Sunday, November 30, 2008

Recent doings that I have neglected to report

- Build-your-own-tacos dinner for nine at Barb's last weekend...

- Pasta-and-amazing-meatballs dinner at Sarah and Andy's the evening before Thanksgiving...

- A long-delayed Moulin-Rouge-and-champagne night last night...

- A visit from the long-elusive Steve...

- And much lounging and relaxing and reading and otherwise doing absolutely nothing.

Yeah. Life's been good.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Let the holidays begin

Well, Thanksgiving at the Schuers' was yum. We feasted upon succulent turkey and all its traditional accompaniments with great enthusiasm. Plus they already have their tree up and the Christmas music going, so we couldn't help but start to feel Christmas-y!
The day after Thanksgiving, however, is sometimes a troublesome day. Part of me wants to sit and watch Joan Crawford movies on Turner Classic Movies in my pajamas all day, and part of me is stir crazy and just wants out.
Thus it was for Scott and me yesterday. We were starting to get cantankerous and testy by the time the sun started to go down, when to my astonishment Scott piled us both into the car and headed off somewhere on impulse.
We ended up in the magical little nexus of Campus Martius in downtown Detroit, currently scintillating with a massive Christmas tree and a cheerful holiday ice rink, where we joined the skating throng for a while.
My flashless and blurry cell-phone camera produced the above mementos of the evening, after which we retired to Cheli's Chili for barbeque sandwiches and beer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Snap to it!

My mother demonstrates a highly unusual, modern-Danish-design nutcracker.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'm officially confused

Okay, I went to the gas station this evening, and I saw this:

$1.66 per gallon.
One dollar and sixty-six cents.
How is that possible? The world is crumbling around us and gas is as cheap as a bottle of pop! I realize that global economic woes are actually pushing the price of crude oil lower, yes, I get that, sort of, in a big-picture kind of way... but... $1.66? We had some serious woes a month or two ago, too, and prices were astronomical.
I bet if you look at the gas station signs in the background of, say, "Beverly Hills Cop," they'd be somewhere around $1.66!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A wonderful visit home

Thanks to Dad, there are a few pictures from my trip! (Brilliantly, as I may have mentioned, I forgot my own camera.) Of course, several things did not get recorded, e.g.:
- a sisterly evening out on the town, most notably at Hviids Vinstue where the gløgg is transcendent, and ending up eventually, as we always do, at Rytmehans until the wee hours...
- a visit to Stephanie's and Greg's groovy new digs and a delectable and hyggelig dinner of "meatnoodle" (Stephanie says it sounds better in German)...
- many shopping expeditions at Fields and all up and down Strøget...
- the Three Royal Tenors singing an uplifting program at Kildevælds Plejehjem to an enthusiastic audience...
- delicious dinners at various wonderful Copenhagen restaurants...
- a visit to the Little Mermaid at dusk with my mother...
- and, on my last night, a stroll in the twinkling nighttime charm of Christmas Tivoli with Silvia.
Those moments are vivid in my memory, photos or none! But I have picked a few from Dad's collection as well. (There were more, and I love them, and all three of my family members look great in them, but I frankly admit that I didn't include here the ones where I look like the devil incarnate. Sometimes I am decidedly not photogenic!)
Penny arrives at the airport!

Early Christmas presents...

...are the best!

Stephanie, Greg, and I discover julenisser in Tivoli.

Dinner at Herzegovina, also in Tivoli!

Another dinner with friends, this time delicious Peking Duck at the Chinese Tower.

Penny checks in for departure.

And so, alas, do I. For now!

It was a wonderful trip, and I am grateful for my terrific family. Can't wait to be reunited in just a few months... this time in that most of exciting of cities... NYC!
And now I'm home! Back to work tomorrow... but I'm relaxed and happy, so that's okay.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Notes from Copenhagen

Have I only been gone six days? Seems amazing. I've just melted right back into everyday life here at home. Well, if everyday life involved spending too much money on too many things that'll never fit in my suitcase and running around from shop to shop with my high-fashion babe of a sister. (She'll deny that she's high-fashion. Fine. But she can't deny the babe part!)

People congratulate me on our new president wherever I go. But everyone expresses generalized worry about the global economy. There's a window display in the hair salon down the street: that place has always had politically-oriented art installations in the window. This time it's a decrepit clapboard shanty with a sign on it that says "For rent. White House. Term of lease: four to eight years." Oooh boy. That must have been the pre-election display: looks as though they're preparing a new one now. And poor Obama certainly has high expectations heaped on him. I was talking to an old family friend, Kirsten, who remarked: "Well, the U.S. just really needs nationalized health care. But it'll be all right: Barack Obama will be taking care of that, I'm sure." Hope he's got plenty of pixie dust!

Anyway, much running around Copenhagen, and then much lolling about on the couch in the evenings. That's what I've been up to. Which works for me. I'm trying not to think about the work e-mail that's probably piling up... and the training sessions I'm missing... yikes! Yes, definitely trying not to think about that.

And where are the pictures? Nowhere! I forgot my digital camera at home. So I'm taking pictures on a piece of ancient photographic equipment called a Disposable Camera. I keep holding it out in front of me instead of peering through the little hole. And remember the quaint old business of actually winding film forward? Click-click-click! 

Headed for Tivoli tonight. Hurrah! Maybe I'll take a nap first. Nothing like living the life of Riley. Or the life of Larsen. Whatever. Nothing like it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Let's hear that again!

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

"It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

"It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

"It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

"It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

"I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and hes fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

"I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

"I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nations next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

"To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

"But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

"I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.
It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth.

"This is your victory.

"I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor's bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

"There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it's been done in America for 221 years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

"What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

"So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people. Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours: We are not enemies, but friends; though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

"And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

"For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.
This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

"She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

"And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

"At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

"When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

"When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

"She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

"A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

"America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

"This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes we can.

"Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Who's headed for the Emerald City?

Thanks, Jim... this was too good not to post!

We're headed off to Barb's for Election Night celebration... or Election Night depression, of course. But...? Maybe outright optimism is in order this time...?

Monday, November 3, 2008

And it's lo-o-o-o-o-o-ng gone!

Barack is hitting this one out of the park! I just know it.
Tomorrow is going to be a beautiful day.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

My Christmas Ornaments Exchange contribution is done!

A while ago, I posted my quest for ideas for what I should submit for the ornament exchange. I ended up making flettede julehjerter, woven paper Christmas hearts that are a Danish Christmas tradition.
The earliest one anyone has found is from 1871, among the many elegant paper clippings made by the illustrious Hans Christian Andersen, but no one knows whether he came up with the idea or whether people were already making them at the time. All we know is that by the 1880s they had sprouted paper handles and were hanging on Danish Christmas trees everywhere. When I was a kid, I remember struggling at the Christmas crafts tables at kindergarten and at primary school, desperately trying to make them come out right without getting all tangled up in paper or tearing them to shreds!
This time, after some initial frustration, I managed to get the hang of it and make 28 of them (some more torn or crumpled than others), and I'm handing them over to Patsy in seven little cardboard folders containing four each, along with instructions on how to make them.
Hurrah! I did it! And almost on time, too!
Wanna make some? Here's how! (The written instructions are in really bad Danglish, so ignore that and just follow the diagram!)