Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Tidal Odyssey: Ed Ricketts and the Making of Between Pacific Tides, by Richard Astro and Donald Kohrs. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, Oregon 2021.

Between Pacific Tides, by Edward F. Ricketts and Jack Calvin, is a guide to the ecology of the Pacific coast intertidal zone, first published in 1939. This remarkable book is still in print, and A Tidal Odyssey is a well researched and richly illustrated biography of author Ed Ricketts and the story of how the bookcame to be.

A Tidal Odyssey is a fond and uncritical portrait of Ricketts, which is its weakness but also its charm. In addition to his contribution to ecology, Ricketts influenced a wide group of writers, artists, scientists, and intellectuals, especially novelist John Steinbeck. This book also aims to correct the picture of who Ricketts was beyond Steinbeck’s character Doc in Cannery Row.

Ed Ricketts crossed over between art and science. This was encouraged at the University of Chicago, which at the time he attended had a “sociological orientation to ecological investigation.” He moved to the central California coastal community of Monterey in 1923, supporting himself and his family with a biological supply business. Nearby Stanford University Hopkins Marine Station was part of Ricketts’ scientific world, while neighboring Carmel, an artist’s colony, nourished his creative side.

The co-author and photographer of Between Pacific Tides was Jack Calvin, who was to live most of his life in Sitka. Ritchie Lovejoy, who made the line drawings, was a writer and artist. Calvin’s wife Sasha Kashevaroff Calvin and her sisters, from Sitka, were also creative and intellectual. Tal Kashevaroff was married to Ritchie Lovejoy, and Xenia Kashevaroff, a book artist, sculptor and performance artist, married John Cage, who was to become famous as an avant-garde composer. Another Sitka connection is Ricketts’ talented daughter Nancy, long a Sitka resident.

Stanford University Press accepted Between Pacific Tides in 1931 but it was not until 1939 that the book appeared in print. The main obstacles were that a similar guide was already in print, and that the Great Depression was under way. After 1935, the delays were related to the massive effort required to compile and edit the book, especially the detailed list of species, complete with an up-to-date bibliography on each. In November 1936 Ricketts lost his lab, which was also his home, in a fire. It was a huge emotional setback and took a lot of his time and energy to rebuild.

Some authorities on Ricketts and his times attributed the publishing delay to resistance by Walter K. Fisher, the head of Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, because Ricketts was not an academically qualified biologist. However, Astro and Kohrs show that Fisher always respected Ricketts as a “collector of considerable experience,” and that his concern was over who the audience would be, and whether they’d be more interested in a straight identification guide to marine life.

A Tidal Odyssey discusses the battle over whether or not to “popularize” science, but the examples given, such as the description, by Ricketts and Calvin, of hermit crabs as the “the clowns of the sea shore” haven’t aged well and are not what help connect the reader to the magic of nature. Between Pacific Tides was to have been one part of a comprehensive guide to the coastal ecology of the entire Pacific Coast, but Ricketts did not live to see this project accomplished. He died in 1948 when his car was hit by a train.

Ricketts was passionately interested in meaning, and in bringing art, literature, nature, and experience together into a “unified theory” of existence, but his philosophical writings are hard going and were consistently rejected for publication. His friend Joseph Campbell did manage to bring world myth into a single framework, but he had to pick and choose myths to fit his theory. Maybe that’s why Ricketts’s letters and other writings are still interesting today, because his approach did not allow simplifying his ideas into one theory.

Between Pacific Tides is famous for its ecological approach, unusual for its time, in which creatures and their evolution are an integral part of the environment, and of communities of other creatures. Astro and Kohrs quote Ricketts that “everything is an index of everything else . . . and that to understand nature means to discern the relationship of its constituent parts.” But reading it today, what stands out is how Ricketts and Calvin didn’t talk down to their readers. It isn’t dry and hard to read, like many scientific papers, but it isn’t dumbed down or oversimplified, either. Ricketts and Calvin invited readers to make their own connections to nature and to life, not just to get new information, but to generate insights and to experience joy.

