Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coloring My World

3.5 years ago, prior to my arrival, Ole moved into our house and, with the help of his dad, painted the entire house in good old painter's white. The great plan was that when I arrived, we would then choose some actual paint with which to decorate the place. Up until a month ago, everything was still white. Shocking, no?

An interior decorator I am most definitely not! I find the process of picking paint colors, rugs, curtains, and other associated knick-knacks to be excruciatingly painful. On the other hand, laying on the sofa staring at blank white walls is equally painful, and I just couldn't take it anymore. So off to the paint store we went - finally!

When you shop for paint in the US, you will be instantly overwhelmed with racks and racks of little 2x1 colored squares, on strips, from which to choose. Each color will have a carefully chosen name which is just about as relevant to the actual color as the names typically chosen for lipstick. Should you choose "autumn pumpkin" or "fireball sunset"? Sure, both are some shade related to orange, but they can't just call it orange as there are probably 500 strips of color that all fall somewhere between yellow and red and labeling them Orange 1, Orange 2, etc., would just bore people.

But the names serve another purpose - they let you choose your color based on a feeling. Autumn Pumpkin evokes memories of wandering a field of pumpkins in October, picking those perfect specimens that will then be carefully carved, adorned with a candle, and left to rot on your front porch until some teenagers come along to smash them in the street. Ahh, sweet pumpkins. If you want to have this memory of Halloweens gone-by everyday, then Autumn Pumpkin may just be for you! But perhaps a 'Fireball Sunset" is more to your liking. Perhaps you live where you don't ever get to see a proper sunset and would like to experience that feeling each evening in your living room. The bottom line is that Orange #4 just doesn't quite give you that same ease of choice - it has no meaning, and therefore, no memories - 'tis just a color. And without feelings, the process of choosing is just too difficult!

I thought everything would be the same here in DK. I was wrong. We arrived at the paint store only to find that there were no walls of paint chips. There weren't any books full of pictures of what Mango Mango could do for your living room, or what Apricot Dream could do for your kitchen. There was just a dude behind the counter and walls of nondescript buckets of paint. We went to the counter and the dude handed us a fandeck of the NCS color system - 1700+ colors. All without names. All simply labeled with the official NCS color codes.

It's a very mathematical system they've designed; apparently the Swedes are responsible. The color codes look like this: S 3010-G50Y, which I suppose is very helpful if you're trying to match the new carpet you purchased in S 3010-G10Y. Yep, exactly. To start this process, I had a general idea of what I wanted. For my office, I was looking for something in a terracotta type color, and for our living room, I wanted some sort of sage green. So I spun the deck, flipped back and forth, and did my best to make some choices. We left the store with 3 sample bottles of colors related to orange, and 3 samples of colors related to green.

We splashed my office walls with the 3 shades of orange so that I could sit and stare at them for a day and see which appealed to me the most. That plan worked out quite well and I was able to pick 1 of the 3 - woohoo! We splashed the living room with 3 shades of green, and that didn't really go as planned. One was too dark, one was too 1983 and the other was just ugly. Total strike-out. The next day, Ole went back to get the orange I had chosen, and to get 2 more samples of greens. The two new samples were equally horrible, but they also didn't match to the chips I had seen and we were convinced they hadn't been mixed correctly. At this point, I was just so frustrated by the process.

Off to the internet I went, searching for pictures that would speak to me by people who do such things as paint their kitchen and then put it on the web for all to see with the name of the paint. I found a forum at gardenweb full of green painted rooms and I learned that Benjamin Moore's Saybrook Sage seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, if only I could purchase BM paint. But I can't. But... Benjamin Moore happens to be the licensed seller of the NCS paint line within the United States, so I decided that if I could call a BM retailer, he would surely know how Saybook Sage translated to an NCS color code. He didn't, but he did hook me up with a phone number for the Benjamin Moore company's service group and that was my next call. This man was initially not so helpful... "It is BM's policy that we cannot translate our colors to other manufacturers". Ahh, capitalism at it's best. I reverted to my most desperate voice and explained to the man that I was living in Denmark and if I could purchase his product, I most definitely would do so, but unfortunately I cannot and I am desperate to use his company's color, if only I could figure out what it is, but I'm a total wreck and please, oh please, Mr. Benjamin Moore rep, help me out here! It worked. He said they likely have the NCS colors somewhere in his offices and while it wouldn't be exact, he was willing to give it a go and see if he could eyeball the closest color match. He would call me back. Needless to say, I was skeptical that I would hear anything from him and went on to Plan B.

