Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Untitled artwork by Diane Simon

Creating a positive emotional space is the goal of Diane Simon. She specializes in interior design, large canvases, and decorated furniture. Her environments are bright, bold, and brassy. No room for sorrow.

Primary and neon tones dominate Diane’s installations. She delights in crafting single rooms or an entire residence. If you seek an energizing place, you’ll find it with Diane’s work. She decorated the entirety of her bright airy home from floor to ceiling. I was impressed by the energy that the paintings, furniture, and kitchen backsplash imbibed.

As a child she drew all the time. She grew up in Wisconsin, went to school in Duluth, lived in Florida and New York City. She worked for five years as an Intensive Care Unit nurse but the stress was overwhelming. Ms. Simon moved onto a career in retail sales and was not fulfilled or challenged. Art made her feel alive and she found praxis by painting large 50 x 75 inch canvases.

She has a bright smile and cheerful chuckle. The canvases evoke movement and complications that belie her quiet demeanor. Many of the pieces have splashes of black and white paint layered on top. Her more traditional abstract paintings deal with social and political themes. Golden Paints is her exclusive source of hue. www.goldenpaints.com

Art Wrx By Dyne Gallery is open by appointment and during St. Paul Art Crawls in the Northwestern Building located at 275 East 4th Street, Suite 480, Saint Paul, MN 55101. Call 651-235-4200 for information. Ms. Simon won the “Ima Best in Show” award for her display at the 2011 Fall St. Paul Art Crawl. Read the review posted on October 24th, 2011.

Photo features interior design by Diane Simon. Sorry, there is an issue with the download which I will strive to resolve.

Toot your horn!
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Monday, January 30, 2012


It was a cold winter day, around –10 below zero. I was visiting my friend Lana D on her dairy farm. After breakfast we pulled on our snowsuits and returned to the barn. We crawled up to the upper hayloft since they had an extra tall barn to throw down bales for the cattle to consume. I had assisted with this endeavor many times and wasn’t worried. My friend knew of my fear of altitude and would let me pitch from near the wall and not the edge. The precipice was a sixty-foot drop to the barn floor.

We tossed bales into the shoot leading to the milking parlor. Her dad closed the hatch when we had sent down enough. The hay were needed for the next couple days and we commenced to climb down. Bales are staked to each other. The stakes are long pieces of rebar that anchor one layer of bale to another. You stake each bale on the edge of the stack to improve stability. Otherwise the weight causes the stack to bow out and fall down. Unfortunately, I stepped on a corner bale that wasn’t secured. Of course, it began to twist. I wore heavy gloves and could not catch hold of another bale’s twine. I could feel the corner bale letting loose. Lana reached but could not catch me. She and her older sister grew smaller as they yelled louder. I propelled backwards forty feet and thumped onto the loft, bounced and fell another twenty feet to the floor. I fell onto my back with a wallop and everything went black.

At first I heard voices. Some loose straw on the hard cement floor had cushioned my fall but knocked me breathless. Lana and Laura had crawled down and were afraid that I was dead. Their screams stirred their father from inside the barn. He had been tending to the chilled animals. I opened my eyes and he was standing over me. He tentatively asked if I was in pain but I didn’t know because I was in shock. I felt woozy. As a fourth grader I must have weighed 80 pounds but he gently lifted me, trudged through the snow and took me inside. Laura had run ahead to alert her mother and Lana kept talking to me. I was laid upon the kitchen table. Mrs. D had been a LPN before she got married and knew how to triage a patient. She carefully poked and prodded me. No broken bones were found and I didn’t have symptoms of internal bleeding. However, I was rather confused so it was concluded that I had a concussion.

A long distance call was made to my parents. A blinding blizzard had drifted six-foot mounds over the roads during the night. It would have been profoundly difficult to get me into a town with a hospital. Nonetheless, the local ambulance was put on alert. If I showed any signs of trauma a plow would be used to break the road open for the ambulance and I would be ferried two miles to the plow on the back of a snowmobile. This was the 1970s so they opted to keep me awake. Their entire family focused on making certain that I did not slumber. We played board games, ate, drank a lot of tea and coffee, watched the two television channels that came in, talked, and drove each other a little batty. Someone was always with me as they took turns sleeping.

The next morning I was declared safe and as soon as the plows went by I was hurried into town. I was exhausted and deeply saddened. I wanted to stay a couple more days on the farm. It was one of the happiest places of my childhood. Lana had a kind and loving family who laughed a lot, polar opposite of my repressed and angry family. Their family wasn’t perfect but they faced their problems with love instead of fear. My fear of heights has never faded.

Read the first part of this remembrance “D is for Dairy” posted on January 26th.

Milkaholic = liquid lactose lover.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Lana D. was my best friend during elementary school. We were in the same first grade classroom and became buddies. Born on the cusp of Generation X. My older siblings qualified as Baby Boomers and she had one older and two younger siblings. She epitomized her Scandinavian and Germanic ancestors with dusty blonde hair, sparkly blue eyes and pale skin. Lana was affable and had a terrific laugh. She had average intelligence but above-average instincts regarding social interactions. She was the first person to accept me. Even when we weren’t in the same primary classroom we sat next to each other during lunch and hung out on the playground.

Her family farmed. Sixty Holstein milk cows with pasture and crops. They resided far enough from town that it was long distance to call her house. During the summer we would meet when her mom came in to get groceries, 4-H meetings, and at community events. Dairy farmers are married to their herds as much as to their families. The cows must be milked at the same time twice per day. Variation in the schedule causes stress. Stress will make an animal sick, produce less milk, and sick animals die. Dead animals don’t pay the bills. They ran a nearly organic dairy since they rarely used drugs to treat the animals for illness.

