Fall break

I spent the week in Stockholm, and pretty much in Swedish. It was a fun week, and I was especially pleased about the “in Swedish” part. I stayed with Alice K, a friend from home who is in the country for about 3 months and was staying at the home of a cousin in the upscale suburb of Stocksund (while the cousin herself was in the US). So we had a nice quiet spacious place, and a nice visit, and Alice humored me by correcting my Swedish sometimes.

Sunday evening: Skeppis folk music club — my first time there but certainly not my last. Fiddler Eva Karlsson taught a couple of tunes from Närke, I played in a couple of nice sessions, I had some very enjoyable dances. The whole volunteer-run thing is free (except for the modestly priced fika), and people sign up on a list to play for dancing. This scene felt very welcoming and that was a tremendous relief after the previous evening in Uppsala. And finding a half-dozen familiar faces there made everything seem that much nicer.

Tuesday: met my cousin Peter in town for an evening excursion to the Moderna Museet, where we saw their current special exhibits on Picasso & Duchamp (premise: they detested each other but if you poke hard enough you can find shared philosophies, sort of — plus it’s fun to build a maze of a gallery with dark red and dark blue walls) and Wolfgang Tillmans (premise: evidently whatever falls out of his head is art — which is more OK with me when the 8-foot-tall photos are of a night sky or people inexplicably sitting in a tree than when they’re a guy peeing on a chair), and then we went out for a late dinner at a schmancy nearby place. We had a nice time together. Although I have apparently reached the stage where my brain is crossing signals between Swedish and Latvian, so periodically I seemed not to have any functional languages — argh.

Wednesday: Alice K and had a play-date with Anders Hällström, who happened to be staying in town (Bagarmossen) for a while after the Oktoberstämman. Five hours chock-filled with a huge variety of fiddle tunes, and hanging out with a riksspelman who can play near ’bout anything. Way fun!

Thursday: a foray into the world of second-hand shops (called, in Swedish, “second hand”), occasioned by the realization that staying in a tony neighborhood required me to investigate. Happy find: there’s an iPhone app for that! [Longer geeky discussion for later: I also finally figured out the incantation to install free apps that are only available in the Swedish app store.] Net: one black cashmere cardigan, two new children’s books, and a circuit of several promising places to go back to in Östermalm. Also, a deeper appreciation of how it is really fully nighttime by 5pm.

Friday: play-date with Alice F-J in Grillby, long train/bus ride out of the city and an overnight stay. In which I do not actually become more competent at discussing politics in Swedish.

Saturday: afternoon visit with Gustaf, the friend Mills and I met in summer 2010 when he was our couchsurfing host. Mostly we sat in his kitchen and talked and worked on a big jigsaw puzzle and listened to interesting music I hadn’t heard, and it was exactly like being on vacation. Extra-special bonus: he brought out the Medelpad volume of Svenska Låtar, which his brother had bought at an antikvariat years ago and he’d never used, and he gave it to me! The very same volume we’d just been discussing with Anders a couple days earlier. Very excited to have my very own copy.

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