6.28.2008

Life 6

My time in Sweden came to an end yesterday, very early in the morning. Very early. It was also a long flight, but I got back to Lubbock safely, so thank God for that. Though my bags didn't arrive with me from Dallas, where I had to check them through Customs then recheck the bags. Still, they were delivered to me later that evening.

I miss my family and the farm. I miss the weather, because though it is sprinkling rain here in Lubbock right at this moment, it's still in the nineties, I'm sure. When I left for the airport, I needed a light sweater. When I got on the breezeway in Dallas, I took the first opportunity to pull it off.

Anyway, Tina is going to keep posting her Sweden trip. She and the boys will continue on for another month, while I get to teach. Somebody's got to pay for the trip, right? He he he.

6.26.2008

Sweden 14: Stadsparken & the John Bauer Museum

Back in Jönköping, we had a chance to visit a local city park that includes merri-go-rounds and swings and mini-rock climbing equipment and the like, but also a bird museum and a little zoo, where they keep llamas and real reindeer (which we haven't visited yet, but Tina assures me that she and the boys will return to visit the animals and then we'll have pictures of that). For now, just the cute Lukas/Mikah shots.
A view of Jönköping and the lake from Stadsparken.
Mikah pointing at dinner? Nope, it's Mikah pointing at one of the stuffed birds in the bird museum, fålgel museum.
Lukas at one of several cases full of birds' eggs. He wondered a couple times how they got the baby birds out without cracking the shells.
Here is Lukas playing with a few authentic Swedish children at the park. This contraption involves filling a bucket full of sand, using a pulley system to then dump the sand in a slot that then empties out this end back into the sand pit.

This is a combination swing/merri-go-round. A kid sits on it, then is pushed round and round, high and low. Much fun. Lukas, then a bit later Mikah, kept screaming, "Mayday! Mayday!," all the while laughing.Here are the boys on a real merri-go-round.
Mikah sticking out the front end of a train tunnel.

We also went to a really cool museum downtown dedicated to the very well-known Swedish artist, John Bauer, famous for his paintings of trolls and giants and other fantastical Swedish icons.
Prince MikahTroll Lukas


Sweden 13c--Stockholm

I'll spare you pictures of the changing of the guard at that castle (it's just a lot of soldiers marching and playing music and more soldiers, etc. Really cool, but we've got better photos of Lukas and Mikah in Stockholm). Also, later I might go through all the pictures we've got and choose some Gamla Stan (Old Town) Stockholm because it is a beautiful place, but we've got too many and so I'd have to upload a ton of them and (according to Tina and my brother) I have a ton more to write. So I'll spare you that, too. Now, to the final Stockholm shots.This is one of the more famous alleyways in the city. At some points you can stretch out your arms and touch both sides of the alley.

In preparation for the first Sweden soccer (fotboll (no, I didn't just misspell the word in English, that's how it's spelled here in Sweden)) match in the Euro Cup 2008 (which they didn't win, by the way). For this game, though, they did get to release blue and yellow balloons after the match because they did win it.

6.20.2008

Sweden 13b--Stockholm

Here we are at Skansen, that sort of amusement park minus the rides, that was like a combination zoo and old old old house place.This is Mikah, trying to find a wolverine, which was rolled up into a little ball trying to sleep. Funny, it looked nothing like the comic book hero or the movie one. Though Mikah's kind of smiling.
Here's Mikah really smiling. I think in this shot we've found the seals, but they're doing nothing but sleeping. No bouncing balls on tips of noses, no barking, no nothing. But again, it's Mikah, and the kid's real cute.
This is morbro Thomas and the boys in front of a really old house. You can tell by the grass growing on the roof. Actually, this style of roof was common back in the day. It served a great many purposes like insulating the place and according to Lukas, a place to feed the family's goat if you ran out of grass on the regular ground. I would think a green thumb like Tina could grow a few rose bushes up there, too. Lesa, you might get Leslie to consider doing something like this to your all's farmhouse for his next project. I'll take pictures, if you want.A closeer shot of morbro and the boys in front of the same house.
As promised, the animals: here is a momma bear and her three cubs, only months old. All snoozing in the shade.So it's no wonder that the moose are taking in some zzzs too. It was such a nice day for it, too. We don't have a good picture of the baby moose that had been born only three days before our visit, but it was a cute one.
Here's a shot of Lukas and the peacock. Which one looks prouder, do you think?
This is not Mikah, or Lukas, or me. It's a giant rabbit. No lie, you can get a ton of meat off this bunny if you were going hungry and were so inclined.
And talk about sweet: this is Lukas eating cotton candy. Not as colorful or as thick as the stuff you'd get at the State Fair, but he had fun eating it. Mikah swept the park's grounds with his, to some Swedes' amusement.
And I'll finish this set with the boys and Tina on a canon looking over the city of Stockholm. And since Lukas is such a military buff, the kid was climbing every single one of them and making like he was shooting them. With the stories to go with the action, too. Mikah, like a good baby brother, followed suit, but wasn't as quick climbing.

