Thursday, April 30, 2015

100 happy days :: day 61

i'll admit, 40 days of happy still stretch ahead of me and that seems like a lot. like really a lot. but then, tucked away in a box, when i was looking for something else, i ran across the film from my film swap with the lovely shokoofeh. so i put it on the scanner and scanned at higher dpi rate (that takes a long time, by the way) so that i could have this photo printed in a larger format for our upcoming spring exhibition. our theme is reflections and although this is an alternative interpretation of that, i think the double exposure of denmark layered on iran is beautiful and deep and ponderable. the light, the objects, the dreamy quality, all give pause for reflection. and for a moment of happiness.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

putting the romance back in europe

i've shared photos before of the pictures of europe that i had in my head before i actually visited. i think as americans, we grow up with a rather romantic notion of europe - that it's filled with cobblestone streets, charming canals, ancient castles and grand sights like big ben and the eiffel tower. of course, the reality, when living there is your everyday, is that you might as well live in iowa or wisconsin. it's just your everyday and you go about your normal life, driving to your normal work in your rather old and shabby toyota (old and shabby because you pay 150% taxes on cars and that makes them very expensive), going to the normal (albiet rather small and with a limited selection) grocery store, coming home to your normal old falling-down farmhouse, where your husband is creating a new kitchen in what was once a pig stall. you know, totally normal, like everyone else.

but sometimes, you spot a charming little wonky house beside a moat and you remember those romantic pictures you had in your head. and you get a powerful longing in your soul, to go back to a time when the fantasy was still intact in your head. and you could go over and climb those stairs up to the little door, let yourself in and look around at the objects on the windowsills, shells, acorns gathered on a walk, maybe a feather. you would light a few candles, put on some tea and curl up with a book, occasionally gazing dreamily out of the window onto the moat.

and then you'd go for a little stroll over to the small castle, its walls a meter thick, to protect from marauding danes and you'd listen for the whispers of those who tread on those cobblestone walkways before you. and you sigh and say, "this is exactly how i imagined europe would be."

100 happy days :: day 59

i know the red door was already featured here in my 100 happy days project, but i couldn't resist sharing it again, now that's hung up where it belongs. and there's an area of chalkboard right next to it, so i can write the menu or quotes or whatever i want on the wall right next to it. it just couldn't look any better, unless maybe once husband attaches that big black knob that's there on the stool. it's so perfect, matte black, like the chalkboard. so much happy.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

100 happy days :: day 57

when you live in a falling down farmhouse in the countryside that was probably never that nice, even in its prime, it is a pleasure to go somewhere where the house is finished and not only livable, but wonderful and perfect, but still comfortable and inviting in its perfection.

it's a reminder that these things are possible and somehow offers a glimmer of hope that we will get there someday. what we wanted was a project and we definitely have that. and at times, it's not that much fun living in the middle of the project. but we will get there. we too have wegner chairs and lots of candleholders and books. this too will be a wonderful home someday and in the meantime, we can always go for a visit. and that is definitely a happy thought.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

100 happy days :: day 56

this stylish little foot bridge, connecting the old and "new" harbors in landskrona was named after my late father-in-law on saturday. we went to the ceremony. the ceremony was a bit strange and confusing and it became clear from the passers-by that the bridge had actually been open for some time, as people kept wandering across, just lifting up the ribbon which hadn't yet been cut. there was also an odd potato-head woman who did the actual cutting of the ribbon. since i couldn't really hear that well and my ability to understand spoken swedish is a limited at best, it was unclear to me what her connection to it all was. perhaps she's the one who drove to holland and picked up (stole?) the bridge in the first place. 

because the bridge looks like it could have been lifted out of amsterdam (and quite possibly was), but pretty cool that it can be raised up so boats can sail through. they demonstrated that with a little rescue boat of some kind, which sailed through and then sailed back, to show us all how it works. another weirdness of the ceremony was that i'm not sure they mentioned peter's four children, who were all in attendance. i would have thought they'd have been invited up to at least be close observers of the ribbon cutting, but oddly, they were not. i was left wondering if those organizing it all had ever attended such a ceremony before.

me, i mostly wished there would have been an exciting corpse lying the bridge, leading to another season of broen, that fantastic nordic noir murder mystery series that's a danish-swedish cooperation. of course, that program is about a slightly larger bridge.  but still, a murder mystery would have added a bit of spice to the whole thing.

as it was, probably the best part of the day was that we had a long wander down to the beach and around the castle grounds. we'd been there a lot when husband's two oldest girls were little, so we did all of the old, traditional things, despite the grey day. it was fun to see the three sisters together, talking and laughing and looking so grown up.

in all, a very nice day, seeing family and having more than one good laugh and toasting to peter broberg's bro (bridge). worth the long drive, for sure.

