Saturday, December 10, 2011

California Awake

The visit home (the other home, you know, the one a person grows up in) was great.  The Spawn did fantastic on the flights, she took to her American family without a hitch and even came to love the dog.

The dog, meanwhile, discovered that children are not nearly so much fun as previously thought and that they follow you around the house!

The return trip was uneventful, but by-god jet-lag is worse when you have a baby and not enough time to reset your internal clocks before you go back to school or work!  The problem is that our "buffer" weekend got used to go pick up a car in northern Jutland, so the Spawn slept merrily in her car seat for the drive up and back.  Effectively keeping her on California time.  It's been a week and she's only now sleeping until 5:30 in the morning.

And she started day care this last week.  So we have no schedule as of yet, too many new things.  I'm completely exhausted.

But for now, pictures!

Main Street

The creek

From the other end of town.

My home town is smack dab in the middle of Gold Country.
Remnants of the Gold Rush are everywhere.

The Bunker Hill Mine dates from the 1850's.

There is something rather romantic about
old, crumbling mines.

Compared to old, crumbling homes, which I think are
rather tragic.

The Thanksgiving spread.

We retuned to a cold, damp, dark Denmark.  Our cat was thrilled to see us.  He'd learned to use the cat door while we were gone, so he now could go out and come back to make sure we hadn't left again 100 times and we didn't have to keep opening and closing the door.

And now it's suddenly Christmas time and we haven't decorated yet!  Or bought presents!  Or finished the laundry!  Holy cow!











Wednesday, November 23, 2011

At long last.... California

It's been 4 years, but we finally made it out to visit my family in California.  I've been taking some pictures, but as usual, I've forgotten to take even more.

I'll post them later, when I've uploaded them and stuff.

Meanwhile, it's a bit reverse culture shock - different baby products, different sleep systems, different weather...

The weather here is great.  'Cause, duh, it's California, man.  Mostly sunny, cool to (dare I say it?) crisp.  Not quite lighting-a-fire weather, but is hot-apple-cider-drinking-while-kicking-leaves weather.  Points to California.

But I think I'm a duvet-convert.  This sheet thing with blankets and quilts is so not working for us.  I keep getting tangled up and kicking the DB.  He keeps trying to throw off blankets only to pile them on me, so then I try to kick them back, and a-tangled we get.   Points to Denmark.  Also, I miss my huge bed.  How did I ever sleep in a queen size?

Baby food here is way grosser.  That came as a shock.  I expected it to be better.  I don't know why, maybe because there are more choices and more choices means better choices, yes/no?  But the baby cereals we bought?  Blah!  Like newspaper!  Alas, although the Spawn loves to eat newspaper, she wasn't buying it in mush form.  I really miss the rice cereal from Denmark.  Tastes like tapioca pudding without sugar.  Quite yummy.  Thankfully, she's taken to Saltine crackers and watermelon as well as bagels and sourdough bread.  So we have something to entertain us her while we eat.

Then there are two things about the US that make me all unhappy in the pants.
One - every foreigner needs to buy a visa before going to the US.  Every One.  These must be purchased BEFORE you get to the airport.  DUDE, WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?  Two years ago, said the flight attendant at check in.  TWO YEARS AGO??  OBVIOUSLY I DON'T FLY ENOUGH!!  WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE WARN ME?

Like Orbitz, when I bought the tickets.  Or American Airlines when I checked their web-pages for international travel with babies.  Or ANYONE!

We had to slink off to the special counter to buy the DB a visa, getting the whole "you should have done this days ago" speech and "this is how it's been for years [you idiots]."  But but but... I'm a savvy traveller!  I know how many ounces and grams of liquids I'm allowed (and yes, stupid woman in Heathrow, baby food is exempted in reasonable amounts so stop your 'pre-check' bitchyness and let me advance to security) (seriously, they hired someone to 'pre-check' you before you enter security - the least they could do is teach them the rules!  it was like listening to a dalek, only instead of saying "exterminate! exterminate!" it was "no liquids! no liquids!").  I know how to whip off my belt with one hand while taking my computer out of my bag with the other!  I have small travel bottles of everything I need in a tidy ziplock bag!  HOW CAN I NOT KNOW ABOUT A VISA???

Dammit, America!

Secondly - what the hell happened to the newspapers here!?  Your broadsheets are... not broad!  They're skinny! What is that all about?  I feel like some incredible hulk trying to hold the newspaper.  I keep opening it and ripping it in two because my arms stretch out to the normal width of a paper and the paper is just not that big.  It's bad enough that half of Denmark's newspapers are now tabloid format (which means I can't even begin to take them seriously, I keep thinking I'm going to turn a page and read "President Obama is a gigantic alien baby in a man suit! says former aid"), what the hell is this all about anyway?

Dammit, America!

There's only one solution to all this... more wine tasting!  Yaaaaaaay vineyards!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Three not-so-blind mice


When the harvest rolled around, we were warned to keep our doors closed.  Mice, fleeing the harvesters, would be all “Rats of NIHM” and take up residence inside.

Raise your hands if you had a crush on Justin.
*crickets*
Just me then?
Liars.
But the weather!  Oh, the weather was glorious!  Warm sun, cool soft breeze, and the smell of woodstoves, drying leaves, and freshly turned soil!  How can you keep the door closed!?

The harvesters came and went and we closed up the doors and only then, after things had settled down, did we first hear it.  The unmistakable sound of scratching from inside the walls.  Inside the brick walls.  Yeah, ponder that one for a moment.  So mice had somehow gotten inside the walls of the house.  Not inconceivable, this is an old house, there are bits under the eves that aren’t sealed and there are climbing vines that go up and over and there’s also the chimney, so even if we kept the doors closed, mice in the walls was probably inevitable.

But then came the rustling from the trash bag.

Now, we throw away a lot of plastic wrapping.  The newspaper comes every day in a plastic bag and when it’s crumpled, it has an unfortunate tendency to unbunch and make a spooky “animal-in-the-bin” rustling and it has been known to leap out of the trash and scare the bejezus out of me.

Yup, I’ve lost my bejezus all over the kitchen floor.   The floor I let my child lick.  How else is she going to build up a bejezus tolerance, I ask you?  They don’t put bejezus in the milk in Denmark.

Milk: Bejezus-free!
Then one day something dark scurried across the kitchen floor and up under the stove while I was sitting in the dining room, having lunch.  I didn’t want to tell the DB, also known as He Who Is Scared of Rodents, but I figured honesty was a better policy. 

Okay, okay, and because I knew he’d be all “OMG EEEEEEE!” and then I’d feel all manly inside.

But he was a champ.  He put on his big girl pants and decided to move the stove and look behind it.  I was against this, because moving a stove to look behind it will accomplish nothing other than maybe convincing the mouse to run across your feet and under something else, but the DB was adamant.  I think he was expecting to see a little mouse hole in the wall.

Silly DB.  I would NEVER paint my walls this color of pink!

Nope, no hole and no mouse.  We’ve since found mouse droppings in the bottom of the oven, so now we know where the mouse was hiding and how he felt about being shaken in the oven for half an hour.

Not the shake 'n bake I had in mind.
The DB was frustrated.  There was a mouse in his house and it was obviously mocking him!

