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Did You Know Birthdays in Denmark Can Get Rather Spicy?

Pepper Denmark Tradition

So, what’s been going on in my life lately?

Well, I turned 30 earlier this month, so of course my friends tied me to a lamppost and covered me in ground pepper.

Pepper Denmark Tradition

Let me explain:

In Denmark, it’s tradition to cover a person in certain spices if they reach certain age milestones without having gotten married. On your 25th birthday it’s cinnamon (I dodged that one) and on your 30th, as you can see, it’s pepper.

So, how did this tradition start? Well, I’m fairly sure it has something to do with how the Danish expression for an ‘old maid’ is ‘pepper maiden’ (pebermø). Don’t ask me about the cinnamon. For all I know, that might just have been made up by people who were afraid the jackass mate they wanted to harass would get married before he turned 30, so they needed an earlier occasion.

As far as I know, the Danes are the only ones with this tradition. Probably for good reason, since – if your friends are assholes – it can be a rather horrible (and borderline dangerous) experience.

I, however, know that my friends aren’t complete sociopaths who would go overboard with no regards to safety (google it if you want to see what I’m talking about), so I told them they could do it, but also demanded that if they were going to do it, they had to do it properly. Tie me to a lamppost or don’t even bother!

They were happy to abide.

I did get back at them, though. It was a windy evening, and my loose hair was whipping around and throwing pepper at everyone involved. It also felt like a bit of payback for all the times I have been compared to the girl from the Grudge. Fear the hair!

(Insert evil laughter here)

I also tried to hug people after I got free, but for some reason they kept running away from me…

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It’s My Birthday! And I’m… Writing a Blog Post?

Burger Shack Cheeseburger

In case the headline didn’t give away the big secret: It’s my birthday today!

My body is turning 27 and my soul is turning 80. You will likely hear me yell at the neighbor’s kids later, before I go to bed at the usual time at 9.30 pm.

There will be no party, no cake and – thankfully – no singing of happy birthday. My plan, in its entirety, is to go get takeaway food and eat it in the park if the weather stays nice.

This is, of course, because of Corona. Denmark is slowly lifting the lockdown, but it’s still illegal to gather more than 10 people at a time and the guidelines ask you not to be around other people at all unless necessary. I’m a good girl, so for more than a month I have only been talking with my boss, my mom and the lady at the pharmacy, because my doctor keeps prescribing me new drugs (I’m old, remember?).

Obviously I’m going a little crazy.

The most engaging conversation I had in all of April was with the plumber I let into my parents’ place.

We talked about sewage sludge.

I miss people. Twitter is just not the same, though I did wake up to find that Tamora Pierce had retweeted one of my silly owl book photos. That’s kind of neat. I also had a longer conversation yesterday about the cheeseburger I’m going to have later today and it reminded me that my birthday still has its bright spot. That cheeseburger is going to be on my mind all day and anyone who tries to convince me that I should treat myself to something nicer on my birthday will be bitten.

I need that cheeseburger.

Where was I again…? Oh yeah, birthday. I’m rather disappointed, really. I don’t care that none of the two other people in the office has wished me a happy birthday, but I had expected my favorite online bookstore to at least have sent me a discount code to celebrate. I have 18 books on my to-buy list and it’s my birthday, damnit!

I should probably go on Facebook and check if anyone has wished me a happy birthday or if they all think I’m dead because I haven’t been on Facebook for 4 months… But even if I’m dead, it’s still my birthday, so they really have no excuse.

Am I rambling? I might be rambling. What’s up with you guys today? Any wild plans? Do they include food? They should include food.

Sigh I’m going back to dreaming about my cheeseburger now.

UPDATE: I got my cheeseburger.

Burger Shack Cheeseburger


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Hawks, Birthdays and Chicken Blood

As it is my birthday, I thought it called for a personal blog instead of my usual observations and thoughts on indie publishing!

One year older, but not the least bit smarter. I’m just as weird and messed up as I was yesterday. Now I’m just covered in blood as well…

That sentence will actually sound less scary after you hear how I spent my day!

Harris Hawk Most people celebrate their birthdays by going out with friends or family… I decided to spend my day together with a falconer and a couple of his Harris Hawks.

As some of you might know, aside from being a writer, I have a dream of one day becoming a falconer and get to work with birds of prey. I have always had a great fascination for those beautiful birds, and it’s a wonder all my books aren’t filled with falcons(I should totally give Selissa a falcon…).

There’s only a few practicing falconers in Denmark, but luckily I live relatively close to one who offers so called ‘Hawk Walks’ where you get to take out one of his Harris Hawks after having been taught the basics of controlling a falconry bird. It’s a fantastic experience, getting to feel how it is to work together with such an amazing hunter.  It’s definitely addictive.

This was the third time I visited this falconer(I have a nice scar as a reminder of the only time I tried to walk with another falconer’s bird) and the first two times I got to fly the bird he usually used for these ‘walks’, called Odin. Since Odin is used to fly to strangers, he is of course very easy to handle and pretty trustful, but apparently he was on ‘vacation’. What a hawk does on vacation, I will never know…

So it was a huge boost of confidence when the falconer let me try handling one of his hunting hawks, Frigg.

The thing about Harris Hawks(And most other birds of prey) is that the males have a milder temper and are easier to handle. The females are not only almost twice as big, they are also less trustful and more eager to kill. And Frigg is a female Harris Hawk, and not only that, a pretty young one in terms of training.

Compared to Odin, this was like working with a completely wild bird. Normally, I’m pretty calm while handling these birds, but usually I have always been able to read their intents. I admit to being kind of nervous when Frigg landed on my glove and didn’t immediately take off again, but instead sat and studied me intensely. Its eyes were wild and unreadable, not calm like the birds I have tried holding before and in that moment I was not quite sure if it wanted to rip into my face instead of simply taking off from my hand. And the talons on this bird were twice as big as the ones on the male hawks, so that didn’t make me feel much more secure…

But despite my nervousness, it was a very special experience to hold this creature. Everyone can hold a bird that just sit calmly on your hand, another thing is to hold one that, though trained, still very wild in its behavior.

Because of Frigg’s more stubborn and untrustworthy manner, we only went for a short walk with her. For the main trip, he bought out another male Harris Hawk, called Bob.

Yep, that’s right. Odin, Frigg… Bob.

Harris HawkAnyway, with Bob, who was much calmer and mild-tempered(Not to mention the fact that his talons weren’t long enough to cut all the way through my hand), I was back in my comfort zone and I found him to be a very pleasant partner as we walked through the fields with the falconer.

Now, we’re coming to the part where my hands are covered in blood and chicken feathers. I still remember the first time I had to reach into a falconer back, knowing that it was filled with chopped-up chickens. Surprisingly, you get used to it very fast. So fast, in fact, that you forget what has been underneath your nails before you bite them later… Yuck.

After that, the walk went relatively unevenful and I didn’t get any new scars to my collection. And I found out that it’s very difficult to drink a juice box with a falconer glove on one hand and the other smeared in blood and feathers. Not to mention an impatient hawk who was annoyed at not getting a juice box as well…

I did get to say hallo to a couple of the falconer’s owls afterwards, though, including a 4 weeks old Eagle Owl who was still covered in silky down. It was so fluffy it was adorable!

I also got the good news that his Burrowing Owls have laid eggs, which means there might soon be a little birdie for me!

Pictures from the trip: