Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 :: we won't be sad to see you go

a blue-toned photo from each month of 2021 and a selfie that seems to fit the messy hair and the hoodie and sweatpants that were so prevalent this year. 

a selection of 2021's creative output. it came in fits and starts. weaving, cooking, stitching, quilting, lino prints, baking, gardening and dyeing. need more creativity in 2022.

and no year would be complete without the cats and the kittens. we said goodbye to our sweet freya (bottom right) when she got hit by a car. but everyone else is just fine. 

omicron is raging, and betty white died on the last day of 2021, sealing its spot on the worst year ever lists, but let's still hope that 2022 will be better. happy new year, one and all. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

home for christmas

three flights, one missing bag, nearly 24 hours of travel later and our peeks is home for christmas. bob is so happy to see her and we totally get him. i took the day off to make The Soup, vacuum and secure all her favorite snacks. her good friend, who wants to spend christmas with us(!) came along to the airport to pick her up. husband met us there between meetings. then us three girls came home to snuggle up with the kittens on the couch and watch christmas movies (love actually was first up). aside: dang, it does not age well, and yet remains weirdly charming. i have a quite a lot of work to do up to christmas, but the whole week off between christmas and new year's and i'm looking forward to making good food, playing loads of cards and board games, building a big lego set (i still have a couple stashed away) and having lots of good conversations. now, just to make it through the next ten days of work. 

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

dad's birthday

today would have been dad's 88th birthday. in this picture, he looks remarkably like jonathan franzen. i wonder if that's why i've always liked jonathan franzen. i look at this picture and i find myself wondering who he was then? it must be from the late 70s, as i know it's from our house in town. i was probably 10, which would have made him 44. who was he at 44? he was in the state legislature. he owned and operated a weekly newspaper. he golfed with his buddies on wednesdays. he was a husband and a dad of two daughters. but who WAS he really? can we ever really KNOW our parents? we see them so differently from our child's perspective. can we ever access who they were? 

it's a weird thing to ponder, because at the same time as we have no idea, who we are is so utterly formed by them. what do i remember of those days? i remember that making him laugh was the goal. that was always the goal. i definitely still do that today, sometimes to my detriment, as always going for the laugh isn't always appropriate. but i still have a deep need to do so. 

i find it hard to go back to the child me, to remember what i thought and how i saw my dad. 

but today, on his birthday, i miss him. i think i write this every year, but i would so much love to talk to him about the state of the world - about trumpty dumpty and climate change and roe v. wade and the rest of it. i don't think he was one to make it all ok for me, but his perspective would always make me think about it in a different way and well, despair less. i miss him. a little bit every day, but especially on his birthday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

a bit of light in the dark

i sat at my computer all day. my bossy apple watch kept reminding me to stand up. i didn't listen. i have a lot to do. it turns out that (re)writing an entire website is a pretty big job (thank goodness i have help). two weeks of holiday helped put my head back on straight, so i'm much more able to concentrate and get down to the work. at the end of the day, in the waning bits of light, i finally listened to my watch and went out for a walk. and i'm so glad i did. the nearly full moon was rising and the air was crisp and cool. i walked 4km and it got pretty thoroughly dark by the time i returned, even though it only took about 40 minutes. 

it's kind of amazing how that 40 minutes of fresh air and being in my body means that when i got back home, i'm full of ideas and energy. that's also surely down to the two weeks of holiday. i always feel like travel fills me with ideas and energy. and now i know that taking a walk helps me keep hold of that. 

the problem is that it's the dark time of year and it's going to get darker for another month. since we live in country roads, i can put on a high visibility vest and get out there and walk anyway. my phone has light. we have a headlamp. this is doable. and worth it for the ideas and energy. 

a brisk walk, like shining a bit of light in the dark. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

dyeing for some creativity

on the last night of my vacation, i went to a shibori/tie-dye dyeing session with my local creative group. i took some odds and ends of cloth. most of it from the fabric we used at sabin's confirmation in 2014, which was a bit stained by food and wine. now you can't see any of those stains. the piece on the left was a remnant of white linen. i put it in the second round of the dye bath, so it came out lighter, but still cool.

i played with shibori techniques - folding in triangles and using cardboard and plastic as resists, as well as putting a ton of small rubber bands on one piece. i wish it was indigo, but it was navy blue batik dye. i really love how it turned out. i brought them home and washed them. the smaller piece is one of the fabric bags my sister made for wrapping everyone's christmas presents a couple of years ago. 

i've been saving husband's old shirts to make a quilt for some years now and i think they would look great with these bits and pieces, since most of them are shades of blue. and i already pinned about 50 inspiration pins for the next time we have a dye evening. i think it would be great to work with some natural dyes the next time, rather than commercial batik dyes. 

these are a couple more of the linen bags my sister made. i used the second round of some red dye that the others had used - i really love this salmon color that came out of the pot. this is giving me so many ideas, i definitely want to do some more. and the next time we do an indigo pot down at the museum, i'll definitely be taking some cloth along. i feel like being on vacation opened up my creativity again. now, to try to hold onto it and keep it going. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

a quick visit to the grand canyon

we visited the grand canyon on sunday. i hadn't been there since the mid-90s and husband had never been. sabin had driven up with a friend last year. we didn't have time do an actual hike, so we just visited several observation points and even had a picnic that we'd brought along at grandview point, which was our favorite of the spots we stopped.

it was so much fun, watching husband's face as he gazed upon the grandeur of the canyon for the first time. i got goosebumps watching him take it in. and i felt a little envious of him for that first time experience. though it had been so long since i'd been there that it almost felt new again. and it's so awe-inspiring that it cannot fail to impress.

we are already planning to have a longer trip, one where we get to camp(!) and do some hiking. it's a place that warrants further exploration, for sure!

kitten in a crown

we've got to get a handle on the wild kitties around here, they keep having kittens! at least we caught these and we are taming them so we can find them homes. next up, getting their mama fixed!

