The amusing problem of a 5 yr old having an extensive vocabulary is that some words fall sideways into their brain.
"Can I go outside and play in the snow? I'll get all bungled up! Do I have to wear a scarp?"


#fridayflash "Family Ties"

It started almost imperceptibly, after she had unexpectedly become the single parent of too many kids. Small breaks for contemplation over a cigarette and a cup of coffee lasted longer. Moments of introspection lengthened into mornings of mulling and afternoons of inaction. She was letting go of exercising her maternal obligations in favor of the internal occupation of thinking about them. Hard decisions, bad memories and fears plied for her attention alongside hopes, fantasies and recollections - and ruminating on these had become an addiction. She thought incessantly on ways to keep her family safe and well cared for with only one parent. She was their mother, it was her obligation.

As some of her brood got older and more able to handle the daily routine without her help, she had more time to think about how she shouldn’t let the children do all the work. The children would say her name three or four times before she would hear it. Her irritation was evident in the sharp snap of her reply or the slicing redirection of her gaze from the window to the intrusive child. Alternatively, she’d often let a child sit on her lap while her hand would gently stroke their arm or hair in time to some invisible metronome. They thought of her as a loving mother because of those moments. That she would, perhaps once a week, sit them all down for lengthy and repetitive lectures on How to Be a Good Child in the Face of Adversity, showed them that she cared.

The smaller children figured out that if they waylaid her coming out of the bathroom or getting back from a cigarette run, they might get to occupy her attention for a short while before she was drawn inexorably back to the chair. There were more and more days that she would answer the older children’s questions, but in a dazed manner, as if she’d been struck on the head recently or was just coming out of a faint and wasn’t sure where she was at the moment. There were nights when she never made it to bed. One of the smaller children would make a midnight potty trip and see the glow of her cigarette reflecting off the windowpane, and a pang of loss would clench their heart. Misunderstanding that pang for fear, they’d hurry back into bed and hold tightly to their bears or blankets until falling back to sleep. She had begun to slightly frighten some of the children, but she was unaware of it. For her part, when she noticed a small child padding from the bathroom at night, she was wracked with guilt over the state of their sad little lives, or the fact that they didn’t call to her for help anymore. She didn’t understand why she’d lost them, so she would contemplate that as well.

The school officials dealt endlessly with behaviorally difficult children and parents, so her quiet and unobtrusive family was somewhat of a relief, regardless of the fact she never showed up to the children’s concerts or conferences. It was all too easy for her to continue, even intensify, her introspective ways. The eldest children graduated but continued living at home to “help out”. They’d hold family meetings and discuss important matters by her chair, more out of respect than necessity because they rarely could break her reverie. The children took good care of her - fixing her food, which would often sit for hours unnoticed unless someone took away the coffee and cigarettes , at least until she’d get a few grudging bites in her mouth. Only the braver children would take away her necessities though, risking the cuss words hissed through clenched teeth, flashing eyes and invariably repentant tears at having been mean to one of her children. Years passed by and nothing much changed except the children’s height.

It started almost imperceptibly, after she had stopped caring for herself altogether. Through the years, small trinkets and fresh flowers had often been left on the table by her chair from this or that child, as tokens of their love. But now that she needed her personal hygiene attended to, the children made small changes. Increasingly, she was dressed in more colorful houserobes and wore more jewelry. She had become a sort of living icon, enshrined on her chair with her cigarette smoke curling through the air like incense. They brushed her hair until it gleamed, and applied soft make-up to her wan cheeks. They kept her safe and well cared for between them all. She was their mother, it was their obligation.


#fridayflash "Letter to the Editor"

To the Editors of Gourmet Trends,

We, here at GenetiFoods Corporation, would like to set the record straight regarding your brief article about our new line of treats. We are not the “barbaric overachievers” of the food industry, nor are we “blithe caterers to the X-omnis”, as your magazine erroneously labeled our corporation and our endeavors in the last issue (May 2120). We cater to all vores and do not ally ourselves with nor show preference to any specific group. (In fact, our efforts in creating more products for the insectivores are unparalleled – and everyvore knows that they are the toughest consumer market of all, with their overabundance of naturally occurring, albeit highly distasteful, food supply.) By designating us as “barbaric”, you designate our global customers as barbarians!

