Sunday, August 11, 2019

in the liminal space

in a little over 24 hours, this will be the view! despite all of the traveling i've done over the years, i still get the good kind of butterflies when on the verge of a trip - i love the energy of an airport, filled with people who are going somewhere. people are generally in a good mood, either happy to be heading off on a trip or happy to be home again. there's an excitement in the air. sabin and i are headed for the US tomorrow afternoon. first, we have the sad occasion of my mother's funeral and then we have a long road trip to phoenix with a couple of stops to see friends along the way. although the funeral is somber event, i am looking forward to the closure i'm sure it will bring. we are planning music that mom would love and going to give her a good send-off. our bags are packed and we're ready to go. husband is taking us to the airport tomorrow, but before that, he's going to a job interview for an exciting position he really wants. i just did a video interview for a position that i'd really like to have. so, here on the verge of all this travel, it feels like so many great possibilities are opening up. it really feels like the beginning of a new chapter, even as we close the chapter on my mother's life. it's that liminal space - where everything feels fairly quivering with possibility - and the feeling is heightened by impending travel. it's been too long since i felt this way. it's nice.

Friday, August 09, 2019

five things friday :: early august edition

on instagram, there's this #fivethingsfriday thing and instead of typing it all out on my phone, at the mercy of autocorrect, i have decided to move it over here.

thing 1:  i had freya spayed this week. she has been our primary mama kitty for several years now, but i finally decided that there are enough kittens in the world and she has worked hard enough as a mama. it was time for her to relax. but i still feel a little wistful about it. she made lovely babies - including paws mcgraw, her sweet daughter who i have kept (see thing 2), and who also was spayed on monday. it's a fine line between enjoying kittens and becoming a crazy cat lady. i know i did the right thing, but it does feel a little bit bittersweet.

thing 2: paws mcgraw - she's everything you want in a cat - curious, funny, active, dexterous (she opens doors), snuggly, talkative and out to steal any stray pony tail holder you leave lying around (or tucked up safely inside a zipped pouch). i love her so much. she's not molly or frieda, she's all her own, but she's in the same category as they are. some cats are just special.

thing 3:  arizona. next week, sabin and i are flying to the US. we will spend the week in south dakota and then drive her new used car (a toyota, of course) to arizona so she can begin her gap year before starting at arizona state next year. i am both happy and anxious. it's the next step for her and her bravery in taking it is everything i hoped and prepared for as a parent, but it's also a really big step. but at least it means we get to visit arizona regularly! and i'm very much looking forward to our road trip.

thing 4:  the way things have of falling into place, even in a time of great change and flux and turmoil and even when they seem like they can't possibly fall into place. my inner fatalist presbyterian thinks it all happens exactly as it's supposed to, even though it doesn't always make sense initially or on the surface of things. so much goodness ahead.

thing 5:  pondering my next tattoo. we have an appointment in tempe at black sails with the lovely lolo. i'm getting a typewriter this time, with a bit of color - to remember mom by and to remind myself to write on a regular basis. 

just a little summer project

no summer is complete without husband engaging in a more or less major building project. we had long planned to build this building to shelter off the house a bit more from the road, which is quite close. it's also the first step towards being able to tear down the middle house, which is in quite bad shape.

husband did all this framing himself, building each of the sections over near his workshop and then we brought them over on the trailer and raised them (i helped with that bit).

there will be windows up high along the walls on both sides, but since we weren't sure we'd get them in before autumn winds and rain come along, he didn't cut the holes yet.

husband found a guy who rescues old doors from various places - these from a school somewhere. i even loved the color so much, i bought a can as close to it as i could get to paint the whole thing. i had talked about red or blue, but this green is perfect. we're going to have some vinyl stickers made for the windows, for a bit more privacy and with a groovy design of some sort - i'm thinking of incorporating our name, the house number and the nordic sun symbol.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

