Thursday, July 31, 2008

love thursday

in my blog funk, i went reading the blogs i love and, of course, found much to inspire and meditate on and smile about and be touched by. but it was tangobaby's love thursday posting today that lifted the funk a bit and so, although i'm not an official shutter sister, my contribution to love thursday:

sabin so loves her big (half) sister karoline and this shot of them in the waning afternoon sunshine after a swim in a blissful, cool clear lake where our best friends live, just fit the love bill for me today.

blog blahs

i am uncharacteristically feeling blah about my blog. i just can't find any inspiration this week. perhaps it's the heat or perhaps these things are just natural. we're so deep into this home improvement project and that's taking all of my time and energy. i more or less have my kitchen back, so i'm also cooking more and that too takes time, tho' the things i've been cooking have been simple. but it's all keeping me from the computer. 

i finally did that stupid VAT report, which was weighing heavily for several weeks. i am simply shocked at how much money they are taking! yowza! and then there will be income taxes as well on top of it. it almost makes it not seem worth it to work. except for all of the lovely things that i would like to fill our home with and money is needed for those, so i guess i must.

and maybe returning to work next week is also keeping my vibe down. in many ways, i'm looking forward to it, and it's not about not loving my job, but more about that i didn't really get enough done around the house during my month off. i should have and could have done so much more. 

but perhaps my blahs are really about not really having gone anywhere for a month. i have plane tickets in hand for next monday, but it's strange for me not to fly anywhere for over a month!

it's not really as if nothing has happened this week to blog about. i would have thought that the jubilation of having gotten my long-awaited iPhone would have warranted an enthusiastic posting, but i didn't even have that in me. it is a sleek and sexy design marvel--the place where you insert the simcard alone is brilliant.

i discovered some new (to me) music that's making me happy...belanova, a mexican band. it's cheery and bright and puts me in a good mood, but i still feel blah about writing.

and yesterday, i picked up my kitchen aid beauties--an artisan mixer, a blender (which we promptly made 3 batches of smoothies in) and a food processor. all in beautiful red (except the food processor, which is black and which i couldn't pass up because it was a screamin' deal). and so i feel totally inspired to make wonderful things in the kitchen.

i just don't feel inspired to blog. anyone else out there feeling this way or ever felt this way? maybe i just need to give myself a break for a couple of days.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

is it wednesday already?

i guess my list is going well, since i didn't write anything at all yesterday, so i must be keeping my resolution of not spending too much time in front of the computer. the weather is absolutely glorious, so i definitely don't want to coop myself up in the house when i can be outdoors. 

i did spend some time indoors, laying out the kitchen tiles so that the tile man can put them up (whenever he decides to show up). base tile is an orangey-yellow called mandarin and i've strategically dotted it with shiny red tile (to match the refrigerator) and a few fun little rustic tiles with a petroglyph on them (that's the lighter ones you can see). they'll go on the wall that you can just barely see in this picture, right above the sink. it took me the better part of a day to get it right, but i think it came together in the end.

the decking is nearly finished out in what is fast becoming a courtyard. i just heard the truck come with the last of the boards, so it will no doubt be finished today. husband and i ran around to 4 different nurseries in search of the perfect tree to plant in the decking. in the end, we found a wonderful catalpa ("trumpet tree" in danish) that has a lot of character. a tree with character that was at least 2 meters high, that was our requirement. 

the rain barrel was delivered this week as well. it's a wonderful old french oak barrel that was definitely used for red wine in its day, as it's giving off a faint aroma of cabernet still. it also has great character.  luckily, there's no rain in sight this week, so we have time to get it set up properly and hooked to the gutters so that the rainwater is mainlined directly into it next time it does rain.

it seems that things are coming together and although our projects are far from finished, it does begin to feel a bit more like it will be done in time for my parents' visit at the end of august. i surely hope so, as we've invited 68 adults and 30 kids for a party! that seems to be a good driver for us to keep the nose to the grindstone and finish. we've been lucky to have july off from work as well.

husband has a completely amazing capacity for work. he works until well after dark every evening. i feel a little ashamed of myself for the time i spend at the computer, but since i've been doing a bit of work this month on a consulting project, i try not to feel too badly about it. much of the work that he's doing i'm not really so much help with anyway--i managed to cut myself cooking on saturday (rather badly--it wouldn't stop bleeding for an alarmingly long time) and then again on sunday when i was working with the tiles--so imagine me near a saw! not good!

