Monday, June 30, 2008

i can feel it

this is gonna be a great week, i can just feel it.

the sun is shining, the birds are singing, the sky is blue, the garden is filled with strawberries and my cup of tea this morning is just right--the sugar and the milk somehow combined exactly perfectly with the temperature and it started me off exactly the right foot.

these are the things i have to do this week:
  1. find location in haunted castle for a brainstorming session with some creative people in late july/early august.
  2. play with Print Shop and try to put together a work-related newsletter.
  3. send a sympathy card to my aunt.
  4. go wander about with my diana+ and use some of that expired film.
  5. paint the købmandsdisk.
  6. go out for a very nice dinner with my husband.
  7. empty the neighbor's mailbox while she's on vacation in ireland.
  8. weed in my upper garden beds.
  9. tie the climbing roses to their new trellis.
  10. assemble new garden bench.
  11. cook something fabulous.
  12. get some exercise every day.
  13. get new kettle to replace old kettle which is starting to be dangerous (oh, let's face it, due to poor design, it's always been dangerous--steam burns, leaking onto the electrical bit at the bottom).
  14. do something creative every single day.
  15. photograph and LIST those etsy items!
  16. do the monthly blog printout.
  17. laundry (why does this never, ever end?)
  18. dishes (these too?)
  19. call the dentist.
  20. call the doctor about my strangely numb left pinky (which i fear is caused by the fabulous paper thin iMac keyboard).
  21. get me some new fonts here at the coolest (and free) font site i've ever seen!
  22. discover at least 5 new and interesting blogs. (i may already be done with this one.)
on this bright, sunny monday morning, anything and everything feels possible! part of what started my week so well, was this lovely posting over on rhayne.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

fishing in the stream of consciousness

i just read an interesting article on new scientific evidence surrounding how our brains make decisions. apparently our brains actually decide things at least ten seconds before they let us know on a conscious level. now that's interesting and something that i have suspected all along. but is it just another way of expressing intuition? and what does it mean for free will?

i am interested in issues of intuition and decision-making because at our house, we have a few decisions on our horizon and on our plate. they are big ones, ones which affect what we will do and where we will live and where sabin will go to school. it's a luxurious "problem" to have--to have so many choices that you don't really know which one to take. on top of it, it's actually choices between doing one thing i love and another thing i love, between working with people i'd love to work with and working with people i already love working with. as i said, luxury choices.

but in fishing in my stream of consciousness, i wonder exactly how i will come to a decision about this. at the moment, i'm keeping my mind (and my possibilities) as open as possible. but has my mind already decided and it just hasn't let me know as of yet? i guess time will tell.

lazy sunday

it's very quiet around here this weekend since our pookalakka headed off to chicago. she arrived safely and is having a wonderful time, which is being documented here if you are interested.

it has left us actually wondering a bit what to do with ourselves, although there is always something to get on with in all of the various projects around the house and the garden. this morning, we went over to a flea market that we hadn't visited in awhile. we weren't looking for anything in particular and i took my camera along, in case there were any photo opportunities.

i found these pretty pastel colored teacups. i didn't buy any, but i did take a few pictures of their sorbet goodness.

what i did find was a true treasure! 24 rolls of expired--VERY EXPIRED (in 1990-91) 120 film! some of it is even slide film! 5 kr. per roll.  the guy surely thought he had found a real sucker in someone who actually wanted that film. and i thought he was pretty much a sucker to let it go so cheap!  my diana+ will be happy for a long time on this!! and it just might be time to acquire a holga!

when we drive across the upper midwest on our trips to the US, we always stop at the various antique malls along the way--they are a notch or two above the flea market level--generally things are well displayed and the treasures are not so few and far between as they can be in a flea market.

but there is something about flea markets. i do love to visit them, but there are times when i feel it gives me a mild depression. there is something a bit sad about so many cast-off things in one place. things that once meant something to someone, someone who is likely gone now. china, glassware, old furniture, moth-eaten fur coats. i have to be in the right mood to go in search of treasures in such a place. and of course, they can be found. and what is trash to one is treasure to another (my expired film as a case in point). 

hope you all had a lovely, lazy weekend as well.

Friday, June 27, 2008

humbling reminder

after all of my whining about my lack of kitchen of late, i'm feeling a bit like a petulant, spoiled child. especially when i get an email from my sweet friend, the italian captain that i met on a flight from singapore to manila last month.

in the mail, he told me about many days spent at anchorage off borneo, while his bulk carrier awaited loading of coal to take to paradip. there were 30 local stevedores onboard during that time, as they would do the loading from barges that came. they slept on the deck and generally made themselves at home there. they opened three small makeshift indonesian restaurants on the deck--featuring rice, vegetables and fish. they just lived and slept where they could and capt. antonio characterized it as being like a cartoon.

