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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Mouse That Roared, By Mouse

Mouse recently read Leonard Wibberley's comic novella "The Mouse That Roared" and was quite miffed by the total absence of mice--roaring or otherwise--in the story. He decided to write his own version, which he posted on Twitter over the weekend. Here's the complete version in standard prose form for those who missed it!

Once upon a time there was a little wooden mouse that was unable to utter so much as a squeak. The mouse was very observant and noticed the smallest details. Although he could not speak, he used photos to show others what he saw. But then the mouse appeared in fewer and fewer photos and it made him sad because he’d lost his way of communicating with the world.

One day, the mouse met another little mouse. The other mouse, named Meece, was made of chocolate and also could not speak. Although neither mouse could utter so much as a squeak, they understood each other perfectly and became the very best of friends.

One day, a person saw the mouse and his friend. "How cute!" she said looking at the mouse. ‘How delicious!’ she said looking at Meece. And then she picked up Meece and started to put the little chocolate mouse in her mouth!

"No! Stop!" the mouse wanted to cry. But he couldn’t utter so much as a squeak. He watched with horror as Meece entered the gaping maw. The mouse felt a terrible agony welling up inside. He felt sure he would burst with the pain. And then he let out a tremendous roar!

The roar rattled the windows and caused all the neighborhood dogs to bark. It scared the person so much she dropped Meece and ran! 

Meece was safe! The mouse, which had been also been startled by his own roar, rocked with silent laughter. Meece silently laughed, too. Meece couldn’t utter so much as a squeak in thanks, but the mouse didn’t need to hear the words to know Meece was grateful.

The mouse never made another sound other than that mighty roar, but then again, he never needed to. No one ever tried to eat Meece again. And so the little wooden mouse and the little chocolate mouse lived happily--if silently--ever after! 

The End.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Horsing Around: Equine Therapy Part II

Drifter, the new man in my life.
I am extremely pleased to report that after taking off the month of April because of various appointments crowding my calendar (I try not to have more than one a week), I am once again hanging out with horses! I did a fair amount of research to find a stable that seemed like a good match for me and after first trying to get things set up with a stable that couldn't seem to call me back, I found Sage Meadows, a small riding school just down the street from my high school. I liked that while the school teaches all kinds of competitive riding, the instructor has a background in therapeutic riding, too. I sent an email asking if what I was looking for--needing to take it slow, no greater ambition than learning to ride well--might be a good fit and she said absolutely, that she already knew what horse she would put me on. The thing was, she wouldn't have room for afternoon lessons until June. I emailed back, asking if it would be too weird to ask if I could come groom a horse now and then and was thrilled to learn it wasn't a weird request at all, that I could lease a horse for $35 a day to groom all I wanted! After I've had lessons with her and she knows I have the skill to handle riding a horse on my own, I could potentially lease the horse to ride on days when I didn't have lessons, but I was more than welcome, since I had some experience handling a horse, to come by now to get to know my future mount, Drifter!

Drifter is a very sweet old gentleman who is starting to show his age but still makes a great lesson horse!

Drifter's shedding his winter coat. You
can see how much hair I groomed off him!
And so yesterday I made my way over to the stable to meet Katie, the instructor, and Drifter, the sweet, mellow Quarter Horse who will be my horse companion. I'm pleased to report that I liked both of them. Katie seemed knowledgable, friendly, and was capable of imparting instruction with just the perfect tone. I can tell she'll be a great riding instructor. I also liked that she trusted me! And Drifter is lovely. He's considered "bombproof," industry-speak for a horse that is startled by nothing and is therefore safe for beginners and children. He's been a school horse all of his long life: he's 29, which is a very ripe old age for a horse! Katie had known him from when she was in college; she boarded her horse at the stable where he was a beloved lesson horse, so when she saw that he was up for sale a few years ago, she bought him, knowing he was a wonderful starter horse for beginners. I liked him very much. He's substantially larger than Lacey: he's 16.2 hands high, which means he's 5'6" at the withers, which is where the back and the neck come together. That translates into substantial acreage to groom! Drifter seemed very patient and friendly, though was slightly restless (in a non-threatening way) because he's having an allergy flare-up. He loooooooves having his belly rubbed and would stretch out his neck, his lips quivering with ecstasy! He also loves having his face groomed. I felt completely safe and confident of both my ability to handle him and to make him happy, so it was delightful to spend two whole hours grooming him! Then I got to feed him two carrots and an apple as a treat (another delightful experience) and gave him a dish of special feed (Katie is trying to fatten him up because he's getting bonier in his old age) that made all the other horses jealous. It was a fabulous experience all around.

