Monday, August 31, 2009

Skillz, I has dem.

In case anyone ever wonders if Kel D is a capable teacher, may I just say for the record: Yes, she is!

After a fun expat meet up, I dragged Kel D back to my lair, plied her with wine and forced her to teach me to knit. Okay, not so forced, she totally volunteered.

Ladies and gentlemen, having had half a bottle of wine, Kel taught the Archaeogoddess, also under the influence of half a bottle of wine, to move pointy sticks in complicated motions, moving yarn from ball to hand to stick to other stick, causing intricate not quite knot formations to grow and grow and...

Look, she taught me to knit, okay? Evidence?


See??!!?? Knitted stuff!! It's not perfect, but if you've ever seen me trip over nothing or suddenly fall sideways into walls, you will know that this requires manual dexterity long thought to be beyond my capabilities.

Yesterday being Sunday I could not go to the yarn store... but today. I will sally forth and try to knit all on my own. Should you never hear from me again, it is because I've either accidently killed myself with a knitting needle or knitted myself to a chair. In any case, send help.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Because I can't help myself...

anti-obama lawn sign

In case not everyone noticed that yesterday's image included "no PUBIC option" (damn it, if congress doesn't put free Brazilian waxes for everyone in the new health care plan, I ain't voting for it!) I give you LOLPolitics. (Actually brought to you by Pundit Kitchen aka LOL News.)

Brings ignorant to a whole new level!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meanwhile in America....

...things are getting really nasty on the universal health care front.

Now, I'm often asked by non-Americans what in the hell we're doing over in the US, denying people basic health care and sending people bills that were obviously typed on defective typewriters because there is no way that's a real number, and honestly, I can't explain it to you. Because it doesn't really make a lot of sense to me either.

Tragically, after reading some of the tripe that is put out about the death squads sent out to kill your mother and her dog by forcing her (your mother, but maybe also your mother's dog) to stand in line for her (again, not only your mother but your mother's DOG too) botox shots for, like, an hour or something, but *IN THE SUN* and possibly near an ugly faux palm tree, and the evil socialist fascist commie bastards who want to force *YOU* to have an *ABORTION* even if you aren't pregnant, or are a guy and probably don't have a uterus, unless you are one of those gay people, because we all know you have uteruses in your well decorated apartments, and in which case we the True Believers in Christ's Mercy aka Fox News Followers will kill you with our own death squads, but *WE* are not going to make *YOU* wait in line, (quick go back to the start of this sentence to pick up the original thread of this thought) you realize why American's are becoming increasingly stupid.

I went to the Fox News website to get you a link, but then the world went black and my computer started to flicker and I realized that my soul was being sucked into a vortex of evil and filth and so I Force Quit the internet.

Partially recovered, but needing a stiff drink, I returned to the intertubes and reloaded the page that had started my quest. I'm sure she didn't want me to go to... That Place... to look for a good link. I'm sure if she was in the neighborhood she'd even bring me a gin and... more gin. That would be Aaryn Belfer who writes from time to time for The Woman's Colony and wrote this FABULOUS piece (it's a link!!) that kept me smiling in a time of partisan woe. I stole that picture from her too! I'm a commie bastard at heart. I BLEED RED. Um. Yeah.

Whenever I want to remind myself why Denmark is really not that bad of a place to be downtrodden and marginalized, I can just check out Fox Noise and remember that I could be where the *liberal majority* is downtrodden and marginalized by a few fat white male pundits.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Denmark? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???

This just in from an article in the Copenhagen Post. <-----Link, in case you don't know. Go, read it. I'll wait.

Okay, for those of you too busy or getting this via email: In increasingly desperate measures, Denmark continues to try to keep out the "darkies" without saying, "whites only." Their new ploy - charge people who come to Denmark for Family Reunification 3,000 kr to take a Danish language and culture test.

I better start taking donations so I can pay for my test, because wouldn't you know, I'm here on a Family Reunification Visa!!

I am not so worried about taking the test, because I'm already required by the government to learn Danish and I have to pass a series of tests ALREADY in order to stay, so what's one more... but dude, YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE ME PAY FOR A GOVERNMENT REQUIRED TEST??? WAS THE $10,000 I HAVE TO KEEP IN A SEALED BANK VAULT NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU PEOPLE???

I really hope this leads to a Danish brain drain as Danes who fall in love with foreigners realize that really, they should just stay with their foreign spouse and contribute to that foreign country's economy rather than bring said spouse back to DK where we are treated like second-class citizens.

And the first person who suggests that we give North Americans an exemption will be shot. That is just disgusting and degrading that you would think that I would want to use my skin color or my religion or my so-called race to step in front of people who are fleeing for their lives or looking for somewhere where they can make something of themselves.

