kareina: (Default)
I stayed up way too late sewing on my cool witch's hat in progress, so slept in till it was time to get ready to go this morning. It was a lovely cool morning (+7 C), so it was lovely to put on my wool folk dance skirt and bodice over the linen underdress. Since the underdress for the local area has sleeves that barely go past the elbow, I made a point of bringing the long fingerless gloves I made special to wear at Midsommer (since it is often cool here for Midsommer) and my viking coat (turned so that the black with red embroidery side is out, since that goes better with the folk costume).

We made it to the Gillestuga early enough for me to eat my breakfast and wash the bowl before time to do the walk through of today's dance performance. Then the 30 of us ate the traditional lunch Midsommer together. This year instead of cooking it ourselves they had it catered, and the caterers made a point of making dishes for those of us who turned in our list of food restrictions. Therefore, instead of eating only potato and boring lettuce salad from the meal, as I have had to do for the past six years (since the traditional Swedish Midsommer consists of a lot of pickled herring and other things I can't/won't eat), I got to eat a lovely vegetable and lentil dish, with a nice spinach and other interesting greens salad, something in the falafel family, and a nice "home-baked" bread with brie. I don't know how the others felt about the catering, but I was surprisingly happy with it. The only place they didn't do better than our tradition was that while they did serve the traditional fresh strawberries (imported from southern Sweden, since up here the strawberries are in flower but don't yet have berries), they had only ice cream as an accompaniment, no fresh whipped cream. This may be a good thing, as it meant that I didn't go back for 4ths on the strawberries and cream (of course I didn't take any of the ice cream, since it wasn't homemade).

After lunch we went over to the open air museum at Hägnan, where, since this year we were a smaller group than usual, with fewer strong, tall people than usual, we skipped the "carry the Midsommarstång in a parade around the grounds" part, and just put it straight into the hole in the ground to stand it up before dancing around it. I really enjoy the silly dances we do around the Midsommarstång. I think my favourite is the one where we stomp around like elephants with one arm stretched out like a trunk and the other wrapped around it and pinching our nose. (yes, this really is a thing in Sweden--the first verse of that song is about little frogs who are fun to see, as they have no ears nor tails. The verses about the horses, pigs, and elephants are more fun).

Then we did our on stage performance of folk dancing, which, as always, was much fun, and seemed to be well received. After dancing I had just time to hug a group of my friends who were in the crowd and talk to a lady who came up to me and asked "I so want to dance with you guys--do you have to be Swedish?", I told her that I am not Swedish, and she would be so welcome to join us. Turns out she is a PhD student at the uni, from India, and I gave her my name so she can look me up on the Uni web page and I can get her more info on Swedish folk dance. Hope that she does, since I didn't have time to talk more, since we had to head off to the other park, in the city center, to do it all again.

As always there was quite a contrast between the two city-sponsored celebrations. The one at Hägnan charges an entrance fee and is really crowded, while the one at Glitzudden is free for all, and has much more open space, so feels much less crowded (I have no idea how the actual numbers compare, but I think Hägnan really does have more people in addition to less space). Because Glitzudden doesn't have a dance stage we modify what dances we perform there--choosing things one can do safely on the grass (we don't want to do the spins of the polskas on the grass). As always, after doing some performance dances we then invited the audiance to join us for a couple of dances--the ones where we play follow the leader and walk in a pattern--one needs lots of people to make these work, and we have both enough people and enough room at this park.

Then we packed up the sound equipment and took it back to the gillestuga before heading home, arriving at around 17:00, so just over seven hours after leaving. Since then David and I spent some time talking about the upcoming plans for yard improvement when his brother arrives with the digger and tractor next week, and the earth cellar work we want to do this week. Then he took the new lawn mower down to the black current patch to create some paths between the bushes, while I had a quick bowl of popcorn for dinner, and then went outside and dismantled the "corral" we made last autumn out of old pallets to provide a semi-sheltered area for my car to park in the winter. There being no blowing snow this time of year it is no longer needed, and we will need to be able to drive the tractor and digger through that space when we create the place for the container (as in one of those big things that are used to ship things internationally--the container that has been living at his dad's property is moving here as an additional storage building), and the road we are going to put in from the area behind the sheds to the field. By the time I got that done and started moving O's winter tires which we store for him (since he lives in an apartment) from behind the recycling shed (where we will be doing some major landscaping) to the other side of the forge shed David had finished his mowing, so he helped me carry the pallets to the other side of the forge shed, too, and we agreed that I would move the pile of scrap wood from behind the shed to beside the house tomorrow.

