Saturday, July 31, 2010

do the time not the crime: an interview from the minimum security lock-up

perhaps the most surprising response to my interview meme was the following gentleman from the common room in the north wing of a minimum security prison somewhere in washington...

1. so what are you in for?

Well, my first crime was I was born and I was framed. Two people, who I didn't know at the time, are the ones, you know, responsible for making me who I am. Then I did some kid stuff and I did too much fast talking and I had to wear a blue uniform and do time in a parochial school. As I remember it, I did 6 years. There was a lot of broken wood rulers and notes sent to those two people I previously mentioned. Later, after doing another 6 years of retraining I was released with some kind of certificate and a square hat and told to find a job. I had no money so I hung around some people my age, found a woman, fell in love and we got married. Now, I do dishes, rake leaves and I don't mix pink things with white things in the laundry ... I'm tellin' you, it's real harsh. Like a book, it’s one sentence after another.

2. any chance of parole?

Nah, she’s for real and we made a deal, it’s a life sentence and then some.

3. who gets to bunk with martha?

If I get the top bunk that’s OK. If not, and Martha wants the top bunk, I’ll be tough and tell her to go to the kitchen and whip up some chicken tacos or those little crackers with god-knows-what on them. And, to bring me back a Coke, not a Pepsi.

4. where i live, minimum security means you get to sleep in your own bed, is that true there?

No. I have to share it with the wife. And sometimes a real big dog puts his head on the bed and watches me sleep. Some guard dog, huh?

5. what do you miss most from the outside?

Trains and big windows. Orange juice not Tang. Clean white socks, private showers and potato chips that aren't tiny pieces. And maybe skipping on the bloodhounds and sleeping under the stars in the High Sierras.

6. if you had to order a last meal (which of course i hope you don't), what would it consist of?

Last meal? First, can I have some cocktail weenies with catsup? Maybe a New York style pretzel with plenty of mustard. Ooh, garlic fries also sound good. After that, I’d say something Italian, Mexican, Thai and Chinese and about 72 courses long. Each with a different micro brew.

7. have you atoned for your crime(s)?

That’s a good one. I’m still paying for those two kids we had.

8. were you on wall street by chance?

Where’s Wall Street? I once knew a Harvey Wallbanger and I've been to Wall Drug (which you also know).

9. or a member of the bush administration?

I kinda like bushes. There good to hide behind and some have smelly flowers (which confuse the bloodhounds).

10. any chance of conjugal visits?

I had think about that for a minute. The answer is, yes. Then again, who are we talking about that's visiting? If it’s Martha, then no. Now I think Crazy Ike and Raoul want to talk with you.

* * *
thank you bill for injecting some well-needed humor into this whole endeavor.

an interview with mrs. mediocrity

mrs. mediocrity has a secret. it's that her name isn't mrs. mediocrity at all. it's not for me to reveal what it is, but suffice it to say that i was very surprised. and appreciate the irony of the mrs. mediocrity name all the more, because she's anything but mediocre. but, if you read her blog, you already know that. and if you don't, get over there and do it (right after you read this)...

1. do you think worry is a modern phenomenon or did the neanderthal women worry when their neanderthal men were out fetching dinner?

I think it has existed as long as love has existed. Love = worry. And I think women worry way more than men. And mothers worry way more than anybody.

2. if you could solve one of the world's big problems, which one would it be? (you don't have to say how you'd solve it unless you want to.)

Hunger. If you don't eat, nothing else matters.

3. sushi or a steak?

Zucchini. I was a vegetarian for many years, but my husband and son are not, so I gave it up to make my life easier. It wasn't a huge philosophical thing for me, I just don't like meat all that much. I very often will just have zucchini, or broccoli, as a meal.

4. camping or posh hotel?

Camping, with a posh air mattress. Preferably in the Adirondack mountains. If I am lucky, we will see a bear.

5. what is sure to inspire you?

Beautiful images, soulful writing, nature (especially a forest), love.

6. your ultimate comfort food.

Hands down, chocolate. I eat it every day. One extra, extra dark Lindt truffle.

7. i know you're a photoshop girl, so give us some photoshop advice that we can't do without.

Play. Just when you think you know everything there is to know about photoshop, you find out there is more to learn. Use layers. Don't be afraid of it (just always save your original first). And then go crazy, add a million layers, try something different on each one, find the combination that is perfect. Add something that makes it yours.

8. nikon or canon?

Hands down, nikon

9. your ultimate dream camera?

The one that takes the perfect picture (but surely that would be a nikon).

10. tell us a hilarious travel-related story.

Oh boy. Okay, I will bare one of my biggest secrets. This is kind of gross, but funny, too. Years ago, I lost my toenails, most noticeably on both big toes. I went without wearing sandals for years, which killed me, since I would always prefer to be barefoot, and sandals are the next closest thing. Anyway, after years of that, one desperate summer I figured out a way to make myself some fake ones using the stuff they use for fake nails. And then I glue them on, and they look reasonably natural if you don't look super close, and way better than the way my feet look without them. So yay! I could wear sandals again.

