Thursday, February 28, 2013

in the company of women

our torso project approaches. 26 women. a shitload of plaster for casts. nudity. breasts. i'm both excited and worried. honestly, there will be no hiding. i'm not super fond of my body. and it's going to be cast in plaster for all to see. and for posterity. and let's face it, gravity isn't kind. and i'm not getting any younger (tho' i did recently realize that i've thought, for nearly a year, that i was already thirty-sixteen and it turns out that i will only be that on march 22. however, i'm not sure at this age that it makes that much difference.

but i'm looking forward to the laughter and high spirits that will undoubtedly ensue on friday afternoon and most of saturday. bonding. laughter. art. in the company of women. they all have breasts too. and they're undoubtedly about as fond of theirs as i am of mine.

if you were going to pick music for such an event, what would it be?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

on the road again

i had a little road trip over to copenhagen, where i spent a few days learning something new. i've done translations before, but never for subtitles for a television program. i can tell you, it's not easy!! there's no script, so i have to listen and translate and make the translation fit the allotted space, after marking precisely where the translation should start and end. quite a fun task, but not one that satisfies my need to do things quickly, as it's simply not a quick process. the drive over and back was just the kind of road trip i needed - blasting the stereo, singing along with hotel california at the top of my lungs. that kind of trip will clear your head nicely.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

the gift of NOMA

i got this lovely surprise yesterday in the mail from bloggy (and real life) friend sandra in minnesota. she's not blogging that much these days (facebook has ruined blogging in many ways), but i link you to her blog anyway. i had lamented some time back (undoubtedly on facebook) that the library wanted their copy of NOMA's cookbook back and i was regretfully allowing them that. and now i have a copy of my very own! the photography is stunning and tho' i lack liquid nitrogen in my home kitchen, i am actually going to attempt some of the recipes. i've not actually been to NOMA in copenhagen, which has been crowned the best restaurant in the world the past several years and has 2 michelin stars, but i have been to several restaurants where the chefs were trained there. they've had a huge influence on the food culture of denmark and scandinavia - there's in general much more focus on local and unusual ingredients (hay, for one) than there was before the new nordic food revolution they've led.  i've given the book pride of place on the bookshelf in the living room - with my beaded south african cow standing guard over it (an impulse buy in the airport in cape town). it's a gorgeous book and shouldn't be shut away in the cupboard in the kitchen with the other recipe books. thank you, sandra, it was such a lovely surprise!

more fodder for my book

as you all know, i am part of a local group that was elected in a more or less (emphasis on less) democratic process early last summer to oversee the establishment of a new "culture house" in our little town. the group is composed of 7 members and 2 non-voting extras (who perform a sort of runner-up role, in the event one of the elected members is unable to fulfill their duties, one of these will step up). this has already happened, as one of the members, fed up with the way the chairman behaves, recently resigned, so one of our runners-up has already stepped up to take his crown.

the chairman's latest bid in a series of methods for exercising control is to write a 17-point "business order" document for the group (apparently you can never have too much bureaucracy and by-laws, while holy writ, are not enough). it covers everything from how to conduct the first meeting (tho' that ship sailed long ago) to what the agenda should consist of to that the meetings are closed (tho' who would want to attend them if they didn't have to is beyond me) to who can call for meetings and how far ahead they must do so (it states the agenda must be sent out 8 days before the meetings, something which has never happened in the 9 months we've been meeting). probably the most interesting point is #4, which says that there is a chosen group within the larger group, called, literally, the "business chosen ones (forretningsudvalg)." this group consists of the chairman, the vice chairman and one chosen crony of their choice (because really, we can't trust the democracy and a group of seven can hardly be expected to get anything done, right?). it struck me as i read it that the soviet way of doing things isn't as dead and gone as one might think and that it apparently extended farther west than we realized.

even more interesting is another document accompanying the first one. it contains only four points, but they are a broad brush mandate for "the business chosen ones (forretningsudvalg)." it is the mandate of this group to:

  1. take care of the daily interests of the board (not stated is why the board is incapable of this themselves).
  2. only members of this group may contact public authorities, cooperation partners and the press.
  3. this group can, when it's expedient/necessary, make fast decisions which affect the budget and/or the group as a whole to a high degree.
  4. the group is responsible to the board and refers to the board.

