Over the weekend, I put together another book. This one is titled “Journal of Bone Grit.” It has a coptic binding using an orange-colored thin-gauge electric wire. It’s the first one that I made using this wire, and it turned out pretty good. The binding allows the book to open flat (which makes it easy to write in), and shows the roughness of the handmade paper’s deckle edges on all sides. Along the spine are the vertical folds of the seven signatures of five sheets of paper each. That’s a total of 140 pages: 7 sigs. x 5 sheets x 4 pages. That’s the sort of math a book-maker does. I certainly hope I right.BoneGrit-7522

All of the pages are empty except for where I’ve inked in the title on the second page, so it’s ready for a writer willing to write on the handmade papers of a handmade book. BoneGrit-7523Making a book like this begins with making the natural dye for the paper. The interior papers were dyed with lichen, which turns an orange-ish color. You can see small bits of lichen and the bark it grew on in the paper. There is just enough to make it look interesting without drawing too much attention from whatever the writer will write. Instead, it may help to punctuate the writing. The end result will be a handwritten book, which makes the journal even more of an artwork than it already was. The finished journal would become a collaborative artwork between artist and author.BoneGrit-7524The cover papers include the grit left behind on a windowsill under a deer skull, hence the name “Journal of Bone Grit.” The deep brown dye used for the cover papers is not a natural dye, but an “upcycled” dye. I had a box of Ritz dye sitting around for over 25 years, no, probably more like over 35 years. The box was corroded and puffy, and in such bad condition that I had to use it or toss it. Over the years, I kept looking at the box, thinking I would use it for something. So I finally did! I left the paper pulp soaking in the dye long enough that the color came out surprisingly dark and rich.BoneGrit-7527

The photo above shows the skull, the bone dust on the cover, and the wire used to bind it together. I am a poet, an artist, a designer and a publisher. This book is made in my “artist mode,” and is a work of art that can be used by whoever becomes its owner. Let’s change “can be used” to “should be used” or “needs to be used.” I have discovered that most writers would love to write in a book like this, but making that first mark is so difficult, even frightening, that many writers keep this sort of journal blank forever. If you accept the challenge of owning a art-book journal like this, you can consider yourself courageous writer and my hero.

In the last two posts, I shared images of the cabin and of Summer Lake, Oregon, from my Playa residency in August 2017. In this post, I’ll share photos from my walks up the hill across the road from Playa.

The hill is a foothill on the edge of the Fremont National Forest. You walk through Playa’s wooden gate, cross Highway 31 (a fairly quiet road), go through the metal gate, and then walk up and up the hill along a steep gravel road. The first thing I noticed was being greeted by a variety of butterflies.

A bright orange and black Thistle Crescent (Mylitta Crescentspot) can brighten even the sunniest day.

I am not an expert on any insect, but I would guess that this one is a ratty example of a Thistle Crescent. I like the striped antennae.

I’d guess this little flitter is a Checkered White. It flutters around tiny pink flowers, and others, too.

Here’s a Slivery Blue butterfly with its white-rimmed wings.

If I’m good at guessing, this butterfly might be a West Coast Lady.

I can’t even guess at the name of this butterfly, but I like the colors and lines in this photo, and how the butterfly is hanging tight in a light breeze, antennae on alert.

This is another blue butterfly showing the underside of its wings. Beautiful patterns.

My best guess here is that this butterfly may be a Great Basin Wood Nymph. I love the filigreed pattern and the dark eyes on the wings.

If you can take your eyes off the butterflies, the view of Playa from the hill is spectacular.

From here, Playa looks like an oasis with its green trees and red-roofed cabins. There were forest fires in Idaho and Montana, as well as Oregon, Washington and British Colombia this year, so the sky was sometimes a dull gray, and you could smell wood burning far off.

Here are a couple of Playa’s cabins, and my VW Beetle in the parking lot. This view includes the boundary fence and several shade trees who welcome visitors.

Further up, there is a small group of evergreens shading a picnic table, and an astounding view of the broad flatness of Summer Lake and beyond.

