Tuesday, November 30, 2010

life is like a blurry chocolate

 i had a brilliant conversation with a very wise man this evening. it wasn't long, but it was one of those conversations that you wish you had.  all. the. time. of course you probably wouldn't appreciate them as much if they were common, but suffice it to say that this is was a good one.

this very wise man lives from his creativity. very successfully. because he dares to do so. and i talked to him about that daring and how it came about.

he said something very interesting (many things, actually, but we'll just take the first one for now because it's late and i have to get up early). he has this theory that we spend very little time inside of ourselves, being who we really are, in the here and now. that most of our time is spent outside of ourselves - looking at the future or the past. and this conflicts with my favorite barbara kingsolver quote about "you never know how inside of themselves people are." which may now have to be amended to "you never know how inside of themselves people aren't." which is an entirely different way of looking at things, isn't it?

and he asked me what i'm really good at. and i think it's a question worth pondering.

what are you really good at?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

time to give thanks

autumn in oslo

i don't understand why thanksgiving isn't an international holiday. i think it's the best holiday of them all. a day that's completely about hanging out with your family, eating loads of special food, playing lots of games (if you're a member of my family) and thinking about being grateful. but alas, i'm in manila. working. and while it's fun to crack the whip, i do wish i could at least do it with the smell of roasted turkey wafting in the air around me.  we will manage to find a thanksgiving feast this evening (happily, there are many Filipinos with family the US, so lots of places serve turkey and all the fixins).

but regardless of where you are, thanksgiving is a great time to think about the things for which you are grateful.

i'm grateful for...

...working with the group of people i'm working with these days - they make me laugh and they impress and amaze me with their thinking and creativity.

...being able to bring sabin along with me and share this beautiful place with her.

328:365 home away from home

...the staff and service at the Manila Peninsula hotel - they are kind, friendly and simply top-notch.

...the international herald tribune.

...a husband who can build stuff. and loves to.

...my macbook air, iPhone, iPad and iMac (sorry, apple goes on the grateful list every year - i'm generally grateful for good design.)

...free public wi-fi.

...film cameras.

...people who share their inspiring creativity online and in real life.

...those people who get me. really get me.

...gmail video chat.

so here's wishing all of you a happy thanksgiving! thank you for stopping by my little corner of the blosophere! and happy thanksgiving from a warm, sunny  manila.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

what a girl wants...

305:365 blue pedi!

traveling with a rather spoiled perfectly charming and brilliant 9-year-old has me thinking about what it is a girl wants. and naturally, that makes me want to make a list. because what a girl wants is....

~ regular pedicures

~ to be listened to and appreciated.

~ an entirely new wardrobe.

~ pretty headbands.

~ pampering and recognition in a luxury hotel.

~ fabulous dresses.

~ and shoes.

~ a really good mobile phone case, preferably with lots of bling.

~ apps.

~ a very deep, very bubbly bubble bath.

~ to swim for at least an hour a day.

~ room service.

in general, all of this, plus conversations with old friends, has me thinking about how every season of life is the best one. what you've got is here and now. this is it. live it to the fullest, laugh your way through, love every minute of it. and hold onto it for all you're worth. right now really IS the time of your life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

jetlagged thoughts or talking to myself

how do you maintain professionalism in an awkward situation? how do you educate, without becoming condescending when you've already explained and explained? how not to lose your cool or control?  how do you not care when your tendency is to care too much? and what should you wear?

what about making someone understand when they do not? how is it done? you have explained to no avail. you have written to no avail. and still understanding is but a dim light on the horizon. and that light could be an oncoming train and not the end of the tunnel you desire. do you enter the tunnel or are you already in it?

perhaps achieving a place where i can let go is best for me. letting go of project, of process, of caring. because there are other things i care about...house and home and creativity and child and friends and travel and life. and i am not my job.

life is an endless chain of proving yourself, so i will prove again that i know i what i’m doing (because i do) and the results will speak for themselves. nothing else should be necessary.

* * *

you see, blogging is cheaper than therapy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

a sense of humor

i think this one speaks for itself....so i will leave it without comment. i'm too busy being doubled over with laughter.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

no light without darkness

scenes from frilandsmuseet

it’s that dark time of year and with each passing year, i feel increasingly the oppressiveness of the winter darkness. of course, winter was darker than summer where i grew up, but i live a lot farther north now. for example, chicago is on parallel with rome. where i live now, in denmark, the hudson bay. so the winter darkness is significant here.

but with the darkness, come thoughts of light. and memories of light. and somehow, along with the candlelight so prevalent in december, it carries me through...