he said that during the 18 days they were together, he got to know them a bit. he found out that they made only a few US$ a day. they were so poor, they had no shoes and actually had to load coal without any shoes! to fill the time between barges, they had a makeshift soccer ball made of rags and played many soccer matches on the hatches of the closed holds, also staging indonesia vs. italy against the ships' crew. the italians, of course, won, according to capt. antonio.

he said they were very funny and laughing and happy, despite having nothing. it's this that makes me realize that i'm a bit spoiled about my lack of kitchen. i'll try to keep this in mind and complain less and try to appreciate more the abundance i have in my life. i'll try to send my case of affluenza into remission.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

play, sleep, color

"Language is one of the best data-compression mechanisms we have. The information contained in literature, or even email, encodes our identity as human beings. The entire literary canon may be smaller than what comes out of particle accelerators or models of the human brain, but the meaning coded into words can't be measured in bytes. It's deeply compressed. Twelve words from Voltaire can hold a lifetime of experience," says Martin Wattenberg in an article you can read on Wired

it's really interesting and has another one of those beautiful visualizations. apparently this is the week of the cool visualizations.

my post will be compressed today because we're off to the airport. i'm putting my 7-year-old on a plane to chicago, where she will be met by her aunt and a couple of hours later, i get on a plane to oslo. i wasn't nervous when i bought her ticket a month or so ago, but i'm pretty nervous now. she, on the other hand, isn't nervous at all, only excited. she announced this morning that it would be easy peasy to spend those 7.5-8 hours on the plane, she would simply "play, sleep, color" her way through it.

it could be a life philosophy we could all learn from.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

gocco goodness

in typical procrastination mode this morning, instead of tackling my growing to do list, i was suddenly inspired to make a few gocco prints with my nifty little printer. first, i drew a dandelion and made a print master of it.

then i put burgundy ink on it (it looks rather red here)

then i printed it on some gorgeous little moleskein cahiers notebooks

then i cleaned the master and put gold ink on it.

and i made a few more notebooks.

this is what i'm going to put up on etsy.
i've been promising myself to do so for months now.
somehow fear has stopped me.

but now i'm ready.

the dandelion, a cheery little flower that spreads its seeds of possibility to the winds.

scientific proof at last

there's a headline in my newspaper today that says, "Er de troende dumme?" translated, that's "Are believers stupid?" it goes on to report on a scientific study, released in the scientific journal Intelligence, that shows that the higher a population's average IQ, the less likely they are to believe in a god--whichever god that may be.

some examples:
  • denmark - average intelligence 98, 46% do not believe in a god.
  • sweden - average intelligence 99, 64% do not believe in a god.
  • zambia - average intelligence 71, less than 1% do not believe in a god.
  • united arab emirates - average intelligence 84, less than 1% do not believe in a god.
the study, which i couldn't gain access to online, not being a subscriber to the journal, compared average intelligence and religiousness in 137 countries.

the article doesn't give details as to how level of religious belief was determined. nor does it go that deeply into the general problematics of intelligence tests. i grant you that those are both factors in the credibility of the study. but, even not knowing that, the study is interesting.

a danish scientist, Helmuth Nyborg, was behind the study, which i guess is why Berlingske is writing about it. there is a rather humorous quote from him in which he says, "this doesn't necessarily mean that you become dumber for believing in god, but that you probably were already dumber in the first place." i'm not sure he meant to be funny.

now i sincerely don't want to offend anyone who reads my blog and who believes in god, but i have to say that with all of the killing going on in this world in the name of gods of all sorts, it is a bit of a relief to think that there might be a scientific answer behind it. saying that we are going to war because god wants it is a way of not taking responsibility for your own actions and that is what a certain mr. bush has done, as have a certain osama bin laden and his followers--they are also doing what they do in the name of god. both sides are equally guilty of using god to duck responsibility for their own actions.

in the ten years i've lived outside the US, i have seen a disturbing rise in religious fervor. when i visit my parents now in that little town where i grew up, there are many more in-your-face religious billboards and bumper stickers. and i'll admit it makes me very uncomfortable. i just consider religion to be a very private matter and not one that i would want to proclaim on a bumper sticker. (which i realize is rather negated by my writing about it here, but it's not something i do often.)

the little town of 1334 people that i grew up in had 12 churches. many were splinter groups from one another because even within that tiny little community, people couldn't actually follow the advice of the bible and just get along--loving their neighbor, and so on, so you might say a healthy suspicion of religion was instilled in me very early on. and you have to wonder how intelligent it is to spin off and make your own church every time you can't get along at a potluck, which is what happened. this may further underline the point of the scientific study.

there is a doomsday billboard outside of the town that says, "if you die today, where will you spend eternity?" the sign that follows is the town's sign. i've always thought that was a bit funny. whereever eternity may be spent, i'll hazard a guess that it's not a little town in south dakota.

but, that's enough controversy for today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"heavier than a dead preacher"

enough of the oak floor is now in to bring in the centerpiece of our kitchen.

that would be this "købmandsdisk"
we bought it from the long-haired gentleman at the other end.
i wrote about him previously
it took quite an effort getting it in (hence the title of this posting).

