Sunday, August 20, 2017

magnifying the woes of the world

i scroll my facebook feed and it depresses me. it's filled with scorn and outrage for the spray-tanned freak that holds the reins in the land of my birth. i too feel scorn and outrage for him and his most recent behavior (e.g. the past 7 months). but i also find it exhausting. and so i post pictures of kittens and i spend time with them and their joyous little souls. and i clean and tidy and donate and throw away and organize in our "box room." and between rain showers, i go out to the garden and i try to convince bella to be my friend. and i sit with molly and talk to billy and i pick kale and carrots and beans and cucumbers. and i feel better for a few minutes. but the monster is still there. and facebook still continually throws him in my face. and so i wake in the morning with an aching jaw and i try to forget. but i can't help but think that's not the right thing to do. there must be something we can do. that we should be doing. other than sharing the words of people more eloquent than we are or more outraged, to people to whom it won't make an iota of difference. and meanwhile climate changes means we haven't had any summer. and that weasel pulled out of the paris accords, which, while weak, were at least an agreement that most everyone agreed upon. and i wonder if bringing a child into the world was the right thing to do in light of the world we are leaving her. and i think those fucking assholes who voted for him should be ashamed of themselves. and i fear many of them are members of my family. and i think back to myself, screaming at my mother from a street in paris, as she told me how horrible obama and hillary were and how they were trying to take away her right to be a christian. and i remember thinking about how horrible it was that it might be the last conversation i'd ever have with her, since i certainly wasn't speaking to her again after that utter bullshit. and i told her so. and for a few minutes, it scared her back into her old self and we actually ended up having a proper conversation. tho' my throat was raw the next day from the screaming. and now this is my memory of paris. and i feel despair again. for all of the things that are lost and irreparable...the damage the cheeto is doing. and the loss of the mother i remember. and i realize facebook is but the magnifier of the woes of the world.

Friday, August 18, 2017

uploading 63%....

63%...the plumber backed his oddly large truck into the roof and broke some bits off. of the roof, that is, his truck appears to be fine. i am annoyed looking through my instagram feed at people whose work consists of taking the same picture over and over and sharing it every day (says the girl who constantly posts cats)...72%...i'm watching the percentage of my upload crawl ever-so-slowly upward. it's cloudy and grey. again. i'm not really having as bad a day as it's just boring watching files upload. and i'm tired of the grey. and i'm really tired of that out-of-focus, bokehlicious, pretentious reflection shot of princess leia. get over it already and move on to another motif...84%...91%...(the ellipses represent much more time than you might imagine)...the millennial podcast announced their last episode seemed as self-absorbed and self-conscious as the rest of it had been...a few recent episodes had seemed like they'd run out of ideas and navels at which to gaze anyway, so it was time...another podcast i'm finding annoying after initially liking it is not by accident. it also has descended into some kind of self-pity party. yes, we get it, being a parent and having a job is tiring and hard and not for the faint of heart...96%...when will this bloody upload ever complete? it's only 18 photos! 98%...i think i'm ready for the weekend to begin...the child is having a few beers in a park with her new classmates after school, so i don't have to pick her up...99%...also, i'm cranky (it is hangry, perhaps?) i'm probably not being fair to the two podcasts mentioned above...i'm just in a mood...i'm sure they're lovely people with perfectly lovely navels upon which to did it go back down? i think i need me some kitten time...happy weekend if there's anyone out there...99%...100%.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

to grieve or not to grieve, that is the question

so many thoughts swirling in my head of late, especially as i listen to podcasts, which i do constantly. i don't always know if the podcasts provoke the thoughts or reflect them. a growing suspicion that i suck at grieving has been crossing my mind of late. and then a couple of podcasts i listened to on the way home today covered the topic of grief - this week's death, sex & money and malcolm gladwell's revisionist history touched upon it as well.  i don't know if they helped me work through my own struggles or not.

it comes down to that i don't think i've properly grieved for my father. i shed tears on the plane on the way there, as he lay dying in a hospital, nearly three years ago, but i don't think i've really, truly cried about his death. and i am not sure that i know how. there are times when i miss him acutely. most often when i'm in the garden, which is also where i talk to him. he's come to my sister on two occasions, reassuring her, but i've not even heard a whisper from him. i'm not envious exactly, more puzzled. is it because i lack the ability to open that portal to him? am i less open to it? or am i at another stage of my grief than she is? have i even started it properly? can i even recognize it? these are the thoughts that have me convinced that i suck at grief.

but it's also mom's decline. alzheimer's is so cruel and strange. she's still here, but it feels like we already need to grieve her. i don't even know this strange fabulist she has become...telling lies, or perhaps fractured fairy tales, to explain the world around her in a way that makes sense to her, as her brain fills with holes and erases the old ways of making sense. i worry that my good memories of her are being similarly erased, but i'm not sure that what i feel at this stage is grief. i find it hard to even summon pity, which sounds horrible, i know and then i feel guilty for that. but it remains that it's how i feel at the moment. 

and then i can't help but wonder if i ever properly grieved for sophia. when it happened, i was so sick and we had sabin to focus on, so did i properly grieve her passing and the passing of the specialness of being a mother of twins? i don't know. it seems like maybe it got pushed under somehow and never really dealt with, though i have always been able to speak of it, so it's not like that. but is glibly being able to mention it the same as dealing with it? i suspect not.