Drifter loved having the hollows above his eyes rubbed!

Bear and Syd, two of the other school horses,
touch noses over the fence.
I met three of the other school horses, too, and was impressed by how friendly and interested in people they were. I thought that seemed like a good sign. Bear and Beacon were nice, but it's Syd that has stolen my heart. Don't get me wrong, Drifter's clearly a wonderful horse, but my goodness, that Syd is gorgeous! My new goal for my lessons is to get skillful enough to ride Syd! He's a monster of a horse, 17.2 H (that means a whopping 5'10" at the withers!), but friendly and acquisitive. He's a young 'un, just turning eight (most horses are not ridden until the age of four), and when not being "a labrador retriever puppy of a horse" (to quote the instructor), he's proving himself as a dressage and jumping horse. I am not interested in dressage or jumping, but I am decidedly interested in mastering whatever it takes to get me on his handsome, Hanoverian back!

Syndicate, or Syd

This is what Syd looks like in action.

This is what Syd looks like when trying to determine if my camera is edible.

I had an absolutely wonderful time during my hours grooming Drifter and ogling Syd and greeting Beacon and Bear. I can't fully explain how whole and quiet it makes me feel to stand before a large horse, his nose is brushing my chest and his eyes closed in pleasure as I caress his face or how competent, purposeful, and satisfied I feel as I briskly brush the loose hair out of a horse's coat. When I'm with a horse, I cease to feel sick and disabled, I forget I have limitations, my mind does not ramble away to think of other things: I am entirely present in the moment, just a human and a horse enjoying each other's company. There is no other time, ever, that I forget about the migraines. But being in the stable with Drifter--large, itchy, patient, friendly Drifter--frees me from the confines of myself so that I can simply be.

Syd 'n' me. He's nuzzling and nibbling on my shoulder!

From here on out, I can come by any day except Mondays or Wednesdays (Drifter gives lessons on those days) and spend as much time with Drifter as I want. I'm to remember to turn out the lights in the tack room when I'm done and leave the check for my lease payment on the desk in the office, but other than that, what I do is up to me. I can guarantee that Drifter is going to be enjoying Thursday afternoons from here on out and will be quite the well-groomed horse! I will be enjoying Thursdays, too, and look forward to those hours in his company being free of all thought of my disabilities.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Evolution of Mouse in a Digital Era

Poor Mouse.

From November of 2007 to July of 2011, I was all about Mouse. I took thousands of photographs of him, he got to travel with me to California and Arizona, I started selling the photos, I wrote a children's book featuring him that I actually sent off to a publisher (it was rejected), I was working on a second children's book, and then I got that darn concussion last summer. Since then, things just haven't been the same.

"What happened?" Mouse wonders.

Part of it is directly related to the concussion and my ability to work on a complex project. I haven't had the energy and mental agility to research publishers and agents and to track down the final props for the alphabet book photos. Other factors have included Etsy's switch from displaying search results according to recency to results according to relevancy in August of 2011. Before the switch, as long as I renewed a listing every day, my photos came up high in the results. With the new search, the keywords that you use to "tag" your listings matter most and I have yet to figure out how to attract shoppers the way I used to. According to my stats, the drop-off isn't too severe, but before the switch, I was included in an average of 15 treasuries every month. Now, the number is closer to three.

So cold and alone...