* * *

on another note, i devoured a wonderful little book over the past 24 hours (that also kept me away from the computer). mohsin hamid's the reluctant fundamentalist. it's an extremely well-written and compelling exploration of how someone seemingly "integrated" (there's lots of talk of integration in the danish press) into western society can come to reject it. it's evenly and intelligently written, with virtually no reference to religion. this, for me, makes the arguments all that more powerful--the cultural forces at work on people, pulling them in opposite directions. it captured as well the zeitgeist after september 11 and how people on both sides reacted. a very powerful little book that i highly recommend.

Monday, July 28, 2008

monday resolutions

this week i shall:
  1. really finish that VAT report and get it submitted.
  2. do some designs for my gocco swap. (i'm so excited about this! yippee!!)
  3. paint the knobs of my købmandsdisk enamel red.
  4. paint a big helleristning of a viking ship on the side of the købmandsdisk.
  5. finish insulating the writing house so the walls can be finished (even tho' i hate getting up on a ladder due to my extreme clumsiness).
  6. order a pretty stove ventilator that looks like a lamp and which has the lyrical name "grace."
  7. buy tickets to oslo.
  8. take my bike instead of the car.
this week i shall not:
  1. spend too much time in front of this computer (as beautiful as it is).
  2. sit indoors while the sun is shining.
  3. cut myself while preparing dinner.
  4. cut myself while cutting apart tiles.
  5. forget to water the roses in the upper garden!
  6. tell sabin "later" when she asks to draw, read, play pictochat on the DS, bake something, have an ice cream, etc.
  7. let the laundry pile up.
  8. go anywhere without my camera.
what does your week bring?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

and we have a winner!

thank you all for playing along on my first RAK. i was a little worried for awhile because it seemed that nobody was going to get it right, but then tangobaby got it right on the nose. clearly this girl shares not only my name and that dream mall, but my taste in antiques as well! it was those gorgeous toys...specifically the little military airplane one and a robot one that doesn't really show in this picture.

and the turmac tobacco box. what with meeting my husband in macedonia and spending any number of great holidays in turkey, i can't believe i didn't buy it when i was there!

and i have, thus far, restrained from going back and getting them. but perhaps this week. tangobaby, i'll pop something in the mail to you tomorrow! :-)  

hope everyone had a fantastic weekend and that the sun was shining where you are like it was here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

on accents and having one

last night, we went out together with some people from my husband's old department. we went on a dinner cruise on the saga fjord, which cruises from roskilde on the roskilde fjord. the wife of one of my husband's former employees had a heavy accent.

ASIDE:  quick explanation. my husband was, until recently, a department manager in a large danish company. his dept. was responsible for internal distribution of all post and packages and such within this company--which has many locations in denmark and around the world. last year, he had the guts to suggest that because what his dept. did wasn't core business, it should be outsourced to someone whose core business it was. he was, in the end, the only one of 47 people who were without a job. all of the others were either guaranteed a transfer to the outsourcing company or another job within the original company. this was a VERY gutsy move and one that not many people would do. we think he's cool for having such guts. evidentally, the company does too because he has been offered another, more exciting job now. we hope he's not going to be sent around as the dark lord of outsourcing, but, this is clearly the stuff of a whole 'nother posting and as usual, i digress...

back to the point of my story...for a small country (it's about the size of wisconsin) and a minor language (only 5 million danes), denmark has a lot of accents. my danish being what it is, i can HEAR the accent, but not necessarily place it. sometimes i hear accents (bornholm comes to mind), where i think, "hey, if they're allowed to speak danish, i should be too." and i, of course, am allowed, but you know what i mean.

