Sunday, August 28, 2016

august wanes and the season changes

what a month it's been! planes, trains, ships and cars. edinburgh, london, dover, hamburg and copenhagen. the culmination of a very big and very healing (for my wounded soul) project that resulted in a world record. a couple of days away with all of my co-workers. we sent the child off to the states for her year of high school. a bit of time in the garden here and there. as the garden produces its abundance, all of the other more metaphorical seeds that were sown over the past year have also come to fruition. i feel sated by the bounty of it all.

we've had the best weather of the whole summer in the past couple of days but right now, it's raining with biblical intensity. husband is helping the child with her algebra in the other room, via facetime. there are two teenage cats racing back and forth, playing a bit too rough. we had a roast chicken for dinner. i served it with a squash gratin (i'm using squash in everything, since the plants are going like gangbusters in the garden) and a broad bean mash (also from the garden). a simple salad of plum tomatoes and cucumbers from the greenhouse rounded it out. it's so satisfying that most of the meal came from our own garden.

i made it to yoga entirely too little during august. i saw friends too little. but on the whole, it's been a very exciting and happy month. it feels like i'm entering a new season of happiness, just as autumn, which is always my favorite season, comes around. a balance has come, an equilibrium. it's borne of spending my weeks doing work that makes me happy and being home on the weekends in this place in the countryside that makes me happy. it's the best of both worlds. long, deep conversations with husband make us both appreciate the time we do have together. meals eaten together, a glass of something cold in the garden in the late afternoon, musings about garden designs. life is full and good as august comes to a close.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

summer in dry dock

i got to spend a good chunk of my summer at a shipyard. i know it sounds weird, but i love shipyards. ships on an ordinary day are cool, but in a dry dock, when you can stand underneath and take in the immensity of them, that's the best. in a dry dock those over-dimensioned hunks of steel are somehow even when they're cut in half, covered in scaffolding and exuding the acrid scent of welding. even in the rain. even at 4:30 a.m.

you can see what i was working on at the shipyard here and here.  and there's more to come, so why don't you subscribe while you're over there? and watch this video too, it's a really cool time lapse (that was made before my time). we'll have to arrange a new one now that the ship will be 30 meters longer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

nothing to fear but a cheeto with a brillo pad on his head

i find myself thinking about fear. it’s surely the aftermath of last week’s republican national convention, which seemed to be all fear (and hatred) all the time. and then i just listened to the modern love podcast episode “live without me,” which was about how almost being in a plane crash changed the author’s fear of flying (counterintuitively taking it away). and it got me thinking about what i fear.

i can have the odd sleeplessness at 3 a.m., worrying about money or whether they’re painting the ship without us being there to film or reimagining what i should have said in a conversation, but i’m not generally much of a worrier. but i find myself genuinely worried these days about the prospect of that cheeto with a brillo pad on his head becoming president of the land of my birth. about the only thing i can do about that is vote for hillary and do my part, so it’s not actually worth losing sleep over.

in a little over a week, we are sending our child “over there,” into the belly of the gun-toting, school-shooting, cheeto-loving, jesus brigade. and i’ll admit i have my share of fears about that. was it a good idea to send her via an airport we’ve never transited? do we bring her home immediately if the cheeto wins? how soon will it descend into anarchy and chaos and be completely unsafe for an innocent, albeit fashion-conscious, über cool teen? was it wise to buy her a one-way ticket?

all of those giant, quite unfathomable fears aside, i don’t generally fear that much in my daily life. ever since i left russia by myself on a train to the finnish border in 1994, i've been pretty fearless. i used to walk alone at night in my neighbourhood on the south side of chicago, believing that if i walked with purpose, i’d be ok (turned out that was true). i’ve travelled alone on balkan trains, ridden in rickshaws late at night on the streets of mumbai, crowded into the back of a tuk tuk in phuket, driven the road from manila to subic, played in the waves in the south china sea during a typhoon and been beaten up by (supposed) bulgarian police. and yet, i remain a mostly unfearful person.

it’s something my mother taught me to be, by being fearless herself. she drove us to horse shows all over the upper midwest on threadbare tires throughout my childhood. she told me to get back up on the horse when it dumped me off. she made me get out there are work with that horse again when it was being difficult. and that time that skip’s galley lad picked me up by my shoulder blade with his teeth when i was 12, i didn’t tell anyone (until years later), nor did i become afraid of him, because i had a fierce love for him already in place. if anything the fear made me more determined.

but i’ll admit i don’t really know what to do with this fear about the fascist cheeto with the brillo pad on his head. it’s a low grade fear that won’t go away.

Monday, July 18, 2016

where was this when i was picking dark blue?

maybe i need new glasses.
in a variety of colors.
with thanks to bill.
a blog friend in the beginning, and a real life friend today.

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tarkovsky's atmospheric polaroids.

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midlife crisis? why bother?

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people who are late are more optimistic.
or is that just crap?

Monday, July 11, 2016

kittens don't care if they're black or white

like the rest of the world, i have looked on in dumbfounded horror as the reports rolled in last week of two innocent men in louisiana and minnesota who were killed in cold blood by those meant to protect them for no reason other than the color of their skin. then, when a sniper fired on a demonstration in dallas, killing and injuring police, it seemed that the united states was on the verge of meltdown.

during a long drive back from germany, on my phone i read the early accounts of the dallas events, all of which were very careful not to name the color of anyone's skin. some part of me appreciates the caution, as it's somehow borne of politeness and a wish to reserve judgement. but the fact is that these things are happening due to the color of people's skin and to be afraid to talk openly about it only adds to the problem.

the problem seems pretty insurmountable. instead of making things better, having the first black president in american history (who will also undoubtedly go down as one of the best) seems to have made things worse. the toothless mouth breathers are angry and with open carry gun laws in force, they're not afraid to show it.

i don't pretend to have any knowledge of what it must be like to be black in america today. as a white, educated, midwestern female living in europe, i'm surely steeped in about as much white privilege as one can be. living outside my culture, i have my moments feeling Other, but they are no doubt mild compared to daily fears of being stopped and shot by police just for going about my life within my own skin.

all these events seem to be bringing out the worst in people, especially on facebook. i suspect it's not good for us. we isolate ourselves in silos of those who believe as we believe. and we shake our heads at the sharing of treacly videos about how people are not born racist, considering ourselves above such superficial analysis. we don't really engage with the question at all. and it all feels quite hopeless.

some part of me feels as i did during the reagan years with his anti-russian rhetoric. i imagined a young girl in russia who was my age and maybe looked a bit like me and wanted the things i wanted. and i thought, if we could just meet and talk to one another and get to be friends, we wouldn't need all of this. maybe we all need to start making friends with people who are different from ourselves - whether it's skin color, sexual orientation, nationality or something else. maybe it's a place to begin.