Friday, April 24, 2015

100 happy days :: day 55

not long ago, an organic boutique opened in town.
fresh, organic veggies from local producers.
frozen organic chickens.
local, inventive, amazing ice cream.
organic flour from a small mill.
awesome fair trade coffee (with the coolest labels) by just coffee.
in short, just what we needed in town.
so much happy.

* * *

this piece, reminding me of what i love about russian literature.

* * *

yes, please.

* * *

finding this more than frightening.
on both ends - both the problem and the "solution" offered in the piece.
what is happening to the land of my birth?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

100 happy days :: day 54

with all the cats around here, you'd think i wouldn't have a favorite.
but i do.

and it's still molly.

she's fierce, independent and wonderful.
and if i could only have one, she'd be it.

she's totally her own.

and a little bit mine.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

100 happy days :: day 53

(just ignore that dirty window. the cats jump up on the ledge and muddy it with their paws all the time.)

this is about the return of charlie!
she was missing for a couple of days.
turned out she was locked in the upstairs of the other house, the one above the new kitchen.
husband had been up there doing some work and didn't notice that she followed him.

alas, it took me a couple of days to find her.

she was none the worse for the wear and isn't holding a grudge.

she was a bit hungry, but otherwise fine.

but we're glad she's back.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

100 happy days :: day 51

unicorns spotted among the anemone, including one with a very rare golden horn.
 (i think she may have been hanging out with space unikitty.)

but seriously, taking a handful of minifigs into the garden and setting them up and taking their picture is definitely a happy thing.

try it, i'm sure you'll agree.

especially if the light is good.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

100 happy days :: day 50

we painted our concrete kitchen floor red.
could there be anything bolder? or happier?
i think not.

and my happiness project is now halfway!

* * *

need to do some weekend getaways to visit these streets.

* * *

Thursday, April 16, 2015

100 happy days :: day 47

homemade nettle pesto.
and you thought nettles were a nasty weed.
actually, they're way better than basil.
especially these new, tender shoots.

(dear google, please stop "enhancing" my photos aka painting them purple.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

100 happy days :: day 46

the blt. with homemade nettle pesto, aioli, avocado and thinly-sliced red onion.
possibly the world's most perfect food. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

100 happy days :: day 45

i know i've already used the baby bunnies as my happy moment.
but seriously, who cannot be happy in the face of this?
every day, i think they're reached peak cuteness and yet every day, they get cuter.

something has shifted. cosmically. in a good way.
i don't know what it is yet, but i'm choosing to roll with it.
happiness is in the air.
maybe it just takes 45 days of concentrated effort.

* * *

this is (pin)interesting and a bit surprising.
and tho' some of them are my own, not all of them are.

Monday, April 13, 2015

100 happy days :: day 44

scanner + bobbaloos + free online gif-maker = today's happy

also part of today's happy - hillary + kittens. the kittens are ready. we are ready. ready for hillary.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

100 happy days :: day 43

brand new sharpies and actually settling in to use the new lisa congdon coloring book, 
while watching netflix and drinking tea.

awesome way to spend a sunday afternoon.

oh, and i also baked chocolate chip cookies.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

100 happy days :: day 42

new books. especially books where you are supposed to write in them! or color in them, as the case may be. i used to love coloring with my grandmother, i learned so much from her about shading and color and staying inside the lines. coloring is meditative. you can sit at the table, candles burning, listening to a podcast or watching netflix. it's relaxing. coloring is good for the soul. thank odin it's become cool and that they're making awesome coloring books for adults.

Friday, April 10, 2015

100 happy days :: day 41

those dinners where you just take a bit of whatever's in the fridge and in the cupboard and combine it through some magical alchemy into something delicious.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

scanagram* aka my new obsession

i can't find the link now, but a few weeks ago, i saw some photos of cats perched on a scanner and i decided i wanted to try it. today, during my bunny photoshoot, i remembered and popped the baby bunnies onto the scanner to give it a try. i also tried scanning tobias, but a full grown cat just doesn't look as cute scanned as a baby bunny at peak cuteness does. and then afterwards, i just started scanning whatever was at hand...nail polish and minifigs. there will undoubtedly be more tomorrow.

