Thursday, November 11, 2010

Marketing UP IN SMOKE

Larry has been making email list and sending out emails promoting UP IN SMOKE. I think he is going to burn out on me.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Texas Art Colony

A conundrum exists with the artist who needs to be alone to think and create but needs the company of other artists as mentors and sounding boards. Personally I like solitude to think straight but I get very excited when I see an art colony and I saw one yesterday in the next town to where I am staying for the next three months. In Ingram Texas, a place has been restored, refurbished, what have you, for arts-sculptors, print-makers, watercolorists, oil painters to work, show their works, have workshops with visiting artists etc. The complex includes galleries, studios, an indoor and an outdoor live theatre and a place for gala events which used to be an old roller skating rink. It is called The Hill Country Arts Foundation. It is right on the Guadalupe River. What a view! You don't have to go far for inspiration. Funny, right across the road is a replica of Stonehenge. I don't know if it is full size but it is BIG. Next to this art complex is the old route 27 before the bypass. It is a loop with the old stores and shops and houses when the town was built in the 1850s. Nothing like New England 1850s, I mean old Texan style. You could easily imagine a passel of Santa Gertrudis galloping down main street followed by yippin' cowboys or a lone rider moseying up to the rail to tie up his hoss. It's neat. They sell antiques there interspersed with art galleries now. If I lived here I would definitely get involved but there is an annual fee and I won't be here long enough to take full advantage of it.
I don't know if it is an actual fact but I've heard that if an old slum needs to be revitalized the city planners encourage artists to move in to set up studios and calm the area down. That is while it is still affordable. Then the people with two good incomes buy in to it and redo the old places and then they are out of reach of the artists. This has happened in Boston in the South End and is happening in Worcester, MA. AH, The fickle finger of Fate. Opinion?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Driving in our motor home from Minnesota to south central Texas, we stopped a few times along the way. I watched the landscape slowly go from tan colored dried corn and brown soy beans to still green corn and soy beans as we went south thru Iowa, Missouri and Kansas and the very flat country to the rolling midlands of Oklahoma and cattle grazing land into Texas and then quite hilly area south of Austin to Kerrville, the heart of the hill country. Grassland turned into earth-green live oaks and cedar, tall river grasses and rocky outcroppings. Pale buff sandstone telling of the ancient inland sea. Homes and buildings made of that pastel color blends softly into the landscape with an almost ethereal atmosphere. From my palette I would choose Naples and yellow ochre and raw sienna with titanium white.
One stop that was particularly interesting to me was the museum in Kansas City that houses the remains of the White Arabia, the steam boat paddle wheeler that went down in the Missouri River in the 1850s. The river changed course and the remains were covered up by silt. It was found in a farmers field. The story of the reclamation is worth a read and the items recovered and preserved deserves a look see. After a short film at the museum we were delighted to have a talk by one of the treasure hunters who added personal notes. The thing or things that amazed me was 1. the treasure was in beautiful shape due to it's newness at the time of burial and the pristine job of preservation which was tricky. Everything had been under water for 100 years and had to be kept wet while it was permeated with a preservative and then dried which took months. 2. I was curious to see what was needed by frontier people to eke out a living such as shovels, axes,carpentry equipment, brass pins,leather and rubber boots and also some small joys such as Wedgwood china, fabric, jewelry, pretty calico buttons and perfume! They also dug up over 2 million tiny beads for trading with the native Americans which had spilled out when their string holders rotted away into the mud and had to be individually picked out and washed off. No government money was involved in the reclamation or the museum.
Now we are settled here in Kerrville,TX next to the lovely Guadalupe River. A walking tour of the immediate area proves to be an interesting source of wildflowers and there is a large list of bird sightings in the office. Bird feeders abound with instructions to fill them daily. The park owners are birders. Looking forward to the next three months here.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Municipal campgrounds and Chautauqua

