Settling In

Walter had me create this fort for him in the Jewish Preschool....


On Thursday we got our new rice cooker and our new scanner. On opening the rice cooker I couldn’t help but cry. Our Zoujirushi rice cooker was my most favorite appliance back in the ‘states. I loved that thing so much I could have named it, but things that create heat are too expensive to convert to different plugs, so I’d sold it to my good friend Ivone before we left. The new one was twice the price and turned out to be half the size. I was relying on it to be something familiar, a rock to cling to in the turbulent sea of settling in and it didn’t look right. However, days later I can tell you that it’s even more wonderful than the old one (it is a newer model after all), makes perfect rice, even when I mess up and only put in half the liquid, and it’s more than enough for our needs. The smaller size will make it easier to haul to our permanent rental and I did end up naming it. Zouhan, if you’re wondering, after the elephant on the branding and ‘han’ like rice.

    The scanner is also glorious, a model five years newer than our last, a more compact size, but a bigger scanning bed, twice as fast and a more thoughtful design. I’m very happy with all our necessary electronic upgrades. Mike got a new set of hair clippers, it was much cheaper than him paying for haircuts, it’s also the same brand as before, but feels nicer in your hands, vibrates less and works just as well.

    We had a long weekend as Friday was Great Prayer Day, sort of like President’s day in the US where it’s a mash up of several smaller holidays that were kicking around. Not sure how people celebrate it, but most of the shops were closed and I took Walter to a couple parks. He had fun playing with a Gambian kid at the first one. I chatted with his mom and asked her if she found Denmark racist, she didn’t, though admittedly I have no idea what it’s like in Gambia, a former British colony…at the second playground Walt played with a Polish immigrant whose mom told me how pretty much every school in Denmark is Waldorf style or Montessori and then he got chased around the playground by a little Pakistani boy who was convinced Walt was his female cousin from back in the old country. In general, no one asks why he wears dresses, only how he isn’t cold. The longer I’m here I’d like to ask why everyone else isn’t hot! Who wear’s long sleeves in 60 degree weather?

    Saturday we went for Shabbat lunch at the Chabad house. The woman who runs it had offered to watch Walt when I go into labor and I wanted to make sure I could do that without worrying. She has nine kids, the youngest is 2 and a little trouble maker like Walter. The Chabad house is in a former Nazi building downtown, a fact they take satisfaction in, and the second floor is a pre-school. The door was unlocked, Walt let himself in and started crying loudly when I dragged him out. Rochel and her husband both assured me as long as I picked up afterwards he was welcome to go crazy in there. It seems the Danish child reverence and belief that they are like little elves, magical and their own people, has totally bled into Jewish culture here as well. I suppose not surprising since I consider one of the biggest redeeming qualities of Chassidic culture to be their love of children. Walt had a ball. I missed prayers watching him, which suited me just fine and then the older kids came up and kept an eye on him so I could eat. 

    The Danish Chassids, the couple running the place have been here twenty years, seemed more mellow than any I had met in the US. I guess the Danish taboo on discussing something as private as religion has had it’s effect. The kids even go to a normal Jewish school in Copenhagen, not a special ultra orthodox institution and admitted they hung out with kids who don’t even keep kosher at home. There’s a Jewish Mommy’s group I’d like to join. They’re going to a nursing home Wednesday, because what elderly person doesn’t like kids? Of course, in Denmark, what person doesn’t like kids? It is such an interesting contrast that in the United States we have freedom of religion and somehow this translates into getting up in people’s faces about your personal beliefs whereas in Denmark they have a state church and yet religion is something private and never discussed.

    Not much else to report. The pregnancy marches on and is going well. We’re waiting on the mailed copy of the lease to sign and make official. Mike has decided to walk at least a mile every day he has off. Walt grows by leaps and bounds now being able to talk about big vs. little and is just making amazing progress with his iPad games. I am appreciating all the greenery and exciting veggies I can get at the markets. I’ve finally amassed enough of a pantry that I can make my food. We had Firecracker chicken (a Shanghai style dish) with our lovely Zouhan made rice and French Breakfast radishes in celebration of the rice cooker and tonight we had peanut curry chicken with kohlrabi and coconut rice. I will add that both kohlrabi and French Breakfast radishes were something I could grow, but not buy back in Massachusetts.  Life is good. Oh, hey, and women here are 6 times less likely to die from childbirth than in the United States. So, crazy as this move has been, it’s good to have the baby in Denmark, right?