Texas Nights

Mesquite Root Chandeliers

It rained all day today, and the night was cool and muggy. Texas fall nights, quiet time, knitting with a dog at my feet…

““The eastern sky was red as coals in a forge, lighting up the flats along the river. Dew had wet the million needles of the chaparral, and when the rim of the sun edged over the horizon the chaparral seemed to be spotted with diamonds. A bush in the backyard was filled with little rainbows as the sun touched the dew.
It was tribute enough to sunup that it could make even chaparral bushes look beautiful, Augustus thought, and he watched the process happily, knowing it would only last a few minutes. The sun spread reddish-gold light through the shining bushes, among which a few goats wandered, bleating. Even when the sun rose above the low bluffs to the south, a layer of light lingered for a bit at the level of the chaparral, as if independent of its source. The the sun lifted clear, like an immense coin. The dew quickly died, and the light that filled the bushes like red dirt dispersed, leaving clear, slightly bluish air.”

from Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

The Passage of Time in a Place

‘YOUR eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.’
And then She:
‘Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, passion, falls asleep.
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!’
Pensive they paced along the faded leaves,
While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
‘Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.’
The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more:
Turning, he saw that she had thrust dead leaves
Gathered in silence, dewy as her eyes,
In bosom and hair.
‘Ah, do not mourn,’ he said,
‘That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.’

 – Ephemera by W.B. Yeats, 1865-1939

For the last few days, I have been walking the two and a half miles from my friend’s house to the jewelry studio and realizing that the quiet time that walking gives me is what is giving structure to my day and to my thoughts. If I don’t walk a long distance, I feel like my day is incomplete.

The other day I went to one of my favorite coffee shops for lunch with a friend. We had amazing salads served by a super cute waitress who looked like Julianne Moore, and I was completely overwhelmed by the experience, simply because of the sheer amount of people who were so uniquely dressed, so funky, so cool.

The culture of Austin encourages uniqueness of spirit and clothing, and the young people here go all out. This is definitely where I get my own sense of style:  having grown up in a city where I was encouraged to be myself. One of the strengths of this city, I think, is its encouragement of people being themselves and not worrying what others think. This makes it a very young city, which is a good and a bad thing. The Peter Pan quality of Austin, or in other descriptive turns of phrase, the Velvet Coffin Effect, is one of the main reasons why I moved away from the city a year and a half ago. But, it sure is nice to visit and see  amazing people and realize how exciting it is to be in a place where there is so much to do.

That being said, however, I find myself overwhelmed by the intense action of this city. I used to find it very laid back, and on this trip I am actually finding it to be incredibly busy, colorful, loud and not the place that I remember it.  I know that, when I lived here, I had a home and a job and all the things that ground your life, but, I think that you gain a sense of perspective once you leave a place and return to it as a visitor. Returning to Austin with eyes wide open after a year of Philadelphia, New York and Maine, has shown me that while I truly love this city and the fact that it helped me cultivate and create my personality from a girl of eighteen to a woman of thirty, that I was right to have moved away.

Creativity has been the theme of my trip to Austin: I have spent much of my time here working on jewelry at my old studio off South Congress. There are few places in the world that I love more than this studio. The studio is in an old building above an antique shop called Uncommon Objects, and I have been working there for about five years.  I find the space itself inspiring and welcoming, and every time I go inside, my mind starts working on overdrive to make make make and to dream of one day having my own studio that is filled with a million inspiring objects.

Is clutter and collection a part of the creative process?

It definitely seems to be; all my friends, myself included, who are intensely creative are magpies of a sort. We collect, display and learn about many different things. Our houses are filled with tiny trinkets and artworks, seemingly random objects that hold an amazing beauty and inspire the process of making new things. I cannot tell you the joy I get from wandering through junk shops, looking through piles of old photographs, or installing a new treasure into a corner or shelf of my home simply for the joy of looking upon it.

For me, home is a place to decorate as if it were a living museum, dedicated to the beauty of strange objects. Home is an art work, one that is never completed.

About six months ago, after years of massive upheavals, I decided to fundamentally change my life and take this year off to reflect. Making that decision was a scary one, but just now I am beginning to feel that I am on the right course.

