Wednesday, July 30, 2014

london calling

a few blissful days in london. part work, part play. all wonderful. meeting old friends. and new ones. seeing the sights. taking in the crowds and the noise. going to museums. eating new and interesting food. trying on clothes. drinking loads of starbucks. battling the heat. and ducking rain showers (in the gap, of course). tracking down bathrooms (after all that coffee). it was a full (almost) week.

landing from travels, even if they're only a time zone away and a short hour-long flight, always takes time. processing. finding your feet again at home. settling into the old rhythms after the disruption of another place. but disruption is good and healthy and shakes you from your complacency. it gives you a different view of the world. makes you appreciate home a little bit more. and tho' there are mountains of laundry to do, i'd rather just sit for a little while with a cat in my lap and absorb it all. i really did miss those cats.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

50 things about right now (mostly awesome)

i totally copycatted was inspired by molly's 50 things about right now post.

1.  in a word, kittens. two of them, tho' we thought she had 6 in there, her belly was so big.
2.  sunshine breaking through.
3.  working at home.
4.  sitting for too long in one spot when i work at home.
5.  building excitement over our coming holiday in london.

7.  flowers in bloom all over the place.
8. did i mention the two perfect, tiny kittens?
9. awesome projects at work.
10. great people to work with on awesome projects at work.
11.  a trip on the (rather distant) horizon to seattle and then new york.
12. yes, me, in new york.
13. for the first time ever.
14. cold white wine in the garden.
15. and the odd gin & tonic.

16. the coolest business cards ever. and i have some.
17. long, light summer nights.
18. being invited to a party this weekend.
19. horses with fly fringe attached to their halters.
20. the antics of our pigs.
21. the child hanging out with her good friends.
22. the awesomeness being submitted to the turtle competition we're running on eurobricks.
23. these are the ultra-creative people i get to work with. all. the. time.

24. pinterest.
25. looking forward to molly's kittens.
26. yes, that's more kittens.
27. awesome neighbors.
28. summer visits from friends.
29. rewatching friends from the beginning on netflix.

30. shark burgers for dinner.
31. salmon burgers for dinner.
32. burger burgers for dinner.
33. berries to pick.
34. the strawberries are done.
35. the child buying a nikon D7100 with her confirmation money.

36. arranging lunch dates with friends in london.
37. and tours of oxford with other friends.
38. packing up the "dining" room so it can become sabin's room.
39. reluctantly. because packing all those books away again feels wrong.
40. our independent, awesome feral hen keeping her babies safe up a tree every night.

41. overusing the word awesome.
42. but it's because everything is pretty much awesome.
43. looking at the calendar to find the best time for a weekend in rome.
44. and maybe one in berlin.
45. did i mention we're going to london?

46. getting to write at work too.
47. mowing the lawn.
48. strawberry shrubs.
49. staying up late.
50. sitting in the golden hour light with husband in the garden, sipping a cocktail and talking about our days, the future, living abroad, the angle of the roof, and what to do with all these cats.

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seriously awesome reflection photos by kiripi katembo siku
they are stunning and so full of subtext and depth.
a big thank you to molly for sharing them with me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

what happened to amazon?

i used to get mails from amazon that were filled with one thing after another that i couldn't resist - books, cameras, lenses. i couldn't click in and add them to my shopping cart fast enough. but the mails i get from them today are generic and lame, full of crappy stuff - tools, hip hop albums, non-apple electronics (gasp!) - that indicate that they no longer know me at all. even worse, today i got a mail from them that had no less than a dozen mega bloks halo sets. mega bloks for me? what? really? don't you know i'm a lego girl? amazon, are you trying to tell me you'd like to break up? or that we already broke up and i just didn't realize it?

i used to think amazon was as close as you could get to shopping in an actual shop in the virtual world. the suggestions below the items you're looking at are always related in a good way, but could easily lead you to other things, just like browsing in a bookstore. but it seems they've changed their algorithms and that's just not true anymore. i hate to sound like a crabby old woman who thinks everything was better in the old days, but really, amazon was better in the old days. luckily, i'm going to london next week and i can hang around in some real bookstores.

