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marriage, a handmade house, and christmas gift #1

each week until christmas i'm going to post at least one thing that costs under $50 and would make someone (not just me, silly!) pretty tickled to receive as a gift.

 i also found this in the dec/jan issue of dwell. these folks are in arizona and although i hold a great love for modern, i do have kind of a farm-in-the-woods fantasy, make that a need. i think i dream of hand building (with who exactly? how many people want to hand build the insides of their house?) my home in this same way. although i'd like more wood than these guys and perhaps just a scootch more furniture, i love the space. i LOVE the feeling of having space, of each thing being important, without too many things. a handmade house. here's some of their more here.

with this blog i mostly need to write about and collect things of beauty and sustainability that i want to keep record of. this being the case, i've tried not to talk about my personal life too much here but there was an article in the NYTimes with all the usual statistical crap about marriage and it got me going a little. i know what it's like to not listen to your heart and to go ahead with something that, intuitively, is maybe not the most super healthy choice. i have an opinion as to where the mistake lies in our culture that sends the divorce rate ever skyrocketing. but i almost feel like i should keep that to myself. i wouldn't have listened to me two years ago. which is actually perfect because i wouldn't be able to understand that i am actually capable of being married if not for my failed first endeavor. i'm thankful for the evolution of everything. i'm thankful for the understanding that it is what i can give that is my greatest 'possession'. i love the idea of marriage but it sits best for me in the context of a larger family, mine, my spouse's, and friends who are family. i am still looking for my tribe. i don't think marriage makes any sense unless you are truly willing to come to the essence of who you are in this life. your spouse is only a mirror showing you where you lack faith, self-love and acceptance, patience...what's the point of entering into the contract if you're only planning to leave if the self-inquiry becomes too much for you? in my months of reflection i have learned what commitment is for me, how much i am capable of loving, and that true love might be mostly mutual willingness to explore together, to face what comes together (although a little swashbuckling and derring-do might be nice too). 

so this is for you to know, you who i don't know... i have no fear to lose myself in you and if i ask you for the truth of your heart, and i truly love you, i will accept your truth as it comes, just as you will accept mine. i can spend quite a lot of time not speaking but when speaking i will remind you how much i love you with the feeling under my words. communion is a mutual allowing of space and a lack of rejection of differences and if ever you want me to be someone other than who i am i will know it. be aware that, if i were to marry you, i will see god in you, and i will never get tired of serving you because it gives me strength. i want your family to be my family so that i can have another opportunity to learn how people give to and take care of each other, as my family will do for you. and if there never is another, there will be me, and that's enough.


an artist direction


It was announced to me a little while ago that I would be moving in an artist direction. That sounds good. This is the jumping off place, here. Everything now can be done with disregard to any purpose except my own intuitive fulfillment. And if I can pick up a few collaborators, a few lovely and brilliant artisans, to be on my team along the way, what a good life this will be. I am so inspired by your creativity. I was watching Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (soooo good, nearly tied for my favorite movie with The Thomas Crown Affair remake, sigh) (I know I've just admitted A LOT about myself here) for the hundredth time last night and at some point Shahrukh Khan's character says "there is no pain in true love". And I got to thinking that everything we do, if we know what true love is, is without problem. It all goes towards a distinct and delightful lack of problems. My mind will always want to pick things apart, weigh and judge, which is great for getting me across the street safely. But the quieter bits, beyond the mind, closer to the heart, say "there is no problem here" and that is the best part of myself that I can share. This way I also get to go where the wind takes me, not where I think I should be. That is so liberating.

recent work/rework



Potential. Funny thing. I've just been involved in the first part of my greatest migration to date. Possibly this is the greatest migration of my life. Leaving one's house and town for another place, an unknown place, is one thing. But leaving behind your attachment to the life you were planning to have is something else entirely. There was a point last spring when something shifted so much within that the entire world began to respond differently to me. A giant hand lifted me into the river and every time I try for the shore I get a nudge back to the swiftest current. The river swept everything away, everything I thought I had or would have, my marriage, my home and my family. Everything I thought I knew has become an illuminator and the light is shining on the truth: that I am not in charge. At some point recently I became aware that I do not function well in the collective consciousness, that I have another purpose, perhaps just as a counter weight. I function from the heart and my greatest goal is still family, home, chickens in the yard, love, creativity, regardless of what looks like it has been taken away. I love and appreciate beautiful things and experiences, and I am willing to work to have them, but not at the expense of the delicate and sweet things within myself that will suffer if I get too tired. Being back here in Fairfield for a bit is like being in the wash. I'll be all clean and shiny when the spin cycle spits me out into Dharma. And speaking of Dharma, this is what I know right now, when they said follow your bliss, they were not lying. The bliss is the Dharma and whatever actions the bliss manifests itself in is the Work. The life's work, you know, until something changes! I have spent too long believing in things I was told I should believe, I should think, I should do, I should want. That's done now. I've vowed to get out of my own way. I might be really happy about where I end up. I have a few leads and I'll keep you posted.

