Wednesday, November 28, 2012

when the storm clouds lift

i have been a storm cloud all day. it's one of those days where everything just feels aggravating. it's not that anything exactly is wrong, it just that it feels frustrating and pointless. it's surely more a symptom of SAD more than PMS and the grey, grey day didn't help. it also didn't help that the car was making a strange rattling sound. 

but things are beginning to look up. that rattling was just a non-essential piece that had rusted itself loose. we've ordered a new one and i can drive it in the meantime. sabin's class is doing a nativity scene this evening and we'll eat æbleskiver and glögg. and then i got a sweet mail from a new friend who works at the farm where molly came from in minnesota. in it, she asked me what i love about living in denmark. and that really helped. because i wasn't feeling much in love with anything today.

so, things i currently love about denmark:

~ that knowing danish gives you at least some ability to understand swedish, norwegian, dutch and german. at least the written bits.

~ the daily show on only one day's delay.

~ that it's not that long 'til the solstice and the light begins to return.

~ great drama

~ that a new julekalendar starts on saturday. (that's a christmas program that airs a new episode every day 'til christmas).

~ that the danes think christmas is on the 24th. this normally bugs the hell out of me, but this time, i'm looking on it as hey, two christmas meals!

~ going to sabin's christmas program and laughing with some of the other parents.

~ P1 - denmark's answer to NPR, only even better.

~ ny nordisk mad (new nordic food).

so a big thank you to jessica for shining a little light of positivity on my afternoon. i really needed that.

* * *

this is great - a lioness photographs her own poo with a canon dslr.

* * *

BBC radio 4 podcast on øresundsbroen.
i love how the professor says that lund university was built to swedify (read: civilize) the danes.

* * *

articles on the new feminism keep cropping up. this time, about crafting.
and tho' i think the writing is absolute crap in that piece, there are some interesting things to ponder.

* * *

the l boards on pinterest: ladders, lego my lego, let's play (this is work-related), looks interesting (mostly stuff to read with the occasional film), lysthus (my coming backyard refuge).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

in which she ponders writing and literary theory and feminism and doesn't come to any conclusions

26/11.2012 - here's where it all began

i can tell you that when every experience is fodder for your character sketches, it makes meetings ever so much more amusing. even better when you can actually sit with your laptop and type the scenes in directly, a sort of simultaneous transcription. i'm gleeful. and leaning increasingly towards fiction rather than anthropology. but it's a fiction that will contain an awful lot of truth. i'm hoping a plot will develop out of the character sketches, as i've got no idea of one at this moment. i'm just riding the waves of inspiration. and figuring that writing it is the best way to make sense of it all.

* * *

i fear i may be a member of the theory generation.
we thought we were so smart.
and we still are.
but at what price?

* * *

one of my facebook friends shared a link to this blog, which suggests that there is a new era coming - one in which women will take the lead and heal the earth. while i think this is a wonderful (if fanciful and slightly new agey) notion, i wonder if this person has spent any time at all with groups of women. because there's no one more hard on one another than women. we do more to keep one another down than any man ever even thought of doing to us. there is more manipulative game-playing among groups of women than anywhere else. if we're not sneering at one another, sniping, talking behind one another's backs or outright treating one another as invisible when we feel threatened by another woman's intellect or viewpoint or very presence, then we're scheming and jockeying for position. it would take a miracle for women to truly embrace the role of healer and begin to heal through peace and love. there might be less bombs, but i am absolutely certain the number of poisonings would rise.

i should note that i am by no means anti-feminist and i most fervently wish that women would start working together and stop dragging one another down. it's just that when i look around me, right here in my own community, i don't see it happening anytime soon.

i think i like the brand of feminism and femininity presented here (and embodied in lady gaga) much better. as halberstam says: "Gaga Feminism as embodied in certain eclectic performers does not promote a new liberal version of femininity, rather it inhabits wild terrains of sonic and political chaos in order to bring new forms of politics, culture, and gender to life." that sounds much more interesting than the earth mother, sit in a circle and gaze at our vaginas kind.

* * *

sabin and i are madly in love with the mean kitty.

* * *

the k boards (sorry, there are no j boards) on pinterest: kitchen goodness (this is one of the early boards), kulturhus inspiration related to my involvement in my local community).

some fun links and video entertainment

scandinavia takes britain by storm
mostly thanks to forbrydelsen - the killing - so i give you a little lesson in danish:

* * *

"Now what I am calling Gaga here certainly derives from Lady Gaga and has everything to do with Lady Gaga but is not limited to Lady Gaga."

there's more where that came from.

so nice to know that postmodernism is still alive and well in the academy.

* * *

a very catchy song about dumb ways to die.
it will be going through your head the rest of the day.
in a good way.

