Tuesday, August 31, 2010

in which she gets all excited about the wind

snapped at 7:43 this morning
i had the most amazing day. i attended a course today that was an introduction to the wind industry. a wind course in a place called middelfart (giggles), what more can you ask? and in the interest of learning something better yourself by passing it along, i have to share it with all of you. 

some facts about wind power:

~ there are 160,000 installed megawatts of wind power in the world (as of end 2009)

~ China supports their wind turbine producers by giving funding to every turbine produced (caring nothing about whether they're installed).  all of those pretty turbines dotting the landscape around Beijing for the Olympics? not in operation or hooked to a grid.  however, because of this government subsidy, china has three of the fastest growing wind turbine producers in the world and all three are in the top ten.

~ the blades are key...it all happens with the blades as the energy is "captured" there.

~ the blades are also the primary brakes on a wind turbine, but there are, of course, backup brake systems. however, it's best for the turbine to change the pitch on the blades in order to stop them.

~ the colder it is, the more megawatts you can access, tho' the loads are greater (meaning it's harder on your turbine).

~ turbines constantly adjust themselves to face the wind optimally. even being 5° off equals a 10% loss in production. since the wind is constantly changing, so is the turbine.

~ denmark has 3,408MW of installed turbines. (the US leads with 35,159MW). on an average day, that produces 20% of denmark's electricity needs (far higher percentage than any other country in the world) and on a windy night, it produces 150% of denmark's electricity needs, enabling the utility to sell further into the european grid.

~ the accessible energy in the wind for a 3.2MW wind turbine in optimal wind conditions at optimal temperature (15°C, 4000m2 area with wind at 11 meters per second) is 59% (with three blades on the turbine).

~ there are actually wind atlases.

~ wind is free. and endlessly renewable.

i have so many ideas bubbling. a day filled with inspiration and and energy mainlined into my brain was precisely what i needed.

i'll leave you with this....

and because i can't resist....this:

Monday, August 30, 2010

thinking about language

i just read a really interesting piece in the new york times on language. it's from the magazine, so it's a long, deep article (yes, there ARE still some bright spots on the american media landscape).  it discusses gender in various languages and also how different languages express concepts like time (chinese doesn't have verb tenses, for example, so everything happens in the infinitive) and space (an aboriginal language that expresses all directions using north-south-east-west) and a really interesting study on the correlation between how color is expressed in certain languages and how it affects ability to see the color spectrum) i won't recount all of it here, but encourage you to go and read it.

but reading it was well-timed, as i was just telling husband that i just couldn't get used to the way that danish refers to animals as "it," and doesn't use she/he pronouns for them. so, when i'm talking to someone, say the vet or the horseshoer, they refer to our matilde as "it." and it never ceases to be a rather jarring experience for me, because our matilde is a girl and should be called "she" when we refer to her using a pronoun. i feel it as cold and heartless. but interestingly, in danish, to refer to a person as she or he in their presence, rather than using their name, is considered rude. whereas that's perfectly polite in english. i wonder what matilde makes of being called "it?"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

in which she ponders the waning years of the american empire

i've been pondering this post for awhile. and although gwen recently wrote it far better than i can, i still have to weigh in...you see, when i visited the land of my birth this summer, after 3+ years away, i was a little shocked at the state of things.

i had expected to see signs of a depressed economy and they were there in the little things...more weeds in the cracks on the roads, flaking paint on the light poles, a general sort of lack of road maintenance. but they weren't there in ways i expected them to be. everyone (in the upper midwest, at least) is still driving around in the most ginormous, ugly, ungainly and badly-designed vehicles i've had the misfortune to see in, well, about three and a half years. when i saw the dodges on the road, i tell you, i understood why the company was in trouble (but i wondered why anyone bothered to bail them out, since they clearly had made such bad business/design decisions that they deserved to go under). i know i've said this before, but the vehicles seriously look like tanks thinly disguised as cars. who needs a vehicle that large and bulky? and who can afford to keep them filled with gas, as they must get absolutely rubbish mileage?  so clearly the crisis hasn't been bad enough to drive anyone to consider downsizing to a more gas-economical vehicle.

and on the subject of cars, one of my facebook friends was recently lamenting how sad it was to own two cars and have both of them in the shop. i commented that she could have stopped after the first part of the sentence - as it strikes me as quite sad to be one person, living alone, and have two cars. while i appreciate that a single person cannot drive both of the cars at once, it is still a monumentally arrogant act to think that you are entitled to two cars. what if everyone in india and china felt that way too?

case in point
at the first snack village (my nephew's name for those gas stations with a mini(?) market) we stopped in i was a little taken aback that there was an entire wall filled with your basic jesus-related t-shirts. and just when i had filled my 42 oz. beverage (i wanted a small one, you see) and recovered my shock at the jesus shirts, i wandered into the pop tart aisle. seriously, like 10 feet of a shelf  devoted entirely to pop tarts, swathed in brightly-colored packaging. which brings me to the next shocking thing. people had noticeably gained weight since i was last in the country.  like more than just a few pounds. of course i'm not a twig myself, so i don't mean to point fingers, but this was bad.

and it leads me back to the pop tarts and to all of that packaged, processed food in general, which i'm sure is directly responsible for people looking the way they do. it's so unhealthy. and good odin, the bread, don't even get me started on the bread - husband's eye actually twitched on one occasion while eating a slice of it. the sorriest excuse for bread in the world, in fact, it should be labeled like the cheese is in the US - as a processed, pasteurized bread product and not actual bread. and although i know that most of my readers (at least until after this post) are US-based and most of you are concerned about buying fresh, local produce if you possibly can, it's obvious that the vast majority of people haven't caught onto that. at all. and it's really worrying (unless of course you are a drug company that makes insulin or own quite a lot of stock in one #silver lining). no wonder the US has health care-related issues.

it amazed me how little the whole locovore concept has reached the area where i grew up - which is kind of ironic in that it's agricultural country. i had a conversation with my mother, where she was cussing out the locally-produced eggs available in the grocery store, as although they said "large," they weren't large at all in her eyes. she came home triumphant one day, happy that the store had gotten some imported-across-several-states "jumbo" eggs instead of those dreaded local ones. i asked her if she thought about food miles on those eggs and she looked at me blankly. which is weird because she is otherwise quite a fan of barbara kingsolver.

another worrying trend was the amount of religious fundamentalist billboards. so many that it actually began to seem menacing. somewhere south of sioux city, iowa on I-29, husband and i looked uneasily at one another as we passed a stark white billboard with somber black text reading, "are you ready to meet your god?" there was an exit coming up and we glanced at the children in the backseat, wondering if we'd have to somehow defend them from snipers, the billboard seemed so threatening.

now, having grown up in a town with 12 churches, i knew that there was a religiosity in the US, so i'm not saying that it's new, but it struck me that it's become so much more aggressive. it used to be ok to just quietly be your religion, but now it seems that you must display your christianity (because that seemed also to be the only option) much more visibly. of course, i also realize that freedom of religion is one of the basic tenets of what it means to be american. however, i'm not longer sure it would be ok to be a religion other than evangelical christian. not if you judge by the roadside advertising and the lit-up ticker-style signs on all the churches in every little town in the upper midwest. it's undoubtedly different on the coasts and in larger cities, but this is the heartland. and it's worth taking the pulse there to see what's really happening.

