Hygge

Hygge

A singular stick
surely grown
nourished to fullness
and flowering
remains easily broken

A column
artfully crafted
powerfully made
of finest stone
topples alone
in the slightest breeze

A seed
set on the wind
remains forever
only possibility
without Earth,
Water, and
Celestial Fire

-BD 7/30/16

I, Ben, might be moving to Copenhagen…People in Minnesota have often confused me as being from one of these Scandinavian countries because of some sort of “accent” they hear on my voice. About a year ago a women was so convinced that I was actually from Denmark that she simply refused to accept that I was from Iowa. Also, the past few winters, I have attempted to adopt the Danish concept of “Hygge” into my daily life. More on that soon. I take these all as signs that maybe Denmark has been calling all these years…Don’t worry Mom, I don’t really think it’ll happen 😉

After hopping off the train from Lauenburg, we stepped onto the streets and realized that they have a different idea of what streets should be. Instead of road and sidewalk, they have an automotive road, a bike road, then a sidewalk. As a result, over 50% of all residents bike to work and use bikes as their primary mode of transportation! It’s a city whose busy streets are not cluttered with honking horns, but smiling faces on bicycles with baskets.

On top of that we’ve come to learn that employees have a minimum 5 weeks vacation (many employers offer and encourage more), 12-month maternity leave, universal health care, free higher education, a vocational education path, 3 years of free Danish classes if immigrating, “night ravens” (locals who volunteer on weekends to help make sure people get home safely), and many more things that this staunch Bernie supporter swooned over. Also, simple things we’ve noticed reflect an embrace of ideas of cooperation and conservation. For example, we saw a relatively new brick wall built along a park. A thick tree branch jutted out in a way that would disrupt the wall. Instead of cutting out the branch or entire tree as one would expect, a fenced portion of the wall was built that allowed room for the tree branch to continue to grow while maintaining an effective wall. Brilliant! And last but not least, a concept that eludes direct translation, “Hygge.” It is pronounced something like “HUE-gah.”

The closest translation is “cozy” but it carries with it more than just physical comforts. It can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adjective. One brief definition I’ve read says, “A fundamental quality of Danish culture, Hygge cannot be translated using a single word. Rather, it includes many of the pleasures we associate with everyday living – relaxing with friends, enjoying good food, and creating a cozy evening by lighting a candle or two.” For a more extended read on the idea, check this article out.

http://www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/blogs/how-hygge-can-help-you-get-through-winter

We enjoyed a night of Hygge during our last night in Lauenburg. Many families gathered for about 30 minutes of music then enjoyed the back patio together until bed time for the kiddos. So, in the spirit of Hygge, we invite you to casually join us on the back patio for our full performance at the Jugendherberge in Lauenburg. Maybe grab a glass of wine, a cup of coffee or tea, a loved one, light some candles, and take a moment to slow down and enjoy togetherness and music. Mark Landson, we’d like to dedicate this one to you!

In Copenhagen, after a day venturing through the cemetery where Hans Christian Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard are buried, we met up with an old friend of Baylen’s, Alex Murray. She currently lives in Copenhagen and showed us some great spots about town. We played some music after dark on the main canal and then headed off to a bar that was so Hygge. Here is a video from the cemetery dedicated to Sarah Richardson and then one from the main canal dedicated to Matt Latchaw. Enjoy!

Candlelight, homemade snickerdoodles, a drink, old friends and new, a carpenter’s bench for a table, and old, worn chairs. Here’s to Hygge!

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Shout Outs!

Shout Outs!

We’ve been making a lot of music and meeting a lot of people these past couple of weeks. This hasn’t left us a lot of time for getting all of our shout-out videos uploaded. So, here are 6 performances dedicated to 6 wonderful people that helped us out during our IndieGogo campaign!

Tom Alane – This video was taken during our night in Turin. Cheers!

Bonnie Anderson – This performance was from our favorite busking stairwell in Edinburgh.

Andrew Burgdorf – From Queen Mary’s Gardens in London to Buffalo, MN. Here’s to you!

Aaron Lockridge – Taken during our cello/viola hike on the Cinque Terre in Italy.

