Friday, April 29, 2011

my thoughts on the royal wedding (because everyone has some)

i hate for my 1500th post to be about the royal wedding, but what else was there of late (tho' technically this is 1493, because i have 7 drafts lurking)? just that ridiculousness with donald trump and the whole birth certificate fiasco (seriously, why does obama bow to these people (ok, stuff of another post)?) who the fuck (yes, i wrote the f-word) CARES what a man with hair like a hat gone wrong at the royal wedding thinks about anything?

and as for other things that people may not care about, here are my thoughts on the royal wedding...

~ it was about the hats. and the hats were both spectacular and questionable. and some were arguably not hats. and why wasn't david cameron's wife wearing one? she kinda looked like she had come straight from work (tho' i have no idea where she works). i don't know which was princess beatrice and which is eugenie, but their hats were among the most memorable - along with that woman in electric blue (a lot of people were talking about her nose, but i didn't get the reference - was she some reality show person?).

~ the trees in westminster abbey were fabulous.

~ there was a decidedly relaxed atmosphere - prince william wandered in, talked to a few people and then ducked "backstage." he seemed quite at ease. and a little bit bald for his young age.

~ i was a little surprised that the dress wasn't a bit more "wow." it was beautiful, but it wasn't wow. in fact, it was so lacking in wow that i was a little surprised it didn't promote comments on kate's name (middleton is after all suggestive of...well...the middle or average). at least not in the coverage i watched (BBC Entertainment, who probably wouldn't dare).

~ the queen looked great in lemon-cream yellow. for a dinosaur.

~ the couple scarcely looked at each other during the ceremony. i found that a little weird.

~ those kisses may as well have been pecks on the cheek. is this british reserve or is it just me?

~ love the little girl covering her ears and frowning at their side during the kiss. tho' that photo will haunt her forever.

~ what was up with that tiny bouquet?

~ why did the BBC cameramen keep cutting to elton john and posh & becks during the ceremony? who cares what their reaction was?

~ there were a whole lot of allusions to having children during the ceremony. these commoner princesses are really just well-dressed broodmares (oops, that was out loud, wasn't it? - but seriously marie-chantal of greece has 5 and our own australian princess here in denmark just popped out 3 & 4 in one go). it was clear that the same is expected of kate (who we are apparently supposed to call catherine now, tho' she oddly didn't get a princess title - the danes are apparently less stingy with those).

~ i sewed up my plus quilt during the coverage, so i guess it's now the will plus kate quilt. :-) (sorry, i couldn't resist.)

hope you all enjoyed the wedding - to the degree you wanted to. i have to admit (despite all i've said), that i quite enjoyed it as well, tho' i do wish rowan atkinson (as that priest he played in four weddings & a funeral) would have performed the ceremony. that would have made my day.

promoting brain growth

sometimes all you need is another way of looking at the world.

each in turn

cherry blossoms carpet the ground.

daffodils wither.

and begin to fade.

but new plants unfurl.


stretching their primordial stems to the sun.

time marches on in one continuous line.
and we can't do anything about it.
*  *  *
if you'd like to win a fabulous bread book, go here.
and if you want to see how my violet jelly turned out, go here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

treehouse update

much was done on the treehouse during the gorgeous weather we had at easter, but it's not finished. you can't rush these things, you know. here are some shots from monday evening. a little bit more has been done in the meantime, but the light was so beautiful and golden, i just had to share these shots...

sabin was up helping her father put a coat of outdoor paint on the boards of the roof. on top of that will be a layer of plastic and then some metal roofing that we're reusing.

husband calls this style of a rough board on a board "kalmar brædder" and i have absolutely no idea what that's called in english, but i love the rustic look it gives. there are even a few bits of bark here and there - perfect for a treehouse. the chicken house and my garden house will be built the same way (with all that wood we bought a month or so ago).

husband very determinedly (and with safety-minded protective glasses and hearing protection) cutting the metal roofing with his angle grinder. since the trees are alive, he has to do some fussy fitting around that tree trunk.

