Friday, March 30, 2012

happy weekend!

15 days old. first taste of dandelion. great grandma's quilt. quite possibly the world's cutest bunny.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

naturally-dyed easter eggs

nettles (learned that they don't work), beets, turmeric, red cabbage + vinegar, red cabbage without vinegar
beets, turmeric, red cabbage + vinegar, red cabbage without vinegar. two eggs fit in each honey jar.
the dark blue is the result of the red cabbage without vinegar
the marbled look was produced by bubbles that appeared to be created by the vinegar in the dyes, as there were no bubbles in the jar without vinegar.

i made some easter eggs with natural dyes. i used the advice from here, despite the fact that one of the tags on that blog is about potty training. no potties were trained during the making of these eggs. i used stuff i had in my kitchen - red cabbage, beets, turmeric and i even tried some nettles (they don't work). i love the colors they turned out to be. the eggs were provided by our chickens. they're good that way. and while their eggs aren't white, they're a very light tan, so they color very nicely.

bunny metaphors

pile o'bunnies

there comes a time when you have to leave the safety of the group...

precious bun bun no. 1

and venture out on your own. of course, it helps if you have a bit of support.

it seems there really is something to the notion that in closing one door, another one opens. sometimes it just takes awhile to figure out which one to open next.

i think i've been afraid for so long to leave the support of a system provided by a company and just trust in my own abilities. but that's almost over now. and already i can tell that it's going to be a good thing.

i'm not sure if good things come to those who wait so much as good things come to those who make them happen.

Monday, March 26, 2012

magical place, magical light

we have this magical little forest at the end of our lake. i've actually told you about it before. it's a bit swampy and you've got to wear your wellies, but it's well worth walking down when you need to clear a bit of writer's block and calm your over-active mind. and with the sun at its setting angle on the horizon - it was better and more relaxing than a glass of wine.* the trees are close and it's a rather dramatic place. but also quiet and primordial and deep and waiting. almost breathing around you. and you can't help but feel that if you just held still enough, you would be witness to something magical.

*i bet you never thought you'd hear me say that. 

please disregard the dust

please disregard the dust
that's pretty much going to be my theme for the week...please disregard the dust. lots to do - proposals to revise, projects to start, pretty things to pin, pictures to take, thoughts to write. so much more exciting than dusting the windowsill.

happy monday.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


i saw this on maggie may's flux capacitor and it seemed the perfect thing to share on my mom's birthday:

"Shot in Fire Island, New York, this film (4min. 23 sec) captures the secrets of eternal youth as Maia Helles, a Russian ballet dancer turns 95 but still remains resolutely independent, healthy and as fit as a forty year old. Made by Julia Warr, artist and film maker met Maia on a plane 4 years ago and became utterly convinced by the benefits of her daily exercise routine, which Maia perfected, together with her Mother, over 60 years ago, long before exercise classes were ever invented. (2011)"

video by julia warr
music by lola perrin

happy birthday, mom, i hope you will also make it to 95 (and beyond)!

Friday, March 23, 2012

jumping for joy or spring has sprung

i love these peeps...

they promise weather like this all weekend, so we'll be playing outside.

what are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

on my birthday...

i should not have to:

~ change the litterbox
~ clean the chicken coop
~ muck the stalls

(hmm, there is a decided poo-related theme here)

~ or do any laundry.
~ or dishes.

but i should get to:

~ wander the yard in the fog with my camera (they promise it will burn off and the sun will shine).
~ gather the fresh warm eggs from the chicken coop (i get to do this every day).
~ stay in my pajamas as long as i want.
~ spend the entire morning on pinterest if i want to.
~ putter around in the garden.

this evening, we will:

~ go and see bonderøven - a charming self-sufficiency guy who has a t.v. program and should be quite entertaining.

