Sunday, February 5, 2012

My bubbly friend - Sure-Kurt

It is mighty cold here in the little country - come on, gulf stream, do your thing and warm up this country a bit!!

So you do indoor stuff as much as you can, and baking bread is one of my favorite things to do.

Last week I decided that I was going to start baking my own rye bread again. Danish rye bread is dark and often whole grain, and usually it is made with a sour dough.

I don't have one of those, so I went online to find a recipe to start up a sour dough. Turns out there are two ways to do that. One way is starting it with a bit of yeast, and the other is to let the yeast culture find your sour dough all by itself.

Why make it easy - I decided to go for the hard way. I mixed up rye and wheat flour with some water, and set it on my kitchen counter. Every day I fed a little extra flour and water into it. After 4 or 5 days it started smelling beery and yeasty in just the right way, and then came the bubbles.

So I was ready to make my bread.

I mixed about half of my sour dough, that in the meantime had taken on a personality of it's own enough to be named "Sure-Kurt" (Sour-Kurt), with water and whole grain, and let it sit over night. The next day I added rye and wheat flour and some salt, and my dough was ready to rise and put into a loaf pan and bake.

Wonderful, grainy bread with a tantalizing scent and a great taste - That is certainly not my last loaf of home made bread! It's been a long time since I made rye bread, and I wonder why I stopped...

In the meantime, Sure-Kurt still lives on my counter. Today he gave birth to Lille-Kurt (Little-Kurt) - who is moving in with my daughter. She will take care of him and feed him every day, so that he can get big enough for her to make her own lovely bread.

So right now, Sure-Kurt is pretty small himself. I will feed him well, though, so he is ready to use for a new loaf next weekend :-)

I love baking! It is so rewarding and it feels creative, even when it is just following a recipe.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A status at the beginning of a new year

Actually I didn't feel like writing this kind of post. And it won't be a cavalcade of all my blog-achievements, because they have been few and far between.

But I did feel like saying goodbye to 2011, that has been a year like most years are - a colorful quilt with a pattern diverging from the one I had expected.

Of course, many things were like planned and expected. I didn't switch jobs, husbands or houses ind 2011. I didn't get into wild projects or new hobbies.

It's been a busy year, but that was expected too. Job wise I've been extremely busy at times, and it's been fun and hard at the same time. I've been keeping the number of overtime-hours down as much as I could, because I don't want to work 20 extra hours a week. 20 hours a month must be plenty - I believe it is a lot about priorities, skipping redundant meetings and activities, and that kind of thing. If you do that, you can get a lot done without toiling like a Maersk-suit.

When I look back at 2011 I think about being tired. Mostly because I've gotten up early many mornings to put down my overtime there. My dear husband have not had much pleasure out of my company at night, because many an evening news have shone its blue light on my snoozing face on the couch.

At the end of the year I was a bit betrayed by my body. Perhaps I have neglected it a little, because even though I've struggled to keep workout and running going, it's not been a great exercise year. Anyway in december my doctor stated that my blood pressure was to the high side.
You could have heard my jaw hitting my knee with a slap, because I had NOT seen that coming. I am usually quite smug when I talk about my super low blood pressure (normally at 120/70), and a measurement quite a bit over that is a bit of a slap on the face.

I didn't get pills, because the doctor and I agreed to wait a month and do a series of measures again over a weekend. Until then I plan to be good and treat myself better with food and exercise, and if that does not work out, I will probably have to go on meds.

When it comes to love, 2011 has been a fine year. My Bruno and I celebrated our  10th wedding anniversary in november, and I still start every day relishing the fact that I am sharing my life with just him.

But we are getting older. In 2011 my kids are 15, 18 and 24 (!!) years old, and my siblings are ranging from 51 (my gorgeous young big sister) to 54 (my distinguished oldest brother). I am the only one of us who yet has to find a gray hair (I keep my hair dresser checking!).
My mother just turned 78, and that is quite the age.

An odd thing has happened this year. Print on milk cartons, rice bags and in books has gotten smaller and smudgier lately. That is why I have been seen balancing cheap glasses on the tip of my nose (eyeglasses, that is - don't get any outlandish ideas), trying to counter this strange tendency. I will consider a proper pair of prescription glasses in 2012, but so far I am in denial. And I guarantee, that as soon as possible I will rush to my local eye clinic and have them fix my near- and farsightedness!

So goodbye 2011. I am not quite sure if I learned to like you, but now you are over. You go where used up years go to die, and I enter 2012 - a little aloof, but still trusting, because 2012 is just a more beautiful number than 2011.

