Tuesday, August 31

folk just like us

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archeology
Syrian gold jewelry 1300 - 1200 BCE

I love to go to museums filled with ancient things ~ I find it refreshing to wrap my mind around the fact that, in many ways, those folk were just like us. They looked like us, had bodies like us, had hang-ups about their bodies, got frustrated when they lost things, were late for dinners, and liked a day off, just like us.

In a way going to the museum is also a little scary. Entire inventive, creative and intelligent cultures, gone forever. Just like, one day, we will be. Because we are living in the midst of life and time, and that's how things work.

In one display I saw a little pair of metal tweezers. 4,ooo year old tweezers from Egypt. I can almost see the ghost of the woman who put them down for the last time, so long ago. Makeup pots and a jewelry box were there too, hauntingly similar to mine on my dresser at home.

Every item, shaped by a human hand, made for a purpose. Shaped from the earth in clay or stone or metal or wood. Every item has a responsiveness to it because it has been formed by human hands, and used by human hands. I love how natural materials respond so gently to the touch, forming themselves smoother or shinier over the years like driftwood under the caresses and grips of our fingers and palms.


Monday, August 30

roman glass

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archeology
Ancient Roman glass from 1 AD

I took a trip there on Friday. Wonderful place. More tomorrow.

Sunday, August 29

hidden in the studio

{can you spot the kitty?}

Mimi's favorite thing to do, right after following me all over house all day, is to nestle into a warm cozy spot in whatever room I'm in. Sometimes I help her out by concocting little beds for her. I love this cat.

Saturday, August 28

in the leaves

{reflection in my steeping tea in the camping pot}

Thursday, August 26

Up To Snuff

{my studio desk}

Lately in my work I've been struggling with drifting off course. Too much tea-drinking, wandering around the garden, poking around online, puttering in the kitchen and wondering where the day has gone.

This is one of the perils of working at home, for yourself.

The root of what's going on is that when I get started in the studio, sometimes I feel insufficient. There are so many ideas and I'm never going to be able to do them all. And sometimes I just don't want to deal with that.

This is my work ~ my passion, a true calling, and I'm lucky and appreciative to be here. But it can be tough going. It's hard work to face the void ~ the "do I still have it" and "what do I make today" and the slugging along when nothing's really happening. Days in the studio can take a heck of a lot of untangling.

Every single time I go into the studio, I have to make a conscious choice to go from my comfortable life into something other. Some place that could be scary. Some place I might not like to find those stories that want to be told. When I go in I become part of something bigger; I'm not just myself. Something takes over and flows through. But I fight giving myself up to it. I fight the work. I fight the fear every day before starting work.

That's been my struggle. Facing the terror of Not Being Enough to handle all these ideas, of succumbing to the mediocre. Of not being Up To Snuff. I'm getting more friendly with it. More gentle about it. More understanding.

It's tough, this life. Full of balances. I'm still working on that. Just thought I'd share a little bit about it with you, since I know we all struggle with these things.

Also wanted to share some pleasantries from around my place:

~ The hummingbird is visiting the red trumpet-shaped flowers on our cardinal vine! Love that bird.
~ Loving this video on inspiration, from the lovely Susannah Conway.
~ And these photos, so much! One Two Three Four Five
~ Just heard from a friend in London who received a letter I wrote ~ letter-writing and receiving makes me thrill.
~ Another friend just went to Ecuador for a month to visit friends. I will be living vicariously, and may even try to figure out how to Skype... (?!) I visited her there when she was teaching and so can imagine the places she's in.
~ It's been rainy here and it's gorgeous after months of drought.
~ Want to eat this.
~ Love this post.

Have a great Thursday!

xo Brooke

Wednesday, August 25

Sunday, August 22

bread baking & banana-peach pancakes

{Polaroid by Tim! I love the one polka dot and the one raisin.}

Bread baked while camping tastes the best ~ warm slices dripping with either olive oil and salt, or spread with strawberry jam with lumps of strawberry mixing with the fragrant chewy loaf...

Actually, everything pretty much tastes fantastic when camping just because of the sheer amount of labor that goes into cooking. Collect firewood, kindling ~ mix bread ingredients (check over shoulder for bears attracted to food scent) knead bread and set to rise, start fire ~ allow to collect coals, heat up dutch oven, toss bread in to start baking, wait 45 minutes...

Whew! But that's the great thing about camping ~ other than trolling around in the canoe, or reading another chapter of your book (Persuasion), or watching butterflies, or setting up the bedding in the tent, what is there to do? We spend a lot of time each day deciding on the dinner menu:

fire-cooked inch-thick pork chops
with a touch of Worcester sauce
on a bed of dutch-oven sauteed apples and onions
followed with a selection of
fresh cherries

And we had big plans for banana-peach pancakes, but it rained that morning. We ended up driving into the next town and finding that breakfast place where everyone was (I snuck my own special maple syrup in) and I got my pancakes that way.

