Saturday, June 28, 2014


ok, i'm doing whatever i want. which, right now, because i can, is...reading. max watman is funny. his book "harvest: field notes from a far-flung pursuit of real food" chronicles his mishaps with hunting, raising beef (how to lose a steer in three easy steps), making cheese, keeping chickens (see also rage against racoons), gardening, fishing and pretty much everything that leaves him flummoxed in regards to sustainable eating. you've gotta respect the man's renaissance hands-on approach. he reminds me that i come from that long--and i would like to think effectual--line of teachers, pastors and farmers. and that each profession, having tried them all in my own small ways, have moments that make you wonder why it is, exactly, you do what you do? and moments--many more, i might add--of remembering why. gardening, like using watercolors, renders us a bit out of control. for a gal that likes her ducks in a row, i have to also admit that i do like not knowing exactly how things will turn out sometimes; for the same reason that i don't want a smart phone because i know that taking that wrong turn can actually end up finding a really great restaurant or being lost for a while can help you discover a great view you would otherwise have missed. so i paused after chapter five to go outside and survey the fruit of my own endeavors. farming, he says, is not a backyard picnic. he writes, for example, that you haven't really raised chickens until you've moved their lifeless body from the hen house with a vengeance for their predator. how could he have known that BEFORE i read that chapter, i had done the very same thing?! (although in our poor chicken's case it looked to be from natural causes. i made sure to double check that their coop door was tightly shut after sunset, though, just in case.) same with surveying my garden. after raising careful starts from seed in pods and transferring them to the ground, fussing over them for just the right balance of everything that makes carrots happy, i realize i have no idea what makes carrots happy. instead of three beautiful rows that i can share, i have three carrots. or, rather, three weird mounds of carrot-like things. this brings up the need to thin. thinning is the hard but necessary part of gardening shared only with the seeming brutuality of predator-prey in the wilderness that keeps species naturally balanced. while some rows show nothing where flourishing plants should be, in other places such as the sunflowers or cauliflower i have to pull up scores of perfectly good seedlings so they don't crowd out the others. ironic, also given that neglected compost can sprout volunteer plants healthy enough to rival jack's beanstalk while the expensive organic seeds sometimes don't come up at all. i get up and brush the dirt off my knees thinking it would be easier just to go to the farmer's market. but, like max writes, if i just went to the farmer's market, i wouldn't have dirt on my hands now would i and having dirt on my hands is and always has been a satisfying element of doing things myself since i was a little girl. i can't let someone else have all the fun of raising my food. it's, well, fulfilling. the tomatoes and spuds are doing fine, so i comfort myself with the fact that i will, at the very least, be able to cook and share those with people i love. which is why, i decided, i bother to do anything at all. pastoring? teaching? playing at being a farmer? because i love people. so yes, the rain falls and crops drown or dry up and some seeds take while others don't. maybe farmers are just reformed gamblers with seeds in hand instead of poker chips. there's no way to know and that's the beauty of the whole thing and the risk of what may come that's always worth it to me: harvest.

stack o' summer

it wouldn't be the season without a stack of materials from the library. as quoted to a friend, "when i'm in the library, i have three main sensations: an at-home feeling like anything is possible, excitement to learn and downright greed." here are some tomes i've just finished that you may want to look into: "snow" by maxenee fermine (lyric/fable), "maisie dobbs" by jacqueline winspear (detective fiction), "yellow eyes of crocodiles" by katherine pancol (fiction), "dinner: a love story" by jenny rosenstrach (cookbook), "a walk in the woods" by bill bryson (non-fiction), and "under the egg" by laura marx fitzgerald (young adult fiction). i also saw the movie "fault in our stars" based on the book i have yet to read by john green and it was very well rendered...tears at the beauty of it and only confirms the desire to live life 150%!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

