Tuesday, February 25, 2020

i have the discipline to write 750 words a day


for 37 days in a row, i have written a minimum of 750 words on 750words.com. i do usually more or less stop when i hit 750, but it's not always exact, i tend to finish my thought. and that means that as of today, i've written 30,729 words, 19,582 of them have been in february. i began mid-january. it's been very good, re-establishing a daily writing habit. i'm not sure how it slipped away from me the way it did and i'm grateful to have it back. i am very motivated by the badges you can achieve on the site. these are the ones i've gotten so far. in a few more days, i'll have the turquoise horse as well, for finishing the monthly challenge. maybe it's easier to complete when that month is the shortest one, but i've signed up for march as well, so i intend to continue.


and speaking of march, instead of my usual stream-of-consciousness, in march i'm going to write 750 words a day on our novel. whether i write a snippet of the story, or a character sketch or just a description of a location or try to capture a feeling, it will move us closer to shaping our story. it's time to get all those ideas that have been swirling in my head, fed by various readings, observations, discussions and research onto the page. this story isn't going to write itself and now i've proven that i can write at least 750 words per day. that adds up. i will have at least 23,250 at the end of march and that is definitely something.

Monday, February 24, 2020

ghost ship

photo from the Irish Times article
i'm a bit obsessed with the story of the M/V Alta, a ghost ship that washed up on a remote shore in ireland after last weekend's storm dennis. it was unmanned and had been abandoned and floating derelict in the atlantic for 17 months. it's 77 meters long, built in 1976 and last registered to an unknown company under tanzanian flag. its last voyage was said to be from greece to haiti, which seems a strange route. it had some kind of irreparable engine failure somewhere off bermuda and the 10-person crew (i cannot find any info about the nationality of said crew) first had supplies air-lifted to them and then was rescued by the US coast guard ahead of an oncoming hurricane in september 2018. the owner was supposed to tow the ship somewhere for repairs, but it seems that never happened. there are rumors that it was being towed to guyana when it was hijacked and then left to drift again. none of the reports mention what cargo was onboard at its abandonment, nor have i been able to learn the nationalities of the crew. it's all very mysterious. the last sighting of the ship was by a british navy vessel at some undisclosed location last august-september (they're very cagey about precisely when and where). in a couple of the articles, it was mentioned that it was sighted off africa and spain (possibly out near the azores or canaries?) in recent months. it must have been caught in the gulf stream and carried north. another article i read suggested it went north along the US coast and then crossed the Atlantic from higher up.

the other night at the bar, an old maersk captain came in and i asked him what he thought about it. he immediately grinned and said, "it's the flying dutchman!" - the legendary ghost ship! he also said that such vessels are not at all unusual. some nefarious character picks up a ship for cheap, hauls one illicit cargo - drugs, weapons, supplies that are under embargo, etc. - and then abandons the ship. it would stand to reason that sailing between greece and haiti, it could have had some unusual cargo on board, as that doesn't seem like a normal trade route. but, i wonder what happened to that cargo? perhaps the reports of the ship being towed to guyana are actually a rendezvous with another ship that offloaded the cargo and sailed off with it, leaving the ship.

it seems strange that the owner is so hard to trace and strangely enough, an owner seems to have presented themselves to the irish authorities and was awaiting verification. that could be anyone, wanting a ship - that was my brother-in-law's first idea, that we should claim it and then we'd have a ship - a 44-year-old ship that had been abandoned and drifting for a year and a half. when i showed the maersk captain the picture, he said, it was a "russer" - at least built in russia, just by looking at it. i haven't read that, but it could be. none of the articles have talked about earlier names or owners through the years, but there must have been many. i just can't stop thinking about it. there must be more to the story. so many unanswered questions.

