Creative Humans Magazine Issue 2

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Issue 2 Spring 2011

A Fine Publication

Letter Editor from the

Dearest Reader, If there is one thing I learned last year, it’s that you just have no idea what might be around the corner, so you might as well try to enjoy things right now, exactly as they are. I spent a good deal of time fretting about being later getting this issue out than I wanted, but in the end, things worked out fine. No one is more excited for this second issue of Creative Humans Magazine to be here than I am. It took awhile and it took some patience, but I’m proud to say, it’s finally done. The work you’ll find inside this issue is varied and wonderful, as all true creativity is. Many people pulled together to put this issue together when I fell ill last summer, but none more so than my dear friend Jodi Lopez, editor and designer extrodinaire. Jodi - you’re a light in my life. Thank you for all your hard work and priceless friendship. Issue 2 is only complete because of you. – Leah Peterson Publisher, Editor at Large

Front cover image by Karen Walrond of Back cover image and poetry by JLL of 2


FEATURED CONTRIBUTORS Kristal Armendariz / pg 05 Rebecca Nichols / pg 06 Rachael Shafer / pg 07 & pg 20 Anya / pg 08 Silvi Alcivar / pg 09 Jodi Schaap / pg 10 Leah Olafson / pg 12 Kate Kotler / pg 14 Bethany Hiitola / pg 18 Thomas Cunningham / pg 20 DW / pg 24 Rachael Rossman / pg 28 JLL / pg 30 Kathleen Campbell pg 31 & pg 36 Jennifer Simpson / pg 32 Leah Peterson / pg 34 Alma Meeker pg 37 Karen Walrond / pg 38 Candice Dayoan / pg 39 Phil Machi / pg 39

5 18 20 26 28 30 35 3


Kristal Armendariz

These photos are taken with the Split-Cam, one of the cheapest and most creative cameras around! For under $15 you get a camera with unlimited possibilities. It has a special button to reset the shutter without winding the film, perfect for double or even triple exposures. It also has a double set of lens blocking sliders that you can use to control what is captured on film.


With Light and Peeling Paper Rebecca Nichols

Photographs taken in Nottingham, England 2006 I am a British Stay at Home Mum to a two year old boy. Married to a U.S. soldier an currently living in Germany.


After the Flood

Rachael Schafer

I walk out into the gorgeous San Francisco afternoon. A warming sun with a current of cool breeze floats on my skin. I wait for the bus and I feel good, with only a little undertow of dread pulling on the back of my mind. The bus goes up, up, up over the hill on Noe Street and the sun glints off the windows as people laugh and talk and go about their day, I start to unravel. No one on this bus is thinking about the thousands of gallons of water roaring through the streets of…Nashville. There’s something I never thought I’d write. Or see. Or hear or even think about. What? No. Impossible. But, there it is. The pride of my home state: Music City; is being overtaken by a flood. The rain just keeps falling and falling. The Cumberland river, nicknamed ‘The Scumberland’ in my youth because of the toxic blanket of reek that it throws over the city on hot summer evenings, is rising to meet parked cars and porches and eventually, people sitting in their recliners or huddled on top of kitchen tables. I’m embarrassed to be crying on the bus. Also I’m afraid that this show of vulnerability will make me a freak-target. It’s happened before. So, I wipe the tears away and think of other things. It’s hard being so far away when you hear the news. At first it’s like a drop of rain hitting the corrugated rooftop out where the cat box is. Then it’s a heavy pelting, a torrent, and then a flood of information coming at you, images and words from my home state that I can’t believe or make sense of and feel guilty even crying over, because after all, I’m not there in it. My 89-year-old grandfather sounds like he used to when we spoke on the phone in my 20’s, angry and tired. He sounded that way then because I was kind of a jerk when I was younger. He sounds this way now because one of his childhood friends drowned in the flood. He said he’d been watching the news and saw an overturned SUV submerged in standing water in the Belleview neighborhood. He thought to himself ‘I hope that’s not Joe and Bessie’, but it did turn out to be them. Now, he is wondering if he’ll make it to their service on Friday, today. If I was there, I’d make sure that he would be able to go. But I’m not there and I still need to hustle my way through my own days here in San Francisco. I work on design projects, make lunch for my daughter, run errands, the boring usual. Videos of a guy pulling a 4 foot long Carp out of the floodwaters, stories of teenagers clinging to street signs, houses being washed down the interstate. I’ve never felt so lucky or guilty as I have these past few days. At night after the little girl is put down to sleep by my husband, I attach myself to the computer and my daily bustle gives way to tears and disbelief.

