Friday, April 26, 2024


I'm growing poppies in my garden. I've never grown them before, and they're doing so well. I love their vibrant color and wild nodding blooms. A pair of cardinals comes and visits them every day. I wonder if they're happy to see flowers with color akin to them.

Photograph of a single red poppy


Thursday, March 21, 2024

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

Scattered Showers (2022) is a collection of nine short stories by Rainbow Rowell. Several of the stories feature characters from the author’s other works.

Here are brief summaries of each of the short stories:

“Midnights” - This story spans the course of several New Year's Eves from 2011 to 2014. As the years pass, Mags and Noel's friendship develops into something more.

“Kindred Spirits” - Elena camps out to see Star Wars: Episode VII and bonds with Troy and Gabe in the line. At first, she doesn’t understand why Gabe is not talking to her at all. The title made me think of Anne of Green Gables.

“Winter Songs for Summer” - Summer grieves her break-up by lying on her dorm room floor and crying while listening to “Silent All These Years” by Tori Amos. Benji, the guy who lives immediately below Summer, helps Summer move on by giving her mix CDs and expanding her outlook. As a Tori Amos fan, I identified with this story.

“The Snow Ball” - Libby hangs out with Owen as he prepares to attend the high school Snow Ball. She's resentful that her best friend isn't spending the evening with her watching movies.

“If the Fates Allow” - Reagan (from the novel Fangirl) and her grandfather spend Christmas together in 2020 during the Covid pandemic. Both are cautious and decide to spend the holiday together and apart from the rest of their family. Reagan connects with her Grandfather’s neighbor Mason over Jell-O salad and their shared caution over covid. This was a nice story that captured the time period really well.

“The Prince and the Troll” - A man from the road brings Starbucks to a muddy troll under the bridge.

“Mixed Messages” - This story revisits Jennifer and Beth years after the novel Attachments took place. I was glad they were still close friends.

“Snow for Christmas” - Simon spends Christmas with Baz's family. I haven't read the Simon Snow trilogy yet, so i wasn't familiar with these characters.

“In Waiting” - An author's characters live in limbo before she writes them into a story. I thought this was a fascinating premise for a story.

The volume was a fun read and good mix of romantic stories that gave me a taste for Rowell’s other works.

Purchase and read books by Rainbow Rowell:

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell Attachments by Rainbow Rowell Landline by Rainbow Rowell


Saturday, March 16, 2024

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments (2011) by Rainbow Rowell is a story set in Omaha, Nebraska in 1999 and 2000. The novel begins after Lincoln has returned home to live with his mother after earning his second Masters degree. He gets a job in IT security at the city’s newspaper, but is stuck on the nightshift. His job ends up being a disappointment to him. There are no hackers to stop. Instead, he’s tasked with reading internal emails that are flagged as potentially inappropriate.

Lincoln begins reading the flagged emails between Beth Fremont, the newspaper’s film critic, and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder, the features copy editor. Jennifer is married to Mitch and terrified of getting pregnant. Beth has been in a long-term relationship with her college boyfriend, Chris, a guitarist in a rock band. Beth wants to get married, but Chris hasn’t proposed. Lincoln is amused by Jennifer and Beth’s email dialogue and can’t bring himself to send them warnings about their emails. Even though he knows it’s wrong, he continues reading their conversations.

In many ways, Lincoln is stuck. His first love Sam broke his heart in college, and though years have gone by, he’s never truly recovered from it. As he reads the emails between Beth and Jennifer, Lincoln begins falling for Beth, noting her humor, kindness, and way of expressing herself. Meanwhile, Beth notices Lincoln around the office and is infatuated with him. Beth begins emailing Jennifer about the new cute guy in the office, and eventually, Lincoln realizes she’s writing about him.

What should Lincoln do? He knows that he’s invaded Jennifer and Beth’s privacy. If Lincoln confesses the truth about reading their emails, will Beth forgive him, despite the weirdness of the situation? Does love before love at first sight exist?

The book has a fun premise with realistic characters. For instance, I liked that Lincoln played Dungeons & Dragons and enjoys pie at Village Inn. The pop culture references also struck a note with me and were skillfully used. I really loved the openness and intimacy in the email dialogue between Beth and Jennifer. So many people made deep connections online during this era, and their conversations reminded me of how much I loved writing emails during that time.

