If repetition is a chant…well, so, I knew this guy a long time ago, he had some issues, it’s true. He had boxes and boxes of journals, he wrote nearly every day, for all the good it did. He would wave casually at the boxes and say, “pick any one, any date, any year, and I bet I can tell you what it says. They all say more or less the same thing.”
He laughed. So again, if repetition is the basis of chant, then this thing he did, is that a penchant?


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Dis and dat.

DIS is the stock symbol for Walt Disney Co. That’s Disney World to you and me. As in, “dis iz it,” but completely different.

When visiting DIS, you do not want to disobey, disrespect, or in any way disturb the Duck, the Mouse, the Girl with the Looking Glass, the Dog, the Pirate, the Princess, the Genie or the Wizard cuz there be dragons, if you know what I mean. Put some distance between you and those cats, srsly. I’ve seen things, is all I’m sayin.


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Sympathy for the Devil


It’s an old question. One of those all-revealing choices, this or that, two camps, two-paths-in-life kind of question and while I often find those more annoying than useful, this one has legs.

Cuz the Rolling Stones sang about sex, about death, about greed and addiction. The Rolling Stones wrote about the Devil, and to my mind, that puts them in a class by themselves. And to be honest, when I listen to the Rolling Stones now, they still make me feel edgy and alive in a way the Beatles never did.

But if you’d asked me back then, when it counted, I would have said: Beatles. Cuz back then things were already more edgy and alive than I could handle.


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I am: overcome

she spoke in a whisper, barely audible to the girl on the other end of the line. “come over.”

“you’re sure?”


“what about your parents.”

“they’re gone. it’s cool. come over.”

“ok.” the girl on the other end taps the red icon and hangs up. she’s scared but also thrilled. heads outside, hops on her bike and heads off. this time, she thinks. maybe this time. 


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That was then: crescendo

A long time ago when I was in my twenties, I played Beethoven’s Ninth over and over, window-shakingly loud, downstairs-neighbor-pounding-on-ceiling loud. I wanted the crescendo to block everything out, I wanted it to block everything out because the world seemed so overwhelming. I was just a kid, I desperately needed the strength of a Beethoven crescendo.


WP daily post: Crescendo

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WP Daily prompt: Finite

Daily prompt: Finite

It is true that there are finite resources. It is true that we live in a world of finite resources. It is true that we pretend otherwise.

Yesterday I moved with grace and fluidity. I felt as though I were made of water. I felt as though I were a being outside of this normal sphere. Grace and fluidity.

The sensation of watching one’s hands move through space while on acid. On LSD. You could see the air move with you, you could see the aura of your hands, your energy move fluidly. You could see things, beautiful things.

Water. A finite resource. I am a finite resource.

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I survived PiBoIdMo


That’s Picture Book Idea Month, fyi. And I survived it with exactly 30 ideas for books. Ideas are idea, of course, and don’t transform themselves into anything and anyway, right now I’m really gyrating between words and pictures, so much so that both are losing. But that’s another…ahem, story.

Anyway, I did it, and some of the ideas are pretty swell so overall, yeah, that worked for me, Thanks Tara Lazar and PiBoIdMo crew!



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Gouache? Really?

Well, gotta admit, gouache is a good word. And the constant second-guessing about the o and the u is pretty entertaining. But really? I just haven’t used it in a very long time.

Oops! I haven’t written in a while, hu?  Well, I’m back. At least for now. In the interim there were bike rides and gardens and many thousands more bees and workshops and writing and lots of studio time. All caught up? Good.

.The past week I’ve been trying to understand gouache, a medium I didn’t take seriously way back so why now? I heard a great talk the other day by the Kidlit author Laura McGee Kvasnosky about her work. Many things stayed with me but the one idea that is still bugging me? How she does her illustrations: Gouache. Then a layer of ink. Then wash that off, and voila brilliant illustration.

Well, it hasn’t quite worked out that way for me, but in the process I’m becoming so intrigued with the potential for this approach. The surface def matters, so I’m trying different things from toothy WC paper to flat plane clay surface (like!). Coming from watercolor and ink and collage and mixed media, this is very designy and graphicky but I like it somehow.  Okay, here are my two attempts today, more soon.

cat in a box013

cat in a box v2014

(full disclosure: I’m a staunch defender of wild birds and advocate for indoor cats.)

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Moving indoors

Well, what can I say? This summer in Seattle, brilliant sunny day after day after day, often left me recalling summer in my hometown in SoCal–get your outdoor work done early, chill in the shade later on.  Life in the garden. Or the beach. Or the park.  We even slept outside for a chunk of the season.

