Wednesday, June 24, 2015

can you have a kitten for a spirit animal?

we have to take our sunshine however we can get it these days. what you can't really tell in this photo is that the sun was shining brightly simultaneously with it pissing down rain. i'm not sure why the rain didn't show in the photo. maybe because of all of that dazzling green. or maybe it's demonic rain that doesn't show on camera. whatever it is, i swear it was raining.

the weather has sucked for weeks now and it's affecting my mood. the dismal danish election results didn't help. we knew we'd landed in the middle of the danish countryside equivalent of orange county, but learning that 41% of the population in our area voted for dansk folkeparti, the most xenophobic, conservative, right-wing party in denmark, was disheartening to say the least, especially with their attitude towards foreigners, what with being one and all. i'm still not over it. and neither is husband. he's now joined two political parties, to try them both out and see which one is for him.

at least we have kittens. they do help improve my mood. i was feeling a bit down and decidedly headachy at one point today, having one of those (thankfully seldom) moments of reading facebook and feeling like the whole world has a way better life than me, and the kittens scrambled up to me and proceeded to bombard me with their cuteness until i felt better. cats are the best therapy.

i also spent some time weeding in the garden and watering in the greenhouse. that helps too. there's something just so honest about weeding. you can't get around it and it just takes the time and effort that it takes. and it's so strangely satisfying. so much of what we do today is ephemeral, just a series of 0s and 1s when it comes down to it, but weeding, you can literally feel between your fingers and you can actually see the results of what you've done. it's so wonderfully analog. and there are days when that's precisely what one needs. but a kitten or two doesn't hurt.

i wonder if a kitten is my spirit animal?

* * *

there is a real (im)migration crisis going on in europe
and this article (in slightly strange norwegian english) brings it home.

* * *

a bit of inspiration from
seven decades of soviet photography.

* * *

and for a laugh?
buzzfeed showed pictures of danish stuff to non-danes.

* * *

if you're listening to season 2 of the start-up podcast,
you should read this piece on their feature company.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


we may be having the coldest summer on record, but for a scene like this, you can don a sweater and your wellies and just get out there and snap some pictures, even if it is nearly midnight.

and breathe in the cool, still air. 

and feel the stillness and the quiet.

and be at peace.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

party preparations

gin cocktails, freshly-squeezed lemonade. guacamole (to go with grilled burgers). yup. we're having a party. more when it's all over. so much fun it almost doesn't even matter that my sister is apparently still not speaking to me. #getoveritalready #whateveritis

Thursday, June 18, 2015

thank goodness the election season is only three weeks

nothing to see here...
today is the danish election and fittingly, DR, the national media concern, has depicted the past four years in LEGO - pretty fitting since the female prime minister has had her share of botox and thus looks pretty authentic immortalized in plastic. i can't vote in the national election, since i'm not a citizen (tho' i can vote in the municipal and regional elections), but i've followed it quite closely and husband is going to spend all day as a monitor at the polling place, because finally, at the age of 50, he joined a political party. he is, however, not going to vote for that party. or so he says. there are so many parties in danish politics that it's hard for me to know who i'd vote for (probably the radikale, as they are the well-educated, sensible ones).

mostly i'm grateful that the danish election cycle is only three weeks from the government in power calling the election to voting day, so the vitriol and madness are short-lived. there are some things about denmark that are definitely better. as of september this year, denmark will allow dual citizenship and so i just might go for it and be able to vote the next time elections come 'round.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

on having a relaxed attitude to alcohol

it's approaching midnight again and again, i'm sitting here at the computer. we're having a big party this weekend to celebrate husband's 50th (it was back in february, but we waited (perhaps in vain) for better weather) and all of the plans and preparations are whirling in my head. thank odin for pinterest. and for being a list-maker. i'm off to germany tomorrow to lay in supplies (read: alcohol). because what party is complete without cocktails and wine and beer and cider? and a bunch of good food. although our weather is iffy and potentially not cooperating, it's going to be an awesome party.

