Tuesday, March 22, 2011

March in like a Lion...

...and out like a lamb. I can't actually remember what the beginning of March was like weather-wise, so much has happened since then. But today truely felt like the first day of spring, full stop. The sun was out, and temps rose to 8+ C! When the wind blew, it wasn't painfully cold, but actually felt refreshing. 

But the main reason I knew it was finally spring today is when I walked into our local Solna Centrum mall, the revolving door wasn't revolving, but was somehow wide open (not sure how these advanced mechanisms work, but obviously it doesn't take much to impress me), letting the fresh air into its store-lined corridors. Now it's official.

And so, a run down of major and not-so-major events of the last few weeks:

1. We went skiing for the first time in Sweden! A small mountain resort called Romme Alpin... rather more like a big hill... is about 2 1/2 hours drive north of Stockholm (the furthest north I've ever been!). We took a day trip a couple Saturdays ago, leaving T-Centralen at a painfully early 630am. Was well worth the lack of sleep, though, as the day could not have been more beautiful, and as it was my only skiing of the season, I took well advantage. 

Despite not having skied in over a year, it came back to me straight away. The challenge was the lifts, or rather the T-bar lifts. The people in this photo in the link look happy and at ease riding up the mountain. This was not me. The morning was fine regarding the T-bars, mainly because we mostly rode chairlifts. But after lunch, trying to get on the T-bar lift with Kate somehow went very wrong, and led to both of us falling on the ground in uncontrollable laughter as the T-bars behind us whipped by, nearly knocking us out. The lift stopped, the lift guy had to come help me get up, and yes, we were those people who everyone was waiting for.... ooops. 

Other than that, a perfect day on the slopes. 

2. Nik's brother turned the big 3-0, and we had a surprise birthday party for him here in our apartment on Saturday night. Weeks of planning over lunch, sneaking extra dishes into my bag whenever we went to visit he and his wife, paid off. Patrik was really surprised to open our apartment door to find 25 friends and family crowded in the hallway burst into song, the (Swedish) birthday song of course:

          Ja, Må Han Leva!

          Ja, må han leva!
          Ja, må han leva!
          Ja, må han leva uti hundrade år!

          Ja, visst ska han leva.
          Ja, visst ska han leva.
          Ja, visst ska han leva uti hundrade år.

          Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!  

Rough translation: yes, he lives until he's 100 years old! All right, he will, Hurrah!

And Hurrah for a great party!

3. As I sit on my couch typing this entry now, I hear a quiet groaning from above me every 20 seconds or so. This sound has been going on since Friday morning, the same interval every time, and from the hallway outside our door, you can also hear a child's voice saying something in Swedish. It was quite creepy for the first couple days, until Nik investigated. He figured out who lived there and called the apathetic tenant who was "clueless," and is unconveniently out of town until Tuesday. 

Lucky us, today is Tuesday. Unlucky us, the noise hasn't stopped. I'm starting to seriously consider dropping something not so nice into his mail slot.... maybe I'll wait a couple more days

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ice: 1, Me: 0

March in Stockholm is a month of expectation. After 4 months of snow, there finally seems to be an end in sight. The sky gets noticably lighter every day; the temperatures hover around and then rise above freezing, if only by a couple degrees. With this inbetween weather, pedestrians are subject to the hazards of ice that melts during the day and then re-freezes at night, creating a slip 'n slide on every horizontal surface. And so it was on Saturday that I experienced first-hand what makes people tread so carefully.

I try to run every Saturday morning, and have done so through most of the winter, whether there were 3 feet of snow on the ground or sheets of ice covering the sidewalks. I've boasted about my record of falls so far - 0 - and was pretty confident I would make it through my first winter in Sweden without injury, well-balanced and fearless of the cold.

The above is a photo of the side of my thigh 3 days after my first - and hopefully only - fall of the season. Near the end of my run, as I made a slight turn, my foot fell out from under me and BAM the weight of my body slammed against the rock-hard ice. Not a pleasant feeling, to say the least. And the walk home felt more like 2 hours than 10 minutes. 

For awhile, I couldn't sit without pain, and I still can't sleep on the right side of my body, but at least it's not swollen anymore. Now I too have joined the ranks of the slow walkers, at least until spring. But I still don't plan to wait that long for my next run. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How to Cure a Scraped Knee

As part of my attempt to learn Swedish, I borrowed books from our lovely Solna Centrum library. Children's books to be exact. The level you would get for a kid who can't really read. Babies, actually.

And that is how I came upon the photo below, which left me quite confused.

Page before: little girl's nose is hurting. Next page, father blows on it. What is this about?, I wonder. 

Upon asking my in-house Swede, I was informed that in Sweden, when kids get hurt, rather than kiss the pain, as is done in the US, parents blow on the injury. In the case above, I wonder about bad breath issues, which surely arise when blowing directly on someone else's nose. But in other circumstances, it actually makes some sense. Scraped knee? Mom isn't going to kiss the scrape. But maybe blowing on it will make it hurt less. Cut finger? Same thing. 

It's interesting to notice these small cultural differences. Perhaps a combination is the best solution?