Monday, March 31, 2008

some days are just like that...

it's been a blah monday. maybe because of the change to summer time, it just felt wrong getting out of bed this morning. all day i've been wondering if i'm getting sick, which would be bad because we're going to barcelona later this week and i don't want to be sick if i have to fly.

i've been dragging all day. and on top of it, i got a HUGE tax bill in the mail today as a little surprise, which just underlined the extreme mondayness of the day. sometimes there are just days where you should simply go back to bed. unfortunately, i didn't get the hint, so i did not go back to bed.

it isn't really that anything has gone especially wrong today(other than the tax thing, which husband says isn't really as bad as it appears), it's more that it felt like a blah and uninspired day. i got the things done i needed to do, but i didn't do them in a particularly engaged fashion. i just kind of floated through, feeling sluggish and heavy, so not really floating at all, more like trudging, actually.

i guess it was just a monday. not a day to remember at all. in fact, probably one to forget. maybe some days are just like that.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

kraka fyr

we spent our saturday at the viking ship museum in roskilde. husband joined a "laug" last year on the replica vessel, kraka fyr. it's basically a club whereby you pay 200DKK (that's $42 these days with the dollar so low) and for a whole year, you're a member of the museum and get yourself and a friend in for free. but, even better, on wednesdays all summer long, you can go sailing like the vikings sailed, in a vessel with a square sail out on the roskilde fjord.

part of the deal tho', is using some of your time on maintenance of the vessel. so, that's what we did yesterday. "our" vessel is called kraka fyr.

here's husband painting on a toxic tar mixture which protects the wood from the salty sea water. you can see the difference between the bits that were already painted and those that needed it.


i worked on these oars. they also received the tar treatment. and then it rained on them, making them look rather pretty with droplets of water on them.


husband rolling linseed oil onto the benches. luckily they don't have to have tar, otherwise it would be all over your clothes.


here we are working on the various pieces of the inside of kraka.


it's an interesting and international group who belong to club kraka. there is a german guy who works for the museum who sort of heads the group, a woman from the netherlands who is posted in copenhagen with her job and american me. additionally, half a dozen other danes were there. it was really a fun day--we worked hard, tarring everything, including the ropes!! and the weather wasn't really on our side. at one point, after getting thoroughly soaked by a shower, sabin and i went into the museum to warm up. inside, they have beautifully displayed 5 viking ships which were recovered from the roskilde fjord in the early 60s.


anton, the guy who works for the museum, had to go into the boat-building workshop to repair one of kraka's benches and sabin and i tagged along and watched him make new wooden pegs for holding the bench in position. i asked what kind of education people need to work there...there are archaeologists, conservationists and boat-builders. what a fascinating place to spend a saturday! next weekend, kraka will be put in the water and filled with her ballast rocks and her mast will be mounted and all of the final preparations will be made to make her ready for the sailing season.

Friday, March 28, 2008

observing or judging?

i realized something today on my journey home from oslo. i didn't realize it yet as i sat in the airport, looking around and noting down observations, such as that the woman next to me kept putting her camera up to her ear, as if it were a phone. why did she do that? was she a private detective trying to take surreptitious pictures of the people across the way? (this crossed my mind.) or was she just mental? or drunk at 11 a.m. and thought it was her phone? what was it?

i was only when i got on the metro in copenhagen that i realized what it is. i look around and my head is full of judgements:
  • cheap shoes
  • cool shoes
  • very cool shoes
  • trashy shoes
  • (why are they all about shoes?)
  • bad nose
  • nice coat
  • good haircut
  • did they do that to their hair on purpose and moreover, did they PAY something for it?
  • is she wearing pants?
  • shouldn't she be wearing pants?
  • leiderhosen--an interesting fashion choice for a 60-year-old woman

how do you turn it off? i'd actually LIKE to turn it off. but, something in us is constantly judging. i actually watched another girl (the one who may not/should have been wearing pants) watch a couple have a conversation and could see on her face that SHE was judging. (they were having a totally empty conversation.)

i remember when i first came to denmark and didn't understand danish, i thought that all of the conversations around me on the public transportation were totally of high level importance--the fate of the polar bear, whether postmodernism was indeed the cultural logic of late capitalism, björk's latest album. they weren't. they were about grandma's hemorrhoids, same as anywhere else.

but, the stories we tell ourselves about others in our heads are interesting, aren't they? i make up stories about the people i see around me all the time. i have a theory that i can tell by looking at any other person at the train which danish newspaper they subscribe to. just by their clothing, glasses and the expression on their face. i've been proven right many times, when they take the newspaper in question out of their bag and begin to read it.

i suppose along with those stories one tells oneself about the others on the train or the bus or in the airport, there is always an element of judgement. we are constantly assessing whether people are like us or not. perhaps it's just human nature. but i'd like to be more aware and try to keep it to the level of observation and stop judging so much. maybe the first step is realizing what's going on in my head...