In Worthington Minnesota, right on Lake Okebena, is the Olson municipal park and campground. It is lovely in Late September. Maybe because we had it almost to ourselves. Only hookup is electric but it was park-like--lawn and big trees, pretty quiet and close to downtown. The first afternoon we cruised the downtown. I like to drive down "Main Street" as it tells a lot about how the people feel about their town and it is an indicator of the commerce climate. Surrounding the lake are nice well kept homes of assorted vintage including some quite interesting architecture. Amidst these home are several parks one of which caught my eye. The Chautauqua Park. Seeing a large sign I hopped out of the car and went to read it. It tells of the history of Chautauqua in this area. Briefly Chautauqua was started in the mid 1800s by 2 Sunday school teachers in Chautauqua, NY as a summer camp for families featuring lectures and musical performances by traveling orators and artists. These 'camps meetings were located near a railroad line and hotels and B&B's sprang up to accommodate the attendees. It caught on like wildfire bringing culture to the rural areas in all the states and territories of the U.S. It continued for nearly 100 years! Some areas have revived these meetings. I have been to the one in De Funiak Springs FL, in the Panhandle. They have recently built an auditorium for meetings and publish a weeks program of diverse interest from quilting to musical performances and prominent lecturers. In Worthington I see they have a shell stage and seating for performances.
Moving on to Adrian, Minnesota, about 14 miles west on Rte 90 is another little municipal campground with similar lawn and trees style. There were quite a few RV and trailer rigs for so late in the season. I was told it is frequented by area folks who want to 'get away'. We stayed one night at one in the apple region of Monitor, Washington near Cashmere (where they make Aplets and Cotlets). It was on the Wenatchee River. It was very lovely. It certainly would be nice for us full timers to find more municipal parks for short term stays as we travel the country. They seem to be well cared for and reasonably priced.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Worthington Daily Globe Interview

Couple to host book signing Thursday
Julie Buntjer - 09/27/2010

ELLSWORTH — In the 10 years they’ve been married, Ellsworth native Larry Boomgaarden and his bride — Massachusetts native Susan Kallander — had long talked about writing a children’s book detailing the Boomgaarden family threshing tradition. It never really came to fruition, however, until one day about three years ago, when Larry handed Susan a rough draft — actually it was more of an outline — detailing the annual gatherings around their steam-powered engines. Their finished product, “Up in Smoke,” was self-published in May, and the couple will now host a book signing in Larry’s hometown of Ellsworth on Thursday. Books will be available for purchase at the signing, which begins at 5 p.m. at the Ellsworth High School library. The event coincides with an Ellsworth High School volleyball match that night. Much of Larry’s family remains in southwest Minnesota, with an aunt and cousins living in the Ellsworth area. “My grandfather was the 19th person in Minnesota with a steam engineer’s license,” explained Larry. “He started the family in the steam tractor business.” Over the years, the knowledge was passed on to the second, third and now fourth generations of Boomgaardens. Their last steam-powered threshing event was a few years back on Larry’s brother’s farm near Kenyon. Still, they had the family’s original steam threshing machine, a half-scale version built by Larry’s father and uncle, and a quarter-scale version that the kids can operate “under guidance.” “After they’re done threshing, then his sister-in-law Mona throws a bag of candy into the blower and it blows into the straw pile,” Susan said. “The kids have a great time hunting for this wrapped candy.” That scene is included in the book, which details a Boomgaarden family harvest weekend in which nearly 200 people gather on the farm to thresh the oats, eat and enjoy an evening of music. “Music is a very big feature in the Boomgaarden family,” said Susan. Larry’s father was the founding member of the George Boomgaarden Orchestra in southwest Minnesota, and his brother performs in a regional band, Iron Horse. In addition to telling the story of the threshing tradition, Susan did all of the watercolor illustrations for the book. All of the people painted into the scenes represent family members — from Larry and his brother, Dwight, to Susan’s brother, Peter, and one of her grandsons. Susan refers to Larry as the technical advisor for the book, although it has long been her dream to write, or at the very least illustrate, a children’s book. During library visits with her grandchildren, she realized the selections lacked tales of family togetherness. “I wrote this about a loving, happy family that gets together — multi-generational — to play and work together,” she said. Susan hopes the book is the first of many, but she is working now to find both a publisher and an agent. “This got me started and now I’m off and running,” she said. “I’ve got so many books in my head now.” Susan is working on a series of travel-related children’s books, including one about community supported agriculture. She will do the illustrations for those books as well. Susan earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in illustrating from the Massachusetts College of Art prior to raising a family and, most recently, operating a bed and breakfast in Massachusetts with her husband. Larry and Susan sold the B&B three years ago. “The longer we did it, the more people we had, and the more people we had, the more work it was,” Susan said. “They came from all over the world, they were having a wonderful time and we were doing laundry and cleaning toilets. “We sold it, we got out of Dodge and we’ve been on the road ever since,” she added. “It’s been three years and we’re still learning how to (live without having an actual home address).” They will spend this winter in Texas, and by next September they will be in Massachusetts for Susan’s one-woman art show, featuring her paintings from across the country, and her book. For those who can’t make it to Thursday’s book signing, Larry and Susan’s book, “Up in Smoke,” is available for purchase online at and

