On this day...
5 years ago: Self, revisited


Likes:

  • Captain Underpants. Reading in general, especially late in the evening when it’s bedtime.
  • Cycling.
  • Board games. We’ve been playing Secret Code several times recently.
  • Minecraft. Playing the pocket edition on his iPad is no longer enough. I’ve now set up an account for him on my computer and installed the real deal, so that he can play on public servers etc. Just like Ingrid at about the same age.
  • The Mumin books (which Eric is reading for him) and The Brothers Lionheart (which I just finished reading for him).
  • Climbing. Particularly in trees, but other objects – such as large rocks, sacks of earth, etc – also work. He is disappointed that we don’t have more and better climbing trees in the garden.
  • Most foods, except for tomatoes, unless they’re turned into tomato sauce. Well, that and anything sour/sharp, line vinaigrettes and such. Most recent surprise favourite: kohlrabi.


Likes: mostly computer games. Minecraft and Overwatch particularly.
Drawing.
Reading Kalle Anka. The best days are the days when a new issue of Kalle Anka Pocket arrives in the mailbox.
Smoothies.
Avocados.
Her new red Converse sneakers.
Long hugs and cosy chats in the dark with me when she’s gone to bed and turned off the light.

Ingrid has chosen to switch to a vegetarian diet not only at home (where she has little choice) but also at school and elsewhere, for the sake of the animals and the environment.

She still likes to listen to Sheila Chandra’s A Zen Kiss at bedtime. It’s become a solid routine now. I’m glad it’s such a beautiful album, I have no problem listening to it night after night.

We discovered that she has very dry skin, almost breaking out in eczema in places, and she’s now treating it with various creams and lotions. (A moisturizing cream for most of her body, a mild hydrocortisone cream for the red and itchy parts, a fatter salve for her dry toes, and a special salve for a sore area by her nose.) She likes being/feeling organized, so she drew a chart of her body, marking out the areas that need treatment.


Vistas to Alesjaure, around 18 km.

I skied this exact stretch only two years ago, but in the other direction – and while I do recognize some parts, there were also parts that I really have no recollection of ever having seen before.

It was interesting to see how much the snow and ice conditions could vary from year to year, even though it’s the same time of year and roughly the same weather.

First we skied a long gentle river valley with alpine birch forest. Last time we were here, the ice on the river was already breaking up in places, and we could see patches low shrubs peeking through. This time the river was still under thick ice, and the snow on the ground was thick enough to cover all plant life except for trees.

Then we went up a steepish hill (which was an exciting and fun descent last time). Last time it was mostly covered in soft powder snow (but with surprises in the shape of ice here and there). This time the slope was almost all covered in solid ice, and where there was snow, it was thin. I’m glad we were going up this time and not down.

Then it was flattish again, around some mountains, until we got to lake Alesjaure. There we saw two very tired and hungry elks, who were barely moving. The hut staff later told us that the elks had been there for some weeks already, but that there was hope for them still since winter should be over very soon now.

We had our first lunch in the lee of a bunch of large rocks, but for our next break there was no natural shelter and the wind was blowing hard. So we got to use our bothy bags for real – and they were wonderful! Normally I’d put on a thick extra layer such as a down jacket for a sit-down break, but the bothy bags blocked the wind so well that there was barely any need for extra clothes. We dug knee-deep holes in the snow for our legs so we could sit down comfortably inside the bags, so the lunch break felt surprisingly comfy despite the weather.

In the huts we take turns with the daily chores. Yesterday I was on the dinner team; today I’m on the wood + water team. I got to chop wood for the first time in about twenty years. (Unsurprisingly I wasn’t very good at it.)

Alesjaure is a biggish hut site, with multiple huts, and with all the amenities somewhat spread out. The sauna is at the bottom of a seriously steep slope, and the slope to the water hole is even worse. Fetching the water here was definitely a two-man job: one pulling and the other one pushing the jerry can from behind.

The downside of a large hut site is that it can feel anonymous – so many people around you that you have no idea who they are. The upside is that the shop is larger and better stocked. But we’re making surprisingly little use of the shop here – we were handed a large pile of food at the start of the trip and we barely had to buy anything today. I guess we’re getting better dinners this way, and more variety, but carrying tomato sauce with us feels like wasted work.


Day trip from Vistas to Nallo and back, 9 + 9 km.

