Advent Calendar 2017: 5 - What we miss
Dec 5th – What we miss in Sweden
What we miss the most is you (and BJ). Life has been on hold for us in so many ways that it still just feels like extended vacation, until we look at social media and see your lives moving forward and us not being there to be a part of it. That is the hardest part. Please accept our apology for leaving suddenly and then failing to communicate much. It’s just been a massive transition. We still love you! We hope you love us too.
Aside from you, there are comforts from Portland we miss too.
Whole Child Montessori Center. An extension of the people but also the place, the garden, the sense of calm being there. Knowing my son was learning and growing in the best way possible. Watching him run into the gate with joy. Enjoying every other human I interacted with there, and being in awe of the staff. This was the hardest things to leave aside from friends. Still miss it more than anything listed below.
Alternative health care at our fingertips. Mary Grabowska, Golden Cabinet Herbs, bone broth in a food cart, a culture that doesn’t eat quite so much candy. Knowing a Doctor’s Note is only a phone call away at any time of day or night. I’m just glad I brought my ND/Lac with me!
New Seasons, the friendliest market where you can even have your groceries bagged for you! They don’t do that here. People abide by the “queue” but hate that you are in front of them and even worse when you buy more than 5 items at the store. WHAT IS THE POINT of going to the store to buy 5 things?!!? Plan better and stop looking at me like that. You just have to wait. I have a weeks worth of groceries and you have to wait. Bagging is such an easy job that anyone can do, certainly this would be a good position in a socialist democracy?! I hate grocery shopping here. There are organic options, but not as many as we’re used to. I think the regular stuff is better regulated, but they haven’t caught on to nitrite free or many other “frees” we’d like to see. Unexpected. Which leads me to…
A proper butcher and deli counter. We have yet to find one, and know they will be outlandishly expensive. Affordable bacon. Nitrite free ham.
Sweetheart Ham. From Olympic Provisions. Oh my.
Honey Mamas. Thank you Maegan for introducing us. Looking forward to trying Eleanor’s hack. This stuff is awesome.
Proper Tacos. As noted on Dec 1st, every Friday is Taco Friday here, but no one has any idea what a decent taco is, or at least, there aren’t ingredients available in the store for a decent taco. Glad we brought masa with us. We’ll do fine on our own. But it is nice every now and then to get a good, affordable, quick meal out.
Eb and Bean – that fro-yo is outta this world!
Granola. New Cascadia and other small batch granola. We’ll get on making ourselves at some point.
Sunsets. There are amazing sunsets here, absolutely stunning, but because we’re on the first floor of an apartment in a forest, we don’t see them. Fortunately, we stocked up over the summer on the islands. We do miss the view we had on 42nd though. Hope you’re enjoying it, April!
Our garden, chickens, chest freezer and plenty of space. We miss our Portland lifestyle and long for a little more breathing room again. But it’s also nice to have less to care for and live more densely. But the chest freezer would make getting ahold of that good meat a lot easier…
Parking. Parking is a huge pain in the ass and I’ll write more about that later.
Independent bookstores. There are great libraries here but the bookstores are, as far as we can tell, dominated by a couple of powerhouses. Their selection is so-so.
English. Miss that somedays. Not everyday. Also, there are lots of English speakers here.
Generally knowing where things are and how to find things we need. This is evenly weighed with the excitement of getting to know a new place.
Amazon Prime. Horrible and unethical though they may be, damn they made our lives easier. Delivery of anything that isn’t a letter is a bit of a nightmare here. I’ll post on that later.
The rest of what we miss is from Finland. Finland, we’ve come to realize, is a bit like a second home. We spent the summer soaking it up and were lucky to be out in the countryside most of the time. We miss that. It's a beautiful country we are proud to call ours. Well, me vicariously, Cora and the kids are Finns for real. I'm just an aficionado and regular visitor.
Bread. Finland has the best options for wheat-free rye bread and just fresh bread in general. There is loads of variety and the taste is amazing. Sweden could learn a thing or two. Sweden has more bakeries but the all offer exactly the same thing.
Black and Red currants in the freezer section. Blueberries, raspberries and strawberries aren’t the only berries in the forest and the others are super delicious. Swedish stores have them in the summer until their stock runs out, Finland has them year round…?!
Karelska piroger – Rye and rice porridge pirogues. They are so so yum! What don’t you love, Swedes?
Cheese. Finland has the best options for aged, lactose free cheese and just more choices in general. There is a wide variety and the taste is amazing. Sweden… what gives?!
Sausage. I’m not going to type it again. This record is getting old!
Prisma and CityMarket. They have everything, like Walmart or a Target with a large grocery, but WAY better quality everything. The ones in the county have good sales. We miss them. They gave us that sense of knowing where to get what we needed most of the time.
Lactose Free Ice Cream, Cakes, and everything else. They make EVERYTHING lactose free in Finland. For better or worse, I have fewer options now.
Order and sensibility. Finland runs like a finely tuned clock. Sweden is a machine that somehow works despite the cogs not fitting to the wheels and no one thinking about what the other pieces are doing. It’s maddening. Everything takes longer to accomplish, and you have to do your own problem solving. Creative solutions are not their forte.
Access to Island Homes and the country stores and markets on the way. They are all closed for the winter anyhow, but it sure is nice to escape the city for a cozy cabin on an Island!
Helsinki. It’s size is closer to that of Portland and it’s sleepier and cozier than Stockholm, in a very put-together proper way. In a strange way, when we come back now, it feels like home in a way. We really do love the buzz of Stockholm and so much seems possible there, but something about Helsinki is welcoming in a calm and ordered way. Like the first hour after a snow fall when sounds are dampened and the light is brightened by the snow. That’s how Helsinki felt when we drove in this morning.
What don’t we miss? If you are annoyed by it, we don’t miss it. Traffic is not worse here, coffee is equally well-made, beer is not as good (or at least the good stuff is super expensive) but we don’t drink that much of it (it's coming though, micro breweries are on the rise), we can get all the same bourbon we’re used to, the bike lanes are better, the public transit system is better. Chocolate is great here. Cultural life is mind-blowing, there is SO MUCH HAPPENING. I would miss nature but we have more of it and with fewer people to share it with. I miss having our fancy VW and all its bells and whistles, but I hit my head so many times on that damn car that I’m fine letting it go. (We are driving a 1987 VW Golf, no power-steering, no radio, five seats, heat, maybe a leak in the windshield seal… it’s how we roll.) I don’t miss Finnish when we’re in Sweden. It’s such a challenge.
Mostly, I don’t miss the anxiety around politics and stability. I know you know what I’m talking about. I’m happy to have the distance, it’s been good for me.