Two years in snapshot

Neglected but not forgotten, I’m happy to tell you the Brainripples blog is a victim of its own success. With precious few moments for blog posts, stories, or poems, I’ve spent these past two years writing oodles of small business websites and marketing materials, helping organizations articulate and promote their brands and products, and supporting entrepreneurs through social media management and market research. (Last year I also helped my best friend on earth heal after knee surgery – so hip hip hooray for good health!!!!)

To see what I’ve been up to, I invite you to learn about some of these unique organizations:

ic2Impact Capital

This 15-year-old community development financial institution (CDFI) helps Northwest nonprofits develop affordable housing, community facilities, and retail space that enhance the lives of low- and moderate-income residents. I worked with the Noise without Sound team to produce a fresh website, launch the newsletter, and promote fundraising events with email campaigns. We also help them produce the annual report each year.

clientaccessComtronic Systems

Comtronic is a trusted Northwest family business that builds, services, and supports award-winning debt collection software for small- to medium-size collection agencies. I helped Noise without Sound produce the Debtmaster product brochures for 2011 and 2014, as well as advertisements for trade magazines.

seasys1Seabeck Systems

Need help with databases? How about business processes? Ready to launch your new startup? Call Peter at Seabeck Systems. After 12 years helping organizations get things done right, Seabeck Systems was more than ready to clarify their brand, update their website, and register a trademark. I produced Seabeck’s website, blog, and social media, and forged clear brand elements which we handed to Noise without Sound for matchless trademark design.

3SB3 Square Blocks

Two small urban design firms joined forces in 2012 and hired hired Noise without Sound for a new name, logo, and website. I joined the team to create their new 3 Square Blocks brand elements, plus crisp web content in plain English.



What’s ahead for Brainripples in 2016?

I have instructions from a few dear friends to make time for poems – so that’s on the list. I’m also consulting as a business analyst to help a business intelligence team gather requirements to design, develop, and deliver great software (which also means – yep – more software documentation). There’s a growing garden of tree photography just itching to come online, which includes hundreds of beautiful pictures taken during my adventures in Kaua’i, Hawai’i (mahalo, Dad). Finally I’m about to expand my services to include WordPress website and blog hosting for small businesses. I spend most of my time writing and producing web content, so this will provide one-stop-shopping for all of you who need a simple, hassle-free WordPress site.

Coming up next on the blog: tips for new writers…. and maybe an interview or two. Fingers crossed.

How about you? I want to know what you’re up to too – tell me in the comments!

Ficus wood, © 2016 Jade Leone Blackwater

Happy New Year!

Greetings, and may your year ahead be healthy, joyous, and prosperous! I’ll blog late-winter to follow up on those potatoes (spoiler: they were tasty) and talk about my projects from the latter half of 2014. This season I am grateful for friends and family and work and health, and I hope all the same blessings and more for you, dear readers.

Sunrise light hits driftwood stump stuck in sandy Pacific Ocean beach in Ocean Shores, WA

Thanks for visiting Brainripples – it’s here for you.

Sacrificial Alder

Chitted gold potatoes in an egg cartonThis weekend we dropped a few 15 year old Red alder trees to increase sunlight for our first ever potato patch.

Piles of fresh cut Red alder branches with tree stumps in backgroundFelling a tree is bittersweet. I love these alders: they were our first source of shade in a mostly barren yard, and they attract all kinds of little birds. I also love the light that grows vegetables, and I could see the difference in moonlight the night after these alders came down. Fortunately we have several more alders growing 50 feet away, and new saplings sprout in flower beds every year.

We will be using these alder branches for compost, and the trunks will edge garden beds and paths. May our golden, red, and purple potatoes be plentiful so that the alders do not fall without good purpose.
Angular slices of red alderwood arranged on a porch

Poetry Chapbook Review: Impossible Lessons by Jennifer Bullis

Impossible LessonsA hard copy of Impossible Lessons for today’s review was provided by MoonPath Press.

