Thursday, December 29, 2016

illustrate your favorite...

 ...poem!  i gave myself permission to just sit and draw yesterday; layer upon layer of colored my heart's content.

i decided to illustrate "pied beauty" by gerard manley hopkins, and so i have four more images to go! 

it starts with "glory be to God for dappled things--for skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow..."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

my year in books

it's that time of year:  time to gather lists and genres of books read in 2016!  i read 73 books this year, for a total of 19, 791 pages. and am currently reading the 74th, "bread wine chocolate" by simran sethi about agricultural biodiversity.

to see a complete list of my titles and genres (plus a nifty visual collage courtesty of goodreads), you can click on: my year in books

happy reading now and into the new year!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

dance of the chef on sugarplums

 i never intended for this to become a food's just that i read so many great cookbooks and then get excited to try the combinations!  today was no exception.

it all started because i wanted to familiarize myself with vinegars and brines, so i tried pickling my own jalapenos with onions and radishes.

since i had pots and pans out, why not make both a mirepoix and sauce tomat leads well to the other (one more french sauce to go:  espagnole).

then, of course, i got curious about making a chickpea penne pasta, so while a pumpkin pie was in the oven i roasted a delicata squash and some hazelnuts and put it all together topped with wild greens and parmesan:  voila!  something i would definitely order in a restaurant.

then back to my oringinal intention of baking eight mini challah breads for holiday gifts.  when the oven's on, might as well use it, right? all this while subsisting nicely on homemade sugarplums from a friend...they are really tasty, by the way.

happy holiday cooking, sharing, and feasting to you and yours!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

an everlasting meal

i tend to read in the evenings, which means, in terms of this book, i am dreaming about what to cook for breakfast.  "an everlasting meal:  cooking with economy and grace" by tamar adler is a must-read! 

you wouldn't guess it by her laid-back tone and easy manner, but she has cooked for celebrated restaurants such as chez panisse and gabrielle hamilton's prune (in NY which i really, really want to eat at).  with an endorsement by alice waters, what more do you need?

adler's thesis is to use everything.  no more discarding tops to root vegetables, stems, or bones.  she is always thinking ahead to how she will use broth in the next meal or how to roast multiple items ahead for the week.

i love that, while she has amazing accolades in terms of her profession, she keeps it simple.  consider the following about wooden spoons, "i buy a wooden spoon whenever i see one i like because i may need to throw something, and a passerby might need one.  they're perfect, too, for checking doneness of certain ingredients.  there's nothing that does this with more certainty:  when a piece of onion, garlic, carrot, or celery can be easily broken with a wooden spoon, then, and exactly then, it is done."  i just asked my mom for a simple wooden spoon from her kitchen and she gave me two.  with all the fancy kitchen gadgets at our disposal, it's all i really wanted.

however, i will sing praise for my microplane.  because here's how i breakfasted this morning:  wake up, take stock of what i have on hand and what i feel like eating, warm olive oil in black cast iron pan, cube polenta and begin to brown, add creamy swiss cheese, two eggs, mango chutney, salt, pepper, and top with one small freshly microplaned turmeric bulb.  when left to blend together, this produces a winter comfort meal of epic proportions!  and don't forget to scrape the pan for the slightly carmelized sweet-savory and cheesy goodness.   what is your latest everlasting meal?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

do more of what makes you sparkle

imagine my joy when i put three brayers on my art table and they formed a christmas tree!  that's my kind of holiday greeing card.  i could lose all track of time given a printmaking studio, stack of fine paper and maybe a small letterpress (santa, are you following my blog?).  i would have to be reminded to eat, not to mention sleep.

speaking of food, a fine foray into our beloved portland yesterday fed both creative spirit and body.  i highly recommend "cup & bar" for affogato, followed by a stop into new surf shop *"cosube", all things handmade at "crafty wonderland", decorating haven at "home", followed by dinner at "taylor railworks".

to say their flavors married well is a huge understatement.  plus i love the nod to that up and coming part of east portland that used to be the railyard.  i will definitely be going back for ambience, drinks, and dessert.

*at first i thought the name was a deeply symbolic one, steeped in island heritage and tradition.  nope.  they made it up using the first letters of the words:  coffee, surfing, and beer.  clever.  and just one more reason i love this city!

paying attention in winter

boughs bare-round
and seeing: blue of jay streak
owled sound
both bird and perch
leaf-less but
to show the winged
joy of winter
heartily then, and 
with wholeness i will
answer, walking

12.11.16 ls

what she does is her, for that she came

first flakes fall
swirl-dance of delight
melting on memory's nose
and etching such patterns 
in the heart as
eternally returning

12.11.16 ls
in memory of colleen richmond (1953-2007)

professional mom, PhD, queen of russian tea cakes,
lover of all things christmas, student of life, and proud supporter of  bookstores around the world.  we miss you and won't ever let your light go out!  

