Friday, July 28, 2017

hardy elegance

this paragraph stopped me and invited itself to be read again and again:

"...when nicole appeared, sans apron, we sat down to lunch.  fresh asparagus bought from a nearby market garden was arranged on a striking ceramic serving plate, next to a bowl of lemony hollandaise sauce.  olive oil glowed like liquid gold in its glass container.  a pork roast appeared accompanied by a platter of petite pois--shelled by nicole--and bits of ham.  in the center of the peas was a circle of artichokes and tiny, thinly sliced was poured into long-stemmed glasses as thin as paper.  and, as we ate and drank, time stole silently away, leaving in its place:  a feeling of contentment. 

eventually, pots of chocolate mousse flavored with bits of orange rind appeared, accompanied by a big bowl of ripe juicy strawberries coated with sugar.  i ate everything placed before me, my appetite whetted not only by the superb food but by the company as well.  this was a house of many apppetites:  for books and music and art and flowers and conversation and, of course, food.  it was a house that had been nurtured by hardy, elegant people whose lives, like the olive trees surrounding them, had put down deep roots here.  and it was a house from which i would take away many good memories when thoughts of provence danced in my head. 

as we were finishing dessert, jacques turned to me and asked if i would like a second pot of chocolate mousse.  'oh, thank you but no,' i said, 'i loved it, but one was enough.'

jacques leaned toward me, his large well-shaped head almost brushing mine, 'when you love something, you don't count.' "
--alice steinbach

Thursday, July 20, 2017

educating lanette: my latest stack

a new week, a new stack of books!

"my life with bob:  flawed heroine keeps book of books, plot ensues" by pamela paul promises to be hilarious!

really enjoying ellen meloy's writing in "anthropology of turquoise:  reflections on desert, sea, stone, and sky." she is at once a rich and textured author with moments of laugh out loud humor who takes her subject--but never herself--seriously.

and a kinship for love of learning in "educating alice:   adventures of a curious woman" by alice steinbach.

fresh from the library like a loaf of bread?  "the baker's secret" by stephen p. kiernan.

i'm also really looking forward to "anatomy of the soul: surprising connections between neuroscience and spiritual practices" by curt thompson, MD and a small but power-packed book on peace by father jaques philippe.

Friday, July 14, 2017

my life according to trees

when faced with the choice of distracting myself or leaning into an unplanned day, i chose the latter and let one thing lead me to another like a trail of crumbs.  i found myself making sustaining food and bread from leftovers in the pantry and doing rather the same thing with words:  a day of unexpected writing. 

so i started to type.  just for the joy of it.  and i'm rather pleased with how it turned out.  i titled it "my life according to trees" and began...
"Of the two basic forces at work in the world, we are both. 
Those who act and those who are acted upon.  But don’t be fooled, we are anything but sedentary.  Even Milton said “they also serve who only stand and wait”.
We are the trees and we met her when she first learned about death.
She, like her ancestors, will come to rest beneath the smooth bark of madrones on their shared and silent hillside. 
But that day she was anything but silent and not about to share.

(The bulk of story is several pages devoted to eight significant trees in my life, but from their perspective:  willow, walnut, cherry, fir, maple, linden, cedar, and aspen).

It closes...

She can feel it, though she still doesn’t understand, she knows.  Even though she has never felt more at home inside herself, most all of us will outlive her.  And that brings comfort, making her feel appropriately small in the scheme of things, so fitting that she came and went while we stayed in one place. 

Of the two basic forces at work in the world, we are both.  Those who act and those who are acted upon.  But don’t be fooled, we are anything but sedentary.  Those of us that she will outlive, she considers replanting--our mode of travel--fingering a pine cone in her hand certain to burst open, like the rest of her life, one way or another."

small town time, anywhere

want to feel like you live in a small town even if you don't?  here's my top 20:

do errands in a different city and store
visit your own chamber of commerce
drive an unfamiliar route
check out magazines from the library
build in time to visit in the store
read books to kids
listen to an older person's story
wander world market aisles
cook an ethnic dish
visit on a front or back porch
feed the birds
write old fashioned letters
figure out and take care of that nagging thing
start something from seed
try a new walk/run/bike path
pack a picnic for one and eat in a local green space
compliment a store/business you frequent
leave a wildflower boquet anonymously
do a tools or services swap
carpool or take public transportation

table for one

the dinner party

how could i be lonely
with such company as birds:
a forest spread
alive with true-song
conversation and a panoply
of green?

this i would prefer
over place settings with
company fallen mute
overly familiar at which
there is no true communion
no feast of souls

to taste ones food--really,
have you ever had such a dish!--i
say aloud and raise a glass
yes, a table for one can
be the richest fare:
alone but sated ever

ls 7.14.17

learn your knots

ahh, the lazy days of summer--what better time to learn your knots?  basic sailing knots, that is.  grab a small rope or two, there are plenty of books, pictures and online tutorials available. 

even if you're not planning to become a sailor, you never know when they might come in handy!  (and if you've seen the movie "hacksaw ridge"--true story!  you know that a knot just might save lives.)

