Archive for June, 2013

Debut “Partly Sunny with a Chance of Snow; a Pocketful of Showers”

June 23, 2013

I am very excited to announce the acceptance of the above titled manuscript of my newest chapbook by Finishing Line Press. I am in the process of trying to decide on cover artwork. Since the book is dedicated to my friend, the late photographer and penwoman, Yolanda Tooley, and is inscribed so, I may use the watercolor photoshopped picture of the puppy with the red sneakers posted earlier on this blog. It features her name in the title.
The collection is my most ambitious yet. It is 32 pages and includes poems that have appeared in Ireland through Elbow Lane Poems, Great Britain through indigodreamsonline as well as poems shared with other publications in the United States such as The Penwoman and They interact well together. It is definitely a book about women’s words, but also about life with all its watershed moments, that tells of rich stories to be found everywhere around us. Stories of love, loss, lust, magic, horror and intrigue the book takes us on a wild ride. The first poem pulls you in, as helpless as a fish on a hook, and the last line of the last poem shuts you down like a loud door. As ever, I often held hands with Nature to tell my tales because that is where my muse resides.
I am particularly happy to learn of the release of this book on the heels of the release of “The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods.”
This is my debut novel, YA novel, and the first in a trilogy. I have done three readings of the book so far from local to me Mohegan Manor Advance Release Reading, to the official release at Canastota Library where I read to a standing room only crowd, to a wonderful cozy nook of a bookstore back east, Eastline Books, Clifton Park, NY, owned by a woman. Let’s hear it for indie small business owners who are women. Support each other! There, too, I read to a full house and met to a person, folks I’ve known for years only on FaceBook. Very cool to meet younger and younger readers who also already at age 6 or 7 define themselves as writers as well.The cover art is in a competition. It has been picked up by the Neverending Roll Call Say What? Savannah Says by Savannah Mae. She is a book reviewer from Austin, Texas who will be featuring the book on her author pages as well as posting a review when she has read it. Next physical stop for the book performance is Oswego NY at The River’s Edge Bookstore. In October-November I will have a coordinated art exhibition hung at Westcott Art Gallery and plan to do a reading and book signing during that time.
In the meantime Book 2, Tales from the Edge of the Sea is about to undergo official editing. At the same time, Book 3 The Hedgerow is coming to life beneath my fingers. I will follow the magic wherever it leads me. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

In memory of the loss of another friend, Arthur Ramer

June 23, 2013


Grass Roots

     -for c. and a.

Rachael Ikins


Like the grass

in spring those firm

young spears

kids come through our blue screened door

for sushi, for home-away-from-home.

The folks—family to family

at graduation; a torch lit good-bye.

Generations of names of faces

markered on  kitchen walls–

one year, three years, ten

their temporary roots dig deep into

our heart’s soil.


Later like grasses’ seed  they scatter

send letters scrawled on paper bag sides

or postcards scribbled en route

to New Zealand, Israel and Norway—

their stories flower like bright dandelion

color in the middle of the greenest field…  tears

of abuse, a partner dying; weddings and hang-overs shared.


The grass? Fat heavy heads droop with sun-lust late

summer like the dangled earrings our sushi chef

wears—our turbaned Tzarina who presides over the front line.

Her black-garbed painter rules their stove, his harmonica

and her heart.  Shoe-boxes, snap-shots, a time in each history

sewn like seed. Brown grasses dry whisper to themselves.

Weight of winter snow presses all to sleep, the world flat again. Waiting for spring, we remember those children. We cry.




I held my first ever poetry reading at Arthur and Candi’s Sushi Blues & BBQs restaurant next door to Whole Foods in Hamiltonin 2006 or 7 before I’d even published a chapbook. Eventually, I moderated an open mic poetry night there which grew to feature a guest poet as well. People came from all over, poets desperate, as we so often are, for a place to do our poetry.  I also was given huge support by both of them for my budding art expression and what became an integral part of my career. I hung several one woman art exhibitions of my photography at the restaurant. They owned some of my originals as permanent parts of their walls. Candi urged me to try ACEO s and when I graduated from photos to pen and ink I was pleasantly surprised to start selling them on eBay.  Arthur was a frequent advisor and critiquer of my artowrk. Some of his advice stays with me every time I draw. For example, “Rache, you don’t have to put in all the spots on the leopard cubs. Our brains are wired so that you only need to put a few and let the viewer’s brain fill in the rest.” Several occasions come to mind when I was scribbling away, and Arthur loomed behind my chair to announce dramatically, “Put the pen down.” With drawing, as with poetry, one can fiddle it into obscurity. 

So with saddened heart I post this. For anyone of their friends who reads this and does not yet know of his death, he died in a car accident. Please do send Candi a note. They had moved to Nashville. She is there, I believe. Just message her some warm thoughts on FB if the spirit moves. There is no way that being left behind ever feels good.  

Welcome to our blogsite!! NSAG!

June 16, 2013


so this should be the very first post of our offical blog for North Syracuse ART guild. check it out

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June 14, 2013

Wonderful new blogger joins our ranks! Welcome porcelaindollblogdotcom. Check out her cool entries and pass em on!


My Way
Tell me no and I’ll say yes.
I am no different from the rest.
Busy life. Hell, I’m NOT done!
Odious malady, you ain’t won.


Bonjour velcro, shoelace adieu
Elastic, lycra, bienvenue
Strong teeth, one hand, I do just fine
At least clenched thighs help open wine!


Gone is, “why me”? Loud sobs of storm
Because my path veered from the norm.
With stellar friends to catch my fall
Cruising, blessed, I have it all.

