Curious Lola

Winter Break

Warm fuzzies for you and yours.

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It’s that time of year when we are balls to the walls busy (I recently learned that that term is an aviation thing- so is totally not what you were thinking). But in between making sure all is made, all is packed, all is ready to be set up for a big, glorious bash, we have glimpses into next year. What we want to work on. We’ve got big plans that will help your event design biz get a leg up (ehem, sign up to stay in the loop).

But first, there is a break. A small amount of time where there is nothing. Just slathering love all over my friends and family. Investing in relationships. And my brain will be happy for that break.

So in the spirit of break. Let’s reminisce on the sweet images from a styled photoshoot of winter’s past coupled with one of my favorite poems. Thank you Candice of Ivy and Tweed for a visual story of these two love birds. (ps, for styled shoots, get people that are actually in love). Shot at Trinity Tree Farms in Issaquah, Washington.

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“I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)I am never without it (anywhere I go you go,my dear; and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
I fear no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) I want no world (for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)”
― E.E. Cummings

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Happy Holidays, friends! Here’s to our winter break before the excitement of a new year.

Thanks also to Vintage Ambiance for the furnishings, and Honeycrumb Cake studio for the yummies.

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Creativity and Baby Making.

Always be making. This is kind of my maxim. It’s not really a motivational thing so much as just the way things are.

The drive to play with materials and make something is why I started Lola Creative and why I can say I’ve got the best job ever. Last week we made a giant  12 foot octopus. This week it’s vintage computer geekery. For the last seven months, I’ve been making my first human.

Human production, as it turns out, reduces one’s available brain space for most everything else. Add onto that the daily requirements of a business and there’s just not much left for free-creating- making stuff for fun, making stuff not related to my business projects. About all I have energy for right now is to make these here Skittles, sitting next to me, into painting apparatus  with my own spit and draw smiley faces on my humpty-dumpty belly. (I mean, if I weren’t pregnant, at least they’d be an impressive design).

and then there’s the fear that once this squirmy bump IS actually a human, what if I have even LESS creative mojo? Oh man! Is creativity like love, it just grows to satisfy a greater desire to give it? A muscle? Just plain old discipline and habit (ergh)? I’m hoping for the first since that seems lovely and easy. But just in case, I’m inviting myself to casually make with whatever is available.

The wise woman in me says, “Oh honey, a creative outlook doesn’t go away, it’s just cast upon whatever you are doing. You will never be wanting of creative outlets that satisfy and inspire you. ” The neurotic pushy person in me says, ” Better get to making or your abilities will dry up like pregnant feet in flip flops made of asphalt and good intentions.”

This is what wise woman probably looks like

wise woman

Now I’ve learned that the wise woman is usually right and the pushy person is lovable but misguided. But a little casual making never hurt anyone, right? So here’s my first share from a trip to my sweetie’s family cabin of making just to make. Materials are whatever is in front of me. Thanks nature for the materials.

20150411_190133nestI know these fears are nothing new. If you are a fellow human producer and creative, what’s one word you would give for your transformed (or not) creative process as a new parent?

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New Perspectives and Long Car Rides/ Grateful

A new place, a change in routine, will inevitably wiggle your brain enough to gain some new perspective. Or rather, some old wisdom that you already know and need to be reminded.

Eastern Washington Photo

This is happening today as I drive home from Thanksgiving in South East  Washington with a too-big dog in my lap, and my sweetie pie driving, also lost in thought. Outside my window the scene is always changing: canyon, hills, shack tucked into a hillside, forest, river, pond dotted field. The east side of the state is a landscape that always seems thirsty, even in winter. The state is dissected by a mountain range. On the west is our home, squishy with rain and always alive, even in winter. This Thanksgiving had been one of smallness and simplicity. It was nice. Now, facing the mountains, I am thinking about the projects that need finishing; life and business always under construction. Up until this point, all that crazy thought had been still, just like this landscape of long, sweeping, shapes. And now trying to think of life on the other side of the mountains, the edges are blurry and pulled out.

It’s easy to get caught up in creating a certain kind of life and wonderful to find yourself in a new place, away from things that are familiar, dreaming of endless possibilities. It reminds me that lives can be made over in a hundred different ways. In a place where there are less edges, it’s comforting to know that the edges of the path I think I’m on are not so distinct.

proposals, woodwork,

painting,

alder, swamp

taxes, payroll, grassland

rain cloud

The edges of this landscape are connected, and fuzzy. They’re not really edges at all. Not like the hard edges of a thousand things in a cluttered workshop. The sky doesn’t really break and suddenly become trees, the east doesn’t break and become west. It’s a great reminder, on a day for gratefulness, to let it all seep in and blur the edges; and when we lift our head up, to reach back out.

rainbow, ice,

bigleaf maple,

farmhouse,

windbreak

Finca Filidelfia- Coffee Farming in Guatemala

Finca Filidelfia was an unexpected highlight to me and my sweetie pie’s honeymoon to Antigua, Guatemala last summer. My favorite part, actually. So I figured, what better way to celebrate such an essential part of my creative process (coffee) than to share with you what I learned from this amazing place. Brace yourself, because this is a big, long post.

Finca Filidelphia has been a coffee plantation since 1874, part of a plan to bring the region out of economic hardship at the time. I think before then it was avocados. It sits about 20 minutes outside of Antigua.

Just Birds of Paradise… as a foundation plant…. no biggie.

