The Unwanted Visit of Jon-Ass

gingergrizzlyIt has been a very unusually mild winter on the East coast so far, with Christmas day hitting 70 Fahrenheit (21 Celsius).  Most days in December had blue skies and we didn’t even start the oil furnace.

I seriously considered preparing the Christmas feast on the BBQ, light the fire pit and then do some insane Marshmallow rice pudding creation for dessert.  In the end I opt’d for the traditional dinner in the oven.

People really enjoyed the mild winter and I was careful not to jinx it.  But, deep inside I knew we would get snow, and it would be back to snow clearing the ridiculous long driveway.

The news started to report about strange weather behaviours and snow was falling in Nashville.  Our local weather-guy forecasted the arrival of a Nor-Eastern storm, bringing a lot of snow.

Stage is set for the arrival of Jonas (aka Jon-Ass)

Not sure who comes up with these storm names, but Jonas Brothers were indeed an annoying phenomenon … they came, stayed for a brief moment and left us with annoying songs.  And, the equally Jonas Berggren who gave us Ace of Base.  You get the point, Jonas is annoying!

girls

Girls at Work

Late Friday evening the first flurries were dropping, and by the time we woke up we had about an inch.  Not much, but the sky was only getting started, and the intensity grew.

By 1 pm we had about 8 inches and the girls braved the blizzard to go hit the slopes (i.e. our silly long and steep driveway.

I stepped outside a few times, but each time my beard was filled with icicles, bringing back memories of my viking days sailing around the fjords of Alaska.  Back then, we only went to shore to pillage and sleep with the locals.

By Sunday morning, the snow had stopped falling, and the total accumulation was closer to 16-18 inches.

It looked absolutely stunning.  The white landscape, the silence and the powdery snow was only disturbed by the local wild life.

BUT, looks can be very deceiving, especially as we have a stupid long driveway.  It’s paved, but that does not make it any easier to clear.  Thankfully I have it almost down to a science.

Here’s the snow clearing recipe:

  • clear 95% with snow-blower; this will cause you to be covered with snow all over, resembling the abominable snowman.  It’s rather painless exercise, but wrists may become sore as you push engine forward.
  • scrape the remaining layer manually, to see black tarmac; this is a painful activity, which will keep on giving for several hours after you are done. However, if the sun is out, this will result in quicker melting
  • sprinkle the magic; by far the easiest job, and one you will have to compete for with the rest of the family.  You simply sprinkle some snow/ice melting salt over the areas, to remove the remaining snow.

Although, it also make you feel like a retired WWII veteran.  You back is killing you.  Muscles you did not know you had will ache. Some exposed body parts will be numb due to cold and limited blood circulation.

Two hours of hypothermia, white knuckles, icicles in beard and eyebrows, can’t-feel’my-knees sensation and frostbitten eyeballs.  It’s worth it man!

My driveway is now spotless.  Pride of the neighbourhood.  I’m the driveway-snowclearing-hulk … or just the ginger grizzly :-)

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER (and I found three cars)

AFTER (and I found three cars)

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Me, Panic & Chagall

auction-hammer2016 was kicked off with a liquidation sale, hoping to get our hands on some nice rugs for the house and perhaps a few other impressive pieces.  We were expecting good deals.

We drove 2 hours to the auction house and were greeted by a large room filled with art, rugs and furniture.  Not too sure where this loot came from, but the auction was sponsored by US Treasury.  I can only suspect that the goods were seized from bankruptcies, illicit activities and perhaps even Joaquín Guzmán‘s lavish warehouse.

Either way, we walked around and inspected all the goods carefully, to prepare ourselves for the auction.  We spotted a few nice rugs and took our seats in the audience.

Impressive art pieces were sold off which included original sketches and paintings from Chagall, Picasso, Dali, Miro and many other famous artist (living and dead).  It was a fairly intimidating to sit among a small group of people who had no problems forking out $3-15 thousand for these pieces.  Many were a steal for these buyers as they would go for 10 times more in art auctions.

My wife and I glanced at each other throughout the first hour and were both amazed with the bidding and purchases.  With these prices, we would not be able to buy anything, but we stayed for a bit longer.

Suddenly a line of art pieces were presented by Chagall, whom my wife really like.  It weren’t the originals, but limited lithographs of the original.  I could tell my wife was impressed with these pieces.

The liquidator offered the line (4 paintings) and the person winning the bid would get first choice.

Without having control of my right arm, I suddenly raised my pad to indicate I wanted to buy a piece.  I identified the piece and it was accepted.  And, according to auction rules, there was no backing out.

chagallmoment

Me and My Chagall

I had no idea what came over me. I vaguely remember having minor panic attack when it went down. I must have been possessed by the Dark Lord, or some X-Men mind control.

My wife was utterly surprised (not as much as I) and had witnessed the whole event in slow-motion.  She wasn’t mad. Phew!!

At first I thought I had bought a poster in a frame, and was extremely pissed at myself for trying to impress my wife of 14 years.  What the hell was I thinking?  We came to buy rugs and now I was the happy owner of a Chagall lithography.  Very limited edition with a certification of authenticity.

This was insane, but yet a cool feeling.  It was by no means as expensive as the other pieces.  My wife was impressed and gave me a sexy wink. AND, a strict warning followed by a sucker punch not to do it again :-)

This was our first and probably last auction.

However, I have now joined the art collector group, although this piece will be able to fund my kids’ college tuition.  Might cover the books for year 1.

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Homemade Beer Brewer

braumeister… or Braumeister as we call them in Germanic language, given the old beer making skill was kicked off at a larger scale in Germany in the 13th century.

“But from whichever it is made, whether from oats, barley or wheat, it harms the head and the stomach, it causes bad breath and ruins the teeth, it fills the stomach with bad fumes, and as a result anyone who drinks it along with wine becomes drunk quickly; but it does have the property of facilitating urination and makes one’s flesh white and smooth.”  – Scully, Terence. 1995. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages

viking drinking hornAs part of my native viking roots, I always had the urge to make the God’s nectar myself.  Drinking with Thor himself from a traditional viking drinking horn.

That day was realised when my lovely Inca flower (wife) presented me with a beer making kit for Christmas.  It wasn’t mjød (mead), but awesome black Irish stout mix.

I rarely consider the skill and patience required to make beer.  It’s just something that I enjoy drinking.  Pop a few cold bottles or cans on the BBQ table, and they quell your thirst.  It goes well with most dishes, expect deserts :-)

Hear ye! Hear ye!  Making beer is not that simple.  I can testify to that after having kicked off a batch of the Irish stout in my kitchen.  Thankfully the kit comes with all the necessary gear and instructions for making a gallon of Irish stout.

Personally, I prefer to dress like duck dynasty to make it more authentic, or just because I had not showered for a week. Any little ingredient makes it more personal :-)

My photos only show until the fermentation phase, which takes 2-3 weeks.  Once that has completed, I will share the verdict.

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Goodnight Gollum

babygollumBedtime is usually the time of the day, where you either have a happy moment with bedtime stories and hugs, or you have a fight on your hands as your child does not want to sleep.  There are rarely any other outcomes for bedtime … or so I thought!

While reading bedtime story for my 5-year old daughter, I was getting a little impatient with the speed of her putting on her pyjamas.  She was moving at turtle speed minus 10mph, almost going back in time and putting on clothes again.

At times, when showing my frustration, I turn on my heavy metal scary voice.  I don’t like getting upset at bedtime, so try to make it a little different and fun.

With my best monster growling voice I utter a short phrase “get pyjamas on or I will tickle you until you pee your pants!” –  obviously just a silly parent tactic and I would never do that to my child doh!!!  I’m the one having to clean up afterwards.

I repeated the phrase a few times, when suddenly my 5-year old angel turned around.  Her eyes were focused directly at me.  She concentrated and said in her best Gollum voice “I will get ready.  I have brushed my teeth.  I will kill you!!”

