Tuesday, January 31, 2012

photo app fun continued or get thee to the app store

tiny planetized sunset

this is the same photo as yesterday, run through the tiny planet app.  after that, i got a little obsessed. but it was way fun!

tiny planetized swans on the lake

swans on our lake.

31/1.2012 - tiny planetized lighthouse

the lighthouse at blåvandshuk

husband at the north sea

husband at the north sea


an old german bunker on the west coast of denmark

Transformed by Tiny Planet Photos iPhone app #TinyPlanet

amber hunter at the north sea - i LOVE the birds in flight.

Transformed by Tiny Planet Photos iPhone app #TinyPlanet

and here it is flipped the other way in the app. even cooler, don't you think?

at the north sea

a watch tower at sunset on the west coast.

more fun w/apps - diptic

and the same photo played with in the diptic app.

get thee to the app store, i tell you. 
iPhones are a very good thing. 
i wonder if other phones actually still exist?

Monday, January 30, 2012

photo app fun


it's been awhile since i got all excited photographically-speaking, but i just had to share a new app that kristina (who is ALWAYS ahead of the curve on the cool stuff (she was on pinterest before pinterest was all the rage)) turned me on to.  it's called montage. it lets you cut out shapes and layer your photos. it's not entirely intuitive, but it's usable once you get the hang of it.

to do this photo, i used no less than 4 apps - i took and treated the original photo in vintage camera. then i loaded it into montage, along with another photo from a week or so ago - and clipped that photo into a circle. i played with it a bit to get it sized and placed as i wanted it. then i cropped it in photogene and uploaded it all to instagram. a little bit the long route, but worth the fun.  funny, how my old favorite - hipstamatic, isn't even on the radar anymore.  i do still occasionally use camera+.

it's good i discovered this, as my month of iPhone photos only was wearing a bit thin. it's been good for my photo mojo, as i'm ready to go back to the big girl camera come february 1.

what are your favorite photo apps?

stop the merry-go-round, i want off

there comes a point when you just have to say "enough." you can't do more. you can't give more - thought...energy...horses. sometimes what you give simply isn't appreciated. and in the worst case, it's actually abused. for example, when a 150 pound kid is allowed to ride your teeny tiny pony for an hour and then the riding instructor wonders why the pony won't gallop. hmm, could be something to do with the fact that she can't lift her feet off the ground. just sayin'.

i'm notoriously bad at recognizing the "enough" point, but i'm trying to get better. this time, i vow it will be different. when the welfare of the pony is at stake and the one responsible apparently cannot recognize, even when asked, that it wasn't ok to put such a big girl on such a little pony, then one has to take hold of the reins, literally in this case.

besides, the horse (which has been dubbed princess leia jesus kristensen) at home is lonely and the pony will keep her company.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

memories of light and drawings of the future

a shot from the old house - a happy memory of light

we have snow at last.
enough for building snow forts and having a snowball fight.
one that quickly dissolved into laughter.

a weekend of new friends.
a bit too much red wine.
an impromptu fish soup supper.
an afternoon at the movies with the whole family.
a 6 layer rainbow cake.
a bit of horsing around.
a new cat named pepchen.

three brown hens are now broody.
i swear they actually growl at me when i go out.
it has cut down significantly on the egg count.
but they're sitting on plastic eggs.
silly hens.
i'm oddly charmed by the whole thing.

some new plans forming.
a result of the red wine evening.
in vino veritas. 
or at least dreams.
and husband gets to indulge his inner architect.

and tho' it snowed,
and i've been wishing for that,
i'm longing for the garden.
and something green. 
i blame hugh's veg show.

here's hoping your weekend was exactly what you wished for.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

how can you house culture?

i took these photos ages ago, with my iPhone in the henie-onstad museum in norway. i neglected to note whose work they are, but i vaguely recall it was a scandinavian poet of some renown. i've been thinking a bit about culture the past few days and they seem to fit my thoughts.

