Shine Pig Season

Shine Pig

As the sun sets each summer evening, it sends a shimmering pig up the side of a tall storage building down the street. At first, the pig looks like it’s standing on the sidewalk, then it ascends the wall and fades as the sun disappears.

Brian noticed and identified it a few years ago. I still remember him standing at the window of our apartment, repeating the phrase  Continue reading

Quality Time with an Inanimate Object

I have an inanimate object in my life: it is an unbroken Brazilian agate geode.

I’m hand-sanding all the way through it with sandpaper (read more about the project here) and have spent so much time with it that it’s taken on a life of its own.

Here are five ways my unbroken geode has come to life.

1. I’m afraid it will “die” by falling and breaking and the water leaking out.

The geode has water at its center, like an alien being with a Continue reading

Scratching the Surface of a Water-Filled Unbroken Geode

Geode sanding, 40 grit.

There is a finite amount of water on the earth, endlessly cycling through everywhere water goes, from rain to groundwater to sweat to vapor to ice to the sea and back again.

The water that I drank this morning may have been in a sewer pipe last year. It might have seeped through the pores of a neanderthal. But water trapped inside a geode, like a pouch of buried gold coins, has been out Continue reading

Reversing the American Flag Optical Illusion

“I’m a vexillologist,” an older gentlemen said to me on the BART train platform, “and I’ve never seen that.”

He handed me his card. Vexillology is the study of flag symbolism.

I was on my way to the Oakland Women’s March carrying a large American flag that I had handmade several years ago.  I’d never taken it out of my studio. The flag is regulation-sized (3×5 feet) and totally official, except that I reversed the colors: the blue star field turned light yellow, red turned turquoise, and white turned black.

The Inverse U.S Flag Illusion

The inverse U.S. flag is a classic optical illusion, and I’d first come across it in a book of visual Continue reading

Journey Through a Geode


Exploring something fully sometimes requires destroying it, like the dissection of a cadaver or the excavation of an archaeological site. Once the secrets it holds have been revealed, it can never be put back together.

Geodes–plain-looking, round rocks whose hollow insides are lined with crystals–are ubiquitous enough in museum stores and gem shops that they are easy to overlook. Small, glittering geode slices are found in jewelry; larger ones often quartered for bookends, and the largest are propped up for photo ops.  Its designs are occasionally used in mating rituals–e.g., lips and cakes–of high-ranking humans.

Unbroken Geodes

A little over a year ago, I stumbled upon a “Break your own geode kit” on Amazon for $24.95. I’m not affiliated with whatever industrial complex is able to Continue reading