A Tidal Odyssey is a portrait of perseverance and curiosity, and an engaging view into a time and place when people wrote novels with insights from biology and studied biology with insights from philosophy. This is relevant today because then, as now, scientists sometimes lose sight of the interconnections of nature as they pursue ever more specialized work and technical methods.

Scientists can forget that science is inherently cultural. Humanities scholars, too, can lose sight of the way human societies depend on the non-human world. By taking us into the world where Between Pacific Tides was created, A Tidal Odyssey reminds us that rigorous science is essential for understanding society, and that the humanities are a necessary foundation for the practice of science.

This approach could be wonderfully productive for us now, as the humanities continue to lose ground in education, and the sciences are the lesser for it.

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Updated Post at Historic Preservation Sitka

The above photo was taken October 23 2019, and is of the back side (West) of Stevenson Hall (1911), one of a suite of buildings forming the campus quadrangle of the Sheldon Jackson School National Historic Landmark. The contractor has gutted the building, and is preparing to build a two-story addition, of about 20 feet square, that would copy the jerkin-head gable roof.

The small addition on the right, built in the 1920s, will be rebuilt with a balcony for a roof. The design of the addition, the balcony, and a new bay window on the north side are a loss of the original architecture on the North and West facades, but were approved with the idea that they will be mostly out of sight from the primary, East facade and the Sheldon Jackson quadrangle.

Update June 2021

Fully restoring, rather than replacing, historic windows saves money. Inserts provide equivalent efficiency and better acoustic performance compared to insulated windows. Restored originals last longer, and look better. The Sitka Music Festival decided to replace windows, instead, but the main problem was that instead of specifying replica windows, they specified Anderson brand vinyl- and fiberglass-clad new-construction windows. The Anderson windows would have made this building look much different from the adjacent buildings.

Fortunately, the Festival decided not to use the Anderson windows, and instead got replicas which are very similar in appearance to the originals. It is possible that the Anderson windows could not physically work in the building, which has elaborate and continuous trim (the Anderson type windows are made to have picture-frame or no trim). Whatever the reason, it is commendable that the Sitka Music Festival did choose replicas, and not Anderson windows, so the building blends in with the others in the suite.

One downside is that replica windows are extremely costly: Restoration was estimated by a professional shop in Seattle at $1300 each (windows could be transported in a container, via barge); the Anderson windows were quoted at $2300 each; the windows they got in the end are somewhere in the $5000 to $7500 range (the Festival has a fund raising campaign for them). Other downsides of replica windows compared to fully restored originals are a limited life span (insulated glass loses its seal, plastic parts deteriorate, and they are not made to be repaired).

This points to the need for more information, and a higher profile of historic preservation options, so that owners of older buildings can learn about what they have, and can investigate alternatives, both for historical integrity and for cost efficiency, early on: Then owners not only get the cost savings and high quality for their own organization, but the community also gains from the historical, aesthetic and economic benefits of historic preservation. Hopefully other organizations and individuals can learn from the Sitka Music Festival experience, plan ahead, and do the math, and look at the options.

Sitka Summer Music Festival’s Plans for Stevenson Hall

The Sitka Summer Music Festival is rehabilitating Stevenson Hall, on the Sheldon Jackson School National Historic Landmark, as a year-round center for the arts. This $4.2 million project is a fabulous thing for our community.

The Festival’s architectural plans call for adding a two-story addition, a balcony, and a bay window “bump-out,” and for completely gutting and replacing the interior. These changes have been approved by the State Historic Preservation Office.

What’s the problem? The Festival’s plans also call for replacement of all the building’s windows, with Andersen A-Series new-construction windows.

(See the Documents page for information and references on replacing and restoring wood windows.)

There are three big problems with this: one is that these are new-construction windows, that mount from the exterior with a flange, and so require replacement of all the trim with something different, and also require adding framing in the walls. They have fake dividers, and the exterior is “clad” with fiberglass and vinyl. So they would never look right, and neither could the trim; the building would look different from the others on the quad. That’s not good. (Another issue is the longevity of replacement windows, that have insulated glass. They do not last more than a few decades then must be replaced again.)