in other words, the chosen ones can make whatever decisions they want whenever they want, without asking the board until afterwards. and it occurred to me that what i am a witness to here isn't so much soviet-style bureaucracy as fascism. after all, fascism postulates that a chosen few are not only allowed to dominate on behalf of the inferior elements of society, but they must do so for the common good. i should say that i do hesitate to throw the word fascism around, because as george orwell wrote in 1944, "the word 'fascism' is almost entirely meaningless ... almost any english person would accept 'bully' as a synonym for 'fascist'." basically, our troglodyte pal is moving to formalize (bureaucratize?) his mandate to bully the group as he sees fit.

the documents are so transparent in their attempt at control and happily, leave so many loopholes uncovered, that they are quite laughable. of course, in the early days of the nazis, their antics were also thought laughable and look where that led, so one has to be vigilant. for now, my inner anthropologist finds the documents give a fascinating insight into the mindset and yes, the fears, of the small-minded, small-hearted man who is, for whatever reason, at the helm of this group. he has exposed himself for all to see. and it's not a pretty sight. but it is fodder for my book. and for that, i am deliciously grateful.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

remembering to be different

i had a lot of thinking time over the past week. it's kind of ironic that it takes being sick to give you the time for proper thinking. why don't we give the attention to thinking time that we need to on a regular, daily basis? and it struck me that we humans, we're never satisfied. i complained all week about being sick. instead of appreciating that i got the chance to rest my body and my mind during a week (the winter holiday) when not much work could be done anyway, i whined about it on facebook. instead of appreciating that i could lay in bed and read harry potter 'til my eyes crossed, i whined about it on facebook. (i'm starting to think facebook might be the problem. if it wasn't such a forum for whining, would i have done so?) there was actually no better time to get sick if i had to be sick.

early in the illness, i talked to a friend who had come to my drink & draw evening. she thanked me, said she had enjoyed herself and that it was a very different experience. and i couldn't help but bristle at that characterization. which only proves that we humans are never satisfied. i had done all that i could to make it an experience that departed from the norm - from the food, to the tonic to the gin to the drawing to the conversation. and yet, when it was recognized as being different, it gave me a moment of insecurity. i suppose i felt a pang of it being a bad kind of different (tho' i'm quite sure that's not what she meant). and i just couldn't help but feel a little bit insulted, just for a moment. and then i relaxed and remembered that being different was what it was all about. it's good to be different.

* * *

who's the barbarian?

* * *

why we love the pretty.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

garlands make me happy

coming up for air after a week of being sick, i wanted to make something. i was inspired by jessica's ten days of garlands and a big stack of newspapers that were accumulating in the big round basket. we've always got paint around and plenty of thread, so sabin and i painted up some newspaper and punched out circles and i sewed and sewed. my garland is a little long (like about 20 meters) and a bit tangled, as molly "helped" me hang it up above my desk. but it's cheery and makes me happy.  with the blues and greens i used, some of the circles have a decidedly globe-like quality, which also makes me happy. this photo of sabin painting her newspaper in fiery orange and red, you guessed it...makes me happy.

what made you happy this weekend?

a walk in the woods

i'm finally surfacing after a week-long battle with the flu. it was a mean one - i've not been knocked down by a flu like this in years. i didn't even turn on my computer tuesday, wednesday, thursday and most of friday, so you know it was bad. i mostly laid in bed reading harry potter. i was even too weak to sit upright and knit or watch t.v. i didn't even get out the iPad and the netflix, as that seemed like too much trouble. poor husband didn't get a nice anniversary dinner and i still owe him a birthday cake. but perhaps this coming week i'll remedy that.

our winter is quite mild and to clear my head of the last of the lingering germs, husband and i went for a walk on this very still, just above freezing day. the air was cold and crisp and fresh in my lungs and felt like just what i needed. our snow is gone, leaving the world a bit grey, but if you look closely, there are bits of magic here and there.

i hope to keep glimpsing them in the week ahead as i slowly surface from my flu.

