This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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My ride

bikeMy brand new Copenhagen ride: a healthy alternative for public transport especially now in coronavirus-times. Heavy and granny-style, in a color what we in Finnish call “poison green” – but just a touch velvety. Hopefully inconspicuous and less attractive for resale, as bike thefts are everyday occurrences here (so common that each home insurance typically has bike theft insurance specifically included).

The problem is, I like my ride a lot already. It will be such a bummer day when it is snatched from me.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2020)


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Everyday hero

BritaThis everyday hero changed my Copenhagen life. The water here is so hard that one droplet leaves a white ring on any surface when it dries. The soil of the houseplants is turning white after just one month of watering. Tea tastes like clay water and cups need manual scrubbing or 2 dishwasher tablets to clean off. Not to mention the tea kettle which is covered in white sediment just after two weeks’ use.

Enter the Brita filter jug. Now water tastes smooth and almost a little bitter, like rainwater. The tea kettle seems to actually clean itself up slowly. And I bet the rainforest plants like rainwater better than limestone water. The only downside with this little wonder is that it is substantial in size but only filters 600 mL in one go, due to the hefty cartridge size. And the cartridge probably needs to be changed every month thanks to Copenhagen water.

Now if only someone installed something similar in the shower…

(Copenhagen, Denmark; March 2020)


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New views

CPH-4After one week’s intensive writing, spiced up by a proper common cold, I extracted myself from my quarters long enough to go for a walk. Without the ultimate purpose of either obtaining groceries or visiting an apartment up for rent, which had been my only outdoors activities in Copenhagen sofar.

What luxury. Even if the Nordhavn quays were windy. And so I followed my sister’s advice and continued the luxury with an insanely expensive lunch high in restaurant Silo. Up here above the harbor I found business people having open sandwiches and aquavit for lunch, on a working day. Well then, I enjoyed two glasses of Provence rosé and the tales of Mary Kingsley in West Africa. Why not, on a Thursday?

(Copenhagen, Denmark; January 2020)

 


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Sleep stories

There is something soothing about focusing one’s attention on a single voice which calmly and contentedly goes on about unimportant but poetic details. Like fuzzy, friendly bumblebees visiting a strawberry planting, or a base guitarist in a rock band who discovered that flowers were his true calling and opened a flower shop. I discovered the Headspace Sleepcasts when they were launched and have loved them since.

Like someone said, I, too, would love to listen to the Night Town sleepcast lady read a phone book. Who is she? Also the narrator of Rainday Antiques and Slow Train seems to have friends. He does sound a little like Sir David Attenborough. Wish it was less of a mystery!

(Copenhagen, Denmark; February 2020)


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My favorite yin yoga sequence

flowerLovely ones, something quite different for a change: my favorite yin yoga sequence. Why? Because yin yoga complements both daily stress as well as most types of workout, including ashtanga yoga. Yin poses first stretch the muscles open and then go to work on the connective tissue: the fascia, tendons, and ligaments. Not only are knotted muscles relieved, but blood flow into joints increases, as does overall flexibility.

The trick is to find a version of a pose that works for your body. One that is challenging but soft enough to allow you to stay in it for at least two minutes, preferably four or longer. Any stretches that make you grind your teeth and sweat within thirty seconds have no place in yin yoga.

I believe in a yin practice designed for each individual body and its issues, depending on how it is built and how it is exercised. Here is my routine, and why I love each pose. Links lead to photos, instructions, and summary of benefits.

  1. Spinal twist, first gently with both legs bent and perhaps one hand pushing the top knee down. For me this works more on the IT tendon and fascia on the outside of the thigh than it does on the spine.
  2. Spinal twist, the deep version with one leg straight along the spine line and the other bent, knee nearing the floor. Both twists are essential for the health of my back and I sometimes do these in bed, first thing in the morning.
  3. Broken (or open) wing pose. It was not easy to find a visual description of my version. To stretch my chest and shoulders I roll over the outstretched arm with a straight leg, placing the other leg on the outside of the straight one and supporting myself with my free hand. Great pose if you spend hours in front of the computer on a daily basis.
  4. Butterfly pose. This is not for hips or hamstrings, but for stretching the lower back. I place my forearms and elbows on the floor in front of my shins, hands facing forward. I stay for at least five minutes, beyond relaxing my lower back muscles, until I feel the ligaments loosen.
  5. Fire log pose. Stretches first the glutes and then the deep hip and piriformis. Hip opener for lotus pose. I usually lean over to one side, supporting my weight on my forearms and placing my forehead on the top foot.
  6. Half frog pose. Leads into frog pose but stretches different adductors for me, the ones that go tight from running.
  7. Frog pose. The idea is to ultimately have your shins, knees, and thighs on the floor, but I have never seen anyone able to do this. This pose is nearly unbearable for me at times of high stress or anxiety, because it stretches deep groin and hip muscles, where so much emotion resides. I also find this nearly unbearable during my period and tend to skip it at those times.
  8. Savasana, preferably as a heart-opener with a bolster or block under my spine to stretch my chest and shoulders.

(Copenhagen, Denmark; January 2020)


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A simple feast

simplefeastEvery second Sunday a big box arrives on my doorstep. Inside are the ingredients for three days of fresh, vegan, organic, unconventional meals, ready within 10-15 minutes each. Not only are the meals green and fast, they are also interesting: Indian curries, Levantese falafel pitas, and Mediterranean goodness. The salads, dressings and toppings that provide detail are often combinations I have never even thought of.

One portion is sufficient for a lunch and a dinner for one person, or two hearty lunches. Perfect for someone working from the home office. And everything that is left behind is biodegradable. Even the empty box gets picked up.

The price per Green Feast meal is the price of a simple café lunch but for me it is the opportunity cost of a) saving time; b) saving grocery shopping; and c) getting a little surprise every second week. And for those who would like to explore healthy vegan or vegetarian fare the Simple Feast meals are also a journey of inspiration.

(Vejle, Denmark; November 2019)


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Winter runs in Vejle

vejle-2The gorgeous forest trails around the house are all unlit at night (oh why? Same thing in Brande!). So on winter’s working days I resort to running a paved route which takes me to the top of Vejle. And the way down is steep. Christian Wintersvej is claimed to be the steepest road in Denmark. Unfortunately I have no photos but trust me, there is a descent so steep in this flat country that it requires the pedestrian section to be made as a looong stairway. While I choose to tackle this one downward it is nearly impossible to cover by running without knee pain at the bottom of the descent.

The way up on the other side of Jellingsvej is a killer, too. While it is less steep it just goes on forever. Fortunately the beautiful parkland and forest is a good distraction. As is the view from the top, over the city center and Vejle Fjord bridge. vejle-1(Vejle, Denmark; October 2019)