I found a number for an NCS agent in the New Jersey. I called, he answered, he was British. Weird. I went through my whole plea for help again. I explained what Benjamin Moore had told me. The NJ Brit felt my pain and was sure he could help. He took my phone number and said he'd call me back in 10 minutes. Wonder upon wonders, he did. He then presented me with 2 choices: S3010-G40Y and S3010-G50Y. I thanked him profusely, carefully wrote down the numbers and handed them to Ole to go fetch some paint. 5 Minutes later, he called again, this time being more decisive and said go with the 50Y over the 40Y. It sealed the deal. Then, surprise, surprise, while Ole was driving to the paint shop, the Benjamin Moore rep actually called me back with what he had decided would be the closest match. His pick? S3010-G50Y. Woohoo, we were on to something and both reps had chosen the same!

Ole fetched, we splashed, we loved, decision made. Our living room is now Benjamin Moore Saybrook Sage, or NCS S3010-G50Y. You decide which sounds more homey.

I don't yet have any pictures to share of the living room as the room isn't really decorated yet for the new color scheme and I'd rather show off a finished product. However, I will share with you my wonderful new 'hyggelig' office - it's not for everyone, but I happen to love it!

And yes, there is a desk in the office as well, but pictures of desks are boring!

In other news...
Today is treatment day. This is my first of 3 Taxotere (Docetaxel) treatments. I have no idea how it will go or how it will make me feel - we'll have to wait and see. Catch you on the other side of the drip!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Coffee and Diapers and ... Seriously?

I was curious so I headed over to google in an attempt to learn what are the most popular grocery items. Now, going with the theory that the first link is the best, I was taken to the following page of bestselling items under the category of Grocery, at Amazon.com.


I'll give you a few minutes to peruse that list - hurry back!


Oh good, you're back. If you're like me, this particular list will raise more questions than answers. Let's review.

The #1 item is coffee. That in itself isn't really a surprise. The interesting part is that the #1 coffee on amazon comes in 'frustration-free packaging'. I can't remember ever becoming frustrated when attempting to open a package of coffee, and remember, this is before my first cup of the day. Annoyed perhaps, that a new bag must be opened, but not frustrated. If your 'normal' coffee ends up causing you frustration, perhaps you're buying the wrong brand, or maybe you need some help - let's be honest, is coffee really the source of your frustration?

I can't help but picture some woman with frazzled hair answering the doorbell to receive that package, tearing into the coffee (minus the normal frustration) and just snorting the ground up coffee, thereby skipping the entire brewing process - which, mind you, could be somewhat frustrating.

So we move onto #2 -some sort of accessory for a Braun shaver that apparently "leaves your shaver thoroughly and hygienically clean for a better shaving performance every day". Really. There goes my theory of the frazzled woman - apparently it's metrosexual men that are shopping for coffee at Amazon. And thingies for their shavers. If these thingies are the #2 item, these men are either incredibly hairy, hence requiring the daily changing of this item and purchase of so many of these, or incredibly concerned about the cleanliness of their Braun shavers. You decide.

Then there's some more coffee -with frustrating packaging I assume - then we move on to item #4 - baby wipes. Okay, now this one at least makes some sense. Anyone with a baby needs them and I suppose you go through them rather quickly. I'm down with that.

More coffee... more baby wipes... some fruit roll-ups which, I guess, are for said babies... now we get to the weight loss pills. No surprise there, honestly, you just had a baby, right?

Now we get some sort of powdered product, typically found at GNC. The object of this drink is "For maintaining and increasing lean muscle mass". Not really sure if it's the hairy men or the frazzle-haired new moms buying this one. I'm gonna assume it's the hairy men.

More baby wipes, more coffee, more shaving accessories.. hmm.. #12 - Organic chocolate coconut bar. Maybe it's sold only on Amazon?

Coffee, coffee, coffee, wipes, wipes... white strips (#18) and toothbrushes (#19)! Ahh, clean teeth does kind of go with the shaving obsession. Clean teeth, white teeth, check.

More wipes, more coffee... diapers! Where there are baby wipes, there are diapers.

#23 -
Let's move on... As we continue further down the list of the top 100, there seems to be an overall theme of babies and coffee with the occasional personal care item thrown in here and there. #33 is Prilosec - acid reducer. Considering that about 20 of the top 30 are coffee, it's no surprise that acid-reducer may be needed, particularly if you consider these coffee drinkers also have babies.

Then we get to #56 - "K-Y Intense Arousal Gel For Her". Seriously? At this point, I'm going to recommend that our frazzle-haired woman and her hairy, metrosexual husband may want to focus their attention elsewhere. Really. Perhaps this is what got you into this whole baby mess in the first place.

Now, if you're like me (which you probably won't admit to if you are, and who could blame you) as you scrolled through this list of the 100 most popular grocery items, you learned something. I'm not sure if you learned something about humanity in general, or just Amazon shoppers, but chances are you noticed that someone, somewhere has an obsession with coconut flavored products, there are many people purchasing baby wipes at amazon, and coffee. Who knew this many people purchased their coffee, in bulk, via the internet. Oh, and they shave - often.

But nothing jumped out at me quite like #74.

Ladies and gentleman - I present to you - the most ridiculous and insulting representation of an American president - ever...