Either require the test of EVERYONE: highly skilled workers, asylum seekers, family reunification-ators, residency and citizenship; or NO ONE.

This is SO not worth the free health care.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A rather eventful day

Yesterday was rather eventful. There was the obligatory 3 1/2 hours of Danish, followed by a power nap. My Dane and I then headed off to look at this camper that he'd seen on the side of the road.

[Insert flashback special effects]

My husband, who leaves WEDNESDAY, for Holland (I have part II of my Danish test that day, how unfair of the universe is THAT?) had still not found a place he was willing to live. Most of the places that were almost affordable were shared rooms or in a dormitory-like environment. My husband, bless him, is a little old for returning to college life. I could see him coming out of his dorm room and shaking his fist at the noisy kids. Or giving the evil eye to a roommate. He only puts up with me because I'm cute and I show him my boobies.

(Off topic note: He is forbidden to call them anything other than "breasts." I hate when people refer to someone else's breasts with some stupid pet name or childish term, but I also retain the right to call my breasts whatever the heck I want if it will imbue a story with a bit of levity. I'll stop talking about breasts now. This could be the post where my parents finally get around to reading my blog and I would hate to embarrass them.)

Anyway, so on the topic of husband travelling/lacking a home, he'd made cracks about living in the car. I, however, do not get Danish humor, and so promptly pointed out that if he were to live in the car, he'd have to live at a campsite so that he would have bathing and toilet facilities. I'm really big on people not peeing freely. I'm not sure who pointed out that the most sane idea for staying at a campsite would be to have a camper, but it came up as a frighteningly good idea. He did a bit of research and discovered that campers are insanely expensive in Denmark. I swear, you could put wheels on a dog turd and sell it for millions. He even went to a used camper dealership, where they were selling campers held together with duct tape for 50,000 kr. Heck, I'm going to start putting wheels on my OWN poop!

(Toilet humor getting to you? Sorry, blame the mad storm of yesterday, I may have been struck by lighting.)

That would have been the end of it, except that while driving home from Grenaa the other day, he saw a camper for sale on the side of the road. He looked it over, called the guy, poked, prodded, did whatever two men do when they contemplate an exchange of wheeled objects (my poop not included) (SORRY) and came home to talk with me about it.

Ever so practical, I asked him if there EVEN WERE campsites near his school. That's what I'm here for, killing the joy. Oh yes, I can kill the joy. [Insert lots of boring details here that I won't... er... bore you with.] Yes, Virginia, there is a campsite... open until Oct. 4th and in the woods. After that he might have to get creative, but that will be his anxiety, not mine. He decides it will be a great adventure, I see it as a way to go camping in France. I hear they have good wine. So, because it was under 15,000 kr., and in good condition, we bought it. It's little. It's bitty. It dates from 1980-something and so goes great with the Volvo station wagon. (I tried to find a comparable one on-line... but I couldn't.) It's got a bed, a table area that could become a second bed, sink, two gas burners, a fridge, a toilet (an empty yourself kind), and an attachable tent with walls (thereby doubling your living space... when it's warm outside). It's very brown and green, but doesn't smell at ALL. This is vitally important.

I swear we are now the perfect middle-class American family... without the kids. Lousy Danish family though. We lack privet hedges and a summer house.

Right. So, now we've caught up with where I started (and slightly overshot, but do I look like a hollywood director?). We had a date with some friends back in Århus, but since we were running late, we took the camper with. It was a hit and our friends' adorable little girls declared that mum and dad should buy one with their DanKort (think Debit Card meets Visa).

And then it started raining. Whoa boy, did it start raining. And there was the lighting and the thunder and all in all it was a very impressive summer storm. We thought it was over by the time we parked the car and camper half a mile from our home (free parallel parking where you don't actually have to maneuver between two other parked objects is not that easy to find in Århus). We were mistaken. We took shelter in the doorway of a lonely store in the middle of nowhere.

Note to all: It is acceptable to pee freely when it is pouring rain, you are far from home, and surrounded by closed non-residential buildings, provided that you pee somewhere where it will be washed away by morning. Also, always accept an umbrella from friends. Always.

Just as we were starting to wonder if we'd have to swim home, my husband saw a bus. I couldn't see the bus stop, but my Dane said there was. We actually chatted about this as the bus pulled up on the other side of the road and sat at the stop. Realizing that we'd be kicking ourselves if we didn't take it, no matter where it went, it had to be drier than this, right? We ran across the road. Correction, we splashed across the river that just happened to be partially navigable by car, and got on the bus. Bless that bus driver, he'd seen us and waited. We determined that he was actually going to go right by the street our house is on (yippee!) and we were so grateful we bought bus tickets. (Note: in Århus, you buy the tickets in the back of the bus at a little automatic ticket booth. Think of it as a strange honors system. The bus drivers do not check the tickets. But there are special bus police that do, so you do have to watch yourself.)

