Bentleyville, USA

One of the mostest bestest things about Duluth during the holidays is Bentleyville, America’s largest free walk-through light display. It is beyond fantastic, melting the hearts of any “green” loving, anti-frivolous-uses-of-electricity grinches. My son and I began going to Bentleyville when it was on the Bentley’s property back in 2004. Ten years later, it is a spectacular tourist attraction in beautiful Bayfront Park.

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Minnesota’s superhero, Paul Bunyan, towing the xmas tree with Babe, the blue ox.

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My son (right) and his older brother (from another mother).

Med City Write Now (but I don’t want to).

I’m sitting on a red velvet couch, in dim lighting, at our collaborative artists’ salon. Every Monday we have our writing group. I’ve missed the last two weeks primarily because it’s cold and dark now at night and I do not want to leave the coziness of my room.

Even though I only see these people once a week (unless I participate in other salon events) these are my peeps. We sit, we write, we share. It’s a social introverts dream; socialization in silence. A time to write alone with others.

We begin with a prompt. Some days we write on this subject, then pass our work to the right every five minutes; each writer beginning where the last left off. I  love these communal works of fiction.Today we did a short prompt followed by 45 minutes to work on our own stuff. We are a diverse group; a film writer, a poet, sci-fi writers, the undefined, and I, the blogger.

Before group tonight I was at home daydreaming about Bass and not wanting to post anything on my  blog. But here I am, on a comfy couch, in total silence, writing for you. Well, not total silence; just heard the helicopter bring some poor soul to med city central.

Our prompt tonight  was “A Superhero whose power is only activated when he/she is drunk.” We had 15 minutes to write. My story is about a criminal  defense attorney, who is a non-drinking Mormon, discovering she can read minds after drinking a Long Island Ice Tea. Fifteen minutes is not long enough to write fiction, or even flesh out a concept, but it gets you writing. For this girl who did not want to blog today, that short work of fiction with this group of writing misfits inspired a necessary November post (NaBloPoMo).

Happy Blogaversery to Me: Thank You!

It has been a fabulous month since I began Sober and Single in Med City. Starting my very own blog is something I have thought about for years. I began blogging in 2003 with a small group of people on Perfect Duluth Day. Now that community blog, for residents and lovers of Duluth, Minn., has over 2,000 users. Being that I no longer live in Duluth, I do not post there often and also would never delve as deep as I have here.

I began this blog mainly to write personal essays, which for years have been taking up space in my head. Since I have spent fourteen years administrating and writing blogs for employers, I knew this format would hold me accountable to my craft. I’ve developed an innate work ethic regarding blog writing whereas if I just scheduled time daily to write essays I wouldn’t do it. Pleased to Meet Me delves more into why I write here.

My perceptions of how this blog would contribute to my life and who my readership would be were much different from reality. The reality is much more wonderful. I thought my “followers” would mostly be my friends, forgetting this format’s uniqueness is the community of writers and readers within the blog platform (WordPress).

I really am at a loss of words to explain how grateful I am to WordPress’ readers and writers, and also BlogHer who sponsors NaBloPoMo. I’m taking the Blogging 101 course through WordPress and doing the NaBloPoMo, which were both blogging blisses I knew nothing about a month ago.

The “followship” amazes me. There are so many wonderful writers with whom I connect. And my writing reaches out to bloggers, galvanizing my need to keep writing. It’s been a wonderful month. So I will end where I began on Oct. 21st with “Wonderful Wondering.”

Throwback Thursday: My “Going on a Hot Date” Song

I never tire of “Brass in the Pocket”. I first heard this song by watching the video on MTV, probably in 1981. It came out in 1979, and Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of The Pretenders, initially did not want it released.

I have listened to this song before every “hot date” I’ve had since 16. By hot I mean a date with a boy/man I really like. Now that I’m older, it’s my anthem of feminist sexuality.

My Sister is Her Own Muse: Artistic Autonomy

The Artist’s Way, “Week 11” : This week we focus on artistic autonomy. We examine the ongoing ways in which we must nurture and accept ourselves as artists ~ Julia Cameron

Paint n stuff KR

Usually when I read The Artist’s Way, I have a profound revelation regarding my creative recovery. Not this week. The chapter “Recovering a Sense of Autonomy” spoke to my artistic being, but primarily brought about an even greater appreciation of my sister’s talents. She has always been able to cultivate her creative power through artistic autonomy.

