The good, the bad, and the …

Well, apparently, I came home from Sweden, got back to the daily grind, and never posted this entry.  Silly me.  Well here it is.  Better late than never, right?  So, let me take you back to Västerås…

While out and about, I came across some good, some bad, and some weird, creepy, odd, confusing, …  (and then there are a few foodie photos)

I love these window shutters

This windowsill was full of… retainers and molds. Ew!  And just what is that smiling lump of clay, anyway?!?

Great poster in the window of a hair salon.

What, pray tell, is this?

“Ziperall – suits for every moment”… honestly, I cannot think of a moment where this would be an appropriate outfit.  This is a store that seems to sell just ziperall.  Go figure!

Newbie. Best brand name for baby clothes!

Um. Yeah. YOU come up with a caption for this one. All I could conjure up was ‘he’s got the whole world in his hand’

I thought this was cumin when I purchased it. Nope. It’s caraway. Erg.

King cake – before the proof. Looking good!

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Picture this! Out and about in Västerås.

A beautiful afternoon in Västerås was the perfect time to take some photos.

My favorite balcony in Västerås

The church steeple, Västerås's most prominent landmark.

Steeple's reflection

The treehouse hotel in the middle of Västerås.

Skating path on frozen Lake Mäleran

The best bus ever!

Sunset on Björnen, over Lake Mälaren

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Around town

Today, I’ll let my photos speak for me…

Apelsin=orange; äpple=apple.

Chocolate therapy? This is health-care I can appreciate!

Truth in labeling

Just a little snow in Västerås

Even at night, the town feels light. Most windows are left uncovered and most windows have a small lamp just inside. I love watching the sky darken and the windows become illuminated.

ldfghdsgh

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Food and Drink

Our apartment was just a few blocks’ walk to ‘downtown’ Västerås.  Every few days, I walked to the grocery store (usually the Coop in the Igor building).  The Coop was in the lower level of the building, right next to a Systembolaget, the liquor store.  Shopping for wine and beer is so easy in Sweden.  The merchandise is arranged as you would expect: beer in one area, spirits in another, and wine in a third area.  But it goes further.  Everything is labeled with a price (of course), a description (handy, but in Swedish), an animal symbol (to let you know how to pair it), and a flag (for country in which it was produced).  The wine bottles are further organized on the shelves by price: 0 – 69sek, 70 – 99sek, 100+ sek.  Wines in each price range are divided by type of grape. This makes wine shopping so easy.

As I mentioned, I walked to the store so my purchases were limited to what I could carry home.  When we made dinner for guests, I would make a few trips to the store.  I wonder just what the Systembolaget cashiers thought when I made multiple purchases in one day, just separated by an hour or so. Did they think that I left, consumed what I had purchased, and came back for more?

This is an item in the Systembolaget. Do you see the label as 'Cid' or a winky-smiley face?

Alcohol free beer with the perfect name: Nanny State.

Great label, isn't it?

This is as close to aquavit as I chose to get

Look at the pic - pepper or rabbit poop?

Sour cream and béarnaise? The next chip craze? (I didn't try them, for the record)

Admit it - you want one of these fridges in your kitchen, don't you? I do!

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That’s Super!

It was very easy to settle in to life in Sweden.  We pretty much picked up where we left off last visit.  We had already purchased the extras we needed for our apartment (like cooking utensils , towels, etc) and we brought some items that were hard to find (aluminum foil – the Swedish foil is like mylar), ziplic baggies, decaf coffee (Karen on a lot of caffeine is not fun – for everyone else :) ).

After a wonderful few days in Norway, we came back to our Swedish home just in time for the Super Bowl.  We could watch it on Swedish tv – LIVE!  We invited a few guests: another American family in Västerås for Avure and Swedish friends who lived in The States for a few years.  Alas, it ended up just being Chris and me because the game aired live.  That meant it started at midnight and went till about 4am, local time.  Well, Chris and I were not deterred.  We had a great time!  We settled in, enjoyed some traditional Super Bowl fare (Iike guacamole) and watched the game.  The only thing missing were the American ads.  When the game went to commercial, we had Swedish ads and the local Swedish commentators.  In Swedish.  So, I pulled out my computer, got on to Youtube, and we watched the American ads during the commercial breaks.  Wow, some of the ads were great!  Then at halftime, we set an alarm and took a 30 minute nap.  It was after all, the middle of the night and Chris had to go to work in the morning.  I have to say, it was a great game and a fun way to watch it.

I have no photos from the super bowl, but here is our living room.

ldjsgljg

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Round 2

Seems like we just returned from Europe and I was packing the suitcase again.  Time to head back to Sweden!  Once again, Chris will work out of the Swedish office and I will go along for the ride.

Our flights were uneventful and we settled in to our apartment right away.  We are a few blocks closer to ‘downtown’ than we were last time, and the location is great.

We set out on our first adventure after just a few days.  We joined some of Chris’s collegues on their annual ski/snowboard trip. In Norway.  Yup, Norway!  We packed up a suitcase, climbed in to Jonas’s car, and off we went.  I knew we were in with a good group when we stopped at a bakery along the way. I didn’t know any of these people (yet), so I controlled my inner-baking-student and refrained from photographing the pastries for my school work.  The drive was far from uneventful – we saw a moose walking across the road (beautiful) and we stopped to help rescue another driver in our group.  She spun out on an icy road and landed in a snowbank.  But, after a five hour drive, we were in Trysill, Norway.

through the window

Our Trysill home. Oh, and me.