Mouse has also been the victim of the success of my macro photo shop. I had just started taking mouse-free photos prior to the concussion and that's what I've focused on since. Items from my macro shop have been featured in an average of 55 treasuries a month. It receives five times the number of visitors and eight times more listings marked as favorites. It's much more rewarding, especially since I have only a very limited amount of time to devote to activities like making listings, to expend my energy on projects related to my non-mouse photography.

Also, Mouse and my new camera don't really mix. My fabulous 100mm macro lens has a very shallow depth of field--too small to contain more than a fraction of Mouse! That means if his eyes are in focus (which is most critical), his nose and his ears are just barely in range and the rest of his body, much less whatever he's posing with, is out of focus. This isn't so much of a problem with the 18-55mm lens that came with the camera, but I find that lens virtually useless for anything else, so I seldom have it on the camera unless I have a specific project for it. And Mouse is pretty banged up from twenty years of life, much of it spent as a plaything, something that is maybe a little TOO clear when captured in all those megapixels!

The eye on the right is in focus in this photo, but that means the eye on the left is out of focus!

Mouse's face is in focus in this image, but the tiny flowers he's posing with are not.

Poor battered little dude.

But there's something else. I have to confess, I've gotten bored of Mouse.

Have you ever had the experience where you've repeated an ordinary word over and over and over to yourself until it has come to seem totally absurd? That's how I've started feeling about Mouse. He just seems weird. I find myself unable to fathom why anyone WOULD want a picture with a mouse in it and that makes it very hard to promote him when I've lost faith in his appeal! I still love the idea of him as a children's book character, but the whole art thing has seemed increasingly bizarre. I am disenchanted with Mouse.

"What!?! But I'm so charming!"

But there is good news for Mouse fans (of which there are, thankfully, many among my acquaintance!) because this last week, I suddenly had a resurgence of interest in my little wooden friend.

Now, I've never gotten into Twitter because I've felt like it would be redundant--I'd be posting the same updates as I have on my photography Facebook page except without the benefit of being able to upload all the photos. I try to conserve my energy and having a c.creativity Facebook account AND a Twitter account didn't seem worth it. But then my mother was asking me if I'd ever considered being on Twitter and for some reason, it suddenly occurred to me that MOUSE could be on Twitter and that idea appealed to me immensely! It's bugged me that you can only connect your Facebook page to one of your shops on Etsy and I have it linked to my macro store, since that's where most of the action is. But if Mouse could have his own social media platform... I liked the sound of that!


So now Mouse has a Twitter account! The idea behind it is that he's tweeting from his perspective and I hope, over time, to develop a sort of voice for him. It's completely reawakened my interest in Mouse. I've started taking photos of him specifically so they can go up on Twitter and when I'm awake at night, instead of thinking of Words I Like (what, you don't spend your hours of insomnia creating mental lists of words you find appealing?), I've started coming up with ideas for tweets! I've always thought Mouse had a lot of personality for such a simple object, so I'll work on developing it now through a new medium, though I hope it will also rekindle my desire to spruce up his Etsy shop. Mouse, of course, is very pleased to be getting attention again and hopes to see you on Twitter!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crucial Differences

The last two weeks were hard ones for me, reminders that I am an unwell individual, that this little house of happiness-within-my-limitations in which I dwell is built not upon a foundation anchored to the earth, but on a raft. And that sometimes, despite all of my efforts to remove stressors and cultivate gratitude, the seas get rough.

The first few days were the products of fatigue. A marathon final dog-sitting day was followed by an Easter dinner party and then, on Tuesday, a physical. Getting a thorough routine checkup from your doctor may not seem like an exhausting activity, but sitting in one of those little gowns for an hour while discussing various matters with my doctor rates as a stressful activity on my hypersensitive stress meter. I was worn out and despite getting twelve to thirteen uninterrupted hours of sleep every night, it was like I just couldn't catch up. I was queasy, had little appetite, and even if I managed to muster a few hours of energy, it was as if my mind couldn't function beyond a certain (low) level. I became increasingly frustrated as the fatigue didn't abate and my mind remained too sluggish for me to make an progress on creative projects. My afternoons tend to fly by, especially since my day usually starts around noon, but unable to work or concentrate or enjoy anything, the afternoons seemed to drag on forever. I started feeling more and more depressed, the weight of my sickness, my disability, and even my creativity piling on top of unending fatigue. I periodically have little breakdowns where I grieve all the damages and loses incurred by the migraines, which is a fair and even healthy thing to do now and then, and I wondered if this growing, oozing unhappiness might be the lead-up to a release of grief. But something about it was not quite right. I wandered aimlessly around the house, my nose running because I was constantly on the verge of weeping for no discernible reason.