My Cross Country Tour has been very disruptive to me and makes me feel, sometimes,  like I am falling off track or something, but I am learning to just go with it and let it flow. Every moment I am thinking and learning about myself and what I want to be doing with my time. I am trying to pay attention to everything that I see, taking note of trees and flowers, rocks and houses, people, cars , animals, stores. I am trying to let go of controlling my thinking so that, especially as I walk, the thoughts that are important bubble up into my conscious brain and realizations are then made.

Today’s post rambles around a bit: I think this is the problem I am having here is that there is so much going on that everything is distracting. But perhaps this leg of the journey, these moments, are opportunities to be in the present and experience what is going on around me. To not over-think, just to be for a little while, watch and listen, create some beautiful objects, remember and think forward to two weeks from now, when I will have a home of my own again.

“Whatever it was, the image that stopped you, the one on which you
came to grief, projecting it over & over on empty walls.

Now to give up the temptations of the projector; to see instead the
web of cracks filtering across the plaster.

To read there the map of the future, the roads radiating from the
initial split, the filaments thrown out from that impasse.

To reread the instructions on your palm; to find there how the
lifeline, broken, keeps its direction.

To read the etched rays of the bullet-hole left years ago in the
glass; to know in every distortion of the light what fracture is.

To put the prism in your pocket, the thin glass lens, the map
of the inner city, the little book with gridded pages.

To pull yourself up by your own roots; to eat the last meal in
your old neighborhood.”

Shooting Script by Adrienne Rich

What Trees Teach Us About Belonging And Life

Seal Harbor Beach

“For me, trees have always been the most penetrating preachers. I revere them when they live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. And even more I revere them when they stand alone. They are like lonely persons. Not like hermits who have stolen away out of some weakness, but like great, solitary men, like Beethoven and Nietzsche. In their highest boughs the world rustles, their roots rest in infinity; but they do not lose themselves there, they struggle with all the force of their lives for one thing only: to fulfill themselves according to their own laws, to build up their own form, to represent themselves. Nothing is holier, nothing is more exemplary than a beautiful, strong tree. When a tree is cut down and reveals its naked death-wound to the sun, one can read its whole history in the luminous, inscribed disk of its trunk: in the rings of its years, its scars, all the struggle, all the suffering, all the sickness, all the happiness and prosperity stand truly written, the narrow years and the luxurious years, the attacks withstood, the storms endured. And every young farmboy knows that the hardest and noblest wood has the narrowest rings, that high on the mountains and in continuing danger the most indestructible, the strongest, the ideal trees grow.

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach, undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life.

A tree says: A kernel is hidden in me, a spark, a thought, I am life from eternal life. The attempt and the risk that the eternal mother took with me is unique, unique the form and veins of my skin, unique the smallest play of leaves in my branches and the smallest scar on my bark. I was made to form and reveal the eternal in my smallest special detail.

A tree says: My strength is trust. I know nothing about my fathers, I know nothing about the thousand children that every year spring out of me. I live out the secret of my seed to the very end, and I care for nothing else. I trust that God is in me. I trust that my labor is holy. Out of this trust I live.

When we are stricken and cannot bear our lives any longer, then a tree has something to say to us: Be still! Be still! Look at me! Life is not easy, life is not difficult. Those are childish thoughts. . . . Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, this longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem to be so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home. Every path leads homeward, every step is birth, every step is death, every grave is mother.

So the tree rustles in the evening, when we stand uneasy before our own childish thoughts: Trees have long thoughts, long-breathing and restful, just as they have longer lives than ours. They are wiser than we are, as long as we do not listen to them. But when we have learned how to listen to trees, then the brevity and the quickness and the childlike hastiness of our thoughts achieve an incomparable joy. Whoever has learned how to listen to trees no longer wants to be a tree. He wants to be nothing except what he is. That is home. That is happiness.”

– Herman Hesse – Trees: Reflections and Poems, 1984


I miss Maine. If any of you out there reading are my neighbors, say hello to the trees, the air, the water, the rocks and the wind. Walk a while for me. Watch the birds and say good morning to the days. I will be home soon. 

Photodiary — The Masonic Temple of Philadelphia

“The Masonic Temple of Philadelphia, or as it’s properly known “The Right Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania and Masonic Jurisdiction Thereunto Belonging,” is an astonishingly lavish building. In 1873, the New York Times described it as “the largest, costliest, and most magnificent structure consecrated to Masonry in the World.”

