Monday, 25 June 2012

Interior Design

I have signed the papers for  my own apartment in Singapore. I am so excited! Finally I can make my mark upon the world of interior design. A bit like my grandmother, who's always had her own keen sense of style.

Sweden at Eight O'Clock in the Evening

Sunday, 24 June 2012


I made it! A quiet, comfortable train ride through Sweden, flight to Chicago O'Hare, quick lunch at McDonald's where a man rushed to sit down in the seat opposite me and tell me he had difficulty eating his rice, then to Memphis, where no one from PFO greeted me. Was left to my own devices. Wondered if some mix-up had happened among all the paperwork and emails flying across the globe. After some initial hesitation--should I go? should I stay and wait?--I found cabby Haileselassie Getachew (real name), an Orthodox Christian, who looked at the address on the paper in confusion, called a friend, was mislead, stopped at a hospital, asked for directions, missed turn-off, asked me to read the map, called a friend to look up the address online, finally entered address into GPS, and found the place after an hour's driving. Still, he was a nice man.

All in all, things ran rather smoothly. Despite getting lost and being put in a room to answer questions about my visa and being pulled aside for a luggage check.
"You brought a lot of books," Officer 1 commented.
"Yes," I said. "I always overestimate the amount of time I will have for reading."
Officer 1 nodded. He must have known the feeling.
Officer 2 wasn't quiet convinced of my innocence. "Why are you here?"
"I'm taking a two-week course in Southaven, Mississippi."
"Are you planning to work here afterwards?" He eyed me cynically.
"Then why'd you bring all your diplomas with you?"
"I'm moving to Singapore, and I've made it a habit to carry all my paperwork in case I should need it."
I just can't get it right. Forget your I-20 and you're given a stern talking to. Bring it all with you and be questioned for suspect behavior. I'm just glad they didn't have me explain the bag of white (washing) powder stuffed among my knick-knacks.

Rose of the day goes to Customs Agent Sarillo who was very kind in dealing with my visa shortcomings. You've made America seem a little less imposing.

Midsummer's Day

I thought I'd share with you some photos of Midsummer. It's that joyous holiday where complete Swedish strangers link hands and dance around a birch clad pole to celebrate, rather obviously, the middle of summer. Summers are a fleeting beauty. This year farmor and farfar, my father's parents, came to visit, but none of the rest of the family were assembled. I hope we soon will be again.

 No, he is not bowing down to the midsummer pole in abject humiliation, though I can understand the confusion. He's the 'bear' in the song 'The Bear is Sleeping.' The rest of the merrymakers link hands and dance in a ring and sing.

Björnen sover                                          The bear is sleeping
björnen sover                                          the bear is sleeping
i sitt lugna bo                                                in his quiet lair
Han är inte farlig                                      He is not dangerous
bara man är varlig                               as long as you're careful
men man kan dock                                           But you cannot
men man kan dock                                            but you cannot
honom aldrig tro!                                             truly trust him!

It sounds better in Swedish. And it rhymes. At the last line, the bear springs to his feet and runs after the others. I wonder if Bear Grylls, should he come to Sweden, would be amused and willing to participate. The people caught by the 'bear' turn into 'bears' themselves, and the circle of life continues.


 Running away in Swedish national dress.

 Those too little to participate found other amusements.


I realize I should tell you my reason for traveling to the land of Amerikat. My new position as a teacher in Singapore requires that I take a course, a pre-field orientation, to come to grips with the harsh realities of living in a foreign country and rubbing shoulders with other internationals. At the moment, I am slightly sleep deprived and boggled by the sudden change in pace, and traveling all the way to American, a foreign land, to learn how to live in Singapore, a familiar land, seems a tad superfluous. Nonetheless, I am hopeful to learn something new.

Saturday, 23 June 2012


Tonight I leave by train on an eight-hour journey to Arlanda, from whence I fly to America. I don't feel ready to travel just yet. I haven't wrapped my mind around the prospect. This whole time I have been scrambling to level up in karate, finish up my TESOL course, study driving theory, and take the final test--I've been hanging from the bowsprit and never once did I look up at the horizon until I was well and clear of the reefs. With only a brief respite for Midsummer, I am hurled headfirst into the next adventure. I don't mind traveling--I don't mind train rides or plane rides, but I wish I had a moment to catch my breath.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Skype: How to Keep Friends and Influence People

Hi Alicia!

Your voice is here. Your body isn't. I know I missed the invention of the telephone by a few years, give or take a hundred and thirty six or so, but I can't help but marvel over the the fact that we have managed to separate the inseparable. 

On the Porch

 Grandmother gave this cat glass eyes.

It's not hot enough for powder, but I do like the can.

Put your feet up. Have a rest.


The hot summer days are few and far between, but we have learned to appreciate what we have when we have it. Swedes emerge from their burrows and turn their winter-bleached faces to the light and sprawl across the land like reptiles in the sun.

 I went to visit the ducklings in the duck pond by the hospital. They are growing at a tremendous rate and growing bolder every day, zipping across the confines of their pond after gnats, thinking themselves very big and important to venture so far away from mother.

I found a tiny friend among the blades.

I petted a bumble bee as it buried its head in a flower. Summer isn't summer without a bee to bumble.


I like loppis. There are so many things to see and wonders to uncover. I found three old sea maps in an old butter churn, selling for only ten gold pieces.(The ten crown coin is small, thick, and gold.) They are now packed away at the bottom of my luggage. I look forward to unrolling them once I arrive in Singapore.

What buried treasure awaits?

Amelia, Amelia!

Ah, the endless summer days.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Spring then Summer

Dear Friends,

 Summer came with a bang. Winter held on with cold, gnarled hands, and spring only slowly unfolded, but one day the sun came out and suddenly the world was green again. There isn't much of a spring up here in the northern regions, only a brief mist of greeny-gray over the trees for a few weeks, and then a cool, full-fledged summer. I am sitting on my cot, taking a break from housecleaning to finally write another post.

Our small rhubarb bushes next to our cottage in the woods

I am sorry for my silence, but I have alternatively been very busy TESOLing and studying for my driver's license or meeting up with people to celebrate graduation or birthdays or end of the term activities. I have done a bit of spring cleaning and a bit of loppis-hopping and a bit of packing and unpacking for my upcoming flight to America and move to Singapore. I have had no time to catch my breath, and every time I turn around, I smack right into the next phase of my life. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Hoo Hoo

My friend Jennifer made made an owl cake.

It's a chocolate fudge cake covered in cream frosting with chocolate covered cashews and almond slices for decoration. Jennifer made the frosting, but I provided the recipe for this simple no-fuss chocolate fudge cake.

2 eggs
3 dl sugar (300 ml)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla sugar or a few drops vanilla essence
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 dl flour (150 ml)
100 grams of soft butter or margarine

Mix eggs and sugar. Add soft butter and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients. Pour batter into a greased pan and bake at 175 degrees Celsius for approximately 35 minutes. Best enjoyed with vanilla ice cream.

My Uncle the Optician

Do you remember my uncle's shop? The one I've explored before it was ready to open its doors to the public and when it was. A year ago it was rustic and dilapidated with a strange apothecary feel to its rooms. My uncle has been very busy getting everything in ship-shape, and it is now as beautiful and practical as one could wish.

 Spartan sleeping quarters for late nights

The white lab coat of the previous optician still hangs in a place of honour.
Brightly lit and well-organized

And the kitchen that was once in shambles?

 Now perfectly serviceable.

I should mention my uncle is really proud of his lens cutting machine.

 Get your glasses now! 20% off all frames!