Category Archives: Travel

The Path of Finding Your True Nature


I recently read a blog by a writer, a kindred spirit, on a DIY Retreat. Do it yourself.  She mentions solitude.  How it can suck you into a place so deep you blink when you come back, face to face with a real person.  The point when one goes away for a month is generally to focus uninterrupted into a deeper level of creativity.  A time to reflect and walk or run and write or art.  To swim and dream and grieve.  To feel. To find yourself flowing in the current of a project from your heart, or simply free yourself from the day to day routine, to allow access to the deeper parts of language.  To beginnings and prompts and pay attention.


I think back to my own DIY Art Retreat.  The joy of waking each day into one of my own making.  It felt simple.  Though I had no income I did not worry.  My work before me.  My focus.  My abundance on the table.  It was there and rising like homemade bread.  The beauty of being present in each moment.  In the stitch and the idea.  In the walk on the beach.  In the reflection of the cypress.  Sometimes the phone call from a friend felt intrusive as I made my way back to the surface to engage in that voice to voice world.  Emerging from deeper and further and far.


Since I’ve returned I write a poem entitled “Missing January” as the world runs forward and I scramble to catch up.  Already March.  Spring is coming.  Daylight has sprung forward. Rain in the forecast.  Lovely all and despite the 7 inches of snow on Friday the ground outside my window is already bare.  Warmed by the sun. The snow melt deeply inhaled by the shallow roots of the high desert.

his Solitude (underpinning) --detail

But it is the significance of solitude. How easy to slip into that place devoid of interaction with others.  Face to face. During my retreat there were times I asked myself did I speak to another person today, out loud, or only respond to the thoughts inside my head? I asked myself this nearly everyday for 30 days — though there were interactions. In passing with my respectful host or the cashier at the grocery store or an exchange at the Farmer’s Market. A nod to a person on the path and once a real conversation with a woman at a florist setting out pots of pansies.  She had moved from Michigan and warned me against the road south to Apalachicola and the high crime in St. Pete. Though I went anyway and loved them both.

winterchairsnowInteraction can be dangerous.  The fear and opinions of others can sway or change your mood entirely.  Take you out and away and far, or it can circle back to self-reflection.  That is what I’m learning.  About myself.  The importance to socialize or engage with people; friends or strangers or within a community, is to spring yourself into the battle zone.  Often there is reward.  I am learning who I am through my ability, or lack of, this face to face blink in the sunlight interaction with other people.  It can be painful, tight-in-the-chest want to control anxiety, or equally delightful. An indicator to the better path.  The most true.  The joy of easy friendship and mutual admiration and connection. And to the discomfort of standing up, taking charge, saying no or redirecting and breaking the pattern that leads to nowhere new.  The guilt and letting go and acceptance.

tulipsdaffodilFleshnotafamily detail taoschurchskybarn

A friend of mine wrote this line:  the birds are still enthusiastic in spring.  I hear them now this sunny morning.  Monday.  The opportunities are mine for the taking if only I value myself. Enough. Know my heart and honor my true nature: art, writing, photography, walking, wine and travel.  Quietude and ocean and family and friendship.  The occasional roasted chicken.  The possibility of direction becomes obvious.  Trusting that it will.  And always imagination.  To color outside the lines and take the path less traveled by — if that be yours.  Go now.


Brenda lives in a small casita in Santa Fe, NM where she continues to work on her Primitive Seamstress series. Watch for her work in the upcoming miniatures show at Metallo Gallery in Madrid.  Dates TBA.



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Primitive Seamstress: Last week of the Artist Retreat


Firstly I want to thank those of you that recognize and honor this month away from my day job: Personal Assistant (that has me schlepping from housesit to dog walk, from Point A to Point B,  to the P.O or shoe repair to consignment shop or up the down staircase and no guarantee of income except the consistent 12 hours M/W/F afternoons) that this is an Artist Retreat. It is not a vacation.

Vacation conjures up dinners on foreign sidewalks, frolic in the ocean and the chance for intimate encounter, hmmm maybe an Italian chef who sings and plays guitar.  Paid time off (gasp)! –That is not this.  In the corporate world this might be a business trip with reimbursement and expense account.  Not that either.

