Monday, January 31, 2011

ruin porn tourism

one of the few signs of decay i've seen in denmark
i love a good ruin...falling down buildings in decay are so picturesque and evocative. some of my most powerful imaginings have been at ruins...whether it's standing on the plains at troy and almost being able to catch the sounds of battle on the wind or walking along the paved streets of ephesus at midday and imagining john the baptist and paul (misogynist tho' he was) treading there before me or whether it's the old house down on the creek where my father spent his early childhood. ruins evoke memory and emotions and are haunting somehow. and even more haunting if the pictures of them are without people - making the building or place seem that much more abandoned. there is a lot of emotion in such photos of decay.

what does it take for there to be decayed buildings in a landscape? time, for one. the ancient ruins dotting turkey, greece and the balkans, with the odd column sticking up in a field here and there, are just part of the landscape - the history of the place, as the sands of time pass relentlessly over it. on the prairies, it's a sign of the consolidation of all those small family farms into big corporate farms. and there's simply not enough people out there to be living on all of those little homesteads anymore, so some of them fall into picturesque ruin as they bake in the summer sun and are exposed to harsh winters.

somewhere near stickney, south dakota
i miss a good ruin in my daily life. denmark is too prosperous, too middle class, too neat, and perhaps simply too small to allow ruins to stand. one of my favorite exceptions is the old windmill above. but i wonder how long it will be allowed to stand in decay. it's probably violating some or other municipal ordinance in all of its shabby glory.

i feel like i'm hearing an awful lot about detroit lately. it seems it's become the archetype of an american city in decline. famous photographers take haunting peopleless photographs of its once grand buildings in ruin. and those photos are extremely moving. when i see them, it makes me want to go to detroit as a ruin porn tourist.  i recently saw some photos of an abandoned complex near berlin that made me feel the same way. but what are the implications of such voyeuristic practice? being a visitor to a contemporary ruin seems much more somehow violating than visiting ephesus or pergamon or the acropolis. it's so much closer and more raw. many of the buildings in detroit were still in use up to the early 90s, so the wound is quite fresh in a way. and is making a photographic essay of those once glorious buildings, empty of people, doing detroit a disservice?  the new republic thinks so. and so do the people who made this documentary.

what do you think?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

sunday evening happinesses...

small happinesses on a sunday evening...

~ the hum of the dryer tumbling the last load of laundry.

~ putting away the last of the clean dishes.

~ showers and tooth brushings and tuckings in of long-legged 10-year-old girls.

~ the smell of freshly-baked bread still hanging in the air.

~ the knowledge of a shining new week stretching ahead.

~ the good kind of tired that comes from a long walk in the sunny cold with husband in our very own forest.

~ a steaming mug of honey-sweetened milky tea.

~ fresh, clean sheets on all of the beds.

~ signing up for lessons in beekeeping.

~ daily writing and daily photography.

~ eye candy on etsy.

~ inviting some of that eye candy home.

~ this post over on the sustainable life blog.

what's making you happy this sunday evening?

playing around with vintage toys

it seemed that everywhere i turned at the flea market, there were lovely old toys. and no, i didn't buy any, i only photographed them. and i only got yelled at about it once, by an extremely thick and repulsive angry old man. such a jerk. but i got so many great pictures (including the 3rd to last one of HIS little cars), that not even that encounter could spoil the day.

playing knights(?) and indians
wait, isn't that a civil war soldier?
battle in full head dress
is he doing a ceremonial dance in the midst of the battle?
and the birds apparently looked on.
adored these little trucks.
here are the overpriced old cars belonging to the nasty old man who didn't like my camera.
such a charming little truck.
a bit blurry, but i still had to share these sweet little bikes.
it's funny, i adore seeing the old toys, especially painted metal ones, in the antique places, but i've never begun to collect them. i guess i only collect photos and enjoy imagining all of the little hands and little imaginations that have touched them over the years. such memories they hold.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

flea market fancy (no, not the fabric)

husband and i spent the day at a flea market with like-minded friends. bliss, i tell you, bliss. here's just the first round of what we saw...

