1. I find a new hobby (gourmet-chocolate making, yoga, jewelry design, cruise liner restoration).
2. I Google the heck out of it.
3. I read about the interesting people whose worlds are saturated by these interesting things.
4. I call said interesting people.
5. I drive to their cabin in the woods so they can show me their world and let me take pictures of their lives and craft.
And often, if I’m lucky:
6. I drive away after several hours, smiling over a new connection and new friendship.
Or some version of that.
I forget that I have this unique key that allows me to enter into other peoples’ worlds in a way that most people are unable. That key, so relative and invisible, are a few simple titles: Writer, freelancer and sometimes, photographer. Those first spoken or emailed words, “I’d like to write about you,” have lead me to amazing sights and some of my favorite people on the planet.
Like Miss Joli here. I needed a story rooted in the Peninsula for the San Francisco Chronicle’s Weekender section, for which I sometime write stories. After creative Googling, I came across her gallery, Penelope’s Den. I sent a quick email, and soon I was sitting with her on the back patio of her 1905-built cabin, watching her make beautiful pieces of jewelry with gems and gold wire.
For several hours, we talked about her Romanian roots, the years she taught art history in Europe, the decision to live on a mountain by the beach with the men in her life (her hubby and young son), her recent trip to mine for turquoise in Nevada. I shot some photos. I watched her work with one of her students. I left her home with more information than I could cram into a 1,000-word story and inspired to dig out my own beads and wire.
I’m sure you’ll see Joli again; we’re already making plans for me to meet other artists in her art world.
“Jolan “Joli” Bogdan carries a French press filled with dark coffee outside and sets it on her patio table next to the bowls of stones and beads. She sits, fills her ceramic mug, takes a sip and then begins running her fingers over the surface of the stones she’s collected — each one an inspiration for a piece of jewelry. She touches the edges of a piece of malachite, a green crystal, and runs her hand over a shiny Australian black opal.
She picks out the brightest hues of blue in a bowl of turquoise she hand-picked in February at a mine in Nevada. The mid-morning light filters through the canopy of redwood trees and flickers on the stones, illuminating each layer and subtle wisp of purple, sage and gold.
“There’s something about looking at a shiny, well-cut stone that has a hold on me,” says Bogdan, who has a weakness for tiny treasures like crystal beads, moonstone, amethyst and gold wire that’s remi- niscent of fine silk.” You can see/read the PDF of the story here.