Showing posts from March, 2020

skrattar högt = laugh out loud (book recommendations)

Skratta apparently means laughter in Swedish. The origin of the word apparently meant  something like "to scare something away by making lots of noise." If anyone was around except us, we'd probably be scaring something away with our laughter. Yes, laughter. Stephen nearly fell over laughing about asparagus, of all things. Chris couldn't stop laughing as he read last night before bed. I've nearly spit my tea out a few times. We've all been reading a set of two books: "The 100 year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared" and the sequel, "The 101 year old man who skipped out on the bill and disappeared."   These books may be funny to us because they are somewhat set in Sweden (or at least feature a Swedish character)... but our suspicion is that others may also enjoy them.  They feature the larger-than-life adventures of Allan Carlson. Not a surprise, he's 100 years old at the start of the first book. He decide

C12: The Nordic Divide (subtitle: we shall see which approach was better)

The saga on which country is taking the right approach continues. I'm going to just repost an article from The Local in its entirety  below. [Before I do, let me pose a question. If you think of Scandinavia, what countries do you think of?  Before we came to Sweden, I would have answered Norway, Sweden, Finland, maybe Denmark. I was wrong. Finland (and Iceland) are part of the Nordic block of countries, but Scandinavia includes only Denmark, Norway and Sweden based on their strong cultural, language, and historic ties . The reference in the title below is the larger set of countries] The Nordic divide on coronavirus: Which country has the right strategy? The Øresund Bridge. Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix Looking at the front pages of some news sites in Norway and Denmark, it almost seems as if they are willing the coronavirus outbreak in Sweden to worsen. Will the coming weeks prove Denmark and Norway were right to impose tougher restrictions on

det snöar = it's snowing

Weird weather today in Stockholm- snow sideways, up, and down.     Hard to capture the dynamic motion of snow in a still shot, so here's a video . Interspersed with sunshine. Is there such a thing as a snowbow (as opposed to a rainbow?) Just before the first snow squall, we sent nearly 100 kg of stuff back the U.S. today to lighten our load for whenever we manage traveling... we're headed down to the "basics" (with a few extra games, books, and musical instruments thrown in).

C11: Uncle Bob's Coronavirus Tour of Europe

Chris' cousin Bob Reynolds -- we call him Uncle Bob for the kids-- is a sax player who took his band on tour throughout Europe in February in preparation for a new album coming out 2 April. We were lucky to see Uncle Bob in Stockholm this fall as part of the Snarky Puppy Tour; see our blog post from October . After Bob bounced around Japan, the U.S., and Europe this February, he was quarantined in a hotel room, awaiting COVID test results. I'll let his youtube video of the trip tell the story of his tour and its aftermath (long story short- he's fine now, but what a wild trip).  Bob's Coronavirus Tour, Feb. 2020:

C10: Sveriges "lagom" strategi = Sweden's moderate approach (is it a good one?)

Lagom is a key word Swedes use to identify themselves with. Other countries have their catch phrases too- "sisu" in Finnish, "pura vida" in Costa Rica. I've been meaning to write about this word for a while, though I didn't plan to write about it in the current context. Oh well. Lagom translates roughly as "moderate" or "just right"- not too much, not too little. Swedes seem to embody this in their daily lived experience - enough time working, being with family, etc. It also shows up as not wanting to stand out. For clothing, black or brown were the colors of the fall and winter (me in an electric green jacket for biking stood out like a sore thumb). On the lifestyle side, there are plenty of articles about "lagom" being a good approach to emulate. A couple example articles will give you the sense: 6 Ways to Practice Lagom, the Swedish Secret to a Balanced, Happy Life Lagom: How The Swedish Philosophy For Living a

Tomte = gnome + homestead protector

I've been pondering the idea of tomtes: small gnome-like creatures that guard the homestead. Just to be very clear, these are quite different from trolls or giants or other mythical creatures. One description :  Originally, the “homestead man” was believed to be the ancestral spirit of the first farmer to have worked a given plot of land. Dwelling around the farm but careful to always remain out of sight, the Tomte is known to be a dutiful, hard worker. He cares for the animals, children and property at the homestead, asking very little in return but respect and the occasional bowl of porridge. At the inkling of disrespect – which can come in the form of foul language or a sudden change in an age-old tradition – he will not hesitate to stir up trouble. The idea of a tomte has morphed and merged over time with the story of Santa Claus. One of our favorite Swedish holiday songs is "Hej tomtegubbar"-- here's one version sung with by a Swedish choir fully dressed up

c9: covid in the house + 2 great escapes + 1 trip to Uppsala + some random thoughts