Then one day, a rather excited husband calls me to the kitchen.  “There’s something in the garbage!  I think it’s the mouse!!”

I’m no idiot, so despite doubting his assertions, I am careful as I begin to remove trash from the bag.  Suddenly the bag rustled.  And then something moved.  Gently I pulled an orange juice box out and under it was a small, plump, brown, fuzzy body with black eyes looking up at me.  As mice go, it was really quite cute.

Quickly I closed up the bag and carried it outside and to the back of the property.  I laid the bag down on the ground and opened it.  A bit of prodding the bottom of the bag with a stick and a sudden streak of brown shot out of the top of the bag and bounded into the bushes.

I was proud of mah self.

I was even prouder when I did it again a day or two later.  This was a smaller brown body with black eyes, but he or she bounded away from the trash bag with the same enthusiasm of the first mouse.

So now we had a system.  And I’m sure if the third mouse had read the script, it would have worked.  But OH NO, he had to be difficult.  I opened the pantry door in our mudroom a few days ago and something leapt behind the beer bottles.  Something brown and furry.  Something with big black beady eyes.

Damn.

“Chase it outside,” the DB cried. And I tried.  But have you ever tried to chase a mouse outside?  When there are so many other things to run and hide under?  When outside is cold and there’s no food and inside is full of warmth and fruit peels?  Yeah, you’d be swimming in my coffee grounds to, you know you would.

I apologized to the DB.  Not ten minutes later I walked over to the changing table (also in mudroom) to straighten it up and something jumped into the box with the diapers.  Something brown and furry.  Something with big black beady eyes.

I leaned over and looked inside.  The smallest mouse yet looked back up at me.  I reached over the box, behind him.  I opened the window.  Never did I take my eyes off of his eyes.  I reached out and slowly tilted the box towards the open window.  I used one hand to hold the box and the other to hold the diapers.  A gentle shake and he spun about and leapt out the window, onto the sill and ran off.  It wasn’t the back end of the garden and he’s probably right now taking up residence in the garage, but he was out of the house.

Since then we’ve had no scratches from inside the walls.  Apart from the faint traces of mouse discovered in the drawer under the oven, there is no sign we had three mice living with us for a few weeks.

Certainly you’d never know if from looking at the cat.  Did he once look in the direction of the scratching?  Did he meow at the garbage?  Did he try to get into the pantry?  Nope.  About as useful as a tiger skin rug.  Except, unlike a rug, he tries to bite your toes if you rub him with your feet.

Should have named him “Useless.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

I love quizzes

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.
The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised
The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Not much of a post

Oi vey.

In the middle of the night I write brilliant posts in my head about the inequalities of the world, or assholes that need a swift kick in the taco, or silly things my child has done.

But as I sat here with an hour on my hands, a precious hour where the Spawn was being walked in her stroller by the DB, an hour where I had no laundry to fold, okay, maybe I had dishes to wash but screw them, and no pressing need to shower, I could sit down and write one of those blog posts.  I just couldn't bring myself to write a single one.
  • A post about how people need to stop asking the childless-by-choice people when they're going to have children and going on about how "I don't want kids" is somehow not a good enough reason or deemed selfish, god only knows why, and this leads to justification, which leads to those of us with kids to justify (if only to ourselves) why we decided to have kids, and there's frankly no good reason other than "I wanted to pass along my genes and my knowledge" but because this is also deemed selfish, what you get is two groups of people yelling "you selfish bitch" at each other and really, seriously WHO THE HELL CARES?  By God, if you don't want to have kids, you should be able to say, proudly, "I don't want to have kids" and people who can't accept that should be shot.  Because I'm sick of hearing from each side how much better they are than the other.  The only reason we find ourselves doing that is because of the assholes who keep demanding that people have some deep reasoning behind their procreative choices.  GAH!
Unless your parents turned in a well-constructed essay on why you deserve to exist, as well as a balanced budget, letters of recommendation from people who can testify to their abilities to parent, you shouldn't even BE here, you planet-cluttering sprog!
  • A post about how shocked I was to discover that while I am at the perfect BMI number, right between too skinny and too fat, I STILL don't fit into any clothes.  I know from my plus-sized friends that clothes don't fit big girls.  I know from being rail-thin that clothes aren't made for the skinny (no matter how much you may whine about "only models fit these clothes," I tell you, not the clothes on the rack, nosireebob). So now at the perfect size and shape, if I still don't fit into anything, I can only come to one conclusion - clothes were not made to be worn.  They are made only so that closets, chests of drawers, and wardrobes have a function.  It's a plot from Ikea to sell more flat-pack furniture.
Looks a lot more insidious now, doesn't it?
  • A post about how the Spawn continues to teach me about life, the universe and everything.  Including: Mommy can pick Mommy's nose.  Baby can pick Mommy's nose.  Nobody on this planet is going to pick Baby's nose!  Back off bitch!  I bite you!  NOM NOM!  
Trying to get the snot out of my child's nose is like reaching into a sink garbage disposal in a horror film.

    That's not soap bubbles!  It's Soap Slime from Space!!
    It kills you DEAD!  And leaves a nasty waxy coating on your wine glasses!
    AHHHHHHHHHH!
    • A post about how culture shock makes friendships hard because you're all moving through the stages at different times so one day you are all Honeymoon stage and hating on the haters and then the next day you are telling the newbies to take off the damn rosy glasses and then suddenly you are over it and focusing on the important things in life, like who ate the damn After Eights because *I* sure as hell didn't get any and people are telling you that you've drunk the kool-aid and you're all, take that back or I'll cut you and then you feel like you can't even tell people that you're happy because they get all nasty and tell you that you must not be paying attention or are deluded or are naive and you start thinking deep thoughts like "misery loves company, while happiness is a solitary pursuit" and think about changing your name and leaving no forwarding address.
    Or until you block me, whore
      • A post about teething and why did Mother Nature arm infants before they learn how to understand "NO" and "OUCH"?  Mother Nature is a total bitch.
      I did a Google image search for Mother Nature and the hippistaria overwhelmed me.
      I feel like I'm having LSD flashbacks and I've never even DONE LSD, so how sucky is that?
        In the end, I just couldn't be bothered to write those posts, or finish those posts.  Maybe in part because I know that some people might read one of those posts and get offended or hurt or pissed off, even though I'm not writing about a specific person or event although I am inspired by a collection of people, events and no small part by some rather violent mommy-forums that I am SO not going to read any more.  (Childless-by-choice friends - if you ever feel like the Mommies of the world are judging you, don't worry, they are saving their major judgements for the Other Mothers.  Google "cry it out.")  Maybe I'm too distracted because I've gotten a damn head cold, which I am sharing with the Spawn.  She gets the runny nose, I get the stuffy head.  Maybe it's because just one hour to be brilliant and focused is just too much pressure.

        So instead I opted for this post which isn't much of a post but a series of post-lets.  Which took me all damn day to write anyway.
        I was going to say "post-it" but that term has already been taken.
        Apparently.

        Monday, October 10, 2011

        Damn You Danish!!

        I have a really hard time with certain sounds.  Vowel sounds, especially.