Poet Jennifer Bullis’ debut chapbook Impossible Lessons celebrates the mundane and familiar with thoughtful poems. Bullis writes poetry of place, reporting from corners of the Pacific Northwest, the poet’s mind, and locales both regional and temporal. She chooses precise yet simple words for each poem, with nothing overstated, and nothing left untethered.

“Test Kitchen” is one of my favorite poems in the book, probably because it contains familiar touch points, like “I begin making coffee, lift my eyes to the window—”. Rather than spinning off reams of convoluted thought, Bullis grounds us in a kitchen engaged by a distracted attendant. For me, the scene grows more familiar with each line. I too wonder, just “How do you funnel all your intentions / into a one-teaspoon poem?” By setting her poems among common things, people, and situations, Bullis disencumbers her verse to leverage more substantial ideas. She demonstrates this with another kitchen-based poem “Body, Blood” wherein she unifies the mundane, “standing over the sink de-boning a chicken,” with the sacred “that my body is in fact already holy but thanks / to the holy chicken will be continuing alive.”

As a homemaker, I am drawn to her kitchen and garden poems. But as a Pacific Northwest native, I feel most at home among her mentions of “gold cottonwoods” who “shuffle their starlings / from one branch to another”, or “a pileated woodpecker” who “works the dead trunk of a newly leaning maple.” When you read poems like “Day After Thanksgiving” or “Walking Wolf Creek Road, Methow Valley, October,” don’t be surprised if you feel thunder and rain raising the hair on your arms. This Northwest backdrop pervades Impossible Lessons, although many places Bullis describes in her poems are not places to visit, but to experience: womanhood and motherhood, anticipation and uncertainty, illness and discomfort, regret and lessons learned, hope and possibility.

These places are accessible to all readers of Impossible Lessons, thanks in part to Bullis’ clean writing style. Bullis uses a readable vocabulary, and pays close attention to sound and rhythm throughout each line. But what really makes her work accessible is that idea I stated earlier of “nothing left untethered.” There are no wishy-washy poems, no half-baked sentiments, no false starts. Bullis is logical, and each poem accordingly reflects a complete thought (or rather, a complete thought process). Her poems articulate a lightning spark, skip over emotional muddles, and move the reader toward acknowledgement, opportunity, next steps. For example, “Cover Letter from the Goddess” orients us to a parent’s challenge, “After some two millennia away / to raise my sons, I seek to reenter the workforce,” contrasts individual with organization, “If you are a locavore, I can grow / an entire village for you to eat,” and considers systems of value, economy, and livelihood, “holding it all together on a shoestring,” all within the greater context of Earth-wide systems, all without cracking a dictionary.

Jennifer BullisThis steady progression employed by each poem makes Impossible Lessons satisfying to read. In her July 2013 interview with The Bellingham Herald, Bullis shares, “My writing process usually involves reading and walking. […] The movement of walking brings my own words forward.” And in the Cascadia Review she writes, “My relationship to the landscape is largely as a pedestrian, and my writing process largely kinesthetic: Poems map themselves out in my mind as I map these places on foot. It makes me happy that for eighteen years now, my shoes have been grass-stained, leaf-covered, and very often wet.” Be it your shoes or your imagination, expect the same results when you read Impossible Lessons: you’re going to travel somewhere fresh yet familiar, and you’ll probably come back with a few pine needles stuck in your hair.

Live from the late summer garden: a quick veggie patch tour

What have I been doing all season?

Working backyard veggie patches, picking friendly orchard fruit, digging rocks on mountainsides, crafting small business web copy, perusing new poetry, and doing my best to stay informed on this wide wild world of ours.

Take a quick tour of my 2013 Pacific Northwest veggie garden:

I’m finally learning to use a pressure canner, and there’s been a lotta apple cake in my house this season. Next, I’ll try to make my first batch of apple cider vinegar. Less than 10 days till autumn! Time to sow winter crops and split firewood.

Poetry book review comin’ your way in a few days!


A iron-crusted Indiana Jade reaches into a quartz pocket