and here it is standing in its place in the kitchen.
the bit where the wire is sticking up out of the floor on the left
is where the smeg stove is going to stand.
hopefully within the next few days.

the view from the other side.
21 drawers.
we had an oak countertop put on top.
and i will paint it creamy white over the next week.

we were so happy to stumble across this beauty, which once stood in a shop somewhere (we unfortunately do not know where). we had looked in all of the kitchen stores and were not pleased with what you could get for your money there..prefab cupboards that cost a fortune and aren't even solid wood. 

so we decided to make this the centerpiece of the room. there'll be plenty of room for lots of people to roll out and make cookies at once. or chop veggies for fajitas. and lots of storage in all of those drawers. 

i'm certain this will be worth all of the effort! i intend to survive it!

and now for something completely different

while perusing various blogs this morning, i came across this very interesting graphical depiction of coastlines on marinebuzz:

not only is it artful, it's also quite interesting. there were, for me at least, some surprises. like that norway has the second largest coastline after canada. since greenland is officially part of denmark, it would make denmark almost a close 3rd, as it is, denmark's little green dot is pretty significant, when you consider it's about equal to india. i guess all those islands make for a lot of coastline. if you want to see a bit more detail on all the countries that are just colorful dots, click here. i think i may actually print this and put it on my inspiration board.

Monday, June 23, 2008

a galaxy far, far away

i stumbled onto an old fabric-covered box today and found it was filled with pictures and other tidbits that i had once had on my bulletin board during college. i really had to laugh as i looked through them. it was like looking at pictures of someone from a galaxy far, far away.

especially this one:

i think it was 1991 and i was miss state fair and here i am standing next to senator tom daschle, who later went on to become senate minority leader. but i gotta ask you...WHAT WAS I THINKING WITH THAT HAIR? i was clearly in a marilyn monroe period, which i guess was something i copied from the early 90s madonna.  

my quest to go to the miss america pageant began as revenge on a boyfriend who broke up with me. i was so devastated that i lost 17 pounds in a week. this rendered me thin and publicly presentable in a swimsuit, so i very rationally decided that the best revenge was for him to have to see me on t.v. in the miss america pageant. how seriously misguided was that? why did no one tell me? bear in mind there was no reality t.v. in those days, so the pageant was to be my chance.

the other idea i got in my head about the pageant thing was that i would be the first smart woman to win a pageant--i would prove, again, on national television, while stating my deep and abiding desire for world peace, that you could indeed combine beauty, talent and brains all while looking seriously hot in a swimsuit. again with the seriously misguided notions! why didn't someone stop me? to be fair, my dad tried to tell me, but i wouldn't or couldn't or simply didn't listen.

i also didn't win.  i didn't even come close. but i did have fun. if only i'd gone for a bit more natural look. seriously, what was i thinking?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

flickr meme

i've been seeing this meme all over the place and so i finally decided to give it a whirl.

what you do is answer these questions, using the search function in flickr:

1. What is your first name?

2. What is your favorite food?

3. What high school did you go to?

4. What is your favorite color?

5. Who is your celebrity crush?

6. What is your favorite drink?

7. What is your dream vacation?

8. What is your favorite dessert?

9. What do you want to be when you grow up?

10. What do you love most in life?

11. What is one word that describes you?

12. What is your Flickr name?

Then you do as follows:
Type your answer to each of the questions above into Flickr search.

Using only the first page of results, pick one image (this didn't prove possible for me, I must admit, I went to page 2 a couple of times)

Copy and paste URLs for the images into Big Huge Lab's Mosaic Maker to create a mosaic of the picture answers.

note: i cheated on the first one, as all of the "julie" ones were something i couldn't really identify with. also, it takes much longer than you think. at least for me, who spends little or no time on flickr. i like the mosaic tool tho', it's cool. have a go if you have the time!

too cool!

since i've been waxing philosophical about books and bookshelves of late, i just had to share these awesome bookshelves which i found my way to from magpie musings.  all of the pictures are from jim rosenau's website.

how cool are these?  they're just so clever, funny, whimsical and wonderful that i just might not be able to resist ordering at least a little one for above the kitchen sink.

getting back on the proverbial horse...

after friday evening's outdoor cooking mishap, on the principle of getting right back on that horse that just bucked you off, i decided not to let too much time go by before cooking outdoors again (of course, with no kitchen, i haven't got much choice).  so, after a visit to the new fishmonger in town and stocking up on wood for the old outdoor stove i was in business.

large, plump scallops marinated in white wine, organic rapeseed oil, 
orange juice, a shaving of orange peel, fennel tops and fresh garlic were on the menu.

they sizzled away in the pan and were none the worse for having been on the ground because YES, i dropped them AGAIN!!  this time, before cooking, so they could be rinsed and a new marinade quickly whipped up. 

and the main course--red mullet filets slathered in pesto,
which i managed NOT to drop on the ground.

the scallops were served with toast drizzled in golden rapeseed oil.

and so i redeemed the catastrophe of the previous night.  the fish was served with a simple potato salad consisting of new potatoes with the skins on, fresh white new onions tossed in the same pesto as the fish.  and it was an unquestionable success. and made me feel a whole lot better. it almost make it ok, just for a few minutes, not to have a kitchen.