It was the hand tremor that tipped me off to the real problem. I have a constant fine hand tremor that is occasionally made worse by things like low blood sugar, but on Saturday morning it had become distinctly coarse, a visible shaking that augured something else at work. When I have a new symptom, or a worsened symptom, particularly when coupled with psychiatric symptoms, it always behooves me to look at my life (and especially my medication) and ask, "What changed?" And what had changed, as of that Thursday, probably right around the time when I was starting to recover from my dog-sitting exertions, was I started taking lithium made by a different manufacturer.

I've started on Medicare this month, which means that it now costs the same for me to get my drugs at a convenient pharmacy as it does at the inconvenient pharmacy where I've gone in recent years, so I'm in the processing of switching all of my prescriptions over to the convenient one. I've already found that I can only tolerate Teva's version of generic Lamictal and Sandoz's version of generic Phenergan, but I'd only ever taken the lithium made by Roxane Labs. Well, when I switched to the new pharmacy, they filled it with their go-to version, made by Glenmark, and just like that, I was in trouble.

The new pharmacy expressed perfect willingness to fill the prescription with my old brand of lithium, but they didn't have any in stock. They'd have to order it in. And so I was going to have to wait.

Sometimes knowing WHY I'm depressed can be enough to help me scramble out it, but this was a chemical depression and there was virtually nothing I could do. All of my vaunted coping skills amounted to little more than treading water in heavy seas. Just like that, I was back to where I was seven years ago: on the verge of drowning. I knew why I felt so bad, I knew that the fix was only a few days away, and yet I was taking on an alarming amount of water. I did what I could: I stayed away from my computer because not being up to working on my creative projects made me feel worse, I put the razors out of sight in a drawer just in case, I sat in the sun with the dog, and I read and read and read.

The only time I was able to forget myself, when the constant readiness to weep evaporated, when my breathing became easier, when my growing fixation on my unblemished arms abated, was when I was reading. And so I devoured books, one after another, and I saw clearly, for the first time, what role books played in helping me cope when I was younger. Books can not only help me float, but render me weightless, being-less, a mind and emotion that exists only to absorb a story. That is one of the pleasures of reading on a good day. It turns out, it is also my salvation on a bad one.

By Monday, my emotional state had become intolerable and was continuing to disintegrate. It's worse, now, too, than it used to be, because I know what it feels like not to feel that way. I had to have my right lithium. It dawned on me that I still had refills on my prescription at the inconvenient pharmacy (which hadn't been open the day before), meaning I did not have to wait until the right lithium arrived at my new one. And so on Tuesday morning, after five days of near-drowning, I was able to take my regular dose of my good old Roxane Labs lithium and by afternoon, the fatigue, the misery, the tremor, the desire to weep, and the need to seek oblivion in books was waning.

There was one final twist in this saga: during that lousy week and a half, even though I was spending hour after hour reading, I had an unusually small number of migraines. After those first taxing days of dinner parties and doctor's appointments, they plagued me virtually not at all. I didn't even have to take Tylenol. I didn't notice this much, except with passing relief that they were not compounding my suffering. But then, on Tuesday, right about the time when the positive mood effects of the lithium were kicking in, the migraines came back. Not worse, just the usual shrill migraine choir, the same base level of migraines that has been present in my life for a couple of years now. I would not go so far as to say that my right lithium causes my very wrong migraines, but it is clear that it contributes.

This was a distinctly dispiriting discovery. But with the right lithium, I can survive the migraines. With the wrong lithium or no lithium, I can't survive at all. I've since shrugged it off--I gotta have lithium. If that means I also have to have migraines, I'll have migraines.

