Thursday, June 30, 2011

time to clear my head

i'm thinking about...

30/6.2011 a girl and a horse much i adore this photograph that i took today. it's one of my favorites in a very long time. many hours i've wasted that i'll never have back.

...totally changing around the living room.

...painting the inside of some drawers a surprising color. lulled we were into thinking there was real summer on the horizon, only to be (cold)snapped back to danish summer reality.

...a sewing/design problem.

...really being a vegetarian.

...the different reactions stress causes - sleeplessness, excessive counting, a sore jaw, curtness, snapping at loved ones, unarticulated and unarticulatable anger, cleaning frenzies (i could go on, but i'll stop here, since it begins to look like i'm in need of stress treatment). badly the garden needs weeding.

...reseeding some of the things that didn't seem to come up and whether it's too late for that.

...what a great week sabin has had with her friend maria. much i love the design (of the front page, not the little scrolly bits in the actual page windows) and (dare i say it) the down-to-earthness of GOOP. unintelligent chickens seem to be (standing on top of each other up on a little ledge where they're not meant to be, but apparently desire very greatly to be). on earth this can be true.  and is sarah palin shitting her pants now that bachmann is taking her flaky inarticulate freak for president role?

...whether i can apply for asylum in denmark if this lunatic beats obama (thankfully it's early days, so this may not be necessary). i know i read and really liked jonathan franzen's the corrections, but i'm reading it again and find i have little or no recollection of it and am a bit mystified by the passages which i underlined on the first reading. i must have been someone else then. much of a bust today really was. and how i'll never have it back.

...if i get a good night's sleep, tomorrow will be a fresh new day and i can begin again.

thankful thursday

 thankful for...
 modern equine medicine
 and alternative medicine
 massage and chiropractic treatments
that make the old horse seem like a new one.

for more thursday thankfulness, go see miss buckle.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

inner prudish american alive and well

28/6.2011 - a day at the beach

it was a glorious afternoon on the beach. much better than legoland. no one was wearing any shoes at all. and sand feels gloriously wonderful on your feet. the only unpleasantness encountered was my own inner prudish american, who i was surprised to find was still there (after 12 years) and in apparent robust health. she was suitably shocked by the sight of a 60 (possibly 70)-something german woman with more than a slight mustache sunbathing topless on the beach.

i know, i know, i'm in europe, it's not unusual here. and really, after 12 years, shouldn't i stop being shocked by such things? on one hand, i really wanted to admire her and her body confidence and on the other, well, eww.... sometimes, as a member of a civil society, you have to participate in societal norms and being properly clothed in public is frankly one of those. especially if your bits are hanging down to your waist. real life is not an issue of national geographic.

but speaking of that, i do wish i'd dared to sneak a photo, if only to subject all of you to what i was subjected to...but i guess i'll have to leave it to your imagination. and honestly, we should all be thankful for that. the picture in my head is haunting enough.

am i just a prude, or is it a bit ew?

in search of cool water

27/6.2011 - making a splash at legoland

they say it's gonna be a scorcher today (28°C = 82°F). that's pretty much as hot as it gets around here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

a supposedly fun thing...

the first truly sunny day of the summer. and the first day of the first week of summer vacation from school.  so we found ourselves in legoland.  along with half the population of norway. the whiniest, cryingest (is that a word?) half of the population of norway.

and i sat on the ground in a shady spot and photographed feet, as i am wont to do, and i people-watched. and i realized that not very many of the people at legoland on this beautiful day appeared to be having that much fun. there wasn't much laughter and hardly any smiles. just a lot of aggressively perfect scandinavian families, grimly giving their children the obligatory legoland experience.

legoland is actually lovely - the gardens and the plantings and the flowers are fantastic and i love miniland, with its replica of nyhavn and amsterdam and an airbus A380 best of all. but people didn't appear to be enjoying it all that much. i didn't really see anyone stopping to look at the flowers. they were too busy quieting crying children and slathering sunscreen on red shoulders and noses. too busy schlepping their coolers from one ride to another. too busy paying $6.70 for a cotton candy.

