Category Archives: other finds

On inspiration in art — 2015.2

I started creating with “jewelry and junk” after my Mom moved to an assisted living facility and weren’t sure what to do with her 27 drawers of jewelry — some of it of the costume variety but all of it special for one reason or another — mostly because it was hers.

Both Joan and I were looking for a way to celebrate our memories of which shell earrings she used to wear with which muumuu, the stunning pieces that she purchased on her travels — Mexican silver, a crown-shaped ring from Thailand, a seemingly endless supply of pins from cruiClock by Joanse-ships and state capitals and special events. We sifted through it all and separated out the “good stuff” between the three of us.

It wasn’t long before Joan was making bookmarks with beads (we sold these at Dark Horse Books), and treasures such as this lovely clock — which has been a beloved part of our home for a LONG time.

I started making frames and tins for friends, then tried my hand at more difficult pieces using all kinds of recycled bits. It didn’t matter whether it was a cap off a Bic pen or a spangly rhinestone earring — everything seemed to find a place somewhere (even if it rested a good long while in my collection of  “stuff.”) You can check out a lot of my work here and here, (this latter is one of three FB photo albums of my work).

Soon people were saving things for me; I’d be gone for an afternoon from the bookstore and might come back to find a box or baggie of jewelry, or odd-shaped bits of packaging, that some thoughtful person had brought in for me.

And then I started to hear Game Fish by Larry Fuenteabout “real artists” doing this kind of work. For example, “Game Fish” by Larry Fuente is at the Smithsonian Art Museum!

This giant piece is made of hundreds of pieces of kids stuff — toys, dominos, plastic figurines, even a baby-doll arm. Inspiration indeed.

And suddenly, in February, after years of doing my artwork, I have discovered many others who are working with found materials to create amazing pieces.

Check this out — by a British artist named Jane Perkins — a reproduction of one of my favorite VermeeJane Perkins Girl with a Pearl Earringr paintings but all done in  pieces!

She has created amazing canonical works — including Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” and portraits of Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe. She calls herself an “artist in found materials” — love that description.

I also recently learned that several of my cousins are making tins and other multi-media pieces, like these two made by my cousins Janie and Laura.

This was afJnJ_Janie_made_for_Margeter I had created “great women doodads” for all my girl cousins, and a tin for my Aunt Marge Rambo, which another cousin says sits on her kitchen. JnJ_Laura_made_for_Ally


I also really like these shoes, which a friend saya on Facebook and tagged for me. They’re of Swarovsky crystals, mostly…

I’m not sure how they get the beads to stay on them but they are certainly inspiring!

Sparkly shoes from FB

Which brings to my latest effort….

Last week, I donated this little book tin to Ollie-Fest, a fundraiser for the Eva Dahlgren/Dan Hundere family. It was given away in the raffle; not knowing the recipient, I found him on Facebook and send him a message, saying that I was hoping to chat with him about this unique piece.

book tin for Ollie FestHe wrote back that his daughters, four- and six-years old, “absolutely loved it. They filled it with all sorts of fun stuff and have carried it around the house the yard and collected shells and leaves from all over the yard.”

I’m so happy to know they are playing with it and enjoying it —  lots of good synergy there. The tin is from the Girl Scouts and the dominant color of green represents all things that are healthy and growing, as well as recycling, long a passion of Eva’s. This tin’s shape,  a “book,” is special because Ollie’s such a good reader — no surprise since Eva’s a librarian and was a long-time employee of ours at the bookstore.

All of this encourages me to work on yet another piece for a fundraiser, and to remember that inspiration comes from others’ joy in your work, from the examples one finds elsewhere, from sharing your ideas with others  — but mostly from within.




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Filed under Around the Valley, Cool causes, Fun art, Matters of the heart, other finds, Scrapbook, Sorting things out

Sappy (special) sayings

I’m not writing on my blog much these days, have you noticed? In the last month or so, my postings to FB have become less frequent as well. But when I do post there, I use a quote, photo,or graphic that means something to me at that very moment.

I find them on other people’s pages (and save them), I create them myself, I take a picture of greeting cards I particularly like — whatever.

Some people find them annoyingly cloying — while others, I’ve been told, welcome a little inspiration once in a while and appreciate the thought behind them.

Well, my friends, I don’t think this habit is going to stop anytime soon. It’s part and parcel of who I am; I’ve been saving quotes since I started to read, I think!

It’s also what I like to share — I look at posting on FB (or on this blog, for that matter) as something that I might have said to someone at the bookstore counter, or written in a letter, or laughed over with someone in person otherwise.

So if you like them, great. If you don’t — well, social media is meant to be ignored, as Peter often reminds me.

If you’d like to check out what’s already “in the public view,” my FB album called “Special Sayings” contains upward of 150 different images — from the ridiculous to the sublime.

And here are a few more: I pulled these from an archived collection called “inspiration” on my old laptop — they each strike a chord for me on this, the next-to-the-last day of June, 2014 — and perhaps they will do the same for you.

