Wednesday, December 31, 2008

tripping headlong into 2009

me and my headache are still together. it seems we're inseparable. i've given it countless ibuprofen--including the good liquidy-inside green advil kind and more excedrin, with the high grade caffeine in them than i can count, but still it refuses to leave me. and i can't laugh at all, because every time i do, it causes a major coughing fit, which only exacerbates the headache. i'll be happy when this flu is over. poor husband has it now too and is at the stage where he leaves drifts of used kleenex in his wake. he has about another week to look forward to. he will definitely not be taking his usual new year's dip into bursesø (seen below in more summery times) this evening.

we would have stayed home this evening, but since we are responsible for both the main course (beef wellington, on which i cheated and used store-bought pate instead of making my own due to the headache) and the dessert (i made another of those gorgeous, delicious jule logs), we are dragging ourselves to the party. and it's not really fair to sabin, who is well and chipper and looking forward to spending the evening with her best friend andreas, so we're going. it is our best friends and they've been warned we're a bit under the weather, so i'm sure it will be a good evening despite our being sick.

watching sabin, i realized that i want to face 2009 more like she faces life. she doesn't wait for anything. she jumps headlong into everything she does. we gave her a number of different games for christmas and she just gets them out and sets them up and wants to play immediately. no waiting for the time to be right. she wants to play right away, right in the middle of everything. it's a wonderful way to look at the world, if you think about it. to just BE in it all the time, not looking forward or looking back, but looking at and enjoying right here and now. that's how i want to live in 2009. fully and truly in every moment that life brings. just as soon as i get rid of this headache...

happy new year everyone, i look forward to experiencing 2009 together with all of you!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

reading dangerously in 2009

i'm participating in the estella's revenge 2009 year of reading dangerously. i haven't actually decided which dangerous books to read yet and since i've now had a headache for 24 hours straight, it won't be now that i decide my definitive list, but a couple of those zizek that are languishing on my shelf come to mind, as well as christopher hitchens' god is not great, which i bought awhile ago and haven't yet read.  

there is a great list over on the year of reading dangerously site and perhaps i will pick a few from it as well. but, for now, thinking just hurts too much. man, i hope this headache goes away before it's time to go to that new year's party tomorrow night. especially since i'm making the beef wellington main course.

if any of you have any great suggestions for dangerous reads, do let me know, as i need one dangerous read a month for the next 12 months!

still here

...have just had a bit of a relapse on the christmas illness. back for real when this monster headache subsides.  in the meantime, keep the light on for me...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

a supposedly fun thing...

...i'll never do again...*

reminder to self:  do not, no matter how great and immediate your need for shelves, lamps and storage boxes may seem, go to ikea on the first day it is open after it was just closed for 3 days for christmas. especially if that day is a saturday. and please remember that waiting 'til almost 4 p.m. to go (when it closes at 5), which you thought was an especially cunning little part of the plan because you were sure that everyone would be gone by then--is a very bad idea. for one, the other people all had the same idea. and for another, those who got there at 1 and 2 and 3 were all still there, wandering aimlessly in a meatball-induced haze, looking for their children.

arriving at 4 makes you very focused, it's true. and focus is very good in ikea, especially when there are approximately eight gazillion other people there. mostly people who apparently decided over christmas to get divorced and now need to totally outfit another home. so very, very cheery people. those who weren't among the newly separated were out airing their ill-behaved children, who they had been cooped up with in their own homes for the past three days. and now those children were all running amok in ikea, screaming things like, "you weren't waiting for me mom, why weren't you waiting for me?" to a mom who was clearly doped up on xanax for the experience (an advantage you sadly did not share).

on top of it, when you arrive one hour before closing, you get the pleasure of the increasingly insistent voice on the overhead speaker reminding you that ikea will be closing 48 minutes from now. then 47. then 46. and will you please come and pick up your children at the child check area? immediately, or we will mark them down to clearance prices.

in short, an experience that can only be made better by a healthy gin & tonic. so on that note, i think i'll go make one before we have to assemble those very important and essential shelves.

* for the title, i credit david foster wallace's very clever book of the same name.

