Tuesday, June 30, 2009

ahh, those scandinavian summer nights

if i thought it was light in denmark when i woke up at 4:24 monday morning due to the sunshine streaming in, it's much lighter in oslo. i do wish we could save this up for those dark, dark nights of winter. but instead, i cruise on lots of coffee and just soak it in....the light is really amazing.

* * *

one more quick thing...i love that the BBC radio blog for World Have Your Say quoted my MJ post yesterday! thank you BBC, i feel totally validated.

* * *

one more one more thing...if i don't stop by your blogs this week, it's because i'm traveling and busy and it's really friggin' beautiful outside, but i'll be by as soon as i can and i haven't forgotten you. and speaking of not forgetting, don't forget, tomorrow is when the big 30 days of 30 secrets begins! and you too can participate!  you know you have secrets you're dying to tell! and look how fun spudballoo makes it look!

Monday, June 29, 2009

street art is all around us

not so much street art as bunker art
last night, on DR2, we watched a show about street art. if you should happen to know some danish, you can find more info about it here and even watch a clip (or possibly even the whole thing, but i'm on a rubbish hotel connection, so i didn't try to play it). it was only half an hour long and even sabin was really sad when it was over. 

they talked to two danish street artists - OEPS-crew who make perleplade with those little beads i used in this post. they've put them up all over the world, but especially in their neighborhood in copenhagen. to preserve their anonymity, they wore clown masks, which made them a little freaky, since i'm not that fond of clowns.

there was an interview with two women who have a site called streetart.dk and who are working on a Ph.D. on street art, which seems like a cool topic to research--and they make an interesting distinction between street art and graffiti--which they say is just tagging with one's name. unfortunately, it looks like their site is under renovation at the moment and not active. it was a little unfortunate that, since they were just featured on t.v. you'd think people would want their site to be up and running when they get publicity for it...but i digress.

another cool site they featured was knittaplease.com, where they knit all kinds of public objects..like bicycle racks and lamp posts and trees and such. how cool is that? i've seen some of that kind of thing on flickr, but again, the rubbish connection is keeping me from properly finding links for you.

anyway, the whole thing was so inspiring, it made me want to go on a walk intentionally looking for street art in my town and especially in copenhagen. and it made me think about making some. sometimes t.v. can be inspiring. however, what i'm watching at the moment, not so much...but for more about that, see twitter.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

the end of postmodernity

we've been inundated over the past few days with the news of michael jackson's death. it seems that the canonization began almost immediately, with the amnesiac collective memory forgetting that he had become at best a freak and at worst a sickening, mangled, pale spectre of himself.

i wasn't a fan and never had any of his albums. while i think the music he made in the early 80s was something special in comparison to the crap that's churned out today, it never really spoke to me. i think for me, even then, the premise of a song like billy jean--that he would impregnate someone and leave them--seemed so absurd that i just couldn't get into him. the spangled glove and the red band uniform just didn't do it for me.  give me madonna. give me prince. but you could keep michael jackson.

so, to be honest, i just can't participate in the mass hysterical grief. in fact, i can't muster any feelings about it whatsover, i am completely and utterly ambivalent. but there are a few things i keep thinking about...

: : are madonna and prince, who both turned 50 this year as well, freaking out?

: : can you imagine being the team of doctors and nurses who worked with him at the hospital, trying to resuscitate him? how they must have seen his real face, mangled beyond any normalcy by countless plastic surgeries? it must have been very sad to see him like that.

: : does this mark the end of postmodernity once and for all? because michael jackson was the very embodiment of postmodernity, wasn't he? a parody so unreal he took on a reality as a parody. the ultimate pastiche of references...the moonwalking, the glove, the red leather, the epaulettes, the spats, the bling before it was called bling, the falsetto, the amusement park at neverland, the ever-more-bizarrely sculpted face, living in bahrain, dangling his baby off a balcony. he was the ultimate postmodern icon. so full of multiple realities that he was stripped entirely of reality. how do we even really know what's gone now?

: : does it also mark, once and for all, the end of the 80s? because while his contemporaries madonna and prince seemed to move on and recognize that new decades came and with them a need for new incarnations of themselves, he never really seemed to realize the 80s were over. and although he tried, with the freaky plastic surgery and bleached skin, to change, he never really left that decade of excess, he never gained any ironic distance to it.

at least the good things he did create - his music - will live on and we can hope that he's found the peace he was so clearly searching for and never found.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

blowsy and a bit past prime

it's a sunny, but windy saturday and it struck me that i'm feeling a bit like my peonies. blowsy, somewhat unkempt, windblown and a bit past prime. but still pretty magnificent.

note: when i looked up blowsy on dictionary.com, i was pleased to learn it came from blowze which is an archaic term for wench. and i'm intentionally using what's probably the british spelling instead of blowzy, because it connoted the wind for me a bit more and i wanted that.

hoping you have a lovely weekend going, wherever you are...

p.s. nikon rocks the color--these are completely untouched, as they came out of the camera.

