Thursday, June 18, 2009

The second pin of the two pins on which the Swedish year is wrapped - Christmas is the first - has arrived: Midsummer. Pagan holiday made half-Christian, it used to be tied to St. John's Day, which is June 24. Which would put it precisely six months after Christmas Eve, when Christmas is celebrated in Sweden. Very symmetrical, very orderly. Very Swedish.

Tomorrow we're off for the weekend, going out to the archipelago to the country house of the children's book author and the sea captain. Bearing salmon and caviar torte, strawberry rhubarb pie and 20 tiny bottles of Norwegian schnappes.

We almost always go to Birds Island for midsummer, to the country home of C. the fashion photographer and A. the TV producer. But after 14 years together, they are going their separate ways.

Strange how someone else's separation can tear one apart.

The holiday will be bittersweet, despite the strawberry rhubarb pie, even with whipped cream on the side.

The Swedish word for the day is skilsmässa. It means divorce.

Monday, June 08, 2009

We were late for lunch yesterday as the husband and I left the Matteus school where we had just cast our votes for seats in the EU parliament. On our way out, a tiny old woman - in her late 80s I would say - walked up on her way in to vote, leaning heavily on a cane. Three political workers stood in front of her, one each from the Green party, the People's party and the Moderates (I would describe the People's party as, um, maybe, populist and it is part of the center-right alliance currently ruling Sweden, which is headed by the Moderates).

The old woman looked up, and barked out: "Pirate party?"

The husband and I looked at each other. The Pirate party is a brand new entity. They are interested in one thing: free file sharing on the internet.

"I guess she downloads a lot," the husband said, and we laughed.

And so the Pirate party ended up winning one of the 17 seats that Sweden has in the EU Parliament.

Oh, the power of the internets.

The Swedish word for the day is val, which has been the word of the day before. It means election. (And as Vatine has pointed out, also means choice as well as whale.)