The Whole Moon Shines In a Sky Still Open

A timely poem on womanhood as an inherent and inevitable act of revolution.

“The Trees” by Adrienne Rich

The trees inside are moving out into the forest,
the forest that was empty all these days
where no bird could sit
no insect hide
no sun bury its feet in shadow
the forest that was empty all these nights
will be full of trees by morning.

All night the roots work
to disengage themselves from the cracks
in the veranda floor.
The leaves strain toward the glass
small twigs stiff with exertion
long-cramped boughs shuffling under the roof
like newly discharged patients
half-dazed, moving
to the clinic doors.

I sit inside, doors open to the veranda
writing long letters
in which I scarcely mention the departure
of the forest from the house.
The night is fresh, the whole moon shines
in a sky still open
the smell of leaves and lichen
still reaches like a voice into the rooms.
My head is full of whispers
which tomorrow will be silent.

Listen. The glass is breaking.
The trees are stumbling forward
into the night. Winds rush to meet them.
The moon is broken like a mirror,
its pieces flash now in the crown
of the tallest oak.

(Photo by Hailey Savage)

A Still More Glorious Dawn Awaits

This post was originally scheduled to go up yesterday, but I pulled it to write a few more thoughts. Then last night, Jonathan told me physicist Stephen Hawking — at the age of 76 — passed away.

While this post wasn’t originally (and technically still isn’t) about him, it feels fitting to take a brief moment and mention how thankful I am as I sit remembering Stephen and everything he did in service of science and the study of our universe. He once said:

My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.

More than anyone who came before you, Mr. Hawking, you succeeded — and the world is better because of it. Rest in Peace.

Milky Way Galaxy by Rob Mikulec Flickr 2017-06-25

As the cold and rain and drudgery of packing has kept us bundled up inside more and more, we are often looking for the occasional Netflix offering suitable for Fay to watch but not hold her attention too closely.

Turns out, a favorite show of ours was the perfect thing.

When it first aired in 2014, Jonathan and I devoured Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey with Neil deGrasse Tyson, the follow-up to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage from 1980.

I remember us waking up on Saturday mornings, prepping coffee and settling onto the couch with breakfast, and pulling up the show on Hulu. To me, the show was an escape, but simultaneously I walked away more educated about the complexities of science and more appreciative of our incredible planet, solar system, galaxy, and universe.

Have you seen the show? Simply put: I recommend it.

Watching the whole series again, it also struck me especially hard what a tumultuous journey it has been for the human race to overcome the frivolities of politics and religion and a mountain of other obstacles in pursuit of scientific truth… and how we are faced, even now, with such a long way still to go.

It would not be altogether difficult to also come away from Cosmos feeling overwhelmed and saddened by the state of our planet as it slowly succumbs to the damages of climate change. (Reversible, yes — but not for long.)

Preserving our planet is not about saving the Earth; it’s about saving ourselves. It — and the universe — will continue to exist with or without us, after all.

V838 Monocerotis revisited: Space phenomenon imitates art

I was thrilled to learn recently that Cosmos is finally getting a second season and it sounds like I wasn’t the only viewer dealing with the inner battle of ‘inspired’ vs. ‘hopeless’! About the new season, writer and scientist Ann Druyan says:

‘Cosmos’ has a view of the future which I believe has the power to inspire people. So much of what we see and so much of what our kids and grandchildren see is so dystopic and despairing. It’s like … our punishment for all our sins is just around the corner, and humanity doesn’t have a future except the one that’s choking and dying. And in ‘Cosmos’ we imagine the future that we can still have.

Our world and the vastness of space — a profoundly incomprehensible expanse of unknown wonders — have long since been a tenet of my own personal spirituality. In my mind, what could be more powerful than a recognition of our altogether small yet absolutely miraculous lives? Our existence here, in this place and time, is sheer luck.

My goodness, how lucky we are.

I’ll leave you to the rest of your day with one of my all-time favorite things — a song I found seven years ago and have played on what feels like a near-constant loop since.

(Photo credits: Owl Cluster (NGC 457) by Ben BrightMilky Way by Rob Mikulec; V838 Monocerotis Red Supergiant from Hubble Space Telescope. Video by melodysheep.)

