Tag Archives: landscape

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Responses

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Responses

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Responses

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Responses

One brushstroke at a time

painting of beach scene with haiku

When I first tried sumi ink painting five years ago, I struggled. There was frustration. There was angst. In this ancient medium, you grind an ink stick made of pine soot and glue in an ink stone with a few drops of water, then paint with bamboo brushes on rice paper. Sounds simple enough, right? But in practice, there are many ways to go wrong—and I excelled at all of them. I ground the ink too thin and it dried sad and gray on the paper; I ground it too thick and my strokes ran out Read more

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Responses

Before we were tamed

painting of red fox

For the past twenty years, my family and I have lived in the country on the side of a redwood-covered hill. In the morning the woods fill with bird conversations, and we often glimpse deer and foxes wandering past our house. A raccoon that hung around our compost pile got nicknamed Deke, short for “decomposition.” But when “he” showed up one day trailing four fluffy baby raccoons, we had to rename her Delilah. Because we don’t have the heart to chase them off, Delilah and her grown Read more

Posted in Uncategorized | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment