Summer Cycling

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

As I got caught in a crazy summer rainstorm on the way to and from school yesterday, I was reminded of the challenges that biking in the summer weather here entails. I spend at least an hour a day on my bike usually, so I try to be as comfy as possible. And avoid having to stop in cafes to wipe off my running mascara with a napkin, as I did yesterday. Here are some of the things I've found that makes biking life easier in the warmer weather. Pretty bike basket and cup holder picture by Elizabeth Weinberg

1. Summer dress - Look for loose and lightweight dresses that aren't too constricting for biking in. 
2. Sunglasses - Good for sunny and windy days. I have a pair of clear sunglasses for the grey and rainy days too. 
3. Cotton scarf - Great for layering and using as a picnic blanket if you stop in the park.
4. Bike shorts - Seems silly, but the Canadian in me doesn't feel comfortable with my skirt flying up. 
5. Boat shoes - If you get caught in the rain, you won't be walking with wet feet for hours in these. 
6. Zipper pouches - Pack all your biking gear up in pouches that you can easily throw in your bag. 
7. iPhone bike band - I'm addicted to listening to podcasts from This American Life during my bike commutes. 
8. Natural sunscreen - A helmet will help keep your face somewhat protected, but it's always a good idea to wear some sunscreen too.
9. Packable rain poncho - Yes, you will look like a tourist but these things are awesome if you are out in a storm.
10. Cuppow - To turn a Mason jar into a drinking cup so you can take your iced coffee along with you. 
11. Cup holder - For that Mason jar of iced coffee I was talking about. Or your morning smoothie. 

You can also find my guide to winter cycling here. Happy biking!

Paint It White

Monday, May 28, 2012

I've been slowly getting back into regular life since my exam last Tuesday and have been catching up on the little things I didn't have time for when I was living in the library. It's been so summery out and that combined with holidays and friends from Canada visiting makes me a happy camper. Luckily the weather is supposed to turn rainy starting tomorrow, which aligns perfectly with my need to get back into the library to study for my final exam which is in a few weeks. It's an oral exam in Danish, which I am incredibly nervous for. I've been trying to listen and speak as much as I can, I'm not really sure how else to study for it. Hopefully I'll still have some time for blogging, I've been missing it. Meanwhile, here are a couple of super quick projects I did this weekend. I used some white model paint to dip dye some wooden spoons and paint a cross on our hacked Ikea medicine cabinet, a la Door Sixteen. I was, of course, my impatient self and pretty much freehanded it, which gives a somewhat "rustic" effect. Now I'm itching to paint a bunch more things around our apartment, sometimes the littlest things can make such a difference.

Blue & Green

Monday, May 14, 2012

I promise that soon I will start being a real blogger again and post things other than a few Instagram photos every once and a while. But this has been my life lately. Thanks for sticking it out with me, for all your incredibly sweet comments on my post about Tiggy, and for checking in on me while things have been quiet around here. I am doing much better, but things are still a bit up and down sometimes. I haven't been feeling much like spending time in the internet world lately, although you guys are really the best and I do miss reading about what everyone has been up to. The thing is that during this last while when things have been a bit rough, the internet has just been making me feel bad. I really love blogging (and other social media) for all the inspiration and community, but the superficial aspect can also get to me at times. I think the Things I'm Afraid to Tell You movement is a really good one. A lot of the points that have been raised are also ones that I've thought about a lot; the whole authenticity versus aesthetics thing. I usually don't mind the edited version of life that happens online, but lately it's been leaving me feeling empty and envious of all the seemingly great things other people are doing, or even worse, jealous over the pretty things they have. I think it's the ugliest feeling, and usually I try very hard not to compare myself to other people too much. Especially not comparing someone's best to my worst, which often seems to happen with online reality versus real life. So I've been trying to step back and focus on real life, and the things that make me feel good instead of bad. I've been spending long days at the library studying for my exams, taking walks in the park in the late evening sun, stopping to admire all the beautiful blossoms everywhere, eating and drinking too much to celebrate lots of birthdays (including my favourite guy's), and having the best weekend ringing in the marriage of my lovely twin Canadane. I still have so much to show you: the rest of the At Home exhibition, our Amsterdam trip, some of the crafts we did for Nicola's wedding and other little projects I've been working on here and there. So hang in there, please, and thank you. 

