Stealing a page from inspired by Mrs. G’s blog posts of her favorite things, here are a few of my favorite things:
Teddie Peanut Butter, natural super chunky. I grew up in the town where it’s made, and there is nothing like the odor of roasting nuts, wafting out of nowhere.
Dr. Bronner’s organic lavender liquid soap. Never perfumey, always herby and fresh. Vegan. Organic. Family-owned. And before my eyesight got completely shot, intersting reading in the shower.
Moleskine large ruled notebooks. For journalling, poems, draft blog posts when I’m on the road, notes from my doctor’s and therapy appointments, ideas for photo series, interesting phrases I’ve heard others say, names of books, poets and authors to look up later, my life, in short. They are more expensive than a simple notebook. But to me, they are worth it– the weight and feel of the paper, the spacing of the lines, the way it lies flat, the substance of it in the hand– because they make me want to write. The large (not the extra large) size is not too big for a medium-sized purse, and still leaving room for a mass-market paperback.
Dinah Washington. Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith and Ella Fitzgerald are all wonderful, too, but for bell-like clarity of tone and enunciation, breadth and variety of catalogue (including some wonderful raunchy love songs that you could never play on the radio) and emotional expressiveness, Dinah cannot be beat, except maybe by Aretha.
College ruled composition notebooks for larger projects. I keep one for my online life, and use it for: diagramming my site redesign, ideas for recurrent posts, ideas for Real Mental posts, noting ideas for design and content from other blogs, keeping track of trends and data from SiteMeter and Google Analytics and WordPress Site Stats, and now for blog post ideas, though not usually the drafts themselves. I write “Done” on the top right corner of pages when a particular aspect of something is done, and I use a red pen to check off tasks so that I can take a quick flip through to see where things stand.
Sue Hubbell. My dad gave me A Book of Bees years ago. Aside from the marvel that is Hubbell’s ability to express scientific and technical principles with Aha!-level simplicity, the snippets of her own life that worked their way into her account of being a beekeeper in the Ozarks were addicting. She is unsentimental and clear-eyed, without ever being unkind to herself or others. All her other books are also wonderful, but A Country Year is another one I’d especially recommend.
Bogle Petit Sirah. If I had to pick one “house red” to drink, regardless of whether it matched my food (this is a BIG wine, but not tannic like Cabernet), this would be the one, Big, juicy, chewy tannins, and smooth. It’s $9.00 at my local Trader Joe’s, but tastes like it costs a lot more. Ray Isle at Food & Wine Magazine also likes their Old Vine Zinfandel, which comes at a similar price point.