Kleinman Family – Near the harbor at Peschiera Del Garda, we sat down to play a set for you. You’ll see a charming young family from Bruges, Belgium enjoying the music and the day.

Brian Lenz – Here are the whitest thighs you’ll ever see at the edge of the lake at Peschiera Del Garda, Italy.

Solstice at Edinburgh Castle

Solstice at Edinburgh Castle

Familiar faces
in foreign places.
Spirits seeking outward
hoping to find
the essential within.

All have questions
actions
convictions
more questions
overflowing from sincerity
and an earnest hunger
to understand
one’s place
in the unfolding epic.

We are all lost.
Together.

Words can only hint at the energy of that evening. New friends who in many ways were total strangers came together with their souls on their skins. The city had grown silent as the moon rose full. The music of the spheres, of an aged city, and of present seekers was thick in the air.
It is times like these that I do not feel like a musician, rather a primitive human hoping to use this strange, yet powerful gift of music as a conduit connecting things and selves which so frequently give the illusion of separateness.
To all that were there, thank you for your presence and full participation in shared time and space.

-BD 6/23/16

Here is a video dedicated to Duke and Carlyn Wagner from atop Arthur’s Seat. Wormwood’s most adventuresome performance to date!

We Did That on Purpose!

We Did That on Purpose!

No, we really didn’t. We haven’t done much of anything as planned the last few days. We’re calling these days “Strugglefest 2012!!!” More to come on that soon. We woke up at 5:00am today to catch a train to take a bus to get on a plane to get on another train in a different country. The first few routes were successful (trains are ridiculously comfy in Europe!) but the plane travel was a bust. We opted to wait another day for non-last-minute prices to Italy. While none of this even remotely resembles any kind of plan that we’ve had before the last 12 hours, it should end up saving us about 500 US Dollars! Good life choices.

Now we are camped out at a hotel in Luton, just outside the airport. The WiFi is exceptional, so that’s a plus, and the hotel staff gave us breakfast for 2.5 pounds a person! Very generous. We must look disheveled 🙂

But we have tickets on a plane! Three of them. Not to Venice, but to Turin, where we will hop a train and get to Genoa for our Mediterranean fix. In the meantime, we will shower/bathe and probably wash our clothing in the bathtub. Should we use hand soap or shampoo???

P.S. Continuing with the theme of unplanned happenings, we stumbled upon the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace yesterday.

Here is a video of Wormwood in Edinburgh. This one goes out to Adam Conrad. Somewhere along the Royal Mile there is a hidden garden known as Dunbar’s Close. Its immaculately trimmed hedges reminded us of Adam’s Royal Beard.

When in Rome…go to Venice

After a fantastic first week in the miserable foggy chill of the UK, Ben and I have decided we’ve had enough. While originally we planned to spend some days in London and Paris, our blood needs warming and we’ve committed ourselves to whatever travel is necessary to get our gooses to the Mediterranean. Ben has found he can’t really sleep on a bus, but maybe trains will be different. Or MAYBE he’s committed himself to a future state of sleepless delirium. Either way I’m proud of his leadership in this spur of the moment planning. There’s a good chance we will buy plane tickets to Venice.

We are a bit haphazard in mood after our first week. Sitting in a non-moving bus outside London for 40 minutes at the crack of dawn did not help. Thankfully our emotions went silly instead of sour. We think either some huge accident blocked the highway or London itself decided to play a joke on us. Prayers for the former. Curses for the latter.

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I would love to someday return to Scotland and especially Edinburgh. It’s a fantastic city with a unique layout. We didn’t do many museums, but we got a very good sense of the culture and the layers of history. I’ve never seen so many ascending and descending streets that passed over and under one another. Then there are “closes” and “wynds,” which are essentially hidden courtyards and winding staircases. One such staircase was our preferred busking spot (for acoustics and charm). Walking through Edinburgh almost felt like stepping into a Dr. Seuss book. There are countless twists, turns, and underpasses.