* * *

the i boards on pinterest: i made this, informative infographics, inspiration (this is one of the early boards, i've since divided it extensively and safe this only for stuff i really think i'd make), installations.

Monday, November 26, 2012

monday ephemera

you know what can totally make your monday? when someone starts it off by saying, "if you tell me to jump, i'll say how high." in fact, i think that's set the tone for my whole week - it's going to be a good one.

gold's curio store, sante fe
wouldn't you like to visit this place?
perhaps take in the monster show?

colorado, a pioneer merchant
this photo makes me think you don't have to have everything perfectly in order to be able to get started. you should just jump right in.
that's another motto for my week.

 these photos are from this fascinating collection of images of america from 1897 to 1924 by the detroit photographic company.

* * *

last week, the voynich manuscript, this week, the book of kells.

* * *

if you really love words and writing and even reading, read this.  
it will make you want to wake your verbs right up.

* * *

the h boards on pinterest: hairy, halloween, helleristning, homesteading, house ideas (this was one of my first boards on pinterest), husband could make this (a personal favorite).

closing in on 2000

not ordinary kittens
this is teddy. he's frankie's little brother - isn't he adorable?
before the year is out, i will write my 2000th post here on mpc. i'm not sure precisely when it will happen, but it seems like something worthy of celebrating. what do you think, how should we celebrate? a giveaway? a virtual party? a contest as to when it will be? i welcome any ideas!

* * *

it's hard to believe that i'm closing in on another year completed of my 365 photo project - i started formally in 2010, but looking back over my various iPhoto libraries, i actually began taking photos every day when i got my nikon d60 back in may 2008, i just didn't realize at that point that it was a project. that's a lot of photos. and i intend to keep going - it's a great way of remembering what was happening when. and it also means i've always got photos for my blog posts.  but best of all, it makes me take at least a few minutes every single day where i am totally aware of my surroundings and in the moment - the moment of the click of the shutter.

* * *

remember that post i did with a bunch of close-ups of my friend's beautiful embroidery piece? well, i was there again on sunday and managed to get a shot of the whole thing!

embroidered tapestry

* * *
the g boards on pinterest: gaga for garlands. garden bounty. gardens. gone fishin' (another favorite visually). great graphics.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

the wind is a-howling

the wind is howling outside and it's been raining all day. we had a great afternoon celebrating a belated (and vegetarian) thanksgiving with friends. there was a hilarious game of cranium, which the boys came back and won after the girls (being me and j) utterly failed to guess sabin's brilliant (eyes-closed) drawing of a rainforest. honestly, we deserved to lose. but at least there was a beautiful pie.

25/11.2012 - cranberry pie

tonight was the last episode of the brilliant danish crime show, forbrydelsen (the killing).  an enigmatic ending, especially since they say they won't make another series. but i won't say more as it's just starting in the UK and i don't want to spoil it. suffice it to say it's definitely worth watching. dark and ominous and so capturing the state of society and power today.

24/11.2012 - theatre evening - smilet er den korteste afstand

we went to a play last night - a real live theatre production. it was a two-person performance at mungo park in kolding - smilet er den korteste afstand (a smile is the shortest distance). it was a very good and thought-provoking performance. there's just something about live theatre - it gets at the whole range of emotions in such an immediate and raw way - one that television or even film simply can't. the two actors were very talented - singing, clowning one minute and very dramatic the next. it was a grueling 90 minute performance for them and they took us on an emotional roller coaster ride, and all they had onstage with them was a grand piano. very brilliantly done. we've got to prioritize seeing more theatre in 2013.

quite far from Mexico. #latergram

afterwards, we had dinner with our friends at a mexican restaurant. for some reason i never learn not to eat mexican food at restaurants in denmark. it's always disappointing. and has little or nothing to do with real mexican food, tho' the chicken in my burrito was really good, it wasn't really particularly mexican. there's no spicy kick to it (don't be misled by the pickled jalapeños) and they always put creme fraiche in the guacamole. plus they used parboiled rice - that stuff should be outlawed. but the company was good and it was a very nice evening.

* * *

what's the best thing you've read in 2012?

* * *

oh, i like this blog (in danish). 

* * *
the f boards: feathersfeltedfood porn - savory. food porn - sweet. forage. Foraging (shared board, hence the capital letter). foxy (this is one my favorites visually). future thinking.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

fog brings clarity

i love a foggy morning. with the fog, there's a hush, a dampening of the noise of the world. out of the fog comes, most strangely, a kind of clarity. likely due to the stillness and the quiet - we finally breathe deeply and our heads clear in the silence. as i wandered the yard, taking these photos, only a few minutes ago, the only sound (other than the occasional crow of one of our many roosters), was the occasional plop of big drops falling from the trees. it brought such a feeling of calm over me.

i find my thoughts already turning to the end of the year and to the new year ahead, from what has been to what may yet be. looking towards what may be approaching out of the fog, but feeling quite unafraid of it, instead, looking forward with a tingle of excitement that comes of the stirrings of imagination as to what may be.

