Monday, December 5, 2011

A Tiny Winter Garden

A treasury of paperwhite bulbs ...

... and a pile of scavenged beach glass ...

... in a pretty glass ...

... a little winter garden for the kitchen.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Beating Better Butter

Ms. Cream, meet Mr. Beaters
Unleashing the potential...

...and the dance begins...

...ten minutes later...

...five minutes after that...

...and after a good shaking in a mason jar...

voila! beurre!

Monday, November 7, 2011

What Is Intimacy?

Join us for an open-ended conversation about intimacy: What is intimacy? Is it connection with another? A feeling of being known, loved, or supported? A sense of belonging? Why do we seek intimacy? To feel acknowledged? Cared for? Safe? And why, if we long for intimacy, do we often avoid or even destroy it? 
Bring to this conversational adventure a willingness to risk sharing your ideas and experiences--and be open to leaving with an aha! or two and a new experience of intimacy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
6:30-8:00 pmZen Dog Tea House Gallery
2015 NW 85th St. Seattle, WA
$5.00 donation for tea

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Couch Concert: Bobby Jo Valentine

Bobby Jo Valentine

The next salon will be a Couch Concert this Saturday, November 5, from 6:30 to 9 pm, at my cabin on Vashon. My friend Bobby Jo Valentine will be performing a free concert in exchange for lodgings (we met on CouchSurfing, thus the "Couch Concert"). You can check out his music here

Join us for a fresh farm dinner from 6:30 to 7:30, after which Bobby Jo will play a pair of sets, with a dessert break in between. We'll finish in plenty of time for mainlanders to catch the 9:55 ferry back to Seattle. You're also invited to stay on for tea, conversation, random music jamming, and games.

So bring a bottle of wine and a friend and join us for a cozy, relaxing evening. Consider coming early and making a day of it, enjoying the island's gorgeous fall colors, our well-stocked fall farm stands, and our peaceful forest and beach walks.

For directions, more information, or to co-create a future salon, contact me at

Monday, October 24, 2011

Take Back Your Time Day

Today is the ninth annual Take Back Your Time Day. In the words of the day’s founder, John de Graaf, the day is “a nationwide initiative to challenge the epidemic of overwork, overscheduling, and time famine that now threatens our health, our families, our communities, and our environment.” October 24 was chosen as Take Back Your Time Day because it falls nine weeks before the end of the year, symbolizing the fact that the average American now works a full nine weeks longer each year than the average European. Learn more about the Take Back You Time movement at or check out de Graaf’s book Take Back Your Time: Fighting Overwork and Time Poverty in America.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Marketing Strategies for Freelancers

I'm going to wander a little more than usual in this post, into an area that one may not think of as creative: marketing. I recently attended the Northwest Independent Editors Guild's third Red Pencil conference. If you're a freelance editor hibernating in her cozy Pacific Northwest den, you don't want to miss this event; it's unerringly inspiring and a great way to meet other grammatically hip lone wolves.

This year, we were treated to such saucy sessions as "Twitter for Word Lovers" with business consultant Catherine Carr, "Just Enough Marketing for Freelancers" with digital technology consultant Frank Catalano, and "Subversive Copyediting" with The Chicago Manual of Style's very own Carol Fisher Saller.

Here are my notes from the marketing session (although I have to admit that I couldn't keep up with Frank's generous and brilliant flow of advice).

A. Start with a strategy. This is not a to-do list; it's an approach. A key message. Ask yourself what you do best that no one else can do. Then create the following (the more specific you are, the more successful you'll be):

1. Customers. Who are your ideal customers? Where do they work? What are their job titles? What is their motivation for hiring you? For whom are you considered an expert?

2. Competition. Who do your customers see as your competitor? This may be different from who you see as your competitor. In the case of freelance editors, for example, this could be editing software, online editing mills, bad writing, and so on.

3. Core Competencies. What are you really good at? What are your skills? What is your area of expertise? What approach do you bring? What kinds of clients do you work with?

4. Course. Triangulate points 1, 2, and 3 to chart your course.

B. Once you're charted your course and know who your potential clients are you, can get busy applying the following marketing tactics. Of the 9 key modern marketing tactics, Frank picked out the 5 that will give freelance editors the most bang for their buck. Keep in mind that if it doesn't reach your core clients, you shouldn't do it.

1. PR and Social Media. (Your Publicist.) Use social media to establish your area of expertise and put you in front of potential clients. Twitter is your broadcaster. LinkedIn is your digital CV. Remember: You're not trying to reach everybody--just 2 or 3 good responses that will bring you work and keep you busy.

2. Direct Marketing. Always follow up after you make a connection with someone, preferably by pointing them to a resource. Include your contact info. Handwritten notes always stand out.