* * *

it's funny, i'm not really that fussed about birthdays. my family got up this morning and made me breakfast and brought me a mug of steaming tea - it was a very nice way to wake up. but mostly, it feels like a regular day. i don't really feel older than i did yesterday, and 45 is just a number (30 + 15) - it isn't as old as it once was, says husband, who turned 47 last month.

sometimes it does seem strange that at a time when you're "supposed" to be settled in - with the perfect house and the perfect career - that we basically started all over again with a house that's a ten-year project (8 years to go) and i'm embarking on a new venture with new partners, rather than just having a paycheck every month. starting over when we're supposed to be comfortably enjoying the fruits of our previous labors.

but then, in the stillness of a foggy morning, i wander out to the pasture with my camera and i see the horses peacefully munching away at the grass that's springing forth. and even tho' it's not perfect - it's messy and a huge job and sometimes hard and frustrating - it just feels right.

i'm in the right place at the right time and exactly the right age.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

spring cleaning

these two springy 'bobs are nesting now that spring has arrived.
in honor of spring, i did a bit of freshening up around here today. if you checked in this morning my time, it was a big, giant mess, but i like it now, tho' i'm still looking for a good set of social media buttons - ones that include facebook, twitter, google+, instagram (look for me, i'm julochka, of course) and pinterest, as those are my bloggy-related social medias of choice. if you know of any, do let me know, as my searches for that particular combo have been in vain.

it is such a relief to have sunshine today. as you undoubtedly noticed, i get positively glum and navel-gazey in the grey, drizzly weather we've had of late. but just a little bit of sunshine turns it right around.  even our chickens have been joyful today and the horses are ecstatic that we put them out on the grass. it's like the weather knew that spring was officially here. and it was just in time.

i hope it's spring where you are (or autumn, if you're down under - that's my other favorite season).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

memorable meals

i woke up thinking about food. not because i was hungry, but because i go in streaks like that...where i feel inspired in the kitchen and the clock's turning to 5 doesn't fill me with dread because i have no idea what i'll make for dinner. i'm in one of those periods where that doesn't scare me, because i know i'll just open the fridge and make something yummy, even if i approach it without knowing what that something might be.

what i awoke thinking about was a fantastic salad i had at a spa restaurant in thailand. it was served in a beautifully-carved papaya and it had crunchy shreds of carrot and green mango, chili, cilantro, crab and peanuts.

it was tossed in a spicy dressing of chili, fish sauce and plenty of tangy lime. just writing about it makes my mouth water right now. it was actually on the edge of too spicy, even for me, who loves a bit of heat, but it felt right at that moment, like the heat of the dish caused me to sweat out the last toxins, not coaxed out by the massage i'd just had. it was the perfect end to my spa visit.

you have to forgive my utterly crap photo of it, it was before my photo obsession began, in addition to being taken at night with the dreaded flash - but it gives you a good idea of how beautifully presented it was. i can still remember scooping out the delicious, cooling, ripe papaya flesh after the salad was gone. it was truly a memorable meal.

memorable meals often occur when you're traveling and we remember less of the everyday meals we eat at home. i can still remember pulling into a little town called larissa in greece, late at night after a long day of driving. my traveling companions and i checked into a hotel and then wandered out to find something to eat. there was a big square lined with restaurants. old greek men sitting out on the warm summer night, having lively conversations over sweating bottles of ouzo at tables covered in actual red-checked tablecloths. we approached such a restaurant and found no one spoke much english, but with gestures and a visit to the kitchen where a lovely elderly lady, all clad in black, down to the scarf on her head, showed us what she could make. it was a simple meal of fish, but imprinted on my memory forever because of the experience and the feeling that we'd stepped onto a 1950s greek movie set.

i remember a meal of walnut-encrusted shark at the linn street café in iowa city in the early 90s. it was so good it actually brought tears to my eyes. i may have to try to duplicate that, tho' i don't think it's so politically (or environmentally) correct to eat shark anymore these days. maybe another fish would do. or perhaps even a steak, as shark has that dark, steak-like quality.

i remember wandering the streets of tokyo with a colleague, looking for a place to eat dinner. we saw some signs and went up to the 8th floor to a restaurant where you checked your shoes at the door (quite normal in tokyo, actually). we were seated in the window, looking down over shinjuku, teeming with shoppers and lit up with neon. however, it soon became apparent that our utter lack of japanese, coupled with a menu with few pictures and a waiter that lacked english meant that we had to reclaim our shoes and go. we ended up back at our hotel, where, tho' it was late, they served us up a fantastic meal. a series of delicious little dishes of all kinds of things - most memorable of which was the gorgeous, tender slices of real wagyu beef. i remember thinking that now i understood what the fuss was about.

and then, there was the wasabi bistro in seattle, where another colleague and i ate night after night during the ten days or so we were there. we couldn't stay away after sampling the white salmon sashimi. it's still the best i've ever had, even including tokyo.

what food do you remember?