That year, my husband and I went camping. I went for a run, and then I went to the showers, you know, stalls in a row lined up next to each other. Well, when I pulled my sock off, one of my toenails came off with it, (running always loosens them), and before I could catch it, it bounced over into the next stall, which was occupied. So then, of course, I had to reach my hand in there to retrieve it, otherwise, the rest of my trip would have been ruined by ugly toe syndrome.

But can you imagine standing there in a shower stall and seeing a toenail come bouncing into your space, followed by a hand groping to retrieve it?

I can't even begin to imagine what she thought...

* * *

see. i knew running was not good for you. and i also knew you had to be a nikon girl. thank you mrs. mediocrity who isn't the least bit mediocre, ugly toes and all...

Friday, July 30, 2010

an interview with joanna jenkins of the fifty factor

i bring you the whimsical answers of joanna jenkins of the ever-entertaining blog with a large following - the fifty factor. i defy you go there and not learn something or be amused or touched. but first, read her answers to my questions.

1. why blog?

I blog because it's fun--plain and simple.

2. if you could do something all over again, what would it be?

When I used to travel extensively on business I didn't take advantage of extending trips with personal time so I could actually explore the countries I was in-- France and Italy especially. It was such a missed opportunity that I blame partly on my youth and mostly on trying to race up the corporate ladder.

3. when you go antiquing or to flea markets, what do you look for every time?

My dream is a big farm house with lots of land. That's never going to happen so instead I look for architectural fragments to introduce elements of rural living into my contemporary home. I figure eventually I'll get that farm house one fragment at a time.

4. coffee or tea?

Definitely tea-- Iced tea with lemon.

5. meat or veggies?

My perfect meal is a juicy steak, baked potato and a salad loaded with vegetables and blue cheese dressing.

6. is fifty the new forty?

As my blog profile says, not one single person mentioned "40-anything" on my 50th birthday but I'm clinging to the hope that it's true.

7. if you were a car, what would you be?

I'd like to think I'd be a well maintained and much loved, red, Ford Mustang convertible. In reality-- I'm probably a very reliable Volvo.

8. what's your ultimate comfort food?

Warm chocolate chips cookies and a big glass of ice cold milk. That or anything with gravy on it.

9. when nobody's looking, i....

...Eat the last of the above mentioned cookies.

10. what would you grab if there was a fire?

Laptop, wallet, husband and my grandparent's silver candlesticks-- Not necessarily in that order.

* * *

thank you, joanna, for playing along. if it's any consolation, i can totally see you as that mustang convertible - but definitely one of the classy, vintage ones with their beautiful lines, not one of those big, beefy clunky ones they make today.

an interview with magpie of magpie musing

next up...the inimitable magpie of the witty and clever magpie musing. she's one of the bloggers i feel like i've known from the beginning and every year on her birthday blog post, i am amazed that she's like at least ten years older than she looks and than i think she is. and i forget every year. and how can you not love someone who uses words like filch and acrophobic and assumes her readers use them too. i probably leaned a little too heavily on the silly side of my questions to her...

1. which Wii game is the best?

I was going to say whichever one we're playing, but I think the real answer is whichever one the six year old can win, because she has not learned how to lose with grace. Just tonight, she howled when I made better blueberry pancakes in Cook Wars.

2. have you ever been tempted to call in sick due to a Wii-related injury?

No. First, I don't think I've ever incurred a Wii-related injury, and second, I'm too honest and responsible - I hardly call in sick when I'm actually sick.

3. do you ever worry about the world you're leaving to your child? in what way?

I worry about the climate conditions that people seem to be too short-sighted and politically hamstrung to address; I hope the world is still habitable in her lifetime.

4. nature or nurture?

Yes. Nature plays a huge role, but without nurture, nature is fragile.

5.  what do you order at starbucks? 

I hardly ever go to Starbucks. Really - maybe three times a year. When I go, I'll get a small skim latte - small because I have no truck with that Italianate sizing they use, and skim because it's less cloying than whole milk. I almost never drink coffee outside my house - two cups, freshly ground, freshly brewed, black, every morning, and that's it.

6. iPhone or Blackberry?


7. is BlogHer really all it's cracked up to be?

What's it cracked up to be? It's fun. It's a way to meet a lot of people with whom you have something in common - kind of like going to a college reunion.

8. what parenting ideas did you have before you became a parent that you abandoned almost immediately upon actually being confronted with your child?

I thought my little girl would wear little smocked dresses until I realized how ridiculous dresses on a crawling baby are.

* * *

despite my deep and abiding love for starbucks, i love that you hardly ever go there. as for parenting, i had firm ideas about how much candy the child would be allowed..sigh. thank you, magpie, for playing along with the interview game.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

an interview with kim of *numinosity*

now it's time to meet my friend kim from *numinosity* - she lives in arizona in the cold months and alaska when it's "warm," she makes amazing ATCs and even cooler jewelry.  since i lived in arizona myself once upon a time, i had to ask her about that.

