Wednesday, October 31, 2012

from whence surplus?

i had a long conversation last night about that whole concept of overskudsmennesker (surplus people) and underskudsmennesker (deficit people) that i believe i've mentioned here before. those words are so wonderful and packed with meaning in danish, meaning that's not contained in the literal translation, nor in any more metaphorical one i can come up with. even tho' we lack a word for it, i know you know people in both categories.

overskudsmennesker are largely positive. they have time for things. they are creative and their actions reflect both an open mind and a big heart. they're able to see situations from all sides. they are good at having an overview. when someone presents an idea, they run with it and expand on it, instead of shutting it down or making fun of it.

underskudsmennesker, as you might imagine, are the opposite. they have something negative to say about everything. they aren't open to new ideas and they often are critical naysayers in the face of other people's ideas. they're the ones who you'll hear say, "we tried that before and it didn't work." they are often utterly unable to see a situation from another perspective.

i know i show traits of both at times, because i don't think that anyone is ever always on top of things. we all go up and down, depending on our energy levels. but i've come to think that once again, whether you are generally in surplus has a lot to do with social capital (i know, i'm always bringing it back to that, but i think bourdieu was right). do your background, education, upbringing and situation equip you to deal positively with the world or not? do they enable you to see the big picture? i think for many, the answer is no and it means they wallow in their own perspective and their own negativity, never lifting their head above the horizon to really look at things. never having the surplus to do so.

i don't mean to say that you have to be educated to be happy (tho' somewhere inside i probably do believe that to an extent), but that you need to be equipped with a broad way of looking at things in order to see situations for what they are and not get bogged down in some minute and unimportant detail. one that drains your energy and the energy of those around you.

another thing i've noticed is that when you have many passionate people involved in something, those passions will clash and result in a disturbing draining of energy that leaves everyone feeling like an underskudsmennesker, at least at that moment. great passions are energy dynamos, but that means that they are also energy drains. and sometimes we're so caught up in them we can't see that we crossed the line from surplus to deficit.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

morning moon

as a hurricane ravages the east coast of the US, it seems rather frivolous to sit at my desk, sipping a mug of tea, contemplating a blog post and the rest of my day and looking out at the beautiful, cold, clear, sunny autumn day that's going on outside. in fact, i unfollowed one asshole on twitter this morning for blithely posting crap-ass scrapbook pages while the storm raged (why was i following such a person anyway?). it feels odd that life goes on as normal while it's interrupted so dramatically for so many people elsewhere. but i suppose that's true at any given moment of any day. it just doesn't always make the news.

i feel a bit guilty for sitting here, brooding in my own thoughts, pondering things like how i lack a group of truly creative people to hang out with or how i will construct a paleo meal this evening when we have 15 more rows of potatoes to dig and use or whether i'll dare to remove the horse's stitches myself to save another vet visit. people have lost their homes and cars and belongings and the physical evidence of their memories and i'm sitting here with my petty concerns.

but again, it happens every day - tragedies, manmade and natural, befall people all over the world all the time and i normally don't worry about it. i'm only worried today because it's filling my screens and my twitter feed. i haven't even been to new york, so how can it really matter to me?

so not to discount the actual, real misery, but i think we should all have better things to think about. like how we can be positive towards that person who meets us with negativity. because maybe precisely what they need is a dose of positivity coming their way. maybe what would give us the most energy is to simply decide that we will give away all of the energy we ourselves have. maybe that's actually how you make more.

i realize this isn't making that much sense, but the hurricane has jumbled up my thoughts. or perhaps it's the morning moon. and i'm mostly left thinking we should just be a whole lot kinder and gentler right here, where we are now. and that it might make a big difference in the big scheme of things. hurricanes or none.