SHIT!!!

I just poohed my pants and almost had a triple heart attack, while shaking uncontrollably. This little Gollum gave me a good scare, and now I’m afraid of the dark. It brought memories of the REDRUM scene in ‘The Shining‘.

I think my wife should put this little cutie to bed the next many evenings!

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Merry Christmas – hope you’re not offended

123ae2681b367cb92eb1d77ec787fdafIt is obvious – we live in a World were freedom of speech has become a misused verb.  It has lost its value and has been replaced by an exaggerated use of political correctness, which is driven into us by the media and daily routines.

Heck, even this blog might be considered inappropriate and offend people.  It may even go viral, but somehow I doubt it.  It’s just a post written by a middle class white immigrant dude, who’s enjoying life and living the American Dream.

What do I mean?

People can no longer express opinions, be assertive or even be proud of their heritage without worrying about how people might react.  We are stepping on glass, and at times that prevents us from being creative and drive progress.

Personally, I could care less what color, religion and political views you have, as long as you treat people the same way you want to be treated.  It’s rather simple really.

In an ideal World, we respect each others believes and traditions.  Just because you have a Christmas tree in your front-garden, and greet people with ‘Merry Christmas’ does not mean that you are attempt to offend people.  Heck, you are just happy and want to pass on your happiness to others no matter background.

  • I say Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends and Happy Eid al-Fitr to Muslim friends.
  • I hug my African-American friends just as hard as I hug my Irish/Danish relatives
  • I drink Guinness just like my Irish friends (not as much :-) )
  • I love food from around the World, no matter who cooked it
  • I’m utterly amazed with cultures and sights when travelling

We have to be careful we don’t put up too many obstacles for people to enjoy each others company. Some people will always be offended, and they will never be happy.

It’s like dealing with Father Jack (Father Ted series) or Archie Bunker (All in the Family series).  You just can’t make them happy no matter what you do.  But, let’s be polite to each other, respect each others celebrations and traditions.

So, my words to you during the festive season “Merry Christmas y’all.  I love you all and hope you will have lots of love in the future”.

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My Father, My Hero, My Captain, My Friend, My Mentor

Farfar5 years – At times it feels like an eternity. At times it feels like yesterday.

My beloved father passed away in April 2010, only a few weeks after my third child was born.  Thankfully he got to meet her during a quick Skype call, and I know he’s watching over her and the rest of the family from wherever he is.

I’m confident I’ve felt his presence many times during the last few years, as my little family have worked through our new life challenges and if I have been in a situation where his guidance would have been of great help.

In those moments, I have felt his calm hand on my shoulder; as if he was reaching down to say “it’ll be alright, and just do what your heart tells you”.

I miss him very much.  I know my sister and mother miss him too.  It is a great loss and we have been through too many things in recent years.  Some less positive, but even the negative moments have made us stronger as a family – even across the ocean from USA to little Denmark.

It is wonderful to think that my kids still remember farfar.  Not necessarily what he looked like, but his kindness and warm person he was.  When thinking of the few moments my children got to spend with him, and how the cherished these, it makes me a little teary.

As we originates from the vikings, it’s only appropriate to share an old viking prayer –

Lo, There do I see my Father

Lo, There do I see my Mother and

My Brothers and my Sisters

Lo, There do I see the line of my people back to the beginning

Lo, They do call to me

They bid me take my place among them in the halls of Valhalla

Where thine enemies have been vanquished

Where the brave shall live Forever

Nor shall we mourn but rejoice for those that have died the glorious death.