1. so, alaska and arizona - do you just like places that start with "a" or is there deeper meaning (or is that actually the deeper meaning)?

No, I just like places that end with "a". Seriously though, I followed my older siblings to Alaska back in the 70's and have made it my home since. I'm not sure if I would have chosen it on my own. The Tuscon Gem and Mineral show initially brought me to Arizona which was a nice winter getaway in early February where I would get my supplies for my jewelry business.

2. how are alaska and arizona the same? and could they be any more opposite?

Winters in Arizona are the most like Alaskan summers with dry heat and big sky and expansive vistas. There's also a funkiness in the town we've chosen to live in (Bisbee) that reminds me of Alaskan funkiness and it's also an art community. Both places were built on mining dreams and have a bit of wild frontier feel to them. Both are land of extremes with climate and elements. Both places seem to attract more adventurous tourist types, not your typical resort seeking types.

Both Delta Jct. Alaska and the area around Cochise County in Arizona are some of the richest archaeological corridors in the US. Both border other countries.

As for opposites of course Alaska gets so damn cold and dark but it also seems to be a more prosperous place to live. The economy is better in most cases and I find it a much easier place to sell my art. The population base is so small for a state it's size with only a bit over 600,000 people with half of those people living in the city of Anchorage.

3. when you sit down to play with pretty paper, describe what happens. can you control where the inspiration comes from? can you make it come?

When I sit with paper I start arranging images that have a juxtaposition that might make me smile or are enigmatic as you commented in one of my posts about my ATC's Sometimes it takes me a very long time to get started when I'm piling through my stashes of snippets of images. Most times I'm not concentrating on making something pretty but I do focus on composition and color so that in the end it will be a pleasing combination along with either the whimsy or depth of my piece. My pieces that focus on beauty seem to be more when I'm working with the hot glass in my lampwork and jewelry designing and then it's all about color, texture and composition without trying to evoke meaning.

4. what's your favorite place in arizona?

My favorite place in Arizona is where I live, the town of Bisbee and surroundings. We have a view of a mountain in Mexico and I can walk around the small town for errands which I haven't been able to do since I left New England. There are always things going on but it's very low key and artsy. It's easy to drive or walk somewhere for amazing hikes. The thrift shops antique shops and estate sales are the best for a collector like me. Then we're near the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show that is the most amazing array of materials for my craft available in one place, part of what drew me to Arizona in the first place.

5. black tea or green tea?

Black tea for me, I just got some English Typhoo tea this week and am really fond of Oolong. When I'm in Arizona, Trader Joe's has a bottled ice tea called Tejava which I'm rather addicted to. I have to make my own sun tea in Alaska though.

6. if you could choose an era in which to live, when would it be?

I think I would have had a fine heyday in the Bohemian Era.

7. what's your guilty pleasure?

Spending too much time on the computer with facebook and blogger!

8. where do you do when you need an escape?

Walking is the best thing for me when I need an escape, It grounds me and slows me down in my mind and body. I have nice woods and trails and a field nearby our home in Alaska and in Arizona it's a short walk to an ocotillo filled desert walk.

9.  how about a whimsical random fact?

The piece of plexiglass that I use on my workbench to collage on is actually a piece that was from the construction of the Bee Gees stage used in their 1979 tour.  Remember the stage that would light up different colors when they stepped on them? My boyfriend back then worked on the stage construction crew and brought a piece back to me to use for a cutting board which is now relegated for a crafting surface.

* * *

thank you kim! that seals it, i must visit bisbee next time i'm in arizona!

an interview with char of ramblins...

one of char's gorgeous shots
i feel like i've known char since the beginning of my bloggy life and i was so happy when she was the very first one to say she'd like to be interviewed. i thought maybe it would just be her and couple of others and that would be that. instead, it's a whole month's worth of goodness and inspiration (and not having to listen too much to my drivel.) so without further ado, here's char's interview:

1.  when you're feeling out of sorts, what do you do to cheer yourself up?  

If it’s just regular out of sorts, then usually it can be cured with a couple of different tricks. The first is treat myself to some small, small indulgence – like a coffee, a manicure, a new magazine.  I know that sounds a bit indulgent – but it’s amazing how just a little treat can fix up things.  Then to balance that – I try doing something to help someone else or treat them – this week was a coffee for me and then I went and ran an errand for my brother that he had been putting off because it just wasn’t “fun.”

2.  your summer drink of choice?  

Half & half iced tea (half-sweet and half-unsweet)

3. your one very best piece of advice for taking great pictures?  

Keep it simple

4.  "i really love it when..." 

my nieces or nephew spontaneously hug me and say “I love you”

5.  "i really hate it when..." 