This is beautiful.  Perfect.  Present.  — except these brief distractions of explanation–forgive me.  So now I’ve said it.


Granted there are vacation similarities and the possibility of most of the above. Maybe just semantics but still. The Artist Retreat comes with intention and a whole lot of solitude (which is the point).

A time to focus on the pursuit of the Primitive Seamstress, long walks on a long beach, and to thrive in the salt air that is too cold for swimming, in its perfect off-season bursts of fog and red flag days to amazing emerald calm and too early for tourists. This is gifted time away from the demands of daily life. Time to indulge in the creative process uninterrupted by obligation to others, though not completely cut off of course. There is wifi and I partook in the recent Facebook Artist Challenge. Thank you Katherine Coons for the nomination.

True it is of my own making. Thank you Brenda. Best gift I’ve ever given myself.  No Creative Capital or Lannan Foundation funding though I am grateful for the generosity of a few who bought into the art exchange/donation that helped with gas money for the 4 day road trip from Santa Fe to Santa Rosa Beach (1400 miles +).


And it has been fruitful.  The Primitive Seamstress Series well underway.

An honest beginning.

And the blog and the Thursday poem.


BrecopperriverI think back to other times I’ve taken leaps of faith for adventure.  A 28 day backpacking trip through the Escalante canyons of Utah. In June. Bare bones. A blanket and a cup.  At 22.  I lost 13 pounds. Ten months later I quit school early to raft the Grand Canyon for 21 days.  1983. Again 8 years later. These were in a life long before I realized I was an artist. Since then there have been trips to Mexico for painting and poetry and Spanish lessons.  A bicycle tour in Tuscany. A month at the Vermont Studio Center and four years at El Zaguan on Canyon Road.

A friend posted a quote on FB recently (below).  Some might find it corny but it resonated with me in my forever search for purpose, identity, a safe place to reside, a creative balance — how to proceed toward ‘the dream’ if you don’t know what it is –and how does a person not know their dream?  Wow! that is the question.


If you can’t figure out your purpose
figure out your passion.
For your passion will lead you
right into your purpose.
                   —Bishop T.D. Jakes

I know that travel is a passion.  Process my vehicle.  That the first step is to value yourself.  To create your own happiness.  To write your own dream. To let go of judgment (self and others) and to take a deep breath and open the door.  Who knows where it might lead you.



Sometimes I dream of flying over the Chugach

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who lives in Santa Fe, NM.  She is currently at an Artist Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida.  Her work can be seen at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage in February 2015 or visit Art Happenings.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

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Primitive Seamstress: in the beginning


Beginning:  the point in time or space at which something starts. To Begin.   Such as a New Year, rife with opportunity for growth and change.  For personal improvements:

  • err on the side of kindness
  • open yourself to connection
  • let go of judgment
  • practice tolerance
  • give in to adventure
  • nourish your curiosity
  • honor your gifts
  • be true to your nature/direction
  • art and dance and yoga too.

Some call these resolutions though too often they are toasted to at the midnight hour, at the tipping of the champagne into the glass and too soon forgotten.  But the celebration and awareness of said intention is always good.  Right?  Every beginning begins with a kernel of thought or action.  One step forward.  A sentence.  A phone call. An email.  Or simply opening the door and walking outside into a new day, or a new life or loading your trusty Subaru and driving 4 days across the country to a new place.

IMG_9020If only temporarily.  You are forever changed.  The moon jellies on the beach unlike anything ever seen before are amazing.  Thick and translucent and other worldly. A great blue heron takes flight startled by your passing. The cypress is a muse.  The sand is flat and pure like the skin of babies, goes on for miles uninterrupted except for the clearing of thoughts.  Three dolphin dip and roll shimmering through the reflection of late afternoon. And so my beginning (January 2015) brings me to a place of retreat.  A journey and a place. A little cottage near a cypress swamp and a 15 minute walk to the beach.  It is perfect.  I am perfect.  The sewing is primitive.  I am the perfect primitive seamstress.

