Monday, December 26, 2016

Two seasons in one month- Christmas in the snow, and New Years at the beach

So, Zok played the role of 'Tomtefar' or Swedish Father Xmas-
There is a tradition of a family friend dressing up and coming to the apartment after the end of 'Kalle Anke' aka the very strange, truncated bits of different Disney films, mostly dubbed via a louder narrated voice talking over the original dialog, T.V. program shown each and every 'Julafton' aka Swedish Xmas, or the 24th of December.
Our friends all remember watching this each and every year of their lives, and from the vantage of our friends apartment we could see all the neighbors doing exactly as us.
Zok was smashing! The whole experience was delightful.
Our friends came in from (ahem) taking out the trash (aka dressing up Zok in a nearby apartment) and were very animated saying "Hey, Hey we think we saw Santa walking to the streets!" and we all ran out to the balcony to see Zok tramping up the road. Hilarious.

 Although we didn't have an actual white Christmas, we had so much snow over November I did not feel cheated in the least. I also got to go to not one xmasfair but two, the one here in Gamla Stan and the one in Chester.
Oh! I almost forgot, I also went to the traditional market at Skansen, and it was still snowing then (with my friend who was visiting).

I wish I had the ability (motivation?) to write out just what a long, somewhat hard yet laced with many inspirations and surprises this last year has been.
Looking back on this blog, I would have to guess, because as it is not a confessional diary, and I would have to know from the lack of posts what kind of year 2015 has been.

I really have more friends that any one person could deserve. I got to see many of them this year- and many helped me more than I can repay- not that friendships are or should be about some set of accounts and balances.
Really dear friends got married this year- all quietly...which I respect.
I felt tested more than once, and now as I think back...I didn't excel but I did not do anything to embarrass myself either, and I am going to just call that a win.
For every new friendship that did not work out...I think I learned that not every person will become important in one's life, and that should not feel like some sort of failure. In fact, I choose to recognize that I am fortunate to have so many opportunities.

On the subject of the mundane, the reason this blog has been neglected since our return to Sweden, has been in part to my sudden, active, social life and my decision to go back to SFI.  Swedish For Immigrants, is a subject that deserves its own post.  But let me just note that I got up at 6 a.m. (not in my nature) Monday through Friday, for maybe four months?  Due to this I was acutely aware of the growth of Stockholm, the perspective of new immigrants, the culture clashes as exemplified on my crowded, crowded, morning commute.
While I may not have actually bonded with my classmates, I did try...which for me again, is winning.
We had a lovely Christmas, as we also did last year with our neighbors, and that feels like it was yesterday, or ten years ago...
We visited a lot of people, and were visited by a lot of people this last year and the new year is started out the same way.
All of this makes me feel very positive, if albeit a little harried...but soon I'll be able to sneak off to the beach and read a book, in english.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Konst på Brommaplan Station, Peter Svedberg

The art at the Brommaplan station seems to be especially overlooked by people passing through the station. I, myself have been here with two different people that did not even notice it as I was photographing the art for this blog.
I like that the silver aluminum, with its rivets that for me scream 'Plane!', is subtle or, perhaps made subtle by the advertisements and reader boards that are all around.
Another aspect, I like is that the photographs encased in the glass are recessed, adding to what I feel like is the ghost like quality of these memory columns. Because that is what they are, photographs and an homage to the days that Brommaplan was the main airport. Now almost all traffic goes through Arlanda airport.
Mostly tourists go through this station on their way to visit Drottningholm Slott (the royal summer palace).

I do not go as often as I should, I went once during summer this year, and recently with my latest house guest.  I did find myself thinking about the first time I went, which is now over twelve years ago.  The journey seemed so far, but not that I am familiar with Stockholm, I don't consider it to be far.
The first time, I went alone, to see the theater which is an actual working 18th century theater with its original stage machinery still in use. Until I went to see an Opera there, I had only seen such a stage in movies.  The thunder machines and the fake waves moved by human hands rotating a handle hidden in the wings of the stage.  There were only tours in Swedish at the time (or perhaps I just didn't come at the correct time). This time I got to have the tour in English and my girlfriend and I were the only ones on our tour, so we got to be on stage and work both the wind/waves/and thunder.

I enjoyed the grounds even though we were frozen and yet there was no longer snow.
a new snowfall comes I think I will drag the husband out there.
Only the top photo is of the palace, I prefer the grounds and the "Chinese" styled pavilions out past the formal gardens and the labyrinth.