the accent i have in danish, and i DO have an accent, luckily, isn't necessarily pegged as an american accent. this is good, because i've heard heavy american accents in danish and they are not good. i think because of my studying russian, people tend to think i'm some kind of eastern european from my accent in danish. that's ok with me.

anyway, this woman had a serious accent and although i could get the gist of what she said, it wasn't necessarily easy (for me). turned out she was from somewhere in jutland--which is the bit of denmark that's attached to germany (as opposed to the big island--sjælland--that i live on). they have a number of pronounced accents over there.

and this, combined with iris' comment on my reference to an "iowa accent," got me thinking about accents... 

tom brokaw, longtime NBC evening news anchor, is from a town not far from where i grew up, in the same county even. thus, we always claimed, mostly because of him, not to have an accent. we spoke (in our ears and our opinion) neutral, american english (not realizing, in our naivete, that his original accent had surely been beaten out of tom by a combination of accent coaches and a desire to flee from his roots). 

now, when i go back, i realize how WRONG that was. there is a heavy accent there. it manifests itself in words like: package--packeege, garbage--garbeege, tuesday--tuesdee.  as in, "if the packeege comes on tuesdee, don't throw it in the garbeege." and phrases like "ya darn tootin'," which isn't just something coen brothers made up for fargo. people really SAY that.

the simple fact is, we ALL have an accent. some are more intelligible than others. some sound better than others. there's something charming about a french accent and something distinctly uncharming about a danish one. some accents make you sound smarter and some dumber. some make you seem exotic and some make you seem like a hillbilly. but, we ALL have an accent. and it's ok. we should. it's part of what makes us who we are.

Friday, July 25, 2008

filching friday: yellow lensbabies

tracey on prickly pear bloom has been having a yellow week. although i didn't play along all week (having only stumbled onto it today), i thought i'd post the yellows i took yesterday as i experimented with my new lensbaby and a +4 macro. 

all pix from my own garden...

the original lensbaby is a super fun lens which forced me off "automatic" and i actually really learned a lot about my camera!

friday fun

it was indeed a Summer of Fun for sabin in the US with her cousins owen and finn.  she got home monday and although she seems to be suffering from some withdrawal from all of the fun activities which renders her a wee bit crabby, we are happy to have her home.

her vocabulary has improved greatly and while she didn't exactly acquire an iowa accent, she's clearly much, much more comfortable in english. 

i had some fun lomo-izing some of the Summer of Fun pictures on ...

happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

a new obsession!

took this picture this afternoon of my flea market purchase the other day. the zinc watering can, which looks marvelous, leaked like a sieve, so i planted a hydrangea in it.

then, i went here and i lomo-ized it. i think i'm in love. and you can dump them straight into your flickr! 

how totally cool is that?!?!?!

the lego factor

since there are zoning rules in denmark about how much of your property the main house can take up (20% in our case), we weren't able to build on as much as we would have liked. however, you can use 25% of your property for buildings in general. we took this seriously. we have built a greenhouse (which doesn't count in the 25%, as it's under 10 square meters).

we have my writing playhouse and
a shed for lawn mower and firewood (on the right here).

husband's workshop
and another shot of the storage shed on the left in this picture.
still to come (behind the writing playhouse) is a sauna.

this adds up to quite a collection of buildings. there will be five plus a roof on the other side of the house for parking bicycles under when it's all finished.  this got me thinking. and i've come to the conclusion that it's all because of these....

lego, as we know, is a danish company. the name comes from the danish words lege godt--play well. my dear husband, as a good little scandinavian child (whose father was an architect to boot), grew up playing with lego, just as our daughter is doing. i didn't really grow up with lego (i had a pony, after all), tho' i knew what it was. but, i think it has a marked effect on the psyche. you build small buildings, you arrange them, often around a square green lego base, and then play.