...a cold, clear march night. a taste of moonshine. and the greenish, eerie glow of lights dancing on the northern horizon.

...a summer night on the prairie. lying on an old wooden bridge in the middle of a pasture, creek flowing below, the song of frogs, crickets and cicada filling the warm night air. strangely undiscovered by mosquitoes, watching the night sky darken and fill with a million stars. the sounds of my own laughter and our low voices, carrying through the night air. filled with the carefree joy of youth and of youthful infatuation and being full of oneself and the feeling of being alive. the light of the stars coursing through our very veins in the warm night air.

...fast forward to another summer, the waters of the volga flowing timelessly past, the winds of time and history washing over me. the summer nights stretching on and on, filled with laughter and song. and the scent of white linen breeze in the waning endless golden hours of sunset.

...warm breezes blowing in off the adriatic, ancient walls trace their trails down a hill. a plate of cool, green melon. a bottle of red wine. a heated discussion of postmodernism in the long twilight hours as night slowly settles in.

and with these, from the darkness, i can recognize that there is an unbearable lightness of being..

Friday, November 19, 2010

a hint of the christmas spirit

today it snowed. actually, more correctly, it slushed. but somehow that was ok.  i have a new christmas cookbook - jul by camilla plum, a rather earthy danish t.v. cook (she's NO nigella, i can tell you). she's earthy, but inspiring, because she's very, very real. there's no hygiene pretense for the sake of the camera. but she writes very well, so i'm enjoying the cookbook. i also ran onto these fabulous glass amanita and acorn ornaments, at the grocery store, of all places.  and with a few candles, i felt the first real hints of the christmas spirit in the air around here.

and it's a good thing, because tomorrow, sabin and i leave for manila, where the christmas spirit and christmas music and christmas lights are EVERYWHERE, so whether we like it or not, we will be christmas spirited. i think we're gonna love it.

greenbelt 3 - makati
catch you on sunday from a lovely 30°C manila.  and yes, that is the second time this month. and yes, other than the 12-hour flight, i'm really quite pleased...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

really expired film

take some really expired (in 1991) kodak ektachrome 120 film you found in a flea market, put it in a fabulous old rolleiflex TLR camera, go to the west coast of denmark, take a few shots. forget about it for about a year. go to berlin, take a few more shots. wind it up. send it for processing. and voila...

sabin on top of an old german bunker at blåvandshuk - the westernmost point of denmark
some rather eerie statues standing near esbjerg in denmark
the lighthouse at blåvandshuk
inside the main train station in berlin

the brandenburg gate
street scene - berlin
i'm digging on the overexposed, groovy old-fashioned look the expired film gave these. unlike some of my other cross-processed rolls, there's no red cast here. interesting how that works. i'm really falling in love with film. and would be learning more if i could remember the settings i used on these photos...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

seven things about which i despair...

310:365 abandoned

...that i will ever find the right shampoo.

...that this house will never be fixed.

...that once this house is fixed, we will not have (but still want) another Big Project.

...that i will never have the courage to pursue a life of creativity.

...the 12 hour flight on my horizon on saturday. in monkey class.

...that i give too much of my energy to all of the wrong things.

...cheap toilet paper.

this is a variation on a list of 7 random things that the always-inspiring kristina did recently on her blog. i added the despair thing myself. because it's friggin' dark here this time of year.  if you want to play too, just let me know, i love lists.

wordless wednesday: autumn sunshine

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

is your ceiling holding you down?

i intended to write about chaos, but that didn't happen.
sometimes writing is like that.
but i decided to leave this chaotic picture anyway.

hairbrush abandoned on the couch.  all of the couch pillows strewn over the living room floor. a big pile of clothes cast aside after an afternoon of three small girls' game of top model (most hilarious thing i've overheard in ages).  bits of a loom stacked against the far wall. a basket piled high with various half-finished stitching projects. iPad propped up on a child-sized chair. Wii-motes on the floor. just another typical day in our depressing low-ceilinged living room.

