September 2010
The Red Shoes

My mother is absolutely in love with the movie "The Red Shoes." She watches it almost every day. Never tires of Moira Shearer,  Lermontov, the hypnotic dancing, and grand language. It is starting to pull me into its spell too. This summer I came across this pair of shoes I had bought somewhere along the way, and put aside. I thought they were goofy, too red, the heels a little gauche.


Well, I started wearing them, not sure why, and they're super comfortable. Even walking in Paris....and I get more compliments on them....dare I say I don't want to take them off?


There's something funny going on. When I was a nanny, we watched the Wizard of Oz almost every day. My 4 and 6 year old charges and I were obsessed with the ruby slippers. "There's no place like home" was part of our vernacular, and even made it into my song "So Much Mine."


My mother doesn't remember my being a dancer from the age of six. And she's always surprised that I am a redhead. But I wonder sometimes if this strange current of the red shoes has guided me somehow through her imagination!


Lermontov: "Why do you want to dance?"

Vicky: "Why do you want to live?"


I am going to Paris again. I'll sing with Nolwenn Leroy at her big concert at L'Olympia on Monday night. Maybe I'll wear the red shoes. 

parenting our parents

Last night I was reading to her from the Bible. I kept saying Genesis, because we were reading the creation story....and she kept cracking up like crazy. Her laughter is deep and contagious.


me: "what's so funny?"

mom: "Sounds like you're saying "Jonatha"".... so we spent the better part of an hour coming up with names for new books in the Bible. lst Jonatha followed ll Corinthians, then the book of "Stone" (my mother's maiden and pen name) following Phillipians... "whatesoever is good"

mom: laughing and laughing....


I treasure these moments. Then, she reaches for my arm sometimes when she's confused or in pain. And I know, in this new territory, unconditional love. There is no greater feeling than our silent bond. That current of "I am here for you, no matter what."


I may have shared this poem before, but it's one of my favorite mom poems. When I was in Boston recently I drove by my grandmother's house. I would spend a day every week with her, cleaning, grocery shopping, having lunch or just sitting on her beloved screened in porch with the flag stone floor....she could tell me about every bird that came to her feeder. Her name was Amelia Behrhorst Stone.


Order in my mother's house


Alone at eighty-three my mother set her table

twice a week for company, walked out a daily mile

and kept in touch with friends and family by phone.

Each time I visited she took me on a tour around

the rooms naming the treasures and their origins

as if they were celebrities; Seth Thomas clock, brass

candlesticks, a walnut table, Queen Anne chairs,

the Hummel artifacts, fifteen Italian plates. I hardly

played them well, those scenes rehearsing ordered

history; I was polite but most impatient to be gone.


Now in these rooms without her voice, in silence I

sit wondering how this has come about so suddenly.

Lighting a candle I detect dust on our portraits, find

a cloth and wipe them clean along with bookends,

grandma's desk, a doll. Then all at once the continuity

that gave my mother joy seems irresistible; I yearn

to hear her say "Before you leave, there's one more

thing I want to show you dear."


The tears fall out of order in my mother's house.


Darren Stone

SQUAM Art Workshops, September 2010

Squam was divided this year in to two classes for me. An all day one on Thursday,

and then a class that focused more on lyrics for a half day on Saturday.



Well. The talent was abundant, the bravery, wit and joy abounding. Thank you all who ran around like goofballs with me, challenged your own "I suck" factors, and kept chipping away at the beauty.


In other news, once again I was reminded how important it is to take even a little time to un-cage, unfurl, dance like a fool, laugh until it hurts. OK i didn't sleep much, but boy did I "get my soul known again" as Woody Guthrie would have said. And I even got to build my own Ukulele with my friend Swirly. Ok I only did the more nuts and bolts part, (and the sound hole sparkles) I'm good with glue and screw drivers, but Swirly painted "Bettina" on there.


Me and Swirly, aka Christine Mason Miller




and Lauren, our fearless Uke building teachers then sat around and jammed with us for the better part of the afternoon.


 (candy cigarettes, promise!)


That night we performed our little version of "Hey, Jude" for the coffeehouse.


Here's the clean, daytime version:

Ukulele kit? about 20 buck from the Curiosity Shoppe. Getting your soul known again?



I can't believe it's finally here. Time to trek up to New Hampshire again, and restore, regroup,  revel, relax.


This is one of my most treasured times, the SQUAM arts workshops. Just sitting on the porch of one of these old cabins and staring at the lake for an afternoon - more restorative than any other balm. Squam takes me far away from my normal intense drill. I am at summer camp again, I am ten years old, nothing is too outrageous or impossible.