Farming is a difficult and dangerous job. Mr. D refused to buy the huge tractors and fancy equipment, which became vogue in the 1970s. He preferred to fix machines until they were beyond repair. They didn’t take out loans and was careful with money. He inherited a portion of the farm and was gradually paying off his siblings for the rest. No mortgage needed, his sisters and brothers knew that they would be compensated. It took twenty years of toil but Mr. & Mrs. D paid for the farm in full. The conservative financial strategy saved their enterprise for another generation.

I visited the farm every six weeks or so during grade school. I often spent long weekends there or part of the break. That was back in the day when we had a two-week Christmas vacation so I’d hang out with them from the day after Christmas to the New Year. Occasionally, Lana would stay with me in town. I was embarrassed because our house was a mess. Chaotic, cluttered, and crowded with temperamental teenaged siblings. I was delighted to holiday at the farm, I felt safe and comfortable. Their house was less than ten years old since the old farmhouse was abandoned after his parents retired and moved into town.

We drank milk straight from the cow’s teat (after refrigeration). Utterly delicious creamy and dreamy. Nectar of the Gods. Whole milk seems sterile in comparison. Skim milk is colored water. Mr. D would bring in a jug of cream and we would use an old churn to break up the fat molecules. Drain off the whey (give it to the barn cats); add a little salt and the result was scrumptious butter. Note: Unpasteurized milk may contain microbes that will cause digestive problems if you aren’t accustomed to the product. Never give to children or people who are ill. It is best to be monitored by doctor. Pasteurization heats the milk to kill off the microbes.

I helped with the chores. We would get up at 5am to feed the animals while her dad milked. Polka music would blare in the milking parlor because the cows liked the music. They also enjoyed symphonic music but her dad didn’t. The cows would kick and maw when rock-n-roll was played. It would take about an hour. We’d stumble in, strip off our stinky clothes on the porch, put on a robe, and hop in the shower (they had three). By the time we were dressed her mom would have prepared a hearty breakfast that we would inhale and run out to play. Her dad would call us to help with chores again and it would be lunchtime. Sometimes a nap or more play and chores again. Evening milking, shower, dinner, and relaxation. Her dad would check on the cattle again and go to bed after the 10pm news. We needed to know the weather report. Her mom worked just as hard in the house and helped in the barn and fields, too. The rhythm was around the cattle. Their needs were priority because they were the literal butter of the business.

Contented cows grazed on pastureland during the warm months. The D’s grew field corn to feed the cattle during the winter. The leftover stalks were chopped into silage to supplement the corn gluten. It smelled horrible as it fermented in the silo and was explosive. Extra land grew oats or wheat depending upon what was most profitable to sell. After the grain was harvested, the hay was valuable to the cattle. I tried to help with baling hay but my allergies were relentless. I could sling the heavy bales but suffered greatly.

We would go to the Lutheran Church on the windswept prairie for Sunday services. Surrounded by fields and next to a cemetery. It would be packed full with folding chairs added to the back. I thought it was unusual to have specific materials to read since my parent’s church had none. Why vow to the Holy Catholic Church if you were Lutheran? Didn’t Martin Luther get excommunicated? It was all very peculiar to me. I was more interested in the cute guys who were parishioners but attended another school district.

Lana and I gravitated to different groups during junior and senior high school. We still remained friendly but weren’t friends anymore. I hope that she is doing well. I’d try to find her but she has changed her last name. It is demoralizing for women to give up their last name when getting married. We aren’t cattle. I’ll hyphen if he hyphens or else we can combine our last names together to create something new. Period. End of Discussion.

In retrospect, I should have tried to woo one of her younger brothers. The thought never entered my mind when I lived there. I would have loved to be on the farm. When I was 17 a swine farmer proposed and I said no. Great guy but I wanted to go to college. I knew that if I got married before finishing school that would be the end of my education. I didn’t realize that a person’s path might change through time. I would have been content to work part time in town and help coordinate the business aspect of farming. Who could predict that the Internet would reduce isolation? Too late to hold regrets. Heavy sigh.

Got Milk?
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Try, try again is the old adage. My hair turned shiny white about ten years ago. I don’t mind but I do feel irritated that people presume that I am 65 years old since I’m 40-something. Last month I tried to color my hair back to a light blonde but the result was negligible. There was a slight blonde sheen to my hair.

My neighbor, Sandy, is a professional cosmotologist. Actually, many members of her family are hair-follicle inclined since both her brother and brother-in-law own barber shops. She has been kind enough to cut my hair for $10 during my unemployment. I also let her park in my driveway during snow emergencies. When she learned of my attempt at color she offered to assist. She was afraid that I would miss a spot and have a white streak amid the new tone. Sandy instructed me to purchase a light golden brown kit.

I procured Clairol’s Nice’N Easy Natural Lightest Golden Brown ll4A. She came over and applied the hue. I made her a cup of tea and we chatted for a half an hour waiting for the dye to take hold. It didn’t smell too horrible but the cats avoided the kitchen. I rinsed out the goo and was surprised when I looked in the mirror. The result was a light red tone. Thankfully, it goes well with my pale coloring. My original honey blonde hair had natural red highlights. However, it is a rather flat dull hue. I’m not sure if I should let it be or make an attempt at a darker color. Sandy said that it should wash out to a strawberry blonde tone. My dad had red hair as a child and my grandniece has beautiful red-gold hair.