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i seriously need to visit chernobyl.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

slow sunday stretches to the wee hours of tuesday

it was raining steadily, if gently, all day sunday. that was fine, as there was plenty of tidying up to do inside that's been sadly neglected as we spend all of our waking hours outdoors. the monotony of the rain and the grey skies gave the day a slowed-down feeling. the slow feeling didn't let up that much even as we spontaneously decided to watch the world cup finals, as it was an awfully long match with very little scoring. if it hadn't been for twitter, and laughing with friends, i'd have nodded off.

a rainy quiet day leaves me feeling introspective and so it was only fitting that i came across this piece on virginia wolff in the new yorker. she had this notion that there was always this place inside of us which we hide, even from ourselves. she even embraced this hiding, like a gift of sorts, a core which we keep eternally as a surprise. i'm not sure that i agree that we hide these places from ourselves so much as that we are unable to articulate them, even to ourselves. i would argue that we know very well they're there, and the keen observers of us around us sense them as well. but there is something at our core that's inarticulable (i think that's possibly a word that i just made up), something that might well be the very stuff of who we are. and we probably come closest to it when we are alone with ourselves and our own thoughts. and maybe it's even why we crave time alone, to be closer to ourselves.

one of my favorite quotes of all time is from one of barbara kingsolver's early novels (the bean trees, i think), she says, "you never know how inside of themselves people are." i think that's what virginia wolff was getting at as well and perhaps the reason she had to end it all is that she couldn't really stand the revelation of self there at her core. she couldn't face that it was as inexpressible as it is. for a writer, the inexpressible must be the very worst thing. or maybe the fear of finally expressing it and getting to the bottom of it and having no mysteries left there in the core. or just the raw, naked, stark truth of who we really are at the base of it.

see. i told you the rain made me introspective. and there are times when i just have to write these things down in order to illuminate what i really think about them. and sometimes that writing only gets me part way there. thank you for reading.

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on a lighter note...
i really love this food blog.

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and how fabulous are these moody family portraits?

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and you thought LEGO was just a toy.

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are americans really too stupid for GMO labeling?
a congressional panel thinks so.

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here is a really great and thorough account of the project i've been working on since march.
i might have mentioned that i love my job.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

things we've built lately

the creator 3-in-1 beach house. it's got all kinds of great details - like a wave out front and a surfboard.

it also has a cool window that opens on the back side, for playability. and check out that outdoor shower!

and from this side, looks like an architect must have designed it.

we put emily to work building the treehouse when she was here. it's also a creator 3-in-1 set.

there's a little crankable bucket and the ladder can be folded up to prevent unwanted folks from coming up into the treehouse.

love the super cute friends camper - sabin built it, but i might have to take it apart and build it myself, just for fun. if i had a camper that looked like this, i could totally get into camping.

next up was the friends juice bar - all kinds of awesome details in this, but that's what lego friends does best.

juicing blenders and check out that orange juicer detail on the right. love it! but probably the best part of these friends sets is the colors. they're so bright and cheerful.

i have a little bit of a thing for chima legend beasts. they've got cool teeth and ball joints, so what's not to like?

and the minifigs are dressed very cool as well. i don't really know the chima stories, but these little warrior animals just speak to me.

look at all of those cool wing pieces on the awesome eagle!

the lion was the one i got first and oddly enough, i don't think i shared him before. posable and cool. i think maybe what i like is that they remind me a bit of mixels with the small ball joints and posability.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

a magical ceramics atelier

i visited a magical ceramics atelier out in the countryside today. it's the kind of place you imagine exists, but you don't really fully believe it - oozing with atmosphere and humming with creativity.

danish ceramics artist nina lund and her french husband, also a ceramics artist, jean-francois thierion, own a former insulin factory in the danish countryside. it's both home and atelier and shop for them. it has the feel of an old dairy with big windows and white subway tiles. it has the most amazing atmosphere.

they have a couple of very large kilns and the front window (which i apparently failed to photograph) is where they sit and spin the potters' wheels. i actually completely neglected to take my proper camera with me and only had my old iPhone 4S along, so these photos are all from that. i guess it just means that i have to go back.

these are some of jean-francois' gorgeous vases. they're very large and the kind of thing you see in the lobby of a big company or bank, so i didn't even dare to ask how much they cost.

the same with his big platters - what i wouldn't give for one of those - imagine how many strawberries i could put in there!

nina was working in the studio, but took a few minutes to talk to us as we looked around the shop area upstairs. she told us this stool is a first attempt at making stools and talked about the tweaks she'll make in the next round. it was really beautiful, but i didn't try sitting on it.

