Tuesday, August 30, 2011

news flash

i have some news for you. i've been volunteering at sabin's school, helping her teacher with a group that's making a modern version of the bayeux tapestry. there have been two groups so far - mixed groups of boys and girls from the fourth to sixth grade. and the news i have for you is that TEACHERS ARE TOTALLY, WOEFULLY UNDERPAID!! this is a HEROIC ACT they undertake on a daily basis!! being around children of this age is NOT FOR THE FAINTHEARTED!!

more as soon as i recover...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

thoughts from a sunday evening

~ we had wild weather this weekend and there wasn't even a hurricane where we are. but we had loads of wind and a veritable deluge of rain. that's why the bobbaloos, who had wanted to go on a walk and look for mushrooms, are looking wistfully out at the rain.

~ about 15 minutes before the deluge, i convinced husband to go on a walk with me, assuring him that those clouds weren't going to amount to anything. about half a kilometer from home, the rain began and we ran for it, reaching the relative shelter of the trees before it started to come in buckets. it made me think i missed my calling as a weather girl, since i have no apparent ability to predict the weather and it seems that's a prerequisite for that job.

~ when will i learn not to keep reading a book that sucks? why, oh why, when life is as short as it is and books so plentiful, do i slog on through one that i know i don't like. i'm speaking here of anita shreve's all he ever wanted, but i could be talking about the completely over-rated visit from the goon squad by jennifer egan. reprehensible characters about which i don't care should be a sign to stop reading.

~ we attended our annual crayfish & schnapps party last evening and i am blissfully reminded of how very good it is to spend time with intelligent, interesting people. my husband has some seriously awesome family. and i got my quota of laughter for the week. it's pretty mind-blowing how much energy it gives you to laugh well.

~ looking forward to testing out our apple cider press this week. if it works, we're thinking of hosting a cider event at our house - where people can come, bring their apples, help with pressing them and do other fun, autumnal things on the farm.

~ shokoofeh and i are planning on making a 2012 calendar of our film swap photos. we'd like to know whether you'd be interested in buying one?  please note, leaving a comment does not constitute a commitment to buy, we'd just like to have an idea of how much interest is out there, so please let us know if that sounds appealing.

~ lately most everything we're eating is from the garden - zucchini (courgette)/eggplant (aubergine) ratatouille, herbed tomato salsa, broad bean hummus (thank you, kristina for the inspiration), salads of thin ribbons of zucchini and tarragon with a bit of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, artichokes with plenty of butter and salt, mushrooms gathered in the forest. i love having a garden. and this time of year it seems like it would be quite easy to be a vegetarian.

~ i made a batch of raspberry jam today. who knew that berries and sugar could smell and taste so heavenly? i'm so glad our raspberry canes are autumn ones.

here's hoping your weekend was wonderful and full of laughter and great conversation.

Friday, August 26, 2011

magical early color photography

apropos yesterday's post on russian literature, i came across (thanks to melissa of tiny happy) this marvelous collection of color photos taken by sergei prokudin-gorskii in the decade before the russian revolution. yes, you read that correctly, color photos taken at the beginning of the last century.


prokudin-gorskii used a special camera that took 3 images at once and he used blue, green and red filters, then projected the images together to make the composite color image. you can read more about the process here. aside: i do realize the first two images are not color, but i wanted to share them anyway (you'll see why below).

peasant woman

the library of congress has digitized some of the collection and you can peruse it online here. but do go look at the spread that boston.com did of them - it's breathtaking. i have left the edges here, as they are when you download them from the library of congress site, as i think the process by which the negatives are put together is fascinating.

in the urals
these images simply take my breath away. it's revolutionary photography from a pre-revolutionary time. i'm completely blown away by them.

along the volga
i think the fact that they're in color makes them so much more alive and says something about a basic human need for color. i relate to them so much more because they're in color.

along the volga
the color also gives them a kind of timelessness that black and white photos of the same subjects simply don't have (see the top two).  many of them, i feel as if they could have been taken yesterday.

i realized also when i stumbled across them that i had been positively LONGING for some truly breathtaking photography. i'm really tired of that over-exposed, false-vintage look that's so prevalent everywhere in the blogosphere and on flickr.

windmill houses
and these magical little windmill houses provoke me so much more than all of the slick architecture magazine photography that abounds on pinterest.  and they're about as far as you can get from the "achingly poetic" shots of toast crumbs and empty coffee cups that are so in vogue.

peasant girls
and these girls? yes, they're posing for the camera in a way that's most decidedly not in fashion at the moment, but aren't they marvelous?

peasant woman
these photos (and the many more i perused on the library of congress site) fed my soul and irrigated my joy today and i hope they do yours as well.

happy weekend one and all!

hints of autumn in the air


~ morning fog
~ crisp, clear air
~ crunchy leaves
~ a riot of colors
~ golden evening light
~ a sense of winding down
~ the bounty of the garden coming inside
~ the smell of sweet-spicy, vinegar-laden chutneys simmering on the stove.
~ hooded sweatshirts
~ scarves
~ crisp, sweet apples from the tree
~ amber honey
~ horses and bunnies growing fuzzier

...and it's only just beginning.

