Friday, August 29, 2014

The votes are in

Mine is, at least.

Yesterday I performed my democratic duty as a bone fide utlandssvensk by making an expedition to the Swedish Consulate in Kirkland to cast my ballot.

Swedes, it's up to the rest of you now. Please don't make stupid choices; I'm not coming back if things keep deteriorating.

But most importantly: vote. I won't forgive you if you don't.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Baseball for beginners

Instead of suffering from aftereffects of the previous night's spontaneous partying, Ralph and I woke up early and walked across the street from my apartment to the Barrel Thief for a decadent Sunday waffle breakfast. Well, to be honest they didn't open until 10 am, so I went out in the morning sun to fill yet another bucket with blackberries while Ralph slumbered a little longer. (Side note: I might have a bit of a problem with my compulsory blackberry picking, but the season is approaching its end so I'll hopefully be able to stay out of the brambles soon - until next year, that is...).

The main event of the day was a première for both of us: baseball! This all-American game really hasn't been on my radar until now, but as a Fred Hutch employee I was offered discounted tickets and thought that Ralph's visit might be the perfect excuse to give it a go. We quickly browsed through the main rules and extensive terminology whilst nomming on our waffle sandwiches, concluding that this was slightly (just slightly) more complicated than Swedish brännboll.

That Sunday, Seattle Mariners were taking on the The Chicago White Sox at Safeco Field; a game that they ended up winning, quite easily it seemed, with 4 points against 2. Coincidentally, Scott and Shani had also bought tickets to the game and happened to be sitting more or less directly behind us (!) with little Cian. This turned out to be extremely fortunate for Ralph and me, as we would have been scratching our heads wondering what in the world was going on quite a few times otherwise. The Frayos explained what was happening on the field, what the stats meant, when we should yell ”Charge!”, the reason behind people's apparent obsession with peanuts and Cracker Jacks, and why everyone seemed so excited when the closing pitcher entered the field. The game itself was fairly slow, allowing plenty of time for grade A people watching and general chitchatting.

Our verdict: a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon with good friends!

After that, we hopped on a bus to Ballard to engage in one of my favorite Sunday activities: fika and board gaming. We got a table at Café Mox and stayed until Ralph was tired of getting his butt kicked. A lovely day to be me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

It's that day of the year...

...but I think I prefer not to make a big deal about it this time. Huge thanks and warm hugs to everyone who sent me cards, gifts, flowers and other greetings; it means a lot. Love to all.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rollin rollin rollin

Wait, what happened to last week!? I'm way behind on the Ralph report, that's for sure... I'll just have to keep it short and snappy.

Saturday, two weeks ago: We went to roller derby! Then we had drinks and fun.

Hm. Okay. Maybe that was a little on the short side. Let's try again.

Saturday, two weeks ago: Ralph and I strolled off to Key Arena to watch two roller derby bouts. Sadly, our local teams lost both, but we had a swell time nonetheless. Rain of Terror (Rat City Rollergirls' non-WFTDA sanctioned travel team) were quite easily defeated by Bruising Altitude (174-248), but Rat City All-Stars put up a good fight against Minnesota Rollergirls (127-145).

Famished and thirsty after yelling and cheering for three hours, a quick decision was made to head towards the neaby 5-Point Café, one of Seattle's oldest diners. This unique little dive bar opened its doors in 1929 and is one of those places you either love or hate (at least judging by their reviews on yelp). In my opinion, you just have to take it for what it is; don't be a jerk and you'll have a great time. We ordered some tasty grub from a heavily bearded man in a dirty, washed-out tank top and decided that this was no night for artisan beer or fine wine; no, we aimed straight for the well drinks. If you're unfamiliar with the concept, well drinks are what you get if you walk up to a bar and ask for unspecified booze and soda. They're cheap, usually quite nasty, and are known to generate massive hangovers. Still, this was the path we chose.

Below is a compound pictogram describing my cranberry vodka drink. Note how the precise placement of the straw makes the first sip contain a perfect amount of cranberry juice; after that, not so much.

These guys are s.t.r.o.n.g. (And we had a few.)

Next, we wiggled our way back to Fremont, making a few stops on the promenade; first at the nearest 24-hour liquor store to obtain some high-end ultra delicious hand-made craft... er... alcopops as refreshment on our journey, and then by one of Lake Union's docks to enjoy said drinks while watching the stars and the water. And laughing quite a bit.

Best part: neither of us were even the slightest bit hungover the next morning. I'm hypothesizing that the sweet nastiness of the alcopops neutralized the hard-hitting power of the well drinks, but I'm not sure if I dare to try a replicate. It might be pushing my luck.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Cinderella story

Ralph didn't have too many must-see or must-do items on his Seattle itinerary, but there was one activity that he much wanted to engage in: kayaking. I'm no kayakist but agreed to take a day off from work and join him for a salty day in Elliott Bay. Being a novice, only beginners' kayaks were available for me, but Ralph assured the somewhat brusque (some would say mildly hostile) shop girl that he was fully trained in handling the sleeker, albeit less stable, regular vessels. Did he know what to do if he capsized? Of course, no problemo! Easy-peasy.