On the Net:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Collecting material

Went with my daughter on her CSA deliveries and took lots of photos for my series of books for which I am constantly collecting material. CSA means Community Supported Agriculture where a subscriber pays up front in Winter for a weekly supply of what ever veggies are available in the summer. This is a way for the farmer to have an income in the winter when the earth is asleep - up North. Much like a subscription to anything...come June the subscriber gets a box or 1/2 box of assorted vegetables and fruits of what ever is ripe at the moment in the fields. In New England in early June that might be peas,lettuces, strawberries,radishes,and so on. As the summer progresses the varieties widen. It is a great idea and is done nationally.
So my children's book will incorporate that concept. Kids are involved as they accompany the parent at pick up or go to the farm and see where things grow. At a farm machine museum near Sacramento, the curator told me that many kids that come in to the museum are unaware of the source of their food and a book about it would be a good thing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Signings and other news

To find out how the 'other half' does book signings, we went to a Laura Ingraham signing of her NY Times #1 best seller The Obama Diaries and waited in line 1 1/2 hrs before we got to her. She signed ALOTTA books! You can't read her signature but who cares, who else would it be. I, on the other hand, sign very carefully but I hope to bask in the glow of people waiting 1 1/2 hrs for me to scrawl my moniker some day.
We have two signings coming up. One on Sept 9th at Kenyon MN Library and one on September 30th at Ellsworth MN High School.
In 2011 Sept. I will have a signing and an art show (that will be up for 3 months)at the West Brookfield Massachusetts library. The show will include paintings of our travels across the U.S. this year.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Getting down to business

My motor home is parked in the yard of my brother-in -law in the prairie of southern Minnesota. All one can see is an ocean of corn and soybeans. This is more calming to the eye than stimulating. Thus it is great for musing, meditating and writing. On this farm there are beautiful sleek Arabian-looking horses, some farm cats of assorted sizes and colors and two large lumpy dogs. I have complete the scrapbook of this past years travels. I am starting tomorrow to illustrate a book for my daughter who is a writer. This particular book is a children's picture book.
Larry is busy getting me book signing gigs in this area for 'Up In Smoke".