Monday, February 11, 2013

feverish thoughts and a gratuitous bunny photo

i'm sick. but at least there are bunnies. i tried to fight it all day, but i'm aching all over, my head is incredibly stuffed up and my ears are ringing so loud i asked my family if they could hear it. i had a fitful, feverish nap this afternoon, where i dreamed that husband put our big old giant webster's dictionary outside on a trash pile. i found it flipping in the wind and a bit wet from rain and i was so mad, even after i woke up, that i had to call husband and yell at him. he felt that was a little unfair, pointing out that he couldn't help what was happening over in my dream life. i said, what if that's real life and this is all a dream.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

who doesn't want to indulge their inner morticia addams?

I wanted these chairs today, but we restrained.

in some strange fit of wanting to be morticia addams today, i tried to convince husband that we simply had to buy these chairs. they really were quite comfortable and tho' i would recover them if i owned them (can you imagine them covered in heather's herds fabric? swoon!), i did fall a little bit in love with that red velvet. but they were a little pricey for both to indulge what was a momentary infatuation. silly husband and his sensible side, tho' he did agree that they were quite comfy.

on the whole, it wasn't a very satisfying day at the flea market. the one we usually go to is in some kind of transitional state - all of the good booths seem to have been tidied up in a not good way and that meant there were no surprises or bargains lurking in a forgotten corner underneath a stack of crocheted doilies. it's funny how that leaves me feeling unfulfilled. i didn't get any little treasures from the 70s and not even a sniff of an old camera, tho' i did briefly fondle an old typewriter. disappointing for sure. on the way home, we found a really nice, large antique store (that's where these red chairs were) that we will be going back to visit again. they had quite some amazing collections of glassware and enamelware and old-fashioned oil lamps, all very neatly arranged and well-displayed.

so tell me, would you have resisted these chairs (bearing in mind they cost $300 apiece or $600 for both)?

Saturday, February 09, 2013

on drinking and drawing and laughing and talking and nurturing one's soul

i didn't know what i was going to actually draw at drink & draw - i put way more thought into the food i'd make than to the actual drawing part. but when one of the guests, who is a librarian, took out a book of poetry, a library book, no less (tho' it's one the library was getting rid of), to draw in, i knew i had to draw in a book as well. it's one i bought ages ago in some or other flea market - purchased because it had a gorgeous art deco cover (it's in the background of this photo). i hadn't even noticed the name of it, which is talsimanen (the talismen), which seemed extra fitting. i got out the inks (still in love with payne's grey) and got stuck in. it was odd, because initially i felt very restless and unable to settle in and draw, but something about the others drawing diligently away, using pastels and pens and pencils, settled me down and i got into a groove.

there was something magical about the evening. eating good food, drinking some wine and then taking out art supplies opened us all up in a way that the food and wine alone wouldn't have done. we don't know one another that well, but we were soon telling stories of past loves and past husbands and feeling we were in a setting where it was completely safe to share.

it's funny how kim's casual mention on facebook of a drink & draw evening she had attended, morphed into something very meaningful right here in my own home. an evening of laughter and sharing with women who inspire and comfort and challenge (in a good way). it definitely won't be the last time we do this. it's interesting, as i grow older, my need for spending time with women friends seems to on the rise. the evening gave me both that and fulfilled my need to throw ideas out there into the world and see what becomes of them.  it became so much more than i had imagined. and it was precisely what my soul needed.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

counting down to drink & draw

gratuitous photo of my knitting project 
i don't think i've been this excited about a social event since the very first blog camp. tomorrow, five fabulous women will come to our home. i have a long list of food that i'm going to be cooking for them pretty much all day tomorrow (think loads of tapas-agtig (that's one of those endings that's better in danish) appetizers). i've switched furniture around and arranged and made the house look as welcoming as it's going to look. i will have a vacuuming frenzy tomorrow morning. we'll eat good food together, drink some wine (i also made a batch of tonic, so we'll start with gin & tonics, as one does) and we'll draw together. i've asked everyone to bring their favorite drawing materials, whatever they are - ink, pencil, pastels, paper, notebooks, big drawing pads - and we'll laugh and create and eat and drink and laugh some more together. 

i'm going to do the torso project in a few weeks with these same women. they're creative, they're interesting, they're smart, they're funny, they read, they have different views on the world. and i can't wait to spend tomorrow evening with them.