* * *

slavoj zizek is a lunatic. he keeps his clothes in the kitchen cupboards.
(hmm, might be worth pondering why i feel that's a symptom of lunacy.)

* * *

it was time someone said this about anthropologie. 

* * *

the meeting i attended on wednesday (which, for the first time i can remember, has actually inspired me to think i have a novel in me and not just non-fiction) was well-reported in our local paper.  (only in danish, but if you can read it, you should). the best bit about it that you should know is that while brock is a name, if you leave out the c, it means both complain and hernia and that in pronunciation, the two words are indistinguishable. and if you only knew how very fitting that was in the context. there is a changing of the guard from old to young and it's painful for all concerned. don't you think that's a good underlying story for a novel?

* * *
the e boards: Education (a shared board, work-related, hence the capital letter), environmentally consciousethnicexcess of eggs.

Friday, November 23, 2012

influences, pastiche, fusion: thoughts on the creative process

i'm reading nicole krauss' great house. she's a marvelous writer that i only discovered this past summer when a friend lent me her novel the history of love. she's a writer of the holocaust, but at the same time very contemporary. back in the mid nineties at arizona state, i took a class called the holocaust in american literature. we didn't read anything nearly as marvelous as krauss back then (of course she hadn't written these books yet at that point as she was probably still in high school). i hope they've added her books to the syllabus, as they get at holocaust issues in a much deeper and more profound way than anything we read then (painted bird, sophie's choice, etc.). but perhaps that's a natural progression of things, as we gain more distance from the horror, it can be better and more artistically processed.

but i didn't mean to write about holocaust lit. what i meant to write about is her style - a pastiche of seemingly separate stories that intertwine at the end. because it got me thinking about how things connect. and how nearly everything is a sort of amalgamation of influences that start out separate and come together.

i think i see this fusion of influences most often in my cooking - it often contains elements from my upbringing, my travels and my surroundings. last evening, it being thanksgiving which is not (shock!) a holiday here and thus you don't have the whole day to devote to cooking like you do in the US, i found myself wanting to make a turkey anyway. since it was just an ordinary weekday dinner and with all of our ordinary obligations, i didn't have hours and hours to cook, so i bought a turkey breast. i slathered it with a purchased garlic cream cheese and topped it with a protective layer of bacon to keep it from drying out. then i asked husband and sabin to dig me some potatoes (it hasn't frozen yet, so the best storage place for them is in the ground), which we peeled and sliced and put in the oven with leeks and cream and butter for a batch of traditional danish flødekartofler (tho' not that traditional, since they don't usually contain leeks). i didn't have any sweet potato, so i baked up a butternut squash, which i served simply with butter, salt and pepper, foregoing any cloyingly sweet marshmallows or brown sugar. so in the end, it was a thanksgiving of sorts, but using both the time constraints and the ingredients i had at hand. thanksgiving enough to make me feel less sorrowful that i was far from my family on the day and yet simple enough to be made on an ordinary weeknight.

but i've been thinking about influences as well where creating is concerned. trying out stitching on felted stones ala lisa or using the photo transfer techniques i learned of from artist anne brodersen. we try out someone else's style or technique in order to get a feel for it. copying something is a way of learning, as well as a sort of homage to someone whose work you admire. such copies, i look upon as experiments and not by any means something i would put in my sadly neglected big cartel shop. they are but a step on the road towards something else, something my own, but i sense they are an essential step of sorts, even tho' i don't yet know where they're taking me.

* * *

here's the deal, people, swatch watches from the 90s are not vintage. 
i don't give a rat's ass what etsy says.

* * *

* * *
the d boards on pinterest: down by the lakedown on the farmdrinkie poo.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

giving thanks

tho' the danes have sadly not realized that thanksgiving is the best holiday (they still think it's christmas, which they actually celebrate on christmas eve), i am determined to be thankful today anyway. so i hereby declare that i am thankful for:

~ husband. he's a keeper. (i think i might have mentioned that before.)
~ sabin. i thought i'd be freaked out to see her getting so tall and wearing mascara and hogging the flat iron, and locking the bathroom door, but i'm not. she's exactly the age she should be. and it's a pleasure to see her growing up and thinking for herself. i'm in awe.

~ the kittens. six weeks must be the cutest age.
~ that i've taken a photo every day since may 2008.
~ going to a play with a group of friends on saturday.
~ being involved in my community.

