the start of motion

Taking some final photographs before this bouquet dies. Love the blue explosion. Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.

Marcus and I have been very busy getting our house in order before some dear friends arrive from Australia tomorrow to spend a few days with us.  Bless them.  They're arriving from Sydney, where it's winter, to Houston, where it's over 100 degrees.  We're going to have so much fun with them, assuming they don't melt.

Immediately after they leave, our little family is headed to New York City for a quick vacation and a wedding (Alex is going to be a flower girl at this wedding.  She's been practicing.)  New York should be fun:  Marcus, while well-traveled, has never been to NYC, and Alex has been enthralled with the idea of New York ever since a couple of years ago when I brought home a pencil for her from a NYC work trip, the top of which had a miniature Empire State Building with a miniature King Kong clinging on for dear life.  This fascination with New York was only intensified this weekend when I downloaded The Wiz for her to watch.  I fear she now believes that New York is a city where giant monkeys and talented dancing scarecrows roam the streets.

The New York trip is the first of several trips I have slated coming up:  after New York, I head to Chicago for BlogHer '09 (will I see you there?), where I'm looking forward to participating in the Community Keynote.  Then after Chicago, there are a few other cities I'm planning on visiting, both for speaking opportunities and book photo ops -- assuming that I can pull them all off.  More as plans become more concrete.

I'm already starting to feel just a bit overwhelmed with all this upcoming travel, for a variety of reasons, but if I can manage to take all of these trips, it's going to be very exciting, as well.  So to get in into travel mode (which for me, takes a certain focused mindset), I thought perhaps I'd do a quick poll:

What's your favourite place you've ever visited, and what did you love to do there?


SongRun-around by Blues Traveler

dragonfly & a little motivation

Outtake from the book.  Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.

These days, the dragonflies are out in force, and I've been dying to get a good photograph of one.  Of course, they're zippy little buggers, so it can be really hard to capture a good image.

This weekend, however, Marcus found one that was resting on a branch in our garden -- and seemed rather unpreturbed by our presence near him.  So I ran inside and grabbed my camera, and shot a ton of images.  Photo geek that I am, it was one of the highlights of my weekend.

In completely unrelated news, it's been a while since I shared a good video with you, so I thought I'd share one that's been on my mind lately.  It's courtesy of the very cool blog, Zen Habits -- and it's one to watch if you've ever needed to do or start something, and keep coming up with great excuses not to.  It seems like the beginning of the week is the perfect time to share it with you.



SongWord up as performed by WillisI love this version of this song.  I couldn't find an album by Willis that's still in production, but the song is included on this groovy compilation album

rufus the schnoodle*

Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.

After extensive observation -- watching him play, eat, bark, chew various items of footware (including my very favourite shoes -  you know the ones? the olive green pumps that gave great toe cleavage? not that I'm bitter) -- we have come to the conclusion that Rufus is not the labradoodle we were led to believe he might be.

Instead -- and I think this evidenced by that eminent veterinary scientist, Dr. Google -- we are now of the belief that Rufus might actually be ...

... a schnoodle.

Photographed with Nikon D300, 35mm lens.

Further evidence here.  And here.  And especially here.

All I need is to find a photograph of one with an olive green Bandolino pump hanging out of his mouth, and I think my case will have been made.

Not that I'm bitter.


*not actually based on anything in fact.


Song: Shake your body down to the ground by The Jacksons, featuring Michael Jackson.  My first concert ever in life was at age 11, and it was to see the Jacksons, at the Arena Theatre in Houston.  We sat close enough to the stage that Michael actually reached out and touched my hand (!!), and The Jacksons sang this song for about 15 to 20 minutes straight.  To this day, I cannot hear this song without throwing my hands in the air, getting up, and shakin' what my momma gave me.  For those of you who are so inclined, and in honour of his music, I invite you all to turn it up with me at some point during the day and do the same.

Rest in peace, Michael.  For all your weirdness, the truth is that music, of all kinds, in all genres, is all the better because of you.

love thursday

A small wooden heart made in Kenya, and purchased by me at Cost Plus World Market in Houston. Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm lens.

I've been taken lately with how much I love being home with Marcus and Alex (and yes, even Rufus).  We are very lucky, and I know this; and there is a lot of unabashed love in this house right now.  I do not take this for granted, either - in this day and age, it seems to me when you experience true love of any sort, you should hang onto it like Grim Death.  Every night, I say a silent prayer of thanks, and fervently hope our family never, ever outgrows this.

I suspect that each of you have love in your lives as well -- whether or not it's love of a partner, a parent, a sibling, a child or a good friend.  Please take time to celebrate this love today with a simple gesture -- either with a hug, or a thoughtful e-mail, or whatever.  And I fervently hope for you that your relationships never, ever outgrow it.

