Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pisser

The other day - I got a $21 parking ticket for being at a meter "too long." Not being at an "expired" meter (as I am diligent in setting my cell phone alarm and plugging the damn thing. [pauses to set cell phone alarm] So on the ticket it says there had been 'complaints' that I had been at that meter too long? WTF? I have no where to park! Since my building that I work in is under major construction I have to park on the street and the meters are one-hour meters but I keep plugging them. Have been doing this for a month with no problem. I think because this particular meter was close to the front door (hallelujah!) the contractors (who are working here and hogging up the basement parking AND the close meters) got irritated and "complained" to Lovely Rita the Meter Maid. Anyway - whatever. I moved my car. I found a spot that had NO METER (score!) due to a hotel recently completed and parked there happily for two days without paying a cent.

Then I went to the bank to make a deposit. This was our Sweden money and some wedding cash going towards our new fence. I didn't think a thing of it - because I'm an idiot - and used the auto teller. DUH the sign says "no coin in carrier" - I'm thinking no loose coins in carrier. No, it means NO coins in carrier. And my $400+ coin deposit got STUCK in their pneumatic tube! I had to wait until the company that sucks the pneumatic tubes clean could come THE NEXT DAY! She told me not to worry as my deposit/cash was safe because no one could get it out of the tube. Ay yi yi. I am an idiot.

Back to the parking meters...so today I found a GLORIOUS TWO HOUR meter only a half a block from my office. And I was okay with that - being that I just bought a roll of quarters for such purpose from the bank. But the meter said, when I went up to pay it, that it was OUT OF ORDER and had FAILED. Great! What does that mean? Does that mean I'm going to get a ticket for parking at a broken meter? Or does it mean the parking gods have smiled upon me and I get to park free all day?!?!

I just don't know. This downtown life is getting to me! ha....

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Not Much New Around Here

Just a regular ol' hump day. I had a busy day yesterday - worked on admin stuff in the morning, did some editing of GOD ROCKS in the afternoon. Ran a bunch of errands after work involving buy oodles of baby gifts, trying to find some maternity clothes that 1) fit me and 2) didn't make me look like an elephant, Target shopping, grocery shopping, eating a dinner WAY too late in the evening and attempting (and failing) at finishing my sister's b-day present.

I was sore last night - I think it was too much time on my feet and too much running around and my pelvis was moving or shifting or something (and not in THAT way) and I did too much. So I slept in this morning and finished Kathy's b-day present (yay!) and talked with Sam on the phone and putzed around the house.

Now I'm here in my new maternity jeans (ooh la la - this pair though, actually is more stylish than the hand-me-downs from my sister - a fake "zipper' area and actual pockets! Whohoo. They're also more skinny legged & are stretch denim which is very good), my new maternity shirt (a little more stylish than a plain tee and since we have auditions tonight I want to look stylish) - and I'm trying to get motivated to get things done and I'm having trouble finding that motivation. Instead I'd like to be at home wrapping said baby gifts, mailing packages, trying to finish the triplets' blankets and probably napping. However that is not to be. I have work this afternoon, auditions from 5-8pm tonight followed by a production meeting that will last, hopefully not longer than an hour or an hour and a half. We shall see.

Chick Pea is doing good - I think. I am a bit paranoid this week as I feel he/she's been moving less...that could be because I'm distracted or maybe because he/she has carved out a niche and I just can't feel it enough or a million other less appealing traumatic imaginations which I am prone to have. *sigh*

