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A life in overalls

November 17, 2017

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Here I am in 2001, standing on Crescent and Murray with Holly Park in Bernal Heights in San Francisco, when I taught at UC Berkeley and stayed in a studio on Crescent Ave. I had just recovered from a heavy stress period and found my new energy and new way of breathing throughout my body and found MY FAVORITE CLOTHES: OVERALLS FOR EVER SINCE. I have had a much better life since, and the overalls follow me, and now I am retired and live in a small farmhouse in Denmark, and still wear the same overalls as I do here: IMG-20171111-WA0011 now with white hair and beard, and overalls enriched, mended and stitched by Michelle Hoffee, http://www.livinganddyeing.com/

It is really a privilege to be so lucky to have an enjoyable life in overalls and I hope to have that in many years more. Currently I’m waiting with excitement to get an enriched pair of these overalls from Michelle DSC00872

stay tuned and enjoy the international overalls weekend over all

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9th international celebration of overalls

November 16, 2017

22711178_1982304338710619_1272456682_n it is here tomorrow, are you ready to wear your overalls. Some of us wear overalls every day year round for years and years, but somehow it is fun to celebrate our favorite clothes on a special time, in the weekend close to November 20th, the original day Susan and I decided in 2009 to make an international celebration.

I have had the pleasure to celebrate it with other people, here in New Orleans in 201320131123_175030-1 but I also celebrate it just with my dear wife as I did at the first celebration in 2009, DSC01975 and these overalls are the same I’m wearing this weekend, hope many of you will join me where ever you are, have a nice overalls weekend IMG-20171111-WA0002

A letter to an overalls friend

November 2, 2017

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Dear Farmer Meg

I have followed you from being bee-farmer on the roof in Brooklyn to now farmer in New Jersey and I’m not sure if we met in 2010 on Café Royal, but in any case we were close at least, we both wear overalls, and I have really enjoyed following your life journey and been inspired of your struggles and fights. I also follow you on Instagram and I know it is not always easy and you asked your followers: how to keep direction, focus and not just think of money!

Today I’m a retired professor receiving my pension and can afford to live happily in our small farmhouse, visit our family and friends. I feel privileged since that it is not  a given thing and has not been for sure in the past.

My grandfather, my mothers father, was a son of a farmer and became himself a farmer in the beginning of the 20th century. He actually got a big farm and many kids, but it was 1914749_1216261346423_7652393_n hard work to run a big farm, and you are not in a world of your own. Sometimes you also need to help other people, like your brothers, who also might have a farm and then they might fail due to fall in prices or other economic issues, and that pushed my grandfather to give up his big farm and then they family went from place to place, quite small, but they tried to keep up the spirit, even if it was very difficult at times. 1904014_10200768684619212_1926799971_n

My other grandfather was also born on a farm, but became an urban guy, into the railways. His son, my father, wanted to get back to farmlife and started to work in the late ’20ties on some real big farms, Danish manors, with a lot of farm workers. He had big ambitions and wanted to be really educated in big scale farming by going abroad. At the same time, many Scandinavians went to North America for trying to get their own farm and make it well. My father planned to be just half a year in Western Canada, Alberta and went there 20 years old in 1930. This was at a time when they tried to break new land in Alberta and my father worked hard. Jlund in the fieldtracto001 copy

He tried hard to settle down for good in Alberta after he found a fiance, but his health could not like the very cold humid winters right next to Rocky Mountains, so after 3 years attempt he had to leave and go back to Denmark. There he found my mom, found out that he was quite good at drawing houses, so slowly but steady he became an architect, became an urban guy, but never forgot his dream of having a farm, not just for fun, but for real. When he had made enough money as an architect, he bought a farm and turned it into a big farm (of course) and started to have sheep, a lot of sheep, both for meat and wool. He tried to do a lot of things at the same time and it didn’t work and the health still did not cooperate well with that, so when he was about 60, he got ill and at the same time, he made some risky investments involving other people and then too many bad things happened beyond my fathers control and forced my father to give up and he settled down on a small farm for his last 9 years before he passed away at 69, but he was a fighter, wrote a number of books, for instance this book on sheep farming. 39345_sep-71_04.w610.h610.fill

