Category Archives: writing

Chipmunk Haiku

Chipmunk Haiku

running through the grass

tail held high, fast as lightning

brownish blurry stripes

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Book Review: Butterflies of the Northwoods

I am reprinting a book review from a few years ago, Butterflies of the Northwoods.

Book Review: Butterflies of the North Woods

Butterflies of the North Woods by Larry Weber is an excellent field guide for identification of butterflies. It is part of the North Woods Naturalist series, covering the states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada. How many times have you seen a butterfly flying by, and weren’t sure what it was?  This field guide not only has excellent photos, but it also has a lot of information on the habits of butterflies, such as what food they eat and what food the butterfly caterpillars eat.  It really helped me out, because we get a lot of brown butterflies with eyespots in this area that all look very similar. It helped me to differentiate between them, by comparing the number of eyespots, etc.  Also included is an interesting section on the history of butterflies, such as: butterflies are really a type of moth that may have started flying during the day to get away from moth-eating bats. There is also information on day-flying moths that only look like butterflies. Also part of the series: Moths and Caterpillars of the North Woods, Dragonflies of the North Woods, and Damselflies of the North Woods.

Reference:  Larry Weber, Butterflies of the North Woods, 2nd edition,(Duluth,MN:Kollath+Stensaas Publishing, 2006

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Book Review: 400 Knitting Stitches

Book Review: 400 Knitting Stitches, editors at Potter Craft


This is a book I have been using for a few years to help me come up with ideas for stitch patterns. It is really good for knitting scarves or coasters, because you can just choose the stitch pattern or patterns that you like, combining them however you like, and then you will be able to design your scarf. The book is organized according to different categories, such as Knit Purl stitches, Crossed stitches and Cables, Slipped stitches, Lacy stitches, Double stitches, Twisted stitches, Cast-off stitches, and Fancy stitches. One of the things I like about this book is it has the instructions both written out and in a chart. I don’t read charts quite as well as written instructions, but it doesn’t matter because there is a handy guide to all the symbols in the back of the book. There is also a basic guide to knitting in the front, but if you are new to knitting you might want to get something more in-depth. There are actually a lot of challenging stitches in here, but there are many that are fairly easy as well. The pictures are very clear and the examples are knitted with cream color yarn that looks sport weight. The only thing is I often use chunky yarn, so it would be interesting to see how these patterns would look in different yarn weights, but then maybe the book would be too long. The only real drawback to the book is that it doesn’t really have a lay flat binding. Also the cable section is really long, at almost a hundred pages. But maybe if you are really into doing cables, this would be a good thing. One interesting thing about this book is that it was originally published in France.

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Excerpt from The Portable MFA: Advice on Essay Writing

Excerpt: The Portable MFA


Here are some excerpts from The Portable MFA, a book I just reviewed.

From Chapter 2: Personal Essay and Memoir, by Peter Bricklebank:

The Personal Presence of the Author

“A characteristic of the personal essay is a voice that seems to speak directly to the reader.  It is an easy voice, a spoken voice, an intimate voice, that of a confidant.  It is the voice of the writer.  An essay gives the impression  of a tete–a-tete between author and reader, the intimacy of the friendly, receptive ear cupped at the articulate mouth of an observant mind.  A writer’s experiences in life, filtered through the limitations and strengths of his character, articulated in his own words in his own singular way create a distinct vision of our shared existence as sentient beings.  Your personal essay provides a window on the world, on our shared human experience.”

“When you, as a writer, express things that readers recognize as somewhat akin to their own experience, you confirm their humanity; where you differ from others, your individuality and the individuality of those reading you are enhanced by being acknowledged, voiced, described, made plain in the light of day.  The essay, then, provides an inner dialogue in an outfacing form.  In seeking to make discoveries about your own life in an essay, you find patterns, meanings, and understanding that extend beyond you.”

