Sunday, April 20, 2014

religion and culture intertwine

we didn't baptize sabin as a baby. i was reminded today, during easter services at the local church, why we didn't baptize her. there were two babies being baptized and in both cases, when the minister asked the question of whether the child believed in god and accepted the whole jesus christ story, the mother answered "yes" on the child's behalf. so two children were indoctrinated into a faith without having any say in it or knowledge of it themselves. which is precisely what i didn't want for sabin. i wanted her to understand and accept for herself when the time came. it's what my parents did for me (tho' i'm not sure if it was on purpose on their part or if baptizing the baby just wasn't really in fashion back then in the late 60s presbyterian church). whatever the reason, i am grateful and have done the same for sabin.

after the baptism part of the service was over, one of the families just left and didn't stay for the rest of the easter service. that struck me as a little bit harsh. kind of like a drive-in baptism. let's get it over with and get on to our party (and most importantly, our gifts). the grandparents sneaked out during the next song, as they missed out on leaving when the family themselves left.

the minister himself, a down-to-earth fellow who clearly didn't feel like shaving this morning (or possibly yesterday morning), despite it being probably the most important christian holiday, took it in stride, seeming not to even notice. he went on with his sermon. it was an easter sermon, of course, based on the reading of the easter story from one of the gospels (i'm not a biblical scholar, so don't ask me which one). it was the verse where the marys find jesus' tomb empty and there is talk of an earthquake and the appearance of an angel. he talked about how in the orthodox faith, people take it quite literally and on easter, greet one another with "he is risen, praise be, he is risen," or something along those lines.

he seemed quite cognizant of the fact that in today's denmark, people don't take the gospel quite so much as, well...gospel. it's more of a story and a culture and a metaphor that something bigger than us is there for us. we have chosen, in our culture, to call it jesus and god and the holy spirit, but what really matters is that this is a story that endures through the ages. and that, if we let it, it has the capacity to be a comfort to us in the midst of all of our other personal crises - deaths of those close to us, divorce, losing jobs, and the like. and somehow, it felt like he was ok with the family leaving after the baptism of their child, fully aware of the purposes the church serves in danish culture and his contribution to it. and the church was full (we and about a dozen others actually sat in extra chairs in the aisle, because every pew was filled), so he must derive some satisfaction from that.

confirmation is a big thing when you're a 7th grader in denmark. the preparations are held as part of the school day (thursday mornings from 8-9:30) throughout the school year, so if you should choose not to be part of it (which you are free to do), you would just go to school late that day. but i've told you about this before, so i won't rehash it all here. suffice it to say that sabin has chosen to be confirmed, which means that today, she had to be baptized. she's a teenager, so she didn't want to make a public spectacle out of it, so we arranged to do the baptism after today's easter service. i've had my issues with this minister, since he made sabin feel negated since he hadn't married, buried and baptized her family for four generations before meeting her at the first confirmation preparation course, but i have to say he won me over today with his pragmatic sermon and his scruffy beard. he was kind to her and understand her teenager-y angst about not being on public display. he talked to her kindly and when she answered for herself that she was accepting the christian faith, it was ok.

some part of me wishes she had chosen not to do it, mostly because as i heard those mothers accepting on behalf of their children today during the service, i thought about what a hard time i would have had, standing there lying in a church. because although i'm also raised in the tradition, i don't think i believe in it all in the same way anymore. but i believe she has gone into this with open eyes and that what she has accepted is to be an active part of the culture in which she is raised and in the western cultural tradition as a whole. i am also confident that she is an enlightened young woman and she is aware that the bible is a collection of stories with a historical basis and which are metaphors for meditation on the larger questions of life. we didn't baptize her because we wanted her to choose for herself and now she has, which is precisely what we wanted for her, that she would be the one to choose, not us. and next weekend, along with the rest of her peers and social group, she will be confirmed, not only into the church, but into the culture.

and there is something special about the ceremony of it all. i think that we, as humans, need ceremony in our lives. ceremonies around the different junctures - marriage, birth, puberty, winter and spring transitions and yes, death. the christian religion gives us that. and maybe that's not all bad.

Friday, April 18, 2014

skrot on the brain

skrot - it's a danish word for scrap, not something naughty, tho' it does look a bit naughty somehow. for me, it also has the connotation of being scrap metal, so it conjures images of fetching bits of rusty wire and iron. so i was very excited when our local art group, creagive (get that, we're creative in give) chose skrot as the theme for our yearly spring exhibition.

i didn't participate in last year's exhibition, as i felt like i really couldn't since i'm not a painter, but with this theme, it lends itself more to the mixed media/collage-style that i like. and with five days off here for easter, i'm getting down to business in earnest on the pieces i've been mulling over in my mind for several months. i got permission to go explore the container above (which i had sneaked a photo of a couple of weeks ago) and take what i'd like for the pieces i have but a vague picture of in my mind. alas, i went today to have a look and found, to my horror, that the container had been emptied. i'll be honest and tell you that i almost cried. i could picture one of my little fobots (found object robot) with curly hair made of those metal shavings and now that they're gone, i'm not sure what to do.

