Sunday, August 19, 2007

When I was 13, my parents flew the whole family from Chicago to the West Coast of the U.S. for a holiday, where we spent three weeks travelling, starting in San Francisco (where I saw my first drag queen, in a green-sequined evening gown at 7 a.m. at a donut shop, and I didn't even realize she was a man until my sister told me) and ending up in Bellingham and briefly, Vancouver.

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting family friends, who lived in a house in Portland, Oregon that had almost everything I ever would have wanted in a house: front and back stairs, a secret room behind a set of sliding bookcases, and a dumbwaiter.

The only thing missing was an elevator.

Of course now I live in an apartment building with a tiny elevator big enough for four people at the most, as old as the building itself - 100 years - with a gate that you pull shut, and wooden panelling, a mirror, and little leather seats that fold down if you feel faint on your way up to your apartment and simply must sit down.

Some people find old elevators a bit scary, worried that they'll break down and leave you stuck between floors.

They don't worry me. I love them. I feel like I'm in an old movie.

The only thing missing is a little old man in a cap at the controls, who doesn't even have to ask me which floor because he already knows.

The Swedish word for the day is hiss, which is Swedish for elevator, of course.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I look forward to the day that I no longer care about how big my stomach is. But until then, I'm still too young and vain, at 46, to feel that I want to look any older than I already do with my sparse grey hair and the bags under my eyes.

So when A. the TV producer suggested going on a diet together, I agreed.

But then on Friday a crew from London descended on our apartment to take photographs for a chocolate campaign. It was like a child's dream come true - a huge suitcase filled with chocolate: creams and truffles and tremendous slabs.

When they left at the end of the day, there were kilos of the stuff in the kitchen still.

Bad timing, that.

So, I'm taking a holiday from the diet, at least until the chocolate is gone.

Is it possible to be in heaven and hell at the same time?

The Swedish word for the day is efterrätt. It means dessert.

- by Francis S.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rummaging around in the refrigerator, I noticed that we have 18 jars of jam.

Well, actually, I took them out and counted them: one rhubarb and ginger jam, one rhubarb and vanilla conserve, one cherry jam, one lemon marmalade, one blueberry jam, one blackberry jam, one black raspberry jam, one strawberry jam, one raspberry jam, one Countess' jam (which is apple and elderflower), one cloudberry jam, one apricot and pinenut conserve, one fig conserve, two lemon curd, two ginger marmalade, two orange marmalade... not to mention one jar of cranberry sauce and one jar of jellied lingonberries.

Good god, what can two people possibly need with all that jam?

It makes me think of the film Hope and Glory and the scene when the father comes home on leave from the German front and hacks open a can of German jam that he's somehow gotten hold of. The mother doesn't want any of the children to eat it, because she thinks it's been poisoned. "They know we're mad for jam," she cries.

The Swedish word for the day is sylt, which means of course jam.

- by Francis S.