* with thanks and full credit to molly for the name scanagram.

feeling the moment

a slightly disgruntled molly surveys the world around her. she's not super keen on all those other cats that seem to be milling around the place, so she's got a slightly sardonic look. but i admire how she lives completely in the moment, just feeling what she feels and experiencing what she experiences. she does have expectations - that breakfast and dinner will be provided, that there will be some petting and rubbing under her chin when she desires it. on her terms. and when she's not pleased with those other cats, they get the occasional bop on the head with a lightning quick paw or else she climbs the nearest tree to put some distance between them and her.

now, i'm not advocating going around bopping people on the head, but i am advocating just feeling what it is you're feeling in a given moment. when, last evening at the choir, i felt i wasn't accepted and welcome, there is validity to that feeling. something (several somethings, in fact) did provoke me to feel that way, it was real and so were my hurt feelings. so all of the explanations and making light of them and saying, "that's not how it was meant" (because apparently no one really wants to be xenophobic, they just do it for fun) do not actually change the reality of how i felt in that moment. and i'll admit i feel a bit resentful of not just being allowed to feel what i feel. why do people always try to talk you out of it, instead of accepting your right to your reactions and to how you feel? feelings are valid in the moment. while they may not always be right or grounded in the intentions of those who provoked them, they are real. and to recognize that reality is the only way to process them and get through them. whether it takes a bop on the head (including your own sometimes), or whether it just takes running off and climbing a tree to absent yourself from a situation, feelings need to be experienced for what they are.

100 happy days :: day 40

homemade oven-dried tomatoes. because yum!
and because the child wanted them in her lunch "packse*."

plus, they are dead easy...cut them up, drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with seasoning, put in the oven on 50°C, pour a glass of wine, watch a few episodes of buffy on netflix, go to bed, sleep in, wake up and voila! oven-dried tomatoes.

*"packse" is sabin's baby word for "package" and we love it so much, we've taken it into regular usage.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

expectations will kick you every time

i am in need of a bit of wonder woman's fearlessness at the moment.

i put myself in a situation this evening which made me realize that i'm still feeling pretty wounded. i went with a friend to sing with a little countryside gospel choir. i went with high hopes to be energized and filled with happiness by soulful gospel music and i'm afraid that didn't happen. and to be honest, i didn't know that i expected that until it didn't happen. expectations can really ruin things.

it started with the usual round of shaking everyone's hand, which always wrong-foots me. it's an aspect of danish culture that i never really get used to or comfortable with. going around a room, shaking hands with strangers and saying your name is, in fact, a really good idea, but it makes me wildly uncomfortable, even after all these years. then, i ended up standing with my friend, who was standing with the sopranos. i'm an alto and was told, rather rudely, in my opinion, that i needed to go to the other side. we hadn't been singing in parts at the time and crossing the half circle, in front of everyone, after being rather summarily sent over there, felt like a statement on my singing ability. "get over there because i can't stand the sound of your voice next to me." it probably wasn't meant that way, but it definitely felt that way.  and it took me awhile to talk myself out of my prickly reaction. truthfully, i never fully shook it off, especially as it felt like the part of the circle i found myself in kept pushing me back and kept me a step out of it.

the songs we were singing didn't help. they were all unfamiliar, difficult arrangements and for the first one, we didn't have the music. i'm a music reader. i need to see the actual notes on the page, i don't do well just listening and humming along at first. and it wasn't like the others knew the songs either, they were new for all. and it wasn't the warm, familiar songs i had expected. see, there're those expectations again. they creep in, even when you don't even know they're there, spoiling the experience.

the second song should have been familiar (happy day), but it was a new arrangement that was very different and difficult. at least we had the music to look at, but with three parts - soprano, alto and tenor, and varying ability of those there to follow the sheet music, i felt bewildered at times, thinking i was the only one in the room reading the actual notes on the page and that all of the others were in on this alternative method of reading music that i didn't know about. leaving me once again feeling vulnerable and slightly rejected.

not what i wanted to feel at the gospel choir.

i wanted to enter a room of people who were open and warm, or who had been opened up and warmed through by the familiar, energizing gospel music of my cultural background (this was a reasonable expectation, right?). because although i am a midwestern white girl, i do know gospel music when i hear it. and i wanted to give myself over to that energy and soul and warmth. and it simply wasn't there in a little parish house in denmark full of middle aged white women and a couple of men. and i am undoubtedly a middle-aged white woman as well, so maybe i shouldn't talk. but, i think you can take the gospel out of the US, but you can't retain the soul of it so far from its origins, especially if you have danish composers creating their disjointed version of it. one song was seriously like four very different genres smooshed together into one and it was downright disorienting. again, not the energy and comfort i was looking for.

tonight, i was reminded that i am wounded and it made me sad. and left me with that old familiar mid-atlantic feeling. i'll grant that i would be too white trying to sing with a real gospel choir in the states, but i can't even fit in with one here. so i'm left alone, somewhere in between.

i don't know why in these moments that i can't summon the energy to dive in and sing along on the happy day solo part, giving some of the energy to the room that i was wishing it would give to me. i don't know where my confidence has gone. and i don't really know how to recover it.

my inner wonder woman, where are you when i need you?

