Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good continuation!

So here in the Swedens, they say (translated of course) good continuation either between Christmas and New Years Eve or in the new year. I guess it's supposed to be an hope that the new year will be as good as the old, or better or something good in any case.
I was at the doctors on Monday talking about gut issues and results from my gastroscopy, all normal you'll be glad to hear, and he asked about what we say in English at this time. I honestly couldn't think of anything. In fact, it's now getting to the point that even if we did say something at this time of year, I wouldn't remember it. My english skills have fallen by the wayside. I can't remember simple words like cash register.
So, to the news of the post. Today I was a consumer whore (and how!). Those who have watched the cartoon rejected will get that reference. In any case, I am in the position that all my items of considerable worth are all kinda dying at the same time. My black knee high boots that I've had since January 2004 have repeatedly had the heels peel off and have a hole in the sole. They also are all worn in a number of places. They need replacing, desperately. My coat, which is even older, possibly dating back to 2001 or 2002. It's getting thin and it's definitely not windproof. My laptop is dying in stages and will eventually crap itself and die properly. Finally, my ipod is no longer stereo and because it's got a harddisk in it, it means that when I'm running, it's probably not doing the ipod any favours.
So today I solved two of those problems, the coat and the ipod. My new coat is superb. It's about -10 outside at the moment and I went outside wearing normal clothes with no jumper, just a t-shirt under this enormous down jacket. I was toasty warm. In fact, if I had had a jumper on, I probably would have been roasting. It's fabulous. It's from peak performance, which is apparently a swedish company. It has masses of pockets, a hood and feels like I'm wearing a doona around. I've only had it a few hours and I love it beyond all measure.
The second problem I solved was the ipod. I'm now in possession of a pink nano and an armband to wear it while running. I will be testing out the running capabilities tomorrow or possibly Friday. I've just found out the gym is closed tomorrow and due to all the ice on the ground, running outside isn't really an option.

I'm trying to think of news to tell the interwebs. My brother and his friend Wombat came to stay with us for Christmas this year. We had them here from the 18th until last Sunday. We had some amazing weather while they were here. It snowed, a lot. And it was really cold and relatively clear for most of the time they were here. The three of us (the boy doesn't like the series in question) watched all of the Green Wing on the projector and a good amount of other TV shows and movies. We baked pepparkakor and the boys decided to make them a little rude. There were many penises and animals humping one another.

See here for an example :

rude gingerbread

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Odd things that happen when in Sweden

Today I was in the supermarket getting myself a lussekatt and the woman behind me has a very old phone with 'polyphonic ring tones'. Her phone rings, it plays Walzing Matilda. She is definitely not Australian. Weird.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

While I'm on a roll

Updating a-go-go for me tonight. I'm proud to announce that my PhD thesis has about three lines that are required to be added to it and then it's ready to be printed and then bound. I've even written my abstract and acknowledgments. I just need to work out exactly where to get the printing and binding done. There is a place I've found that should be able to do it, but I have to make sure that my three-colour label figures show up okay. I have some worries about them. I think that sometimes adjustments made on a computer screen quite often end up looking different on the printed page. I'm worried they'll end up looking too bright, too overexposed. If they do it'll mean quite a bit of reworking for me, but it will be worth it. I really look forward to being able to look at the final book. Then it might actually feel real that I might one day be officially allowed to do the job I've been doing for the last 7 months.


I am a social person. I am a social person and I don't like to live alone. The boy is in southern Sweden for some work thing from yesterday until Saturday afternoon/evening. While I'm not feeling 100% what with having gut problems and my period at the moment, I'm still usually fine to go out dancing etc in the evenings. Last night and tonight I decided to stay home. I don't know why I can go out dancing late into the night when he's at home but when he's gone I don't want to go out. That's my observation for tonight.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Health Report

You would think with a title like the health report that I'm going to tell you of being ill and my recovery. But no, this post is about the health report from Radio National. I listen to this podcast every week. I've just downloaded it and am putting it on my ipod to listen to while I work on my flies. And I've come to the realisation, I have a massive voice crush on Dr Norman Swan. I could listen to that man for hours. This is not a new thing, I've loved listening to the health report for ages, but today I realised that I was actually excited to listen to Norman. Oh dear.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

long time no write

I'm sitting in my office, there's no-one else here. I'm listening to NPR's fresh air on my ipod and contemplating work. I'd like to have a fabulous reason to not have written in my blog for a while, but it all sounds kinda lazy. I was busy, on holiday, sick and out of time. But I'm going to endeavour to write more.

Brief update: went to a wedding in Germany, was rather fun. Went hiking in the Bavarian Alps, to Berlin, had my parents visiting my house, went to London for a blues dancing weekend, came home and caught my husband's cold.

I'm just back at work after almost a week off for illness. Bah! But in good news, I'm feeling like I'm at the tail end of it and will be fighting fit by the weekend.

More writing and photos to come, I hope.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Spoke too soon

I spoke too soon. I'm not really at home in Sweden.

