Sunday, January 09, 2022

a creative treasure trove and a reminder to live life to the fullest

one of the members of our local creative group posted on our facebook page that she was giving away her batik supplies, including a number of cantings (tjantings), which i've long been looking for (they're the little "pens" with a vessel to hold the hot wax). i wrote to her and said i'd love to have them. lucky for me, i was first. she lives only about 10 minutes away, so i arranged to stop by this afternoon to pick them up. i took a bottle of wine, since she didn't want to sell the supplies.

i had met her a few years ago at one of our exhibitions, but she's not a super active member, so i didn't know her well. stepping into her home, i loved how creative it felt...the entry hallway was covered in a collage of wallpaper samples. it's always wonderful to step into a creative home. next up, was a wall of book shelves and two comfy chairs. so inviting and wonderful. she had the things all out on the table and invited me to sit down. 

like the treasure trove another friend gave me last year, she had her extensive notes from her art education, with all the exact formulas of all the colors. she had highlighted some of the most key instructions for me. and it seemed important to her that i could read and understand them. i felt, like i did last spring, so privileged to be given this treasure. i also fear that there is no longer such an education, where you really learn everything there is to learn about dyeing fabric. 

she also gave me her color samples, on which she had carefully noted her exact formulas for achieving the colors, sometimes with multiple color baths. when i look at them, what i see is a quilt. a beautiful, rich, colorful quilt. 

she looked different than when i last saw her. her hair was very short, but i hadn't realized that it was because she had been through chemotherapy. and that that was why she was giving away her batik supplies. she has an aggressive breast cancer and at her last appointment, her doctor told her to think about how she wanted to use what time she had left. what that must feel like. it takes my breath away.

it was sobering to talk to her and her husband about what it's like to have a terminal cancer diagnosis in the time of corona. and even though we only scratched the surface, all of us with tears in our eyes, it was very moving and intense and i felt privileged to be part of the moment, even as i can't even imagine how it must feel.

i can't imagine what it's like, but there, in the moment i could, for just a second, even though it isn't my story. and then i understood the feeling i got that it was so important to her to share her notes on the colors. 

we all want to leave something behind. we want to have mattered. we want to create something lasting. and i want to create something lasting from the fabric she dyed and from her supplies. so i'm going to learn how to use them, even though they require learning about caustic soda. i have her carefully-written instructions and i can ask her for help, as she only lives about 10 minutes away. 

we have to live our lives while they're here, seize the moments while we can, and not waste a single one and leave behind all the beauty we can.

i am so grateful to have her samples and her supplies and i will think of her every single moment as i use them to make something beautiful. it's the very least i can do.

Sunday, January 02, 2022

2021 :: a second plague year, in pictures


it started off ok. a quiet new year's with friends, some baking - homemade sausage rolls, cardamon buns, quite a lot of working from home. we were able to hold a couple of croquis sundays before everything shut down in earnest. we bought a greenhouse on the blå avis and spent a saturday dismantling it and carting it home. and our child turned 20 halfway across the world! so we gave her valentino sneakers in neon pink. as one does.


working from home meant my coworkers were mostly lounging around on the bed or staring out the windows. i was jealous of them. we had actual snow and enough cold temperatures so that the lake actually froze and though we oddly didn't skate, we spent a whole weekend down there, enjoying being on the ice, grilling sausages and loving that there was some actual winter. a week later, temperatures were mild, so we dug the foundation for the new greenhouse. i started a 100 days of payne's grey project, but quickly fell behind and abandoned it in a kind of malaise brought on by the monotony of working from home with shitty internet.


i bought a bright pink sweater and some ceramics from a local artist to cheer myself up. there were signs of spring. working from home continued and it was nice to live in the countryside to alleviate feeling so confined. making good food and baking were definitely things i chose to do to cope. we finally put the windows in upstairs on the front of the house. i bought an unusual color palette in linen for making a quilt. and check out how badly husband needed a haircut - we fervently hoped for the hairdressers to open again soon!


a white papa kitty, who was surprisingly friendly, showed up, signaling the advent of spring in earnest. we found a second greenhouse for only 500kr and moved it home on a trailer via the back roads, rather than totally taking it apart. a lot of april went to working on the greenhouses. i'm not sure i ever got dressed in proper clothes - i may have spent the entire month in sweatpants and a hoodie.


things tentatively began to open up and we were able to go back to the office a couple of days a week. i realized that i preferred working at home because the coffee here is much better than the swill that passes for coffee at work. the greenhouses were completed and we planted a few things. weaving at the museum started up again as well, which was very welcome. i attended an embroidery course at the museum in kolding. we hung our spring exhibition, but didn't hold an opening, as larger gatherings still weren't allowed. billy, the prodigal cat, made his annual return (he definitely has another family somewhere) for the summer. the swans built a nest at our end of the lake, but alas, i don't think they ever hatched out any babies. 


