Wednesday, March 31, 2010

there's no place like...

as i was packing up the bookshelves in the blue room, i took a moment to arrange these blocks against the beloved blue background. they're letterpress blocks from my dad's letterpress (why didn't i learn how to operate that when i had the chance?). i think they once assembled to spell the name of some or other horse that i had, and i've carried them around the world with me more than once. they're precious and i wouldn't want to be without them, even if they are occasionally jumbled into a box and not used.

moving brings on such mixed feelings. i'm excited and looking forward to the new house and all that we're going to do it to transform it into the house we'd like it to be. i'm going to love having our own lake and a lawn big enough to play football on (not that i want to do that, but knowing that i could is a good thing). space for a horse and chickens and maybe a truffling pig or two, oh and lambs. i'm so looking forward to all of that.

but i've loved this house too and we did so much to it to make it our own and give it our character and leave our mark on it. when we moved in, it was like stepping into a 70s time warp, even the garden looked like some evergreen-covered churchyard, full of low bushes that even looked totally seventies. we leave it transformed and we will miss it.

but as i said when i posted this picture on flickr the other day, we are not our house and we are able to make a home wherever we go. because the things that make a home are all of the things, packed with memory and meaning, that we take with us. even if it is a royal pain packing them all up.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

a weaver of words

tonight was the final lesson of my weaving class. the timing is good, as i'm about to move to the other side of the country and start a new job (not necessarily in that order) and i wouldn't have been able to continue anyway. i think the classes were a wonderful introduction to weaving and they were even more than i hoped they would be. i feel very fortunate to have gotten my start with such a good teacher. i had to take one last wander around the little house where the weaving association has its looms. if i counted correctly, there are 19 looms there of varying sizes. here are a few of them:

a loom just like the one i bought.
i've taken loads of pictures of this loom because it's like the one that i bought. i'm a bit worried since i've never seen mine when it's put together. i'm sure all of the pieces are there, but there are an awful lot of them and it looks really, really complicated.

large loom without a project
final set-up before beginning.
setting up the loom is actually the most time-consuming part. it's complicated and requires a level of gymnastics, climbing in and out of the loom itself, before it's ready. i'm already pondering what project i want to be the first on my own loom when we get it set up sometime in the late summer/early fall.
the 7 different 20cm x 20cm patterns that i did during the lessons
i finished my piece last week and took it off the loom then. in the end i finished 7 test patches of 6 different patterns. the last one is really only a half, as i came to the end of the warp i had on the loom. it was a marvelous exercise to do it this way, as i learned about changing the various configurations of the pedals (which may not be the right term - i'm learning this in danish, so i don't know any of the english terms!) to get different patterns and i can see a big improvement from the first to the last of the pieces, as i grew more comfortable with the loom and how tight or loose things needed to be. using three colors, i learned a lot about how the colors interact. i've cut them apart and i've got them in pockets with their patterns in my own weaving notebook, which is a story that's just beginning to be written. 'til now, i've been mostly a weaver of words, but i hope to become a real weaver as well.

i will miss the lessons and the people. but i will find a new vævkreds, as it's called in danish. i'll live close enough to the museum in randbøldal to be able to join the lovely ladies there, which seems fitting since it's where i first discovered weaving last autumn.

but another very good thing has come out of my weaving...i get to photograph one of my teacher's beautiful rugs for the july issue of the british magazine home & garden on thursday. and i'm so excited! i hope the sun shines so that we have good light!

Monday, March 29, 2010

coloring eggs

i'd love to say we used natural dyes, but i'm afraid it was traditional paas and crayons all the way. this was our third batch this year. and we'll probably do at least one more. luckily we like egg salad.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

getting out of the irritation zone

i've been a total crab all day. a regular bearcat, as my dad used to say when i was a lazy teenager, lurking around the house like a threatening storm. it started when i lost all hope for humanity watching the extreme display of mediocrity and crimes against superlatives that is the danish X-factor, a singing talent program. and i use the word "talent" loosely. as a parent, you have many battles to fight and so you have to choose them carefully. in the interest of not blocking the child out of all schoolyard conversations next week, we let her watch the finale. and in the interest of being together as a family, we watched it with her. and i became increasingly irritated and crabby. it's everything to do with the chabuduo thing that i talked about recently. i was so irritated at myself that i let her watch it and waste two hours of all of our lives - that's 6 hours that we'll never have back. why didn't we use the opportunity to talk about quality and talent and how if everything is "the best ever" or "iconic" or "diva-esque," then nothing is. sigh.