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

lessons learned at the loom

these photos represent three months of work. at the end of july, i began winding a warp in linen. i had chosen what are arguably swedish colors - two shades of blue, yellow and white. the stripes came out rather organically, i would listen to my intuition and then switch colors, creating some stripes wide and some thin, as the mood struck. we decided to call it julie's crazy stripes. 

as you may know, i weave at a little museum about 30km away from home. it's one of those places that have a kind of magic that's hard to explain. you just have to feel it. and you can feel it instantly when you step out of the car. you feel your shoulders relax and you breathe more deeply. 

i haven't done the project alone. the weaving group meets every wednesday and i can't always get there, thanks to being busy at work, so another person wound the warp onto the loom and threaded it through the heddles and prepared it. i got to do a little bit of this, so i learned about it as well, but it was mostly done by one of the other sweet old ladies.

the loom is from 1913 and i like to sit there and imagine all of the cloth that has been created on it. but it also means that she is a bit of a temperamental old thing and she needs getting used to. and yes, i think she's a she. though i'm not sure i can explain why. i just get a feminine impression when i sit at her. and lest you think all looms must be female, the one i wove my rag rugs on is definitely a boy. a young boy. 

there were multiple frustrations, because someone else set it up in my absence, it wasn't until i sat down and had woven 5-6cm that i discovered that there were a number of mistakes that needed to be fixed. that was frustrating and i'd be lying if i didn't admit that i had to take a deep breath and remind myself that i could just as easily have made the mistakes. threading 400+ thin threads through the heddles and the comb isn't an easy job and if you're interrupted, it's very easy to make a mistake.

but what you can't do is hide from that mistake. it shows itself very clearly and very quickly. a loom is an honest thing - it gives you what asked for and nothing more. so if you didn't set it up correctly, that will very quickly become evident. there's no fudging and no covering it up and just going on. mistakes are clear and obvious and it's best to just admit them and fix them before you move on. there's a life lesson in that, i'm sure. 

so we stopped, and we redid a whole lot. and i say we because i'm very grateful for the wise, experienced women at the museum, because they know how to fix such mistakes and they patiently show me how and help me. and i couldn't do any of it without them. and it's such a good lesson for me - asking for help. why is that so hard? why do we think we have to be perfect on the first try? why don't we give ourselves room to make mistakes and learn and grow? 

above all, this wise old loom teaches me patience. she's steady and predictable when you get to know her, but she doesn't hide anything - least of all my mistakes. she shows them to me clearly and she offers me the choice of living with them or undoing them and starting over. over the course of weaving these four linen tea towels, i have made both choices. i had a section of about 10-12cm that was so full of mistakes that i couldn't live with it. nor could i bear the idea of the time it would take to pull it all out. so i fixed what was wrong with the warp and then started anew. and i have that section of cloth and i'm going to make a pincushion or two of it, to remind me that even my mistakes can be useful. that feels like a powerful lesson. and i'm not even sure that i can fully appreciate it, but i'm going to try. 

elsewhere, there are small mistakes. a time or two when a single thread or two was a bit loose and so the thread got sent through on the wrong side with the shuttle. those i can live with. they can contribute to the charm of the piece. to show that it's handmade and that imperfections have their own beauty. that it was made by a fallible human and not a machine. 

and today, i finally dared to cut them apart. it feels like such an act of violence. i sewed a zigzag on the sewing machine on both sides along the places i was going to cut, so they wouldn't unravel and i wove a ribbon to serve as the straps for the towels. it was hard to cut that ribbon up as well. i spent so much time making sure every thread was right, that it felt like a violation to cut them up. but it also felt good. i sewed a hem on each end and i attached my handwoven ribbon. and it was satisfying. 

and now, they're soaking overnight in an enamel bowl of cold water. i will wash them tomorrow and that will bring them together into the soft, usable, absorbent tea towels they will become. and then i will let them dry and i will wrap them up and give them as gifts to two people special to me. and it will all have been worth three months of work and all of the lessons learned at the loom. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

how does grief look?

as i said in my post the other day, one of the things i've been thinking about is the individual nature of grief. and how grief hits you at the strangest moments and in the strangest ways. 

maybe it's just autumn, and the changing of the seasons, but i think it started a few weeks ago. i went to a gourmet knitting day that someone i know holds regularly. she's an amazing knitter and even participated in the knitting equivalent of the great british baking show. only knitting. and in denmark. and since i eternally hope to learn to knit and i like food, i went. so there, in a room full of knitters, i found myself talking about my mom's alzheimer's and how on some level i hadn't forgiven her for it. 

i know how terrible that sounds.

but there you have it.

and i found myself explaining to them the way we found, at the height of my realization of how bad it was with mom in 2016, what we thought were dad's bowling balls in mom's car and discovered instead that it was a case full of pistols and a case full of ammo. and how i still feel shocked by that. and unable to forgive her for what she could have done with those weapons. in that moment of finding them, i clearly saw in my mind's eye, my beautiful, amazing daughter, knocking on mom's door to visit her and mom not recognizing her in the throes of her diseased brain and taking one of those guns and shooting her own granddaughter. that didn't happen, but the fact that it could have takes my breath away, still to this day, as i write these words. and i can't forgive her for it. i can't forgive her cracked brain - for having all those guns, for loading them into her car, for the shooting of her granddaughter that she didn't do. and i can't forgive the state of south dakota for renewing her fucking permit to carry just days after they took her driver's license. what kind of a fucked up world do we live in that that's even possible.

the lovely knitting ladies were fascinated and horrified that such a thing could happen. it couldn't happen in denmark, that's for sure. and though i didn't know them, they listened to me and understood me and gave me space and that was a great deal of comfort that i'm not sure i've felt before. and i wonder if explaining it all in danish put me an emotional step away from it that helped me. and i think it may have been a baby step towards forgiving her, though i haven't done so yet.

i'm more certain than ever that this grief thing is a process and one of which we have very little control. 

but in the days since, i've felt pangs of missing mom. weirdly, mostly in connection with putting on my socks. which i realize also sounds weird. mom was a sock snob and i have a lot of her high end socks in my sock drawer. and enough time has passed that most of them are quite threadbare from wear and in recent weeks, i've felt sorrow about that. like when her socks are gone, she will really be gone. though she's been gone for more than two years now and because of the disease, she was gone for quite a lot longer than that. 

why does my grief manifest in a sock? i've got multiple pairs in my darning basket, but i've yet to darn them. would darning them darn my own soul? would it help? is this how my grief looks?

at least i feel i've stopped telling myself how my grief should look and started accepting how it looks. for me, in my own individual situation. right here and now.  

