Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Folks

In the gathering of material for the book on Mom's art, I scanned some old photos of my folks. First, a couple pics of my mother at around age 21:

I cleaned these up a little and improved the contrast. Next, Mom and Dad about 30 years later:

Now, y'all know where I got my good looks!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fields, a poem


Women of Ireland it might
be, or Fields of Gold,
bringing the melodies
and memories of all

the fields I’ll never walk
and all the women who could
have waited in them, filling
and draining me at once.

The mists of the heart must cling
as that music, yesterday’s
elusive pipes that played
and faded into all

that never was yet still
might wait past the horizon,
wait in fields that held
tomorrow’s every promise.

Stephen Brooke ©2012

More a thought-in-progress than a finished poem (as usual). There are indeed songs that can awaken a yearning in one. Or in me, anyway.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Art Book

A Mockup of the cover for the upcoming art book:

I've decided to go with an 8.5 by 11 size for this one -- my original thought was 9 x7 but this may actually prove more cost effective, especially with full color printing, as well as easier to lay out.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

By Year's End

Today, I set up my tripod and photographed all my mother’s larger pieces of artwork that were available. The smaller pictures had already been scanned, so I’ll soon be able to start assembling the retrospective book I’ve been planning. Here’s hoping the photographs came out properly — I must wait some time while the film is developed.

I don’t know if I’ll get the book out before year’s end (or ‘Awful Alvin’ either — I haven’t really had time to finish the illustrations) but it will be published. Then on to other book projects.

And other non-book projects. I do intend to record one or two songs for the Will McLean festival this year. A little over a month to get that accomplished! I think my niece and sister may attempt to enter the competition this year too. But they’re even more pressed for time than me.

Incidentally, Mary is not performing at the Florida Folk Festival this year. She’ll be doing an event in Ohio on the Memorial Day weekend.

If I get a couple songs ready, I will post them online too. The rules this year call for only one voice and one instrument. No fancy production allowed. That sounds like it would be easier but the truth is that I’m better at creating stuff via virtual instruments and multi-tracking than by live recording. I guess we’ll see...or hear, actually.

Feast, a poem


It is what it is and I could
be thankful or I could curse
all the days until now and all
the days that stretch ahead
and it will be what it will be
as it was what it was. A feast
has its chewed bones and the dog
will be thankful for those.

But I indulge myself, this day, no
more than any other. It is not
my way to heap high my plate
nor to return for seconds. Let
the strangers at my table replace
themselves, year by year, each like
the one before, and who they are
is who they are. I toast them all.

See how the dark meat and the white
have been divided, platters of take-your-choice,
make-your-choice, cut carefully
from the carcass of time. There is
never enough time, they say, nor thyme
in this stuffing to become fully
seasoned. Feast on these, giving
thanks that it is what it is.

Stephen Brooke ©2012

The annual 'thanksgiving' poem. I don't have any strong feelings one way or the other about this holiday but it does seem to bring out a certain amount of introspection. Yes, even more than usual.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I was looking through a box of photos by my late Aunt Dorothea and came across this:

Me, at a family get-together, doing what I normally did -- bury my nose in a book. I would guess I'm maybe twelve-ish in this picture. Well, it was at at my grandparents' house and Grandaddy did have a great library. Some of which I now have here.

I was definitely not an outgoing kid. Not that I'm outgoing now.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Christmas Card

This year's Christmas card design, which I should have up at my Cafe Press shop shortly:

This is a bit of art by my mother, signed 'K. Page Brooke' (she didn't always use that signature). Since I've been working on photographing and scanning some of her work, I thought I'd turn this one into a greeting card.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


A couple more snap shots from this past summer -- Tickseed (native Coreopsis) growing along the south fence. I've transplanted a number of these perennials into my own flower beds since.

I've got the Minolta loaded up with slower film now and intend to document some of my mother's art work. Of course, Mom doesn't paint anymore but there is 'body of work' to be preserved. I might even put out a small retrospective book.

Monday, November 12, 2012


Conservative Health Care

In the aftermath of the elections, it would appear that the Obama health care program will go forward as planned, despite ‘conservative’ opposition.

But ‘Obamacare’ is, in many respects, a conservative concept. It is not socialism in any sense nor is it even liberal. It requires everyone to purchase health insurance from private companies so no one gets a free ride by showing up at the emergency room seeking care. Insurance companies will still make their profit. It’s no wonder that it was the system promoted by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts (Remember that MR said he wanted to repeal it on the national level — he never said he was against states implementing such a policy.).

What liberals wanted, by and large, was ‘single payer’ health insurance — essentially everyone on Medicare. We do sort of have that for the poorest individuals under the Obama system. I think it’s a better approach, over all, than the private insurers concept. An insurer is, after all, the same thing as a casino owner, taking in the players’ money and paying out when one of them wins.

But the house always wins in the long run. And we don’t even get to look at any showgirls to distract us while we play.

Then there is the socialist approach to medical care. That would be for the hospitals and clinics to belong to the government. In a truly socialist country, a sick person would simply walk in and be treated, and no payments would change hands. Although I am generally not in favor of socialism, per se, I don’t think that is such a bad idea. It’s the way hospitals were run for a very long time when they were operated by churches and such.

I don’t particularly like the idea of the government actually running hospitals, aside from the VA institutions and that sort of thing. Government funding and oversight of hospitals run by nonprofits or churches is another thing. It provides a better balance of responsibility and independence.