on top of it, this morning, in my mailbox, some forwarded right wing vitriol from a random stranger was awaiting me. and although it seemed like spam, it actually wasn't. and it further irritated me to think that this person who apparently knows my mother, but whom i have never met,  thought i would enjoy such a thing. and although i knew it didn't deserve my energy, i stewed about it all day. in fact, it pretty much spoiled the majority of my day.

but then, the tide began to turn. i had changed all of my statuses to something about how crabby i was feeling. my sister IMed me to suggest that tequila might help. and i briefly considered it, but it was a bit early for that. she also suggested that spreading the crabbiness around on twitter, FB and gmail probably wasn't that helpful. then i got a message that heather has a fabulous free shipping offer going on in her shop. and might have indulged in some new tea towels to cheer myself up. but only because i had just ironed all the old ones and noticed how stained some of them were getting.

then, my sister told me about her wild weekend back in that little town where we grew up. and it involved old milwaukee lights at the local bar with a few classmates who stayed there - one of which had a husband so kind, he delivered $40 cash to her at the bar because he wasn't sure she had enough money with her for the evening's festivities.  then there was a round of drinks bought by the mayor, who turned out to be a bit smarmy (it's a very small town and mayor is surely a thankless job). then some cute young local boys showed up and shots of tequila appeared on the table. then someone suggested that it was time to go check the cattle (as one does), so everyone picked up their drinks, wandered out to the nearest pickup truck and piled in. my sister said that if she was going to check cattle, she would need one of those long rubber gloves that goes all the way up to your armpit. and someone promptly produced one. which she put on. cattle were checked, but unfortunately, the pickup, perhaps weighed down by 8 people having piled into it, got stuck in a creek. some people went to get a "mulie" which my sister described as a cross between a four-wheeler and a golf cart. and another person called a very drunk guy who had a tractor, which came and pulled the pickup out. and some mouthy high schoolers showed up in the middle of the field, looking for a party. as one does. however, they brought fresh supplies of alcohol, which was good, because everyone was losing their buzz by that point. girls squatted and peed in the weeds. and the night ended with my sister covered in mud from head to toe. she got home and true to the the old family rule that applies to her - no pot in the living room - sat down at the kitchen table with mom and proceeded to regale her with tales of the evening. while mom cleaned the mud off her fancy, expensive danish leather boots.

and i have to say that story cheered me right up. because how you can you not smile at that? at the very least, it takes you back to high school and at most, you're grateful that you didn't stay there where that would be a typical saturday night every week.

and then, we had a little fire out on the terrace and roasted some marshmallows and all was again right with the world.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

tilting at windmills

now THAT's a windmill!

we drove past this windmill yesterday and i fell in love. i believe i've mentioned before how much i want to live in one. i'll bet we could get this one for a song since it's a bit of a fixer-upper. hmm, i wonder whether our architect would approve the purchase?

Friday, March 26, 2010

if i were...

kimberly from numinosity did a beautiful list on her blog and i just had to give it a whirl myself, since it's friday and i love lists...

if i were a month i’d be march

if i were a day i’d be thursday

if i were a time of day i’d be 11:30 p.m.

if i were a font i’d be bulky refuse

if i were a sea animal i’d be a stingray

if i were a direction i’d be southwest

if i were a piece of furniture i’d be full of drawers

if i were a liquid i’d be gin (high quality gin)

if i were a gemstone i’d be turquoise

if i were a tree i’d be an evergreen

if i were a tool i’d be a hammer

if i were a flower i’d be a lemon blossom

if i were an element of weather i’d be a hurricane

if i were a musical instument i’d be a saxophone

if i were a color i’d be red

if i were an emotion i’d be intense

if i were a fruit i’d be a blueberry

if i were a sound i’d be loud

if i were an element i’d be uranium

if i were a car i’d be a porsche 911

if i were a food i’d be sushi

if i were a place i’d be ephesus

if i were material i’d be linen

if i were a taste i’d be chili

if i were a scent i’d be clary sage

if i were a body part i’d be an eye

if i were a song i’d be diamonds on the soles of her shoes by paul simon

if i were a bird i’d be a nightengale

if i were a gift i’d be handmade

if i were a city i’d be moscow

if i were a door i’d be unlocked

if i were a pair of shoes i’d be converse all stars

if i were a poem i’d be ithaca by cavafy

* * *

be sure to check out kimberly's list and if you were all these things, who would you be?
this was a really interesting exercise and i'm amazed how intuitively the answers sprang into my head.
come on, you know you want to try it. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

scenes from an atelier: by sabin, age 9

i turned sabin loose with the cameras at my weaving teacher's atelier this afternoon and these were the results...