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Please Fence Me In

Our neighbor's house is a nice house. By "nice" I mean structurally sound, nice siding, etc. However, since I moved in (it was vacant when I moved in and boy don't I wish for those days!) a renter has moved in (friend of the owner's I guess). This guy is older (60's?) and I think works at a little bar in our neighborhood. He's always doing "weird" things like refinishing boats and cars in his garage (the smell! Ugh! I thought at first he was cooking meth!!...not that I actually know what that would smell like but I have a decent imagination.). There is a crappy old boat in front of his garage in the alley that he's "working on" (not in the past couple of years but still...); for the longest time there was a Saturn back there missing a hood and a quarter panel, etc. Now there's also a semi-cab (I think?) back there? Anyway - the thing is there's a lot of JUNK. Our entertainment center, which we left on the sidewalk with a big FREE sign last October, has sat on their deck, since then. The poor thing is made of fiber board and sat in the elements for months before it was tarped. There's a fridge on his deck, some other appliances maybe...? The sliding glass door was broken (!) by a crazed ex (!!!) a couple of falls ago and is still not replaced but has had plastic & plywood covering it since then. There are numerous....things in the yard including a nasty old mattress (!!!), a lawn mower, a metal structure that I think maybe you're supposed to put a boat on...? Anyway - a lot of crap. We have to look at that crap EVERY DAY. It's annoying and quite frankly I think it diminishes the value of our cute house & our lovely yard. The neighbors on the other side (Hi Anna!) rock and the other end of the block is a-okay - but this one neighbor. Ay yi yi....

We've been wanting to put up a fence for...oh about 3 years. But we're either too lazy, tired, broke, indecisive, etc to actually do it. Well when the Sunday paper came this week there was a Menard's ad and in that ad was a sale price on pre-assembled, treated dog-eared fence sections....we counted what was left in our "wedding money cash fund" and decided to go for it! We already have a chain link fence there (on our property) and decided to do it quick and dirty (and possibly without a permit) and wire the new fence to the old.

Within 3 hours the thing was done! (not counting the time to go pick the fence up, tie it to the truck, drive very slowly home, stop for Dairy Queen before getting home and then asking Dustin (our cool neighbor) to help unload it).

We are so ECSTATIC with the results we can't stop talking about it. You'd think we just built the Great Wall or something. This gives our yard SO much more privacy. I love the fact that we can enjoy our yard more the rest of this summer and next year when Baby B is here and we want to play in the yard, we won't feel quite so on display. I also think our property value went up just a little.

Before: piles of...stuff! Note the mattress that has been there...since I think before the snow flew last year. Egads!


Another Before shot


After! Glorious Boundaries! Visual Barriers! Whohoo!

Monday, August 27, 2007

What a difference a year makes



Since this picture was taken on my birthday LAST YEAR in Vegas....quite a few things have happened:

(from left)

Sarah H - has an amazingly successful and incredible high-end wedding photography career that she built from scratch in L.A.

Allison (my sis-in-law) - is one year closer to completing her Master's and about to start her journey into that unknown & mysterious land called motherhood (I can't wait for the news of her pregnancy - I'm hoping it's soon!)

Heather - rode her bike (again!) from San Francisco to Los Angeles and is now training for the LA Marathon!!

Sudhara - is engaged to the lovely Mr. Alex. Steve & I will be there for the nuptials in March!

Me - well, I've had a big year: got married, quit my job, started a new company and am expecting our first child! Whew!

Kathy (my sister) - had TRIPLETS!!! TRIPLETS for crying out loud. And they are adorable!

Samantha - super-mom to two already gorgeous (ridiculous, really) daughters gave birth to number three, the very tiny & lovely Miss Sydney on Friday.

Lindsay (my cousin) - had a baby boy in June named Gavin. I have yet to meet him but from the photos he is perfection!

Sarah - rode HER bike from Boulder, Colorado to Minneapolis - WTF? She is crazy and amazing and incredible. Oh she also ran a marathon a week after our wedding last fall and actually TRAINED in the freaking August Vegas Heat while we were there last year! She simply blows my mind.

A lot can happen in a year, eh?

Happy Birthday to Me!

Saturday was my birthday. It was exactly the kind of day I was looking for...

Well, actually the whole weekend was nice. Friday night we went to "movies in the park" with our neighbors Dustin & Anna (hi Anna!). The show was THE WIZARD OF OZ which I haven't seen in a million years. It was very fun - and packed! The weather was great, I brought a much-needed chair this time and it was a lot of fun.

