kareina: (me)
When we walked from the house to [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's parent's motorhome to sleep last night the driveway was comprised of a thin layer of snow left behind after plowing, the texture of which was that perfect consistency to make that squeaky-crunchy sound snow makes on a cold day. Winter-perfect.

When I woke up this morning and walked into the house it was necessary to be careful, as now the driveway is comprised of ice with a film of water covering it, and all of the drain-spouts from the roofs of the house and out-buildings were running liquid water. It was also lightly raining, but I suspect that most of the water film over the driveway came from melting rather than precipitation.

We had planned to spend some of today wandering in the forest here so that [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and his brother start to get familiar with it (remember that his parents only bought this farm in May). However, with the rain it was decided to do a bit more work to finish up the new car port instead. While the boys did that I made progress on my book and took a nap.

Since the 25th is just an ordinary day in Sweden, dinner for the eight of us tonight didn't have quite so many choices as yesterday. I took "only" the roast moose, moose balls, baked omlette with cheese, salad, potato, and left over mixed root vegetables dish from yesterday, and ignored the saussage, normal meat balls, pork dish, the fish and potato dish, the other fish and veg salad, or any of the five or six store bought bread options.

It is always mind boggling to me how his mother manages to produce dinners like this--I never see her doing the food prep, other than the last minute putting it all out. It is nearly enough to make one believe in magic.

Not that I would want to eat like this most of the time. I am content with my one-dish meals or soups, and with grazing all day, one item at a time and wait an hour before the next thing. My poor tummy doesn't like getting it all in one go like today. Especially when my mouth wins the debate and I take seconds because it was tasty.

Edited to add: and then she fed us blueberry cake with whipped cream and some other sweet fluffy sauce thing (I skipped the latter). My poor tummy is so full, but my mouth thinks longingly of thirds on desert...
kareina: (house)
Spring is well along here in the north--the only places where snow remains on the ground now are shady areas and places which had had snow piled up deeper than normal (sliding off of the roof, or shoveled off the driveway) and grass and a few other early-waking plants are beginning to turn green here and there. These changes are, of course, caused by the return of the sun and while it isn't up anywhere near as long as it will be at mid-summer sunset today was officially at 21:12, which meant that when I looked out the window at 22:30 it was to see a nearly full moon filling a deep blue sky to the south. Therefore, of course, I went out for a quick walk--the sky to the north west was still a much paler blue, too bright for stars, so only one particularly bright planet glimmered in the sky. I love living in the north, and I love moonlight walks, but this may be the last one I get before autumn--soon it will be too bright all night for the moonlight to change anything.
kareina: (me)
Just like every other holiday in Sweden, Midsummer is celebrated on Midsummer Eve, not the day itself. However, in our case the day started the day before that. On Thursday one of our (exchange student) friends from choir, came over for dinner for one last visit before he returns to Germany next week, and then we took him with us to the park in town where the Luleå Hembygdsgille (folk music and dance group) runs a Midsummer celebration, where we helped to wrap leaf covered branches around the midsummer pole thingie for the next day (I try not to think of it as a cross, so as not to be uncomfortable participating in someone else's religious ceremony).

Friday we got up early enough to unload the huge lathe he dad is lending us from the giant trailer (which we hauled here with the tractor on Wednesday, after having loaded it onto the tractor on Tuesday--remind me to post photos of the loading at some point if you are interested in seeing it). It now sits in the car port, awaiting our creating a concrete platform in the shed with a window for it to live upon.

Then we went to the Gillestuget (the little old school building in Gammelstad where the Hembygdsgille does folk dancing, meetings, etc.), and [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar loaded up a trailer of stuff to take to the park in town to set up the sound system for the stage there, and I practiced the day's dance program with the others. ([livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar used to do the dance performances on Midsummer too, but in recent years (and for as long as I have lived here), he runs the sound instead, saying it is a nice change from the dancing, and he thinks it is fun, too.)

After the trailer was loaded and the dancers were happy that we all know what we are doing, everyone sat down to a lunch of traditional Swedish food. As is usual when that is what is being served, there was not much on offer that I eat, since I don't care for fish and don't eat meat (other than the occasional wild game, which doesn't cause the same issues with my digestion as store-bought meat does), so all I took was a couple of tiny boiled potatoes, a couple of thin slices of cheese, a little bit of salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber), and half a hard boiled egg. The tiny amount of food on my plate got comments from the others at our table, since they each took two to three times as many different items as I had taken. However, I rarely eat much at one sitting, since I prefer to spread my food intake more evenly across the day time hours, and I had food in by back pack for later, so it didn't worry me to have only a little. I did, of course, take plenty of strawberries for desert, with cream, when that was put out.

After lunch [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar departed with the trailer for town to set things up there, and our group, in our folk costume finery, gathered at the entrance to the open air museum at Hängnan (not far from the Gillestuget) and paraded in to the stage, musicians playing. We dancers left our baskets and bags on the stage behind the musicians and then we went out into the dense crowds (literally thousands of people gather in this park for Midsummer; some years it has exceeded 10,000) to do the traditional raising of the leaf and flower covered pole, which includes carrying it in a loop around the area and then standing it up in a hole in the ground, followed by dancing around it.

I am told that everyone in Sweden who is old enough to dance at all has participated in these dances--all families make certain that their kids get a chance to do the dances around the midsummer pole, whether at a large celebration like this one, or at a private one at someone's summer cottage, and everyone knows the songs well enough to sing along. At our celebration the musicians play the traditional songs and a group of us join them on stage to sing the words into microphones, while the rest of us lead the dances around the pole (I, of course, was with the dancers). The dances all fall into the category of "mimed dances", which is to say there are hand motions. For one we play the part of bunnies, horses, and elephants, and use our hands to show the relative size of each creatures ears, tails (and trunk!), for another we mime playing musical instruments, and a third involves leaning one way and another ("hit" and "dit"). The sequence of dances takes a good 10 to 20 minutes all told, and is fun, and the part of the crowd closest to the pole, which contains lots and lots of children, and a few adults, all dance with us, and everyone sings.

Then we moved over to the stage for a folk dance performance, and as soon as that was done we went to town and did it all again at the park there, for the much more reasonably sized crowd there (probably still more than 1000 people, but the people density was better).

For the second performance, since there was more room to move in town, we added in a promenade dance involving as many people from the audience as we could persuade to join us, doing all of the traditional patterns of couples splitting up, coming back together, reversing the line to walk under the arch of joined hands of the couples following, splitting the line into two by alternating couples going either left or right around the dance area, and then joining back together in groups of four, and again in groups of eight (I have done this with the dance group in Australia, and at the end, when everyone is lined up in groups of eight across the room, they followed it with a pattern dance that needs dancers to be in groups of eight--a great way to start an evening of dance).

