Oh, Stella…


I have a new crush. I haven’t been talking about her because I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings (Ukuleles can be so sensitive!). Her name is Stella, and while we’ve been living together for a few months, we’re just finally getting to know each other.

New love can hurt a bit! I have sore finger tips because I’m unaccustomed to steel strings, and my head aches from learning new chord shapes, but I’m having a wonderful time.

Stella is about nine years older than me, and she’s come through her 52 years relatively unscathed.

We met a couple of years ago, when my friend John found her hanging around the thrift store, and brought her home for a song.

He gave her some attention and TLC, and even hand made her a leather jacket to go over her original case.


Then John found another 4-string, a hefty Brazilian quatro that fit his playing style better. Stella languished at home, alone. I had nearly forgotten about her when he mentioned in April that he’d be taking her to the Folk Fest music swap. I saved him the trouble and bought this sweet tenor guitar for his asking price. If I practice, maybe someday we’ll make beautiful music together!


UPDATE: Guess who else played a Stella Tenor Guitar?

The King and his H929TG (Stella Tenor Guitar)

Worm’s-Eye View


Worm’s-Eye View

“Things are changing too fast,”
says the grandmother, 73.

“She doesn’t have to use the new things,”
says the daughter, 15, digital native,
born in the third month of a new millennium.

The Thinkers say we’ve progressed
as much in last 15 years
as we did in the previous one hundred.

The great-grandmother, 98, sends an email.

The Thinkers say that by 2025, they’ll be out of a job.

The brains they are building out of zeros and ones
will be as good, and then better than theirs.

What will be the literature of the Next Intelligence?

Will they be poets, preferring the obsessive forms?

Will they possess a creativity so advanced
it’s unrecognizable?

Art, as pleasing to us, as ours is to an earthworm.


(National Poetry Month Challenge, Day 5. Thanks to Tim Urban for getting me thinking about artificial intelligence.)

Eleven Things I Did Not Write a Poem About


Eleven things I did not write a poem about

  1. The leak in my bathroom
  2. The new squeak from my car
  3. Sunshine or ukuleles
  4. The angst of adolescence
  5. Airplanes
  6. My mountains of laundry
  7. Moonrise over the mountain
  8. Peeps
  9. Red plastic cups in a pyramid on my window bench
  10. Alarm clocks
  11. You.


(Days 3 and 4 of the National Poetry Month Challenge)

Deep Thoughts from the Back Seat (A Haiku)

“I think,” the boy said
“Many decisions for kids
start with candy.”(Day Two of the National Poetry Month challenge.)

Broken Pastry

Broken Pastry


Broken Pastry

My grandmother’s pie crusts were perfect.
Fragile containers holding the sweet fruits
of her small hands’ hard work.

My own crusts were hard and tough
as I experimented and strayed
from tradition. Until someone taught me
a method I could master.

Cold fat.
Hot water.

Science and uncertainty.
Instinct of spice and smell
mixed with precision
of volume and temperature.

The proof is in the breaking.


(Poem #1 in the National Poetry Month Challenge. I was challenged by Don Rearden. Last year I got to about day 12. We’ll see what happens this time!)

Hanging in there…

Hanging in there…


The last couple weeks I got some stuff done (like I had an article published an article in the Capital City Weekly), and made progress on other stuff, but not without the obligatory productive procrastinating.

For instance, I finally made use of the instrument hanging hack I learned from my friend Rhonda. If you’re like me, and you’re house is filled with stringed music makers that are safer off the ground, you may want to try this too. I made two in less than five minutes (after thinking and procrastinating and collecting the right materials for weeks). The first two I hung are Jay’s guitar and baritone uke, and now, voilà! They’re still within his arms reach, and won’t get accidentally kicked over.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sturdy picture hangars
  • A scrap of heavy leather
  • Scissors
  • A hammer

Hang the picture hangar where you’d like your instrument to rest.