Where was I? Tickets! Okay, so we bought tickets. Then the bus driver dropped us as close to our house as possible, not where there was a bus stop (the closest bus stop being farther away). What service!! We were impressed. We were soaked. We were having a ridiculously good time for people caught out in the rain with only a borrowed umbrella to protect us from pneumonia.

I think it was the excitement of purchasing a camper, eating a good meal with friends, drinking wine with friends, and that it was not that cold out which made it so much fun. The thunder and lightning didn't bother me a bit! I think if we hadn't had a loaf of fresh homemade rudbrød (SO YUMMY), a bag full of important papers, and the fancy camera we would have pulled a "Singing in the Rain."

Or at least I would have. I'm kind of a freak like that.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I love stupid news stories

The best way to make yourself embarrassed to be part of the human race is to read some of the "news" articles on MSN. Seriously people, is journalism dead? People pay you for this crap??

I point to: Can Your Flip Flops Kill You?

This goes to show that not only did this journalist get the short end of the stick during the morning meeting, but that there are scientists out there getting MY GRANT MONEY to research STUPID things.

I mean, the shocker of the article? There are GERMS on your flip-flops. AND FECES! Because we all know that regular shoes are germ free and have never stepped in dog poop.

And apparently the scientist is also a weirdo who likes to fondle his flip-flops... he says you touch them more often than regular shoes because you often need to adjust them. Uh, I don't know about you lot, but I don't readjust my slip-on sandals with my hands. They're SLIP ON. I slide my foot around until it's all working. Heck, if I get a rock in my sandal I just slip my foot out and use my toes to remove offending object. And yes, I do wash my feet before going to bed if I've been wearing open shoes. Feet get dusty and dirty in those things. It happens. The world is a dirty place. Not that he suggests this clever way of avoiding Certain Death. Certain Death being what you are facing because you just won't wear sneakers ALL THE TIME!! You Barefoot Freaks! Don't you know this is why the dinosaurs went extinct? Because they didn't invent CLOSED FOOTWEAR!!

I bet he has ugly feet and he's afraid of looking like a freak because he won't wear sandals. "Yeah, I can't show you my feet because if I wore flip flops I'd catch a weird disease and DIE, so that's why I'm wearing my combat boots in 100 F weather! And you should do it too before your feet fall off." Yeah.

(If you wonder what journalism is coming to these days, may I suggest http://probablybadnews.com/ as a cure from all your ills - or at least confirm your suspicions that we're headed for hell in a handbasket.)

The Danish language is trying to kill me and I am divorcing my head

Danish is trying to kill me. Yesterday I took part one of my test, the reading and writing bit, and came home emotionally and physically exhausted. There were hysterical tears and I'm well past PMS! Next week I have to do the speaking half and I expect to take to my bed in horror afterwards.

Language is NOT my thing. It just does not stick.

Take for example Tirsdag and Torsdag: Tuesday and Thursday in Danish. Tuesday comes before Thursday and I comes before O so it should be a simple matter of remembering which comes first. Added that I know Torsdag is named after Thor and from which we English speakers also derive Thursday. It even SOUNDS like Thursday for crying out loud.

And yet, every time I see Tirsday or Torsday I get them confused. I stand there and gape and say, what day is that?

Honestly, it's like I'm missing a link in my head.

It doesn't help that I don't really want to speak Danish. I didn't grow up thinking, "you know what would be great? Living in Denmark! Yeah! I want to learn a language that sounds like a throat disease that only 5.2 million people speak, but not to the extent that they can actually understand each other if they grew up in different regions! Cool beans, sign me up!" This lack of desire for Danish language may cause some to say, "ah, see, it is because you are so opposed to it that you are creating a mental block that keeps you from learning it, you horrible Danish hater you!"

What I say back to those people is unpublishable.

So I drag myself though Danish language classes. Pushing myself to learn the grammar rules, trying to pronounce the unpronounceable, and continually repeating to myself "this stupid language is NOT smarter than I am."

My husband, trying to be helpful, asked me why I was learning Danish. Because your stupid country told me to! I cried. But there is also:
- I hate being left out of conversations because I don't understand
- I will not (if we end up raising children here) have my children speaking in a language I don't understand
- I would like to tell people who piss me off exactly why they are pissing me off IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE (because they just don't take you seriously if you don't)

But I just don't think that learning a language should include making a person cry from frustration and misery. That just doesn't seem right.




In other news, I'm divorcing my head.