However, on this occasion, the groups of eight was the last set in the figure, and marked the end of the dancing for the day. Therefore, we all helped [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar load all of the sound equipment and other items back into the trailer, and he and I took it back to the Gillestuget to unload. Then we returned to our house, where his parents (who had joined us at the park in town for the performance) joined us for coffee and to see what all we have accomplished in the way of home improvements since their last visit.

Then we were both tired, and [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar wasn't feeling so good, so we went to bed early (21:30!), which meant that I was awake and doing my morning situps at 04:30 today. This is good, because it gives me plenty of time to accomplish a few things before I fly to Copenhagen later this morning, where I will participate as one of the panelists in the session "New concepts of mobility to foster career development and gender balance in Europe" at the Euroscience Open Forum. This session is sponsored by the Marie Curie Fellowship Association. They asked me to participate in it since I had done so much work for the booklet of role models for mobility of women scientists that we put together a coupld of years back.

I never really liked the idea of traveling to a city at midsummer, when I could be home in my nearly country setting working on the earth cellar, but they managed to talk me into participating anyway, since they cover the travel costs to get there. So I fly down today, and will arrive around 15:00. My cousins, who live in Denmark, will pick me up at the airport, we will drop my stuff at their place and relax a bit, then I will head to the conference venue for a meeting with the other panelists at 17:00, then back to my cousin's house to hang out with them for the evening. Tomorrow morning we have the conference session, and then in the evening I fly home again. I am looking forward to seeing what [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar does with the tractor while I am gone, now that we finally have it here.
kareina: (me)
My sister, A, just sent me a facebook introduction to some friends of hers who have moved to Sweden from the US, and suggested that we chat about being an American in Sweden. I promptly thought of lots of things I wanted to say, and then realized that it wouldn’t be polite to do an info dump into a FB chat window, so I thought I would type it all here and just give them a link instead. (L & H, if you happen to have an LJ account leave me a comment here; otherwise I will see you over on FB.)

This is all written with the assumption that you actually want to learn Swedish. If you happen to be one of those people with no interest in learning another language you have come to the right place—nearly everyone in Sweden between 15 and 50 (an many more older and younger than that) is fluent in English, so you can get by without ever learning more than “tack”, “hejdå”, and “precis” and you needn’t bother reading further.

My sister tells me that you are an avid reader; I am too, and I think this was the thing that helped me the most when I moved to Sweden. When I arrived I decided that I wasn’t going to read fiction in English, only in Sweden, and I got my hands on Swedish translations of books I had read many times before in English. By reading books I knew and loved I was free to just read without having to bother with a dictionary to look words up, since I knew what the words had to mean before I read them. (Ok, sometimes I had to look things up, but it was like once or twice a chapter rather than several times a paragraph like it was when reading things in the Swedish textbook.) After reading a few old favourite books I started adding Swedish children’s books into the mix, and found that my vocabulary was already up for the job.

My written vocabulary. It actually took me several years before I could listen to a conversation in Swedish and follow most of it. Why? Because all of the words I knew and understood to look at turn out to have a drastically different pronunciation than I expected from the letters in them. What I am doing now, and what I wish I had started doing years ago is to listen to audio books at the same time as I read the text. Why didn’t I start this sooner? Because I have never cared for audio books—I grew up with a hearing problem, and depend on reading lips to help supplement the sounds I hear when people speak, and even then I don’t always catch what is said. I don’t listen to audio books in English if there is any way to avoid it (besides, human speech is so slow! I could read three English books in the time it would take to listen to one being read out loud). However, I find that I am enjoying listening and reading the text at the same time, and it has made a huge difference in my own ability to pronounce things in Swedish, and in my ability to recognize words when I hear them in conversation.

The other thing I wish I had known from the beginning is the difference between the “svensk för nybörjar” class offered at the local university, which is aimed at exchange students, and the “svensk för invandringar” class offered by the government. I took the former soon after I arrived, because it was easy to find out when and where it met and how to sign up for it. I had problems finding info for the sfi course, so didn’t bother. Until, after three years of living here, when I finally had enough Swedish to carry on a reasonable conversation one-on-one, but still had major problems following rapid Swedish conversations between a bunch of native speakers, when I asked a friend who has been living here 15 years how long it had taken him to get to the point where he could follow conversations in Swedish. “Six months.” I expressed my shock and disbelief, and he replied that the sfi course meets four hours a day, so of course one gets there quickly. My Swedish for beginners course had met only 2 hours a week, and I only took the first year before I was traveling too much for work to be able to continue. Therefore I tried again and this time found out how to enrol in sfi, and managed to do well enough on the entrance exam (which, of course, is primarily reading/writing, which is my strength) to get placed in the highest level class. That was in February, and since then I have made huge progress on my ability to speak and understand spoken Swedish (and I started that whole audio book while reading thing). I have just left day one of the national exam to be done with the Swedish for immigrants course, and think I did fine on it (was done with the reading part in 30 minutes of the 80 allotted, and only had to guess on some of the questions for the hearing part).

My other advice is to sing songs in Swedish! Join a choir or other singing group, or just click on my "learn Swedish one song at a time" button in the list of tags on the right side of this page and you can learn the songs I have worked on in the past several years (or at least the ones I took the time to post here).

I hope you like living in Sweden as much as I have; it is a delightful place to live.
kareina: (mask)
It has been three years and four months since I moved to Sweden. Today was the first power outage I have seen since arriveing, I am totally ok with this level of reliability.

The power went shortly before we walked out the door to go to choir and was not only back on when we got home 2.5 hours later but the microwave clock was claiming that it was 01:50 at that point, so it couldn't have been out much more than thirty minutes.
kareina: (me)
As I type this it is New Year's Eve—there are occasional sounds from outside of people's fireworks being shot off, and I am contentedly curled up at home with my sweetie, who is at the next computer, within easy reach.

One year ago today I was visiting a friend in Geneva, on my way to Sweden from Italy. One year ago tomorrow I landed in Stockholm, took a train to Tierp to the home of some friends I had first met in Alaska the winter before, and visited with them while [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar drove south to meet me there for the start of our first "date"—a 10 day road-trip which included a trip to Gotland to introduce him to my Queen, visits to the homes of three out of four of his siblings (and the chance to meet his parents, too, when they also visited one on them whilst we were there), attendance at a play put on in southern Sweden by one of his friends who lives up here in the north, and attendance at the SCA 12th night event, where the above mentioned Queen stepped down and became a countess. Then we did the long drive north to Luleå, and I moved in with him. At that point I had only one suitcase full of stuff with me, and the rest was in storage with a friend in Scotland.

The rest of January )

February )

March ).