Saturday I slept in (til almost 9 - whohooo!). Steve walked to Johnson's (our local bakery) for some breakfast treats and then I spent a couple hours sewing while he ran some mysterious "errands." When he got home I had presents to open! He bought me a lovely new 2nd Sigg bottle (for extra water when I go to work, juice for lunch or whatever) and I LOVE it. He also bought me a fancy schmancy heavy duty bike lock for my bike (finally! yay!)
and a new backpack! Whohooo! It's like a normal "back-to-school" backpack but it's exactly what I needed. Something to take with me when we go hiking or canoeing or in the car or whatever. I had worn out my freebie Sierra Club backpack about a year ago and was making good progress at wearing out his! He actually bought me two backpacks - two different colors and the styles were a little different and I got to pick. :) I picked the one that was slightly bigger, had small outer pockets (I love pockets!) and is a girly lavendar color. It's great.

Following an afternoon nap we went for a canoe paddle.
It was a lovely, mostly still day with a great temp. We put the canoe in towards the end of Park Point and canoed around Minnesota Point to the other side on Lake Superior. It took us about 2 1/2 hours. It was mostly very relaxing (except going through the canal which was sort of stressful). We went slowly, enjoyed the peace & calm on the water (except for when huge cabin cruisers would rush past us) and thoroughly enjoyed being out on the water.





After our canoe ride we had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants TASTE OF SAIGON which is an awesome little family-run Vietnamese place. Best Asian in town, I think. Yum. We even had enough for dinner last night.

It was a lovely day - so nice to spend a birthday at home, just relaxing, with my honey doing some things I want to do. We didn't make it to the movie (we had planned on seeing STARDUST on Saturday night) but hopefully we'll get to it in the next week or so. We'll see...something always seems to come up!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Welcome Sydney!

Samantha had her baby last night - a girl, 1lb, 11oz. All I know so far is that she came out kicking & screaming even though she's a tiny thing. Hopefully I'll get more details later today. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Cape Disappointment, Washington State 8/24/05



Two years ago today my sweetie asked me to marry him.

What a difference a couple of years makes!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Belly by Request

Frankly, I just think I look kind of fat....

Day 13: Homeward Bound (for real)

The last day of vacation was truly not relaxing. Up at 5am Dusseldorf time (11pm CDT), ate a lovely buffet breakfast - we ate a lot because hey - you never know when you're traveling when you'll be able to eat again! (that's how it feels sometimes anyway). Left for the airport at 7am. Checked in and got WORLD BUSINESS CLASS again - whohoo! We were told we could wait for our flight in the AirFrance club lounge - but it wasn't in our terminal so we skipped it. But oooh la ti dah! We felt very important. ha. Our flight was delayed (!!!) because although they FIXED our plane they neglected to clean it and empty the toilets...what? *sigh*

Upon boarding we were given vouchers from Northwest for 2000 bonus miles plus a $10 airport voucher...which was nice because we were going to have 7 or 8 hours to kill in Detroit. The flight was good - filled with a lot of fancy foods (we actually kind of like the coach food better than the fancy-pants business class food but oh well - we did get ice cream!) and drink and personal movies, reclining chairs and ACTUAL sleep. We landed in Detroit with no problems. Yay!

Upon landing we were given a free plane ticket (BUSINESS CLASS!!), 2500 more bonus miles and another $15 airport voucher - sweet!

In Detroit we had about 8 hours to kill. We spent a lot of time watching CNN on their huge monitors about the 35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis since it was the first we had heard/seen about it. We wandered, tried to find a quiet corner to relax in, used our airport vouchers and waited, waited, waited.

The ride to Duluth was uneventful and we were both so happy when we saw the illuminated lift bridge in the Duluth harbor. Home. It was so good to be home.

My luggage even made it with me. Yay.

WELCOME AURELIA RYAN!

Peder and Sarah had their baby this morning - a baby girl - Aurelia Ryan! One week and 5 days (I think) past the due date. I'm sure Sarah & Peder are over the moon to welcome their new family member. I think Aurelia was making to make her debut, as a Virgo. :) Well, on the cusp anyway....

CONGRATULATIONS!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Samantha

My friend Sam is 26 weeks pregnant (with her 3rd girl). She has been having problems with swelling fingers & numbness in her hands in the past few weeks and in the last couple days have felt as though someone is punching her in the stomach throughout the night.

She had a doctor's appointment this morning and an ultrasound....she called me with the update. She's in the hospital.

