10.21.2006

one perfect day

Ahhhh....it just doesn't get much better than today. Let me tell you about it. I woke up early because I wanted to get me down to the Portland Farmer's Market. I have been remiss about going to the market this year being out of town for a lot of the early growing season, etc., and then I just hit the ground running. Well, I wasn't going to miss it today. When I lived downtown, I would walk down as soon as it opened - the best time to be there. The pickings are better, and I like the early morning crowd. I have the best shopping basket too - I got it last year and it's from Ghana, although I bought it in Colorado. I love it because it's really sturdy and wide and flat so fragile things have a better chance of not crushed.
There are a bunch of farmer's markets all over Portland, being a foodie town, but the one by Portland State University is the best one of all. There must be almost a hundred vendors, selling everything from vegetables to cheeses, apples, peaches, pears and other fruits, mushrooms of all kinds, honey, roasted peppers, organic meat and fresh fish, plants, flowers, pastries, nuts, breads, herbs, syrups, chocolates, and there was even a guy there today who made his own fresh flours for baking. There's also some food booths so you can get coffee or breakfast and sit in the lovely park blocks deciding what to buy.
The only thing missing that I really would love to see is a knife sharpener. They have one at the farmer's market in San Francisco at the Embarcadero (which is an even cooler market than this one!) and I just love the idea of dropping off your knives, shopping at the market, and then picking them up before you leave. I tried to get my local supermarket, New Seasons, to offer it, but they politely told me that it was too much hassle for them. One of my favorite memories about traveling in Mexico two decades ago was seeing the traveling knife sharpener. He would ride around the town, blowing this little flute and people would hear it and come out of their houses with their knives. He would then dismount his bicycle, and prop up the back wheel with a sharpener that was powered by the pedal of the bike. Brilliant!
Anyhow, I wanted to get some things that I either have never tried or haven't gotten in a long time. I love my supermarket - it really has an amazing produce section - but I tend to get the same things. So....one of the first things I got was a lovely little bunch of French radishes. Yummy! They had some lovely arugula bunches too so I grabbed one of those. I decided to try out some orange cauliflower to fit my mission of "new." I tried some when I got home and it was so tender.
Also in the "new" category was something I'd never heard of: Sea Fennel. Otherwise known as: Sea Beans, Glasswort, Saltwort, Chicken Toes, Sea Asparagus, Salicornia, or Samphire. Apparently, you can cook with it and it adds the salt to your recipes. I have been making some yummy brothy soups lately, so I thought it would be a good thing to try out. The same people were also selling some beautiful mushrooms so I got a bagful. I love mushroom season!
After I was done at the market, I continued on my journey to West Linn, home of fellow Plinkster Terry Bostwick. He offered to help me navigate the commission I'm doing for the Bresler office, and I took him up on it. I brought him a bag of crisp Washington apples to pre-thank him for his time today. Today turned out to be one of those perfect fall days in the Pacific Northwest - an uncanny 70 degrees and sunny and the leaves on the trees are just starting to change, so it's a great day for a drive. The road to West Linn is lined with big trees and some nice little views of the Willamette River and Mt. Hood - wish I had some pictures to show you of all that.
Terry is an artist and a furniture maker. And an art-furniture maker. My favorite thing that he does is his chairs. He showed me a commission he's working on right now to make a dining table and chair set. It was great to see this in progress- he has a friend, David Boyd, who has a CNC machine that you can program to cut wood to whatever design you choose. I have been to his studio and seen the machine, but it was really great to see it put to use. So - the image above is of the piece that the machine cuts out of plywood. Terry designed it to have nice lumbar support, and a sexy spine going up the backside. Many compound angles, but no problem for the fancy machine. He then laminates a nice tiger maple veneer to the surface of this cutout.
Here's a finished chair - has a leather seat for the final product. Most of the work on these chairs are done by hand, not on the CNC machine. The legs are solid maple. The table sounds like it will be beautiful as well - the legs will come in at an angle, and a large steel ball will be at the center. There will be lighting hidden under the skirt of the table to illuminate the big orb. (I guess it will be hard to play footsie at this dinner table!)
Here are some of Terry's other chairs, the crazy stuff that you know I love. The seat of this one is a fluffy sheep fur - possibly faux fur, not sure on this one. Terry? Care to comment? I know that the one on the left here below is a faux fox fur. The one on the right has a metal seat that he welded together of tiny bits of steel.


I got some initial questions answered, and I'll return to Terry's shop when I've gotten all of the materials for this project. Since he has table saws and planers, he can help me mill up the larger pieces for this project. I will talk more about this later this week when I'm ready to actually start on the work.
So then I came home to try to make some good progress on the Phoenix project. As you know, I'm trying to get it all done this weekend. The way it's looking now, I think it will take me a couple of days next week to get the finishing touches done, like joining the parts, attaching the hanging hardware on them, and then packing and shipping will be at least 4 hours I'm sure. That step always takes longer than you'd expect it to. So anyhow, I spent the afternoon deciding on the paint colors for the last ten pieces, and then getting a coat of paint on each one.
I love seeing the color come into my work and spent some time this afternoon thinking about color-field painters like Mark Rothko and Morris Louis, two of my faves. Color field was one aspect of Abstract Expressionism that I could relate to. It's so therapeutic to experience how much a color can affect your mood. I have seen some installations by James Turrell that have had a similar effect, and I'd also put some of Anish Kapoor's earlier stuff in that category of "color makes me so happy" art. Well, I guess I can't say I'd feel the same way painting a golden brown color as I do when I work with a nice deep turquoisy-blue. I like bright and super-saturated. Well, I did make some great progress this afternoon and tomorrow I'll have all the painting done.

2 comments:

Blanche said...

I'm curious to know how tender the glasswort (sea beans) shoots were. We first discovered sea beans at the Zuni Cafe cooked with sand dabs. According to Judy Rogers, the bulk of glasswort comes from Oregon marshes along the coast. She says they are tender in the spring - the rest of the year, she pickles them to use as a condiment.
And how much did you pay? Here in Chicago, we found them once in the market for $22 a pound! Of couse, few people would want to eat a pound of sea beans.

Hilary Pfeifer said...

Well, that's information good to hear - I threw them in my boiling broth soup that day, but felt that I could have cooked them a bit longer. They were good though. I'll just put them in earlier next time. I bought a good big double handful for about $4, as I recall.