Friday, September 09, 2022

random guys take ephesus seaways!

 i absolutely love that my former company made this happen:

seriously worth watching!

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

future me will thank present me for making this herb salt

all the herbs in the garden are at their peak. i wanted to preserve some of their goodness for the long, dark winter ahead. usually, i make herb salt by just whizzing all the herbs together in the food processor, then pouring heated sea salt onto them and then spreading them on a baking sheet on low heat to dry out. this makes for a rather green herb salt and you can't see any traces of the original herbs. 

i wanted to try something different, to preserve a bit of color and the variety of the herbs. so this time, i picked a bit of everything - thyme, basil, tarragon, oregano, marjoram, sorrel, sage, nasturtium flowers and leaves, cornflower, oregano flowers, bay leaves, a single sprig of rosemary, chives and a bit of mint, including the flowers. i layered them all in my dehydrator and dried them out for a few hours. 

then it was into the mortar and pestle to bash them without obliterating them since i wanted to be able to see the colors and bits and pieces of each of the herbs and flowers. 

then i mixed in fine atlantic sea salt until i liked how it looked. i never measure anything, but it was maybe about a cup and a half of salt. 

it filled up this old mustard jar. there was some left and that went into the salt jar i keep by the stovetop for daily use. it has a beautiful, green, herby flavor and it still looks beautiful with the flecks of bright color from the nasturtium and cornflowers. i think i'll make another batch for gifts before the season is over. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

denmark isn't entirely immune to rackets

denmark is largely a country of very little corruption and few signs of racketeering, but (you knew there was a but) the odd thing pops up now and again. years ago, i realized the whole setup around the .dk domains was one big mafia. i also suspect the way you get a driver's license in denmark is similar - with a whole apparatus built up around "driving schools" (some dude with a "school vehicle" sign that he mounts on the top of his skoda sedan and charges 20,000kr to "teach" you to drive). and this week, i encountered a third example.

there's a scheme by which employers are forced to pay for you to have "screen glasses" if you do a lot work in front of a computer. i recently realized that i am having trouble properly reading the fine print on my screen(s) (getting old, you say?) and since my solution to not being able to see things to read them is to get about 2cm from said screen, i decided it was getting rather embarrassing and i broke down, filled out the form and made an appointment to get "screen glasses." (i'm putting that in quotation marks because i've been outside my native language for so long now that i'm no longer sure whether that's just a direct translation from danish or a real thing.)

i filled out the form, got it signed and stamped at work (oddly, that's apparently still a thing, though it felt like i had to teleport to 1990 to do it). i even got permission to use an old pair of my own frames for it, which felt quite sustainable of me. why get new frames when i had some that i knew i liked, just languishing here at home, unused since they were an old prescription. i went to the optician we are mandated to use (not my regular one). 

they immediately started asking me questions about where the glasses i was wearing came from. i found that a little weird. i said they were from another optician, but didn't specify where. it felt like none of his business. i handed him the form and reminded him that i was there for screen glasses. 

we did the eye test and then he started trying to up-sell me. i think the deal they have with companies has probably been pushed to the bare minimum by cynical purchasing people with some kind of bonus riding on how much they save. so he gave me the hard sell on premium glass. 

i asked what the company pays for and he said that the premium glass hadn't been ticked off on my form. i had filled out the form myself, so i knew that, and since i didn't know what any of those boxes had really meant (they were written in rather insider-y language), i hadn't ticked anything, thinking we'd be able to discuss. he really tried to push me to get the fancy glass, without telling me what it would cost. in the end, we agreed they would call my work and ask whether we could include the fancy lenses.

i was thinking that for glasses i'll wear only when i'm looking at my screen, i don't really need anything fancy. i chose my own old frames to be a bit more sustainable and to save a bit on new frames (i had admittedly heard that the choices were limited). naturally, my company didn't fall for the up-sell from our friends at louis nielsen (yes, i'm going to name names), so i'm getting normal glass. the guy called me and really tried the hard sell on the phone, telling me that the fanciest glass would cost more than 4,000kr. (that's over $500 these days). and i'm like, wait, what? thank you, no. 

clearly louis nielsen isn't too happy about the deal they've made to provide screen glasses for companies, so they try to push people into spending more than the company will allow, in order to try to recoup some of the costs. it seems rather like a racket to me. 