Happy Love Thursday, friends.  Please leave your stories or links to your words or images of love in the comments below.


SongLove Shack, by the B-52's


Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.

Today was a really long day, and I admit it:  I'm really tapped.  So for all my lovely plans to write a long post tonight, I'm afraid I don't have it in me.  So instead, first I thought I'd first show you a couple additional photographs that I took of a bouquet I bought myself yesterday ...



... and secondly, I wanted to ask you a simple two-part question that a friend asked me about a year ago, and I surprised myself by how much I enjoyed thinking about the answer.  I thought perhaps you'd enjoy thinking about it as well:

a)  Who is the person, living or dead, you admire most?

b)  Why?

I can't wait to read what you have to say.


SongCome as you are, as performed by Laura Love


a thought

Playing with cropping. Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens, and Kodak Duaflex.

So, today, as I was catching up on some blog reading, I came across this post by Lilla Rogers Studio, an agency that represents artists and illustrators all over the world. The post was about artist Jillian Phillips, and Lilla asked a question and answered it as follows:

Do you know why Jillian gets so much work?
1. She knows how to inspire herself creatively.
2. She regularly creates tons and tons of work of a high quality.
3. Her work is joyful.
4. She knows the market and what categories sell.
5. She’s a pleasure to work with.
6. Her work is innovative.
7. She knows the market but pushes it further.
8. Her design and color is/are impeccable.

She sounds like a rock star, doesn't she?  Wouldn't it be amazing to have someone describe you the way Lilla described Jillian?

I think I'm going to print this list out, and keep it somewhere I can see it.  Because it seems to me that mastering the first 7 items of this list (since #8 seems most specifically related to art and illustration) might quite possibly be the key to success, no matter what line of work you're in.

SongGood foot by Justin Timberlake & Timbaland

oh yeah? have you ever gone a week without a rationalization?

Outtake from the book.  Photographed with a Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens

This weekend, in between anniversary dinners and Father's Day breakfasts-in-bed and lunches, I've been furiously working on getting all of the text and images together for the BLaD.  As I type this, I'm saving everything to CDs, to turn into the creative designers tomorrow.  Can I hear a BOO-YAH?

Today, we had my dad over for Father's Day lunch, and he and my mom brought Marcus and me a bottle of champagne, to celebrate our seventh anniversary.  "You can drink that at a later time, whenever," said my dad, giving me the gift bag.

"Oh, wow," I said.  "Champagne!  Oh no, we're opening this today."

"No, really, you don't have to," he said.  "Drink it by yourselves."

"No really, we're going to," I insisted.  "I need an image of champagne for the book.  I was just telling Marcus that yesterday.  This gift couldn't be more timely.

My father was silent.  And then:

"That is the saddest rationalization I've ever heard for claiming the need for a drink," he said.

Dude, whatever works.


SongI heard it through the grapevine, by Marvin Gaye (off The Big Chill soundtrack)

i did this

Peonies are seriously the most proud flowers on the planet.  Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.

This was a good week.

Yesterday, after a meeting, I took myself to lunch at my regular haunt, and the woman who worked behind the counter smiled when I walked in.

"Hi!" she said.  "How are you today?"

"I'm great," I responded.  Then I thought about it.  "No, seriously, I'm great.  I'm in a really great mood.  I should enjoy this for a minute!"  She laughed.

The reason that this has been such a good week is because I had the opportunity to interview several really cool people as part of the research for my book.  You know how sometimes when you talk to someone, and they're just so fantastic they put you in a great mood for the rest of the day?  I've been talking to people like that all week. 

Anyway, during most of these conversations, we've all had the opportunity to describe a time when we did something that made us really proud of ourselves.  I noticed that there's really no better pick-me-up than when you remember a time when you did something wonderful.  You just knocked it out of the park.  You did something that made you feel like you were just made of awesome.

So, I thought to end the week, I'd invite you to share something you did at some point in your past that was very, very cool.  And this is your time to brag, too, no holds barred (feel free to share anonymously, if you want to say what you did "out loud," but aren't comfortable attaching your name to it).  The only rule:  it can't be that you met someone wonderful, or that you have a long marriage, or that you're a good parent (although I'm sure you've done and you are all those things).  This has to be something that you did uniquely and completely for you, and not (necessarily) for the benefit of another person.  It doesn't have to be something wild, like you participated in the Iditarod or walked the Appalachian Trail or climbed K2 (although good on you, if you did!) -- it can be something simple, like you completely sewed your first dress on your own, or you learned how to ride a bike as an adult, or learned a new language.  Or you learned how to juggle, even though you're normally a total klutz.  Or heck, you finally learned how to poach an egg.  Whatever gave you a little pang of pride.  Extra points if doing it pushed you out of your comfort zone.