{our cast-iron dutch oven baking bread}

Saturday, August 21

time for the bat ballet

{Tim and Donovan}

The anticipatory breeze ~ fading light ~ crickets joining in with the lapping of waves alongside the canoe. Fire crackling ~ a handful of black raspberries found by the showers ~ a quilt at lake's edge. Swimming in the rain-chilled water, brown and blue and green. Sunset and twilight, the bats coming out in the dozens to swoop over the surface of the saffron-striped lake, sounding like the riffling of book pages. (If you like bats, as I do, look here to watch their ballet from my canoe.)

Friday, August 20


{from our campsite}

Thursday, August 19

in the Wilds

Back from a week's camping in the Pennsylvania Wilds ~ I feel so fresh and on track, with so many clarifications figured out in the evenings of journal writing by firelight, afternoon rain-hikes, and aimless meandering around the lake in our tiny canoe. We campground-hopped, making our home amongst the trees wherever we ended up. We saw 3 elk, watched the sunsets, cooked apples & onions & pork chops in our dutch oven, and Tim fished with pure, mad dedication (sadly without much success.) I spent every day from dawn till dusk and beyond in the outdoors, and am full of the remembrance of light in all its moods.


*{photo by Tim}

Wednesday, August 18

Tuesday, August 17

Saturday, August 14

willows are for dreaming

My mobile-making has been branching out lately. Twigs fallen from my favorite willow form this one which hangs over my bed, weighted down with a holed sea stone from this beach. It's fascinating to watch in the morning (fuzzy, without my glasses on) when it moves softly like a moving minimalist drawing.

Friday, August 13

Thursday, August 12

a square of gold

...sunshine threw a square of gold onto the earth floor and from outside came that familiar overture to the African morning: the swish-swish, swish-swish of a twig broom sweeping the path gently and rythmically, swish-swish, swish-swish, like the whisper of waves on a beach, broken by pauses and the padding of feet and the melody of high voices calling to each other in hope and laughter, for night was done with and the sun climbing up the sky.

~ from The Flame Trees of Thika, by Elspeth Huxley

Wednesday, August 11

Tuesday, August 10


{tea from Switzerland trip, circa 2006, still doled out sparingly}

Tim and I are heading off early tomorrow for some fine and adventurous exploring of some as-yet undiscovered (to us) campgrounds. (We love our camping, as you know.) I'll still be posting a photograph a day (I'm loving The August Break!) and look forward to sharing our travels upon our return.

Hope you find many little adventures to enjoy this week as well!

Monday, August 9


{Locust Lake Campground beach}

Sunday, August 8

camping & passport photos

The fan is blowing on this Sunday afternoon, the dogs are leisurely and warmly uncurling themselves from their beds ~ I hear the tap-tap, tap-tap as they come down the stairs. A newly-potted rosemary on the window ledge sits in morning sun and Mimi, in a square of gold on the floor, does her weekend yoga. Neighbor's voices call out faintly on the air, chorusing with the cicada orchestra. A skateboard rolls by. I sip iced Earl Gray sweetened with honey.

Tim and I are getting ready to go camping this week, ready-set-go is scheduled for early on wednesday morning. We're bringing the dutch oven, and 101 Things To Do With a Dutch Oven, and I've great plans. Cinnamon rolls, page 12, here we come!

We were going to drive to the canadian side of the Great Lakes, but I'm awaiting my renewed passport to come in the mail, which hasn't yet come (10 years of that old photo, over, thank fortune). Did I yet tell you about how when I went the other day to get my photo taken, the man in the back of the old dusty shop pulled out a huge vintage Polaroid camera and took my photo with instant film? Is this normal? I was so enchanted.


I know I don't look enchanted, but trust me, this photo will be a huge improvement on my last passport photo, which made concierges in hostels all over Europe start back in shock.

And for the true pith of late summertime, look here: One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight

Is it just me, or are these golden later days of summer just making your soul all stretchy too?

Friday, August 6

before 8 am

{rolling out of the tent to try out our new used canoe}

Thursday, August 5

Wednesday, August 4

gone visiting

{morris arboratum}

Tuesday, August 3

figs & fireflys

"Elizabeth awoke the next morning to the same thoughts and meditations which had at length closed her eyes."

As I took my evening stroll, the bats danced over head and a firefly landed on my shirtfront and glowed there like a brooch. The dog pulled my arm at her leash and pink clouds chased themselves against the denim sky scattered with occasional stars. I saw cats in the windows on every block, and came home to settle on the couch and continue reading, while listening to this.

*from book above

Monday, August 2