Improvised Life » travel If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Wed, 23 Apr 2014 20:03:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ramp Season: Odes, Festivals and Recipes Fri, 18 Apr 2014 08:31:38 +0000

Every April, I start thinking about ramps, the first wild food to peek through the cold ground in early Spring, and the focus of equally wild festivals throughout the Appalachian mountains. For decades, I’d travel down to West Virginia to the Helvetia Ramp Supper to get a transformative blast of ramps, both raw and cooked. Here is one of the best descriptions I’ve heard of that first bite, by David Voodoon Noble, also known as The Ramp Moses: (more…)

]]> 0
Home is Where You Park It Wed, 13 Nov 2013 09:56:23 +0000

Home is Where You Park is an inspiring book that celebrates the joys of living a minimalist's life on the road, in camper or car, an homage to "people living really cool lives, doing things they love as opposed to the expected"…with Nature as their living room.]]> 0
making art in an airplane lavatory + other long-haul improvs Tue, 05 Nov 2013 22:00:37 +0000

Nina Katchadourian

Long-haul flights can seem like a singularly uncreative time for many people. Artist Nina Katchadourian discovered that an airplane’s lavatory provided the art materials necessary to make Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style. It is part of her larger piece Seat Assignment, in which she improvises with a camera phone and materials on hand in flight to make photographs, video and sound works.

Seat Assignment is about  “thinking on your feet…optimism about the artistic potential that lurks within the mundane…curiosity about the productive tension between freedom and constraint.”

Katchadourian describes the birth story of her project: (more…)

]]> 0
el cosmico’s teepees, tents and trailors (for rent or inspiration) Mon, 04 Nov 2013 20:34:56 +0000

El Cosmico

El Cosmico, a hippy-ish retreat/hotel with wonderful amenities and a very cool philosophy, offers a variety of simple, unique accommodations — teepees, tents and trailors — that promote sitting on porches, naps and other moments of non-action Even El Cosmico's website is both freshing and inspiring. We took a mini virtual vacation.]]> 0
2 weeks in Sri Lanka in 2 minutes: many improvs + a leap! Wed, 09 Oct 2013 08:57:18 +0000

(Video link here.) Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine made a fast, sweet video of their 2 weeks traveling through Sri Lanka by foot, moped, car and boat. Turning OFF the irritating music makes for an inspiring little journey of swell everyday improvs. We especially love the LEAP at 1:50.

It’s one of many illuminating escapist videos at The Perennial Plate; they remind that there is a whole OTHER way of doing things…

Thanks Susan!

Related posts: fast forward’s mind-shifting finds virtual traveler: ‘a day in india’ (more...)]]> 1 new american nomads: freedom with less and walmart Mon, 30 Sep 2013 23:38:14 +0000 photo

Nolan Conway for The New York Times

We recommend checking out the illuminating slideshow in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, about nomadic Americans who travel around in their R.V.’s, campers or cars, spending nights at Walmart parking lots, which apparently, welcome anyone with an R.V. or trailer. Photographer Nolan Conway has been taking pictures of Walmart’s ‘nomaic guests’ at several stores in central Arizona, and getting some of their stories. Their reasons for living without the usual home are compelling, an American dream of freedom, the road, and unexpected communities.  (more…)

]]> 0
dept of tiny miracles: rainbow mountains of china Mon, 19 Aug 2013 19:30:10 +0000 These rainbow mountains seem to be the stuff of the imagination. What an inspiring groove; they’re REAL! So the equation in our heads somehow becomes: if mountains can be rainbow colored than…anything….is….truly….possible….

more at  huffpost

]]> 0
changing plans last minute…to surf in Ireland Tue, 05 Mar 2013 09:32:36 +0000

(Video link here.) We WISH we were the kind of person who just switchrf gears on-a-dime, as surfer Nic von Rupp did to great reward. Having gotten a call about the extraordinary surf in Ireland — IRELAND!!— he canceled the flight to Hawaii he was about to get on, and flew to Ireland instead, into a big unknown.

He found fine surfing and discovered chilly, but deeply warm-hearted, Ireland.

Come to think of it, we USED to do that sort of thing a lot when we were younger – less so with age…h-h-h-mmmmm….OMG!…perhaps we need to shake things up a bit.

