California poppy

Eastward ho!

“mountain meadow” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © Annette Makino 2015

“mountain meadow” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © Annette Makino 2015

At the Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Washington last fall, we started with a fun icebreaker: write down five items from your bucket list, then walk around the room and share with other participants. (For more about Seabeck, see The path unfolds.)

After the exercise, my daughter Maya and I compared lists. I definitely don’t share her dream of working a stint as a bartender! But it turns out that we both had the exact same number one wish: to travel to Japan as a family.

Meanwhile, Makino Studios turned five years old in March. Thinking about how to mark this milestone, I remembered the bucket list exercise. It occurred to me that the best way to celebrate would be to use some of my earnings to take our family to Japan. How fitting that a business that draws deeply from the traditions of Japanese art and haiku would enable us to travel there.

So we are off early next month for three weeks of exploration and adventure! This will be the first trip to Japan for our teens; it is the fourth trip for me and the second for my husband Paul. My sister Yoshi will join us for the first and last few days of the trip.

Our itinerary includes visiting Japanese relatives in Tokyo and touring the venerable 320-year old Makino sake factory in Takasaki. We’ll also see the Makino temple and a cemetery there containing family tombs from ten generations.

My mother, sisters and I (standing, left) wear kimonos sent from Japan by my grandparents. (Santa Monica, California, 1969.)

My mother, sisters and I (standing, left) wear kimonos sent from Japan by my grandparents. (Santa Monica, California, 1969.)

I’m also excited to hike along the ancient Nakasendo trail in the Japanese alps, where stone tablets commemorate visits by revered haiku poets Basho and Shiki. We will soak in hot springs and explore Japanese temples, gardens, castles, and museums.

To experience Japanese life more deeply, we will mainly stay in ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) and a variety of homes booked through Airbnb. As lovers of Japanese cuisine, we are especially excited about the food! I imagine I’ll find much artistic inspiration throughout.

While the earnings from my art business are modest, the psychic rewards are incalculable. (I just don’t think I’d feel the same about bartending.) To all my store buyers, customers and supporters over the past five years, I bow in thanks.

salt breeze
all the countries
on my bucket list

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

ukiaHaiku Awards: At the ukiaHaiku Festival on April 24, this poem of mine won second place in the Jane Reichhold International Prize, out of 412 entries from six continents:

with divorce rates
mating butterflies

And this one took third in the Dori Anderson Prize for haiku about Ukiah:

a row of raindrops
hanging on the clothesline—

manzanita blossoms

Newest stores: The list of Makino Studios card retailers now includes Down to Earth in Eugene, Oregon; Three Sisters in Ukiah; and Swish Healdsburg in Healdsburg, California. If there is no store in your area, you can order online through my Etsy shop.

Order by June 1: As I’ll be traveling in Japan, I will not be able to fill online or store orders between June 2 and June 28.

Connecting: I appreciate the kind responses to my last post, on International Haiku Day. You can get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

Publication credit: “salt breeze” was published in Exhaling, the Seabeck 2015 anthology; it tied for second place in the Seabeck kukai (a haiku contest determined by participating poets).

Twenty golden years


In May, my husband Paul and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. While our wedding vows were “for better or for worse,” it’s been the best twenty years of our lives. We have had a lot of adventures since then. A year into our marriage, before Paul had even secured a tenure-track position at the university, we took a leap of faith and bought land near Arcata, then designed and built a unique house with a 25-foot wall of windows looking out onto redwoods and tree-covered hills.

We have had to contend with the many challenges of country living. At one point early on, our tap water showed high levels of e coli. Turned out our neighbor’s missing dog had chosen the spot just above our spring as his final resting place. (I’m happy to report that we’ve since dug a well.)

Our first child was born right on our sixth wedding anniversary . . . two and half weeks early . . .  at home . . . by accident. After “catching” the baby, my cool-headed husband snapped a photo, and only then called our nurse-midwife for instructions! (Note: If you ever have an unplanned home birth, dry the baby very thoroughly, then cut the tip off an old sock and use it for a baby hat.)

When we were expecting our second child, we felt brave enough to actually plan a home birth. But because my labor only lasted two hours, the midwife was not yet on hand for the birth. So Paul delivered our second child too, by candlelight, in the birthing tub set up in our living room. Well, as he likes to point out, he is a doctor—of philosophy.

Given our growing family, in 2002 we built a two-story addition to our home including a studio apartment, home office, and art studio. My mother moved in to help with the kids while they were small. She brought along her two pack llamas, Shandy and Dancer, and we often joined them on hikes on the timberland that adjoins our property.

Paul and I at our wedding in 1993.

Paul and I at our wedding in 1993.

When the kids were 10 and 6, Paul took a year’s sabbatical. We rented out our home and lived in Maryland and then a small town in northern Italy, where Paul taught an overseas course on the sources of great civilizations.

The kids’ home-schooling lessons included trips to the Coliseum in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Our six-year-old soaked it all up and drew these monuments again and again on restaurant placemats across Europe. Meanwhile, our ten-year-old liked the outdoor markets and the chance to hang out with college students, but was unimpressed with her immersion in European history, summing up, “I learned the history of a dusty old brick.”

In 2009, we embarked on yet another big adventure: after twenty years, I left my executive position in international media development, and Paul simultaneously began the process of semi-retiring from his teaching career. Since then, I have had the tremendous gift of being able to focus my time on painting, writing, and developing an art business. Meanwhile, Paul teaches just four months of the year. As for the rest of his time:

retired professor
spends his days in the hot tub
his one-man think tank

Through all these experiences and more over the past two decades, Paul has been my partner and best friend. The poppy painting above is for my darling husband, who loves California poppies, honeybees, and me. This brilliant, funny man with a heart of gold helps me savor the richness of life, and is the key to all my other blessings.

“let us live” is 5" x 7", painted with sumi ink and Japanese gansai paint on paper. It is available as a print or greeting card.

Makino Studios News

North Country Fair: Look for the Makino Studios booth at the 40th annual North Country Fair in Arcata, California the weekend of September 21-22. I’ll have some new art as well as cards, prints, tee shirts and books of my work.

Seabeck Haiku Gathering:  I will be presenting on my haiga (art with haiku) at this fun and interesting haiku retreat in Seabeck, Washington October 10-13.

SoHum Art Show: My exhibit at Persimmons Garden Gallery, located at 1055 Redway Drive in Redway, California, has been extended through Sept. 11. Come on out and enjoy one of the last summer evenings with dinner and live music in the lovely garden.