This is a row of Elderberry trees shading the tall grasses, and sometimes deer.


Large clusters of blue berries droop like grapes from the small orchard.

Elton John drank and then sang about these berries. Later in the summer, they’ll all turn to an almost black purple.

Short sunflowers will feed the birds a few weeks after this photo was taken.

I’m pretty sure this is goldenrod, which lives up to its name. The butterflies love it.

Obviously, goldenrod attracts more than just butterflies.

Yellow flowers are the rule on this hill, though there are plenty of white, blue and pink to play backup.

The roadway is jumping with Pallid-winged Grasshoppers. Their coloring makes them all but disappear in the rocks.

Dragonflies enjoy resting on the tips of grasses.

Mammals on the hill include deer. I woke this trio from an afternoon nap. The buck was still napping. As soon as the does roused him, they headed up the hill across the way.

Even though I felt a little guilty, I decided to take their photograph anyway, after they ran a safe distance up the hill.

This is a very large buck. I could say I shot a ten-point buck—with my camera. He was magnificent. So were the does.

There are reptiles, too. This Western Fence Lizard enjoyed getting his photo taken. He posed here and there and over there. I finally had to walk away, I had so many photos of this creature.

This lizard has a beautiful scale pattern. I especially like the blue spots on the back, and the teal belly.

These grasses were everywhere. And like the lizard, kept wanting their picture taken.

A bird. I have no idea what kind this is, but may be some sort of a flycatcher. Other than the hawks racing back and forth, there were only a few birds on the hill. The bird sanctuary up the road has some stunning birds. But that will be in another post.

This close-up of the ridge shows that once the hill had many more evergreens, and that they were taken by fire. Still, it is a lush hillside.

There are some flat areas between the rolling hills. The tree growth is sparse, and the grasses are tall.

Returning from a walk near dusk, I “ran” across this long reptile, a bull snake. Harmless, but alarming, until you can see there are no rattles on the end of its almost four foot long tail.

This very handsome snake was laying straight across the road, and I was lucky not to step on it. Since it was cool enough that it didn’t run off right away, I took a few more photos before heading down the hill.

The path is road-wide and easy to follow, even on a very hot afternoon. Bring water, a camera and a journal. You’ll be inspired and thirsty.

Playa is inspiring for many reasons. The landscape is a big part of that, as well as the residents who live on that landscape—the fauna and the flora. And the calm quietness. As an artist and a poet, I came away filled to the brim.

2. Summer Lake

My last post was about the cabin I stayed in during my residency at Playa. This one is about the beautiful landscape of Summer Lake that makes the eastern border of Playa. Right out the windows of my cabin, I could see the wide, flat basin of Summer Lake with a foreground of tall grasses, a few trees, and the dry, cracking shore.

A day at Playa begins with the clouds spreading color like jam onto the lake. Maybe that’s why coffee tastes so good in the early morning.

This is the view from the deck of my cabin. It is remarkably relaxing to sit with a cup of coffee and a book or journal with this landscape as a backdrop.

To get to the paths near the lake, it’s best to walk past the large pond that has a dock and a canoe. The pond is full of fish, and you’ll see ducks, muskrats, herons, praying mantises, and other creatures near the pond.

Short prickly grasses grow along the edge of the wide dry shore.

A line of black rocks, an art installation, greets visitors as they enter the cracked summer landscape of the lake’s drying bed.

Up until the lake’s beach turns into muddy clay, it is a pocked with cracks and crevices, fissures and things that get stuck in them, like moths, seeds, feathers.

The cracks are rather deep in places. The seeds of prickly grasses sew themselves when a breeze blows them into these natural furrows. The awns of the spikelets hold them in place.

Windblown sage, or other plants, create an alien landscape on the flat mirage of the shore.

This is a late afternoon view of the Playa grounds as viewed from the lake side.

Dragonflies and grasses are abundant in August.

The clouds are as dramatic as the sky. The lake is large, but shy in summer. No one can actually walk to it in August. The mud acts like a moat, and the grasses are like brambles, they are so thick, spiky, and sturdy.