 I have a long love affair with Ray LaMontagne. Mostly because he can make this.


DM/DM and studio gorm, different, good

let me share a couple of furniture designers that have made me very happy in my weekly discoveries. the photos above are courtesy of studio gorm in eugene, oregon. this is their wood peg design, which comes as a set in various different woods. i love the ability to put douglas fir legs with a walnut surface. it is very simple, good design and i think beautiful, even cute. i would want to sit on the bench and take off my Wellies after mucking about in the coop.

there is another studio you should check out, although i can't borrow photos from the website and since my scanner is all packed up for the move, i can't scan in the lovely magazine article either. still looking and if i find any i'll see if i can post them. anyhoo, check out the december issue of W or go to the DM/DM website to see some very beautiful work from doug mccollough. it is all very elegant and at the same time not precious, just refined furniture that your dog could lay on and the kids could play on but that you would still get a kick out of living with and loving even as it ages. the materials and shapes are stunning and, at least from the photos on the website, there's a hint of the danish but overall so new england to me, in a kind of vernacular that i haven't seen before, which i think is brilliant. they remind me of my childhood, completely on a feeling level, which is unusual for me to find in furniture. i think you should go buy a DM/DM piece for the foyer, or maybe for me for christmas.




This is a very nice film from 2009 with a philosophy to be considered, although I should say it has been more than considered but things have gone a bit awry anyway. Watch for the super elegant Parisian designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec speaking about the design of a chair, its aesthetic beauty and other fine things, and conclude that "So Australians who have drunk a lot of beer can plunk themselves down in it." Also, watch for Dieter Rams speaking about "the arbitrariness and thoughtlessness with which many things are produced and brought to market" while a montage of distinctly European Braun products is run through in a loving manner. After over half a century the philosophies of these aging modern designers are still poignant and still unadopted by the masses. I love a little gilt mixed in with my austerity but the gilt is decoration while the design is function. This film reinforces that idea for me. I find I'm continually trying to ferret out more permanence and slowness from the design world. This is the curator in me.  What do we gather and use that stands the test of time? Why do we replace things that still work? I do both of these things but as I get older I both acquire less and get rid of less. I'm very interested in why. What is the difference between the need to acquire something and the ability to savor the emotion that it produces in you but not need to have it? I love things, and human creativity astounds and delights me, but I think we are at the point where we need to curate our lives in a different way. The choice to move out of the collective consciousness seems to be inspiring many people to finally go for what they really want in their work and to also remove what is no longer working from their spaces. I want to help facilitate this phenomenon.


natural fashion, what inspires me

 text from Departures magazine

Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa 

Hans Silvester's photographs of the Surma and Mursi tribes of the Omo Valley. Nomads with no architecture or commercial crafts, it's all about physical ornament from the nearly infinite palette of their surroundings. They are stunning children. Imagine creating all that without a mirror to look into. Why would you do it if you couldn't look at yourself? With the abundance of blogs where cute girls photograph themselves in their daily outfits, it's kind of major to think about these tribes motivations. What are the differences between what they are doing and what we are doing in our own closets each day? I'm not sure, but I think the differences are vast and worth considering. We are bound in a system of commerce and lack of community. I believe there is change ahead on both counts.

california sunrise

feeling the weight of the world on a beautiful snowy day? i am today. each time i think i can move forward in action, things stall or delay. i've put all my faith in the river and discarded the life vest. these kids, john and lincoln ballif are in high school in san diego. their band is called dirty gold, the song is california sunrise. it's a perfect warm kiss if you have a cold cheek. all things are moving towards bright.


hometown pride

little rhody, i'm so proud. i just ordered mine. go here for a great video on rhody warm blankets. click here to order one for your rustic, hot chocolate fueled winter! here is the text from the article in design new england magazine. link to it here. all of my friends can expect one on the nearest holiday!

