Sound Byte – A Poem


Morning Flight © 2014 Bo Mackison

Morning Flight © 2014 Bo Mackison

Sound Byte

The sound was so even, so precise,
I looked around the room, half-expecting
to see the old rocker swaying,
inhabited by grandmother’s ghost.

But no, it was the creak of Canada geese —
their approach, fly over, diminuendo.
And I was held in stillness — breathless
at the wonder of it all.


Playing with words is a part of the practice on the Contemplative Creatives Journey, of holding an awareness of what catches your attention. What are the connections made without thought? What insight comes when transcribing words from thought to writing, the moment not lost but gently held?

Please consider joining me on the Contemplative Creatives Journey, an online workshop and community. Beginning December 1st, 2016.


Annual Alphabet Tribute: 2014 — Part I (AIR TRAVEL thru EPCOT)

Welcome to my Holiday Tradition – my 7 th Annual Photo Alphabet.

I’ll be posting my annual photo alphabet in six parts over the next week or so.

I hope you’ll join me as I explore  a few of my adventures, travel, and life happenings from 2014 with words and photos.


Flying from Madison to NYC

Flying in the Clouds © 2014 Bo Mackison

Never a fan of air travel, I nonetheless took a high number of flights (for me) across the country this year. I’m happiest in an airplane when I have great cloud formations to photograph while flying and great people waiting to greet me at the end of my trip.


Flight Delay © 2014 Bo Mackison

I am not such a fan when the Flight Delay sign shows up and doesn’t go away — though a friendly flight companion and a hotel paid for by the airlines goes a long ways to making the delay a tolerable way to pass an evening and a night and another day.

Flying from Madison to NYC

New York City from the Sky © 2014 Bo Mackison

Tucson, Arizona; San Fransisco; Salt Lake City; Minneapolis; Orlando; Atlanta, Georgia; New York City; Asheville, North Carolina; Newark, New Jersey; Dallas; Chicago. And many take offs and landings at Madison, Wisconsin.

Meetings. An Ordination. Vacations. Workshops. A Baby Shower. A Grand-baby Arrival.

All good adventures!


Title Page on Letterpress

Title Page on Letterpress © 2014 Bo Mackison

I love creating books! I love creating pages of books on the letterpress! I set the type for my Desert Wisdom Cards on this 1940s letter press.

Letter Type

Letter Type © 2014 Bo Mackison

Love the metal type. Love the clickity-clack of the letter press as each page is printed using a cylinder roll and a hand crank!

Flying Across the Sky

Flying Across the Sky Book © 2014 Bo Mackison

I made books during the whole year. Many of them had a desert connection, like book about the road runner. Many were very simple — often accordion books — that could be made in a few hours. Most of the books had a naturalist focus so I could remember details of the desert as I discovered them.


Blue Fiori Sun, 2013

Blue Fiori Sun, 2013 © 2014 Bo Mackison

My favorite art show this year wasn’t in a gallery, but in a garden! I visited the Chihuly Exhibit held in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix not once, but three times last winter.

Red Reeds at Twilight

Red Reeds at Twilight © 2014 Bo Mackison

The Botanical Gardens are one of my must-see places whenever I get to Phoenix, but this year I was drawn to the gardens over and over — just could not get enough of those art glass sculptures set in the natural desert setting.


Desert Wisdom Cards - Series II

Desert Wisdom Cards – Series II © 2014 Bo Mackison

In October of 2014, after many more months of photographing the Sonoran Desert in the Southwest, choosing themes and cards that “spoke to me”, I created a new deck of  Desert Wisdom Cards – Series III.

As I have said before, it was not my original plan to create a deck of only desert-focused cards. I’d planned a set of cards with four nature themes – desert, shore, prairie, and mountain – plus a set of source cards the combined sets based on the template of a tarot deck. But I couldn’t let go of the desert, and so these cards complement the first 2 series and there are now 52 desert cards. (Information on obtaining your own set of Desert Wisdom Cards here.)

This was my big art project of the year. I think the desert is now complete!



Epcot in Rainstorm/Twilight © 2014 Bo Mackison

One of my favorite things to do is to drop everything and go on vacation with one of my kids when they call and say, “Mom, do you want to go with me to _______?”

My answer is a resounding YES!

And so the allure of Epcot and the Annual Wine and Food Festival called to my youngest and I tagged happily along. Florida in September is…thunderstorm-y and wet — but only in the afternoon (and on a few select evenings!) We were there at the end of September so we not only enjoyed the Food Festival, but the Halloween Party was in full swing, too.

It’s a good thing to add fun and play to the year, and a trip that involved family, food and wine (and tequila), Halloween fireworks, and roller-coasters? Perfect for that smile factor boost!


