Stop Touching Things

"Miss! you can't touch the artwork..."
"He means you, too, G-ma"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nothing a good pile o' leaves can't cure

Fall is the most favorite time of the year in Howktown.  Of course, my birthday being in the best time of fall has a lot to do with it, but that is not the only reason.

There is also the way you can put the youngin's to work in the yard cleaning up the detritus from yesterday's windstorm.   Noticed the tyke size rakes Grampy made sure was available for their little hands! Oh wait, they volunteered. They love raking up the leaves.

I don't blame them either, because once you rake them up, you get to do fun things like bury your sister and her two kids in the pile and take pictures of her.  Or if you're six you can pretend that you're a leaf monster and the big pile of leaves are your stomach. Everything you eat ends up in the pile.  Including your sister and your mom. 

Or if you're four, you can reason that the sun won't be in your eyes if they are covered in leaves. So here is a big pile of musty dead leaves in your face and down your shirt. 

Yup, those things are great about fall, too. Feeling the hot sun on your face and cool breeze in your hair at the very same time...

Of course then there is that last ditch effort to get some fun in before the winter sets in. That's a very important quality that you'll notice about northerners. They don't want to forget to get everything in.  I feel that way sometimes in life, too. I don't think that a person can dwell on it too much, otherwise you'll spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing. Rest assured good friends, I spent this afternoon doing. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

I am an ARTIST!

The rumors are true, before The Howk became a Professional Massage Therapist, NCTMB, she was an Artist, BS.  That's right, I have credentials that I can pile up after my name and make myself seem important (Hey! I paid for those letters!)

Actually, my mother can tell you that I've been saying that I wanted to be an Artist since I was four years old. It's one of those few childhood memory snippets that I still remember. I also remember thinking I didn't know how the hell I was going to make that happen outside of school.

self-portrait 1997 copyright Erin Howk 

Oh, I put my degree to use. I worked JOBS in the arts, but somehow it isn't quite the same. So, I changed careers and put the actual making of physical pieces of art on hiatus. I needed to do it for a couple of reasons. One I was struggling with a culturally implanted conception of what it meant to be an artist. You stayed at home working your butt off wearing dirty clothes and smelling of garlic and cigarettes for little return until you hit your big break. That doesn't sound very fun, and I didn't have much passion for that type of lifestyle. Oh, I like garlic, but I don't smoke and I wash my clothes regularly.

What was I to do?  Give up the artist moniker and embrace my new MT one?  I tried that for a while, but I just felt a little empty and incomplete.

Then I decided, well if I'm not making art, I certainly need to be a Patron of the Arts!  I'll collect!  I'll support! I'll find room somewhere in this closet to store all of the stuff I buy! I will, I swear!  I have to say this helped for a while. I have some beautiful pottery at home. Including some from this artist.

After a while I felt  I was letting my 4 year old self down. I TOLD people I was going to be an artist! I have to live up to my word!

I kind of forgot about it for awhile, running my business took priority. I started reading more blogs by what I considered creative people and artists.  I came to the conclusion that it isn't the collections, the portfolios, or the gallery showings that make a person an artist, not completely. It has a lot to do with your approach to life. Your mind is a creative mind, in that it creates things out of seemingly nothing and changes the perspective of their world.  This is done through writing, drawing, photography, cooking, speaking, singing, laughing, hugging, massaging, and healing.

Here I was limiting my soul to a path that is decidedly the antithesis of what it means to be an artist. A pre-defined, static path is for Math! Sheesh.

I hope to look down from heaven and view my life path as a beautiful intricate drawing. One with turns and surprises. One with layers and meaning beyond even my understanding.  That is what it is to be an artist.

Which is awesome for my closet.

Art Inspiring Blogs That I Read:

Accidental Mysteries  I love this blog. It does all the work for me. The author searches the internet and other collections for interesting artistic interactions with the world. Sometimes it is just your artist mind that sees the creative process in the objects, sometimes its a feature on an honest to goodness working artist (aka, not a lazy one like me).

Lobster and Swan This website is so beautiful. Not every post is art. Sometimes it is what the author is eating that day, or inspirations she sees in a magazine. She is also an etsy seller, and I have purchased and item or two from her. Handcrafted and easy to own. What could be better!

REMEMBER that give away I told you about? I wasn't lying. I would love to surprise a reader with something off their Amazon wish list (up to $20 value).

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment answering this question: What blog(s) do you find inspiring?

I'll pick a winner randomly on my birthday.

Don't forget, you can also follow this blog! Click follow me at the right!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shot through the heart!

Deb enjoying 2 for 1s and the self described "Black Madonna" behind her.

In Howktown, birthdays are a national holiday. Friends birthdays are not be excluded from the celebratory shennanigans. So when good old NOH said 80's night, I said. Howktown will support this diplomatic action.

