Thursday, May 31

Day 152: A Hug So Hard it Almost Hurts

You know that excitement when you plan something far in advance and you have to wait and wait for the day to arrive? Time seems to stand still and it seems like the thing you are waiting for remains far in the distance. Well, that day has finally come. This anticipation has been gnawing at me for months now. It is like the final spring blossom that you've watched and watched, waiting for it to burst open, and suddenly it's just there! Showing all it's glory to the world.

We have some friends coming from Texas to visit us for a couple of weeks and they arrive today. In fact the plane should be landing in just over an hour. So exciting! I am sitting here at work, trying not to watch the clock. Just a couple more hours and I can scurry home on my bike, hopefully without getting rained on. The weather man predicted scattered showers today around the time I will be commuting home and I'm counting on them being scattered elsewhere at that time.

My father-in-law sometimes tells my husband on the phone, "give your wife a hug from me and hug her so hard, it almost hurts." Sometimes when I get excited with the anticipation of seeing friends I haven't seen in a while I do just that. As you can see from the photo below, I started this practice early. I am the one in the yellow dress, if you were uncertain. I was so excited to see my friend I would run to her and squeeze her tightly. She says she used to cringe in anticipation of my hugs because she knew one was coming. And it hurt. It's supposed to hurt, silly. Well, that is how hard I want to hug our friends who are coming today.

Wednesday, May 30

Day 151: Kayaking Fun

Sleep makes me happy. When I get enough of it anyway. This morning I woke up feeling like I'd been run over by a truck. Someone, and I won't say who, was bouncing in the bed and making noise at three a.m. It woke me up and I couldn't get back to sleep. (Hint: it wasn't kitty, though the "ghost" tried to blame it on her). But I guess 'll let it slide this time. The "ghost" more than made up for it in the story below.

So tonight I will have my very, first, kayaking experience on Swedish waters. I signed up for a nybörjars kurs, or beginners class, back in April hoping that it would be warm enough by the time the class rolled around. What exactly is warm enough? For me it would mean balmy, eighty-degree, Fahrenheit temperatures, with a water temperature of about the same. In Sweden? Dream on, right? Now I'm just hoping it doesn't rain.

When I left my apartment this morning on my bicycle, it was a "balmy" forty-nine, degrees Fahrenheit. They say it should warm up to a high of sixty-degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon. And at the coldest it looks like it will get down to fifty degrees at the height of my class. Then I'll ride my bike home, though hopefully not wet! I will probably need a hot shower either way.

Lucky for me, and possibly the happiest thought for today however, is the fact that my wonderful husband is going to ride out to my class to meet me, wait while I learn how to paddle and then ride home with me. He must be the world's greatest husband, you are probably thinking. Well you are right!

Later on...

My kayaking course was a huge success. It didn't rain and none of us fell out of our kayaks into the water. I learned lots of great techniques and by the end I am pretty sure I reached professional status. Okay, maybe not really but I was definitely comfortable on the water and not terribly afraid of falling in, other than becoming colder. Yes, it was cold but I feel a sense of achievement. Two years ago, heck even one year ago I would never have taken a kayaking course with temperatures in the fifties. Guess I've become Swed-ish.

Having my husband there was a plus in several ways. My kayaking instructor loved his cargo bike, which scored me lots of points, he took some great photos of me in action and he kept me company and provided moral support on the ride home, when I was dead tired. Yay husband! Yay kayaking! And now, yay sleep! (Hopefully)

Here I go... forgot to mention that I saw a HUGE beaver on my way back in from our kayaking tour. It looked like a person in a beaver costume... Too bad I didn't get a photo!

In action...

Someone took a break on the way to meet me and found a pretty field...

Tuesday, May 29

Day 150: Bring Your A Game

Speaking of fun and games, my husband and his friends used to play a game with the brunnslock or manhole covers when they were kids. Some of the covers have an "A" on them and some have a "K". The "A" meant bad luck and you weren't supposed to stand or walk on them. If you did, you or someone else, had to pat you on the back three times to break the spell of bad luck.

The ones with the "K" however meant good luck. K stands for kärlek, which means love in Swedish. There is a cover with a "K" by my office so I step on it everyday that I pass it. Intentionally. Sometimes I even jump up and down on it for good measure. You never know, right?

After I became privy to the rules of this game it became impossible to walk down the street and step on one of the "A" covers without quickly patting myself on the back three times. If I start to think, "nah, I'm not playing anymore." I suddenly feel panic and the fear of bad luck gets beaten out of me, three times in a row.

Since I recently started riding my bike, stepping on the K's and avoiding the A's has become difficult. Sometime I roll over two or three of the covers in a row with A's on them. It gets hard to constantly pat myself on the back (no pun intended!) repeatedly so I've added a rule for cycling. If there is tire rubber between me and the cover, it doesn't count. Convenient, right? I think it's fair and there is no guilt involved.

I love keeping traditions such as these alive. It makes me happy to picture my husband running around barefoot as a boy, jumping on the love covers and avoiding the ones that impart bad luck like the plague. It may be a silly child's game to some but it is something simple and fun that keeps me young at heart. I dare you to walk down the street in Sweden and step on an "A" cover without patting yourself three times on the back.

One we came across in Gothenburg when I was just learning about this magical game.

This one by my office gets a lot of action. I wonder if anyone has seen me jumping on it and thought, "There's that crazy lady again."

This one is just cool. I like how it's tucked into the cobblestones.

Monday, May 28

Day 149: Good, Cheap Fun

They say that laughter is the best medicine and I tend to agree. Nothing cheers me up or makes me feel better than a good laugh. Yesterday a friend sent me a joke via text message, only I didn't realize it was a joke and I answered the question honestly. It went like this:

Her: "How much does a hipster weigh?" (I just wrote about my new hipster phone pouch so I thought she meant that)

Me: "You mean the pouch? Pretty light-weight. 1 oz :-)"

Her "An instagram!"

Me: "Huh? What's an instagram?" (What I meant was, "What does that have to do with how much a hipster weighs?")

Her: "Haha, it's a joke! A hipster is one of those super hip people on söder (where I live) and instagram is the iPhone app that makes photos look retro!"

Me: (Dying on the floor laughing now... )

I am truly a dork.

One of the things that I have recently become addicted to is this drawing game called Drawsomething. It is played with partners and each turn you are given a choice of three words to draw, of varying degrees of difficulty, and then your opponent receives a notification that you have drawn something. They then click to watch and they watch you draw the picture and then try to guess what it is from the selection of letters at the bottom of the screen. It is completely addicting and it provides some great laughs. Now if you are one of my Drawsomthing opponents, please do not take offense but some of the pictures are masterworks of laughing material. I have taken liberty to copy a few and I've cropped them to spare the artist any embarrassment. Who knows? Some of them may be mine!