3. Website. (Your Front Door.) Your website is the landing place for all of your marketing efforts. You can use it to link to your presence everywhere else (social media, blogs, other websites for other projects, and so on). It only needs to be a few pages and should include the following:

     - a succinct, specific description of what you do, for whom you do it, and how to reach you
     - high-profile resources (articles you've written, content, notes from conferences [voila!])
     - your physical location (at least the city or time zone)
     - a phone number or Google voice number
     - your photo
     - links to social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)

You could also include:

     - testimonials from 3 or 4 clients     
     - a list of clients

Don't include:

     - a list of fees
     - dated references (check and update every 2 to 3 months)

Frank also recommends owning a domain and using that domain name for your e-mail.

4. Events. Take advantage of public speaking opportunities--especially in front of your target audience. This gets your name out there as an expert.

5. Packaging. This is you.

You can learn more in Frank's blog posts "Myths and realities of marketing" and "Build a web presence ecosystem" and by visiting his website

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Perfect Autumn Lunch

The first ripe tomatoes of the year...

...with homemade almond pesto and fresh mozzarella.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Better than Money

A good conversation is worth its weight in gold, but it's not easy to buy chai with one. Earlier this month, we muses met to discuss creative alternatives to the current financial system. Here are some of the things we came up with:

Bitcoins: Peer-to-peer electronic currency. Find out more by clicking here.

Life Dollars: A cooperative economy with members around the world. Read more here.

Community Exchange System: Public domain money created by its users. More here.

Seattle Barter Network: Direct and organized local trading. More here.

Seattle Freecycle: Dedicated to reusing everything possible. More here.

Seattle Transpartisan Alliance: A movement to create local transportation. More here.

Washington State Investment Trust: Join a state-owned and -run bank. More here.

Silver Coins: More here.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Alternative Economics

What are you doing to bolster your bank account in these insecure times? Stuffing your mattress with gold bars? Bartering? Toying with digital currencies such as bitcoins? Investing in local currencies? Financing your neighbors' personal debts?

Bring your best practices, "crazy" ideas, or last-minute Googlings and join us for a casual discussion about how to take back power from a financial oligarchy that has crippled our economy. After a short presentation on the current crisis, we will explore practical ways to reclaim personal financial security by moving outside of the system.

Find us this Friday at the Tea House Gallery at 2015 NW 85th Street in Greenwood from 6 to 9. We'll be in the gallery upstairs or outside in the new gazebo. Zen Dog will be pouring his famous and fabulous brews. (A donation for tea is suggested.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ancient Pleasures

Ahhhh...sweet chai!
Huzzah! Or perhaps I should say Hafiz! 
The Muse was definitely with us on Saturday as we caroused and created with abandon. We also took time to treat ourselves to some of the most ancient of pleasures: Sufi poetry, honeyed mean, and a big bright bonfire.

My Most Excellent Friend came up from Portland to paint, make tea sandwiches, and rouse our spirits with his delicious honeyed mead. Allie Cat painted her own charming masterpiece and channeled Hafiz for us over chai and naan. FirF the Brave forged some drawings from a book of Alexander Calder’s animal sketches (we won't tell if you won't). And I began my first painting in years, Goddesses Are Not Ectomorphs.

A Master of Abstraction at work
Painting Goddesses with a fairy goblet of wine.


We live on the Sun’s playground.

Everyone gets what they want.

Sometimes the body of a beautiful woman,
Sometimes the body of a beautiful man,
Sometimes the body of both
In one.

We used to play that kind of tag
In the animal world too.

Now a mouse,
Now a tiger,
Look! I am a whale--I got tired of the land,
Went back to the ocean for a while.

What power is it in our sinew and mind
That will not die,

That keeps us shopping for the perfect dress?

We have all heard the Flute Player
And keep dancing
Toward Him.

You have seen the Flute Player
And cannot help but

--from The Gift, poems by Hafiz

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Creative Abandon

Do you have a creative project that’s been languishing under the bed for years? Or perhaps a brilliant idea that’s still just a twinkle in your eye? Well, gather it up, bring it to the salon, and abandon it. That’s right. Let it go. Anything can happen next. Another salonista may be inspired to start it for you, collaborate on it with you, steal it from you, or even spark you to finally launch into it yourself.

All art forms are welcome, however raucous, ungainly, or neglected. 

If this salon wreaks some happy havoc, we’ll be making it a regular.

Creative Abandon Salon
Saturday, August 20, from noon to midnight
The Indoor-Outdoor Chai Palace on Vashon Island
(contact me for directions)

Friday, June 17, 2011

What Makes for Great Conversation?

Some people have a mysterious gift for creating a space in which great conversation occurs naturally and organically. Zen Dog is one of those people. Everyone who comes through the door of his Tea House Gallery is enchanted into bringing their higher selves to the pouring table. How does he do it?

How does great conversation happen? That's the topic of the next conversation salon, taking place at the Fremont Coffee Company on Thursday, June 23, from 7 to 9pm. If our aim is to master the fine art of conversation, let's start by exploring what makes for great conversation.

Conversation is like dancing. The more skilled you are at it, the better an ear for rhythm you have, the more steps in your repertoire, and the more sensitive you are to the other's movements, the more thrilling and satisfying the dance.

