Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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swedish word of the month: latmask

This was actually one of the first wlatmaskords I learned in Swedish, after hello and hippopotamus (priorities). I learned latmask because my dear wife lovingly adorns me with the title, often. Latmask is pronounced laht-mahsk. Directly translated latmask means lazy worm, so Evelina clearly thinks I’m an up-and-go kind of person.

The old adage goes, the early bird gets the worm. So logically the lazy worm doesn’t get eaten. I’m choosing to see the bright side of things – Evelina is essentially saying I’m a clever survivor.

If you Google lazy worm, you get a bunch of amusing pictures, like the one shown here. I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s Swedish word of the month. Just think, now you can start calling everyone you know a latmask!

signatureUntil next time.

 

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swedish word of the month: fika

2018 is officially underway and I’m excited to start something new for the year here at ENK. Every month I’ll post a new Swedish word for your enjoyment. In this way you too, dear reader, can learn some important, interesting and/or usefully vocabulary for your next visit to the land of IKEA.

For my first word I have chosen fika. Those who know me, read this blog, or have ever been to Sweden know the importance of this holy-to-a-godless-people ritual. I’ve written quite a bit on the subject of fika here on ENK. The first mention was in March 4th, 2012 where I list seven important things to know about Sweden. This was the first of two posts featuring a short list of important things Swedish – both of which mention the all mighty fika ritual.

I’ve tagged the word “fika” in 13 (now 14) posts, so you know it’s a hot topic here. The most encompassing fika post however is what is fika?

Pronounced fee-kah (realizing now I’ve never explained this), the daily tradition of taking some time to sit down for some coffee and a tasty treat to eat is observed in many settings. At work you get a fikapaus (break for fika). Many a Sunday afternoon is spent having fika with friends, family, or strangers at a local coffee shop. Don’t worry, you don’t have to limit yourself to coffee if you’re not a coffee drinker *gasp*. Tea, hot chocolate, juice, milk…yes, your beverage of choice may be consumed at this midday meeting of minds. The highlight of any good fika is, often, the company you’re with. Good conversation may be the true highlight of any fika. Conversation and the coffee. Coffee is really quite a highlight for me. Coffee:

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Fika is for anyone and everyone. Come one, come all! Sweden isn’t just the land of IKEA but also the land of fika.

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2017, that happened

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My last blog post that did not feature a book was in July. That’s quite a few months of happenings with no writing. In fact, after doing a quick scroll through of my 2017 blog I now realize I’ve only posted 7 times outside of my book of the month posts. Seven:

  1. one year old
  2. finally 2017 (a look ahead)
  3. ry-guy
  4. mediwift
  5. t-man
  6. 15 days: my iphone withdrawal story
  7. four(teen)th of july

Either there’s not a whole lot going on for me, or a whole helluva lot. To be honest, definitely some of both. So, yeah, that happened. I do want to continue my recent tradition of reverse bucket listing my year. This year’s list will serve two purposes: it’s a great way to reflect on the good times of 2017, and is also a list of blog posts soon to be featured here:

  1. Hosted wintry guests
  2. Went on a cruise
  3. Celebrated weddings in Newport, RI and Sundance, UT
  4. Traveled to the western USA with my family
  5. Saw the Grand Canyon
  6. Went to Vegas
  7. Followed my savings plan
  8. Coached a growing group of girls
  9. Attended my 10 year high school reunion
  10. Completed another year of my ECE degree

I’ll stop at 10, because that’s been my modus operandi the previous two years, but there may be an extra post or two coming down the pipeline with happenings from the eventful 2017 – like my epic summer vacation. Get ready, 2018 is here.

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2016 a year passed


Last year I did a retrospective on the year that had recently passed, entitled Looking Back : 2015 Resolutions. I realized late in the year (right around December 31st) that I had failed to make any New Year’s resolutions for 2015. No worries though, because I reverse bucket listed my year instead. This year I thought I’d make a tradition of it and do the same thing again. 

Reverse bucket listing works as such; taking time to reflect on the year passed write down all the things you’ve done that are particularly memorable, notworthy, or just plain awesome. Differing from a normal bucket list as all the things on this list are completed.

Though I still have one post to write from my 2015 reversed bucket list I’m plowing ahead to 2016. Here’s the list:

  1. Helped bring a wonderful baby into the world 
  2. Cooked up a storm
  3. Watched my baby grow and grow
  4. Got a new pair of glasses
  5. Went on our first family vacation 
  6. Cut off a bunch of my hair
  7. Traveled to Austria
  8. Coached a great group of girls 
  9. Completed the first year of my ECE degree
  10. Enjoyed months of maternity leave

Yet again, I have not written about all of these wonderous events, so stay tuned! 2017 is going to bring more than a few new blog posts!


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what is fika?

Listen up! This is important. Open your eyes now, people, you’re about to gain some knowledge!

An immediate differentiation should be made, that fika and FICA are two very, very different things. The latter is a taxing system that funds Social Security and Mecicare. That’s definitely not what this is about. The former is what we’re here today to discuss.

