Sydney Thunderstorm cloud over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

 

Sydney We took shelter in one of the bars under the Opera House.

 

Yesterday, we arrived back in Sydney just in time to be hit with a huge thunderstorm. The clouds were ominous and gorgeous all at once.

As we took refuge in one of the cafes below the Opera House, the view toward the Harbour Bridge was spectacular– a giant roll of a cloud seemed to sit directly over us. The skies were so dramatic, everyone was taking photos. The wind blew glasses and plates off of tables, large planters were knocked over, rain pelted down and through it all, the bartenders kept serving.

As the clouds passed, the light was unbelievably gorgeous. And the rest of the night was perfect, too.

It was quite the welcome back.

Sydney As the storm faded, light rain continued and a rainbow appeared–here over the ferry to Narrabeen.

 

Sydney After the storm clouds over the city.

 

Sydney. And the bridge came back to light as well.

 

Sydney As the rain had almost stopped, Robert was ready to go again.

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Australia All kinds of deadly creatures live in Australia. I keep seeing these signs at rest stops.

 

brown snake In spite of its rather basic name, the brown snake is the world’s second most venomous. One is living by the department at Australian National University where Robert has been working.

 

Since I’ve been in Australia, I’ve noticed just a few signs indicating that I’m not in Sweden anymore.  The beware of snakes sign has been at several rest stops along the road. Since Australia is well known for its collection of deadly snakes, it  seems practical to remind people to watch out. But the signs for sitting and not standing on the toilet and to watch out for bees in the lavender seem like overkill. Or am I missing something?

As for the sign below for the combination pet supply/adult entertainment shop, this really is for a real store. It’s in Young, New South Wales, the town where Robert grew up. He remembers going into the shop after school with his mates, pretending to look at the pet toys while trying to sneak a peek through the swinging doors to the other side of the store where the adult toys were kept.  How funny is that.

Finally, the Kings Cross coke sign is always a happy landmark for me to spot.

 

NSW shops This sign is for a real store in Young, New South Wales, that does indeed sell pet supplies on one side as well as adult entertainment options on the other.

 

toilet sign Now, this just seems like common sense to me….

 

Sydney The coke sign at Kings Cross in Sydney.

 

signs Is this really necessary?

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Sydney restaurants The out-of-this-world ocean trout tostada at Ms. G’s.

 

My love affair with Asian food in Australia has been reignited. Since we’ve been here, I have eaten amazing Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese and Malaysian. But my passion reached new heights when we went to Ms. G’s in Sydney.

It was a true case of love at first bite. Because it only took one taste of the very first dish we tried– an Ocean trout tostada with green mango, guacamole and green nahm jim–to realize that we had reached modern Asian fusion at its best.

We moved on to sample grilled king prawns with Balinese coconut and green bean salsa. After that it was D I Y Sang Choy Bao – sichuan chili lamb and smoked eggplant nahm prik. And these were both very good as well. But it was that ocean trout that captured our hearts and stayed with us.

The Potts Point location is a fun one.  And the tables are spread out over four floors and the overall look is kind of funky casual. On the floor where we ate, there was a graffiti wall and the restroom walls were collaged with recipe pages. The views over the city are pretty outstanding and the service was prompt and friendly.

But it was the food that really got to me. This was the very best meal I’ve had in a very long time. The food is called modern Asian, but no matter what you call it, it’s just plain tasty. The web site can be found in this link: Ms. G’s

 

Ms. G's Chili lamb.

 

Ms. G's The jumbo shrimp.

 

Ms.G's The graffiti wall.

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Tubbul NSW Some of the sheep at Uncle Peter’s farm.

 

Tubbul At White Box.

 

I’m not sure if it was the rooster or the magpie who first woke me up. But both of the birds were persistently boisterous: the rooster crowing the arrival of morning and the magpie singing his beautiful song. Either way, it didn’t matter: I had had a wonderfully peaceful night of sleep and it was time to get up anyway.

We were at Robert’s Uncle and Aunt’s property called White Box and for miles in any direction, all you can see are golden fields of already-been harvested wheat, parrots and cockatoos and sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. At 1,300 acres, it’s a not-so-little slice of paradise and we love spending time there.

In spite of the rain in the afternoon, we drove out across the paddocks, following after huge kangaroos and countless parrots and cockatoos. And then that evening, there was a big family BBQ. It felt like quintessential Australia.

 

NSW Shane cooking up the sausages.

 

NSW Uncle Peter demonstrates how to crack a stock whip and break the speed of sound.

 

 

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Stockholm Stockholm sunset on the evening before we left.

 

Arlanda As our flight from Stockholm was delayed, we thought a little champagne at the airport was necessary.

