Who’s laughing now?

I’m in Florida with Zebu, visiting my mother (his grandmother). Today we went to the beach in Honeymoon Island State Park and I brought my camera in hopes of seeing lots of shorebirds and maybe a pelican or two. The only birds I saw were Laughing Gulls and I snapped a total of three photos.

When I saw this, I thought it was a freakish and somewhat unsettling image because it looks as if the head was pasted on another bird’s body. But when I showed it to Zebu (who doesn’t have a great appreciation for birds in general and even less appreciation for gulls because  of “their beady eyes and shifty behavior”) he thought it was a great shot.

Go figure.

One year ago

Last year at this time Zippy and I were in Uppsala, Sweden, visiting our son Zebu. He took us to his favorite place to fika. In Sweden, everyone takes a daily coffee (and pastry) break with friends, family, colleagues, fellow students, etc.  Unfortunately, we went during a non-fika time so the place was empty. Still, it was easy to imagine the rooms filled with students drinking coffee and eating enormous cinnamon buns.

As I write this, Zebu is in Colorado finishing up his third final final-exam. He graduates later this week and one of my hopes for his future is that he always makes time for such a mid-day break. Fika strikes me as a very sensible path to health and happiness.

In art nothing must resemble an accident, not even movement.*

Sometimes I read a scene I’ve written and think, “Whoa, that’s way too much choreography. You’re doing a play-by-play of your character’s every move.” Then I cut some verbiage, chastising myself for cluttering yet another scene with too much distracting movement.

Today, I came across this photo of Zebu and me taken last spring in Uppsala, Sweden.

 

 

 

 

There’s a whole lotta movement going on in this slice of real life and the photo is a good example of what I want from the choreography in my scenes. I want the movement to tell a story.

* Edgar Degas

Remember the Vasa

I photographed these carved figures with my phone while visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, and have held onto the bizarre image for months as I waited for the right time to display it here.

Today feels like an especially good day in the Corporate States of America to share these figures from the Vasa’s prow.

I’ll let Wikipedia explain:
[The Vasa] was constructed at the navy yard in Stockholm under a contract with private entrepreneurs in 1626–1627 and armed primarily with bronze cannons cast in Stockholm specifically for the ship. Richly decorated as a symbol of the king’s ambitions for Sweden and himself, upon completion she was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However, Vasa was dangerously unstable and top-heavy with too much weight in the upper structure of the hull. Despite this lack of stability she was ordered to sea and foundered only a few minutes after encountering a wind stronger than a breeze.

Militarization.
Privatization.
King’s ambitions.
Dangerous instability.
Greed and arrogance.
Epic failure.

The Vasa sank after traveling just 1300 meters.

Today I’m indulging in a little wishful thinking.

(NOTE: As a writer, I’m also thinking about how there’s truly no such thing as an original plot line. Greedheads gonna be greedheads, from the beginning of time…)

Shout-out to my nephew

Today, my nephew left for his stint in the Peace Corps. For the next 27 months, Jamie will be working in Ecuador. I’m so proud of his generous and adventurous spirit.

This photo of Jamie was taken in 2004 when we visited my sister’s family in NYC and PA.

Buen viaje, sobrino!

 

Tulips interruptus

Despite already feeling overwhelmed by my gardening responsibilities, I brought 10 tulip bulbs back from Amsterdam. I wanted to have a yearly floral reminder of our trip. Today, I went outside and figured out where I could wedge them in. I prepared the soil and used my handy-dandy tulip-bulb-digger-thingy to make a hole. I set one bulb in the hole and then thought, “It’s been a while since you planted a tulip bulb, maybe you should check for any special instructions.”

Good thing I checked with the interwebs. Tulip bulbs are only supposed to be planted in the fall. Doh!

Amsterdam tulips nearing the end of their bloom.

My bulbs are now tucked away in a paper bag in a basement cabinet. They’ll stay there until September when my phone calendar alert reminds me that it’s really and truly tulip planting time.

Jet plane through the solar plexus

We’re back home from our travels. My body is slowly adjusting to its usual time zone, but I still feel like I’m sleepwalking through glue.

I wanted to document the wallpaper I put on my phone at the start of our trip. The Minneapolis Airport had an employee art exhibit that we really enjoyed. This painting by Julie Fischer is titled QUARTER-LIFE CRISIS, and it won Best of Show in the Airport Foundation Employee Art Show.

Over the past ten days, I saw this image every time I looked at my phone. Something about the oxygen mask and a jet plane through the solar plexus felt very apt.

