Sunday, March 31, 2024

marching in under the wire

i almost let march go without writing here. not sure how that happened. time flies when you're having fun! over my birthday weekend, we had so much fun, creating an amazing floor in our brewery. here are the photos of it. it's a decorative polyurethane floor. which is related to, but not epoxy. it wears better and looks amazing! what do you think?

Monday, February 26, 2024

writing maps: on language

i follow the writing maps account on instagram and i've even ordered a few of their writing maps. i'm sick today and have stayed home from work. i've got a fever and that ache in the shoulders that comes with the flu. so i'm sitting in bed, propped up with pillows and my laptop and i thought i'd use one as a prompt. 

- - -

being from south dakota, second languages weren't really the norm. in the era i graduated from high school (1985), a second language wasn't even a requirement, though a requirement was passed around then, so my sister, who graduated in 1991, had to take german in high school. i didn't even have the option, so it was only english for me.

when i got to south dakota state for my freshman year, i signed up for french with a little near-sighted woman with a white bob called madame redhead (rather a misnomer with her white hair) to fulfill my language requirement. i wasn't a natural language-learner and i always felt rather silly trying to speak it.

then i moved to california and took a russian class at fullerton community college. i was interested in russian thanks to my deep and abiding loathing of ronald reagan. my teacher, tatiana gale, was a russian emigré with shockingly purpley-red hair that i later came to know as russian red (it comes straight from a bottle). i dedicated myself to learning the cyrillic alphabet and even decided to go back to university and major in russian after tatiana, with her late 80s new age vibe, told me that she had a feeling that i should do something with russian. being 19 and looking for guidance, i jumped on that advice wholeheartedly.

like the french, learning russian didn't come easily to me - i suppose i missed the language-learning window in my brain, not being exposed to any other languages when i was younger. but i had much more motivation for russian and fell in love with the literature, so i persevered through my bachelor's degree, a master's and well into ph.d. studies. adding a summer course in serbo-croatian (as they still called it in the early days after the dissolution of yugoslavia) and macedonian and even getting that fateful fulbright to macedonia that meant meeting husband in skopje.

and meeting him meant adding yet another language, that has ended up my second most fluent language today - danish. and through danish, i can read (if not entirely understand) swedish and norwegian and a surprising amount of german, if i can't actually speak those languages. 

the prompt asked about family languages - my parents only spoke english, though dad remembered his grandmother who more or less spoke only german. that must mean that emil, my grandfather, also spoke german, though he died when my dad was 16, so i never knew him. his father julius and mother frederikke, had come over from a little town near koenigsberg in east prussia and settled on the prairies, though if i remember correctly, emil was born after they got to south dakota. they surely kept speaking their native german together for the rest of their lives. 

my grandmothers, to my knowledge, only spoke english as well - i never heard of them having any knowledge of another language. their stock was sabins and barnhardts, which i oddly know less about than the nachtigals. funny how one strong branch of the family sticks out and becomes the dominant one.

i don't necessarily know how this informs the stories i write or will write, but it surely informs who i am, or at least the foundation of who i am. i definitely feel like i don't have the full spectrum of my personality when i speak danish. who i am at my core, is who i am in english. 

i'm happy to have raised my child with more or less two native languages - as i always spoke english with her and her father (and the school system), always spoke danish. she had some german as well in school here in denmark, though, like me and french, she didn't really take to it. 

when she first went to the US, she had a bit of a danish accent, but after 5 years there, that's gone. i doubt my accent in danish will ever disappear and i'll never get the hang of those danish articles (et/en), but i'm happy that she inherited her father's language ability and not mine. 

Monday, February 12, 2024

25 years together!

 25 years ago today - brønshøj kirke

and today - only a little bit older. 

he's still a keeper

here's to 25 more.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

entering my sparkling era

i think i mentioned that i vowed to wear something sparkly to the office every day i went to the office in december. i did indeed do so and every single time made me happy, so i decided i'd continue it. maybe not every day, but regularly. because we can all use a bit more sparkle in our lives. it makes me happy, just seeing it all hanging there in my closet, i don't even need to have it on. but wearing sequins makes me happy too. especially the bronze-colored pants i bought at yes, h&m, they're super soft and comfortable and the sparkle just adds that extra bit of joy to my day. it's impossible to have a bad day when you're literally sparkling. 

the latest addition is a pink pair that were on the winter sales for 50% off. can't wait to wear them. they're also the soft, comfy kind.

