Friday, December 31

eve


I have a bunch of crisp fresh white irises as yet unfurled in my great-aunt Mary's blown glass vase. (She lived to be one hundred and one!) In the heat of the fire-warmed room, they are slowly begining to open. This feels appropriate for the new year's eve.

Reading through A Journal of a Solitude*, I came across this ~

I asked myself the question, "What do you want of your life?" and I realized with a start of recognition and terror, "Exactly what I have - but to be commensurate, to handle it all better."

Another word for commensurate is proportional. I've been thinking on that ~ things in proportion. Everything in moderation ~ to find my balance of work and play, concentration and time off. That idea intrigues me as I start this new year.


What are you thinking about as the year turns?


*may sarton

Wednesday, December 29

decisions at the tea drawer

decisions at the tea drawer



Which would you pick?


*

Monday, December 27

rice pudding snowfalls

our skies looked just like this today

The heat wavers off the stove as gusts of cold white wind blow snow curtains across the garden. The windowsills are piled high with white. The sun shone hard today.

Now I sit sipping lemon zinger tea while Tim makes a late dinner for himself, scraping together something in the cast iron pan and humming in the kitchen. The cat has not budged from her fireside floor rocker all day ~ having finally warmed through and through, she's not risking a chill. A few times during last night's snowing she came to me with melted snowflakes on her back.

I find the transition from Christmas to New Years a bit tricky so I've been cooking to liven things up. I made three new recipes this week for the first time:

1. whole wheat pancakes from scratch
2. beer bread
3. rice pudding (note to self ~ do not quadruple recipe next time)

my mom's recipe, her handwriting

Our Christmas was gentle, with forays to family and a quiet brunch hosted at home. I decided to spend Christmas Eve on my own at home since Tim worked. I had a lovely evening repairing a quilt in front of the fire, reading and listening to music (and paying attention to 2 dogs and a cat ~ not quite alone.) It was just about perfect.

And all day today I've been awaiting the delayed flight of a friend's visit, now delayed until tomorrow morning due to the large snowfall. Fresh sheets are folded on the guest bed and teacups are at the ready.

What are you enjoying this week?



*

Saturday, December 25

beer bread

beer bread


beer bread

My first time making it and oh, it is good ~ with a rise time of 18 hours! Best begun the night before.

The sunshine shone today, and there is a heavy snow in the forecast. I hope to awake tomorrow to a snowstorm. The best of both worlds.

I may make make rice pudding if that happens.

For now, a hot cup of tea and a restful hour before bed.

Hope your day was merry and bright!


*

Wednesday, December 22

tidbits


My elbows rest on pizzelle crumbs as I sip a large stein of lemon zinger tea and watch the red heat of the stove burning down to coals. I do that a lot these days. The dogs are walked, as am I, and I had a good meaty day in the studio where everything clicked. I am grateful to have an open day tomorrow to get back in there, sunshine streaming, heater blasting, and get back to those poems ~

the strong, free sea birds go into the garden and
tree and thicket silence, into the arms of
the lost lady very quiet, and the birds
in these wilds and away watch the light pass
for an hour, simplicity of sunshine dying down
to a shrine.



The lunar eclipse yesterday morning was fantastic, and we watched curled up on our front stoop under a blanket with binoculars in hand. For about 15 minutes, that is, because it was cold! I kept popping outside to have a look at the happenings and we finally went to bed after 3am. The image of the orange moon was in my mind all throughout yesterday. We've passed the darkest night of the year. There's something uncanny about the early sunsets when I'm not feeling at all tired and the birds are singing.

For some reason yesterday my spring garden popped into my head, complete with a wall of lavender and rosemary interspersed with red poppies. I think I'll make it happen this year ~ I know just the place for it, with room for sunflowers in the middle.

During my downtime this week, I've been poking around and finding plenty of funny things ~

Please watch this clip, and have a tissue nearby because you will laugh until you cry.

Be inspired by those elbow patches and those shoes. And also this girl of sunshine ~ her turquoise, her necklace!

Read about the Playa Boy ~ a 17-month-old at Burning Man. I love this mindset.

I've been listening to the best Christmas cd ever (what are your favorite Christmas albums? I'd love some new ideas) and I'm looking forward to reading Wind, Sand and Stars, by Antoine-Saint-Exupery. It's on my pile. My tall, tall pile of half-finished books which is starting to glare at me.

And, well, this dog. And his sweater.

Hope you are enjoying your week!

:) brooke


*

Tuesday, December 21

happy solstice!