i overheard a lot of complaints about the queues. and really, the queues weren't THAT bad. but it all seemed to be stressing people out - all of the FUN that surrounded them. the weight of their expectations that they should be having a GOOD time. and the gnawing realization that they really weren't, despite how much they'd paid to do so.

and the stress was infectious. by the end of the day, i was ready to scream myself. and when some stupid old man attending the gate made some sarcastic tut-tut noise at me as i tried to exit through an entrance (that looked the same as the exit unless you happened to be staring up), i almost slapped him. why couldn't he just kindly point me to the exit, why be sarcastic? 

why do we do these things if we don't enjoy them? who has us thinking it's expected? we live in this culture where everything is expected to be An Experience. and yet we're left unfulfilled by these experiences. and unable to admit that something that's supposed to be fun really isn't all that fun after all.

but the biggest question of all is, why don't people wear comfortable, cool shoes on a hot summer day?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

into the woods

we went for a walk down in our forest today.
it's a bit swampy in spots.
but mostly, it's deeply quiet.
alive and primeval in its silence.
and oh so very green.
i have this sense that it is enormously patient.
it has been here for years
and will continue long after we're gone.
there's something magical about that.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

what are you gonna remember?

as i said earlier, the lazy days of summer have begun. i have this melancholy sense that this is the last summer that sabin will truly play. she's a real tween now, but has enough of the child still in her to run and swing and do cartwheels across the yard. i so don't want to see that go.

she has a friend here from her old school where we used to live. they're having a great time together and i haven't heard a word of irritation between them (tho' it's early in their week together).

i suspect that she will remember these golden summer days...of getting to go down to the creek unsupervised with air mattresses and float downstream. of synchronized cartwheels across the lawn. of chasing chickens and trying to shoo them into their new enclosure. of watching YouTube on the iPad while snuggled up together in a nest of blankets and pillows that only two ten-year-olds can make. eating æggesnaps (egg yolk and sugar stirred into creamy, decadent smoothness). staying up late and giggling. getting a driver's license at legoland. spending the day at the beach. teaching bunnies to jump. the smell of freshly-mown hay. picking wildflower bouquets.

all of these things still done with childlike abandon.  no worries, no cares, just being in the moment.

there's a lot i could learn from that.

the lazy days of summer

ahh, the summer holiday is here at last. friday was the last day of school, so now we settle in for staying up late, getting up late, relaxing,  some good food on the grill, days at the beach, a bit of floating down the creek on an air mattress. and a good book and the occasional glass of wine. i'm not entirely sure how this is different than most days, but we're already enjoying it. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

etsy: no longer where the cool kids are

new etsy banner

i'm hearing more and more grumbling about etsy. i read an article not long ago, comparing it to a flea market, whereas big cartel is like a little boutique or a gallery (admittedly, the article was written by big cartel, but frankly, they're right). and then i read this over on afiori (go, read it now, i'll wait....). and it seemed like the last straw to me.

when the items i have on etsy already sell or if they expire, i'm not relisting them. i'm moving everything to big cartel. they take only a flat fee per month and not a fee per listing or a percentage of your sales. yes, you have to do more promotion of your shop yourself, but with etsy, we have to do that anyway. it's not as if we actually get much benefit out of being there, especially in light of recent (and unpublicized) changes.

i liked the circles thing at first, but now i find that it has turned up the volume on etsy to the point where i actually avoid it because it's too much.

for awhile now, i've felt lost in the crowd and the crowd is of increasingly shoddy quality with all of the supposed "vintage" stuff that's there. i don't like the way they ignore cases of clear copycats. i don't like the way they shut down conversations in the forums with chirpy "let's all get along" BS responses. and don't even get me started on their lame tweets. but mostly, i don't like they way they ignore their customers. and i really don't like what i read on afiori about their latest "improvements." (giving you another chance to go read it).

maybe what would make those greedy wanna-be mark zuckerberg new yorkers behind etsy listen is if we all did start leaving in droves. lilfish, whom i respect immensely, already did and i'm not far behind. why don't we all sell our handmade wares, made with integrity in a forum that also has integrity. i don't think etsy can say that anymore.