Until next time!

INspiring_shadows_dancing_couple inspiration_will_smith_tweet_about_everyone_struggling inspiration_whole_box_of_crayons Inspiration_whenever_one_person_stands_up_quote Inspiration_stars_loved_ones_are_happy inspiration_stay_creative inspiration_posters_from_One_Kings_Lane inspiration_positive_thought_shared_8_31-13 inspiration_goodbye_n_Hello Inspiration_hack_away_at_the_unessential inspiration_IAAW_swirly_words Inspiration_from_Kevin_walk_away_or_work_harder_quote inspiration_go_confidently_BnW_road inspiration_go_do inspiration_favorite_thing_go_where_never_been inspiration_everything_you_can_imagine inspiration_everything_will_be_OK inspiration_every_experience_elephant_P_Polacco inspiration_every_day_lake_n_book_Patricia_Polacco Inspiration_enjoy_the_Little_things_Deb_Little inspiration_dr_seuss_youer_than_you_quote

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Filed under Matters of the heart, other finds, Scrapbook

Jenny’s Pumpkin Muffins

Haven’t written for a while — amazing how working fulltime absorbs the hours and focus of one’s life. This morning, Peter suggested I be sure and do something for myself, as I expect the afternoon to be stressful… so I decided to share a favorite new recipe from my neighbor Jenny.

These muffins are something quick and easy if you want to impress your friends and warm up their tummies!Pumpkin_Muffins It’s become my “go to” item over the last couple months, for when I want to whip up something for an early-morning meeting or feel the need for comfort food that’s not as caloric as macaroni or brownies.


Jenny’s pumpkin muffins

Spice cake mix
1 small can (15 oz. size)  pumpkin
A little vanilla (I use about a teaspoon)
1/2 cup water
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Mix the first four ingredients together well; the pumpkin will lose its briliant orange and become a more mellow color when well blended with the cake mix. Fold in the chocolate chips; the batter will be smooth and creamy but on the thick side. You can fill the muffin cups fairly full.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes. I have always had enough batter for 12 regular-size muffins and a small Pyrex bowl.

I’ve seen similar recipes online that don’t add the water; we may need the extra moister for our high altitude, I’m not sure. You could also start with a yellow cake mix and add spices — but golly, that makes it more work 🙂

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Filed under Food (glorious food), other finds

Super Souper Bowl — O/N it 13

One of my favorite annual events is the “Souper Bowl” hosted by the ceramics program of Teton Arts Council.  It happens in early-mid November each year and seems to symbolize the transition from autumn to winter.

It’s a clever and delightful twist on a giant potluck. First, many volunteers create delectable belly-warming concoctions, filling tables full of slow-cookers and crockpots containing soups with descriptions like “vegan curry rice” and “bean-free chili” and “lemon chicken ravioli.”

Then, volunteers fill the entire City Hall entry way with a veritable smorgasbord osouper-bowl picf locally made ceramic bowls of every size and description, from brightly-colored to square to serious-looking. Every person who attends can choose their favorite bowl to use for their choices of soup that night– and then can take it home.

We have a whole collection of bowls from the last four years. Last year, Peter made soup; this year, he’s in Philly this week, so I’m on task Thursday to cook and take admission money at the bowl table.

Prizes are given for the best soup; the local music is always entertaining, kids love it, and 460 Bread donates their wonderful rolls. As a fundraiser it’s both affordable and fun — my favorite kind of community evening.

It’ll be a fun night.  See you there!

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Filed under Around the Valley, O/N it, other finds

Desert delights — O/N it 10

I had such a great visit with my sisters in Arizona in September! And it was a gorgeous time to travel there.

I have always loved the Southwest, and it had been a long time since I’d enjoyed the particular light and colors of the desert environment.

On an afternoon when we’re having snow and wind (admittedly with a few bursts of bright sunshine) here — well, it’s nice to again see some of these things, then growing in Tubac,  from garden roses to potted plants, plenty of sidewalk cactus and even a palm tree.

I also especially appreciate the play of shadows on building walls.

So lovely!

IMG_1931 IMG_1939 IMG_1947 IMG_1948 IMG_1959 IMG_1847 IMG_1848 IMG_1884 IMG_1885 IMG_1887 IMG_1889 IMG_1890 IMG_1893

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Filed under Journeys..., Matters of the heart, O/N it, other finds

Making the case, brilliantly — O/N it 6

As a kid, on hot summer days I loved taking my bike down the hill behind our house to the little library tucked on one side of Cole Shopping Center. I had some sort of carrier for the books I’d check out; although I don’t remember its shape or color, a clear muscle memory remains, of carefully stacking my treasures so they’d all fit inside for the ride home. I’d be back in just a few days to find something new to absorb my long afternoons and open my world, far away from our house on Foxcroft Road.