it strikes me that the word culture has, like socialism, become a bit of a swear word. it provokes people with visions of snobby opera-goers or hipsters attending avante garde theatre performances or gallery openings. and of course opera and theatre and art are cultural artifacts, but isn't culture more than those things? culture is the whole of a society - the customs, the norms, the traditions, the language, the food. it's words, art, images, music, lamps, chairs.  it's also sports and concerts and films and yes, even television. it's such a broad word. but i think that sometimes we forget that.

our community is going to build a new "culture house" (or renovate the old one, that's not yet decided) and it's bringing out the community's emotions. some are provoked at the thought of latte-sipping fashionistas on the square with their little boutique doggies (an unlikely sight in the countryside, but apparently a fear, just the same). those who are provoked that art and theatre might have a place in our town want the money to go to a sports facility instead.

but it's all a matter of categorization and prioritization, isn't it? and both exhibition space and a place to play handball have their place in a community. they give us different aspects of culture. because culture is multi-faceted. and multi-fascinating. and although i'm now involved in this, i'm also an observer, an anthropologist, amazed at the breathtaking speed at which committees are formed and factions delineated. and people provoked at the notion that there might be a space for the local ladies to quilt or for the big mess of a ceramics workshop. instead of space for a bunch of sweaty people to chase a ball around.

hmm, i guess you can see which aspect of culture i prefer...

stay tuned, this isn't over yet. not by a long shot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

happy 11th birthday, pookaloo!

i'd like to say it pains me to imagine realize admit that my child is 11 today, but in all honesty, it doesn't. watching her grow and learn and explore and love the world is so wonderful that every age seems like the perfect one. she's lovely and strong and amazing and smart and funny. and it seems exactly right that she's 11. happy birthday, pookaloo.

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and do check out the rainbow birthday cupcakes i made for her here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

i read therefore i am

23/1.2012 - a little bedside reading

spud was wittering on facebook the other day about reading. she'd been listening to a radio program where various writers talked about what reading meant to them. i wanted to immediately go and listen to the program, but i stopped myself, because i wanted to think about the question myself, without the filter of someone else's answer.

reading. i do it daily. and i don't mean all of the reading i do on a computer screen - i mean reading with an actual book in hand. i cannot fall asleep without reading at least a little bit before turning out the light. sometimes i fall asleep with a book in my hand and wake up in the middle of the night with it fallen on my chest and turn off the light. i come by this honestly, as my father does this too. i think when he wakes up to find the light on, he just reads a little bit more, where i tend to turn off the light and put down the book.

and although i can see the convenience of reading on an iPad or other device (what? there are other devices?), i still prefer the heft and solidity of an actual book in my hand. and tho' i largely read newspapers online, i do also love the sound of a turned page and the smell of a real newspaper, especially on sunday. it's strange, i have a sort of separation in my head as to what it's ok to read electronically and what has to be read as an actual book - sherlock holmes, that was just fine on the iPad, but murakami? i want to hold the actual book in my hand.

as i've admitted previously, i am unafraid to write in books. including library books, tho' i've been trying to restrain of late. it was one thing to have a dialogue in the marginalia of the books in the reg at the U of C, it's quite another to leave my musings in a book belonging to the royal library in copenhagen.

i think it's difficult to say exactly what reading gives to me - especially the reading of novels.  i suppose it's largely a way of processing the world. of coming to terms with human motivations and feelings and reactions. a means of being transported to another place and time, to witness events. to come to a deeper understanding through metaphor (think life of pi, which is one long metaphor about humans pushed to their outer limits - tho' i hate the ending of that book).  when i read jonathan franzen, i feel he has looked deep into my midwestern roots and wrung the very meaning from them, helping me to arrive at a better understanding of myself.

from the mind of a seemingly rational madman like raskolnikov to the mess of madame bovary to the prototype of brave, independent, smart girls i found in both the laura ingalls wilder books and trixie belden mysteries i read as a kid...i found the models that have shaped my understanding of the world.  i would go so far as to say that my models of the world are built of the blocks of all that i've read.

i think literature can, like theatre and art, help us to a deeper understanding of events and people and places. for example, i have a clearer picture of the tensions that still exist today between china and japan thanks to reading the novels of murakami. and my love of the russianness and the depths of the russian soul comes far more from dostoevsky, gogol and bulgakov than from putin.  perhaps my lack of much of an understanding of the world wars of the last century is because i've never really read novels that interpreted those events.

