23 April 2016


Cacti, cholla skeleton, Senecio 'Spearhead,' and Crassula pellucida
 I hear that succulents are all the rage these days, and I think I get why now. Succulents can be tiny or huge; this gallery shows the incredible range of wild as well as cultivated species, and this guide identifies many used for household plantings. They're diverse, sometimes funky, and highly versatile. And they fit in diverse, sometimes funky containers, including a few I've had around for a while not knowing what to do with them. 

Below left is a little Navajo sandpainting pot my son gave me a few years ago, made by a local artist. It's pretty on its own, but with the Crassula pellucida and Senecio 'Spearhead' plantings it really stands out. Below right is a small clay folded pot I found at a central California coastal gift show 20 years ago; I've used it for dried flowers but the little Kalanchoe sprigs (taken from one of my big plants) fit in perfectly and bring it to life.
Kalanchoe, Sempervivum (I think), and Echeveria 'Haagai' in a discount store candle holder.


14 February 2016

Day of Hearts

Mosaic heart, Philadelphia, July 2010
Love from Maggie, 2012

Mosaic heart & me, Philadelphia, July 2010

Lover boys

Garden mural, Southwestern College, 2013

A winky Valentine from Maggie
Antique dish from Mom's family, mosaic by me from 2009 or so

12 February 2016

Second Home

Philadelphia skyline from Camden ferry
When I was 18, I returned from a year abroad not to my idyllic home in the woods but to near-Center City Philadelphia, in mid-July no less. It wasn't alien territory but it was a shock to be crammed into a 3-story vintage-1800s brick townhouse with almost no yard, ringed (swathed, surrounded) by concrete leading to more concrete. My parents had fled quiet suburbia for something a bit livelier, and I could not for the life of me understand why. I was likely a bit peevish about that (to say the least, and I came home a bit radicalized (Europe in the mid-1980s was going an opposite direction from Morning-in-America era US), and, I'll admit, a good 15-20 pounds heavier from all the Belgian chocolate and beer I'd enjoyed. Mom and I were having, shall we say, adjustment difficulties, and I think she'd gotten used to her new, unfeathered empty nest and lots of free time with my dad.

Local color, Queen Village section of Philadelphia
So I walked. A lot. Amidst the concrete were many trees and  lovely parks small and grand, and also lots of cool stores. This was way better than a mall or suburban plaza - it was funky and quirky and weird and new to me. I could walk to grand department stores and eat at food trucks (this was way before they were cool) or corner restaurants. I could keep walking with a nice view of the Delaware river, too, which made me want to walk more and, a good side benefit, fight less with Mom. A few months later I left for college, but finances drove me back home to Philly and I lived there another five years while working and finishing up college.And walking, always walking.
I love Philly now. If I lived there, I'd have to have a house with a big private back yard and lots of tall trees all around (and therefore also a fabulous job to fund such a luxury), and I know I'd never be bored. The kids might like it, too, though they didn't care much for the humidity. Ever wonder what life would be like if you'd taken a different path? We can't find out (in this lifetime, anyway), but it's nice to revisit an old home with new eyes and to introduce it to new people.

Chilling at 3 Bears Park, Society Hill area of Philadelphia

10 February 2016

The Green, Green Grass of Home

Childhood home, Arden, DE

Last May, I took myself and my kids back to my childhood home. It was a long time coming; I'd left 32 years (!!!) earlier and, aside from maybe two brief drive-bys in the 1980s and 1990s, I hadn't been back. I grew up at the edge of the woods, in a modest Craftsman-style home (long before they were fashionable) outside of Wilmington DE,  in the Philadelphia metro area. Northern Delaware is rolling green country, classic 1950s to 1970s suburbs, solid middle-class, still quite welcoming. The little town I grew up in, Arden, is its own green haven of "a different type of folk" as my grandfather used to put it - lots of hippies and free-thinkers in the 1960s when my parents moved there with my toddler brother and baby me. I can't imagine a better place to grow up: open green spaces, deep woods with a creek running through, small-town community life and lots of family events, a community swimming pool and arts program. 
A happy funky Arden abode

Connor and Maggie on the classic playground bobble-horse thingies

And, as you can see here, it has lots of natural beauty along with a splash of quirkiness here and there that has always made the town unique. The couple who bought my childhood home still live there and graciously walked me through it - the first time in 32 years (!!! again!!!) I set foot inside a place I thought I was leaving temporarily when I took my senior year abroad in Belgium - and it felt instantly familiar, thanks both the the "new" owners' care and preservation of the home's lovely, unique details. It was hard not to cry, honestly, especially when my kids exclaimed what I was thinking: "Mama, why on earth did you leave???" I could only reply that I didn't have much choice; I thought I'd be coming back home after a year in Belgium, but my parents moved to Philadelphia while I was gone.