Smitten by Anya

Art from Sweden! This is a girl with faraway eyes and a never sleeping fantasy. She loves creativity in all forms and believes that she was born with a pen in her left hand. Her inspiration comes from feelings, daydreams, poems and music. She loves the night and its silence. While the rest of the city is asleep, she sneaks inside her creative bubble and paints away.


intimate time with my typewriter by silvi alcivar

me and my red royal meet a lot of people. this is a moment of meeting laura and paul, and by way of their poetry request, their friends alan and jeannie. laura and paul wanted a “not so ordinary poem.” and they wanted it urgently, to put into a book they were making for their friends, jeannie and alan, who were soon celebrating their 30th anniversary. but the urgency did not come because the party was in a couple of weeks. the urgency came because it was time to say things that mattered--jeannie was terminally ill and, though no one said it, the urgency suggested no one knew how much time jeannie had. laura called me with paul also on the line and they told me about their friends. how they had know each other for years and valued their deep and meaningful friendship. how alan and jeannie had a thing for words with the letter ‘r.’ how jeannie surprised them all with her ability to sing every word to most all rock and roll songs at a wedding in ireland. how he was an investment banker, she a chief financial officer and that’s how they met. how she has serious cancer. how they own a home in deer valley. another in woodside. how their house is filled with beautiful things. how full of warmth their house is. how much they enjoy thanksgiving dinners at their house. how they love to ride their bicycles and have been to france, italy, vietnam. how they just want to something different to put into the book they’re making and they thought a poem would fit nicely. after we talked, laura contacted me again to let me know that she needed the poem sooner. the party had been canceled; it seemed jeannie’s time was closer than anyone expected. and so, i wrote them this, and told them i tried to get ‘r’ words in it, but they didn’t come: laura and paul were thrilled. and i was grateful, humbled, once again, by what happens when i meet people with a need for words, and i have an intimate moment with their desires and my typewriter.




Jodi Schaap

On May 5th we’ll be celebrating Oliver’s birthday. He’ll be two. Loudly, wonderfully and energetically two! On the sideline of his celebration you will sit trying really hard not to like all of his presents but dying to touch them and crying when we say no, not today. Being a sibling is hard. Being the oldest of siblings is even harder. Being a female, who is the oldest of siblings and not having someone “understand you” is death by living. Jessica, you’re biggest argument (and you love to argue) recently is that we just don’t understand you! It’s heartbreaking because I wish I could give you the words you really need to tell us how you’re truly feeling. Left out. Bored. Looked over. Worked too hard. Neglected. Spoiled. Distraught. I think I will be forever worried that I’m mothering you right, that I’m loving you right because I just don’t know. I can’t be attached to you, you won’t allow it. I can’t give you space, you cry and my heart aches. You want me around but not hovering, you want me close but not touching. You want my eyes but not my hands, you want my mind but not my heart. I want to give you everything, but mostly I want to give you me. All of me. I want to tell you how incredibly scared I am of making mistakes. I want to tell you how scared I was of having a daughter first because I knew, from my own mother-daughter relationship, how messy they can get. How tangled the web really is. How emotional it is to be in someone’s shadow when there’s no sun shinning on you. It’s cold and instead of finding warmth in relationships you strive for perfection in life, never attaining it but always taunting it and then you end up broken. After we brought you home from the hospital I had a hard time letting anyone or anything touch you. I couldn’t believe how perfect you were! How amazing the process of growing you inside of me and birthing you made something that started out healthy and complete. We had a clean slate! You started out on ground zero and I felt like I got to start all over with you, too. So getting shots and going out in public was torture for me - there we were, messing with perfection! But Jessica, it’s not about being perfect. It’s not even about being what someone else wants from you or expects of you. It’s about being you. Period. So I’ll sit on the sidelines of the celebration with you, and laugh at your brother’s silliness and his slaphappy faces while opening presents. But I’ll sit with you, next to you, near you, by you. Where ever you’ll have me. Because I am always here, I will always be there for you, too. I love YOU. -Mom