Slight pause in typing, while we went to enjoy watching fireworks out our windows. The widow at the front of the apartment gives a good view of the big display being put on at the University, while the window at the back of the apartment gives a nice view of the (much further away) fireworks display happening somewhere over near the city center.

April )

May )

June )

July )

August )

September )

October )

November )

December )

One year after moving to Sweden for love, and I am still head over heels in love. This is the most togetherness relationship I have ever had—we work together on so many projects, we enjoy so many of the same activities. We "click" in ways that make I, who have always been lucky in love and always led a charmed life, go "wow, this is wonderful". I have a good job, a happy relationship, enjoy good health, and have an active social life in addition to having a loving partner. Life is truly wonderful.

I wish all of my friends a Happy New Year, and hope that 2012 brings you all much joy.
kareina: (me)
[livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar 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 [livejournal.com profile] 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 ([livejournal.com profile] 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 [livejournal.com profile] 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 [livejournal.com profile] 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 [livejournal.com profile] 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 [livejournal.com profile] 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 [livejournal.com profile] 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.
kareina: (me)
mat = food
matt = weak/feeble
mätt = full/satisfied
mät = measurement

Look at that list of words. Notice how similar they are? The difference in sound between "mat" and "matt" is naught more than the length of time the vowel is pronounced. The difference between "mat" and "mät" is only a subtle change in the type of "a" sound made. In English there are regional accents which have FAR greater differences in how a vowel is pronounced and/or how much time it takes to say a vowel WITHOUT changing the word. The exact same word said by someone from New York as compared to the Southern US states as compared to the Midwestern US states as compared to England as compared to Scotland, etc. sounds Far, far more distinctly different than the above list of Swedish words. Yet, in Sweden, those subtle differences change the meaning to something else entirely. I grew up speaking a language with a deeply rooted understanding that there is a HUGE room for variation in vowels--one can make them longer or shorter or change the way in which they are pronounced and the word is still the same.

Not here. Here when I try to say a word that I know the odds are good that I will miss pronounce it enough to come up with another word I don't yet know. When they tell me I have said another word I ask them to repeat both words, and I CANNOT tell them apart. At all. To my ear they are the same. This has come up many times, with many different words. How am I going to learn to communicate in the spoken language if I can't tell one word from another? Reading. Reading is my friend. I can see the difference between the above words easily...

PS: Friday's progress report: worked on the discussion/conclusion section of the paper! We also sorted out some of the boxes which have been "temporarily" in the living room waiting for him to have a chance to go through them. Cleared out enough of them that it is once again possible to set up the keyboard. How much nicer yoga is while he is playing music for me--I spent about twice as long doing yoga last night than I had the last few.
kareina: (Default)
Even though I *know* that the very best way to learn a language is to try to speak it, all the time, I don't actually manage with that goal very often. In my normal life it is just too easy to use English. Most of our friends are not only fluent in English, but enjoy speaking it, so we do. I do hear Swedish conversations semi regularly, but only when they are talking amongst themselves--when people want to include me in the conversations they switch to English. The one place wherein I actually need Swedish is when we head to [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's parent's house--his Dad speaks less English than I do Swedish.

I really enjoy our visits out there. They live in a beautiful house on a large chunk of land, so there is no noise from neighbours. Their view is of a channel of ocean, with a mostly forested bit of land on the far side. A nice, relaxing setting, and the company is good. His family is rather close--he has three brothers and a sister, and even though three of them settled in the south of Sweden they maintain very regular contact, usually phone calls, and in person visits several times a year. This weekend one of the brothers, his wife, and their daughter was up visiting, so we went out, as did the other brother and his wife who live in the north. This meant we had 8 adults and one child in the house, which meant much laughter and conversation. While I can't follow most of the Swedish conversation, yet, I still rather enjoy listening to it, it is clear that they are a happy group, and it is good entertainment as I sit and stitch. Sometimes they translate for me, but usually I am happy to just listen. This morning I woke up from a dream wherein I realized that the steady hum of background conversation in the dream that I hadn't been understanding was people speaking in Swedish. I guess that is what happens when one spends a couple of days listening to it.

I now have a stack of books I have borrowed from the visiting brother's wife--the latter books in the Anne of Green Gables series, which will be interesting to read in Swedish, and a couple of books written about the same time period in Swedish which she tells me that if I like those I will probably liked these too. But I will save reading them till after I have read the ones wherein I already know the story.

I did pick up a copy of the first Pippi Longstocking book this weekend and read it--there were very few words in there I didn't know, and I can't blame my understanding of the story on remembering the English version--I read that book only once, in the 6th grade, borrowed from the school library, and had long since forgotten the details. My reading is really very much better than my ability to understand the spoken language. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's dad tried to test my ability to understand what I head by reading random sentences to me from the book, but because I had already read those pages it was easy--I could just compare the sounds to my memory of the printed page... I wonder if people with no hearing problem lag as far behind in learning to understand the sound of a new language as compared to reading as I do.

Later today we have our normal Sunday folk music session, followed by the folk dance session. Always much fun, and another good chance to practice hearing Swedish.
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.
kareina: (Default)
The plan for the trip home: depart site by 05:00 at the latest, in hopes of arriving home by midnight.

The reality of the trip home: departed site at 04:55, arrived home at 23:59; had everything unloaded at two different locations, the two rental cars filed with petrol or diesel (one of each) and returned by 01:20. There were seven us for the drive home, five of whom did the full trip, the others were dropped off in cities 6 and 3 hours south of here. The trip went so smoothly I would cheerfully travel with these folk on future road trips. Yes, it is a very long drive, but it was still a nice trip!

Double Wars was a nice, relaxing, event for me. But then, I usually just relax at SCA wars--they tend to happen when it is hot, so I spend my days in the shade waiting for sunset, and then enjoy evening socializing. However, hot days in southern Sweden, while still hot, are no where near as brutal as hot days in California or Australia, or Arizona. We only had a couple of days that got hot enough to really keep me hiding in the shade, and on both of them the heat broke around 17:00, giving us nice, comfortable evenings to enjoy for hours more. My, but the sun sets early that far south! It got nearly dark around midnight, but lightened back up again after 02:00...

The first couple of days it was cool and comfortable (read: was cold enough to wear two wool tunics, wool socks under my boots, nålbinded fingerless gloves, and a wool hat over my underdress) and it rained. I am totally ok with rain on the first couple of days on a long event, so long as I get to pack a dry pavilion at the end of it, and I did. However, the nice cool start to the day did make the hot days seem even hotter.