A typical day found us discussing the temps at breakfast  (Oh, let’s wait until it warms up to -24 before we hit the slopes.  -24!!  Okay, that is C, but is cccold even in F: -11.  I now like to quote the temp in my own way: x°FC.  That would be however many degrees, f’ing cold.  I mean really?  -24?!?)

Our group numbered 12 in all.  We’d spend the day on the slopes and all meet back at the house for dinner.  And not just any old dinner.  This group divided up the tasks and every night we enjoyed a three course dinner.  It was wonderful!  Everyone spoke English all through dinner so Chris and I were included.  After dinner, Chris and I would retire so they could revert to conversing in Swedish.  And because we were jet lagged.  Our first morning, Chris happened upon the remnants of the night before.  (for an alternative perspective, please read the photo’s caption)

Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of …

Oh, and this was the counter in one of the bathrooms.  Crack me up!

These people are serious!

Chris and Linda, the only snowboarders in the group, took me to the top of the mountain.  I was totally intimidated because we had to take the tbar to the top.  I had never used a tbar before, but with Linda’s guidance, I made it!  I didn’t fall off like I expected, and I was pretty pleased with that accomplishment.  What view from the top.  Totally worth my the (self-induced) stress on the tbar.

Chris and Linda atop Trysill

Me. A little ways down the mountain.

And here is the group.

The group at -26°C

Chris, Jonas, and I left Trysill right after this photo was taken.  That’s why Chris isn’t wearing snowboard gear in the photo.  We left a day earlier than the group – Jonas went home to spend Sunday with his family; Chris and I left to prepare for Superbowl Sunday.

It was ccccold outside and I ducked into the shop to warm up. I was totally amused by the helmet selection. Too bad I didn't need a new one!

I passed on this one, too!

Hej då (bye) beautiful Trysill, Norway!

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Home again, home again.

Time to return to the US.  On our way, we had a layover in Toronto on December 30th.  Two days shy of Max’s 19th birthday.  Sad – he was once again too young to hit the pubs.

Rachel's back in North America!

Happy birthday, Max!

We spent some nice days back (Happy birthday, Max!  19!!!) at home before Max headed back to WSU.  Shortly after he left, Rachel, Chris, and I visited him.  Well, Rachel stayed with Max (and his roomie Adam) and Chris and I bunked at a local Pullman hotel.   A fun time was had by all.

We drove home and enjoyed a quiet night at home.  And the snow started.  Yay snow!  In Seattle terms, we had a lot of snow.  Luckilly, Chris was able to make his flight and safely depart for Nashville.

Rachel and I had some fun girl-time planned.  And the snow kept falling.  Then the ice came.  And that, unfortunately, led to a power outage.  Rachel and I piled on the layers, broke out the candles, and settled in.  Little did we know that we would be out of power for days… and that the house temp would drop to 46 degrees.  Ug!

Snow and ice

Our pine tree before the top broke off from the weight of the ice. It landed right next to the fence (not on our neighbor's house or our house, not even on the fence).

Luckily, we have wonderful friends and neighbors who checked on us, brought us to their house when their generator ran their furnace, charged our cell phones for us, made us tea and soup, …   And Rachel and I actually did have some fun.  And then it was time to take her to the airport.  Friday ended up being quite a full day.  Rachel and I got to the airport early; we weren’t sure how icy the roads would be.  We made it to the airport in fine time, so that left lots of time for us to share a HOT latte.  In the warm airport.  Aaahhh. It was relaxing.  And oh so warm.  Rachel headed off to security;  I hung out a bit, giving her a little wave and staying warm.  She chose what seemed like a fast moving, short security line.  There were just two people in front of her.  So I thought.  Suddenly, their two(?) year old son ran over (from where??) and they could not get their sh#t together to get through the scanner.  Holy moly – what a production.  I stood there, watching this whole situation unfold.  They had jackets, computers, shoes, carry on luggage, a purse, toiletries,…  They had 13 tubs on the conveyer belt.  THIRTEEN!!!  Yes, I counted.  I had to giggle upon making eye contact with Rachel.  Thirteen!!  And they were completely disorganized as well.  Oh well, Rachel finally made it through the scanner and headed off to Oxy.

Since we still did not have power at home, I had planned to hang out at the airport, stay warm, and wait for Chris to return from Nashville later in the day.  But, as we walked in to the airport, I received a phone call from a classmate.  Even though school was closed due to the ice, we still had to make a wedding cake that day.  Our instructor was already at school and he asked the two of us to come in and help with the cake.  So I did.  It was great fun.  The cake turned out quite nicely.  I felt sorry for the bride – trying to have her wedding amid the ice and outages, but I was glad that I didn’t have to drive the delivery van with a wedding cake on the icy roads!

Once the cake was done, I headed off on some errands.  I checked in with our next door neighbor and learned that we had power!  Yay.  Or not.  When I drove home, I saw that our neighborhood had power.  Well, part of the neighborhood had power.  Chuck and Liz’s house was the last with power and ours was the first without.  Waaah.  Puget  Sound Energy comforted me by telling me I would have power by 7pm.  Okay!

I picked up Chris from the airport and came home with high hopes of high indoor temps.  But no.  Our part of the neighborhood still had no power.  Waah.  PSE assured me that we would have power by 1am.  Although I had planned to go to a hotel rather than spend one more night in the cold house, Chris and I figured that we would go to sleep in the cold and wake up with power.  I could brave that.  Except … still no power on Saturday.

Chris and I made the most of the day.  We cut up the fallen tree limbs and emptied the fridge and freezer.  By the end of the day, the fridge was beautifully clean and empty while the garbage  and yard waste bins quite full.  And then…about three pm… POWER!!  Glorious electricity!!  Tuesday to Saturday without power (but we did have hot water).  And now we had the power!!

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