Wednesday, December 05, 2012

And then it was winter...

Argh, I feel like I should be writing more!

Working on my novel.

Writing blog posts.

Writing emails to my best friend.

And what am I doing?  Sleeping, mostly.  And doing homework.  Bookkeeping, by the way is DEAD boring.  Probably VERY useful.  The DB already has gotten excited as it means I might start paying more attention to our finances.

It's not that I'm one of those women who waves their hands about in the air and says "oh, my poor soft and pretty head just can't manage all those numbers."  But Danish accounting and US accounting do differ.  Credit in the bank, for instance is listed in Denmark as a big fat number with a minus next to it, telling you how much you've spent of your credit and not really indicating how much you have left until you've reached your limit.  In the US it's written as a positive number, often accompanied with another positive number which tells you how much credit you have left.  Then there's equity and mortgages and the value of property that decreases over time and...

Yeah, why should both of us sit over every last detail?  I know what accounts we have, how much money we haven't and who I should shoot in order to inherit the most.

Wait, whut?

Shhh.  I dint say nufin.

Anyway, for some reason, the DB is frantic that I should some how be more involved in the endless checking and rechecking of our joint-checking account (not called that in Danish) to see if money has magically appeared.

It hasn't.  Except when it does.  Which still confuses me.  When did everything move to on-line?  I miss cash and checks.  Now I have "pending transactions."

And I'm really of the opinion that two people muddling in the accounts will only cause frustration and anguish.  As long as we talk over what we're spending our money on, do I really need to log in every day to see what bills he paid and which bills are on the way? The last thing I want to do is be all nag-ish.  "Are you going to pay that bill or do I have to do it myself?"  Blergh.

Anyway, I don't particularly want to become an accountant, so I'm still resisting.

Meanwhile, it's gotten wicked cold over here.  Snow and all that.  I really need to get the winter tires on the car, but they are in Northern Jutland and that's a heck of a drive.  (I won't bore you with the story of why they are up north - but IT WAS ALL HIS IDEA.)  Not to mention that the car seems to be falling to pieces, one grinding gear and one squealing coupling at a time.  When your mechanic looks at you and say's "it'd be cheaper to get another car," you kinda worry.

So the question may soon become "are you going to make the car payment this month, or am I going to have to do it myself?"

If it's got working seat-warmers, I'll be happy.  Did I mention it's cold?  It's -4 C (24 F) out there.  I know it's colder elsewhere, why do you think I don't live in Norway or Siberia (apart from Siberia's total lack of wifi hotspots)?  This is about as cold as I'm willing to go.

Working in a climate-controlled pig barn suddenly sounds SO MUCH MORE attractive, don't you think?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Things you learn and other stuff

You can tryk (push) a pig.  But you probably shouldn’t tyrk (Turk) a pig.

Did you know that farmers can only spray certain pesticides on their crops between 9 pm and 3 am because that’s when the bees sleep?

GPS is run by the US government and they could decide one day to just turn it off.  The Russians call their system “GLONASS”.  I’m still giggling.

Say you want to raise a bull on your farm to impregnate your cows and sell the extra semen (yes, I just wrote semen on my blog, YOU’RE WELCOME) for heaps of profit.  Because bull sperm is like sticky-liquid gold, or something.  Anyway, you won’t know if the bull is a genetic winner until he is 5 years old and his daughter-cow has had a calf and the farmer can measure the cow’s milk production.  If the cow isn’t a good milk cow, the bull goes off to the butchers and you’ve just wasted five years of food on a great hulking asshole that chases you around the yard and pulls up your fence. 

I completely missed Thanksgiving this year.  If it hadn’t been for some folks wishing each other a Happy Thanksgiving on Bacefook, I never would have known.

Christmas decorations have been up in the stores since October.

I think I’m finally okay with that.  I never get to revel in Christmas the way I want, it always seems to rush up to me, kick me in the shins and then run away.  This way I can have an almost-Christmas feeling for longer than 6 hours.

I’m fairly sure that my headlong rush into roundabouts is what has ruined the servos and possibly something in the steering of my car.  Every time I turn left, the car screams.  Then again, I’m only going the same speed as the rest of the traffic and they aren’t having noisy car issues. 

There is a special circle of hell for drivers that
1) pass you and then slow down
2) speed up as you try to pass
3) and then slow back down after you get behind them again
Each of these things is a damnable offense.  Doing all three?  May Lucifer eat your kidneys for all eternity, foul and miserable being!  May your credit card magnetic strip be demagnetized and your accounts investigated by the taxman!

Speaking of taxes, I just spoke to the Danish tax service.  In Danish.  And got what I needed.  I only had to switch to English to say the number 70, because it’s a bitch and a cell phone isn’t the best conductor of accent.

What’s funny is that I didn’t really know what I needed. I knew I needed to give the tax office some numbers and get them to do something about two tax forms for me.  Somehow it all came together.  I called the accountant back and made her ridiculously happy.  I guess she hadn’t expected me to actually do what she’d ask me to do right away AND let her know that I had done it.

She hasn’t called me back to tell me that it’s all kinds of wrong, so I guess I can count this a win for the day.

I’m caught up on homework and projects.  OH MY GAWD I KNOW!