Thursday, December 8, 2016


i never had just one answer to the question, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"  and now i know this by design.  but the realization came with no small amount of anxiety in a culture that says you must focus on and specialize in only one thing.

looking back, my life has always had a circuitous path.  unlike people who knew what they wanted to be, picked that as a major and subsequent job, my vocational trail more resembles an accident with an ink truck.  in high school i wanted to be an interior designer.  in college i majored in writing & literature with a french minor only to become a children's pastor.  trying to fit in by focusing on a career path, i went to seminary only to art teacher (which is kind of along the lines of interior designer, but messier.)

i have been everything from college professor and camp director to symphony violist and poet.  i am a trained lifeguard, know how to bring in a grape harvest, have taken fencing lessons, and tried my hand at welding.  i raise chickens, kayak, bike to work, am teaching myself french cooking techniques, and go on city architectural walks for fun. for my bucket list i have accomplished well over 88 of my 200+ goals including yodeling in the swiss alps, smashing plates at a greek restaurant, hot air ballooning, flying a plane, riding a motorcycle, learning hebrew, cycling the velodrome, going to france, completing the portland marathon, and climbing alaskan glaciers.  i have yet to surf, successfully roast chestnuts (this is harder than it looks and involves power tools), watch fireflies dance, grow the perfect tomato hybrid, fly fish, and keep an apiary. while i decide what's next, i'm walking the oregon coast trail.

so you see i still have trouble answering the question "what do you want to be when you grow up?" it all makes for an interesting life, but only just now do i feel free to say i think i am a multipotentialite.  up until this point, i was a bit ashamed of my incessant curiosity and afraid i would be labeled "unfocused".  not only for myself, but as an educator (who could become a farmer or spiritual director at any moment), it was refreshing to come across the following TED talk on what the speaker calls "multipotentialites" in our society.  and that we need people who are able to synthesize ideas, learn quickly, and bridge interdisciplinary thought; becoming the creative problem-solvers our world so deeply needs.  if one of my students is supposed to specialize in a calling, then by all means i want to help them on that journey.  if they are a multipotentialite who may do many roles within their lifetime, then i want to set an example of inspiring them to follow their thread of curiosity wherever it may lead.

for more you can listen to emilie wapnick's talk at:  more than one calling
and now, if you'll excuse me, i have sailing lessons to look into...

literary irony

word coincidences...that's all i can think of to call them.  have you ever had these little types of ironies happen?

for example, yesterday i was driving and listening to 89.9, our local classical music station, and my new car has a screen that tells me the song name and composer.  it was a piece about water (probably why i was drawn to it in the first place) by ravel and had the word "barque" in the title.  because it was translated from french to english, i learned that this is another name for "boat", as i had only been familiar with the french "bateau".  but later the same day i was looking up something completely different and "barque" showed up again?! it was nice to know what it meant, but twice in one day for a word i'd never known...

i could blame the snow for having more time on my hands than usual, but another word coincidence happened today.  perusing my bookshelves for good reads until i can get my novels from the library, i noticed i had shelved madeleine l'engle's book of poetry "the weather of the heart" next to a dylan thomas collection.  i've never really read a lot of thomas, so i dusted it off and opened it at random.  to, you guessed it, thomas' poem entitled, " a process in the weather of the heart".  alert readers, i am not making this up.

life is like an onion--endless skins of connections.  one can safely bet that l'engle would have known her thomas.  but i didn't know that until today and they had been next to each other on the shelf the entire time.

people could argue from a cerebral cortex perspective that we expect to see what we are looking for, just like with the gratitude principle, that if you think great things are going to happen, they probably will.  but what about these small ironies of the literary type?

kitchen, improv

a snow day!  i am curious as to what people do with unexpected free time.  for me, i took to the kitchen...what a perfect day to work on sauce #3 in my quest to complete the five mother sauces of french cuisine.  except. *i was all out of butter.  that's ok...

...once i was sure i was following the recipe, i felt free to diverge from it.  using cocount oil in place of butter (it's fat, right?) i added a little bit of sugar to the egg yolk, water and lemon juice.  a pinch of cayenne pepper and more whisking.  luckily i had another egg and some english muffins, so i toasted them up, poached the egg and poured sauce over top.

yum!  mine is definitely hollandaise, but with a decidedly sweet-savory blend; that kick of cayenne blended with a hint of lemon curd.  delicious.

so, what would you do with an unexpectedly free day?
*things not to tell julia child if she were still alive, may her well-slathered soul rest in peace

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

the year 2036

"twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  so throw off the bowlines.  sail away from the safe harbor.  catch the trade winds in your sails.  explore.  dream.  discover."

--h. jackson brown jr.

Monday, December 5, 2016

closer to the ground

it was with no small amount of *satisfaction that i both finished reading this book and took summer-sweet tomatoes out of the freezer.

i highly recommend "closer to the ground" to anyone who wants to be more intentional (not fanatical--it's ok to go to the grocery store) about growing or catching some of their own food.  i know the contented feeling of this sufficiency in part:  the pinnacle being when i only had to buy dairy items at the store, having organic ground beef from a friend, eggs from our chickens, fruits & vegetables from the garden, and bread from my own oven: pretty great eating!

as with most things, i prefer it when people take their skills and learning seriously without taking themselves too seriously and dylan strikes that balance in my opinion.

one of my favorite aspects of their rhythm of life as a family is:  would it be faster and often more efficient to do things without the kids?  sure, but it wouldn't be the best thing.  tomine has learned that the end result is important, but doesn't take precedence over the process which--like anything worthwhile--can indeed be frustrating, messy, and risky not to mention taking well over twice as long sometimes than if you just did something by yourself.

i love that he's taking time to show his kids how to do things.  after watching old family slideshows, i realize that i am who i am because of where i come from:  simple, hardworking, funny, nature-loving people.  they epitomized care for each other and the land.  coming from this long line of teachers, farmers, and pastors, i also realize that the things i love doing most were things that my parents did WITH me and instilled in me from a young age (thank you!).

things such as painting, planting seeds, hiking, biking, reading, fishing, cooking, swimming, bird-watching, camping, figuring things out, and enjoying outside adventures in general are just a few things that are the same today as back when i was a kid.  oh that all kids could have such a childhood!

i could go on, but it's time for lunch enjoyment of those garden tomatoes in my winter stew...

*i also thought this book was beautiful because of the paper-cut illustrations by nw artist nikki mcclure, a favorite for sure