Friday, June 17, 2011

Malmo's Western Harbor! 1 day: Countdown Malmo to Idaho

People have asked me, "Do you like living at Vastra Hamnen" (Western Harbor)? "It's a rather posh place, isn't it?"

The only thing I can see out the windows are apartments and the narrow street-wide sections of sky.  The people next door are often remodeling with a cement drill loud enough to echo through the apartments connected to it, including this one.  Crowds of people get off of tour buses with their cameras and peer into the windows at us.  I tell people about these things.

But I would be lying if I said I never loved walking only one block to the sea, or one block to the grocery store, or one block to my chiropractor.  I have loved the floor plan of the house--especially that every bedroom has a door and the kitchen is full of cupboards.

We've all loved eating at Vespa Pizza, where they've come to know our names and you can watch the people on the promanade who also love looking at the sparkling sea.  I especially love to visit the coffee shop for a quick chai latte on my way to going for a walk or going back home to do housework.

They say Swedes live for summer.  From here, I can see why.   The sky is near, the green park so close to the white sandy beaches surrounding the sparkle of water under the midnight sun--it's possible to forget that nine months of wind and cold ever really happened.  This place is a little piece of heaven.  If you tour Malmo, you have to come here on purpose.  I highly recommend the side trip.

Two things we did right on this big packing day:  We took a nap midway through the day, and we ate at Vespa looking out over the sea.  The packing and cleaning are hardly part of the memory.

To my friends in Idaho, see you soon!  To my Malmo friends, see you in two months!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hands! 2 days: Countdown Malmo to Idaho

The handshake of greeting and of meeting,
of those who have welcomed us to this land;
The helping hand of those who have volunteered
to help us pack, clean, store, and move--each time;
The hand raised in warning--for our safety
and for better understanding;
The beautiful hands of pianist, Lorenzo, now gone;
The tool of hand--to grasp, clasp, crimp, pull, push,
twist, wring, wrap, fold, tape, wipe, stir, kneed, wash,
the list goes on, tapped under these hands;
The hand to hold.

Of course hands can be used for ill, but I am thankful today for helpful, useful, soothing hands.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Bid! 3 days: Countdown Malmo to Idaho

It was a sleep-in day today.  The worst part about that is the rest of the day got completely away from me so that I have been unfruitful when it comes to packing, but have enjoyed some time with good acquaintances whose companies are moving them away from Malmo (all are going back to their home countries).

It is a Swedish custom to have a farewell church service at the close of the school year.  We have missed the last two for mostly stupid reasons (always packing to go back home).  Hunter and I attended today, however, and it was a very special event.  It is much like the American Baccalaureate, only for children in elementary and middle school.  It is held in a church, the priest begins and ends the service, and there are musical presentations by different age levels, as well as awards, certificates and speeches.  I am told that the past few years have been in both Swedish and English, but this year the ceremonies were separated so that the one we attended was in English only.

We took one of Hunter's friends home for the remainder of the day until the two of them had a farewell party to attend.  During that time, I received word back on our bid for a special kind of farmhouse in the country. The counter offer was acceptable.  This made my day and I felt at peace.  Praise songs to the Lord went through my head.  How to interpret these responses, I have no idea, but they are very nice for a stressed out woman standing among boxes in her soon-not-to-be-hers-kitchen while two boys make sounds like banshees from upstairs.

Offer? you read.  Where are you talking, now, Sweden or Idaho?  Well, I have not officially told you about this, so I guess it is time.

We feel the Lord asking us to move to Sweden semi-permanently. We are looking for a house to buy.  It will only be the second house we've ever owned and it will not be in the U.S, which is alarming for newby adventurers like us. 

Not only is the idea of owning land overseas alarming,  but of not having sold our house in Idaho yet, and not knowing how we will do it in the current economy, housing market, or time allotted for getting it done.  We have accumulated so much STUFF!

My friend reminded me of the phrase, "living on a wing and a prayer."  Sounds like us, right now.  We have nothing else!

We will look at one more house tomorrow night after we've packed everything else up and begun cleaning this apartment.  Then we will most likely pounce on the counter offer.  Unless, of course, The Lord shows us otherwise.  We made so many unwise decisions with our first (and beloved) house that we are shy about "leaning on our own understanding."

