The weekend Before The Weekend Before Christmas

It has been an eventful sixty hours. Some activity was expected, some was unwanted. It started on Friday.

It was, of course, Saint Lucia Day in Sweden, and one of the days I least look forward to. Working in a preschool on this day has the tendency to stress and tire me out. The logistics of such a day, from receiving porridge for lunch (gröt is a dessert, catering firm, not a main meal) to shortened lunch breaks, hurried snacks, chaos as the children get ready to go to the sports hall where the Lucia songs are sung, stress to get there and get dressed in time, and discomfort in the aftermath of the performence at spending time with running children and many, many relatives of the children.

I survived, though, despite working overtime, and finally made my way home. Outside the front door I met Jo and Zelda, who were going to a birthday party. I offered to go instead of Jo. Although I did not wish to spend any more time with parents, I knew them better than Jo, and it meant that she could get back to see a friend who had crashed at ours after some minor problem at home. And then, just as Zelda was handed over, we met our neighbours coming out of the lift.

I asked them how they were, expecting a cursory “fine”, only to be told that it was not “fine”, and that their eldest duaghter was going to the hospital to have a tumour operated on. As I was being told this bomb of information, a group of women came through the front door and bypassed us to get into the lift. The news went in, but I found it difficult to find a respone. I was already tired from the day, slighty put out by the change of plans with Zelda, confused further by the sudden entrance of four ladies, and somewhat stunned by the words I was hearing. I managed to blurt out a “ring if there is anything we can do”, and we went our seperate ways.

After the two hour party, I came home to see our friend, who was extremely vocal about the Raspberry pie computers he had in his bag (it does look like an interesting project and something I may look into after Christmas).

The next day was filled with shopping, doing a kladdventskalender and then, in the evening, going to Gröna Lund to partake in the vegan julbord they have there. We went last year with some friends (Nina, Daniel, Alvar and Nika to be exact), enjoying the atmosphere of a very well put together event. It was similar food to last year, and I must say that it wasn’t that impressive. A lot of the food is processed stuff we can buy from our local vegan supermarket, Goodstore. It also took a long time for our food to come and the service was not all that good. That said, the food was only a small part of the whole evening, but none the less important. The children all had a wonderful time, being able to walk around outside. They spent a long time at one of the carnival games (throwing balls into bins), where they found out that the girl behind the attraction was also vegan. We went home late and Zelda did her usual thing of falling asleep a few seconds after asking if she could do so, on the tram home.

Sunday was slightly more relaxed, with the family helping Jo in her kladdventskalender quest. Afterwards we bought bagels from Bagel Street Café, came home so the girls could have a play date with Alvar and Nika, watched a Sunday night film and met the neighbours, who had just come back from the hospital. All went well, but the next few months are a waiting game to see what happens to the tumour.

I woke up this morning not feeling well. I had been feeling rough for a week or so, and the weekend is paying its toll.

To Blog Or Not To Blog

When this blog was started, some nine years ago, the idea of its existence soon became apparent: to leave a diary of sorts to my daughters. I could have kept a log using the traditional pen and paper, though I was taken in by the technology at the time.

As the years have gone by, my entries have become less candid, with many of my true thoughts discluded from the texts I have written. Not wishing to be paranoid or appear conceited, but prying eyes may be one’s downfall, especially in a medium that has a tendency to remain eternal.

On the other hand, pen and paper never had the official status that a blog does. It all feels a little bit too private, which is ironic since the blog has only really been aimed at my offspring, for their perusal when they are older. After all these years, the buzz of using a new technology has definitely worn off, and I often find myself missing “important” updates or scratching my head trying to format them in a way that is interesting.

Now I have a new method of recording my opinons and observations open to me: video. We have had a decent tablet for a few months, which has good quality recording functions. Perhaps it is time to look into that possibilty. It is certainly more private, and without doubt more personal.

Mission To Halden

This morning I was tired, more than I have been in a considerable time. This fatigue is not due to partying, for which I am glad, though it is due to a certain lack of sleep. Mostly, however, a journey to Norway is to blame.

Our friend Nina went to the vegetarian fare in Halden, to show her vegan shoes, and our family decided to follow, knowing from previous experience that it would be a sterling weekend. Normally on these occasions, Jo helps out behind the counter and I, along with Nina’s husband, Daniel, look after the children and generally have a good time. And so it was to be this time, too.

We set off after work at four o’clock on Friday afternoon; Our hired van was a new Mercedes Vito, spacious and rather pleasant; Our destination was Halden, a tourist town in the south west of Norway, just over the border from Sweden.

