Saturday, October 29, 2022

pretty little companion

this little beauty went home with one of my colleagues today. when he came to pick her up, he sat with her for awhile on the couch, to get to know her. and she took to him right away, settling in with him and purring and relaxing and even closing her eyes in contentment. hollister is wandering around looking for her, but he'll be ok. i'm looking forward to hearing how they do together. having a lively little kitten, even if she is a bit shy, just might be a life-changing experience. she's a special one. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

it was bound to happen

husband came down with the dreaded virus this week. i had my 4th booster a week ago on monday and felt pretty blah for several days afterwards, running a low-grade fever and generally feeling unwell. husband got his 4th booster last thursday and so when he felt the same tiredness and low-grade fever on saturday, we thought it was just the jab. alas, he got worse instead of better and by sunday night, he was pounding nyquil and had asked me for a scarf to soothe his sore throat. monday morning, his eyes were glassy and he was generally miserable and he tested positive with a home test. he'd been exposed at work two days before his jab to a colleague who was feeling fine, but tested positive in the evening after being at work all day. so far, i haven't shown any signs, nor have i tested positive. so fingers crossed, i will escape. it feels rather strange, after escaping it all the time that it's finally come to us. i think we were starting to feel a little invincible. and to be honest, i still am, though i hate to say that out loud. he's on the mend now and while he stayed home from work, he did actually get up and get dressed and even do a little building today. he says he feels like he's over the worst of it, but that his body needs to catch up. from what i read, he's still contagious, so i'm keeping my distance (i hung out in the kitchen and slept on the couch, which thankfully we moved out there). i really don't want to get it. i hope the timing of my jab will save me this time around.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

out of travel practice

after two and a half years of pandemic, i was out of practice traveling when i went to valencia the other week. lies. actually, i had done another trip to amsterdam a few weeks before. but still, i felt out of practice. when i went to amsterdam, i flew from billund, which seems like it doesn't count, since it's kind of not a real airport. anyway, i digress. this time, the trip started in copenhagen, which is still my favorite airport. 

since we were filming and recording a podcast, i had a lot of gear, so i had to have tickets where i could check two bags, despite flying shorter distances within europe. that meant that my ticket was business class. on air france. the very first time i ever flew business class was on air france, so i had good associations (that one was from atlanta to paris in about 2000, so a little different), but being out of practice, i didn't really know what to expect. and one hears so much negativity about air travel after the pandemic. 

and i have to say that air france has done nothing but up their game. the flight attendants were amazing, as was the smoked salmon croissant, the yogurt and the champagne. they were friendly, not snooty, very service-minded (topping off the bubbles, yes please!). it is amazing what great service and the feeling of being seen does for your stress levels. i was so relaxed when we arrived.

it was so fun looking out the window and being ahead of the engine. that's the mediterranean down there, as this was on the trip home, as we left valencia. i'll admit i feel a little shallow when i think about how much i enjoy being in business class. it's the same plane. we all get there at the same time. but the extra smiles and topping off your bubbles make a difference, they really do. plus, all the bags made all the flights and came off the belt close to the beginning. it just felt like luxury. and air france rocked it. i would never have expected that, but it seems they've really stepped up their game after the pandemic. too bad none of the other airlines seem to have done the same (i'm looking at you air canada and lufthansa).

the business class tickets even entitled us to the air france business lounge at charles de gaul during our four hour layover on the way home. what luxury! it was a great trip. and even if it's a little bit shallow of me, i really did enjoy flying business class. it had been too long. 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

watching the sunrise from a plane

i had the privilege of watching the sun rise over europe as i headed from copenhagen to paris (and on to valencia) last week. it went from purple to pink to purple again and pink again and finally, as we were coming in to land at CDG, i could even see the eiffel tower. and i felt consciously aware of the profound privilege of getting to travel again. the world is a wondrous place if we pay attention. and i'll admit it also helped my appreciation that i was in business class, even if it was a short flight.

valencia stole my heart

after two long pandemic years, it was so nice to travel again. and even better, i got to travel somewhere new! i went to valencia in spain. it was for work, but happily it coincided with spain's national day (they also celebrate columbus, apparently), so i had one day off in the midst of it. or actually, not really, since i sat at the hotel and worked for most of that day. which wasn't really that bad, because it's quite energizing to work from a different location. and at least i got to experience the festive atmosphere of everyone having a day off mid-week. and i ate some truly delicious food.

it was perfect weather - warm, balmy evenings, where a dress and sandals were enough and no jacket was needed. the food in valencia is incredible everywhere we tried. they have so much local produce, so it hasn't traveled to get there, which also makes it surprisingly affordable. the tomatoes were probably the best i've had since those from my dad's garden at the height of summer during my childhood. 

it also struck me that all this talk of inflation and a recession was really not in evidence in valencia. there weren't empty stores and restaurants and bars were full and stores were buzzing. it made me wonder how much that story is over-blown by the media. i do know that inflation is real (every time i go to buy butter and milk), but i'm not sure that people are holding back all that much. unemployment is at historic lows and it seemed like the economy was buzzing along in spain. i wonder what storylines we are being sold and to what purpose.

i wish i'd had more time in valencia. i'd love to have explored a whole lot more. the cathedral there claims to house the real holy grail and i didn't get a chance to see it. since it was work, we had some long days, but they were also great and on the whole, i felt that old feeling that i used to feel - that my batteries are recharged by travel and new experiences. i will definitely be returning to valencia, hopefully with husband and the child (who is actually a young woman these days) in tow. although i will never get to experience it for the first time again, seeing it through their eyes for the first time might be a close second. it's such a chill, laid-back, secure-in-itself city, that it's definitely worth another visit.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

what would great grandma think?

i have a stack of quilt tops that my great grandmother made. mom said she could remember, as a little girl, seeing her bed-bound grandmother, who didn't see all that well, sitting in bed, sewing squares together by hand. it's absolutely amazing to me that she could do it and keep the pattern of the squares perfectly if she wasn't able to lay it all out on a table or a wall or the floor. when i lay out a quilt, i have to see it, photograph it, walk away, move things around, do it all over again. but she could sit in bed, sewing away and make the most beautiful quilts. i'm so pleased to display them at my favorite little museum in connection the what we call "handicrafts days" at the end of the month. i wonder what my great grandmother from salem, south dakota would think of her quilts being in denmark, displayed in a rather alternative way - one that invites people to touch them and look closely. though i never knew her, i think she'd love it. and oh the stories her stitches would tell us if only we could hear them.

