Better Late Than Never – Written BEFORE Christmas

Skating

Skating

Mislaid intentions:  I had every intention of writing daily, well, at least weekly, in this blog.  Back home in Minnesota, I pictured myself sitting in an intimate coffee shop, sipping coffee and waxing poetic.  Hmmm.  I haven’t lost any weight either.

Turning point:  Yarrow came home yesterday from school, with a happy smile and a contented little hum about her.  She related how her language skills are finally at the point where she could joke, tease and really “hang out” with her friends.  Oh yeah, that’s why we came.

Skating and Pizza: Last weekend we spent a lovely Saturday with Karin, Connie, Patrick, Anna, Julie, Simon and Elina.  We ate a great meal that Anna made, skated at a local rink, and ended up the evening in the hot tub and eating Shalom pizza.  

Fika at the skating rink

Fika at the skating rink

 

Elina and Shalom Pizza

Elina and Shalom Pizza

Grodan: The Frog

Leia, Camilla’s and Anders daughter, and Hilda and Ingrid, Martin and Mia’s daughters, all go to day care at The Frog.  The Frog is a cooperative child care center located in a house near the hospital.  There are 4-5 folks who work with the children.  The house is marvelous, one whole room downstairs is filled with soft pads for sleep or play, one room upstairs where the older children are during the day, is left empty for play.  The children go outside once or twice a day, regardless of the weather.  Every little kid I have seen in Sweden wears head to toe rain gear.   At the Frog parents are responsible for two weeks a year.  Their responsibilities are to prepare food and snacks for the week.  Camilla took the week off to take care of this and I helped her and Anders.  The Frog pays for the food you make, extras are stored in a freezer, and the meals Camilla prepared were wonderful.  No pre-made aloud.  The Frog also buys a butchered cow every year from a local farmer.  There are 20 or so families that are part of the Cooperative.  The Thursday meal is typically eaten outside, but during this week, they took a bus (walked to a city bus pick-up and took a city bus) out to the stable where our apartment is, and had a hotdog over the fire.  Camilla set up the wagon and Carmito, the shetland pony, gave everyone a small ride.

Grodan

Grodan

 

Vegie Moment

Vegie Moment

 

The horse ride and hot dog day

The horse ride and hot dog day

Adults and a few parents

Adults and a few parents

Thanksgiving Pie

Thanksgiving Pie

The Friday following the American Thanksgiving celebration, I made pies and we had the family over.  No canned pumpkin to be found, so I baked and froze the Halloween pumpkin.  No canned evaporated milk to be found, so I used light cream.  The one store that carried pecans was waiting on a shipment that never came, so I used walnuts.  Despite all this, it tasted great.  Kurt brought a pumpkin pie by to Ulf, his hunting buddy.  Thanksgiving day our family ate falukorv (sausage) stuffed with cheese and mustard. I must admit to pangs for mushroom stuffing!

Advent at Mia's house

Advent at Mia's house

At home we celebrate advent with a new candle and a song every week at church.  Here, nobody we knew went to church, but everyone ate bullar or cake and drank glogg.  Mia had an event at her house where we met some new and interesting people.  The large pile of buns in the center of the picture are Sancta Lucia buns, with saffron.  Maj, who I work with at Solberg school, feels strongly that Sancta Lucia buns should be saved for Sancta Lucia day, December 13th.  They had a special cake with apples and saffron. I asked for the recipe.  The families we

know all have a set of four candles that they light each Sunday.  There is a morning Christmas countdown every day on Swedish TV.  The first advent also marks the day that you prepare the house for Christmas.  The week prior you clean and Sunday you decorate.  Karin brought us Christmas curtains to use in the kitchen and a star to hang in the window. Jenny had left behind 3 star lamps that we set up in the windows.  Most homes have one or two stars or a set of electrical candles in all or most of the windows.  Downtown Arvika is aglow in lights. The ritual and the lights really do help ease the pain of darkness.  We have decorated for Jul at the apartment; very nice Jul linens, wall hangings and ornaments can be found very cheaply at the second hand stores.  Mia gave the girls a pair of swedish army pants to cut up and make ornaments.  It was very difficult for Kurt to watch them be cut!

