Reports from Sweden 17 - September 14, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hello People,

Our time is Stockholm is winding to a close and it sometimes feels like what we have been doing this last two weeks is just getting ready to move back to Hanover. In fact we have started to trickle back to North America already, lead by Will. Will flew back to New Hampshire on Aug 30th, and started the junior year of high school the next day. I know he was itching to get back and didn't want to miss the beginning of school. I'm told the trip was simple and went as planned and all is well in Hanover. He is staying with a friend for two weeks.

I am spending a lot of time trying to write my book, and have just finished the tenth chapter which is about time. I start with the question of how do we recognize time and then go to the problem how do we measure time. What are good clocks all about? The lifetime of Delta particle is 10^21 seconds. The age of the Universe is 13.7 billion years - or 4x10^17 seconds. It takes the Solar System 220 million years (or 7x10^15 sec.) to travel around the Milky Way Galaxy. But the right time for a family to spend in a Swedish orbit, and then return home is about 16 million seconds, or six months.

I think one of the reasons I didn't want to jump on a plane and follow Will right away is that there are places and people in Stockholm which and whom I have enjoyed, and wanted to visit again. So we have been tramping around town visiting places, and on weekends we have be breaking bread (and an other types of food) with various friends.

We have had a lot of rain, and that first weekend I thought we were just going to hunker down in the apartment. But it stopped raining in the afternoons and on Saturday Kristina and I rode the #69 bus out to the east end of Djurgården. We sat in the sunshine reading books and newspapers near the marsh full of birds. We ended up at a cafe at Blockhusudden and had coffee and buns. That evening Tomas and Mia invited us over to their apartment. It is an apartment which fit two people snugly, and five people in a friendly tightness. But it was a lot of fun and people and food were great.

On Sunday I took a walk which I had not done since the spring. From our apartment I headed east past Albanova and into the northern part of the big city park - Norra Djurgården. Here the woods are laced with walking trails, bridle paths, and bike trails. At one point I was crossing am open grassland and saw a pleasant looking pavilion on the side of a pond just ahead of me. I wanted to stop, but could think of no good reason to tarry. But then, just as I was passing it, it started to rain. I spent a pleasant twenty minutes there with my thermos of tea, watching the rain churn up the surface of the pond. Then I continued my walk to the shore of Lilla Värten. I sat here for a long time watching the boats going up and down the channel, then walked home.

During the week I wrote the previous "Swedish Reports" about our European trip, and worked on my book at Stadsbiblioteket (the city library). Robin has been trying to get himself ready for school in Hanover by working on math to bridge the gap between here and there. He also has been baby sitting Josef, Nickolay and Natala's four month old baby. But all work and no play would makes us very dull. So Thursday evening we all went to the movie "Ocean's 13", which was a lot of fun.

This past weekend Kristina and I made a last trip to Fjöderholmarna, the island park east of the city which has a number of art studios. It was raining as we rode the boat out, and there were only three other passengers on-board. I spent about half an hour in the wood studio talking to the craftsman. He took me back into his work area, since there was no one else around. Kristina was next door at the glass studio, rearranging their stock and picking out things. It is always fun to watch them take red glowing glass which is soft and dripping and see them cut it and shape it and watch its colors change until it is solid clear glass. The glass blower was making a vase and sticking multicolored "buds" or "barnacles" on the outside.

After a fancy lunch we headed home, collected Robin and went off to Täby Kyrkby, to have dinner with Nickolay, Natala and their family. It is always fun to play with Josef, Kristina and Stefan.

On Sunday the weather cleared in the afternoon and so I took this as one last chance for a bicycle ride. I rode east to the island of Lingdö. Here I happened upon a very nice bike path which wound its way through the woods and across field full of grazing sheep and eventually ended at Elfvik. Elfvik must have been quite the manor in its day. Now it is an extensive equestrian center. The cafe was just closing, but I watched half a dozen horses come out of the stables, and riders trot off over the fields.

Beyond Elfvik I found a dirt road which lead to the east end of the island. Here there are a line of mailboxes and a dock. I think people who live on the islands near here may use this as their primary mainland port. It is not fancy, it is a simple old rust dock where I sat for an hour enjoying the sea, the sun and the smell of salt and autumn.

At home we went to "Cafe Tranan" in Odenplan. Tomas and Mia met us there for dinner. We have become fans of this place. I especially like to pick out a different traditional Swedish dish each time. I had a paper thin slice of raw beef with roe (fish eggs) and toast! Robin is a consistent fan of the meatballs.

You may be asking yourself what Robin is up to? It seems like often Kristina and I go off on weekends and he stays put. It is true that on Wednesday, after he had baby sat Joesph again, that he and I went to Hötorget and Gamla Stan to buy gifts, but most of the time he wants to hang out with his friends here at Wenner Gren. I think he has really enjoyed the green open space in the middle of the center, and most evenings Robin and half a dozen other kids are out there kicking a ball, playing fotboll, or just talking and having fun. I think he will miss the simplicity of just stepping out the door to met his friends.

So we are nearly packed. The last laundry is done and I'll be taking two more boxes to the post office. Tonight our neighbors have invited us to dinner (we have almost no food left in the apartment). Tomorrow we will head to the airport and fly west, into the sunset, and home to New Hampshire.


Map of Stockholm
With places mentioned in this report

Map of bike trip to Elfvik

Kristina at Blockhusudden
Robin and Josef
Tim writing in the Park
Stefan and Kristina
Elfvik bike ride
Cafe Tranan
Tim by Brunnsviken
Robin, Taro and Shino
Shino, Robin and Taro