Pre-Election Day

Village Of Alexandria Bay and Town Of Alexandria:

A few days ago I posted a blurb about Tactical Voting i.e. Bullet Voting.  Another tactic that I should have mentioned is the "Write In".  Some people will write in their own name or someone famous like Mickey Mouse or not so famous..... Walter Felterbush.  The Write In can be a very powerful tool, not so much for winning the current election but maybe a future one.  If there were enough bonafide Write In's on the Ballot, then maybe that person[s] might just make a serious attempt at running for public office the next go around.

When it comes right down to it, I know that most people are reluctant to throw their hat into the political arena.  HA!  I said that word r-e-l-u-c-t-a-n-t.  It was a word that I used to describe myself as a reluctant candidate when I ran for village trustee a couple of years ago. In an attempt to discredit my candidacy  a local bully jumped all over me for making this statement.  Being reluctant or hesitant is a sign of humility and unpretentiousness at the possibility of becoming voted in as a public servant.  Those that criticize these traits are out of touch dinosaurs that will hopefully become extinct.... soon.

Everyone needs to make a commitment to go out and vote tomorrow even though it is only a municipal election year.  And here is a shameless plug for the best Election Day Ham Dinner held at St. Cyrils Church.

Tiny Circus Big Top

NOW PRESENTING: Tiny Circus Big Top!

Tiny Circus is exploring new topics and themes that might not be appropriate for younger audiences. While we are interested in creating animations with more mature content, we acknowledge that our viewership and our pool of fellow collaborators is comprised of both children and adults. We recognize that our past animations are uniformly kid-friendly and that parents often let their kids view Tiny Circus videos on their own. Over the past few months, we have been trying to figure out how to post our new work without alienating any of our audience members or fellow collaborators. The solution we’ve reached is to post our less kid-friendly content under a new name: Tiny Circus Big Top.

Tiny Circus Big Top was created as a result of discussions among full-time collaborators, TC alum, and friends of TC, many of whom are teachers and parents with children. Here’s a quick rundown of those discussions:
  • We considered posting the new videos under the same Tiny Circus YouTube account as all of our other videos, but we imagined that kids viewing videos on their own could possibly come across content that their parents would rather them not see.
  • We also considered posting our new work under a new moniker that would be kept completely separate from the Tiny Circus web presence, but we realized that we still wanted to share our new animations with the current TC community.
  • The most logical choice in our minds, after months of discussion, was to create Tiny Circus Big Top. TC Big Top has its own YouTube channel, Vimeo channel, a new e-mail address, and a new Facebook page. Big Top viewers will be encouraged to check out Tiny Circus animations, but Tiny Circus YouTube viewers will not be linked directly to Big Top animations (this allows us to better manage the probability that kids or viewers who do not want to view animations with adult themes would come across such videos unintentionally).

Our goal as a collaborative organization is to create animations that are fun, hilarious, fascinating, and interesting to our group of animators. Since that group of animators so often changes form, so does the content of the animations that are created. Providing this new space for adult-themed animations is meant to allow us to expand our current body of work and grow as an organization. TC Big Top will be a place for animations with content that we imagine some parents might not want their children to see; it allows us to leave that decision up to parents. After all, some parents might see the TC Big Top animations as an educational opportunity or a way to spark conversation with their young ones. Either way, we are making the process of creating TC Big Top as transparent as possible, and the conversations about what this means for TC are by no means over.

All that said, it is our “pleasure” to share these new animations with you, TC family and friends. 

Check out our first Big Top animation here: Big Top - Pornucopia

Do You Have A Voting Strategy?

Some vote straight party line.  They choose their party row and shade in all the boxes from left to right.  In my opinion this is not really a strategy but more of a mindless approach to voting. Although it does have its merits when a candidate is running unopposed or 2 candidates for 2 seats.  I know of some that will leave a box blank as kind of a no vote for that person.  I have had opportunities in the past  to view the tallies of the votes in our community after the polls have closed  and I have noticed that this is done more often than some might realize.  Not sure if the difference between voter turn out and totaling the number of votes for each candidate are all no votes or voter indifference because they may not know anything about that person and just skipped them.

