Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ett Midsommar Visit

On Sunday the 18th of June, Cedric, Sarah, Scout, Baxter and Maggie arrived at the Stockholm airport exactly on time. As they came through the gate, the kids saw us immediately and ran full speed to...Grandma, of course. As Elder Quentin L. Cook explained in a general conference talk, Grandpa is basically chopped liver until the children have secured their presence with Grandma. After explaining all the things they saw and did in Iceland, however, Scout handed me a nice note she had written to me and Olivia telling us how much she loved us and gave me two pieces of lava which she was certain would be impounded as contraband when she left Iceland, so it was very special.

The excitement wore off fairly quickly as the sleep deprived family piled into the car with us and headed to Uppsala where we spent the rest of the day. We were able to keep the children and parents mostly awake, so we could reset their biological clocks to Sweden time, but Scout had not been able to sleep much during the 16 hour layover in Iceland, so when we arrived in Uppsala, she was in a deep sleep. Her parents decided to let her sleep while we toured the Dom Kyrka, then woke her when we went to the picnic with Bishop Holmdahl and his children. Therefore, she and Sarah, who stayed with her in the car, do not appear in the Dom Kyrka pictures.
Under the floor of the giant cathedral are
buried many important people dating back
to the 1500s. Baxter and Maggie wanted to
see one. As we walked through the aisles,
Baxter would point to one marker and then
another and say, "Dead person; dead person;
dead person..."

The crypt of King John
retiring as if relaxing
on a summer day.

We went from the Dom Kyrka to our little church building in Uppsala just as the meetings had ended, so many of our new friends were able to meet Cedric's family. Scout was awake by then, so she went in with Olivia, Sarah and the other children to the restroom. They came back out as people filed past our car. Almost everyone stopped to meet our family which made us feel very special. It didn't hurt that Sarah looks like a model, Cedric looks like a Greek god and the children are the brightest and cutest in the world. Everyone was curious, of course.

From the church we joined the bishop's family, minus his wife who was with her father at an event where she promised to take him for his 90th birthday. We went together to the Gamla Kyrka. This is the place I have mentioned before where Celsius is buried.  It has a nice picnic area and giant Viking burial mounds, giving the kids plenty of exercise. The bishop's children are very close in age to Cedric and Sarah's children, so we hoped they would make good friends. Emelie was too shy and not confident in her English abilities, so she and Baxter didn't mix. Milla and Maggie hit it off for a few minutes, but got frustrated at not being able to talk and went their separate ways, but Alice and Scout became fast friends, touring the area together and communicating as best they could. They have decided to be pen pals, so Alice can improve her English skills.
Baxter, Sarah, Emelie, Alice, Milla, Scout,
Bishop Homdahl, Maggie, Olivia, me, Cedric
at the Gamla Kyrka. Behind us are 2 of the
Viking burial mounds.

We had secured a place  and Airbnb.com for Cedric, Sarah and Maggie to stay for their time here; Scout and Baxter stayed with us. Of course, we ate our meals together, so theirs was just a place to crash.
Baxter was proud of his
Sverige t shirt

Scout and Baxter prepare for bed

Olivia has been saving all our plastic bottles and what soda cans we come across because they are recycled for cash. The label on the bottle say if it's "pant" (pronounced pont) is worth 1 or 2 kroner. (In Sweden, if you don't recycle, you will lose your pants!) She told the kids about the money they would be able to spend at the special "goddis bar" (pronounced "goadies" Swedish for candy) where there were so many choices of candy, they couldn't imagine them all. We had to get that out of the way first, or there would be no interest in anything else, so off to the ICA Maxi store's return station.
Each with his/her bag of

The machine reads the label and adds the
money each earns from their bag. Maggie
and Scout are working at it.

Baxter cashing in his pant.

At the candy bins

The candy bins are above the children's heads and
stretched around the corner. They found plenty of
candy that interested them. The sugar high and low played into the rest of the day, but it was all good.

We went from here to the Vaxholm fortress. I have written about the fortress in previous entries, but it was lots more fun with excited grandchildren and curious children.
Grapeshot at the entrance

At the top of the fortress is a beautiful
view of the city and the archipelago 
Maggie found an egg
(probably a seagull) on
the roof.

