Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Golden Ram-Sam

He's done!
My Golden Ram! 
At last!

But why did it take so many months that I'm not even willing to guess how much time has passed since I started building this creatureAnd what will I do with him now?  More time will tell, maybe! 

Some years ago, I decided it would be fruitful and interesting to work on the story of Psyche.  At first glance it's a romance, but deeper down it's a female hero's journey.

I was in the midst of a mask-making furor, so I thought I'd make some masks of characters in the story.  Maybe I'd use them in a performance, maybe they'd be just for me. 

In the myth Psyche has to prove herself through a number of impossible labors.   One of her tasks is to fetch fleece from the golden ram--a creature who is beyond fierce.

So ... my task:  create the ram.
I started by making a clay mold so I could use it to form a sturdy papier mache face and head.  For horns, I made frames of aluminum foil and wrapped them in muslin soaked in wallpaper paste, and painted the results.

His ears are natural leather.  His eyes?  Well, I'm not telling (you'll recognize them, I'm sure).  His fur?  Golden Fleece, of course.

About the fierceness.  All right, already.  I know I know I know.  I can't help that he won't scare anyone.  He's been tamed, see?  Psyche did it when I wasn't looking.  Not my fault.

Now there's one more half-done mask remaining on my table:  Cerberus, the three-headed (fierce) dog that guards the gates of Hades.  You don't even want to know how not fierce he's turning out.   For those who need to know:  tune in here later.  Much later.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ornamentally Yours

I know people who make sure to take their Christmas trees down before New Year's Day, so they'll have good luck during the New Year.

I figure I'm ahead if I get it done before March, though the truth is, I do feel a poof of exhilaration for getting to it before Epiphany because then I, too, get to be on for a clean start.
But more than that, I love revisiting favorite ornaments as I put them away.  Each one brings on such memories!

This Christmas I was gifted with two new ornaments.
This one is in honor of the fact that a penguin has always
been our icon on the back of handmade Christmas cards.
It holds mini-jelly beans.  I don't want to tell you what part of this penguin dispenses the jelly beans.

I so wish I could demonstrate this elephant's propellers because he is truly the most adorable guy ever, as he bicycles through the labyrinth that is our mantle during Christmastide.

This straw goat makes me giggle.  A friend and I went to a lecture about children in Sweden being visited by Christmas goats.  We were all a-shiver thinking about the bad goat arriving in a sleigh (earthbound, drawn by horses), demanding presents from misbehaving children.   Happily, this red one, who was given to me by that friend, isn't grumpy.

You know how your memory plays tricks with the truth?  I remember how eager I was as a child to be allowed to set up the manger scene at Christmas.  The set is mine now, but to my surprise, it turns out to be a completely mismatched set containing multiples of wise men in a telescopic array of sizes, and very few other characters.  Thank goodness there's at least a baby Jesus.

Oh, but the angels!  These little wooden, music- creating creatures from my childhood are every bit as alluring I remember!   I'm even charmed that a couple of them have misbehaved over the years, and lost a wing.

And that would explain why I'm a sucker for adding to my collection of wee wooden angels in highly unsubtle colors!

This Christmas tree ball is from my sister's tree.
Here's to spending holiday time with family and revisiting childhood stories.

Happy New Year!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Birds that Gobsmack

I am gobsmacked (what they say in Australia for surprised and amazed).  Just when I thought that the summer library reading programs were all but over for this year, and nothing new would happen, I got the biggest delight of the summer!  My next to last show of the season of "Gobsmacked!" (a program of Australian folktales, accompanied by some Australian treasures I brought home from my trip there last year) was in teeny, tiny Scotland Neck, North Carolina, where everyone is happy to know each other.   The amazing, energizing librarian, Brenda, had gathered a hearty audience of diverse ages, all eager to be at the library and at my program.