i couldn't resist a few of her unique candleholders. i'll definitely be headed out there the next time i have to buy a gift for someone - so much better to give a unique, beautiful handmade gift from the local area, don't you think?

i bought the one with the yellow flowers in it and i was tempted by the little yellow dotty one you you can see in the foreground on the right. i may have to go back for that one. i suspect they are the kind of thing that one could begin to collect and amass quite a nice collection of them.

another shot of jean-francois' vases. we didn't meet him while we were there, but i'd love to see him working as well. i definitely have to go back with my proper camera.

here are some of nina's larger works - intricate candleholders and large vases. it's so wonderful to visit a place where artists are at work and clearly able to make a living from their creativity. at the same time, tho', it made me feel a bit like i've obviously not done enough with my life or believed enough in my creative abilities. but there is hope that it's possible.

i like nina's more practical pieces as well - like these little oil/vinegar bottles. so cute and cheery. you couldn't help but smile while you're making dinner if these were sitting on your stove.

Friday, July 11, 2014

friday burger

it's summer. it's friday. so we had burgers. happy weekend, one and all.

sometimes you just need a still life or two

it's been a busy time. there has been a frenzy of activity up to everyone departing on summer holiday. and while it's been good, it's also been rather hectic. and it's winding down now. next week will be a quiet one, with almost no one in the office. i'm looking forward to it, because i have some work to get done that requires solitary concentration and in a busy, open office with colleagues you enjoy talking to, you don't get much of that. it will be good to shift down a gear or two and have time to think things through properly.

even while it's been busy, it's also been great, so i'm not complaining, not at all. the pace is good, but life requires different paces at different times and during these long, light, warm (dare i say hot) summer days, it feels like the pace should slow down. i'm hoping time expands along with it and stretches to be just the time i need. i think it probably will. time feels elastic like that at the moment.

i'm grateful for working with people who make me laugh and smile and think and learn and push myself. i'm happy to have a really good boss who guides me in the right direction, but doesn't look over my shoulder too much, but instead supports me and listens to me. i know how unusual that can be and i'm grateful for it. i really love the projects i'm working on and how much creativity i'm exposed to on a daily basis. it's really a privilege. i have to remind myself that it's one that i worked very hard to attain and which i have earned. sometimes it can feel like some kind of miracle, but maybe it's not only that, it's also an achievement. and i'm doing my best to remember to give myself credit, even while being very grateful for the opportunity. 

the week is nearly over and a weekend filled with happy plans with cherished friends stretches ahead. hopefully there will be a bit of time for stillness as well. because sometimes you just need some stillness in which to breathe. 

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cool! one of my photos made Vox!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

where do you want to go today?

it's summer holiday time and everyone around me is off to fun places. denmark pretty much shuts down during july. bakeries close. flower shops close. it's easy to get a first row parking spot at work. we are going to london at the end of the month, but it seems a long ways off. i bought big ben in honor of the trip. and because we couldn't decide if we were giving sabin a trip to paris or rome for her confirmation gift, i bought both the eiffel tower and the trevi fountain. because how better to reveal a gift than with a lego set? (we went with rome.) and since we had them both, we had to build them. but at the moment, they're sitting on the shelf, next to the sears (willis) tower, and the guggenheim and rockefeller center, making me long to take a trip. you suppose i can satisfy the wanderlust if i pick up the brandenburg gate.

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so awesome that you can now studyfood design.
if i had to do it all over again, i'd study that.

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hilarious cake fails.

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an inspiring home in cape town.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

i'm on top of the world!

my maersk triple e is finished. it's probably the coolest thing i've built so far. it's quite a different build than the previous maersk ships (not that i built much of those), as the containers are in full blocks and not separate. i didn't photograph it here, but there's a really cool clear section where you can look in at the fabulous little green wartsila engine. the details are awesome. the bulbous bow and thel little bitty lifeboats are way cool too. i couldn't resist posing my new business card (yes, we have the coolest business cards in the world) mini me on the front, ala titanic.

here's a shot of the whole thing. the display stand is awesome and the details are just so great. the way the bow curves in front is ingenius and involves a clear cup piece! i also adore the twin propellers and the detailing at the back. it's a real thing of beauty and amazing considering the lego designer wasn't allowed to see any drawings or photos of the ship while he was designing it due to differences of opinion regarding non-disclosure agreements between two big danish companies. he was brilliant anyway. you can hear more about his design here. looking at this and listening to him, you can understand why he's a superstar designer.

and one more shot of me with my camera in hand. i'm sure i was up there on the bow, taking pictures of the dolphins that were undoubtedly playing in front of the ship as it sailed along. it was awesome to be able to combine my two favorite jobs ever in one awesome model. life doesn't really get better than this.