Today I tried to see a doctor about my bloated belly. It's been huge and uncomfortable and I've been feeling like I need to burp all the time, but not being able to burp. So I went to the local health center and was told that I could see a nurse at 10.10am. While I was waiting to see the nurse I went and sat in a garden and read my book. While I was sitting, I had a seagull shit on my bag, my ipod and just missed my leg because I moved out of the way. I got a coffee at a cafe and the guy there helped me clean up my stuff. The coffee was nice and he even gave me a complimentary biscuit because my day had been so crap. This was the highlight of my entire day.

I went back to the health center and somehow the nurse managed to miss me. I was told I could wait. I waited for another half an hour before they told me that it'd take too long to wait and I should go to the acute/emergency center that I'd been to before. I did that and waited another hour to see a doctor who was able to tell me that while he could understand there was something wrong, that center didn't send you away for any tests or anything. They were just an acute center. So that was 200SEK down the drain. He was very understanding though.

So finally, the nurse from the other place called me up and asked what was wrong. She called at 2.30pm. I explained the situation and she got me in to see a doctor tomorrow at 11.30am. So, it took me from 8.30am to 2.30pm to get a doctors appointment for tomorrow morning.
This whole thing reminded me that I don't know the swedish system and frustrated me endlessly. I'm sick of feeling constantly like I need to burp. I'm sick of starting the day looking relatively normal and by the end of the day looking like I'm 5 months pregnant. I'm sick of worrying that everything I eat is going to provoke more bloating. The only upside of it is that I have managed to pretty well establish that lactose probably isn't the cause (I've excluded it for over a week).

But the good news for today is that is delightfully sunny outside, the sun is warm and friendly and the sky is clear, there are birds singing and I'm going to be able to go for a walk in the sunshine and relax a bit. And truth be told, I'm probably okay with Sweden, today was just a bit of a trial.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oh so many things

You will be pleased to know, if you were following the continued saga of my lactose intolerance that my gut is somewhat back to normal today. Certainly the shirt I am wearing today (a new one from Lindex) which didn't fit over the weekend is now doing up nicely and I'm not feeling quite as big.

I have a number of things that I wanted to talk about here. The most pressing in my mind was that I have come to realise that I'm actually settled in here in Sweden. I was thinking last night as I left dancing, walked home and got ready for bed, I have friends. I have a number of people that I have met that I really like and enjoy talking to. Thinking back to just 3.5 months ago when we first arrived I was really worried about doing just that, making friends. I was homesick for a place where I knew people and they knew me. I didn't want to have to make new friends and make all that effort to get to know people. But it's happened. I don't have any best friends yet, but I do have some people who have that potential.

Truth is, while it was super hard in the first few weeks of settling in, it has become so much easier. I don't know why I worried about it that much. I think I am possibly one of the most social people I know. But I was missing having people I already knew and didn't have to play the get to know you game with. But anywhoodle, it struck me on the way home etc, I have managed to integrate myself a little into Swedish society. I feel kinda at home here. I put the kinda in there because there are times and things that happen that make it abundantly clear that I'll probably never be completely at home here.

Other things that have been cogitating in my noggin will have to wait for a little bit, I have to do some kind of work today.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

more information than you'll probably want

I should probably state upfront, if you don't want to hear about ladyparts, don't read on.

I had a PAP smear this morning. This is partly due to me gaining a personal number here in Sweden. About a week after my personal number was granted and I existed as a person in Sweden I got a letter. This letter stated that I was due for a PAP smear and should present myself at the appropriate clinic at 8.30am this morning. I guess that on becoming a person who really exists they all of sudden have a need to look at your genitals, or something like that.

I turned up on time and although I had an appointment time, I had to take a number. B this I mean a number like you take at the deli counter of a supermarket in Australia, so they know which order to call you in. Taking a number is an important part of Swedish culture, I am sure. When I signed up for SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) I had to take a number to talk to someone so I could get another number to actually enroll. But onto the cervix story. I took a number and waited. The lovely nurse Annika came and collected me. I got to have my legs in stirrups for the very first time, all very exciting!

The one thing that I want to note in this post is the following, it was not at all uncomfortable. I've had real problems with PAP smears in the past, all kinds of semi painful scrapings of my cervix. But today, I barely noticed it at all.

Huzzah for Swedish healthcare! Please return to your normal life, I've got experiments to do.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Guess where I'm going in three weeks

So, I hope that you can see that that is a lovely beach and is a small hint. The boy and I are going to Tuscany for a wedding, huzzah! We booked the hotel, flights and other stuff this afternoon and I'm terribly excited. 4 days and 5 nights of relaxation in a Tuscan village, a wedding of a good friend and hopefully some of his (the good friend's) mother's cooking.

Don't you just hate me?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lessons to be learned

Evidently I don't understand what contains lactose. Either that, or I don't care. I ate 'Princess cake' today. It has cream in it. I am once again bloated like a mofo. I hope this means that I've learned this lesson and will avoid all lactose in the future. I was going to go out dancing tonight but I think I might have to stay home for a while and hope that my stomach deflates enough for me to do up my pants again.

I'm now off to drink a truckload of peppermint tea and rub my belly for luck.

