Entries to Win Afghan

From now till March 31, pre-order the set of the first three Dubois Files children's mysteries, signed and at a discount. Go to Books Leaving Footprints and look in the left column.
panel of three covers for Dubois Files children's mysteries

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pink Detail- What Else? A Flamingo

This is old news, over 5 years old, but I never showed you this. And it's now part of a collection, so it has to be revealed.

When we went to Art Prize in 2012, the "Heavy Metal Rock Band" entry... can you spot them?

Art Prize 2012 Heavy Metal Rock Band by Fred Conlon

... had two flamingos!

Art Prize 2012 Heavy Metal Rock Band by Fred Conlon flamingo

Since the "collection" began in August 2012, with the nesting flamingo, this isn't even a prequel... I just never got around to sharing it.

And, just for fun, look at all the little heavy metal groupies!

Art Prize 2012 Heavy Metal Rock Band by Fred Conlon

In other news: I'm tired. Not much happened except for some odds and ends of paperwork.

See The Nesting Flamingo
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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Old House and More

Look what I stumbled across on line today. It costs a ton of money to get actual prints of these without the watermark. Too bad, but it's better to let the past go sometimes.

This is our same property, but in 1979. We moved into this house in Dec 1971.

old house aerial view

Now our house is up behind the white pines at 1.

2 is the shed attached to the barn we had to pull down. See It's Down

All that's left of the old house is at 3, outlined in yellow. See Last Project Day

Notice the road. It was just two lanes then. Now it's five with full paved shoulders beyond that.

old house aerial view

I loved that house, but things change.

In other news: I got home from my walk just before this happened! I call that good timing. I understand there is some real flooding happening near us, but there are some advantages to living on top of a hill.

rain on window

And this happened in the kitchen. I haven't made this cherry cheesecake in a LOT of years... because it's SO good I easily eat way too much. Recipe from my mother!

cherry cheesecake

And I accomplished my writing goal for the day, chapters 8-10 in The ABZ Affair! Tomorrow it's back to work at the paper.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Orange Details, Wet Ending

Today has been all about writing, but after finishing Chapter 6 in The ABZ Affair, I just had to get some exercise, so I went out for a different 3-mile walk. the sky was spitting a little bit, but real rain wasn't supposed to start till later.

The color of the day is orange (although I snuck in one picture from yesterday).

Orange lichen:

orange lichen on  maple bark

Here's the one from yesterday. I suspect the orange tree tips are some kind of willow, but not positive.

orange willow tree tips against evergreens

These are a willow, perhaps the same kind. I did increase the contrast a bit, but they are really orange and you know I like my colors bright, even garish.

orange willow tree branches in February

But, it was raining steadily although softly by the time I got home, and I was quite wet, although refreshed. For those of you who like softer tones, try raindrops on white birch branches.

raindrops on white birch branches

Supposed to rain for several days now.

In other news: I'm really pulling out all the stops on writing The ABZ Affair. I have so much to do with illustrations and formatting for all three books, I'd like to get the texts really finished and polished before the end of February. Today I finished chapter 5 (had to do a LOT of research on 1953 prices), and wrote 6 (researched earlier) and 7. They may need some content editing, but at least there is something solid to work with. No work at the paper for me again tomorrow (no Tuesday work this year- not good for the wallet), but I'm hoping I can write three more chapters. We'll see.

See Brown Details, Brilliant Ending
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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Brown Details, Brilliant Ending

Went for my regular road loop walk today and set out to find some interesting details. See if these fill the bill.

First up is teasel. It's an intriguing plant in any season, and up close does not disappoint.

teasel seed pod in winter

The prickly stems are quite unique as well.

teasel stems with spines in winter

Queen Anne's Lace is another common plant that retains a lot of interest year round.

Queen Anne's lace seed heads in winter

I thought that was it, but the day provided another brilliant sunset, and I'm sure not going to turn down one of those.

Michigan sunset February 18,2018

In other news: I wrote Chapter 4 in The ABZ Affair, and hope to finish Chapter 5 before bed. I finished beta reading a book for a friend, and did a little (very little) cleaning.

See Teasel in the Light
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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Soft Little Footfalls

From time to time we get a stray cat living in one of our decrepit outbuildings. Lookin' very much like there's one around now, although I haven't spotted him/her yet. Cute little prints with no claws.

cat tracks

Took a road walk again today. Not much of interest to see, except that it was almost 6 pm when I got home and there was still light. That's nice.

blue evening

In other news: I think I must have done my crash day yesterday instead of today. Yesterday morning at work was stressful, and I just couldn't get myself in gear between shifts. I was thinking maybe I'd lost my momentum on the Dubois Files books, because I wasn't liking Chapter 1 very much. But I spend as much time pondering as I do writing, and eventually came to realize that the problem was the chapter was too complex and would not entice kids to read farther. So, today I reworked it, and I'm liking the result a lot. This third book will have stronger appeal to kids who like academics and brainy puzzles more than the first two books. I want some of the series to do just that, but even so, they can't be way out of range. Anyway... problem solved, and I'm in the middle of chapter 3. Back to work!

See Concept Cover: ABZ Affair
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Friday, February 16, 2018

The Ordinary Things

Just want to share a great couple of lines from a P.D. James mystery, of all places. Quite profound. A boy asks a priest about his diary "It's just an ordinary diary then, Father? It isn't about your spiritual life?"