but perhaps the most shocking experience of all was listening to the "news." for one, there's scarcely any news it in anymore...just a poorly-argued string of predictions as to the demise of this or that politician or hollywood star. it seemed that there's no reporting on what actually happened or real analysis of it, but just a lot of shouting by heavily-made up, coiffed people who may at one time have been involved with the miss america pageant. at least in south dakota, on the local news they still talk about the weather, but even that is a bunch of more or less wild predictions. 

it seems to me that americans are expending an awful lot of energy and resources protecting themselves from "enemies" - behind strident religious slogans, in shouting news-free opinion casts, in tank-like vehicles and underneath layers of fat. and i find it really worrying. and sad. and wonder if it doesn't look an awful lot like the waning years of the holy roman empire, only with evangelical preachers, fox news and reality television.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

turnabout is fairplay

well, it was bound to happen, after all those interviews, someone was going to want to interview me. bill, who you may remember as that guy from the minimum security lockup somewhere in the pacific northwest, sent me some questions. i have to confess that i was down to number 9 and when i pasted in the blok poem, i accidentally erased everything above it, losing more than a week of work and what were likely my best, most articulate words ever, thanks to an ill-timed blogger save. after lying down to make the minor heart attack pass, i managed to reconstruct it. naturally, i had to add a few pictures...but here's what i had to say:

* * *

Julie, I enjoyed participating in your Q and A experiment and I'm fascinated by your blog bravery to do an open request for interviews.  I don’t recall seeing it done before. So, a bit of turn about seems fair - here are 10 questions which I hope will enhance the blog portrait of who you are.

1. By birth you are a child of the American Prairie and, as an adult, you have lived many other places. Was there a moment when you understood the uniqueness of your heritage and what it means to have roots in the history of that region?

i think i spent a lot of years running away from being from a little town on the prairie. tho' i think i can honestly say i was never a redneck, i definitely know one when i see one from having dated grown up with them. the little town was very conservative and very religious (12 churches in a town of 1300) and i definitely fled that...first to southern california and then to the liberal environs of a big ten school.

i was fortunate to be raised by a liberal father - he always says he hopes that one day he has enough money to be a republican, but until then, he simply can't afford it - and a mother who showed me there was a world outside (by hauling me and my horse in a multi-state region every summer). i am very grateful for that, as that foundation definitely made me a person able to make her life in an small european country miles from the little town on the prairie.

i think that growing up on the prairie gave me an actual physical need for space around me. when you grow up there, in that flat landscape, with waving grasses as far as the eye can see to the horizon, you have an innate sense of space built in. i find that when i don't feel that space around me, i begin to feel cramped and tense.

i think i first became aware of what the source of the tension was in my first year in denmark. i was feeling out-of-sorts and generally uncomfortable and chalking it up to generally dreary weather, darkness and the coldness of the unwelcoming natives around me. then, i worked for a weekend in st. petersburg and i was walking down one of the wide streets of that beautiful city when i realized that all of that tension i had felt had melted away. and it hit me that i could palpably feel the vastness of russia around me and that i felt like i could breathe again. and it clicked for me in that moment that it was because i grew up on the wide-open prairie.

i think part of why we've moved to the countryside is because i'm drawn to that sense of space, but generally, i think my very being feels how small denmark is. there are only two places that feel physically as vast to me as the prairie where i grew up and that's russia and when i was out sailing on an LNG carrier. the sea, when it's calm, has that same vastness from you to the horizon that the prairie has. and i think that's the part that settled into my being from my roots on the prairies.
me at the foot of the divine sophia at ephesus (now sans fuzzes - thanks bill)
2. How do you see yourself? As a leader, follower, joiner, individualist, thinker, nurturer, experimenter, fighter, pacifist or whatever else one can be labeled?

any and all of those things at any given moment. but probably less of a leader, more of a follower, a bit too eager a joiner, a hesitant individualist, not much of a nurturer, a careful experimenter and too often a more of a fighter than i would like to think. but i can definitely say that i'm a thinker and have often been accused of over-thinking. blogging actually lends itself very well to that - i can't count the times i've started off with "i've been thinking about...." but i think (see, there is is again) the one of those things no one would call me is a pacifist. that's not to say that i am in favor of war, as i don't think i mean pacifist in that sense. i'm just not very passive. i'm too impatient for that. i guess i'd like labels like worldly, smart and funny. those i could live with.

gratuitous shot of our wegner Y chairs
3. Hypothetical question. You walk into a cafe and immediately notice people waving to you. On one side of the room sits Søren Kierkegaard, Simone de Beauvoir and Fyodor Dostoyevsky and they’re gesturing for you to join them. Simultaneously, on the other side of the room, Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen and Børge Mogensen are also inviting you to sit with them. Where do you go and why?

my initial reaction is to say søren, simone and fyodor, if only because i wonder what the three of them are doing together, but only if we sit in wegner's Y chairs or arne's egg, as they lend themselves beautifully to good conversation. but on second thought, i think kierkegaard's angst, de beauvoir's militant feminism and dostoevsky's religiousness would probably end up irritating the hell out of me (not to mention that i'm not sure they could stand one another), so let's go with wegner, jacobsen and mogensen, but we'll hope that poul henningsen and piet hein drop by as well.

here's a little sample of why we'd like to hang out with piet:


Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
but nothing
compared to the pain,
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
and finding
the first one again.

4. You’ve stated your interest in different crafts - paper, cloth, weaving and such. Additionally, you have a well written blog that's both intelligent and personal. I understand the time restraints involved but have you considered taking the next steps and moving from craftsperson to artist?

"don't mention the war...i think i mentioned it once, but got away with it...." -- basil fawlty

seriously, i think about this all. the. time. i even scribble down business plans and such. but it's plain and simple fear that holds me back. i'm afraid not to know how much my paycheck will be every month (you also, by my stage, have achieved such a ridiculous monthly salary that you are loathe to give it up)  i'm afraid to turn something that's fun into something i have to do. and those fears paralyze me. one of the reasons we moved to the countryside was to simplify and try to prepare our life for me taking that step, so perhaps i'll get there yet.

interesting fashion choices at legoland
5. From your photographs it's easy to see you have a keen eye but there's also some reserve or conservatism. Your photos rarely include people, especially people looking towards the camera (other than family and friends). Why is that and do you think composed object shots are good enough?

ever since i moved to denmark more than a decade ago, i have had to face again and again that i am more conservative than i'd like to think i am with my liberal arts education and liberal father (he once tacked on an amendment to a bill to make the fence post the state tree of south dakota - it was a tongue-in-cheek attempt to point out the absurdity of the bill in the first place, but seriously, no republican would have that kind of sense of humor). so my not taking photos of people is partially this conservatism, but it's also got more to do with shyness than you might imagine. especially of taking photos of people in public. as far as my family goes, every time i try to make them sit for a photo, we all end up frustrated and the photos are artificial. i'd much rather catch them from the side or in an unguarded moment than do actual portraits of them. i think the good portraits i have taken were all ones i just caught and not ones we posed.