It's been quite a while now since we've gotten along. Last week my head tried to trick the rest of me into a sinus infection. Inflamed sinuses, aching head and face, neck pain, and a runny nose. I was not fooled however and I have continued to be fever free and my snot is still clear (gross? Yeah, but see it's the color of your snot that will tell you what you have, clear to white is allergies, yellow is a cold or the start of infection, green is VERY BAD). Now my head has decided to clog up my right ear. The pain is immense. Radiates down from my ear to my jaw and my teeth. Is it an ear infection? Probably not, I still have no fever and my ear is not red. It's my head again stuffing up the sinuses in some evil attempt to make me stay in bed and read (which my head likes to do) and not go out and about doing the things that need to get done (like photocopying a vastly overdue interlibrary loan book, which my head does NOT want to read) and enjoying the little sun there is.

My head is also refusing to learn any more Danish until I make more space in my memory and, sorry, but I still need that French and German, thank you very much.

I tried beating my head into submission by continually standing up quickly in the wrong half of my bedroom, where the ceiling slants down to a measly 2.5 feet of head space, but this only resulted in a loss of equilibrium that culminated in stubbed toes as I fought for balance. (Anyone seen the movie "The War of the Roses" because it's like that.)

At the moment we are not speaking to each other, except when I told my head I was out of here and it told me to get a good lawyer because I'd need one. If you could pass along a message to my head, since I am NOT speaking to it AT ALL, could you please tell it that I MIGHT be willing to do some couples therapy, but only if it would stop filling up my sinuses because I am sick and tired of going to the store for more tissue paper.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Festen

Er, not the movie, which I watched last night (in Danish with Danish subtitles, *ugh* but I only had to hit pause a few times to ask my Dane what all had happened/what was said, like the first speech, which must be understood in order to get what is going on for the rest of the movie and had vocabulary that we don't learn in Danish class, you know, words like, "sexual abuse" and "inappropriate fondling" and I must say that the thing that disturbed me the most about the movie, and the movie is SUPPOSED to be disturbing, so it's okay to be disturbed, was not the dark family secret that was revealed in the first five minutes but the fact that the guests CONTINUE THE BIRTHDAY PARTY as if NOTHING had happened! But the good thing about this movie is that you realize that yes, there are more Danes out there who get how f#cked up their culture can be and aren't afraid to point it out in a very disturbing way.)....

Er, yeah, so like I was saying before I interrupted myself. The birthday party I went to over the weekend ended up being quite bearable, once everything got going (or I had just enough to drink, I'm not really sure on that one). First of all, we were met with vodka mimosas at the door, so I had something to hold on to while I trotted behind my husband as we did the go-around-and-say-hello-introduce-yourself-to-everyone thing. This is a danish thing that I find very hard. I mean, what's with all the hand shaking? It means I have the embarrassing moment where I say "hej" and introduce myself to someone who is all "Dude, we met last year, I totally remember you!" and I'm all, "Oh, yeah, sorry about that, how's it going?" and then have to sidle up to husband later and be "um, that lady there in the green skirt - *panicked whisper* WHO THE HELL IS SHE AND HOW DOES SHE KNOW MY NAME!!??" This is why following behind my Dane has it's advantages, he'll introduce me as his wife to people we don't know and he'll chat with the people I am supposed to remember and thus saves me from embarrassment for a while.

There was a lot of the gentle racism inherent in Denmark, where people were incensed on my behalf that it takes so long for me to get a visa, seeing as I'm one of the good immigrants and I married a real Dane (they don't use quite those words, but there is plenty of discussion on how I ought to be given preferential treatment because of who I am and who I married without using the words "white" or "Christian" but we all know what we mean - I usually will try to say something that will point out that it's an unfair system for EVERYONE and that I don't think I should have preferential treatment, but sometimes it's just not worth discussing with someone who is obviously just making small talk with you until the next round of appetizers float by).

Seating was arranged but the dining was buffet, so you could get up and stretch your legs when needed and eating wasn't inturrupted by speeches. Those came after we had plenty of food in our bellies to absorb the wine. Still cannot understand people when they are giving speeches. Too fast, too many references to things that I probably ought to know, but don't, lots of jokes that I just can't get, oh well. Sat with folks who were great at chatting with me in English with a bit of odd Danish from time to time.

Later I got into a lovely discussion of religion, politics being something I steered away from so as not to get into trouble. But religion is okay. Especially when you discuss it with a Danish minister and so can do weighty subjects like Lutheranism vs. Episcopalianism and the place of religion in America vs. Denmark. Hey we were drunk, okay? And I am a nerd and a freak who knows too much about too many things that I never get to talk about with people who also know too much about the same esoteric subjects.