The Father answers," This is the spiritual life; the ordinary things one does from hour to hour."

Cattails are pretty ordinary- yet the rhythm in this spray of winter-bent stalks made me smile.

a spray of winter cattails

Today at work we shared a meal of "humble" vegetables (cabbage, carrot, potato, rutabaga) with a bit of sausage. Cornbread for counterpoint. There's a meal that's been ordinary for multiple centuries. But, with friends and the satisfaction of a rather crazy work morning (that stretched till 2 pm) behind us, the ordinary is elevated to something extraordinary.

boiled dinner in a roaster

cornbread in a square pan

Cattails or soup or printer's ink... if you are looking for meaning, you will find it. If you are working for Someone beyond your own fulfillment or paycheck or for praise, you'll always be satisfied.

Work again tonight- and I need to take my own advice.

See Sunlit
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

More Nice Mail

It was another great week for snail mail. I suppose we are so surprised to get anything nice any more, it seems extra special.

Nevertheless, these are real goodies. Remember the Girl Scouts I spoke to about a month ago? They sent me a thank you card, and... a patch! You know I LOVE patches. (I wore my patch jacket, so they figured it right out, too.) This one has the Tolkien quote, "Not all those who wander are lost."

thank you card and embroidered patch with not all those who wander are lost

I also got a cute envelope and Valentine bookmark from my buddy, Ramona.

bookmark with a golden retriever puppy

Little things like this can mean so much! Thanks, friends.

In other news: Worked. Did laundry. Did one simple illustration for The Secret Cellar. Wrote Chapter 1 in The ABZ Affair. I'm feeling productive.

See I've Got Mail
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Concept Cover- ABZ Affair

Today, I'll show you the concept sketch I gave Linda to work up into the cover for The ABZ Affair. This one has to look a bit scary and dangerous. The main action of the "threat" takes place inside the canning factory after it's closed for the day. The tones will be full of shadows, probably purples. Jimmie and George are hiding behind the conveyor belt when the sinister man opens the door. I promise he'll look more sinister when Linda is done with him.

concept cover for the ABZ Affair

You can preorder a set of all three books at Books Leaving Footprints

concept covers for three Dubois Files books

In other news: I worked, then made a quick stop at Goodwill. Found a cotton flannel shirt that fits (the one I'm using like a sweater is more holes than shirt). Also got a couple other little items- it was Senior discount day! I took my 3-mile road loop walk because the sun was shining and it was 40 degrees! But I wanted to show you this cover today- you've seen lots of clouds and trees. I also finished (except for the digital part) one illustration for The Secret Cellar, and got another one really close. Two to go for that book, I think. However, if I do 4 per book, that's a total of 12, and I can turn out about one a day. Yikes! I still have a whole book to write, too. Need to keep workin'!

See cover for The Hitchhiker
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Three Crows, No Murder

Today was very busy, but I did get out for a little skiing, which was really good today. No wildlife except the crows.

crows flying

In other news: It's almost all other news. Did a lot of getting ready for errands, then I did the errands, and grocery shopping. I did the concept cover for The ABZ Affair so Linda would have something to work with for the cover art (will show you soon- maybe tomorrow). Watched more canning factory videos. Had a meeting partly about the Writer's Rendezvous, then had Writers' Group. Tomorrow the "real" job.

See Murmurings of a Murder
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Monday, February 12, 2018

Just Missing the Mark (It's a Tradition)

Today is not quite the right day (off by a day). 50 years ago tomorrow, not quite Valentine's Day (off by a day). Not quite a full moon (off by a day- yes I checked my memory, and the full moon was Feb 14, 1968), Omer and I sat in a vehicle that was not quite a car (don't ask), on the edges of a junk yard (who could make this stuff up?), and I said I would marry him. And perhaps proving my temporary insanity, I spent the next three days in the infirmary (pretty much the college hospital) with the worst case of flu I'd had at that point in life (maybe had one worse since then).

So we went out to celebrate.

50 years

We went to a restaurant about 30 miles away, just to be a little different. It's the Open Hearth in Hart. The outside is pretty plain,

Open Hearth restaurant

but the interior has nice atmosphere. Our timing was great for us, no one else was there. It was between regular lunch and dinner hours, but they let us order dinners. I had a yummy salad with grilled chicken and toasted pecans. Omer had a steak, but we forgot to take pictures of the food. You'll have to take my word for it, it was very good.

Open Hearth restaurant

We got desserts to go: Chocolate Volcanoes! We had half when we got home. Yes, this is half.

chocolate volcano dessert

I also went skiing. The snow was really good, and it was a more like skiing than struggling along because my tracks from other days are getting fairly well defined (till the next big snow, blow, or melt). The blue sky was awesome above the hacienda (and everywhere).

blue sky

In other news: I have the outline for The ABZ Affair just about done. I spent a lot of time watching videos of old canning factory processes and buildings because the canning factory at Cherry Pit Junction is the setting for quite a bit of this book. I also got sidetracked watching some videos of old "What's My Line" game shows. I sure liked that when I was a kid, and I still do. It can be very funny even though it's very simple. I know it's not really a kid's show, but I liked it. What can I tell you.

See Forty-seven Years Ago
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