Category Archives: Friends

Another fabulous art night

This time at the home of a friend who really did it up royally–a dozen or so of us showed up in her (really amazing) home to find art supplies of every variety arranged on tables–wet media here, dry media there, stamping stuff in this corner (stamps are dry but inks are wet–decisions, decisions), gesso and all kinds of gel media and molding paste, jars of brushes and clean water, a sewing machine set up and ready for use. And, of course, a table of wines and sodas and the kettle on for tea. Every time I thought, “Oh, I wish I’d brought my X,” or “Too bad we don’t have any Y,” I’d raise my head and the needed item would be right there. It was like having all your art dreams come true.

We all brought our own offerings: paper and other ephemera, tools and toys, and something to add to the dinner table to go with the amazing veggie chili our hostess had made. Yummy things everywhere you looked.

I wish I had a photo of each of the beautiful or funny or elegant works that were produced that night. The emphasis was on smalls (ATC sized) but there were larger things, too, and a number of small books made on the tiny bound pads of nice paper that had been provided for us.

I even took advantage of our patron’s insistence that we take some papers and cards home with me, so, at least at my house, the party’s still going strong.



A little wall art

More wall hangings–some gifts I made this morning for some people who have been very helpful to me lately:

Hui Neng: “The meaning of life is to see.”

From Basho:

a cicada’s shell

it sang itself

utterly away

And a Chinese proverb: “That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.”

The quotations are printed on some of my suminagashi pieces. A wonderful easy craft–great for teachers’ gifts at this time of year. I did a little tutorial for them back about . . . well, about this time of year! Seems to be the season for thanks.

Thank you

Thank you notes were in order for some friends of ours who did a very nice thing for us. I won’t go into detail, but, seriously–appreciate your friends. An ordinary note seemed inadequate, so I sketched up my new favorite corner of the house, made possible by said friends. It took two notes to cover all the interested parties, and I won’t show you both of them since they’re quite similar, but here’s what went out in today’s mail.

Thanks, folks–seriously.

Food for thought–and dinner

My nephew was born on Thanksgiving day, so I always think of it as his birthday even when the 23rd falls a bit short of the actual day. As a college student at my alma mater, he’s having a ball this year living in an actual house instead of a dorm, and is taking advantage of having access to a real kitchen and learning to make some of his favorite foods.  He and I share a predilection for Indian food of all sorts, so for his birthday this year I put together a little package to help him along in his culinary education:

  • A copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking
  • A selection of the spices and herbs needed for Indian cooking
  • A neat little box (courtesy of the beading section of a craft store) to hold the latter
  • A small mortar and pestle
  • A baggie of nice Darjeeling tea and a tea infuser
  • A bag of basmati rice
  • A bag of fresh ginger

[For a more readable look at just what I included, take a peek at a larger version of this photo on my Flickr site.]

In return I’ve extracted a promise from him that he’ll cook me a meal when I visit him at school one of these days. Hey, a present’s not a present unless there are strings attached, right?

Tomatoes–hothouse, dirt, and ripe

No, not the kind that you put in your mouth, though we are finally approaching the time when we can renew our acquaintance with them here in the up-until-now rainy and cold northeast.  Last week, on a day when I thought summer might actually be coming because it hardly rained at all and I didn’t have to put on a sweater until after the sun went down, I visited my favorite truck farmer, Jake. When I took my corn and tomatoes to his till to settle up, he was at pains to tell me–apologetically–that those were his tomatoes, but they were hothouse tomatoes. “We won’t have real dirt tomatoes until August,” he sighed.

I can wait. And this will help to tide me over.

My Floating Ink blog has been honored with a Ripe Tomato for Blogging Excellence award.  I was surprised and tickled.  Fellow blogger and comrade in the (increasingly deep) trenches of freelance writing Ron Doyle gave this little honor to 15 blogs he admires and loves to visit, and–whee!–yours truly was in a prime spot on the list. Thanks, Ron!

First, go to Ron’s Blog Salad to check out the other blogs he loves–great ones about bicycling, humor, writing, parenting, food, travel, and all the rest of life.

Then check out the blogs below. Part of Ron’s plan is a sort of “pay it forward” approach–he’s asked each of us on his list to create our own lists of our 15 go-to blogs.

Here are mine:

whipup:  The hub of the crafting blogiverse, inspiring crafters and artists all over the world, showcasing clever and creative people of all stripes, and providing inspiration even on those days when you’re sure you’ve seen it all before and you could never make that yourself–you haven’t, and you can.

Sandi Kahn Shelton: A writing and life blog not just for writers;  this author of wonderful, wonderful, wonderful books (a 4th wonderful is in the pipeline) will make you laugh so hard that tea comes out your nose, and cry over characters that you wish were your best friends.

