Aby-a-Day – 25 Mars: “I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring…I do, don’t you? Course you do!” (Hipstamatic Monday)

It’s finally spring here in midwestern Sweden.

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We can tell because there’s no snow, the temperature is getting up above 5°C, and the swans have returned to our little lake (See those two little white dots in that photo up there? Those are our swans).

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Even though it was still a little chilly, I took Lorelai and Izaak outside to run around. It has been ages since they really got to run around, and run around they did.

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Rory got out the door and immediately started bounding down the hill, with Zak in hot pursuit.

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It is amazing how far they can get in such a short time. They are almost down to the road at the bottom of our hill.

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Rory was fascinated by something in those sticks…

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…Whilst Zak was more interested in trees.

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Finally I got them back up the hill…

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…and into the open area behind our apartment.

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They’re very familiar with the back of our apartment.

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We had an audience…apparently that other cat we saw on the balcony last summer has a roommate.

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As much as they enjoyed running around on the back lawn, it was pretty clear that there was only one ultimate goal…

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the sandbox!

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Rory did her usual digging holes in the sand and then running away from them.

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Finally we all got cold enough to go back in the apartment. But we had 45 minutes of fun and bonding before we went back in.

Aby-a-Day – 16 Mars: Bear necessities (Swedish Saturday)

In Sweden, we have a thing called REKO-Ring. REKO means “Real Consumption” (Konsumtion in Swedish) and is a way to shop for locally produced food, without intermediaries. Consumers and producers merge and start a REKO ring where locally produced products are sold directly from producer to consumer. In Skövde, our local REKO-Ring has a Facebook page where the producers post what they have available, and then people who want to buy something comment on the post saying what they want to get. Then, on alternate Wednesdays, we meet in a parking lot at a hockey arena two stops on the bus line from our house.

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Well, just as I despairing of finding a really great birthday present for Björn, I happened to check the REKO-Ring Skövde Facebook page. And I found a post from Lilla Spännefalla, and they had all kinds of game for sale. Including bear meat from Jämtland in the north of Sweden.

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I ordered a “Bear Box” and got steaks, ground bear meat, and chunks.
I have only had bear a couple of times, and it is delicious. The first time was in 2000, when I found it for sale in an Asian grocery store in Boston. I then had it again when we canned bear meat for sale in the duty-free on the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki. Then I got to eat it again when we went to a medieval restaurant in Taillinn. But the thing is…The name Björn is the same as the Swedish word for bear. So when I found bear meat available for sale just before Björn’s birthday, I knew I had the perfect gift.

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Bear meat is delicious. You have to make sure all the fat is removed, because it can add a slightly rancid flavour to the meat. The basic rule of thumb is, “Season like beef, cook like pork.” This is because like pigs, bears and raccoons are omnivores, and their meat can cause Trichinosis if it is not cooked well.

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So, sorry guys…you don’t get to try it raw.

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Despite not getting to try it raw, the bear meat attracted quite a crowd.

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Lorelai, of course, had to get on Björn’s shoulder to supervise.

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Izaak made sure Björn cooked it thoroughly.

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And he did.

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Served with plain potato wedges and mushrooms, it was a delicious birthday dinner…

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…which some people in the house were eager to sample.

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Zak was the first to taste bear meat whilst the plates were still on the coffee table.

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Everyone else got their tastes in the kitchen. Rory LOVED it.

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Jacoby tried to steal her piece, but she managed to keep it for herself. But don’t worry, Jake got a couple of pieces of the bear meat.

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Alfred took his piece so quickly…

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…I couldn’t even capture it with my camera. Fast Freddy!

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Angel took her sample gingerly…

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…and ran away from all the other cats to eat it in peace.

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It took her a little longer to finish it, because of her three teeth, so she wanted to eat it someplace safe.

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I guess we can add bear meat to the things Abyssinians (and Singapuras) will eat.

Aby-a-Day – 7 Mars: Strange bedfellows (Thursday Things)

In my 50+ year association with cats, I have noticed several things. One of them is the fact that they have fads. Suddenly, a toy will become the best thing ever, food goes in and out of style, and sleeping places go from ignored to fought over.

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The last couple of months, the favoured sleeping spot has been our bed when we’re not in it. Because of course, when we’re in the bed, everyone congregates there. Jacoby and Izaak especially have to sleep either on or next to me.

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Lorelai joined Zak and Jake for a cuddle last week. Jake can get…resentful…of the younger cats.