it dawned on me as i looked out the addition yesterday that husband is assembling three small buildings around a square base (decking). he is strategically placing other small buildings around the square of the property. he's playing with lego in adult size. it seems that play in childhood really does prepare you for life. i'm just relieved he played with lego and not with matches. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the expanse of possibility

yesterday, this space was opened up right beside my desk. it's the former end of our house, now open onto the new room (which is still in a state of extreme unfinishedness). there were four windows in this space until yesterday, when husband took them away to reuse them in his workshop that's taking shape in the garden. although there were four large windows here, the difference it makes that they and all of their framing are now gone is simply amazing.  it's so open and light and expansive now and although it's unfinished, it's amazing to be able to look at the room below and out onto the back garden.

there will be a frame around this opening so that it feels finished , but it will remain open and lovely like this--no new windows or shutters or anything will go in. 

i feel a thrill of excitement at the possibilities it opens up. we do want to be able to have a shade of sorts in this space, so that we can close it for privacy--it is, after all, our bedroom here upstairs and will be the dining room in the addition below. our desks are at each end of the room right now and although my computer and creative space will move into the writing house in the garden, there will still be a desk here on each side.

so, i'm sketching and daydreaming about making a fabric shade that looks good from both sides. so many influences are tumbling in my head and i'm trying to sketch them all out, to get an idea of which direction to go. i'm pondering a natural linen base for the shade and color palettes for each side--blues and greens for the bedroom and reds and oranges for the dining room below. although i'm currently obsessed with helleristninger (nordic petroglyphs), i'm going to try to do something else. a sort of a modern quilt-feel with perhaps shades of turkish influence. i'll share some sketches and maybe even fabric swatches soon.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

she's not in kansas (or iowa) anymore!

this little face came home yesterday all by herself on SK944 ORD-CPH. she immediately turned on her computer and started watching the kids' shows she had missed out on while she was gone on the DR website. her clock is topsy turvy and she's hungry and sleepy at the wrong times, but we are SOOoooo happy to have her home!

along with her suitcase full of fun electronics that make mommy's heart race! and the sun is shining! what more could one ask?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

flea market fabulosity

these are some of the fabulous pictures (not that my pix are fabulous, it's the STUFF i mean) i took at the big "blue market" near haslev today (janni, isn't that kinda close to you?), where i went with my friend maj. pix tomorrow of the stuff i bought. i didn't buy any of this, tho' there are two things below that i'd like to go back for. guess correctly which they are and leave your guess in a comment and i will send you something fun via snail mail (my first RAK!! fun!!!). next sunday, i'll tally up the right answers and let you know if you've won and need to supply me with your snail mail address.  everyone who guesses correctly will get something fun! 

Saturday, July 19, 2008

recurring dreams

my dream posting from the other day prompted an email exchange with my cousin about all kinds of dreams. we got on the subject of recurring dreams.  as i said in the previous posting, i have more of a recurring location (that giant and partially abandoned mall) in my dreams, but there are a number of recurring dreams i've had over the years.

in high school, i played annie oakley in annie get your gun. for years afterwards (and now it's been 24 years), i have dreamed that i had to perform it again with no rehearsal...just jumping into costume and going directly onstage. it is always a bit rusty at first, but then i warm into it and do ok. "anything you can do, i can do better..." 

i've had some pageant-related dreams for years after my pageant phase as well--that as recently as in the past couple of months. they usually involve embarassment over suddenly having to wear a swimsuit and high heels in public.

apparently my recurring dreams are related to being onstage. that's a bit weird.

my cousin's dreams are work-related. she spends lots of time on cruise ships and has lots of dreams about them. like me, she also has flying-related dreams where the plane crashes (and she is as unworried about it as i am), but where she's usually in the cockpit. i'm never in the cockpit in my plane crash dreams.

she and i were both denied comic books as children on the grounds that they were a waste of time and money and had to illicitly read them at other people's houses. she still has dreams about that. i must have less guilt over it, as that topic doesn't show up in my dreams.

talking to her made me remember that i used to have a recurring dream of losing my teeth during college and usually i was somewhere with her father, my uncle red, at the time. he was a veterinarian, not a dentist, so i'm not sure what sense that made, but then, dreams don't always make sense.