I will have to decide before interview #18 since I didn’t get a good vibe from #17. I’m only coloring my hair to get a job. I have no desire to keep up the ruse after I become employed. It’s just stupid that people make assumptions about white hair. Alas, I berated hair related discrimination in my last column about this topic on December 22nd, 2011.

The power of red.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Monday, January 23, 2012


After viewing the fabulous work of hundreds of talented artists I have selected a few to highlight. Several “Ima Best” awarded artists will be interviewed in a series of articles entitled, “Artist Illumination.” Alison Price was featured on January 9th and look for more in the future.

The artists listed represent perhaps one percent of the imaginative folks that I surveyed at three crawls and two fairs in the Twin Cities area during 2011. Amalgamated directory alphabetized by artist. All are wonderfully creative so please contact for details regarding their current work for sale and commissions. Let the artist know that you read about them in this blog. Suggestions to improve art crawls posted on December 5th, 2011.

* Abbi A. Allan paints dreamy images of goldfish and sculpts frilly ceramic bowls that mimic the flowing tails of the fish www.abbiaallan.com
* Tom Ashworth specializes in humorous black walnut characters from an alternate universe with a surprising mix of attachments tomashworthart@q.com He will have a booth at the 2012 Powderhorn Art Fair.
* Katherine Clayton makes unique cement basins, printed floorcloth rugs, stunning kelpie horse paintings, clothing, and grows plants www.etsy.com/shop/GriffinDesign
* Alison Price’s paintings explode off the wall. They are neon bright with swooping movements www.alisonpricestudios.com
* Diane Simon specializes in big bold paintings and brassy accessories 651-235-4200

* Lisa Jaster is a role model of community involvement, friendly, offers a superb caloric spread at art crawls, and takes memorable photographs www.lmjoriginals.com

* Nicole Fierce offers yummy food to nosh and creates fantastic glasswork, earrings and photographs fierce.nicole@gmail.com

* Hannah Albert’s Japanese woodblock inspired series is fabulous. She blends the outline of a photo with color resulting in amazing flow www.mantrart.typepad.com
* Beth Barron creates splendid fabric art www.bethbarronart.com
* Watch where you are walking or at least see beauty revealed in manhole covers Mark Barsness at Markbarsness@aol.com
* Jeff & Darlene Dawald make fine art jewelry with personality. Gorgeous silver smithing, animals and shapes with fun designs jdawald@charter.net
* Linda Day’s clay makes you smile. Interesting interpretations of cups, teapots, clocks, and other objects with silly illustrations www.lindadayclay.com
* Susan Elnora captures skulls and bones with her jewelry www.susanelnora.blogspot.com
* Stunning aurora borealis and funky jewelry are Marla Gamble’s forte 651-224-6711
* Timothy Granlund is a skilled wood artisan and cabinet-maker www.prairie-woodworking.com
* Karen Gustafson works in many forms but the sonographic prints are eerie www.karengustafsonstudios.com
* Christina Habibi fantastical images open one's vision. www.habibiart.com
* Laura Hallen paints hyper flowers. They hum from the canvas www.laurahallen.com
* Laura Holewa has a community of fun little bright clay monsters to scare away the ones in your closet www.lolamade.etsy.com
* Phil Holtan turns out attractive burl (berle) wood bowls and flower vases. Polished to a soft sheen www.philholtan.net
* Andrew Johnson makes quirky tableaus that look like small paintings until you notice that the various stitches appear like paint strokes www.thestitchmaestro.com

* Ochen Kaylan features bright starburst which appear like Hubble Space Telescope photos www.ochenk.com
* Kevin Kluever has a soothing zen-like approach to landscapes. The light is warm and the scenes are charming. Breathe deep and relax… www.kevinwkluever.com
* Daron W. Krueger takes magnificent photos www.opgart.com/daron
* Caprice Kueffner Glaser builds and paints wood tableaus at www.8blockrule.com
* Tino Lopez-Montoya sculpts Dia de los Muertos day-of-the-dead inspired canines www.baddawgart.com
* Melvin McGee is a graphic artist who paints busy worlds with capricious animals in vivid tones www.melvinmcgee.com
* Calm meditative landscapes are painted by Tom McGregor www.mcgregorpaintings.blogspot.com
* Andrea Martin snips out intricate hand cut paper art. Bugs can be beautiful www.andrearmartin.com
* Marisa Martinez incorporates cool beads and mini glass sculptures into jewelry www.meztizadesigns.com
* Robin Mueller molds quirky animal sculptures www.whimsiesdesign.com
* Jackson Mwaura is a skilled soapstone sculptor. He carves common human forms, funny animals and a profoundly cute painted hippo www.jartsproducts.com
* E. Alejandro Ortega’s custom leatherwork smelled wonderful. He details masks, animals, swords, shields, and sheaths www.madebyalejandro.com
* DeAnne L. Parks artwork is quite ingenious and dream-like www.artdeanne.com
* Julie Peterson & Sara Ruhnow adhere cool mosaics using buttons, marbles and several types of medium www.funkytile.webs.com
* Margaret Pezalla builds funky three-dimensional architectural imaginations and paints meteorite studies www.mpezella.com
* Fairies would approve of jewelry fashioned by Amy Purdes www.spritecreations.com

