Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A room of his own

JenniferI wrote a whole post about Joe's new office and then Google for some reason alphabetized the text of the whole post, word by word, which was neither useful nor informative. And why the picture is on the right, when the HTML clearly indicates it should be on the left, is anyone's guess.

So here's a placeholder until I get up the energy to re-write the consarned thing. Go see a slideshow of all the pics if you like in the meanwhile...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Herring Wars

Photo by ADT
JoeAnd so, it begins: the great North Atlantic Herring War of '13:

This March, the Faroe Islands unilaterally declared a herring quota of 105,230 tons, three times the amount they would have been allotted under the fisheries management plan. Since the total allowable catch (TAC) for all member nations is only 619,000 tons, the Faroese claim accounts for over 17% of the herring fishery. The European Fisheries Council, under pressure from the UK, responded that, if the Faroese move forward with their self-declared quota, trade sanctions will be imposed against the tiny island nation. Should the sanctions take effect, they will be the first implemented under the new European fisheries management plan and will prevent Faroese fishers from landing or importing catches in EU ports. The sanctions may also prevent all Faroese ships from entering EU ports. The Faroe Islands responded to the threat of sanctions, calling them economic coercion and requesting a return to reasoned debates. The Faroes maintain that the current stock allocation does not account for recent changes in herring distribution and that herring are more abundant in Faroese waters now than when the original management plan was implemented.

In light of the dispute, the Marine Stewardship Council stripped the sustainability certification from Faroese Atlantic herring.

You simply have to love any article which includes the phrase, "In a phenomenon colloquially referred to as the 'Miracle of Fuglafjørður'…".

Herring Wars: Quotas, Conflicts, and Climate Change in the North Atlantic (via BoingBoing).

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer berries

JenniferTurns out that the woods right next to my apartment are filled to the brim with bilberries. Who knew?? Well, probably almost everyone except us. We had wondered about the odd unofficial looking paths leading through the woods... and now we know why they're there. They are so thick that on a warm day you can smell them.

(Bilberries, as you may recall from this earlier post, are pretty much the same as blueberries but not quite, and they grow on low bushes not high, so they're rather a pain to pick. But oh so tasty!)A few smultron (wild strawberries) are to be found also, not far from the bilberries.

 Meanwhile, our apartment complex maintains several currant bushes, both red and black. So the picture is is of my haul from a few day's ago, all of which was gathered within a 50meter walk from my front door. Life is good!

A funny little-kid-logic story about the red currants – the bushes are right next to a playground, and while I was sitting on the park bench picking a few, now and then tasting one, a grandmother-and-grandson and mother-and-son were in the playground. I heard the grandson ask his grandmother something about me, though I didn't catch it or her response. But I did clearly catch the next thing he said, which was "Perhaps they taste better when you're sitting down," which made both the grandma and mom laugh, and I had to laugh a little too. "He likes to pick them," his grandmother explained to the mom and me, "but he doesn't like to eat them."

Monday, July 8, 2013

My birthday cake

JenniferNote: This post entirely duplicates an album on Facebook, so if you're a friend of me there, you may if you like skip this. The whole thing about the cake was originally posted there, because that's where Cousin Carrie originally posted her recipe, and so I thought it was only fair to repost there so that she could see it. So, anyone else who's interested (*cough* MOM! *cough), please click here to see a slideshow, and be sure to read the captions, which explain what's going on.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

My birthday picnic outing

JenniferI took a long drive through the local nature reserve for myself to have a picnic on my birthday. Click on the photo gallery to see the pictures I took (too many), which are in order of the journey. I'd hoped to make a map of it but that function doesn't appear to be working at the moment... check back later, but I did want to get this up, before I forget. Most pictures are, sadly, unlabeled, but pretty. And I do at least list the picnic items on the picture shown to the here. Next up, a post about my birthday cake, which I had on the Fourth of July. It's a Whole Big Thing, as those of you who check Facebook may know...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A quick musical summary of the country

Saturday, June 1, 2013

May flowers

It's been a really nice May – plenty of sun, but not too warm, often quite cool, which means the spring flowers have been hanging around longer than they otherwise might. Here's a few pictures. Why Google won't let me link to the whole album I don't understand, but I'll just put them up instead.
A wood anemone, eller vitsippor på svenska.