Fika, with the all important “K”, is a Swedish tradition, incurred daily, which allows for the intake of caffeine and sugar. Some argue that this event should take place at 2:30 pm on the dot, but I’m not here to set the rules, I’m here to enjoy the party!

In this instance, when I say party, I mean an often quiet moment during the day where you sit down with co-workers, friends or family and take a second to enjoy their company. As well as the aforementioned sugar and caffeine. Not to be confused with the British tea-time, Swedish fika is a beast of its own.

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Fika can actually happen anytime, anywhere. From meeting up with friends at a local café or in the comfort of your own home alone or with your favorite family members (let’s be honest, we all have favorites). Swedes can fika in public, from outdoors in a park with a homemade selection of sweets and a thermos of coffee to riding a SJ train from Malmo to Stockholm in the dining car. Fika isn’t only a daily break from the hustle and bustle that is our fast-paced lives, it’s a lifestyle of taking the time to stop and smell the coffee.

As previously mentioned there are no rules when it comes to fika, but one of my favorite treats to enjoy with my coffee are Swedish chocolate balls. (If you know anything about me you know how extrememly dificult it was for me to decide on just one treat). Here’s the recipe so you too can enjoy a moment of Swedish fika in your busy busy day:

Ingredients:

  • 2 dl oats
  • 1 dl sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cold coffee
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 150g butter 
  • Coconut shavings or sprinkles or both


Directions:

  1. Convert everything to cups if you don’t have a deciliter measuring device. I’ll help you get there by telling you that 1 dl is 0.42 cups.
  2. Mix all ingredients except the coconut/sprinkles in a bowl.
  3. Roll mixture into balls. Larger balls will be about 1.5 inches in diameter smaller balls can be about 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Pour a small amount of coconut (or sprinkles) on a plate, one or two handfuls will be enough to get started. Coat the balls with coconut or sprinkles by rolling them around the plate. As the coconut/sprinkles run out, add more to the plate. 
  5. Makes about 14 large balls or 20 small balls.







Side bar: For those of you who like words, I just had to check the etymology of the word “fika” and according to professor Lars-Gunnar Andersson at the University of Gothenburg the word fika comes from an alternate form of a Swedish word for coffee (kaffi). The word “kaffi” is cut in the middle and each side swapped, as a type of slang (since that just seems like the easiest kind of slang there is…) which results in “fika“!


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language arts

picture credit: itchy feet

Have you ever thought about this concept? For me the idea of language arts has gone somewhat unnoticed until my move to Sweden. We had a Language Arts building in high school. Let me explain that further, we had an open campus, which means multiple buildings and a nice little walk outdoors between each class. The outdoor time was especially appreciated during winters in New England. The Language Arts building is where students had their foreign language classes and some English classes (like Medieval literature – which I took senior year). Being the wonderfully cheerful teenager that I was I never put a lot of thought into the naming of the building, but it’s a concept I was reminded of during recent pondering.

What does Language Arts really mean, what about language is an art? Just as music is an art, where the reading and composing of notes creates the beautiful sounds that humans across the globe cannot get enough of, language is also an art. Though I never really understood the deep connections between say language and music (or painting, or what have you) until I really  learned my second language (and exited my moody teenage years).

When writing, and speaking, word composition is just as important as music composition, or the composition of a painting, et cetera. Just take that word “composition” in the previous sentence how it can be applied in so many contexts. What I’m getting at is the fact that I’ve recently been considering language, along with the other art forms, as a sincere form of expression. It takes skill and practice to be articulate. Even more skill and practice to be articulate in multiple tongues. Just as any art form takes skill and practice to perfect.

If language is a form of expression that begs the question: What do you mean? What is it that you really want to say? What is the best way of saying it? Are you going for clarity? Beauty? Irony? Melody?  I don’t think these questions need answers, I just think they’re worth considering. They are at least for me in my inner wonderings about self-expression, communication and how I use language to do it.

That being said, word choice is one of the most important aspects of language. I find saying what you mean to often be the goal of communicating, and I do think this is the essential purpose of language. All people across the globe use language as a way of finding one other and attempting to understand those around us. In that I see beauty.

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gröna lund

One of many Things To Do In Sweden, as listed by yours truly, is to visit Gröna Lund. Which is an amusement park on Djurgården island, which you can get to by ferry, bus, car, bike, skateboard, walking – and those standing scooter things that I assume were created to increase the spread of obesity the world over. And yes, standing scooter things is an official Google search term.

What I’m saying is, you can get there by many means. Once there, and you have paid the admission fee and possibly bought your ride wrist band or tickets, you are free to run around and explore the wonderful mini-world that is this amusement park.

I’ve been a few times, the most recent time being last summer. My personal favorite rides are the tallest ones, especially Eclipse where you can see absolutely fabulous views of Stockholm.

Gröan 2015

Grönan 2

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Of course no trip to Gröna Lund would be complete without Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!

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All in all Grönan (as the locals call it) is a great time!

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