A mirror selfie on the ferry that took us to and
brought us back from Vaxholm
 We ended the day with a lengthy hike to a little-known Viking site in the hills behind Upplands Väsby, where we live. We had hoped to go to Västeros where there is a well-preserved site that I have written about before, but there was not time. This site is similar in that there is a burial site where the rocks have been quarried and placed about the burial stone in the shape of a ship. This one is still obvious, but the stones have fallen over as years passed. The foundation stones of the community house are still there, and no one there to "tut tut" as the children climbed on the stones and ran through the area.
The stones form the shape of a ship.

Scout on the stone that would
be the bow of the ship

The site is strategic as there were bloody
disputes with the neighbors in those days.

Baxter on the stones placed to form a foundation for the community house.
Everyone wanted to see the Vasa Museum where in 1961, the giant ship was pulled up from the ocean after resting there for 333 years and restored to allow the public to view it. In fact, restoration work continues and will for many years. The story is that in 1628, King Gustav Vasa's grandson, Gustav III, ordered a warship unlike any other. As the engineers prepared the specs for building, the king, who was known for a violent disposition, added more guns, more space for marines, more this and more that. The engineers felt the ship would not support the kings demands, but were timid to say so. When the day for launching arrived, the crowd gathered including the king and his large entourage to watch the event. The ship sailed out for her maiden voyage, went a few hundred meters and fell over on her side. As it sank, many escaped, but many of the crew perished with the ship. Their remains have been preserved and from the clothing and bones, several have been given new life by specialists dealing with wax figures.
The museum has several
levels, so visitors can see
the ship from every angle.
Click to see the detail. You have to
wonder why someone would take
such a beautiful ship into battle

Some of the village has been reproduced.
Here Scout looks up at the figure of a
woman looking down from her window.

The mast has been reproduced,
so children can stand on it and
get a feel for the danger of
being on watch up there.

Cedric and kids by the ship
One of the wax figures designed from remains
found in the ship
We lost various children at various times, so Sarah is off looking for someone who happens to not be lost, at this point.

Cedric and Sarah really wanted to go to the Abba museum, so Olivia and I took the kids to the Junibacken which is a sort of museum/play area with a children's book theme. They were familiar with Pippi Longstocking and were anxious to see what was in there for them. We were not disappointed.
Pippi is at the entrance

These are scenes from small diorama
viewed from the "Story Train" 

The narration is in whatever
language you request. The family
behind us chose Russian; the one
in front chose German.

Pippi's horse is okay with
children climbing all
over it.

Maggie wanted to brush
its coat. Baxter and Scout
joined in.

Pippi is not the only one
who can lift and carry a
horse. So can Scout.

and Baxter

Maggie loved the play store

Outside there was a cow to milk and a
fun playground.

As we left we saw the statue of
Astrid Lindgren, the author of
the Pippi Longstocking series

I won't try to detail every day as the days were full, but I will hit the other highlights. Of course, since we were already downtown, we had to take the traditional shot on the bay with the Tre Kroner city building in the background and the statue of the itinerant musician beside us.

I don't remember where the other
two children were.

Scout wanted to touch the water
 A hike into the famous Stora Torget (stora toryet) where musicians play for the tourist entertainment, the bakery sends out the most delicious aromas and the chocolate shop offers wonderful hot chocolate and chocolate cake. This is also the place where in the mid 1500s King Christian of Denmark gathered all the nobles of Sweden in a pretended truce party and had 90 of them executed in the square. Gustav Vasa (sometimes spelled as Gustaf Wasa) didn't attend because he did not trust the Danish king and later gathered troops for a rebellion and regained the throne for Sweden, as the new King. He then had his own reign of terror, but is known for uniting Sweden as it is known today for the most part.
Behind is the chocolate shop.
To our right (not in sight) is the
bakery in Stora Torget.
The Medieval Museum is nearby and it is good not only for adults, but also for children. We had visited it before, and I have reported it in another blog post.
Scout peers through the barrel at the wax figure on the other side.

Maggie loved the mural
with the children's games
and the sheep to ride.