the view of the back - there will be a window in the middle and on the upper right (as we look at it), since the tree is rather in the way of finishing that bit with the wooden siding. we're hoping to find some old windows to reuse in it - possibly at our local recycling center.

husband claims this is proof that he IS superman, since he bent a hammer! sabin and i suspect it's proof of shoddy hammer workmanship...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

cooking a life

cross-processed fuji sensia 400
when we moved my friend michelle sent me a little book that she picked up at her local library sale - it's a slim volume and well-loved in appearance by all of the hands it passed through. it's a pleasure just to hold it and think about all of those who held it before me and ponder the durability of words for a moment. all of those words, waiting there for so many people to read them, resting comfortably in themselves, sure of who they are. what a profound thing.  i'm not sure why i didn't read it at the time, but i was in such a haze with all of the changes going on that i didn't even remember to email her and thank her (i did eventually, don't worry). or maybe it's just that the right time to read it hadn't yet come.

the book is called instructions to the cook: a zen master's lessons in living a life that matters by bernard glassman and rick fields. and it's not really about cooking at all, but about living. i'm not normally a big fan of the platitude-ridden self-help book, but this one is different. it's not so in-your-face, it's more subtle. more storytelling without being preachy or full of obvious and overly-positive mantras.

they talk a lot in the book about the importance of the daily practice of meditation. and i think about how sometimes all of those voices in my head seem so LOUD. and how i wish they weren't obsessively counting (seriously, i find i'm at 78, 79, 80, before i even notice i'm doing it - does this happen to anyone else?). well, i tried to meditate and i cannot make it work. i can't sit still, i can't stop wiggling and i most definitely can't clear my head and think of nothing (and their instructions to count slowly to 10 just do not help with that whole counting thing). the only place i can come close to meditation is at the sewing machine and sometimes in painting stones. but maybe that's ok.

but i love the notion that we cook a life...the metaphor somehow captures what happens...combing various ingredients (people, places, experiences) into a life well lived. and considering that some of my most content moments occur when i'm in the kitchen, cooking a life is an appealing notion.

so now, i wonder what's for dinner.

things i don't get...

there are many things i don't understand, but i thought maybe throwing out a list of the ones vying for attention in my head at the moment might help turn off the obsessive counting thing that's also going on in my head (what is that about?). the sun has shined for ten days straight in denmark without that ever having happened previously in the nearly 13 years i've been here.

...why they say global warming is a bad thing (see above).

...why the victoria & albert fabrics weren't hotter than they were.

...sherbet pips mania (even as i admit, i fell for it too (can you say charm packs?)).

...photoshop textures (there should be a law against using too many at once).

...the popularity of said photos on flickr.

...what it is that makes a photo popular on flickr.

...why we don't regularly wear hats.


...why they stopped making boston legal.

...why the people in this house are completely unable to return the kitchen shears to their rightful drawer.

...the incomprehensible vanity of pretentious "poets." (wish i dared to provide a link.)

...why both the mailwoman and the garbage man skipped us yesterday. i managed to take about 50 photos in bright sunlight at 3200 ISO.

getting all that out should help the counting somewhat.

*  *  *

this is very clever.
and this is making me long to go to istanbul.

and here's what the new blogger dashboard looks like:

i hope it comes  to all of you very soon, i love it! tho' the new compose space is a bit more word doc-like and thus slightly intimidating in all of its space, but i'm already getting used to it. and i do wish the labels would pop up with suggestions from your previous labels, like it did in old blogger (i'm still hoping they fix that). there's also that thing that it's back to publishing posts at the time you began them, rather than the time you hit "publish," which is a throw-back to way, way old blogger. i'm also hoping they fix that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

nobody without my stuff

25/4.2011 - exhausted by all the sunshine

i heard about a study today about consumerism and identity and how so much of who we are today is defined by what we buy. even if you decide you're not going to buy stuff, you're just building another identity and it's still about you as a (non)consumer. how can we get away from consuming and just be?