Friday, December 26, 2008

blog awards at the close of the year

this, for me, has been The Year of the Blog. although i created this blog back in 2004, i went all of 2005 and 2006 without writing a single word on it (thank you gods of google, for not closing it down and giving it away to someone else). blogging has, for me, this year, been a salvation. i know, i keep writing about recovering from a bad job--breaking up with a job can be a bit like a divorce, is what i found out--and like the newly divorced, i keep harping on about it.  but the fact remains that this blog has been an absolutely essential part of my recovery from that divorce with my bad job and my process of finding my way back to me.

but even more important to that process have been the real friends i've made here in the virtual world of the blogosphere....both your words here as comments on my blog and even more so on your blogs, which have made me laugh and think and have brought tears to my eyes and have inspired me. i've become more thoughtful, more creative, better read, and on the whole, been enriched by getting to know all of you.

so, a big thank you to tangobaby, who entirely too kindly bestowed upon me not one but two awards:

the superior scribbler
(i am definitely a scribbler, albeit through typing)

and a love your blog award
which is sparkly, which makes it automatically fabulous.

and i hereby pass both of these awards on to the following bloggers, all of whom i go to on a daily basis for the nourishment of intellect and soul:
  1. woman on the verge, gwen is well-traveled, smart and funny. and she recently asked her readers to send her books to donate to public school teachers in the chicago area. i sent a whole box of only slightly subversive materials her way, but i think she's awesome and hope she doesn't get in trouble for any of those books i sent.
  2. sucker for marketing, amanda invented the hilarious WTF? wednesday posting and she makes me laugh. plus, she recently had a cocktail party for charity, so she is not only hilarious, but generous of heart. amanda started me on the whole balderdash escapade and is one of my fellow contributors to balderdash, which also won these two awards from tangobaby.
  3. oh for the love of blog, molly lives in cape town, which is one of my favorite places in the world. she's smart, she's funny and like me, she also loves lists. plus, she's a very clever member of the balderdash team. 
  4. eyeblog, tara is a relatively new blog friend, but i go to her blog every day to see her pictures and to read the latest of her escapades with all of those girls in the house!
  5. mammy's love, barb has a knack for shedding a positive light on any situation and whenever i need to be lifted up, i go to her blog and read about her latest home improvement projects, her beloved grandbabies or her latest acts of kindness to her family. she makes me want to face the world in a kinder and gentler manner than i have a tendency to do. 
  6. tripping towards lucidity, andi is quite possibly one of the busiest people i know (i know this because i follow her on twitter). whenever i've run out of something to read, i go to her to find some inspiration. 
  7. tiny happy, melissa's embroidery and her photos and sketches always make me take a deep breath and feel peaceful again in the midst of a hectic everyday. 
  8. gotta live a crea8tive life, janni is my only blog friend who lives in the same country as me. she takes great photos and shares all kinds of creativity on her blog. and we are so going to start a creative group in 2009, so be watching out for that!
there are, of course, many, many other blogs i read and love on a daily basis, but i surely have other awards i should have passed on, so i will save those for another day. rules on this to the person who gave them to you, and pass them on to those blogs you love. tangobaby, you'd have been on the list if you hadn't already been the giver. :-)

december views

celeste has had these great postings she called december views, and since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, i will share with you my own december views from our walk today. tangobaby had views of her walk yesterday, so it's a bit of an homage to her as well. i was going to write something profound between each picture, ala the beautiful hele, but instead i think i'll save my voice and let the pictures speak for themselves...

i hope the end of the year brings you walks in a natural wonderland as well...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

buche de nöel

i recovered sufficiently this morning from my cold (fever now gone) to make this:

thank you nigella for the recipe. you may rock, but i kicked butt on this one, even if i do say so myself.

i wonder if i'll have the heart to let anyone cut into it and eat it?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

new balderdash just in

just posted some new's a teaser:

isess - that white residue left in the liquid at the bottom of a glass that has contained ice cubes.

snot-induced randomness

picture unrelated to this post and strictly for the purpose of cheering me up.

i cannot believe it, but i have my second pesky cold of the winter season. and the danes think it's one day before christmas, tho' i know it's really two. i should be downstairs baking cookies, but i had a fight with my spritz cookie press, which is actually so old (it was my grandmother's) that it's spelled "cooky" on the side of it. if i weren't dying, i'd go take a picture of that to show you. however, i'm laying in bed, under the covers, covered in a veritable snowfall of used kleenexes with an apron on (couldn't be bothered to take it off). i want my mommy.

but she's not here and she's not online. so instead, i share a list of utter randomness with all of you...

  1. i have a little plastic captain picard figure by my big computer. 
  2. i keep getting twinges of panic as i know the hour that the stores close approaches. that really bugs me and makes me more than ever want to get off this mad consumer christmas train.
  3. the cat is snoring somewhere in this room.
  4. i have a cousin who gave himself a vasectomy using lidocaine and a well-placed mirror (or so we all imagine).
  5. i am a danger to myself when cutting things in the kitchen (i think we already knew this, but i just saw my bandaid and was reminded).
  6. i would like there to be more evidence that the light is going in the right direction now, but it's 4:42 and dark as dark can be outside.
  7. my sister-in-law was here on sunday and several times out of the corner of my eye i saw her lifting up things to look at the labels on the bottom of them. what the hell was that?
  8. i am really happy that we will have christmas, just the three of us, tomorrow and then with my husband's older daughters and our best friends on real christmas day.
  9. i'm going to make a duck for the first time in my life (it's organic and french, that will make it good, right?)
  10. the danes call today "lille juleaften." little christmas eve. isn't that cute? 
  11. i'm hungry for oyster stew, which my mom always makes on christmas eve, but couldn't find any oysters today and didn't want to venture farther afield what with the aches and chills and mountains of snot.
  12. i bought some bright green pesto gouda because it looked festive.
as you can see, i didn't have much today...i'm going to go try to get well now.  i wish you a merry merry and a happy happy, whatever and however you celebrate.

