I thought I was going to excitedly write about my new book publication that will be available after tomorrow! But instead I decided to take a break after working all day on ‘the details’ of the book, and celebrate how toddlers grow up! This is a little drawing I did of one of our sons when he was in his cowboy career days! And today, that ‘lil cowboy’ turned thirty! Even though I can’t quite get the real life and likeness his wonderfulness at this age, I’m realizing that memories of our little boys and girls are etched forever in our hearts. Their chubby little legs, feet and fingers, their sweet voices, and wobbly proud walks. They are so precious growing up and the preciousness never goes away, even when they become wonderful men and wonderful women! So, rather than miss those days with sadness, I just want to celebrate how they are embedded in us forever at every age and stage, and it’s such a privilege to get to watch them grow up!
I will be publishing my book, this weekend! The first version will be in pdf form and available for SALE online. I plan to start with this format first and will look at other publishing options (amazon, apple, print) in the future if people are interested.
This whole process has been a great way for me to start the ball rolling. And now that I’ve begun this journey, I look forward to sharing more stories, learning through the process, and honing my skills of writing and illustrating! Thanks to so many for support along the way! I hope you enjoy my first picture book and I would love any feedback or suggestions.
Had a dream last night that I was teaching again and was introducing working with clay, specifically ‘slab work’ with clay and rolling pins. Couldn’t find enough free surfaces for each child to spread out. Wanted to work in ‘an extra studio’ I had set up years before in an extra room at the school. As far as I knew it had not even been entered since then. (This is a ‘studio’ I’ve seen in my head for years also. Don’t know for sure if there is one somewhere. It’s not the one in our garage.) I opened the door for us to use it, and there was a whole group of kids and a teacher already in there!) So we continued to work where we were all over the place…on the floor, under tables, etc. I was trying to teach them to roll their clay a certain consistency…not too thick, and not too thin. I gave them each two flat sticks to put on either side of the clay to keep the rolling pin from rolling things too flat. I was trying to explain the word, ‘slab’. I just had to invent Slab as a character to show them what I meant. Very similar to Gumby, but uniquely Slab. So now that I’ve had the thought many times about this character at the Hillock, and have written about Slab as the character, the Potter, and have now dreamed of the importance of the character Slab as a teaching tool and example….is it time to focus on him as a character first? Also at the Hillock the other day, there was a very large colorful skink who raced into the Potter’s house, ran under the mantlepiece on the cedar tree that holds some of his pottery, and scurried down a hole there! Hmmmm….
Watching over his pond is an ancient king frog who has long turned to stone. His story is quite compelling and may surface soon as mysteries unfold at The Hillock. For now, he is content watching his offspring many generations hence, as they sparkle and shimmer as living cells in their comfortable pillowy egg sacs. Even Francklin the dog, respects their glistening greatness and allows them space when he cools his tired three legs in what he knows as ‘his pond’. Meanwhile, my head’s swimming with all these mysterious clues and characters.
Today, at the Hillock, there were awesome egg sacs in the tiny pond. They look like the big BullFrog type, but I’m not sure. So beautiful! Glistening, moving, billowing with so many new possibilities…I was so awestruck that somewhere I misplaced my phone…my one piece that reminds me that there’s another time bound world that calls as well. I know it will turn up. It always does. I’ll be patient until the weather report says rain. For now, the ‘jingle book’ is brimming with possibility and waiting for little i’s to be dotted and t’s of technology to be understood. Meanwhile there are mysteries whispering by the mossy hillock…to breathe in and out.
While I’m setting everything up to publish the Jingle Book, I’ll keep working on the Hillock stories. If I can’t see the characters that I’m writing about, there are a few different ways I could go:
•I could just make them up! Since that’s what we do with most of Life: make up our own stories and interpretations of Everything! Actually, I already have quite a few characters: Slab, Claire the Cook, The Queen’s Cook, The Fairie of the Castle of the Heart, The One-Winged Bird, CritterSeahorse, The Artist, The Writer, Preena of Preena’s Spa,The Stone Mason, Twigs at Twilight, and a few more.
•I could look for clues: like the holes in the ground, the tiny tree frogs that hop right in front of my feet like they want to tell me something quick! and then hop away. After all, the earth is presenting us with mystery and drama moment by moment, we usually just don’t pay attention.