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

looking for delights

it's delights week over at the grown-ups' table (a 30-day drawing challenge on wendy macnaughton's wonderful substack). and after a slow commute home (the roads are still terrible out there - especially around aarhus, they don't appear to have even attempted to clear them), frustrations borne of what i can only characterize as xenophobia and sexism, and a bit of lingering sadness over those dashed christmas expectations, it all adds up to a strong need for some delight this evening.

before i turn to drawing something from nature (probably another cactus), i thought i'd just look though my recent photos to find some traces of delight. as you can tell from my last few posts, i have found the recent snow to be utterly delightful to go for a walk in (though driving in it has been less fun). 

i am quite delighted by the little lamp i found in a secondhand store for only 50kr. it fits beside the bed upstairs and its plain white shade was the perfect canvas for painting a few cactus to match the mural on the bedroom wall. it's such a delight to sleep in this lovely room every night. 

another delight is this new cup by my favorite ceramics artist that i got for christmas. i swear coffee tastes better from the right cup.

and i'm feeling better already, just thinking about delight. so one last one for today - travis the kitten is so helpful with my daily drawings. i'll see if he's up for helping me draw something from nature. maybe i'm no longer feeling prickly, so i'm now thinking snowdrops - when the snow thaws in the next couple of days, they just might be poking through and in the meantime, i'll draw the memory of them. 

what's delighting you today?

Sunday, January 07, 2024

the color of my soul

husband's bestie has sold his place and is moving away at the end of the month. he's a truly lovely person, a retired pilot, and i will miss him because he's been a staple dinner guest at our house for over a decade, but husband will miss him even more. in fact, i'm a little worried about husband without him. a young couple has bought his place and the wife is apparently a fellow american. husband has briefly met them, but i haven't. they won't be the same, but if i've learned one thing, it's that things don't stay the same and you have to be open to what comes next. 

i've been reading a lot of new substacks of late and many are focused on the new years resolution genre. i guess it's just that time of year. a surprising number of them quote rumi. kind of weird how appropriated his work has been by the gratitude/self-help set. i can't decide if it's good that it pushes it to a wider audience or if it somehow cheapens it. maybe it's a bit of both. but anyway susan cain asks in the new year's edition of the quiet life, what color is your soul now? what color do you want it to be? which she doesn't attribute to rumi (though she does quote him in the stack), but marcus aurelius, "your soul takes on the color of your thoughts."

affected by the time of year, i think my soul is currently that wintery nordic greyish blue. it's not a terrible color for your soul to be. it's peaceful and quiet, if a little cold. it seems a little lighter and more tending towards the blue than the grey after yesterday's scream in the forest. it feels in tune with the slight slowly returning after the solstice. i think the color i want it to be is a sunny, bright yellow. and that will surely come with summer and the buzzing yellow of the canola fields. and it will no doubt pass through that brilliant light green of the first beech leaves as they unfurl in the spring on the way there. our souls aren't just one color, but the whole spectrum and that color can change with the season or even from day to day or minute to minute. but susan is right, that it's worth thinking about what you're feeding your soul. and currently, i want to feed mine light. 

Saturday, January 06, 2024

go and scream in a forest

got together with a good friend today and we both spent more than an hour talking about recent frustrations and energy-stealing situations and those damn christmas expectations and selfish, ungrateful people. after we got it out, we decided that what we needed to do was go for a walk in the forest and have a healthy little scream. or two. or ten. or enough that i now have a bit of a sore throat. but damn, do i feel better. while it doesn't make that selfish, ungrateful young person less selfish or ungrateful, it did ease the burden of it for me significantly. so, if you're near a forest, get out there and have a good scream. oh, and do look up while you're there. i guarantee you'll thank me. and even more importantly, you'll thank yourself.

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

currently snowing

i love that nordic blue winter light. it's been snowing all day and is expected to continue into tomorrow. it was raining when we went to bed, so there's a layer of ice under the snow on all the trees and it's heavy! glad i don't have to drive anywhere today!

Monday, January 01, 2024

the isolation journals five lists

on this rainy, grey first day of january, i was catching up on my substack feed, waiting for it to clear up a bit so that i can go for a walk. i read suleika jouoad's isolation journals sunday prompt on the five lists and it seemed like a good activity to indulge in while i wait for a break in the rain. it's always nice to do a bit of reflecting on the first day of a fresh, new year. 