catching up

so, i'm back home from wonderful oslo (i know, that's copenhagen's phrase--wonderful copenhagen, but i'm appropriating it for oslo). it's friday night. sabin and i just played a fun drawing game and now she's watching friday night t.v. and since i'm not that keen on it, i'm looking at all the blogs i've missed out on over the past nearly two weeks--one without internet and this week where i was working.

my german friend gabi, who i met while studying in kazan in 1994, has a blog and i just discovered that during my offline time, she actually wrote about MY blog on hers! thank you gabi!! how cool is that!?!

we met while we were both studying russian at kazan university (she was much better than i was). she lived with aida and diljara, two young girls who were lucky enough to have their own apartment. i lived with an ancient old soviet apparatchik who would wax philosophical about stalin with tears in her eyes after a couple of shots of vodka every evening. so, you can imagine that i spent a lot of time with gabi and aida and diljara, drinking endless cups of tea from the samovar and talking and going for walks arm in arm. those were truly wonderful days. it was winter when we arrived in kazan and we saw spring come and begin to be summer. it couldn't have been more wonderful...to see the world thaw and turn green around you, together with great friends who you laughed and made music together with.

gabi and i have managed to keep in touch...at times sporatically, over the years. but, it has always been a friendship that was instantly back to the same level of closeness as soon as we were together, no matter how long we'd been apart. i have to give her a lot of credit--she's been the one keeping up our contact over all these 14 years--writing wonderful REAL letters that came in the mail. she was a bridesmaid at my first wedding in the US and sang at both the wedding and reception. i can still picture my uncle who had been in germany during WWII, standing there with tears in his eyes, as she sang marlene dietrich songs at the reception.

and these days we're talking a lot more online after i left my job (and remembered what was important) and after she and her son, benjamin, visited last fall.

as she says on her blog, i went on her honeymoon. that sounds like a totally weird thing to say and an even weirder thing to do...but to defend myself, gabi and i had planned the trip together first, had gone through the whole invitation/visa process and THEN she decided to get married and bring along her husband. so actually, he came along on OUR trip, as i remember it. and, she and i are still together, but she's not with him anymore....so that speaks for itself. wouldn't you say? :-) and it was a wonderful trip...sailing on the volga on an old river cruise vessel from the 1950s...on "local" tickets, purchased for us by our friends in kazan. to this day, when i catch a whiff of esteé lauder's white linen breeze, the perfume i happened to have along on the trip, it transports me back there instantly, to those leisurely summer days along the volga.

what's wonderful about gabi's blog is her level of raw honesty...she shares her innermost thoughts and revelations. it's sometimes shocking, but mostly it's very revealing and you're left breathless at how brave she is to share herself in that way. go and read her, i guarantee you'll want to keep going back. and, on top of it, she's a professional musician and makes podcasts of her music available on her site!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

of travel cynicism and leading a simpler life

so, i wandered for an hour or so around oslo this evening after i left work. i was looking for bookbinders design, a swedish store where they sell the most beautiful fabric-covered journals, to which i am wholeheartedly addicted after stumbling upon them in singapore a couple of years ago. they're lovely, like this one, which is incidentally my favorite color, tho' i managed to make myself buy other colors this evening:


my one that's this blue color, which is called the aptly poetic duo emerald, is almost full and i will soon need a new one, especially since i seem to be drawing in them these days. so i stocked up-in green and reddish rusty orange.

anyway, my point was actually totally different, got a little carried away there with the pretty blank books of unlined(!) paper....my point was that i felt rather giddy with happiness to be walking around the streets of oslo. i think i'm falling in love with it. which, strangely, disturbs me a bit. i'm the CYNICAL traveler. the one who says, "singapore--it's like disneyland with nationhood." or "thailand is so seedy, i hope i don't have to go back there, there seems to be a glowering menace underneath all that bowing and politeness." or "thank god i haven't had to go back to india since the bull attacked us on the beach in goa--it's been so long my visa has thankfully expired."

so, how can i be so enchanted by oslo? is it the fjord? the mountains? the snow? the fact that it's not copenhagen, which has, after all, lost its charm for me in its level of familiarity? is it just that residual, long-buried american inner voice that thinks, "hey, it's cool to say, i work in oslo." much cooler than the rest of my working life, which has just been in denmark, apparently. again, familiarity breeds contempt, right? and that's kind of silly, because there are many good things about denmark and who i am to crave mountains, having grown up on the prairie? but anyway, perhaps i shouldn't over-analyze and should just appreciate it! perhaps it's a sign of my healing after my last job, which surely drove me to that level of cynicism in my travel. and, if i'm honest, there are many places i love. manila is one of my favorite places on earth, followed closely by cape town and moscow--i'm totally a moscow person. i liked palanga/klaipeda in lithuania (admittedly, maybe i just like SAYING palanga). it was a lovely little tucked away corner of europe that was extravagantly undiscovered by other tourists and therefore wonderful. so perhaps i'm not as cynical as i think. maybe i just don't really like singapore. or thailand. and they can pretty much keep india. which i'm actually sure they're quite happy to do.