Friday, June 20, 2008

keeping my vibe down

"i am someone easy to leave"
"even easier to forget"
a voice, if inaccurate.

did you ever have one of those days? well, it was otherwise a good day what with the retail therapy and all, but it's definitely been one of THOSE evenings.  

"i'm the one they all run from"
diatribes of clouded sun
someone help me find the pause button

you are all painfully aware of my kitchenless state. however, i was able to begin using my new kitchen sink today, which was a step in the right direction. tho' several times i still found myself taking dishes out to the bathroom. amazing how quickly one learns new habits and has to unlearn them.

all these tapes in my head swirl around
keeping my vibe down

so, inspired by having an actual sink, i bought salmon to cook on the grill. and i bought a mandolin to make a lovely salad of the fennel, zucchini, baby carrots and fresh new garlic that came in my dogme box from årsiderne today. i even went and got salty macadamias from Irma, although i don't even want to think about the food miles on those. i put the salmon in a pan in a bed of lemon, doused it in gorgeous, yellow, local, organic rapeseed oil and an inspire chardonnay blend from spiers (one of my favorite south african wineries--moyo, their restaurant is AWESOME, but i digress) and covered it in the fresh dill that came in the box so it could poach in the pan on the grill. in short, i actually felt inspired.

all these thoughts in my head aren't my own
wreaking havoc

silly me.

"i'm too exhausting to be loved"
"a volatile chemical"
"best to quarantine and cut off"

the kids set the table in the circle.  the sun was shining. the rest of the spiers bottle was chilled and sweating beads of moisture onto the bright linen tablecloth.  the fennel salad and a bowl of tzaziki were on the table awaiting the delicately poached salmon.  

all these tapes in my head swirl around
keeping my vibe down
all these thoughts in my head aren't my own
wreaking havoc

i called everyone to the table. the pan was hot and i had no gloves, relying on my inner chef's asbestos hands, so i set it on a chair that was next to the table.  and before i could do anything, it fell on the ground.  upside down. spilling my lovely salmon into snail trails, leaves and dirt, spoiling the whole thing.

"i'm but a thorn in your sweet side"
"you'd be better off without me"
"it'd be best to leave at once"

initially i swore up a storm, even inventing a few new swear words in the process. to salvage things and feed my family i went down to the grill where you can get quite delicious rotisserie chickens, which we could at least eat with the fennel salad and tzaziki i made.

all these tapes in my head swirl around
keeping my vibe down
all these thoughts in my head aren't my own
wreaking havoc

looking back, i think where it began to go wrong was when we opened the mail and received this invitation to a symposium in honor of my father-in-law that will be held this fall:

he died just after the first of the year two years ago. he was such a special person and we have so many of his books in our home. the invitation has a watermark of his signature in it. and it got me all on the wrong foot. he was very dear to me and made it clear that he loved me and accepted me wholeheartedly into the family. i worked closely with him on his technolution project, translating and editing for him to ensure the english was correct, my translations even being part of his exhibition at the library in alexandria, egypt a number of years ago.

when i ordered the wegner chairs today, it was to complement the first 4 he gave to us. as i photographed my bookshelves yesterday, he was on my mind, as our whole evolution collection was his. i love so much enountering his marginalia as i read his books, but somehow seeing his handwriting makes me realize he's no longer here.

he was a brilliant man. he invented a field of study of which he was the first professor at lund university in sweden. he surely had so much left to think and write and discuss. and i suddenly miss him so much.

but listening to alanis morissette helps me and it's her song tapes which i wove into the beginning of this posting.  sometimes you just have to wallow in your sorrow and cry your eyes out.

the spirit is willing...

....oh, ok, i admit it, the spirit is also very weak. in theory i want to live more simply, not have so much stuff, not define myself so much by the stuff. i love the IDEA of that. however, i'm trying to put together a brand new kitchen here. like the kitchen of my dreams. and that involves stuff. pretty stuff. stuff like this:

hans j. wegner's classic "y" chair
i know, we already have 4, but we need 8
we're gonna have guests!

and this tom rossau lamp was just so gorgeous.
so i heard myself say, "give me two."

oh. and one of those, please.  in red, to match my retro smeg fridge.

and i do so adore a good café latté. 
and it has that retro feel to go with the...
yes, i believe i already mentioned the smeg fridge.

what is even more worrying is the high i get from such an expedition. the sheer elation that infuses my being when i acquire (or even just order) gorgeous, high quality kitchen and dining room items (disturbingly close to the happy feeling i had last week when i bought my iMac and brought it home and just gazed upon it, caressing it ever-so-lightly). it makes me SOOOoooo happy! like jump for joy, do cartwheels right there in the middle of shop (luckily i did not, as they have a lot of breakable things), engage in insane happy dance kind of pure happiness. i will appreciate these things in my new kitchen. we will use them every day. because they are good quality, they are an investment in sabin's future as well (ok, that smacks a little bit of self-justification, I GET THAT).