* Nancy Reyner’s waves feel like they are about to crash upon you www.nancyreyner.com
* Sylvia A. Roman haunting ghostly images of the veiled prairie www.saromanstudios.com
* Demetra Saloutos offers a wide selection. She welds eccentric vine trellis and bird watering bowls with a labyrinth 608-873-1842
* Moody ominous storm cloud paintings don’t match the sunny personality of Jamie Lauler Solberg www.wix.com/jamielauler/solberg
* Adama Sow sculpts bright rainbow colored bowls and neat ceramic colanders www.ceramicsow.com
* Sarah Thornton’s paint-by-number approach to animal portraits is charming www.lintuart.com
* Andree Tracey makes collages. Her fifties fashionista series is quite delightful www.andreecollages.com
* Steampunk fans will enjoy the work of Michael L. Treat. Excellent imagination and miniaturization skills www.etsy.com/people/treatllc
* Mary Rose Van Popperin paints lovely landscape watercolors and quirky folkart pet portraits 612-670-0661
* Brian VanVoorst’s exquisite watercolors look like batik over photographs www.secretthirdoption.com
* Wallace and Anita White are talented siblings. They each have their own style. Wallace has a childlike naiveté as a folk artist, very evocative work. Anita works in myriad mediums to create flower and nature images gingerinez@aol.com
* Flowing fabric falls into woven masterpieces by Sara E. Williams www.loomsong.com

I felt honored to attend and review these events posted:
Art-A-Whirl on June 23rd, 2011
Highland Fest & Art Fair on August 5th, 2011
LOLA Art Crawl on September 21st, 2011
Powderhorn Art Fair on August 25th, 2011
St. Paul Art Crawl on October 24th, 2011
Art Crawl Improvement Suggestions on December 5th, 2011

Support Independent Artists!
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Thursday, January 19, 2012


My house is nearly one hundred years old. I adore it because it looks like an old farmhouse. I love wood floors, radiators, and plaster walls. Unfortunately, due to a combination of wear & tear and ugly renovation by previous occupants, some of the luster is gone. I aim to restore the beauty. In retrospect I should have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to learn the basics of home repair before I purchased my own version of This Old House.

Complications always ensue with every project. Spare bedroom closet revitalization is no exception. It is a small space 41 x 40 inches. I want to use it for seed starting supply storage. This venture was initiated several years ago but constantly got waylaid by other more important tasks and a busy schedule. When I would have time, the walls would be too cold to spackle or paint. Determined in spring of 2011 to complete the task.

Carefully ripped out the built in shelves, probably installed by the original owners. Utilitarian basic wood with wood supports on the sides. Labeled each part so that I could return them to their original position. Removed the horrid carpeting to reveal a removable plywood floor above the original wood floor. Unfortunately, due to a piping reroute, the false floor must remain. Reduced the draft by filling the numerous gaps with expandable foam. Trimmed off the excess foam. Spackled with joint compound. Wore a mask and sanded the compound. Did spackle touchups. Vacuumed the dust. Sneeze, sneeze, cough, cough. Not good for asthmatic lungs.

Remove decades of gunk from the shelves. Some fool had put on shelf-liner and it is ghastly to disengage. Broke a few fingernails and cursed the liner. Used Goo-Gone to remove the glue. Washed off the shelves with a mild solution of TSP (nasty but effective cleaner). Spackled the dents. Sanded. Glad that is was warm enough to do these tasks outside.

Prepared for indoor painting. Taped areas that should not be decorated, positioned several layers of newspaper over the old wood floor outside the closet, and placed a painting canvass on top. My arthritic hands ache and elbow hurts if I use the full sized roller. Utilized the mini-roller, which is about a third of the size. Wore latex gloves and old clothes. I am a terrible painter; I don’t like staying inside the lines so it is torture to be neat. It is a very stressful activity and exhausting. Plus, the fumes can make me cough and could trigger an asthma attack – even low VOC (volatile organic compounds). I tried wearing the anti-latex fumes mask but nearly suffocated. Kept the windows open and turned on a fan to vent out the stench.

Primed a spot in the bathroom that requires painting, painted the closet walls and part of the floor that is nailed down. Went outside to smother the six shelves and removable plywood floor with hue. Greeted a neighbor and she teased me because I had paint on my face, arm and in my hair. Decided that a ruptured area of the spare bedroom ceiling should be tended to. Scraped off the old peeling paint (I think there was water leakage years ago but not since I moved in) and felt dizzy with both arms in the air. Probably inhaled old lead based paint. Spackled the ceiling, let it dry and lightly sanded. One chore has become three…

Touched up bits of the closet, primed the ceiling, and the shelf supports that I had ripped out. Finally ready for the topcoat. I decided to use antique white because regular white is too dang bright. Closets should be white in hue, regardless of the room’s color. Covered the bathroom area (two feet by three feet), the ceiling spot (three feet by three feet), the closet, and the shelves. Let the first coat dry and did a second coat because the paint was too thin. Don’t buy Designers Image brand from Menards. Touched up walls and painted the shelf supports.

Attached the shelf supports and used the level to make certain that they were in the correct position. Of course, I positioned one of the supports incorrectly and had to hack off about a quarter of an inch to squeeze in the shelf. I should have drawn a mock up of the shelves with labels and avoided this problem. Painted top coat over the shelf supports and let it dry. Touch ups. Put in the shelves and added additional supports under the shelves. Thankfully, my neighbor let me borrow his drill to accelerate this process along. However, the drill has no slow speed so it stripped a couple screws before I learned how to handle the throttle. Two shelves have a runner board against the wall. Had to buy some wood to fill in a gap, of course the wood wasn’t the right height so I had to fill in with a splint. Can I scream now???

