jul jul jul

Officially done the last week of classes and things have slowed way down -- finishing up the last bits of assignments, and the others students are busy cleaning up the dorms in preparation for departure on a three-plus week Christmas break. Me, I can clean my house if I wish. Or not. We have a Christmas banquet and then the school closes until January 12. I am the only student staying in the area for Christmas.

I have no idea what to expect for Christmas. So far everything has been a (most pleasant) surprise. I've experienced my first julbord (traditional Swedish Christmas buffet), my first real month of Advent celebrations, my first Swedish Christmas desserts, and my first Lucia ceremony. 

The julbord was an very unique experience. At a mere $60 per person, you dine on cold meats, cheeses, breads, seafood of all varieties (eel, pickled herring, crayfish, and more), potatoes, pork, and of course, meatballs. The only salads were either creamy salads similar to coleslaw, or an olive pasta salad of which I was the only person partaking. We went with Martin's parents and it was an experience I won't forget! (And to those of you who know me well -- no, I did not eat eel or herring or anything that still had eyes in it.)

Advent is observed all across Sweden, by religious and non-religious alike. It is difficult to find a house that does not have Advent "candles" in their windows. (They make a killing selling electric Advent lights.) It's not an exaggeration to say that 95 per cent of the population has one or more adventljusstaken, or julstjärna (Christmas stars) in their house. Our neighbours told us about their friends who bought something like ten adventljusstaken for every window of their new home. This makes every street a beautiful, cheerful reminder of the coming of Christmas, but serves a practical purpose -- warding off the darkness. Dusk comes around 3 p.m. these days, and at times it seems that the sun has barely risen and already it sets. Depression can set in easily, but Martin says I am doing pretty well with the winter, which is encouraging to hear.

But back to Advent and Christmas. All throughout December there have been special performances, Advent singing and at church, fika after every service. (Fika is one of the best Swedish customs of all -- the best translation in English would be "coffee", except it's so much more than that.) Usually fresh bread, butter, cheeses, meats, small sandwiches with tomatoes and cucumbers, and baked goods. Most of the Swedes we know like to bake and I like to enjoy their baking. The most interesting baked good is called, literally translated, Lucia cats, an s-shaped pastry baked with saffron and two raisins. If you haven't had saffron -- it's a rare and extremely expensive spice -- it tastes pretty unique, especially baked in a pastry. People often get small smiles when I have bit into one and ask me what I think of them. Martin's cousin Erik and his girlfriend Malin were the first ones to bring them to our house, and pointed out as I tried them that they have been eating saffron pastries at Christmas since childhood, and although it's normal to them it must be very strange to me. (For the record, they are alright.)

Last weekend was also a weekend of firsts, as I sang for the first time (as an adult) in a Christmas concert and sang part of "Stille Natt" (Silent Night) in Swedish. We sang in a church built in the late 1700's, where the acoustics were absolutely astounding. (There is a point in the church where one can stand and hear, clear as day, a person speaking on the opposite side of the church. I've never experience anything like it.) Concert night saw about 400 - 500 people in the church, and I am SO glad I didn't goof my Swedish!

We also visited a julmarknad (Christmas market) in a nearby town and it was one of the loveliest experiences I've had. Martin bought freshly roasted almonds, (so hot and chewy and delicious I could have died) and we walked around looking shops and stalls in the old town, which was built up in the 1500's. 

And last, but most certainly not least, my first Lucia ceremony. This is a ceremony based on the life and martyrdom of a Christian saint named Lucia, who was tortured and killed for the vow of chastity she had made to God. (That's the short version of the story.) The ceremony now falls in December, where a young woman dons a crown of lit candles, accompanied by other children dressed in white, and carries food -- now candy -- and a blessing to people. If you have a hard time imagining what this would look like, check out this video. WARNING: It's a terribly shot video and don't watch past the first 30 seconds. I picked this video because it's the closest to the Lucia I experienced.