Heartbroken — and Full of Anger

On Wednesday, at least 17 people — children and adults — were gunned down at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The perpetrator was one man who, it should come as no surprise to mention, was carrying a AR-15-style assault rifle and massive quantities of ammunition.

How can this still be happening?

I don’t know what else to say at this point. I’m heartbroken, but mostly — I’m really fucking mad.

There’s no debate to be had here. On one side there are people who prioritize human life — the lives of innocent children — and who are clamoring for smarter, common-sense gun laws, and on the other side there are those who do not and are not: Those who value the rights of a redneck with a gun fetish over the lives of American children, teachers, people going about their days in peace; those who believe it is more important to preserve the right for a person with a history of violent mental illness to buy an assault rifle without a hassle than it is for parents in the United States of fucking America to drop their kids off at school without having to pray that they will make it home without bullet holes.

I am full of sadness. I am full of piping hot rage. And rage, like dairy, courses through and exits my body as fire.

In the wake of this unconscionable crime — one which a mere ban on useless assault weapons could have prevented (and no, he would not have “found a way” no matter what — check your facts) — there are, of course, important things to remember and consider as we mourn:

Giving thanks to the heroes of Douglas High who saved lives. Taking a moment to consider the words of kids who lived through this terror, some of who’s parents had to experience the abject terror of a text that read “If I don’t make it I love you and I appreciated everything you did for me.”

How can this be happening — again?

I’m furious at every heartless talking head who deflects the immediate need for gun control legislation, particularly when the majority of Americans want it. I want to strangle every person with the power to do something now who says the words “thoughts and prayers” and then does nothing — or has the audacity to blame the victims.

Tom McAllister of The Rumpus speaks my language as he describes with the kind of frankness that comes when there is bile and fire in your throat what to do with his body if he dies in a mass shooting:

Every day, pile more bodies in the halls [of the Capitol] so they can’t go anywhere without stepping over the victims. Force them to look down at a dead body and lift their leg over it as if stepping over a puddle. Don’t join them in their prayers (the god they pray to doesn’t exist). When they step over my dead body, I want them to look down into my vacant eyes and reckon with the way it ended. I want them to be transported into my mind and feel what I felt after being shot. In those final moments—as I bled out onto the tile floor of the mall, or onto the grass outside a summer concert, or in the dirt of the center city beer garden, or in the middle of my fucking classroom—I would be thinking of all the ways my own country has abandoned its people (for profit, for spite, for no reason at all).

This rage, this helplessness, this heartache is exhausting and infuriating. With every life pointlessly lost, it’s impossible not to lose hope that something might finally — at some point — change. I fear Dan Hodges was right years ago, after another mindless string of killings, when he said: “In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.”

How can we be here?

My father and I hadn’t discussed the event until last night, but when we did, my rage was echoed. I’m not on Facebook anymore, so I hadn’t been privy to the discourse among my friends and family, which no doubt was a veritable mountain of sadness and anger in the face of more tragedy and impossibly stupid clichés like “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people” and other such garbage.

My dad did share with me something he wrote with similar blood and tears in his eyes, and I’d like to share it here, with you:

Will our children and grandchildren — will anyone’s children and grandchildren — continue to become statistics in a war upon our society by those using guns to settle a score, or release their hatred, or tap the black vein of racism in their hearts? Unfortunately I think they will. Because we continue to elect people at all levels of government who put their careers, campaign coffers, and comfort ahead of doing their jobs: protecting the people and nation they have sworn to serve.

We know the numbers: 17 in Parkland, Florida; 58 in Las Vegas; 26 at Sandy Hook… In two years of random carnage in America, more men, women and children have been killed than in all the years of the Vietnam War combined (58,220). Just sit back and think of that. Where is The Wall for these victims of gun violence? Where is the slashing black marble slab with the names of the honored and mourned, those innocents now dead? Unfortunately, ‘The Wall’ is carried in too many hearts and memories all across our country. It is an unwelcome visitor that divides what was from what could have been. 17 people (so far) whose parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and brothers and sisters and friends will never see them sit again at their table to eat, never see them grab that diploma and throw their cap in the air, never see them marry or have children or live out their dreams. What kind of country is this? What kind of country are we going to be? Is everyone in the nation going to have to suffer a tragedy in his or her family before something is done? Anything is done?