This is what I call good, cheap fun. There is nothing better really. The best things in life are free, right? I'll let you all guess what they are...

Sunday, May 27

Day 148: A Good Sore

What a weekend. We road our bikes hard, we worked hard and we slept hard. My husband recently bought a cargo bicycle and he's been itching to ride it so we decided to take it for a test spin yesterday. We road out to Bromma to a super store called XXL, which sells outdoorsy gear and clothing at discounted prices. I had bought a pair of hiking boots online and thought I needed a different size so that was our main reason for the trip. Well, we each ended up leaving with an additional pair of shoes, in addition to the ones I brought to exchange, and I also managed to find a swimsuit. There were also some fun, red, rain boots that wanted to go home with me but I could not justify three pairs of shoes in one day. The rain boots would have to wait.

Afterward we headed next door to pick up some cat food at the pet, super store, Zoo. Twenty pounds later and after a quick bite to eat, we were on our way home with a forty-minute bike ride ahead of us. The time and distance was not the issue however. The issue was that no matter what route we took it would be up and down hills and through the city to get back home. We were completely wiped out when it was all said and done. After picking up a quick ice cream to reward ourselves, we showered and were in bed by nine p.m. On a Saturday night. What can I say? We are low-maintenance weekenders.

Today we had another cargo-bike adventure planned. So after popping a couple of Advil, we headed out again. This time to the plant nursery to get some, new, spiffy plants for our balcony. I wanted something exotic and unique and had been eying some gorgeous, Japanese maples but finding an assortment that worked well with them was a chore and finally my husband went to sit in the shade while I figured it out. I passed several options by him and we finally left with a happy medium. Again, a forty-minute ride home, up and down hills and through the city. By the time we made it home we were sore to say the least. But it is a good sore and we have a lot to show for all of our hard work. See for yourselves...

The husband and his cargo baby... the clockwork orange Bullit. It's pretty rad.

Our little (curious) helper... Kitty don't eat those! That's not cat grass!

The finished product. Not too shabby...

And saving the best for last... my beloved Marimekko vaxduk (oilcloth) table cloth and our lovely balcony, flower boxes... refreshed and renewed!

Saturday, May 26

Day 147: Progress

Flowers and plants do not have to strive to be a certain way. They just are. They grow in their own time allowing nature to take care of them, just as the sun rises and sets each day. I doubt they ever worry if they will look okay after they bloom and they probably never wonder if they will still look bright and pretty tomorrow. And I'm sure that they never regret that they opened yesterday instead of today, or vice versa. Nature just is. Growth and death continue to happen without any help from us. I am talking about the ease with which nature and the natural world exist.

Why can't I be more trusting in my own life? Granted life has to be planned somewhat. I have to go to work, buy groceries, cook and plan for my future but things like birth and death follow a natural course, just as plants and trees and flowers live and die in their own natural course. We have no control over when we come into this life and when we exit it. 

One of my best friends is expecting a baby and she just found out yesterday that she is having a girl. I am so happy and excited for her and her husband. A couple of months ago I would have cried after hearing this news but after we spoke yesterday I felt a genuine happiness for her, and for myself and I did not cry. I began this blog in hopes that it would help me to see the positive in every day, particularly the positive in my life. To not fret over the fact that we have not yet been able to have a child. I want to feel and be happy no matter what happens. I am tired of worrying about the effects of everything I do, of not drinking coffee or drinking coffee, of eating this or not eating that, of taking certain vitamins and supplements or just worrying in general over whether or not it will happen. I am letting go and allowing nature to unfold as it will.

Look at these beautiful flowers in the photos below. They are not worried about a thing. I took these photos over the course of the last month and the flowers look beautiful each step of the way. I may not be completely at peace with the fact that I have not yet been able to have a baby but I am slowly becoming more and more accepting of it and less sad. I am trying to avoid the view that it is "not fair." It just is. And seeing it this way is definitely progress. There are so many things to be happy about in my life. Yes, not having a baby when you really want to have one of your own is difficult to accept, but it is not all there is to life. Today I am thankful for the gift of flowers. That they show me each day, each season what it means to trust in life's natural process.

Friday, May 25

Day 146: "Lilacs are my Rhubarb"

Everyone has a thing that makes them happy or cheers them up. For some of my friends that thing is chocolate. Or a glass of red wine. For my husband it usually is his computer and the Internet. When I am having a really, tough day the thing that cheers me up the most is going for a walk and being out in nature. It is always better if the weather is nice. But even it it is not particularly nice, a walk does the trick. The sunshine, fresh air and other outdoor elements do something that alters my brain. It is like they seep into my skin and give me a fresh, new perspective. I always feel more relaxed and refreshed. Sometimes I even find some inspiration.

Yesterday a friend of mine sent me a message asking if I had any happy to share. She was having a rough morning and having a hard time finding her happy. She'd had taken a nasty spill on her bicycle that morning on her way to work. She was okay but it had put her in a funk and she was having a hard time shaking it off. I told her that sometimes you have to just appease the [grumpy] monster and go have an ice cream and sit in the sun. There is not much that cannot be fixed with ice cream and sunshine. I'd say especially ice cream, but then I'd also have to say especially sunshine. They pretty much both work.

Not too long after I received her first message, she sent me this lovely photo of blooming lilacs that she'd come across durning her lunch break. She picked sunshine as her quick, happy fix. "Lilacs are my rhubarb," she told me in a text message. You all know how I feel about rhubarb so that means she REALLY likes lilacs. I can see why. Look at how gorgeous and cheerful they are. And their scent is intoxicating. She said it was surprising to see how many people stopped to smell them as they walked by. I pass a huge bush of lilacs on my way up that mean hill that I have to go up to get to my office. You know, that mördarbacke that has tried to kill me every day this week as I attempted to beat it on my bicycle? I won today by the way. Such a good feeling. 

Slightly altered in Instagram with the filter amaro.

The original in all its beauty... Thank you my sweet friend for sharing your lilac happy with me!

Thursday, May 24

Day 145: Hipster Pouch

I just want to start of with saying that I road my bike to work today for the fourth day in a row. Fours days may not seem like much but for me it was a great feat. The past couple of weeks I've ridden my bike to work but only a couple of days out of the week. It was partly due to the weather but I can't blame it entirely on that. But before you congratulate me I need to come clean. As I started out today my legs felt like lead. I figured they just needed to warm up but after ten minutes they still felt heavy and I felt like I was hauling bricks. By the time I was almost to work they were not really working so hard to get me up that last, murderous hill (mördarbacke in Swedish) where my office sits. I tried but I must sadly admit that I gave in and walked my bike up the rest of the way. This was after telling my husband just yesterday that it was starting to get easier to ride up the hills. Ha. Well, at least I was on my bike, right? I can happily say however that on my ride home I managed to ride up all of the hills. And I even passed a few people. That's good, right?

