Monday, November 30, 2009

May I Send You a Calendar- Countdown

Wow~ this is a good way to find out who reads my blog!! The  virtual dangling carrot! Eight  NPR Calendars left. I asked my daughter if I should autograph the "June" page and she told me "That would be presumptuous" Guess she thinks her mom shouldn't impersonate a "Real Artist"- ahhhhh, how children keep you real! ( if you don't know what this is about see - "With Thanks"

With Thanks- Can I send you a NPR calendar?

For those who are faithful readers of "Moonflower Musing" or for anyone who comes across it this week and would like...I am "Miss June" or should I say my illustration-"Waiting for Coffee" is and I have about ten calendars I would like to send to the readers of Moonflower Musing. Just email me- in my profile- your name and the address you would like me to send it- and thanks for stopping by!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Felt Like A Real Freelancer Yesterday!

Yesterday morning, via a website I was researching for my YA novel, I got brave enough to email a nonfiction author and expert of Mesa Verde, with a real quick question- and now have corresponded with him several times and will be meeting with him personally. Gosh- they are real people too!
Did some more research, did some writing, worked on the lettering of a small illustration the deadline is coming soon and corresponded with the art director and ponder the roughs of my next project featuring a Navajo grandma and granddaughter- who I saw the inspiration for in the "Pet Aisle" of Safeway. The little girl was about ten, long black hair in pigtails and the grandma was traditional with a long broomskirt, Keds and a whole lot of turquoise jewelery. I thought about sneaking a picture with my phone but wasn't brave enough, so just watched them for a moment and tried to memorize what they looked like.
I love my job!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Notes from Page Sixty Eight

WORD COUNT: 17,424  PAGE: 68

Grand Gulch is part of the Colorado Plateau smunched and cut off from the rest of the world by Lake Powell and sort of the Grand Canyon in Arizona- though I am too lazy, sipping my tea on my bed at the moment to go get a map and verify I am right- basically it is a huge labyrinth of deep canyons cut by small streams as they find their way to the Colorado River, now under Lake Powell in the middle of nowhere, I am talking the eppa center of nowhere- just where my husband loves to go!

We camped and hiked there a few years ago, and above the contentious nervous feeling I had that I would never see another living soul again- I have to confess it was interesting. If he reads this he will think I want to go back!!
On our hike we went down into a meandering canyon cut by the creek and had to navigate the smaller side canyons, more keeping track of which direction we had come from- the thought I always have is- if Jon get hit on the head- will I know which way the truck is?
The climate is totally different down in these deep canyons, an oasis to the harsh desolate terrain above. You will come across streams that run all winter long and where there is water there is life.
Richard Wetherill, one of the brothers I mentioned in my Notes from Page One post, who helped Gustaf Nordenskiold excavate the ruins of Mesa Verde, went on to be a renowned if uneducated archaeologist in his own right and lead a large expedition into Grand Gulch, backed by the trust funds of Fred and Talbot Hyde, wealthy and bored young Easterners who had met Richard in 1893 at the World's Columbian Exposition ( World's Fair) to celebrate Columbus finding America 400 years before. But I digress!
A book, Cowboys and Cave Dwellers retraces the expedition, trying to find the exact places through matching of photographs.
We came across  the remains of our own cowboy camp.....

I don't think it was from the Wetherill/ Hyde Expedition- but it could of been. Wow to walk into something that should be behind glass in a museum, or at least have a scarlett velvet rope, around it to protect it, is something else.

But there it was, completely unprotected from anyone who wanted to take or damage what they found. But what I have discovered, the deeper and more isolated a sight like this is, or for that matter a native site, like the cliff dwellings, the more protected they are.
People who have to, want to, drive for hours, hike for hours to see such things, usually, and I emphasize "usually" respect them. The easy to get to sights are the ones that have been stripped of everything they had to offer.

Sights like this cowboy camp bring up an interesting debate, is this now a archaeological site  to be preserved  or just a trash heap that should be cleaned up?

From a different time and place, these cowboys from the 1800's and early 1900's regularly left their marks on the walls right next to the marks left by the ancient people, where is the distinction between preserving those markings and considering them graffiti?
I don't know the answer. I know that coming to a place like this cowboy camp is thrilling to me, I can stand in the middle of it and feel the "ghosts" of who was there, crouched by the fire to take their coffee off, consisting of a handful of beans swimming in a tin can, that probably contained peaches at one time. To see how they made what they needed, from the poles of dried up trees and hung things out of necessity so the varmints wouldn't get it in the night. To look at the ground where they made their beds, certain they would of preferred the cool night air, to the musty shelter if the weather allowed.
The needs of the ancient people that were here first, or the cowboys that came after them, or even me, as a hiker, are no different, we all need protection from the elements, water, a fire source and food. So it should be of no surprise we all find shelter under the same rock alcove, in a lush canyon away from the elements, near a reliable stream.
People really haven't changed that much, when you think about it.