Monday, October 29, 2012

monday inspiration

a marvelous peek into the creative process of margaret mellis, who made fantastic driftwood collages. i found the video here. but i learned of margaret mellis' work in roger deakin's wildwood, which i'm still savoring.

a valuable reminder for me that the practice is key to the inspiration. i've got to get practicing again. and possibly head for the west coast and a walk on the beach.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

an extra glorious hour

the time changed back to winter time this morning. it feels like such a gift, that extra hour. i used it very wisely, curled up under the quilts with my laptop and a cup of tea (precisely the right temperature and precisely the right amount of milk and honey), catching up on blogs and pinning to pinterest.

i'm strangely ready for winter this year. and i haven't minded autumn at all. usually, it fills me with dread, as the darkness approaches. but days like this - glorious, glittering frost - are worth it. and i love wearing sweaters and my furry boots again. bring on the winter!

our 5th annual halloween party was a big success. the kids take the costume thing seriously and now that they're in the 6th grade, they require less supervision (tho' perhaps i should have been in the room to discourage that popcorn fight). they were sent around in the dark on an orienteering run, rather than a treasure hunt per se. it was timed. and at one post, they had to find the letter (they were gathering letters) in a bucket of slimy liver and oatmeal soup that husband made. we always have to have something gross. and there's always a boy who is willing to get his hands all dirty. sometimes even some of the girls are willing. but honestly, there are some things that are just boy jobs.

they're good kids. but even tho' they're good kids, you can still see who is popular and who is not, if only from the looks on their faces when they think no one is looking. they're starting to verge on teenagers, getting slightly awkward and less comfortable wholeheartedly playing. but all of them, boys and girls alike, enjoyed shooting balloons with a bb gun and bobbing for apples. it's good to have these traditions.

this afternoon, we'll go see the new james bond, skyfall. i've heard nothing but good things about it. i'll let you know...

happy sunday, one and all. use your extra hour wisely.

Friday, October 26, 2012

a friday that behaved like a monday

25/10.2012 - daily drive

it was a friday that was like a monday. everything ran 15 minutes behind. the horse's minor scratch turned into a strange hole in her leg that warranted 3 stitches and a course of antibiotics and we have no idea what did it. and when it started yesterday, there was definitely not a hole, tho' i somehow feel like a neglectful parent not to have noticed it, even after soaking her leg in a bucket of warm, soapy water and wiping it down with a soft cloth.  i just thought she had scraped a bit of hair off and was being a drama queen. she's given to that at times.

i also had to go to bilka, which is the closest you get to walmart in denmark. it wasn't pleasant. i nearly lost my will to live. nothing is where you think it will be, everything comes in the wrong size and any employee you can locate for help is already talking on some weird retro walkie talkie thingie and ignores you. i never did find the hamburger buns, since apparently they're not kept near other bread in bilka's brand of logic.  never did find marshmallows either. and the balloons they had completely sucked.

the weather's turned cold. molly loves to be outside, but was surprised by the frost on the grass this morning and when she came in, she snuggled on my lap for an hour to warm her feet. that was a real highlight of the day.

the team in india that's building the website i'm writing totally dropped the ball this week - there was apparently a festival. and tho' it was beyond my control, it makes me feel like i failed and let down my client. that isn't a good feeling. 

we're hosting our 5th annual halloween party tomorrow night. last year we bought a trampoline. this year, i went and got a bb gun. as one does. that bit of today went right. but i suppose it could go oh-so-wrong tomorrow when we turn the children loose with it.

i don't know about you, but i think it's time for a glass of wine.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

fading into the background

yesterday, i had, for the second time in recent months, a unique experience for me (i realize two instances makes it less unique, but bear with me here). i was forgotten, despite my presence. me. it was quite a shock. if there's one thing i've never been, it's forgettable. i tend to be one of those all or nothing, love or hate her kind of people. but forgettable? no way. never. i tend to fill up my space and then some and have rarely experienced that anyone forgets me (perhaps once a busy flight attendant on a plane, who couldn't remember where she left off with the drinks cart).

it is a more than slightly disheartening event, coming as it does in this middle age of my life, when i may already be beginning to suspect that i'm fading away, growing older, facing the prospect that there's an old greek woman inside me, trying desperately to get out (apparently via persistent small black hairs on my chin), looming menopause, a general loss of sparkle and a fading into invisibility. and a nagging feeling that i never really found out what i should be when i grew up.

so being forgotten, for the second time in as many months, hit me rather hard. i can't help but take it a little bit personally. especially since it's the same person who forgot me in both instances.

it makes me want to wear more colorful clothes and stand up a bit taller the next time. i shall not fade into the background. not yet.

*  *  *

on a happier note, this luscious article makes me want to book a table at NOMA immediately.

fascinated by the notion of the green man

still reading roger deakin's wildwood - it's nature writing as philosophy. beautiful and fascinating.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

the world i inhabit in my dreams

i dreamed a dream that took place in the most fantastic series of rooms. it was a university, but it was also a labyrinth of themed rooms, packed with details...carved figureheads, like those on the bow of a ship, books, rich room medieval, the next old west, musty libraries and heavy velvet drapes, winding, narrow passages and small, crooked stairways. it was like stepping into a borges story. absolutely fascinating. i felt sad to wake up and a strong and wistful longing to return remains with me on this grey autumn morning.

it's quite amazing to realize that this place that i long for actually exists within my own mind. it is mine and mine alone. and although it was peopled with all sorts of characters, they are also of my own imagining. created by me, to process my thoughts. it's almost overwhelmingly powerful when you think about it. some part of me hopes that i am actually living a parallel life over there. and i definitely hope that this new location will be a recurring one. i want nothing more than to go back there.

*  *  *

speaking of dreamlike worlds, check out these amazing combined photographs.
they're by a dutch historian named jo hedwig teeuwisse.
if you can't get enough, there are more here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

dining out on tuesday night

meatballs nestled in half an onion on a bed of shockingly green pea pureé, accompanied by some rather crispy little mounds of mashed potato, steamed broccoli, cauliflower, ribbons of carrots and a sprinkling of fresh thyme. this is what happens when they get creative at the local kro. it may also be what happens when young student chefs are left alone in the kitchen with food coloring. the meatballs were a bit over-cooked, as were the pretty little potato stars (i don't think they were meant to be that crispy). but i have to say that the overly-green pea pureé actually tasted pretty good and the fresh thyme was a nice touch.

the meal brought several thoughts to mind: 

~ bordieu was right, you can't buy cultural capital.
~ cooking shows may be doing more damage than good.
~ when the number 1 restaurant in the world is in your country, it will have a knock-on effect on the cooks in the restaurants that aren't. that effect will be rather unpredictable. 
~ even tho' they had gone a bit mad with the food coloring, i was grateful to eat a meal that i didn't have to cook.
~ it's fun to go out to eat on a tuesday night, just because.

Monday, October 22, 2012

monday loves

candles in the windowsill on a grey and rainy day.
a book that reminds me of the importance of being deep.

new pages in an old art journal.
writing in library books.
cozy new socks.

a fresh to-do list.
and a fresh week in which to accomplish it.

an abundance of raspberries from the garden.
the new j. peterman owner's manual.

unexpected sources of reason.
and some not so unexpected, but amusing nonetheless, mostly for the swearing.

happy monday, one and all.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

it's a good year for mushrooms

the mushrooms are amazing this year. it's been a very good year for them around here - very wet and strangely warm (it was 20°C yesterday) - perfect conditions. i swear there's something magical in the way they spring up overnight in whole groves. and then they linger on until they're picturesquely withered and look ancient. i've got nature on the brain because i'm reading roger deakin's wildwood. in it he waxes poetic on forests and the pleasures of sleeping out in a shed in a remote corner of his property. and pencils. and i hope he does something about mushrooms too, but so far he hasn't (i'm not that far in). if he doesn't, i'll have to do so myself.

antiquing for a cause

the scouts sponsor a huge two-day flea market every year during the autumn holiday. this was my haul.  two new stitched mormor (grandmother) pillows, a reference book of handcrafts, a 70s jar and bowl and a funny little deer skull for a touch of murakami - all for 100 kroner. i especially look forward to reading the cookbook for young house mothers. we also scored 7 wine balloons in wooden crates, which i didn't photograph. all of the items are donated and all the money goes to support the local scouts, plus it brings out the entire community. pretty cool.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

pondering the world she will inherit

four years ago at this time, this blog was filled with politics. after eight years of dubya, and with the colorful figure of sarah palin (i actually kinda miss her) involved, i just couldn't get politics off the brain. plus, the air was filled with hope and promise with obama in the race. now, four years later, i find i feel much less passionately about it. and i don't feel even a glimmer of hope. what i feel is an inability to comprehend and a great degree of fear for the world which my child will inherit.