Botanical Garden

Leah Olafson


Passionately Real: An Interview with Heather Gold by Kate Kotler

Heather Gold (the “Subvert with Heather Gold” and “I Look Like an Egg, but I Identify as a Cookie” shows) is a passionate hat trick of geek, queer activism and comedic creativity rolled into an animated force who is so much more than any label you could give her. Creative Humans had the pleasure of sitting down with Heather (she was recently in San Francisco to perform at MacWorld) to chat about comedy; storytelling; coming out and the challenges of being an authentic, truthful person as you walk through life. I’m looking at this list of people who’ve been on The Heather Gold Show: Michelle Tea, Jonathan Coulton, Peaches Christ... I wrote this in my notes: “A Who’s Who of Geeks + Comedy + LGBT...” How do you choose people for Subvert? It’s funny. I was being interviewed for, I think, the Examiner …about why I choose the guests I choose. I realized [that] it’s like the cafeteria-- I’ve got this table and I’ve got the gay kids and the geek kids and the theater kids... My audience is the nerd table… You know? When I did “Cookie” I always had a mix-- tourists and people from the financial district... too. I try not to be exclusive in who I care about and who I talk to [with my shows], so I want to put stuff out there, but not be too “in your face.” So you’re engaging instead of abrasive? Well yeah... I mean if you’re really an asshole and you’ve done it in public, and you’re massively famous, I think you’re free game. But, I don’t like to... I would never mock anyone in the room, except... well, if … you’re Bill Gates or Sarah Palin, I’d mock you to your face. Comically, because, you know, that’s the job. That’s very ethically sound, I think. I would also try to be respectful… but I’m certainly not going to back down from... you know, Clinton, or whoever... it’s not all on one side of the [liberal/ conservative] fence... But, I’m not going to be like “YOU and your fucking hat!” I can do that, but because I was so picked on, you know, the nerd table, I hate to do that. I can’t insult people; I think I’m just not as angry as I used to be.


You also did some time with the Groundlings? How did that affect your comedy style?

I took classes there with Cynthia Szigeti. It was really awesome training, I wasn’t in the troupe, though. I ended up going back to law school, unfortunately, but I was really on the fence about staying in LA and pursuing comedy. I really wanted to be in that business, and I had this feeling that if I left no one would remember me in three months. But I also don’t like to quit. [That year in LA] was great for me. I went to a ton of shows that I wasn’t in, and that was how I learned about alternative comedy. The beginning, really, of me trying stand-up and cabaret. I got to see very early, early stand-up from people who weren’t big yet: Julia Sweeney and Kathy Griffin. They weren’t really into storytelling then; they came to that later - at least Julia Sweeney did. It really impacted me. I never really got to do longform. I didn’t go back to Groundlings - so in a way I kind of started interacting with my audience because I wanted to try that and I didn’t have anyone to improv with... I think that storytelling is a kind of longform, even though it’s scripted. Don’t you find that sometimes the audience influences the direction of the show? That’s a really insightful question.

The audience response gives me a sense of “is this working?” [I think] I’m still trying to figure out my [process]... and that’s my challenge. I loved watching Julia Sweeney [develop material] that I saw later in God Said Ha! (Sweeney’s one woman show about surviving cancer). I got to see that process-- it was really eye opening. Watching [Sweeney] tell the stories -week-by-week- of when she had cancer and then seeing that as a show later. [It] made me realize that comedy writing is a doable thing and you can [develop material] in the room. There’s a sense of okay, it’s going to be a little bit different [each time]. Recently I just told a story at a Bawdy Storytelling event. Ten minutes almost killed me! How did you do that for a full length one person show?? I, sadly, could talk about myself for - I don’t know how long - I [think I] could break some record. Doesn’t mean it’s all good. It’s just like talk-talk-talk... So that piece of it is easy for me. I really just fundamentally believe in personal storytelling. But I want to make sure I’m serving something other than myself. For me, having the truth be told, publicly, it’s a super healing thing. It’s super powerful. I think that the truth is always the most interesting. “Cookie” was interesting-- both the point and the politics of it... because that can be so... messy. Especially in this town to talk about anyone else’s experience, to accidentally group anyone... You know, because you’re trying to use language to make a sentence and inevitably [if you’re talking about someone else] someone is going to be offended. I think that helped me to see that it’s [safer] just to talk about your[self ] because you own it, and no one else can say, “That didn’t happen to you.” So I say “I-I-I”... you know, they tell you that in couple’s therapy, too, to always say “I.” There’s a whole chunk that I edited out of “Cookie” that was super-really personal. I kind of wanted to go there… but I’ve been doing my best to figure out how to make that serve something. Ideally, I want [my story] to help other people open up. Or, to make the story …help [people] feel something that I want them to be able to feel. I think that some of the next things I’m doing are harder... Because you go there. I have a certain amount of ease or comfort with some of this, maybe because I was given such a tough time as a kid. So I’m like, “whatever!” So that maybe kind of inoculated me to some stuff. [If ] some random person is like “You fuckin’ dyke!” I just don’t care... so that doesn’t matter to me. I’m more likely to be like “ooh, you’re uncomfortable!” How can I play with that? I mean, coming out, that’s a big deal. I feel like that’s something I’m going to touch on next. I’m going to do a