and the child will have a party the weekend after, to celebrate officially leaving folkeskole for good, so i'll also lay in supplies for that as well. and some of her friends are having a party this friday and they've gathered up their pennies (almost literally) and given me a list of what to buy for them. yes, i have become that person we used to seek out when we were underage back in the day - that person who was old enough to buy alcohol and willing to do so.

buying alcohol for teenagers, you say, frowning. and yes, i say, smiling. because here in denmark, we have a relaxed attitude about such things. better to provide the kids with low-alcohol cider and "shots" in a bottle that have about the same alcohol content as wine and to know what they're doing and let them do it in a safe, gently observed environment, than to make it something that's taboo and have them sneak around. and what we find is that they don't drink all those ciders, they drink plenty of sodas (because we buy those too) and they laugh and listen to music. in actual fact, they're pretty darn sensible about it all. and that's because it's considered normal and not something forbidden and exotic and therefore appealing.

and we're not the only parents that are relaxed like this. pretty much everyone i know is. and it makes me grateful to be raising my child in a place where common sense still prevails. and cheap cases of cider are available just across the border. kind of like back when i was in college in south dakota and the low-point alcohol drinking age was still 18 in minnesota...

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

what i was trying to say as i unsuccessfully tried to say it a.k.a. thank you bill

following immediately on the heels of last evening's musings on owning my own copyright, a friend posted this article on facebook. and while i can swear like a sailor myself when it's warranted, it does feature rather excessive use of "fuck," and isn't for the faint of heart if you're not in the mood to read that word quite a few times. but the message is good - about learning when to give a fuck and about how very often we're not very good at recognizing those times and that we essentially give a fuck way too often. and it is also about how not giving a fuck is different than not caring. it could be quite freeing to give less fucks, frankly, but i suppose that once you reach a certain point in life, mortgage and obligations and even age intervene and we find ourselves having to give a fuck about things we would like not to.

things like ending a sentence with a preposition (or infinitive marker as the case may be). which i clearly do not give a fuck about (there's the preposition).

time passes. i stare at the screen....the words won't loosen, the floodgates won't open. not yet.

while i was sitting here, staring at the screen, trying to uncork the bottle of words that have accumulated inside of me over recent months, bill wrote this on my previous post...and he says it all more powerfully than i can right now, so i will share it with you here in case you didn't check the comments....

I’ve never believed our synapses fire with precision or orderliness …

We are both victims and perpetrators of our own chaos, our own timeline … and then we die.

You and me and most everyone we meet has agreed to behave as if not agreeing to behave within boundaries will produce the downfall of civilizations and a spate of crabgrass in everyone’s window boxes.

We accept norms of behavior, organization or minutia and future planning as if our lives depend upon the reality of hopes and dreams.

And yet … a few individuals ignore prescribed rituals and predetermined lives and they create … art and science, being, in my estimation, the two grandest of human endeavors.

But there’s a pratfall … a quicksand … a nemesis to individual creativeness… that despicable noun and/or adjective … the word is, of course, derivative.

To search within one’s psyche to fine the non-derivative and the unique is truly a life-long chase. A lucky few find it early in their life. Sadly, I suspect, there are far too many that discover their own uniqueness and creativity when their journey is ending.

That quest for non-derivative creativity is beguiling … it and love are the only two things I think and believe are important.

Sure, sure, it’s important to feed the dog, to vote, bathe regularly, to brush your teeth, to quest after knowledge, to search out the best and brightness and/or find kindred souls … nonetheless, all these secondary elements are but kindling and energy bars for the internal fires of creativity.

That’s it; we can do nothing else of importance.

and that, my friends, is what we should give a fuck about...