So, as I said, it was a tough couple of weeks, a sobering reminder of my vulnerability and disability. Who would have imagined that the difference between doing okay and not okay would be as slight as the difference between Roxane Lab's lithium and Glenmark's?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blue Skies, A Beautiful Collie & Blooming Trees

Mr. Gorgeous greets me at my car door when I arrive.
This week finds me recovering from a busy and beautiful three days with my collie buddy. We finally--FINALLY--had some sunny weather and it even got into the 60's on Saturday!

Sugar, an expert wader who hasn't learned to
swim yet, ponders the watery gulf that lies
between her and her stick.
First off, we must of course talk about dogs. Mr. Gorgeous was his usual good-looking and ever-so-slightly stubborn self, insisting on laying in the wet new bark as well as wading straight into the water at the park despite promising that he only wanted off-leash to play with another dog. To be fair, that other dog, a young cutie named Sugar, had been fetching sticks in the water, but she would have happily played with him on dry land if he'd been cooperative!

Frolicking Finley.
Sugar may have been sweet, but she had nothing on Finley, a hilarious Havanese we met at another park. Finley was the embodiment of joy in canine form: jolly, frisky, light-hearted, and playful. I don't often stand around and laugh and laugh with delight while watching a dog frolic in the park, but that was the magic of merry little Finley!

A few photo of His Handsomeness in action...

Mr. Gorgeous goes wading.

Enjoying the rawhide stick I gave him on a sunny afternoon.

Dogs weren't the only animals on the agenda. There's a resident pair of bald eagles that live at the park where we met Finley, which is just down the road from Mr. Gorgeous' house. I sometimes see them and rather more frequently hear them when we're at his place, but it's never worked out for me to photograph them. When an eagle started making a ruckus (they have a sort of stuttering shriek that's a little like the sound of a persistently crying seagull) and I spied it in a tree in the yard next door, I grabbed my camera and went outside. The eagle was gone, but I waited to see if it would return, and was rewarded by the sight of a pair of adolescent bald eagles (they have dark, mottled plumage without the signature white heads and tails) circling and calling to each other over the house. I was thrilled to get both of them in a single photo!

Juvenile bald eagles!

On the other end of the size spectrum, I also had a good time photographing ants. I must confess to having a considerable fondness for them and I'd been idly watching them scurry over the stone-slab bridge where I was sitting enjoying the sunshine when I realized that my macro lens had the magnification to make ant photography possible. The hard part is that the ants move so darn fast, making it difficult to focus on them! This one turned out rather nice.

Hello, ant.

There were also some lovely sky photos to be had during my stay with Mr. Gorgeous. Overall, the weather was sunny, but there were scattered showers and the scattered clouds from which they fell, and the vistas afforded by the lakeside house and neighboring parks are perfect for snapping sky shots, especially when tinged with the colors of sunset!

A rare thunderstorm builds up behind the towers of Seattle.

Delicate pastel layers at sundown.

But from a photographic standpoint, the highlight of my three-day stay with Mr. Gorgeous was the opportunity to get pictures of the blooming spring trees in the sunshine! The cherries and saucer, star, and Kobus magnolias are all in bloom at last! The photos below are just a taste; the full macro feast will be visible on my c.creativity Facebook page in the next few days once I get my images sorted!

A large flowering cherry tree at sunset.

Looking up through a kobus magnolia.

Blue skies and saucer magnolia flowers!

I'm pretty worn out, so it will take a little while, but I'm really hoping to have lots of beautiful spring photos available to view online very soon and some new listings on Etsy to follow!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Tour of My Headquarters

I am sure many of you have been spending most of your waking hours wondering what, exactly, the world of c.creativity looks like. In order to provide you with a little peace of mind, I thought I'd give you a tour of the c.creativity headquarters.

This is what it looks like.
Once upon a time, my office was my older sister's bedroom, but with her long flown from the nest and me back in it, it's been converted to suit my creative purposes.

The desk.