So, this Lucia ceremony was extra special, as staff from the school arranged with Martin to come by our house around 6 a.m. Martin didn't share this with me. The clock said about 5:45 a.m. when I awoke to footsteps in our house and singing as one, two, three, four, no, seven people filed into our bedroom singing Santa Lucia and carrying candles. They blessed us, gave us our candy, and filed out again singing, and it was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had! The crowd included three male staff (two guys in their 20's) and one of the founders of the school who is in his late 60's. Along with his wife, and three other staff women. Now comes the exciting part. Not having been aware of all that was to come, I neglected to put on pajamas the night before! I have never felt so strange, huddled under the covers for fear something might fall out and I would be completely mortified. The two staff guys came over to bless me with their little star wands and I am sure I visibly shrunk under the covers! Check out the photo. You can barely see me and I didn't dare touch the bag of candy they put on me.

There's a little rundown of a bit of Swedish Christmas, and I am interested to see what Swedish Christmas food will be like, and how Martin's family celebrates together. God Jul and Merry Christmas!



It is an absolute winter wonderland, with an inch of snow lying beautifully on every branch, bush, and twig. Beyond the scrape of my feet on the road it is so utterly still I just listen to my breathing. The sky is a black dome with curving stars and I feel stunned.

All I can think of is me and my relationship to the Creator, because I could not stand in this and think there is anyone or anything but the Creator involved. 


wind in these sails

Yes, yes, blogs are for blogging. Blogs are not necessarily an outlet for all things emotional. Every time I sat down to write, it became such emotional mumbo jumbo I eventually just gave up. 

It's been quite a journey for me these past months. It's been a little over five months that we've been here in Sweden, and definitely full of what I have lovingly coined "humps and dumps". Most surprising has been the spiritual wringer-washer experience I have had, which was something I didn't foresee. It's been really, really hard at times, but it's really good too, in that strange inexplicable way these kind of things are. 

I am enjoying school these days, having found some like-minded European girls that shower so much love on me daily. It's a daily experience for me to be kissed (quite soundly) by my Russian friend. I had no idea that I would be so grateful for this kind of feminine craziness. 

Martin and I took advantage of a few days off recently to take a weekend on the west coast of Sweden. It was a great weekend for both of us -- Christmas shopping, sightseeing, a gorgeous old hotel room, and time alone. One evening we took a walk in the dark along the coast to a historical fortress built on a cliff on the coastline. The fortress was open for us to walk inside, and up on it's walls. It definitely tops my list of things we've done together in Sweden, and as soon as we returned to our beautiful little hotel room, I wrote about it:

An evening walk through quiet, near-deserted cobblestone streets, the moon a white-gray haze behind the night's clouds. Everything is lit in a dim, pale light. The steady, low roar of the waves pounding at the sea-wall. Two fishermen work for herring with five and more fishing poles, illuminated by two lamps that oversee their efforts with yellow light. One reels in two of the tiny fish and slaps them on the stones at his feet. They flap for seconds.

The cold ocean wind rips through our clothes but it's thrilling to be standing on this tiny limb of land, straight out into the dark ocean, where everything is a shade of black or blue, and the Varberg fortress hulking over us, mysterious and ancient in the night. All it's gates are open and the lanterns lit. The mood of the place is wild, lonely, mysterious, chilling. The air is cold, salty, the wind strong. It's just Martin and I in this ancient lump of rock and arched doorways and cobbled paths, and we climb the steep, uneven narrow staircase of the fortress wall to overlook the city of Varberg, the church steeple outlined in the pinkish hue of lights, and when you turn your back to the modern world I feel like maybe the ancients felt in this fortress, standing at the edge of the known world, nostrils thick with seasalt, winding tearing at your clothes, staring out into the overpowering and awing waters.


start stop

Have started several posts and never completed the train of thought, therefore I shall try anew.