Monday, March 19, 2012

museum of everyday reality or how she got pissy about pinterest

i have what is becoming a love-hate relationship with pinterest. i love that i can use it to find things again, rather than bookmarking 10,000 pages in my browser. i hate that everyone is up in arms over the terms. i love it visually - it just pleases my eye to open the page. i hate when random strangers categorize my boards. i love how it helps me see trends in my own taste and thinking and just generally gives me a big picture, holistic overview of what i want (e.g. with regard to the new kitchen). i hate all of the pretentiousness in the descriptions people write for their pins. here are just a couple from last evening:

~ people referring to salt as "artisan sea salt". what, have they painted little pictures on the salt flakes? (if so, i want to pin that!)

~ a reference to "butter and other primal fats" as ideal to serve on your fiddleheads. now i am as interested in foraging and found food as anyone and intend to learn more and eat a whole lot more of it this year, but really, do we have to be so PRETENTIOUS about it?

and this whole curation movement - pinners as curators. that just strikes me as so, to use the word again...pretentious.  i was rather disgusted by all of this last evening and so i picked up dubravka ugresic's museum of unconditional surrender to take my mind off of it. sometimes, you just pick up exactly the right thing to read at the moment you need to read it.

i opened to a page where dubravka wrote about ilya kabakov, a russian artist who illustrated children's books for status as a "legitimate artist" during the soviet years, but who lives today in new york and is known as "an archaeologist of the everyday," in the tradition of kurt schwitters, robert rauschenberg and others.  he gathers the detritus and everyday bits and pieces of trash, classifies them and makes them into art in order to make sense of reality. dubravka quotes the novel of a forgotten russian avant-garde writer, konstantin vaginov, "classification is one of the most creative activities. essentially, classification shapes the world. without classification there would be no memory. without classification it would be impossible to imagine reality." she characterizes kabakov as a descendent of this russian avant-garde tradition and describes his work, saying "the material of bureaucratized everyday life transposed on to magnified boards obliges the observer/reader to read into it his own meaning." and it hit me that it's what we're doing with pinterest.

this obsessive collecting and classification is quite possibly our attempt to find some kind of pattern, sense and meaning in a world that seems increasingly to have gone mad. of course, that mad world cannot help but impose itself on the classifications all the time in the form of pretentions designed to set us apart from the mundane everyday, and so we work against that which we ourselves construct. we want to find our own outlook of the world, our own conception of beauty, our own visual language with which to express our everyday. beautifully photographed. categorized. labeled. curated. one giant inspiration board in which we ultimately reveal the underlying kitsch of everyday reality. endlessly repinned and replicated.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

baby bunny love

mama mira gave this little one her white sugar-dipped nose.

2 grey, 2 calico and 2 white little darlings

mira, our super mama bunny, has had her second batch of babies. the daddy this time is samba, our first bunny. there are six and they are fat and happy if a little bit bald so far. i will surely be sharing more pictures of them as they get cuter. they'll be at their cutest just in time for easter!

mira and samba - immortalized as jacabobs by the fabulous kit lane.

happy sunday, one and all - if you fancy a bit of sunday baking, i recommend you bake these.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

the conventions of politeness

my child has a bad habit of never saying "please." it's not that she doesn't ask nicely otherwise, it's just that the word "please" is never included without prompting. this has been bugging the hell out of me of late. in some sense, she comes by it honestly, because danish has no word for please. there are nice ways of asking for things, but no one word that just means "please." mostly, danish uses a kind of distancing technique to ease the blow of what's being asked for. "would you be so friendly as to let me off the bus" (not that anyone would ever say that particular phrase, they just fidget at your side until you get the hell out of their way.) "pray, hand me the remote," "i would like to ask for a cheeseburger." "are you so sweet as to get me another martini?" and the like.  but "please" as a word and even as a concept is curiously absent.

and naturally, this got me thinking about other linguistic politenesses. like "bless you" when someone sneezes. i remember my mom saying when i was a kid that "bless you" was a holdover from a time when people thought you sneezed out your soul, so you needed to be blessed for it go back into place after a sneeze. mom thought that was quite a ridiculous notion, as our souls could not possibly leave our bodies in that way. so we didn't say "bless you" in our family. as a result, i always felt rather awkward when someone blessed me when i sneezed - i never really knew how to react. do you say "thank you," or express some sort of relief that you still have your soul? i never really knew. let's face it, no one really believes that you're sneezing out your soul, it's today a matter of simple linguistic convention/politeness. so really, why is it that we feel a need to acknowledge when someone sneezes? we don't do it when they burp or fart. aren't bodily functions in general best left uncommented?

another politeness convention that i don't get is the notion of telling someone hello through another person. this is one that there is a word for in danish - at hilse. when signing off a phone conversation or parting from a friend, they will often say, "hils familien" - "tell your family hello." and like with "bless you," i never really know what to do with that. i end up mumbling some awkward, "please tell YOUR family hello." but really, why on earth should they do that? if i want to greet them, i'll do that myself. and if they want to greet my people, they can do it themselves. plus, there's the whole fact that i don't do it. i don't pass along their greetings. it's too awkward and frankly, my family doesn't mind. they think nothing of not being helloed by whoever i talked to on the phone that day.

what weird linguistic conventions of politeness puzzle you?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

so far today...

i have:

~ broken up a serious rabbit fight.
~ fed the animals.
~ written some on my proposal.
~ picked my brain.
~ made a new friend.
~ stalked my new friend's pinterest boards.
~ folded laundry. and hung some up to dry.
~ downloaded iBooks Author.

i haven't:

~ gotten properly dressed.
~ combed my hair.
~ put on contacts.
~ yet played with iBooks Author.

i want:

~ a fainting couch.
~ a secret hideaway in the garden.

small madnesses:

~ changing all the capital letters to lower case when i repin.
~ mixing grains for bunny and chicken food (they contain some, but not all of the same ingredients).
~ even numbers.
~ talking in animal voice.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

reading steve jobs

reading the Steve Jobs bio

as all of my facebook buddies know, i'm reading walter isaacson's steve jobs bio. as a disciple of the religion of apple, i figured i should get to know my god a little better. as i was chatting away with cyndy about it on facebook, i looked down and noticed this rather a fitting scene on my desk - iMac, keyboard, the bio with steve's serious face on the cover, sabin's iPhone, an iPod touch and a 160GB iPod, and a postcard from google - so i took a quick instagram photo of it with my own iPhone.

i was a little bit worried about reading this book, because i kinda already knew that steve jobs was a bit of a volatile person and well, an asshole. i didn't want to ruin my love of the products created by his company by knowing more about it. i think it's why i let the book sit here while i read 4 cadfael mysteries - i was putting it off. happily, it doesn't seem to have put me off my beloved apple products. tho' i am slightly put off isaacson's dry, lifeless, chronological prose, the subject alone is compelling enough to keep me reading.

i think what i'm most struck by (and perhaps envious of) is the milieu in which the ideas steve had arose. he was truly in the right place at the right time. of course, he also had the right brain and what looks like the right sort of mental illness, but the fact that he was adopted by a family who lived in silicon valley just as it was becoming silicon valley and that he grew up there in that environment, surrounded by other computer-interested nerdy people and with access to mind-expanding drugs - it has resulted in the devices on my desk today. and they have changed the world. the confluence of circumstances and people is breathtaking. what if his mother hadn't given him up for adoption and had dragged him off to wisconsin? would there be an  today? or would silicon valley be in madison?

i'm also struck at how CEOs in the computer industry rise and fall - it's a volatile world and fortunes are made and lost overnight and companies change CEOs like we change shoes with the seasons. it's interesting that jobs, tho' fabulously wealthy, didn't go in for the giant house compound like bill gates or the yachts like paul allen and larry ellison. he didn't end up a philanthropist either, but my feeling is that he felt that was as much an ostentatious display of wealth as a yacht would have been. and oddly, it seems that he wasn't really in it for the money as much as he was for the thrill of designing the perfect, world-changing product. and he definitely did that.

he might have been a real jerk, but he had admirable drive, focus and dedication as well as vision and a solid sense of design and the details. and he created truly fantastic products that seriously bring me joy on a daily basis. it will be interesting to see if he left behind a company that is strong enough to continue on the revolutionary path without him.