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The Rock

Once upon a time, while enjoying my childhood summer, I got trapped on a rock for what felt hours or even days.  It was actually rather traumatic experience, and I’ve been afraid of rocks ever since :-)

Setting the scene

cottageMany years ago, during the amazing 70s, my parents bought a small summer house cottage on a small idyllic island called Strynø. It was like taken from one of HC Andersen’s fairy tales. Small cottages with thatched roofs, cobblestone roads, wonderful fields and small village.  The village centre had a super market, school, municipal building, and supermarket-icecream parlour-post office (all in one building).  You could only get there by ferry and it only sailed a few times a day.  If you ran out of groceries, you had to live of berries :-)

We normally went during late spring and most of the summer.  The family Renault 16 (yellow of course) was packed to the brim with supplies and clothes.  In Denmark, you can’t be too sure you get hot weather during the summer, so had to be prepared for anything possible.

While visiting the summer house, we kids spent 98% of the day outside.  Danish parenting is somewhat different, as we (kids) are left to fend for ourselves and learn as we go.  Meals are served during the day, and my parents would open the door, tell us not to come back until dinner time.  We had time to explore, climb, play ball, eat berries and just be kids … without too much adult supervision.  IT WAS AWESOME :-)

Anyway, during one of these wonderful hot summer days, us kids went on a stroll and ended up by a huge field at the end of a dusty dirt road.  There was a big fence with a gate around the field, but that only means kids are allowed, or it meant something was so big and scary that it had to be locked away.

… but who cares about a gate when we can crawl over it and run in the field.  And so I did!

I was the first one not over, but through the fence, and ran laughing across the field with the sun baking down on me.  I turned around to shout for my sister and friends, only to discover that they were still by the fence/gate.  They had a strange look of fear and I could vaguely hear them shout “RUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN” (in Danish of course) and pointing at something.

My eyes followed their frantic pointing and suddenly I saw this beast with horns come galloping towards me.  I let out a loud yelp, turned and legged it towards a giant rock in the middle of the field.  The beast was gaining on me and I could hear it’s heavy breathing and hoofs hitting the ground hard.

ramboramI jumped the last few yards onto the rock – to safety – and turned around to stare right into the angry eyes of a ram.  He was not a happy camper.

Perhaps he thought I was trying to hook up with his lady sheep or just didn’t like intruders.

I shouted to my sister for help, only to be greeted by hysterical laughter and them pointing at me sitting on a rock, pinned down by an angry beast protecting his turf.

After what felt like hours, probably only a few minutes, my sister finally went for help. Another “hour” went by and I heard the wonderful voice of my dad.

My hero, my saviour had arrived.  My dad can beat and scare off any monstrous ram, or other vile creature of the devil.  Or so I thought.  He was muttering some elaborate escape plan with another dad who had come to help, but I wasn’t seeing any progress in getting me off the bloody rock.

Without water for several “hours” my body was getting weaker and I was not sure I would survive this.  In a panic moment, I attempted to crawl down from the rock, only to be greeted by the ram.  He had absolutely no intentions of letting me survive this.

Suddenly I saw the other dad at the other end of the field, shouting for the ram.  It worked and it started to run towards him.  A few seconds later, my dad was next to.  As he reached for me, the ram suddenly turned and starred a us.  No time to waste, my dad yanked me off the rock and started to run with me on his back.

gimliMy dad was not built for running, a bit like Gimli with short legs, but he was going so fast that his legs were a blur to me.  I could see the ram running after us, and gaining valuable ground.

As we finally reached the gate, my dad threw me over it and jumped up to climb over.  The ram hit the gate and then started to eat the grass my sister was feeding the sheep.  So much for a vicious smoke breathing beast!

So, I learned my lesson.  Never jump a gate to a fenced off field.  If you do, be sure to wear runners and large bunch of grass.

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My Childhood Stories

7080My kids are very keen on hearing more from when I was a kid.  Stories about their grandparents (farmor and farfar), my childhood adventures and why I’m so silly at times.

What better way than writing these short stories and share them with the World.

I will be releasing these adventures using the ‘childhood’ category and #mychildhood tag.

It will be proof that I survived both the #70s and #80s without electronics and smartphones.  There is a life without these gadgets although it is hard to fathom these days.

The morale of my life stories?

Share your stories with your kids will hopefully make them appreciate what we have today, not be afraid of the great outdoors and (fingers crossed) avoid making the same mistakes I made as a kid.