The threads hang haphazard (I kind of like that) and I hope they hold.  The thread falls out of the needle repeatedly until I pull out the instructions for threading the machine and realize I skipped step number 4 –oh!  Good to know.  Occasionally the bobbin jams.  I waste a lot of thread in trial by error.  But it is freeing too.  To begin.  I sew standing up at the small kitchen counter.  It seems to work well for my start, stop, grab, cut –design, knot, pause.  This is not a scientific approach. Here are a few samples:

IMG_9029panelpocket beginningsgrandma pocket

I come with intention.  To create 100 6”x8” (or so) linen pockets to hold secrets or photos or ideas or forgiveness –sew and knot or wrap with barbed wire or ribbon.  A little gesso. A line.  Graphite.  A cork.  It is a loose plan. In my experience art projects begin with imagination.  A vision that morphs into something long and far and seldom exact.  The logic to the abstract.  Or the abstract to the logic.  It goes both ways.  Eventually.


When I wake on Saturday in this delicious space –into time and a trip to the Farmer’s Market I wonder at the purpose of “pocket”.  What was the point again?  Is pocket important?  My dreaming opens me to other options.  To stitch a narrative before I sew it closed.  To leave access to experiment instead of backtrack or undo or after-the-fact.  Thank goodness for the subconscious.  It really directs my life.  And so I have both.  Pockets filled or not and flat stitched pieces that I call panels though they are not attached to a hard surface.  Or any surface.  Yet.  The exercise on this Artist Retreat is to simply begin. To create without judgment.  And so I do.


Brenda Roper is a Personal Assistant & Contemporary Artist in Santa Fe, NM.  She is taking the month of January for an Artist Retreat in Santa Rosa Beach.  To explore new work in fiber, continue her Thursday poem and other writings, walk the beach and draw inspiration from her newest muse the cypress swamp.  Your support and donations are appreciated.  A little help for the time not working (the day job).  For the just in case.  For the gas (despite the drop in prices). For the inspiration and leap of faith.  For the belief that art matters.  Think of it as an exchange.  A gift that goes both ways.

  • For any donation of $25 or more you will receive a hand-made artist card
  • For any donation of $100 or more you will receive an original print in 11″x14″ mat ready for framing
  • For any donation of $200 or more (if you have deep pockets of generosity) you will receive one of my 12″x12″ painterly photographs

bisbeepeacesnow and crossIMG_8852

Paypal is preferred.  Please include your correct mailing address.  Click here to  If you prefer to mail a check please send it to Brenda Roper 991 1/2 Don Manuel Street #B, Santa Fe, NM 87505.  Gifts will be sent as received.  Donations by check will be fulfilled upon my return to Santa Fe in February.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.  Thank you forever and in advance.  Especially to those who have already donated and you know who you are.

Happy New Year!!


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Happy Holidays!! — ART retreat & Adventure

2014-11-28 13.04.55

Happy Holidays!! to ART & Adventure

As the end of 2014 draws closer to Solstice and the days so dark I find my voice on this blog after a long hiatus.   A resolution to bring it alive in 2015.   A toast to new adventures in art and travel and living beyond my zone of comfort.  In all things.  Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!  And all that jazz.

I went camping in Big Bend National Park over Thanksgiving.  A solo 1,400 mile round trip road trip from Santa Fe in my trusty white subaru.  It was all good –from the colorful pink garden courtyards and pink patio of  Eve’s Garden Bed & Breakfast in Marathon (after a very uninspiring drive from Carlsbad, NM to Fort Stockton, TX) to the gathering of Javelinas around my tent on that first morning at Cottonwood campground.  Apparently they like to graze.  Docile animals. Thank you.  The park is long on vistas and fantastic hiking and Ocotillo.  A highlight was the natural hot springs beside the Rio Grande in the Hot Spring Historic District and that rowboat to Boquillas, Mexcio.  So glad I brought my passport.  I will long remember the color of green.  Lime.  And in the glory of the moment walked right past customs until reminded by a friendly voice “señora. . .”  Here are a few images to bring you closer to my experience, including the chairs in the church above:

