Saturday, February 27

Cape Breton

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, 2007

We flew into Halifax two days after we were married. It was such a lovely time. We drove around and saw the countryside, staying in little B&B's as we found them. We did a bit of hiking and saw some moose. Heard the whales breathing. Fell in love with purple lupines. Met all kinds of wonderful people. Nova Scotia, we'll be back.

Friday, February 26

Costa Rica

Monteverde, Costa Rica, 2008

Our guide, Alberto, took this photo. He tried his best and look, his horse is in focus. We trotted all around the trails overlooking coffee bushes, trees with toucans flitting through them, tiny dogs darting around fields where Brahmin cattle grazed.  I even saw a motmot. We rode for 3 or 4 hours and wow, that really hurt later. That was a fun trip spent driving around looking at the countryside, shopping for dinner at supermarkets, visiting butterfly gardens and serpentariums. We still try to make batidos for breakfast in warm weather.

Thursday, February 25


San Francisco, trip with Tim, 2005

We were only in California for 4 days, but we sure packed it in. I remember discovering cafes in the city, strolling through the redwoods, hiking on the Lost Coast's black sand beaches, and camping by the ocean. One morning I awoke at sunrise, crawled out of the tent into a golden light, and walked down the beach with my camera, marveling at the loops of seaweed, the sea-carved rocks, the rivulets of ocean water on the sand. It was a beautiful hour. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me, Tim was back in the tent being startled awake by a large seagull who was repeatedly trying to land on the tent fly. Poor guy.

Wednesday, February 24


Assisi, 2006

Rome, 2006

We lived out of backpacks for two months. I enjoy doing that, because I like exploring how the fundamentals stay the same.  We still need a bed at the end of the day, some square meals, and a chance to be alone and reflect once in a while. The things I usually take for granted, like a selection of clothes, an armful of library books, or just the luxury of my own car, aren't there. I find myself enjoying the small things: like a free shower token given to me by a fellow traveler, fresh hostel sheets, a quiet common room, a book in English up for grabs, daily journaling. When I come back home and I have all little luxuries at my fingertips again, it always seems like too much.

Tuesday, February 23


Ontario, Canada, 2004

There's something about getting across the canadian border and seeing the red-winged blackbirds, hearing the loons, experiencing the incredible fizzy constellations, and fiddling around with those toonies.

Monday, February 22


My mom took these slides when she was living in California in the early 70's. (Please excuse that cat hair in the bottom one. I want to pick it off too.)

As you know, the mum and I will be heading to San Francisco tomorrow in the wee hours. Well, not so wee. We have to be at the airport around 9ish. (That's how I pick my flights nowadays.) And today I have lots to do like paint my toes turquoise, go downtown for some errands, and finish packing, and my mom's coming over later to sleep in the guest room. And whenever anyone's sleeping in the guestroom, I have to get it looking special, so...I have a little fun busyness on it's way.

I don't know about you but the day before leaving for some travelin', I not only feel excited, I feel sick. Just a little sick. Nothing I can't handle. A good time for me to enjoy my daily regular doings and hang with Tim and get my powerwalk in, and remember to breathe. Breathing is really good, and I often forget to do it deeply. I'm sensitively tuned to change of any kind: even if it's good change. Change that I want; change that I embrace and which I initiated.

Anyhoo, since I'm away (from the computer) this week, I've set up some daily posts that will be a little show of some of my favorite pics from my travels over the past decade or so. Because remembering is part of traveling. Looking back at those photographs and seeing the cycles, the thrill, the scariness. The opportunity. The life and living.

Buon Viaggio in your life this week.

Saturday, February 20

sewing fancies

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.

~A.A. Milne

Friday, February 19

I breathe in.

inspire, from Latin inspirare, from in- + spirare to breathe

Today I'm participating in a marvelous blog-it-forward mashup on the subject of "what inspires you?" birthed a few weeks ago by Victoria at sfgirlbybay. Thinking on this started the seeds of what has been, for me, a long and revealing motion of thought.

Some of my inspirations are of the moment; some are for a lifetime. They remind me of why I am here, that this is my life, for better or worse, and to revel in it in all facets. So I started thinking and writing and weeding and connecting those life and memory threads. This is what has showed up...

My inspirares include those moments, albeit small or short, which inspire me to live fully, to see the beauty, to breathe through the toughness, to be a better person, to accept, to give, to receive, to hope, to appreciate...

Clicking "purchase now" for an online plane ticket.

That sunflower that's just about to open: and then it is: and the goldfinches come.

Thunder during a snowstorm.

The wonder of bread rising and baking and smelling and drizzled with olive oil and rosemary.

