Morning rituals

I have long envied people who stick to their morning rituals. Or maybe they rely on them. I find the world highly ephemeral. I try not to rely on anything I don’t feel compelled to rely upon.

So I’ve watched over the years, now that people share, in the Instagram perfection of it all, their rituals, if not daily, then at least over time what appears to be a daily thing.

The first action of the day might be making coffee. They grind, froth, stir, and ease into their day. Some get kitted up and cycle to their favorite spot where they meet others of similar ilk and collectively drink and eat a bite of something before whisking off on their daily ride.

Lots of folks I know head quietly to their workshop of choice. Wood, pottery, metal–it matters not. They spend some time making things that they or others may cherish for years to come, a tribute before heading off to work. Sometimes it’s a wish, a hope, or prayer that they can spend more time doing the creative activity they love.

My mornings have been defined by external factors for a long time. Garbage and recycling 3 times a week. Getting DaKid™ on the school bus. Sometimes commuting. But not much in the way of taking a few moments to greet the day.

I have a pile of gifts that I’ve been making in my little wood shop for a while. Some of the folks have been waiting years for their gifts to be completed. Sad. So terribly sad. Last year and now this year have been banner years for completing projects. Bookcases, a dining room table, and now the gifts are all being finished. And while it’s a tiny fraction of what it used to be, I’m even working on some new music.

I find new rituals establishing themselves. After taking care of the other stuff (garbage, School bus, etc.) I make my way to the shop and spend a few minutes adding another coat of shellac to a board. Or some other not very risky task. Risk takes time. I need to be able to back away, think, come at it again. There’s little time for that in my morning.

Shellac is a beautiful finish. A bit high maintenance for some, but beautiful. I use very thin coats and many of them. Each day another thin layer is applied. It’s probably dry in ten of fifteen minutes, but work beckons, and so I don’t make it back there until the end of the day. It is ritualistic. I go down there, flick on the lights, put one glove on like a drunken surgeon, uncap the canning jars, one with shellac, one with the cloth pad. A few swipes later, and I’m done for now. The jars are lidded, and the glove, turned inside out as I remove it, goes in the trash.

More recently, as I began composing some new music, I started practicing again. I sit down, grab an instrument, turn on the metronome and lose myself in exercises for 15 or 20 minutes. Amazingly peaceful for me. A touchstone from an older aspect of my life and a meditation. And probably something I should every day for the rest of my life. It’s not “playing” or “performing”. It’s a simple discipline where I work toward increasing facility. Playing things that are hard for me now until they become smooth and easy. A new picking technique. A hard to play phrase. A difficult intervalic leap. A few concentrated minutes that stops time outside of my focus before the day is in full swing. A morning ritual.

First coat on the bottom… Just before, I knocked back the top's two coats with a #3000 grit automotive pad. I know it has its limitations...but shellac is such a beautiful finish. #whisperworkshop #handwork #handtools #woodworking #woodwork #everythingmatters

Some comments on The Anarchist’s Design Book

Some comments on The Anarchist’s Design Book:

Which brings me to my final point. Schwarz has been one of my favorite go-to writers for matters of technique for well over a decade. With this book, (and to be honest, this really snuck up on me) he’s also suddenly sitting as one of my favorite designers. These pieces are all based in historical research, and standing on the shoulders of centuries of other makers – but the results are, to my eye, most definitely his. I’ve been looking at iterations of the desk and chair above, both in photos and in person, for months now, and I think they’re some of my favorite designs of recent memory. And they’ve only gotten more appealing to me over time – which, to me, is the key hallmark of really good design.

[If you the read the piece I wrote on ratios it would be very easy to know all my interests intersect. Music, cooking, coding, baking, woodworking, photography, and others have a thread woven through them for me which I endeavor to exploit. The technical similarity makes for a warm welcome. And while ratios bring some rigor to the process, in the end they inform the process of design and composition and can be extracted from designs as well. A tool on the road to making a point that comes and goes like a barn swallow. The Anarchist’s Design Book. That’s aesthetic anarchy. Not the stuff that passes for anarchy in the news these days. You don’t have to build furniture or work with wood to be impacted by Schwarz’s books. It’s as much about eliminating consumerism, stewardship, and the cost of things. The tool chest in the first book in this series was a metaphor as much as a reality.