4 a.m. storms

i was awakened by the rain just before 4 a.m. it's been raining a lot in recent days, but the sun also breaks through and it's nice for a short while, luring you outdoors, only to be chased inside again by another deluge. changeable, unpredictable, much like life. it would be easier to cope with if i was better at going back to sleep when it wakes me. night before last, there was rain, thunder and lightning - husband even got up and unplugged the router, since we've lost it to lightning before. funnily enough, that night, i didn't hear a thing and slept right through. when i wake, i have a bad habit of looking at my phone. these days, it's filled with distressing news about mass shootings and the racist, bigoted president who inspires them. and one article just leads to another and suddenly an hour has gone by. it's hard to go back to sleep after reading about all that. it can feel so hopeless, this downward spiral we seem to be in. and my worries about my gorgeous child choosing to go live there among all those guns seem especially acute at 4 in the morning. no wonder i can't get back to sleep.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

gratitude, selfcare, purpose

i just saw this on linkedin - one of those posts by some or other coach, asking you to say what the first three words you spotted are. mine were gratitude, selfcare and  purpose.  and it struck me that maybe there was more to it than just a random trick of the eye. i think those words have been the words of my summer - perhaps selfcare most of all, as i've gently tried to give myself time to think. but i've also been very grateful for the chance to try something completely new, stretching my body and yes, even my brain, in new directions, while i give myself time to once again find my purpose. i'm also grateful that i've had the time to devote to this selfcare. when i glanced at the graphic again after uploading it here, strength and breakthrough were the words that popped out. i don't know that i'm feeling particularly strong, and nor have i had any great breakthrough, but i'll be looking for those on the horizon.

which words do you see?

the only way out is through

i can feel that i'm out of practice at this. i sat down at the computer to write after some surprise overnight guests (the best kind) left this morning and nothing really wanted to come out my fingers. it didn't help that our internet at home was iffy after being unplugged in the night during a lightning storm. instead of fiddling around and troubleshooting it, i headed for the library, but it's hot here and that's not helping the flow of ideas. i never used to lack ideas to write about, but my writing muscle has clearly atrophied. i was thinking that a way out of it would be to muse on a single topic or word, along the lines of john green's anthropocene reviewed podcast, where he rates two random things on a 5-point scale. but i can't even think of a word to muse upon. i think i've bottled up my words and thoughts for so long that they've formed a kind of cork that needs to be removed and it feels like i've misplaced my corkscrew. maybe just expressing all of this will help me remember where i left it. in the meantime, i recommend that you seek more exciting corners of the internet until i find my groove again.

Monday, August 05, 2019

a fresh start

i spent most of july on a freight ferry. now, i've been on freight ferries before, usually with a film crew in tow, but this time was different. this time, i was a member of the crew. lowest on the totem pole - but i finally got that elusive title that i'd never had - stewardess. or the very elevated "ship owner's assistant," that they tried to upgrade the title to at some point along the way. but that doesn't hide that the job consists of cleaning cabins and helping in the mess with dishes and such.

you might be thinking, "are you completely crazy? why would you do a job like that?" but, i can tell you that it was so good for me. after the past few tumultuous months, realizing the new job i took in january wasn't at all what they promised and that the guy at the helm was quite likely a ruthless psychopath, add to that my mother's death, and my only child's impending move to arizona, i needed to do something completely different. something where the only thing that mattered was the routine and where i wouldn't get embroiled in any foolish office politics. to be a place where i'd have plenty of time to think, listen to podcasts and stare out at the sea and maybe write a bit and find my way back to myself. and so, for two weeks, i sailed between gothenburg and ghent with a stop once a week in norway and then the final week, we sailed between gothenburg and immingham on the humber river in the uk, also with the stop in brevik. and just look at the fjord up to brevik, it's stunning:

i fell into the rhythms of the journey. up at 6, working until 1 or 1:30, a break until 4, then working again until 7 or so. long days, but i went to bed tired from physical work that somehow seems more honest than the kind of tired you get from sitting in front of a computer all day or gossiping with colleagues around the coffee machine. when the weather was fine, i sat out on the top deck during my breaks, reading a book or writing. i wrote a daily diary entry while i was on board and it felt good to be writing regularly again, even if it much of it was boring drivel. it's something i want to get back to and there's no reason not to do it right here.

i was heartened by a recent post on exactly this over topic on pret a voyager. a blog is the perfect place to do daily writing, and even though blogging has changed dramatically over the years, i was always doing this primarily for me anyway. i just somehow let it slip away from me and i got out of the habit. and when i really think about it, i miss figuring out what i think about the world through blogging. so i'm going to make a daily practice again. starting right here and now.

