Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Who Could Ask for More?

I love the tools of my trade–a drafting table filled with tubes and pots of paint, bottles of ink, an array of brushes, colored pencils, and blocks of thick watercolor paper. Add to the mixture a beautiful Polyphemus moth (which I drew for my new book), feathers, and a dragonfly that I made out of two maple seeds glued onto a twig.

Simple pleasures. I just glanced up and saw this lobster boat hauling traps off our ledge.

Who could ask for more?

Blessings from a little green Maine island,


Monday, July 20, 2009

Fireflies and Falling Stars

Delicious, satiny, star-flecked nights entice us outdoors for long walks. We carry along our little bat detector and track the bats whizzing past us. The detector picks up and magnifies their sonar clicks. Jeff and I hold hands as we walk down our one lane dirt road along Little Harbor and the bats fly over, around, and between us.

Fireflies are flickering through the bayberries, blueberries, and grasses on the ocean side of our yard. The female fireflies stay put at the tops of grasses and bushes, and flash greetings in answer to the males who lilt through the darkness like falling stars. All science aside, I always thought that fireflies were lanterns carried by the garden faeries during their night flights and rambles.

Jeff crouched down in the bushes and spent a half hour trying to photograph some of them. He would quickly flash a small light, and the fireflies (who thought he was a BIG firefly) responded brightly, which helped him track them to their hide-outs. He finally triumphed with this photo. Hard to believe that this humble looking beetle can produce so much magic.


A little light is going by,
Is going up to see the sky,
A little light with wings.

I never could have thought of it,
To have a little bug all lit
And made to go on wings.

Elizabeth Madox Roberts

We try to eat every meal outdoors in our tiny screened porch. We don't have electricity out there, but we do have old "LIGHTNING" canning jars filled with a layer of beach sand and outfitted with candles. Everything tastes better when we're outdoors, serenaded by the crashing waves, and enchanted by the quick hieroglyphics of fireflies against the night sky.

Sweet dreams-think of the sound of the sea and the faeries lighting their way with tiny lanterns,


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Racing (Slowly) Toward the Finish Line

When the weather is stormy, I am happy to stay indoors and paint or write, but give me a perfect day (like today), and I long to be walking along the cove in search of mermaid's tears. I am thankful to be working in the peace and beauty of our little island. Today when I read my morning poems, I found this bit of rhyme from an old Rachel Field book called Taxis and Toadstools.

If Once You Have Slept on an Island

If once you have slept on an island
You'll never be quite the same;
You may look as you looked the day before
And go by the same old name,

You may bustle about in street and shop;
You may sit at home and sew,
But you'll see blue water and wheeling gulls
Wherever your feet may go.

You may chat with the neighbors of this and that
And close to your fire keep,
But you'll hear ship whistle and lighthouse bell
And tides beat through your sleep.

Oh you won't know why, and you can't say how
Such change upon you came,
But–once you have slept on an island
You'll never be quite the same!

I have only about 20 more small spot illustrations to be done and then the package of art work will be sent FedEx to Workman Publishing in New York. Awaiting the arrival of the art is Amy Trombat, the talented, young designer who is laying out the pages.

This book took nearly 2 1/2 years to complete with thousands of hours spent testing, growing, drawing, and photographing along the way, but what a wonderful thing it is to make a living doing something you love. I can sit in my tiny studio on this magical little island and draw faerie foods and houses and a host of other small things that make life so beautiful and magical.

Blessings from our little green island,


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Turtle Trumps Time Table

Ok, so I am on a tight, tight schedule, but I must always remember to prioritize what is important and what is simply a manmade imperative.

Life, that is what is important, and no matter how tight the deadlines I must stop when I see a turtle in the road and usher it across safely.

Jeff has watched nervously as I've jumped out of the way of oncoming trucks, ticked off drivers, eluded snapping turtle attacks, and dodged a stream of pee (which turtles release when frightened).

Now, Jeff has stocked our car with a snow shovel, which is infinitely useful for picking up turtles and avoiding pee and bites.

Ah life, precious life. Nothing is more important.

Blessings from my little green island,


Here is a post script because of a great e-mail I received from Kathy Martin, an herbalist in Canada. "Yes, life is the priority in the midst of all the busyness. And I am going to put a shovel in my trunk for all the turtles which I hesitate to pick up because of snapping." Hurrah Kathy! And to all of you out there I should have mentioned that my snow shovel is child-sized so that it fits in my car easily.