Friday, October 15, 2021

so many things to ponder

whoa, it's been awhile. things have been busy. it's been a pretty intense period and there's no end in sight. i've been trying to take creative breaks - a lovely weekend away with my creative group, the yearly trip with my weaving group, going to weaving, going to a gourmet knitting day, a pampering event with a friend (think facial and foot bath), followed by an art show and a really nice lunch, several work trips to copenhagen - but it has all left little time to think about personal writing. i miss the way this space allowed me to process things and it would be nice to get back into the habit. odin knows there's plenty to process.

today, as i made dinner - a roast chicken, jerusalem artichokes freshly dug from the garden and some roasted beets, plus a salad with avocado, mango and tomato - i found myself pondering topics to write in the way that i used to and it made me think it would be nice to be back here again. 

things that crossed my mind...the need that everyone seems to have acquired to have a diagnosis, the latest james bond, growing older, the individual nature of grief, what lumke would have wanted to be could she have chosen anything, how to best talk about kitchens from a warm, sympathetic perspective, the natural order of adjectives (thanks, molly), an obsession with growing things from seeds extracted in the kitchen (see the mango plant above, which i started myself), old friends i got to see again this week, sharing what i love about copenhagen, our upcoming trip to arizona (i SO need a holiday), tomorrow's make-your-own-ravioli dinner with friends, what tattoo to get next (i'm thinking a cactus), the chestnut man on netflix. so many things to ponder and write about.  

i think i need to start blogging again like it's 2010 and no one is reading. because, after all, it always came back to me. and it's extremely likely that no one is reading.

* * *

wow, what a story that was released on the day of the seafarer a few months ago (yes, i started this post awhile ago). tales of politics, containers, big tobacco, cancer and whitewashed company histories. i worked for maersk for 5 years and never even heard a whisper of this - only that sealand represented the great maersk move towards containerization. that and the banana plantation that they bought somewhere in africa to push containerization of bananas, which were hauled on refrigerated bulk carriers before containers came along. 

* * *

a national geographic piece on adult fans of lego that, if you ask me, doesn't give enough credit to the actual fans themselves. 

* * *

best ad for wearing a bike helmet ever. the danes are just so good at these things.

* * *

fantastic cooperation between marina abramovic and wetransfer.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

a box of stories waiting to be told

i came across an amazing item that sold on a sotheby's auction back in may. it's a 19th century box containing a collection of objects pertaining to the occult and witchcraft. i say "came across," but it's because i subscribe to an esoteric little substack called dearest. and monica, who writes the substack finds the most fascinating stories, mostly about jewelry, but also about interesting items like this. 

whenever i see something like this, i think of all the stories it could tell if you could only listen to it just right. it sold for just over £20,000. a bit steep for a box of whispered stories. i would really love to open it up and examine all the items. it was probably worth the price.

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

one down, one to go!

i was so excited yesterday to get my first shot of the pfizer vaccine. actually, i was excited already a couple of weeks ago, when i got the invitation and made my appointment. i stood before my closet, wondering what to wear. i landed on my favorite mid-length navy blue cotton dress from cos. it has roomy black pockets and i've traveled many a mile in it. it's my favorite dress to wear when i fly because it's comfortable and it means that i don't have to take off belt and such at security. not that i expected there to be security at the vaccination station. it just felt appropriate to wear my favorite traveling dress to get vaccinated since being vaccinated represents being able to travel again. i wore it with a favorite infinity scarf and i made sure i took my fancy sequined mask with me, as it felt like a festive occasion. 

when i arrived at the vaccination station - it was in an unoccupied office complex on the edge of vejle - the parking lot was full and i wondered if i would even find a spot. everyone getting out of their cars was in my age range (so lots of grey hair). that makes sense because we are invited by age in denmark. people were silently going in and no one was speaking to one another. i had my health card scanned and got in the line. weirdly, the people who had just had their jab and had to go sit in the waiting area came back through the line, walking a bit too close, if you ask me. i felt like they should have gone back on the adjacent roped off aisle, but they just brushed past all of us who were waiting in line.

no one was speaking and no one looked happy. i was feeling really happy and excited, but no one else seemed to be. there was a long corridor of rooms with numbers on them and people were going in for a minute or so and coming out and then the brusk little grey-haired ladies administering the vaccinations would call out for the next one, like we were small, dull children who didn't understand how it worked. i don't think they are nurses, but i'm not sure. it just seems like so many people are needed for this job that there can't possibly be that many nurses in denmark. i suppose they're all kinds of healthcare adjacent people who have been trained to administer the shots. 

mine was a bit cross and when i said that i had to have a photo while she took it, she was quite sour about it, saying it wasn't technically allowed. i said that i didn't intend to have her in the shot anyway, aside from her gloved hands. and that the moment was too big for me not to photograph it. if she'd tried to stop me, i would have pitched a fit then and there and i think she knew it, so she didn't. 