Autonomy: Independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions.

Weird paper bowl my sis made.

Weird paper bowl my sis made.

My sis has always been her own muse; following an inner artistic spirit. I believe she was put on this earth to create. Ten years my elder, my first memories of her are as a ceramicist; she worked wonders with a wheel, clay and glaze. From the age of five to thirteen, I saw pottery as her calling, as I saw pot smoking as my brother’s. It was such an integral part of my perception of her that I could not understand why she would switch artistic mediums.

Around 26 (me,16) she had her first major gallery show in Phoenix. It did not feature her pottery, but instead large abstract portraits she drew with cow markers; the late 20th century humane alternative to branding cattle. I have no idea where the artistic shift and medium came from. Did she just wander into a farm feed store, see these huge crayon-like markers and say, “Hey, I’m going to take a rest from clay and start drawing with theses!” I do not know what was her “Ah-Ha!” moment; she was just following her own muse.

These portraits were artistically awesome, but at 16 I did not understand how she could “give up” ceramics for an entirely different fine-arts medium. A medium of her own making! I’m sure there is not a “Cow Marker” category of artists.

Zentangle Green Man, no cow markers were harmed making this art.

Zentangle Green Man ; No cow markers were harmed making this art.

What I didn’t know then, but know now, is that creative beings cannot be confined into one category, or they become creative cripples.

Sis' Tree

Sis’ Tree

I cannot even begin to tell, or even fathom, the vast artistic endeavors in which my sister is prolific. She’s created her own spin on Zentangles, which has been turned into fabric, then turned into bags and other useful items. She paints, draws, knits, cooks, but what she doesn’t do is pigeon-hole her artistry.

Zentangle fabric

BW Zentangle KR

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The function of the creative artist consists of making laws, not following laws already made. ~ Ferruccio Busoni

Vegetarian Haggis Days: The Beginning of My Edinburgh Adventure

Salad Days

One of the greatest periods of my life was the year I spent in Edinburgh, Scotland, age 24-25. This was a goal I worked towards for three of my five years of college. In fact, I did not even attend my graduation ceremony, opting instead to catch a flight to the U.K., celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday traveling with him and the rest of our family, then catching a train to Edinburgh with no reservations at a hostel and no idea where I’d live or work the next year.

Photo: © Shutterstock / Vichie81

Photo: © Shutterstock / Vichie81

I was an adventurous spirit in my youth, not putting too much forethought into my actions. I did have a work permit through BUNAC and had gone through their orientation in London prior to meeting up and traveling with my family. Being that the BUNAC London headquarters were so big and supportive, I figured I‘d find the same in Edinburgh. Unfortunately their office was a small room tucked away in an alley off High Street and was closed when I arrived. The youth hostels, the only accommodations I could afford, were all full.

Lucky for me I had a very supportive, non-blood related British family, which I called upon in this moment of crisis. The Brams (pseudonym) whom I lived with for a year when going to Birmingham University, England when I was 19, are one of the most amazing families who have “taken me in”. What happened next was miraculous.

Ben, my “house brother” was going to Edinburgh Uni but was in Birmingham at the time with his family. However, his girlfriend had an extra room in her flat, and agreed to take me in for a few weeks before her roommate returned, either for free or for very cheap. This gave me the time I needed to find a job and flatmates of my own.

Josie is a young (a little older now) lass who epitomizes Scots’ hospitality and warmth. While I was living with her another flatmate from Canada joined us. She was much more organized than I, arranging her living and work situation before she left North America. I was a vegetarian at the time, and Josie decided to make a traditional Scottish dinner for us three.

Vegetarian Haggiss

Upon our plates were these ugly, gray, fat, encased lumps of something. They did not look very appetizing. We asked what we were about to eat, and Josie exclaimed, “Wa, Vegetar-rian Haggis!” When asked what vegetarian haggis was, Josie said “Wa, it’s an oats an’ bean pudding in a wee fake sheep’s stom-ach!” The Canuck and I laughed until we nearly peed our pants, while poor Josie looked on, disgusted that we would criticize both her fine dinner and accent. The Vegetarian Haggis Days were the beginning of my wonderful Scottish adventure.