Thursday, August 20, 2015

nw nature

an interesting article came out in the paper recently about the northwest, nature and spirituality.

it was discussing the link between nature and experiencing spirituality, essentially, and people's patterns of church attendance who live in more lush, natural landscapes.

the author included a poem which i will reprint here, which uncannily echoed a poem i wrote a few months and several posts ago.

forgive me that i cannot kneel and worship in this pew,
for i have knelt in western dawns, when the stars were large and few,
and the only fonts God gave me were the deep leaves filled with dew
and so it is i worship best with only the soft air about me,
and the sun's warm gold upon my brow and hair;
for then my very heart and soul mount
upward in swift prayer.

--ella higginson

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

confessions of a book eater

my name is lanette and i eat books.  i don't know what it is, but the more i read, the faster i seem to go.  i'm not setting out to speed read and i have no need to go faster, it's just that books that used to last me a few days are now start-to-finish in an afternoon or less.

i've read 26 books since school let out, including 4 this week.  ("our endless numbered days" by claire fuller which i really did not care for:  alarmist father takes daughter to live in the woods telling her it's the end of the world and this is the only way they can survive. meh. "light of the world" a memoir by elizabeth alexander whose writing i found to be lovely. poetic.  "magonia" by maria headley:  a fantastical earth-sky young adult fiction read. imaginative. and "the sunlit night" by rebecca dinerstein about unlikely love on a remote norwegian island. cultural.)

yes, i taste and even devour books.  nestled between mismatched couch pillows, legs fountains in between people-watching...on coffee shop porches measured by waiting rooms at dentist and medical car servicing lobbies...this is where my consumption occurs.  this is all mostly from the library, mind you, me gratefully chomping through titles almost faster than they can come in for free.  i even resell my own books in hopes of used bookstore credit for those few gems that simply must be owned, reread and loaned.

this is to say nothing of the morning i woke up, made my french press coffee as usual and opened a mystery thriller, thinking i'd just read a few chapters.  at 4:00 in the afternoon i was still in my favorite striped cotton pyjamas finishing compulsively "whodunnit", surrounded by cold coffee, an apple core and plates with crumbs i don't remember eating from; my own list of chores, exercise and daily tasks still undone. what were you thinking says the responsible adult within?!

guilt-assuaging book lover answers back:  remember when you would read like that as a young girl--legs propped up on a tree or bookshelf or on a sagging air mattress after a summer backyard campout--pouring through all of the nancy drew and hardy boys books in a row, begging your mom to take you back to the library until there weren't any more left in either series?  so yes, it's ok--at any age--to spend the better part of a day eating a good book.

Monday, August 10, 2015

bridge pedal

my friend and i, along with 18,000 other cyclists of all ages, rode 35 miles across portland's 11 bridges!

what was especially fun about pedaling it this year was being among the first to use the newest pedestrian and commuter bridge, Tilikum Crossing.

it only seemed fitting that we ended up parking our bikes in front of one of our favorite clothing retailers:  Title 9 women's athletic wear.

enormous smallness

this is a great children's book about poet and painter e.e. cummings.  i learned so much more about his life and that he had a charmed childhood--his father even built him a cabin and a tree house in which to write.

matthew burgess authored the book and amazing illustrations by kris di giamoco bring it to life.

after attending harvard, e.e. (edward estlin) drove an ambulance in france during world war I before settling in greenwhich village.

here is one of his poems i especially like:

love is a place
& through this place of 
love move
(with brightness of peace)
all places

yes is a world
& in this world of 
yes live
(skillfully curled)
all worlds.


Friday, August 7, 2015

my cup overflows

got books?  that's an understatement around here.  i just finished reading "the lovesong of miss queenie hennessy" by rachel joyce and noticed several references to what could only have been to "the lovesong of j aflred prufrock" by ts eliot (which i reread and yes, was the literary allusion in question although she never directly spells that out--yet another way my undergraduate studies paid off).  it made my heart ache a bit, in an "unrequited love's journey to see true love before dying" sort of way and made me want to seize each day to the fullest while living!

"how to be a heroine:  or what i've learned from reading too much" by samantha ellis introduced me to new leading ladies of literature and also reminded me of old favorites such as jane austen's creation of lizzie bennett in "pride & prejudice" or l.m. montgomery's anne of green gables.  ellis relates them to her own coming of age and also provides insightful information about the author's lives and how much of their characters are autobiographical in nature.  all in all a good reminder to be the hero(ine) of one's own life.

in the just for fun while sipping french press category?  molly hatch's "a teacup collection:  paintings of porcelain treasures" which combines her love of ceramics, history and painting in a beautiful way. i met molly at the makerie in boulder, colorado so it's extra fun to follow her new work (her ceramics, pictured above). and then there's "tiny house living" by ryan mitchell which proves that living in 400 square feet or less can be lovely.

