29 March, 2011

Business trip

It has been a while since we posted!  I have an excuse...I have been generally sick while also working on my thesis and planning my graduate exhibition (got an opening date now! May 21 at Moderna!)  Not very good excuses, but nonetheless.

But this week, Stu is going on his first business trip as an intern for this big Swedish-multi-national company, to the States! He'll be in Charlotte for meetings for several days (and I selfishly hope it has potential for a job there...NC is warmer than Sweden!) Then he is taking an extra day to hang out in NYC to catch up with a few friends. I'd be more jealous if he wasn't promising to bring me lots of presents back. And I *am* totally jealous...he's going to fill up on burgers and Carolina BBQ! Can't bring those back in a suitcase too easily. Nah, aside from a list of drugstore stuff, I'm hoping for some mac & cheese of all things, some American Easter candy, and maybe even an H&H bagel or two...

In the meantime, I'm on my own for a few days. I guess he thought I'd forget to eat or something while he was gone (because I'll be so distraught?!?) so he popped by the grocery store last night and bought about $100 worth of food for me for the week. Including my very own pint of Ben & Jerrys Baked Alaska. We often fight over a pint, and the thing gets eaten in one very short sitting. But now I don't have to fight with anyone over who gets those delicious little white chocolate polar bears. He's so sweet. 

22 March, 2011

Thesis lament

I am kicking ass in my thesis writing...this morning alone, I re-structured and added several more meaty ideas, and am more than half done with my required length and have a fairly solid skeleton for what remains.
But here's the problem.
It's really lovely in Stockholm today! It's sunny, and being in the 50s, it's warmer than it has been in 6 months (farenheit, of course.) So I really want to say "Screw writing about Artists' Books" and go outside to play. Yesterday, it was gray and kinda chilly, and I didn't get a single thing accomplished school-wise, nor did I have any desire to even leave the house. But the sun is out today, and everything feels easier and more clear with work, but all I want to do is go outside!
Grrrr...so do I work or play?

Graduation is June 9th, and that date can't come soon enough...

Picture post

From London last week! We rendezvous'd with our good friends from DC who now live in Holland and Belgium, and enjoyed a lot of eating and drinking and laughing, shopping, burlesque, museums, and more eating and drinking and laughing.

Finally made it to the Tower of London. Not very bloody, IMHO. But there were some sparkly jewels.

Maggie & Stu with Starbucks. Which they don't have in Sweden OR in Belgium!

Fortress Health and Safety.

Stu thought the sky looked like the Scottish saltire

Mini Gherkin?

Yay! Brunch at Elk in the Woods

They thought he was crazy for ordering a "Pimms Cup." Apparently Brits only drink them in the summer. And they just call them "Pimms." The "Cup" immediately pegs you as American.

Shopping around Oxford Circus can be overwhelming and disorienting...its a dern good thing they put these signs up to remind you what to do!

18 March, 2011

Our payment

Not that we were expecting anything for making cocktails at the art opening last night, but it was nice to go home with a big ol' bottle of Absolut for our efforts! And *green* limes.

17 March, 2011

March 17th

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Again, I was the only one on the subway, as well as the only one in class, wearing any green whatsoever. It makes me feel *so* American (oddly, not Irish!) But any American kid has it banged into their brain that you must wear green on March 17th, or face the consequences...you will get pinched. And kids pinch hard! They are going for black & blue to shame you for your lack of green. I guess it has stuck with me, because both Stu and I left the house with plenty of green on this morning.

This year, we are skipping out on Irish pubs. We learned our lesson last year. Instead of going to a bar, though, we are going to barTEND. We are helping out a friend at an art opening event sponsored by Absolut Vodka this evening, so Stu and I will be slinging Cape Cods instead of swigging guinness. If you happen to be in Hammarby Sjöstad, stop by! But be sure to wear green, because I am American. And I will pinch.

07 March, 2011

Picture post: lights in the sky

When up north, we had one night of the Aurora Borealis. It was too cloudy the rest of the trip, but that first night was pretty phenomenal. My friend Anabelle is a fantastic hobbyist photographer and spent more than an hour standing, sitting and laying in the snow to catch a few pictures of the lights in the sky. And I borrowed a few to post here:

The ice fishing hole...doesn't it look like the surface of the moon?