If you have ever intentionally skipped a candidate on a ballot.... Raise Your Hand! Good for you, this next strategy might just work for you.  How about the 3 way race for 2 seats? We have 2 of those races, one in the village for trustee and one in the town for councilperson.  Take a look at the sample ballot below....

Click to Enlarge

There are 3 candidates and the ballot tells you to vote for any 2.  In theory if you follow those directions your second choice will cancel out your first. It might be hard to understand at first but if you give it some thought over the weekend it just might make sense to you in time for Election Day. How about if you ignore the directions and just vote for 1 candidate, your absolute favorite one [and best choice]! This tactical strategy is called Bullet Voting and it is better explained HERE.  I hope you take the time to read might be very surprised at the results after the polls close.

Local Ballot [Sample]

Village of Alexandria Bay and Town Of Alexandria:
Set aside the politics of your party and vote for the "best" candidate on November 5th

Click For Larger Image

Art Educators of Iowa Fall Conference

Tiny Circus was in Cedar Rapids with the Art Educators of Iowa this past weekend. AEI's fall conference took place in the lovely Hotel at Kirkwood Center. We converted a conference room into our animating studio for the weekend, making use of the huge magnetic whiteboards, the rolly desks and desk chairs, and the gigantic flat screen monitor (used to show animators shots from Dragonframe in real time).

As the "animation troupe in residence" at the (coincidentally) circus-themed conference, we spent three long days in our animating studio. Teachers attending the conference jumped in both to observe the process and to get hands-on by making characters and animating. Some conference attendees spent a few minutes with us; others spent hours and returned day after day.

The storyboard for the visuals involves shots of clay, paper cut-outs, and dry erase marker drawings as well as time lapse and stop motion sequences. The fanciful and imaginative visuals will be paired with an audio document crafted from interviews with art educators at the conference. Exploring questions related to the importance of art education, what actually happens in the art classroom, and what larger lessons art educators hope to give their students through art education, the audio document takes a closer look at what art class really does for students at any grade level.

The weekend with AEI was packed full of animating and interviewing, but we also had the opportunity  to give a lecture to the entire crowd, do a screening the last night of the event, and make some new friends from all over the state!

After packing up and saying goodbye to our converted conference room turned animating studio, we returned to our Grinnell home base to edit the animation and prepare to head south for the winter. Stay tuned for the animation.

Trading In The Beast

Ten years ago I purchased a 2003 VW Jetta Wagon.  165K miles later it seemed that it was time to trade the loyal beast for a newer version.  The beast performed very well over the years and aged gracefully just recently showing signs of surface rust.

I called my friend Walt Young at FX Caprara VW and he found a perfect replacement for the beast.  Walt and I are both into making videos.  At the closing of the sales transaction, Walt pulled his video camera out and said, we are going to make a funny commercial.  So I played along.....  The following video is a collaborative piece.  I added the spooky intro, and inserted the zombie over Walt's portion of the video, and then added the cute clip of our dog Luna at the end.

Circus at Citizen Jane

Two weeks later, Tiny Circus is still feeling the buzz from this year's Citizen Jane Film Festival in Columbia, MO. Having been too busy animating during our last several years at Citizen Jane to actually experience much of the festival, we were grateful this year for the opportunity to kick back and enjoy some great films. We also got to know some awesome filmmakers as we interviewed them for next year's film festival bumpers. We asked them about the first films they ever made, and what kind of film they'd make now if they had unlimited time and budget.

We spent our weekend discussing what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated industry, and strategizing about alternative structures to the current model.

Katie and Sally spoke on a panel about collaboration. We collected lots of Citizen Jane gear. 

And we danced. And ate 2 a.m. biscuits, and explored a cave. Ken, our cave tour guide, came to see The History of War, The History of Curiosity, Ghost Trap, Age, and Creativity as they were screened in the Animated Shorts! program. 

This short film made by Stephens College student volunteers at the fest really captures the magic of the weekend. Thank you, Citizen Jane! We can't wait until next time. 

Autumn Laker

Alexandria Bay:

I shot this video last night while sipping on a beer at The Pointe, Bonnie Castle Resort.  Tons of videos out there with ships passing in front of Boldt Castle.  So I tried to make this one just a little different.....

Compassion defect

I write all these nice things here. Here's one that's less nice.