Monday, December 22, 2008

scent of a woman

i love perfume. in fact, i'm a little mad for it. and i have a rather obscene amount of it. just in the past few months, i've bought:

  1. tom ford - white patchouli
  2. vera wang - bouquet
  3. mac - creations hue: turquatic
  4. calvin klein - eternity summer
  5. burberry - summer
  6. chanel - no. 5 eau premiere
  7. kenneth cole - black
  8. mont blanc - individuel
  9. michael kors - island
part of it is because i am too frequently in a duty free. and it's not because the perfume is necessarily cheaper there, it's more because it's there in such a decadent, sinful array. they have it all (even the juicy couture now, monica). and no one is snotty to you like at the department store perfume counters. you can try everything (i cannot wear the juicy couture, for example and both me and everyone who had to sit near me on a recent flight to singapore wished i hadn't tried it). and you're quite unaccosted and unmolested by sales people (except in singapore, where they must be on commission, but you can deflect them by walking around on your mobile phone), which i like. i want to see what catches my eye and spritz it on myself, not have someone else trying to force something on me. i must have my own opportunity to commune with the perfume. to bond with the pretty bottle. to swoop myself in the heady scents. 

ever since my summer voyage on the volga river from kazan to moscow, in which i was wearing white linen breeze, i've realized that perfume and memory are intertwined. to this day, when i catch a whiff of white linen breeze, i am instantly transported to the volga. so, what is now quite possibly an unhealthy obsession started innocently enough. 

when i started my last job, i went on a familiarization trip onboard an LNG carrier. i knew i would want to remember it, so i fittingly bought ralph lauren's blue, since i would be sailing on the blue of the mediterranean. on my first trip to korea and the shipyards, i was so excited that i bought kenneth cole's black (the one i replaced in the past couple months, because i love love it so much) in order to trigger a scent memory later. it worked like a charm.

so, it seems that whenever i've gone somewhere special, i've bought a new scent. sometimes i get one because it's a small size and will fit nicely in my makeup bag for traveling.  somtimes it's because i've read about it in that infernal sunday lifestyle magazine. but mostly, because i'm a bit obsessed.  

what are you obsessed about?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

winter solstice

today is the day that the tide turns and we move away from the oppressive darkness back towards the light time. we had a little ceremony, lighting a candle next to hyacinths and our odin's eyeballs in order to help us look forward towards spring. in a way, winter solstice is like the beginning of a brand new year. how did you spend yours?

Friday, December 19, 2008

what makes an insult an insult?

ever since the shoe-throwing incident on sunday, i've been pondering insults. it was supposedly extremely insulting from an iraqi cultural standpoint to throw a shoe at bush--which supposedly made it even worse than it already was to throw such an object at one of the most powerful leaders in the world. but i find it hard to get worked up about a shoe. for me, i pretty much only wish he'd been a better shot or that bush had had slower reflexes. i'm more insulted that he threw a shoe at the man and missed than that he threw shoe at all. if you're gonna do something like that, it's worth getting it right.

so, if something that's meant as an insult isn't insulting to me, is it still an insult? what is the role of intent in the insult? can it retain its meaning in the face of being misunderstood as not particularly insulting? is it even MORE insulting to the insulter that their insult isn't seen as insulting?

the role of culture in insults cannot be underestimated. i used to (and occasionally still do) expend a lot of energy being insulted by the fact that all those people i saw on the train every day never acknowledge my existence with a simple nod or "good morning." but, i had to realize that they were not actually meaning to insult me. they were just ignoring me, as dictated by their culture, since they hadn't met me back in kindergarten, but there was no intent in it. so, all of that energy i was expending fuming about it was really quite wasted. i was insulted by something that wasn't an insult.

a couple of years ago, we saw a big impact of the difference of cultural perspective on insults in the whole incident with the danish cartoons. jyllands posten published a dozen cartoons depicting the prophet. they did it after a children's book company had been unable to get anyone to do some illustrations of mohammed for them. the newspaper took it as a challenge and tasked their cartoonists to come up with mohammed cartoons. they published them and then the news was apparently transported to the middle east on the back of a camel because it took another five months before the anger exploded. and a whole lot of people felt really insulted that their prophet was depicted with a bomb in his turban in a danish newspaper.

the danes were quite bewildered by the whole thing, because they had meant it as a bit of ironic humor and an exercise in freedom of speech, not as an insult per se. the swiss were a bit bewildered too, because their red flag with its white cross was also burned all over the middle east, mostly for looking a bit like a danish flag. big danish dairy producers were bewildered when their products were boycotted in the middle east, because they were accustomed to selling quite a lot of feta there.

but, i'm no farther. i'm still left wondering if an insult is still an insult if it's not seen as insulting...