show called “Totally Gay for the Web” at SXSW. I’m going to talk about things that work online that everyone can learn from and make a better community. The point of the talk was coming out as a model for being public via social media. I think that it is a transformative process for me, and I want everyone to have that, so maybe that’s like my little mission... I want people to be themselves. I think it makes the world better. And, I don’t mean just by being gay... I mean by being yourself. Whoever you are. Come out as yourself! I love that, I think that is great. Coming out is a difficult process. Liberating! [But it’s] similar to the “I’m on stage telling a personal story” the fear - the question of “Am I okay with this?” [Sometimes] fall into that trap onstage, too, but once you become selfaware you become unfunny. Seriously I find it’s funnier, it’s better if I’m okay with it and I really don’t care what you think. And, they like it more, right? Well, it’s the same with [coming out]. I learned this stuff from making every mistake you can make. I went through a ten- year coming out process. On many levels. It took a long time for me to be okay with myself. Bottom line is that you’re different. People need other people to be like them to be comfortable… sometimes. I think [it’s] challenging …emotionally being okay with someone who is not the same as you. And, I think that’s a parent-child dynamic, too. I’m hoping to become a parent, and we’ll see if this process works -knock, knock. Even if you’re not gay - the odds of you wanting stuff your parents don’t see or want for you - are pretty universal. [But really], it was much harder to come out as an artist than a lesbian. For me to accept that about myself. Because it’s financially challenging and obviously I have an education and people were like “Why are you doing this? You could be doing that.” It’s not often you meet people who will be like it’s great that you’re doing [stand-up comedy].” The truth is that in this economy, you can be “not working” at anything. And, you wonder if what you have to say is worth anything - is it worth money, is it worth laughter? That’s part of the equation, too. Image courtesy




A Day With My (Dead) Mother In Law -fiction Bethany Hiitola

It all happened rather suddenly--as do all my mornings. The alarm clock. Kids screaming. Showers. Breakfast. Teeth brushing. Dressing. Sock searching. The haggling and moaning and rides to school. Hugging. Waving. And the mind-numbing boringness of it all. Until that unmistakable raspy cough nearly made my piss my pants. She sat like a steel rod was up her ass, all prim and proper with that cigarette dangling from two pristine manicured fingers, on the edge of the master bathroom tub exhaling into my yet-to-be-towel-dried hair--my mother-in-law. What was most surprising, is that she’d died 4 years ago. Before the children. Before the flabby midsection rolled over the waist of my jeans. And definitely before I’d had ever let her within the confines of my master bathroom. Raising an eyebrow her eyes darted to the stretchmarks, to my sagging chest and then back to the untrimmed areas of my nether-region. Which, was not any-region I was willing to share with anyone aside from my husband of 10 years. Her one and only son. With a jerk I covered myself with the less than healthy towel and attempted to cover all areas worth hiding and inched closer to the vanity. With a another puff on the cigarette she took it to it’s filter and flicked an ash to the floor, “Seems we’ve been busy.”

The thought of tossin her creamy perfectness sneeze/hiccup/m

The nicotine breath was intoxicating even 3 feet away. Somewhere in my head my subconscious was begging for me to gasp, scream, or at least utter a few words. But instead, my years of mother-in-law bite-my-tongue training kicked in and I only nodded in agreement. “Let’s get this over with,” she flicked another ash into the soaking tub, “As this between world’s bullshit is taxing on any nerves I have left to fester.” Uncrossing her legs she brushed imaginary pet fur from perfectly pressed cream colored pants. That coincided with the sheer ruffled blouse, and dyed blonde hair the framed a perfectly done face. Only in the dead, she’d seemed to tone down her lipstick. Just a tad. Still dripping, and now without a doubt looking haggard myself, I shuffled to the doorway. But with one raised hand--she stopped me. “Get dressed dear. It’s gonna be a long day.” ***