The Arden Green, much the same as I remembered it, blessedly familiar
Even more poignant than walking the wooden floors and grass I'd walked as a child was rambling through the woods where I lived most of my daylight hours, summer and winter. The gentle creek with its hoppable boulders and tall trees and damp, cool quiet harbored me and my soul since my earliest years. Walking back into it I felt almost overcome with a longing and grief I've always known were there but have had to bury because I'd moved so far away. It is all still there. It still quiets my mind and calms me. My kids found it "pretty nice" but commented on the humidity and bugs, and asked when we were going back to my friend's house where we were staying. I accepted the moment of reconnection... and snuck back the next day on my own so I could really enjoy it, and weep without reserve.... and remember.

Naamans Creek, Arden, DE

21 February 2015

Las Puertas de Santa Fe

Confession: I love Santa Fe. I don't think I could live there (too many people, too busy, not to mention the whole money thing) but my honey and I have visited four times now and always find lots to enjoy. One of my favorite things about The City Different: it's very walkable, in the older parts of town at least, which is also where the architecture and decor happen to be distinctive and interesting. Last weekend we were lucky enough to have 60+ degree (F) weather, perfect walking weather, and as I was photographing I found myself inspired by the doors...

I noted a Shabby Chic trend in the Canyon Road area, where I'd assume residents could well afford a full coat of paint but, of course, a well-engineered weathering effect creates a softer look.

Many old cottonwood trees line the city streets, making for deep golden splendor in autumn but also, in winter, a similarly (and more authentic) weathered effect. I love the old, sometimes ragged bark and strong wandering branches that, in this case (below), property owners felt were worthy of accommodation. Santa Fe certainly has its luxuries and pretenses but spots like these make it visually appealing and, for someone who doesn't get much time lately for creative pursuits, quite inspirational.

07 January 2015


I just decided (like, 5 minutes ago) to start blogging again. I don't know what kept me away except extreme busyness, job stress, etc., but I've changed jobs and have settled in happily, and something is stirring to take and share photos again. Not that I haven't taken photos, but there hasn't been that intentionality that used to compel me to look closely and deeply at the world, and I miss that. So, Happy New Year - it's DANG cold here and last Friday's foot of snow hasn't melted yet, and what better antidote than happy sunflowers against that deep blue New Mexico sky? I'll post new photos soon; in the meantime, I'll be looking through the past 18 months' worth to see what might be worth sharing. I'm glad to be back.

07 July 2013


Altar at Santa Rosa de Lima sacred site, near Abiquiu, NM, May 2013

A weekend away from home always spurs exploration, and if I'm lucky that fuels creativity. In May I traveled to Abiquiu, NM, for a workshop at Healing Through Horses, which was indeed incredibly healing, not to mention informative about equine-assisted psychotherapy, which I hope to start doing in a few years. On the long ride home I passed this site, the ruins of a church built in 1744 soon after the Spanish began settling in the Chama River valley. People in the area attended Santa Rosa de Lima until the 1930s, and clearly visitors - local and from far away - continue to worship here in some fashion. The weathered adobe, the relics and offerings, and the vistas of the Chama River and beyond make for an enchanting experience.

13 June 2013

Being With {sad/possibly triggering content warning}

Dying; bearing witness. Mustangs near Alamo, NM, May 2013
A short lunchtime drive north of where I work took me past a heartbreaking, remarkable scene: a mustang, near starvation, standing very close to the road and, even as I approached, steadfastly remaining by his dying companion. When the horse in front, likely downed forever, sensed my approach and began to struggle, the other horse stepped forward. We can project what we want onto this; to me, it embodies the extreme beauty of the one thing that makes life bearable: being with and bearing witness to our companions, no matter what, even in the face of death.