GenetiFoods Corp. does not overachieve, but rather we simply strive to feed the people. Our vast array of meticulously formulated consumables has withstood the test of time – from the early years of genhanced meats and vegenmatter to better feed growing global populations through the Famine War, to keeping up with supply and demand through the dark Green Age, and continues today in these times of highly demarcated consumer vore-factions. We are a global corporation retaining amazing longevity and the continued trust of all the vores. We have always been at the forefront of the Consumption Question – spearheading bold, and may we add successful, moves in the genetic engineering of new food products, safely and consistently.

Considering the latest atrocities committed by the extremist vore-factions of omnis and veguerillas (which epitomize barbarity, with their growing propensity towards mutual elimination, the latter in a vindictive reversal of long-held morals with its “eat the hunter” campaign), we feel strongly that our good name not be allied with any such extremist groups. Please retract your statements publically and without delay.

We would hope that our new line of tasty treats, e.g. JelliedBears and Elecones, inspires some revitalization of joie de vivre in the various vore markets. The older vores amongst us can attest to having made it a long way in a short time regarding global satiation, and more’s the pity to backslide into the Green Age-mentality of “feed to live” rather than enjoy one’s food – which is what we thought your publication is trying to overcome.

Adiro Helesthion Grubenhoff III, CEO
GenetiFoods Corporation

(story and illustration both by me)



I just watched, found kind of by chance*, a cool film called 'Gigantic' with a nifty cast (including awesome part played by Ed Asner!) and good soundtrack. It is one of those slightly odd movies with lots of interesting characters, half of which you either wish you were or wish were part of your life.

Insanely expensive mattresses, shroom tea, Chinese baby adoption, possibly imaginary stalker, dictator piñatas and ... Well, worth seeing, in my opinion. Yay for the unexpected entertainment!

* #1 daughter was in the mood for an easy-going romance film, so we searched by genre and looked at 'Gigantic' because it's the name of a great Pixies song. We then saw Zooey Deschanel's name and felt one good omen double, then triple with Ed Asner, and quadruple with John Goodman. We didn't recognize Paul Dano's name, but he was excellent in the lead.


Two Score

I am 40 years old today.
I wish it felt more magical or surreal, but I'm not as surprised by the lack of magic in the world anymore. Maybe that's what getting middle-aged is ... The realization that 99.9% of the time 'this is all there is'. The other .01% is what keeps you going, hoping, searching, waiting and observing.

It's kind of pathetic, but in an endearing way. Castles of sand, that kind of thing.

Now.. where's my coffee cup? I've got mundanities to avoid.


#fridayflash - Stuck

Standing to one side, I watched the crouched figure remove a nail from between its lips. The figure swiveled slightly, sweeping its gaze past me just for a moment. The opaque eyes panned the landscape beyond without searching or wavering. I might have been a fleeting emotion; untouched, unobserved and unable to connect with this consumed being.

Slowly, it placed the nail on top of its pale foot and brought the hammer down in one precise swing. No hesitation in the movement, no acknowledgement of pain, only deep involvement in the process. Nail from lips, to foot, swing of hammer and repeat the process. The figure’s tortured feet bristled with the consecrated nails. The ground beneath was a red reflective pool of form, action and indifference.

I shut my eyes to the void where anguish should be, and opened them to the dim light of my office. My throat was dry when I spoke.

“It seems your parents requested this meeting, yes?”

Giving the file an explanatory nudge, I glanced over at the young woman sitting across from me in the over-stuffed chair. My question hung in the air, as expected. I was the last hope after neuroscientists, psychiatrists and shamans. I was the traveler to her living purgatory. But I wasn’t her hope.

“I’m sorry.” Pausing for gentle emphasis, I continued, “I cannot help you.”

My senses intensified to gage her reaction - a honed response from having issued this innocuous finality before. The young woman continued to mindlessly regard the carpet, picked for its soothing blend of soft colors and simple patterns. The decorator had done well, but the lack of vitality in the office was almost obtrusive. Or perhaps I was still dealing with remnants of the girl’s psyche.