Then I worked on my witch's hat embroidery while they had their (somewhat late dinner) and then we had a house meeting, catching up on everything we three ought to know about how things have been going and upcoming plans. Tomorrow C. will work, David will go help his little brother empty the last of his stuff out of that container, and I will stay home and accomplish useful things (like the aforesaid moving of scrap wood, and moving the wild strawberries from the area that will be landscaped, and baking with that pack of milk that went sour when we weren't looking). O. is also planning on dropping by so that I can re-braid his hair for him to have it presentable before he takes his driving test next week.
kareina: (stitched)
As one might expect for a country which extends so far to the north, midsummer is a rather important holiday. The holiday itself was Friday, the 21st, Midsommarafton. We spent it, as we have every year since I arrived in Sweden (this is my third midsummer here!) with the folk music/dance community. The day started with a gathering at the gillestuga in Gammelstad at 10:00 for a quick dance rehearsal, followed by lunch for all the musicians and dancers. Lunch ended just on time to head over to the open air museum in Gammelstad and raise the leaf-and flowered covered cross and lead the children (both large and small) in the traditional dances around the cross, followed by our dance performance. The crowd there to enjoy the beautiful day and the traditional activities was quite large (the number 7000 was mentioned by one of the other dancers, but I am not certain where she got it), yet I saw a few people I know in the crowd. However, I didn't have a chance to speak to any of them, since it was time to hurry over to a park near city center, and do it all again.

The crowd in town was noticeably smaller than the one in Gammelstad, so there was much more room for dancing, which was fun. As he does every year at midsummer [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar didn't dance with us, but instead ran the sound system for the music at the park in town, which he rather enjoys doing. I can't complain about losing my favourite dance partner for the day, since the man I wound up dancing with instead is one who has been a very good dancer since well before either [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar or I were born, and is always a pleasure to dance with.

After the second dance performance ended we took the sound equipment back to Gammelstad, and joined some of the other dancers and musicians for a dinner of leftovers from lunch (I had, of course, brought some food with me to eat between the provided lunch and dinner) and then we finally returned home some eight hours after leaving the house.

Soon after we arrived home [livejournal.com profile] liadethornegge arrived. She had spend the day in the area, and was going to spend the night at our place, to save having to drive back and forth two days in a row. It was lovely getting a chance to visit with her--we both tend to be too busy at events to slow down and talk much.

Our event started around mid-day on Saturday. I got up early enough to bake a large loaf of garlic bread (of the sort where one puts in many whole (or half, depending on how big they are) cloves of garlic into the bread so that they roast and become soft pockets of yumminess within the bread) that came out of the oven around the time the first of the other guests started arriving.

It was a lovely, low-key SCA event. We danced a little, sang some songs, worked on handicrafts, chatted, ate yummy food, and in the evening soaked in the shire hot tub (which we had fetched last week so that it would be available). We had around a dozen people, and a good mix of long time SCA people, people new to the SCA, and some friends from choir and folk music, too. Some are local, and some drove from as far away as Skellefteå (two hours south of here). One of the guys who came up from Piteå is merchant, from whom I had purchased some yarn at an event sometime in the last year or so. I am currently using that yarn to nålbind some socks, and they are about half as tall as I want them to be, but I am running low of yarn. So I emailed him this week and asked if he could bring me more. He did, and the price was so reasonable I bought another six skeins--so I should be able to make a few more things from it when this project ends. I love not needing to actually go shopping, but just have what I need show up when I need it, ready to purchase with no effort on my part.

We did wind up spending the day inside (except for hottubbing and using the bbq to cook), since it was a rainy & blustery day, but we had enough fun that I don't think anyone minded (well, save for the one friend who couldn't stay due to an allergy to the visiting dog. I had told another friend last week that he could bring his old, small, and well behaved dog with him to the event, since we had planned to be outside all day, and his dog is too old to be left home alone all day. However, when I woke up to the rain I had forgotten that the dog was coming too, and when they arrived I didn't feel I could ask him to leave the dog outside in the rain and wind, so I let him in (but insisted that the dog stay on the floor, which is easily cleaned later, and not the nice wool rug I use for a yoga mat). The dog was quiet and well behaved, so I didn't mind having him there, until a friend arrived who couldn't risk staying, since she is allergic to dogs. Sigh. I would have loved to have had her company, too, but she said she was content to go visit her grandchildren instead.

People wandered home early enough that we had the kitchen cleaned back up by midnight, and got to sleep at a reasonable hour. Today we started the part of the yard work we have been putting off till after the event--the root cellar! The area we want to build the root cellar happened to already have some of the lovely, tiny, strawberries that the Swedes call smultron growing on it, so I moved them (and the dirt they were growing on) over to the area next to the shed, while [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar used the tractor to do a bit more work on the lower part of our field. Once I had rescued most of the berries he brought the tractor up and started the digging, which involved alternating between using the forklift point to loosen and carry away single large rocks, and using the large scoop to carry away bunches of small stones and earth. I helped for part of this by using the huge steel rod to loosen up some of the medium sized stones to make them easier for the tractor to scoop up. Other bits of the project I was inside the house working on organizing stuff there. His dad's tractor isn't a huge one, so this process takes rather longer to do than it does to describe, so I had plenty of time to be useful in both ways.

