I live in that northwest borough with the bright yellow face!


It’s been awhile. October is well upon us; and it is a strange combination of familiarity and homesickness. I’m starting to no longer notice anyone’s accents.

The crisp air and equally crispy leaves on the ground feel like home. I always, always missed fall the most when I was in California. It smells like autumn here. The light also has that cold, golden glow. The weather is almost the same as Virginia except a bit more mild and grey. The summer’s aren’t as hot, and the winter will see less snow.

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View from the living room window

Continue reading “Autumn”


Oyster Card Stout: A recipe

2016-08-10 15.36.18I’ve wanted to blog my beer recipes for a long time, and this beer feels especially apropos to the times. I talked about brew day, but wanted to share our recipe once we had actually tasted it…

If you know me, you know I love talking about beer. David runs a tight ship on brew day: he knows all the procedures, keeps everything sterile, and adores the intricacies of the mechanics. I like to think of him as our head brewer; I am the brew master. I design our recipes and make sure everything will work out well with my spreadsheets and research. We like to imagine ourselves as a tiny brewery, but Zeke dog thinks we’re incredibly boring when we make beer.

Continue reading “Oyster Card Stout: A recipe”

Emigration (in photos)

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Sand dollar art at the corner near our old apartment–a dependable & favorite sight on my runs

Hello from London! I made it! Somehow my red-eye flight of 6.5 hours saw no sleep for me. Also, I only had 4 hours of nighttime. I guess that’s fair since I had 24 hours of daylight on my way out. I watched GirlsMy Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, and Very British Problems to prepare myself to be a strong woman endeavoring across multiple cultures. (Definitely.)

I wrote recently about all my feelings. Today (Thursday) I actually woke up at 10 AM. My first two days back in the U.K. I slept more than 16 hours each day, so I’m excited to be a human today. Am I using this time to unpack? to tackle an endless list of loose ends from my travels? to paint? to wear something besides sweatpants? Absolutely not. I’m here, posting photos on my blog. Continue reading “Emigration (in photos)”


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All my places manifested in ID’s and train cards

Hello from the Wolfgang Puck bar in Dulles International Airport! I’m toasting my homeland with my final glass of American beer for awhile with DC Brau Public Ale. After 4 weeks of teaching in California and nearly a week in Virginia with my family, I’m finally flying “home.”

It’s been weird telling people I live in London–I have to immediately explain I’ve just moved. I’ve only lived in our Nether Street apartment for a month. I’m still in limbo. I felt this deeply when my 16 month old niece “helped” me pack my suitcase today. I wasn’t excited for her to learn about suitcases, nor for how much applesauce she got on her entire body while I checked into my flight.

It seems my theme is leaving. I arrived in the U.S. to watch the U.K. Brexit. I was constantly packing up my bags to go sleep in a new house: 12 homes with 13 dogs, 8 cats, 4 chickens, and 3 reptiles welcomed me and then said more good byes. I struggled and stressed with 34 students to learn as much about drawing and painting as possible, only to send them home (and four of them with pretty amazing scholarships). I procrastinated good byes to my favorites, putting off painful hugs that mean there’s so much time before another hug can happen. I’ve been at Dulles for an extra 3 hours (because Thomasons be paranoid about flights), just waiting to leave again.

All these politics in the U.S. and the U.K. about “immigrants” make me uneasy. Mom said it best:

Mom: Why did they vote to leave the EU?
Me: Because they don’t want immigrants in their country.
Mom: Then why did they conquer the world?

It’s weird to be an immigrant (especially as an indigenous person); but I remember learning in second grade some very important vocabulary. An immigrant is someone who has arrived in a country. An emigrant is someone who has left. It’s rooted in location and in perspective. People have asked if I love England, is it so very different? I don’t know. I still feel like I live here; I only feel like I’m leaving.

I’m hoping that when I land at 7:40 AM London time/ 2:40 AM east coast time/ 11:40 PM Pacific time that I will feel arrived. I have no idea what kind of job I’ll get. I know I’ll be painting. I know I am exhausted and that all of my words for the year have been used up–so I will post about my travels in the States in photos soon. For now, I just want to paint in my studio silently and hang out with David and Zeke dog.

Even so, I will miss this humidity in a weird way–it feels full like I am when I see Virginia. I will miss the fog tsunami that rolls into San Francisco. I will miss the golden light in Oakland and the hard-won battles for my students’ growth. I’ll always be a Virginian emigrant, but that means I’m deeply rooted here and nothing can take that away. Hopefully I’ll make roots enough in London to be sad to leave there as well.

I’m here to teach your children, America.

Or young adults, I suppose. I find myself here in the Bay again! Hello, tacos! Hello, sunshine!

Right now I am procrastinating. I really do need to finalize my syllabi.

I am so thrilled to be here to teach another session of Pre-College at California College of the Arts. It’s 4 week studio intensive courses for high school students to earn a few college credits and to see if art school is the right fit for them. I taught last year and truly loved it. I’ll be on CCA’s Oakland campus, teaching drawing in the morning and a painting/drawing hybrid class in the afternoon. Class starts on Monday!

I arrived late Tuesday night into San Francisco International. I actually experienced a full 24 hours of daylight being so close to the summer solstice and with the 8 hour time time difference. The sun rose in London around 4:45 AM, and I was traveling while it set on the west coast around 9 PM (or 5 AM London time).

Heathrow Leah, patron saint of international travel and homesickness

Continue reading “I’m here to teach your children, America.”

Bread & couches from the sky

I love yeast. It makes bread, and it makes beer. We have come from San Francisco, a land where its sourdough yeast is famous. There is also a San Francisco lager yeast to make what’s known as a California common beer, a lager-ale hybrid. Both of these yeasts may be the only truly indigenous yeasts to the U.S. We’ve been making beer with San Francisco lager almost since we first began. We learned how to make bread in 2014, and our sourdough starter is still here (in some form). Continue reading “Bread & couches from the sky”