I paged the attendant to escort the young woman back to her room.
Gazing at her parent’s number on top of the closed file, I reached for the telephone handset. My mind conjured up the vision of a hammer swinging down resolutely. My knuckles went to my eyes, rubbing ineffectively to erase the visual that looped quietly in my head.

(story & illustration by me)


... for my listening pleasure

Having written previously about my lack of tenacity concerning new interests/projects, I would like to mention one abiding interest - podcasts!

I've had my Zune for over 2 years (upgraded once) and here is the short list of podcasts that I continue to listen to religiously:

This American Life A stimulating weekly radio/TV/free podcast, centered around changing weekly themes and stories that illustrate that theme.

The Moth Great unrehearsed stories direct from the storyteller, spoken in front of a live audience. My favorite podcast!

PRI: Selected Shorts Wonderfully narrated works of short fiction in front of a live audience.

I highly recommend all three of the above. While I have listened to many various other podcasts and found them entertaining, none have stood the test of time quite as well.

An honorable mention goes to the following, as a kind of guilty pleasure:

Smodcast Kevin Smith & Scott Mosier (the movies Dogma, Clerks, Jay & Silent Bob, etc.), waxing unpoetic and often quite lascivious about anything and everything, but hilarious enough to keep me laughing on long drives. Not for the prude!

Other podcasts have either fallen by the wayside or are so hit-and-miss that I hesitate to recommend them, and a few more are still in testing stages.

Within the last few months I've also become a member of Audible, and have been enjoying audiobooks regularly (which has cut down on my podcast time). I did find that I'm picky as hell concerning the voice of the narrator. I'd give Neil Gaiman first place as best narrator, and second place goes to Shaun Dooley, who sadly only has narrated 3 books that I can find - hopefully more are in the works. Maybe that's another blog post.

Oh, where's the Esperanto podcasts you ask? Good question, beyond a few radio shows from various countries, the net is powerfully lacking in Esperanto podcasts. If anyone knows of any - let me know!


Cat on a Butterfly Farm


I'm learning to accept my character (flaw?) of being constantly distracted by new projects/interests, while rarely sticking to them. One can only receive gently amused looks from friends and family members for so long before accepting certain facts.
I've decided that it isn't a bad thing, as if I could stop myself somehow...


kurta penso

Nu, mi lernas Esperanton kaj nun ĝi iĝas pli malfacila. Mia filino ankaŭ lernas, sed ŝi ne ŝatas paroli, nur skribu kaj legu ĝin.
Multaj personoj helpas nin, el tuta mondo! Mi havas novamikojn kiujn parolas Esperanton el Tŭitero, Lernu.net kaj Facebook. Kelkfoje, mi iris al babilejo kaj parolu kun esperantistoj. Mi supozas ke ĝin estos facila kun pli laboro.


Duluth Bear

Duluth Bear
Originally uploaded by hojpoj.
This bear sits outside Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Canal Park, Duluth MN. It's kind of a mini Duluth icon... Maggie just got 6 stitches on her chin from a run-in with a post, which explains the bandaging on her face.


Monday Morning

It's been a ridiculously annoying morning and I haven't even had a cup of coffee yet. I woke up, with a start, at 6:22am to the sound of Kate's door shutting. I looked around and saw a pile of dog poop on the carpet, which I cleaned up while snarling at Kiko. I took him out and noticed the sky looked like impending rain. Kiko did nothing except get bird white wash on his nose. I brought him in and flopped back on the couch. Kate came out and said she woke up too early, so she heads downstairs to watch TV. Why didn't she take out the dog when she first woke up? She says didn't know she should, even though I've asked her every day for a week. Kiko whined at the stairwell. I laid there and tried to relax... I look up again to catch Kiko in the act of defiling my carpet again. Had he been whining to go out or because his Kate was downstairs? I jumped up snarling and threw him outside. Cleaned up the mess and laid back down again, only to notice it was just starting to sprinkle outside. Screw the dog - let him get wet.
I started to wonder when Kate had to catch the bus, so I got up and asked her - 10 more minutes. Laid there, counting the seconds. Kate came up, and got an umbrella because it was raining a bit harder. She left, and I lay there a short while then decide to get the dog in - but as I walk towards the back door, I see the top of an umbrella through the window. What?!? I opened the door to see Kate, who had missed the bus. Not her fault, of course - it drove right past, earlier than usual, as she was crossing the main street. Growling and cussing, I tell her to bring the dog in and dry him off while I got my jacket on to go. It starts pouring in earnest. Grab the dog (no one is awake to watch him, kennel too small) and we all get in the Durango. It won't start, imagine that - doesn't like wet days. Try again, again, again and again. Finally it shudders to life, and I let it run to warm it up a bit. The windshield fogs up as we head out. Sheets of rain, lots of cars, smelly wet dog, and two nettlesome people. Drop off the kid and head home almost, but not quite, chuckling at my day thus far.

