deceptively still as they
race for finish line
This is one of my favorite photos from our spring trip to Sweden.
Zippy, Zebu, and I were walking across a square in Stockholm when I noticed this artful arrangement in the cobblestones. Who knew manhole covers could be so appealing?
Well, this guy, for one.
I photographed these carved figures with my phone while visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, and have held onto the bizarre image for months as I waited for the right time to display it here.
Today feels like an especially good day in the Corporate States of America to share these figures from the Vasa’s prow.
I’ll let Wikipedia explain:
[The Vasa] was constructed at the navy yard in Stockholm under a contract with private entrepreneurs in 1626–1627 and armed primarily with bronze cannons cast in Stockholm specifically for the ship. Richly decorated as a symbol of the king’s ambitions for Sweden and himself, upon completion she was one of the most powerfully armed vessels in the world. However, Vasa was dangerously unstable and top-heavy with too much weight in the upper structure of the hull. Despite this lack of stability she was ordered to sea and foundered only a few minutes after encountering a wind stronger than a breeze.
Greed and arrogance.
The Vasa sank after traveling just 1300 meters.
Today I’m indulging in a little wishful thinking.
(NOTE: As a writer, I’m also thinking about how there’s truly no such thing as an original plot line. Greedheads gonna be greedheads, from the beginning of time…)
Last August, my 20-year-old son left for Uppsala, Sweden. He lived and studied there for two semesters. As I write this, he is flying back to Colorado. His study abroad adventure is nearly over. (The adventure continued up to the last minute: He and nine other passengers were caught in a long, passport line and arrived at their gate just after it closed, so Iceland Air stopped the plane out on the runway and had a bus deliver Zebu and the other nine passengers to the plane.)
Over the past several months, Zebu has said that his study abroad experience has been the best year of his life. It didn’t start out so well.
When he arrived in Uppsala, he discovered that TSA had locked his suitcase. Half his belongings, including his raincoat, were inside. He paid a taxi driver way too much to drive him into the city and then spent an entire rainy day hauling the 50-pound suitcase around the cobblestones, trying to get it unlocked. Kind people in luggage stores tried different keys, with no success. Someone finally directed him to a shoe repair store where the man cut the locks off the suitcase.
Zebu later confessed that that day, as he struggled with language barriers, a lack of wifi, hunger, and jet lag, he wanted nothing more than to turn around and fly back home.
Obviously, he’s very glad he stayed. And here he is in May, standing outside that shoe repair store.
I asked to see that store when we visited, because it felt symbolic. I was privy (via phone call and texts) to his frustration and panic as he couldn’t get his suitcase open, and tried to help from my end. He ended up finding his own solution. And ten months later, a confident young man is returning home after the best experience of his life.
For that, I am very grateful.
The world is full of poetry.
The air is living with its spirit;
and the waves dance to the music of its melodies,
and sparkle in its brightness.
~ James Gates Percival
We’re back home from our travels. My body is slowly adjusting to its usual time zone, but I still feel like I’m sleepwalking through glue.
I wanted to document the wallpaper I put on my phone at the start of our trip. The Minneapolis Airport had an employee art exhibit that we really enjoyed. This painting by Julie Fischer is titled QUARTER-LIFE CRISIS, and it won Best of Show in the Airport Foundation Employee Art Show.
Over the past ten days, I saw this image every time I looked at my phone. Something about the oxygen mask and a jet plane through the solar plexus felt very apt.
We got up at 5:30 this morning, Uppsala time, and just barely caught the-bus-we-thought-was-a-train (when we purchased the tickets yesterday) to Arlanda Airport in Stockholm. From there we flew to Amsterdam. After promising that all checked luggage was our own and that no one had asked us to bring anything on the plane, we got on a packed plane. Our flight to Minneapolis took 7+ hours. Once in the airport, I got busted by the agricultural-sniffing dog for carrying an orange across the ocean. I relinquished the citrus and then we had to re-check our bags and go through security again because, you know, we could’ve spent that 7+ –hour flight filling our shoes with knives. We’re now sitting in a bar/restaurant, drinking local craft beer and eating fries while we wait for our flight to Denver.
It’s already been a loooong day, and there’s still miles to go.
This is a Western Jackdaw (image from pexels.com because those taken on my phone are poor quality). We kept hearing and catching glimpses of the bird yesterday, but weren’t sure what it was. Now we know. A Western Jackdaw!
The National Library of Sweden has very nice toilets that are FREE to the public, plus nice statuary next to the entrance/exit:
The last thing I learned? It’s WAY easier to take photos with my camera and download them to my laptop than to transfer between phone and computer . . .
Zebu took the train from Uppsala down to Stockholm after his class this morning. As he showed us around parts of the city, we took turns with the various cameras. Here’s a picture of Zippy and Zebu (lower right corner), walking and talking:
It was an absolutely beautiful day in Stockholm and while Zebu confessed to wishing we’d experience one of the colder/grayer/wetter days he’s grown accustomed to, he didn’t begrudge us the warm sunshine.