100 happy days :: day 39

a couple of solid days of sunshine in the garden. temps are still rather cool, but we soaked up the much-needed sunshine and optimistically planted and fertilized anyway. we started this pear  tree espalier and have divided our one big blackberry bramble into a whole row of individual plants that we are hoping to train to climb a similar setup on the other side of the garden. at last, the garden is starting to shape up into a manageable space that we feel we can actually really use. these things takes time and a lot of hard work. but seeing it begin to be something brings a great deal of happiness.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

sleeping with zombies

i read this medium piece on how the past may be holding us back just before bed last night. it must have seeped into my subconscious, because my dreams all night were one long parade of past workplaces. norway, copenhagen, vedbæk, redmond (billund was curiously absent). all filled with zombies. i kid you not. everyone i encountered was blank and stiff and walking through the corridors with a moan, even on the way to lunch. at least they weren't murderous zombies, more like pasty blue, clumsy automatons. in suits. and dreaming those dreams didn't really feel that cathartic. instead, i woke up exhausted somehow and no more clear on the nature of things. i'm not sure that i let go of the past all that much, tho' i did perhaps see those places in a new light. and perhaps the lesson is to stop idealizing them in my head, to stop giving myself over becoming one of those oblivious automatons every single time.

or maybe it's something else entirely. something that i can't yet figure out, but which my unconscious is trying to tell me. what do you think?

100 happy days :: day 38

a perfect little nest from last year, found blown down onto the ground after our recent windy days.
why is it that finding a nest seems like such a treasure?

Monday, April 06, 2015

do you look like who you are?

you would think that the older you get, the more familiar to yourself you become. but these days, when i look in the mirror, i'm not sure who it is looking back at me. i see more and more of my father in those jowls and that crooked grin. but whether it's me, is another question. i've never thought i looked particularly like him. i even had a cousin once removed who once told me "my mom says you don't look like anybody." and i think that somehow stuck. i can see my mom in my hands, which is quite reassuring somehow, as i always thought of her hands as especially capable. but my face? i used to think i knew it, but that's changing and looking in the mirror is like looking at a stranger. perhaps this is just a natural consequence of growing older, but i don't even think it's the lines and the wrinkles, it's something else, something alien and unfamiliar. and i can't put my finger on it. 

* * *

super interesting interview with li edelkoort.
she says fashion is dead.
and her reasons are very interesting.

* * *

99% invisible (it's a podcast, of course) recommended this blog.
humans in design.
i think my father-in-law would have loved it.
they're at the intersection of humans and technology.

* * *

it seems that some of the right questions are beginning to be asked about the germanwings crash.
tho' focus is still on training practices, i think it should be on crewing practices.

* * *

i recently saw marco pierre white on master chef australia and want to read this.

* * *

is the past holding you back? and by you, i mean me.

100 happy days :: day 37

new converse. because you can never have too many. 

Saturday, April 04, 2015

100 happy days :: day 35

dunkin' donuts. in the us, i would definitely not go out of my way for them. but make it so that i have to drive 3 hours to another country to get some and yes, bring 'em on!

Friday, April 03, 2015

100 happy days :: day 34

a friend and i decided to have a little shopping outing in germany on wednesday - she brought along her son and i my daughter and my daughter's friend. our intention was to hit the outlet mall in neumunster and head on to hamburg for the more funky stuff (e.g. urban outfitters and american apparel). on a kind of high to be getting away, along the way, we discussed staying overnight and extending our stay by a day. we even talked of going on to berlin, but in the end, decided hamburg was enough. while eating dinner, we jumped on and booked some inexpensive accomodation that looked pretty cool in the pictures. i have only been in hamburg once before and it was work-related, so i didn't really know the place. so, when i booked, i only looked at how close the hotel was to the center and how it looked in the photos, i didn't really notice the address. which happened to be on the reeperbahn. the most infamous of hamburg streets. we were taking three impressionable teenagers to the heart of the red light district. and it gave me a serious case of the giggles. i called husband to tell him and i laughed hysterically.

the hotel was called pyjama park hotel & hostel. it looked funky and modern in the photos on and best of all, it had reasonably-priced rooms that could accomodate 5 people. what they didn't mention was that it was situated between a strip club and the erotic boutique bizarre. we pulled up out front and made the children wait in the locked car while we went in. we went up the stairs to find the night clerk behind the desk. he was a real character, dressed in a leather vest, with longish hair and a necklace with bone beads, the type of guy who looks like he's been around a bit and was perhaps slightly worse for the wear. but, he was super good natured and helpful and quickly had us laughing and feeling comfortable. the lobby had cool custom wallpaper and was inviting, so we decided to go for it, despite the neighborhood.

we were so glad we did! the room was spacious, freshly-painted, clean and, being on the top floor, was away from the noise of the street. breakfast the next morning was served in the cutest little breakfast room. there was cereal, boiled eggs, bread, a variety of cheeses, pate, juice and lattes, all served in the cozy breakfast room, where it was so nice, we could hardly drag ourselves away.

despite the location in the heart of hamburg's red light district, i'd go back to the pyjama hotel in a heartbeat. you never know what you might find, if you're open to looking for it.