i don't spend much time here. the odd evening spent before BBC crime shows. a bit of bunny time on the couch with sabin (and the bunnies). the low ceiling, the sagging wallpaper, holes in the wall, uneven window sills - none of it very inviting. i think it's part of why the room attracts chaos. people come in, they use it and they want to leave again. without putting things away.

leading me to believe that some places attract chaos (because the chaos surely couldn't just be me).

the dismal kitchen isn't really that much better and the ceiling there is very low too. i find i'm content to leave the dinner dishes on the counter, pans in the sink and the oranges in that red net they come in, rather than arranging them fetchingly in the big fruit bowl, like i used to do in my old kitchen. tho' i bought paint ages ago, i still haven't painted those calamine lotion pink cupboards. it just seems like more effort than it's worth when we'll be tearing it all down (hopefully next summer).

i noticed when i was in the philippines a week ago that high ceilings do something interesting to my state of mind. they make me feel calm and peaceful. i think better when i'm not pressed down by the ceiling over my head. i have more and better ideas.  i feel generally more expansive in a good way (not in dress size - tho' eating in the philippines can do that). i wonder if my much more boring less edgy subdued blog posts since we moved have to do with the low ceilings of my current surroundings.

and i think the only thing that makes it ok on a daily basis is that i know it won't be like this forever.  it may be like this for another year or so, as other projects call first...a water treatment unit for our well, a new electrical panel, a new sewage system, finishing the upstairs of the old barn...so many projects. and so for now we have to live with it. low ceilings and all.

or maybe it's just all toxoplasma affecting my brain.

Monday, November 15, 2010

color palettes: what inspires right now

original photo by elisabelle b
original photo by kristina
original photo by kristina
original photo by ethanollie
original photo of taal volcano by me
these blues are really not my usual ones, but i do love this photo.
original photo by kristina (apparently i'm enamored of her color palette at the moment).
greenish-grey seems very classy.
and my own chandelier - because i adore this photo
check in on your color palettes with the color palette generator. it can be quite enlightening. i'm thinking of incorporating some of these tones into a wintery quilt. and settling on something quite stunning for my new laundry room (because when the house is falling down around you, what's the first thing you build? a new laundry room, of course).

experiments in film

the year is winding down on my 365 photo-a-day project. i'm sure now that i will make it. but my thoughts now are turning to what to do photographically in 2011. i was in awe of kristina's fearlessness - walking around berlin with just a single film camera on her person. trusting her abilities that much. i want to do that more often in the coming year. i did it one day this past week. i took only film shots, not even a single iPhone photo as a backup. but i'll admit it makes me very nervous. the instant gratification of digital is reassuring - i know immediately whether i got the shot or if i need to take another (or twelve).

i have done some photo experiments already this year...here are a few of a roll of intentional double exposures i shot last summer (finally got them developed and scanned...that's a drawback of film, i tend to let them luxuriate on my desk until they are a shocking pile).  this was a roll of fuji sensia 200 slide film that i sent through my old canon (yes, a canon!) AE-1 program twice - once here at home in denmark and once at my childhood home in south dakota.  then i had it cross-processed in the C41 chemicals (hence the red tones).

a happy accident - double-exposed, cross-processed and half frame all in one.
that's the corn palace in mitchell, SD on the left

rosemary and the corn palace
missouri river bokeh
the bench by our lake + a beautiful old SD windmill in half frame.
quite possibly proof that husband's home planet does try to contact him.
i did a lot of scanning today, so there will be more film to come as the week goes on...

* * *

things i'm enjoying...char's grateful series and poet's wardrobe refashions on seamstress stories.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

on kindness (or a lack thereof)

upside down and double exposed
yesterday was world kindness day. the lovely sel'ah gathered a whole lot of bloggy souls together to do a random act of kindness in their world, myself included.  it was slightly problematic that i didn't actually leave the house yesterday, so i still owe a random act of kindness. but that seems like a good thing to have in one's future, so i'm on the lookout now for my opportunity.

of course, i couldn't help but think about what kindness is and whether i'm particularly good at it. i suspect i'm not. as one of the less patient people in the world, i think that sometimes i strike people as abrupt and hurried and not all that kind. it seems like kindness has something to do with taking time and noticing others and i fear i do that far too little. it feels like i'm always in a hurry, dashing on to the next thing.

i could probably be much kinder at work. i have a tendency, probably from a number of years of moving around in the man's world that is shipping, to be bold and a little too aggressive and very, very impatient. i don't tend to wait for people and if they don't get it (whatever it is) right away, i am openly exasperated. and that's just not very kind.  if it's any consolation, it's not just others, i'm not all that kind to myself either.

i think i'll take the opportunity afforded by sel'ah and try to think a whole lot more about kindness this week...

