Friday, July 14, 2017

the scent of the summer


you know, if you've been reading for awhile, that i love perfume. i recently read this piece about finding your personal scent in the lenny letter. and it's all about layering. even before reading this, i had taken to combining a couple of scents - at the moment, it's been a rather unorthodox combination of the sweetness of  for her by narciso rodriguez and the spicy, greenish masculinity of vetiver insolent by miller harris, but it's felt like the right scent for me at the moment. i was relieved to read in the article that a note or two of something rancorous is in fashion, since this cold, damp summer combined with living in our old farmhouse, my personal scent is surely laced with a healthy dose of mustiness from the damp that seeps up through the brick walls thanks to high ground water. there's probably also a dash of litterbox needing to be changed and perhaps a vague aroma of spilled coffee thrown in, which may be a note or two too many of rancour.


when we were in lithuania, i ran into these beautiful scents, named after italian cities, in a high end perfume shop. i'm not even sure who makes them. i tend to have trouble with scents and my own body chemistry, as they can turn rather nasty on me, especially if they are full of synthetic ingredients. but i tried, over a couple of days, four of these gorgeous scents and they all just got more beautiful on me. tho' at €149 per bottle, i didn't buy one, having decided we were having a vacation experience, not a vacation shopping trip. but, i may have to try to find them again and buy one, as they were just gorgeous. the packaging is simple and elegant as well. they have everything one could hope for in a scent. maybe this autumn..i think florentia would be lovely when paired with the dusky scent of autumn leaves.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

stitching identity :: kgb museum vilnius


we had three teenagers with us in lithuania, so we told them we had to visit a museum. after perusing a swedish brochure we found at our rented apartment, they chose the museum of genocide victims, mostly due to its other name - the KGB museum, owing to the fact that it is housed in the former KGB headquarters (look at me, capitalizing KGB...hmm, i'll have to ponder that) of the soviet state of lithuania.


it's a moodily-lit place, in keeping with its sober subject, and has a big focus on the lithuanian patriots/revolutionaries who resisted the soviet yoke, especially in the decade after stalin and hitler sealed their fate without consulting them in a secret agreement in the early days of the second world war. the green cells in the basement, where prisoners were held, interrogated and tortured and then, quite literally, taken out back and shot, were stark.


but i think it was most struck by the stitched objects on display. most were made by prisoners who had been exiled to camps in siberia. they obviously used scraps of fabric and thread that were at hand. stitching to hold onto their homes, loved ones and traditions. and the stitched items were made by both men and women, both having a need to cling to their home and memories.


the sign said that this little black striped pouch contained some lithuanian soil and that the prisoner had kept it with him throughout his confinement in a siberian hard labor camp. i have a jar of stones from south dakota, where i grew up, so i could relate to this. we have a need to hold onto something tangible of where we come from.


some of the stitched cloths were large and all were beautiful. each stitch holding a memory of home and comfort and family. such beauty coming out of such adversity. it's amazing.


it was also a way of keeping their religion and belief alive, as sometimes the cloths were used in religious rituals and at holidays, like easter, which they surely practiced at great peril.


there were other objects, made of materials at hand - birchbark containers and the like, but i found the stitching most fascinating. especially since it wasn't just women who were stitching, but men as well, in a human need to hold onto beauty and home.


there were many pouches, which surely held precious mementos, like the wrapped-up soil of home or a photo of loved ones or a locket. there were also sayings, carefully stitched in lithuanian, a way of physically holding onto language and culture. each stitch a small act of defiance against the oppression, each stitch a way to hold onto an identity that was being torn away.


and i wonder if my soft guns aren't a similar way of coping with the sense that my very foundation has been ripped away by that ridiculous clown that cheated and colluded his way into the white house, robbing me of any pride i may have had in being american. maybe not, but they are definitely an act of defiance and mocking of the gun culture that has so strongly taken hold. not as deep as the items in the genocide victims museum, but a small act against the regime nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

vilnius :: a hidden gem









if you hang out with me on instagram, you know that we spent last week in lithuania and we loved it. there are a few shots of sights that i actually managed not take with the real camera and not share on instagram. i'll admit most of my shots were taken with my iPhone 7+ - that camera is the shit and hey, it's right there in my pocket. but lithuania was also great. it's lovely, with cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings, vilnius is totally walkable and full of cafés where you can a seriously excellent latte for €2. i highly recommend it. it's like prague without all of the awful tourists. shh, it's a hidden gem. and i don't want everyone to know about it and spoil it. because i'm definitely going back.