Friday, August 12, 2022

what you plant has a way of growing

we had a bit of rain of late and now the weather is warm, so the garden is going crazy. the zucchini is abundant, as are cucumbers in the greenhouse and the tomatoes are loving this warm weather and starting to come on. my broad beans are finished and i only had a few purple (green) beans. my spinach has bolted. the indigo is ready to play with (maybe this weekend) and i'm picking the first real bouquets of dahlias this weekend. i've decided i love zinnias (they're now in my top five with lilacs, peonies, ranunculus and dahlias). i have one huge white pumpkin (and a few small ones). i'm going to have a good supply of hokkaido squash, which i have to find a way to store and keep into the autumn. i'm drying herbs and freezing them down to cubes (with olive oil, i'm looking at you, basil) so that next winter future me will thank present me. but most of all, i'm enjoying hanging out there at the end of my days, watching my lovely indian running ducks, who are so quirky and sweet and shy but curious and rather talkative and social despite their shyness. 

all of this contentment in the garden coincides with contentment at work. i've recently had an enthusiastic go-ahead on two things that i proposed and i'm feeling very positive about being given time and space to just make cool shit. that's all i really want to do. i don't want to be anyone's boss, or get a big promotion. i just want to work with great people and make things i can be proud of, while having a bit of fun. and i'm in the position to do that now, due to the seeds i've planted. what a great feeling! maybe we really do reap what we sow. how did it take me so long to learn that?

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

no boring chairs

when the light falls like this, you don't need anything more than a lovely designer chair. summer is fading fast, but we are soaking it up, when it's not soaking us with torrential rain showers. i'm back to work after a couple of weeks of vacation and it's a slow start. most everyone will be back next week and then things will pick back up. it's nice to have a bit of a lull. i hope you're getting one too.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

color pop :: a dialogue with two talented women

i mentioned some months ago, a treasure trove of hand-dyed fabrics that i got from a artistic friend who has terminal cancer. when our local creative group chose color pop as our theme, i knew i needed to make something with the fabric scraps that she gave me. i also realized that the color palette also went with the other treasure trove of samples that another friend gave me last year. it was time to start a creative dialogue with these women. as you can see, olga (the cat formerly known as paws mcgraw) was eager to help.

i got out the scraps and ironed them and just began sewing them together - doing it in a very intuitive way without thinking too much about how it would end up. just selecting colors and sizes that fit together and just sewing and holding them up and sewing some more. as you can see, the color palette is indeed bright and fits perfectly with the theme of color pop

once i had enough bits and pieces, i sewed them into mini quilt rectangles, wanting them to be around the same size, so they could hang in a group of three. since we are three women, three dialogues seemed right.

dialogue 1

dialogue 2

dialogue 3

then it was time to quilt. in my stash, i found a spool of rainbow-colored thread and i knew it was perfect for this color pop project. on the back side of the quilts, i used some shibori indigo cotton that i had dyed last fall. 

i had a small fight with my sewing machine, but we worked it out in the end. 

i had a lot of trimming to do, but it felt like part of the process. i quilted in a very intuitive way as well, following the lines as i saw fit in the moment. then switching. it felt like it was indeed a dialogue with the fabrics, as they whispered to me what they wanted.

dialogue 1 - finished with binding and quilting. this was the first one i made and is my favorite. probably because i'm also a firstborn. :-) this one features only fabrics from the friend who has cancer. that wasn't actually intentional, it just happened that way. the intuitive way i sewed the bits and pieces together just happened to come together like that. 

dialogue 2 - i love the block-printed pieces at the bottom and top left - they are from the friend who gave me all the samples and works from her education at what eventually became kolding design school. 

dialogue 3 - this one is another dialogue between the three of us. i hung them on these hangers with the cute colorful clothes pins just to photograph them, but decided that it was also how i wanted to display them at the exhibition. 

the night we hung the exhibition, we got these cute little coronita beers. it took hours to find the right placement for everything. i loved how my works looked together. i had also recovered the chair i've been sitting on throughout corona with some hand-woven fabric that we acquired together with one of the looms we got for the little museum where i weave. 

i bought the beautiful hot pink fleece at a wonderful leather shop in aarhus, thinking i'd make a festive color pop pillow of it. in the end, i couldn't bring myself to cut it up, so i just draped it over the recovered chair. it looked perfect with my mini quilts and the colorful knitted hugging pillows one of the other members made. now my chair is back at my desk and the hot pink fleece and the new recovered look give me a new perspective when working at home. 

