Thursday, December 29, 2011

adventures of tin tin

self-correction #1: this is NOT referring to rin tin tin (the dog). canine-correction #2: tin tin's dog hero is "snowy" and he's AWEsome (two words: AWE-some). french correction #3: pronouncing is akin to having a cold and comes out something like "tan-tan". great movie; i had not known about these comics before and the movie was fabulous in 3D. plus, i thought it set up really well for a sequel...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

we wish you a monastic christmas

after meaningful times with friends and family, i tried adding a new tradition: christmas day solo at the local monastery. even though i missed the christmas mass, the weather cleared for a beautiful climb on the familiar trails where i ended up meeting a group of men who, instead of magi, could easily have been called the three wise cracks. after some friendly banter together--spirituality that doesn't take itself too seriously, let God's laughter ring in the hills--i honed in on the guest-house coffee (also spiritual as i'm sure St. Arbucks would agree): rich and welcoming as the site itself. after a couple of hours to catch up with myself via journal, i headed to the newly constructed chapel. everything was dark except for christmas lights around the creche; silent except for the shuffling of one monk. one by one, the lights came up and candles were lit; the 20-foot tree illuminated while a new crescent moon rose outside the south windows. lauds. the holy packaged in human terms. and the stars? brightly shining. to look into your own retreat: i've been visiting for years, though this was my first christmas, and consider the brothers very gifted in hospitality. great bookstore too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

just the beginning

this is the first image in my new calendar "salt of the earth". (virginia wieringa, "joy to the world" acrylic & collage) what i love is that it is organized by liturgy featuring fine art and the symbolic color for that season. for example, advent shows november 27-december from december 25-january 5...flip...epiphany january's a new way of seeing 2012. instead of just showing month to month, it helps me to remember what meanings are going on year-round and be mindful of the deeper rhythm. (ever had a sneaking suspicion there was more to something only to go years and years of your life and finally find out that it's true!?) the page that begins tomorrow only has 12 days (or even just 7 like holy week) while others span three months. "are you ready for christmas?" we ask as we push toward the 25th and then collapse, considering the holiday over. but really it's only just begun. i like giving celebrations time to spread themselves out. i've often felt like a proverbial fish trying to swim against the popular culture's stream; like something of a lavish eternal week-long feast was planted deep within me and i just can't be content with the fast-food version of the 60-second drive-up window. so this calendar is actually a very important tool of courage for me. the colors represented right now are gold and white, like Easter, reminding us that the birth of Jesus was also only the beginning of *"a dangerous and difficult pilgrimage through suffering and death to new life". (*see also the art of john august swanson's "flight into egypt", serigraph.) let's get that feast underway...

Friday, December 23, 2011

the works of our hands

all i want to do is make things. word girl + art=more, more, more! i tried blockprinting this week and really liked the shape that turned out. once you get one you like you can stamp everything around you that doesn't move...including people if they are slow enough. quilting with paper is also a blast. p.s. i did finish reading the world history of salt (but i must confess, absolved by book club president, that i only got through the second half by reading the first sentence of each paragraph before i had to take it back to the library) and the second of l'engle's series "a wind in the door". interesting if you like journeying to the heart of mitochondria. may the works of your hands be established as we celebrate the season.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

animal, vegetable, miracle

this is a good, informative read. and barbara kingsolver is funny! wouldn't we all love the time to be this's like having a love affair with asparagus. who knew? before i dub myself a dismal failure, however, for eating too many packaged foods during the teaching year or for not testing my soil (gasp) or for being a poor composter (double gasp)...i thought about changes that i could reasonably make. breathing a sigh of relief that i didn't have to do it all on my own, my action steps thus far involve looking up local creameries and places to get farm fresh eggs. here's a test for you: how many fruit and vegetable varieties can you name in seasonal order?

treasure, island

what do church and robert louis stevenson have to do with each other? alot recently. i'm still looking for a regular place to fellowship so i haven't been in quite a while. but i went to a church last weekend and the sermon was about treasures in heaven which really lined up with what i'd been thinking, talking and praying about lately. it's not that stuff is bad, the message seems to be not to be anxious about it. and, as the main character jim hawkins notices in the classic treasure island, "is it really worth all this fighting for a chest or five of gold?" (you decide.) we have troubles here (so did the pirates and sailors) and, humorously, as the pastor noted, it's not as if Jesus was saying that nothing bad happens to the flowers and birds (see matthew 6). trying to come up with memorable lesson plans, i thought back to 5th grade when our teacher took us on an archaeological "dig". thing was, we were the ones who buried all the stuff in the first place, so it wasn't really surprising to dig it back up again. i always wondered what the point of that was. but the people in ancient Israel would have known that if you had valuable things, you put them in a box and buried them. in this case, definitely hoping you remembered where you dug. honestly, the more i study this passage, the more questions i have. along with a sneaking suspicion it can be a practical guide on how to live worry-free even if we're not all *hippies (*disclaimer, see also entry entitled "1974"). peace out, mateys.

tumbling tumbleweeds

more and more, i want less and less. today i followed the "if it's not useful or beautiful" maxim and pared down yet again. i'm going for grand prize in the "she who dies with the least toys wins" game. more accurately, quality over quantity. i do love my snowshoes and french press (and plan to use them in tandem). a few really nice things...besides, aren't these tiny homes just the most quintessential things you've ever seen?


i like to read obituaries. not to be morbid, just to see what the person was known for; what legacy they left behind. one lady from last sunday's paper stands out in my mind. she started a group called The Reading Club that met for over 45 years so "women could get together to read to each other and sew." kudos, Rose. so here's an update from my Reading Club. if you've seen the new release "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" i'd be curious to know how it compares with the book; illustrations nothing short of stunning to me. and then, there's salt. "Salt: a world history" by mark kurlansky. it's intriguing, mostly historical and to be honest i'm looking forward to getting past the 1500 and 1600's because i think i've just read over 86 pages about preserved cod and herring. not that fish aren't important,they are. i just didn't know there were so many brine recipes. i perk up, however, when my favorite food is mentioned. charles de gaulle, in a 1961 speech explained the nature of French government with the following, "Nobody can easily bring together a nation that has 265 kinds of cheese." i would add 100 though, just so there could be a different one for every day of the year. come to think of it, maybe that will be my legacy: she loved brie.


8:13 a.m. homeroom. wednesday. "miss smith, where can i plug in my book?" "awesome. i'm old. ok everyone, have a seat. yes you can plug your book in right over here and let's have a little talk about how your teacher is old as dirt..." taking attendance could wait. it was one of those flippant "back in my day" talks. i was asked if there were hippies when i was born and what record players were like. "richard nixon was in big trouble," i said, "and tv's didn't have color yet. my computer in college was HUGE..." but my favorite questions (asked with complete sincerity)"what kind of horse did you drive?" and "was there electricity?" to which i mock cried and pretended to leave the room, shoulders sagging. not to worry, we brought it full-circle. "horse, eh? a mustang. i've always wanted a Ford Mustang (giggles ensue). and yes, there was power, i'm not that old and ok, it's time for chapel now and, you know, by the time we get back your book should be fully charged. let's go."

festive flotillas

"oh look, a flotilla of ducks!" "did you just make that word up?" "no, it's a real word" "wow, you're smart." this was the walk conversation last week wherein i learned from my friend that the word flotilla, derived from spanish, refers to a fleet of ships (or in this case, ducks). so if you're singing christmas carols, feel free to throw in, "i saw a flotilla go sailing by on christmas day in the morning." and, did you know that scion isn't just a make of car? it is actually 1. a young shoot or bud of a plant or 2. a descendant of a wealthy or aristocratic family. likewise in the carol department, maybe a twist of "the little Lord scion lay down His sweet head". this would make sense on a couple of levels. Jesus is called "the root of Jesse" in the scriptures and is, afterall, the most wealthy descendant i can think of. happy advent from word girl!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

young adult fiction

i wish there really were a wrinkle in time. i'd send my responsible self into one time zone and then i'd just read. i've been on a YA fiction kick lately and for starters decided to reread madeleine l'engle's series. one down, four to go. also, i'd been told that "hunger games" by suzanne collins was addictive, so i made sure to start it when i had a whole day to read. true, i couldn't put it down. now i want to read book two and three in that series as well. it's fun to be able to talk with the kids about what they're into...when new movies come and contrast the films with the novels.
no surprise here that i love books and always want to own them. then i remembered my lovely and oft neglected local library. (how do you spell savings? l--i-b-r-a-r-y c-a-r-d)give me another week or so and i'll have a new review for you...