Overnight call on our labor floor starts at 5 pm. It's actually technically impossible for me to finish up at clinic and drive 25 minutes (traffic permitting) by 5 pm, so I'm always late, and I always arrive stressed, and feeling bad for the doctors who have already been there for 10 hours*. I usually start getting paged while negotiating the trafficor the parking - not by the MDs on L&D, who know I'm already rushing, but by patients, because their offices have closed.

 I finally get to Labor and Delivery, and I'm getting sign out on what is, of course (of course!) a very full board** of complicated patients with dysfunctional labors. I ask the day doctor to stay for five minutes more so I can run upstairs, and change into scrubs.

Except that there's construction upstairs, so there's no call room, and no scrub machine where they used to be. I find the other nighttime attending, and she shows me the scrub machine (relocated, but fine) and the new call room (relocated, and fetid).

During this lap of exploration around the upstairs hospital floor, my pager goes off. I call the page operator back, and get connected to the patient while struggling with the combination lock to get into the call room. She's five weeks pregnant,and has started spotting, and her doctor told her to call back later if it continued. I talk to her while I change out of my shirt: it's light bleeding, she doesn't know if she's Rh negative. I start telling her that her bleeding sounds pretty minor; that it's hard to tell what's going on without an ultrasound, and that regardless, there's not much we can do at this time. Inwardly, I'm cursing the doctor who told her to call back, because WHY? when I can do nothing for her, so THANKS BUDDY for not making a good plan for your patient. I tell the patient to sit tight, because although she can come in to the emergency room, she thankfully doesn't qualify as an emergency right now.

During this part of the discussion, I am having trouble maneuvering my shirt around my head, and I drop the phone. CLUNK. She's still there. I pick the phone up to to tell her not to worry too much, and how to know if she's bleeding too much, and when to come into the ED.

Someone starts opening my call room door. not dressed. I panic, and yell at the door: "I"m in here, don't come in, I'm not dressed". I blurt at the phone: "OK, so come in if you're bleeding-more-than-one-pad-an-hour-and-call-your-office-in-the-morning-for-an-ultrasound", then accidentally drop the phone again while trying to pull my pants on, which hangs up on her.

I open the door while tying my scrub pants and picking up my phone. It's my daytime colleague. One of the patients downstairs needs an urgent section, and she really shouldn't start it, or she'll never leave. I run downstairs, now dressed. I don't even remember about this 5-weeks-pregnant-with-spotting-lady until a week later. I think she might just hate me; that is understandable. I really hope she's ok.

 *Systems issue, I know. I'm not gonna fix it today. **The white board that we put patients on, and use to run L&D, and is generally the nerve center for the whole floor.

The Video Guy

Alexandria Bay:

During the last Blues In The Bay, I grabbed a few seemingly random video shots. I had them on my camera for a month before I uploaded them and then realized what I had.  Incriminating evidence!  I will admit that I am guilty of this same ruse. Pretending to video tape the cute dog or kid while secretly video taping a rather hot looking momma! It is a secret that us video guys have and it is one that I am willing to share with the world.  As a result, Walt Young has kicked me out of the Video Guy Club!  My only redemption.... buying Walt a nice bottle of Scotch... or you can go visit him at FX Caprara and buy a car from him..... tell him I sent you.......and maybe he will let me back into the Video Guy Club.....Please watch the video

Magical Life

I recently did a speaking engagement at an art retreat and several of the attendees asked that I post it on my blog.  So here it is.

Tips for a magical Life

First of all, find your joyful process.  Mine happens to be journaling.  But you may have more.  Recently, my joyful process has been focused on the process of transforming our living space.  More about this later (in another post).

So, if you can connect to your joyful process, you will connect with your passions which in turn will cause people to notice and then they will connect with that.  They will notice and connect whether it's through viewing your artwork, reading your blog, talking to you at the coffeeshop, etc.  Your passions will make you and what you do much more intoxicating and interesting.

The best artists are the ones who are constantly on the lookout for what makes the heart beat faster.  Be sure to sketch it, take a photo, make a note of it, or even post it (pinterest, Facebook, a blog).  This gives you vibrant inspiration which in turn will be seen in your work.