~ horses. they ground me and keep me sane.
~ good books.
~ moments in the kitchen, making good food.
~ staying up late with friends, drinking wine and laughing.

~ ideas, solutions, opportunities.
~ being provoked to think - by the radio, the newspaper, the interwebs, by people around me.
~ new friends. and old ones.
~ creativity that seems to be coming back to me.

~ living the right life.

i wish you all a very happy thanksgiving!

* * *
the c boards on pinterest: camera porn, cat person, ceramics, clever cookie, color, converse, crazy chicken lady, cupcakes are not muffins (but they might be cake), cutie patootie.

maybe i'm an anthropologist

i had a dream last night that i got lost in mall of america and couldn't find any exit. i knew going to that place would haunt me. of course, my dreams have taken place in a large mall for years, but they hadn't for awhile now. this time, i was aware that it was mall of america, whereas previously, it was the mall in my mind (a strange amalgamation of various malls in manila and singapore and possibly arizona). it's one of those dreams where i don't precisely remember what was happening other than that i couldn't find the exit and had wandered into one of those rather dimly-lit abandoned wings of it, but it's been flashing into my head all day. it feels a little bit like i never really woke up from it properly.

* * *

i am so writing a book about this little town where i live (and probably the one where i grew up, since the types are similar). i gathered another set of character sketches this evening. we've got the one who fancies himself king, the troglodyte (sometimes hard to tell from the wanna-be king), we've got the cranky retired schoolteacher(s) who fear change and want everything to be as it always was and odin forbid we try something new, we've got the town drunk (who also happens to be a moron), we've got the charming eccentric, the earnestly engaged, we've got the upstart newcomer who is trying way too hard, we've got the politically astute, two local reporters, the welfare recipient and the one who calms everything down with humor. oddly, there are few women, i'm going to have to go back and observe some more.

i wonder if i might actually be an anthropologist.

* * *

a little sad about not having a proper thanksgiving. the danes still haven't realized it's a holiday (despite realizing in the 15 years i've been here that valentine's day (which is totally made up by those flower people) and halloween are) so no turkey for us tomorrow. unless i spontaneously go acquire one. which would make my child happy. she's got some american genes, apparently, as she does love turkey. but i sure wish i was going to be together with my family! i'll at least have to make something pumpkiny tomorrow (later today?) and possibly a large chicken if i can't find a small turkey (denmark seems to think that duck is where it's at holiday birdwise).

* * *

a new blog friend, who i met via the dinner list group on facebook. i only learned today she blogs (see what i mean about facebook diluting things?). and she also loves danish crime shows.

* * *

you really must visit this odd and wonderful place - the odd luminary.

* * *
the b boards on pinterest:  beautiful things, blue room (because i will have one again), bobbaloos, braids, and bunny rabbit.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

back to basics

i remember a time when i rushed to my blog to share every stray thought that excited me. or to share all of the good links i came across in the course of my day. things like this - the whole voynich manuscript, online and available for your perusal - maybe you'll be the one who cracks it!

but my blogging is diluted these days by other venues - primarily facebook, but also pinterest (for the pretties i used to share), google+ (where i put links to articles and websites that i want to find again - does anyone bookmark in a browser anymore?), twitter (for the quickie shares that reach a different audience than those i put on facebook). not to mention instagram (i'm julochka there too, look for me) (tho' i mostly post all my instagram photos to FB, twitter and flickr as well). it's all very diluted. and i think i don't want it to be. i want this to be the space which serves as repository of the things which interest me at a particular moment - my memory, if you will. i'm not sure when it changed or how or why, but it did. and i'm going back (well, not entirely, as i do like pinterest as a format - it's what i always wished flickr could be - a place to categorize and save pretty and inspiring images and be able to find them again). and speaking of flickr, is it dead yet? i use it only for my 365 project and as a place to easily retrieve instagram photos for use in blog posts. but i want my blog to be where i store my memories and my thinking and well, my brain. somehow i got away from that.

thoughts like these:

~ what if the voynich manuscript was just someone's art journal and they wrote it in a language of their own, so no one could read it?

handwriting (mine)

~ is handwriting inherited? in my own handwriting i see shades of my dad's and my aunt's. is how i write (scrawl, scribble, whatever you want to call it) mandated there in the very architecture of my hand?

~ this is very interesting - niels peter flint on micro living:

i'm clearly not thinking big enough.