Monday, July 10, 2017

paradox :: soft guns


soft guns. in light of police shootings and folks murdering one another daily with guns in the united states, what could be more paradoxical than a set of cuddly guns? especially ones with happy, cheerful, bright flags extending from them, cartoon gun style? these were my contribution to our spring exhibition in creagive, our local group of creative souls.


paradox :: a whole bouquet of soft guns
i think i also made them as a way of working through how i felt about mom's bowling ball bags full of handguns and ammunition that we found in her car last december. i still can't breathe when i think of what she might have done with those guns in a fit of alzheimer's-induced paranoia while she was still alone out in her house. and a state that renews a permit to carry a concealed weapon for an elderly woman with dementia, when they've just ruled her unfit to drive. unfit to drive, but fine to go around with four loaded handguns. now that's a paradox.



i find myself thinking about that obsession my mother has with guns. especially one old, wonky 22 rifle that belonged to her uncle adam. a memory of him wanting her to have it has imprinted on her otherwise swiss cheese brain. interestingly, her sister, whose memory is just fine, tells a different tale of how mom got that gun - rushing to sergeant bluff to get it before a cousin could snatch it up after uncle adam died. it wasn't presented to her in solemn ceremony after all. and for some reason, it's the one thing she can remember these days. she's constantly asking my sister when she will bring it to her so she can go hunting. as if one hunts pheasants in the middle of the summer with an old 22 that doesn't shoot straight. as she stamps her foot and hisses in frustration, she doesn't seem to understand that she won't be going hunting again. maybe i should send her a soft gun to comfort her.

and you can have one too, if you're interested -  you can find them in my shop on big cartel - price is €70, including shipping. they are one of a kind and i will not be making any duplicates, tho' i may make more eventually. it was quite therapeutic to sew these up.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

a little list to get my groove back

it's a very long time since i did a bit of bloggy visiting, but an instagram post reminded me of the wonderful and creative sandra juto's blog and she did this list, which made me want to do a list to ease me back into the rhythm of blogging. sandra is swedish, so there's a mention of fika, that delightful swedish custom of relaxing with coffee and something sweet in the afternoon.

do you?




have beer in the fridge? no, but you can always find white wine and tonic.

have a pet? anyone who follows my instagram knows i am a cat person and we have multiple cats. favorites are molly, charlie, sif, billy and kittens bob and bella (that's bella above). we have a few more outdoors, but it's ok, because they have awesome lives and we have 17 acres of land.

have a favourite sweet? i'm not really that big on sweets, but do regularly make chocolate chip cookies and if i have a sore throat, some salt liquorice is a good thing.

wear powder? no, but i do swear by becca's backlighting primer and mac soft & gentle highlighter for that daily glow.

have any plans for the future? we will eventually finish our house and it will be awesome.

have any "best" grades from school? it's starting to be awhile ago, but i always did well at writing and in my lit and literary theory courses.

have an addiction? it's probably white wine, but i also can't do without my kiehl's lip balm #1. and i would be very sad without podcasts.

have fika today? alas, i did not, which was unusual, because we often have cake in the afternoon at work.

wear nail polish? yes. almost always. these days, i'm into quite neutral flesh tones, but i can also do a nice bright blue or salmony pink.

have a friend who lives in another country? yes. lots of other countries. and i live in another country as well (thank goodness, with that cheeto at the helm) - for nigh on 18 years now.

who?

do you despise? i think we all know that it's that dangerously ignorant clown who is destroying the country of my birth.

share most memories with? at this point, knowing one another for 20 years, it must be husband. i would say my mother, but we don't share that many memories anymore with all of hers fading away...


do you long most for? i still miss my sweet frieda badida kitty and think of her often.

annoys you? rude drivers. people who are at the back of the line and rush forward when a new cashier opens. people who say, "ik' aw" constantly.

do you cuddle with? sif, she's the cat most likely to snuggle up and sleep next to me.

cooks? i'm the primary cook at our house, but i love cooking. it relaxes me. sunday evening dinners, where i throw together a bit of everything that i find in the fridge and in the garden make me happiest.

does the dishes? husband does, which is part of why i like to cook.

which?

magazine to you read? i just bought a digital subscription to the new yorker. but i like to pick up unusual magazines when i travel. things like tank or kinfolk.

bus do you take the most? i don't take a bus very often, but when i do, it's 34. i'm more likely to take an s-train to get around copenhagen.

day is your birthday? march 22.

season do you prefer? i've always loved autumn. it signaled the start of school (and i stayed in university for a long time), and i still retain that love for a new sweatshirt and the sense of a new beginning that came with the beginning of the semester. i can still conjure that feeling, just from the shift in the temperature and the angle of the golden light.

town did you grow up in? platte, south dakota. i don't think i could live there now, but i'm glad to have grown up there.

what?

are you doing right now? thinking that i should probably be wrapping this up and getting to sleep

is good about you? i have a lot of energy, am funny and generally in a good mood. i love sharing ideas and seeing what happens to them, without feeling too protective of them. i think there's a lot of power in shared ideas.

is bad about you? i procrastinate. i need deadlines in order to function well. i talk too much sometimes. if i don't like someone, i can't hide it.



do you want to work with? social media, fun content, people who give me energy, ideas, ships (luckily, i get to do this).

is most fun at the moment? being in copenhagen during the week and at home in the countryside on the weekends, hanging out with kittens and enjoying the garden. going on holiday next week.

are you wearing? a grey t-shirt with hearts on it and comfy grey lounge pants, both from primark.

kind of shoes do you own? i'm in total sneaker mode now that it's summer - faves of the moment are rose gold pumas, white pumas, green converse, light blue adidas. and when i'm at home, haviana flip flops.

is your shoe size? 40

are you reading? i'm half-heartedly rereading murakami's kafka on the shore and i ordered a book from the library on the history of the cia - legacy of ashes. i intend to take it on holiday next week. i'll admit that i read an awful lot of news online these days and it means i haven't been reading books much. that's undoubtedly not very good for me, so i need to remedy that.

are you going to do now? i'll post this and get to bed. tho' i'm actually sitting in bed, writing it, so i wont' have far to go.

well, that was fun. if you're still blogging these days, why not play along? it just might get you into the groove again.


