Friday, January 27, 2023


 Resolutions just slip away, don't they?

On January first I decided to read a poem a day. I like reading poems because of their lyricism, the intense visual images they create, and their emotional intimacy. I realized long ago that I can't read an entire book of poetry all at once. Each poem needs to be savored. One a day. Easy resolution to keep, right?

That resolution lasted a couple of weeks during the surprising quiet time after the holiday rush that allows me to reflect, recharge, and resolve.

It's almost the end of January and I forgot all about reading a poem a day. I turned to some of my own poems to see what ideas they inspired and to remind me how difficult it is to write a poem. Poetry writers have told me that they rework a poem over and over to get the right word choices and the right sense they want to convey. 

I don't spend that kind of time writing poetry, but I like to write down phrases that come up and tuck them away to see if they will carry me further.

Here are two:

Spider webs cover a hill/ Dew covers each strand

Where will these two phrases take me? I like the idea of large and small: The spider webs covering a hill and dew covering the strands of each web. Is there more meaning to be found?

Frogs chirping as we walk by/  Their sudden silence the opposite of a motion-detector light.

I think I will leave that one alone.

While taking a letterpress class, I needed a short poem to express my ideas about cats. Trying to devise a poem and design a small book proved challenging in the amount of time I had. I also set myself up for difficulty by deciding to cut out silhouettes of cats within the book pages. Here is the draft of "Do You Know Cats?"

And each page of the completed book:

Do you know cats?
If you do, you know
the lightness of 

Do you know cats?
If you do, you know
curiosity, judgment,
and fear.

Do you know cats?
If you do, you know
a world of
concentration &

What have I 
learned from cats?
I know to take
the time to be quiet.
I know to look
I know to touch as
lightly as I can.

What I have learned from our numerous cats.

This post is in honor of Blackie, Chaucer, Bosworth, Winthrop, Kabuki, Jellica, and our last cat, Tangier Buzzer Baby, who passed away in January.


Two thoughtful posts about changing your attitude:

From Sarah of Frog Hollow Farm about community:

Pics and Posts by Chandra Lynn who shares a poem by Ullie-Kaye here:

Friday, January 20, 2023


Examples of eco-printing on paper

Are you a saver like me? I don't mean just saving money. Do you have the impulse to save something that you like too much? Maybe a sweater or a pair of shoes?

Do you ever buy a piece of clothing, hang it in your closet, consider wearing it, only to hang it back up after you decide it's too good to wear for whatever occasion you are preparing for? I have a couple of such items in my closet. They may get worn eventually or my shape will change, so they no longer fit. But they sure looked good in my closet. I wonder about the logic of my thinking. Why did I buy it in the first place if I just wanted to save it?

This savings attitude affects my use of art supplies and projects too. Recently, I purchased two composition rulers designed by Nico Ng. They arrived in such a beautiful package that each time I went to open the envelopes containing the rulers, I set them aside. But what a treat to look at.

Lettering on the packaging for
composition rulers
by Nico Ng & Lindsay Bugbee 

The composition rulers are good lettering tools. You can make curved banners with lettering to fit the curves, which is not an easy process otherwise. I finally opened the envelopes to remove the rulers and I am now experimenting with different ways to design with the rulers.

I have friends who have stacks of fabric ready for use with the "perfect project." Anyone with a love of color, texture or patterns will likely find themselves squirreling away pieces of fabric for another day.

After taking a technique class in eco-printing, which creates naturally dyed papers using leaves and flowers, I ended up with a wonderful stack of papers that I can use for either book arts or mixed media pieces. The eco-printing process involves layering natural objects between sheets of paper, simmering them in a bath of water, vinegar, and rusty elements, and letting them dry. Both sides of the paper pick up the imprints of the natural objects with extraordinary and beautiful detail. 

Every time I think to use the paper, I ruffle through the stack and discover once again how beautiful they are. Which side to choose? Where do I cut the paper without losing the interesting textures and patterns created by the natural elements? 

 Finally, I dug out my two cardboard corners and laid them in various positions on one of the papers. This method helped me find designs that stood out and could be used for the endpapers of books, for book covers, or for framing as a print.

Possible designs found on one sheet of paper

Like magic, I could finally cut through the paper as long as I didn't look on the other side!

