what's up

Newer additions are being added to the blog section as of May, 2011. If you are here to catch up with me (and it has been a long while) this is a good place to start, I suggest reading up from the bottom—includes good safety tips for everyone!   -Tom

canyons and pictographs 03.10.11


I had the good fortune and opportunity to do some photography work for my cousin Sue's property management company in Snowmass, Colorado, a job that came with the use of a slope-side condo and the chance to bring the family along. It was a LONG drive but the trip itself was as good as the time in the snow and skiing with the kids. We spent time visiting Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah (Hayduke country) in the coming and going, beautiful places that are unlike anyplace else—almost other-worldly.

we were just coastin' 07.21.10

Kalaloch and Ruby Beaches, Jul 2010

From our house we can be on the Olympic Peninsula in about 10 minutes, but it takes a little longer to get to the really great spots, like Olympic National Park's Pacific coast beaches. We packed up the car with camping gear and the dog and headed out to the Kalaloch campground, enjoying the sound of pounding surf and walking the beaches and exploring tide pools. The kids are asking when we can go back, always the sign of a good outing.

what's all the motion commotion? 02.13.10

In the Time of Dragons (final)

I am spending spent a month in Missoula with my brother Greg, getting a crash course in motion graphics. Greg is amazingly talented in this area and teaches this stuff as a professor in the University of Montana's Media Arts program ... when he isn't teaching he is often working on film and television projects. Learning from him is something that I've wanted to do for a long time.

For my first project in After Effects Greg had me animate this drawing that my son Rowan made for his cousin (Greg's daughter) Keegan. This was really an exercise to get introduced to the application and start exploring what it can do (it is kind of mind-blowing), but it was a lot of fun and I look forward to learning and doing more.

if you build it they will sit post dated 01.29.10

the artist in his chairA portrait of the artist in his chair.

I made this driftwood chair during a 2-day stay at my father-in-law's cabin on Whidbey Island, after a few big late January tides had literally buried the higher reaches of the beach in wood. I had seen a similar chair in November and knew it was something I wanted/could do, so I told myself the next time we went to the Whidbey cabin I was going to make one (this from a man who has a very nice looking but incomplete "twig" chair that is now almost 9 years old sitting in the garage).

I think it turned out rather nice and I look forward to making more. I sometimes like to re-imagine myself as a craftsman/artist who makes a living creating beautiful and functional things out of found objects (or found wood). Perhaps someday I will. If you would like a chair or some other piece of furniture in this style, let me know, perhaps you can help start me on my way.

twigg invasion 11.06.09

Twiggs go to Whidbey

My sister Chris, niece, nephew and mom were all here for a weeklong visit. Rowan and McKenna really enjoyed having time with their cousins Meghan and Cam (and aunt and nana), especially during a 3-day stay on Whidbey Island where rafts were built, marshmellows were roasted and music was made.

a week at the beach 10.03.09

Long Beach

Just back from a week on the Pacific coast at Long Beach where we enjoyed some sun, sand, waves, kites, hikes, history and Nana's company.

twigg/aist yellowstone expedition 08.03.09

Yellowstone 09

We had a great trip to Yellowstone and Teton National Parks, where we met up with and camped with our good Alaska friends the Aist's. I hadn't been to those parks since I was about six years old, though some memories are still vivid in my mind. Rowan had a great time rekindling relationships with friends has hasn't seen in a couple years and all were wonderful including McKenna in their play. The kids participated in the NPS's Junior Ranger programs and enjoyed seeing the unique geology and abundant wildlife of the area.

bright lights big city 03.23.08

We are just back from a quick but very fun trip to the Big Apple to see McKenna featured on Kodak's Times Square "picture of the day" marque (the photo was taken and submitted by her Great Aunt Janine).

McKenna in Kodak Times Square display, March 20, 2008

McKenna on Kodak's Picture of the Day marque in Times Square, NYC. [03.20.08]

Other highlights of the NYC visit included a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, a visit to the American Museum of Natural History, a walk through Central Park, a pilgrimage to the 5th Avenue "glass cube" Apple Store and FAO Schwartz toy store, and some culture at the Guggenheim Museum. Special thanks to Papa for making the trip possible! More NYC pics in the kid's collections on the photo page.

playing catch up 02.13.08

As often as I've updated this page (let's not even mention the others) you'd think nothing ever happens here. Nope ... I'm just too tired busy lazy and forgetful to take care of it.

Rowan and McKenna

In big news, we are planning on moving back to Alaska this summer (house will sell, house will sell, think positive thoughts, house will sell). We miss the place and our friends very much ... after 19 years there it feels like home, and we are ready to go home.