EDITED:  on my flight home, i happened to think of the classic monty python insult bit from the holy grail:

john kenney had an amusing little ditty on the subject of insults in yesterday's IHT.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

wherein i end up on seinfeld...(not on, on...)

in taking off this morning on my last trip of the year, i began to reflect on memorable flights. these commuting flights to oslo haven't been particularly memorable, but it's difficult to have much drama worthy of preserving in memory on a flight that's less than an hour. and frankly, when you're on the same flight nearly weekly, it's best if it becomes anonymous and just blends in. to an extent, you want your flights to be drama free and fade away in memory. but there are always some that stand out.

the first one that comes to mind was years ago, leaving reno for phoenix on an america west flight. there was a huge thunderstorm rolling in and i'm sure we were the last flight let out of there that day. i'm still not sure why they even allowed us to leave. the flight was full of bowlers. yes, bowlers. big, tough-looking ones. there is a huge professional bowling stadium in reno, where thousands of spectators can watch big old texans with pot bellies bowl professionally. i say that because i was very nearly strangled by the one seated next to me. it was an extremely rough take-off and i was in the last row. my friend was across the aisle and i turned to her amidst the bumps and said, "this is ok with me, i know i'm going to die in a plane crash." big old strong middle-aged bowler man next to me was none to pleased to hear this statement. "what?" he growled, clenching his fists. my friend, supportive as always, laughed hysterically. of course, we made it. i think we may have actually been struck by lightning a couple of times, but we made it.

my first inter-continental flight--from JFK to moscow. i'd originated the trip in phoenix and was so excited getting on my plane there, to think i was likely the only one boarding that plane who would end up in moscow. i was so excited, i didn't sleep that much. i remember being totally amazed at the -70 temperatures outside over the north sea when we were at altitude. now, i realize that's normal. i still look back fondly on the sense of excitement and good butterflies i had in my stomach on that journey.

on a flight back from busan a few years ago, i had a stopover in beijing. around 25 swedish families who had been in china collecting their precious adopted babies got on the plane. around 25 swedish families who had been in china collecting their precious adopted babies got on the plane. i thought that warranted repeating. that meant 25 sets of new parents, 25 12-18 month olds with whom they did not share a language, nor an intimacy that enabled them to know what to do to serve that baby's needs. and because it was before our company travel policy changed, i was in monkey class, right in the middle of them. 9 hours of pure, unadulterated hell. screaming babies. nervous, worried, panicky, frazzled parents who didn't know what to do. aside from feeling pretty sorry for myself, i actually felt sorry for them. no parent wants their child to be screaming on a plane (or anywhere, for that matter). i'm sure they will all remember that flight as well. i hope things have gotten better for all of them.

frankfurt-skopje on palair macedonian. they had pretty shiny red planes. they're not in existence anymore. it was the days ('95) when people were still allowed to smoke on the plane, and since it was the balkans, i think smoking may have even been mandatory. and smoke they did. aside from one child who was also on the flight, i was the only person not smoking. and when they served us some strange hunk of something that may once have been fish, doused in oil, i very nearly got sick. i think the only reason i didn't get sick was that i had already been sick on the previous flight...

we had originated in phoenix, headed for frankfurt, i don't actually remember if we landed somewhere else in the US first, but that would make sense. my fellow students and i were in the very last row. we had a good flight, lots of laughter, playing cards and drinking some wine and a few beers. but only a few. they served breakfast and suddenly, in the middle of it, i felt really awful. it came on me so fast that i was still reaching for the airsick bag when i threw up. right on my friend dmitri's leg. he was a relatively new friend--we'd met in a summer macedonian course and i was absolutely mortified to have thrown up on him. however, he was totally cool and his only comment was, "you don't chew your food very well." it could have been a real friendship ender, but thankfully it was not and we went on to have a laughter-filled three weeks together and i managed not to throw up on him on the way home.