as soon as the house is done, we're totally on track towards a simpler life...i'm sure of it.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

fun, fun, fun!

this is a PG-5 print gocco machine

invitations to our housewarming party
printed on the gocco

now with inside printed they're drying in the window.
i adore these colors.

when i was in the philippines last month, i bought this wonderful little gocco printer from a very sweet woman named khristine whom i corresponded with online and who had her husband deliver the goodies to my hotel.  i had learned about the existence of gocco printers--a little japanese device made by riso--on etsy, that bastion of creativity to which i may or may not be addicted, depending on how you define addiction.  i prefer to call it inspiration. but i digress...

so i have finally gotten it out and figured out how to use it.  although i have not yet gotten too fancy--using multiple colors and such, i have learned how it works and i've made two prints--one for the front of my invitation and one for the inside.  i'm pretty pleased with myself, i must say.

for the front, i copied one of the architect's drawings of our addition, then i stamped bubbles where the house itself invites to the party.  on the inside, it's just straight text with the party details.  i'm going to make one more print--this time a fun one, for the inside cover.  i'm still working out exactly what that will be.

i'm so excited!  thank you, khristine, for going out of your way to get this little printer to me! it's so much fun to have a new kind of creative outlet!


cultural studies

film and visual cultural theory

sociology & evolution

i've written previously on my beloved bookshelves and how my identity is connected to them. this morning, it was cloudy and a bit drizzly, so i didn't take my usual morning wander with the camera through the garden. i was stuck inside, so to take a little break i took these shots of the bookshelves in our bedroom.  

it's a great shelf from ikea that is open and so we can shelve books from both sides. it's effectively a room-divider, a wall of books in our bedroom, separating our bed from a couch and our two desks and what will be an opening down to our new addition when it's finished. the bookshelves are the last thing i look at before i go to sleep at night and the first thing i see when i wake up in the morning. they are a source of comfort to me, even tho' there is a rather shocking amount of dust on them.

whenever i visit people, i'm always curious to see what's on their bookshelves. do books hold a central place in their home or are they hidden away? i am suspicious of people who have no visible books in their home. you can't really trust non-readers, can you? one of the couples we know has put up a very high bookshelf up close to the ceiling in their living room. it goes the whole way around, and is filled with books. it looks great and gives the room atmosphere, but i have often wondered how they get to their books. they would definitely need to get out a ladder to do so. i don't think i'd like my books to be difficult to get to like that (not without purpose, as we'll see in a moment).

my sister-in-law in sweden has a beautiful home with  many books. her books are grouped according to color. it looks really good, especially the reds, but she admitted that she can't find anything. there are some books that i'd be able to remember the color of the cover, but by no means all. i have a need to be able to find a book when i'm looking for it.

thus the grouping you see above. i think i have taken my cue from the way that libraries group their books--according to a broad topic--like sociology or 19th century russians or film theory--and then alphabetical by author. i have enough of some authors that they have their own special section, apart from their broad topic--thus barthes and bakhtin and zizek have their own shelf.

my fiction is in boxes at the moment, awaiting shelves in the new addition, but i think i'll try something new (for me) when i unpack it. i intend to divide it into "good" and "beach" novels. it just seems wrong to have dan brown next to...well...anything...but oddly i can't bring myself to get rid of those few books of his i've been desperate enough to pick up in an airport somewhere. so books like that are going to go up on the highest shelves, out of both easy reach and being easily read by those below (since i'm slightly ashamed to own such books).

i'm curious, how do you shelve your books?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

observations on a sunny afternoon in copenhagen

observed today in copenhagen while sitting in a café along gammel strand:
  1. sweet old american couple with the easy, understated elegance of retired academics, getting lattes before going on a canal tour.  
  2. sweden pretty much providing all of the wait staff in copenhagen.  malmö really is a suburb of copenhagen, thanks to the bridge.
  3. so many charming upright bikes with a front basket and pretty fenders.
  4. busy yellow buses
  5. everyone is on a mobile phone is some fashion--whether texting or talking.
  6. tourists sticking out due to their fashion:  spaniards with dark hair, scarves and totally different sunglasses. jutlanders with their sing-song danish and short leather jackets.
  7. trendy young men who have clearly spent hours and a fortune in hair wax/gel giving their hair that tousled bed-head look.
  8. middle-aged academics in unfashionable slightly too short sport coats.  they are no doubt politiken readers.
  9. lawyers (or perhaps shipping executives) in suits, striding purposefully towards a business lunch.
  10. the odd clothing of summer.  it's clear that summer is so short here that people replace their summer clothing more infrequently.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

progress in the kitchen

new oak floor going in.  
husband is a brilliant handyman!
the circle he cut out in the floor around the brændeovn is brilliant
we'll have tile there to protect from fire.