And then tomorrow we have to make some videos with narration.  And on Monday I have to present a project in front of the class.

Note to self: buy more deodorant.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just *this* close to an international incident

Or "The further adventures of DAMN YOU DANISH!!"

When writing about nutrients and the digestive systems of cows, it is important to check that you wrote:

Syren optages gennem vomvæggen til blodet og er en del af koens vigtigste energikilde.
The acid is absorbed by the blood through the stomach wall and is a part of the cows most important energy source.


Syreren optages gennem vomvæggen til blodet og er en del af koens vigtigste energikilde.
The Syrian is absorbed by the blood through the stomach wall and is a part of the cows most important energy source.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vowels: non-exchangeable, returnable or refundable. Results may vary.

Alternative title: Damn You Danish!  *shakes fist*

Not that I’ve made any serious errors lately, but I did come close.  The Danish word for “savings bonds” is “obligation” so when asked, in Danish, if we have obligations, I was *this* close to raising my hand.

Obligations?  Yeah, I’ve got obligations!  I have two mortgages and a child in childcare, a car that needs maintenance and gas, a husband who seems to keep eating food despite him being fully grown so stop eating so much, m’kay?  Obligations?  Oh, I got your obligations right here, buddy.

Uh, wait, obligations means bonds?  Er, um, no.  No, I have no bonds.  Totally bondless here.  Double-O-uh-oh, that's me.

Thank god I’m always about 5 seconds slower in Danish.  Prevents some silly errors.

Then later I was asked if I had “strøm” and I was completely flummoxed.  Some hand waving and danglish later, we had ascertained that I had indeed a fully charged battery on my computer and yes, Jesper may borrow my charger.

Is it weird that my brain kept wanting to add “und Drang” after hearing strøm?  I have either too much education or not enough intelligence, and I’m not sure which.  But it definitely means I’ve had too many language classes, that’s for sure.

Meanwhile, when I write in Danish, I run it through Google Translate to catch the egregious errors.*  Like in spelling.  One wrong letter may not seem like a lot, but it’s the difference between the government-mandated garbage bins and government-mandated garbage bans.  Or the difference between putting a gin to your lips or a gun to your lips.  Or being stuck in a traffic-jam or stuck in a cow.  Okay, that last one only works if you are writing Danish (kø vs. ko), but you can see where a girl writing about farming might want to be careful about where she puts her Ø.

Sometimes I just write the wrong word.  I wanted to write a sentence describing how a virus invades a cell and turns it into a virus factory.  Fine.  Except my brain stuck “invander” in for “invader” rather than “angriber”.  “Invander” is a word, one I read all the time, it means “immigrant.”  So my viruses were immigrating to the bacteria cell and working in factories there.  Probably for below minimum wage and without access to union representation.  I was highly amused with myself for a while. 

It goes the other way as well.  The Danish word for clouds is “sky” and my little brain just will not read it that way.  “What do you mean there is sky today?  Isn’t there always sky??” I say.  By the way, saying that in Danish means you are being witty and clever in regards to the weather.  “Yes,” laughs the Dane, “I suppose we do always have clouds.”  *Confusion* 

I have a lovely image of the Danes meeting the English and exchanging vocabulary. 

“Så hvad er den der?” Asks the Viking, angrily stabbing his finger up at the heavens, obscured, as England always is during certain times of the year, with clouds.  He did not travel all the way across the North Sea for more of the same damn weather.

“’Wot ‘ar dem der?’  Why good fellow, that there is the sky!” Says the portly merchant, cowering with the other villagers in the town square.

“Sku?  Det er en god ord.  Jeg ta’ det og alle jeres gul!  Nu!”

Or maybe it was the other way around, since English is better known for stealing words from other languages.

“Øv, der er altid sky her!” says Svend Svendsen (Barbarian Invader Inc., est. 875 CE, “We invade, so you will pay”), shaking his fist at the clouds.

“He’s put off by… what was that?  The “sky”?  I say, what a nice word.  If I get out of this alive, I may want to use it in conversation with my neighbors over in Little-Big-Watting-Up-Downs-on-the-Slough.  I’ll appear very worldly and posh,” thinks social climber and sometime merchant, Horatio Bucket.  That’s Boo-kay, dear.

And the more tired I am, the more mistakes I make.  Thankfully, the Danish Boy is there to mangle English from time to time, for my amusement.  The other night he told me that the chimney swiper had come by for the chimneys.

And then he tells me about the new government substitutions.  You know, where they give you money for stuff.  Uh, subsides?  Yeah, that’s what I said, substitutions.

*Hugs him*  Isn't he cute?

* I do NOT write in English and then put it into GT to translate for me.  That would be the epitome of stupid.  GT makes for some hilarious translations.  It is good enough to give you an idea of what was written and it’s a fair dictionary (better than my normal English-Danish dictionary in regards to farm and technical vocabulary) but for the love of god, don’t use it to write your Danish for you!

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Picture Worth 10,000 Words

Yesterday, I almost ran inside to grab my camera and take a picture of the most amazing thing: the Northern Lights.

Only, as I stood on my driveway, a few things occurred to me.

1) I’m in southern Denmark.  While it is possible for the folks in northern Denmark to sometimes see the Northern Lights or so they tell me, the chances of them happening this far south are pretty much zero.