(from Atlas Obscura)

Last Thursday, I walked to the Masonic Temple of Philadelphia for a tour of this amazing building. Whilst living in Philadelphia for a year, I never made it to the temple despite having known about it for years. In the middle of the afternoon, after a long stroll down Market Street in Philadelphia, after visiting The Dream Garden, I came upon the temple, walked inside and spoke to the man at the desk about taking a tour. He gave me a deal, telling me I looked “studious” and sent me down a long hall to the left to wait for the 3pm tour. I sat in a lavish waiting room whose walls were lined with portraits of Grand Masters, old and current, leather couches, leather chairs and paintings of family life gilded in gold. At 3pm, a young man with a dark beard walked in and told me I was the only one in the tour group. His named was Seamus, and later I learned that he had graduated from U Arts the year before with a degree in film, was more interested in writing poetry, and since he was a mason from the age of 18, the temple hired him when no one else would. He is a docent and general helper around the temple.

Following are many photos of the temple, which, to date, is one of the most amazing, weird, tacky, beautiful, stunning, overwhelming and bizarrely decorated places I have ever been. You should know that one commercial artist (a Mr. Herzog) was responsible for almost all of the design of the building, and himself painted all the paintings while commissioning others to do the plaster work. When he started decorating the building around the turn of the 20th century, all the walls were bare plaster. As you can see, by the time he was finished, not an inch had been neglected of fanciful, precisely-themed decorations.


Waiting Area – paintings depicting the honors of family life


This room was modeled after Spanish-Moorish temples. The artisans who decorated the temple traveled for three months to various locations and learned how to reproduce elements of specific, themed designs.


All the electric chandeliers were originally gaslights


Ceiling in a hallway between rooms.

Up to 50,000 lightbulbs are used in the temple at any one time.


The Egypt Room


The ceiling of the Egypt room comes complete with the Sun


The Norman Room


Modeled after Norman cathedrals in England


Room whose name I have forgotten


Corinthian Room


The Corinthian Room’s color scheme of teal and turquoise was my favorite


Plasterwork Detail from one stairway showing Masonic symbols


My favorite aspect of the temple was in the center, on the 3rd floor. These circles were painted just before the temple’s completion, and each person who worked on the decoration of the temple dipped his thumb into gold paint and fingerprinted his thumb onto the wall.

Philadelphia may have its faults, but one of its greatest attractions are the many beautiful, old buildings that dot Center City. Philadelphia’s history is fascinating, while its contemporary status is nothing short of tragic. If you find yourself wandering the streets of Philadelphia, be sure to add the Masonic Temple to your itinerary. And say hi to Seamus, from me.

Age & Aging

The Dream Garden – A Glass Mosaic Mural by Maxfield Parrish & Louis Comfort Tiffany, 1915

I left Maine six days ago to start this journey across the country.  It feels so far away: like I am drifting. Me and my purple suitcase are attached together, detached from all other things. I feel as if I am floating through time and space, tethered only by the places in which I sleep at night, and the writings here and in my paper-and-pen journal.
As I have been traveling these last six days, I have realized a few things. The first is that I need stability and my own place to live. I moved out of my old house in the middle of May, and since then have been staying with friends and family or house sitting. At first, this was an adventure that I was ready for. I sold all my belongings save the 12 boxes of prized possessions, and was thrilled by feeling freer and lighter than I had for years. I still feel free and light but my understanding of what that means has changed from a relative position vis-a-vis possessions to desiring lightness inside my heart and mind. Part of that is the attempt to cultivate a sense of peace within myself that has nothing to do with objects: just being observant of the passing of time and place around me. However, it has come to my attention that I am ready to have keys again. I have no idea where I put my keys as it has been so many months since I have needed to use one. I am ready to settle into my winter house and create a little, temporary home there and reflect on the changing seasons and my new place.

Maxfield Parrish lived in rural Vermont in a beautiful house.

He loved theatre, and often staged beautiful plays at his home that starred his friends and family.

The next thing that I have been thinking about is age and aging. Lately, I have been feeling my age. I looked in the mirror yesterday and started making funny faces at myself, as usual, and noticed these large wrinkles that stretch across my forehead. Now, when I am not making funny faces, those wrinkles are invisible. But how often am I not making funny faces? I noticed the permanent wrinkle between my eyebrows. I noticed the grey hair that is everywhere now, especially since I haven’t colored my hair in four months. I notice the way I feel around younger people. I feel like I am counting my experiences with more importance. I feel like I am more contemplative than before, and that I am less likely to try to foist my opinion on to others. I feel like I have learned a lot but also have just lived through a lot. I feel tired and reflective, as if I am spending many hours of each day reaching and looking back into the parts of my life that have been neglected for a long time, trying to suss out meaning where I have usually neglected an analysis.