•I could look ‘within’ and see what voices come forth. There are so many things I’ve just learned about life while being the caretaker and the mosstender of the hillock.
•I could keep looking at less likely but more obvious possibilities for characters: trees, roots, rocks, the Hillock itself, a Map (of the Hillock or of some mission or to some treasure), the pond (reflections), birds! hmmm…birds!
•I could accept the fact that the characters are hidden, not visible by me, or that they no longer live there
•I could be the character!
•If the characters are no longer there, or are hidden, I still might need to have some way to know what they’re thinking….perhaps by ‘mail’ at the world postal box, or maps, or messages left in the bottle at the bottom of the old aqueduct, or by bird or worm messengers, or through sound? bells?
•If the setting is the character
•I could let the hillock be a microcommunity of our whole world and see how it plays out.
•And then there are all the visitors over the years that I’ve noticed down at the hillock. Box turtles, green snakes, black snakes, toads, tiny frogs, giant bullfrogs, snails, slugs, lizards, birds,
I’m open to other suggestions if anyone wants to comment! Thanks!
Hatching stories is quite a process! And sometimes the eggshell waiting period makes perception do unusual things. For instance, in this partially hatched painting, the eggshell also looks like both a sunrise and a sunset, a starting and a finishing.
I know I will hatch through this process, and right now, I am also struggling with what to write. I feel more and more like the little lizard with the egg shell over his head. I can’t see where I am. I can’t see where I’ve been. I can’t see where I’m going. I can’t even see myself in the process at times. And, I can’t see what characters are next to flow through me. It’s a tight feeling. Seems like it should be a freeing feeling… to live in the unknown…to step out not knowing what my foot will find to support me and not knowing which direction to go.
I’m also in a place of waiting…waiting for Apple to get back to me giving me the ‘go ahead’ to publish my first book. Waiting for all the loose ends that I THINK I’ve tightened up to ‘show up’ that way! Waiting for the last few details to fall into place. Waiting to find out what other details I haven’t handled that i don’t know about yet. Waiting to find out how much the next steps will cost. Waiting until something comes together as FINISHED! PUBLISHED! And then, waiting to see if it even matters, if anyone out there enjoys reading it. And probably the biggest ‘waiting’ of all is for me to just let go of it…and move on to what’s next.
And then there’s the unknown of what am I going to write next? I keep pouring over all my words, my reams of things I’ve written, trying to decide which to work on next. Then, I toss them all aside and put a blank page in front of me….and continue the reams…Maybe the illustrating would be more fun! But does it have to always be fun? Dunno…I do want my passion in it.
My passion right now is down at The Hillock. Every day it’s ‘down to the Hillock with Lacy and Francklin and a bucket and my little shovel. It’s really got a life of its own. I’m just working on the ‘infrastructure’…I think that’s the word…the road systems, the misting systems, and interfacing them with the dwellings. Adding dirt, rock, and a little bit of moss here and there. Actually, most of the moss is just spreading from what was already there in the beginning. Setting up ‘waterworks’ for warm weather is important. And the more I’m there, the more I begin to see elements of the story unfolding. What i can’t see is the plot, and some of the characters, and I don’t know who is telling the story. I’m sort of just watching… Maybe the dogs are a part of it…but I don’t think so. Maybe there are animals…again I can’t tell.
The holes… seem to be the most mysterious part of the Hillock. And the ‘unseen’ characters. When are they there? Are they the Twigs at Twilight themselves? I don’t know yet. It’s hard to write a story about characters I don’t see.
Maybe the story IS about the little lizard with the eggshell on his head….
Ohhhh the chaos before it ALL comes together in some shape…meanwhile, I’m just looking and listening for something…signs…sounds…
There is a MossWhisperer, I’m sure of that because I’ve heard her whispers. What she actually looks like, I don’t really know. The picture below is a crafted attempt to make ‘the MossTender’ out of a wooden doll I found at Goodwill. Someday I hope to paint ‘the MossTender’ but actually, she’s not the MossWhisperer. I think she just hears the whispers of the MossWhisperer more than most since she’s so close to the earth and its song. Yet from what I can surmise, ANYONE can hear the MossWhisperer, if they truly listen.