        Danish is all about the vowels.  Silent consonants they have aplenty, but not so many silent vowels.  In fact, half the time Danish just sounds like a string of vowel sounds interspersed with sharp intakes of breath.  It's the perfect inverse of Polish.

        Not that I know much Polish, apart from some choice swears and random animals, and I couldn't spell it to save my life... but... still...

        Where was I going with this?

        Right, so, there are a few Danish vowels that sound exactly the same to me.  Å, O, and Ø.

        Danes will immediately tell you, no, they sound completely different.  They sound like å, o, and ø - DUH!

        I spend a lot of time apologizing and saying "I just can't hear the difference!" and the Dane keeps saying "å - o - ø" again and again and all I hear is "o - o - o" and really, I JUST DON'T HEAR IT!  If the person over pronounces, THEN I can hear it, but since most Danes don't pause and over-pronounce the vowels in words, I'm often confused, or worse.

        Confused because:
        tog - train(s)
        tåge - fog

        Should someone tell me about one in the road, perhaps it would be a good idea if I know which one I should be looking out for.  Presumably I would see the train... but what if it was lost in the fog??

        Worse because:
        hore - whore
        hår - hair
        høre - to hear

        Sometimes I tell people I cut my whores.

        Sometimes a conversation with me goes:
        Them: Did you hear what I said?
        AG: I whore.
        Them: Over-share much?

        *face/palm*

        Saturday, October 08, 2011

        He doesn't know the half of it

        The other day the DB and I had... a discussion.

        In the course of this... discussion... I explained that I tend to get irritated quickly but then I get over it whereas he tends to become annoyed by something slowly and then he obsesses about it.  And that this irritates me.

        He panicked.

        Another irritating trait of his.

        He was worried that I was voicing some deep-seated problem that would fester in our relationship and, if left unsolved, would somehow destroy the very fabric of our marriage.  More worrisome, by far, was that I stated that I didn't see this problem as being solvable.  Because that would be the end of our marriage.  OH MY GOD I WANTED A DIVORCE!!

        Okay, maybe he didn't get that far in his reasoning, but there was definitely panic and "what do you mean you don't think it can be solved???" Because in his world, when there are problems in a marriage you solve them and being irritated with one's spouse is obviously a problem.

        Immediately I wanted to hit him over the head with a cast-iron skillet.

        Then I got over it.

        'Cause I'm calm and collected, y'all.

        I explained that we're different and that being different does not mean I'm going to divorce his ass.  I mean, he eats bananas - BANANAS - and I had a baby with him.  I just ask him not to kiss me after eating a banana.  SO GROSS!  Slimy and *gak* I think I just threw up a little in my mouth!  Bananas!  Did I demand he give them up?  Nope.  Did I say, "bring another banana in this house and I'll see you dine in Hell?" No.  Did I dramatically fling the bananas from the house and ask for compensation for my mental health? No I did not, but I totally should.  Ugh.  SLIMY!!  Bananas!

        And he calmed down.

        But the whole conversation left me with this surreal feeling.  Like, seriously, did he think that it was a problem every time I was irritated with him?  Did he really think that if we didn't discuss it or figure out how one of us could change to be less irritating our marriage would fail?  Because, honestly, I want to hit him with a cast-iron skillet at least once a DAY.

        And he wants to have a discussion every time?  Oh hells noes!  I really will take a skillet to his skull should he try that shit.

        Just now he took the Spawn off my hands for a bit, so I could have a break.  He then asked "okay, so what's the plan?"  Plan?  Uh, you take the Spawn for a bit and I sit here and have a break, that's the mofo plan!  I don't care what you do with her, but I am doing SOMETHING ELSE.  I'm still not sure what he wanted.  I folded the clothes.  I'll do dishes with him in a bit.  I'll get on the sorting of the bathroom boxes at some point, just not right now.  Right now I am having me a Spawn-free moment.  Go away before I hit you over the head with this skillet!

        But him asking about The Plan is only a little bit irritating.  Having a half-hour long discussion on why I'm irritated would be VERY IRRITATING!  By the time that I'm done writing this post, I'm going to be over it, so what is the point?

        The point, he would say, is so that this situation doesn't happen again.

        Right.  Okay.  Never talk to me again!  Then you can't possibly say something that might irritate me!  Except I'll probably be irritated by your silence!  Or the way you stand!  Or your breathing!!

        DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?  YOU CAN'T WIN!  I WILL ALWAYS BE IRRITATED!!  I'M IRRITABLE!  IT'S PART OF MY CHARM!!!

        Saturday, October 01, 2011

        Finger Pies

        At 6 months old, the Spawn has passed many well-known milestones.  In no particular order: she rolls over, crawls, stands with help, smiles and makes eye contact. Recently she began using her fingers to pinch, poke, and prod things.

        Okay, poking things isn't on the list like "first smile" or "first step" but it's important.  Right next to bipedalism and lack of cranial ridges, manual dexterity (that amazing opposable thumb) is what separates us from the rest of the apes.  So when she adeptly pinched my nipple between her thumb and index finger, I cried out with pain joy.  

        Well, at least there were tears.

        She's learned that not only can she experience things by putting them in her mouth, she can also touch and feel them with her fingers.  Usually right before or right after she puts the object in her mouth.  This poking and scratching is how she knows something is real.

        But I really wish she'd take things on faith.  Like my aforementioned nipples.  There is no reason to stop mid-nurse to pull back and have a good pinch and prod at my nipples.  That hurts, dammit.  Trust me, kid, the nipples are there, the milk is flowing, you do not need to stop and investigate the process.

        She's also discovered that she can poke her finger in my belly button.  This, judging by her laughter, is great fun.  I'm pretty sure I've got to get better at cutting her fingernails.

        For a while there, she'd nurse with her hand in her mouth - which, if you've ever tried to drink a milkshake while sucking on your fingers, you'll know is almost impossible and when successful, extraordinarily messy.  Now she puts her fingers in my mouth, because maybe I want something to suck on too.

        Being more dexterous has not led to more intelligent use of the fingers, however.  Does she pick her own nose?  Nope, I'm still doing that for her.  Which is probably why she then picks my nose.

        You know the saying, "you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose"?  Apparently there is an addendum, "you can't pick your mom, but you can pick your mom's nose."

        At some point we'll have to clarify who's nose she should be picking.  And that it's very bad form to pick your mom's nose and then try to stuff that hand into your mom's mouth.  Because I gave up buggers for Lent.

        In 1983.

        She's also started on "grown up" food.  If grown ups eat spelt porridge and pureed apples.  Does any one else remember baby food being mashed peas OR mashed potatoes OR mashed carrots?  Because last night my child sat down to pureed corn, potatoes, and turkey.  It was a full-on three-course meal inna jar!!

        Of course she's gotta help me while she eats it.  She grabs the spoon and helps me bring it to her mouth.  I try my best to keep it upright, because she hasn't quite understood the effect gravity has on semi-solids.  She also has to touch the food.  To feel it and then scoop it off the spoon into her mouth.  Which she then shoves her fingers into.  And tries to swallow.

        Try this sometime with mashed potatoes.  Preferably when no one is around and assuredly NEVER in a restaurant on a date.  Trust me, bad plan.  Try to see how far you can shoot your spuds.

        And if they land on the table in front of you, go on, give 'em a good slap or two, to speed them on their way.