* * *

and as for pinterest, i've decided to share some highlights here. i currently have 98 different boards on pinterest. here are the ones starting with a: art journal/collage and atmosphere. check them out, i guarantee you'll find pretty, inspiring things.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

little me on a leaf

a little update on my experiment in photo transfer. it turned out a bit better than i thought it might, tho' you may not think that looking at this. it's very fragile (hence the bits still clinging to it). i'm hoping that tomorrow when it's totally dry (you have to wet it to remove the transfer paper), a few more will brush off and i can do a little wax dip to strengthen it for some stitches. quite a fun little experiment.

here's the original photo i used:

still not danish enough

the interesting part of living in another country is that you can almost constantly play anthropologist. of course, the danger of playing anthropologist is that you never really fully let yourself be part of things. and when you forget to play anthropologist and you try to belong, you can get burned. but  the good news is that you can return to playing anthropologist. (and by you i mean me.) last evening, i managed to strike a good balance - being involved and then retreating to observing (and trying unsuccessfully to understand) the natives in their natural habitat.

i've come to realize that like any little town, this one is a real peyton place. it just takes awhile to work out all of the characters. and so far, really, the only real vices i've encountered are petty power struggles and conflicts of interest, not all that other peyton place stuff (tho' after some real painted piece of work cows women showed up at the concert a couple weeks back, i do suspect the other stuff exists as well, just not in my crowd).

so, last evening at a meeting i questioned the sequence of some emails regarding public funding of our little group's efforts, with some board members being copied in and asked for feedback earlier than others. in response, instead of an explanation,  i was given a rather pedagogic, fist pounding on the table, shrill lecture about how danes trust their democracy and i'd better start doing so as well. but not really a very satisfactory explanation of why some were involved and asked for feedback and some were not, despite all board members being equally board members. forgive me if that makes me a bit suspicious as to what's going on. especially as the minutes from the previous meeting (which i did not attend due to other commitments) didn't contain any reference to an agreement to seek such funding, tho' there was a reference to speak to a politician (none of the mails i eventually saw involved said politician). and while i respect initiative, it would seem to me that not only a select few should be involved, especially on questions of money. so i will continue to question these things until it's proven that i can trust.

i just did a little google search for articles and statistics on different cultures' trust in the public sector.  a norwegian report i came across suggested that traditionalists tend to have higher trust than modernists, who have more suspicion of the public sector. my own situation would seem to prove that to be true. the one fist-poundingly and pedagogically telling me that now she'd had enough of my lack of trust and that i'd better dane-up in my trust levels would definitely be a traditionalist. (she also happens to be the one who frequently "forgets" to include me.) (hmm, do i begin to smell the faint aroma of xenophobia?)

it's interesting that it came down to an argument of my not being danish enough in my thinking, rather than a question of the way in which our board functions as a group. i'd say that if you can't come up with a good argument for why you've done something, and on top of it, when questioned, you look sheepish and guilty about it, maybe you shouldn't have done it. and if you want me to trust you, you'd better start demonstrating trustworthy, inclusive, open, transparent behavior.  especially where public monies are concerned.

Monday, November 19, 2012

monday enthusiasm

i often wake up on monday morning, full of energy, ready to face the week head on. it generally helps if there is sunshine. but monday mornings, i am full of ideas and full of enthusiasm. i always make a list for the week. oddly, i seldom refer to it as the week progresses, but i do often complete the majority of the items on it - somehow the act of making the list hones my focus. and odin knows i need that.

i think my reading of crossing the unknown sea has me feeling especially empowered and enthusiastic this morning. the book is a deep philosophical musing on the nature of work and how it shapes our identity.  i think the writer i can most compare david whyte to is alain de botton and his musings on architecture and travel. his words leave me fortified and feeling brave.

"whenever we attempt something difficult there is always a sense that we have to wake some giant slumbering inside ourselves, some greater force as yet hidden from us. we look for better work by first looking for a better image of ourselves. we stir this inner giant to life in order to find the strength to live out the life we want for ourselves." 

"to wake the giant inside ourselves, we have to be faithful to our own eccentric nature and bring it out into conversation with the world." 

i mentioned this book the other day and how i felt i picked it up at precisely the time i needed the words contained within, and then whyte said that himself, "a time when paths cross at exactly the moment when both writer and reader are ready to know something of the territory through which they have passed and a glimpse of the unknown future which might lie ahead." 

on a sunny monday morning, i feel an incredible impatience and unbearable exuberance for whatever that unknown future holds. and the strength and the will to shape it myself.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

the view from sunday night: making things and reading books

still playing with the transfer glue. although it's made for transfer of photos to fabric, i found it worked much better to transfer to paper - the fabric ones didn't turn out at all. my plan is to stitch on this one, ala the techniques that anne brodersen showed a few weeks ago. so far, i've just brushed it with beeswax (from our very own hives) to give it a bit more body. husband thinks i should leave it as it is, but i haven't decided yet if it's done.

in the spirit of experimentation, i decided also to try transferring onto a leaf. it's an old photo of little me! i'll have to see how it turns out tomorrow once it's dry.