Friday, June 26, 2009

when we create things and release them into the world

it was not even two months ago that the idea of blog camp was born. and already, we've held the first one, planned the second and organized an emergency we-simply-must-get-together-again blog camp 1.5 in the UK in between the first two and we have 50 followers (!!) on the blog camp blog. on top of it, sara is planning a spin-off blog camp (note: this link is just to sara's blog, not a specific post on blog camp 2.1) in the US, to be held over labor day weekend, at the same time as blog camp 2.0 in denmark. there really is a snowball effect happening.

i think it's pretty amazing to see these small bits and pieces of the thoughts and ideas which we throw out into the blogosphere being caught and made into beautiful things all around us. and the fact that there are real people behind it all, making things happen, makes me realize that we are quite far from husband's theory that the internet will take on a life of its own (he's still waiting for the internet to do that first post on his blog).

and what's interesting to me is how organic it is (hmm, maybe this proves that husband is right)...with things growing and changing in a dynamic process all the time. i had an idea about how blog camp 1.0 would be and while it was, in some ways, how i imagined it, it was also very different. because you have to factor in the people involved. and now, we're having blog camp 1.5 with five of the same people from BC1.0 plus two more and i'm really excited to see how that changes the dynamic and perhaps even the concept. because it's difficult to predict anything when there are people involved. i'm certain only that it will be fantastic, but i can't foresee in what ways.

i saw a list yesterday of potential things to do at BC 2.1 (as we've dubbed it) in reno. and it struck me that a list of activities--none of which involved pajamas or blogging--was a new incarnation of the concept. although we did see the mermaid, for those of us at BC 1.0, it was really about meeting the people behind the blogs and doing some of the things--e.g. taking pictures and drinking lots of coffee and wine--that we love to do in the blogosphere together in person.

and after my initial confusion and a bit of wondering whether i hadn't been clear on the concept (i reread and i, in fact, had been pretty clear), i took a deep breath and realized that it was all ok. because we can't really know what will happen with the things we create and we have to be prepared to release them and let them become whatever they become to others who embrace those ideas. and i realized that was actually a pretty powerful thing.

and speaking of blog camp 2.0 - there are still a couple of spots, so please do let me know if you'd like to come! it'll be a blast and well worth the trip, i promise.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

updates on a world gone mad or wherein she changes her mind

because a pretty flower can set the tone for a good day

so that stupid governor asshole guy who i defended yesterday--at least in his right to go analog--turned out to be just another slimeball politician without morals. what is it about these people that makes them think no one will ever find out these things? i still say, however, that people (which loosely includes elected officials) should be able to go offline for a few days without the whole world crumbling down. of course, i myself would never do that, but i'm just saying, people should be allowed if they want to.

and speaking of technology and always being on, how did we ever meet someone somewhere before the ubiquity of mobile phones? did we just make an agreement to be at a certain place at a certain time and then meet? what a novel concept. and why can i seriously not remember how i ever managed to meet someone somewhere before i could text?

* * *

ok, i know i said yesterday that i had gone off flickr, but then i found out that The White House has an flickr photostream and there are some seriously good candid shots there. so i'll stay on flickr and just stop joining those crap-ass flickr groups with all the stupid rules. and yes, i just added the white house as a contact. i mean where else can you see obama hanging out with pirates?

* * *

and speaking of flickr, i'm getting a little obsessed with spudballoo's challenge to me to reveal 30 secrets in 30 days, which, you guessed it, turns out to be a flickr group (thankfully quite free of restrictive rules and clauses). i find i'm constantly jotting down another secret in my little blog notebook and i think that most of them i haven't even revealed previously or if i have, i'll reveal a new aspect of the secret. starting july 1, right here on MPC. does anyone else want to play along?

* * *

i think i'll make one of these in cheery colors for the next time i'm feeling down

we saw this bright, cheery quilt in my little town when we were walking around the other day and i think i'll see what i've got in my stash and make one for the next time i'm feeling all down. i really shouldn't be bothered by the fact that we've passed the summer solstice, as the darkness won't start to show appreciably for another month or so--best to enjoy the light while it's here and stop fretting about when it's not! i am feeling the desire to make a quilt, after running across this beautiful quilt block on the spirit cloth blog. it makes me think of elizabeth's beautiful soul food project, as well as the notion of art journaling in textiles. there's so much inspiration in the world, it's kind of silly to spend a whole day moping around. but maybe it's just something we need once in awhile. i'm glad the gloom lifted.

* * *

i leave you with a little story from my nephew, finn (the US finn, we also have one in sweden), age 6. he came home yesterday from a trip to target and informed his brother that he had looked at the analog legos while he was there. maybe it's a message that we all need to spend less time online...go get out your analog legos and build something!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

ponderable or has the world gone completely mad...

i just read about the hubbub over the supposed disappearance of south carolina governor mark sanford. two thirds of a page of my danish newspaper were devoted to the story this morning. apparently, the governor took a few days offline to go hiking in the appalachians. he had lost a very public battle during the legislative session and told his wife and his minders that he was taking a few days off. he was a bit secretive about it and his staff and even his wife and four children claimed not to know where he was. he finally called from somewhere on the appalachian trail and was shocked at the outcry over his disappearance, so he said he would be back in the office on wednesday.  i have no opinion about gov. sanford, who has been talked about in connection with a presidential bid in 2012. well, not no opinion exactly, but he's a republican, so i could really care less whether this hurts his chances.

what's interesting to me about the story is that little thing we found ourselves joking about during blog camp. do we exist if we're not online? because that seems to be the rub here. the governor didn't phone or text or tweet or update his facebook status for five whole days. therefore he, for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist. there's even talk of whether it's a violation of the south carolina constitution. i don't know that much about south carolina, but i'm going to hazard a guess that in the history of that state, there's been decades where governors were not online and times when it was difficult to reach them by phone or messenger or even pony express. what does it say about the times we live in that someone can't go offline? seriously, what important thing is going to happen in south carolina that it might fall apart if they can't reach their governor? last time i checked, they were on good terms with north carolina, so no danger of invasion and it's not quite hurricane season yet. leave the man alone, people.