i had a colleague who i traveled with a lot in my last job. we had great fun every time we flew together. after the dinner, we'd ask for a refill of the wine, pick a movie, count to three and start the movie simultaneously on each our own screen and thereby watch the same movie together. but the most memorable flight we had was from chennai to frankfurt. the flight was delayed and delayed and we sat in the lounge for ages (at least there was a lounge). finally, they let us on the plane and they were doing the usual routine...handing out the little toiletry bags, coming around with the champagne...and then the power went. completely. it was an old 747. eventually, the little lights on the floor that should light up in an emergency did come on. the captain came on and informed us that they were trying to locate a blown fuse. and they say the germans have no humor. after nearly an hour, they got the power back on. we stayed in good spirits by switching over to gin and tonics. finally, we left for frankfurt a good three hours late and when we got there, had long missed our gate opening, so they parked us way out on the tarmac. and someone forgot to order stairs, so we waited another 45 minutes once we were on the ground. the stewardesses were very happy when that flight was over. we had missed our connection to copenhagen, but ended up on a flight together with environmental skeptic bjørn lomborg. i hadn't realized he was gay before seeing him in person. not that there's anything wrong with that....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

observing right now

  1. the day is grey.
  2. burned hair smells really bad.
  3. the smell of burned hair lingers on and on.
  4. listening to röyksöpp.
  5. i'm pondering a gocco print and it's going to come out of my head and onto the paper soon.
  6. the room is warm.
  7. flickering candlelight.
  8. sent my book from new zealand (who is doing the logistics on that?)
  9. there are pictures to be hung.
  10. cameras make me happy.

note to self: remember where the candles are when you are caught up in taking photos.

the color of my world

with all of the painting and arranging and decorating that's gone on around here over the past year, i find myself thinking about colors and the effect they seem to have on me. it's clear, looking around our home, that color is very important to me, but why is that? when i'm surrounded by bright and vibrant colors, i feel brighter and more vibrant myself. tho' because of the industry i'm in, my clothes tend towards blacks and greys, tho' i often have a jewel-toned shirt under my grey suit and almost always some funky tights of some sort, usually in a bright color. so perhaps it's in reaction to having to wear drab colors at work that my home is very colorful--turquoise walls and darker turquoise ceiling in the atelier, goldeny-orange walls in the kitchen and my beloved red smeg refrigerator--all speak of a deep need in me to immerse myself in color.

i was resistant to husband's desire to paint the new dining room white, but have to admit that i like it, because of the way it sets off the colorful book jackets which line the walls. the neutral, warm coffee cream walls of our bedroom are counterbalanced by a rich turquoise velvety bedspread and the colorful heather moore patchwork.

but how does color make you feel? can it lift your spirits or dampen them? it seems to me that it can. if the colors are warm, do they warm you? or cool you if they are cool? are you inspired differently by different color palettes? check out these of which i "warmed up" in lightroom and one which i "cooled down."

is there a difference in how you feel when you look at them? for me, looking at the top one, i can very nearly feel the glow of warm candlelight (even tho' it's really only a preset lightroom filter) and i feel inspired to make something snuggly and warm from the fabrics.  the bottom one gives me a feeling of crispness and makes me want to make something a bit harder-edged, with crisp, ironed corners. both are actually inspiring, but in wholly different ways. that's interesting, isn't it?

i can't help but think about color during this dark, dreary, grey time of year when the sun, while probably shining up there somewhere above the clouds, never really breaks through. perhaps it's that weather and the darkness of the northern winter that draws me to fill our home with vibrant, vital colors. we are surely shaped by our environment all the time, but i don't think we're always particularly mindful of it. maybe next time i feel a case of SAD coming on, i'll wear something bright and sassy and see if that helps.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

emancipation day

it's appropriate that i was awakened this morning by an earthquake that was 4.7 on the richter scale, centered across the sound in southern sweden. as strange as it sounds (and no offense to my dear san franciscan, who i realize faces true danger from earthquakes on a daily basis) but i really like earthquakes. that shifting of the earth, shaking me out of slumber and making me feel immediately alert is somehow delicious and life-affirming for me. and no one was hurt. so in more than one way today feels like a day of celebration....

i survived an early morning earthquake and it's been one year since i realized that i couldn't work for someone who looked like uncle fester but behaved with less manners and compassion. someone who would make decisions--harsh, life-changing decisions--without knowing the whole story and then not be man enough to be able to say he'd made a mistake. this despicable person actually fired several hundred people without looking into whether there would be a union issue--made a big proud announcement of the act to the newspapers about the fantastic (and fictional) sums he was going to save and then, when it had to be retracted because it was a HUGE union issue with major repercussions, didn't bother to even send a press release about the reversed decision. i knew i couldn't continue to get up in the morning and look myself in the eye as i brushed my teeth if i continued to work for this man. so i decided not to on this day one year ago.

it has proven to be one of the best decisions i've ever made. i had a conversation with someone last week who said i looked five years younger (at my age, that's pretty significant!) and i can see that my life is immeasurably better. there were great things about the job that i had, but four bosses in three and a half years was exhausting, especially as each one came in and decided that anything the last guy had approved was automatically bad. there was no continuity and no one with an over-all big picture view. each guy waltzed in and wanted to make his mark and then walk out again on to the next job within the company. looking back, it was mind-numbing, the constant battle state one was in. and my mind was numb.  it took me nearly this entire year to be well and truly over it.