Happy new year. If you've made it all the way down here, I greet you. I wish for myself and for all others, that we may have the strength and the perspective to make the right choises that will make 2012 a great year for us.

Over and out.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Darwins danish inspiration

Until earlier this year, I didn't know that a danish scientist actually participated a lot in the creation of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. I became aware only when I listened to a very interesting radio program about scientific development through time.

It seems at first, there were these bishops who honestly tried to contribute to the scientific pool of knowledge. They were trying to put an age on the earth, and based their theory on the number of generations in the Old Testament. On this basis they believed that they were able to estimate the earth's creation to have happened 4004 years BC.

It was a nice try - the error was of course that their starting point was completely wrong, as the Bible is not exactly scientific record material. 

It wasn't until much later that more serious bids on the earth's age came about, and today we know quite precisely (within one million years :D) that the earth is 4,567,000.000 years old. That is quite a bit, but his bishop Usher was onto something - - it was a number starting with "4"! 

The really fun part of the program, however, was the story of Nicolas Steno - or Niels Steensen, as he was called in Danish. He was from Copenhagen, and he was born in 1638. Steno wanted to be a scientist, so he studied medicine, to be a doctor. It turned out not to be quite what he had imagined - a little too much "barber" and not enough science. 

So Steno swapped to anatomy, where he actually made a really good name for himself - among other things by noting that the heart is a muscle. He became recognized enough that he toured Europe, and on his way he revised the contemporary view of how the brain works. 

At some point an Italian duke - one of the Medici - noticed him. He sent Steno a shark's head to Steno, so he could study the shark's teeth, that were oddly similar to little rocks that were found in the mountains - and by this, Steno's road to the science of geology had started. 

Steno began to wonder why fossils of sea creatures that were found far from the nearest coast, and it led him to the conclusion that the earth was not just a static thing, standing as it were created by god, but that it is undertaking constant change. 

By this, he was skirting a dangerous edge - at that time the priests of the Inquisition had a sharp lookout for scientists challenging what was written in their sacred books. 

But through diplomacy and probably also because he was a sincere Catholic, he succeeded to avoid a sudden loss of his head. 

Steno published several scientific writings during the course of his career, and actually his methods were to be the foundation of modern geology. Charles Lyell, who published Pricipia (Principles of Geology) actually wrote in his introduction that his theories rested on Steno's principles. And Charles Lyell happened to be one of Darwin's major inspirations, as well as friend and mentor. 

The fact that Steno is not better known today, is first and foremost that he was not an Englishman. His religiosity made him an outcast - in Denmark because he had converted to Catholicism, and further south because he originally was Lutheran. 

The man did not let his religious background stand in the way of his science, however, for he believed that when science and the Bible did not match, it was because the Bible was interpreted incorrectly:) - a relatively healthy starting point if you ask me. 

Some people actually claim that his contributions to modern science was on a par with Newton - and that it is quite unfair that his legacy is not greater. 

Regardless, I think it's beyond cool that we in Denmark have a scientist on record, who helped to form an important basis for Darwin's theory of evolution - albeit in a roundabout way:)

Selective body memory

Today I ran by the beach, and I noticed that the water was very still.

Actually I think the few creases on the mirror-like water surface was caused by the heavy tread and almost as heavy breathing that came with a certain runner.

That got me thinking.

I've often heard the claim that your body remembers. It's got a memory containing what you and others have done to it. It sounds a bit new age to me - no clue whether it is just woo, or if it's been scientifically proven.

Anyway - I wonder why my body finds it much easier to remember how overweight I was 10 years ago (and why it insists on trying to ease back up on that weight) than remembering the half marathon I ran 2,5 years ago - and all the lovely hours of training that came with that? Bad body!!

However I will try to keep in mind the great feeling I had in my body after today's run, as I undressed to shower. It might make it easier to get my butt out there, working those running shoes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My heathen christmas

I like christmas, even if I am not a christian.

There is so much to like!

Candles spread all over my house, lighting the dark days (about 6 hours of daylight at the moment)
The electric lights in the bushes outside, that makes the dusk at 3 in the afternoon easier to bear.
The delicious cookies, and cozy get togethers with friends.
Good, homemade glögg, both the white and the red variety.
Oatmeal candies - home made.
My family getting together, eating, talking, playing boardgames.
Days off from work - peace and quiet.