So, I loaded up the Shark and drove to St. Paul to partake in some good old fashion 80's night goofiness.  There was a costume contest, but I remember gleefully destroying anything I had from the 80's as way to rid the world of those middle school demons, so I opted for regular clothes that were clean and didn't reveal too much of my age.

It was a girls night for sure. We were all giddy at not having to pay a cover, but then they gave us a free drink ticket! Who Hoo it's going to get all crazy up in here!  We went to the back bar to order when they told us it was 2 for 1 rails until 11.  It couldn't get any better for a birthday party!

The music started out great, he annouced that it was going to be 80's night AND a Micheal Jackson tribute! We were on our way to the best birthday celebration a 30 something could ask for!

Unfortunately, their idea of a request list was a piece of paper on a clip board that was completely ignored. The eighties music featured New Edition, Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, and Metallica.  Oh, they threw in the odd NKTOB and Cindy Lauper, but they were so far and few between, I couldn't really get a good dance groove on.

Wait? Wasn't this supposed to be a Michael Jackson Tribute Night? Oh, yes! At 11:45 pm, they played 3 MJ songs in a ROW! Wow, what a tribute. Then after playing Motley Cru, they played 2 more MJ songs, after that they started repeating the MJ songs they already played and ignoring the ones that I requested.

Oh did I mention the service was horrible, and the creep factor on the dudes in the bar was high? Indeed.

Well. Now that I have just spent the last several minutes bitching. We had an awesome time. I hadn't seen Deb in 2 years, and I hadn't been out drinking with her in at least 4. It was great to see my college pals and sing out loud to Bon Jovi at our table while drinking rail 2 for 1's.  When I think back to when we were all in school, this is how it was when we went out all the time. The DJ plays the songs we like early when no one is there, the service shitty because it is so damn busy and they are understaffed, and we have an awesome time anyway.

This time, though, we didn't have a final exam the next morning.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Civic Minded!

Protesters outside Mankato High School

So a coupla months ago, Kylie was assigned to cover a Health Care Town Meeting in our area.  I tagged along and sat 'with the press' which means I sat next to my sister in a filled to capacity high school auditorium.

As you can imagine, there was heated debate, gross misinformation, yelling, clapping, booing, cheering, rabble-rousers, and regular old folks.  We all know about that stuff; we hear about it everyday. I'm not going to try and explain my position on health care or anything like that...

I am going to say this: It was a very American experience. There was a lot of emotion involved in this 'get together' and not all of it was positive, but the fact that we could all get together and talk about it without getting arrested, molested, or lined up at a firing squad afterwards was quite inspiring to my sense of nationalism.

We may never all agree on anything. There will still be people out there who will be convinced by the absurd things they read on the internet. There may even be a time when the government makes a mistake (or five).  However, our democracy is formed by the people, and our ideals are reflected in it.  Their mistake is our mistake.  Once we take responsibility for that, I think we can better work toward positive outcomes.

We are a strong people. We have choices. We can participate in our government. Nothing is hopeless. Let's stop pointing fingers and work with what enormous amount of resources that we have been given.

*** stumbles of soapbox***

ahem. WELL, I say.


Here is something that I have always wanted to do:

Randomly search Amazon public wish lists and buy someone a gift.  It is a wish list after all, and wouldn't it be awesome to have something magically appear?

What wish would you like to grant?

Friday, September 25, 2009

As We Prepare for a Grand Celebration...

As I am sure MANY of you know, next week is a national holiday in Howktown. It will be a week long celebration with much jubilation and celebratory confetti spontaneously falling from the sky whenever I walk by.  At least that's how I imagine my birthday to be.

Considering some claim that Howktown is all in my imagination, I am choosing to believe that there will be confetti. Lots of it. Multi colored and shiny. And it instantly is cleaned up when I leave.

In celebration, I am going to try and post everyday... and I am going to have a give away. I'm not going to tell you which day that is going to be, you'll have to keep reading. hehehehe. That's a little trick I learned by reading other people's blogs.

On that note, I have a list of blogs that I read that I want to share with you.  I believe in the statement that you have to be a good reader to be a good writer, and I also think you should be a blog reader if you want to be a blogger. 

I read a blog today that asked question "Is teaching cursive handwriting really necessary?"  I thought this was an interesting question because I immediately wanted to say "Of course it is you IDIOTS!" with no really founding to why 'they' were idiots. Instead, I read through the comments and thought about it a bit.  How do we communicate these days... via facebook, blogs, and twitter.  Who really writes anything any more aside from post it notes? 

I am loathe to put cursive to the side. I love the act of writing things out. It is like drawing to me. Of course, I was also tortured with re-writing reports until they were legible, and as a consequence, I have great handwriting.  I also work in a office where people fill out forms. The young people who come in have terrible handwriting.  It's shaky, ill formed, and and and ugly. I hate it. Truth be told, their printing is just as bad, but should we waste our time on teaching cursive? 