With the shore so flat, the sky becomes its own terrain. The hills in the distance support the vastness the sky describes.

I’m not sure what sort of grass this is, maybe a type of bunchgrass, but it came back home with me in every pair of socks I wore near the lake. The lines they draw between themselves create wonderful abstract artworks.

This Preying Mantis was as curious about me as I was of this creature. His head swivels and tilts, making this insect almost as cute as a puppy.

The walk near the shore is quite flat, but the hill on the other side of the road from Playa is one that can take your breath away in more ways than one. The cabin you see there is #6, the one I stayed in.

Those two trees standing together like tourists are in a lot of photos that crept into my camera. They must be best friends.

The dragonflies rest neatly at the tops of the tall strands of grass. This one has a green sheen.

Dusk brings forth a violet hue. The small dots of shorebirds speckle the shore.

The serene sunrise is something you wouldn’t want to miss very often at this place. The slowness of the climb above the line of horizon is awe-inspiring.

The tall grass grows in a wide swath before the shoreline. Paths are mown for easy walking, for exploring the environment, and to gain access to the lake shore.

Sometimes the paths will take you on a straight and narrow journey. It’s almost as though you’d end up in the sky.

This is the Playa setting under the foothills viewed from the cracked bed of the August lake shore.

A person could walk for miles on the fractures of the flat lake bed. This is mid-August. The lake will refill the cracks with water as the season changes.


Another view of the pond with the canoe and the dock. You can go to the far end of the pond, and then keep going, because the pond is bigger than it looks from here. Fish were jumping all day long in August.

Near dusk, the landscape gathers a dramatic sky.

Walking back to the cabin just after the sun dips below the western foothills sheds a slightly different hue to everything.

Sunset over the hills glows like fire. This is the sort of place that is especially inspiring in many ways.


1. The Cabin

Just before my horse-related head injury back in early February, I was working on a submission for an artist’s residency at Playa, which is beside Summer Lake in the northernmost part of South Central Oregon. Somehow, I finished the submission and sent it off soon after the accident. I received a call to attend for two weeks in mid-August. Lucky me, since it was during those two weeks that the 2017 solar eclipse was happening.

The work I wanted to do has been waiting for me to get to it for quite a while: to organize, edit, and revise the poems that were in my computer(s), and to write a few new poems, too. When I returned from the residency, there were 397 poems that I had at least looked at and organized. Some were edited slightly. Many others went through a rigorous revision process. A few needed to be typed out from handwritten notes. I put many hours into this project. And now, picking which poems will go into two or three manuscripts will be much, much simpler.

During the fourteen days of my residency, I took-in several different landscapes from this area: the lake, the hill to the west, the bird sanctuary fifteen minutes north of Playa, as well as the cabin I stayed in, and the solar eclipse. There was so much to see in each of these places, that I decided to make one post per place. This, Post #1, is about the housing.

I loved the cabin I stayed in, #6, which was spacious and well-outfitted—a very comfortable place to stay and to work. Okay, at first, there was an operatic toilet that sang arias in soprano at odd hours, and the distinct tapping and scratching of tiny rodents during the night, but after just a few days, those things were taken care of by Michael, who is the groundskeeper. Then the silence of the place permeated everything.

The Dining Room is just inside the front door, with the kitchen to the left. There was a view of the high foothills to the west of Playa from both windows.

The Kitchen was clean and fully functional. I brought along my espresso machine, because I like to spoil myself when I’m working very hard. I also brought along a chocolate bar that was sent to me from the dentist who will be putting posts in my mouth so I can continue healing from that injury.

The Living Room had a comfy chair on one side and a great view of the landscape of the lake.

The Living Room is large. I worked many hours at that table in front of the window.

The view from the Bedroom is also of the Summer Lake landscape (and there’s a hot tub in the little room beside the bedroom).

A horse shoe coat rack hung from the wall of the kitchen, reminds me always of my love for horses.

