Thursday, April 3, 2014

Back April 23...

I've been a little MIA I know...I'm working on it and let's just say I could use a little more work on this point.

I generally try to keep the pace, blog a few steps ahead but this time, it's all caught up with me a bit...Since January I've traveled at least three, if not four days, every single week.  Kind of like that weird character George Clooney plays on up in the air, except for I think I can tell a little sooner than he could that this is a little off.  And of the next 20 days, I'll be traveling for 12-14 of them...It's not a complaint, I really do enjoy my job - but just more of a realization that the calendar is moving ahead while I'm falling behind.

I love to travel and I get to go to some extremely lovely places as far as work destinations go, but there is some point where the constant movement coupled with big deadlines and even bigger projects to deliver to clients (day job) can catch up with you and I've been not exactly winning this little "do everything" battle for awhile.  So as I'm gearing up for the last big travel push - this time to the US and concluding with a little R and R with family in the Bahamas, I'm actually going to try to just take a step back, let one thing give a bit so that I can be better at some of the others.  There will be all sorts of posts lined up on the return (like photos from these amazing chalky cliffs in the photos), a brand new blog launching on May 1, and lots of updates on "the face" and "the insta" (follow along, n'est pas?)

See you in a couple of weeks!

PS - For a sneak peek of the new blog (yes - there will be two!), take a little look!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Denmark Derby: Karen Blixen's House...

Bet you didn't think I'd be back with another Denmark Derby so soon but after yesterday's post on Babette's Feast, I couldn't not show the trip out to her house pretty much right away.  The more I've been learning about Karen Blixen and her life, even beyond the Out of Africa days which I already have a weakness for, the more I want to know of her still... I should have really like to have met her and I as mentioned yesterday, there's something about her and her writing that draws me to her as kind of a kindred spirit... I think it's that sense of adventure that she had while still holding a nostalgic, more romantic streak...

In re-watching Out of Africa now, I'm amazed now by the first scene in the movie which is the hunting scene in Klampenborg.  Previously, I think I pretty much completely forgot that scene even existed, but now, I attach to since Klampenborg is basically right down the street from my house...Across the movie Karen strikes me at once as being "so Danish" about certain things, and yet so "not Danish" as well, just based on my few months here.  And even though she was Danish herself, she always mentioned that there was something in her spirit that made her want to go out and see other things and to see where she belonged.  Even after she returned from Africa, with adventures of that kind, there was something about her that just didn't belong in Denmark (or at least, that's what others thought) so as an outsider myself here, I can definitely identify.  On a separate note, I read in a Lonely Planet that she also insisted after returning from Africa that everyone still refer to her as Baroness - decidedly NOT Danish.  But if you watch the interpretation of her character in Out of Africa, there are many times where she defies hierarchy or established norms towards a more horizontal approach of access and level, and that would certainly be Danish.  It's always interesting how much our outside circumstances can affect the perceptions of who we are or who we are not...

Unfortunately, you can't take pictures inside the house - I was disappointed but at the same time, sometimes that absence of taking pictures makes us participate more fully in what's right in front of us.  That nostalgic, romantic streak I mentioned above? I have it...big time.  Especially when it relates to real people with real adventures.  I teared up twice...once when you pass her study, outfitted on the walls with Masai shields and another few souvenirs from Kenya, and a silver framed photo of Dennys Finch-Hatton sitting in the corner of the window by her writing desk, just as she had it when she lived there.  It's just the single photo, but still in the open - meeting and defying convention for the time all at once.  And I can't imagine that on those colder days of the Danish winter, especially as that was the only heated room in the house, next to the ocean with those winds and gray skies, how far, far away that must have felt from her legendary "I had a farm in Africa" days...

The second moment was in the annex upstairs where they've laid out a few of her personal effects on'll notice photographs on the wall of Farah...Kamante...those were all real people..and then in the middle of the room, right in front of two campaign style safari chairs is the gramophone.  THE gramophone, the same one, from Africa, given to her by Denys...There's something very touching that she brought that all the way back after having to sell just about everything else - it was a possession of course, but now, when people own multiple ipods, phones, and so many other things that play music, to  have been given the gift of music that could travel, from someone so meaningful, it just struck me. 

She is buried outside of the house some distance back and the land, which along with the house belonged to her mother, has been set aside as an aviary, home to over 200 of Denmark's birds.  When walking around you'll see colorful little bird houses tacked up for them to visit. 