We're exchanging our many hidden and furtively wrapped gifts today. We exchange lists of "possibles" with each other, but in the end a lot of secret items get added. (I would be thrilled with a new box of tea to try, for example)

But most of all, I'm looking forward to enjoying ~

the morning sunshine streaming in downstairs
the warm flickering fickle flames of the stove
the scratchy feel of bringing logs in on my arm
sweet soft Mimi trying, once more, to get up onto my lap
the smooth feel of the Scrabble tiles
the smell of the damp woods earth as we walk the dogs
the crinkle of the Hershey's kiss wrappers as I just eat one more
the calm of diving into a good book for a little bit
discussing whether to eat in or go out (sushi?)
the concentration of a sewing or painting project for a few hours
stove-heated tea straight from my new tetsubin
getting some fresh air deep into my lungs
hanging out with Tim, who has the best sense of humor
listening to some good tunes on the record player
and
the excitement of opening my gifts!



do you have any special plans for today?


*

Monday, December 20

sunset moon



Driving last evening I saw the moon, ivory in a watercolor sky. The soft colors of sunset shone behind the intricate and complicated branches of trees. I like these things about winter.


(also ~ the new words to shoot by is up today)


edited to add ~ is anyone staying up tonight to watch the full lunar eclipse? Which will be visible to roughly half the population of the earth?! I'll be watching for sure: 2:41am est is when it will be fully eclipsed.

(and since I'm already on here ~ I love this gift wrapping idea.)



*

Sunday, December 19

tidying the treasures


Our decor changes with newly found treasures: a round rock, a twirled branch, a thrifted blanket. Stacks of books form and reform. Cups trail around after us. There is a flowing, fall-as-it-may philosophy around here. Our house is pretty pared down as over the years I've realized that I'm very aware of the stories and vibes that objects carry ~ aware of the feelings they produce in me, anyhow, since most of our things are thrifted and we don't know their history. But paying little for something means I can easily donate it back or pass it on, so I don't struggle with keeping something because it was expensive. My studio is in my home and I'm around our stuff in the house all day long ~ when I get tired of looking at a picture or a shell I put it away for the time being and put up new objects for refreshing company. Everything has its moment.



I notice that I start avoiding my studio when, in the course of working on things, it gets too bare, too crowded, too familiar or too boring. Then it's time to take a day and tidy and switch things up.

just thrifted this lovely wall shelf for little treasures



my fossilized sharks tooth (Carcharodon Megalodon) from my florida days,
found by my dad diving in the Gulf
in the days when you could keep such things




books to alter


feather

finished altered books fill the top and
my journals fill the bottom shelf of this metal and brass thrifted bookshelf



a little leopard from a NYC flea market makes good company




*

Friday, December 17

an evening in


Snowflakes sprinkle the garden while I throw another log on the fire and curl back up on the couch to continue sewing, half-listening to a movie. The cold has really settled in this week and I can feel my body adjusting, even to the point of running outside in my flannel pjs this morning to fill the bird feeder. I can hardly wait for one of my Christmas presents from Tim ~ a winter jacket, a welcome change to my usual practice of piling on sweaters until I'm stiff with wool. It's fun to anticipate it, knowing I've only got a few more days meanwhile of finagling the layers.

I'm looking forward to our celebration on the Solstice this tuesday (also our half-anniversary), which is when Tim and I do our gift exchange and 'celebrate the season.' (I love Amanda's take on it.) The Solstice is light, sunshine, and the outdoors ~ there will be a meteor shower and lunar eclipse this year! A long walk in the woods, possibly some Scrabble and definitely a dinner which includes biscuits are in order.

What are you looking forward to and enjoying these days?



*

Wednesday, December 15

donovan


I lost Donovan (briefly) at the park tonight. A black dog lost at night ~ not an easy thing to find. A freezing cold night, too. Not a fun 15 minutes for me.

I found him four blocks away ~ at home on the stoop, probably wondering where I was, and wondering why Tim wasn't letting him inside.

Heart attack averted.

Whew.

(When I told Lucy to find Donovan, she ran in the opposite direction. Should I be worried?)

 *

Monday, December 13

snow flurries and bee-pastures

seaside

White snow flurries fall as about 15 sparrows crowd themselves onto the feeder, throwing seed down for the juncos. I sip mandarin orange tea and watch them out the kitchen window as I cut turnips and yams and beets for soup, boiling kettle after kettle of water to cover the mound in the pot, and Tim finds space around me to make drip coffee, pour granola, and the dogs wait and stare for their breakfasts. Laundry is being washed, but so much else in the house waits to be cleaned, tidied, and put away ~ I just don't know how much I'll do of that today ~ I need to put it out of my mind and get into the studio. In March I have a solo show here, and I'm slowly getting the wheels turning and projects organized.

Tonight is a meteor shower, and I plan to take a sleeping bag and curl up on the upper porch to watch, hoping the sky is clear. During my recent visit to the Museum of Natural History in New York, I touched a meteorite ~ cold rock from far far away, farther away than I will ever be and it was a thoughtful experience.