So much to do, so little sleep.  Pray for us, if you're into that kind of thing--and resolve to stay friends, no matter where we're off to--okay?!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saying Yes, Saying No! 4 Days (yipes!): countdown Malmo to Idaho

Figuring out what to say "no" to and what to welcome with "yes" in life is no easy task--or character quality, for that matter.  At the end of this day, as well as the past six months, I realize I said, "yes" too often.  In some ways, I was my most efficient this busy day, but too many of the things that filled this day should have been better managed.

For instance, I said I would meet a realtor to look at a house that was far from the heaviest workload of my day.  It ended up being a waste of gas, time and angst.  Everything about the "house" monstrocity with no actual bedrooms anywhere near bathrooms, seemed was impractical.  I should have set it for a different day, if at all (we had already seen the silly floor plan).  The best part about that whole experience was telling the kind man up-front that this place did not work for us.  No need to make him wonder any longer.

I'm extremely pleased to have said "yes" to my son's request to make dirt dessert (crushed oreos, pudding and cream, and gummy worms) for his end-of-year party.  It meant a great deal to him. He told me he liked it when  I invited his class (who had been studying animals and habitats) to eat some aardvark food.  (Wait, do aardvarks even like worms?)  He told someone today that his favorite part about his whole 2nd grade year (in true boy fashion) was the party today.  He had looked forward to it and said it was even better than he imagined it would be.  It was work, but the reward of his pleasure was worth it!

It was also fun to say "yes" to a dinner invite.  The day was too full, our house packed up to the point of being difficult to cook (even the dishes I used for the dirt dessert are now packed), and, like the hostess said, we could think about something other than the move for a few hours.  It was pleasant and they had good advice for us.

When we got home, we tripped over half-packed boxes and suitcases and rushed to finish more of the things we said "yes" to that we probably shouldn't have.

Remember my saying I became the class parent representative just by being late to the first meeting of the year?  Well, I have been looking forward to that job ending as of today.  Now, I am contemplating taking the position for next year ONLY if another interested parent and I don't have children in the same class next year.  We talked about it.  It could go either way, so I'm still caught between saying "yes" or "no."  Whatever the case, I need to mean what I say and have the wisdom to think it out ahead of time.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Gotta Love These Northern Places! 5 days: countdown Malmo to Idaho

Don't ask me how this works, but I've had time to pack like a mad(wo)man, make a complete mess of the house, get ready for the end-of-year party for my son's class (including goodie bags), and still have time to watch a movie.

Maybe you've already seen "Into the Wild" about a college graduate named Christopher who went on the quest of a lifetime to explore the West, especially Alaska.  The scenery is fabulous, the cinematography well done without being pretentious, and the storyline nearly perfect.  The ending isn't what I would choose, (spoiler warning, I tell the end of the story, nevertheless this movie is a must see!)  but you can't choose the ending in a biography, especially if it is a biography honoring someone who dies.

What's strange is that I remember hearing about someone who was found dead in an old bus north of Fairbanks only a short while before I moved to Fairbanks as Phil's new wife.  Now, I am grateful to have heard the real story more completely.  If there's a book, I want to read that, too!

This movie is a thriller without being fast.  If you're not used to contemplative movies, you'll be bored within the first 10 minutes (as my son was).  It's for the thinker, reader, beauty lover.

Last summer I watched "Grizzly Man," which completely gripped me for a few weeks.  It wouldn't be difficult to compare these movies except that "Grizzly Man" had a heavy art/movie production-producer angle that "Into the Wild" doesn't have.  Besides, they are from two completely different personality viewpoints.

As you might have figured out already, I'm in love with northern places.  It's not just about the places, either, but what the extremes of such places do to the character of those who encounter such places.  Like Thomas Hardy (a classic author), I believe a place often demonstrates aspects of the human condition.  Some people are not connected to "place," but I'm in the camp of those who are.

I could go on, but I would bore you.  I'm boring myself!  See the movie if you haven't!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Brown Family! 6 days: Countdown Malmo to Idaho

Today we were invited to celebrate the fourth birthday of the Jeff Brown family's youngest child.  It is a privilege and a joy to play with all four children--this time, frisbee--and enjoy whatever Jeff sets out for the feast.  It was a smorgasbord of open face sandwiches and a lovely salad.  Dessert was a "goodis kaka," which means candy all over a scratch chocolate cake.  More and more, our time with them feels like being with family. 

It was good, beforehand, to worship at church on Pentecost Sunday.  Our friends were glad they didn't have to say any formal goodbyes since they knew we would soon be back.

I enjoyed the pressure of not packing on Sunday.  We use this day as a day of rest and recuperation.  Things are a little sparse, but not as bad as they will be tomorrow.