Our Advent Candles

Our Advent Candles

 

 

WE ARE GOING TO MAKE IT!!!   Our work situation is looking positive.  Kurt is being rented out to Indian AB (the Gustafsons family business.)  We owe them a debt that may never be repaid.  There is an small yellow house, built in 1905, with log construction underneath the siding, on site of the business complex.  “The business complex” is just a fancy name to describe where we live, the building with the business and our apartment, the stable and the garages.   The family has been talking for years about remodeling and updating the  house as a rental. Kurt and Patrick are knee deep in saw dust.  They discovered a bread oven complete with wood paddles in the basement.  Their hope is to complete the project by March.  After that is completed, the building we live in has an unfinished third floor that may be finished as an apartment.  In these two projects there should be enough work to keep Kurt busy through the end of our stay.

Since November 17th, I have been teaching an English class at Solberg Skolan, the same school that I attended when I was in Arvika 24 years ago..  The position is 23% and I meet with the students twice a week for a total of 4 hours.  The learning curve is steep for me.  The students are from the graduating class, 17-18 years of age.  I have so enjoyed getting to know them.  The position lasts until June.  Starting in January, I am teaching English to grades 7 and 8 at Klassbols Friskolan.  I don’t know all the details yet.  The teacher is going on maternity leave.  This position also last until June.  So yee haw!!  We are joyful!

Two summers ago, our vagabonding friend, Dennis, taught Yarrow how to make birch bark hanging baskets. He makes and sell them while in Finland and needed help completing some orders and thus hired Yarrow to make a few. We made them here in Sweden, filled them with greens, cones and rose hips, for color, and gave them to friends and family here as an early Christmas gift.  Patrick and Connie liked them so much that they ordered 21 of them to give to employees and customers.  We collected birch bark at Martin and Mia’s, were given wood by Anna and Nicholas, (more on them later).  I trecked into the woods numerous times to collect greens, cones and rose hips.  We cleared an open space in the garage below our apartment and went to work.  We were paid nicely for the job and used the money during our Stockholm visit.  Thank you Dennis!

 

Martin and Hilda collecting birch bark

Martin and Hilda collecting birch bark

 

 

It was a lovely snowy day in the woods

It was a lovely snowy day in the woods

 

 

Yarrow hard at work in the garage

Yarrow hard at work in the garage

 

21 completed Jul Korg (Christmas Baskets).

21 completed Jul Korg (Christmas Baskets).

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3 Responses to “Better Late Than Never – Written BEFORE Christmas”

  1. Blind Squirrel Says:

    Another post about food? Now I’m hungry again.
    Congrats on your good fortune. I had heard rumors when I phoned Smud New Years’ Eve.
    Enjoyed the shot of Yarrow using both hands anda foot to make baskets. Notice I have not mentioned chickens once in this post.
    Kurt, is that a Fomes over your head?
    Living vicariously through the internet, I remain
    BS

  2. meadsinsweden Says:

    Yes, Visually Impaired Rodent, that is the mushroom of which you mentioned. I should get Yarrow to post her fungus photos. This was a very, very wet fall and the mushrooms were everywhere! Several varieties of Kantarelles (Chantrelle in English) were everywhere and we partook in them. We did not harvest any, but Boletus edulus was also ubiquitous.
    The birch, here, is a different species than our Paper Birch, but it hosts several recognizable mushrooms.

    Good to here from you, again. Kurt

  3. Blind Squirrel Says:

    Glad to hear you had a wet fall. The summer and fall was so dry here that the lawns were dormant. The rains came too late except in Duluth, where we hit bigtime at my annual foray at UMD.
    By all means “get” Yarrow (reward or punishment?) to post her mushroom photos.
    Yarrow: to avoid boring the mycetophobes how about posting pics of your friends with a short bio along with the mushroom shots? (how could a 12 year old have anything other than a short bio?[except for Miley Cyrus]) You could call it Friends and Fungus. Or Mushrooms and Mates. Or Kids and Carpophores.
    I can hardly wait. It’s getting dull around here. I’m beginning to bore my cat.

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