Louis Comfort Tiffany created new forms of glasswork for this mural. It is the largest glass mural in the world.

One of the things I keep coming back to is the experiential gulf between people. Someone you know and even love can be so similar in age to you but yet have not shared even a handful of the experiences that really carved out the person that you may be at the present moment. That isn’t to say that you can’t share experiences and learn from each other, but I think a sense of perspective may only be created through multiple experiences, good and bad, that provide you with an understanding of what is important, what is doable, what is a waste of time.

The Dream Garden – Detail

I turn 32 on this birthday, this Christmas Eve. When I think about my birthday this year, my dream is to spend it in my little house with a friend or two. I hope to have candles and lamps burning (I hate overhead light especially in the coziness of winter) and to drink a glass or two of wine. I hope that it snows, and that I can watch the snow falling and later, go walking in it when it is dark and everyone is asleep. I hope to walk down to the harbor and look out at the water, at the few boats that will remain in the water at the end of December, and walk home. I hope to have a cozy blanket on my couch and be able to stay there until Christmas is born the next morning. That is what I wish for, nothing more and nothing less.

I do not feel old, far from it. I feel very young most of the time and people tell me almost constantly that they are surprised that I am almost 32. I blame the hair dye, crazy outfits and desire to smile at everyone and everything. People often tell me that they notice my smile first. I count this as a win. When I say that, however, I realize that now I have been on the planet for 1/3 of the time I will get to be here, if I am very lucky. I plan to not leave till I am about 97, as long as I have all my faculties and can walk around and knit. Now that I know that I have been here for 1/3 of my life, and I look at all the experiences that I have had, the hardships endured, the beautiful things that I have seen and felt and appreciate every day, I feel older than some of the people who are around me.

The reality is that I lived life to the absolute fullest until about a month ago, when I decided to stop. When I say lived life to the fullest, I mean running around like the proverbial chicken with her head cut off, running from this to that. Pressured by a desire to succeed, I did. I succeeded, and I did not understand the meaning of the word no. I did everything I could all the time. And that, in a lot of ways, is a great thing. I know my capabilities and strengths and weaknesses and know now that I will always be ok; I will always be able to take care of myself. But I am tired. Tired, tired, tired. I have to stop rushing; there is no rush. All we have is time, granted it passes very quickly, but it is, really, all that we have. Time to stop and think, time to drink tea and eat soup, time to walk and listen to music, time to create beautiful things and tell people that we love having them around.

The Dream Garden – Detail

Since the age of 28, when this process of realization began, I have seen myself rush headlong into many things. I have seen myself make a decision that was absolutely critical to my happiness, despite the social rejection of that decision. I have seen myself take on everything that was thrown at me. I have seen myself adapt and change even when I shouldn’t have. I have seen myself dedicate my life to others while neglecting myself. I have seen myself run, run, run, desperately afraid that I would miss something, or something would miss me, if I didn’t. Desperately afraid that “it” wouldn’t happen, while not even knowing what “it” was.

The Curtis Center at 6th and Walnut in Philadelphia – Home to The Dream Garden

When I got shingles this summer and was forced to stop, I started thinking about age. I started thinking about all the things that I have done and wished I had done, and about all the things that I thought I would have had at this point. And then I realized, wherever you is, there you are. And all of a sudden, all the madness, the running around, began to slow down. The spinning began to slow and eventually stop. Friends helped me with this, helping me understand that I was still rushing around, still making plans where none needed to be made.

The Dream Garden was designed to inspire wonder at nature and a sense of solitude in the viewer.

This tour of my country is so beautiful because I get to see lots of people who I love, I get to do whatever I want to do in some of my favorite cities, and I get to spend some serious time thinking about this and other subjects. By the time I go home in a few weeks, hopefully I will be ready to stretch and unfurl this new me, the one that will be slow and dedicated instead of rushing around scared. The one who will spend time every morning appreciating instead of stressing. The one who will age gracefully, quietly. The one who will not look too far in the future for plans, but try to stay in the present and notice people, places, and things of beauty. I feel like this trip is my last for a while, because the task at hand is to practice being still for a while and watching the world by walking within it, instead of running, driving, and doing all the time.

