field notes (2.1.18)

Reading: WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Rereading: ESSENTIALISM by Greg McKeown , RISING STRONG by Brene Brown and THE ELEMENT by Ken Robinson. These have become books that I read annually. They serve as such a lovely way to reset and reflect and then, move forward.

I released, i.e. stopped working on, a much-loved manuscript at the end of January. I spent more than four years researching, shaping, honing the manuscript and finally, finally, decided that it had too many fatal flaws to continue.  It was an emotional, yet freeing decision. The day after I decided to stop writing the manuscript, I felt free and right. I’ve spent the next weeks purposefully not diving into a new project. Instead, I’ve sat quietly, done intense journaling, examined all my old notebooks, journals, idea books, discarded manuscripts. And when my mind and hands got itchy to get started on a new project, I resisted. I mended pants, sewed pillow cases, knitted a cowl. I kept my hands busy so my soul could do its much-needed work. Resting, truly, deeply resting and reflecting is an act of rebellion in our culture. Each day that I’ve deeply rested has brought new insights.

My latest essay, DIFFERENT ADDRESS, SAME HEARTH will be published in Taproot magazine this month. I will share it when I get my magazine copy. I love this essay. I think you will, too.

“…a disposition to seek a shape for life from within himself and not in what he could wrest from others.” – from THE LEOPARD by Giuseppe de Lampedusa


field notes (1.1.18)

Happy New Year!

Reading: PICTURE THIS: HOW PICTURES WORK by Molly Bang, COMPOSITION by Arthur Wesley Dow, GIVE A GIRL A KNIFE by Amy Thielen, BY THE IOWA SEA by Joe Blair, THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO YOUR MICROSCOPE by Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone and THE LEOPARD by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampeduas


If you can believe in what you are and keep to your line – that is the most one can do with life.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

There is so much that the world offers me that I am not interested in.

Making books has always felt very connected to my bookselling experience, that of wanting to draw people’s attention to things that I liked, to shape things that I liked into new shapes.” – Jonathan Lethem, writer & former bookseller

paying attention (again) to envelope security patterns

trying to understand and control my new-to-me Nikon D810. I am learning a new language and I like it so much. This process is satisfying to my eyes, my mind, my hands.

set my core goals for 2018, then backed them out into my daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, yearly actions to make it happen

But a naturalist is someone who is a keen observer, and to do something original and true, you have to be an observer first.” Bernd Heinrich

Beware the bareness of a busy life.” – Socrates

field notes (12.1.17)

Reading: RISING STRONG by Brene Brown (again), ANNIE LIEBOVITZ AT WORK

Very happily sold a personal essay to one of my favorite magazines! To be published in January! Details to follow!

Gifted myself with weekly chiropractor appointment this holiday season. So amazing to take care of myself instead of running on empty at this time of year. Hope to make this an annual part of my winter celebrations.

I bloom indoors in the winter like a forced forsythia; I come in to come out. At night I read and write, and things that I have never understood become clear; I reap the harvest of the rest of the year’s planting.” – Annie Dillard in PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK

field notes (11.1.17)


There were two ways you could look at things. One way, you really saw nothing at all, because you looked at it as one whole things and just drifted away into it and forgot everything. The other way you took it apart and looked at everything separately and then it came to life. Now he looked around and took it apart. The stones turned into squat grey bunnies almost underfoot. Those nubbly points on tops of rocks were whistling pigs standing on their hind legs and looking searchingly out of little, old men’s faces. Those big tufts on the wild currant were two hawks  watching for gopher. The twist on the top of the trunk of the big pine was an eagle. All this was familiar. All this was home. In his looking and searching, there was also the wonder of what was not yet to be seen but might show up at any moment.” – from GREEN GRASS OF WYOMING by Mary O’Hara

Remember: go slow to go fast

I still like the way I see things best.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Grateful for slow, lingering visits to the Santa Fe Children’s Museum, Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian (my FAVORITE!), Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, and the Museum of International Folk Art.

To create one’s own world takes courage.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

If you can believe in what you are and keep to your line – that is the most one can do with life.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

New favorite word: soughed

field notes (9.1.17)

All you need to do is declare yourself crazy and do what you want to do.” – Amos Kennedy, Jr.

Sometimes, courage is the willingness to speak the truth about what you see and to own what you say.” – Seth Godin

Reading: THE GRASS HARP by Truman Capote, LANDMARKS by Robert Macfarlane, TWO LITTLE SAVAGES by Ernest Thompson Seton and THIS IS HOW WE DO IT by Matt Lamothe

field notes (8.1.17)


Pursuing a long-simmering art project – fumbling my way through it – check it out on Instagram. It’s my Tromp Collection series…

Working to “embrace what I do not know as a point of departure to explore the mystery of the world.” – John Muir Laws

Using the prompts: I notice…, I wonder…, It reminds me of…

Pay attention to what you pay attention to.” – Amy Krouse Rosenthal

field notes (7.1.17)

Reading: THE BOLD DRY GARDEN by Johanna Silver (I am utterly in awe of Ruth Bancroft who is the subject of the book. I remember reading an article about her and her xeriscape garden in Martha Stewart Magazine in high school or college and being utterly intrigued. Now, to rediscover her and learn more about her, is a gift.), LOCAL COLOR by Mimi Robinson (so, so, so helpful as I continue on my color-literacy quest), EXPLORERS’ SKETCHBOOKS by Huw Lewis-Jones and Kari Herbert (fascinating and inspiring) and 2016 THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE & NATURE WRITING  edited by Amy Stewart

Best description of a person I’ve read in a long time, in this case regarding Dame Janet Maria Vaughan: “down to earth but like air on a mountain.”