Been back in school for over a month now and I am finding a bit of a groove, I guess. More or less feeling a bit more normal with it. The first few weeks were definitely not great. Or even good. I really never thought I would feel so at-sea, so uncomfortable and stupid. Not like an adult, like a child. I never thought it would be a time of muddled frustration and despair and spiritual confusion. But here we are on the far side of a month and it's getting easier. I am definitely still having my moments where my senses are overloading with the general cacophony that is Bible school, but it's becoming more "normal".

Good thing?

Classes are getting more interesting. Definitely an interesting, challenging, and inspiring week looking at texts that have been taken out of context in many different ways and I felt a bit stunned with the realization of how many things I have (and very well still could be) taken for granted were "truths" when in fact they were Biblical concepts taken out of context. More and more I see the danger of generations of church goers like myself who don't know the Bible (really) and don't even know how to read it (really). 

I have been assigned to work on the school's photo site, and regularly post photos of school life on the site. If you want to check it out, here: www.holsby.com

I am taking Swedish For Immigrants (I love saying that) once a week for two hours, and although I quite enjoy the class, my language ability is coming so S-L-O-W. I feel so stupid about it. But I like my teacher and the other students (all from the Czech Republic) are very good-humored.

And Christmas things have begun to appear here... I can't believe it's already nearing the time to think about Christmas. It seems as though it could still be March and we're still just "thinking" about moving to Sweden. And here we are. Wearing slippers to ward off the chilly damp and figuring out metric and missing my mommy.


fingers, be quiet

Night comes with a vengeance these days, and with the shortened days the piles of leaves under the trees grow fat. I haven't experienced such a slow, drawn out autumn in years, with the trees turning in stages, first the poplars and the ash, then the birch and maple, and finally the oak, walnut and acorn. I can't stop stopping to enjoy the gorgeousness of the maple, with it's top and edges brilliant red and then gold throughout. I have been slipping out for 'me time' with my camera and trying with all my heart to capture the beauty of fall. 

I am repeatedly reminded of previous experiences here: here I am walking to school again, just as the sun is cutting over the treetops and the grass is stiff, sparkling, and gray with frost. The smell of wet leaves taking me back to my childhood in British Columbia. Feeling like I am reliving church youth group -- oh dear. A hallway of the school kitchen that smells like Liberia, weirdly enough. 

School is more work than I anticipated -- I have memorization, book reports, short papers, and quite a bit of reading all due in the next two weeks. The memorization is the most daunting, as I don't feel I have exercised that part of my brain at all. Admittedly, I am a bit uninspired, as so far I haven't been able to sink my teeth into something I really loved... A lot of things that I didn't really expect as part of Bible school -- "social style" profiles and such. (Yes, yes I know some of you are laughing.) I just want to study the Bible, and I am not even interested in theories outside of what the Bible directly teaches. (For those that care, an example: the theory of "general revelation" and "specific revelation". It's interesting to think about, but ultimately the Bible does not say what a general or specific revelation is, therefore do I need to know it?) And, the jargon! I really, really, do not want to use jargon. Please, if I come out of this sounding like a pompous arse, will someone tell me? 

But it's all a part of the package, and I certainly have enough to think on and work through, even in terms of just the move to Sweden. It will take a long time to adjust, and I have moments where I think will go completely insane. Martin usually hugs me during these moments, and after I have cried on the front of his t-shirt he tells me he loves me. It helps, but to be known is such a lovely thing -- it is to take for granted the gift of being known, until you are unknown.


välkomna till

you come when it is nearly dark
(I wonder if you are lost)
crunching, crushing up the path
with something in your hands

you scrape and knock and welcome me
singing the way they sing here
speaking in any language
(and I wonder how stupid I sound)

you welcome me and invite me
and I stutter, carefully, feebly
wishing wishing wishing very hard
for some eloquence

you leave the thing in my cold fingertips
with the edges of my mouth in a smile
having spoken stuttered sung
over roses in a white box


every day: every hour

I am listening to Radiohead and reveling in the fact that we finally have an Internet connection. I can sit at our desk and blissfully type while overlooking the neighbors garden. It feels darn near luxurious.

