Tag Archives: landscape

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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