What I didn’t do, obviously, is write blog posts. I didn’t even read them, for the most part. In fact, it seemed I went pretty much offline for three months, and I gotta say: it was the summer to do precisely that. So now, like the bees, I’m moving indoors, starting to pick things up again where I left off…

Summer in the city

Summer in the city

The bees went through many stages over the summer, and the big thing I learned?just observe. I decided to not open the hive and inspect more than necessary since the combs were all straight and good. I’m treatment-free and really much more interested in the bees surviving naturally than I am in harvesting honey, so the task of beekeeping becomes decidedly simpler.  Observation at the entrances became my main source of information. If I were to give any advice to brand spanking new beekeepers, that would be it: observe. You’ll learn a lot.

I’m pretty sure they replaced their queen with one of their own choosing, for one thing. Perhaps it was a duel, perhaps a coup, I’ll never know, but two things happened in July: when I last opened the hive and inspected a few bars, I noticed a couple of queen cups, a LOT of drones and a paucity of new eggs. I was concerned, but on the other hand, I kept seeing worker bees coming in and out, life going on. If there were a problem, I have to assume there would be a disruption in the rhythm, right?  Then sometime later, I noticed darker bees showing up, lots of them. And lots of baby bees on their first flight, checking out the digs. Everything seemed healthy, and yet somehow different.

beautiful dark banding!

beautiful dark banding!

At this point in the year, the nights getting cooler, the mornings damp with rain and dew, I’m glad I haven’t opened the hive more than necessary. Winter is tough–it’s cold and around here it’s wet. Wet is a real challenge for bees, and while our winters may be mild compared to other areas, this dampness is a big deal. Bees do an awesome job of sealing their hive with propolis, a kind of natural caulk that they jam into every crevice, including around the top bars and openings. They bring the propolis from the resin of trees, and spend the summer making their home water-proof, if all goes well.

Early days--by now, the propolis is a thick, tough seal.

Early days–by now, the propolis is a thick, tough seal.

Every time the seal is disrupted, they have to rebuild and repair…more energy, more propolis, more stress. I suspect in the second year of this hive, provided they survive the winter, I will have to be a bit more invasive, especially in the spring, but for now I like the idea of sending them into their first winter on their own undisturbed terms.

Here we go into the next season!

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In praise of chaos, naturally: Marla Spivak and Kevin Cox

When you see a house with a wide bright green lawn, maybe a white picket fence, and some kind of roundish tree plopped down in the middle, you are seeing an elegant expression of managerial control.  Little upkeep, chemically enhanced, low maintenance.


I listened to a good podcast yesterday from The Barefoot Beekeeper, The decline of Birds and Bees, which was sort of depressing as these things are, but also intriguing because it’s clear we can each do quite a lot, and quite simply: don’t use pesticides and let a little chaos into your garden life.

The Barefooot Beekeeper and the speaker, Kevin Cox come to us from the UK where the once ubiquitous english hedgerows are disappearing, favoring easier to manage and maintain fences. Those hedgerows have thrived for hundreds of years, are deeply complex habitats and very effective at creating dense boundaries.  They are a simple thing, you might take them for granted, just like we might take marginal weed-and-and-wild infested areas for granted…until they’re gone. And then slowly we realize the role they play in complex, healthy environments. Hedgerows are in fact habitats for birds and pollinators of all kinds, beyond their immediate usefulness to the landowner.

“…the thing he finds most destructive to birds and pollinators across the board is our penchant for tidy.

Recently I’ve noticed more parks in the Seattle area allowing marginal spaces to grow unabated, with a nod towards diversity and complexity in the local flora and fauna. In my own half-acre, we allow the perimeters to grow dense and complex (much to our neighbors’ potential disapproval) because those marginal areas are busy corridors, nesting areas and feeding grounds.  It’s truly astonishing how this tiny eco-system has changed in the years we’ve lived here, based in large part on the dense complexity of those areas. The more complex those areas are, the better things work overall, I’ve noticed.

Kevin Cox said at the end of the talk that the thing he finds most destructive to birds and pollinators across the board is our penchant for “tidy.”  Tidy lawns and gardens, tidy roads and walkways, tidy, well-managed and care-efficient spaces all around.  Except nothing natural does well in what we call tidy.

Wednesday evening I attended a talk at Town Hall with Marla Spivak and Bob from Common Acre and there it was again: our penchant for tidy, for well-managed, for control was at the center of things going very wrong. Those hedgerows and uncut areas in parks all have a diversity of flowering plants and grasses that have a key role in the whole great chain of being.  Her main point suggestions for two things we can do today to help turn things around: grow a wide variety of common flowers, and don’t use pesticides.

“..two things we can do today to help turn things around: grow a wide variety of common flowers, and don’t use pesticides.”

Coming in for a landing on a blue bell

Coming in for a landing on a blue bell

I’m wondering if we can learn to see beauty in a less-tidy world?

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