Archive for September, 2009

The long wait is almost over as this week marks the release of book three of Stieg Larsson’s millenium series. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest comes out in English in the UK on October 1st. This Swedish author has built up a cult following of his books and Robert and I count ourselves among the millions of his fans.

Although I have never been a fan of the suspense/crime drama, I like these books. I even started reading book three in Swedish, but then decided I wanted to better savor the details, so I stopped. Read about the book here: trilogy, part 3 and also here: more details.

And you can also read one of my old blogs (April 18) about the Larsson walk on my island here: The Stieg Larsson Walk on Södermalm


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When Robert and I were out for a drink at our local pub the other night, we were suddenly greeted and hugged by David, the check-out guy at our grocery store. We were rather surprised. While we have seen David for years at our grocery and always said hello and sometimes even briefly chatted, we have never been hugged by him. (He is the long-haired tattoo guy who commented on the fact that I am always smiling.)

This was a classic case of alcohol. David had been drinking with friends and thanks to a few whiskeys, was feeling friendly enough to sit down and chat with us for a while. It was fun. Then when I saw him again at the store later in the week, we were back to being casual strangers who recognize each other, never mentioning the fact that we had both been at the pub on Friday night.

This same behavior happens at company parties as well. At the event, people who you just pass in the hallway suddenly drink too much and become your best friend. It is a lot of fun and you think that maybe you have finally broken beyond the Swedish reserve. But come Monday, you are back to being just acquaintances who nod at each other in the hallway. No one talks about who drank too much, who danced with who or even who left with who. In the US, everyone at work on Monday would be laughing about who did what and you would probably hang out with your drinking friend again, maybe for lunch that day. It is an interesting difference between us.

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A ballon landing at Gardet.

A balloon landing at Gärdet two weeks ago. Photo by Robert Corkery.

It is our first chilly morning. The temperature is 6C (42 F) and I am cold. Sitting at the computer, I am wearing jeans, a sweater, scarf and two pairs of socks. The heat is trying to come on, but the radiators need to be bled first.

I hate winter.

But I am trying to distract myself with positive thoughts. The sun is shining and it is beautiful. We have had an amazingly nice fall thus far. And summer will come again. Just not soon enough for me.

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Last week was pay week in Stockholm. What this means is that everyone got paid, so everyone was out. There were long lines at the cash machines and long lines to get into restaurants because everyone all at once has money to spend again. (The weekend before pay week is a notoriously quiet one in the city.)

But for this pay week, it seemed like celebrations started early and people were out on the town even on Tuesday. The weather was nice for this time of year, so people were outside at the cafes, drinking rose and beer and having a good time. As for Robert and I, we were out on Friday at a wine tasting and then pizza at Lo Scudetto for dinner.  We did some pub hopping on Saturday and then Magasin 3 art gallery and another pub on Sunday. So I think we were also part of the pay week frenzy.

After moving here, it took us a while to recognize what was going on with the paycheck phenomenon.  When Robert and I would go out, we would notice that some Friday nights were dead, while others were completely crazy. It took a Swedish friend to explain what was going on with the everyone gets paid at once and parties system. (In the US, the pay check system can vary depending on your employer – I was always paid every other week.)

This pay week was a particularly exciting one as there was a big robbery at a cash depot that supplies money to Stockholm cash machines on Wednesday. The robbery took place at dawn and involved helicopters, guns and fake bombs and brought on talk of shortages of cash at cash machines. So Stockholmers felt proud that such a cool, Ocean’s 11-style heist had gone down during pay week.

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Last night, as we had a glass of wine with a friend, we kept noticing all the flashing blue lights of police cars directly across from us on Kungsholmen, another of the islands in the city center. At first, we just thought it was the usual block off of Norr Mälarstrand for visiting dignitaries. But then we saw the flames. The restaurant Kungsholmen was on fire. Quickly, we got on line and determined from a local newspaper that no one was hurt. Then we felt sad for the owner – Melker Andersson – whose restaurant Grill burned down just a few years ago. And then we felt bad for ourselves as this restaurant on the water was one of our favorites. We will miss it. I hope it comes back.

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Sunset on the archipelago as seen from the ferry from Ljustero.

Sunset on the archipelago as seen on the ferry from Ljusterö.

This time of year, sunsets don’t last for the hours that they do in the summer. But they are no less beautiful, particularly so when you are out in the archipelago and  have all that Baltic water picking up on and reflecting the colors. The sunsets  seem to take on a magical glow.

Or maybe it’s just that living with so much winter dark makes me appreciate the light more?

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Moose crossing. Right....

Moose crossing. Right....

Where are all the moose? They are supposed to be one of those symbols of Sweden and Scandinavia in general, aren’t they?

Heading out of town this weekend, I saw signs for them everywhere. But I very, very seldom see them on any of my jaunts. In my five years here, I think I have seen maybe three (not counting the ones in the zoo at Skansen). On the other hand, I have seen plenty of reindeer in northern Sweden. Why not moose? Is the moose just a ruse to draw tourists to the Scandinavian countryside?

Driving through Norway one time, we went through long stretches of highway with huge moose barrier fences. And then every few miles there would be these breaks in the fence with marked crossing zones for the moose. I thought for sure I would see one of these gravity-defying animals there, just ambling across the road. But no such luck.

So what does a girl from the Midwest have to do to see a moose?

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