After the food and the toasts we got to dance. I love to dance. We danced from about midnight until 5 am. The midnight meal was served around 3 am, but because it was Danish hotdogs (hotdogs with remoulade, pickles, and dried onions) I couldn't stand anywhere near the table. That stuff smells AWFUL. I started gulping water at that point, realizing that I needed to start sobering up and in the hopes that it would keep me from vomiting. It worked on both accounts, but I still had to avoid the dining room at all costs. But I love dancing with Danes. We all suck. We dance like a bunch of idiots and it's OKAY because we all SUCK TOGETHER. And it's one of the few places where you can see men singing the words of Abba or the soundtrack to Grease outside of a gay bar. In fact, dancing with Danes reminds me a lot of when I used to go to gay bars in California. No inappropriate touching, no getting hit on, and lots of people dancing their hearts out.

Many thanks to Patti for texting me and I hope the drunk text I sent at 2 am or something did not wake you up. I was darned proud of myself for being able to type on the phone at all.

All in all, it was a good party, as far as Danish parties go.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pity party at the Archaeogoddess

I'm bloated, bleeding, suffering the fallout of yesterday's PMS, cramping, and suffering from the most horrendous headache.

This is not made any better by reading the news that Denmark sucks more than ever (Raid on Asylum Seekers Sparks Riot and Despite Protests Most Assholes Support Police). I got an email from the American Embassy, under no circumstances am I or other Americans to get ourselves arrested at a demonstration (best accomplished by not going to one... demonstration abstinence, heh). I missed the one last night (I didn't know one was going on until my Dane told me), which considering my mood, was probably a good thing. Today, I'm too worried that I'm going to explode, bleed to death, or collapse under waves of pain to go anywhere.

The ray of hope in my life is that while yesterday's Danish class SUCKED (I swear my teacher was speaking in tongues, not Danish) and I didn't understand AT ALL what was going on (I thought my homework had been UP TO lecture 21 not INCLUDING 21, drat), today we did reading comprehension which I ROCK at, hands down. Maybe I won't fail my module two test next week.

Provided that I survive the next few days.

Not only must I survive my monthly contribution to Tampax stockholders, but also the birthday party I am attending in Copenhagen. Anyone want me to drunk dial them? I can totally drunk dial you if you'd like. Only you have to live in Denmark because I can't dial foreign countries when I'm drunk. Too many numbers. How do people manage to send drunk text messages? I'd probably manage to write "You are so yuarpfhruing" SEND. (For those of you not in the know, Danish birthday parties for adults include speeches and songs and a LOT of toasting. I'm getting better at the not actually drinking the toasts, but I find clutching a glass of wine is much better than bunching up the tablecloth or fiddling with the knives when you get bored and/or stressed. You worry less people that way.) Gah if I have to sit through speeches and songs while cramping and aching, then someone really will get hurt.

Will someone please take my head and my uterus for a walk? They seem to be overly excited and could use some exercise while I have a lay down.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Conversation stoppers

When my younger brother was much younger than he is now, he had this really adorable habit of answering the phone, "Hello," and if it wasn't anyone he knew, setting the handset down on the counter and wandering away. I imagine this annoyed telemarketers and charities to no end.

I am always trying to be polite to these people, because we all need jobs and frankly, they are far better than car salesmen (apologies to readers who are, but the next time one of you slimy bastards oozes up to me and tries to sell me something with a sun roof when all I want is to know is the gas milage, I swear on a stack of Danish dictionaries someone is going to learn the definition of "smerte").

Anyway I had the following conversation yesterday:
Phone rings.
Archaeogoddess: "Hello?" (I never answer the phone with the proper Danish greeting, it just does NOT come out of my mouth until after "hello" and most of the time not even then.)
Danish woman: Garble garble garble garble garble....
AG: *interrupting* Oh, um, jeg kan taler lit dansk. ("Oh, um, I can speak little Danish.")
Danish woman: Oh. Kender du Fotex og Bilka? ("Do you know Fotex and Bilka?")
***Quick aside: Fotex and Bilka are Safeway and Walmart-ish stores***
AG: *slightly confused as to where this conversation is leading* Fotex and Bilka? (Interior monologue: crap, if she wants directions she's got another thing coming, I have NO idea where Bilka is other than NOT IN DOWNTOWN ÅRHUS.)
Danish woman: *switching to English in frustration* Did you get the advertisement (pronounced the British way: ad-VERT-is-ment) for Fotex and Bilka this week?
AG: (Interior monologue: why did you lose yours? Is there some sort of mysterious shortage of Fotex and Bilka flyers?) *still confused* I don't know.
Danish woman: *detectable note of rising frustration* You don't KNOW?
AG: *happily, because I am finally able to add something intelligent to the conversation* No, when I get ads I just throw them all away!
Danish woman: *quickly realizing this is a lost cause* Oh, never mind then, thank you! *hangs up*

My husband points out that we have a "no, thank you" on our mailbox so we don't get those ads. The ads I'm throwing away every week are those that come through the mail and are in the newspaper. Don't ask me how we can request that we don't receive ads and then still get ads anyway, I'm a stranger here myself. (And please don't explain to me why this happens in the comment section, this mystery of Danish commercialism is filed under "don't really care.")

