Friday, April 30, 2010

And an Interview too!

Check out my interview on the HandMadeNews blog ("The Largest Handmade Craft Blog on Earth for Artisans by Artisans"). It's a really impressive site! Thanks to Wendy Gibson for noticing me! And be sure to check out her website too.

Conquering Amazon

The new Totally Tangled books are back up on Etsy AND they are now on AMAZON (Totally Tangled), too! I was insanely excited to receive the books, just before I left. But I have to admit that, in the Middle east, I kind of kept forgetting about them. Then, back home - WHAM-o! - books everywhere, and lots of emails about them. Very cool! But what really made it real - was seeing them on Amazon. I was so excited I showed my son, who said, "Yes, but are they on GoodReads?" YES - they are! So, if you have a minute, go to one of these sites and post a review or lots of gold stars or something. I want to move this book up in the ranks. :-) If you have seen it online somewhere or in a local bookstore, I'd love to know about it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where'd She Go?!


As the plane touched down on the runway, I had a disorienting moment of pure panic: I had no idea where I was!? The airport looked the same as the others I'd seen recently and my mind actually had to run through the itinerary to figure out I was home. This was Logan Airport. Home. Paris - Amman (Jordan) - Petra - Aqaba - Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt) - The Red Sea - Hurghada - Luxor - Cairo - Suez - Suez Canal - Ashdod (Israel) - Jerusalem - Haifa - Nazareth - Limassol (Cyprus) - Larnaca - Amsterdam - Boston - HOME.

I had assumed I'd be able to get online during the trip and blog my adventures as they happened. But life never follows an itinerary. So I found myself on many, many (many!) long bus rides "blogging" in my head. The past two weeks or so are already becoming a blur. This was an insane trip filled with locations at which we could have easily spent the entire trip! We arrived home at 2am "our time" - 7pm local time and my brain is so filled with a jumble of images and emotions - I imagine it will take a while to sort it all out.

The awe of walking a mile through a dark narrow "wadi" (a rock canyon) and emerging into the sunlight to stare up at the "Treasury" of Petra. An entire city carved out of the rock walls - thousands of years old - lost in the desert until about 100 years ago. I stuck my feet in the Red Sea, the River Jordan, and the only lake on the planet invisible to satellites! I stood between the front paws of the Sphinx! No one gets beyond the fence surrounding the sphinx, but Dr. Ramadan, who is second in command of the Egyptian Antiquities Dept. - also happens to be a former student of the professor who was leading our group. He accompanied us around Cairo and took us down to the feet of the Sphinx! We were able to walk right up to the tablet under his chin. If you don't understand the sense of awe this creature instills - consider this: the sphinx was already ancient... 8,000 years ago! They believe he originally had the face of a lion and it was re-carved into the pharaoh's face "in more recent times" which is why the head appears so much smaller in proportion to the body. It's also thought that there was a matching Sphinx on the other side of the Nile.

I was also overwhelmed by the insane amount of construction going on in the Middle East. Miles and miles and miles of very expensive apartments and hotels all going up at once... in the desert. Where does the water come from?! And the trash and the smog. There are four-lane highways in Cairo and traffic worse than Boston. 20 years ago, there were some cars, but mostly donkey carts and pedestrians and scary buses. Our bus drove up the plateau, behind the pyramids to the scenic view where you can photograph all three pyramids together. We could barely see them through the smog. Egypt will manage to destroy in one generation - what has lasted for thousands of years. There is a new McDonald's right behind the Luxor Temple, and I saw a TGIFriday's and a Gold's Gym built onto the Nile in Cairo. A positive development is the improvement of the museums and Egypt's new cataloging system. They have recovered over 5,000 "stolen" artifacts. Many more are still in museums around the world. They are also working on programs to train and educate Egyptians to curate the new museums and do recovery work.

One thing that I did not think I would get used to was the security. Everywhere we went we had, what we called, our "men in black." I don't know how they manage to pack those huge guns into the back of their pants... and the suits! It was more than 110 degrees in Egypt and these guys were wearing full suits. But they came everywhere with us and often there was a police escort as well for the bus. Every public place we entered: hotels, museums, tomb sites... we had to go through security x-rays. It eventually wore me down. This combined with the huge (gigantic) changes at all our stops in Egypt... it felt like the kid in me who decided to become an archaeologist at age 8... was being stoned by Reality. I just cannot put into words the shock and horror at the change I saw. It's like that song "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot." The parking lots, tourist trams... no photos in the Valley of the Kings?! Even if you aren't as into archaeology as I am, you must have heard about the accidental discoveries in Egypt? The boats found buried next to the pyramids? Or KV5 - the tomb of Ramses' sons? Even King Tut was just a hole in the ground, right? So how...HOW... can they justify paving and building roads, museums and rest houses, parking lots right up to and through these sites?!!! And the trash from the locals and the tourists will cover the country faster than the sand. I saw islands of water bottles and other trash bumping up against the luxury boats on the Nile. There used to be hundreds of little sailboats in Luxor, felucas, now there are hundreds of hotel boats. Honestly, floating hotels.