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“Yolanda and the Dancin’ Shoes: Steppin’ Out!” starring Sassie by Rachael Ikins

June 3, 2013

sassie and red sneakers watercolor

June 3, 2013
The Spicy JOurney of Life with Two Dachshunds"

The Spicy JOurney of Life with Two Dachshunds”

“Would You Like Mustard with that Hotdog?; a Sometimes Spicy Journey with Dachshunds

June 3, 2013

Meditation Pre-summer 2013



“Would You Like Mustard with that Hotdog?; a Sometimes Spicy Journey with Dachshunds”



I am lucky enough to live with two dachshunds, an elder of sixteen years this month, and a two year old who celebrated her birthday last May. People always get a laugh out of the name of my old boy, “Low-rider” but that is certainly what he is. That song, “….low…ride…DUH!’


Recently, I read an article about the fact that dachshunds are strong-willed. Yes, it is true. When we first hit the back yard, each goes to his or her longest extension of their leashes to pee as far away from each other as possible. Personal statements I suppose, it kills my shoulders.


The breed was modified to hunt badgers. I don’t know how many readers have seen an adult badger. We had one in the zoo in Syracuse for awhile. One day as I was strolling past, he or she popped out of his burrow and sat up on hind legs to survey the world. I was amazed that a little long-waisted dog would be inclined to enter a den and fight a creature this large and well equipped for self-defense.


No doubt about it, they are very brave. I see this many nights when we go out for the last time, in the dark. Often people cut through our property on their way to the shopping plaza. Saturday night as we headed back to our door, a man in a big white tee-shirt appeared out of the black and raised his arms like a ”monster” and shouted “Boo!”  Of course, that shocked me,

but for once I did not feel inclined to ask the dogs for silence. In response to their fierce barks, he headed away up the bank, gave us a wide, laughing berth.Recently I read another interesting canine fact. Dogs don’t intuit what it is we want. Hence, when Low-rider plants his stubby legs and leans back against the leash and gives me “the look” aka “I SAID I want to sniff HERE!” while I want to keep going, I have to make eye contact and tell him “Let’s go!” He is deaf and has cataracts. Communication is a challenge. Dogs depend a lot on eye contact for passing information.


 My other dachs, Sassafras-T, Sassie for short, is a total girl. Her behavior is reminiscent of my late Labrador retriever Annie’s.  Annie used to own everyone’s toys. Back then I thought it was neurotic collecting behavior or at least a retriever behavior. Now I wonder if it is a female thing.


All my dogs and cats have always been neutered. However, Sassie will pop her head up from her place on the bed, suddenly jump off and race out of the room with clear intention. Shortly, she returns with a treasured toy in her mouth. How many times have I watched her carefully sort through her toy basket and then carry a selected group of objects from one place to another? She especially likes small stuffed animals minus stuffing. I suspect she is moving her puppies. Conscientious, frequent moves are a part of her daily life. Someone once said that dogs do not have object permanence in their brains. Not true of dachshunds!


To work off anxiety, stress, or simply to relax before bed, she always chews on one certain chew bone or other. Doggy yoga. After about ten minutes, or as long as I read to get sleepy, she, too, nods off.


When I was ill last winter with the stomach virus, taking the dogs three flights down and lingering in the snow just was not an option. My brother came over and helped. At some point he wondered aloud if I couldn’t figure out a place for them to go in the apartment in emergencies such as this.


Sassie and Low-rider were both crate-trained as babies. Once we moved, it wasn’t long before Sassie explained what she thought of the crate by entering it to poop, rather than soil the carpet. Since then, she sleeps in bed, usually near my head.


  One day while moving stuff from home to studio, I pulled out the crate

tray.  Bought some of those training pads for puppies at Walmart.  Accidents are few and far between, but they have happened. I placed the tray with pad over the spot I ‘d cleaned up. After two days of ignoring it, Sassie used it and then rolled the poop up in the pad with her nose in the middle of the night. Success! A back-up plan in time of crisis. The tray stays next to the front door. When she has had an accident it was as close to the door, or outside, as possible.


She came into my life under circumstances I did not control. I was simply relieved to have a new dog, having been told  many times that we would be without pets as soon as they all died. A depressing notion to someone, me who had been born into a family with cats and dog.


Life is mysterious and has moments of true magic.  Because Sassie came from where she did, and because I took her with me when I moved out of my marriage—threats to put her in the shelter ringing in my ears, I met someone who is a film maker. In his spare time, among other things, he boards dogs in his home. He and Low-rider really bonded. Until I was single I had never been able to talk about my work or his, with him when dropping off or picking up the dogs. He ended up making the film trailer for my debut novel “The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods.”


After a phone call which included the topic of artists helping each other in this world of diminishing grants monies and gallery closings, he offered to use my book as a prop in a series of commercials he is shooting. Of course, I said “Yes!” He planned to zoom in on a nice tight shot of the cover art.

Yesterday, I picked up the book I’d lent him and the DVDs. I thought to ask


what product or company was the commercial about. He replied that the owner of the pet store where my ex. had purchased Sassie, had bought a chunk of air time. The commercials include a grandparent and grandchild. The elder is reading from TCTEW to the younger. A good match, then, “The Complete Tales…” with its cast of  caring, magical animal characters and people who love their animal family members.


While circumstances back then, when Sassie came into my life were dark, if we had not become family, “The Complete Tales from the Edge of the Woods” would not be coming to the world of television.  As much as I dislike this expression, in this case, I truly believe it: Sassie and me, meant to be.