Other conversations of note:

After a long day, following a previous night of restless and intermittent sleep, my husband and I, exhausted and quite out of our heads, retired to the bed. As one does, I put my head on his chest.
Danish Boy: Your head is really heavy.
AG: That's because it's full of smarts. *Moves head* You know, a head only weighs 8 pounds, the same as a baby. I'm just trying to toughen you up for when we have one.
***Quick aside: Before you all get excited - NO, I am NOT pregnant and NO we are not trying, so stop bouncing in your seat and waving your hands about excitedly.***
DB: Yes, but a baby is all spread out and not round like a ball.
AG: My head is not round like a ball.
DB: Okay, like a cheese then.

Normally, I do not mock my husband's accent and normally I do not correct his pronunciation as long as it is close enough to be understood. This is because 1) I think it's rude to correct pronunciation if it's just slightly off and 2) I really HATE it when people do it to me. However, it seems I need to work with him on a few small things, like the letter V.
DB: I had some nice people in the cab today.
AG: Oh?
DB: Two women and a little boy. The women were originally from Africa, but now one lives in New York, wore western dress and spoke English, and the other one spoke beautiful Danish and wore a whale.

***These conversations have been approved for posting by my husband, who is beginning to have dreams of me becoming a world famous blogger who will be able to support us both with my cunning wit and mad typing skills.***

Doing my bit

It's long, I'll admit. And it's depressing. It was written by concerned Danes, which goes to show that there are people here who decent human beings who will continue to fight for the rights of everyone and that the expats who point out the rising racism in Denmark are not a bunch of whining wankers.



Spread the word!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another reason for my husband to look at me askance

I found a random note in one of the travel guides my husband checked out of the library for our trip.

"Apologies for the delay, Kirsten, your email got a little lost in all the
others!!

Where to go:
Jacobite steam railway (Harry Potter)
Jacobite Cruises on Loch Ness (can book those from here)
Glen Coe
Culloden
Mallaig
And more places that you can shake a stick at.

If you are into geology and stuff like that then Natural Treasures in
Corpach near here is a good place to spend a little time
Mountain biking on the hills and trails
Quad bikes at Fersit
Ice Wall at Kinloch Leven

Hows that for starters?"

(I typed that verbatim, do not pester me with spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.)

These sorts of things mystify, bother, and entertain me all at once. Who wrote it? Why? What's the story? Did it all work out in the end?? Did Kirsten have a good time? Or she still wandering the mountains around Scotland? Did the writer really mean that Kirsten can shake a stick at these sights or is that a typo? I envision Kirsten, a little old woman with a cane, who loves Harry Potter, climbing the mountains around Glencoe so she can shake her stick at the sheep.

I can amuse myself for hours on end filling in the blanks and then because it's only fun if you can share these ideas, I babble at my husband, who would much rather find somewhere to live while he's in Holland for a semester abroad (he leaves in two weeks and may have to sleep in the car if he doesn't find something soon) than listen to me spin yarns about people I don't know and will never meet. (Note: normally he loves to listen to me yammer, but he's a little stressed, you know.)

Anyone else find these notes and wonder about who wrote them? I'm particularly fond of things written inside the covers of used books. Things like: "Dear Bitty, Thanks for all the peaches!" Who the heck is Bitty? Peaches?? Why would you write that in a book?

Then there was the death notice in the Ærø newspaper. Translated from Danish it reads:

"Our dear Annette has suddenly died."

That's it. No dates. Nothing. Some names of whoever placed the obit came after, but no last names and no relationships mentioned. For all I know, Annette was the beloved family fish!

Ah, it doesn't take much to entertain me, does it?


Sunday, August 09, 2009

The rest of the England trip... it's a rather long post

***Note: the layout of this post changes with the width of internet page or "window" you are using to view this post. I've tried, I've really tried to make it pretty, sane, orderly, and readable. I give up.***

So the Brits have this new idea, charge people VAST sums for internet access.

Blow that, I'd rather have a good meal.

So this post comes to you rather late and is a bit condensed for time and space.

Tuesday, July 28th
We got up early and made it to the Roman Museum in Canterbury where I spent some time yakking with the docent in charge of the children's activities. I got to make a Roman coin. It was a fabulous museum for children and childlike Archaeogoddesses because you get to touch EVERYTHING. There are clothes and shoes to try on and different wefts of fabric to feel and ceramics to play with and catapults to aim and fire. I am very interested in how museums present the past and ways in which they create a link between the general public and archaeology. Especially in regards to children. The various places we went were all very children friendly and had plenty of things for them to do that would interest them in the past. It was GLORIOUS! I think the museum in Canterbury was the best for kids, though. It was the most hands-on. Bath was a close second, but it was mainly for older people. But I get ahead of myself!