i heard on the radio the other day about a small theatre in copenhagen that's planning on staging a play based on the manifesto written by norwegian mass murderer anders breivik. even before it's been written and anyone knows what it is, there are many opinions about it. mostly outrage. but i think it's a brave thing to do. not to give voice to that cold-blooded murderer, but because art - theatre, literature, painting - is the very best means we humans have to get at an understanding of ourselves. how better to come to terms with the horror of what he did than to explore it through art?

why do you read? and what does it give you?

Monday, January 23, 2012

some days are like that

it's been a weird monday. i was writing a whole other blog post and then a bunch of stuff wanted to come out and it kept clouding up what i wanted to write, so i just have to write this and get it out of the way. some days are like that.

~ moving horses will always take longer than you think.

~ australia is the worst movie i've ever seen. period. everyone involved in it should be taken out back and shot. especially nicole kidman. and whoever put together those backgrounds against the stuff shot in the studio, they should be tied up and made to watch the film repeatedly for the rest of their lives. even if their eyes have to be propped open with those metal thingies from a clockwork orange.

~ if you're a nurse and you have to take a swab halfway down someone's throat, perhaps just a teency weency little explanation or maybe even a "hello" before you come at them with the extra long q-tip would be in order. just sayin'.

~ if you need to get an x-ray of your lungs because you've been coughing for three weeks straight, go at lunchtime. there's no waiting.

~ people who write knitting books leave out a lot of stuff that beginners will have questions about. like how to remember whether that last row you did was knit or purl, or how to tell if you forget.

~ it seems that divorces come in bunches...another of sabin's classmates' parents are splitting up. she says it's the 6th in her class. apparently marriages fall like dominoes. i'm pleased to not know any of the whys and wherefores of any of them, but feel sad for the kids.

~ i have to make 600 (ok, that might be a slight exaggeration) cupcakes tomorrow. i'm thinking rainbows.

ok, i think that about does it. now i'll get back to the post i was really writing. some days are like that.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

snowdrops already?

21/1.2012 - snowdrop. literally.

isn't it too early for snowdrops? i spotted this one in front of the house this morning during the 20 minutes of snow we've had this year. later, rain came and washed it all away. i do wish for a proper winter, but it looks like we won't get one this year. 

i've spent the bulk of this day knitting on my ever-longer rainbow scarf. i just keep knitting since i don't know how to cast off. i'm on my 3rd skein of yarn. i've also been watching those cadfael programs on youtube (on this channel). in 9 minute snippets. it suits me well. it speaks somehow to my attention span and allows me to jump up to change the laundry or get a cup of tea or nearly die of a coughing fit and then get back to it again. 

do you think it's normal to cough (really cough, this is not some wussy cough but the kind where you eventually just throw up from it) for three weeks?

*  *  *

there are pretty pictures of copenhagen on this blog
a lovely photos of spanish wine country here
and of course, there are always beautiful pictures here.
i especially love her review of a year in pictures. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

what i've learned this week

20/1.2012 - genius lego business card

~ lego has the coolest business cards in the world.  name on the front, email & phone # on the back.

~ it's very in amongst the toddler set to go to great lengths to expose said toddlers to chicken pox. parents get together with a child that has the pox, then they proceed to make the children drink from the same cup as the infected child, suck on used suckers and generally embrace and kiss one another in hopes that their child too will become infected. i can tell you a lot has changed in ten years.

~ a lot of good things can happen if you just dare. (including meetings already next friday!! [insert happy dance here])

~ if you ask for feedback on something, you'd better be able to take it.

~ if you wear something fabulous, you will feel fabulous. (i didn't so much learn this as remember it.)

