Friday, September 25, 2009
for over five months now, i've been doing contract work three days a week, not knowing quite when the job will end. it's sounding like the job, which originally was going to last a few weeks, may last through spring. now that the job is potentially more set, i am planning on moving forward with a book project that has been brewing in the back of my head for a while now. it will be a collection of (other authors' and artists') stories and images. that's all i'm going to say now, but i'm very excited about it, and i plan to have it done by april! can't wait to share more about the focus/themes later...but it will be a while.
in praise of elderberries
and check out the chickeny goodness at sew green.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
some flickr-y goodness
this picture does not cease to make me grin: morran and loppan (the flea)
2 garden ladies (the details! incredible.)
i want socks like these
been very flower focused lately, which is probably good since i'm starting a botanical illustration class soon. i have about 15 library books right now on seeds, flowers and pollination. i've started three of them and can't decide which to read first.
one book i checked out just for the illustrations. it's by henry david thoreau on seeds, and i really wasn't planning on reading it. figured the writing might be too old fashioned and boring. i did read walden at some point, and i think i enjoyed it. i can't recall. i had forgotten how beautifully the guy wrote. i find myself not even paying that much attention to the content sometimes, but just riding along with the words because they sound so nice. listen to this description of the pitch pine cone (which in itself has a nice ring to it) from faith in a seed:
Within this strong, prickly, and pitchy chest are contained about a hundred dark brown seeds in pairs, each pair occupying a separate apartment behind its prickly shield. A very thin membrane or wing about three-fourths of an inch long extends from one end of each seed, which it clasps in its divided extremity like a caged bird holding the seed in its bill and waiting till it shall be released that it may fly away with and plant it.
For already some rumor of the wind has penetrated to this cell, and preparation has been made to meet and use it...
just reading half of the first chapter, i am struck by his acute level of observation and understanding of connections in nature. he sees the tiniest details and bigger ecological pictures. reminds me how removed most of us are from nature. even if we go for hikes and pay close attention to and appreciate the sounds, smells, plants and critters around us, it's probably nothing like this kind of patience/involvement.
i like it when scientists write beautifully—makes science more accessible.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
considering that almost all of my posts on sew green have been about books related to food and sustainable agriculture, you can imagine my excitement when i found omnivore books on food, an sf bookstore owned and run by book collector celia sack. celia sells new and antique/collectible books on cooking, baking, food + agriculture politics and food history. the very small store is packed (beautifully and carefully so) with gorgeous, shiny new cookbooks like these, alongside often smaller, more faded, but somehow even more alluring rare and collectible books like the (golden pig) one at the top of this post. out on the shelves are many victorian-era books with fanciful and strange illustrations of things like sugar spinning (done on tip toe on a chair if i recall correctly, in a full-length gown, strands of sugar hanging almost to the floor like so much rapunzel hair—this illustration can be found in celia's favorite oldie, a book from 1894 called fancy ices).
i was lucky enough to sit down with celia and talk with her about her store. below is a bit about what i learned, and it is also what makes this bookstore a true gem.
celia on left
celia knows her books. inside and out. especially the collectible ones. i mentioned a recipe from a book my housemate had bought at omnivore, and celia knew right away which book i was referring to (this one)! she made numerous such connections throughout the interview (talking with me and with customers). the store is organized by subject, but without signage. i didn't ask, but i am pretty sure the lack of signs is on purpose, and it certainly makes things more interesting. as soon as you ask celia where to find something or how the books are organized, she springs to action. she can determine exactly what you might like (even if you would normally be shy and not prone to divulging all your food and agricultural passions to strangers). if she doesn't have the book you're looking for, she'll offer one (or seven) others that might be just as good, and more likely better, than what you had in mind.
the events! intimate author readings and pie contests, for example. i attended a pie contest there last week. i don't think anyone expected 48 pies!! to show up. the place was brimming with pies. just when there was no more room for pies, another pie would arrive—blackberry, ginger peach, strawberry cream, banana cream, blueberry and on and on. luckily, there were also plenty of pie eaters. see more photos from this fun event here. (i made a lemon cream pie with a walnut, homemade graham cracker crust.) the winning pie was the banana cream.