POG and the kindness of strangers

wordnest girl became island girl during her first 12 days in oahu, hawaii! there being many things i could tell you about, ranging from marvel comic theme night at mormon family camp to making conversation with the AAA mechanic, real life and bliss collide into one perfect experience or, what bill bryson calls "low-level ecstacy, something we could all use a little more of in our lives." low-level, yes, because my heart is easily made glad, but also high-level, like my first view of kailua beach. i actually had to sit down and catch my breath. or my first time snorkeling which involved underwater beauty screams and no small amount of inhaled salt water. what really blew me away was the hospitality of my friend and her ohana, or hawaiian family. they drove me everywhere, 93 FM songs playing "new day" while we passed jack johnson's house, the dole plantation and famous surf beach pipeline. you don't have to be blood-related to be ohana and their first question before hanging out for hours to "talk story", or catch up on life, is always "have you eaten?" which of course they don't wait for you to answer. i'm a good eater, which i think they enjoyed by the way they ordered and bought me my first sweet pork and rice, POG (passion fruit, orange, guava juice), introduced me to taro, delicious poke (raw tuna), papaya, butter mochi (deep quote of the week, "butter mochi. it's really...buttery"), boiled peanuts, apple bananas, acai bowls and, believe it or not, spam. the eating tour of the island proved delicious: high-end, low-end, it didn't matter, it was GOOD. and then there was the kindness of strangers: take your time, do you need a ride to the beach?, have the rest of the time on my parking meter, i'll be your snorkel buddy, do you have dinner plans? on the flight home i had already consumed all my reading material, so the man in the seat next to me gave me his copy of bill bryson's "walk in the woods" and wrote their address in it, in case i was ever in australia. hospitality, food, books...speaking my universal language.

Friday, June 6, 2014

artist's journal workshop...

...creating your life in words and pictures (by cathy johnson) is as essential to summer as drink rimmer and spf! i love that the author makes a distinction between artist journals and art journals. there is a lot of material out there about art journals: altered books, calligraphy, steam punk, stamps, scraps, etc. but an artist journal, "a personal journal kept by the creative person that is you. you are an artist and a fully rounded, creative human being with plans, questions, answers, needs and goals, both ordinary and sublime. you explore, you respond, you worry, you delight in the moment--you run out of tea or eggs or need to remember a phone number or what happened at the meeting you attended--into the journal it goes! did you know that the word 'journal' originally was meant to describe a trip, a day-to-day record of travels, outward or inward?"

all the more tender

every time i'm in the kitchen lately for some reason this phrase keeps going through my mind, "things keep cooking long after they're heated". as far as i can tell it's nothing i read or even consciously was thinking about. it's just there when i'm stirring or simmering, reminding me that less is more. when i'm in a hurry, i forget this and put something back in the oven hurriedly or zap it again in the microwave. it tends to dry out or become overdone. but when i'm patient, i simply remove food from the heat source and put a lid on it for a while, allowing time for it to finish cooking from the inside-out. it turns out perfectly! it's no surprise that the most tender meats, for example, are marinated for a minimum of 24 hours and baked slowly at a lower temperature. i remember the best Thanksgiving turkey i ever had was my cousin Gloria's. she's from south america and knows how to take her time. the meat was perfectly basted with olive oil, rosemary, sage, and thyme; moist and tender like i've never tasted before. it's like that with any meaningful practice in our lives, too. i find myself grateful that God is patient enough with me to take things deeply and slowly--as He does with things that really matter--baking me and you, if you will, in His love mercifully at a lower temperature so we can handle it and for often a longer time than we might have thought of. but, once you taste the dish there's no going back, you never want to rush the process again! even 10 minutes a day of mindful awareness/breath prayers is known to change brain chemistry for the better, calm the body and bring perspective. just 10 minutes!? worries dissipate, gratitude comes to the surface, the heart stays soft and seasoned in spite of or even because of the challenging opportunities of the day. things that used to dry me out or overdo me fall away and i am left all the more tender. because things keep cooking long after they're heated.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

the liturgists

these guys are worth taking a listen to: particularly "vapor", as it is very perspective-giving!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

ann b. davis

(another moment of silence please for the funniest brady bunch housekeeper...ever!) yes, folks, wordnest has digressed to this...but you've got to admit it beats following the kardashians. maybe i need some stronger cold medicine.

under the tuscan sun

sometimes you just have to watch "under the tuscan sun" again. (see also woman who never intended to buy a run-down tuscan villa). thank you, frances mayes, for putting ideas into my head...they go nicely with the books i'm reading, "blood, bones & butter: the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef" by gabrielle hamilton (i never intended to open a restaurant) and "breathless: an american girl in paris" by nancy miller (how did a nice jewish girl end up here?). so, along those lines, would it surprise you to know that i discovered artist residencies everywhere from italy to oregon that will feed, house and pay you to write and draw?! or that there really is a chateau for sale in the south of france right now. a gorgeous, once-in-a-lifetime fully designed and operative yoga retreat center. no kidding, you can look it up right now. funny, they don't list the price. guess i'll have to go check it out in person...