She has been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia (I looked it up, many spellings...) and it's fairly severe. The pain in her "stomach" was actually her liver swelling. She has been admitted to the hospital and they are injecting her with steroids fast and furious to help develop Baby S's lungs. More than likely Baby S will be delivered by C-section within the next 24 hours.

14 weeks early. Approx 2 lbs.

Please keep Samantha & her family in your thoughts and prayers. She's a strong woman and no doubt the little one she's carrying has the same fire & determination. A few extra warm fuzzies & good wishes & prayers never hurt anyone though.

Day 12: On our way Home

We had to get up at 3am on Wednesday to leave their house by 4-4:15am or so so we could make it to the airport by 5-5:15 or so so we could leave at 7am. Ugh. I was so tired. I was also super surprised that all of our stuff fit into our two suitcases. Whew.

Bertil & Maud drove us to the airport and waited with us through checking in. Then we said farewell. It was weird and a little sad...it was so nice to visit them and spend some quality time with them, but at the same time I was really looking forward to getting home too.

Our flight from Stockholm to Dusseldorf was uneventful. I think I slept for most of it which was nice, although I could've used MORE sleep. Always.

We got to Dusseldorf before 9am and we had to go out and then re-check in at the Northwest counter. But the Northwest counter wasn't open yet so we just hung around and waited until it was. We were the first ones in line because really? There was no place else to go.

We checked in and proceeded to the gate. We had about 3 or 4 hours (I forget) to wait until our flight. There was one coffee shop, one bar (ugh! all of the restaurants allowed smoking! Blech!) in our terminal. Mostly we walked around, ate a few nibbles, read, tried to sleep, etc. About a half hour or so before our flight our names were called over the loudspeaker. Oh great, I thought, they're bumping us off the flight!

But instead, they had re-seated us....row FOUR!! Which meant BUSINESS CLASS! I was so exciited I couldn't stand it. The counter guy said - I hope it's okay but you won't be sitting with each other (I was 4A and Steve was 4D)...we said that was fine! Now the prospect of flying home in a dinky 757 was not so bad! No longer would I be squished 3 + 3 in the back with one measely aisle, but we'd be 2 + 2 in the front! With personal entertainment systems! Yes! I was very excited.

But the plane didn't board. We waited and waited and waited. We were supposed to leave at 1pm but that time came and went and we still waited. We waited some more, had more to eat, walked, slept, read, etc. (I almost had to buy a new book!). We heard about the 35W bridge disaster and couldn't fine one English newspaper to give us more info. We wandered, we were already tired and we hadn't even gone very far.

By 4pm or so we had boarded the flight. We even taxied out on the tarmac. Steve had a couple of beers, I had some OJ (we did get to sit together - the guy next to Steve switched with me). We reclined in our big ass chairs and it wasn't so bad. We sat on the tarmac for almost 2 hours but it didn't matter to us! We were okay! But then we learned that they "couldn't find" 2,000 pounds (or gallons? I don't know but it was a lot) of fuel. (when you're up front the pilot actually comes out and TALKs to you and gives you info - it was cool!). Then after the fuel fiasco, they "couldn't get the left engine to start." Um, okay, now I was getting worried. Business Class or not. I need BOTH ENGINES TO FUNCTION!

After some technicians came on and tried to fix things but couldn't, they decided to send the passengers (all 160 of us) back to the terminal. We were bussed back to where we started. We were given a food voucher for the terminal and told to hang around because the flight hadn't officially been canceled yet. We were going to get something to eat but the lines were long (remember only one bar, one restaurant, 160 people. Ugh). But before too long they canceled the flight and told us what was next.

They would be bussing us to a hotel, after we picked up our luggage, where we would have dinner, spend the night, have breakfast and then be bussed back to the airport in the mornig. The flight had been rescheduled for 10am the next morning.

So, we went. Our luggage was actually right together (amazing!), we got on the bus, 45 minutes to the SwissHotel in Neuss Germany, a very very nice room (fancy!), a great buffet dinner (even with beer!...but not for me), a walk along the Rhine River, bed in a DARK room and that was that.....

Our trip was extended.