From Canterbury we headed over to Dover. Here we joined English Heritage, an organization that oversees numerous historical sites in England. They have special memberships for all kinds of people, including oversees nut-jobs who are only staying for a week. It gets you into places for free, you get a HUGE book about all the different sites they manage and you are contributing to maintaining historical sites. End of plug. :-)

This is what remains of the oldest Roman building in Britain, a lighthouse. It was built around 50 CE, after the Claudian invasion when Romans began traveling to and from England with greater frequency. There used to be two lighthouses on either side of the port, but only one survived. There was a massive castle also on the site, but it was closed for renovation. We also went to a small museum that held the remains of a Roman inn. The museum hadn't been updated since it opened in the 70's, at which time it was cutting edge in regards to children's activities and other stuff. The head archaeologist is still in charge of the museum and you can tell this is his site and his baby and no you are not going to take pictures if they can be used for personal gain.

From there we went on to Pevensey, to see the Roman fort within a ruined castle.Unfortunately, due to the traffic in Hastings (if only William the Conqueror had had this problem, Harold would have easily won the battle, having gotten to the battle site in Battle with PLENTY of time to spare) we got there just after it closed. It looked very lovely though. I again took some purple shots and, over the course of this vacation, discovered that sometimes my camera does this for no apparent reason. It does seem to happen when the battery begins to run low, but before the low battery light appears. Hm. ANYWAY.

We then went on to Brighton. Brighton is somewhere I'd like to see more of. Especially since Jamie Oliver has a restaurant there and we didn't discover it until AFTER we'd eaten. My husband, for whatever reason, ordered Spaghetti Bolognese. He knows he likes my bolognese best, so what was he thinking? Me, I had this duck in plum sauce over penne. *Kiss* Smashing! I have a duck breast in the freezer and I think I now know what I'm going to do with it! Walking about a bit in Brighton, we decided it was not entirely unlike San Francisco. Seaside town, tones of restaurants, happening gay scene (the parade was in a few days and the town was getting it's rainbow on, very festive, I'd have love to stayed to watch), and overall relaxed feeling.

Wednesday, July 29th
The next day we got on the road to check out the Downs. We climed Cissbury Ring, which is a ring fort now populated by cows with very large horns. The weather was gorgeous and the view was spectacular. It was the kind of place that makes one want to take up being a naturalist and sit in a field and count flowers.






We then went to
Chanctonbury. Um. Someone should have told me it was SO tall. And the walk was going to be s
o long. We didn't make it to the top. We went part of the way, and it was GORGEOUS. I mean, look at this tree!! It was also very slippery. We passed a woman who'd fallen and possibly broken her collarbone (don't worry, she was being attended by a paramedic). I actually slipped and fell myself, right next to the EMT, which, had I hurt myself, would have probably pissed him off, since he already had one injured person to remove. I carried a bit of the South Downs on my bottom for the rest of the day. Some of it is still in my coat.




We then hurried off to Bignor Roman villa, because we were now a bit late and damn it all, I was going to get to Fishbourne Palace if it killed me. Bignor is a very overlooked farm villa. Probably because you can only get to it if you have a car. Speaking of which, British roads, once you are off of the main highways, are all one lane. It gets very tricky when you meet a car going the other way, but all of the drivers were so nice about getting over or backing up (we also got over and backed up when needed) and there was much waving and smiling. We had to do this in Denmark last week as well, but there was far less smiling and waving. Cultural differences. (By the way, that photo is upside down, don't ask me why, it's complicated. It's also one of the few photos I have since the camera started acting up. It "fixed" itself by Fishbourne.)



Fishbourne was fantastic! It's HUGE! It also has a rather amusing children's section, where you learn to sort ceramics, find rim diameters and examine soil samples. Possibly not for every child, but great if you want to practice your ceramic sorting while on vacation. *grin* I also got ridiculously excited when I saw rabbits and used up the rest of my camera battery trying to get a good shot.We got to Salisbury just in time to NOT see the inside of the Cathedral.

Thursday, July 30th
We started the day with the fastest tour of the Salisbury Cathedral as one can. (Did you know that William Golding, who wrote "Lord of the Flies" lived in Salisbury? Neither did I, but then we saw the school where he taught. There was a helpful sign.) We saw the Magna Carta. My husband was really impressed once he realized what it was and got to read the translation. (Notable points in the MC: the beginning of what would become "Habeas Corpus," making unlawful imprisonment unlawful.) He was also impressed that I could read some of the original text. We then booked it up to Old Sarum, where we got a face-full of English weather. Thankfully it had mostly cleared by the time we got up to Stonehenge.