We said tally ho to the snippy lady and embarked on our adventure, eagerly paddling away from the water taxi stop, rounding Duwamish Head, splashing away in the beaming sun for about an hour and a half alongside the beach to the Alki Point Light, where we turned and started heading back. Ralph gave me a few pointers here and there on how to operate the paddle more efficiently, in addition to goofing around and sillying about as I was learning how to best use my arms and torso in some sort of ordered motion. I'm quite generous, so I'd say that I did okay.

Naturally, Ralph could have out-paddled me with both hands tied behind his back, but we had lots of fun and even spotted a couple of swimming sea lions as I was energetically flapping myself forward.

Then all of a sudden I heard a big splash behind me, followed by a somewhat confused Vad var det som hände!?. I turned and saw Ralph in the water beside his kayak, looking very wet and very surprised. Reassured by his knowing words at the rental store, I just sat there, giggling and waiting for him to effortlessly crawl up and into his boat again. But as it turned out, he hadn't actually practiced getting into a capsized vessel; he just knew how to do it in theory. Ah... Ok.

I paddled back to him, trying to stabilize his kayak as he was empirically testing the hypothesis, and after about ten minutes of him flopping around trying to re-embark, first from the wrong way, then from the right, almost tipping me over into the freezing water as well, he finally succeeded. By that time, we realized that we had drifted quite far off from shore, but our spirits were nevertheless high and I felt encouraged by the fact that we handled the situation so coolly.

Then I noticed that he was no longer wearing his sunglasses. Then he noticed that he no longer had two shoes.

Back at the kayak shop the terse girl smirked at us as we returned the gear, Ralph soaked, carrying his only shoe in his hand. I tried to figure out how to get him home to Fremont, through downtown, on the bus, barefoot. As a last resort, I went back to the shop to ask the not too friendly renter if she possibly knew of any places that sold footwear nearby, since we were in a bit of a pickle. She looked at me, smiled, and said that she may have something in the back that someone had forgotten. I heard her rummaging about behind the door, and she then emerged carrying a pair of bright pink rubber slippers.

She held them out, chuckled a little and said that they might be slightly too big but we could take them if we wanted to. I gave her my warmest, earnest thanks, and returned to Ralph who was sitting on the grass, sulking over his loss. And like the fairytale prince I presented the magical shoes to him, who in a Cinderella-esque fashion gently let his feet enter into the rubbery domain.

They. Fit. Perfectly.

All is well that ends well; the shoes found a new home, Ralph got a new look, and I got the best cry-laugh I've had in a long time.

Epilogue: the pink slippers accompanied Ralph back to Sweden, and have now begun their new life in the Old World. Sources say that they are getting along very well with Jimi, another Seattle emigrant who joined the travellers on their adventurous journey.

(Photo courtesy of Ralph.)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ice ice Kerstin

Just to tease Kerstin: yeah, we went to Molly Moon's... Ralph suffered a sundae-induced sugar overdose, but I was in heaven.

The fav spot is still Sirena Gelato in Fremont, though. Their gelato is unbelievably flavorful and creamy, without being overly sweet.

Go there. Die happy.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The best medicine

Sometimes I worry that I don't laugh enough these days. My Seattle life is at times very serious; my mind occupied with tasks and responsibilities. The past week has been a brilliant break from gravity, promoted by a visit from a wacky comrade we like to call Ralph. Being around this guy means recurring stomach aches from giggling and a constant daft grin on one's face. Good times, simply put.

This week was no exception, and my snicker reservoirs are absolutely, positively, undeniably refilled (and overflowing). Besides just goofing around, we've kayaked, run, gone to museums and movies, watched roller deby and baseball, tried new restaurants (and old), lost shoes and found new ones, had waffles and well drinks, not to mention lots and lots of gelato. Somehow, I managed to do all this and work. (Don't ask me how.)

I'll post a few pictures and stories soon. They'll include pink rubber slippers and this guy.

Safe travels home, Ralphie-boy!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sunset surprise

An astronomical conundrum! Those of you who know a little bit about celestial objects, tell me what's wrong with this picture:

It's beautiful, but defies logic.

...or does it?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Between work and sleep: fun!

While you're out there, doing what you're doing, I'm spending some quality time with this fair lady:

Short but sweet; she's leaving me already tomorrow morning, after merely three days in the city. (Sob!)

On the upside, I'm getting another visitor on Monday. (Chuckle!)

Tonight's the night, however; the girl is going out with a bang. Capitol Hill, here we come!