so, i'll stop dwelling on that and get to my other point...paring down and living a simpler life. this has been on my mind for awhile, but thoughts of it have been provoked again this week by the discovery of this wonderful blog and several comment conversations with the writer of the blog. (totally strange that i feel that i know her and yet so totally do not--but that's a whole 'nother posting, isn't it and another of my many digressions). anyway, back to the point. so as i dined alone, i thought about what aspects of my material existence i would be willing to give up. and sadly, they are few. i would give up the t.v. and the car. i'm already not one for prada shoes or gucci bags, tho' you would be hard-pressed to separate me from my zebra bag. look at it, it's fantastic (and this is really my very bag in the picture from the african gameskin website)



oh, please, don't be shocked. zebras are NOT endangered. he was going to die anyway and he may as well have been made into something lovely that i truly enjoy every day, rather than being devoured by a lion. but AGAIN, i DIGRESS!

i want my writing house and the sauna in the garden (and the environmentally-friendly materials are all ordered--oak beams and not a bit of treated wood in sight). i can do without all of the plastic junk that comes into our house thanks to having a 7-year-old who adores things like Bratz and Littlest Pet Shop. but that would be HER doing without, not me, wouldn't it? actually, if i'm honest, hand the kid a stick and some pretty rocks and she's happy. tho' admittedly spoiled as all hell--example: on our last flight to manila, "mom, why are we in monkey?"(a statement of which i am perhaps perversely proud--but again a whole 'nother post)--but perhaps she could do without all the plastic toys. those Bratz have a seriously trashy way of dressing anyway--that can't be good for her psyche.

but, i want lovely fabrics and yarn in my life. things which i can make something out of with my own two hands (if i ever learn to knit--which i will). do i have to do without things like that? they can't be that bad, can they? i would like to limit the chemicals in my home. i would like to use natural products. i buy organic food unless i'm absolutely desperate--the store is closing and the only milk they have left is the regular stuff. i try to buy locally-produced whenever there is a choice and i do without (on occasion) if there's not. i've taken to buying wines produced from organically-grown grapes. i'm concerned about pesticides and gene-manipulated foodstuffs. i'm concerned about the world we're going to leave to sabin--what will she have to deal with?

i love owning books. my books make me happy. when i sit in the room next to the book shelf, it calms me. it makes me happy, just being there, among the books. but i SHOULD visit the library more. i don't need to own them all. just the ones i want to write in. which is, if i'm honest, most of them.

perhaps what i should think about is which of the things i have that make me happy. and then focus on those. because in this world, sadly, it's about stuff. and stuff does, in the case of great books or yarn or blank fabric-covered books in jewel tones or that zebra purse, have the capacity to make me happy. but it would also make me happy to be more CONSCIOUS (and conscientious) about what we consume as a family. and i am doing that more and more all the time. not only keeping the food journal, but selecting things wisely and from an energy-conscious standpoint. or from a humanist standpoint.

for example, i haven't set foot in a wal-mart since 2003. and it's not only that i live where there isn't one. even if i still lived in the US, i wouldn't go there. i object to how they treat their employees and the conditions in the factories where their things are produced. tho' i have on occasion, on this very blog, complained about the danes being insufficiently capitalist--there is a limit to how capitalist one should be. and wal-mart is WAY too capitalist. i don't care if i can shop for my cleaning products at 3 a.m. (which i used to love, before i became more conscientious). it's simply wrong how they do business and how they treat their employees and the communities in which they do business. and i'm so proud of my dad, who writes a little anti-wal-mart nugget in his column every week and who is 74 and has never set foot in a wal-mart. now THAT'S commitment.

but i do so want a mac. i just got a new dell laptop from my new job. if i were really a good person, i would have refused it since michael dell was one of bush's biggest campaign contributors and let's face it, bush isn't really going to go down in history as the greatest president ever (again with the digression). i am a mac person on the inside (and was one until i started to work for microsoft, where, funnily enough, they're not that into macs). i mean macs are vibrant and creative and there are even OLD guys (in nice suits, i'll grant you) in the business lounges at the world's airports with MACS!!! and PCs are stodgy and middle-aged and lumpy. and i'm definitely none of those things....right? ok, maybe a little middle-aged and probably more than a little lumpy, but definitely not stodgy. and totally creative. for sure. and trying to be a better, more conscientious consumer, in little ways for now, working up to the bigger ones as i gain strength. that's all one really can ask, isn't it?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

the dangers of blogging...