that said, i just activated a free shipping special on everything that's left in my etsy shop - since i've already paid to have the items there, i may as well take advantage of that - so if you had your eye on anything and my rather high danish shipping costs were stopping you, make haste to my shop, it won't be there for long!!

i am a cat person

no explanation. just a simple fact.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

irrigating my joy

21/6.2011 - solstice strawberries

a couchsurfing couple from the canary islands who will be biking to our house on july 1 (that's quite a trip!) sent me a message yesterday. at the end, they thanked me for irrigating their joy. and i fell in love with the phrase and decided it's going to be my theme for the summer. any activity that doesn't irrigate my joy will have to go.

here's how i intend to irrigate my joy:

~ writing
~ taking photos
~ spending time with sabin and her horse
~ working in the garden
~ processing the garden bounty
~ sewing
~ making things
~ meeting and talking to new people
~ long, laughter-filled evenings with friends and good food
~ getting involved somehow in my local area
~ follow through on a few of the balls currently in the air

and i'm looking very much forward to meeting these enthusiastic people who came up with such a phase.

what will you do to irrigate your joy?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

reflections on the lake

last evening - reflections on the lake
why is that having a view is so important to us as humans?  there was a time, not all that long ago, when it wasn't. here in denmark, the older houses along the harsh west coast have small windows and you can see that people weren't concerned about seeing the sea. they were more concerned about keeping out the wind and the sand. in the laura ingalls wilder books, there's only one passage about how pa got a real glass window for one of the houses on the prairie and it was a tiny one. there was a time when people living along canals and rivers did their best not to see all that dirty water and waste flowing by and those living closest to it were the poorest. today, the most expensive properties brag about their view and their proximity to water. when did our view on having a view change? is it the fault of creative real estate agents? or do we as humans crave the horizon as our horizons have expanded?

we've noticed since moving out to the countryside that our neighbors who have lived here for 40 years have what to us is a curious lack of a seating area outside. if the weather is good enough (and sometimes even if it isn't), we eat outdoors. our neighbor is likely to be mowing his extensive lawn during those early evening hours when we're trying to enjoy a meal outside. but we want him to sell us his barn and a bit of land at the back of it eventually, so we don't complain. we've realized it's just a different view on what activities happen outdoors. to our neighbors, long-time farmers, outdoors is where you work and in the house is where you relax. we work indoors all day and so we want to go outdoors to relax.

we move our table all around the lawn, taking advantage of spots of sunshine (or shade) and wind directions (if we're grilling). and tho' the view of our lake isn't from the table in the garden, it's important to us that it's there. we are drawn to it and seek it out, most often in the evening, during the golden hour when the sun is sinking in the sky. an amble down to the end of the pasture to spend a few moments gazing at the lake in the quiet of the evening makes us feel restful and relaxed. the view is important to our mental well-being. 

i think as our work has taken us farther from nature, we naturally are drawn to it in other ways, so we have larger windows on our homes and we move many domestic activities - like eating - outdoors when weather permits. i surely hope it's not just the manipulation of conniving real estate agents.

Monday, June 20, 2011

modern equine methods

we moved our horse matilde a couple of weeks ago from the neighbor's place to one of the stables where sabin is taking riding lessons. she had developed a strange habit of carrying her head up and her neck in a very uncomfortable position and we wanted to be able to ride her more consistently (in an indoor arena) and we wanted others to be around to help out.

we knew this behavior wasn't normal for matilde. while frisky, she has been a lovely pony with a good way of carrying her head. a friend suggested when it began to get really bad that we have her teeth checked, so we did that. the vet came out with his big tooth-grinding machine and floated her teeth, tho' he did say he didn't think they were too bad. around here, people often get their horses' teeth floated once a year.

as you can see from the photos, things didn't really improve after the teeth were worked on. we began to wonder if her saddle was bothering her and in lieu of an expensive new saddle, we got a gel pad to place underneath and raise the saddle into a better position. sabin liked it better, but i'm not sure if matilde really noticed and she continued off the bit and with her head up in the air, making it difficult for sabin to control her and have a decent lesson on her. tho' sabin is admirably brave and doesn't get scared or thrown off.