Compared to my grandfather (my mothers father) and my father, my life has been relatively easy although I have also met challenges through life. As young academic in the 1970ties I very soon got a teaching position, but at a certain point, I felt there were too many restrictions, too much top-down management on how you should teach, so at one point I got enough, but it was not easy to leave. I didn’t have another job, but I had  a family with 2 small kids to take care of and a wife with a part time job as librarian, not especially well paid. That was not easy, in fact it was pretty  hard times for all of us, especially when we  for instance could not afford to go by train, (we have never had a car), and only had very little to our kids etc. I might have done different today, but I did what I did and I thought a lot of what to do in life and walked a lot wondering what next, but I also had a dream of making it even better than my first teaching position. So in the middle of a lot of problematic things, I kept a focus on what is right and important and finally, I got a position in Northern Norway, and became professor at the Northernmost University in the world. Then I could take care of the family and my wife studied and did as she still does, a lot of fiber art / textile crafts. We still didn’t have a car or a lot of clothes and things like that. We still lived a simple life, but within a nice comfort zone able to do most of what we wanted to do, in the most beautiful surroundings. IMAG2515

It was also pretty hard work, but in a different sense. It was perhaps like starting your own business, your own farm, because I was the first one in our department, in the beginning the only teacher, administrator etc. so at one point I met the wall and got stress and could not cut my bread, lift my cup etc. My body said stop, but I went through a physiotherapy and went back to normal life and one of the great things about being professor, was the ability to connect to colleagues around the world and I  started to go to US to visit my American colleagues at Berkeley and in 2001, I stayed in San Francisco for half a year and taught at Berkeley. It was fantastic, not only to be able to teach smart students, but I also fall in love with the life in Mission / Bernal Heights, my spiritual home.

especially for 2 things, the cafés and of course the overalls. It was a kind of heaven for me. To sit all day and work on the cafés in overalls, able to breathe all the way through, that was a new life for me. Here I am in 2001 in my first overalls and many years after, in 2013, in Philz Coffeehouse in the same overalls!

Today, I can sit outside in my coveralls, next to our shed on our very little “farm” in Denmark, perhaps more correct to say farmhouse with a garden 🙂 but surrounded by farms in the Danish countryside. I can sit here with good health at the age of 68 and not worry about money and enjoy my life in (c)overalls and writing. I feel very privileged compared to my father and my grandfather, but I’m not sure if I have been able to do that, without being struggling for what I found right earlier in my life. I might have been frustrated, if I had kept a job without possibilities to do what you would like to do. It was not always easy, but it was a matter of doing something you like to do and in which you could find yourself! in which you can breathe all the way through.

I don’t know if this makes sense to you farmer Meg and Niel. I know it is not easy for you, but you can do it, and I look forward to follow you and perhaps we will meet not only on FB and IG, but at one of our bigger or smaller farms 🙂

Overall greetings Niels

About being recycled or reborn instead of retired ! about my new life and many years ago

October 22, 2017

I have thought a lot about my life since a small stroke hit me this summer. I’m 68 and soon 69. Today it’s not very old, but never the less, I cannot avoid thinking of my father, who passed away shortly after he turned 69 ! that said, he lived a very different life style than I do, became ill when he was about 60, so a lot of things are different, but,but I have to be grateful for every day I have, so I have to live my life as good as possible every single day, every single minute without being stressed ! Another thing is also that if I want to do something in life, it’s about time to do it !

I think it is more appropriate to talk about being reborn or recycled than retired. I need to go back to my childhood in order to explain this. I was born in Copenhagen in ’49, living in the 50ties in a quiet garden district, very clean and and nice in many ways. Somehow it made be afraid of getting dirty, and for my father it was very important that I was dressed nicely and clean! and act correctly (he was also a military man) I was afraid of getting on farms, even given the fact that my mother came from a farm and most of my uncles and aunts lived on farms.

Then my life changed when I was 14 years old and moved to no less than a farm, my father bought in order to realize his dream of being a farmer!  (so he was not just a military guy, actually he was an architect) how did that work out for me?. Well, not as bad as one could have expected. I actually began to like to get dirty. I never forget one day, I went out in the field and became so dirty that my face was covered by soil and to my big surprise didn’t get sick, on the contrary and I really enjoyed a huge bowl of strawberries that were served that night. It sort of liberated me, made me free, a little like the feeling I had in summer time, when I was on summer vacation at my grandmother in her primitive summer house, and wasn’t washed for 2 weeks! In the first 2-3 days, one felt the sweat, but on the 3rd or 4th day, it was just nice because it didn’t matter if you went into mud or dirt on your way around the beach and the marine areas of mud and water.

