Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Jul from Denmark

It's December 25th; Jesper and have been in Denmark for Christmas since December 17th. Time has gone so fast! We cannot believe we leave in 2 days!!! Where did 10 days go?!?!?!?

Our trip started out great, took a downhill turn and then bounced back. We left Boulder midday on December 17th and arrived in Copenhagen on December 18th midday. We arranged to stay in Copenhagen that night and met up with Jens, a friend of Jesper's from his IBM Denmark days, at a very nice restaurant in Tivoli. Before dinner, we made a stop at Hviid's Vinstue, a warm cozy place that's been around for some 300 years. We had Glögg, which is reason enough alone to come to Denmark over Christmas.

Hviid's Vinstue and their yummy Glögg (not bad for an iPhone pic - courtesy Jesper)

After a good night's sleep, we boarded a train to Frederikshavn, Jesper's hometown. We arrived Friday afternoon feeling pretty fresh (not much jet-lag), and went to bed after spending some time with the family. Things went downhill from there...

During the night, I was sick as a dog. Nausea, stomach cramps and severe heartburn. I mean severe. I was pretty much out of commission the next day, although I did manage to make it out for the cutting of the tree with Jesper's father (Ole) and his niece and nephew, Maia and Marcus. Despite not feeling too hot, I still had a great day, mostly because Jesper was so happy to see his family again.

Maia and Marcus cutting down the tree

Saturday, we shopped for Christmas gifts in town, an easy day for me to recover and had dinner over at Jesper's brother's house. The next day, I felt much better, but it was Jesper's turn to feel sick. We would continue to pass the baton all the way through the house to Vibeke (Jesper's Mom) and then finally to Ole. Not exactly the Christmas gift we had in mind!

Due to the funk, Monday was a laid back day with family, although I broke away for an hour to go running. I forgot my camera, which is a shame, because the lighting was very pretty. I ran from the house down to the harbor, where there were a mix of old fishing boats and large, modern commercial craft. It was very picturesque. The lighting in Denmark in the winter is very special (when it's sunny). You are so far north, the sun never gets up very high and the angle of the lighting is low and golden. This golden period of light lasts for hours, as opposed to the ten minutes of perfect lighting you get in Colorado.

Despite a lingering funk, on Tuesday all but Vibeke loaded up in the cars and drove all the way from the East coast of Denmark, where Frederikshavn is located, to the West coast. About a one hour drive - it's a small country. We visited a little fishing town of Lønstrup and the nearby sand dunes, which are advancing rapidly toward the ocean. Both a lighthouse and a very old church are falling into the sea.

Jesper, Lars and Marcus near the lighthouse by the sea

Me at the edge of the sand dune cliffs (courtesy Jesper)

Lars and Marcus by what remains of the old church about to fall into the ocean

A very old gravestone

Wednesday was the 24th, the day the Danes celebrate Christmas. Don't ask me why..... Anyway, they celebrate Christmas at night, so we had all day to relax. Jesper, Ole and I went for a hike up on the hills overlooking the sea. This spot had been used by the Danish army for military defense before being taken taken over by the Germans in WWII. There were over 70 bunkers on the hillside, some for soldiers to seek shelter and others to house guns. Big guns.

Big gun overlooking the sea

WWII Bunker with a large gun

Jesper viewed from the gunners seat through the "view finder" of the cannon

Later that day I went for another run. I'm convinced a midday run staves off jet-lag. It seemesto be working for me, so I figured I'd keep running every day. The last time I was in Denmark for Christmas, I suffered from the sleepies every day, so I have been bound and determined to beat that nasty jet-lag this time around! Later that night, Lars, Lise and the children came over to share a Christmas feast and open the massive pile of presents that had magically appeared under our little tree. I was a very good girl and received many very nice gifts. I count myself lucky.

Lars, Marcus, Ole and Maia dancing around the tree before the presents were placed

Today is Thursday, December 25th and it has been another relaxing day, since no stores are open. Jepser and I saved one present each to give each other on this American Christmas morning. Jesper's gift to me was very creative. He gave me a DVD to play right away. When I popped it in the player, it showed a video of Jesper at home in Boulder with Strelka, along with a very large present. Jesper and Strelka proceeded to open said present, which was for me. It was a scanner/printer/fax machine/copier! The gift is great and the presentation was very sweet and well done. I've got a keeper in that Jesper....