*  *  *

for a number of years, i've dreaded the autumn because it signaled our coming northern darkness. but this year it's different. i'm ready for the change in rhythm that autumn brings. for the slowing down. for the reaping of what's been sown. for the cool, clear air and the morning fog. i think i'm even ready for the darkness to eventually settle upon us. it's probably this life closer to the land and to the rhythms of nature that makes it feel right. it feels like the best season is just beginning.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

reading russian literature

occasionally i get an email, asking me what russian literature i would recommend. i love those moments because not only does my almost-Ph.D. come in handy, they sort of wake up a sleeping, dormant part of my soul. and it always makes me wonder why i stopped feeding my soul with that particular kind of marvelous writing. but mostly, it takes me back in a very good way - back to the time when i was so consumed by devouring the russian masters - especially dostoevsky - that i once read 120 pages of the brothers karamazov (from the very book on top) while driving on I-80 west of Des Moines. and yes, i was the driver.

and tho' i want to immediately tell everyone that their life will not be complete until they've read the brothers karamazov, i do realize that that thick tome of religion, rationalism, nihilism, madness and patricide may not be for everyone. i tend to recommend starting with dostoevsky's notes from underground to see if his manic style appeals to you, before embarking on the biggies like brothers k or crime & punishment.

the one book i recommend every time is bulgakov's master & margarita - its brand of russian magical realism is well, magical. it's a book i return to again and again and always find something new - colorful characters, a good story, simply an energy that carries you along. i also tend to recommend nabokov - humbert humbert may be a real creep, but the writing is virtuoso and everyone should experience that.

i'm not a big fan of tolstoy, as he's a bit righteous and preachy for me, but i do love his short work - the sebastopol sketches. i also like gogol's short works - the nose and the overcoat. i tend to recommend that people read some of those first, before tackling a baggy monster like war & peace or anna karenina (and do read anna k if you're only going to read one tolstoy) or dead souls.

it always makes me a bit sad that i don't find myself recommending any women writers. the only one that really springs to mind is anna akhmatova and she was a poet. there are more contemporary women writers - tatiana tolstaya and ludmilla petrushevskaya, but honestly, their works are nowhere near the top of my list.

i feel that literature, like nothing else, has the capacity to illuminate a culture and its history. russian literature especially opens some window, not only into the russian soul, but the very soul of humanity. so if you haven't read any, do get started. and start with master & margarita.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

precisely this moment

 an early morning walk in the garden.
still. quiet. sparkling.
 the silence broken only by bird calls and the occasional rooster's crow.
the roosters have just learned to crow and they still seem surprised by it.
 dew-laden spiderwebs sparkling in the morning sun.
 and a clear sense of these precise moments as utterly unique.
 these fine webs have their glittering moment in the sun. 
 the light falling on them will never fall again in precisely the same way. 
fleeting, unique moments, savored fully.

it's what life is about, really.

Monday, August 22, 2011

pretty in purple

it's been a very busy day today, so there's only time for pretty pictures. and it was total coincidence that the shirt matched our new legwraps.

more soon....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

hello from sunday evening

it was one of those days where time stretched.
became exactly how much we needed.

the cows are as curious as ever.
the farmers in the neighborhood are harvesting their wheat and rye and barley.
sophus (formerly known as sophia) escaped and ran around outside the cage.
we rode the horse and bonded with the cat.

husband has started another building project.
a deluxe pig shed. with an attic.
it's right next to the chickens.
and they think he's just hanging out, keeping them company.
i'm personally thinking of squeezing them, to make them lay some eggs.
it's hard waiting for them to begin.

there was time to paint a snail -
with rather a modern feel.
raspberries were picked and preserved (with homemade vanilla).
and rosehip syrup was made -
for those vitamin c hits we'll need next winter.

homework is done.
everyone's bathed.
we've had a dose of kitchen inspiration.
we're ready to face a new week.

