In 2005, Dane inherited his grandfather James' Rolleicord camera. Over this past decade, he has shot 12 rolls of medium format film along the West Coast: in the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, and California. We haven't been quite sure how best to incorporate this body of work, but we hope you enjoy a little glimpse into his perspective of this place we call home and how it influences the works of his hands. See more in our 'perspective' tab.
Newfound favorite film series features canoeist Bill Mason and his family adventures through Canadian waters. Made in the 1970s, these short documentaries are almost too good to be true. We don't own a television or watch Netflix, so don't typically have many media recommendations, but we are pretty sure these are 40 minutes of your life well spent. It's those quiet and calm moments and places in life we're all seeking, and Bill and family found it for us.
Did you know the first paper bag was invented in America and the design of these bags have been refined by multiple inventors spanning both gender and race over the course of multiple decades?
History of the paper bag
1852 Francis Wolle invents a paper bag machine (shaped like an envelope)
1870 Margaret Knight invents a new machine that makes flat-bottomed paper bags
1883 Charles Stilwell invents a machine that adds pleated sides, making the bags easier to fold. Also called S.O.S bags, for being “self-opening sacks.”
1890 William Purvis, a black man, improves on the machinery, which has become the most common patent used.
1912 Walter Deubener adds carrying handles and develops a bag design that can carry 70 pounds of groceries (versus the more common 10 lbs).
1950s paper bags become ubiquitous in both retail and grocery shops due to their design and inexpensive production.
1960s Paper bags are used as artistic platform for retail branding
1970s Plastic bags replace paper bags as retail give-away bag due to cheaper methods of production
2000s Plastic bags begin being banned in states due to negative impact on environment (as findings estimate they will take thousands of years to decompose)
2013 Natural, sustainable materials such as cotton, jute, and leather bags appear in small numbers on the market as an alternative to plastic vs. paper bags model
Today, we've embarked on using an old age, time-tested design and refined it by using a material that is all natural, durable, and sustainably sourced (a natural bi-product of the meat industry) because everyday we have an opportunity to vote with every action and every dollar we spend. We believe America was better before plastic bags replaced paper ones and that there is hope for tomorrow because well, we must. We’re a small batch company and we’ve put our hope in you who have helped us keep on keeping on. We started this company with a leather version of a paper bag because we wanted to do our part to bring back what seems like a better time in this country: pre-plastic American times when low cost, cheap disposable goods didn’t win the most votes. So, like most of our days, we will keep on keeping doing what can do to offer the exact opposite: real, raw, natural, well made goods using locally and domestically sourced materials. Ones we hope won’t even have to recycle, but someday pass along, along with the prosperity it brings to you. Is America ready for an all leather version of a paper bag?
Sometimes things don't seem worth all the effort on the surface, but the joy is actually in the process.
For three years we've been trying to get to this place in Ontario, Oregon. These hills and haystacks are the home of Dane's Aunt Jean and Uncle Roger. Roger, a third generation cattle rancher, inherited this land from his father. Roger told us about the journey that brought his father and grandfather to settle these hills during the dust bowl migration; they survived the first winter by burning sage brush. He learned the cattle trade from his father, and shares his same love of cows. Roger says he always knew he wanted to be like his father, and so he is.
In addition to grazing and selling cattle, he also uses this land to grow an 'Old World' variety of pinto beans that is sold to Mexican restaurants. And, until he recently retired, he also taught agriculture at the local community college. Roger is a quiet man who rises with the sun and works until it sets getting more accomplished than one may fully understand. Born and raised amidst this sage brush, and having raised his own family here, he has never been away from this land for longer than two weeks. He is currently on that very two week trip as I write, exploring historical D-Day sites across Europe with his wife.
We are grateful for Roger's example of what living the quiet life looks like: one man's acceptance of what was given to him and the earnest hard work it takes to sustain it. It wins the respect of outsiders, like us. We are inspired by Roger's will as he continues this operation solo today, well into his sixties, having born no sons to assist or inherit his efforts. We are inspired by his gratitude to his own father. As we steadfastly approach parenthood ourselves, we are inspired to continue with our own efforts in building a quiet life that our children may one day inherit. For now, we have a bag full of pinto beans to remind us what the quiet life tastes like: just right.