Goodbye, Tiggy

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ever since I was a little girl, I was a cat lady. The only problem was that I was allergic to them. I was given stuffed cats as compensation but I would still pet the neighbour cats until my skin broke out in hives whenever I saw them. My heart broke when I realized I would never be able to have one of my own. One day my mom brought home a book about cats and in it I discovered that there was a special kind of cat for girls like me. After what must have been an unbearable amount of begging on my part, my parents found a local Devon Rex breeder and we went for a visit. One of the kittens stopped playing when he saw me, wobbled over and curled up into a small ball on my lap. He stayed there the entire visit. And did the same thing the next time we came. The breeders said they had never seem him act that way with anyone else. It was love at first sight. Waiting for him to be old enough to come home seemed like an eternity to my seven year old self. I spent the weeks writing him stories, making him toys, and building him a cardboard house - complete with framed cat portraits inside. I named him Tiger Henry Harmony. Tiger, or Tiggy for short, for his grey stripes, Henry after my favourite storybook cat, and Harmony after his father. Once he was home, I would rush back after school everyday to read him stories, dress him up and play games with him. For the rest of his life he would jump into my lap as soon as I took out a book. I don't have siblings, so Tiggy quickly became a substitute, and my best friend. When I was sick or sad, he was there, crawling up on my shoulder and nuzzling into my neck. I had to slowly get used to him but eventually the slight allergic reaction I would get disappeared and he would sleep next to me at night, scrabbling up the ladder to my bunk bed and curling up between my stomach and knees. 

The first time I left him was to go to a summer camp for a week. I missed him. I remember writing him letters during our quiet time. When I got home I found out that he had been hospitalized because he refused to eat or drink after I left, and would only sit in his cat house that I had made for him. He thought I wasn't coming back but he quickly got better once I did. I had to leave him again when I came to Denmark for the first time in high school. I still missed him but I was happy that he could keep my parents company, and also my grandmother who came to live with us after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I later noticed that she had worn off his fur in certain spots, from petting him the same way for hours. When I came back to go to university, Tiggy would study with me every day, sitting on my piles of articles or curling up next to my computer while I wrote my papers. Being half a world away from my future husband was hard, but Tiggy made me feel like I wasn't really alone. After I decided to move back to Copenhagen, I knew I wanted to bring him with me. While I was packing, he stubbornly sat in my suitcase, climbing back in every time I pulled him out. He didn't make a sound the entire trip over and happily adjusted to life in Denmark. Mark fell in love with him too, despite Tiggy squeezing himself in between us each night and snoring away. He became part of our new little family, just the way he had been part of my family before. 

Last Monday, after about a month of him seeming a bit sick, we were told that he was dying. When I had first brought him in last month, the vet had told me he had pancreatitis and would have to go on a special diet but otherwise was fine. Even though he was seventeen, I wasn't that worried since the food seemed to work and he was his same, sweet self. But last Monday he just seemed so small, and I got worried. He had lost so much weight, when I picked him up he was as light as when he was a kitten, and was more wrinkly than ever before. We were told that his internal organs were shutting down and that it was time to let him go. I was able to bring him home, read him one last story and take him out in the garden where he chased butterflies, rolled around in the daisies, and basked in the sun before he passed away in my arms. I held him like a baby, the way I had since the first time I saw him, and afterwards laid him down on the sheepskin he had slept on his entire life and wrapped him up in his blanket. It was one of the hardest days of my life and my heart still feels like it is in a million pieces. I think anyone that has had a pet can understand how much they become a part of your life. Tiggy was even more than that to me, he also felt like a part of me. It feels very strange, and very sad, to be a cat lady without a cat. I am trying to focus on how lucky I was to have him, and how much I can learn about unconditional love from him. I'm reminded of this quote from The Velveteen Rabbit, one of the many books I would read to Tiggy when I was little:

“What is REAL?" asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day... "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When someone loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.
"Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand... once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.” 

Goodbye, my sweet Tiggy. I'll love you always.

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