I get in a rush because I always make stupid mistakes like spilling water all over the kitchen floor or break a dozen eggs when I drop the carton”

6.  fashion pet peeves?  

Leggings, muffin tops, guys in jeans that fall off their butts, dressing little girls like hookers, uni-boobs

7.  favorite nail polish color? 

OPI Romeo and Joliet (Polar Bare is a close second)

8.  your dream camera (if money were no object)?  

Hasselblad … I think.  Or…a Leica…or an SX70 with unlimited, magical supply of film.  I dream about cameras all the time.

9.  the lens you wouldn't want to be without. 

50mm f/1.8 – it’s a brilliant workhorse

10.  your favorite meal when you're in need of comfort food. 

Anything southern or soulfood.  Or…ice cream.  (a dream meal is always fried chicken with mashed potatoes/gravy, along with fried okra, corn on the cob, yellow squash along with a relish tray of homemade pickles and sliced cucumber.  Add my friend Lisa's cornbread and I'm in heaven.)

oh man, i want some milk bottles like that...
* * *

thank you char, for playing along. and the rest of you, do go and visit char's gorgeous and thoughtful blog, ramblins...and be sure to check out her flickr photostream for more of her beautiful photos, you will be so glad you did.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

an interview with sandra of world's end farm

i hereby give you my interview with sandra of this and that. i recently visited her beautiful home and saw her gorgeous horses and we had an afternoon blog camp of sorts that you can read about here if you haven't already. here are her answers to my questions...

1.  the very best horse you ever had...

I have several favorites, but other than the first I had as a child, I have to say the gray Arabian gelding, Shaka. He was a willful, prideful animal who taught me I am in charge only if I am respectful and if I ask politely. And then I am granted an equal partnership at best. A little humility is good for a person. I think more people would benefit from a Shaka in their lives!

2.  you must share the recipe for your fabulous white sangria.

If I must! I like to use citrus, but apples, cherries, etc.
can be used as well.

cut into thin slices and place in 4 qt pitcher:
3 oranges
3 lemons
3 limes
Add to pitcher:
Peel and quarter 4-5 peaches or nectarines
Dice about 1 cup of fresh pineapple
About 1 pint of strawberries
Fold in about 1/2 cup of sugar (to your taste) and allow to macerate for an hour or so.
Pour 3 bottles of chilled dry white wine and about a half cup of brandy or cognac.
Cover and chill for at least 3-4 hours. I let it sit overnight. 

The sangria in the photo was made with cherries. I don't like it as well.

3.  if you could never watch t.v. ever again, would you miss it? and what would you miss?

Initially, yes. But I don't watch a lot of TV as it is. I would miss the noise in the background I think. The idea of it bothers me more than the actual doing of it would. I believe that is so.

4.  what is the most outlandish thing someone requested in your horse business? (if you can tell without naming names.)

Oh you know the business! Mostly it's just been a series of egocentric requests from boarders. Everyone always thinks they are the only person with a horse. It was interesting to consider this while I cared for 36 horses and someone would want me to spend the time grazing their horse for 15 minutes, with incremental increases each day to ease the beast onto pasture. I had nothing else to do.

I had someone rewrite my boarding contract to suit her wishes. Ya, that will work.

I was asked by someone I know to allow a stranger to me (and a relatively inexperienced person) to come out and ride my Lipizzan crosses so this person could experience baroque horses. Put your dime in the slot and ride the pony. I had to give her credit for the chutzpah. I said 'no'.

My breeding clients were mostly reasonable people and buyers are what they are. But boarders are a whole different breed of cat. Something happens within the brain when a person (woman) gets a horse. This is a broad brush statement and doesn't apply across the board, but I'm telling you.... After twenty years in the business I have probably heard and seen it. I will say the trend that has come up in recent years to take a horse off the farm on trial is something I consider a bold request. But it has become commonplace.

5.  if you could be a presidential advisor, what would you advise?

Get a spine. Or at least a set of principles. People who straddle the fence end up with a sore groin and little else.

6.  the best thing about living in the country?

No close neighbors.

7.  the worst thing about living in the country?

No close neighbors!

I live in a politically conservative part of the state. It can be tough to be surrounded by Tea Party types. So I guess my answer is, I am somewhat isolated. I guess this is why I started reading blogs.

8.  what do you do about the flies? (we have a serious fly problem around here and i had totally forgotten about that.)

I hate to say this, but I have never found a good solution. It is part of the bargain. Some years are worse than others and this has been an awful year for the buggers. In the barn I am very low tech:  fly strips! I do put fly masks on the horses. It is not much, but it does keep them out of their eyes. I shy away from chemicals, so the only other thing I can suggest is a good fly swatter.

9.  if you could travel anywhere (and not worry about the horses), where would you go?

This is a tough question for me, as I have been so narrow in my scope for so long I hardly consider something like this anymore. A trip to Saint Paul has become an adventure for me. I would like to go to France for the food, Italy for the countryside. Ireland because my mother talks of it so much. I am no longer interested in far flung and exotic. Comfort. Food. Culture. I'd be pleased to go to Denmark. Truth be told, I'd be pleased to go to Des Moines! 