6.17.2008

Sweden 13a--Stockholm

Sorry for the delay in updating. I know I've been slacking, but my days are numbered in Sweden. Tina and the boys will stay on a few more weeks, but I've got to get back to my teaching. This means that I'm not doing so much on the computer because we're doing last minute traveling (next on the list is a visit to Astrid Lindgren's Vimmerby. Growing up, without knowing it, one of my favorite writers was Lindgren, author of the Pippi Longstocking series of books for young readers. I'll post pictures of that trip, too.

But for now, let's get to Stockholm, the capital city of Sweden. some 4 1/2 to 5 hours north and east of Jönköping. By bus anyway. Which is the way we travelled. It was a very comfortable bus.Here are Lukas (sitting with his Aunt Maria (alternately Mia and Mimi), partially pictured) and Mikah and Tina. When we arrived in Stockholm, we made our way by subway to the southern part of the town to our hotel, Formule 1. The most inexpensive hotel, but very small, which isn't a problem because you learn to make due when travelling, except that there can only be three people to a room, two adults and one child, which was a problem for us since we're two adults and two children. We worked it out because we were travelling with three other adults, and between us all, we got it worked out. Oh, and if you don't much care for sharing showers and toilets with the rest of the folks on your floor, then this place ain't for you. Again, you make due, and we did. I'd stay there on my next trip. No problem.
On our first full day there, we decided to go catch some of the sights. On the way there, Lukas, a military buff even at his age just had to have his photo taken in front of this British ship. Funny thing, the Swedish Coast Guard was out en force. Why, we don't exactly know, but it was fun to see this monster ship being kept watch over by the Swedes.

Then came a short ferry trip over to a museum for a ship that sunk in the harbor on its maiden voyage back in the 1650s. Something to do with not enough ballast. But in the 1950s, archeologist/shipwreck specialist Anders Franzén located the Vasa, the sunken warship, and after years of labor, in 1961 the ship again found the light of day. For a walk through the history of the ship, its recovery, and its continued conservation, visit http://www.vasamuseet.se/.
This is the museum from the ferry. It's actually a pretty large space because the ship itself is completely in tact and housed herein. Now, the lighting inside is conservation-friendly but not so digital camera-friendly, so we didn't get that many blog-worthwhile shots. For those, Google pictures of the Vasa ship, or simply visit the site above.
Lukas in front of a replica, obviously not to scale, for those of you wondering. Even so, this model is cool.
Among the few parts of the ship on display that are not entirely original are all things rope. The Baltic was just not kind to the hemp.
The artwork all along the sides, the front, and the back of the ship is just that, artwork, and all of it serves to tell the story of Sweden and King Gustav Vasa, who commissioned the ship.
Between the two ships, you'll see Lukas. This is a model of a battle between the Swedes and the Danes. Sorry, I don't have the history of this display, but look it up yourself if you're that interested. I gave you the museum's website address after all.
This picture is not of me after all the eating I've done, Leslie Reed. It is of two of the biggest pigs I've ever seen. They're kept on a natural park/zoo/museum called Skansen, much like Lubbock's own Ranching Heritage Museum in that there are buildings that span the nation's history. They also keep many of the native animals and flora. I'll write more tomorrow. But I wanted to tease you with this shot. There'll be more animals, including a three-day-old moose, bear cubs, a peacock that nearly scared Lukas out of his shoes, and more. So come back.