Those moments of bliss and anticipation after I've hunted and shot a Polaroid with my SX-70 but it hasn't quite developed yet.

Reading quietly in bed next to Tim at night, while he reads quietly in bed next to me.

Having visitors, whether for brunch or for a weekend.

Waking up in a tent.

The relief and perspective that writing brings.

Shocking or strange or wonderful color combinations.

Picking through my grama's 2" vintage fabric squares which weren't vintage when she got them, and knowing as I sew that I am carrying on her knowledge, which is now lost to her through Alzheimer's.

Going to the thrift shop and discovering something fantastic for real cheap that just makes me grin, thrill or say a prayer.

Saying Yes.

Agatha Christie novels: tea, scones, knitting, herbaceous borders and a poisoning.

Seeing life through the camera lens.

Living out of a backpack or a suitcase for an extended period of time.

Sproutings in the garden, magically, after a week of planting seeds.

Being naked.

Awaking in the middle of the night and hearing that it's raining.

A letter in the mailbox from a friend.

My dogs :: unconditional loyalty.

The works of Eva Hesse, Kiki Smith, Paul Klee.

Blue blue cobalt skies right before dark.

A good long chat with a good long friend.

Slowing down.

Trying something new :: rediscovering the power of amateur status.

Seeing the fingernail moon.

Walking into my studio and greeting a project that's laying there, waiting to continue our journey.

Staying true to myself :: making myself happy :: keeping the inner pathways open.

Blogging :: sharing my life, my sights, my heartbeat.

Discovering other blogs with an "oh, of course" recognition.

Making Tim cry with laughter because I'm being incredibly witty.

Buying a new journal and starting it - delicious.

Solo travel.

Travel with Tim.

Standing up for myself to tough people.

Taking that pot of tea up to the studio in the mornings.


Joan Hickson as Miss Marple.

Changing my future :: Healing my history.

What inspires you? I'd love to hear.

* visit yesterday's blog-it-forward post: a life of my own; and find monday's at alyson is neat * 

* visit the other blogs participating in the mashup today: my life so far, bryn alexandra, pink black grey,  deco love, see meg shop, hashai, tea, etc..., le pomme de portland, and tiny-ass apartment * go here to see the entire schedule for the 300 blogs taking part * whew! and thank you victoria!

Thursday, February 18


Sardignia, 2001

vintage fabric and butterflies

Butterfly Houses, 2010, by me
wax, thread, book, vintage fabrics
hand and machine sewing

I've been working a bunch in the studio lately, getting ready for some upcoming shows. I have a yearly show at Orchard Artworks (a  gallery in a Revolutionary War farmhouse) and this year I picked the title of Metamorphosis. And suddenly everything I'm doing is butterflies. Butterflies are everywhere. Besides being absolute stunners in the looks categories, I love their stories: the extreme migrations, the specific host plants for each life cycle, their amazing transformations from caterpillar into winged creature. I love the symbolism inherent in their beauty and lives. 

Sometimes it's hard to work because Mimi gets in the way. But she's really so sweet, I can't kick her out. That often.

And I'm managing to get some work done regardless. I don't usually work this bright nor so playful so have been having a lot more fun lately in the studio. I do, however, usually work on multiple pieces and themes at once, and I really like exploring unusual materials and methods.

These fabrics are all from my grandma's sewing room. She doesn't sew any more due to Alzheimer's and so I always think of her when I do, especially when I come across some particularly beautiful piece of fabric. They are almost like butterflies themselves.

Night Garden, 2010, by me
wax-dipped black Arches paper, oil paint incising,
vintage fabrics, thread, black acrylic
hand sewing

untitled, 2010, by me
paper, thread, vintage fabrics
hand sewing

Wednesday, February 17

memory smells

Still piles and piles of snow around here. I'd like to add that this is very unusual. We just don't often get heavy snows here. It's really rather fun. Tim has gone on walkabout, I mean, gone to the coffeeshop for a french press and a read, and maybe some adventure. We're all a little housebound these days. There's really not a lot of space outside to swing your elbows without hitting a snowdrift. Quite picturesque, of course, until you break through the crust and fall in up to your thighs and flail around with snow packing into your socks and the dogs cheating by walking in your wake and on your ankles. And then they get home and want a biscuit? I mean, come on.

But, among other events I wanted to share...

Last night, as I took a bath, I dripped essential oils into the roiling water. As the scent of limes filled my nose, I suddenly felt homesick. Now, I have no upsetting childhood memories associated with limes, (in fact, I have almost no memories associated with limes) so I'm curious where this is coming from. Scent memory is so strong. I remember a quote by Nabokov: "Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it." Limes. Homesickness. Hmn.