Two birch logs surrounded by vitsippor.

They also come in blue, more rarely, and are then
called blåsippor (and  I'll bet you can figure out why).

Friday, May 3, 2013

A second posh Big City weekend

Jennifer[attempting, for humor's sake, to sound jaded, but not really succeeding because in truth it was fun of course] “...Oh, it was lovely but so wearing to take the first long walk in the sunshine on the first even remotely warm day of the year. It’s a good thing that the crocuses have finally broken through at the church grounds to cheer us up, although watching the local youths taking their longboards down the steep steep church hill was also cheering if a little scary – of course we were going past that just as the camera decided to fuss and refuse to take pictures – typical! And then we walked down to the water past the Solidarity House (which reminded me that soon it would May Day and time to hear the various agitators giving their various agitatory speeches), and by the time we got there we were so tired from all the fresh air and exercise that we stopped for a sip (in what I must say was an extremely fussy little cup) and a bite at a lovely little place by the canal, in order to restore ourselves. The sight of the ski hill still partly covered with snow made us feel perhaps even more grateful for the sunshine and enough warmth to sit outside, not that any such prompting was needed.

“Then it was off to the Royal Opera for Culture Night in Stockholm, with the company offering us Die Fledermaus (Läderlappen på svenska) – we got a short review of the plot, which sounded to me like a typical hair-brained opera mish-mash plot of jails and masked balls and mistaken identities, or perhaps that was just my impression because she was speaking Swedish. The interior of the Opera is fine and the company was in good voice but I can’t help but feel that the view would have been a slight bit better if we had not had a basketball team sit down right in front of us, my goodness gracious, what a tall lot of boys that was. (One of them, when they stood up, was revealed to be wearing a kilt, and he claimed, to the usher behind us, that he was Scottish. Scottish he may have been, by descent perhaps, but the Glaswegian who was with me arched an acerbic eyebrow at his accent and muttered something about her arse as he continued on out to the lobby. I agree that he sounded about as Scottish as my cat, but on the other hand I do think it’s fun that the natives are taking Culture Night as an excuse to dress up in unusual folk costumes.)
selections from Johan Strauss’

“We fought our way through the throngs King Gustav III’s favorite room, the Golden Foyer (or Guldfoajén in the curious Frenchified Swedish that one often runs into with words involving luxury or comfort), which is indeed absolutely coated in gold leaf and dripping with chandeliers and includes paintings by Carl Larsson on the ceiling. I parked by the grand piano that no one was playing, thinking I’d found a clever quiet spot a bit out of the way, where I could sit and marvel unmolested. The ballet company had other plans, and I had only been there for about two minute when a fellow sat down and started to play said piano practically in my lap. A number of scruffy looking young people in sweatpants and hoodies started dancing – they turned out to be members of the ballet, here to give us More Culture after our bit of Opera. We sipped sparkling wine and watched as they contorted and flopped around, sometimes going so far as to slither around on the floor under the piano, nearly giving me a fright, and certainly giving me a laugh, and then the piano player had a hearty chuckle as well after this dancer pulled herself up off the ground by means of grabbing the piano’s other edge and giving it a mighty wrench, thereby pulling the whole instrument out of his grasp while he was playing. And she was such a tiny thing too! Whoever had the job to lock the piano’s casters? To the player’s credit, he hardly missed a beat.

Anyway. Eventually the performance ran out, as did the bubbly, so we took a quick turn out onto the Golden Foyer’s balcony to get a view of the city and a good look at the facade. Then we were off, treated along the way to a bell concert by the church right next door to the Opera, and so we made our way back to S.’s fabulous digs on trendy Södermalm, for a late night post-theater repast of fortified wines and an assortment of amusing cheeses...”