paula helps organize pie tables
the many connections. the store is connected to sf's food history. around the turn of the century, the store used to be a butcher shop, and the freezer door, meat hanging rack and scale remain intact. it's also connected to sf's (and beyond) food past through the books celia collects. many of the collectible books were printed in sf or california. celia worked at the sf book auction house for years and knows all those antiquarian book fair folks (or antiquarian hair fair folks as a friend of hers calls them—apparently there are a lot of large beards and intricate mustaches at the fairs.)
celia and her partner paula have owned the pet store next door for eleven years, and celia herself is an sf native, so omnivore books has some deep roots. celia also supports the business of an older lady farmer by buying the woman's free range eggs and selling ten dozen or so a week of them at the bookstore. and of course the in-store events lead to community connections as well. day-to-day customers include neighborhood folks, pet owners (wandering over from next door), local chefs, and people specifically seeking out the store for books (old and new) on food (the ultimate connector).
sidenote per celia regarding events: "the people who are into baking are the nicest." she told me that like bluegrass musicians, bakers let everyone have a turn. they happily share their skills and recipes (and treats). they have a the more the merrier attitude. (this tidbit is not that surprising, right? it's not often that someone who bakes cookies for people is a meanie.) so, baking events=always good events to attend.
here are some of the fantastic upcoming events at omnivore books.
if you're interested in reading a transcript of the interview, leave a comment with your email address and i'll send it to you. (it's five pages long!)
thanks so much to generous celia for a delightful interview! and to diana who loaned me her tape recorder.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
got my how to get an idea book by lena in the mail. you can see more pictures in her shop. i love her handwriting style and funny drawings. i like how these drawings are simple, with just enough detail to make them so recognizable and funny—like that extra roll of tp on the floor is just perfect. i also like how both the man and his dog on the bus seem to be sleepy/quiet.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
i have two! pie contests i could go to tomorrow. what madness. i've never been to a pie contest in my life, and now all of the sudden two fall on the same day. shucks. i am making a lemon cream pie that my friend laurel made this weekend. she made the crust with graham crackers and pecans, but i'm making mine with grahams and walnuts. and i'm making the graham crackers from scratch, like a crazy person! needless to say, this is a slow pie-making process. i don't normally like citrus-flavored desserts (aside from key lime pie), but laurel's pie converted me. it was one of the best pies i've ever tasted, citrus or no.
above are the graham crackers i made. they don't taste that much like graham crackers, and they were a pain in the butt to grind down because they didn't come out light and crispy like a normal graham, but kind of chewy instead. (that, and i'm in the stone age over here using a mortar and pestle instead of a food processor to do the grinding.) they're not bad, but i can tell they won't make as tasty of a crust as the traditional graham (despite the traditional one's corn syrup and preservatives).
anyhow, i have chosen which of the two pie contests to attend. i'm going to the one where i can win money. ha! just kidding. (one can win money though at the one i'm going to.) can't tell you any more about it until september 17, when i'm writing about it and more over on sew green.
so check back on september 17th if you are curious...
Sunday, September 06, 2009
my friend oona's childhood house is one of the first that was built in bolinas, and the building itself is full of character. her mom also has beautiful art/furniture throughout the house. it's a storybook house. and the garden is amazing!
after passing through a wooden gate and beneath pale pink rose bushes, you come to parallel hedges that make a square shape around the front porch. you can walk through the narrow path the hedges create, to the sides/back of the house where you are released into the outstanding garden that bursts forth in all colors and directions. oona's mom, a., is a masterful gardener and horticulturist. (she studies and teaches about native grasses, and she remembers all those latin names for plants.) she plans her garden carefully, but it does not have contained, prim sections; it's the kind of garden that you feel might envelope you. it encourages dreaming. i think a. plans her garden to look like a painting. dabs of vermilion are actually bobbing poppies, and strokes of blue are delphinium (?) bending toward you. it's no wonder oona is a painter. (paintings above are by oona, from years ago.)
Friday, September 04, 2009
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
not sure why i haven't been to the new store gravel & gold yet. it's right in my neighborhood, and i've walked by it about 15 times since it opened. and it's clearly awesome! next time. (clever that they are also a site for a csa pickup.)