but how are you supposed to know how to grieve? i think our culture today places so much pressure on us to get back into the saddle immediately that we maybe don't give ourselves time. maybe grief takes years. maybe it doesn't look a certain way. maybe i don't wailingly grieve my father because i think he lived a long, amazing, worthy life and died the way he would have wished, so i can have nothing but respect for him and and be grateful for the time we had and how he shaped who i am. maybe i don't wail because it was his time and i feel that in my heart and while i am sad for me and for us and for mom that he's not here, i'm not sad for him per se. or maybe i just suck at grief.

with mom, it's more complicated, due to the disease and that she's still here, strangely more physically fit than ever, even as her personality changes so radically that she seems like someone i don't know. maybe grief doesn't come because the time isn't right. maybe i will learn to grieve when it's needed, or find my own way to do so. maybe our grief is singular, individual, so unique that i don't even recognize it because it's so much a part of me.

oddly, i think i've grieved harder for lost jobs than for lost loved ones. what does that say about me or about the times in which we live? what we do is so important to identity that we feel it as a loss of self when we leave a job, whether it's by choice or not. and so a period of mourning follows.

and then i wonder if grief is really about missing who we once were? do we lose that? or do we contain it within us, so there's no sense grieving it...

as you can see, i have more questions than answers. and rather a lack of grief. or at least the ability to grieve in a definable way...

* * *

daily affirmations from lenny.
"fucking up is how you go pro." - words to live by, i tell you.

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i want to be e. jean when i grow up.

Friday, July 14, 2017

the scent of the summer

you know, if you've been reading for awhile, that i love perfume. i recently read this piece about finding your personal scent in the lenny letter. and it's all about layering. even before reading this, i had taken to combining a couple of scents - at the moment, it's been a rather unorthodox combination of the sweetness of  for her by narciso rodriguez and the spicy, greenish masculinity of vetiver insolent by miller harris, but it's felt like the right scent for me at the moment. i was relieved to read in the article that a note or two of something rancorous is in fashion, since this cold, damp summer combined with living in our old farmhouse, my personal scent is surely laced with a healthy dose of mustiness from the damp that seeps up through the brick walls thanks to high ground water. there's probably also a dash of litterbox needing to be changed and perhaps a vague aroma of spilled coffee thrown in, which may be a note or two too many of rancour.

when we were in lithuania, i ran into these beautiful scents, named after italian cities, in a high end perfume shop. i'm not even sure who makes them. i tend to have trouble with scents and my own body chemistry, as they can turn rather nasty on me, especially if they are full of synthetic ingredients. but i tried, over a couple of days, four of these gorgeous scents and they all just got more beautiful on me. tho' at €149 per bottle, i didn't buy one, having decided we were having a vacation experience, not a vacation shopping trip. but, i may have to try to find them again and buy one, as they were just gorgeous. the packaging is simple and elegant as well. they have everything one could hope for in a scent. maybe this autumn..i think florentia would be lovely when paired with the dusky scent of autumn leaves.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

stitching identity :: kgb museum vilnius

we had three teenagers with us in lithuania, so we told them we had to visit a museum. after perusing a swedish brochure we found at our rented apartment, they chose the museum of genocide victims, mostly due to its other name - the KGB museum, owing to the fact that it is housed in the former KGB headquarters (look at me, capitalizing KGB...hmm, i'll have to ponder that) of the soviet state of lithuania.

it's a moodily-lit place, in keeping with its sober subject, and has a big focus on the lithuanian patriots/revolutionaries who resisted the soviet yoke, especially in the decade after stalin and hitler sealed their fate without consulting them in a secret agreement in the early days of the second world war. the green cells in the basement, where prisoners were held, interrogated and tortured and then, quite literally, taken out back and shot, were stark.

but i think it was most struck by the stitched objects on display. most were made by prisoners who had been exiled to camps in siberia. they obviously used scraps of fabric and thread that were at hand. stitching to hold onto their homes, loved ones and traditions. and the stitched items were made by both men and women, both having a need to cling to their home and memories.

the sign said that this little black striped pouch contained some lithuanian soil and that the prisoner had kept it with him throughout his confinement in a siberian hard labor camp. i have a jar of stones from south dakota, where i grew up, so i could relate to this. we have a need to hold onto something tangible of where we come from.

some of the stitched cloths were large and all were beautiful. each stitch holding a memory of home and comfort and family. such beauty coming out of such adversity. it's amazing.

it was also a way of keeping their religion and belief alive, as sometimes the cloths were used in religious rituals and at holidays, like easter, which they surely practiced at great peril.

there were other objects, made of materials at hand - birchbark containers and the like, but i found the stitching most fascinating. especially since it wasn't just women who were stitching, but men as well, in a human need to hold onto beauty and home.

there were many pouches, which surely held precious mementos, like the wrapped-up soil of home or a photo of loved ones or a locket. there were also sayings, carefully stitched in lithuanian, a way of physically holding onto language and culture. each stitch a small act of defiance against the oppression, each stitch a way to hold onto an identity that was being torn away.

and i wonder if my soft guns aren't a similar way of coping with the sense that my very foundation has been ripped away by that ridiculous clown that cheated and colluded his way into the white house, robbing me of any pride i may have had in being american. maybe not, but they are definitely an act of defiance and mocking of the gun culture that has so strongly taken hold. not as deep as the items in the genocide victims museum, but a small act against the regime nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

vilnius :: a hidden gem

if you hang out with me on instagram, you know that we spent last week in lithuania and we loved it. there are a few shots of sights that i actually managed not take with the real camera and not share on instagram. i'll admit most of my shots were taken with my iPhone 7+ - that camera is the shit and hey, it's right there in my pocket. but lithuania was also great. it's lovely, with cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings, vilnius is totally walkable and full of cafés where you can a seriously excellent latte for €2. i highly recommend it. it's like prague without all of the awful tourists. shh, it's a hidden gem. and i don't want everyone to know about it and spoil it. because i'm definitely going back.

