Sunday, March 31, 2013

think different

there are so many stories in this picture. a tale of a lost captain, far from the sea. or a tale of a tidal wave. or the tale of a lake that dried up, leaving the boat stranded high and dry. being run aground - stories of tragedy and dashed dreams. but instead, i choose to see a story of hope - of faith that the water will come and the boat will float once again.

apple once urged us to think different (the grammar of that always bothered me). a combination of 21 days of meditating with oprah and chopra, months of butting my head against the troglodyte, and a general weariness brought on by the protracted delay of spring has me feeling a strong need to think different(ly).

kylie's thoughts on a support ecosystem, which i linked to the other day, via mel(who has taken the brave step of following her passion towards self-employment) have been tumbling around in my head. as have salman rushdie's musings in joseph anton on maintaining a sense of authentic identity in the face of (even self-chosen) exile. all of this makes being in my head a very confusing place. as rushdie says, 
the migrated self became, inevitably, heterogeneous instead of homogeneous, belonging to more than one place, multiple rather than singular, responding to more than one way of being, more than averagely mixed up. was it possible to be - to become good at being - not rootless, but multiply rooted? not to suffer from a loss of roots but to benefit from an excess of them? ... the self was both its origins and its journey.
so as a way of bringing together these fragments that have been circulating in my brain, i've been thinking about how to create a support ecosystem that will cushion the blows of rejection from the culture in which i find myself (by accident as well as choice) when they come (because they inevitably and regularly come).

i think the notion of a support ecosystem is powerful because it contains the feeling of being constantly in flux and adjusting, not static and precarious. i can add and subtract to achieve the sense of balance needed on a given day. one day i might be needing someone to lean on, the next, i may be the one being leaned on. but it's all a matter of interaction and giving (and taking) on all sides. of taking and giving courage and kindness and energy as needed.

and maybe it's not so much a support ecosystem as a cultural ecosystem - trying to retain the best aspects of my culture and meld them much more with the good bits of the culture where i find myself - weaving a more balanced sense of identity that's not so fragile to the blows when they come. because i have to stop feeling every disagreement as a rejection of me as a person and as the denial of my humanity that it currently feels like. i'm not exactly sure how i got to a place where that's what happens. all i know is that it requires too much energy to sustain it and i would much rather channel that energy creatively, into weaving something stronger for myself - identity, ecosystem, culture, life - whatever it be called.

so i'm going to begin to think differently - to look for the positive in every situation instead of defaulting to the negative story. it's undoubtedly a long and slow journey, and a lot of courage will be required along the way, but it seems like one that i need to take. one day soon, that boat will float.

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green cities: worth thinking about.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

scenes of viking domesticity

tho' winter is still stubbornly hanging on in the form of arctic winds, we visited a viking military fort called trelleborg this afternoon. the one in the denmark, near slagelse, not the one by the same name in sweden, which is actually thought to be part of the same complex of viking outposts from the era of harald blåtand (bluetooth - and yes, the wireless connectivity protocol is named after him).

we love to drag our child to such historic sights, increasingly kicking and screaming, as she approaches her teenage years in earnest. but making a viking flatbread "tortilla" over a smoky fire seemed to cure some of her resistance. or perhaps it was the sweet homemade butter and honey she slathered on her viking pancake. me, i love that my hair still smells of that viking fire now hours later. and i'm inspired to make a dish of leeks, apple, parsnips, cabbage and bacon, like the vikings made.

*you may be wondering why the wooden fence is a scene of viking domesticity, but i maintain that it is, as it was built to keep in precious animals - something you only did if you were settled down and domestic. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

friday links and colored eggs

it's the long easter holiday in denmark. we're lazing around, trying to recover from this week's troglodyte encounter (and possibly a very late wednesday night involving too much red wine and then some ill-advised whiskey). wishing it would stop snowing, playing cards and ticket to ride. watching james bond. coloring eggs. cooking elaborate meals. and catching up on blogs and other online reading (hence all of the links below). happy easter, one and all! something of more substance soon...

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are reader-specific books the future?

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are windows people conservative and apple people liberal?

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feeling inspired by mel's thoughts on being self-employed.
and loving her coach kylie's thoughts on creating a support ecosystem.

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ogooglebar and other wonderful swedish words.