So anyway, today I became a hipster. Okay, maybe that is a stretch but I succumbed to a hipster purchase. I bought a hipster pouch for my iPhone. It is actually quite handy and if it weren't so overly hip I'd venture to say that it is an ultra, practical way to carry my iPhone. It is basically a leather pouch with a thin, leather strap that you wear around your neck. It's kind of like a mini purse that's just for your iPhone. (If it wasn't so hip I'd have to just call it plain cute) I recently started carrying a backpack as my handbag and if I am not wearing a jacket with pockets or pants with large enough pockets, it is a bit of a pain to constantly take my bag off of my back to check my phone for messages, take a photo (because I am snap happy) or answer a call. Not that I can ever hear it ring anyway but whatever! My cool, new, hipster pouch will be a great alternative. And it's sexy, don't you think?

Made in Sweden...

And I'm... so sexy in my pouch...

Wednesday, May 23

Day 144: Thank You for Riding Your Bike

Fifty thousand cyclists. That is how many people ride their bicycles to work, school or wherever in Stockholm's inner city. Pretty impressive, right? Do you recall my post a couple of weeks ago (Day 128: Morning Commute and Summer Anticipation) when I said that I passed probably a hundred or more cyclists on my way to work one morning? I actually counted cyclists on my way home that day. I passed two hundred and fifteen people, including myself. And that was just people ON bicycles. I saw probably twice that many bicycles parked and waiting for their owners. The following morning I counted four hundred and fifteen cyclists on my way to work. This is just on one route. I take different routes depending on my mood and I pass hundreds of happy people on bicycles regardless of the route I take. It is utterly amazing.

Over the weekend while we were eating breakfast. Okay brunch, but anyway my husband saw in the newspaper that the city of Stockholm would be handing out gifts to anyone riding their bicycle on Wednesday (today) at specific locations, one of which was on my current route. Presents? I love presents! As you can imagine I was one of those cyclists this morning. I figured it being a free gift, being handed out to nearly fifty thousand people, it would probably not be a handmade, ceramic coffee mug or hand knit scarf, but how fun to be appreciated for doing something I love. I road down to the spot, which was actually directly on the cycling path, and folks were standing on both sides of the path saying, "Tack för att du cycklar," as they handed out goodie bags. The phrase means "thank you for riding your bike."

You are welcome Stockholm. What a cool city I live in. I mean in the winter it is literally "cool" to put it mildly and in the summer it is just plain awesome to live here. When the sun is shining and it is warm out it is such a glorious place to be. You see nearly everyone out and about, enjoying the sun, having picnics in the parks, riding their bicycles or just sitting with their faces directed toward the shining sun. It's lovely. This time of year it seems pretty easy to be happy and positive all of the time. But it's not for free. As my husband says, "You have to earn your summers here." Right now, that feels okay but I'll get back to you on that next winter.

My free gift... a cycling map for Stockholm, coupons for discounts on cycling accessories, a cycling magazine and a cool, microfiber towel in a pouch that you can carry with you. Not bad.

Gamla Stan, the old town, has a specialty bike shop and they were there to help with your bicycle if you needed it. I love the old truck. 

Tuesday, May 22

Day 143: Silliness Perfectly Captured

"Be silly, be honest, be kind" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

What an awesome quote by Mr. Emerson. Three things that definitely stand high on my list of important qualities, and I am pretty sure he got the order right. Silly should always come first, in my opinion. If a person cannot be silly then chances are that person is not my friend.

I have a fond memory of being silly that went a little off the track and became both painful and hilarious at the same time. This was when I lived in Los Angeles back in the 90's. In the 90's. That sounds funny to say. But there I was with a dear friend of mine, off on a hiking adventure in Griffith park. With our cameras in tow of course. We had many adventures in Griffith park that summer, hiking, being silly and coming up with crazy nicknames for each other, that I will not repeat here.

This one particular day we were just setting off on our hike and we thought it would be fun to take some action photos. She said, "Come over here and pretend you are climbing this wall and I'll make it look like you are scaling up the mountain." OK, cool. The photo actually did look like I was climbing the mountain, or rather scaling the mountain. Afterward I said, "Oh! Come over here and pretend you are climbing this tree." The tree went straight up and we decided it would be really cool if she ran from a distance and jumped onto the tree. I would try to catch the photo as she landed on the tree, like a monkey.

So off she went, me with my camera ready. It wasn't until she was in the air that she realized that there were some rather large, spiky thorns sticking out ALL OVER the tree. It was too late. I snapped the photo because that was the plan but as I snapped it I saw the look of utter surprise on her face. It was one of those moments that go in slow motion but you can't do anything to alter the outcome. She tried to stop herself before she landed on the tree but she still ended up scraping up both of her hands.

We cried and laughed so hard I think several drops of pee came out. The photo, in case you are wondering, came out brilliantly, though this was before the digital age and we had to wait until I finished my roll of film and had the photos developed. It is probably one of the funniest photos I have ever taken. Unfortunately I have no idea where it is right now.

Silliness perfectly captured. It is the absolute best. My husband and I have started a tradition where we finding the most hideous/bad/funny/silly photos of each other and use them to make birthday cards etc. One year I printed out probably thirty or more of these rejected photos of him and pasted them all over his birthday presents. It was a huge hit.

It's good to be able to laugh at yourself. Like the famous saying by Ella Wheeler Wilcox goes, "Laugh and the world laughs with you." I try to laugh as much as possible. When I get old I hope that I have lots of laughing lines on my face.

Monday, May 21

Day 142: Pinbag

My husband bought a web camera some years ago after his house was broken into and he had several bicycles stolen. Yes, I said several. He sort of collects them. Bikes, that is. But anyway that is another story. So the webcam was installed and always on after that. Our friends who house sat for us knew it was there and they would wave some times and pick up our cat, Clove, and wave his paw at us. The house was never broken into again, thank goodness, but the webcam became a sort of tool for watching our cat, or rather hoping to catch a glimpse of our cat, when were were traveling for work or pleasure.

Fast forward to Stockholm two years later and the webcam has been sitting disconnected on a shelf in our living room since we moved in. Then we got a cat. I asked my husband, "Can we use that webcam here in Stockholm?" It was probably a silly question but I am not gadget friendly so it seemed like a logical question to me, given that many electronics cannot be used internationally without specific transformers etc. I don't remember if he had a smarty pants reply but most likely he did. Regardless the webcam was up and running in no time and soon we were sitting at work spying on our cat at home.

