Vyv Does Oz: Cold Feet, Warm Hearts

My great-grandparents had on their wall a framed piece of embroidery with the lines “Wo man singt, da lass Dich ruhig nieder, /böse Menschen haben keine Lieder” (roughly: where there is singing, gladly rest your head /where evil dwells, no song is to be had). Taking this as my motto for the upcoming trip, I couldn’t be safer anywhere else. Most of my friends on the other side of the world are musos. Phew!

At least for a few days I’ll be staying at a fabulously beautiful place in Bassendean, nearly exactly opposite to my pad in Swanbourne. If you’d like to take a peek at Cook House yourself, feel free.

In order to provide you, my three-and-a-half readers, with the most bang for no buck, I have unearthed my old Flickr account where I will post trip pics as I go along.

My schedule is beginning to be occupied with gigs and barbecues and theatre visits and coffee meets, all of which is certainly giving me the warm and fuzzy. And yet, the first bell that rang in my head when I woke up this morning sounded an awful lot like “Idontwannago, I dontwannago!” Considering there are still five days left until departure, this does not bode well. Not that the sudden case of cold feet is entirely unexpected; I suffer from a minor version every time I’m going anywhere, and if it’s just to a local event. Even if I’m really, really looking forward to it. Not sure why it gets that way, but there isn’t much I can do besides talk myself down and carry on with life.


Vyv Does NaPoMo

Or NaPoWriMo, depending on which websites you follow. Writer’s Digest calls their version PAD -poem a day. It all means the same thing: April is National Poetry Month. Some of us take up the challenge to write a poem a day, often to a given prompt. Although I am part of a writing group and also signed up with two websites, I pick and choose the prompts. After all, I do have three different ones every day!

Because I’ve wanted to learn more about poetic structure and forms of late, I have been taking a couple of online classes. One deals with short form verse, the other with the basics of haiku. So far, I have learned quite a bit from the former (I only started the haiku class today), including reaching beyond my comfort zone: I hate to bother with rhymes, but a lot of the short forms require rhyming, so in order to avoid getting stuck in cliche, I really have to think hard about what to write… and then, edit, edit, edit!

As much as I am enjoying this poetry challenge, I am looking forward to May already. May is all about short stories, which ought to be a good excuse to empty the proverbial drawer of the not-nearly-as-proverbial partial drafts. A friend of mine from Australia sent me a flyer for a short story competition I’d love to take part in, and I hope to use what I’ll learn in the haiku class to start writing flash fiction, as well.

Are you participating in NaPoMo? Leave me a comment!

Letting it All Hang Out

This year, I will tell you honestly, has surprised me. Whether we believe in the transformative power of dates or not, I think that many of us harbour secret hopes every New Year’s Eve that things will magically change overnight, that the worries and sorrows of the old year will somehow stay behind us and we can start over with a clean slate. Just as many of us have been disappointed that merely turning to a new calendar leaf doesn’t really change anything. But sometimes, just sometimes, the whammy comes out of the blue when you’ve given up expecting it, like some mythological Deus ex Machina, to grant us the reset we’d all but given up on.

That’s exactly what happened. Since January 1st, I have been in an inexplicably good mood. Sure, I’ve gotten cranky a couple of times, but each time it utterly failed to ruin my day. I’ve had two days of semi-depression, and even those weren’t as bad as they could have been. My long-buried and half forgotten creativity has pushed to the surface with a vengeance, and I am so swamped with ideas that every day is at least 12 hours too short. There is reading to be done, words are waiting to be put to keyboard, paint to paper; one idea is not quite finished before it yields another and yet another, and so on it goes. And above -or beneath- it all burns that joyful flame that tickles my belly like a swarm of lovey-dovey butterflies.

I’ve tried getting you, my dear readers, involved in the process but you’ve once again proven resistant to the effort. Perhaps you are shy and don’t want to share your ideas. Perhaps you think you don’t have any. And perhaps some of you do have ideas, but you’ve unlearnt the process of letting it all hang out. This year, no matter what turns may come, my creative hair is down. The cork is popped. The genie will not return to the bottle. When we suffer hard times, we tell ourselves to hang in there and ride it out. Well, the time has now come to surf this wave and enjoy it while it lasts. I appreciate you coming along.


Today, I would like to invite you, my dear readers, to join me for a little art project during the month of February. It’s easy and takes neither time nor talent, it’s for fun and the only commitment required is a tiny moment for 28 days. Here’s how it works: on February 1st, take a sheet of paper and put something on it. It can be a sticky, a line, a dot, a doodle, a word, anything that tickles your fancy. For the next 27 days, once a day add or erase something from your paper. If you feel like it, document your progress. On March 1st, take a photo of your final product and share it. Go wild. Use different materials. Let other people help. It doesn’t have to pretty or perfect, it just has to be yours. Who’s in?

Countdown to Christmas 2013, Week One

I’ve been posting a kind of advent calendar on Facebook where it is not very much appreciated, sadly. Then it occurred to me that there are more people who might not appreciate it, either, who cannot be reached via Facebook, and I decided to do a weekly summary of the advent goodies so far. This year, I have attempted to dig up some rarities and inspirational items. They’re all well worth a look or listen. Enjoy!