i taught myself:  bowline, cleat hitch, round turn, rolling hitch, sheet bend, square knot, figure 8, trucker's hitch, and clove hitch. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


i can only figure i must have been given, at birth, an extra large capacity for life because it is my idea of fun to spend extended time in philosophical conversation.  for example, when a friend of mine wanted to bounce his ideas around about the philosophy of art and spirituality, i was all over it, for several hours! not only that, but it left me energized because that kind of talk is somewhat rare in our society.  feeling a kinship with poets from the 1800's and thinkers is just the beginning.

i also like to think that i was given an equal dosage of silliness and a kind form of sarcasm to balance things out.  like a surge protector for the brain; a cooling system so the mind doesn't overheat.  because i also routinely crack myself up and find humor in the simplest of places.

recently i saw two magazine articles that had me giggling out loud in sarcasm font.  the first was "the perfect morning according to pinterest" and the second was "martha stewart's calendar."  now, i don't know about you, but when i wake up, it is nothing like pinterest.  my hair is sticking out in weird curls while i walk, bleary-eyed in mismatched pjs to feed the chickens with a dented tin can.  (doesn't this scream "photo shoot"?)

when i see features of families in design magazines where children are eating red things on white shag rugs or playing music with their parents while all clad in matching tones of linen, i can't help but think about the reality of sticky floors, broken toys, chocolate stains, and ear-splitting screams.  it's no wonder i prefer to be around real families, whose kids get splinters and fall off of swings and struggle to share and like to bang on pianos.

we can't live up to the photo shoots.  it's nice that martha can have her cars waxed and serviced while making post-winter spa appointments and still manage to get exotic heirloom seeds planted in the perfect weather while creating an intergalactic space party with matching planet cakes for her grandkids.  knock yourself out!  when i wash my car it is immediately covered in dust which happily reminds me that it's ok for things to get dirty.  i like my wooden spoon that has burn marks on it from happy cooking memories.  and boxes of recycled bottles and watermelon rinds and burnt-out ends of fireworks that call to mind the easy, unmatched laughter of the mess and wonder of getting together.

it's what makes life so beautfiful--the deep and the silly.  the tidy and the bleared all rolled up in one big package of real.

Monday, July 10, 2017

water girl

"i must be a mermaid, i have no fear of depths
and a great fear of shallow living."  anais nin

paren springs grows up

our little neck of the woods just keeps getting better!  the nicest people are moving into the neighborhood.

we have not only a bed & breakfast, but also a vineyard and a lavender farm.

want to stay in wine country or have out of town guests who do?  jason and savannah have created an ideal spot.  simply go to air bnb and type in "fruitland acres bed & breakfast".

across the road from them is the newly planted twin pines vineyard.

and right next to that is where i'm hoping to help plant this week.  i really enjoy reading their blog and you might as well at:  little lavender farm

we all woke up to the nicest surprise this week when a hot air balloon made an unplanned landing.  it flew low, right over my bedroom window--so low, in fact i could hear them talking--before landing just across the way from our hen house in the neighbor's field.

just one more reason why i love where we live...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

in search of guascas

i'm in search of it, and now i know it doesn't exist in portland markets, maybe not even in the USA...guascas, the herb for use in making the traditional colombian dish ajiaco. 

my aunt gave me the recipe and i had everything else for making it except this.  so, wanting to be authentic (and already being authentically stubborn) blondie here literally went into every latino and world market in this great city of ours to be answered with quizzical looks, "no...not here in this market, maybe try..."

even the colombian food cart folks looked at me and shrugged.

i think you can order it from amazon, but i've already promised dinner for friends.  so, short of flying to bogota, i will have to settle for cumin, cilantro, and the closest guascas substitute of oregano.

here is a recipe if you want to try it out at home:  colombian ajiaco recipe

and let me know if you are successful at finding the guascas!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

fiction, non-fiction, poetry and prose

relishing almost nothing more than reading an entire novel in one sitting, here are some summer recommendations from me to you...

non-fiction:  "the beekeeper's lament" by hannah nordhaus.  i don't think i will ever take a honey bee for granted.  the book even inspired me to go outside, find a bee, and watch it for about 20 minutes as it gathered pollen.  for bringing future blackberry jam into existence for us, i thanked it before driving out to promptly buy organic orange blossom honey (i can be very impressionable in the food and reading department).  beekeeping for profit is a hard-won profession, but having a few apiary boxes sounds fun to me, perhaps in the next season of life.

fiona stafford has me looking at trees differently, too.  also in the non-fiction category, the cover of "the long, long life of trees" caught my eye in the "new" section of the library.  since i actually DO judge books somewhat by their cover, i was intrigued.  the illustrations and even the paper itself was high quality.  chapter by chapter, from oak to ash and holly to apple, stafford (herself a smart english literature professor at oxford) unpacks surprising tidbits, facts, superstitions, poetry, and ecology surrounding these stately (and not so stately) companions.  i couldn't resist pressing a leaf and placing it inside the jacket for the next person to find, it seemed fitting. 

in the fiction department (although closely woven from real life stories) is new author hala alyan.  hala was born in 1986 and completed her doctorate in psychology after living in various parts of the middle east.  she divides her time between private practice and teaching at new york university.  her novel, "salt houses" is beautifully written, so it was not surprising to me that her prose stems from also being an award-winning author of three poetry collections. (it made me want to go out and buy fresh figs). she is a seasoned performer who has given TED talks and currently lives in new york city.  for more about her you can visit:

since both my olive oil and books are running low, it's clearly time for some restocking!