Aby-a-Day – 23 June: Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se (Swedish Saturday)

Yesterday, Sweden celebrated Midsommar, the second biggest holiday after Jul (Christmas), on par with the States’ Thanksgiving in terms of gathering together and feasting. The Nordic countries love their solstice celebrations.

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Swedish Midsommar is celebrated on the Friday nearest the Summer Solstice. It has varied origins, much like Christmas, but mainly comes from pagan rites. It has a lot to do with Freya and Freyr and the worshipping of fertility and a rich harvest during the Viking age (The fact that many Swedes, including both Björn and Kalle, have March birthdays may or may not have anything to do with all that fertility worshipping). Traditions include erecting a leaf-and-flower covered midsommarstång (or majstång – maypole), which Swedes dance around (this post’s title comes from the “Frog Dance” song, which involves hopping like a frog and croaking. There’s also a verse about pigs).

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Traditional foods eaten at Midsommar include lax (salmon), boiled new potatoes, sill (herring) and strawberries. People also have barbecues and dinner parties. And they drink (it’s best to get to the alcohol stores early before Midsommar, because the lines can get wicked long and they can run out of your favourites,

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Beer, wine and especially snaps (something like aquavit) are the beverages of choice. There are several nubbevisor (drinking songs) which are often based on popular tunes with the lyrics changed to booze- and food-related themes.

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Ironically for a summer celebration, the weather is almost always cloudy and/or rainy. My first Midsommar was sunny and bright, but the last two were grey. Yesterday was overcast all day…but of course today the sky is blue without a cloud to be seen. Perfect hangover weather.

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Another tradition is to wear a wreath of flowers on your head.

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Usually you see women wearing them, but men can wear a flower crown, too. The wreaths can be made using real wildflowers or silk flowers, and of course you can buy them ready-made in stores.

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I made this one for Jacoby for our first Midsommar, which happened about a week after we arrived here. As you can see, he rocked it.

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Treats may or may not have been involved in the making of this post.

Aby-a-Day – 22 June: Sugar Oh Honey Honey (Fashion Friday)

When Gun-Hee died, I got a couple of different charms to put a bit of his ashes in, and I wanted to get something similar so I could carry a bit of Logan with me, too. Browsing different types of ash jewellry, I discovered Sugar Oh Honey Honey. They are a small workshop in Swindon, Oxfordshire, England, who make personalised photo and ashes jewellery. I am not sure how they make the ash jewellery (it seems like it might be resin casting, but it could be glass), but the results are stunning. Even better, there is a black Sphynx named Coco Beane supervising all the humans as they make everything!

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As “Boss Lady” Vicky Rose explains, she started her company in memory of her daughter Honey so she could help people through jewellery. And it really shows. The packaging was exquisite. I opened the little box to see a happy yellow card and sparkly tinsel.

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Jacoby was there to help me open it, of course.

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On the back of the card was a hand-written note from Vicky.

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This is what I found underneath the card. Of course, Lorelai was very interested in the shimmery, rustly tinsel.

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Nestled in the tinsel were two drawstring bags and a box.

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I opened this one first.

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It was a bracelet with a charm with Logan’s photo on it! This was such a lovely surprise because I didn’t order it! They just threw it in as a bonus. Isn’t that amazing?

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I opened this bag next. It contained Logan’s leftover ashes that weren’t used in the pendant. I mean, they could have just tossed them and said they used them all, but instead they sent them back in a pretty bag.

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Finally I opened the box. WOW! Isn’t it beautiful?

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And the best part is, it glows in the dark!

After I ordered it, the “Tech Girl,” Megan Chase, sent me an email explaining how to send in a bit of Logan’s ashes and added, “We would also love to know more about the pet/person you are sending to us along with a name and pictures (if you have any) and a favourite song, as we like to play music while making each individual piece.” So of course I directed her to this blog, because clearly it’s the best way to learn about who Logan was. In a follow-up email, Megan told me, “Your blog is so lovely to read, I’ve found myself spending some of my spare time reading it,” which is just so sweet! So, Megan, I hope you liked this post!