We managed to do what is likely to be about half of the digging for the root cellar, and after that was done we also made time to bring in the ladder and finally hang the light above the stairs that has been sitting on the floor under the kitchen shelves for six months waiting for us to put it up. Granted, we still need to actually run electricity to that light, but that is progress, nonetheless.

Now I am curled up at my computer--first time I have touched it all weekend, and he is watching the Lord of the Rings on his, which, I must point, is somewhat distracting. I started typing at the opening prologue began, and now Frodo is waking up in Rivendel after his near death experience at Weathertop. Somehow I doubt that it would have taken me so long to type if he had chosen a less interesting way to relax....
kareina: (me)
This week was midsummer. I forgot to check sunrise and sunset times for solstice itself, but for today the sun rose here in Luleå at 01:02, and the sun will set tonight at three minutes after midnight; we are around 65.5 degrees north, so still south of the Arctic Circle, so the sun does set, but, as you can see, not for long.

Midsummer is a major holiday here, everyone has that Friday off of work--grocery stores close early (if they open at all), and the Saturday counts as a Sunday for determining if and when shops open. Our local Folk Music and Dance group is Very active in the celebrations. We all gathered in Gammelstead, at the old schoolhouse where we meet for music and dance sessions early Friday morning, all in our costumes appropriate to the area in the late 1800's. I have been borrowing one from one of the other dancers that she can no longer wear, but we managed to get [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive's wool shirt finished on time for the weekend's festivities (or, rather, finished enough--a couple of the seams could still use covering inside so that the zig-zagged edges don't rub unpleasantly.

In some ways the morning felt much like an SCA event--friends gathered in costume, some music, dance (practice for the afternoon's shows) followed by a shared lunch (traditional Swedish food appropriate to the era--desert was a jelly-roll style cake served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, I could not resist!). We had around 40 people in the group, ranging from about 10 years old to probably 70--all of us musicians or dancers (or family members thereof?). The morning weather was lovely and sunny, with plenty of pretty clouds decorating the sky, and we were mostly outside, talking and practicing.

However, while we were inside enjoying lunch the rain that had been promised arrived (we had been checking its approach on the radar images on line on his phone off and on all morning). So as it came time to process over to the stage for the mid day performances the musicians put their instruments into cases and drove over (normally they play them for the procession) and we dancers covered up our costumes either with plastic rain cloaks, or (in my case) a wool cloak, and umbrellas and walked over there with a minimum of fan fare. On arrival we erected the summer pole (wood which had been covered with fresh branches of leaves wrapped around it, some flowers, and blue and yellow ribbons--shaped like a cross, but with big wreaths of more leaves and ribbons and flowers depending from the side arms) with due ceremony and music from the musicians (who, being on a covered stage, were happily dry while the rest of us were in the rain.

Due to the rain the crowds of the public there to watch numbered only in the hundreds--I am told that most years (when the sun shines) there are more like 7,000 or 8,000 people present. Since it was raining and the stage is not covered and the wood thereof would be slippery, it was first decided that we would skip the performance dancing this year, and do only the traditional children's dancing around the pole. So we dancers joined the musicians on the stage to sing the songs to which the children would dance, and the kids from our group were joined by all of the children present for the dancing.

Luckily, the rain stopped during that part of the program, so as the kid's dances finished some of our dancers got out some large squeegee things and dried off the wooden stage, and we did our performance as planned. I danced with our dance teacher, since [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive had committed to run sound at the other park this year, and was already there, and her husband is one of the musicians, and so didn't dance. Just before we danced some of the local SCA folk I know got up on stage, in costume, and announced the upcoming Medieval Week that will be held on that site in a few weeks. I would have loved to have joined them, but my costume for the day was centuries too late.

As soon as we finished dancing at the first park we all piled into cars and drove to a park in the city center, where we repeated the performance (including erecting another leaf, flower, and ribbon covered pole for the children to dance around) again there. (We had helped make that one on Thursday, before doing a practice session of the dances--I don't know who made the one for Gammelstad.) After that performance we helped pack down the sound equipment, musician tent, and booths, drove them back to storage in Gammelstad, and were home again by 17:30.