The view to the east of the cabin is full of foothills—the habitat of many insects, reptiles, mammals, and flora. A fabulous stick-fence in front of Playa runs between the quiet highway and tall shade trees.

Sunrise view from Cabin #6 is quiet and calm. I’d wake in the early morning just to see the light unfold.

The fence along the front of Playa is terribly beautiful.

This close-up shows details of its construction, with the use of bolts and philips-head screws, and railings, pickets, and posts from the limbs of the tree with the bark still intact.

This is Cabin #6 on the last evening I was there. The wind was blustering, and the night quite dark, which made the cabin seem even cozier.

As you can see, Playa has excellent lodging. It’s too bad I didn’t take photos of the other cabins, studios, or the Commons, which has a great kitchen and dining area, and a library, meeting room, an office, and a few other helpful accommodations, such as mail, trash collection, cabin supplies, piano, wi-fi, etc.). The second installment about the Playa residency should be ready for posting sometime in the next week or so.

I am often asked questions about how to put a small publication together. So I wrote out what I know, and made a little book titled Elements of a Polished Poetry Chapbook. Then, last September, I gave a workshop at LiTFUSE in Tieton, WA, where participants folded and sewed copies of this book, discussed its contents, and then made another book with a wrap-around outer cover.


Elements of a Polished Poetry Chapbook

Elements of a Polished Poetry Chapbook is intended to help poets put together a chapbook of poems that would have a professionally finished look and feel. We often see books that are beautiful and thoughtfully created. And we see others that are lacking in some respect. With just a little more attention to detail, these books would develop into the fine quality that the poems deserve.


Copyright and table of content pages

This brief book covers a number of details, from choosing a press name, to poem layout, to limited editions. The book shares information about each detail from the front cover to the back.


Pages about limited editions and what can go on the back cover.

Toward the back of the book, signed and numbered limited editions are explored. A limited edition book is a handsome way to present the poems as the valuable artworks they are. For poets who want to self-publish, I strongly suggest making their own handmade, limited editions. Maybe this book can help. It is available on my website.

I can’t believe how steadfast, true, and wonderful my friends are. I had a serious accident in early February, and even spent an overnight at the hospital. Once home again, I refused requests from friends to come visit, and basically just slept a lot, because I was trying to heal up as fast as possible. My friends kept thinking of me anyway, wishing me well in a variety of ways. I heard from them through the mail, emails, phone calls and from what Jim would tell me when he came home from whatever he was attending in town. My friends honestly helped hasten my healing process with the love they showed through their thoughtfulness and caring words.

Last week, Jeni Cottrell, Nancy Canyon and Linda Suther visited. They surprised me with a package.

Linda, Nancy and Jeni brought this package along.

On the outside, a pair of shiny green ribbons held a quilted book together. A tug on the ribbons, and the book opens.

“A flock of geese leave their lake and take wing, turning to poems in the sky.”

The first page was drawn by Laurie Potter. I love the geese! The quote is from SunWolf. Our pond is  just starting to have geese visit again. They are the poems that bring spring from wherever they come from.

This page is by the comic illustrator John McColloch. Of course. I used to watch Mr. Ed and Wilbur Post with my brothers back in the sixties. That was like yesterday, not. I always liked this smart horse. He was also a smarty pants.

Years before Hubble, I thrust myself far up into the night and saw that the constellations were wildly colored. This frightened me, so I swam a river at night waiting for the stars to resume their whiteness to adapt to my limits. —Jim Harrison

This quote from Amy Armitage (by Jim Harrison) shares the artist’s perspective on things. You have to wonder if the stars continue to be that wild, but let us see them in their whiteness so as not to scare us so much. Staring up into them at night is still startling. I’m glad they aren’t neon.

But Amy wrote an original poem just to make me laugh:

Her eyes are like moonbeams if moonbeams are green.
She’s shy but determined, on horses she’s keen.

She paints and she prints, designs posters and books.
She makes stuff from pond-scum, and even can cook.

Did I mention this woman can write a mean poem?
The bio o’ Anita; indeed it’s a tome!