pencils await inspiration to strike.
a peek through a plant at the beautiful, unique, fish-laden woven window panels.
jewel-toned materials await their chance to be used.
wool in waiting.

i'm just blown away by the child's natural eye for composition. these photos were all taken with the nikon D60, but she took quite a few with the nikon D300 as well, tho' at first she complained that it was too heavy. afterwards, she said, "mom, now i like the "big camera" best and it doesn't even seem heavy anymore."

more about paul's beautiful works in the coming days...i have to process both my photos and my thoughts about his unique and wonderful work.

true story*

83:365 "A man is ever apt to contemplate himself out of all proportion to his surroundings."  ~Christina G. Rossetti
"i took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. i am. i am. i am." - sylvia plath
miscellaneous thoughts to confirm to myself that i exist:

~ best neologism i've heard in the past week: powerpointless

~ coolest trivial fact: chinese is a high context language - there are no cases, no gender, no tenses, no singular or plural, no active or passive, there is just what's there in the here and now. we could probably learn something deep and profound from that. if we weren't so trapped inside of our own low context language.

~ if we did, it would bring new meaning to the phrase, "you had to be there."

~ i finished my knitted scarf (hence the photo above).

~ i grow worse at self-portraits in the mirror instead of better.

~ "governance" is the word of the moment in corporate reorgs today.

~ those who've been on facebook in the past few hours will understand my title.

~ i had to upload a bunch of pix to flickr today that i wouldn't otherwise have uploaded, thanks to blogger's new photo uploader "improvements." i fear they moved those people who worked on buzz over to the blogger team. and it doesn't bode well. can you say rejects from windows vista development?

~ on the other hand, i'm sure the good folks at blogger will fix it and the new photo uploader will be fabulous and that i won't have to manually resize to 800 anymore. (note to blogger: this is a hint.)

~ my new contacts are no longer making me sick, but i can't see anything through them. i haven't decided whether this is a bad thing or not.

~ harmony before honesty? i don't think that would work for me.

~ i cannot believe that my sister has traded in her iPhone for a blackberry. that's an #epicfail by AT&T, as she did it because the coverage in eastern iowa is rubbish. but i still say she's out of the will (thanks for that, liz).

~ oops, this isn't twitter, so i guess the hash tags aren't so effective.

~ however, even an iPhone with no coverage is still far superior to any other phone. because of that hipstamatic photo app mostly. and the sexiness factor.

~ i'm a little worried about husband, he just signed up for his 25-year reunion on facebook. we didn't even know he knew he was on facebook (my sister and i created a profile for him awhile ago because sabin needed more friends for her pets in pet society).

~ i hope my new job description will specify "unlimited thinking" like husband's does. because i can totally do that. true story.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

chabuduo is not good enough

dreamy orchids promote the pondering of ponderable thoughts.
on a lazy sunday afternoon, we watched some crap t.v. shows (as one does) where four "known" (kendt) danes with nothing visibly in common each take turns making dinner at their house and entertaining the other three. then, they rate one another and one of them "wins" 10,000 kroner for their favorite charity. and it struck me, as they gave one another ratings of 8 and 9 for what appeared to be quite ordinary food that likely at most deserved a 5 or 6 and referred to one another as "icons" in their fields, when none of them are even remotely approaching icon status, that reality television is wrecking the language(s) (all of them). it's evident in the talent shows as well, where the judges tell everyone they're brilliant and the best they've seen or heard, when they most decidedly were not and that was evident for all to see and hear.

what is this culture of politeness that's driving this? are we really so afraid to call a spade a spade? and what does it do to words like "icon" that they are applied to only marginally famous, deeply insecure people who can't cook or set a proper table? it strips them of meaning is what it does.

yesterday, i learned about a chinese word - chabuduo - which means "almost there" or "good enough." since i had a long drive, i began to speculate as to whether the world is becoming a place where everything is "good enough," or chabuduo, whether it really is or not. i may be thinking of chabuduo in the wrong sense here, as what's underneath the chinese conception of it is a constant search for optimization - making things easier, cheaper and getting more money for them. but maybe i haven't misunderstood, because isn't reality t.v. chabuduo as well? it's definitely easier than making a proper television show, it surely costs less as you can get loads of fame-hungry suckers to participate and you don't have to pay them and thus the production company makes more money on it.

but what are the implications if everyone chooses the easy route, or hides their mistakes, slaps on a coat of paint to cover things up, or gives mediocre efforts top marks? a superficialization (i just made that word up) of culture and a poverty of language is what it seems to be giving us. we don't have any way to express things that are truly brilliant or iconic anymore now that everything is those things, even the things that are chabuduo.