Coming up next: the Alphabet Part II — Fur Friends through Journey



Experimenting – Actually, Mostly Playing – from an Airplane Window: Part II, Clouds, Clouds, Clouds

Flying from Madison to NYC

“Clouds pass and disperse.
Are those the faces of love, those pale irretrievables?
Is it for such I agitate my heart?”
~ Sylvia Plath, from Ariel

Flying from Madison to NYC

“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious. And why shouldn’t it be?–it is the same the angels breathe.”
~ Mark Twain, from Roughing It

Flying from Madison to NYC

“We pledge to fight ‘blue-sky’ thinking wherever we find it. Life would be dull if we had to look up at cloudless monotony day after day.”
~ Gavin Pretor-Pinney, from The Cloud-spotter’s Guide

Flying from Madison to NYC

Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place. Every bit of you has been replaced many times over… The point is that you are like a cloud: something that persists over long periods, whilst simultaneously being in flux. Matter flows from place to place and momentarily comes together to be you. Whatever you are, therefore, you are not the stuff of which you are made.”
~ Steve Grand

Flying from Madison to NYC

“Clouds suit my mood just fine.”
~ Marie Lu, from Champion

Flying from Madison to NYC

“There was a star riding through clouds one night, & I said to the star, ‘Consume me’.”
~ Virginia Woolf, from The Waves

Flying from Madison to NYC

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore, from Stray Birds

6th Annual Photo Alphabet – Elephants to Highways

E is for Elephants.

Magic Kingdom

Flying Elephants © 2013 Bo Mackison

Realizing a dream can be as unlikely as seeing a flying elephant.

Once upon a time, I used to ignore the elephant in the living room. Eventually I accepted the elephant, figured out what needed to be done about its occupancy, and I did the work.

Now I go in search of flying elephants.

And, once in a while, I find one!


F is for Freedom.

Pelicans in Flight, Kure Beach North Carolina

Free Flight © 2013 Bo Mackison

“. . . as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.” ~ C. Joybell C.

There is a certain freedom that comes with spreading your wings and taking flight.

Whether that flight is to a new country, a new home, or a new idea, embarking on a new beginning has a freeing quality. One can never leave the past entirely, but dragging it all along makes for slow travel. Leaving the baggage behind makes it easier to let “the winds carry you.”


G is for Gifts and Grandmothers.


Grandmother © 2013 Bo Mackison

I grew up in a house filled with grandmothers.

Or so it seemed to me. There were two grandmothers – a grandmother and a great-grandmother.

I do not remember playing with either of my grandmothers.

But I do remember being unconditionally accepted, appreciated, and deeply loved by them.

I remember learning to be of help. If my grandmother was sewing – she was a seamstress, a business woman, a solopreneur  in the middle of the last century – I was given the job of sorting thread by color or winding yarn or finding a dropped needle. If my great-grandmother was making noodles, I cracked eggs and kneaded dough. My grandmothers usually included me as they went about their work.

One of my earlier memories was after dinner, when the family gathered to relax and read the daily newspaper. I always impatiently waited as they slowly read each page, every column, every want ad.  Then they discussed the news in detail. But once my grandparents finished with the paper, they would call me.

“Dear, I circled a letter for you in this headline. Do you know the name of the letter?”

“Yes,” I’d eagerly reply. ” A ‘P'”.

Then I was given a colored pencil and told to circle as many ‘P’s’ as I could find in five minutes. When the timer buzzed, we’d count the circles together, and I would proudly write the number on the kitchen wall calendar. No pressure, no goals, just a loving, learning practice.

Routines, rituals, traditions. Another way to express love.

This October, I became a grandmother. What an amazing experience. As I look into the eyes of this three-month old baby, my heart swells with love.

It is my hope that I offer my granddaughter a fraction of the gifts my grandmothers gave me.


H is for Highways.


Desert Highway © 2013 Bo Mackison

Nothing heightens my anticipation and excitement more than a road trip.

I love following highways, especially the kind that zig around mountains, pass through open spaces – desert, prairie, grasslands. This year I discovered that I love driving the open road, solo. Stop wherever I want, photograph whatever and whenever for as long as the subject holds my attention, take a detour just to see what is beyond that next rise in the road.

Traveling cross-country from the Southwest to the Midwest this past spring was ten days of delight.

Only once did I question my sanity — when driving on a 12,000 foot peak in Colorado, negotiating hairpin turns with no reassuring guard rails. It was  the first spring snow melt which scattered mini-avalanches of snow and tumbled rock on the road. But even that turned into quite the adventure. Once I descended the celestial roads, I knew I’d negotiated those roads with care and good sense, and conquered my fear of mountain driving on the outside lane.

I took my time, pulled off at the designated places for plenty of calming and rest, took a few photographs, had a snack and a drink. I gave plenty of space to the passing timber trucks, whose drivers had much more experience on these roads than I did (or so I hoped), and I planned my route so I was settled in a town by evening.

I acknowledged my limitations, and appreciated the skills I possessed.


Want to read Part I? Here it is — Arizona to Desert

Coming tomorrow, Part III : Invitation to Labyrinth

Flying Home

Ascending from Tucson

Ascending from Tucson

Leaving Tucson, the scenery is breathtaking. The city is surrounded by mountains – mostly browns with just a hint of green from spring rains.

Flying over Snow Crested Mountains

Flying over Snow Crested Mountains

Further east, flying over the Rockies on the eastern side of Arizona. Lovely snow crested mountains. What a flight – always something to see.