the stove has arrived (in the shop) and is ready to be delivered later this week.

refrigerator is in too!  and so is the dishwasher (it just made for a boring pic)

this brændeovn went in a couple of weeks ago, but i don't think i really showed it before
it's wonderful because it's both stove for efficient heating and fireplace with the glass open.

we will get through this and it will be worth it.

and we're going to keep the walls yellow, we decided today.

recycled greenhouse

i just wrote a post over on just know where you are...about the greenhouse we're building, but thought i'd share the link here to give a glimpse of yet another of our building projects to anyone who's interested.  i put it there because that's the blog my parents look at most and i just didn't have it in me to recreate it here, all that fiddling with pictures and centering and with me not being able to right click anymore.  does someone know an easier way to copy from one blog to another?

ghosts in the machine

i just read a very thought-provoking post on spirits. and of course, it got me thinking...the feeling that there are spirits around me is one i've had occasionally over the years. and i've often wondered if it could be possible that some residual force of a life couldn't remain in the air around us. i mean, why not?

years ago, i lived in california and some friends i had there insisted that there was a benign ghost living in their house. of course, this seemed like a very southern california thing to think in the late 80s and perhaps it was. but i came to believe it when their little grandson, who was only 3, perfectly described old mr. benson's blue cardigan.  the boy wasn't afraid of what he saw and maybe he saw it because he was just more open and could see something that the adults around had closed their more rational eyes to.

* * *

some cultures are more afraid of the spirit world than others. i heard a story from a ship's captain about a ukrainian pilot who came onboard near odessa, said good morning, asked for a cup of coffee and then proceeded to drop dead right there on the bridge. it was his heart and there was nothing that could be done. in the weeks afterwards, the filipino second officer who had the 12-4 a.m. watch, kept calling the captain and asking small questions that he should have been able to take care of himself. the captain finally sat him down and got out of him that he was afraid the ghost of the pilot was there on the bridge and he was uncomfortable there alone in the wee hours of the night. the captain resolved the issue by saying, "i'm sure he's not here, because i haven't seen him and if he'd been here, he would have had to come and see me first." but, he also took the young filipino officer seriously and in the next port invited a priest onboard to cleanse and bless the bridge and put the young man's mind (and perhaps the ukrainian pilot's spirit) at rest.

* * *

there is a small castle in denmark, dragsholm slot, which claims to have several ghosts. a grey lady is one who is frequently seen by guests in a certain room. i've been there several times and have done my best to see the ghost, but have never managed to see anything (tho' we once thought we had photographic evidence, which later turned out to be dust particles on the lens). i did, however, late at night in the jagtstue (hunting room), a very masculine room, where we were holding a workshop, get a rather creepy feeling--the hairs raised on the back of my neck and i went all goosebumps and i felt a distinct chill in the air. it was an uncomfortable spirit encounter, and i left the room as quickly as i could, seeking out the company of others. but i imagine one can have happy ones as well.

* * *

not long after my grandmother died after a long and disheartening bout with alzheimer's, i had a very vivid dream about her. we sat together, having tea and cookies. the light was very warm and she was assuring me that everything was all right. i awoke feeling a strong feeling of warmth in my core. i feel certain that the dream was a happy encounter with her spirit.

* * *

we had a cat called fitch. he was a black persian and dumber than the proverbial box of rocks, but a mild mannered, sweet cat. he couldn't take care of his fur properly and we were too busy to chase him down and comb him regularly (he ran at the mere sight of the comb). he never took to his litterbox properly and, in general, wasn't a nice cat to have around the house. he eventually died. there have been several times since, when i swear i both saw and heard him down at our back door. even sabin has heard the scratching sounds and swears she caught sight of him. 

i'm not sure we can ever truly know, but it's an interesting thing to ponder...

Monday, June 16, 2008

which literary character?

when i open my browser, arts & letters daily is my set homepage.  this morning, it directed me to this article in the chronicle of higher education, which began with the whimsical question of "if you could be any character in literature, who would you be?" the author's answer was, "bond, james bond" and he goes into a rather in-depth defense of this choice which is worth reading.

i'm not sure i'll go all high-brow on the question, but it is an interesting one, isn't it?  those characters that spring immediately to mind for me are:
  1. ruth in john irving's a widow for one year
  2. raskolnikov in dostoevsky's crime & punishment
  3. the underground man in dostoevsky's novel of the same name (i lean to the dark side)
  4. harry potter
  5. anna karenina (again with the dark side and i don't really even like tolstoy)
  6. nora in ibsen's doll house
  7. laura in the laura ingalls wilder books (i pretended this from the ages of 8-11 anyway)
  8. lucy in c.s. lewis' the lion, the witch and the wardrobe
it seems to be a rather diverse group, but i do think they all share a gutsiness that i admire, each in their own way.  some in a more disturbing way than others, i'll admit.   

which character would you be?

