Tuesday, July 31, 2012

slow typer

a sick baby, an under-the-weather husband, and a 4-year old who's too little to hold the sleeping baby, not to mention that he's sleeping himself, means i'm typing this with one hand.

 i think i will watch some non-badminton olympics on some questionably legit website now.

until tomorrow-- goodnight!

Monday, July 30, 2012


i wasn't going to test my balancing abilities today so i took the burley with me to the grocery store.  usually i just fit it all in the bike basket.  occasionally it's a precarious ride home trying not to tip over.  but i knew that today being monday, and so the largest grocery shopping day of the week, and that i would be stocking up on vinegar and baking soda and rags to clean the new place, i would never be able to get it all home without losing a liter of milk here and a liter of milk there, without the burley.

i set about cleaning the largest room today.  it's the room with the most potential.  the one i expect we will enjoy the most, given all the windows.  our living room, but also, i imagine, where we'll place our 'kitchen' table.  i'm used to living and eating in one big room and i can't see why it should be any different here.  if only we could fit the kitchen into it too.  the last tenant, and presumably anyone who's lived there before us, used an adjoining room off the kitchen for meals, but there's not good natural light in that room, and the bedrooms open up right onto it.  i see wooden train tracks winding their way through that room... matchbox cars lined up for a race.  toys for us to step on in the middle of the night as we make our way to the bathroom.  easier to have a few toys in your path than an entire dining room set.

i wiped down the walls, then the baseboards, then washed the floor.  i went through four liters of vinegar, two rags, one apple, one banana, and three 'this american life' podcasts before i was done.  my hope is that when i walk in tomorrow, that room, at least, will smell clean.  right now, the entire house smells old.  'like a summer house,' my friend sarah said when i brought her over.  yes, maybe, but someone else's summer house.  that's been closed up since the 1970's.  it conjures up no memories of the cottage or the lake house i spent time in as a child.

the floor desperately needed to be washed.  despite the fact that when i compare before and after photos there is no noticeable difference...

the before, taken a couple of weeks ago...

and this, after today's labors...

what we will do with those cords sticking out of the wall, i have no idea.  i tried pushing them back into the wall today with no success.  i can't imagine us buying speakers and a large flat screen tv to utilize them.  this was certainly a high-tech room at one point and we are, unfortunately, left with guts.     but, we'll figure something out!  i still have high hopes for this space.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

lawn care

today we took our first steps toward putting order to the yard of our soon-to-be place.  weeding... a thousand thistles.  mowing.  line trimming.  snail finding (that was william).  attempted roly-poly eating (that was henry).  

here is a bit of the backyard, post-mowing... 

here are a couple of brothers and a wheelbarrow... 

the great henzini... with his 80's hair style...

while working on the front yard, we met two of our soon-to-be neighbors.  one was a family that had lived in this house two years ago.  they'd swapped houses with our landlord (and his tenant occupier) because he was looking for a smaller place and they were looking for a larger place.  then two years ago, they swapped back.  

they missed this house, they said.  and it had the best apples on the tree out back (though it does not seem to be producing much this year).  she had left the photo album of the garden, given to her by the former (and original) owner.  he had built the shed behind henry and william in the photos above.  it felt good to know that people who'd lived here had loved this place and still did, especially as i feel i'm still very much warming up to it.  

tomorrow brings a new week and hopefully a lot of progress on getting the inside ready for the impending move.  

