Sunday, June 13, 2021

Potpourri of Sights, Sounds, and Smells

Horns honking . . . what can it mean?  We never hear horns honking here in Stockholm.  It's a lot like what we experienced in Kenya: very polite drivers and no honking.  So what does the honking mean today?  It's graduation time in Stockholm.  Students don their suits and dresses and wear sailor-looking hats and ride through the streets on open trailers (and even on a boat pulled by a car).  They shout and sing and honk.  In non-pandemic times, they also have huge celebrations.  This year, they celebrated in smaller ways and we were invited to a friend's son's celebration.  Pictures below.

Potpourri of sights, sounds, smells . . . The Stockholm Archipelago with its 24,000 islands . . .  And of course fun times with our grandson missionaries.  Associating with the young missionaries is a definite highlight.  They are such fine young men (and young women) who are giving up 2 years of their busy lives to serve the Lord at their own expense.  Their goodness shines in everything they do.  

And Sweden is stunning in the spring and summer with its flowering foliage.  The winter canola fields are blooming and the cabbagey smell reminds us of home.  Very long sunny days and very short light nights (see the pictures of midnight and 2:30 a.m. -- out my window of course.)

Now that it is warm (the warmest so far has been 77 F), I thought we would see women in shorts, but actually, many women here wear dresses now.  So interesting to see them in cool, flowing dresses and . . . running shoes!  Some wear sandals but most wear running shoes.  Much easier to walk on the uneven cobblestones and sidewalks.  Now for the pictures. . . If you click on them, they enlarge.  Most of them anyway.

This internet picture shows what graduations were like in non-pandemic times.  The grads wear white "sailor-type" hats.  Very different from the mortar boards we wear in the west.  The big signs show baby pictures of the grads, along with words of congratulations.

We attended a backyard celebration for William.  Lots of food and beautiful weather.  Good visiting as most people speak English as well as Swedish.

William didn't want a white hat.  He prefers black and blue, so he designed and made his own hat.  Very cool.  You can see his baby picture sign in the background.  

Äldste Rönndahl is a champion cake baker.  He made TWO cakes for William's celebration!  His cakes taste even better than the store bought cakes, which are actually very good.  So you can see how good his cakes are.  So moist and yummy with pudding and jam layers.
I knew Mara (in middle) when we were here Jan-Mar 2020 as we were in the same ward.  She is American and speaks Swedish fluently.  She is related to the Haslams in Taber.  Her grandfather was born in Stirling so she knows places in Alberta really well.  Helene (on right) is the mother of the graduate.  She is a lovely woman whom we have adopted as another daughter.  LeRon and I visit her every Sunday and participate in the sacrament with her.

I can't get over the size and beauty of the bushes and trees here, as well as the gorgeous smells.  We are so far north and yet here's a gorgeous rose bush, much taller than mine ever grew at home in Alberta.

Now that the cherry blossoms, lilacs, and other spring bloomers are finished, I was so surprised to discover laburnum everywhere in yards and wilderness areas.  Here in Sweden, it is called "sydgulregn", meaning southern golden rain.  It blooms in early summer.

I first saw laburnum in northern Wales and fell in love with it.  It is not native in Sweden, but has been introduced from countries further south and it absolutely thrives here.

And I get excited whenever I see blue sky and puffy white clouds.  I love the sky!  You don't always notice the sky here since you are usually too busy looking at all the foliage.

2021 June 6, midnight!

2021 June 6, 2:30 a.m.!

Huge bushes of rhododendron!  Who knew these bushes could grow so tall this far north?  Stockholm is about the same latitude as the northern boundary of Alberta.

Lovely rhododendron blossoms.  We love to walk in the forest, but our neighborhood is also beautiful with so many flowering bushes, and so sweet smelling too.

The middle tree here in our yard has been getting more and more tipsy.  There is so little soil on the bedrock that trees don't have many deep roots.  When a tree starts to lean, it's only a matter of time before it goes down.  You can see the arborist part way up the tree.  He is cutting branches as he goes up.

My dad was the local telephone repairman back in my younger days (and when telephone lines were above ground).  He had climbing spurs like this fellow, not for trees, but for telephone poles.  Dad often had to climb to the tops of poles to fix the telephone lines.  This fellow is cutting branches off as he climbs.  Then when he got to the top, he cut the main trunk off as he climbed down.  In a half hour, the tree was gone.