* * *

dear blogger, please finish your tweaking of the photo uploader, it's not working at the moment and i hate having to post using html from flickr. sigh.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

it sucks to get old but at least we have spring

have you ever gotten new contacts and had them make you sick? i got a pair of contacts with two strengths in them - bifocals, if you will (it seemed appropriate on my thirty-thirteenth birthday) - just to try them out. they have the bit in the middle for seeing your book or your knitting (which have been a bit fuzzy around here of late) and your real prescription around the outside edges. apparently, your eye will work together with your brain and figure it all out and eventually, you'll clearly see the things you need to see. however, apparently my brain and my eyes were not speaking, because they made me almost instantly nauseated. and i stupidly kept them on for several hours. even after i removed them, it took hours for the nausea to wear off. and kinda ruined my birthday dinner. so anyway, for lack of anything better (and because i'm getting up at the crack of insanity to drive three hours), i give you signs of spring...

Monday, March 22, 2010

the age of contentment

a lake makes a nice birthday present. but i got that loom too.
i got an early birthday present yesterday when the realtor called and said that the seller had accepted the terms we'd offered on the property over in jutland (this is property #2, to our knowledge, the dog sled has never arrived at the owner of property #1, as we've heard nothing from those clowns). things are really falling into place. it seems both like it's taken an eternity and that it's happened in the blink of an eye. in just two short months, everything we thought about moving to a farm has changed. we thought we'd move to one here in our area, but now, we're packing up and moving across the country. it's funny to think that the whole thing was initiated by a friday afternoon phone call from a friend as i walked from one terminal to the other at copenhagen airport, picking up the blog campers back in january. one phone call can change your whole life.

window on a whole new life.
since it's my birthday, i had mulled over making one of those lists of things to do before my next birthday, but in light of the enormous shift that's happened in our thinking and in our lives, i'm not sure that it's worth setting out such a list. because it's so hard to know where life will take you and if you're too focused on a specific list, you just might miss some golden opportunities. what if we'd not opened our minds to the possibility of a move to a new area? then we'd not have new jobs and a 17-acre farm with a lake and a house built in 1895 (for a good quarter of the price of what a similar property would have been here). what if we'd stayed focused on our original little list of things we thought we wanted? i shudder at the thought.

of course, that's not entirely fair to lists of goals and many of the goals on a list as long as mine would be - if i were making one of those 43 things to do before i turn 44 type lists - would be more frivolous goals, like the one from last year's list that said, "become blog of note." i also had more ephemeral things on the list like "be more present," and "dare more" and "believe more." i suppose some days i fulfilled those goals and some days i didn't. i never had things on my list like "run a marathon" or "lose weight" (tho' i undoubtedly should) or those typical resolution-type goals. it would be more fun to have something on it like "make cupcakes once a week" or "talk to a stranger once a day," but my photo-a-day and art journal calendar projects are enough for me and since they're not specific to my birthday, it seems a moot point to make a list.

but it's weird with birthdays when you've reached my age. tho' it's a bit ho hum, i feel comfortable being 43, it feels like the right age to be. it's where i'm at. i wouldn't want to go back and i feel there's still loads to look forward to. it's likely that i'll never run a marathon, but that's ok, i never wanted to anyway. it's interesting that as i look both back and forward on this day, i'm quite content to be right where i am.

a little self-present for my birthday. a felt brooch from lilfish studios.
* * *

i've written more about the new property over on livet på landet.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

finding meaning in stripes

working on a scarf for sabin in soft, colorful cotton
i've made my own striped scarf as long as i want it to be and have only to go down to the local knitting shop and have the nice lady there show me how to join the two ends and then it will be finished. in the meantime, i have turned to one for sabin. she had to have an identical basket to mine for the project and we gathered all of our soft, bright cotton yarns into it and i'll make a colorful scarf for her like mine. she doesn't get along too well with wool, so we thought the cotton was a good solution and it was a way to use some of a stash of yarn that i had acquired out of addiction to the acquisition of colorful, soft things rather than having any project in mind. being an inexperienced knitter, i wasn't sure at first if i liked the cotton, but now that i've gotten a little way in, i do like it and it will be nice for spring, which has finally shown up.

snowdrops - a welcome sight, spotted in the woods at the new house
(and we just officially received word that they've agreed and it really IS the new house!)
last week, i spent time with an old friend who i used to work with and who i will work with again, starting april 1 (convenient to start a new job with 3 days of paid holiday and a weekend, don't you think?). i had my knitting basket with me and was knitting on my stripy scarf. i also mentioned that i had two more weaving lessons left before they were over. he laughed uproariously and made fun of me for indulging in activities that, in his words, only a 90-year-old woman would do. and oddly, that didn't bother me. because i know better. for one thing, i bought my loom from an 80-year-old woman who wasn't going to weave anymore because she was now painting, so there goes the age theory. and for another, craft is cool. here we all are, crocheting granny squares, knitting, sewing, quilting and embroidering. we're outfitting rooms of our houses to accommodate these hobbies. and we're not feeling any shame about it, just because they are homely pursuits (in the sense of home, not ugly).