i have been so fortunate to have the opportunity to have a job that perfectly enabled me to get over it and i'll always be grateful for that...some amazing planetary alignment clicked into place and i found exactly the situation i needed. to be mostly at home and there to pick up sabin so she didn't have to spend such long days at school and her after school program. to work with people who it felt good and comfortable to be around. to travel enough to stay gold (i know, i'm shallow, but this is strangely important to me) and to get the outside input i needed. it's been a marvelous year.

we should really be more grateful to the monsters we come across in our lives, because they do have a way of making us look in another direction, one that we might not have otherwise seen. so in a way, i'm grateful to uncle fester for being such a monumental ass, because it forced me to see the situation i was in for what it was. and it wasn't good. i was run down, i had seemingly forgotten how to sleep, i didn't do anything creative, my laughter had become forced and i didn't have enough time for the things that are important in my life--in fact, i had sort of forgotten what those things were in the haze i was stumbling through. it was no way to live. and now, one year later, thankfully i don't live that way anymore.

now i'm able to separate the great experiences i had in that job--seeing parts of the world i'd never seen, some of the truly wonderful people i worked with and who are still in my life, the network i built, the things i built up which couldn't be undone by uncle fester--e.g. my reputation, the time i spent with smart, creative people who furthered my thinking and helped me push borders. i can look back on all of that fondly now. and be grateful for those people and those experiences.

sometimes the earth moves under our feet and our world subtly shifts, we are shaken into awareness and find our way back to ourselves. that feels worth celebrating.

Monday, December 15, 2008

the stuff i should have written about this morning

i was so busy getting in a last laugh at our nearly past-president and the shoe thing that i didn't really write about or share all of the things i should have, which actually turned out to be good, because i have even more stuff to show you now.

you are all well aware of how much i adore design for mankind, but now i have even more reason to love it! last week, i left a comment on a giveaway posting for this great print from nicole lecht at freshly blended press. and i actually won!! it's so exciting! i said i would give it to my friend who just had twins, since it's a stork picture and now i really get to do that! thank you erin, nicole and design for mankind! there are more giveaways this week, so get on over there!! maybe you can be a winner too!

* * *

the mailman brought me my back-tack today. my lovely partner mo, sent me these beautiful handmade tea towels and oven mitt, plus a bunch of other goodies (including brownie mix from trader joe's (one of the only things i still miss from the US--having a grocery store like trader joe's)). it's just so nice to get a package! (and speaking of packages, those jokers from DHL showed up today as well.)

* * *

i've been talking endlessly about my writing house. that was the original idea with it, but the room, which is really a 24 m2 building in the garden has become much more than just a place for me to write. as the fireplace guy who came to have a look at where he will install a woodburning stove in there said, it's more of an atelier. i like that idea. it's a place where, despite the fact that the electrician came only last week and the lights aren't really hooked to the switch yet, we want to spend all of our time. and i did spend a lot of time there this weekend. hanging our family paintings from last weekend and painting a liquor cabinet (then filling it with liquor--of which we have a rather shocking amount thanks to how often i pass through a duty free (cocktails anyone?)) and arranging the camera collection.  check it out...

love, love, love the hamngren print we inherited from husband's father and now we finally have a great place to hang it.

masses of beautiful fabric waiting for the muse to strike and looking mighty pretty in the meantime.

and strike the muse did. yesterday's late afternoon big-ass mug of coffee didn't only result in balderdash and laughing at bush, but also in some painting and a pillow design...

i'm pretty pleased with the pillow. it's for my sister-in-law for christmas, but it may be difficult to part with it. more pix of it tomorrow in better light (not the bright work light that's shining on it here, looking like the sun, which i only vaguely remember anyway, since i haven't seen it in weeks) and when it's finished. which i'm going to do now.

succeeding brilliantly at failure

thanks to a 5 p.m. large mug of starbucks christmas blend, i was up very, very late last night painting and composing balderdash definitions and generally enjoying hanging out with the muses in my cozy little atelier (the building in the garden formerly known as the writing house--doing lots more than writing there, so it needed an expanded name). anyway, i saw this news come in and i laughed and laughed and laughed:

i have to admit that i am quite impressed with bush's reflexes. he dodges that first shoe pretty well, almost as if he's used to having shoes thrown at him. a thought which makes me look upon laura with new eyes...

