Flat Pack Wrangling

Another thing checked off the long-overdue-to-do list: A new filing cabinet for the music room!

New cabinet, unboxed

Frame construction in progress: tightening the cam locks.

Almost done!

The only thing keeping it from completion at this stage was a stuck runner. So naturally we called Mr. Fixit (aka Grond), and he basically went: look, poke, wiggle, look some more, wiggle some more, all done fixed, in about two seconds. Which is precisely what we figured would happen.

Completed cabinet, in situ.

Ta-da! The finished project, in place and ready to go. Music filing, here we come.

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Granola Girl

Finally started making my own granola, a habit I should have picked up ages ago, given how easy it is (and how insane the mark-up is on store-bought cereal, especially the good quality kind).   We used the recipe in the Candle Cafe cookbook as a jumping off point, but really once you’ve done it once, you can pretty much wing it.  Today’s batch was made with rolled oats, slivered and shaved almonds, raisins, craisins, maple syrup, canola oil, coconut, pumpkin seeds and a teaspoon of vanilla.  Even with three cups of oats as the base it made a surprisingly small amount, so I think I’ll start with a minimum of 5 cups next time.  As an added bonus, it fills the house with much the same aroma as baking oatmeal cookies.  The only disadvantage compared to making cookies and muffins is having to be on hand to stir the mixture every 5 minutes or so, so it doesn’t singe.  Absolutely worth it, though.  If I really want to get back to my granola roots (reminiscing on my parents’ Birkenstock and health food co-op days), I should start making my own yogurt too.   Might be a nice goal for the spring, once we’ve attended to the (somewhat neglected) veggie garden.

Home-made granola, first batch of 2015

 

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Happy New Year! (Card Pics by Mark)

Mark’s card design ideas for this year. We ended up going with the first one for our Christmas cards. (All can be clicked on to view full size.) Wishing everyone a 2015 filled with all the things you love best, and at least a few happy surprises along the way!  -T&M

Broken Sphere, original photo by Mark Harrison

Broken Sphere

Big Moon One, original art by Mark Harrison

Big Moon One

Light Speed, original photo by Mark Harrison

Light Speed

Silhouette, original photo by Mark Harrison

Silhouette

String Theory, original photo by Mark Harrison

String Theory

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Allergic to Water

These past few days I’ve been rediscovering the timeless singularity that is Ani DiFranco through the unexpected doorway of her newest album, Allergic to Water. The new tunes led me back to the venerable canon of the 1990’s and I’ve been weaving a path between the two. Listening to the songs that existed on the periphery of my university years through the simultaneously broader and narrower perspective of adulthood has been an interesting experience, to say the least.

The first song below is the title track to the new album. The second one is the classic “Birmingham”, a powerful track from To the Teeth (1999), that to my mind is still relevant today.

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Early Risers vs. Night Owls: A False Dichotomy

Seriously, folks, this is a debate that needs to die and stay dead. The idea that early risers are somehow morally superior, or more valid members of society is ridiculous. The reality, much as I hate the phrase, is that we live in a 24/7 society. All the white collar cubicle workers might be snug in their beds at 4 a.m., but all around the world there are still hospital emergency rooms, factories, 24-hour drug stores, and countless other round-the-clock facilities that need to be staffed by hard-working, dedicated people, who are no less virtuous, or productive, than the farmer who’s up before the crack of dawn, or the coffee-swigging commuter preparing to plunge into early morning rush hour traffic.

If the number of productive hours you put in during one 24-hour period is the same as the next person’s, it doesn’t matter what time you start working and what time you stop. It’s still equally valid, and just as beneficial to society at large. And as with anything else, there are doubtless people who straddle the divide and can function equally well at either end of the spectrum, or who fall somewhere in between the two accepted ‘types’.

On top of all that, as the video below points out (taken, as with all interweb finds, with as big a grain of salt as you prefer), it’s possible that it’s all mostly genetically pre-determined anyhow. Something to think about the next time you want to feel smugly superior over your neighbour, who’s likely working just as hard as you, and going through all the same day-to-day life crap as you are. So please, let’s stop trying to one-up each other with this endless who gets up earlier than whom competition, and get on with living our own lives as best as we can, while appreciating that just because someone next to us does things differently, doesn’t mean it’s better or worse – it’s just different.
/end rant

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Not Quite Ready for Rockets

bagend by Mark A. Harrison

bagend by Mark Harrison

Walking barefoot in the back fields
Beds of soft folded grass hide in forests of thistles
I was missing the purple
(there’s usually more this time of year)
I found it where the hard packed earth gives way to damp
and water squelches between toes
(Must walk more carefully here, step by step, like a dancer)
Golden rod and Queen Anne’s lace, and milkweed not yet ready to burst

Open to the sky, the field stretches in long undulating hills
The mowed patches are scratchy and hard;
the long grass softens closer to the shade

I wish I knew which parts of the plants were edible
the seed pods that look like coriander, but aren’t
They say the roots of the wild carrot are safe;
you may know them by the fans of green that smell like carrots
when you step on them, or rub them between your fingers

There are too many people here, and yet
the number is perfect for the event at hand
(Strangers always stand at a distance,
no matter how close they are)

The hitch-hikers cling to the thin fabric of my over-short dress,
tiny green tag-alongs, bright as fresh moss,
the brightness of limes, that shine more in the imagination
than they do in real life
I will be finding traces of them days from now, will notice
cuts and scratches as an afterthought, and not remember how I got them