2) The Northern Lights are not a pale pink pattern.

3) The Northern Lights do not appear along the western horizon, even if it’s in the kinda northerly quadrant.  That would make them the Western Lights or even the Northwestern Lights, which we don’t have on this planet.

4) Even if I were to try to take a picture of this particular light, my little camera is not going to be able to register the pale pink, barely visible, hazy lights in the pitch black.

5) It is pitch black because it is cloudy.

6) The Northern Lights couldn’t appear anyway because it’s cloudy.

7) So those would be lights reflecting off the clouds.

8) Ah, those are the lights from Faaborg.

9) Well never mind then.

10) Any picture I might have taken would indeed have been worth 10,000 words.  And all of them would have been “idiot.”

Monday, October 29, 2012

… and that’s how I decided to become a pig farmer.

So pretty much since I decided to become a farmer, I have been looking for an internship.  Part of the education for a farmer is working on a farm to gain experience.  This is paid work, but because you are a student, the pay is lower and the farmer gets a huge tax break, so it works out for everyone involved.

Provided that the farmer can afford it and wants to spend the time it takes to train a student.

The school told me, “Oh, just drop by a farm and talk to a farmer.”  Sounds so easy, doesn’t it?  Just waltz on up, knock on a door, and they’ll just be so glad to see you!  ‘Cause Danes are like that.  They love to be stalked to their homes and imposed upon!  *BANG* *BANG* You in there, give me a job manhandling your animals!  I have no experience but I’m KEEN!!

How I want to appear:

How I’m afraid I actually appear:

Let me let you in on a little secret, something you may not be aware of, I have a little itty bitty social disorder of some sort.  I am terrified of meeting new people.  (I also hate calling people.  If I can get out of it, I won’t call and order pizza; I’ll make someone else do it.  The only thing worse than calling someone and having them pick up the phone, is to call someone and have the answering machine pick up.  OMG!!  PANIC!!)

I know, I’m an extrovert, damn it, I’m not supposed to have a social disorder!

I hide it well… well, sort of.  I babble.  I’m aggressively friendly.  I smile a lot. (This behavior, by the way, is totally wasted on the phone.  Nothing like hanging up the phone and realizing that your lips are glued to your teeth in a rigor mortis grimace that NO ONE COULD SEE.  Although… probably a blessing, that.)  Most people seem to read this as “out-going and extroverted” and I suppose that’s just fine.  But I really, really, really hate the first 15 minutes with a new person.

Going round to someone’s house, knocking on the door and not only meeting a person for the first time but ALSO trying to sell myself as a future employee?  Hello, you’ve just described my own special hell!

I make out like I can talk about what I’m good at, but I am sooooo not. 

Also, I really hate rejection.  I know, no one actually likes rejection, but some people can just shrug it off and move on.  I need a moment, especially if it is a particularly cold rejection.

And now I’ve been rejected a LOT.  Some farmers are very nice, saying that they’d like to have a student, but they can’t afford it.  They invite me in for coffee and go through their contact list, trying to think of a farmer who might have the money for a student.  Those are the rejections that I can handle with grace and aplomb.  I get back in the car and drive to the next farm without any great soul-crushing disappointment.

Then there are the farmers who reject me because they have sons who work the farm and don’t need students.  This one is a bummer because who knew farmers wives were so fecund?  Maybe farmers just happen to breed boys, because lord knows my husband’s non-farming family tends to breed girls.  There’s an idea - does standing for hours near a copy machine kill off Y-chromosome carrying sperm?

For some reason, farmers with sons are not interested in inviting me in and helping me find other farmers.  They aren’t particularly mean, they just sort of matter-of-factly point out that they really have all the free labor they need and close the door.

But then there are the sudden, sharp rejections.  No reason offered, just NO.

Those take a bit to recover from.  Was it something I said?  Is it the appearance of an older woman asking for an internship?  Is it because I’m foreign?  (Probably not, because a high number of farmhands in DK are from Eastern Europe.  Hell, *I* can speak English and Danish.  And I know choice swear words in Polish.)

I started talking to farmers in April.  By the time that school had started in September, I’d spoken to pretty much every dairy farm on the island that has been known to take students.  I even talked to the farms that had never had students.  Just in case I was the one to convince them to.

“Oh, by the way,” the school said to me at the beginning of October, “you need to have an internship before you start your next semester, November 1st, or we won’t let you continue at the school.”


So I had to consider working on a pig farm.  Pig farming is a hard business.  I wasn’t particularly convinced that it was for me.  But as part of our education, we had two days on a dairy farm and two on a pig farm.

I wrote a bit about the dairy farm, the glorious rainbow and dedicatory tires, but I didn’t write about the pig farm.  It’s very different work.  Pigs require more hands-on work than cows and pig farms are much larger than dairy farms.  (I will go into more detail in another post, but I’m trying to get at least ONE post up this week and I’ll need to stop writing at some point!)

Anyway, one of the major benefits of working on a pig farm is the hours - you don’t start at 4 or 5 in the morning and you don’t have a several hour break in the middle of the day and you are done well before dinner.  This meant that I could look off the island for an internship.  Ferry boat schedules: the bane of my existence.