In the end, it just to share and generate laughs :-)   YOLO

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The Blob Reborn

blobIn 1958 and 1988 a classic horror was made (and re-made) called The Blob.  It was in reality a pretty shitty movie, but I still enjoyed watching the odd mesmerizing blob rolling over its victims.

Almost another 30 years have passed and I have prevented the return of the Evil Blob.

The joys of being a father and husband, and home owner, comes with a long list of responsibilities.  I’m not even going to attempt to share this lengthy list with you, as I’m sure you are fully aware of said responsibilities.

One of these involves cleaning the bathroom sinks, and is one of my less favourite activities.  Not that many house chores are a delight, but this one will eventually end up on Dirty Jobs.

To cut a very long story short.  Living with girls have a small hygienic side effect, especially if the girls have longer hair than Kojak.  As they spend time in the bathrooms to get ready for the day, then obviously groom themselves while looking in the mirror.  The mirror is strategically placed above the sink.

Ever so often your bathroom sink becomes clogged up and you might as well clean it regularly to avoid build up – or feel the wraith of your partner as it starts to smell from the sink.

sinkHonestly, I hadn’t cleaned any of the sink drains since moving in to the house almost a year ago, and the water was not leaving the sink quickly.  In fact, it was at times not draining, only to be followed with a few vile bubbles popping with a nasty smell of sewage.

The best way to clean drain is by taking off the trap, and clean it with a bottle-brush.  Please make sure to place a bucket underneath the trap, to catch water and gunk.  Yes, there will be plenty of odd smelling water and gunk.

Two out three sinks went rather well.  Not too much gunk, although I did get sprayed with foul-smelling water as I pulled out the bottle-brush.

The last and most dreaded drain was the kids’ sink.

As I disassembled the trap, and gently pulled it away, I was greeted by a flood of brown smelling water sitting in the trap.  The stench filled up the cabinet.  I was seeing strange colours.

The trap suddenly dropped and a ginormous hair-blob-gunk thingy landed on my hand.  It slowly slid down my fingers, stayed there for a few seconds before sliding off into the bucket.

I was horrified.  I swear I felt small bites and something stinging on my skin.  Not too sure what organism it was, but it was the Blob Reborn.  I quickly grabbed it with some paper and dropped it into the toilet.  As it flushed I could hear scraping sounds as if it was trying to survive.

Anyway, it’s dead now.  It’s probably roaming the local sewers swallowing rats and alligators.  Hopefully it doesn’t come back to haunt me for Halloween.

It’ll one a while before I dare to attempt that chore again.  My hand is still scared.  The ‘joys’ of having girls :-)

Doing the drains yourself does save you a few hundred dollars each time, so it is worth it.

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Technical Affair

elcoIt was an odd feeling when I drove my trusted El Camino to another mechanic.  Ever since I bought the beast, I have been seeing the same mechanic.  He knew her inside out and treated her really well.  I even got a discount on different services, and sometimes a freebie.

But, having moved 20 miles away, I felt it was difficult to commit to a long distance relationship, and had to look at alternative offerings.

Recently I was forced to going to another mechanic.  One of my tires was flat and it was clear I needed new tires.

I frantically searched for local mechanics and read all the reviews, before finally deciding to go meet the new prospective mechanic.  It was almost like a real interview during the first visit. I simply had to get a feel for the new place before trusting them with the beast.

The date was settled and I brought the El Camino to the shop.  At first I was reluctant to hand over the keys, and I suddenly burst out “change her oil too“.  Not too sure what happened, but I dropped my guards and opened up.  The mechanic smiled and I went home.

A few hours later I got the call.  I could pick her up.

It was like I had cheated on my mechanic, who probably was wondering what he had done wrong since I hadn’t been back from months.  Is it normal to feel guilty about changing mechanic?

I consider this a one-off affair and hope my trusted mechanic will take us back!  It was just an oil change and new tires on the front.  It wasn’t serious :-)

The Mechanic 2 Resurrection Movie

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