I don’t know what possessed me to grab the pink hoodie and black yoga pant outfit today-of all days--but having your dead mother-in-law glowering at your every move and tapping her foot in annoyance as you get dressed from an interrupted shower might have something to do with it. But yet here I was, maneuvering Michigan Avenue, scantly under-dressed and

window shopping with my dead mother-in-law. Somewhere between the bathroom incident and now, I’d opened my mouth long enough to demand I stop for a coffee. An extra-large espresso variety. I’d waited for protest from my hallucination side-kick, but she only nodded and flicked a finger in the direction of an upcoming Starbucks. It’s only when I returned that the tongue-lashing began. “I never wanted to hate you,” reaching into her side pocket she pulled another cigarette from the also-creme wrapper, “It’s just you came along and suddenly took my son from me.” I’d heard this before. This not-really-an-apology-but-it-pretends-to-be. I think it was the night before our wedding. Or after. Depending on which story you hear. Or which day I’d rather forget. The entire wedding week was wrought with small tedious fights and name-calling. And even a little bitter champagne throwing somewhere in the midst of the toasts to the bride. But I’d imagined that was laid to rest along with her body. Guess I mis-judged the after-life. “And you were nothing like I thought you’d be.” The thought of tossing my coffee all over her creamy perfectness was only a cough/sneeze/ hiccup/mis-step away.

ng my coffee all over was only a cough/ mis-step away.

“He deserved someone thinner,” she eyed my flabby thighs and the shot a look to the scrunchy holding back my yet damp hair, “but you balanced him.” She heaved a heavy sigh. One that even fogged the early Spring morning air. “Not that I could argue with him. He had a mind of his own. As do you.” She finally looked me in the eye with the weight of whatever required her visit to me suddenly the center of the one-sided conversation. “It’s imperative you leave him.”

For the first time all morning, I found my voice. “Impossible.” There was no way in hell she was going to push me around in the after-life. I had enough of that when she was alive. “It’s not that simple,” this time she grabbed my arm. Which, when alive, was forbidden, other than in greeting or saying good-byes. We weren’t the touchey feeley type. Or any type for that matter. We were the Complicated Relationship. “He’s like his father. If you stay, he’ll kill the good he has in you.” This time there was something else behind her glassy eyes. I might have mistaken it for compassion if I didn’t hear the underlying squeak of jealousy. I only shrugged, taking kind to my hot coffee and continued walking forward toward the river. It was too much that the woman died exactly on our 7th wedding anniversary, the one trip in nearly 3 years we’d planned away from the kids for the weekend, was now she’s asking me to leave a husband that has done nothing but leave dirty laundry about the house. “I’ve seen the signs, dear.” That one little qualifier nickname. The one that sends shivers to the core of my being, signifies trouble. continued on page 22




Thomas Cunningham


Dead Mother-In-Law, continued from page 19

“He’s distracted. Overly worked. Finds time to go to the gym but not come home on time. Has he been home to put the kids to bed?” Skin prickling in ever-growing rage, I force my foot to follow the other and keep walking through the now heavy pedestrian traffic to some unseen destination. As long as it is as far away as possible from this impossible conversation. “I need you to see that I know things. These signs. These predictions that he’s not going to stay faithful to you--” With a swivel I turned to face a blushed complexion, twitching in conviction, and fury in her eyes.” Just like his father! And his father’s father. And we shouldn’t have to stand for that. I shouldn’t have stood for all of that. But I stayed for the good of my son. You understand that right? I mean, what was I to do with no job, no house, no money. And raise a child on my own? He cheated on me. NOT the other way around. I need you to understand.” I took a careful breath and raised my eyes to hers. Still raging red, the anger had subsided a bit to show weariness. The sort of tired weariness that one only imagines when in their final hours. Or in this case, after those final hours. “All is fair in love in war.” Stepping back into her full posture, she looked away from me and stepped back along the raised cement plant boxes, “And I needed to even the playing field.” I nodded hoping she’d hear me.


Rachael Schafer

“It had been a long time,” Stepping back from the flowers to the street curb, wind wisping her hair above her shoulders, “The love was gone. Lost somewhere along the way. It was the


Let’s Hang Out


summer before I caught him with her.” A twenty-something three-some of women passed between us, snickering about the latest failed date night. Oblivious to us. To life. “I just needed someone to hold me. Touch me...” A taxi stopped before us expectantly. “And, really, how could I not let him? It had been so long. So, so long that it almost hurt that I hadn’t noticed we’d fallen that far apart.” The cabbie rolled down his window... “But, he deserved it you know. With all the crap he did to me,” shivering she turned towards me, mascara running in every direction, “So I gave in to him not really knowing what it would do.” “Ma’am?” She stepped to the cab and pulled open the door, “It was all I could do but run away,” with a sniff and a pat to her hair as if to collect herself, “so I stayed with him. Let him cheat. Let him live. But you,” pointing the perfectly French manicured finger my way, “mustn’t let it happen. You’re smarter than that.” Facing forward she signaled for the cab to move forward, “And better than that.” With a blink, she was gone. I was alone on the street corner. Accompanied only by my packed overnight bag at my feet. I had my change of clothes, toothbrush, scrunchy... but had lost my mind and heart somewhere along the way.