Monday, July 10, 2017

paradox :: soft guns

soft guns. in light of police shootings and folks murdering one another daily with guns in the united states, what could be more paradoxical than a set of cuddly guns? especially ones with happy, cheerful, bright flags extending from them, cartoon gun style? these were my contribution to our spring exhibition in creagive, our local group of creative souls.

paradox :: a whole bouquet of soft guns
i think i also made them as a way of working through how i felt about mom's bowling ball bags full of handguns and ammunition that we found in her car last december. i still can't breathe when i think of what she might have done with those guns in a fit of alzheimer's-induced paranoia while she was still alone out in her house. and a state that renews a permit to carry a concealed weapon for an elderly woman with dementia, when they've just ruled her unfit to drive. unfit to drive, but fine to go around with four loaded handguns. now that's a paradox.

i find myself thinking about that obsession my mother has with guns. especially one old, wonky 22 rifle that belonged to her uncle adam. a memory of him wanting her to have it has imprinted on her otherwise swiss cheese brain. interestingly, her sister, whose memory is just fine, tells a different tale of how mom got that gun - rushing to sergeant bluff to get it before a cousin could snatch it up after uncle adam died. it wasn't presented to her in solemn ceremony after all. and for some reason, it's the one thing she can remember these days. she's constantly asking my sister when she will bring it to her so she can go hunting. as if one hunts pheasants in the middle of the summer with an old 22 that doesn't shoot straight. as she stamps her foot and hisses in frustration, she doesn't seem to understand that she won't be going hunting again. maybe i should send her a soft gun to comfort her.

and you can have one too, if you're interested -  you can find them in my shop on big cartel - price is €70, including shipping. they are one of a kind and i will not be making any duplicates, tho' i may make more eventually. it was quite therapeutic to sew these up.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

a little list to get my groove back

it's a very long time since i did a bit of bloggy visiting, but an instagram post reminded me of the wonderful and creative sandra juto's blog and she did this list, which made me want to do a list to ease me back into the rhythm of blogging. sandra is swedish, so there's a mention of fika, that delightful swedish custom of relaxing with coffee and something sweet in the afternoon.

do you?

have beer in the fridge? no, but you can always find white wine and tonic.

have a pet? anyone who follows my instagram knows i am a cat person and we have multiple cats. favorites are molly, charlie, sif, billy and kittens bob and bella (that's bella above). we have a few more outdoors, but it's ok, because they have awesome lives and we have 17 acres of land.

have a favourite sweet? i'm not really that big on sweets, but do regularly make chocolate chip cookies and if i have a sore throat, some salt liquorice is a good thing.

wear powder? no, but i do swear by becca's backlighting primer and mac soft & gentle highlighter for that daily glow.

have any plans for the future? we will eventually finish our house and it will be awesome.

have any "best" grades from school? it's starting to be awhile ago, but i always did well at writing and in my lit and literary theory courses.

have an addiction? it's probably white wine, but i also can't do without my kiehl's lip balm #1. and i would be very sad without podcasts.

have fika today? alas, i did not, which was unusual, because we often have cake in the afternoon at work.

wear nail polish? yes. almost always. these days, i'm into quite neutral flesh tones, but i can also do a nice bright blue or salmony pink.

have a friend who lives in another country? yes. lots of other countries. and i live in another country as well (thank goodness, with that cheeto at the helm) - for nigh on 18 years now.


do you despise? i think we all know that it's that dangerously ignorant clown who is destroying the country of my birth.

share most memories with? at this point, knowing one another for 20 years, it must be husband. i would say my mother, but we don't share that many memories anymore with all of hers fading away...

do you long most for? i still miss my sweet frieda badida kitty and think of her often.

annoys you? rude drivers. people who are at the back of the line and rush forward when a new cashier opens. people who say, "ik' aw" constantly.

do you cuddle with? sif, she's the cat most likely to snuggle up and sleep next to me.

cooks? i'm the primary cook at our house, but i love cooking. it relaxes me. sunday evening dinners, where i throw together a bit of everything that i find in the fridge and in the garden make me happiest.

does the dishes? husband does, which is part of why i like to cook.


magazine to you read? i just bought a digital subscription to the new yorker. but i like to pick up unusual magazines when i travel. things like tank or kinfolk.

bus do you take the most? i don't take a bus very often, but when i do, it's 34. i'm more likely to take an s-train to get around copenhagen.

day is your birthday? march 22.

season do you prefer? i've always loved autumn. it signaled the start of school (and i stayed in university for a long time), and i still retain that love for a new sweatshirt and the sense of a new beginning that came with the beginning of the semester. i can still conjure that feeling, just from the shift in the temperature and the angle of the golden light.