We tried some excellent whiskies, and even smoked some “old Toby” tobacco, courtesy of Bob Latchaw, on the slopes of Edinburgh castle. The food was nothing exceptional, but we didn’t go out of our way to find any affordable fine dining. Mostly pub fare and grocery stores kept us fed. We found Tesco had the best selection, but a little co-op had the best fresh foods and gluten-free options. The beers on tap at pubs were very good, and there are many ciders available at most places. It seems to me like a city for all ages. Many generations could enjoy living in or visiting that place. That goes double if you consider the dark age and how defensible the castle remains to this day, haha.
The UK was good to us. Don’t mistake our mock cynicism for true unhappiness. We had one great day of sun and many great days of drizzle, and we enjoyed all our time. London is a bit busy for Wormwood’s artistic pace, but it’s quite impressive. Just the same, let’s see if we can’t get to warmer climates!

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(I didn’t actually forget a toothbrush, haha.)

 

First Two Videos!

First Two Videos!

Finally!!! We have spent the afternoon taking care of some business at a cafe which gave us the time to upload two of our five videos so far. The video files are large and take approximately an hour to upload. So, I imagine the videos will likely be a little bit behind our current whereabouts as the trip continues. A huge thanks to Gino, owner of The Coffee Mill Cafe, who allowed us to enjoy some coffee, chips, and bum around for the afternoon. Enjoy our first two takes!

Here is a shout-out to Jared Shulz, our good friend and first backer on our IndieGogo campaign. This was on day 1 in Glasgow, Baylen’s cello, Felicity, was freshly purchased from the shop with a brand new set of strings. (Please forgive her temperment.)

 

Next, is our shout-out to Bob Latchaw! This is the castle in Edinburgh. You’ll notice an unladen European swallow flying by at 1:07. After we finished our set, many strange French-men popped their heads over the castle wall and began hurling insults at us. (Monty Python reference, everyone.)

 

Attuned

Attuned

Through faults of stone
These human hands
Reach out with
Eager
Calm.
Every face a city
Unto itself.
Every heart a song
With harmonies
Transcending lifetimes.
The cracks that divide
Are interesting
To find
To film
To study
But in the end
We rediscover bedrock
Or the human soul
We never should have
Forgotten.

-BW 2016

Having spent a few days in Edinburgh and run into several types of great human beings, I’ve found a feeling of kinship in new faces that I hoped for but did not expect. Wormwood played a set of music on the top of Arthur’s Seat. Ben insisted we make the trek up that winding path, and I didn’t argue, but I complained heartily whenever appropriate.
Thankfully, it was worth the effort. Playing for a private audience of tired hikers (fifty people or so) with a bird’s eye view of Edinburgh was magic of the first order. It may have been Wormwood’s most satisfying performance to date.

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Arthur’s Seat

We connected with a group of Germans travelling for school and several American’s as well. We’ve spent a couple evenings chatting with those wonderful people. They are young and smart and complete strangers except that we share one noteworthy experience at the top of a very small mountain. It’s the kind of connection Ben and I hoped we could make via our music and our honesty.
We also found great conversation with a brother and sister from Australia. We sat in the lounge of our hostel and shared a few stories and tips as we all organized bus/plane tickets on extremely slow internet. When traveling it seems planning is a good portion of daily work. Ben and I have discussed feeling pressure to “make every moment great” when on vacation. That isn’t possible or healthy. Just because we are traveling doesn’t mean living stops. Still have to eat. Still have to plan. Still have to take a shit once and a while. Maybe the key is finding joy in every activity. (Yes, that’s right, I relieved myself in two dozen scattered cafés through Edinburgh! What did you do with your summer?)
We spent some time with a pair of women visiting Edinburgh from London. They saw the cello and viola by our bunks and “demanded” that we play for them. So we got the common room bar to shut off the music for a spell and we played a few rounds. The Londoners told us later that they honestly expected us to make up excuses or dodge the situation. We told them that would undermine the purpose of our trip. We came to share our craft with anyone who cares to listen. We hadn’t really stated that explicitly until our two, new friends initiated, though. Thanks, you two, for helping us realize our project! Also, thank you for encouraging us to try haggis. It is quite tasty.
I wish this post came with a video. We have many to share,but they are rather high quality (as we prefer) so it is painstaking to upload them! As soon as we find public WiFi with sufficient speed, we will begin sharing our joy on the interwebs. Until then, stay in touch and enjoy your own magical, everyday moments.