The second problem is expense to the Festival. Even in the short term, it is actually cheaper to have windows completely restored, to new condition, by one of the professionals in the Seattle area. That is even before factoring in the cost to add wall framing and to replace all the trim. Another cost factor to consider is the replacement of the replacements, in a few decades. (Adding interior glazing makes traditional windows the near equivalent as far as insulation; you never make up in savings for heat what you spend for replacing windows.)

The third, but important, consideration with window replacement is that this is a National Historic Landmark; even if it weren’t, the history and aesthetics of this place are important to Sitka. Unlike a regular construction project, what is done on this building has an impact on the entire community, even our economy, and so planning has to include historical considerations. The Sitka Summer Music Festival has the stewardship responsibility, to the community, and to future generations, to preserve the historic qualities of this structure. In addition, this property has mandatory plat notes, and, until October 2019, a covenant, both of which require work on the building follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

The good news is, it isn’t hard to do. It just takes good planning. Taking history into consideration is rewarding. Learning about, and from, the craftsmanship of master builders from a hundred years ago, doing the research, consultation, and problem solving in current best practice is rewarding. Experts at the Park Service and the State Office of History and Archaeology have deep expertise and can connect the Festival with similar projects around the country. It just takes a willingness, and interest in those qualities. Being open to new ideas (instead of relying on conventional methods) can also save a great deal of money.

The Standards are common-sense guidelines for working on historic properties. The basic concept is to first identify the important features of the building, then plan work to preserve those features as much as possible. It is not at all difficult; it just takes good planning.

There are four Standards. The most commonly applied are those for Rehabilitation, which are for when you are updating a building for a new use.

The field of historic preservation is constantly developing, and the techniques, products and services available today mean quality preservation can also be cost-effective and efficient. You can completely modernize a building, and retain its historic integrity, too, and you can do it at less cost than a conventional renovation.

The main “character-defining features” have been identified for Stevenson Hall, in a 2004 Historic Preservation Plan, and the windows are the most important feature. The Standards call for preservation of historic materials. When a part is too damaged to save, it should be replaced in kind – with something that looks like, and as much as possible is like, the original.

Replacing windows on this particular building does not comply with the Standards, because they are important, and repairable.

Restoration (to new condition, with any damaged wood replaced with new wood, clear finish on the interior, and metal weatherstripping) is estimated by one company in Seattle at about $1300 each for the largest windows. (Windows could be shipped south in a shipping container). Interior glazing costs only a few hundred, even for ones that open. This is much less than even the Andersen windows, which are $2300 each, just for the window before installation. (Windows that would look appropriate are several times that amount.) The money saved by restoring instead of replacing is more than enough for shipping, storm windows, and any needed repairs to window jambs. There are 46 windows in the original Stevenson Hall. The math alone is a compelling case for restoration.

With today’s preservation technology, professionally restored windows with interior storm windows (and there are models that open) are as energy efficient as, and acoustically superior to, replacement windows. Restored wood windows also outlast insulated glass replacement windows – whether of wood, fiberglass, or vinyl. (See main post for details.)

The other buildings on the Sheldon Jackson National Historic Landmark are being preserved and windows have already been successfully restored. None of the windows has required replacement.

Replacement, even with something that looks right, is a last resort and in this case it is not necessary. Restoration is practical and cost-effective.

As part of a federal grant to the Festival in 2014, a covenant on the property requires that plans be approved by the Alaska State Historic Preservation Office. In January 2019 the SHPO officially approved the Festival’s plans – other than the window replacement.

Since January 2019, the Sitka Summer Music Festival has had some correspondence with the SHPO, and met with the State Historic Preservation Officer and the National Park Service Senior Historic Architect when they came to Sitka for this in July, but have apparently not been open to discussing alternatives to replacing windows.

In late August 2019, the Festival board president wrote a letter to the State Historic Preservation Office proposing, instead of Andersen A-Series , a different kind of new-construction replacement windows, Kolbe Tradition Heritage. While these are wood, and look good, they have the same problems as the Andersen, in installing from the outside; these come with their own trim, attached at the factory, which means they could not work on Stevenson Hall, with its unique, complex trim.

They are substantially more expensive, and have less longevity than the Andersen windows: the ten year warranty, with only five years on the glass, is half that for the Andersen windows. Working parts (the slides on the sides of the sash) are plastic. Like other replacement windows, they would have to be replaced within a few decades at most.