Rowan is half way through 2nd grade and has grown this year in so many ways ... out of his clothes, as a reader, into a great big brother. Rumor has it he may even have a crush on a classmate. The coming move will be hardest for him, but he is old enough to remember and has had frequent enough communication with his Alaska friends to make it something that he is also excited about.

McKenna is now fully a little girl. She wants to pick out her own clothes (it should be pink and it should be a dress), plays house, likes to dance and is just about ready for the potty. It seems her teething has been going on for over a year without break and it has been about that long since Kendra has had a good nights sleep. She is a tiny little thing, being 25 months old and still a little shy of 20 pounds ... sometimes I think she looks like a little elf.

Kendra is working in Rowan's classroom as an art docent, doing art lessons every other week, which I think they are both enjoying. She has also been putting a lot of energy into getting the house ready to sell (when McKenna will let her), which is a very big job (it will sell, it will sell, positive thoughts).

I just had a surprising/promising appointment with my eye guy, and it seems the potential for better vision in my injured eye has continued to improve ... enough to warrant a new prescription that includes bifocals. If the new glasses can match the results we had during the tests in the office, I should even be able to read again using both eyes! In non-eye news, Grist has graciously agreed to let me work remotely from Alaska, continuing my work as web production designer and token old guy. My mother recently commented on how white my beard has become (I get my grey from her, so this is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black), I'm thinking I should let it grow out and get one of those big-money mall Santa gigs next Christmas.

If you are dying to hear more, you should call me on my iPhone [425.387.9004], or send me an email (which I can get anywhere on my iPhone). Did I mention I got an iPhone?

whole again 07.28.07

In one of my favorite songs Joni Mitchell sings, "... you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone (they paved paradise and put up a parking lot)." Tonight I'm thinking that sometimes you don't really know what you've lost until you get it back, if you are that fortunate.

Yesterday my eye doctor finally declared my wait over ... all the healing and fine tuning that was going to happen has happened, it isn't going to get any better than it is now ... time to throw a prescription in front of that eye and start using it again. This evening, after an afternoon quest for the perfect new frames, I have new glasses and for the first time in nearly 34 months I am seeing clearly with two eyes.

It is awesome.

I feel like a new person. Not a perfect person, but a new, better, complete person. There are no bifocals as I thought there would be, my vision isn't quite good enough to aid in reading at near distance, but it is good and natural feeling. I got a bit watery-eyed on the drive home from the opticial shop as I marveled at how wonderful it was to simply feel normal again.

yes, i see ... 03.05.07

The long anticipated lens implant finally happened at the end of December, a couple months later than had been hoped, but the results were worth waiting for.

Hats off to Dr. Brian McKillop (who also performed my cornea transplant), who himself was giddy about the vision that has been restored. The first vision test after the surgery made me all goose bumpy, and the good doctor was high fiving his staff in the hallway. With the assistance of prescription glasses my two and a half years of [right eye] blindness are over, and I can see well enough out of the injured eye to do most things (though near vision is still waiting for another corneal adjustment and bifocal lens) ... I can see pretty decent mid and distance detail, though there is a sense of looking through dirty glasses. I can read signs, watch TV, see the expressions on my kids' faces, and my depth perception has returned. Really a miracle of modern medicine.

I want to thank everybody who has kept me in their thoughts during this long recovery, it meant a lot to know that so many people were concerned and wishing me the best.

i eye 02.18.06

Two weeks ago I had my cornea transplant ... thanks to the generosity of someone who saw fit to be a donor when their time came (be an organ donor ... it is good karma).

The procedure took about 2 1/2 hours and was performed by a skilled and thoughtful surgeon who thought it best to wait on the lens implant that will actually "complete" my reconstruction. Six to twelve months down the road, when this new cornea is healed and taken its final shape we can assess what power lens will give me the best vision ... then permission will have to be sought to implant an experimental version that includes a light blocking occluding ring (in the absence of a functional iris). For the next year I am taking steroid drops to reduce inflamation and the risk of tissue rejection. Sutures that I can't see or feel will stay in place for a number of months. All seems to be going well. Stay tuned.

branching out 01.14.06

This limb of the Twigg family tree has sprouted a new bud. We are very happy to announce the birth of McKenna Grace Twigg, born at 9:25 AM on January 12. She is a beautiful little girl ... mother and daughter are doing very well.

