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.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

daily delights - february 17


 quite probably my favorite LEGO animal ever. the hermit crab from series 21 of the collectible minifigures. utterly delightful. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

daily delight - february 16

 


a ceramicist from the area posted some valentine pieces in her instagram stories on sunday and i found this little yellow cup with her signature polka dots totally charming, so i snatched it up. she's also an american in denmark and i met her briefly and bought another piece from her at an event called upcomers a couple of years ago. the little plant in that other piece is still going strong. this arrived today and i immediately made coffee in it. these days, it's a bit rough going, all this working from home. i'm very weary of endless teams meetings. we all are, i know it's not only me. so grabbing these small moments of delight feels like a lifeline. 

* * *

this article is also delightful. and hopeful.

* * *

and i also really felt hopeful when i listened to hillary clinton's interview with amanda gorman.

grab all the moments of delight you can.

Monday, February 15, 2021

daily delight - february 15


really good leftovers are a precious resource. we ate this beautiful veggie curry that was cooked by husband's eldest, who is studying to be a chef, on saturday night and today, i'll warm it up, throw in a little more broccolini and voila - a delicious dinner that's super easy for me. absolutely perfect on a monday night after a long day in front of the computer, participating in endless teams meetings. 

Sunday, February 14, 2021

daily delight - february 14


swan footprints in the snow on the frozen lake. we haven't been able to walk out on the lake or skate in 6-7 years, but finally, it's been well below zero for at least 10 days and we were able to play down at the lake all weekend. the swans are a little sad there's no open water and these footprints were made with plaintive whining the whole way. it's apparently hard to take off from solid ice and not water. 


many animals are clearly appreciating the shortcut the ice represents and there were loads of animal tracks in the pristine white snow. i loved seeing them and leaving tracks of my own. this picture was so lovely, i accidentally posted it on my instagram stories twice. that was due to a connection glitch where it told me it hadn't uploaded, but it clearly had, but it was also so pretty, it was worth two shares.


we worked on clearing a spot of too much growth while we had the ice to stand on and decided to make a day of it - grilling sausages, drinking coffee and warming up some cider while we had a bonfire. it was the kind of weekend that filled me up with energy and happiness and fresh air to be able to face another week of working from home and endless teams meetings. it really was delightful. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

daily delight - february 13


the sun was shining brightly, and it was -12°C, but there was no wind and so it was actually beautiful outside. while husband and karo headed down to the lake with a drill to check the ice. it was 10-12cm, so safe to be out on it. i stayed at the house and made some yummy homemade sausage rolls that we could eat as a snack. we planned to ice skate, but the surface of the lake is pretty bumpy and covered in snow, so instead, we just hung out and took a really lovely walk. and we drank coffee and ate the sausage rolls and the last of yesterday's birthday brownies. and we soaked up vitamin D and it was generally a really beautiful, delightful, practically perfect day.

Friday, February 12, 2021

daily delight - february 12

today's delight is clearly husband - it's his birthday. he's 56 and honestly, he just looks finer with each passing year (if only that were true of me. sniff.). it's also our 22nd wedding anniversary. should you want to know more about that, you can find it here. we just had beautiful steaks and bernaise sauce made by husband's eldest daughter, who is studying to be a chef. what a lovely meal. and now we're going to play a board game. despite it all, it really is a good life. 

 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

daily delights - february 11


molly, true to her minnesota roots, loves the snow. she's playful and energetic when it's snowy out, but she does also want to come inside and get warmed up and she's been spending the afternoons asleep on a fleece on a chair in the kitchen. she's still my best and favorite cat, even if she mostly wants to be outside. i think i love her most because she's so much her own - a little independent spirit - compact, fuzzy and perfect. and definitely not only today's delight. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

daily delights - february 10


what a world we're living in! you can order all kinds of things to be brought to you. including gin from a little domestic distillery called volsted. it's albatross, navy strength and it will come in handy this coming weekend when we're celebrating husband's birthday and our anniversary. they were kind enough to include a hand-written note and a can of fever tree tonic that goes nicely with the gin. i love the label as well and i thought that was a cool sticker, but it's just the notecard they wrote on. this post is not even remotely sponsored, but if you're interested, they just might send to you too. i haven't tasted it yet, but the packaging and the little gift and the hand-written note have totally won me over. definitely today's delight.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

daily delights - february 9


today, the monotony of working from home started to get to me. i felt a little cooped up and just generally unfocused and mildly out of sorts. i escaped to go to the cheese truck and the fish truck to get some goodies to cheer us up. and also just to get out of the damn house. and over my lunch, i looked through all my pictures of arizona on my phone and uploaded a few to my computer to use as backgrounds for those endless teams and zoom meetings. and i found this photo of sabin and i one early morning in december 2019, before all this madness began, watching the sunrise cast its warm glow on papago. and i really did feel better. we're going to get through this, but some days, it's harder work than others. thank goodness for happy memories.