CNN is saying that from a iraqi cultural standpoint, it's extremely rude to throw your shoes. i wonder if that's true or if your shoes are just the most throwable object you have on you at any given time. i mean, who would want to throw their wallet or keys? and it would be rather difficult to surreptitiously remove your pants and throw them, whereas shoes, no problem.

i find myself feeling a bit sorry for bush here in the waning hours of his presidency. he has brought new meaning to the words "lame duck." i never thought i'd ever feel sorry for him, but he looks old, frazzled and, dare i read it in, a bit sheepish about the whole thing (not to mix my animal metaphors). or perhaps he's just bewildered that it could have all gone so stunningly badly. i hope he realizes that it's largely his fault. although his recent expressions of contrition about the bad intelligence leading to the iraq war (strangely no references to the role of his warmongering VP and cabinet) and how he hadn't gone into the presidency wishing for a challenge like sept. 11 would lead one to believe he has at least a dim awareness of how badly it's gone, i wouldn't mind if he seemed a little more contrite. the one thing that can be said for the man is that he succeeded brilliantly at failure.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

random things on my mind

although it feels sometimes like every stray thought that goes through my head comes out my fingers and onto this blog, there is actually a lot going on that never makes it here. because it's really quite impossible to cover every aspect of a life lived.


for instance, although i read all the time, i don't always share what i'm reading (tho' you can always tell when it's murakami). this morning, i just finished paul theroux's great railway bazaar. i had read of it many times, but hadn't ever read it. it's THE classic travel lit, written in 1973. the reason i bought it is that i've recently read a bunch of reviews of his new version of that same journey--ghost train to the eastern star. i ordered both from amazon not long ago because i didn't want to read the new one without having read the old. i'm already a chapter in and having many thoughts on this one that i will be sharing in the days ahead.


another thing i don't know if you know is that i am big fan of alanis morissette. i go back to her music again and again--it lifts me up when i need my spirits lifted and it lets me wallow in despair when that's what i want (sometimes one and the same song can do that--she's that good). she gives me strength, she's deep, she's silly, she makes so much sense and yet makes no sense at all--all at one and the same time. her music is my coping mechanism. it grounds me.


for years and years, i always played the refreshments' down together every time the plane was taking off. here in a homemade concert recording:

it always amused me to play a song with the refrain, "let's go down together," when the plane was taking off. these days i don't do it because they're a bit more hyper about not having any electronic devices on during take-off and landing. otherwise, i probably still would.


it bugs the hell out of me when people talk about molecular gastronomy. that's one of those trendy phrases made up by lifestyle editors and restaurant critics. all cooking is molecular, people--it's chemistry when you combine things and heat them up.


note to danish chefs: foam, except in a latte or a cappucino is SO OVER, so please stop serving me foamy sauces and soups.

and on that note, i'll quit..i wouldn't want to share everything that's going through my mind...

Friday, December 12, 2008

announcing balderdash!

in response to popular demand, yesterday i created a new blog called balderdash. it's going to be exclusively for those hilarious verification word definitions. molly has agreed to help me out. we've invited amanda of WTF? wednesday fame as well, since she actually started the whole thing (but she hasn't accepted the invitation yet--we hope it's because she's traveling). anyway we're going to continue making up definitions for those quasi-words.

we'd like to thank google for making them much more word-like and totally inspiring us. now, get on over there and see what we've got (so far, it's my three previous postings that contained these, plus one brilliant one molly did yesterday and the one i'm about to post right now).

DHL bites

there is a distinct lack of customer service in this country, i guess because minimum wage is in the neighborhood of $25/hour and people are not dependent on serving customers well for their salary. it drives me absolutely batty at times. let me give you the latest example...yesterday, DHL tried to deliver a package of MOO cards to me when i was not at home. so i take the half-filled-out form that their driver, who apparently had a palsy of some sort, left in my mailbox and go to their website. there, typical of all too many companies today, they try to make it completely impossible for you to get in touch with them except through some wholly incomprehensible and very narrowly defined forms and drop-downs that don't really quite describe your problem. so i fill out a form and i get a chance to enter the package number and my phone number and email address before some glitch happens and it submits itself and won't let me back in to try to fill it out completely. it apparently "knew" better than i did that the form had been submitted once and you can apparently only do one per day (i pity companies that have more than one package coming).

so, this morning, i tried again. and after filling it all out with my address and phone and the times i am home, i get a mail asking me where i wanted it delivered. hello? to the address that is now both on the package and on your stupid form, people! AND on top of it, they tell me it cannot be delivered before monday, despite the fact that i actually sent the request YESTERDAY! what do they not understand about their business--it's about getting a package quickly, for which they charge a small fortune. and then they have the audacity to be pissy that i'm a little pissy that i cannot get my package in a timely manner! after i expressed frustration that it was to the address that was on the package and on the form and why were they asking me for an address...they actually sent a mail telling me to "speak nicely or they wouldn't help me get my package." (just because i wrote in all caps.) righteous bastards. unbelievable. and it caused my blood pressure to go through the roof! on top of it, i write to them in english and they keep writing back to me in danish! not that i can't read it, but still, it's just such a lack of customer service!