Monday, June 03, 2019

live your life now or what are you gonna remember?

i found myself fuming today. last week, the belt on our riding lawnmower broke and i went to the local "tractor place" to get a new one. i brought the old one with me and a picture of the lawnmower, in order to ensure that i'd get the right one. the guy googled the model number (damn, why didn't i think of that at home? <insert sarcasm font here>) and then badly read the number on the very worn out belt i brought in. it was nearly rubbed off and i was pretty sure he wasn't reading it correctly. i said so in the moment, but he was sure. two days later, when i picked up the belt he ordered, it looked much shorter than the original, which i took in with me. a new guy who was there, a bit of a young smartass, assured me that the old one was just stretched out. i had my doubts. but what could i say at 4 p.m. on a friday, other than that i'd try it. of course, it was far too short. so i went there again today. there was only one guy tending customers. he was the old owner of the place. after he tended the guy ahead of me, he just didn't bother to come back to talk to me, me being a woman and all. so i waited, and waited. a woman came out of the office and did some fiddling around and then finally asked me if i had gotten any help. i said, "no, just waiting for someone to notice i'm here." she giggled and opened the door to the workshop. some other rube was sent in and he walked past me, then turned and awkwardly asked me if i needed help. i showed him my belt problem and suggested that maybe this time we measure my old one before ordering me a new one. he took the old one and disappeared. he came back with one that was the same length. proving that they had it all along and that i wouldn't have needed to wait a week. i can only conclude that i received shitty service since i was a woman with a foreign accent and i said as much to the woman in the office. she muttered that they were busy on friday and i said i ordered i wednesday. <insert eye roll here>  and meanwhile, the lawn grew half a foot.

why do i tell this petty, stupid story? for one, because it's bugging the hell out of me. and for another because life is too short for this bullshit. women have taken this kind of treatment for too long. and frankly, i'm too old and too experienced to take it anymore. life is too short.

life is too short because my mother has been lost to alzheimer's. i have no idea who the woman is who is left. even her hands, which have always been a source of strength and comfort to me (mostly because i see her strong, capable hands when i look at my own), are unfamiliar, alien even. who is this woman and what did she do with my mother? why can't i remember the good things about my mother when faced with this shell she has become? and will this happen to me too? will my daughter have to go through this? will she lose her good memories of the mom who went to get tattoos with her and traveled with her and and bought her the coolest shoes?

i don't know the answer to that and it scares the shit out of me. but all i can do is live right now. and that means not doing a job that may someday fit if i'm lucky. and that means living right here, right now. planting my garden, enjoying the kittens, reading a good book, learning new things - like spinning and weaving and dyeing. embracing the creative people in my life and hanging on for dear life. what am i going to remember? i don't know, but i hope it's something.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

memories of funny things we said in the past

i was editing my facebook profile and found a old list of quotes i had there...i tried to add one and it wouldn't save, so i thought i'd save them all here - they uncharacteristically for this blog have capital letters, but i wanted to preserve them:

"Fart is not the f-word." --Owen & Finn, 11/06.08

"London is the opposite of Copenhagen." --Sabin, Munich, 22/5.08

"The fanny pack is like a modern chastity belt." --Megan, Munich, 22/5.08

"Can't you hear I'm screaming in myself?" --Sabin, Munich, 21/5.08

"He didn't even have the decency to pick a leaf..." - Richard, Batangas, 8/8.07

"Say things that are not true in the name of humor." - Monica, Batangas, 8/8.07

"I was in Hawaii and became friendly with the Canadian Navy." - Christell, 31/10.07, Hornbæk