The route from Vistas to Nallo goes along Stuor Reaiddávággi, a broad and empty valley. Apart from the birch forest at the very beginning near Vistas, there is just snow, a very few rocks, and tall, very “mountain-shaped” mountains. There is not much for the eye to hold on to, especially in cloudy weather. The path is also quite straight and even, so this is an almost meditative trip. I made the most of it by staying at the head of the group as much as possible, so I could really see nothing but mountains and snow.

It’s gently uphill all the way to the Nallo hut and obviously equally gently downhill all the way back. A thin layer of fresh soft snow made skiing easy. We also had a slight headwind in the morning, which grew into a decently strong tailwind in the afternoon, so the trip back went much faster.


When we were nearing Vistas again, we stopped for a mountain safety exercise. We practised setting up bothy bags and digging a snow cave.


This year’s ski tour goes to Lappland, zig-zagging across the Kungsleden trail. The past two (and thus far the only two) ski tours I’ve done were with Warthog Mountaineering, but this year I’m travelling with STF instead (the Swedish Tourist Association).

Today was mostly a transportation day. The overnight sleeper train got me to Kiruna by morning. From there by bus to Nikkaluokta, and in the afternoon snowmobiles took our group and all our stuff to the wonderfully scenic Vistas hut.

Vistas is my favourite of all the STF mountain huts I’ve stayed at. It’s in a particularly beautiful location, even compared to all the other huts. It’s small and cosy, and generally not crowded because it’s a bit off the beaten track. So this is an excellent start for the week.

The snowmobiles were supposed to drop us off some kilometres before the hut so we could ski the last bit, but the drivers forgot and took us all the way there. But after a night and a day of waiting + sitting, we weren’t having any more of that, so we went for a short local tour near the hut.


Packing for this year’s ski tour.

My packing list is by now quite well-organized and trimmed, so the process is quite fast and easy.

After each trip, I adjust and annotate the list. The notes are extra useful for the rare trips, such as ski tours like this. It’s hard to remember just how cold I will feel when I am so far removed from the situation, so I will trust my notes. (“Only pack a thin fleece top. No wool underwear unless temperature goes below –10°C”.)

I’ve been looking forward to real spring not only because spring brings sunlight and green grass and flowers, but also because I could then start biking to work again. Last weekend I thought the time had finally arrived, but then we got some seriously cold mornings again and I had to postpone the start of biking season yet again. (I have no problem with freezing weather, but my bike is not equipped for icy streets.)

Today I decided to that biking season was going to start, come what may, and had my first bike commute to the “new” office. Not that it feels new any more, but I haven’t cycled there yet.

The outcome was so-so.

The routes that Google proposed (and I tried two different options, one there and another one back) were not very pleasant. There were several roadworks completely blocking my way that Google didn’t know about. The routes were full of road crossings and traffic lights and fiddly turns, right past a commuter train station with lots of pedestrians wandering around in the bike lane – much of it was slow and frustrating going.

And I’d forgotten just how warm I get when I’m cycling so I was hot and sweaty. And then it rained, which wasn’t a problem in and of itself, but it meant that I couldn’t take any photos, and I had to put on a rain jacket which made me even hotter.

I’m sure Google’s routes are good if getting there fast is your primary goal. If I used one of these routes daily for a week or two, I’d learn the messy parts by heart and get there even faster. But I want to enjoy my ride, and I will never really enjoy any of these routes. They’re messy.

But Kungsholmen isn’t that far off from my destination. So tomorrow I’ll follow my old route – with its lovely straight, clear, wide bike lanes, and the less lovely Tranebergsbron bridge – as far as I can, and then turn off towards the city at the very end, and see how much longer that approach takes me.

And I will not wear the fleece jacket, no matter how cold the weather seems.



We did end up painting some eggs after all.

The problem I have with traditions is that after a while it feels like I’ve already done it all. Eggs with stripes, eggs with dots, eggs with curlicues, eggs with large swirls of colour, eggs with designs of spring flowers and chickens… Done them all so many times that it feels boring to do them again.

This year instead of Easter eggs I made a Valentine’s egg, a Halloween egg, a Christmas egg and a New Year’s egg.



Easter in Uppsala with my mother and brother.

It was just a day trip so the kids didn’t pack much in the way of books and toys, and by late afternoon they were quite bored. After complaining for some while, they ended up playing a version of rock, paper, scissors that somehow also involved a duster and a mixing bowl, and howls of laughter.

There are aspects of my parenting that I wish I could have done better – but I am so happy that I’ve managed to raise kids who enjoy being with each other.