La buveuse d’absinthe (P. Picasso, 1901)

Contemplating 2023 like the woman in Picasso’s painting…which book will I choose from my TBR pile to read first? Some decisions take time (and liquid courage) to make!

After looking over the many books waiting for my attention that I absolutely look forward to cracking open, I’ve chosen Karl Ove Knausgaard’s highly acclaimed novel, My Struggle, as my first read of 2023.

Raising a glass to all the book lovers out there, may your first read of 2023 be one to remember for many years to come!

Happy New Year!

From BBC TV broadcast

Millions of people around the world bid farewell to Queen Elizabeth II watching the historic funeral in the comfort of their homes. Some shed a tear, others shared poignant stories of her life, but all who watched witnessed the passing of a monarch who reigned far longer than any could have imagined when she was crowned at just 26 years old. ‘Thank you for your service,’ many proclaimed as her coffin passed them by after they stood on the streets for hours overnight waiting for a mere glimpse of her funeral procession. Being able to watch all this as it happened live in central London from the comfort of my warm bed, I was amazed at the outpouring of love and respect for the queen by her subjects young and old. At nearly a hundred years old she was still mourned, what a lovely sentiment. May we all live to such a privileged age and be missed when we finally pass. RIP dear Lizzy, and may your progeny learn from your grace.

From BBC TV broadcast


Summer is here, the first true post-Covid summer that brings with it relative ease of travel, with no official pre- or post-arrival PCR testing required, but the anxiety from the last few years remains, a siren’s muted warning beneath the calm. I still wore my mask in crowded indoor spaces: the metro, trains, museums, and even the loo, but all went well. Smoothly even. I love traveling, like most people, but when the obstacles outweigh the benefits, it’s easier for my mental health to remain at home, listening to music, writing, reading, and dreaming about a future travel plan with little work involved to get there.

Traveling last week to visit friends in southern France was a dream. The lines weren’t too long, people were patient, and there was an air of tolerance thrumming beneath each of us, holiday-goers and -makers alike. The world seems to be getting back on track, but with a better mindset, open and welcoming. It was so nice to experience what felt like a new normal. Best wishes to everyone braving summertime travel, may your journey be filled with ease and your destination be full of happy moments to last a lifetime.

November’s golden leaves evoke memories of families gathered around tables overflowing with traditional foods, stories long forgotten, and laughter echoing across the years. Here’s a poem I wrote, one of remembering a moment long ago that has never faded from my mind.

Madonna and Child: Oil on Wood Panel by Mary Lynn Bracht

I forgot until she did it

My mother reached up and stroked the Virgin’s face

Is this real, she asked, turning to look at me over her shoulder

My eyes couldn’t meet hers, instead

I stared at her fingertips, still pressed against the painting

And wondered what it felt like to touch history

Four hundred years ago in the jungles of Central America

Madonna and child gazed down at the pagan natives

With their Catholic eyes gilded in gold

I wanted to ask her if the holy family felt warm or cold

Greasy or dry, what did touching them make my mother feel?

But then I wondered what she meant by Is this real?

Did she mean the painting

Or the Virgin’s story?

And then I remembered

I had the same urge when I was young, to touch

What was forbidden, at sixteen

My own fingertips grazed the toes

Of Zeus, standing in silence in the Louvre

The cold marble was smooth

An electric spark shocked through my skin

When a boy caught me, and grinned

So when I finally met my mother’s eyes, I did the same

She had crossed centuries with one forbidden touch

©Mary Lynn Bracht

Researching often means I get to indulge in reading books I consequently fall in love with that lead me to other books in a never ending roadmap of discovery. This morning, while researching woodlands, I came across a quote by Wordsworth “… with gentle hand | Touch — for there is a spirit in the woods” from his poem Nutting, so of course I had to read the rest of the poem. I found my book of his major works, searched the glossary for the page number, and then the book flipped open straight to the poem. I paused, thinking that was cool, but just as I started to read aloud (as I often do with poetry), my iPhone stopped playing music, as though this poem demanded quiet. It was sudden and mysterious — I had to share. And yes, the poem is wonderful! 🙌

*Woods: A Celebration by Robert Penn

Woman’s correct street costume
(The Passing of Korea, Homer B. Hulbert, 1906)

Restricting the visibility of women in public is a patriarchal practice historically found in many countries, even Korea. Unfortunately, the burden to repel inappropriate male interest fell on women and what they covered or revealed, rather than focusing on the offending male behavior. Much of what women endured and were blamed for in history was due to the inability of men to restrain their behaviour. The world suffers when men don’t check themselves, not when women are seen.

After a year of uncertainty

London is awash with flowers

assuaging us with a bounty of blooms

spring’s arrival post-lockdown, post-heartache, post-tragedy

Rebirth! of mood, of mind, of heart

a renewal of, a continuation of


These pink beauties, brightening: parks, streets, gardens, window ledges

a welcome sight,

these gems of nature coloring our world

like tiny miracles.