Here is a picture of the cake that did me in:

Taken from

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bloatsville -population me

Recently I think I mentioned that I had discovered that I was lactose intolerant. Well, I kinda ignored that tonight and now I'm paying the price. I did the very silly thing of eating a lot of vienetta:

That was very very silly. I went for a run after dinner tonight. It was lots of fun and I think I ran for about 40 mins or so. I didn't time it exactly. It was a good run. But when I stopped running I noticed my belly was feeling a little sore and a little rumbly. This is approximately what it looks like (taken from, a pregnancy blog):

So I anticipate some feeling a little rumbly and gassy over the coming hours. Lucky the boy is away this week learning about his job. He won't have to suffer the noise, or the smell.
Right, I'm off to have a shower and amuse myself with my pseudo pregnant belly.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

el procrastinatoratron

Today is a public holiday in Sweden. Something to do with Easter and some Christian thing. I really don't know exactly what it's for. But it means a day off, so I'm pleased.

I'm using the opportunity of a day off to do some work on my thesis. It's so tantalisingly close to being finished. But there are so many fiddly details to fix up. I can definitively say that there are 2 chapters that are done and dusted, completely finished. 2 more that are close, but not quite there. And 1 that is yet to be sent to my supervisor to be commented upon. The 2 that are close are driving me nuts. There are all these pissy details, like references that I didn't think I needed, and small changes to figures to make. I totally understand why those changes need to be made, it's just frustrating that they aren't quite ready yet.

So with these things I'm feeling a little like doing almost anything else. I've put some of our bottles that we've been collecting for a future beer brew into boxes, ready for the move. Did I mention we're moving? Yeah, we're moving about 800m away from where we are now, but has a separate bedroom and a projector. Anyway, I've done that, I've packed up my mum's birthday present up ready to be sent, I've made a shopping list for lunch and dinner tonight, I've called my family (brother just graduated, woo!) and I'm now preparing to head to the shops to buy things for lunch and dinner and put my plastic bottles in the recycling dealy that gives you a discount on your groceries. I have also done some work on the thesis, but it hasn't been huge. I shall attempt to do better after lunch.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Every year for the last 100 years Chalmers students have organised a parade with floats depicting the happenings of the last year. It's held on the 30th of April and turns into a bit of a drinking fest towards the end, or so I've heard.
This year it was the 100th year, so there were floats depicting stuff/important happenings from the last 100 years and not just from the previous year. The boy and I went along to check it out. He's placed a few photos up on his flickr photostream. We saw all sorts of funny things, a car filled with water (car pool) a couple of guys on a couch that had wheels and a motor, lots of girls doing marching band kind of things with flags and sticks, some guy dressed up as Obama with a ridiculously large paper mache head, and girls dressed as police officers complete with penises made out of stockings filled with socks. I'll try and get the boy to give me a copy of a photo of these girls to show you all.
One member of my lab decided she wasn't going to go to the parade, because 'You never know who's been to Mexico there and there are so many people. I'd rather stay home'. So as with everywhere else, Sweden is also filled with people worried about swine flu. I haven't felt sick yet, so I'm guessing we're safe and sound.

Friday was a 'red day' here in Sweden. It was May Day and we were able to have the day off work. We (the boy and I) went to lunch at a co-workers house with the German guy who's visiting our lab and his family. We ate lots and lots of Persian food and lots and lots of lollies and chips and consequently did not need anything for dinner. It was a lovely sunny day too, so combined with the food overload and the sunniness of the day, we had an early night in the Burgermeister household.

Right, I should now go and do something fun/productive. I've completed the writing I wanted to do today, sending chapter 5 back to the supervisor for further reading/reviewing. So, now this afternoon will be knitting and possibly baking a pie, possibly plum and apple, or strawberry and apple. Mmmmm pie.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More elk-ness

Hej på dig! As they would say here.

I found an article in the local paper that shows a photo of the elk I saw. Check it out here. It's in Swedish, but you can put it in and read the article that way, should you be so interested.

In other news, I have a Swedish mobile phone now, but no credit on it. So I can receive calls and messages but not send any.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I was walking to dancing last night. It's about a 20 minute walk, over a couple of hills. As I got to the top of the first hill, what did I see before me, but an elk. A freaking elk walking down the street. It was huge!

For those not familiar with elk, here is what one looks like.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Other things to tell you

Hello once again,

Today is a good day for so many reasons. It's sunny outside, I've found out that I only have 2 more chapters of my thesis to fix (of five) before I can submit it and finally call myself Dr Kate. Well, not really, as it needs to be passed first and all that kind of nonsense. But, it's almost to the point that I can leave it alone for a while and concentrate on my paid work.

The paid work, by the way, is going rather well. I have two mutants that I'm working with. One has a distinct phenotype and I've started mapping the gene. The other one I'm yet to really start working on, but I'm hopeful of getting some good results with that one too. I'm currently sitting in the office waiting for my timer to run down so I can set up another wash of the first embryos. Once I've finished with all this washing I can finally go and get myself some lunch. Mmmmm lunch.