I don’t know about you but I’m tired of hearing excuses and having our President or Congressional Representatives brush aside even having a civil conversation about what we might do together to save even ONE CHILD! I understand we have elected the spineless and the fearful to office, but is that what we have become as well?

Have you lost someone you love to a normal, peaceful, non-violent death? How did you feel? What was that grief like? Now multiply it 17, 58, 26 times and imagine what the survivors of these mass shootings must feel like. Don’t talk about “thoughts and prayers” when the result is inaction and complacency. The excuses, at this point, make me sick.

Tell those close to you that you love them. Hug your babies and your friends and your parents and your siblings and your pillow, but also:

Call your senators, your representatives, your “not all gun owners” uncle and tell them you are full of sadness and rage too. Tell them it is no longer acceptable that more lives are lost as a result of greed, or because their hobby, somehow, is prioritized over a legitimate threat to actual lives.

And with that, I’ll leave you with this tweet by the wonderful Bess Kalb — which sums up my perspective on assault weapons:

Stay safe, friends. I love you.

Psst… If you’re able, consider donating to as another tangible way to fight against the gun lobby and culture of gun violence in this country.

(Top photo via The Independent)

They Capture Magic

After nearly a decade of collecting art — from prints to photography to original work — I’ve found myself left with hodge-podge of styles and subjects, made more complicated by the fact Jonathan and I don’t have the exact same affinity for artwork.

Reflected in the bunch seems to be the very uncertainty, immaturity, and inconsistency that dogged us both through the whole of our twenties: a time of impulse buys, constant moves, and less purposeful living…

Sure, some of the work we still love, but other things feel inappropriate as we settle comfortably into our thirties. In truth, I simply can’t imagine packing most of it up for one more move, only to have it lean against the wall in the hallway for a year before we figure out where on earth to put it.

Gia Coppola Untitled IX Joshua Tree Tappan Collective Photography

As a result, I find myself fantasizing about getting rid of every piece of art we own; the thought of fresh, blank walls and the ability to start over makes me giddy and excited. It makes me feel light.

Having nothing would give me an excuse to invest in work I’m truly coveting these days, like these atmospheric photographs by LA-based filmmaker Gia Coppola. (Yep — that Coppola!)

Gia Coppola Untitled VIII Joshua Tree Tappan Collective Photography

Isn’t there something magical about them? They’re graphic and striking, without being fussy or over-saturated. I also love the way she highlights fashion; it feels melancholy and dreamy, giving it the same sort of gritty, vintage quality that makes Sofia Coppola‘s films feel unique and other-worldly.

The aesthetics feel familiar, but also distinctly original. I’m loving photography like this right now.

Gia Coppola Untitled IV Tappan Collective Photography

According to Gia’s profile on artist collective site, Tappan, fashion designer Zac Posen had this to say about her:

She’s going to be the next Coppola force to be reckoned with. They just genetically, aesthetically, have something — they’re able to capture magic.

I completely agree!

Gia Coppola Untitled V Tappan Collective Photography

My favorite of the bunch is probably this photo. I can’t quite put my finger on why it feels special, but it does. It has a vintage “cool girl” vibe I can’t help but like. I can just see it as a statement piece over a dresser, or even in a bathroom where you’re forced to sort of linger with it.

I look forward to finally moving and settling into a home long enough where I can invest in pieces and visual moments like this. I’m eager to give our space intention and the care it deserves; which is hard to do this when you move every year.

So what do you think? Does Gia’s work speak to you? Or hey — what artists or photographers are you enamored with right now? I’d love to know!

(Photos property of Gia Coppola)

A Pang of Nostalgia for Times Never Lived

Recently I ran across a collection of beautiful photographs which show a young Tasha Tudor with her family and children, taken by Nell Dorr in the 1940s for the latter’s book Mother and Child (which is sadly no longer in print). We just purchased Pumpkin Moonshine for Fay to honor autumn and Halloween, so I’m reveling in the sweet coincidence of discovering these pictures of the illustrator so soon after being introduced to her work.