So here's mine:  when I was in my early 30's, I took myself on a fabulous vacation to the Cayman Islands -- alone.  It was the first and only time I ever went on holiday by myself, and for 5 days, it was just me, my dive gear, and a ton of reading.  At night, I took myself to wonderful restaurants, and had great meals by candlelight while I lost myself in wonderful fiction -- some of it great literature, most of it trashy novels.  It remains one of the best vacations I've ever had in my life.

Okay, your turn.  And to all of you, whether or not you share your feat here, have a great weekend -- and may you take some time, at some point during the next couple of days, to bask in the glow of your awesome.


SongMy way (a mi manera) as performed by Robin Williams (from the Happy Feet soundtrack)

love thursday: seven years and counting

My Marcus.  Photographed Friday, June 12, 2009 with Nikon D300, 100mm manual lens.

This week, I was reading the blog of a friend of mine, and on this particular post, she was talking about the new man in her life.  I've been reading her site for several years, and over the time she's written about various men who've come and gone, but this one was different.  This one had an air of wonder about it -- confusion mixed with euphoria.  She didn't understand why she was feeling so strongly for this man so quickly, and while her head was telling her that she needed to get a grip, that she needed to proceed slowly and cautiously, her soul was telling her that it was too late:  this man had her heart.  And the reasons might be beyond comprehension, but there it was.

I immediately picked up the phone.

"Kristin, THIS is what I was telling you about!"

"I know!" she responded.  "You've been telling me for 3 years!  This is how it was for you, right?"

"YES.  This this-doesn't-make-any-sense-but-I-really-don't-have-any-choice-I-have-to-be-with-this-person feeling?  THIS is the real thing.  And I have no idea if relationship of yours will go on forever or not, but see this feeling?  DO NOT EVER SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS.  You deserve NOTHING less.  Remember how you feel RIGHT NOW."

She sighed.  "It's amazing."

"Yes, it is," I agreed.

"Is it still like this for you?"

I thought for a moment.  "Well, sort of -- but it's different now.  Like I don't have that sort of crazy euphoria that I did when we first met, but there's still that really intense this-really-doesn't-make-any-sense-but-I-can't-imagine-it-any-differently emotion.  Like, on paper?  We still make no sense:  Marcus is athletic, I'm not.  I'm far more into books and literature than he ever will be.  I'm high strung, Marcus is always cool as a cucumber.  But for some reason, we just work.  We're just really meant to be together."

"That's great, Karen," she said. 

"Yeah," I concurred.

Marcus and I had an incredibly whirlwind courtship, and this Sunday, Father's Day, the summer solstice, is our 7th wedding anniversary.  I love him more now than I did when we married.  And I couldn't imagine my life without him, even if I tried.

* * * * * * *

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.  Please leave your stories or links to your images and words of love in the comments below.

And may we all, at some point, experience that inexplicable, inescapable love.


SongI'm a believer by Smash Mouth

a little about that book

Outtake for possible book cover image. Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.

Someone yesterday pointed out that I haven't yet divulged the concept of the book -- and, you're right, I haven't.  But I promise I will.  Right now, I'm fervently working on getting enough content for a BLAD, which I've learned stands for "Book Layout and Design."  Basically, it's a manual that looks like the final product of the book, but doesn't have all the content in it yet; it's just enough to give an idea of how the book is going to look and feel.  It's basically the tool that publishers use to market and sell the book to trade -- booksellers, wholesalers and the like. 

(An aside:  I'm learning a lot about the publishing industry.  I had no idea how much work goes on behind the scenes to get a book to print.  It's really pretty fascinating.)

Once the BLAD's done (hopefully in a few weeks' time), trust me, I'm sure that I'll be so excited that I'll take a photograph of it and slap it right here on the blog, and that will likely give you a lot more information about its content.  But for now, I'll just:

1.  continue to give you clues to the images that will be included by publishing the outtakes or related photographs here on the site;

2.  tell you that the book is hopefully going to have a similar look and feel to Chookooloonks (in other words, heavy in both words and images); and

3.  unlike Chookooloonks, will have an over-arching theme running through the entire book.  In a manner of speaking.

One thing I will tell you:  it's slated to be published in Fall 2010, so we have a long way to go yet.  I promise that along the way I'll keep you involved in all the steps -- and with any luck, by the time the book hits the shelves, it will be exactly what you've been expecting and hoping for.


SongInto your arms by The Lemonheads.  Marcus picked today's song.