Saturday, February 28, 2009

saturday morning meme

since this is going to be a day of running errands, i thought i'd do this funny meme that's been making the rounds of facebook--yes, memes have comes to facebook, which i find more than slightly disturbing. and then i saw that sebrina did it on sunmamma and so i thought what the heck. it made me laugh.

what you do is type "(your name) needs" into google search and you list the things that it comes up with:

  1. julie needs your help (ha!)
  2. julie needs high fiber content (no doubt)
  3. julie needs to work on her parenting (for sure!)
  4. julie needs paper pleasing ideas (how does google KNOW these things?)
  5. julie needs a new pair of shoes (amen, sister!)
  6. julie needs a boyfriend (not so much)
  7. julie needs an early start.
  8. julie needs the science of running (now there's a laugh)
  9. julie needs a(nother) new home (this appeared to be about a spayed grey tabby female cat)
  10. julie needs prayers and good vibes (don't we all?)
if you're feeling lazy on saturday, please play along. :-)

Friday, February 27, 2009

#20 and #21 and the biorhythm begins to shift

#20 - an ikea jack, wherein i took a cheap silk ikea pillow cushion and embroidered felt flowers onto it.

#21 - wherein we (being sabin and myself) constructed paper robots and hung them on the ceiling:

and then, to amuse myself, i printed in A4 a picture taken on the beach at the north sea back in january and pretended to take my merfish to the beach to meet the rock i picked up near the great pyramid in 2000. i think they liked each other quite a bit.

and then i doodled a few things in my inspiration book, read an interesting article about sustainable cities,  chatted on the phone to the most creative, funniest person i know,

played around a bit with embroidery thread and tactile felt in my favorite colors:

and then inspiration struck. and not only did it strike, i acted on it:

the biorhythm must be coming into alignment between the intellectual and the physical so that my thoughts can now have accompanying actions. phew. either that or it's because the sun is shining and there's a whiff of spring in the air. whatever it is, i'm not fighting it.

what are you gonna remember?

yesterday, in doing a bit of tidying up in preparation for today's arrival of the cleaner, i came across the picture above. it's husband as a boy of about 5 together with his mother (and a large radio and a very small peugeot) having lunch by the side of the road somewhere in norway. i love many things about the photo--especially that it naturally has that lomo feel to it--all i did was scan, no effects were applied whatsoever. husband is just so cute and so is that car. all husband remembers about it was that it was in norway, otherwise, it's a roadside stop for lunch like any of a hundred others he had as a child.

many years ago, during college, i attended a wedding of a work colleague. a bunch of us from the newspaper sat together and to be honest, it was a rather lame and not very happening wedding. so we decided to move on to a nearby bar. i was hemming and hawing about whether to go along or go home and one of the guys said, "come on, what are you gonna remember?" and he was right, was i going to remember going out and having fun with friends or was i going to remember going home to bed? it was just a line tossed off in a moment, but it has resonated with me ever since.

you might even say it's become a bit of a life philosophy. i have used it countless times when people were about to wander off rather than participating in some fun activity. or when they couldn't decide what they wanted to do. or when they thought about going to bed early. because aren't the things we remember things where we were active and present and participating and stayed up late? we don't remember an evening in front of the television, we remember an evening of dancing or playing cards or having a great conversation over good food. let's face it, you don't know whether you're alive or dead when you're watching t.v. (thanks barbara kingsolver).

i think of some of the times when i said "what are you gonna remember" and the things that i'm certain the people involved remember...

like the time that richard sang bohemian rhapsody in batangas while a typhoon raged just outside:

paying the singer extra to stay on (and on and on) so we could keep dancing at the sofitel in manila:

that time my very tall colleague went to hobbit house -- where all of the wait staff are little people:

the sight of this guy (actually, all 3 are guys) at the amazing show (a transvestite variety show in manila):

my sister licking spilled limoncello off the table:

those ridiculous shots where you take a picture of yourselves shaking your head and going "lalala":

apparently most of the times i said, "what are you gonna remember," we were in manila.

i'm not going to be in manila this weekend, but i hope to do something that i'll remember. what are you going to remember?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

from where i sit...

