Friday, September 30, 2011


Poster/Lee's Summit High School, Lee's Summit, MO

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crying: for many reasons or no reason at all

Stampington & Co. image, M. Kelly.

Back to high school music, back to the oddities that loop through my brain. When I found the Everlys, young and harmonizing on Ed Sullivan in their Marine Corps uniforms, well. Even if there hadn't been a crying theme, I had to invite them over. Regardless of the lyrics, the sentiment today is not loss, nor heartache, nor being a fool.

Sometimes we cry with relief, when a great wrong has been righted, when a long-awaited solution appears. We weep with gladness at weddings, births, events of intense, overwhelming happiness. We cry for reasons we cannot name but know the tears do not represent sadness. We cry because we can, because we have a language that transcends words, heart language. Once upon a time, ladies carried hankies tucked into their sleeves, at least the ones I knew did. This is a day of promise, a day for doing the dance of joy and I believe I will just have myself a cry. Meanwhile, the Everly Brothers have something to say. I couldn't think of a song about crying in quiet gratitude.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Samples, just a few samples

Eraser-carved stamps, original, copyrighted work by Marylinn Kelly, stamped with Kaleidacolor rainbow ink pads.

The samples shown are my original designs, copyright protected.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Somewhere, near a river in Egypt...

Felted crocodile by Kerry O'Gorman.

Her name is Masika, created by Kerry O'Gorman whose profile page you need to visit to see her picture of Mole and Ratty, of Wind in the Willows fame, sharing tea and animated conversation. This is the link to Kerry's blog...please linger and soak up her photography of British Columbia, then click on her etsy site and learn more about Masika; learn enough to cause you to click that PayPal button and call her home. Last Christmas my gift to myself was a wee elf named Frode, one of five, I believe they are brothers, smaller than a golf ball, full of magic and ancient intelligence, more of Kerry's enchanting wool felting. Discovering Ratty and Mole, their enduring friendship, absolutely made my week. There are those among us who say, "Step away from the computer. Go do something real." And miss all this? Are you mad?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Who will speak?

Rubbermoon image with color pencil.  Not currently in catalog.

Today I may have a new aspiration: to become a Professional Stink-maker. Can you see the buisness cards?

I learned advocacy when my mother went through heart surgery 23 years ago. Following what was diagnosed as a transient ischemic attack, she was admitted from the ER to the closest our neighborhood hospital had to an Intensive Care Unit. Not all that close.

She soon began hallucinating, which I learned in the middle of the night when they called and told me someone would have to come and stay with her in the room. Not one professional on duty was willing to take that assignment. My training had begun. I don't think I've ever been without a notepad or pen since. You never know when it will be necessary to document or quote or preserve essential facts.

Diminishing health is not the only reason behind a reluctance to confront. Many of us are simply too battle-scarred, too weary for the toe-to-toe combat needed to see our rights protected. Years ago, a friend whose job was as a court advocate for children in the foster care system suggested that to me as a career option. And at that time I felt I was too leaky a vessel to speak convincingly for any child whose trauma and abuse were likely more horrifying than my own; my skin was impossibly thin.

The aftermath of my son's illness required putting on my step-up suit again. Eventually we were strengthened by a lawyer on the front line to help secure benefits, since a civilian, even a persistent one, can only achieve so much. Today I was reminded how thick the underbrush has grown, like briars around a fairy tale castle, to keep as many of us as possible separated from what is our due as aged or disabled, in financial distress or without resources of varying descriptions.

Whether you believe in astrology or not, Aquarians, myself among them, are the zodiac's champions of the underdog. I feel the need acutely to see justice, or simple fair play, prevail. Good luck with that, right? But even in my state of limited mobility, tucked back into my reclusive and daydreaming tendencies, I have a voice, I have words and I still possess a bit of fire. As a teenager, I admired Upton Sinclair - all the more when I learned he had run for governor of California as a Socialist - and believed in muck-raking, fuss-raising, stink-making. Not on my behalf but for others.

We don't even need to explore tasks assumed during the Vietnam war. I am one of those who knew we were seeing a revolution. While visions of torches and pitchforks have faded, the awareness remains that many of our brethren would benefit from a reasonably sane, decidedly insistent voice speaking for them. There are times when thinking the call might be for me makes me cranky, but I turn my head with the secret smile, for it feels good, the chance to be of service.