I’d looked off the island for a dairy farm as well, with the idea that we might have to move.  It still didn’t work.  Obviously I intimidate dairy farmers.

So I started looking at pig farms on the island and then farther afield. 

One of the other things that I did manage to accomplish in my rounds of Danish farms is talk to many people about farming in Denmark.  Specifically about the job market.  The second in charge on the pig farm I did my two-day practical on was originally educated in dairy, but couldn’t find work on a dairy farm.  He now has some cows of his own at home, but pays the bills by working 7-3 with pigs.  Several of the teachers at the school pointed out how everyone wanted to work with cows and few with pigs, mostly because of the bad press pig farms get.  These statements are backed by the sheer number of job ads for pig farmhands and very few for cows.

And so I made a decision.  I was going to have ONE education that is actually marketable.  One education in a growing field, where I can use the education I get and be paid for it.  And get that nice 6-week vacation that Danes go on about.  And that permanent residency that I hear so much about.  I was going to be a pig farmer, damn it!  The best damn pig farmer EVER!

I finally got an internship on a pig farm on Wednesday.

I KNOW!  Talk about cutting it close!

Is it what I had in mind when I started this crazy adventure?  No.  Is it something I think I’m going to be good at?  Yes. 

And to ensure that I am guaranteed gainful employment for the remainder of my working days, 
please …

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Application for 25 hour days

Good lord, I’ve been busy!  Of course, other bloggers who are just as busy as I, or even busier (although it’s hard to imagine that it’s physically possible, I commute by ferry boat, damn it, surely that counts for something!), still manage to write posts.  Even if the posts are really short!  Surely I can write a short post!!  I can be brief and succinct!!!

Bwahahahaha!  Oh, it hurts, it hurts! 

I really shouldn’t compare myself to them, obviously.  They didn’t spend two days last week living in a caravan and getting up at four in the morning, dressing in the cold and dark, sneaking out to the car without waking husband and child, all in order to milk cows and spread hay and stack tires for six and a half hours.

Why yes, that *is* a pity banjo you hear me playing!

Actually, I really enjoyed my hard labor.  I just wish there were a few more hours in the day so I could nap, get my own chores done AND write a blog post every now and again.  I’ve got so much to talk about and instead I need to write two reports on my past two practical assignments on farms, two days on one pig farm and two days on one dairy farm. *  In Danish.  Balls.

I suck at writing Danish.  I suck because I write Danish in the same way that I write English, but alas, you cannot directly translate English to Danish (professional translators are laughing at me right now and pointing out that this is why they earn the big bucks).

Shakespeare’s “’Tis better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all,” for example, does not directly translate because you cannot use the word “better” when comparing two bad things.  You can say one is “worser” than the other or one is “less bad,” but never can you use the word “better.”

So back when I was in Danish class, I wrote a rhetorical question in an essay, asking if it was better to have higher unemployment than fewer hospitals, and the response was “You cannot say this, these are the same things.”  Which led to a hilarious debate on the welfare state and Danish stupidity - possibly not the best when trying to argue for a higher grade, but THEY ARE NOT THE SAME THING AT ALL!  I finally got the Danish Boy to explain later that night.  It took him a while as well, because he didn’t know what was wrong with the sentence or why, just that it was fundamentally wrong, and we had a good debate going (if by “good debate” you mean one person crying and the other looking like his head is about to explode), because he could completely understand me IN ENGLISH, but NOT IN DANISH.  Then, I demanded, “WHICH OF THESE IS THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS FOR FUCK’S SAKE!?”  Because nothing solves an argument like yelling biblical quotations and swearing.  And suddenly he had an epiphany.  “It’s BETTER!” he cried.  “I BEG YOUR PARDON!!” I shouted, now ready to set fire to Copenhagen and declare Danish to be an outlawed language of a subservient peoples who would cater to my every whim, mostly by NOT SPEAKING DANISH IN MY PRESENCE.  “You can’t use the word ‘better’.  You have to say ‘worser’ or less bad,” he explained.  “THAT’S STUPID!”  I replied, calm as ever, envisioning the high energy explosive that I would set under the Little Mermaid’s ass.  THAT’LL TEACH ‘EM!  “I didn’t make up this language,” he pointed out.  Damn him, he’s right.  Maybe I’ll hunt that particular asshole down and give him a carbonic acid enema.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I got a 2 on the written Danish portion of my language exam.  A 2, by the way is just passing.  As in “we understand that you wrote a series of Danish words that by themselves are fine enough, it’s just that the arrangement is incomprehensible because we have rules that we made up on a whim and deviation creates chaos in our little brains and besides which, you made 7 basic grammar mistakes in your email to your Canadian friend who wouldn’t understand Danish anyway, but we’re sick bastards who make you write emails to foreigners in our damn language because, as we previously pointed out we’re sick bastards.”

By the way, that paragraph?  Probably doesn’t translate into Danish directly either.  Danish: a language as inflexible as the rye bread they want you eat for lunch, day after day after day.

So it’s a good thing that I didn’t want to go to university anyway.  Even if the program would be taught in English.  Because my Danish is just not good enough to get into the “upper level” Danish class to prepare me for taking the exam that would qualify me for college level classes.   That’s like not doing well enough in junior high and therefore not being allowed to take high school and therefore not allowed to go to college.  Denmark wants us to be “educated” but not to a high degree, apparently. 