Sustainability takes many forms, few as comforting — in both a tactile and soulful way — as the Rhody Warm blankets produced in Rhode Island. It started with sheep, as so many things in Rhode Island have over the centuries. Sheep have grazed its seaside meadows since the 1600s, on land graced by dry-laid stone walls that can still be seen today. Exports of wool, mutton, and cheese (yes, sheep cheese) formed the basis of the colony's earliest commerce and are said to have brought the state out of the economic plight that followed the Revolutionary War.
So it rankled Polly Hopkins when in the 1980s and‘90s there was so little demand for sheep's wool that farmers were literally throwing it away. “We used it as mulch in our garden for a few years,” says Hopkins, a third-generation sheep producer who is president of the Rhode Island Sheep Cooperative, a group of farmers dedicated to finding markets for local sheep products.
As Hopkins and other Rhode Island farmers watched the demand for wool decrease, partly due to the popularity of synthetics such as Polarfleece, they did some brainstorming. They had some success selling yarn for hand-spinning and knitting, which were both experiencing a resurgence, but found that the yarn took only a fraction of the hundreds of pounds of wool the Ocean State produced each year.
“We're creative; we find other ways to sell wool,” says Don Minto, a sheep producer who, with his wife, Heather, manages Watson Farm in Jamestown, Rhode Island, a 265-acre property with a 1796 farmhouse owned by Historic New England. In 2006, Hopkins, the Mintos, and other farmers collaborated on procuring a government grant to finance the initial costs for producing an undyed soft wool blanket made entirely from local fleece — and Rhody Warm was born.
It was an immediate success. The 2006 blanket featured a win-dowpane pattern in gray and off-white. “We placed an ad for it in the local paper on a Thursday in mid-December,” recalls Don Minto, “and the blankets sold out by Sunday!”
That first year, 19 Rhode Island sheep producers collected 1,600 pounds of wool to produce 371 blankets in sizes ranging from crib to king. Since then, says Hopkins, as many as 65 local producers have contributed wool, and as many as 600 blankets have been produced in a given year. “It goes up and down, depending on how much wool is produced,” says Hopkins.
The blanket production sequence that began in 2006, a lengthy and geographically circuitous one, is still followed. The animals are shorn in late spring, and in June the sheep producers gather to “skirt” the fleece, that is, remove matted sections and sort it by color. White, nonwhite, gray, and black fleece are bagged separately and shipped to a wool scouring facility in South Carolina (no such facility remains in New England). “The wool comes back clean and fluffy,” says Hopkins. At this point, the blanket design is discussed. “Only after we see the wool washed and carded do we know what percentage of light and dark we have, and then we can plan the design,” says Heather Minto, who is not only a sheep producer but a textile designer as well.
A small windowpane pattern with a natural background and oxford grey panes was chosen for the 2010 blanket (past patterns include buffalo plaid and herringbone). After the pattern is committed to paper, the washed wool is shipped to a mill in Massachusetts, where it is spun into yarn. Another textile mill in Massachusetts weaves the yarn into cloth, which is shipped to a Rhode Island mill where it is cut into various sizes, the edges are finished, and the Rhody Warm label is added. The final products range in size from lap throw ($80) to king size ($225), and this year, shawls and dog coats are also being offered.
“We like to get the blankets back to the farmers by late October, so they can sell them in November,” says Hopkins, who says the blankets are a favorite holiday or wedding gift. As for the sheep, well, they're still grazing, and that's the way it should be in Rhode Island.

Long before “locally grown,” “sustainable,” and “neutral palette” were part of the consumer vocabulary, New Englanders used simple blankets in whites, grays, and browns to ward off the chill. They had to — there weren't other choices. Today, in addition to Rhode Island, several other New England states are again making wool blankets from their locally raised sheep.
RHODE island
Rhody Warm blanket,
The Connecticut Blanket Project,
Baaay State Blanket Project,
Vermont Fiberworks Blanket,


founders & followers

from top: mission statement, bodkin, shipley & halmos, risto, gar-de

a beautiful, simple website, founders & followers. not much to say about it except that i look forward to the idea of boutique shopping changing and evolving and this is an inspiring direction. 


pf chang's loves me

here is the transcript of a phone message I received last week:

"hello, this is zang from, uh, pf chang's. your orange chicken is ready. we have a limited time offer, very good deal, uh, four chicken egg roll and four hot and sour egg roll for two dollar. very good deal, very good deal. so please drop by our store at flatiron's crossing. we a very good store, very good food and very good deals. free fortune cookie, too. ok! love you, bye!"

  i've never been to pf chang's but they sound really nice! and multicultural judging by the Indian accent!