a horse massage woman was coming to tend to some of the other horses at the stable (the advantage of being at a stable) and an appointment came available, so i decided we'd try it. matilde was visibly distressed by the massage on her right side (we'd already noticed she didn't like going to the right in the arena and on the lunge line) - stamping her foot and wiggling around, trying to mash the massage woman up against the wall. and the massage therapist suggested that we call the equine chiropractor.

it crossed my mind that the massage woman (who is a bit of a snob and was rather disdainful towards us and everyone else whose horses she treated) and the chiropractor were in league, but i could see that the horse was blocked on her right side - hardly wanting to turn her neck in that direction at all and so i swallowed my own preconceived notions about chiropractors (often people who couldn't manage to get into real medical school and not coming near my spine!) and called her. she was able to come already the next day.

meeting her, i was immediately put at ease. she was an actual veterinarian, specializing in chiropractic treatments, acupuncture and in floating teeth (will have her do it next time). matilde took to her immediately, looking curious and interested in her and was very much at ease and trusting of her (unlike how she was with the massage therapist). the chiropractor gently felt matilde's neck, did some gentle manipulations and stood up on a block to crack the top vertebrae - so gently that neither matilde nor i even noticed. but matilde was instantly relieved!

we got some exercises to do with matilde's neck and she's on the road to recovery. while it's not completely better yet - we have to retrain her neck muscles, after she was holding it wrong for months (we didn't realize!) - she's definitely better already.  she needs another massage or two, now that the bones are back in place. but things are going in the right direction and already the first time we rode her after the treatment, she was a different horse. sabin's instructor has suggested a laser treatment instead of another massage from the snotty horse massage woman and i'm going to try that this week.

i think of all of the horses i've had over the years and how there were probably all kinds of things we could have corrected with the right treatment rather than brute force and a severe bit. but we just didn't know any better. i'm really glad these treatments are available now. it's quite amazing to see what a difference it's already made. and it's really great to be around a community of really nice people who love horses - we've already learned so much and benefited a lot from being at the stable.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

happy father's day!

my sister had to remind me that it's father's day today. i can't even plead that it's an american holiday because we also have father's day here in denmark (tho' it may not be today). i'll admit i'm pretty rubbish at remembering these things.  i'm not sure if it makes me a bad daughter tho'. and we didn't really do anything for the father in this house today either and all three of his daughters were present.

sabin and her grandfather in kongs have in copenhagen, august 2008
dad was last here in denmark in august 2008 for our housewarming at our old house - the housewarming of our addition, as we'd lived there for a good 7 years by then. we were frantically trying to finish up the last things so we could hold the party and happily, dad volunteered to get up on a ladder (the wisdom of sending a 75-year-old man up a ladder could be discussed, but we won't get into that here and all's well that ends well) and clean the windows.

dad washing the windows at our old house.
i think he and mom knew something about a vinegar solution and as i recall, they wiped them down with old newspapers. they'd never been so clean and i'm sure they also haven't been since. in fact, it wouldn't hurt if they came for a visit and cleaned the windows around here. they sure could use it and they're much closer to the ground.

look how happy he was to be up on that ladder!
here's dad, helping with a wheelbarrow of driftwood. sadly, he had encountered a rather large step and that explains the exasperation on his face. i was happy that husband was the cause of that look, because i'd been the cause of it plenty of times myself.

this is a rather typical exasperated look on my father's face.
goodness knows i've given him enough cause for exasperation over the years.
some of the things i inherit from my dad are my liberal leanings (he is one of about 4 democrats in south dakota), my love of reading and keeping up with the news, my ability to write (you can't learn it, you either have it or you don't, or so he once told me), my lack of patience for many things, but especially stupid people, making fun of people and things for comic effect, my tendency to be a bit too loud...

but also a generous spirit, a curiosity about the world, an interest in other places and things, a love of playing cards, competitiveness, an easy ability to laugh and appreciate humor. those are some of the things i love about my dad.

dad, mom and a much smaller sabin in august 2008.
so a big happy father's day to you, dad!!! sorry we weren't there to go fishing and cook up a mess of walleye and a big batch of asparagus from your garden!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

scenes from a rainy garden

~ between showers, progress is being made on the chicken coop (which is actually more of a palace). we're calling it chez poulet, since it's going to be quite posh what with the fancy door husband made for it.