Because I do digital photography and I primarily communicate with the outside world via the internet, I spend most of my time in front of my computer. I bought my Mac back when I first starting to get into Mouse photography and made the excellent decision to double the RAM and the storage space when I purchased it, so, despite taking thousands and thousands of photos over the last four years, it still has plenty of memory left and runs just fine. I have a glare reduction film over the screen and keep the contrast all the way down to make it easier on my sensitive migraine eyes. The desk I bought at Ikea when I started grad school. It's really just a big table, with no drawers or anything. My reasoning was that I could have my computer on one side and use the other half for art projects, like drawing. It has kind of worked out that way. I DO use one half for the computer, but the other half usually ends up being storage for projects and my camera, so while I'm not sitting at the desk drawing, it does function as a station for multiple creative endeavors. (Besides, I discovered that I like drawing while holding the sketchbook or pad of paper in my lap like I used to do back in college when I had zero desk space!) To make up for the lack of standard desk drawers, I have that nifty little upright chest of drawers on the right side of my desk. I took a fancy to it while at an antique store and was delighted when my parents gave it to me for Christmas! It's perfect for all the little stuff and then I have ample drawers elsewhere in my room for files and larger supplies. Mouse lives on top of it, perched on an antique ring box, when he isn't traveling in my camera bag, as he was during this photo shoot. Oh, and yes, I do have a trio of toy corgis in front of my monitor. They came in sacks of miscellaneous toys I purchased at thrift stores while props shopping (more on props later) and since corgis make me smile, I decided to keep them out on my desk. I would definitely recommend a desktop toy corgi trio to anyone who is considering acquiring one.

The wheelie cart.

 Below my desk I have this super-handy wheelie cart that serves as storage for my scanner, paper cutter, various pieces of paper too large to be stored elsewhere, and the suitcase, originally belong to my great-grandparents, that I use to corral supplies related to packaging my photo orders. That includes plastic photo sleeves, business cards, tissue paper, return address and other labels, c.creativity stickers, and so forth. You can see a little bit of raffia hanging out of the suitcase in the photo. What I love about the wheelie cart is that it stores so nicely under my desk out of the way, but I can easily pull it out to use my scanner or my beloved paper cutter (I manage to generate the kinds of projects that make a paper cutter indispensable), and if I need my packaging materials, I can slide the whole suitcase out with ease. It's a great way to control clutter!

The shipping station.

To the right of my desk is what I think of as my shipping station, though it serves more functions that just that. It's where I store my greeting cards and all my camera gear, including my studio-in-a-box (a photo cube with lights), my smaller tripods, and the boxes and manuals that came with my various pieces of equipment. My 8x10 rigid mailers, which seen the most action, are located front and center, while the larger and more cumbersome photo sleeves, mailers, and shipping tubes are leaned upright against the sides. The shipping station is also home to Meece the Chocolate Mouse, an old globe, a photo that got damaged that I kept, and a magic, invisible lamp.

The bookcases and postcard collection.

Turning the corner, here's a peek at the bookcases just visible at the edge of the shipping station image. They are large, tall bookcases, and I have completely run out of room and have resorted to stacking books on top of books. The bookcases are garnished with a variety of interesting photos and artifacts that are a pain to dust, and on the wall above I display part of my postcard collection. It's in desperate need of a good curating and I've run out of room on the wall as well, so that's a project I need to get around to one of these days. I've been officially collecting postcards since I started college and I have a number of people who are kind enough to regularly send me new ones. I also buy postcards for myself if I see good ones. I don't know why I like postcards so much, but I do. You are more than welcome to send me any weird or interesting ones lying around. And speaking of weird, if you volunteer as a teacher for kids' art camps being overseen by a ceramicist, you may just receive a seriously funky, goofy-eyed, unshaven, decorative teacup (with polka dots) as a thank you gift!

My assistant.

I'm pleased to say that there is sufficient room in my office for my assistant to have a workspace of her own. Abbey's jobs include sleeping, looking cute, resting her head on the rope bones she loves too much to chew, coming over to say hi and ask for petting when I look up from my computer, and getting dog hair on the books adjacent to her pillow (and everywhere else, for the matter). She is highly supportive of everything I do and an invaluable asset to c.creativity.