...on multiple blogs include that you possibly post a perfectly good post to the wrong blog. or not exactly the wrong blog, but not the right blog for the post. although it went pretty ok over on that blog, it was probably a bit more of a moment of perfect clarity...

i think i could live here

can i just say that oslo is beautiful? maybe it's because it's a "new" city for me. it's my third visit (or is it my fourth?)...but each visit has been short and spent mostly in meetings or in the office. however, this time, most everything is covered with snow. and snow makes things magical, doesn't it? they look clean and fresh under all that glorious whiteness. when the sun shines, like it did today, it's all sparkling and lovely. and if you eat a totally delicious dinner at a beautiful restaurant with fantastic service up near the holmenkollen, as the sun sets and the city lights below begin to twinkle, well, it seems just almost heavenly. and that dinner takes place after you've had a day of fantastic discussions about a really, truly exciting new project...well you start to think that maybe you could live here...and that maybe even you should.

i'm not sure i've fallen in love with a city like this since cape town. but there's something about snow-capped mountains and a fjord and being on a the 31st floor of the radisson that just totally kicks copenhagen's flat no-more-than-6-stories-tall butt. it makes me feel that copenhagen doesn't DARE to really be anything. i mean, it's sweet and quaint and nice enough in its own derivative dutch renaissance architecture kind of way, but let's face it, the key word about the little mermaid is "little." and that's actually kind of strange, because the danes are otherwise the most design savvy of the scandinavians. they have style when it comes to furniture (not clothes, i grant you--if you see anyone well-dressed in copenhagen, i guarantee you they're swedes). but maybe oslo just has nature on its side. and what nature! i think i could live here...do you suppose they'll want half my salary in taxes too?

Monday, March 24, 2008

birthday musings

from march 22--the day i turned 41.

so, inspired by the hula seventy blog, last night, on the eve of my birthday, i started to make a list of 41 things to do before turning 42 (next year). i got to number 39 and couldn’t come up with the last two. isn’t that strange? looking over the list, it seems a bit vapid in spots, so i don’t feel up to sharing it here. it has a wide variety of things on it, from learning to knit and going on at least 3 city weekend holidays to the rather empty wish of obtaining an iPod Touch, to more noble pursuits, like getting serious about my writing.

whether the things i wrote down were important or not, is actually beside the point. what’s interesting is taking stock of your life and where it’s headed and where you want it to head. it can only help to get all of those wishes out and articulated—even if some of them are seemingly as empty as remaining “gold” on SAS—being gold is, for whatever strange reason, important to me. and it doesn’t hurt anyone, so it’s not so bad.

i guess i have, over the past few months, come to realize that taking stock of your life and where it’s headed and whether the things you’re doing are making you happy is a good thing. even more importantly, if you realize that what you’re doing isn’t making you happy, you have to take steps to change that. that, i have done. and it feels good and right. so, the birthday list of things i’d like to see happen over the next year is also a healthy act. it will be interesting to check back in with it regularly and see what happens. whether i will act to make them happen and even more interestingly, how i will act to make them happen.

one of the things i noted was to spend more time with friends. i already got a good start on this, since we had ab & karin and maria over for my birthday dinner. we had some great food—fresh, organic, local lamb from årstiderne, nice wine to go with it and a dense chocolate cake from nigel slater’s real food. we had lots of laughs and everyone got to make several delicious juices in the juicer. we haven’t entertained to much over the past year or so—too busy with work and then with our building project, but the house doesn’t have to be in perfect order in order for us to have people over. what matters is sharing some good food, good wine and lots of laughs.

apropos stories

from march 21:

i continue to ponder the story possibilities that lie in my own life. writing them into fiction might be a wonderous way to explore the path not taken. what if the choices had been different? the lived life would surely have been different as well. or would it? would it end up the same place anyway—what is the role of free will? i think from having been raised presbyterian, the question of free will/destiny underlies my thinking rather significantly. combining this with notions of memory, recognition, absence and i find that i can’t sleep from thinking about it. to create characters, to think about their motivations and actions—i find the possibilities thrilling.

yesterday, i was reminded that a person’s life can be radically different than it appears to be on the surface. that their inner, hidden life can be something else entirely to what it looks like to the outside world. a character is building in my mind, one that will enable me to explore this possiblity. i think i will write and see where the writing takes me.

there is a novel inside of me

from march 20:

and in these days where i’m not wasting my time in front of the internet, i can feel it percolating under the surface—that novel that i’ve long felt is inside of me. i think it comes from reading siri hustvedt’s latest novel—the sorrow of an american—and also her book of essays—a plea for eros—and realizing how much autobiography is in her novels. that somehow makes me feel “authorized” to write from what i know. to set the novel in the settings i know and to use characters that are based on people i know. one doesn’t have to use their stories per se, but just their characteristics. and perhaps my own, which are, of course, the ones i know best of all. one never really knows what stories lurk underneath the surface, does one?