Saturday, July 28, 2012

short post

william and i watched our first badminton match today.  maybe you caught it-- women's doubles, japan v. denmark.  i think japan went in as the underdog because they were trailing in the first match and because i know badminton is such a big sport here.  it was hard for me to root for denmark.  i didn't.  i am definitely a fan of the underdog and the women from japan were just so obviously joyful and enthusiastic with each point they earned that it was easy to want them to win. and they did!  sorry denmark.

one thing i've noticed watching the olympics from denmark-- there are far fewer commercials.  in fact, i don't think i've seen a single one.  instead of going to commercial in between swim heats for example, you just watch close-ups of the crowd and listen to the danish commentators, who you don't even see.  less fuss and muss than what i'm sure is happening in america.  less bob costas.  less mcdonalds.

in other news, we did nothing with the new house today.  didn't even go over and stand in it.  greg seems to have caught the sore throat/fatigue illness i had last week.  william didn't get out of his pajamas until after lunch once again, and it rained for much of the day.  henry would have been game, but not necessarily a good partner for cleaning the bathrooms.

now the little ones are asleep and they're not rebroadcasting a badminton match-- it's men's swimming and i wonder if swimmers in the 80's used to walk out to the pool with their walkmans on.

Friday, July 27, 2012

sugar water bee

a warm and sunny day.  maybe the last, if the forecast is to be given credence.  but even if you didn't look at the forecast, you've heard enough about denmark by now to know that warm, sunny days are not necessarily one of summer's staples.

in the morning i ride to the realtor's office to pick up the key to our soon-to-be house.  on my way home, i keep going, past our house, to the new place.  to test the key maybe.  or to see what it feels like to pedal past our current, lovely home.  when i get there, i have nothing to do besides walk through it for the third time.  i open all the cupboards and closets.  i see that the bathroom light has been left on.  by us?  i walk around, trying to decide what walls need painting and decide they all do.  i look out on the huge lawn.  like a teenager or a four year old who already knows he's in trouble, it flaunts its unruliness.  and like a parent in unchartered territory, i have some hesitations over the fact that the responsibility for putting things back in order is mine.

i looked at greg sharing his popsicle with william tonight and thought how strange it is that we're parents.  didn't we just meet?  and now we're trying to find the right way to raise not one, but two little guys to adulthood?

but that's parenting, not gardening.

in the afternoon i submitted two job applications and got a call from william's school telling me he'd been stung by a bee and wanting to know if he'd ever been stung before and did he have any allergic reactions to stings.  a picture of applying a baking soda paste to a sting, in the laundry room of our old house, flashes into my mind.  but no, that was for me.  or it was for him, but not a bee.  he used to get awful, gigantic mosquito bites.  no, he has never been stung by a bee, so i hope he's not allergic.  and he's not.  they apply sugar and water to the sting, which william really likes and swears by now.  "mama, the next time i get a bee sting, you have to put sugar on it."  he tells us how he tasted some of it and i have to wonder if that's part of the value of this home remedy.

and now it's close to ten.  and the opening ceremony of the olympics will be starting and airing on the one basic channel we do not get.  i have good memories of summer olympics.  as a kid at age 12 and as an adult at 28.  i must not have paid much attention to the ones before or the three in between, but now i am in the mood to see them and i can't figure out a way to do it.  beginning tomorrow, one of the stations we do get, will air olympic events, but i am a little bummed out that the lineup for the first few days consists almost exclusively of handball and badminton.  two very, very popular sports here.  not the ones i was hoping to see.  perhaps they'll throw in some more events for a little diversity later on.  i hope.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


(written this morning...)

do you know what i'm going to do today?

i'm going to pull out the thistle plant near my bike. because i look at it everyday and i think, if only i were wearing a pair of gardening gloves.  but i never just happen to be wearing a pair of gardening gloves on my way in or out the door.  i have to search them out and put them on and pull the crazy thistle in the corner where the pavement doesn't hold life back.


and do you know what i did?

here, just look at the before and after...


okay, i admit it.  there was a lot more than one crazy thistle plant.

now the after...

the after

and my landlord came over.  she is back in town now, after living over(one)sea(no s).  she convinced me to take a second look at a job posting at the university here.  not a big thing.  just a part-time tutoring position.  and i may edit her dissertation if i can learn to stop starting sentences with 'and' and figure out how to capitalize.  of course, it doesn't really matter how i write, and besides, we all know it's okay to start your sentences with 'and' and throw out the capital letters, as long as you aren't doing it in your dissertation.