 

I’ve done a seasonal swap. On Monday evening, we left Stockholm, connected to Helsinki, then went on to Singapore and finally Sydney. And then we rented a car and drove on to the Australian Capital Territory/Canberra. After countless hours of travel, we managed to leave winter behind.

We did well on our journey. Well, except for when I choked on my dinner and Robert had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on me on the airplane. Seriously. But all was OK. And good points included drinking champagne at Stockholm’s airport when we found out our first flight was delayed. And then later, when the airline crew found out it was our anniversary, we were again served some some lovely champagne.

Life is good.

 

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Sunshine over Stockholm

February 17, 2014

in Stockholm

Gamla Stan Looking toward Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town. The crazy green and white wall that takes away from the beautiful old buildings is thanks to construction.

 

Södermalm Sunlight coming through trees on Södermalm.

 

In the interest of fairness after I blasted on Stockholm gray yesterday morning, I have to post these photos. For just a while yesterday, the sun came out. And then today, we had sunshine. All day long. It was glorious.

 

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winter in Stockholm My friend Zanne surveys the endless gray that is Stockholm this winter.

 

OK friends, I am struggling with this gray weather. And I know I am not alone. Apparently, we have had a grand total of 15 hours of sunshine in Stockholm this year. No wonder I feel like a plant that’s been locked in a dark closet.

This morning, skies were blue for just about an hour. I was hoping, no I was longing, to see the sun at last. But no, it quickly went to a deep and penetrating gray again.

But the end is in sight, thank God. Robert and I are heading down under next week. And seeing the sunshine again could not come soon enough for me.

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fotografiska OK, this photo has nothing to do with this post. But I saw it the other day at Fotografiska, the photography museum, and it made me smile. It’s by Elliott Erwitt.

 

“Not bad.”

Back when I first met Robert, that’s how he would respond when I asked how he was doing. Then I would quickly ask him: what’s wrong?

Because to me, “not bad” sounded like something must be very wrong. Culturally speaking, we Americans like to be “great.” Not bad was, well, not good in my American way of thinking. We prefer for things to be great.

But to Robert the Australian, “not bad” actually meant that he was great. It took a while for me to figure that out. Early on in our relationship, we just did not always understand what the other meant. (Heck, even after almost 12 years of marriage, I don’t always understand what he means.)

I was thinking today about how complicated it can be to communicate. Because even though Robert and I speak the same language, we use it differently culturally. And all of that communication gets even more complicated when you live, as I do here in Stockholm, with people speaking English as a second or third language. There are all sorts of complicated, confusing pieces of communication in any given day.

When I edit something with odd word usage at work, I usually ask: what are you trying to say here? This often helps to get at the intended message. And last week, I was at a lecture by American media and communications expert Kevin Lampe. While he lives in Chicago, he often works in Sweden. He told of how, after giving a lecture, he asked someone how it went. The Swede replied: the lecture was satisfactory.

And of course, Kevin thought he had really given a bad lecture. When questioned, the Swede thought it was just fine. Of course.

It really is the same language, but it’s oh so interesting how differently we all use it.

 

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City at night

February 10, 2014

in Living abroad,Stockholm

Stockholm Looking toward Södermalm from Stadshuset.

 

Stockholm Reflections on Lake Mälaren, from Stadshuset.

 

I was at a networking mingle for international expats living in Stockholm tonight. It was held at a gorgeous room with a view at Stadshuset or city hall. As we walked out, I was knocked out by the view. The sky was cloudy and moody, the water quiet and calm. Looking toward Södermalm, the island I live on, I just thought: this is one gorgeous city. And I live here.

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A while back at work, a coworker said, “Americans are promotion happy. They’re always getting new titles.”

Immediately, I went on the defensive, thinking: you’re not American, you’re Swedish. What do YOU know about the US? But what I said was: Really? I’m not sure what you are talking about.

cincinnati Flags along the Ohio River.

 

Later, I got to thinking about his comment again. As I regularly publish promotions from around the world for work, I started keeping an unofficial tally of sorts. And you know what, I DO publish more promotions/title changes from the US than from anywhere else. When I realized that, I was kind of embarrassed that I had never noticed this before. Why did it take a Swede to point out something about my homeland? And more than that, why do we Americans have to overdo everything anyway?

Because I am generally wired to put a positive spin on these kind of things, I then thought: You know, everyone, no matter where they are in the world, likes a little recognition. What’s so wrong with getting a few promotions and being recognized for a job well done?

And  I suppose THAT very thinking is rather American of me, isn’t it? Even after nine years of international living, I am still a product of where I come from. But I am also forever changed by living where I do.

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