Author Archives: Annette Makino

In times of trouble

tracks through grass with tree shadows, plus haiku

The news has been so tough these past few weeks. Wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes. Reckless taunts between nuclear-armed leaders. And Monday in Las Vegas, one of the worst mass shootings in US history. aftermath a pair of cowboy boots lying on their side In such dark times, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And just as easy to go numb. Facing an unending stream of suffering and horror, how do we maintain our humanity without losing our minds? There are no easy answers for Read more

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The seeds of inspiration

small hiker in old growth redwood forest

People often ask me where I get my inspiration. I tell them that for writing haiku, it could be literally anything I experience. For instance, getting out of jury duty and going from the courthouse to the beach: sprung  from jury duty the wind in my hair But for paintings, 90% of my ideas come from one place: nature. Whether hiking through sand dunes or exploring Arcata’s marsh and bird sanctuary, I find that spending time out in nature is a wellspring of creative ideas. My family Read more

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A life well-lived

painting of tomatoes on the vine with haiku

My pioneering great-aunt, Helli Stehle, died in Basel, Switzerland this past Sunday at age 109. As I described in “A trail-blazing woman” last November, she was a well-known stage actor who then became Switzerland’s first female newscaster, serving as a mentor and role model to many younger journalists. She was a spirited, smart and funny woman, generous and deeply loyal to her extended family. We miss her already. But what a full life she got to lead! The end of her reign as Read more

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The other end of the paintbrush

river landscape with haiku

Humboldt County is famous for two things: its magical old-growth redwood forests and perhaps equally magical marijuana. But there is a lesser-known feature that makes this area unique: it has more working artists per capita than any other part of California. Each year in June, some 150 Humboldt artists open their studio doors to the public as part of North Coast Open Studios. Earlier this month, it was my pleasure to be part of the “Seven in Samoa” group that hosted visitors the first Read more

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Celebrating Haiku Poetry Day

cow in pasture with haiku

Popping up in the middle of National Poetry Month, today is International Haiku Poetry Day. To mark the occasion, here is a smorgasbord of haiku I’ve published this past year. Enjoy! gentle rain I remind my mother to buckle up tendrils of fog I follow a thread back into the dream understory no punctuation in her text message beach vacation every night between the sheets a little more sand sunlit pond the cattails chirping thin ice the windshield crack lengthens Indian Read more

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Resistance is fertile

painting of daffodils with haiku

It seems like an eon ago when I last wrote, in the final days of the Obama presidency. I was anxious about putting my political opinions out in this forum, not knowing how many others shared my views about the dark turn our democracy has taken. I needn’t have worried. Aside from four unsubscribes, the response I got was overwhelmingly positive. And nationwide, starting with the Women’s Marches that drew a remarkable 1% of the US population to the streets, the resistance to the Trump agenda Read more

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Light in a time of darkness

painting of waterfall with haiku

For years, I’ve been content to live a quiet life in the woods with my family—writing, painting, soaking in the hot tub and going for long walks on the beach. In retrospect, because it seemed that the country was basically going in the right direction, I took our beautiful, messy, multicultural democracy for granted. November’s election results were a shocking illustration that our democratic system is much more fragile than we realized. To many of us, the worst of it was not the denial Read more

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A trail-blazing woman

owl on branch with greeting

Today I mailed this “wise owl” card to my great-aunt for her 109th birthday. No, that is not a typo. Helene “Helli” Stehle was born to a butcher and his wife on December 6, 1907, in Basel, Switzerland. But longevity is by no means the most remarkable thing about Helli. This pioneering woman first achieved fame in Switzerland as a stage actor playing strong characters. She has always been a vibrant, strong-willed woman with a great zest for life, so I can imagine how riveting her performances Read more

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Election Edition

painting of forest trail with haiku

Apparently there is some sort of election coming up. Lately I’ve been grinding my teeth at night and, although this could be one of Hillary Clinton’s secret conspiracies, I prefer to blame it on Donald Trump. campaign sign the dog registers his opinion Last weekend I attended the wonderful Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Washington State. Sprinkled among the presentations and activities, there were several “Write Now” sessions in which we had five minutes to draft haiku on a particular Read more

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Exploring art in old Japan

maple leaves in fall with haiku

Besides a grand family adventure, my trip to Japan earlier this summer (see Journey to Japan) was also an exploration of Japanese art and haiku—and a chance to stock up on hard-to-find art supplies. A major highlight of the trip was a visit to a famous art supply store in Kyoto, founded by a painter in 1863 and still run by his descendants. At the one-room Saiun-do (“Painted Clouds”), I found the fine brushes, made of weasel hair and bamboo, for which I had spent years searching. I also Read more

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