* * *

my sister, the seldom blogger, blogged some very interesting thoughts about her son and struggling with the possibility of getting him some medication for a possible case of ADD. if you have any experience with this or thoughts to share, please read what she had to say and leave a comment over on just know where you are.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

a lazy saturday

i got up late after attending our rocking company christmas party last evening (gloria gaynor performed!), had tea and my favorite fresh sesame bun husband fetched from the bakery. then, i luxuriously read barbara kingsolver's lacuna in bed, bonding with the cat, 'til i fell asleep again. an afternoon walk down by our lake, taking only film photos and then some more tea. inventing a recipe for a veggie lasagne-moussaka, which is simmering in the oven and smells heavenly. on top of it, i have a stack of the delicious new anna maria horner innocent crush line and i'm knee-deep in quilt books, searching for just the thing to do with them.  deciding is difficult. but i do love a lazy saturday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

color october drab

my october photo-a-day project mosaic. it's kind of funny, everyone else's was full of the flaming oranges and golden yellows of autumn, but mine is probably the most drab of all that i've done.   maybe because i had a 4-day flu that left me feeling weak and listless. maybe because most days were cloudy. maybe because the wind was blowing and the leaves didn't stay on the trees. maybe because i dread the encroaching darkness. i really do. or maybe because i feel a bit grey and drab and subdued, held back and held down. well, that's got to change, hasn't it? because it just won't do. maybe the memory of a little color will help my mood...

needing to remember color

talk about getting your wires crossed

if they could be drawn and mapped in any way, the communication lines around me of late would look like this photo. many lines of input, some tangles, some output, a few knots, the odd loop and a whole lot of mess. where to begin untangling and move toward understanding? i'm at a loss. and it's going to get uglier before it gets pretty. where is a moment of perfect clarity when you need one?

iMac, therefore iAm

313:365 floating on air...MacBook Air

have i mentioned that my new MacBook Air finally arrived? i really must thank the norwegian tax authorities for giving me back enough of my money that i could buy this beauty. i can once again hold my head high in the airline lounge.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

stop overthinking and just enjoy

i apparently have theory on the brain...yesterday, cultural capital, today, orientalism.

you may have gathered that i love the philippines. the warmth and genuineness of the people, the food, their creative use of vinegar, the climate, the shopping. i love it all. but in my tendency to overthink and over-analyze, i wonder if i end up, in my deep and abiding affection, in fetishizing a whole nation?

nearly every time i've been to the philippines (and last week was my 17th trip), i have had the opportunity to see a performance like the one depicted here...magically lovely young girls enacting traditional dances from one of the philippines' 7000 islands. hotels almost always have such a show - and i wonder if such shows feed an expected stereotype...a taste of the exotic, served up to hungry tourists.

taal volcano - batangas, philippines
this show, on a friday afternoon, at a lovely hotel overlooking the taal volcano, was performed in a restaurant full of filipinos. looking around, i think myself and my colleagues were the only tourists in the place. which makes me feel a bit less like i'm orientalizing, as i'm sure they hadn't put on the show just for our sake.

maybe sometimes i need to stop over analyzing and just enjoy, because the girls were graceful and lovely and their silhouettes exquisite. and it's undoubtedly perfectly ok to simply enjoy that and not worry too much about it.  when i go back in a couple of weeks, i'll think i'll just sit back and enjoy the show.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

in which she thinks bourdieu was right about cultural capital

i've been pondering social capital in recent days. pierre bourdieu's distinction lays out the theory and i read it a number of years ago when husband was working on his master's. it comes back to me again and again...basically, we are all born with a cultural, social capital at a certain level and it's very hard for us to change that. it shapes who we are and is not easy to escape.