Monday, November 28, 2011

how shall we then live?

i realized in a flash (the flash being a slow 20-year brew brought on by catalysts that spark in your mind like the northern lights and beg to be written down immediately) how i want to live. four words. each could be a novel (some are): simplicity, creativity, service, beauty. with a solid foundation in place, these are pillars i can continue to build upon.
as i continue constructing this framework, here are some of the many who've inspired me: hd thoreau, richard foster, madeleine l'engle, ralph waldo emerson, annie dillard, anne morrow lindbergh, francis schaeffer (hence the title), kathleen norris, dorothy day, st. francis, deitrich bonhoeffer, and jean vanier...
and you, my modern friends who have the courage to live intentionally, you know who you are. i salute you.
what have you found to be your Truest way of living?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

the great nut debate

"hazelnuts." "filberts." "no, i really think they're called hazelnuts." "i like to call them filberts." whatever you choose for a name, here's a recipe i think we can all agree on. last minute dinner party appetizer? no problem! start with cracked, whole nuts of the aforementioned nomenclature. chop in halves. shake together with olive oil, sea salt and fresh, chopped rosemary. bake 5 minutes at 425. add small pieces of already-cooked bacon and roast for 1-2 more minutes. garnish with rosemary sprig and serve while warm. end of debate!

vitamin D for the soul

"powells. fleece. hot chocolate. i love my city. colorful leaves. green. i choose to love my city". the man in seat 8A likely thought my mantra crazy as our plane landed in PDX. it's not that i'm ungrateful, it just takes a while to transition from reading by the pool to sideways rain. really, there's no place like home, but two days ago i was riding a red motorscooter down palm-lined streets in 70 degree weather. stop gloating, you might think. but really? you could eat a Thanksgiving Feast every week and still not get your daily dose of Vitamin D here in the northwest. i went for a walk today so i could eat (second mantra: "live to move, move to eat, eat to live.") and said out loud, "toto, we're not in palm springs anymore!" excuse me now while i go and put myself, in good company, into a tryptophane haze. vitamin D doses aside, how much do you love your city?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

to kindle or not to kindle?

i likely will not invest in a kindle because i am too much of a paper-cover-feel-and-smell-books person. i will admit to being old-fashioned in that way. however, i don't want to be an old-fashioned teacher. trying to realize the difference, i am asking the question, how do i integrate student kindle use in the classroom? with an increasing number of young adults asking, "can i just use my kindle?" i want to think this through well. my first thought is that textbooks are supposed to be free, so i feel as though i can't reasonably mandate that students read books that they will have to purchase while the rest of the class borrows the novel. i see a lot of positive uses for kindles and am trying to be open to furthering reading whatever the means. i would love it if you weigh in on what you think about reading, technology and student use?


it started with self-preservation as i noted with terror that the day after halloween fell on a school day. i declared to my students, in a somewhat flip tone, that november first would be officially known as "national love your teacher day" and informed them that they, not i, would be teaching. a few years of teaching has taught me that in the teacher vs. sugar crash battle i am rarely the victor. their assignment? to bring books they were reading outside of class. "please share the title, author, genre and read a sample paragraph. i'll sit in the back and be your student today" i said, having no idea what a rich dialogue over young adult fiction would ensue. we didn't want to leave. several minutes after it was time to go to lunch, we were still sharing book lists. this only increased as a very gifted highschool reader and author shared with our class this week. she loaned me a copy of "east" by edith pattou that i just finished, as well as "the hunger games" by suzanne collins (which i'm told is addictive). students are bringing me titles of series on notebook paper that they want me to read. and, on a recent trip to powell's, i decided it would be fun to reread madeleine l'engle's series starting with "a wrinkle in time." technically, you're never supposed to begin with "it was a dark and stormy night", but l'engle does and it's had me captivated since third grade. what are some of your favorite young adult fiction novels?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

let there be light

a friend of mine made beautiful luminaries for a recent event and sent me the meanings of the word. "luminary" can be defined as 1. a person of prominence or brilliant achievement or 2. a celestial body that gives light. etymology comes from the middle english/french "luminaire", latin "lumin" or "lucere" which means to shine. i hope you have such a person in your life, i know i do. as they put it, "let there be light!"

word wonders

an alert reader circled a new word in the paper for me. "extirpated" which i've just discovered means to "pull up by the roots" or "totally exterminate". in the vocabulary department, i was very proud of my symphony conductor for his use of "penultimate" in ordinary conversation last evening. and of my students for building their glossaries without asking if they would get extra credit for looking up more words than required by the assignment. that would force me, afterall, to extirpate some of their penultimate comments.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

the "s" word

say this word in certain company and eyebrows go up. it's not what you think. the word? "sensual". granted, it, like many words, can be used in different contexts. but the way i intend it is to simply mean "sensory" (perhaps that would be a better choice). at any rate, i found it interesting that people are uncomfortable at times with enjoying their 5 senses. as with everything that can be taken to extremes i'm not talking about unhealthy levels of indulgence in any one sense. i just think that "sensual Christian" may not have to be an oxymoron if, as scripture says, God put everything here for our enjoyment. being able to turn it into an act of worship can mean everything from literal time to stop and smell the roses...or taste our food...or feel the wind on our skin...or really listen to the birds in the morning...or see the colors in the changing leaves. a great movie to watch on this subject is "babette's feast". how have your 5 senses impacted the way you experience the world? God? Others?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

these same hills

old windmill falls silent
trees are loudly brandishing
their sword-gleams in
a calm gloam filtering
through any open atmosphere
this clime hugs these same hills
that children race skateboards down
while ladybugs come in; open their wings in rhythm
with electric fences
and my heart
otherwise old windmill falls silent

Monday, October 17, 2011

work. play. rest.

the westminister catechism's answer to the question, "what is the chief end of man?" holds love and enjoyment as its two main tenents (response: "to love God and enjoy Him forever".) two main ideas that, in my opinion, can never be overdone. carrying this into everyday life, i am challenging myself into a triad of work, play and rest (one of my students insists this should be in alphabetical order, so for him i will type play, rest and work.) whichever order you ascribe to these, they have become necessary companions to my rhythm of life. each of them, well done, promotes the other and so on and so forth until you can't imagine life without them. work. raised with a german ancestry work ethic, i am a "leave no stone unturned" kind of person when it comes to projects who loves efficiency, multi-tasking and completeness. nothing is more satisfying to me than an honest day's work. play. not to be confused with mere leisure, i would define play as the act of being so fully present in an enjoyable activity for it's own sake that you lose track of time. (what good are toys without the ability to enjoy them?) have more fun, i say. rest. when i'm truly resting i might stare out the window or cease striving in my mind. it may include a nap, but more deeply, it is a sense of being at peace with the way things are around me; relenquishing control and abiding there. then i'm ready to work and play all over again.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

the Word Finder

what do "the thighmaster", "the terminator" and "the ginsu knife set that can cut steel and still slice a tomato" have in common? they have nothing on The Word Finder. that's right, alert readers (written in the tone of an infomercial) it was worth the wait. not only am i the proud owner of a new dictionary, but it has a built-in thesaurus. and...(pause for dramatic effect) it's a hardcover. as a wise friend says, "life is short, buy the hardcover." so your blogging wordgirl is ready and armed. more vocabulary coming your way than you might know what to do with. call it a portent, knell or presage, but either way, you've been warned.