town did you grow up in? platte, south dakota. i don't think i could live there now, but i'm glad to have grown up there.


are you doing right now? thinking that i should probably be wrapping this up and getting to sleep

is good about you? i have a lot of energy, am funny and generally in a good mood. i love sharing ideas and seeing what happens to them, without feeling too protective of them. i think there's a lot of power in shared ideas.

is bad about you? i procrastinate. i need deadlines in order to function well. i talk too much sometimes. if i don't like someone, i can't hide it.

do you want to work with? social media, fun content, people who give me energy, ideas, ships (luckily, i get to do this).

is most fun at the moment? being in copenhagen during the week and at home in the countryside on the weekends, hanging out with kittens and enjoying the garden. going on holiday next week.

are you wearing? a grey t-shirt with hearts on it and comfy grey lounge pants, both from primark.

kind of shoes do you own? i'm in total sneaker mode now that it's summer - faves of the moment are rose gold pumas, white pumas, green converse, light blue adidas. and when i'm at home, haviana flip flops.

is your shoe size? 40

are you reading? i'm half-heartedly rereading murakami's kafka on the shore and i ordered a book from the library on the history of the cia - legacy of ashes. i intend to take it on holiday next week. i'll admit that i read an awful lot of news online these days and it means i haven't been reading books much. that's undoubtedly not very good for me, so i need to remedy that.

are you going to do now? i'll post this and get to bed. tho' i'm actually sitting in bed, writing it, so i wont' have far to go.

well, that was fun. if you're still blogging these days, why not play along? it just might get you into the groove again.

* * *

reading this made me feel less helpless about the era of epic stupid we're living in. 

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11 podcasts to brighten up your summer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

stitches, objects and memories

ever since working on cleaning out our mother's house, i've been pondering things. the things we collect, stockpile, accumulate over a lifetime. the mundane things - bowls in which we serve dinner, glasses for milk, ceramic bulldogs, socks, tea towels...

i had some breakable glasses wrapped in the tea towel above for the trip home. the glasses are cheery ones from the 50s - with a pink check and a gold rim. i didn't notice that this tea towel had a careful hand-stitched repair of a hole until i went to iron it yesterday. and i welled up. mom must have sat down with it and carefully stitched a fine little oval-shaped patch into place. i find myself wondering when she did it. she couldn't have done it today. she's losing her words for things like needles and thread and while her fingers might remember how to make careful stitches, i'm not certain her mind could any longer make the connections necessary to do so. what made this particular towel worthy of repair? it is a nice, soft towel of the kind that are hard to find these days - the kind that actually absorbs water and which is soft enough to clean your glasses on and have them end up clean. that's part of why i used it to wrap up the glasses, i knew i would appreciate using it when i got home.

mom's house is full of objects and we donated, gave away, threw away and burned a great many of them. but there were things here and there that i wanted to save and take home - like these glasses and this tea towel. i'm not sure what to make of my choices. i don't particularly remember the glasses from my childhood. i think they are something she collected at a flea market in the years after i left home, so there aren't memories attached to them. but still, they spark joy (a factor my sister swears by after reading the marie kondo book). and it means something to have brought them home with me, across half a continent and an ocean. i feel comforted when i use them.

it is, in many ways, a situation without much comfort, this losing your mother to alzheimer's. i have been able to read about it a little bit now, but still haven't found anything that i feel like is the book i need. i think i deal mostly by avoidance. i don't call her much, because it brings it to the surface, hearing her repeat the same stories - the relocation of her cats to another zip code (as she puts it), the evil people who took her driver's license tho' she wasn't hurting anyone, the whereabouts of her (multiple!) guns - hearing her search for words and stumble around in her decreasing vocabulary. it's too raw and distressing. so i seek comfort in drinking my gin and tonic from cheery glasses she chose or fingering the mended stitches on a tea towel. and it hits me that the tea towel could have been my grandmother's and the stitches hers. and she also had alzheimer's and was eventually erased. leaving behind a mended tea towel, that i muse over at my own desk in my home in denmark, so far from where the stitches were stitched. and i wonder if objects can be repositories of memory. and if it will also happen to me...

* * *

speaking of memory and objects, matisse found joy in things as well.

* * *

an interesting piece on alzheimer's as a women's issue in the lenny letter.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

musings from somewhere over the atlantic

iceland air FI657, somewhere over the atlantic

i don’t think there’s any way to emotionally prepare for this. clearing out our childhood home. the photos, the show clothes, the memories. the realizing that there’s not much there that i wish to have or keep. the clinging. the letting go. whether to reveal to mom what we’re doing. how she will react. whether she will understand. whether i have compassion and sympathy for her. so many questions, many more than answers. and a limbo space, where i don’t know what to feel. anticipation, dread, relief, nostalgia, resentment, disappointment, sadness? all of those at once?

she’s not going to get any better. she has checked out and she’s no longer the mother i knew. if i ever knew her. can we know our mothers? can we escape them? embrace them? become them? what if we become them? shit, what if we become them?

her utter lack of ever being wrong. her hiding of her actions. her lack of attention span. her distractions. what if i’m already her? how to escape?