When I moved to the farm, my parents didn’t followed immediately, so I lived alone in a new farm house and went to the farm manager and his wife who lived with their 2 boys in a separate house and had dinner with them, while I went to school 25 km away (compared to less than 1 km in Copenhagen). They lived a very different life than my parents and I liked that, more relaxed. Karen, the wife to the farm manager teased me a bit, and that helped me not to be too afraid. BTW she also wore overalls ! and they were mended and patched, so perhaps she is the one I was inspired of when I many years after, in 2001, got my overalls in San Francisco.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I’m trying to explain why I today might be almost fetish obsessed with dirty overalls, with wet nasty bottoms of the overalls, with old worn out overalls mended and patched and thin worn out tee shirts and fringed farm chore coats etc. All this just makes me feel free and happy and especially overalls allows me to breathe all the way down and relax and not be afraid of being correct and nice. So thanks Laury for your nice photos of your wet and worn overalls, inspiring me to this post.

So I hope you understand that to live a quiet life in old worn out overalls in a small farmhouse near the coast is a kind of realization of a dream, a life as close as you can come a life of freedom, more a kind of rebirth than a retirement, more on this in coming days.

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Be ready for International Overalls Weekend, 9th time of celebration of overalls

October 22, 2017

22711178_1982304338710619_1272456682_n nothing more needed to  be said, more in a minute or 2

back to life in c-overalls

October 20, 2017

IMAG9668Today, I was out in the garden in rainy weather, to clear the lawn and the stones around the house for leaves from the tree, and I had my coveralls on for the first time since early Spring. Coveralls beat the overalls when the weather is wet and not that warm. I feel some kind of childish happy when I jump into the coveralls.

After my illness this summer, I was afraid it was finished with getting out in these coveralls working in the garden, but luckily I’m relatively back in shape, to do some gardening although it is only a little bit, but it means so much for my well being to come out and do some garden work.

Now I have sort come to terms with my new situation after the stroke, not able to do as much as before and need to accept a increased need for rest, but I’m able to walk, even to walk a little bit, 10 km. a day, so it could have been much worse and in fact it is great. IMAG9640

I have also found out that I really like to sit and study and read and write and does not any more have the need for getting out and organizing everything, so just enjoy my life in overalls and coveralls making stories and do a little gardening and walking and enjoy family and  friends.

I have also depressive thoughts and frustrations, but overall my life is good, not least in overalls!

More about my new life

September 13, 2017

IMAG9123This is a small forest we have just down the road along the highway. Nice to walk as part of the daily walking exercise of minimum 30 minutes. I have walked for hours all my life, but now I’m almost learning it from scratch, especially up and down on stairs, but it starts to be quite normal, almost as before, so that is good and I am optimistic to be able to hike again next year together with Bodil, my wife and come down to the Pyrenees etc.

BUT, one thing has apparently really changed and that is my interest in a lot of social activities, to go and be a part of larger social events, and like to be in charge of them. That has almost completely disappeared and being in social settings with more than a few people is really tiring for me and making me nervous or anxious.

To be honest I must admit that I easily could get paranoid when I did my organizing work. One reason may be that you are depended of many different people and may have problems/delays/frustrations etc. when and if people act in ways you either don’t like or didn’t expected.

Now, when I’m more introvert and do my own individual projects, I get a sense of being more anxious or vulnerable than paranoid, being nervous about whether I’m able to do this and this, whether it is too exhausting to attend some social event, not thinking at all of being in charge of it, unless it is very simple!

I think it is a matter of time to get used to the new situation and new way of life, being more confident of a more introvert life here in the farm house, giving me all possibilities to enjoy and dig deep, very deep into all my stuff, no matter whether it is family history, telling the stories about entrepreneurs in 18th century, “shaker and mover”s in the old days, about my old denim clothes and all my sweaters etc. etc. All these stories have sort of waited for me to concentrate on them.

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And then I can slowly but steady come back to some social life, but this time more with my own stories and doing it in my own way in overalls!