Martin and I went for a walk yesterday afternoon (down the road, right into the forest, up the steady incline) and came back with muddy shoes, wet feet, and high spirits. The forest was enchanting, part deep and dark, sheltered with old trees and cushioned with moss. Here the bright red-and-white poisonous mushrooms grew large and garish like neon signs, forbidding and completely drawing. If you continue on, over the rotted and slippery foresters "footbridge" and find another slow incline, the forest turns to tall red pines, bare of branches for some 30 feet. Here the blueberries and ferns can grow underfoot. A little further and we come across a living sea of ivy, spread out under the branches of oak and maple, covering every inch of ground in glossy, shining green. Once you step back out onto the road you feel as if you have, quite literally, stepped out into another world. Someone said to me that this area of the world was their "Narnia", and now I can completely understand, only it's not through a wardrobe I step, but through the front door.

We have had many little projects going around the house but I am most grateful to have a snug, black roof over our heads and soon, after we get the weather stripping on, snug winter-ready windows. I am working on "finishing" the baseboards in the living room and kitchen, and Martin and Janne finished some electrical jobs today. We've a stack of firewood (although I think we may need more, judging by our neighbors gargantuan stack of firewood) and the damp chill in the air signifies summer is over and now autumn, then winter. School starts in less than a week, am I ready? 

When I have no idea what I am in for, it's hard to say. I guess I will buy some notebooks and sharpen my pencils, so to speak, and be as ready as I will ever be. I am the only married student, the only student living "off campus", and surely one of the oldest students as well, and I wonder whether I can melt in or not.

My fingers are cold and I wonder about turning on the heating element behind the desk, but as many things go here, I don't know how hot it gets and is it safe or a good idea near the printer and electrical cords? etc. etc. I find at times I am really quite useless. I can't read a cellphone instructions or driving directions, faltering in the most basic of Swedish, can't yet really even grocery shop or buy stamps on my own. Maybe it's not that I can't, but that I am afraid to. Pride is the most fearful thing, really, as I feel this emotional barrier against putting myself out to (I think) failure, ridicule, or appearing stupid. I sometimes find the thing I could attempt (a simple sentence or expression) and instead opt to speak in English as, for whatever reason (pride, shame, embarrassment, insecurity, frustration), I can't seem to spit the words out. With time I hope this changes... My Swedish for immigrants class begins next week, and I know I am getting thrown in with people at all levels of Swedish (my level is that of a child of perhaps three). 

I am daily in awe of the fact that we've "done it", done the thing we talked about as an "if" and "maybe when", made this move and here we are, living in this beautiful, green, calming place, with toads living under our back step and a washing machine in our bathroom, with rather large spiders and a large old piano, creaking floorboards, white white walls, and mercilessly quick sunsets. Out from under the pressure of work and emotional strain and partially overlapping schedules, away from the blast of sirens and street church, and the brooding boredom of a lonely apartment, I feel inspired to write. It's been sometime since I felt that inspiration, that love. It got flattened out between my plasticky pre-fab desk, jargon, writing on things I neither knew, experienced, touched, tasted, nor smelled. It was flattened as thin and pale as me: strained, sharpened, tired. I can feel it's fulsomeness returning, fattening on what? good bread, rich cheese, delicious clean air and water without chlorine? or calm, long sleeps, a complete dismissing of stress? Whatever it grows on, I want inspiriation to be fat and positively bursting.



It has been some time since I have thought of writing. I have been occupied with other things: painting, gardening, watching the Olympics (which I have really never done before), shopping, reading, lying in the hammock in our backyard and staring up through the trees to blue sky and sun. It seems in one fell swoop my world has become large and free and unhindered, yet terribly small and sometimes a bit lonely. It's all very normal, I am assured, this up-down crash of longing for home and familiarity, but then I am perfectly content, and that assurance makes me grateful.

