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 (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 (3.1.17)

This article, MO WILLEMS’S FUNNY FAILURES by Rivka Galchen is full of gems. (You’re welcome.)

Pretty sure that fear and failure are just really clever disguises for opportunities. (Note to self: remember this when you are scared and failing!)

Entering the high tide of conference preparation…which means lots of reading, researching, formulating questions, ordering new business cards, and focusing on my purpose. (I love a good conference. Helps me gather myself together a bit.)

Trying a new method to focus & flense my latest writing project. I’m writing a book-about-a-book. Which is maybe just a sneaky way to get myself to write a book proposal without getting all powerpoint- and spreadsheet-crazy. I get to use pictures! Essays! Quotes! Maps!It is fun (and helpful).

Noted: if I want a make a change, it helps not just to think a new idea, but to say that idea aloud. For example, I have a new book idea and like all new ideas, at first this one was shiny and perfect. But once I start working on it, the flaws started to show up. This doesn’t mean I need to stop working. It just means I need to keep working. And as I work, I am carefully saying to myself “This is a good idea.” And when that doesn’t work (which is most of the time) I say it aloud. “This is a good idea” to the empty room or to the full room. And this works. Honestly. It’s as if the idea hears the praise and stands up straighter and tries a bit more earnestly.

Reading: WRITING WITH PICTURES by Uri Shulevitz (it’s been a few years since I read this one. So good.)


Visited the Museum of the Rockies for the first time and, man oh man, I love museums.

It’s March! Which means I survived February, my least favorite month.

Remembering that being uncomfortable is magical. Because it means that I am pushing myself and exploring new territory, taking risks. It’s scary and painful. Trying to remember that in the moment. Trying to get comfortable with discomfort. (This may take a while…)

New archival material arrived for my NF biography and it’s such vital information. Grateful I spent the $25 and got out of my own way. (Sometimes my thriftiness gets in the way of progress.) ahem.

Expanding from simply keeping a nature journal into keeping a visual journal. It’s a format that’s more flexible and fluid. More inclusive. I like it. Fewer rules, more fun.

field notes (12.23.16)

Merry Christmas!

This quote, “Many adults…stall in the information-gathering stage of a project. They keep collecting inspiration and ideas without ever moving forward to the point of making something of their own. Forget about finishing – they can’t start,” from Lori Pickert’s PROJECT-BASED HOMESCHOOLING is kicking me in the butt

I was completely immersed in BARKSKINS by Annie Proulx until I realized, with a jolt, that even though it was brilliant and amazing, I had to stop reading it because I knew that I couldn’t both read this novel and get my writing done. I had to choose. And I choose writing.

Working to re-establish writing times

My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.” – Pat Conroy

field notes (12.16.16)

Note to self: 1. do one thing at a time 2. say it simple

Writing so many thank you notes.

Reading: SOME WRITER! by Melissa Sweet, BLUE LIKE JAZZ by Donald Miller, Project-Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert

Three quotes that are steadying me right now:

Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter. And lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” – Jack London [Because I am loving, loving, loving my early morning journal writing. This is the bedrock of my writing efforts. The essential effort that holds my writing universe together.]

Without great solitude no serious work is possible.” – Pablo Picasso [Because I am living in a new town, and rather than feeling lonely, I am enjoying the solitude. Pair my recent move with cold, winter weather and the result is delicious.]

The best writing is often done by persons who are snatching time from something else.” – E.B. White [Because I have unrelenting demands on my time, my writing time is snatched from a loooong to-do list.]