Tag Archives: travel

Leaves of Grass: Water, Field, Canyon, Cattail


One hour to madness and joy! O furious! O confine me not!
(What is this that frees me so in storms?
What do my shouts amid lightnings and raging winds mean?)


O the puzzle, the thrice-tied knot, the deep and dark pool, all
untied and illumin’d!
O to speed where there is space enough and air enough at last!
To be absolv’d from previous ties and conventions, I from mine and
you from yours!

To find a new unthought-of nonchalance with the best of Nature!
To have the gag remov’d from one’s mouth!
To have the feeling to-day or any day I am sufficient as I am.


O something unprov’d! something in a trance!
To escape utterly from others’ anchors and holds!
To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dangerous!
To court destruction with taunts, with invitations!
To ascend, to leap to the heavens of the love indicated to me!

To rise thither with my inebriate soul!
To be lost if it must be so!
To feed the remainder of life with one hour of fulness and freedom!
With one brief hour of madness and joy.

Walt Whitman (condensed version)


She stood in the arroyo and cried.

Sat on the long bench overlooking her childhood –so much memory in rural

in field

the early desert days 17 years ago + 15 before that and who she was then

in canyon

the map rolled open before her

the mountains

the men

the fork in the road


the hummingbird demands attention and why not . . .

such beauty in flutter

the hike the pond the bath

flow together weave and stitch and surrender

a dive into water  opens the heart

and when the head rests floating the body floating the sound of bullfrog croak

a duck a bird a wind through long grass and cattail


a life –and lichen

Cliff River Springs

Brenda is a visual artist and occasional poet currently living in Santa Fe, NM.  Her piece: Beauty Betty Bingo: Still Developing is part of an invitational group exhibition opening at the International Gallery of Contemporary Art (IGCA) in Anchorage, Alaska on September 4th.

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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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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 Birthday Adventure & Roadtrip


Summertime and the living is easy. . .aahh.  Perhaps the best since childhood or ever –maybe.  An even number birthday at that since I’m partial to odd numbers but quite brilliant and close to shameful at 54 so many wishes, cards, a journal, chocolate, and coffee card, a flirty dress, a new scarf (well two actually), a $2 bill and I love it.  Giddy and thank you all so much.  This from someone who generally avoids attention.  We all have our moments to shine I suppose.

Flutter like a butterfly blue dragonfly on the water hummingbird 

at the feeder outside the window along the Peaceful Way.


  • three cakes
  • two cartwheels
  • one cherry pie
  • two swims + two bikes = four sandhill cranes


  • one kayak
  • one hike
  • many deer


  • the call of a loon with baby in tow
  • one fly away turkey with poults 
  • lotus lilies pink and white afternoon


  • chasing the moon “Always”
  • Bellingham to Polebridge
  • walking the labyrinth

It started with a one-way ticket on Southwest Airlines to Seattle.  A woman next to me in the non-chaotic queue tells me “yes, SW is democratic” –my first time flying with them.  And I smiled.  When I laugh out loud the woman in the seat next to me asks what are you reading that makes you laugh out loud? –I show her the cover and say I’ll try to monitor my outbursts “Mennonite in a little black dress” by Rhoda Janzen.  Her writing is fresh and honest and –well, funny as she deals with her Mennonite roots and the choices that follow.  The gay.com husband after 15 years.  That leaving of place we never truly belong but never will forget as we plunge headlong away and deeper adrift:  into education, marriage, travel, career –to mother or not- all the while circling slowly to where we’re meant to become.   Full circle.  Our joyful aching hearts bursting with bigness of all we ran from in the first place.  Wiser.  Still growing. Boundaries intact. In flux.  Brilliant as sunflower.  Turning.  To the light.  Lovely.  All that death and resurrection.  Or something like that.  Roadtrips are good for perspective.  Birthdays too.  And cake helps.  Thank you all and everything lush and difficult and colorful fresh rain and lightning in the middle of the night mosquito coffee camping along Lake Roosevelt. . . for such a lasting celebration.

Go well into whatever awaits.  How ever old or forever young & wherever your birthday adventures take you.


Brenda is an artist in residence at El Zaguan in Santa Fe with fantastic neighbors including a dog named Rudy.

Her solo show “family secrets redux with dresses” opens Friday August 31st, 2012 at 545 Canyon Road

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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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