is it just me or is there a faulty planetary alignment going on this week? something's just off. i'm not sleeping well. and i just feel, well...blah. i'm reading a book that i hate and yet i persevere. what's strange is that i have surrounded myself with inspiration all week and actually feel very inspired on an intellectual level. my inspiration notebook is filled with notes and scribblings, and i'm constantly running to scribble another sketch or thought in it, but when it comes to sitting down and actually DOING any of them, it falls down for me. i can't really get up off the couch or out from in front of the computer. i'm all input and no output. what is it about this week? i can't put my finger on it.

in a way i'm in a holding pattern. i signed a contract for a new job last week and it starts next week. so this week has been the in between week. i should have been eager to get all kinds of things done (like all those half-finished sewing projects i've got going) , but strangely, i just feel i'm waiting. and it's not that good liminal space kind of waiting that i love and have waxed philosophical about on numerous occasions. it's just a really non-productive kind of waiting wherein i have retreated into giant sloth mode:

and i was feeling rather badly about it until i read this. it seems that leonardo davinci was a great procrastinator. he filled tons of notebooks with ideas, but executed very few of them in actuality. it's really only an ingrained weberian protestant capitalist thing that makes us think that procrastination is bad. in fact, procrastination gives you time to work things out in your mind. perhaps all this thinking about the artworks that i've sketched out will make them better in the long run. i mean, who wants to be mediocre? and there are times when productivity breeds mediocrity. as the article says, davinci understood the fleeting nature of the's important to get your ideas down while they're there. working them out comes later. to quote the article, "if there is one conclusion to be drawn from the life of leonardo, it is that procrastination reveals the things at which we are most gifted--the things we truly want to do."

therefore, i procrastinate in order to get in touch with my innermost creative self. so there.

we are prepared to be radical

lynne shared this amazing you tube video with me this week. i find this house utterly mind-blowing and so inspiring. i seriously wish i'd seen this before we built all that we built in the past year. but somehow, it opens up my thinking even more than just about buildings--it seems to throw out all preconceived notions and just makes me want to rethink everything. i want to look at the world in an entirely new, fresh way. don't you love finding something that provokes you to think in that way?

* * *
report of yesterday's trip to the royal theatre in copenhagen:

far:  how was the theatre today, sabin?

sabin:  not good. all they did was mime and dance ballet. 

so much for giving the child a taste of "high" culture.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

tweet tweet

just had to share this--apparently this is what lego's business cards look like these days. learned about it on twitter. which is, incidentally, where BBC World said they learned about today's turkish airlines crash in amsterdam--they heard of it first on twitter--and the first picture they had of it came from twitpic. image above came from here.

and just when i thought i was so over twitter. i guess i'll hang on awhile more.

school is cool

sabin goes to a lovely old public school in the center of town. it's right across from the church and is comprised of solid old brick buildings. we like it a lot. her teacher, i've mentioned before, is a former long-time stewardess with SAS and rules the class of 20 second graders with the sure hand of a business class purser. they respect and like her very much.

the school has a general philosophy of working hard on socializing the children--no picking on the weak ones, speaking up if you're being picked on, doing activities that mix the kids up so they play with everyone and not just their best friends. it seems to work. on saturday, we observed sabin's best friend's class (he goes to a different school) and we could see a big difference--sabin's class is much more cohesive. a good teacher really matters and we are lucky sabin has that. the way it works here is that linda will follow the class all through their indskoling (in-schooling?) period, which i believe means through the third grade, so sabin has her at least one more year. it can be that she will follow them through the seventh grade, but that will be evaluated next year some time.

one of the very cool things about her class and her school is the outings they take. today, the class is going to copenhagen to a performance of fyrtøjet (the tinderbox)--a ballet based on a h.c. andersen story and with scenography and costumes by the danish queen. how cool is that? there are a few kids in sabin's class that i don't think would otherwise ever go to the royal theatre or see a performance that the queen was involved in. what a great experience and it's due to the initiative of sabin's teacher! we're really fortunate and happy that sabin has such a great teacher.