* * *

i think i've gone off flickr. i'm tired of invitations to contribute my photos to groups with elaborate rules about how you must comment on x number of other photos to the left of and just down from your photo, but only the odd numbered ones if it's wednesday and even ones if it's tuesday. especially the ones where they want you to use their stupid little logo widget thingie to comment with. if i have something to say, i'll say it. if i like a photo, i fave it. if i join a group, naturally i look at the other photos in it. i don't need to be forced by the flickr group police to do these things. if you really want my photo in your group, you won't have a bunch of crap ass strings attached to it. and if you do, you'll find that i won't be contributing my photo. not anymore. you bunch of asinine flickr nazis.

* * *

i think maybe staying up late for the sankt hans celebration on the lake and getting up early this morning wasn't such a good idea.

midsummer - sankt hans

10:30 p.m.

11:15 p.m.

jazz clarinet wafting over still water.
a bonfire.
silently gliding boats.
on a midsummer evening.

no witches were actually harmed.

especially not this witch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

blog camp: different yet the same

there were a couple of moments at the beginning of blog camp, when we were wandering around copenhagen and i felt a little bit like this place was far too small. and that's because twice we ran into someone i knew. first, at the airport, we almost missed B and polly because i was talking to an old friend i ran into. then, at nyhavn, those crazy guys who had been working for some hours on their buzz before the ACDC concert (they actually remembered running into us, because the one i knew left a message on my wall on facebook that indicates he remembered!)

just to clarify these guys for all of you who were deeply confused by our strange posts during blog camp...guy on the left, friend of guy on the right (who i knew and used to work with). both were very drunk at 6 p.m. since they'd had quite a few beers and possibly some nasty licorice vodka during the four-hour train ride to copenhagen. they were going to attend an ACDC concert later that evening. guy on the left really wanted to play with my camera, but i wouldn't let him--he's also the one we pretended was seaside girl. at one stage, he took a little nap in his chair (next to polly), then suddenly woke up and burst into "singin' in the rain" (it was raining at that point), which seemed a little at odds with the whole ACDC concert thing.

* * *

the rain cleared and upon slipping free of the drunks gentlemen sailors above, we made our way on the train to my house. i was fine until we were two houses up the street from our house and then suddenly i had a major case of butterflies. the more i think about blog camp and how i felt leading up to it, our house was my biggest worry--whether they would like it. i'm not sure why that is, except that i feel it so strongly reflects who we are that i was worried that if they didn't like it, then they wouldn't like me.

when we arrived, husband had placed this stump and all of the axes in the household out front, which was great, because it broke the tension i felt.

he and sabin had also locked the doors and put up signs saying the house closed at 7 p.m. (it was by then 8:45 or so). they had left a little tray of sandwiches outside the back door, but apparently the cat had eaten them as only some tomatoes were left. somehow, i didn't manage to take pictures of those signs (i'm sure others did and hope they will post them), but they were quite hilarious. finally, they did let us in and we opened some wine and set about the business of picking places to sleep (we drew names out of a cup) and then ate a simple dinner of cheese and sausage and homemade bread and hummus. 

it was chilly from all the rain and husband had started a fire for us in the wood-burning stove in the blue room, so we moved out there for more wine and strawberries and cream and lots of laughter. we diffused some of the wonderful gingery-lemony "blog camp blend" of essential oils that the fragrant muse had been kind enough to send to us (among other things) as a special treat (more about that later today on the blog camp blog). and we laughed and talked about blogs and blogging and whether we were like our blogs 'til the wee hours. 

B has perhaps said it best on her blog as to whether we are like our blogging voices. and i feel largely that we were. the biggest surprise for me was polly, who is quite serious on her blog but is very funny and a bit more wacky in person. kristina didn't join us for the evening, having parted with us in copenhagen to go home to sweden, but we realized that although she blogs largely through images, those had given us a good idea of her voice--pictures really are worth a thousand words. seaside girl, who we had gotten to know better from her blog in the month or so leading up to blog camp, was very like her blog self, as am i (we know i don't hide that much of who i am here). i would say that extranjera was actually nicer than i expected her to be...by which i mean less sarcastic and cynical that she seems (for humorous effect, which we totally get) on her blog. as she said herself, "i'm really quite pleasant." and she is.

best of all, tho' was the way there was no one dominant person and no underdog. no one person was ever the single object of ridicule--it shifted nicely (me and the stains on my shirt, polly's posing, seaside girl's open mouth in all pictures, extranjera's crouching, b's closed eyes, kristina's butcher knife in the head). no one was albanienated at any time. and i didn't have to be mother hen and protect anyone from being left out/bullied. in other words, we were all totally cool, capable adults who rocked blog camp. yay for us! and frankly, i didn't really expect it to be any other way, tho' you do worry anytime you gather a group of women. i think five (sometimes six) was an excellent number--three is no good, then it's always two against one, but with five, there's always someone on your side (see evidence in the comments of this post).

in all, blog camp was a resounding success and i'd do it again in a minute. like in august in the UK, at bee's house (she apparently has a very cool and understanding husband as well). and then, of course, there's blog camp 2.0, right here at blog camp ground control in denmark. two of the four spots are spoken for, so check those ticket prices today! you don't wanna miss out on scenes like this:

Monday, June 22, 2009

5 questions from spudballoo

photo credit: extranjera (who despite having a mac, is a canon girl)

the 5 questions thing has been circulating again and the other day, after having totally insulted spudballoo in a comment on her blog, i repented and asked her for five questions to make up. happily, it seems to have worked and so i'm hoping it also means i'm forgiven for the comment. here are spud's five questions for moi:

spud:  Were there times in the lead up to Blog Camp that you woke in the night and thought, "Oh...my...GOD...what have I done? Inviting a load of internet randoms to my home? Where's the escape button?"