The Panopticon:  The incomparable Franklin Habit.  Funny, wise, snarky, erudite, and adorable. Ostensibly a knitting blog, but even if you’ve never knitted a stitch, reading Franklin’s posts will make you wish that you, too, were a cute, multi-talented, artistic, Buddhist, creative gay man whose alter-ego is a boozing, politicking, philandering, rabble-rousing sheep named Dolores.

Spirit Cloth: To call Jude a textile artist is like saying e. e. cummings dabbled in poetry. Astonishng, soul-feeding work. I visit there regularly but don’t comment as often as I should because there are only so many ways of saying “oh, my god.”

Whiskey River:  Disseminator of wisdom via an electronic chapbook.  Poets, zen masters, lovers, and fools.

Green Chair Press:  For lovers of books, makers of books, font fans, letterpress and type geeks, and appreciators of all sorts of typographic and literary beauty.

Woolgathering: Artist Elizabeth Perry’s daily sketch journal. She inspires me to see the beauty in the everyday–under her skillful eye a tossed-0ff sketch of a candy wrapper, a lighted lamp, a few cherries, even a pair of flip flops shows us the essence of the thing. And makes me think it’s not silly to subject you fine readers to sketches of staplers and jars of peppercorns.

Nichobella:  Healing through art. Acey’s journals, textile arts, and explorations of what makes us who we are take us beyond the level of “crafting.”

Contemplating the Moon:  Ah, if only. This blog introduced me to encaustics. Which I will never, never master. But I will always, always try.

Joe Pastry:  Want to know how to make your own pasta on your kitchen table?  Why you should make jelly rolls?  What kind of flour makes the best pizza in your back yard bread oven (because we know you have one of those)?  How to make Cornish pasties, an Alsatian onion tart, two kinds of fruitcake and your own homemade caramel? Course you do.

Tea Spot:  My friends and family know me as someone whose blood type is Earl Grey, so I was delighted to find Ana’s tea blog. Besides taking the best food photographs around, Ana gives you the scoop (get it? little matcha joke there) on all kinds of teas and how to brew them. Best of all, she shares info on where to find (and, often, how to make) yummy comestibles to go with them.   Japanese Hiking Donuts, anyone? Or tea-poached pears?  Put the kettle on–I’m on my way!

elsewhere: He takes you there.

3191: That’s the number of miles that separate photo-bloggers Stephanie and Mav in their respective Portlands. Their cameras are our windows on the quotidian beauty in their worlds that let us see the same in ours.

maya*made:  I read many, many, many art and craft blogs and would love to be able to list them all here. But since Ron says that 15 is the magic number, I have to pick one, and this is my pick.  Beautiful, simple, creative things made with love and shared with us.

the worst horse:  Had enough of those boots of Chinese plastic?

Now, each of these bloggers has to think of their list of 15–tag, you’re it.

And thanks again, Ron–hope it’s a beautiful day for a bike ride where you are.

The exodus of jazzy pigeons . . .

Perhaps when you were in elementary school you learned a pangram or two.  A pangram (from the Greek pan gramma) is a sentence or phrase that contains all the letters of the alphabet.  Here is one that you may have seen:

Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.

Cases for loose type (also called job cases, or California job cases) are often labeled with a strip of paper on which a pangram has been printed in the font the case contains, to help you envision what your printed material will look like.

Over at Green Chair Press, Susan has a wonderful post today featuring some great photos of job cases adorned with such pangrammic magic.  My favorite:

For more printerly/book bindingly/artistic/poetic wonder, visit the blog for yourself.

I always do . . . until I don’t

Carry my camera with me, that is.  So I didn’t have it with me when I attended a small, wonderful dinner party on Thursday of this past week. Three of my favorite women friends and I get together for a post-Christmas dinner every year, and this year our celebration was a little more . . . um . . . post than usual.

I wish I could show you the beeeyooootiful food. The chicken tikka. The curried vegetables. The rice–two kinds of rice! The spicy shrimp. The cucumber raita, the potato and pea samosas, the naan (okay, I made the naan myself), the wine, the apple dessert, the lovely table setting.

I wish I could replay the marvelous conversation that went on for long, leisurely hours.

Hmm. Maybe not–much o f it is just fine staying within the four walls where it took place. Ahem.

Anyway, all I have to show you is this little pen and watercolor sketch, which I made the next day.  Each of us had two little jars by her plate, our take-home goodies.  Various spices, with instructions to go home and use them in a new dish. Mine were fenugreek and pink peppercorns in a neat little thick green glass bottle stoppered with a cork.

Pink peppercorns in a green glass bottle

Pink peppercorns in a green glass bottle

Now–does anyone have a nifty recipe to share that makes use of fenugreek and pink peppercorns?