And if you love beautiful design rendered as tools, go convince Raney to sell you something. You won’t regret it.]

Here’s why your farmed salmon has color added to it

Here’s why your farmed salmon has color added to it:

The fact that consumers will shell out more for salmon that looks wild—even if it got that way by eating pellets in its pen—hints that people want to be eating wild salmon, but not quite badly enough to buy the real deal. If it’s price that’s keeping consumers from buying wild-caught salmon, they might want to consider saving a few bucks more and start demanding farmers cut out those expensive pigments—and sell them salmon that’s gray.

[Interesting. But I’d be surprised if it happened. Maybe if a company wanted to take on the marketing of a “new” fish and not call it salmon… and still charge nearly as much. What a mess. (I should add that assuming that none of the folks involved are lying to us, we buy wild salmon, we’re not fans of food coloring.)]

Sowing a Change in Kitchens

Sowing a Change in Kitchens:

The soil-tilling food experts happen to be every bit as expressive, and iconoclastic, as their knife-wielding counterparts in the kitchen. These days, many in the culinary world tend to view produce in a black-and-white way: You have either your delightfully lumpy, bumpy farmers’ market treasures, or your scarily uniform corporate Frankenfood. As Mr. Barber said, it’s “heirlooms over here, Monsanto maniacs over there.”

But Monday’s convocation, overseen by the Basque Culinary Center, suggested a third way: Independent breeders are ready to help make our breads and salads richer with deep flavor, bold color and plenty of nutrients. They just need someone to ask them.

What they do may also be seen as an old-school alternative to the spread of genetically modified plants, which have not been shown to be harmful but still frighten and concern many people.

“We’re making crosses within the same species, and we’re doing it the way it’s been done for 300 years,” said Dr. Stephen Jones, a wheat breeder from Washington State whose accessibly folksy lecture had the room transfixed. “There’s no forcing here. We put these plants together and we let them mate.”

[Since this ultimately will be driven by business and not love, it cares me a bit. But I’m curious to see where it goes.]

Uncle Glenn and The Choice of Buying Organic

Uncle Glenn and The Choice of Buying Organic:

To Glenn, a farmer’s job is to produce as much food as he possibly can, because people tend to need more food than they have. Developing and improving chemicals that increase yields is one way the farm industry keeps up with ever-increasing demand. We tend to look at the environmental damages caused by industrial farm runoff—not to be understated—and we associate the pollution with corporate greed. It’s easy to forget that without these chemicals, we’d perhaps have less food. The cost/benefit analysis here is tied inextricably to the ones that motivate our individual consumption, and it’s even harder to balance.

[Puff piece? You decide. But I think the answer is in distributed growing rather than in counting on “specialists” (farmers) for everything. There was a time when everyone was a “farmer” for themselves. What if stopped growing lawns (I don’t) and started vegetable gardens? Don’t you think that improve things for everyone? I do.]

Source: Simple Blog

Bread elevates your sense of “home”


If you want make any abode feel like a home you should bake bread. I don’t know why it makes this seem truer than preparing other food stuffs. But it does. Never done it before? Think you lack the equipment? Here’s what to do. Go to your local pizza place. Ask for one of the uncooked rounds of dough they make into a pizza. Take it home, shape to suit, pop into the oven until it looks done to you. Wonder at how you’ve just elevated the sense of home in your house, apartment, hovel, what have you…

Now, start looking at recipes…

The Fox Is Black » Magnus Nilsson’s Arctic Cuisine


The Fox Is Black » Magnus Nilsson’s Arctic Cuisine:

The menu at Fäviken is changeable, as when one ingredient runs out, it needs to be replaced by another. We never replace dishes ”just because”, instead we would rather wait for a new ingredient, idea or dish that is actually better than the one being replaced. Much of what we serve has its own life and remain on the menu for a long time, slowly evolving into something entirely different to the original, despite having the same name throughout its life.

[Like the philosophy, can’t speak for the food.]