Monday, February 08, 2021

daily delights - february 8


 it snowed all day today and that fluffy white covering on the world makes winter a whole lot more delightful. 

Sunday, February 07, 2021

daily delights - february 7

 


i probably should have ironed that duvet cover, but life is too short. it's only 10 a.m. but i almost can't wait to get into bed between those fresh, clean sheets - isn't it just one of life's great pleasures? i am a bed maker. i feel totally out of sorts the whole day if i haven't made the bed. hollister loves to help, he's almost as excited about it as i am, especially when it's time to change the sheets. he dashes around, hopping on and off the bed, "helping." and then he can't wait to jump up and sit when it's all made.  he looks prettier than throw pillows.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

daily delights - february 6


the first snowdrops are poking up through the snow. the sight of these, every year, fills me with hope. these pretty little green shoots, forcing their way up and burstig through, despite the snow and a week of below-freezing temperatures, represents so much determination. it made me want to go in search of a poem about snowdrops. it took awhile to find one that struck the right tone, but i liked the sentiment of this one and that there's no capital letters or even punctuation.

snowdrop blaze

from late december onwards the day comes back
but not till february do we see those glimpses
that let us take deep darkness off the rack
and shake it free of lethargy that cramps us
through those dim months we’re made amanuensis
to what loud rain and bitter spells dictate
we seek bed early and must get up late

long january’s puffing in the right direction
but its early mornings keep that midnight feel
it still is subject to the date’s dejection
but once it’s over – see how light can steal
through cracks of trees and curtains - beneath the keel
of the eastern skyline (rocking like a boat
surprised so early to find itself afloat)

and from the earth presentiments are rustling
as cheeky snowdrops hoist their periscopes
within a week a mass of them is bustling
and white becomes the flavour of the slopes
and people flock invigorating hopes
seasons (they say) have forfeited effect on
one snowdrop-look and instantly dejection

is whipped (though biting winds and brooding skies)
away from the pure white cream the eyes are lapping
a frisson blooms as every bloodstream tries
to come to terms with its own natural sapping
and from the earth reorganise that mapping
that reaches out to plot those far endeavours
a spirit yearns for (wishing its forevers)

so walk away – no spread of simple flowers
can change the limitations we must live with
snowdrops come and go – our fickle powers
play havoc with the talents we can thrive with
it’s just that february comes and lo - forthwith
for one brief snowdrop moment there’s a blaze
that lights the world up with its splash of praise

by rg gregory

Friday, February 05, 2021

daily delights - february 5

there's no picture for today's delight, because it was the pure sense of joy you only get when your calendar is completely empty and you don't have one single teams meeting and that's pretty hard to capture in pixels. i got actual work done today! i had no interruptions and i ticked a whole lot of items off my to do list. i even was able to update my to do list for next week and because i had time and peace, it didn't even seem overwhelming. and now it's the weekend and my chalk paint arrived so i can paint a second hand dresser that i bought a couple of months ago. it's a lovely sunny yellow color. and i'm about to have a friday glass of wine. delightful.

take a walk with me


i made these audio pieces as a christmas present for my brother-in-law. i wanted high production values, but decided in the end only to edit out bits and pieces and not add any music, so it was a more authentic version of my walk. in these times, we can't travel and so we have to make the most of our own surroundings. though i have uploaded them as videos, they are really just audio. if you'd like to take a walk with me down to our lake, have a listen. 
 

Thursday, February 04, 2021

daily delights - february 4

 


i accidentally made latte art when i poured the espresso into my foamed milk this morning. fitting that it looks like a swan, since our lake continues to be covered in a flock of trumpeter swans day and night. it felt a bit like serendipity. i love when things come together in an unexpected way and make the world seem connected and whole. 



Wednesday, February 03, 2021

daily delights - february 3

 
here we are, just three days in, and already i'm so much more aware of what delights me, so today, there are two delights, both involving food. this morning, i had a perfect avocado and i applied it generously to two pieces of toast. and i thought about how i would eat avocado toast with my grandmother, sprinkled with lemon pepper. i didn't have any lemon pepper, so i used a szechuan pepper and sesame seed seasoning that probably wasn't even thought of back in the day. but i still thought about grandma and that was a nice way to start the day. i even cut my toast in triangles like she would have done. totally delightful.

and then when lunchtime came around, much later than i had hoped, thanks to endless teams meetings, i made two more slices of toast, chopped a red onion and ate the first of the season's stenbiderrøgn. it's a light caviar from a flat fish and it's a sure sign of spring in denmark. you accompany it with a dollop of creme fraiche and a light sprinkle of salt and even though it's snowing outside, you just know that spring is just around the corner. along with good coffee, such a solitary lunch is one of the perks of working from home. and i have enough for tomorrow's lunch too. delight!


