Category Archives: Personal

June at one month

It’s been a month of adjustment. Adjusting to scattered sleep schedules. Adjusting to not out-numbering our kids two to one. Adjusting to being a family of four (which still sounds a little weird to me.)

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Despite the fact that June looks so much like Ellen did at this age, there’s no confusing the two in other respects. When Ellen was a month old, she was getting Lisbeth up once a night for an hour at most. With June, Lisbeth is generally up four or five hours a night. Read More →

Wake-a-thon 2011

I had forgotten. I’d forgotten how small newborns are. I’d forgotten that they make strange little squeaks and snorts. I’d forgotten that they don’t have a very loud cry, and that their single purpose is to eat. (Yes, they sleep too, but they sleep only if their single need — to eat — has been met, and they sleep only to gather the strength to empatically request their next meal.) 

June Ellen's main interest in her new sister was in tickling her feet. (There was insufficient response for Ellen's taste.) Ellen's main interest in her new sister was in tickling her feet. (There was insufficient response for Ellen's taste.)

I’d also forgotten that a newborn has no respect for night and day, and that despite the fact that their cry is not loud, it is impossible to ignore. There is no restful sleep in the house of the hungry infant.

Ellen tries tickling her new sister's feet Aunt Hanne with June June

June was, even in the womb, alarmingly active at night. Read More →


On Tuesday, December 6th, our second daughter was born. We’ve named her June Vestergaard Trujillo.

First nap outside of the wombThis time around we opted to take the option of having the birth at home. We did this not because we had a bad experience at the hospital when Ellen came (quite the opposite), and not because we’re dedicated to doing everything the old fashioned way (our tribute to the old-fashioned is pretty much limited to not asking the sex of the child during the scans.)

June Vestergaard TrujilloWe did it mostly for practical reasons: we don’t have a car, and we live in a big modern city, so if anything went wrong, we’re a short ambulance ride from three hospitals. By having the child at home, transportation was not our concern. When the midwife leaves, we’re already in our cozy and warm new house, in December, with our new child.

June Vestergaard TrujilloIt was a great experience, but there were moments when I wondered if I’d regret it. That’s because, even though we knew that delivery usually goes faster for the second child, we were caught off-guard by the pace at which things unfolded. As it turned out, the midwife showed up only eleven minutes before the baby was born.

Lucky, considering

It’s not unusual for victims of CRVO (Central Retinal Vein Occlusion) to permanently lose useful vision in the affected eye. Four weeks ago, I couldn’t read a thing with my left eye (I couldn’t read road signs even if I walked right up to them). Straight lines appeared wavy, and everything had pinkish-gray pallor. And I had little reason to think it would improve.

My healthy right retina, where the arteries and veins look more like tree branches than tree roots. The damaged left retina. Notice the twisted and swollen veins, and the dark spots, which are vessels that have ruptured under the pressure.

But, over the last two or three weeks, it’s gotten dramatically better. Currently the vision in my damaged left eye is almost as good as my healthy right eye (this is possible only because the left used to be the much sharper of the two.) There’s still a slight color distortion, but that I can live with.

Upon being diagnosed, I’d been invited to take place in a research study at the hospital. But today I was sent home after a follow-up evaluation. I was told, “This is certainly not typical vision for someone that’s had a central occlusion.” There’s still a chance that I could suffer a setback, but right now it’s a huge relief to have the use of both eyes.


Ischemia: A decrease in the blood supply to a bodily organ, tissue, or part caused by constriction or obstruction of the blood vessels.

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I know that having a long, healthy life is not owed to me or anyone.

I know that I haven’t always taken care of my body as best I could.

I know that the few troubles I’ve had thus far could easily have been much worse.

I know that whatever health troubles I have now pale in comparison of those to come.

Still, I find permanently losing a significant portion of clarity and color accuracy in my left eye (previously my sharp eye, my camera eye) very, very depressing.

You haven’t lived…

Until you’ve moved by bike.