Jesper and I both went for a long run in the afternoon through the countryside, the woods and then through some farmer's fileds and up a wooded hill to Jesper's Uncle's house. They were surprised to see us show up that way, and we certainly solidified our outdoorsy image thay had gleaned from our websites! We hadn't seen them yet, since they were avoiding Ole and Vibeke's house of plague.

Running past the fields

... and the farms

... and through the woods

Everyone is well now. We have two more days in Denmark; no doubt at least one more jet-lag fighting run and hopefully some more Glögg. I'll post more pics and links to Jesper's fine photos later.

Merry Jul!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Farewell Soot

This morning we had Soot, our 19 year old kitty, put down. She had a great life until a few months ago, when she began to lose weight, unable to keep her food down. A trip to the Vet showed that she had a large abdominal mass (i.e., cancer). Other bodily functions were also shutting down; probably her kidneys. We tried medication to slow down the tumor growth and help her appetite, but she only vomited more. She began to live in her litter box, getting filth all over her, something a healthy cat does not do. Upon hearing of her lack of response to the medication, our Vet recommended what we had been thinking - it was time to put Soot down.

I feel right about our decision to end her life. My personal views also favor euthanasia for people, so it's not surprising that I would be comfortable with ending a pet's life. But still, I don't take it lightly, ending another being's life.

Soot as a kitten

Having her put down brought back all kinds of memories. I got Soot when I was in my mid-20's, living in an old brewery in Columbus, Ohio, Der Zimpfer Street Brewery. Mid-20's! I was just a baby! I had another kitty, Kahlua, that I had gotten when I was in college (Kahlua lived to be almost 19!), and a black lab named Lajka. I picked up Soot on a whim, thinking she would be a good companion to Kahlua. Turned out that those two cats wanted to have nothing to do with each other!

I intended Soot to be an indoor cat, so I had her front claws removed when she started scratching the couch. Although I don't plan to get another cat, if I ever did, I would not remove its claws. I still recall how awful I felt when I got poor little Soot, just a kitten, back from the Vet with her paws wrapped up. Although Soot bounced back from the surgery, I felt like I had mutilated her (which I had).

Soot did get outside a few times, much to her consternation. Once, in the brewery house, Soot jumped out of the 2nd story window, I suppose because she saw a bird or a squirrel out there. I found her hunkered down in the tall grass beside the house, scared to death. I don't think she moved more than a foot from where she landed! She got out of the house once in Boulder too. We found her under the back porch after she had spent a night outside, fortunately in the warm months.

Soot made it through three dogs; Lajka (who passed away in 1995), Mushka (who passed away this summer) and Strelka. She didn't like any of the dogs except Strelka. They got along well, having many staring contests in my office while I worked. I am sure Strleka will notice Soot's absence.

Soot made it through many boyfriends, although I am confident the current one is the last one! Although she didn't like most men, Soot took to Jesper right away.

Soot, feeling comfortable enough with Jesper to pose for the camera

Soot survived two moves; one to Cleveland and one to Boulder. She did not like Cleveland, but once I moved her out to Boulder, she came out of her shell and became a much more social cat. She usually slept with us, especially in the winter. It is amazing to me how much room a 10 pound animal can take up on a bed!

Soot under the covers

I am glad she came out of her shell and had a few good years as an interactive member of the family.

Farewell Soot.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Unwelcome Guests

We get a lot of guests, being that we live in such a desirable place (Boulder). Most of them, we like and are happy to host.

But sometimes, some guests,....

Well you know the type.

They assume they can come.

They stay too long.

They bring their friends (friends we don't like)

They eat everything in sight.

They make a HUGE mess and don't clean up after themselves.


Jesper and I are cracking down on these unwelcome guests!

Note to our human guests! We love having each and every one of you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cynthia's Birthday Celebration

Last night, a gaggle of hip, healthy Boulderites gathered at Zolo Southwestern Grill to celebrate Cynthia's 48th Birthday!

Part of our large group

Cynthia may cringe that I posted her age, but I hope she's proud. She's beautiful, super fit and youthful.

Cynthia looking so young, Jesper is compelled to serenade her!

It was a great time and I hope Cynthia feels special, 'cause she is! I guess Jesper is special too!

Dana and Cynthia making a Jesper Sandwich