that said, i think obama is getting a bad rap. memories are short as to the mess he was handed after eight years of dubya. no one really yet knew at that point what the financial crisis meant. i would postulate that we still don't fully know. but he does seem to be a bit mired down. partially in an uncooperative house and senate and partially in an overwhelming array of things gone wrong. there aren't any easy answers.

i am bewildered that anyone could possibly be against universal healthcare. just read this story by nicholas kristof and tell me it makes sense. we have universal health care in denmark and although i was frustrated last winter with my local doctor, that had far more to do with a lack of customer service-mindedness than it had to do with socialized medicine. it is an enormous relief to know that if something is wrong...sabin falling from her horse in a riding lesson...we don't have to hesitate to go to the ER to find out if her collar bone is broken. we don't even think twice (tho' next time, we will get food before we go there, as there can be a wait - but that's true of ERs everywhere and again, has nothing to do with socialized medicine).

i am puzzled that anyone accepts the rhetoric against women being spewed by the republican party. it is the twenty-first century and it's simply unacceptable that in the so-called developed world there should be any question about access to birth control or a woman's decision-making ability over her own body.

and how romney can be forgiven for his 47% statement, made to a group of people he was sure were like-minded. he has said outright that he has no respect for half of the population. he won't release his tax returns. and he doesn't give a single detail of any concrete plan. and his supporters and their shirts saying, "let's put the white back in the white house" are simply beyond shameful. how anyone with a functioning brain can consider voting for him is beyond me.

but i really, truly don't get people who should seriously not be voting republican - for example, because they are living in a lesbian partnership and work for the federal government on an indian reservation and until recently had a child that was in state-sponsored care in a home - are intending to do so. because that seriously makes no sense.

it's like there's another logic in play in the US, one to which i no longer have access.

but that said, i have cast my absentee ballot for obama. i think he's the best choice if i want the world to still be a place i can in good conscience hand over to my child. plus, i want my president to be smarter than me. and i'm sure he's that. i can't say the same for slippery mittens romney.

Monday, October 15, 2012

memories of angst

worldwide photo walk: the give edition

i listened to a radio program today where they were discussing an edvard munch exhibition. they had a long discussion of the difference between angst and fear. they proposed that angst is something more indefinable and uncontrollable and fear is more tangible. i think i agree with that. mostly i'm a fairly angst-free person, but will admit to being driven (and perhaps controlled) by all sorts of fears.

when i was a kid, the father of a weird girl a couple years younger than me dropped dead outside the local bar, after a evening of merriment. i think the first few people who came upon him, just stepped over him there, outside the back door, thinking ahh, there goes mr. p. again. so by the time someone realized it was more serious, he had died of his heart attack. he wasn't a healthy man to begin with. nor a very nice or popular one, so he wasn't really all that missed. except perhaps by his eccentric wife and daughter.

and i wasn't even friends with the daughter and hardly knew the man, so i'm not sure why i had moments of angst for months afterwards, fearing that my loved ones would suddenly drop dead and i wouldn't be there to help them. it was very disconcerting and those moments of angst came totally unbidden at the strangest moments. moments when i was otherwise happy and engaged in doing something i really loved (usually involving a horse).

i'm sure i never told anyone about them, because it sounded so silly. mr. p. was a real boar of a man and for his death to bring on strange episodes of angst in me felt wrong somehow. but eventually, they cleared. and i can't say that i can recall any other moments when i've been bothered by what could be called angst.

on the other hand, i can wake up in the night, reliving some conversation or situation where i should have said something clever and missed the opportunity. or where i find myself in a cold sweat over some (usually) work-related worry or other. i think i also have a bad habit of letting my fears hold me back. i think that's getting worse the older i get, which is a bit worrying. but not exactly angst-provoking.

and i suppose that's a good thing, because then i imagine something can be done about it.