I'm home now, and the coffee is ready.


Thoughts ATC

Thoughts ATC
Originally uploaded by hojpoj.
Finished this today... I like it so much, I probably won't be trading or selling it. I'm learning to KEEP the ones I really like, prints can always be made later.


Pink Elephant

Elecone ATC
Originally uploaded by hojpoj.
Here's another entry into a surrealism swap I'm taking part in.


Stuck ATC

Stuck ATC
Originally uploaded by hojpoj.
For a surrealism swap, this figure's been haunting my sketchbooks for awhile now.


Mime in Small Box ATC

Mime in Small Box ATC
Originally uploaded by hojpoj.
Done for a personalized trade - gave me lots of trouble! I'm not used to drawing people - even painted people.

But, it turned out alright.


Year of the Rabbit

Year of the Rabbit
Originally uploaded by hojpoj.
First rabbit card done by request for a personalized swap - it was my first swap and it was FUN!


Twisty Roots

Twisty Roots
Originally uploaded by hojpoj.
We went back to Jay Cooke State Park today, on a different trail. It was full of moss and very cool cedars with roots like these.


one of THOSE trees

one of THOSE trees
Originally uploaded by hojpoj.
I could spend a load of time staring at this tree, with the river running behind it and the waterfall off to the right... *happy sigh*

I think it's a cedar.

Taken in Amnicon Falls State Park in Northern Wisconsin.


A hike a day...

reinforces my love of the outdoors and my fear of heights. The picture was taken on the Munger Trail southwest of Duluth, MN.

I also joined Twitter, which was kind of silly - since I have lost most of my internet friends over the years (15th year online!) and can't seem to find them. Ah well.

I was accepted to join IllustratedATCs.com which is way cool, but it's kind of difficult to figure out how to use. We'll see - lotsa swaps and exceptional artists on there, though.


The Two Chefs

Maggie getting a lesson in the fine art of bread making with Kathee. Beautifully made aprons by Jill.


mmm... Cookies

Oatmeal craisin! Our treat for a night of Mexican Train and good company.

Nice shootin', Tex

Nice shootin', Tex
Originally uploaded by hojpoj.
First target practice this spring (my Taurus PT 92, 9mm - 12 yds).

I'm no gun fanatic, hold no particular political views on it, nor do I shoot anything but paper. I just like to shoot at targets - it's fun.

That being said - WOOO! Happy with my first target day in over 6 months.


Early moss

Happy! Lush moss everywhere... on the Munger trail today with husband, daughter and dog.


Tonight's Entertainment

Shadowmaster's Tattooing in Cloquet... My sister-in-law's first tattoo!

Took 4 hours, mostly because it was her own design so the artist had to do her own sketches, work out details, etc. In the end - it was worth it. Hopefully I'll have pics of the tat soon.

The artist, Maura, was nifty. I might be going back to get some work done on an old tattoo of mine that needs sprucing up. She's my #1 pick now - since I haven't really been drawn to any other tattoo joint in the area.


Munger Trail Dogwalk

My nifty brother with his Otto and my Kiko on the Munger Trail - a short hike from our neighborhood.


Overheard conversation

Daughter (4): What do you want to do?
Son (14): I dunno.
Daughter: No! What do you want to do?
Son: Flush you down the toilet.
Daughter: Nooo!
Son: *picking her up and heading towards bathroom* C'mon - it'll be fuuun!
Daughter:*squealing and giggling* noooooo!
Son: Sure! There's LOTS of other Maggies down there - just like you!



