Come With Me To Inclement….And Pack A Bag!

Today, I’m taking Inclement on the road.  Not in a big way, but still, I’m going to be out there talking to kids about my town, reading a book to them, and doing a couple illustrations.

eas_4716 copy

This isn’t one of our Creative Collaborations that I do with BETWIXT–gosh, I REALLY have to do a blog post on those guys.


No, this is just a simple half hour at a Family Fun Night at a school nearby.  But although I will be there just half-an-hour, it is an important night.  You see, not only is Inclement just about my favorite place in the world to spend my time, and a place that provides so many ideas I don’t have time to write about them, it is also business for me.  And an important rule in business is that you have to get the word out that you ARE in business.  You have to let people KNOW what you do.  In half an hour, over the course of maybe two books, I hope to say something or do something or read something that sticks in those parents’ and childrens’ and teachers’ minds.  Perhaps they will buy some books.  Perhaps they will hire BETWIXT and me to do a Creative Collaboration at the school.  Perhaps a Mom or a Dad somewhere will sit down and draw something with their child instead of telling them to go play video games.  Whatever happens, whatever the outcome of half an hour, it can’t be bad.

Half an hour is a very short time.  In the scheme of the universe, it is like a baby-biscuit nano-second.  But the process for preparing for that half an hour is huge.

Here is my list today:

1. Pack computer equipment.  When I read to large groups, I do so with a laptop and a digital projector.  Makes it MUCH easier for everyone to see the illustrations in the books.

2. Pack the cords for computer equipment.  This is a biggie.  If I forget the cords, what is the point of having the computer?

3. Pack my illustration supplies–easel, BIG PAPER (sheets of 3 feet x 4 feet), chalk pastels.

4. Trim 150 bookmarks to hand out.  I printed them yesterday, and today, I have to trim them.  I hate trimming.  Oh, and I have to pack these, so I don’t forget them.

5. Money.  I have to get change and pack the cash box.  People may want to purchase books.  Can’t forget this.

Wonder how it will work for MY fiscal crisis...

Wonder how it will work for MY fiscal crisis…

6.  BOOKS.  I can’t forget books.  This is probably the biggest pain as far as packing goes.  I have 7 book titles now, and I’m going to take some of each.  Which leads to 7 different boxes of books, and I never know how many to take of each, so I always bring more than I need….

7. I forgot this in the first part of the list–check to make sure all the book presentations WORK on my computer BEFORE I pack it up.  If the book doesn’t run on the computer, there is NO POINT in bringing the computer.

8. Babywipes.  No, I don’t have a baby.  But, they are very handy in cleaning my hands after I use chalk pastels for 10 minutes or so.

9. Water.  I always get thirsty.

10. Carry everything out to the truck.  This is where my 14 year old son comes in, AND his father, after he gets home from work.

11. Get ready myself.  See, I have to tell myself to do this, because I get out of the house so infrequently.  I planned my wardrobe last night, fortunately.

12.  Oh, another thing I forgot–my camera.  I have to pack the camera so I can get pictures of me doing what I do, so I can BLOG about it tomorrow to whomever might be reading this.

13.  Eat.  When I get busy like this, I forget to eat.  Then I get really hungry during my presentation, and sometimes I feel like I’m going to “lose my cookies”, and that isn’t fun when I’m reading to families.  So, I must eat before I leave.

Tastes just like chicken...

Tastes just like chicken…

I think that is it.  Lucky 13.  All of this, to get Inclement out there, in front of families, to hopefully enchant them a little bit, to make people see what I see when I visit that little place in Southwest Iowa, from which all magic and wonder flows–at least for me.


So, tomorrow, I may have a tale to tell about my brief half hour.  Perhaps I’ll have a booking for a Creative Collaboration for next fall.  Perhaps I’ll have a new idea for a book.  I will definitely be working on Soda’s Valentine.  Finishing layout, so I can turn the file into a pdf and upload it!  Yay, getting closer.  But for today, my focus has to be on this half hour that occurs around suppertime tonight.  Think happy thoughts for me!  And pray I don’t forget anything.

Tracy Lovett is an artist, author, illustrator, photographer, wife, mom, and all around creative gal trying to spread the message that creativity is one of our most important qualities.  She uses her books, photographs, and writings to encourage others to just take the chance and be creative. This BLOG is about her creative journey into all her creative endeavors, including writing for children and adults, art and illustration, photography and photo-illustration, and book-building from beginning to end.  There may be other “sidetrips” that can’t be predicted–so hop in and enjoy the ride!  You may learn more about Tracy here.  You may follow her on Facebook here.

The Little Boogers Will Bite Your Head Off

So, the other day my son (we’ll call him Two, because of his birthorder) brought a stick into the house. This isn’t unusual. He’s thirteen, but he’s been bringing sticks into the house ever since he was able to walk and hold things at the same time. This time the stick he held had a hard, possibly gross little chunk of what appeared to be brown foam.

I had seen this before.  We all had.  A couple years a go, we purchased 3 praying mantis egg cases from a seed company for a nominal price.  The goal was to put ’em in jars, hatch ’em, and watch ’em do their thing.  And so we did.  After a couple months or so, the Bell canning jars that held them were full (and I mean full) of baby praying mantises.  We had 3 different “litters” on 3 different days just because, nature being what it is, they didn’t hatch at the same time.  But that was fine.  Spread out the fun, more or less.

