Thursday, May 29, 2008


Sunlight! So tiring! Haha. I am in Rättvik, in the Swedish heartland, close to where they make those little painted Swedish horses. Everything's still irritatingly cute. Weather is insane. It's sunny and warm from like 4am until around 11pm, maybe 10:30. Very discouraging. Today I rebelled and spent a Whole Hour sitting on the hostel's front lawn and reading a Novel Unrelated to Work or School in Any Way. It was great. Otherwise, been pretty busy.

Notes of scale:
40 Swedish kronor = about 7 American dollars
cost of tank of gas = 400 kronor
tanks burned through so far = 3 (it was full when I started)
kilometers driven = 1551
kilometers left to drive = untold zillions (I've really barely started)
where I'm sleeping tonight = Rättvik
where I'm sleeping tomorrow night = Sälen
cans of RedBull consumed = only 3!

Readers' poll:
What do people who aren't guidebook writers do when they're on vacation?

Just curious.

Have realized I generally dislike exploring cities and towns of medium size. You have to go through them too quickly to be able to perceive any of their personality, which makes it seem like they have none. I have to take particularly excellent notes in medium-size towns because the second I leave, I forget everything about them. Right now, for example, I can't remember one single thing about Karlstad, except for its cool name. I'm not sure if it was Sunne or Sala whose main square was a parking lot. Wait, no, was it Askelsund...? I mean, these are places I've visited within the past week! But there are so many of them. And after about half a dozen they start to blur and smudge and fade. If I drove back through Sala or Sunne or Askelsund now it might look familiar or, equally imaginable, it might no longer exist at all.

Not to be completely solipsistic.

(I guess that's redundant.)

Anyway, Rättvik left an impression on me; I remembered it from last time. It's tiny, sleepy. Can't remember where I stayed, though - probably a campsite along the way, or maybe this was one of those nights when I slept in my car. But I remembered the long bridge and the ace konditori and the gang of feral kids hanging around the train station.

I hadn't realized until yesterday that it is also the home of one of my favorite critters, the Mörksuggan. Hard to translate. It's something like 'dark sow' but that name isn't cute enough to describe the critter's rotund, fuzzy-tailed, pointy-eared, ghoul-eyed darlingness. It's a little wooden carving thingie, painted black. It rocks gently on its little pointed feet. Margo has one. They look sort of like Moomins. Anyway! Apparently the artist was a local, and the library had a big exhibit about him. He was primarily a painter, and did some things that I believe were etchings, but none of us could come up with the precise word in English, and now I've forgotten the Swedish word (it's upstairs on a note). Forgot his name, too, but I bought a book about him, in Swedish, and the three librarians attending to me were so pleased that a stranger had exhibited interest, they gave me another book ("a gift from the foundation"). They were really excited. I was, too, enough to subject them to my poor, crude Swedish. Which I guess they dug, bless them.

Anyway. Still no wifi, but - pictures of mörksuggarna to come, along with, of course, the shaved cat, some caged bears, and many adorable (but totally unaffecting) pastoral country scenes. Stay alert.


  1. Duderina9:00 PM

    Response to readers’ poll: Please allow me to share Beijing-Ada’s youthful practices, which helped me learn the meaning of vacation: check into first class hotel in village in low season. For 5 days. Never mind about the view. Have breakfast each morning 8.30 in chambre separée, a minimum of 20 tasty quality dishes. Go back to your private room and sleep. 11.30: have a driver pick you up and take you to a local site of interest. Do no photography, no writing. Ask no questions. Do read a few signs, and observe nonsense things like the design of trashcans, or cats shaved as poodles. 2 pm: Have the driver take you back to the hotel for lunch, perhaps in another floor, but same privacy, at least 20 dishes, and plenty of wine or beer. Go back to your room and sleep. 7 pm: Repeat the meal, add new dishes. End the evenings with karaoke and drinks in the hotel.

  2. An excellent model.

    I found the word! For what the dark-sow artist does, besides painting. Duderina, maybe you can translate: spranggraver, with two dots over the first a. Hmm? Anyone? Is it etching? engraving? The librarians made gestures of throwing sticks and leaves into the air and catching them on a copper plate covered in wax. Sounds like an etching to me...