In the beginning she was no where to be found until the afternoon. Apparently she had a routine. Somewhere else during the morning hours and then couch surfing in the afternoon. Nearly every day we would be able to catch at least a glimpse of one ear or the top of her back as she slept curled up in a ball. Sometimes we saw the whole kitty. She was pretty curious about the camera too. One day we saw the edge of her little head sniffing the camera. She was on the shelf with the webcam! Have I mentioned that she is very curious? When we are logged in remotely on our computers at work there is the option to move the camera up and down or side to side. As the camera moves it makes a soft, whirring sound and her keen ears perk up and she often looks up at the camera. Clever kitty.

Except today. She was sound asleep and didn't budge. But before I start on another subject let me add that it was maybe a month or so ago that she first started climbing up into one of our bean bag chairs and claiming it as her own. She sleeps there and when I say "sleeps", I mean she sleeps, stretches, does kitty yoga and even circus contortions. She is an endless source of entertainment in that bean bag, that has since been nicknamed the "Pinbag."

Sometimes days and even weeks go by and I forget to login to the webcam from work to see what she is up to. Today I remembered and when I logged in, there she was, all curled up and sleeping in a ball. Every thirty or so minutes I would look at the webpage to see what she was doing and each time she was sleeping in a different position. Her final position was something like the photo below. She never ceases to put a smile on my face. Our little Pina cat.

This pinbag is soooo comfortable...

I really like lying here and watching TV with my mom and dad...

I'm actually on the couch in this one but I am just so cute she couldn't resist posting it!

Did you say something? I was just sleeping with my tail in a loop...

I am very graceful and ladylike... but this weird, bird thing is sticking to my tongue.

Sunday, May 20

Day 141: A Successful Project Completed

Finishing projects is something that is truly happy dance worthy. Especially when the project drags on and on and you begin to wish you'd never started it. That is until it is finished and you get to reap the benefits and see all of your hard work and ideas come to fruition. A while back I decided to paint over the wallpaper in the guest bedroom. I was given free license to choose a color and had my heart set on a sage green or pumpkin color. Unfortunately the various, green swatches I brought home did not go well with the color already on the other walls and it was nearly impossible to find the shade of pumpkin that I had in mind. I finally decided on cappuccino, which is sort of a taupe shade. I have had the paint for a few weeks now and finally during this long, holiday weekend I managed to get the room prepped for painting, with the help of my wonderful husband. The paint job turned out even better than I expected and it is a great relief to finally have it completed.

A few weeks ago we put in the desk, which I might add also looks fabulous. Originally I wanted a stand alone desk that could be moved if need be. My husband had suggested mounting a desk top in the cubby space by the window but I was not thrilled with the idea. What if we wanted to take the desk out at some point? Then there would be holes in the wall to repair. I resisted his idea until I finally saw a photo of a desk similar to what he had described. It looked fantastic. I guess I couldn't picture it before but I really liked the idea after that and gave him the green light to move forward.

Now all that is left is to hang some art and put up shelves. Hanging our art will be fairly easy and will probably happen rather quickly. The shelves however may take some time. We have a specific thing in mind. We want to mount cube shelves in a stacked and staggered pattern and we have yet to find what we are looking for. So those will be left for a future happy dance. For now, I will bask in the happy glow of a successful project completed. See for yourselves...

Repainted wall...

New built-in desk...

Before photo, which was actually taken before we moved in back in January 2010. I did not have a more recent before photo but this shows the wall paper before I painted over it...

Saturday, May 19

Day 140: Loppis

You never know what you are going to come across when you go out for a run so it is my recommendation that you always bring your ID, a bank card and a little cash. At the very least, take some cash. I decided that today was the day I would attempt to start running again. I started a couple of months ago and had a very, difficult time with cramping in my lower legs. I would have to stop every few minutes to stretch and allow the muscles to relax before beginning again. It would take ten to fifteen minutes of this before I could run without stopping because of the pain. This was all after warming up before my run. I finally just gave up.

Today I began again. I started out with twice as many stretches and warm up exercises as I had done before and it actually worked quite well. I did stop a few times to walk but I am allowing myself to do running with walking intervals until I build up and condition my running muscles more. I think running is a great exercise because you can do it virtually anywhere. You don't need a bicycle or a swimming pool. Just your running shoes and some workout clothes. I have to admit however that I do not love running. In fact it is my most unfavorite form of exercise. I love to walk, I enjoy swimming and, of course, riding my bike is top on the list. So why do I feel it necessary to run?

When I was in my early twenties I read a book called No Ordinary Moments. I came across a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt in the book - "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." It has stuck with me through the years. In the book the author talks about working out and doing exercises that we feel we cannot do, or that we are not good at, to become stronger and overcome our thinking that we cannot do a certain thing. For me that thing is running. So I am doing the thing I think I cannot do. I normally stink at running but today wasn't bad.

Anyway, once I'd decided I was done with my run for the day, I was a good, twenty-minute walk from home. I cut through a parking lot on my way to Hornsgatan, the street where we live, and out of the corner of my eye I spotted a Loppis! In English that means flea market, though when I got around the building to take in the whole thing it was more of a multi-family, yard sale. Still, I love finding hidden treasures at these sales.

From across the way I spotted it. An antique, red, metal, bread box! With a hinged lid! My husband would kill me but I had to have it. As I got closer I saw that the woman had kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) inside it. Hmmmm. Maybe it was not for sale. I asked her if she was selling it and she said yes. Only eighty Swedish kronors (approximately ten dollars). She said she'd hold it for me while I ran to the ATM. Because I had my bank card with me, but NO CASH. Hence my opening recommendation to take some cash with you when you go out for a run.

If my husband doesn't like it I can always use it as a craft box. Just this morning he said that I needed a box for my art stuff. I love how the universe provides at just the perfect moment. I walked into the apartment and exclaimed, "I found happy! Come look!" He was not quite as excited as me. But he laughed and that's how I know he liked it. Just think, if I had not decided to go for a run today I would have missed finding happy today.

Isn't it fabulous?!

I have a thing for metal boxes with hinged lids. 

Friday, May 18

Day 139: The Small Touches

It's the small touches that make all the difference. There must be hundreds of cafes in Stockholm. All serve smörgåsar (sandwiches), kaffe (coffee) and tårtor (cakes). Yet many are one stop places for me. Meaning I will try them once but most likely I will never go back. It isn't that they are particularly bad, though some are, but if it isn't a wow in my book I seldom want to return there with my pocketbook. Some however, warrant the multiple return visit. These cafes are the ones that do that little something extra, go the extra mile, to create an experience and not just a stop for coffee and a snack.