There’s a Tear in My Beer



How To The One-Sheet-of-Plywood Bookcase DW

Just after graduating from college, I got a job working for an architect from Europe who had just finished building his own home (our office was actually in the attic). One of the things I learned from him was the ability to take simple, easy-to-source materials and turn them into functional and attractive objects. Their house was filled with ingenious little touches of innovation, most of which was DIY and all of which was affordable. This “one-sheet-of-plywood” bookcase was his idea: Materials: *A note on plywood: The quality of plywood can vary greatly, from supplier-to-supplier. It can be very disappointing to spend hours on a project like this and then discover that there are gaps in the layers or imperfections in the veneer. Do yourself a favor and take the time to source a nice, evenly-finished piece, with thick layers (a sheet should have no more than 7 smooth plies and the thicker the veneer, the better). - 1 sheet (4’ x 8’) of birch or maple-veneered 3/4” plywood - 1-1/2” long size 8 wood screws (min. 30 of them) - “finishing washers” for size 8 screws (min. 15 of them) – these are also sometimes called “cup washers” - 1/2” long size 8 wood screws (min. 55 of them) - 3/4” x 3/4” x 3/4” 90° metal braces (if you look in the assembly photos, you’ll see what these look like – they’re going to hold the shelves in place) - cabinet/furniture legs (check out the Besta legs, at Ikea – I don’t have access to Ikea, so I can’t confirm how they’re made…you’ll have to investigate your options carefully in order to be sure that they’ll work) - 1 quart of clear, acrylic polyurethane, in satin finish - 1 foam brush or other suitable applicator for the polyurethane - an electric drill - a size 8 screwdriver bit for the drill - a drill bit suitable for drilling pilot holes for the size 8 screws (a 3/32” drill bit should be fine) - sandpaper (220 grit) - a table saw, if your hardware store can not cut the plywood for you - a pencil - a ruler - a measuring tape - some masking tape or labels to identify your pieces

Preparation Instructions Most hardware stores offer a cutting service (they may charge a small fee per cut, which is totally worth it) when you purchase lumber from them. Have them carry the sheet of plywood over to the saw for you (remember: you break it, you buy it) and give them the following cutting diagrams: Step one: Cut the long pieces and label the first two, using the pencil and masking tape. One will be the top and one will be the bottom. The skinny little strip (colored in gray in the diagram) is waste - you can discard it. Step two: Take the remaining two lengths of wood and cut them like so:

Label them, using the pencil and masking tape. The little piece of waste wood may be discarded.

*Note: Don’t cut your pieces in 24” increments, even though logic would tell you that it’s a good idea. The saw blade “eats up” some wood, so if you stick with the dimensions shown, everything will be modular and therefore, will fit together. Once everything is cut, you will have a nice collection of pieces, ready to pack into your car and take home. You do not need to be driving a truck or an SUV in order to get them

home – I’ve done this several times in my hatchback. Just fold the passenger and back seats down and slide the pieces in. Have a backup plan in case it doesn’t work, but don’t sweat it – there are many ways to get these puppies home. The next step involves finishing your pieces individually, prior to assembling everything. Follow the instructions on your polyurethane, which usually call for applying 2 to 3 coats, sanding before and between coats, and permitting the pieces to dry adequately.