it's dizzying when you start to think about it. when i put organic milk in my basket or sew with organic fabric or drink fair trade coffee, i'm signaling my identity. our car, my bike, my camera, my computer (definitely), my phone - all send signals of who i am. it frightens me a little bit to think that i might not even know who i was without my stuff.

ready, steady, go...

there are lot of steps along the way...
but i will keep my eye on the prize...
energized by all that sunshine. and ready to channel the energy in the right direction. and i won't even say wish me luck, because i don't need luck when i have everything it takes right here.

Monday, April 25, 2011

dear universe, are you listening?

24/4.2011 - violets
more about these violets in the near future.

in the interest of revisiting my mantra that writing is the new praying, i hereby want...

~ to write for a living (this is the prayer, the rest is just a list (except perhaps the one about birch pollen)).

~ to make magical meals all week from only what's in the refrigerator and the cupboard.

~ to make a quilt of fabric i hand print myself.

~ to bake bread using a sourdough starter that i've been feeding for over a week.

~ to stop being allergic to birch pollen.

~ more sunny, beautiful days in the garden like today.

~ not to operate the tiller ever again (it's pure luck that i wasn't sucked into it and hacked to bits).

~ to design flags.

~ to see the hedgehog again.

~ another horse.

~ flowers from the garden in the house all summer long.

~ a good night's sleep.

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does anyone else love the new blogger dashboard?
so cool and hip!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

things that matter

another glorious day in the garden.

my heart is strangely full.

and a little tearful.

maybe because a friend came for dinner.

and we walked the property.

and she said, "i so get it."

why does it matter that someone gets it?

when all that should really matter is that we get it?

but it does matter.

and we do get it.

a leisurely dinner in the garden.

at the grill table.

grilling veggies and a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin.

that matters.

and a treehouse for a ten-year-old.

built by her father.

to catch the best afternoon light in the garden.

that matters.

and a hedgehog.

that calls our garden home.

and lets us pick it up.

that matters.

it's what life is really about.

and it matters.

spring has sprung

i hate to keep going on and on about the gloriousness of the weather, but it is, well, glorious. and it's never been this good ever before, definitely not for so many days in a row. at least not since i arrived in denmark in 1998. so i've waited more than a dozen years for weather this good. so yes, i'm probably going to go on and on about it.

with little religiousness left in easter in denmark - it's really about the easter beer and having a whole lot of days off (from thursday through monday), as near as i can tell - i feel pulled back to the pagan traditions on which it was founded. a deep desire to celebrate spring, to wake up from the slumber of winter and to exalt in the buds opening and the trees leafing out and the world beginning to grow again. i feel that desire as i plant strawberries and as i watch the tulips open (at least two weeks ahead of last year, i can see in consulting my iPhoto library).

there are flowers everywhere in the garden and i had to bring a few inside. maybe it's only possible to appreciate such glorious weather when most of the time it's grey and dreary. perhaps it really is true that you have to take the good with the bad, otherwise, you don't really know that the good is good. right?

i think i'll go google pagan spring rituals...perhaps we should dance around a pole or the meantime, happy easter one and all!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

an analog day

we declared friday an analog day at our house. no internet. no television. no digital cameras. no iPad, no computer, no Wii, no iPods and phones could only be answered, but otherwise not used for surfing the 'net, checking mail or playing. not even angry birds. sabin tried to say that her father couldn't even use his tools, but we pointed out that electric was different than electronic and we still wanted him to build stuff. the wood chipper was also allowed, as was the lawn mower. the children were all horrified, but they actually got through it quite well. sabin was tired after her big sisters left and almost had a meltdown due to lack of disney channel, but it was a momentary thing.

check out what i managed to do when i wasn't spending any time in front of the computer.

~ barry manilow's copacabana went through my head pretty much the entire morning, only to be replaced by rupert holmes pina colada song at some point. i guess i had tropical thoughts on the brain. not listening to an iPod was a bit much and perhaps music should have been allowed, but today was about leaving all of the devices alone.