Monday, October 3, 2011

inheritance vs. legacy

as quoted together with my friends from alaska, on visiting for a memorial. "there's a big difference between an inheritance and a legacy. an inheritance is what you leave to someone. a legacy is something you leave in someone."

hey, you with the ursine languor

i admit, sheepishly, i've been looking up all my vocabulary for this blog on the internet. so (kindly see last post) until i get a dictionary, i'll need your help in fasting this aspect of technology so i don't end up as a clerk in some office supply-like store (again, please refer to the last entry). however, there were several unique words in my weekly reading. *"ursine" being one of them. which, my alert reading friend noted, is "of or having to do with bears". she is one smart gal. together we found "sagacious" in c.s. lewis. here are just a few more if you have, ahem, a dictionary handy and want to achieve blog-commenting fame: coaming, transom, halyard, ignominiously, and desultory. plus just some clever phraseology: "omnipotent as Excalibur", "Quixote-like", "the hapless skipper's tale of ineptitude", "a matched pair in unacknowledged communion", "with less alliteration but more dignity", and "metronomic thwacks", (see also george howe colt's novel the big house: a century in the life of an american summer home, chapters 12 and 13 on sailing and tennis, respectively)*sample sentence, "my uncle was also tall, but his muscular build and slight slouch gave him an ursine languor on the court that reminded me of the heavyweight boxing champion of the time, Sonny Liston" (p. 163). extra points if you can use them in sentences.

four words: dic-tion-ar-y

i realized, to my chagrin, that i no longer own a dictionary. i have, or rather, i did. what became of it between moves remains a mystery, one part book-loan black hole and one part thrift store. i have a french-english dictionary and more concordances than any monk could shake a quill at. but no dictionary. so i went into a store today, one of those office supply-like ones (one part technology, one part idiocy) to inquire if they had any. "any whats?!" said the store clerk. "dictionaries." i repeated. "oh, well, we have some electronic ones." "no, i just want a regular old book kind, you know, made of paper." "ummm...i think they come in spanish too," she said, still not grasping my query. "the electronic ones?" "yeah". "so you don't have any that aren't electronic?" "right. but they come in spanish." "i got that part. ok, thanks for your time." "no problem. are you sure you don't want to look at the electronic ones?" "i'm sure, thanks again. plus i don't speak spanish."

Sunday, September 25, 2011


a simple yet fun etymological foray has come to my attention via the kitchen. the word? muddle. as in, "combining ingredients usually in the bottom of a mixing glass before adding the majority of liquid ingredients." i also found the additional definitions poetically humorous when written thus: "to confuse, befuddle, mismanage or bungle; to muddle's to make turbid, or jumble."

got mint?

Sunday, September 18, 2011


how is it, fluid heart
that this mirror reflects
water you could walk on?
ripples like mercury beads
run headlong, soon settle
until nothing can hinder
or disturb this cloudline beneath,
peace above; for all that
slices through is love
and this boat. current
beyond heron wings, wildness
at rest.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

what did you like about today?

this is such a great question, it bears repeating. it's become a rhythm in my friend's family and now between us as well: what did you like about today? it's a fun and easy way to share meaningful moments which in turn inspires gratitude...and leads to more meaningful moments (a win-win, i would say!) it's now september and i'd have to say that what i liked about today was that my first garden sunflower is blooming. that and, when i came up the stairs and got my mail, a used book i ordered had arrived. so, what did you like about today?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

dear bookstore

dear bookstore,
it just so happens that my aforementioned alert reader and i went to visit you just the other night. did i mention the closing of you?! the you i used to work at? a corporate chain persona that begins with a B and ends with an S and has ORDER in the in ORDER MORE BOOKS PLEASE. (let it be known that i seldom type in all caps as it uncomfortably resembles shouting; however, in this case it seems fitting). as i mournfully gaped at your empty shelves, noting an overabundance of existing merchandise in the form of national geographic's "great migration" and susan boyle cd's (we are sorry susan that we picked you up as a culture only to drop you down, you have a lovely voice)...amid fleece blankets and random backbacks and neon 60% off signs, i went in search of a computer to look up john o'donohue's book on beauty only to find the computer too was gone from your mid-section, the kiosk between fiction and inspiration that i could find blindfolded. "tragic, eh?" i mentioned to a young man perusing the literature section MY FAVORITE SECTION (yes, more shouting)"yeah" he said. "choose wisely." i bantered back. "you too" he said, glumly. yes, like the reader of "yellow-lighted bookstore", i have book lust. i wanted to buy up every remotely interesting paperback that you had, plus hardcover discount books of the beatles, it's true. but you were closing in timewise...and as in inventory forever. alas. p.s. being a positive person, i note that your cousin P.O. WELLS is doing well. this is my only consolation. i shall pay her several visits in your honor.
between the lines and pages yours ever,
book girl


two new words are brought to you today by an alert reader who, when shopping, texted me that she was looking at some very fine linens. "matelasse", the message said. "what is that?" i queried back. come to find out, it is a quilting term for relief on fabric and can be used in ornamenting silk, wool or Egyptian cotton (p. 44 of the company store's motto, "we're all about comfort"...and beauty, i might add).

the other word was also in text form. "veraison. this is happening right now in your appelation!" i love this definition; it is all about the onset of ripening. it is literally a change of color in grapes. at this stage a lot of growth takes place as sugar levels rise, preparing for harvest.

let the ripening begin!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

from memory

one of my goals for myself this summer was brain exercise in the form of memorizing a poem. here 'tis: hurrahing in harvest by g.m.h.

summer ends now, now barbarous in beauty the stooks rise; around, up above what wind walks, what lovely behavior of silk-sack clouds, has wilder-wilful wavier meal-drift moulded ever and melted across skies? i walk, i lift up, i lift up heart, eyes, down all that glory to glean our Savior and heart, eyes, what looks, what lips yet gave you a rapturous love's greeting of realer, of rounder replies?and the azurous hung hills are His world-wielding shoulder majestic, stallion-stalward, very violet sweet! these things, these things were here and but the beholder wanting; which two, when once they meet, the heart rears wings bold and bolder and hurls for Him, O half hurls earth for Him under His feet.

true confession: i had to peek a couple of times.true confession #2: the line "summer ends now" makes my eyes mist up.while we're at the confessional #3: i unabashedly love this poet and if he hadn't died in 1889 and if he hadn't been a priest (minor detail) i would have married him; it's tough being in love with someone who would be 167 when you're only 37...what's a mere 130 years time difference?


blurb is hip
blurb is trendy
it's a site for making books
that's pretty user-friendly.

this bad poem brought to you by me, who just finished completing a book on blurb that i'll be sharing with you soon. seriously, you should try this out:

get thee to a rookery

maybe it's how much i work with people, but sometimes at the end of a particularly hard or socially complex day filled with words this more-introvert-than-not starts to rethink the necessary value and language of animals and our relationship with them.
with no small kinship to st. francis, i watched a deer in my backyard (simple, beautiful, hyper-aware creatures that they are. relax, i want to tell them). a hummingbird came to visit the honeysuckle while i read, my neighbor's horse comes when i call to take an apple from my hand...and i keep having to set birds free from the blueberry netting. (the first time, which we will not dwell on, i was not quick enough, alas.) but twice since i have been able to coax them out and send them on their way. they do not realize that i am trying to help and their anxious, mad flapping reminds me of us sometimes, that we could conserve a lot of energy by realizing the window to freedom is right in front of us.
on the subject of animals, my friend reminded me of two more words for the learning that seem to fit here: rookery and permaculture. a rookery being a breeding habitat for birds and a permaculture that of environmentally sustainable living; agricultural patterns established on natural ecologies.
i think that would make st. francis proud. i also think poet mary oliver is onto something in her poems on nature drawn from how much time she spends *wandering the hills alone and laying on her back in fields. *mental note to do more of this.
in terms of the rookery, like my father, i could never cage a bird, nor do i want to be caged by fears, anxieties or the opinions of others. breathe, i tell myself. on the heels of shakespeare's line from hamlet, "get thee to a nunnery", i will not run away and become a hermit or pseudo nun/oblate. it's not my style and i would only last for about three days alone anyway. but until the lion lays down with the lamb and a peaceable kingdom is established; when none of us have to look over our backs eyes wide as does with fear, i will continue to love people as much as it depends on me and yes, happily talk to the animals.

