Friday, January 31, 2014

#1: friends i have known and loved

#1 to-be-missed: my friends. of course. i'm guessing you saw this one coming a mile away...

i cannot even believe my good fortune to have come across this amazing group of friends i've/we've amassed in such a short period of time. it has been an amazing, heartwarming, glorious experience to find you all, and i cannot express in words how much your absence will affect me. we're all on this weird, strange journey of living far away from our homelands (and some who have recently returned to theirs, only to find their hearts are elsewhere), and we've managed to somehow find each other.

there are two schools of thought regarding whether or not you should tell your friends that you love them: first, that you shouldn't do it because it might make the receiver uncomfortable; second, that life is short so you should say what you feel while you have the chance...i'm firmly in the second school of thought. thus, if you're a first-schooler, and i've met you in the last six months, you might want to stop reading now...because i do love you. i really do. i hope there is a point in time when i am able to be together with you again, but barring that i hope you at least keep in touch with me! you will always have a place in my heart and, more practically, in my home should you ever care to visit.

i love you all so've made me so happy over these past six months! and, you are my #1 thing to be missed--in fact, i miss you already.

Monday, January 27, 2014

#2: our swede-o-rific lifestyle

it isn't just quality-of-life, it isn't just convenience, it isn't just awesomeness...but it is all those things and more rolled into one. i just call it our swede-o-rific lifestyle. it is everything from the not needing or wanting a car to the massive two-story grocery store in the basement, from the dearth of material items that surround us to the dryer that sucks and blows, everything done with a maximum of efficiency and good design...the total package. we're healthier and happier than we've ever been, albeit a bit more strapped financially, but it is worth it (i think).

#2 on my to-be-missed list is the life we lead in stockholm. now how do i choose a photo to reflect this?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

#3: fika

my #3 to-be-missed is the swedish tradition of fika, which is kind of like a coffee break but with a soul. it is to be enjoyed, shared with friends, and not rushed. fika can happen at any time, but it usually occurs around mid-morning or mid-afternoon. it usually consists of strong coffee (or, god forbid, nescafe ***shudder***) and some form of sweet bread/pastries like a kanelbulle, or if you're really lucky, a cake. hot tea is an acceptable substitute for coffee. sometimes people add a little sandwich or juice, but traditionally it seems like the coffee + kanelbulle is the way to go. i've heard on fridays a lättöl (low-alcohol beer) can be included, but that hasn't been my experience as i'm usually going the other direction, energy-wise.

fortunately, fika is something i plan to take with me to the states, so while i'll miss it in stockholm i won't be without it completely!

i went through my photos and found that i do not have a single picture of me and my friends at fika, so i need to rectify this as soon as possible before leaving!!! message me and let's plan something here or in the states--i'm a week away from returning now. yikes.

Friday, January 24, 2014

#4: a plethora of exceptional museums

i swear i didn't tag this...

this one may seem a little obvious to any of you who know me, but i've got to say it all the same: stockholm has more high quality museums per square kilometer than possibly any other city on the planet. rome is a probable exception, because the entire city is like a museum (as is venice), and of course paris has its share as well, but for organized collections housed under a roof i've got to give the number-per-square-kilometer distinction to stockholm. at last count there were 85 active museums in stockholm proper--that's an impressive count for any city--and the majority of them are unusually good. it's museumpalooza here...

my favorite: fotografiska, without a doubt. it is the largest all-photography museum in the world, it is open almost all the time, and it has a wicked good bar/cafe on site. the shows change regularly and are interesting and engaging. fotografiska introduced a side of helmut newton to me that actually made me want to look at his work, and for that i am appreciative (i'm still not a fan overall, though). i couldn't recommend it more highly...except if they were to give me a show, then i would broadcast their greatness of vision from the mountaintops until i was hoarse.

close seconds: naturhistoriska riksmuseet, moderna museet, almgren's silk museum (see my earlier post about it here), vasamuseet, and millesgården. all are excellent; all deserve at least one visit.

my #4 to-be-missed thing about stockholm is its bounty of good museums in a fairly small area.

i loved this fotografiska ad in the subways this past fall

jumping vulpes vulpes (red fox) at the naturhistoriska museum

they have impressively good taxidermists working for them

nils von dardel, "crime passionnel," 1921 at the moderna museet--how fun is this? i particularly like the shrieking maid in the background and the googly-eyed rugs. the moderna museet is fabulous at displaying swedish artists in context with prevalent european art movements.

