Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Poem Saga Presenting Observations from the Spring of 2006 Continues Here Today

April 17, 2006
Yesterday on our way home it was raining

We got to our building
went up the steps
but then Bill turned around
and walked back out into the street
to look for a rainbow

He actually understands
the conditions and angles
needed for rainbow germination
so this was not pure whimsy
he knew where to look

And sure enough there one was
beautiful and bright in the gray sky
and I loved it but I loved even more
that I am married to a man
who goes back out into the street
to look for a goddamn rainbow

image source is here

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Thing The Book

Loyal readers of the Cabinet will know I do my darndest not to play favorites here among the books I edit for Chronicle Books--in truth I adore them all and, if it's not to much own-horn-tooting (indeed it's really more my-authors-horn-tooting) I think they're all completely amazing. But I love these photos by Daniel Dent so much that I just have to share it. It comes from The Thing Quarterly's announcement of their forthcoming new book The Thing The Book, which I am so tremendously proud to have worked on. The Thing's editors Jonn Herschend and Will Rogan completely knocked it out of the park, gathering dozens of rock-star artist and writer contributors all creating wild and wonderful things, and we packed the book with more fancy bells-and-whistles than you can shake a stick at (a cloth case, neon belly band, two ribbon book markers, a real bookplate, a single dictionary-style thumb-cut, the list goes on and on), add an inspired design job by San Francisco favorites MacFadden and Thorpe and it all adds up to an alchemical brew of great potency. And if you preorder a book now over on The Thing site you get a discount. Hooray!

But fear not. The spirit of evenhandedness will shortly resume! As soon as I get my last few advance copies in over here I'll be showing you my Fall list in all it's multifaceted glory (spoilers include: the start of our big publishing program with Marimekko (!!); new volumes from Pantone, 642, and the brains that brought you the 2012 smash hit The Where, The Why, and The How; super dreamy collages; a travelogue from the father of indie illustration; and a seminal design classic brought back into print after years away--stay tuned!)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


You know that thing where two things happen relatively near to one another in time and suddenly the point is made clear? That happened to me recently.

The first thing was that at the ICON conference there was a panel featuring three women illustrators, seated left-to-right: one in her mid-twenties, one in her late-thirties or early-forties, one in her late-fifties or early-sixties. They never quite came out and said it but clearly they were there to represent: young, middle-aged, and old.

The second thing that happened was that while googleing around for something else I came upon three separate photos of the artist Bridget Riley--apparently everyone has always had the idea to shoot her against a backdrop of one of her geometric paintings, and apparently she has always had awesome short hair--and I thought, oh, that we could all age so well! And then I put the pictures together to see the progression: young, middle-aged, old.


And here's what I realized: I am thirty-eight years old. I am the middle picture. I am middle-aged! And I love this! I've never been bothered by the idea of aging--I have enjoyed my thirties so much more than my twenties, and anticipate my forties being even better. But--and I blame this on the baby-boomer's relentless insistence (at this point in the face of all evidence) on their own youthfulness--I always thought of middle-aged as much older, like fifties, sixties. But, come on, let's face it--sixty is not the middle of anything. It's old. It's not elderly, it's not geriatric, it's just plain good old old-fashioned old. I adore the idea of being able to own middle-age for myself and my generation, and mentally categorizing the next age-bracket up as old. Whether those currently in that group will admit to this fact or not themselves--you can bet for darn sure that when I get here I'll be shouting it from the roof-tops.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sleepy Green Tiger

Every now and then Mabel comes home from school with her face painted. Such was the case one Friday evening in May when, tired from a long day of play and learning, the sleepy green tiger in its orange polo shirt came to rest on our new blue sofa.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jordan Sullivan, Death Valley

I really like these photographs by Jordan Sullivan of the ombre sky over Death Valley, as first brought to my attention by the Artsy Forager. They remind me a little of some of my favorite abstract expressionist paintings.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Ongoing Poem Series About the Spring of 2006 Continues in This Way