edit: i realized i didn't answer the last part about composed object shots (i blame losing my original text. *sigh*). i will say that i've learned a great deal from doing my composed object shots. i've learned about light and shadow and how you often only notice things when you get them onto the computer. i've also learned about how you can achieve a rather different feel through processing that wasn't there originally and completely change the shot. plus, the rocks sit still and don't argue with me. but i will agree that part of the stagnation with my photography that i'm feeling at the moment is undoubtedly because you can only go so far with composed objects and then no farther. i think it's why i've been drawn to landscapes of late (which is also because we have a lake)...they give me something new but still without the people. i'm going to have to ponder a bit more about why i don't like taking people shots, i'm not quite to the bottom of that yet, all i know is that i've never liked it. i even had a friend back in macedonia who used to walk up to old ladies and ask them if she could photograph them all the time and it just totally made me cringe with embarrassment, tho' i admit she got some great shots.

6. Here’s another hypothetical question. You're dead and there’s a memorial stone (large beach pebble?) commemorating your life. On that stone is a button and anyone can walk up to it and push it. When the button is pushed, music is heard. What music do you choose to be heard?

the song that came immediately to mind is sheryl crow's all i wanna do. i'm not sure if that's deep or pathetic. the second song is madonna's express yourself. i'm a 90s girl, what can i say? i wish it was deeper or even more musical than that, but there you have it.

7. It’s summer and you’ve decided to take a hike. At the trail head there are two choices: One is a walk through a valley with lush meadows filled with flowers and birds. The other one winds under a forest canopy with occasional streams, small waterfalls and ultimately reaches tree line and there's mountains with scenic views? Which path do you take?

i'll go with the meadows. again, i think it's the prairie heritage. i think mountains are beautiful, but i don't have a need for them like i do wide-open spaces. denmark has nice forests to go for a walk in and i do love to try to find mushrooms and i enjoy the forest, but meadows, with the rustle of grass in the breeze, they just calm me. tho' i have also learned to love a harsh beach - not the kind where you laze about in the sun, but the kind where you need your rubber boots, a scarf and a warm jacket and you can't hear yourself talk because the waves are pounding on the shore with such force and the wind is really blowing. those can clear my head and calm me too (but that wasn't really part of the question, was it?)

8. Judging from your blog(s) you never sleep. With job, family and new property and house, how do you juggle what you do? Do you devote a particular amount of time to each of your endeavors? Or is it more spontaneous?

totally spontaneous. and i'm a night owl. i stay up too late every night, tho' by thursday i'm usually really tired and i go to sleep at a reasonable time that one night a week. i watch very little t.v. and if i do watch t.v., i'm always attempting to knit or stitch or paint feathers on stones while i do it. i also never put away the laundry and husband does the dishes. and the ironing (except the tea towels, i iron the tea towels). it's the beauty of being married to a dane - the males of the species are completely domesticated. that's part of why he's a keeper.

9. What great or memorable past experience would you like to re-experience?

two things come to mind, one is a train ride in the balkans in the summer of 1997. the temperature was perfect, the wind coming in through the windows of the train was perfect. i was wearing my favorite dress. the landscape outside the train featured ruins and farms where they were still using horse-drawn implements. i don't think i ever felt more alive before or since that night. i would love to experience that again.

and the other isn't really something i've experienced myself unless you believe in reincarnation. i've mentioned before that i'd like to have lived in 1913 - to have experienced the creativity and change that was in the air, especially in russia, in that era.  to hang out with the symbolists, the intense creativity of those involved in the ballets russes, the dramas, the salons, the whole aura of that milieu just appeal so much. even in denmark, at that time, asta nielsen was becoming the world's first film star with her abyss. it was such a dynamic, sweeping time. i would love to have been part of it. somehow blok's the stranger (neznakomka), tho' it was written a bit before 1913, captures it for me.

 The Stranger

The restaurants on hot spring evenings
Lie under a dense and savage air.
Foul drafts and hoots from dunken revelers
Contaminate the thoroughfare.
Above the dusty lanes of suburbia
Above the tedium of bungalows
A pretzel sign begilds a bakery
And children screech fortissimo.

And every evening beyond the barriers
Gentlemen of practiced wit and charm
Go strolling beside the drainage ditches --
A tilted derby and a lady at the arm.

The squeak of oarlocks comes over the lake water
A woman's shriek assaults the ear
While above, in the sky, inured to everything,
The moon looks on with a mindless leer.

And every evening my one companion
Sits here, reflected in my glass.
Like me, he has drunk of bitter mysteries.
Like me, he is broken, dulled, downcast.

The sleepy lackeys stand beside tables
Waiting for the night to pass
And tipplers with the eyes of rabbits
Cry out: "In vino veritas!"

And every evening (or am I imagining?)
Exactly at the appointed time
A girl's slim figure, silk raimented,
Glides past the window's mist and grime.

And slowly passing throught the revelers,
Unaccompanied, always alone,
Exuding mists and secret fragrances,
She sits at the table that is her own.

Something ancient, something legendary
Surrounds her presence in the room,
Her narrow hand, her silk, her bracelets,
Her hat, the rings, the ostrich plume.

Entranced by her presence, near and enigmatic,
I gaze through the dark of her lowered veil
And I behold an enchanted shoreline
And enchanted distances, far and pale.

I am made a guardian of the higher mysteries,
Someone's sun is entrusted to my control.
Tart wine has pierced the last convolution
of my labyrinthine soul.

And now the drooping plumes of ostriches
Asway in my brain droop slowly lower
And two eyes, limpid, blue, and fathomless
Are blooming on a distant shore.

Inside my soul a treasure is buried.
The key is mine and only mine.
How right you are, you drunken monster!
I know: the truth is in the wine.

-alexander blok

10. I said there would be no food questions, I lied. Can a guy get a really good Mexican burrito in Denmark?

you most definitely cannot. way, way, way too far from mexico. and there's a totally insufficient influx of mexican immigrants. and the danes don't realize it's just wrong to put creme fraiche in the guacamole.

