Monday, January 30, 2017

blue mind

i have always said that i am happiest when i am on, in, or near water.  when other kids wanted to grow up to be a fireman, i wanted to be a mermaid.  i'm told i was the only baby in the mom-tot swim class that was happily splashing.  and i grew up to be on swim team, not to mention lifeguarding, playing water polo, leading water aerobics and even a mom-tot class.

i live on paren springs road, adore taking baths, love to kayak, and visit the sea as often as possible. 

so when i read the book "blue mind:  the surprising science that shows how being near, in, on or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do" by wallace j. nichols, there was a lot of nodding and dog-earing of pages going on.

a smart book, "blue mind" is all about the neuro-science of our brains around water.  here are some of my favorite quotes:

"on the beach you can live in bliss." --dennis wilson of the beach boys

"i look out my bedroom window to the right, and i can see the ocean.  and i can hear it at night.  i have everything i want."--brett smith, formerly homeless veteran who now lives in the ocean beach section of san francisco

"what if the doctor handed you a prescription for stress or ill health that read, 'take two waves, a beach walk, and some flowing river, and call me in the morning?' "--dr. lehr

"water is a sacrament in our religious practices and overarching medicine.  it is the central symbol of our cycle of ceremonies.  along the 'big river', the columbia, we wake with a drink of water, and close our the day with a sip and prayer...water equals all life." --elizabeth woody, current oregon poet laureate

in everything from the spirit of God hovering over the surface of the waters at the empathy of ocean conservation...and the fact that our brains are 80% ocean front properties driving real estate prices, water indeed is life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

hand illustrated "pied beauty" poem

i set out to illustrate my favorite poem with colored pencils.
each drawing took close to two hours to sketch
and i'm looking forward to mounting & displaying them.
for now, i wanted to share straight from my sketchbook...
(single click over an image to enlarge it for easier reading)

hidden figures

what an amazing film!  especially to see over martin luther king jr. weekend.

i highly recommend this true story of the unsung math heros of NASA's colored computer department in the 1960's.

namely the story of katherine johnson and her brilliant mind whom john glenn personally requested to compute his return orbit from friendship 7 missions.

johnson, 98, is still alive and highly encourages young women to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).  i've included a picture of her receiving a medal of honor from president obama.

Friday, January 13, 2017

sauces complete!

as you may know, i've embarked on a personal quest to teach myself the five sauces of classic french cuisine otherwise known as "the mother sauces".  having already whisked together bechamel, veloute, tomat, and hollandaise, espagnole remained.

it's turned out tasty to me, i think because i made my own beef stock (boiling together onions, garlic, and beef) and then straining off the broth and adding it, while still hot, to the roux mixture.  a little salt, a bit of creamed tomato and voila!

hardly worth a michelin star (the restaurant three-star rating originally started by the michelin tire brothers) but useful and delicious to my kitchen.  one reason i took my time in making these sauces rather than doing all five at once is because i wanted to actually use them with meals.

this one (i'm quite sure to the quelle horreur! of the french that i would even think of doing this to espagnole) is currently simmering with kamut, or khorasan wheat, the traditional grain of egypt. i plan to pour this, gravy-like, back atop the garlic and onion beef to serve with vegetables.

not the first to mix sauces and cultures, this reminds me...if you enjoy travel and cooking, you might really enjoy the movie "the hundred foot journey" starring helen mirren; definitely a 3-michelin star film in my mind.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

girl scout badge, please

"build an igloo" is on my bucket list, so what better time than the present to check it off, especially when the snow conditions are perfect?

it's harder than it looks but really fun.  here's what you need to make your own personal snow cave...

location:  pretty much anywhere works, preferably in the proximity of a wood fire pizza oven if you are really roughing it

tools: in my case an enormous snow shovel, oversized planter--that you can actually tug/haul and tip upside down when it's packed with snow--, a garden trowel for indentations and artistic touches (or lack thereof) and a bread pan (makes perfectly-sized bricks)

provisions:  plenty of clean snow to eat/drink, plus nut bars and dark chocolate (we're talkin' wilderness survival here, folks)

a little tune to hum:  it helps to sing to yourself while you are traipsing further and further afield to get fresh snow for your ever-growing pile, especially since the full creation takes the better part of an afternoon  

architectural prowess:  some say you're only as hip as your igloo. in my case, your igloo is only as big as your hips.  measurement is key.  so is having a plan.  the roof is tricky (as you can see) and is a balance between carving out from your pile and adding to it in funky angles.  i really respect the eskimos, that's about all i can say

i like to bring play to my work.  and, all things considered, it is a good skill to be able to build a small (ok, infintessimal) shelter if you were out in the woods and got lost or something.  i'd like to think i'm just adding another badge to my somewhat frozen girl scout vest.

wine country snow day

as much as i love heading up to mount hood for snowshoeing, we received enough (6 inches of powder!) right here at home for me to trek all around the property. 

maybe it's my inner 12 year old, but once i was in and safe last night, the magic of snow took hold.  i sat at the window watching oversized flakes and could hardly sleep.  when i did finally doze off, it was with thoughts of how much i couldn't wait to wake up and play!

snowshoes on and camera in hand, i adventured for several miles, enjoying both the quiet and the laughter of neighboring kids who are also excited about their day off from school. my steps being the first, i was able to spot a myriad of animal tracks ranging from deer and rabbit to racoon and feline.  (our hens aren't so sure about it.  when i opened the door they took a few steps and decided to go back to their heated roost.) 

here are a few of my favorite scenes...

and for my next project, a small igloo!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

all things bookish

i received a most amazing gift--that of a handmade book made by my friend's husband.  not only did isaiah write the story, but he drew the illustrations, bound and printed it himself.

he has a fascination, and subsequent business, dealing with rare books and the history therein.  i learned so much by visiting his blog and the most recent post detailing how he made this tome about saint nicholas.

as a story for his children, he published 50 of them and i was fortunate enough to receive number 31 of this first edition labor of love.

it will be vouchsafed with my christmas decor to be brought out and reread every year by the tree and it gives me faith that true artisans are alive and well in the 21st century.

to learn more, you can visit isaiah's blog at:

beautiful as well as educational!

Friday, January 6, 2017

on growing

"happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth.
we are happy when we are growing."

--william butler yeats

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

be it resolved

ahh, a new year!

time (for me) to resolve the following... never resolve anything i can't keep up for the rest of my life.

eating well:  pausing to really savor my foods and beverages as much as possible; how they taste and look and feel, their unique flavors and nourishment.  trying new things at least once to see if i want to incorporate them into my market shopping and kitchen. no extremes here, dark chocolate has a place right beside kale!

moving well:  a body in motion tends to stay in motion.  rest days are as essential as baths, sleep, and massage...stretching, weights, yoga, walks, kayaking, biking...enough to feel good and stay healthy; a routine i could keep up at 85 and beyond.

spending well:  to spend enough money to enjoy life now and save enough to enjoy life later, too!
loving well:  knowing myself enough to serve others well; minimizing anything in me that doesn't contribute to love, peace or wholeness and maximizing everything that DOES for the purpose of making the lives of others a joy.  to love your neighbor as yourself means you have to love yourself, too!

learning well:  bring it on!  i have one more french sauce to make (espagnole) and as soon as the river warms up, sailing lessons are on the horizon.  the best teachers in my opinion are constant students who love their local library and a wide range of new experiences.

methinks it's not so much about what we have or don't have, but the ability to ENJOY it all that makes a lovable life.