No curve was too sharp for them and their bicycle. No puddle was deep enough to stop them. -- Friends by Helme Hein

22 September, 2011

The Binky Tree

One of the great things about living in Copenhagen is the abundance of green space.  Woody and I are able to to stroll through a park at least once each day, often just as a pass through onto somewhere else.  A few weeks ago, the three of us packed a picnic and rode out to Fredericksberg Have.  Fredericksberg is an autonomous city within Copenhagen that is family and expat friendly (read: wealthy).
The park is actually former castle grounds with very traditional English gardens, like something out of a Jane Austen book (aside from this Chinese bridge).  The Copenhagen Zoo is also within the park and you can even view the elephants without having to pay admission.

I never before thought a swan could be commonplace until I came to Copenhagen.  They are everywhere. 

Can you tell what this?

In Denmark, the pacifier doesn't seem to hold the same taboo as it does in the U.S. Every baby shamelessly sucks on one at any given time.  It's not uncommon to see toddlers riding bikes and playing while sucking on a piece of plastic in their mouth.  Dropped binkies litter the streets and parks (each lost binky, in my mind, represents a very unhappy baby and frantic parents looking for a way to soothe their child).  I'm not anti-pacifier (little Felix uses one to help him sleep at night), but I think by the time you can walk you shouldn't be sucking on plastic.

We first came across a binky tree in the park across from our house.  At the time, I thought the tree had become a sort of 'home' for lost binkies.  The tree screamed, "come take me back home!"  But this tree in Fredericksberg had a lot more binkies and even notes and pictures.  Turns out, the binky tree is like a tangible version of the binky fairy.  When it's time to give up the nipple, kids ceremoniously hand it over to the tree. 

Dear Sucker, 
It is hereby time to say goodbye.
You have followed me through thick and thin,
and I'll miss you.
Many hugs,

So sweet!  I'm sure Woody's binkies will also come to rest in one of these trees in the future.

New Ride

You may have already noticed from the header, but there is something following behind my bike these days.  Woody now has his own chariot!

I really, really want a Danish-style cargo bike, but at over $1,000 for used ones, this trailer is a perfect compromise for our little addition. It's easy to get around town, the paths are wide enough, no one is concerned by how much space you take up, and I hardly even know it's behind me it glides so smoothly.  It's a Burley trailer (Go Ducks!) and will be great for longer distance touring, too.

my little grape protector
In the city, it's perfect for hauling large grocery runs.  Woody likes to play with the food on the way home. 

20 September, 2011

Shepard Fairey in Copenhagen

US street artist Shepard Fairey put up 5 murals around Copenhagen in early August.  Big fans, we went on a bike hunt for his work.  

We found the first one at Baisikeli Cafe, a new bike cafe that rents, repairs, and sells used bikes in Vesterbro. 

 Love this cargo bike turned speaker system!

It's an amazing piece of work.  The details are small and everywhere.  

 We found the second one in Nørrebro, the neighborhood across the lakes from us.
Within days of this mural going up, it was defaced by people unhappy about the perceived message and placement after a long battle over the demolition of a youth center that previously occupied this space.   I don't know enough of the history to write about it with authority, but you can read about it here.  Apparently he caused enough of a raucous that Fairey was beat up at a party in Copenhagen.

I stumbled upon the third piece but didn't have a camera with me, so we'll have to go back. 

Copenhagen Scenes

No real category for any of these shots, and some aren't much to look at, but a few scenes from around Copenhagen our first few weeks here.

 Empire Bio--a very cozy movie theater that offers movies for moms and babies on weekday mornings.  You can leave your pram with sleeping baby downstairs and a theater attendant will come get you if your baby wakes! 

 Tourists under the spell of the Little Mermaid.

 The Carlsberg horses delivering beer in town.

 House music festival on the grounds of the park across the street from us.  We were able to open the windows and enjoy live music all day.  Nice city perk.

The view from James's classroom in Hellerup.

16 September, 2011

Elephant Parade

We'd hoped these elephants would call our street "home" permanently.