* * *

could this actually make me start running again?
(maybe when the weather improves.)

* * *

this made me both laugh and squirm.

easter bunnies

we have two batches of baby bunnies - they were born on or around sabin's birthday january 25. i'm not sure precisely when because it was so cold then i didn't want to disturb their warm nests. their eyes are open now and it's warmed up a bit, so i brought them inside for their first photoshoot. what's funny is that the two batches are identical - with three little calico peach & grey darlings and one black in each, despite having different mothers and fathers. if i didn't take them in separately, i wouldn't be able to tell whose is whose. they'll be old enough to go to new homes just in time for easter!

* * *

we're back and re-inspired over on Across Ø/Öresund

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

a question of trust

trying to fit in another's frame doesn't work for me
last evening, the schoolmarm character in the farce that has filled my recent weeks, righteously gave me a lecture about trust and how i needed to trust in systems and processes and the people around me (this isn't the first time this happened). she offered no supporting evidence, save tradition, that trust was warranted and i have numerous examples where i can see that trust has neither been earned nor deserved.

for me, trust and openness go hand in hand. when a group is teeming with hidden agendas and secret alliances, there is a distinct lack of openness. when one member is repeatedly left off emails and action lists, one has to begin to wonder if it's not being done on purpose. once might be an accident, twice some serious forgetfulness, but more than that and it begins to look like chicanery. i suppose that many would give up in the face of such treatment (and schoolmarm more than hinted yesterday that i should consider that), but i'm not many. and i'm stubborn. and the project itself - the establishment of a place in the community that will house not only a new library, but all kinds of activities - creative workshops, atelier space, theatre, film, exhibition space, concerts, events, music, readings, lectures and maybe even a café - feels worth it. because i want to live a place where all kinds of things are happening and to have a place to go that feels welcoming and open to a wide variety of people and activities. i want to learn ceramics and jewelry-making and maybe try to paint. i want to hang out with creative people and be inspired and for the community to have a place where that's precisely what happens, well, i think that's worth fighting for.

what's odd is that a small group within the small group that has been elected to this task is very closed and insular. they want to keep the project to themselves. they don't want to hear the wishes of the community. and it's very odd, because several of those who are the most closed are not users of the current facilities - the troglodyte actually goes so far as to disparage the activities that are happening there today. apparently not realizing that it will be the same sort of activities - concerts, lectures, film evenings, like-minded arty folks who paint together, theatre - that will happen in the new (or renovated) facilities.

is it any wonder i don't trust the motivations of these people? why on earth get involved if you're not passionate about the project itself? i will continue to question and yes, think for myself, and yes, hold onto my suspicions until i can see that everyone involved wants the best for the project. because that's definitely not clear right now. there are issues of alliances and power (as laughable as that sounds in this small town context) involved that are not easy to see through.

i don't need to be popular, i just need for people to treat differing opinions with respect, rather than bullying. there must be room for all of us. and once that room is made, then trust might follow. but until then, i don't trust them any farther than i can throw them.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

character sketch

close examination
the schoolmarm: righteous. old-fashioned. square. bound (trapped?) by tradition, closed to anything new or, odin forbid, which smacks of the outside. outside is anything beyond the city limits and a few places within them. "fear" and "fright" are frequent words in her vocabulary. a veritable slave to the rather arbitrary rules. afraid to dare. afraid to look up. afraid of new ideas. afraid to look beyond immediate borders. tho' very opinionated is actually a bit afraid of her own opinions when it comes to it - always looking to some form of authority to nod at her and let her know it's ok. a natural frowner. a bit hard to discern why she is involved when the most frequent phrases out of her mouth are "i don't have the energy" and "i don't really understand, so i hope there are others who will take care of it."

frequently resorts to the "you're not of our culture" (i believe there's a name for that: racism) argument (in the absence of any real logic or actual arguments) and this evening came with some weird statements about trust which i can make no sense of whatsoever.

