Friday, August 30, 2013

bts srl sos asap

back to school
summer reading list
save our ship!
as soon as possible... other words, just because school is starting doesn't mean summer reading (or a summer state of mind for that matter) has to end!  au contraire, literary comrades, right now my labor day weekend library pile includes art book "drawn in" by julia rothman, cookbook "friends at my table" by alice hart, novel "fin & lady" by cathleen schine, and travelogue "voyage of a summer sun" by robin cody.  the sketchbooks are vast and varied, plus julia's own work is amazing (check out  alice hart's book has the gift of beauty and hospitality that i flipped through (or rather drooled through) preparing to host a fall harvest meal.  cathleen schine is quick and witty, i couldn't stop reading and even stayed up too late just to finish her book...the plot never gets hung up or snagged anywhere, it keeps moving...and she introduces an "I" perspective/mystery character about three-fourths of the way through and lets you discover who it is:  brilliant! and i'm really identifying with robin cody's canoe journey of the entire columbia river...many of his discoveries are familiar to me because of my traversing the willamette.  for the first time, i also admit interest in the adventures of Huckleberry Finn because of affinities with the mississippi river.  what's on your fall book list?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

the jump-off creek

i'm in a woman vs. wilderness theme here, must have been the getting to find our campsite via kayak adventure.  so right now i'm reading "the jump-off creek" by molly gloss (a PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist) of which william kittredge says, "an instant classic...a truly beautiful piece of American storytelling".  i agree.  i find myself feeling pretty handy at the prospect of the great outdoors, but then again, we have REI.  could i REALLY survive/homestead/pioneer?  as i was drifting off to sleep i came up with a list in my mind of what i think i could do and what classes i'd need to take from the grown up wilderness scouts of america.  pretty good at list: general resourcefulness, map-following, animal prints and tracking, first aid, canoeing, fishing, cooking, planting a garden, care & feeding of animals, arranging/beautifying, washing, sewing, chopping wood and building fires--including but not limited to candle-making.  ambience and light are important! the help-me, i'm homesteading for the first time list:  lumber & building skills, how to shoot a gun, knot-tying, various cuts of meat and preservation techniques, water-proofing, and pretty much everything else i haven't thought of yet.  i think it would be fun to get to choose supplies to start with (coffee!) and see how long i could go (see also the character Sam in "my side of the mountain") and i suppose for the first few months of my wilderness experience (spring or summer, thank you very much) it would be helpful to be near civilization.  but what about you?  what would you want to learn if you were playing at you vs. the wilderness? 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


waldo lake is nothing if not ultraoligotrophic!  limnologists said so.  thanks to my kayaking partner and my word-finder, i now can share with you that limnology is the study of "physical phenomena of lakes and fresh waters" and that ultraoligotrophic basically means water so pure and nearly distilled that it is actually too poor in plant nutrients to support a lot of fish.  what it is not poor in is beauty!  because no motors are allowed and the fishing isn't good, what you get is a massive pristine wilderness.  the water is so hard to describe.  depending on the depths, which you can actually see to, my best attempt would be "indigo blue mixed with green with a white prismic quality running through it".  when i put my white padde in, for example, the whiteness intensified, as with bleach. we were self-contained units for three days and two nights, paddling our way from campsite to campsite discovering the as-yet unspoiled piece of nature that even norman rockwell would envy.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

river love

the secret of the green

here is today's creative work:  a three-piece vertical, mixed-media collage of our very own willamette river!  we have summer days of freedom and time to synthesize to thank for this...following months (actually three years, all told...and more to come!) of inspirational kayaking and a more recent reading of luci shaw's book "breath for the bones; art, imagination and spirit:  reflections on creativity and faith".  creativity is a paradox; it is both fast and slow.  fast in that it all comes out at once.  slow in that it is formed for months below the surface.  inspiration?  another paradox: at once holy and completely mundane.  holy because of being divine image-bearers.  mundane because i started off in the garden which led me inside to clean which led me to sort and shred all the old papers in my file cabinet which led me to find old maps which led me to think "aha!  i could make that collage of the willamette river i've been thinking about".  so on it goes...the quotes on each piece are as follows, "...they are great crystals of light on the surface of the earth...pure, beyond a market value, how much more beautiful than our lives, how much more transparent than our characters are they!" henry david thoreau.  (surrounded by words:  chinook, wild, confluence of the sacred, salmon).  "...the pioneers--they, we--walk out into a world we think makes sense, we feel at home; meaning breaks off the surface, floating...what will draw our children back?"  kathleen dean moore (words: upstream, falls, navigate by listening, great heron, paddle with the current or against).  "i will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; i will make the wilderness a pool of water, and dry land springs of water."  isaiah 41:18 and "...if we stood quiet and listened, we could hear the gurgle of water running through the open, stone-lined irrigation ducts that criss-crossed the city in every direction.  water was the secret of the green."  luci shaw (words:  osprey, atlas of design, silvered banks, eagle).   