on not being online

during my time offline, i still wrote blog postings--it's become such a habit, i felt compelled to do so. this one from march 20:

not being online doesn’t actually make me stop thinking of topics to blog about. so i thought i’d write them up in word and then I’ll be able to post them when I’m back online.

it’s an odd feeling, this not being online. it’s amazing how second nature it has become to BE online. and how useless i feel the computer is when it’s not online. if i can’t tap into the web, it feels like i might as well not use the computer at all. but, there are many other uses that don’t require you to be online. printing. writing. fiddling with pictures. scanning. none of this requires that one is online. so why does it make me feel so lost and isolated?

at the same time, i can feel that it’s good for me not to be online so much. i do other things. i draw. i write in my journal. i work in my art journal. i work on the presentation i’ll give at the beginning of april in norway. i work on the profiling plan for my new department. i knit. i cook. i read. i paint the closet doors. i sort through sabin’s outgrown clothes. i fill bags with stuff to donate. in short, i actually have a life. and i wait for all the cool stuff i’ve ordered when i was online, and i stop ordering more things (which is a undoubtedly a good thing).

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

the real internet diet

i am now on an ISP-enforced internet diet. we're switching providers (something regarding husband's work, but i will neither point fingers nor cry) and there was a mix-up with that. which means that we won't really have the 'net again until next week. after easter. one week from today. so i'm really on an internet diet now. it will no doubt be good for me. i must believe that...mustn't i? i shall survive!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

sunday creativity

because i couldn't resist and it was still available 2 hours after the go-live and because i want to make a shawl--a lovely red shawl--when i finally do learn to knit.

mamba in laceweight 2-ply sophia (thank you, posh yarn for making such lovely things)


i'm reading this wonderful and very inspiring book. yesterday, i began following the exercises in it. the first one was to draw a mug, a chair, a table and a person. you should use pen. you shouldn't erase. it went pretty ok. the mug turned out best. i tried to draw husband as the person. it didn't look a thing like him, but it did look like a person. which was more than i expected, as i've always thought i couldn't really draw people. turns out i can draw people, i just can't draw them so they look like the person i'm drawing.

so today, i continued with the book. despite having a monster headache for most of the day (or maybe because of it), we went on an afternoon walk and i picked a small branch of pussy willow, which i brought home. then i sat quietly upstairs in my new space and drew it. i was quite pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. so pleased, in fact, that i drew a few more versions of it in my art journal.

i've been struggling with the whole question of creativity and with being able to get down to it and make something, but this feels authentic and real this time and not like i'm imitating someone else's work or doing something that's not me. what a relief it is to feel that way! who imagined that i could come to that feeling through sketching? and why didn't i think of it before?

stash expansion

isn't it lovely?

i had to move the unwound skeins of posh yarn over to their own basket. thereby making my stash now fill two baskets. else has gone on an extended weekend vacation, so i haven't yet had the knitting lessons from her, so i continue to be, for all intents and purposes, unable to knit. from what i've been reading on the knitting blogs, this stash is so small it cannot rightfully be referred to as a stash. and yet, i shall restrain from buying any more when it goes on sale this evening (in 2 hours, but i'm not counting). the basket they are in is one i bought from a lovely old russian lady when i went on a volga cruise eleven years ago. i love that. both that i still have the basket and that it has been put to such a lovely use.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

things that make me happy

since the past two posts have been rants, i thought it was time to remind myself that there are a whole lot of things to be happy about in life:
  1. cooking outside on an old wood stove
  2. the tulips are blooming
  3. spring is definitely in the air
  4. walking downtown and having a lovely lunch at café le zinc
  5. making a stencil for the closet doors
  6. no enounters with impoliteness out in the culture today
  7. sabin's happy little pink LG KG800 phone
  8. my dozens february encore kit arrived today!

not every day is full of urges to rant.

Friday, March 14, 2008

danish service culture

ha! that's the most ironic title i've ever typed on this blog. because there is a complete and utter absence of service culture in denmark. and i've just had TWO run-ins with it inside of 20 minutes. why, after ten years am i surprised, you ask? good question. i'm not sure why i am either. but this one, especially the second instance, totally blind-sided me. and when the lack of common courtesy and even a modicum of service hits me in this country, it hits me hard. i suppose because no matter how long i live outside of the u.s., my inner american thinks that when i'm a customer somewhere i could expect service. and in these instances, i wasn't even asking for SPECIAL service, just normal, ordinary common courtesy kind of service. but did i get it? no, i did not.