The State Historic Preservation Office replied on September 6th, reiterating the Standards and asking for technical information that would justify replacing the windows. As of January 29 2020, the Festival had not responded.

Sitka Summer Music Festival Public Presentation October 13

On October 13, the Festival held a public presentation, and their Project Manager committed to, if they replace windows, installing wood, true-divided lite windows in such a way that the original trim can be reinstalled. This is a huge step in the right direction, although it still assumes replacement. What is still lacking is research into the facts and numbers around restoration.

Holding a public presentation and discussion was itself a major step forward. A lack of communication is never good. The Festival’s Project Manager had a slide show of their general plans, and there was discussion of window options by the audience, board members and the project manager.

The Project Manager stated that they would reuse most of the board-and-batten siding, which is more good news. (Update: none of the exterior siding or trim was saved.) (They are also replacing missing decorative corbels, and restoring an interior stairway to its original configuration.)

Also positive was the Project Manager’s statement that they will reuse the original window trim. This is one of the big problems with replacement with new-construction windows such as Andersen; they way they install, from the exterior, means the original trim has to be scrapped because it won’t fit any more.

The Project Manager stated that he has experience installing windows within the wall, to get the correct depth (instead of mounting windows in the usual way for new construction windows, with a flange so they are flush with the exterior).

So if windows are replaced, the Project Manager stated that they would be like the originals – true divided lite, wood, installed in the same place in the wall so that the original trim can be reused.

Interestingly, this puts the Festival back where they were several years ago: the choice was between professional restoration of the original windows and adding interior glazing; or, replacing with windows that would install and look nearly the same.

A replacement window like this is going to be expensive, in the neighborhood of $3000-$7500 each. The Festival had a professional cost estimate at both the 35% and the 65% phase, which apparently did compare the costs of restoration vs. replacement with windows as close to in-kind as possible. The original windows are not in bad shape and many have already been restored on other buildings on campus, including all of Allen Hall. This is why, three years ago, the architect recommended restoration. (The architect left the project in May 2019; the Festival has a different architect now.)

There is also the problem of sourcing replacement windows that would work on Stevenson Hall, because the trim is unique and unconventional (see below for photos). The Kolbe windows specified in the Festival’s August letter can’t be installed using trim made on site. The trim on those windows is attached at the factory, and is how they install (instead of using a mounting flange like most new-construction windows). It is possible that Kolbe can make a custom window that would allow using Stevenson Hall’s unique trim, or perhaps this is a product that some other company makes.

The main thing, of course, before deciding to replace windows, is first to investigate whether and how the originals can be retained.

One thing that was concerning in the presentation were the statements made that replacement windows are cheaper, better, and longer lasting than restoration, statements that are simply not supported by facts, even though it is easy to find this information, with many studies done by states, universities and other entities. The claim was also made that even though the cost to restore windows would be about $1300, that the cost would be over $4000 each, a figure not supported by the professional cost estimates done earlier, nor by construction practice.

It is critically important that questions like – how much does restoration cost – how long does a professionally restored window last compared to a new wood window – whether these windows can be restored – what are the acoustics of double pane glass vs. single pane with interior storms – can and should be settled in fact. This critical decision – whether to restore or replace windows – must be based on facts, not assumptions or opinions.

Making a decision on a project of any size without basing it on verifiable information is unwise, to say the least, even if we weren’t talking about tens even hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a National Historic Landmark, and a decision that will have an impact on generations to come.

A logical place to start is for the Sitka Summer Music Festival to talk to a window restoration company, and to ask the National Park Service for other organizations who have restored windows and talk to them about their experiences. They could even send pictures of some windows to a restoration business to get a professional opinion on what it would take and what it would cost.

One other positive step is that the Project Manager stated that the Festival architect is working on drawings for the State Historic Preservation Office, even though the Covenant expired in early October.

These drawings of how windows would be installed would presumably include finding a source for a new window that would work on this building, pricing, and taking a critical look at durability. Why not task the architect or another professional with looking into the practicalities and costs of restoration, as well?

