Posted in Denmark, Traditions

The Measure of One Year

Denmark, October 2016

I know, I know. Denmark again!

Well this time this blog is about Birthdays. Birthdays in Denmark, that is.

It all starts with the weather. Easy huh? If the weather is nice, then it means that you have been a good boy/girl during the last year. Hmm. Late October. OK. It is a bit cloudy today, but it is not raining. I remarked to my wife, what a good boy, I’ve been this year! Yes, it nice now, but just after Midnight, it poured Cats and Dogs outside!

I was asleep, and I slept like a rock. Lucky for me.

The next thing has to do with the celebration. Most people will invite their friends/relatives to their party, where the birthday person pays. Not a bad deal, if you are a guest, huh?

If I had been at work, I would be expected, as per custom, to either bring breakfast rolls, butter and other toppings, or a cake. Again it is the Birthday person, who is paying here and loving it, let me tell you!

When it is your Birthday in Denmark, there are flags everywhere. Usually Danish Flags, but there might be a foreign flag or two, depending on the patchwork-ness of the family. Flags will also be lining the walkway up to your house/flat, and will adorn the table when the feasting occurs.

You might get a telephone call or two, like I just did from my Mother in-law. I didn’t promise her anything more than possibly fetching her for the Birthday Celebration on Saturday, only having to make a round trip of 104km. Just a walk in the park.

When all the dust has settled, and the birthday candles have burned down into the cake, it’ll be time for rest and relaxation. If this year is anything like the other years, then I’ll probably be allowed to clean the kitchen, and empty the dishwasher, at least I’ll insist on it, with today being my special day!

For those unlucky people who are experiencing bad weather on their Birthday, then some might go as far as looking up their time of birth on their birth certificate, or thinking, like me, that I was born in another time zone, 9 hours back in time in California. The weather is almost always nice in Los Angeles, which might have been a good excuse to use, if  it hadn’t been nice in advance?

Oh, just one more thing, before I go. All of the buses in Denmark are adorned with Danish Flags today. It was nice of all of the bus companies in this Country to honor one of their Non-Native Sons!



OK. For the rest of you non-Danish speakers, then here is the translation:

“Why do the buses have Flags today? Today the 24th of October is United Nations Day!”

I’ll graciously share the honor this year……………………………

Posted in Cooking, Denmark, USA

Almost Hash, Something or Other?

Back in California, there were things that I had forgotten about. Foods that only grazed my memory, when my Sister made them.

“Wasn’t that?”I asked, a bit uncertain if I had guessed correctly.

“Yes”, she replied. “Don’t you remember Mom making that?”

Yes. No. Maybe. What Mom did over 40 years ago seems a bit too blurry to remember with my mature brain.

Mature is a word to use, when some people object to using “Old”.

My Brother in-law looked in their Freezer. “What about……?”

“What is that?” Wonder Dog would’ve asked, if he had the power of speech.

“That is………………..” It tasted good, and so easy to make as well.

“Don’t you have that in Denmark?” he asked.

I scratched my head in a figurative way. “Nope. Nada. Nej. Nyet!”

Back home in Denmark, I pondered making Dinner. “What about……?” I asked my wife. “Yes”, she said, “and when you  made them from scratch, they are so much healthier!”

I looked at the pages in English, then the pages in Danish. I chose one or two recipes, then scrambled them together like eggs.

“Pour oil onto the pan” Check!

“Put the ……………… onto the oil” Check!

Right there, it should have said, “Don’t leave the room, or else!”

The room began to fill with smoke, and even the range hood couldn’t keep up.

“Almost finished with………..Dear”, I told my wife.

To make certain that I would record this for posterity, I whipped out the old iPhone 4 and snapped a photo, just because.


“Dinner’s Ready” I called out.

“Wow” remarked my wife. “Another way to make potatoes. What were they called again?”

“Hash Blacks”, I replied

“Shouldn’t that be Hash Browns?”, she asked.

“Yes. Almost”…………………………

Posted in Denmark, Humor, Traditions

My Brother In-Law’s Brother In-Law

Not long after I moved to Denmark, aka Paradise on Earth according to my Sister In-Law, I was invited to a Birthday Party.

My wife said that we couldn’t make it, but we would be sending him some money as a present. Being my Brother in-law’s Brother in-law, I felt that with us, just having moved to Denmark, and both being unemployed with little money, that giving someone so far down the line of not being related, was a stupid thing to do.

My wife responded, that if someone sends/gives you and invitation to their party, the custom here is to give them a present, even if you don’t show up. Wow, and she’s said that my upbringing was wrong? What kind of a Country, had I moved to?