when sabin started kindergarden there was quite a lot of talk about resourcestærke forældre--parents strong in resources. that phrase has haunted me a little bit ever since i read it in a newsletter from the school. at first, i thought it was a rather cheeky comment about how much money people had, but it's not. it's more about how much energy you put into parenting. do you make a healthy, nutritious, exciting lunchbox for your child? does your child have the right books and her indoor shoes with her every day? does she do her homework? is her hair brushed? her teeth? are her clothes clean? does she have mittens with her? are her pencils sharpened? do her pens work? does she have those nice faber-castell colored pencils with the little bumplies on the side for a good grip? did she do her homework? does she get to school on time? do you spend hours and hours making her a fairy costume for the school play (and will you ever finish it)? do you make sure the child has good experiences that give her something to talk about when it's time to share what you did on your summer vacation? do you go to the pool with her on the weekend? do you read together? does she have a computer? a phone? a Wii? a DS? does she have all the accoutrements that it takes to be 8 years old and give you a feeling of belonging in today's world?

and i worry a bit about whether we're really very good at all of these things. her costume is half-finished and yes, she has the right stuff. her clothes are clean and she doesn't often have holes in her tights. husband is great at the homework side of things and making sure her bag contains the right books and sharpened pencils. he's steady at the lunch "packse," but she complains that his lunches are boring. because it gets boring and tough to come up with something exciting day in and day out. i stand there before it and admit it gets a little old, but it's something you simply have to find the energy for. and it's easier to find that energy when you know that the child loves school, has good friends and a good teacher.

so i think about finding that energy to be resourcestærke forældre and wonder if the goodness of school comes because we ARE that or if we are that because we think the school is good. which comes first? it's a circle, feeding itself, in a way.

and i do manage to get her to school on time, tho' very often i'm still in my pajamas when i run her over there. one day, i noticed that her reading book was lying on the stairs and i ran it over. i laughed to linda that i had to bring it over because we so wanted to be resourcestærke forældre. thankfully, linda assured me that we are. but i think it's something you have to work at constantly and the phrase itself really intimidates me. i'm just so insecure sometimes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

sleep deprivation

i didn't sleep well last night. that happens sometimes. it's like i forget how to sleep. but it passes. when i get tired enough. my mind always goes a little wonky when i'm sleep deprived, but i suppose that's not unique. since i wouldn't want you to miss out, i thought i'd share some of the thoughts rants ramblings that have gone through my mind this afternoon:

  1. i started yet another sewing project without finishing any of the others that i have started. i wonder if there are meds for this. it seems that what i like is cutting into the fabric, which is strange because my new sewing machine is wonderful and i love to sew with it.
  2. i'm reading christian jungersen's the exception in the original danish--undtagelsen. and in telling amanda about it, and looking it up on amazon, i realized that i actually HAVE the book in english, so why am i slogging through the danish? the book came highly recommended by our best friends and i'm 82 pages in and hate all of the main characters. they're self-absorbed, righteous, and totally unappealing. how will i tell my friends? and how will i ever finish it? will i like them better (the characters, not the friends) if i switch to english?
  3. if you check your flickr stats, your viewing goes WAY up on monday, after the weekend. that must mean there are a whole lot of people on flickr during work hours.
  4. i wonder if there's a cocktail that goes with pancakes?
  5. back to flickr. i am completely mystified as to what causes a picture to be popular because i think it has nothing to do with the quality of the actual photograph. case in point:  i discovered a group the other day called stick figures in peril. i thought that was such a hilarious idea that i dug out a picture of a stick figure in peril that i took several years ago in phuket. (goodness knows that if a stick figure is indeed going to find itself in peril, phuket is definitely where it will happen.)  and so i joined the group and posted it. that picture has had 593 views since i uploaded it on friday or was it saturday and has skyrocketed to my second most viewed photo behind the one that the moo people sent out in their december newsletter. and it's not even a very good picture, it's just funny. 
i think we all hope i get a good night's sleep and am back to normal tomorrow. whatever that is.