Another useful piece of information for the Festival to have is to get an engineer to determine what would be the cost differential in operating (heating) costs of restored, weather-stripped windows with storm windows, vs. restored originals with no storms, vs. replacement. The Festival plans include a highly efficient, state-of-the-art heat pump system, full mechanical ventilation, insulated walls, and full air sealing. In fact, weather-stripped single-strength glass might be all that is needed.

If acoustics are the overriding concern, there are interior storm windows made for this purpose. Any storm window outperforms double-pane glass because of the physics of sound.

One audience member told about how at Colonial Williamsburg buildings have their original windows, no storm windows, and no visible air handling equipment, and yet have museum-quality climate control. The weather when she visited was extremely hot and humid outdoors, but comfortable inside these 200-year-old buildings.

The Project Manager stated that the climate on the East Coast made it possible to achieve climate control but that it would not be possible in our climate. This would be interesting to investigate, as our climate is milder year-round, without the extremes of heat and cold, and it doesn’t make sense that this would not be possible here.

Fundamental to the Festival’s decision making is to have a professional cost estimate of the two options, for replacement (as near in-kind as possible) vs. restoration. This should include life cycle costs – how long the two options last and the price for replacement, and the differential in operational costs. When you are talking tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars, that piece of professional consulting is a critical investment.

The other thing that was concerning in the October 13th meeting was the project manager’s statement that the Festival’s plans are in compliance with the plat notes. This is not true. Even if the organization believes that the plat notes are not enforceable, that is not the same thing as being in compliance. The important thing is to honor the intention, which is that work will use the Secretary’s Standards. The State Historic Preservation Office is the interpreter of the Standards, and that approval is still pending.

As several Sitkans stated at the meeting, the overriding issue is to be good stewards, which means using the Standards as a guiding document.

In committing to keeping siding and window trim, working with the SHPO, and researching what it would take to have new windows that look like the originals, and continuing to be engaged, the Sitka Summer Music Festival is moving in a good direction.

The steps still needed for the Festival to be good stewards of this historic property are to work to meet the spirit of the Standards, and to research the how and what of restoring windows – to base this decision on facts and best practices in historic preservation. We all want the same thing, which is a historic, efficient, comfortable, accessible home for the arts. We all should be working together, with data and collective good intent.

Other Notes

It’s hard to know what the objections are to restoring windows, but it seems to rely on inaccurate assumptions about what historic preservation is. This is not unusual. Basically, historic rehabilitation is the same as any other building renovation, having the goal of an efficient, comfortable, low maintenance building. The only difference is that when you have a historic building, you first identify what it is that makes that building historic – the character-defining features – then carefully plan the work to retain those features as much as possible.

It does not mean leaving things rotten or drafty! Historic preservation science and technology has advanced quite a bit in recent decades, with increased interest in it for economic, environmental and aesthetic reasons. Saving wood windows has gone mainstream, with articles in popular magazines, including Forbes and Fine Home Building. Historic preservation is absolutely compatible with modern comfort and efficiency, but many people don’t know that. This is part of why this blog exists, to spread knowledge about what it is and the benefits, and how you can even save money with this approach.

See main post for details on the importance of the windows to the architecture. In addition, this building is one of a matching suite, and has a twin across the quad. Those other buildings are being restored.

Having Stevenson Hall lose its distinctive appearance and historic integrity would be unfortunate, permanent, and obvious, an unfortunate legacy indeed.

In addition, modern preservation science, products and services mean that restoration and adding interior storm windows have the same benefits, and more longevity and less cost, than replacement.

This is a big, prominent project. By acknowledging the stewardship responsibility that comes with owning a National Historic Landmark, reaching out to and working with historic preservation professionals and the local community, this will be a project everyone can be proud of.

The Sitka Summer Music Festival has not yet (as of late October) responded to the State Historic Preservation Office since late August. The covenant on the property expired on October 6th. The State Historic Preservation Officer sent a letter Friday October 4.

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The 2020 Outer Coast Calendar is available from www.theoutercoast.com, or buy in stores in Sitka, or bookstores in Alaska and a few select places in the North West – including Powells Books in Portland and Elliott Bay Books in Seattle.

