Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Treasure Hunt

Remember how fun it was to follow the clues for hidden treasure as a kid? Little clues tucked in and about all sorts of nooks and crannies would lead to something that provided a moment or an hour of joy. Very few grown ups have the chance to follow clues leading to hidden treasures, but there are still some places left where that same feeling of treasure anticipation emerges in one's soul.

Take, for instance, the ubiquitous Garage Sale. Are they not just a grown up version of a treasure hunt? To find and obtain some amazing trinket for far less than the original cost leaves us with a fleeting moment of satisfaction. Perhaps an Antique Store or Flea Market provides the same sensation. Even a foray into the Thrift Store? Or the CSA pick-your-own farm field?

Last weekend I found myself on a surprising little treasure hunt as I joined a local photography club for a morning photo walk. I woke up at the wee hour of 6am (I prefer life of a night owl) in order to catch morning light in some field down in the national park. My eagerness to refine my waning photography skills got me up and out of bed and to the fog laden, dewy field in time to hear a slightly brash instructor, coffee in hand, giving guidelines for the morning.

At this point, I still thought I was going to be learning to tweak the settings on my DSLR, but alas, I was headed on a treasure hunt where hundred of spiders, thousands of flowers and millions of dew drops awaited my arrival. A few words from the photo experts and we set off into the shoulder high, damp field of flowers and thorns to capture some images. I was surprised.

The location is actually fairly unremarkable when you look at it in a 'big picture' kind of way. But, tune your senses into the world of the macro lens and all of a sudden this unremarkable field was chock full of innumerable treasures! I planted my tripod in the middle of spider webs and greenery and started shooting. Yellow! Purple! Green! Fog! Dew drops! Rainbows! There were colors and subjects of all sorts to shoot around me. Time started flying by as I adjusted my zoom lens, put on my macro lens, played with the aperture settings and shot away.

I have to admit, I do love the ability to shoot digitally and to not have to worry about quantity as I go in search of quality shots! (My overly full hard drive attests to my obsession with quantity.) I was delighted to capture a few quality shots, aka a few TREASURES on this photo shoot. It whet my appetite to explore other seemingly unremarkable natural places to photograph what might be right in front of me, ready for discovery.

This Macro Treasure Hunt was a great joy. I am likely to skip Saturday morning garage sales in lieu of waking early to catch the morning light as fall arrives and enlivens the treasures all around me.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Yes. "Transformation" often refers to the inner work of one's soul as in "I have been transformed." In this case, it has been our kitchen that has been transformed, though I also believe that our souls will follow. Slowly but surely, the heart of the home changes us as well.

We lived with a functional '80s kitchen' for the past 12 years. Upon moving in, I declared that I did NOT care for the room, HATED the Pantry-from-Hell (rightly so since the former owners did a slap together finish with a board right at the spot where you needed to reach in), and that I would gladly feed our family and friends from this room with few complaints.

For 12 years we fed meal after meal from the garden decorated room with the 18" of counter space and antique tavern table island stand in. We hosted Thanksgiving for 16 yearly, birthday parties, catered a gigantic graduation party, learned to cook crepes from our French exchange student and smashed our heads time and again getting things out of the Pantry. We traipsed to the basement for can goods and all manner of cooking pots. We allowed food from the make shift wire shelf pantry to collect grime coming in from the back door, conveniently located by the kitchen and the See-How-Far-You-Can-Toss-the-Recycling-and-Still-Hit-the-Bins bins.

Finally, finances were such that we could make a change. A BIG change too.

Dear Hubbie and I had the conversation: "We can't sell this house with the kitchen like this. We need to redo the kitchen. So are we going to redo the kitchen to sell the house in the near future? Do we hear God calling us to relocate? OR, do we create a kitchen that would be most pleasing and usable to us now and into the future and plan to STAY?" Fortunately, the answer was fairly easy: "We're staying." Our people are here and we happen to like a LOT of things about our area. The funny thing is, since we made this decision, we have been liking things in our area EVEN MORE. Worthy of a totally different blog post as the implications of that sort of commitment are far reaching...

Those photos showed the 'before'. Here are the 'after':

The kitchen is bigger with an addition and my dream for YEARS, of having a fireplace in my kitchen. This is a Rumford Fireplace... tall, narrow and extremely efficient. We won't be cooking in it (though s'mores work just fine!) but given our long winters, we will be using it. A LOT.

And so we bid farewell to the Garden Kitchen of the 80's and welcomed in our 'vacation home' kitchen. Thus far it is totally living up to the task for which it was created. We use out kitchen to COOK, after all. It is merely a tool. A place for gathering, for hospitality, for creativity, for card playing and well, for sustenance--of the delicious and nutritious kind.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I have had a long term love affair with all things felt. I'm not exactly sure what it is about the earthly connection between my heart, my eyes and my hands when I see, touch and feel felt, but it is strong. It is no doubt about the 'natural.' True wool is utterly natural. It is soft. It is real and it pulls one into creation, rather than alienating one from creation. It sparks my imagination and my longings. For what I cannot quite articulate, but I don't need an answer to dive in and love all things felt.

I finally took a welt felting class this weekend. What fun! It was a class taught by Sharon Costello, here in Ohio from her digs in NY. She knows her stuff and brought all sorts of delicious merino wool, silk and assorted fibers for us to incorporate into our scarves. One day = One scarf. REALLY?

This is the finished baby, without the true colors since it was on the kitchen floor. Outside looked more like the real thing, but I was not patient enough to find a spot in the wet grass for a decent photo!

Nuno felting involves water, soap, time and strength as well as the right fibers. Keep the soap coming!

Here is my scarf laid out before the felting process. Highly tactile, it was a joy to play with the merino roving as I contemplated the design, not quite knowing WHAT in the world I would end up with. So, I experimented.

This kind of arts suits me. Planning ahead for the final product is not my style and stretches me a lot harder than simply taking materials and playing around to see what ends up developing. I am quite pleased with my first project. In fact, I collected some additional roving for another Nuno piece at some point. I love that the materials to actually DO the felting are mostly laying around my house or cheap to pick up. The only exception, of course, is the wool, but a little goes a long way.

Keep eating, oh happy sheep! We love what you naturally produce!