Tuesday, December 03, 2019

it just takes the time it takes

i'm weaving a four meter long rag rug. i spent weeks searching out old bedding in red and black and white in second hand stores, carefully ripping it and rolling it into balls.

on october 19, i began my rug. the end product will be 4 meters long and it will have a place of pride in my kitchen. the warp on the loom had already woven two rag rugs and they were cut off and so i had to tie up my ends. i am very fortunate to have excellent help from the experienced weavers where i weave.

i started off with an edge of 8 rows of "fisherman's cotton," which is the same as my warp.

i began with plain black fabric, loving how it looks with the pattern that's set up on the loom. i press the pedals 1-2-3-2-1 and so on.

it looked so amazing with the plain fabric, that i decided, after weaving a few rows with some of the patterns i had collected, to remove them and keep it simple with plain colors.

i'm alternating between black, white and red, more or less as the spirit moves me. i'm using less white, since at 4 meters, the rug will be too large and heavy to fit into the washing machine very easily. 

i decided early on to measure each section, so that when i come to the middle, i can begin a mirror image. i think the finished rug will be more harmonious this way.

since the loom has been in use for awhile, strings keep hopping off. it's frustrating and slows things down, but i also learn a lot from it. and it's a good reminder that this is a slow project. there's no way to hurry it up. it just takes the time it takes.

and since i can only go weave every other wednesday when the group gets together, my progress is steady but slow.

but progress there is, and i plod along. it's even slower than it should be because i decided that the strips i originally made were too wide and so i have to tear them all in half. this means that i'm doing a lot of matching up of ends, which just takes the time it takes.

but things do move forward. and i'm pleased with my edges. somehow, i'm a natural at those. but, i'll admit that when visitors to the museum stop and talk to me, i make mistakes and i have to back up. making it again, just take the time it takes. i'm learning patience. and perseverance.

and i'm well over halfway as of this shot. when i start to make mistakes, i take a break, get a coffee, walk around and talk to the others, and look at what they're doing. or i help reach things that are up high or take a turn at the desk out in the museum. and i just remind myself that this just takes the time it takes.

and now, i have under a meter to go. i didn't finish it in time for my big thanksgiving with guests, but i will finish it early next year. and i will be so proud of this significant, beautiful thing i have made for my kitchen. and i will remember that things just take the time they take and how important it is to enjoy the journey along the way.

it's so much more than cooking

thanksgiving eve salad with sesame chicken for dinner
it's so much more than cooking. i read an article with this title a few weeks ago. with my very domesticated (and wonderful) danish husband, i had to laugh a bit at the issues the author faced. especially when her husband volunteered to make dinner and then didn't shop for any ingredients, but had expected them to magically be in the refrigerator. my husband would know that grocery shopping was part of the deal. without being told. but i will admit that we do mostly divide the cooking along gender lines in our household. especially as the home renovation falls almost entirely on husband's shoulders, it's only fair that i do the bulk of the cooking. and cook i did over the past few days. we invited 10 of our best friends to a thanksgiving feast and it was my best performance ever (all that watching australian master chef is paying off).

my biggest turkey ever! 11 kilos! fresh and delicious. it went into a brine for two days in preparation for its tour in the smoker - our new kamado grill. and yes, that's sabin's first bathtub i used to brine it in.

potted shrimp as an appetizer for people to munch on when they arrived, since that big turkey was going to take forever!

i modified a maple-nutmeg custard pie recipe i found by adding pecans on top. it was delicious! though i was so full, i didn't eat any of it until breakfast the next day.

after two rounds of smoking, the turkey was looking gorgeous.

the skin got a little bit dark and i haven't perfected crispy skin in the smoker, but the meat was juicy and meltingly tender and, if i do say so myself, perfectly smoked.

it was a proud moment as husband took the serving dish to the table. it was so much fun introducing my danish friends to my favorite holiday and sharing this beautiful food with them. it really meant the world.

before i added gravy and a spoonful of stuffing. thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and although it's a lot of work, it's worth every minute. and that nap i took on sunday afternoon was bliss as well. it really is so much more than cooking, it's love and culture and sharing and friendship and happiness as well.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Joan Baxter's tapestry series :: The Weaver


Det er en travl tid for mig. Nu med stærk blæst og snestorm er det altid en travl tid; væv en stoflængde i en fart, mand, ellers fryser vi, selv foran ildstedet! Der er ingen mangel på arbejde og handel nu. Jeg lader skyttelen flyve.

