Sunday, February 1, 2009

Observations for the Last Day of 2009's January


We’re on our way out of Sweden (by way of Denmark) for a six week short visit home. We arrived two hours early to check in for our flight and now the flight is delayed another hour and 45 minutes. Oh the things I could have done (sleep) had I known the flight would be delayed!


Many of the supplies I packed for this trip were so essential and useful until the last day that early packing was not possible. Then, Phil decided to downsize his luggage and not help me with some of my larger items. The puzzle is successfully solved and now rests in the mysterious chasm for luggage awaiting a flight.


I get pretty stressed by packing and leaving. One reason is that I cannot stand hauling dirty laundry back and forth, so I have to do creative planning (because one load of wash takes an hour and 16 minutes, the dryer almost as long) to keep as many clean clothes in the luggage as possible. The other problem is cleaning my way out the door when my husband is worried we won’t get to the airport on time.


This time, a dear friend helped me so that I did not run circles around packing, photo downloading, battery charging, breakfast dishes and shooing everyone out of the way of the vacuum cleaner and mop. It even allowed me a quick trip to a loppis (junk) sale (didn’t buy anything)! Furthermore, our landlord gave us a ride to the airport, saving us the trouble of getting a taxi, catching the train (and possibly getting stuck in the doors) and walking a ways to check in.


Why is it that when the cabin lights are finally off for sleeping (on a long jet flight), the person wearing the white (reflective) shirt turns his light onto himself and spreads out bright papers to read? Even with my eyes closed, I can tell when a page is turned or, in this case, that a tall man whose shirt seems to have been washed in an otherworldly light leans forward to fuss with his belongings while those around him go suddenly blind.


As I said, in this case it is a very tall man who has to do all kinds of getting up to get things out of the overhead bins for his young family, his chest emanating an angelic light into our obvious darkness. He is sensitive to the cold when he sits down, however, so it is refreshing when he pulls a red blanket up to his neck to read the not-as-bright-as-his shirt Danish newspapers.


He finished two newspapers and rose to put them away, for which I was eternally grateful—until he took ten more out of his bag and let them sit in the baby bassinet, provided by SAS for his three-month-old baby, reflecting that much more light while his chest-shield woke the baby in the next bassinet over (across the isle from me). He seemed not to need the dulling red blanket to read those papers, so, try to sleep as we may…

He must have been sent by the higher powers which were bothered by the banners in the Copenhagen airport: “Welcome to the land of passion and pleasure,” and “Welcome to the land of sin and” whatever else it was.

Having passed through such a dark place, we must have needed some light.


A random paragraph about a a boy and his underwear: The other day we made a special trip to the H & M in Malmo to get underwear for Hunter. Why? Because everything from home “feels funny” and it doesn’t matter if it’s Spider Man, Shrek or Lightning McQueen, either. All week I’ve had the motherly privilege of seeing the newest pair of boy bikinis modeled for me. It was to be my expressed joy to read him which dinosaur was written above the accompanying picture. He would even pose, shirtless, dressed in only his dino’s and socks.


It is now 11 pm Copenhagen time and only 2 pm Seattle time. What darkness we had outside to verify our weariness is now disappearing into a quickly brightening sky. The man will soon fit into his environment!


The flight attendant just handed me a Sami inspired sandwhich. It looks like quilted flatbread bread, used like a tortilla or other wrap, is buttered with a slice of ost (cheese) rolled in it. These are especially good freshly made and with a hot reindeer soup.


This past week was the last week Makleppan (a nature reserve in the Southern Swedish peninsula) was open. I like to call it “seal island” because no Swede, or other human, understands my pronunciation of that place. Anyway, I was like a child at Christmas time about going on an official tour with the wildlife expert on Sunday,

January 25th. But, I was so used to going out there alone or with one other person, that I didn’t know what to make of a tour all in Swedish with nearly a hundred people closing in on the expert.


Some of you know I’m short. Others of you know that my understanding of Swedish is very poor. It was a day without much wind, overcast and cold, so it was great, but what of all these people walking too fast and covering up the scenery?


Three friends came with me, one of whom understood Swedish and was willing to distill the information in English for the rest of us. Sometimes we all gave up and just looked at the sights, letting the sea wash all other foreign language sounds away.


And, yes, we enjoyed watching the seals. I got some great video footage, and my photos were clear, this time, but still not close enough and clear enough to go with a published article. Sigh.


I went out two other times this week—it is at least a four hour walk in the sand and I haven’t made it all the way around the hook of the island (have to wait until November to go again as it is closed after today).. Really, I’m still formulating in my mind what makes me so crazy about that place. Didn’t get any great photos of the seals the other two times, once because I took the wrong route and didn’t have time to go the right way and the other time because the seals were gone! They’d packed up and moved to a different location—my friend said they’d gone shopping.


My fika friends and I didn’t have very many opportunities to see each other this last visit. But we did get together to eat meat (bacon) pancakes with lingonberry jam and whipped cream. Wow! The first piece (it was baked as one big pancake in a large jelly roll pan) was so delicious we wanted a second piece. Part way through the second piece, it was obvious that meat pancakes are extremely filling. When we were offered ice cream, I was already stuffed, but I acquiesced graciously, of course.


I won’t tell you much about the problem I have yo-yo “dieting” during my pendulum travels. It would do me well to be addicted to thrice weekly four hour walks wherever I am!


Hoo ja (oh, yeah, in Swedish), I’m understanding more Swedish. At least now I can distinguish between some words instead of hearing only strings of strange sounds. There were two phrases I heard so often that it bugged me to discover their meaning. One was the word, “ingeting” (spelled differently, I’m sure). When a group of us watched the movie “Luther” (good movie, by the way) in English with Swedish subtitles, I learned it meant “nothing.” Literally. You wouldn’t believe how often that word is used! The other was, “komme backa” and other variations. Come back or coming back. See? I’m not coming back with nothing!


The sun is coming up outside the airplane windows and I haven’t even slept yet! Hunter and Phil are both snoozing, though. Phil is sitting by a woman who was very upset to be sitting in the bulkhead, exit row near babies and five year olds. Believe me, she had reason to be worried. I mean, between Mr. White-Shirt, crying babies and Hunter yelling, “I’m dead” over the noise in his earphones during an Atari game called Invasion, it was no picnic.


To cope, she ignored the strong advisement “to please not sleep on the floor,” and took her nap there, parallel to the threshold of the exit door, her legs up over the seat (almost Mork-style) and her headless earphone blaring jazz and bigband.


It was not easy over a computer and a child sleeping on my leg, but I just looked out the window. There is a vast snowy wasteland below, and a pink horizon into blue sky—no better scene in my mind! The “moving flight map” says we are approaching Edmonton just after the Queen Elizabeth Islands. It is beautiful out there and I knew I’d regret letting Hunter steal my window seat just before falling asleep.


Phil’s needed back in Sweden for a three-month period starting mid-March and ending mid-June. We hope to rent a beautifully refurbished Farm House on the same farm we’ve stayed the last two times. Everything is set up. For now, I’m looking forward to being home a little while—maybe enjoying a little more snow (Don’t shoot, don’t shoot! Remember, it doesn’t snow very often in the Swedish Skane).


This will surprise you. Mr. White-shirt has donned a black leather jacket and fallen asleep with the light off just as the sun is fully bright in our windows. His snoring fills the cabin.


Post Script: We ran to catch our second plane after a delayed flight and made it home early! It is now morning in Sweden, Feb. 1, but we are just settling down for the night in our own beds, this last day and a half of January 31, 2008. Boy, am I glad there is still snow on the ground. See you all soon!

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