and I had planed to head to his parent's house for the weekend, leaving either on Friday evening after work, or Saturday, depending on how we felt when the time arrived. I already posted about how I wound up taking Friday off to work on a project at home
. After spending the day and into the early evening sewing it did not really surprise me that I wasn't motivated to gather up stuff to take with us and head down there on Friday. However, in hindsight, I probably should have asked him before 23:00 what time he wanted to be on the road on Saturday, since the reply was "by 08:00". Oops--if I had known that a bit earlier in the evening I might have done some preparation for an early departure and gotten ready for bed by then.
We didn't quite make that goal. I wanted to bring some bread rolls with me as a contribution, so when I woke up in the morning I started some bread dough before gathering clothes, computer, sewing project, and my favourite pillows to take with us. As a result it was actually 09:00 before we got on the road, which got us to their place
before 10:00. We arrived just as they were about to head out the door to head to the cemetery and light candles on her parent's graves, which gave us time to unload, put stuff away, shape the bread dough into rolls, set them to rise, and clean up the evidence before they returned.
All of that tidying up was necessary, not only because *I* prefer things to be neat, clean, and tidy, but because it is also near and dear to his mother's house, and goes to a great deal of effort to get ready before Christmas, so that she can enjoy the "Christmas calm" and beauty of a clean home while enjoying way too much good food spread out over the entire weekend.
The first meal they fed us was a traditional lunch--Risgröt
(hot rice porridge (rice cooked in milk)) with optional toppings of sugar and cinnamon. (I opted not to--it was perfect as it was.) Soon after enjoying that I put the rolls into the oven, and cheerfully ate three of them when they came out of the oven. The others had all taken seconds on the porridge, so didn't try the rolls. After that lord_kjar
and I set up the massage table in the living room of the other house* and gave his dad a massage.
In Sweden the big celebration and food day is Christmas Eve, and they eat nice and early, so it wasn't that long after the massage that they started filling the dining table. And I do mean filling. There were only the four of us for dinner (lord_kjar
's siblings all went to the homes of their respective partner's parents for Christmas this year, since they all came home last year), yet I counted 15 distinct different things to eat on the table (not counting extras like mustard and salad dressing). ( compare and contrast holiday food traditions )
Of that list I wasn't able to eat anything containing vinegar (like mayonnaise), fish, or meat, which means that "all" I had that meal was numbers 3, 4 (yes, I was brave enough to try it, in tiny quantity, and can happily report that when there is way more hard-boiled egg than fish eggs and yoghurt I like it just fine. Perhaps one day I will eat it the way they do, with the sauce completely covering the egg), 6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, & 15. Needless to say, I had *plenty* to eat, and ate more different dishes that I am used to eating for Christmas dinner, even if only one of them matched my own expectations of what "should" be included in a holiday meal. They assure me that the variety was actually smaller than normal—there are a variety of things which they usually also have that they didn't bother making this year because there were so few of us eating.
After that meal lord_kjar
and I took a short nap on the couch (since we had been shooed away from the kitchen; his mother is happier to put left overs away and load the dishwasher on her own, rather than having people mess with her system) before heading outside for a walk (during which we played with an app that shows what stars and planets are out—the bright one was Jupiter).
In the evening we pulled out the game "Maxi Yatze"
. Because of the similarity to the word "Yatzee"
, and the pictures of dice on the box, I was expecting the game that I have known and loved since childhood. Nope, not even. This one has six dice, and instead of five, and on the bottom half of the score sheet things like "hus" (house) don't have a set number of points, but instead you add up the spots on the dice, which changes everything as far as strategy goes. However, I still had fun playing.
Christmas itself is a day of relaxation and eating leftovers, mostly. The risgröt
from the day before made a revised appearance—this time it was blended with a fair bit of whipped cream and served with two side sauces—one strawberry based, the other hjortron
(cloudberry—a yellow berry which grows in swamps). Now I must admit this was a big hit with me. I liked the risgröt hot, and I like it cold left over for breakfast the next morning, but as a desert blending it with lots of whipped cream is really, really decadent and yummy. (There is a reason my food log now says that I have had more dairy products this month than vegetables—I don't think it was actually higher before we went to his folk's house this weekend.)
I would have liked to have slept in, since we were up last most days last week, yet still got up early. But his mother invited us to join them in listing to the choir at the local church. I decided that it wouldn't kill me to attend a church service, so we got up at 06:00 to be out the door by 06:30. (The last time I was in any church at all was in 2001 or 2001 when I attended a Jewish temple on a holiday with my then boyfriend and his parents—I liked that one—lots and lots of singing, and I couldn't understand a word of whatever preaching there may have been. The time before that was 1999, when khevron
and I were visiting his family in Ireland. Before that I would have been a child.) The Church in Piteå is surprisingly ornate inside. When I was a kid we went to Lutheran church, and the interior decoration was pretty plain. This one has huge elaborate decorations all shiny with gold (or other shiny yellow metal) coating. The style of art made me think early 1700's. I don't think it is actually that old—apparently this town burned down once in the 1800's and was replaced, but perhaps they re-did the church in the same style.