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The house hunt

Seven easy steps to finding the ideal home:

  1. Stumble into house hunting halfheartedly — pretty much as a joke.
  2. Set a price limit that, while affordable, limits you to houses that are too small for your family, or require at least the asking price in repairs, rendering your price limit meaningless.
  3. Early on, settle on a house that you’re not particularly crazy about. Go the whole way, paying to have it inspected and so forth, and agonize a good deal about it.
  4. Back out at the last minute, triggering huge relief on your part and crushing disappointment on the part of the seller (ideally so much so that they take the house off the market.)
  5. Return to the hunt, mostly because you want to get the whole thing over with.
  6. On the next outing, discover a house that is ideal and pretty much feels like home as soon as you walk in the door.
  7. Make an offer that, given how quickly the sellers accept, causes you to wonder how much you overpaid.

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Stanley E. Coppock (1916-2011)

Stanley E. Coppock (1916-2011)My grandfather was special. He was a special man. He wasn’t just special — in the way that virtually all grandfathers are special. He was more special than that.

Now, in making that claim, I know I sound like any grandchild might when his grandfather passes away. And if you didn’t know him, then that’s all I could expect you to believe. But if you did know him, then you already know what I’m saying is true.

But I didn’t always know my grandfather was special. As a child I only knew that he was my grandpa. I knew he was fun. I knew he was nice. I knew he looked me in the eye when he talked to me and never condescended to me. I knew that my parents, my aunts, my uncles, and my cousins all loved him and loved to be around him.

But I was just a kid. For all I knew, he was exactly like every other grandfather. It was only very slowly that I realized that he was not just any grandfather.

The ranch in 2003

I began to have suspicions when I was only ten or twelve, because of grandpa’s daily trip into town. If I was visiting, he’d invite me to come along, and I’d hop into his truck with him, and we’d run whatever errands he needed to run that day. This always included a stop at the post office, where he’d greet what seemed like every person in town. After that we’d often stop at the bank, where he’d greet every employee by name. He didn’t stop at just the teller that helped him — he’d walk down the line of tellers.
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Forty two

Lisbeth at Cafe Oven VandeI turned forty two this month. To mark the occasion, my loving and generous mother-in-law Karen took the train to Copenhagen and watched Ellen so that Lisbeth and I could go into town and do things we miss, like see movies, have quiet dinners, and converse without being interrupted every five seconds.

We don’t often get out, so we felt that we had to make the most of it. Our first stop was our old neighborhood, Christianshavn, where we had lunch at Cafe Oven Vande, which in addition to having good food and a nice view of the canal, was also the first cafe I tried when I first came to Christianshavn.

The Dagmar cinema Cellar space downtown Silver shop near Amagertorv

After that we went to my favorite camera store (Photographica) where I bought what instantly became my favorite camera strap ever (the Black Rapid RS-4). From there we went to see the latest Coen Brothers’ film, True Grit (which is a solid addition to their body of work, but not a classic.) We then had dinner at Tight, which features the odd mixture of culinary influences from France, Australia, and Canada (it was fine, but I won’t go out of my way to go back.)

Side street in the pedestrian district Illum, a pricey department store in the pedestrian district DR Concert Hall

We topped the day off with a concert at the stunning DR Concert Hall. This is the second concert we’ve been to there and the concert hall itself is almost worth the ticket price. And it’s not just about the light-show on the outside, or the archeticture. The concert space itself is masterfully crafted. Everything from the color of the seats, to the texture of the walls, to the sound itself contribute to the experience. We saw Agnes Obel. I can see how her work isn’t for everyone, but Lisbeth and I like it a lot, and she might sound better live than on her CD.

So much wasted jam

Ellen turns two today. This sounds like a good thing, but in reality it’s the start of a long, tough spell. This means that she’s officially in the “terrible twos,” a year of legendary tantrums and fits.

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But in our case it’s worse than that because in Denmark, it’s the third year that is terrible. It’s called “trods alderen” and it’s just like the American terrible twos, except that it occurs a year later and it’s required by Danish law.

So, unfortunately we’ll spend the next two years scurrying about, trying to give Ellen whatever she wants in a pathetic attempt to avoid her terrible wrath.