        Oh well, as a wise woman said to me the other day, "you can have a clean baby or a happy baby."

        That said, my child is a furiously happy baby!

        Thursday, September 29, 2011

        In which we end up with too many Volvos

        Or maybe you can't have too many Volvos.... I'm not really sure.

        So the story began waaaay back in December of last year.  When the DB wrecked my beloved silver Volvo.  I say beloved, because it had automatic gear (yeah I can drive manual, but What A Faff, I'd like a free hand to hold my coffee thankyouverymuch) and a sun roof that you winched open with a crank.  A CRANK!  How awesome is that???  It was practically steampunk!

        And I had visions of driving our child(ren) places in it.  And our dog.  'Cause we'd have a dog, in this magic future with a silver Volvo in it.  We even drove it off road, once, because some silly fool had forgotten to connect the road we were on with the road we WANTED to be on... so we drove through an empty field on what looked like a dirt bike course.
        Don't try this at home.  Your Volvo might not be so awesome as my Volvo.
        This is the car that once stopped a Mercedes from rolling to certain death.  It pulled a camper from Holland to Denmark through a blizzard... in summer tires.

        And the DB smashed it against a tree.  Okay... several trees.

        He's only recently admitted that maybe he was going a little too fast for the conditions.

        But one should also remember that the road is banked the wrong way.  And there might have been something wrong with the car... or the tires.  Definitely something wrong with the tires.  Because you should totally be able to continue to drive the posted speed limit in icy conditions, right?  Just because there is ice and snow all over the place doesn't mean you have to SLOW DOWN!  Pfffft to that!!  It was totally the CAR'S FAULT!

        So with the loss of my beloved silver Volvo, we needed another one quickly.  The DB found us one and we went and got it.  It was rust held together with dust, but it had a turbo supercharged engine and the DB was in love.

        I was glad I had my tetanus shots up to date.  It was a serious amount of rust.

        After the mechanic assured us that the car will not pass inspection again unless we do something to keep the car from falling apart, the DB agreed that we needed to get another car.  He began to search.  But nothing desirable was appearing in our price range.

        We agreed that we would wait a while, it was still months and months away from the next inspection, so really there was no hurry.

        And still, every night, he stayed up late and "just checked" the on-line car ads.  We went to "just look" at a few cars.  I pointed out once or twice that we had decided that we'd wait to buy another car.  He pointed out that we were "just looking, just in case."

        Of course he found one he wanted.  We went and drove it and it was lovely and good and had a radio, but no special extra-charged engine.  I was glad because it meant we might finally be able to drive a car that got a better gas milage (note: it only gets a better gas milage when *I* drive it, go figure).  And it might mean that he'd stop looking at cars and we could stop driving all over Denmark to test drive random Volvos.  And it was red.  The DB was a bit put out.  He wanted black.  "Beggars can't be choosers," I said.  "And it matches my mixer.  I think I'll go for rides with my mixer.  Just to show people how matchy-matchy I am."

        He totally didn't get it.  But what does he know?  He wears black socks with his sandals.

        Right, so all that was left was to sell our pile of rust.

        And then the craziest thing happened.

        A guy saw our ad and wanted to buy our car.  But instead of buy our car with cash, he wanted to trade: his Volvo sedan, a newer model with newer parts, for our massive, gas-guzzling, lockjaw-inducing station wagon.

        Obviously he was insane.  Or would laugh hysterically at us when he saw the thing in real life.

        But he didn't.  He was a Volvo enthusiast who liked to fix up and pimp out Volvos.  He'd run out of things to play with on his sedan and his growing family needed a station wagon.  (Seriously, baby prams in this country are the size of small tanks and about as maneuverable.) And he loved our rusty heap.  So we traded.

        Suddenly we had two cars.  In Denmark, that's INSANE.  Thankfully we live out in the middle of nowhere, so people are a bit more forgiving of our obvious lack of priorities.  But most still ask us, "oh, so which one are you selling?" and seem a bit confused when we say, "no, we're not selling either of them at this time."

        Could we get by with one car?  Probably.  But since I'm NOT giving up my station wagon (red! radio! power locks!) and the DB prefers the sedan (Burgundy red, lacks radio but has pimped engine), I don't see how we'd ever agree which one to sell.

        And that's how we ended up with two Volvos.

        Friday, September 16, 2011

        Less Time Than Ever

        I thought that having the Danish Boy home on paternity leave would mean I'd finally have time to do stuff. You know, write more blog posts, unpack boxes, sort through my clothes and get rid of all the stuff that doesn't fit, go through the Spawn's clothes and pack away the stuff that's too small.

        And what happened?

        I have less time.

        It's the projects he's got.  Like chopping wood and mowing the lawn.  There was moving all the boxes out of the garage into the house because the garage floods.  There's picking up all the fruit that's fallen off the apple and pear trees.  There's the endless agonizing over the cars.

        Yes, cars.  I owe you a post about how we accidently ended up with two cars.  But we have two and one is "making weird noises" and "there's a weird smell" and he's convinced that we somehow got screwed even though I think we got a good deal and hey, at 11 years old, a few dents and odd noises are expected and I smell nothing.  It runs.  It runs great, as a matter of fact.  And it has a baby-soothing radio.  And you do not need to be current on your tetanus shot to be eligible for a ride in it.

        Anyway, what with all this going on, I'm still doing the vast majority of baby watching and not getting the stuff I wanted to get done, done.  I now need to come up with a dinner plan and go shopping.  This I could have done earlier today, but I didn't realize that he was only going to start mowing the lawn at 4:30 in the afternoon.

        Do I sound a little bitter?  I am.  I had visions of productivity.  Visions, that with me going back to Danish next week, are going up in flames.  Yeah, I've had a shower every day this week and today I got to sleep in, but I've got no clean clothes and the dishes are still piling up.

        Someday, right? Someday we'll catch up with life?

        Saturday, September 03, 2011

        Beaten up by a six month old

        Okay, I confess, she's still 10 days short of 6 months... and she just kicked my ass.

        I made the mistake of getting down on the play mat with her.  I forgot that down there, I no longer have the advantage.  My power rests in the fact that I can stand on two legs and that frees my arms to do other things.  Down there, on the floor, in my make-shift playpen (having three couches is the most brilliant idea the DB has ever had, all I needed to do was add a wall and TADA playpen) her inability to stand without support is not much of a handicap.

        It began when she crawled over to me.  I rolled onto my back, at least freeing my hands to try to defend myself, but babies... they're slippery.

        She grabbed my hair with one hand, close to the roots, and pulled back, pinning my head to the floor.  Then, with the other hand, she stuck her fingers UP MY NOSE and PULLED.  When I tried to remove her hand, she dug in with her nails and put an elbow in my eye.  Tears clouded my vision, but nothing softened my hearing as furious laughter erupted from my tiny conqueror.

        Releasing my hair, she planted that hand in my remaining eye and relinquished my nose, only to clamp her sharp nails on my lips, pinning them together.  I inhaled sweet air, wincing as it burned where her nails had left paper-cut-thin wounds, only to lose even that precious pleasure as she brought her mouth down directly over my nose and stuck her probing tongue up one of my tender nostrils.