i've noticed that when people lack a proper argument, they resort to things like, "oh, you're not from here, you don't understand." "you didn't grow up in our culture, so you don't know how it works." "we have all this under our skin, but you don't understand because you're not one of us." and you know what? those are utterly crap arguments, not mention racist and xenophobic. and it's so disappointing, because i really enjoy a good argument with a worthy opponent. and it doesn't have to be an argument per se, but just a lively discussion. but an unworthy opponent that can't even come with a proper, logical response, those just drain your energy.

happily, i can conserve energy by taking notes and calling upon my inner anthropologist. and i definitely get a lot of satisfaction from sharing it with all of you.

the trick will be to take these character sketches and give them some worthy plotline, because i can tell you that real one is too boring for words.

exposed or concealed?

hol(e)y valentine's day!

these two little lovelies - the latest in my hol(e)y stones series are now in my shop.

lisa and i were discussing the felted stone thing not long ago. i had snatched up her cocoon stone as soon as it was listed (i was lucky) and even as i'm striving to expose my felted stones after swathing them in wool, i loved the notion that she had concealed beads within her stone for texture and to embrace the notion of something hiding within. concealment and exposure, those are notions to ponder. 

* * *

Art-o-Mat is seriously cool.
and speaking of lisa, even cooler that her stones will be available there!

* * *

and how much do i want a storytelling house in my yard?
and to host retreats for wild, awesome women?

Monday, February 04, 2013

surrounded by books

i've invited a group of creative, fabulous women over on friday for an evening of drink & draw. i got the idea from kim (she of the fabulous lampwork beads and findings). i'll make a mess of appetizers that will serve as dinner and we will laugh and drink wine and get out our sketchpads and draw something together.

tho' the house isn't as we ultimately want it to be and in fact, in spots, it's downright embarrassing (did they really have to use seven different ceilings?), i decided i needed this too much to let that stand in my way. so i'm making the best of it - i've rearranged and moved shelves and unpacked a bunch of books that have been boxed for two years. it strikes me that books make things cozy and homey like nothing else and so if i fill the room with books, maybe they won't notice that the radiators don't match.

placing the books on shelves was like getting reacquainted with old friends. i am absolutely convinced that surrounding ourselves with beloved books is good for the soul. i paged through and smiled at titles and memories of classes where i read them or papers i wrote flooded back, until i felt the whole room was coated in a warm blanket of words and the memory of words and thoughts and ideas. and i knew then that it will be all right to have these women over - that i am comfortable being judged by my books, even if i am not my house (yet).

i don't think i'll ever go wholly electronic on the books front, real, actual physical books bring me far too much pleasure for that. i started to try to make a pile of ones i'd be willing to donate and found that i couldn't bring myself to put any of them in that pile. so when the house is renovated, there will just have to be a whole lot of shelves. a life without books is not worth living. and a life surrounded by them is that much better.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

at the beginning and at the end

the day started like this.

and ended like this.

in between, we drowned a rat (not as easy at you might think), planned a radical change in the living room, picked up our child from her weekend away, knitted, watched utter crap (read: toddlers & tiaras) on TLC, processed some photos, uploaded them, discovered a funny (but not brilliant) program called black books on netflix, found some hilarious old photos and uploaded them to facebook and just generally enjoyed a lovely sunday.

hope you did too.
except for the part with the rat.
that wasn't that much fun.

Friday, February 01, 2013

just call me greta garbo

let Friday evening begin

it's friday evening and i find myself blissfully alone. husband is attending a party in stavanger and the child took the train over to the other side of the country to attend a sleep-over with her best friend. so it's just me and the cats this evening. and a nice bottle of south african chenin blanc (with just a hint of voignier, as it brags on the label). and possibly a nibble or two of goat cheese.

i am in need of quiet. of my book. of my knitting. of a bit of frivolous television. i must charge up for tomorrow - an event i've been planning and working on for weeks is finally happening. there were wrenches thrown into the works all week and one big one today, but it's all ok now. i am a superwoman problem solver, despite my lack of a cape. as we say in danish, det ska nok gå. but first, a blissful evening alone. those are few and far between, but very, very welcome.

happy weekend, one and all.

* * *

an incredible story of a family who lived isolated for 40 years in the russian taiga.
talk about self-sufficiency.