Category Archives: Sweden

Two weeks away and three cats (again)

First off, DECAF HAS RETURNED.

A few pounds lighter, a bit less fur, but all the attitude

As I noted in my previous post, the Buddhacat had slipped off into the night before our vacation, and two weeks later, we gave up. Told ourselves that he’d had a good life, offering us stolen gloves and found flowers, and that we would look into acquiring another kitten (a white one, perhaps) sometime in the fall.

We left the country on a much-delayed vacation. Our daughter stayed behind to work and watch the house. About a week into our absence, Decaf rolled into the house late one night as if nothing had happened, and where’s the food, please? Fortunately, his nearly month-long absence didn’t induce any major injuries, and I’m happy to report that Kleptocat is back to his old ways, arising at 4 or 5 am to demand a hearty breakfast, opening closed (unlocked) doors, and taking over couches and office chairs because, after all, it’s his house and all the furniture belongs to him.

Scandinavia

For our part, we took our first real vacation since 2017, when I last saw my Swedish family (along with a side trip to Helsinki for Worldcon). Due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions (and our expiring flight credits), we ended up flying into Copenhagen, then taking the train into Halmstad, Sweden. My ever-reliable kusin Otto drove us out to the family summer house on the lovely coast of Särdal. (My flash fiction “Stones of Särdal” was inspired by this very property.)

Dandenell summer house (Viket)

Since our last visit, the locals had installed internet fiber, so we had reliable Wi-Fi throughout most of the property. That certainly made things easier for translations, currency conversions, and checking in with folks back home. Elizabeth even managed to proctor a therapist’s license exam over Zoom (and 9 hours’ time zone difference).

I had brought an abundance of books and writing notes & drafts, along with a catalog of online classes that I wanted to check out.

Well, I ended up not doing all that much. I read a novel, some short fiction, and hosted a special “Writing Check-in” Zoom call just to test the bandwidth (and share the late evening sunset).

That was okay. We had a fair number of walks, rode our old bikes into Halmstad, shopped for tea (and new bikes), cooked meals with the new Instant Pot, ate crayfish, and visited with as many relations as we could because that’s what you do there.

This trip was something of an experiment. We wanted to see if it were feasible to conduct our business remotely (definite yes for Elizabeth), and get a better sense of the responsibilities of being a shared owner of the property (still learning the ropes there).

I might (might) be able to convince my employer to let me work part-time / earlier in the day (Pacific Time), which would open up the possibility of off-season visits, when the house is mostly empty. We’ll see.

At the end of the day, I had to acknowledge that this wasn’t a typical vacation or even a typical family visit to Sweden. The pandemic has changed our daily lives so much that it took real effort to step away from the hyper-alert mind state and just sit. Sit with a pot of tea, a plate of home-baked cookies, and family, and enjoy the breeze.