* * *

thank you, bill, for these questions. since you sent them, i've been pondering that interaction between kierkegaard and dostoevsky and trying to figure out why i never take pictures of people. so you made me think and that's really the best thing one can ask. do be sure to visit bill's blog - just a moment of miscellany, he'll undoubtedly make you think too. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

family heirlooms

when i was home over the summer, i rummaged around in my parents' basement and found a treasure trove. a whole stack of finished quilts and half a dozen quilt tops which were sewn by hand by my great grandmother back in the 40s. mom says she remembers her grandma annie, who was ill and in bed at the time, sitting with stacks of squares, hexagons and also those beautiful yoyos (which i showed previously), just sewing away all day. now that's something i could get into - hanging out in bed (read: wearing pajamas)and sewing all day.

double wedding ring in purple - this one is my favorite (other than the yoyo)
i think what surprises me most is how vibrant, fresh and modern these are for being 70-80 years old. the fabrics my great grandmother chose would be something i would choose myself today. i believe it's a mix of flour sacks, old clothing and new fabrics (new in her time, of course). i think it proves that quilting is somehow timeless.

i remember using this one as a child and there are some frayed bits here and there that show its been loved.
it's also a bit more faded than the others.
i can see that there is a big difference between these, which are all hand-stitched and hand-quilted and the quilts i've made by machine today. i'm not sure that what i've done are heirlooms in the same sense as these are. i think my impatience enters into the picture and i want to quickly see a result. i need to learn from these to take my time. it certainly appears that it's worth it in the end.
hexagons - this one unfortunately has been up against a rusty grate and has some rust stains on it.
it's also been used and the edges are quite frayed. my grandmother must have used it.
i don't think i'll be going to quite the same level of detail on the bindings i tackle as the one on this hexagon quilt. and the binding is actually a bit frayed and needs replacing. but for me, binding is always the biggest challenge. i have a number of quilts which are "finished" except for the binding, which i guess means they're not finished at all.

what i'd love to know is whether my great grandmother did the quilting herself or if she had a group of ladies who got together and did the quilting. and how on earth, once she was bed-ridden, did she lay out these beautiful patterns? was it all just in her head and she pulled one square from one stack and one from another and sewed it as she went along - that's what my mother remembers. mom also remembers that her aunt had some of them quilted by a local quilting group, so it may be that my grandmother didn't do the finished quilting on all of these herself. they're large - at least queen-sized, all of them, so i think quilting would have been difficult without a frame of some sort.

in any case, i'm really happy to have them in my home and it makes me so happy to be using them. i'm pondering how to tackle the three finished tops i brought back as well - i simply must quilt them by hand to do honor to my great grandmother's work. but that seems a bit of a daunting job. maybe i can find a way to marry 20th and 21st centuries, but i'm still pondering that.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

in the glen

down at the bottom of our pasture is a lake (i may have mentioned it before, mostly on flickr). husband and i were exploring a couple of weeks ago and we found a beautiful little glen. it was a sunny, beautiful day, with sunshine peeking through the trees, but i found the glen so deliciously hushed and mysterious.

there was a feeling there of waiting. like the place was holding its breath expectantly, as if something was about to happen.

yet at the same time, it felt like it could wait eternally. like if that something didn't happen exactly then, at that moment, that was ok too. it could wait.

the air felt heavy with a kind of magic. i half expected a faun to step out from behind a tree and invite me home to tea, ala the lion, the witch and the wardrobe. and i more than half hoped that would happen.

it's a special place, like a portal to a secret world. or at the very least, a place where some sort of natural magic is more concentrated than in other places. hidden, waiting, patient and deep and calm. oh so very calm. and oh so impossible to convey in pictures.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

cameras have to earn their keep

i already showed this camera on flickr, but i realized i hadn't really written about it. i got it in an awesome little antique mall in tea, south dakota on our holiday. it's so cute with its brown bakelite body, i just couldn't resist it. and that flash, how cool is that? plus, it was only $12 and a couple of days later i saw the exact same one in worse shape for $53 in another antique mall, so it was also a steal. (either that or antique prices are totally arbitrary, which is undoubtedly the subject of another post.)

i have recently instituted a policy that all of the cameras around here need to earn their keep, so i began to scour eBay for some 127 film, which they stopped making in the mid-90s and which hardly anywhere processes anymore (i found a shop in CPH, don't worry). i decided it would be worth it to try it out. and although i loathe eBay for being incredibly amero-centric, i located, bid, sweated, bid some more, and finally won several rolls and they have arrived (i hereby thank the people of wisconsin for hoarding old film in their drawers).

the oldest ones expired in 1949 and the rest are from various dates in the 1960s. and i can't wait to try them out! this is going to be so much fun.

the first camera to have to earn its keep was my 1938 argus AF. i loaded it with 100ISO expired fujichrome film and snapped away in the garden. then, i had it cross processed (for those who might not remember, that means processing slide film in ordinary chemicals for negatives - it can produce some funky colors, especially with expired film). only a few of the photos turned out (i'm not sure why) - i did have some challenges in loading it and i actually broke the film trying to advance it (user error, not the camera).

i scanned the negatives in my photo scanner, but these are untouched otherwise, they're just as they came out of the camera.

i've got it loaded again and this time sabin took most of the roll. it's going to be interesting to see what happens. i can't help but think about all of the photos this camera has taken over the years and the scenes it has seen. and it also has a lovely bakelite body in a bit more of an art deco style (but i know from the serial number that it's from 1938).

all this talk about cameras has me thinking about some of the exciting things kristina and i are planning for across ø/öresund. stay turned for more on that. we've had a summer break and are going to be back soon with loads of new ideas and some really cool pictures from our first film swap film.

just listed - a limited number of feather stones

feather stones now up

i've just listed a few feather stones in my big cartel shop. don't worry, i've also saved a few to put back on the beach the next time we go. and remember, you can also win what is quite possibly the best one by leaving a comment on this post over at se'lah's place.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

silver lining

so i have to 'fess up. yesterday, i accidentally came across a picture of my ex-husband on facebook. and by accidentally, i really do mean accidentally.  well sort of. you see, i'm friends with a friend of his sister, because she once visited denmark and we spent some time hanging out (read: bought shoes and rode bikes and tried to meet russian gazillionaires with their own yachts...but i digress). well, she had this "happy birthday" thing to a whole list of people and one of them had the last name of my ex. and it occurred to me that the first name was of my ex's now-wife. so i clicked. sue me. i was curious. i'm human. and don't even tell me you wouldn't have too. because i know you.

well, of course much of her profile was not visible to me since we are not friends (on facebook or in reality - tho' really, who knows what reality is...again with the digression). however, her profile picture was visible. and it was a picture of her, looking quite happy with my ex-now-her husband. which i think is fabulous. i do sincerely hope the man is happy.  he was a nice guy, just not the right guy for me (note to self: do not ever marry a doctor just so you don't have to explain to your family why you're studying russian literature.) (second note to self: stop with the digressions already.)

and since i know you're all dying to know...i can tell you that the years have NOT been kind. in fact, they've been so unkind that i had to go back, reopen it and show husband when he got home. (you know, the keeper husband, who had once gone to a sauna built by finns on a swedish observation post on the macedonia-kosovo border together with the ex and was thus familiar with his, ahem, appearance).  the poor man (the ex-, not the keeper) has a receding hairline, sagging yet strangely chubby cheeks and a stomach that looks like a misplaced fat-suit pillow.  and i could see that his choice in casualwear was still dismal at best...a white tank top under a sheer white, not-tucked-in short-sleeved button shirt worn over khaki shorts? apparently all the training i did on that man didn't stick. 7 years of it. *sighs heavily* (even after all this time.)

so the silver lining of the title? since couples have a tendency to grow to look more and more alike over the years, i am quite pleased my life didn't take me down that particular path.

not buying it? ok, i admit it, i just wanted to use the rainbow picture i snapped on my way to work this morning....but the rest of it is all true.