if it was a nefarious owner, wanting to use it for one illicit cargo, i imagine the crew was filipino and i wonder what their fate was - how did they get back home if the owner had abandoned them and the ship? and what about the cargo? they hadn't yet reached their destination when they broke down, so there had to be a cargo on board. i'm imagining all kinds of stories for this! maybe i need to work in such a storyline to our story. we have lumke's voyage in 1723 and a contemporary voyage - hmmm, how to connect them? or is this a whole new story? i was always fascinated by the kursk sinking as well and voraciously read everything about that back when it happened. if you told that story, you'd want them to be rescued though, as the ending there wasn't a good one for everyone on board. that was in putin's early days and he didn't handle that very well - he handled it like a KGB agent, not a leader.

but, back to the alta. what was it that broke down and couldn't be fixed? were there no spares on board, so the crew couldn't get it running again, or was it a cheap, third-rate crew that didn't have the know-how? the owner, wanting it for just the one voyage, didn't plan on needing to repair it. anyway, it's all very interesting and would be a story worth telling - even if i have to make up most of the details.

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new information from marine traffic - it was panama flag, not tanzania. and there is a list of the names the ship has had...


very weird with a norwegian flag and name after the alta name...this story is so very curious.

wait! more from marine traffic: "She was also in the news in 1983 when she sank off Norway. Raised and repaired she continued trading." this story gets better and better!

Friday, February 21, 2020

another attempt at life drawing








these are from my second attempt at life drawing. as you can see, we had a female model the second time around. i found it harder than the first time. i had a lot more trouble letting go and freeing up my hand for the lines. kind of disconcerting that the best ones were the ones i did blind (not looking down at the paper) or mostly blind. that was the closest i came to letting go. i'm going to a yoga thing on sunday, so i'll miss this weekend's sunday morning life drawing session. looking at these results, maybe that's for the best.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

once upon a dark and stormy night


the rain just never stops, even hollister can't believe it, he's never seen anything like it in his little life. and the winds are back, so it really is a dark and stormy night out there. it seems like it's been raining for a month and the forecast for the week ahead looks bleak. it leaves me feeling dismal and i dream of escaping to somewhere that has sunshine. we are going to barcelona in a couple of weeks, but that seems like an eternity from now. i hope barcelona is practicing its sunshine, because i'm really going to need it. denmark has always been rainy - i remember my first november here, i don't think the sun shined once, the darkness and the rain were just as unrelenting as they are now. i remember that we went out to dinner one evening, riding our bikes, despite the rain. i foolishly wore a dress, it was a bit gauzy and romantic and had a better story than i did, because it was from the j. peterman catalog. it got caught in my bike chain and husband (who was just boyfriend at that point) had to kneel down in a puddle and get it unstuck because i was trapped. that made the rain a little more bearable - both his chivalry and a little bit his suffering. we've been doing all kinds of errands together this week, despite the rain - a trip to ikea, a visit to a fancy paint store where an old man hand-mixed two colors for us, followed by a dinner together at the burger shack (they have the best fries - with fluffy grated parmesan and fresh thyme on top). it's not the same as that long ago dark and rainy night, but it's pretty good. despite the rain.

on links and hands and the strange ways of grief

it seems that email newsletters are the new blogs and i found myself subscribing to edith zimmerman's drawing links some months ago after reading about it in the reply all newsletter (which is another very good one). anyway, edith (who seems to be much younger and more millennial than her name sounds) draws much of the newsletter as simple cartoon panels and they are very navel gazing and even a bit mundane, just as good old blogging was. maybe that's why i like it so much. as the name implies, she also always has some links to interesting things - book reviews, other newsletters, just generally interesting writing out there on the web.


without her, i probably wouldn't have found this thoughtful piece from the school of life on hands and the virtues of studying them closely. and of course, that made me think about my mom's hands (pictured here in a photo i've posted before). i can picture them on the steering wheel of the old blue stationwagon, air typing whatever thoughts flitted through her mind, or perhaps what the announcer was saying on the radio. i find myself doing that as well. her hands did so many things - repairs in the barn, a fancy hanging macrame table with glass top and fiery orange ceramic beads that i recall her making back in the 70s. i wish i had that table now, or at least the beads so i could recreate it, i wonder what ever happened to it? she buckled halters and harnesses on horses. she gripped the handlebars of her vast collection of bikes and rode them on long treks. in her later years, her hands became wrinkled and diminished, but i think they were actually still deceptively strong and capable, even as her mind grew weak and incapable. perhaps the piece is right that, "we might go so far as to say that if what we can colloquially call ‘the soul’ – that confluence of deep identity, vulnerability and singularity dwells anywhere, then it must be in the hands."  