10. comfort food?

Yes, please. Fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy. Anything baked that contains butter and sugar. You cannot live in a cold climate and not appreciate the starch and fat of comfort food. It's just not sane.

* * *

sandra, thank you so much for sharing your answers, tho' frankly, i'm a little disappointed about the flies. they're really bad here this year and we have stocked up on fly swatters. one in every sure to visit sandra's blog!

an interview with stephanie of concerning pancakes

you may remember stephanie, because she was one of my blog crushes. so, of course, i just had to ask her about pancakes. :-)

1. tell us your best and favorite pancake recipe.

I am kind of a pancake cheater. I keep pancake mix on hand at all times and make that most of the time. But my favorite thing to do to fancify them is place a few slices of banana into the batter right after i spoon it onto the griddle. Then when I flip them, the bananas get all caramelized and super yummy. (I don't like to mix bananas into the batter.) If I'm fixing pancakes from scratch I really like Andy's childhood recipe for German Pancakes.

2. if you could do whatever you wanted for a living, without regard for how much money it generated or where you had to live, what/where would it be?

Well, this one is a toughie for me. If I lived in the 60's, I would say I would want to be a librarian. I love books so much, but I feel like nowadays being a librarian isn't what it used to be. At least that's how it seems to me. But right now, in the era I live in, I think my dream job is to be a mom. It's the only thing I continually come back to as what I want to spend my time doing. The challenge, the reward, the just seems amazing to me. (Currently, no plans for this in the works...but maybe someday.)

3. camping or posh hotels? (explain.)

Camping. As much as I appreciate a posh hotel with a killer bed and fancy stuffs, I tend to get really nervous and feel out of place in posh settings. When I camp I can do all the things I really enjoy without worrying about my hair, my smell or what people might think of my general desire to drink Bud Light with a hot dog breakfast.

4. cat person or dog person? (explain.)

Well, if I said dog Chairman Meow might get a little miffed. But I love both animals. Cats are easier to take care of for the most part and since I am inherently lazy cats are a better fit for me. I'm about to be in the market for chickens though, so that might kick out the laziness with a quickness.

5. have you read the twilight books?

No, I have not. I watched 2 of the movies, didn't really get it, but plan on watching the rest to see if makes more sense.

6. which harry potter character are you?

I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books and I think I am the only person on the planet to have not read them. I do claim to know magic though (that's how I get my work done in my day job) so maybe I really am a wizard.

7. what's your guilty pleasure?

Hmmm....I do not know. I spend a lot of money on food...maybe that's it.

8. give us a photo tip...subject, setting, whatever. :-)

Best tip I have is to use different cameras if you feel like you're in a rut with one. I have about 7 cameras and find that they all bring something different to the table. When I'm tired of the free-wheeling nature of my Nikon, I use my Zero Image pinhole. It's harder to use, costs more to use and generally makes me slow down to really think about what I'm shooting. It makes taking photos a fun challenge, rather than a mindless exercise.

* * *

thank you, stephanie! now i feel quite justified in not having read twilight either and i want need a pinhole camera. and i'm thinking a hot dog sounds pretty good for breakfast...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

i am, as ever, in awe....

cheers to all who wanted to be interviewed!!
i'm a little overwhelmed and surprised, but ecstatic at your response!
...of the goodness of the blogosphere. the response to my offer to interview has been fantastically, wonderfully overwhelming! and just as a study i read about in the july/august fast company suggested, the oxytocin my brain produced in response to your response gave me a very positive high of sorts. a high of the kind that you usually get from babies and adorable fuzzy small animals. proving once again that bloggy friends ARE indeed the best kind of friends. and that you don't need to run or smoke pot to get high.

i am overjoyed at the response (which i completely did not expect)! if you haven't received your questions yet, it's just because i haven't yet gotten to them, but they will be coming in the next few days (just email your answers to me). i will publish the answers, one (or possibly two) per day, as they come in. do send me pictures if you have pictures to accompany your answers.  and please be a little patient, as i am trying not to ask everyone the same questions (there are a few that are the same for several people (as you'll see), but it's because i really want answers to those particular questions).

and it's not too late, if you want to be interviewed too, just leave a comment on the previous post (it will help me keep track if they're all in one place).

stay tuned for the first responses, they're already coming in, even as the questions are still rolling out!

this is going to be so much fun!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

let your little light shine

i am in need of interaction and inspiration and innovation and ideas. so i want to interview you. yes, YOU. email me (or leave a comment that contains your email address) and i will send you questions - some serious, some frivolous. then you can send me your answers and pretty pictures to go with the answers (if you have some you want to share), otherwise, i'll be happy to illustrate.

i know most of these bloggy interview things involve the person sending questions and you answering them on your own blog, but i want to publish your answers right here on MPC. you can, of course, also publish them on your own blog should you so desire.