Wind & Sirens


Wind on 84th Street


“Here was peace. She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.”

Zora Neale Hurston – Their Eyes Were Watching God


Traveling is disruptive to the spirit, no matter how happy you are to see people you haven’t seen for a long while. Feeling disconnected, and detached, the noises of the city at night are disconcerting. Deep breaths with eyes closed, visualizing home…..good night.

Photodiary — The American Museum of Natural History

There are very few things in life that fill me with greater joy than a visit to a museum in good company. This museum in particular transforms me from a 31 year old woman into a very excitable girl. Walk with me…

Leaves Turning in Fall Sun – Upper East Side of Manhattan

Stone Bridge around 77th Street – Central Park

Tree Roots in Central Park

Fish Guts Treated with Photo-reactive Colours

Scorpion Carapaces

Tiny Spiders in Alcohol

Red Spider in the Spiders Alive! Exhibit

Spiders Alive! was a good exhibit, but didn’t have too much new or exciting information about the creepy crawlies that I didn’t already know, for the most part. However, there were many tanks of the amazing arachnids and many pretty pictures.

Peacock Spider – my favorite

Wolf Spider

Orb Spider

Orange Spider whose name I have forgotten

Ladybird Spider

Diorama of a Chipmunk Nest – don’t you love dioramas?

Hall of Biodiversity

The Hall of Biodiversity is my favorite part of the museum. When I walk into this darkly lit room, I transform into a giddy little girl, so excited to see pressed flowers in frames, fish swimming through the air, acorns on a string, blown glass jellyfish and cast brass bacterium. Nowhere else can you take a turn around one room and walk through the Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species of most creatures on Earth. In my dreams, I would have a house that looks like the Hall of Biodiversity…a seemingly living, breathing account of life on Earth, how it relates and how it has changed.

Don’t you want to visit? Maybe you should.

Notes from a Small Island

Sunset out an Airplane’s Window


Passing Time in an Airport

The E Subway Platform, Queens

Manhattan. So busy, so full of people, cars, buildings! So few stars, so few trees.

New York City is so overwhelming to me after spending so many weeks in the natural surroundings of Mount Desert Island. I remember getting into a cab yesterday and just noticing everything: all the lights, all the cars, the people. I noticed a lady walking down 2nd avenue in orange shoes. I noticed another woman crossing 81st street wearing shorts and a T-shirt, like it was still summer to her. She was carrying a giant Louis Vuitton tote. I noticed everyone moving to and fro, desperately trying not to notice each other. So different from Maine, where you say hello to everyone and most of the time stop to talk: maybe because there are so many less people? Maybe it is something else.


Monday Morning

This morning, I woke up early, as I have been lately. I looked out the front windows of the apartment, seeing people walk down the street holding coffee, getting into cars, throwing away trash, cleaning the streets. The light of mid-September in New York City in the morning is beigey-creamy-yellow, and the light streams around the leaves of trees that line this street. The leaves are turning brown and yellow at the edges, just hinting that fall is coming, is maybe, even, here. This quiet, morning time is the most important time of the day lately. There is nothing more fundamental than having time in the morning to just be quiet, to think, to write about what is happening, to think about creativity, artwork, people, love, and life. To remember sitting on rocks in the sun, strolling in the fog.

Something that I have to remember is that it is not the place: that no place is perfect and no place is the answer. The truth comes from within and the feeling of being pulled and pushed by something from inside the body or brain to see things fundamentally different. To focus on breathing and seeing the details, the parts of things, and to not get distracted or lost in the nervous, overwhelming feelings that are inside my mind right now. This mind of mine is pulling me into two directions…one to a place of peace and appreciation, the other to a place of fear and doubt, a place where I am scared of being hurt or not being able to escape. During this adventure, this tour of my country, the task is to appreciate and notice as much as possible while cultivating a sense of safety and direction again.

There is a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson which describes this sensation perfectly, I think, which I have copied for you here.

“Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower -but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is.” (1869)

It is funny, to me, a person who has spent most of her life in and around small cities, around so many people and things and distractions and shiny objects, to be discovering and cultivating a sense of peace and calm and quiet. For the next few days, I will be watching people in this monumental city, this great place of art and commerce and architecture and life. I love New York, I love its passion and persistence, its madness, its constant shifting of people and energy and light, back and forth, day to day. I love its food, its stores, its museums. I love being just blocks away from Central Park, a place that, for me, has always held a deep sense of fascination as I watch people walk, sit, or play strange music under bridges.