April 14, 2006
Last night Bill brought home

a small blue ceramic bird
to sit atop
the jade-green milk-glass cake-plate
he gave me for valentine’s day

I’d been saying a little bird
would be just the thing
to go right there
and truly it is

He got it for a dollar
at the strange civic center craft-fair
It is walnut-sized
and sort of plump
with sky-blue plumage
and a quizzical eye

image source is here

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


After our retreat to the cabin, we zoomed back into downtown Portland so that, for work, I could attend the ICON8 Illustration Conference. This is where loads and loads of illustrators gather every two years to listen to amazing speakers, hobnob with one another, and generally just revel in the tribe of their people. I had never been to anything quite like this before so wasn't sure what to expect, so was utterly surprised and delighted when the conference opened with a performance by a crazy silver-clad marching band. Clearly, this thing was a big deal and was going to be amazing. And it was! Pretty darn truly seriously amazing. Here's the recap:

We splurged and stayed at the Ace Hotel. Yes! Ace, I adore you. 

Well, I adore everything about the Ace (as their sort-of slogan says, it's "everything you need in a hotel and nothing you don't"), but I especially love the adorable little breakfast room.

After breakfast it was time to get myself ready for the workshop I was teaching.

Then just a quick essential pit-stop for coffee at Sumptown. 

And this was it! On the first morning there I did a 90-minute workshop on "Publishing for Illustrators" for about 50 very engaged and wonderful folks in a classroom at the Pacific Northwest College of Art.

It went well! And here's a special thing: one attendee, artist Pascale Steig, sketched me, using actual wet watercolors, while I was teaching. Crazy amazing.

After my talk was done (phew!) I spent most of the rest of the conference in the lovely ballroom of the Portland Art Museum (which has very nice light fixtures).

Listening to an incredible roster of smart and intriguing main-stage speakers, and avidly note-taking (once an academic nerd, always an academic nerd).

Among my favorites were a panel discussion on collaboration between two amazing Chronicle Books authors/illustrators, Susie Ghahremani and Lisa Congdon, and two of my very own lovely Chronicle colleagues Kristen Hewitt and Christina Amini.

Carson Ellis' keynote was another highlight--this is her childhood drawing of two sad unicorns telepathically connected by a rainbow (yes!)

As was the closing keynote by the profoundly charismatic and inspiring Damian Kulash (maker of music and astonishing videos for the band Ok Go).

One evening there was a super cool art show called Work+Play at the Land Gallery (which we were all delivered to load by load in a shiny red double-decker bus).

And of course I did manage to squeeze in some time to visit that absolute definitive Beulah Land for book-lovers--Powell's. 

My only beef with the conference--and it's a tiny one in the midst of all this awesomeness--is that they schedule you from first thing in the morning till late into the night with no break for dinner. Breakfast and lunch are accounted for, but not suppertime. What the heck? Maybe illustrators don't believe in dinner? One night my evening repast consisted of crackers in my hotel room at ten o'clock, the next night I skipped a chunk of programed activities to have a lovely long chatty meal with some illustrator pals both old and new. And on the last night my friend and I ate ice cream cones for dinner while walking from the final talk to the big closing party. Ok, now that I think about it, maybe I'm glad about this whole no-dinner thing, as some lovely experiences ended up coming out of it (ok, well, except for the cracker incident. but one learns from experience).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cabin Life

Have just returned from a two and a half week vacation that included several different parts, a number of which I will discuss, don't you fear, in due course here. But right off the bat I have to tell you about this amazing cabin we stayed in. Perched on the Washington state side of the Columbia River Gorge, we originally chose it off of airbnb primarily for it's location. In the photos on the site it looked nice. But when we got there we discovered it was actually amazing. So utterly charming while not the least precious; so full of books and other treasures; so delightfully situated between woods, meadow, and river; and somehow just so inherently profoundly relaxing a place to be. We were enchanted. And renewed. This cabin can be booked here and it is also a bargain.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Is there anything more gut-wrenching-ly endearing than a sleeping child?