~ sabin is giving her bunny solskin extra lots of time today since she seems so heartbroken at the presence of the tiny new bunnies.  either that or she wants babies of her own.

~ tomorrow is the strawberries and honey event at our bee school. we're close to "slinging" our first honey. our bee mentor says there's at least 15 kilos in our best beehive. i'm looking forward to having that honey in my tea.

~ tho' i'm tired of rainy days, they do make the garden grow and the flowers bloom and the weeds easy to weed. there's always a silver lining if you look for it.

~ making ciabatta bread for the first time. working all of that olive oil in during the proving stage is fun.

~ it's good to have my iMac back - it got sent in for a checkup, as the extra warranty i'd bought was running out soon and i wanted to be sure i'd taken full advantage. it got a new display, a new graphics card and a new hard drive. so it's pretty much a new computer now! it should be good to go for a long time to come.

~ i'm a little mystified by words with friends, the scrabble-like game we're all playing on our iPhones. i think it's quite arbitrary in the words it allows and doesn't allow. i've taken to just throwing my letters in practically any old order and seeing if it takes them. i'm surprised when it does. and sometimes when it doesn't. but it's fun to play with friends in north america.

~ i'm reading gary schteyngart's super sad true love story and i'm afraid i'm not hip enough to understand it. the hipster language is kinda driving me crazy. have any of you read it?

here's wishing you all a lazy and relaxing weekend.

Friday, June 17, 2011

still thinking about char

still thinking about char. feeling a bit better after reading beth's blog today. it's still not ok that she's gone and i miss her terribly...i had photo issues today and my immediate thought was, "i need to ask char what she would do." but i can't do that. and that's brought tears to my eyes more than once since i learned this yesterday morning.

this whole thing has left me thinking that passwords and last wishes about our cyberlives need to be included in our wills. i told husband that i want him to post on my blog, twitter, facebook, etc. if i die unexpectedly, letting everyone know. it's easy if he does it on one of my computers, as it all automatically signs in, so he doesn't even need to know my passwords, tho' he knows those too. but i would want to let everyone know what happened - whatever it may be.  he told me to pre-write the post, so he could just post it, but if i could predict the future...

in all of this, i am grateful for this cyberlife we have. i love that char's blog lives on (and i hope it continues to do so), so i can go back to it and read it and feel close to her and remember her. and i treasure every comment she left on my blog even more so now than i did. (why is that we most appreciate that which we no longer have?)

it all brings up interesting questions of the reality of virtual friendship that i'm not yet finished processing. i feel as bereft losing char as if i'd lost a close friend that i knew in real life, even tho' we never met. she was a wonderful person and i am grateful that the slim chance that we would find one another here in cyberspace indeed worked. of all the blogs out there, i feel richer for mine having crossed paths with hers. we share so much of ourselves here (tho' it's impossible to share it all), that we may in some ways know one another better than we know our real life friends. it's a privilege that i hope to be more conscious of after losing char. it's the least i can do.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

goodbye char

a beacon of light in the blogosphere
i just learned that char of the beautiful blog ramblins died (i'm sorry to be so blunt, but i can't bring myself to use that phrase passed away) on june 6. i feel so awful that it took me ten days to realize it. we're friends on facebook and pinterest and flickr and she has been a fast friend here in the blogosphere since my earliest blogging days. i had noticed that she hadn't posted to her blog since june 1 and hadn't really been around on FB and pinterest or stopped by to say hello, but i chalked it up to it being a busy time of year, so while i missed her, i never suspected anything was amiss.

i will miss her. her laughter, her stories, her heart, her beautiful photographs, her gentle comments, her recipes beautifully photographed, her beautiful soul. i can almost hear her southern accent, tho' i never heard it in person. and i feel genuine sorrow and a sense of loss, tho' we never met in person. she was a friend, in every real sense of the word. it feels like the blogosphere will be a little less bright without her.

char, if you're out there, know that we feel the world to be a lesser place without your presence. but we also feel richer for having known you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

illuminate me, please

why is it?