        Drool flooded my nose and I was now unable to breathe, my lips held by steel-tipped pinchers, and I began to wonder if the police would believe that my 13 lbs (6.5 kg) child could have killed me.  Or if they'd charge my husband with my death, hauling the DB off to jail and leaving the Spawn to continue to kill unabated.

        Suddenly she let loose my lips as she reached over my body to grasp my shirt at the shoulder.  As I took a deep breath, she lifted her head, apparently finished exploring my nose and grinned down at me.  Clearly, she was enjoying my plight.  I began to explain, patiently, that this was a bit rough for me and we hadn't really confirmed any "safe words" so I was becoming a bit alarmed, when she lunged abruptly, thrusting her knee into my tender breast.  My nipple may be well-worn leather by now, but the mammary glands are still remarkably delicate.

        With that, all the air rushed back out of my body in a sudden "oh shiiiiiiiiiit" and she delivered the coup d'état - she simply took her fist out of my eye and dropped the weight of her body on my neck.  It was a perfect WWE maneuver.  I may have deleted all of the sports channels from our cable, but somehow she's learned how to body check.

        "Garrrrrgh" was all I managed.

        "Honey, do you need help?" asked the DB from downstairs, happily ignorant of the carnage above.

        "Mmrph" I replied.

        "Baby, don't kill Mommy" he called up the stairs as he headed back out to the garage.  Plausible deniability was now his.

        After he was safely outside, she lifted herself up and crowed with victory.  Saliva ran down her chin and pooled on my chest.  Her eyes were bright and her grin toothless.  With a laugh that was only just this side of sane, she leaned down and gummed my chin.  It was the wettest kiss I've ever had.

        And that was it.  I was defeated.

        Monday, August 29, 2011

        On Privacy


        Or maybe this post should be called “On Hypocrisy” because I just asked someone on FaceSmack to take a picture of Spawn and me off this person's wall.  The very picture I’ve shared here on the Whorled Web.  (What do you mean it’s “world”?  Have you seen this place?)  So why did it bother me so much that this picture was shared with random strangers when I’ve already shared it with random strangers?

        (‘Cause you all are random and more than a few of you are really strange.  I love you, but you are.  Own it, weirdos!)

        I mean, let’s face it; there is no such thing as privacy.  Not real privacy, not any more.  If you’ve ever gone on-line (and if you are reading this and just said “ha, not me” then you are not only random and strange, you are also possibly delusional and they have a cream for that), then you know how this can be so.  But the thing is, there never really was such a thing as “real” privacy.  There is only “perceived” privacy and that’s socially constructed.  

        We all live in houses/apartments/yadda yadda yadda that have windows.  Pretty much anyone can look in them, using one way or another, but for the most part, we don’t.  Oh, we glance, we peer when we think no one is looking, but stand and stare right at the people as they eat dinner?  No, not really.  And if you do, those people can call the cops and call it “invasion of privacy.”  That’s because what is in the house is considered private. 

        But a nice garden, now that’s not so private.  Everyone can stop and look and sniff the flowers, as long as you don’t go wandering around, and you should probably ask before you take cuttings, but as long as you keep it to the roses that hang out over the sidewalk, I’m not going to really get upset about it. 

        Walking down the street is not private at all and you can not only stare, you can make comments about my appearance and really I can’t do much about it.  Other than give you the stink eye.  Which I will.  Big ol’ stink eye!

        But really, all of these levels of privacy are social constructs.  We decided as a society that the street is public and what goes on there is protected by laws that we invented.  Hyenas, for example, have no first amendment.  We then decided how much privacy front gardens deserved and made laws that protect what we as a society had decided were appropriate.  We then invented privacy for the home, because until relatively recently, homes were shared by many and the idea of “what goes on in the home is private” would have seemed very odd to our ancestors who shared hearths.  Hell, go to other countries and you’ll see completely different interpretations of privacy.

        What does this all mean?  It means that while the internet is the street and anything goes, my blog is my garden.  You are welcome to stop and smell the flowers and I really can’t expect you not to take some cuttings now and again, so I make sure that what I put out there is, hopefully, worthwhile.  I don’t use real names and I choose what images I post carefully.  The CrackBook, on the other hand is my home.   In order to get access, you have to ask permission to enter.   Generally that suggests, to sane and rational people, that some people might, just might, consider that space to be private. 

        I prefer to keep the two separate - I don’t link my accounts to each other.  Many of you have permission to enter both Rhymes-with-MaceHook and here, and I’d probably invite all of you into my “home” (although not in real life because it’s a total disaster at the moment, pardon my dust bunnies), I just like to keep my worlds separate, you know?  And 99.99% of you totally respect that, even if you don’t agree entirely with my reasoning or where I draw the line in public and private.  But when someone in my metaphorical home snatches the metaphorical bouquet of flowers from my garden off my metaphorical dinning table and sticks ‘em, with a big name tag, on a metaphorical table in a metaphorical convention center, I get a little miffed.

        “Oh but I only wanted to share it with family,” I can hear the excuse now.

        This is why the good Lord invented email.  And attachments.  And why not tell the family member to friend me, for christ’s sakes?  Or hey, ASK ME if you can share the photo.  I probably would have said okay.  I mean, really, I’ve shared that photo with the multi-verse, so I’m certainly not ashamed of it… it’s just, well, it’s mine.  To share.  As I see fit.

        So I don’t feel too hypocritical asking for this photo to be removed.  Taking something without permission from my home is stealing.  Even if it’s a cup of sugar that I totally would have given you if you had just ASKED!

        Boundaries, dude, we haz them.

        Friday, August 26, 2011

        Ranting and Raving: On car seats


        Very important note: I live in Denmark where car prices are at least 180% higher because of taxes.  A basic brand new Volvo station wagon, the epitome of safety, costs $30,000 in the US and $97,000 in Denmark. A more modest Ford Focus costs $17,300 in the US and $48,720 in DK.   When I say we can’t afford a new car, I’m not bitching about a “mere” $10,000 investment.  Car seats are also far more expensive, starting at $233 for just the seat.

        I tell you it’s a conspiracy.  A conspiracy between car companies and baby car seat manufacturers.

        It goes like this: you have to buy a brand spanking new car seat for your baby.  Why?  Because of SAFETY.  Old seats don’t have 5-point harnesses.  The plastic of an old seat may be compromised.  It may not hold up in an accident!  It may have been in an accident, rendering it NO GOOD.  An old car seat is worse than… than… NAZIS!  You wouldn’t put your precious bundle in the arms of HITLER would you?  I didn’t THINK so.

        So you gotta buy a new car seat.

        Only, here’s the funny bit - new car seats are designed to only go into new cars.  Doubt me?  Try sticking a new car seat into a 1998 Volvo station wagon, following the directions printed on the side of said seat.  It doesn’t fit.  You were SUPPOSED to be using an Isofix base, which cost an extra $233 (‘cause they’re sold separately in Denmark doncha know), but since you have an older car that doesn’t HAVE Isofix capabilities you are stuck trying to follow the alternative directions for LOSERS who don’t have new cars.  Obviously, with the introduction of Isofix, car seat designers have decided to punish those of us who dare drive old cars because these instructions just don’t work. 