Put your art first.  Stay open.  Put in a TON of hard work.  Regard work as a fulfilling opportunity to be the person you want to be and have the life you want to live.  I love to work and lose my vitality when something gets in the way of it.  It's always been that way.  If work is a negative word for you, find a way to make it positive.  Magic will happen.

Rituals can help.  They help bring focus and energy to your day.  Some of mine include:

  • Coffee and journaling every morning.  This can be done at a coffee shop or at home (these days it's been at home).  I have a journaling desk that always has my open journal on it with some pens.
  • I prepare vegetables in the morning for the day.  I try to be in the moment while I am cutting them and washing them.  I notice their brilliant colors, textures, smells.  I try not to think about the day while I am doing this.  This makes meals so much easier and greatly reduces the amount of time to cook.  When I am barreling through the day, the last thing I want to do is bring my creating to a halt and spend an hour cooking.  It allows flow throughout the day.
  • I take a break about 3pm for a snack and read through my books and magazines for 15 minutes.  If I am tired, I take a nap instead.  This helps me to not get too obsessive with my work and projects and reminds me to stop and breathe.
Organization is the key to success.  Make your organizing time enjoyable by listening to music.  Be in the moment and enjoy the process.  I cannot stress enough the value of being organized.
  • Tidy when your studio is tidy (this would apply to your whole house too).  Don't let it get really bad.  Slow down and take that extra 5 minutes to put away your mess.
  • Get rid of stuff!  Clear out every cupboard, drawer, closet, room.  This is so simple to do and makes your life so much more magical.  LESS THINGS = CLEAR HEAD = BETTER CREATIVE FLOW.  Fill up large trash bags, take them to a charity center and smile all the way home.  As you are unloading clutter from your house, you are feeling lighter with every trip to the Goodwill.  Don't consider for a moment how much something is worth that you are getting rid of.  Instead focus on the fact that it's just the price you are paying for living a creative, flowing, magical that flows and allows you to breathe and be at peace.
It's all about the Flow.  You need flow in your body.  Your environment needs to flow.  Your artwork needs flow.  And of course your passions rely on flow.  Flow happens when stagnant energy is removed.  Clutter does not equal flow.  Cupboards that are packed with stuff is not flow.  Eating foods that aren't good for you is not flow.  Having too much in your home so you can't walk around freely is not flow.  You get the picture here.  Strive for flow in ALL areas of your life.

Goal setting is SO important too.  Write goals and "wants" down.  Say them out loud.  Know in your heart that they will happen.  Your list of goals is telling the Universe where to focus their energy.  So, think BIG!

It is hard for artists to have schedules.  I struggle with this.  But a rough outline can really help.  If you don't have a schedule, you can flutter away hours on the internet.  It also allows the time and space to work on everything in your life you want to make time for.  I would encourage you to sit down and write something out that includes everything you want to have time to do.  Change it as needed as you go, adding and deleting activities to make your ideal life.

Lastly, work really hard.  Don't wait for inspiration.  Be wary of other people telling you what to do or what you should do (even as I am sitting here doing just that by writing this manifesto).  ;)  We all intuitively know what we need to do.  Muster the energy within yourself to just make it happen.

When I had a real passion for something, it made me focus DEAD-ON!  And I worked really hard at that regardless of other interesting intrusions.  So, to summarize:
  • Find your Joyful Process
  • Connect with your Passions
  • Shoot for a state of Flow
  • Rituals are good to have
  • Organization is Key
  • Make a list of what you want in Life
  • Believe in the fact that you will get it
  • Work really hard
  • Stay Focused
  • Try to maintain a schedule

Newly Ordained: Deacon Joel

The Catholic Community Of Alexandria:

Yesterday at St. Mary's Cathedral in Ogdensburg, my brother-in-law Joel Walentuk along with 12 others from North Country Parishes , were ordained as Deacons by Bishop Terry R. LaValley.  Today these 13 men begin their ministries of The Word, Alter, and Charity. Many years of hard work and sacrifice by them and their families have led up to assisting in their first Mass today, and many more to come.  Congratulations to ALL... Please watch the video and Meet Deacon Joel


Town Of Alexandria:

I am unpredictable.  It is one of my many quirky behaviors that I like to use..... regularly. Just because I can, and I know it annoys some people [hopefully a lot of people].  I had a visit today from 3 town workers who support Andrew Davis.  They made a special effort to come talk to me, the mad blogger.  I am not really mad, just unpredictable and crazy with no ties to anyone or any group.... Some call it being Rogue.... I like that word.......R=O=G=U=E

I had already read the political pamphlet, which caused me to think and read it more closely a second time.  I listened to what the 3 town workers had to say, but more importantly, I took notice of what was not said.  I am not going to share either with you, I am just going to say, if they come knocking on your door, take some time and listen...... closely.......

