Weekly Photo Challenge: Family (Photo albums, Copenhagen, and Hoarding Memories)

Bob’s father was the ultimate memory-hoarder. When Bob worked for the airlines, they took at least one international trip together each year as long as his dad was able to travel. I knew in the back of my mind that Copenhagen was a favorite, but that trip happened before I knew Bob very well. Bob always said he wanted to go back, but with going to new places, and then later spending time on health needs and hospitals, it was a trip we didn’t get to take.

After Sam and I came home from our own Copenhagen trip last October, I had a slap-upside-the-head moment, and remembered Bob’s father’s photo albums. Now I’ve got them out, and marvel at the detail: neatly organized prints, typed captions, and a three page trip journal. Does memory-hoarding get better than this?

Copenhagen street corner fountain

Copenhagen street corner fountain, July 1982

Trip Journal, Copenhagen

Trip Journal, Copenhagen

Bob's father with the Little Mermaid; Bob in the blue shirt, lower right.

Tourist’s Copenhagen — Bob’s father with the Little Mermaid, and that’s Bob in the blue shirt, lower right.

It gives me a jolt to see these photos from 30 (30? yes 30!) years ago and know that we so lately walked some of the same paths.

The trip journal doesn’t give me any details about where they stayed. I know they went with three friends, stayed in an apartment, and when the apartment’s owners came home from vacation, they all spent time touring together.

It dawned on me that Bob had a framed print that might be related, so I found it and pulled it out for a look. The names in the captions are the same as the people they stayed with, though the date is an earlier year. I don’t know if they’re connected, or if so, how their connection came about, and there’s no one to tell me now. This will have to remain one more mystery.

"København's International Settlement"

“København’s International Settlement”

Detail: "Københavns International Settlement" with captions

Detail: “Københavns International Settlement” with captions

Speaking of connections, I realize now that this explains the set of Royal Copenhagen dishes that Bob took such care of (but didn’t use), why he had the teak bookcases, the lounge chair and ottoman from the House of Denmark furniture store (all of which sit in my living room today), the Bing and Grøndahl Christmas plates he gave his mother each year, his favorite beret and navy wool sweater, and oh yes, that bottle of Aalborg aquavit that I found on a shelf the basement. This was a trip he cherished, and I’m sorry he didn’t get to go back one more time.

Color prints are not archival, and like all memories, these photos are starting to fade. I’ll scan some more now, and pass the album forward to the next generation of family while it’s still colorful.

What’s your favorite way of hoarding memories?

Copenhagen album: one more look

Copenhagen album: one more look

Thank you WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for choosing the topic Family and reminding me to honor Bob’s father by sharing his album.


Coming Home


Clear sky in Copenhagen.

Coming home from a trip to Europe and seeing my house after two weeks away gives me some much needed objectivity. It’s more than just coming back to my house, it’s coming back to my life, and it provides a fresh look at what I’m doing – what works and what doesn’t. It also makes me think more about what kind of place I want to live in when I finish this house-simplification project.

What is it that looks so different around home?  First: it’s so BIG.

After two weeks of hotel rooms and living out of our suitcases, a whole house seems just …wrong. I’m not going to expand on how self indulgent I feel coming home to not only a car in my garage, but my 20+ year old pickup too.  Ecologically, it’s not a pretty comparison to all the bicycles in Copenhagen.

IMG_3599 It’s not only the house that seems big. Sam and I both loved Copenhagen, but we both like our coffee. And we’re frugal. So imagine two frugal coffee drinkers keeling over in horror at their first sight of the price of a cup of coffee in Denmark, especially when we were jet lagged and really needed caffeine. Our stopover in Reykjavik was expensive too (more about Iceland in a future post).

Then we spent a couple of days in New York on the way home. The first morning, we went to breakfast at the little shop across the street from our NYC hotel, and I was shocked again – this time by the size of what now seemed like a vast bucket of American coffee. It was the same size I usually get when I go out for coffee here in the States, but I hadn’t quite realized before how huge it was, or that it was good, as coffee goes, but not delicious. Those Danish cups were expensive, but they were flavorful, and I have to admit, a small one was enough.

By the way, the breads and pastries were yummy too.

Copenhagen breakfast breads, Hotel Opera

Just one of the tables at breakfast, Hotel Opera.

OK, move along past the pastries folks, nothing more to see here …

Second difference: this house is complicated!

Big brings complexity, and complexity can be a waste of time. I want something easier to take care of. 

I want my home to be like the coffee in Copenhagen — small and delicious and enough.

What else do I see differently now that I’m back home? I see I’ve been slowing down lately. I’m hoping this new objectivity lasts long enough to help me ramp up my speed at letting go of stuff. Last spring I wrote about having too many plants. Yes, I gave some away, but now it’s autumn and time to bring the houseplants back inside. Guess what: apparently they have expanded over the summer. I still have way too many. And the books… I haven’t sorted any more books since I pledged to finish five more boxes by the end of the year. I see that blogging has a way of keeping me honest.

OK: enough thinking about it – back to work!

Does your house look different when you come home from a trip?

Synchronicity & related articles:  Word Spy: “Copenhagenization”