* * *

p.s. if you want to win a feather stone, go here.

finding balance

trinsch is right, it's totally therapeutic drawing feathers. during about a week without internet (ok, five and a half days, but still), i found myself painting a lot of them. the problem is that these little feathers just leap out onto the stone and i'm done with them so quickly, so i have to paint another one.  soon we'll have to return to the beach for more stones.

something just appeals about this juxtaposition - light and heavy, delicate and solid, cool and warmth. i think somehow it's about balance, finding harmony. i have one that i haven't photographed yet. i did it in teal and black on a rather dark stone, modeled on a feather we found in singapore last summer. and i've been carrying that one in my pocket. feeling the cool smoothness and the reassuring weight of it in my pocket when it all gets to be too much. i think the stones remind me of the weightier things...of what's important and the feathers remind me to take things more lightly, to float above it all. and the two together help me remember to try to keep it in balance. good reminders and exactly what i'm needing at the moment.

interesting how you find your way to these things exactly when you need them.

* * *

i've done up quite a few of these and tho' i thought about putting them back on the beach,
i will be putting a few of them in my big cartel shop later this week.
as soon as the sun returns and i can get proper pictures.

little reminders about balance.
to carry in your pocket.

Monday, August 23, 2010

a new dawn

235:365 golden autumn morning

i find myself increasingly bewildered by the corporate landscape in which i find myself these days. i remember when i first entered corporate life a decade ago, i was struck by how much more postmodern it was than i expected it to be. virtual teams and dotted reporting lines were far more removed from reality than i had expected. from the warm cocoon of my graduate studies, i thought somehow business was all about reality and the postmodern social and literary theory i had studied would be of no use to me. oh how i little i knew...

but now i have entered a world where things are ever more protracted from reality: forms without purpose, incomprehensible and ever-changing organizational charts, IT systems where apparently no one considered that actual humans might be using them, and a language that is ostensibly english, but at the same time not and don't even get me started about people crying in meetings. i find myself in this web of artificial structures held up by thin air. and i wonder when it will all come crashing down and what that will look like and whether i'll be able to stand clear of the rubble.

but then, i get up in the morning and i look out upon a world where dew glitters in the light of the rising sun and i realize that the webs that matter are there, in the garden, glowing in the morning light, constructed by spiders which had a purpose in doing so. and somehow, i can face the week.

the tangled web we weave

Sunday, August 22, 2010

drowned broadband cables

231:365 beginning to be a bit obsessed

we had a horrible rain storm last wednesday and it washed out our broadband cable. they said it would be fixed by friday, but if this scheduled post goes up on sunday evening, it wasn't. oh well, it's probably best for me to have a bit of analog time. don't you love my latest obsession? painting feathers on stones (thank you, trinsch for the idea). and even better that i could pose it fetchingly on my great grandmother's quilt so that it looks like an eye! this particular one is for a very special purpose. shhh, don't tell.

oh and don't you love the new iPhone photo app i found? it's called CrossProcess. go and get it my iPhone lovelies. it's great!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

an interview with gwen of not really (the final interview - for now)

i think that gwen's is the perfect interview to end my interview series (for now)...she's funny, she swears (kind of a lot), she's smart, erudite, she mentions sartre,  and i think i might be a little bit in love with her on some level that's probably neither healthy nor something we want to delve too deeply into. and i think her answers have given me a push back to my bloggy self...read on and you'll see why:

1. what WOULD jesus do?

it's 7 am, i've been awake since 4, have spent the last 5 weeks traveling from one bed to another, packed and unpacked and packed again. what jesus SHOULD do is let me take a fucking nap.

no, really. i have to believe that nothing would horrify jesus more than the modern evangelical spectacle that bears his name. so much law. so little grace. i heard a high school classmate say once, glancing sideways at me, that if we could really see the world as god sees it, we would ache for the lostness of mankind. only someone who grew up in the tiny world of fundamental evangelical christianity might understand why i wanted to punch him in his fucking face after he said that. because the subtext is that he, this guy, can see the heart of mankind, too, can appreciate its lostness, can appreciate MY lostness, more than you and me, because he is closer to god. and if there's one thing i know after more than 40 years on this carousel, it's that i don't know one fucking thing about the secret hearts of others.  we are all mysteries, most especially to ourselves.

i think the most reprehensible aspect of modern evangelical christianity is its lack of love. of inclusiveness engendered by love. its proponents--the loud, public ones anyway--like to point to jesus in the temple, clearing out the corruption with his whip and his righteous anger, want to use that as a defense for their own judgments. but there are several things wrong with this position: first, these people are not, as far as i can tell, jesus. and they are the very people jesus--the guy who hung with the hookers and lepers and societal scrubs--would have taken his whip to.

what would jesus do? become a buddhist.

(for the record, most of the coolest people i know are the very ones who were raised by crazy christians. so. jesus must be up to something worthwhile, however inadvertently.)

2. when you want to run away, where you do go (and please don't say you actually run, because i might have to crush your skull)?

i go for a run. dude. i live in switzerland. it's kind of beautiful to run here.


i find a yoga class. that better?

i lose myself in a book, or in thinking about some esoteric concern. i write--loopy posts never to be published, long e-mails to my far-flung friends. i read a poem again and again. i wander through one of zurich's art museum. i bake. i plan my next (theoretical) vacation (turkey, stay alive, no matter what occurs. i will find you.)  i try some new complex recipe that my ill-equipped swiss kitchen cannot possibly handle. i grip the wheel of the car really tightly and keep it pointed straight and steady on the road. i phone a friend.

i go for a run.

3. do you feel like a good parent?

does anyone feel like a good parent? how can we? the task is too enormous and we are too weak. if i can figure out how to love my kids the way THEY need to be loved, not the way i want to love them, i'll feel like i haven't entirely failed. i have pretty polite, well-behaved kids. i also have cool, dorky, irritating, creative, cracked, funny, frightened, adaptable, darling, horrible, astonishing kids. how much of that do i get credit for? how much is a lucky accident? how much can i blame on their father? mostly i worry, oh how i worry, that i will turn into my mother, that it's genetically inevitable. someone please destroy me before that happens.

4. kirk or picard?

huh? you realize i didn't grow up in the united states. are we talking star trek? star wars? starship troopers? fuck. picard? he's got the accent, right? yeah. picard.

5. i know you have an iPhone, but do you have a Mac?

i'm typing on my mac book right this very minute. does that count? or does it have to be big and impressive and solidly moored to a desk-like furniture item?

6. so are you coming to blog camp berlin or what?

absofuckinglutely. i hope all you seasoned internationalists can tolerate the newb. "Ich bin ein Berliner." (i just lost fabulous points right there, didn't i?)

7. in connection with that...limoncello or jagermeister?

jagermeister makes me think of a crew-cut woman in an ill-fitting khaki surplus blouse with enormous biceps who barks at me "vere ahr yohr paypahrs?" so, uh, limoncello, please.  straight from the freezer. can i have one right now?