Town Of Alexandria Highway Superintendent is going to be a hard seat to win.....  Most political races on this level are won based on family name and notoriety..... which is ok, as long as they possess the credentials and the finesse to get the job done with out the drama.....

I am not endorsing one over the other..... not that anyone really cares or hangs on my opinion.  All I am encouraging you to do is to make an educated vote........

Till election day..... my door is open, and so is my choice....

Update: after posing this story, I had a visit from Andy and his wife Holly..... we had a nice visit......

Circus Updates Via E-Mail

As you have noticed, I have not been updating the blog as often as I used to. The Reason?  I have other more important obligations with my family. I know it is a hassle to check a site only to find that there are no new stories and I also know that eventually people will stop checking in.  Updates on this blog will be sporadic, so why not sign up using the email update located on the top of the left column.  

Once you have entered your email address, you will be prompted by feed burner to enter a code and then click proceed.  You will then receive an email notification to verify your email address, click on that and you are ready to receive updates It is that easy.... now you will receive an email when ever I post a new story on the Circus.  By The way, this service does not allow me access to your email information.

Alone But Not Lonely

Some think that because I go out alone, that I must be lonely.
I do not need to travel with a group to feel secure!

Others think that I should crave their friendship, because they are so cool.
Sorry but you are not "all" that!

A few think that I am the most despised person in this village because I do not agree with your business ethics.
To bad you put your energy into a contradictory venture!

Some think that my opinion does not count because I have only lived here 21 years.
How many generations does  one have to live here to have an opinion?

Most think that they are hurting me with their glares and behind the back stabbings.
To bad you feel the need to resort to High School tactics!

You are misguided if you think that my life is somehow incomplete because I am not part of your clique. Your club is not as important as you think!

You are wrong on all accounts because I have my own conscientious, goals, and values and they do not include any of yours....

Final Days Of Summer

Alexandria Bay:

Fall is approaching fast and some die hard river rats took advantage of the final days of summer doing what they love to do..... being on the St. Lawrence River. Photo courtesy of Michele Walton..... a very cool shot.

Objects Are Closer Than They Appear


No, it is not Jenny's number [867-5309].  The 302-394-9555 number has shown up in my cell phone caller ID ever other day for the past 2 weeks.  No message is ever left.  I have called this number back.... there is a brief robotic message that tells me that someone will be with me, please hold on.... then the message stops.... no musac .... no propaganda.... just dead silence.  I did do a little research on this... and supposedly it is a land line number that originates in Wilmington Delaware.  Lots of people have been complaining about this number since early in 2012.  Has this number called your cell phone???  No other info is available..... ANNOYING!

Fog On The River

Alexandria Bay:

Paul Edgar took this photo early this morning:

Cool conditions by the river this morning.

Paul had this to say:  I took this picture from River Hospital. The fog coming off the river looks like a bunch of mini white tornado s up close. The Thousand Island Club is in the background "somewhere".

Cornell College Joins the Circus

Tiny Circus has begun its latest project in residence at Cornell College. Located in hilly Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Cornell College has a long and proud history of community and art.

While at Cornell College, the Circus is providing students with hands-on experience brainstorming, producing, and editing stop-motion animations a collaborative environment.

The Circus moves fast, but so do the students and faculty of Cornell. The production studio is up and running, and the creative team has already done a quick introductory animation with one of Tiny Circus' recurring characters, Billy Circus.

The animation station set up and ready to go.

This month, the Circus crew plans to shoot a series of short animations on the topic of the Seven Deadly Sins. Deciding to limit set-making and animating to only the medium of paper, the group has found a variety of captivating ways to construct and shoot some scenes about sin.