me: i actually kinda answered this earlier today in my first reflections on blog camp post. i never actually regretted it, other than in moments of self-doubt. actually, i never doubted the blog campers (and even feared 'til the last minute that they might change their minds and not get on those planes). i had loads of thoughts about whether my house would be as apartment therapy/cool as i had made it out to be on my blog (and as i myself think it is). i suddenly worried whether they would find it to be a junky, jumbled, mis-matched ikea hell. if they thought that, they were all too kind to say so, so that was good.

spud: Do you find that 'real life' really gets in the way of 'bloggy life' in an irritating manner? How do you  keep a good balance between the two?

me: i'm so lucky that i have the job i have and that i get to work at home quite at lot. because not having to fix myself to leave the house every morning means i can stay up late (which i love to do) and just that i have more time for the bloggy life. i don't watch that much t.v. and when i do, usually have my laptop at hand so i can tweet and try to catch up on the blogs in my reader (because you do all keep posting, even when i'm busy). i'd say reading is what i fall behind on most when i am busy and when the posts build up in the reader, it gives me a bit of a panicky feeling.

i don't know if i balance it well. i'm trying to be better about that...being there for sabin when she needs me and not mmhmming to her while i don't look up from the computer. i'm not always good at that, but i'm trying to be better and i've asked her to help me out--telling me when she needs my attention and dragging me away from the computer when i'm not on a work deadline. i'd say that sometimes, when i'm in search of creative inspiration on the net, i don't balance very well and i keep collecting input and then not really sitting down and giving myself time to also see what happens on the output side. but i'm trying to be better about that as well.

man, these are coming out more serious than i thought they would.

spud: Are you Barbie or Sindy?

delusional barbie wanna-be
check out ken in the window behind!
photo by extranjera

me:  barbie. definitely. although these days i'm a chubby old barbie whereas the real barbie never seems to age or gain an ounce. i also always envied barbie's hair and used to go around with a towel on my head, pretending i had luxurious long hair.

spud: If we asked Mr. Julocka, what would he say are your top 3 vices?

me: 1) that i wander off on tangents whenever i tell a story and forget what my original story was supposed to be about. 2) that i'm unfocused and that it causes me to wander away and leave things on the stove to burn and/or spill stuff because i'm not paying attention. 3) that i am a packrat who hates to throw anything away. (these are my interpretations, i didn't actually ask him--i'll do so and share those when he gets home from his course at the end of the week.)

spud: Any chance of persuading you to do a 30 secrets in 30 days project (NB it's exhausting!). If not, please indulge us and share a couple of juicy ones.

me: because they are in the same vein as the confessions that have so fallen in love with (thanks polly), i will take your challenge. i'll do it during july, when i'm being all virtuous and not drinking and eating raw and all that stuff i promised myself i'd do.  i might not do them with elaborate costumes like you've done, but they will be juicy nonetheless (at least some of them).

and that was it, my questions with spudballoo. would you like 5 questions? let me know here in the comments and i'll send some your way. it's a fun game to play.

blog camp: reflections on the beginning

when you plan for something big, you have all of this anxious build-up to it...both literally and in your mind. you imagine what it will be like and you plan for what it will be like. with blog camp, it was the same. only it was difficult to really imagine what it would be like. it was a little strange to think of meeting five people who i'd never met in real life, but felt like i knew through their blogs--what would they be like for real? what kind of chemistry would be there between the group? or, even worse, might there not be chemistry between the group members? yikes. so many thoughts.

with all of the personalities and talk of tiaras, would anyone be a prima donna? would we all be? would it make it insufferable? or would there be one nice person who got crushed under the force of stronger personalities? or would one person dominate totally? would the weekend go quickly or drag on endlessly? so many questions.

so, in the end, all i could really do to mentally prepare was get ready in the physical sense...house cleaned and tidied, beds ready for people to sleep in, food and drink supplies laid in. if the house was ready i would be ready.

and largely, i would say that i never second-guessed the decision to invite five strangers to come hang out at my house for a weekend. it was done a bit on a whim and quite possibly began as a joke on husband's part (he should know better by now), but i never regretted it, even if i couldn't really imagine what it would be like.

i headed for the airport on friday with good butterflies. i had a sense of trying to consciously preserve the "first time-ness" of the experience--because you only have one first time experience of anything. and it's not that often that you know you're going to experience something for the first time--most of the time, things just happen and they end up being the first time. this was a unique opportunity. i knew i was going to meet my blog camp friends for the first time. and that felt somehow special.

my only doubts as i headed there were, "oh dear, will i recognize everyone?" i thought i'd know extranjera and B and polly, but i'd never seen seaside girl or kristina, so i wasn't sure. we'd made a plan that i'd buy a little flag from each country and be standing there waving those and they would thereby find me. however, i got to the airport and realized i didn't know for sure what the flags of poland and spain looked like and the shop was out of all of the others! yikes! so, i'd have to hope they recognized me.

i saw kristina first, she was leaning against a big pillar near starbucks, where we had agreed to meet. although she didn't look as i expected, i knew it was her right away from the way she looked at me like she recognized me. she had spotted extranjera, sitting in the starbucks and we went over to greet her. we knew it was her from the murakami she was reading. (oops, still owe a discussion on that one on the hermit book club blog).

i'd had word from polly and B that their flight was delayed, but we knew that seaside girl would arrive soon from gatwick, so we went over to wait. we giggled quite a lot about how we would recognize her since none of us had much of an idea how she would look...we couldn't even really agree on what she'd said about her recent haircut. thankfully, she recognized us and came right up to us. we all immediately started laughing and headed back over to starbucks to wait for B & polly's flight to come in.