my grief over the loss of my mother feels like a strange thing. i still haven't cried about it, i think because it was such a relief in some ways - the mother i knew was long gone for some time, but it comes to me in odd moments. the other day, a little shed that was housing some chairs and other things from the garden collapsed in the storm winds we had. i'd been feeding some of the wild kitties inside of a birdhouse sabin built in her woodworking class in the 6th grade that was standing under the shed. i poured the food into a little pink kitty bowl that was one of many that my mother bought at some point in a dollar store and which i brought home with molly, when i brought her back to denmark in 2012. the storm was raging with near-hurricane force winds and lashings of rain, but i suddenly panicked that both the bird house and that little pink bowl had been smashed. the dismay i felt at losing this stupid item, but which my mother had bought, was one of the strongest pangs of grief i'd felt so far. the thought that it was smashed and gone hit me hard, bringing home to me that my mother is also gone and i was despondent at the thought of losing this strange, small connection to her. so i donned my wellies and a coat and rushed out there to see if i could find the bowl and the bird house in the rubble. and it turned out that they were both fine - the bird house was knocked off its pole, but otherwise fine and the bowl flew into the grass, but was completely intact and not even chipped. relief flooded through me and i was almost embarrassed by how upset i'd been at the thought of losing that silly, cheap bowl. i had also been worried about the bird house, but knew that husband could fix that if it was broken. but the bowl could have been beyond repair. i've brought it in the house now and washed it and put it up in the cupboard where it's safe, a small piece of my mother, still intact.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

loads of links i want to save



it's stormy and raining (to the surprise of no one) and this
italian cioccolata calda is the perfect antidote.
i put a spoonful of mascarpone in mine.

* * *

i've joined a book club whose sole mission is to read ulysses, so i went looking for help, since i'm finding that it's nearly impossible.  wanted to save those links here:
  • wikihow's how to read ulysses - they have a lovely emphasis on enjoying the humor.
  • overcoming the fear of reading ulysses
  • "many novels are so challenging we never manage to finish them," rang a bell with me, thanks harvard
  • how to read ulysses, this time from roddy doyle at the guardian
  • also from the guardian, is ulysses the hardest novel to finish?
  • more advice on how to read ulysses, on medium
  • “there are two kinds of people. those that have read ulysses and those that haven't,” in the economist
  • this crazy person read it in a week! 
  • rereading ulysses (kinda counts for me, since i read some of it for a course 20 years ago)
  • everything you need to enjoy reading ulysses (goodness knows i need this) - has loads of great links! 
* * *

very interesting look at letter locking.

* * *

this piece on brexit becoming reality is everything.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

i wonder who made this tiny bicycle


i think about the person who bent and twisted this wire to make this tiny little bicycle. it's just one piece, so it's like one of those line sketches, where you draw the whole thing without the pencil leaving the page. it's slightly wonky, but it's also utterly wonderful in its tinyness and level of detail - the kickstand, the handlebars, the wheels and the chain, just a little wire doodle, but somehow perfect. i wonder if they made other things? i found this in a bowl of tiny things for 10kr. in a strange secondhand shop where we bought a little yellow boat. when i saw it, i knew i had to have it. it's very tiny, about 3cm is all. i keep it up on a high shelf, because i'm afraid the cats will play with it and then it will be lost underneath something or get vacuumed up because i don't see it on the floor. but it makes me smile whenever i see it. and i think about that person who made it, wondering how many attempts they made before making this perfect specimen. dozens? or perhaps they just got very lucky on the first try.