Walking in long grass is like the idea of walking among lions, or out into the air:
It only works if you don’t over-think it, if you just let things happen
Most of the time, it’s not true, what people say about belief
but sometimes it almost is

Only yesterday, I was murdering grass with a roaring demon fresh out of hell,
assuaging my conscience (and my future self’s sense of aesthetics)
by leaving islands of peace, tall nodding groves of white,
low lying gardens of fuzzy violet and gold
And yet today I step tip-toe, careful not to crush
the precious food of butterflies, the bedding of faeries,
and all the small gypsies and thieves that roam underfoot

Still more people appear, blue toe-nailed and familiar,
yet even more out of reach
Voices heard since childhood, and yet still not held in confidence,
nor yet sought out when silence may be found instead

The pen is a way of hiding; perhaps more acceptable
than the pages of a book, or worse, a glowing screen;
“Creative urges in action”, we can say, as an excuse;
Grab the moment while you can
A transparent wall of words only I can hear,
the magic of black lines transformed into future memories,
a pre-post-examination of a now that can never be retrieved,
that will always be losing coherence, a moment of truth transformed
second by second into fiction, every image more subtle, or more sharp,
than it was at the time the moment happened

And as always, this thought conjures dragons,
a quintessential embodiment of how
we wish evil would behave in the real world (but doesn’t):
Defeatible by a single arrow, if we can find the right spot,
the vulnerable patch just beneath the wing, behind the left back leg,
where the gold rubbed the scales raw;
If we only had a sacred arrow passed down through generations,
blessed by the collective belief of the ages,
a hundred thousand stories, arguments,
songs, revisions, sermons and lies
(when we start to write lists, it may be time
to put down the pen
and go outside.)

-T.H.
(written on Grondzilla’s birthday weekend, at the farm, August 2014)

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Life, Unbound

Protozoa by Mark Harrison

Protozoa, by Mark Harrison

Transit by Mark Harrison

Transit, by Mark Harrison

These two have always made me think of some kind of cosmic alien life form, not bound by the dimensional restrictions that normally apply to humans. The first one is aptly titled ‘protozoa’. The second one, ‘Transit’, could be an alien egg just about to hatch – or, as suggested, something in transit from one form to another.

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Seagulls on Main Street

launch1 by Mark Harrison

launch1 by Mark Harrison


Seagulls flying down main street
Why does it seem incongruous today?
Reason would suggest that they’re the same ordinary lake gulls
that buzz our parking lots & pick at our garbage
And yet, today it seems as if there might be
some grand conspiracy, some avian plot
as they dip and dive, casing out the buildings, measuring traffic flow
all in preparation for some secret rebellion, some white-feathered coup.

(The young man who brought me my bureka called me “madam”
Does that mean that today I look my age?
Or is it a cultural transplant of politeness?
Would he say that to a fresh-faced young student
still learning the maze of our one-way streets and hellishly steep hills?)

Meanwhile, mother-of-the-year award recipient
hangs back and smokes, while her child plays in the street

Trying to remember the vagueness of cars at that age
knowing they’re big, and fast, and dangerous
but so easy to forget, as you move from one fascination to the next
today, in this moment, it’s watching the leaves collect in the gutter,
multicoloured fly-weight boats riding the cold currents of November winds,
congregating around the sewer grates.

[Could you read the future in the way the foam striations
adhere to the porcelain curves?
A map of subtle imperfections,
and the rate at which things cool:
liquid, solid; love & friendship;
memory and passion.]

Why is it, that to feel strong
people need to make someone else feel weak?
Imagine what the world would be like
if we could all be strong together.

- T.H.
(11.13.14, @ Dreams of Beans)

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Fire and Water

I like the juxtaposition in these three between the concepts of fire/heat and water/coolness. These are all examples of Mark’s digital “paintings”, which combine original photographs with digital layering and manipulation (you can find a brief explanation of the process he uses below the pictures). All can be clicked on to see a larger version.

City Lost by Mark A. Harrison, digital painting

City Lost

Fireset by Mark A. Harrison, digital painting

Fireset

Heat_72 by Mark A. Harrison (digital painting)

Heat_72

The Creative Process:
Mark starts by taking a ton of original photographs, using his trusty Canon Rebel (an old model, but good). When collecting “fodder” (as he likes to call it) for his digital art, he is often drawn to things with intriguing texture and contrast (so his collection includes a lot of close-up macro-photography of things like rusted metal, weathered antiques, moving water, and so on). The digital manipulation process ranges from something as simple as punching up the contrast and saturation, to many painstaking hours of layering (sometimes using dozens of different photos) and playing around with all manner of different filters and tweaking, most of which is well beyond what mere mortals can comprehend (he has more than once shown me Photoshop tweaks I didn’t even know existed; I think he has access to a secret Photo-mage level of menu not allowed to the likes of us regular folks).

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Light through the leaves

Light through leaves, photo by Mark A. Harrison
(click for bigger)

In the best laid plans category, I had one a while back to start featuring more of Mark’s art here, since he doesn’t have a blog of his own – something I’ve been sadly remiss in keeping up since the intial posting of a selection from his beautiful Planets series. As part of this year’s November challenge, I hope to rectify that lapse on my part. More to come in the near future.

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