we chatted away, only having a couple of minutes here and there of wondering what to say next. but it helped that we felt we knew one another from our blogs. then, it was time for B & polly's flight. while we were waiting, we tried to catch a photo of a weird nu skin cult leader girl for molly's sake, but kept missing the opportunity (ok, it was me who was too slow to get out the damn iPhone at the right time). at last, just when their flight had disappeared entirely from the sign and we were beginning to wonder if they had had to report a lost bag, they came out. and we were off towards the train to the center of copenhagen.

i entered my usual chaos mode and it took extranjera and i quite a bit of discussion to determine how many tickets to buy and which color of clip card was best, but soon, we were on a train and stowing their bags at the central station in copenhagen so we could be free to walk around.

it was so much fun walking around the city, cameras constantly at the ready, seeing copenhagen anew through their eyes. and it was quite amazing how quickly any nervousness and awkwardness melted very quickly away. i suppose because we did, in many ways, know one another quite well through our blogs and everyone proved to be very like their bloggy self.

more later from the first evening...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

in the aura of blog camp 1.0

i'm still basking in the afterglow of blog camp 1.0. it was a success beyond my wildest expectations (and my expectations were quite wild). i'm still processing all of the many thoughts and feelings that are tumbling through my brain but after two action-packed days, two very late nights and relatively early mornings in a row (and some lovely patron tequila), i am rather exhausted, so those will have to wait before tumbling out onto the page.

i came home from the airport just in time to grill sausages and halloumi and marshmallows with my family and then i retired to the upper garden with mma ramotswe (i've got the new one) and a glass of wine (yup, i could still drink wine). husband came up and sat with me for awhile, but soon, i was snoozing away. and my snooze turned into a two hour nap in the late-afternoon sunshine, lulled to sleep by the songs of the birds overhead. blog camp was pretty tiring. :-)

i'll be sharing some of the pictures/highlights/impressions/reflections all week, both here and on the blog camp blog.

but for now, thank you girls (and they were all girls, despite our little jokes trying to convince otherwise), for a beautiful weekend! be sure to visit B and extranjera and kristina and polly and seaside girl to see their impressions this week as well. and don't forget to check in on the blog camp blog, because we've got some post-blog camp 1.0 fun planned there. and if you have specific questions you'd like us to answer, please ask them over there, so all can answer!

two takes

it took us two takes to get us all jumping...(ok, way more than two), but these two shots show all of us jumping. just not in the same shot. check the blog camp blog for more of the fun that's been going on. i have many impressions to write about in the coming week. but for now, i'll just say it's been wonderful.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

blog camp is a bit surprising...

like i totally did not expect these guys. but yet, here they are...

oh yay, a meme for blog camp day

lisa-marie at this girl... tagged me for one of those question memes where you answer all of them but the one you like least, replace that one with one of your own choosing and then pass it along. :-) it sounded like the perfect post for a saturday, when i'm hanging out with my blog campers!! (squeal! yay! happy dance of joy!)...so here are the questions (and i'll admit i chopped off more than just one--it was getting too long for me, but i added several easy ones at the end):

what is your current obsession?
thankfully, i seem to have moved on somewhat from the eyeball thing, so i'd have to say stones. rock on, man. especially if the stones also look like eyeballs. that's the best.

coffee or tea?
both - tea in the morning--with milk and 1.5 spoons of sugar, coffee the rest of the day, with plenty of milk (preferably steamed/frothed), but no sugar.

what's for dinner?
tonight, it was one of our favorite dishes--fish (we used rødspætter--one of those ugly flat fish with eyes on top, not on the sides, that i don't know the name of in english) baked in the oven with a lovely mess of grated carrots, leeks and a can of coconut milk. served over rice. it's heavenly. and there's some left over, so i'll be having it for lunch tomorrow. yum. we have a great fish guy in our town, so i try to go there at least once a week.

what would you eat for your last meal?
wagyu beef and a big plate of sushi

what was the last thing you bought?
i'd love to say it was my chucks, but it was four packages of tea, a package of fried onions (ristetløg) and a bag of crisps made of root veggies (so totally healthy). :-)

what are you listening to right now?
sadly, i'm listening to husband snoring, as i turned off the music when he went to bed. most of the day, we listened to america's greatest hits, oddly enough.

what's your favorite ice cream flavor?
i love a really good coconut ice cream and once cried in a thai restaurant in phoenix because they were out of theirs, which was heavenly. once i cried, they actually scrounged up a bowl of it for me. lesson in that: crying to get your way--very effective.

what do you think of the person who tagged you?
lisa-marie's blog is new on my blogdar (like radar, only detects blogs)...i think i've visited her one time previously. i love discovering new blogs and anyone who uses lots of ellipses is cool in my book.

if you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
i'd go to the seminary co-op bookstore in hyde park, chicago. i could easily kill and hour and several hundred dollars there.

which language do you want to learn?
i'd like to learn afrikaans.

what is your favorite color?
i think this says it all: turquoisey-blue

what's your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
my best and fave long & lean gap jeans. (and you thought i was gonna say the chucks, didn't you?)

what is your dream job?
i think i have my dream job, but would like to blog for a living.

what is your worst habit?

if you had £100 right now, what would you spend it on?

do you admire anyone's style?
this is really bad, but i'm drawing a total blank. i love dr. gregory house's style...but that's more a state of mind than a look.

describe your personal style...
this isn't a question. i refer you to my profile description in the sidebar. :-) my style's all over the place, depending on the occasion. i love fake lashes. i have a hugo boss suit. but most of the time, i wear flannel pj bottoms, a comfy t-shirt and the striped gap sweater my sister gave me for christmas.

what are you going to do after this?
sleep (i've scheduled this post, you see). i don't sleep enough what with the fact that you all keep writing blog posts, even when i'm busy and i'll probably never catch up!

what are your favorite movies?
the abyss (afgrunden) (1910) starring asta nielsen
fargo, the princess bride, the castlenapoleon dynamite

what is your favorite smell?
this changes all the time (you know my thing for perfume), but i have to say that in spring, when the air is heavy with the scent of lilacs, that not much can beat that.

cats or dogs?
cats or cat-like dogs (e.g. pugs)

mac or PC?
mac (duh)

tolstoy or dostoevsky?

moscow or st. petersburg?

how many questions do you think i added? which ones?

and if you would like to play along, consider yourself tagged. thanks again lisa-marie for giving me an assignment, sorry i kinda tapered off at the end and didn't answer quite all of the original questions...

