Thursday, November 27, 2014

the artisan soul

just a few of my favorite quotes so far from "the artisan soul:  crafting your life into a work of art" by erwin raphael mcmanus...

"with all things artisan, their ingredients are simple and pure; pure in their essence and everything goes in the direction of simplicity.  the process (not merely the product) defines what is crafted and created."

"great is about execution and achievement, good is about essence and ethos.  the artisan soul aspires to do great work but never neglects the importance of being inspired by all that is good and beautiful."

"this is the courage of the artisan--to know ourselves and be true to that knowlege.  the artisan rejects all that makes us false and takes the huge risk of being true.  to embrace our authentic selves and live in that raw expression of being fully human is our greatest risk and our richest reward."

happiness doubled

"i would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."  g.k. chesterton

Sunday, November 16, 2014

things that fall out of books

i think someone has already done this idea, making a book out of things that fall out of books, that me that's part of what gives novels another layer of life:  who owned them, how did they use them, what did they write in them and...what falls out if you give the spine a gentle shake and flutter?

my mother recently gave me a copy of "the garden encyclopedia" which is not just any gardening book because it belonged to my great-grandma, who i'm named after, nettie cole.  the physical pages are holding up quite well considering she really used it and it was published in 1936.

out fell two things:  1) a recipe for natural pesticides in my great-grandmother's writing and 2) part of a letter from a friend of hers.

it got me to wondering...did she grab the letter and tear off a part to take notes on before heading out to the yard?  what was her day like?  busy?  just another one?  special in some way?  i can have a tendency to glamorize history, but i know that she worked hard and had ordinary days just like i do.  i want to work hard like she did and leave a legacy.

i enjoyed thinking about these things as i winterized my garden yesterday.  pulling up stakes to wash and dry in the sun to store for next spring...digging up potatoes...pulling up tomatoes...remembering how beautiful and tall the sunflowers stood when i was in flip flops next to standing in a wool hat and boots, digging through the frosted ground and throwing leftover greens to the hens.  it was one of those crisp days where the blue sky shows off what yellow leaves remain and you can tell where the sun has been by the frozen patches of where it has not been.

thank you, garden.  thank you, nettie.

what interesting things have you found tucked in books?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

to serif or not to serif, that is the question

we got just enough freezing rain to cancel school today, so i'm in my own class...typography!  using the text "typography workbook:  a real-world guide to using type in graphic design" by timothy samara, i am learning more in-depth ways to play with words.

i downloaded the free graphics program "inkscape" so i can start to give myself assignments. 

i'm fascinated by people's answer to this question, indulge me here, "so if you woke up and had an unexpected free day, what would you do with your 24 hours?"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

the art and flavor of feasting

i love EVOO (which stands for extra virgin olive oil) cooking school at cannon beach. last year on a whim, i entered their slogan contest and won, along with a few other fortunate souls, a gift certificate good for two dinner shows. i had summed up their dining experiences with six words, "the art and flavor of feasting" which ended up garnering an average of $43 per word (if only i could figure out a way to make this kind of money with my love of words every day!)

there's not really a price tag that my friend or i can put on what it was like to redeem the certificate this weekend. not only is everything fresh, local and delicious, but you learn so much about food preparation, pairings and flavor. (to see what's on the current menu, visit bob and lenore's website at

i feel so fortunate to live in a region where i can grow some of my own food, collect and share my own eggs and have a front row seat to seasonal changes. suffice it to say that while on saturday i feasted, my pantry is currently in need of a boost...but taking a pinch of resourcefulness and what i learned at EVOO, monday night i was able to gather in garden greens before the first frost and enjoy a meal that included pea shoots and indoor-ripened tomatoes. it felt good to use what i had on hand, like the small-refrigerator kitchens of europe where regular market trips and using leftovers are the rule, not the exception.

what's in your pantry for winter?

Monday, November 3, 2014

to those who see

i am the lucky beneficiary of the fact that a friend of mine's husband collects rare books. he recently gave me a copy of gwen frostic's "to those who see", a book of poems and block prints copyright 1965.  i had not heard of her before and learning more about gwen, discovered that she lived between april 26, 1906 and april 25, 2001.  not only was she a michigan women's hall of fame inductee, but she received five honorary doctorates during her lifetime.  her practice of nature blockprints led to the establishment of presscraft papers, a store of which is still in existence today.

i think i would have liked her.  so would mary oliver.  (who knows, maybe they crossed paths quite literally while out walking in the woods, both being such keen observers of beauty?)  turning the rich vellum-lined pages of her book, i read, " those who see miraculous sights and envision all of the wonders hidden from the eye, hear multitudinous sounds and listen to the symphonies that silence brings..."