and a glass of cold Whole Milk.
If we go to sleep early, she'll show up.... looking like Jackie Kennedy.
Moms all across America are thinking they will get roses or breakfast in bed or a phone call.
Maybe chocolate... maybe beer.
I miss my mom.
Almost every single day.
She was all that and more.
Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday Night Secret

Well Hi boys and girls. Welcome back.
Shut th'door, you're gonna let in the flies.

It's been an eventful and adventurous week.
Wow. How I've missed you.

Man. Lets bake some brownies.
Most relevant discovery of this week is that when I get sick I turn into at least 4 of the 7 Contemporary Dwarves:
Pissy, Crabby, Cranky and Weepy.
Yea. My four least favorite dwarves.
I guess that's a good thing to know.
And, now I have that.
OH yea! and, I have absolute proof that, indeed, the best laid plans of mice and men (blah blah blah). Insert unreasonably long diatribe here for yourself. I'm exercising discipline and practicing the "Just Shut Up" approach. But, c'mon. Seriously?
And, the last thought for the night is this: how could it possibly be that expectations are just premeditated resentments? I've heard that often, and am just curious about how this works?
I mean, I think living with no expectations somehow devalues your personal investment in your own well-being.
Just a thought. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Other than that, lots of action, adventure, no police activity no injuries.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I have a vision.
One day soon I see me on a train headed south then east then really far north then maybe back south again. And, possibly west and then south.
As luck would have it, I've (yet freakin again) acquired more
stuff than I can or would want to carry with me.
And, I could use a bone or two so I'm posting everything on Craigslist and selling what I can (Freecycling the rest).
My capacity for finding cool stuff is legendary and this would be a great time to reap the benefits of my amazing cool-osity radar.
The pictures here don't represent everything (by a long shot) so email
me if you want to see anything/everything else. My favorite thing in the world would go like this: You know some young person that's getting their first apartment. You know you're gonna go spread some benjamins around Target. You want a random collection of eclectic crap to make it feel more homey.
u offer me one BILLION dollars for the lot.
So maybe the one billion part was too aggressive.
But, you get where I'm going with this.
Get your cool on now while the economy has driven down the prices! And, as usual: Thanks!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What in The World's Been Going On.

Notes from the road. Saturday night April 18th, 2009 7pm-ish Amtrak Train from Galesburg to Union Staion: $15 One really cold Heineken: $6.00 Lost seeing eye glasses but found money: Priceless
I took a gamble with a slightly
risky traveling adventure this weekend. I don’t have clearance to fully divulge the many layers of risk involved, but I am happy to report that this micro-adventure went really well. The important things I learned on this journey are (in no particular order) that, first and foremost, the Quad-City area in Illinois right up against the Mississippi separating it from Iowa is one sweet little town-opolis. It’s got hills and ravines, great deciduous and evergreen trees and some pretty stunning turn-of-the-century architecture. Lot’s of Arts & Crafts… Frank Lloyd Wright inspirations….
I left Chicago with about $1.20 in my pocket and a pretty solid belief that I would truly be met at the train station as planned. But, just to keep it fresh for the kids, I’d already been gone from the home of my phone charger for a couple days and my phone died. I’ve got plenty of minutes, just no way to power it up. And, sure, I could go buy additional CHARGER NUMBER freaking 9 (or something) for this year, but I refuse to continue being a victim to my own carelessness. I’m not going to ever buy another charger. I’m going to find something, somewhere online where the charger impaired of my species help each other out.
Ah, but I digress…
Traveling with no money and no phone is probably about as risky today as running with scissors while blind-folded was when I was a kid. It’s just not a prudent move.
I remember The Olden Days (before we all had cell phones and wifi and whatnot) a
nd we seemed to do just fine.
I am my grandmother.

And my mother. Damn.

This train ride is, like, the 40th awesome train ride I’ve had in a couple years. When all the stars are aligned I appear to have a super power that involves talking to somebody and really enjoying it for hours. It makes the journeys go fast, and I’ve met some seriously amazing and curious and interesting humans.
Yesterday it was Glenn. Not a tiny guy who’s taken care of a fleet of school bu
ses and driven kids around for 7 years. He a dyed-in-the-wool Chicago boy. He has a deal for trains and trips and adventures. He’s spent way too much time in a dark room developing real film, shooting SLRs and helping nurse a resurgence in film photography.
But, even more interestingly to me, he’s doing this project with his cell phone camera. He’s got a number of shots that I saw and they were so distinct. I really want to see what can be done with those with Photoshop on a Mac. I want to see what they look like very large with no treatments whatsoever. I’m just very curious about the whole deal no

I’m insatiably curious. I know a guy who got hit by lightening TWICE! (Not just once, but TWICE!) I’ve met a guy who was Bernie Mac’s cousin and another guy who was a tour manager for Poison but he somehow got swindled out of all his money by some crooked schmuck in the entertainment industry. He was in absolute need of a straight-up kiss from the Tooth Replacement Fairy. Looking for a little dental love, but a nice enough guy.

