Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pretty Flower or Evil Menace?

Every spring as we welcome the longer days and the warmer temperatures, we also welcome all things that grow.  The vast majority of this is a good thing.  That first crocus that pops from the ground, and then the daffodils and tulips… ooo so pretty!  We excitedly bend down to sniff the hyacinth and point out each perfect little flower.  Lilacs are blooming every where and adding a wonderful fragrance to the air.  But alas, amongst all the beauty, there is this one seemingly innocent creature...


Oh sure, it introduces itself as a pretty little yellow flower but beneath those little yellow petals lurks evil.  Ladies and gentlemen, I speak of the dandelion.  And oh what a lion it is.  You see, this little lion does not come alone, nor is it particularly dandy. 


No, dandelion are like deer; where there is one, there are usually more…


And so, if one would prefer to have  a lawn that is just grass, without these menacing little buds, one must find a way to slay the lion.   There’s an app for that!  No wait, that was a previous post.  There’s no app for this.  There is, however, a tool!! 


The wonderful folks at Fiskars (yep, same as the scissors) have made a handy, perhaps one might even say ‘dandy’, tool to slay the lion, or at least, look good trying.  Allow me to share the product description from Fiskar’s own website:  

There's bad blood between you and those weeds. Get the upper-hand in the battle for the perfect lawn, with the UpRoot® Weed and Root Remover. There's no messing around with this tool. Extra-long, razor sharp stainless claws deeply penetrate the soil to grab these delinquent growths at the root. Hard to fathom, but it almost makes removing dandelions fun. A few passes and you'll be an old pro. The weed ejection feature is effective and satisfying. Bright orange markings make it easy to find in the grass if you set it down for a victory dance.

Now, allow me to air a grievance.  Notice the photo above.  Notice how there is ONE, just ONE dandelion plant on that lawn.  And ooooo goody, they got it!  All is safe again on the lawn and one can simply sit back and enjoy the rest of the summer.  HA! 

We own the tool you see above.  I use it.  Daily.  There are little holes all over the lawn.   There are buckets and bags full of pulled dandelions.  By the sheer volume of what has been pulled from the ground, and the huge block of time that I have spent using the tool, one would think, at this point, I’d be doing a victory dance.  One would be wrong.  

Why?  Because you never really and truly know how many dandelions have invaded your lawn until the day comes that you decide to remove them.  One at a time.  With a tool.


We live on a corner property.  There are no fewer than 5 homes that have windows directly facing our yard.   Much the same way we notice the neighbor who washes his already clean car seemingly 2-3 times per week, I am now convinced that each time I am in the yard, pulling dandelions, there is a neighbor saying to his spouse… “hey honey, you gotta come see this… she’s doing it again!”  And then they bust into fits of laughter, pointing and saying… “crazy american”.  

And yet, for unknown reasons, there is some part of me that cannot stop trying to slay the lions.  Their yellowness taunts me, day in and day out… “come on, just try to get us all!”  I think some small part of me must be convinced that if I pull just the right one, the rest will cower in fear and leave for good. 

Must… pull… one… more…

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


For the native English speakers out there, when you hear SOL, what’s the first thing that springs to mind?   Yeah, not so good, right?

Well, when that phrase comes up in Danish, it means something entirely different.  In this case, SOL means Sundhed og Livsstil, or in English (yeah back to that again), Health and Lifestyle, or more succinctly, Healthy Lifestyle.  And this, my friends, is what I’ve been trying to do for the last few months.


As my blogging friend, Stephanie, said one day on Facebook… “There’s an app for that; I’ll do anything for an app!”  If you’re lost and don’t know what an “app” actually is, well, it’s a program that runs on your mobile phone and helps keep you motivated to do things.  Basically, it’s life as a video game, with bells, whistles, badges and achievements for things you really should be doing anyway, but are incredibly more motivated to do when it means you can share with the world that “Hey, I walked 5 Km today” and get instant feedback from your friends.   So yes, I’m a sucker for a good app.

And so, for the past 2 months or so, I’ve been spamming my Facebook friends with little maps of my walking and cycling routes.  I know they probably don’t care and have probably hidden the app from their feed.  And, I’m sure some are secretly hating me because I’m making them feel guilty for sitting at their computer.  They’ll get over it. :)

I turn on the app when I leave the house and start walking/cycling and when I get home, I tell it to stop running and it creates a great little map of my route, telling me exactly how far I went and how long it took me.  How cool is that?  Oh sure, I could go out and walk and never really know the exact distance of my journey, but this is way cooler, and I’m amused by it so it keeps me motivated and isn’t that what it’s all about?

As for the danish SOL… the local county has a program encompassing all sorts of things to try to make us all healthier.  As part of the SOL program, there is a group of women that get together to go cycling every Tuesday evening.  The county apparently provides the extremely fashionable bright yellow reflective vests we all had to wear.  And, since it doesn’t get dark here until about 10pm at this time of year, we can get in quite a bit of cycling while we still have daylight.  Tonight was my first ride with this group but I don’t think it will be my last.  Though I do think they tricked me!  I could’ve sworn I had read that their trips were approximately 10 Km, but tonight we did that one way, and there was no one waiting at the other end to drive us back!  All I can say is that I either need more padding on my seat or in my shorts in order to survive these trips that should eliminate some of my own natural padding, if all goes well.

