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.

Meet Grantangle


This cozy shawl accompanied me around Juneau and on trips this spring, and because the yarn was sent to me without a label, I didn’t even know what I was working with. Except that is was silk. And wool. And lovely. I was thrilled to find out that it was Carpet Bag. One of the new yarns from Mrs. Crosby.


The shawl had its debut at the recent TNNA (needle arts trade show) in Indianapolis, but I wasn’t able to tell you about it until now, because it’s just been published in the most recent issue of Knitty. (Yes. Crochet in Knitty. I know. I’m still giddy about the concept, and so grateful to editor Amy Singer for allowing Miriam Felton and I to show how knitting and crochet play well together.)


Our current column is a step-by-step guide to creating your first granny square. And then, to get lots of practice while creating something pretty and wearable, there’s Grantangle, which isn’t a square, it’s a rectangle using the granny stitch.

Miriam and I will be talking more about granny squares in our blogs, including stories of our grandmother’s granny squares, so stay tuned.

So you want a ukulele?

I’m so glad! The more the better. The ukulele is an amazing little instrument because in a matter of minutes you can be making music and singing with friends. Of course, like any instrument you can spend time and effort to become more proficient, but you’ll be having fun right away.

There are so many options… how do you choose? To me, it seems similar to any purchase you care about. You buy the best that you can afford. Set your budget ahead of time. If you know you can only spend $100, visit a music store (better with a friend who can already play a little) and strum a few. See which instruments sing to you. Sing back! See which ones you like to sing with. A caveat to that is–if you’ve got money to burn, you may want to hold back in the beginning and get a nice, affordable ukulele. When you feel more proficient, no matter what you bought first, you’re going to want another, and another. There are lots of varieties of ukes. Begin with a soprano or a concert. I really like the Cordoba CM 15. You can find it in a package for under $100 that includes a case and a tuner.

Even if you’re buying an instrument for a really young child, I recommend not buying a toy. For about fifty dollars, you can have a ukulele that is pleasant to play and will last a kid until they are good enough to want something better. Try the Makala a plywood uke made by Kala.

Like I said, you can go to a music store to try out ukes. You can also find a ukulele jam in your area. Try googling “ukulele jam” and the name of your town. In Juneau, the Jambusters meet on Sundays from 11-1 at the Prospector Hotel Restaurant. All are welcome. You get a chance to see a lot of different ukes at a jam, and most of the time, folks will let you hold and strum them too. It’s a great way to check out what you might want and hear what musicians have to say about them.

UPDATE: Do consider used ukuleles. Borrow one from a friend that might be collecting dust. Check Craigslist and garage sales. Instruments that are cared for get better with age. If you buy an old instrument, put new strings on it, and it might really shine.

If you have more questions, feel free to ask in the comments!