Projects accomplished or in progress at the event:

*under dress: white linen, 12th Century style with really long sleeves that runch up on the forearms. I completed it on the drive and wore it several days at the event. I really, really love the fact that it is totally self-supporting. The body rectangle is exactly the same size as my ribs just below my breasts, so that when I wear it they are supported and cannot fall down, as there is no where for them to go. So comfortable! I made this one long enough to puddle on the ground, but since the event started out damp I decided on a way to shorten it at need. I took a heavy thread and ran it in a quick basting stitch around the skirt at hip level, in three different lines, spaced about 7 mm apart. I then drew the threads in and tied them shut around my waist. This was very effective to shorten the skirts, but the strings are not as comfortable as I would like. The plan is to replace them with loops sewn onto the seams at that height, and then thread in a nice soft, woven band that can be used to cinch that part to my waist when I want to, or removed when I want the skirt at full length. No, I have no idea if this was ever done in period, but it is way easier than making two dresses, one of each length!

*take in old underdress: blue linen, made just before I left the West for Lochac back in 2003--at the time I made it loose for maximum air flow in hot weather, and I have lost weight since then. I so loved the way the above dress feels to wear I took off the sleeves and took them in to fit (a necessary step to getting the self supporting effect--the underarm square gusset needs to actually sit in the armpit, not down by the waist!) and got [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive's help pinning them into place on the body such that this one is also self supporting. It took an entire day to do this and sew the sleeves back on, but then I wore the dress several days because it was so comfortable this way.

*take in laurel tunic: black linen with embroidered knot-work laurel wreath, made shortly after I moved to Tasmania. This one was tighter in the body than the above mentioned blue underdress, but I had made the sleeves, which are short, very loose, and the underarm square gussets were larger than they needed to be. As a result the under arm gussets reached fully to the top of the waist gores! This made for a loose, brezzy tunic, but it wasn't that flattering. So I took off the sleeves, cut off a wide enough strip from each of them that I was able to cut one of them in half to make two new underarm gussets the correct size (and save the old ones for some future project like a belt pouch or something). Again, it took all day to do the modifications, but the result is comfortable and flattering. I did make it deliberately a little looser than the underdresses, so it is not self-supporting on its own (over a loose underdress), but I am still happy with the changes(I don't think it would have been a good idea to make an over tunic as fitted as the underdresses).

*progress on the bliaut in progress: blueish black/brown wool in a wavy twill weave. This is one I started before I left Italy, with fabric purchased in Austria. The fabric frays enough that I am hemming each piece and will then stitch them together once they are hemmed (so when it is finally assembled all of the seams, including the bottom hem, will already be finished). I worked on this in between the other projects. I am doing my usual trick of using lots of narrow triangles for the skirt gores, which means that I could fit two of them into my belt pouch to take with me, and stitch whenever the mood struck. I managed to hem a bunch of them, and even stitched one set of three gores together to see how they would look. But it will be ages before this project is done. However, that is a good thing, since my main motivation for stitching is that I want something to do with my hands at the moment!

*bells: good quality large bells, that had been purchased from a music store--they came mounted on a stick and have a really good sound. But we were looking for something we could put on my ankle so that I can play music while I keep stitching. Therefore we took the bells off of the stick. It turns out that they were attached by rivets to a black strip of plastic that looks at first glance like leather. Removing the staples that held the plastic to the stick gives one long strip of 13 bells and two short strips of 6 bells each. So far I have attached the long strip to some scrap heavy linen fabric--one strip in back of the plastic, and small strips in between each bell and attached to the backing linen. The next step will be to attach strings to the corners to tie them on to an ankle, or hips, or whatever, and then cover the linen with some blue velvet I have. I worked on this during the instrumental jam session on the event, and managed to shake the bells in time with the music while stitching, save for when it was time to start a new thread.

*embroidery: indigo and white wool on linen in bayeux stitch which will go on the above mentioned black/brown linen. I brought this along to the event, but didn't take it out till the drive home, where I manged to colour in another couple of inches of the pattern. Will need to work on this more often if I want it done when the dress is ready to assemble.

In addition to my projects, in between sessions of music and archery [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive managed to finish the embroidered dragon (well, appliquéd, really) for his musical instrument bag we made some time back, and got it attached. It looks great! Will look really good with the matching tunic that is still in progress, but we can't find the spool of linen thread with which we were stitching it (it was there one day, gone the next).

We made it to a number of dance sessions, and had much fun with them. We met many delightful people (and so far I have eight new FB friends from the event) and got better acquainted with ones we had met previously. Saw many good furniture ideas and did a couple of pavilion tours. It was so nice to have my pavilion again! Two years of not camping it in was really quite long enough. We need camp furniture! A bed would be nice. More wooden boxes that serve as benches on site and ways to transport stuff to and from the event. The goal is to store everything in boxes so that there is no "packing" before or after an event, just load up the boxes and go. Sadly, his car is only large enough to hold the three boxes we already have + the pavilion, so some other arrangements will be needed once we reach this goal.

The trip down was also very pleasant--a bit more sleeping than the trip home, because we got on the road at 11:40 on Friday and arrived on site around 07:00 on Saturday. I was amused to note that when it was my turn to drive on the trip down I was a bit nervous, since I haven't really done any driving to speak of in so long, but on the return trip I wasn't nervous at all, despite winding up with the shift that went through Stockholm (the only traffic of the trip) around noon on a Sunday afternoon.

On the drive down I did my yoga for the day in short (five minute) sessions on several different stops, but on the return trip, while I did stretch a bit when we stopped, I didn't do so in as focused of a manner, but instead did my yoga after we finished returning the cars. Damn, it feels GOOD to stretch every day, especially after such a long road trip! I also managed to remember to do my situps every morning (something I used to forget at camping events before Mari challenged everyone to do their abs daily), even on the day I woke at 03:45 so as to be done with them and ready to depart at 05:00. I am so glad I do them--I remember a time when my back hurt at events from standing around talking to people while having bad posture. Those days are long past! Between the strengthening of the situps, crunches, leg lifts, etc that I do every morning and the yoga/stretching I do every evening my back rarely hurts, and then only if I do something really stupid, and as soon as I stop and stretch it feels better.

I am enjoying being part of an active shire. Frostheim is a really good group of people. We are hosting the Nordmark Coronet tourney up here this summer (18 days after I have to depart for Australia to apply for my visa application, so I don't expect to be back for it, but one can hope), so to encourage folk to come up for the event we brought down some large bbq grills and we cooked up a couple of wild boars which we fed to everyone who wandered past, and we took a huge platter of it to court to present to the Crown, who then bade us to serve it to the populace. Since we had the fire going all day we also mixed up a flour/water/salt dough and cooked some bread on sticks. Yum! When the Prince and Princess called forth SvartulvR (click on his name on this page, since there isn't a way to link to it directly) to present him with a thank you token for being one of the people who, to their mind, made the event more fun (by roasting the boars), he then called out "Frostheim" and was answered with the same call from all of us present.