McKenna Grace Twigg

After a night of counting time between contractions, Kendra announced about 5:00 AM that if we were going to have time to drive to the Birthing Inn in Tacoma we needed to leave now. We rolled out at 5:30 AM and followed our midwife Peggy as fast we dared all the way there, arriving around 6:30 AM. Labor progressed quickly, and McKenna was delivered three hours later. We were back home in Kingston by 4:30 PM ... an amazing and beautiful day, even in the constant rain that has marked this month.

For a slideshow capturing McKenna's first day and a half in our lives click here.

the long and winding commute 12.10.05

I am happy to report that I have a new job, and it is something that I can feel good about doing. I have joined the production team at Grist, a Web only environmental publication located in the Pioneer Square area of downtown Seattle. With a motto of "Gloom and doom with a sense of humor," Grist does a good job of providing good green news and advice while not taking itself too seriously, a welcome departure from the browbeating most environmental efforts have become associated with.

My commute is acquainting me with some of Puget Sound's finest mass transit. I make a short drive to a nearby Kingston park-n-ride lot to catch a 7:10 a.m. bus to the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal in Winslow where the ferry to downtown Seattle is waiting for me and hundreds of other commuters. The ferry docks around 8:30 a.m. and a short walk later I'm arriving at the Grist offices. Leaving work at 4:30 p.m. allows me to catch the 4:40 p.m. ferry back to Bainbridge and another bus ride, getting home sometime between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. -- a long day made bearable by worthwhile work, my iPod and WiFi on the ferry (being able to chat with Kendra and say good morning to Rowan when he gets up makes being away a little easier).

in memory of my other mom

Sandra Russell
Sandra Grace Russell (1942-2005)

Early on the morning of September 7, 2005, Kendra's mom Sandra passed away peacefully in her sleep at home, finally succumbing to her long battle with cancer.

I won't pretend that I have the words to honor a life or understand its passing, but I can say that I consider myself lucky to have had such a welcoming and loving mother-in-law. I will miss her very much. (Memorial slideshow)

we have moved

If you haven't heard, we moved from Alaska to Washington State in October of 2004. After 19 years in the Last Frontier, we felt it was time to be closer to our families -- Kendra's in particular -- her mother, Sandra, was fighting what started out as kidney cancer. She outlasted the doctor's best guestimates by almost a year. Kendra usually spent a couple of days a week helping her dad with her mother's care, or freeing him up to tend to the needs of Kendra's two living grandparents.

After months of looking at homes we found a place that we really liked, near Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula in Puget Sound (1/2 hour ferry ride and 1/2 hour drive into Seattle on a good day, lots longer on a busy one). Our house sits at the south end of Gamble Bay, with a nice view of the water across the park that separates us from it. Our yard is full of tall cedars and lots of other greenery too numerous to mention -- I'll just say we love it after the cleared lot we had in Anchorage. Come visit if you can! [See contact page for maps]

And if you know somebody who needs a web designer...

the eye

If you hadn't heard we'd moved, you probably haven't heard about what happened to my eye.

The day we were to roll out of Anchorage towards a Haines ferry I had an unfortunate encounter with a high velocity bungie cord (please throw yours out). The day started out quite nice, with a full price offer on our house, then went downhill rapidly. Readying a last trailerload of junk from the garage for a trip to the transfer station I pulled on one [bungie] too hard and the other end came flying at me -- too fast to see or hear -- and hit me square in the eye.

Kendra drove me to the hospital where I was put on a morphine drip (not much fun) until an eye surgeon could attempt to save my eye. In addition to multiple lacerations across the eye and the rupturing of the lens, the iris was also badly damaged (they found some it later, dried up like a bit of colored celophane, stuck to my cheek). It was a 4 hour surgery involving 20 tiny sutures and the removal of the lens -- amazing what they can do really. When I woke up the next day, I was blind in my right eye but looked more or less normal.

Fortunately, I still have the potential to see again from that eye. After the sutures were removed an experiment was done to see if vision could be restored using a combination of soft and hard conctact lenses ("piggy-backing"), but there was too much corneal scarring for that to work -- I could actually read most of the eye chart, but the vision was too diffuse for my brain to put the two images together. I wear the soft contact sometimes now, since the colored iris on it helps block some light and gives my eye a more normal appearance. I see blurred light, shapes, color... but it is more nuisance than useful vision -- when I need to see more clearly I close my eye.

A cornea transplant and artificial lens implant are likely in my future. Stay tuned, and thank you for all the well wishes that I received during all this.

If you are here to determine if I'm the right person for your design needs and wondering how this has impacted my work... it hasn't. My depth perception is pretty off, but in 2D work this is not an issue. My vision is as good as it was before the injury, I just have a narrower field than I used to. This site and the photography featured on it have all been done with just one good eye... I hope that says enough.