Well now the invitation is on the other foot. Now it’s time for me to send/give invitations to my friends, neighbors and co-workers when I celebrate my 60th birthday! I guess, I can be sitting here all alone, with a house filled with food and liquor, having nothing to comfort myself with, but a few presents from my absent guests!?

But what if they were not raised in the same way as my wife?, I might just have to eat my as-yet-not-decided-on-meal with myself, and watch old reruns of Presidential Debates?

No matter. I’ve got the invitations ready to deal out, but that gave problems as well. My wife insisted that they be printed out and placed in envelopes for the intended victims. It being an All-Male Party, the first 3 in her Family had gotten the word last weekend at my Sister in-law’s Birthday Party. Only now it seems, that I need to send it to them by Snail Mail? Then I made a mistake of placing the invites in my pocket, intending to give them to my co-workers. Wrong again! “Now you’ve crumpled them, and they weren’t even in envelopes at the time.”

Hey, we are guys. How hard can it be? Can you, Do you want? And then a bit of head bashing and the promise of my backyard to relieve themselves in! What do you say?

“Wrong again”, said my wife. “If present when they open their invitations, then you need to note, on a separate piece of paper, who is going to attend.”

Can’t I just write it on my sleeve, or the palm of my hand? What if I forget if they said yes, or no, as long as they give me what I deserve? OK. That might sound different than how I intended it to be, but the point being, that things don’t need to be so complicated!

“Why didn’t you do anything about them yesterday, when you had the day off?”

Well, I was cleaning out the horse stall, and the cellar, birthing the kids and changing their diapers! What does it matter, when she insisted on printing them and doing the rest of that silly business, that another day has gone by without dealing with them?

When she asked, who I was going to invite, I answered:

3 neighbors, 4 co-workers, a friend from Funen (a Danish island) and another local sort-of-friend. Then I thought about another neighbor across the street and down a bit. “What about Martin?” I said

“Good idea” said my wife. “He has taken care of our dog once”.

If you didn’t read between the lines, not being a Dane, then that means that my Party will be a way of re-paying him for services rendered. How about the others? The sort-of-friend has had our son at his holiday cottage in Norway = payback, The one neighbor = done some masonry work for us = payback, while the others must have done something that we need to repay them back for, otherwise it wouldn’t make sense inviting them?

If you are still confused, then I would suggest you enroll yourselves in my upcoming online course, “How to think like a Dane”. It is free of charge, but don’t worry about passing the course with flying colors, as there is no way to “Be a Dane” without having been born as one!

So what have we learned from this blog?

  • You don’t need people to come to your party, as long as you’ve invited them in the right way
  • You need to invite someone who has done something for you, like inviting them to their party, which you didn’t attend, but sent them money anyway
  • Brother in-law’s Brother in-law is really not that far away from being Close-Family, if you follow my drift in the above blog!
  • You too can be invited to my party, if you volunteer to walk my dog. Oh, that means picking up after him, as we are in  Denmark, you know

Written for all of you who have wondered how it was to be a Dane/live with a Dane, and how it would make your live/lives complete by moving here!

Good luck with that thought……………

Posted in Relationships

Follow Me

That is actually the name of a John Denver song.

OK. John who?

I once knew a woman who moved to Colorado in order to get closer to John Denver! No, it was not Linda. Not every one of my blogs involves Linda, but not everyone thinks that I ever tell the truth!

She told me that fact back in the 80s when we both lived in Sacramento. No, not together, but it did cross my mind a few times. My father was desperate to hear about my “loves”. “What about Jennifer?” he used to ask me. “Just what is going on between you two?” I didn’t have the heart to tell him that she was a Lesbian, which translates to “Not much” from my standpoint, anyway!

No, this time is was Anne. She moved from Chicago to Aspen, then onward to Sacramento, California, where I met her. We shared a love of the outdoors, having gone on a few day hikes together. No, Anne is not another name for Linda, but if it makes you feel better to think so, then so be it!

Anne didn’t have eyes for me, and told me that to my face, when I made my move on her. No, she was not Lesbian, that was Jennifer! Honestly, if you can’t keep track of a few women, then you might as well call them Linda, all the same!

No, Anne was waiting for Tony, who was her fiancé from Chicago. He would be moving out West to California, not having to stop in Colorado, because he liked Led Zeppelin, and not John Denver like Anne, Jennifer, and Linda did! I had to disappoint my father once again, with my “No, not Anne” story, which made him turn his eyes towards the next hapless woman in my life.

No not Linda!

