Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Handmade Book

Over the past week I've had fun working on a handmade book of poems and images, and coming up with some new techniques in the process.

The starting point was this handmade book that I bought from Yucca Valley artist Tobi Taboada back in December at the 29 Palms Gallery Crafts Show. Tobi told me that she acquired the walnut-dyed cover sheet from Cave Paper in Minneapolis, a handmade paper studio that's located in, you guessed it, a cave. The inside pages are mulberry paper made by Tobi herself.

Even though the mulberry sheets are quite thin, they are strong, and I decided to try running them through my HP 600 dpi laser printer. It worked! I attached each sheet to a regular sheet of 8.5x11 paper with a glue stick applied to the leading edge. After printing, the backing sheet peeled apart easily with no sticky residue.

I also wanted to use photographic images. This required a lot of experimentation. I took some of Bill's color photos and converted them to black and white in Microsoft Photo Editor, lightening them up to avoid saturating the paper with too much toner. The slightly ghost-like effect is just what I wanted.

The typeface for the poems is Papyrus.

I have always loved the process of bookmaking and look forward to doing more projects like this. I'm taking part in a "book collaborators group" in which each person makes a book and others contribute to it in a round-robin format--this is providing lots of inspiration.

Special thanks to Tobi for restitching the book after I disassembled it for printing!

Other poetry news: my book-length manuscript, "Invoking the Salamander," was recently named a finalist in the Cider Press Review competition. Thanks to my guardian angel Carla Riedel for strongly suggesting that I enter the contest.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stormy Weather

As was true all over California, the big news this week has been the weather. We got our share of both rain and snow, often in the same day. The ruts along our dirt road are the biggest we've ever seen! The above photo was taken early in the week from the foot of our driveway, before the ruts really got started.

There was drama in the sky as clouds moved in and out with lightning speed.

This morning we woke up to a final dusting of snow and a temperature of 26 degrees. I put on my parka over my robe, pajamas, and long underwear and went out to take these pictures just after the sun came up.

Bunny tracks everywhere!

I climbed the hill behind our house and took this picture looking west. Geologic time fascinates me. I love these hills because they're younger versions of the rockier outcroppings around our house. In who knows how many thousand years, the dirt will be eroded away and they'll be rocky outcroppings, too.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hall of Horrors

Bill and I decided that we'd like to visit all the marked pull-out areas in Joshua Tree National Park. There are a lot of them, so this will be a good project for 2010! We started with the Hall of Horrors. Always wondered what was so scary about it. Nothing, it turns out. In fact, this particular area is often used as a training ground for novice rock climbers. The above photo makes me think of a spaceport for rocks.

There are just an endless array of interesting rocks, as shown below.

The photo below shows what I call "the San Gorgonio effect." It seems that no matter where you go in the Morongo Basin, when you look over your shoulder you're likely to see Mt. San Gorgonio. That's its snow-capped self in the far distance, blue on the horizon.

In the last photo, the big hill in the background is part of another area to explore across the road. We'll get there eventually!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Road Trip: Prescott, Arizona

My parents live in Prescott, Arizona. This past week Bill and I drove over for a visit, as did my brother, Steve, and niece, Kim. A good time was had by all! (Above, left to right: Steve, Kim, Bill, Mom, and Dad)

We were out for a walk on the Peavine Trail, which runs along an old railroad bed past Watson Lake to Granite Dells. Here are Steve and Kim on the trail.

We passed a lot of geese along the lake shore, and a lot of lichens on the rocks along the trail.

The real prize was the dells, shown here. The water in the foreground is covered by ice! (Nighttime temperatures were in the 20s. We had thick frost on our car windshield in the mornings.)

Good food on this trip included my mom's homemade soup, corn muffins, and lemon bars; a dinner at Murphy's in downtown Prescott; and my brother Steve's excellent chicken cacciatore, which he made one night with Bill as sous chef.

We like taking the back roads through the wide open spaces. On this trip we allowed extra time for Bill to photograph the derelict desert towns along the way. Look for those photos in a future post!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Beautiful Days in the Neighborhood

Happy New Year, everyone!

We've had a peaceful week with a mix of lovely, clear weather and interesting clouds. Just about every day we take a walk around the neighborhood. Above are some of our four-legged neighbors. The view is looking east, in the direction of Pioneertown. On a clear day, as in the photo at the right, we can see the snow-covered peak of Mt. San Gorgonio as we make our loop.

The view above, taken from the hill behind our house, shows the view looking east. The smaller photo at the right shows a bit of the southern view, which borders on Joshua Tree National Park.

Recently we had a very unusual event at our house. I was talking on the phone when there was a loud crash. Assuming yet another bird (most likely a dove) had flown into a window, I went out to the sunroom to investigate--and there was a hawk lying unconscious on the ground!

Here he is. He did recover and fly away. The poem below tells the story.

Doves, Not Hawks

It’s doves, not hawks
that fly into our windows.
But on a clear morning
in December, a juvenile Cooper’s
proved otherwise.
There was the crash,
the dark shape falling fast,
fifteen feet to the ground.
He lay supine on the gravel
and came to slowly, quivering.
The desert held back,
let him move his head,
find his feet, stand stiffly
and test one wing, then the other.
He stayed, tail feathers spread,
until his yellow eye turned resolute.
Then he flew to the low branches
of a juniper, intact, as though nothing
had happened. Later I found
two ghost prints on the glass,
where he fell, and at another window.
If he could err twice and be forgiven,
this inscrutable world
may be kinder than we know.