Monday, March 12, 2012

husband's theories, evolutionary psychology and feminism

over morning tea, husband remarked that he felt that intuition was a realm that women had appropriated as their exclusive domain. his theory is that this is quite unfair from an evolutionary standpoint. if women were home in the camp, minding the hearth and keeping things organized, that required greater organizational skills - they became adept at packing and arranging and moving and setting up and unpacking and well, generally being organized. men, on the other hand, were hunters - ranging far out on the savannas, tracking animals and using their intuition to help guide them to when and where the best hunt might be. men should have honed their intuition skills to a much greater degree than women did.

i didn't have much argument for this because this morning, i woke up wrong. not on the wrong side of the bed, just wrong - do you know what i mean? the alarm went off at the wrong point in my sleep cycle and i was jarred awake at the wrong point, leaving me feeling heavy and a bit dull. so i just thought, "whoa, good argument, husband, but hey, SCORE for women to finally appropriate something that rightfully belongs to men."

then i had a great craic with judith about it (yay for gmail video chat) and she brought up the very interesting point that women actually did a lot of small game hunting around the camp and therefore had quite a developed sense of intuition - also as related to plants and what to eat and what not to eat. we concluded that the main problem was a tendency of evolutionary psychology (i never had a name for it before, but many of husband's theories are of this school of thought) to try to tidily chalk our behavior all up to biology, but that ultimately intuition and emotions are really quite thin in the archeological record, so it was pretty much impossible to guess at the intentionality of many things. most of all human behaviors. if it were up to the archeologists, everything would be chalked up to some kind of primitive ritual, when in actuality, maybe there have been a lot of people through the ages who just woke up wrong.

ok, i'm aware that got a little weird there at the end. but honestly, when you wake up wrong, it sets the tone for the whole day.

happy monday one and all.

*  *  *

p.s. i managed to get rid of that stupid new difficult captcha word verification thingie on the comments, but the new blogger interface doesn't make it easy. in fact, it's impossible in the new blogger interface - you have to revert to the old one to get rid of it. now that's a pain in the ass, wouldn't you say? (what were you thinking blogger?) but it should make it easier to comment again now. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

believe it or not...

this is going to be my new kitchen.  husband began digging it out and tearing down the old in earnest mid-February. in order to have a proper height to the ceiling, we have to dig down more than a half a meter. and by we, i mean husband.

sabin was allowed to spray paint a bit of graffiti on one wall. it doesn't matter much, as everything has to go. the graffiti says "far is cool, and mom is too." she's not a teenager quite yet.

this was part of the barn and we've heard tales from the neighbors that those who lived here before kept a boar in here. when we moved in, we could see that they'd had chickens inside. we've just had things stored here. with some straw bales and a smoke machine, its natural cobwebs made for a wonderfully spooky room for a halloween party.

the bearing beams in the room are metal and were salvaged from a little old railway track that once ran down to our lake, from back when they were digging out peat for fuel. it's really the only nice historical detail in the room. otherwise, husband is running into a wide variety of materials - apparently whatever they could scrounge to cobble things together over the years.

he found a lot of perfect round paving stones when he dug down about 40cm, so it once had a nice cobble floor (you can see a few of those in the foreground on this shot). he's saved them, so we can reuse them somewhere - perhaps in the patio area that will be outside this room when it's finished.

husband's working on the foundation for a new pantry - that's what all this nice brickwork is for. he's never really bricked before, but this is good practice and since he's such a perfectionist, it looks pretty awesome.

he wants to see the new pantry go in, because he says he needs to see some progress. i have to admit that i will be happy to see some as well.

the plan is for this to be a rather industrial kitchen - i've called it the curry kitchen in my head all the way along - as in the kitchen where you make your curries, to keep the rest of the house from smelling like curry all the time. but ultimately, it will be for canning and processing juice and even butchering the odd hog or perhaps even sheep. we'll tile with white subway tiles, have a stainless steel sink and countertop and everything will be easily hosed down and rinsed. i'd like it to be ready to have approved as a restaurant kitchen if we decide to go the bed & breakfast/café route someday.

it is going to be our real kitchen for some years - and as soon as it's in, i can get rid of the horrible pink one and we can tear down that part of the house. eventually, we will build an addition that will have a big new kitchen, heated by and built around an Aga. but this will be pretty good in the meantime. there will be room for a big island and for our kitchen table, so i'm certain it will become our favorite room in the house.

husband wanted me to include a closeup shot of his pretty brickwork. so please praise him! i will keep you posted on how it's going. as you can see, it's a rather big undertaking. and we've only found a few pig bones (at least i hope that's what they were) along the way.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

it's a colorful life

at least one small corner of my life is now organized. and isn't it pretty? a rather meditative activity for a cloudy saturday, watching back-to-back episodes of QI and dr. who (thank odin for the BBC). hope your weekend is colorful too.