I took a few minutes respite in our hammock yesterday, and was startled alert by a sharp, strong knocking that I could feel right through the hammock. I was confused until I looked up and there was a woodpecker, hammering the tree about the hammock. He ( I am almost certain it was a he) had a red cap and red lower chest, and black and white all over. I watched for nearly 10 minutes as he hopped from tree to tree pecking and testing for I do not know what. Just a few minutes watching him and the melancholy I was feeling passed.

The country life is quite delightful, I must say. A little ways up our road and the houses end, and the thick forest cuts to farm fields that must be quite ancient, lined with moss-covered stone fences and dotted with red and white farm buildings. The road officially ends in a clusters of rural homes, but our neighbour assured us that there is a little-travelled road that continues on. I am itching to explore. We definitely need to purchase another bike, as we have an older one for Martin but I need one in order that we can do further exploration on wheels. 


blogs are for blogging

So we do not (and won't for a while) have Internet or phone, because of due process and usual beaurocracy. But it makes life simple and kind of nice in way, living in the countryside feeling a little bit disconnected. We are driving to my parents-in-law (thank-you Janne and Lisbeth!) and using their phone and Internet and indulging in divine baked goods. We are eating way too much brea but I can't stop because it's so good. And cheese! Oh, ost! It's also divine, and much less expensive here. We bought a massive hunk of my favourite German cheese here and it' so tempting in the fridge, all yellow and filled with delicious milkfat.

The sun has treated us this morning, shining on our breakfast table, and the bees are still absolutely loving the lavender growing by our front step. The nights are dark and quiet, and the other night driving home in the rain we came across a red fox, oblivous to the car crossing it's path until Martin stopped and flashed the high beams. The jolted upright, for seconds transfixed in the beam of light, his body and face completely poised. Then, gone. It had a mystical quality to it...a fox in the rain and fog.

We have salamanders and frogs and one big fat toad in our own backyard, which is lovely as I was informed that frogs and toads live in areas were the ecosystems at a natural rythmn. That's nice to think of, my backyard is nature in balance. This week we stacked firewood for our fireplace, and I felt so removed from living in a city of a million people. I haven't stacked firewood since childhood (and I doubt I really helped much then). I remember that my dad was magnificent with a chainsaw, and I wonder how I will be with an axe, not having used one much in the past decade. I would be quite scary with a chainsaw, I don't think Martin would ever let me have one. I might saw something down just for the heck of it.

So, I have blogged, but cannot say when I will blog again. Please come soon, dead Internet provider, because I only like to be disconnected in the woods for so long.


light my fire

Spent the afternoon at a beautiful lake along with sun-worshipping Swedes, and it was quite enjoyable. It was an excellent way to relax after working in our yard mowing, pulling weeds, and raking in the hot summer weather. There were numerous amusing and interesting things I wanted to write about over the course of the last few days, but didn't find the right moment. Here are some:

Amusing: A young guy driving a huge enclosed tractor through downtown Vetlanda on a busy Saturday afternoon, with his girlfriend riding shotgun in his lap. There is a reason why I call Martin the Swedish redneck.

Amusing: At least six young guys in their twenties packed into a new, jacked up Dodge truck, with their shirts off and Euro techno blaring.

Amusing: Clothing stores advertising end of summer sales with the sign, "Slutspurten".

Interesting: People at the lakes here do not seem so concerned about body image. There are people of all ages, sizes, and shapes in bikinis, seeming pretty confident and relaxed. Not like Kelowna or Penticton, thank goodness. I quite enjoyed myself at the lake, when normally I am very uncomfortable in a bikini. I guess a new bikini also helps.

Amusing: "You're breasts are not soggy." Gee, thanks!