Angel added this whilst I was away from my laptop: äòp0y………………u. I think it may be a message to Megan.

Aby-a-Day – 21 June: Glad Midsommar!

We have a Singapura in our family again!

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As you saw in yesterday’s post, I went to Stockholm to collect Joy Minimali*PL, called Izaak.

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I decided on the name Izaak for him (Zak for short, of course) because one of the Polish words for “joy” is “zachwyt.” Which is close enough to Zak for me! I didn’t like any of the variations of Zachariah…but when I discovered that Zak could also be a short form of Isaac/Izaak…well, it was a no-brainer. It’s also has a completely sound from all the other cats’ names, which is good. I had wanted to have a cat named Lennie (after Det. Lennie Briscoe), but with AngeL, ALfred, Lorelai, and Logan, it was a lot of L’s in the family aLready. Besides, with him already being named Joy, it seemed fitting.

Actually getting Zak was an experience. He came to us from a Polish breeder who happened to have two boys available in June. There were no Swedish kittens available…so we decided to go abroad. At first, we thought we might go to Poland to get him, but the timing didn’t work out for us to travel. Anna regularly ships kittens worldwide, so she sent him to us via air cargo. I’d done this before, when I got Tessie, but she was only sent from Portland, Oregon to Boston, not from another country. I thought it was hard to find the cargo area at Logan Airport…but as you can see from the above map, it was quite an adventure collecting little Zak!

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First I had to get from Skövde to Stockholm. Booking a train to Stockholm is a bit like booking a flight, depending on when you choose to travel, the trip can cost as little as 195kr (around $22) and as much as 885kr (around $100) or more. You also reserve your seat, and seats at tables are very popular. Seats at tables in the (very limited space) pets-allowed cabin are even harder to get. Also I had to take into account that Zak’s arrival time was 09:30. So I booked a trip that left Skövde at 07:12. As most of you know, I am not a morning person and don’t really wake up until at least 10:00. I had to get up at 05:30 in order to catch that train. From Stockholm Centralen, I then had to take a bus (a 45-minute trip) to Arlanda Airport Terminal 5.

Then I had to take a Stockholm city bus #583 out to the Cargo City stop (second-to-last on the Märsta line). The bus drops you off at at one of those little shelters that looks like it’s in the middle of a quarry next to a prison with some parcel warehouses off to the side, and there’s absolutely no indication of how one might find the Cargo Center (nor was there a clear walkway). Luckily, the cargo place had called me to tell me that they had a cat for me whilst I was on that second bus, so I had their number and called them to ask how one might walk to their location.

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But here’s the really fun part. Once I managed to find Cargo City, I had to take Zak’s papers and passport and take them to Tullverket (Customs) to be reviewed, approved and stamped, and then go back to Cargo City to actually collect Zak. One would think, this being a common thing to need to do (pick up paperwork, go to Customs, and then come back and get your cargo), that the two buildings would be conveniently located somewhat adjacent to one another. But as you can see from the above map, you would be utterly and completely incorrect. I had to take the 583 bus back to Terminal 5, and from there take an airport shuttle to where the Customs building was located. And as you can see, when the bus dropped you off, it wasn’t immediately obvious where the entrance was.

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At Customs, whilst waiting in the queue, I met an Australian woman, Zia, who was on the same mission I was, trying to collect a large suitcase sent to her from home. She hadn’t yet been out to Cargo City; she went straight to Customs because her emailed instructions were vague. She still had to go out there to collect her suitcase, though. Knowing what I did about finding Cargo City, and needing to go back there myself, I waited for her so we could go out there together. It made the return trip so much easier!

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And, as it happened, Zia loves cats. She was completely charmed by little Zak.

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We ended up going back to Stockholm Centralen on the Märsta train, which turned out to be so much faster and easier than taking the airport bus. Definitely need to remember that the next time!

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Back at Centralen, Zia and I parted ways with a hug, and I had about an hour to kill before my train left. So, I grabbed lunch and did a little shopping.