Äldste Gilbert (pronounced Eel-bair), in the blue sweater, is a dual Canadian-Swedish citizen.  His dad was born in Quebec (hence the French pronunciation).  Äldste Stinson (who is from New Zealand) worked with us in the mission office for several months.  So nice to have a visit with them, and eat ice cream and chocolate sauce. 

Äldste Wrangell (from Finland) and Äldste Rönndahl (from Sweden) are with me and Helene in front of the first meetinghouse in Sweden.  It was a meetinghouse for 75 years, and also the mission office for 60 of those years.  The church no longer owns it but the sign still says "Latter-day Saint local congregation." And the beehive symbol is still there.  It's now a heritage building and the outside cannot be changed.  The pioneers in Utah used the symbol of the beehive -- bees are always busy, and in Utah it symbolized the community of Saints all working together to help each other.
Helene told us of a life-saving experience that happened in this building about 50 years ago.  A teenager was in the building after church and felt impressed to go into the kitchen and open the refrigerator door.  Out fell a 6-year old boy who was nearly dead.  The boy had been hiding and the fridge was one of those that locked when shut, so he couldn't get out.  If the young man had not opened the door when he did, the boy would have died.  Wow!  Lesson learned: follow the promptings when you get them.

Sunday night, 9 p.m.  Singing with the missionaries!  A heavenly experience!

We love these young men: Äldste Rönndahl, Äldste Nordgren, Äldste Wrangell, Äldste Spellacy, and our cousins Äldste Scott and Äldste Austin.  Yes, not only is Äldste Scott our cousin, but we have just learned that Äldste Austin is also.  He descends from Thomas E. Ricks (of Ricks College in Rexburg fame), as does Äldste Torrie.  Such a small world!

Now we're on our way to where we will board the boat for our 3-hour archipelago tour.  Passing lots of high end stores such as Chanel, Gucci, Prada, and Louis Vuitton.  Seems almost like Paris's Champs Elysée!

The architecture is so . . . European and yet Scandinavian.

Lots of curves and balconies and interesting roofs.  The walk to the boatyard from the tunnelbana was interesting architectural-wise.

Now we're on the boat, heading away from Stockholm out to the islands.  There are about 24,000 islands in the archipelago, but you have to remember that they count every teeny tiny island.  Some islands are so small that there's only a small house on them.  Yes, people live on many of the islands.

We so much prefer the islands to the city.

Many people have summer cottages on the islands, but because of the pandemic, lots of people have renovated their homes for winter so that they can live all year on them.  No point being in the city if you're just stuck at home.  You may as well be on your island.

Even this small island is counted as one of the more than 24,000 islands.

The Vaxholms Fortress was built from 1833 to 1863 to defend Stockholm from invasion.  The fortress prevented fleets from entering the waterway leading to Stockholm.

The Vaxholms Fortress is now a museum and has bed and breakfast places available.

Can't remember what this smokestack was for but look at how tall it is!  It dwarfs the smokestack next to it.

Tiny lighthouse keeping boats away from the rocks.

Stockholm's Tivoli-like amusement park, Gröna Lund, does not look fun to LeRon and me.  We're not amusing people . . . I mean amusement park people.

Another Saturday we explored the grounds of Drottningsholm Slott, the palace of the king and queen of Sweden.  They work during the week in their palace at Gamla Stan but they live here.  How would you like a house this big?

The guards in times past guarded the palace from here.  I'm glad these are more peaceful times.

The palace reminded us of Versailles, King Louis XIV's palace near Paris.  The sculpture is of St. George slaying the dragon.

Long avenues of lime trees.  We know them as linden trees.

This tree reminded us of the baobab trees in Kenya with their huge trunks and the smaller branches.

But on the other side, we could see that it was actually two trees growing together with not much inside.

The inside was so interesting . . . and so dead.  Amazing that so many branches and leaves still grew at the top.

My dad would love these trees.  He was expert at growing and grafting trees.  A favorite poem of his was "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree . . . "  LeRon and I found this tree fascinating.  It's definitely a survivor.

Another guard house at the other end of the estate used to house the guard's family.  Interesting painting under the eaves.

From a distance, we thought that this was just a huge tent.  But it's actually a building made to look like a tent and it concealed a barracks for the royal guards.

