My first name is Erika. Not Erica. Not Ericka. My last name is Hammerschmidt, which has thirteen letters, including five consonants in a row. People still find it easier to spell than my first name.

In college I majored in German and Spanish. I also accidentally minored in art, just by taking so many art classes for the fun of it. I grow my own vegetables. I cut my own hair, but even when a professional barber cuts it, it still sticks out on one side and in on the other. I’m an author, artist and speaker living in Minnesota. I work at Target as well as giving speeches on autism and writing books. I am married to a space alien named John Ricker, who, like me, is on the autism spectrum.

Below you will find my latest news. Add me to your bookmarks! I’m always up to something.

Also, check our calendar for upcoming events!

Sirius the starling has a cone

This bird will make my hair gray.

He’s been scratching at a spot on his face for a long time, so much that the feathers fell out… and now he’s scratched so much it started to bleed. A lot.

I’ve put some DMSO anesthetic on the scratch, hoping it will reduce his desire to pick at it, and we improvised a cone out of paper and gauze. He’s frustrated that he can’t preen, but so far it seems to have stopped the bleeding.

Keep us in your thoughts. Thank goodness this at least happened on a Friday night, so we have the weekend to deal with it…

Kea’s Landing!

Anyone want to proofread the sequel to Kea’s Flight?

Yup, I’ve got a sequel to this book written:

Kea’s Flight

The sequel is called Kea’s Landing, and I think it can be understood without reading the first book. In fact, I want it to be, and I’d like at least one proofreader who hasn’t read the first one, to make sure it can.

(It’s over 700 pages, just warning you.)

If you help out, I’ll credit you on the dedication page!

I’ll just send you a PDF and you can send me your comments on whatever you want, or nothing, if you can’t find anything to say– no obligations.

Here’s the summary:

The coup is over. The Board has been overthrown, and Kea has inherited the office of Optimizer.

Together with Draz and Monarch, she now commands the colony starship that has always been her home. Young, socially challenged and inexperienced with power, she struggles with her fear of making the same mistakes as the dictatorial regime that came before her. 

Meanwhile, she’s investigating a mystery. She and Draz have found a hidden folder of journal entries from an enigmatic young writer named Mara, who has created a secret world of friendships and fairy tales, stirring Kea’s empathy and challenging her views about disability and gender.

But nothing prepares Kea and her crew for what they will discover on the planet where they finally land to build their new city. 

Without warning, they find themselves in a world that’s both human and alien, caught in an otherworldly conflict involving genetic weapons, extreme body modifications, cloned spies, language barriers… and even parrots.

Through it all, Mara’s journal gets even more mysterious. Is Kea reading the last words of just another casualty from the previous regime? Or will Mara’s story turn out to be interwoven with space colony diplomacy, high-tech espionage, the secret past of Kea’s enemies and allies, and the future of her newly founded home?

Dome homes

OK, here it is. For the last 3 years or so I haven’t been able to shut up about Monolithic Dome Homes, and people have been getting tired of hearing me go on about them over and over again, so here is my masterpost about WHY MONOLITHIC DOME HOMES ARE AWESOME.

(From what I can tell, anyway. I have not yet gotten the chance to live in one, but I AM GOING TO as soon as I can afford it, and I want enough people to know about them so the company will still be in business by that time.)

First. They are homes shaped like domes.






But they don’t have to look boring…

out1 out2 out3 out4 out5  out7

That one, in Pensacola, survived a hurricane:




Because dome homes are INCREDIBLY durable.

This is one in Iraq, where a freaking BOMB dropped in through the roof, EXPLODED inside the dome, and the dome is STILL STANDING.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFPN) -- A member (bottom right) of the Combined Weapons Effectiveness Assessment Team assesses the impact point of a precision-guided 5,000-pound bomb through the dome of one of Saddam Hussein's key regime buildings here. The impact point is one of up to 500 the team will assess in coming weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Best)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AFPN) — A member (bottom right) of the Combined Weapons Effectiveness Assessment Team assesses the impact point of a precision-guided 5,000-pound bomb through the dome of one of Saddam Hussein’s key regime buildings here. The impact point is one of up to 500 the team will assess in coming weeks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Michael Best)

They are literally monolithic— all one piece, made of extra-strong concrete reinforced with steel.

They are made by spraying shotcrete over an inflated balloon, laying a grid of steel, then spraying some more.

made made2


THERE ARE NO HOLES. No weak spots. Aside from windows, doors, and connections to sewers and electricity, and vents for air, there is not a single place they can leak.

No walls getting eaten by raccoons. No fire damage. No dripping ceilings. Practically no home maintenance. All one piece. And ridiculously energy-efficient too!





And yes, they’re also available as adorable teeny cabins, small enough to transport on a truck.



Unlike the full-size dome homes, the cabins are not officially rated as tornado-proof, but they will stand up to a lot more dangerous weather than any other tiny house.

And while a 1000-square-foot Dome Home runs about $130,000 to build fully finished, the cabins are under $35,000.

(They all SHOULD be cheaper, considering how easy they are to build, but, economies of scale, bla bla bla. Which is why I want more people to get interested in the dang things!)