6.13.2008

Sweden 12c--Halmstad (the video)

This is a short clip of Tina following after Mikah with some seaweed. Once more, no child was injured during the filming of this event. Interestingly, though he didn't much care for it on this day, the following he actually was okay with the seaweed, which he calls "monster" in the video.
video

Sweden 12c--Halmstad

First, I stand corrected: the literal meaning of Halmstad is Straw City, according to the misspelling and grammatically incorrect Anonymous (also known as TAP). Second, here are some shots of our trip to the beach (and I'll tell you what, the water was cold; I know, I sat in it for close to ten minutes trying to see if it or I would warm up, and no go).Mikah with his pail and shovels on the beach.
Lukas, a natural at any beach, beginning with South Padre Island in deep South Texas when he first visited as a baby.
Check it out: they've also got mini-golf in Sweden. Though here you're not allowed to walk on the playing area. You manage your stroke however way you can from the sides.
Though you might not be able to see it from this angle, Mikah was the consumate player. He'd focus hard, so hard in fact that, like Michael Jordan used to do, Mikah stuck his tongue out before every shot.
And this is a friend of Thomas', Måns (note the correction: I still can't spell in Swedish; sorry, Måns). He did wonders with the boys. You'll notice the pinkish tone to his skin. Both he and Thomas opted out of using the baby sun tan lotion when Tina first offered it to them, which they used the following day.
And here is Thomas. Don't be fooled by what appear to be multi-colored swim trunks. That's the style here: the cool guys wear their trunks on top of their underwear, then let them hang. I was not among the cool guys. And Thomas says that try as he might, he can't tighten the waist on his trunks, and so he's not trying to be stylish, really.
Anonymous in Dubai: can you make out this picture? I did a horrible job of taking a picture of the cottage, but I only remembered to do this as we were pulling out of the sand driveway. With several of us there (morfar, morfar, Tina, Lukas, Mikah, me, Maria, Thomas, and Mänz) we still managed. But one night, my mother-in-law tried sleeping in the van. Sometime during the night, there was, according to Maria (my sister-in-law, whose luggage didn't arrive with her, and was delivered a few days later, right before our trip to Stockholm), a loud knocking on the door, which she initially thought was the result of a drunk having lost his way and thinking he'd been locked out of his own cottage. Really, it was my mother-in-law coming back in because it got cold; "chilled to the bone" is how she described herself.
And finally, from this trip, for the '64 Ford Galaxie aficionados (the very car pictured on the cover of my latest novel, The Whole Sky Full of Stars, to your right and up a bit (I know, I know, shameless self-promotion, but I've got to sell the book any way I can)): taken from our own moving vehicle, a shot of a green and rusting all-American classic.

Sweden 12b--Various and Sundry

This is Thomas, catching some shade at Texabo, the family farm (you know the place--that's right, the very same where I've been working). This is from the church picnic two Sundays ago.
From the same picnic, here are a few of the boys from church and ours: left to right--Lukas, Fredrik, Mikah, and Kevin. If you're careful about studying this picture, you'll notice that I'm not the only brown-skinned, dark-haired person in all of Sweden.
A couple days after the picnic: it is customary for family members to pay rent on cemetery plots and to keep them up with flowers. Here you've got Morfar (Swedish for maternal grandfather, literally, a child's mother's father's) putting is an array of flowers on Tina's granddad, grandmom, and Aunt Ingrid's plot. Also pictured are Lukas and Mikah, and Mormor.
This is Lukas standing in front of a rune stone at Roberga Kyrka. According to the plate describing it, the stone was erected in honor of his uncle.
Same rune stone, with Lukas tracing some of the letters, and Mikah most likely trying to figure out the best way of knocking it over.

Sweden 12a

The following comes to us from Russell Raymer's magic computer. See what all a guy can do if he sets his mind to it and applies himself! He must not have anything else to do but spend time in front of a screen. Can you guess which of the two figures he manipulated?