—Amy Armitage

Ha ha ha, Amy, you did make me laugh. My face hurt, but I laughed anyway. You are a delight.

Linda Hughes, this is a command I’ll follow. Thanks! The drawings of the flowers offer more promises of spring coming soon. Thanks for them, too. They remind me of the cheerful blue-flowered teapot you made. 🙂 Tea from that pot is always extra special.

Ha ha. Denise Snyder is so funny. But sometimes I believe she means what she says. In the past, Deni has reminded me that we are good people. And that we, each of us, can sparkle, brightly, even, and we can be as creative as we can be, without worry, and be loved by many people. That’s a life worth living.

That’s the end of the book. But then, in the bag, is a handmade quilt, made like in the old days, with lots of people working together to make a quilt. I don’t know if they had an actual quilting bee, but they had that many people involved in the making of this thoughtful and detailed quilt. I have a tattered baby blanket that was made for me when I was a newborn. I love it, and this patchwork quilt is already a treasure.

This is the quilt!

The first thing that struck me when I saw this quilt was the number of friends that would have participated in making something like this. Then the idea that everyone wrote something directed at me, wishing me well, making me smile, giving support. Thank you, friends. Then the colors. They were thoughtfully chosen by people wishing me well. They are my colors. And then, the details kept showing up: perfect, thoughtful, caring, loving, poetic, artful, and sometimes very funny, too. You’ll see.

“Surround yourself with comfort and support of loved ones and you will always feel safe.”

The upper left square is by Shirley Erickson. Her words are refreshing and, yes, they actually did make me feel safe. She added extra stitches to this colorful square, little details that mean something special.

The lettering in this square, and several others, is by my good friend Nancy Canyon! Nicely done.

I love collaborations. Period. Poets with poets. Artists working together. Poets and artists. Musicians. Poets and musicians. Musicians and artists. This poem by Lana Ayers is after a painting by Nancy Canyon. Lana published my book What the Alder Told Me. I illustrated and published Lana’s book The Moon’s Answer. And quilters are collaborators, too! 

This poem by poet and artist Nancy Canyon, draws words together to create a safe and wonderful place to be. Evergreen smells so delicious.

Three poetic friends put their words on this square: Linda Suther, Sheila Sondik and Katie Humes. And a little bird, too.

Linda is part of my book group, The Fire Readers; Sheila is a poet and artist that is published by my Egress Studio Press; Katie Humes is a poet and writer; and all of these people are supportive members of our local arts community. Linda did the bulk of the final sewing of the quilt. She was amazingly careful with the details, and there were many. You’ll have to see it in person to get what I mean. Beautiful work.

About this point, you have to wonder how this project was put together. It’s kind of a miracle when a project is happening in a timely manner and there are a lot of “creatives” involved. The Idea Wizard, Jeni Cottrell, is the likely instigator, and the artists and poets around Bellingham and Whatcom County are known for their big hearts and their loving community. Deadline? Doesn’t matter. Our friends are accommodating, and willing to work together. Seems like it worked out just fine!

Renee Sherrer is the proud owner of Social Fabric on Commercial Avenue, downtown Bellingham. She is a fabric artist, and understands a sewing machine inside and out. At her store you can browse through amazing things to wear and see lots of great art, too.

Here is the “reveal” where the artist’s initials R.S. are hiding. R.S. = Renee Sherrer.

Right now, I feel more loved than I ever have, by friends and family. It feels very nice. Maybe even a little overwhelming. But certainly very nice.

If you look closely into this photo, you’ll see six French knots embroidered onto this square by Beverly Larson. French knots!

Beverly says smartly honest things, like “Life sometimes throws a big old bucket of whatever is has on you.” True. “To live is to Risk—pain or reward.” Sometimes it’s both. “Dare. Dare to live every day.” This is a worthwhile challenge. And Bev is reasonable, too: “Shake off what gets on you and wear the stains that you can’t get off.” I think I may have been a little “stained” by this accident. But I’ll be proudly wearing whatever I look like when I’m healed up. Even my lip thingy. But for now, I still want to stay away from most public things until I can get a few more teeth in my head. 🙂

Steve Satushek knows how to have fun as an artist. I’ve been invited to play in his studio, along with Harold, sometime soon, maybe this summer even.