The thing that I really wanted to mention in this post today was something that I'd like to remember for a long time. It has been about a week since I first started noticing bumblebees around the place. I've seen lots of flowers and other such things, but I've never before in my life seen a bumblebee. The very first time was about a week ago, as I said. I was walking to work. This is an uphill climb through the community gardens, with their little houses and pretty garden beds. And buzzing around was a bumblebee. They are such fuzzy, fuzzy animals.

For those not familiar with the bumblebee, here is a photo, taken from this persons flickr stream

Monday, April 13, 2009

Photos from Easter weekend

Here are a selection of photos from our Easter adventure on Saturday.

pickled fish!

part of my easter lunch

yummy vinegars

walking to the sea

finding the way down

Spring vs late winter

view from our apartment, Spring!

This is the view from our apartment now towards a large street nearby. I didn't really think that it was that different to when we first moved here. But then I looked at my photos, and found this:

view from the apartment in February

Turns out it's very different and rather delightful now. Hooray! I wish that my allergy prone body didn't really react so well to it though. I'm now in hayfever mode. But at least I've got my eczema and lactose intolerance stuff under control.

I'm going to be DJ Kate tonight. I'm both excited and scared about it. It should be fun, but I just hope that they like the music that I do. It's good though, or so I think, so it should go fine. More photos coming soon.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Swings and roundabouts

So today has been a day of swings and roundabouts. Actually, most of it was lovely, but the last little bit has been not so great. I've recently discovered that I'm lactose intolerant. I stupidly had a coffee with milk in it at the lovely party/dinner I was at. We made it home in time for me to have a good old sit down, but it was a close run thing and my guts were very unhappy.

The other thing that isn't so fabulous is that our neighbours upstairs are having a party and we can hear it. It seems as though they are doing karaoke or something to that effect. We've been lucky enough to hear their rendition of "hit me baby one more time" and many other delightful songs. I hope that they can it before I really want to go to bed.

The good stuff that happened today was something along the following lines, I'll hopefully fill in the rest of the details later. We got some new forks and knives from the charity shop across the road, as well as some new tea towels. We only had two before, tea towels that is, and all our forks and knives are tiny. I think the forks are cake forks or something of that nature. We washed all our clothes and mopped the floor. The floor here gets very dirty, very quickly. I think it partly has to do with the lack of a doormat, but it means that a lot of the time there is a layer of crap attached to your foot when wandering about. I got an opportunity to speak to my lovely friend EE and her husband about the arrival of their daughter two weeks ago. Apparently, according to EE, breastfeeding is like having your nipples tattooed. Mind you, she has never had a tattoo, so it's just a guess. She is, however, happy with every other aspect of motherhood and fingers crossed her nipples hold up under the strain. I got to talk to my parents and my brother for a little while too, which was rather nice. My dad has bronchitis, which he got from his sister. He says he's feeling better than she is and has antibiotics. He should be better soon.

Other good stuff from today: we were invited to a Swedish easter dinner. We went to a member of my lab's house for dinner, starting at 4pm-ish. We were picked up by my boss and her husband and went to S's house. It's a lovely house, near to the ocean and very light and breezy. There were four couples/families there. We were the only one without children. There were 7 kids there, two of whom were called Embla. Three kids were from a newly arrived German family. We had a Swedish easter dinner with salmon, potatoes and pickled fish of different flavours, lamb, salad and bread. It was really tasty. I took some photos and will post them later.

After dinner we went for a walk down to the water, through the forest and had a few adventures up on the rocks. Ask, one of the kids, lost his shoes when dangling over the edge of a small cliffette. He sounded quite calm when he asked for help to get down, so his parents didn't realise how precarious his situation was. But he was okay, his shoes were found and he was hoisted back up the cliffette. On the walk back from the ocean I had the pleasure of a conversation, somewhat one-sided, with Josefine, a 5 year old German girl. She could really talk and required little from me, so my German held up well. She was most amusing. I also put my German skills to use in helping her older sister Johanne (sp?) play monopoly (Gothenburg version) with the kids of the household.

We were there quite late, and had to get a lift to the closest tram stop. We made it there just before a tram arrived and had to walk about 15 minutes home. In that time, my guts were quite unhappy and I was concerned I wouldn't make it home. Fortunately, for me and the boy I made it home safely and without incident. I wish that I hadn't had that coffee with the milk.

The other delightful thing about today was the weather. It was blue skies, sun and warmth all the way and I got to see a bumblebee. That makes me ever so happy. They are such ridiculous looking animals.

Right, almost bedtime, I hope the neighbours pack it in soon, or I'm going to have get all nanna-like and go up there and tell them to please be quiet. I wonder if banging on the roof here would work?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I love swedish children's television

This was on TV this morning and you don't have to understand Swedish to get the hilarity of it all. Also, in case you are wondering, it's probably work safe, nothing rude, no swearing.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sometimes you see something that tickles your fancy

I saw this at the supermarket the other day and _had_ to take a photo. Do you think that pussi would taste as good as it looks?