The Guards Tent was built in 1782.  It was designed by King Gustav who got the idea for it from a visit with Catherine the Great of Russia and also from the Turkish tents King Louis XV received from the Turkish Sultan.

The entire facade is made of sheet metal and is painted to resemble a canvas tent.  It sure had us fooled!  At least from a distance.

I was surprised to see this tree.  An Ohio Buckeye.  Or at least some kind of a buckeye.  I had no idea they grew this far north.

The Ohio buckeye I have growing in my yard at home is only about 15 feet tall and it's been growing for many, many years.  It will never get to the size of this tree in my lifetime.

At last . . . fields of winter canola!  So beautiful!!  And the cabbagey smell made us both homesick.  We couldn't get enough of this field . . . and then the next . . . and then the next.  Lots of canola in Sweden.

Here I am with things I love . . . a gorgeous canola field, a blue sky, puffy white clouds, and a red car that reminds me of the one we bought when we were first married.  It was a red Chevy Nova and it was the peppiest little car.  Here in Sweden we drive this little red Hyundai.  It's our JOY car.  The license plate starts with YOJ.

We're at home now!  Our second home here in Sweden.  See below for some videos of the fields.

We found another cute church, the Täby Kyrka just down the street from where we live.  Inside are some of the best preserved frescoes from the Swedish painter, Albertus Pictor, who painted in the 1400's.

And yes, they were amazing paintings.  Old and New Testament paintings.  The security girl let us go up into the organ loft so we got an extra close view of them.  These paintings will be cleaned next year and then they will be even brighter.  They will clean them with bread and water.  Yes, white bread and water!

On the far right are Joshua and Caleb carrying the grapes after they went into the promised land and returned to Moses with a good report.

A beautiful little chapel.

Notice the whitish painting at the bottom right.  In the 1800's the church at the time decided that paintings in churches were not a good idea so they whitewashed over most of Albertus Pictor's frescoes.  This church has some of the best and most vivid surving frescoes but you can also see where some of the paintings were destroyed by whitewashing them. 

No, LeRon did not get to play this organ, but he wanted to!

Churches here are not that interesting architecture-wise on the outside, but they are lovely inside, and we enjoy walking around their cemeteries.

We stopped by to the Danderyd Kyrka to see the gorgeous flowering trees.

LeRon is on his phone . . . mission work never stops!

The next day we stopped back at the Danderyd Kyrka and the flowers were almost gone!  Glad we saw them when we did.

The Danderyd Kyrka cemetery is so gorgeous!

The last Sunday in May was Mothers Day here in Sweden.  They have a lovely tradition of taking flowers to their mothers' and grandmothers' graves for Mothers Day.  Lots of real flowers here in the cemetery for Mothers Day.

"Congratulations on Mother's Day, Mamma 2021!"

Love these little lovebirds!

What is this tower? We thought for sure Rapunzel needed to be rescued!  But no, it is the Djursholm Vattentur.  The Djursholm water tower.  That's what the man we met on the trail told us but we thought we had misunderstood.  Could a water tower have windows?  But yes . . . it really was a water tower.

But it's not a water tower anymore.  Windows have been added and it now holds historical records and people go here to research the history of the area.

Gorgeous picture of the water and the clouds!  I was originally trying to take a picture of the houses on the point (which you can't see anyway).

The sky at 3 a.m.!!!

Cemeteries by churches are so lovely, especially by the water, and in the spring.

There's so much rain here that farmers need to put in drainage pipes to drain the fields so they can plant them.

We love the fields!

Another canola field!  Winter canola is planted in the fall, then it grows a bit and then lies dormant during the winter, then pops up in the spring.

Nothing prettier than a canola field.

Look at how tall that canola plant is.  Up to LeRon's eyes!  And when he got back in the car, he was covered with a fine dust!  He never noticed that back on the farm because he never went in the field in a suit!


  1. I am also not a fan of amusement parks. They are not amusing to me! So many great pictures! (I need to borrow that beautiful canola field picture!) LeRon looks oustanding in any field!

  2. Myrna, you're hilarious. :-D

  3. Wow, you’re right, Sweden is beautiful there in the spring! Makes me want to plant more flowering bushes. But then, winters are more mild there by the sea and that probably makes a big difference. Is the Voxholm fortress the one in All for Sweden?