As I type this, a fantastic sunset is evident by the pink clouds overhead, but I'm too weary to walk a block past all these apartments to see it fully myself, which is already regrettable.

Still, I'm grateful for friends, cute little kids, good food, family and the day "the sound like the blowing of a violent wind," "tongues of fire" (Acts 2:1-4), and the gift of the Holy Spirit changed the lives of Jesus' disciples and continues to change more disciples and my life forever. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Waffles at a Seaside Resort! 7 days: Countdown Malmo to Idaho

Tomorrow is another last day.  Last day for waffles.

Of course, there will be other waffle days.  But, you have to understand, Sweden is the land of the Waffle Day!  And we've only had a real, painless, waffle iron since a year and a half ago and it only works in Sweden.  It's a sign of having to move, yet again, that I say it is a last. We will have a batch of waffles for breakfast before we pack up the waffle iron. 

We were able to pack a lot more of our things today, take them to storage, then come back and strap a couch on top of the rental car (definitely not a common sight around these parts), and take it to its new owners.  The new owners served us a lovely tea time with coffee, tea, frozen cake and pie.  It was a hot day, so we especially enjoyed the frozen cake.

Now the apartment looks like a whirlwind went through it.

Last time we had waffles was about a week and a half ago.  We decided to eat them on the upper deck where you can see one little piece of the sea and some of the boat harbor.  Phil put extra cinnamon and extra vanilla in them, and made sure the oven kept them warm until we went up to the cool breeze.  We were amazed how long those waffles stayed warm even after we'd been eating them awhile.

What's more, it was the first time since living in this ritzy place near the sea that it felt like we were living in a seaside resort.  It didn't smell like someone's cigarette, or taxi exhaust, or lighter fluid, or stinky sea grass.  The air smelled of the sea.  We just took in the sun's warmth, the warmth of the delicious waffles and acted like we were enjoying a seaside resort.  Because we were!

We may just eat tomorrow's waffles on the deck again.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wind, Waves and Word! 9 Days: Countdown from Malmo to Idaho


“A temptation arises: it is the wind. It disturbs you: it is the surging of the seas. This is the time to awaken Christ and let Him remind you of these words, 'Who can this be? Even the wind and the waves obey him.'”


Yesterday was one of those Walt Whitman days, when it doesn't matter what is in view--the sky, the trees, the grass--or what can be heard--a new songbird, the absence of the cries of seagulls--it all opens up.  Suddenly the normal senses seem dull compared to the heightened awareness of the mind's eye, ears like an arctic fox to 100 feet below the earth's surface, the slightest breeze across silken hairs like the pressure of thunder, or the slightest hint of nutmeg.


It's Aladin's lamp, Shrek's onion, Gran Telescopio Canarias  looking at stars light years away, the pearl of great price.  I am not sure what makes this happen for you, but for me it is doing a literary word study in The Bible.  


Yesterday it was what in the world do the Word of God, seeds, and the sea have in common with Jesus' disciples asking, "Who is this?  Even the wind and waves obey him" (Mark 4:41).  Chapter 4 of Mark is a series of parables ending with the story of Jesus calming the sea.  I wanted to discover why the parables and this story were strung together.  (There's a great YouTube video of a lego retelling of this story--I loved it!)

We can talk about it, if you like, but I've got to tell you that most of the fun is in finding out for oneself. I used word searches in, when I couldn't find the passages that came to mind.  Of course, the search found so many more.

I came away from this study feeling like I was on fire.  It was better than falling in love.

This feeling of being on fire has carried over into today--into a meeting at school, lunch with a friend, a trip to the Malmo Library with my son and his friend, and halfway into the movie, "Into the Wild" (don't tell me, I haven't seen the rest, yet).  


Unfortunately, it has not given me the jet power to get packing.   

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blixt och Dunder! 10 Days: Countdown Malmo to Idaho

During a five day weekend, including Swedish National Day, the weather was so splendid that the beaches, ice cream parlors, highways and touring sites swamped with people in summer clothing.  Even today, after we packed a load and took it to storage then helped someone else move from one apartment to another, we took advantage of the weather.  We biked, stood in a sweating line to get ice cream, and had a barbeque.

Funny.  Now it is all pouring rain, lightning (blixt) and thunder!  (this was written Monday, June 6, but I had trouble posting.  Today, Wednesday, the weather was fine, but raining and thunder again.)

Great days!  Great fun!