I met this older couple who were just traveling all over the country (and the UK) by train because he had just retired and had a massive heart attack and almost died, so now they’re just kickin it … all moon-eyed and spoony and together on adventures across everywhere.

Then there’s this one really great kid I met from Brooklyn. He is an artist and poet. He published his own book of his poems. They didn’t suck at all. He was only, like, 22 years old. He lived in one of those high-rise tenements with his parents, siblings and a couple grandparents - in a two bedroom apartment. He had a great smile. I suspect some delicious things are headed his way.

I’ve learned all about mechanical and electrical and diesel and survivalist and technical and virtual and mythological and historical and political and religious and psycho and geographical things I never would know about if I hadn’t embarked on this adventure.

I've heard of elderly blind golfers, short order cooks and little people traveling via luggage.
A risk that I can actually share with you about now is this: For the first time in about 4 years I have opened myself up to the possibility of living longer than another hour or so. Yea. I know. Sounds dramatic. I’m dramatic. But, I’ve got great legs and seriously blue eyes. So, cope. Everything is a compromise. At least I’m not Goat-Faced or the infamous Angry-Stupid combination.
I’ve gone out on a limb and made friends.
Now I’m on the Metra that takes me to Elmhurst. It’s like a quarter till one. a.m. Long freaking day. But, this train is completely choked full to the brim with moderately drunk and exceptionally rowdy sports fans. There’s lots of whooping and hollering. Everybody has on some kind of sports related shirt. Not me so much. But, I do have on a shirt and I’m pretty sure there were points awarded for that.
Y’know, at this point, even I thought that I’d probably busted a move on all the adventure one human could sweep into one night.
But…noooooooo. Not so much.

The train ride from Union to Elmhurst was free for me. I have no idea why, but the conducter wouldn’t take my money. I saw him accept other people’s money, but not mine. I didn’t take it personally.
I get off the train in Elmhurst around 1:15am and immediately took the first of many really wrong turns that I could possibly take. Shortly followed up by the next, and definitely the most tragic of bad turns. By this time I’ve gotten a little crabby and tired - therefore making it almost impossible for me to doubt my journey OR ask for directions.
At about the point where I realize I’ve walked in the same circle roughly 4 times I decide to start crying because it goes so well with the rain. I was feeling a little trapped, learning and navigationally disabled and freakin exhausted. And, in spite of the relative light weight of my purse and laptop - I’m pretty sure the combined load has ruptured most of the discs in my back.
I’m standing in the rain, worrying about my electronics and considering downtown store fronts to sleep in when I look over and see a taxi car guy with his son. They were listening to what I believed to be Iraqi American Idol music. He opens his window and I pull out my best Most Pathetic Emmy Nomination just to get him to use his GPS and point me in the right direction. He suggests giving me a ride, what with him being a taxi driver and all, and I explain that I’ve only got $5. Not one cent more, just five little American dollars. But, I saw on the GPS that I would only need to go a little over a half mile. And, at that point in the night I was fairly certain even one more half mile would have killed me dead. So, he agrees to take me home for $5 and we ROCK the Kasbah with whatever ethnic music his car provides. I get back to Liz’s around 3am.
The door is locked. The other door is locked.
And, yes, you guessed it: The final and only other door is locked.
It really made me wish that I had taken my brother up on his most generous offer to tutor me in picking locks. I so clearly remember thinking then, “Why, in Godsgood name, would I ever need to know how to pick a lock?!?!”

By 3:20ish I decide that it’s just going to be an outdoor night for me. It wasn’t freezing, I had some wind protection and more than life itself: I did NOT want to wake anybody in the house. I also had my wifi and Hulu so I could watch any number of mind-numbing TV shows I’ve grown addicted to.
About 10 minutes after my complete acceptance and okey-dokeyness with my current state of affairs I hear a man saying, “Don’t be afraid. I’m so sorry. I’m lost. Look, I’ll keep my hands up in the air. I mean you no harm.” He was lost. In the rain. At almost 4 in the morning. And, he was about 15 feet away at the edge of the yard in Elmhurst where NOBODY talks to ANYBODY.
And, he just really needed me to Google Map his university so he could go there and sleep in a bed till sometime after noon. Google Maps almost never fails me and within minutes we discover that he’s only about 15 minutes away from where he needed to be. But, he’s so grateful to have found me (awake, on a porch, surfing the net with high-speed and just as chatty as I have always been) he offers to buy me some kind of after midnight fast food. I’m not really hungry and my feet are killing me from my walk of Lost Obstinacy but he’s a really good kid and we immediately strike up sparky conversation about chemistry, nutrition and the current (and hopeful) state of American politics.
By this time, it’s no longer raining whole drops, just little smatterings of drizzle and it’s not cold for the first time in about 6 months.
We never did find any kind of fast food open at 4 in the morning, which was something of a surprise, but we did sit on the porch and talk till almost 6:30 and sunrise. Then we both got the cold that comes from it being a little chilly and a lot tired, and he took off in the right direction and moments later Liz opens the door and lets me in to the place where it’s warm and has coffee.
Jeff is the name of the after 4am guy and I didn’t get his contact information, (he’s going to Elmhurst College and his dad teaches at Wisconsin State I think) so if you see him - tell him to drop into my face book or something. He’s good people.
And, brings my total for really good people (met for the first time) in a 24 hour period to 6. Six people, 24 hours, all goodness and great ideas. There. Now I told you all about it. I know I should sleep soon and long.
And, it's your turn to tell me a story now. XOXO