the person who was my best friend through most of high school, but who turned on me at the end for some reason still unknown to me and called me "miss king bitch shit" while we decorated for our graduation, showed up as a recurring figure in my dreams for years. she was never a central figure in the dream, nor even someone i interacted with, she would just be there in every dream, standing somewhere on the sidelines. i got so i even looked for her. but she hasn't been there for years, so i must have gotten over it.

i have a lot of dreams where i'm precariously balancing beside some yucky water of some sort. i almost always fall into it and it's thick and sludgy and hard to trudge through, but strangely never as bad as i feared it would be. my cousin has a similar dream and thinks it's when she's not getting enough exercise. mine is no doubt that too and it simply never occurred to me! either that, or i feel i'm on the verge of a problem and that it won't be as bad as i fear.

in any case, it's fascinating thinking about dreams and what they mean. i'm still convinced i'm living a parallel life over there.

Friday, July 18, 2008

failed to filch friday

it's a bit cloudy and rainy and even a little chilly and i wasn't feeling very inspired on a friday. so naturally, i went looking for something to filch.

instead of filching, i found something inspiring! and it involves using my gocco!

i'm going to participate in a gocco swap initiated by clothpaperstring. how cool is that?

you make 4-6 notecards and envelopes and send to those who are on your swap team! i'm so excited! i've not really tried this aspect of the blogosphere as of yet, but i think it's gonna be fun! there's still time to sign up 'til july 21, so if you have access to a gocco, go for it! :-)

Thursday, July 17, 2008


just because this was getting a bit wordy...

on working and motherhood

one reads constantly in the newspaper and in magazines, in books and of course all over the blogosphere about mothers stressed out from trying to have it all. there seems to be a whole movement of educated moms who are opting out of the workforce to stay at home with their kids. these übermoms seem to look down on those moms who choose to remain on a career track, just as working women once looked down on stay-at-home moms. it seems that position has shifted, at least in North America, if not quite yet here in Denmark (where the cost of living reality mandates a 2-income household). i've heard some whispers of it coming from the other side of the sound in Sweden and the article from atlantic monthly that i linked above actually does reference Sweden.

simply the whole need people seem to have (especially on scrapbooking blogs) to declare what kind of mom they are with a series of letters WHOSM, MOUWSH, MWHDOH or whatever they are, is but a symptom of it (*magpie, please please don't take offense, i'm not targeting you here, it's everywhere on the 'net). what is really wrong with being a mom and having a fulfilling career? why has it come to a point where we feel we should apologize for that?

my daughter is 7 and i have felt, even since the very beginning, where she was born 10 weeks early and we lost her twin sister when i became gravely ill with the first case of listeriosis in denmark in 25 years, that i would be so much more for her as a mother if i devoted some of my brain to work on a regular basis.

for 3 and a half years, i had a rather high-powered and stressful job. and by stress i mean real stress, not whiney newspaper, oh-goodness-call-my-coach-because-i-can't-figure-out-how-to- live-my-life stress. like having way too many tasks and not enough resources (people-wise or time-wise) to do them all kind of stress. like not having time to pee during the day kind of stress. but, i really loved so many things about the job. especially that i traveled a good 150 days last year. all over the world.  

through it all, i wasn't a perfect mom, but my daughter, who grew from a 4-year-old to an amazing, smart and strong 7-year-old, thrived. i took her with me when i could (she got to go to manila four times and singapore once in three years), a result of which she is a total hotel snob. she was accustomed to my being away, as she hadn't ever really known any different (in my previous job, i was in the US at least one week a month). 

yes, i bought my way back into our home after each trip, bringing her something from each location--an olympic pencil case from beijing, some little beaded animals from cape town, a gap sweatshirt from london or tokyo, a totally cool lunchbox from busan. trying to teach her along the way that having something unique that not everyone else has (arguably this isn't true of gap sweatshirts, but since there's no gap in DK, it is here) is something to be valued. and teaching her that travel is to be valued.