Jeg har en anden væv stående, tom. Jeg drømmer om i en ledig stund, at sætte den væv op, kostbar og smuk.

It’s a busy time for me. Right now, among tempests and blizzards, is always the busiest time. Weave cloth, my friend, hurry - or even indoors we will freeze. There is no lack of work and customers now, the shuttle is flying!

I have a second loom. It stands empty. In idle thoughts, I dream of the most beautiful and precious cloth I will weave there.


Fiskernes overtøj er aldrig tørt. Det hænger i sol og vind, indtørringen gør stoffet tungt af salt konstant. Skipperen fra ”Tern” banker på. Han standser op i døren. Han går ind. Han kan knapt se i mørket og tørverøgen. Han har brug for et kraftigt stykke overtøj til havbrug. Saltet har ædt det gamle. Havet udenfor mit vindue er som et uldskind af fråde.

Den anden væv er stadig tom. En skønne dag vil den stå med et strålende klæde.

A fisherman’s coat is never dry. It’s exposed to sun and wind and its very fibers are grown heavy with salt. The Captain of the Tern knocks on the door and comes in. He can hardly see in the smoky darkness. He needs a new overcoat, the salt has eaten away his old one. The sea outside my window is a wooly froth.

The other loom is still empty. One day, I shall weave a glorious cloth upon it.


Mit garn-lager er lille. Jeg må gå til husmands-stederne, hvor spinde-konerne sidder ved ilden. Plovmænd er ude på hver en mark, skriver fure efter fure. Ingen hilser på mig. Ingen har overtøj på. Det er hårdt arbejde at pløje.

Til minde om det unge mistede ansigt burde mine hænder have vævet gode billeder på den tomme væv.

My yarn supply has dwindled. I have to go to the spinners, as they sit by their fires. The ploughmen are out in the fields, ploughing furrow upon furrow. No one greets me. No one wears a coat. Ploughing is hard work.

In memory of the lost young face, my hands could have woven beautiful images on the empty loom.


Jeg kan ikke udholde at være udenfor i april. Det nye lys gør mig fortumlet, de glade lam, grøfterne med deres overflod af påskeliljer, den nytændte forårssol, det glitrende glimt fra havet. Hvor er jeg dog glad for at holde mig inden døre, mens jeg går mellem spind og væv.

Ved påske liljelys kan jeg se en halv snes spindelvæv og gråtonen i mit stof samt den tomme væve i hjørnet.

I can’t stand to be outdoors in April. The new light makes me dizzy - the joyful lambs, the ditches with their abundance of daffodils, the newly lit spring sun, the glittery glimpses of the sea. I’m so happy to stay indoors, keeping busy spinning and weaving.

In the daffodil light, I can see half a dozen spider webs and the grey tones of my cloth, as well as that empty loom in the corner.


Et stort skib ankrer op ved øen. Den høje fremmede kaptajn forhører sig hos fiskerne i land. Det er blevet mig fortalt, at du fremstiller meget smukt stof,” siger han. “Engang i min ungdom,” fortæller jeg ham, “vævede jeg andet end gråt klæde.” Men inspirationen forlod mig pludseligt engang for længe siden, jeg væver ikke mere det smukke stof, du har hørt om.”

“Gå ind på kirkegården, på vej tilbage til kysten og dit skib. Der vil du se en sten med navnet Inga af Garth indhugget.” Jeg åbner døren på vid gab. Jeg peger på den tomme væv. “Se der,” siger jeg.

A large ship rests at anchor off the island. The tall, foreign captain asks the fishermen ashore. “I’ve been told that you create the finest cloth,” he says. “Once upon a time, in my youth,” I tell him, “I wove something other than grey cloth. But inspiration suddenly left me long ago; I no longer weave the beautiful cloth you have heard about.”

