Getting to the Edge


This morning I’m wandering in my mind and mustering up some focus. I settle myself into a place of considering my favorite things. Heres’ three. I like to draw. I like to wander around outdoors. I also like food and water.

Despite a plethora of other diversions, those three items seem to be my consistent and constant daily activities, and also rather important to most people. Even people who don’t accept themselves as “artists”, they are still drawing many lines on the earth as they travel through their daily adventures or pathways to and from work.

I realize, as I prepare to share a few more my “foodie drawings” there is something about connecting this and that, that keeps me steady through the inevitable, challenging adventure of traveling through life and growing up, and then growing up more. It might be another story about chickens, it could be about rabbits, likely it will involve what I eat and be illustrated by gracious and glorious lines that the, outside world has spent much time inspiring me with.

As a child I lived in central Michigan, and spent a good amount of time wandering through neighboring fields to get to the more interesting places like the untended edges of our farm property, and the swamps. Another favorite place for me was taking a hike to the muck-bottomed lake, across the road, past a mighty, hickory nut tree, across and beyond a cow pasture.

I started learning about edges then, and what’s on either side of them, and how the edge would draw me in or lead me to a place that I innately knew I wanted to be, and felt I belonged. I spent much of my childhood wandering the fields and woods around our central Michigan home-place, year-round, with only one dirt road crossing any of my many foot-paths. In quite moments of recall and inspiration, I breathe a grateful thanks for that time and that beginning.

In my present home-place in Northern Michigan, I’m a town dweller, living in a second floor apartment and as I sit here writing, out the window I see new, bright, chartreuse green leaves, on an old, maple tree. Beyond the tree, I have a lovely view of the waves on Grand Traverse Bay. I also have a view of what is a well traveled and paved road between my home and a fresh-water bay of Lake Michigan.

Beginning at approximately 5:35 am this morning, I heard my first bird friends reciting their morning song from the maple tree, and now at 8:47 a steady stream of motorized traffic drowns out just about every other sound I could possibly hope to hear. I often wear ear plugs. There are a lot of cars in this town, and a lot of people come to this town to visit the lovely lake and woods. Car traffic along Grand Traverse Bay will slow down around 9 pm.

In order to attain the daily reward of my three “likes”; drawing, wandering and eating I need to depart this home-base. Just as I did as a little girl, I head out on an adventure to find the edge between this and that which would create the nourishing time, place and conditions, and is my forty-five year practice of nature awareness training.

My wandering begins through my Slab Town neighborhood, riding my bike across Division St. which is four lanes of vehicle madness, down 7th Street past Munson Hospital and beyond the old State Mental Hospital, which has become the Village of Grand Traverse Commons. It takes about twenty minutes to get to the edge of the woods, or to the Community garden, before I can park my bike.

Travelers are different than wanderers. It’s pretty obvious, traveling is connected to a more fleeting movement–powered by something other than our feet, like my bike, which I may be able to zoom along at about 2 mph. Putting my feet on the ground and walking across the garden, or into the woods, a place of intentional, wild and diverse, other-than human or motorized company assures me that I can get to what I must do each day.

For the sake of drawing and eating, and other necessary daily activities, I would like to encourage more of a wandering movement. Where the heck is everyone going so fast anyways?

Which leads me to my latest cartoons and the wandering thoughts and a few “I wonder …”questions:

I wonder what will happen if we could not fuel our vehicles, cars, and trucks with ancient sunlight?

I wonder where Traverse City’s folks will find and grow their food, if trucks are not hauling food to Northern Michigan?

I wonder if Monsanto* would begin to genetically engineer vegetables, fruits and nuts so that they would trot across the country and across town to our tables?

Hey, that’s a pretty good and o’k idea. I think I’ll revive my carrot cartoon characters and get back to graphic-noveling this summer, and try to figure out how this is all going to work out…

P.S. *Monsanto: DON’T infringe upon my intellectual and copyrighted property.

Chickens in the Garden, art show @ The Cook’s House

What? Why are Chickens in the Garden? Because they deserve a place with humans in our “Gardens of Eating” as an honorable friend and ally! They are to be reckoned with as a feathered, multi-functioning Permaculturist, who can fertilize, roto-till with their yellow claws, and give us fresh eggs!

I’ve had the pleasure of living with and drawing and painting chicken portraits. These little mixed media paintings are on display and for sale at The Cook’s House Restaurant, 115 Wellington, Traverse City, Michigan through the month of June.

Please consider, for perhaps your most wonderful restaurant experience EVER, calling and making dinner reservations at 231-946-8700. Tell them Penny sent you and take a look at the “Chickens in the Garden”.

If you are interested in purchasing any of these original chicken portraits, you may contact me at:

[email protected] or by calling 231-922-2014


Cry a little bit every day


The sun is shining and the sky is blue and that gorgeous Grand Traverse Bay is sparkling a freshwater turquoise on this May morning.

I’ve been busy since the early hours, and my eyes are stinging, from finishing up the drawings for my “Chickens in the Garden” show. Listening to May Erlewine singing her tunes.

Some of this eye stinging is the preciousness of life business. My good dog, Marley is not laying here beside me. Shortly after her birthday celebration and the fundraiser….one week later and a brief illness, she died a good dog death in my O’k art studio.

This morning with all this sparkling beauty before me, my heart is broke open with appreciation for her longtime companionship to me, and to my now grown-up children.

And so with all that, and a little bit more, I’m crying a little bit today.