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reading this made me feel less helpless about the era of epic stupid we're living in. 

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11 podcasts to brighten up your summer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

stitches, objects and memories


ever since working on cleaning out our mother's house, i've been pondering things. the things we collect, stockpile, accumulate over a lifetime. the mundane things - bowls in which we serve dinner, glasses for milk, ceramic bulldogs, socks, tea towels...

i had some breakable glasses wrapped in the tea towel above for the trip home. the glasses are cheery ones from the 50s - with a pink check and a gold rim. i didn't notice that this tea towel had a careful hand-stitched repair of a hole until i went to iron it yesterday. and i welled up. mom must have sat down with it and carefully stitched a fine little oval-shaped patch into place. i find myself wondering when she did it. she couldn't have done it today. she's losing her words for things like needles and thread and while her fingers might remember how to make careful stitches, i'm not certain her mind could any longer make the connections necessary to do so. what made this particular towel worthy of repair? it is a nice, soft towel of the kind that are hard to find these days - the kind that actually absorbs water and which is soft enough to clean your glasses on and have them end up clean. that's part of why i used it to wrap up the glasses, i knew i would appreciate using it when i got home.


mom's house is full of objects and we donated, gave away, threw away and burned a great many of them. but there were things here and there that i wanted to save and take home - like these glasses and this tea towel. i'm not sure what to make of my choices. i don't particularly remember the glasses from my childhood. i think they are something she collected at a flea market in the years after i left home, so there aren't memories attached to them. but still, they spark joy (a factor my sister swears by after reading the marie kondo book). and it means something to have brought them home with me, across half a continent and an ocean. i feel comforted when i use them.

it is, in many ways, a situation without much comfort, this losing your mother to alzheimer's. i have been able to read about it a little bit now, but still haven't found anything that i feel like is the book i need. i think i deal mostly by avoidance. i don't call her much, because it brings it to the surface, hearing her repeat the same stories - the relocation of her cats to another zip code (as she puts it), the evil people who took her driver's license tho' she wasn't hurting anyone, the whereabouts of her (multiple!) guns - hearing her search for words and stumble around in her decreasing vocabulary. it's too raw and distressing. so i seek comfort in drinking my gin and tonic from cheery glasses she chose or fingering the mended stitches on a tea towel. and it hits me that the tea towel could have been my grandmother's and the stitches hers. and she also had alzheimer's and was eventually erased. leaving behind a mended tea towel, that i muse over at my own desk in my home in denmark, so far from where the stitches were stitched. and i wonder if objects can be repositories of memory. and if it will also happen to me...

* * *

speaking of memory and objects, matisse found joy in things as well.

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an interesting piece on alzheimer's as a women's issue in the lenny letter.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

musings from somewhere over the atlantic

iceland air FI657, somewhere over the atlantic

i don’t think there’s any way to emotionally prepare for this. clearing out our childhood home. the photos, the show clothes, the memories. the realizing that there’s not much there that i wish to have or keep. the clinging. the letting go. whether to reveal to mom what we’re doing. how she will react. whether she will understand. whether i have compassion and sympathy for her. so many questions, many more than answers. and a limbo space, where i don’t know what to feel. anticipation, dread, relief, nostalgia, resentment, disappointment, sadness? all of those at once?

she’s not going to get any better. she has checked out and she’s no longer the mother i knew. if i ever knew her. can we know our mothers? can we escape them? embrace them? become them? what if we become them? shit, what if we become them?

her utter lack of ever being wrong. her hiding of her actions. her lack of attention span. her distractions. what if i’m already her? how to escape?

i look at my hands and see hers. but also mine. we are always a combination of our parents and our experiences. but who does that mean that i am? i look at my handwriting and see dad’s.

dad was smart, sarcastic, a bit too mean at times, he drank a bit too much, loved his garden, was writer and cared deeply about his town. he was funny and competitive and political and i miss him.

mom is distracted, determined, funny, loves to sing, doesn’t listen very well, was never rattled if 8 extra people showed up to thanksgiving. but i suspect mom never reached her potential. was it laziness? or did she just not know what it might be? she loved horses and instilled that love in me. she got a motorcycle license at 60 and a permit to carry at 70+. i miss that brave woman.

they both loved reading. however, i don’t have a sense of what they got out of it. i love reading too, but i don’t recall them ever recommending i read a certain book. i just read what was around the house and anything else i was interested in….from stephen king to tolstoy.

i want a tattoo of dad’s signature on the inside of my wrist. and i want to get it on this trip. i have a sudden certainty of that. on my right hand. the hand with which i write.