The other side

Learn how to do calligraphy or order the composition rulers:

Clear directions for eco-printing on paper:

Friday, January 13, 2023


 If you grew up in Southern California, you knew that January 1st, the day of the Pasadena Rose Parade, would always be a bright, sunny day. Rain didn't dare make an appearance. The sun was shining on January 1st  this year too. Soon after though, California returned to its rainy season, which we have missed for several years because of a severe drought haunting the state. Now we are on flood watch in many places as the storms continue to come one right after the other.

Blue sky over Mt. Diablo on January 1, 2023

I always thought that the Rose Parade and the sight of the blue California skies in winter encouraged people to move to our state. They didn't realize how Nature spreads itself with fury over California landscapes with earthquakes and storms that can bring 20 feet of snow in a season to the mountains along with floods, landslides, and fires. The Earth lets us know she is here.

Up our street the creeks that usually are empty most of the year rage like rivers and bring trees down with them. We spot mudslides that have coursed down the hills nearby and caused creeks to change their paths. On the street, seed pods have been flattened by the rain, and leaves have left ghost prints. Inside our house, we discover ant scouts looking for new, dry homes. We have been whipped, battered, and worried by the amount of water running down streets and creeks. We are having wild times.

This morning the sun was up and only wispy clouds moved across the sky -- a short reprieve before the next storm. The ground is spongy to walk on but I discovered new growth poking up through the wet soil -- Nature at its gentlest as the daffodils and primroses sprout out from the wet clay soil, just a teaser of Spring to come. The sun shining makes a difference.

We and our house have been spared damage from the storm. We are just wet through and through.

Friday, January 6, 2023


The power went off for just a few minutes last Saturday. Just enough time to make all the analog devices in our house return to a blinking 12:00. Our cable went out at the same time and stayed out for two and a half days over the New Year's weekend. No Rose Parade, no Rose Bowl game, no 49ers or Warriors games to watch, no internet. What did we do before we had TV?

I looked around the room and saw a stack of books ruffling their pages at me in hopes that I would pick one up and read it. As a lifelong reader, I long ago limited myself to an hour of reading a day; otherwise, I could be so absorbed by the story that the day would slip away. This past weekend we had time to read for longer than one chapter at a time. Luckily, I had just begun The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles and had already decided that this book is my Book of the Year for 2023. Contained between the covers I found a terrific epic story with great characters, lots of adventures and misdirection, and romance. What more could I ask for on a weekend of rainy days?

When I read an epic tale or a mystery, I gallop through the pages, the tension building at the end of each chapter so that I am compelled to continue to the end as quickly as possible, and then regret having finished the book as soon as I close the cover. My run through these kinds of stories is different from my reading of a book of poetry. I have a copy of Billy Collins' latest poems, Musical Tables. I enjoy his work. He is as accessible as Mary Oliver and Robert Frost are, but each poem needs time. Reading a poem is like lifting the lid on a pot of simmering beef stew and savoring the aroma or smelling the fragrance of a newly picked peach or lemon. I want to pause for a moment to relish the arousal of my senses.

Friends love to listen to audiobooks or podcasts instead of reading a book. As a visual person, I tend to lose track of the spoken word as my mind wanders over my view. I watch as a trail of rain slides down the outside of the window in front of my computer. I glance at my neighbor walking her dog while holding on to his leash and her umbrella that sways in the wind. Today no one stops to chat with others like they usually do while their dogs touch noses and bow at each other to play. Because of the hard rain we've had this week, the hills are slipping down as they become saturated and the clay soil pushes down behind houses and onto streets. As I gaze out my window, these disparate images could be the beginnings of a story or the frame for a painting and I've lost my place in the podcast that comes through the speakers in my workroom.

I've continued to work on watercolor sketches of man-made objects. To my surprise, I'm finding that the practice is a good way to experiment with mixing colors right on the page. For me, choosing one object to paint comes closer to my abilities. I often get overwhelmed painting a landscape with many shapes and textures. Now if I can use what I've learned from this exercise on more complex images!


If you are in the Bay Area in the next couple of months, stop by the Harrington Gallery in Pleasanton to see California Watercolor Association's National Exhibition, which runs from January 7 to March 18. You will see some terrific watercolor paintings from painters from all over the country.