Stu, looking rather like an ax murderer
So the northern lights are caused by charged particles colliding in the ionosphere, and get stronger the closer one is to the magnetic north pole (though they happen south of the arctic circle as well). Wikipedia helpfully informed me that it is named after Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, and Borealis, the Greek name for the north wind. We saw them starting at about 6:30pm, not too long after it was completely dark. They seemed to grow and shrink in green, gold and little bit of purple over the following 2-3 hours, but by 10pm, the sky had clouded up and the show was over. I am so glad we had that first night, though. 

[All photos: Anabelle Lacroix]

06 March, 2011

A weekend above the Arctic Circle

We were more than 150 km above the arctic circle!  We spent several days in and around Kiruna, one of the very north-most towns in Sweden. We flew up and took an 18+ train ride back, and packed the time in between with cross-country skiing, alternately roasting and freezing in the sauna & ice-cold lake water, mushing dog sleds through the forests, being completely mesmerized by the golden green northern lights, eating reindeer in a Sami teepee and running through the Ice Hotel. As my Finnish friend said, we were doing the most touristy things, but they were *so* *much* *fun*! We had a great weekend. The weather was a perfect -5c and sunny.

I posted most of our pictures in the slide show below (minus the aurora borealis pictures...our camera is crappy in low light.)

We traveled with a group of my friends--five ladies and Stu. He was a good sport, especially when we were gossiping about how cute our dog-sled guide was (a bit like a Norse Brad Pitt.)
We stayed at the lovely Camp Alta in a giant, cozy cabin. We tried out cross-country skiing over a frozen lake, where others were ice fishing. I have never ever been on skis before. Once I got the hang of it, it was super! Especially with that insane Lapland wind blowing...you could really get up some speed without doing a thing. Except when it was time to go back, and we were skiing *into* the wind. I think my eyelashes froze.

The camp had a large sauna, and we made friends with another group who liked the room super wet and super hot. Everyone (except me, of course, 'cause I'm a wimp) jumped into the trapdoor in the sauna floor into the ice cold lake water below to cool off. They all loved it, but I would have either a) drowned b) bobbed out as a popsicle, or, most likely c) gotten sick.

Friday morning, we took a dog-sledding tour...38 km of beautiful Lapland countryside. We were 2 people per sled, hitched to 5 dogs. I don't really know what else to say about it, but I absolutely recommend doing this if you head up north, because it was amazing. The dogs were fun, the sights were great, the ride was exhilarating, the lunch was delicious, and the guide was cute (as afore mentioned.)

We spent an afternoon in Jukkasjärvi, running through the Ice Hotel (literally running...it was like a playground!) The rooms are really clever, beautiful works of art, though I basically affirmed that I don't need to *sleep* there. Which is fine, because at $400+ a night, I can't really afford to sleep there. I think the Ice Hotel deserves its own post, to come later...
But in Jukkasjärvi, we visited the Sami church and had reindeer sandwiches in the teepee. Which was a little weird, since the Sami Museum it was attached to is also a reindeer preserve. But we were fortified for the walk back to the Ice Hotel, walking on top of the huge frozen, solid Torne River, enough to get a few cocktails at the Ice Bar (You pay more for the glass made of solid ice, so they get cheaper the more cocktails you have, so we had to make the price worth it!)

And we had a great trip back on the night train from Kiruna to Stockholm. We had a short lay-over in the small town of Boden, which randomly had the best American-style diner and giant burgers and steak fries. To demonstrate just how "authentic" this place was, they actually asked how they wanted the meat cooked, which is something no other Swedish restaurant does when you order a burger (they just don't get it in this country.) Boden's Suzy Qs...such a boon! The rest of the trip, we watched movies and ate junk food and drank cheap wine-in-a-bag, and I feel a little grainy today because of it.

02 March, 2011

Buy 8 rolls of tape...

This was a photo I took a while ago and just stumbled upon again (hence the lack of snow and the reflections of real leaves). I'm not sure I even realized what it said when I took it, probably thinking something along the lines of "Why the hell would the advertising people at Norwegian airline allow a ripped poster to be put up?!?"

But now that I read the thing, it is quite clever! It says "Buy eight rolls of tape or fly to Helsinki." 249:- one way. I just feel bad for the poster-plastering guy who may have had to rip up perfectly good posters and re-tape them before sliding them into bus stop sign holders all over the city.

BTW, we are flying with Norwegian into London in a week, and it only cost us the equivalent of 32 rolls of tape...