There are an endless number of possible floorplans for the interior.



large_dl-3222 large_dl-3603

And speaking of the interior:

in1 in2 in3 in4 in5

And guess what! They are some of the best structures to use for the base of hobbit houses in hillsides!

 hobbit1 hobbit2  hobbit5

Imagine it. Imagine having a house that never leaks, barely requires maintenance, gets 50% better energy-efficiency than anything else, and stands up to FREAKING TORNADOES and HURRICANES.

And looks like an AWESOME BUBBLE!


I know it’ll be a long road. They look awesome and they’re environmentally friendly, and city governments LOVE to outlaw and tear down anything that fits those descriptions, so for the moment, it’s very hard to get away with building them inside a city.

But just think about how much money and effort and time and stress is wasted every year on freaking home maintenance, and freaking energy bills, and how much of that we could just freaking STOP with these bubbly miracle houses, if they just got popular enough to be accepted, and…

I’m going on and on again. Sorry.

Good night.


Just got back from Wiscon 40, my first-ever time attending Wiscon… it was amazingly great! I had a dealer table and art show table, and I sold soooo much jewelry, and met so many amazing people and had so many great conversations! I am definitely going back next year!!

In addition to being a very successful dealer-room event, it was also a great vacation. I went with John and Alex, and we drove through a lot of fun areas before getting there. Here is a scene from a rest stop on the way, where a robin had (for some reason) built a nest on the ground in a corner.


Here we are on the first night, which we spent at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells on the way to Madison. This is such a fun place! Great waterpark! And they unexpectedly upgraded our room to a suite, which was a nice surprise.




Here’s a view in Mirror Lake State Park, on the way from the Dells to Madison.



And here is my Wiscon table! Thanks to everyone who came and made Wiscon so great this year!


Art Events Come in Threes


Once again, I have THREE (3) big crafty events coming up! One in April, two in May!

These are events where I will be selling my jewelry, books and other creative stuff. I am so excited!

1. Minnehaha Free Space Craft Fair and Bake Sale

Sun, Apr 3
12 pm to 6 pm
Minnehaha Free Space
3747 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406

2. MSP Comicon (formerly known as Springcon)

Sat and Sun, May 14 & 15
10am-6pm Sat 10am-5pm Sun
MN State Fairgrounds Grandstand
1265 Snelling Ave, St Paul, MN 55108

and finally–

(I’ll have a dealer room table AND some pieces in the art show!)

May 27-30
Dealers’ Room follows standard hours every year:
Friday 2 – 6 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Monday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Concourse Hotel
1 W Dayton St, Madison, WI 53703

Here is a taste of what I’ll be selling!












Sirius the starling’s weird molt

Sirius the starling has shed a bunch of feathers on the side of his beak… they started to grow in again, but then they were gone. The other side of his beak hasn’t done it.

I’m not sure if this is a normal part of the spring molt or not. He hasn’t done the full spring change, any of the years since we got him (his beak has never turned yellow) but something is different this year.




Art in a local pizza shop!

John recently made friends with the owners of Andrea Pizza, which just opened a new branch in Dinkytown, near where he goes to school. (Seriously, this is a great pizza place! GIANT pizzas for very good prices, with tasty sauce and a crust that is chewy and satisfying in just the right way. Go to http://www.andreampls.com/locations and check it out if you’re in the area.)

They needed art for their walls, so John and I donated a bunch of our paintings and photos! Here are some pics of what’s up so far (once they get more hooks they’ll hang the rest).

We’re thinking of making a habit of creating art to donate to restaurants. We’ve got a lot of canvases and paint that we haven’t used yet, and painting is fun, and sharing our art with local businesses can only be good publicity.

If you know a restaurant or other business that needs art on the walls, let us know! It may be a while before we have anything new to donate, but we will eventually.

All we ask is that they keep our pictures up for customers to see, give customers our contact info if they ask about the art, and, if the restaurant closes or they can’t keep the art for some reason, donate it to some other business that could benefit from it.

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2016-02-18 (2)



TWO upcoming holiday craft fairs!

For those in the Twin Cities area who are looking for fun and eclectic local places to do holiday shopping… you may want to stop by my next two craft fairs!

Ring Elf earring Necklace

I’ll have a table with jewelry, books and trinkets at two local events this winter:



    The Minnehaha Free Space December Craft Fair

3747 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406

Sunday, December 13 at 1:00pm – 6:00pm

Website calendar

Facebook page



    The Vine Arts Center Holiday Sale

2637 27th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55406
December 5 + 6, 2015
Saturday 11am – 5pm
Sunday 12 – 5pm

Home page

Facebook page



Sirius’s new snack

Hey, remember when I posted about buying bugs from Arbico Organics?

Well, they found that post, and liked it so much they sent me some more treats for Sirius, to say thank you! Another bag of dried flies, and a little canister of dried fly pupae (“Cocoon Capers”) which he was delighted to try!

Look at him eat those little things. He’s adorable and soooo happy.

I can only reiterate: Arbico Organics is a great company!