Sunday, November 13, 2016

Same as it ever was...the good and the bad


Very dear friends came to visit us for two weeks, and now looking back- the time we spent seems like a blink of an eye.
Even though during their stay Stockholm went from a bright colourful Autumn scene to getting record breaking snow fall.  The local paper said that Stockholm got more snow in one day, (November making this a rarer occurrence) for 111 years.
We went from lovely wide open skies, to glittering snow.

Not every visitor gets perfect weather of course, and our next visitor has arrived to treacherous, icy paths which we both fell (get it? fell?) prey too, during our long walk around Stockholm.

Also, as I sit here, I realize the year is coming to a close, and my partner is saying things like "We go home in six weeks!"- which I am not ready to hear.
I have two trips coming up, and I am still struggling through SFI most days.
I am, however really missing my exercise routine- which is the activity that got lost among, entertaining, running for trains, SFI and what I dimly remember as 'summertime'.

At this moment most people I know connected with the united states either by origin, or living there now are stuck under a very, dark cloud.
Having grown up through the 1980s, I think I always had this view-
The 'one step forward, two steps back' view.
I really know little about the candidate that won, I gave up hope when the party put him forth, the first nominee with no experience or qualifications.
I spent some time thinking about the time and energy I put into volunteering...escorting women through crowds of people shouting hateful things as we went into health clinics, all the people I registered by hand for 'Rock the Vote', the campaigning for voter registration, the hours postering, watching friends die and medications were held up by bureaucracy, politics, fear and profits just to dredge up a few memories...
I am grateful to not be there, and I am not sure how I would be feeling if I was there but since I have the luxury of not being there- I feel that embracing negative emotions would be truly losing so I am going the other way.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Konst , Gamla Stan Station Update

I have been on this platform a lot these last couple of months, my home line (the green line) and the red line (the line to get to SFI classes) both go through this station.  Often I got to a cafe in Gamla Stan to try and go over class work for an hour.  I've had more chances to see how the art fits together cohesively between the two murals (behind the North and South running tracks respectively) with one another and the platform itself.

I have put up a link to my original post which explains the artists conception.
This station is almost always busy but not as busy as Slussen or T-centralen.
Also, it is the place where one can jump off the red line straight onto green-
So I can time my trip back from the Ropsten second hand store, straight onto my Farsta line, with the crowds, and these days...impolite society one finds while riding trains...these small wins can brighten a day.


Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere

SFI class has meant leaving for the train while the moon is still in the sky.

I am enjoying Autumn in its (to my mind) rightful place...October.
The low grey skies do make me feel a little closed in.

 The view from the front of our apartment should remain unchanged, but the back of the building is undergoing huge changes, as they pull out a park, to put in a new school, here:

This gym and the adjoining play park are being pulled out, and our street which now is a fairly calm dead end road, will the extended through to Farsta.

I brought some outdoor furniture inside to make myself some extra space, so the apartment will feel larger.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Karlaplan T-bana Konst; Larseric Vänerlöf och Tor Hörlin

I must admit that when my gf and I got off the train at Karlaplan, we were both surprised to see what I have learned is Larseric Vänerlöf photo montage behind the track that we had travelled into the station on.
Interestingly when I was googling around for information on the artist Larseric, I found this article in English that answered not only the questions about why we both may have missed the piece (repairs)- but also my questions about the neighbourhood of Karlaplan which from our Autumn (not may people) time of day (again, less people) and where we walked from struck me as "very" Parisian.

If you are interested look here:

The tile work which I was unable to really relate via my iphone is that the pieces are meant to mimic nature (as so many of the stations)- the tiles are different textures, sizes, some are raised, some are indented.  
Although this station does not have the cohesive feeling of a station that has platforms where one can see both tracks easily, instead this station has the charm of an earlier era, including an old sign for shoe repair, near where the shop must have one been located in a hallway between the two line directions.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tantolunden, a small sanctum in the center of the city.

This September has been quite warm, and bright.
I had a day alone, with no immediate tasks, so I walked from my class to my subway line instead of taking an sort of transport to connect to my line.
As the trains do not run much 'across' our side of town, one can almost walk easier than transfer.

I almost skipped going through the Tantolunden Park allotment houses, but I turned around when I realized less people would be there and I could take some photos without feeling rude.

