Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Icebird Records

My brother Stephen is a musician.  He writes and records his own songs.  Talk about DIY!  Stephen has been doing it himself, writing and recording his own songs since the early '80s, before there there was even a pat phrase to describe the concept.  Songs are words and music put together, but as a lover of words myself, Stephen's talents as a lyricist are what inspire me the most.  He doesn't write many songs about that most cliched of subjects, romantic love.  His songs explore varied themes, including reverence for nature and the desire for world peace.

One of my favorite albums that Stephen has produced is Birds of Winter.  Here is a sampling of lyrics from "The Crow," which is one of the most admired songs on the album:

"You can shoot crows with your pistol
You can kill them by the score
Old crow’s a survivor no matter what you do
He’ll keep coming back for more

When all of us have left this planet
All our survivors in their grave
They’ll hear the tale of our demise from the beak of some old raven
Who’ll say we got just what we gave"

Here's another favorite album that my brother has produced:

Taking Off is sort of a concept album about the years that Steve spent touring the wilds of Alaska, performing with his wife Kristi.  The album has some great story songs on it, including "The Fisherman Hardly Ever Sleeps" and "Change."  "The Fisherman Hardly Ever Sleeps" paints a pretty accurate portrait of what it's like to spend half your life out on the open seas;  "Change" describes what it's like to live in the crazy-making and isolated environment of a small Alaskan town.

To learn more and hear samplings of the recordings, go to:  http://www.sknebel.com/

Elizabethan Productions

My sister Elizabeth designs and manufactures greeting cards.  She always had a great sense of humor!  When we were teenagers, I can remember her looking through photos and making up funny captions to go with them.  Thirty years have passed and she is still doing it, only now she makes her living at it.
below is a picture from her husband's family photo album:

The caption on the front reads:  "Every man's fantasy is a young babe with a pair of big ones."  The inside caption:  "There's no limit to your Birthday Wish, so THINK BIG."

The next one is a picture of me (on the left) and Elizabeth (on the right.)  I'm 16, she's 23.  The photo was taken on Christmas Day.  I remember this because I am wearing a dorky hat and scarf that my mom gave me.  The caption reads:  "Who finds a friend finds treasure."  --- Irish Proverb

Elizabeth's cards can be found at many fine retail establishments in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.  Check out her website:  http://www.elizabethanproductions.com

She also carries an amazing series of cards cowgirl themed cards.  Check it out!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Found in nature.

The card in the top picture is made with pressed hydrangea blossoms and foliage from the asparagus that my boyfriend planted for me in our yard.  The bottom picture shows the asparagus foliage in its natural setting.  I posted these photos because I wanted to show the connection between the things I like to make and the natural environment that inspires me.

Northwest Bounty

Here's another interesting and well written local cookbook.  It's not just a collection of recipes.  Each chapter focuses on a food group and starts out with an essay, not just on how that food is produced in the Pacific Northwest, but also on who does the producing. The writing style provides a contrast to the other book I mentioned.  In  Dungeness Crab & Blackberry Cobbler, the anecdotes are short and sweet, contained mostly in sidebars or within the body of the recipe, gauged for short reads.  The essays in  Northwest Bounty provide a detailed and flowing narrative that invite the reader's attention and absorption.  Both books are engaging and thoughtfully written in their own way.  I would recommend either one.

Dungeness Crabs & Blackberry Cobbler

This cookbook is exceptional because of the informative anecdotes about the food and folk ways of the Pacific Northwest accompanying the recipes.  It's not just a reference, it's also eminently readable.  The stories give me an opportunity to reflect on the traditions of the region as I try the recipes.  The chapter on wintering-in will prove particularly useful this week as I try to figure out what to do with all the tomatoes we recently harvested with the coming of the first frost.  Also, our neighbor  found some chanterelle mushrooms peeking out from underneath the pine mulch littering the floor of her lushly forested acreage and has been generous enough to share her bounty with us.  I now have the key ingredient to try Hibler's recipe for golden chanterelle griddlecakes!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I live on Vaughn Bay, which is in the South Puget Sound region of Washington State.  I gain inspiration every day from the beauty of my natural environment.  I hope to share some of that inspiration with you, my reader.

This is the view just outside my back door.