Renewal – A Desert Meditation


Renewal © 2013 Bo Mackison

“You are sand, wind, sun, and burning sky,
The hottest blue. You blow a breeze and brand
Your breath into my mouth. You reach—then bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.”

~ Benjamin Alire Sáenz, from “To the Desert” in Dark and Perfect Angels

A Walk through a Japanese Garden


Pine Point in the Japanese Garden at Chicago Botanic Gardens

Pine Point in the Japanese Garden at Chicago Botanic Gardens ©2013 Bo Mackison

“The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden.” ~ Thomas Moore

Crossing the Arched Bridge

Crossing the Arched Bridge to the Japanese Garden ©2013 Bo Mackison

“Japanese gardens ask that you go beyond the garden spiritually, that you look at the garden not merely as an object but also as a path into the realms of spirit.”
— Makoto Ooka in The Temple in the House

Tree Roots

Tree Roots © 2013 Bo Mackison

“The garden reconciles human art and wild nature, hard work and deep pleasure, spiritual practice and the material world. It is a magical place because it is not divided.”
— Thomas Moore

Zigzag Bridge

Zigzag Bridge © 2013 Bo Mackison

“If you want to reach the infinite, then explore every aspect of the finite.”
–  Goethe 

Garden Path

Garden Path © 2013 Bo Mackison

“When a garden is used as a place to pause for thought, that is when a Zen garden comes to life. When you contemplate a garden like this it will form as lasting impression on your heart.”
— Muso Soseki in The Temple in the House


Bo Mackison is photographer, book-maker, collector of stories, naturalist, curator and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Strolling in a garden – a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Photographs from Japanese Garden, Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Type is Set — Desert Wisdom on the Vandercook Letterpress

Title Page on Letterpress

Title Page on Vandercook Cylinder Letterpress © 2013 Bo Mackison

let-ter-press  noun ˈle-tər-ˌpres  “Letterpress printing is a term for the relief printing of text and image using a press with a “type-high bed” printing press and movable type, in which a reversed, raised surface is inked and then pressed into a sheet of paper to obtain a positive right-reading image.” from wikipedia


Letterpress Bed © 2013 Bo Mackison

I finished printing the Desert Wisdom Cards on the letterpress last week. This week I set and printed the title page. Can you read the title page from the type that is set on the letterpress bed?


Desert Wisdom Colophon ©2013 Bo Mackison


Once the title page was printed, I set the colophon. What is a colophon? 

colophon  col-o-phon  noun ˈkä-lə-fən, -ˌfän  “A brief description of publication or production notes relevant to the edition, in modern books usually located at the verso of the title-leaf, but also sometimes located at the end of the book…often included a good deal of additional information on the book, including statements of limitation, data on paper, ink, type and binding, and other technical details.” (from wikipedia)

The word colophon is from the Latin word kolophōn which means “summit” or “finishing touch”. I included a colophon in the Desert Wisdom Cards, and after printing a mere seven lines of type and my wisdom card logo, I truly felt like a had reached the summit of an incredibly high goal.

I have finished all of the printing for the Desert Wisdom Card set — the title page, twenty-two cards and the colophon. Next in the process is trimming the pages and then the assembly of the cards.

The Desert Wisdom Card set is getting closer to completion!






Bo Mackison is artist, photographer, book-maker, naturalist, curator, and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Bo is learning the wonders of the cylinder letterpress, and adding words to her vocabulary, as she prints the Desert Wisdom Cards.


Vintage Dahlia – and a Wabi-Sabi Lesson

Vintage Dahlia

Vintage Dahlia © 2013 Bo Mackison

“But when does something’s destiny finally come to fruition? Is the plant complete when it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout? When everything turns into compost?” ~ Leonard Koren, in Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers  

It’s been a rough few weeks. Really rough. A double loss in our little family. A long time friend’s liver cancer diagnosis. A co-worker’s college aged child killed in a motorcycle accident. Grief is not an easy emotion at any time, and I am working to cope with grief upon grief upon grief, while discovering the life skills I thought would be helpful are woefully inadequate.

I’ve been asking a million “Why?” questions. And getting no satisfactory answers.

Yes, I know life is cyclical and includes — on various levels — experiences of birthing, living, and dying. And during this time of grief, I tend to ask the question “Why?” An unanswerable question, in most situations like these, but it was becoming an unhelpful mantra for me.

I didn’t realize how pervasive “Why?” questioning was throughout the many parts of my life, however, until a wise mentor kindly brought it to my attention. To fully explore her comment, I began to journal. And I came up with a long list of questions:

  • Why did I create my Desert Wisdom Cards? Why am I creating the Prairie Wisdom Cards? Why?
  • Why am I studying teaching methods and taking creativity coaching training? Why?
  • Why am I drawn to mystical and sacred places? Why?
  • Why do I take photos and make the effort to painstakingly process them and post them and print them? Why?
  • Why do I long to travel, to let new places and experiences and cultures seep into my being? Why?
  • Why can’t I stay one place? Why can’t I concentrate on one project? Why do thing always seem more difficult than expected? Why? Why? Why?

My mentor suggested that I need not answer those persistent whys, that they are a both a distraction and an attachment to outcome that does not serve me in my work.

She suggested I read a small book, The Seven Paths by Christine Baldwin, one she has found of great help in its simplicity, and contemplate several of the paths — “follow your purpose while dealing with surprises,” and “ask for what you need while offering what you have.” And finally, “move gently upon the earth.”

The advice is simple, solid, and had a feel of acceptance, an uplifting quality. It offers a message to quiet the continuous chatter of “why” and substitute the more down to earth and less ego-driven mantra — “Do your work and release it into the world.”

I took these wise words one step further, and applied them to my current life situation. The above quote by Leonard Koren in his book on wabi-sabi gave me a container for my thoughts.

Our destiny, each of our destinies, is individual. We are alone on our journey, yet we walk with companions.

We may set fruit, flower, sprout seeds, or turn to compost.  No need to ask “why?” for it is all good, it is all necessary.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.   Her exhibit, Garden Party – A Celebration of Botanical Photography, is at the Alicia Ashman Branch Library Gallery in Madison, Wisconsin and runs through September 5, 2013.

Garden Party – Emerging Coneflower

Coneflower, Emerging

Coneflower, Emerging ©2013 Bo Mackison

“To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour.” ~ William Blake


And here
is the flower
not yet unfurled

petals not yet drooping
on the edge of a breeze
like the flutter of a heartbeat

a spark emerges from the depths
and disappears in the heated haze
on a sun-drenched July morn.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.   Her exhibit, Garden Party – A Celebration of Botanical Photography, is at the Alicia Ashman Branch Library Gallery in Madison, Wisconsin and runs through September 5, 2013.