So, for those of you who didn't know - I have spent the last 9 months completely immersing myself in a writer's blog. I first read A Girl Named Zippy many years ago, and have periodically looked up and read the author, Haven Kimmel's work. Last August I did an on-line search to see if she had any new novels out and, low and behold, she not only had a NEW NOVEL (Iodine) but also hosted a blog on which she frequently posted and interacted. I immediately jumped headfirst and have been trying to keep my head above water ever since. www.havenkimmel.com/blog Other illustrious writers frequent the blog, as well as general fans which are many English teachers, writers, and general AMAZING people. By September, October of '08 we were officially referred to as "Blog Babies" . . . in celebration of ourselves, Haven, and her best friend and fellow writer, Augusten Burroughs (www.augusten.com , author of: Running With Scissors, Sellivision, Dry, Magical Thinking, and the recent The Wolf At The Table) and their joint appearance in Haven's hometown of Durham, NC - we all decided to go on a pilgrimage to meet this denizen of peace. I know this sounds rather 'stalkerish', right? But you would have to be on the blog to realize how close we have all become. We know each others souls inside and out, we are our chosen families. We have been through good and bad together . . . we NEEDED to meet each other and, hopefully, Haven. So - here is my Durham Journal: I've heard tell that you shouldn't build up an event too much because you might set yourself up for disappointment. So it is with great THRILL that I can report the opposite - somethings and some people are so much better and greater and kinder and brighter than you imagined them to be. I am speaking, of course, of Haven Kimmel's LEGS I will give you the benefit of a time line because I know that everyone is breathless for all the details, right? So, last weekend I spent 4 days creating 18 paintings based on Haven Kimmel's She Got Up Off The Couch memoir. Here are a few peeks: "George" for George Stuteville (http://georgestuteville.wordpress.com/2009/) Also, George didn't come to the Pilgrimage because he was wearing his orange crocs while gardening and did some heinous thing to his toe which involved xrays and crutches, but really he might have been scared off by the estrogen-laden atmosphere . . . "It's Elementary" - Fellow blog baby Sarah ended up with this painting and it was delivered in person by Fellow Blogger Maureen and her sister Kathleen. My actual journey began Tuesday night when I drove to North Nashville to pick up Kate Cake (fellow Kimmel Blog Baby from Evansville IN) and her almost 2 year old daughter, Alice. They spent the night in my vintage bed complete with vintage Holly Hobbie Sheets and Claire (my six year-old daughter) really enjoyed having a 'little' around Kate Cake (along with two huge Tupperware containers of sinful Oreo Bon-bons), Alice and I left our house around 8:00 a.m. Wednesday after some waffles and coffee (for Kate, not me - I was already loading up on DIET COKE). We made it exactly .25 miles before we had our first stop (Walgreen's for anti-nausea medicine for Alice) . . . another stop for a 'maybe Alice is sick' and another 'oh yes, she is sick!" This is all par-for-the-course in our family as both my older kids promptly vomited on ANY trip . . . Dylan's most famous was a green fruit roll-up projectile vomiting which hit the windshield and splashed both me and my sister, Susan, in the front seat. He. Has. Never. Consumed. Another. Fruit. Roll-up. But, I digress . . . we had a lovely lunch in Knoxville with my artist friend, Alicia Beach (see my posting, http://sherfickart.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/04/beauty-by-produ.html to read about Alicia's art and for photos) - we ate at PF Chang's which was LOVELY and Alice was PERFECT, both Kate and Alicia had Sesame Chicken and I had Honey Chicken . . . yum! We then pressed on towards Durham . . . and we drove . . . and drove . . . and drove. At one point I had to potty (like a LLAMA, as my soon-to-be 15 year old daughter, Lauren, would say) so badly (I was trying not to stop . . . to save the 5 minutes). By the time I finally found a rest area I was in such horrible pain that I couldn't stand up straight or RUN . . . I hobbled like an old lady, which greatly entertained Kate as she watched from the car. We finally blew into The Washington Duke Inn (www.washingtondukeinn.com) at 6:30 pm . . . many blog babies greeted me in the lobby - the first was Maureen and Kathleen, followed by the most gorgeous and generous Caryl, with Amber, Molly, Kittery and Shanna close-behind. Kate and I did the quickest 'freshen up' and joined the gang in the lounge for casual fireside fare and beverages. Here is a gathering of the gifts I received from Caryl, the greatest and most hospitable Blog Baby - Caryl actually created a book out of our blog postings, titled: "Blog Babies, What We Read", she included an original painting by Cathy DeleRee (www.siestalane.com), and two books as