Baxter had read about the knights and their armor. He loved this.

Closer to home in Upplands Väsby, we took the traditional picture of the Viking ship on poles, then walked around the meadow and the little ponds. Maggie and I saw a large fish this time, but didn't have a camera.

Just a few kilometers from where we live is the recreated Viking farm. While there were many who make their livelihood from pillaging, they still had farms to manage. Often, they would plant and then take off for the next adventure, leaving the women and children to manage and harvest.

When the expressway was being built they came across a Viking farm site where all that remained were black spots in the soil where outbuildings once stood and some items of household use such as pottery shards and buttons. They decided to survey the site and reconstruct the farm away from the expressway. They chose this site because it was available, there was a rune stone on the property and there were Viking burial sites there. In the summer, there are people in period costume who are knowledgeable of the era and the methods for construction. Most importantly, they are exceptionally child friendly.
Scout and Baxter at the entrance.
Click to see the detail on the
fence posts.
The loom artist came in
and demonstrated how
fabric was woven

Cedric and Sarah in the sleeping quarters

Scout at the loom

Scout and Baxter make Viking bread with
our favorite Viking - an archaeologist who
loves what he does and loves to inspire
children, as well.

Baxter baking his flat bread

Scout baking hers, as well. We all smelled like campfire by the end of the visit.

Over the style and into
the pasture where the
rune stone lays

In the pasture were lots of
docile sheep who don't mind
being petted by children

The rune stone commemorating
the wife of the Viking who was
Gunne's daughter. So the farm
is named Gunnes Farm.
Did I mention that between the Viking farm and our next stop is the Återvinning Central (recycle dump)? We had to show them how we sort trash. Cedric was more interested in the signage.
Fart means speed or way. Here it asks that you move
exceptionally slowly - Krypfart (creep fart)

We had lunch in the Kaknästornet, a main hub for TV, radio and satellite transmission. It is 155 meters high (about 508 feet), so it commands a view of all of Stockholm and the surrounding areas.
Cedric and kids at the window
Below was a playground and park which we had to visit.

Sarah and Olivia with view behind them.

A little fort by the playground
We ended the day with a visit to the Stockholm temple. They had planted the summer flowers just the day before (much to Olivia's disappointment at not being available), so the grounds were especially beautiful. There is a peace about this place that is hard to explain. The paths around the temple are used by local residents to get from their apartments to the bus or train stations, but even they are respectful and quiet as they pass by. We love going there.We happened to be there when the Clouses arrived to see some friends from Arizona who happened to be touring in the country. We met and introduced Cedric and Sarah to them and to the temple president who stepped out to greet everyone.
We spent much of a day at Skansen which is the first open air museum in the world. It opened in 1891 when they began to move buildings and other items to the area. We visited here on Christmas Eve day because it was free to the public, so I wrote about it then. It is not free in the summer. Next to the Vasa (which is the most visited museum in Scandinavia) it is the most popular place to visit in Stockholm. It is very kid friendly and wallet unfriendly, but worth the expense. There are shops and workshops from the 1800s and 1900s, a church from the 1700s and lots of play areas just for the children. The zoo features animals from Sweden and there is a petting zoo, as well.
The stage where such luminaries as
Frank Sinatra and Frank Zappa have
performed.Check out these celebrities!

Beautiful wild flowers in the farm area

Scout rides the horse

In the stocks in front of the church
Maggie rides the pony

Baxter could watch the blacksmith all day.

Maggie understands that
grandpa's legs get tired after
a while.