i've done a lot of thinking about why this trend is so prevalent at the moment and have a few theories. one is that in the face of economic crisis, people simply are doing more around the house - not only are they taking less long-distance vacations, they're thinking about making a cover for that mixer rather than buying one. so the popularity of craft is partially from the desire to spend less, tho' i can vouch for the fact that sewing and knitting are rather expensive hobbies. even more, i think that as so many of us are information workers in one form or another, spending our days in offices, using computers, making elaborate powerpoint slides and excel spreadsheets, we have a longing to make something tangible and real, rather than all of that virtual ephemera. knitting, crocheting and sewing satisfy that longing. plus, we're so removed today from the production of things, that we have a desire to return to the simpler times of our forefathers and -mothers, where people really know how to do things with their hands. a quilt is much more tangible than a powerpoint presentation when it comes to it, so we simply have a desire to have something real that we made with our own two hands.

that dark chocolate brown stripe doesn't entirely fit
of course, i'm not above assigning deeper meaning to the things i've made. when i started the scarf, i consciously decided not to rip anything out and start over, but leave the small imperfections as markers of a learning experience and hopefully, to lend their own charm.  i've been looking upon the stripes in the scarf as a series of events, just as life is made up of event upon event. they build upon one another and the shades of the different events play off of one another. sometimes they clash and other times, they harmonize. towards the end of my scarf, i felt the need to introduce two new colors - a dark chocolate brown and a darker turquoise. interestingly, the brown doesn't work. it doesn't ruin the scarf, thankfully, but it jumps out in a jarring way, just like some of the things that happen in life. also interesting was that i couldn't see it until i had gone past it and added the next colors, so it wasn't until later that i realized how it didn't fit. just like life. but having vowed not to take out stitches once they were in, i have left it, as a learning experience. in life, you don't get a do-over.

in all, i'm pretty ok with the ribbing that i'm doing things a 90-year-old woman would do. those old ladies know how to do stuff and they've seen things. and i'm just fine with that.

Friday, March 19, 2010

friday cocktails

wine during the week, but cocktails on the weekend.
it's friday. at last. and although it's dreary outside and raining and it's only about 8:30 a.m., i find my thoughts turning to cocktails. friday will do that to you. it's the end of a long week and on friday evening, you feel you've earned a little drinky pooh. or at least you do if you're me and even if you spent most of the week in your pajamas in front of the internet. that can be hard work too. tho' i didn't spend my week like that this week, what with the gainful employment and all. but now back to the cocktails.

i surprised a twitter friend the other day by knowing that the smoky whisky she was tasting was an islay. i think she was surprised because girls don't usually know that stuff, do they? whisky tends to be a man's drink. but i do know my islays and have a couple of different laphroigs, an ardbeg, a bowmore and a lagavulin or two in my liquor cabinet. i love that smoky, almost lapsang souchong element that the islays have.

at our house, i tend to like the usual boy's drinks and husband tends towards the girly ones. he recently polished of a bottle of thickly sweet peach schnapps that our neighbor brought back from turkey. whereas i'm much more likely to sip a hendrik's gin & tonic with a thin slice of cucumber in it. husband likes the hendrik's too (who wouldn't, it is the best gin ever and loved by a small handful of people, all over the world), but he mixes it with schweppes lemon (oh the horror!).

he's also likely to commit the blasphemy of mixing the 8-year-old bacardi, which should just be sipped on its own, like a fine whisky, with cocio, a chocolate milk product we have in denmark. again with the horror. and the girliness. and i won't even go into the abuse of alcohol that he committed one day with the beautiful patron that extranjera brought to blog camp. i guess i should be grateful that husband is so in touch with his masculinity that he's not afraid to indulge in feminine drinks, but sometimes i do wish that when we sat gazing into the fire on a friday evening, he would join me in a glenmorangie, rather than sipping bailey's. oh well, he's a keeper anyway, so i guess i'm off to stock up on drinks umbrellas for fruity cocktails.

what cocktail is on the agenda at your house tonight?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

thursday mosaic: flickr faves (because i'm away from the computer)

all of the creative goodness i've loved in the past week:

flickr faves - week 11 - the creative ones

remember, if you click the mosaic, it will take you to my flickr page, where you'll find links to all of the original photos found in these mosaics.

