Friday, August 31, 2007

Not much to report ;o)

After the (relative) flurry of activity of our first few days here, we've been taking it easy for the past two or three days. Not much that's interesting to read about, probably, but I'll put down some notes, anyway.

Wednesday, Aug. 29th
  • Mostly rested-- read, watched t.v., etc.
  • Walked to the McDonald's in Säffle. (There aren't really that many around here, I think-- not at all like back at home.) The McDonald's was pretty much the same as the ones in the US. They offer an option of baby carrots instead of fries, but that's not so strange, as they're offering similar "healthy options" at some fast food places at home, too. I think the drink sizes are smaller than at home, but other than that, no big differences that I noticed. . .
  • We had too many fries to eat them all, so we carried them with us on the walk back "home", and as we walked along the river, we tossed them to the ducks. It seems that we weren't the first ones to think of feeding the ducks ;o) as they seemed to know just what to do. More and more ducks came to join in on the feast, and before long, there were too many for us to feed, so we had to leave some disappointed. I was a little bit worried that some grumpy old man or woman would come up to us and scold us (in Swedish) for feeding the ducks such an unhealthy meal. (g) Fortunately, no-one caught us, so we went un-scolded. (Seriously, is it really going to kill the ducks to eat one or two french fries every now and then? I doubt it.) . . .Here I am defending myself against nonexistent antagonists. . .
  • I think we had Swedish pizza again, but I can't remember. . . If I recall correctly, there are no less than six different pizza places in Säffle-- and maybe a couple more outside of the city limits! So even though we've had Swedish pizza. . . four?. . . times already, we still have some "work" to do, if we want to say we've tried them all. ;o) (They're actually very similar-- not much difference from place to place, even to the degree of the first three places using the exact same pizza box design.)
Thursday, Aug. 30th
  • Took it easy again. Not much to tell, for the first half of the day.
  • We needed to do a little grocery shopping, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to look for more funny/interesting packaging to photograph. (The person who answered my poll-- Kimberly, was that you?-- wanted more photos of Swedish food & packaging.) Donald says he's taken photos in shops before, so I thought it'd be ok. Still, I chose aisles where there were no other shoppers, partly so I wouldn't be in their way, partly because I didn't want to draw unnecessary attention to myself. (Even though the stereotypical Swede prefers to keep himself to himself and never makes eye contact with strangers, I still feel myself being stared at sometimes. Maybe it's my imagination. . . Maybe I look more bizarre than I realize. Of course, most of the time, these people look like they're foreigners themselves-- Sweden has lots of non-Swedishborn people, these days-- or they're looking after probably hearing me speak English. I guess it's "ok" to stare at someone who's not speaking Swedish. This probably has something to do with Jantelagen, but I don't really "get" that, so I may be mistaken. (g)) I was all by myself in the scary Swedish grocery store (Donald having wandered off somewhere!) when a fairly gruff grocery store worker-woman walked up to me and said something in Swedish. . . .Anyway, to shorten the story, even though she said it was ok for me to take photos, I got the distinct impression that they prefer people (students, usually) to ask first. Well! I wouldn't have known who to ask, even if I'd known to ask at all. . . And asking permission seems to take up more of their time and trouble than not asking. I still don't see why they should care, as long as I'm not pestering the other customers or getting in their way-- but of course I didn't say that. I tried to acknowledge the information politely, all the while wishing to be a couple thousand miles away, back in a country where I feel I know at least some of the rules and am less likely to be rebuked. (Or at least back there, I'd have the guts to let my displeasure be known. ;o)) I felt fairly well mortified and really just wanted to get out of that place and never darken their doors again. To put it mildly. ;o) (Maybe an over-reaction, but oh well.) So I don't plan on going there again, for fear of being recognized as the shameful photo-taking foreigner, and from here on out, you'll only be treated to photos of packages I can get outside of the store. (g)
  • Later, we went to Sandmon.
    • We took Lukas on a walk to the lake. Well, Donald did most of the dog-walking, but I held the leash for long enough to agree that Lukas can be pretty strong when he wants to. ;o)
    • Before and after supper, we looked at old family photos (from the late 70s and. . . sometime in the 80s). It's funny how old photos from that era all have the same age-discoloration and smell. . . and the same strange clothes and hairdo's, too. (g)
    • Supper consisted in part of a tasty baked fish dish with a cream sauce-- very different from our Southern fried fish and probably somewhat healthier. ;o) The fish was pike-perch, which I don't think I've had before. For the most part, in my limited experience, fish tastes like fish. I'm sure that's blasphemy to some. (g) Maybe I've just been lucky and only ever eaten good fish.
