Thursday, December 19, 2013

sankta lucia concert at stockholm's stadshuset

last friday night, in celebration of sankta lucia (more on her later), gus played bass for the orchestra at the luciakonsert in stockholm's iconic stadshuset.  it was more amazing than words can express--never in my life have i been so proud to see gus perform.  it was a tremendous experience in every sense: the history of the site (three nights earlier, the same room hosted the nobel prize dinner), the spectacle of the performances, the engagement of the audience, the absolute beauty of being situated in the frozen north listening to such a specifically swedish tradition and seeing gus as a part of it...all of it was gorgeous and overwhelming.  to top it off, we ran into some friends after the concert and learned that one of their grandfather's was the principal architect of the stadshuset!  it was all just incredible.  i wish we could experience it every year.

lucia herself is a rather unusual saint for the swedes to celebrate, but as with many things in sweden the "how" is far more important than the "why."  first, she was a sicilian martyr, a young girl from a wealthy family who had pledged her virginity to christ in the early 4th century as a symbol of her faith.  her dad died, her mom was left in financial difficulty (but not too difficult, as she was persuaded by lucia to give away most but not all of her fortune and jewels to better guarantee her spot in heaven); the emporer diocletian got whiff of the offering and ordered lucia punished by defilement in a brothel. god intervened and she could not be moved to said brothel, even by a team of oxen. then, diocletian ordered her burned, but god intervened again and the wood wouldn't catch.   finally, she was killed by a sword, hence the red ribbon worn on luciadag to represent her martyrdom.  at some point in the last millenium an additional torture was heaped upon her of having her eyes gouged out, but the "why" part of that is quite vague.  regardless, she is the patron saint of the blind now.  and she is highly venerated here not for her religious connotations, but because it is said that if you celebrate lucia on december 13 you will better be able to tolerate the long darkness of the swedish winters...hence, we celebrated!

below please find an excerpt from the concert, grieg's "in the hall of the mountain king" from peer gynt.   astrid chose this night to elbow me mercilessly for reasons known only to sorry about the shaky camerawork!  enjoy.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

drottningholm castle

i shot this not long after we moved here at the royal family's residence, drottningholm. it really is that peaceful out there.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

stockholm roller derby!

for my derby-curious friends here in stockholm, and my derby-fan friends back home, take a look at stockholm's A team vs. paris rollergirls! sadly for paris, it wasn't much of a matchup--stockholm completely destroyed them--but astrid and i had an absolute blast out in farsta. after today i can say that swede hurt, red e krueger, lil slinky, and mad maloony definitely have two new fans!

things i learned today:
-european derby girls are, overall, physically smaller than their american counterparts--a couple of the paris jammers were about sophie-sized;
-european derby names are considerably less-risqué;
-the derby aesthetic in the US (tonya, i know you know what i'm talking about here) is super-subdued fact it is almost nonexistent;
-every element of derby is absolutely appropriate for a 7-year old girl to watch--in fact, astrid wants to do it more than ever after today! (so do i...but sadly my body wouldn't appreciate such an assault.)

other than the above the bout was the same--the stockholm roller derby girls are phenomenal and i so hope to someday be able to see them again. if only stockholm would build JUST ONE roller rink...i'm sure basketball players all over town would rejoice (and derby girls/fans).

astrid was riveted throughout the entire bout...

...and used her bracelet to pretend she was a rollergirl herself, being majorly cool and wearing a mouthguard (safety is cool, as my still-painful radius can attest)

OF COURSE she got a t-shirt!

this was the final score...ouch!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

cyklar i sverige, part två

more swedish two-wheeled goodness! i love, love, love the bikes here--my newest obsession, aside from my one with the chain guards, is the little emblem on the front headset/stem that some long-ago designers clearly put a lot of thought into. this grouping also has more chain guards, but only a few with the names--i went more for the swirly look this time. enjoy!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

the dogs of stockholm

...and one dog-type pigeon.

i think i'm missing paco tonight!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

i think it's time to get astrid some proper toys...

astrid discovered a collection of fun in rich's bag. she was enthralled.

she even found one that matches her eyes.

is this normal? it's normal for our house...but i have my doubts that that's a good barometer.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

our adjunct swedish pantry

cooking anyplace new is a challenge; cooking in a new place in a foriegn country can lead to some serious weight loss in the family...just don't let them develop a vitamin deficiency.  so, to avoid that, do what you'd do back home: keep lots of healthy food on the shelves, maintain reasonable snack-type dry goods for the kids to grab whenever, and keep plenty of ingredients for baking on hand.

but what do you do if your apartment lacks such a place?

this is our lilliputian kitchen

inexplicably it includes two refrigerators and two freezers, but no pantry

SO...i go out the front door (on the right) to the elevator (on the left)...

wave to the mirror in the elevator...

out the front door...

past the dry cleaners to the green awning...

up a little set of stairs...

and less than 60 seconds later i'm inside our adjunct swedish pantry, the coop!  we've never eaten this well ever, because every visit i only buy what we need for right then and maybe the next morning. and, with my language barrier, most of what we eat has to be nonpackaged so i can identify it--my ignorance results in an ideal diet of fresh food eating!

they even have a token "american" section--for a price comparison that 12 oz bottle of syrup costs $3.59 at, and the kronor is roughly 6 to 1 dollar, so that's a $10 bottle of sweetness ($3.59 seems expensive, too).  that cranberry sauce is clocking in at about $8.25 a can.  i'm rather embarrassed by the "american" section, truth be told.

just by that is something really cool--the way to the coop's downstairs!

in-store specials lining both sides of the aisles, and i've learned that people don't like having their pictures taken on the moving sidewalk...

...or downstairs in the produce department either

as i said, at least with produce i can recognize everything

(seriously, there are entire sections where i can identify absolutely nothing)

but these i recognize!  sadly, my photos had to end rather abruptly right here because just after i shot this i was cornered by coop security for taking pictures inside the store. apparently you're not allowed to do that.  taking pictures is an "american thing," as i was told by the guard, but i still love my adjunct pantry.  aren't the japanese better known for photographing everything?