The Circus will conclude the month with an appearance at Mount Vernon's Lincoln Highway Arts Festival . Thanks to the hard work of students at Mount Vernon, you can be sure to stay tuned for some of the most sinful stop-motion you've ever seen.


Was the one word text message I received on my phone tonight.  Really? Really?  The sender could not have dropped the "s" and added a more sincere "you", making it Thank You?  Even when someone is upset with something I have done they just do not send me the word *@#k but they personalize it with *@#k  You! Oh well,  Thank You Very Little

DOUG "WOODstock"

October 6th.... keep this date open and come and share in a celebration of the Life Of Doug Wood.  An all day concert to benefit Sterling and Storm Wood....

Zany Outlandish and Foolish

Those are some pretty accurate descriptors of the local town politics.  You could also add stubborn, ruthless, selfish and so on.  If by chance any of the candidates are entering the political arena to make a positive change, then I applaud you.  However be aware that if the person that runs this town and village does not want you to implement those changes then all your good intentions will die "on the floor" with your motion.  I am not going to get into who he is, just go back and read that wonderful letter to the editor that is circulating around.  He only controls the weak minded and I am never going to become one of his minions.

I have been watching the local politics for several years.  The village has made some progress, along with making corrections as a result of the Comptrollers Audit.  The town on the other hand is mired with bullies, thugs and idiots.  Maybe there will be some change after the election.  But I sincerely doubt it.... not with one man operating all those puppet strings.  I would like to say that I am done with politics, but lets just say I am taking a respite from all the slime.

In Memory Of Douglas W. Wood

I will miss you Doug Wood. One of my best memories was working together on a string quartet score, for the song "Searching" off the 1st BuoyRocker CD. I basked in the glow of feeling your satisfaction and pride, that came with something you had always dreamed of accomplishing. ~ David Knapp

Doug my friend, you are where I will travel someday, many memories with you. So its ok, go in peace knowing, that you have touched so many. You will always be in our lives. ~S.M.

Doug Wood taught us how to laugh and that laughter is the best medicine. ~ R.S.

In 2000 Doug was asked to write the score for the String Quartet part in this BuoyRocker song titled "Searching".  Doug spent weeks writing and developing this score and then directed Agnes McCarthy and the Trillium Quartet, something he always wanted to do.  I was asked to build a video around this song in Memory Of Doug Wood.......

Convenient Care @ River Hospital

Alexandria Bay:

Just before her belly flop dive at the recent Rotary Fund Raiser, I spotted Convenient Care Nurse, Marcia Graves all dressed up doing some great "PR" for this time and cost saving service.  I have used it on several occasions and I guess the best way to describe it... just like the name says.... CONVENIENT. The video of Marcia that I captured describes just what Convenient Care is all about.....

Rotary Fund Raiser "Making A Splash" 2013

Alexandria Bay:

Second Annual, Alex Bay Rotary Belly Flop/Cannon Ball fund raiser makes a big splash during the "Rockin' The Bay Music Weekend Event. Here is a sampling of the jumpers from this years fund raiser..... Johnny Spezzano did a great job as Master Of Ceremonies.... Please watch the video all the way to the end...... there are some cool still shots of the floppers in Mid-Air...


Things are hard at work. It would be easy to say that this was because I'm working too much, and this has been true.

But it's more correct to say that I had a particularly terrible night on call last week, with several truly horrible things happening. I can tolerate the ones that are not my fault - I didn't cause the intrauterine fetal demise, or the terrible laceration, or the 19 week previable delivery. But some of the others are...well, not my fault, exactly, but suboptimally managed, shall we say, which is doctor euphemism for "some bad s**t went down."

In any case, I find myself really shaken right now. It would, actually, be easier not to go back to work for a good, long time.

One Week Left till the fun starts

 The final run of The Mermaid Circus will be starting in a week and we still have a few spots left. We are limiting the size this time due to a more managable facebook group for everyone to share in. I'm not one to toot my own horn, but this IS a fantastic experience and one that won't be repeated. Even if you don't like circus's OR mermaids, there is so much great information to apply to your work. We have even been approached about doing a book on it, it's that awesome. Neither of us have enough time to devote to a book so if you want to see it, this is your last chance. For the amount of sheer lessons and the fact that you don't have to travel anywhere to take this, it's a great opportunity. hope to see you in the classroom.