Thursday, April 16, 2009


The Fridge Project is way more than I would have expected.
Everybody has one.
You ought to send me yours.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Fridge by Any Other Name, is Still A Fridge

This is my equivalent of a fridge door. it's not so much a fridge, but it is all the stuff that would be on it if I had one.
This is just to confirm a theory. Or, many theories - as luck would have it.
1) It's entirely impossible that I am the only person in the world interested in fridge door art. While it would suck out loud to be such a dreamer, I think I'd still sleep nights.
2) It could just be too personal. I have received correspondence that was just striaght-up crabby. I let myself feel a ittle guilty for my open refrigerator voyeurism. Dude. My bad. I have always just thought it cool to look at people's fridge doors. I'm inlcined to tell the haters that if they don't like it so much, just say nothing at all. Don't look. Stay out of the kitchen.
3) I admit to having alterior motives. I think that a great many people are voyeurs at heart and really enjoy renting space in other's peoples' heads. I certainly can't be the only one. Seriously? C'mon. For real.
I'm making connections with creatives in other countries. I have a dream.... One day.... Obama will appoint some kind of cultural Secretary General....
If we all take pictures of our fridges, one person at a time - we CAN make a dfferece.
Just do this, I think it's going to work. Think outside the triangle.
And, I mean Please. And Than you.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


It's been just a minute or two since I was all up in my Fridge Door Project. If you're one of the 5 people who drop in here with some regularity, mea culpa mea culpa. I'm off the road and ready to resume. Here's what I know: If I could track the progression of tweets and facebook/myspace updates that contained some reference to my project I would no doubt be pleased and amused. Short of that I can only pass on my gratitude to everybody who has chosen to partake in this social research project (and completely self-serving slice of voyeurism).
What follows are the most recent batch of fridge doors with what ever narrative I either received or have chosen to share.
I really like this one. It makes me think of re-incanration and Picasso. I would encourage these owners to nurture that artist in kids clothes.
This one is from Canada. David Stephens from Nova Scotia. He does some amazing art and offers the most thoughtful and funny and entertaining fb links. ever.
This one belongs to Katie. She's in Beijing teaching English to little Chinese children. Very minimalist - in and out. I think that is Sake on top, I think I need to research this one in person.
Please send a picture of your fridge door to

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Million LIttle Kisses

Not A Million Little Pieces.
Not A Million Little Fridges.
I'm just going to blog about what's happening ...
... about right now.
My sister has 4 boys and a husband. Fortunately her husband doesn't offer kisses (That would be WAY too weird) but he did get me two Krispy Kreme donuts recently - and that demonstrates his love for me.
I am Aunt Moses. I can whistle like a first-baseman and order everyone to help with chores. When I do, nobody argues with me. I can put 'em in Time Out and they cry quietly instead of screaming. I can explain all the finer details of chores and not even get so much as an eye ball rolling.
I'm gearing up for a Family Meeting wherein I tell ALL the boys in this house that they have to help their mama more. The big boys are old enough to do just about anything, and the babies need good role models. Meagan is about to take job number three and is going to need some serious cooperation with NO flack.
Ferrreal. NO flack.
I love this chaos. I love kids and dogs and the smell of home-made stuff in the oven. I love folding laundry and doing dishes.
Meagan just now told me and Julie (our most recently adopted family member) that this environment will make you appreciate your "Me Time."
For the last two years, I've said that this is where I'd film the indie called "Birth Control".
I'm pretty sure my sister does about 200 pounds of laundry every week. She touches and cooks up roughly 20 pounds of meat and more veggies than I've even considered. She is up at the crack of dawn and doesn't even get to drink her coffee in peace. She has to go to the bathroom with the door open because she knows that some shit IS absolutely going to hit the fan during the three minutes it takes to go.
The million little kisses that I get here in Colorado can't be beat by anything anywhere. And, in spite of this being Chaos Central - I would gladly take this any day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