“Stop by the cemetery on your way back to the coast and your ship. There, you will see a stone engraved with the name Inga of Garth.” I open the door wide. I point at the empty loom. “See that?” I say.


Balle efter balle af stof er blevet til i de lange midsommerdage. Jeg stabler ballerne på loftet. Rotterne og møllene har forsynet sig her og der. Tre stofruller er blevet værdiløse. Hvordan skal jeg stå vinteren igennem?

Jeg klatrer ned. Jeg hviler mit hoved på den tomme væv. Jeg drømmer om umulig ubestikkelig skønhed.

Bale upon bale of cloth has come to life over the long midsummer days. I stack the bales up in the loft. Rats and moths have feasted here and there. Three rolls are worthless. How will I make it through the winter?

I crawl down. I rest my head on the empty loom. I dream of an impossible, incorruptible beauty.


Denne sommer rammer storme skibe uden søkort og driver dem hid og did uden ror mod skær og klipper. I natten stimler lanterner sammen på klippetoppe og langs kysten.

Jeg drømmer, at min tomme væv er en harpe. En ung konge væver vidunderlig musik på den, og da han er færdig, tager han kappen af sange af væven, slænger den over skuldrene og går ud for at være sammen med prinser og adelsmænd i en stor hall langt borte.

Summer storms strike chartless ships, driving them here and there, rudderless, against reef and crag. At night, lanterns line the cliff tops along the coast.

I dream that my empty loom is a harp. A young king weaves marvelous music on it and when he is finished, he takes his cape of songs off the loom, wrapping it around his shoulders. He leaves to be with princes and nobles in an enormous hall far away.


En ung mand er i gang med at klippe Garth’s 20 får. Garths får har god uld. Det er vidunderlig uld - alt for god til bønders og fiskeres arbejdstøj. Jeg gnider en uldtot mellem fingrene. Det er den bedste uld i årevis. “Hvorfor klipper manden på Garth ikke selv sine får,” spørger jeg. “Han er syg,” svarer han. Den døde piges far er syg. Det er tid at bringe tavshed.

Der er uld af en sådan finhed, at den bør spindes af kvindes hænder til en ung brud. Min arbejdsvæv er for grov. “Sig til manden fra Garth, at jeg ønsker ham god bedring.”

A young man is shearing Garth’s 20 sheep. Garth’s sheep have good wool. It’s a marvelous wool - much too good for peasant and fishermen’s work clothes. I rub the wool between my fingers; it’s the best wool in years. “Why isn’t the man from Garth shearing his own sheep?” I ask. “He’s is sick,” he answers. The dead girl’s father is sick. It’s time for silence.

The wool is so fine that it should be spun by women’s hands for a young bride. My working loom is too rough. “Tell the man from Garth that I wish him well.”


Jeg har den særlige evne, at jeg kan se på en kvindes ansigt hendes livs afslutning og begyndelse. Engang så jeg et ansigt, der syntes altid at have et lys af højsommer.

Alle øboere er i slægt. Du kan se blik og bevægelser, som har gentaget sig gennem generationer - et særkende skabt af det slidsomme arbejde på denne ø, som har gjort det umagen værd at anvende under pløjning, ved fremstilling af fiskenet, under høstearbejde, ja selv i forbindelse med drukneulykker og brand. Hun er den ene, som tryllebandt mig engang for længe siden. “Jeg er væver,” råber jeg.

I have a special ability - I can see on a woman’s face the end and the beginning of her life. Once I saw a face that had the light of high summer.

All of the island’s inhabitants are related. You can see gazes and movements which have repeated throughout the generations - a hallmark of the laborious work on the island - developed during plowing, weaving of fishnets, during the harvest, even in connection with drownings and fire. She is the one who bewitched me once long ago. “I am a weaver,” I shout.


I oktober suser grå vinde omkring huset. Denne oktober føler jeg intens tørke. Det er tid til at tænde op. Hvorfor er ingen tørv sat i stak for enden af huset? Hvad skal jeg gøre for at fyre op i aften?