Assembly Instructions The first step in the assembly process is to make a box, using the top, bottom and 2 gable pieces. The top piece will rest ON TOP OF the gables and the bottom piece will be attached UNDER the gables. All the gables are the same height, so if you attach the gables to the ends of the top and bottom, you will have a problem – the intermediate gables won’t fit! You need to carefully identify (in the top and bottom pieces), where the screws will go and drill pilot holes. Use the ruler and pencil for marking the holes and don’t press hard. Each gable gets 6 screws – 3 through the top piece (with finishing washers) and 3 through the bottom. Use the 1-1/2” long screws for this. Obviously, the bottom screws will be concealed, so there’s no need to use finishing washers with them. Mark the placement for and install the three intermediate gables. Here is your gable layout: *Note: Because this here pattern is intended to use only one full sheet of plywood, you will notice that we are missing a shelf. That is ok, we will leave one compartment smaller than the others and it will remain shelf-less. This is what the top of the unit will look like (the bottom will look virtually the same – just without the finishing washers):


The next step is to attach the shelves: Using the 3/4” x 3/4” x 3/4” braces, screw the shelves into the bookcase (use the 1/2” long screws, here). Make sure you also screw up into the bottom of each brace, or your shelves will be wobbly and likely shift around: Once the shelves are in, your only remaining task is to find legs for the unit (or some other imaginative way to elevate the bookcase off the floor, like a plinth made of scrap lumber, bricks, etc). Follow the leg manufacturer’s instructions, keeping in mind that you only have 3/4” of plywood to “bite” into and install at least 6 of them in order to get a good, stable base. Once you’ve made one of these, you’ll find that it becomes addictive. Why not make the next one with sliding doors? Or mount it to the wall, so it floats above the floor? This first bookcase is really just a gateway bookcase…next thing you know, you’ll be whipping together coffee tables on casters, desks, TV stands, you name it! *

*You should trust me on this; my house is filled to the gills with birch plywood furniture.


Watercolor Portraits of Man and Beast Rachael Rossman


The first thing people ask me when they see my paintings is, “How did you do that?” The workman-like answer is that I paint on Yupo, a synthetic, treefree paper. That, and good paint, allow me to realize unbelievable variety and dynamic texture. But the real answer is one my clients already know. My portraits are genuine because someone wants to give a gift. Memorialize a pet. Capture a moment. People share their favorite snapshots with me and I send home a unique watercolor heirloom to live with them. It’s a pretty good gig. I work out of my home studio which is really just a room with a desk in it and my kids’ fingerpaints all over the place. The atmosphere is rife with loud music and studio cats. Most of the time, I am highly caffeinated. – Rachael Rossman


Abstracts Jodi Lopez

Each abstract shown here started as a photograph and became a digital abstract.. It is wonderful to take an image and from it create a brand new piece of art. Abstract is my favorite, as the outcome is never predetermined and mostly a surprise.

ABSTRACTS Top Left: Lost Marbles Bottom Left: Sponge Garden Bottom Right: Anemones


A Force of Nature Kathleen Campbell

I’m a force of nature without a clear idea of where the folded laundry is supposed to end up. I can bring it but I can’t seem to ever finish the dishes or the chores. My brain is in constant machination churning and digesting looks and sounds, gestures and what you didn’t say. I attract people like the moon. I’m fun to watch but no one can reach me. Unless I want them to. Don’t I have a dormant period where I can rest like the rest of nature? I would like to listlessly lap at the shore for a while. If only I didn’t bubble up like an underground spring without warning. But I’m a force of nature. The minute you try to control me I’ll lift your house up and drop it on your head.


From Photo to Fiction Jennifer Simpson

A good way to jump start a story is with a picture. Use any photo, either one you took yourself, or find one online.

Start with a list of questions but don’t answer them just yet. What’s on the other side? Who is that guy with the hat? What does he see? Who is that guy on the other side? Why is there a fence there? What is the fence made of? Is the fence keeping someone out or keeping someone in? What does the air smell like? Do you want to go to the other side? Why (or why not?) Now just start answering the questions. In any order. Stay on one question as long as you like. Skip questions. Ramble on. Jot down words. If you don’t know, imagine. There are no rules. The photo above is one I took while on an excursion with my cousin and her husband so I used this photo to stimulate memory and reflection. Here’s what I came up with:

