Saturday, April 28, 2012


what started as me teaching the younger grades a south american art lesson turned into hours of fun for me! paper weaving. how simple. and yet, like so many things, once you know the basics, the possibilities are endless. words, paper, sounds, ideas many things to weave.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

lectio eclectica

i've always loved the fact that most monks read the daily newspaper right alongside their prayer books. right now, i have several materials spread out around me: farm guide, Bible, novel, financial index, children's story, recipe clippings, travel book, and city magazine. i think it makes for interesting living because of new connections and spunky ideas. (did you know that may 14-18 is national ride your bike to work day? or that there is a free architectural tour of historic homes on may 20? those kind of things.) while reading the local "oregon's bounty" farm stand guide tonight for example, i learned that the word asparagus actually comes from the Greek for "sprout" or "shoot". (i didn't know that, but any child would i think if they've watched veggie tales, see also asparagus junior who spouts, "asparagoso, from the Greek!") at any rate, this was timely because when i opened portland monthly and it contained a recipe for asparagus orzo, i already knew that april-june heralds this spring vegetable. as my posts will attest to from this time last year, i love knowing the growing seasons and have been thinking alot about how we measure them. not-so-side-rant: in 2012 the bee in my bonnet is the euro-american schedule that dictates 5 days of work and 2 of rest. *might there be other ways? (*see also the french-lanette way of 3 on and 4 off) and january first is ok i guess, but what if we measured time in light calendars? that way on december 21st we would have june 21st and longer days to look forward to. let's add a children's book into the reading material here from my shelf. "i'm in charge of celebrations" by byrd baylor (illustrated by peter parnall) says it this way: "friend, i've saved my new year celebration to tell you about last. it's a little different from the one most people have. it comes in spring. to tell the truth, i never did feel like my new year started january first. to me, that's just another winter day. i let my year begin when winter ends and morning light comes earlier, the way it should. that's when i feel like starting new. i wait until the white-winged doves are back from mexico, and wildflowers cover the hills, and my favorite cactus blooms. it always makes me think i ought to bloom myself." end of rant. so, here's to shoots and blooms of all kinds in their own due season. from my reading corner to yours, what does your eclectic printed pile look like and where is it leading you?

of filibustering and frissons

have you ever had that nagging feeling you were in the presence of filibustering but just didn't know quite how to elaborate on the experience? in addition to being a fun word to say out loud, filibustering, i learned from annie proulx in her novel "bird cloud", originated from the dutch word for pirate--vrijbuiter--(wouldn't you have guessed that too?) or, a freebooter seeking prizes. other languages borrowed the word until the spaniards converted it to "filibustero". it entered american english in the 19th century as adventurers tried to seize personal kingdoms in latin america. these rouge efforts were discussed at length in the U.S. senate, and comparisons were not lost there. (the tactic had also been used by the roman senator cato the young). uncontrolled talkers began to be described as "filibustering" and gradually the word took on the meaning of causing a delaying action by taking advantage of the senatorial right to speak interminably on any subject without restriction. the other word that intrigued me was "frisson" which i learned is from the french meaning a brief moment of intense reaction; a recognition of excitement or sometimes even terror. so, putting these together, now you can simply say, "a frisson went through my veins at the boring harangues akin to obstructionist oratory."

Thursday, April 12, 2012


i'm intrigued by a new book out, "imagine: how creativity works" by jonah lehrer. his thesis is all about loving what we do and doing it in such a way that draws others who love what they do...resulting in work that feels like play and newly unleashed potential. he just spoke in portland and i missed that lecture. did you go/have you read the book? what do you think?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

room for surprises

today, easter is just beginning. fifty days ahead of us, seasonally speaking. had you asked me three days ago what my easter plans were, i wouldn't have had a clue. which is rare for me, because i like to make the most meaning out of each day and generally have a sense for the flow of events or activities. friday ended up a most joyous day filled with fun (which is another blog post in itself!) concluded by coloring beautiful bright easter eggs at a friend's kitchen counter. yesterday it was having time to sit down at the piano and write a "spring song" literally inspired by the 6:30 am songbird outside my window. and today as the sun rose over the silhouette of mount hood, i drove up to bald peak state park (which provides a stunning view of the valley) for their easter sunrise service. people have met there faithfully for over 80 years, which i pondered while standing under the same fir trees. i recongnized a friend and so gathered with them amid the early morning crowd, nudging in toward the center bonfire to sing along with a simple guitar. the speaker, a police chaplain, spoke of hope and gave the following acrostic: healing, optimism (i love that one!), peace and eternal life. coming down from the mountain, i decided to go for a run (thinking about how the disciples ran to the tomb) and then walk a local labyrinth. For You are good and Your mercies endure forever. You are beautiful. You remember that we are but dust. I'm alive because You're alive. these and other phrases lingered with my breath and cadence of steps. a friend happened to already be there when i arrived and afterwards she spoke of the "ketubah" (a jewish marriage contract) and also the hebrew word "yada" (to know) and how Jesus' sacrifice is like that contract; for the purpose of knowing us intimiately, face to face. thankful to find the spirituality of breakfast and stumptown coffee by this time (did someone say worship?), i read old testament connections to the new testament story of redemption, ultimately landing in psalm 136:8 & 9 "...the sun to rule by day, for His lovingkindness is everlasting; the moon and the stars to rule by night, for His lovingkindness is everlasting." now for the courage to live out these truths intentionally. as i write, friends have invited me to a lamb supper. it's true, i may not have had easter plans, but Jesus had plans for me; good surprises for you and i long before the creation of the world. (*original artwork by caroline coolidge brown, agnus dei, 2011 mixed media)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

eyebrow windows

i've always loved design. i used to spend sunny saturdays in college walking around town taking pictures of historic homes. yesterday on a city walk, i learned a new architectural term: eyebrow windows. i am excited to learn more so that when i see a row of distinctly different homes, i can name the style and building date. right now i only know i'm not wild about columns (unless essential to a porch and very well done) and somewhere in my archives i can recall the terms doric, gothic and corinthian. but i have miles to walk and books to read before i can speak with any intelligence on the subject. do you have a favorite architecture or design book to recommend?


loved this short blurb on a shoe box: "create, play and care" and loved that it was also written in french, "creer, jouer, prendre a coeur...c'est une facon de vivre" (it's a way of life).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

palm sunday

this bread i break
by dylan thomas

this bread i break was once the oat
this wine upon a foreign tree
plunged in its fruit;
man in the day or wind at night
laid the crops low, broke the grape's joy.
once in this wine the summer blood
knocked in the flesh that decked the vine,
once in this bread
the oat was merry in the wind;
man broke the sun, pulled the wind down.
this flesh you break, this blood you let
make desolation in the vein,
were oat and grape
born of the sensual root and sap;
my wine you drink, my bread you snap.