Sunday, June 29, 2014

scenes from a weekend (warning: carnage ahead)

we awoke saturday morning at our leisure, only realizing later that it was because there was no annoying crowing from our rooster. that's because a fox appeared to have gotten him in the night. he'd been turning aggressive of late, to both me and the best cats, so i have to admit i don't feel that badly about it.

the feral hen (our one lone survivor from last summer's chicken rustlers) is just fine and so are her four babies (tho' this morning, there were only 3 and she wasn't telling why).

here's how bacon and bacon are doing these days. the bacon with the black spot on her side (she's on the right) took the hose from me soon after this and dragged it over to her mud pit all by herself. she's no dummy and we're thinking she wants to be our mama pig going forward. how can you dispute such intelligence?

we tried the strawberry shrub (it's strawberries cured in vinegar that you use, mixed with fizzy water, like a cordial) this weekend. it was brilliant and i made two more jars of it, plus bought cherries and made two jars of cherry shrub as well. it tastes old-fashioned in a very good a cold black cherry soda from a dime pop machine in an implement dealership in a small town.

we decided our latest batch of bunnies are old enough to sell, so we had a little photo session. how cute are they? these are the batch we like to think of as the immaculate conception bunnies, as to our knowledge their mother was never with the buck.

sabin has totally got the hang of her personal cotton candy/candy floss machine. we like to call her the cotton candy/candy foss whisperer.

i spent several hours on saturday, picking these and more than two hulling them and preparing to make them into 11 jars of jam, two shrubs and four bottles of cordial.

i decided to make small jars, as they are more giftable and we eat them up better. when it's time for æbleskiver in december, these will come in very, very handy.

it was time for the first honey harvest today as well - 13 frames, 20 kilos. it's good to have honey for our tea once again.

it was a nice afternoon, so husband built a fire and we grilled some sausages. there's just something about food eaten outside, don't you think?

the little hen knows there's trouble afoot, so she coaxed her small children up into a tree with her, where the fox can't get them. she's no dummy, that hen.

we spent the evening building a bit of LEGO. i finished up my maersk triple e ship (photos coming soon in good light) and sabin built the LEGO Friends caravan. and then promptly crashed into the juice bar. as one does when one is playing with LEGO Friends outside of the normal age recommendations.

here's hoping you all had a blissful and fox-free weekend wherever you are.

Friday, June 27, 2014

stedsans: late at night

i love to stay up late. the house all quiet, aside from the odd snore coming from husband in the bedroom behind me. a cat curled up in my lap on her favorite red curly sheepskin pillow (do sheep come in red?). the glow of the screen before me, a glass of wine at hand. the whole vast expanse of awesome that is the internet, just waiting for me to explore it. there are times when it feels like it would be foolish to sleep. i feel wide awake, ultra aware, open to the hum of the universe. those times are admittedly after a late afternoon venti latte macchiato, but they can actually happen on a normal basis as well. i love late nights. and on these long, light evenings, even as i write this and it's nearly midnight, there is a glow on the horizon, although it's raining outside. and that makes me want to stay up even more. i crave this time. to be alone with myself. with the words. with stories. with images. with all of those ethereal blips on my computer screen, left there by others...their thoughts, their views, their ideas, their notions of what's interesting and beautiful. i want to take them all in, touch them, chew them, swallow them, digest them into something of my own. processing, like my aging iMac, steadily, but perhaps a bit slower than at one time. but processing just the same. all by ourselves here in the night.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

stream of consciousness

seriously, wtf? (even molly thinks so)
and she's also a transplant from the midwest.