so, who's first? bring it on, i'm ready. i want to hear YOUR stories....the more, the better.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

goodbye harry

an old and wise professor and friend has died and so words feel a bit elusive at the moment. he meant a lot to me and was so influential to the person i've become. i'm really sorry i didn't get a chance to say goodbye to him - we tried to on our recent visit to the US, but he was too ill that day for visitors. all we could do was leave a note and some chocolate. i am privileged to have had him as a mentor and friend and he will be sorely missed.  i'm already rereading the brothers karamazov in his memory. it feels like an important thing to do, since he opened my eyes to the richness of dostoevsky and especially that book. his life was long and rich and full and he was a truly good and inspiring person. one can't really ask more than to be remembered like that. good-bye harry.

now THAT's jane austen

thanks bill, for sending me this link.

Friday, July 23, 2010

pretty poppies for the weekend

it's time for blog camp, so i'll just leave you with pictures of pretty poppies. i'm off to collect adventures and stories...happy weekend one and all!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

just a beat behind

it's not that often that you see eight brand new john deere combines driving down the road. it's not that often that a mile-long bridge is closed while eight shiny new combines cross it. it's not that often someone hires an arial photographer to photograph their line of combines. and even less often is your child onboard the lead combine in the convoy. so if you miss your opportunity to photograph said combines, that's it, it was probably the one shot you were going to get at such a thing in your lifetime.

but what if your one shot at such a photo opportunity coincides with one of those days. one of those days when everything you do is just a few beats behind? you JUST miss the bus or train as it's pulling away. the person ahead of you gets the last freshly-squeezed juice from the case. you're late for work and there's a long line at starbucks. you're just a little bit too late for everything you want to do.

well, on the big combine day, we had one of those days.

we were supposed to be ahead of combines, to catch them coming AT us across the bridge.
but as you can see, we were behind them.
so after the bridge, we made a series of bold moves and passed them,
speeding ahead to strategically place ourselves at a curve in the road.
exactly where the line of combines would appear to best advantage.
and so we waited. 
and we looked for the best vantage point.
and we got a little bored and began to amuse ourselves.
there were quite a lot of cameras involved.
and a pair of binoculars.

and while we played around and took one another's pictures....
all eight combines turned off and never came past where we were waiting.

Monday, July 19, 2010

a blog is not a magazine

i bought a rather eclectic collection of magazines when i was in the US. i tend to do that when i get into a barnes & noble - i go a little crazy when faced with the dizzying array of choice. last time, i bought real simple, but didn't make that mistake again this time around (since simple is apparently the key word). mostly i bought old favorites, but i did pick up several that were new to me - mary janes farm, selvedge and dwell. i've seen dwell online, but never in person. i've seen references to selvedge in the blogosphere, but i'd never seen nor heard of mary janes farm. i loved the photo on the front and was intrigued by the headlines - it seemed like it would be my kind of magazine.

but (you knew there was a but)...i was so disappointed. my impression of it is that it was a blog first and became a magazine after lucking into some kind of publishing contract. and while (obviously) i love blogs, they are not magazines. every medium has something it's good at and blogs are good at being immediate and current and informal. magazines that try to do the same end up coming off trying too hard and they also end up too light on content. and worst of all, they end up seeming hokey and unprofessional. because what's acceptable on a blog - e.g. pictures you took of yourself dressed up in a ball gown on your tractor - just don't come off the same in a magazine, especially if it was laid out by an amateur who learned just enough InDesign to be dangerous. in short, it's a mistake of a magazine. i'm sure it was lovely as a blog and probably still is lovely as a blog, but frankly, i'm so turned off by the magazine version of it, that i'm not going to bother to find out.

and that makes me sad. because i'd really like there to be such a magazine - an "everyday organic lifestyle" magazine, a phrase of ordinary strung-together words that they claim to have trademarked. a magazine for someone like me - someone who wants to make thoughtful choices in the food that goes on the table, who wants to know about how to do things herself (make cider, cheese, milk a goat, raise hens), but who also wants a regular, everyday career-type job and a wide variety of smart electronics. i want to read about people who have put up their own windmill and how that process worked. i want to read about high end stoves and how they'll help me live a greener (and yes, classier) lifestyle that will make me look good in the process. but most of all, i want it to be written in a smart way, aimed at the type of educated, worldly person i fancy myself to be. that's what i wanted mary janes farm to be, but it fell far short of that.

then, at the airport in minneapolis, i picked up fast company. i hadn't had an issue of that in years, and i bought it because it had steve jobs on the cover. i bought it because i knew it would confirm me in my apple worship. because i am an apple-ite through and through. and i read the article on apple and it was everything i had hoped. but i found myself reading every single other article and being completely engaged by every one of them, even if they were about something i wouldn't have thought i was interested in - skateboards, golf balls, former BP executives turned green, a neuroeconomist who studies why our online friends give us just as much oxytocin rush as a baby. all of it written in a smart way that also assumed that i, the reader, was smart and worldly.