This is a delightful artwork. The gestural lines are happy, maybe even singing.

Mary Oliver is a much loved poet across North America. This poem is well worth a good reading, as are many of her poems.

Jeni Cottrell and Lee Cole love poetry, and are both in my book group. Jeni’s in my art group, too. I keep looking at the details of this quilt—every square sends love and healing thoughts directly for my injury. I have been listening to the birds gather more and more every day as spring arrives. Their songs remind me of the friends whose words sing from this quilt. How can I not be grateful for each voice.

Marsha Culver is a fiber artist. She made her square from the color codes off the edges of several bolts of cloth. I like the colors very much. And the names, too. Poetry is everywhere. So is art.

Marsha is my beer-buddy at the monthly Tuesday Artists Group. Most of the ladies drink wine. She drinks wine, too. But she drinks beer with me. Such a good-friend thing to do. And she wished me the speediest of recoveries. I’m doing my best.


There is little that separates
the sky from the sea. Ahead of me
two figures walk the beach. Their bodies
graceful, true to their images. It is easy
to regard them. I gather a stone;
a blue heron glides to a large oak.
How predicable the world seems, your backs
turned toward me, trusting, like friends.
In the distance, people are shoveling
some type of clams, it hardly matters which,
the waves unfolding at my feet.

—Jeanne Yeasting

Mary Jo Maute, from my art group, is a prolific artist whose paintings are colorful abstractions that carry symbols and metaphors like poetry. This charming painting uses a different style from her usual, to send tender healing thoughts. She and her husband Ted visited here just last week. Even the sun came out.

Harold! Mr. Niven. You may know who he is as the guy who tie-dyes dollar bills in starkly vivid colors. I recently learned he discovered tie-dying in the bathroom of a moving train makes a great studio because the train’s back-and-forth movement sloshes the dye containers just right. Ogden Nash got celery right in this poem. Plus, being on a soft food diet certainly requires stewing before chewing.

This beautiful poem must be a clever collaboration between Caitlin and Jacob Jans. Maybe little June helped out, too.

All part of a pond
handmade and weather blessed
gentle green in the chorus of
friends around a table.

—Caitlyn and Jacob

Notes from Craig, Mike, Nancy and Jeff, Larry, Jim, Cricket, Prentiss, Wade, Ron, Mark and Barb.

This quilt square has messages from the Friday Night Bellingham Bar & Grill friends. It’s funny that it compares to the writings that can be found on a cast. They’re composed of well-wishes, toasts and even poetry. All thoughtfully full of the warmth of friends.

Ellen Bass is another nationally loved poet. She has a way of turning things around so we can see them differently. And she has a sense of humor that surprises.

Sue Erickson sent this poem square for the quilt. This is another way our arts community works together to get projects beautifully done, and efficiently, too. I love the poem, and may have to let myself be inspired by this Bass poem to write a poem about that horse I rode for the last year.

Robert Wrigley is a poet from Idaho who often writes about the rural life, describing the beauty, horror and pure wonder found in the natural world.

Nancy Pagh chose a poem that describes part of the deep relationship horses and humans can have. It’s generally built from mutual respect… but where the human might feel awe, a horse may experience fear. It depends. My old mares, Flicka and Moby, both enjoyed human companionship in a more gracious way than most of the horses I’ve met. I had them each for somewhere around twenty years, and they lived into their early thirties. I still miss them. Mr. Stetson? He was just catching on. The calm scent of the rain and the sun was on his breath, but the day of the accident, the silver thaw was in his eyes.

This square is from James Bertolino, my partner, friend, husband, and hero.

The afternoon of the accident, it was Jim who picked me up from the snow blushed red. A lucky thing for me, but still a tragedy for him. That’s the day he became my hero. We’ve had chickens now for a year, and Jim had come out of the house to gather the new eggs. The rooster has the most optimistic crow I’ve ever heard. Even at four in the morning, his voice rises like new hope.