Cut a piece of leather about  1.5″ wide and 4″ long. Then cut it in half but only 2/3 of the way, making two ends. Then fold and snip a hole in each end big enough for a tuning peg to fit though.


Slide each end over a tuning peg. (I chose the lower peg so the strap itself won’t show on the wall).


Hang your instrument on the wall. That’s it!


Fire and Fiber Break the Ice


For the month of March, my students from my latest artist in the schools residency at Juneau Douglas High School are exhibiting their work in the gift shop at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center.

The lovely folks at the JACC let us transform a portion of their lobby gift shop with the twelve collaborative ceramic and felt pieces the students made.

The residency was an unusual collaboration. I taught wet felting to beginning ceramics students, and in the same two weeks they learned the basics of working with clay, while they made and glazed beads to go on their felted pieces.


Heather Ridgway, the ceramics teacher, and I wanted to create a mixed media exploration of social pressures and communication. The students began the semester with a visit from members of the Sources of Strength suicide prevention program. The Sources of Strength exercises ignited thinking and conversation about the power of diverse relationships.


The classes created felted fabric and ceramic beads, designing and assembling their pieces collaboratively while reflecting on the artistic concepts of unity, emphasis, and juxtaposition. As we had hoped,  their pieces demonstrate how the fragility and strength of wool echo the fragility and strength of human connection.

Please Use Me


This is my favorite find from a recent trip to Anchorage. I was wondering through a sweet little shop downtown called Balliwick. The shop is small and well-curated with a sense of humor. And the last time I was there in December, I found a wonderful Irish sweater from the 1960s that was barely worn. But that’s a story for another post.

I don’t know how old this linen napkin is, exactly, but I’m guessing 1950s. What do you think?

These days it’s not uncommon to introduce snarkiness and irony into crafts, and humor rightly challenges and subverts the expectation that handcrafts are staid or old fashioned. I love that. So, while it would be silly to assume that our predecessors had any less fun than we do with needle and thread, it’s great to have stumbled again upon a little proof.

This is kind of the perfect image for today…


My girl, playing an old resonator guitar, outside, in Alaska, in February. The guitar, the scooter, the garage, even the vest on her back belong to our friend John who was taking a break from repairing shoes in his garage shoe shop to jam with our friend Reed. Or maybe he was taking a break from jamming to work on some shoes, which is how Selma sweet talked her way into the resonator and the vest.

Food for Adventurers, Part 1

Salmon & Cheese Egg Muffins

Lately, I’ve been musing about how to feed those I love this summer as they wander off to various adventures at land and sea. I want treats that are not only delicious, but also nutrition-packed and portable. Somebody shared a recipe the other day, and my first thought was: that would be delicious with smoked salmon. So, I went and created my own version of savory, eggy muffins with an Alaskatarian twist. Frankly, my brood are all off on adventures right now and I have the kitchen to myself for days, so I’ll probably freeze the ones I didn’t gobble up for dinner.

This is a flourless recipe, but you wouldn’t notice that if I hadn’t told you. The muffins are made with almond meal and flax meal–you could easily use a cup of whole wheat flour instead of the nut and seed meals if that sounded yummier or just easier to you.

Salmon & Cheese Egg Muffins

Preheat the oven to 350F.

1/2 c. almond flour
1/2 c. flax meal
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. dried dill weed
several grinds of cracked pepper.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

4 eggs
1 T. olive oil
1/2 c. manchego cheese, shredded
4 oz. soft goat cheese (chèvre) crumbled in 1/2 inch chunks (you can substitute cream cheese)
1 jar of smoked red salmon

Whisk together the eggs and oil in a separate bowl. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients until combined. Gently stir in the salmon, cheese, and goat cheese, so the cheeses and salmon stay in large chunks. Pour the batter into a greased muffin tin. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin.

Serve hot or at room temperature. To store, cool completely and wrap tightly before freezing muffins individually.

Makes about 10 muffins.