when i picked up the guys from school, william was in the far depths of the playground hunting dinosaurs with two other boys and a girl, who, other than the ultra-blonde hair, reminded me quite a lot of his friend sonya back in madison.  running around with the boys, hunting sticks in hand, donning a pink and very poofy dress.

and then henry bit one of the dinosaur hunters while i should have had my eye on him.  a mere day after bragging to the child development expert that he's never bitten anyone at school.

he also pointed to his nose on cue just after i told her he never points to his nose on cue.

oh henry bean.
using teeth appropriately

tomorrow we can theoretically get the key to our new place.  we have to arrange it with the realtor who was maybe not so happy with us for holding onto it for two days the last time we looked at the place, but as long as we can arrange that, it is ours to start painting (not that we have paint) and moving things into (not that we have furniture).  

may the projects begin!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


good news!  henry is normal!

oh henry, if you're reading this, i always knew you were.  but now the roskilde kommune knows you are too.  because today they came for a scheduled visit to see you.  it is denmark practicing preventative care.  if something's not right at one and a half, maybe they'll catch it and it won't become such a big problem later on.

so that was this morning.  assessing henry.  then i took him to school and caught william and his class as they were headed off to a playground (and you should see the amazing playground they have at this school).  tomorrow they go on a field trip-- i assume to the thursday concerts they've been to a couple of times now.  so many field trips!

back at home i sat outside and enjoyed a second summer day, talking with our neighbor, sarah.  and figured out plans for a small vacation to sweden with some visiting relatives in august.  getting there still needs to be worked out, but where we sleep and eat our breakfast once we're there seems to be settled.

when i got to the school to pick the guys up, henry was relaxing in the back of a 2-seater tricycle, waiting for a couple of girls to arrange the driving.  finally one of the girls got in the front seat and started pedaling him around the playground as i held on to his hand.  about halfway around she got out and began speaking to me in danish. it seemed like she was probably trying to tell us the ride ended here, but i gave her enough helpless looks that she eventually got back on the bike and pedaled henry around the full loop.

we ate our dinner outside with neighbors.  hamburgers on the grill.  bean salad (chick peas and cauliflower).  apple slices.  william ate another popsicle.  henry pulled too hard on the beaded necklace his brother made and william fixed it.

everybody went to bed, i wrote the blog, and then henry woke up before i hit 'publish.' so now i must hit 'publish' and get him back to sleep.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

tuesday, in which summer came back

26 degrees folks!  i don't know what that is in fahrenheit but it is hot!  so i'm going to find out now.  

oh geez.  forget i said anything.  especially those living in the midwest or arizona.  it was pleasant.  that was all.  a day where neither of the guys, nor myself, had to wear a fleece on the way to school.  not even long sleeve shirts. not even long pants.  not even socks.  none of it. not even at 8:30 in the morning!  (except that i did put on my standard uniform, which i later had to change out of because it was just so pleasant that i couldn't stand to be in jeans and a long sleeve shirt and smart wool socks and closed toe shoes in all that blaring pleasantness). 

somewhere, buried deep in greg's parent's basement is a set of popsicle molds.  perhaps with all the midwest heat, they went down there and dug them out.  but likely it's in some blue bin of ours, wondering if it isn't almost summer yet, and when it might be sitting in a nice, cold freezer again.  

and we were sort of wondering that first question ourselves and not once thinking of popsicles, until today.  after school william and i rode to the super best and picked out the biggest box of popsicles they sold-- a 10 pack assortment-- to celebrate the pleasantness that is 26 degrees celsius.  

william eating his popsicle... 

william eating greg's popsicle...

and me, out of the standard uniform, wearing a necklace my very thoughtful son made me at school today, after the water fight which he loved...

tonight, as if we didn't get enough sugar...

i can only take credit for having the idea.  greg thought them up and turned them into real cookies.

and now, let us hope that this summer will really last for the rest of the week!