    • Donald and I contributed a " homemade" (from a box that we brought from the US (g)) strawberry cheesecake for dessert.
Friday, August 31st
  • Saw the place in Säffle where Donald's mother works-- a garden market that sells plants, potting soils, pots, fertilizers, etc. They've added on fairly recently. Many familiar plants and a few that I didn't recognize. Not long ago, they had a moose come in and eat some of the fruit trees (I think). (g)
  • Donald went to the bank to attend to a few banking issues. (He had to do this before three, as that's when the bank closes on Friday, not to re-open until Monday.)
  • Donald needed to see a dentist to have something fixed. (Nothing big. Supposedly, it should take only a few minutes to do.) He went to three different dentists (and called a fourth). Three were already closed (apparently dentists close at 1 or so on Fridays!), and the fourth couldn't do what needed to be done. (Though it doesn't seem that he gave any explanation as to why that was-- a time issue, a skill issue, etc.) Fortunately, he was able to get something at the "apotek" (apothecary or drug store, which is where you have to go for most medicines, I think) to fix the problem himself.
  • Did laundry in the apartment's laundry room.
    • They have two nice, new front-loading washers, which seemed to work pretty much like the ones at home. The drying situation, though. . . There's a tumble-dryer, a mangle (which we didn't need), and a "drying closet". I think drying closets are becoming more available in the US, but I have very limited experience with them. This one took two "cycles" (a couple of hours, I think?), but at least most of the clothes were mostly dry after that. The tumble-dryer, on the other hand, could probably have tumbled for another few hours and still left some things damp. We finally had to just take our clothes and drape the slightly damp ones around the apartment to allow them to finish drying on their own. Because the whole building shares the laundry room, you have to put your "marker" in the calendar in advance, to indicate that the laundry room is yours for that three-hour slot. Fortunately, the slot after ours was empty, so we were able to move the marker and let things dry a little longer before we decided to give up on the dryer (mostly because we wanted to leave and do something else for a while). If you were restricted to one time slot and had three or more loads to wash, I don't see how you'd ever get everything dry on time. According to Donald, this was a common problem back when he lived in an apartment.
    • Shortly after putting in one load to wash, Donald noticed that his wallet was missing. It must have been in the one pair of pants that didn't get checked by either one or both of us, because there it was in the washing machine! I'll omit silly jokes about "money laundering" and "dirty money". ;o)
  • We went shopping at Lidl, a fairly recently-opened shop in a chain of German-owned stores. They're supposed to have cheaper prices, and they offer an odd combination of goods in addition to food. We saw everything from underwear to tools, cookware to scuba gear. We bought a few foods, which I'll photograph soon for the Flickr album. (I don't want to spoil the surprise here. (g))
  • Went to Karlstad, about 30 miles from Säffle.
    • Visited an IKEA that opened only three days before. It was very busy (as you might expect). Pretty similar to the IKEA we visited in Atlanta, only this time, it was an event when I heard some people who "sounded American". (I think they're the first Americans I've heard in Sweden, though I heard/saw some in the Amsterdam airport.) Unfortunately, even if we found something we wanted, most of these things were way too big for us to take home with us. Maybe sometime they'll build one nearer to home. . .
    • Across from the IKEA, there was another larger store/shopping complex/mall that we visited for supper and shopping. The main store (a Coop) was closer to a Wal-Mart (in size and the diversity of what it offered) than anything else I've seen in Sweden. One interesting thing-- there was a huge "horse section" in the store. I think we counted at least three aisles of horse- and riding-related goods, everything from horse feed and all the leather bits (harnesses, etc.) to riding helmets and crops. There must be a large horse-owning population in or around Karlstad. (g)
  • Came back to Säffle. We came up on some rather thick fog in spots. The harvested fields of hay (with the rolls of hay still scattered here and there) took on a spooky beauty in the barely twilit fog. Meanwhile, a huge-seeming golden moon hung just over the horizon in the other direction. Probably difficult to capture with the camera-- and as we didn't have the tripod, we didn't even try.
Saturday, Sept. 1st
  • The fog rolled into Säffle overnight and lingered well into the morning. (It's clear now, at 9:36.)


Kimberly said...

Oops, no, sorry, it wasn't me who voted-- I didn't see the poll. (Unless I forgot I voted... Hm. I hope not!) Still, yeah, Swenglish is fun, so it would've gotten my vote. (I think the Skum picture should be sent to, since it would go so well with the Goon diapers. ;-D) Too bad you ran into a grump. :-P

Anyway, hope you both enjoy Norway!

Michael said...

Not you, huh? Hm. Some mystery-voter, then. . .

Goon diapers? (g) I'd forgotten those! Yeah, I wonder if Engrish would accept the Skum? I'll have to give it a try when I'm back home.

Hope you're settling into your new schedule! :o)