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Former Etsy Narrative for my Archives

[Here in my etsy shop, I share with you reclaimed paperbacks, many of them favorite books I’ve read myself, including pulp fiction, pop lit, bestsellers, and classics I haven’t.]

I have always loved books. It was my excuse to get a degree in English and the humanities (the one major that fed my reading addiction). Besides going to the library every Saturday with my sisters and dad as a child, I ended up working in libraries for years starting in high school and through college. Before he took off for Vietnam, after he’d moved us North in case he didn’t come back, my dad took us to the local library to meet the children’s librarian, Mrs. Nickerson. He did come back and we continued our weekly library jaunts to libraries wherever we were living at the time from Steubenville, Ohio, to Oceanside, California, back to Cape Cod and more. When I had my own children, the library was an outing at least once a week, usually more. We’d spend hours there in the Fletcher Free Library in Burlington, Vermont. Libraries always felt like home to me. Even on vacations, we always went to the local library.
A library job is what brought me from Vermont back to the Cape, and while the job didn’t work out (people change) and I miss Vermont terribly, my love of books remains constant and saves me from total despair at times.

[While some of these books are well worn, they are not in tatters and still highly readable. Some are even written in so you can share another reader’s journey as you take your own. With a book, you can escape to all over the world. You can inhabit the life of someone else when you need to escape from your own. You’re never alone with a book. And along with a book, goes a good cup of tea. I am a tea connoisseur as well as a bibliophile and will include in each package some hand-stuffed and tied bags of some of my favorite teas. Enjoy!]

Crushing on Alice Carey (and Linda)

Well, if you must know, the crush with Alice and her memoir has waned a bit since I first drafted this piece. What can I say? Linda Rodin came along in the meantime. But heck, I’m allowed more than one girl crush. Now that I think of it, I probably have several, those two just happen to be high on my radar at the moment.

What attracts me to them? With Alice, it’s the vintage, the gay culture, Ireland, and her words. Her home in Bantry, County Cork, being only about 16 miles from my home there is another reason. I’d love to meet up with her next time I’m across the pond. We could pop into Skib or Clonakilty, maybe have some fish and chips for a fiver at the bar in Union Hall, or grab a coffee at the Coffee Shop. I imagine Alice loves the charity shops as much as I do, and of course, there’s glorious walks and wine in between it all. We’d have plenty to while away a bit of girl time before we’d venture back to the rest of our lives.

As for Linda, I can’t quite put my finger on why I’m crushing on her. I love her casual, approachable vibe, her cluttered apartment, simple style, her independence and entrepreneurial spirit. And her poodle’s name! (as that is my pet name for a special someone in my life, too). And while I do like my icons with a twee less notoriety, I know that Linda can’t help it. Since she’s been “discovered”, she’s a hot topic on many blogs and in many magazines. But I won’t hold that against her if I can have a cappuccino and a chat with her someday. I mean, I live near the beach and loads of shells (which she loves); perhaps I can persuade her to visit?

Reading

My parents were readers and I am a reader. I love reading as much, if not more, than I love baking (and drinking tea). Reading becomes my Looking Glass, I can get lost for a very long time in a book. My first “real” job after babysitting was in a library and it continued off and on for many years. So, it only stands to reason that I love words and how they are strung together, playfully, seriously, nonsensically, poetically…some folks express themselves with canvas, clay, flowers, …others express themselves through farming perhaps or setting a beautiful table and so on…It’s all art to me. All of us tell a story when we do this although we ourselves and others may not be aware of it. Because one must pay close attention. The story isn’t always where we’re looking for it. And somewhere in all that work, the kernel of the story is rooted in love. In the latest book I’m reading, it is prefaced with a quote from Clarissa Pinkola Estes, one of my favorite storytellers. It’s from “The Gift of Story: A Wise Tale About What Is Enough.”

“Of all the gifts that people can give to one another, the most meaningful and long lasting are strong but simple love and the gift of story.”

Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

If Alice validated my love of simple, Heidi encouraged me to experiment. To be adventurous with ingredients I have or don’t have. To seek a foundation for the ingredients I have on hand and adapt a recipe to them. And I’ve been successful! When I was much younger (although it doesn’t seem as much!), I used to think exotic spices, herbs and other ingredients created a great dish. I could not have been more wrong.
I have since learned that good old salt and pepper can be the best seasoning, maybe butter, garlic and olive oil, too.
Heidi does create recipes with ingredients that I would not necessarily consider combining though and her Sweet Potato Spoon Bread recipe is one of them. But, like I said, she taught me to take more risks in the kitchen. After all, if I’m going to live on the edge, the kitchen’s a fairly safe place to do it. So, I gave the spoon bread a try. And it was delish! So good that I have since repeated it and also discovered another blogger’s recipe that is a sweet potato soup with goat cheese biscuits. In the interest of simple and ease though, I use Heidi’s from her cookbook Super Natural Cooking, leaving out the shallots. So it’s basically just the mashed sweet potatoes with some whole wheat pastry flour and eggs stirred in, layered in a casserole with dollops of creamy goat cheese and baked. Even Marty likes it! Super Natural Cooking was the first cookbook I’d bought new in decades. I highly recommend it with the caveat that one way I’ve figured out I must buy a certain book is when I’ve checked it out from the library several times, keeping it on my shelf longer than the library’s probably had it on theirs!