Anyway, ranting aside and back on the farm….

As I was standing on the retaining wall, waiting for the next load of tires to be delivered unto me (goddesses of modern agriculture demand offerings of tires), I was looking out over the rolling hills.  The some of the fields were golden with ripe corn, others the dark, earthy brown of freshly tilled soil, others still were bright green with clover.  On the clover covered fields were happy black and white dairy cows, munching away and lowing to one another.  Towering overhead were three very white modern windmills, powering away in the wind.  The sky was bright blue and punctuated with swiftly moving, puffy, white clouds that brought sudden downpours.  One particular cloud was busily pouring rain on what I suspect is Germany.  Because of the angle of the sun, a rainbow suddenly developed right then and there, arching across the sky, from one hilltop to another.  It was glorious.  I really could have used a camera.  But who the hell brings a camera when doing farm labor?  This is why I need a really awesome phone, just sayin’.

But it was one of those moments where you go, yup, this is what it’s all about and this is why this shit is awesome.

*Okay, I may not have to write some essays.  Some say I do, some say I don’t.  I’m going to have to figure this out before I spend an evening trying for subject-verb agreement.  Because otherwise, balls to THAT!

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Rant in Two Parts... Or Two Rants, Related, For the Price of One

Why is it that every time I say, “I don’t like [insert foodstuff]” someone always says, “That’s because you haven’t had really good [foodstuff],” often going on to cite their mom’s particularly spectacular [foodstuff] as an example?

Look, Pushy Foodie, do you go around telling gay men that they just haven’t put it in the right woman or tell lesbians that they just haven’t found the right man, yet?

If you answered, “yes,” then you are a bigot and an asshole and get the hell off my blog! *Waves shotgun threateningly*

If you answered, “No, of course not, people sure as hell know their own sexuality!” Then I want to know why the hell can you accept that I know with whom I want to have sex, but NOT what foods I like to eat?

Let’s use my old favorite: fish.

The types of fish I will eat are few and select.  I’ll eat tuna.  I’ll eat salmon.  I’ll eat fish that has been breaded, fried in butter, drizzled with lemon and slathered with hollandaise.  I’ll even eat pickled herring (just the white kind, the purple kind is pretty gross and I have to schnapps up a few times before I can eat it). 

Anything else is an effort in controlling my gag reflex.

I cannot eat pickles (leads to projectile vomiting within a few hours of consumption) so on top of not liking curried herring, I can’t eat it and DO NOT GIVE ME REMOULADE OR TARTAR SAUCE UNLESS YOU WANT YOUR BATHROOM REDECORATED LATER!

You can give me steak tartar.  Totally different foodstuff.  Much to my surprise.

Anyway, every time I say, “I don’t like fish,” a chorus of voices begins suggesting that it’s because I haven’t had really fresh fish.


“It stinks,” I say.  They say, “Oh, but then it’s old!  Fresh fish smells like the sea!”

BUT THAT’S JUST IT!  IT STINKS OF THE SEA!  If I wanted to eat the sea, I’d eat the goddamned sea.  If steak smelled like a freshly mowed lawn, I wouldn’t want to eat it either.

By the way, I *love* the smell of raw meat.  Tangy iron, yum! 

Now, I like the sea.  I like to look at it.  I like the way it sounds, waves and such.  I even like the way it smells, provided that I’m nowhere near a harbor or anywhere where a large amount of seaweed washes up.  But I don’t want to eat it.  I don’t want to drink it.  I don’t want it in my mouth AT ALL.  So I certainly don’t want to eat anything that smells like it.

I have the same aversion to shellfish.  This one drives Danes crazy, because they put shrimp IN EVERYTHING.  I will eat it if it’s in something and I can’t get away with picking it out.  I just try not to look at it and I will often hold my breath when I put it in my mouth.   I have half a mind to fake a shellfish allergy.

But what really gets the Danes’ goat is when I dare to say I don’t particularly like the rye bread (rugbrød).  Hysterics follow.  “But you haven’t had really good rye bread, then.  My mom makes this really good type that I know will change your mind.”

If I introduce you to my hot gay friends, will you start batting for the other team?

I have had a lot of homemade rye bread.  It’s what Danes do when they want to appear domestic (or if in fact, they are domestic).  Of all of these, I’ve only had one I actually liked.  And when I watched him make it, I noticed a quite apparent lack of rye flour.  There was some, but only some.  Most of it was whole wheat.  That makes it whole-wheat bread, in my opinion.  And notably, it did NOT taste AT ALL of rye.

‘Cause that’s what it comes down to.  I don’t really like rye.  I don’t like a lot of beers that are dark, especially if they have that heavy rye taste.  I really hate that malt crap; that drink made from the brewing extract.  Liquid Marmite.  *Shudder* 

But my god, you just can’t tell a Dane you don’t like rye.  They get so touchy about it.  Recently, in a over-read (okay, you can overhear something, so what do you call it when you read a conversation between people on a networking site that might rhyme with Mace-hook?) conversation, a Dane, who may have had an convulsive fit when a bunch of foreigners united in their dislike of his nation’s bread, said that the reason he was so touchy about it was that food is culture, and by dissing the food, we were dissing his culture.