It's a Thursday morning and not quite the usual Thursday for me. The mid-morning sun feels unusually hot and I feel like a kid out for summer break, with nothing pressing upon me, no demands or exacting schedule, just the sounds of the bees sipping from the flowers outside the window, and in the distance, a chainsaw working in the forest. My senses feel wide awake with the wonder of sounds and smells I am accustomed to being overpowered and drug under by machinesand people. The richness of cedar and pine forest, insects, birds, or the chuckle of a hedgehog rummaging about. We saw a fat little hedgehog in the evening, trundling to the neighbour's yard. I was surprised at how big he was. Easily a foot long.

This morning's breakfast was barely finished when the airline called to tell us our bags would finally arrive this morning. To say we are grateful is an understatement. Although we mostly remained calm throughout, the edges of panic were starting to creep in at the thought of our luggage being rummaged or lost. Where it could have been for nearly five days we do not know.

The jet-lag is starting to edge off, and I am feeling calm and happy. We arrived in time for the strawberries and raspberries, and blueberries are yet to ripen, and this afternoon we are going berry picking. The yard of our home is even more delightful than I imagined, with strawberries, raspberries, currants, apples, and sour cherries. Every Tuesday there is a market in the square of the nearby city of Vetlanda, and I have heard promise of fresh plums to be bought. I feel slightly intoxicated by the beauty of this place, and the opportunity to live here. Standing outside our house last night with the evening sun piercing through the trees, I wondered if people realized what an idyllic place this is.

There is work to be done, of course, the roof to be replaced, and we have yet to begin painting some of the rooms in need of help. Thankfully the task isn't overhwhelming, just a bit of cosmetics and we'll have it looking quite nice.

Now we are just waiting for our bags to arrive, and with them, my paintbrushes. And underwear.


the dam

The tears have begun and whatever psychological dam I was using to hold them back before now seems to have crumbled. I feel as thought I am partly in an alternate reality where this isn't really happening, and partly feeling the realization of leaving so heavy I can't comprehend it. The thought of not seeing my mom and dad's dear faces and sipping tea around our worn kitchen table, not laughing fits with my brother, or hugging my sister almost chokes me. I have to push those thoughts away because they feel like they could collapse me.

My prayer today is that I can keep it together for my family. I don't want to completely lose it. I have managed to hold myself in check through the process, packing our massive bags ( we bought extra luggage and have about 100 lbs each), running through the checklist, and really, just closing up shop here. The tears come at night, when the wears of the day have set in and I realize I have three, two, one, days left here with my family.

NOw the time has come and we are mostly packed and the sun is shining. I can still drink tea with my parents on the deck and while I am doing it I won't think about leaving, but just enjoying.



Woke up before dawn today with my mind whirring with thought after thought. This is what emotional strain and coffee does to me. I finally got up around 6:30 and my parents house is so quiet I can hear the tick-tick of the clock.

I am trying to keep track of all the little things we have to do before we leave next weekend. Banking, money transfers, goodbyes, birthday gifts, and most importantly, spending time with people. Strangely thought, I don't feel stressed, which is a huge blessing. For the most part I am just enjoying each day.

Martin and I were also very blessed this week to get together with the most wonderful family. They are an Ethiopian couple that we got to know through Martin's work, and their five children. When the evening ended, they gathered together and prayed for us and shared their hearts with us, and it was the most incredible experience. I could not stop the tears from pouring as they were so vulnerable with us. It was hard in a way as well, because Martin and I have yearned for relationships with people in Calgary, where we can be ourselves and share our hearts, and here these amazing people were doing just that. I have never felt such a spiritual connection, and it both lifted our hearts and broke us, because it was encouraging and heart-rending.