I’ll also be at the Alaska Juneau Public Market on Thanksgiving weekend 2019 and at the Sitka Artisans Market December 6-8. I’ll also have original wood engraving prints and notecards, which are also available on the website.

Calendars are printed in color on heavy, vellum-surface Natural colored paper by Alaska Litho in Juneau, Alaska U.S.A.

This calendar features my original art, poetry by Alaskans and other greats, gardening reminders for southeastern Alaska, and wilderness anniversaries. It opens out to 11 x 17 inches (8 1/2 by 11 closed), has a handy hole for hanging, and, has complete year of 2021 on the last page. The price is $15 but there are discounts starting at two.

This year’s calendar is built around the theme of Friends.

Poetry includes lines from Walt Whitman and William Shakespeare.

This calendar also features work by Alaska writer John Straley, novelist and poet, and some beautiful, inspiring work by Caroline Goodwin.

Below are the images from the 2020 calendar:

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Raven in Snow

Raven in Snow

Muskeg in the Fall

Muskeg in the Fall

Bluebells in a Whiskey Bottle

Bluebells in a Whiskey Bottle

Spring Stars

Spring Stars

Poulson wood engraving Summer Sunset Troller

Poulson wood engraving Summer Sunset Troller

Poulson engraving Opheim Skiff

Poulson engraving Opheim Skiff

Kachemak Bay T-shirt Design

Kachemak Bay T-shirt Design

My pal Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock recently published a young adult novel, The Smell of Other People’s Houses. It’s good! She has a really nice touch, it’s super well done, and gets some of that flavor of growing up in Alaska in the 1970s and 80s, which might be kind of like growing up in a lot of rural places in that era. It’s authentic without trying too hard. I read a lot of young adult novels, reading to my kids at night, and skimming things my kids bring home, and this is the cream. It’s a good book by any standard, a real gem.

Anyway her publisher, Random House/Penguin/Dell commissioned me to make pictures for the “part titles” for the four sections of the book, and a picture for the title page.

This was last summer, and the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Society commissioned me to make a t-shirt design for the Wooden Boat Festival, for which I did a wood engraving of an Opheim Skiff.

All these wood engravings are available as prints, hand-printed from the block on a vintage 1929 hand-cranked proofing press.

They are all cut from 3″ x 4″ blocks, some of them, like the flowers and the skiff, on the diagonal.

They are $30 each, and can be ordered thru my website www.theoutercoast.com, or send me a message thru this blog, or FaceBook (Rebecca Poulson).


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Oregon, August 2014: waiting for the play in Ashland,

and, the Saturday Market in Eugene.


And Sitka today, in September: jumping into Beaver Lake,

and hiking back down to Herring Cove.

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It’s here! You can buy on line, or from stores in Alaska and beyond, in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho! Cover 2015

More about the calendar, as well as original prints and notecards, the order form and more are at my website The Outer Coast (theoutercoast.com).

I’ve published the calendar since 1995, and in full color since 2008.

I am very proud of it being printed in the United States, in fact in Juneau, Alaska, at the employee-owned Alaska Litho.

Here is a slide show of the other images in the calendar. The poetry and quotes are by Alaskan poets Caroline Goodwin, John Straley, Pete Weiland, young poet Anja Brooks-Schmidt, with classic lines from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward Lear, William Wordsworth, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Walt Whitman, on a theme of being in the moment.

I think it’s the best yet, but I always think that. Enjoy.

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This morning had the chance to work with kindergarten kids in Mrs. Matiatos’s classroom at Baranof Elementary School, in Sitka Alaska. This is an amazing group of kids. Last week for first lesson we looked at slides of Willem deKooning’s and Jackson Pollock’s art, and talked about this picture:

Excavation by Willem de Kooning, 1950, 81 x 100 1/4 inches, Art Institute of Chicago

Excavation by Willem de Kooning, 1950, 81 x 100 1/4 inches, Art Institute of Chicago

then did abstract paintings using a limited palette:

IMG071small IMG070small IMG072small

Today we looked at some paintings by Helen Frankenthaler,

Mountains and Sea, 1952, 85 1/2 inches by 117 1/4 inches, National Gallery of Art

Mountains and Sea, 1952, 85 1/2 inches by 117 1/4 inches, National Gallery of Art

and saw some pictures of her, working.