Monday, July 23, 2012

balance beam

a long time ago i went to the bank here, the one next to the super best, and deposited money.  i know i did.  i remember waiting in line, and then being told to fill out a deposit slip.  at least... i remember going to the bank, standing in line, and being told to fill out some kind of paper for some reason.  i assume it was for some sort of financial transaction.  greg remembers going to that branch 'lots of times' in the beginning and depositing money ("okay, maybe not lots of times, but i definitely did it.").  

why so many times in the beginning and nothing recently?  i guess because greg's paycheck is automatically deposited.  before that first paycheck we were probably taking money out of the atm from our u.s. accounts and putting it into our (offshore) danish bank account.  wow. that sounds so much like tax evasion.  in any event, it's been months since either of us have entered that bank.  

so today, when i went in to deposit money once again, i looked for the table on the left side wall that held the deposit slips.  nothing.  i looked to the front counter.  no one.  a woman sitting at a desk in the open area to the right walked up and asked how she could help me.  

"i need to make a deposit," i said.  

"but you can't do it.  there's no money here." 

she thinks i said withdraw.  

"no. i want to give you money," i tell her.  

"but you can't.  we don't keep money here."  

"but i swear..."  

"you have to do it at the downtown branch."  


oh, it's just life doing a little balancing out.  it's because i wasted two hours of my life earlier today that now i'm riding as fast as i can to the downtown branch.  i've timed this bank trip to occur right before picking up the guys, and i'm anxious to get them because this week they're at the school next door.  the two schools have merged for three weeks, and this week everyone's at the other school.  i'm anxious to not leave them there for too long on the first day.  but now the bank branch closest to us seems to have whittled away at its responsibilities and instead of picking up the guys i'm headed to the pedestrian street to seek out the main branch.  it's a steady, barely detectable (to the eye) uphill ride to town.  but you feel it.  especially when the wind is fleeing the city center, which it always seems to be doing these days.  regardless, getting to town is always closer than i imagine.  i think it was those initial walks there and back, with children on our backs, before we had bike or burley, that have me remembering it as a long, arduous trip... no matter how many times i've made it since on my bike.  

i make the deposit.  necessary because we must pay our equivalent of four month's rent to our new landlord (typical here, though you can be made to pay up to 7 month's equivalent by the first day of your lease).  it's a much faster ride back, because of the steady downhill, the pushy wind, and the fact that i can cut off a significant corner by going to their (or the neighboring) school.  

i interpret henry's somewhat disinterested offer to me of the blade of grass in his hand to be his response to my leaving him at an unfamiliar place.  william is happy though.  he wants to make sure we bring his "swim trousers" tomorrow because there's going to be a water fight and in case there's enough water swirling around the playground, he's going to swim.  and he wants us to buy him a water pistol, though his teacher assures us these will be provided for him.  

my little water guy... 

man, couldn't those little guys be henry?  they're william!  

well, so why did life have to balance itself out today?

a clean loft and a sore throat i suppose, gave me the excuse to go upstairs and turn on the tv in the middle of the day.  something i have maybe never done since we've been here.  i can probably count on one hand (okay, two) the number of times we've had the tv on.  there was nothing noteworthy on the five or so channels at that time of day... maybe never.  i could have watched a documentary about napoleon, but instead i spent two hours out of my life watching a danish film from our landlord's dvd selection.  a drama... married doctor falls madly in love with the girlfriend of the man his wife hit with her car.  you say that plot out loud and you wonder how it ever made it off someone's laptop. 

it featured an actor who is on the cover of at least two other dvd's in the collection.  now, you might say that my landlord is just a big fan, but i think he might just be one of denmark's only actors.  i've seen his face on the cover of magazines and newspapers multiple times since we've lived here.  imbd.com tells me he's been voted denmark's sexiest man "over and over."  i showed greg his picture and he was able to name him!  he is mads mikkelsen.  you might know him as the bad guy in casino royale.  something i would not have remembered without reading it.  

here he is... remember?  le chiffre... 