Mothballs remind me of the Ontario cabin my parents drove us to each year, from Florida, for vacation. Mothballs and lake smell. Yum.

Dove soap, of my grandma's kitchen sink, overlooking the bird feeder where she used to shoot at the pigeons with an ancient BB gun, which was so old the BB's would actually bounce off the birds. (Yes, grandma grew up on a farm.)

Grandma must've been big on soap because I also think of her house when I smell lavender soap: she used to keep it in with the fabrics in her sewing room to scent them. It scented my memory, too.

Root beer reminds me of hiking in Wisconsin and chewing on black birch twigs, because that is what they smell and taste like. I like chewing on a black birch twig while walking along and looking at the scenery and keeping an eye out for bear. Very soothing.

You know, I have a friend who, whenever she hugs me, pushes her face into my hair and says, "Yep. Brooke smell." And I really wonder what that is. She even walked into my house once and said, "Yep. Smells like you." I really hope that's a good thing. It probably is.

I do tend to smell at things a lot. I'll even smell the mail. That might sound weird but it's really not, I promise.

If a guy walks by me and smells good, though, I will practically turn and follow him down the street. And I'm happily married. Powerful stuff, smelling is.

Thank goodness for noses!

What about you? Any memory scents?

Tuesday, February 16


I had a fun lesson on Sunday with the horses, but the snow was too deep to ride, so while I practiced taking the saddle on and off and talked shop while picking manure out of Sunny's hoofs...

...I wished it were summertime.

I wished it were summertime and I was riding bareback on a warm chestnut horse through some meadowy woods while M. Ward played guitar and sang and there was no snow. Anywhere.


But in a week from today, my mom and I will be alighting from a plane which will have picked us up in Philadelphia and flown us to San Francisco. And the weather will be warmer. There will be no snow. Fog is okay. There will even be horses, on some morning when we awaken very early and make our way to Half Moon Bay for the morning ride special. 

But my mom doesn't know about that yet.

In fact, she doesn't know about a lot of my plans.  Because, you see, she's just taggin' along.

She's just taggin' along because when I mentioned to her I was headed to San Francisco for a solo trip, she called me after a week and asked if I would like some company. I said sure.

"Really? Really? I'll just tag along," she said. "I'll just do whatever you're already doing."

"Oh," she added, "And I want to walk across the the Golden Gate Bridge and maybe do some camping. But if you want to visit a nudist colony, you're on your own. After all, it is California."

Monday, February 15


We enjoyed way too much sushi yesterday. A dragon roll apiece, for example. Mm. I'd do it again in a minute. We're not big celebraters of St. Valentine's Day, but it just sort of happened that we met at the coffeeshop for a drink, then got takeout sushi, and settled down to watch some of the Olympics. Kind of a sweet date.

Today, we're looking forward to...more snow. 4-8 inches more. Tonight. But right now the sun is shining, the icicles are melting, and I'm waiting for the teapot to boil. I just put out some quinoa pilaf that was a few days old (7 robins at our feeder at once?!) and totally bit it. I slipped on the ice and my feet shot into a snowbank. Snow in your woolley booties is no fun at all. I don't know how the birds deal with it. I hope the neighbors didn't see me.

For now, everything's bright, until those clouds roll in later.

I better get going.

Friday, February 12

winter sunshine

Today's sun is bright and almost painfully white. The kind of sunshine that scours and whitewashes and purifies. My eyes are tired from scrunching. And that's my excuse for knocking over Tim's coffee with milk onto the rug while gesticulating on the phone.

Surprisingly, Tim's flight did come through last night so, around midnight, I went and picked him up and the roads were a horror. I drove like a little old lady but that's really nothing new because I do that in fine weather too.

I just came from the library: one of my only social forays out in days due to the interesting snow installations the snowplows have made which have turned the neighborhood roads into one-way lanes, and invited many of us, who spent 45 minutes digging out their cars (, to become one of those people who put chairs in their street parking spaces.

The sky today is the kind of blue that doesn't happen in summertime. That deep rich denim blue that you can't quite focus on or believe is really there. I was looking at a lovely bunch of birches, white and creamy peach with touches of glow about them, red sprays against the blue, when I spotted a fuzzy little puffed-up hawk near the top of a tree, catching some rays.

I love little moments like that.

The other evening I followed the sun as it bobbed, perfectly round and pinkly orange, through the black tree branches. I drove on for some minutes, chasing and reframing it through a scene of rising and changing trees, looking for a photo that I never got.

But I didn't regret seeing it.

I think Lucy has moments like that, too.