i look at my hands and see hers. but also mine. we are always a combination of our parents and our experiences. but who does that mean that i am? i look at my handwriting and see dad’s.

dad was smart, sarcastic, a bit too mean at times, he drank a bit too much, loved his garden, was writer and cared deeply about his town. he was funny and competitive and political and i miss him.

mom is distracted, determined, funny, loves to sing, doesn’t listen very well, was never rattled if 8 extra people showed up to thanksgiving. but i suspect mom never reached her potential. was it laziness? or did she just not know what it might be? she loved horses and instilled that love in me. she got a motorcycle license at 60 and a permit to carry at 70+. i miss that brave woman.

they both loved reading. however, i don’t have a sense of what they got out of it. i love reading too, but i don’t recall them ever recommending i read a certain book. i just read what was around the house and anything else i was interested in….from stephen king to tolstoy.

i want a tattoo of dad’s signature on the inside of my wrist. and i want to get it on this trip. i have a sudden certainty of that. on my right hand. the hand with which i write.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

taking my own temperature

i have a weird mixture of anticipation and dread. i head for the states later today. we're going to do a major tidy-up/clearing out of our childhood home (therein lies the dread) and i'm going to see the child and she's going to come home with me (therein lies the anticipation). we don't know how much to tell mom or whether to reveal to her that i'm there before we've made a good dent in the project. and i really don't know how i feel about that. it seems like i should spend time with her during the whole of the time i'm there, but on the other hand, it might agitate and upset her more to not be part of the clean-up. and if she's part of the clean-up, there won't be any clean-up. alzheimer's is a bitch.

speaking of which, i just read this piece, where researchers are beginning to think of it as type III diabetes. mom has type 2 diabetes, as did her mother before her and this makes sense to me. now, i must avoid getting diabetes myself...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

a collection of links i've been saving

i was rather chuffed to notice that i've surpassed 20,000 followers on pinterest.
i guess it's bound to happen when you've pinned 46,793 things.
only a few of which are duplicates.

* * *

higher self yoga, tantrum yoga, goat yoga
or have we reached peak namaste?

* * *

a deliciously biting review of a fancy paris restaurant.
some of the best writing you'll read today.

* * *

you should listen to the containers podcast.
it helped me understand globalization better.
and spoiler alert - there are ships!
the creator tells a bit about it here.
and one more piece about here.

* * *

speaking of podcasts,
i need to stop procrastinating and just make one already.

* * *

after reading about how the fda has opened up genetic testing
so companies can tell you, for example, whether you are at risk for late onset alzheimer's.
i'm thinking about having my personal genome mapped.
would you want to know?

* * *

a new carlsberg campaign revives
"probably the best beer in the world"
and features mads mikkelsen.

* * *

maritime startups. interesting.

* * *

watching girlboss on netflix.
it's a bit like new girl with a nasty, unappealing main character.
it seems the guardian agrees.
what are you binge-watching these days?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

yoga and the unquiet mind

the sound of mats and heavy cream-colored yoga blankets being spread out. yawns and deep breaths as everyone settles in, trying to let go of a busy day and be there, on the mat, in the cool, dimly-lit room. the woman next to me massages her ovaries with abandon. on the other side, someone places a purple block under her lower back and stretches out, sighing deeply. i try to do the same (minus the ovary massage part). try to land there, in the room, in the cool, in the hush, to quiet my mind and leave my day behind. a siren blares outside. i wiggle around on my mat, trying to block it out. the instructor comes in. he's my favorite for now, while my other favorite is on maternity leave. i wonder briefly if that's ok, to have a favorite in her absence. i decide it is and try to clear my mind again. it flits gaily off to my undone to-do list. then to an afternoon conversation, then back to the list. i pull it back to the room, picturing in my mind my straining arm muscles, physically trying to pull my mind back to be here. present. in this room. right now. it sticks out its tongue and flounces off, cursing the travel agency, skating over an unfinished risk assessment, pausing over powerpoint and that two hours i'll never have back.

we start with that half moon pose, lying on our backs, legs curved to the right, left one crossed over right, arms stretched out to the right. i love this pose, except when i get a muscle cramp in my back, just beneath my shoulder blade. it loosens and i realize that i've just counted to 89 without even realizing it. stupid, restless mind. i mentally strain the muscles in my arms again, dragging it back to the room, to my purple mat. telling it to stay. it does, for about two seconds, like a disobedient dog. i'm not a dog person.

i think about the dentist appointment i made, the trips ahead, my undone to-do list, that obsession we have with cake at work, how that woman beside me massaged her ovaries, what's for dinner, yesterday's productive late meeting, how awesome it is to work with creative people. so many thoughts, so loud, so active. SO not present here, in this room, in these long stretches, that my muscles are longing for, but which my restless mind is clearly rejecting.

we do that position where you sit on your knees, feet out to the sides of your posterior and lie back over a yoga bolster. i always put a block under the end of my bolster, so it's at an angle, as my neck doesn't like leaning back. it's one of my favorite positions. mostly because i can do it easily and many others cannot. it makes me feel better about how i can't bend forward and touch my knees with my nose in those folded forward positions that seem so easy for everyone else. i wonder why it's easy for me and i enjoy the stretch on the front of my thighs. it's here i can still feel the remnants of how the nerves in my left leg were affected by my back problems of a year and a half ago, but i find it interesting and not painful. it feels like i'm helping the nerves heal. and for a few minutes, i'm there, in my body. my mind stops flitting around.