I hope you are having fun, too!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Love Locks! Day 16: Countdown from Malmo to Idaho

Some days are too boring to describe.  Forgive me if I have been guilty of boring you in the past...but today was one such day.  It was full of all that dailiness.  It ended with a nice get-together, then, of course, piles of dishes. 

When I was already in bed, I remembered my countdown.  Maybe I should have count down by weeks, instead...

On Malmo's Western Harbor (I've been referring to it in Swedish--Vastra Hamnen), there is a cement and metal jetty (not sure what they call it) hanging out over the sound.  It is a thrill to walk to the end of it, because it feels like one will certainly fall into the water.  This is especially true on a windy, white-cap day.  But it is really quite sturdy with heavy metal sides. 

The Sunset and the jetty at Malmo's Western Harbor

One day I was watching the sunset with Phil's brother when he visited.  I saw some Middle Eastern men go out onto that jetty and watched two women photograph them.  At one point, one woman pocketed her camera and said to the men in English, "Do you know why those locks are there?"

Looking toward the Oresund Bridge from the jetty.
Now, I had noticed some padlocks clipped to the metal grates on that jetty and could not imagine why they were there or why the beach officials didn't have them cut off.  So, at the prompting of the woman's question I felt myself straining to hear the answer over the wind.

Maybe you already know the story, but when the four of them came our direction, I asked the woman to tell me the story of the locks.  She told me there are places in the world, usually over large bodies of water, where lovers clip a padlock to the rails and throw the key into the water as a sign of a love that is never to be broken.  She said there are places, like Hong Kong, where there are so may padlocks clipped to the rail that the structure is nearly crushed by the weight of them.

She turned to one of the Middle Eastern men and said, "We are going to do that, here, when we are married, aren't we?

Here's to unbroken love, to the unfathomable depths of commitment, to throwing away the key!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Picincs! Day 17 Coutdown from Malmo to Idaho

Sunset clouds on Vastra Hamnen, Malmo, Sweden.  Into what kind of clouds do you think Christ ascended?

Today is "Kristi himmelsfärds dag" in Sweden (Christ's Ascencion Day).  Though people will tell me what the day means, they refer to it mostly as a "red day," which, to most concerned is simply a national holiday (read: day off of work). Because this red day happens on a Thursday, they have a sort of "rule" that Friday be a "squeeze holiday" since it falls between the actual holiday and the weekend. Furthermore, Monday is Swedish National Day, so we essentially have a five day weekend.

Enter "what does everyone do on a five day weekend," and you'll get a jillion answers.  It's obvious a lot of people are gone (dark apartment windows), but it is also obvious (since the weather is fine) that people are out to enjoy the weather, the green grass, the blue sea and each other. 

Including us.  We had three picnics today:  waffles on the deck for breakfast, a bike ride and picnic at the nearby castle park (with a stop at a technical museum), and a picnic at a nature reserve on the peninsula with friends.  Now that is a great way to spend a day off!

As these days wind down, I find it more and more difficult to choose only one happiness in a day.  Today contained a hundred happinesses.  That doesn't mean everything is all happiness, all the time, but it sure is amazing how many small things--when I look for them--add up to happiness.

Even with a hundred happinesses, none of them compares to the joy of knowing that my Redeemer (one who saved me from my sins) died on the cross, was raised on the third day, forty days later he ascended to rule and to reign with our Heavenly Father, and lives to do so over two thousand years later.  I know it sounds crazy.  I can hear the craziness of it--can read it for myself.  But I'm with the Apostle Paul, that "if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men" (1 Corinthians 15:19 NIV).

Picnics on Ascension Day, out looking at the clouds, are a great way to wait for Christ's return.  And, of course, I could never claim to know when that is!


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Poppies! Day 18: Malmo to Idaho Countdown

Today was windy and colder.  Though I spent much of the day doing research on my computer, I took time for another 15 minute walk by the sea.  It was more fun with a hot latte machiatto (sp?).

It only took a few minutes for me to realize that knee-length pants were too short and I would need to wear my wind-breaker hood up to keep my hair from entering an outer atmosphere.  The wind was so strong by the sea, the sea a frothy deep blue and green that I found it exhilarating.  I let myself imagine what it would be like to be one of the wind surfers I could see in the shallow harbor.

But, my main happiness for today, even after driving around in my favorite countryside with hubby and little boy, were the yellow poppies in the back garden.

Yellow poppies!  Have you ever seen such a thing?