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A Story about Doors and a Woman Named Ann

Just a few of the doors I saw on my stroll thru King's Lynn with Ann, a most remarkable lady

In a small town called King’s Lynn on the eastern coast of England, there is a woman named Ann, and a quite remarkable number of lovely, colored doors. Here at Rowley Press, we’re self-admitted anglophiles, so Ann and her town and its doors managed to fascinate us from the first serendipitous moment we met.

I was roaming around Norfolk studying Palladian architecture at the time, and a scholar I worked with mentioned that King’s Lynn, the town I was staying in during my sojourn, contained a woman named Ann. She knew all about the place, apparently, so on a morning I had slated to visit a wildlife preserve (as a bit of a break from the Palladians and their columns), I instead called up this Ann and asked if she wouldn’t mind showing me around her town. And it was most certainly her town.

Seen from any other eyes than Ann’s, King’s Lynn has nothing remarkable to recommend itself. Like any other of the hundreds of little hamlets the speckle the coast around Norfolk, it’s filled with dull brick buildings, a few ancient edifices, and one or two minor claims to fame, in this case, a customs house and an office of the Hanseatic League (I’m still not entirely clear on the details of what that was, so I couldn’t possibly hope to explain it here). On a misty morning in May, I walked its streets with Ann at my side, her age somewhere past 80 but certainly shy of 90, her hair a nearly translucent halo of white curls, her voice strong enough to startle a stone, and the distinct scent of Nivea cream surrounding her like a personal cloud.

Brought to life by Ann’s powerful, flowing monologue, King’s Lynn filled in and fleshed out with a thousand stories of inhabitants, craftsmen, sailors, builders, lovers, children, vicars, scandals, young women out for strolls in the park, dreams, tragedies, ups and downs and ups again. Each corner, every alley contained the living, breathing tales of centuries past. Ann seemed to know something about everything, and every place. A town with nothing remarkable. Nothing remarkable except to a person like Ann.

Strolling along, I realized I was taking picture of nearly every door we passed. Bright, vibrant hues of blue, green, yellow, and red, they were the only visual relief in long lines of unrelenting, brown brick homes. Ann’s voice continued beside me, “And in 1759, this building burnt down and was restored by…” Red door. “This is the park where young women of the more well-to-do families would…” Blue door. “Here’s the spot where the only women to own her own shipping business before 1750…” Green door. Vivid symbols of a secret story held in the mind of a remarkable woman in an unremarkable place. A woman named Ann.

Dictaphone Parcel

Do you ever feel like the post is both magical and mysterious?

You pay someone some money, hand them a box with an address on it, and it almost always arrives at the destination. But what happens in between? Parcel fairies? Sorcery? Elf-style (read: Will Ferrell) mailroom dance parties?

Enter: the Dictaphone Parcel. The Dictaphone Parcel pieces together audible parts of the journey by mailing a dictaphone that records what happens in transit. As an added bonus, there is a fictitious visualization of the process. Good fun!

Dictaphone Parcel from Lauri Warsta on Vimeo.

Beards: A Blogpost

Beards – love them or hate them, we’ve been seeing quite a bit more of them lately, especially here around Rowley Press.

When I was thinking about what to include in this post, I had a vague memory of an infographic I’d seen a few years ago – a sort of key to different kinds of facial hair. It took some diligent googling, but I traced the it to the source (graphic designer Matt McInerney). Turns out it was one of imgur‘s Best Images of 2010: Read The Rest

Little City Gardens

Spring is upon us and we can’t get enough of gardening right now! While searching out fun garden ideas, we found Brooke Budner & Caitlyn Galloway who have transformed a small corner of San Francisco urban life into a garden of natural delights. And I love their wonderful drawings. Pretty sure we should letterpress something for them!

Check them out at: Little City Gardens Read The Rest

Essays are Exciting

Essays are perfect for our generation’s short attention span. And the wonderful website, Quotidiana, is the perfect website for essays. They have some of my favorites on their website and plenty that I don’t know so that I can explore. All of the essays are in the public-domain, so they can be printed and distributed without any government employee kicking in your door. You can also get most of these essays from Project Gutenberg, but the user interface on the Quotidiana website is much more friendly and beautiful (nice typography). On their “Most Popular” essays sidebar, they have two from one of my favorites, G. K. Chesterton. I especially love his On Lying in Bed essay. Give it a try and I would imagine you will be happy you did.

Stanley & Sons | Aprons and Bags

Stanley & Sons Apron

Printing can be messy, so aprons are surely the perfect remedy. I talked to Lady Danbury and we designed some perfect printing aprons that she custom-crafted for Rowley Press, here locally. I don’t have photos of her beautiful aprons just yet, but I will post about them as soon as I do. If you aren’t able to take advantage of Lady Danburry’s work due to proximity problems, you should check out these beauties over at Stanley & Sons, a company that is run by Chris Grodzki; the grandson of an old-time apron and bag craftsman. I love the leather straps that seem to accent the denims and waxed canvases so well. The photos on their site are just to act as a reference as each piece they create is cusom-made to order. My favorite apron of theirs is the handsome lad pictured above.