and the clever photos that are inspiring me right now:

flickr faves - week 11 - the photo-y ones

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

on memory and forgetting and taking a picture every day

because you can never have too much yarn porn.
january 1, i started a 365 photo-a-day project. and, in consultation with many of your good selves, i created a flickr group to support it and for us to have a place to share our photos and give feedback to one another, with the idea of improving our photography. in the initial, heady days of january, it was so much fun! it seemed like the year would fly by and the inspiration would continue to flow like a fountain. all these people who knew one another from the blogosphere and a few new ones joined in and we became friends. and everyone learned and made explore and was happy.

then february struck. most of those in the group live in the northern hemisphere, so it was the darkest, coldest, most dreary part of the winter and it was hard. now it's march and spring is taking its sweet time in coming, at least where i live. there are days when i look outside at the aging snowbanks and the bare trees and i think, "i can't possibly take a  picture of anything worthwhile today." but then i take a wander around the house or i look at the photos the others in the group have taken and i feel inspired by something someone else photographed, and i get through it. because i promised myself i would. and my promises to myself have to mean something. and you reach a point where you keep doing it BECAUSE it's hard and because doing things that are hard can be good for you, and because it makes you buy fresh flowers on a regular basis.

my reasons for doing this have already changed in the 75 days it's been running. at the beginning, if i'm  honest, i wanted to show off my ability to take breathtaking pictures and develop more consistency in that. now, i realize that such a project is more about documenting what's going on in my life. and i admit that it's most decidedly not breathtaking on a daily basis. some days, i use my iPhone (thank goodness i've got hipstamatic and camerabag and other apps to make that more interesting). when the weather gets good, i'm going to use some of my film cameras (they're best at outdoor photos). i realized that a profound macro of the inside of my cat's ear doesn't actually help me document my life on a daily basis, so i've worked at pushing myself away from those and towards things that will help me remember what was going on and what was important to me at a particular moment in time. i think ultimately i'll find that this project is about memory for me.

the other reason i did this was to be more mindful of the world around me. to notice things. to see differently. last year at about this time, i got on a total eyeball kick, which i later realized was about my wanting to SEE differently. having to take a photo every day makes me look differently at the world.

i'll admit it's hard for me not to see the current exodus from the group as a personal rejection of sorts, despite endless explanations to the contrary, but i'm trying. and until i can forget about it, that's all i can the meantime, it makes me quite sad to see people give up and leave us, whatever their reasons. but although i'll admit it shakes my conviction, especially because it's people i love and respect, i remain committed. after all, i read recently about a guy who took a picture every single day from 1979 'til his death in 1997. now THAT's commitment.

if you're not now totally put off the idea of taking a photo every day and you'd like to join us, please check out the blog camp 365 group on flickr. it's never too late to start!

* * *

and the picture at the top? what does it have to do with all of this? well, it was one of THOSE days, where i took what felt like 600 pictures of the new yarn that i'm going to use to make granny squares after kristina and ulrika teach me this coming weekend, and i wasn't pleased with how any of them turned out. but then, i played with them in lightroom and i think this one came out ok. a process that was good for me and which framboesa talks about very thoughtfully here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

if passports could talk

yesterday, in the flickr group, kristine had a shot of her passport and used it to tell the story of how she was soon moving on to her next assignment. i didn't have any idea what i was going to do for my photo, so i did one of those tribute shots, as they're called when you blatantly copy what someone did and give them credit. i located my old passport and my current one and, as can often be the case with these daily photos, took a little trip down memory lane.

old on the left, current on the right
my passports are fatter than your usual passport. and that's because both of them have had pages added to them. twice. you'll also notice that my old passport was green. it was my first one and i didn't know that most americans have a blue one. i was "lucky" and got the green one during a very small window when they issued ben franklin commemorative passports. it's actually thanks to benjamin franklin that we all have passports at all, as it was his idea. the unusual green passport caused me no end of grief when i was traveling a lot in the balkans in the late 90s. border guards constantly questioned its authenticity and one guard at the turkish-greek border actually said, "green passport, very bad, very bad," and made a slicing motion across his neck. i was quite alarmed, but the conversation stopped there as that was apparently the extent of his english and my turkish was nonexistent. i've survived to tell the tale, so i guess it wasn't really very bad. and i never did ever meet anyone else with a green one.

as an american, you get stamped everywhere you go and you often need visas. the first passport filled up because the macedonian visa took a whole page every time and i had to have a new one if i popped down to thessaloniki for a weekend or up to belgrade for a coffee. it was early days after macedonia found themselves, rather to their surprise, with their own country, and it took them awhile to realize they could issue multiple-entry visas. i eventually got one of those, but not before they had used up ten pages of my passport.