Interesting observation of the event: I counted one dozen laurels present for the laurel ceremony, and 15 knights for the knighting. I am so used to places where the laurels outnumber the knights, and the pelicans way outnumber the laurels that it was a surprise to see that there were more knights. I should remember to check the OP to see what the proportion of knights to laurels to pels is in the kingdom--was this only an artifact of the event being a War? (which would surprise me, as there was a VERY full arts and sciences calender at this event).

The war itself is fought over the question of which side one should butter the local flat bread--the flat side, or the holey side. I still haven't tried that bread (since I eat home-baked breads instead of store bought bread), but to my mind the answer should be "both--that way one gets more butter!". They did a very fun presentation in court, showing the history of how it came to be that there was a war on this subject, and everyone got up and choose their side. Near as I can tell, the split is roughly 50-50 (indeed the King favours one side, and his queen the other, ditto for the Prince and Princess). After sides were declared the King stepped into the space between the sides and declared that there remained only one thing left to do before the war could be fought, and he summoned his Knights to his side and they brought forth a new candidate, who was sent off on vigil to contemplate becoming a knight the next day. I rather enjoyed the way they did that. I am told that doing a vigil is standard operating procedure here in Drachenwald. I never had one, but went straight from the surprise offer to swearing fealty as a Laurel. Hearing the language in which they send the candidate off to think about the offer, it actually sounds like a good idea. I gather that people nearly always accept after their vigil, but it is quite possibly a good idea to make them think long and hard about it first, anyway.

The war was held off site, at a local "castle" (not like a traditional castle with all stone walls and embattlments etc, but still a period building, built with lots of stone), where they had a Medieval market open to the public. some of the SCA people were selling stuff, and some of the merchants (I gather) do Medieval markets all the time and are not (necessarily) SCA folk. We picked up a nice straw hat and some lovely wool for over tunics in a blue/grey herringbone twill. The fabric merchant had already sold out of the really, really nice very, very light weight white wool that so many ladies I spoke to bought for making veils, and which [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive wants to make himself a hood. However, she is happy to do business mail order, and tells me that she has some of that same fabric in black at home, which I think would make a very good bliaut. However, it will likely be a while before I buy it, since that stuff is expensive, so I should wait till I have an income (and finish some of the projects in progress). We also bought a nice ceramic water pitcher from the castle gift shop, because we failed to bring one with us to the event, and they are nice to have.

This morning we didn't get to sleep in, but instead got up early so we could head out to Gamelstead and practice for our dance performance this afternoon. I gather that today is a National day for Sweden, and there was a very full program of folk dances and music and other entertainments out there. We did our rehearsal, then joined the procession from the church to the stage, where we had time for a picnic lunch before our performance (which was fun, and went well). I borrowed a costume from one of our fellow dancers, and was told that it looks good on me. I would like to make one of my own that fits me a bit better. While it was easy to overlap the bodice to fit, that puts the seams in the wrong place (not that the audience noticed, but I do!). We then relaxed and visited with friends for a bit longer till his performance with the other folk musicians, followed by more visiting with people, a much needed trip to the grocery store, and an evening spent doing a little unpacking, a little baking (yum, baking powder biscuits!), and a fair bit of reading of LJ and email. It will take ages before I catch up, though!

My plan for tomorrow includes the rest of the unpacking, work on my visa application, work on my paper, and go for a trike ride.
kareina: (me)
This has been yet another busy week full of progress on projects in addition to the normal round of social activities.

We have nearly finished a new wooden ice chest to take with us to Double Wars (we leave on Friday)--my old wooden ice chest is in quite bad shape from years of heavy use and several intercontinental shipping experiences, so it is time to replace it.

I finished nålbinding my sun hat, felted it, and have sewn it to a frame to dry in the shape I wish it to be. Sadly, I forgot to get photos of "before"--it was huge, floppy, and the brim was very, very ruffled--it covered my entire head with folds hanging loosely to my shoulders. After felting the brim was still ruffled, and was floppier than I want it to be, so I dipped it in water containing cornstarch, ran it through the centrifuge in the laundry room, and sewed it to the frame, where it sits yet. The sewing process got the brim to flatten out and become large--it now looks very much like the straw hat I had to leave behind when I left Italy because I didn't have space to bring it on the plane, and couldn't pack it safely into boxes to be shipped. Hopefully it will still look like that when I take it off the frame.

I have managed to accomplish some armour repair that needed doing, and even cleaned off some sword marks from the front of my shield. I had to, really. One of the black sword marks just happened to be positioned over the closed eye of the sleeping cat, exactly perpendicular to and centered upon the eye, so that it looked like the cat had and X instead of an eye--just like a cartoon dead creature. Very funny looking, but so not acceptable! (again, I didn't think to take a photo--somehow I never do. Then again, do I really want photographic evidence of a dead cat on my shield?).

We got the last of the fitting done for my 12th Century underdress done--there is just a bit of seam finishing left to do on that one. I did this one with the really, really long sleeves that runch up on the forearms. The upper arm is only just exactly wide enough to put my arm in it, which puts the square underarm gusset exactly in my underarm, giving me a good fit *and* full range of motion. We got the body to be exactly the same diameter as my ribs just under my breasts, which means that the gown is fully supporting--I can jump while wearing it and my breasts don't go anywhere. Yay to not needing to wear a bra! When I take in my bliaut so that it, too, fits properly across the shoulders and ribs this outfit is going to be so comfortable. Granted, it will then be very important to neither loose or gain weight in such a way as my diameter over ribs or upper arms changes, but since I am quite happy with my current shape this should be easy enough to manage (not losing any mass shouldn't be an issue--there isn't a whole lot available to loose over my ribs, anyway).

On Thursday we went to a sewing workshop with the local Folk Music and Dance group. The project of the evening was a traditional man's shirt, so that [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive and the other musicians will have appropriate costume for upcoming performances. I was very delighted to see that fashions in Northern Sweden never really changed. While the shirt cuffs are late period in design, with the full sleeve gathered to a buttoned cuff, the torso and sleeves are a straight rectangles, with a square underarm gusset--the same style they have been using for many centuries! We did take photos of some of the completed shirts that were available as models, and of the cutting pattern we settled on--used every scrap of that bit of wool--it was necessary to take one of the underarm gussets from the neck hole, because the end of the fabric wasn't cut straight at the store. I might make time to post those photos another day.