So, it's become abundantly clear that I'm not going to update this thing, like, everyday.
(I'm always so ambitious right out of the gate.)
But, on the upside, I am getting plenty of submissions to keep this rolling for a while. Please tell everybody you know to play along.
There is all kinds of fun to be had.
So yea - this IS my grandson. But, seriously. He is so cute and I really like the perspective. I'm hoping this will make you want to "Think outside the box" (to use a totally exhausted colloquialism ~ is it a colloquialism or just a cliche? ~)
The following fridge lives in New York City and makes me think about editors and people who love their animals. I get that on so many levels. It also makes me wonder just how long Cheryl and Lyle Lovett have been together.

Kansas City is a good place for Barbeque and a better place to consider what's inside AND on top of the fridge. (since I've so very rarely even seen the top of a fridge, I'm very curious now.)
Please send your inclusions to: mo
Thank you so very much.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fridge Doors Commentary

The response to my Fridge Door project has been amazing. I will continue to support the Internet and all word-of-mouth promotions that have helped build this empire ~ Thanks for all the bytes and words!
There are so many layers to this study and if I were in the mood to get another degree, I'd be all over this. However, this post is just something to get some feedback, maybe generate some dialog... on the thought processes that go into creating the ambient art known as the Fridge Door.
I've researched it way more than is reasonable and come up with nothing. I got nothing here, seriously? My first thought is that, surely, I cannot be the first person to think of this.
I keep hitting brick walls, no good information.
So, I've built a presence on facebook and would love it if you could drop in. I've got coffee on, and some day-old scones. We'll just hang and chat while I transcribe huge parts of our conversation into content on my laptop.
Seriously. It's warm here, there's no reason not to come by.
We'll do research, tell stories.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fridge Door Project. 4th Post

In case you just got to the table, I'm doing a project on fridge doors. Like snowflakes, no two are alike.
Visit often, leave feedback if you drop in. I'm researching the psychology behind the door...Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
I would very much appreciate it if you could take a digital picture of yours for me and maybe tell me a little something about it. Whatever you'd feel like sharing with the class would be sweet.This one belongs to Mike Manley (an artist currently in PA.) He confirms my premature, but solid, belief that artists and writers have the coolest stuff. Artists who are also writers are off the chart.
So far, anyway.
Send me yours...

Please pass the word around - I'd love to see your fridge.
email images and any copy to:


Friday, March 6, 2009

The Fridge Project: Day Three

A teacher I know opens this fridge every day. There may be a beer in there and in Tulsa you can go to a drive-through liquor store and the dirt is red.
This is one neat and tidy kitchen and the minimalist approach to refrigerator adornment.
The fridge in Kansas where someone (namely: Christina) just got accepted into the Masters Program at The University of Kansas and they love their Pugs.
The story is this: I'm beginning a project (like Post Secret) - just with fridge doors.
I appreciate everyone who has sent me theirs so far, and would encourage you to do the same and encourage everyone you know to do it too.

Always carry a camera. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fridge Door Blog. Oh yea.

This fridge lives in North Carolina, the Tri-City area. The owners may have Kansas ties - as they have the Wicked Witch on there. I see international travel, siblings (perhaps), Wooly Willy (who personally saved my life in the waiting room at the doctor's office when I was 6), Girl Scouts, babies and a fairly conservative approach to Fridge Art.

This fridge has real estate in a totally cool apartment in downtown Elmhurst (Chicago-ish) and is that killer shade of Avocado. I love when the family is all over the front.
This one is in Lawrence, Kansas and most resembles what happens in my homes to our fridges. Danger and his family know how to do it up. Word.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Reality Fridge 1.0

Everybody has one.
What does yours look like?
Think "Post Secret" in the kitchen.
There are those who do
And those who don't.
Is there anything on your fridge?
I'm thinking you should share with the class.
What's on your fridge?
Please forward to or or However you like it. Thanks!!! XOXO

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Felix Oliver Mueller

This is my grandson, Felix Oliver Mueller. He was born almost one year ago (March 2nd, 2008) and he lives in Kansas (which is a pretty long ways away from me right now).
I built a pretty cool little video, BUT I failed to contact They Might Be Giants to make sure it was okay to use one of their songs for background music AND therefore it got yanked from facebook for copyright violations.
So, in lieu of that, to celebrate his one year on the planet, I'm blogging him with pictures.
He cut his two top teeth today and he says mom and dad. Soon he will say "Momo" and want to watch Pinky and The Brain (maybe some old Tick reruns).
The world is a much finer place by virtue of this little man and his parents and I'm hoping he knows that I'm in his pocket on his birthday - whether I'm there in person or not.