You may have seen these pictures before, but i wanted to share again the spirit that is SQUAM. Brave souls trying out new stuff. Simple as that.

Last year's songwriting alums



figuring it out!


the now world famous boom boom and catrina


Giddy up!! three muses.


See you there.

Adrienne Rich Month

I do love the fall, the current of change, but it's always brought with it a little unsettled feeling. That back to school fear. Vague agita...


These old photos bring it on too. My lineage, the songlines. My grandmother Amelia, her playhouse, Bradford Woods, PA. circa1916


My mother, at 17. There's so much we'll never know, even about our nearest and dearest. Can anyone really tell it all? So many perfect secrets never whispered. Where do they all go? Why don't we take more time, listen harder, ask.


Fall, so many changes. That's when poetry sustains me. It's the ultimate distillation. 100 proof of the things we carry, the secrets we keep.



it will not be simple, it will not be long

it will take little time, it will take all your thought

it will take all your heart, it will take all your breath

it will be short, it will not be simple


it will touch through your ribs, it will take all your heart

it will not be long, it will occupy your thought

as a city is occupied, as a bed is occupied

it will take all your flesh, it will not be simple


You are coming into us who cannot withstand you

you are coming into us who never wanted to withstand you

you are taking parts of us into places never planned

you are going far away with pieces of our lives


it will be short, it will take all your breath

it will not be simple, it will become your will


Adrienne Rich, 1991


There are some holdouts from Fashion week here in Paris. The line outside Balenciaga was fierce, the ladies who lunch and shop were in fine form on Avenue Montaigne. How do they walk all day in those shoes?


This guy was right up my alley


Comfort AND style! And I like this guy's hat and 'man bag.'


And this guy, hard to tell but those are hot fuschia socks he's got on with his suit. NICE


In more practical items, a new twist on the "hello kitty" phenomenon

I give you "Hello Toro" - now there's something I'd wait in line for!


I had more time (no huge downpour) to browse the sculptures in the Tuileries on another perfect day. Here's the front of that sculpture I was wondering about the other day. Of course it's the sons of CAIN.

Cursed, the restless wanderer and his sons. Jealousy really bites you in the ass. (esp. the murderous kind.)


Oh, just another day in the garden.


This one? Tears, - the good samaritan is always such an emotional image.


Oh, little bird.


And finally this, Komitas's haunting eyes, the dried flowers at the foot of the sculpture.


I am so lucky to see these things.


I think there is an angel on my shoulder


p.s. GO HOLLAND (Pays BAS!!!!!)


Something about driving around this town where I grew up. Of course I had to take a picture of the busy crossroads of Partridge Hill Lane and Aberdeen Road.

OMG my porn name would be Victoria Aberdeen!


I know the roads by instinct, the shortcuts to Gramma's house, how to get to school if you miss the school bus. Everything looks so much smaller now. Less frightening. Except my treehouse is gone, and there is this little knot in my stomach. I wonder if it is always so. The past brings up such mixed emotions.

The house where I grew up, in the gloaming...


When i was twelve, we moved in to Boston, Partly because my mom got tired of driving me to ballet class every day. (I was obsessed and driven, and she was no stage mother) But this was home. Greg Gibson, the boy next door and I were inseparable. We rode bikes until we HAD to come home for dinner. We knew all the secret ways to everyone's back doors. The cookie lady at the end of the street was really scary, but if you could get over it, she'd always give you oreos.


And then, today, at the Hertz rental counter, SNAP, back to grown-up land. I was the next one in line behind a woman and her husband who had overheard ME on the phone with the Hertz automated HELLHOLE geniuses, saying my name. They turned and said, "THE Jonatha Brooke? the singer/songwriter?"


me: "yeah, that's me."

them: "We are huge fans."


OMG. They made my day! So then, I eavesdropped as they were dealing with Mr. Hertz dude. Their reservation, I overheard, had been made by Simon and Schuster. I rudely asked them if they were in publishing. (duh, I live for good books)


"No," she said, "I'm a writer." (Oh my heart...) "what's your name, if you don't mind me asking" I said.

"Anita Diamant, I wrote 'The Red Tent'"

me: "No fucking way!"


They were going to a book reading, I can't remember where, because I was in total delirious heaven. I think I was ten shades of crimson, everything else fell away.




We promised each other we would each buy each other's latest. (pet peeve, people who only remember the first thing they ever heard of you!)


I just can't wait to find a book store. And buy the HARDCOVER!


Anita: "the paperback just came out."

me: "I'm a hardcover kind of girl."

Anita: "That's great! Better for me! I'll look for 'The Works'"


day complete