what we need is a fast company for the organic lifestyle and mary janes farm needs to go back to being a blog.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

how to spend a sunday afternoon

the scene: bottom of the garden

the time: late afternoon on a sunday

the characters: me and husband

the bread: fresh from the oven rosemary focaccia

the wine: a crisp, cold south african chenin blanc

the cheese: a soft danish blue

the salt: maldon's, of course

the conversation: obvious from the books - garden plans

the processing: a new vintage, rounded corner, modified (by me) lightroom preset

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NOTE: a single spot on the next blog camp (which begins next friday, july 23) has opened up.
 email me (email address is on my profile) if you're feeling spontaneous!
we are having a pretty good summer weather-wise

Saturday, July 17, 2010

letter from home or just another random list to clear my brain

stepping in and taking a look around, brushing a few cobwebs out of the corners, killing some flies...and i'm back! we had a wonderful vacation and it was great seeing friends and family and horses and kitties and antiquing and taking 2,795 photographs (not including film), but i'm glad to be home. we came home to a sold house (as you undoubtedly gathered from the goodbye poppelvej post) and are very soon the official owners of one that needs to be torn down. the wheels are in motion on that front as well (turns out it IS possible to rent a bulldozer).

i realized today when i was feeling irritable and rather restless, that it was because i haven't been writing. writing is how i process all the stuff that's going on and when i don't get it out, i become a bearcat (in the words of my father). i tell you, blogging is cheaper than therapy. so in the interest of getting it all out, i give you a few things i learned while i was in the US the past two weeks...

~ it's not possible to wear a multi-strength contact in one eye and a regular one in the other. not if you want to see. or stand upright without nausea.

~ an 8MB memory card holds 1257 photos (using a nikon D300 and taking jpegs at full resolution). that's not enough.

~ the best place to look for treasures is amongst your own stuff.

~ the best way to learn how water and wind behave when they're together is to be on the river.

~ antique prices are totally arbitrary.

~ it is impossible to get normal, real milk for your coffee in an american snack village (my nephew's name for those big roadside gas stations full of snacks and praise jesus shirts). you can only get 14 different flavors of sweetened fake creamer or half and half that comes in little plastic thingies that don't need to be refrigerated.

~ there are no hot beverages smaller than 16 oz. in an american snack village.

~ there are no cold beverages smaller than 40 oz. in an american snack village.

~ if you drink said large beverages, you will need to stop at the next snack village to use the bathroom.

~ cherry is the flavor of choice in the US. and cinnamon. and they are the same color of red.

~ it's no wonder chrysler was doing badly, they're making tanks (badly) disguised as cars.

~ it's time to reread the brothers karamazov.

~ even if actually holding the iPhone 4 to speak in it renders it useless, i will still buy one the second they release them in denmark (by which time they've hopefully fixed that little problem, tho' honestly, i'm willing to learn to hold it with my left hand).

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this weekend, i'm off to a horse show in germany with a friend. i can't wait to see how horse shows are done on this side of the atlantic. wishing you all a lovely weekend!

Friday, July 16, 2010

the simple things: for christina

today is the lovely christina's birthday. you know her, the fabulous cook and photographer with the beautiful soul over at soul aperture? well, in honor of her birthday, we're once again sharing the simple things. happy birthday, beautiful christina, may your day be filled with all of the simple things you love.

and in the spirit of spreading love and good karma in your honor, here are the simple things i'm loving right now...
a girl and her horse
heart-shaped stone on the beach.
calico cat on a crazy quilt
gorgeous yo-yo quilt made by my great-grandmother and found by me on a basement treasure hunt
184:365 magic in the air
magical light
painting light on the night sky

happy birthday to you, christina. you are a true generator of love in the blogosphere. and a big thank you to my dear se'lah, for letting me know, otherwise, i might totally have missed this.

simple things, simple gestures, simply beautiful.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

goodbye poppelvej (that rhymes, you know)

literally my very last shot of the old house. it's empty now (aside from that smeg stove and refrigerator (shh, don't mention the war....i think i mentioned it once but got away with it...)), but a new family will move in already tomorrow. and so we can begin on the next steps....'ll be interesting to see where they carry us....

Monday, July 05, 2010

wind is the new oil

NOTE: this is a guest column written for my dad for a little weekly newspaper in the town where i grew up. dad owned the paper for 35 years before selling it a decade or so ago to the woman who had worked for him for most of those years. he still works there every day and writes a weekly column. this week, he ordered politely asked me to write it for him. i found myself having to write it here in this blogger compose space, in order for the words to flow, so i thought i'd share it with all of you as well. plus, i thought you'd all like to see that i am indeed capable of capital letters...