it's a london monday

every morning when i make my tea, i try to decide what kind of a day it will be and i choose my mug accordingly.  is it a manila morning?  a singapore morning?  perhaps seattle?  or vancouver?  often it's a chicago morning, since i lived there for a couple of years, i have a soft spot for that mug.  this morning, it felt like a london monday.

or at least i want it to be a london monday.  london is bustling with people who appear to have somewhere to be.  it's extremely multicultural.  it seems creative and vibrant if you look around you at the diversity of architecture.  it's fairly humming with activity.  people are getting things done, that's clear.  on top of it, you can get an excellent curry.  

this is how i want my day (and my week for that matter) to go...i want to move with purpose from one task to the next, really getting things done, fairly plowing through my to do list:
  1. questionnaire for LNG World Shipping
  2. finish up workshop article
  3. human element forum plans
  4. human element forum timeline
  5. emails
  6. invoicing
  7. run errands
  8. presents for Owen & Finn
  9. start packing Sabin's suitcase
  10. dishes
  11. finish laundry
  12. hang shelves
  13. tidy up bedroom
  14. invitations to summer party
  15. post office
  16. rental car
  17. photograph earrings
  18. post earrings on etsy
  19. plane tickets to oslo for next week
  20. business lunches (wednesday & thursday)
so you can see, i need it to be not only a london monday, but a london week.  i'd better start with a shower...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

from where i sit...

this is the view before me.  i'm still getting acquainted with the iMac.  i miss right click.  i didn't realize how much i actually used right click until now when i don't have it.  but, i am confident that i will adjust and learn.  and in the meantime, the joy i get from sheer aesthetics of the machine is enough.

the weather is changeable and unpredictable.  it's restless.  sunshine one moment, rain showers the next, rainbows in between.  sometimes i think the weather accurately reflects my own moods, or is it that my mood reflects the weather?  i feel a bit restless as well and my to-do list is a mile long, which doesn't help.  i always end up feeling restless and have a strong tendency towards procrastination when i have a lot to do.  i have emails i need to write, a small piece for LNG World Shipping, invoices, invitations to make for our big end-of-summer party, straightening up, laundry, ironing, dishes...the list goes on and on.

so, what am i doing?  sitting here, synching my iPod with the new iTunes and generally not doing any of those things i should be doing.  but, perhaps that's what sunday afternoons are for. the work can wait 'til monday.

Friday, June 13, 2008

reflections at the close of the week

beauty, stillness, morning sunshine, paper thin petals

color, light, still air fragrant with the scent of green

vibrancy, life, profusion, rush of color

these are the things i'm thinking of this morning as i wander my garden with my camera in hand.  there is a jumble of thoughts in my head.  so many experiences this week.  it was a week of return to a place i loved, but which has changed--both in reality and for me. things don't stay the same. there is an impermanence in the world.  an impermanence to the world. flowers bloom in a blaze of luscious color, then fade and move to the next stage.  and this is as it should be.

i realized this week that i too have moved to the next stage.  and it happened in one visit.  it happened without my knowing it needed to.  there are times when we don't really know where we're going until we get there.  i am healed and whole again.  the tribulations of the job i left at the end of last year are really truly behind me now.  i am wholly able to see the good and the lessons learned and have let go of the exhaustion.  

sometimes it takes going back to be able to move on. that experience is part of me now, integrated into me, forming part of my whole.  and i am at peace with that at last.  now i am able to bloom and feel my own full vibrancy again.  and that feels wonderful.

happy weekend everyone!

the minimalist

just read this very interesting (if rather unexpectedly (given where it was published) badly written) piece on eating less meat in the NYTimes and thought i'd share (despite the hack writing..the thoughts are good).  i'm going to give it a whirl.  meat as a treat.  and more spinach.  can't go wrong there!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

of clogged brains and coping (or lack thereof)

there are so many things i haven't been doing of late:
  1. blogging
  2. dusting/vacuuming
  3. cooking
  4. laundry
  5. commenting on all my favorite blogs (i'm still reading them in sneaked moments, however i'm but a lurker at the moment)
but i blame this:

still no sink, no dishwasher, no floor, no refrigerator, no nuthin'!

floorboards stacked.  junk everywhere. and did i mention the dust?

living like this does something to clog your mind.  it inhibits you.  it fogs your thinking.

or is that just the junk food i'm eating since i can't cook?  too many pizzas and shawarmas.  and salty chicken from the chicken grill.  and too many fries.

this lack of kitchen, this was my CHANCE.  my chance to eat a raw diet.  to eat more salads.  to be healthier.  i was not supposed to eat a bunch of junk!!  of course, it's not too late.  i could still kick in and do something about it. especially in light of the fact that the end is NOWHERE IN SIGHT!!!!   and in fact, for dinner this evening, i did.  i made a big bowl of salady bits (arugula, kohlrabi, tomato, cucumber, yellow pepper, lettuce, artichoke), took 3 forks, went out to the table in the circle and ate this lovely salad in the evening sunshine with my family.  