So what am I trying to say here? Nothing in particular, just that, after twenty four hours of adjusting to being back in the world that most people live in, I am standing at a window, in the morning, looking out. Soon I will drink coffee, get dressed, and walk out the front door into the world again to look up and see what is to be seen today.

A Very Early Autumn Morning…looking up!

Photodiary – Northeast Harbor in September

{I am endeavouring to link up the blogs….if you made it here from Philly Misadventures, I thank you and welcome!}

Being that I have rented an apartment in this tiny, tiny coastal town, and that I am leaving town for a month tomorrow, I thought I would walk around and get to know my new village. Last year, I was living in Philadelphia, a city of 1.536,471 people. I am now a resident of Northeast Harbor, a village in the Town of Mt Desert. Northeast Harbor’s population, I am guessing, is several hundred while the whole of Mt Desert (Otter Creek, Seal Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Somesville, Hall Quarry and Pretty Marsh) boasts a population of 2,100 people.


The deer watched me take their photo.


A driveway to a very beautiful house — caught in the fading sunshine of a summer afternoon


What a dream of a house! Check out all of those windows! I have a dream of sitting on these people’s porches this winter when there is no one inside.


The sun was covered with fast-moving clouds. Eerie autumn sky.


I am fairly certain this chestnut tree was the inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Whomping Willow. I am also fairly certain this tree will be one I visit periodically as the seasons change.


Staring out and down the chestnut tree’s limbs, you can see the lawn stretch out toward the ocean.


Look up! Look up! is a message I keep hearing whilst taking photographs


Flowers consistently surprise me with their beauty and brightness, even if they sit at the side of a road.


These weeds grow at the edge of the road near the Northeast Harbor Fleet, and overlook a small cove.


The largest shelf mushroom you ever did see!!!


These trees called out to be photographed…

35 years ago, Voyager 1 was sent out into space with golden records that held the musings, music, and images of humanity. Designed as a perpetual repository of the human experience as well as a comprehensible tool to communicate with others like ourselves, the Golden Records, to me, are one of humanity’s greatest achievements. Here you can read more about the records, as well as find a link to the book that publishes the 100 images that were sent up on that fateful flight.

“Inspired by cave paintings, Sagan’s Golden Record, and nuclear waste warning signs, MIT artist-in-residence Trevor Paglen set out to create a collection of 100 images, commissioned by public art organization Creative Time, to be etched onto an ultra-archival, golden silicon disc and sent into orbit onboard the Echostar XVI satellite this month — at once a time-capsule of the present and a message to the future. The Last Pictures (public library), a fine addition to these essential books on time, gathers the 100 images, alongside four years’ worth of fascinating interviews Paglen conducted with scientists, anthropologists, philosophers, and artists exploring the inherent tensions of our civilization as it brushes up against profound questions about existence, impermanence, and deep time.”

On that note….I am off to explore our country for a little while. Off I go on bus, plane, train….from New York to Philadelphia to New Jersey to Austin to Los Angeles to New Orleans to Montgomery and back home. Wish me luck!


Waiting for the Bus — at Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

Lately, I have been walking a lot.

When I was a very small child, my mom had one of those very typically English, old-fashioned, black and very Victorian prams. She used to push me around our very typically English village. There is an old photograph of me, somewhere amidst the piles of those old family photos that my brother and I swear we will do something about one of these days in which I am very gleely grinning in a pink sunhat whilst sitting in the pram. I am chubby-cheeked and one arm is held up in the air as if to wave at the photographer. I am told by my mom that I used to pick the leaves off plants at that age, especially strawberries,  and eat them.

Hamilton Pond, Bar Harbor

So. Perambulation. Life gives us these tricky twists and turns sometimes. Most of the time we are clever enough to at least expect them and see that there may be pitfalls along the road. Some other times, though, when you are marching along with your head held high and confidence is radiating from your poor, suffering heart, life’s surprises can hit you something fierce.