reading's the thing

i'm concurrently reading five books. in no particular order: hopkins' poetry and prose, "the yellow-lighted bookshop" by lewis buzbee, "dirt" by william bryant logan, marsha mehran's "pomegranate soup" and "aesthetics" by cahn & meskin. i don't always do this. perhaps summer's end has me in a bit of a bibliophilic panic.
nonetheless, it causes me to wonder, what is it that makes a reader? is it nature/nurture? being read to at a young age? and, my latest question, does it matter the content, i.e should we encourage reading at any sake (as buzbee seems to suggest) because it is the skill and love itself that then leads to reading *'great content' later in life? *debatable, i know, but by this i mean here prescribed classics. (after all, before i ever wanted to read this comprehensive anthology on art, i began with a pile of all the nancy drew mysteries i could get my hands on from the library when i was 9.) hmmm. i don't know.
an interesting exercise could be to fill in the blanks. "i was ____ years old when i happened on a novel called ______, and within six months i had read ever other book by the writer known as _______." what made you want to start reading?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

what remains

to see a stunning visual representation of patience (not to mention postitive and negative space) check out paper artist nikki mcclure. i had the chance to visit her portland exhibit featuring finished pieces, but also sketchbooks and pencil from '96 as well as from this year. using black paper and an exacto knife, she brings scenes from real life into view and has a penchant for understanding the natural seasons and rhythms of humanity. her artwork reminds me not so much to grieve the things that seem to be cut away from life...but rather to give thanks and practice training my heart to see what then remains.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

kayak love

indulge me, if you will, into a brief history of one of my favorite things. kayaks were first designed out of driftwood and animal skins by the Intuits of the arctic region and the word "kayak" means hunter's boat. in 1905 the German inventor Hans Klepper devised what was called the foldboat. Later in 1936 kayak racing was added to the Olympic games in Berlin. boat design has become more and more sleek, giving us modern kayakers a bevy of options. i most recently tried double kayaking in the saltwaters around the san juan islands. we were rewarded with seal and bald eagle sightings. another great place to kayak is pacific shores, on vancouver island. one of my favorite locales however, is right here at home along the willamette river. there's just something about not only being on the water but being self-propelled and quiet that makes me want to get right back out there. got kayaks?

to be or not to be

from labels to libraries, i'm always in search of not only new words, but remembrance of the definition to words long known but forgotten. case in point: ontology. i knew it in context, but couldn't define it. (slightly ironic, given the following field of study, don't you think?) because ontological pursuits, from the Greek, have everything to do with "that which is", see also logia, the scientific study of being, existence and reality. ontology is the branch of philosophy generally filed under metaphysics. so, i have to ask: if i don't say the word, does it really mean anything?

bergamot, hot

"earl grey, hot" it seems is not just for the likes of jean-luc picard. while camping--and i say "camping" because can it really be that rough when you have a tablecloth, vase of flowers and italian espresso?--which brings me to the wilderness experience of cooking: we even had bergamot-infused olive oil at our picnic table. (yes, it's true, to say nothing of the french baguette and ginger chocolate, but i digress.) which led us on a quizzical foray into the exact meaning of the word "bergamot", not to be found in local island bookstore dictionaries (we looked). so, for those of you who have always wondered, here 'tis...bergamot, or citrus bergamia, is a fruit most commonly grown in italy, the essential oils of which are named after the city of Bergamo in Lombardy (who knew?) the fruit is the size of small orange with the yellowish color of a lemon; most commonly used for essential oils and, you guessed it, earl grey tea. all that to say, creatures of comfort, don't hesitate in ringing us up to book your next culinary camping trip. and trekkies: always, always keep your tea from getting cold.

occam's razor

have you ever worked so hard at something only to have it come to nothing? conversely, have you ever been so absorbed in what you were doing that you didn't even notice how meaningful it became to someone else? that happened to me while i was on the ferry between friday harbor and lopez island. i had my sketchbook out and was enjoying simply drawing a picture of a sailboat in the waves when a man walked by and complimented it. soon his son came up and asked if they could buy my drawing. i was barely even done but tore it off and said, "art is free. if you like it, it's yours. do something creative someday". i say all of this completely humbled because when i saw this young man, about 13 i would guess, getting off the ferry later he was guiding his bike with one hand and clutching my drawing to his chest with the other. in the interim, two completely delightful young sisters had been watching me draw over my shoulder and struck up a conversation. it, like drawing or like Love, was easier than breathing; that unselfconsciousness of a child at play, the creative zone...whatever one calls it, it seems to bear fruit when we get out of the way and simply do what we were made to do. "who i am is me, for that i came" wrote hopkins. and for one short moment i experienced that. self-awareness can really infringe on the flow of things and thank goodness that self-actualization isn't the means and end to our time here. we all want to know we're purposefully part of something bigger than we are. at any rate, i hope that young man looks at my humble sketch of a boat and remembers that his own act of creativity could make a big difference in someone else's life. as a teacher i am gearing up again to work hard, to be intentional, to make a difference. i forget how easy and sometimes even more meaningful it can be when i'm not trying so hard. somehow that short interaction on the ferry ended up being just the encouragement i needed to keep being myself on this planet. occam's razor states that "the simplest answer is probably right". it's so easy, how could we not enjoy it: our greatest joys and the world's deep hunger meeting (frederich beuchner). yes, a funny thing happened on the way to the ferry terminal.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


anyone who has housesat more than once knows to ask about the big three: pets, mail and plants. getting these instructions yesterday from my neighbor reminded me to actually water my one house plant today before i go on vacation. this little spider plant, a gift, i am told was originally from a plant belonging to Roosevelt. (the entire story is quite fascinating to me) i thought about all the transplants, care and changing of hands that would have had to happen for this little offspring to come to find a resting spot in a pot on top of my refrigerator. sometimes it's tempting to think that little things we do don't make a difference or that our small start or plant is insignificant. on the contrary, once it's big enough, i'm already thinking of who i should give the next plant to, what legacy i want to pass down from my life. what have i learned? you never might be, as people say, entertaining angels unaware. oh, and don't forget to water the presidential plants.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

words to live by

O Maitre, que je ne cherche pas tant a etre console qu'a consoler, a etre compris qu'a compendre, a etre aime qu'a true these words are in life lessons; learning to love. Translated from the French, "O Divine Master, grant that i may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love..." St. Francis


silver clay, like life, is all about the art of refinement. i learned to work with precious metal (PMC) yesterday and it was like a miracle; to think that in one afternoon i could start with the tiniest bit of clay and end up with finished jewelry...nothing short of magical. i know i too am growing, having the dross burned from me in the refiner's fire. it is comforting to know that just as i took delight in burnishing my pieces, i am delighted in by my Creator as His poeima, or work of art. He sees me not only as i am, but how i will be and i am safe in His hands. overall, my goals for this summer have been to 1) play and 2) do art for fun. and, as of today, i'd have to say they are both coming true!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

penny surfing

the summer-resting-academic in me has to admit i enjoy singing the praises of something as simple as penny surfing. learn at least one new thing every day, right? today, this was it. place a penny between your fingers and stick them out the long can you catch the wave? (and, i was wondering, how could i have lived 37 years without knowing about this skill...)while my friend drove, i surfed and cars behind us probably wondered why we were throwing money out the window. twelve or so cents later i think my longest record was ten seconds. (and the shortest was dropping it before i even got my hand out the window) maximum fun at a minimum price.

is it naptime yet?

in the midst of an eclectic smattering of neighbors, baby chickens and homemade beer my young friend maya introduced us to her newest made-up word: grumpovert. "you know, what happens to you if you don't get a nap". having overheard the usage of terms like introvert and extrovert, she decided to get creative on her own. "hmm." she said, "or maybe crankovert...who likes crankovert better? raise your hands..." and she took a vote. i think in the end we preferred grumpovert. but either way, we gave her points for originality. after all, who can resist a word-lover who's also a teacher in the making? and, i might add, sign me up for that naptime.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

vine time

i spent a good deal of time yesterday trimming vines. everything green it seems is sending out shoots. problem is, many of them were just in the way (blackberry thorns, anyone?) and not producing anything. careful to only cut the ones without flowers or berries, i hoped the energy would go back into the plant. sometimes this world is too loud for me. a word-lover, yes, but one who likes to milk the meaning out of phrases for a long time; mull them over. words can be a barrage of noise with not much substance. language use needs pruning. the vines of vocuabulary making room for communication's lasting fruit.