Steve along the Rhine River in Neuss, Germany. That's Dusseldorf on the other side


Dusseldorf


Our hotel in silhouette.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Day 11: The Last Day (sort of)



Our last day in Sweden was extremely pleasant. It didn't rain (which was nice) and we had an easy going day. Not a lot of running around and not NEARLY as much walking as the day before.

We slept in (sort of) and once again Bertil made us some delicious (Swedish) pancakes. Bertil & Maud then asked us what we really wanted to do - and I said - I REALLY want to go to some royal gardens. So off to Drottningholm Palace we went!

Drottningholm Palace is where the royal family currently lives (there are 10 or 11 palaces throughout Sweden, I believe. Most of them in the south). This palace is on a (drivable) island not too far from Stockholm's city center. It took us maybe 20-30 minutes to drive to.

The palace was built in the 1760s (if memory serves) by a Queen and has been partially "updated" over the years. Some rooms we saw were more of the original style (Baroque) while others had been updated (Roccoco). It was nice to get a glimpse inside although we could take no photos. I also got my need for a "museum" on this trip filled. I had been missing that element!

What I was most excited about though were the gardens. They were done in the "Versailles" style and they were beautiful.

They stretched out far beyond the palace and parts of them were open for us to wander through. There were fountains and lovely rows and rows of trees, wide open grassy areas and more closed off private areas. I kept imaging secret liasons happening here...or perhaps mischevieous children running and hiding from their nannies. Oh my imagination was running wild!

Of course while there we had to stop in the garden cafe for some coffee and waffles! Actually Steve & I had sandwiches (they were actually normal sandwiches) and Bertil & Maud had the väffla.

One unique aspect of this palace is the Chinese Pavilion. Back in....um, I can't remember what year....the King built this "Pavilion" for his Queen as a gift. At that time, anything Asian was particularly exotic and coveted so this was quite the gift! It was used primarily as a retreat for the royal family to "get away" from court life for a while. Camping I suppose (haha).


We enjoyed strolling the sprawling grounds (which you can visit for free - bring the kids, bring a picnic! relax, enjoy!) but soon it was time to go.

We had reservations at the ICE BAR which we couldn't miss.




The Absolut Ice Bar is in the city center and it is what it sounds like. An entire bar made of ice. It's located in the lobby of the Nordic Seas Hotel and is associated with the Ice Hotel which is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay up north. It's expensive to get into, we had to make reservations the day before and it's cold (23 degrees Farenheit). You get a special parka & gloves when you enter and your "cover" charge also gets you one vodka cocktail (that's all the serve...well, that and juices. Guess what I had?). The drinks come in these cool (literally, figuratively) ice glasses

and you sit on benches made of ice (covered, thankfully in reindeer skins). They have cool (sorry) music playing and it has an interesting vibe. Basically you go in, soak up the novelty...take a few pictures and be on your merry way. That's what we did anyway.

After the ice bar it was time to head back to Segeltorp to start packing all of our stuff and have one last dinner. We feasted on grilled bananas wrapped in bacon (try it! They're good!!), grilled mushrooms and bbq pork. It was a lovely way to end our big long vacation.

We had to leave their house at 4am so we tried to get to bed as early as possible....mixed results.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Amonia (sic) and Jello

While checking my (pathetic. meager.) blogstats tonight, I came across that as a referral. Yes, someone got to my site by searching for "Amonia & Jello."

That is very weird.

Oh yeah...

and EEEEEEEK! 20 WEEKS TODAY!

That's half-way, my friends.


Holy crap!

Gymnastics

Well, the Chick Pea has taken up gymnastics, it seems. There was a lot of crazy activity this weekend. I could even feel certain leaps and tumbles on the outside. Steve was able to feel a couple too although he is skeptical that that is what he felt! ha. Nope, that's it honey!! I think it just makes it more and more real and scary to him. Yeah, tell me about it!

Chick Pea is very fond of mint chocolate chip ice cream....or at least that makes him/her do absolute summersaults within!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Party Pooper

So I have a party planned for tonight. A Wrap Party for GOD ROCKS. It's to be an outside affair - the grill will be going, a fire was planned for our awesome firepit, etc...