Maggie at Sunshine Cafe

Miss Thang

blah blah blah

I took Maggie all over creation yesterday. Out to eat at Sunshine Cafe, where she was fauned over by the owner. Maggie drew a picture and it went up on the wall - she was so proud! Then we toodled here and there, did this and that. She got a fancy new nightgown that looks like a fairy dress. She LOVES it. Later, she became squeevil and commenced to get in much trouble for this and that towards evening. Rotten, ungrateful child. I was tough though, and wouldn't let her get away with it. She didn't get to wear her new nightgown/dress until today.

She was supposed to go to daycare today, but since she's been invited over for a sleepover with Caryn, I thought it best to keep her home so they don't wear out of each other so quickly. We'll (me, Carly, Maggie) will head over there around 7pm and big kids will play Mexican Train while the wee ones frolic and fight.

Hopefully, it will be fun. Last time it wasn't, the time before it was - always such a gamble.

Carly's art project she's been working on, the one with faces on black paper, is complete and her art teacher loved it so much, she matted it for her while Carly was away, then gave it to her. Carly is SO SO proud. We're getting a frame when she comes home from school, and we'll hang it in the living room. Which she is also extremely thrilled about. She's a-beam whenever it's discussed. Tamra saw it, got teary eyed and gave Carly a hug and said "law enforcement?!? bah - what a waste!" all snortily. Carly positively GLOWED. It is fun to watch her GLOW.

And it's chilly with flurries today. *grumble* All week, the dog and Maggie have enjoyed being out in the balmy weather. Now it's over.

Oh! I also sold an art card from my explexia.etsy.com shop, which was surprising, since I haven't promoted at all or done anything really - except relist last year's nonsold items until I can make more. Yay!



Yesterday, I was poking around on Amazon, because I had a coupon and bought 6 books for Maggie, with free shipping. I got:

The Funny Little Woman by Arlene Mosel (one of my most favorite books from childhood - she laughs "tee hee hee" and has a magic spoon that can make unlimited rice dumplings, and escapes the Wicked Oni from underground - it's like an Asian folk story)

A Beasty Story by Bill Martin Jr. (looked good)
The Granny-Man by Judy Schachner (same one who writes the Skippyjon Jones books, about an old Siamese cat who gets a new lease on life when they bring a kitten in for him to teach)
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. (Little's favorite childhood book)
Don't You Feel Well, Sam? by Amy Hest (another in the Sam books like Maggie's Kiss Goodnight)
Barn Dance! by Bill Martin (looked really good, about what happens in the barn after people go to sleep, has something to do with a scarecrow, too.)

Then from a non-Amazon seller for $11 because it's not in print anymore:

A Little Book of Little Beasts by Mary Ann Hoberman (my absolute all-time favorite childhood poem book.. 'pollywiggle pollywog, tadpole bullfrog, leaps on long legs, jug-o-rum jelly eggs, eats flies spied by flicker eyes...' I still can recite many of them!)

And until right now, I didn't have any inkling that I got 3 books by Bill Martin Jr... wow, odd.

Anyhow, Maggie's been getting 3-4 bedtime books read to her a night so I'm stoked that she FINALLY is interested, and couldn't help getting her some new ones for her own collection. YAY! I would have gotten tons more, but just put them on my shopping list for another time.


Steps forward

I've reopened my Explexia shop on Etsy, with nothing new added so far - just previous inventory from before my move to Duluth, MN. Amazingly, it's as if I never stopped selling.. my same hovering over the shop, anxiety over what to create and the lurking about in various areas of the Etsy community has started. But, I'm feeling a bit less worried about it - not too concerned with promotion or anything. It's all just There.

Sadly, I can't reopen the Hojpoj site yet, because all my finished pieces are buried yards deep beneath summer equipment and boxes in the garage - I can't get to them without supreme hassle, much less create a workspace. The whole work area will have to be revisited in warmer weather. So, the stained glass is on major hold.

Meanwhile, I find myself trying to figure out my daily schedule. When to do art?


Layoff and irresponsible acquisitions

Well, I've joined the thousands of others who've been laid off. Luckily, my husband is still working and my job wasn't a huge contribution monetarily - more of a therapy for me to which I could escape. Now is a good time for me to get the house in better order, get the puppy we've been eyeing, spend time working on a few other projects, etc.

The economy is scarier every day. Sheesh. And here I am adding to the family with a dog. Ah well.