Also in the audience was Mildred, an Australian Cape Barren goose.
Mildred had a great deal to say during my show.  She especially related to the story about how birds got their colors and their songs, told with shadow puppets.  When the birds in my story, one by one, got their own particular sound or song, she spoke up in her own inimitable honking that sounds suspiciously like a pig snorting.  HHHHHHHOOOOOIIIIIINK.  She was clearly mighty proud to possess this sound.

And then I got to meet Brent, who brought Mildred from Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Bird Park.  The park is situated right at the edge of teeny, tiny Scotland Neck, an enormous, gorgeous refuge for all manner of gobsmacking birds from every corner of the world.  Civilians and ornithologists flock to Scotland Neck to study what Brent and his family know about birds, especially waterfowl, which is huge.

Brent took time from his own work to show some of the Australian birds to my North Carolina friend, Gayle, and me (she's the photographer of the accompanying bird photographs).  Brent even lept into an enclosure to retrieve a gorgeous, freshly shed feather for me.

Yep, I'm gobsmacked, and I'll be returning to Scotland Neck as soon as possible.  You might want to check it out for yourself:  And while you're there, go say hi from me to Brenda at the Scotland Neck Memorial Library.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Art through the Mails

I have always been fascinated by how many professional actors and storytellers also do some form of  visual art either professionally or in their free time.  For me, since so much of my working time involves words, getting away from those words and working with my hands to create something visual feels invigorating, and often opens little secret doors in my brain.     

So recently, when I heard that an artist I don't know and have never met was arranging a postcard swap for anyone interested, I was on it.

All we had to do was sign up.  She cut and pasted all of our names so that she could send each of us ten names.  We agreed to send a postcard to each person on our list.  And each of us will receive ten postcards from ten different people. 

I drew names from Florida, California, Canada, Germany and Australia!  Oh my!  What a tantalizing way to make the world smaller and
have an excuse to do a little art at the same time.

I opted to repurpose some hideous
postcards I've had for decades by doing multimedia collages on top of the original pictures.

I put my ten finished postcards in the mail yesterday.  The photos on this post are a few of the cards I sent.  

I can't wait to mail-meet ten new artists.  I already feel as though I "know" Shannon Ganshorn, the woman who organized this swap.  You might enjoy checking out her website.
She's posted some of the postcards she's sending, and they're gorgeous! 

 My postman is going to be amazed to see real, personal letters and postcards among my bills and adverts. I will be positively delirious. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

No Tricks. Just Magic: CD Review

 No Trix Just Magic

No Tricks.  Just Magic.
A collection of fairy tales as told by Megan Hicks

Available from
$15.00 per CD; MP3 Download $9.99
There was a magical moment at The National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee,  this past year.  When Megan Hicks wrapped up the story of Davy and the Devil, the tent’s entire audience rose to their feet, roaring with satisfaction.  Megan and the stories she told had taken them to the land of magic and brought them home fulfilled.
If you didn’t have a chance to hear these stories in person, or if you’re wishing you could experience the magic again, not to worry, you can hear the stories as often as you like on her CD, No Tricks. Just Magic.  A collection of fairy tales as told by Megan Hicks.

Megan’s vocal style is graceful and smooth.  She tells the stories in a straightforward narrative style that gathers the listener straight into the each story and keeps them immersed through to the end.   No tricks, just the magic of these carefully chosen stories.
The devil in Davy and the Devil is endearingly boisterous.  We pull for Davy, though, and can’t wait to hear how he will pull off outwitting the devil.  The same with Molly Whuppie.  We know she’ll outwit the giant but we love the excitement of the journey and her cleverness.
At the beginning of the CD Megan shares the story that brought her to storytelling, The Shoemaker and the Elf, and at the end of the CD she gives us her own fractured version of the same story, The Shoemaker and the Groundhogs.  If you’re not familiar with fractured fairy tales, this is a mini-primer.  It’s the story updated, with Megan’s signature groundhogs as protagonists, full of clever wordplay and jazzed up with a twist ending.
The old soldier in Twelve Dancing Princesses wonders if it’s his imagination that he’s been to a magical kingdom, but he finds he has in fact truly experienced magic. 
As listeners and temporary residents of Megan’s fairytale world, we find these stories and this CD both magical and as true as life itself.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Why I Carry Duct Tape in My Car

It was the quintessential good day / bad day.

