Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Of all the things that can make you sad: Goats.

My sister and I have an uncanny ability to feel saddened by the most random things. Heck, even things that aren't the least bit sad. Say, watching someone sitting on a bench enjoying an ice cream or an elderly person out grocery shopping. Or, as was the case yesterday, a dad coming home from war - in a Christmas ad for Sainsbury's, no less.

As you can tell, it's not necessarily sad things per se, yet stuff like that tends to overwhelm me with emotion and make me heavy-hearted, to the point where my throat tightens and hurts. It's a very silly melancholic strip of DNA to be carrying around, for sure.

Another very specific thing that makes me really sad are goats grazing on sand-covered grass. Luckily, I don't come across that very often, but when Johan and I went to Lake Naivasha, we did. And even though it was a month ago, I still feel it.

The pictures really don't convey how much sand there was in that area, but believe me, in some places you'd suspect a volcano had erupted - that's how covered in sand everything was. All the green was just grey. Or beige. Or whatever color sand is.

There were people and cattle traversing that sandy landscape by foot and hoof. And then there were assholes like Johan and I, whirling all that sand into the air as we sped past them in our car.

But the saddest thing of all, were the grazing goats, whose shepherd, I guess, had nowhere to take them but the side of the road, where all they had to feed on was sand-covered grass as far as the eye could see. And they didn't particularly seem to enjoy it. They were al like: "Must we? Eat this?"

I almost tear up just thinking about it.

Believe me, there are plenty of things in this part of the world to feel sad about, and I'm well aware that the stuff I've seen is nothing compared to some of the true misery that's out there. Johan has shown me pictures from his work trips around this continent, and I tell you, when you look at some of them you immediately understand why people risk their lives to go somewhere better. Because, there's nothing. Truly nothing.

And yet, the bigger picture and the massive problems that threaten the human condition around the world completely evaporate from my radar when I take in the sight of poorly-fed baby goats and their moms. Had my sister been there too, I'm sure we would have downright bawled our eyes out.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tiny Yankee (After Picasso's "Seated Harlequin", 1905)

How's that for a pretentious title?! I feel all amateur painters, instead of great art work, should at least do the world a favor by striving to give their paintings long, pretentious titles.

In all honesty, I'm very happy with the result, yet I'm purposely not posting a picture of the deliriously beautiful painting I've taken the liberty to copy pay homage to. It's like, juxtaposing the two pieces really doesn't come out in my favor, if you know what I mean.

If you don't have time to look at the original, I can tell you that it's a Chinese ink and watercolor piece from Picasso's rose period, which sits in the private collection of some very lucky bastard - perhaps the grandchild of a light-fingered nazi or perhaps an elderly philanthropist , who loves it very much. I guess we will never know for sure.

I have, however, made some alterations from the original. Running short on both Chinese ink and crimson red, I skipped ahead to my blue period, and found it fitting to make it a little more contemporary by replacing the Napoleon hat with an oversized Yankee snapback worn hip hop style, as the kids say (or may had said once upon a time). 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

one hippopotamus, two

A couple of weeks back, when Johan and I visited Lake Naivasha, we decided that going on a water safari would be a sensible thing to do. However, because I got a really nasty bout of gastroentitis the minute we returned from that trip (which is really just a nicer-sounding word for long term diarrhea), I've kind of just been wanting to forget that our romantic weekend on the lake ever happened.

But hey, of course no stomach bug shall ever prevent me from leading an active and overly documented life on social media. So here we go: A handful of aquatic animals - albeit a little belated.

What's interesting about watching animals in the wild is how excited you get about a given specie at first glance, and also how surprisingly chill you get once you've seen that specie a couple of times. 

"Great. Another flock of flamingoes", you go to the bwana*. "Now, you got something that's a little more rare?"

*bwana is Swahili for safari leader. I just looked that up and thought it'd be nice to casually throw it into my sentence.

As a kid, Johan did a lot of sailing, and I'm always so impressed with how he always knows how to help the guy in charge of the boat. Say, if it gets stuck somewhere or if a sail needs to be set, then Johan is there in his boat shoes saying clever stuff like "starboard!"