20 May 2013

Traveling Mercies

In memoriam, Valles Caldera/Jemez Mountains, NM., May 2013
Dinner on Friday night: a new friend's treat (along with wonderful company). Equine therapy workshop and overnight in a beautiful place: a little over $100. An enlightening, enlivening, healing weekend capped off with a rambling drive through one of my favorite beautiful places in New Mexico: priceless. I used to live off in the future: do this and I will get there; hold back now and I will get my reward someday, when I have earned and "deserve" it.

Someday is now. I am so grateful to be here to enjoy it.

Descanso del Valle Grande, Hwy 4, Jemez Mtns, May 2013

28 April 2013


Apple blossoms in morning light, Santa Fe, NM, April 2013
This weekend was about training - the last in my four-part course on infant mental health - but it was also about escape, taking stock, realigning priorities and energy, and recommitting to my core. It was about looking inward, past all the turbulence created by people and their drama these past few months, and clearing the path to my inner light so that no matter what is happening around me, I can keep my feet on the ground and stay true to my path. I did this earlier this month during my retreat, so despite an intense whirlwind these past weeks, that path is still well-marked and easy to retrace.

I will not stray from it again. (I hope.) And I will remember that when the path does blur or darkness obscures it, I never walk alone. Eventually, the sun will rise again and light the way - I just have to keep paying attention, and keep the path clear.

23 April 2013


Play therapy, Carmel, Calfornia
"The cure for anything is salt water - tears, sweat, or the sea." (Isak Dinesen)

For a few days, when I retreated from my world, I was at peace. Centered, calm, connected with my innermost self, serene. That has slipped away as I have jumped back into "normal" life. Once again I find myself struggling with exhaustion, anxiety, self-doubt, and now a bad case of hives and heartache to boot. How do we bridge that chasm from retreat to reality? I guess the first step is even being able to see that chasm: to see that something is out of balance, that what I want and what I truly need aren't always compatible, and also that if I don't take time to play, I will lose myself - my beautiful, free inner self - altogether.

Life involves struggle. How much do we endure before we reclaim our right to play joyfully in the sea?

12 April 2013

Winding Road

Every day, a winding road (for a few days at least)
A lot can happen in 13 years, which is how long it took me to finally get back to the most beautiful place on earth (to me, anyway). Through all of it, I discovered how strong I am, and how to live the best life I can wherever I am, and how to wait for what I need and want, and how to hold onto hope and faith even through the worst of times. The best part of that learning, of course, is when the endurance and hard work bear fruit - my cup runneth over this year. Pausing last week to rest, take stock, and take a deep breath was a huge gift for me. Gazing upon this exquisite, inspiring view also helped me remember that no matter where the road leads, we can always find our way to beauty. And back.

11 April 2013

Tiny Blessings

Last week's mini-vacation was a huge blessing for so many reasons: beautiful surroundings, stillness, contemplative solitude, SLEEP, and repair of my 3-years-lost connection with my higher power. Every morning I sat on a little deck for breakfast and took time to notice every little joy around me. The tiny blossoms drifting down from a gnarled, aromatic tree growing right up through the deck. The hum of bees above me. The wind and sometimes a light mist on my skin. The birds calling and chattering, and sometimes pure silence, a hushed open space in which, a little more every day, I could actually hear the "still small voice within" that had been silent (or silenced?) for so long. So much beauty within and all around us, always there when we can take a moment to see and hear and feel it.

10 April 2013

Divine Inspiration

Lupines and grasses along the Central California coast
This picture perfectly sums up my retreat last week. How I've missed this, to me the most beautiful place on earth. I love New Mexico and am glad to call it home, but an ocean view is medicine for a tired, parched soul.

16 March 2013

Every day is a winding road

This commute is always inspiring. And most days the half hour each way is the only alone time I get all day. Great thinking time, my own soundtrack, no demands except to get myself home safely, and beautiful open skies. And with spring coming it just keeps getting better.

Alamo Road, heading southeast.

15 March 2013


I was finally able to prep some seed flats and get a first round of greens going. These babies are up after just 3 days, probably thanks to the heating mats I got this winter. Salad in a month or so, I hope.