Take the cafe we visited today, Skåningen Kaffebar. It is a tiny space but they have designed the interior for maximum comfort and enjoyment. There is a narrow bar across the front window with bar stools where you can sit and watch the happenings outdoors. There is also a lovely red and white striped awning over the outside area which gives the cafe a retro feel. And being located on Södermalm (the Berkeley of Sweden) there are usually plenty of fun sights to see. Pretty much anything goes on Södermalm. We happen to live on Södermalm as well. Go figure.

Many of the cafes now make pretty, swirly designs in the foam on top of your cappuccino or latte but the heart design in my latte today stayed put even until the end (See bottom photo). And of course, the design being a heart didn't hurt either, given my love for hearts (see my post from Day 45). The sandwich was not served in a heart shape like this but I could not resist. My eyes looked at the sandwich with one half propped up again the other half and they automatically saw a heart shape. Hopeless romantic, maybe?

The clincher was the sandwich. There was the freshly, ground, black pepper on the OUTSIDE of the bread. I'm not even kidding. The bread must have been buttered, peppered and then grilled like that to make the pepper stick to the outside. I have to say it was the first time I have had pepper on the outside of my sandwich. Like I said at the beginning, it is the small touches that make all the difference. It was the kind of experience that made me moan while I chewed. As you can see from the bottom photo, everything was good to the last drop/crumb.

Sitting at the bar with my bike helmet in the background. Across the street is a second-hand store. Always fun to watch the action there.

A lovely latte with a foam heart. <3

My "toast," or grilled sandwich, placed by me into a heart shape. Pretty cute, right?

Good to the last drop...

Thursday, May 17

Day 138: Marmalade

"I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It's amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor" - D.H. Lawrence

After I transferred to the University of California at Berkeley in 2000 I went through a flurry of headaches. I think I had one every single day for an entire month, maybe longer. During that time I ended up going to the doctor for something unrelated and somehow during the visit my headaches came up. My doctor was concerned and asked me many questions. She didn't think I was having migraines based on my description of the headaches and suggested that I meet with a stress counselor. She explaining that sometimes we don't realize we are stressed when we in fact are. If nothing else it couldn't hurt to try it.

So I went. I am a fairly open-minded person and thought, "Why not?" It was actually quite interesting. The counselor offered me a cup of herbal tea at the start of our first session, mentioning that she discouraged consumption of caffeine for stress therapy. At the time I was not drinking coffee or consuming caffeine so it was fine with me. Some years before I had quit drinking coffee as an experiment, thinking that it may be contributing to my headaches. Later I found out from a neurologist that I have migraines, which, if you do not know, are different from regular headaches and in fact are much worse. Anyway, I told the counselor that I did not feel particularly stressed but we started talking about my experience thus far at the university.

I don't remember everything we talked about but what has stuck with me were her suggestions to make an effort to do things during the day that I enjoyed doing to balance out school life. Things that made me happy and things that perhaps I had let fall by the wayside with the sudden homework and study load and the newness of my recent move from Los Angeles. I mentioned that I enjoyed being out in nature and that I loved to exercise outdoors so one of my assignments was to take some time every day to go for a walk out in nature. My walk to and from school did not count. It had to be time set aside just to go walk and enjoy my surroundings. It could be fifteen minutes, thirty minutes or an hour or more. Whatever I felt was appropriate for me. There was plenty of beautiful nature in and around Berkeley so it was not a difficult task.

The bottom line was to find something that I enjoyed doing, that made me feel happy, and make the time for that in my life. Plan it into my daily calendar. It is funny how easily we can allow ourselves to stop doing the things that make us happy. It can be as simple as reading a book before bedtime, going for a morning walk or giving yourself a face mask on Saturday mornings. Something simple that shows you taking the time to care for yourself. The quote at the beginning of this post reminded me of that. Simple things like making marmalade are often the things that cheer us up the most. It is essentially the zen art of cooking. You completely immerse yourself in the task of cooking and all other thoughts and stresses melt away. Today I roasted some pecans and pumpkin seeds while preparing food to take to a friends barbecue. The nuts and seeds will go into the granola I am going to make tomorrow. Mmmmm. (That I am going to eat with some vanilla, rhubarb yogurt that I bought yesterday. Yes, I said rhubarb).

What is your "marmalade?"

Wednesday, May 16

Day 137: Nine Lives

If kitties really have nine lives does that mean that we could essentially have the same cat (in different bodies of course) throughout our lifetime? The other day I picked up Pina Bausch, Pina for short, and while I was holding her I got the sense that my previous cat, Clove, was nearby. I looked her in the eyes and asked, "Are you really Clove?" She just blinked at me. I guess I will never know for sure and it is probably a completely silly idea but I kind of like it.

Our pets become our families. There is a thick bond that develops between us humans and our furry friends and it can be difficult to let go of them when they leave us to go to animal heaven. Clove was my orange tabby and he was a great, little guy. He adopted me in the summer of 1994 and was with me until the fall of 2009. He was one adventurous cat. We moved from Texas to California and then back to Texas and he was a trooper through it all.

After having him for so long it was hard to think of getting another kitty once he was gone. We lost my husbands kitty, Kiki, just a couple of years before Clove left us and we missed them dearly. Both my husband and I felt that we needed the time to heal and be ready to allow another furry monster to steal our hearts. Then suddenly this past December I was ready. A couple of our Swedish friends were trying to find a home for their kitty, Viggo, who had been living with one of their parents. The parents were getting older and were having a more difficult time taking care of the kitty and our friends felt it was time to find Viggo another home.

My husband wanted Viggo. We were both a bit apprehensive. He was an older cat and we had pictured getting a kitten the next time we decided to have a kitty again. But the decision was made and we were excited to welcome him into our home. The weekend he was to come our friends called to say that it was not going to happen after all. Her father was not about to let Viggo go. We were disappointed but suddenly we were excited at the prospect of getting a new kitty.

Fast forward a couple of months and Pina was moving in. When we first met her my husband thought she was shifty. And she probably was a bit but I loved her from the start. When we would discipline her she would go hide under the red cabinet. We let her be. Mostly anyway. I tried coaxing her out and would lay with my head under the red cabinet, trying to convince her that she would have more fun if she came out.

Tomorrow it will be officially four months since she came to live with us and she has really come out of her shell. She sleeps with us, climbs her scratching-post tree like a wild monkey and runs around the house after she goes to the litter box like a crazy cat. She is one of the cutest and funniest cats I have ever had. I don't know if kitties are reincarnated or not but if they are then Snow White, Jinx, Ferris, Priscilla, Joshua Benedict Streubenguss, Onödan, Clove, Kiki and Pina Bausch have had one long, wonderful life. It's a happy thought none-the-less.