a number of countries - china and india come to mind - think nothing of taking up an entire page of your passport for the visa. and the visas are elaborately colorful and often feature shiny holograms. i guess they want you to feel you got your money's worth. on the bright side, they're usually good for a least six months, so you don't need a new one should you be sent those places again.  i did use up two whole pages on indian visas, as i had to go there frequently enough that one expired and i needed another. (audible sigh.)

the bulk of my travel occurred during the bush administration and i clearly remember standing in lines at passport control, concealing my passport, as i felt a little sheepish about being american during those years. i happened to be in the philippines when obama was elected and i very clearly remember the sense of relief (tho' bush was still president) when i realized that i no longer had to hide my passport while i stood in line. on that occasion, people in line saw it and several actually smiled and gave me a thumbs up. with the incomprehensible debacle of health care reform (who would seriously not want to limit the influence of insurance companies on their personal health?) going on in the US right now, i'm not sure i wouldn't actually begin to conceal my passport again if i were queuing today.

many of the pages are covered in stamps that say "københavn" because i get stamped every time i come back into the country if it's not from scandinavia or the schengen countries. it tapered off because eventually, i knew all of the guys at passport control and convinced them to not to stamp me every time.

i've loved the travel opportunities i've had through my various jobs. the job i'm starting in april will not have so many travel opportunities, but i've been thinking about it and i'm really ok with that. looking at all of these stamps exhausts me a little bit. when i see the dates for the convoluted trip i took from copenhagen to singapore to heathrow to gatwick to budapest to constanza and back to copenhagen in one crazy week, it makes me tired. i hope companies today are using the possibilities afforded by electronic meeting software, rather than sending someone to give a 30 minute presentation in singapore on monday and the same one in romania on wednesday. i remember thinking it was all very exciting at the time (tho' having to switch from heathrow to gatwick was madness and an example of how bad the travel agent was). but today, i wouldn't even want to do it. and i would probably have the good sense to say no, but in those days (sounds like long ago, but it's not even three years ago), i actually quite liked it and of course, felt i had to do all of the things that were asked of me.

these stamps document for me how far i've come not just literally, but metaphorically as well. i think i've learned to say no to such madness today. and i hope that one good thing to come out of economic crisis is that employees aren't asked to do trips like that these days, because companies think twice before spending 40,000 ($7,300) kroner on such a ticket. i'm going to lose my gold status on both SAS and KLM here in the next couple of months. and tho' there was a time, not so long ago, when that would have panicked me, i'm resting quite easily in the knowledge. the world is changing and times are changing and it's no longer environmentally defensible to pop over to london for lunch or take a private plane back from newcastle like we did in the mid-noughties. i loved those times and am grateful for all the places i've been, but i'm quite ready to stay a bit closer to home for awhile. and besides, taking the train down through europe is quite romantic.

Monday, March 15, 2010

random thoughts to start the week

~ i miss being in an academic environment. i miss the thrill of reading a really dense sentence and pulling meaning out of it that applies the world around me. i think it's why i used quotes from susan sontag's on photography on my 365 project photos during february.

~ husband looks like an entirely new person in his new glasses (must photograph him soon). but is it the glasses or his new job or our impending move giving him that glow? maybe it's all of it.

~ i learned that our new little samsung U10 HD flashcam can't really handle filming in the dimly-lit riding hall.

~ note: the flashcam doesn't violate the "not buying things in 2010" because i actually bought it back in december, but my sister only just sent it last week.

~ cleaning out the attic is like visiting a flea market and finding all kinds of treasures, only without spending any money. who knew we had all this cool stuff?

~ if you trip over a sweet little brass deer in the yard at a house you're contemplating, it's a sign, right? and if you accidentally take that little deer with you, it's not really stealing, right? since it was abandoned out in the yard at a house that stands empty?

~ one drawback of sunshine: it exposes just how much your windows need cleaning.

~ stieg larsson is sweden's answer to dan brown. only we won't be subjected to more of his hack writing since he died. but i'll admit that i like the characters of mikael blomqvist and lisbeth salander, so i (re)read on. sometimes, you just have to read trash. but arthur koestler's the ghost in the machine is next on my nightstand, so i shall redeem myself.

~ every day after husband and sabin leave, i think that i'll go back to bed, but i never do. and soon, i won't be able to, since i'll be headed off for work in an actual office myself.

~ sometimes i wonder if others can hear that ringing in my ears.