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happy weekend, one and all. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

in which she exposes that the mafia is live and well in denmark

16/1.2012 - every new venture requires new moo cards

about two months ago, i made a big mistake. like many mistakes, i didn't realize it at the time. i decided to purchase a domain ending in dot dk. i am starting a new business providing all kinds of services in english - from writing to translation to teaching - with a couple of friends.  since our target audience for the business is danish, i shrugged off my preference for dot com domains and decided to buy a danish one.

the first red flag (which i blithely ignored) was that you cannot buy a .dk domain through a large international provider like GoDaddy (where i've bought all of my other domains). so i went to a danish provider called DanDomain and for 123.75DKK i purchased markmywords.dk. i figured that afterwards i'd just move it over to GoDaddy where all of my other domains reside and then manage them in one place. (oh, how wrong i was).

minutes after i purchased the domain, i got another email from something called dk-hostmaster, telling me that i needed to go to their site to complete registration of my domain. they gave me new log-in and password to do so (if you're counting, this will now make 3 different log-ins and passwords to get to my domain once i move it to GoDaddy  - which at this point, i still believed was possible). but, having been in denmark for going on fourteen years, i figured ok, this is just danish bureaucracy at its best, so i dutifully signed in and activated my new domain.

then, i proceeded to look through the help on both DanDomain and dk-hostmaster (which is in english until you really need it) to find out how to move my domain over to GoDaddy. by now the red flag had become a red flashing light, and as i got a back and forth conflicting answers with DanDomain telling me to ask dk-hostmaster and dk-hostmaster telling me to ask DanDomain, the flashing light began to sound alarm bells as well.  still i brushed it all aside and thought i would be able to solve it. i found on GoDaddy's site that i had to own a domain for 60 days before it could be moved, so i decided to just try to point the domain at our servers from where it was.

again, i was so naive. i dutifully entered the server name on dk-hostmaster, where it said that they had to approve such a move. they then proceeded to ask the most intrusive and unnecessary questions of the server admin in the UK (where our j2research.com site resides) that they decided they didn't want anything to do with it! what happened to the openness of the internet?  i began to think of dk-hostmaster, a rather mysterious organization, as The Godfather, at about that point.

turns out that dk-hostmaster is a godfather of sorts. i thought they were a state organization, but they aren't, they are a consortium of all of the private web hosting providers in denmark and they keep tight-fisted control, like any good mafia boss, of all use of .dk domains.

by this point, i wanted to create the website on google sites, where it would be FREE and where they surely couldn't say no to that. at last i talked to a support guy at DanDomain who sounded sensible (in retrospect, i should have asked his name, as i'm quite sure that corlione was there somewhere). he said that if i purchased a DNS-forwarding subscription for a mere 120DKK per year, i could point the site wherever i wanted it. what he neglected to mention was that it was wherever i wanted it as long as it was in denmark and i was paying through the nose for it). so i dutifully fronted up the 120DKK and tried to point the domain.

by now, you can guess what happened. nothing, that's what. despite having entered the IP address (we had returned to the idea of the UK servers) of our servers, all that showed was a redirect to the mob boss at dk-hostmaster.

so last monday, in resignation, i finally purchased web hosting to the tune of 923DKK per year from DanDomain. of course, for this premium price, i then learned that i couldn't even have a PHP-based website, as that would require another 50DKK per month. yes, the danish web mafia was trying to squeeze even more money out of me, just so i could use open source programming on my own friggin' domain!

happily my business partner's husband brilliantly stayed up late converting our PHP-based site to javascript and it's now up and running. have a look if you'd like. it's here at markmywords.dk.

and the lesson in all of this? never, ever, ever buy a .dk domain. the real world wide web is freer than that (unless, of course, they get their way with this SOPA thing).

Monday, January 16, 2012

twisty trails of monday ponderings

~ still coughing.

~ i love inflated titles - so i gave myself one: director of creative services. next time, i'm going to be an idea consultant. tho' i'm still most partial to storyteller.

~ i watched a documentary last evening about the jewelry of cartier and copenhagen's shamballa jewels. they are both equally pretentious, but in very different ways. it got me thinking about the state of pretention in the world these days. i think it's in flux. whereas it was pretentious to consume the right brand, now it's becoming a pretense not to.

~ i want an herbarium in the garden.  one like cadfael has in ellis peters' crime novels set in the 12th century.

~ nothing brightens one's day quite as much as fresh, new moo cards.