Sarah Brightman starts us off with a traditional tune from her beautiful Christmas album, “A Winter Symphony

I apparently forgot to post something on the 2nd, or it was removed without notifying me, but I did change my profile pic to this lovely Victorian greeting card


Back to the music with a selection of joyful ruckus by Phil Spector

I had no idea that flashmobs were still done, but this one assembled at a mall and surprised shoppers with carolling

Behind the next door, we find more music, this time from guitarist John Fahey, who plays a medley of Russian music

St. Nick regals us with the reading of a poem. I had previously thought of Charles Bukowski as that dirty old man who wrote weird books, but it turns out, he also composed beautiful poetry. In this video, “The Laughing Heart” is read by Tom Waits. For those who don’t understand English too well, the video has German subtitles.

Which brings us to door number seven, behind which hide The Monkees. Yes, really! They also had a lovely Christmas episode on their television show, from which this Spanish traditional is taken.

To see the videos, just click the highlighted areas of text. Videos will open in a new window.


Come Together

Hoosiers are a hospitable lot. No doubt about it. If you smell a ‘but’ coming here, you are of course correct. BUT… they seem utterly incapable of making appointments in an orderly fashion. Or follow through on something previously agreed upon. Perhaps that’s my German orderliness speaking here, but it does get a bit irritating. Like this morning. Loewe’s was supposed to call when they were on the way to deliver our floor parts. I knew they were about to show when I heard the truck back up in my driveway. Also, our floor guy was supposed to call to let us know when he’s planning on being here tomorrow. It’s going on five, and nothing. I just hope we’re dressed when the doorbell rings!

Be that as it may, it’s nice to see that things are moving again.


“When I grow up, I’m going to be a laminate floor!”

Pile of Tile

And how about this lovely pile of tile?

In the upper picture you can see a fine example of our current carpeting. I’m looking forward to next week, when things ought to look rather different! Riley, meanwhile, takes advantage of the fact that she can still get into the kitchen by catching a nap on the warm stove.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Now, I know some of you are curious what the place looks like on the inside. I hate to present an unfinished job, but here you go. Pardon the mess. It’ll get a bit worse before it gets a lot better.

Dining Room

That’s a view to the dining room from the kitchen.

Garden Room

Adjacent is the garden room where we have breakfast and watch the birds in the morning.

Living room

And our living room. You may have noticed that we have beautiful big windows all around. They are casement windows, which means that you crank open the pane with a little handcrank. The glass bit is on the outside, the screen or storm window -dependent on the season- is on the inside. The drawback to that is that every outer surface is reflective. We’ve had three birds accidentally kill themselves by crashing into the windows in the past few weeks. To prevent that in future, we’ve ordered bird strips from the American Bird Conservancy. They are clear so you can still see through but just opaque enough to indicate to the birds that there is in fact an object in the way. To my astonishment, they’ve already shipped. I hope they’ll help. Have you had a similar problem? What did you do about it? Let’s hear from you!

Supporting the Local Artists

When someone mentions the word “renaissance” in conjunction with a place name in the U.S., one should take that with a grain of salt. When I first learned of A Renaissance in Roanoke, I had visions of people in ruffled costume, chamber music and lots of sugary delights. Kind of an interesting idea for a place that boasts a mural like this one

Roanoke Mural


As it turns out, however, renaissance really means street fair supporting local artists, which is much cooler anyway. First of all, there was music. At the time of our arrival, we just caught the tailend of the performance of the J Taylors, both of whom have great voices for the type of music they sing. Check out their website for upcoming dates.

A street fair without food is just pointless, but luckily, Roanoke catered to your hunger, whatever it may be for. There was a stand by Naked Tchopstix whose fare looked a bit bland, unfortunately, and was probably overlooked because of that. Or it may have been the taco stand next to it, which served a big variety of freshly prepared taco baskets. The Ragin Cajun Food Truck also offered blackened chicken tacos, along with other undoubtedly tasty selections, but we saved our appetite for the lunch offerings at the Joseph Decuis Emporium: the Wagyu burger and pulled pork sandwich. For those with a sweet tooth, there were also French crepes, cookies and cup cakes from the Rolling Pin Bakehouse, fabulous pies and apple dumplings from Grandma Sue’s Pies and More, Inc. or gelato at Moose and Mollie’s. I know there were other places that I’ve simply not written down, but suffice it to say that if you had a hankering for something, you were likely to find it.

Art lovers and connoisseurs of fine things were presented with more options than any one wallet could serve, and the tiny selection of stalls I grabbed business cards from is merely a fractional representation. I won’t even mention the silversmiths, leather works, photography stand, caricature booth, barbecue and spice vendor and many others with beautiful and original items. Robin Satterthwaite’s gorgeous jewellry share a space with the amazing fountains crafted by Julie Lahr; each piece is unique. Sadly, neither of the ladies has a website, so you’ll just have to take my word for it or ask me for their email, if you are interested in what they make.

Cherie Droege’s stall was filled with beautiful paintings. She specialises in watercolours and pastels and also gives instructions, if you are interested in painting. Again, no website. Other booths that stood out for me were Art Work by tPulley and Brenda Mann’s Mann’s Best Friends, which has given me a neat idea. If I had any actual drawing talent, I’d love to create greeting cards like those found at Tammy Hyndman’s stand, Working Mom Productions, Inc. But my absolute favourite were the gorgeous flowers by Michael “Hap” Hapner which are made from… recycled vinyl albums! I just had to have one of those (look for mine on Facebook soon!). Hap’s assistant gave me his Facebook to contact him, but as usual, I can’t seem to find anybody.

I’ll leave you with some general impressions of this warm and sunny afternoon and hope you had a great weekend!