November 16th, 2014

It’s a little bit funny

Last fall I was on the commuter train from the airport to Uppsala, and there were two men sitting next to me, talking. One was sixty or so, and the other was probably about my age. They were speaking Swedish and the older one had a marked accent. At first I thought the younger one was Swedish, but after some time passed, I noticed that he spoke with an accent as well. Both of them spoke good Swedish, better than I do, and their conversation indicated that they were professors at the university. After some time, my curiosity got the better of me and when they came to a lull, I leaned over and asked where they were from, telling them that I was American myself.

The older gentleman was French, though he’d been living in Sweden for more than thirty years, and the younger was Dutch. We chatted for a while about being foreigners living in Sweden, university life, and whatnot, and as we pulled into the station in Uppsala I got to feeling a little self-consious about my rudeness in interrupting their conversation the way I had. They assured me it was okay, and the French man joked, “though if you’d been Swedish you wouldn’t have asked”. We all laughed, then laughed harder when the Dutch man added, “and if we’d been Swedish we couldn’t have answered”.

Served up by Beverly at 11:20 pm 1 Comment »

November 8th, 2014

Holiday talk

We’ve got almost all of our Christmas shopping done, and it feels good to have got it sorted on the early side this year. Usually I do like to have it all taken care of before Thanksgiving–some years I’ve managed it even before Halloween–but the past couple of years, when I was in school and traveling a lot, I let it go right up to the last minute. As usual, we spent more than we had budgeted for on the kids, but I think they’ll be especially happy with their gifts this year.

As the years go by, I’m less and less of a Christmas person. It’s all just too much of everything, and my heart’s not really in it. I think I put on a good show for the kids, though, which is the most important thing for me these days. Apart from a couple years of trying in my teens, I’ve never been a Christian, so the holiday has never been meaningful to me in that sense, and I’m on a completely different plane, religiously speaking, from my family (who, being Swedes, are all just about as non-religious as people can be). In a perfect world, I’d live closer to a community that I could share religious celebrations with, but I don’t see that happening any time soon, if ever.

As far as holidays go, Thanksgiving is, and always has been, my favorite. It’s completely devoid of any of the pressures of this religion or that, and there’s no pressure for it to mean anything more or less to any person than it does. A professor I had during my undergrad days used to say something to the effect that Thanksgiving was the most American of holidays, not only because of its history, but also because it’s observed by the vast majority of Americans in the exact same way, regardless of religion, ethnic background, or other factors than tend to color people’s holiday celebrations. There are minor variations, to be sure, but it is mostly the same everywhere, and I love that.

This year I think we’ll be having Thanksgiving dinner at our house again. The past couple of years we haven’t been able to rent the locale that we’d been using for a while, so our house is as good a place as any. We’ll be having the traditional dinner, with our usual company of Olof’s parents, Lydia’s best friend, and my American friend, Debbie, her husband, and their three kids. Lydia was talking about inviting her boyfriend and another friend, but she’s not happy about it being at our house, so I’m not sure if that will happen. I hope it does, though, because I like it when she’s involved and shares our traditions with the people outside our family who are important to her. Either way, though, it’ll be a full house, and I’m very much looking forward to it.

Served up by Beverly at 11:15 pm 4 Comments »

November 1st, 2014


I did stay up for the game on Wednesday night, and it was absolutely worth the loss of sleep. It was an amazing game, one of the best I’ve ever seen, and I’d have been kicking myself forever if I hadn’t watched it live. It was nearly five o’clock in the morning by the time I crawled into bed, and it took me until this morning … well, afternoon … to feel caught up on my sleep.

Today was pretty much a wash in terms of getting anything done, but it felt very good to have a long lie-in without worrying about getting up at a specified time. Tomorrow I think I’m going to take Petra to town for lunch and then the evening undoubtedly will be dedicated to getting the kids back in the swing of early-ish bedtimes after a week off from school. So far the transition from our room to upstairs has been very smooth for Yrsa, but I think some of that has been due to us letting her stay up until she’s practically ready to fall asleep on her feet. I’m a little apprehensive about how it will work out once she has to go to bed and get up at a set time.

Served up by Beverly at 11:53 pm Comments Off

October 29th, 2014

Peanuts and Cracker Jacks

Since moving to Sweden, I usually pay scant attention to the major league baseball playoffs once the Braves are knocked out of the running (which, yes, means that I usually pay scant attention to the playoffs, period). Most years the World Series is barely a blip on my radar. This year, however, it’s a little different. I haven’t stayed up to the wee hours to see any of the games, but I have been avoiding the morning-after scores and watching the archived games the next day. And in case you haven’t been following it yourself, it’s been a pretty rip-roaring series.

