Friday, April 26, 2013

The coolest barn I've ever seen

This barn was built in around the 1890's and was on the cutting edge of technology of that era. It's at Fogdegården Borten near Trondheim, Norway. It is immense, practically cathedral-like in scale. "Monumental," said Merete, the farmer here. It has four levels.

The very top (above) is used for hay and wood. It only has a ramp going through, not a full floor. The second level, the largest (the one where I took all these photos), is used for hay and grain. The floor only extends part of the way around the huge L-shaped barn, so there are places where you can see all the way from roof to floor. The floor has a lot of trap doors so you can dump hay into any animal stall below. You can feel the warm air coming up from the animals when you open the trap doors.

The ground floor has space for all the animals--hundreds of chickens, a dozen or so ponies, 20 cows, 40 sheep and 80 lambs, two giant pigs--plus storage areas for bread, fruits and vegetables and tools. Each stall on the ground floor has a trap door or a grate for manure and compost, which all goes into the basement of the barn.

 View through a trap door of one of the sheep stables.

 Gabriel puts hay down the cow trap door.

 Also stored on the ground level are these 19th-century carts and wagons.

 A view of a grain storage platform, looking down from the top level ramp.

 The only way to get from the top level to the level below is by jumping onto a haystack. You can enter the top level from an external tractor-sized ramp, but to get onto the level below you have to climb a ladder up from the cow's stable (or jump from the top). 

 View from the haystack of the top and second level.

Top level to second level!

 Cow stable

 One of several sheep stables

Pig area

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sacramento Street, Cambridge, MA, 2011

Friday, April 19, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Borragine and Edicola, Casa Lanzarotti, 2012

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Too bored to eat

I'm having a lot of trouble eating food right now. All food is so boring but I feel so weak. Toast? No. Milk? No. Granola? No. Salami? No. Eggs? No. Brunost? No. Ramen? No. Pasta? No. Carrots? No. (All honest answers. Still, I'm starving.) I'm housesitting out by Samnanger Fjord and it's very slow and very isolated. There's plenty of food in the pantry and the freezer, but no option of going out to buy new food. Which has answered the age-old question which I can't formulate because I'm too weak. The question is something like, do you always need to be buying things to make them exciting? What if you stocked your closet with a hundred new dresses that you slowly released to yourself over five years? Would it be as exciting as buying a hundred new dresses gradually over five years? Answer: No.

I just watched Walk the Line and it was so incredible because of Joaquin Phoenix's freaky twitching during his performances. I watched all the performances over and over again. I can't stop singing Cocaine Blues. "When I was arrested I was dressed in black..." What does that mean? Why is it so powerful? When I'm feeding the cows I say "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash," in my best Johnny Cash voice.

Also, Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life. I can't stop singing the Hard Knock Life song from Annie. What a creepy weird melody, a sinister octave rise.

I spend a lot of time cleaning my keyboard. The space bar has a big worn-down patch on the left side. The C, V and B have vertical worn-patches from my nails, I guess. The D is worn down on a slight \ diagonal. And the E is worn down on a steeper \ diagonal.

I'm thinking about the weird, custardy, precise, blunt movement of someone's finger on a roadmap.

Lucy, California, 2012

Monday, April 8, 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A great old friend who lives by the cemetery, 2012

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Brooders, Casa Lanzarotti, 2012

Lavender Distillery, Azienda Agricola Casa Lanzarotti, 2012
After the pit is sealed, it's filled with steam, which enters into the plants and releases their essential oils. The steam cools off along a serpentine of pipes and in the end the essential oils rise to the top of the water, where they can be tapped and bottled.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

“He who knows nothing, loves nothing. He who can do nothing understands nothing. He who understands nothing is worthless. But he who understands also loves, notices, sees… . The more knowledge is inherent in a thing, the greater the love… . Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time as the strawberries knows nothing about grapes. 