great adverts

i'm not usually one for posting you tube videos here (unless they make fun of sarah palin and let's face it, she's a bit over), but there are several ads running in denmark at the moment that are just so good that i want to share them. the danish ad people are really irreverant and innovative and they must be some of the best in the world.

the first is for carlsberg sport, a soft drink (kind of a cross between sprite and mountain dew). it takes place on an antarctic research base and depicts what happens when you get really bored all by yourself and have only penguins for companions. you'll get the idea without any translation:

and this one from scandinavian airlines does such a great job of capturing the ennui of business travel and i love, love, love the plane at the end, where it's just the orange and blue of the engine and tail--pared down to the simplest elements, but still recognizable as a plane--scandinavian design at its best. the man in the ad is uffe elleman jensen, a former danish foreign minister. the ad may be echoing lost in translation a bit as well, there's a lot going on and i find it very evocative.

and on the lighter side, a commercial for a mobile phone plan where a girl goes into the changing room to try on clothes during winter and is having so much fun with her phone that when she comes out, it's summer. check out the awesome wallpaper in the changing room. love:

my response to watching that the other day was, "as if her battery would last that long." for some reason, husband laughed uproariously at me for that.

i'm off to put my studio in order now. a real post later...

Monday, February 23, 2009

seige of leningrad?

i spent the better part of my morning cleaning sabin's room and it was such hard work that i have to share the "after" pictures here (i didn't have the heart to take "before" pix) if only to remember that it was once clean, since i doubt it will stay that way for long. it's not a huge room, but it is a very pink room, as you can see. still, she accumulated an astonishing amount of papers (most of them with drawings of varying quality on them) and other junk that took me nearly three hours to sort through and straighten up.

i felt motivated to do this because the rest of the house is clean and sparkly thanks to the wonderful sylvia, who comes and takes care of that every friday. it continues to astonish me how much energy it gives me that i have someone come to clean. if i'd known that, i'd totally have arranged for it years ago.

in amongst all of the candy wrappers and small stashes of leftover saturday candy, i found a lot of bowls and cups that i'd forgotten we even had. i also loaded up a big bag of old stuffed toys to take to the good will for some other lucky child. she's still got plenty, as you can see (the two giant bears from ikea--one of which once belonged to her big sister).

i had a lot of time to think about what causes her to be such a pack rat. she wants to save every single scrap of paper she's ever made a scribble on. it was so bad before i cleaned that the little window seat above was completely covered in papers and toys and she couldn't even use it. it's such a relief to have it tidied up now and i'm sure that she'll feel much better when she sees it too.

i found all kinds of caches of cookies and rice cakes and even an old petrified apple tart from a batch that i made last summer sometime. it's madness. was the child in the seige of leningrad in her last life and she feels driven to hoard food in her room? or is she just forgetful?

i think it's that she really loves her room and likes to spend time there and that means taking snacks up (which i'm going to issue a decree against) while she plays with lego or plays on her computer. and the past few days, i'm so proud of her, she's taken to writing stories in Pages, her word processing program. she even used photobooth to take a picture of a postcard and dropped that into her document. she has an innate ability with the computer that is breathtaking.

i'm just glad it's tidy for now. but i won't hold my breath for how long it lasts, but it seems a bit of spring cleaning feels quite good.

"i" is for inspiration

 eyeball "i"
michelle boettcher 
a couple of weeks ago, i asked willow to give me a letter so i could be part of her letter-related meme. she assigned me the letter "i" and i immediately thought of the artwork above, which was done by my friend michelle, who we affectionately call michellea, who i worked with twenty years ago during college at a daily newspaper. well, michellea managed to locate her brilliant eyeball "i" collage and photograph it for me, so now i can write this post.

the letter "i" built entirely out of eyeballs cut from magazines is, to me, totally inspired. the alliterative marriage of "i" and "eye" in the form of a lower-case "i" speaks far beyond the simple letter and all those  disembodied eyeballs. the very notion of self, of "I" is there as well. the hundreds of eyeballs speak to a self constructed by how we see and are seen. i always thought it was such a powerful work of art. i felt michellea had captured some essence that was at once comforting and disturbing and in which i could almost literally feel it looking directly into my soul. i always wished that she had made it for me.

