Autumn in Seattle

Since it’s technically still autumn until Wednesday, I thought I could still sneak in a post with autumn in the title.  I’m behind on my posts, so this one is going up tomorrow morning even if it isn’t my bestly written one. (If Trump can say 'bigly', I can say bestly!)

Since I was already on the other side of the country after visiting Utah, I thought I’d swing around to Seattle and Portland. There were still some photographs I wanted to take for the book, and I thought a pen-friend reunion with Ryan was long overdue anyway.

I arrived in the perfect weather!  Fog fog fog and misty rain… exactly what I was hoping for.

Arriving at SEA-TAC

... but so much for plans!  By the time we drove the two hours to Hoquiam the air was clear and it was windy.  No fog at all.   I was so disappointed, but what could I do?  Ryan and I decided that some magic portal must have opened for our time there that summer.  (Even Lana’s, the airport restaurant, had since closed.)  Sometimes things are just like that I guess.  There’s a special moment, or an amazing experience, or some incredible thing that you’ll only get to see once and then it's just gone.

While I knew I wasn’t going to recapture that June morning exactly as it had been, with the sun reflecting off every bit of fog and whitewashing the entire landscape like some image of heaven, I thought I could at least come close.  Nope.  So I can either leave out that scene, or rewrite it to describe the landscape as I photographed it this time. Which brings up an interesting creative question for me about whether I want to be true to the facts of the story, or to the spirit of it.

Sunrise in Gray's Harbor

That June we had landed in the dark, not knowing what was around us at all.  This time we discovered the Gray’s Harbor National Wildlife Refuge on the north side of Bowerman Field.  It would have been the perfect spot to pitch a tent in the middle of a summer night!  The boardwalk through the marsh... the wind in the trees... the symphony of frog-songs.

Gray's Harbor Wildlife Refuge

I hadn’t expected there to be so much fall color in Seattle.  I always think “pine trees” when I picture the northwest, but there was plenty of autumn.  Everything seemed brighter too in the rain.

Autumn leaves
Yellow leaves

We were hoping for some good flying weather, and had a tiny window one afternoon for a short flight.  There was the blue-and-yellow Luscombe, smiling at me when Ryan opened the hangar door...  (So cute!  See his teeth?)

Smiling Luscombe
Luscombe in the hangar

We played around the clouds for a while, came back for hot cocoa and snacks at the Arlington airport diner, and then visited Uncle Paul. He's retired from the world of airplane mechanics and is spending more time making -- and playing -- his beautiful Native American flutes.  It was so great to see him again!

Aerial photograph of the clouds

Back in 2009 Ryan and I didn’t do anything but have our flying adventure… I didn't visit any touristy places… I couldn’t tell you anything about Seattle at all really.  This time, though, we went to Chocolopolis - good grief, YUM! - where they custom-make hot cocoa with the chocolate bar of your choice.  Homemade marshmallows are soooo worth the extra $.


We also visited the MoPop (right next to the Space Needle - yay!) to see the World of Wearable Art exhibit, which was incredible.  

World of Wearable Art

... aaalmost as incredible as watching Ryan perform on the trapeze in his homemade dinosaur costume the night before.  He brought down the house and was swarmed by adoring fans afterwards.

Ryan in his dinosaur costume on the trapeze

I am SO glad I got to see my pen friend again.  And although I only shot one of the photos I wanted to take on this trip, I had to just let it go.  This time wasn't the time for that I guess.  Maybe there's another Seattle adventure in my future...


I am happy to report that the debut reading of my Flying Adventures book at Snow College in Utah went well! I thought I'd be nervous but I wasn't, and I really enjoyed giving a talk afterwards about the history of how the book came to be and where it's headed.  The audience was so welcoming and asked great questions that made me rethink having taken out parts of the talk in the interest of timing.  They need to go back in.  What I thought was so funny was that everyone wanted to know what pen I'd used to write the text (it's a Pilot V-Ball fine).  I had one in my bag, since it is my absolute favorite pen, and they wanted to try it out and took pictures of it with their telephones.  This cracked me up.  Someone suggested I should ask Pilot to sponsor me, and it never even occurred to me that I am a pilot using a Pilot pen.  Sorta funny.