Incoming Tide, Seal Harbor

Glaciated Granite Boulder, Acadia Mountain Trail, Acadia National Park

The Old Bar Harbor Dairy Barn, Bar Harbor

I have been house sitting in a town called Seal Harbor for the past two weeks. The house is too big for me; there is an entryway and a kitchen, three bedrooms, a bathroom, a dining room, a living room and a semi-creepy basement. Despite it being a tad bit too large, it has been a wonderful place to be myself for a while. This is the house that started me walking everywhere, because I sold my car just before moving over there. It has been a while since I have had no car, and in Austin it wasn’t a big deal really to not have a car for a while. Your perceptions of being mobile in a car change when you move to a rural area with no consistent public transportation and large distances between tiny towns. I love walking and have since I lived in San Miguel de Allende, when I was 23-24 years old, but it is rare to get an opportunity to really walk, all the time, just like people used to do.

Sunset, Seal Harbor

There is a lady who lives here whose name is Nancy and she was the librarian at the Jessup Library for many years. Nancy is average height and a skinny-minny. She wears glasses and a dress and a smile every day, rain or shine. She also walks everywhere. My neighbor told me a couple of weeks ago that Nancy used to live out near my family’s home and that she would walk into town every day, all ten miles along a highway, even in winter, even bare-legged in the winter because her dress didn’t stretch all the way down to her ankles, so that she could get to the library and be the town librarian for all the people of Bar Harbor.

Norway Drive Looking North to Peggy Rockefeller Farm

Mr Rockefeller’s Gatehouse, Acadia National Park

Lichen, Acadia Mountain Trail, Acadia National Park

So Nancy was an inspiration to me, as was Tasha Tudor and her purposeful anachronisms. As was Fly Rod Crosby and Isak Dinesen. I have an absolute affinity for old things: old photographs, old books, old ways. I truly fantasize about an end of the world that is just mostly enjoyable, no violence or desperation, just a lack of electric overhead light and an ability to be for a little while without all the pressures that make us rush around like chickens with our heads cut off, driving from point A to point B.

Flower Field at Jordan Pond House, Acadia National Park

Is there something more glorious than this? Morning Glory, Seal Harbor

About a week ago, I had Indian chai on the rocks at the beach at Seal Cove in Acadia National Park with a friend. We stretched out in the sunshine and drank hot chai from glass mason jars. We were lazing around on long fingers of brown-pink granite that was formed here by old volcanoes and sculpted by slightly younger glaciers. As I lay there in the sunshine, I looked out onto the water and noticed two things: birds flying high in the sky, swooping and diving, and lobster boats, methodically moving across the horizon. They are such purposeful boats. The chai was delicious, as always, but mostly the experience was feeling the heat of the sun on your body as it reflected off the rocks, jumping slightly when the incoming tide splashed on those same rocks and got salt water spray into the “tea cups”, discussing whatever comes into your head on sunny days at the end of the summer in Maine. Staring out onto the water through sunglasses and realizing that this heat, this sunshine that warms the very essence of you, as does the tea, is ebbing ever so slightly away. It’s like you have to drink in the sun; it is so rich and you know, so quick to change.

Cloud Gazing

Hamilton Pond, Bar Harbor

One of the more interesting facets of my temporary house is that the house sits a mere 20 feet from the border of Acadia National Park. This may be obvious to some, but there is no cell service in the park. This means that if I wish to use my cell phone, I have to walk to the beach. No small feat! I discovered during my first day or two that it was taking me about twenty minutes to walk to the beach, down past the houses that dot this neighborhood of Seal Harbor.

The house is on Jordan Pond Road, a road that is very residential, something that is atypical here. As I walk, I pass over a small granite bridge that spans a carriage trail, a long walking road that was built by John Rockefeller all those years ago. Past the bridge comes a set of small houses, all adorable and slightly different. All gardens are well kept and dotted with cute yard decorations and old cars. Past the houses is another small bridge that spans a mountain stream about 10 feet wide. The stream’s water is brown with the tannins of the trees’ tissues that surround it and grow and form its banks. The stream falls down, down, down, plummeting into the forest of the park.

Old Mechanics Shop, Jordan Pond Road

47 Jordan Pond Road

Keep walking and you will pass an old mechanic’s shop that looks to be almost falling down but houses two beautiful old cars. 47 Jordan Pond Road is a beautiful building: beautiful but impossible to do anything about. After the mechanic’s shop come more houses, but these ones are more spread out as you approach the town of Seal Harbor, all four buildings of it. There is a coffee shop, a post office, a church and an amazing shop called The Naturalist’s Notebook. Just a little bit further is a grassy park studded with old trees and benches to sit on, and just past the park is the sandy beach of Seal Harbor. Off to your left the road goes up, corkscrew-style, into The Hill, where the really fancy people live.