Who is The MossWhisperer? I only know what she DOES, for now…
The MossWhisperer listens…and through the mist comes a distillation of all that is…
She listens… to minglings of the night…to coyote and redwolfed triumphant howls mixed with baby screams of precious prey, dove croons, whippoorwill quails, and owl whoos mingling with windshrill cries as they crush air through cracks in the forest…to the mighty pines as they creak and tip themselves towards final breaking points…
She listens as morning harbinges hope for a new day, an new way.
The MossWhisperer feels…needing no eyes to see the grandeur of the lowest carpet of the earth, the textures that tell all…
She feels…the earth’s cool moisture that grows from twilight and forms an invisible envelope at its surface right where it needs to breathe.
She feels…the sun drained sweat of the earth …it’s lifeline for the day until night comes again, or rain drops by for a surprise visit.
The MossWhisperer smells…the soft earth’s sweat signaling that there’s enough!…assuring us that moss will preserve the earth’s water in its cells for all living things.
She smells…a scent reminiscent of moth balls, preserving all that is needed of the past to live in the present…only air and water taken from the atmosphere and radiant sun to grow chlorophyl.
The MossWhsiperer recalls…that ancient life is going on…in us…through us… and beyond us…
The MossWhisperer lets go…of struggles & stress…
She lets go…of pressures to figure out…of fears that freeze us…of distractions that lose or lock us in noisy dark closets we humans often create.
She lets go of needing…of wanting to be heard through the noise.
She lets go of frantic communication…
She just lets go…and
She LISTENS to the Earth’s whisper and then she herself whispers one word, thankyou, aciu, thankyou to All who together create her as she is this moment. And that is enough. She is enough. All is enough. Moss…prepares the present…and creates pillows of rest and renewal for all of us, and for all of life’s processes to go on…Oh…to listen as she does and learn from our ancestral storage of water and spirit! Oh…to listen to mosses…we will be renewed, restored, replenished and rebirthed!
The Writer’s House is on the northwestern end of The Hillock, just above the World MailBox and below Owl’s Tree. An interesting thing to note is that there are quite a few holes in the ground near the house, with openings about as large as a silver dollar. And there is one hole that is covered with the bottom of a glass bottle, so you can see down into the hole in sort of a magnified way. Or is it so someone could look up from below and see things above in a much larger form? These holes are truly there, but didn’t make it into the camera’s eye…hmmm…wonder if they have something to do with a writer’s point of view? hmmm…
I’m not sure if this little guy is a character in the next story or if he is really just representing how I feel right now…as I’m fine-tuning things on the last book, learning the ropes of self publishing, and hatching ideas for the next one! Hmmm…maybe I should play around with him as a character. Actually there is a dwelling at The Hillock, called The Writer’s House. It’s under Owl’s Tree and just above the community World Mailbox. There’s a small pencil in a green jar attached to the house and quite a few bits of leaf stationery floating around. Children in our neighborhood actually leave little notes in the tiny mailbox. There’s something so magical and life-giving about communicating with the unseen and unknown. Writing in different languages and spellings doesn’t seem to make any difference to the readers. Somehow there are connections with one’s ‘inner knowing’. So this little ‘lizard guy’….must be pretty trusting to be moving about without seeing where he’s going. I know that’s how I’m feeling about this writing process, especially putting it ‘out there’ for everyone (the unknown) to see, even when I can’t see where it is going or I am going. Hmmm…writing inside one’s own egg…walking while writing…trusting while writing…writing while trusting…back to the breathing thing. There must be some light coming through…something that keeps sparking the process. Perhaps there’s an advantage to keeping our eggs over our heads while we’re trying to focus on growing something. Less distractions, only room for emerging thoughts that feed your purpose. Hmmm…a writing egg…more intimate and fueling perhaps than the old writing carrels in libraries. And this little guy’s shell was pretty flexible, more like a breathable space helmet.
Today was just too beautiful to stay inside! Francklin, our three-legged dog, who is my forever patient and playful companion, has found his top dog mound on The Hillock where he surveys the scene, always ready to bound into action if there is a stick flying through the air or if he can get my attention with his ball! I’ve been fine tuning the paths and walls. For some reason I am getting The Hillock ready for SOMETHING, not sure what. I’ve always wanted to have a ‘tea’ or some gathering here in the spring. And new dwellings seem to be popping up in anticipation of something! There are so many stories emerging from the mysterious mounds! Maybe after I finish publishing “What Makes a Jingle Ring,” I’ll have space in my head to hear the MossWhispers! Ready for the next Adventures!