2014-11-28 13.06.29 2014-11-28 12.51.582014-11-28 12.50.51

I am a visual artist.  I collect vintage linens and barbed wire and abstract domesticity in a variety of ways.  I am an explorer and adventurer of spirit and okay– an occasional poet.  I have journals under the bed from when I began writing them at 14 (years old) –a long time ago.  Trust me. All those words.  All those feelings pushing their way forward.  Not on the most direct route but on a path none-the-less.  Which brings me to present.  Time. Not in the way of Santa down the chimney put it in my Christmas stocking but maybe it’s the same.  Present time.  All wrapped up in ribbon.  I do love them.  Presents.  Such joy in the gift.  A gracious acceptance and childlike innocence in finding something at your grown up door or mailbox or a card from a friend of long ago.  Thank you.

And so it comes to this.  I am artist who works primarily as  Girl Friday/Personal Assistant.  Walk the dog, carry the books up three flights to storage, run an errand, pick up the mail, check the house, rack the leaves, document your estate, pick up a prescription and a bag of chocolates, etc.  Whatever it takes to earn the rent.  That’s me.  I don’t mind and I’m grateful. Truly.  But at some point I fall away.  The art undone.  The path disjointed.  Too much time passing.   I wake unsure of the day of the week or date or the obligation and remind myself it is Thursday, focus. Etc.  And so I create an artist retreat for this artist occasional poet person that is me and here I am putting it out for donation.  For support.  A request.

I am driving nearly 1400 miles (one-way) from Santa Fe to the Florida Panhandle to spend the month of January in a retreat to art.  Off-season exploration.  A new foray.  A structure of unobstructed creativity.  Goals with a bike on top of a car with 183,000 miles (go Subaru!!).  Bringing the title just in case.  Pack my new & basic Janome sewing machine.  I’m just learning.  My recycled linens and barbed wire, and photographs, and thread.  It is my intention to make 100 or 1000 6″x8″ linen pockets (stay tuned).  To stitch and stuff and blog about it here.  Dangling threads. Primitive.  Unexplored and sometimes the unknown is the only way.  Through. With scissors and bobbin and heart.  And sandy feet and eyes wide open from the emerald shores of winter.

 2014-11-04 13.32.26 20141215_161421 Artmatters

If you’ve stayed with me this far I have a final request.  An opportunity.  For all.  In the past month I have opened my studio for the holidays in the spirit of invitation and show and tell.  I am subletting my one room casita to help finance my retreat (it just fell through but I have faith) and I could still use a little gas money despite the drop in prices.  Thank you.  A little help for the time not working.  For the just in case.  For the return. For the inspiration and leap of faith.  For the belief that art matters.  And so I ask for your support and donation.   Think of it as an exchange.  A gift that goes both ways.

  • For any donation of $25 or more I will send you a hand-made artist card
  • For any donation of $100 or more I will send you an original 11″x14″ matted print ready for framing
  • For any donation of $200 or more (if you have deep pockets of generosity) I will send you one of my 12″x12″ painterly photographs

bisbeepeacesnow and crossIMG_8852

Paypal is preferred.  Please include your correct mailing address.  I have included a link below but can be found here to  If you prefer to mail a check you can send it to Brenda Roper 991 1/2 Don Manuel Street #B, Santa Fe, NM 87505.  Gifts will be sent as received.  If I am out of stock (due to travel) fulfillment will be made upon my return to Santa Fe in February.  If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me.  Thank you forever and in advance.

Happy Holidays and best for a joyful 2015!!


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From Cerrillos to South Capitol

Poet applause in my heart

I wake into a Sunday of NPR discussion of Evangelical adoptions and Irish music and texting about a new odd job —to add to the five I already have in that slow flexible climb to enough a month for living.   I wake from a dream that spews forth like the Pavlof volcano erupting in Alaska.  Percolating notions and stand-ins for something important all mixed together and exploding from my unconscious.  The most vivid: the boa constrictor emerging from the side of the yard that is really a bedroom who turns into an alligator at the curb and flies across the street to climb a concrete porch where it is now a psychedelic lion with pink and purple flowers all beautiful and strong on the stoop.  Whoa.  From fear to glory.  And I fly too.  On my back, levitating in a long hall while two men look on.  As if I have to prove myself.  To rise up from “the help” wiping the salad dressing off the floor.  Okay.  Enough.  But I find dreaming fascinating.  And at the end of it all 34A appears.  A long ago number on a hospital bracelet that belonged to my mother.  Her room.  I made art out of it 10 years ago.  What are these messages?  These stories unfolding?