This whole blog began with John Denver, who wanted someone to Follow him, I guess like Anne did! But you see, there are people out there that want me to Follow their blogs, but I’m afraid of it ending up like Jennifer-Anne-Linda, in which I, or my Father, would be disappointed in the end!

You see, I did not lose the point of this blog, but finally told you, why I don’t follow many other blogs, in fear that you would lose respect for me, but only if you had respect for me in the first place, and not just doing that like I was involved with those other women, who in the case of Jennifer, and Anne didn’t get me anywhere in life.

Linda, on the other hand, is another story, but you will have to read about that in my other blog, which some people, for some unexplained reason, have decided to follow.

Take it away John!

Posted in Canada, Cooking, Denmark

Alternative Spices

It’s not always easy when cooking a favorite dish. There are critics everywhere.

“I’m leaving you”. Ever heard that one before, just because you’ve changed a few ingredients in an otherwise traditional dish?

“You can’t do that!” Another sign of narrow minds. Just because your mother didn’t use any alternative spices, you’ve decided to end our relationship. I mean, what else are you going to use Juniper Berries for?

I’ve decided to use some alternative spices in tonight’s Lentil Chili.

“Don’t you ever get tired of making Lentil Chili?”

Who in their right mind, would get tired of that? I don’t know, but some of you are probably raising your hands right now? Let me tell you all something. I’ve lost friends over my Alternative Spicing before, and this time is no exception.

There might even be a Canadian or two out there who is looking how to drop me from their list of blog following, but if you really love Lentil Chili, and Alternative Spices, then you are probably better off following a normal cooking blog, where Lentil Chili is not on the monthly menu!

Tonight, I’ve tried to follow the recipe in its entirety, but it went the usual wrong along the way. (here is the original recipe:

Here is my list of wrongdoings:

  • Dutch Oven – No
  • Add onion and bell pepper first – Nope
  • Fry until browned – Close, but I didn’t read “burned”
  • Season with Basil – Yes, but that was not in  the recipe.
  • Food Processor, puree and so on – Nope. Too much trouble
  • Write a comment – No again. I’m not sure, she’ll accept the basil!
  • Notes. If you like it spicy, add chili flakes. Yes, but in the wrong order, and before the basil!
  • Add Bulgar Wheat – Yes, but again not on the list. What a waste. By adding that, I’ve made a complete protein! You see, how easy it is to lose friends!

How does it taste? I don’t know as yet, but with the above ingredients, how could it go wrong? I could always add a bit more chili, making it an exclusive meal, safe from the rest of the family. My wife always says that it smells good, but is not fond of having her tongue singed in the process of tasting it!

Well, the initial taste shows me that I needed a bit more chili, and ½ liter of water.

3 liters of chili is just not enough to last me over the next 3 days of work, especially when I start bragging about it to my co-workers, who politely nod and say, “No thank you” like they usually do.

I wouldn’t want to insult them as we do need to work together, and the management would frown upon my “Radical Chili + Alternative Spice” views.

Guten Appetit!




Posted in Canada, Denmark, Travel

Thanks for the Loan

Dear Friend

I am writing to you tonight to thank you for the loan, which you extended to me earlier this year. As you know, I didn’t need to use any of your money, but the possibility was always there, if I needed some ready cash while visiting the United States.

You told me to keep it “Just in Case”. In Case meant “In Case” I wasn’t able to fulfill my dream of traveling to the United States. In case I wasn’t able to extend my dreams, just like you did when visiting Denmark.

A part of me wanted to act in anger and tear up your “In Case” with the thought of “How could she”, or “Why did she do something like that”, but I regained my senses and kept it safe, “Just in Case”.

Now that I’ve returned to Denmark, I’ve returned it to the place that I found it, inside a travel guide to your home country. I wouldn’t be expecting to see me in the recent future, visiting you and all, but as we both know, things often come when we least expect them.

I knew where your loan was the entire time, I was in the USA, though I never considered using it. I did take it out of my wallet once in a while, and ponder its existence, and to send you “Thank You” thoughts from California.

It was a very special and unexpected show of generosity on your part, and I won’t forget, what you tried to help me with, even though I never used your money.

A True Gentleman does not accept money from a Lady, which I feel fits in this case. In case you have a hard time understanding my use of the “Blog” to express my thanks, let’s just say that it is my way of repaying you in a public place.

Your friend


Posted in Life

Off The Beaten Track

I was out wandering once, in the backwoods of my mind.

There were trails and pathways with signs, leading everyone else to their destinations, but I was to ponder my own course for a moment or two more.

It seems like I went a’wandering. There, where you wouldn’t expect me to go, but I did you see. Some might say that they recognized me, when I passed on by, or perhaps remembered someone like me, who used to live just down the street, in the last house on their street?