I also showed them how enormous these pictures are, and tell them where they are, so they can know they can go visit them.

It’s funny how different groups respond to pictures differently. For these kids it was all about COLOR. I was blown away by their work:

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Another sunny day on Monday – and hot. My boy wanted to go for a hike up Verstovia, but all the way up to the peaky rocky top. I told him we’d see how it felt. We went up to the last cliff, where there is a little goat path around the face, and then there is a route through the heather to the top. But – below the little path it goes straight down a scraggy cliff. Maybe because last week a girl was killed in an ATV accident – and, like everyone else, I’ve done my share of stupid things –  I felt like this time it was a good thing to model saying no to temptation.

It was an amazing view from up high. And hot! It was so fun to hike with the boy. We took art materials, and both sat in the shade and drew the peak from the first peak.

Arrowhead by AsasmallThe boy’s picture, in colored pencil. He’s 9 years old but obviously a genius.

Arrowhead watercolor smallMy watercolor of the same view, as he pointed out, I made the mountain too small – I was trying to also draw the valley. First principle of art: it can only be about one thing.

Asa's drawing 2012smallHere is his drawing from last summer, from different mountain. See the charter boats returning to town –

IMG_5395smallThe mountain.



Luetkea pectinataIMG_5406small






IMG_9784smallGood bye, mountain!

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Watercolor I made of the lake, not showing everyone getting sunburned in it

Here is a watercolor I made of the lake – not showing everyone getting sunburned in it.

On Sunday it was hot in Sitka! We never did get a day like this last year. So a few of us went for a hike.





Some of the boys went up around the corner, where there had been a landslide.






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I have been publishing this calendar, The Outer Coast, for a while now, and I think this is the best yet.

You can see it all at www.theoutercoast.com.

I started out inspired by the Cat Lovers Against the Bomb calendar. It was all black and white. My first calendar was for Christmas gifts in 1993,  made on the copier at the office supply store. I used wood engravings by my brother as well as my own. The text was the lyrics to Stardust:

And now the purple dusk of twilight time
Steals across the meadows of my heart . . .

For a long time I had the calendar printed in black and white, then full color. We can’t do full color here in Sitka, so I went to Juneau, to Alaska Litho, and had several pages in color for 2007.  It’s a lot more expensive, but there’s no going back – I love it.

It’s also cheaper to get color printing done “off shore” as they say, in Korea or China, but I grew up in a print shop, and like to keep it local.

The theme this year is Ecstatic Connection to Nature.

It started out with learning more about Ed Ricketts, a marine biologist and great thinker, the model for Steinbeck’s character Doc in Cannery Row. He and Sitkan Jack Calvin wrote Between Pacific Tides, published in 1939, one of the first handbooks to group animals by habitat rather than taxonomically (all worms together; all mollusks together; etc.). He was arguably a founder of ecological thinking – he called it Nonteleological Thinking – where instead of looking at creation as a sort of pyramid with Man at the top, we look at the world as being organized and existing for its own sake, and we are merely participants. Great stuff.

I wanted some good quotes, but searched in vain: Ricketts is not quotable.  But, my friend Caroline Goodwin had written some beautiful poems, and got me to look again at Gerard Manley Hopkins, who was ecstatic. He finally dropped poetry to become a Catholic monk.

The art is all wood engravings and watercolor sketches by me.  I did two new wood engravings this year, a waterfall and devil’s club. The watercolors are mainly done while at Forest Service cabins or hikes.

You can buy it at independent bookstores in Alaska, as well as Powells in Portland and Elliot Bay Books in Seattle (stores are listed on my website), or directly from my website (www.theoutercoast.com).

On the website I have special quantity deals.  So you can get a bunch of calendars at a very reasonable price, and give them to everyone you love, as well as acquaintances, your mailman, babysitter, etc. The gift that gives all year. And beyond, since there is a calendar for 2014 on the last page.

And – anniversaries of things like the Prinsendam and botanists’ birthdays; gardening reminders (from an actual gardener, Kitty LaBounty); and moon phases for the Alaskan time zone.

Thank you.

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