Cat food in Sweden

Edited to add: I'm just looking at the eyes on that cat and I find them somewhat disturbing. Why are they staring so?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The harvest

the capsicum harvest
I harvested a couple of chillies and all the capsicums I had been growing just before we left Australia. I made them into a pasta sauce with some tomatoes and zucchini from my cousin's garden. They were very tasty. I did my best to get a decent photo of them before I chopped them all up. I was rather proud that they managed to survive the stupidly hot weather and the ripened really well.

Hooray for gardening.


So I noted today, not for the first time, that temperatures here appear warmer than in Aus. So, for example, today we went to IKEA and it was about 6 degrees outside. Thing is, it felt more like 15 degrees would at home, or near enough to. Why is that? It was cold, yes, but not that cold. At one stage I was wasn't wearing my coat. This would be completely unheard of if it were that cold in Melbourne/Canberra. So what is the difference?

We got one more step closer to having a bed that fits two adults today. We went to IKEA, found the mattress we wanted and the kind of slats would go underneath it. But I was worried that the bed frame we liked the most would be too wide for the space we have. So we decided to go home and really work out whether it would fit. Turns out, it wouldn't fit, so we're lucky there. But we have two other options that will fit. The first of those two will fit the best, and has underbed storage (score!), but the second one is prettier (I think) and matches the chest of drawers we bought to go in the hall. We're so excited about the idea of having a bed that is wide enough to fit both of us on comfortably.

More stories tomorrow, I have nachos to go eat.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


As I write this blog post, it's sunny outside and positively balmy at about 7 degrees C. But last Thursday it snowed. It snowed a lot. I got the boy to come and pick me up from work, because it was dark and it's nice to have someone to walk home with. He joined me and we walked down the hill together, in the snow. It was rather lovely.

Here is some evidence:




I was showing another member of my lab some photos today and came across a couple of photos of me and my brother. One from when we were very little and one from late last year. The one from last year I think describes our relationship well. In that photo I think, if I remember correctly, he had just licked his hand and pressed it to my forehead. I'm pretty sure I did it to him first. That's my job as a big sister.
Here they are, one after the other.

brother and sister

brother and sister #2

I've spoken to my brother more in the last few weeks of being here in Sweden than I have in a while. Well, I've spoken to him more frequently. He's called a number of times, it's good. I think he's usually calling at my mother's behest, but I usually speak to him first.

They called this morning. Mum was worried about me, because of the homesickness post. Just to reassure her again: Mum, I'm fine, I'm just undergoing a little culture shock. I'll be perfectly fine in about 2 months time. For the next 2 months, I'll be adjusting, then I'll be sweet. There are so many things to explore here. Tonight the boy and I are going for a walk. I want to investigate the tower I've seen on another hill near our house. I'm hoping there are a lot of stairs.

More to come from me, some posting about snow, sunlight and maybe dancing related news.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Some things are the same, some are different

So, I'm having a small wallow in homesickness today. I'm sure it'll pass pretty quickly. But I'm allowing myself a day of feeling pretty crappy and wanting to go home. The boy is a little hungover today. We went out last night with one of my aunt's former students and his girlfriend. There was much beer and discussion of all manner of things. I remember most of it, which means I can't have been that drunk. Yay for me!

I'm sitting on the couch, watching queer eye for the straight guy and trying to read the subtitles in Swedish. Another thing that I've caught on TV here is wipeout. It's a Swedish version too. So some things are the same here.

The things that are different are both good and bad, or maybe just different. I don't know. But there are a lot of things I like about being here. I just wish I understood more of the language and was better able to communicate with people here. But there is a bit of time available for me to start learning. We haven't been here for 3 weeks yet. I have to remind myself to slow down and not to expect everything to be fixed immediately.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Swedish dinner

I cooked myself a totally Swedish dinner the other night. I had meatballs with brown sauce, lingon jam, some kind of cubed potato onion and bacon delight and some green beans and brussel sprouts. It was rather tasty.

Here is a picture to enjoy. Stories of snow coming soon.

my swedish dinner

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring has sprung, or so it would seem

So, theoretically March is Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere. And to a certain extent this is true. While it is predicted to snow in the next couple of days, it's also been a little sunny. The real indicator has been in our flat the whole time though. Well, at least since the trip to IKEA.

As I mentioned a little while ago, my boss insisted on buying us pots with bulbs in them etc. Here is an example of what they looked like when we first bought them.

spring waiting to happen

As you can see, they are mostly green and the flash has gone off on the camera when I took the photo. There is little evidence of how gorgeous they will become.

Here is what they looked like on the weekend just gone.

spring has arrived

The hyacinths (I think) are so heavy they make the pot fall over occasionally. They are rather pretty though. I'm not 100% sure, but I think that perhaps the boy is allergic. He had a sinus headache all yesterday and they are usually started by an allergic reaction/hayfever-ey thing. He's okay today though and has been given the task of mopping the front hallway, it's getting really dusty and dirty.