Dude, the next time someone says something negative about McDonalds IMMA A GONNA CUT A BITCH!!  THAT’S MY CULTURE YOU’RE MALIGNING!!

Wait a minute, no it isn’t.

And this brings us to the second part of the rant.

Really, your food is so intrinsically tied to your culture that if I happen to say that I don’t like it because it tastes like ass, it’s the same as saying that Denmark is full of nothing but freeloaders; metrosexual mamma’s boys who couldn’t find their manhood with both hands and dead-eyed women who will give you a blowjob at a bus stop just so they can see what time it is?

(BTW, I asked the Danish Boy what the most awful thing I could say about Danish culture would be and he replied, “What culture?  Danes have no culture.  Our culture is those stupid clapping hats at sports matches.”)

My god, the number of disparaging things I’ve had said to me about my country!  Forget the remarks about the food, I’ve been told Americans themselves are fat, lazy, mean, rude, stupid, and loud.  Yes, to my face.  Often over one of those extended meals Danes like to have.  Good lord, no wonder Danes invented aquavit.  And you know what, I don’t get offended (okay, maybe about the fat comment - WHO YOU CALLING FAT, CHUBS??) because it’s an opinion.  It’s not my fault if it’s wrong. 

And so what if people don’t like barbeque or pumpkin pie or McDonalds, no one in the US is going to force you to eat it.  Sure, in the South they may get tetchy about it, but then they still hold a grudge over the War of Northern Aggression (you may know it as the American Civil War).   They get tetchy about a lot of things.

And I can think of plenty of Americans who would like Danish food, including the rye bread, if they weren’t already patriotically bound to eat white bread and nothing but white bread, so help me god.  But while they may love smearing leverpostej (called liverwurst in the US) all over their shiny faces, they’d be appalled by Danish society.  “Socialist SCUM!”

Yes, a good section of the Scandinavian-American population, who keep up with the food and other Scandinavian traditions, are Republicans who think that the Danes are only Communists who depend on western handouts to keep the economies afloat.

So what will it be, Foodie Danes?  Would you rather have someone who likes the culture (and I use the term loosely) and the governing system but not the rye bread or the person who, given the chance, would strip you of your free health care while enjoying your lunch pack?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Little Girl Who Never Lived

*** Warning: This post is a real downer.  I'm not going to apologize for it, but I am going to give you fair warning.  So there, you've been warned. ***

My brother-in-law and his girlfriend lost their unborn baby girl last week. 

She was full-term, 36 weeks, and perfect.  Perfect except for some small thing.  Something so small, that no scan caught it.  So small, that there was no warning.  Just one day she was alive and kicking and her parents were organizing baby clothes, and the next the doctors were giving her mother a pill and their condolences.

The doctors don’t know what happened.  There was no sign.  There are no clues.  Just one perfect, small life, that never lived.

This little girl was wanted, planned, sought after, and loved.  This little girl now waits in a cold room, in a small box, for a ceremony that is supposed to give her family closure.  This little girl who never lived.

Her parents will miss her more than I can even imagine.  I actually cannot imagine, my brain shuts down, the thoughts half formed.  No, it seems to say, you can’t handle that sort of grief. 

I hold my child tighter.  There’s guilt there.  Guilt because I got lucky.  Guilt because my little girl is alive and healthy: Survivor’s guilt by proxy.  It is, of course, irrational.  One little girl lives, another does not; there is no rationality in the matter, no one to complain to.  It’s not that I did something right or someone else did something wrong.  Something just happened.  Something happened to the little girl who never lived.

They are holding tight to each other, my brother-in-law and his wife.  There is grief and there is steely resolve.  They will not let this most horrible of tragedies rip them apart.  They will grow closer together.  They will have more children.  The room in the apartment they bought for their growing family will someday be filled with laughter and tears and midnight feedings and all those things parents love to hate. 

But until then.  A grandmother finishes a blanket that the little girl will take to her forever-bed.  She’ll have a little stuffed monkey to hold on to.  We will have to hold each other, as we say good-bye to the little girl who never lived.

*** Please do not leave any comments telling me that God loved her so much that he took her to heaven.  Any God who loves children so much that he takes them away from their parents is a dick. ***

Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Dane and His Daughter

The Danish Boy has had his hands full this week.  As he will for the next 15, provided I keep passing exams.

I get up at 5 am and head for the ferry at 6.  He’s got to catch the bus at a little after 8 am, with the Spawn. 

So Monday was a little rough for them both, but they made it on the bus.  That night, he asked to be woken up at 5:30, so he could take a shower and I would be available if the Spawn woke up and needed whatever it is that my child wants at the ass-crack of dawn. *

Tuesday, I woke him up.  He was a little out of it, so he said “hello” and woke the Spawn.  Bless him, he handled the mess he made while I ate breakfast and caught the ferry.  That night he said, screw it, let ‘em both sleep.

Wednesday I let them be.  They were both sleeping when I left.  Later he got up and showered before she woke up.  He got her dressed; they ate breakfast and were out the door on time.