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check out these fabulous zen painted stones.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

stitched up party invitation

probably the coolest technique i learned at anne brodersen's class was this one...a new way of stitching up photos. normally, my stitched up photos are done on the machine, but for this one, i made a couple of small embroideries - of a bottle and a glass of wine and i embedded them into a picnic photo that i took at the viking market in bork havn. i love the result. i'll be doing more of these. for sure. to start with, as invitations to a gathering we're going to have when my family is here next month.

this was my first attempt and i didn't do a great job of cutting off all my pen marks. but next time, i'll do better.

don't you think it would make the perfect party invitation? now if the weather just warms up for their visit!

containing the bullshit

i think the next time i have to go to a danish association's yearly membership meeting, i'm going to ask husband to bring one of these containers home so there will be room to dispose of all of the bullshit.

actually, husband was a big help this evening, asking a lot of questions that got at the heart of the matter (and undoubtedly making himself as unpopular with our dear leader as i am). it was quite delightful watching the troglodyte squirm. what wasn't as delightful was watching his blatantly sexist reaction to one of the women who tried to ask questions as well - interrupting her, cutting her off and being completely condescending, which he did to none of the men who spoke. interesting that. it's getting to be quite a list of words ending in -ist that apply to him...sexist, racist, fascist, ageist, (is nepotist a word?)...i wonder where it will end?

i can tell you that in my novel, it ends in drag in a seedy nightclub.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

inspired by china

as the course at anne brodersen's studio ended, she showed us some of her work in which she had used the techniques she taught us. these were all inspired by her travels in china. there is no question at all in my mind that what she does is art. wouldn't you agree? it's my intention to own several of these pieces (i need goals). the colors are so wonderful. and the pieces are compact and magical. her work is simply singing with color and inspiration.

Monday, March 25, 2013

happy birthday dear mom, happy birthday to you!

a string of happy memories from last summer, in honor of mom's birthday. we're dreaming of sunshine, as we wait for spring to happen. and looking fondly back on fun had on horseback, in the water and in haunted houses last summer. mom, i hope you have a wonderful day and we wish we were there to celebrate with you!!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

random acts of arty kindness

i met artist noelle horsfield in stephanie levy's creative courage online course. we hit it off with a similar liberal bent and sense of humor and became friends on facebook. and noelle asked me recently if i would help her out with a little art project she's got going on.

she wants to leave little works of art in random places for people to find and she asked me if would place some in denmark. of course i immediately said yes! well, they arrived this weekend from kentucky and i couldn't resist photographing them before i set them out into the world.

aren't they sweetest little tiny houses you've ever seen? (and odin knows i've seen a lot of really cute tiny houses.) it's going to be a little bit hard for me to abandon them, i think. i sent three pieces home with karoline, husband's eldest daughter, for her to place around copenhagen.

i kept four myself to place in my area. i already have an idea for two of them, but the others, i think i'll carry with me and i'll know when the right spot beckons. i'm so pleased to be able to help noelle out with her project. it reminds me quite a lot of a similar project that my friend lisa is doing as well. and it makes me want to make something to leave as well. i love the idea of randomly treating someone to a little piece of art. such a inspiring project!

oh, and i get to keep the little bunny - isn't that perfect?

combining stitching and objects

i haven't yet shared all of the techniques i learned at the course last weekend. this is the one i'll likely use on my torso - we stitched some fine little embroideries onto very thin (but surprisingly sturdy) rice paper with ordinary sewing thread. when they were finished, we carefully ripped the paper around them, leaving a border to work with.

then we stuck the little embroideries onto a printed photo with a glue stick.

i chose to paint the rice paper with watercolors to match the photo background behind, but you could paint it another color and make them stand out.

i was looking for some kind of allusion to how denmark's past is also here in the present.

another technique we learned was how to set embroideries onto a stone or piece of driftwood. i took a piece of embroidery from a second-hand shop to use for my attempt. you trace around it and then cut out the shape in a piece of fiberglass wallpaper. you then glue the embroidery onto the fiberglass wallpaper and press it in a book to dry.   after that, you take colored pencils and draw around the edge. you can either choose to match the piece of wood or stone you're setting it on, or use a contrasting color. i chose contrast.

then, you glue it well, press it onto the stone or driftwood and wrap it in plastic film and then paper towels and then put on a bunch of rubberbands to hold it in place. we let it dry overnight. my fellow students used driftwood and theirs were dry by the next day. mine, which was set on a stone, was still pretty wet, since the stone didn't help by absorbing any of the moisture.

once it's fully dry, you can use colored pencil to blend it into the background better - mine was too wet that day, so i haven't done that yet. this is a technique i definitely want to play with a bit more, using my own embroideries and all of those stones i've been gathering.

now i'm off to print some photos to play with. what are you creating this weekend?

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fascinating photo series of children around the world with their prized possessions.