then, i went out into the big waiting room, where you're supposed to sit for 15 minutes. as usual, no one was speaking and no one looked happy or elated or smiling, though that's a bit hard to tell when everyone is masked. we were socially distanced and no one said a word. i set my timer for 15 minutes and then left when it was over. i had one brief minute during the wait, where i felt a little bit dizzy, but i suspect it was due to my excitement, than an actual reaction to the vaccine.

i've read so many posts on instagram and online in general about how happy and moved people have been getting the vaccine after this long, tough haul of a year, but i saw absolutely no evidence of that. the danes are apparently a stoic, emotionless people. i think i'll never truly understand them. 

and when i got outside? the parking lot was empty save for my car and like two others, which kind of felt weird. 

i went to starbucks and got a latte to celebrate and then i went back home to work. 

i woke up in the night with a low grade fever, so i stayed at home to work today as well. our receptionist at work takes our temperature when we arrive in the morning and i thought maybe my slightly-elevated temp would make her turn me away, so i played it safe. i felt otherwise fine, though late afternoon, my neck on the lefthand side, which is the arm i got the shot in, started to ache and i felt generally lethargic and achy all over. good to know my body is busy building immunity.

i can't wait for the second shot in mid-july.


Friday, May 28, 2021

i'm so over you, facebook

i had a couple of interesting encounters today with facebook’s helpdesk, which, in order to elevate it and make it seem more posh, they have chosen to refer to as “facebook concierge” (insert eyeroll emoji here). i am here to tell you that it doesn’t help. i don’t think it’s an actual bot (though it might be, i wouldn’t put it past facebook to fool me). the “people” answering your question (it happens via chat) all have strange names that i suspect are made up to seem pan-national – names like wani and jeia and azri (actual names i encountered today). maybe they just want to seem futuristic. 

all their chats are full of excessive amounts of flattery and friendliness. “thank you so much for providing more information,” and “thank you so much for sharing this with me!” and “thank you so much for your kind patience!” and then the slightly betraying non-native english, “thank you so much for sharing with me this.” and “it was wonderful speaking with you today,” despite not speaking with me at all, but only chatting. in fact, re-reading the chats, which of course happened via messenger, i am thinking that maybe it was a bot after all. but it was a clever bot, i’ll give them that. 

i feel a little sheepish for the way that i embraced facebook in the early years. i thought it was fun – i loved sharing thoughts and photos. husband saw through it and never gave in to it the way that i did. he’s so much smarter than me. i’m too trusting.

but back to facebook’s “concierge”…do you think they solved either of my issues today? well, you would be right if you said, “no.” and this is despite the fact that the account i contacted them about is my work account and my work spends millions of monies per month on ads in nine countries, so you’d think they would be a little more inclined to help. but alas, they were not. they gave me utter shite answers like “have you turned off ad blockers?” (hello, facebook, can you say self-serving? and also NO), or tried an incognito browser, or used a different computer? no, yes and yes. and yet, still the same issues. because my issues are related to the account and not the computer. 

oh, and did i mention that i had to verify myself 8 times – those being the ones that actually came through. i was asked to verify many more times than that, but whoever is pushing those codes through was asleep on the job. because honestly, facebook sucks. i cannot even express how much it sucks. and how much i wish that i didn’t have to use it as part of my job. i believe i’m at the point where i’d deactivate my account if i didn’t have to use it for work. 

the only consolation is that these are surely facebook’s death throes. they’re knee-deep in the midst of a roman empire-like demise. and it obviously gets very ugly before it’s over. dealing with their so-called concierge is only a small part of it. the rot is obvious whenever i log on. it's clearly populated by everyone's racist uncle  (or aunt or cousin). even the once-wonderful new york times cooking group is a prickly hotbed of righteousness these days. and the group for the isdal woman podcast is truly awful. people are just so mean to one another. there’s no room for nuance and intelligent discussion, or even just asking questions and definitely no room for  listening anymore. i have been as guilty of it as anyone, but i think as far as facebook is concerned, i’m over it.

so it's a good thing that today, my long-awaited invitation to clubhouse came through. thanks to one of the child's friends, who thought of me when she got in. i suspect my soul is young. but that's the stuff of another blog post on another day.

Friday, April 30, 2021

documentation of a creative education

i visited a friend this afternoon. she's a lovely woman in her 70s who taught textiles and all sorts of handiwork at a danish højskole for many years. she's the one who finds all kinds of looms and spinning wheels and such for me because she works at the local red cross secondhand store. she also has friends who have such things and they have reached an age where they want to get rid of them. 

we hadn't seen one another in a very long time thanks to corona, but we decided to have coffee and the season's first rhubarb cake today. it's the big prayer day and so i had a much-needed day off. i love her home - it's so inviting and everywhere, there's something quirky, interesting and most likely handmade. even the old dried up oranges in a little wood bowl next to some dried out mushrooms in the kitchen windowsill are beautiful. it's how i want my home to be. something interesting at every turn. 

she mentioned the other day that she had all of her old projects from when she went to textile design school back in the late 60s. and she wondered if maybe we in creagive, our local creative group, would want to use it to do collage or something. so she took me upstairs and she got out all these big folios from where they were stored. we sat down on the floor, opened them all up and went through them together. 

as we flipped through pages and pages of different pattern designs and fabric prints and sketches of things to weave, she told me stories. of teachers, of materials, of travels, of sources of inspiration, of the way that colors or patterns had fascinated her. i am kicking myself for not recording her stories. 

she insisted that i take all this treasure home with me - 5 big folios and several notebooks. i feel so inspired by it and i will take some of it along on our creagive trip to højer in the autumn. emmy might even come along as well and she can tell us stories. 

but i intend to go through it all carefully and photograph some of it and perhaps even work with some of it. there's a whole binder of different printed fabric samples that would make an amazing quilt. and there are some beautiful machine-stitched patterns that deserve to be framed (it's those in the photos on this post). 

husband looked through some of it with me after dinner and he was just as in awe of it as i am. she worked so thoroughly with various patterns, exploring colors and all the options. i wonder if any education today does this so thoroughly as they did back then. 