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Zak was a huge hit at Lush! Both the shop clerks and customers just loved him.

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We made friends on the train, too. An older woman from Göteborg and a guy from Romania were at our table, and we talked most of the trip back to Skövde. So much for Swedes not talking to strangers! The woman was the one who started talking to both me and the Romanian, and I am glad she did…it was a fun conversation.

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Zak slept in my lap for most of the trip. Which was fortunate; he was going to need to be awake when we got home and he met his new clan.

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Alfred was the first to greet the carrier.

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We took it into the living room and Lorelai was next to see who was inside.

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We let the youngsters sniff a bit before opening the door.

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I wonder what Freddy thought when he saw a Singapura who wasn’t Logan?

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Even though Zak is an older male, Rory is still bigger than him.

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…Um, Freddy?

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The point is to meet the new kitten, not eat the food in his carrier!

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Rory was delighted to see Zak! Someone her own size to play with!

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She tried to play with him right away.

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Zak…wasn’t so sure. But I think they’ll end up being fast friends. I think he and Freddy will, too. But I am afraid poor Freddy won’t ever have the kind of bond he had with Logan with any other cat. But maybe Rory and Zak will have something like that as they grow up together.

Aby-a-Day- 20 June: Wordless Wednesday (Introducing…Izaak!)

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Aby-a-Day – 19 June: A tattoo for FIP (Cartoon Tuesday)

I have wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate Gun-Hee for years, but I never came up with a design. And then I got Logan, and he also died because of FIP. So my tattoo idea changed. It needed to include both Gun-Hee and Logan. So I came up with the above sketch. I am actually getting a tattoo on Thursday by Linus at Magic Man Tattoo here in Skövde…not cats, but magpies. I have always loved magpies, and I had one on my SCA arms (sable, on a maple leaf argent, a magpie displayed gules, marked and breasted argent (or, in other words, a black shield with a white maple leaf with a red magpie on it).

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It looks like this…this is an enamel piece I made in university, sometime around 1988. But I digress. When I go in for my magpie tattoo, I want to talk to Linus about my next tattoo…the one I have wanted since Gun-Hee died.

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This is my first colourised version of the sketch; I want to make a second version before I see Linus, but I’m not sure if I’ll have time to do it before Thursday. I can’t decide about the banner; I want to have something about FIP, but I don’t know if I like the location of the banner no matter where I put it. I want to have it done on it on my right calf. I am really pleased with the way Logan’s profile turned out, and Gun-Hee looks like Jacoby…but still looks like himself (it’s hard to explain). I can’t wait to hear what Linus says about it!

Aby-a-Day – 18 June: “Life is full of sniffles sobs and smiles. With sniffles predominating” (Medical Monday)

As I said yesterday, Lorelai has a small case of the sniffles. She had a goopy eye, but I gave her some Tobremycin drops, and it cleared right up, but she is still sneezing.

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So we went out to Skultorp to visit Min Vetrinär.

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It took a few moments, but Rory embraced the vet’s examination room.

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She was very happy to explore the exam room.

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Even when the vet and her assistant were checking her over and taking samples from both her eyes, her nose and the back of her throat, she was still her usual happy self.

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This visit was a bit bittersweet as we were in a room we haven’t been in since I took Logan there September last year.

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When this happened.

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Not gonna lie, it was hard watching Rory move around the room I had last been in with Logan.

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I miss him so much…

Aby-a-Day – 17 June: “I’m walkin’ here! I’m walkin’!” (Cinema Sunday)

Lorelai is a wonderful leash-walker. She may even have a better follow instinct than even Logan had.

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Rory has a slight “kitty cold,” so we went to the vet. When we got back, Rory walked all the way home from the bus stop!

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On the way, she found a pigeon feather.

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“Please, Mom, can we bring it home?” (Spoiler alert: yes, we brought it home and I dipped it in Virkon as soon as we got home.)

Below is a video of Rory’s impressive walk home…She is such a good walker!