* * *

so cool: lost library project
baking for bunnies.
loving these thoughts on inspiration and breaking with old ways of being.
and feeling inspired by thoughts of a place like this.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

what are you looking at?

here's what i'm looking at:

this beautiful blog. 
and this one.
and the new skinny laminx catalog.

and i'm also...

coveting this magical mushroom.

reading the elegance of the hedgehog
(because we have a hedgehog.)
(tho' oddly there hasn't been a hedgehog in the story yet.)
(but it's beautiful anyway. i'm underlining every other line. in the library's book.)

dreaming about crocheting one of these.

* * *

hope you're spending your weekend wisely.

Friday, August 19, 2011

the return of molly moo

molly moo came back last evening. we love that heart-shaped white patch on her head and her big brown eyes.

i woke up with a headache and it's once again grey and dreary, so i'll just wish you all a happy weekend and let you look at the pretty pictures of molly moo.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

on collecting IV: metal bits

collections - counters

some of the collections we have are something that husband and i began to collect after we met. mechanical counters are one collection - the one on the far right being the first one we acquired at a little antique place on gilbert street in iowa city. it began as a fascination husband has with things mechanical.  others followed as we ran across them in various antique places, mostly in the US, but also a couple here in denmark. once you have spotted a certain object, others have a way of popping up. they also somehow begin to tell you their stories...i imagined that original counter on the gate of a fairgrounds or baseball field somewhere in iowa, counting attendees in its day.

random thoughts on a tuesday or the day i started blogging on flickr

children can be found winding them forward, synchronizing them. i can see that the one shows 7272, which means that my sister must have spent some time on it, combinations of 7s and 2s are her thing. i once, in a devilish fit, made them all show rows of 6s when my parents were going to be visiting - since i'm pretty sure they have moments of worrying about my soul.  i guess i wanted to silently confirm them in their worries. but i don't think anyone even noticed.

collections - mediterannean arabic padlocks

from mechanical counters, it wasn't a big leap to heavy, ornate padlocks from the mediterranean region. the one on the lower left was the first one we found in morocco and has a rather ingenious key that opens it lying in front of it. all of them work and can actually be used. i suppose that if he'd thought about it (they're currently packed away - these photos are from the old house), husband would have incorporated one into the chicken coop. perhaps he still will.

with these collections, i think the pleasure is in the looking for the next item. you never know where you'll spot one...in a quiet little shop in bergama, turkey or a dusty roadside market in afghanistan (we have locks from both places). such objects come laden somehow with the stories of the doors and perhaps chests they've held safe from intruders. it feels a bit, in handling them, like it might be possible to unlock their stories with a twist of the key.

i suppose what they have in common is brass and a similar heaviness - so tho' locks and counting mechanisms are different, they complement one another somehow. these adorned either end of a long shelf in our old dining room and they will again, even tho' they are tucked away in boxes at the moment.  and we'll undoubtedly run onto more of both and keep adding to our collection over the years - the pleasure being most definitely in the finding.


from a film i took back in february(!!) at the bodies exhibition at experimentarium in copenhagen. there was quite a lot of controversy, because it was very graphic and experimentarium is a kind of science museum aimed at children and they actually included a sex scene. plus, the bodies were real, not models. real people who donated their bodies to be exhibited around the world. at once both horrible and intimate and fascinating and graphic and educational and just too much.

i should really dust off my scanner, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

collecting III: the fabric stash

probably my most extensive collection is of fabrics. it's gotten a bit better since i began to focus on organic cottons with bee charmer, but still, it's pretty crazy. i have repurposed the wooden boxes our weekly organic food delivery comes in and they make great storage. plus, they bring a new one every week, so i can keep adding to the stash and always have enough storage.

some months back, my mom expressed disbelief that i had all that fabric without knowing what i was going to make of it. but i don't need to have something in particular in mind. i choose colors and prints that i love, and feel a nearly giddy happiness just looking at it and knowing that whenever inspiration strikes, it's there, waiting for me.

at the moment, i'm totally enamored of the cloud9 fabrics that i made the dresses out of. and i'm working on that big cut out & keep quilt again. i wasn't happy with some of it, so i uncharacteristically spent a lot of time taking out some seams and rearranging a bit and now it's getting there.

being surrounded by beautiful fabric makes me happy. i can sense a nearly audible hum in the air...the hum of potential. and at times, i swear the fabrics whisper to me and tell me what i should make of them. so it would be crazy not to have plenty of their little voices at hand. right? right?  ok, i do realize this makes me sound like some kind of crazy lady, but still, the stash makes me happy. and it begins to be evident that happiness is what's at the heart of all of this collecting.