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

your name here

a shameless advertisement for your local library, dear readers.  i have my personal favorite, it's true they may not all be created equal, except in the most important thing:  free books! chances are, if you follow this blog, you probably already have a card in your wallet or purse (i'll pause while you doublecheck) and i had the distinct pleasure of reaquainting someone with their lending system extraordinaire this very week.  names shall be withheld, but my inquisition went something like this, "so ______ when, exactly, was the last time you were here?"  (they couldn't remember, but it was in the years category).  "so do you still have a card?"  (they didn't) "ID, please, i'm here to change all that!" and adding a "don't worry, it's free" i personally marched them up to the service desk.  twenty minutes later, my protoge not only was a card-carrying member once again (i made a trumpet with my fist and sang a victory song, but quietly, this was a library after all and had a small induction party for two) but had three entire books in their arms that they were interested in and had looked up themselves.  you know the whole leading a horse to water thing?  i took that a few steps further and just decided to be the horse who drinks tons and tons in front of all the other horses, again shamelessly, singing (or i suppose neighing) all the exemplary qualities of the library's waters.  i forgot to tell the new devotee to actually drink (read the books in their arms) it was implied in my *enthusiasm. *which i might add, if bottled would be more than enough to constitute a re-opening of the library on thursdays, sigh. credit cards?  they're a bad idea.  coffee punch cards?  a very good idea.  but a library card?  now that's worth signing up for. 

got salt?

here's the book i was telling you about--isn't it pretty?  i think i would be one of the people mark was referring to who, once having purchased a block, would be afraid to use it.  i'd likely want to showcase it as a piece of art. my first encounters with salt, however, were about as sophisticated as watching grandpa sprinkle it for at least 3 minutes, forming a small everest, atop his meat and potatoes...and my backyard chore of using it to kill slugs in the garden.  i graduated to the oh-so-hip level of switching the salt and sugar in restaurants for april fool's day (if you ended up with saline coffee, i apologize, it may have been my fault!).  thinking as an adult about salt and how a little goes a long way, depending on the moisture of the food involved, i thought about seasoning and grace and what kind of person i want to be.  Jesus knew about the properties of salt; to think that we can flavor, clean, and preserve with our lives...and i've uncovered a few things entering my fortieth year of life.  1) we are in charge of our own happiness.  i know it sounds simple, but it's true.  no one else, not your boss or your spouse or your kids and friends, but YOU.  we don't really get to decide what happens to us, but i am more and more convinced of our control over what shapes us; how we think in response to life. salt, as bitterman was saying--like diamonds--is the result of huge pressure over great amounts of time.  and it's mined, hacked at really, in huge chunks before it's refined into lovely slabs such as these.  it goes through testing to see what grade or quality it is--will it be for serving on, warming only or being heated to high temperatures for searing meats?  2) shake it off--like coaches often tell athletes, what looks like a mess isn't always so bad. salt has to be cleaned, but it has a surprisingly long life as a chemical compound.  his book has tips for what to do when it appears to be past its prime, which i love for the resourcefulness of it all...don't just throw it out, be creative!  3) joy is infectious (so is negativity) don't be afraid to surround yourself with people you like who you want to be like!  this is not to say that we don't need to stretch ourselves or share with differently-minded people...on the contrary, choosing well who you spend the most time with can't help but season every interaction you have from the inside out, on the community, acquaintance or stranger level.  got salt? 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

day four pedal girl i made up for it (the car use, that is) by biking the fanno creek trail all the way to the beaverton city library and farmer's market!  sampled hot sauces, looked at figs, drooled at cheeses...then returned a library book (erin mckean's "the secret lives of dresses") and got a new book and movie for the panniers before heading home ("take good care of the garden and the dogs: family, friendships, and faith in small-town alaska" by heather lende and dvd "happythankyoumoreplease").  i'm going to miss all this daily biking...not that i can't still ride, but life speed will pick up a bit in august with the approaching school year.  even though these lovely open-ended, externally agenda-less days of summer will give way to more full schedules and the "need" to drive to and fro, there are still time cushions to ride to in-service, maybe even jury duty?  i still want to try taking my bike on the commuter train and trimet, for example.  and there are many nice days in september and october where i could do my park & bike routine (drive the big hill between home and work and bike the rest of the flat way, get to school early and change into teaching clothes).  in the beginning of my experiment, my goal was to be totally carless for a week.  i flexed that into being ok with occasionally driving as long as i biked somewhere every day.  i've noticed it in my improved leg muscles and in my wallet $ cutting the cost of gas/mileage.  yesterday after my ride i was too tired to bike all the way to dundee and back to check my cats and pick up my mail, so i drove...and in one day i put more miles on my car than i had all week and i realized i ordinarily drive that much every day without even thinking about it.  needless to say, i'm enjoying my experiment and wishing it was reality!  so tonight, i bike to church.  and tomorrow, one more trip to the grocery store and library.  the more i ride, the more thankful i am that someone was brilliant enough to invent the bicycle. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