On Thursday I take my car in for brakes and walk from Cerrillos to South Capitol.  It is morning and I walk in the shadow of the buildings on the East side of the street as if I am in a foreign country.  Alive and elated and joyful.  Where does that come from:  a walk outside the perimeter of our own lives?  A change of direction?  Graffiti and signage and the dishevelment of an old street.  Gritty.  I like gritty.  I take out my new smartphone to snap photos as I go.  It so thin and heavy and I fear I may drop it.  I feel a bit conspicuous but that doesn’t matter.  Really.  At Baca Street I push the button to cross and take myself to Counter Culture where I’ve not been and eat the best lemon poppyseed cake ever with an equally delicious latte at a table by the wall beneath the art of photographs for pets.  The phone rings.

I rise to the occasion of the question and outside find a path I did not know that carries me all the way to the Railyard Park in a matter of minutes.  Past the community garden.  The Rail Runner runs and I pause to take its picture.  On my way to work but I have a moment to spare.  And now I vow to do that weekly.  A walk from this neighborhood to that neighborhood on a path that will carry to coffee.  To rambling thoughts of possibility and a person I use to be — on other paths.  In other places.

In this slow coming spring the days pass without focus.  A blur of interview and company and shuttle here and there.   The Etsy site undone.  The blog unwritten.  No poetry for Wednesday.  But there has been art.  In Microscale in Madrid at Metallo Gallery and An Affair with the Muse at Kristin Johnson Fine Art in Santa Fe where my work shares the walls with other artists, known and emerging and the joy of friendship and good times and wine and food and walking beneath the stars of the New Mexico sky.  A glimpse at  “behind-the-scenes” of movie making on porches and side streets and vans with kitchens on Armijo.  Those yellow signs with letters sideways and upside down that instruct those in the know on where to go.


And the trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida that blew open my closed perceptions has come and gone and my photos not posted or sent to friends, but still I keep the weather of St. Pete on my homepage.  Just in case.  I check rentals on craigslist and subscribe to a newsletter and the Warehouse Arts District but will the humidity be too big an obstacle? And my mom has gone into the hospital and is out again as I plan a trip back for the family reunion.  For my birthday.  To get together with sisters and brothers and cousins and those aunts and uncles that remains.  A hug to my dad and hopefully more than 30 minutes.  So hard to fit it all in.  A moment here and dashing off for a moment there.  Maybe a swim in a lake, a walk on the beach of Lake Michigan, wine tasting and a walk in the country but how to get from Detroit to Durand?  No public transportation that allows independence except a car I won’t really need and one might as well pay the difference to fly into the local airport.  For convenience but it is steep.  Pause.

Everything is changing.


Today a poetry reading in Eldorado.  200 NM poems.  I will sit in the audience to applaud the poets.  Important to applaud the poets.

Go well into the tomato starts, the basil outside the door, the pots of pansies that make you smile.  Through whatever gate you walk into whatever street you travel onto that path that carries us forward.  To life without fear.  To love.  To ourselves in all our imperfect beauty and authenticity.

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who lives too far from the ocean but loves her new digs in South Capitol.  Her work can be seen at Kristin Johnson Fine Art or hereIn Microscale is up through the end of May at Metallo Gallery in Madrid.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.



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Art on the Fence

I have a new address and a massage scheduled for Valentine’s Day.  No gelato.  A raven hangs from the ceiling.  Faux leather couch and Victorian chic mingle beneath the skylight.  Art on the walls, under the bed, inside the closet and on the coyote fence “Family Tree”.  Outside and unprotected and I enjoy the view over my computer and out the window.  Today snow on the edge of the canvas.  It will weather.  I will weather too.  Too weather will I on the edge of the snow covered canvas.