8. so is blogher all it's cracked up to be?

funny. i'm writing this as i fly to blogher, and i wonder what the fuck i'm doing. i cherish the friends i've made from this medium, but the whole SQUEEBLOGHERSHOESSQUEE zeitgeist is, yeah. no. but then i didn't join a sorority for a reason. i think blogher brings out the worst in most people and is actually really really bad for women. but ask me again when it's all over.

(blogher is now over, and i can say definitively that is completely fucking stupid. and i had a fantastic time at it. go fig.)

9. if you could assemble the perfect A-list blogger chick lunch, who would you invite?

what qualifies someone for a-list status?  do you know? i'm not even sure the pool from which i'm allowed to pick.  there were a bunch of women crowded on a couch at the last party at blogher, looking like a washed-up, sagging version of a hollywood hottie party. were they a-list? because if they were, those tedious a-list slags cannot come to my perfect chick lunch.  they are dead dull, and i loathe nothing more than being un-amused. on to the true coolios, then: the on-line peeps i want to know better--Jen, Juli, Mary, Britt, Anna, Sue, Thordora, Bon, Suebob, Amanda, Nadine, Kat. For starters.

10. do you ever think that maybe there is indeed a hell and we're already in it?

nope. there's no hell, not even the kind that grumpy little Sartre postulated, and we're not in it now. this life--as fraught as it is--is too jagged with beauty to truly be hell. it's all we've got, man. there's nothing on the other side.  better find a way to love it while you have it.

* * *
it kinda freaks me out that i only recognize one single blogger on gwen's a-list.
and it freaks me out even more to realize just how much i've lost my edge.
i need to be edgy again.
what the hell happened to me?

thank you gwen, for being brilliant and articulate and edgy.
i really needed that.

and i'm sending a whole bottle of limoncello your way.
or at least bringing one to berlin.

* * *

there are some questions still out there and i will post those as they come in (hint, hint).

* * *

i know there are a whole group of you who asked for questions and never got them
(you're the "no-reply blogger" comments, which made it harder.)
i will be doing this again, but it's time for a break.
but you never know when questions just might pop into your in-box, so hang in there.
a big thank you to all who were interviewed and wanted to be interviewed.
you gave me back my mojo.

* * *

"i loathe nothing more than being unamused." - that's priceless, just priceless.

Friday, August 20, 2010

an interview with liz of the fragrant muse

Liz is my source of fragrant inspiration - i learned of clary sage from her and of the healing powers of tea tree and of how to be centered by lavender. i credit all of the times i got into creative flow in the past year or so to her fabulous clary sage, it's my one essential can't-live-without oil. here's what she had to say in response to my questions...

1. when i'm home all alone, i...

Bathe in decadent selfishness: I listen to audiobooks (always mysteries), work in my art journal, spend hours pouring over blogs and websites of creative women who inspire me, eat ice cream. Not necessarily in that order.

2. your top three ultimate must-have essential oils. if you could have no others, it would be these.

Only three? The very idea makes me dizzy.l But okay, I'll play. I surely couldn't live without Clary Sage for her deep emotional and creative support. Bergamot is a must have because I never ever, ever, ever, ever get tired of her aroma and she calms my anxiety. I couldn't live without Tea Tree for her sheer medicinal value. Then (when no one's looking) I'd slip in Vetiver for stablility and grounding.

3. anything you would go back and do over?

In 1991 my hair was reallllly long when I impulsively cut it pixie short. Imagine my tresses now if I'd left them alone!

4. where do you go when you need to unwind?

Anyplace near water, especially the beach. My Moon in Cancer demands water to soothe my high strung nature. And I love shrimp.

5. what do you miss most about italy?

The abundance of style, elegance and class, from furnishings to food to how people dress every day. Americans have taken "disposable", "practical" and "casual" to terrifying depths.

6. the best thing about being your own boss?

Being a control freak, I love that I get to do everything my own way.

7. the worst thing about being your own boss?

I have to do things the way I've decided with no one else to blame!

8. if people disappoint you, do you say something to them?

Depends on the person. If I really care about the relationship then yes, I will be candid. Otherwise, I let it go and move on, unfortunately, I usually move on from that person, too..

9. have you grown more patient over the years?

My family and I probably have differing opinions on this one. However, yes, I believe I have. Being patient is really about letting go of expectations of how things should be. This has been a huge lesson for me because I like to be in control. My worst impatience used to be waiting in a supermarket checkout line. Now, when the line is slow, I grab the most expensive magazine and calmly read it cover to cover with no intention of paying for it. I feel in control and get great fashion tips. Yeah, it's petty, but it works.

10. life is too short to...Leave your passions unexplored!

* * *

thank you, liz, for playing along with my interview game! i'm off to douse myself in clary sage and paint some more feather stones. (i have to credit trinsch for the inspiration on those.)

i'm closing in on the end of this round of interviews.
if you didn't get questions from me, i'm really sorry.
i will do this again soon and those of you who asked this time will be first on the list.
i got a little overwhelmed by more than 50 requests, i admit!

an interview with miss malorie of consider me something of a miscreant...

when i read miss malorie's answers, i realized i must have been in a rather bad mood when i wrote her questions, as many of them are related to angry chicks and corporate hell. hmmm... but i loved her answers and i hope you will too:

1. when they make the movie about you, who will play you?

 Hmmmm... excellent question. If I was a tall white woman instead of a tall black woman, Julia Roberts would play me. Back in her Pretty Woman days when she had that amazing, long, curly red hair. Hmmm... Angela Bassett is fierce; I would love her to play me. If I was a man, it would have to be a mix of Scarface Al Pacino and The Godfather Pt. II Al Pacino. Sorry, that was approximately 3.75 answers to one question.

2. original star trek, next generation or deep space 9 or none of the above?

 Oh dear, none of the above. I was a Twilight Zone kid. Space never quite fascinated me the same way other dimensions did.

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

 Just because it would be my dream, a pearly white BMW 330 Ci (convertible) with white leather and straw interior. I was just out last night, and I saw the perfect summer purse--made from straw with white leather. I think that looks so classy. I would be a BMW because every time I see one, I stop what I'm doing and watch it work. I would like to think that I'm a headturner... not just in the literal sense, either.

4. when you're in an incredibly pissy mood, who do you take it out on and how?

 Usually every inanimate object in my path (I lightly kicked my computer once. Maybe more than once.) and every stupid driver on the road. I curse them out in my car. They don't hear me. Sometimes, I take it out on people also. I try not to let it get to that, but if it does, it's reflected via my verbal and non-verbal communication. (My infamous facial expressions, very curt sentences, etc.)

I try not to get pissy often... I'm generally irritated quite often, but I don't like being pissy.

5. your go-to angry chick music when you're feeling like an angry chick?

 Hmmm... anything with strong (i.e. content wise/emotionally speaking, etc.) lyrics and/or artfully placed expletives. One album I can think of off the top of my head is Avril Lavigne's first album, actually. Super light on the expletives, but the heavy guitars and melodies (and screaming, at times) help. When I'm mad, it helps to know that someone out there in the world was as mad as I am.