instance 1: this morning, when i left the house for my painting lesson, i suspected that a package would be arriving today. so, i left a note on the door, asking said post person to leave the package by the door and take my note as signed permission to do so. when i got home, there was my pink posh yarn envelope by the door, so i thought it had worked. so, imagine my surprise when i opened the mailbox and found a slip to collect a package at the post office. (tomorrow, as i later found out.) what the X*#? how could that be when i left a clear note--even written in danish--on the door.

so, stupid me, not actually noticing that it was actually tomorrow i could pick it up, i go to the post office, thinking i could get it today. i handed the note to the woman behind the counter and she glances at it and righteously throws it back to me, telling me that it won't be there 'til tomorrow. i could have dealt with that, but she was so righteous and sort of "ha!" about it. so i said that i wondered how it could have happened when i left the note. she continued in her righteous tone to inform me that that's not allowed. i walked away, shaking my head and muttering something about there not being much service from the postal service...

that i could, in some sense accept. although she didn't need to be so righteous. why do danish women always have to be so righteous?

instance 2: at the cashier in kvickly. he says my total is 800-something. that sounded really, really high, tho' i was purchasing cider--both alcoholic and non-alcoholic and tonic and schweppes lemon and such things. still, it sounded high, so i had a look when i got my receipt. and there, on the receipt, i saw that i was charged for 39 packages of butter, rather than the 3 that i actually bought. i called it to the attention of the cashier, who otherwise seemed to be a nice young man. he, without even THINKING of apologizing, asked me to go over to customer service and have it fixed. i, reeling from the shock of NO APOLOGY(on top of my righteous-woman-at-the-post-office experience), i began muttering about it and got a small apology, but only after i had to ask for it. i went to the customer service counter. still reeling. and still muttering about the lack of apology, admitting that maybe my sensitivity about it was due to my being american. which the kid behind the counter confirmed...that american culture was totally different in that way. which was not all that helpful.

so, all told, i was left reeling and yes, seething, from the entire experience. what is it? why is it so difficult to be polite? my theory is that danes give so much in taxes that they think they don't owe other people anything...no recognition that they exist, no acts of human kindness. nothing. and at times, it's a hurtful and bewildering way to live. if you're not a dane.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

what is the world coming to?

my newspaper today has a special section on "business courses." featured in 30x30 format, is a giant picture of a guy who is supposedly diving his way to better leadership. (yes, you read that correctly. diving.) he's learning to control his breath and thereby his management skills. what? are people really buying this? is this some kind of a joke? sadly. i fear it is not. where is the critical journalism today? who could have seen this ridiculous idea and said, hey, "let's devote a cover and two whole pages inside to this completely absurd idea." or maybe they're just seeing how far they go before people say, "stop." but i fear that no one is saying "stop." people are apparently so desperate for something to grab onto that they think, "hey, if i could just breathe, i would be a better manager, i need to go on that course." why not just be good at your job? why not just surround yourself with good people, listen to them and then make decisions based on your own common sense. why do people need some kind of lifeline to hold onto? is it because everyone has a manager title today, including the garbage man? are we really so insecure? is it because religion has faded? do we really have so little to believe in? is there such an innate drive to believe in SOMETHING in us that we grab at completely ridiculous straws such as this? i think it's a worrying trend but i'm at a loss as what to do about it. just wait for the latest management trend to be stability, stability, stability as opposed to constant change. maybe that would make everyone feel more secure.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

still juicing

i haven't given up the juice, i'm just stuck in a bit of a juice rut, so i haven't continued to share the recipes. every time i stand in front of the juicer, in go carrots, beets, an orange, an apple and a hunk of ginger. it's heaven. and i can drink it 3-4 times a day, no problem.

i get to write!!

i just wrote my first short article for my new job. it's a small piece on the crewing shortages in the shipping industry and what my new employer is planning on doing to address some of the challenges that this poses. i won't go into details here, because what i'm actually most excited about is that i get to write in my job! it won't be the only thing i do, but it will be a far more significant part of it than it's ever been before. and that makes me really happy.

and don't worry, i can still use proper capital letters in that context, i haven't completely forgotten how.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

to post or not to post...

...that is the question. and where to post? once you get multiple blogs going, it can get a bit confusing as to where to post. what kind of tone do you want on which blog? what about the audience? is there an audience? do i really care? that's a bit hard for me to tell. i think i posted a post on the other blog yesterday that i should have posted here. because it ended up being about a moment of perfect clarity. but the problem is that when i sit down to write, i don't always know what direction it's going to go in. so what i think i'm going to write when i start isn't what i end up writing. and may therefore easily end up on the wrong blog. and the problem now is that i'm thinking of putting up yet another blog, on which to cover a whole 'nother set of topics. where will it all end?