when you live your life outside of the culture of your birth, no matter how "integrated" and part of things you think you are, there will always be moments where you are smacked up side of the head with the big old stick of feeling you don't belong. it can happen at the grocery store, in traffic, at lunch, at work, when people are late for a meeting or oddly if the stewardess skips your drinks order on a plane. but it's very worst of all when it happens in your home, among those you love and have chosen as your family. and the problem is that you can never really know when that feeling will strike. it's a feeling borne of a complex combination of factors and there's no way that i've found to predict when that combination will be exactly right, or rather, wrong, and it will hit you that you are still an outsider. and when it hits you, everything is magnified. the smallest thing becomes enormous and has the capacity to grow and grow in your mind, crowding out any of the feelings of belonging you may have harbored, and convincing you that they were never real. it's quite horrible, actually. especially because of how little it takes and how that thing can be so random and so subject to the fragile barometric pressure of feelings and hormones and possibly wind speed and temperature and butterflies in the amazon rainforest and the price of corn futures on the chicago exchange. and it's so distressing that all you've built up over such a long time can be so easily smashed and you feel like you're starting all over again and you wonder if you even want to. but you probably aren't, it just feels like that in the moment itself and the moments that follow. but it likely won't last and even as you're in the middle of it and you realize it's a complicated combination of the obliviousness your husband has to extended family matters generally (which is different than not caring, tho' it's hard to see that when you're in this place) and your own sadness that some of those you considered your favorite family members didn't come to sabin's party or even send her a card or offer a proper explanation of their absence, plus your chosen displacement from the culture of your birth and possibly a teency weency touch of pms thrown into the mix, you still find it very hard to be rational and non-emotional about the whole thing. all he had to do was tell you he received a text that his sister had a new baby girl and it would never have happened. this whole strange avalanche of tears and emotions and being reminded that you're an outsider could easily have been avoided, if only you knew what would trigger it. and ironically, you can't even learn from the situation, because something else entirely will trigger it next time. and you'll ride the roller coaster again. and you'll get through it. and probably the good bits of life wouldn't seem so good without the bits that seem pretty awful. and maybe that mid-atlantic feeling is just a permanent state of being.

i can die happy as soon as i build this

could there be anything better than combining my two favorite jobs i've ever had into one fabulous LEGO set? only if this was an LNG carrier instead of a container vessel would it be more perfect.

Monday, June 23, 2014

scenes from sankt hans - a scandinavian midsummer celebration

a midsummer celebration with pagan, hedonistic roots. burning a witch, a ceremony that once meant something positive and strong and feminine, was turned negative and anti-woman by, you guessed it, christianity. we talked about taking it back as a precisely a positive, strong, feminine act. i will no longer hold myself back from the fire, for fear of being sent to bloksburg (where ever that may be). embrace the witch, i say. and the light. and the long, midsummer nights. even if there was as little bit of rain, it wasn't enough to douse our pagan fires. it's a couple of days after the solstice, but it must have originally been in celebration of that. and here we are, still embracing the light and the sense of ceremony.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

it was a berry good weekend (sorry, i couldn't resist)

it is a very good year for strawberries. they came on just in time for sabin's party last weekend and we were able to pick a huge, impressive bowl that day. then we were too busy to pick more than just enough to eat instead of after dinner, until saturday. saturday, i decided i'd do a major picking of the entire bed (whose bright idea was ten rows of 50+ plants each?).

i thought it might take me a couple of hours, but i was wrong. my first bucket was full after moving only one meter (yard) down the first row. i managed to enlist some help from a couple of teenagers, but, as you might imagine, they didn't last that long, tho' admittedly they lasted longer than i thought they would. by the time i entered full-on burnout and decided to just continue the next day, four hours of picking had gone by.

picking strawberries apparently just made the girls hungry and they went off to make waffles to eat with a big bowl guessed it...strawberries. we were going to have fresh honey to go with them as well, but husband checked the hives and decided to wait another week before our first harvest. that was ok, because i had enough to do with picking and cleaning and hulling the berries.

woody was very helpful. he would lie on the best berries, protecting them, i'm sure. the cats were all happy that we were out there, hanging out in the garden and molly and little bear also stopped by to "help."

with so many berries, i was on the lookout for creative ways of using them. we're not big jam eaters around here and tho' i will make some jam, i didn't want to use all of these berries for jam. so with the help of some suggestions on facebook and a bit of browsing around pinterest, i made a couple of 1.5 liter jars of something called a strawberry shrub (just google it, i can't be bothered to hunt down a link and i didn't use one in particular, but combined several). it's a vinegar-based drink that can be mixed with alcohol or just fizzy water - kind of a new (or perhaps ancient) form of tangy cordial. i ended up making one of cider vinegar and another of balsamic, as strawberries and balsamic vinegar make a surprisingly good pair.