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The eye of the beholder
It has been frustrating not to be able to get online to write in my blog. We are crossing the top of the USA and some places there are no RV parks and when there are they don't have WiFi. Well, now's my chance. This country of ours is absolutely spectacular. We have everything an artist could want
I come from a world where the homes are painted and the yards are kept up and the town is tidy. When I go thru tired mining towns awash with grime and the sidewalks are littered and the stores are a little grimy around the edge with corners at the entrance littered with bits of stuff, I choose not to criticize because I don't know if the folks there are unaware or depressed or overwhelmed with the magnitude of the problem. They are often surrounded by landscapes of awesome beauty. I won't mention the city but It was settled in the 1870s by Europeans attracted by the opportunity to work in the mines. First there was gold, then silver then copper and lead. All in the same spot. The shafts went down miles into the earth. Some were so deep they were impossibly hot and next to them were shafts that were cold. The miners would come up soaked with perspiration and then go out and walk home in 40 below weather. What brave men, these. I shall not pick on their shabby homes or their littered streets. Perhaps after being down in the dark mines,the miners see their homes in the light of day as bright and cheerful.They are brave men. They give their lives so that we can enjoy the benefits of their labors.
Surrounding this city are 14,000 ft high mountain peaks covered with snow. Valleys massed with wildflowers in swathes of blue lupine so thick you can't see green between, pink bitter-root, a 1" high soft mauve blossom of exquisite daintiness. dd to this scene broad sweeps of yellow and orange paint brush and sunflowers.
A feast for the eyes of Renoir and Monet. I took pictures but oh, someday I'll be back to spread these colors on a canvas. As for now I am in the Black Hills of South Dakota and heading East.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Keeping a diary

I write in my diary every day. I have done it 10 years now. I wish I had kept one my whole life because as one gets older, the years blend in to a vagueness except for certain events like a new child or one's first Tupperware party. There have been times when an old friend may bring up an event that stands out in their mind but has been long forgotten in my mind-for what ever reason. To me, it's like reading a mystery story that is missing whole chapters essential to the plot. My diaries have led to clarity on an insurance claim and to payment of wages. Who knows it could provide an alibi if I have to go before a Senate hearing committee--"What were you doing on November 16th 2002?"
One more suggestion. Don't pour your heart out in a diary with every sordid detail of your love life. It will be embarrassing later even if it is just you who reads it. Some things don't bear scrutiny. My mother said" Don't write anything you wouldn't want posted on a bulletin board.
Tonight, for example,I will write...After much hassle we got our motor home unstuck from the mud in T's yard, said our goodbyes and were off down hwy 5 to hwy 90 East to Chelan. The wind was very strong and L was occasionally white knuckled. We stopped at 4:00 and stayed overnight at a gorgeous park along side a rushing river fit for whitewater rafters. I threw out the chocolate cake I made as it was excessively dry although the frosting was good. Emailed CA to figure out what happened.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


On the advice from the book buyer at the train museum in Jamestown we went to Sacramento Rail Museum thinking that because Up In Smoke had to do with steam engines the museum store would be interested. No, Mr Grenache said only books to do with trains. We did take a tour of this terrific museum. After a 29 min. movie on how CA got a railroad (with enormous help from the Chinese men, they invented black powder millenia ago and were familiar with it's use for leveling rail beds and tunnels) The civil eng. who planned the route thru the mtns found a way not to exceed a 2% grade. We were able to go aboard the Pullman car fitted out with beds made up. Reminded me of Some Like It Hot scene on the train. In the Dining car the tables were set with the various patterns of the differing train lines. They were beautiful. Poppies, columbine, landscape scenes, colorful geometric pattern. Now all this china is very collectible and pricey so they had a plastic bubble covering each entire table. The steam engines were gorgeous with their gold, red, green etc details.
We took the advice and went to The Ag Museum in Woodland. Colleen was extremely encouraging and took some books. She even gave me ideas for future books I may write on agriculture for children. I have so many ideas right now I could bust. By the way if you have any interest in antique trucks and farm machines you will be delighted with The Ag Museum on Hays Ave in Woodland. The trucks have been restored beautifully and the variety is astounding. Chevys and Fords of course but Reos, Diamonds, types we never heard of. It's a big place so wear comfy shoes.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Up In Smoke

Up In Smoke is the title of my children's book which I wrote and illustrated with the help of my husband, Larry. He actually had the idea for this story and I consulted with him on technical details. I wanted to write a book for little kids that was a nice story about a loving family who cooperated on jobs that needed to be done with a happy spirit and when it came time to have fun they made their own entertainment with a family band and with singing and dancing. The ISBN # is 978-1-60860-934-5