6. would you allow yourself to be bogged down in corporate hell?


Period point blank, no. I can't work in an office without wanting to launch myself out of the window. I have worked in recreation forever (meaning: with kids) and the flexibility is something that really works for me. It's spoiled me, quite frankly. But I knew I was never going into the corporate landscape way before my time in recreation. When I was 15, out of horror, I made a promise to myself that I would never work in a cubicle. (I thought often about ending up in a recliner, realizing that life had passed me by. Hence, the horror.)

7. if you were going to run away, where would you go?

 To the state of delirious happiness.

8. random fact?

 I am not who you think I am.

* * *

thank you, miss malorie, for playing along, even tho' all of my questions for you were about my bad day.
i would love to come along for the ride to delirious happiness, please! :-)

and you know what?
i'm not who you think i am either.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

an interview with megan of running wild

megan runs marathons. and usually, something like that would mean that we have nothing in common and so our paths would never cross. but, being a runner, she's also got feet, which meant she was a shoe-in for being part of the shoe per diem project(pun intended). :-) actually, back when i first got acquainted with her, she was known as OP - the optimistic pessimist. and i always thought that was a very clever bloggy name. but anyway, on to her interview. being both horrified and fascinated by runners (especially after reading murakami's what i talk about when i talk about running), i had to ask her about that. and she scores extra points for actually mentioning him!

1. you are a running madwoman, what drives you to do it, even if no one is chasing you?

At first I was driven to run just to see if I could do it. I can’t really say that I liked it all that much and at some points I hated it. After my marathon, something just clicked; it was one of the most soul-searching times of my life.

Now I’m driven to run for two reasons:

#1 – Physically, I have to.
Not running isn’t an option. My body is used to running and when it doesn’t get taken out for a run it gets antsy. I often tell people I’m like a dog that needs to be walked. If I don’t get out for a few runs in the week I physically feel bad and pace around a lot.

#2 – Find my center, emotional stability, inspiration.
Running has allowed me to reach a level of peace and calmness that I never thought possible. All day long I’m a mother, a daughter, a friend, an employee, a student…I’m somebody’s something. Running is for me, it’s mine. It’s my time to purge and process all that’s happening in my life. I have the best ideas when I run. I’ve often thought about taking a piece of paper and pen with me as my thoughts aren’t always as clear after the run. At some point it became less about the exercise and more about feeling inspired. In a way, running is my art.

2. if you were going to run away, where would you go? and would you literally run?

Currently, if I were to run away I’d go to Hawaii. My running partner is going there tomorrow and I miss her already, AND that’s where Haruki Murakami wrote some of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – an inspirational book for anyone, even non-runners. There were times where I just kept chuckling to myself and nodding my head in agreement while reading this book. I’d love to channel Haruki while running on the beaches of Hawaii.

Would I run there? Of course not! I’m not exactly known for my light packing skills. That and the whole issue of the ocean.

3. the best thing about 9-year-old boys?

What isn’t great about 9-year-old boys? Their views on life, food, and bugs. Nine is by far my favorite age to date. He’s independent enough to do his own thing, but still loves spending time with me.

One of the things I love most about him is his innovativeness. His way of exploring and trying new things never ceases to amaze me. I often wonder if we put 9-year-olds in charge of world issues if they could do a better job than those currently in power. Sure this would result in entire towns made out of marshmallows, lego sculptures in every city, and mandatory weekly nerf gun exercises, but hey, we’d have world peace.

4. the worst thing about 9-year-old boys?

Laundry time. Ughhh. Yuck. I’m seriously contemplating starting to wearing gloves. It’s something new and unusual every week. Although, I must admit I do get a kick out of wondering what would inspire him to put what he puts in his pockets. What must be going through his head at that very moment. I have yet to find a living creature, but it’s only a matter of time.

5. iPhone or blackberry?

iPhone – a no brainer. Just yesterday my neighbor had a confused look on her face starring at her blackberry. She said she’s had it for a week and can’t figure the thing out. She was planning on watching the CD to help her figure out how to use it. As I struggled to understand her woes, I caressed my iPhone and thought about my first week with it. There was no figuring it out or watching of a CD. It was completely intuitive. I shudder to think of having anything other than an iPhone at this point in my life.

6. your wine of choice?

Inspiration Red from the Imagine Moore Winery in New York. Ménage a Trois

7. what's your starbucks drink of choice?

Carmel Frappucino

8. your guilty pleasures?

Starbucks, sea salt & vinegar potato chips, going to a movie in the middle of the day on a weekday, chinese food in bed on a rainy day, The Real World....the list just goes on and on.

9. your life philosophy in one sentence?

Keep moving, no matter what – mentally and physically.

Seriously – if you become stagnant why bother? No matter how tough stuff gets if you keep moving forward, things will get better.

10. what child-like traits do you retain despite ostensibly being an adult?

Lying in the grass, watching the clouds for hours.
Giggling at words that sound dirty, but aren’t....caulk anyone?

* * *

thank you, megan, for answering a few of my questions.
but damn you for making me think running might be a good idea...

go check out megan's blog and stop by to see what shoes she was wearing today.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

an interview with lisa-marie of this girl is...

there was a time a couple of years ago when we considered moving to scotland and if we had, i can tell you that i'd be hanging out with lisa-marie. not only does she share the name of elvis' daughter, she can cook, she reads lots of books and she makes pretty things. and she asked me to interview her - i jumped at the chance because i wanted to finally get to the bottom of that thing with the kilts. here's what she had to say...

1. tell us a little-known fact about Scotland.

The kilt, considered by most people to be the traditional Scottish
dress, Is actually only the traditional dress of the Highlands. It's
common now for men all over Scotland to wear them for special
occasions, but in the time that the kilt was worn as everyday dress,
Lowland Scottish people considered Highlanders to be strange and
savage, owing to their strange dress and 'foreign' language, which was

2. would you ever participate in one of those changing rooms programs
(if they're still making them - do you know what i mean?) and whose
house would you want to make over?

As someone who is relatively artistic, they way all of the interior
designers on them make 'art' that matches the colours they've chosen
for the room really annoys me, so I'd participate so that I could give
people proper art that doesn't blend in. It's would be cheating, but
I'd probably make over my little sister's house, and let her do mine,
as she wouldn't put in things I wouldn't like!

3. the best part about your job?

Being a nanny is quite different from most jobs I think. I am actually
part of a family, and happen to be paid for being so at the end of
each month. My very favourite part of the days is when I walk in the
door in the morning. Anna tends to run towards me for a hug, and Tom
starts telling me what he's been doing immediately. It's wonderful to
walk into a room and automatically feel welcome and like you arrival
has been anticipated with happiness.

4. coffee or tea?

Tea, Earl Grey with milk if I have a choice. Tea has a very relaxing,
restorative quality, which is probably why it's a cliche that people
in the UK see it as as solution to everything,

5. the worst book you've read in ages...

Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer. It's badly written,
and paints both of the girls with weight problems as being quite
pathetic. I picked it up as a light read, but it's one of the few
books in my life I've stopped reading halfway through. Being somewhat
chubby myself, I am generally interested in how chubby girls are
portrayed in books, and this one is not painting us in a good light!

6. and of course, the best one...

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. It's the coming of age tale of
two 17 year old girls, living in poverty in a large, rundown castle in
England, with their eccentric family. Smith turns the picture-box
image of families living in large estates on it's head, and creates
characters who are individual, multidimensional and loveable. I read
this first when I was 13, and loved it then, but having re-read it,
I've taken even more from it!

7. don't go another year without...

Learning to crochet - I've been saying I'm going to for ages, and
haven't. Oh, and seeing some new places. I want to see as much of the
world as I can in my life!

8. your life philosophy in one sentence:

Be true to who you are.

9. so are the men wearing underwear underneath those kilts?

In my experience, nothing! :)

10. if you could invite four authors to dinner, who would they be and
what would you serve?

Jane Austen, Muriel Spark, John Steinbeck, and Margaret Atwood.
Imagine the conversations!

I'm assuming our dinner would be in winter, and I'd serve - Leek,
potato and bacon soup, Cider and mustard pork chops with roast veg(and
some German white),my chocolate truffle cake with ice cream(and a nice
bottle of Spanish red), and a cheese board with port and whisky.

* * *
thank you, lisa-marie! i hope i can come to that dinner too!
and i'm with you on the crochet, tho' it's not going THAT well for me.

weighing the good and the bad

husband has calcific tendonitis and can't use his right hand. he writes like a kindergartner with his left hand. i find it somehow very endearing. it's pissing down rain. i had a dull caffeine-induced headache all afternoon. i'm not sure if it was from not enough caffeine or too much. and have i mentioned the rain? the bunny chewed off a bunch of the nail polish from my thumb when i wasn't paying attention. the rain made the satellite dish go out (i think it may have drowned) and now that poor lawyer girl from philly will eternally be stuck with her old wardrobe. the dishes are piling up in the sink because i don't feel like doing them and husband can't with his gimp hand. i want to say that it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, but i already used that previously and i'm supposed to be getting my edge back, not repeating myself...in all, it was a tuesday that felt like a monday. and i'm glad it's over.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

an interview with amy of tilting windmills

i was so pleased that amy wanted to be interviewed, because she's been at the country lifestyle for a bit longer than i have. we have in common a house for sale (ours is thankfully now sold and hers rented) and a desire for a simpler life more filled with animals and gardening. so i jumped at the chance to ask her a few questions about how she's getting along with all of that. so read what she had to say and do check her blog and flickr photostream - she's also part of the blog camp 365 flickr group.

1. tell us what's going into your garden boxes at the moment? and how many people receive them per week?

August Garden III

This week we had loads of cucumbers (both English and mini ones), swiss chard, Italian squash, zucchini, baby bell peppers and tomatillos! We are doing the boxes for four families. There is another family that's been helping us with the garden and the two of us eat our fill and put up plenty for the off season too. This is the first year we have tried our mini CSA. It's been a great learning experience and a lot of fun. We actually have a waiting list of interested people for next year!

2. are the chickens really worth it, despite being utterly brainless?

118/365 Farm Fresh

Hmmm utterly brainless to take care of or they're utterly brainless (editorial note: chickens not that smart) ? Either way the answer is Yes! We've loved having them and Sidney is very attached. It is fascinating to watch them in their interactions with each other and us. We have two that are two years old and they'll come right up and hop on your lap. Then this year we got 15 babies. One of the hens grew up to be a rooster so we get to listen to him crow, which does seem to add further to the ambiance here :) One of the young ones laid her first egg yesterday! Come fall we'll be adding eggs to our weekly farm boxes for everyone!

3. what's the most essential utensil in your kitchen?

I love my Kitchenaid mixer. I use it all of the time!

4. which garden goodness that you've put up do you most enjoy in the dead of winter?

That's a tough one. I'd have to say the butternut squash, it's so sweet, warm and comforting and takes the whole season to grow. A close second would be the loads of fresh pesto I've made and frozen.

5. if you were going to run away and escape from it all, where would you go?

happy place

I grew up in Southern California, right near the ocean. I love the water. I think my best escape would be to a lake where I can just relax and listen to the water gently lapping on the shore.

6. can you give me some canning advice? or a good pickle recipe?

Something I've just learned, you don't need the bread and butter pickle spice mix. Do the whole shebang from scratch. It makes amazing pickles, I think I just might enter a jar of these in the fair next year :)

12 large cucumbers
12 large onions
1 Pt. white vinegar
1 C. brown sugar
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp, celery seed
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Peel the onions. Wash and thinly slice onions and cucumbers. Place in a solution of 1 qt. water mixed with 1/4 C. canning salt. Cover with ice and allow to stand in brine for 3 hours.

Combine vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and celery seed and bring to boil. Add ginger, turmeric, salt and pepper.

Drain cucumber & onion mixture (do not rinse). Pack into clean hot jars and cover with hot liquid mixture. Place on 2 part lids to seal and process in a boiling water bath. 15 minutes for quarts or 10 minutes for pints.

7. how's your fabric stash coming along?

Ohhh it's growing quite nicely, thank you (Sid's is too)! Now I just need my own 'blue room.' I can see I'm quickly going to outgrow my dining room. In fact, I'm hosting a dinner party outside (in some crazy humidity) this weekend, just to keep my craft room intact ;)

8. what prompted your decision to move to the countryside to try to live a simpler life?

I've always been drawn to the country. B grew up on a farm in Kansas, and though he didn't want to farm per se, we wanted our own type of farming experience. It began to come together just before we had our daughter, Sidney. We had a business opportunity that would move us closer to the small town experience that we wanted for our kids. When we first moved to Wisconsin, there wasn't that perfect property available and we soon got sucked into the day to day of owning and running a business, and our son came along too. Just when we weren't looking, we came across the perfect property just over 3 years ago. Now our kids are growing up with plenty of space to run and an intimate understanding of our environment and how to take care of it. For us, we're beginning to realize our dreams of sustainability.

9. has it been as you expected it to be?

Everything and more. It's a lot of hard work, but at the end of the day, it's ours. We take ownership of it, nurture it and will pass it down.

10. how have your ideas of living a simpler life evolved since you began?

140/365 Peace

I think that once you immerse yourself in this lifestyle, you begin to find that the simpler life isn't always simple to attain. It's a series of trials and errors, dreams and visions, and time (sometimes frustrating when you're the type of person who sees the vision and wants to enact the whole thing right now)! It is an amazing experience and like B always says: It's a marathon, not a sprint. A good mantra for me, to calm my impatience as we continue on the journey.

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thank you, amy, for sharing some your thoughts on the journey towards simplicity. every little bit helps! and for someone who wanted to simplify and spend this year not buying anything, i've not done so well: so far in 2010, we've bought a house, a car and a horse. and an iPad. and iPhones for everyone in the family. so you can see, i need all the help i can get!