Simple Potato Gratin

Hmmm, what to make for dinner? Truth be told, I love to bake but am not crazy about cooking. Or perhaps I should clarify…involved cooking. I like simple food. Straightforward ingredients. Seasonal and as local as I can get is good, too. This makes me a huge fan of Alice Waters. If I ever needed someone to validate my need to cook (and bake) this way, it is Alice. Why validate? Because Alice elevates simple cooking to the sublime. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be divine. So thank you, Alice, for helping me realize that I am a great cook sometimes and an even better baker most times.
And here is one of Alice’s recipes from The Art of Simple Food: Potato Gratin. For the details, I encourage you to get her book…if you can’t buy it, borrow it from your local library system.

What I use: several potatoes, thinly sliced and layered in a buttered casserole pan. Salted and peppered on each layer. Overlap the layers and if you’d like, layer in some thinly sliced onions or other veggie you may love (even kale!). Marty, me matey, doesn’t like onions so I sprinkle a light layer of smoked Gouda or other cheese we like. When I’ve used up the potatoes, or filled my casserole, I pour a mixture of milk and heavy cream over it to cover the potatoes. Sprinkle on some paprika, maybe some bread crumbs, and bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for about an hour. Serve with greens and/or whatever accompaniments feed your soul at that moment. Breathe deeply and enjoy!

Books, Movies and the Characters

A favorite movie was Harold and Maude (seen it about three times), above info courtesy of Black Dog Finds. I’m on a quest. haven’t figured out what it is yet, but I do know I’m on a quest.

Teachers

At least one more teacher coming for the retreat, possibly two. Gathering teachers is not as easy as it sounds.

That’s been one of the hardest parts for me, besides the marketing. While I am definitely a people person, marketing is not my strong point. Selling, you know? I can sell when there’s no pressure, nothing at stake (my pride, definitions of success and so on). I can sell what I love that someone else has made, but not when it’s my own. It’s that struggle with ego and when to toot your own horn, when no one’s even heard it to begin with! But I’m excited to think the final pieces of the teacher puzzle are coming into place.

This process has taught me how much work is involved putting one of these things together — even a wee one like BEAR. I have tremendous respect for the herculean effort Elizabeth puts into Squam. It boggles my mind. When I saw five retreats listed on her site the other day, I gasped — and then clicked on her staff page which brought a big smile — just little ol’ her and Peg! How can you not love someone who dreams so big?

I believe in spirit guides, in the energy of a place and in the energy of beings gone before us — where so of and of whom we channel through our own existence and actions. Miss Alice Mable Bacon and Mrs. Mary Alice Armstrong are very much alive in Elizabeth MacCrellish. When she referred to her climb up Rattlesnake when all was said and done the other day and she saw a sign she’s never noticed on previous climbs, that’s when I knew.

“To the Aborigines, geography is memory. Every mile sings, every mountain speaks of their ancestors’ journeys. Nothing is irrelevant, nothing is lost to death. All things partake of life’s spirit and vitality, the land is vigorously alive, unseen forces flourish, and all have a special site (or Dreaming Place) that is a spiritual home for them and their ancestors.”
~ from my current bedside book, Deep Play by Diane Ackerman, one of my favorite authors.

** image from my heaven on earth, Owl’s Head, Groton State Forest, Vermont

Deep Play

Definition from the cover of:
n. 1. A state of unselfconscious engagement with our surroundings 2. An exalted zone of transcendence over time 3. A state of optimal creative capacity

Diane Ackerman is one of my favorite authors — if you’ve never read her book A Natural History of the Senses, then I suggest you skedaddle to the nearest library and check it out. It is exquisite, particularly when she writes about our sense of smell and our sense of touch, how/why certain customs and words evolved and so on.

The Zookeeper’s Wife is another good one. The latest I’m reading is Deep Play, and so much of it resonates with me on so many levels. My sense of place, my self-definition and the themes I encounter in my daily life — it’s like all of us on this planet really are pulsating to the same rhythm, at different times and sometimes the same time. One breath, one voice, one consciousness. Blows me away. I believe it’s a vibration we’re unconsciously aware of on a subliminal level when we engage in deep play,alone and in community. And the deeper we go in our play, the more in tune with others we seem to become.

More intuitive and sensitive to the subtle nuances and layers of meaning in our everyday language, geography, and encounters, more in touch with our essential spirits — that spirit that transcends time, space and our bodies. It can be scary and exhilarating simultaneously.

A state of heightened attention because we are so in the zone. Riding that Big Kahuna.

Etsy


I’ve not had anything in my etsy shop for quite some time but thought I’d give it a go again with my latest idea. I love Persephone books but I’m not about to start a publishing company reprinting some of my favorite OOP (out-of-print in library lingo) books, or just plain favorites from my reading history. But I do love books and I do love tea, both of which I also like to share.

So my etsy shop is now a place where I will sell vintage and thrifted, otherwise homeless books along with some of my favorite teas. The catch is of course, trust. The customer trusting that the book I send they will enjoy because I am covering the books with maps and brochures from my travels. So there will be no conscious choice in this other than that someone decides they need a book and some tea (or perhaps a friend needs it), and I am the book lover to send it, so it is sent. I will also have no idea what book I am sending out to someone.

Why? Sometimes surprises are good. And sometimes what appears to be a surprise at the time may prove to be synchronicity. Like maybe there is a particular book someone is needing to read or reread and through no conscious work on my part or theirs, that is the book that appears in their mailbox. The only choices will be around the tea — and that I’m working on. For now I just have vanilla rooibos. And sometimes I’ll probably include a couple vegan cookies for good measure (I’m having a ball creating recipes for them and sharing the cookies). Just because. It’s kinda fun, you know?