Monday, June 15, 2015

you own the copyright on your life

a scene much more serene than i feel on the inside
"you own the copyright on your life." what a powerful thought that is. i just read it here. i'm not familiar with ntozake shange otherwise, but that thought is precisely what i needed to hear. i think it resonates with me in the same way that elizabeth gilbert's "own your shit" did some time ago. it gives me a dose of courage that i've been lacking, making me think that all of the multitude of things i've been holding back from writing about should be allowed to come out, because i own them - they are me and my life and my story and even my copyright, with the emphasis on the latter syllable. but at the same time, i have to wonder how interesting they would be to anyone else. maybe it doesn't matter, i am, as always, blogging first and foremost for myself, to work out what i think and feel about things (it's cheaper than therapy after all). and with the state of blogs these days, perhaps it doesn't matter much what anyone else thinks as no one is reading anyway (i'm much less bitter about that than it may sound). but it is also daunting and it feels impossible to truly write something that encompasses all of the minutiae that make up the complexity of a life, even if i did attempt to write it all out.

i say this because i have, of late, fallen in love with norwegian writer karl ove knausgaard's writing and recently tried to read volume 1 of his six volume autobiographical novel-esque opus, my struggle. i say tried because i just couldn't finish it, despite really and truly loving his writing. it's a bit proustian in its level of detail and i never could finish proust either. but i just read a review of volume 4 in the new york review of books and i think i'll have to give that volume a whirl. he is fearless in his truth telling, and in his examination of the minutiae of life and when he began, he was nobody, so why shouldn't i be equally fearless?

there are many good reasons i've held back. no one wants to read a bunch of sad whining. i don't want to hang anyone out to dry (well maybe a little). i don't want to hurt anyone's feelings (and the fact is that sometimes the truth hurts). it might get in the way of whatever is next. writing it out will make it all that much more real. life is painful and hard at times and getting older is no fun, but who wants to hear that? and who wants to admit it? this all makes it sound like something much bigger than the regular disappointments and sorrows that life throws our way and it's not that. but sometimes when those small sorrows and disappointments accumulate, it can seem like too much. and so i've put off and put off writing about them. and i suppose that's why i don't feel particularly light-hearted and funny in this space anymore.

i think it's time to start owning the copyright on my life. i recently saw a quote on pinterest that went something like, "you own everything that happened to you. tell your stories. if people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should've behaved better."

Saturday, June 13, 2015

the fun you make for yourself

there were a million words in my head last night. i don't know why i didn't wrestle them to the page. nor do i know where they have gone. i'd like to think they're not gone, just hiding from me at the moment. 

yesterday had its moments. some very good and some less so. most days are like that, i suppose. but there was sunshine and i had some fun in the garden mixing it up with a bit of lego - bunny suit guy on a star wars at-at? the unicorn sparkle fairy riding a dino? those make me smile. juxtapositions. the unexpected. i like that. i also like that i almost always have at least one cat who wants to help when i'm out taking photos. we have to find our joy in the little things around us and our fun in the fun we make for ourselves. because you can't really rely on someone else to do it for you. it really does all come back to you.

* * *

8 authors give their advice on writing.
and i think karl ove knausgård might be my boyfriend.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

three words

bread. butter. radishes.
best. sandwich. ever.

i learned about this here.
i thought it sounded a bit wack.
but it won me over with the simple.

try it. now.

we served them at our salon evening this evening. it helps if the bread is homemade, freshly out of the oven, still slightly warm. chives should probably be from the garden and include a few blossoms, which are in their glory right now. but if you have other herbs, they're ok too. plenty of flaky salt is essential. and good, organic butter. the elements are simple, but you choose them wisely, they just work. 

and about those three words, we ended our salon (the theme was reflections, just like our spring exhibition) by asking everyone to describe themselves in three words. it isn't easy. you should probably just say the first three words that come to mind. and what was weird was the ones i was sitting there, thinking up, weren't the ones that came out my mouth when it was my turn. the words i actually said were: relaxed, creative and honest. the words in my head were: funny, laid-back, creative. at least creative was on both lists and arguably relaxed and laid-back mean the same thing, so maybe my lists weren't that different. i also added, when i said it out loud, that i was more of an introvert than i seemed. a good friend nodded at that.

what are your three words? are they different on a given day? or a given hour? or a given minute? who are you anyway when it comes down to it?

if i had to say them right now, they would be: nightowl, electric, awake. 