~ i packed marxism and theology books in the same box this weekend and wondered aloud if i would be going to hell for that (tho' thankfully i cannot, since i don't believe in hell and it's like santa claus, if you don't believe it in, it doesn't believe in you (thanks gwen)). husband's response: "god is more of a marxist than you think." and the more we discussed it, the more i think he's right, there is something of the new testament over the communist manifesto. i wish i'd written my dissertation on that. of course, i still could, since i haven't actually written it. yet.

~ i tucked all those little end bits of yarn into my scarf last night while watching hercule poirot (who is so gay, by the way, not that there's anything wrong with that). it was much easier than i thought it would be. now i hope i can figure out how to join the ends together when the time comes to do that.

~ i really wish i was on my way to the bookstore with trinsch this morning. she's going to browse books on new media and then she gets to write about it. i'm so envious. it leaves me positively longing for academia.

~ i do love these little random thought downloads, they just completely clear my head and leave me feeling ready to face the week.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

finding happiness

pondering happiness quite a lot in the face of the excitement of moving to the other side of the country (which admittedly is like moving from one side of wisconsin to the other and not as big as it might sound). husband is like a little kid anticipating christmas. he actually fell asleep last night with a smile on his face. he's covering reams of paper with sketches of the possibilities for renovations. we're now betting on two horses, as it were, and have given an offer on a second place, since the dog sled transport to northern canada is apparently unreliable, or else the laid back realtor hasn't actually sent a dog sled or any thing else, as we've heard nothing regarding our first offer. not being ones to wait around, husband has now talked himself (and thereby both of us) into the second place being better anyway. and he's right, there are more possibilities for ripping out everything that's there and putting it back in as we would want it.

now betting on this one as well. what's cool is that there's a lake on the property.
and although the first thing it needs is a new roof, that does afford opportunities not afforded by the other place, which recently had a new roof, although the engineering calculations surrounding that new roof are openly suspect in several places. so i think husband is right, the second property is better for us anyway. but my point actually is that even just talking about all of this is making us so happy.

leading me to think about what happiness is. it's an eternal question, isn't it? and we're eternally in search of happiness, tho' i'm not sure we always recognize it when we see it. for me, it's something different than contentment. contentment is a mild, tame form of happiness. a resting, easy thing. whereas, what i think makes us happy, makes us really tick, is having some enormous, seemingly impossible, daunting project on the horizon. i can definitely see that in husband. he's transformed and positively beaming at the prospect of this project. of course, it's also his new job that's transformed him - he was more than a little bored and frustrated at work and just going through the motions. he's looking forward to his new job, but even more, to the new house and all of the possibilities it represents.

these projects also remind me of our strengths - i can see things in my mind and he can build them. i pick colors, he paints them. in other words, i get all the fun and he does all the work. i guess i'll probably spend another summer with no kitchen, cooking on an old stove out in the yard and eating lots of salads. maybe it'll be time to try that raw diet i've long wanted to try. perhaps it will clear my mind so that i'll make good choices on all of those colors that we'll need on the walls in the new house. whichever one it ends up being. at least the waiting paralysis of last week seems to have passed and an excited, expectant happiness has stepped in to replace it. and that makes me very happy.

what made you happy this weekend?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

proof of progress

march 7
march 9
march 11
march 13
i'm especially pleased with that row of yellow. it's some yarn i bought last summer at the viking fair in roskilde. it's hand-dyed with natural plant dyes - gyldenris as it's called in danish (not sure what that is in english).  the colors are slightly less vibrant than this in real life. i've got the saturation dialed up a notch (or two) in my camera at the moment.

i should have bought the entire basket of this yarn dyed with natural plant dyes
* * *

 a big congratulations to molly, my very first follower, and long lost sister in south africa. 
she just had a beautiful baby girl.

Friday, March 12, 2010

blog crush: concerning pancakes

latte and a fabulous norwegian cinnamon bun for stephanie of concerning: pancakes.
i'm back again already with another blog crush. i told you i had more of them brewing. this time, i'm utterly charmed by stephanie's blog, concerning: pancakes. you may remember her from my tagging her recently for 7 random things. and while i'm hoping she doesn't actually drink bud light with her peanut m&m's, i very much enjoyed her list.

stephanie first came to my attention because she has also decided to spend less in 2010 (tho' i do believe she's taking a bit of a break at the moment, kinda like i did with the infamous orange coat incident). but thanks to the LinkWithin widget (love it now that they improved the code and hence the speed), i also found out that she's got a TLR camera and likes to play with TtV photography. her cat, chairman meow, has a clever name and is cute as can be. she often blogs about cooking, which is always a plus in my book.

i'm off to make her german pancakes now, since the pooka is home and feeling poorly. please do go check her out.