stacks of beautiful vintage crochet.
husband rather unnecessarily cracked that it was from the time before everyone spent all of their time in front of the internet.
and by everyone, i suspect he means me.
i saw a guy walking away with this, but i don't know what he paid.
from when silverware mattered.
i had this odd grandma moment looking at this. i wanted the whole set.
happily, the same did not happen with these, but i like how they're displayed.
royal copenhagen
a bit of more modern scandinavian goodness.
more tomorrow....happy saturday!

without further ado

i apologize for being a bit later than i said i would be on announcing the winner of the garland giveaway. we went to ikea yesterday and, as you may imagine, wandering slavishly through a ginormous store along the prescribed arrows is exhausting, so once we got home my lovely assistant fell asleep before we could do our drawing.  plus, we ate the crack meatballs and they always let you down hard after the initial high(possibly due to high carb, low meat content). but this morning, we drew a name out of sabin's hat and we are pleased to announce that tracy golightly-garcia is our winner! tracy, i have your address, so i'll be popping the springy garland in the mail to you on monday!  thank you all for participating! we'll be doing this again soon. (the giveaway part, not the ikea part, you can only take that once in awhile.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

overheard on the train

slightly autistic-seeming man to wife in serious need of a good shampoo:

wife going on and on about a friend and husband says, "i think you're tired of one another."

he then proceeds to ask how it was going with the friend's "economic ruin." no way to tell if that was a general comment or a money pit of a house.

then, suddenly, out of the blue, unrelated to anything in the conversation up to that point, wife says, "i think we have a CO2 friendly life."

* * *
"so i had a talk with simon at the end of the day. he admitted it hadn't been a good first month in the IT support job, but said it was ok because he had decided to leave to pursue his passion...(long pause)...birdwatching."
* * *
what have you overheard lately?

* * *

originally posted on the julie project - april 29, 2009

the ship has sailed

bulbous bow

i've been listening to loads of TED talks (they have a way of restoring my faith in humanity, as well as making me think). somehow, i always end up on the tech ones or the ones that are talking about the future of the internet or educating through gaming (those gaming guys have no respect for apple, and they just totally did not see angry birds coming). one thing that i think is in the future of it (but which hasn't been mentioned) is that we'll stop capitalizing it. that's totally unnecessary (of course, i largely dispense with capitals in a general sorta way, so i would think that).

but it has me thinking about the whole social networking thing that is going on in the world today - gmail, facebook, twitter, flickr, instagram - just to name the ones i check in on every morning when i wake up. and that in turn makes me think about content and the emphemeral nature of it. once you put it up for all to see, is it still yours? you have no idea what people are doing with it unless they tell you - desktops, screensavers, tumblr blogs, links on their blogs, advertising for their stallion, advertising for a castle in lithuania - you just never know. and it's the risk you take when you put it out there. that people will see it. and that they'll like it or relate to it. invite it in.

so all of this rabidity among some flickr folks just puzzles me (no new incidents have happened, i've just seen some dire warnings on photos and profiles of late). if you don't want anyone to see your pictures or react to them or relate to them, don't put them online on a site that is designed for exactly that. and just relax a little bit. you have to give something of yourself to get something in return - it's part of the social contract.

just think about music and news and much free content is available today (i spent half my evening on the new york times website). and images are a big part of it. if we're going to share our images, someone's going to appropriate them. what you have to do is something to add value to the sharing...make cards or other photo-related art available on etsy. someone who tumbles your photo on their tumblr blog isn't going to bother to do that with your images. and if they saw it on flickr and liked it, chances are, they might be interested in buying your cards featuring it. good things can come of sharing. 

i think new models of defining intellectual and creative property are on the horizon. i'm not sure exactly what they are, but the outlines are beginning to be there (the apple app store is a hint of what's to come). but the world is overloaded with input, so i think people should just be glad their work is seen (especially on flickr) and if they want to profit from every instance where it's used or linked, find other ways or don't put it there.  the ship has sailed, my friends and we have to decide if we're onboard or not.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

cleaning frenzy

i've reached a point of idea overload. 
there's so much floating in my head that it's very hard to focus. 
so, i'm making a huge batch of clarity birds, 
hoping to encounter some clarity along the way. 

to quiet my mind from all these ideas.
to be able to just work on just a few of them.
and feel it's ok to leave the rest alone for now.

some of them will wait.
and get even better with age.

i just need to get down and DO something.

but first, a cleaning frenzy.
it's what i do.
when i can't do anything else.