Our bwana was kind of an ass-hole, sailing straight into a flock of flamingoes lazing right in the middle of the lake. However, it made for a spectacularly dramatic photo-op.

Hippopotamuses? Hippopotami? 
A read head in Africa. Very rare. Hehe.

Pelicans. I love their short legs. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

one for the pack

In the area where we live, there are lot of gated compounds, and come evening, all the security companies drive around the neighborhood delivering watch dogs for the night shift.

On any given night, you can hear a dog that starts howling, and before you know it, every single dog in its vicinity chimes in, creating a canine cacophony that's unlike anything I've ever heard. While it's not exactly beautiful, there's something really moving about it. The way they all call out for their pack.

On a slightly less sad note, I just saw this on Jezebel and thought I'd share. Because we all know that puppies are good for your soul.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Having a case of the mondays?

Then remember that out there somewhere, there's an African governor having a way shittier day than you.

My tartan giant

Growing up, Johan must have had his fair share of broccoli, because somewhere along his teenage years, he sprouted into the six-footer he is today. 6 feet and 2 inches to be exact. Or 190 cm if you dig the metric system.

Although I'm a measly 5ft3", I actually rarely think much about the foot that separates us. In fact, sometimes I look at him and think we're kind of equally tall. Give or take.

Of course, then there are days when he decides to use me as a leaning device, casually resting his elbow as well as his body weight on the top of my head. Or days when he sets up office at my tiny desk.

And then I realize dude is tall. And that someone may have shrunk our furniture.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wooden Rudder Begone!

We found a really sneaky and pastel-colored way of getting rid of the wooden rudder that was bolted to our living room wall!

Here's what I did. Or rather, here's a what man working at the frame shop did because we paid him:
He stretched a piece of canvas onto an excessively deep, custom-built frame, which we mounted on top of the rudder. Then, I painted a poster for a Hockney exhibition that never was, which was really just a postmodern excuse to make a copy of Hockney's A Bigger Splash.

Nice, yes?

For all I know, The Musem of Modern Art in Sao Paulo never had an exhibition of Hockney's work, but here's to pretending. 

I also added the dates of Johan's and my birthday respectively, which symbolizes Johan's undying love for me. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Herbert Matter

So remember when I said something about wanting to learn about iconic graphic designers?

Yeah, I forgot about that too kinda, but seeing there's no reason to dwell on failures, let's just go ahead and proceed ;)

With Herbert Matter (1907-1984), to be exact. Wikipedia does a much better job at summing up what seems to have a been a very rich, colorful and happy life, so I'll restrain myself to noting that this Swiss-born gentleman has an impressive resumé, including a gig designing posters for The Swiss National Tourist Office, a more than a decade long position as design consultant with Knoll and a tenure at Yale for a little extra academic cred.

Moreover, he seems to have fearlessly dabbled in various art forms, high and low, right from magazine art direction and commercial logo design to architecture and film, which I just find really likeable.

Anyway, let's a have a look-see, shall we?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

They had him at bacon

Even though Johan has been living in Nairobi for more than 6 months, and I just passed the 2-month mark, we're still kind of clueless as to where to go and what to see in this city. However, every time we do come across or visit something really nice, one of us tend to remark: "This would make for a nice parent outing".

And this week, with my dad visiting, we put some of our preferred attractions to the test; among them The River CafĂ© - a beautiful eatery slash nursery sitting lakeside and where, more importantly, they have bacon and eggs on the menu (a universal dad fave, I suspect).

And it went down well. Much better than the Karen Blixen Museum, where next time I will bring a zip lock bag of bacon bits, which we can snack on while we listen to the guide recount the plot of "Out of Africa" - the movie.

My dad outside Karen Blixen's house. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Do you also see the resemblance between Herb Ritts' photo and mine?

Wednesday Morning Safari

My dad is visiting from Denmark this week, and seeing we were unable to fly to the Masai Mara for the customary safari, we settled for the next best thing: A trip to Nairobi National Park.