Purchase and read books by Rainbow Rowell:

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell Landline by Rainbow Rowell Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell


Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Swallowtail and Texas mountain laurel

A swallowtail butterfly and Texas mountain laurel.

a yellow Swallowtail butterfly and Texas mountain laurel

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Central Park

Flowers from long ago.

Anemone in Central Park

Anemones and Coneflowers in Central Park

Lily in Central Park


Saturday, February 10, 2024

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000) is a memoir by Anthony Bourdain about his career in the restaurant industry. As a child, during a vacation with his family in France, Bourdain ate a raw oyster, which ignited his passion for food. Bourdain describes his early escapades and experiences in kitchens and culinary school. He provides a first-hand account of how restaurants function.

I’ve wanted to read this book for many years, and wish I’d read it much earlier, prior to Bourdain’s death. Bourdain had such a sharp wit and sense of humor and a deep passion for life, travel, and food. His writings and words (in books and on television) allowed him to share his passion with the world and inspire us all to try new things and to be open to new experiences. It’s still hard to understand how a man with such joie de vivre was in such pain that he took his own life.

Purchase and read books by Anthony Bourdain:


Saturday, February 3, 2024

The Arnold Arboretum

Harvard's Arnold Arboretum is one of my favorite places. Here are a couple photos I took from last summer while I was in Boston.

Arnold Arboretum pond

Golden azeleas at the Arnold Arboretum

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Queen Anne's Lace

I tried something different and drew with a white gel pen on black coldpress paper. It was a challenge to draw light instead of dark. I kind of like how this drawing of Queen Anne's Lace turned out. It's one of my favorite wildflowers.

Delicate white flower with many tiny petals against a black background


Saturday, January 20, 2024


Here's a photograph of an azalea taken in Texas before the winter freeze.


Thursday, January 18, 2024

My Hygge Home by Meik Wiking

My Hygge Home by Meik Wiking

My Hygge Home: How to Make Home Your Happy Place (2022) is a book by Meik Wiking. Wiking is the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is a Danish word that describes a feeling of coziness, comfort, and well-being.

Wiking studies happiness through surveys conducted by his institute. He describes his institute’s results as well as those of other researchers. The book provides the reader with digestible statistics from various studies that indicate what components in a home bring people happiness. He couples these stats with anecdotes and personal stories. There is advice about lighting and the functional placement of furniture to make your space your own. Making a hygge home also involves spending time with loved ones, sharing meals, playing together, cooking, and growing plants and food together.

Some of the advice to make your home more hygge may seem to be common sense, but the book provides a reminder to make your space your own and to have it say something about you. The one downside is that there were a lot of stock photographs in the book, and most featured phony-looking, grinning people. They detracted from the authenticity of the book. I much preferred the illustrations throughout. They were charming.

Purchase and read books by Meik Wiking:

My Hygge Home by Meik Wiking The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking


Monday, January 15, 2024

El Paso Park

Here are a few more photos from winter in El Paso, Texas.

Silver Senna or Silver Leaf Cassia Plant in El Paso, Texas

Leaves in El Paso, Texas

Plant in El Paso, Texas


Sunday, January 14, 2024

Winter in El Paso

Here are a few photos from this winter in El Paso, Texas.

Branches in El Paso, TX

Succulent in El Paso, TX

Grasses in El Paso, TX


Thursday, January 11, 2024

Basement Ghost

Here's a pen and ink drawing for this week's Illustration Day theme: "Basement."

Pen and ink drawing of a ghost in a basement by Ingrid Lobo


This sneaky lizard was spying on me as I worked in the garden today.
Anole Lizard

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Fish Swimming

Years ago, I used to take part in a weekly art challenge hosted by a website called Illustration Friday. Artists around the world contributed illustrations based on a weekly theme. The website is now defunct, but today I came across a revival of the initial challenge at a website called Illustration Day.

I was so excited to find Illustration Day at the start of this new year. And, of course, I want to participate in the challenge again, so I drew a pencil sketch of a little fish swimming for this week's theme: "Swimmer."

Sketch of a Fish Swimming by Ingrid Lobo