This may be merely today's fancy, especially the conjured vision of business cards, or there may exist a niche in the bureaucratic maze for a creature with my specific combination of pluses and minuses; I am not afraid to look a fool, actually posses a minor talent for diplomacy and can be found, loitering at the station for the good outcome to arrive, when everyone else has gone home. At the very least it is something new to ponder. I wondered how I was going to fill all those idle hours.

Monday, September 19, 2011

On Raglan Road

We are fortunate in living across from our town's high school, a school so known for its music and scholastic achievements that families move to our town so their children may have the benefit of a superior public education. Then, as the sons and daughters go off to college, the adults return to their homes, often in other countries.

The marching band practices at least twice a week, that we hear, beginning well before the start of the fall semester. Before football games they smooth out any imperfections in their best numbers. As the team is the Tigers, I'll let you guess what spirited song is their rallying tune.

This Saturday morning, as we could hear a soccer game in the background, the sound of a single bagpipe - something new - floated to us between apartment buildings. Then it was joined by others and my son, who can stretch himself to see the campus better than I, reported a group in full regalia. They did not need warming up for very long and I forget, at this moment, their first selection.

Ah, but the second, easily recognized and unforgettable, was On Raglan Road, based on the poem by Patrick Kavanaugh, the source material introduced by a dear friend for whom Monday is not going as might be hoped. With her in heart and mind, I offer two versions of the work. While its gist expresses loss, the beauty of the poem and the music it became are worth holding close. (My blog format cuts off some of the lines on the spoken-word video. I don't know how to change that.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Falling back on what works

Shy suitor, remorseful friend, low-key celebrator of diverse tidings, he was raised well and does not arrive empty-handed.

What to bring, what to send, what to say...I think some among us have an intuitive gift for comfort, encouragement, support, a true form of grace under fire. I say bring love. We can get squirmy, judge a sentiment as inappropriate, get knotted up in our own shyness or discomfort, but the truth of it is, what works is love.

A kind word, a cookie, time to listen, a hug. We forget how much we have to offer. The eloquent bouquet or the last summer flower from your garden, bring it. Say what is in your heart. Laugh or weep or both. Show up and be you, the real you. No matter what, do it, speak it. This may well be your turn to be the last ray of light in the world. Go.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Portion of a page from journal fiction.

In the 1980s, I was part of two (well, really three) different fiction workshops and because of that was motivated to write fiction every week. For the first group, which held together for about a year and a half, we had assignments and I used that as the weekly task.

There were also in-class exercises and reading aloud, something which I had never done. Finding that my voice gave further dimension to my voice transformed my view of self. Reading my work made me happy. It still does. A wall slid away and someone I had not known was there stepped forward.

With each day measured in finite hours and myself no longer - if I ever was - seen as any version of a dynamo, I find limits of time, focus and energy, versus the list of what might become real by my hands, frustrating. I do my best to think in reasonable compartments, yet the past few nights when I woke up, instead of just going back to sleep, I turned on the light, found my glasses and drew. This is not time stretching to accommodate my needs, I realize. I will called upon for a payback later in the day when I fall asleep like a narcoleptic at the computer.

Life as a bento box: in theory, a portion of fiction, non-fiction, correspondence, conversation, chores (though truthfully, with the exception of cooking this finishes a distant last to all other options), aspects of art, time spent with my son. Yet if I set a timer for, say, writing a blog post, the bell would ding and I'd either hear it and wonder what it was or it would whistle past like a night train as I slept.

Slow, I feel that I am slow, yet also know that the wish to achieve renewed goals, to breathe life into more of my ideas, tugs at me like an impatient child. "You promised..." she says, pulling my hand. What I know that she does not is that life drives this car, not I. The bigger picture, the broader agenda, things happen as they do. The same unseen conductor who summons me and what I hope I possess has also set the pace. For now, I am a very old tortoise with just the one speed. But trust that my mind is spinning, or at least whirring, with each jolting yet firm step.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Still know all the words

Yesterday's mail brought the official registration form for Pasadena High School, Class of 1962 Reunion a year from now. Among the many questions - will we be refused admittance if we fail to answer? - is a line that asks, Songs, Groups? May I have a second sheet, please?