Monday, July 25, 2011

*poetic medicine

kudos for bravery! one of my friends just sent me five poems she'd written at a recent poetry workshop and they are wonderful. the facilitator started them with prompts: "by walking i made the road", "first word", "a time of despair and being met", "a summons", and "i wanted".
bravo, poet, bravo! *for the book of the same title, see "poetic medicine: the healing art of poem-making" by john fox.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


one of my favorite local coffee shops always posts a word of the day. today's is "legerity". definition: physical or mental quickness, nimbleness or agility. etymology: 1555 Middle French "leger", from the Latin "leviarius". synonyms: alacrity, celerity. alert readers, i adjure you, add to your legerity by going forth to use it in an ordinary everyday sentence.

lectio divina

i've known about the practice of lectio divina for several years, since a class in seminary. just recently i have come to really appreciate it, as i rest from over a decade of being on staff in church ministry. lectio divina is the "reading, praying with scripture in order to more deeply ponder and listen...which can lead to rejoicing and even singing from scripture within the soul". the point is to commune more deeply with God in an experiential knowlege of His Word. it can be done alone or with others. i appreciate the group that i sit with. a leader will read a selection of verses twice through slowly and we will sit in silence for over forty-five minutes together, reading over our paper copy and sharing only as we feel inclined to the benefit of the group. (of the fifteen or so gathered, maybe only two or three individuals will speak). no one is overly eager to hear themselves talk, and once they do it is extremely rich and thought-provoking. the time ends with prayer requests, applying the scripture to community/world concerns and we simply go home; on with our days carrying the truths with us that we shared together.

get lost!

i enjoy asking people, "so what have you done recently that you just got absorbed in?" you know, when you seem to step outside of time? answers have varied (design, music, dance, learning new video skills...) sometimes they just look at me as if to say, "you know, i have no idea....let me think about that some more" or "i used to really love to _____". this "creative zone" is important; it is why play is a serious job for children and something we should strive to retain as we grow. i've come to rediscover my love for drawing. not because it's a job, but just for fun. here's today's "get lost" from my pencils to you. "hanging baskets: francis square, newberg". so, when was the last time you got lost in something and what was it?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

what have we learned? (part le deux)

i've learned that: Micron 01 brand pen (thank you, you know who you are) is my favorite for sketching and i plan to carry it with me everywhere i go along with an old tin of colored pencils... there is nothing so deliciously simple as a margarita pizza...that sketching the flowers and outdoor strings of light while waiting for said pizza at The Firehouse is even to make lavendar wands and the way it makes your hands favorite bookstore chain is going out of business which makes me want to open a small new one at the coast...The Bucket List is a funny, poignant movie...combining candied ginger icecream with mexican chocolate is delicious, especially on free sprinkles day at Ruby Jewel...only in Portland can you stop by the side of the road one day to take pictures of round hay bales and go to a downtown concert featuring Vagabond Opera the next (fantastic local band) many kinds of salt there are and how to taste them at The can kayak from Cedaroak boatramp under I-205 to the falls and see a bald eagle...hammocks are great for sleeping in under the stars...i'm more french than american (according to "entre nous: a woman's guide to finding her inner french girl" by debra ollivier)...lychee sorbet is quite refreshing on a warm summer can't have just one order of roasted cauliflower with lemon creme fraiche...adults should have play dates like kids do (can so and so come out and ride bikes with me?)...blueberry buckle from morning-picked berries makes you want to eat it for dinner too...and if you think something might take a couple of hours to really enjoy? give it an entire day, you won't regret it. so many doors, take your time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

ella minnow pea

l. m. n. o. p...want a quick, fun romp through distopia? "ella minnow pea: a novel in letters" by mark dunn is a fun one for word lovers in particular. "a love letter to alphabetarians and logomaniacs everywhere" says fan maya goldberg.


i found these hearts on the sidewalk, at the beach and in the garden!

you might also really like the book "focus: love, a look through the photo-sharing lens" by lark books (

look up!

with my first batch of kale chips baking in the oven and calligraphy practice pages drying on my art table, i step back and ask myself, "so, what have you learned so far this summer that you didn't know before?" i've learned...the definition of the word "intaglio", assembly of red cruiser bikes complete with fenders, tide rhythms of the ocean, how much i love to draw, gocco printmaking, several ways to make salads of unusual size using leftovers, how to relax-receive-rest, the scoring behind tour de france jersey colors, new combinations for suntea, how to change a flat on my own bicycle, design for pocket neighborhoods, the process for respite care with the oregon department of human services, the work of a modern viola composer, the longest distance i can spit a cherry pit, the best place to buy "curly girl" and "positively green" brand greeting cards, the times of local farmer's markets, categories of aesthetics, that it is possible to walk from ecola to indian beach at low tide, the grape-type/percentage/acreage of four graces winery, how to loop rope for a boat anchor, the best process for installing hangers for red cruiser bikes, hours of coffee shops at cannon beach, the origin of ashland's shakespeare festival, a new poem by gerard manley hopkins, a bit about reflexology, how to resize digital photos, that blurb is a great site for making books...and the importance of looking up!

Sunday, July 10, 2011


grandpa was always a man of his word. (he loved words too, memorizing poems that took well over ten full minutes to recite.) a stroke stood in the way of him keeping his word to me about fly fishing together on the rogue river. not being so much of a "stuff" person, i am content to already have his favorite leather hat, the one with a feather in it from JC Penney. today, however, i was given a very cool early birthday present. one that almost made me cry: grandpa's creel. contents inside the worn leather strap: marshmallows (20+ years old? had to toss those out), jar of fish eggs, five different sizes of bobbers, old line and his pocket knife. the creel fits well over my shoulder and i couldn't have received a better present. his hands touched it and it symbolizes that he will be able to keep his promise yet, if God lets us fly fish in heaven, that is.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


and yes, i will keep the "try" alive in poetry. just sent a poem off to the Oregonian which, by the way, is so simple i could hardly believe it. you can email your submission; thought it would be fun. never give up sharing the words you've been given with the world...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

the prime of miss jean brodie

we wordies (like foodies only for books) always say "the book is better than the movie". well, it is with fondness that i remember watching this movie in one of my classes (starring none other than revered dame maggie smith). having just read the novel by murial spark, i put it down, sighed and said, "what a strange little book". no offense to murial or the brits of course. (i have thus moved on and am already highly in favor of "major pettigrew's last stand" by helen simonsen. if you are put off by books on the best seller list, well, in this case don't be. it's smart and pithy with characters clearly and endearingly defined from page one...whereas i found ms. spark's tome to be of haphazard plot line and chronologically in need of a good ironing out.)

midnight in paris

after three entries of 19th century verse, i thought to dash off some quips and quiddities by an actual living person. enter stage: woody allen. this film was a delightful romp through history peppered with fun, unexpected literary and artistic twists. (if movies dated, that would be wrinkle in time meets sabrina=midnight in paris.) it's summer, go see this already & tell me what you think! *disclaimer in the chick flick department: there was a very nice couple sitting in the theater who had been to paris several times; the man seemed to enjoy the movie too. **disclaimer to the disclaimer: the wife was quoted as saying, "paris is for women."

quotable g.m.h.

to continue the gerard manley hopkins quest, here are some great lines without typing the poem entire:

"look at the stars! look, look up at the skies! O look at all the fire-folk sitting in the air!"--from the starlight night

