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.