Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Home from Finland

I write this sitting in Amocat Cafe, back in Tacoma from our trip to Sweden and Finland. We returned on Sunday and I've been so relieved to be home. And yet, this morning, when I woke, my first thought was that I wanted to throw on some clothes and walk down the block for some kahvi. Boy was I confused. The wonderful cafes were around the corner from our sublet in Stockholm; kahvi is the word for coffee in Finnish. Either way, I found myself disappointed that I couldn't just roll out of bed and walk to coffee and a pastry, sit outside and play around on my laptop. Truthfully, there is a cafe just one mile away from home, but I don't really like their coffee and I don't particularly like the walk either. The walk from our place in Stockholm to the nearest, fabulous, cafe was along a wide sidewalk sandwiched between a busy bike lane and interesting storefronts. Along the way, we passed by the also busy entrance to the tunelbanna, several parents pushing strollers, and a few people walking their dogs. The cafe had an orange juice machine, beautiful pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and decent espresso. Their outside sidewalk seating was usually full (it was cold, but the heat lamps under the awnings were warm) and people crowded the counter ordering coffee and sandwiches to eat on their way to work. The pastries all seemed to be seasoned with cardamom, which I woke up craving this morning, and the sandwiches, made on whole grain, fresh breads, usually contained tomato, cheese, and sliced meats.

It was a different story in the small towns we visited in Finland. he cafes were still walking distance, but rarely was espresso available, and never a mocha. Straight coffee is very popular in Finland and people drink it all day. Keitele, a town of several thousand people, had just one cafe, where each morning a group of 8-10 men sat and smoked, talked and drank coffee on the patio under the umbrellas. The families and women tended to sit inside. The pub patio around the corner was also busy each morning, when the night shift finished at the truss plant down the street. Very few cars were parked outside either, as everyone walked, biked, or scooted around town. The older generation used the scooters, which are genius non-motorized contraptions whose wheels are converted to skis if needed. I would try to describe them, but a picture will be better. I'll add one as soon as I get them downloaded!

Okay, where was I? Oh, yah... In Tacoma, at Amocat, drinking a Valhalla mocha and eating a blueberry scone by the window (it is rather cold today and my wireless works better inside, but the outside seating is awfully tempting). A group of 5 men and a woman are smoking outside after holding a meeting in the cafe and I can hear a few girls chatting at the front counter. There is a dude behind me on his laptop and I've actually seen a few people walking, and a bike or two while I've been writing this. I guess Tacoma isn't so bad after all. I'll just have to learn to ride my bike the four miles down here with my laptop strapped on my back.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Some time last fall, I read "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin and decided that in 2010, starting January 1, I would start my own happiness project. Now, here it is, the middle of April and I have not started. Why not? Well, mostly because I didn't want to do it alone. So I recommended the book to several people and promptly set about procrastinating. Finally, last month (yes, 3 months past my "start" date), I bought a copy of the book for my husband and another one for our friends. My copy is on my Kindle and I knew I'd never give it up long enough for my husband to read it. (And let my Kindle leave my sight? Right.) Then, I commenced to procrastinate some more. Fortunately, my friend started reading her copy and telling me, almost daily, how much she liked the little bits she had read the night before. Beautiful, I thought... now I can manipulate my husband into reading it and joining me on my project. You do see where this is going, right? Why the hell do I need someone to join me in my project. It is MY happiness we are talking about right? Is that really a team sport? Perhaps, but most likely, no. So, today I started re-reading the book from the beginning, which is not boring at all, as I've managed to forget (as is typical of me) 99.8% of what I read last fall. Concerned by this lack of memory, my lack of focus, and overall malaise, I decided (with the encouragement of my friend - I really need to get permission to use her name!) that if I blog as I read, I will remember more and, hopefully, be held accountable by my many (is it 2 or 3 now?) readers.

If this is your first time reading my blog (and you can stand all of these parenthetical insertions), welcome! Please stick with me, give me your insights, let me know if you think it is important for me to continue this, MY, happiness project!