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I don’t know…maybe Jake is actually enjoying cuddling with kittens. Or maybe he just likes them better when they – and he – are asleep.

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It’s usually Zak sleeping with Jake…

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…but yesterday I came across this. Lorelai with Jake but without Zak is a rarity. Actually, this may be the first time I’ve seen them napping together. Okay, they aren’t exactly cuddling, but they are sleeping together!

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Even back in Boston, Jake liked to burrow under the comforter in the winter. In Sweden, instead of one big comforter, we use two small ones (one for each person). It’s actually quite brilliant; it’s easier to put on the duvet covers, and there’s never a fight over who gets the covers.

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It’s also easier for cats to burrow under the covers and sleep in the middle of the bed. I think I’m not the only person who appreciates Scandinavian sleeping.

Aby-a-Day – 2 Mars: Surprise snowfall (Swedish Saturday)

We had a surprise snowfall last week, so I let the cats outside. Jacoby was eager to go outside…until he saw the snow. Then he noped right back up the stairs to our door. Alfred was a little better…he went outside, but the snow was still falling, and he didn’t seem to like that.

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But Lorelai…

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…Rory ran straight out into the snow with zero hesitation, stopping to visit her beloved rug rack first.

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She loves going outside more than she cares about being cold or having wet feet.

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Look at that happy tail!

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If you look closely at the background, you can see Izaak next to the apartment building, where no snow had fallen. He wants to be outside with Rory and me…just not in that wet white stuff.

Aby-a-Day – 28 Februari: Our three seconds of Swedish fame (Thursday Things)

When we went to the Ädelkatten show in Västra Frölunda back in December there was a celebrity spectator in the show hall.

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Glenn Hysén is a retired footballer, manager and commentator who, along with his sons (also footballers) Tobias and Anton and his wife Helena, go to places around Göteborg and film their interactions for a Swedish reality show. It’s a bit like the Kardashian show, but less sleazy and more silly.

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Of course they captured typical scenes from a typical cat show…the last cat, the Cornish Rex, is our friend our friend Sully!

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They also caught my friend Peter on film as well.

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I am not entirely sure what they said, but from the video, they did a good job capturing a show.

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They even covered a final.

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Our friend Stellan, one of the top Singapura breeders in Northern Europe, was the emcee for the finals, so of course he was featured on the show.

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And so were we!

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They actually filmed us for a while, and interviewed Björn, but all we got was about three seconds.

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But hey, we were on television! In Sweden!

You can see the cat show segment here; it starts at 23:08, but you can’t fast forward though the ads (you can jump to the beginning of the third segment, but you have to watch the ads). The link will work on computers in North America, but not on phones.

Aby-a-Day – 8 Februari: When Emma first met Angel and Jacoby (Friday Flashback)

Emma first met Jacoby and Angel when she came here to celebrate her sixth birthday in 2016, a month after I moved here.

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Emma, of course, fell in love with Jake.

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I mean, why wouldn’t she? He is such a charmer.

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She was mesmerised by him.

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Angel is always a tougher nut to crack…but Emma loved her, too.

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She went to pet Angel, and Angel didn’t run away, which is something for Angel.

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Angel was so sweet with Emma. It’s like she knew how much Emma loves cats and let her love on her.

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Björn loves it when she comes to visit, even if she says she’s going to see “cats…and Pappa and Kalle.”

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What does Jake think about Emma coming to visit us?

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He’s definitely a fan!

Aby-a-Day – 3 Februari: “Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together” (Cinema Sunday)

As I have posted the last couple of days, we’ve gotten some snow.

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It’s beautiful.

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And really deep. This is my foot in the snow. At some other points, the snow was almost to my knees.

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You can see some really wonderful things in the snow. Here is where some crows, magpies and jackdaws congregated. I love the wing prints.

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I let Alfred, Lorelai, Izaak and Jacoby out to play in the snow. Jake basically took one look at the snow and said, “NOPE.” He went back into the apartment. But Freddy explored the snow for a while.

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Freddy slogged through the snow like a champion.

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But he did leave these skidmarks close to the front door when he was finished.

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Zak was…less than thrilled with the deep snow.

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Although, to be fair, Zak's legs are not as long as Freddy's.

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Still, he slogged along in the snow like a champion.

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But he was clearly more happy to be in the cleared out areas.

Here’s a video of Zak in the snow. I apologise for my nose sniffles.

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Rory was also running about in the snow. I posted most of those photos yesterday.

But here is a movie of Rory running in the snow, with a bonus leap through the snow.