Monday, March 10, 2008

only one memory

i'm reading siri hustvedt's the sorrow of an american, which i picked up in the oslo airport last friday. strange that it was available there in paperback when it shows as not yet released (even in hardcover) on amazon--both the .com and .co.uk. strange. but anyway, as is usual for siri, her beautiful writing evokes so much atmosphere. she always seems to succinctly put random half-formed thoughts that were in the back of my head, giving them voice and giving me a ah-ha moment when i read them.

she has a passage in which one of her characters talks about if you could only save one memory from your life, which one it would be. and i find that such an interesting notion. which memory of all of the (more or less unreliable) memories collected over a lifetime? which one would i save? and even more, how would i preserve it? how would i know it was accurate? how would i keep it from mutating or being filtered? is that even possible?

i don't know yet what memory it would be, but these are the questions i'm pondering on a monday morning...

coolest kits


i found the coolest scrapbooking kits yet on, yes, of course, etsy. it's a shop called sweet twee lab. no subscription like other kits, which is totally cool. and they're full of totally groovy, unique stuff. this is what scrapping kits should be!! i don't even have them yet, but i should get them this week. and then i'm gonna go totally crazy with creativity. here's what they look like:

b-sharp kit

sumday kit


and the owner of the shop was totally cool about shipping to me in denmark! so it's all around a very good experience and i haven't even gotten the goodies yet! but it means my mailman will be popular again this week!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

sunday yarn

these are the lovelies i snagged at posh yarn today. i think it's my best "do" ever--i was so ready when the site when live at 8 p.m. (my time) and i wasn't denied anything that i wanted in my pre-scoping. and in case you're wondering whether i can knit yet or not...i cannot. BUT, i found out that my next-door neighbor can and she's going to help me this week! so i shall soon be worthy of this stash. and it is indeed a lovely stash. one to be proud of, in fact. i'm definitely going to need a bigger basket.


tosca (lei--that's the one with bamboo--super soft!!)

surf's up (lei--again, with the bamboo)

vegas (lucia)


tapestry (emily)

space cowboy (lucia)

these are going to make some seriously lovely socks. either that, or they will look excellent in my yarn basket on the dresser at the top of the stairs. but i will learn to knit and i will knit socks from these.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

jonesing for juice

i went to oslo on wednesday night and came home on friday night. that was a little over 48 hours away from my juicer. not good. i could feel my cells crying out for the direct hits of vitamins to which they had grown accustomed in just a few short days. on thursday afternoon, i did manage to find a juice bar where i got a fix, but even that wasn't quite the same as feeding carrots and apples and other yummy things into my own machine. i wonder if they make a portable model that would fit in my suitcase?

other than jonesing for juice, it was a good couple of days in oslo. oslo strikes me as, strangely enough, more city-like than copenhagen. it could remind a bit of glasgow (which i mean as a compliment). there seemed to be more visible diversity on the streets than there is in copenhagen. copenhagen is crawling with "foreigners" too, but they're all swedes. the danes have better shoe fashion than the norwegians tho', i have to give them that.

it's always interesting, going to a new city and learning your way around. i always have a strange feeling that i don't want to learn it too quickly. i want to retain that feeling of anticipation of something new around the next corner. i like it when the city keeps some secrets from me that i can discover later and be surprised by. but it do prefer that the public transportation is easy to figure out, that's one secret i don't want a city to keep. the things i like to discover slowly are restaurants or wonderful shops full of colorful, unusual things, or parks or tucked away cafés serving chai lattes and sandwiches stuffed with brie and peppery rocket leaves.

i always think about how the discovery can happen only once. there is only one first visit to a place. you have only the one chance for the first impression. after that, it's over and it's somewhere you've been. somewhere that you know something about.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Monday, March 03, 2008

the juice continues

juice 10: 6 carrots, 3 small beets, 1 orange, 1 apple
juice 11: melon, pineapple, 1 apple
juice 12: 6 carrots, 1 avocado, 1 clove garlic, 1 red pepper
juice 13: 1 small head romaine, handful each of spinach, arugula, cilantro, 1 lemon, 1 apple

if i wouldn't eventually miss chewing things, i think i could just live on these juices.

monday morning food for thought

women vs. women by charlotte allen from yesterday's washington post.

i wish it made me mad, but i fear it rings too true for that...

internet diet

i talked about it a couple of weeks ago, going on an internet diet. spending less time in front of the computer. less time in the blogosphere. less time in online retail therapy. and today is the day. i am allowing myself to be here until 9 a.m. (that's 48 minutes from now). then, i walk away from the computer and do not come back to it until 2 p.m. that will be 5 whole hours away from in front of the internet. i can do this.

i'm on the third day of my detox diet. already i'm feeling physically clearer and, strangely enough, mentally clearer. that's why i feel the time is right for the internet diet. maybe it's the light coming back and the general whiff of spring in the air, but i feel like putting my house in order, both literally and figuratively. and one cannot do that if one is spending the whole day surfing the blogosphere. there are so many things to do. things to create. things to tidy up. music to be listened to. i simply cannot waste my life online in the black hole that is the internet.