Make A Big Splash

Alexandria Bay:

Representatives from the A-Bay Rotary  were interviewed this morning on WWNY-TV.  Promoting the Big Splash Belly Flop Contest that is part of the Rockin' The Bay Weekend Event.

Here is a video from Last Years Contest


<$BlogPageTitle$> <$BlogItemBody$>

BEWARE! Cuteness Is Infectious

<$BlogPageTitle$> <$BlogItemBody$>

Choose Stability and Reliability

<$BlogPageTitle$> <$BlogItemBody$>


Town Of Alexandria:

Bloggers Note: Yes,  I know I am not a Republican and have no say or vote in the Primary.  However, I believe in electing the best candidate, not the party or popular candidate.  We get enough of the popular and party candidates shoved down on throats at the Federal Level.  We do not need that here!

Big Journaling for Big Intentions

Call of the wild soul is a retreat that first started in england.  I had the honor of being one of the teachers at that event and it was an amazing experience.  Erin Faith Allen has combined art with the deeper aspects of the soul to create an event that will expand your awareness and talent exponentially.  When asked if I would come to Petaluma in Nov., I didn't hesitate to say YES!  I approach this retreat differently than I do my other workshops in that I let it ALL out...I dive deep to tell you where my art, images and techniques really come from and how to access that secret ingredient yourselves so that your artwork and your everyday lives really sing!

 This workshop is more about paint and crayons as opposed to my normal "collage and pens" style I usually teach.  
hope to see you there.

8 new ones

A lot of what I'm thinking and writing these days is about grief, and prayer, and religion. Some of it is angry, which is ok by me, but is not really nice.

Regardless, the subject matter is not really appropriate for here, so I've started another blog for it. Nobody needs to read it - this seems to be part of how I process - but if you're interested, email me at and I'll send you the link.

I'll be back here, by and by. I think that's how this grieving process is supposed to work, anyway.

Tiny Circus Returns from the Super Fantastic RAGBRAI Tour

After an exciting eight day long tour with the Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), the Tiny Circus has returned to Grinnell. Each day involved setting up our animation tent in overnight towns along the route to allow the riders and locals to participate in our animation, as well as participate in interviews about their RAGBRAI experience and the community it has to offer. 

Animating tent getting prepared for the day.

Day three of RAGBRAI was our big animating day in Des Moines. Instead of our usual animating station we set up a sky jack in front of the capitol building to animate people! The sky jack allowed us to shoot photos of everyone from above.

Two Circus-ers shooting and directing on the sky jack. 

Participants on the ground and in position for animating.
 In each town people of all ages and backgrounds showed up to our tent to help make paper characters for the animation project. Once they were done making their character, they had the opportunity to take it to the animating table and learn how to do stop-motion animations.

Participants at the making table.

Jenny and Katie demonstrating how our process works at the animating table. 

We received a lot of super fantastic help from participants in each town and we thank everyone who came by.  Now that we're home we'll be going through all of the animations and interviews we collected along the way to begin the editing process.  Please check back soon to see the finished Super Fantastic RAGBRAI animation! 


When I don't make it to kaddish, I feel bad. I don't feel bad because I forget that he was alive. I forget that he is dead.

Why should this make me feel guilty? But it does.

Everyone tells me that saying kaddish (or trying to) is not the same as mourning. Don't get confused, they say. Going to prayer services three times a day (or as many as one does) is not the same as grief.

But there were days I couldn't go last week* because The Bearded Economist was on a business trip. And it turned out that I can sometimes forget that I am a mourner. Or, more explicitly, an orphan, or at least half of one. And then when I am reminded, it feels suddent, and it twists.

Better to do it every day. Maybe I'll learn.

I don't get to three services a day. I did for a while, and I planned to do so for the first month after his death, because that's a particularly important period in the Jewish mourning ritual. I was foiled by some unwelcoming experiences, but I also think that maybe it had to stop? Because it was leaving The Bearded Economist to get the children ready in the morning as well as to bed at night.