dialogues 1-2-3 and my recovered chair, which i called "working from home.”

and the beautiful skirt that my friend lent to me - it's what she made with the dyed fabrics back in the 80s. and it was FABULOUS. what a privilege to wear it. i felt absolutely amazing. i positively embodied color pop. what a beautiful day that was. i'll always be grateful for the opportunity and the dialogue.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

garden progress

june 21

 july 16

almost a month apart. 

we've eaten the first zucchinis and broad beans and loads of herbs. and we can't keep up with the cucumbers, though having the child home helps. soon, there will be more tomatoes than we can eat, but those first ones will be so welcome. i replanted the strawberries, so no crop this year. but i supported a local farmer who sells them. that's ok too, though it didn't result in juice or any berries in the freezer (if i'm honest, i still have a bit of both from last year).

i'm growing indigo (it's just out of sight on the right), and i'm going to play with it next week. i'm on holiday, enjoying time with the child, sleeping in, making loads of good food, going for long walks, hanging out in the garden. it's a good summer. and i hope you're having a good one too!

Thursday, June 30, 2022

finding joy in the small things when the world seems to be falling apart

it's been a lot lately. the land of my birth is busily being dismantled by a tyrannical minority, against the will of around 70% of the population. and it feels like there's nothing that can be done about it. apparently we weren't paying proper attention for the past 50 years. or we weren't willing to do something about it because we didn't really believe they would be that backwards or that evil. but they are. and then some. and it's very disheartening. i find it very difficult to listen to it. mostly, i feel shame. being american is embarrassing again. i remember when obama was elected, i rejoiced that i wouldn't have to hide my passport while i was in an airport line anymore, but alas, i need to hide it more than ever. or finally get that other passport. it's definitely time.

i find myself looking for around me at the little things to be able to find some joy, despite how disheartening and humiliating it all is. things like the baby chickens our chickens hatched out and which two hens are very dutifully tending (though only one of the hens is in this photo).

or our very cute, but very fraidy indian running ducks, who stay, as husband puts it, in an organized clump and have the cutest penguin-like walk.

or the four-leaf clover i spotted as i sat in the garden the other day.

or the daily walks i've been taking during most of june to keep a new back problem at bay and to spend some time in my body as well as my head while listening to the cozy daisy dalrymple mysteries. 

or enjoying a really good cup of coffee in my favorite handmade ceramic mug. and the fact that my peonies are blooming.

it helps me feel less helpless. i can have an effect on things. i can pull those weeds in the garden and tend to the plants, i can feed the kitties and spend time with them in a favorite corner of the garden. i can do interesting work with interesting people. i can look forward to my child coming home in a week or so. i can put new sheets on the bed and snuggle into them at night. i can take a long walk. i can have long, deep conversations with husband. i can invite friends over and enjoy spending time with them.  i can sit in the chair i recovered with handwoven fabric and have the privilege of working from home and making a good living. and i can vote. for now, voting matters and is something concrete that i can and will do. it's clearer now than ever that it's important, so let's remember this horrible time and get our asses to the polls come november. our lives and the freedom to live them on equal footing with all those old white men might very well depend on it. 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

unspoken rules

we've worked at home a lot over the past two and a half years. it's been both good and bad. we're mostly back in the office these days, but i do still work some days at home when i really have to concentrate. or because my back is hurting, which it has been lately. i'm having flashbacks to the back surgery in 2015 and hoping to avoid it happening again. though working at home probably contributes to it, as i tend to sit much more when i'm home - forgetting to take breaks or eat lunch. 

but it can also be weird being back in the office. a whole new set of rules came about while we worked at home. and many are unspoken and just understood. or not understood. and it's weird, since they're unspoken, to feel disappointed or annoyed when the rules are broken, but the fact remains that i find myself feeling disappointed and annoyed of late.

a couple of examples: 

1) calling on teams: when you call someone on teams, you send a message first to ask them if they have time. so it's super annoying and jarring when when someone just calls out of the blue. often when you're in the middle of a meeting, so they don't even pay attention to the little red bubble that shows that you're busy. 