and it's not the first time DHL has been less than stellar. i had a box of brochures sent to me to take to a conference and they claimed they had tried to deliver (which they couldn't have, because there had been someone home all day that day) and so i asked them to forward it on to my hotel in germany because i had to catch a plane and didn't have time to pick it up. they told me that would be impossible, and although they took the hotel address, they said they would call me if it was possible. well, they never called (and i had given them two different mobile numbers, both of which i had on me). and the package never came. however, an invoice for nearly 3,000NOK ($428) came to me at work! WHAT? the absurdity! for a service they said they couldn't do and apparently didn't do, but had no qualms billing for. and it was a small box, the size of 2 reams of paper! unbelievable.

ok. i'm done ranting now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

bask baby bask

the gorgeous, hilarious and brilliant tangobaby is a Blog of Note. congratulations, dahling!! you totally deserve it!! just remember us little people. we loved you before you were famous!

it's a whole 'nother world

i grew up in a small town of about 1300 people in south dakota. when people there talked about traveling, they meant to the black hills or perhaps a day trip to the "big city" of sioux falls. on special occasions, people visited relatives in other states or made a yearly pilgrimage to las vegas. once in a great while, you heard of someone who went abroad to a whole 'nother country (often that country was canada, where in those days, all you needed was a blockbuster card and not a passport to get in). europe was spoken of in hushed tones and shrouded in a mysterious and wonderful haze which conjured images of picturesque castles on hills and dark forests where fancy cuckoo clocks grew.

fast forward to the end of 2008. i'm on a shuttle to the office from the hotel in oslo. i overhear a conversation in which people are talking about their office christmas parties. one of which had taken place last week on a beach in angola. and was attended by a guy with a heavy scottish accent who was spending a half day in the office in oslo before heading back to angola for a week of work and then three weeks off back home in cape town, where it's such a welcome change to live after five years in the wilds of zambia. "cape town is almost like a normal european city," he said. i wanted to pipe in and say no, cape town is much BETTER than any european city i could think of, but i didn't.

i have to admit that i love having a job where these conversations are the norm.

hey, anybody out there want to meet me in london? i just read the pound has taken a real beating and it's almost on par with the euro, so it could be a good time for shopping. if we were shopping, which of course we're not because of our new desire to be more aware of our consumption. but i'm just saying, it might be a good time to go to london.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

wistful winding down

it's my second to last time this year in a hotel room in oslo. although i'm a little tired of these generic, uninteresting hotel rooms and the limited range of channels on t.v., i am feeling a little wistful about it. it's been a great year. it's been a fun job, a privileged situation to work from home so much and to travel to places i love and best of all, i've worked with great people who always welcome me when i come up, even when i'm feeling a little uncomfortable about coming up after not being here for a few weeks. they have never, ever made me feel that way. just super people.  although there is a very good chance i will still be working up here in 2009, it will be with a different department, so i feel a bit wistful about not working together with this group. it feels like a chapter is ending.

another of the things i will miss at least for a few weeks (since i'm not starting with the new group until sometime in january (still being worked out exactly when)) is the posh mall food at the food garage in sandvika storcenter. especially their posh pizzas and refreshing fruit drinks in unusual flavors (had rhubarb/vanilla today):

at the same time as feeling a bit wistful and even slightly nostalgic (which could at any moment slip over into sentimentality and i hate sentimentality), i'm pretty excited about the opportunity next year. i had a long conversation about it today and will again at the end of next week. and it's exciting and pretty much the ideal job for me. it involves a publication. and the web. and travel. and a fabulous camera (nikon D300 anyone?). and lots of pretty ships. and so my mind already well into next year and the first issue. i've got themes in mind for the whole year. and it feels pretty exciting and a little decadent in the face of global economic crisis and downsizing, to feel so engaged in a new job before i've even begun. and another chapter begins. or at least looks like it's going to in the new year.

* * *
but on a lighter note, in the vein of WTF wednesday: what on earth was rod blagojevich thinking? who does the man think he is, tony soprano?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

i'm all about the direct positive

tangobaby made me download a trial copy of lightroom 2 (i apparently have no will of my own and am generally weak in the face of gadgetry and pretty software). so today i finally really played with it.

it's heavenly.

and so are my MOO cards, shown here after a little direct positive treatment.

so heavenly that i ordered 3 new sets today for different purposes. because i'm a girl with a lot of purposes, why do you ask?

and here's what you can do with lightroom 2...


there was a time when this would have made me perfectly happy
but then i found out about antique light:

and cold tone:

imagine what will happen when i start making my own presets...

but first, i'm off to oslo.

* * *

but speaking of directly positive, get yourself over to borneochica's blog and read her post about how she's going to gather books and donate them to teachers in chicago. i sent a box of them her way yesterday. if i can do it, so can you, mine have to cross an ocean and all. :-) she called me a rock star when i did it. you too can be a rock star, i'm sure.