It's like the prayer services were engineered to give men an out on the hardest parenting times of day. But also, I missed my kids.

Anyway, now I try to go once a day, three times a day on the weekend, when I can pray with my chosen community. I think that's what I'll probably do for this time, this eleven months of kaddish.

When I was going to morning services, I was tired, so tired. Waking up to get to 6:20 am services left me very, very low on sleep. I probably would have stopped going in the morning, anyway. This way, I can blame the difficulties on the community that I tried, however briefly and superficially, to join. Maybe they did me a favor, is what I'm trying to say. Thanks for the deep and painful rejection.

Ah, it is too hard. I miss my father very much. You know, we disagreed a lot, politically and religiously and everythingly. And in the later years, he could be very difficult, precisely because he was sick, although still going to work and still enjoying life and still travelling. But he was not very good at being sick. And I think he was angrier than he liked to admit, and more withdrawn.

And he made me crazy. Frustrated, crazy. We couldn't talk much.

But then he got sicker, and that crystallized things. I love him a lot, it turns out. I told him that a lot; and I hope he really heard it. I think I maybe joked around too much when I said it, because that's what we do. I think he understood. I think so.

You know, if you had asked me what my father thought of me lately, I would have said that he loved me, but that  it was mutual - that I kind of made him crazy. I was a  pain in his tuches*, you know? We had a hard time talking on the phone, or in person, about anything much besides his grandchildren. Even then, I think, the conversations would degenerate. Usually I would lash out.

My mom was looking, with my brother, for her marriage license. It's the first toehold in the paperwork mountain that his death has left, that she has to climb to get to her new life, whatever that may look like, and she was having trouble finding it. So my mother and my brother emptied out the ancient creaking filing cabinet in the corner of my parents' bedroom. And they found the marriage license, but they also found letters that my father had written to each of us. He underwent a triple cardiac bypass surgery 14 years ago, and what I didn't realize is how much he thought he was going to die. So he wrote us all letters, letters to tell us how much he loved us and why.

Mine is a beautiful letter, although I'm not sure he finished it. He tells me how much he loves me, and it's left without coda or signature. But then we got the following 14 years, so maybe that was his coda and his signature. I'm lucky to have those, I tell myself, but I don't feel lucky. I just feel sad.

It's a letter where he specifically tells me how much he loves me - me qua me - not just because I'm his oldest daughter and I made him a parent, or because I was a good student, or because of...well, anything. Just love because I'm me.

I read the letter and I can't stop crying. I can't read it again, and it's too precious to put anywhere. What do you do with things like this? I want to frame it and look at it every day; I want to put it in a steel safe and bury it. I want to burn it and send it to heaven, all at the same time.

What it turns out I've been doing is that I've been getting through by pretending he didn't love me much, at the end anyway, and that he didn't die. But neither of those things are true. He loved me - he loved us - so very much. He didn't want to go, and he tried so very hard to stay. But he is gone.

So I have the letter. I have the kaddish. I suppose I'll learn.

But right now it's just too hard.

*My brothers and sisters had it covered. We have a google calendar, of course. 
**Also tush, or tushie, or butt. 

The party of the Year!

In case you all haven't heard yet, Tracy and I were asked to be the guest speakers at the Petaluma, CA. retreat called Art Is You.  We have heard good things about this event from teachers who have taught at  our events (Artfest, Journalfest) so we were thrilled to find out we get to hang out with all our friends again.  We are throwing in a fun workshop that is free to all attendees during the opening night party.  There will even be cake!  Friends, fun, art and cake...what more could anyone want?!  We will also have some fun stuff for sale during the vendor night as well.  Hope to see you all there!

The circus is coming! The circus is coming!

The first time the Mermaid Circus came to town, it was incredible.  The art that was produced was crazy good.  Not only were our students inspired by our videos but everyone was inspired by each other as well.  It was amazing as you can see from these photos below (all were created by students).

 These photos from students are just a tiny little sampling from the facebook group postings thatwas a part of the workshop.

The Circus is COMING BACK TO TOWN!!!  
If you missed it before, you won't want to miss it this time around.  It starts on Sept. 2nd.  For those who were in the workshop before, there will a couple new videos from me as well as a $50 discount to re-enroll.  click on the link below to learn more.