The choir was nice, and I was pleased with the way that they signal that it is time for the audience to sing too—the electric lights turn on. The rest of the time the room was lit only with candle light, and lots of it. Single candles on the entrances to each pew, and many candles hanging from each chandelier (and a mass of electric bulbs up higher). The woman who did the preaching spoke very slowly and clearly. If it had been my native language I would have found it frustratingly slow and hard to listen to, but since I am only learning this language it was delightful to have her speak slowly enough that I actually had time to make note of which words I recognized before she moved on to the next ones. I even understood one entire sentence: "Vi har ätit julmat."
(we have eaten Christmas food).
After church we went home for breakfast and then we took a nap (if I had known a nap was in the plan I wouldn't have eaten that meal—I had, of course, had some muesli before we went out, since I am a feed me instantly when I get up in the morning kind of girl), and didn't get up till 12:30. That left just time for a short walk before eating another big meal, of leftovers (including the above mentioned rice porridge and cream and berries).
In the early evening we played a children's trivia game. I am pleased to report that I was able to answer some of the questions without asking for a translation of the words. Others I could answer after they translated one or two words for me, and still others they wouldn't translate because the whole point of the question was to see if the player happens to know that word. I think that the weekend, even before this game, was a big help with my Swedish speaking. Since his parents don't really speak English I had good reason to practice, and was able to communicate often.
After the game I did a video call with my mother and sister which was quite nice. Just before that call ended I got another call from my knight, so I told him I would call him back when I got off the phone with mom, and then when I was talking with my knight I got another call from clovis_t
, so made arrangements to call him when I got off of that call. All in all I spent two hours talking to family and friends long distance while lord_kjar
helped his mother with some computer issues (they did meet my mom and sister before they went out to the office).
Monday morning we got up around 9:00 so that we could help make palt
, a traditional dumpling like thing made from a mix of grated potatoes (both raw and pre-cooked—it is important that there be more raw than cooked potato in the mix), wheat flour, and barley flour. They cooked some in one pot plain, and filled the others with meat and cooked them in the larger pot. These take a fair bit of time to make between the prep and the full hour of simmering in the pot. The reason we went to so much effort was that lord_kjar
's younger brother, his wife, and her parents were coming over. They ate the palt
with lingonberry jam and butter, I ate mine with fresh spinach and butter (since the spinach, which we had brought with us, since we didn't think it would last until we got home, needed to be eaten).
The eight of us relaxed and visited, cleaned away the palt
mess, brought out desert, relaxed and visited, cleared away the desert (short bread bowls, filled with whipped cream, topped with (frozen) raspberries and more of that hjortron
sauce), relaxed and visited more, and then it was time for "fika"
(tea or coffee with a variety of cookies and cakes—in this case there were four types of cookies, and two of cakes). In between all of that food I managed to finally complete a project in progress
(and the next photo in the album, too).
After the other guests left I curled up with some Swedish children's books while he continues doing stuff with his mother's computer, and when he came back in I read a couple of them to him.
The first one was a little kids book about the difficulties involved in hiding an elephant. It had one or two sentences per page, and pictures on every page. Even though I had never seen the word "gömma"
before it was easy to tell from context that it means "hide", and, indeed, by the end of the story I understood every word in the book, even though that was not the only word I had never seen before. The other one I read aloud was aimed at older kids—it has several paragraphs on each page, but still has a picture on each page, too. It was about a couple of kids who had a large moss covered log in their yard (in a cabin in the forest) who used to pretend that it was an animal that they were riding, and one day they made wings for it out of an old parachute, and then a magic creature cast a spell to make the log a real dragon, which flew off with them to adventures in a land far away and long ago. I couldn't understand every word in that story, but between the illustrations and the fact that I understood most of them I was easily able to follow the story.
Eventually we packed up and returned home, where I should have done my yoga and gone straight to bed, but instead I sat down to the computer, so here it is, 02:30 in the morning, and yoga still hasn't happened. Therefore I should probably post this and get to it, since tomorrow is a work day…
* Their house is well set up--the main house consists of a huge open space living room kitchen area, their bedroom, and a large bathroom (with hot tub). The other house contains the office for his mother's business, a small living room, small bathroom, sauna, laundry room, and upstairs four small guest rooms with bunk beds, the lower bunk in each room is double wide. This way when their kids come to visit they have their own space.