that christmas, michellea gave me a different collage artwork, the "i" was her own. it was a collage made of magazine clippings as well--and it captures perfectly who i was at the beginning of the 90s. it's made up of repeated versions of my name, one colored in purple, because i was crazy for purple then. and the rest made up of all of the pop culture references and news items of the time--madonna, the first president bush, things russian, things pageanty, television shows. i put it away when we packed up the house for our remodeling project and i can't find it at the moment, but i'll stumble onto it one day and scan it and share it, because i still have it, a sort of snapshot of who i was during a given era.

but, back to the letter "i." as i say in my title, "i" is for inspiration. it's also for innovation--a word that's been overused in a business context and lost some of its meaning. but innovation, as in "introducing novelties, making changes in anything established, introducing something new," that innovation is powerful. and as i scour the wonderland of inspiration that is the internet for things which provoke my artistic imagination and my muse, i find that i most often try to innovate rather than imitate to make those sources of inspiration my own when they end up in my art.

this week, i've been inspired by resurrection fern. i first visited when margie did an interview of melissa  from tiny happy, one of my other sources of inspiration and where i go when i want/need a feeling of peaceful calm. but, i started going back again and again and basically just lurking, never leaving a comment (i felt a little unworthy for some reason). margie often interviews other artists as well as sharing her own work and sources of inspiration. well, this week, i decided that i had to check out her etsy shop  and i was lucky enough to be there at the right time to score one of her lovely covered stones, as well as one of her sweet merfish. i couldn't believe how quickly they came to denmark from canada--i think i ordered on tuesday and wednesday and they arrived already saturday--so this is my very stone and my very merfish, photographed by me on the cobblestones in front of my house.

i've long had a thing about stones and we have many of them around the house, gathered on beaches all over the world. i even have a couple from a beach in oregon that my grandmother gathered thirty some years ago. so you can imagine i've had my share of overweight luggage fees because of schlepping stones back home from my travels.  i really love what margie has done with these stones. it's like she sees something in them and it's called forth by her crocheting. i get the feeling that the little flat stone WAS a merfish and margie saw that and just gave him his tail. these are THAT wonderful. and i don't know how to crochet, but i feel that having them near me on the shelf in my studio will spur some creativity in me in some way that i don't yet see. i think it will be something to do with combining natural and manmade materials, but i guess time will tell. but already, i made it a couple of friends--i felted some of the many stones that are lying around the house:

i saw felted stones last year on etsy and i can't locate the shop again, it was too long ago, i guess, tho' i vaguely recall it was based in the netherlands. i had ordered some beautiful rovings to use for felting, also nearly a year ago, but it took having this little resurrection fern merfish to push me to do it. for the inspiration to come forth. sometimes you just have to wait for these things to happen. i'm learning that.

other bits of inspiration i spotted this week (on etsy or flickr, or design for mankind, among others) are as follows. i'll be very interested to see where they take me:

tiny little houses seen at little red door on etsy

and these cards:

seen at morris & essex on etsy

these fabulous hand-carved stamps by geninne spotted on flickr:

check her blog for even more beauty and inspiration!
and she sells gorgeous things on etsy.

and this, which amanda pointed me to at sundance :

i'm so gonna be making something like this

and andrew moore's fantastic photos of russia which the lovely and talented and very inspiring tangobaby pointed me to not long ago:

and i'm finding inspiration in words as well, words like these:
and that pretty much does it for the letter "i," because it's taken forever to put all those i's in bold.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

now you see it

saturday was snowy and icy and it was steadily snowing in the evening as we drove home from sabin's best friend's birthday party. then, it warmed up overnight and the snow is nearly gone now 24 hours later. what a difference a day makes!

* * *
and the creativity continued this weekend:

18.  felted soap. yes, you read that correctly. i felted a bar of soap for the upstairs bathroom with beautiful rovings bought last year in this etsy shop:

19.  and i also felted some stones that we collected on our winter beach trips during my sister's recent visit (more about that tomorrow):

i love how they look and even more how they feel, tho' husband and our best friends teased me mercilessly, especially when i took 78 pictures of them in different locations with different cameras and different lenses. there's just something special about the heaviness of the stone under all that wooly brightness.

i also made some fabulous bread, but didn't get to photograph it because it was devoured immediately. bread recipe over at just know where you are.