Der er den væv, den står ubrugt. Se hele trenden! Der vil aldrig blive arbejdet igen. Den vil kunne holde mig varme en nat eller to. Men da jeg tager øksen for at smadre væven, kan jeg ikke gøre det. Jeg støtter mit hoved på den tomme væv. Hvorfor er rammen våd? Kold rystende gråd fra en gammel mands øjne!

In October, the grey winds rage around the house. This year, I feel an intense draught. It’s time to light the fire. But why is there no peat stacked at the end of the house? What will I do for a fire tonight?

The loom stands there, unused. Look at that warp! No one will ever work there again. It could keep me warm a night or two. But, as I take up the axe to smash the loom, I can’t do it. I rest my head on the empty loom. Why is the frame wet? The cold shakes tears from an old man’s eyes.


Der er en mand, som fremstiller mere holdbart klæde end jeg kan klare. Han kommer til min dør om natten i det første korte snefald i november. “Den gamle mand på Garth døde ved solopgang,” siger han. “Det er din sag,” siger jeg. “Nej, de ønsker et liglagen. De har søgt på Garth højt og lavt, der er intet liglagen til ham.” Jeg bliver oppe hele natten vævende et liglagen til den gode gamle mand på Garth.

Jeg kunne have fortalt ham, hvem der blev svøbt i det liglagen.

There is a man who makes more durable cloth than I can. He appears at my door in the night of the first November snow fall. “The old man of Garth died at sunset,” he says. “That’s your responsibility,” I say. “No, they want a shroud. They have looked high and low all over Garth and there is no shroud for him.” I stay up all night weaving a shroud for the good old man of Garth.

I could have told him who was wrapped in that shroud. 


Det sneede hele natten. Luften knitrede af frost. Solens lys på sneen skærer i mine øjne som knive.

Jeg åbner døren. En vævning genspejlet i lyset fra sneen ligger fold ved fold over væven, som havde stået ubrugt i halvtreds vintre.

It snowed all night. Frost crackles in the air. The sunshine on the snow cuts my eyes like a knife.

I open the door. A cloth shimmering like the light of the snow is draped fold upon fold over the loom which stood unused for fifty winters.

* * *

These pictures aren't great, as the light isn't so good this time of year and perhaps the lighting in the space isn't ideal for displaying such gorgeous tapestries. They are by Scottish weaver Joan Baxter, based upon a short story by Scottish author George MacKay Brown. And I'm uncharacteristically using capital letters because I worked on the texts for each work and they, of course, had to use capital letters. That's also why they are in both Danish and English. It's quite a moving story and the tapestries are exquisite. They'll be on display this weekend (Nov. 23-24) at the magical little museum in Randbøldal. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

autumn fades towards winter

there's a full moon outside and instagram is full of people performing mercury retrograde full moon rituals. i'm not sure how much i believe in such things, but the full moon does feel like magic...even more so, these days as autumn turns into winter. we have foggy mornings and foggy evenings and i find myself taking the back way to get where i'm going, because then i can stop and capture such scenes. i think that sort of ritual may mean more than some fluffy mercury retrograde thing. what does that mean anyway? that mercury is fixing the gravel road with a vintage grader? give me a still forest, where i can stand listening to the silence, looking at how what light there is plays on the leaves, breathing it all in. now there's a ritual i can get my head around and i think it clears my path ahead more than anything else possibly could. health and prosperity, here i come!

a work for poets

A Work for Poets

To have carved on the days of our vanity

A sun

A ship

A star

A cornstalk

Also a few marks

From an ancient forgotten time

A child may read

That not far from the stone

A well

Might open for wayfarers

Here is a work for poets -

Carve the runes

Then be content with silence

--George MacKay Brown

working on a writing project with two friends from the good old blogging heyday and i'm struggling to get started. it's an absolutely fascinating story and research keeps revealing new and interesting angles and possibilities, but that makes the story elusive and hard to grab onto. perhaps i just need to carve a few runes and then listen to the silence and see what happens.