Blocks of four squares divide the quilt. Each block uses cloth with flora coordinated with natural tones. They are sewn by several different people, and then Nancy Canyon sewed them into banner-like portions of the quilt. Those were then sewn together to finish the quilt by Linda Suther. Such a coordinated effort is difficult, but look how wonderfully it turned out.

As the complement of green, red plays a very important role in this quilt, accentuating my favorite color. As colors, green (for me) symbolizes the natural world, and red, of course, offers the meaning found in love.

This is the message of the quilt my friends have made. I love them, too.

Thank you, Jeni Cottrell, Linda Suther, Nancy Canyon, Shirley Erickson, Laurie Potter, John McColloch, James Bertolino, Linda Hughes, Amy Armitage, Lee Cole, Mary Jo Maute, Katie Humes, Renee Sherrer, Denise Snyder, Lana Ayers, Sheila Sondik, Beverly Larson, Steve Satushek, Marsha Culver, Jeanne Yeasting, Harold Niven, Caitlin and Jacob Jans, Sue Erickson, Nancy Pagh and the B.B. & G. Crowd (Craig, Jeff, Nancy, Mike, Wade, Ron, Mark, Barb, Cricket and Prentiss). And to all my other friends and family for being there, too. You know who you are. And so do I.

About the Accident—

On February 5th, the weather was snowy, everything covered in ice, the wind blowing enough to break branches and topple trees. The horse I’d been riding for a year or so, “Mr.” Stetson, was in my barn. By riding, I mean just that: I groomed and rode him, but didn’t feed him, trim hooves, or pay for vet visits during all that time. Perfect arrangement, in my opinion, because a horse needs to be groomed and ridden for his own health, and that helped with my own health. But this winter was a hard on him, and he had lost a lot of weight and had a bad case of rain rot, so I offered to house him in my barn, and give him some special care. He was here for a little more than three weeks, staying in an outdoor paddock during the day and a large, cozy stall in the barn at night. He’d already gained back a serious amount of weight, and had only the last bit of rain rot left. But the weather was still awfully cold. Snow and ice coated the electric fencing around the paddock, and pulled the strands to the ground, shorting it out. So after he was in the barn for more than twenty four hours, I decided I should at least take him for a walk. Well, to make a long story shorter, he was a little surprised at the difference that had happened outside while he was inside the darkness of the barn. It was a bright light gray outside, and that got his attention right away. The snow was deeper, the ice thicker, the wind was blowing, and a little ways in front of him at the pond, branches kept breaking, and crashing to the ground in a flurry. But he walked nicely beside me toward the pond anyway, lay down and rolled, even. At that, I let go of the lead rope because I know that horses tend to get frisky and prance around a bit, sometimes kick up their heels right when they get up from rolling. He did all of that—at a safe distance. I knew he wouldn’t go very far in the snow. I was right about that, too. So I picked up his lead rope, and began to walk him to the barn. I don’t remember what happened after that, except that as we headed back, he seemed happy enough. The next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital the next day.

Evidently, he gave me a huge smack right on my kisser, and knocked me out. What a guy! Jim (my hero) found me about twenty minutes later when he came out to see if the chickens had laid any eggs yet. He noticed Mr. Stetson standing out by the pond with his lead rope hanging down, which isn’t a normal thing around here. When he came out to see where I was, he found me unconscious, lying in the snow. Yes, Jim describes a pool of blood, at that point, but I don’t remember any of this. He put the horse in the barn, somehow walked me to the house, cleaned me up, and took me directly to the emergency room. When I woke up the next day, I had a concussion, five or six missing teeth, and a face that was like a Kodachrome balloon. Later, I learned that I had a Le Fort fracture (which is mid-face), leaving me with broken cheeks and upper jaw. Didn’t hurt much because the nerves quit working for a while, and my face went numb. For the next few weeks, I slept A LOT, and continue to feel the need for naps. I’m still on a soft food diet (i.e. liquid diet), for which it’s normal to lose ten pounds in the first couple weeks, which I dutifully did.