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Book Review: The Portable MFA in Creative Writing

Book Review:  The Portable MFA in Creative Writing


The Portable MFA in Creative Writing is a book on writing technique put together by the teachers at the New York Writers Workshop.  It covers fiction writing, personal essay and memoir, magazine writing, poetry, and playwriting.   This is from the back cover:  “Get the core knowledge of a prestigious MFA education without the tuition.  Have you always wanted to get an MFA, but couldn’t because of the cost, time commitment, or admission requirements?  Well, now you can fulfill that dream without having to devote tons of money or time.  The Portable MFA gives you all of the essential information you would learn in an MFA program in one book.”  The author of the introduction thinks that the average MFA program does not spend enough time on craft, and says a lot of people think that writing can’t be taught.  About this last point, he says:  “Have you ever heard someone say:  ‘Why on earth are you taking piano instruction?  Music can’t be taught’?  Of course not, but you hear this nonsense all the time about writing.”  This is an interesting book that is like an anthology really, as every chapter is written by a different author, and they all have different personalities and styles of writing.  For myself, I found the most useful chapters to be personal essay and memoir, and poetry.


Reference:  The Portable MFA in Creative Writing, New York Writers Workshop, Cincinnati, OH: Writers Digest Books, 2006.

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Scott Russell Sanders Quote

“The essay is a haven for the private, idiosyncratic voice in an era of anonymous babble.”

-Scott Russell Sanders

From the book The Portable MFA in Creative Writing

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Big Sur Travel: Sand Dollar Beach


Big Sur Travel:  Sand Dollar Beach

Sand Dollar Beach is located near the middle of the stretch of coastline known as Big Sur.  This horseshoe-shaped beach is located 32 south of the town of Big Sur, across the street from Plaskett Creek Campground.  It has the largest beach in the Big Sur area, and often has good weather.  There is a short trail that will lead you down the stairway to the beach.

For pictures of Sand Dollar Beach, go to google and type in Sand Dollar Beach photos.


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Big Sur Travel: Jade Cove

Big Sur Travel: Jade Cove

Jade Cove Recreation Area is located on California’s beautiful Big Sur Coast in Central California. There are many jade rocks that can be found on the shore or underwater. As long as you find the jade under the water or below the high tide line, it is legal to take whatever you find. There is not much of a parking lot, but it is two miles south of SandDollar Beach. You will have to climb down a rather steep hill to get to the beach. In 1971 there was a 9,000 pound boulder of jade that was taken from the water. There is also a Jade Festival every October.

For some lovely photos of Jade Cove and jade rocks:

Big Sur Chamber of Commerce:

Anne Marie Brown, Moon Handbooks: Monterey and Carmel, third edition (Berkeley,CA: Avalon Travel, 2009) pg. 157.

Liz Hamill Scott, Moon Handbooks: California, second edition, (Berkeley, CA: Avalon Travel, 2009) pg. 457.

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A Brief History of Knitting

A Brief History of Knitting

Knitting is an ancient art that people still enjoy today.  It is both artistic and relaxing, and helps relieve stress.  Knitting develops concentration, manual dexterity, and arithmetic skills.  It is good for stress relief, and your projects can be as simple or involved as you want.  Everyone can enjoy knitting, regardless of age or gender. Knitting first started over a thousand years ago around the Arabian peninsula.  Some of the earliest knitted remnants were found in Egypt.  Many different cultures have used knitting in various ways, employing a wide variety of techniques.  In medieval Europe, knitting guilds were comprised of men.  In order to become a member of a guild, a person had to serve as an apprentice for three years.  Since many people could not read or write well, many knitting patterns were not written down.  Instead they were taught from one person to the other by explaining and demonstrating.  Nowadays knitting books and patterns are extremely commonplace, employing many different techniques, both traditional and modern.

Reference:  Shirley McNulty, Barbara Brabec, Knitting for Fun and Profit, (Rocklin,CA: Prima Publishing, 1999), pgs. vi-vii.

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