Of course today is overcast, about 55 degrees and there is now a FIRE BAN in Duluth which means we cannot have a fire in our fire pit. POOEY.

I'm such a great party planner. Hmph.

Now I better go & hurriedly clean the house as apparently the party will be moving inside. Too bad the dessert I planned for was 'smores!

Doh.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Day 10: Gamla Stan or the "Old City"

On Monday morning we got up and headed into Gamla Stan - the Old City of Stockholm. I will admit - this was my favorite place in Stockholm. I love the tiny narrow cobblestone streets, the shops & cafes in small alleyways, the sense of history and past and the bustling nature of it yet today.



First we went to the harbor to watch some of the tall ships depart. We saw a few on their way out with their sails down - quite impressive! The harbor was busy with so many of these ships that it made me think of what it must've looked like a hundred or two hundred years ago. That made me happy. There were hundreds of spectators all along the harbor watching these ships. I'm sure when this was how it looked every day, no one even noticed. Funny how that works, isn't it?

Then we were off to the Royal Palace to witness the changing of the guards. This palace is no longer the residence of the royal family but only a place where they have their offices & do administrative work. It is across a bridge from the parliament building (which is across a bridge from where the Prime Minister lives).

The changing of the guards has become quite a tourist event over the past years. Unfortunately this was my view:


I am far too short for such spectacle. Steve & I hung back (he couldn't see either nor did he care to mingle in such close company with the large crowd) and we enjoyed the music (the "music corps" or whatever they're called played quite a few numbers and the drum corps did an awesome drum....song? While we couldn't SEE any of it we could hear it and Bertil stood with his arms raised and videotaped the entire thing for us! What a guy). We also saw the changing of the guard (just one, not the whole shebang" up close and personally and noted at how crabby most of the guards looked.


After that we strolled back through Gamla Stan and had lunch at a cafe in a very fabulous "square." I loved it.

We then walked and walked and walked and walked and walked until I was positively exhausted. We walked down this major shopping pedestrian street...we weren't that intereseted in shopping (!) but that is where Bertil & Maud were taking us so there we went (personally, Steve & I could've just spent hours wandering the winding streets of the old city, taking photographs, relaxing, etc...oh well). We stopped at the department store where Greta Garbo worked before being "discovered." We also stopped at the old Haymarket which is now the home to the most fabulous produce & flower market - I loved it! I was craving fresh fruit (we had very little of it while there...hosts fault? or Swedes? I'm not sure! I think it was our hosts judging by the produce at this market), that Bertil bought me a large bag of grapes. Boy were they good.


Our final stop on this long shopping streeet was a fancy pants yarn/clothing shop which was mentioned here which I wanted to check out. I bought my friend Sarah some lovely birthday yarn and my friend Anna (hi Anna!) some "thanks for watching our cat & house" yarn.

Then we were ready to go home. We had a lovely bbq at Bertil & Maud's house and a quiet evening. It was nice for a change to not be trying to find a restaurant and then trying to decipher what my delicate palate would agree to.

One day left in Sweden.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Pfffffft

I just got a parking ticket, dammit.

Day 9: Taking it Easy in Stockholm


On Sunday we just wanted an easy day with little or no driving. We were sick of being in the car, ready for some more alone time and wanted to explore a nature reserve in Segeltorp (the suburb where we were staying).

We slept in, Bertil made (Swedish) pancakes for breakfast and we went for a walk.

The nature reserve is very large and is filled with trails for x-country skiing (Sweden is a country that LOVES their x-country skiing - wow)/hiking and horses. It was extremely reminiscent of Minnesota, don't you think?





We didn't have a good trail map and we sort of didn't know where we were for a while and we came out at a place that was sort of in the direction we thought we were going in but not really...and after 3 hours I was pooped and ready to call it a day. Oh and of course it rained on us, again.

We found the "city center" and called Bertil & Maud and told them we'd be heading over to....

THE LARGEST IKEA IN THE WORLD.