To the extent that I have a second-favorite team, for the past few season that team has been the San Francisco Giants. They have a number of players that I really like (not least, Buster Posey!), and what’s more, my favorite Braves pitcher from recent years, Tim Hudson, started playing for San Francisco this season.

The Series has gone to seven games against a team of unlikely heroes, the Kansas City Royals. Last time the Royals were in the Series, in 1985, I actually did watch it, and even rooted for them (two of my favorites then were George Brett and Bret Saberhagen), but these days the only American League time I can ever find myself pulling for is the Boston Red Sox. Still, I admit that it would be a cool end to a magic season for KC if they do end up pulling it off.

Game 7 is tonight, and though it doesn’t start until one o’clock in the morning over here, I’m toying with the idea of staying up and watching it live. Whichever way it goes, it should be a hell of a game.

Served up by Beverly at 08:56 pm 3 Comments »

October 26th, 2014


Our house has six bedrooms, three upstairs and three downstairs. As our family has grown, tastes have changed, et cetera, the division of these rooms has changed, but the current set-up is this: the office, Tage’s bedroom, and Olof’s and my bedroom–shared by Yrsa–are downstairs, and Lydia’s room, Petra and Brynja’s shared room, and an empty room are upstairs (oh, how I wish it were truly empty; it’s currently full of miscellaneous crap awaiting sorting and storage so that Petra can move in there).

Yrsa will be four before too long, and though she’s has her own bed since she was two, it’s getting about time for her to move out of our room altogether. The plan has been for her to move up with Petra and Brynja, who have one of those “family bunkbeds” with a single bed on the top and a double on the bottom. We wanted to wait until we were positive that she’d be okay coming down the stairs on her own if she woke during the night, so we haven’t been in a huge hurry. I started talking to her about it last night, though, mostly just to plant the idea in her mind. Unexpectedly, she was all for it and wanted to make the move right away.

So, after a bit of wrangling with Brynja about how many stuffed animals Yrsa would be allowed to bring into the bed, we tucked our baby into bed last night with the big girls, fully not expecting it to last the night. To our surprise, however, we didn’t hear a peep out of her until almost eight o’clock this morning, when she came down and told us she needed to go to the bathroom. Even better, she says she wants to sleep there again tonight. I don’t want to be too hopeful, but moving her from our bed to her own a couple of years ago was remarkably easy, so perhaps this transition will be similarly painless. And finally, after more than twelve years, Olof and I will have our own room again.

Served up by Beverly at 09:42 pm 2 Comments »

October 25th, 2014

Fall back

Thirty-three wall clocks, that’s how many I’ve got at last count. I don’t have any particular obsession with time, I don’t think, but I do have a powerful love of clocks. Generally speaking, they please me inordinately, but twice a year, not so much. Tonight is one of those two times, the end of daylight savings time.

Most of them I can change myself–which is a good thing, as Olof is not particularly helpful in this particular matter, feeling I’ve got only myself to blame for the extra work–but a few I need help to reach. What this often leads to, unfortunately, is a clock or two that remains on the old time for a bit longer than it ought. It’s not really a problem, timekeeping-wise, but it does bug the hell out of me. This year, though, I think that my nagging did the trick and they’re all successfully changed. The projector clock in our bedroom isn’t re-hanged, but I’m still at least a few steps ahead of where I usually am.

Served up by Beverly at 11:03 pm Comments Off

October 19th, 2014


So, it took me only a week after getting home from Stockholm to unpack my suitcase and put it away. If nothing else, that should tell you how the week has been. It wasn’t a bad week, really, just a busy and hectic one.

The conference last weekend was great, with plenty of interesting papers and discussions and, best of all, terrific people. I had the change to catch up with some friends and also to meet quite a few new, interesting people. Believe it or not, historians can be a lively bunch (particularly when the drinks start flowing!). My friend, Astrid, and I bunked together in a “cozy” (read “small and windowless”) room at a hostel in the middle of the city, and it was fun to get that old dormitory feeling for a couple of days. I tried to talk her into getting an apartment in Uppsala with me in the event we both get Ph.D. spots starting in the spring, but I’m not sure she was as keen on the idea as I was. I’ll keep working on her, though.