One thing that surprised me is this whole ta-do about ‘shade grown.’ Turns out it doesn’t mean anything important. Arabica coffee plants (except new engineered varieties) need shade to optimize production. So any farmer wanting to produce the most coffee berries is going to grow their coffee in some shade. How that shade is achieved is where farms differ. And there’s really no ‘shade grown’ certification or stamp of approval to determine which is which.

Some smaller or family run farms can plant coffee into existing forests, preserving the native trees, understory, and multitude of other plants and epiphytes living there. The benefit of this is that it is low-cost for the producer, habitat is most preserved, water use and pesticide needs are minimized, and erosion is minimized because trees aren’t removed. Coffee grown in these situations can be certified ‘Bird Friendly’  The downside is that coffee berry yields are lower because the shade is too dense. Production oriented larger farms clear out the existing forest, and plant trees that can be managed easily to give the coffee plants the optimal light levels. The bummer here is that part of the forest is clear-cut which would lead to erosion. Non-native trees are brought in, and there is the potential for more water use and possibly pesticides/ fungicides. Once matured, these plantations can provide some habitat. The non-shade grown use no trees and is typically high in water and pesticide use, low in habitat viability. These are usually robusta trees instead of arabica bushes.

Filidelfia includes coffee fields in dense forests on the accessible-by-foot hillsides, and managed non-native canopy coffee fields in the more accessible valleys. The trees are from Australia and can take a heavy pruning to achieve the optimum canopy cover percentage. The wood from the trees are sold as firewood and the clippings and branches cover the coffee fields in a rich, thick layer of duff- an excellent mulch. With this much thick duff on the ground. Filidelfia only has to water for a very short period in the hottest months, and doesn’t use pesticides/fungicides. Yay.

And you thought this post wasn’t flower related. Here’s a coffee flower.

That ONE coffee berry is almost ready for picking. Coffee picking is CR-AZY. All arabica plants are hand-picked. As if that weren’t difficult enough, the berries aren’t mature at the same time and each individual berry has to be carefully removed from its tiny petiole, the little branch attaching the berry to the main branch. If this little guy isn’t still attached to the branch once the berry is removed, it will no longer produce berries. Ever. So imagine a coffee berry picker wants to fill their baskets fast (they are paid by weight) and strips all the berries off in one swipe… dead coffee bush. For this reason, the same berry pickers are typically hired year after year. Here they are mainly women since the fellas go off to harvest sugar cane near the coast. The ladies bring their kids, the kids learn to correctly harvest the berries, and they often take over for their parents.

Here’s the inside of a coffee berry. Apparently I had a freak berry (figures) that had three beans. Usually they have two.

The protective casing or parchment of the bean is sweet.

Arabica bushes are finicky and susceptible to rot. Here is where they graft arabica beans onto hardier robusta root stock to make for some stronger plants.

This process is amazingly low tech. I thought grafting necessitated lab coats and furrowed eyebrows…

…but the process only involves a deft, razor-wielding woman and wax.

Here are the arabica bushes with the severely hacked Australian canopy tree. Guatemala is especially well suited to grow good coffee given its elevation, climate, and super rich, volcanic soil. This wood is piled by the road and carted off by truck, or on foot to be sold.

Tillandsia!

Avocados! Did you know there are over 20 different varieties of avocado?

Here’s where the beans go to dry.

Grey beans ready to roast.

Here are three sizes of beans. Before roasting, the beans are sorted. The middle bean is just right, and the other beans are either tossed, or sold cheap. Remember the three beans that were in my berry? Only the one bigger one would have been allowed into this farm’s cup of coffee. If the beans are all about the same size, that ensures that they will all roast consistently, so some won’t impart an over or under-roasted flavor.

This is where beans go to roast.

My Americano. Muy rico.

And here’s a window with a wheel in it. Neato.

And a happy canna. One that probably doesn’t turn to black smoosh in the winter like it does up here.

So in summary, shade-grown schmade grown and go to Antigua, Guatemala.

Here’s some more info on shade grown coffee from Wikipedia

Shade-grown coffee – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Washington Coast and a new year.

What better way to celebrate the New Year than to freeze your booty off on Washington’s rainy, windy coast, right? Slogging through Northwest squish for so long that your feet reach new levels of pruney sounds like an excellent way to say goodbye to a year full of challenges and joys. We thought this but then again, meh, why not.  Truly there must be some joyous reward in all this miserable trekking. Lights through trees? Sea stars?

As it turns out, the entire trip along the 10 or so miles of the Ozette Triangle was a joy. Surprise, surprise. The Ozette Triangle is three segments of looped trail. the first leg through forest and wet meadow, the second along the beach, and the third back up through the forest. Not only did it not rain, the wind was at our backs, the sky was blue (a strange sight anywhere in Washington this time of year), and the temperature was downright pleasant. The trail is easy to walk with not a lot of grade change. Not sure if this beautiful day on the coast was a reward for slogging through 2011 or the forecast for a sunny 2012. Maybe both… probably both.

Deer Fern: Blechnum spicant

I love these happy, floppy ferns.

Confined, sheltered places into large a large open expanse… It has that light through the clouds- choir singing effect. Also one of my favorite design tricks to create a sense of arrival into specialness.

Evergreen Huckleberry: Vaccinium Ovatum

Seaweed is so cool. Unless it’s in the water touching you. Then it’s disgusting and scary. But here, interesting.

Heh, Triangle, get it?

dreamy.

and back up into the forest.

Sneaky mushroom

Soft white underbelly

 

And the lichen encrusted  bridge brings us back home.

Thank you Cedarbrook Lavender Farm for the stay in your lovely Vacation Rentals.

 


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