We then spent a bit of time relaxing with popcorn (me) and a beer (him--not that he is in the habit of drinking them--the few beers we purchased at the store that day were the first I have seen in the apartment in the nearly six months of living here) curled up on the couch together watching a video. As you may recall I am not a big watcher of movies, and I pretty much quit watching TV back in the 1980's when I joined the SCA and discovered that I would rather do things than sit around staring at a box watching people do things. I have not owned a TV since, and rarely lived in a house wherein there was a TV. [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive doesn't own an old fashioned TV, but he does have a projection system hooked up to his computer and stereo system, so he can watch movies when he wishes to.

Sometime recently he talked me into watching Stargate with him--I had never really heard of it hitherto, so we saw first the movie, and are now slowly working our way through the series--this weekend we saw episode 5. In general I would still far prefer to read a story than watch one, but curling up in his lap to share a story isn't a bad thing, so we will likely work our way through his video library over time, though at the rate I am willing to watch it will take years.

After watching the show we then proceeded with the fun part of the evening--starting the stitching on my winter coat. I had originally started this coat while I was in Tassie, made out of a nice sturdy black wool that we got free from a friend who knows someone in the business of providing theaters with fire retardant curtains--he regards any length that is too short to fall from ceiling to floor in a theater as "scrap", and so many SCA folk who know him have garb made of this stuff. When I cut out the coat then I didn't have a suitable lining, so I cut up an old raw silk dress with which I lined the skirt, and used some nice sturdy black silk I had to line the sleeves and upper body (which makes it easy to put the coat on over a wool sweater when it is really cold out).

Sadly, the old dress had been washed in detergent too many times, and it quickly wore out under the hard use that a winter coat gets, and so the lining was starting to hang in ribbons. I had also not been all that happy with the cut of the coat--the execution and the initial vision didn't mesh as well as I would have liked. So I took it apart and cut new lining for it out of a blue and white wool I picked up in Italy (keeping the nice silk for the upper part of the body, but over the second wool, so the top will be three layers thick), and changed the cut of the pieces so that the waist of the coat better aligns with my own waist--I wound up changing the cut of some of the pieces quite dramatically, and added two new panels that are simple rectangles at the front center to make up for narrowing all of the other pieces. It has been sitting in that state for days now, waiting for us to finish his Folk Dance shirt for this weekend so that we could then start on the coat.

Last night and today we have been making progress on the coat in small bits. Today, after visiting with his brother and sister-in-law in the morning the progress has been going like this: He stitches a seam while I read to him out of the Swedish version of Harry Potter (I have been listening to it in audio book, and am a chapter ahead of what I am reading to him, so that helps, but he still has to correct my pronunciation of a number of oddly spelled words. Who ever heard of silent L's anyway?). Then he takes a break with his computer game in progress while I trim the excess of the parts of the seam that need to be folded inside the flat felled seam. Then he does the second pass with the sewing machine, stitching the seam shut, and returns to his game while I pin the next piece onto the coat. We are more than half way done assembling it now, but it is getting lateish, so I don't know how far we will get tonight. But I am hopeful that we will have it done before I fly to Winter on Thursday.

That will be something of a shock to the system--the temp isn't THAT different--it is 16 C here (at nearly 23:00), and it is 9C in Hobart just now (where it is almost 07:00 tomorrow morning), but the change in number of hours of daylight is going to be really noteworthy. At least there won't be any mosquitoes down there this time of the year--they are quite plentiful here, and one must dress to keep covered unless one wishes lots of bites.

My plan for Australia is: Land in Sydney on the evening of Friday the 1st (ash clouds permitting), train to Canberra the morning of the 2nd, turn in my visa application at the Embassy the morning of Monday, 4 July, then head on to the Melbourne area a day or three later (depending on if the Embassy wants to see me again straight away--they have already seen pdf files of my application packet, but it must be filed officially in person, with proper payment of fees) to visit my step sister and her family, and my mother who is also visiting them. I will fly to Tassie the morning of 10 July (again, ash clouds permitting--mom has had her flight there from Melbourne delayed once already), where I will await word on my visa, staying with [livejournal.com profile] mushroom_maiden, whose normal housemate will be in Iceland.

How long will I need to wait? That simply cannot be predicted. Duke Elfin told me at Double Wars that when he submitted this sort of visa application to the Embassy in Canberra back in 1996 it was approved only one week after he applied! However, their web page warns that the process can take up to 7 or 8 months. The cover letter accompanying my application lists my top three dates by which I would wish to return to Sweden and why (before 13 July, so I can teach classes at the local Medieval week and then spend all of [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive's vacation with him, or before early August so that we can use the ferry tickets we purchased to attend the Medieval week in Gotland, or before September, so that we can teach the beginning Swedish Folk Dance class we agreed to teach). I hope that they like my application well enough to reach the decision and approve my visa on time for one or all of them.

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