I've also been re-reading The Hobbit after a pause of some years, and it is such a charming book ~

        It was the middle of the afternoon before they noticed
that great patches of flowers had begun to spring up, all
the same kinds growing together, as if they had been planted.
Especially there was clover, waving patches of cockscomb
clover, and purple clover, and wide stretches of short white
sweet honey-smelling clover...

       "We are getting near," said Gandalf, "we are on the
edge of his bee-pastures."


Can you blame me for now wanting a bee-pasture? About half of our pocket-hankerchief sized lawn (the part not growing perennials or vegetables) is covered in clover, which dies back in winter leaving bald patches everywhere but during the rest of the year is wonderfully lush and does attract the bees. And one day I will raise bees too.

I'm loving this project, and this photo, and please do watch this marvelous collaboration. I've added a sidebar over to the right with fun bits of things and inspirations I come across, and I'll be adding to it and renewing it each month. You might even find yourself there at some point.

:) brooke


*

Friday, December 10

the christmas tree













Our Christmas tree each year is becoming more and more unique. (Here is last year's tree.)

This year we're decorating our lovely indoor tree. I found Tree a few years back at the library squeezed into a tiny pot, tilting starboard, with a note tied to it saying help me! we cannot handle this tree anymore, free to good home, which the librarians put there. With the help of a fellow book-lover, I hoisted (most of) Tree into my car and slowly drove the mile home hoping I wouldn't get pulled over. I carefully repotted it and it now robustly brushes our 9-foot ceiling. (I periodically have to dust all its broad leaves with a damp cloth, an event I sidestep with all my other indoor plants by simply putting them out in a good rainstorm for an hour.)

I have to say I'm surprised by how many ornaments I got on there. I'm pretty sure it's thrilled with all the attention.


*

somer in new york



somer



*

Thursday, December 9

new york city

new york city

{Somer's red wine at Doma in Greenwich Village}

Chatting and wandering around New York City with an old friend can be the best of times. Somer and I chatted and sipped hot tea in the freezing cold weather speckled with snowflakes, bustling into filled cafes in early nightfall. I got there a few hours early (we both took buses) so I went to the Greenflea Market and bargained for goodies and ate tiny quiches. We opted to stay at the HI Hostel near Central Park, a quiet respite to come back to exhausted but happy each night, make a cup of tea, and change into flannel pj's. Early in the morning my first thought was to get out into the sunshine, and see what came up. So many interesting experiences ~ the heat and ease of the Metro, dogs in sweaters, a passing parade of scarves wrapped around each person's neck, oak seedlings in window boxes, the dancing through filled sidewalk crowds, cheese shops, and Greenwich Village:  The New York Earth Room (amazing!), a salmon omelette at Cafe Orlin, flourless chocolate cake at Doma, lunch at 'Snice.


hat pins

{collectible hat pins at the Greenflea Market}

I wouldn't be able to live in or endure the energy of NYC for long, (3 days is just about past my limit), and I am fascinated by the people who live there ~ how they live and what they do for leisure or interest. I love the people-watching: the little girl on the metro with her father and her cello, the woman in the incredible stilettos getting engagement pictures taken by the old houses in Washington Square Park, the women going home from the gym, the fathers wearing their babies, the children being picked up from school, the men standing outside the restaurants catching a smoke. I'm just passing through but these people live their lives each day in a concrete jungle navigating their favorite places, and to each one New York City means something different. It's a powerful sight.

But I'm so glad to be home.  :)

*

Wednesday, December 8

washington square park, nyc


washington square park, nyc, originally uploaded by flypeterfly.


Birds in trees, lots of dogs, walking around in snow flurries with a hot tea in hand, people watching and popping into shops to warm up ~ New York City, certainly fun in small batches! 


*

Sunday, December 5

time for a little adventure



I'll be heading to New York City today on the bolt bus (the $10 bus) and hope to catch a flea market or a museum before I meet up with a cherished friend, who will be taking the bolt bus from Boston. I look forward to nature in the city, to Polaroids and wool gloves and tall warm boots, to early morning city sunshine and toasted bagels with cream cheese, to the HI hostel we will be staying in near Central Park, to perusing the streets, to the American Folk Museum, to stopping for cups of tea and yummy snacks, to seeing what comes up, to long chats and pleasant silences.

See you all on Wednesday ~

xo Brooke


*

Friday, December 3

testing 1, 2, 3




I've been having fun lately with my expired Polaroid 600 film. The chemicals in the developing film respond to temperature ~ I usually just hold them inside my shirt against my belly to warm the colors. The other evening I took these (in a mirror, by lamplight) and then placed them on the top of the wood stove, then popped it in the freezer. The heat pulls out the warm colors, the cold, the cool.

Polaroid film is probably the thing I would choose if I were stuck on a desert island.





*

Thursday, December 2

at the cafe









Sometimes it's nice to just get out for an hour...



*

evening