summer days came - we had a department outing on a colleague's boat, which was on the most perfect sunny day. flowers bloomed, the garden took off and we had our annual sankt hans bonfire. husband ran a 4:18:4 mini triathlon and seems to have been bit by the triathlon bug. i prepared the warp for my crazy striped tea towels and husband worked on the siding on the west side of the house. 


i finished the rainbow quilt i had made in early 2020, just in time to give it as a gift to friend's daughter who was graduating. we enjoyed the garden bounty that was the reward of all that hard work on the greenhouses in the spring. i made a second quilt, using the funky linen color palette - planning it as a picnic quilt for my work in the exhibition. we spent all the time we could enjoying the garden. i only took a week off, saving my holiday for a hoped-for november trip to the us.


life was essentially back to normal. we were in the office again full time, though we all took days working from home here and there because we had grown accustomed to it. the garden continued to give generously, both veggies and flowers. husband decided to extend the house a couple more meters since he had a new plan for where the stairs should be. an old bloggy friend came to town and explored copenhagen in the rain. husband's eldest ran the copenhagen ironman, which was an absolutely amazing feat of which i am still in awe. i finished the quilt and at our exhibition opening (which was really the closing), i set up a picnic, complete with snacks and cocktails that everyone attending could sample. it was a good month and didn't at all seem like it was in the midst of a plague year.


i resolved to grab all the chances i could for creativity, starting with a lovely weekend down in højer with my creative group. it was absolute bliss and i even got a pair of green sandgren sandals in a little shop run by a lovely woman who i believe made up prices for each customer individually. i made an artwork of a focaccia with all kinds of goodness from the garden to take along for sharing and we made quite a lot of linoleum prints while we were there. then, a few days later, i went to fanø for a very enjoyable day with my weaving group. then, our team had a much-needed trip to copenhagen together and went a long ways towards repairing the damage wrought by too many months of working from home and a boss who had gone down with stress. the coffee continued to be much better at home and the garden generously provided flowers for all the vases in the house.


i attended a gourmet knitting day where i met some lovely and talented knitters and thoroughly enjoyed the company of women. we saw the latest james bond in a posh theatre with reclining seats - the first film we'd seen in the theatre in several years. a hard frost came and stopped my dahlias in their tracks. i brought the mango plant inside, along with all the avocados that i'd been growing as well. my first sweet potato crop was a bit tiny, but it was fun to try growing them. i'm not sure our climate is warm enough for them. i finished four tea of my crazy striped linen tea towels, in time to take them as gifts to the us. just before we left, i found two kittens i didn't know about in the greenhouse. they were absolutely adorable and we quickly found a new home for them.


finally, that longed-for vacation came and we headed for arizona and some sunshine and warmer temperatures. it was a great trip! we went to a sorority gala, the asu-usc football game, we climbed south mountain and we saw the grand canyon and visited sedona. it was so much fun seeing husband see the grand canyon for the first time. back at home, we went to husband's aunt's 90th birthday and i played with shibori in the dye pot twice! once with real indigo. i decided to take a new job in the new year and we put in the windows on the other end of the house. it was yuzu time and i got all that i could and made loads of delicious things with their fragrant goodness.


december started with the discovery of a charming little gin bar at halmtorvet and two visits to jah izakaya with colleagues. i find the food there so inspiring and delicious! we did a small belated thanksgiving gathering. husband made me a christmas calendar, giving me a new holey stone every day - he had collected them last summer as he spread stones from a big bag we had ordered in front of the house. when he was doing it, i asked him if he had found any with holes and he laughed at me. but he was secretly saving them to do the christmas calendar. he's a keeper. mid-month, the child came home and that was wonderful. we've been making her favorite foods and taking care of all the things she needed to do - like going to the doctor and getting a pfizer booster to go with her johnson & johnson vaccination. we had a wonderful white christmas with snow on the ground and the most sparkling, beautiful frosty walk. we should have celebrated husband's eldest's 30th birthday on new year's eve, but she got covid and we all had to isolate until we could test negative (we have all tested negative multiple times now). it wasn't the end to the year we expected, but maybe it was fitting anyway. 

* * *

i wasn't going to do a full month-by-month mosaic post, but i found myself perusing the ones from previous years and decided that it's nice to have them to look back upon. so, as always, this one's for me. and what's nice is that as i looked back over the photos and wrote the words here, i realized it may have been a second plague year, but it wasn't really all that bad. 