"for Christ plays in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs and lovely in eyes not His to the Father through the features of men's faces"--from as kingfishers catch fire

"because the Holy Ghost over the bent world broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings."--from God's grandeur

the windhover

i once memorized this poem (also by hopkins) as a gift for my grandfather, not even knowing that the origin of his own name meant "falcon".

the windhover: to Christ our Lord

i caught this morning morning's minion, kingdom
of daylight's dauphin, dapple dawn-drawn falcon in his riding
and of the rolling level underneath him steady air and striding
high there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
in his ecstacy!
then off, off forth on swing as a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend:
the hurl and gliding rebuffed the big wind
my heart in hiding stirrred for a bird--the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!

brute beauty and valor and act, oh air, pride, plume here buckle
and the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion times told lovelier,
more dangerous, my chevalier!

no wonder of it: sheer plod makes plough down sillion shine
and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
fall, gall themselves and gash gold vermillion.

powered by memory

one thing i would like to keep well-used is my memory. besotted with instant information, what is a brain synapse to do? after a refresher (it's been since college) here is "pied beauty" by gerard manley hopkins from memory...

glory be to God for dappled things
for skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow
for rose-moles in all stipple upon trout that swim
fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls, finches' wings
landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow and plough;
and all trades their gear and tackle and trim.

all things counter, original, spare, strange,
whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
with swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

praise Him.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

my blind side

if you've seen the movie "the blind side" starring sandra bullock, it's something like that...i just returned from a week of foster kid's camp with stories to tell. there is a scene in the film where the young man is in a restaurant when all of a sudden he goes up and embraces one of the waiters: his brother. that was one part of the movie i was left wondering about. did he ever get to see him again? did they connect? this camp that has become part of my life is all about the sibling connection. for more inspiration, check out:
it's amazing how well you can start to see from your own blind side.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

the detritus of love

my oh-so-very-smart friend used a word in her recent email about graduation that i had to look up, thus making it a very happy day indeed to learn something new. she said, "my house here feels like a giant wave receded and left the detritus of a wonderful day."

detritus: loose fragments or grains that have been worn away from rock, eroded matter, accumulated material or debris.

it was a wonderful day to be sure. and here, accumulated in my heart, lives my own matter of mixed emotions. like a giant wave of love did indeed wash over me and leave behind memories of real conversations, bocce ball with small children, food of all colors spread across the counter like an indoor farmer's market, graduates crossing the stage...but mostly the overwhelming surprise of finding yourself caring about other people's children as if they were your own. it's hard to explain but i cried all the way home. in some ways it felt more like a tsunami of emotion that left behind a still-in-process montage of thoughts: the detritus of love.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

today's latin

id quod visum placet.
"beauty as that which being seen, pleases."
--thomas aquinas

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

to cook, perchance to learn

to macerate or marinate? that is the question. i came upon the former word quite by accident. *it sounded dangerous, like lacerate. almost festive, like **macarena. but it was, in fact, a cooking term. the process of maceration: leaving foods to soak in their own juices (i.e. rhubarb with sugar) as opposed to marination which involves an outside, seasoned, often acidic liquid.
now i know. but for now, please excuse me, i have some vegetables to julienne while listening to music. i only hope not to *cut myself while **dancing in the kitchen.


it's fun to live somewhere long enough that the local potato farmers recognize you from last year's market. stumbling happily upon the organic city blocks today, i bantered with these authentic guys--overall clad and everything--thanking them for the tip on seed potatoes. "it's working" i chimed. "sure enough" they said, looking at each other and smiling with tender pity upon my glib farming soul. picking up my first strawberries and rhubarb of the season i went on to buy soap. the soapmaker seemed discouraged, sagging beneath the white of his own awning. i queried him as i smelled the various aromas. did he still like making soap? what had become routine? what was the most fun about it? did he like making new fragrances? (sort of. all of it. sometimes. and yes, except "cut grass" wasn't a big hit. hmmm) somehow we got on the topic of the beachhouse he and his wife had to sell because of hard economic times. "no one will hire me, i'm too old," he sighed, "the beachhouse was just a dream." "hey," i said, "nothing is impossible. i didn't give up on my potatoes and you shouldn't give up on your dreams. i'll take this bar...keep the change for your beach fund." i guess i just love to encourage growth in all its many forms, it's rather thrilling. in people mostly. but anywhere i see it. so to come home and plant potatoes, an entire row of sunflowers and find that my cucumber, carrot and lettuce starts were poking above the surface? well, this is one happy cultivator.

robby benson need not apply

i just finished digging in the jory of my appellation, a place from which i can see the nearest center for viticulture. oh happy day: three new words from my friend and the wine section of the oregonian. i did recognize the word appellation from the root "appelle" which has to do with name(s) in french. but i learned it is a protected name under which a wine may be sold using grapes from within that district. viticulture, the science and production of said grapes, comes from the latin for "vine" and jory? well, it means dirt. (it's also a western movie starring robby benson, but i think i prefer actual soil).

Saturday, May 28, 2011


reading by the firepit, not moving from the couch. yes, alert readers, it's true: i finally finished my second time through jane eyre. in addition to the latest movie out, i watched the version with william hurt for the fun of comparison. there are, i learned, some fun facts in the book that i had forgotten all about reading when i was in college...for example, the fact that jane discovers she has family after all in the form of three long-lost cousins.
this sentence actually made me laugh out loud, "The housekeeper and her husband were both of that decent phlegmatic order of people, to whom one may at any time safely communicate a remarkable piece of news without incurring the danger of having one's ears pierced by some shrill ejaculation, and subsequently stunned by a torrent of wordy wonderment." (they don't completely freak out when she tells them she's married edward. not that i can relate, being one to impulsively jump for joy at the good news of others while emitting a high-pitched "yay!" and hugging them. jane, via charlotte bronte, would doubtless tell me to 'calm down already'.)
so, while enjoyable, it was a willful bout with faithfulness that kept me reading to the end. i daresay, it's time for some fun summer reads. my friend called today to say that she got 10 books from the library. knowing her, she'll have them done by monday! at which time i shall linger in bookstores waiting to swoop up the perfect tomes and then head to the coast--my happy place--in full and literary bliss.
9 days of school. count them, 9! so soon, off i will go on my merry way because, i'm sorry, "edline and gradequick" just do not qualify as summer reading.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

do art

favorite new addition to my wardrobe? a t-shirt with two words: do art. sometimes i forget i have it on when i'm in the store and wonder why people are smiling. hopefully i'm reminding them of creativity.

at any rate, we just finished our annual K-8 school art show and it was absolutely beautiful, kid-friendly, and as a friend put it, "an explosion of color"! instead of being a stressful time, it was my favorite day of "work" (define work...heck, i was playing) because of everyone's help, it was a blast. it does take several weeks to get ready for, but the teamwork approach makes me want to say let's turn around and do it again!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

the house that martin built

"language is the house of being." --martin heidegger


quote received the following quote oday from my lovely friend in hawaii. her timing is excellent because i truly feel i'm entering a new season, closing the chapter on one part of life and opening to a new and glorious future of adventures.