Thursday, February 11


The other day Tim and I awoke and made our way over to our favorite eatery. He can barely function without coffee in the morning and sometimes, to get him there, all I have to do is say, "Coffee, Tim, coffee," and he'll grin and lumber out of bed and we'll find ourselves at Cafette

This time of year, of course, we can't eat outside, enjoying the roses, the ivy, the sunshine, the perky bold sparrows, the people who bring a bottle of wine at 11am on a Sunday because it's a BYOB. But it was still beautiful the other day when we stopped by for breakfast, although we ate inside. And we almost never deviate from our favorite items. (I almost came to tears once when I realized that they took the cranberry aioli off the menu for the summer because cranberries weren't in season anymore.) We just love this place.

And I can't wait to go back. Just as soon as this thunder lets up, I dig out my car, and the roads get plowed.

february thunder

We have gotten really slammed with snow again. And I love it. I spent my childhood in Florida so this is all magical to me. Yes, I've spent the last 20+ years here, but the child in me is saying, "Wow! Snow!" It's all in the perspective...

Because, really: Roads snowed in? Shops closed? Things postponed? Fine by me. Magic is preferred. The snow is thigh-high out there. Nothing is happening, anywhere. And it's marvelous.

And thunder during a raging snowstorm? Perfection.

I even took the dogs out around the block. At least, I started to. It was like a scene out of Call of the Wild but without the wolves. Incredible drifts of snow, broken snow-laden pines, hunger, no end in sight....we went about half a block before I realized I was not dressed warmly enough, and, coupled with the fact that I hadn't put the dogs on leashes and there was a large bear of a dog baying at us about four houses down, and my Polaroid camera was getting snow on it, we turned back. 
Also, I think I may have injured some muscles snow shoveling. So I'm gonna go do some stretching to work on that.

And I highly recommend Happy-Go-Lucky as a movie to watch on a snow day. Or any day.

Wednesday, February 10

airports and icicles

About 6:30 in the morning yesterday, I was having that airport feeling. You know: a little excitement, a little stress, something forgotten, and one person, at least, who volunteered to drive and wishes she were back in bed. That was me.

So I made tea, rubbed sleepy dogs (grimy! bathtime.), and stared at the snow outside while Tim puttered to a start and got ready to forget to bring his toothbrush. We got about two feet of snow the other day, and roads are rough, but we got going in plenty of time to get him to the airport to catch his flight.

One of the special things about waking up before the sun, is that sometimes you get to see the moon, looking like it's swimming in the sea: luminous beyond believing, glowing in a subtle sky just touched with light. If that were a drink, it'd be the fountain of youth. And I could use a sip of that at 6:30 in the morning.

But I really wanted to show you what is going on outside these days. What I keep pulling the car over to stare at. What we saw many of on the drive to the airport. Icicles. Enormous, painstakingly crafted, and shining in the sun. I keep backing up the car and scooting it around snowdrifts so I don't have to actually get off of my heated car seat and away from my travel tea mug filled to the brim with Pekoe Orange Spice (my winter props,) in order to take a picture.
I did not act like that on the drive yesterday, though. Hardly at all.

And last night a load of more snow fell on us. In fact, it's supposed to keep snowing all day.  My plans include butternut squash soup and bread making, a walk, a pot of tea in the studio while I continue to play up there and be a bit more lighthearted in my artmaking, and Houseboat.

And snuggling with my now-silky, previously grimy dogs that both got a bath last night.

Tuesday, February 9

studio storytelling

made by me in 2010: hand- and machine-sewing, vintage fabric and oil paint on incised and painted wax-dipped papers with wax-dipped cutout paper stars.

I've been having fun in the studio lately.

Monday, February 8

horses love peppermints

Hotshot, Garth

There is something so charming about horses crunching peppermints. While I was strolling through the barn yesterday at the stables, listening to the mice running in the ceiling and reading the signs on the stalls, I came across a bowl of wrapped peppermints.

"Those aren't for the horses," I said. "Oh yes," Walt replied, and quietly started unwrapping some, while Hotshot, who had been acting practically asleep, bored at having his saddle and bridle put on and then taken off repeatedly by a novice like me, perked up his ears for the first time I had seen yet at the familiar crinkle of wrapper and delicately lifted a fresh peppermint off my palm.

Sunday, February 7


New Hampshire, fall 2008, photo by Tim

Say, Pooh, why aren't you busy?" I said.
"Because it's a nice day," said Pooh.
"Yes, but -"
"Why ruin it?" he said.
"But you could be doing something Important," I said.
"I am," said Pooh.
"Oh? Doing what?"
"Listening," he said.
"Listening to what?"
"To the birds. And that squirrel over there."
"What are they saying?" I asked.
"That it's a nice day," said Pooh.

-The Tao of Pooh