Yesterday I went to the laundromat.  Hmmm.  Finished “Gone Girl” and watched the clothes go ‘round.  A crossing to another time.  In life.  Like prison or welfare but really only a place off the side of the road.  Not an A ticket but not lock down.  Quarters and baskets on wheels and people in sweat pants.  A family.  Not sure I’ll return but my clothes are clean.

At my new address the freezer is broken so I buy cake.  Chocolate divine.  Earl Grey tea with cream.  A gas stove cooks the coffee thick and black as I listen for the sound of perfection.  Stove top espresso.  Still working it out.  I get nervous when I have too much food in the refrigerator.  Called the GE repair man. Organized the studio and ready to mess it up with painting over paintings.  Gesso and begin again.  Me too.  Too again begin. Tabula rasa.

Bought a ticket to a beach today.  Florida.  Girlfriends.  April.  Not Key West but key enough sand and art museum Ringling and Dali and Contemporary Fine.  Not sure I can afford to go but I go anyway.  Cannot afford not to. Go. Better motto.   Odd jobs find me and thank you.  Dog sit cat sit see Spot run.  House tending people tending no groceries.  The Pope resigned.

The Year of the Snake.  Cancer Dog.

Travel is good.  Friendship and barefoot sunsets with wine.  Perspective and spring all at once.  I walked a new direction from my new address.  Today. South and west instead of north and east.  The fine art of geography and a view of the mountains. Stone wall.  Cold wind.  Sunshine.  Winter refreshing sit in the yard for a minute.  No more. New door.  My mailman is Pearl.  Netflix arrives.  A sad story.  A disturbing book.  Bestseller.  Hmmm.


What do you want to read in your Hallmark greeting on Valentine’s Day?


Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet who works at a variety of  day jobs.   Her work is currently on display at the new Kristin Johnson Gallery in Santa Fe and has  been accepted into the Miniatures Show at Metallo Gallery in Madrid.  Opening reception May 4th.  Studio visits welcome and by appointment.

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High Road Haiku-ing and Happy New Year!

The weekend between the ending of one year and the beginning of another.  By calendar.  The light softly returns. Three clementines shrivel in their bowl and my brother hooks up to a sodium IV.  I buy a $10 ristra from a truck in Chimayo and later coconut/carrot cake interlude with coffee and friends on the High Road to Taos.

Today laundry and quietude and a Sunday drive to Madrid where all roads end at the Mine Shaft after a wee bit of shopping.  A friend visiting from New York via Alaska and Afghanistan finds boots for buying that are very custom cool –while I choose the Silver Margarita.  Cheers.  and thank you and sometimes life is all about food.  Tamales wrapped in corn husks with deep red chile and kobe beef burgers with green chile on top.

Salty hand-cut fries and conversation before the music. Oh! Christmas Eve habanero hot fudge with real vanilla ice cream.  Holiday soup drop in before or after the Farolito Canyon Road walkabout and champagne/eggnog cheer meeting the family of friends.  A cocoa log for sharing from a red plate, chicken mole and more red than white.  Wine.  Saturday Santa mission through the Jemez and a first trip to Mu Du noodles — certainly not a last. Fantastic flavors in generous white bowl warm sake in ceramic cups.  Then another.  Coconut lime sorbet so fully satiated. Laughter and talk of travel and Land Rovers and everyone moving to Santa Fe. Longing and lasting and listing and poetry on the horizon.  There is merriment and change and the full moon risen and waning.   And here’s to haiku-ing on the High Road, haiku-ing on paper napkins and happy New Year haiku-ing all those roads we may travel down in 2013.  To that place where dreams are discovered.  Friends and food and fools are we.  With a little blues on the side.  Harmonica happiness to all.


Ode to Sugar Nymph

 Cake on the High Road

Truchas? Trampas? Penasco!

Too much white frosting

–Mike Burwell (and friends)


Corona Mine Shaft Blues

Mandolin haiku

Sunday shot of Tequila

sings me yesterday

–Brenda Roper (and friends)

Brenda is currently one of six writers and artists living in the oldest artist colony on Canyon Road.  Studio visits welcome by appointment.  Happy New Year!!