Saturday, January 01, 2022

ok, 2022, let's start this off right

it's been a lovely start to the new year. i slept in, then husband brought me a cup of tea and then we went for a long walk in the cool, still, foggy first day of the new year. we went down to give plantage, only encountered a few other people who all said "godt nytår" and then walked back home via the gravel road. it was 10km in total, precisely. then, i made us fresh juices (carrots, oranges, beets, apples, ginger and turmeric) and we had some lunch. 

our mutual resolution is to keep to the 350 grams of meat per person per week that's currently advised by people who care about the climate, but yet are not prepared to go vegan. i want to further resolve to only buy the products the grocery store discounts because they're close to expiration or from the too good to go app. we will buy essentials like milk, olive oil, butter and cheese, whether they're "mad spild" or not. 

i signed up for some challenges through the conquerer app. i'll admit that i'm a sucker for an instagram ad. but, i find the notion motivating - you virtually walk routes like route 66 or yellowstone or mount everest and you earn medals. the 10k we walked today put me closer to macchu picchu, since i chose the inca trail as my first challenge.  i won't have time to walk 10k every day, but even 2-3 will make a difference and i feel like this app and the challenges will motivate me and make me get out there and move, even when the darkness or rain makes it difficult. 

there was even time for a bit of rest and bonding with the kittens before dinner, which was an easy carpaccio (110 grams of that alotted 350). i got a bunch of lemons in a box this week, so i preserved them with chili and salt (inspired by this recipe). and i made a massive stuffed bread with all the leftover cheese i had in the fridge and the excess of eggs coming from the hens (we're getting 4-5 a day, despite the darkness), plus some bacon and leftover spinach. it's still in the oven and will be for a surprise outdoor picnic tomorrow in copenhagen for the corona-stricken birthday girl.  

in all, it's been a good start to the new year. i even managed to start fresh on our novel and write 438 words! yay for 2022!

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 :: we won't be sad to see you go

a blue-toned photo from each month of 2021 and a selfie that seems to fit the messy hair and the hoodie and sweatpants that were so prevalent this year. 

a selection of 2021's creative output. it came in fits and starts. weaving, cooking, stitching, quilting, lino prints, baking, gardening and dyeing. need more creativity in 2022.

and no year would be complete without the cats and the kittens. we said goodbye to our sweet freya (bottom right) when she got hit by a car. but everyone else is just fine. 

omicron is raging, and betty white died on the last day of 2021, sealing its spot on the worst year ever lists, but let's still hope that 2022 will be better. happy new year, one and all. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

home for christmas

three flights, one missing bag, nearly 24 hours of travel later and our peeks is home for christmas. bob is so happy to see her and we totally get him. i took the day off to make The Soup, vacuum and secure all her favorite snacks. her good friend, who wants to spend christmas with us(!) came along to the airport to pick her up. husband met us there between meetings. then us three girls came home to snuggle up with the kittens on the couch and watch christmas movies (love actually was first up). aside: dang, it does not age well, and yet remains weirdly charming. i have a quite a lot of work to do up to christmas, but the whole week off between christmas and new year's and i'm looking forward to making good food, playing loads of cards and board games, building a big lego set (i still have a couple stashed away) and having lots of good conversations. now, just to make it through the next ten days of work. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

dad's birthday

today would have been dad's 88th birthday. in this picture, he looks remarkably like jonathan franzen. i wonder if that's why i've always liked jonathan franzen. i look at this picture and i find myself wondering who he was then? it must be from the late 70s, as i know it's from our house in town. i was probably 10, which would have made him 44. who was he at 44? he was in the state legislature. he owned and operated a weekly newspaper. he golfed with his buddies on wednesdays. he was a husband and a dad of two daughters. but who WAS he really? can we ever really KNOW our parents? we see them so differently from our child's perspective. can we ever access who they were? 

it's a weird thing to ponder, because at the same time as we have no idea, who we are is so utterly formed by them. what do i remember of those days? i remember that making him laugh was the goal. that was always the goal. i definitely still do that today, sometimes to my detriment, as always going for the laugh isn't always appropriate. but i still have a deep need to do so. 

i find it hard to go back to the child me, to remember what i thought and how i saw my dad. 

but today, on his birthday, i miss him. i think i write this every year, but i would so much love to talk to him about the state of the world - about trumpty dumpty and climate change and roe v. wade and the rest of it. i don't think he was one to make it all ok for me, but his perspective would always make me think about it in a different way and well, despair less. i miss him. a little bit every day, but especially on his birthday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

a bit of light in the dark

i sat at my computer all day. my bossy apple watch kept reminding me to stand up. i didn't listen. i have a lot to do. it turns out that (re)writing an entire website is a pretty big job (thank goodness i have help). two weeks of holiday helped put my head back on straight, so i'm much more able to concentrate and get down to the work. at the end of the day, in the waning bits of light, i finally listened to my watch and went out for a walk. and i'm so glad i did. the nearly full moon was rising and the air was crisp and cool. i walked 4km and it got pretty thoroughly dark by the time i returned, even though it only took about 40 minutes. 

it's kind of amazing how that 40 minutes of fresh air and being in my body means that when i got back home, i'm full of ideas and energy. that's also surely down to the two weeks of holiday. i always feel like travel fills me with ideas and energy. and now i know that taking a walk helps me keep hold of that. 

the problem is that it's the dark time of year and it's going to get darker for another month. since we live in country roads, i can put on a high visibility vest and get out there and walk anyway. my phone has light. we have a headlamp. this is doable. and worth it for the ideas and energy. 

a brisk walk, like shining a bit of light in the dark.