Monday, November 09, 2009

I am fighting for room-"literally"

Here I sit this morning, still in my sweats, the husband and kids are gone, the house is quiet and I try and stretch out on the bed- I can't. Dunton, my white lab has taken over my side of the bed. Molly, our little Rez dog, ( adopted from the dumpsters of Chinle on the Navajo Reservation) is curled up on the otherside of the bed and our big Newfoundland/lab is snoring on the floor.
Jon calls me the "dog lady"- which is a loving insult- because when we lived in Durango, across the street, there was a infamous "cat lady", who lived in a big Victorian, filled to the brim with trash, old newspapers, boxes and such, I think you could get to one room literally through narrow tunnels through the rubbish.
Her car, an old Scout was the same, filled to the brim with old newspapers and salad bar containers she would use to feed the cats nightly in designated spots in the back alleys of Durango and spend her social security on cat food.
Jon would always help her with her taxes and such and we would take goodies to her on occasion, but always the conversations were outside on the side walk, I think I made it in about two feet in her house and my eyes and lungs couldn't take it anymore.
She got a wound on her leg and had to be commited to the hospital for a while, the Sheriff taking the  opportunity to clear out some of the cats- can still see the deputies getting their  Haz-Mat gear to go inside.
So you see why Jon saying "Dog Lady" has some meaning to it. Well here I sit and I am trying to keep Dunton from using the laptop as a pillow.
I find myself "fighting for room in the big sense of the word- what spot do I want in the universe, what spot does God want me to have and then thinking does He even care or need me to have a spot at all, a spec on His eternal time line.
For the first time in my life, I feel like I don't have a "label" ( daughter, college student, wife, mother) My girls are becoming independent, my husband giving me room and time to do my own thing, my friends, their kids growing up too, are pursuing their own interest- all leaves me this Fall with the quesiton, I could be anything I want, what do I want to be, where do I want to make room for myself.
And than I think "life is not as profound and calcuated as I am making it, just get on the road and walk- stop worrying where you will end up."
I think I am motivated in the fear of what will I be looking back on when I'm 80- or...... will I be just known as the "dog lady" and the sheriff will be coming to clear out my house with Haz Mat suits!
( that last bit truly was just for emphasis- you would be very comfortable having dinner over here and not fear for your life, I promise! maybe have a few dog hairs on you but thats all- at this point, look me up in ten years, forty? )

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Notes-Page One

I was just sitting on top of the sheets, sipping my tea, not working, waiting for everyone to head off to school and work before I got to work and was reading a post on Editorial Ass ( an Editors Assistant's anonymous blog) about word count and found an interesting comment from Heather Lane, that made me curious about her blog- Edited to Within an Inch of My Life- where she had a great idea that I am going to steal, borrow, give her total credit for but also do! Blog the journey of the  novel I am writing in my spare time, when my real job of freelance illustrating allows ( I actually have gotten pretty good on making the time). This is kind of an "A-Ha" moment for me, I have been documenting my journey in illustrating for years here on Moonflower Musing, and loving the interaction of others, the encouragement of others ( thank you for that- you can't know how many times, knowing one stranger out in cyberspace, saw value in what I am doing, kept me going- ), but some how my writing, maybe because I have an art degree and see myself as not having the credentials to write, did my writing in the dark of the night to speak- who knows. But what hit me this morning, reading Heather's blog, is the journey is really interesting- the research- which there is no way I can use it all, hated that- but  daaaaaaa, I have a blog and can throw it up here, for anyone who wants to know and here is a place I can record the journey, the frustrations and the "A'ha" moments.
So here goes!!

Disclaimer: Some of you reading this are going to go- "What happened to the novel  set in Utah during World War 2!" well.........It got too big and too scary and I started to think I didn't have enough skill YET to write it the way it needed to be- so I'm backing off on it and doing an easier story first ( I will write Moonflower I promise, when I figure out how to do it)
I wrote Come Back to My Valley as a screenplay- which I decided I wanted to write as a novel first so that my take on the story could be saved for posterity whether I sold it as a screenplay or not.
Then I was doing a writing workshop and the teacher encouraged me to pick of the Utah story and put a side the screenplay story- ahhhhh how we are influenced- good or bad from others!
Wise or not- I am going back to my first story- already set in a 120 page 3rd draft screenplay- and turning it into a novel first.

Enough Already- what is the picture about!

Answer: Mesa Verde, set in Southwest Colorado, where the first serious archaeological excavations were ever, Ever conducted in the United State- I am sure some would argue!- by Gustaf Nordenskoild and the Wetherill brothers, a bunch of cowpokes from the valleys below the mesa.
The events of the summer of 1891- spurred on the movement to use the newly developing National Park system for the first time protect Human artifacts, not just natural wonders, in 1906,  but that way to late to protect much of the artifacts up in the mesa where many upstanding people would go to church and then go do an afternoon of pot hunting- or grave robbing.
( side note- if you have not seen Ken Burns' documentary on the National Parks which just aired on PBS, I highly recommend it)
Nordenskoild was the first to document and use scientific method to study the ruins, people did start paying attention to him when he tried to take his collection to Sweden ( largely due to the fact no American Museum, including the Smithsonian was much interested in ancient people on the North American continent)  and the events were  the catalyst for the creation of the Antiquities Act- which did start to protect the ancient Native civilizations in the US.
Thus is the backdrop for my novel- Nordenskoild and the Wetherills minor secondary characters to a romance between a cowboy and am aristocratic young artist who comes to paint the beauty of the ruins, the canyons and mesa.
Tell you more later!