The best laid plans of mice and men… Continued DIY purgatory due to family visit, job search, and fall chores outside. Finally finished putting up the shelves. Frustrated that the paint I used on the floor is flaking so I have to put on a coat of polyurethane. Plus, paint another coat on the bathroom wall. Concluding steps are delayed due to cold weather. Must wait for the spring to open windows and apply hue. Cleaned up the mess, returned items to their proper places and felt good for what has been accomplished thus far. As soon as the floor is completed I can finally utilize the closet to store items. Stymied by winter but nearing the proverbial end of the tunnel in spring 2012. Noticed that the NE corner of the closet collects moisture. I should probably open it up and add some insulation, ugh!

The spare bedroom functions as a seedling factory starting in February until the ground is warm enough to plant. Owning a home has taken a lot more time to organize, tasks to complete, and expense than I originally predicted. I have no desire to return to renting. I will be able to hire a handyperson after I procure a job and save some funds. Gardening during the summer and shoveling during the winter takes a lot of effort too. My paternal grandma lived in her own apartment until she was 92. I hope to follow her example, health permitting.

I did it myself!
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Monday, January 16, 2012


It began with a slight sore throat on Tuesday. I foolishly believed it was due to the dry winter air. I took a nap and was refreshed. Wednesday it progressed to a subtle lung congestion accompanied by an occasional cough or sneeze. My sinuses joined the foray into illness by the afternoon. Consumed an over the counter (OTC) medicine to reduce congestion but all it did was make me restless during the night. Did not sleep very much adding to misery.

I felt awful, probably a 6 on a scale of 10 being the worst. Body ache, inability to breathe properly, fatigue, and lack of brain concentration are my woes. Add in menses to the mix and I am not a happy camper. “Happy Camper” does that mean that all people who venture into the woods are joyful? I think not. Anyway, this cold could be worse but it’s not fun. Blissful nap on Thursday helped and I managed to actually conduct job search during the afternoon. Took a different OTC medication for the evening and I managed to sleep part of the night. It is most helpful to utilize the CPAP machine to gain access to sleepyland.

Friday morning still felt bad but the scale had reduced to 5. The internal sinus pressure makes the odd sensation of a balloon tightened around one’s skull. I know enough not to overexert myself during the healing time. I didn’t get a flu shot this season. I dread influenza because it becomes the knock down three-week version of the virus. I’ve also had pneumonia and serious sinus infections in the past. Vomiting is a wretched sensation that I abhor. Coughing up phlegm is a close second. Thankfully, this seems to be a typical cold virus and through rest and lots of water will clear up soon. A friend suggested using a Netti Pot but I do not own one.

I need my energy to devote to job search and accomplishing tasks. Lying on a couch and moaning are not acceptable activities. I usually don’t mind living alone except when I am lonely, overwhelmed or ill. It would be nice to have someone around to fuss over me. Make spicy tomato soup (add onions, garlic, ginger, and hot pepper), peppermint-chamomile tea, and rush me to the doctor if I become profoundly ill. The cats will cuddle with me on the couch but they dash away when I sneeze. My mom likes to say, “It’s for the birds.” What? Why would you give illness to a bird and what would a bird to with the cold? Some colloquial phrases are too weird to explain.

Continued to suffer through the weekend. Today, Monday I am finally on the mend, probably 4 out of the 10-point misery scale. I have an interview later this week so I must recover. Piles of used Kleenexes await addition to the compost bin. Let Nature destroy the evil microbes that caused my body pain and brain fogginess. Never take good health for granted. Illness is most definitely for the birds.

Cold fly away!
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Silence. No dared to breathe loudly. Applause erupted after a pause. The Artaria String Quartet is celebrating their 25th Anniversary with a series of free concerts in the Twin Cities highlighting the monumental work of Dmitri Dimitriyevich Shostakovich.

I have heard some of his large sweeping operas but this is the first time for a live performance of the quartets. Not happy fun tunes but arduous works that express abject sorrow and anger. No wonder the Soviet Union and Stalin himself banned them. Music has a unique method of raising instant emotion and that can be dangerous.

It was nice that the players provided a background regarding the political stance of each quartet. The information helped to frame the internal focus of the composer. It is a visceral experience to be in the same room as musicians. The sound reverberates through your body and up from the floor into your feet. It is best to close your eyes and be swept into the music. No radio or recording can capture this knowledge of notes.

4th Quartet
First movement has a lot of contrasting tones that sound like cries. The second movement features the violin singing a story of loss as the other instruments join in. The uncomfortable volley of flat notes are grating. The third movement uses mutes to accentuate the harmonic chords and there is a pause to turn pages. It then begins to run and incorporates celebratory Klezmeresque themes with a wee bit of William Tell. Oddly, the third movement doesn’t connect to the first part of the piece except for shared lamenting flat notes. All the instruments were permitted some solo passages though the violins were favored. Technically a challenging piece due to the contrasts in the heroic key of D.

8th Quartet
Most well known of the fifteen quartets and dedicated to the composer himself. He uses a personal musical signature with the notes of D-E-C-B and his own name. It was terrific that the musicians pointed this out before the performance. Key of C Minor evokes sorrow and the slowness of the first movement is overwhelmed by a quick gallop into excitable screams. The piece moves into a somber dance pace and many members of the audience began to sway with the music. The softness turned into stomach churning harsh choppy strokes, which may emulate bombs or the knock on the door by the Secret Police. Nightmarish. Sweet tones were then twisted by harsh rasping. The final movement was muted sadness and brought tears to the eyes. WOW!