The weekend coming holds many goodbyes for us, and I hope I can make it through without completely breaking down! I am looking forward to my birthday party and several farewell parties, and they should be mostly fun, with a little sad. At least that's what I am counting on.


got a haircut, but no job

It's past midnight on Wednesday and I am enjoying one of the (luxuries?) of an unemployed person -- staying up late doing random activities like laundry and watching the absolute stupidity that is the TV show CSI: Miami. I mean, do people really make a living from writing this kind of stuff for TV? I could have a real career ahead of me if I wanted to pander to undereducated simpletons. Anyways, makes me laugh because whenever it comes up that Martin and I don't have television, people regularly ask, "how do you live?!" And that kills me because somehow watching cheap, gossipy, hole-in-the-head TV has somehow come to be classified as "living." I am entirely grateful for the pop culture I haven't subjected myself to by watching the boob tube.

Okay, but enough of the rant. This is my first week officially unemployed, and I am quite happy. We have finally! moved out of our apartment after a very long and tiresome move. I decided I really don't like moving. It's not fun at all. We gave away what seemed like a ton of stuff and we still have a ton left over. We sell our car this week and then that's the last of the major stuff to rid ourselves of.

I am still living in this surreal time-suspended state. It doesn't feel like I am moving away in less than three weeks. I am neither fully excited, sad, or frightened. I am somewhere in between, and I am happy that I can live in the moment and just enjoy each day as it goes. I hate to see the sad look on my mom's face if things come up like deciding who is going to drive us to the airport. She is absolutely heroic in holding back the tears. It's going to rip up my insides to say goodbye, and I can feel that clench in my gut when I think about leaving, but I just want to be happy about the time we have together.

I have had a growing respect for so many people that I have loved and respected all along, but as I go through these emotions and experiences, I admire them all the more. Hyonjoo, Jihae, Drew, Martin -- people that made these huge decisions and faced the unknown and said these difficult goodbyes many times and still will themselves to do it once more. To face a culture"alone", I absolutely respect that. I don't think I could do it.

This weekend we are heading to Waterton with my parents, and we're going horseback riding and other excellent activities which I am excited about. And my birthday is coming up soon so I think there is going to be a steady stream of partying going on in the next while. Yay! The fun part of goodbyes comes first.



Someone recently suggested to me that I blog about the fallout of the decisions that Martin and I are currently making -- or is God making them? -- to move to Sweden. I felt a twinge of shame, knowing that I am the laziest blogger out there and my adoring masses have been dying for even the teeniest update from me. (I hope my sarcasm translated.) Martin put it well when he asked me, "Danielle, what is a blog for?" I responded with one of my infamous dirty looks. (At least, I have discovered that they are quite infamous, my dirty looks.)
At any rate, I was challenged to once again take up the keyboard, amidst the organized chaos that is our lives. I feel like every part of my life is in transit. Our apartment is mostly bare with stacks of boxes, and it seems like most days we are packing or sorting or organizing. I only have seven working days left, and have "passed off" most of my projects -- setting my babies free to be pillaged and dessicated by someone else.
I am hopeful, eager, and scared. My deep-down fear is the thing that I can only imagine and have yet to experience -- leaving my familiar and sinking into a life where I have no background, no language, no experience, no capabilities. I have only an inkling of understanding of what Martin went through when he moved here and wasn't able to find the grocery store. I only hope that I will be able to handle this great challenge with the grace and patience that Martin did here in Canada. Soon my understanding of his experience will be quite complete, which I do look forward to. That mutual understanding is something I want out of this experience, that we can know and read each other on a level deeper than before.
Starting a "new" life -- I haven't done this before. Just 100 lbs of luggage each, and that's what we start with. We are indebted to Martin's family -- finding and giving us furniture, working on our little house preparing for our arrival, and doing a million other things. I spend a lot of time imagining our house and trying to picture what we can do in it -- colors to paint, that sort of thing. I get an inordinate amount of gratification from decorating and painting.
I will be try to be more diligent in blogging about this new journey. We leave Calgary on July 19, just eight days after my 26th birthday. I start school on Sept. 19, and that promises to be a whole other adventure.
To Sweden, then.