I think it is a lovely, cozy season, even though I could easily do without the christmas gift craze. I think it's difficult to think of good wishes, and I know astoundingly many people that feel the same way.

Our christmas eve is quite ordinary, with a christmas tree and carols. We obviously don't go to church, and we don't say prayers at the table or read the Christmas Gospel. We still sing the christmas songs and hymns - many of them are beautiful, and remind me of the family christmas of my childhood. I love to sing, and the old traditional hymns are nice to share with your family.

One of the really good things about christmas is, that this is the solstice - the days stop getting shorter, and start lengthening. When I light up my calendar candle and my advent candlestick, that is really what I am counting down for. Originally christmas was a heathen fest of the light, and I think it is so much worth celebrating that darkness starts to let go and the days just get longer and longer.
I can't wait for the light to come back into the days - but in the meantime I'll try to light up the darkness around me.

Friday, November 25, 2011

On sexual harassment and good judgment

This week one of the big stories going around in the danish media has been of sexual harassment.

Appearantly one our new ministers got himself in a spot of trouble last christmas. At a christmas party, he said to a newly divorced female secretary: "So, are you going to get yourself a new man anytime soon?"

Whether it's sexual harassment is difficult to say when it's taken out of context. I don't know how well he knew this lady, or whether they had the kind of tone where something like that would be a normal, jokingly thing to say. I don't know whether he said it with a kind smile, or leaning over her and breathing booze in her face, while caressing her knee.

Either way, I think it's an unsensitive and hurtful and stupid comment, and it seems the lady in question felt the same way. She filed an official complaint and her union took out a sexual harassment case, that ended up in a settlement.

I could write about what this kind of behaviour, whether its lewd or just rude, speaks of that specific ministers sense of judgement, and his suitability for leading a ministry, but I won't.

Because what really surprised me was how the online media commenters reacted to this case: They were lining up to defend this man, and simultaneously putting down the secretary, commenting how "she was too delicate and prissy" and that "perhaps she should not have gone to the christmas party."

Whoa, wait up a minute.

So, if I as a female, go to a company party, that I have been specifically invited to, I thereby send out an invite for any drunken co-worker of the opposite sex to breathe booze-stinking lewdities in my ear whilst fondling my thigh??

Hell, no! Nobody feels me up without being invited - and just coming to the party is NOT an invitation - not even if I dress up in something more sexy than a burqua, wear perfume and heels!!

The scenario gets even worse, if the breather-slash-fondler is your superior (work wise, that is). It can be a tad more difficult to administer a hearty shove to the guy that is in charge of setting you up for raises and promotions. You might be more inclined to try settling things quietly, and thus you might get your borders invaded even further.
What kind of a boss puts their people in that kind of situation??

My guys at work can certainly rest assured that I will NOT squeeze their bottoms or do a lapdance on top of them, when we attend this years christmas party. And I am not even a big shot boss, just a small time project manager.

And if the commenters mentioned above reflect the general culture, a damn boring old bird.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Me and the US of A....

Stuff I love about USA (in random order):

  • how nice, helpful and service minded people are.
  • italian sausage on pizza.
  • hell - italian sausage on ANYTHING!!
  • shopping ... stuff is so CHEAP! (If you see the economy going up in october, that was me).
  • the absolutely stunning beauty of New England
  • how you can order anything at a restaurant (like, if you want your burger without a bun or with two buns, or with whipped cream ... anything goes, I think!)
  • the style of houses - be it the pretty wooden houses or the amazing glass towers.
  • the diversity of the culture, and how everybody knows where their family is descended from.
  • breakfast. You gotta love pancakes with syrup and all the eggs ... and oh, the wonder of breakfast sausages!!
  • starbucks. Because they serve proper coffee ;)
Stuff I wonder about USA (also in random order):

  • why they serve dark brown water and call it coffee?
  • why you have to pay tips - why don't they just pay people a proper wage?
  • the sizes of helpings in restaurants. No way I could ever eat that much. And I have the appetite of a lumberjack.
  • why so many people that claim to be christian bitch so much because they have to chip in when people of no financial means get ill...
  • when the otherwise nice lady at the diner goes into a rant about the stupid mexicans and the lazy black folks Ö
  • why an advanced country has to put chlorine in their drinking water, even out of the big city (yuck - smells nasty and tastes bad!)
  • no rugbrød ... that IS a major error!
  • why people riding bikes all have their seats placed so low. It looks really funny, but must be quite uncomfortable?
  • breakfast. I'd get HUGELY FAT if I had that kind of delish stuff available all the time!