        I mean you CAN buckle the seat into your car… as long as you don’t actually PLAN on putting the baby in it.  

        The seat belt wraps around, over and under the seat.  If your child is already in the chair, she’s going to be tilted and jostled while you wrestle with the belt.  If you plan on putting the child in after you fit the chair in, you will need to bend and twist the baby like a balloon artist to get her in.  Alas, having gotten the baby and the seat in, you discover that she’s tilted in a way that forces her to either sit straight up or slump over at the waist.  Your child will have an uncomfortable ride with her head planted between her feet.

        HOW IS THIS SAFE???

        You can ignore the directions and find an alternative way of strapping the seat in…

        BUT IS IT SAFE???

        Well, if you are really worried about it, just buy a new car!

        Bwahahahah!

        And it doesn’t end when your child gets bigger.  Oh no.  A child needs to be in a car seat until age - get this - “at least age 8... preferably 12." http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/carseat2011.htm

        This means that your child will finally be able to sit in the front seat a mere four years before you hand him or her the keys and say “go get mamma a box of bon bons.”

        But how can you argue with SAFETY? What kind of parent doesn’t want to make sure their child is safe??  Who wouldn’t expend every effort, no matter what cost, to protect their baby???  If you can’t afford to buy a new car seat every year for 12 years and a new car every 3 years well then, you shouldn’t have had a child! This isn’t the latest fashions from Baby Gap or the latest toys from Lamaze - THIS IS THE WELL-BEING OF YOUR BUNDLE OF JOY!!

        Statistics back up the car and car-seat makers - putting your child in an approved and properly installed car seat has DRASTICALLY lowered the number of deaths and injuries in car accidents.

        Of course, the best way to lower the numbers even more is to never put your child in a car.  Abstinence, so I hear, is the only way to be 100% safe.  In fact, we should just get rid of cars all together.  And then we can ride about on bikes or, better yet, WALK.  (Because have you seen the seats for children on the backs of bikes?  UNSAFE!!)  I mean, seriously, a car seat until 12?!  Why don’t we just roll them in bubble wrap and unwrap them for their weddings?  We can explain the facts of life as we march them up the aisle.  Or they can just figure it out on their own.  God forbid we tell our children about such things, it may scar them for life.  They’ll have to see a therapist! 

        Do you think I’m going over the top here?  That I’m exaggerating the pressure on parents from the AAP and other safety agencies?  I’m soooooo not.  Go here: http://www.safekids.org/ Have fun!  Or don’t, cause it could lead to injury and NO ONE should EVER be INJURED.  EVER.

        Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not advocating letting my child play with marbles and paring knives.  Nor am I going to just chuck her in the back seat and tell her, “hang on kiddo, mommy has a ferry boat to catch!”  I’m just saying that in its exuberance to make sure every child reaches 14 without a scratch (after which it’s open season on teens), society has sacrificed reason and feasibility.  It places an unobtainable burden on parents below a certain tax bracket, guaranteeing they are labeled “bad parent” before they’ve even had a chance to teach their kid to open beer bottles with their pacifiers. 

        Now I’m pretty much okay being told I’m a bad parent because I am not sending my child to day care until she’s older, because I read “The Three Little Bears” to her instead of “Much Ado About Nothing” and because we dance to Lady Gaga rather than Mozart.  Those are my choices on how to raise my child.  But I am NOT okay with being told that I’m a bad parent because I can’t afford to keep my child safe. I want more than anything to keep my child safe.  That my ability to do so is limited by my income PISSES ME OFF.   Particularly since car companies and especially car seat designers seem to have decided to ignore the vast majority of the population that drives old, used cars and *GASP* had the audacity to breed.  Children are NOT a privilege restricted to the wealthy.

        So, car companies and car seat manufacturers, get your butts back into your engineering chairs and figure out a way that us normal folks can keep our children safe in our older, but still fully functioning vehicles!  

        Wednesday, August 24, 2011

        Quiz!

        You are Red/Blue!
        You are Red/Blue!
        Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
        Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
        You are both rational and emotional. You value creation and discovery, and feel strongly about what I create. At best, you're innovative and intuitive. At worst, you're scattered and unpredictable.

        Friday, August 19, 2011

        A Walk in the Park

        Yesterday I had a fussy baby.  I still have a fussy baby.  Turns out she has a little cold, but that's not the point.  Yesterday I didn't know she was coming down with a cold - all I knew is that she Would Not Nap.

        When feeding, changing, and walking to and fro no longer work, there is only one solution: a long walk.

        Unable to wait for the DB to come home and take the Spawn for her long walk, it was going to be up to me.

        Fine.

        I can do this.

        I got the baby and pram to the doctor's appointment off the island on Monday and that involved showering, breakfast, a bus ride, a ferry ride, lunch (energy bars, worth their weight in gold I tell you), appointment, another ferry boat and another bus.  I can totally take the baby for a spin around the block wheat fields.

        Only I haven't showered in a few days (okay, since Monday) and my hair is now standing up in weird ways that no amount of hair wax will contain.

        That's fine, I'll wear a hat.

        Can't find my hat.  Any of my hats.  Not even a knit cap.

        Okay, a bandana!

        Nope, no bandanas to be found.  Nor head scarfs.  What the hell, man?!

        Okay, so I remember that when I was out in the garage, frantically helping the DB move cardboard boxes off the floor during the Great Flood of Last Sunday, I spied my dig box (the plastic box that contains all my dig gear) and it was totally getatable (new word, Oxford, take note!).  In there should be hats, bandanas, AND head scarfs.

        Baby goes into the pram, protesting wildly, and I run into the garage.  I tear open the box and... okay, I see dig stuff... but not ALL the dig stuff.  That must be in another box.  When did I get an extra dig box?  Oh, wait, 5 months in Qatar.  Qatar needed a totally new dig wardrobe of long pants, loose t-shirts, and some winter gear.  I stored it separately from my dear-god-what-lunatic-digs-in-the-Jordan-Valley-in-June-ME-that's-who wardrobe of short shorts, tight tank-tops, and teeny bikinis.  I'd raided the Qatar box earlier for my post-pregnant tubbiness and replaced the shirts with some clothes that I'll probably never be able to get over my ass ever again... but NO HEAD COVERINGS.

        Frantic screams from the garden.  Frantic pawing at the clothing.  Frantic scrabbling from a tower of boxes behind me.

        It's the cat, who LEAPS from his perch like a drunk bird of prey, lands on a precarious pile of odds and ends rescued from the Great Flood of Last Sunday, which promptly topples over, and vanishes in a puff of fur and indignation.

        I triumphantly raise my fist - I have found a head scarf!  I now need to run out the back door of the garage, around the garage, and open the garage door in the front to see if the cat needs rescuing.  The frantic cries from the garden continue, unabated.  Note to self: cry it out - not gonna work.

        I open the garage door and bits and pieces of several baby cribs slither out.  The cat is sitting to one side, calmly cleaning himself.  Nothing to see here.  Move along, move along.  I prop up what I can, mindful that another good rain could result in another Great Flood and partially close the door.  Note to self: tell the DB so he can check the pile later.  (I totally forgot to do this, but the DB noticed it himself.)