Tuesday, May 15

Day 136: Food Happy

From the moment I woke up this morning I felt that it was going to be a rough day. And by rough I mean that I knew I was going to be fighting a headache ALL DAY. Those of you who get migraines will know what I mean. Sometimes you can just tell that the headache is not going to go away. No matter what you do, you just have to ride it out until it is finished with you. I suppose it serves me right.

Yesterday I got home from work to find that kitty had been accidentally locked inside one of our closets by the woman who cleaned our apartment earlier in the day. I came home from work and there was no kitty there to greet me. This isn't entirely strange. She has gotten pretty comfortable with us and doesn't always come to the door to greet us anymore. Especially if she is in the middle of her afternoon napping time. But anyway, there was no kitty. I called her. Still no kitty. I went around the house frantically opening doors to rooms and closets calling her. Finally I heard her scratching to get out of the downstairs closet.

I slid the door open and she casually strolled out the other end. Cool as a cucumber. I think it probably stressed her out regardless of how unbothered she appeared because she was not particularly interested in playing like she usually is and she went to her "chair" and promptly fell asleep earlier in the evening than usual. I was extremely angry. And apparently stressed. My automatic self took over and walked me to the pantry where I pulled out and opened a bag of barbecued potato chips and started comfort eating them. Last time I ate these exact same chips I ended up with a migraine the following day as well. I should have known better but I guess I was hoping that it was something else that caused the previous migraine. Sigh. As I said before, it serves me right.

A few minutes ago I started thinking about what we could have for dinner tonight and my shoulders automatically hunched forward. It made me tired just to think about it. I walked to the copy machine to pick up something I printed out and suddenly I remembered the text conversation with my husband from earlier when I brilliantly came up with the idea to use the leftover fake chicken to make tacos for dinner. Yes! Leftovers tonight! My shoulders lifted and I suddenly felt more energetic. We had everything we needed to accompany it which meant no trip to the grocery store either. Ole!

I got on my bike and road home. Once I arrived I was so happy I didn't have to come up with a dinner idea from scratch that I found myself feeling more inspired. Suddenly corn muffins with green chilis and cheese sounded like an awesome accompaniment to the tacos and black beans. Ah... food happy. It probably shouldn't be but food is often the source of my happiness. I can't help it. I love to eat!

Monday, May 14

Day 135: April Showers Bring May Flowers

I love to be out in nature. Especially when it's spring time and there are more flowers on the trees than leaves. Everything is in bloom and bursting with life. It is such a beautiful sight. My whole body resonates with joy! A few weeks ago the cherry blossoms came out to play and just days ago I noticed several trees beginning to burst with these big, fat, beautiful, white blossoms. I am not sure what they are but they are absolutely lovely I think.

During our ride through the forest yesterday my husband said, "The air smells so good!" One of the many blooming bushes or trees smelled literally like fresh honey. It was amazing. The scent was so heady and rich. The air was buzzing with bright scents and sights. People were already out having picnics and trying to get a head start on their summer tans. Even the leaves on the trees seemed to be celebrating and laughing as the soft breezes rustled through their branches.

When the sun is shining and a soft breeze is blowing there is no better place to be than on my bicycle. Spring in Stockholm is such a lovely time of year and such a wonderful introduction to summer. The saying "April showers bring May flowers" is perfectly appropriate this year. And if you are not looking up at the blossoms in the trees, you will see hundreds of vibrant, yellow, orange and pink tulips popping up everywhere as well. As I ride my bike back and forth to work and as I walk around the city I see people snapping photos of the flowers and blossoms or sitting outside enjoying the sun and taking in nature's beauty around them. All of that winter restlessness is coming out to play and rejuvenate. It makes me happy.

Cherry blossoms bursting at Kungsträdgården...

Beautiful, airy, white blossoms on a couple of trees outside my office. Below them a combination of lemon, yellow tulips and daffodils... 

Tulips starting to wake up at Mariatorget. This photo was taken last week. I will post a new photo next week to show the progress...

I am not sure what this is but to me it looks like lace. The wind was blowing so strongly when I took the photo that I could not get a good focus. I think it is still very pretty...

This may be the same type of tree as above. It was one of probably ten all in a group. It was such a beautiful sight. Like a lovely, white canopy. Funny to see in a land where everything is white with snow for much of the year... :-)

Sunday, May 13

Day 134: Royal Bike Rides and A Mother's Patience

The weather today was the exact opposite of yesterday. It was lovely, warm and sunny... the perfect day for being out on a bicycle, or just out in general. So that is exactly what we did. We rode our bikes over to the Kungliga nationalstadsparken, or Royal National City Park,  that is tucked behind Tekniska Högskolan, or the technical university. The park stretches back to the Baltic sea and goes north to Stockholm University and south to Djurgården, or the Royal game park, which is another lovely park in the middle of Stockholm that we love to visit. 

It is simply amazing to get on our bicycles and within twenty minutes or less find ourselves riding down a forest trail with barely a hint of city life in sight. Just the vast forest floor, moss-covered and alive with vitsippor (wood anemones) and patches of sunlight streaming through the trees. It doesn't get much better than that. We saw so many people out and about but I think the sight that amazed me most was an elderly pair out in the middle of a field. The man sat on a fallen-over, tree stump while his wife sat next to him on her walker. I couldn't believe that they walked all the way out into this park, in the middle of the forest with her and her walker and there they were in the middle of the field, enjoying the sunny afternoon like everyone else. Just goes to show you that where there's a will there's a way.

On another note I would like to mention that today is Mother's Day in the U.S. I would also like to mention that I have the most wonderful mother in the world. She is my best friend and I love her dearly. I wish I would have been able to bring her a bouquet of flowers and take her out to lunch today, or make a special, home-cooked dinner for her. One of the most difficult aspects of living abroad is being so far away from my family. Holidays and special days like today make it even more difficult but thanks to Skype and Internet we can visit "virtually" and talk on the telephone nearly for free. I wish my mother and all of the other mothers out there a Happy Mother's Day. 

I read an amazing story the other day about a mother writing a letter to her daughter in honor of Mother's Day. The mother talked about how patient she had been when teaching her daughter, as a baby and toddler, how to speak and walk and do things. She asked her daughter for that same patience now that she was older and had a more difficult time "thinking quickly" or remembering all of the details of their conversations etc. The letter was touching and it reminded me of days when I am not so patient with my own mother. We owe our mothers that same patience and love that they gave to us when we were children learning how to navigate life. 

I am not a mother myself but I can imagine that there is a certain patience that grows from a mothers love for her child. May we all be blessed with a mothers patience today and every day. Don't forget to call your mother and tell her that you love her today!