The other evidence I have of the existence of spring is all the green shoots I see, bursting out of the ground on my walk to and from work. I'll take a photo tomorrow on the way in and show you what I mean. Snowdrops and daffodils are making themselves known.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Settling in

I'm having a tough time today. I'm lacking motivation and I'm feeling a little at sea. I think it's just a combination of poor sleep, with a touch of culture shock and a pinch of homesickness.

My brother was playing at WOMAD last weekend and apparently had a fabulous time. I'm super proud of my little brother and his achievements within music. I saw his photos on facebook and was stoked to see the large crowd that they played to on the Sunday. I heard interviews with another band member and heard a bit of their set from the WOMAD pages. I would have liked to have been home when he got back to get all the goss on the weekend. He tells me that they were played on JJJ on the weekend too.

My Opa has finished his chemo and radiation therapy, but is still feeling sore in the arsular region. He said it's getting better, pain-wise, which is good. But I'd still like to be around so I could go and visit him again. It was Oma's birthday on the weekend too. They had a good time though, so that's good n that.
My best mate, JJF, just had his vasectomy (hope you don't mind me sharing that babe) and is a little tender in the nadular region.

I've been able to call all these people, plus others, since being here. While it's great to be able to talk to them all, it's just not the same as being at home. I have such limited times available to call when we are all awake and with it. It's slightly frustrating.

What else is frustrating me is sleep. We have a very small bed. Those who keep up to date with faceplant know that I've been whinging about our bed. It's 120cm across. It's freaking tiny. Combine that with a heater that you can't turn off and it's all just a bit difficult to sleep. In order to keep the heat down, we open the window a little, but that lets in a lot of noise from the street. I feel like I can't win. We're trying an experiment tonight though. The boy is going to sleep on the couch and see if I'm able to sleep when I have some more room. I think it's a no-brainer. I'm totally going to be able to sleep if there is more space. But it's worth doing the experiment before we waste money on a new bed that doesn't solve the problem. With that said, I have spent a bit of time on the IKEA website today, looking at beds. I think I've found the one we would be happy with, 160cms wide, with storage in the base and it's cheap!

The other thing that is a little bit bothersome is that my boss is absent from work today, and was absent yesterday. It's good though too, she's absent because her son is sick and she can do a lot of her work from home. But it's bad, because she was going to do some experiments with me today, looking at our mutant embryos. I still need help finding everything, including bench space in the lab. But apparently she'll be in after lunch today, so I hope that we can get a bit done. She's been rather busy of late, submitting a paper and helping a student prepare for a thesis defence. I think, though, that it'll be good to have her back in the lab today to help me out with these cool mutant embryos.

So, to the positive elements of being here, so you don't think it's all woe and botheration. We have some cool mutant flies from a guy in Germany and found out that they have a tracheal (the model we work on) phenotype, so I have work to do that will not only be interesting, but might actually get me a publication. I've already instituted some things in the lab that are appreciated. The control of genetically modified organisms here is much less strict than Australia. Our fly room consists of a corridor like room with doors open at both ends, and my 'quarantine' of flies consists of keeping them on my desk until I know they don't have mites. It's great! We live really close to work and to pretty much everything. There are a lot of good restaurants near us. I've been able to go running. We've seen snow. I love a lot of the dairy products on offer here, especially this 'almost yoghurt/almost milk' stuff that you can get in different flavours. I've been having a raspberry one on my muesli in the mornings and it's great. Oh, and spring is coming, which means it's getting greener and greener here. I'll post photos of our bulbs and their crazy blooming that they've got going on soon.

Right, best be off, I'm probably supposed to be working now.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Tag for my new shoes

So, I brought my boots with me to Sweden, for all the cold weather. But considering I'm constantly taking them on and off again I felt that some smaller shoes were in order. I found the smaller shoes yesterday, in a cool shopping/cafe area just down the road called Haga. I bought a pair of dark brown suede desert boots from clark's. Wheeee! I think my parents owned desert boots in the 70s or 80s. I certainly have memories of them. I'm going to take my desert boots on a walk this afternoon, somewhere lovely, like the fabric shop, just down the road. Mind you, that is dependent on it being open. I'm going to make a wheat bag to help when my unhappy girl bits appear again. My Australian wheat bag is fabulous, but it's in Australia. It was just too heavy to bring with me all that way. Especially when I had to make room for all sorts of other delightful things like clothes and vegemite.

IKEA trip

Hello again.

