I’ve been able to concentrate for the first time in months – years maybe – so I thought I’d swing by with these offerings.

On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwen

Typically bizarre McEwan novel but remarkably easy to read and posing some interesting moral/emotional dilemmas.

Life Class – Pat Barker

If you can handle the unswervingly savage detail, London’s Slade Art School in the build up to WW1 and how art and life mix and merge with destruction and beauty I’d give this a go because it’s brilliant. Ultimately what is ‘reality’ and what ‘matters’ when the world is at war – do we have to change (and should we?) how we look at art, society, civilisation etc.

Somme Mud – The Experiences of an Infantryman in France, 1916 – 1919 – E.P.F. Lynch: Edited by Will Davis

Edward Lynch was an Australian soldier who enlisted in 1916 and filled 20 school exercise books with his experiences – it’s quite remarkable.

The Secret Life of  Bees – Sue Monk Kidd

I’ve only just got round to this and I was so moved by it, wonderful characters and a terrible indictment of the treatment of negroes in the United States at the time of Martin Luther King. I don’t know how ‘academics’ viewed this novel  – I don’t much care, there’s so much to applaud and it’s deliciously heart warming.

Lucky Kuntz – The Rise and Fall of Young British Art – Gregor Muir

I imagine this speaks for itself but if you’ve ever wondered about the whole ‘dead cow’,  ‘soiled beds’  and installations = modern art controversy it’s interesting and informative.

The Secret Scripture – Sebastian Barry

The central character is almost 100 years old and she’s reflecting on her life in an Irish mental hospital where she was committed as a young woman. I’d recommend this for the prose style alone which is exquisite but the story so far is engrossing.

The last two actually count as one because I’m dipping in and out of the Art book  when I take a break from devouring ‘The Secret Scripture’ and besides some of you will surely remember my philosophy on life -: “What is the good of a rule, thought Jan, without those who break them!”  Whooooooo hooooo!

 - work in progress

- work in progress

Taking up the brush this new year.

for all the kiddies everywhere

Happy  Birthday, dear fellow crone.  Fran

Here’s the starter for a round robin story. Just jump right in and add a bit, or more than a bit, and we’ll see what sort of fun story we come up with! – She Wolf

I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “And pigs might fly”, which people say when they mean, “Well, that’s impossible!” Well, this pig did fly, so it clearly wasn’t as impossible as those pessimists thought…

Once upon a time, there was a flying pig. He lived on a small farm with a farmer, his wife and their young and growing family. The pig liked being able to fly; it meant that he could get the juicy apples still growing on the trees instead of the old rotten ones on the ground underneath the tree, and the sweet corn growing on the other side of the fence, which was no barrier for him. As a result, he was a fine, fat pig instead of rather scrawny like the other pigs from his litter.

The farmer liked the fact that he was a fine, fat pig, but was rather disgruntled by the fact that the pig was always getting into the best apples and corn and so forth when his young and growing family wanted to eat the same apples and corn. And he had no idea what a novelty the flying pig was, or he might not have decided, one fine autumn day well into butchering season, that it was time to have the pig feed his family instead of his family feeding the pig.

The farmer looked at the pig, who was currently circling a tree in the orchard, hunting for an overlooked apple, and had a vision of bacon, and ham, and spare ribs. Keeping an eye on the pig, he went to the shed for something to catch him with and then he slowly walked towards the pig, hiding a rope behind his back.

But the pig, with the sixth sense that hunted creatures sometimes have, saw the farmer coming toward him with the visions of sausage and pigs’ trotters in his eyes and the pig was uneasy, although the pig really didn’t know what the man intended to do.

The man got close enough to the pig to try and throw the rope around his neck, but the rope tangled in the branches of the tree and he missed. The startled pig squealed and flew wildly into the tree, knocking down the last few apples on the farmer’s head, and then flapped away, landing on the far side of the orchard fence.

The farmer grumbled a few things he wouldn’t want his children to hear, and came after the pig again. The pig could clearly see that the farmer was angry, and decided to stay away from him.

After an hour of playing chase around the farmyard, the farmer was furious. He grabbed a board and started swinging wildly at the pig. One swing connected with the pig’s well-padded posterior, and the pig, offended, decided he had had enough.

He squealed and flew away, across the farmyard, over the orchard, beyond the cornfield and into the forest…



Describe your writing or art-making space.

Yark!  I write wherever I am–sometimes at my computer desk on the desktop computer or in a notebook.  Sometimes I write while sitting on the couch or in bed, with the laptop or pen and paper.  I’ve been known to go to the library and hide in a corner and scribble like mad in a notebook.


For art–there’s always the floor–and the table–when I can find it.  Usually the floor though–more room there and I can spread out more.  Since i cannot get to any table lately, I have actually been using my ironing board as a sewing platform to hold my sewing machine aloft as I sew.

