Catching Up: News in 4 Parts

February 22, 2009

Apparently we’re running this blog on a you-touched-it-last-you-own-it basis, which means that we haven’t updated you on life in Denmark for nearly two months because I (Paul) didn’t realize this and have been off doing other things. So, let’s catch up.

Scroll down below this you’ll find four posts:

  • Part 1: Hope & Layoffs
  • Part 2: Souren’s Visit
  • Part 3: Snow!
  • Part 4: Fastelavn

Enjoy!

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Catching Up (part 4): Fastelavn

February 22, 2009

Today is Fastelavn (say it: fest-ah-lau-win) in Denmark. Wikipedia has a pretty good article on it (follow the link in the previous sentence). Here’s what you do:

  1. Dress up in costumes, like Americans do at Halloween.
  2. Go door-to-door asking for candy.
  3. Put a cat in a barrel (like a wine barrel), then beat the barrel with a stick until it breaks.
  4. Sing songs.
  5. Eat the special pastries.

Well, okay.

These days the cat is made of paper and the barrel is filled with candy. And you’re not really beating away the devil any longer. But the barrel is still made of wood. Eden said, “when we broke the barrel, a piece of wood flew and hit Mia in the forehead!”

However, the pastries are still real. It isn’t a Danish holidy if there isn’t a pastry created specifically for it.

This year Cate dressed up as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz; Eden’s class didn’t dress in costumes.

A man hangs the Fastelavn barrel at church for the Danish congregation to beat.

A man hangs the Fastelavn barrel at church for the Danish congregation to beat.

 

The special pastries for Fastelavn

The special pastries for Fastelavn


Catching Up (part 3): Snow Days

February 22, 2009

The past couple of weeks we’ve had snow on the ground the entire time. It started while Souren was here, which made skating on ice on top of pavement seem a little more realistic. And then the snow just kept on coming. I think it snowed a little bit each day since February 11.

Until today.

Urban Transport

Sculpture at Microsoft Denmark

Sculpture at Microsoft Denmark

Cate making a snow angel

Cate making a snow angel

Milk Maid at the Copenhagen University Life Sciences Gardens

Milk Maid at the Copenhagen University Life Sciences Gardens

Last night we got another inch or two, but the weather was warming up. On the way to church this morning we barely needed gloves. The pavement in the courtyard behind our building, which was buried in snow just last night at 11pm, is now nearly bare.

But we had fun nonetheless. Earlier in the week, Cate went sledding down the artificial hill in our local mall (see the photo here). But yesterday (Saturday) we got the real thing and went sledding at the Frederiksberg Have. Some people hurtled themselves down the terraced hillside: steep, flat, steep, flat, steep, gradual. We went for the slightly less crazy but longer hill, though we still had to steer around people who were walking up the hill smack in the middle. I swear many Danes have no spatial sense. Not a few people were knocked over. Our hill had an added thrill. If you couldn’t stop in time, you would launch out onto the ice of the canal. While it was thick (more than 1-inch), it was thawing and probably wouldn’t hold you.

We’ve got more photos up on Flicker.

Eden and Sammy at Frederiksberg Have

Eden and Sammy at Frederiksberg Have

 

Eden and Cate Sledding at Frederiksberg Have

Eden and Cate Sledding at Frederiksberg Have. That's them going down backwards.


Catching Up (part 2): Ice & Visits

February 13, 2009

The weather has turned colder, and we’ve had ice on the lakes nearly continuously since mid-January. The girls have gone skating at Kongens Nytorv and Frederiksberg Have with Mabel (Michelle’s 16-year-old daughter) and school mates Peter & Ali (here for a year from Seattle). They (the city? private companies? the Picturesque Denmark Committee?) lay down refrigeration lines and freeze a section of the squares for ice skating. Next winter I think we’ll buy ice skates. It costs nothing to skate, but rentals are 40DKK (~$8) for an hour . We found the one good deal in Denmark: skates can be purchased at Bilka for under 200DKK, which is not much more than what you’d pay for a sandwich and drink at a cafe.

On February 4th Souren flew in from Seattle for a visit. He and Rachelle went to the botanical gardens on Thursday.

Palm House at the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens

Palm House at the Copenhagen Botanical Gardens

I took off work on Friday, February 6, and we toured the old Carlsberg Brewery, which was filled with interesting facts and quotes.

  1. A quote from the 19th century: ‘ The critics claimed both that insufficient quantities of beer had been brewed and that the quality was too poor. One consumer complained:” In my small household, beer is often lacking for 8 to 14 days … at these times my children must either go to the water pump, if the water is drinkable, or I must with sadness watch them become weak on tea water.” ‘
  2. In the old days they had 8 guys whose job was to turn over the sprouting barley in a very large basement room. Tons of it. Every day. For years. In a basement.
  3. “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” – Benjamin Franklin

On the Saturday we went to the Louisiana, which is an art museum about 30km north of Copenhagen. The museum’s name comes from the name of the villa on the property, which the original owner named after his wife Louise. And his second wife Louise. Oh, and his third wife, also name Louise. I suspect the man had issues. Anyway, there was a manga exhibit showing, which we wanted to see. We took the train up the coast, had lunch at the cafe (probably the best restaurant meal we’ve had in Denmark), and wandered the grounds. It is right on the water, and in a beautiful location.

Souren, Eden, and Cate at the Louisiana

Souren, Eden, and Cate at the Louisiana

Cate reading manga at the Louisiana

Cate reading manga at the Louisiana

In addition to manga, the exhibit also had cells from various anime, including many of Hayao Miyazaki’s films. With Souren here, we also got in plenty of video game time.

Playing Video Games with Souren

Playing Video Games with Souren

On Wednesday, February 11, we all went ice skating at Kongens Nytorv with Michelle, James, Mabel, and Nick. Afterward we ate lunch at the cafeteria in Magasin, an old department store in Denmark that is just off Kongens Nytorv. Then, Cate and Souren played foosball against Eden & Mabel. Much cackling was to be heard.

Souren, Mabel, and Cate skating at Kongens Nytorv

Souren, Mabel, and Cate skating at Kongens Nytorv

Cate playing Foosball with Souren, Eden, and Mabel

Cate playing Foosball with Souren, Eden, and Mabel

We had a great visit with him. For more photos, see the Flickr set.