        Run back to the garden, tie scarf over head.  Note to self: damn girl, it's a good thing you learned to do this on no sleep and in a cloud of mosquitos, way to prepare for life with kids!

        Grab the baby pram and start shoving it through the grass towards the road.

        Screaming baby.

        Screaming baby has sun in her eyes.

        Damn it!  Drag the pram back into the yard and run into the house to find the parasol I'd discovered in the Great Flood and had set in the house to dry.  Unable to find the parasol, I grab some clothespins and run back outside to fashion something out of a burp rag.

        I'm very pleased with my MacGyver skills.  The Spawn, not so much.  Now she can't see.

        Not that she could possibly have been able to see through the tears anyway, but away we go.

        Push the pram back to the road and walk about 10 meters before realizing that I have to pee.  Okay, fine, we turn around.  The Spawn is still screaming her head off and the cat is now watching us from the front step.  Obviously, we are the best entertainment in town.

        Back in the garden, the baby is just not having it any more.  I'm hot, sweaty, thirsty, and I have to pee.

        F*ck this Sh!t

        I give up, take the baby inside and check my watch.

        Well, at least we are an hour closer to the DB coming home.

        Tuesday, August 16, 2011

        TMI

        Having children means a loss of modesty.  But not like oh-I-left-it-around-here-somewhere loss.  No, your modesty will be ripped from you.  And it doesn't end on the labor bed.  No, that's where it begins.  If you think that the worst thing that could happen to you is five strangers staring down at the business end of your child's arrival...  well, read on.

        See, you don't give a crap about what's going on when you are at the end of labor (you do at the beginning, which is why they only bring in the big guns and all of their attendants once you are loaded up with drugs or blinded by pain).  A whole troupe of dancing dogs could have come in and I couldn't have cared less.  Nathan Fillion could have walked in and I wouldn't have noticed.
        Shiny
        But now that I'm moderately presentable these days... apart from repeatedly showing my nipples to random people (especially now that the Spawn likes to stop mid-suck to check out said random people)... I wanted to have at least some modesty back.

        BWHAHAHAHAH!

        I had to go for my final post-birth doctor appointment.  Er, I mean, appointment relating to birth.  OBVIOUSLY all doctor appointments from now on will be post-birth (ain't nobody backing up that train), but I think I'm done getting prodded for reasons DIRECTLY associated with the arrival of the Spawn.

        Earlier I had two physical therapy appointments pertaining to the muscles used in pushing the Spawn out... and the less said about those two appointments, the better.

        Okay, maybe just one thing - for the first appointment, in order to keep the Spawn from wigging out, I had to nurse her while I was splayed on the table having my pelvic floor stretched.  All while the doctor called out, "and... squeeze... hold it hold it HOLD IT!"

        Cherish your modesty, ladies, because when it's taken from you, you will miss it so.

        The DB came to the next appointment so that I didn't have to juggle baby and do Kegels at the same time.

        Right.

        So this appointment was a gynecological check-up, which the ladies all know well.

        Only this was a check-up on steroids.

        Not only was I physically probed (next time, can I have the ultra-sound from the OUTSIDE, thankyouverymuch), but my life came under examination as well.  I wonder if one of the nurses was in training or interning or something, because I don't usually get two to be examined.  Or maybe they'd heard about the nursing incident.  Or maybe they thought someone would have to hold me down when they checked for scar tissue in my rectum.

        Yeah, I just put my rectum and Nathan Fillion in the same post.  You are SO WELCOME INTERNET.

        I think the gynecologists were very disappointed that everything was fine.  The main gyno was really distrustful of every answer I gave.  Even as I said "but since I'm breastfeeding, I just need to remember to drink more fluids," she'd look concerned and immediately interject with "yes, yes, but, you really need to remember to drink more fluids."

        Er... that's what I just said.

        And the expression on her face when I answered a particular query with "I fart sometimes when I have a big sneeze."  Horror.  But this horror was not because I had mentioned something so awful as passing gas, oh no.  See, this means Something Is Wrong.

        'Cause no one has ever farted when sneezing in the whole history of the world.

        Dude, my child does that, should I get her started on Kegels before I introduce solid food?  'Cause I think that might be difficult.  The DB is trying to teach her proper crawling techniques and she continues to stop and slap the floor when she gets excited.  Sometimes with her face.  Poor baby.  Or is it that no one 'fesses up to sometimes farting while sneezing?

        Be honest here.  Do you blame the dog?

        The DB says we should blame the baby.  I'm totally down with that.

        But my emission admission earned me 100 Kegels and 25 butt-clenches.  I guess you should not treat the doctor's office like a confessional.  The truth will be punished with repetitive exercises.

        Speaking of repetitive exercises - I was assigned "more sex."  Yes, not content to know the ins and outs of my bowels, I was grilled about my sex life.  And told to have more of it.

        Since I wasn't gettin' busy enough for my gyno, she concluded something was wrong with me.  "I'm tired, he's tired, and when the baby's finally asleep there are so many other more important things to do.  Like the dishes," is not a good enough excuse.  We should be bouncing like bunnies or something.  That we aren't means... "Does it hurt?" she looked at me sympathetically.  And I'm really tired, so I look confused.
        Does she mean my relationship?  Because we're STILL a great team.  Does she mean emotionally?  'Cause sometimes I don't feel very sexy and it would be nice to have a physical reminder that I am one hot mama.  Oh, she means physically!  
        "Well, I do have problems with my knees and my back is kinda sore from lifting... "

        And after a few more minutes of further embarrassing conversation, I'm assigned more sex AND erotic massage.

        Thanks, but I don't *need* an erotic massage.  I need a babysitter.  A regular massage.  And a hotel room.  Then maybe we could get down and dirty at the rate the doctor prescribes.

        Although, to be fair, I think if the DB and I had a babysitter, massages and a hotel room, we'd probably just use it to get 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep.

        Thursday, August 11, 2011

        Vacation in Denmark: Part II - Camping

        I like camping.  I think this is what my parents had in mind when they used to pack us up in the minivan and drive us all HOURS to remote locations - instill a love of nature in our children or die trying.  And it worked.

        This is probably why I happily camped for 5 months in Qatar.  Tents, campfires, and camaraderie.

        Camping in Denmark is totally different.

        If you are from the US, forget everything you know about camping.

        Camping in Denmark is more properly “caravanning.” 

        You take your caravan to a campsite, usually near to a major city and/or highway.  You park it right next to someone with a caravan exactly like yours.  You put up an attached tent, doubling your living space and effectively turning the outside into the inside.  You spend the next week reading a paper over coffee and ignoring the neighbors who are within arm reach.  You are not allowed a fire.  You are not allowed to make noise after 10.  You send the kids off to bike around the campsite and swing on the swings next to the toilets while you toss back a couple of beers and plan on taking the children to the zoo.  It is, I’m afraid, a little grim.


        If you have time, watch this - it's hilarious!

        We have a caravan that we’ve used as a second home, usually because we need to stay for a few days somewhere too far to make it to our home every night.  The DB lived in it while he was doing a semester abroad in Holland.  We used it when we had first moved to the island, but the DB hadn’t graduated yet so we needed to stay near his school.  But now we have a baby.  So the first time we had to overnight away from home, we tried out the summer home experience

        But it just wasn’t us.  I keep cringing and spitting and wailing about the inequality and the environmental destruction and the DB panics about breaking something or staining something that doesn’t belong to us and costs more than we can afford to replace.