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Interlude: DuSable Bridge

In between a gray Chicago skyline on the brink of rain and a 7:30 dinner reservation to celebrate a 50th birthday at the Purple Pig (where they don’t actually take reservations) a man jumped off the DuSable Bridge.  We are standing in line at Wendella Boats when I hear a loud splash. And then another.   When I turn toward the sound I see a pack floating on the surface and a body floating like a dream.  On his back.  The wind knocked out.  It is surreal.  My cousin watched him fall.  Antonio Peterson, 26,  from the 2400 block of West Flournoy Street.  Southside.   His pack goes in first.  And then he follows.  The on-line blip reports investigating as a suicide.

Surreal –as two water taxis motor in, a buoy is thrown and then another.  A ladder to the side.  He rolls over, begins to swim, a man jumps in, police arrive, he sinks down.  Down.  Mesmerized by the unfolding, not of CSI or cable Primetime, yet unable to process exactly the scene before us.  At river level –we watch. Bubbles.  Surmise.  Was he fleeing?  Was he thrown?  What is in the pack that no one is fetching from the water?  Still floating.  Drugs?  Identification?  Something else?  And then we are asked to move back to the wall.  Refunds are offered.  Paramedics have him on a gurney now.  Oxygen.  CPR.  Pull him up the wide concrete stair that curves to Michigan Avenue.  Advanced life support.


Slowly we carry our hearts and confusion up that same stair.  In shock I suppose though I feel more upset at the change in plans.  What now?  So distant in my feelings.  Odd.  People jump off bridges.  Later I read he died.  The paper notes the good Samaritan removed his shoes before jumping in the river.  I wonder at that detail –as notable.  He from Spain.  Did he think us too slow to respond? Americans.  Due process.  Hmmm.  In reality it is all very fast.  The jump, the reactions, the buoy, the paramedics police patrol oxygen and death.  Response and recovery.  Wine in our glasses as we adjust, adapt, absorb, forgive ourselves unkind confusion fugue.  To bear witness is to grow.  I suppose.  As survivors.  To think.  File in the memory bank.  Surface as needed.


Life a series of moments.

Snapshots.  Tweets.

Always a choice.

Joy and its opposite.

Pain and where it leads us.

Some back and some too far to return.

RIP Antonio from whatever you ran.





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The night before and the water poet

I set two alarms for my 4:30am wake-up call.  On my way to Michigan and thinking of Mexico. On my way to Michigan to celebrate my sister Kelly’s 50th birthday.  Here she is finally showing off her great legs.  Sometimes it takes that long to recognize our assets.  On my way to Michigan to see. . .we are family. . .I’ve got all my sisters and me. . .

Happy Birthday!!

and contemplating the election, forced to admit my not voting will not make the paradigm shift necessary for change — so I will cast my ballot as I have cast my ballot since I was old enough to do so. . .I tell a friend at least our vote counts in New Mexico where it fell fallow all those years in Alaska.  Be the change and books not bullets and shit. . .

and contemplating the change in the weather as I pack an umbrella and too many sweaters and realize all my shorts have holes in the pocket.  oh well.  but it is Mexico on my mind so I send off requests for rentals as if I can make it happen.  Necesito estudiar espanol cada dia. Repetir.   How to climb out of the box and into the possible.  Dream. Action.  Take 2.

and contemplating “otherness” –and wildness and writing poems that reach beyond wisteria and looking out a window and laundry.  How to articulate still life and inbetween and before and ever after.  How to become Gary Snyder’s water poet who stayed down six years fearless of seaweed criss-crossing the mud or perhaps a mind poet who stays in the house with no walls who sees everywhere and all at once.

Go well. Travel well.  Dream of the possible (to make it so).




