Category Archives: Uncategorized

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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Journey to Japan

mountain and pine night landscape with haiku

Well, I’ve been back from Japan for almost a month now, and I still can’t begin to describe this heart-expanding trip. Much as I had planned and anticipated the journey (see my last post, Eastward ho!), it was even better than I could have imagined. Over three weeks in June, my family and I explored serene Zen gardens and bustling city streets. We spent one day hiking the ancient Nakasendo trail between post towns, and another day hiking through ten thousand vermillion torii gates at a shrine Read more

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Eastward ho!

mountain meadow with poppies and lupine, haiku

At the Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Washington last fall, we started with a fun icebreaker: write down five items from your bucket list, then walk around the room and share with other participants. (For more about Seabeck, see The path unfolds.) After the exercise, my daughter Maya and I compared lists. I definitely don’t share her dream of working a stint as a bartender! But it turns out that we both had the exact same number one wish: to travel to Japan as a family. Meanwhile, Makino Studios Read more

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Happy Haiku Day!

Australian shepherd and haiku

April is National Poetry Month, and today, April 17, is Haiku Poetry Day! In celebration, here is a sampling of haiku and senryu I’ve published over the past year. And if you’d like to try your hand at this subtle art form, you might enjoy “The Discipline of Haiku” by poet Michael Dylan Welch.

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Remembering the Great East Japan Earthquake

marsh landscape with poem

I’m writing on the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan. It’s so hard to lose someone you love; multiply that grief by the nearly 16,000 people killed in the 2011 disaster, and the amount of suffering unleashed is overwhelming. In addition, more than 200,000 people are still displaced from their homes, and the Fukushima nuclear plant continues to dump radioactive water into the sea. And yet, we are such a resilient species. Japan is Read more

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New year, new chapter

pile of books with New Year greeting

If you knew you had one more year to live, what would you do differently? I sometimes ask myself this question—not out of morbid fixation, but as a simple way to clarify priorities and make sure I’m on track. Recently, I got a surprising answer: “Paint bigger.” A couple weeks ago, I got the chance to try this out. I was commissioned to make a painting on a 6’ x 4’ sheet of plywood to hang outdoors in Arcata’s revitalized Creamery District. After debating what to paint for awhile, Read more

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Light in the time of darkness

cat stalks mouse ornament

As you may have heard, the holidays are upon us. Amid the Christmas muzak and urgent appeals to buy mass-produced widgets, it’s easy to lose sight of the true spirit of the season. There is such pressure—to buy the perfect gifts, to cook lavish meals, to decorate the house festively, to have the most wonderful time ever.  toobusytostophamsterwheel (Prune Juice, July 2015) But I believe that behind all that, there is a simple urge. We are looking for meaning and connection with the people Read more

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Thanksgiving abundance

chili pepper wreath

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m thinking about the fact that we in the U.S. have a holiday that is completely devoted to gathering with our loved ones and giving thanks. Isn’t it cool that in deepest, darkest November, family and friends come together to share a feast that represents abundance? Covered in gravy, with a side of cranberry sauce. I’m grateful to be enjoying a less stressful holiday season than usual. For this month and next, I’ve consciously stepped back from some commitments Read more

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Portrait of the artist as an entrepreneur

dog swimming in river

Once upon a time, in Mrs. Miller’s 12th grade English Honors class, we each had to make a persuasive speech on a topic of our choice. Like most of the talks, mine was terribly earnest, about Nestlé pushing infant formula on breastfeeding mothers in poor countries. But when it was her turn, my friend Betsy walked to the front of the classroom smacking her chewing gum, and gave a hilarious speech in favor of gum, vigorously chewing all the while. A few decades later, she’s still fun, Read more

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The path unfolds

forest trail with haiku

Our daughter started college this fall. Before it happened, I couldn’t fully understand how much lies behind that simple statement—hope and excitement for your child’s future mixed with worry and sadness at their leaving. For weeks after we dropped Maya off, the smallest thing could bring me to tears, like measuring oatmeal for three instead of four. My husband, son and I all miss her effervescent spirit, affectionate nature and hilarious observations. She has left our home quieter, Read more

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