* * *
don't forget the garland giveaway. i'll ask my lovely assistant to draw one lucky name tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

happy memories: rearranged design house tour

upstairs living room

some time back, the lovely ana from rearranged design approached me on flickr about featuring our house. of course, the pictures she'd come across on flickr were of our old house. as you know, there's not much worth featuring in this place, unless your site is called "decorating disasters by cheap-ass people" (hmm, that has kind of a ring to it). so for the sake of a stroll down memory lane and because i'm really proud of what we did there, i explained our move to her and she agreed to go ahead and do the house tour featuring the old place. i added a link to my post yesterday, but that doesn't do ana's nice feature justice, so i'm giving it its own space today.

please go and check out our house tour over on rearranged design. and do stay to look around a bit - ana has a good eye for lovely things.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

in which she rants about a bunch of annoying little things

if you're not in the mood for a rant, just look at the pretty sunrise and don't read any farther
i know i've been in an extraordinarily exuberant good mood of late and that it's probably getting on everyone's nerves, here in the dark, cold, grey depths of january. so lest you think it's all sunshine and roses in my life and moreover in my brain, i give you a few annoying things i've been thinking about...

~ WHAT is up with not using the word seamstress? all of the politically-correct supposedly hip sewing sites are referring to women who sew as sewists. why do this when seamstress is already a perfectly good word...laden with history and without negative connotation as far as my native speaker's ear can hear. i don't want to be referred to a sewist. pretentious gits.

~ why do the weirdest things stick in your mind at some stupid moment? case in point: the other day, we had guests and i was boiling water to make both coffee and tea. i made the coffee first and then needed to fill the kettle up for there to be enough water for the teapot. normal me would just top off the kettle from the tap and put it back on. but no, because there's a real brit standing there watching, some obscure warning i once read that you should only make tea by starting off with fresh, cold tap water in the kettle kicks into my head. and to the amazement of everyone watching, i poured out all that hot water and started over. and the brit wasn't even going to DRINK the tea, he was going to drink coffee!! bah!

~ i adore craft books and especially the sewing/quilting ones. today, for her birthday, sabin received the visually gorgeous sewing bits & pieces: 35 projects using fabric scraps by sandi henderson from my mom (mom likes to support our sewing habit). the book is lush and beautiful and thankfully sabin had to go to school, so i could sit down with it. the bright fabrics are just my idea of heaven, but then i got to the picnic quilt. it's a beautiful scalloped design. so far, not annoying, but here it's described as the most laid-back quilt that you can put together in an afternoon - intricately-cut scallop pieces, which you must cut with a scissors, not a rotary wheel and have to iron into a CURVE by making a special cardboard template and wrapping it in aluminum foil. and even then, you're not done, as you have to carefully lay it all out. one illustration even shows a good dozen pins holding one scallop in place. this is not an easy quilt, lady. so why say so? just to show off? because you're so much better than us? bah.

~ i'll probably be in trouble with the entire modern quilting community now for saying that...but seriously, people, someone's got to start saying something. we want need books that have good directions and good advice, and don't talk to down to us, not just pretty photos and showing off how skilled the quilter sewist seamstress writing it is.

~ you cannot use the kettle and the iron in this house at the same time. and even if you turn only one of them on, the lights visibly dim.

~ i hate my kitchen. the door under the sink, which you open frequently, since the trash is there, has a problem with the latch and will not shut properly. the kitchen is pepto-bismol pink and although i bought paint to cover that up, even husband (who has loads of energy and loves to paint) thinks it's not worth the energy to do that painting. and don't even get me started about the stove. one of those ridiculous glass-topped numbers. the only advantage of which is ease of wiping up. otherwise, whoever invented that shit should be taken out back and shot, along with the asshole who bought this one.

~ what the hell are those little "& nspb " things that get inserted into the HTML if you move a block of text from one spot to another? all they do is mess up your spacing!

~ my new obsession with kit lane's fabulous little felted creatures causes me to sit on her etsy shop and hit refresh. and sadly, it's still empty. :-(

* * *

i hope that reassured everyone that i haven't become some ridiculous sap on the verge of homeschooling my now 10-year-old child...i must say that now i'm feeling much better and i'm headed back to the sewing machine.