08 March 2013

Nothing else matters

At the end of the day, we can choose to hold on to the drama, the petty ego injuries, the unfinished business, the resentments... Or we can let them all wash away as we immerse ourselves in each new moment. We always have this choice. Once in a while, I am wise enough to remember this.

02 February 2013

Focus on Life, Week 5: Capture Our Hearts

Festus, one of the many fine ARA steeds. San Acacia, NM, Feb. 2013
So the photo-a-day thing isn't happening; between my work schedule and essential family time I just can't squeeze out enough time for daily photo taking and processing. I'll try to make a weekly post at least, just to keep myself creating, and am happy to link up with other creative people at Studio Sublime... Yesterday gave me plenty of creative opportunities and inspiration: I took the kids and my dad for a ride with Acacia Riding Adventures (ARA), an outfit in San Acacia, NM, that specializes in horseback rides for all ages and experience levels. It was AWESOME. The kids and I were tired and edgy after a long week, me after 20 straight days of non-stop working and traveling with no downtime, but after a few hours of riding Ranger, Char, and Splendor through high-desert chaparral and Rio Grande woodlands we were revived, to say the least.

I felt almost born-again, in fact, and could feel my long-buried love for all things equine finally begin to come back to life. Why long-buried? When you have something and then can't have it anymore because life intervenes and makes it impractical or takes it out of reach, I think you sometimes have to wrap it in a thick shroud and bury it somewhere to dull the keening ache. (To put it dramatically, I guess.) As a child, I lived for horses. I mucked out stalls and cleaned tack and fed and watered horses at a local stable just to be near the horses and to earn riding time. When I was 15 or so, I got too busy, and money had to go elsewhere, and then... somehow 30 years went by during which I was able to ride maybe 3 or 4 times, and having a horse or even access to one was so far out of reach that I had to let go of the desire before it burned a hole in my heart.

Embers can hold heat for far longer than we might think, fading almost to black yet reviving brightly when finally reunited with air and fuel. We'll be riding again very soon, that much I can say for sure.

26 January 2013

26/365: To Market, To Market

Philbert the pig enjoys a backslapping good time with a new friend. Reading Terminal Market, Phila., PA
Yesterday I took time out to see family and spent much of the day with my beloved aunt Nancy and her husband, John. We ended up at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market, which I first visited in 1984, and I am so happy to see that it is just as vibrant as ever. I went there almost weekly for the six years I lived in Philly and as often as I could after leaving for graduate school, and I visit every chance I get to return to the city. This market makes Whole Foods look like, well, the shamelessly overpriced, self-righteousness-inspiring, fake-green enterprise that it is... sorry to offend anyone who shops or works there, but seeing the Amish families bringing their foods to Reading Terminal for a quarter the price of Whole Foods, and knowing exactly where this food comes from and who raised it, affirms my belief in truly local markets run by the people who actually raise the foods they offer us.

That said, I will miss this place when I fly back to New Mexico today... and I will renew my commitment to buy locally wherever I am, whenever I can.

I'm linking up this week with The Studio Sublime's Focus on Life series; please visit the other participants' pages for some really beautiful art in various media.

25 January 2013

25/365: According to What?

Bowls of Pearls by Ai Weiwei, Hirshhorn Museum/Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC
After training, a treat, a quick stop in Washington, DC, to see the sights (gently dusted with snow) and stop in two of the Smithsonian museums. This photo is from Ai Weiwei's exhibit at the Hirshhorn, "According to What?" If I get time later I'll put up more photos from the trip. I'll be so happy to get home, though I am also happy to have had some great experiences here.

24 January 2013

24/365: Repurposeful

Mural in paint and repurposed water bottles, Monarch Academy, Baltimore, MD
This week I've been learning about how to do education the way it should be done, if we really care about kids enough to understand how they learn and live best. All my training this month, in fact, has been about working most effectively with kids, which really means learning about how they experience the world and how we can help them make their way through the world. If this means setting aside the worksheets and charts and mastering paint and scissors and glue guns and glitter instead, I'm all in.

23 January 2013

23/365: Awaken

Out of bed, Baltimore, MD

Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection. (Lawrence Durrell)