Monday, June 08, 2015

100 happy days :: day 100

there is something about the low, swampy wooded area at the end of our lake. the trees grow low and rather twisty, turny. even if it's raining or windy, it's always still and quiet there, a sense of waiting hanging in the air, but not a menacing one, more a kind of deep patience. and in the air, there is a vibration of primeval magic that you can feel, but which feels just out of reach, beyond your grasp, but still hanging there, almost tangible. it's in the green. it's in the quiet. it's how it's always still. one of those places where you just feel the magic. and you believe in it, even if you can't quite capture it. and my 100th happy day is a happiness that i have one of those places right here at home and i can go down there anytime and fill up my soul with magic.

* * *

and that's it, that was my 100 happy days project. it got me through a bit of a tough time and i think it really helped. it can be beneficial to take a moment to think about the little things that make you happy every day. doing it makes it a habit. one that i hope that i will continue even if i don't continue it as a post or a tweet. i think one of the things that i found is that often my moment of happiness was a moment of feeling grateful - for sunshine, for a beautiful view, for the time to take the back way, for cats, for a flower in bloom, for noticing in general.

but, in all honesty, it also felt a bit heavy at times. because not every day is filled with happiness. some days are hard and you just want them to be over. and i find myself generally feeling too earnest and righteous and not light-hearted and funny anymore. so maybe i need to find a new project that will help me find my way back to a lighter, more buoyant view of the world.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

the view from here

the last of our long spring holiday weekends is winding down. we got our fair share of most welcome sunshine. after a nice dinner (another of those south dakota beef roasts that have strangely been available in our local grocery store), husband and i took a walk down to the lake. the wind, which had been blowing quite intensely all day had all but died down and we had a quiet moment on what's left of the fallen tree (husband has been hard at work turning it into firewood). birdsong and the smell of verdant summer were all around us as we gazed at the peaceful lake. it was a good way to end the day and the weekend. 

i've had need for peaceful moments of late...needless strife and conflict with my sister has zapped my energy. why are we hardest on those we love the most? i have been reminded that words are sharper weapons than actual physical blows and healing from unwisely chosen words takes longer than a recovering from a physical injury. i wonder at times if you ever really get over the most hurtful accusations? especially if they are bewildering and incomprehensible. i've also realized that losing a parent makes you feel and behave in strange ways that make you unrecognizable, perhaps even to yourself. grief is a journey.

but working outdoors in the garden, or indoors on the new kitchen, or even cleaning, tidying and doing laundry - things where you see the tangible results of what you do - really does help. it eases the mind and soothes the wounded spirit. and so does a moment by the lake, breathing the quiet, letting it penetrate your very pores. 

it will eventually be ok in the end. and if it's not ok, it's not the end. 

* * *

this made me laugh.
"i went paleo and now i hate everything."

* * *

check out the amazing 1917 chalkboards they found under some other chalkboards in oklahoma city.

100 happy days :: day 99

the final coat of red paint on the kitchen floor.
another step in our long process.
we're getting there, slowly but surely.

Friday, June 05, 2015

100 happy days :: day 97

they're my favorite flower.
my favorite scent.
and they're in their full glory right now.

tho' i swear this batch smells a little bit of cinnamon.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

100 happy days :: day 94

mystery planes. from ukrainian airlines. three of them, parked in billund. the grass is growing around them, so it seems that they're rather permanently parked there. the happy in this is the story that must be behind this. surely a story of the crumbling of the ukraine, which admittedly doesn't seem that happy, but there are much better stories. intrigues. eastern european oligarchs. airline pilots on the lam. ukrainian school children who escaped to legoland? the possibilities are endless.

Monday, June 01, 2015

100 happy days :: day 93

ginny's eyes are open.
and isn't she just a little lump of pure happiness?

paying attention

sabin glanced out the bathroom window this morning and squealed, "there's a deer right in our back yard!" i almost never look out the bathroom window. especially not in the morning, where i've stumbled into the bathroom, bleary eyed and blind anyway, because likely as not, my glasses are still on the bedside table. but there she was, a sweet young doe, standing under the old apple tree, nibbling at the tender new leaves on the bramble of wild raspberries that's at the edge of the lawn. she's probably around all the time and we just don't notice, but there was something delightful about starting off our week seeing her there. she was gentle, quiet and a bit wary, but nibbled away for some minutes before disappearing into the trees. you never know what you might see if you're paying attention.