Now about those accomplishments.  The app tracks it all!  And I am pleased to say that, in the month of April, I accomplished the following:

  • Walking – 89.55 Km (55.64 Miles)
  • Cycling – 30.22 km (18.77 Miles)
  • Zumba Class – 3 times

And, since I take both dogs when I’m walking, I have the added benefit of upper arm strength training while I try to keep Lexi walking on my left and Zoe walking on my right, at the same speed, without stopping to sniff every little silly weed/shrub/blade of grass along the way.   Dog Training 101 – Hey, maybe there’s an app for that!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

One-sided Harmony


Every six months or so, I go in to see the doctor for what they refer to as a ‘control’ visit.  It’s basically just a check-up to be sure I’m doing okay.  The visit unnerves me a bit because of its pure simplicity.  The doctor talks to me, does a brief exam, talks to me a bit more, sends me home.  No complicated scanning procedures or tests.  But, here’s the thing, I WANT the tests.  PROVE to me that I’m okay, damn it!

So, on my last control visit, I asked them if and when they would ever do some sort of additional testing or scanning.  As it turns out, 2 years after the initial surgery is when they do a mammogram and thus, it was scheduled.  Keep in mind that the last time I had one of these tests, it was because I had found a lump, and the day of the test went downhill quickly as my worst fears were realized.  I was hoping for better results this time around.

I arrived a bit early for my test and figured I’d have to sit and wait awhile, but as it turns out, they were ready for me.  Really?  In a hospital?  No waiting?  Score!  The nurse (or whatever they call the person who runs the machine) did her thing, squashing and shoving my one remaining boob between the plates to get the pictures. 

I wonder, if I had to pay for any of this, would it be half price? 

After the pictures were taken, I was led into the next room where the doctor would examine me, so up on the table I went.  And now I had to wait.  But this wait was understandable because now some doctor somewhere was looking at the pictures to make sure everything was okay.   After a bit, the Doc arrived to do some ultrasound tests.  I don’t know if this is something everyone gets or if I’m just special because of my history! 

Up until this point, I was doing really well using my Danish and not using my English.  I was quite proud of myself, that is, until the Doc said something completely incomprehensible at which point I just had to tell him, in Danish… “I cannot understand you”.   Given the importance of the proceedings, there comes a time when perhaps switching to English is a good idea, and this was that moment.  And then he told me, in English, what he had said…

“Your breast tissue is harmonic.”

Hmm.  Really?  I mean, I know I grew up with two music teachers for parents, but I had no idea their influence reached far enough to make my breast tissue harmonic!  So yes, ladies and gentlemen, you heard it here first… my boob can sing.  Top that. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Food Nostalgia



Living outside the US means that many of the foods I used to love, and some I never knew I loved until I couldn’t have them, are no longer available to me.  I would love to be able to claim that there are all kinds of wonderful things here to replace the things I miss, but this is Denmark, and other than a really expensive Michelin restaurant and a breakfast pastry, let’s face it, this country isn’t known for it’s food.

To fully understand the Mac & Cheese story, I have to go back to about one week before Christmas.  Ole and I were in a grocery store that has a British/American section.  Comparatively speaking, a rather small section considering the size of the two countries it represents, but I digress.  In that section were boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, the actual thing, and it could have been mine for some insane price.  I don’t recall the exact pricing, but it definitely came out to more than $5 per box.  I know this only  because I was pointing out to Ole that I could buy Mac & Cheese boxes in the states for 99 cents.  Perhaps not the actual Kraft box, but still!  And, he didn’t really believe me and reminded me that it has probably been at least 5 years since I bought a box of Mac & Cheese. 

We then took our whirlwind, snow-packed trip to the Northeastern US for Christmas with the family and we, of course, went to a few stores while we were there.  One of which was Target.  Ahhh Target, how I miss you.  Lo and behold, there it was… 99 cent Mac & Cheese.  I probably would’ve let it sit on the shelf after pointing it out to Ole, but he insisted I bring home a few boxes, and so I did.

You have to understand that when I was a kid, the tradition in our family was that on your birthday, you got to have your “favorite” dinner.  My brothers usually chose lasagna, which meant several hours of prep work by my mother.  Me?  I chose Macaroni and Cheese and no, not some home-made version.  It had to be the bright orange stuff that comes out of the box!  (Yeah, my Mother got off easy on that one!)  Mac & Cheese was my FAVORITE dinner.  But, that was probably between ages 5 and 10.

So, here I am, back from our Christmas trip, and I have 4 boxes of Mac & Cheese.  I wasn’t overly excited about it because it’s been years since I’ve had it, and I pretty much assumed that whenever I did get around to making it, it wouldn’t be as good as I remembered it.  When something has that much history, and that much hype, it rarely lives up to it’s promise.

But tonight… tonight I had Mac & Cheese.  By myself.  And it was… YUMMY!   Now all I can think is – why did I only bring back 4 boxes?????

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