i had a 3 liter box of vodka, so i also made three kinds of strawberry-based vodka: one with only strawberries, one with rhubarb and strawberry and a bit of ginger and one with strawberries and elderflower. can't wait to make cocktails using those. it's rather interesting how quickly the vodka begins to strip the color from the berries. when i strain them in a few weeks, i'll have to bake a cake or something with the boozy, but faded berries.

and speaking of berries, it won't be long before the blackcurrants are ready. they're some of my favorites of which to make cordials. we planted a couple more bushes, but they're still small and not producing much yet. but the two larger ones are doing well and we'll get some cordial to hoard away for the winter.

we have loads more redcurrant bushes and they are doing well. the first few berries are starting to get their ruby blush, but it will be a few weeks before they're ready in earnest. they have such high pectin, i always have to be careful that my cordial doesn't turn to jelly!

after a friend told me how dead easy and very delicious elderflower champagne is, i gathered some of the last elderflowers and made a vast vat of it. what's awesome is that you're supposed to forget about it for a week or so and let it start to ferment. turns out i'm pretty good at that. too bad i always threw it away when i did that, rather than realizing it had turned to alcohol and trying it out. silly me, i didn't know! i'll definitely let you know how it turns out.

five and a half hours of picking berries and another four hulling and preparing them over two days resulted in 9 (tho' only 7 are pictured) bottles of cordial, in addition to the vodka and shrubs above. it's a gorgeous, deep red color and is going to make for awesome cocktails.

working in the strawberry beds, i was reminded of why we moved out here to the countryside. picking berries, while time consuming, felt good for my soul. in this hectic, crazy, distracted world we live in, it's nice to do something that just takes the time it takes. i listened to music, but mostly, i enjoyed being in the garden, talking to the cats and picking the bountiful berries, just being in the moment with the task at hand, knowing that come next winter, i'd be glad i did it, as we enjoy the fruits (literally) of my labors. i think it's good for us to do things that result in something tangible, rather than the rather ephemeral labors we engage in on a daily basis at our desks. my berry stained fingers will attest to my labors tomorrow when i'm back in the office. and i will smile as i look down at them on the keyboard, happy from a productive, sweet weekend.

Friday, June 20, 2014

everything's just peachy!

it may have seemed that i fell off the face of the earth. it's been a crazy couple of weeks. getting lots of work done so i could have a few days off during my mom's visit. plus, we held a big party for 40 friends to celebrate sabin's confirmation. that and a whirlwind day where i worked all morning, picked up four teenagers and raced off to copenhagen to drop them off at a one direction concert, had dinner at nyhavn in the sunshine with my mom and then picked up the girls (along with about a zillion other parents who also had escaped actually attending the concert) and drove 3 and a half hours home to arrive here at 2:30 a.m., fell asleep by 3:30 only to wake up at 4:30 to take my mom to the airport for her flight at 6, came home and got ready for work as usual. whew. it makes me tired all over again, just typing it. but anyway, that's my excuse and i'm sticking to it.

meanwhile, along the way, i collected small snippets i wanted to blog about, but oddly, the words haven't wanted to flow out my fingers as they usually do. i think it's because so much of my work life now consists of things which are secret. i'm an immediate type of person and if i'm working on things which can only be talked about sometime next year or the year after, it gets in the way of the here and now, even if it's not those things i would even want to write about. you get a few secrets in your life and then everything starts to feel like it's a secret. and so my words have been blocked.

so until they clear, here are a few shots of our beautiful party last weekend. it was absolutely perfect weather-wise and the company was top notch. i highly recommend these chinese wish lanterns. they were a big hit. we will definitely be buying them again. they couldn't have been prettier or more joy-inducing. 

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maybe we as a nation shouldn't have stopped drinking at breakfast.

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words do change meaning.

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interesting thoughts on brands and co-creation.

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yes, we do have the best business cards
(tho' they take an eternity to come.)

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pockets of common sense, logic and decency are still to be in found in the united states.
but not on the comments to this post.

Friday, June 06, 2014

letter from a school in crisis

Kære elever og forældre i 7c.

Maj-Britt måtte i dag forlade 7c, da hun ikke kunne få ro til at gennemføre den planlagte undervisning.
Jeg har været i klassen og talt med eleverne, som alle havde forstået, at de var gået over grænsen.