The Artaria is a group of profoundly skilled musicians. They know each other well enough to take risks with this intense music. They have a passion to share this difficult cycle of work. Thank you to The Shubert Club for sponsoring the outreach to the community. www.artariaquartet.com/ShostyCycle.html for more details.

Play on.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Balmy spring weather was appropriate for a tropical soiree. Actually, it was Bravo TV’s Tabatha Takes Over the Jungle Red Salon Spa Gallery premiere. The event was held at Seven Sushi and Steak Ultralounge in downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday evening, January 10th. Parking was horrid due to the Timberwolves game. The second floor of Seven was filled with fashionistas, local celebrities, fans, clients, family, and friends of the Jungle Red crew.

Alison Price, guest Gallery artist, graciously invited me to attend. She set up a table to show off her stunning paintings. Despite the subdued mood lighting her creations brightened the lounge. My friend and I sipped delicious Fruitini Martinis and watched the crowd. It was better than the State Fair for people viewing. Plenty of fashion victims, they will do anything to look good, were in attendance.

DJ Alex Jarvis established upbeat mood music and kept the volume low enough for conversation to occur. Runway Show featuring Pink Champagne (no, not a drag queen) fashions and models from M3 Productions warmed up the crowd. Shannan Paul did a good job at projecting her voice but they should have given her a script for each outfit. Jungle Red invented a special Sex Kitten hair cut but it was not clear who was modeling it. Some of the models looked very uncomfortable and haughty in their shoes and clothes. They really need to eat more protein. Anorexia is ugly.

Tabatha Coffey used Skype to address the crowd before the premiere. It was nice of her to take the time. You could feel the anticipation of the audience building. The horde scurried to seats to watch the show when it began. No view was obstructed due to plenty of television screens. There was a momentary issue with the sound and occasionally dialogue was lost attributable to the heavy base in the background music.

So-called “reality” television is designed for drama. It highlighted deficits in the salon on purpose. The character assassination of Laura was unfair. Yes, she was wrong to drink on the job (illegal for licensed cosmetologists in Minnesota) and was stupid to do it in front of a camera crew. However, she cannot be blamed for all the “negative energy” at the Salon. Her attitude is a reflection of the people around her. The leadership establishes the tone of a business and Suzanne must take responsibility. Publicly humiliating Laura was inappropriate and unprofessional. I hope that Suzanne has taken courses in business and human resource management since the episode was filmed.

Disappointed that Alison’s interview was not included in the final version of the show. It would have been good to at least have her beautiful pieces acknowledged. They looked fabulous in the background. www.alisonpricestudios.com She was profiled on January 9th entry of this blog. The show didn’t have a lot of content because it was overwhelmed with commercials. I thought the point of cable television was to reduce commercials. Alas, I can’t afford cable since the cats refuse to work. Surprised that the producers did not donate the materials removed from the salon. There are plenty of charities that would have gladly picked up the couches.

The crowd quickly dissipated after applauding the end of the show. We Minnesotans are early risers so I’m sure some folks had 7am meeting to attend Wednesday morning. It was a very interesting experience. A couple years ago I volunteered and was invited to attend a premiere for Extreme Home Makeover. I learned that the television shows stretch reality for drama. The content should not be considered to be literal. It’s all about ratings, product placement, and revenue at the expense of naive people who seek the elusive fifteen minutes of fame.

Reality TV Salt Lick.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Monday, January 9, 2012


International Woman of Artistry describes the upbringing of Alison Price. She was raised in Britain, Guernsey – Channel Islands, and United States. As a little child she would sit under glass-topped tables and gaze at the patterns of light dancing around the room. Young Alison was constantly drawn to color.

Her luminous artwork reflects the patterns she observed during her youth. The translucent multi-layered effervescent tones jump off the canvas. Breathtaking and electrifying. The work reveals simultaneous movement and meditation. Ms. Price stated, “Color is emotion.” Alison’s paintings are born of passion. Some pieces are quick to gestate and be birthed while others have a longer period of labor before delivery. As the sun sets her creative energy rises. Her favorite paint is Golden because “the products are fabulous.” www.goldenpaints.com

Five years ago Ms. Price took a huge risk upon completion of a BA Degree in Studio Arts from Augsburg College. She quit a corporate job. All the creativity that was bottled up for so many years has flowed out in a torrent of success. She sold a collection to the FBI including 35W Bridge Collapse themed paintings and is working on a new sequence regarding the tragic event. Tabatha Coffey of Tabatha’s Salon Takeover reality show fame was impressed by Alison’s work displayed at the Jungle Red Salon Spa & Gallery last summer. The paintings were kept after the salon’s refurbishment and Alison interviewed for Bravo’s new Tabatha Takes Over show. The episode will be premiering on January 10th www.jungleredsalon.com and was reviewed on January 11th entry of this blog.

Her artwork has been exhibited at several establishments in the Twin Cities and around Minnesota, including the offices of Representative Keith Ellison. Alison is in the third year of collaboration with Ballet Royale Minnesota. The dance company choreographed a piece based on Alison’s artwork that will be performed on February 10th. For more information visit www.balletroyalemn.org. NOTE: The performance was reviewed on the February 16th entry of this blog.

According to Alison, everyone is an artist. Every person has something that they are passionate about. It may be food, music, writing, drawing or any endeavor. Following that passion is the artistic creative process. All people have a gift to share. Ms. Price’s gift is her artwork and the world is blessed.