I've been rather busy since I last posted on here, so I haven't managed to sit down and post anything. Today I'm sitting in my PJs on the couch, watching the snow fall outside our windows. We got up about half an hour ago and in that time the snow has gone from not sure if it's rain to definitive snow, and it's falling on an angle. It makes me glad to be inside and glad we got our wandering and shopping done yesterday.
So I can't quite remember what I wrote last time, and am too lazy to look it up, so I shall guess.
Last Saturday we went shopping, with my new boss and her daughter, to IKEA and COOP Forum (supermarket) to pick up a chest of drawers and a shoe shelf, plus a few food items. IKEA was like every other IKEA I've ever been in, except it was filled with real Swedish people.
We wandered around and I think the boy got quite frustrated with me and my boss. We were looking at everything but chests of drawers. The first thing we did on arrival was to drop Embla (7 yo daughter of boss) in the playroom. Here we found our first delight in Swedishness. She was given a little bib with a number on it. All the children in the playroom were numbered. Marvelous.
Then it was the time to look at all the IKEA 'stuff'. My boss insisted on buying us some bulbs in pots and a low vase/bowl thing to put them in and some rocks to put in the bottom of the bowl. She said it was very Swedish and we could watch Spring approach with the blooming of the flowers. The boy wasn't too keen on the idea, but I was rather delighted, so we got them. We did eventually end up getting a chest of drawers, Hemnes in white, shown here in blue and a shoe shelf. For those not familiar with the European/Scandinavian shoe world, shoes are taken off on entrance to a home and you go around in your socks. You need somewhere to store your shoes in the front hallway. So we got ourselves on of those too. We also picked up a bathroom rug/mat thing and a few other plants.
We picked up Embla from the play room and had ourselves some lunch somewhere in the middle of all this stuff and had ourselves an IKEA lunch extravaganza. Well, more accurately, the boy had Salmon and I had meatballs. The boss again insisted on getting something, in this instance cake for dessert. I was absolutely stuffed full.
After IKEA we loaded up the car with our purchases and drove about 300-500meters away to get ourselves some food. We went to COOP Forum. As far as I could tell, it was a mix between the biggest supermarket you've ever been to in Australia, combined with a Kmart or Target. There was everything there and heaps of it. I couldn't get over the size of the place and the choice was enormous. I intend on revisiting that same place one day to get some photo evidence of the hugeness. I'd write more here, but really it was a supermarket shopping experience and is really not that exciting.
My boss took us home and we started constructing the furniture. Anne (the boss), was really keen on constructing the furniture then and there. The boy suggested that maybe we could wait until the next day and he and I would do it. But she was pretty keen on doing it then, and to be honest so was I. So the three girls put together the majority of Hemnes set of drawers and the whole of the shoe shelf. I was impressed with the dexterity of Embla. She even used a hammer pretty well. I'm guessing they must train kids here early in IKEA furniture construction.
The last item of business of the day was dinner at Anne's house. We made our way there and were greeted by some lovely food that her husband had cooked. It was red rice with chicken breasts covered in vegetables and bacon I think, cooked in the oven. Really tasty. We also had some cask red from Australia (apparently). The boy also got to try some beers that they had in their cellar and we got a tour of the house. Towards the end of the evening, we started playing a board game. It was effectively dungeons and dragons, as far as we could tell. We ended up winning by accident. We played as a team, Anne and Per were the second and Embla and Ask (their son) were the final team, though Embla wasn't particularly interested and spent most of the game out of the room.
Okay, this is already a long post, I shall add some more stuff at a later time. Right now, I'm going to have a shower and get some thesis work done. I'll be back later on today to talk to you about Saturday Sweets, new shoes and Thai food, Swedish style.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I fucking love running

Exercise makes everything better. It fixes all problems. Well, perhaps that is an overstatement. But it makes me happier. I was feeling rather, shall we say, unhappy about the thesis. I went for a 20 min jog/run around the area surrounding our flat. I feel so much better now. I've found out it's possible to run, even when it's really cold outside (about 3 degrees C). I didn't get lost and I saw a bit more of the area. It's rather lovely around here. There are lots of shops and cafes and the like. Fantastic! I think this will soon become a daily routine. Help me clear my head.

So, message reads, yay for running.


I got another draft returned from my supervisor this afternoon, Swedish time. Getting an email from him fills me both with hope and dread. Hope that he'll like what I've written, dread that it will not be good enough.
As ever, it wasn't good enough. This chapter he didn't like the structure of it and wants it to be more like a former student of the lab who did something similar. Bleh! It means more work for me, more than I had hoped for. But I had to expect it really. I kinda feel like it'll never be over. But that can't be true. It has to finish.
I'm also not sure how much time I'll have for my thesis, now that I'll be working full time in a new lab. I'm lucky that I have a 'househusband' to sort out the house stuff so I can work at night.
Speaking of that, I should probably go do that now, start some thesis work. More to come about the Swedish experience, including our trip to IKEA and subsequent construction efforts by me, my new boss and her 7 year old daughter, who is quite handy with a hammer and an allen key.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Hello and welcome to a blog post from Sweden. I'm sitting in our kitchen, at the kitchen table. The boy is cooking some pasta that we bought at a market hall thing yesterday. Two different types, one with walnuts in the pasta and stuffed with cheese and the others made with normal pasta and a different type of cheese. We have a couple of candles burning and it's been raining all day.

Welcome to Sweden!

But it's not that bad. I'm not sure what to say about Sweden just yet. It's cold, (yay!), it's very ordered, it's full of people who speak English well. Our apartment is a studio, but has a kitchen with room for a table that sits 6 and two full sized fridge/freezer things. Our bed is tiny for a double or large for a single, we haven't quite worked that out. We can't work out how to turn the heating down, and it's really quite warm in the flat, somewhere around 25 degrees, which is far to warm for sleeping purposes. We don't know where our rubbish goes, or whether we have a storage room. But, we do know how to book the laundry in the building and it's about two doors down from our flat. So we're pretty well set up.