Friday we had a couple of people over for a gaming night as part of a mini gaming convention that a friend of ours runs. Sadly, our weekend was so booked we got to play in only the one game, but it was quite fun. We played While the World Ends, which was written by the guy who organized this mini con. This is the game we played at Gothcon early this month that I so enjoyed. It was fun this time, too )

This makes twice now that I have played this game, and I really enjoy it. It is much more like reading a book (or even watching a movie) than traditional role playing adventure games, but it is a shared activity with friends. Even though I think of myself as a reader not a writer, with the formal structure of the game it is easy to come up with things my character might do towards achieving his goals, and so it is easy to set the scene. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys gaming, story telling, reading, and just spending time with friends

Saturday morning was an SCA bbq and fighter practice. After practice the local knight authorized me, so if he has done whatever paperwork goes with that I am good to fight at Double War next week. In the evening we had a party for the choir. Not many of us could make it, which made it a fun night, as we were able to play games )

Sunday we didn't have fighter practice, since it was on Saturday this week, so we used the time for projects, and also skipped the folk music session in favour of project time. However, we did attend folk dancing in the evening. This is the last practice before our performance, the day after we return from double war, so we had live music and everything, and we ran through the performance set three full times, working out last minute details to make it all flow smoothly and prettily. I also picked up the costume I will borrow for the show, which will need slight modification to get the vest to fit me properly.

My goal to pedal at least 10 km a day, five days a week is progressing nicely. I didn't actually manage a ride a week ago Friday because [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive had the day off of work and I spend the time with him instead, but the week before that I did an extra 10 km, so it has all averaged out. I did manage this Friday, but only barely--I got distracted actually working on that paper from my research, and suddenly it was 16:00 and I hadn't gone yet, and it was necessary to start some soup to feed myself and the gamers. Luckily, about the time I went to the kitchen to start cooking [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive came home from work, so I left him to cook the soup, and I went for a quick lap around the lake (which is not quite 10 km, but I had done a bit more than 10 the day before), getting back just as the food was ready.

In other news, I have booked my tickets back to Australia--I will be flying on 30 June, the day my visitor visa expires here (assuming that there are no volcanically caused flight cancellations then, of course). I land in Sydney on 1 July, which is a Friday. I still need to book travel for within Australia, but the tentative plan is to head straight to Canberra to head that Monday to the Swedish Embassy there to submit my visa application to move to Sweden to live permanently with [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive (which paperwork *must* be submitted in one's home country--one may not apply for such a visa from within Sweden). Once the paperwork is filed with the Embassy I plan to visit Melbourne to see my mother and step-sister and her family (mom will be visiting Australia for around a month, so that timing is nice). Then I will go to Tassie to await the visa approval. While there I plan to meet with my PhD advisor and finish up paper(s) for publication. I have no idea yet when I shall be able to return to Sweden--the paperwork processing on their end could take a couple of weeks, or many months. I will be renting a room from [livejournal.com profile] mushroom_maiden while her usual housemate is in Iceland. With luck the timing will work out for me to head back to Sweden before the housemate returns from Iceland.
kareina: (me)
Since moving to Sweden in January I have been trying to learn Swedish. I am taking classes (we are up to chapter 14 in the text book), reading children's books, learning songs, and sometimes listening to conversations in Swedish and trying to catch words I know. Sometimes [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive and I speak a little Swedish at home, but rarely more than a minute or two, before we decide that my vocabulary is too limited to actually communicate and we switch to English.

Last night, however, we actually had a conversation in Swedish! We spoke for more than 30 minutes, discussing the many things that we need to accomplish before departing for Double War on the 27th, I told him the story behind a song that happened to be playing on the stereo, I described the steps to an SCA dance, and several other topics before we picked up the children's book I have been reading aloud to him. This is one of those books that was written in the 1920's and starts out with very easy reading--only one sentence on the first page, and then gradually progresses to more and more text. We are up to the section where there are several paragraphs per page, and it takes more than one page for a section. I am finding it ever so much easier to read and understand these days, and my pronunciation is much better than it has been (though I still have problems with ö, y, ä, sk, sj, and a few of the other odd things that happen when s is involved). I am also about 3/4 of the way through reading the Swedish version of Anne of Green Gables, and I am finding that to be much easier going, too. In this case I am not stopping to translate the words I don't know, but as simply reading the text as is, and using my memory of the English book combined with the words I do know to keep track of the story plot and the overall meaning.

Yesterday was also a good day on several other counts:

Had a nice time visiting with SCA folk at fighter practice in the morning (though I didn't armour up, having stayed up till 03:00 on Saturday night working on projects I wasn't able to wake up early enough to get to practice on time to fight, so we didn't even bring armour, but just went to discuss details on the road trip to Double War).

At the afternoon folk music session I managed to get the underdress in progress finally assembled--all pieces are now attached to one another, and most seams have been finished--I just need to finish the side seams and the dress will, at long last, be done.

The evening Folk dance session went well-- I now know all of the dances that we will be performing the Monday after we return from Double War, and am starting to get down the details that transform them from "sort of right" to "pretty".

This morning has been spent sending emails. I learned on Friday that I will need to return to Australia to apply for a permanent resident visa, so I am starting to work out details of when and how to accomplish that. My deadline to leave is 30 June, which, sadly, is before the local Medieval Days. I had been looking forward to helping out with that event and running dancing there, but now I can't. However, I will hope that it is possible to get my visa application processed on time to return here before the beginning class in Swedish Folk Dancing that I had agreed to teach (it starts in August). Please keep your fingers crossed for that one.
kareina: (me)
This week's homework assignment for Swedish class was to write half a page on our hobby or hobbies. Needless to say, I enjoyed this assignment. For your amusement, here is is a description of the SCA written in very basic Swedish )
kareina: (me)
What have I been up to for the past 8 days? Some highlights:

sewing )

Met my exercise goal )

Getting into armour )

Swedish lessons )

planning summer holidays )

We have three weeks of his vacation time to enjoy before we head south for the above mentioned Medieval Week in Gotland. I am hoping for some sightseeing adventures in the mountains of Sweden and Norway, but details have not yet been determined. Should anyone wish to visit and do some mountain adventures with us, the period between 18 July and 5 August is the time available on this end.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
This week my Swedish class is up to the chapter in the text book which focuses on restaurants and menus. Therefore our teacher assigned us the homework to write up a menu, in Swedish, including at least three each of appetizers, main dishes, deserts, plus five beverages. and descriptions for each item. She suggested even adding prices, but I am so not a restaurant person, so I did my own thing and wrote up some typical foods I eat. Note that I normally eat fruit salad that is only fruit--the almonds and cream are added for special occasion deserts only.

typical Kareina Food )

I think the hardest part was coming up with five beverages I would drink; I normally just drink water. But I do, sometimes, drink herbal teas, when I happen to be visiting someone who drinks tea or coffee, or if I am hosting such a person--I rarely remember to bother making any otherwise. I don't normally go for bubbly water, but that is the norm here, so when I am visiting others it is easier to just drink it with the gas rather than asking for special treatment. I do like fresh orange juice, but only drink it once every few years...
kareina: (me)
On Friday we went sightseeing because we could. [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive was on call last weekend, so this weekend they gave him Friday off. We drove to Storforsen, the largest rapids in all of Europe. The ice on the river is only just starting to break up, so the rapids aren't all that rapid, yet, but one can still tell there is an awful lot of water flowing in that river. Then we drove past Hemmingsmark, where he grew up, on our way to his parent's house in Piteå. We spent the evening visiting with his mother (his dad is out of town visiting grandkids in southern Sweden) and stayed the night there. She had to work on Saturday, so we simply enjoyed a morning of peace and quiet. His parent's house is much quieter than ours, not only because it is out in the country, but also because it doesn't have the subtle noises from the computer server in the closet here. I rather enjoyed having the time away from my computer, too.

