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.