On the other side people are on the beach: ball games and picnics and music. We can hear it and see it, the scent of roasting meat carried on the salty ocean breeze. Are we keeping them out? Or are they keeping us out? It looks like fun over there. Maybe we are keeping ourselves in, constrained. La linea. La frontera. The line, The border. The outer edge. The end. Casey is curious. He walks up to the fence and wants to feel it, is it warm from the sun? cold hard steel, a rusty patina. It almost looks like a sculpture, public art, but art is meant to engage. People used to meet here, touch hands through the slats of steel. Pass cookies and candies. A bag of groceries. Last time I was here there was no fence. Or rather the fence was not so imposing, chain link maybe. Maybe now it’s electrical. Maybe the border patrol will stop him. I imagine a booming voice from the border patrol van that sits above us, “STEP AWAY FROM THE FENCE.” And I remember a time, a time my friend told me about when her mother was picking shells along the beach here and wandered into Mexico. It was easy then. The fence did not go all the way into the water, only to the edge. She looked up and realized she had crossed the border and the border patrol agent wanted her to go into town to cross at the official entry point. “But my car is right there,” she said. And he let her in. Maybe it was Officer Gomez. I met him on a border patrol ride along back in 1989 or so. I don’t want to get too close. The border fence is now bigger. A double fence. I’m glad we went there when we did. You can’t just walk up anymore. You can’t reach through and touch someone. It’s not very friendly at Borderfield Friendship Park. Homeland Security has ignored environmental concerns and built this fence anyway. It’s strange to me because I don’t think this was where the problem was. You hear more about immigrants crossing through the desert, or coming in on boats, or overstaying their visas, not here at Friendship Park under the watchful eyes of, well, everyone. And so what if someone passed someone a hot dog. Or a taco. The problem is so much bigger, so much more complex and this fence is just a big band-aide that won’t solve the problem. It’s strange that on this side of the fence we are the only ones here: my cousin Katie, her fiancée Casey, the border patrol and me. No one picnics on this side. No one is tossing a Frisbee or cooking hotdogs here. No one is swimming. What are we afraid of? So you see my ramblings don’t make any sense. But that’s okay. This is just the fine. We’re just getting started. The next step is to look at what you wrote: a sentence, a turn of phrase here, a word there. Find the heart of the piece. Find a new starting point, or chuck the whole thing! The whole point of this exercise is to play with words, to tap into your creative self, and if you’re lucky you’ll get the start of an essay or a poem or a great sentence you can use later.


Snowy Color / Leah Peterson


There is Beauty in Movement Kathleen Campbell

There is beauty in movement from outside and within. When an arm moves just so it is graceful, full of grace. The right time and the right place. There’s a reason. The perfect dance. It feels right and it looks just stunning. A head turns a shoulder lifts a face full of life whether old or new bright. The way a hand can linger long enough to matter. The way eye lashes catch the rain and then they fall and splatter. Using muscles that burn lifting pushing being still all of it is movement and all of it is beauty all of it, all of it.

I’m Almost in the Groove I’m almost in the groove. I’m really close to the groove. I’m so close I can smell the groove. I can see the groove from here. I would like to be in the groove but I’m not. Sometimes I am square inside but most of the time I’m looking at the groove from a long ways away. Thinking of when I’ll be in the groove moving along and knowing what’s what and being down with the right things and to feel moving up and to go with the flow and to be here and now I sput and I stop then I catch up and how I want to throw a leg in though I might wrench my back so it’s safer to stay just above the track hovering closer and clearly intended to land with a smack and to not be rear-ended by anybody trying to get in the way of me and my groove. I say watch out! You better move. I am definitely very close to being almost in the groove.


crying: an evolution

Alma Meeker

I’ve been craving autumn lately. How the trees in my neighborhood bend over like little octogenarian men seeking sandwiches from the deli down the street. How the leaves transform into tissue-bright confetti and float onto my face. How the clarity of cold sunshine slaps me awake by mid-afternoon. I miss its harsh delicacy, mostly - probably - because it reminds me of me. I feel most myself in October. October is the month my Mama got sick. It’s the month a paramedic knocked on my bedroom door. It’s the month I lost everything I thought I needed to be myself. A year after that day, I remember walking down to the Esquire. It was Sunday, and since her death, Sundays were my day to watch movies alone. So, I started walking through the park - felt the rain kiss my freckles. Saw an ex and his dog. Hid behind a tree. Waited. The movie was about a woman who loses her father. I cried alone in the darkest spot of the theatre. Bawled would be more like it. When it was over, I walked down the streets of my neighborhood - sobbing - completely engulfed in wet death - stopping for coffee to revive my numb hands. It started pouring, and I - myself - poured harder. When I got home, I dried myself off - hopped in a hot shower - washed away every bit of sadness I could. And the next day, I was better. I’ve learned that alone is not a sentence to endure. Tears are not torpedoes to inflict. These things are gifts I give to myself that make me more me - that help me be human enough to remember the very humans I’m noticing aren’t here.



Karen Walrond



Candice Dayoan


Time for Harvest. Blessings Abundant. Renewal of Spirit. Anticipation of what is to come. Hope for the next season of our lives. – j. lopez

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