I saved a few of my favorites to share with you, if you’d like to take a look…

Tasha Tudor 1940 child nursing
Tasha Tudor 1940 child standing on chair

I love old photographs. The great ones often have a funny way of making you feel nostalgic for a time and place you never experienced, don’t they?

I am such a dreamer and love history, so I’ve always felt there should be a word for this feeling. In writing this post, I did a quick Google search for this exact description, and I found that apparently I’m not the only one who has felt this!

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows creator, John Koenig, invented the word anemoia, writing:

“Looking at old photos, it’s hard not to feel a kind of wanderlust—a pang of nostalgia for times you’ve never experienced. The desire to wade into the blurred-edge sepia haze that hangs in the air between people who leer stoically into this dusty and dangerous future, whose battered shoes are anchors locked fast in the fantasy that none of it risks turning out any other way but the way it happened.”

Beautiful and spot on, no?

Tasha Tudor 1940 nursing baby
Tasha Tudor 1940 dressing in her bedroom

It’s simultaneously odd and fascinating to experience a specific feeling so intensely and then discover others who share it.

In addition to anemoia, looking through these photos also fills me with a strange melancholy, comfort, desire to buy a farmhouse, and an insatiable need to give my baby girl a long, lingering hug.

(Images are property of Nell Dorr, found on the blog Vintage where you can read more about Tasha Tudor and see additional photographs from the Mother and Child publication here.)

A Wedding Day Soundtrack

It’s been almost two years since Jonathan and I got married, and I’ve recently revisited our wedding day playlist and the nostalgia has been intense.

In the year leading up to our wedding, I spent countless hours discovering songs I’d previously never heard, re-listening to songs I’d always adored, enlisted the help of my music-loving friends, and then vetted my choices endlessly for months on end.

Jonathan was ready to pull his hair out and I couldn’t blame him.

I have no earthly idea why I gave it so much thought, but I felt it was important to get the music—and timing—of the event totally right. Regardless of whether I would make different choices now, listening to it even two years later takes me right back to that year I planned this amazing day.

With innumerable songs to choose from, I relished recommendations from friends and bloggers to try and find the perfect ones. That said, I figured I would share what we chose (really, Jonathan did have a say, I promise!) as our soundtrack of the day. I’ve included a full list with links to the individual songs on YouTube, if you are so inclined to take a listen…


1. If It Kills Me (Casa Nova Sessions) — Jason Mraz
2. I’ve Got This Friend — The Civil Wars
3. I’d Rather Be With You — Joshua Radin
4. Speak Easy — Maria Taylor
5. Simple Life — The Weepies
6. Tatooine — Jeremy Messersmith
7. Holocene — Bon Iver
8. Bloom — The Paper Kites (seating of parents & groom’s processional)
9. We Bought a Zoo — Jónsi (bridal processional)
10. How the Day Sounds — Greg Laswell (recessional)


1. King and Lionheart — Of Monsters and Men
2. Peculiar People — Mutemath
3. I Choose You — Sara Bareilles
4. Lego House — Ed Sheeran
5. Shot Me in the Heart — Christina Perri
6. Movie Loves a Screen — April Smith and the Great Picture Show
7. Do You Love Me? — Guster
8. Uncharted — Sara Bareilles
9. Come Back Down — Greg Laswell feat. Sara Bareilles
10. Mountain Sound — Of Monsters and Men
11. Go Do — Jónsi
12. Drove Me Wild — Tegan and Sara
13. Colors — April Smith and the Great Picture Show
14. Armistice — Mutemath
15. Be My Forever — Christina Perri feat. Ed Sheeran
16. Dragging You Around — Greg Laswell feat. Sia
17. Lost! — Coldplay
18. Dirty Paws — Of Monsters and Men
19. Can’t Find the Time to Tell You — Hootie and the Blowfish


1. Go — Plumb (father/daughter dance)
2. Heavenly Day — Patti Griffin (mother/son dance)
3. The Winemaker’s Love Song — Tyler Lyle (our first dance)
4. Safe and Sound — Capital Cities (dance party begins)

The DJ interjected some classic jazz, per our request, to play quietly over dinner (between the Cocktail Hour and Dance Party), and he filled the evening with loads of dance favorites. (Shout out to my best friend Ken, who spent a solid portion of his twenties as a wedding DJ and was instrumental in getting people on the dance floor at our wedding, plus requesting songs that he knew were crowd pleasers.)