I believe these to be the oldest allotments but there are many more set around and in neighborhoods.  The more recent ones tend to be either all garden plots (no structures) or like the one we got to stay over in a couple of years back, larger homes that families can more easily stay over.  The one we stayed in had 'facilities' in a sort of large container style...located in a corner of all the plots, for all to use.
We have both in our area, small houses near the lake, and at the edge of our neighborhood a set of garden plots.  It does feel a bit like a Christmas miracle, to be on a huge busy road, notice a small woodland path, and as you walk down it, the city noise recedes.  Finding yourself in this amazing area, with its contrast to the urban and the realization of how much nature, however small can have transformative powers. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

"I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink"

 C. and I had a lovely fika, in a part of town where I can not avoid my addiction to pocket monsters, but she did not begrudge me my twenty minutes of distraction.  We then went to the Dansmuseet museum.  I was attracted by the paper costumes but I have to say the permanent collection was interesting, and I wish I had gone sooner.

If I don't write a bit about the last two weeks, I am sure I will only recall a blur.  I went back to government Swedish classes.  I am attending via a different "school" or I suppose a better word might be "contractor" but they all fall under the heading (and supposedly direction) of 'Swedish for Immigrants" aka SFI (said, S, F, Eeee).
I do not know anyone who has successfully navigated their way through this system, well I do not know of anyone personally, but I have heard rumors.

I would vent here, but I do not need too, because a perk of being 'in town' each day, (honestly as the sun rises)- is that class finishes early and I usually have a 'fika' date.  This does mean, that I am perpetually tired (up too early, and unable to fit in actual exercise).  But I have had a nice time visiting with, and seeing friends.  If I was a little less tired I might work up some guilt about eating a cinnamon roll, each school day. Also, I love them.  
Signing up to SFI was inspired by my 'emergency' dental appointment...that was followed by a two week wait for another appointment, which was a bit of a debacle due to my lack of Swedish-so I spent the 5 hours (along with some excellent company- my dear friend S. who oddly likes this type of errand)- and in the end there seemed to be no correlation between time spent there and my placement in the actual school.  I spent 9 days to get into my actual 'test score' level.  I picked the school based on the available schedule of 9 am -until 12:30 Monday-Thursday, but when I got to the school, the times are 8:15 am until 11:45 Monday through Friday.  Sigh.  But I am not giving up yet.
I could write about the culture clashes, the group dynamics that always seem to be some cliche mix that is ready for prime-time T.V., and the fact that the school is on the ugliest street, in the ugliest building I have ever seen since coming to Stockholm.
Here is a random tunnel I felt the need to explore.
If I hadn't gotten lost I wouldn't have seen it...and if I hadn't walked through it, I wouldn't have known where it I am taking this as a stick with SFI a bit longer.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Skogskyrkogården aka The Forest Cemetery - "Today me, Tomorrow you".

I walk in this cemetery often, I always seem to discover a new aspect to appreciate.  Some might say this is because I have no sense of direction, so I can retread a path and think I am somewhere new.  I choose to believe that I am adding layers of understanding.
This walk however, I had enough time and battery to listen to the guided walk that was put up in 2015 I believe.  I listened to the first two in Swedish to see if I could understand anything, but as soon as they sped up (conversationally) I couldn't follow along.  I did okay with the introduction.
This cemetery is actually only the second largest in Sweden with over 100,000 graves, and they hold about 2,000 funerals each year.  
I was happy that my impressions of this place were actually what was intended by the architects; Gunnar Asplund (who also did the lovely city museum) and Sigurd Lewerentz.

I thought that the cemetery was unique to any I had been too, and I credited Sweden for this fact- the cemetery feels modern but there were aspects (like skull and crossbones) that I had only seen in ancient sites- 
The feeling of a 'circle of life', of drawing you in, and then releasing you back into the world.  All of this was intended, and the idea being radical at the time in the Western world.
I am always too busy to go on the tour, but now I know that visitors are not allowed in any of the chapels (which would be my only reason to go along) unless one is attending a funeral.  This is indeed a high price to pay.

The above is the Resurrection Chapel, the second Chapel built after (my favorite) the Woodland Chapel.
Surprisingly the controversy on this one is that Lewerentz wanted to build North to South. The city insisted on East to West (apparently this is a Christian tradition - strange as this cemetery strives to be non-denominational in its architecture)
A compromise was struck, the chapel is East to West and the Portico is North to South.

I also learned that the wall surrounding the cemetery is 3.4 kilometres, taking 10 years to complete.  The pine trees were there originally, as this cemetery was once all part of a larger forest that was on the edge of 'Stockholm city'.
The great wars and economy delayed the completion, by decades.
The trees are maintained, by care and re-planting of seedlings from the trees standing now. The trees are between 150 and 200 years old.