Thursday.  Same again, only the Spawn woke up a bit earlier than the Danish Boy wanted.  Something I’ve noticed about the Spawn.  After she wakes up, you must hold her until she’s ready to be put down, usually about 5 to 10 minutes, after which she is Happy Baby and ready for anything.  Trying to hurry this process up, however, results in Angry Baby. ** The Danish Boy, fresh out of the shower (so, naked, then), was unaware of this charming side to our child’s nature.  He put her down to get dressed.  He confessed later, “I had to put her in Time Out.”  The Danish Boy never puts the Spawn in Time Out.  He talks to her reasonably until she works herself into a fit and then declares, “she needs her momma” before handing me a hysterical child.  Then I get to put her in Time Out because she promptly begins to hit me and we do not hit momma. *** So this was a big moment for him, he actually had to do the discipline.

Despite this, he says he’s actually quite liked having this extra time with the Spawn.  She’s going through a growth spurt and teething like mad, so she’s been the total Velcro baby recently.  If it ain’t momma, it ain’t happenin’ was the motto around the house.  These mornings (and afternoons, since he’s the one who picks her up from daycare) have refocused her little mind on him.  Daddy also makes food.  Daddy also cuddles.  Daddy is also cool.  They talk together and on the way home, they take a little walk and eat berries.

Of course, as soon as I come home, she lights up and runs to me.  (You want a total ego boost?  Be greeted at the door by an enthusiastic toddler.  It’s all “Oh WOW!  It’s YOU!  How great to see YOU!”)  Then she just wants me and only me from then until bed, but that’s fine.  For me.  The Danish Boy is then stuck doing the cooking, which I used to do, and the washing up, which I also used to do.

Only after Spawn and I have gone to bed does he get to do whatever it is he wanted to do by himself.  He almost complained about this, but then wisely remembered that there were months where I never had any time to myself, any time where I wasn’t cooking, cleaning, or breastfeeding and shut up.

* Usually: a boob.
** Angry Baby hits and kicks and, as of recently, bites.
*** She’s one and a half, so she gets one and a half minutes of Time Out.

Friday, September 07, 2012

My Week in Review

Did you have a good week?  I had a good week.  I had an exhausting week.  I had a week that shows me that the next 15 weeks are going to be boring, exciting, easy, difficult, perplexing, clarifying, exhausting, but probably never ever restful.

On Monday I was thrown into it.  By the end of the day, we’d had a massive amount of information given to us (you know, the normal orientation things, like who wants a meal plan, here’s your pile of books, here’s your password to the internet) and several hours of lecture time.

I don’t think I’ve ever started a school where we began lectures the first DAY let alone the first WEEK.

Then again, most of my educations were going to be a hell of a lot longer than 16 weeks.

Also, none of my previous teachers/professors talked NEARLY as fast.  Swear to god, some of the sentences I heard this week went: brrrrrililililil brrrrrrrrilililil.  Then there will be one word that I understand and all is clear again.

Clear as mud.

Tuesday was more lecture and the Big Misunderstanding, i.e. gym class. 

Wednesday.  I learned to drive a tractor.  And plow a field.  Then I drove a tractor and plowed a bit of field.  Driving a tractor is almost not entirely unlike driving a car.  Double negation would leave you to believe that it is IN FACT just like driving a car.  No, it is unlike driving a car, but not entirely unlike driving a car.  There’s a clutch and a break and a gas pedal and a gearbox, which you use when you are driving on the road.  On the field you use a hand lever to increase gas to the engine and hand paddle to increase speed.  You can give the engine a huge amount of gas and just sit there, burning gas and not moving and you can also try to move and not give it any gas.  This, by the way, doesn’t work.  Trust me.  Then you have to lift and drop your plow, determine how deep you need to set the plow, watch it while you plow because you will need to change the depth the plow is set to based on soil conditions and angle you are driving at.  It’s a bit harder than you’d think, but not in the ways you would normally think.  Steering, for example, is a BREEZE!

Thursday we had 8 hours of health and safety regarding welding.  Eight hours.  HOURS.  EIGHT OF THEM.  I learned the following:
  • Welding causes cancer
  • Gases used in welding are highly flammable so don’t even THINK about kicking that canister

Anyone needing someone to help stage a large industrial “accident” may contact me via email.  Not that I’m saying I would… it’s just, well, I could.

Then we had a test.  I was understandably nervous.  I mean, after 8 hours, my brain is normally fried.  Eight hours of DANISH???  Are you kidding me???  Eight hours of listening to dead boring talk about ventilation, masks, glass, and five minutes of exciting talk about explosive gas… sure, bring it on!

It was open note, open book.  I asked if I could use Google Translate, I was allowed.  I Passed!


Friday was First Aid Day.  Now, if you take a Danish drivers’ license, you have to take a first aid course.  Unless you have another country's drivers’ license and you are taking the class to switch licenses.  Then you can skip that day.  Which I did, because it cost money to take and I was all “screw THAT!”  So today, the teacher was all “do you have a license?” and I was all “Yeah, but it’s been 18 years” and she was confused (maybe she though I said I was 18?) and asked, “when did you get your Danish drivers’ license” and I said “last year” and she was all “okay then.” And I was all “Er….” but in the end it didn’t matter, I think, because we still covered everything anyway.  And yes, first aid has changed in the last 18 years. 