the hard part of my previous job wasn't the travel, it was when i was in the office. it was mandated that one had to be there 8:30-5. this meant that with my hour-long train ride each way, i could never be the one to pick her up and i was rarely the one making dinner. many days i didn't get home in time to eat dinner with her and my husband. i was usually home by bedtime, so i could read to her, but it admittedly wasn't enough time together.

it made us feel like we couldn't waste our weekends and that was stressful. i would feel a bit panicked if all that laundry wasn't done on sunday evening, not really knowing how to face the week without it in order. but, for the most part, it all hung together and the happy moments far outweighed the unhappy ones.

now, i'm in the luxurious position of having a great job that i love, traveling (less than before, but still enough for me to feel happy), being able to work mostly at home, so that i am here to hear about sabin's day and pick her up after school and make dinner together with her (got my new stove installed this week!). so, it is possible to "have it all," but sometimes you have to put in the hard work for a time to put yourself in a position for it--to gain a reputation that will allow you the luxury of being able to design such a solution.

the hard work i put in on the career front also enabled me to raise a confident little girl who fearlessly got on a transatlantic flight by herself 3 weeks ago and will get on one again to come home this sunday. so we both benefitted from my pursuit of a career. would she be as worldly had i been a stay-at-home mom? no way. might she read a little better and speak english with less of a danish accent? probably. but that will come and she's by no means behind. am i better for her during the time we spend together because i have time away from her? without a doubt! do i feel guilty about the choices i've made? not even a little bit.

we all make choices in the way we live our lives and you just have to be at peace with the ones you've made. i fear there are an awful lot of people out there who aren't and are spending an awful lot of time justifying to themselves and others and condemning others' choices to feel better about their own.  oh well, wouldn't it be boring if we were all exactly the same?

i really recommend you read the atlantic article if you're interested in thinking more about this subject.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

all's well that ends well

last sunday, there was a strange vehicle parked in front of our house for a half an hour or so. it was strange because it had UK plates and i noticed it because i thought i saw a baby left alone in the vehicle and saw that the steering wheel was on the "wrong" side. (i know some of you consider "our" side to be the wrong side, but that's the stuff of another posting.) i realized quickly that there was a mom in the little silver SUV with the baby, so it wasn't a baby left alone, and i didn't really think any more about it.

i also heard our neighbor speaking english to someone. she's been having some landscaping work done in her garden and has had a number of different consultations with landscape architects and the like, so i didn't really think anything of it. 

she came by a little bit later and asked us if we'd seen the man she was talking to and whether we thought he looked trustworthy. we hadn't really seen him or paid that much attention, so we couldn't really say. she said he had offered to do some paving in her front yard for a very good price, but she didn't know what to think. she didn't really have the money for it and although it was just a smidge over half the price of what the other part of her garden had cost, she didn't think she would take him up on it.

we asked her if she'd received a written offer with all of the details outlined. she said she hadn't, but would ask for that before deciding. so, on monday morning at about 11, we were a little surprised to see a big yellow lorry pull up outside her house and 3 men jump down and get right to work tearing up her old paving slabs.

our neighbor ran out (luckily she happened to be home) and asked them what they were doing and demanded they stop, because she hadn't agreed to anything! the SUV guy pulled up and ended up giving an even better offer and sort of guilting her into the whole thing, as well as giving her a sort of written work order, so the work proceeded.

on monday, that 3-man team worked until nearly 10 p.m., doing all the hard work of tearing up old paving stones and throwing them into the lorry, digging and moving gravel and sand. all of it by hand, without gloves and without proper footwear and with worn-out looking equipment. all of them had extremely worn out shoes and clothing and two of the men looked quite old to be doing such physically-demanding work. none of them had that many of their original teeth left. in short, they were an extremely hard-working but sorry lot.

our neighbor has an extremely soft heart and this really began to bother her. she started to develop a bad feeling about the whole thing in the pit of her stomach. 

but, it wasn't until around 6 p.m. yesterday that that bad feeling proved true. suddenly, the young man came to the door and started in on some sob story as to how he needed her to pay him half of the money for the project, in cash, so that he could get the supplies to finish it the next day. 