There's a supermarket 2 mins walk from the flat, a lolly shop across the road, a fruit and veg shop + deli as well. We have a 7-11 nearby too. I can walk to work in about 10 minutes (uphill) and we're about 15-20 mins stroll from the centre of town.

Hmm, what else? We've still not found out what the rent will be on this flat. We don't have a bank account. But hey, we've only been here for 2 days.

Okay, I'd better go, the pasta is almost ready and I should probably go and see if the boy needs any help.

By the way, my English has gone to shit since we arrived. I think it's because I'm trying my darndest to learn as much Swedish as possible. So all my nouns have gone missing from my brain. Apologies for the wandering manner of this post and my potentially shitehouse English from now on. Better get that thesis finished!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Less than a week to go

So I'm currently visiting my Opa who is on his last week of chemo and radiation therapy. It's likely that while this may help and completely reduce the tumour (10%), the more likely scenario is that he will have a smaller tumour removed surgically later. But we'll find out about that in March. Otherwise he's doing okay. He doesn't like to eat too much because it results in pain at the other end. He's lost 10kgs and Oma has lost 5 due to the lack of full meals. But there he's still relatively positive, even if he does whinge a bit. My brother and I drove up from Melbourne last night and were amazed by the destruction we saw from the Hume, brought by the bushfires. It was amazing how much was burnt and how much smoke there still was in the air.

P (the brother) has managed, through working and playing too hard, to get himself a dose of flu. He's got a fever, sore throat, headache, sinus pain etc etc. So he's currently napping again, after a full day of napping. I didn't realise how sick he was on the drive up though, until we stopped for some food at a 'crap in a box' chain restaurant and he was saying how cold he was, but was burning up. It's a trip to the doctor tomorrow. Poor bugger.

To the topic of today's post, less than a week to go. This time next week I'll be on a plane, somewhere (I think) between Hong Kong and Helsinki. I would love to say that tomorrow I'm flying to Canberra to submit my thesis. But alas, this is not the case. What is the case is that I will have two full drafts of my thesis completed and submitted to my supervisor by Friday the 20th of February. As ever, the thesis is taking longer than expected. I have made significant changes to the original documents and it currently sits at about 30, 000 words of thesis goodness. I'm hopeful that it really will be only 1 more draft and then I can submit. I would have loved to be finished by now, but I hope that by submitting later I might actually pass. Updates no doubt to come soon.

I think I shall now go and do a little bit of work on the thesis while Opa watches the news.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thesis thesis thesis thesis

So the last few weeks have been pretty full on with thesis work. I've been working solidly towards getting the thesis done. We fly to Sweden on the 24th of February and I'm hoping (cross your fingers for me) to submit on the 19th of Feb. That means the thesis has to be finished and printed before then. I think it's possible, I hope it's possible, I expect that I will make it possible.

Inter-dispersed between these bouts of thesis mania have been a number of different things. I found out a lovely lovely woman I was friends with in Canberra died last week from secondary cancers. She originally had breast cancer a number of years ago. She was a very stylish, friendly woman who had great taste in shoes. We weren't super close by any stretch of the imagination. We met through dancing and would talk and see each other occasionally, at socials and other events. I was so sad to hear of her death. She was only 35. 10 minute prior to finding this out, I got an email from a friend from uni. He's relapsed again with his lymphoma and is going into his last attempt at cure with some really hardcore chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant. I'm hopeful that he'll do well and recover.
So I've had two people I know be touched by cancer. That an my Opa is currently undergoing treatment for bowel cancer. It's just a cancer-a-thon. I'm really looking forward to some good news.

I'm not sure if this counts as good news, or just something that is new. I've been making good progress with the couch to 5km program and am up to week 7 of 9. This means I'm going for 25 minute runs/jogs 3 times this week. I've already done 2 at this length and was able to run further the second time. My running buddy is in Canberra at conference this week, and the temperature is going to be over 40 degrees until Sunday, so I'm not sure how well I'll go on the planned runs for Wednesday and Friday, but I can but try.

Anywhoodle, back to thesis talk, seeing as that is all my life is about, if you pay attention to the questions I get asked by people. I look forward to a time when someone asks me how my thesis is going and I can tell them that it's done, finished, submitted and dealt with. 3 weeks today until I need to print it. Today I'm sitting in the state library in the domed reading room, making use of the free wireless. It's nice in here, cool, well lit, and the desks are really old wooden ones. It usually works to make me work well and focus. Today isn't going so well, but I'm almost done with my planned work for today, so maybe that has something to do with it.
Bleh, I'm also suffering from raccoon eyes. I've not been sleeping terribly well, too much stress = too little good quality sleep. I have exceptionally vivid dreams which while not specifically nightmares, are disruptive to good quality sleep. But at least I can aim for pretty well rested eyes after the 19th of Feb. With that in mind I'm going to leave this poorly constructed post and go back to the joys of chapter 5.