but then we lie back on the mat, to feel the buzz of the intense position. and my mind runs away again. back to the list, and the alzheimer's and the travel plans and the dentist and dinner. and as i once again reach 89 in the endless unconscious count, i remember that i'm practicing.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

raised by wolves

my cousin died today. he was only 57 and battling cancer. i've noticed that cancer often wins. that's far too young. he was one of dad's favorites, he had worked for the associated press and was also press secretary to a governor. those were things dad admired, and so we did too. he was only 7 years older than me. he was brutally handsome. someone so good-looking should not get cancer. when dad was dying, he came to the hospital with wine and cheese and snacks for us. we didn't know him all that well, since he'd grown up in brookings and we grew up in platte, but still, he understood what we needed in that moment when we were losing dad and so he brought it to us, instinctively. leaving us with our sorrow and the wine, not intruding, but giving us exactly what we needed. only alcohol would do. and dad would have approved. dad would not have approved of him dying so young. he would have made that tsk sound out of the side of his mouth, shaking his head and perhaps choking back a tear. he would have thought it unfair. and it is unfair. i had lunch with him (my cousin, not dad) on my way home after dad died. another cousin (once removed) joined us. and we laughed over our salads at having been raised by wolves. he wasn't sick at all then. the cancer hadn't yet come. and it was only two and half years ago. he was handsome and smart and funny and we laughed and we remembered my dad and we remembered our childhoods and we laughed some more. and he told me some about his life - how he'd married a bit late, but found love and a family at last and how happy that was. maybe it's all we can hope for...a few moments of happiness, some wine...and to be raised by wolves.

Monday, April 03, 2017

truths right now

you reach a point, perhaps very soon after you turn 50, when you start to think about the truth. and about telling it. and a list begins to pile up...and you have to get it out...

~ you don't have to like everyone.

~ and it's ok if everyone doesn't like you. life would be boring if that were the case.

~ it's great when you can have a gossipy conversation with husband on the phone about the state of the energy industry in denmark. seriously, i mean this, tho' it's hard to imagine gossip about electric and oil companies. however, it's a real thing.

~ i'm a bit jealous of a 5-floor office building with 77 meeting rooms (says she who is constantly booking meetings at the last minute and wishing there were more meeting rooms where she works).

~ it sucks when your mother is being erased by alzheimer's.

~ i'm totally cool with the no more periods part of menopause (especially as difficult as those menstrual cups proved to be), but the memory blips part is a bit disconcerting in light of the above.

~ the new s*town podcast by the folks at serial and this american life is an amazing snapshot of today's united states. and over far too soon.

* * *

spring has shown itself since i started this list a few days ago and it feels like things are shifting...not just the season. i decided to go lighter with my hair again after nearly two years of not coloring it. it feels like exactly what i needed right now - rather fabulous, actually. if i were to scan on an inner level and give a status assessment for this moment...i'd say awake, hopeful, energetic. i'm sleeping better and stressing less about the cheeto. life feels enjoyable, not hard - both at work and at home. i have an inner sense of bubbling anticipation. i don't know what it's about, but i'm looking forward to finding out.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

sunday night dinner

i think sunday night dinners are my favorites. it's then that i poke around in the corners of the refrigerator, freezer and the cupboards and throw something together. something that will likely never be duplicated, but which often is some of the most delicious food that we eat. a few leaves of kale that survived winter in the garden, the last of the leeks (also plucked from the garden today), a bag of oven-dried tomatoes from the freezer (also from the garden), and a couple of thick pork chops from pigs we raised ourselves, half a container of mascarpone. add to that a bit of butter and a glug of white wine to sauté down the leek and a package of frozen mixed beans. with some red rice from the cupboard to accompany it. it's in the oven now and i can't wait.

Friday, March 31, 2017

have you listened to shittown yet?

shittown. the new podcast from the creators of serial and this american life was released on tuesday. i've listened to it twice, so far. it seems so much like a snapshot of today. a musing on what it means to be southern, white, gay, closeted, intelligent and living among people who are not (gay or intelligent). it is a musing on the meaning of time. and life. and suicide. it's deep. complex. disturbing. compassionate and empathetic. non-judging. and tragic.

have you listened yet? if so, what do you think? i really want to talk about this with someone!

Monday, March 27, 2017

monday musings

i have a love-hate (hate, mostly) relationship with the work of lena dunham, but her fierce, feminist lenny letter is growing on me. it's a gathering of smart, honest, courageous, strong women, writing about politics, culture, the workplace and even menopause. i highly recommend subscribing, especially if you're a woman, but also if you know any women. 

in one of the many excellent podcast newsletters i get, (this one from gimlet's reply all) i learned about the vibration cooking cookbook, by vertamae smart-grosvenor. i found it available as an eBook through my library and i was paging through. it's only part cookbook (including recipes for racoon and squirrel), but mostly memoir. and in it i came across this lovely notion on the upside of being tribal. i'll admit i didn't think tribal behavior had an upside, what with the state of the world today, but this passage made me reconsider:

"when you are tribal you don't have slots for loving--you love. you can find a different kind of love for everyone. you love cousin blanche because she was your granddaddy's sister's child; "aunt" belle, even though she ain't really your blood aunt, because you feel just like she was kin to you. what i mean is, it (being tribal) gives you a big heart."

and it strikes me that these days, we are in need of bigger hearts.