so now you know about as much danish pop culture as i do, and the reason i needed the life reaffirming  bike ride to our bank's main branch today!  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

to the bognæs skov

a trip to a forested peninsula on the fjord today.  greg has been wanting to take a trip out to an isthmus connecting the peninsula to the mainland, maybe 8 or 10 miles from where we live.  today, we went.  a good day to do so as it only looked like it might rain one time during the entire day.  a day mostly told through pictures... 

upon reaching the isthmus

a beautiful day for a bike ride...

a peak at the fjord...

heading onto the peninsula, toward the forest...

we ditched our bikes at a rubble pile at the forest entrance and walked along...

being in the forest made me think i had not seen trees in a long time, but i think i have just not seen such tall trees so close up in a long time...

looking, not touching, a big slug...


hanging around a chopped down tree for a bit.  looking, and touching, the bugs living underneath the logs. watching ants...

we stopped at the viking bakery in roskilde before our ride and picked up some bread.  and then i realized that maybe you haven't seen danish rye bread close up before, so here it is...

we found a place near the water to set down our blanket for a picnic lunch...

henry with one shoe

william with cheese

after lunch, there was the pull toward the water...

where it started to get overcast and cool, and feel like it might rain...

so after throwing some rocks, we made our way back to the bikes and headed home.  a warm ride back. sun and no rain.

i tried out the panoramic option on my phone's camera and took two pictures that google would not let me upload, saying i'd run out of space and needed to upgrade from a free account to a paid account.  i put them on facebook instead.  ah well!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

another saturday night

it took us hours today to convince william to change out of his pajamas.  it wasn't a focused intervention, just the occasional, "why not get dressed?" ...  "how about picking out some play clothes?"  when an afternoon trip to the beach finally got him stirring he said about his pajamas, "they just feel so cozy on me."  it's hard for me to relate.  i'm not a pajamas-after-breakfast kind of person.  

i stay back.  i clean up. do laundry.  i find a piece of bread in the coat closet.  i find our missing dishcloth under our mattress cover.  i prep dinner.  then i make dinner.  as i'm cooking, they return.  william runs in with nothing but a helmet on and a lady bug in his hand.  (so much for the play clothes.)  "want to see this lady bug i found?" he says as he puts it on the kitchen counter.  "see how it's dark red?"  we look at it and then i suggest that he might want to put it outside before it gets lost.  he picks it back up and brings it out.  a minute later he brings it in again.  "see how small it is?  it's this small," he says, holding it out to me.  

henry runs in, nothing but a diaper on. 

we talk about the beach.  william tells me: 

"i held a jellyfish.  it was dead.  we dug a hole and put water in it with the bucket and then we put the jellyfish in, and then we took it out again and it was dead."  

"oh! okay!  well... make sure you wash your hands before dinner."  

we eat.  i do the dishes.  i find the ladybug hiding from the four year old on the underside of the colander.  

i hear a danish woman on the radio speaking with a perfect american accent.  

william and greg build an intricate lego monster.  they have cleaned up the lego chaos upstairs and i can only imagine that suddenly anything seemed possible.  

henry goes to sleep.  william's back in his pajamas.  we take down candy land to play a game before william goes to bed.  henry wakes up.  henry goes back to sleep.  we play a game.  william wins.  he goes to bed... approximately... he's trying.  

an ordinary saturday these days.

i'll leave you with pictures from the beach... keep an eye out for the dead jellyfish... you'll know it when you see it...


Friday, July 20, 2012



i have lots of thoughts about the shooting in colorado, as i'm sure everyone does, but no good way to organize them, so 'ugh' will have to suffice for now.

how about showing you a little of the statens museum for kunst... the national gallery of denmark that katie and i went to visit today.  the permanent exhibits are free, so if you're in copenhagen, this is worthwhile...

two red heads


roskilde's domkirke (cathedral)


sweden's queen christina (kristina) who's been mentioned on this blog

now go hug someone you love.