Embracing acupuncture and cupping…

Sorting, packing, purging in preparation for an upcoming move across town. I thought this move would be easier than my cross-country move in December, but it hasn’t been. (Maybe, it’s even been harder? Not sure yet.) But moving, whether next door, across town, cross-country, to the other side of the globe, is difficult. Moving is difficult. Moving is difficult. Moving is difficult. But also, refining.

Took an inadvertent break from social media in June and it was lovely. (My smartphone stopped.) Before I dig in again, if/when I dig in again, I  must reflect on the lessons and ideas the time away offered me.


I am submitting.

field notes (6.1.17)

Patti Smith’s HOW DOES IT FEEL in the New Yorker. preach.

That thing where learning about color or fabric or design or cooking or music, or pretty much any other creative discipline, is so much more helpful for my writing efforts than any book or lecture about the craft of writing.

You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash

Reading: BELOVED by Toni Morrison (finally), YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP by Lee Gutkind, BARBARIAN DAYS: A SURFING LIFE by William Finnegan, LIVING WITH PATTERN by Rebecca Atwood, FULL BLOOM by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp (lesson: so much about Georgia O’Keeffe is myth. I love learning the truth about her.), STRETCH by Scott Soneshein.

I love poetry.

field notes (5.1.17)

Happily, I have resumed taking photographs on my DSLR. When I purchased my smartphone last year, my use of my DSLR plummeted: the smartphone camera was just so much more convenient. But, I’ve missed my DSLR. This past month, I’ve slowly worked it back into rotation. It has bought me unexpected joy. Using my DSLR,  I’ve noticed that I am much more careful in setting up my shots, much more aware of capturing special moments. My eyes work differently.

I am working to change my thinking surrounding my DSLR and smartphone camera: My DSLR is for capturing moments and memories of my family and friends. My smartphone camera is for collecting visual ideas and notes.

I attended the Western Washington SCBWI conference in Seattle in early April and I am still sifting my notes, considering the new ideas and connecting with fellow writers and illustrators. Grateful to learn from Patricia Hruby Powell, Melissa Manlove, Kazu Kibuishi, Stephanie Pitts.

Takeaway: Go with your gut.

The world looks so different when we remember we are an energy, not an image.” – Sarah Neuberger

Good composition is merely the strongest way of seeing.” – Edward Weston

Loving the phrase, “drawing words and writing pictures” as I awake and embrace my visual self more and more each day

Watching: GHOSTBUSTERS, LOST IN TRANSLATIONOLIVE KITTERIDGE  (in that order and unintentionally studying Bill Murray over the years. The man is brilliant.)

Reading: THIS BRIDGE WILL NOT BE GRAY by Dave Eggers (I’ve always wondered how to write a book, and now that I’ve read this one, I know), THE DESIGN OF EVERYDAY THINGS by Don Norman, THE PASSION OF DOLSSA by Julie Berry, AS ALWAYS, JULIA: THE LETTERS OF JULIA CHILD AND AVIS DESOTO by Joan Reardon (which made me appreciate my closest female friendships even more), PICTURE THIS: HOW PICTURES WORK by Molly Bang, UNDERSTANDING COMICS by Scott McCloud, BRIGHT DEAD THINGS by Ada Limon (and now I want to read all her books of poems.)

field notes (April 1, 2017)

My daughter and I were talking about failure the other day. She is learning to sew and, as it is with learning new skills, she is  making a lot of mistakes. I told her that she must continue. Try, make a mistake, come up with a new plan, try again. Keep at it. Keep trying and failing. She said, “Does that mean that eventually, I won’t make any more mistakes?” I told her that she will always make mistakes, she will always fail. But the thing about trying and failing over and over again is this: once you  figure out that it’s not a personal failing, just a part of the learning curve, the time you spend face down on the ground between tries decreases. You get better at jumping back up on your feet. You get quicker. You aren’t as devastated for as long. Also, you’ll master all kinds of skills. But because we are naturally curious people, we will always be learning new skills and failing at them before we master them. Throughout our life. We will always try and fail and try again. The recovery time between efforts though, will decrease.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”  – Winston Churchill

“Mistakes bring good.” – Maira Kalman

Reading: IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN by Grace Bonney (highly recommended)

Watching: EAMES: THE ARCHITECT AND THE PAINTER by Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey and CHOCOLAT with Juliette Binoche

“Never delegate understanding.” – Charles Eames

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

Starting to find a few niches where I may belong in my new town. And slowly, mindfully, attending meetings, saying hello, asking questions, following my nose, writing letters of introduction, making (I hope) lasting connections. I belong here.

A writing friend from Minnesota passed through town earlier this month and we had time to drink some coffee and share some book talk and our time together filled me up like nothing else. So wonderful to meet and talk with people face-to-face.

Considering ways to increase my visual literacy. Taking a helicopter view. Considering what I have here and now. Whom I can ask for help. How to do what I can with what I have. Making a giant mind map. So far: a daily drawing practice, a list of  visual artist friends to ask for help from, and an emerging idea of what I’m trying to do. I’m taking this slow because I’m not willing to ask for help or guidance until I know what it is I want. Things are still a bit murky. And that’s OK. A clear direction will emerge given time and patience.

I watched CHOCOLAT three times over the past two weekends. I wanted to watch it again and again and again. I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. And I finally figured out why: that’s what I want. What Vianne has: To live in a town where I am part of its fabric. / To stay. To stay. To stay. / To be a true, get-in-the-mud friend across the years. / To create things (books & essays & stories) that make peoples’ lives better, richer, braver. / To live bravely, big-heartedly even when (especially when) it makes me less popular. / To share good food with people around my very own table. /  To do it all wearing great clothes.

Finally pegged down my essential intent for my writing!!! (Now to do so for the other arena in my life. Namely, my family and my health.)