I've never been to Israel before, so I thought it would be better - nothing to compare it against. But I had a feeling the "Atlantic City" on the shore of the Sea of Galilee was a fairly new addition. Our guide described the Roman ruins around us, but the shops completely obscured them.

All my ideas about politics, religion, materialism, security and even my own sense of confidence have all come under examination. I hope I can think of something to "DO" with all this "stuff" in my head! I did keep a journal and if I can keep my eyes open long enough tomorrow, I'll try to scan some of it and post it if there is any interest! I know this post comes across as very negative - that happens when one is extremely exhausted. But, honestly, I am really glad I got to take this trip - and really glad I got to bring my son along. I need to unpack my brain along with the dirty clothes and assess it all.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

"Totally Tangled Book-Signing PARTY!"...

You are invited to the "Totally Tangled Book-Signing PARTY!" on Friday, May 7 at 5:30pm.

Event: Totally Tangled Book-Signing PARTY!
Start Time: Friday, May 7 at 5:30pm
End Time: Friday, May 7 at 8:30pm
Where: Wingdoodle
To see more details and RSVP, follow the link below:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I am expecting to get my copies of the BOOK - "Totally Tangled" sometime this week. Between my insane excitement over the book and my near panic over preparations for my adventure trip this weekend, I fear I am nearing complete uselessness as far as providing you with Zentangle info and tips!

If you have not yet pre-ordered your book, you still have a little time. Go to:
I will be puting my Etsy store into Vacation Mode on WEDNESDAY so that I can package and mail the pre-ordered books and then throw myself into complete chaos helping my family pack. And figuring out how to explain to my three--year-old that she has to stay behind with her grandparents! That has GOT to be the hardest part. :-(

I will be back at the end of April and then I will have MORE books for sale again. If you are going to Art And Soul in Hampton, VA in May, I will be teaching Zentangle there (both classes sold out!!) and also selling at Vendor Night. I am trying to cover our t-shirts with Zentangles for Vendor night. In case you are also trying to tangle on a tee, I have found THE PERFECT PEN. It is made by Pentel and is a Gel Pen for Fabric. It rolls thin black lines onto the t-shirt and does not snag the way a Micron does on fabric. And Marvy makes a big, fat Fabric Marker that comes in a gray that does very nice shading I think has them?). AND I got my sneakers from Zazzle, so I will be Totally Tangled for the show!

Oh! Maybe THAT'S what we should do as a contest? A Totally Tangled Contest... an item of clothing? Ok, I will think about that. If anyone has any opinions or ideas for this contest, let me know soon, so I can work it out and post it. Thinking caps on!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Shaun Tan, My Art Hero

I finally got around to reading some of the books in the monstrous STACK next to my bed! These two books blew me away:
Shaun Tan has the most haunting, beautiful, pencil drawings. His work reminds me a bit of Chris Van Allsburg's (Polar Express, Jumanji), but with more detail and realism. It's this realism that makes his work so creepy! The Tales from Outer Suburbia stories are a little like Van Allsburg's "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick"

 The stories draw you in and then leave you to finish the storyline with your own imagination. I found myself wanting to know more about each situation. The illustrations are more varied too - collage, pen and ink, notebook paper... The story may seem perfectly reasonable and yet there are very odd elements in the picture that add depth to the action. "The Arrival" is almost too incredible for description. It is a completely wordless graphic novel-type picture book. But you must carefully "read" each picture to understand the action. "The Arrival" describes the immigrant experience in an uncomfortable and yet hopeful way. The reader feels the confusion and loneliness. How strange can a new land be? Very, very strange! Some scenes are obviously supposed to be New York City and yet the familiar (to us) objects and places are viewed as if we are on an alien planet! I really love being forced to look anew at all the things I take for granted. I have not done either of these books justice, but if you get a chance to flip through them, you will be amazed!


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