Essays

Many of these columns originally appeared in Flagstaff Live!, a weekly entertainment and culture publication.

Engage and discover; Why art residencies are important

My friend, René, is on her way to Oregon, where her husband has a new job. I met René years ago in a workshop. She handed me her card: “René Westbrook: Gluing Things to Stuff Since 1989.” I laughed, and knew immediately that I wanted to be her friend. After living at...

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Learning to fit; Ebb, flow and sometimes falling over

My mother taught me to use her putty-colored electric Singer sewing machine when I was 4. The toy sewing machine she bought me didn’t work right, and being practical, she figured she might as well teach me to use her machine. In the years after, I learned well how to...

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Home Run; Recent brushes with real estate

My mother has always been deeply interested in houses: their layouts and locations, and most importantly, how they function. She would have been a really good architect, I expect. Instead of studying architecture, though, she married my father and spent many years...

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Interstices: Minding the gaps between the words

Three deer grazed in the forest behind my house, skittish but hungry. One headed for the penstemon flowers growing in our yard, but seeing Mike and me, and Kelly the (unthreatening) Labrador, opted out. A yellow swallowtail butterfly was briefly trapped under the...

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No regrets; Arranging for summer vacation

Vacation planning always feels like such a hopeful thing to do. We’ve been working all week to prepare to leave. Mike’s built a fabulous platform/storage box for our new-to-us vehicle. I’ve been working at my desk so I can leave with a clear conscience. At last, we’re...

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Season of wonder; A head full of questions

A home movie of my sister Dana, taken sometime around 1967, shows her enthusiastically hunting Easter eggs in our backyard in Springfield, Va. Her 6-year-old self is wearing her pink Easter dress, pink Mary Janes and a navy blue straw hat. Captured by my dad on film...

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Infamous Angel; Rescued by minutia

What is this book? What is anything? Who am I? Who are you? Stop it. Forget it. This quote on the front of my current journal is a direct lift from the inside flap of Maira Kalman’s book, The Principles of Uncertainty, in which Kalman gives equal treatment to trash...

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A mind at rest; Flickers of contrast at Kane Ranch

The four of us stood on the porch admiring the last glimmers of light on thunderheads over the Echo Cliffs. A few moments later, the moon rose from behind those same clouds taking our collective breath away. This is a fact: at Kane Ranch the contrasts often leave me...

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New land; Finding center and inspiration

It’s morning. Dense fog rises off the river in the valley below, though the sky is clear. Drops of moisture diffuse the sunlight; the traffic sounds are muffled. The daylight burns off the fog, but sometimes not until noon. Everything seems to take longer, moving...

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