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Don’t get me wrong. I love living in Scotland, but just look at our faces. We are looking passionately past our kilts, past our swords, daggers, shields. We are looking home. Home to a decent Burger.

The Scots have invented a lot of what America takes for granted (tires, TV, computers, telephones, the notion of History & Geography, pavement, golf, the adhesive stamp, bicycle pedals, fountain pens, lawnmowers, matches, car insurance, the decimal point, chloroform, the United States Navy, wire rope, radar, raincoats, hypnosis and cornstarch, to name but a few) but the burger has eluded them.

I had a burger last summer in Vermont (pictured on the right) that was everything a Scottish burger is NOT. The beef did not contain oatmeal. It did not have unidentifiable spices in it. It was not called ‘mince’ which is how they make hamburger meat here…by mincing things I think American’s reserve for hotdog production only. It was cooked rare rather than for six days (could they possibly be cooking them, freezing them, recooking them by boiling them, then serving them??). I was also allowed to add things to my burger, limited only by my imagination, other than just a dried out ‘bap’ which is not a bun but something else which I don’t fully understand.

My family no longer orders burgers in restaurants here. We’ve learned. Even in a restaurant famous for their American burgers, we’ll all order salmon or haggis.  Making them at home is a no-go as well, due to the nasty ‘mince’ issue. So, we just long. Long for far away shores where our desires for bacon cheese burgers with sides of mayo are fulfilled.


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Yes, Please!

There is a lot to be said for saying yes to everything. As we travel around the USA visiting family (so far we have seen 46 members of our gorgeous, large and loving folk) and friends, we’ve just been saying yes to as much as we possibly can. What a delight to relax our normal bedtimes, eating habits, sleeping patterns, and ideas about what we think we should be doing. We’re happy as clams!

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The other day I was telling a friend of my mother’s about my new iBook for the iPad. A dark, dark look rolled up on her face. The head began to slowly shake. The corners of her mouth drooped; she was going to give me the ‘death of the book’ talk.

It’s not like I had just said, “Have you heard? Storytelling is dead. Yep, that’s right…there are no more stories being told. We don’t need them anymore. We don’t want to hear any and we don’t want to tell any.”

The Story is alive and well. If anything, there are more stories being told now than ever before. But there is much talk and fear traveling around that if our children do not look at books made out of paper, they shall be losing precious lessons, precious sensations, emotions, tactile experiences, good old fashioned meaningful fun. Do people really think that to get the most from a story it needs to be on bound sheets of tree pulp?

As a mother, I’m a strong believer that fear is more detrimental than just about anything. If you are afraid of what the shift away from stories on paper to new mediums will do to your children, take a deep breath and just sit down and do some lego with them, or play tea party. Or, tell them a story about when you were little. Or ask them to make up a story about three socks who set out to learn how to make blueberry pie. Then, when you are refreshed, remind yourself that some paper books are awful, some apps are awful and some ebooks are awful. But you can choose what you like from so much fantastic stuff out there and if you share it with your children with love and excitement, everything will be just fine.

Things are changing and it’s ok. We still yearn to connect, to hear from our elders, to make people laugh, to give and receive advice. There’s no need to panic. Plus, panicing makes kids kind of edgy.

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It’s certainly been a VERY long time since my last post…

I started this blog because I wanted to write a memoir about my working life and I wanted the pressure of having told everyone I was going to do it. I was also feeling that I needed to spark something into happening. I’ve realized that if I’m involved in a creative endeavour, it tends to unleash a creative tidal wave. This is what I live for.

Lo! I soon became so busy with projects that I had to put my memoir on the back burner (you can read an excerpt of the memoir in the on-line literary magazine, Algebra, entitled “Pounding The Pavements.”) http://tramwayalgebra.com/issue2.html

Anyway, since my last post, Luciana Frigerio and I created the animated series “Quiet Is…” for Disney Jr. (airing nightly in the USA at 8:25pm…more about this on my website).

Then I hooked up with the uber-cool iBook publisher Twistframe to make my first iBook for children, “The Color Closet.”

This little gem was released a couple of weeks ago and it is so much fun I can’t stand it! There it is, on iTunes, ready for your iPad and some small fingers to start getting VERY happy. Check it out:

For iTunes US:


 For iTunes UK:


A week ago, I was invited by The Apple Store, in Glasgow, to come and talk to the pupils from Chryston Primary School about writing books, making art and to show them The Color Closet and let them goof around with it. It was a total blast!