it may be that a leaf is too fragile, but i like the idea of it.  it's all an experiment at this stage.

we made a bunch of felted stones last weekend and, using my fabulous friend lisa's tutorial, i've tried my hand at stitching on them, like she does (only she does it much, much better). it's fun, but difficult and gives me even more admiration for her amazing work. i love french knots and variegated thread, but on about every 5th knot i get a big tangle that looks really ugly, so i've got a long way to go on these. and besides, they're lisa's idea, so i would definitely not want to have any commercial gain with them, so they're just for me, unless i find my voice with them.

lisa wrote recently about her process of stitching the stones. i had a bit the same feeling, that i had no real idea what was going to happen when i began and that something just comes out. for lisa, the stitches echo nature, i think for me (and for sabin), they might be more a reflection of a mood. and one of them REALLY didn't work (i snipped it all out before photographing it, so i'm sparing you the sight of it).

this one was sabin's attempt - i love how bright and cheerful it is. i think it's the best one so far.

i also played with bright and cheery after seing sabin's. after taking the photos, i decided this one needed more french knots. this one started to go more in a me kind of direction, but i'm not there yet.

there's something about holding wool and the heaviness of the stone that's very appealing, soothing and meditative. and while i was working, an idea came to me, so i'm not quite done with these yet (stay tuned - it got dark and i couldn't execute the idea as of yet) - it involves sneaking into husband's workshop and using power tools!).

the last one i worked on today, i decided to cut a little window into it. i think sometimes that cutting into something i've made is the hardest thing for me. i really had to force myself to do it. at first, i saw this little fabric birdhouse in the window, but as i worked with stitching the raw edge, that changed a bit. i'm not sure where this one's going yet either, but it's just really nice to be feeling inspired and making things again. who knows? maybe i'll end up with a few stocking stuffers.

when i wasn't stitching or entertaining guests or staying up late drinking wine and laughing, i was reading - i've got four books on the go right now. errol morris' believing is seeing (observations on the mysteries of photography), salman rushdie's joseph anton, david whyte's crossing the unknown sea, and nicole krauss's great house. so something for every mood.

what did you do with your weekend?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

still pondering those photos from the crimean war

no. 1

no. 2
i went on a frenzy today and switched around our living room (read: room where we watch television) with our dining room (read: room where we never sat to eat dinner because we were too busy watching television). in the process, i messed up my thumb in a badly-installed door (grr to those people we bought the house from - i'm still bitter towards them) and dropped the extremely heavy and two-meter long unwieldy dining table on my foot (hello giant bruise). but after several hours of swearing, vacuuming and sweating more than i'd like to admit, the result was that we ate our cheese soufflé and simple salad at the actual dining table and then stayed there for and hour and a half, as a family, talking and drawing and laughing. wow, what a difference it made!

during our discussion i showed husband the two roger fenton photos from the crimean war. and interestingly, husband had an entirely new perspective on them, one not mentioned in the errol morris book (which i love even more now after chapter 4 - about the FSA photos taken by walker evans and others during the depression...more about that soon). and one definitely not mentioned by susan sontag in her take on the photos.

husband looked at them as a soldier and an officer. i told him there was controversy over the sequence of the photos. it was known that that were taken on the same day during the same shoot, but that the interpretations of the meaning of them were different depending on which one you thought was taken first.  you also recall that i didn't tell you what morris' conclusion was (i still think you must get the book - via your library, i'm not advocating consumerism (tho' i want to own this book now)).

husband's take is that no. 2 is first, because it represents a "before" shot - tho' after a barrage of shelling by the russians. before in the sense of before the road was cleared for the soldiers to pass with their wagons and horses and continue the war. no. 1 comes after it was cleared.

what do you think?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

wanted: thieves of a bronze age mini skirt

i've actually shared these shots with you previously. but i just learned that back in september, this replica of the egtved pige's (egtved girl) clothing was stolen from a display at her grave near egtved (a little town not too far from where we live). it's a copy of the clothing found on her that was painstakingly reconstructed in 1980-81 by susanne magelund, using the sort of materials and methods that the original garment had been made of.

the good news is that the weaving group at my favorite little museum in randbøldal is going to take on the project of constructing a new version of the clothing during 2013. if i get my act together and go there a bit more often, i may even get to be part of the process! (and i might try to convince them to make an extra skirt for me - i still think that's a pretty cool design and i do like me a short skirt.)

i think it's magical that there are groups of volunteers who have both the notion and the guts to take on such a project. the original dress, which is safe in the national museum in copenhagen is 3300 years old and one of the best-preserved textiles of its kind ever found. it's pretty awesome that a group of people with equal measures of passion and curiosity want to undertake duplicating such an amazing garment.