Friday, June 19, 2009

molly's meme

molly (my very first follower) made up a meme. all by herself. and i mean, why not? someone's got to do it, right? well, she didn't actually tag me for it, but i'm going to do it anyway because i'm the fairy blogmother and i can do stuff like that. and plus, i'm going to pick up my blog campers today and so it makes for an easy scheduled post.

totally gratituous rock shot

here's what molly says about her brand spankin' new meme:

I've always had the problem of not being able to pick a favourite. I don't have one favourite movie or one favourite book, or one favourite food. Life's just a bit more complex than that for me. I'm 75% Gemini  - go figure.

So the idea here is that you list 5 items in each category, a favourite 5 - but not necessarily in order of favouriteness - to show the diversity/similarity/hilarity/polarity/ or extreme same-ness of your personal likes.

And then tag 5 peeps to do the same. And feel free to add or subtract categories as you like.
Down with meme imperialism!

and here are my favorite things....

5 favorite songs (this list would be different if you asked me in an hour or a day):
1. Hotel California - Eagles
2. I think I'm in Love - Beck
3. Citizen of the Planet - Alanis Morissette
4. Express Yourself - Madonna (this song saw me through a bad breakup)
5. My Sister - Juliana Hatfield 3

5 favorite films:
1. Fargo
2. The Princess Bride
3. Afgrunden (The Abyss) (1911 danish silent film--i loved it before i ever even came to denmark)
4. The Castle (it's a hilarious australian film)
5. Napoleon Dynamite
i had total deja vu writing this...but i think it's b/c of saturday's scheduled post (another meme).

5 favorite books:
1. Pushkin House (Pushkinskii Dom) - Andrei Bitov
2. The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen
3. Wind up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
4. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (just kept this one here from molly's list)
5. What I Loved - Siri Hustvedt

5 favorite crushes (there is a distinct old man theme going on here):
1. David Letterman
2. Hugh Laurie
3. Bill Clinton
4. Todd Benjamin (saw him moderate a panel last week at Nor-Shipping--i'm a sucker for a smart one)
5. Fox Mulder (yes, i realize he is a character played by David Duchovney, however, it's Fox, not David that I'm crushing on.)

5 favorite (random) things:
1. my pet rock
2. perfume
3. iPods
4. my Macbook Pro
5. iPhone

5 favorite things to eat (you knew i was going to have to add one of my own):
1. mango (especially in the philippines)
2. salty almonds
3. homemade pizza with wacky ingredients (pears & salad - potatoes & chicken)
4. watermelon
5. tapas - garlic shrimp, chorizo,...mmm, just thinking about it makes me hungry

and i thought that i would tag three new bloggers that have discovered me i've discovered recently and two old friends:

1.  just jules
2.  marinik
3.  delwyn 
4.  an open heart
5.  janet

and one more gratuitous rock shot, mostly because i put these on flickr the other day, but never blogged them:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

the god(desse)s of the blogosphere have been kind

some calm, restful images to help calm my mounting excitement over the impending arrival of blog camp.  tomorrow around noon, extranjera, B, polly, seaside girl and kristina will either arrive or meet me at the copenhagen airport. all of the last preparations are being made, the cleaning girl is here, and i'm feeling ready. but i definitely can't sit still. in some ways, it's quite extraordinary and remarkable that this is really happening. an idea thrown out one sunday on a whim, now coming to fruition.

i think it's really brave of five people who have never met me, except here on my blog, to buy plane tickets (for four of them) and come to stay at my house in another country for a whole weekend. it's like beyond belief cool. and i am in awe of their bravery. all kinds of crazy, "am i good enough thoughts" have crossed my mind, but those are mostly quiet now. i think we can't help but have a fantastic time. we hope you'll follow along with the madcap antics all weekend over on the blog camp blog. and hopefully, it will inspire you to want to be part of blog camp II in september.

* * *
and speaking of amazing people in cyberspace...you must go check out the latest guerilla marketing from stacey childs of discounderworld. she's got to be the coolest kiwi out there. while you're there, be sure to order your copy of the Gold Edition of Discounderworld (it's so exciting i actually used capital letters)! 
don't you just love the idea of guerilla marketing? and the whole way that ideas happen here in this bloggy world and then people get involved and suddenly things happen in reality and not only in cyberspace. i love that about the blogosphere. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the danes are a happy people

in a hyperlink world, your progression of thoughts goes something like this...starlene sends you an email citing this quote which came from here:

"Despite not having money, do you still love your life?:  That’s such an American question. Somewhere behind those 10 words is the reason the US continues to linger in the mid-30s of the world happiness index. You know, we get crushed by the Danes in that index every year? -Fucking Danes are so happy! 