biker chick, day three

so (sigh) i had to use my car.  until i'm properly outfitted for trimet carrying night riding, i thought it wise.  and i have to tell you that even after only a couple of days it was strange being behind the wheel of such a lugging, exhaust-emitting machine that i didn't get to power.  my legs felt left out.  for such a car freak (i drool over certain makes and models; to reign myself in i tell myself that all cars are alike: a mere aesthetic rearrangement of useless, rusted scrap metal waiting to happen, and this helps for a while) i am more and more dissatisfied with the whole idea of "having" to own a vehicle and all the expense that goes into keeping up appearances and function.  so, remiss, i drove into portland, found a lovely parking spot, paid forty cents for it and made my way to powell's, city of books.  on my way, i spied a record shop; perfect place to inquire after viola rock, i thought, ask the people who sell the music.  a bearded, bespectacled man behind the counter asked me "wassup?" and when i started with, "i was wondering if you knew..." he interrupted me with "whoa, whoa, not so chipper there, tone it down, i'm working sober!"  "ok," i began again, "portland is known for its espresso afterall," i chimed...before asking about local band venues. that proving somewhat fruitless (and not wanting to stay to find out if he was more helpful when working not-sober), i headed to hear mark bitterman talk about salt.  can't you do better for a friday night? you may be wondering.  truth is, to hear mark talk about food IS friday night entertainment.  he, local owner of The Meadow on Mississippi, which specializes in salts, sauces, wine and chocolate (and is opening a new location on NW 23rd!) expounded on his new book all about salt block cooking. he teaches like poetry, telling stories along the way about trips to salt mines across europe and croatia.  he looked younger in person than he had when i saw him on tv the same morning at the gym, now wearing "remodel" garb for his new shop and looking like he could use a *drink (*see also record shop owner).  from there, i took in a modern movie version of "much ado about nothing".  modern dress, black and white filming, full-on shakespeare.  at first i wasn't sure if they were going to pull it off, but it worked and we all gave it a round of applause.  my legs still wanting to pedal, i settled for walking back to my waiting scrap metal and bid it carry me home to a new day where neither bike nor legs would be jilted like shakespearean lovers:  saturday. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

urban experiment, day two

today in carless land was fun as well:  yoga mat + pannier=fitness!  i biked to the local gym and was going to use the free 3-day guest pass i had printed; but because i live so far away (wine country where there are no gyms!) and am not a local, i paid for a visit, which was i maximized it...steam sauna, dry rolled up the mat and biked back home again to where my cucumber water (it's really good) was waiting for me.  because it's a friday and during the school year i would usually be at work, i took note of who was at the gym...a lot of retired people with their personal trainers and i guess the rest of the young folks were either on their lunch break, independently wealthy, or have fridays off!  maybe some are teachers like me.  at any rate, it was me and a lot of grandmas (and a couple of grandpas) doing downward dog pose and warrior...after class, they were talking about their next trip to hawaii, things like that.  part of the fun of this urban experiment is the people-watching/time of day demographic (how does the other half live?) my next challenge, eek i might have to use my car, is how to meet a friend to go out tonight after it's dark.  headlamp + panniers=???  i'll keep you posted...namaste.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

urban experiment, day one

it seems fitting to begin august with something new:  my urban experiment.  while it's still summer and time is on my side, i'm trying a week of living in the suburbs and seeing how long i can go without driving my car.  i love everything about where i already live in the country and i discovered i can bike places, it's just a little dicier getting there--less traffic in wine country, but also less biking lanes; not so conducive to ditching the vehicle.  last night i realized that i could just hop on my bike and ride to the park, scoping my environment, even if it was approaching dusk, not something i can do at home.  and then i started today by returning my library books, taking great satisfaction at riding up to the drive-up return boxes, i might add.  next was rolling over to the closest trimet connection, realizing that if i needed to go into the city, i could either park my bike there or take it with me and continue riding.  groceries?  not a problem!  with borrowed panniers, i strolled the aisles of new seasons and filled them with *milk, yogurt and coffee, complete with a french baguette sticking up out of the side!  *all a european really needs afterall (thanks to the country, i am my own farmer's market of fruits and vegetables, so purchase of those has gone way way down for a few months!  the chickens will help with the egg factor--harder to bike without breaking those).  i returned home errands done, food stocked and fully exercised for the day; what's not to love about that!?