        Back to the caravan it was.

        But while driving north, to where we normally camped, we had an epiphany.  We were in a car with a caravan!  We didn’t have to “camp” next to the city or near a highway.  So the DB told me to pick a campsite and I chose one as far as I could from anywhere, within reasonable driving distance to Aarhus, in the heart of the Danish lake-country just outside of Silkeborg - Skyttehusets Camping.

        We still were surrounded by caravans and there was no fire pit at our spot, but the difference!  Oh viva la difference… or something.

        Oooooh!
        There were trees and a lakeside!  Families were going canoeing - parents were hanging out with their kids!!  People were hiking, biking, boating and barbecuing.  Although it was a long drive into the woods (lots of trails!!), campers could take one of the many passenger boats into town (any number of towns, actually).  There was even an old paddleboat that could take you from the campsite to the “Sky Mountain” (the third highest point in Denmark if you don’t count the bridge) to Silkeborg.

        Paddleboat!
        The lakeside proper was reserved for tents, so if you are tent camping, you don’t have to stay with the rest of us caravanning sorts.  For the non-car owning among us, you can take the train to Silkeborg and then the boat to the campsite, pitch your tent and enjoy the surrounding nature. 

        This is more like it!

        You aren't camping until you look like you dressed in the dark without a mirror.
        Because you dressed in the dark.
        Without a mirror.
        This is much more like my kind of camping.  There were still too many of us in a small space, but it felt different because of the trees.  The people staying there were so much more active and into their families.  I missed having a campfire.  There’s not much that can be done about that… except have one in our back yard.

        Set up and clean up take a bit longer, especially if you put up the tent extension.  This time we didn’t and therefore set up and clean up took less than 30 minutes… TOTAL.  Can’t beat that! 

        I’d like to go back to that campsite again.  But I am also looking forward to trying to find other fantastic campsites that are overlooked because caravanning-is-something-for-old-people-and-chavs.

        They see us campin'... they be hatin'.  Just me an' mah posse o' one, yo!
        Camping Thug Life.

        Vacation in Denmark: Part I - The Summer Home


        I am opposed to summer homes.

        1) It just seems so wrong to me that some people are stuck living in poorly maintained, government-sponsored housing and others have multiple little homes scattered about the country in a land that likes to brag about how no one has too much and no one has too little.

        2) They are a blight on the landscape.  Often in the prettiest parts of Denmark, you round the corner and instead of the sweeping vista of the ocean or lakeside you left the confines of the city to visit, there are dozens of little houses one after the other, as far as the eye can see.   Some of these “little” homes are larger than the one I live in now.  Some of them have indoor swimming pools!  Indoor swimming pools… next to the beach!!

        3) People only stay in them for a few weekends out of the year, at most a week or two, because in addition to having a summerhouse, most Danes will also travel abroad during their 6 weeks of vacation. And due to legislation, you can’t live in them year round… unless you are retired.  So any grand plan of “taking back” the best of Denmark by moving to these houses can’t be realized for some time yet.

        Hate them!  *spit* *spit*

        So imagine the ethical quandary of borrowing one of my FIL’s summer homes (why yes, I did say “one of” and “homes” - you may join me in the spitting now) for a few days.

        How can I enjoy my vacation knowing that I’m staying in a *spit* summer home??

        Should I try to deflect my guilt by saying “oh, but I didn’t build it, and it would still be standing even if I didn’t stay in it” or “if no one uses it then it really is a waste of materials and environmental destruction” or “it’s cheaper than staying in a hotel” because we had to head up north for a few days and therefore had to overnight somewhere?

        In the end, it really was about sucking up my pride (we be po’ and needed the free shelter) and deciding that I would try to see if I could find a bright side to this whole summer home thing.  Maybe that’s also compromising my ideals… but at least I could now say I’ve tried it.

        The house is nestled in the dunes up on the northwest coast.  Stunning scenery. 

        The View.
        Look, there's even someone else's summer home to look at and enjoy!
        Most of the homes were hunkered down among the dunes, but the FIL’s stood proudly on one of the highest around.  Gorgeous views (see above).  A few of the homes had sod roofs, so they blended in with the environment.  Most of the homes were grey, black, or brown - but a few were a cheeky red.

        "Ours" is Baby Poop Brown... a very natural color.
        The summer home had a nicer kitchen than I currently have.   There was a dishwasher that I totally forgot to use until right before we left, much to the DB’s annoyance.  And a nicer bathroom.  A MUCH nicer bathroom.  Heated floors, ya’ll.  Oh, and a second bathroom that I used, just because I could.  The furniture was fancier (well, we did get ours from the side of the road, so that’s not really saying much). I’m sure this was designer furniture. There was suede involved. I kept the sheets covering most of it for the duration.  God forbid I get baby vomit or breast milk on something!!  Three closet sized bedrooms, but I guess the idea is that you spend most of your time in a bedroom sleeping, so you really only need enough space for a bed.

        All in all it was a nice, tidy house - well designed - in a spectacular location.

        I would be finding bits of this dune in my shoes for the next month.
        Grrrrrr.

        I read in the tourist brochure that there are something like 40,000 summer homes in the area.  In the little area we were, there were probably a few thousand.  A few thousand; right in the dunes.  Only occupied for a few days a year.  Every house could be ripped out and turned into a campsite!  And you wouldn’t need 40,000 campsites, so much of the land could go back to being dunes - an ecosystem that is ridiculously fragile in even the best of times!  And you wouldn’t need to be rich to visit - camping is dirt cheap.

        And here you find the illusive Danish Summer Home - Danicus sommerhusetus - in it's native habitat.
        Notice how it hunkers down in the dunes, erecting a flagpole to indicate it's receptiveness to reproduction.
        *Deep breath*

        So I enjoyed my few days, pretending I was one of the many Danes who vacation this way every year.  To be fair, there were some perks to this form of vacation. There was zero set up involved.  It was warm and dry even when it rained.  There was a lot of space and I didn’t have to go outside to go to the bathroom.  Another plus was that I could put the Spawn down on the floor and not worry about her eating the grass or something.  Finally, because it isn’t ours we didn’t have to do any maintenance or pay for our time there (except for the amount of electricity and water that we used… which was negligible).  But it was ridiculously far from the beach - the walk about killed me, there and back.  It’s also ridiculously far from everything else, so there’s not much to do other than sit in the house and look at the view.  It is only accessible by car, so good luck trying to be eco-minded about your vacation.  And it took forever to clean and leave because everything must be washed, vacuumed, disinfected and scrubbed. 

        Would I buy a summer home?  NO.   Even if everyone in the world had lovely place to call home AND a summer home and you could promise me that it had no impact on the ecosystem.  Who the hell wants to vacation in the same spot all the time?  And why the hell would you want another house to take care of?  I mean, we didn’t have to do any maintenance, but we still had to clean it from top to bottom.  Nice way to end a vacation.

        So, no matter which way you cut it - the summer-home vacation is not for me.

        The beaches of northwest Denmark are a sort of savage monotony.
        Kierkegaard begins to make sense.