Saturday afternoon we returned home and that evening we finally tackled the pile of his boxes that we'd taken out of the server closet before my things arrived. It took all evening but we now have a huge pile of empty boxes, several boxes of potentially useful computer parts that he says he will never use and so we will pass them on to someone else, and only a few boxes of useful computer parts that he thinks we should actually keep. I had the easy job for this project--he handed me stuff and told me into which pile to put it, he actually had to make the decisions about what to keep, what to get rid of to a new owner, and what to toss (there was surprisingly little in that category).

Today was a busy one, even by Sunday standards. We went to fighter practice this morning, and I got into armour for the first time in over a year! This is the 163rd time I have ever been in armour in just over 19 years of "fighting". This means I average around 9 times a year. However, most of those times was back when I still lived in Summits, and I left there in 1994, so that average is very misleading.

This was one of the more delightful times in armour. Not because I did well, but because I had a consort to fuss over me. The first thing we did when we got there was to sew the padding into the knees of my new fighting trousers--that alone would have earned him praise for helping me. But then when they were ready and I went to get into my gear he followed me and assisted me with buckles and straps and just generally made himself actually useful, never mind that he has never seen this armour before today. He also helped me pack it all up afterwards, correctly anticipating where things go. After so many years of my being the consort who does such things it is an amazing joy to be the one receiving the attention and fuss!

Much to my delight, my armour actually passed inspection--19 years old, hasn't been touched in over a year, had been in someone else's possession for a big chunk of time shortly before I left Tasmania, and it was still usable! I even got a couple of compliments on the armour from a couple of the fighters (one of whom has really amazingly pretty armour himself, which made the compliment feel even nicer). My fighting will need work, of course, but it was fun to play a bit, especially as I hadn't really expected to be able to after so long of neglecting the gear.

After fighting most of us trooped over to the shop of one of our fighters and helped him move a nice looking huge kiln he just acquired onto a stand and into the appropriate position in the shop. This was the first time I'd seen his shop, and I have a bit of shop envy...

Then we had just time to head home, grab a quick shower and some food before heading to Uni to preform with the Choir at the big Swap for Change event. After we sang we then took our tokens we'd gotten by cleaning out the clothes he never wears from the closet a couple of weeks back, and went shopping with them. We found a few shirts for him, and far more things that fit me, and we gave away a bunch of tokens to another choir member. Quite a nice deal, really--for every item of clothing one donates one can walk away with an item of clothing. We even got them to throw in some hangers, which is good because we don't have enough. I wish I had had enough time when packing things in Milan to have put some hangers in my boxes instead of abandoning them all.

By the time we were done with that it was already time for the Folk Music session we normally attend on Sundays to have started, so we decided to not worry about that and just enjoy some food at a relaxed pace and show up on time for the folk dance session instead. Dance was, as always, much fun. When we got there we were asked if we might be willing to teach the beginning folk dance class next semester--the person who normally does it will be out of town, and the other people who could do it are already over committed. I really like the idea--I have a pretty good handle on the basics now, and teaching it would truly cement the skill for me, and [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive has a good decade experience at these dances and speaks Swedish, so he could do the bulk of the teaching. We have a week to decide if we are going to do it or not. I am, of course, voting "yes" on this one, but since he will have the greater responsibility during teaching, he also gets a larger vote.
kareina: (me)
This week we were actually given a homework assignment in Swedish class--write half a page on the topic of "Luleå, Min Nye Stad -- Detta är Luleå" (Luleå, my new town -- this is Luleå). I did my first draft on my own, with the help of a dictionary and google translate. Then I got [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive to read it over and suggest changes to how things are actually said in Swedish. He resisted the impulse to edit it to better sentences but instead left things in the simple, direct grammar that we have so far in class. Once we were done with that it occurred to me that since I will need to present it to my classmates tomorrow I should probably also prepare a glossary of the words that are either new to me, or words I know quite well, but haven't come up in class/textbook yet (e.g. medeltiden = Middle Ages). This turned out to be 46 words long!

Luleå, min nye Stad -- Detta är Luleå )
kareina: (me)
Oh, dear, has it been that long since I typed up an update? My lifestyle really has changed since moving to Sweden, with far, far, far fewer hours spent on the computer.

On Wednesday morning last week I finally got around to taking the measurements of that black piece of linen and working out a possible cutting diagram in CorelDraw to turn the fabric into a skirt for me. I had much fun working out a different approach than I normally take, which is even more efficient with the fabric, and was quite surprised when I looked up when I was done to see that three hours had elapsed. When [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive came home from work that evening I showed him the pattern and he agreed that it looked workable, and that he was happy to do the sewing on machine for me (since it is modern clothes I don't mind if it is machine stitched, so long as the quality doesn't suffer). However, we agreed that first we should cut out the gores for the wool tunic we made him for 12th Night, but ran out of time to finish, so he wore it with slit sides instead of having side gores. After we'd cut the gores we discussed the fact that there was enough remaining wool to make a nice heavy bag suitable for decorating and carrying things at events. This reminded him that he has been wanting a bag with pockets in it to carry some of his musical instruments.

The next thing we knew we had started that project, instead of the skirt. Can I tell you how much fun he is to work with on projects? We took some lovely blue cotton he has and made the internal pockets for the bag, fitting each one to exactly the section of flute, recorder, or other wood wind (what is the name of the one that has a wide end far from the mouth, and one blows into a reedy thing that sticks into the end closest to the mouth? He doesn't know the English word for it--does that sound like a shawm, or is it something else?) that it is meant to carry. For the pocket fitting it was very helpful to have two sets of hands to play with, and as soon as he'd done a bit of the machine sewing we then had a couple of places which are better done by hand so that we could both stitch at once.

We managed to completely machine-stitch the bag together that evening, and the next two nights we both did the hand finishing (using more of the cotton we did the lining with to cover the seams--by sewing it to the bag when we assembled it and then turning it over the seams and hand-finishing it the whole bag looks like it is hand done. We are both quite pleased with the results, and it is a good way to carry all of those instruments.

