Thursday, May 29, 2014

gorgeous summer days are upon us

i'd say summer is here about a month earlier than it was last year. although we've had some rainy days, largely, they are filled with sunshine. and that means meals eaten in the garden.

i don't know if our mild winter and actual summer for what looks like two years running are products of climate change, but if they are, it's definitely working in our favor.

most meals have included fresh asparagus, plucked from the garden. asparagus is such an exercise in patience, you have to wait several years before you can begin to eat it, especially when you plant it from seed. this is the first year we've been able to really pick it. and we've definitely been enjoying it. mostly lightly steamed with a bit of butter or shavings of fresh parmesan.

even the child has been inspired by the good weather (and i suspect by instagram). she made this stack of homemade blueberry pancakes all on her own when she got home from school the other day. she's also taken to making iced lattes. most importantly, of course, is that you must photograph it all before you enjoy it. i think instagram is a good influence on her.

long, golden evenings stretch out in the garden. the child is constantly in motion and never far from her trampoline for long. she's trying to perfect handstands before her grandmother gets here.

but she can also do all kinds of flips. this is why she's signed up for a gymnastics-focused boarding school for the ninth grade.

the elderflowers are already in bloom. i looked through my photo library and it's a good three weeks earlier than usual. that means we'll have fresh elderflower syrup to make drinks for our upcoming party.

there are flowers popping up all over the garden, it seems like in bigger abundance than ever before. those who lived here before us were into gardening and i'm grateful for the flowers they left behind (even if i'm not grateful to them for much else).

there's less than a month to go before the solstice and the light begins to turn away from us again, but with this much of its golden glory, i think i can bear the thought of that.

Monday, May 26, 2014

at least someone's floating on air

after a horrendous european parliamentary election yesterday, where an actual convicted racist from denmark's xenophobic party (the so-called danish people's party) won the most personal votes of anyone ever, the part of the country with functioning brain cells is reeling. i guess tho', that an awful lot of the country cannot be said to be sensible, but instead insular, protectionist, fearful, racist, xenophobic and easily fooled by a smooth talker. hmm, sounds familiar somehow...

but in the garden, the sun was shining and sabin was levitating and somehow that made it seem like everything would probably be all right in the end.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

summer light: the view from sunday night

saturday evening drink & draw. a blissful sunny sunday in the garden. the zen activity that is mowing the lawn. lots of discussions of our upcoming party. it doesn't get much better than this. plus the light was spectacular. feeling all recharged and ready to see what the week ahead brings.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

theosophic works: hilma af klint

youth - #3, group IV, 1907

adulthood - #6, group IV, 1907

adulthood - #7, group IV, 1907

adulthood - #8, group IV, 1907
there are ten works in this series, these were just my favorites. they represent the phases of life, from infancy to old age. they are enormous and dominant works. they were painted on paper using hand-mixed tempera paints. they had been rolled for years in an attic (luckily dry), since hilma af klint's will specified that the works could not be shown for 20 years after her death. she believed she was painting the connection between the physical and inner worlds we inhabit. she believed the pictures came to her from a higher consciousness, which conveyed its message through her. she created a whole symbolic language with which to convey these messages. it has yet to be fully decoded, despite her leaving behind extensive journals, documentation and notes. scholars are only beginning to give her work the attention it so richly deserves.

the swan, #16, group IX/SUW, 1915

the swan, #17, group IX/SUW, 1915

the swan, #17, group IX/SUW, 1915
in af klint's symbolic language, blue represents the feminine and yellow the masculine. i find that quite appealing and feel it underlines how today's pink for girls and blue for boys is a more modern construct and just that, a construct, not something inherent in the colors themselves. although the works try to convey a spiritual message from another plane of consciousness, they are very rigorous and quite scientific in their discipline. every color and line is laden with meaning.

alter work #1, group X, 1915
there are three large paintings in this series and i'm not sure why i didn't photograph the other two, as they were marvelous in the whole they presented, the three of them hanging together. it makes me want to go back, tho' there isn't much time, as the exhibition closes june 6.

i find these abstract works to be thought provoking and evocative. despite the crowds and that we were in a bit of a hurry that day, i found they triggered something deep in my solar plexis, something indefinable and which i can't yet put words to. perhaps she really did capture something of a higher consciousness and tho' i don't consciously understand what it's saying in so many words, it felt like they were actually communicating to my soul.

you can read more about hilma af klint here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

where do you read?

i read nearly anywhere (even sometimes while driving), but the best place is on a lazy summer day in the backyard of my falling down farmhouse out in the countryside. essential ingredients are a library book (of course), a hand-stitched quilt made by my great great grandmother annie back in the 1940s, a couple of pillows and a beverage. in this photo, a cider, but it could just as well be a cold glass of minted lemonade or a summery st. germain cocktail (we've jumped on the st. germain bandwagon around here). what's important is the scent of the lilac-drenched air, the song of the birds and the occasional cat stopping by to flop down in the shade. i can't think of a better place to read. come on by, bring your book, i'll make you a cocktail too...