Chia Obama Handmade Decorative Planter

I kid you not - it's an Obama chia-pet that, in truth, looks nothing like Obama. If I were president and that were me, I'd be using that power of office thing to get that representation of me off the market. Does anyone need to be growing weeds out of the president's head? And, oh look... it comes in both 'happy' and 'determined' - maybe I'll buy both so I can put the appropriate Obama chia-head in my office window each day.

After that item appeared, I pretty much gave up on the rest of the list. The shock value of that alone made me close the browser.

And now that I've looked at the list again, all the way, my whole hairy man theory is out the window...

#98 - Rogaine for Men Hair Regrowth Treatment

Or maybe the only place he's missing hair is on his head.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Doggy Play Dates

Depending on how you look at things - we either don't have kids, or we do, and it all comes down to whether or not you count the 4-legged variety as kids. My 4-legged creatures are my kids. Current tally - 2 cats, 2 dogs.

Now the cats are entertaining in their own way and they don't ask much of us - some food, some water, and someone to clean their toilet on a regular basis. It doesn't hurt to occasionally give them a wee bit of roasted chicken or some juice from a tuna can. These are the things that make cats happy. Mr. Pete is the strong silent type, pretty much a pillow with legs. The only time he makes any noise at all is if you step on him, or attempt to give him a bath, both of which I have done - one turned out a bit better than the other. I'll let you guess which one. Mr. Coal, on the other hand, always has something to say, we just don't know what. If any living being passes his line of site, he'll speak. It could be a happy sounding meow, it could be a "yikes, where did you come from?" howl, or, when he really wants to freak us out, he resorts to the middle of the night 'I see cat fairies' chirps howls and other assorted noises. These are much more guttural, and bit creepy. I think he just likes to hear himself speak. It's rather comforting to me that he does talk so much as he is approximately 17 years of age and if he's speaking, he's breathing! All in all, however, the cats are simple.

(Side note - in the course of writing the above paragraph, Mr. Coal has had an entire conversation at the other end of the house - either with one of the dogs, or himself, I'm not entirely sure.)

The other two creatures, Miss Zoe and Miss Lexi, are not so simple and are far more demanding. They need entertainment. And if you think dogs can't tell time, or have no concept of time, you'd be wrong. Zoe and Lexi know exactly what time their daddy is supposed to be home from work, and they know when it's 9pm. They can be sleeping peacefully, but if that clock ticks just a bit over the 9pm mark - they're wide awake and crawling all over us. Why? It's doggy play date time!

It used to be that each evening, around 9pm or so, we'd take them for a walk around the 'hood. It was important to us that we got out for the walk before 10pm because that's when the light on the bike path gets turned off - you try to see two black dogs on leashes, in the darkness of a danish winter, and you'll agree that a lit path is important.

Then along came Stella. Stella is a yellow lab who lives in the 'hood. Stella is Zoe and Lexi's BFF and as Stella went from small puppy to large dog, our walks went from casually strolling around the block to meeting over in a field where all 3 could run wild. The beginning of the official doggy play date. Now, it's important to understand that Stella's mom is in the military, doesn't take no for an answer, and will tell it like it is. Why do you need to know this?

Because, also in the 'hood, is Bella. Miss Bella is the about 6 months younger than Zoe and is a chocolate lab. Unfortunately for Bella, she doesn't seem to get out much. We watched her go from sweet chubby puppy to sweet chubby doggy - a dog that desperately needs exercise. Each evening on our way to the field, we pass Bella's house, and more often than not, Bella is on her outdoor lead, in the driveway, and she always does the Bella dance when she sees us pass. The Bella dance involves twisting the hind legs back and forth (like a kid who's gotta pee), swinging the tail wildly and high-stepping with the front paws. But each time we tried to hint to Bella's dad that Bella should come out and play with us, it never worked. Stella's mom, on the other hand, well - let's just say that I think she flat out told Bella's dad that Bella was getting fat, needed exercise, and to be at the field at 9pm. Amazingly enough - it worked! No, Bella doesn't come every night, but if I see her 2 times in one week, I'm thrilled for her and you can just see how happy she is to be out playing with friends!

So, it's become a thing. Our doggy play dates. We're always recruiting - we'll tell any dog owner we see - the more, the merrier! About 2-3 weeks ago, just as doggy play date was ending - dogs all leashed for the stroll home, fat pink tongues hanging wildly from happy mouths (the dogs, not the owners) - a small speck appeared in the distance. One tall man, one small yellow labrador puppy. 9 weeks old. Awwwww! Stella mom wasted no time and got right to the recruiting - and we now have the first 'boy' dog of the doggy play date pack, Sofus.

If you're ever in Karup around 9pm, and you have a dog, head for the field. You'll find us, and a whole pack of very happy dogs.

And now, I'll leave you with a few pics of the crew in action (unfortunately, the night I had my camera, Bella was not in attendance so she's not pictured!)...

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