"I taught myself to swim. I'm no good at it." --Richard, 15/2.07

"You can always recover in a Starbucks--from heat stroke or a hangover or whatever. It will fix you. Thank god they're everywhere..." --me, thessaloniki, 28/7.07

“Work hard, laugh when you can and don’t dwell on things you can’t change.” - Land Girls by the BBC

Monday, February 25, 2019

the mole man

we used to have a mole man - the first time he showed up, the countryside grapevine had told him we had a mole problem that needed solving and he came. he took 10 kroner per mole he caught and occasionally, he came to the back door (which opens directly into my kitchen) with one or two in hand, as proof that he was catching them. he would enter without knocking. he was a retired mailman, in his 70s and had a country twang that i, as a non-native speaker of eanish, struggled to understand. when he had caught enough moles, he would come to that back door with his little pencil-scribbled note, asking for 180kr. or maybe 210. cash only, please, he didn't believe in all that netbanking or mobilepay app business. once, i was showing him the way down a tree-lined path to our little apple orchard, where there was an especially pesky mole infestation, and he remarked that it was very romantic. i assured him that it was not. the mole man did not represent romance to me. last year, he got cancer. i'm not sure if he died or not, but he doesn't answer the call of the countryside grapevine anymore. i can't even look him up, because i never knew his name. he was just muldvarpmanden. and now, husband is trying his hand at catching moles himself. and they are mocking him.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

paws mcgraw and the plants :: a story in four pictures

you should see how hard she is on the pussy willows i picked today. i think she's convinced they are little bitty velvety mice.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

i'm going back to weaving!

when i went back to the magical randbøldal on wednesday evening, it was like coming home. and i wondered how it was i stayed away so long...sometimes we have to lose ourselves for awhile to find ourselves. i'm going to make a long runner for the kitchen. and it doesn't matter how long it takes.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

kom med mig... / come with me...

my friend christina and i have been planning an exhibition together for over a year. and by planning, i mean we made a pinterest board in january of 2018. we've put it off a couple of times because life and mostly work got in the way and we didn't manage to create anything worth exhibiting, but on saturday, we redeemed ourselves and held an opening - with snacks and drinks and everything! and i have to say that i'm really proud of what we made.

back in october, we had a getaway on the island of samsø, where christina's sister has a lovely summer house. while we were there, i made sewed up this little paper feathery dress that had been rolling around in my head for ages. once i allowed it to come out, it came out very quickly and i had it made in under an hour or so. i had painted abstract atoms on the newspaper and cut out the feathers in advance, so it was just a matter of coming up with a design and sewing it all together. when we were first hanging the works, i didn't think it was going to work as part of the exhibition, but was very happy that we found a way to show it as well.

the centerpiece was this mannequin with a spectacular headpiece/bird mask (more about that below), encircled by long banners of different scenes painted on old book pages and sewn together on the sewing machines in long garlands of 7 pages each. the book was chosen randomly from my collection of old books that i was saving to violate.  it was the right size and the pages were quite thick, decent paper and there were illustrations, so i cut it up and painted a whole lot of abstract atom-like shapes on one side using payne's grey ink. those abstracts are my attempt to try to break out of my fear of placing brush to paper and of making mistakes and being a bit more wild. it's surprisingly hard for me to do that. but after painting a 100 or so pages, i felt a bit more free.

christina then got to work painting her speciality - birds and bits of birds - on the other side of the pages - sticking to a limited palette of payne's grey, bordeaux and yellow, with small accents of a more true red and some black. the book turned out to be biblical illustrations and a retelling of the old testament from 1923. though the book was chosen rather haphazardly and without thought for the subject matter, the pages began to speak to us - causing painted wings to seem like they belonged to angels, rather than birds, and provoking christina to paint a few scenes with breasts.  i painted quite a lot of birds and feathers as well. and a whole lot of small boats came out here and there. i found myself surprised by what ended up on the page when i gave myself over to the process and let it flow.