she started her education at what would later become kolding design school in 1967, the year that i was born. and all of the things she worked with seem so timeless and fresh, even today. i can't believe she didn't go on to work for merimekko or some other scandinavian design firm. even just the samples are just beautiful. 

i kept asking her if she was sure she wanted to be rid of it and sure that her family wouldn't want it. she assured me they wouldn't and that she was ready to let it go. i feel so privileged that she wanted me to have this. i feel entrusted with something special and amazing. it's the tracing of a person's creative development and a huge insight into a creative mind, as well as a glimpse of an education and a time that is surely gone. i can't imagine anyone going to such depths today. it feels like everyone wants to take shortcuts and rush as quickly to something commercial as can be.

and it was also clear in some of the assignments (because she kept those too), that they were being asked to think in a commercial way as well. one assignment was to create a fabric pattern that would work equally well for women or men. 

my friend wants our creative group to use all of this as materials for collage and some of it can definitely be that, but i think quite a lot of is far too good for that. i already feel inspired by the way she worked with patterns and techniques. for example, these sewing machine embroidered pieces can be found in sketch form and then a more complete drawing that was framed by passe partout and then in its final form, stitched with the sewing machine on fabric, also in a passe partout frame. 

so much of the work is signed and dated and we will definitely be framing some of the pieces. husband thinks we should go through it all, decide what we'd like to keep and then pay her for it. i fear she will refuse, but i think we should insist. i may have to invite her over tomorrow or sunday to go through it all again and to tell me more stories about it, which this time, i will record. it would be so cool to do some work inspired by her work and then create an exhibition - a kind of dialogue across 50 years. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

how can we be better?

is alison roman racist? i know this whole kerfuffle took place awhile ago, but i ran across it again today. and i find myself, a generally pretty privileged, middle-aged white woman, wondering how i can do better and be better? do i have to stop making curries? or middle eastern food? or listening to that album i bought when i was in south africa in 2007? where is the line between exploitation and just really loving the flavors or sounds another culture has put together? of course, i realize it's different for me as an ordinary person and not a (former) food writer for the new york times, but it's worth thinking about how we negotiate these times. i think hiding away in our own homes for the past year has been a good start, but people are getting vaccinated and that can't last forever. 

in the wake of yesterday's much-deserved guilty verdict for derek chauvin, it seems more important than ever that we, as people who have, knowingly or not, enjoyed all the privileges of the color of our skin, pay attention and try to do better. though i'll also admit that i have no idea what that looks like. so what i'm trying to do is sit in the discomfort of it. and talk about it. and think about it. and read about it. 

i cannot even imagine how terrible it must be to have to explain to your child at a ridiculously young age that they have to behave in a certain way towards the police because if they don't, they might get killed. my child is 9 time zones away and i worry about her, but i don't worry about her being stopped for some flimsy reason and harassed or murdered. and that, right there, is white privilege. and i don't know what to do with it, other than sit in an awareness of my discomfort, because on some level, i can't help being white. i don't know how i can make the police behave differently. i'd join the protests if i were closer to them, but i'm not. i'm so far away and it feels like such an enormous, overwhelming, insurmountable problem. it makes me feel genuinely helpless and deeply sad. 

i have so much sympathy and empathy for the families who have lost their loved ones so senselessly to the ignorance and bigotry of police. and the insult of an excuse in which the police officer with 20+ years of experience says she didn't know the difference between her taser and her gun is just breathtaking in its awfulness. what was she doing with either one in that situation? use your words, lady. 

the conviction of derek chauvin is a start - it is nice to finally see a police officer getting the punishment he deserves. but how did the situation happen in the first place? and the trauma all of those who watched him kill george floyd - how will they ever get over it? the girl who made the film - what an admirable presence of mind she had - but how difficult that must have been. but thank goodness she did it. but how can she live with it? how do you live with watching a policeman, who is meant to protect and serve, kill a man for no reason in the slowest and most awful way right before your very eyes and your camera? and how helpless everyone looking on must have felt. they couldn't do a thing, because those four policemen all had guns. all they could do was bear witness. and at least in this instance, it paid off and finally, a policeman was held responsible for his heinous actions. but still, they have to live with that. at least chauvin will, hopefully, have a long time to ponder his actions in jail and will hopefully never see the outside of a cell again (just as he will never see that 140 pounds the defense claimed he weighed. please. we have eyes.)

but the rest of us have to ponder our actions as well. whether it's crediting the cultures whose food we make and love, rather than appropriating them and claiming them as our own, or whether it's sitting in the discomfort. i genuinely can't help that i was born white into a middle class family in the latter half of the twentieth century, so i can't undo that. but i can at least try to recognize that that fact has brought me great privilege, perhaps in ways that i don't yet even see. but i can begin to think about it and try to do better towards those who didn't have the same good fortune as me. and i can demand change by voting for those who are willing to make it. 

* * *

have you seen this amazing one-shot drone video in a bowling alley?