The answer is a resounding “sure”. Like most people, I get bummed out a lot, but not about money. I just try to remind myself of my friends, the cool town I live in, and that once in a while I’ll make someone laugh who kinda needed a chuckle. Hell, it’s not Denmark-Euphoria, but most of the time it’s enough.

starlene's path to the quote had started at tangobaby, gone to tangobaby's i live here: SF project blog, then to broke-ass stuart's blog, which led to the link above featuring broke-ass of the week: jeff cleary. and then, all of these links made me go in search of that world happiness index report thingie that the danes come out on top of year after year, so i googled and i found this analysis and this one (featuring a clip on the happiness of danes which was done by 60 minutes) and this one. and naturally, it got me thinking...

actually, every time i see this report of the world happiness index, which the danes have come out on top of for like twenty years, it makes me think. because frankly, i don't think you can tell it by looking at them. you'd expect more overt smuggery (thank you for that word spudballoo) from them, walking around all satisfied and happy like that. but honestly, you don't see it. in fact, if you looked around at the lack of interaction between people (best observed when someone has just run over your foot with their big-ass baby carriage and not apologized) and the no smiling as they walk down the street (especially not at a stranger, ew, shudder at the thought of strangers), you'd actually get the impression that they were quite an unhappy little nation.

starlene asked if it was true that the danes were so happy and i dashed off an answer on my iPhone...one that strangely, in all of my thinking about it over the years, i hadn't actually articulated before. previously, i'd flippantly suggested that it was about low expectations...if you don't expect much, you're pretty satisfied with what you get, right? but there is something more to it than that.

i think it has to do with people feeling generally valued. minimum wage is 120 kroner/hour, which at today's exact exchange rate, which i just ran on XE is $22.41, so even if you're working for minimum wage, you might not go to mallorca for two weeks every summer, but you can live an ok life. (i also think this high minimum wage has to do with why the service culture sucks, but that's the stuff of another post.)

people also feel that their things are valuable. just as an example, our house, which is an ordinary four-bedroom 200m2 house in an ordinary neighborhood and might cost $200,000 in a decent suburb in an american city of similar size, would list for an asking price of $672,000 if we were to put it on the market. this is after the market adjustment that's happened in the past six months. not that i'm saying that people feel happy sitting around converting their real estate to dollars in their heads..it's more a content knowledge that your assets are worth something.

people also feel safe and they trust the people around them. i have to admit that we rarely lock our house and we never lock our car. half the time, i leave the key in the car and our bikes stand out in the bike shed with the keys in their locks (granted i wouldn't do this in the center of copenhagen, but where we live, no problem).

then, there's also that it's a more egalitarian place. there's less hierarchy between jobs. when i first came to denmark more than a decade ago, i remember being struck by the fact that if someone worked in a factory or as a clerk in a store, they didn't seem to have any desire to downplay that. they would openly talk about standing on an assembly line, doing monotonous repetitive work in a positive way that wasn't familiar to me from the US (ok, since i came to denmark straight from the U of C, i might have had a skewed world view, i'll admit). but the fact is that it's a shorter distance from richest to poorest in denmark and there are a whole lotta people in the middle, so people feel equal and worthy of their fellow man.

the danes don't have the baggage of having to live "the american dream," that we as americans are both blessed and cursed with. that's actually one of the things that i was worried about with sabin growing up here...that she wouldn't grow up with the expectation that she could become anything she wanted to be. i no longer feel that way and think she's growing up with a different view on being whatever she wants to be--one that's less competitive and healthier and far more relaxed.

because if anything, i think the danes are quite relaxed. i know that when i go to the US, i feel far more stressed and pushed--to be faster, to do more. here, people work hard, but they leave at 3 p.m. to pick up their kids, spend a few good hours with them between picking them up, dinner and getting them to bed and then get back online and attend to work again after the kids go to bed. they're accustomed to dealing with other time zones and know that it's sometimes necessary to join a conference call across the world at 9 p.m. and they do so without thinking much about it--it's just normal.

because although danes like to come back home and think denmark is the greatest, they are outward-looking and travel a lot. they are informed about what's going on in the world and interested in it. as VEG wrote recently, there are lots of americans who don't even really know where canada is and it's sitting right there on top of them. danes have a remarkable awareness of and interest in the world. and this may make them happy to be back at home in their little country where although there are problems, there's a secure social welfare system and free medical care as well as a good public transport net and safe roads.

just an example of the social welfare system: i keep reading about people in the US who are laid off from one day to the next. that can't happen here. you can be laid off, of course, but the company must continue to pay you for three months if you've been in the job for less than three years. if it's more than three years, they have to pay you another month for every year, so 4 years = 4 months, and so on. this gives you time and breathing room to recover from the shock and find another job before you run completely out of money. and even if you don't find something, there's social welfare to keep you from having to sell off your firstborn child on ebay (tho' you may want to do that some days anyway, depending on the behavior of said child and your level of patience).

while i believe that all of these factors contribute to the danes' general level of happiness (and frankly, i'm  a pretty happy and content person myself, so it does rub off), there are flip sides to it. like a general level of impoliteness and a lack of service culture that i also believe are results of all of this equality.

but for the most part, it's true, denmark is a pretty happy place. just look at that cheerful red and white flag? how could that not make you happy?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

an evolution of taste

last weekend, i worked on some baby duvet covers as a gift for a friend who recently had twins--a boy and a girl. we're sending husband's oldest daughter (she's 17 and a half) to the US this week, to spend the summer with my sister and accelerate her english, so i wanted to finish the baby duvet covers to send along with her in the otherwise empty suitcase she's taking for all of the loot she'll bring back. as i was putting them together, using fabrics i had on hand, i realized how much my taste has changed since i made baby duvet covers for sabin when she was a baby eight years ago.