The Alison Price Gallery is open by appointment, first Thursday evening of every month, and during the Art-A-Whirl Art Crawl at Dock 7 of the Northrup King Building located at 1500 Jackson Street NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413. Contact her at 612-805-1886, alison.v.price@gmail.com or view her website at www.alisonpricestudios.com. Please inform her that you read this article.

Ms. Price won the “Ima Best in Show” award for her display at the 2011 Art-a-Whirl Art Crawl. Read the review posted on June 23rd, 2011. I look forward to watching her give birth to more glorious creations.

Yeah, Baby!
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Make new friends but keep the old,
One is silver and the other gold.
I remember singing this song in 4-H. As a teenager, I could not imagine not being friends with the people that I adored. How could we not be close? We would never ever stop being amigos. Silly me. Life intervenes and the connections either wither away or get severed. I still grieve for the loss of some of those connections.

Fortunately, I still have a smattering friends from high school. I lost track of a few of them but we reengaged communication. I’ve only had constant contact with one, Sally. Her husband is rather controlling so we haven’t been as close during the past five years. Facebook reconnected me several people including Lilly. She and I were born just days apart and our parents became involved in the same arts-n-crafts activities when we were two. We lived in different small towns but stayed in touch until she married a nasty guy. I was the godparent to their child until their family moved and communication ceased about 20 years ago. Last year Lilly contacted me via Facebook and I was happy to Friend her. Thankfully, she is doing well and I hope to see her the next time she is in Minnesota.

A few weeks ago I was watching a national television news show. I recognized the person featured in the story as the sibling of a college friend. Kelly and I were good friends and I was sad when she dropped out and moved away. Alas, we lost touch. Looked up the sister on the Internet. Took a risk and sent an email to the sister asking her to forward the message to Kelly. I added a postscript apologizing if I had the wrong person. I am 90% certain that I have the correct person but the memory gets a bit foggy after 25 years. I haven’t heard back, yet.

People change over time. I am hopeful that I can reunite with some of the good people in my life. I know enough to keep developing new relationships. I joined several Meetup groups and am starting to form friendships. It takes a lot of time and energy to determine if you are compatible with another person but delightful to locate a kindred spirit. As an introvert, I expend a lot of social energy at the when working full-time and have little remaining. Searching for a job is very socially isolating so I have made a concerted effort to have face-to-face contact with humans at least once per week. www.meetup.com provides that opportunity if I don’t have anything planned with friends. It is imperative to get out of the house. I love my cats but they aren’t very conversational beyond, “Give me a treat.”

Face to Face.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Please peruse the first part of this journey posted on January 1st, 2012. I have explored different aspects of the search in myriad entries during 2011.

During the past few years I started probing the religious landscape again. I would visit a faith-based gathering and sneak in just before the service began. I quickly learned not to give out more than just my first name. Otherwise, I would be deluged with calls and literature. Proselytizing groups focused on witnessing and conversion were rather frightening. If the service was appealing I would return a couple times and stay longer to chat with the members. I would check out information on the Internet and books from the library. Seeking faith is not a flippant pursuit. According to Pew Research 44% of Americans change from one religious ideology to another. It’s wonderful that we have the freedom to make that choice. Democracy in action!

At heart, I am an Animist, I believe that if there is a Supreme Being(s) it’s not a separate entity but in everything. The problem is locating a religious order that would let me keep my Animistic views. I decided to drop by a few of the places that I thought were interesting 20 years ago. I found a group that was friendly and I mostly agreed with their viewpoints. I almost cried during one of the services because I didn’t feel isolated anymore. They welcomed intellectual debate, theological examination, and were okay with my Animistic beliefs. They offered a variety of programming and worked in practical efforts to better the community. I decided to check it out further but held back my heart. It took a while to open up to the possibilities.

After thirty years of wandering in the desert and several dozen visits I finally found a spiritual oasis. Ironically, I had dismissed them as “weirdoes” during my high school Religions of the World class. They don’t have a creed or a doctrine but logical guidelines. They encourage questions and question answers in a respectful manner. Technically they are Christian but are extremely broadminded and actually fall into the Open To All end of the spectrum. Its not a willy-nilly kumbaya organization, you are expected to be a good person and help others. I joined the Unitarian Universalists also known as the UUs. For more information contact www.uua.org

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion that celebrates diversity of belief. The congregations are places to nurture every person’s spirit and put faith into action through social justice work in the community and the wider world. Individual UUs are allowed the freedom to search for truth on many paths. While the congregations uphold shared principles, individual Unitarian Universalists may discern their own beliefs about spiritual, ethical, and theological issues. Yeah, I could be Anamistic and UU!

The seven UU principles include:
* The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
* Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
* Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
* A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
* The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
* The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; and,
* Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

I keep bumping into people that I know from previous jobs, political activities, and social interactions at UU events. I found out that a friend of mine has attended my congregation for nearly forty years. She never formally joined but considers herself a member. Actually, that is very common. Probably half the people who regularly attend services and UU events don’t officially become a member. Perhaps it is because UUs emphasize freethinking and don’t force brain washing. No group is perfect but I really feel comfie with these folks. The congregation is diverse, inclusive and represents the economic strata of society. They accept me for who I am, flaws and all.

Happy to shake off the sand.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Monday, January 2, 2012


Science Fiction and Fantasy is the focus of this review. Let me know if you have any suggestions of novels of this genre to read... Thanks!

Moon Maze Game by David Niven and Steven Barnes Four worms
Detailed storyline with diverse characters and more than one strong female, yeah! Creatively ties in H. G. Wells with current sci-fi trends. Serious Gamers will enjoy the dream of the future. Only noticed a few small logic problems and could have used a map. Would be a terrific movie.