~ a couple of months ago, i bought a .dk domain. if i'd known then what i know now, i'd never have done it. you see, there's a protectionist cartel around the .dk domains that makes it impossible to use them without buying hosting in denmark. no google sites, no blogger, no shop site like someammo. they've got it fixed so that you MUST pay a premium for hosting in denmark. it's a protectionist scam i tell you and i feel it's quite outside what i perceive as the spirit of the internet. i will never again buy a .dk domain.   that said, i have given in and paid their mafia-like extortion fees we'll soon have it up and running and i'm going to be pleased to show it to you!

~ i'm tired of this non-wintery winter. i could really use a good and proper snow before it's all over.

~ that said, the return of the light is already noticeable and these balmy days do make it wonderful to go for a weekend walk.

~ did i tell you that i bought a pinto shetland pony last week? her name is pinky. she's feisty and spunky, but overall a good girl and a good ride (tho' you should NOT use a whip on her, as one of the riding instructors found out to her dismay last week). she's a bit small for sabin, but is her birthday present anyway. every kid needs a horse they can PLAY with and our matilde is not that kind of horse. plus, the riding club had need of a small pony for the leadline classes and doesn't have much money. so, i bought her and have lent her to the club for lessons.

~ i love knitting with variegated yarn - i find the gradual changing of the colors very motivating. and my latest scarf is almost done. i may even try to learn to purl on the next one.

~ remember that local community culture group i mentioned?  well, last thursday, i joined the advisory board. i'm pretty excited about that.

~ it's only halfway into the month and already i'm a little tired of using only instagram photos for my 366.

~ and now it's time to go see how many eggs the chickens have produced today. happy monday one and all!

Friday, January 13, 2012

topography of a life

i'm fascinated by maps. on pinterest, i have a board called topographies, that's full of interesting and inspiring art people have made of maps. but maps are art in and of themselves. they are a representation of a place, not a duplication - a map can never truly capture all that is about a place (borges knew this). they remain but an incomplete illusion. i think it's what makes art featuring maps so fascinating.

just as it's impossible for a map to truly represent a place, it's completely impossible to fully blog a life. for one, no one would want to read it, for another, it's simply impossible to put words to it all. that, of course, doesn't stop people from trying. there are those who blog their breakfast or nightly dinners and then publish books of the photos, in case you missed one of those prosaic shots. there are people who take a photo at the same time every day (or was that just a plot device in a midsomer murder?). or people who simply take a photo every day (i read about a guy who did that for like 30 years).

me, my life and my blog, are all over the place - sometimes it's a craft blog, sometimes a travelogue, sometimes it's about perfume, or raising a child, or living in self-chosen exile, occasionally it's even about politics. but mostly, i blog to think things through, work them out and make sense of the world around me. and it feels pretty real to me. but you can never truly convey what it's all like (especially not the bits inside your head). you can only sketch the outlines. map the topographies of a life, if you will.

i don't share everything, but i do think that because of the immediate kind of person that i am, how i'm feeling is pretty obvious - good and bad. of course there are things i don't blog "out loud" - because they might hurt someone or burn a bridge or get someone (usually me) in trouble (the tales i could tell you of several big corporations would make your toes curl). i also don't blog every worry i have, because to an extent, i want this to be a mostly positive space. but i do blog about those things on my secret blog, because blogging is how i think. or rather, writing is how i think, and blogging is my medium of choice. there's something about that little blogger compose window that just gets the words flowing. and the impossible mapping of a life continues.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

flashback art

12/1.2012 - flashback art

a friend made this for me for christmas in 1991 or 1992 (i can't quite remember which). she collaged together all kinds of clippings of my favorite (or in some cases least favorite) things from the news magazines of the era, then cut out my name a million times and laminated it all together (she knew me well).  included are the clintons, gorbachev, madonna, marilyn monroe, things russian and for a least favorite - a bit of dan quayle. remember when he was the scariest politician going? i think even to his running mate, bush the elder. he seems so harmless now with his inability to spell potato. maybe it all went downhill from there. he was the beginning of the end of people with a brain on the republican ticket.