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Language notes part 8: A very multicultural moment

JenniferMy lecture in Swedish class today was about the official languages in Sweden. Swedish is one of them (duh, you say, but it was only in 2009 that it was decreed to be the official language), and additionally there are five minority languages. Today's lecture was about them, and we listened to a bit of each one. The Very Multicultural Moment came I realized I was getting a lecture in Swedish, while sitting in a building called The English Park, listening while the lecturer (an ethnic Lapp) played us a CD of a reading of 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' translated into Yiddish. Yes, Yiddish is one of Sweden's official minority languages. Betcha didn't know that!

The others, for the terminally curious, are Finnish, Lappish (many kinds), Romani chib (again, many kinds), and a sort of Swedified Finnish called Meänkieli.

Want more multiculture? How about Sofia Jannok singing 'Waterloo' in Lappish?

Monday, April 1, 2013

A weekend in Stockholm, unexpectedly posh

Jennifer A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of going down to Stockholm to see Verdi's Requiem performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Concert Hall. Some of you may know that Verdi's Requiem is among my favorites of classical music. It's overwrought, bombastic, melodramatic, and just plain fun. This performance was no let-down. I was especially impressed by the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, which was 78 voices strong at this evening's show. Swedes sing well, and they sing well in groups; to hear a professional choir sing this piece was truly memorable. What was unexpected, and also a somewhat memorable, was that the king and queen were there, and their seats were only about two rows down and a dozen seats or so towards the center of our right-side first balcony seats. They were sitting so close that we weren't allowed to leave our own seats right after the performance, not until the royals had made their getaway. (There. I have now been Personally Inconvenienced by royalty. Down with the monarchy!) Frankly I was surprised at that actual royal heads were actually there, although I don't know why – I suppose this sort of thing happens all the time if one frequents the Royal Concert Hall. For some reason I still don't take that name very seriously – by which I mean that I don't expect anything that calls itself the 'royal' this-or-that will have anything to do with actual royals. But that leads to ruminations about the nature of being an American living in a country with a king that are perhaps best suited to a later post...

An aside: Yes, yes, I know I've been promising 'later posts' about things for at least a year now. Well, this is me, trying to get back into it!

The next day was sunny and warm-ish (meaning over freezing, anyway), and we went into town for a little window and sundry shopping. We wandered eastward to the area of Stockholm called Östermalm, which is where the idle rich hang out. When I went with my friend K. for 'brat spotting' a couple years ago, this is the area that we went to. If you are going to see women in fur coats, this is where you'll see them. (And we did in fact see a couple.) It's a beautiful, old, well-preserved part of town, with pretty buildings often with fantastic little details, like this great wooden door. A food market building, Saluhallen, is on the square here; the army museum is in this neighborhood, as well as the music museum, which used to be the navy's bakery. I took a few pictures with my ailing old camera; a link to the whole gallery is up at the top of the post.

All the wandering about was eventually wearisome, and we started to cast about for somewhere to have a bite of something to eat. We wandered by the Royal Theater, which is reputed to have a good bar/restaurant, but it wasn't open, so we wandered back to the fancy mall, Sturegallerian, for refreshments. It's a fancy mall, as you will see just by its homepage... suffice to say it's the kind of 'mall' that has a Bentley dealership tucked behind it. We sat upstairs and had a nice view over one of the mall's courts, where they have a stand selling baked goods and various other tasty treats. This being a couple weeks before Easter, they had a corner devoted to chocolates. In hopes of springtime – the court was decorated with pastel-painted and flower-bedecked bicycles hanging from the ceiling, which I found charming and cheerful.

'Springtime' remains only a hope. As I write this post two weeks later, on April 1, the ground outside my window is still covered with snow; sidewalks still have big patches of ice on them; the temperature, though above freezing on the sunny afternoons, dips down to well below freezing at night. S. noted as we were walking around that the fashion economy of Stockholm has suffered financially in the last two months, because the stores put out their lightweight spring clothing at the end of February. Apparently even Swedes are finding it mentally difficult to plan for spring when everyone is still wearing their down jackets and warmest hats during the day.