2) meetings in an open office environment: during corona, we all sat at home and could therefore hold meetings out loud and not bother anyone but the cat. back in the office, it's an open environment and there are some phone booths for meetings where you're the only one, or there are plenty of meeting rooms if you're several people meeting with others on teams. however, i've noticed that some of my colleagues continue to hold their teams meetings in the open environment. they put on headphones and don't realize that they're shouting. one colleague actually had a meeting on teams with the person sitting directly across from him. hello? go to a meeting room, or just go around to the other side and talk to one another! by the end of the day, i was utterly exhausted from listening to his shouting during all his meetings and i was too mad to say anything about it. but seriously, has two years of working from home rendered him so unaware of other humans that he doesn't realize he's being utterly rude to his colleagues?

how is company culture formed? who decides the etiquette? and how does everyone agree on it without talking about it out loud? and when someone utterly violates it, how do you talk to that person about it nicely? i know for sure that you don't let yourself steam about it all day and get so angry that you know you won't be able to be nice about it. but then the moment passes and maybe now his way of just holding meetings with headphones and shouting has moved everyone towards establishing a different company culture than the one you thought was there. and it's all unspoken. and it makes being back in the office less fun than it should be, because it truly is nice to be around your colleagues again.

but i still think a combination will be best. i need a couple of days of being able to concentrate at home and a few days of being with my colleagues in the office. they're two completely different ways of working. and i like the variety, but i do just wish we all agreed on the culture.

Monday, June 06, 2022

corners of the garden

spent a blissful amount of time right here this weekend. weeding, watering, grilling, lounging, laughing, relaxing and even working. it was the last of the long spring weekends, but i am rested and ready to jump headlong into the week. 

Thursday, June 02, 2022

stitching together a lovely, messy, chaotic life

nearly a month after my disappointment at not getting hold of a kit that would enable me to participate in the dataspejlet community art project at trapholt museum, i was at a friend's house for a board meeting. i saw that she had a kit and i told her how sad i was that i missed out on getting one. i snapped a picture of it there on her side table, but that sense of sadness and being on the outside of something i wanted to be part of welled up in me again and i found it almost too painful to look at. i even thought the colors she had gotten were great and would have been so much fun to work with. she told me that her neighbor also had one and she would ask her if she was going to use it. i went away a little bit hopeful, but still mostly resigned to not getting one.

then, a week or so later, my friend sent me a message, telling me she'd left me something up in our creative group's workshop at the library. i crossed my fingers that i knew what it was and i was delighted to find that she gave me her own kit. i breathed a sign of relief. 

oddly, i didn't start stitching on it right away. i got out my data files and chose the words i wanted to work with and i drew a sketch on some graph paper that husband had lying around on his desk. and then, i went around pondering it in the back of my head for a couple of weeks. i'm one who always works best close to a looming deadline. and i wasn't doing nothing - i was pinning stitch inspiration on pinterest and thinking about how i wanted to express the words i'd chosen. i was also keeping an eye on the #dataspejlet hashtag on instagram, but not a lot of posts were being shared and i didn't want to have to open the dreaded facebook to go see what people were posting in the group. plus, i figured it was best to do it my way anyway, without too much inspiration/influence from others.

but during our long weekend, i finally got stitching. it was beautiful out in the garden, on the pillow-covered bench between the greenhouses. i started with the circle representing husband. it has a circle within it that represents sabin. 

i chose the golden mustard color for husband and pink for sabin - my colors were those, plus purple. i probably would have chosen other colors if i were choosing myself, but these were what i had to work with and i do like them. i decided to  completely fill those two circles with stitches, because they represent the two people who complete me. 

the next circles that i worked on were the overlapping ones representing time/reality and cats - funny that those overlapped, but i think the time/reality comes from posts i did about reading murakami and of course, cats figure heavily on my facebook page. i chose to leave more "air" in those circles, not filling them out completely with stitches and there, where they overlapped, i used both colors, plus i added the third color, to show that the interesting part is where my preoccupations overlap. 

and then i turned to the similarly overlapping circles representing ships and LEGO. i filled those out with little + signs (i should note that we were only allowed to use stitches that go horizonal or vertical, no side-ways or curves or french knots or fancy stuff). and i stitched three hearts in the space where they overlapped, to signify how much i do love both. they are both from my work life, but both have become something of who i am.