but boo to those jerks who stole it. i suppose they thought it was the original and would be worth a lot of money. i imagine when they found out it wasn't, that they callously threw it away somewhere. it's such a shame.

authenticity in photography

loving this book! if you're interested in the meaning of photography, get it!

i picked this book up from the library yesterday (i've been waiting for it for ages). i sat down with it and didn't put it down again until the end of chapter 2 - the television remained off and dinner was leftovers warmed in the oven. i was riveted.

chapter 1 is an exploration and analysis of two photographs taken by roger fenton (famed as the first photographer of war) in 1855 in the crimea - valley of the shadow of death is the name of the photo. there are actually two versions - one with cannonballs strewn on the road and one without. the controversy is whether fenton staged the shot for dramatic effect by spreading out the cannonballs (as susan sontag suggested in her last book regarding the pain of others) or whether the cannonball shot was taken first and then they were picked up and recycled by the british soldiers.

here are the photos in question (i found them here):

without cannonballs on the road

with cannonballs on the road

morris goes through a fascinating journey (literally traveling to the crimea to find the spot where the photo was taken) and a compelling analysis of whether it matters which shot came first and why it seems to be so important to us, as humans, to assign meaning. after all, posing a shot isn't necessarily a deception, but why do we have an impulse in us to think it is?

and simply as a photo, there is definitely more drama in the shot with the cannonballs on the road and in my google image search to find the shots for this post, it is by far the more reproduced of the two shots. was it a decision made by the photographer for the sake of drama? or a coincidence that he came upon such a scene? what are the implications of trying to capture war in photos? (or in words, as he quotes tolstoy's sebastopol sketches as well (my favorite tolstoy, if i have to like something of his)).

as morris concludes, " it unnatural to have people move cannonballs? Or inauthentic? Aren't these photographs of human events--even if there are no people in the frame. They are photographs about war. The effects of war. Is war itself natural or authentic? The concepts of naturalness, authenticity, and posing are all slippery slopes that when carefully examined become hopelessly vague."

after subjecting the photos to extensive analysis (shadows, light, etc.), he does make a conclusion as to which photo came first. but rather than tell you what that conclusion is, i'll insist that you get this book from your local library (i'll bet you won't be able to restrain from writing in it either) and read it for yourself.

do come back and tell me what you think - i think the question at the heart of it is one of authenticity, something i think we're all desperately searching for in what seems like a world gone mad (which is probably why this book speaks to me so strongly).

i want to continue this conversation.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

molding the territory of my own belonging

"i began to work the clay of my own life again, to mold the territory of my own belonging." - david whyte, crossing the unknown sea

i'm reading david whyte's crossing the unknown sea: work and the shaping of identity. i have this notion that we come to the books we need to read at the moment we need to read them. and if we come to them at the wrong time, they don't speak to us (the snow child is just not doing it for me and i'm going to return it to the library without finishing it). it's not the book's fault, it's something within. but when the book and your need align, hello! it's magical.

my encounter with last evening's troglodyte reminds me that i have spent a number of years trying not to be defined by what i do for a living. this is partially because i think that the nature of work is changing and partially because i don't think that my work (or my car or my house) is who i am, i'm far too complex for that.

thus, i only reluctantly listed my current (and several former) workplaces in my mini-bio on our group website because i have come to feel that it is expected of me. plus, the things i have done lend credibility to me and my story. no one in denmark can bring themselves to look down on someone who worked for denmark's biggest, most revered company and people also have respect for those who have their own business. so i have ended up in a position where i felt like i had to list those things to be considered legitimate. otherwise, i'm just some foreigner trying to horn in on local business. (if you can make out danish, you'll notice that many of the members have listed how long they're lived in town to boost their credibility.)

for two years, i answered the question of "what do you do?" with a list of the many things that fill my days - horses, kittens, chickens, cooking, laundry, writing, photographing, gardening, conversations, thinking, volunteering, sharing, laughing...but people look at you like you're mental when you do that. a few got it, but mostly, they acted like they thought my danish was bad and i had misunderstood the question. that begins to eat away at you after awhile, so you just revert to custom. perhaps i gave up too easily.

maybe it's time to begin to work the clay of my own life again, to mold the territory of my own belonging.

