Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Sweden'

“I don’t know where I’m going to be on July 11”

June 30th, 2015 · Comments Off on “I don’t know where I’m going to be on July 11”

When I was a little girl, a sentence like this would have made no sense to anyone in my family. We all knew exactly where we were going to be, just about every day–waking up in our own bedrooms in our own house with our own family all around us.

My sister and brothers and I also knew, just about any day in the future, what we would be doing. Each day moved through a series of stylized programs almost as predictable as (later on in my childhood) a TV schedule. Getting up. Getting clean. Getting dressed. Getting breakfast (mostly bacon plus eggs in various shapes.) A lot of this “getting” by children and my father was the result of “giving” and “doing” by my mother, something we never thought about then, when it was happening.

Today, Frank and I live in such a different world. We’re not little children, or parents of little children, so our lives are full of enormously varied choices, many quite appealing. Our friendship groups link us to time zones around the world, so Skype meetings get scheduled via with friends in China online at 11 p.m., friends in Boston online at 11 a.m., while here in Sweden we’re in the middle at 5 p.m.

We just spent a month living in a hotel in Sweden, where having a private meal by ourselves requires more work than just going out to a restaurant. Our summer is going to be similarly peculiar, because Frank has a new book coming out July 14 (A Beautiful Question, wonderful book if I say so myself.)

The quote that gave me a title from this blogpost is from a friend who is similarly location-challenged… but who DOES know where he will be on July 9, viz. “On July 9, I’ll be stuck in JFK airport for 5 hours, so that would be a good time for a Skype conversation.” How astounded my childhood self would have been by such dislocations!

Our grown-up rootlessness, our freedom to travel and adventure, is both sweet and bitter. It is sweet because our freedom comes not only from financial and personal privilege, but also from a sense that whenever Frank and I are somewhere together, we’re safe inside “family.” (This wouldn’t work, of course, if we weren’t confident that a few weeks will bring us back into connection with actual family back home.)

It is bitter because for us both, the “home” where we set our roots back in our childhoods… those homes are gone. The jolly family dinners that seemed so eternal as they repeated year after year… the houses of grandparents, aunts, uncles, multiple feisty cousins, almost as familiar as our own childhood bedrooms… if we could even find those houses now, strangers live there.

So, I also don’t know where I’ll be on July 11. Sometimes, I’m not even really sure where I am right this very moment.

Tags: everythingismiscellaneous · Go go go · Life, the universe, and everything · My Back Pages · Sweden · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Betsy MacGyver does Stockholm

May 25th, 2010 · Comments Off on Betsy MacGyver does Stockholm

Betsy MacGyver does Stockholm

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

One small but defining aspect of geek-style pride is overcoming small obstacles with instant fixes. Here we see the misfit of a Mac plug (too loose) into a Swedish wall socket — the plug was then propped into place with several MacWorld magaizines and a light-travel-reading textbook plus two local apples.

Tags: geeky · Sweden · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Why not to bang into wild boar with your Volvo

January 28th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Josephine Zarkovich’s "Little Deer"

Originally uploaded by allaboutgeorge

In the road ahead, you see a huge elk and a wild boar. What should the average cautious driver do?

Thanks are due to Sweden’s Älgskadefondsföreningen (‘Elk damages fund association’) for the answer to this important but neglected question: the average wild-boar collision costs $4,700 to repair, while an elk costs $3,700 and a deer only $2,200.

“The reason that wild boars cause the greatest material injury is that the wild boar’s centre of gravity sits at the same height as the car’s front end. The impact is strongest where the car’s most expensive components are housed,” explained a researcher.

The obvious remedy is to drive off the road, as far as necessary, to try to collide with a regular deer instead. This solution is chosen by 6 out of 7 in Sweden, where last year’s accident toll included 5,118 with elk, 2,462 with wild boars, but 30,982 with deer.

Tags: funny · Sweden · Wide wonderful world

Dohh! Sweden gets new iPhone 8 hours before US

July 11th, 2008 · 3 Comments

Consummation devoutly to be wished

Originally uploaded by wellohorld

This is soooo not fair!!

Bad enough that summertime Sweden gets way more daylight hours than we do, or that its population is loaded with Legolas-lookalikes — and now I discover that new iPhones just went on sale there three hours ago, at Swedish midnight, (Boston 6 p.m.)

Sadly, we moved back to the USA six months too soon.

Tags: Sweden · Wide wonderful world

Help! My mom turned into a Night Elf Druid!

July 6th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Raiding SSC

Originally uploaded by mf_cailloux

“Dads visiting pornographic websites” were the most common complaint, but more than 100 Swedish children last year asked for help in dealing with Mom or Dad’s internet habits.

One 13-year old girl wrote:

“I know it sounds ridiculous but my mother has started playing the computer game WoW, World of Warcraft … This summer she has been sitting up all day and all night and she forgets what’s important to me. And when she’s not at the computer she’s like a lost soul. She just looks straight ahead and says nothing. I’m not doing so well.”