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Day 9: Almost home

We got up at 5:30 this morning, Uppsala time, and just barely caught the-bus-we-thought-was-a-train (when we purchased the tickets yesterday) to Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. From there we flew to Amsterdam. After promising that all checked luggage was our own and that no one had asked us to bring anything on the plane, we got on a packed plane. Our flight to Minneapolis took 7+ hours. Once in the airport, I got busted by the agricultural-sniffing dog for carrying an orange across the ocean. I relinquished the citrus and then we had to re-check our bags and go through security again because, you know, we could’ve spent that 7+ –hour flight filling our shoes with knives. We’re now sitting in a bar/restaurant, drinking local craft beer and eating fries while we wait for our flight to Denver.

It’s already been a loooong day, and there’s still miles to go.

Here’s a somewhat appropriate image from our last day in Stockholm:

Almost home.

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Day 8: Friday Haiku in three-part harmony

Our family is rich
so how did I end up with
this big onion head?
~ Tracy

This picture makes me
think little girls in dumb hats
is super cool shit.
~  Zippy

Children lose their smiles
pose for a picture; realize
head is an onion.
~ Zebu

(NOTE: Despite the no-talking rule as we composed our haikus, mother and son both went the onion route. Nature or nurture, hmm?)

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Day 7: Biking the river in Uppsala

This afternoon, Zippy and I took the train from Stockholm to Uppsala where Zebu has been studying for two semesters. He took us on a walking tour of the university town where I was thrilled to see evidence of a phenomenon he’d described during one of our Skype sessions:
 Bikes in the river.

Thanks for making my day, anonymous bike-thrower!

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Day 6: Things I learned in Stockholm

An elevator (aka lift), is identifiable by a silent HISS:

This is a Western Jackdaw (image from pexels.com because those taken on my phone are poor quality). We kept hearing and catching glimpses of the bird yesterday, but weren’t sure what it was. Now we know. A Western Jackdaw!

It’s possible to walk a whole lotta dogs without any muss or fuss:

The National Library of Sweden has very nice toilets that are FREE to the public, plus nice statuary next to the entrance/exit:

Zebu, Zippy, and a very chill woman.

The last thing I learned? It’s WAY easier to take photos with my camera and download them to my laptop than to transfer between phone and computer . . .

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Day 5: In which we each take shots in Stockholm

Zebu took the train from Uppsala down to Stockholm after his class this morning. As he showed us around parts of the city, we took turns with the various cameras. Here’s a picture of Zippy and Zebu (lower right corner), walking and talking:

A few minutes later, we passed two young employees standing outside a toy store, blowing bubbles to attract customers:

Zebu then took this photo of Zippy and me beneath one of the regional pink-blossomed trees I’ve been admiring since we set foot in Amsterdam:

And here’s Zippy’s final shot as we headed home on the metro:

It was an absolutely beautiful day in Stockholm and while Zebu confessed to wishing we’d experience one of the colder/grayer/wetter days he’s grown accustomed to, he didn’t begrudge us the warm sunshine.

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Day 4: Copenhagen, totally

The alarm went off at 6:00 this morning. We got up and went to the Amsterdam airport for our flight to Stockholm with its eight-hour layover in Copenhagen. After having the security guy in Amsterdam confiscate my peanut butter due to its bomb-making capabilities and then spending WAY too much time finding the baggage lockers in Copenhagen, we finally stepped out into the beautiful (but windy!) Copenhagen afternoon.

We went to the Trinitatis Church. By “went,” I mean peeked in long enough to take a photo which, because I’m exhausted, I’m having trouble editing, and then climbed to the round tower. Along the way, I found this fellow in a window seat:

Zippy resting on the climb to the round tower atop the Trinitatis Church in Copenhagen.

Up top we had this view:

View of the old and new in Copenhagen

Then we did some other stuff before heading back to the Copenhagen airport to fly to Stockholm. (Doesn’t that sound like a typical third-grader’s story/book report/research project in which it’s always a mad rush to The End?) Here’s a preview of what’s to come taken from our bus ride from the airport into Stockholm:

Well, that didn’t work. Rather than finding the photo I emailed myself from my phone, all I’m getting is the blue twirly wheel of death. I’m gonna call it a day.

*goes back to change the name of this post from Day 4: Copenhagen, mostly to Day 4: Copenhagen, totally*

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Day 3: iconic imagery from Amsterdam

We’ve got tulips:

Floating in the Museumplein pool.

Growing in a mound as Tracy stands guard over them in a tiny park.

We’ve got a canal view complete with narrow buildings and houseboats:

We’ve got a bicycle built for three, complete with windshield for the tiniest rider:

And last but not least, we’ve got Stroopwafels:

Gift from Femke, our AirBnB host.

Good thing I documented them here, because these delicious morsels are going fast!

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