Lots of 'em...

Well, THIS year, we didn’t go looking for the egg case, but my son found one anyway, in his rigorous search for the perfect stick I would imagine.  So, for fun (yes, we are limited, I know, I know) we put it in a trusty old canning jar, and began the wait.  Actually, I think we forgot all about it.  But whatever.  When he found it, I figured it would take about 2 months to hatch, based upon the seed catalog eggs.  But apparently, global warming or natural climate variation was in effect, because a few days later, I was staggering around the kitchen in my morning zombie state, looked up at the shelf in front of my nose, and, you guessed it, a swarm of baby mantises (manti?) greeted my eyes.

Now, I may be a little skewed, but I think they’re kinda cute.  They are perfect miniatures of the adults, tilting their heads, looking at you with their bulbous eyes.

Hot or Not? You be the judge.....


They have the disconcerting habit of eating each other if you don’t let them go, however.  Cannibalism at its finest.  Immediately, the boys (who are homeschooled) got excited because they knew I would be more interested in the mantises than in algebra, and they were right.  I grabbed the camera and we all headed outdoors to take some pictures and do a release.   I shot and shot, got lots of good pix, and the little critters climbed out of the nursery jar in twos and threes.


Many seemed to find my arms a nice place to land and possibly set up housekeeping, but they skittered away when I blew on them.  Soon, the immediate area all around us–the brick patio, the nearby plantings–was teeming with tiny predators.  We left the jar then, out on the warm cement, and allowed them to make their first steps into the wide world.

I considered keeping a couple.  I really did. But this time, I decided not to keep any, basically because I have been there, done that.

The store-bought mantises of a few years back yielded 10 lucky winners…we set them up in containers (each in its OWN container, to prevent friendly snacking) from their first day, named them, fed them (wet catfood to start—they seem to learn quickly to lap it off the tip of a straightened paperclip) and then we got bigtime and ordered wingless fruitflies.  (Yes, I am so crazy that I actually ORDERED flies, to live in our home, to feed our pet praying mantises.)  Let me tell you, these babies can hunt.  We would pop a couple flies in each container and the mantises would quickly and effectively assassinate them.  But as they grew, so did their demands for food. And wingless fruitflies are flies nonetheless, and I got tired of squashing them all around the kitchen. So, we slowly pared down the herd with calculated releases.  Until there was one.

We decided this one (and I can’t remember his name) would get Cadillac treatment, so I bought him a plastic critter keeper which we outfitted with sticks and rocks.  He grew.  He shed his exoskeleton several times.  And I use the term “he” very loosely.  Could have been a “she”.  Probably WAS a she, as fast as it was growing.  But whatever.  This one hunted and killed voraciously.  Got some pix of it dismembering a fly.

Tastes just like chicken...


Imagine if it were big and we were small.  Me thinks the human race would be in serious trouble.  Heads would be rolling, as it were.  But, nature being what it is, the status quo is fiction.  One morning, about 5 am, I was wisely sleeping and I heard a terrific noise that scared the crap out of me coming from the kitchen.  I sat straight up in bed, my eyes crusty, my heart pounding, listening for ANOTHER noise that would indicate imminent death from a home invasion.  Silence.  Nothing.  And since the dog didn’t bark, I figured I’d take my chances and go back to sleep.  Which I did.

When I awoke, I found the critter keeper on the floor, all the rocks tumbled onto the sides and roof.  There was no mantis.  I sifted through the rocks for a crushed body.  Nothing.  I searched around the kitchen for a tiny, poised killer.  Nothing.  Hmmmmm.  The cat wound around my leg and nosed through the rocks.  He looked at me.  His eyes were wide and green and innocent.  My mind flashed to all the times he has lept 6 vertical feet to catch a moth.  All the times he has stalked spiders and houseflies, creeping up on them as if he were hunting antelope in the grasslands instead of bugs in my house.

“Ah, Soda Pop,” I said.  He slanted his eyes up to me, clearly pleased with the situation.  So, the tiny hunter had become the hunted.  And then, apparently, had become lunch.  Or early breakfast.  Or maybe cats don’t care what the meal is called, as long as it’s still wriggling.  And for what it’s worth, I know that if ole Soda weighed in at 200 lbs or so, I WOULD be the hunted.  It’s a circle of life…thing.  And Soda knows that, too.  He tolerates me because I provide him with catfood and an occasional well-aged praying mantis.  He pays me for my endeavors by rubbing my legs and clawing my furniture.  Oh, and I dress him up in costumes as well. There’s a free download of his children’s book I HATE HALLOWEEN somewhere on this website, so check it out.

Oh yes, he pays his dues.......


See, here he is, all dressed up.  He hates me, clearly.  He takes it out on praying mantises and such.  It all rolls downhill.  Probably a Karmic lesson there.

Oh, and I have two new pets.

Adorable, ain't it?

Jumping spiders.  Beautiful little killers they are, as well.  I’ll keep you posted.  Now I gotta go feed the cat.