Speaking of the Ph.D. business, again, my proposal for the country house project is due on Tuesday and I’m fairly pleased with what I’ve got so far. I’m going to try to finish it up tomorrow, between school prep, a dentist appointment for Yrsa, and orchestra practice for Tage, so that I have only to give it a quick run-through on Tuesday before sending it to the university. I’m also thinking about submitting an abstract for a conference in England next May, so I need to get that written up as well.

I’ve been thinking some, too, of what I’ll do with my time if I don’t get a Ph.D. spot, and I’ve decided that I’ll take a course in either French or German. I studied French in my undergraduate days, stopping just two credits shy of a minor, and I still read it almost passably. It’s been so many years, though, that I think I’d probably start in a beginner’s class. I haven’t got any German at all, so that’d be a beginner’s course as well. I haven’t decided yet which I’d prefer to study, but in the end it will probably come down to which is more easily available. I could take either one as a distance course, but I’m thinking I might prefer to travel down to Umeå instead, as I think language is more easily learned face-to-face. What I’m really hoping, of course, is that all of this consideration will have been for nothing, and that I’ll be beginning the Ph.D. position. It is good, though, to have a bit of a contingency plan in place.

Served up by Beverly at 10:05 pm 2 Comments »

October 9th, 2014

Worry for nothing

The week before last I got my first summons for a mammogram, scheduled for yesterday morning at 9:30. It was surprisingly good timing, as not only was I home that day, but the appointment was late enough that I had time to get the kids off to school before I needed to leave myself. The only real glitch was that Yrsa is home on Wednesdays, but that was easily enough solved by Olof’s suggestion that I drop her by his office before continuing to the radiology department for the test.

Like most women, I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about mammograms over the years, so I was anticipating the procedure with a bit of dread. I needn’t have worried, however, as it was relatively painless. It was a little strange and uncomfortable, to be sure, but not even really close to what I’d call painful. Even better, it was a quick process and I was in and out of the exam room in ten minutes flat. I’ll get the results within a couple of weeks, they say, and then I shouldn’t have to think about it again for another two years.

That chore out of the way, I went back to Olof’s work to pick up Yrsa, and the two of us had a cup of not-so-great coffee before my girl and I left him to carry on with his day. We had some hours to spare, and I was craving a cup of decent coffee, so the two of us stopped by Stig’s, a regular fika favorite of ours, and treated ourselves to drinks and pastries before returning home.

All in all, it was a much better morning than I’d feared it might be when I got out of bed.

Served up by Beverly at 04:28 pm Comments Off

October 7th, 2014


Gah. This project proposal for the Ph.D. application is stressing me out beyond belief. You’d think I could whip out six pages in nothing flat, especially considering that my proposed topic isn’t too far removed from my master’s thesis, but it’s just not coming easily. I know that most of the problem is that there’s so much at stake and I’m feeling an incredible amount of pressure to make every single word sing out my worthiness of acceptance to the program. I’ve got about half of what I need written and I’m sure I’ll be ready, one way or another, to submit it next week, but like I keep saying, it’s going to be a long, long couple of months until December.

Served up by Beverly at 08:37 pm Comments Off

September 30th, 2014

On a jet-plane

Headed off in an hour or so to fly down south for a meeting in Stockholm tomorrow morning, then I’ll hopefully be able to attend a presentation by a fellow Early Modern Studies-alum and current Ph.D. student in the afternoon before winging my way home tomorrow evening. These whirlwind trips aren’t my favorite, as the travel always seems a lot to go through for just one night away, but I know my familiy prefers it if I’m gone as little as possible.

Next week will be a longer trip, with me leaving Thursday evening and not coming home until late Sunday. That should be a busy few days, and I’m very much looking forward to rubbing elbows with historian types during the conference. As I think I mentioned before, I’ll be acting in the role of conference assistant, helping to make sure internet connections and Power Points and the like run smoothly, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s not too taxing for my Luddite brain.

In between these two trips I really do need to sit down and get my research plan(s) for my Ph.D. applications written out. I’ve got it all pretty much worked out in my brain, but there’s precious little on paper as of yet. Today another position at Uppsala University was announced, a directed study within the Country House project that I wrote my thesis within, and I’m feeling much more optimistic about my chances with that one than with the others I wrote about before. I will still apply for the others, of course, but it does feel good that the opportunities are somewhat less limited than they were a week ago!

Served up by Beverly at 05:41 pm Comments Off