Saturday, May 12

Day 133: A Two Kanelbulle Kind of Day

Whenever there is beautiful weather outside I feel obligated to be out enjoying it. Just like all good Swedes, taking in a good dose of vitamin D and enjoying one of the many parks located right in the heart of the city. So an occasional, rainy day like today is good for getting things done at home. Things like laundry, petting the cat, eating toast with butter and apricot jam and running a couple of neighborhood errands between rain showers. These hours between late morning and early afternoon are my best time for getting things done. It is when I have the most energy and am feeling my most creative.

Kitty however prefers to sleep in a drawer during this time of day. She looks so cute curled up in there that I am forced to go peek in on her every hour or so to give her a kiss and scratch on the head. And I can honestly say that after going into the city this afternoon and getting caught in a few showers, I think kitty had the better idea. Next rainy day I am staying home with a book and a cup of tea. I don't think I can fit in the drawer with kitty but maybe she'll join me on a corner of the couch.

My husband ended up having to go into the office today. The plan to spend a few hours and be home by early afternoon turned in to a very long day. Longer in fact that most of his regular days. I felt bad for him and his guys but it was a small bonus for me to have the opportunity to wander aimlessly around downtown without needing to be anywhere, stopping in random stores to have a look and finally settling down at a cafe for a (two) kanelbulle (cinnamon roll) snack. At first I ordered them to go thinking I would head home and enjoy one while having a cup of tea but as I walked toward the door to leave it started raining so I spotted an empty table and sat down. Next thing I knew I had eaten both of them! I guess it turned out to be a two kanelbulle kind of day.

Friday, May 11

Day 132: Historical Architecture

There is something comforting to me about centuries old, historical architecture. I don't quite know why but when I see old buildings made of roughly hewn stone, that someone most likely crafted by hand, carefully, arching doorways and curving towers with wind vanes perched atop in the shape of a rooster or a crown, I feel at home. Where I come from in the U.S. there aren't so many old, historic buildings and the ones that are still around are maybe one hundred years old versus thousands of years old. Walking around a city such as Stockholm I see so many buildings that were built as far back as the 1600's and 1700's. In fact, last fall the city did some repair work on our street and when they removed the top layer of asphalt an old cobblestone street was exposed about thirty centimeters below it. I watched over the course of several days as the workers merely removed the stones and discarded them. I was appalled. So one day I asked one of the workers if I could take one of the old cobblestones. He chuckled but said yes so I grabbed it and walked home as quickly as I could before he could change his mind.

Later I did a little research and found that the cobblestone street was built the late nineteenth, early twentieth century, dating it around the early 1900's. Still pretty impressive if you ask me. I don't understand why the city decided to cover this beautiful piece of history with an ugly layer of asphalt but apparently the noise level from driving on cobblestone streets is bothersome and our street, Hornsgatan, has a heavy, traffic flow. Thanks to the street work however we now have a piece of Stockholm's history preserved in our living room.

On the way to my doctor's appointment today I debated whether or not to get off the bus and walk. It was really beautiful and warm out but I was nervous that the forecasted, downpour would start any minute. The sky was black and angry to the north of me and it appeared to be approaching quickly. I finally decided to chance it and got off of the bus a few stops early and walked from there, constantly checking the status of the approaching doom. Rain was forecasted with a seventy percent chance starting at two p.m. and it was now two thirty.

Turns out I got off the bus at the perfect stop. The older neighborhood that I ended up walking through appeared to have been built in a different era. The surrounding neighborhoods mainly consisted of newer, more modern buildings so it was refreshing to find this hidden pocket of history. By the time it dawned on me to take a photo I was nearly out of the neighborhood but I did manage to capture this lovely, arched doorway. Obviously they preserved the older part of the building but installed in it a more modern, wooden door and brass handle.

I really love to see historical architecture preserved and taken care of. It makes me happy and helps to remind me of the fact that I am just a small part of the greater history of the world. 

Thursday, May 10

Day 131: The Grass is Green in My Pasture

I don't know many people who actually love their job. Most of them merely tolerate their job while dreaming of something else. Something better, more exciting, creative, fun. What if we all just decided to like our job and appreciate it for what it is? A nice, green pasture to graze in. I mean, after all we do get paid the green stuff to do our job, which feeds and clothes us and gives us an experience of doing something that maybe we'd never do otherwise. Whether it is our dream job or not. There is always a reason we are where we are. Even if we are unaware of that reason.

There is also power in choosing our lives exactly as they are. We take control of our situation instead of "suffering" through it. The choice is always there to do something else though sometimes it takes a great deal of work to change our situation. But if a true change is desired, the possibility is there. Just begin with the first step. Then find a friend or partner to support you in the changes you want to make.

There. Now that I've said my bit on that... Not too long ago I was "suffering" and not terribly happy with my job. Then one day I just made the decision to look for the positive instead of the negative in my job and it took a huge load off my shoulders. I suddenly had more time and energy to focus on other things. Now the grass is green in my pasture. Right here on this side of the fence. It may not be the most favorite job I have ever had but I it has given me the opportunity to meet some really great people and it is a great fit for my life right now.

Five positive things about my job:

1. The hours
2. Easy commute
3. Traveling internationally
4. Making new friends
5. Low stress

Tell me something positive about your job...

Wednesday, May 9

Day 130: "Laughing is the Same Everywhere in the World"

This morning it felt a little cooler out than the past few days but I was determined to wear my new ivory sweater and orange, skinny jeans. I've been airing the sweater out now for a couple of weeks because it smelled of perfume and I was afraid that I might get a headache from the scent. I sniffed it and thought the scent had tamed down enough to wear it so on it went. Even though it was cloudy out and with rain in the forecast, which usually means cold in Sweden. I also skipped riding my bicycle today and took the subway instead. Call me chicken but it was cold yesterday while I was riding in the sun and without any sun today I was not interested in taking my chances. Remarkably I have no strange or unpleasant incidents to report from my commute.

So there I was at the office in my new, summery sweater. And even though spring has officially arrived, with the coolness in the air today and lack of sunshine it felt like I was wearing a fishing net. The sweater is quite thin and the weave is fairly open and even with a tank top underneath the cool air was giving me a good chill. I fished my scarf out of my bag and wrapped myself up. It helped some but what ultimately warmed me up was a lovely cup of tea. I generally keep a box of Yogi tea at my desk for this very reason. It's good for the body as well as the soul and the tea bags have these cute, little, feel-good quotes on the tabs. Each tea bag has a different quote. Given the fact that I love a warm, cup of tea and I love happy quotes, enjoying a cup of Yogi tea this morning with its feel good quote was like having my own private, happy moment. Now if I had only had a biscotti to go with it...

Reading this quote made me smile. It is so true. Laughing is the language that unites us all no matter what our differences are. Wishing you a happy moment filled with smiles and laughter today! 