* * *

Monday, March 22, 2021

another trip around the sun

i suspect 53 would have felt like a hazy and blurry year, even if it wasn't tainted by the coronavirus bringing everything to a standstill. it's one of those blah ages that don't seem to count for much. it's neither here nor there, and the difference between 53 and 54 isn't really a significant one. i guess i'm inclined to think that i'll like 54 better, mostly because i'm partial to even numbers, though frankly odd numbers of things look better. hmm, i wonder how that bodes for 54? not that i look all that great after the sedentary year in front of my computer.

however, i have all kinds of good intentions for 54. i want to do 10,000 steps a day. i'm going to take up my daily 750 words once again on the 750 words site and i'm determined that four days a week, those words will go towards the novel. i have about 7,000 steps to go today, since most of it was spent at my computer working. also it's rather cold, windy and grey outside, so not all that inviting for a long walk.  see, i'm already full of excuses. but hey, it's my birthday, so i can decide, right? maybe the 10,000 steps starts tomorrow. but first, a glass of wine.

that's the kind of thinking that got me through 53. and this whole corona bullshit. that's still not over, despite how weary we grow of it. and they're slower than mud at vaccinations here in denmark. 

but back to this birthday thing. it does feel like i'm in a place were they don't matter that much anymore. it's still awhile to 60, which will be the next significant date and since they're putting off retirement age, i'm not even sure that's that significant anymore, so maybe it's actually 70 and it's a long time until then. heck, look at joe biden, he became president at 78 and he seems to have found himself - he's not making any of those old gaffes he was known for, he's just getting down to business and being seriously presidential. it's so refreshing and my ptsd from the trump years is fading and i'm even sleeping through the night sometimes. i no longer wake up in a cold sweat, worried about what embarrassing and horrible thing the president has done. it's such a relief. 

apropos my birthday, i picked up a long-ago ordered book from the library today. i ordered it so long ago that i didn't even really remember - i think it was back in october. it's nobel prize for literature winner louise glück's averno.  on the back cover is a fragment of her poem october (capitalization hers):

Come to me, said the world. I was standing
in my wool coat at a kind of bright portal--
I can finally say
long ago; it gives me considerable pleasure. Beauty

the healer, the teacher--

death cannot harm me
more than you have harmed me,
my beloved life.

and that feels like the right note to end these musings on another trip around the sun.

* * *

whoa, cool AI-assisted story here. i'm not sure what i feel about it.
i think i am at once intrigued and horrified.

* * *

i think i am sad that zoom dysmorphia is even a thing.

* * *

juicy talk of fauxbrége fakes in an hermitage exhibit.
i learned about them in dearest, a very fun jewelry-oriented substack.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

unbidden waves of nostalgia

me and a naughty pony of my past - clearly a second place pony with that red ribbon

the past few days, i've had some waves of nostalgia washing over me. i'm not sure i can pinpoint what brought it on and i've been trying to figure that out. it might be because i'm listening to the vinyl café - the simple, but hilarious stories of dave and his family are somehow nostalgic, as many of them involve memories. if you're interested, you can find playlists of them on spotify. 

it's also listening to the new podcast that obama has with bruce springsteen (also on spotify, i swear this isn't a spotify ad). it made me think about when i was introduced to the music of the boss - on a debate tournament trip in a van to the now-long-shuttered university of south dakota - springfield - when our high school english teacher/debate coach talked of the nebraska album. i'm not even sure he played it in the car, except maybe a song came on the radio, but i think it was in the days when things were still on vinyl, so i don't think he could have played it in the car. when that teacher's name popped up, commenting on a post on facebook, i actually sent a friend request. i wanted to tell him that the podcast had made me think of him.

my cousin, normally flitting about the world for her job, is stuck at home in california and sharing old pictures prolifically in a family group on facebook. many of them i've never seen before. it's kind of strange that she has so many family photos since her family's house burned to the ground when i was 5, but i guess other family members have shared pictures with her, as she seems to have a never-ending trove. there's definitely nostalgia in that. and i don't recall having so many family photos around from that side of the family - i guess my dad was the youngest of 9, so there weren't so many left when it was his turn to get some.

i even think that my grocery delivery company has made me feel nostalgic. they're tempting me with the first asparagus of the season (it's from portugal). and that, of course, has me thinking of my dad, who was known for his asparagus. my patch is a bit overwhelmed by last season's weeds and i'm feeling a bit guilty about that. the weather is rubbish this weekend - it's been sleeting out there off and on all day - really more like slushing, if that was a thing - or i'd probably have been out there weeding and maybe digging up the roots and moving them because they're not doing that well where they are. and  i'm feeling like maybe my dad is frowning down on how i've let them go. asparagus was his pride and joy. 

do you think the pandemic is making us nostalgic? i was definitely feeling nostalgic in the past week for the beautiful holiday we had in barcelona one year ago, just before the pandemic was declared. maybe that's it. i'm so glad we had that trip, but i ache to travel again. and to see friends. and to invite them over for dinner and play board games. and to not feel like i have to hesitate. and me, a non-hugger, might even miss hugging people. no wonder i'm nostalgic. we've lost so much. or maybe we haven't lost it, but we've definitely put it on hold.

Friday, March 05, 2021

daily delight reprise : march 5


husband called out to me to hurry up as i was closing in the chickens for the night. he wanted me to see this cloud. it was much, much better than this photo indicates. husband is totally a keeper and that's today's delight. 

Sunday, February 28, 2021

daily delight - february 28

here we are, the last day of february and the last day of my daily delights. maybe i'll even continue because it's become a habit now. today, there were several and i didn't photograph very many of them. warm, homemade, browned butter blondies, some time at the sewing machine, a coffee and a brownie with a good friend, where we got to laugh and complain a little bit and talk through a recent stumbling block we both encountered. it put it all in perspective to talk it out and laugh a bit. i also listened to a bunch of podcasts and made some really delicious mushroom soup. it wasn't as warm today as yesterday, so i didn't spend that much time outside, but the sun came out for awhile and that was good. i spent ages looking for my chekhov books in various boxes (i have a lot of boxes of books) so that i can dig into my new book in earnest. i read the intro to it this morning and while i wanted to do nothing else but read it today, i also kind of didn't, because i already know that i will feel bereft when i'm done with it. you know that kind of book? bittersweet delight. and that's surely the right note to end this month of delights.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

daily delight - february 27

you might think that the molly dolly in the sunshine is today's delight. and she does delight me daily. but today's delight was something unexpected and hard to photograph. it was a phone call. i'm not normally that thrilled by phone calls, but this one was very nice. it was a great opportunity to talk through the recent strife in our little creative group and i felt immeasurably better afterwards. she managed to put things in perspective for me and i understood what happened a whole lot better. 

these are such strange times. we're all more vulnerable and fragile than usual. we take things harder and more personally. or at least i did this week. it was a stressful week. very intense. things moved quickly and i worked some really long days. it was both exhilarating and exhausting. energy-giving and energy-draining. things can be two things at once, even seemingly opposite things. we can be happy and sad. we can be disappointed and surprised. we can be curious and unable to understand. and people usually reveal themselves in so many ways and yet we can still be blind to them. we all both hide and give away more than we imagine. and it's human. and as bewildering as it may sometimes be, it's also delightful.