*big sigh*, as much as i love the moderna museet, i have one big criticism of it. this is me with the token judd at the moderna...and token it is--this is probably the worst judd i've ever seen first-hand...and i think i've seen just about all of them at this point. the planes no longer join together on almost all of the segments, the surface is crap, and--most unforgivably--the top two stack pieces are closer together than the rest of them. seriously, they should de-install it. that being said, this is clearly not a highlight of the museum and is not reflective of the other wonderful works they have!

millesgården! definitely better in the summer than the winter, as the gardens are awake then, but the exhibitions are worth a visit on their own.

the vasa ship, very dark, very hard to photograph (especially with an iphone), but it is huge and amazing to see in person

astrid discovers the source of her name...and we were all very afraid of her after that (astrid actually means "strength," and our astrid is well-named)

and while i'm not writing a post specifically about non-museum cultural events, the ballet is particularly lovely in stockholm as well. this is from "swan lake," in late november.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

#5: ingressive breathing as speech

so...this one may sound a little odd to those of you who have not visited sweden or have never had a conversation with a swede, but it is a thing: ingressive breathing, or ingressive sound, as speech. it is also known less formally as that weird breathing-in thing that swedes do while talking, and i love it. let me explain...

say you are at a store, trying to buy a dress. you are standing outside the fitting room at the 3-way mirror and you ask a fellow shopper if it looks alright...and you hear a sharp intake of breath, then something emotionless like, "yes, it is good." that's all. your first response would be "did i scare her?" then "what the hell was that?" followed by, "that was weird...". you probably wouldn't even hear the "yes, it is good" because you're too busy processing the surprised-sounding breathing-in thing. and you probably wouldn't buy the dress.

it took me weeks to realize that that surprised-sounding breathing-in thing means "yes." it is an acknowledgement of agreement; it's emphasis can be determined by how big of an ingressive breath the speaker takes and if extra sound is added while breathing in. as a non-native ingressive sound maker, it sounds to me like i've just unintentionally terrified someone. when i was walking through almgren's silk mill in södermalm, i overheard a group of three (one man, two women in their late 50s or so) from northern sweden (i asked) who were talking about the mill and its attributes, and i swear half their conversation was made up of non-words--ingressive breathings with added sounds and "ah"s. i have no clue what they were talking about, but from what i've learned it sounded positive.

i have come to learn to love the ingressive breath as speech, and if i'm lucky my friends camilla (swede) and jette (dane--they do it to) will let me record them speaking so everyone can hear it. it is beautiful, and it is my #5 to-be-missed thing about sweden.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

#6: rosendals trädgård

the family in late summer at rosendals trädgård

djurgården, the former hunting grounds of kings and royals, is now home to my #6 to-be-missed site in stockholm, rosendals trädgården. whilst the men were off shooting bears or elk/moose (same thing here) or pesky european hares, the women could stroll around the gardens, first dug sometime around 300+ years ago. the site was expanded and greatly enhanced in the mid-19th century; the swedish royal horticultural society flourished here along with its carefully-tended plants, which were GIVEN to fellow swedes of lesser means. proper.

today it is home to an organic vegetable garden and rows, rows, rows of native plants, as well as an orchard of relatively old apple trees and a delicious café. there are cooking swedish...that are probably wonderful (i have to believe i would have loved them if i could have understood them). i actually tried to get a job here when i first came to sweden, but i'm glad that didn't work out as i truly just love walking around the grounds and enjoying to space. unfortunately, they're closed the whole month of january so my christmas gift shopping there will have to be my last memory of going!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

#7: no car, no problem!

to live in stockholm city center is to walk, ride, or bike everywhere, but most likely not to drive a car anywhere.  public transportation here ranks among the safest, most efficient, and most reliable in the world, making it incredibly easy to get wherever you want to go without need of a personal vehicle.  once you figure out how and where to purchase an SL card (a rite of traveller's passage if ever there was one), you are free to use any form of public transport: buses, the subway, pendletags, trams, ferries, and my personal favorite, the saltsjobanen.  taxis are also plentiful but they are crazy expensive--one night i was exhausted after working at the kids' school all day and opted for a taxi home...which set me back $35.  yowza.

my #7 thing to be missed about stockholm is definitely its amazing public transportation!

