Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's elementary

Stålhästen in Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm  |  Of tests and things on afeathery*nest  |
Last we heard, I was struggling to keep three languages straight, but soon after that, my new teacher suggested I take the National Exam to move ahead from 3C to the next official level of instruction, 3D. I mentioned a slight problem with that plan: I don't actually speak Swedish yet, which might hinder an exam that tests my reading, writing, listening, oh, and speaking abilities.

He waved that aside and said my reading comprehension and writing were good enough to take the test. Since there's no risk to taking the test and failing, I figured I might as well.

That's why I spent 3.5 hours in a classroom listening to recordings, reading texts, answering multiple-choice questions, writing an essay, and having a conversation with a fellow classmate before the attentive ear of a proctor and then a conversation with said proctor—all in Swedish, last week.

While I felt really good about the reading and the writing, I felt much less so about the listening comprehension and conversations. But turns out I did well enough across the board—I passed the exam and have begun 3D!

Theoretically this is meant to serve as proof that I speak Swedish at the level of an elementary-school-aged child.

"Theoretically" being the key word.

One year ago: Not so fast (<-- That one time my Swedish residency request was denied.)
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The much-celebrated arrival of fall

Lugnets Allè in Hammarby Sjöstad  |  The much-celebrated arrival of fall on afeathery*nest  |
While I've made no attempt to hide (any) of my feelings about this summer's unexpected heat, I didn't exactly want fall (my favorite season!) to start quite so early.

Which seems to be what's happened as suddenly everyone's donning light scarves and closed-toe shoes and the air has a little nip to it. If that wasn't enough to clue us in, perhaps the insane festival that took place in our courtyard this morning would have made it clear.

Apparently today is the first day of classes—which the school that shares a side of our courtyard with us is marking by lining all the walkways with balloons, having all the teachers stand outside to whoop and cheer as each student arrives with their parents, and, b.l.a.s.t.i.n.g. music. (Why they're playing "Pomp and Circumstance", i.e., the graduation song, for elementary school kids is perplexing).

Now I have to admit that it is cute to watch the reunions between kids and the friendly, but reserved (of course) nods of parents toting travel coffee mugs, but...why are they still standing outside thirty-minutes-later with that song blaring on repeat from the speakers?

It's not technically early, but at 8AM this is certainly infringing on my morning rituals.

One year ago: Reveling in the regression

Monday, August 18, 2014

Urban natured in Stockholm

Sandasjön, Nacka, Stockholm  |  Urban natured in Stockholm on afeathery*nest  |
There were so many reasons we moved to Sweden, but one of the top ones was definitely the way you can live in the royal and governmental seat of a country, yet be so near to nature, fresh air and clean water. If you want to be a little more distanced from the city, that's easy to do, too, but whether it's a little forest-y bike ride, a woodland walk in your backyard, or a lakeside ride a few neighborhoods over, it's so easy to straddle the lines of city and country from right here in Stockholm.

In New York I always found it more taxing on my senses to "escape". Even if I stayed in the city, the way home inevitably involved a re-stresser (hello, MTA) or if I left, a disappointing destination. Both of which could easily redo all the knots the day was meant to have undone (definitely not always, though).

The reason I bring this is up is that this Sunday a conflation of events happened that I think could only happen in Stockholm (at least as far as I know). While only a few miles apart, we were somehow both able to do the following at the same time:

R and his friend headed out to a nature preserve called Sandasjön in Nacka where one can do all sorts of "manly" things as they did, like fish (actually fish your dinner out of the lake!) and have open fires. While they didn't catch anything (despite the fishies dancing around right in front of their lines), they built a fire and used tree branches to grill some hefts of meat, so they were happy as can be. After more than 8 hours of doing what men do when they're alone with fire, they came home smelling of smoke and fresh air and all dreamy-eyed and relaxed.
Sunday morning pancakes  |  Urban natured in Stockholm on afeathery*nest  |
Meanwhile, I spent my morning out on the balcony reading when the wife of R's fishing friend called me. She was itching to get some knitting supplies after trying it out with some needles and yarn at our apartment last week. I wanted to tag along, so I quickly made my Sunday pancakes for one (couldn't leave without some sustenance!) then hightailed it out to catch a bus to meet her.

Since most retail stores are closed on Sundays, we met up at the very fancy NK department store. I felt like a lady from one of those movies set in NYC in the 50s and 60s who goes to an elegant department store to have her hair set and then wanders about before lunching with lady friends. We did nearly the same: after perusing the very chic textiles area and picking out some lovely yarn and needles, we took a coffee in the atrium overlooking all the glam shops and perfectly coiffed grand dames walking about.

After our coffee we headed home to spend the rest of the afternoon with our knitting. None of my friends in NYC knit (at least that I know of), so I was mostly on my own except for a few afternoons knitting alongside my mom. Now that the weather is starting to get a wee bit crisper I'm already envisioning evenings this coming fall and winter after one of our dinner parties when we'll shoo the men out to the balcony with blankets for their chit chat and whiskey, and we can cozy up on the couch with our tea (or whiskey) and knitting.

One year ago:
The Delilah, a bewitching White Lady for summer eves &
Egg custard, or how to preserve a profusion of milk &
Arancini Taorminiesi, and how I cook