I enhver klasse er der forskellige roller - som på et fodboldhold, hvor der både er angribere, midtbanespillere og forsvarer. Jeg har opfordret eleverne til at spille med.
Altså hjæpe hinanden med at få ro, sige fra overfor hinanden, hvis der er nogle, der har svært ved at finde grænsen for hvilket sprog, der bliver brugt til såvel de voksne, som til andre elever.
Sige fra overfor hinanden, hvis det er for svært for nogle at sidde stille og derved forstyrrer andre. Det er lærernes ansvar, men det er nødvendligt, at alle spiller med for at det lykkes, og vi får skabe de bedste læringsrum.

Hvad skete der i dag?
Jeg gav eleverne følgende billede:
En stor beholder, hvor mange vandhaner drypper ned i beholderen. Nogle drypper voldsomt, andre knap så voldsomt, mens endnu andre er helt tætte.
På et tidspunkt løber beholderen over.
De haner, hvorfra det løber stærkest bliver lukket straks. Andre får så lige drejet en halv omgang om sig selv, så de lukker.

Jeg har talt og indgået aftaler med to stærkt dryppende haner.  
Jeg har som sagt talt med hele klassen, så alle er bekendte med hvor vigtigt, det er at tjekke egen hane.
Beholdere løber nogen gange lettere over end andre gange. Det har jeg også talt med eleverne om, og de har vist god forståelse for hele situationen og mange har været en del berørte.

Denne episoide er enkeltstående og ikke acceptabel, men nogen gange skal der episoder som disse til, for at alle kan få forståelsn af, hvd vi hver især selv kan bidrage med. 
Jeg tror, den kan være med til at styrke sammenholdet i klassen og skabe et endnu bedre læringsrum.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

mix(el)ing it up

i'm sorry, i can't be bothered to blog properly...i'm building the series 2 mixels. here are the frosticons.

and one of the fang gang. aren't they awesome?

Sunday, June 01, 2014

the view from sunday night

another 4-day weekend. i love the cycle of spring holidays in denmark. aside from a windy saturday, the weather was largely glorious. we really do mostly benefit from the global warming here in our northern climes (aside from when those storms blow through and take out the odd building). since we're preparing for sabin's big party in a couple of weeks, we bought a lot of beautiful flowers and i filled the entryway with them. last year, i had tomatoes there, but we've put the greenhouse back together, so the veggies are out there. amazing how a few plants make coming into our falling-down farmhouse much more inviting.

i used to think of germany as a boring place where people wear weird socks, but the more i pop down to border town flensborg for gin and proper groceries, the more it grows on me. the harbor was just gorgeous clad in friday's sunshine. there were booths selling all manner of fun things...from smoked salmon to hats to handmade soap.

there were strolling musicians entertaining along the quayside (note the weird socks). but on the whole, it seems to much more ok to be a little different in germany than it is denmark, where the pressure to conform is almost oppressive. (tho' i continue to resist that whole dress with jeans thing they've had going on for over a decade.)

there was a regatta happening and i guess this beauty was one of the ships involved. just lovely to see. days like this will keep us coming back to germany (tho' the variety of gin helps as well).

now we're all stocked up and ready to make cocktails for all of our summer visitors (yes, that's two bottles of St. Germain and two bottles of Aperol). (and yes, they are important enough to use capital letters.)

sabin had about 8" of hair cut off on saturday. she was cool as a cucumber about it, tho' our hairdresser was quite shocked and even tried to talk her out of it. she wanted her dip-dye gone, so i guess that fashion moment is over now. i was pretty proud of how sure she was about what she wanted. if that continues, she's going to be just fine. she had a good friend over all weekend and they had several photo shoots. i'm also hoping the desire to do that continues. love the docs with her confirmation dress. and it is a super cute cut, tho' it makes her look older. i suppose it's now that looking older is a good thing, tho' i don't think that was her goal. i think she just wanted to go back to her natural hair color and have healthy non-bleached ends again. she's a sensible kid. i guess she gets that from her dad.

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is email dead? (let's hope so.)

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minifigs make even risqué comments sound ok.

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poignant and beautiful. a rather lovely thing.

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check out my new super(heroes) board on pinterest. 
i'm a little in love with batman.