Returned once again to this ole Pear Tree. There it stands, in the midst of Ravenna, in a park, nestled between a willow and another pear tree. I return often now because it's hard to find a good place to rest when you're out in the city. It's funny when you realize the places you always go are those places that become your home away from home.
So, this Monday, I returned again with my sail cloth bag, and I walked the field until the time was just right for the picking. The pears this week were much larger, and riper, and harder to reach. The crows and the bees were enjoying them, and to my surprise, no one else in the park came or went for a pear while I was there. An old man came close to the tree as he tried to keep pace with his two young grandsons. Instead, they opted for a game of hide and seek underneath the willow tree. It was a lovely sight to have seen their memory in the making. Him in his straw hat and them eagerly hiding in wait underneath the mystery of the willow tree.
At last I made my descent, and picked what I could of this pear tree and a few from its neighbor. Pears are funny as they won't ripen until they've been picked. I wish I had more fruit trees in my life. Maybe one day. Because, what beats fruit on a tree?
This weekend we spent closer to home, exploring the areas among us that we so often times overlook. First, we explored Bridle Trails, which is just about a stone's throw from where Dane grew up and where we are currently living. For me, it's ever intriguing that is there is so much nature around us, for being so close to a city. We wandered aimlessly, just really needing a quiet weekend after so many busy ones. Plus, it gives us an excuse to field test our Octopus bag in the forest. The version Dane is wearing is likely where the rest of them will be heading soon enough: more diamonds, more backpack, more tote-back.
Today we needed vegetables, and since our garden this year isn't producing the way we had hoped, we've been having to rely more on other sources. So, we decided to head down to Snoqualmie Valley to see if we could find a farm stand. Local roots had just what we needed. The honor system of buying fresh food and cutting your own flowers is as good as it gets, if you don't grow your own that is. I think this may just be our main source of fruit and vegetables for the rest of the season. Plus, you can cut your own flower stems for $.50/stem. We got three of the brightest zinnias I could find, and they made beautiful company for the rest of our adventure through Duvall, Carnation, and Tolt.
After leaving the vegetable stand, we followed the road to where it would lead us: estate sales. Who can resist? We can't. The first was in an old yellow building that was built in the early 1900s and housed the Oddfellows and later Eagles Fraternity Clubs. I inquired about it since I had never seen such a building: both a store front, barber shop, and living space/former fraternity hall. So the owner insisted we tour the whole space. Why not? So we did, and we got a tour of lifetime. Let's just say one doesn't usually get to tour the inner workings of these sorts of places. We bought a little basket as our token of thanks, and graciously headed to the next stop on the road: the barn sale.
The barn sale, Grandpa's Barn, as they called it was probably exactly what you're thinking. Generations of salvaged farm materials that are finally being liquidated to make room and space for newer generations. There were plenty of gems, unfortunately, there is just not much we need right now. After searching high and low for our treasure (because Grandpa's Barn was too good leave empty handed), we finally inquired about materials, explaining that we make things. So, they showed us an old army tent, and it was just the thing we could use. The man who sold it to us said he was tickled pink we would use it to make something. He told us he knows we will make something wonderful, and he asked for us to send us an image of what we make with it. So we will. Dane shook it out, and so it was.
Our final destination was the "estate sale" that lured us along this whole time. It was, simultaneously, the best and worst estate sale I've ever seen. It was truly an estate in every sense of the word with private entrance, winery, and beautifully simple white wooden estates scattered around a serene meadow. Perhaps we missed the goods by getting there so late in the day, because the only remnants to be found were free books and tapes. But, what beats that? For Dane, a book on the Pacific Crest Trail, and for me, a complete set of Barron's French tapes. For us, the "First Hits of the 1950s," which made the road back home all the more scenic. Guess living on the east side ain't so bad. My zinnia's will surely remind me this week that exactly what we need is so often right among us, if we can let ourselves discover it.