Friday, February 26, 2021

daily delight - february 26

it's snowdrop season! i filled my wonky little ceramic vases with snowdrops today during a brief break for fresh air in the garden. it's been a long week. i'm glad it's friday. i'm glad that husband went to get chicken tenders for me from carl's junior. he's a good person. it probably would have made me feel better to make some dinner, but honestly, i didn't have it in me. so i'm looking forward to those crispy chicken tenders. and to relaxing this weekend. doing something creative. catching up on photographing my #100daysofpayesgrey (see instagram), digging a bit in the garden and maybe baking something delicious as a treat. doing a bit of writing. and maybe some reading too. so many delights ahead. but tonight. relaxing. and enjoying the snowdrops.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

daily delight - february 25

this has been a crazy week with a really big project at work. long days filled with teams meetings online and long evenings working. it's both exhilarating and exhausting and one last zoom at the end of the work day that stretched to almost two hours was a bit miserable (see previous post). more than a bit actually. and i cried real tears when it was over. at least that one wasn't work. the work stuff is good, even it is very intense right now. or maybe because it's very intense right now. but the book i ordered the other day - george saunders' a swim in a pond in the rain - arrived today and though the stupid post person left it out in the rain, leaned up against the door, it wasn't there long enough to get more than a bit damp. and though i have a lot of books piled on the shelf beside the bed, there's something delightful about a brand new book, freshly arrived. 

guarding my energy

as they always say in the nytimes cooking facebook group - a kitten for the algorithm

the older i get, the more i feel aware of my energy and how the people i am around affect it. especially in these times when we're not around people all that much, it becomes much more apparent who gives you energy and who doesn't. and i find my lifelong desire to be part of a group (who doesn't have that?) at odds with whether or not that group gives me energy. and as i sit here on a zoom with one of those groups, i can tell you that it does not give me energy and in fact, i feel it draining what energy i had left at the end of a long and very busy day. and i am going to have to put aside my desire to belong and protect myself and my energy. my energy is more important than being part of a group. i don't think i've been very good at that equation for most of my life - too often choosing to persevere and go for the belonging, so it's high time i started listening to myself and my needs.

and now it's over and i have an overwhelming urge to cry. the pettiness and the snark. i just can't take it from people anymore. i think these times have left me feeling raw and even a little bit broken. i don't have anything in common with several of these people. they don't give me anything, least of all energy and frankly not even just general kindness. i have to not second guess the feeling in my heart that it's simply not worth it. and the ones in the group who i do like, i can still like them without being on this board. the snarky, energy leeches take too much. 

in these strange times, we need people who give us kindness and creativity and energy and we need to stay as far away as we can from those who don't. it's really that simple. maybe that's the good thing about this time we're living in, it has given me a lot of time to consider what's important and who deserves my time and energy. damn, i want my two hours back.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

daily delight - february 24

i couldn't let the month of daily delights go by without including what's a daily ritual - perfume. even through the pandemic, i put a spritz of perfume on every day. these two, both of which were given to me by my sister, have been in daily rotation. in fact, my barrel from min new york is getting dangerously low. i love its smoky, rich undertone and it's been the perfume of winter. but dirty flower factory by independent perfumer kerosene lifts me up and makes me happy like no other perfume. it meshes perfectly with my own chemistry as it unfolds during the day, the scent subtly changing throughout as i wear it. both of them are somehow related, but very different - maybe it's the deep, musk, ambergris undertones both have. dirty flower factory is lighter and brighter and more flowery, while still seeming lived in and down-to-earth. barrel, more wintery and smoky, like curling up with a peaty islay whiskey on a bearskin rug in front of a fire. i love them both so much and feel a moment of conscious delight every time i use them.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

daily delight - february 23

this cat. he's such a character. he makes me laugh. he snuggles with me while i sleep. he's very set in his habits - treats from the drawer below the t.v. around 6 and a couple squeezes of cat malt at bedtime. dipping his paws in my paint water. insisting on pawing open the bathroom door when i go in there (ok, that's a little irritating). he's a good companion for all this working at home. he's a good boy. hollister. today's delight.

a few random things i've been thinking about

into the fog

after listening to that great episode of the ezra klein show with george saunders yesterday, i've definitely been pondering how to get more ideas and less netflix into my life. one big step would be just to read more actual books. after four years of being glued to my phone by the latest antics of the former guy (twitter's new name for him, thanks to biden), i feel like i got dumber. hell, the whole world did. i think we're going to have to have to claw our way back to intelligence, one great book at a time.  and we need to have deep conversations about those books. in fact, we need to have more deep conversations in general. 

i feel like my ability to understand the world has degraded. perhaps because i more or less stopped reading books. i didn't stop reading - i just do most of it on my phone these days. and that's clearly not good for me, nor for my understanding of the world. after four years of constant abuse at the hands of a sadistic narcissist, i feel bruised and damaged and my brain is fogged and confused and it honestly feels harder to make sense of things. mostly because truth is so strangely up for debate. i hope it's not a permanent state, but i feel like i will need to work hard to make sure that it's not.

even just my ability to understand people and their motivations and actions feels like it's degraded. perhaps it's from working at home and not seeing or being around other people - more or less not really seeing anyone but husband these days. and all those old people i try to avoid at the grocery store don't count. i feel like i'm forgetting how to be around people. and communicating via messenger and email and teams doesn't help.

as usual, i find myself bewildered by people who don't look like who they are. that's kind of ironic, since right here on this blog, i wrote a post about how i didn't look like who i was. but in this case, the person looks super creative and alternative and fun and turns out to have the equivalent of a very straight-laced, persnickity, finger-wagging, rule-following accountant on the inside, without actually being an  accountant, in fact, i don't really know what this person does for a living, but it must involve following lots of rules and even coming up with new ones to also follow. maybe i object because it's so disappointing. i think if it was the other way around - someone who looked like a straight-laced accountant, but was actually super creative and alternative - i wouldn't be disappointed, but pleasantly surprised. and maybe even a little bit giddy. which is maybe why the actual situation leaves me confused and maybe even a bit sad.