My god the crowds of people!!I have better pictures but I thought you should see the crowds. It also has the LONGEST free audio tour on the planet. It tells you wonderful things like "Stonehenge is made of stone." And "some people think ALIENS made Stonehenge." Thankfully, there are benches where you can set your butt down while you wait for the voice to say something interesting.




We were much happier tourists when we got to Avebury. Here my husband tries to avoid stepping in sheep droppings while taking a picture of one of the standing stones. As you can see, you can just walk up and touch them... the rocks. Maybe the sheep too, but they looked a bit... well... like they wouldn't put up with that kind of nonsense, let's just say. We also began stopping at other random Neolithic sites because the area around here was simply covered with them.





There was Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow and a crop circle....



Wait, whut? Crop circles aren't Neolithic!!


The mythology of crop circles was not known to my husband, obviously a part of his education that he's missed out on. I filled him in and he was amused and impressed. But not as much as I was. I've seen a real live CROP CIRCLE!! (No, I do not believe they are made by aliens, I've seen the documentary on one of the groups who have done them and I believe in highly organized groups of pranksters far more than aliens who come to earth just to leave patterns in the wheat fields.)

All in all, I think this was one of my favorite days because there were so many more things to see than I'd ever known were there. It's nice to be surprised while on a very well planned vacation.

Because of all the driving and climbing about, we didn't get to Bath until ridiculously late. But we did finally get to eat Indian food.

Friday July 31st
Took my husband to see the Roman Bath in Bath. See the obligatory Bath picture? We then drove to Chedworth Roman villa in the Cotswolds. We were running rather late because we needed to be in Cambridge at 6 and so some things got dropped. No Cirencester. No Cotswold rambling. My camera acted up once we left Bath and so there are no more pictures taken by me (but don't worry, I'll steal some off the internets). We only drove through two villages, neither of which were on the plan, but both were lovely. We decided that we will obviously come back here at some other date. We were ridiculously late to the barbeque, but thankfully there was beer and friends to make the evening fun.

Saturday, August 1st
Got to the wedding in time. It was lovely. The Anglican ceremony (meaning I had to explain to some of my Danish friends and husband that, yes, this is what a normal wedding looks like to me) took place in the 12th c. chapel at Jesus College. We were asked not to take photos during the service itself, but the bride was radiant and the groom very dashing. The bride was a Danish friend of ours (my husband met her WAY back when) and also a Byzantine scholar. Her new husband is Australian and also a Late Antique scholar and many of the guests were also Byzantine/Late Antique scholars so there was a lot of networking and discussing research, making it half wedding, half conference. Great fun for me!

Dinner and reception were held at Trinity College. First we had champagne in Neville's court, in the Wren Portico. Then we ate in the Great Hall (yes, that is a picture of Henry VIII on the wall) and drank and danced in the college bar until it closed at midnight. We then stumbled off to a dance club. I managed to keep my shoes on the entire time, but never did get to dance on a table.

Sunday August 2nd
We had a full English breakfast for brunch the next day with the wedding party and guests, but this still isn't the longest wedding I've ever been to. The wedding we went to two years ago in Israel was longer, there were more events and even tours of Israel arranged for the guests! I highly recommend being a guest at a destination wedding. They are great fun and you are more likely to get to talk to the bride and/or groom. However, planning one is a pain in the butt.

Speaking of our friends who threw the longest wedding, they now live in England and so we went and visited. They have a lovely house that they've done quite a bit of work on and it was delightful to visit and catch up. Funnily enough, of all the places we stayed while on this mad trip, they had the most comfortable bed in the quietest area and a really good shower. They're also great cooks and I got my cardamon fix for the month. Sigh, I really need to get out and buy a big bag of cardamon seeds, the ground stuff just does not cut it.

Monday August 3rd
Got up and breakfasted with our friends. Walked the town. Got in the car and waved goodbye (made a bit harder because I was frantically trying to change the GPS from "pedestrian" to "driving" before we ended up going the wrong way down a street) and drove to Stansted.

I have to say, I was not so impressed with RyanAir this time. Probably because we had real luggage. We could have fit everything in one suitcase, but because the weight limit was 15 kg per bag, we ended up taking TWO suitcases. Seems like a stupid rule. It should be a weight of 15 kg per person, not bag, so we could have used one 25 kg bag instead of two. I guess it made it easier to get the bags up stairs, but it would have been easier to have ONE bag because hotel rooms in England are TINY. Whatever. We very much enjoyed our car from Enterprise. It was a small car without much oomph, but easy to drive and the service was lovely. I forgot how friendly and chatty Brits can be.

All in all, it was a good trip. We had a lovely time and saw so much. There is plenty more to see, we'd really like to do some more walking in the countryside, and if my husband is REALLY nice to me I may plan another trip someday.