Pecking away at some bigger idea.


I moved to a house that is far from things, tucked away down a road that starts as pavement and turns to dirt, surrounded by farmland and woodland and land, land, land. In the evening, my bedroom turns pink as the golden hour sun sinks down behind the wall of sugar maples, leaves gone tomato red from the autumn cold. At night, I can see stars from my skylights. I don’t know their names, but they are brighter than the red glow from my cellphone charger, more beautiful than the things I can watch on my screens.

And yet there are days when I feel disconnected, lost in the woods, far away from everything. Sometimes, this makes me feel a savage happiness, almost like defiance. But not always.

For the past few days, a woodpecker has been pumping away at the logs outside my bedroom. I sit at my computer and try to work, my fingers thrumming away on a keyboard, knocking down one word after another, and I hear it again. It beats a rhythm into the dark dead wood of my little Maine home.
I use my fingers to type questions into a search bar. Within seconds, I’ve learned that the bird is a downy woodpecker, most likely a juvenile male, and that he could be confused. The house, I read, just looks like a big, oddly shaped tree. He could be digging for carpenter bees or practicing his hunting skills. He could be looking for a place to borrow in and hide from the cold. He could be practicing his mating behavior, bumping and grinding away on my roof.

I see him fly away one morning, and I’m startled by how beautiful he is—black and white with intricate patterns on his sharp-edged wings. He is lovely and fierce (and exceptionally annoying).

Today it is quiet, save for the sound of wind blowing through dead leaves. I miss his rattle and his swagger. I miss being irritated by something so wild. For the sake of my house, I hope he stays away (we can’t have birds digging holes in our log cabin, nor can we pay for exterminators for those possible carpenter bees). But I also hope he comes back, at least to visit.henn-kim-fly-away

Images by Korean surrealist illustrator Henn Kim. Buy her prints here. See her website here. 


Sign me up.

Japan-retirement-home.jpgA Tokyo-based architecture firm designed this cluster of pods to serve as a retirement home for elderly Japanese women.

I feel about a thousand years old and I have been sleeping a lot lately, so I think I would fit right in with the old lady wood-pod lifestyle. Tonight, I’m going to shuck off my shoes and head off into the woods in search of a pointy pod of my own. The grass looks nice and soft and ahhhh yes, let’s all take off our tight jeans and sit on the floor and look up at the sky through the round holes in our domes and see the moon, just there, just now it fits there perfectly, like it was made for the chimney, all bright and full.


Via Dezeen

Aakash Nihalani’s neon New York.

RainboroughPortland has some great street art, but I would really like to see Aakash come to town and decorate some of our old, gray, grandiose buildings with his colorful shapes. Instead of using spray paint or wheatpaste (the two most common materials to use in graffiti art) he relies on neon-hued tape to create his bold geometric patterns. The piece above is named Rainborough, which is a delightful play on words if I ever heard one.

But, like many things, you’ll only see Aakash’s work in NYC. As he explains on his website, he wants viewers to experience New York in a new way, through new eyes brightened by vivid pinks, yellows, and reds. These glowing tones highlight the solid shapes of New York architecture, emphasizing both the past and the city’s brilliant future.

For more of his work, check out Or you could go to his Flickr stream. And if you’re feeling inspired, you can always order some washi tape and create a little Nihalani-style mural on your own wall (and that’s what I’m going to do, as soon as I have a hot minute to myself).

My Russian romance.

wooden church 1There are few places I want to visit more than Russia. Maybe I’ve just read Anna Karenina one too many times (no, that’s not possible), but if I were to suddenly fall into a Scrooge McDuck-style pile of money, I would spend it all on a ticket to Russia.

If I could go to Russia, I would want to see everything—not just the cities, though Saint Petersburg looks like magic made of stone—and I mean everything. I want to ride the Transsiberian railroad and stare out at all the miles of quiet, scarcely inhabited land. Oddly enough, my desire was only amplified by this recent story from the Smithsonian about a family that lived in the wilderness of Siberia for over 40 years without any human contact. Driven from society by religious persecution, the family of five survived off the land, hunting for meat and dining on bark when there was no better food to be found. It’s really, truly fascinating (not to mention strangely inspiring).

But I’m digressing from what I wanted to blog about, which is this fantastic series of photographs by Richard Davies. The UK-based artist lived my dream and journeyed through the northern part of the continent, capturing images of grand old wooden churches. While I’m familiar with the shapes of the buildings (onion domes that billow out and spires that aspire to the heavens) I don’t think I’ve ever seen them rendered in wood quite like this. Continue reading

Wicker Park.

You know how I said I wanted to live in a human nest? Well, I did. Pay more attention.

Anyway, artist Patrick Doughrety makes what are probably the most elaborate and wonderful wicker structures I’ve ever seen. They range in size and shape; some look like twisty wooden tornadoes and others reach straight upward a windswept castle. There’s something really whimsical about his pieces—they look just like illustrations from a children’s book, come to life and made on a massive scale. I want to crawl inside and take a nap. Or maybe have a picnic.

More here.

You Get Me Closer…

I used to be pretty religious. When I was young, my parents made us go to church every Sunday, and though I complained, there was always a part of me that liked the rituals and the traditions. I even liked confession (which isn’t something you are supposed to like, as every good Catholic knows). I liked the latticework wood booths, the rich red cloth, and the whispery quiet of telling secrets.

Nowadays, I can’t really claim allegiance to any religion—but maybe I would if I had mass in this church. Designed by Belgian architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh, it’s an art project that plays with the very idea of solid enclosures. Called “Reading Between The Lines,” it’s a really beautiful riff on the traditional space of worship. Made of 100 thin sheets and 2,000 columns of steel, the “church” is more sketch than sculpture. And (obviously) I love it.

More details (and some much more in-depth analysis) here.

Little House in the Big Woods.

Just spent the past hour looking at my new favorite website: Cabin Porn. Despite the NSFW name, it’s really just a massive aesthetic feast of lovely-looking cabins. They have ski chalets, log cabins, yurts, glass houses, and everything in between. The only connecting thread is that they’re all cozy, and they’re all remote.

A few more favorites…

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Obviously, I need to live here. I would line the insides with giant feathers and the shredded remains of all my clothes (one does not need sweaters when one lives in a human nest). Why don’t I already have a human nest? I have no idea.


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Places To Live.

I would like to live here. This amazing cabin is the work of Studio Weave. They’re also responsible for some urban design, and some really, really charming structures in the UK. Other than this adorable gazebo-shack, my favorite piece is the still-in-the-works Holm Hall. It’s so tactile—it looks just like someone knit the walls with Ent-sized knitting needles.  I hope the finished project looks like a treehouse made of lace, because that’s how I imagine it. Lovely.

You know what’s awesome? Treehouses. Right? Yeah.

The only thing I want more than to live on a yacht is to live in a tree—especially one that looks like a real life version of Myst. And while we’re making lists, I’d also like a domesticated fox. Thanks.