It wasn’t long, however, before I started acquiring my own collection of books. A school vendor, Scholastic I think, offered some kind of deal where purchasing books from them would earn points that could be “spent” on free books. Just my kind of thing! That was the beginning of my own personal and lifelong desire to not just read books but to acquire them myself.

More nonfiction on the main floor, and my reading chair, where I also knit, watch TV, and occasionally do artwork.

Nonfiction and reference books on the main floor, and my reading chair, where I also knit, watch TV, and occasionally do artwork.

Luckily I found, fell in love with, and married someone who, as a young boy in Worland, Wyoming, devoured every Hardy Boys mystery (and much more) in *his* local library.

Our mutual appreciation of words eventually led to our bookstore business. More importantly, it is a hallmark of our relationship and indeed, our lives together.

So we have our very own library.  It sits 20 feet away from where I write this, one of the many additions to our original log cabin, on the flats north of Driggs, in an alfalfa field with a beautiful view of the Tetons.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by books.  But I’m often on the quest for something that’s not yet on our shelves.

In the last ten days, even in my small rural area, I’ve visited (and checked out books from) three public libraries. These institutions are in two states — Jackson and Alta in Wyoming, and Victor, Idaho, a mile from Rusty’s house. Speaking of miles, my cross-border literary consumption covers about 550 of them;  I just received a book via Wyoming’s inter-library loan system (from Laramie) of a title strongly recommended by a avid-reader friend (author Cort Conley, director of literature for the Idaho Commission on the Arts) in Boise.

My good friend Eva Dahlgren — former longtime Dark Horse employee who has been a fulltime librarian for something like eight years now — told me this week about a piece by author Neil Gaiman. The essay’s all about libraries and the importance of reading for kids, and adults, even in this techno age (here’s the link to it).

Wow, struck such a responsive chord in me! In seconds, it took me back to those childhood bike rides in Cheyenne.

The title pretty much says it all: Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming.

If  you don’t get the point from that, the subtitle goes even farther:  A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens.

We have three shelves like this one along both the north and south walls of the mezzanine. This is our collection of travel books of all types.

We have three shelves like this one along both the north and south walls of the mezzanine. This is our collection of travel books of all types.

Just one of the quotes she called to my attention:  According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. That’s about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need. Libraries are places that people go to for information.

If that blip doesn’t make you want to read Gaiman’s whole essay — it takes ten minutes, max — here’s one that jumped off the page to me (and maybe explains, better than I ever could, why I still love to read a great novel): Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

The center section, fiction, on the west wall of the mezzanine. Peter built this giant shelving unit while I was traveling in Asia seven years ago.

The center section, fiction, on the west wall of the mezzanine. Peter built this giant shelving unit while I was traveling in Asia seven years ago.

That’s the bottom line for me.

I know that reading has made me better, made me different.

May today you encourage a child to read, pick up a book to inspire yourself, or maybe sit down to write a few lines of your own.


These three photos, for those who have wondered what our library looks like, provide some views of it. Trust me, it’s oh so much better in person!  And when we’re gone from this world, I’m guessing our books will end up — where else — in a library.


Filed under Around the Valley, Matters of the heart, My Weekly Reader, O/N it, other finds

Yet another book list O/N it 4

map of the most famous books set in each state croppedBlaire Kribs, a bookstore customer friend who’s moved from Teton Valley, posted this on FB this week, and although I already shared it there, I think it’s worth a few more comments. After all, talking about books has always been a joy and one of my best ways to connect to others….!

The map and the accompanying list show “the most famous book set in each state,” (or at least in one person’s opinion) published by Business Insider.

What I find most interesting is the depth of literature written across the country’s history pulled together in this one list. It includes short books, epic tomes, stuff for kids, stuff for young adults, nonfiction, classics, fairly new titles, scary ones, tame ones — well, you get the idea. They run the gamut of tastes, subjects, length and genre.

Choose two randomly and you might be surprised at what turns up. Consider these pairings…..Twilight and Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Into Thin Air and My Antonia; Little House in the Big Woods and The Laramie Project; The Shining and The Jungle. Wow.

Some would certainly argue with the book selection state by state — even several of my local well-read friends were surprised to see Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson as the book chosen for Idaho. (She’s much better known for Gilead, which won the Pulitzer — but it wasn’t set here.)

But to me using a list like this is just a starting point, a little like standing in front of the racks at a bookstore or library and hunting up something new. The first one (or what was recommended) might not be your choice, but spend just a little more time and you’ll find just the right thing.

Haven’t read them all of course, but this collection *does* include some of my all-time favorites. Reading over this list inspires me to REREAD several — and to search out those I’m unfamiliar with. Not today, though; it’s too beautiful a day to spend buried in a book, and I have many other things to accomplish today. But winter’s coming, and there’s not much better than a good book by the woodstove. it’s always terrific to have something new to look forward to, isn’t it?

Happy reading!

PS. Here’s the list only, for those who don’t want to use the link.

list only of the most famous books set in each state cropped


Filed under Journeys..., My Weekly Reader, O/N it, other finds, Scrapbook