I was minding my own business Wednesday morning, driving to gigs in Ashland, a very agreeable sort of drive when accompanied by a tasty audiobook.  Well, agreeable barring the fact I had to load myself into my car and be gone from bed and home by 5:00 a.m.

And then, an hour into the two hour trip, just before the sun started nudging the dark away, bad news.  A ladder appeared on the highway, dodging back and forth across all the lanes in the most flippant sort of way.

Ah!  Potentilally good news.  For once I was NOT passing, and I was not bumper hugging.  I was safely in the right lane, back far enough to see the car ahead of me swerve away from the errant ladder.  Back far enough to see that the car probably nicked the ladder, because it leaped up behind that car and over into my lane.  I headed for the shoulder just as the ladder landed in front of me.

Bad news.  I hit it.  I expected to come to screeching halt with ladder stuck under my carriage.

Good news.  I didn't hit it head on, and my sweet car kept on trucking.

Bad news.  Shortly thereafter I heard clunkings and scratchings and whooshings.

I took the next exit (I had no intention of stopping in the dark on the highway with other cars whizzing by).  There I discovered the ladder had breakfasted on one of my lights, and several pieces of my bumper were flopping about, hugging my tire.

What to do, what to do.  I had bungie cords in my car, for tying storytelling prop bags onto my  rolling cart.  I used one to hook from the sturdy part of the bumper around the dangling parts, and it all pulled together quite splendidly away from the tire.

Back on the expressway, it took maybe 30 seconds before I heard all those naughty noises again.  Back off the expressway I discovered I was now missing one bungie cord.

What to do, what to do.  Ah.  I carry duct tape with my sound system!  One never knows when one will need duct tape!  And my duct tape was the perfect blue to match my sweet car.
Minutes later I was back on the road, and made it to my gigs early. 
And all four shows were fun.  And my wonderful librarian hostess procured an extra special luncheon.

Back home now, Travellers Insurance has already made a house call; next week my car will have a two day hospital visit.  And I have added duct tape onto my grocery list.  Blue, of course.  Not that I will EVER have to use it on my car again, you understand.  Just because I simply must have  an array of colors always available, because you never know when you'll need it in order to turn bad news into good news.

 And that is today's . . .

"Mischief! Adventures of a Daydreamy Child" review

Here's a new review of my CD "Mischief!" for those who haven't had a chance to hear if for themselves yet!  You might want to check out the web site run by Sean Buvala for storytellers...many other great articles on it

CD Review: Mischief: Adventures of a Daydreamy Child

By: K. Sean Buvala

We’re reviewing Lynn Ruehlmann’s CD: “Mischief: Adventures of a Daydreamy Child.”

From bringing down the house (really) to singing sacred music in the bathroom of the Chinese restaurant, young Lynn kept her parents and older sister busy with her wild imagination and imaginary playmate.

In this CD of personal tales, Lynn takes her listeners on a fun ride through childhood events remembered innocently and playfully. In each piece, she recreates the many players in a subtle shifting of voice, intonation and enunciation.

Lynn incorporates the tunes of folk musicians as she enters into each story. The music is fun to listen to and we are always glad to see collaborative projects between artists. Next time, rather than random folk music, we would suggest that the musicians reinterpret some old hymns into their bluegrass sound, should Lynn decide to share more of her “church kid” adventures.

The CD is professionally recorded and produced. While the title does feature the word “child” in it, we think these stories are best suited for adults and older teens that may be looking for “remember when you might have acted like this” nostalgia. We’re pretty sure you wouldn’t want to inspire any young children to use Lynn’s stories as a road map for their own adventures. Or perhaps you would- if you love mischief as Lynn does.

We received a complimentary copy of the recording for this review. Get your copy from CDBaby or

Author Information:
Name: K. Sean Buvala
The contents expressed in any article on are solely the opinion of author.