Sunday, July 12, 2015

...and per se and

I have been wanting to be able to write a better ampersand. My usual option is kind of wimpy (it appears at the end of the second row, above). So, I did some investigating. Most of the awesome ampersands come from writing with a calligraphic nib, or by using a typeset font, not from just regular handwriting. But still, a better everyday "&" is within reach. I want one that is simple and quick to do. I really like the "&" as it saves time AND has the potential to add some flourish to your writing.

While practicing various ampersand styles I realized this is one of those situations where being a lefty puts me at a disadvantage. The curves don't move the right way, the slant is all wrong, and the bottom part which looks best when it's bulbous has a tendency to end up a little cramped. Maybe I should develop a mirror-image version.

Also, while poking around the internet on the topic, I discovered two things:

1. Back in the 1800s the "&" used to be the 27th letter of the alphabet. Say what? Now I want to bring it back!

2. The name "ampersand" comes from when kids had to recite the alphabet in school, they would have to say "...X, Y, Z, and per se and" which would all string together when they spoke and end up sounding like "ampersand." Is this an internet hoax? I don't know, but I am going to ask my 92-year old dad about it. He still talks about learning the "Palmer method of penmanship," so maybe he also had to say "and per se and" when reciting the alphabet.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

I'm back?

Today am seeing what happens if I start posting to my blog again. I haven't been drawing much. Mostly just writing words and recording the temperature and weather in my journal.

Because I knew I would be posting a picture of the poem you see above, I tried a little harder on the lettering. Which, interestingly, made it come out not as likable as the letters I don't try so hard on. A good lesson there.

Basho was a Japanese poet who lived from 1644 to 1694. While on a months-long walking journey in 1682, he developed a style of poetry called haibun. According the the Poetry Foundation, "the imagery in haibun follows two paths: the external images observed en route, and the internal images that move through the traveler's mind during the journey."

I came across this poem in the Man Booker Prize-winning novel I am reading called, "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" by Richard Flanagan. It turns out the title of this book is also the title of a book of poetry that Basho published. Although, this new book is about Australian POWs held by the Japanese in World War II. I am reading it as fast as I can because it's so sad and gross.

What's on your summer reading list?

Monday, January 9, 2012


Happy New Year everyone! I hope you experience lots of good things in 2012. 

I would post a lot more often if I could resort to taking photos as opposed to drawing pictures. I mean, only a photo will really do the trick when you see something like this:
Don't you agree?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today, among other more important things, I am thankful for socks. Specifically, 21st century socks. I remember when wool wasn't smart -- it was itchy. And when sweat socks lived up to their unpleasant name. The days before lycra, when socks would bunch up at the front of your shoe like a sixth toe with nowhere to go.

I also love all the colors and patterns to be found on socks, even if I am often bummed to realize I don't have any solid black socks in my drawer stuffed with polka dots and stripes. Colorful socks are like neckties with personality for your ankles.

I am grateful to the sock researchers and inventors of all sorts who keep making things better. What's your favorite improvement?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I don't like red?

I don't like red. If you asked me what my favorite color is, I would not say red. If you asked me to list my top 5, it still wouldn't come up. If I think about it as an entity - a field of red - I have to turn away (please don't even say red plaid). I don't like the red splotches my skin gets when I am nervous or angry or have a glass of wine. If I bought a house and it was red, I would paint it right away. I would never choose to own a red car (though the fact is, through no fault of my own, for many years I did own a rickety but reliable red car and I would often hope no one would see me getting into it and make red car assumptions about me). People who like red are not people like me.

But, it turns out, red and I have a pretty groovy relationship. When I put on my long red quilted coat, I feel like it's a good day. I would spend a week's pay on the perfect pair of red shoes. I'll eat a Swedish fish even if it has lint from my pocket on it. Haribo gummi bears? I always save the red bears for last. The shortest pencil of all my pencils? The red one. The cover of my agenda book, also red. My two favorite holidays - Christmas and Valentine's Day - have a strong streak of red. I've worn the same red Adidas Gazelles since 1999. Sometimes a red plate is the only one that will do, especially if sugar cookies are involved. Despite their epic fail this season, I am glad the Red Sox are my home town team. I love the sight of red berries on an otherwise bare branch. If the stripes on my shirt are not blue, they are red. What can't you do if you've got a red Swiss army knife on hand? And, let's face it, stop signs have got it all over yield.

So, actually, I totally love red. My life would be bleak without it. I want to publicly apologize to red for not putting it on my list of favorite colors before today. Red thank you for cheering me up so many times! You totally rock.

What, or who, do you love but you've been too stuck in your ways to admit it?

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Sure, there are some good things about winter.

But I love summer.
Everything is bursting with color, joy and ease.
On days like the one above,
I am just waiting for days like today.

As William Carlos Williams said:

"In summer, the song sings itself."

Saturday, July 16, 2011


I re-remembered one thing and discovered something else.

What I re-remembered is that I can draw more easily if other people are talking. For that reason, it's good to have some kind of talking radio show on while I draw. I think a lot of people like to put music on when they are painting or making and they say it frees their creative juices. If I do that, the music takes up my whole brain and I want to dance or sing (off key) or just sit there staring into space. Music is like a Vulcan mind meld for me. It completely removes me from my own ideas.

But, if someone is talking, their voice and the subject matter take up the talking, monkey-mind part of my brain, which opens the drawbridge to the part that can think without words. This is probably more true of everyone than we think - it's why you see people doodling in meetings but not at concerts.

The thing I discovered is that the Uni-ball Jet Stream RT 0.7 mm retractable pen is surprisingly good for drawing with. It makes a good wiggly but not too wiggly line, and is suited for lefties, unlike most gel pens, because the ink dries fast and doesn't smudge. You can find these pens at Staples, along with beef jerky.

What is your favorite thing to draw with?