well as purchasing a glass boot cup for me from ebay (this is a famous item I am constantly searching for). Haven and her GORGEOUS husband/potter/singer John Svara http://johnsvara.com/ joined us at 7:30 and as she rounded the corner into the lounge this was my thought: "she is my childhood hero grown up, she is Pippi Longstocking as an adult" Here is, from the left: Shanna, Haven, Kittery and Molly - we are doing a blog baby pose - photos which capture our bottoms (or lack thereof). another picture shows Kate Cake on the far left . . . This Pippi Longstocking reference is a great compliment as I thought she was the BEES-KNEES when I was a kid. She had it ALL: a wonky-creative house all to herself, fabulous wardrobe, and all those talking animals (not to mention she knew how to clean - strapping brushes onto her feet and DANCING!). As you will see, Haven embodies all these tributes. A gracious, generous and unexpected invitation occurred when Haven invited the group to return to her home to meet the dogs and see her writing barn. Of course we all agreed and piled into cars for this added adventure. Haven was amused to watch the blog babies spill forth from my van - it was like a clown car, they just kept pouring out. Here is a vision of Haven's inner sanctum - focusing on her writing desk. It was a great honor for her to invite us over . . . I can barely share this image because it feels a lot intrusive (which is rather how I felt as well). Due to my general 'bizarreness' I LOVED all the taxidermy, bones, spiritual items with which she surrounds herself as she creates her chamber . . . simply entering it gives one the feeling of intellect and wry humor, as well as a deep and pervasive spirituality. I was honored that quite a few my pieces were displayed in this sanctuary: Can you name which piece of art is a "Sher" original? Haven displays many miniatures and these broken ladies almost broke my heart, they were so vulnerable and precious. Wednesday evening closed with a nice lobby chat with Kittery and Caryl, both of whom I hope to know better and for a lifetime! When Kittery needed to return a phone charger to Kathleen (in Maureen and Molly's room) I moo'd at the door for many minutes before a perplexed Molly opened it up . . . apparently I shouldn't moo after midnight . . . right, Mooooooreen (note: Maureen and her asperger husband, Andy, run a dairy farm in NY state, so this is an homage to her Laura Ingalls Wilder lifestyle)! Catch up with Maureen and her fabulous blog http://lovingthetasmaniandevil.wordpress.com/ . ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Footnote~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Post feelings about Wednesday Night's Visit to the Writing Barn: Thursday I started off feeling very awkward about visiting the barn the night before. We were invited, but it felt a little bizarre . . . about 12 of us sat in the dark on the deck in the back yard as Haven lured Cubby out . . . it was a gorgeous thing to see her kneeling with her arms around Iorek (her massive Italian Mastiff and Cubby (80 plus percent wolf cub) and Pupa (sp?, smaller dog) prancing around. Amazingly, I was not afraid . . . even less afraid of Cubby . . . to me dogs are terrifying because they have been domesticated/humanized and knowing the completely heinous heart of some humans who then train their dogs in this manner . . . it is the human influence I fear in the dogs . . . so Cubby, 86 percent wild wolf- I am not afraid at all. Any...Read More
Any encounter in nature, rattlesnakes or whatever, those don’t frighten me nearly as much as a barking dog. go figure.Entering the barn was amazing. Going through the double barn doors you walk through a storage area where Haven has extra taxidermy (including the chow-chow) . . . she has the most amazing bicycle . . . then into the inner sanctum. It actually reminded me of many of the convent/monastery chambers in Italy. It has been modernized with the exception of the preserved original window . . . drywalled and whitewashed it is a blank canvas . . . in which you can see the heart and soul of Haven Kimmel. Her beloved friends (her animals/taxidermy) are gathered to keep her company in her solitude. The pervasive feeling is of spirituality and self-determination. It is the epitome of “A Room of One’s Own” - what she has been able to create in this physically small space is monumental. Every item has been chosen for its imbued meaning and this evokes such a spirit of readiness to creativity - I am enthralled. We were in a tour figuration, but it still felt intimate. Unfortunately, I felt like the people that used to go view the Dion Quintuplets. We were invited . . . and i LOVE to share my space with people, but it still seemed a bit voyeuristic. Probably because we were in a group . . . that was Wednesday night. In this image to the left you see a full grown wolf and leaning in the corner behind him is an altered Tibetan style prayer flag I created for Haven last Fall during an illness. Seriously, knowing that IODINE was written there. I am speechless.