i really enjoyed sitting in the sunshine, stitching. when i needed a break, i'd get up and pull a few weeds or water the plants or plant a few seeds. and i picked myself a small bouquet of fragrant lilacs, my favorite flower, to have at hand while i stitched. i sat in the sun with my big sun hat on and enjoyed the meditative stitching, seeing where it would take me and what thoughts it would provoke.

i didn't get it all finished on the weekend, so monday after work, i started my second to last circle. this is the one where i chose a group of words from the data, as they all seemed related and harmonious together. they were: story, fabulous, beautiful, sunshine, awesome. and reality was in that circle as well. i think it's my favorite circle - the three colors complementing one another best. it was also one i stitched most intuitively, letting the colors tell me where they wanted to be and how many stitches and the length. it simply felt freer than the others, which felt careful and deliberate. i liked this one best.

it was getting a bit dark by the time i finished, but i took a picture anyway. i'm pleased with the result. and then on tuesday, i had only one circle left to do. the bad one. 

we were given white thread to use for stitching those bits that we wished weren't there or which we didn't want anyone to see. for me, that circle came down in the left lower quadrant, far from the other circles, which was good, as i hate to have this word touching any of the positive words. and the word for that circle was trump. i used couching, i think wanting to keep that embarrassing evil clown under control, limiting him and tying him down. that stitch came to me naturally and intuitively as well. funny how those last two circles were the most intuitive, like i had to have warmed up to the stitching before i could let myself go.

and i thought a lot about stitching outside the circles and i can see now that others have done so - stitching connections between them and such. and i thought i wanted to do that as well. but as i began - trying to make a joyful spray of stitches surround my favorite circle at the top - they came out awkward and not at all how i envisioned them, so i picked them up. i think it would have worked if i could have used french knots, but alas, they weren't allowed. so, i decided i was content to only show what the data showed and keep the rest of my lovely, chaotic, messy, awesome life for myself.

i'm so happy i got to participate after all and i'm very grateful to my friend for giving me her kit. it meant a lot and the meditative stitching time was just what i needed during a very busy time at work. i can't wait to see how my work will fit into the larger work that astrid skibsted puts together at trapholt this autumn.  it will inevitably be a dialogue with the many other embroiderers and the whole will be so much greater than the individual parts and yet they will be beautiful and unique on their own. and i'll bet it will be harmonious and lovely, messy and chaotic, just like all the lives that went into the data that went into all those stitches. and we will all belong exactly where we are in the work. 

this awesome, beautiful, fabulous life

i submitted my dataspejlet work to trapholt electronically today, so now, i only have to drop it off. i still need to write a post about how i got my hands on a kit, but i'll do that next. 

they have a form to fill out where you can write a 1000 character description of your work. that's a crazy small amount for all the thought and hours that went into it. here's what mine said:

i loathe facebook, but have been there for many years, so it made sense to use it for my dataspejl. interestingly, the data did rather accurately reveal what's important to me - husband (yes, i call him that, like it's his name) and daughter, their circles overlapping, very fittingly. the next circles, all very close in size represent other things i love - like cats and ships and LEGO. my #2 circle featured words like "time" and "reality," which surely come from reading and posting about Murakami books. i chose to do one circle in white, as the frequent word there is one i'd like to forget - trump. it's also an outlier on my grid - away from the others, which seems right. but to end on a happy note, the circle where i used all three colors in a crazy quilt sort of pattern was full of words like "story," "fabulous," "beautiful," "sunshine," "awesome" and again, "reality," - leading me to my title and to the realization that yes, my colorful, loud, messy life is rather fabulous.

submitted this process photo - as i thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the sunshine in the garden, stitching away last weekend.

* * *

you also had to fill out which words you chose to work with and mine were:

husband, sabin (which i submitted as daughter, for the sake of anonymity), cats, ships, LEGO, time, reality, story, fabulous, beautiful, sunshine, awesome and yes, trump. 

so weird to boil my life down to 8 circles and a dozen or so words. it seems so paltry and yet still, it did capture something. i tried stitching outside the circles a bit, to indicate that my life is much more than just those 8 confined and sometimes overlapping circles, but took it away again, because it felt like it didn't capture it. instead, i chose to go with the snapshot those 8 circles offer and keep for myself the messy chaos of the rest of this awesome, beautiful, fabulous life.