We set out at 5.30 am, the morning fog still lingering in the air as we headed into the park, driving around the fringes of the open grass plains with hundreds of animals dazing and grazing on them. Now, looking at animals in the wild is nothing short of amazing, but the fact that you can do it less than a 30-minute drive from your house, with the city's skyscrapers as a backdrop, is pretty mind blowing. (At least to a Scandinavian like myself, whose safaris tend to include a blackbird and a hare at best.)

Supposedly, the park has more than 80 wildlife species, and although we didn't see as many, I felt more than content with the 10-15 varieties that we got to gawk at. And as our grand finale, we got to see a male lion strutting around on the plains, while his sunbathing ladies kept an acute eye on him.

This rhino posed so professionally for the camera, I felt tempted to give it a big tip. Also, did you know that rhinos hang out with little white birds, who eat insects of their backs? Such peculiar traveling companions, but they seemed to get along really, really well.
Buffaloes. I think they're buffaloes, at least. What I know for sure, however, is that while grazing, they find it soothing to listen to podcasts with David Attenborough.  

Lions, for some reason, steal all the other animals' thunder. I don't know if it's that fact that it could so easily kill you, that's the big draw, but even our safari-seasoned driver was all: "LOOK! LOOK! SIMBA!

You have watched The Lion King one too many times, I thought to myself at first, but later I learned that simba is swahili for lion. So there's that.
They say buffaloes are really dangerous, but for the life of me, I cannot take them seriously. To me, this looks like a slightly kooky lady wearing curlers
I saturated the colors in this photo too much, I realize, but it's just because impalas otherwise blend in a little too well with the scenery. 

Wildebeest and a single impala, shying away from the rain.

Elusive alpha male. So typical.  It looks like it's dry humping the air. Also typical. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

I may or may not have taken 500 pictures in one single weekend

In less than a weekend, actually. In fact, we spent only 26 hours at Olerai House by Lake Naivasha, but those 26 hours presented themselves like pretty much the best photo-op ever.

This was the view from the breakfast table.  And the lunch table. And the afternoon drinks table.
Gratuitous, aerial view of my breakfast. The owners had sourced the tableware from all over the world, I think, which we can all agree adds a terribly nice touch. 

Upon arrival, they offered that a staff warrior take us for a walk on the grounds, not least to protect us from the water buffaloes who were supposedly feeling a little antsy that morning. One of the females had given birth that very night, and if I had given birth to a baby buffalo, I too would be a little extra on my marks - I mean, look.
Just as we sat down to breakfast on Sunday morning, there was this whole clan of giraffes parading by. Along with zebras. And wild hogs. And water bucks. And impalas :) 
They even had a pet pig that enjoyed belly rubs. Johan was a little awkward in mentioning how you could make a really neat brush out of its hair, and the owner was all: "But it's our pet...?"
Our room. Enough said.

Our room as seen from outside. Monkeys jumped from the trees on to the tin roof every once in a while just to shake things up a bit

A view over Lake Naivasha. Or perhaps it's a smaller lake right next to Lake Naivasha. Anyhow, a lake and a view it is.
The main house.

Zebras hanging out with guests. 
Going to bed without flowers strewn on it, just feels unbearable now.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

LeRoy Grannis. The Grandfather of Surfphotography.

I get the feeling I'm far from the only one who's enjoying a fascination with all things west coast these days. The beach, the dessert, the cacti. That sun-hazed and worry-free aesthetic. The architecture and the swimming pools.

Apart from the fact that I guess it's very much in fashion, I attribute it partly to the fact that I'm currently living in an apartment reminiscent of an L.A. bungalow.  Or my idea of an L.A. bungalow, anyway. "Doesn't this just remind you of L.A.?" I regularly ask Johan while gesturing towards our surroundings. Which is a bit cocky, I guess, coming from someone who last visited L.A. 20 years ago.

Anyhow, for some reason or another I looked up surfphotography this morning, which in turn turned me on to LeRoy Grannis, the grandfather of surfphotography according to The New York Times. These photos, if I'm not mistaken, are all from the 1960's, most of them taken in Grannis' hometown of Hermosa Beach. And they just make me want to get a tan, go blond and drink coca-colas all day long while I lie on a towel on the beach and admire my own surfer abs.