We are doing that in a roundabout way, as it is, via insurance payments. So why not cut out the middle man?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Terrorist, a poem


Love was terror, my heart
hiding itself in fear
while you hunted it

down the winding crazy
streets of an empty city.
I felt too strongly then.

I had no ready weapon
other than the suicide
of waking to the day

where you, true believer,
followed through the shadows.
I should have shot back.

Stephen Brooke ©2012


I happened to land on the ‘Vegas’ series while flipping through the channels last night. I didn’t watch the show (a rerun, apparently) but noticed something that I wasn’t sure was period-specific: wire shelving in the casino kitchen.

So I looked it up and it seems the now-ubiquitous chromed wire units were invented right around that time. They could have had them. Cutting edge equipment might fit right into a fancy Las Vegas kitchen.

I don’t remember ever seeing wire shelving back then. The first time I can recall it on television was on the ‘Highlander’ series. I thought that industrial shelving in McLeod’s loft was very cool at the time. Little did I know that everyone would be using it in a few years!

There’s a good bit of it in my home. It doesn’t make the best bookcases — though usable — but is great in the kitchen (which didn’t have much in the way of built-in cabinets), for linens, for art supplies, etc.

I may even buy a few more units...I still think it’s kind of cool.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Finally got the film in my 35 mm camera developed (no one near by does that anymore so I had to mail it off) and will be putting up some pictures here. I must say, it's nice to work with decent photos again after fooling around with cheapo low-rez digital stuff. Maybe someday I'll feel like investing in a good digital camera but for now I'm sticking with film.

Here are some snaps of the big oak tree being removed this past summer.

The tree removal guys arrive:

Lopping off the branches:

Pack up my trunk:

Old Stumpy:


 There was room for the satellite dish, once the oak was down.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Vulture, a poem


I’ve read you are of the kindred of storks —
that’s what the scientists claim who counted
out your genes like beads on an abacus
and added them up to Cathartidae.

Once, we thought you cousin to the hawks
and falcons, their not-so-reputable
relative with bad table manners
and monotonous taste in tailoring.

Soar. I will still watch you circle
higher into the infinite blue
and from this distance you are more
of the angels than aught else.

Stephen Brooke ©2012

I read a while back -- was it last year? -- that genetics had shown that the vultures and condors were not, as had been commonly supposed, closely related to hawks and eagle. Rather, they come in for a landing on the stork family tree. The idea for this came for me while I was out edging the flowerbeds this morning so I came in and jotted it down.

It could have been longer. It was longer but I decided it was better trimmed back to this much and no more. Ha, maybe it would be even better if I trimmed it back to nothing...

Seriously though, recognizing what not to write is as important as writing itself.

Bad Dreams

I did not watch the election returns last night. Whoever won would still have won in the morning so I didn't see much point. Besides, 'Escape From New York' was on the THIS channel.

But during the night I had a dream (nightmare?) that, when I turned on my computer this morning, the headline at the the Huffington Post (the first news site I check over morning coffee) blared: Obama Blows It!  Fortunately, it was not a prophetic dream.

I always assumed Obama would win reelection. All the odds were in his favor from the start. I'm something of a lukewarm supporter of his moderate 'New Democrat' ways (the idea that he is a socialist or even particularly  liberal is a joke) but, as I've previously said, he was quite the lesser of evils. And I do recognize that he represents the mainstream of politics, both in America and the world.

However, I was disappointed by the third (and fourth and fifth) party showings. I suppose with the electorate as polarized as it was this year that it was inevitable that the big two would get most of the vote. 2016 may be quite another matter, with no incumbent in the race.

Friday, November 02, 2012


So, election next week. I suppose anyone who reads my stuff knows I tend toward the Green Party and, therefore, Jill Stein is my choice for president. Even though she does not come off so much as Green as sort of a European-style Social Democrat, I still consider her the best choice.

Of course, Stein has no chance of winning. The reason to vote for her is to strengthen the position of the Green Party, to take a large enough percentage of the vote that the organization is eligible for more recognition, both official and public.

Now, if I lived in a state that was firmly in the camp of either Obama or Romney, I would not hesitate to vote for the Green candidate. Florida, however, is one of those that could go either way, so I am tempted to vote Obama as, by far, the lesser of two evils. Make no mistake, though, both major parties and their candidates are beholden to corporate interests.

* * *

As long as I am on politics, I would like to mention an issue that keeps popping up: the ‘mandate’ that seems to so bother (many of) the Catholic bishops. It is an issue that, naturally, so-called conservatives have latched onto as a talking point.

By the same logic of those who oppose paying for mandated health coverage because they do not approve of some of the covered procedures, a pacifist should be exempt from paying taxes to support the military. The courts long ago knocked down that argument. A pacifist may be exempt from military service but is still liable for the taxes that pay for war.

Similarly, the Catholic Church (and keep in mind that I am Seriously Catholic) does not have to provide contraception but it has to pay what amounts to a tax (according to the Supreme Court) to provide health coverage for some of its indirect employees. That is hardly a restriction of religious liberty — particularly in that those employees are not required to choose such coverage themselves.

And what if an employee chose to use his or her wages to buy contraceptives? Would the Church not have to pay them anymore? I think of employer-provided insurance as essentially part of ones wages.

It’s just not a valid argument. The Church should be focusing on real issues, such as social justice. That was our mandate from the start.