Today's stamp illustration called one favorite, certainly one favorite singer, to mind: Sam Cooke. If I start on the list now, I may be done in time for my early registration in November. Will you find something today to call wonderful? I promise to do the same.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Birthday card

Even though her September 14 birthday was always squeezed up close to the first day of school, my sister Laurie never wanted for friends, old or new, to invite to the party. Being the only child who did not have a winter birthday, her parties could be held outdoors; in the patio or, in the case of a remembered pony ride (it was a long driveway) in the front yard. Our three tortoises enjoyed the patio gatherings and became curiously fond of strawberry ice cream.

Happy Birthday, dear Laurie. Here is to your best year ever.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Be happy in your work

There is an ever-shrinking chamber of mind that still carries doubt and dread. It is where the notion of life as a balancing act resides. However, there are other rooms that house contrary notions and when my hand draws, these opposing factions try to occupy the same space. With no conscious intention, FishHatUnicycleBoy appeared to embody this conflict: yes, it is a teetering ride and isn't it a lark, being fully foolish as we pedal?

Saturday, September 10, 2011


The word carapace visited me yesterday. It stirred the image of a greeting card found, purchased in multiples, more than 20 years ago. I wondered if I could summon the illustration via Google. Then in another reading today, carapace, sly creature, appeared again. That the word was also used in reference to the painting, once I found it, tells me I am onto something. The only question is, what?

The blog site at which I found the carapace work, Yvette's in so many words... would keep me fascinated and linking for hours, probably days. So many favorites, such a kindred spirit. Here is her link to the Sept. 10 post, equally illuminated and illuminating. And a clue: Chinese lanterns and vintage detectives. With grateful thanks to Yvette at in so many words... Do, please visit and leave a comment.

Image by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale from The Book of Old Songs and Ballads. The knight's armor looks like some strange carapace, doesn't it? The painting is an odd mix of the ominous and the innocent.

The British artist Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale (1872 -1945), though born a bit late, was a Pre-Raphaelite painter known for her luscious use of color. She was also, as you can see a brilliant designer. Her paintings tended towards the allegorical and the medieval in subject matter. Later in her life she also turned to working in stained glass.

Primarily I'm drawn to these paintings by the way Brickdale uses color. It's interesting to me that she manages to use such a bright spectrum yet her work though hardly subtle, somehow, remains fairly soft-spoken.

I'm fond of Victorian painting with all its rich detail, especially when it's this colorful and full of story telling.

To read more about Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale please go to these other blogs and pages:

Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood and Victorian/Edwardian Paintings.

(Painting, text, research and appropriate links courtesy of Yvette at in so many words...)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Angels incognito (and you know who you are)

This dolly with the linebacker neck - which I hadn't noticed, or so I tell myself - is a vintage Rubbermoon stamp image. She sprang then, and reappears now, as a reminder that blessings arrive in disguises that would scandalize Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. As I remember the details, her original inspiration was a borderline enraged air conditioner repairman with zero people skills who woke me up to...something. Incognito, duh.

Sometimes we have the glad assignment of being the instrument; sometimes we are chosen to receive the gift. In either role, we, often without knowing, breathe life into hope, participate in and bear witness to the miraculous, the impossible.

Today I dedicate this abbreviated post with its muscular angel, and if I am allowed angels, I sure as hell hope they continue to be muscular by some definition, to a friend who appeared with spools of ribbon and shelves of poetry to expand my knowledge, enrich my life. It is not her natal birthday but if I had the necessary volumes of arcana, I bet they would tell me that today is her name day, her saint's day, her Botticelli's Venus rising from the sea day.

I would be the first to demur any likelihood of my own role as gift, yet I have been told such is the case by those I trust. In mismatched tops and bottoms, crunky hair and drooping eye pouches that suggest post-Civil War carpetbaggers, I apparently possess not only the possibility of being a camouflaged fairy godparent, you AND I absolutely ARE those rare, fluttery, benevolent presences to each other.

Look not askance at whatever crosses your line of sight today. Be attuned to the most hushed and coded whisperings of the unseen. Embrace what may seem unlikely and pay attention, with suspended disbelief, when it seems your most immediate wish has been granted.

We, angels one and all, might be well advised to organize, develop secret Masonic-style handshakes (oops, have I said too much?), bear some identifying lapel flower or carry a folded copy of Rolling Stone (Annie Leibovitz cover) in order to know who-is-who without a lot of dithering about.

But that would remove some of the luscious mystery, wouldn't it? And besides, with the key phrase "pay attention" in mind, we already know, we always know.