somewhere, within the depths of my graduate school memory, i seem to recall that heidegger wrote something on this topic. so perhaps i'll go digging around in my book boxes and be back later with some more ponderings. or maybe i'll just go to the munch exhibition in århus, since that's what started the whole discussion on the radio in the first place. 


molly is trying to sleep.

through the viewfinder

i woke up feeling irritated. irritated that the bell jar was so quickly over and that the ending was so ambiguous. irritated that americans don't realize the rest of the world uses the metric system and they're the weird ones. irritated with styled, perfectly-presented lives that pretend to be all quiet and serene when they're put up online. irritated at those roosters out there, trying to outdo one another. irritated that no matter how much laundry you do, there will always be more. irritated that i still don't really know what i want to be when i grow up. irritated that i'm beginning to suspect that i actually am grown up and this is just a condition of life. irritated at the gorgeous thomas rode's new paleo cookbook (even tho' i'd like to sleep with it under my pillow), because i really doubt they had that much cabbage in the stone age. irritated that kittens become cats so quickly. irritated at how high the ground water level is with all this rain. irritated that i wrenched my back and nearly fell into the well trying to get the perfect shot of some leaves against the blue sky.

maybe i'll just go back to bed.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

baking cakes for a good cause

if you're friends with me on facebook or twitter (and if you're not why not?), you know that on friday, we were pretty occupied with baking cakes at our house. we had entered a local cake contest, sponsored by our local chapter of Save the Children. after endless pinning for several weeks on pinterest, sabin decided to make an iPhone cake and i decided to make a red velvet, embrace-the-kitsch-cake, decorated with swiss meringue buttercream and rainbow accents.

there were a total of eleven cakes in the contest and two prizes at stake - prettiest and best-tasting. despite sabin's cake being the talk of the event, sadly, we didn't win. the judges were the owners of our local bakery and judging by the cakes they sell themselves, our cakes were a bit too...shall we say adventurous (read: not traditional danish)...for them. but it was great fun to be part of it and Save the Children raised about $400, which is nothing to sneeze at when you're selling slices of cake.

but the most fun part of it was that we got to be on t.v.! the local news crew came out to our house and then talked to us at the event itself, after the disappointment of our not winning (which wasn't really that bad).  it's in danish, but here you go.

the event was part of a larger "culture night" event that involved lots of different people from the community and was well-attended. i remember back to my first culture night back in copenhagen, years ago. it was cold and windy and blustery. the lines were long and we didn't get to see that much, but somehow, being among a lot of people, who are all bent on having a good time is a good thing. our own local event was no different.

Friday, October 12, 2012

a saga in stitches

these small works are part of anne brodersen's sagaland series, inspired by a trip to iceland.

she's used photographs, printed on ordinary paper and soaked in some kind of solution as the base. i didn't quite understand how it works, but i will take a class with her and find out. as you know, i love the idea of stitching on photos, so this version of that idea is very appealing. i think it turns a photo into something somehow natural and earthy and i like that idea.

today i'm baking cakes - red velvet with a raspberry curd layer inside, covered in merengue buttercream and sabin's made a rich vanilla sheetcake that we're going to decorate as an iPhone. photos and a report of our television debut, as well as the results of the contest sometime on the weekend!

happy weekend, one and all!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

fragments of a long journey

long journey
more of anne brodersen's amazing, fascinating work. this one is called long journey. i could have studied this for hours. (and i might yet.) each little fragment is packed with meaning and there are similar motifs/techniques in each line, tying it together - figures, symbols, transfer techniques and stitches. it feels at once deep and laden with meaning and so light you think it might float away. it's filled with contradiction somehow. i imagine you'd see something new in it every day, even if you looked at it for the rest of your life.

what i love is that i didn't get the impression that anne brodersen thinks for a second that what she does is more handiwork than art. it is art and she seems sure of that. perhaps because it's second nature to her - in danish, embroidery is broderi and her name is brodersen. it's the most unapologetic, fully-executed embroidery as art that i've seen. not the slightest hint of angst about craft is present here. and that's a breath of fresh air. because this really is art.