-Or was it out in the country, where the papers blow, or the birds fly without sound? I might have been there, but no one of note seemed to notice me. No one did, they say.

I was just out on a lark, off the beaten track, trying to find my way, wherever that way might be.

My path seemed certain, although it wasn’t marked with signs and arrows, but certain it was, all the same.

“Did you wave to him, when he passed on by?”

“No, but then he was never here, was he?”

Posted in Denmark, Learning

Potatoes, Anyone?

Ah yes. This week in Denmark is known as Autumn Vacation, or for everyone else in the know as, “Potato Vacation” (kartoffelferie).

Potato Vacation. 100 years ago, the majority of people lived in the country. The people who worked on the farm, milked them by hand, plowed fields with horse and plow and harvested the fields with scythes. The children worked as well.

The little girls and boys helped gather potatoes and clean the hen house, rabbit cages and feed the animals. The rural poor worked for farm owners. The children also had to work. The money they made had to be delivered to their parents…..

Source: (adjusted via Google Translate)

That is just an excerpt of a longer text describing what “Autumn Holiday” used to be used for. I am all for calling it “Potato Vacation” once again, if it means that my “spoiled” teenagers would go out and get their hands dirty, and try to “farm” like their ancestors of old.

Just think of how they might not have 100% Network for their almost new iPhones, which would put them out of touch with the world for a short while! They might also be tired at the end of the day, and would appreciate the food placed before them!

“What, not pizza, and not hotdogs and pasta again?”. Yes, I would reply. Not any of those things. Eat your food and be thankful for what you have!

Child mishandling, some might call it. Denying them their basic human rights, forcing them to earn money, and turning it over to their parents. Doing an honest day’s work, forcing them to do manual labor, and getting paid their worth!

It is known as week 42, if you are into that type of week naming, like the Europeans like to use?

Week 42 = Potato Vacation if you have any excess children, who might need to learn a bit about life in Denmark (100 years ago, that is).

Posted in Denmark, Life

Being 44 Years Young

A friend of mine turned 44 the other day. No biggie, but I knew, she was upset about that.

I was invited to her Birthday Bash when she turned the big corner and became 40. Danes go way crazy about “turning that corner”, as they put it, and wanting, or perhaps expecting to throw a big Birthday Party for friends and relatives.

40 years old. When I was 40, I was expecting my first child, my daughter, who my wife and I were adopting from India. I was almost finished with Business College in Aalborg, Denmark, and was already considering where to look for work.

40 years young, you might say. I thought back to when I was 20, then 30, but turning 40 still seemed to be a good age to be! I had my health, and my life was going along in Denmark as good as could be expected, with no dark clouds appearing on the horizon.

I did manage to find a job, and work together with a fellow who was 12 years my senior. When I rounded the big corner, he told me “That is no age at all!”, which told me that he was doing all right, and I would too.

But all this talk has been about me, and not about the young woman, who just turned 44. On her 40th birthday, I told her, that when she was born, I had already gotten my driving license in California. 16 years old and feeling on top of the world!

That seemed to comfort her more than she knew, and the same was true when she turned 44 the other day. “44 is no age at all”, I wrote on her Facebook Timeline, and she wrote back saying, “Thank you for those kind words. They were just what I needed to hear!”

I expect her to do the same for me in a few weeks, when I round the big corner as well. 60 years young, you might say, but then “That is no age at all” isn’t it?……..

Posted in Cooking

The Lost Ingredient

Today is the day to make Spinach Soup.

Yes, today is when I will be making Spinach Soup with the last vestiges of the Danish Summer simmering in my pot.

What else is there down in that simmer, you might ask?

Well, leeks, onions, cabbage, a few potatoes and bouillon cubes.

“Is there any room leftover for Spinach”, some might ask?

I don’t understand how anyone could get so hung up on a single vegetable. Yes, there is Spinach, just not as much as I had thought there would be.

It’s kind of like Chicken Noodle Soup. Yes, there is Chicken and a lot of Noodles, but just how much Chicken is there?

My questions might be, “Does it taste like Chicken?” If yet, then it is allowed to be called Chicken Noodle Soup.

“What about flavor enhancers and artificial this and that?”

All I wanted to do this morning was to make a simple pot of soup, and not have to answer a load of questions with myself.

Here is a photo just to help those critics out there, of which I am one of them, to show that I am indeed making Spinach Soup.


With any luck and a blender, then it may look a bit more green in the end, or not.

In any case, I accomplished what I set out to do this morning.

That was, to make Spinach Soup, if you’ve forgotten…..