Twistframe and I are planning more books, Luciana and I are knee-deep in a project that is currently making us so excited it’s hard to stay seated and I’m embracing the digital age and social media with an open heart and faith that an old dog can learn new tricks.

So, I’ve found myself in the delicious place that I love so much: a million ideas and million ways to express them. Just letting that tidal wave wash over me…. 

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I started this blog by inventing a benevolent horse for myself. This horse is called, “I Am Going to Write 500 Words a Day on a Memoir about My Working Life.” Let’s just call her ‘500 Words a Day.’ I have another horse in my barn called “I’m Not Going to Spend More Money than I Have.” She’s a beauty. Haven’t ridden her in a while but she’s there, a non-judgemental mare, waiting, waiting.

 I have to have these horses in my life. If there were no horse, there would be no way to get back on. And I love getting back on a horse. You’re up and you’re off, no explanations necessary.  So I did a cool 500 this morning and it felt fantastic. Simple as that.

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Well, I’m tired.

 I think the thing about waking up early to work is that you have to be asleep first, and then wake up.

 I worked last night until one am, fell asleep, dreamt (another kind of job for me but I’ll not even go into that), was woken up by a youngster who couldn’t face the journey to the bathroom through a dark house and needed a guide (5am). I tried to facilitate this with my eyes remaining shut because I thought if I did this, it would improve my chances of going immediately back to sleep.

 First of all, that’s a bad idea. The Lego minefield alone has to be gingerly navigated, not to mention all that furniture made out of wood scattered around, and you need your eyes for this. Even in the pitch dark you have a better chance than if you go into it totally blind.

 Anyway, I couldn’t get back to sleep. My mind did that thing; all of you have been there. It’s that weird brand of thinking that belongs nowhere. Its not good enough material to ever speak of and yet it is somehow so riveting to your sad, tired mind that you can’t stop producing these thoughts.

 The other problem with waking up early to work is that you’ve just added more work to your day. How much can a person work, after all?

 This is a big question for me to ask. Maybe this is crux of it all for me. The Question.

 I am the Queen of Working. I love working. I live to work. I love other workers, I love productivity, I love objects that are made by workers. I love talking about work, worrying about work, finding myself in my work. Some people walk in their sleep, I work in my sleep.  “Don’t wake her up, she’s sleep working!”

 I have to stop writing because I’ve got to work but I’m going to ponder this question. It would be good to come up with some theories. Since my book is essentially about how a person becomes themselves through their work, how work shapes you, and how a person strives to turn their ‘day job’ into their life’s work, I better ponder good.

 God, what gobble-de-gook! I am however, very tired. Like that’s an excuse.

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Fourteen thousand, three hundred and seventy six words. That’s 34 pages. That’s a stack that a paper clip can no longer keep contained. Thirty four pages bumps you up into industrial size clip territory.

 But I have to stop briefly here, at 34 pages. I’m trying very hard to get something accomplished in my day job that requires around the clock work (sleeping is so yesterday) and all the mental flexibility, fluidity and cunning I can muster. So I’m going to resume my 500 words once my work resumes the regular status of just normal crazy busy as opposed to this kind of emergency status where I’m so busy that it almost feels like it loops back in on itself and I’m actually moving in slow motion. I’ve got a deadline of November 2nd, then I’m out of town until the 9th so when I get back, I’m going to start again.

 I do have one trick up my sleeve that I guess I could try. I never did manage to wake up earlier, even though I said I was going to do this. I could try getting up at six and writing until seven thirty. My good friend Carmen tells me that it’s a magical time to be lurking about the house, and an ideal time to write. So I could give this one more shot. Perhaps it will have the effect of grounding me for the day’s madness ahead. Or it could just make me really tired. I’m going to find out.

 Better hit the sack.

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Can’t buy me love

Yesterday I went to London for a meeting and had to go to Knightsbridge. This, for my American friends, is the section of town which holds most of the serious money. Dior and Chanel. Exorbitant real estate prices, Harrods, embassies, aristocrats & royalty. Its little sister, nestled within it, Belgravia, has an even more concentration of extraordinary wealth. Saudi Princesses parade about, sheets of black silk billow about them, black Bentleys silently cruising behind. Men with ear pieces trail the beautiful as they shop. Restaurants don’t have names. These are the Uber Rich.

 So I’m bopping along, on my way to the meeting and I’m struck by this sight. People look morose. Morose is a great word and in this case, it’s exactly what I mean. Webster’s says: hard to please, exacting. having a sullen disposition: GLOOMY. (their caps, not mine). I think, ooh, that guy’s having a bad day. Hhhmm…she must have a wicked case of hemorhoids. Wow, that teenager looks comatose with, what is that? Boredom? What’s going on here? Why does EVERYONE look so sour?