maybe i feel sluggish because i haven't been eating right.  all that junk clogs your brain. you are, after all, what you eat.  so i am one giant pizza with shawarma on it at the moment.  this is not good.  

i want my kitchen back!!

iMac, therefore i am

bookshelves reflected in the shiny, gorgeous screen.  
we're in the middle of a rebuild, so it's a bit chaotic, but it's so beautiful, i had to share anyway.

i got it!  it took visits to no less than 4 stores and phone calls by people in three of said stores to people in other stores to find it, but it's here and i am typing this very blog post on it.  there was a hitch on the start-up, but we cleared that up with a little reinstall and we won't hold it against her, because she is indeed beautiful.  like so beautiful i can hardly breathe and i don't know whether to shout or laugh or just curl up in a ball and sob at the sheer overwhelming aesthetic, ecstatic pleasure.  

those designers at apple simply rock. 

like beyond belief.  

the keyboard is paper thin and simply heavenly.  

i will write amazing things on this keyboard.  

i promise.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

and you shall be mine...

this beauty will come home to me.
even if i have to drive to sweden to find one.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

checking in

hello dahlings...i'm so sorry that i've been absolute rubbish at posting the past few days. the weather is simply glorious and i cannot bring myself to sit inside at the computer. plus, i'm attending a workshop this first part of this week, so it's been a bit difficult to find any time to write. i am, however, filling my waves of inspiration notebook with ideas and snippets and hilarious stories and i will share them when i'm back home tomorrow. the forecast calls for rain...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

BHAGs and such

going to oslo regularly makes me think about things. big things like the nobel prize. there's a nobel prize museum in oslo (which i haven't yet visited) and the first time i went to oslo, i stayed in the hotel where the peace prize winner(s) come out and greet the crowds. there's something cool about that.

DIGRESSION: it's a bit hazy for me as to why the swedish (not the SWISS) academy picks the prizes, but they are awarded in oslo and yet alfred nobel was swedish. something to do with kings and independence and being nice to the provinces, i guess. although i've been living in a country with royalty for ten years now, i don't really get all that business.

i was reading (you guessed it) haruki murakami's hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world, on the ship last night on the way back. and, being given to hyperbolic, sweeping statements, i announced to my husband, "if haruki murakami doesn't win the nobel prize for literature, there is no justice in the world and they should simply stop giving it out." and then, i said, "if we move to oslo, i'm going to make it my mission to get myself on the committee that picks the nobel prize for literature." he laughed and said, "i think you've been in the wrong business for that."

i reminded him of my (almost finished) Ph.D. in eastern european literature and that i wasn't without literary knowledge. but he pointed out (rather harshly, i might add), that the key words were "almost finished." then he said, "you'd have a better chance of achieving a goal of owning a ship in the next couple of years." while that might be nice, it doesn't really have anything to do with the nobel prize for literature, now does it?

but, this whole conversation, as disjointed as it may seem, got me thinking in general about BHAGs-Big Hairy Ambitious Goals. and why SHOULDN'T we pursue them? why should we be held back by common sense or reason? why couldn't i find my way into the hallowed circles of those choosing the nobel prize for literature? why shouldn't i try? or at least look into how one goes about it?

i didn't really imagine that i would be sitting on the pearl of scandinavia reading murakami and sipping a glass of white wine and that some important, scholarly-looking person would just saunter past and say "hey, we're over here discussing the next recipient of the nobel prize for literature and we wondered if you'd like to join us and tell us what you think about that murakami that i noticed you're reading." of course it's something one would have to WORK on. you'd have to write papers and publish them. you'd have to find out who the powers that be are. you'd have to start hanging out where you might meet them. if you're in the right place at the right time, things can happen. but they certainly won't happen if you allow yourself to be held back by silly old obstacles.

on the other hand, it might be fun to own a nice little tanker...but who is to say one can't have both? it's always good to have BHAGs...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

planes, trains and...ferries!?!

taking off on the DFDS Crown of Scandinavia to norway late this afternoon.
will tell y'all about it on saturday!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

apropos shoes

the other day i tried to photograph my new shoes together with my peonies since they're complimentary colors, with the idea of posting here. then, in the meantime, the elementary wrote about shoes and whether one really has a need for so many. i'm not a total shoe fiend, but i did actually buy two new pairs last week and have to admit it felt great. here is one pair:

i admit, it was a bit problematic for me that these pumps are jessica simpson, since otherwise i find her to be seriously vacuous and fear that i actually lose brain cells whenever i hear her being interviewed (which thankfully isn't often). however, she's got some seriously good people designing shoes in her name. and this probably won't be the last pair of jessica simpsons i acquire. but i can restrain for now...

what IS that thing?

does anyone have any idea what this is?

you can almost, but not quite, get your finger under the blade (as husband demonstrates here)

the little guy on top looks decidedly devilish, so we thought it might have something to do with tobacco. does anyone recognize it and know its purpose?