it's fascinating, actually, how time can pass online. you look at someone's cute creations on etsy. you feel inspired by it, so you go have a look at their blog. from their blog, there are links to other blogs of other people who are also making cool things. so, you go there. and then THEY have more links to more cool stuff. it's endless. and endlessly fascinating, actually. and even inspiring. but what good is inspiration if you only look and never do? so today, i will stop looking and start doing.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

because i am addicted to etsy...

these are just the coolest earrings!! so far, i've only bought paper journaling tags on etsy (ok and i just bought some supplies for making my own earrings), but now i'm sorely tempted by these wonderful earrings in the budgie shop from aukland, new zealand. the idea of these lovelies coming to me from the other side of the world may be too much for me. but they would make a mean birthday present (and my birthday happens to be this month--hint, hint!) , so i shall restrain for now. :-)




ok, and then there are these too:



restraint isn't one of my strong points....

this makes me happy...

thinking about what makes me happy (for the next time when i'm feeling down and want to remember). these are not necessarily in order.

  1. lots and lots of art supplies
  2. watching sabin dig into the art supplies with her whole being
  3. husband's drive to get household projects done
  4. having something to look forward to...can be anything from a new job (this week!) to dinner guests to my writing house in the garden to our building project being finished, the mailman's arrival
  5. having airline tickets in my possession (i currently have 2 sets, so i'm doubly happy)
  6. ruins
  7. shades of blue and green
  8. my beautiful, colorful yarn
  9. good chick music (sheryl crow, alanis morissette, regina spektor, feist...)
  10. my iPod(s)
  11. cooking some really fabulous food
  12. my new juicer
  13. a fragrant, hot, steaming, bubble bath, surrounded by candles and in which i sip a glass of wine and read a good book
  14. clean sheets
  15. the laundry being done on sunday night
  16. the red retro smeg refrigerator i'm getting soon
  17. henry kloss radios (even better if they dock an iPod)
  18. bouquets of flowers from my own garden
  19. sitting out in the circle in the garden on a sunny day with the sunday paper and a big pot of tea and breakfast on a colorful tray
  20. laughing over a good story

this feels like a good exercise. to think about the positive. it's so easy sometimes to think about the negatives in life. to get bogged down in some petty little things. but really, there are plenty of great things on which i can better spend my energy. so, i think i will.

something totally cool...


...and unexpected. an everyday thing and yet not. an object that isn't necessarily useful, but which brings joy, just because it's so colorful and whimsical. i found these colorful felted rocks on etsy. they're made by an artist named reya who lives in the netherlands. and there's a real rock on the inside. what a totally cool idea.

the juice experiment continues

today's juices:
  • juice 7: handful of baby spinach, 3" piece of cucumber, one small head of romaine, one apple, knob of ginger, one organic lemon
  • juice 8: 3 oranges, 2 thick slices of fresh pineapple
  • juice 9: 8 medium carrots, 1 clove garlic, one avocado, handful of cilantro

this juicer is amazing. yum. it seems there's no end to the possibilities of what can be juiced.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

the greatest thing since sliced bread

i got a juicer today. it's completely fabulous. i have no idea how i lived for 40 (almost 41) years on this planet and didn't have one until today. it is the single most amazing appliance in my kitchen.

since purchasing it around noon today i have made the following juices:

  • juice 1: 2 fiji apples, 2 oranges, 1 kiwi, ½ mango
  • juice 2: 1 granny smith apple, 1 pear, 1/4 honeydew melon, 12 seedless green grapes, 1/4 lemon
  • juice 3: 2 kiwi, 1 granny smith apple, 1/4 lemon, ½ mango, 1/4 honeydew melon
  • juice 4: 8 carrots
  • juice 5: 1 hunk of celery root (at last a purpose for those ugly things!), 1 hunk of cabbage, 5 organic tomatoes, 1 carrot, 1 red pepper (the smaller, longer, but still sweet ones), 1 shallot, 1/4 lemon
  • juice 6: version of "green lemonade" containing 1 small head of romaine lettuce, 4 broccoli florets, one organic lemon, ginger and one fiji apple (or is that fuji apple?) fantastic!

juice 5 made a mean bloody mary with a dash of soy (the philippine one with calamansi in it) and a dash of worcestershire sauce (despite me starting a detox today, i couldn't help but put a shot of nice, clear, clean absolut in--how bad can it be in its clear purity?).

making delicious, fresh, vitamin-filled juices is going to be our new way of life. it's just so satisfying to have a lovely bowl of fresh juice ingredients on the countertop, ready to be transformed into delicious, delectible juice at a moment's notice. heaven. this is WAY better than sliced bread (which is arguably not really all that good for you...)!