Kids aren’t well-equipped to compete for Mom and Dad’s monetizable eyeballs. The kingdom of Bhutan was recently shocked to discover that more than 35% of parents would rather watch TV than talk to their children. What do you suppose that percent is in the US? Are more than 65% of US parents passing up Warcraft and chat rooms and prime time TV to spend meaningful family evenings with Alex and Zoe?

Could some level 70 Paladin deal with this, please?

Tags: Editorial · Sweden · Wide wonderful world

Morris dancing broke out in early April…

April 16th, 2008 · Comments Off on Morris dancing broke out in early April…

Morris dancing broke out in early April

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

… and in other Oxford local news, readers of my blog can relax, because those stray pigs who wantoned through the allotments of Wantage did find a good home, with the help of “four RSPCA inspectors and three members of Oxfordshire County Council’s trading standards team” who “rounded up the porkers after enticing them into a trailer with several loaves of bread.”

I love local news, though the price of having lived now in so many places is that quite a lot of news is “local” to some past home. Just a few more to share:

Tip O’Neill says that all politics is local. Not all news is local, but lots of the best of it is.

Tags: England · Sweden · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Global-warming-not-fast-enough baby hedgehog alert

March 6th, 2008 · 1 Comment

Hedgehog Rescue 4

Originally uploaded by Bollops

Swedish hedgehog experts send out a call for help!

Too-early spring wakes up hibernating hedgehoglets to find no breakfast. No insects or worms yet–but many hungry young hedgehogs!

Although we are in England now (where Flickr-ian Bollops recorded his own hedgehog rescue in this photo), I am still hooked on Sweden’s news in English at “The Local.” Where else would I learn about hedgehogs in springtime,

Not to mention telecommuting witches…some of whose magic might help out those Swedish hedgehogs!

Tags: Science · Sweden · Wide wonderful world

NH librarian in Sweden and the NY Times!

February 3rd, 2008 · Comments Off on NH librarian in Sweden and the NY Times!


From today’s NY Times, here you see mother and daughter jaunting and laughing through summertime in side-by-side bus seats, because “My daughter and I wanted to see the Swedish countryside, and a bus is a good way to do it.”

I always love visiting Mary in her lovely and welcoming small-town NH library. I’m glad NY Times photographer Jacob Silberberg captured her and Kerstin in such a lovely but truly typical moment. I’m also glad he mentions that Mary is 60.

It seems to me that the natural active fun for a person at any age is whatever stuff that exact person has real fun doing.

My Time Goes By friend Ronni Bennett pushes back when older people talk about being active or happy as feeling young. I know why she does–for the same reason I once wrote about “I’m too bleeargingledly for my shirt.” But I think what most people mean by “feeling young” is just that we don’t feel some (bad) way society told us we’d feel when we got “old.”

My mom when she was 80 liked gardening and doing crosswords and reading Colette, and far be it from anyone to say that she should have been out riding back roads on a giant Harley while clad in black leather. Though that’s an image that would have made her smile…

And far be it from anyone to say she shouldn’t have ridden those roads and that Harley if she wanted to.

Tags: Go go go · My Back Pages · Sweden · Travel

Over the edge appearance on Swedish TV

December 15th, 2007 · Comments Off on Over the edge appearance on Swedish TV

Waiting to be on TV

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

I should not neglect to mention (although I am tempted) that Frank and I both made multiple appearances on December 10 on Swedish TV 4.

Late in the evening, Anna Björn re-interviewed us about what had been the best and worst Nobel bits of 2004. In case you missed it, the worst for me was worrying about walking down multiple marble staircases. The best was how charming everybody Swedish is (including HRH Prince Carl Philip) and going to the Green Frog Lucia Ball on December 13.

When the interviewers thanked us, and our car was waiting, and had been waiting for fifteen minutes, I took a step backward and stepped off the fairly high platform, almost but not quite falling on my black ball-gowned behind. On live TV.

Everybody that I know in Sweden seems to have seen this.

And to judge from their reminiscent smiles when I ask if they saw this, my almost-fall was a high point of Nobel late night TV.

Anyone who wants to give near-universal satisfaction on TV should really consider this quite simple method.

Actually falling might have given even more pleasure…

Tags: Nobel · Sweden · Wide wonderful world

Good time being had by all

December 14th, 2007 · Comments Off on Good time being had by all

Good time being had by all

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Maybe this photo is a little blurry, but it was late night and near the end of a wonderful party, the Stockholm University Student Union’s Luciabal for their “Order of the Ever Smiling and Jumping Green Frog.”

Many thanks to the students who invited us (again), especially to Per Marcus and also to his brother Mårten.

Not that either of them is at all visible in this photo.

Good night.

Tags: Nobel · Sweden · Wide wonderful world