Tuesday, February 02, 2021

daily delights - february 2

 


today's delight - candles. and especially this candle holder. it's thin porcelain and features snowdrops and it was made by the wonderful nina lund. it keeps me company on the windowsill as i work at home. these days are dark and cold and its glow brings warmth and a moment of delight. i think about how the snowdrops will soon be poking up through the frozen lawn - that will surely be a delight later in the month. but for today, the glow of this candle is seeing me through.

Monday, February 01, 2021

daily delights - february 1

inspired by darrel bristow-bovey's daily delights and a need to consciously be delighted by something here at the end of the dark, cold winter and all of this damn isolation we have due to the coronavirus, i'm going to not only look for, but share a daily delight during february. 


today's delight might not look like much, but it's a big deal for me since i'm working at home these days. it's a new internet provider/router which has taken us from a mere 2.5mb to 10mb - the guy who installed it found a fault on the line in the process of changing it and fixed that. already, jumping on a teams meeting after the switch, it seems to be better, though i realize it's still pretty pathetic. but the real test will be this evening when everyone else along our old non-fiberoptic line is watching netflix. oh the delights of living in the countryside!



Sunday, January 17, 2021

2020 :: a plague year, in pictures

january 2020

it all started off just fine, didn't it? a nice 70s themed evening with friends to welcome in the new year (i did this mosaic backwards, but didn't want to start over, so start in the bottom righthand corner), a resolution to do a creative act of some sort every day (i did that, but only because i count writing and cooking as creative acts) and of course, cats.

february 2020

experiments in baking, more creativity, some vintage finds and of course, cats. the pantry filled up with water because it never stopped raining, not even for one day. i went to louisiana museum of modern art with a friend, not knowing that wouldn't be possible again for much of the year. 

march 2020

despite reports about the virus, we still met sabin in barcelona and had a lovely week there with her. i came home and immediately started a new job the next day, and the day after that, they sent us home to work from home for the next few months. i kept up the creativity, cooked and hung out with the cats.

april 2020

spring came, despite the pandemic, nature just began to grow and burst forth, marching on. there was a lesson in that. we cooked a lot at home and even had a few chances to eat outdoors. seeking comfort, i began a rereading marathon of the mrs. pollifax books. and as always, i enjoyed times with the cats.

may 2020

still working from home, but the weather improved and we started to be able to go to the office at least part of the time. that was really nice. i discovered an app called too good to go, where local grocery stores and bakeries and even restaurants sell a "magic bag" for a song and you save food from being wasted. i plan most meals around these bags now.

june 2020

the strawberries began and i made loads of cordial from them and from the elderflowers. there was actual sunshine and i spent time in the garden - with the cats, of course. and i bought handmade items from individual artists. and i stitched up some masks for myself. there was no mask mandate in denmark, but i was headed for the states, where there would be.

july 2020

i went to arizona to help sabin move out of her apartment and into the dorm. we had quite some adventures and her car broke down while i was there and couldn't be repaired, so she had to get a new one. got a new small bee tattoo while i was there and we spent evenings cooling off in the pool. it was so nice to be together with her. and traveling in the pandemic meant my flights were pretty empty.

august 2020

home again to a new car - my first new car ever! a citröen cactus, which is a little baby SUV. we embarked on our big roof project and so i did a lot of cooking and the weather was beautiful, so we ate outdoors. the light meant that husband could work long days. he had help for a week and they got a lot done, but not everything.

september 2020

more berries, more cordial. i regularly bought myself flowers at a pick-yourself field nearby. the roof project continued and we got the actual roof on. weaving began again and i started on my latest runner for the kitchen. there was still a lot of cooking and baking.

october 2020

corona anxiety started coming into the picture again. numbers were rising. a good friend's kids both got it - being the first people who i know in real life who had the virus. i made great progress on my rug and we were back in the office regularly, though still not 100% of the time. i voted and sent it to chicago via DHL to be sure it was there in time. 

november 2020

the darkness settled in, and we began working from home once again. but sabin came home and we did two small gatherings for thanksgiving since it wasn't possible to gather in larger groups. it was so nice to have her here, but she was a little depressed by the darkness and the constant drizzle. i put up christmas lights on the house for the first time, both to combat the darkness and because we would be home for christmas this year. 

december 2020

a corona scare, frustrations with the isolation and not being able to see friends, and wearing masks and constantly being tested. but we made it through. we ate a lot of good food, i made yet another turkey and we did see family for christmas. sabin went back to arizona for the new year and arrived safely. i bought a sequined dress that i wore for both christmas and new year's, because we all need a little sparkle in this plague year. 

* * *

this was a bit of a belated review of 2020. i'm once again grateful to my daily photo habit, which hasn't let up since i began it in may 2008 when i got my first "real" camera. these days, i often take the photo with my phone, but since it's an iPhone 12 pro max, it's got a pretty good camera in it. having all those photos really helps me stroll through the events of the year, but it also took some time to get them uploaded and made into mosaics. it doesn't really look all that great so far, but here's hoping 2021 will be better. fingers crossed it will improve when biden takes the oath of office.