i had occasion to observe someone trying to overcome their social capital in recent days. and it is a painful sight indeed. because cultural capital is a mysterious beast and it's definitely not easily overcome. the efforts involved are superhuman and if they're not, it ends up somehow sad and pathetic. sad to have reached a mature age and not be able to accept who you are. sad to be trying so hard and so strenuously to so little effect.

society is harsh and it has programmed us not to accept people's attempts to rise above their station. despite all that talk of the american dream and being whatever you want to be, there is still a scent of tastelessness over the nouveau riche. so if the person trying to climb up out of their social layer doesn't actually have the benefits money brings, the attempt is all the more unpretty. a set of strange rituals that are awkward and stilted because they're so unnatural.

i ended up with a kind of perversely fascinated revulsion to the sight and although i wanted to have a more anthropological view on it, i will admit that i was quite disgusted at the sight. a mixture of pity and loathing rose in me. unless you have a special talent, without education and sophistication, it's simply not possible to change your cultural capital. isn't it really just better to be content with who you are?

* * *

if you'd like a bit of a diversion from all this cryptic seriousness, why not try to mad men yourself?

Monday, November 08, 2010

oh the joys of travel

whether you mean it to be or not, every journey is a voyage of discovery. often self-discovery. in the wee hours of a long-haul flight, when sleep eludes, or in the quiet moments soaking in a sinfully deep bubble bath in a luxury hotel room, there is time for reflection, time to hear your own thoughts, time that doesn't necessarily appear in the reality of everyday existence.

travel is also jarring...the fact that a few hours on a plane can transport you to a different climate, to a different culture, to the other side of the world...is hard on the body. and the mind. and sometimes it's hard to catch up. but it's mostly amazing. and a privilege. 

travel makes me feel alive. it inspires me. it clears my head and gives me the time to think that i crave. breathing new air, drinking in new experiences, talking to different people, these things feed my soul. make me feel complete. and even when the journey is long and tiring, i find it somehow exhilarating.

traveling to distant shores helps me know who i am.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

everything i needed to know, i learned in the lobby of the manila pen

heaven? or just The Pen?
night in the lobby of The Pen - hipstamatic style

i'm in the heavenly lobby of the manila peninsula hotel, which is perhaps my favorite place on earth. everything seems clearer here, more relaxed and mellow. and it occurs to me everything i ever needed to know, i learned right here...

- white wine is best served in a chilled glass by a cute waiter with a flashing smile.

-  life should be accompanied by a live orchestra.

-  lighting is everything.

-  palm trees totally work indoors.

-  the ceiling can never be too high.

-  true gentlemen hold the door and greet you by name.

-  wireless internet is key.

-  it's good to read the IHT on a daily basis.

-  you can learn a lot (possibly about the US military) listening to other people's conversations.

-  people like to talk about themselves. rather loudly (at times).

- time truly does fly when you're having fun.

-  if you have to stage a coup, choose a really elegant place to do it.

-  travel is key to my existence.

-  being recognized and valued is important.

-  a proper pedicure goes a long way (ok, i may have learned that at the big mall across the street).

-  heaven is indeed a place on earth.

do you have a place that taught you what you need to know in life?

* * *

i got an email yesterday, telling me that i was one of three winners of a photo contest from the viking harbor museum in bork havn. i get a big gift basket and a season ticket to the musem.  and what's even better?
...my zen master elizabeth's husband was one of the other two winners!  yay for us! :-)

here's hoping your week is as awesome as mine!

Monday, November 01, 2010

stories abound

priorities straight - pedicure first, everything else comes second.
already, just being on the road has promoted so many thoughts and topics to blog about that i am practically unable to type because so many ideas want to come tumbling out of my fingers. there's nothing like travel to get your juices flowing...whether you're standing in line at passport control or looking around on a crowded plane or watching the sociology of baggage collection at the belt, there are stories everywhere. stories in the shopping center, at the starbucks, in the lingerie section of a department store, at the salon/spa where they pampered you for three hours, leaving you completely relaxed and with the most gorgeous blue nails.

stories hit you in the face, knock you down, whisper to you, sit beside you and right in front of you, they jump out at you from the pages of a newspaper and drop stuff on your head from the overhead bin, sometimes they curl themselves into such a small ball next to you that you wonder if they're still there at all...stories, stories, wanting to be told.

and since i've been 36 hours without sleep, the stories will have to continue to wait to be told.