* * *
and on a totally un-ranty note, please check out the house tour of our wonderful old house over on rearranged design!

double digits

sabin turns 10 today! her father said to her yesterday morning that if there was anything she had wanted to do while she was 9, she'd better get it done. she snorted that little snort she does when she's satisfied with herself. she knew she had done an awful lot while she was 9. and at her age, you just want your birthday to hurry up and come.

my 365 project once again helped me to remember all of the things she did.  it was a busy year and a year of big changes. we moved to a new house and she moved to a new school. the transition was made very smooth by a wonderful teacher and her new class very kindly taking her under their wing. despite that, we still had moments of tears and missing all her old friends and her old class and especially her old riding school - in particular zidan, who was her favorite of the lesson horses (in retrospect, we should just have bought him).

sabin - a year in pictures - part 1

you can see that horses were a big theme this past year (which perhaps reflects more on my obsession with photographing them than her interest, tho' her interest is pretty high). most importantly, in may, she got her own horse, matilde, a large pony of the "breed" they call danish sports pony - which means an elegant mix and not just a shetland. sabin has continued riding lessons at two different riding schools (she rides on wednesdays and fridays) and still uses the lesson horses there, since we don't have a horse trailer (yet).

sabin - a year in pictures - part 2

since we live out in the country, sabin had to have a pet - so we got bunnies when we got back from our summer holiday in the US. we thought they were both girls, but learned (as most people do) that they were a boy and girl. happily that incestuous first batch of baby bunnies were stillborn and now we keep them in separate cages. i really can't believe what nice pets they are - well, aside from that part where they chewed 9 buttons off our of t.v. zapper.

we didn't travel much this year, due to the move, but we spent two weeks visiting family in the US and sabin and i had a wonderful trip to manila together at the end of november. this year will be exciting because it's a tradition in our family that when you turn ten, you get to decide where we go on holiday. sabin had been set on the philippines, but getting to go in november seems to have cooled that desire and now she's pretty set on new york city, tho' i believe her big sisters are working on convincing her that hawaii would be a better bet.

this fall, she started going to spring gymnastics and it's really her sport - she flips and cartwheels her way through the house - never walking normally out of the living room, but flipping over the back of the couch. we're trying to enjoy these waning years of her loving to spend time with her parents for all they're worth, as we know that the teenage years loom large. but for now, she still is at her happiest and most chirpy if she's sewing or in the kitchen with me or dictating the dimensions of a bunny cage to her father out in his workshop. 

i love watching her make her way through the world - jumping in with both feet, being curious and interested in everything around her. happy birthday, pooka.

Monday, January 24, 2011

a few of the things i made today

remember that inspiration i told you about earlier? i could see this wire-y tissue paper butterfly thingie in my mind when i woke up, so i had to make it. you can see some of where i got the idea in my inspiration mosaic below. but i wanted it to be more naive and rough somehow than the ones in the mosaic. i think i succeeded. and in this case, it turned out even better than the picture i had in my head.

then i made a new springy garland for above my desk. this house is so depressing and awful, even the simplest little touches can brighten it up significantly. some bits of a handy little moda hunky dory jelly roll made for a very quick garland indeed. in fact, i made two and i want to give one away! so if you'd like to have a little springy garland for your very own, just leave a comment about how you feed your inspiration.  i'll draw a name at the end of the week and send it to one lucky person!

and lastly, a lilly pulitzer fabric garland for sabin's new room (i got the squares here ages ago). it's not hanging up properly yet, as there is still painting going on. but i think by the end of the week, we will be ready to reveal sabin's new and improved room!

i also painted clouds on the wall, made chicken stock and red velvet cupcakes and even managed to cook a vegetarian meal and completely resist putting in any bacon. and with all that coffee i drank, i expect this creative streak will go on well into the night.