On Saturday we went to our normal gaming session, which was quite fun. Afterwards they asked him for help salvaging a damaged hard drive, so a bunch of us walked back over here, and he spent some time digging boxes out of the computer server closet looking for something he needed to try to deal with the problem. I stayed out of the way while he did that by teaching one of our friends basic nålbinding. After everyone left he and I took the stack of boxes that had been brought out of the closet and organized them into piles of computer stuff and other categories. With all of those boxes out of the closet the closet is revealed to be quite large! The plan is to move the server itself to the other side of the closet so that the closet pole is available for SCA costumes.

We have been spending some time each day since then going through those boxes to separate out the things that he wants to get rid of, get out the things he wants to keep and should be accessible, and better pack for storage things that he wants to be kept but can be stored most of the time (like christmas stuff). In and amongst the things we've rescued from the closet are some cute stuffed animals that he made many years ago. They are now perched on the shelf by our bed where most of my stuffed animals will also go when they arrive.

We now have his boxes mostly removed from the kitchen, which is good, because this has been dedicated as the staging area for when my stuff arrives. He still has the largest pile, the boxes of computer stuff, to go through in the living room. But we have invested in a good set of shelves for the server closet, so when things go back in they will be easier to access in the future. The original estimate for delivery I had from the guy in Scotland who picked up my things from [livejournal.com profile] clovis_t said 28 March. More recently he forwarded me a message from the company which will actually be delivering on this end which said 29 March. I haven't heard anything since then, but to be on the safe side I moved my computer to the kitchen this morning so that if they did arrive I would actually hear them when they came to the door.

They didn't show up (not really surprised about that), so this afternoon I sent company #2 an email, and the lady there replied promptly saying she would chase up the appropriate person and get back to me. I didn't hear from her today, but perhaps I will in the morning.

I did my Swedish exam for the second term class (chapters 4 to 7 of the text book) on Friday. This exam was not as easy as the last. Remember that last time they warned us in advance that we would need to do an essay describing our typical day, so I wrote one out, got it edited, and then memorized it, and wrote it out verbatim on the exam. This time they told us that they would not tell us in advance the essay topic (which turned out to be a discussion of our time spent in Sweden). I probably should have prepared a bunch of sample sentences on a variety of topics anyway, but lacking direction of a topic I didn't make time for it. As a result the exam was much harder to do this time. Many of the things I would have liked to have said in the essay I could not say due to my lack of vocabulary. Instead I searched the other sections of the exam for sample sentences which I could modify to fit the assignment once I ran out of things I knew how to say without help.

I accidentally missed the first class of the new term. I forgot that classes started up again promptly after the exam, and vaguely remembered that this term class is always on Tuesday and Thursday, and I didn't actually look at my calender on Monday till late in the day. Then I recalled that while most of the term class meets on Tuesday and Thursday this week it meets on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Opps. Oh well, I did e-mail my teacher to apologize for that. Last term the first class of the term was the day after the final, and only two of us actually showed up for class, so perhaps it is normal for people to miss it.

In addition to sewing and re-arranging and organizing his stuff in anticipation of the arrival of my stuff we have continued with our normal round of folk dancing and choir *and* I have two editing jobs to do this week! One due Thursday and the other on Sunday. The editing is fun, and I am learning interesting things (as one must do--one cannot edit a science paper without first understanding what they did!), but it does help the week feel even more hectic than usual. Though having two jobs is good. When I hit a particularly hard to edit sentence in one I have the option of switching to the other paper instead of checking email to take a break. This is amazingly effective in terms of keeping me productive!
Now I just need to make time to return to my own writing, too.
kareina: (Default)
I had another delightful weekend mostly spent away from the computer. I managed to read LJ over breakfast, but actually posting takes time. Saturday was gaming in the afternoon, and projects before and after. Sunday was SCA fighter practice, followed by a birthday party for the exchequer, which was quite fun. I got to meet more people in the shire, and was introduced to a Swedish birthday party tradition (normally only for kid's parties, but we are all kids at heart). I had been talking to someone (in English) and suddenly most of the people who had been sitting around stood up and started heading up stairs. I asked and apparently the Swedish announcement I hadn't noticed (since I didn't understand it) summoned us upstairs for fishing. "Excuse me?" I asked, thinking I had misheard. I hadn't. Fishing it was. We stood in line on the stairs, and when we reached the top we were faced with a sheet, to which a variety of paper fish had been attached, mostly blocking the entrance to a room. Handed a fishing rod we each cast our line over the sheet in turn, and when we felt the tug on the line drew it back to discover a bag full of candy + a box of raisins attached. I can see why this is a popular activity. I happily ate my raisins and gave my lollies to [livejournal.com profile] archinonlive, who was kind enough to give me his raisins, too (he would have enjoyed eating them himself, but since the raisins were all I wanted from the loot he was happy to share).

Sunday evening was our normal folk music session (he plays violin with the other musicians, I happily enjoy the entertainment while working on sewing projects, or, as in this week, take a short nap as well as sewing) followed by folk dancing.

Monday I should have been doing uni work, but all I really managed was three loads of laundry during the day, and folk dancing in the evening. The Sunday class is an advanced class, but Monday is the "continuing beginning" class (I skipped the beginning beginning class, since I have a partner with over 10 years experience at this style of dance, and am a quick learn). As with many dance classes we change partners after every dance. When the class begun it was almost painful to dance with some of the other students they were having such difficulty managing to coordinate the steps with the music. However, now that the class is nearly over they have all got the hang of the basics. Now it is fun to dance with all of them, and not just the ones who started the class knowing what they are doing.

Today, on the other hand, I did manage to get uni work accomplished, and even sent my erstwhile boss the draft of the paper in progress (which still needs quite a bit more information added) so that he has a chance to give me feedback and suggest directions before I write too much of it. I also gathered together the figures which have been mentioned thus far, added captions, and put them into a single pdf.

I tried stopping into the geology dept to talk to someone there about local rocks, but he wasn't in his office just then, so I e-mailed him instead to ask when would be a good time. But mostly it was an excuse to get out and enjoy some fresh air. It is so very much spring out there--deep slush and puddles everywhere. Walking requires either waterproof shoes, being very careful, or not minding getting your feet cold and wet. Have I mentioned I don't really care for spring? All of my beautiful snow melting and turning into slush, and then refreezing at night to so that it is good and slippery the next day when it starts to melt again. Ick. In an ideal world spring is when I would go on holiday somewhere else, so that when I left the world was beautiful and snowy, and when I returned the snow had been replaced by green grass. But that isn't happening this year. Oh well, I can't really complain--I am having much too much fun living here!


kareina: (Default)

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