Citadels of the Lost by Tracy Hickman Three and a half worms
Well written with lots of detail. This is the second book in a series. Good at providing the back story of the characters. Yeah, a map though the printing is tiny. Some parts of the book could have been fleshed out a bit more. Only one strong female character, more are needed. Probably best to start with the first novel.

When the Saints by Dave Duncan Three worms
Political intrigue, war, and mystical powers are the focus. The beginning chapters are profoundly perplexing but eventually the details are explained. Some sections were strong while others needed more information. Yeah, a description of the main characters and glossary were included! Needs a map and genealogical chart, though. Read the first book beforehand to reduce confusion.

The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind Two and a half worms
This is the thirteenth book written about the characters but the first that I have read. It was difficult to learn about the characters since few details were divulged. I presume that the Seeker television series was based upon the books but I didn’t watch the show. More women died than men, and no diversity was discussed. Some nice passages drowned out by droning details and all the excitement saved until the end. The final chapters could have used more detail. It is obvious that this is just the beginning of another saga.

Solaris Rising edited by Ian Whates Two and a half worms
I usually avoid short stories because a character becomes interesting and it’s the end. However, I decided to peruse this volume in hopes of finding authors with amenable writing styles. Several of the stories were so-so or just plain unreadable but I did locate a few gems. Sweet Spots by Paul di Pillipo was delightful with a surprise at the end; Shall I Tell You the Problem with Time Travel? by Adam Roberts starts out rather convoluted but ties together well; Rock Day by Stephen Baxter is clever; and, Mooncakes by Mike Resnick and Laurie Tom is painfully sweet and well written. I shall seek out volumes by these authors to review.

Foundation by Mercedes Lackey (first in the Collegium series) Two and a half worms
Extensive description of the main character’s wretched life was well done. Editor should have reduced redundancies. The magical powers were never explained and the excitement was left until the end of the book. Triad of youngsters reminded me of another series of books but I just can’t remember the name (Ha-Ha). Decided to read this first book to prepare for the second. Good that they included a timeline as a reference to the other books that she has authored.

Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey (second in the Collegium series) Two worms
Very little character development in the first half of the book. Good examination of the main character’s inner life after the games ended. Stunned by the concluding violent act. These books are well suited for the teenage audience except for the last bit of book two.

Science Fiction & Fantasy, as a genre, needs more females. They should be half the characters in each novel. Diversity is also lacking. Why are all the main characters beautiful and in prime physical condition? Why is war and competition always the focus? Due to the complexity of the story-line it would be advisable to include a synopsis section for serial books. Briefly describe the main characters, genealogical chart to explain family trees, map, and an executive summary of previous volumes. I think that many readers avoid sci-fi because the books can be bewildering and the violence tiring.

Most recent review was posted on December 9th, 2011.

Ride the Dragon!
© 2012 Ima B. Musing

Sunday, January 1, 2012


The journey commenced when I was young. At about nine years of age I began extensive questioning. As a result, I was sent to camp to become indoctrinated into my parent’s uber-conservative fundamentalist nondenominational religious sect. The brain washing lasted until I entered high school and inquiry was renewed by Religions of the World class. I wasn’t sure if the faith that my parents taught me was true. I researched the origin of the Bible. I learned that it had been translated erroneously, chapters deleted, and edited by myriad people to suit their political purposes. I could not consider it to be a literal document anymore. It offered good moral guidelines but not verbatim documentation. Jesus Christ was a wise person but I don’t know about any other qualifications.

By the time I was sixteen I was informed by the minister to stop asking questions or risk being excommunicated and my family shunned. I didn’t want to endanger my family member’s souls so I ceased speaking. I suffered through the services and learned how to meditate since the weekly lecture was nearly an hour of torture. Meditation staved off panic attacks when I heard the leaders utter hypocrisy and inconsistencies. It was a painful time.

I began visiting different Christian churches when I entered college. These included a variety of nondenominational groups as well as Lutheran, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, and Latter Day Saints. Ventured to other faiths such as Ba’hai, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hindu, Wicca, and Scientology. I accidentally went to a few places which would have qualified as a “cult” and quickly got away. I probably researched 100+ faith based groups. I really liked the Society of Friends aka the Quakers but it wasn’t the best fit.

Most religions hold the same tenets sacred; they just express it in diverse ways. I could not abide groups who declared that their approach is the only system and all others are wrong. That is arrogant and bigoted. Using religion to make women submissive is reprehensible. It is an abomination to use faith as an excuse to harm others. Mere humans cannot state that they know the Mind of God. The Source may be plural, clearly has no gender, and may not even exist. No human knows. I sought a refuge where questions were encouraged but I decided that I wasn’t comfortable with institutionalized religion.

Animistic teachings of my grandfather who was part Native American was enough to sustain my soul. I would thank the Creator on a regular basis and live a positive life. I hovered between Agnosticism and Atheism. If there is a Supreme Being, it exists everywhere (Higgs boson particle) or else it visited Earth and has deserted us. I began to crave communing with other open-minded people. The challenge is that there is no Animistic Congregation. Animism varies because it is personalized by the family, clan, or tribal nation. They share a lot of the same beliefs but each group does it a bit differently. I visited a couple churches with a lot of Native or Hmong Americans but they were more Christian than Animistic. It didn’t feel like a match so I took a long break from seeking a spiritual home.

Seeking an Oasis.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing