Handcrafted pens and fresh beets at farmers’ market

Until I find an apartment, I am living with my mom on Garfield Street near RA Long High School. We both love to cook, so we are eating delicious home-cooked meals filled with fresh vegetables and fruits every evening. This morning, we decided we needed some fresh beets to roast for a new recipe my mom wants to try out. I jumped on my bicycle and headed for the farmer’s market, enjoying a leisurely ride through the park surrounding Lake Sacajawea, and on through downtown to the fairgrounds where farmers and craftsmen gather every Tuesday and Saturday.

Not only did I find two lovely bunches of fresh beets and greens and tree-ripened cherries, I also ran into a woodworker who sells gorgeous hand-crafted pens made from special wood he buys from around the world. Here is his fun story:

Bob Berthiaume had just retired from Boeing in Everett,Washington when an old high-school sweetheart found him on Classmates.com. More than forty years after his 1962 high-school graduation, he and his long-lost love reconnected. They started emailing and getting to know one another all over again. Two years later, they were married, and Bob found himself living in Longview, Washington with his new bride. Along with a fresh marriage, and a brand new town, Berthiaume decided to pick up another hobby, too: woodworking.

A magazine article gave him the idea for creating beautiful pens from exotic wood, Berthiaume said. With his wife’s blessing, he purchased more than $2500 in woodworking tools, and began spending more than five hours each day in his shop, creating furniture, cabinets, wine-bottle stoppers, letter openers, and writing tools. His wife loves what he’s doing, he said.

Berthiaume said that his favorite wood is Padauk, a cinnamon-red wood with purple pores that grows in Africa. The wood is rare, so pens made from Padauk cost $40. Bob said his wife’s favorite wood is Olive Wood from the holy land of Bethlehem, and with it, he made her a pen and pencil set that she treasures. “I make pens or letter openers from olive wood on special  request.” Berthiaume said.

To contact Bob Berthiaume write to bob.bobsboards@gmail.com.

Here is a link that might interest woodworkers reading my post sent to me by a reader. http://firstchoiceind.net/blog/


Back in Longview

After spending the last six years living in North Portland, I am back in Longview now, thrilled to be joining the English Department at Lower Columbia College as an adjunct English Instructor. I will be teaching two English 101 classes starting fall term. This summer, I am finishing up my MFA in writing from The Rainier Writers’ Workshop, and learning to use online software to add media and links to the resources I will offer my classes.

I plan to use American working-class literature to help my students learn to write because the voices of American workers and their history is where my heart lies. My mom and her brothers were the first generation in her family to attend college. My grandma grew up in a lighthouse with her father, Captain Lind, and my grandfather left home at fourteen years old to go on to become a bootlegger, rancher, horse-breaker, and finally, the owner of a tavern in Jacksonville, Oregon. My uncle was an electrician, and my own father was a cabinet-maker and carpenter. I have worked so many different blue-collar jobs that I can barely remember all of them. In high school, I became a plant-potter in a greenhouse, and then went on to waitress for more than 10 years off an on. I’ve worked as a caregiver for mentally disabled men, driven cars around on shipping docks, and worked as a carpenter’s apprentice on Mt. St Helens’ bridge number nine. I was also a massage therapist and yoga teacher for more than ten years.

I realized as I turned in my transcripts to the Dean of Instruction at Lower Columbia College that this will be the first job I’ve ever been offered where I’ve needed to provide transcripts to my employer. The wage I will receive as a part-time adjunct instructor is also the highest paycheck I have ever received in my life, and I’ve been told that I will still qualify for food stamps! No matter, I still feel as if I will be living high on the hog!