Describe your writing implement, device, equipment, or tools you use to create.


pens of all sorts, pencils, crayons in a pinch–usually because my dd steals all my pens and leaves me broken bits of crayon in place of the stolen pens, laptop computer, desktop computer, dip pens, markers, a finger or two dipped in paint upon occasion


What is the oddest object in your creative space?

a big round metal thing–we found it on the ground during a trip to the library–it looks as if it fell off someone’s car although for the life of me we cannot identify where on any car or truck or anything else it could have come from–it’s as big around as my hand with a big hole in the middle and all rusted and beautiful–and my dd and I immediately said we needed it for an art project–that particular art project has not yet presented itself so I have the piece just lying here and there as it gets moved around alot just to keep it out of the way

Do you listen to anything while you create? If so, what?

my dd singing is a norm–Deva Premal, Duran Duran, Madonna are other typical things–of late my favourite thing to listen to is absolutely nothing at all–which has now come into conflict as we live in an apartment and school is nearly done for the year apparently as there are kids–as in near teen-agers always about yelling and screeching and basically being a menace on many levels

Do you engage in any interesting habits, exercises, warm-ups or rituals before you settle down to create?

hiding from cats and kid?  making a nice strong pot of tea is a definite–I drink tea all day and night.  other than that I do alot of deep breathing all the time

when I use the laptop I do try to keep the charging cord nearby just in case I need it lest I lose anything 


Raven TK


In no real order at all…with no real rhyme or reason…


1.  Geisha by Liza Dalby–an exploration of the real world of Geisha 

2.  Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman–much better than the movie too

3.  Emotional Yoga by Bija Bennett

4.  Drawing As A Sacred Activity by Heather Williams

5.  All Year Round by Druitt, Fynes-Clinton and Rowling



Raven TK


These are all books I’ve acquired since I moved out here, and I deliberately chose different books–it didn’t seem interesting to grab all the communication texts I teach from

1. 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Phoenix.  A book that breaks down interesting hikes by views, difficulty, location.

2. The Zen of Seeing. A beautiful book,  hand-drawn and handwritten using shades of gray and black inks, that promotes seeing and drawing at meditation.

3. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks.  Music and the brain. (I’m tone deaf.)

4. Book Proposals that Sell.  Step by step instructions for writing the non-fiction book proposal.

5. Create Your Own Artist’s Journal. A beautifully written and illustrated book that grounds you in the practice of keeping a visual journal.

My books are in no particular order:

The Creative Habit

The Witch of Portobello

The Elements of Design

Not Quite World’s End

Jottings: Flights of Fancy from Liz Smith


Only by closing my eyes in front of each section of shelves stacked with books, more or less arranged in genres, and reaching out blindly.  Thus, I came up with these five.  In an hour, or a day, there would be a different five.


1.  Die To Live – Questions and answers about meditation, existence, life, reincarnation, etc., with humor and wisdom.


2. The Source  – one of the first books taking one place on earth (a tell in Israel) and relating a fictionalized history of that place and surrounding area since the very beginning.  Going through the history of pagans, Jews, Christians, Muslims, the book relates the beginnings of the centuries-old problems still affecting that area, and the world.


3.  Writing From Life: Telling your Soul’s Story – great prompts and writing information to assist you to dig deep into your life and its motivations.


4.  Soul Collage – Great information and examples on how to do collage to enhance the processing about who you really are and why.


5.  The Doomsday Book – science fiction whereby historians in 2055 go to the 14th century to observe, unfortunately arriving in the midst of an influenza outbreak which complicates their project.  

I can’t just list five – here’s another I have to include:

6.  God’s Whisper, Creation’s Thunder – dealing with the connection between findings of the new physics and the insights of the great mystics.

1. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats – poetry

2. Zen in the Art of Writing – essays on writing

3. Aunt Dimity, Vampire Hunter – a cozy mystery

4. The Fire Rose – a fantasy, retelling the story Beauty and the Beast, set in early 20th century San Francisco

5. The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns – the title says it all!

– She Wolf


The place where I like to write is where I am right now.  A comfortable computer chair with head and lumbar support combined with a card table situated by a window looking out over my backyard.  From this spot I can meditate, read, or write at the table with my purple gel-pen.  Frequently I lean back, gaze out the window, watch the birds, butterflies, bugs and bunnies, while clouds of all configurations coast by. I delight in the deciduous and evergreen trees of all hues of green, and revel in whatever flowers are blooming, from the huge wild rose bush with cascading white-flowered canes to the erect purple iris – I observe it all, and mull.


Mulling is the process whereby I throw various ideas and thoughts in, allowing them all to slowly simmer at their own pace as they recombine into new permutations and possibilities.  It is my brain’s slow-cooking process whereby ingredients swirl around in the stew pot, colliding, passing by, softening and recombining, each adding flavor to the other, to concoct a great stew or soup.  And sometimes an unexpected ingredient I forgot I even added enhances the end result. 


I sit, surrounded by bookcases of books, art supplies, pictures of my loved ones, even a reproduction of a clay Sumerian tablet from about 2500 BC I purchased on one of my many visits to the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia.  I often wonder what people might think if they rummage through the collapsed remains of my house in Arkansas years from now and unearthed what would appear to be a Sumerian artifact.  One of the unexpected ingredients surrounding me.


The place where I like to write is also the place where I like to meditate, read, mull, watch nature without the exposure to ticks and chiggers, plan gardens, listen to music; in other words, the place where I relax in ways necessary for my life.  I realize, though, that I might sometimes need to inject a little more fire and play into my mulling to prevent the tendency to drift off with the clouds.  




1. The Creative License – a book about creative everyday journalling

2. The Way of the Peaceful Warrior – novel with a spiritual twist

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time- written from an autistic boy’s perspective

4. Himalaya – armchair travel

5. Beyond Baked Beans Green – veggie cookery

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March 2023

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