Sunday, October 09, 2022

rainbows are a sign of hope

i learned this week that a good friend, who i have seen way too little over the past couple of pandemic years, just got a cancer diagnosis. i visited her today, she is hopeful, as are her doctors and we had a really lovely visit. when i saw this rainbow on the way home, i felt like it was a clear sign of hope. that's my story, and i'm sticking to it.

* * *

i love this story on the library of congress website about lizzo playing james madison's crystal flute. they have the most amazing flute collection in the world and they saw lizzo, who is a very accomplished flautist, as a way to reach a whole new audience. well done!!

Thursday, October 06, 2022

pears and blueberries

it's been a good year for pears and blueberries. the apple blossoms all got hit by a hard frost, but the pear blossoms survived and our pear tree produced an abundance of beautiful pears this year. our blueberries down by the lake are very happy as well and produced more than ever before.

so after freezing some and making jam, i decided to cook them up together and try my hand at making fruit leather. the recipe is from my favorite river cottage preserves cookbook. it's the book i turn to again and again. 

once they were cooked down, i strained everything out and got this beautiful puree. it was such a gorgeous color. i put in some honey and spread it out on a baking sheet and put it in the oven to dry. i had enough for two pans. 

it was in the oven on a low temperature (50°c) for about 12 hours to get dry enough. and then i rolled it up, just like the fruit leathers we would get at REI as a kid. only so much more flavorful!

i cut them up into smaller pieces and put them in a jar in the fridge. now husband can take a couple along on his long bike rides for quick energy and i can eat some as a snack. i should really see if i can pick one more batch of blueberries (i've still got a basket of pears) and make one more batch before the season is over.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

experiments in fresh indigo - part 2

i still had a lot of indigo growing in the garden, so i decided to conduct another experiment dyeing with fresh indigo. i'd read about another method, where you blitz the leaves up in a blender with ice water, so i wanted to try that.

i had a piece of fine, very light cotton and i painted it with soy milk doodles, hoping to get a different color in spots. then i poured the indigo ice water mixture over it and massaged it in and let it sit for maybe half an hour (i really should have noted my timings a bit better).

it didn't feel like enough to just dye one piece of cotton, so i got out the silk i had dyed down in randbøldal and over-dyed it with the indigo ice water bath. 

it had a very cool effect with the regular indigo and the fresh. tonally, they are totally complementary, but they give very different shades of blue green. lovely.

it was a bit hard to rinse off the bits of the leaves, so i just hung them up to dry so that i could shake it off. i even over-dyed the one i had dyed with the salt dye mixture because it had ended up quite a light color when it was dry. 

i had found a nice piece of woven silk that i dyed as well - it has come out much more green. i don't know what i'll do with it, maybe make a top? i haven't decided yet. the dyeing is the fun part. and i stuck all my indigo stems in water and they surprisingly quickly sprouted roots, so i'm going to have even more next year!

and i planted them in the bed next door to the first bed of indigo. we'll have a blue summer next year if they take off. we have some unseasonably warm temperatures, thanks to the tail-end of the hurricanes on the east coast of the US, so i hope they have a chance to take hold.

experiments in fresh indigo - part 1

i bought some indigo seeds in the spring and planted them in pots in the greenhouse. once they were big enough and the frost gone, i planted them out in a raised bed. they looked a bit weak and scrappy and i wasn't sure whether they would turn out. but they took hold and became big, lovely, lush plants, taking over the bed, even though i had only planted them in one half. 

i read about people dyeing with fresh indigo (regular indigo dyeing is a fermentation process and seemed daunting) and decided to take some with me down to the little museum in randbøldal, where i weave. we had a regular indigo dye pot simmering that day, but i took the fresh leaves and some salt and decided to try the salt method on some silk i had found.

i massaged the salt into the leaves and then put in the piece of silk, which i'd prepared shibori-style with some small knots made with rubber bands. i massaged the leaf and salt mixture into the silk and let it sit.

i think i gave it about half an hour. it turned a lovely light aqua blue color. it took the leaves with quite some variation, with some spots darker than others. unexpected and lovely.

it's the perfect length for a scarf and i gave it a dip in vinegar water to set the dye and then took out the rubber bands. they had produced a lovely pattern, together with the salted indigo leaves.

it created a lovely play of colors on the silk and i found myself wishing i had more. it had been the last of the bolt at the fabric store, so i only had a small piece. i had divided it into three scarf-lengths and i put the other two in the regular indigo dye pot. that yielded a darker blue, as you can see here below.

i've sewn the ends together and made it into an infinity scarf that wraps twice around and has a lovely drape. i'll have to share a picture of it another day, as it's grey and rainy today and not light enough to take photos. it definitely won't be my last experiment in dyeing with fresh indigo. i think next year, i'll actually try to make some regular indigo dye to use, going through the whole fermentation and drying process. it's really a magical plant and it seems to do well in our climate.