The Sonoma Coast



{Looking out the window of our rental onto Bodega Bay}

Part of the beauty of living in the Bay Area of California is that within a few hours in most any direction is a some unique location filled with natural wonders and pristine landscape. Last weekend, Clay and I ventured to the Sonoma Coast for the weekend. We stayed in Bodega Bay (right near the town of Bodega, where Hitchcock’s The Birds takes place & was filmed), and visited the Bodega Head, Freestone (home of the famous and crazy delicious bakery Wild Flour) and Occidental.


{Bodega Head, along the Sonoma Coast Beach, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline I have ever visited.}


{Fantastic old signage in the town of Bodega}


{We are huge Hitchcock fans so it’s always a treat to visit St. Teresa’s Church in Bodega to see this site from The Birds, along with the schoolhouse, which sits behind it, below)


{The old schoolhouse site from Hitchcock’s The Birds}


{Inside the Bodega General Store, Hitchcock memorabilia all over the walls}


{More from Bodega Head. California’s rocky coastline never fails to take my breath away. What other beach in California has all five star reviews on Yelp?}


{Clay grabbing her own captures of the breathtaking views}


{Pastoral scene in Freestone.}


{I’ve always loved the pink and white stripes of Patrick’s!}


{Dusk on the beach off Highway 1 north of Bodega Bay. The weather last weekend was spectacular.}

We’re launching into another weekend here, and I hope you all have a wonderful one. I’ll be back Monday with the next Recontructionist.


My Nordic Adventure: Icelandic Wishes




Today I’m back with another installation in My Nordic Adventure — a series of drawings and illustrated photographs from a trip I took to Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Denmark in September of 2012.

The day I took this photograph is a day I will never forget. It was the day I really fell in love with Iceland. You can read more about that magical day on Iceland’s The Snaefellsnes Peninsula here.

Also, thank you for all your kind emails, FB & Twitter comments about yesterday’s post. You are kind people and I am very grateful for all your well wishes and support!

Happy Thursday.


Why DOMA Matters




I may be preaching to the choir here. But in case I’m not, in case I have any readers out there who are opposed to allowing gay people to marry, or even on the fence about it, I hope you’ll listen.

You all know I’m gay. If you don’t, you haven’t been reading very carefully here. Anyhow, you also know I’m a regular person with regular hopes and fears and dreams for my future. I write about those hopes and dreams and fears a lot on this blog. Some other things about me you may or may not know: I am 45 years old. I get up every day at 6:30 am and I work until 6:00. Some days I go back to work after dinner. I take a break on most days to swim laps at lunch. My partner’s name is Clay. We’ve been together for almost five years. She gets up at 6 am and works till 5. Sometimes she works after dinner too. I come from a family of five. My parents have been married for almost 50 years. I have an older brother and a younger sister. I am an aunt to three beautiful kids. We all love each other a lot. Before I became a full time artist, I worked in education. I taught elementary school for seven years and then worked for two different non profit organizations that served high poverty public schools. I have a dog and two cats. I love animals. I live in a small house with a big backyard. I shouldn’t eat gluten because it makes me feel terrible, but I love bread so I eat it anyway. Clay and I drive a 2006 Scion. I don’t keep up with the latest music. I spend too much time on Facebook. I want to travel the world. Every Sunday Clay and I plan our meals, make a list and go to the grocery store. That is generally my favorite activity of the week.

Being gay is all I’ve known since as long as I can remember, even when I dated guys in high school and college. Being gay is as regular to me as being straight is to other people. It’s not something I chose, but it’s also not something I would change. I wouldn’t change it because I cannot imagine anything else, or loving another gender. It’s not how I’m wired. I have memories of knowing I was gay as early as 13. I came out when I was 23. That 10 year period was tough. But now, most days, I don’t think about being gay. I just am.

In February of 2012, my partner Clay proposed to me. She took me away for the weekend to the wine country and asked me to marry her. She gave me a ring. It was amazing and romantic. I wrote about it here. We will be married June 1.

Sharing my regular life with Clay is the single greatest joy of my life. I want to be with her forever. I use the word “regular” here because I think it’s important. Gay people are just regular people. I know, news flash!!! Some gay people are exceptional or eccentric or weird, just like some straight people are. But mostly we are just regular. We are also, like the rest of humanity, mostly kind-hearted and well-intentioned. We work, take care of our families, and contribute to our communities. We have the same hopes and dreams and food allergies as everyone else.

DOMA matters because it discriminates against regular people. People like you. People like me. Not criminals, just regular people. The religious right will try to tell you we are not regular people. But we are. It’s a fact. If you knew more than 1 or 2 of us, you would know that already.

I am crossing my fingers tightly that the Supreme Court does the right thing. Not just for me, but for couples who have been waiting for 20 years to legally marry, for future gay children, for kids of gay couples, for kids in general, for all hopers and dreamers, for humanity.

On that note, I must go get my laundry out of the dryer.



Tender Buttons Release & Originals for Sale!



You may remember this post in which I introduced Tender Buttons: Objects, the book of poetry by Gertrude Stein that I illustrated last year. That book is released today and available for sale on Amazon, Chronicle’s website and other bookstores around the country! The book has over 40 illustrations of Stein’s fascinating wordplay. Here are some of my favorite spreads:





In celebration of the release of the book, I am offering nine of the original artworks from the book for sale. You view and can purchase them here. If you have a specific drawing from Tender Buttons you are interested in purchasing but don’t see it listed in my shop, feel free to email me (see contact link in my header above).

Last but not least, if you are intrigued by the book you might like this review and even more images from the book, posted by Maria at Brain Pickings! Thank you, Maria! And thank you to my publisher Chronicle Books (and specifically my designer Kristen Hewitt and my editor Bridget Watson Payne) for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Happy Tuesday.



Tender Buttons Review


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While most writers and illustrators dream of having their work reviewed in a well known public forum (magazine or blog), it’s also potentially an embarrassing nightmare if it all doesn’t go well. So that’s what makes it particularly exciting when a review comes out that is thoughtful and positive at the same time.

One such review came out recently in Print Magazine’s blog Imprint. The review, written by Buzz Poole and entitled “Long Live Illustrated Books” reviews Charles Dickens’ Pictures from Italy published by Tara Books and also Tender Buttons, which I illustrated. Poole argues, in response to the New Yorker article “Bring Back the Illustrated Book,” that illustrated books were never dead are currently a vital part of the publishing industry.

He goes on to laud a number of illustrated books, and more deeply reviews Tender Buttons and the significance of my illustrations in a book. Tender Buttons is a very bizarre piece of writing that can be difficult to read, much less even begin to comprehend (not that Gertrude Stein intended for us to understand it.) Poole argues that my illustrations serve “as a welcoming counterbalance to the warped geometry of Stein’s prose.”


{Two different Tender Buttons cover designs with my illustrations.}

He goes on to say, “It is hard to imagine ever growing tired of this book. The more time you spend with both Stein’s text and Congdon’s illustrations the deeper you want to dig, the more you want to think about the relationship between the words and imagery, or lack thereof. The experience of reading this book enriches your perspective as turns of phrase and glimpses of a fire releasing lettered smoke haunt your memory and project themselves on the everyday objects that surround us.”

Tender Buttons is released Tuesday. I will be offering some of the original artwork from the book for sale next week as part of the release, so stay tuned! You can learn more about Tender Buttons and see more of my illustrations in this post I wrote introducing the book back in January.

Happy Friday, friends. Have a great weekend.