Monday, May 19, 2014

sunshine scenes

we attended sabin's best friend's confirmation on friday. sabin took this shot of her in the sunshine at the party. tho' i do have my doubts as to the significance of this whole confirmation thing in this day and age, it does somehow seem nice to celebrate these young people as they stand on the cusp of the difficult teenage years and then all of the responsibilities that lie ahead of them. a day where they are the center of loving attention and where they get to be beautiful seems ok.

after the party, we went to see old friends and this is where we woke up. one of our favorite places in denmark. buresø. and it was a glorious morning indeed. sunshine will do that.

later the same day, we had a walk along amager strand park in copenhagen. this is just an iPhone photo and while cameras have improved, they don't necessary do that well at a distance. but i like how the tanker looks like it's up on that sandbar. it's not. and those kite surfers aren't really dancing on top of it.

sunday found us back home. apparently rain had come to copenhagen, but here on the mainland, it was a beautiful, sunny day. perfect for a bit of reading on a quilt in the garden.

the air was saturated with the scent of lilacs and so i had to bring some inside, as i could't bear to leave it. lilacs are my favorite flower. they're so fleeting, but i think nothing smells better, so i try to relish that delicious scent all i can while they last. even frieda seemed to enjoy the smell. 

* * *

you know me and my sense of immediacy.
it's driving me a bit mad that the great bulk of the photos i took today
need to stay a secret for a little while longer.

* * *

amy komar's new work is just exquisite.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

paint snails while the sun shines

i could only find 3, otherwise i would have painted more. later, i spotted another one, but had already put away the paints. i don't think these snails showed signs of having been among the ones we painted before, tho' i think the one i spotted later might have been erik. awesome how the vinbjerg snails live for years and years. my snail designs today were inspired by the fantastic hilma af klint exhibition we saw on saturday at louisana museum of modern art. more about that later, as now i've got to go put lotion on my sunburn and get to bed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

reflections on the poetics of unsolvable problems

i went to a most interesting salon evening tonight. i drank too much coffee and had my head filled with so many new and exciting ways of thinking about things that i can't sleep. i went because the title of the talk was the poetics of the unsolvable and i loved both the notion that there was a poetics, but also that something could unsolvable in these times when we think there is a quick fix for everything. what it turned out to be was a researcher who had looked at the ways that creative interventions in management training could change things for managers and how they think and learn presented his research. best of all, he asked us to try out some of his experiments. i don't yet have it all straight in my head, but already i feel that it awakened in me new ways of thinking about things that will be very valuable to me.

in his study, he asked his subjects to come up with a problem that seemed unsolvable. then he asked them to take three approaches to it. in the first, he wanted them to do a systematic, rational analysis of the problem, which would eventually result in a map of their assumptions - a problem statement, who the actors were in the problem, what their interests are, then the distinctions and eventually a set of dimensions the problem (i understand these dimensions as a kind of list of binaries and quite black and white). it was these dimensions that could eventually be mapped in some way. we had only a short amount of time, so all we did was write a problem statement and begin looking at who was involved and what were their interests. i didn't get as far as distinctions (partially because time was short and partially because i didn't entirely understand what he meant by that). i would actually say that this resembles my usual approach to solving problems in quite a rational, systematic, analytical way. it undoubtedly lends to overthinking and confirming yourself in your opinion that the problem really is unsolvable. ironically, it also makes you think you see the problem more clearly and in some sense, maybe you even do.

the second approach was to apply metaphors to the problem. he asked us to think of the problem as a plant and quickly sketch or describe it. then he asked us to think of the problem as a movie or novel and note the work that first came to mind. we didn't delve a whole lot deeper than this and alas, fargo was the movie that sprang to mind when i thought of my problem. i'll need to ponder the meaning of that a bit more. actually, i had two problems noted down (that's how i roll) and the film that sprang to mind for the second problem was the matrix. that's also something that bears more thought. i tried to make books spring to mind for my problems, but oddly, none did. in his experiment, he sent the subjects out with cameras to take a photo that would stand as a metaphor of the problem. i would love to have done that (and let's face it, i do it most days here on mpc - after all, blogging is cheaper than therapy).

the third and perhaps most interesting approach was to describe the problem as a sensory experience; to give it physical sensation. this was difficult (especially in a short time) and my list included broad emotions - stressful, negative, tense. i had to keep reminding myself to stick to physical sensations - loud, grating, jarring. but it wasn't easy and the exercise gave me a tightness in my chest and i felt a little bit that i couldn't breathe. so trying to describe it as a physical sensation actually caused a physical sensation in my body. this made me realize that mind and body are so much more connected that i generally think they are. and this made me think i need to take better care of my body and use it more wisely. i'd like to think i take better care of my mind, feeding it with nourishing books and images and thoughts. my body probably needs less caffeine, alcohol and unhealthy foods. i must remember that (she says as she takes a sip of wine).