-Paracelsus (with thanks to Love Dog)

Paracelsus: the retail experience.

A new story online

It's called "Creep" and it's at Literary Orphans.

This one is at least 40% true. I will tell you which 40% if you want to know.

It's nice that Literary Orphans pairs photos with the stories. This is the first time a story of mine has been illustrated since the Stone Soup story which I illustrated myself at age 13.

Italy, 2012

Train, Bergen to Oslo, 2012

Berlin, 2012

Exotic Norwegian foods I have tried

-Moose Salami. It tastes like slightly off salami, a bit darker and spookier. I also ate reindeer cold cuts. They were so smoked they just tasted like smoky roast beef.

-Jelly made from bush "apples." (No one knew the Norwegian word, let alone the English.) The apple-juice-colored jelly tasted like how mustard would taste if it were a fruit--piquant, guilty, sweet.

Whale steak

-Whale Steak. It does not taste like chicken. Also not like fish. Also not like beef. It has a very sweet light taste with an oceany, briny undertone, a whiff of the salty rot of seaweed, maybe. Its most defining characteristic (other than the feeling of sin while you eat it) is its weird gristle structure, which is very different from steak or other land animals. It has a chewy rind but no fat. I don't know what kind of whale it was, or from what section the tiny steaks were cut. Served with rice, gravy, caramelized onions and cowberry sauce.

 Ice cream; cowberry sauce

-Home made ice cream with cowberry sauce and spruce syrup. Sissel made a very dense ice cream with rich yellow fløte (one of my few Norwegian vocab words--it means cream) that resembled in density a stick of butter. Cowberry sauce is like cranberry sauce but with smaller berries. I just learned that cowberries are also called lingonberries.

Spruce syrup

Spruce syrup on waffle

-Spruce syrup. More viscous than maple syrup, with a greenish tinge. It tasted sour and spicy and a tiny bit sweet and vaguely disgusting, like maple syrup after relapsing into narcotics. I couldn't bring myself to try it more than once.

-Norwegian waffles. Unlike American circles or squares, Norwegian waffles are shaped like flowers, and each petal is a heart. Waffles are such a big deal here that these farmers had some antique waffle irons to fit on a wood-burning stove. One was as small as my hand.


-Smør. There's not too much to say about Norwegian butter, except that Norwegians don't refrigerate it. It's something you keep in a box on the counter. You might think that this is possible in Norway because it's so cold, but really the interiors are just as heated as US houses. So maybe Americans treat butter like it's more fragile than it really is. This butter was so soft you could brush it right on your toast.

Freia easter eggs in packaging

-Freia easter eggs. Freia is the Hershey's of Norway (actually, Freia is now part of Kraft Foods). These eggs come four to a carton, with two little plastic spoons that are bound together with a sticker that you have to tear. The eggs have a milk chocolate shell and are filled with "milk cream." The idea is that you bite off the top of the shell and consume the cream with the spoon. This isn't like the milk cream in Kinder bars (that's pastier, this one is moister and fluffier). It also isn't grainy-tasting pure translucent sugar mucous, like in Cadbury eggs. It's a white opaque mousse that is very sweet but almost has a hint of dairy in it. Anyway, I love it.

-Duck eggs. The farmer liked to prepare them with a lot of garlic and some store bought spice he called "Tikka masala."

-Birthday cake. It was my 23rd birthday on March 22nd. This cake was a dream, so light and glamorous on that 400-year-old farm table. It was like a wealthy, cosmopolitan visitor, and it moved me that the rugged and unfancy farmers had dredged up some old rule of etiquette and presented me with this elegant creation. The cake had "Congratulations" written on the top in cursive, under a crimson frosting rose. It was flawlessly swathed in some matte peach-colored layer that Sissel called marzipan. The inside was four layers of yellow cake, adhered to one another with whipped cream. Some of the whipped cream hid chunks of banana, or coats of raspberry jam.