Baxter and Scout share a ride

Baxter's favorite slide

Maggie prefers to ride alone

Thursday Elder and Sister Pettit insisted on taking care of the children while we went with Cedric and Sarah for some adult time together. We toured much of the old city, walked through the narrow, cobblestone streets, window shopped, and had lunch at Under Kastanjen restaurant (cast'ahn-yen meaning the chestnut tree). It really is located under a large chestnut tree and is quite charming. From there, we went to the Chokolad (you guessed it - chocolate) shop for some hot chocolate and dessert.
It was fun just poking around the old shops and visiting.
Eating outside at Kastanjen
Cedric was his own barista with the cream on his hot chocolate
Since Thursday night was our last opportunity for dinner together, we had a traditional Swedish meal of Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, dark bread, butter, cheese (served with a cheese slicer), lingon berries, and tossed green salad without dressing
Everyone loves Swedish meatballs
Early Friday morning we packed bags to take the family to the airport. We took our suitcase, also, as we had been invited by President and Sister Beckstrand to join them and the Clouses in Leksand for the Midsommar celebration. Seeing them off at the airport was bitter sweet. We loved our time with them and were so happy they could come, but a wave of homesickness came over us as we watched them pass through security to their plane. What a wonderful five days!
Seeing them off at the airport
Midsommar in Sweden is almost as celebrated as Christmas. In fact, the day itself is even more important as a day of celebration. Holidays are celebrated on the eve of the day. Gifts are exchanged on Christmas Eve, Easter dinner and all associated with the day are done on Saturday, and Midsommar occurs on the Saturday closest to the Summer equinox, so it is celebrated on Friday. 

We made our way to the hotel in Falun which is several kilometers from Leksand, but closer hotels require that you stay more than one night. We checked in and met up with the Beckstrands and Clouses. We tried to find a place to eat, but not much was open. We finally found a McDonalds and ordered our meals only to find that we had to take them outside, because even they close for Midsommar eve - early in the afternoon.

We drove to Leksand and found a parking spot, which was no easy feat, but managed because we were quite early for the festivities. Leksand is known to have the largest celebration in Sweden. It is a little town in the Dalarna district (where the wooden Dala horses are made), but on Midsommar eve they have over 20,000 visitors from all over the world, but mostly Swedes. We joined a large group on the riverbank and watched as the "church boats" floated by filled with people in period costumes. There were three boats: the first with village people in costume, the second with the violinists in costume playing traditional music, and the third with the choir in period dress.
This couple could hardly
get to the park for people
asking for pictures of them

Lots of the young women
wore wreaths of flowers
and vines
A couple of the children who sat near us

Church boats as they passed by
The boats docked just opposite us and the occupants walked up the trail, across the bridge, through the town and down into a large bowl-shaped park where the celebration continued with music, dancing and proclamations. In the end, the violins played and the men of the town lifted the giant maypole as the announcer led a cheer each time the pole raised another few inches. The pole is lifted by men hoisting it using poles joined by ropes to form an X at the top, so they act as braces while other men with crossed poles move into position. It probably took half and hour or more to get it into place and then the crowd surges forward to join the dance around the maypole to the music of the band. The favorite is the frog dance, which is in the video below. There is a good chance that many of the participants were actually sober.😎

Watching the maypole inch its way up.
Click to see details of the men and
bracing poles.

Coming up a little more
After half an hour it made it up and is
secured in place.

Saturday, we joined our friends and traveled to Leksand, again for a little river tour of the river and Lake Siljan. Sister Clouse had arranged for the tour boat and lunch. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we spent the time inside, but loved the ambiance and company. Olivia did get outside for a few pictures.

The MS Gustaf Wasa tour boat

At lunch on the Gustaf Wasa

Some scenes from outside the
tour boat

The spire of the famous Leksand Kyrka
with its onion-shaped dome
After the tour, we separated from our friends and ventured into town to mail some postcards Cedric purchased at the ABBA museum for the intended purpose of making his siblings insanely jealous. We decided to go to the park and see the maypole up close before we headed home.

I am standing in front to give some perspective of
its height and size
We were now back in the saddle. On our way back, we stopped in Borlänge to do an apartment inspection with the elders there. Elder Kilton is training Elder Barney who has only been out 3 weeks. The apartment looked great. Elder Kilton's last apartment check was not too good, so we were happy to see so much improvement. They admitted that Elder Barney had a great influence on the outcome. Unfortunately, we failed to take pictures.

It is good to be back at work. We have a very full week ahead with the coming of the new president, obtaining a new apartment in Södertälje (sudder tell' ya). I will report on all that this coming Sunday.

We do miss everyone. Tami at Anderson, Dorn & Rader reported to us of all the progress and changes taking place there. We are proud of that organization and the progress they are making.

We pray for you and wish you all the best.