As I've written before, like seeks like; like finds like. The universe is one vast network of matchmakers, only, unlike some questionable on-line services, the universe gets it right. We are, at least in my case in utter imperfection, introduced to each other at the perfect moment, with the supreme extra bonus prize of having the rest of our days to celebrate, to bask in, our extraordinary good fortune.

Monday, September 5, 2011

If dreams were lightning...

Just saying, I will never weary of John Prine. Hope the same is true for you.

Following the morning of The Snap (see previous post), Sunday arrived with clouds and rounded out the late afternoon with a bruise-colored sky, thunder and lightning.

Los Angeles can go, I have no doubt, years without a thunder storm. This one was strange for having given forecasters the slip, for arriving in early September and stranger still for being dry. When the pyrotechnics were over and it was fully dark, then we had some rain.

Not every dark cloud that drifts across my sun is invited to these posts. It is just not my way. Those are not, or not yet, the stories I come here to tell. It was synchronicity, as I understand it, being true to itself that sent discordant. curious, anomalous weather, big and loud, breezy and chilly enough for me to notice so I could write about order displaced. Maybe someone has a quote somewhere that tells us, when saying what is true is too alarming, write about the unpredictability of nature.

Worry is time and energy ill-spent; it makes us sick and that is all it accomplishes. Every day I peel worry off like nail polish, which I really cannot wear without becoming a 10-year-old but that doesn't keep me from stockpiling it in the make-up drawer. I might mature.

Worry used seem like a tattoo, a spreading birthmark from which I thought I'd never be free. Some things, when practiced, become easier. If I can unlearn worry, perhaps one day I will play a stringed instrument, a ukelele if not a mandolin. Impossible things happen.

I will pay attention when weather speaks to me, trusting it has just offered itself to stand it for truths that still seem beyond my reach or capability. Or it may be the tool for augering, hinting at favorable outcomes or reminding me that sometimes a cloud is just a cloud.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Weather wonder

Cropped version of Cheryl Lunde's photo "Sunset at Ventura Beach," a look at Autumn, California-style. Link.

My sister, a Californian for 37 years, with brief time-out to attend college in Seattle, has a theory about the arrival of Fall in this sunny land. Even with the past 23 years spent mostly on the East Coast, she remembered and boiled the shift of our seasons down to two words: the snap.

The (captial T, capital S) Snap, as I'll call it, happens one morning when those of us who wondered if we'd ever want to see a sweatshirt again wake up and know something is different. We shiver in our tank tops, or even ordinary tee shirts. There is the mildest bite to the air. The digital temperature on the clock above the computer registers somewhere below 73 degrees at 6 a.m. It happened today.

In my memory, there has never been a hint of The Snap earlier than mid-October, and usually later than that. For even a faux, teasing snap (and there has never been such a creature) to arrive on September 3 is unprecedented. Our school used to start around the middle of September and all those new, heavy, frequently itchy clothes had to stay in the closet for ages. Some years, September is the hottest month.

I did not dream or imagine it this morning. It was not the marine layer as our tv newscasters have taken to calling ordinary fog, for in South Pasadena the sky was clear. And there WAS snappy air wafting through the open windows. Pasadena's Sunday forecast, somewhat warmer, generally, than our small town to the south, calls for a high of 94. Nothing cool about that. But as I gathered evidence to support my own personal barometer, downtown Los Angeles this morning was a mere 57 degrees at 6:l5 and was only 70 at 4:l5 p.m. Something, I swear, is afoot.

Since I began waiting, watching for The Snap, I have never known it to arrive, then depart, returning finally six weeks later. The pattern has been, once here, it is here for the duration. I don't know what this means. Our squirrels, as they scale the palms and run the utility wires, look particularly scrawny, their fur far from lush, their tails mere shadows of ordinary fullness. There are no wooly caterpillars for me to observe, classic harbingers of chilly days.

Tomorrow morning I will take another reading, sniff the wind, squint at the sunrise, let my skin inform me. The Snap has been such a reliable sign ever since I was made aware of it, I am disheartened to think it may have turned fickle. The number of things on which we can depend shrinks by the day. I cannot bear to think our stalwart Snap may follow other vanished certainties into oblivion.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Speaking only for myself, confusion is nothing new

To all talented young musicians and their passion, with special good wishes to the Gosnells Primary School Recorder Ensemble** and their performance on Sept. 2. I hope we'll have a video of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to share here soon.

**CORRECTION: The whole school will be performing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," costumed to follow the Yellow Brick Road. As I said, confusion is nothing new.