...that just when your haircut looks its best is actually about a week (or two) after you needed a new color?

...that danish mothers have convinced their children that you can't lick the bowl on your cookie or cake dough if there are eggs in the dough? i've been licking dough containing eggs for 40-odd years and i'm still alive. i suspect danish mothers are all greedily licking that spatula when the kids have left the room dejected.

...that bifocals make you completely nauseated?

...that the three-star LEAN guy in this house puts the silverware in the dishwasher all in one big mixed-up clump instead of keeping spoons with spoons?

...that our friend the pilot doesn't have a girlfriend? he's so cute, for an old guy.

...that facebook makes me feel so passive aggressive?

what are you wondering today?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

it's all about focus

sometimes all of the possibilities before me leave me feeling listless and unable to focus. with so many different things to focus on, i tend not to focus at all, but wander from one to the other, without really finishing or exploring any of them to their fullest. this is true of sewing projects, business ideas, gardens (i still haven't planted that basil in the greenhouse), bread left baking in the oven (i could go on). 

a friend of mine is using this whole week to get her focus and her priorities straight and sharing the whole process on her blog. (it's in danish, apologies to my largely english-speaking audience).  and while i find it a little new agey (don't get me wrong, i had a new age phase in the late 80s in southern california, as one does, and i loved it fully then, but i've moved on), however, i think the idea is a good one. to really dig in and figure out what the hell it is that makes you tick. (and by you i mean me.)

i suppose everyone goes through this, a midlife crisis of sorts, where you wonder if you're living the right life and if you've focused on the right things and whether what you've done matters. and i suppose the answer is always that sometimes you did and sometimes you didn't. and that sometimes it's hard to tell when you're in the middle of it all.

all you can really hope is that you can somehow tune in to what it is that makes you tick. and then focus on that.

Monday, June 13, 2011

the accidental rabbit

currently being called mira (tho' that could change) just earlier today, it was named nanna.
currently being called sophia (just a few hours ago, known as ninus).
how does one accidentally purchase two rabbits, you ask?  well, it could happen (purely hypothetically, of course), if you were on a chicken acquisition mission and you thought that while you were looking at the blå avis for chickens anyway, you'd do a quick rabbit search. and the rabbits were not that far from the chickens, so it was quite easy to just pop by.

your plan originally was to check out the adult rabbits, so you could make your own babies with the rabbits you already have. because you can't allow them to make babies because they're brother and sister and so you need some outside blood. you had pretty much settled on a nice black & white buck for your dear solskin rabbit at home, when the nice lady asked if you wanted to see the babies around back. and lo and behold, there was a whole hutch full of the most adorable baby rabbits. in. the. world. some fuzzy ones and some with lop ears and so you think it would probably be best to get some potential wives for samba, your boy rabbit back at home.

and in the giddiness of the moment, you take two, but prudently decide not to buy the adult rabbit after all (showing some scrap of sanity reason restraint remains). and then you go on to get the chickens (only buying two more than you had originally planned and ordering half a dozen more). and there you definitely do not agree to buy a 4-year-old pony the next time you come back to get your other chickens. (that pony was so small it would so have fit in the back of the car if it hadn't already been full of chicken wire, bags of cement, pepper plants, rabbits and chickens).

and that's how you could accidentally buy a rabbit. or two. but really, look at their faces, could you have resisted?

a berry good monday

when the strawberries first come in earnest, we eat them with a sprinkling of sugar and a splash of cream. there will be time for creativity down the line. sometimes simple is best.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

in the snail studio

a new canvas
why hello there sunflower!
a work in progress.
wait a minute, don't go, i'm not done yet!
hello, pretty sunflower.
not that way...
nearly finished.
i think this is my favorite shot - who knew snails were so flexible.
it's really weird how what i should paint pops into my head. 
the snail studio.
for those who were worried about the birds taking them, i painted feathers, so they'll think he's a bird too.

i hope your weekend is going well....