i've carried it with me ever since, this very personal piece of art (art-icle?). i spent quite some time looking at it today - it's literally laden with meaning - meaning that's really only truly accessible to me.

could a gift be any better than that?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

an encounter with madness

people should come with warning signs
do you think it's possible to tell whether someone is mentally ill just by talking to them on the telephone? i wouldn't have said so before today. but i experienced a telephone call with someone who was completely unbalanced - like in serious need of meds unbalanced. it became readily apparent rather quickly, but was like a big, flashing light of mentalness after she hung up on me when i asked to speak to her boss and then called me back 15 minutes later and calmly (and apparently seriously) accused me of hanging up on her and then proceeded to go mental on me again in all her glory. i mean like the kind of spouting incomprehensible statements in a shouty voice mental.

it's actually a really unnerving experience. i have to admit i was very shaken by it. and am still in a kind of state of shock hours later. i actually think she is dangerously, clinically psychotic. i'm actually grateful the conversation took place on the telephone and not in person. even on the telephone, i think i ended up a little bit scared.  even now, just writing about it, i get a shiver down my spine.

it was the kind of conversation that made me go out and check the bunnies when i got home, just to be sure she hadn't come by and pulled a glenn close. it was that bad. and i am more than a little afraid she knows where i live.

i think that somewhere at the base of us, our very instincts sense and fear someone who is truly off balance. i'm not sure i've experienced it so strongly before. and i can tell you that i hope never to experience it again.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


i had a revelation today.  i was driving along and i saw the sun shining on a little pond and it was absolutely glorious. and i realized there, in the face of that beauty and light and stillness and the silhouettes of the trees, that i cannot take responsibility for fighting against all of the stupidity in the world. or even some of it. i cannot help it if people are petty and power-hungry and purposefully obstinate. i cannot help it if they lack creativity and vision and are unable to appreciate those things in others. i cannot make them open to new ideas if they are closed. i cannot make them other than who they are.

imagine if we took all of the energy we use trying to resist the stupidity of the world and directed it towards something positive. that thought, like this moment of sunlight on a little lake, takes my breath away.

Monday, January 09, 2012

vodka for every occasion

i saw this yesterday in germany and thought it was rather hilarious. and it's fitting for my mood this afternoon. just as i was headed in to teach my first class as part of a big new project, someone from the office called and nattered on about how pissed off these people were at "us" because she had been so incompetent in booking the actual classrooms. excuse me? you're sending me into a hornets' nest? and have made it seem like i'm also incompetent?  as you might imagine, this put me really right there where i needed to be to teach. i'm nervous enough, since it's teachers i'm teaching. i may have to pick up a bottle of this stuff next time i pop down to the border and put a big bow on it and give it to her.

speaking of vodka, there are a whole lot of new flavors of absolut - i'm not sure what i think about that and i didn't buy any. but i sure could use a shot a two before my evening meeting. it's one of those where we're usually on item 3 of a 10 item agenda at around 2.5 hours in. i actually thought about gnawing off my own arm to escape, like a fox caught in a trap, at the last one. i can tell you that i'm likely to go a bit postal (are we still allowed to say that?) if anyone makes fun of my accent this evening.  they're not likely to get out of that alive.

come to think of it, maybe a whole case of that fuck off vodka would be appropriate. gifts for all on my grudge list!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

birds of a feather

i sometimes long for the days of intellectual salons, which is a little bit weird, because i don't think they've really happened within my lifetime.  but you know the kind -  where smart people dropped by to discuss the issues of the day and the things that were in the air (and possibly had a side conversation or two about swearing infixes - you know, like un-fucking-believable) . they discussed and possibly caused the movements - in art, in politics. and they smoked and drank cocktails and planned intrigues and probably went home and made paintings featuring stark black squares.

instead, i do daily battle with the well-intentioned but lesser gifted (that sounds so much better in danish - mindrebegavet), the rumor-mongers and those who are decidedly shy of conflict.

i sometimes long for a literary/political salon so much it aches. and i wish we still lived in such times. i wonder if it's possible to make it happen again?

how does one get birds of a feather to flock together?