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Linocut Bird Mobiles

I think birds are great to look at from a distance of six feet or more, but they are disease-riddled creatures and it’s a little unnerving to have one stare at you.

However, birds make excellent artistic subjects, what with their colorful plumage and beady little eyes. Earlier this month I became obsessed with creating home decorations from a folk-style bird linocut I made. My first creation was this fireplace garland, made of white on black bird prints attached to chipboard and strung together with fishing wire.

black and white bird garland circle

After making the garland, I realized I could not rest until I attempted to make a bird mobile out of the print, as well. I thought about this bird mobile 24/7, marveling at all the color possibilities and brainstorming a good way to construct it. I had never made a mobile of any kind before, so it was a personal challenge to pair art with utility.

The first mobile I made was not so great. I fashioned the skeleton out of wire coat hangers, which were 1) wire coat hangers and 2) too short to properly display the birds. The mobile wasn’t bad, but I knew it could be better. I tried to get my husband to admit my mobile was kind of dumb looking, but he was way too much of a gentleman to take the bait.

I took that mobile apart and made Valentine lovebird ornaments out of it.

red birds on tree

The subsequent mobiles were much better. When I made my fourth mobile and asked my husband what he thought of it, he said, “It’s waaay better than that first one.”

This is what’s called, in marriage, “a trap.”

hot pink bird mobile full

(The items pictured here are available for purchase from my Etsy store.)

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I grew up hearing my grandparents’ stories of the idyllic Lithuania they remembered from before the War. They fled the country in young adulthood, so their memories are soft and diffuse, like the scalloped-edged photographs in our family albums.

I borrowed one of those albums from my parents today and scanned in some of those old photos. This one, of my maternal grandfather with his father, brothers and sisters on their estate makes me want to jump inside of it. It was taken sometime in the early to mid 1930s, when they couldn’t have known that less than ten years later, they would be separated and their lives forever changed.

Seriously, I want to lie down in that patch of sun-dappled grass right next to that dog and just hang with all of them. I want to eat a plum still warm from their orchard and feel the same breeze that swept through their fields. I may even want to milk a cow.

I know it wasn’t paradise. But it sure looks close, doesn’t it?

My maternal grandfather


This one is of my maternal grandmother’s side of the family on the occasion of my great-great-grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. I don’t know why more people don’t pose for photos up on the roof.

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Just Another Sunday at Holy Mass with Kids

“Turn around, please.”


“Stop that.”

“And also with you.”

“Get off the floor, what are you doing?”


“Please turn around.”

“Turn around.”

“Turn around.”

“Turn around.”


“Get off that pole. Are you kidding me?”

“Please stand up.”

“No, I’m praying.”

“Stop gnawing on the pew. Jeez!”

“Please sit down.”

“Lord, have mercy.”

“Turn around.”

“Christ, have mercy.”

“Turn around.”

“Lord, have mercy.”

“Take that money out of your mouth. I never, ever want to see you putting a dollar in your mouth again. Do you understand?”

“Please don’t flip your skirt over your head, people can see your underwear.”

“There’s nothing in my purse.”


“That’s not candy, please put it away.”


“Lord, hear our prayer.”

“Just two more songs.”

“Yes, just two more songs.”

“Stop kicking the pew.”

“Okay, three more songs.”

“Come back here.”

“No, not yet.”

“Stand up.”

“Sit down.”

“Turn around.”

“Last song!”

“Thanks be to God.”


Although this is actually what it sounded like in Lithuanian . . .

“Prašau apsisuk.”



“Ir su Tavimi.”

“Nesivoliok. K? tu darai?”


“Prašau apsisuk.”





“Nelipk ant stulpo, ar tu juokauji?”

“Prašau atsistok.”

“Ne, aš meldžiuos.”

“Negraužk suolo, Jeez!”

“Prašau atsis?sk.”

“Viešpatie, pasigail?k.”


“Kristau, pasigail?k.”


“Viešpatie, pasigail?k.”

“Išimk t? pinig? iš burnos! Aš geriau NIEKAD v?l nematy?iau taves dedant pinig? ? burn?, ar tu supranti?”

“Nedaryk taip, žmon?s matys tavo underwear.”

“Nieko n?ra mano rankinuke.”


“Tai ne saldainis, prašau pad?k.”


“Meldžiam Tave, Viešpatie.”

“Tik dar dvi giesm?s.”

“Tik dvi.”

“Nespirk suolo.”

“Okay, trys giesm?s.”

“Ateik ?ia.”

“Dar ne.”




“Paskutin? giesm?!”

“D?kojame tau, Viešpatie.”

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Ruffin’ It

My Crib

I’ve been living in this camper for five days now, and if you put a gun to my head, I’d have to say I’m having a pretty good time.

It’s not the Four Seasons, of course. For starters, you have to cook your own food over a primitive sort of charcoal grill (or in the microwave oven) and wash your dishes by hand. You have to constantly sweep the floor and wipe down exposed surfaces in order to preserve the necessary barrier between civilization and the Great Outdoors. You can barely turn around inside the bathroom and you have to shower in a special building like a monkey in the zoo. I went for a record four days without washing my hair because the time never seemed ripe, and then when I finally got around to it, there was a huge storm and I couldn’t make it to the showers without getting wet.

It started raining on Saturday evening and continued to rain for three days. We tried to get away from it, but the storm system was like a vagrant puppy that followed us around wherever we went. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this trip so far, it’s that weather can really make or break a vacation.

But my vacation is not broken. It’s all in the attitude, you see. I have chosen, for example, not to dwell on the fact that it’s been raining cats and dogs or that the RV we got from Cruise America was dirty, stained, and generally beaten up, in favor of dwelling on when I might be able to take my next shower instead. Because in point of fact, this trip is an adventure replete with many magic moments in between some not so magic ones which, through the rear view mirror, already seem soft around the edges, the stuff that family legends are made up of.

The view from our campsite in Lewistown, PA

The P-Dog bravely went on a recon mission to find some kindling. Here he is cutting down a tree limb about two feet from our picnic table.

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