* * *
and on saturday, a whole lot of TtV photos:
hope you spent your weekend on something worthwhile.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

shifting forces of gravity

i did something this week that feels like a major step for me.  husband is always teasing me that my friends are all virtual and the things i find of interest happen in places far removed from where i live. so when i read in the local newspaper that a new association of local artists was forming, i decided to get involved where i am. and i joined.

in order to do so, i had to say that i was an artist.  that felt really strange and like a major shifting of gravity beneath my feet. related to this step, i also worked on setting up my long-procrastinated etsy shop this week. i still haven't listed any items, but i'm getting closer and i will let you all know here when it's up and running. and i even called it shifting forces of gravity, because that's what taking this step feels like.

i'm not sure what kind of artist i am and that's a little bit the issue. i've tried so many things over the past year, in my process of getting back in touch with my creativity, that i've been kind of all over the place (see yesterday's post for evidence of this). a bit of painting, some sewing, some quilting, a few little clay robots, gocco prints and of course, my photography. i'm leaving the door open and we'll see where the muses take me.

i think one of the places i want to go is back towards these driftwood people that husband and i made together a couple (or is it 5 or more) years ago:

"great love"
j & j-p, 2002

easter island meets denmark
j & j-p 2002

at the time we made these, we also made a few others for friends and family as gifts. it was a really interesting process. we'd lay out all of the driftwood on the table and see which pieces spoke to us. then, husband would fashion the metal wire into arms and legs if that was what was needed or attach them and do all of the hammering and drilling and screwing bits. i did the painting and the actual composition. it was a great partnership and i'm not sure how we drifted away from it. now that he's got his workshop and i my studio, we should be able to go back to these collaborative pieces.

i'm brewing a post on my sources of inspiration these days and will share that will you soon. happy weekend one and all...

p.s. shifting forces of gravity is totally a murakami thing. :-)

Friday, February 20, 2009

evidence of creativity

molly at ohfortheloveofblog is working on doing 100 creative things in 2009. i said (kind of awhile ago) that i would participate in this endeavor and while i'm good at taking photos of all the stuff i make, i'm not so good at counting (i'm a LITERATURE person and literature people are not math people). but, i thought i might make it easier on myself by posting a picture of all of the evidence of creativity in my life since january 1 and thereby be able to count it all. a few caveats: i will count drawings, but not photographs, tho' i do think that photos are a product of creativity (at least some of them) and i will count especially creative cooking, because i believe it's undervalued in general. and i will also count only things that are finished, not works in progress (of which there are many) here goes:

1.  drawing of new embroidery thread

2.  painted and arranged new shelves (yes, i think this counts, it took me hours)

3.  sabin's birthday invitations - made with gocco printer

4.  pipe cleaner flowers  - made together with sabin

5.  countless inspired dinner salads (which i will count as one, tho' i make one pretty much daily)

6.  crafty blog banners

7.  sabin's robot birthday cake

8.  this was a really inspired burger, so i think it counts

9.  many wintery root vegetable-based soups

10.  orange lap quilt (made together with karoline, husband's oldest)

11.  teal/lime quilt made from ikea fabrics

12.  squares for the bushfire charity quilts

13.  valentine's day red velvet cupcakes

14.  googly-eyed snowman (he is but fleeting creativity, but creativity nonetheless)

15.  i've been drawing quite a bit of's a peacock i did and might still color in...but i'm counting him because i like him as a pencil drawing as well and i think if i do a colorful one, i'll just draw it with the colored pencils from the beginning.

16.  fabric cover for my food processor

17.  my new blog banner and the new one i put up over on just know where you are. i'll only count them as one, because all i really did was change the pix and the font.

looking through the folders, i can see that i have at least as many projects underway--sewing, knitting, papercraft, painting, little clay houses, even some bread dough that's rising as we "speak," so i'd better get cracking. are you creating something this weekend?