~ i sat in the garden and drank my morning tea and read 3 in-depth articles in weekend avisen - one on how judas was unjustly scapegoated in the new testament, one on fingerprints and how they're not as reliable as previously thought and one about the intellectual power of india.

~ i made two kinds of stuffed bread - one with red pesto, bacon, goat cheese, parsley, egg and prima donna cheese and one with green pesto, bacon, roasted potatoes, mozarella, egg and prima donna cheese. both were equally loved by those who had them for lunch along with some smoked shrimp we bought in a fish market on the west coast.

~ i made the most perfect batch of aioli i've ever made and although my impulse was to jump online to find a recipe (i had actually turned off our router, so i couldn't just jump online unthinkingly), instead i turned to my cookbooks and found a great recipe (that also turned out perfectly) in hugh fearnley-wittingstall's river cottage every day. i highly recommend that cookbook, by the way. it's one of those you return to again and again, for simple, honest, seasonal fare.

new feather stones - inspiration was a feather-like bit of shell i found on the beach.
~ i sat outdoors and painted half a dozen stones without any interference from online inspiration.

~ i did four loads of laundry and hung them all out to dry in the sunshine and fresh air. and i'm trying to deal with the fact that my towels are now all crispy and resist throwing them in the dryer for 20 minutes to fluff them up. it's like a loofah, right?

~ finished a roll of kodak portra 400NC and started a new roll of fujichrome 100 in the pentax ME super that kristina gave me last fall.

~ planted a new strawberry bed (yes, more strawberries).

~ laid on a quilt on the lawn and read more of weekend avisen - an article on modern church art.

~ sneezed about 600 times, despite taking zyrtec, because it's birch pollen season.

~ worked with sabin and matilde for about an hour. matilde is slowly getting in shape after not being ridden all winter and today she was calm and didn't need to be lunged for ages before sabin got on.

~ i sat down and really looked through public bookstore, a lovely book produced by tim + tara thayer last year, and of which a couple of my photos are a part. i've had the book for ages and skimmed it when i initially received it, but it was first today that i sat down and REALLY looked at it properly. you can buy a copy of it here. it's well-edited and has a wide variety of thought-provoking work in it. i feel very proud to have been a part of the project.

~ made a beautiful big pitcher of lemonade using freshly-squeezed lemons (4) and 450 grams of honey from our beekeeping mentor (speaking of the bees, we've got the two bee "stalls" now and will get our bee familes next week!).

without being distracted by pinterest and facebook and the blogosphere in general, i found that i was more mindful of what i was doing. and it felt like time stretched out in a good way. it felt like there was enough time for everything i wanted to enjoy. this won't be the last of the analog days. tho' i'll admit they're much easier when the sun is shining and you want to be outdoors anyway.

oh, and the kids?  they played cards, they rode their bicycles, they went on a treasure hunt, and they had quality time with the bunnies. it was good for all of us.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

gone to the beach

it's the easter holiday. we're having the best weather that has ever been in the history of denmark. since weather was recorded. and possibly even since time began. it's clear, sunny, in the lower 70s, no wind, the grass is green, the daffodils are in bloom. and we're taking a little trip to the beach. so i leave you with a few more shots from our jacabob photoshoot...that way even if the weather isn't perfect where you are, i can at least leave you with a smile...

gertie, elwold, gilda and hubert





perdy the pirate
if this weather continues, it may be a couple of days before i'm back. it seems a shame to spend any time in front of a computer when it's a holiday and the weather is this great. 

happy easter and happy spring!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

iZone flashback

remember those little polaroid iZone cameras that were around in the early naughties? we had one (i can't find it for the life of me and i fear it got thrown out) and i took quite a lot of photos of sabin with it when she was very little. i ran across those photos the other day and scanned them. and since it's the most perfect, glorious, sunshiney day outside, i thought i'd share them here instead of writing something of real substance.