What can I say? It was awesome and I was only saddened by the fact that we couldn't really BUY anything. Bertil & Maud met us there and we had lunch in the cafe (btw, they serve beer & wine in their cafeteria. rock on). We walked through all the wonderfully designed & appointed rooms, we drooled (okay, I drooled) over the immense stock of fabrics they have for sale (the Bloomington fabric section does not even COMPARE to this one), and for the first time I started actually paying attention to the children's bedding, furniture and toys (eeek). It took us a long time to get through everything but it was like visiting the Motherland. They have EVERYTHING there. Not just *some* of the items, EVERYTHING. They also have more cafes & coffee shops sprinkled throughout in addition to the large restaurant. Because, you know, the Swedes MUST have their coffee!!!!

That evening we headed into Stockholm to check out the tall ships. The 2007-2008 Tall Ship Race (an international competition apparently) was "in town" that weekend and planning on saling out on Monday morning. They were very cool. The most impressive ones were the ones with the very tall wooden masts. I think my favorite ship was the Mexican ship. Very impressive (the American ship we saw quite literally paled in comparison. pfffft). The Mexican ship had lively music blasting out of it and was hosting some sort of fancy pants party on board. It was fun to watch. And of course, it rained on us.






Not daunted by the rains we pushed through the crowds and checked out all the ships. We had fresh, hot roasted toffee almonds (oh my god - sooooo good) and stopped to hear some Swedish pop music (apparently some 'star' - I have no clue who it was) and eventually found ourselves briefly in the old city. We saw the royal palace (from behind) and strolled through the streets of downtown Stockholm.

We also heard lots of horns honking & commotion in the main roundabout....what could it be? HUNDREDS of Iraqi's celebrating Iraq's victory in the Asia Cup.
There was singing and shouting and horns blaring and drumming and throngs of people. Lots of flags being waved and if they didn't have flags they were waving their children's blankets and one guy even had a toy stick-pony (that you might ride as a child) waving out his car window! Ah, creativity! The main square earlier in the day held 20,000 revelers!! I had no idea there was such a large Iraqi population in Stockholm. Apparently there is!

After that excitement we found a pub and had some dinner and returned to the lovely quietness of Segeltorp. Only two days left on our trip. *sigh*

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Day 8: Back to Stockholm

On Saturday we all decided that it was time to head south to Stockholm. Steve & I were looking forward to having a few days to explore the capital city and also get back to the land of less light at night!

We knew it would be a long day - and we tried to prepare mentally. A lot of driving...a lot of stopping at various places of interest and for coffee...more coffee, more driving and finally back to home base.


We stopped at Stenegården for lunch. This was in a very charming and beautiful little town called Järvsö. Stenegården is an old farm which now houses shops & a restaurant. We had a buffet lunch which was quite yummy. I particularly enjoyed the lingonberry juice (sort of a theme developing for me over there - like cranberry juice but a wee bit less bitter - just as healthy though!). I also picked up a couple of gift items.

Back in the car we drove through beautiful rolling hills and forests. It was quite lovely. The forests there are so full of rocks, it's unbelievable. Apparently this was one reason that a lot of people immigrated to the US. They couldn't make a go of farming and knew of lots of wide open land in the new country. Makes sense.

I had mentioned that I would like to buy some flax/linen yarn for knitting...little did I know this would lead us to Växbo to a linen factory! It was very cool (although the factory was not running due to it being a Saturday) and I so much wanted to buy every bit of linen that I laid my hands on. Sadly, it was not in my price range (at all). I toyed with buying some remnants to make placemats or napkins out of but it was still a spendy venture so I passed. I did walk away with a really nice dish cloth...Steve thinks I'm very weird.

Another stop we made was at Skärsa which is a charming seaside village on the Baltic Sea. Apparently this was at one time definitely a "fisherman's village" but now it's more of a summer area for people with a lot of money. Only 4 fisherman still live in the town. We had ice cream here.





We also drove by Bertil & Maud's old house in Söderhamn. Very nice. We also stopped (!) at McDonalds for coffee. Apparently when you have to have it, you HAVE to have it. I had french fries. They were really good.

I think after Söderhamn we hit the road in earnest.....I can't remember and it was getting late. I tried to knit in the car to keep myself awake but after a while that didn't help much either. I think it took us about 10 hours to get back to Stockholm. Ay yi yi.