Also, I have the lungs of a horse.  You need air?  I’m a gonna give you air!  In your lungs, bitch!  I may accidently give you a pneumothorax while I’m at it.  One free pneumothorax with every cardiac arrest.  What can I say, I’m just a giver by nature.

I have more first aid next week.  As well as my first “practical” in the cow sheds and another in the pig sty, biology, more health and safety, and something called the “month’s profile” which I’m not going to make any guesses on, because they’ll all be WRONG.  I’ll let you know next week. 

If I survive.  I’m kinda reeling with information here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

If this isn’t integration, I don’t know what is.

So can I just say HOLY COW?!?!

“Holy Cow” is the appropriately bad pun for any and all farming moments.  Just sayin’.

I was really really nervous before starting, mostly because, well, I gotta catch a ferry boat to and from school, I’m easily 15 years older than most, my Danish is shit… you know, the usual reasons kids are nervous about starting a new school.

The Danish Boy got it, sorta.  He decided to take archaeology classes at Hebrew University, in Israel.  He didn’t speak Hebrew and his English was abysmal.  (Obviously, it’s gotten better.)  So when he started classes, he was surrounded by people who didn’t speak his language and who knew how things worked but not always how to explain it all to a tall Dane.  So yeah, he knew why I was nervous.  But his “well, you just go in there and don’t be afraid to ask” approach, which UNDER NORMAL CIRCUMSTANCES is right up my alley (hello, I’m an extrovert), was not going to work, as I pointed out, because WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW THAT I DON’T KNOW?

Currently, I am playing a game where I give myself points if I understand what’s been said 100% and answer CORRECTLY.  I deduct a point, not when I don’t understand (they don't make negative numbers that big), but when I so completely do not understand that it leads to hilarity.

I was up a point yesterday - I need to get me a pair of rubber boots because tomorrow I handle cows.

I had to take it away today, because “ID” on the lesson plan does NOT mean that you’ll be getting an ID card, it means what we in the USA call P.E. - that is, sports.

I was not the only one who didn’t bring proper clothes to change into, but you know, I’m an idiot for not having the slightest idea what was about to happen.  Minus one point.

But, I’m an idiot who is old enough to get over herself and I had a BLAST in gym class, jeans and t-shirts be DAMNED!

I also got hit by a lot of balls, trying to defend my team’s goal.  I really hope there are bruises.  It’s almost not worth getting hit if it won’t leave a mark.  Although, I’m glad the one I took directly to the face didn’t bust anything.  Pain, you ask?  I’ve birthed a human, my threshold for pain is astronomical.  Just please don’t poke me in the eye.  I hate that.

My classmates are a different bunch.  Most are older, but when I say “older” I mean, 19-22 instead of 16-18.  There’s one 27 year old and she was feeling a bit ancient until I got to whip out the I’ll-be-34-in-6-days card and win the oldest-person-in-class award.  The next eldest is a guy from Holland, who’s 30.  I WIN!!  WINNER!!  I think I’m also the only one who’s married and has a child.  I WIN AGAIN!!  ALL THE POINTS BELONG TO MEEEEEE!!!

Since it’s the “student track” we’ve all had a high school education, most of them did a biology/science track.  Two wanted to become nurses, but when that didn’t work out (no room in the nursing programs), they were at a loss as to what to do with themselves.  A few wanted to be veterinarians, but since EVERYONE and their SISTER wants to be a vet, you have to have the top grades to get in. 

A word on education here in DK - there are only so many spots in various educational programs and at university.  The more desirable the education, the more that apply, the higher your grades need to be to beat out the competition.  You apply for a whole lot and when you don’t get in, you flail around madly for a while and then often try something completely different.  We spent some time during break making fun of the kids who got into vet school who are completely unsuited to it, i.e. scared of blood, cats, etc.

Only one girl has a horse.  One girl has never seen a horse (in real life) before.  We’re pretty split, gender wise.  Almost as many girls as boys.  Not everyone grew up on a farm, many have no experience with animals.  Thus we all have our strengths and weaknesses. 

This last bit of knowledge is what makes the difference to me.  I was worried that I was going to be surrounded with people who had at least 6 months of experience under their belts, grew up on farms, and/or had this as their life’s main plan.  But we’re all in this together.  We're all missing something and better at something else.  Those with the experience are great at explaining and I believe my job is to keep asking “what?  Can you say that again?” for myself and the other’s who might be scared to admit that they don’t know.  This has already led to more and more of them admitting they don’t know something.  United in ignorance!

That tree?  Yeah, I have no idea what species of tree that is.  It’s what?  Never heard of it.  Can I eat that berry?  No?  Good to know.

Our first class was on landscapes.  Ummm, not how you would think.  It was about how you develop natural areas around your fields or in areas of your field where you cannot or should not cultivate and why this is a good idea.  Since there was a time in the recent past where this was not done and fields were plowed right up to the edges, it’s now important for our generation to replant and recreate these natural areas.

We went on a walk, which included a lot of “name this plant,” and you would not believe the vocabulary list I’ve got for myself.  Not including species of tree and grass.  That’s for next week. 

Tomorrow we suit up for practical training.  Cows, pigs, and “technical” - I’m hoping that means tractors.  Or welding.  Ooooooh, let me weld!!!  Fire!!  Steel!!  Awesome helmets!!