Twelve years ago on October 12th, I finished my show as Pippi Longstocking at the Norsk Høstfest and walked around to say hello to the wood workers.
There was a cute guy in suspenders and a plaid cap, carving a timberframe trestle. I stayed in character… And stopped by again later.
We went to the Ground Round for supper (along with my mom and some of the North House ‘old guys’). We spent the next 4 days of the festival together, making plans for trips to Prague and India. (Charlie the birch bark guy said “don’t go getting married tonight!”)
A week later I visited Grand Marais for the first time. We kayaked Lake Superior (and got soaked), slept in a yurt, looked at stars on the Bridge of the Master, and I kissed him on Fishhook Island.
In January we got engaged.
In August we got married.
Since then we’ve lived in the Twin Cities in an old farmhouse, at a canoe camp at the edge of the Boundary Waters, in the Indian Himalayas, in a yurt at a CSA, and now at the B&B.
I know weddings are a big deal, but the day we first met always seems like the most magical anniversary to me. ❤
I used to think my grandma was a little crazy for having such an enormous garden. I helped her once, but even being paid to weed couldn’t make gardening appeal to me.
Everything changed when I bought my first home in St. Paul: suddenly I was making straight lines curved, dividing and transplanting, and salvaging old bricks for edging.
Here at the B&B we inherited a beautiful perennial garden. After four years I’ve learned that weeding really has to be done right away, before everything gets tall.
An unexpectedly warm May-June has meant I’ve made a lot of progress. I find I’m about as fanatical as my grandma…
Thanks, Dad, for putting up all the lattice!
Also, I can’t recommend the Yard Butler Twist Tiller enough!
I taught my first pie workshop at North House Folk School to a group of 8th graders from the Virgin Islands!
I grew up in Braham, the Homemade Pie Capital of Minnesota. (Really– it’s official. We have a document from the governor). Our Pie Day festival is the first Friday in August, and some 600+ fruit pies are made by volunteers each year. Plus, there’s a pie baking contest, a pie eating contest, and maybe a little pie-ing in the face.
I grew up baking pies with my grandma. There’s something deeply comforting in the twist of the pastry cutter through lard and flour, the clack of the rolling pin, and of course, the rich flavor of berry filling in a tender crust.
I approached North House Folk School with a bunch of ideas for baking classes (brunch, coffee cakes, Scandinavian pastries), and they loved the idea of a pie class.
Before my first class I called my mom up; I needed another experienced baker to be my sounding board. Was estimating half a pie per person too much? Was five pies in three hours totally crazy, especially with 12-year-olds?
I’m happy to report that the class went wonderfully! The kids were great; they were creative with spices, and even did all the dishes!
Teaching pie baking revealed how much I know without knowing I know it. (For example, I had never noticed that I tap pie crusts to test they’re doneness).
I was also delighted to discover I wasn’t an uptight teacher. I always prefer baking solo, and I was a little worried they hyper-critical introvert cook in me might not enjoy this. But it was lovely. To be able to bake a pie feels like proof that you can survive in this world– not just on bread and water and potatoes, but that you can turn very simple things — flour, fat, water, salt, fruit– into something elegant, beautiful, and deeply satisfying.
I also realized that though the kids didn’t make stock photo-worthy pie crusts (an impossible first-time feat), even a messy pie is a beautiful pie. Brush a little egg wash on and the crust shines golden yellow. Didn’t pinch the crusts together properly? Oozing blueberry filling makes a pie look alive, real, made by a human being.
So, all in all, a VERY gratifying experience: delicious pies were made, kids were creative, and I even did some drawing that has me scheming about a hand lettered mini recipe book.
Ever since I met Jay (way back in 2005), he’s wanted to own the bike shop in Grand Marais… and now he does!
Fireweed Bike Co-op had its grand opening on Memorial weekend (when he also rode a 100 mile gravel bike race). Note that it’s conveniently located next to Beth’s Fudge, and across the street from both World’s Best Donuts AND Sydney’s Frozen Custard— so you can fuel up before your ride.
My dad was visiting over the weekend and got put to work…
This makes for a busy schedule (bike shop – mayoring – B&B – summer theater – writing – family time), but it’s really exciting to see this become a reality.
More playing around on my phone, drawing on pictures.
I checked out the library’s iPad… but immediately felt like I would have to DO REAL ART, so I decided to trick myself by messing around on the phone instead.
I’m discovering how much I enjoy drawing on photos, because there’s so much background already in place; I don’t have to construct it all. And I can tell I’m becoming more aware of highlights and low lights. I’m curious to see what happens when I try out [analog] paints.
First of all, I LOVED that each of them led a workshop. It was so much more fun than being at a big conference where everyone is feeling shy and hurrying from one session to the next.
Emily led book deconstruction and reconstruction (or corruption, as my son referred to it).
Emmeline led us through chapter book illustration. We read the first chapter of Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline” and made notes of what we could draw for the full page and for the “spot,” a smaller image. (I discovered that though I like having a picture of the setting, I otherwise choose small tokens that aren’t necessarily important to the plot; others drew the characters right away, but I like to leave that up to the reader).
Alicia showed us her iPad Pro and Apple Pencil… and so began my conversion.
I’m pretty crotchety about technology; I dig my heels in and don’t like new things– i.e., I was totally anti iPod for years– and then I do a total 180.
I should have seen it coming given that I kept asking them, “But don’t people think it’s cheating to go back and forth doing your art on paper and on the computer?”
Nope, not cheating. Not cheating to use the computer, to make multiple photocopies of the “good” sketch, or to use tracing paper.
So, I tried the magic Apple Pencil (which responds to pressure, in addition to having a ton of cool options). And I was in LOVE.
It was so EASY! There was a BACK BUTTON!
I took a picture of my sketch of Coraline’s house…
And started messing around, just using the basic photo editing app on my (android) phone. I loved that I could take pictures along the way. And I discovered that in the digital medium it felt much easier to do background layers– something I seem to forget about on paper.
And here it is: Coraline’s house! Drawn on a phone with my finger!
I’m so grateful to join these lovely ladies, and to discover a very accessible way to illustrate. I’m inspired to illustrate some of my own picture books, and I’m starting to research digital drawing pad options.
My son has really enjoyed drawing on photos. Here’s “Miss Glurkel-Glurk:”
For some reason, he didn’t think it was quite as funny when I drew on a photo of him… Doesn’t this look like a fun character for a story?
A beautiful song by Kraja, for a beautiful afternoon on Lake Superior.
Nu är det synd om dom döda
som ej får sitta i vårens tid
och värma sig i solen
på ljus och ljuvlig blomsterlid
Men kanske viskade dom döda
då ord till vivan och violen
som inga levande förstår
Dom döda veta mer än andra
och kanske skulle dom när solen går
då, med en glädje djupare än vår
bland kvällens skuggor ännu vandra
i tankar på den hemlighet
som bara graven vet
Now it’s a shame about the dead
Who cannot sit in spring time
And warm themselves in the sun
In the bright and lovely season of flowers
But maybe the dead whispered
Words to the primrose and the violet
That no one living understands
The dead know more than others
And maybe when the sun sets
Then, with a joy deeper than ours
Among the shadows of the evening, they shall go walking
Thinking of the secrets
That only the grave knows.