here's the most beloved one that i made for her (it's really falling apart now, as she still uses that little baby dyne (as it's called in danish) as her hugging blankie and with her bears and such).  but this photo was on a plane in 2006 when it was still in good shape:

it was a bright cotton check that i bought at the dreaded wal-mart (before my vow never to set foot there again). it's soft and smooth and she has always loved how it feels. i sewed on a ribbon of rainbow-colored cord on the front and it has cute heart-shaped buttons. i remember i made it the summer when sabin was a baby and i was home visiting my parents while husband stayed home and tore out our kitchen and redid it. i sewed a lot that summer on my mom's sewing machine.

and these are the covers i made this weekend (#53 and #54, by the way, in the journey of creativity in 2009):

i feel there has been a major shift in my taste. and it's not only to do with what fabrics are available and in style today vs. then. although sabin has loved her little duvet cover--i made several that summer and the one above is the favorite above all--i wouldn't choose that fabric today. as you can see, i wouldn't make it all with just one fabric either.

my favorite colors are in evidence here. i love that i had all this stuff on hand--anna maria horner fabrics, some lovely hand-printed fabric bits with helicopters and cars on them from this etsy shop. the prints and colors i'm attracted to today are just different than they were.

some super cute japanese fabric with matryoshki on it from this etsy shop.

but aside from sourcing on etsy, what has changed? my taste, for sure. the available materials/colors, for sure. my entire sensibility? i think so. i think we cannot help but be influenced by the place in which we find ourselves. did it make a difference that i made sabin's little duvet cover when i was at my mom's house in the US and that i made these two here in my own little creative house in my garden? i think it did, so location is surely a factor.

of course, there is the intervening 8 years of input, inspiration and influences as well. all of the things i have done and seen have brought me to here, where this is what i make today, rather than still being there where i made what i made 8 years ago. we evolve creatively. we change and grow.

i've been seeing a lot of great embroidery out there...on flickr, on blogs, in advertisements...and so it influences me. i wouldn't have thought of embroidering on sabin's cover 8 years ago, but it was exactly what i wanted to do on these two.

but it also has to do with the availability of inspiring materials. like this ribbon from here. and choosing to use ribbon as a closure had to do with time pressure and not being there where my mom knew how to use the buttonholer on her machine and not having tried it yet on my own new machine. but it was also because i had such great ribbon at hand.

but mostly, i have a feeling that my eye has improved. 8 more years of living in a scandinavian design mecca has had to have some influence. the colors, the lines, the entire sensibility i have now is vastly different than it was then. there are so many factors that go into our design choices. it's really interesting and rather mind-boggling to try to consider all of the ones that brought you to a particular point at a particular moment in time to create a particular thing. with all that's swirling in us and around us, it's a wonder we get anything created at all.

Monday, June 15, 2009

stoned. in a good way.

a few weeks ago, trinsch of the lovely, carefree hairstyle fame (which i am too uncoordinated to duplicate, by the way, tho' i tried), had a corner view: the beach post which had some really beautiful stones in it. there was a picture of them lying in their natural state in the sand and then in a beautiful little stack. i asked her to upload that little stack to flickr so i could favorite it, because you know i have a totally minor and not at all requiring meds or excess baggage fees thing about stones. happily, she obliged and i was content.

and then, today, a little envelope arrived in my mailbox.

fabulous handwriting! cool stone with a hole in it! could it get any better? why yes, it could!
inside the pretty little bag were those very stones trinsch gathered on the beach in israel! how awesome is that? but wait, it gets even better.
that little white stone at the bottom (at 5:30) is a little piece of marble. trinsch says that it's from the historical site of caesarea--the ruins of a roman city--2000 years old. italian marble, washed and rounded and smoothed in the sea for hundreds of years, washes up on the beaches in israel, near the historical site. but my very favorite one is the little round grey one right beside it (at 7:30)--it's smooth and perfect.
trinsch's beautiful picture of them in their natural habitat

from trinsch's picture, i imagined that the stones were larger (tho' husband made fun of me for that, asking how large i imagined the bits of sand were), but i am madly in love with them and not the least bit disappointed that they are small--they're absolutely perfect! than you so much, trinsch, for making my monday! in fact, i'm sure it will actually make my whole week! 

today, trinsch has a lovely post featuring a typecase from her childhood where she displays stones and shells found on beaches around the world. you should go have a look at it, it will make your monday less weird, i promise.

monday weirdness

macro of an oak tree that was growing when the pyramids were built

morning came too soon. i was in the middle of a really cool dream in which polly and i were going around this awesome antique fair. what was really strange is that the stands kept moving and so as soon as you turned away from something, it became something else. but it wasn't in an annoying way, it was really cool. and there was this vintage clothing that was to die for and i was just turning to tangobaby to show her an especially cute blouse, when husband's stupid alarm rang. he uses his phone and he intentionally leaves it downstairs so he has to get up to turn it off. it rang for kind of a long time and i lost that great top...dark blue with some beading and a super cute fit. sigh. mondays.

so i thought i'd share a bit of monday weirdness.

: : top 51 places that are blocked or blurred out in google maps. especially strange is that william hurt's home is listed as a college or research lab. not to mention strange that it would be blurred out. i mean, who cares where william hurt lives?

: : that stupid new visa waiver program that the US has for people from countries who don't need visas to  go to the US, but have to get this dumb pre-authorization to travel there. it gives it to you instantly, online, which makes me wonder what the hell it's really about. big brother really is watching, people.

: : cartons of wine. that just sounds wrong, i don't care if the economist says it's right.

: : pride and prejudice and zombies. i'm reading this and i think it's really weird. in a good way, but really weird nonetheless. and it makes me think that perhaps adding zombies to war and peace would make that baggy monster a bit easier to take.

here's hoping your monday is less weird than mine. 

p.s. blogger, whatever that update you did this morning at 9 a.m. my time, just brought on a bunch of spacing issues that i hope you will fix in the near future.