But, alas, off to another city they went to continue their parade

15 September, 2011

Another New Home

A few photos of our new home.  We live in the Østerbro neighborhood of Copenhagen.  Our apartment was beautifully renovated before we moved in, with newly polished floors and fresh white paint on the walls.  We haven't figured out how old the building is yet, but we think its probably late 1800's to early 1900's. 

Our little home is nestled between the three large parks toward the top of the map, just off Sølvgade.  Østre Analæg is my favorite park for wildlife viewing and natural landscaping.  Botanisk Have (botanical Gardens) looks like a Monet painting.  Copenhagen does parks very well.  We are a 10 minute walk from shopping areas and tourist hotspots like the Little Mermaid and a 20 minute walk from Tivoli Gardens.

 Our living room before our shipment arrived.  I always like a place better before we clutter it up with stuff.  So clean, so full of potential. 

 Ornamentation around the ceiling light fixtures.

 Other side of the living room.

 Looking toward the park and the Danish National Art Gallery.

 Bathroom, obviously.  How does a country that is notoriously cold and dark not make
a bathtub standard?  I do love the heated towel racks, though. 

 My favorite room.  This is the kitchen of a queen (hmmm...queens don't usually cook) compared to our tiny little workspace in Tokyo.  I love the window, the full size built-in oven, plenty of cabinets and the bright wood counters! And a dishwasher!

 A huge refrigerator and freezer.  And an annoyingly slow and inefficient washer/dryer combo.  Glad we don't have to share a laundry room, but, really, 3.5 hours for a load?

View from the kitchen window.  Most buildings in Copenhagen have a shared courtyard with other apartments.  Many have picnic areas, playgrounds for kids and clotheslines.  Ours has a dilapidated bike storage shed (with no room for our bikes) and a large trash pile that hasn't been removed in over a month.  Each apartment is also supposed to have pram storage (nope) and basement storage (still waiting on that).  Our rental agency isn't the most efficient, but one bonus is knowing that in the Great Storm of Summer 2011, our basement didn't get even an inch of water.  

The apartment is 77 square meters (roughly 800 square feet), about 50% bigger than our home in Tokyo.  Still small by American standards, but considerably more living space than before.  I forgot to take a picture of the bedroom, but it basically looks like the living room, only smaller.  Woody sleeps in the living room.  There are no closets and storage is a challenge, but we love the natural light and the watching the trees through the windows.  It's a lovely home.  Once it's all in place, I'll give you a tour of the "after" look.

14 September, 2011

The Summer That Never Was

Our time spent in Oregon and South Dakota with family and friends was the happiest of the summer.  We were travel weary and ready to see some familiar and welcoming faces. Neither of us wanted to spend our short 6 week summer in and out of countries, on and off planes and lugging around bags, but somehow that's just what we ended up doing.  It's not that we don't love travel and all the experiences, but it's gotten tremendously harder with a baby and after the earthquake and subsequent move around the world, we were tired.  What we wanted was just to relax, as a family, preferably in a beautiful place, with people we loved.  America was perfect and waaaay too short of a visit for us.  Blame it on the fact that August weather in Copenhagen has been anything less than desirable and the impending 7 months of dark and cold I'm told is arriving shortly, but I feel like summer just didn't happen.  I'm still craving the smell of the pine needles under the Central Oregon sun, the taste of fresh berries and delicious beer, and the ease of being around people you love.  These photos are just a few of the great times and great people we encountered on our trip.

 I think I have a bit of a produce fetish.  Gorgeous shots from the Portland State Farmers Market.

We saw our dear friend, Marc, marry the lovely Dawn.
Woody partied like a rockstar at the wedding in his three piece tux. (thanks Lisa & George!)

 We met new friend Louisa, of Ben and Celia fame.

 Woody got a skateboard ride from Uncle Mike.

We watched gorgeous alpenglow in central Oregon and longed to live here again.
 Longboarding in Bend.

The cutest performance ever by the cutest cousins ever: Avery, Ryan, Opal and Lila.
Got some good papa time in South Dakota.
Tracked down ancestors homesteads in Wasta, South Dakota.

 5.5 months!

 Went swimming in the Niobrara River in Nebraska with cousins Ashlyn, Gabriella, and Joseph.

 First creek experience!

 Baby jogging with Anthony in the hot, hot sun.

And saying "see you soon!" to Nana at the airport.