that was never part of the original deal and when she said she couldn't possibly lay her hands on that cash at that time of day when the banks were closed, he got his boss on the phone. the ever-so-nice scottish gentleman from the silver SUV. he stopped being nice and lit into our neighbor, accusing her of all sort of totally absurd and ridiculous things...that she was a liar and wanted to cheat him. all of the accusations perfectly reflected what HE was doing to her! and because she is a kind and soft-hearted person, it was totally bewildering and very disturbing.

she came over and asked to talk to us about the whole thing. we talked it through with her. in the end, i made some dinner and we took it over and ate it together with her and stayed, talking the whole case through until nearly midnight. she clearly needed to talk it through.

we worked through all of the worst case scenarios. it was difficult to see what the trick was that this scottish guy is pulling. the guys, after all, were doing the work. our main thought was that he would get the guys to ask for half the money, then show up the next day and demand the whole amount, claiming to know nothing about his men having been paid.

the man completely refused to give a real name (he literally had so little imagination that he claimed his name was john smith, but we heard the workmen call him benny). after a little online research, i discovered that the phone numbers on the "invoice/offer" paper were prepaid phone card numbers and as such had no personal information. the company name on the paper doesn't exist. except for the fact that work is actually being done (and well, in actual fact), it would seem to be utterly and completely a scam.

we wondered if the three would show up this morning to finish the job. they did. and our neighbor agreed to pay the whole amount, in cash, to the workmen, once the job was finished. they said they'd be finished by noon. we agreed with our neighbor to come and witness the payment (since Mr. SUV also refused to provide a receipt), so that if he should claim he wasn't paid, there would be witnesses. we even enlisted our neighbors from the other side as witnesses--they're older and would look very good on the witness stand, should it ever come to that.

they weren't finished until almost dinner time. and we went over and witnessed the payment. our neighbor was able to convince the youngest of the workmen (who seemed to be in charge), to write, "paid in full" on the offer she had been given by Mr. SUV. she has some very well-done new paving in her front yard, at half the price it would normally cost and she has learned a valuable lesson about listening to that bad feeling in the pit of her stomach.

and, i think we foiled whatever scam Mr. SUV was trying to pull, tho' i'm still not clear what it was. i do pity anyone else who gives this man business, tho'. it's an awfully strange way to do business...leaving your wife and baby in the car while you go door to door in a foreign country and bully people into work they're not really sure they want done.

on the bright side, however, it brought us closer to our neighbor, who is really a very nice, very good-hearted person. we were happy to be there for her the past couple of days. so it's true what they say, all's well that ends well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

lemon tree very pretty...

i'm not sure how it happened, but today, i was standing at the nursery, which in danish is called planteskole--"plant school" (which i find very charming) where i had actually gone to buy a lemon tree. i was thinking that the lemon tree i already have, which is blooming its little heart out, but never produces any lemons, needed a friend lemon tree. to commune and perhaps cross-pollinate with. 

but strangely, i found myself wandering the rose aisles. i think i may have mentioned here before that i'm not that fond of roses. i have even been heard to loudly declare that i don't like them at all. they're all spiky and pokey. they slyly try to lure you in with their lovely scent and appearance and then stick you as soon as they get the chance. 

but that was before i met:

paul cézanne

and ms. nostalgie

and ms. friesia

oh, yes, and ms. hanne

they all just begged to come home with me. and they even invited along their friend mr. westerland, but i forgot to take a picture of him. he's a bit of a climber. i think this might be tangobaby's fault. but i did get that lemon tree and the old lemon tree seems very grateful. they're just hanging out in the greenhouse, filling it with the lovely scent of their blossoms.

parallel lives

i have this feeling that i have a whole 'nother life going on in my dreams. like a parallel life to this one, featuring many of the same cast of characters, but in another setting completely. i say this because that setting is so often the same. and i'm often doing things that i do in my waking life as well. for example, i seem to spend a lot of time on airplanes in both places, tho' in my waking life the wings aren't sheared off as often as they are in my dreams.