Nighttime, Seal Harbor

Every day I have walked down to this beach three or four times. After realizing how long each trip was taking, I decided to track how far I was walking to use my cell phone and discovered that each way was exactly one mile. Two mile walk just to use the phone. That’s time in Maine. If I do the math, it makes me realize that I have been walking 6 – 8 miles per day just to use the phone, not even to mention all the other walking.

Seal Harbor Beach Bathroom & Shower

Carriage Trail, Acadia National Park

Let’s discuss this idea of walking through a rural area in summer. Walking is easy, but most people do not do it. Walking helps you really see your surroundings because you slow down enough to see everything. Lately I have been mentally collecting spider webs that I see on my walks. I started to take photos of them, but they didn’t turn out so I decided to just catalogue them in my mind instead. When I walk, it is almost always with headphones in because I love having a soundtrack to my walks. Some people like to listen to the sounds of nature, and I do, too sometimes, but mostly when I am sitting still. When I am moving, I like to hear and feel the beat of music: sometimes I like to sing even as cars pass me by.

Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

Lately, I have been internalizing the theme of Wordsworth’s poem, The World Is Too Much With Us, which I have copied here for you.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. –Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn. (1802)

Walking has helped me start a process of the discovery and discernment of  my true feelings about the ideas of self and others, self and nature, self and career or the exterior world. When the world is too much with me, I go on a long walk and after a few minutes, a voice pops in my head and I almost always return home with a solution or an idea or at least a feeling that a solution is coming.

It was during one of these walks, late at night a couple of weeks ago, during the full moon in fact, the Blue Moon, that I sat on the edge of the ocean in the dark. The water was still as glass, more like a lake than the ocean, and the moon shone down onto water so dark black it was inky and velvety and glimmered, all at the same time. I was sitting at the top of some steps and the waters of high tide covered some of the steps at the bottom. I watched some lobster boats buoy around in the water out in front, just bob up and down in the nighttime current. It was during this walk, and at that specific moment, that I realized that I didn’t want to leave Maine, and in fact, that I had made the decision to stay. I felt the decision transition from my heart and mind down through my body until, finally, this long body of mine felt anchored to the Earth in a way that it hadn’t been in a very long time. I felt, in that moment, as if something was pulling me to the ground, encouraging me to just stay.

Seal Harbor Horizon


A few days later, I missed the bus. (I know that I mentioned above that there is no public transportation…truthfully, there IS a bus but only in summer. But the bus in summer is fantastic!) I was trying to get to Northeast Harbor to run some errands, but I arrived at the bus stop five minutes late. I realized, coffee in hand, that I would either have to wait another hour or just walk the four miles to the next town. I finished my coffee and started walking. It was a blissful morning where there was a touch of fog but not an overwhelming amount of it, so that everything glimmered and was slightly warm. As I walked, I passed a small cove that I have never noticed every time that I had driven past it. I had never noticed how the coastline swept in a perfect arc, and that the stones that made up the shore are almost black, that the seaweed stretches and mirrors the shape of the cove itself and is a brilliant shade of mustard yellow and deep brown, that the sky complements the earthy tones of the land with its bright, deep blueness.

Inlet off Seal Cove, Seal Harbor

As I walked, I saw people’s houses and gardens, I was passed by cars and trucks. Sometimes I walked on sidewalks, but mostly walked on the shoulder of the highway and got lots of gravel in my shoes. I hadn’t switched to my fall uniform of cowboy boots yet, so by the time I flagged down the next bus that came my way, I had to tip out my shoes and watch a small flood of sand and grit fall onto the ground. I walked over three of the four miles by the time I was picked up and probably should have just kept going. But everyone loves a ride, right?

Little Long Pond, Acadia National Park

Perambulation. Taking the time to look up, look left, look right, and look down. To notice the white spiky flowers that grow in the gravel pits to the side of the road. To notice two spider webs next to each other. To notice three hawks flying up above you as you walk along a highway. To notice the bait-y smell of the last lobsterman house in Northeast Harbor. To notice the rise and fall of roads, the details of shingles on the sides of buildings. To notice others; their clothes, their shoes, their sunglasses, their way of holding themselves. To notice the crunch of rocks and glass under your feet, the tightness of your body lengthening and stretching to move from one place to another. To notice your temperature and movement in a way that you never notice, otherwise.

Seal Harbor Park in September