Summer House/Cruise

Sometimes I can feel Swedish culture seeping into my bones.  It's a conscious thing that I try to fight, but I know it's inevitable.  Living anywhere you'll pick some things up.  One thing that I've picked up is that longing to go out to the summer house.  Whenever there is good weather here, Swedes with access to a summer house high-tail it to said summer house.  It's like an addiction.  The sun comes out and reminds you that you need your fix.

Bag packed, ready to go!
The summer house doesn't belong to us.  We don't have keys or anything.  I don't even know if there are keys to the place because the doors are always opened.  But whenever we want to go, we can go.  Why?  Because Swedie's aunt and uncle (that own the place) are ALWAYS out there.  Any the hint of nice weather or a long weekend they're there.  That's a comforting thought for me.  I've been out to the summer house (also known as the "country house") four or five times now.  At first it was a culture shock, but I got used to it and now I look forward to it. So it's good to know that when I want to go out there, I can go.

This past weekend was a three-day weekend for me, so what else was there to do but go to the summer house?  Swedie made the obligatory call and was told that we were indeed welcome to join the family.  And as a bonus, Birgitta, Nat-Nat and Young Cousin would be there!  This should be fun!

Since the first trip to the summer house, the toilet situation has changed.  The new toilet is more Expat Jon friendly.  There is no longer a need to shovel potpourri looking wood chips onto your poop.  This new high-tech toilet comes with cloth liners that you lay down in the seat and then poop into.  Then when you press the button, the cloth liner and all of your waste drops into who knows where.  It's like an airplane toilet except the seat is alarmingly warm.

Going to the summer house is different now because of Bash.  Scratch that.  Everything is different now because of Bash.  It used to be: pack up at the last minute, throw the bags in the trunk, set up the music and drive.  Now it's: dress the baby, pack the baby bag, put the baby in the car seat, get the stroller ready, notice that the baby threw up, clean the baby up, dress the baby again, put the baby back in the car seat, call the elevator, hold the elevator, load the elevator, unload the elevator, strategically fill the trunk, put the baby in the car, set up the music and drive.  The funny thing is, I didn't even notice that big difference until just now.  So I guess he's worth it.

I have a routine now of taking my shoes off as soon as I put our bags in the cabin.  It's a refreshing ritual to just drop your shoes for the weekend.  That first barefoot step into the grass is the sign of good times in the near future.  Bash got absorbed by all of the women as soon as we got there, so that's a load off of us.  Glad he's fun, now I can put these beers in the fridge.  I put my twelve in and took a couple of cold ones out.  Time to share one with the uncle.  It's good to have a beer with him.

Young Cousin had a couple of friends over.  One of them I know pretty well.  The guy is a ball of energy.  He apparently made the most delicious salad ever just before we got there.  Everyone was doing that Swedish thing where they take turns giving their input on a minute thing.  It's amazing.  They latch on to a small subject that can take four seconds to talk about (i.e. clouds, leaves or tables) and then every single person gives their twenty cents on the subject.  Everyone is completely engaged, too.  That small subject this time was that salad.  Somehow I was able to get a bite of this heavenly salad.  It was... a salad.  Delicious in its own right, but really, how good can a salad be?  I couldn't contribute more than:

       - Really good!

But somehow they talked about this salad for a good ten minutes and it was pretty much gone before we got there.  So they must have spent a good amount of time talking about it while it was still gracing the bowl with its heavenly presence.  Young Cousin's friend explained how to make it in detail at least twice before dinner.  Each ingredient was met with an engaged eating sound.
I hadn't seen a whol bird
on the grill before.  It was

       - Mmm!


We threw the football around a bit.  Everyone is getting better at it.  We had some good barbecue for dinner, and a movie afterwards put old me to sleep.

Young Cousin's friend.  Fisherman
and Salad-Maker Extraordinaire
The next day we went out on the boat.  Well, the guys did.  Besides being the best salad maker in the world, Young Cousin's friend is also an amazing fisherman.  He stood on the dock while we put the boat in the water and caught a fish.  Just like that.  He let it go because this wasn't a fishing trip.  Then out on the water he caught a fish.  We weren't prepared to fish, but this one died on the hook, so we put it in a makeshift fishing bucket.  Birgitta would cook it later.

I love going out on the boat.  The view is beautiful.  The company is always fun.  The boat is nice.  But one way Sweden has not gotten into my bones is my continued lack of desire to swim in that cold ass water.  I'm not there yet.  The Florida in me will not allow it.  My body goes into survival mode when the water hits me.  A shaking, tense me is not a fun me.  So no thanks, guys.  I do not want to swim.  I will sit here in the warm sun and enjoy it.  They all got in with smiles on their faces.  I don't see how.  I shiver at the thought of that water.

The next day we went on a day cruise to Finland for just 15 crowns (just over two dollars!!!).  That was nice.  The ride took about two hours.  We had our first beer at about 9:30am.  My kind of party!  We passed through the archipelago on the way.  It was beautiful.  The ship had a trivia game when we got close to our destination.  The questions were about Swedish music (naturally).  Some family got all of the questions right and sent their 10 year old kid up like he came up with the answers (naturally).  Our destination was an island in Finland called Åland.  Everyone speaks Swedish on this island.  I'm sure that's due to some war or something from forever ago.  Interesting, nonetheless.  The signs and advertisements on the island were in Swedish.

We walked the 15 minute walk to the beach area.  It looked like it could be a party around there in the evenings.  I had the worst salad ever at this restaurant on the dock.  How hard is it to make a caesar salad? Maybe Young Cousin's friend should give them some tips.  I'm kind of old fashioned, so good service can win me over despite bad food.  Too bad we had the worst waiter ever!  He wasn't only bad at making sure his customers were okay, but he had the personality of my napkin.  He never made eye contact with any of us, and a smile was not in his catalogue of facial expressions.  He must know the owner or something.  I can't imagine this guy nailing the interview.  He was bad even on Swedish standards for service (low).

We went to the beach and it was really a beach.  The "beaches" I had seen in Sweden had grass on them.  This was sand.  There were trees closer than I'm used to, but I'm no snob.  Did I mention I'm from Miami?  Allow me to turn up my nose.  It was very nice.  I walked into the water with Bash.  He had a good time.  I didn't know how rewarding it would be to splash him around in the cold water.  He loved it!  Swedie and I went in together a bit later.  It was very cold, but we finally got up the bravery to immerse ourselves in the water.  We got out after a few minutes, but it was nice.  Me and my lady having a good time.

I had to get a good burger and beer in me (standard) before going back to the boat.  We made our way to a nice restaurant with seats outside.  I got my beer and burger and dived in.  This trip was a great idea.  We all winded down on the ship on the way back.  Everyone was tired from our day out at the beach.  There was a singer performing some Swedish and American hits for us.  He was pretty good despite his pronunciation of a certain state from a certain John Denver song:

       - Country roads, Take me home
         To the place, I belong
         WEST WEGINJAAA!!!

Where?  Come on, bro.  It's your job.  At least I got a good chuckle in on my way home.  The view from the ship was glorious.  The sun peeking behind some clouds over the archipelago.  I had to take pictures of that.

This was my best time out at the summer house yet.  Good family, good times, fun on/in the water, GREAT salad, and this time even a good cruise!  I wouldn't mind more of this seeping into my bones.  That's why the summer house is so attractive to everyone.  You never know what's going to happen out there.  But you know it's gonna be great.  Until next time...

Young Cousin and me.  Ready for whatever.


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