thriller?  "the girl on the train" by paula hawkins that i haven't started yet but that i've heard is hard to put down.  i'll keep you, i have another pile coming from the library as we speak!

a $10 trip to france

want to visit france on $10?  simply drive up to domain drouhin winery.  in less than 20 minutes i had arrived, picnic basket and sketchbook in hand, to one of the most gorgeous hilltops in our area.  it's no surprise that their other vineyard is in burgundy (and they chose dundee hills for a second home!)

most of the other guests were from states like texas, maryland and massachusettes and i had only hopped in my car for a short distance.  not to take my backyard for granted, i happily perched, munched and drew, after wandering the vines a bit for photos.

kid books

i've always loved children's books and have a small collection of ones i want to reread.  and something i love about summer is when i get to read books to or with kids! 

recently i spent a timeless swatch of a day going through an entire pile of nature books from the library with a young friend of mine.  they were all about birds of the wild, eagles mostly, but also owls...and one on mammals.  i think we looked at every single page, stopping to talk about the details of something we noticed or didn't know before.

my favorite souvenir from my most recent trip to new york (other than my strand bookstore bag) is a children's book called "next stop grand central" written & illustrated by maira kalman, whose whimsical work i have really come to enjoy.  it is a happy memory because i bought it at strand and it typifies big city life in all its wild variety.

another gorgeous addition to my collection came as a birthday gift.  "book" by david miles, illustrations by natalie hoopes is a dreamy read with collaged pieces of french stories overlaid onto fantastical drawings all centered around a love of stories set down with paper & ink.

what is your favorite kid book?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

on seeing: everyday beauty

i am a fan of because the website makes it so easy to create and share your own books!  a few years ago i created "godlines" and just today i made a new one called "on seeing:  everyday beauty".

it was fun to scroll through my photos and organize them according to elements and principles of design.  to preview or order them, you can visit the "gift books" section of studio lark here on my blog or from the links below.

on seeing 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

lessons from the river

as a person who simply must be on, in, or around water, i have come to love kayaking more than i think any other sport or recreation.  the boat feels like an extension of your body and, without a motor, is quiet and joins rather than competes with nature.

where else can you see over ten bald eagles, dozens of herons, countless osprey, and couplets of deer?  river time is not like land time.  a day on the water can feel like three elsewhere.  it is amazing to me to have this resource in our backyard and to be able to perceive our cities and roads from the perspective of the waterway that was here first.

navigating takes skill.  you have to look ahead for shallow areas, rocks, currents and snags.  anticipating speed, space and angles is essential to maintaining your course and safety.  the river has a language of its own that is both beautiful and to be respected.  signs on the surface are clues as to the underwater topography.

there is a time to grip the paddle tightly with concentration and a time to relax and enjoy the current.  getting each of these at the proper time makes for an amazing float!

to further explore the beauty of the willamette, i would recommend

hospitality & culture

mount angel abbey just hosted their 44th annual bach festival.  we joined them for vespers, a pipe organ concert by gail archer, lawn picnic and a violin-cello duo of french canadian musicians antoine bareil and sebastien lepine.

two things stood out to me at this event. one being the hospitality of the monks.  the monastery is their home.  so in that sense, it is a large-scale house concert and we are invited to where they live.  i met the main host (pictured here) and he had a delightful sense of humor, wishing desperately--due to the heat-- to change orders just for the night in order to wear a white robe instead of black.  the breeze was blowing all of their robes around as they uncorked wine, laughed together and passed out picnic baskets brimming with delicious food to us on the hillside.

the second thing, aside from the classy and varietal music repertoire, was the reminder that monastic tradition is not just centered on being secluded away from the world, as some might think. on the contrary, it is these very orders that are responsible for having preserved art and culture for thousands of years. it struck me that, if not for them, i wouldn't even be aware of certain aspects of music, painting, or writing that i have come to know about and love.

for more information on the abbey and festival, see their site at

the making of a carpenter

yesterday i read "hammer head: the making of a carpenter" by nina maclaughlin.  of course i immediately loved the courage she had in leaving her desk job to work with wood.

what i most enjoyed about this book was her balance between 1) teaching historic facts about carpentry 2) a sprinkling of breath-taking memoir and 3) the practical hilarities of learning something new.

an exerpt:  "it's true that writing and carpentry both require patience and practice, and both revolve arond the effort of making something right and good.  both involve getting it wrong over and over, and being able to stay with it until it is right.  in both, the best way of understanding something is often by taking it apart.  in both, small individual pieces combine and connect to make something larger, total, whole.  in both, we start with nothing and end with something."

each chapter title is a different tool that she relates to life.  and, i think in part because her desk job was writing, nina has done an expert job here of integrating herself by joining her cerebral and corporal skills into something inspiring.  she blogs at