But perhaps the most interesting thing I learned was when we passed by a video of Karen Blixen telling a story, in Danish, on national television at the time.  Once she returned, she would tell stories on TV and radio so that scene at the dinner with Denys and Barclay? That wasn't just for the movie, that was a real gift of hers - I always knew she told stories well on paper but apparently, telling them live was also one of her true gifts.  Yes, I think I really would have liked to have known her in person.

Rungsted Strandvej 111
2960 Rungsted Kyst

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Babette's Feast...

The very best teachers in life have a way of leading you towards lessons you don't yet know you need.  I suppose that's why many of us take our teachers for granted sometimes, because we're not yet in the moment where we can appreciate how their hard work will stay with us.  To this day, I continue to be amazed at how many seeds teachers - of the literal and less literal kind - have planted that have grown into such strong concepts in my own life, sometimes many more years later...
In my high school French class, my teacher (Madame Schwinden, merci a vous!), did a wonderful job incorporating movies...or films rather - beautiful stories that reinforce points, that frankly, at 15 or 16, were sometimes above my head.  But that doesn't mean that they went unheeded.  When I sat in the room watching Babette's Feast, I spent most of the time confused why we were watching what seemed like a dark movie about a cult living off the coast of Denmark.  Most of the movie isn't even in French!
But on the coast of Denmark myself, just about 20 years later and coming out of the dark winter, I started to get it, and I would have missed it if our teacher hadn't taken the time to plant the seed.  For those that don't know the movie, it's an absolutely wonderful story about a French woman to takes up residence caring for two women in a Danish religious community.  She doesn't have much in terms of ties left with Paris, but finds out she wins the lottery - 10,000 Francs (Francs in those days!).  The women are worried she will return to Paris with her winnings to return to luxury, but instead, Babette spends the entire sum on one single, completely exquisite meal as a form of her artistry in the kitchen, and her gratitude for the women that took her in, even though they and their freinds would not normally be an audience for such a feast.  I could go on about this story but I'll stop there (you should definitely watch it!).  What seemed at first pass like a simple story actually has so many layers of complexity, and that's exactly what makes it such a phenomenal story - it just took me twenty years to really pull it apart and see that.
And stories of that kind don't usually come from movies first...they come from the work of the pen - and this one is no different.  It was only once we moved here that I figured out that the story itself was written by Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), who I'm quite sure is quickly becoming my Danish soul mate from another time. I would have liked to have known her.  She has such a gift pulling people in with a story that reflects the many layers that we could easily picture ourselves in - I supposed that's why Dennys Finch Hatton and Barclay Cole were so captivated at that dinner in Out of Africa. 
I've pulled out a few favorites parts of the story that resonate with me - I would have missed these at 15, but it doesn't mean that they weren't seeds worth planting.  In fact, I think the best lessons are the ones you continue to learn with new perspectives....

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Diplo-Valise: Work Dinner...

1// Sweater  2// Skirt  3// Bracelet  4// Heels  5// Clutch

Most evenings when I travel for work I'm left to my own devices after client visits and presentations but every once in awhile, we're invited to attend a dinner or something that they have planned that's more social.  Off to Malaga tonight for a work presentation (hooray for Southern Spain by the way - I have never been!) So assuming my plane gets me to where I need to be on time, here's what I'm considering sporting on this Southern Costa. I probably shouldn't have packed so much black (what can I say, still winter in Denmark and too much time in Paris recently) but the color of that skirt is exactly what I'm expecting the color of that seaside sunshine to be!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Denmark Derby: Cattle of Highway 152...

I have a thing for cows.  In fact, if I believed in reincarnation, I'd like to come back as a cow - not the kind that are like fifty bazillion to an antibiotic barn like in the US, but like an alpine cow as I've mentioned, or now, I'm also considering the option of seaside cows.

I'm not sure if these are actually highland cattle or not (like these guys we saw in Austria), given that we're not exactly in highlands here, but love the hairstyles on these guys. I don't even know if they're meat cows or dairy cows or decorative cows or what. Note to self: learn more about highland and other longhair cattle forms.
When we drove Highway 1 in California, around Big Sur, at one point we noticed cows out to pasture enjoying what seemed to be just about the perfect view. And driving along this highway outside of Copenhagen, I came across nearly the same thing. Just a small heard of cows, with pasture as far as the eye can see and just about a perfect ocean view. 

And speaking of highway...we've been spending the weekends getting out and about more in Copenhagen so you can expect a few of these Denmark Derby posts as I'm calling them - I hope you're looking forward to exploring a bit of the country with us. And in the meantime, I guess for now that leaves us with the question of what you would rather be? A mountain cow or a sea cow? Also, are other people spending this much time thinking about what they would like to be reincarnated as?