there is especially one recurring location (other than an airplane) in my dream universe. and i hate to say it, but it's an enormous mall. and the parking structure of this mall, which is massive, has many stories and is very catacomb-like, figures rather heavily as well.

i realize it no doubt says a lot about me that my dream life takes place in a mall. (and that what it says may not be good.) but despite this, there is surprisingly little shopping going on there. there are, however, quite a lot of restaurants at this mall. maybe i go to bed hungry. or i eat dinner too late at night.

but the catacomb-like parking structure is very often the scene of the action. i'm either trying to find someone or someone is chasing me. the chasing thing hasn't happened much lately, so i must be more at ease in my waking life. there also used to be a lot more falling elevators than there is now.

many parts of the mall are totally deserted and dimly lit by a sort of mysterious blue lighting. they are always familiar to me and i can always find my way through these abandoned passages. often, i'm showing someone else the way through them. once in awhile in those otherwise abandoned areas, there's a still-open store full of quirky gifts--like spencer gifts in the US or that gadget store that used to be on Michigan Ave. close to (or maybe even part of) the Tribune building, but which i cannot for the life of me remember the name of at the moment (something with a german-sounding name?). 

in my dream life, i can fly, which is why i don't worry that much when the wings are sheared off the plane on approach for landing. the worst that happens is that my knees get scraped when some of the side of the plane is scraped back. and once, as i crawled out the hole left in the plane by an especially rough landing, i was rather surprised to discover that i was wearing roller blades. luckily, it all happened near that wonderful old-fashioned-style diner along I-80 before you get to the Quad Cities, so we could go get a coffee and a milkshake.

but now, it's late at night and my dream life awaits.

Monday, July 14, 2008

painting time is thinking time

i continue to paint the big drawer thingie (købmandsdisk--danish just has a better word for it!) in the kitchen and the slow, methodical work lends itself to thinking and flights of fancy. i think i'll be a bit sad when it's finished (which is soon) because i actually feel that the repetitive, not particularly creative act of brushing creamy white paint on wood has awakened inspiration within me at last. 

so many ideas are coming to me--writing ideas (something fun on great restaurants in out-of-the way places for scanorama), ideas for starting a creative "support group," so i have people to do creative stuff with (this means you, janni!), home decor (i'm thinking petroglyphs) and some ideas for more gocco notebooks (also thinking petroglyphs), new earrings, and yes, even scrapping! i printed a whole lot of pictures last night and made what i can only characterize as a breakthrough scrap page. (not because it was particularly good, but mostly because it's the first one i've made in months, despite continuing to buy supplies like there's no tomorrow.)

and although the desk looks a mess, it's just the kind of mess that i've been longing for...

ideas i had ages ago are returning to me...stamping cavafy's ithaca on the stairs is one of them. i'm also getting new ideas...a treasure map painting on a wall in the garden. small colorful tea-light holders hung all over the garden. bright print fabric pillows and cushions and tablecloths. 

all these months of gathering bits of inspiration and tacking them to the board beside my desk, seeking inspiration online and in magazine and books is finally paying off. i just had to give myself time to let the ideas gel.

if only a great name for my etsy shop would come to me, that's currently the obstacle that's stopping me on that front. perhaps it will tomorrow when i finish up the painting.

or perhaps it's all just paint fumes...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

i totally love...

because i love lists most of all, a list of things i love right now, at this very moment:

1. this picture with a bee in midflight next to the most gorgeous pink frilly poppy:

2.  this beautiful (and now treated) oak floor in the kitchen:

3.  that feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing you did it yourself (together with husband, who actually did most of the work).

4.  sitting outside in the sunshine with a cup of tea and the sunday paper.

5.  lensbabies - fun lenses for my Nikon that will give me sweet lomo effects!

6.  this picture:

7.  and this one:

8.  that Sabin comes home in one week!

9. the new lines from cosmo cricket!

10. weeding in the garden.