Monday, November 12, 2012

there's a new troglodyte in town

never underestimate the bitterness of the losers of small-time local politics. nor frankly, the bitterness of the big-time national sort. i've read things in the past week that would make your toes curl. but this is about the local sort.

the local group that i became part of back in june, has a website that's in its baby, infant stages. i say baby, infant stages, because websites take time. you can't have everything there all at once. for one thing, that would be dumb in terms of google searches (we're already dumb enough in that area, as our website name contains both the word "give" and the word "live" - just imagine how the google algorithms down-prioritize those common words) and for another, it takes time to build up content. stories take time to tell. it's the nature of stories. and projects. and life. and websites.

one of the few things we can put there, because we know it at this stage, is a little mini-bio of the board members. since in denmark, like most of the world, one is where one works, my profile includes a reference to my company. sans link, i might add.

this evening, a few members of the group received a series of mails from one of the bitter folks who wasn't elected that evening back in june, complaining about the "advertisement" for my company on the site. the mention in my profile is no more an ad than the two who work for the local schools mentioning them by name are advertisements for the schools. or the treasurer who mentions the business she works for (her husband's business) or the chairman, who mentions having his own architect firm. we are where we work, so i can see nothing wrong with mentioning that. and i have to say that it pretty much pisses me off to be accused of advertising for doing so. it seems you're damned if you don't say where you work and damned if you do.

what do you think? is it an advertisement to include your work information in your profile on an association website? or when i answer an email question about the site and my automatic signature includes my phone and workplace, is that out of line? these are my contact details, so i'm easy to reach. is that really out of line?

danish has a great way of describing a guy like this...his shoes are too small. way too small. 

skipping through my mind

distant friends.
fragments of ideas.
snippets of information.
snatches of inspiration.
questions, always questions.

beginning to make things again.
experimenting with photos and transfer glue and wax from our beehives.
why is making such a fleeting thing?
i feel it drift from me, just out of reach.
and then it drifts back.
i wonder how to make it stay?

pink and blue morning skies.
pink and blue felted stones.
we learned how to make them here.
ours are kind of lumpy and rather large.
but i learned a lot about wool quality.
no more cheap roving from the dollar store,
no matter how pretty the colors may be.
probably going to need some sheep.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

snazzing up your headphones

a little how-to, since i've not done one in ages. i pinned this on pinterest and was inspired to adjust the idea a bit. we have loads of perler (beads) lying around and sabin doesn't really use them that much anymore, so we decided they'd be perfect for decorating and protecting our iPhone headphones.

so here's what we did - we sorted into the colors that wanted and placed what we thought was approximately the right amount into small bowls.

then we took a sharp, small knife and carefully made a cut on one side of each bead. we tried to do it with nail scissors, but found that our thumb and forefinger quickly became too sore for that. a knife and a small cutting board were much better.

you can see the slice in this one - it takes a little bit to get the hang of it and not accidentally slice both sides, but you'll quickly catch on.

sabin did almost all of hers, prying the cut bead apart with her fingernails - that also became painful after awhile and there were tears and a temper tantrum. i told her sometimes you have to suffer for your art. but then she hit upon the idea of holding the bead open with a bobby pin so that it could be slipped onto the cord much more easily. ingenius, i tell you.

what takes the longest is sorting and cutting each bead - with the bobby pin technique, it only took about half an hour to actually put them all on the cord. it looks cool, protects the cord and makes it much harder for it to tangle up. plus, we can tell whose is whose at our house now. sadly, husband won't let us do his, even tho' we promised to choose boy colors.

on the cord - i don't think they'll fall off, nor can you really see the cuts once they're in place.

my pattern was random, but sabin chose to do regular rainbows, all the same. both work very well.

it makes a  great sunday afternoon activity on a grey and rain day.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

midlife crisis: an update

i told you previously about husband's midlife crisis. and now there's been enough developments that i thought it was time for an update. the roof is on, the electricity was hooked up this week and yesterday, the saw itself arrived.

the part i'm not entirely clear on is why the building had to be quite so large when most of the saw is outside. of course, when it's not in use, it is inside the building, protected from the rain. husband says he'll move the rest of his workshop out there, so i'm thinking it's a good thing.

husband was like a little boy on christmas morning, tho' he looks quite serious here, as he tests it out on a log.

one of his buddies from down the road brought several logs over for him to practice on. he's got to get the hang of it and get it calibrated. sadly, i missed getting a shot of all of the men, standing around, gazing lovingly upon the saw.

here's the back side of it - not as fetching as the front. it's also much heavier than it looks - 285 kilos - it required heavy machinery to lift it into place. the guy operating the heavy machinery, when asked how much we owed him, said, "just let me come by and watch you saw one day." "it's a deal," said husband. that's what's nice about living in the countryside.

i think it's fitting that husband got a swedish saw, since he's half swedish.

another boy toy arrived this week - a new old tractor. you might recall our other tractor, where i asked you to help us name it. i never followed through on the naming ceremony because basically after driving over here, that tractor never started again. that was a bit of a letdown.

but husband is currently outside, scooping dirt around as i write this, so this one works. and it also needs a name - all suggestions are welcome!

i think his midlife crisis is coming along quite nicely.