My first audience!

My first audience!

Students checking out  Flying Adventures  after the reading

Students checking out Flying Adventures after the reading

Answering questions after the reading

The small part of Utah that I saw was absolutely beautiful --- I've never spent any time there --- and I loved my stay at the Osborne Inn in Spring City.  After rolling in hungry late at night, I had a most delicious plate of their homemade chocolate chip cookies for dinner.  In the morning I woke up to such pretty light!

Curtains at the Osborne Inn
Door to the patio at the Osborne Inn

My photo-friend and art professor at Snow College, Amy Jorgensen, also runs the Granary Art Center in Ephraim. She was kind enough to give me a tour of their gallery space, which included 40 Moons, an exhibit by another photo-friend of ours, Elizabeth Stone.  I loved that I was able to see Elizabeth's work hanging on the wall after having seen it in a portfolio box when she first showed it to me last year.

40 Moons  by photographer Elizabeth Stone

40 Moons by photographer Elizabeth Stone

I also loved this installation by Stephanie Leitch called Interstices.  Long pieces of weighted string hang from the ceiling in a grid, and video is projected onto them --- the whole thing looks like shimmering rain, and you can see the window of the building through the strings.  I could have watched that all day.

Interstices  by Stephanie Leitch

Interstices by Stephanie Leitch

I tacked on an extra day to my Utah stay so that I could visit my friend Ben and his family.  When he first moved to Salt Lake, he posted these beautiful photos on Facebook of Antelope Island, and I knew I had to go!  So we took the afternoon and drove out.  The weather was moody:  on-and-off drizzle, dark clouds, sun here and there... even a rainbow.  It was perfect!  

Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island State Park, causeway
Dark skies, Antelope Island State Park
Grasses, Antelope Island State Park
Great Salt Lake rain, Antelope Island State Park
Collecting samples, Antelope Island State Park
Rainbow, Antelope Island State Park

Thank you, Utah, and everyone I met there, for making my visit so memorable!  I am looking forward to coming back again and staying a little longer :-)

10 Things Making Me Happy

It’s been such a beautiful start to fall, and before I left for Utah and points west, I put together a photo list of some things that made me happy that week.  I'd gotten a little frazzled finishing my artist talk for the book reading, and I had a million things to do to get ready for the two week trip.  I thought it would be good to slow down and pay attention to the things that made me smile.

Popsicle bookmark

1.  The bookmark I made for my Dad a looong time ago, found in my family’s dictionary (which I finally unpacked and made a good spot for).  Yeah, ok, it made me sad too, but mostly it made me happy.  I love that my Dad wrote the date on everything he saved, because now I don’t have to guess when I glued that heart to the popsicle stick.

Paintings and books

2.  Another “finally:" I'm starting to hang up some of my parents’ artwork on my own walls. I grew up looking at all these beautiful prints and paintings and it’s good to see them again.

Anemone flower

3.  My newly planted anemones, blooming before hunkering down for the winter.  I think they are my favorite flower.  

Aerial photograph of Ohio fields

4.  The Champ is in the air again!  I learned to fly in this magic plane, and now I own it! (Well, part of it, but more about that in another post.)

Tiny pinecones

5.  Very tiny pinecones that made their way to the patio.

Morning glories

6.  Morning glories winding their way through the patio doors.  They’re on the north wall, and it took all season for them to get up the gumption to flower.  Note to self: plant them in more places next spring.

Girl with cat

7.  Waking up with Miss Kid.  Under a down quilt.  Snuggly!

Cherry tomatoes

8.  Last tomatoes of the season.


9.  A sense of accomplishment!  I finished up my artist talk for my book reading out in Utah. 

In the bathtub

10.  First bath of the season. Need I say more?

So what's making you happy these days? 