* * *

it was about time we started to openly discuss the lies.
and you know it's bad when the wsj calls him on it. 

* * *

and because we need to think about something else:

or the future of photography?
speaking of feminism, the british library is making material from spare rib available online.
maggie may is always able to write beautifully, even about the pain of life.
look what you can find if you go dumpster diving in denmark - enough to feed an army!
and how about a writing assignment from the vinyl cafe?
this animation by kristen lepore is profound and sad.
and this one is just plain weird.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

on the young side of the old people now

as of today, i embark on a new decade. it was a great day. colleagues offering congratulations all day, good wishes pouring in on facebook and instagram and via text and email, a gathering for drinks & snacks at the end of the day that ended in thoughtful gifts, some kinda crazy gifts and much laughter. a big bouquet from husband. and a trip to louisiana, that landmark of modern art, with a friend in the evening. it was a great start to this new phase. my friend mentioned a colleague who said he was super happy when he turned 50 because he was a youngster again - being on the young side of the old people now, rather than on the old side of the middle. i like that thought. another friend said, "if you haven't grown up yet, now you don't have to." i like that as well. i'm weirdly ok with it. it's the next logical step. i started a new project today as well - i'm going to do a daily video for a whole year and put them together, one second each, thereby having a video record of my 50th year. the child gave me the idea. i think it's going to be interesting to think in video. i'll continue my daily photos as well, as that's now completely ingrained in my way of being. happy birthday to me.

Monday, March 20, 2017

monday funday

i was worried all night about the middle of the night uber i'd ordered for sabs to meet her 6 a.m. flight from newark and so i slept very restlessly. i dreamed that i had put regular gas in husband's diesel quashqai. and then i dreamed that i was reaching into a cramped space to lift out what i thought would be a kitten and i found it was a none-too-happy baby possum. scout, who hadn't been around for over a week, chose to meow plaintively at the window at a little after midnight. so when the dulcet tones of husband's north korean telephone (it's a huawei, which, i realize, is chinese, not north korean, but calling it north korean is so much funnier) called out that it was time to wake up, i wasn't ready. it felt like i'd only just gotten to sleep. plus, i didn't want to be in trouble for the gas tank thing. it wasn't the best start to a monday morning, which can be sketchy in and of itself. so i ate chocolate chip cookies for breakfast and made a pot of tea. i went to sit down at my freshly-renovated desk area to get to work and found scout sleeping in my chair. i couldn't possibly disturb him, i mean, what if he never got comfortable again? so i moved the chair over and brought in another one. let sleeping cats lie, they say, right?

* * *

some moron in the white house (there are so many), did not realize this was satire.

Friday, March 17, 2017

catalog of a day :: the natural order of things

my child is in new york city. she bought me a stick of the milk holographic highlighter, it's hard to find, but she found it at urban outfitters. you can never have too much highlighter. i spent the day at a shipyard. it was full of the acrid smell of welding, containers filled with piping, miles of wires, the clang of metal on metal and beeping cranes. i loved every minute of it. it's raining. i'm watching billions on hbo nordic. and drinking a g&t, made with...wait for it...belgian...gin. it's not bad. it's nice to be home with the cats. and husband (tho' he's at a meeting, so technically, he's not home right now.) if the photo above were a loft you could live in, i'd move there. instead, it's the upper deck of a ship that will be delivered in may. they have a bit more work to do. but look at that light. and that height to the ceiling. i could deal with both of those. tho' i'd probably need glass in the windows. i can't get enough of the marvelous vinyl café. today on the way home, husband laughed so hard at the story about the carwash that he cried and could almost not see to drive. i went to yoga three times this week. the light is returning. i am in the final days of my 40s and honestly, it feels fine. like the natural order of things.

* * *

interesting things to read: 11 non-political stories. this terrifying piece on trump's puppetmaster's plan to destroy the eu. and because you'll need to think about something light-hearted after reading that - this piece on the locations of 80s movies. and this totally amusing piece on (possibly) the world's smallest lego ship.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

things kids should do as kids

i keep seeing this piece about things that kids should do by themselves before they turn 13 circulating on facebook. and while it's all well and good that kids do their own homework and can make their own lunch (i really should have enforced that one) and set their own alarms, i feel like it's kind of a careful and tentative list and a little self-serving for the parents. and who the hell doesn't talk to the teacher when it's necessary or help with homework? that's just lazy, it seems to me.

my child is 16 now, but when i think back to the things she did before she was 13, i could add a number of things to the list:

~ fly somewhere alone. when she was 7, we sent the child to the states for the summer. of course, we paid the unaccompanied minor fee to sas, and i delivered her to the gate in copenhagen and my sister was waiting for her outside customs in chicago, but she did an 8 hour flight by herself. she had to entertain herself, excuse herself to go to the bathroom, tell the stewardesses what she wanted to drink and mess with that infernal onboard entertainment system on her own. it wasn't her first time on a plane, so she was already a routine traveler and knew how it worked, but it was still a big step. and she did it with flying colors, also flying home again on her own at the end of the summer.