from 2001
from 2001
from 2002
i found a couple of packets of really old film for the iZone, but not the iZone camera itself...hmm, maybe i'll go check in a couple more boxes. there's really no fun like polaroid fun. and wasn't sabin just precious?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

jacabob sightings in the garden

nudiped habitat
our sweet little nudiped arrived today, another of the felted marvels (to which we may or may not be addicted) by kit lane.  he took his sweet time getting here, being passed up by nelson, elwold and perdy, all of whom were adopted after him. we realized he took the slow route because he's a bit shy and perhaps just a little tad chubby. as soon as he could, he escaped up to a little perch on the new treehouse out in the garden. he wanted to get the lay of the land, and to catch a few rays of sunshine. i assure you he's far less crotchety than he looks. he's actually quite sweet, once he gets over his shyness.

a couple of days ago, sabin encouraged me to ask kit if there would be any easter jacabunnies. we got an answer from her that a couple of little bitty peep-colored bunnies were going to find their way into the shop in the near future. so sabin created a pair of glasses with which to stalk check kit's etsy shop at regular intervals. we wanted to be ready when the new bunnies were listed - since we'd decided it didn't do at all to have 13 (why, you can't set a proper table for 13, whoever sits on the corner will never marry, it's a well known fact).  we'll suffice it to say that the shop stalking glasses (which were modified at one point to include a magic wand) were very effective.

if you know about jacabunnies, you know that their arch enemies are the barn kitties. we're not entirely sure why that is, as we've had several jacabunny-barn kitty encounters around here and never had any trouble. maybe it was because the jacabunnies decided to lie very still when woody approached. but look at him, doesn't he look totally innocent? he wouldn't hurt a jacabunny. he just wondered if they had any snacks.

and speaking of bunnies, samba wasn't entirely thrilled with his encounter with his namesake. but maybe that's because he was rather unceremoniously held up in the air underneath the clothesline.

lastly, down at the bottom of the garden, there was a very rare sighting of a whole herd (or is it a gaggle or a flock?) of jacabunnies.

rarely are so many seen together in one spot in their natural habitat.

it was a very fortunate day indeed in the land of jacabunnies.

if you'd like one of your own, you'll have to stalk check kit's shop regularly too.  we're going to try to stop. for awhile at least. to give someone else a chance.

what is work?

all shall be illuminated...
sabin asked me this morning, "why don't you have a real work, mom?" and it really made me stop for a second and hold my breath. in her eyes, what constitutes a job is going to an office every day. what did i do to make that be her concept of what work is? she's growing up in a world where the concept of work is changing. work can be done online, from anywhere. your employer can be in another country or halfway across the world.  a lot more is being done on a freelance basis these days. so how do i explain that although i'm not going to an office on a daily basis, i am working? how to explain that today's work is a more ephemeral thing, with not much concrete to show for it at the end of the day? we're living in a so-called knowledge economy and very few of us actually MAKE things anymore in our daily work.

i think it's what attracts me to sewing and felting and crafting in general. i think we, as humans, WANT there to be something to show for what we've done at the end of the day. something other than an outbox full of emails, or another report. we want something in our hands that we can touch and see and show, as a physical object, to others. to leave a mark, for there to BE something there when we're finished. we want, in short, a less ephemeral existence (ironic, i know, as i'm putting these words out into the ether that is the internet).

i have this feeling that work is changing. and that it will be something completely different for sabin when she grows up. but i clearly have some way to go in preparing her for that. it will be interesting, because i'm not even sure myself what's next for me. i have these vague images of it and i'm working on making those more concrete, but i can't myself see where it will all end up.  so in the meantime, i leave words behind and i sew. and i hope that's enough.

*  *  *

if you'd like to read some beautiful thoughts about what's next, go here.

and if you're pondering the really big questions in life: big cartel or etsy? go here.

or if you'd like to read about our new adventures in beekeeping, go here.