Friday, January 17, 2014

#8: granite, gneiss and lichen

the beautiful, powerful, ancient rocks upon which stockholm and its environs are built are roughly 2 billion years old, carved into their present incarnation by the violence of glaciers and time.  they are primarily comprised of granite and gneiss, and are the perfect habitat for a variety of lichens.  i could spend weeks doing nothing but photographing these rocks and the organic growth upon them, thus my #8 to-be-missed thing about sweden is granite, gneiss and lichen.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

#9: dala horses

continuing my countdown of the top 10 things i'll miss about sweden, this is #9: the noble dala horse.  they are everywhere in the tourist areas, and nowhere in the "high" art settings.  i find it to be a shame that they've been scuttled to the realm of not-quite kitsch but definitely not-quite serious, either--i'm not even sure if swedes have them in their own houses.  perhaps the realm of craft is better for it, but there seems to be room for the dalahäst beyond its role in material culture.

it dates from roughly 400 years ago, yet its shape has retained essentially its original nature and its decoration has changed little (ahem, russian icons, anyone?  it was unfashionable to change the eyes, face, composition, colors, anything about the madonna and child for 700 years!).  anyway, enough of that--this stocky, ungraceful little beast makes me smile everytime i see one, therefore it is one of my 10 most to-be-missed.  that being said, we've acquired quite a few to keep us company in iowa...

awesome embroidery here--yes, it's craft vs. art but WOW!

the spinny candle thing will be out every christmas, and my new keyring is courtesy of my sweet friend anouk...a fellow dalahäst lover!

lovely old horses

i wonder if i could put this in the same suitcase as the hermes bicycle...?

Monday, January 13, 2014

#10: the hermes bike

we're on the downhill side of our escape from the triangle, kittens.  i'm going to spend my last few weeks here in awe of the swede-o-rificness that currently surrounds me, and try to honor it with a countdown of the top 10 things i will miss about sweden.

this is #10, in all its powder blue perfection: an hermes bike, permanently parked by gus and astrid's school.  i see it every single time i walk over there, so if i'm counting that's somewhere around 400 views.  it makes my day to see it, no matter the weather--in the fall i picked the leaves out of its spokes so it didn't look neglected.  i'd totally throw it in my suitcase if i could get that lock off.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

le tour eiffel

gus and astrid, on the exact site of where it all began...

these are the last of the paris pictures, and i saved the most iconic for last--the eiffel tower.  20.5 years ago, rich asked me to marry him underneath the western leg; 20 years ago we were married...and thus this past christmas we came to paris with our lovely offspring to celebrate two decades of marriage.  we were at the very top of it, glass of champagne in hand, for the day itself--i had been planning our 20th anniversary celebration for a while and it did not disappoint.  paris is astonishingly gorgeous, and i cannot wait to revoir!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

jardin des plantes

galerie d'anatomie comparée

my favorite place in paris...le jardin des plantes. i could spend days lost and happy here, and i fervently hope that someday i'm given the opportunity just to make sure that were so.  or at least that i get to see it again in the near future.   preferably in the spring.  and even more preferably on an expense account.   anyone want to join me?

we (astrid and i--rich and gus had had enough of that "nature stuff," troglodytes that they are) started at the muséum national d'histoire naturelle, then through the main part of the jardin, then le ménagerie, and ended with the galeries d'anatomie comparée et de paléontologie. even with all that, we missed quite a bit. it is a gorgeous site with a tremendous history to it, topped off by the fact that an underground river, le bièvre, runs underneath the length of it.

i'm so ready to return!

right before we arrived at le jardin des plantes, we happened to see this guy eating crabapples in a tree next to us--a wild parrot of paris! i love the wild parrots--they're little survivors.

side view, musée national d'histoire naturelle (decorated for christmas)

le grande galerie d'evolution

viburnum...? it's impressive whatever it is, and it is blooming in late december.

sophie diving into the jaws of death

baby red panda!

flock of flamingoes!

scarlet ibis!

how lucky were we...another wild parrot! this one was stealing food from his caged brethern.

you know it's going to be an interesting exhibition when you're confronted with something like this at the entrance--this was at the front of the galerie d'anatomie comparée

astrid checking out little big cat skulls (of course)

whale filters, for eating plankton

whale arm--i love the giant wooden piece holding it all together. museum factoid: collection repair goes through cycles where sometimes it is popular to make repairs obvious (as in this case), and later swings back to making the additions appear exactly the same as the material being repaired so you can't see the fixin' up. neato.

brrrrraaaaains! "raton laveur" = raccoon. that's a good sized brain for such a little body.

so many vertebrates. loved it here!