Thursday, October 30, 2008
"In the human world, abundance does not happen automatically. It is created when we have the sense to choose community, to come together to celebrate and share our common store. When the scare resource is money or love or power or words, the true law of life is that we generate more of whatever seems scarce by trusting its supply and passing it around. Authentic abundance does not lie in secured stockpiles of food or cash or influence or affection but in belonging to a community where we can give those goods to others who need them--and receive them from others when we are in need." I just finished reading a phenomenal book called Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, by Parker J. Palmer. It was truly one of the most inspirational books I've ever read, second only to Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle. The quotation above is taken from the last chapter of Palmer's book, and I find it meaningful on so many levels. First, because it is fall, and we are halfway between Canadian and American thanksgivings and B and I are inspired to make pumpkin pie from scratch this weekend (if we can overcome what seems to be a major pumpkin shortage in the city of Calgary!). Growing up, fall has always meant drawing attention to, thanking God for and reveling in the abundance that is harvest. Thanksgiving dinner was never a private affair in the S household. It simply had to be shared, particularly with one family that has been good friends with my family all my growing up years. The sense of joy in abundance at Thanksgiving dinner was always partly a result of being able to share it in community with our friends and family (and also partly the result of my mum's ability to create a hyggelig, cozy occasion!). Second, this idea of abundance and community makes me think about church. Potluck meals that are key part of all the churches I have attended are a simple example of how abundance is felt and shared amongst people at church. But of course, it also goes much deeper. Within our spiritual family, we should feel the abundance of God's grace as we celebrate communion together and learn about each other's spiritual walks. This, of course, does not always happen. When we come to church with the idea in mind to rather hoard all of our energy to ourselves, rather than sharing it, everyone loses. The abundance that SHOULD be church then does not exist. In addition, principles that Jesus preaches include sharing with those who have less, rather than hoarding for one's self. If every one did that, we would not need the social safety nets that countries create, to greater and lesser degrees, to protect the weak and needy. Finally, abundance as the result of community reminds me of another book that I am reading at present: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver, another of my favourite writers. Kingsolver writes about her and her family's experience of buying all of their food locally for one whole year, and the joys and difficulties of accomplishing this goal. One of the messages that Kingsolver relays is that when consumers buy their food locally--well, when they buy ANY products locally--they are building into a small community of producers. Who in turn support the community further, creating an effect where all locals benefit. Shopping locally, for food as the Kingsolver family does, or in whatever way, again is an illustration of abundance occuring within a community. If we all are willing to pay just a little bit more for a carrot that is grown in our home area, rather than being cheap and buying carrots from Mexico (for a very small example), think about how this could spread and develop local markets, rather than being spread over the 1000s of kilometers to Mexico, where the carrot producers there see very little of the actual money you spent at the grocery store. Anyway, those are just some thoughts I've been having as of late. Share the celebration of Thanksgiving with others; When a man asks for your coat, give him your shirt too; Shop locally!
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
There's a song my mum sings sometimes "I like my pants, I like my pants, my pants are so comfortably much like me" (or something like that).
Well I like my shoes. I'm glad I've seen Denmark in them. They are Clarks, an English brand of shoes, and they are very comfortable for walking, as well as being just the kind of style that I like. And I can wear them with jeans, or with a skirt to dress up.
I also like my boots. I bought these boots before we went to England, and they have served me very well, being wide enough for my wide-for-a-woman feet (they're actually men's boots), being waterproof, and very comfortable. They're Scarpas, made in Italy. And they've seen a lot of Denmark now as well as a lot of England!
Yesterday morning we left A&J's at nine thirty, catching the bus to Randers. There, K met us and we drove back towards Viborg. K stayed for four months ten years ago and I have a lot of good memories of his time with us. It was really good to see him again and see how he has built his life in the past decade. We met K's wife M and their baby K and spent the day with them, seeing some of the sights of Viborg. We went to the Monsted Kalkgruber (chalk caves). They were huge and dark and white and humid and impressive. Then we made a quick entry into the church in Viborg, where K&M were married and where their daughter was baptised. It was a very beautiful, but we came when they were just tuning the organ and there were definitely some sour notes to be fixed! We also walked down the streets in town a bit. Back at their house, we ate chocolate and talked and looked at their new house plans. Then we went out for supper; then back to K's parents' house, where we had coffee and visited with K&M&K and K's grandfather, who we met in Canada at my Bedstemor's 95th birthday. It was a wonderful day spent with Viborg family. I'm so glad we got a chance to visit them here. (But somehow we did not manage to get a photograph of just K&M&K??).