we knew we didn't want to hang the works on the walls, but have it be more of an installation. we painted ourselves a payne's grey forest on sheets of plastic that's normally used under insulation in building a house. the way the light comes through it looks pretty amazing and we hung it in two rows so that it felt like you had to step into the forest to enter the world of the exhibition. we did one tree in bordeaux, which was one of the other colors we had in our limited palette. the limited color palette helped our individual styles come together and harmonize, despite the differences in the way we paint and the lines we put down on paper.

i spent hours cutting out paper feathers for this mask and enlisted husband's help in forming the headpiece itself - which is a beak. it was originally a mask in our minds, but ended more as a kind of hat. the creative process sometimes takes you in surprising directions. naturally, when husband got involved, he wanted to use wood (i had been thinking paper or maybe papier mache). he used a big hunk of wood and started off what ended up as an absolutely exquisite piece, by whittling down the log with a chainsaw. i wish i'd filmed that.

he also was the one to place the paper feathers i had cut out, taking ownership of the piece and finishing it absolutely spectacularly. it really was the crowning glory of the exhibition, bringing together our vision, which started with this video by thievery corporation. we loved the uncanny feeling of it - the way it was repulsive, yet attractive and fascinating. we wanted our bird woman to be the same, tho' she ended up not at all repulsive, but strong and assured, eclipsing our birdman, who was painted flatly on one of the sheets of plastic. she was the star of the show and although she is beautiful, she is also rather uncanny.

i found a dress for her in a second-hand shop - it had flowers that matched our payne's grey, with a kind of white slip underneath. once we had the headpiece on, the dress was the wrong pattern and took away from the beautiful headpiece, so we stripped her down to the slip and it was absolutely perfect.

at the opening, people could walk in among the works, looking closely at the details on the pages. people noticed things we hadn't even noticed ourselves. like wings on pages that spoke of angels and breasts on a page that talked about the lord's heaven. we had many wonderful discussions with people - about the creative process, about the biblical pages, about the payne's grey, about sewing on paper. it was such a pleasure to share the work and to see how it was received and to once again be reminded that ideas are always better when they are in dialogue with other people's ideas. our work became richer and deeper, even to us, when we shared it with others.

this little boat was another thing that's been in my head for some time and which just had to come out during this creative process. the paper is some very thin but strong chinese paper that we used to make  seaweed prints on the beach during that weekend on samsø back in october. i fashioned the small boat out of fine wire and just glued the paper in place. The boats are light and airy and looked just gorgeous in the window against the blue sky when i took the pictures today.

i'm really proud of this work and this collaboration. we had a few prints done up of some of the best of the small paintings we did on the book pages and there are a few leftover from the opening. i put them in my big cartel shop here, if you're interested in having a look. they're signed and numbered and will only be available in a limited edition of ten of each.

where did january go?

goodness, i let january get away from me without writing here. i blame the cold/flu from hell that just wouldn't go away. i finally started to get healthy around the third week of january, just in time to start a new job. as you can see below, i did collect a few links for this post and it has been open here in my browser since the beginning of the month. i really don't ever shut down my computer i guess is the lesson we can learn from that. i made the airy little boat above for an exhibition that i'm doing with a friend. i'll tell you more about that and show more pictures in the next post. i just have to get this one posted so i can clear the deck for that. i hope your january flew by too. it's the darkest, dreariest month, so it's good that's over.

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maybe it's good for you to hold a grudge.

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love dave barry's year-end round-up.

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these memed captions for medieval paintings cracked me up.

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the truth about that stupid wall.

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this made me laugh, even tho' i quite like marie kondo and her tidying up.

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concentrating in a digital world. advice i could definitely use.
but it's a bit harder to follow.

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so, about that 10-year challenge...

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art that makes you slow down and think by david opdyke.