some members of the group were quite horrified by the theme, coming up with all kinds of violent and sexual connotations for the word (there is a meaning of it that's along the lines of up yours). but i say there's still potential to artistically explore those meanings as well, even tho' the word doesn't bring such things to my mind when i ponder it. perhaps i'm a little too in love with shipyards, as those are the images that come to mind for me - enormous, rusty bits of metal, lying around, looking fetching. i can see all kinds of potential in those. and i find myself also pondering ways of working some lego into my pieces - the contrast between the rusty metal and the colorful plastic could be very interesting.

in addition to a little grouping of fobots, i've also ordered this photo of a ship that's being scrapped in a large size. husband is going to help me make a frame that echos the scrap theme as well. i've found so much inspiration in the notion of rusty hunks of metal. i'm lucky there's no limit this year to how many pieces you can contribute. but we'll see how many of the ideas floating in my head and on my pinterest board, make it into reality and how they look when they do. inspiration is a wonderful thing.

a little gin review

every time i go down to germany, i pick up a few bottles of gin. i try to get old favorites (geranium, hendrick's) and a couple of new ones that we've never tried before. they have an awesome selection at the big grocery store, citti, and even a good selection in the various border shops, so there's always something exciting. to try. this time, i got blackwoods and tann's. with various guests, these two bottles are already gone! we definitely liked the blackwoods best of the two and i would even buy it again. we've been on a schweppes bitter lemon kick and used that with these gins instead of tonic, just for a change of pace. the blackwoods stood up to it better than the tann's, with just the right amount of juniper able to cut through the bitter lemon.

tann's is a much milder, less ginny gin. and by that i mean that there's hardly any juniper taste to it. in fact, if we'd had it with tonic, we'd have been sorely disappointed. it's a good gin to mix with bitter lemon. it's also a good gin to serve to people who say they don't really like gin, as what they likely don't like is that piney juniper flavor and tann's definitely lacks that. as a result it also lacks the crispness that i think that gin should have. i don't believe we'll be putting it in the cart again, despite the pretty purple bottle.

this is very interesting - it's a gin liqueur, not a regular gin. i'd bought hayman's before and we liked it and i'll admit i thought i was buying the normal hayman's again, expecting its crisp, clean finish. it was only after i got it home that i discovered that it was a liqueur. it's part of a trend i just read about in the new york times - liquor with split personalities. the article doesn't mention gin, but instead oak-barrel aged tequila and bourbon that's been sent to sea. but a gin liqueur is a similar hybrid. and it's just up husband's alley, as he's much more partial to sweet drinks than i am. we have used it like normal gin, mixing with the bitter lemon and he really likes it. me, less so, as i'm not keen on sweet. but it's good to have something on the shelf that's good for husband's evening drinkie poo and this is definitely perfect for that.

what are you drinking these days?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

why have i never felt young? #tbt

sabin and i in chicago in, i think, 2005. i was clearly still in my morning news anchor hair phase. i put this on facebook and a friend remarked that we were sweet and oh, so young. and it's true, i can see that (especially with sabin). but looking back, i don't think i felt young then. i can't remember ever feeling young, actually.

ever since i left college after my first year and lived for a couple of years in california (finding myself? losing myself?) before going back to a different university to finish my studies, i've felt older than the rest of the pack. because i'd spent those couple of years, i was then a couple years older than my fellow sophomores when i did return to university. that left me older than my fellow students in my various master's programs as well. tho' less so at arizona state, where there were other "mature" students in the program. i was a couple years older than my fellow fulbright scholars back in macedonia. i was rather old when husband and i got married (31) and pretty old when i had sabin (33), my first child.  that would put me at about 37 in this photo and i have to say that i didn't feel young. i was an older mother. older mothers are the norm now, i realize, so it's not with any sense of shame i say that. it's more that i feel a little regretful that i can't remember feeling young.

what is it about the times that we are in, that we can't appreciate them or really see them until later, in retrospect?

little pigs

we are getting such a kick out of the pigs. they come running up, curious and sweet, when we come out. bacon here had to snuffle up to my shoes to see if they were something to eat.

they run up, but then they also run away, squealing if you make the slightest movement, so they're both drawn to us and repelled. it's really very cute. sabin ran laps around their fence and they followed her on the inside, a bit like dogs, actually, squealing and kicking up their heels in absolute delight.

sabin crouched down and they immediately came up to her.  my favorite is the one with red around her eyes, just because she looks so cute. i'm thinking of changing her name to truffle and teaching her to find them so that we can keep her forever and ever. the one with the black spot on her side is the alpha pig, despite being slightly smaller, but overall, they get along great.

it's amazing how quickly our resolve to eat them come fall weakens in the face of their sweetness, curiosity and intelligence.

we're already discussing letting them be our mama pigs that we keep and raise piglets to eat from. i suggested that to husband and a look of relief flashed across his face. he's falling for them just as much as sabin and i are.

here truffle had to run away from sabin because she got scared of nothing at all. they run a little ways away and then turn and look and immediately start cautiously to come back.

truffle. i think that's a good name for her, don't you?

Monday, April 14, 2014

full moon rising

here's what it looks like when i attempt to photograph the moon.

and here's what it looks like when sabin takes the photo.
she's a natural, i tell you.

they say there will be a lunar eclipse tonight, but it will be tomorrow morning for us and it won't be so visible here. but at least we got to see the gorgeous moon tonight.