16 May, 2015

Hamburg, Copenhagen, Good Weather, and I Pass Another Test

Looking good at 31km
Viking Man recently tucked another marathon under his belt. We took a quick two day trip down to Hamburg at the end of April so he could run, and while we didn't have a lot of time to look around, it was still fun to leave the Monkey with the in-laws for the night and visit a new city--and country, for that matter, because we all know that airports don't count.

De Kongelige Repræsentationslokaler
Nyhavn
I also took a field trip to Copenhagen with Sprogcentret last week. Copenhagen is a nice city, so even though I had seen some of what was on the itinerary, I enjoyed the day's program, especially De Kongelige Repræsentationslokaler. We had to slog through rain for a good part of the day, but by the time we took our canal tour, the weather had cleared, and our parting photos at Nyhavn had us squinting into the setting sun. Home just past midnight, it was a long but good day.

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I could complain more about the weather and temperature here, as I am wont to do, but instead I will make note of some very nice, albeit brisk, weather we had on Mother's Day. Our little street of seven houses voted to build a zip line in the forest opposite the houses, and Mother's Day was the work day for that project. VM's mother came and brought Monkey's cousin. Someone pulled a garden table and chairs into the street. There were cinnamon rolls and tea and coffee. At one point, a grill appeared. By the end of the day, the kids were zipping happily down the line. Monkey didn't hesitate for a second and surprised everyone by sailing fearlessly down the line by herself. 'Zip line' is now part of her vocabulary.

Speaking of vocabulary, I suppose my Danish is progressing. VM and I are taking our summer vacation early this year, and as a result, I will miss taking the next module test with the rest of my class. Not wanting to fall behind, I asked if I could take the test a month early, which I did just this past Wednesday.

There were four reading comprehension elements and two writing tasks. The reading comprehension was pretty straightforward. I either understood or I didn't. The writing felt more ambiguous. Did I write to a high enough standard? Was I too ambitious? Did I even make any sense whatsoever? Anyway, I passed, so now I have to look forward to the Module 4 test which comprises reading, writing, listening, and oral components. Three down, three to go.

We leave for the US on Tuesday. It's been two years, and I am really looking forward to seeing family, driving our Corvair, celebrating birthdays, camping, and hopefully some warm weather!









30 March, 2015

Blog Spring Cleaning: Dansk Progress, Monkey is Two, Fashion Fails, Irondad Prevails

TV/Midt-Vest visit
In January, my classmates and I passed the test to move to Module 3. Now in addition to our regular classes, we have a group project element in which we make presentations on a central theme. This is a combined effort with Module 4, and we have just begun our second project--Media in Holstebro. My team chose TV, so I arranged for us to visit TV/Midt-Vest, the regional TV station, last week. We were all pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable and interesting it was. We got a personal tour by the redaktionschef through the news rooms and studios, and she graciously sat with us for a short interview. We will give our presentations in a couple of weeks. 

In February, I took the first Dansk Prøve, a test which is required for those on 'Family Reunification' visas. There is only one testing location for the entire country, so it was a very convenient 3 1/2 hour drive for us. I'm still waiting for the results, but the test was easy. 

Monkey Baby turned two in March, so she's not really a baby anymore. But she's definitely still a monkey. She's funny and frustrating and totally charming. Her English and Danish are both developing quickly which is completely fascinating to me as one raised mono-lingually. Currently trending is 'ikke' (not) with everything: 

'Daddy henne?' (Where's Daddy?)
'Daddy's in the living room opening the curtains.'
'Nej, mama, ikke curtains.'
'Well, he is opening the curtains.'
'Ikke curtains!'
'Take it up with Daddy.'

'Time to get ready for bed, Monkey.' 
'Nej, ikke bed.' 
'Yes, and then we'll read some books.' 
'Nej, mama, ikke read books!' 
'But you love books!' 
(pause) 'Yaaaay books!'

So that's fun.

Påske is everywhere right now. Easter. There are familiar themes of eggs and chocolate bunnies, and the ad magazines are full of offers on legs of lamb and pickled herring. 

Easter dresses, c. 1987
This morning my choir sang for the Palm Sunday service out at Mejrup Kirke. Even though I've been to church here before--and to this church in particular--I still decided to wear high heels, dress slacks, and a dry-clean-only top. It must be something ingrained. Growing up, we always dressed up for church. But today, I felt a little out of place in a sea of sensible shoes and no-nonsense attire. 

This is not the first time I've felt inappropriately dressed at an event in Denmark, so I'm considering generating a chart which details occasions and clothing options that can be cross-referenced with times of day.
  • Evening birthday in a garden tent: casual with sweater
  • Afternoon birthday: nice casual, take along practical shoes for a forest/beach walk
  • Confirmation with a nursing infant: squeeze into that one black dress and hope for the best
  • Confirmation at a golf resort: GO SHOPPING
  • Church: freely choose any of the frumpy clothes in your closet
It's a work in progress.

To finish my spring cleaning, I need to mention my dad. He pops up in my writing now and then, often in conjunction with athletic achievements, and his latest accomplishment is the Melbourne Ironman. 

As with his first Coeur d'Alene Ironman, there was a bit of drama. There was a trip to the ER to deal with recurring gut blockage caused by the radiation several years ago. There was morphine and an IV drip. There was a mad dash to the airport directly from the VA hospital. There was a recurrence of bronchitis. There was dehydration. Ultimately, there was an Ironman, and his name is Dwight Schuh. 

He finished sixth out of seven in the 70-74 age group, sticking it out to the end with fellow American Richard Weinbrandt who came in seventh with 1 1/2 lungs following a lung infection and surgery in December 2014. To quote my sister, 'Sounds like the old guy division isn't for wimps.' You can say that again.

Sorry you didn't get your Kona qualifier, dad. We still think you're alright.


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09 January, 2015

Driving with Old Men and a Sluggish New Year

Viking Man tows Monkey through the Christmas snow
Yesterday I gave two old men a ride. It was uncomfortably silent except for brief directions given by one man and repeated by the other. The route was random and meandering. I felt tense and overly warm. When we reached our final destination, I turned off the car and sat quietly. The man in the front seat looked at me.

'Margie, du får et kørekort,' he said. I didn't need to wait for the translator in order to understand that I had just passed my driving test! 

It's a good way to start the new year which has otherwise been chugging along in a pathetic effort to take off. I guess the Monkey didn't get the memo about making resolutions to sleep through the night or to get herself dressed and make her own breakfast. 

What point of Danish culture should I explore next, now that my driving adventure is over? 

22 December, 2014

Bad Choices and Juleafslutning

Strange weather these days
On Friday morning, not only did I decide not to wear my ski pants, I decided not to pack the ski pants. 

Whatever was I thinking. 

I was thinking that just once I wanted to show up at school without looking like I was dressed for an Arctic expedition. I was thinking that since it was our Christmas party (juleafslutning), I could try to look a little bit nice. I could avoid hat hair by not wearing my hat. I could carry my leather purse instead of my ancient Jansport. I could wear a little mascara. 

These were all bad choices

'Bedraggled raccoon in wet jeans' will probably call up an accurate mental picture of how I looked sitting in the Sprogcentret Christmas service in Holstebro Church. Sogginess aside, it was a lovely service. Sprogcentret students nearly filled the church--there must have been several hundred of us.

Musikskole
Back at the school, I stood against the radiator. We played a gift exchange game and ate pebernødder and brunkager and drank coffee. I dried out and warmed up. Then we carpooled over to the music school for a short orchestra concert by the young people. 

I caught a rain and hail free window in which to ride home.