and although listing my problem as a sensory experience caused a physical reaction in my body, it also had a distancing effect, making me more able to look upon my problem from a new angle, with less emotion and less judgement. which is quite new and i think it's quite difficult for us to be judgement-free, as we come loaded with expectations and judgements from all of our previous learnings and experiences. it was quite freeing to somehow let go of that. i'd like to do that more.

if we'd had more time, he would have asked us to write a poem based on the list of sensory experiences. he would have given us only 20 minutes, so that the poem would be more automatic and we wouldn't have time to sensor or polish it. he showed us some of the results from his subjects and they were powerful. i feel i missed the window on the poem for this experience, but i'm going to go through the exercise again.

and do you want to know what the problem i thought about was? (at least the main one?) it was the problem of being productive in an open office environment. because i think that's pretty much impossible. i won't say that i solved it, not even remotely, but i got closer to seeing a clearer picture of why i don't like such spaces. and that may be a step towards an eventual solution. and that feels pretty powerful. i'd like to think of myself as more reflected than most and i do (as you know, if you are a regular reader), tend to over-analyze things, so having new tools which will help me think about things in new ways is awesome.

Monday, May 12, 2014

wouldn't it be cool to...

wouldn't it be cool... create an art scavenger hunt (or maybe a lego scavenger hunt!). have a folding bicycle. revive theosophy. (or maybe i should just reread bulgakov while gazing up occasionally at a kandinsky in order to synthesize my logical and mystical knowledge.) go to this exhibition of the works of hilma of klint at louisiana. (i was inspired by this article (for which you'll need to read danish).) (i'm linking to it mostly so i can find it again.) look for moments of happiness every day and blog about it for 100 days like judith, james, isaac and rebecca? (well, to be fair, i haven't seen any posts written by rebecca, but she is only 9 months old, so i suppose that's fair enough.) find mr. burns and complete my simpsons minifigures collection?

...if a bearded drag queen won the eurovision song contest? (oh wait, that happened.) host a pecha kucha evening?

...get a good nights' sleep unmarred by dreams of horses retaining water, or falls from a 4 meter tall structure while sitting on a pallet or cats demanding to come in or out the bedroom window (that last bit isn't so much a dream as reality).

and on that note, i'll leave you to think of all the things you think would be cool...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

the view from sunday night

it rained most of the weekend, but between showers, i managed to pick a bowlful of violets to make cordial. i also picked a wheelbarrow full of rhubarb and made cordial of that as well. and it doesn't even look like i picked any. the rhubarb is doing well.

so well, in fact, that i had to make a rhubarb cake. which i've blogged here, if you're interested in the recipe. it's the perfect mother's day cake. but alas, my mother wasn't here and my family didn't seem to have gotten the message that it was mother's day. not that i really mind. isn't it really just another day crafted by the consumption industry to try to force us to eat out in restaurants, buy flowers and jewelry? tho' it would have been nice to have been served breakfast in bed.

i was walking out to the garden to pick some asparagus for my risotto when i happened to catch these two snails in the act. i went back an hour or more later, to give the cats and the pigs their dinner and tuck in the chickens and they were still at it. i guess they were enjoying the rainy weather. i'm not sure if they're ones we painted on, as i didn't want to disturb them to check their shells more closely.

with the rainy, dreary weather, we were in the mood for some comfort food, so i made a chicken and asparagus risotto. it's also got dried mushrooms in it. my neighbor dried a whole lot of mushrooms she found at her summerhouse in sweden last summer and they are a heavenly cooking ingredient. i think risotto one of the great kitchen gifts. so easy, so comforting, so warm and so delicious. it takes whatever tastes you throw at it and seems at once homey and elegant somehow. perfect sunday night food.

* * *

other than things domestic, i was reading this piece on generation y and the reasons for their unhappiness and i wondered if it doesn't also apply a little bit to generation x.

i'm also watching a couple of FX series - fargo (based on the coen brothers film of the same name) and the americans. fargo is fantastic and i feel very impatient for the next episode. i'm slowly getting into the americans. i think i was just in the mood for fargo. it's well-written, well-acted and the way they have woven in the original movie is so cleverly done; there are echoes of it throughout, even tho' it's a new story. and it all begins, like the film, with the coen brothers myth that it's based on a true story. it's not. minnesotans are more sensible than that. but they really do have that accent.

and have you seen the lego episode of the simpsons yet? quite subversive and a bit edgier than i would have thought. a good melding of the two brands that allows them each to be who they are. thumbs up from me. best line from bart, "i'm a creative but undisciplined builder." most subversive moment, when the minister says, "bad news people, our religion is not true. sorry about that."

Friday, May 09, 2014

picture perfect morning

it was such a beautiful morning, i drove a long and meandering way to work, since i didn't have any early meetings. there was fog, but it burned off quickly and it was a bright, light fog while it lasted. absolutely gorgeous. it just gave me so much energy that has carried me through the rest of my day to have taken a little extra time to stop and breathe in the fresh morning air, say hello to some lambs and capture the beauty with my camera.

now the afternoon is cloudy and rainy, but it doesn't matter a bit, because i got to enjoy the sunshine while it lasted.

happy weekend, one and all!