Tuesday, May 8

Day 129: Rhubarb Love

I love rhubarb. It's as simple as that. I've always known of strawberry and rhubarb pie and I may have even tasted it at some point in my early life, but I feel that my true introduction to rhubarb was the first time I sunk my teeth into my Swedish sister-in-law's rhubarb crumble. Made with fresh rhubarb from her garden. I think she may have even added a handful of fresh, red currants to it, also from her garden. Only one word can describe it: HEAVENLY. The combination of sweetness from the sugar accented by the natural tartness of the rhubarb was the perfect representation of summer. Or in today's case, spring.

Most people eat their pie a la mode which, don't get me wrong, is awesome but in Sweden pies are generally served with vanilla sauce. I adore vanilla sauce. And pie and vanilla sauce together is like a cosmic explosion of deliciousness. Take my word for it.

I try not to indulge in sweets too often unless there is a special occasion. (Isn't every day considered a special occasion?) Today happens to be a special occasion for me to indulge. Tonight is my monthly book club meeting and I am hosting it. It just so happens that I am making a rhubarb crumble. I have been thinking about sinking my teeth into it for over a week now. I even baked a test one on Saturday to make sure it tasted okay. Just for the record, it tasted quite okay. In fact, it was so okay that I was forced to freezes the rest of it for fear that we'd gobble down the entire thing in two days. Just my husband and I. Not good for the new, orange, skinny jeans I bought a couple of weeks ago.

But pie eating, well just eating I general, makes me happy and I anxiously look forward to tonight's rhubarb treat. I will try not to write too many more posts about rhubarb but I can make any promises. After all, 18 Smaker, which means 18 flavors and is an organic ice cream shop around the corner from our apartment, has the most amazing, rhubarb, swirl ice cream and I may not be able to contain my happiness after eating it.

Monday, May 7

Day 128: Morning Commute and Summer Anticipation

People ask me all the time, "Have you acclimated to living in Sweden?" It's a hard question to answer when you still find yourself missing certain things. But I'll say this, it was forty-six, degrees Fahrenheit this morning and I road my bike to work wearing jeans, a tank undershirt, a three-quarter, sleeve blouse and a light-weight, wool jacket. It was a little chilly in the beginning but I warmed up before I was even half way to the office. I think I've acclimated.

Two years ago, you wouldn't have caught me dead on my bike at forty-six, degrees Fahrenheit in Sweden. Heck, even three years ago when I lived in Dallas it would have taken a great deal of coaxing to get me out on a bike in that temperature. Now here I am, riding around without gloves and wearing only a simple jacket, with no lining or wind block. In all fairness, I probably could have traded my blouse for a sweater this morning and been more comfortable but never-the-less, there I was riding my bike to work along with the thousands of other commuters on their bicycles.

My perspective changes when I am riding my bike. I see so much more of the city's quirks and beauties. Perhaps a little too late in the game I had the thought that it would have been fun to count all of the other bicycling commuters I passed who were heading in the opposite direction. I would guess that I passed easily a hundred or more people. Maybe I'll count them on another day.

I knew it would be colder in the shade, so I chose a different route for my ride this morning. On previous mornings I've ridden along the west side of Kungsholmen, down a street called Kungsstrand, which runs along the water but is completely shaded the whole way. Today I decided to ride along the southeast side of the island along the street, Norr Mälarstrand, which goes along the coast as well, only it would be in complete sunshine. It is amazing how much warmer it feels in the sun. It was completely pleasant and  lovely and made a huge difference.

I took my time riding while most everyone else was racing to get to work. Not me. I enjoyed listening to the birds chirping as I rode along. Glancing across the water to Södermalm, which is the island where we live, I saw the sunlight glowing on the buildings and boats. It made me smile in anticipation of the warmer days ahead when we can go swimming and have an ice cream.

Sunday, May 6

Day 127: Big Kitty Cats

So we wandered out on another bicycling adventure today. From the description in my "Bicycling Walks Around Stockholm" book it seemed that we would be riding on a path along the water most of the time with cafes interspersed along the way. Sounds lovely, right? Unfortunately there was a lot of construction going on along the water as well and there were a few detours which led us not so much along the water. Did I mention the hills? I should have counted them but I didn't. Let's just saw there were a lot of them. It was grueling but I road up each one, determined not to walk my bike up. 

At one point during our ride my husband asked, "Did you see those big kitty cats?" "No", I said, ""Where were they?" "Those girls were riding them," he said. I nearly fell off my bike laughing. He was joking of course but he was talking about the horses we had just seen. We passed a stable that was holding a riding event for young girls and there were tons of girls riding around on their "big kitty cats." 

I hadn't been in a grumpy mood prior to this but I was feeling tired and I was dragging a little. As we were leaving the apartment we stepped into the elevator and I pushed the button to the wrong floor. That isn't so unusual however, I sometimes step in to the elevator on my way to work and push the button to the sixth floor, which is where we live. Sometimes I push it several times wondering why the light doesn't go on before I realize it. "Oh," I say, and push the right button while chuckling to myself. It makes for good entertainment if anything. 

But back to the "big kitty cats." I felt a shift in my mood after my laughing fit. My husband was apparently in a very good mood which helped sort mine out. I hadn't quite decided what kind of mood I was in prior to this. I was merely along for the ride. Now I was in a very good mood as well. And every animal we saw from then on was a kitty cat. Makes things simple. And amusing. I recommend trying it.

Saturday, May 5

Day 126: Cow Party

Dear Mrs. Cow,

Thank you for sharing your joy with me today. I really loved watching you skipping gleefully from the barn out into the field, butting heads with your girlfriends, playing queen of the dirt pile and grazing in the grass. Your milk-laden udders, full and heavy, swinging back and forth as you sprang from one end of the field to the other, made my heart skip a beat with happiness. I can imagine that the joy and exhilaration you feel today must be similar to how we humans feel when after winter, we are finally able to shed our coats and allow the sunshine to actually penetrate our skin instead of incubating us inside our clothing.

I can actually relate to how it must have been for you to be cooped up in the barn all winter without being able to frolic in the sunshine or munch on the grass. Winters in Sweden are apparently tough for you cows as well. Do you light candles in the barn to make it cozy when the dark and gloomy winter is upon you? Do you and your girlfriends hang out and eat potato chips or other, cow treats on Fridays in celebration of fredagsmys (see Day 27: Fredagsmys)? I like to imagine that you cows also get to experience fredagsmys to help you get through the long winters. If you have not experienced this perhaps I should have a chat with your farmer.

Anyway, I noticed as we were leaving the farm today that the sun was finally starting to come out. This made me happy knowing that you and your girlfriends would be frolicking about and basking in the warmth, while celebrating your first day of freedom in six or more months. It turned out to be a lovely day for a cow party after all.

Grace Ann