Friday, November 01, 2019

five things friday :: november 1

thing 1: it’s a new month, so i took a new route today, exploring roads that were new to me. husband says it makes our brains grow. and i’d like to think he’s right. at the very least, i saw some fall colors and this church, which looked pretty despite the drab, grey day.
thing 2: new episodes of queer eye! in japan! it makes husband being stuck late at work on a friday night more bearable. #imnotcryingyourecrying #teamyokosakuma
thing 3: when husband said he would be late and foiled my plans of a dinner out, i decided to make myself some soup. husband isn’t a fan of soup (one of his few faults), but i figured i could just please me, since he wasn’t home. and please me i did -i roasted two eggplants, a whole cauliflower and a head of garlic in the oven. they were drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds and herb salt. meanwhile, i sautéed three leeks in butter and bit of my homemade herb salt and thawed out a container of herbed chicken broth I had in the freezer (thank you past me). once the veggies were roasted, i popped them into the broth, along with the buttery leeks and blitzed it all up with my immersion blender. i had planned to add a bit of cream, but it was so rich, smoky (thank you, eggplant) and delicious that it didn’t even need it.
thing 4: learning new things these days. it’s stretching my brain in the best ways. it is as much a physical process as a mental one.
thing 5: i’ve been thinking this week about The Muse - who it is, where it is, how to make it appear. i suspect it’s really just about hard work and regular practice -whether it’s an artistic muse or a writing muse. the muse might actually just be discipline and practice. #revolutionary #impracticing

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

drawing the threads together

i know i just lamented that autumn filled me with dread, but this evening, on the way home from my weaving group, it was just gorgeous. small tendrils of fog sneaking into the low spots, the blueish light that contains hints of the winter ahead descending, leaving trees to stand as starkly beautiful silhouettes, still clad in their leaves for now. it's strangely warm, it was still 13°C this evening, which probably explains the fog. it was a good day, spent at two different small museums, stretching my brain around how tablet weaving works, as well as how to create different patterns and a wider band on a small band loom. i am so fortunate to have amazing women in my life who know all about these things and who are patiently helping me rewire my brain. once again, i am struck that in weaving, i find deeper meaning - how we draw together the threads of our lives and find depth and beauty. my threads are still a bit tangled, but days like today move me in the right direction.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

dear autumn

dear autumn,

you and i used to have such a great relationship. you used to bring with you the promise of a new semester, the excitement of all of the new books to be read from a fresh syllabus, the comfort of a new university sweatshirt and the impending trip to the seminary co-op bookstore. when i close my eyes, i can hear the crunch of leaves, feel the crispness of your air in my nose. i'm enveloped by the memory of a new brown suede coat wrapped around me as i walk down 57th street and turn on woodlawn, so i can pass by the classic lines of frank lloyd wright's robie house as i head for campus. the golden sunshine is stunning on the red and orange leaves, making the day look warmer than it actually is.

these days, autumn, you fill me with a bit more dread. there's no new semester beginning, there's just the impending darkness of winter ahead. short, often grey days and relentless rain, wind sweeping in off the distant north sea to the west, the trees denuded before they even have a chance to change to glorious jewel tones.

autumn, you give way too easily to the darkness of winter in these latitudes, and that's why you fill me with dread. please be kind this year, with a few glorious golden days to look back on when the darkness comes.

your old friend,

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

zen koan inspiration

the friend i stayed with in arizona had a small collection of amazing little zen koan 'zines from the 70s. they were done by paul reps. on the front, it says you can send away for a bag with all six for $3. they were so amazing, i had to photograph them.  i had vaguely heard of zen koans, but never worked with them, what with my inability to meditate properly and all. i can see the attraction - an enigmatic phrase to ponder in silence, what could be better?  i have a couple that have always stuck with me, though they are not official buddhist zen koans, i think they have a koanesque quality. one is a quote from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy: "reality is frequently inaccurate." and from my favorite 20th century russian author, andrei bitov, "unreality is a condition of life." funny, i think they're related. maybe when i try the 15 minutes of meditation tomorrow morning (for the sake of my brain), i'll ponder those. i also feel inspired by paul reps' art, to dig out a typewriter, work with them and a little bit of payne's grey. do you have a personal zen koan (maybe you didn't even know it was one) you ponder when you have a moment of stillness?