This post is a little scattered, but so is life these days. I'll start with some pretty flowers...          It's been more than a month since we went to France, and a good 3+ weeks of compromised lungs for Chris. On his birthday, 13 March, he could barely handle a block walk. He's been slowly recovering since then, with only a couple of days where he's felt worse.  For him, it is mainly a feeling like something is sitting on his lungs. The long recovery period and the feeling of inflammation in the lungs seem to suggest a pretty good chance that this has been covid according to our friend Dr. Jamie. He went out for a walk in the woods today (saw no one) and that seems to have been OK, so we will count him at least on the right track. Kids have had nothing noticeable. I had a period of achy bones and a headache, but no lung issues. Any sign of anything and we get twitchy. Hypochondria has a new meaning. Chris finally called Sweden's 1177 health number back

Svenska Våffeldagen = Swedish National Waffle Day

Today is Våffeldagen (Waffle Day). I sadly missed posting about cinnamon bun day in October, but wouldn't want you to miss this day when you too could join the Swedes in eating waffles. Ours are prepped and ready for dessert:  Swedish Waffle Recipe (and variations)- recipe from the Local Sweden . Makes: 6-8 Level: Very Easy Preparation: 5 minutes* Cooking: 15 minutes Total: 20 minutes *Plus 30 minutes standing time Tips • Use a Swedish waffle iron if possible to get characteristic thin heart shapes. (UK readers can buy a Swedish waffle iron online from Clas Ohlson.) • You can use the recipe below with a Belgium waffle iron, but it is better if you add a teaspoon of "instant" dried yeast with the dry ingredients (step 2 for egg waffles and step 3 for crispy waffles). • In the case of the egg waffles, the mixture improves if it is rested for at least 30 minutes in a fridge before it is used. (For breakfast waffles the mixture can be rested in a fridge overnight.) In

C8: badrum = bathroom

Stephen admitted to liking to clean the bathroom.

C7: Koppla ifrån = disconnect

We went for a bike ride yesterday. Flat tire on my bike. Drat. Chris borrowed an unloved mountain bike from the bike rack- it hadn't moved since September. Biked past an industrial site, past the pier, out to where we thought it would be quiet on the back pathways towards the Baltic. The pet cemetery (largest in the world, tucked out of the way on the peninsula) was busy; docent for the cemetery wanted to talk. How can you chat nicely and be kind but keep your distance? Backing away as he steps forward. Packed a picnic lunch, stopped at the point to throw grass spears into the water.   Long, straight thick ones without the feathery top flew the furthest. The swans didn't care.      Bread, cheese, pesto, oranges, cornichons (our new favorite after our visits to France). Stephen threw one more spear in, threw his glove in too. Managed to retrieve it without his feet getting too wet. Cold- just above 2 C. Wet glove. Figured we could bike around the

Jag hör dig inte eftersom jag har kanelbullar i öronen= I can't hear you since I have cinnamon buns in my ears

Jag hör dig inte eftersom jag har kanelbullar i öronen.  I can't hear you since I have cinnamon buns in my ears.  This in fact may be a useful phrase, introduced to us by duo lingo, the online program I've been using to learn Swedish. Stephen, the most fluent among us, has readily adopted this phrase; it is perhaps a fitting phrase for a near teenager who turns 13 in about 3 weeks. There seems to be a lot that he hasn't been able to hear today.  No idea if the Swedes actually use this phrase.  When we first came to Sweden, we quickly understood why the Muppets have the Swedish Chef-- Swedish is actually quite a lilting language. More so than Norwegian or Danish. Finnish is its own language group entirely- no correlation at all. I speak a little Finnish, having been an exchange student in Finland in 1991. It's of no help here.  In case you need to watch the Muppets or remember what the Swedish Chef sounds like:  Popcorn with the Swedish chef:  https://ww