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Yesterday (i gaar)we got a chance to spend some quality time just with A&J, and it was great fun. We learned that Danes picnic anytime, in any weather. We had coffee and cookies in a rain/hailstorm on the way home from Fyrkat in Hobro. Today (i dag) we saw more of the surrounding countryside, where A&J have memories, or where A and I have family connections. We also had a big family supper that was dejlig (lovely; delightful). Tomorrow (i morgen) we leave here, a fact about which I am quite sad, and make our way slowly but surely towards Copenhagen again, making some family and tourist stops on the way. It has been a most wonderful time here in Kastbjerg. The family has taken such good care of us and made us feel really a part, not just odd non-Danish-speaking guests. A&J have been the best hosts we could have hoped for, and we've learned a lot of Danish in the process of getting to know them and their homeland.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Hey all Just thought I would send out a quick update. I "finished" at the archives yesterday--or rather, the archive couldn't find anymore of the files I wanted to see... After I ran out of files, we did a little shopping in Aalborg. We've discovered that the Danes are very very good at making fine things...furniture, kitchenware, dinnerware, candlesticks, plant pots, just pretty small things for homes in general. So we have found a TON of things that we'd love to bring home...but of course we are limited in space and in budget! Also, as we all know, Danish licorice is tasty! (Even Brent thinks so!). The picture above is from Gammel Skagen (pronounced Ska'en). It's the northern most town in Denmark, close to where the two oceans meet (we went there too, pictures to come). Skagen is very beautiful, and here you can see the waves from the Atlantic Ocean crashing into the rocks. It was a very windy day. So today we did some sightseeing with A&J; spent some real quality time with them; worked on our Danish lots and lots. Tomorrow will be similar, and then tomorrow night we have a whole family dinner here before we leave Friday morning for Viborg. Also today, I gave a lecture in R's Grade six class on Me/Canadian history/Danish immigrant history. It went something like this: Canada=big & cold; not many people. English and French fight, East and West fight. Alberta=Rocky Mountains, Prairie, farming. Calgary=big city, 1988 Olympics. History: So, there was fur, fish and timber. Furtrading. English and French fight. Indians (they don't understand "First Nations) lost. Need people to keep the Americans out (which means Alberta is the key to Canadian identity...without us, Canada would be America). CPR: keeps Americans out, connects BC to East. and brings in the all-important Danes. In other words, the CPR was built so that Danish immigrants could come to Alberta. My grandfather was a Dane, came in 1951. Bought a farm in Alberta. My mother was born in Ponoka (not at the Ponoka hospital you blog readers are thinking of...) In conclusion, Canada was created, the CPR was formed, and Alberta exists, all so that Danes, like my grandfather, could come to Alberta (the best province in Canada). That's right, right? Ok...it wasn't quite like that, I'm being a bit facetious. But I wrote it pretty late into the night, so there might have been some...errors... R can correct my faulty history in future classes. ;)
Friday, October 17, 2008
It is Friday night and as we watch A-M and J's favorite tv show (Denmark dance show) I thought I'd write a quick blog and share our week. As the title says, we are starting to settle in here well. Tonight was the first we had a meal at home, with just A-M and J. The past four nights we have either been to other family members houses for supper, or had the whole immediate family here for supper. Suppers with a group of people have lasted as much as four hours, or spending the entire night at the table. A new experiance for us (B at least). This mostly just happens in Canada for special occasions, so perhaps our being here is the cause for such long suppers and that is not the norm. Anyways, leaving off with C and J dropping us off here in Kastbjerg, we took a quick trip around the country with A-M and J, visiting an ancient Viking grave, as well as the town of Mariager, with a quaint little downtown. The last picture on the previous post was a little fountain in the downtown square. The above picture is us climbing around the viking grave to make it to the top. The top picture on this post is the monument on the top, marking its location, as well as warning any entriprenuring farmers that digging the grave up for development is strictly prohibited! The picture below is of the oldest building in Mariager, now used for a