It all worked out really well and, yeah, even though all that hard work most certainly went completely unnoticed by our guests, it was worth it to know that we had hand-picked nearly every song to be a reflection of the year we got married.

Do you think music can make or break the vibe of a wedding, or do you find you hardly ever notice it? What were some of the songs that were really important for you to play at your wedding? Any regrets? I distinctly remember it being really difficult to find an appropriate, not-wildly-out-of-place Mother/Son Dance song… did you find that to be true for your wedding, too? I’d love to know!

(Picture of J and me during our first dance. Still one of my favorite pictures from that day. <3)

In Case of Fire

Have you heard of the blog The Burning House created by photographer Foster Huntington? Over a year ago, I stumbled across a post on Apartment Therapy that asked:

“If your house was burning down, what would you save?”

This led me to Foster’s blog which showcases photographs submitted by people of the belongings they would hope (and try) to save in the event their home caught on fire.

Upon initial reflection, it’s easy to name many things I would try and save: books, favorite items of clothing, out-of-print DVDs, my favorite armchair, some warm boots… Then after a bit more thought, I tried to be realistic and narrow it down to things that were more irreplaceable. Within a few days, I took and submitted my own photograph to the blog, showing some of my most treasured things — and my pups, of course. (Fry isn’t included because Jonathan and I agreed he was his responsibility if we woke up to flames engulfing us; this image is just my stuff.)

Stacy Johnstone Burning House items

I sent in the photo, and visited Foster’s site every so often to see if it appeared. It never did. A bit bummed, I actually forgot about it until recently when a similar question got posed somewhere and it sparked my curiosity. I revisited the blog and in doing so honed in on one of the earliest entries submitted by Sandra Belanger (who had experienced a house fire before) in which she writes: Word to all the folks with big piles of stuff: You have way less time than you think.

After a year, looking back at the photo I sent in, I realized I wasn’t entirely happy with what I had chosen. Putting aside the fact that I think it’s a poorly set up photograph, keeping Sandra’s words in mind, I felt inspired to take another picture — a better one! — in which I was truly more selective about what I picked.

While some of the items would still be there (my journals, important documents, and the painting Jonathan made for me our first month together), I knew everything else were just things — ones that, while mostly irreplaceable, didn’t necessarily enhance my sense of being.

On the fence about whether to submit another photo, I browsed the more recent submissions on the site. Then I came upon a post where Foster said he had published a book, released just last month, with pictures from his site.

Clicking on the link, I went to Amazon and started looking at the book. I flipped through the “Look Inside” pages then — there it was: my photo in the middle of the book on a two-page spread!

As you can imagine I was fairly stunned and purchased the book immediately.  After a bit of research, I learned that my photo was one of 50 that had been saved as “exclusives” for the book. How exciting is that? Needless to say I can’t take and submit a new photo now. ;)

Here’s the “in case of fire” list of belongings I would have saved at the time, as it appears in the book:

  • Passport
  • Original birth certificate
  • ID
  • Wallet
  • 5 hand-written journals
  • Brown bomber jacket from Paris
  • TOMS shoes (or whatever slip-ons were closest to the door)
  • Yellow and black heart painting from my boyfriend
  • “Kicking Puppies” – original Justin Hillgrove watercolor
  • “Blue Elephant” mosaic – handmade from scrap glass and a wine bottle by my best friend
  • Cellphone
  • Old Chimney Farm canvas bag to carry everything
  • Crocheted quilt that my mom made for my grandmother
  • My dogs, Peekay and Ennis

So tell me, I absolutely must know: What would you save?

(Top image: “Burning House” — an art installation by Clint Alexander and Emily Sloan Alexander in East Texas, July 2006; via Flickr)