I am happy to know that I have the skills for handwriting things and can teach my children the art if need be, but I am sad to see it go by the wayside, but young enough to realize this 'technology' thing we have is here to stay. So, I am embracing the art of electronic story telling in the blog as a means to feel closer to the human race. Just as you can choose your friends, you can choose the blogs you read and I choose to read ones that are overall positive, humorous, and beautiful. to look at.

We will start with the one that got me hooked into the world of the blog:

One day I was unemployeed. The next several days I was bored. I was surfing channels and started watching Star Trek: The Next Generation Marathon. Then I wondered.. What ever happened to the guy who played Wesley Crusher? I had a huge crush on Wil Wheaton when I was 14...

Here he is in all his adult glory.

Wil Wheaton's Blog


The Mayor of Ingvaldia has reported a confirmed case of the HINI flu in her household. The infected party succumbed to a sudden onset of symptoms, followed by several days of fever and malaise. The Mayor herself denies any ill feelings herself, although she remains on alert. Stay tuned for further developments.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Basil, basil, everywhere

A trip with the Mayor of Ingvaldia this weekend to the Minneapolis Farmers' Market was truly food for the soul.
I know I will sound cliched, but the sounds, colors, and movement at the market under the freeway overpasses always refreshes my spirit and my palate. I restrained myself this year and bought only a bushel of red, ripe tomatoes and two huge bouquets of basil A bouquet of basil? Yes. That is the only way to describe it. To hold it I had to nestle in the crook of my arm, exactly like I would a dozen roses. I brought them home, put them in water, and am enjoying the new fragrance my home is bathed in.
I took the leaves of one bouquet and made nut-free pesto, enough to freeze and to use. I stuffed one of those succulent tomatoes with it, baked it, and was content.
Now I have another bunch and I am at an impasse. Do grind it and freeze it in little cubes like Trader Joe? Do I dry it? Do I make more pesto? The possibilities surround me and delight me and overwhelm me. Basil, basil, everywhere.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

2009 Summertime Enjoyment Implement

Living in the north midwest, one comes to realize several facts in life: Layering is a must, carrying around a extra pair of socks is a good idea, and the summers are short.

This particular summer seems extra short because we only had ONE day above 90°F.   Sure we had hot days here and there, but nothing lasting.  The tomatoes barely made it this year, and we are eeking out the last of peppers... a normally bountiful crop.

I'll tell you what though,  sure beats -20° on good day in January.  So, I'm not complaining.  Instead I'm maximizing my summertime effort! We only get 3 months of warm weather, people!

This year Howktown has chosen the Hammock as the preferred 2009 Summertime Enjoyment Implement! (I tried writing this post in the hammock, but it fell over, I hit my back, I whined a little bit, and then decided for the "safety of my laptop", I should sit inside.)

The great thing about a hammock is, people perceive you as enjoying your yard that you've sweated over all summer, instead of being lazy and avoiding making dinner for the family. Not that I've ever done that. Also, if it gets a little chilly, blanket and pillow will travel!  Plus, so far this hammock has survived at least 3 pig piles.

Howktown Approves:  The Hammock

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A tasty failure

Jo Jo Potato's visit was not only made famous by lackluster acid cooked fish, but also by a brilliantly disastrous attempt at confectionery cuteness.

Have any of you read Bakerella's blog? Well, let me tell you, if you like cakes and sweets that are beyond cute, take a peek. A while back I was reading her posts on making Cake Pops, and after a whole season of sheep, bunnies, cupcake, chicks, and many other cute cakes on a stick, I had to try it.

I figured the only way I'd make this idea more Minnesotan was to deep fry it after I got it on the stick... (hey, that's not a bad idea!) but I was going to pass on that this time around and stick with the recipe.
The red velvet cake was a spectacular photo op! Photos mostly by Jo Jo Potato, some by me.

The goal was grand. It was going to be a culinary and artistic combination that only foodie artists could achieve! In our minds it was going to be impressive.

Here is what we came up with.

notice all the lumps, cake peeking through the frosting, and cake balls to heavy for the sticks?

We had a couple of execution errors in there. It became clear to us that it wasn't as easy as it looked and that something that we took for granted (like the size of the cake ball on the stick. Bigger isn't better!) were more important that anticipated.

Once again, my parents loved them. My mom said that if you didn't know what they were supposed to look like, they looked 'kinda cool'. That's kind of like responding to a kids painting in art class with "interesting" if you ask me.

The upside to this wrecktastic adventure was these cake on stick thingies actually taste good no matter what they look like.

Plus we found that putting a little ribbon around the stick improved there appearance score quite a bit. That is until...
You drop them on your way into work so all the sticks are poking out making them look like impaled brains.  Go HOWK!