"if you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realizing that you are the author and every day you have the opportunity to write a new chapter." --mark houlahan

Sunday, May 8, 2011

the cant of can't

i learned a new word yesterday and also a little about some local, um, shall we say color? quite literally. but let me begin by saying that a friend and i were eager to attend a calligraphy display. she brought her guidebook from college to breakfast and everything. (it having been authored by the same man whose work was being shown). while waiting for our table, we looked at the serifs and beautiful arches of each letter. the new word was "cant" as in the angle of holding the pen and paper when doing the lettering. (my pal, incidentally, has the most beautiful hand for calligraphy that i have ever seen). we were excited!
how could we have known that when we got to the campus and looked for the library that we would be greeted with an entirely different "can't" instead? at first, we didn't notice anything unusual; some outdoor theater props and students hanging out, your typical liberal arts college scene. the further we walked, however, we noticed blue people running down the hill. as they got closer, it became evident that they were people wearing nothing but blue paint. lines and lines of students dressed in everything from crowns to clowns...they told us the campus was closed. (ever felt like you stood out in a crowd for looking too normal?) what a new angle this was.
and it was true, the librarian literally would not let us in to look at the art because of a student festival celebrating the end of their semester. "you can't go in", he said. really!?
we might try again, we might not. while i'm practicing with paper and ink in the meantime, the word cant has taken on a whole new meaning...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

tell me a story

"tell me a story about when you were little, daddy!" even with my eyes in a half-closed state, the result of daily traipsing and being four, i would beg for a tale. night after night, i would never tire of peter rabbit (so many times i had it memorized) or tomes of dad growing up on the farm in canada. as an adult thinking back on it, dad was probably tired from working all day, but he never said so, instead taking the time and energy to permanently animate his adventures into my imagination.

i will never forget my third grade teacher, mrs. gibson, reading to us from madeleine l'engle's "wrinkle in time". when we earned enough points, we even got to spend time in the class time machine. sure, it was cardboard, but to us, it was an intergalactic capsule that served to fuel our love of books.

years later in college, a friend called me long-distance, "lanette, i was wondering if you might read me a poem?" she was lonely, far from friends and family. since i still had a phone with an actual cord on it, i pulled it as far as i could, while running my other hand along the spines of books to find just the right one for her. we settled on seamus heaney, if i remember my irish lyricism correctly and, after i read it, she simply said, "thank you, i really needed that" and we said goodbye.

reading aloud is one of my highest pleasures, as is being read to. who says we have to quit asking just because we get older? tell me a story...

Monday, May 2, 2011

universal language

ok, my spanish skills don't exactly even qualify as "remote". i can muster up things like basic greetings, the color yellow and "mi esposo es pisotear par torres" from watching spanish television (translation is something along the lines of a husband being trampled by bulls).

never mind that i grew up surrounded by cousins fluent in the lanugage or that we adopted my sister from nowhere other than bogota, colombia. yes, i remain a french anomoly in my family of origin.

so when my friend and i took our instruments to the park, we met a lovely young lady from south america whose english was, thankfully, flawless. she saw us playing music and happened to be carrying her violin with her. having only owned her instrument for a week, she was delighted to learn tuning, string names and basic postures. music being the universal language that it is, it didn't matter that we were from different countries having a chance meeting in the sun. and it saved me from having to say the only spanish sentence that i know--to which i can only had a hearty merci.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

may day

dear may,

i thought you'd never come. thanks for the lilacs, i noticed.

your girl

Friday, April 29, 2011

bronte's best

highlights of my read in jane eyre thus (and yes i just typed thus) far?

the word "ameliorate". to improve upon or to make better. i love how it rolls off my tongue and plan to use it in ordinary conversation.

jane's epiphany on page 92, "...i sat down and tried to rest. i could not; though i had been on foot all day, i could not now repose an instant; i was too much excited. a phase of my life was closing tonight, a new one opening to-morrow: impossible to slumber in the interval; i must watch feverishly while the change was being accomplished." a woman of action after my own heart.

and what's more, she perfectly describes why i'm not a huge fan of opera. as a new governess, jane watches as young adele shows off her lyrical prowess by singing, " was the strain of a forsaken lady, who, after bewailing the perfidy of her lover, calls pride to her aid; desires her attendant to deck her in the brightest jewels and richest robes, and resolves to meet the false one that night at a ball, and prove to him, by the gaiety of her demeanor, how little his desertion has affected her."

ha! well done once again, charlotte bronte. stay tuned, i'm only on page 112.

Monday, April 25, 2011

before the rocks cry out...

one of the best choruses i've heard this week? it doesn't even use words. easter sunday morning i set my alarm for 5 am on purpose and listened to the birds outside my window for over an hour. tonight? more of the same, only this time joined by the spring frog choir.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

because life wants to be lived

a couple of word-tools that have helped bring meaning to this Passion Week?
the book "the song of the seed: a monastic way of tending the soul" by macrina weiderkehr.

and mozart's requiem. "Rex trememdae majestatis, qui salvandos salva me, fons pietatis/Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona eis requiem. Lux aeterna luceat eis, Domine, cum sanctis tuis in aeternum, quia pius es."

O King of fearful majesty, who all that need Thee savest free, O fount of love, my savior be. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant them rest. Let perpetual light shine upon them, O Lord, in the company of thy saints forever, because Thou art forgiving.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

entry, triumphant

"what you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. it will decide what gets you out of bed in the mornings, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart and what amazes you."--pedro arrupe

Saturday, April 16, 2011

being jane eyre

i knew right where to get it on my shelf at home. the book that is, not the movie. the new "jane eyre" is fine. i understand it's hard to develop character in two hours. it was a good film but in defense of charlotte bronte, i thought there was a bit too much crying. the whole melancholic wandering-over-moors bit, ok. but really, what carries this book is the sparring banter between rochester and jane! i'm sorry, but one visit in high-back chairs next to the fire is not enough time for them to break down the wall of their souls and, ahem, fall in love by the next scene. kudos that dame judi dench shows up as mrs. fairfax; quite redeeming with this critic. here is an excerpt from the book, however, that i would have liked to see more of, "i both wished and feared to see mr. rochester on the day which followed this sleepless night: i wanted to hear his voice again, yet feared to meet his eye." jane herself, chapter 16, page 155. several lovely cinematic moments. and it's got me reading the classic again. if you need me, i'll be out wandering the moors.

only in portland

i haven't seen the documentary "portlandia" yet. is portland weird? absolutely. do i love my city? so much. case in point: where else can you do all of these things within a couple of weeks...find a crafty wonderland by a great coffee shop without even trying...go to a poetry slam...try tasty n' sons for breakfast...plant seed potatoes...see art made out of tree limbs and shoelaces...peruse letterpress stores...plant spring flowers...raise money for foster kids...visit the baby chicks at in a symphony...visit a new church...see the movie "jane eyre"...and ride your bike to work all in a 30-mille radius? only in portland. yes, if portland's weird, then keep me weirder, because i wouldn't live anywhere else.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

new language

at first, a rush of words. and the urgencey to speak them. followed by deep silence. i awoke today listening to the newly formed water-course of my heart. in the place-beyond-words: this language i'm learning.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

face in a book

there is absolutely nothing wrong with facebook; it has benefits. since making the decision not to keep up with everyone social networking style, however, i have found my face in books! instead of the collective times per day it took me to update my status, i have read more than a few books since 2011 began but i've also taken an art class, done more paintings, spent more time outside, made new friends... i also discovered i like the pace of blogging. for me, i can still see pictures posted by fellow-bloggers and what they're up to; things they're thinking about. it's just not as fast-paced and doesn't necessarily include which kind of milk they just put on their cereal (no offense if you just posted that to your social networking site). but it does inhabit a rich world of shared concepts and images which i find interesting and mutual. if you don't check a blog for twenty minutes you don't feel like you missed important details and you can more easily regulate the comments given and received. do i miss out on some great tidbits from the 268 online friends i once had? likely. would i trade it for face to face conversation and books? hardly.