1. what in the last year are you proud of?

the first thing that springs to mind is the podcast i'm creating at work. it's something that i always wanted to do and while it's not perfect, i have learned so much along the way and i got to have a lot of great conversations with a lot of interesting people. i have really grown professionally making this work. and it wasn't the only great project i was part of at work. we also worked with a top agency to make some really great short videos that tell some emotional stories that all take place in a kitchen - it was a completely different and new kind of content for us as a company and i'm really proud to have been part of pushing us in that direction. 

i'm really proud of my brave, beautiful child and how hard she works at school and how she's managed to surround herself with good friends and how she bravely makes her way through the world, 9 time zones away from us. she's a wonderful young woman and i'm so proud of her. 

and lastly, i'm proud of my weight loss. yes, i have used the help that wegovy gives me, and i have zero shame for that. i am healthier, my cholesterol numbers are down and i just feel about a thousand times better. plus, i also look so much better and i realize that matters more to me than i imagined it would. i have definitely been hiding underneath over-sized, drab clothing choices for some years now and it feels so good to not need to do that anymore. i can actually find items on the sale rack in size medium and even small and they fit me! and damn, it makes me happy and proud.

2. what did this year leave you yearning for?

i have struggled this year to restart a social life after the corona years. it seems overwhelming to invite people over like we used to. we would have spontaneous game nights and do dinner together with friends, and now we almost never do that. it doesn't help that the main friends we did that with moved a bit further away. and after that and corona, we just drifted apart. but i find myself yearning for more time with friends and good conversations and evenings filled with good food and laughter. we had a few of those over the past year, but not nearly enough.

3. what's causing you anxiety?

i think money is always a source of anxiety. one could always do with more of it. it's not really that we lack, per se, but we could do things faster and complete more of the house projects if we had a bit more. i shouldn't complain, as we do have two good incomes in our household, i guess i wish that i had less anxiety about it.

naturally, the state of the world causes a lot of anxiety and in light of that, it feels a little meaningless to be worried about money. but world issues feel so huge and insurmountable, that maybe it's easier to look at one's own life and try to grab onto an anxiety that's closer to home. 

i'm pretty apprehensive about the election in november, but if i let myself fully stare that one in the face, i'll completely destroy what's left of my back teeth after the first trump administration, since that anxiety manifests as clenching my jaw in my sleep to the point where i wake up with a swollen cheek.

4. what resources, skills and practices can you rely on in the next year?

this one feels the most like setting new year's resolutions and i'm finding it a little difficult. i suppose the main resource that i rely on in general is my fearlessness in just jumping into things with both feet. i also, despite my advancing age, love to learn new things and stay up-to-date on trends and technology, and try out all the new things that are popping up all the time - ai, tiktok, blue sky, etc. i don't know really know whether these are resources or skills that i possess, but it's what comes to mind. staying curious is probably the best thing i can do to keep growing and developing.

as for the practice that i can rely on, it's my dogged determination to take a photo every day. i've been doing it since may 2008 and i don't intend to stop now. and if i can keep that commitment for such a long time, i can surely keep other commitments - like dry january, and taking a walk or jog every day, finding a regular yoga class to attend, inviting people over once a month, learning to knit, reading a book instead of endlessly scrolling on my phone...

5. what are your wildest, most harebrained ideas and dreams?

i would love to have a small podcast production company, making limited series podcasts for companies, to help them tell their stories. it would be a great way to keep getting to talk to interesting people and learn new things. 

one day, i want to have a little café right here in the countryside. this one has been in the back of my mind for some years. it would only have a few seats and maybe limited opening hours, but it would be a destination worth seeking out. everything in the café would also be for sale - it would be furnished with antiques and the serving dishes/cups/plates would be cool ceramics from local artists and you would be able to buy anything that struck your fancy.

i'd also like to make the old part of the house into a couple of rooms that we could put up on airbnb, so i could get back some of the feeling i used to have when we had couchsurfers on a regular basis. meeting interesting people and sharing our space, especially our outdoor spaces, with them. 

i want to do another art project/exhibition together with my friend christina. and just generally develop my creative practice. maybe something with pinhole photography?

i'm sure there are other things, but these are the ones that come to mind. it was nice to spend an hour or so pondering these questions. let me know if you do it too. 

and here's hoping 2024 will be a good year for all of us.