How much is that doggy in the window?

This is the view from the window. We gave up trying to grow grass and switched
to a more natural woodland look, since moss was what grew best back there anyway.

On the wall opposite the bookcases and my assistant's workspace is the window. Beneath the window sits a dresser whose drawers I solemnly swear I will clean out one day. The drawers contain things like CDs, outmoded computer data storage devices, printer paper, stationery, and stuff I can't figure out where else to put. On top of the desk sits a charming group that includes a purple dog I made in high school wearing a purple feather boa that I received as a gift. The giver thought I might be the kind of person who could rock a feather boa, which is true, but seeing as I don't have that many occasions to do so, the papier mache dog gets to sport it most of the time. In the summer, hummingbirds perch in the cedar tree or the barely visible tree just in front of it, singing their creaky little territorial songs and dive-bombing any other hummers that dare to visit the fuchsias and the waxbell. On days when it's bright out and I'm feeling sensitive to light, I have a shade that does a nice job of filtering the light that I pull down to block the view of the cedar tree and humming birds and all that outside stuff.

The art supply closet.

The room's closet is located on the wall opposite my desk and I have made the most of that storage space, turning one half into a repository of art supplies and devoting the other half to storing props. The art supply portion of the closet is wonderfully well stocked and well organized. I found those towers of drawers to be an excellent way to make it easy to find and access what I want. I can quickly find various kinds of tape or pastels or wire or beads and none of it gets tangled up or muddled or messy. Bins, like the one holding all of my acrylic paints, brushes, and related supplies, make it easy to pull out all the equipment associated with an activity at once. If I have a painting project, all I have to do is grab the bin. The vintage 1960's era suitcase serves as a sort of filing system for my larger fabric swatches and I love how easy it is to pull out and put away and how charming it looks to boot!

The props closet.

When I was growing up, I had a box in my closet that I called my "junk box" and it contained all the weird odds and ends that didn't really have a purpose but that I found intriguing. When I grew up, I was glad I saved all those tiddly bits of this and that because I found their purpose: serving as props in Mouse books. At this time, there are no Mouse books available to the general public. I hope this will change someday. I have a completed manuscript on the topic of colors and one on the alphabet in the works. Technically, the alphabet book has been on hold since my concussion last summer, but I hope that this summer, when I have more energy (I always have more energy in the summer), I'll be able to get back to work. All those funny little useless things I collected have come in handy and I've acquired a great many more! The closet looks fairly chaotic, but I know where most of the stuff is and have tried to make it easy to access things when I need them. I've found those plastic cases designed to hold screws and nails to be very helpful for sorting and storing tiny stuff like Barbie shoes and cheap trinkets and sea shells and plastic dinosaurs!

The relaxation area.

My office is not solely devoted to the business of being creative; thanks to my armchair and recently acquired ottoman, it's also where I relax. I can control the lighting and the noise level better here than any other room in the house, so I spend a lot of leisure time in my office away from all the stimulating stuff (like the pattern on the throw pillows on the couch, say) that goes on in the rest of the house. I grew up without a TV and we still don't have one, but since my migraines started and it's become so much harder for me to read, I've taken to watching a fair amount of TV on the internet. And yes, if carefully chosen and viewed with appropriate lighting from a proper distance, watching television shows on my computer screen is easier on the eyes that reading and is a great way to pass the time. I've found that crocheting is another good activity that is easy on the eyes and passes the time in a way that feels productive, so I keep a bag with whatever baby blanket I'm currently working on close at hand so I can crochet while watching shows (whenever possible) on crocodilians. I store finished crocheting projects and books inside the ottoman.

And that, my friends, brings us to the end of our tour of c.creativity's headquarters. If you wish, you can now accurately picture me sitting at my desk sorting through my photos or writing blog posts like this one, spinning around in my desk chair to bounce an idea off my assistant ("Whaddaya think, girl?"), delving into my closet to get some rubber cement, or putting my feet up on the ottoman after I decare that the creative part of the day is done.