resteraunt, and dating back to the 16th Century. It is a wonder that it is still standing, and the crook in its timbers is understandable! The first day we went into Aalborg for K's research A-M and J drove us in and took me around town while K got aquianted with the archives and started her research. It went well with A-M and J considering they knew very little English, and I knew very little Danish. Equiped with a ordbog (dictionary) and lots of patience we made it around town seeing many sites. The picture below is K's archive building, an building designed to look like the adjacent church, but never used by the church. The next day K and I took the bus from Kastbjerg into Aalborg, and have continued to do so each day this week. I have been able to tour the town while Kirstin is in the archives, taking pictures, and sketching buildings and details I find architecturally interesting. The picture below shows were I sat the first morning to sketch the Utzon Center, newly built, and designed by Jorn Utzon, the architect who conceptualized and designed the Sydney Opera House. The photo below is of the main square in Aalborg, a crossing of a number of streets as well as two major pedestrian shopping malls. The brown building with three gables is the pride of the town, a building built in the 17th century by a rich sea merchant, Jens Banks. It is a great example of renaissance architecture and one of the nicest buildings in town. I finish off this blog with a phot of one of the two largest churches in downtown Aalborg. It is called Budolfi Kirken. Supposedly K has some relatives buried in the church, but we were not able to find any record in the church of that. The church is very beautiful, painted white and has many very interesting architectural features. I will do a post some time soon with just photos of the church, as I found many interesting angles and features.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008
We've finally have a reliable source of internet. K's mom's cousin's son's girlfriend has loaned us a nifty little USB device, like a wireless modem, to use while we are here (ever heard of such a thing E?). It means we can have Internet reliably again, so we can blog more :) Briefly, we spent some more time with J and C the last couple days we were still in Copenhagen. The picture above is of Vallø Slot down near Copenhagen. It used to be a boarding house of sorts for rich nobles' unmarried daughters, but now is rented out as apartments for anyone who can afford it. Wouldn't that be neat to tell people you live in a castle! After that C and J took us to see the ocean and we have a lovely picnic down on the rocks near some white cliffs. There was an old church near the cliffs edge that has slowly been falling off the edge, so the congregation has moved to a new church several hundred metres away, but leaving the old church. Pity that a medieval church is falling away, but thus is the way by the ocean. That night was Kulturnatten (Culture Night) in Copenhagen, so we went down to see the happenings. Many musicians were playing, most public buildings were completely open for people to see, and there were lots of people roaming downtown seeing what there was to see. The highlight was going into Tivoli gardens to see the light displays, and taking in a few rides.
Next we started our journey with the family up to north Jutland, but first makings stops at Kolding Hus, and staying a night in Ebeltoft. Kolding Hus is an old castle which had fallen to great ruins, but in recent times a fund has built a museum surrounding the ruins, and have restored much of the fallen walls and roofs to their original state, with modern materials of course. Ebeltoft is located on the ocean, and our room at the hotel had a good view of the water. The hotel restaurant was host to a number of parties the night we arrived, and as such there was a two man band playing "old" style music, much to the chagrin of C and J's oldest son :) The next morning after brunch we walked through the older part of town, and took a tour of the Ship Museum and Glass Museum down near the waters edge. The picture above is from the Glass Museum. One exhibit was a real time glass blower, who sold his work right there. Other exhibits included a study of light through glass, a set of pieces inspired by icebergs and glaciers, and lastly a set of pieces by glass blowers. Afterward we drove up to Kasteberg to where we are staying now. We were sad to see C and J and the family leave, but knew they had a great holiday to go away to. They were headed down through Germany to the southern part of France while the boys had holidays from school. They invited us down sometime, and we may just take them up on the offer :) Much more has happened, but that will have to wait for another blog soon. By B.