creativity

When I took Sherrie York's field journal workshop at Rocky Mountain Land Library's Buffalo Peaks campus in August, I came home inspired and vowed to make sketching a part of my creative routine. "I'll do a few sketches every week," I told myself. 

liminal - adj. [technical]

1. of or relating to an initial or transitional stage of a process

2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a threshhold. 

origin: late 19th century; from Latin limen, limin 'threshhold' 


Last weekend at the time I would normally write a blog post, I was in Silver City, New Mexico, with my co-teacher Dawn Wink, preparing for the final days of an intense and incredible Write & Retreat workshop. We had reached that exhilarating point where everyone was on a creative high, and feeling so good about the writing, our discussions, and the new perspectives we had gain on our work that we didn't want it the workshop to end.



Since my word for 2016 is abundance, I decided to give myself the gift of taking the time to do some of the things I have never "had time for" (read: given myself time for). One of those pursuits is coloring. Perhaps because I grew up with a colorblind mother--Mom saw the world in black, white, and shades of gray--light and color have always fascinated me.


At Kent Haruf's memorial service in Salida a few months ago, the Wyoming writer Mark Spragg told a story he had heard Kent tell that struck a chord with me. I recently found that story again in "The Making of a Writer," a memoir-essay Kent wrote for the magazine Granta.

If you've ever finished a big project of whatever sort, one that took months or years, and required a kind of intensity and focus that left you feeling hulled out at the end of each day, you know something of what I'm feeling after sending my new memoir, the story I call Bless the Birds off to my agent last Monday.

I live in a small house by choice. I like compact spaces and I like living simply. I also want to be comfortable, efficient with energy and materials, and happy in my space. And after living for almost 29 years with a sculptor who could and did design and build anything, I'm picky about details.

So even though my little house and its companion garage/studio were finished last year, I'm still completing a few projects. Today's was a combination of design and whimsy.

American Bushtits feeding on seedheads in a native rubber rabbitbush shrub. American Bushtits feeding on seed heads in a native rubber rabbitbush shrub. (Look closely and you'll see four of them--two of the tiny birds are inside the bush, two are on top. They live in flocks and chatter while they feed, so I often hear them before I see them.)

Gratitude (noun) The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. From the Latin, gratis, meaning, "pleasing," "thankful"

As one year transitions into the next, I like to stop and take time to appreciate the gifts of the year about to pass before I make my list of hopes, dreams and resolutions for the year to come. (If you can't stop and appreciate where you've been, you won't really be able to appreciate where you're going either.)

So here's my list of gratitudes from 2014:

The last few leaves on Ruby's cottonwood. The last few leaves cling to the branches of Ruby's cottonwood behind Treehouse. They were still green last time I thought I was finished with this manuscript.
Terrace of the Golden Hotel, the main conference venue, overlooking Clear Creek. Terrace of the Golden Hotel, the main conference venue, overlooking Clear Creek.
The sunset tonight when I started writing this blog post reminded me of the way we often begin a piece, tentatively, scribbling. The sunset tonight when I started writing this blog post--a scribbled beginning.
My front and side yard "wildscapes," mountain prairie restoration projects-in-progress. My front and side yard "wildscapes," mountain prairie restoration projects-in-progress.

I exhausted myself this weekend engaging in plant therapy. That's a good thing.

Dr. William Austin Cannon, my maternal great-grandfather, out researching the Sonoran Desert near Tucscon, Arizona, in the early 1900s. Photo: Arizona Historical Society Library My great-grandfather, Dr. William Austin Cannon, out researching the Sonoran Desert near Tucson, Arizona, in the early 1900s.

Last spring, I finished the initial draft of Bless the Birds, the memoir I've been working on about Richard's and my journey with his brain cancer. A journey I hope will show us all how to live with love even in--especially in--the most difficult times.

New year, new moon--and long nights.... New year, new moon--and long nights....

This time of year as the long nights of winter yield much-too-gradually to the turn of our hemisphere toward light and warmth, I spend time deliberately tallying my blessings.

Not in a superficial, oh-isn't-life-wonderful way.

The biologist out in the field before being promoted to desk work and people-management. The biologist out in the field before being promoted to desk work and people-management.

I've always been drawn to stories of women who chart their own paths, walking boldly outside the lines we draw in life. On my desk are two such books, equally compelling although the stories couldn't be more different. Here's a peak at each:

Richard and Susan in the Tularosa Basin of Southern New Mexico, around 1992. Richard and Susan in the Tularosa Basin of Southern New Mexico, around 1992.
The view into the master bathroom with the counter in place. The view into the master bathroom with the new counter in place. It is supported by a "rail" screwed to the wall, and one sculptural steel support.