"Flying Adventures" Debut

I’m pretty excited.  A few posts ago (you can read it here) I wrote about getting back to work on my Flying Adventures book.  Yes it’s been kind of a long and rough road getting this thing back on my project table, but this week is the debut of my reading and artist talk at Snow College in Utah and I thought it was time to finally start talking about my plans for the book.  I’ve been worried I’m going to jinx things if I start talking about it before I’ve gotten some exhibits/readings/successes under my belt, but I realize it’s time. Life is short!

To catch everyone up, here’s the nutshell version of the book’s history, and where I’m taking it next...

Soooo... I taught myself how to bookbind and made The Flying Adventures of Two Candy Cane Pen Friends as a gift for a friend after an adventure we had (Read a bit about that HERE.) (Or read the entire book HERE.)

At some point I realized this was going to be more than just a gift as it had turned into a huge project.  I made myself a copy too, and wondered how to share it with others.  Publishing seemed logical, but I had no idea how to publish a book, especially a not-very-mainstream one like this. So I scanned the pages & put it on my website, and also made a 40 page abridged version -- my zine -- to sell & give away. 

Things sort of fizzled after that.   Life was more important than the book for a while.  My parents died, and I’d been helping my brother take care of them.

Some encouraging news, though! … I received an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council for my work on the book.  This pepped me up again.  Then Chronicle Books wanted to see it!  Off it went:

Sadly, it was returned with a note: “Very charming, but we don’t see a place for it in our catalog at this time.”  I was pretty crushed.  If Chronicle - the king of quirky books - didn’t want it, what chance did it have?

Photo-friends I was with this winter said, “Hey! Your book hasn’t seen its day in the sun!  Find another way to get it out there!”   

So I thought of all the places & ways I might be able to bring the book to others.  Because, in the end, that’s what it’s about: connecting a project with people who will really love to see it.

I realized I was actually grateful that Chronicle hadn’t taken it.  It wasn’t ready to go out into the world as-is.  It had been a gift for my friend, not really intended for a larger audience.  So I am making a new book and then bringing it to others in more than one way:  I’ll offer “illustrated readings,” where I’ll read the book and project pages in a slideshow.  I’ll frame pages and create an exhibit so viewers can literally walk through the book.  I’ll self-publish a new zine.  I’ll partner with art & community centers, schools, and museums to offer workshops and availability as an artist-in-residence as I work on new book editions. I’ll bring it to the aviation community.  Who knows what other opportunities will come up?

One thing at a time. I took an inspiring workshop with bookbinding wizard Jace Graf of Cloverleaf Studio in Austin, Texas.  I left with all sorts of new ideas for how I might want to approach printing and binding and presentation.

Then later this year I spent a week at a friend's house and reworked the book layout.

Just as I was finishing it up and clearing off the table, I received an email from a photo friend/art professor at Snow College in Utah, asking if I’d like to be on their fall calendar of visiting artists.  Ever since then I’ve been hard at work on my reading & artist talk.

It’s finally ready to go!  At first I thought I’d just run through a “how I made this book” chronology, but I wanted it to be better than that.  I’m hoping to inspire people to think outside the box when it comes to getting a project out into the world.

After I’m back from Utah -- and a trip to Seattle to take some other photographs for the book -- I’ve got studio work to do!  I have to start testing out papers, both for the new book and for the exhibit.  I've got a whole stack of samples to get through:

The Greater Columbus Arts Council awarded me a grant to help me purchase a printer, for which I am ever so grateful. I’ve also found shadowbox frames which will be perfect for showcasing book pages in a three-dimensional format. 

And - Yes! - my new business cards came!  I’m excited to finally be able to hand out a card that represents more of what I do.  

Well, I'm off to the great wide-open West! I have never spent any time in Utah and I can't wait to see more than the view from the airport.  Come along for the ride on Instagram & FB...