comparison (essay 1 of 5)

the teacher is giving herself an assignment. for every 11 chapters of the aesthetics text i'm reading (which will make 5 short essays) i am going to write on a concept that stood out to me. please comment, interact; that will make my study even more worthwhile! in philosopher david hume's chapter "on the standard of taste" he writes, "it is impossible to continue in the practice of contemplating beauty, without being frequenly obliged to form comparisons between the several species and degrees of excellence, and estimating their proportions to each other." it is true that we naturally compare things, which leads me to wonder if there is not, in fact, such a thing as both 1) universal sense of aesthetic (as humans) and 2) particular sense (personal preference). are there some things that all people, by nature of being created in God's image, find beautiful? i also wonder if, in the act of comparing itself, does one object have to become less favored? why is one model said to be "more beautiful' than another? or one piece of art "far better" than one next to it. art criticism (describe, analyze, interpret, judge) aside, could not one, for example praise both the blossoms of a cherry tree and those of a dandilion based on the essence of what each is created to be? utilizing senses, the smell of the former would, i think, be more universally appealing, but might the latter turn up better in someone's personal taste? it is also possible to qualify by saying "i prefer the smell of this and the color of that". as our tastes change with time, so does nature change. poet gerard manley hopkins writes, "He fathers forth whose beauty is past change: praise Him." in comparison as well as change, we perceive loss. could it be that if a Creator who embodies Beauty stays the same is able to make a creation that grows and shifts, that change was intended to appeal to our senses; inform our taste and be used for gain? it would be dull at best if nothing changed. from fall leaves to clouds and time to stars...when did we learn to compare? what about beauty would be different if we didn't?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

spring perspective

jogging, sun on my face

pausing only for beauty.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

to live in this world

poet mary oliver wrote, "to live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal, to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it and when the time comes to let it go, to let it go." she also wrote, "someone i loved once gave me a box of darkness. it took me a long time to realize that this too, was a gift." here is an art offering in that regard. even though it is four years old, it represents spring and this lenten season that is upon us; those we cannot, will not, forget...but whom we learn to love in new ways through our sense of memory.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


we interrupt this lilting discourse on nature to bring you, well, more nature. rhythm, i'm convinced, is innate to us. ok, maybe not always a "sense of it" in terms of being equally gifted, but we've all got it in us to some level.
"stomp!" is a romp of a show that had me at least dancing in my chair (as much as i could without going completely wild or flailing enough to seriously injure those around me. they really should look into a couple of aisles reserved for all-out dancing). anyway, if you ever get the chance to see this, you will never look at or listen to ordinary household objects in quite the same way...brilliance!

curly willow

i can feel spring. actual warmth, upturned faces of daffodils, the creek rushing...a time of year to bring the outside in. first thing in the morning instead of music, i can worship along with nature. if i open the window at just the right time, a veritable symphony begins and i can sing along. at night, the owls and frogs bring their own rhythm so that my day feels literally wrapped in praise from start to finish.
making a "boquet" out of curly willow is also a fun seaonal way to spruce up after a long winter. to my surprise, this bunch here--even without water--began to sprout buds of green leaves in my room! harbingers of longer days, speak to me of hope!

lost in art

this is a simple shot of my current art table space. since giving away a large percentage of my possessions when i moved, i was able to turn this second closet into a small art studio. i enjoy times when i can start the day with coffee and just get lost in a project here. besides the chair where i read looking out over the green countryside, this is my favorite place to sit when i'm home.

i started a folder called "studio dreams", filling it with any and all pages from magazines that inspired me. i can envision a place in the heart of wine country where people of all ages can come and be creative. yes, come to the long, beautifully lit table. get lost in art to find yourself.

welding 101

with access to a digital camera, i'm able to take some photos of back projects and share them with you now. this monstrosity (aka: first attempt at welding) is what happened last summer when my friend trusted me in his studio. i was going for a kind of key-holder of sorts. what happened instead was the smell of burning metal and more than a few sparks flying. again, i had to be patient with myself and try not to compare my work with his. he has, after all, been perfecting his art longer than i've been alive. he has installation pieces all over portland. but if you need any weirdly fused metal shapes that look like they collided with an alien space ship, well, i'm your woman.

Friday, March 4, 2011

learning for life

in order to really be the best art teacher i can be, i have to keep learning myself. give me a challenge, a new way of looking at something any day! for a couple of years now, i have wanted to take an art class in encaustics. if the prospect of just learning a new word each day excites me, then the idea of learning in the realm of creativity, well, i'm in orbit.

this class was a blast! the teacher was both knowlegable and experienced, giving just the right blend of demonstration and play time. the four hours absolutely flew by. i, of course, expected to be able to make something beautiful on my first day, but tried to be patient with myself since i was learning something new. here are three examples of my wax layers fused onto boards. the possibilities are endless; you can collage into the layers with paper or metallics...i plan to keep learning this!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

dear french press

dear french press,

when your glass body cracked and broke against the kitchen sink tonight, well, it was like losing a friend. i just stood there, dish gloves still on, in disbelief. then a "n-o-oooooooo" escaped my lips and i held you there for a while, picking up your pieces. i didn't realize that not only were you my favorite kitchen tool par excellence, but we started every day together for months, the hot water kettle whistling our romance. then the stirring, the perfect percolation time followed by the smooth fit of the press against the sides...leaving only the perfect italian sludge of grounds beneath. on saturdays, we spent the whole day lounging side by side. i guess you could say i was addicted to you even more than the beverage you brewed. your simple elegance and ability to withstand the pressure of it all; so beautiful. i do have a coffee maker with filters i'm sorry to say, for the time being. i know that must sound like swear words coming from me--particularly at a time like this. how could i?! tomorrow morning won't be the same without you. all i can say is i will have to get another, a close relative of yours perhaps...but there is no replacing you.

love, lanette
p.s. for those of you following the "i'm sorry for your loss" coffee drama here, a dear friend has loaned me her french press in the interim, saying "friends don't let friends use filters". i couldn't agree more.
p.p.s. a fun clerk at a nearby kitchen store informed me that if i still had the frame, i didn't have to buy an entirely new press, just the glass. "there's a reason you missed garbage day" she called out after me. and yes, it's true, the lost has been found. washed, but found.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

theory & practice

reading socrates has me thinking. if you were scheduled for surgery, who would be the expert, the philosopher who theorized about the procedure or the surgeon? "the surgeon" would be my immediate answer. this is all very "chicken and egg" however, because without the ideas that brought forth the schools of thought on medicine, the doctor would have had nothing to study.

my personality inhabits a world of ideas. while i am quick to take action on many of them, i have found more traction by being in community with people different from myself and vice-versa. case in point, there's a time to write poems about doing something and a time just to do that thing, whatever it might be.

take engineering, for example. there are designers and builders. sometimes the builder will look at the plans and say, "we don't want to have to bend this rebar, so we're going to build it differently" and it can work just fine. other times, however, the designers will say, "that is not going to work and this is why..." so, it seems to me you could drill a post effectively and not know why it works OR you could design plans but not know how to drill a post. could a person be proficient in both?

which led me down another road of inquiry in terms of knowlege and understanding. do i have to know why the baking soda works in a cake in order to bake one? no. might it be interesting to know? of course, especially if the recipe went awry or i needed to problem solve a creative solution in the kitchen. does the housewife sometimes have a better grasp on home remedies from helping sick chlidren than a nurse who has just graduated? yes. would it be ideal to have both the understanding and the experience? perhaps.

following the socratic method here, would mastering both theory and practice then entail a new level of acquired wisdom?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

truth, beauty & goodness

for valentine's day, i received a love gift! the book "aesthetics: a comprehensive anthology". i've read the first four chapters (overview, plato, socrates...) i've unknowingly here gone straight to the top of the information food chain. it seems this is the compilation used to teach courses on the subject.
i'm on chapter 7 and couldn't be more in love with the challenge of it all. it's enlivening to read of philosophies and historic thought that then, in my mind, can boil down to a love affair with the beauty of God. i see it, hear it, feel it everywhere!

Monday, February 14, 2011

the art of savoring

if you're heading to the oregon coast, you've got to make a stop at EVOO in cannon beach. it stands for extra virgin olive oil and offers the best cooking classes, ambience and food around. not only was it absolutely the most delicious 5-course meal i've ever tasted, but chefs bob & lenore are down to earth, funny, and willing to take creative risks with both preparation and presentation of their entrees.
i also learned several things about food preparation. 1) start with organic, locally grown fresh food. this seems obvious, but believe me, when i tasted the grass-fed beef it made me never want to go back to corn-fed! 2) heat pans before putting the oil in 3) ice cold water to keep the color in green beans 4) mis en place, french for efficiency and doing everything you can ahead of time 5) tricks to buy time when cooking risotto 5) coriander adds flavor so you can use less salt....the list goes on.
....basically, prepare for an experience in fun, in food, in "savor".