~ have secrets. we all need something that's our own, that we maybe share with a friend, but not necessarily our parents. a couple of summers ago, we were walking down a creek that flows behind our property and the child and her best friend were reminiscing about a time that they ran scared from some aggressive swans at a little lake that you come to, some ways down the creek. i knew they had played down there, but not that they'd had a bit of an exciting experience, nor that they had walked as far up the creek as they had. it made them strong and brave and gave them something they had together that wasn't anyone else's.

~ eat food you planted and picked yourself in a garden. our child has grown up picking strawberries, popping a warm, sweet cherry tomato, picked directly from the greenhouse into her mouth, sifting through soil after freshly-dug potatoes. she knows where food comes from and how it tastes different and much better than what you buy in the store. she has spent time helping me pick countless little tiny violets so we could make a vivid purple cordial that we mixed with fizzy water and enjoyed on a hot summer day.

~ make the child use public transport. to get to school, to get to a movie, to get to her friends, to get to a party. buy a travel card and know how to use it. to find her way to the brandy melville at sloane square in london, leading the way for a group of her friends. to get herself around london. and copenhagen. and st. petersburg. know how to read a metro map. and figure out how to get on the metro in the right direction. these are important steps to adulting.

~ eat sushi. the child should learn to eat sushi. early and often. mine started at age two and a half. and at about 4, she woke up briefly in a restaurant in manila, ate her weight in sashimi and then fell back asleep. i'm pretty proud of that.

and if i expand the age range to 15, there are a couple more...

~ be part of a major protest for a worthy cause. i will be eternally grateful to my strong female cousins for the idea that we would head for the women's march in washington, d.c. and i am so happy to have shared the experience with my 15-year-old child. now she knows the energy of half a million women and people and her father who support women on her own body and mind and psyche. it strikes me as one of my strongest parenting moments.

~ know the difference between good makeup and drugstore makeup. yes, this is a girl thing, but it's important in today's world. and some drugstore makeup is good, but you can't know which unless you've tried it and also tried the good stuff. (and yes, maybe i am justifying buying my child chanel foundation. but that doesn't make it any less important.)

* * *

very cool, evocative photos of small town america.
and he even used flash! or maybe just lit them up at night.

* * *

what a cool story. goes off to buy a metal detector.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

paradox :: soft, cuddly guns

our annual spring exhibition is fast approaching and this year's theme is paradox. i was collecting ideas on pinterest (of course) and then i came across natalie baxter's work somehow or other and suddenly felt very inspired. 

so this weekend, i dug out the sewing machine and loads of scraps from various quilts and other projects and i got down to work. making soft, cuddly guns.

i think in these politically charged times, i was drawn to creating something political. each gun will have a stick in the top (to make them easier to hang), with a flag hanging from it - kind of like those toy guns with a flag that pops out and says "pow." the flags will have words on them that are at odds with the violence of guns. words like love and peace and happy.

i made a dozen of them, but i'm not sure that i'm finished as of yet. i was discussing it with husband and he had some good ideas. perhaps a sort of soft, plush jesus icon in the middle, since the mantra of certain subsets of the land of my birth these days is "more guns, more jesus." you don't get much more paradoxical than that. and it just might be the final title of my work.

it was very good to be making something again. i had missed it. i love that i had some scraps of gold and silver from long-ago making some pants for sabin, those shiny bits are just the right touch for my soft, cuddly guns.

* * *

norwegian state broadcaster nrk implements quiz before comment policy to ensure that those leaving comments read and understood the article.
all news sites should do this.
norway for the win.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

it's the little things

finding joy in the little unexpected gifts from longtime bloggy friends. thank you so much! small acts of kindness, generosity and love like this are getting me through these mad political times. the kitties think those little fabric kitties and bunnies are for them! and now all of my pagemarkers will be kitties! 

* * *

it seems i'm not the only one with post-election stress disorder.

* * *

meanwhile, in an alternate universe:
the hillarybeattrump website

* * *

i do hope gates & buffet are right about a return to a fact-based reality.

* * *

best troll of the week:
the guys who handed out russian flags to the stupid crowd
listening to the cheeto's speech at the cpac meeting.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


about right now:

~ there is a (disturbingly large) segment of the population that is wilfully, proudly dumb. that's disconcerting. people who were dumb used to want to conceal that fact. i wish they would again. i blame reagan for the fact that they no longer want to do this. and doubly so dubya. and now, we see the results of it with the current dysfunctional administration.

~ sometimes it's fun to go against your own nature and just quietly observe instead of jumping into the conversation with your own stories. or rehearsing them in your head before it's your turn and then not really listening. this is also hard. but undoubtedly good for you. and by you, i mean me.

~ when your own mother is losing her mind, it's always interesting to listen to someone else's lightly racist mother reminisce. being able to remember is a good thing.

~ husband took a disgusting manufactured (albeit locally) plastic-wrapped cake of the sort that will be what survives a nuclear war (which these days, is closer than we might think/hope) to his meeting instead of the beautiful homemade cake that i made for him. he took the cake i made for him along, but "forgot" it in the car. the purchased cake was a joke. apparently. (tho' i fail to see the punchline if one doesn't reveal that one has actually brought a proper cake.) but i'm not bitter. or maybe i am. seriously, wtf?

~ i would feel better if we just had a few days of sunshine. i'm definitely in an end-of-winter-darkness funk. and probably have a serious vitamin d deficiency.