* * *

earth art from the COP15 meeting in copenhagen

Over the past year, my husband and I began to think about living a more environmentally responsible life. Last December, Copenhagen hosted the COP15 United Nations environment meeting and so for the past year, our newspapers have had an environmental slant to all of the stories. Although the meeting was a disappointment on a political front, we found that it had us thinking about ways we could, as individuals, do our part towards ensuring that the planet we leave to our daughter Sabin isn't a complete disaster.

One of the first things I did was leave a job I'd had for two years in Norway. I was flying to work on a bi-weekly basis from our home in Denmark and that just didn't seem like the most environmentally responsible thing to do, so I decided to get a job in the country where I lived. An opportunity arose for both my husband and I in a renewable energy company that manufactures wind turbines. That seemed to both of us like a good way to take action.

outside shots - our new old farmhouse
house with a 10-year plan

Taking the new jobs mean that we had to move across the country. Denmark is about the size of Wisconsin, so this move isn't as dramatic as it sounds. At the same time, we decided to follow our dream of getting a farmhouse with a bit of land where we could have a big garden and a few animals and although we have no desire to go completely self-sufficient, to be more self-sufficient than we are today. We found a place with an old and rather falling-down house that was built in 1895 that sits on about 11 acres of land. We have a ten-year plan for restoration of the house, but we are definitely in love with the property, which includes one end of a small lake.

our little corner of the lake
What it all means is that we have room for a big garden, where we can grow all kinds of our own vegetables and put them up, thereby eating a more locovore diet. We're going to have chickens and raise a couple of pigs as well, because it feels much better knowing where the eggs and bacon come from and what they were fed and knowing that they lived a good life. We live much closer to work than we did - only about 8 miles away. That means that my husband can bike and although I drive, it's much better on the environment than flying to work like I did for the past two years.

When we do our renovations, we're looking to use as many recycled materials as we can and to build in ways that make the house as energy-efficient as possible. We're researching having our own little 2-3KW wind turbine, with the intention of eventually going off the grid, or perhaps selling our excess energy back into it. We're finding that even though Denmark is very far ahead on the wind energy front (Vestas, a Danish company, is the world's #1 wind turbine producer (for now)), the legislation is lagging a bit behind as far as the individual consumer is concerned, but even that is changing.

iowa wind farms
near Charles City, Iowa
It's very encouraging to drive across Iowa and South Dakota and see big wind farms dotting the landscape. I know there's work to be done here on the infrastructure, but it's a good sign that the wind farms are being built. Today, 20% of the energy in Denmark is produced by wind farms, both on- and offshore and they have a goal of being 100% on renewable energy by 2030. It's my impression that in Denmark, there are more small wind installations -- of 2-3 turbines -- and it would be nice to see that coming here as well. A small town could put up 4-5 turbines and surely go a long way to producing the needed power. Of course, power in this area is already renewable hydro-electric power, so it's not as much of an issue here near the river. But we sure do have the wind for it around here.

It's interesting after a number of years in the maritime industry, where I learned quite a lot about the transport of fossil fuels (oil, LNG, LPG and other petroleum products), to come into the wind industry, which feels like there's a new gold rush going on. I keep saying wind is the new oil and there is definitely a cowboy mentality in the industry - a pioneering spirit of trying all sorts of innovative solutions (gearless turbines are a big one, and the sheer size of the turbines is another - our company's largest are 3.6 megawatts with 58-meter (190-foot) blades). There's a heady feeling that must have been there in the early days of the oil business and it's very interesting to be part of it.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

travel and driving and thinking and antiquing

we drove for eight hours today along stretches of not-very-busy interstate highways. and tho' we had three kids in the backseat, they were pretty content with iPhones, a DVD player and a nintendo DS or two, so it wasn't a bad trip, aside from the begging to stop at all of the snack villages (courtesy of my youngest nephew, our family name for those well-stocked truckstops). but there were quiet moments and they enabled a lot of thinking and some crocheting (when it wasn't my turn to drive).

i can feel on this trip that i was in need of the change of scenery that travel brings - new impulses, new impressions, new thoughts. it just realigns you in a way that staying at home can't do (even if you've just moved, apparently). all of the new input brings fresh inspiration and new configurations in the way you think about things.

there's something about being on the prairie that makes me feel nostalgic. it's partially going back home (which will be covered in another post), it's partially telling stories to sabin, and partially the purposeful nostalgia that is wandering around antique shops, plus a little bit of laura ingalls wilder. it's the winds blowing summer grass and seeing as far as your eyes will allow and the golden light of a prairie sunset.

so during those moments in the car when i had time to think, i found myself mulling over the textiles i had seen in the antique shop, the care that had gone into the stitches and the care that had gone into displaying them - they were washed and bright and charmingly displayed. little bits and pieces of lives gone before, lives lived on these prairies - handmade lives. pieces of a time both gone by and one which we find ourselves yearning for to the point where we scribble notes about them in the notes app on our iPhones. so i was thinking of how to marry that nostalgia with the present. how to live with a foot in both worlds. and whether it's even possible....