I am inspired this morning for some unknown reason; I woke before the sun had risen and tossed restlessly until getting up. There is energy in my body and my brain is speeding ahead of everything else. I find myself in this state often these days, like my adrenaline is running and I need to find an outlet for it. Today I am casting a glance around our living room thinking about what I can organize or accomplish this morning. It's a beautiful morning, the sun is already blazing and it's the Easter long weekend. The skyscrapers downtown are glowing  brightly as they do in the sunrise, and I have already seen one of those irritating yuppy joggers flash by. 

Not sure what my racing thoughts are pushing me to do today: organizing something isn't that exciting. I have the urge to work. Not paper-pusher work I normally do, but to break a sweat and accomplish something tangible. (Is this a product of doing a job where so much is intangible? Probably. Humans like to see the results of accomplishment: a ploughed field, a garden growing, a painting painted. I would love to get outside this morning, begin preparing the flower beds for spring, get my hands dirty. It's a wonderful thought to dwell on that soon we will have a place of our own to work and affect with our style and creativity. I love working outside, even mowing the lawn. I have missed that since our landlord decided he didn't want to pay us properly to take care of the building, and we've become complete urbanites while our apartment building has fallen into shambles. Garbage is strewn about, snow isn't shoveled, the yard in disrepair. It's a shame, but a ray of hope for us is the knowledge that soon we won't have to tolerate it!

Guess I should get off my duffer and do something instead of write about it. 



Desperation is no good. All things wither and fade, or something along those lines. Trying to keep hold of my Mexico tan reminds of how futile it is to hold onto beauty or young age. Normally I don't care too much about skin and creams and such, but I have been slathering on the lotion several times a day in desperate attempt to keep my whole body from peeling off like the Eustace dragon skin in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And desperation is really quite useless. I feel very lizard-esque.

Seems like I am in a really good spot mentally lately, as if my vacation did wonders. Who knows? All I know is I am coping better with "life". You know -- work hassles, silly people, stress, boredom -- the little stuff isn't getting to me so much. I hardly think about work (or it's drama) once I am hope, I feel cheerier and I have been finding the inspiration to write. I feel as though my creativity is returning, and that's a lovely feeling.

And maybe because we have some secret plans brewing (those who know the secret plans know they are not really secret but just not "public"). They get me nervous and freaked out and energized. They are still just "plans". But suddenly, voila! you have more than a plan.
Now I am just getting plain silly. Anyways... I am trying to occupy myself more. Books, a writing class at the University of Calgary, trying to find a Swedish class that would teach pre-school Swedish to adults. (Not having much luck there -- I have increasing respect for all of the amazing people I know who've learned to speak English.)
PS. As promised, some of my photos of humpback whales in Banderas Bay.



Allow me to complain about how COLD it is. Calgary has schizophrenic weather even at the best of times, but it's been a bit nuts this week. Martin and I left 30 degree temperatures to return to a steadily dropping needle in Calgary. It has now been -30 for a few days now, and with wind chill (for those who don't live here that's the cold north wind) it was nearly -50! Exclamation!
We managed to undergo a 60 degree temperature change in less that 48 hours. I don't know what it's done to our bodies, but it can't be that healthy. I am slathering on moisterizing lotion to keep my beautiful but fleeting Mexican tan, and fighting off the depression by eating key limes and looking at my photos.
We had no idea how badly we needed a vacation, and Mexico was very good to us. We slept and slept, walked the beach, had some amazing experiences with humpback whales (with photos to prove it), did an awesome rainforest canopy tour with zip lines over 400 feet high and 1,000 feet long. I held and fed a monkey for the first time. We went sea kyaking along a beautiful, remote beach, rode the bus 5 hours to Guadalajara and enjoyed Mexico's second largest city. We didn't shop very much or spend too much time with the elderly Speedo clad tourists, and it was a fantastic holiday.
We both had no idea how much mental freedom we would get from it.
Haven't finished working on my photos from the trip, but watch for some shots of the whales when I do. Amazing experience. And Janne, we have some iguana and snake pictures for you.