 * * *

oh oh, bye-bye laughing emoji. i guess it's gone the way of thumbs up.

* * *

found a new substack - psychopolitica
i'm hoping it helps with the whole deeper thoughts and conversations thing.

* * *

there's also the sad news that they will stop making the dumle suckers. that delectable caramel, chocolate-covered goodness handed out in danish primary schools. the child is bereft. and i may be wondering if we can get into germany at the moment, so i could run for the border shops.

Monday, February 22, 2021

daily delight - february 22

i just listened to a marvelous podcast episode. it was the latest episode of ezra klein's podcast and he interviewed writer george saunders and it was a deep, erudite conversation, but not at all inaccessible. george has a new book, where he explores ideas through 6 russian writers - it's called a swim in a pond in the rain and i intend to order it as birthday present to myself. it's a wide-ranging conversation and it was exactly what i needed at the end of a long and hectic day, as a big project at work ramps up towards actual activation. i got into a pessimistic place at the end of the day had a hard time seeing my way out of it. so, i put on the podcast, took a long, hot shower (my speaker is waterproof), used my new function of beauty shampoo (it smells of lavender and is heavenly), and listened to george explain how he understands the world through russian literature. that's something i used to do myself and i was pleasantly reminded of that. and it was just what i needed to put aside my concerns, which i had managed to whip into a place of importance that they didn't warrant. and i used my brain on bigger thoughts for a little while. and it felt absolutely delightful. i suspect we could all use a bit more of that. go and listen to the episode, it's a great start. definitely a moment of deep delight in an otherwise rather stressful monday. oh, and how about that morning sunshine we had this morning? (see photo above) that was pretty delightful too.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

daily delight - february 21

husband dug out this foundation for the greenhouse this weekend. and while he was digging away, i trimmed the oak "hedge" we have in the garden, weeded around about half of the fruit bushes - until my hand cramped up, and pruned the pear espalier. i brought in all those branches i trimmed off in a vase - i hope they open into spring blooms. but even if they don't, those sticks look surprisingly fetching on the kitchen table. it was so nice to be outdoors all weekend, moving around, breathing in fresh air, listening to the spring chatter of the birds, drinking coffee in the garden and discussing our plans for a whole greenhouse village. we've already sourced a second used greenhouse, so we'll have two for this season. i'm already planning on having a table and chairs in one of them, so we can enjoy being in the garden even on rainy days. garden dreams are definitely today's delight. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

daily delight - february 20

it's the first time in a long time that i collected a whole series of lego minifigures. but here you have it - series 21. i really like this one all but the policeman with a shield, which seems a little tone deaf of lego in these times. but they likely started development of this series 2-3 years ago, so it wasn't quite as bad back then. he may be a space policeman, but he's armed to the teeth, wearing body armor and has a shield. he's not my favorite. but actually, the rest are so good, it's hard to choose a favorite - the little amelia earhart with her plane, the beekeeper, the ru paul, the pug, the ladybug, the boy playing a violin, the centaur, the aztec jaguar warrior, the paddle board girl with her porpoise, the shipwreck guy with his teeny tiny little hermit crab. even the alien has cute little bumps on the back of his head. i think i like ladybug girl best, but she's closely followed by the pug and amelia earhart. and that beekeeper is pretty cool too. it was fun to stand and feel the bags, trying to make sure i got them all. that had lost its charm, but it seems like it's back. and that's just delightful.

Friday, February 19, 2021

daily delights - february 19

all of the lovely things one can order online these days are today's daily delight. this week, i fell for an instagram ad featuring actual mexican food online in denmark. prices were reasonable and shipping was really fast. i'm going to do pulled pork this weekend with some of these beautiful chili flavors and enjoy it on these real corn tortillas. looking ahead to some time in the kitchen is definitely today's delight. along with the giant gin & tonic i just poured myself. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

daily delights - february 18


i have to try pretty hard these days to look for the bright spots in all this isolation. i am weary of working from home. i almost want to throw up, thinking of having yet another teams meeting. my back is tired from sitting too much. and while i love my joggers (they're not sweatpants), i want to put on real clothes, do my makeup and fix my hair and i want to leave the house. more than just to pick up packages at the back door of the local shoe store, where they've begun to surreptitiously sell shoes (i can't blame them) as well as dispense packages. i want to stop feeling mildly irritated at those idiotic people who wear that pointless clear chin mask that just sends all their covid droplets up into their own faces before disseminating them to the rest of us in the grocery store. i want to drive to the office, listening to podcasts while i drink my latte from the travel cup i made it in for the drive. i want to see my colleagues and laugh and have casual conversations that don't take place online. all of this sounds like it was pretty hard to find today's delight and it was. but i found it. one fat, creamy ball of burrata, a perfect avocado and a perfectly ripe, sweet papaya, sprinkled with a dash from my last precious container of everything but the bagel - i don't know whether it was a late breakfast or an early lunch (i ate it around 10:30), but i do know that it was delicious, decadent and yes, delightful. it's the little things. sometimes we have to look for them, but they're always there. and this too shall pass. and then i'll likely miss these days of sweatpants and an artfully placed scarf.