Sparkling conversationalists are true performance artists. But sparkling conversation is more than an art. It's also a useful craft that can serve one well in every aspect of one's life, from wooing a lover to asking for a raise to taking action in one's community.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Bon jour, conversationistas! 

The Muse has chosen to wander to the Tea House Gallery in Greenwood on Friday, June 3, from 7 to 9 pm.

The topic of discussion will be happiness. We'll explore the "four pillars" of happiness: community, control, calling, and celebration. Come prepared to share your answers to these questions:

1. When in your life have you experienced community / control / calling / celebration?

2. What in your life in our culture is undermining community / control / calling / celebration?

3. What can you do to change things in your life to have more happiness?

Tea master Zen Dog has graciously agreed to pour tea for us as we sparkle and scintillate. (No charge, but donations warmly welcome.)

Bring a friend and join us!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Echo Poems

At the last salon, we got out our ink bottles, turned on our thinking taps, and composed Echo Poems. This is a loose creative exercise that frees the poet from disappointingly predictable results. It's a poem in two stanzas.

You start by coming up with a first line. Then, by echoing the sounds, words, or meanings of that first line (or using their opposites), you compose another line, which becomes the first line of the second stanza. Then you echo that line and make it the second line of the first stanza, back and forth, until you feel finished. The last line that you invent becomes the title of the poem.

The really freeing thing about this method is that you can interpret "echo" any way you wish--and that interpretation can change mid-line if it tickles you. Here are some of the poems spawned by the latest gathering:


Twinges Lost and Soaring

To leave it all behind,
Derange the leaves of mind,
Obey the body's whim.
To go whither beak leads
I'll fly led by what I seek,
Leaking all my worry,
Lacking all but wings.


Test the Monstrosity

She breathes shallowly and soft;
Sleep and shards of lostness
Laugh unrestrained in tangles of thought,
Lie rainy rambles rambled long,
Cavort with blessed cacophony.

He dies deep and sharp,
Weep and wards of thoughtlessness,
Brainy brambles sigh;
A short wet rest from wandering.


Trees bloom to perish
Start never but hesitate
With only one iteration

Stop forever and cherish
There is no compassion
At a time when in its creation


My heart is six feet underground
Below my frown I crawl
I won't swim through the throes
Or write ward ways
Falling downs and soft
Trapped in vetiver frost.

Understand how below I am
A thrall to soon drown
Thrown wrongways at 
The Rites of Falling Down
Crushed velvet freefall
Tapping our frozen cells.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Picnic for Thought When Lying in a Hammock on a Warm Spring Day...

Alan Watts,  The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

Andy Goldsworthy,  Rivers and Tides (dvd)

Benjamin Hoff,  The Tao of Pooh

Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

David Whyte,  Clear Mind, Wild Heart (cd)

John Daido Loori,  The Zen of Creativity: Cultivating Your Artistic Life

Julia Cameron,  The Vein of Gold: A Journey to Your Creative Heart

Mary Oliver,  What Do We Know: Poems and Prose Poems

Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life

Osho, Awareness: The Key to Living in Balance

Pema Chödrön,  Don’t Bite the Hook: Freedom from Anger, Resentment, and Other Destructive Emotions (cd)

Pema Chödrön,  Practicing Peace in Times of War

Pema Chödrön,  True Happiness (cd)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Six-Armed Caterer

At the end of February, my BFF kicked off her law practice, Fioretti Law, with an open house. Huzzah!

My sister La Chef was to cater the event, and I was to assist her. However, the day before the party, we found ourselves snowed in--my friend in Bellevue with most of the ingredients, my sister in Ballard with the recipes and platters, and me on my island with the prep kitchen. Hmmm!

Undaunted, we proceeded to cater: La Chef dictated the recipes and procedures; Madame Lawyer set to and did most of the work; and I picked up extra ingredients to round it all out. On the day of the party, we brought all of the elements together--half a tapenade here, half there--and voila! a rich spread of colors and flavors.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Music Writing

Can't wait to get a giant pad of paper and do more!
My sister (Violet Wednesday) and I have decided to give each other drawing lessons. The idea is that I will teach her to draw realistically, and she will teach me to draw from the imagination. 

For our first assignments, I handed her some well-worn exercises for drawing on the right side of the brain, and she instructed me to start a drawing without any idea of how it was going to turn out--and to change direction whenever the subject started to become recognizable. 

The next morning as I was sailing across the water on my way to work, I began what quickly turned into telephone doodles. Disappointed with my results, I spontaneously began to mimic the music on my ipod using my pen. Fun! When a new song started, I turned to a fresh page and did it again. And again. By the time my ferry arrived at the dock, I had covered pages with music writing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Beach Glass

Nearly a month ago I was interrupted mid-post by an invitation from one of my Favorite People to join her in starting up a new business. I couldn't refuse, and it's been nothing but thrills and giggles since then, but I have missed my Muse.

Today I took a break from Fighting Techno Dragons and biked to the beach, where I was rewarded with the biggest haul in beach glass I've had yet. As I walked along the sand, my pockets jingling with treasures, I felt myself expanding and opening up to the world again, and I began composing this post. May the next one be not far behind.