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The (art of) packing and rain in Santa Fe

I’m a girl who loves to travel but packing is worrisome.  I’ve not sold out to wheeled luggage (please shoot me) so still throwing the North Face duffle onto my broad shoulders, but it seems smaller than it was.  Hiking boots take up a lot of space for one hike in Two Medicine but there might be snow.  And packing for traveling north (50 miles south of Canada) over traveling south (to beaches south of the border) the clothes bulkier, and he doesn’t drink coffee.  So I pack the Bialetti.  A small melitta. Too.  I guess coffee is important.  Ethiopian Harrar.  He’ll buy the ½ and ½.  Thank you. I tell him I might just borrow a shirt and wear a pair of panties with hiking boots and call it good.  Wouldn’t that be simple?

I’m giddy and already drinking wine.  Music.  And the rain. Falls gently.  Intermittent.  In Santa Fe.  A blessing and how quickly the temperature drops and I love the change but I (also) love knowing it is temporary.  Not like Alaska.  Or Montana.  Where it can rain for days.  A week or more.  The entire summer. Gray skies and hypothermia. Here just a moment to appreciate the fresh scents. The sun disappeared.  The moon not visible.  Not dark but dark.  Cloudy and gray.  No energy.  Rain sucked up by the dry desert dirt.  Flowers smile.  Birds chirp.

I find a stamped envelope fat with earrings I meant to mail a week ago.  Oh my. In the corner of my purse.  What purse to pack?  The wallet too fat.  And not with dollars.


Pandora.  I listen to all the women:  Nanci Griffith, Patti Griffin, Allison Krauss, Kacy Crowley, Kasey Chambers, Suzanne Vega, Gillian Welch, Emmy Lou and the men too:  Tom Russell, Nick Drake, Jackson Browne, Leonard, Neil, etc.  Pandora puts them up and out.  So I’m drinking wine, eating pasta. Cheers.  Pear tart and gelato.  Maybe.  Gift the leftover Market greens to my neighbors.  Catching a plane to Montana.  Tomorrow.  To the possibility of love and friendship and getting-to-know. Rain on Canyon and I love the fresh scent.  The sounds of water as tires pass on their way home.  End of the day.  Low pressure.  June and the temperature drops 20 degrees.  Just like that. Wool sweater with white shorts.  Raincoat over my shoulders.  Bare legs in sandals and thoughts turn to soup and slippers. To tea. Orange sunset gray sky. West is quiet.

Packed now.  Ready (with options to revise) and it is always worrisome.  Packing.  I don’t have many clothes but I want to bring everything (just in case) and narrow it down to 3 or 4 pair of shoes (laughing).  Still excessive but no make-up and that counts for something.  Doesn’t it?  Hiking boots take up a lot of space and forget the blow dryer.  My hair is short these days. . . and the coffee pot, fleece, down vest, a favorite sweater,  my 17″ laptop.  Can I carry an empty water bottle through security ? –funny.  The library book? the SUN.  My camera.

Friends tell me they’ve never seen me this happy.  In 13 years or forever and how it’s long overdue.  I know –I whisper in the phone.  I smile over the glass.  It’s true.  A hug.  A well wish from those that care.  That knows.  Me. And I will soon be on that plane.  To a place I’ve been before but changed.  To time passing and beginning.  To cracking open.  To friendship old and new and shifting.  To joy.

The studio wishes me well too as it sits patiently in the dark.  The ironing board and yoga mat and round oak table.  The little red dress and the tin squares become what they will.  Eventually.  Such is creativity.  It isn’t like a clock.  That chimes.   Every 15 minutes.  Mariachi wedding.  High mass or low.  I don’t know these things but the bells go off.  Beautiful really.  Not tonight.  Birds sing again after the rain.  Are there worms?  Rooftop dining looking west toward the Jemez.  Duck pizza with Rose.  Yesterday.  After Las Golondrinas where Julia the Churro sheep was sheared the old fashioned way and all in one piece like a rug.  I worried his hand would nip the skin. Those ancient scissors.   I wanted him to talk to her more.  Whisper it is okay.  Treat her like his queen.  And in the 80+ degree heat of mid-afternoon blazing on my bare Sunday shoulders she seemed to understand.  Her ungulate hoofs tied with rope.  Softly.  She surrendered.  Hand dipped candles in ancient wax.  May our light shine.  Shine on.

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