 If you were doing an advertisement for what money can do for you, you’d have to stay clear from this place. The shops are so exclusive but everyone inside looks miserable. No body seems to be having any fun. You’d think they’d all be skipping from one shop to the next, whistling, holding doors open for each other. All this exquisite luxury seems wasted on these morose, depressed, bored people. A woman, who refused to yield to me on the sidewalk (we played a kind of class chicken), hit me with her oversized Prada shopping bag as I tried to move. (I always move in the end. My excellent manners, the automatic default that I cannot seem to override, no matter what, are a product of my good upbringing). Even though she nudged me into a building, I said sorry. She looked at me with a kind of revulsion that seemed very easy for her to access. I’d have to imagine some pretty horrible stuff to get that look on my face, and still I don’t think I could produce it. It seemed to come from some boiling reservoir of hatred. Sheeesh! I’m the one overdrawn here!

 I had a great meeting and a great day, probably way greater than Pissed Prada Person, even though I’m not the owner of a new £683 blouse. My long train ride home to Scotland was thought provoking, as usual and (having discovered that the train has a ‘quiet car,’ my thoughts were allowed to roam far and wide, without being trespassed upon by people shouting into their cell phones) very relaxing.

 I thought about how lucky I am to spend my days doing the thing I love most, making stuff and being in the company of so many talented, interesting, funny, loving people. Uber Lucky.

 Now to write.

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The book I’m trying to write is about my working life. My first job was off the books. I was ten. I’ve been working every day since then. I’ve had so many different jobs that at some point it went from an alarming number, to a funny number. And when it became funny to me, I realized that I wanted to write about it.

As I pondered the structure of such a book, I regretted not keeping a journal. If I had only kept a journal for all those years, I’d have a record of exactly what those jobs entailed, how they made me feel, the exact dates! Then I stumbled upon an idea.

 Do you ever have the kind of thoughts that when you have them, you think to yourself: ‘If I were smarter, like French Philosopher Smart, this would be a really cool thought to try to express but because I’m not, there is no way I’m going to say this thought out loud’?

 Well, 35% of my thoughts fall into this category. I’m going to try to express a thought now. Wouldn’t it be cool to write a memoir about your working life and at the same time keep a written record of what it’s like to work on a book about working?

 See what I mean.

 I did my 500 words but it was really difficult. I’m feverishly busy at my day job, the kids are still on holiday, Bob’s left for London and I’ve lost control of the physical plant. I’d like to give up. People have suggested that I give up. That I concentrate on doing just one thing, not spread myself too thin. I think about giving up every day.

 But I’m not going to. I’ll never write a book if I don’t write one. And I’m not going to wait around until things change and it’s easier to write. I’m forty-eight years old and it may be easier to write just around the corner when I’m drooling in a nursing home but by then I’m not going to care about anything except creamed corn and chicken fried steak.

 Got to go make dinner.

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Ok, here’s something. The boys have another school holiday. Thursday is their last day and they don’t go back until the 18th of October. I’m going to lose my mind.  I’m not going to speak of it again, except to say that they just had a holiday a few weeks ago, remember? And let me just say this one last thing. the youngest one’s school, on top of the week long holiday, is closed the previous Friday so the teachers can have an in- service day to work on the new ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ that the government is implementing. How can there be a curriculum of anything if they’re never in school? Ok, that’s me. I’m not going to speak about this again.

 Well, I have NOT been doing my 500 words a day for some time now. I have NOT been keeping up with this blog thing, although I’m not sure exactly how often I’m supposed to write (probably no rules, eh?). I have actually been WORKING.

 Remember when I sent out my original call for readers, I said that I had no deadlines but had several long-shot type irons in the fire? Well, one of those things has gone from simmer to bigger simmer and has required my attention. This is a lovely turn of events because it means that the incredible Luciana Frigerio and I will be putting it into high gear together, taking our animation production company, Hold That Tiger out for a spin on the open road. (I love metaphors and sometimes wish that I could go on and on in metaphor, abandoning my original topic altogether). Mental note: try this sometime.

 Anyway, all this is to say that I’ve had to use every ounce of my time towards something that may, possibly, hopefully, make MONEY. Not that I think My Memoir won’t make revolting amounts of cash, but that’s a slightly longer shot than this gorgeous little long shot…..

 Back to work.

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