For some reason I can add sidebars, but not new posts. Please check back later. I have been working on a variety of things including switching my blog soon from this one, which was set up with my now-defunct West Wisconsin Telcom account. I hope to have my new blog through Gmail up soon. I will provide a link and announcement when I've got everything straight. 7/2/11

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Go ahead and laugh

Author Marilyn vos Savant said, “At first, I only laughed at myself. Then I noticed that life itself is amusing. I’ve been in a generally good mood ever since.”

I like that philosophy. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if more people stopped taking themselves so seriously?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Recently read: Robert Crais’ Chasing Darkness

Crais always writes a good traditional thriller. In this one, PI Elvis Cole and his large sidekick Pike butt heads with the higher ranks of the LAPD. A suicide discovered in Laurel Canyon provides a link for seven murders over seven years. The serial killer was once on trial for one of the murders and Cole’s basic detective work helps prove his innocence. The new evidence eats at Cole as he torments himself with the question, “if I hadn’t found the information then the next four murders wouldn’t have happened.” Well plotted with an ending that surprised me. Even though the Cole books follow the formula of "Wise-cracking Sensitive Male Detective with Big Buddy," the novels are nevertheless good reading.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Today’s quote

Rabbi Harold Kushner noted “I think of life as a good book. The further you get into it, the more it begins to make sense.” Isn’t that so true?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Creative Conference

A vista of Boulder, CO, to get the creative juices flowing. Photo by Hustvelt, posted in Wikipedia

The 2009 Creative Conference for writers and photographers is being held in Boulder, Colorado, on October 9 to 11. In addition to workshops and speakers, there are contest opportunities to submit writing, essays and photos, as well to pitch your work to editors. This sounds excellent! Check it out at

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Recently read: Andrea Camilleri’s August Heat

I love Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano series set in Sicily, and this book continues not only the delightful tradition, but is also translated as usual by Stephen Sartarelli, an American who is an excellent writer and poet himself. Montalbano rents a seaside home for his lover, Livia, and her friends. Unfortunately, the holiday is cut short by the discovery of a body in the hidden rooms underneath the house. Montalbano has to find out who the young woman was, why she was killed and why her body was left in the secret room. Another task he has on hand is to get Livia to forgive him—again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A quote on conversation

Margaret Millar, a mystery writer like her famous husband (who wrote under the pen name of Ross Macdonald), once said, “Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.” So true. I have sat so many times with a fixed smile stifling a yawn (or not) while someone “talks at me” under the mistaken impression that he (or occasionally she) is “talking TO” me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Using the power of laziness

In one of Robert Genn’s newsletter back in July, he stated: “Understanding and taking advantage of our lazy moments may be a significant path to creative success. Feet up in a hammock, a cool one at the side, imagination flies. This can also be a time when dates are penciled in and outrageous notes are made. Laziness breeds the plans and strategies for less lazy times.” Artists, writers, and other creative workers truly do need this free-flowing time to generate inspiration that ultimately blends with discipline to find expression in the material world. To sign up for Genn’s newsletters, go to

Monday, August 17, 2009

Recently read: Kendall Farr’s Style Evolution

A quick fun read, this book by stylist Farr gives points for looking good no matter what your age. She helps the reader identify her style (mine wasn’t, as I’d always though, Aging Urban Boomer Lately Ruralized) . Farr gently suggests that even the middle-aged should not wear their sweats everywhere. Add in considerations for body type, coloring, and what you spend your time doing, and the result is a practical, easy-to-read guide to spiffing up your look.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Free hugs

This is a delightful video! Cheer yourself up in less than four minutes, then go HUG someone!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Getting things done

The auditorium of the Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater looks exactly the same to audiences now as to audiences in 1890.

Last night my friend Heidi and I were whimpering about how we never seem to be able to complete our good ideas. Yes, we know it has a lot to do with the fact that not completing things is one way to “never fail.” It is still not acceptable to either one of us. Heidi had a burst of energy this week after her daughter noted to her that “you never seem to finish things, Mom.” Heidi has now cleared up several projects that were gathering dust. And today, I finally cleared up one of my huge projects that I’ve successfully avoided completing for eight months: my book proposal! The query is 55 pages, including 3 sample chapters of my proposed book, Ready for Act Three: the Restoration of the Mabel Tainter Memorial Theater. I trotted off to the post office this morning and sent it certified mail to the Minnesota Historical Society Press. I’ll keep everyone posted on what happens!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Recently read: Jill Paton Walsh’s The Bad Quarto

This is a light read and fun for those who like British cozies, academic settings, and lots of literary clues. Imogen Quy, the nurse at St. Agatha’s College in Cambridge, solves another crime while making sure students, whether climbers or actors, are in as best of health as possible. Some things are beyond her ability to heal, such as the death of a Shakespearean scholar who attempted the traditional challenge of jumping from Harding’s Folly. Lots of quotes from Hamlet, atmospheric descriptions, and witty conversation.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Why blogging is good for your career

The Happy Blogger in 2007 when beginning to blog

Carl spotted this article on and forwarded the link to me. It’s timely because once again I’m having my students blog. In addition, we discuss in class many of the online communication forms, including Twitter and instant messaging, and their applications to the business world. The article has some excellent points as well as good advice:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Screenwriting workshop

The Hass Fine Arts Center, the site of the UW-Eau Claire Department of Music and Theatre Arts

The University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire is offering a workshop this fall in writing for movies. Screenwriting is a specific category of writing, and this workshop is designed to give you an edge in the field. The instructor, Dr. Wil Denson, is a retired UW-EC Theater professor whose award-winning plays, television, radio and film scripts have been produced throughout the United States.

Denson’s Screenwriting for the Film Industry workshop is eight weeks, beginning September 15. The cost is $95 (a bargain, in my opinion!). For more information, visit the web site at or contact the UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education Office, (715) 836-3636 or toll free 1-866-893-2423.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Recently read: Henning Makell’s Firewall

This Swedish author is one of my favorite novelists. This book is part of his police procedural series featuring Inspector Kurt Wallander. A man is found dead at an ATM (well, whatever they are called in Swedish). A cab driver is beaten to death apparently by two teenage girls who have quickly confessed to the crime. As usual, Wallander doesn’t just look at the surface and scoop up the easy results. The more he and his team look into the circumstances surrounding each death, the odder each death seems. And more deaths keep coming.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Art journal writing

My first page of my art journal, created July 6, 2009.

Earlier this summer, I began art journaling in earnest as a result of all the delightful art journal books I’ve been dipping into (such as Violette’s Journal Bliss). Since June 2008, I have been writing what Julia Cameron calls “morning pages” in her inspiring book, The Artist’s Way. Now, I start my days whenever possible writing three “morning pages,” and then selecting the first color for the page from my Blick Studio markers. Yes, this does take up some valuable morning time, yet the benefit I get is worth it. And several days a week I do have to go out into the world Unwritten and Un-Arted . . .

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hard work

I’m not a big fan of Henry Ford’s words, but this one is worth repeating: “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”