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how much do people spend on food in your land?

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how long should you nap?

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there's a new harry potter short story on pottermore.

Monday, July 07, 2014

the outside view from the inside

lego me being buffeted by north sea waves.
i've been quite bowled over of late by all sorts of things...things which have kept me from my usual amount of time in front of the computer. but they've also been good abundance of strawberries that demanded processing into juice and shrubs and jam and such; my mom's visit for sabin's confirmation party (and the party itself); lots of work projects growing in intensity in the push towards summer holidays; and a visit from my cousin. (actually, my cousin's daughter - what is that called? first cousin once removed? second cousin? we're not really sure.) it's all been quite wonderful, but it has cut in on my sanity time in front of the internet.

not our house. if our place looked like this, this would be a different blog post.
both my mom's visit and emily's visit have me pondering how things look around here from an outside perspective. this is a falling down farmhouse and a 10-year project (where we're only 4 years into it) and we're in our late 40s and should have a more settled, prosperous life than the house (and my aging, dirty toyota) may make it appear we have. and while i'm normally quite comfortable with that, when you think about how it looks from the outside, you (and by you i mean me) may start to feel a tad, well, insecure, no matter how much you (again me) try not to.

a walk in the creek with mom.
as for my mom, i know she feels a bit sorry for us with our lack of microwave and fans and proper curling irons. i've lived without a microwave for 15 years and have only missed one on two occasions...once when making homemade lip balm and all the recipes gave microwave directions and once when reading recipes for homemade mozzarella, which also seem to all call for microwaves. neither made me give in and buy a microwave. where fans are concerned, we need one for approximately 3 days per year if we're lucky, so we haven't invested in one. people don't have air conditioning or screens on their windows either for the same reason. the season for those things is so short, we invest our money elsewhere. and as for the curling iron, since i haven't had a perm since 1987 and left my hot rollers behind in 1997, i've been pretty much a flat iron girl. but i'm certain these things feed into my mother's notion that europe is, at the heart of it, a backward, old-fashioned civilization that can at best be pitied. i think she hopes it's just a passing phase for me.

fourth of july wish lanterns (we didn't have any fireworks).
as for emily, who is young and sweet and open and curious and smart and just at the beginning of becoming who she will become, i loved the freshness of seeing things a little bit through her eyes (even tho' it's actually impossible to see what another person sees). or at least what i imagine that to be. and i've laughed a lot today, to myself, as i imagined what she may have seen.

everyone around here will eventually have to build lego
she would have seen that we drink a lot of wine around here. we build lego for fun, tho' we aren't under 12. we eat late. we're a bit casual about doing the dishes after dinner and content to actually load the dishwasher the next day in the interest of hanging out, talking or watching a british crime show. we go to bed late and we sleep in. i dress casually for work, preferably in a superman t-shirt and converse. we have a lot of cats. and bunnies. our remaining hen is a bit mad and insists on spending her evenings up a tree and coaxing her chicks, who can't fly as well as she can, up there too. emily took it all in stride and we truly enjoyed her visit.

summer poppies - just thought they were pretty, so i had to use this shot.
there's something to having a shared foundation. we both grew up in that small town in south dakota. we know the same people. we share crazy family members (some of them crazy in a good way and some less so) and although we have different perspectives and memories of them, that shared foundation means a great deal. it helped us bridge what is arguably a generational divide. we can share stories and memories and fill in the gaps for one another. it was, in short, wonderful. and it made the falling down, cluttered house just a comfortable setting in which to talk about it all over a glass of wine and some awesome cheese and bread. because although this house isn't how we would wish it to be (yet), it is, if nothing else, a welcoming place where you can feel comfortable and relax and have room to be yourself. and by you, i might mean me, but i hope that i also actually mean you.

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what if your password could change your life?

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what is the deal with the anti-feminist women? and why do they have a voice?