With (more...)]]> 0 virtual traveler: ‘a day in india’ Fri, 08 Feb 2013 10:22:08 +0000

A Day in India from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

(Video link here.) Seeing this wonderful day in India makes us see our own day here a bit differently.

(There’s a lot of seriously wonderful-looking food… (more…)

]]> 1
aromatherapy sniff box: diy or buy Mon, 07 Jan 2013 18:10:43 +0000 sniff box focus 2

les floralies

Recently, we were enticed to buy a travel-size-two-fer of Les Floralies Sniff Boxes: one to encourage sleep, the other “focus”. Sniff boxes are little vials of “aroma beads” infused with various mixes of essential oils designed to assist well-being. We enjoyed Les Floralies‘ scents and charming packaging — and found that opening a sniff box did provided a lovely, instant break. But we have to admit that as soon as we opened the intriguing little vials, we started thinking about how we could improvise some ourselves, with our own, custom-mixed blend of scents. What would be the medium that would hold the scent of the essential oils for a good amount of time, without being messy when opened? White rice, balls of infused wax, salt...? Suddenly, we realized we had ALREADY improvised a solution — years ago.


]]> 1
flood improvisations in venice Thu, 29 Nov 2012 09:28:48 +0000 A man and woman swim in flooded Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square) in Venice, Italy

photo: AP/luigi costantini

Just about the time Hurricane Sandy was wreaking havoc on the United States’ east coast, heavy rains and high tides brought some of the worst flooding to Venice, Italy in years — almost 5 feet of water. Because the “acqua alta”, or high water, is a common yearly occurrance in Venice — and because Venice is essentially a rather temperate floating city as it is — sensualist Venetians have improvised numerous many pleasurable strategies for dealing with it. Imagine being able to swim in the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square)…or just hang out, “taking the waters”… (more…)

]]> 0
2 minute vacation: a virtual trip to paris Tue, 07 Aug 2012 22:00:47 +0000

It’s August and in real time the city of Paris is virtually deserted; everyone is away. But that doesn’t stop us from taking a virtual tour of Paris in our heads, and reveling in that magic city, and refreshing our overworked brains. Researchers are now saying downtime is ESSENTIAL to creativity (which we knew all along.)  So take two minutes to get off the schedule and GO!

via Open Culture

Related posts: vacation (or weekend) mental prep slowing down and counting blessings weekend (more...)]]> 0 google street view as time machine + aide memoire Tue, 10 Apr 2012 10:29:26 +0000

Usually we hear people talking about Google StreetView as a virtual armchair travel tool. You can “visit” all sorts of exotic places you’ve never been to without actually traveling to them, like Stonehenge and other UNESCO World Heritage sites. With the exception of artful manipulation like The Wilderness Downtown, for me these visits remain mostly abstract and at a distance; for all their seeming-immediacy, too much information is missing: the quality of air and scent and temperature, the vibe…

That is, unless you’ve visited the place already. Then StreetView can take you back into the forgotten past, and spark surprising memories that enliven the image.

When I stumbled on their latest project: documenting the Amazon River and the Rio Negro via Street View, a vivid image of a flooded tree cast me BACK into a trip I has taken many years ago up the Amazon River Basin. I’d forgotten the particular quality of sunsets over the river, the sensual aliveness of the rain forest, how close the shore could be in some tributaries and how vast and oceanic others were. I remembered passengers on the boat I was traveling sleeping in layered hammocks, sharing the dinner of rice and black beans and sausage, the absolute dark of the jungle at night, clever houses built on stilts along the shore to keep them above the flood waters. Google Street view became an aide memoire, that activated old sense memories better than many photographs I had. (more…)

]]> 0
life lessons from the olive harvest Fri, 24 Feb 2012 03:20:12 +0000


In last month’s Atlantic, Sara Jenkins tells the story of her family’s annual olive harvest in Tuscany, which is, ultimately about taking risks and  learning as you go. The Jenkins family has a rich history in food–Sara runs Porchetta and Porsena in New York City, and her mother Nancy Harmon Jenkins is the author of six cookbooks. Nancy and I spent some time traveling together in Italy, and I remember her always being game to drive off  check out a market she’d heard of or  wander into new places in search of adventure. It’s not surprising to me that Nancy and her family would take on the task of growing and harvesting olive trees, an indisputable challenge. (more…)

]]> 0