* * *

don't forget the garland giveaway! leave a comment about how you feed your inspiration and you might be the lucky winner of a springy garland to brighten up these grey winter days.

feeding inspiration

you might have noticed i've been feeling rather inspired on the creative front of late. and while i don't know where it's coming from, i am doing all i can to feed it, as i'm desperately afraid it will leave me again. last night, before i went to sleep, i browsed flickr groups i'd long neglected, in search of eye candy and ideas - ideas for sabin's room, which we're redecorating and of course, for more quilts, since i seem to be on a roll with that.

i love to browse flickr on the iPad - as i can easily sit in a comfy chair or in bed and the screen is just a dream. it's pretty much the perfect size for viewing photos and the colors just pop. ok, this isn't an iPad ad, so let's get back to the inspiration. my favorite group for kids' room inspiration is called go to your room and this is what i found there:

feeding inspiration - kids' rooms
inspiration for sabin's room
clouds, garlands, butterflies and hearts, what more could a girl want?  quilts, that's what. and my go-to group for fresh, bright quilt inspiration is fresh modern quilts.

feeding inspiration - quilty goodness
quilty goodness
this practice of feeding inspiration to my brain before i sleep seems to be having a rather magical effect. i've been waking up every day with fully-formed pictures of what i want to do in my head.  i have to keep my iPhone and/or a notebook by the bedside, so i can scribble them down upon awaking, so as not to lose any of the ideas. it seems that my brain takes the images and synthesizes them into something that's my own. and, it gives me an energy buzz that means i can't wait to get out of bed and get stuck in.

the beauty is that my fabulous bloggy friends send me inspiration/temptations (camera porn, remodeling, weaving, maps) all the time as well, so i don't even have to find all of the beautiful things out there by myself. (a big thank you for that, even if it is, at times, hard on our bank account (ahem, kristina, i currently have the high bid on TWO lots of cameras, thanks to you, tho' there's still a lot of time left).)

what do you do to feed your inspiration, ephemeral beast that it is?

* * *

p.s. click on the mosaics to take you to my flickr, where there are links to all of the original posts!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

take the blood of one pomegranate

a moment in the kitchen to make a mother proud. sabin was preparing a salad and cut into a juicy, garnet pomegranate. instead of continuing to make the salad, she said, "mom, i'm getting the camera." and she proceeded to take 186 (not even an exaggeration) pictures of pomegranate graffiti on the cutting board. 

it seems that one has more influence on forming the child than one thinks.

but guess who ended up making the salad...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

a perfect day

think about it for a moment...what would your perfect day look like?

what would the texture of it be?

would you zero in on one perfect, shining moment?

or would you breathe in the whole of it?

or would it be an entire landscape of perfection...
every moment as beautiful as the moment before it and the one after.

and would you remember to savor it, every bit of it?

Friday, January 21, 2011

great grandma's quilts

i shared a few of the quilts i brought home from the states last summer, but i realized i hadn't shared them all. since i'm quilting away myself these days, i thought i'd share some more of the beautiful work done by my grandmother and great-grandmother. gorgeous, handmade, hand sewn quilts and quilt tops. once the house is in a better state, i hope to get a big quilt frame and hand quilt at least one of them myself, but until then, i just enjoy the photos of them and keep them tucked away, safe from moisture and mice.  at least i hope they're safe from mice, i fear i heard a telltale scratching in the wall the other day, but such is life on the farm.
mom's cat - millie - on a crazy quilt mom acquired at an auction.
it's not deemed a family heirloom (from our family at least), hence the status as cat bed.
currently, my cat is sleeping on it at my feet under my desk.

i think the blocks were done my great grandmother on this one.
but i suspect the green and white edging and quilting were done later.
hand quilted and beautiful!
an enormous amount of crochet - my grandmother made this one.
i remember her working on it and how beautiful her bedroom looked.
this one's quite worn and faded - but beautiful that it must have been used!
i remember using this one in my childhood. it could use a new binding.
tho' with my relationship to binding, i'm unlikely to replace it.
the most spectacular quilt top - a spider quilt - completely hand-sewn.
believe it or not, i let my sister have this one.
she can have it hand quilted in kalona by the amish ladies.
detail of the spiderweb quilt.
bright and cheery quilt top.
i believe it's a combination of old and new fabrics.
it's these mom remembers her grandmother making while she was bedridden.
another of the quilt tops - this one's in great shape, no holes anywhere.

detail of the hand sewing! so precise and beautiful
one last quilt top - also in beautiful condition.
i guess these quilts indicate that i come by my love of bright fabric and quilting honestly. i'm just the latest in a long line of quilters. i have mused a little bit about this previously, when my mom sent me one of the tops.