Our journey went well, with the exception of Freya gaining a companion in the form of a tick. How she noticed, I do not know, since the tick had found its home in her armpit, and had not long resided there. We soon put an end to its free ride by stopping at a roadside petrol station and borrowing a pair of tweezers. One tick free armpit later, we were once again bound to Norway, arriving at our hotel a little before midnight.

I did not sleep well. I don’t know how much the stuffiness and temperature of the room played a part, but I missed a few hours of sleep that would have given me the rest I wanted. Saying that, it did not affect me, and our early morning, fuelled by a hotel breakfast, began well. Nina and Jo took the van to the festival, whilst we walked the reasonably short distance through town and up, up, up to the fort where the event was to take place. The town itself is quite charming, especially viewed from the fortifications.

The fort was not what I had imagined it to be. It was much, much bigger and covered a huge area. The various views that were offered from the many vantage points were incredible, and kept us entertained for a good portion of the day, whilst Nina and Jo were busy selling there wares inside a badly lit dungeon cell. When I first saw the position they had, I was quite angry: outside, the weather was showing no signs of being near the end of summer, and the many food stalls surely benefited, whilst I thought only a minority of tourists were going inside. Despite my negativity, many of those were spending time looking and buying shoes.

The overall event as quite well put together. It was difficult to guage how many visitors to the fort were there solely because of the festival, and I am inclined to think that a positive thing. Veggie fares held indoors attract the already converted, whilst this one blended into a well visited tourist attraction. Regardless the event attendance, Nina’s sales were not far behind a veggie fare in Oslo last year. I cannot speak for Nina, but she must have considered the day a success.

We left the fare in the early evening. The children, as we adults, had a fantastic day out, even if it took twelve hours plus travelling time there and back. We are hoping that the organisers share our opinion of the day, and a trip to Halden is on the cards next year.

House Stompin’

As the last days of our summer holidays become shadowed by our impending return to work, we leave our house in a state of repair that we had not imagined. For the better.

A few weeks ago, Jo said without warning that she would like to begin renovation of what is to become the living room. Looking at what needed to be done, I told her to go for it.

At the same time as Jo was scraping, sanding and preparing, we decided to go to Ikea and buy a number of simple kitchen units. Our idea had originally been to find something second hand, but we soon gave in to Ikea, wishing to save time. The kitchen has been an empty shell for many years; It felt like it was time to get something done, so the family could start to spend more time there, instaed of relying on Mormor’s for cooking our meals and watching television.

Jo’s hard work in the living room has taken us a huge step nearer a completed room. My attempt at installing the kitchen units went, for the most part, well. And thanks to a carpenter friend of Jo’s brother, it looks like we may have a bathroom before Christmas.

Considering the situation just twenty days ago, our house is coming along very nicely. Providing the local workers can fulfill their end of the bargain, we could have hot water and electricity where it is most needed.

To The Cinema – Country Style

Today the local cinema was screening the latest Pixar film, Monsters University. Unlike any town-situated cinemas that screen films several times daily over a period of a few months, this cinema screens blockbusters just the once. An odd setup, to be sure, and just as odd in many ways as the cinema itself.

The cinema cum theatre seems to be part of the local school, situated at the far end of a corridor, complete with lobby and box office. From the exterior, the only signs that the brick building was, in fact, a cinema, were the two small posters advertising the day’s and next week’s films, along with a sad plastic sign adorning the windowless white wall next to the postered double doors, stating “Nordens Bio”.

Whilst in the lobby, waiting for Freya and Zelda to return from the toilet, I could not help but laugh at the laid back unprofessionalism that permeated the lobby. The person in the box office looked very young, not helped by the fact that he was sitting down, the shop was a couple of tables put together displaying a few sweets and tray of cheap fizzy drinks, the ticket taker a teenager casually dressed in red shorts and t-shirt.

Considering the film’s release date just five days ago, the cinema was lacking customers. We had no trouble turning up fifteen minutes before the start of the film without having reserved tickets, and still find plenty of good seats for us and six others who had joined us (including Malin, Simon and Jocke). An added bonus was the price of tickets, being seventy crowns each (Jo and I would pay one hundred crowns plus in Stockholm). And the quality of the film was definitely more than acceptable, thanks to the recently purchased projector. In fact, the only thing I personally would have changed would have been to hear the film in its original language, though in fairness the dubbed Swedish was not that bad. Come to think of it, the film on Tuesday is going to be Wolverine. I wouldn’t mind seeing that while I am here, and I’m sure Jo would be up for it.