Somehow, word got around. I began to receive cards and emails and phone calls from my friends. But because I didn’t want to alarm them, and was too tired to stay awake, I decided not to have company except my son Isaac, and cyberspacely, my daughter Angela—my grownup kids. Well, actually, a couple friends did stop by, but my head had a hard time tracking conversation and staying awake during that time. So I decided not to have any more company until I could stay awake for most of the day, my color was close to normal, and the swelling was reduced a reasonable amount. And that’s the story of my accident. There are more details, of course, but this is probably more than enough. Right?


My face troubles were repaired in surgery, which left me with seven small titanium plates holding my cheeks and upper jaw together, and more than thirty screws holding them and my bones in place. The surgery was pretty intense, but I was asleep. I slept most of the time after, too, and nothing really hurt like you’d think it would. Of course, I slept through child-birthing twice, so maybe my pain threshold is higher than normal. (I woke up for the actual births, though. Hello, Angela. Hello, Isaac. My two miracles.) Now, I’m feeling pretty good. In late April, the University of Washington Advanced General Dentistry will give me a call and schedule appointments to fix my teeth up. Then you can expect to see my face around town a little more. 🙂

For the past year or so, I’ve been busy with family things, and neglected a lot of my art&poetry-focussed things (i.e. my business). But, I’ve recently made another schedule, one with a (hopefully) doable plan for publishing a couple of extremely patient poets; for making and showing my artworks; and for putting together a poetry manuscript of my own. The family things more serious and personal than I’d like to mention in this blog.

The two poets I mention have very likely been grumbling about their book not getting done, and I certainly wouldn’t blame them if they were. In fact, I’d encourage them to complain, at least a little. The recent and future books by Egress Studio Press are handmade, limited editions that contain artwork, and so they take more time to publish than usual, and require stretches of time dedicated to them alone. I describe them as poetry art-books, and I’m going public now by saying I think they’ll be ready by June. I will be hard at work on them until then.

I’m making some progress on the artwork for the cover of both, and the interior of one. That’s mainly what I want to show in this posting. One will have a few original linoleum block prints in the hard cover, and copies of them in the soft cover version. The other will have a monotype reprint on the cover. And those are the main focus of my thoughts right now.


This is what I’m working on for the cover of one of the books. These are monoprints, and I’ll be making several more before I’m through. Those two on the upper right are just me goofing around with color and paper and texture and the et ceteras that come from the draft form of art. I see I have a ways to go before I have the final version.


These are sketches for the second book. I’m trying out layouts for linoleum block prints. Each of these has possibilities, but the final will look different from these. The book will have five or six of them, including the cover.

You’ve probably already seen The Moon’s Answer by Lana Ayers. The pen and ink illustrations took quite a while to complete. But the final layout and assembly of the books still required a lot more time before project completion. Currently, all the soft covers are finished and have been in the hands of readers since the summer of 2016. The six casebound books were finished in November 2016. And I am looking forward to finishing the final three accordion books later this year.


Hard copies of The Moon’s Answer. On the lower left are the six casebound books with handmade paper on the cover and endpapers. Top and right is the accordion book, with all the interior and exterior papers using two colors of handmade paper.


In this close up of the front cover, you can see the crosshatching that is a part of every illustration in the book, and is on the hand-dyed lavender paper. The moon is cut out of the lavender paper and pasted onto a yellow paper to create the two-color presentation, as it is throughout the accordion books. 


All of the books are signed and numbered by the author and illustrator on the page opposite the colophon. (Sorry for the out-of-focus photo. I’m in a rush.)


The previously mentioned schedule requires that I keep this blog updated with what’s happening at Egress Studio.  All I have to do is follow this schedule a minimum of 75% of the time, and I’ll stay on course. Wish me luck. So far, so good. I’ll post about the manuscript I’m putting together later on, as well as other posts about the poets and artists around the Northwest.