Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cold but beautiful

It was quite cold this week, and as an outdoor worker I noticed it especially.  The temperatures during the daytime were anywhere from -10C(14F) to -6C(21F).  It did cause some beautiful scenery, though.  One or two days were sunny this week and I truly enjoyed it!  I took a couple of shots while out on my rounds this week.

Ice crystals formed on a house's mailbox. All of the mailboxes in the area actually had these on them. They were at least a centimeter or two in height.

All the bushes were covered in thick frost. I rather enjoy spending my time outside for so many hours in the week. It makes me feel fresh and healthy. But I also get to enjoy the beauty that the outdoors has to offer, even in freezing cold temperatures. All you have to do is make sure you're dressed in several layers! People ask me all the time in wonderment how I'm not freezing. You go try running up and down three flights of stairs every minute or two and see if you feel cold, especially if you have two pairs of pants on and three layers on top. =)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Just January

Just January has been happening.  The holidays are over and everyone goes back to the daily grind.  So it has been for J and I.

My vikariat (sub) position started this Monday.  It's nice to know that until March 1st I'm working every day, full time.  It also gives you a slightly different mindset because you're scheduled for certain times.  As a timvikarie (hourly sub) you generally come in at a certain time and finish when you're finished with the day's work.  This week I work from 7am to 3:30pm, so it's kind of nice having that end time to aim for regarding picking up the pace and trying to keep myself a bit faster when out on my routes.  It's also become a good, dare I say fun, challenge to really try and improve my times for how long it takes me to do the routes.  Even if there is a lot of mail or very little, the times don't vary too much since you still have the entire route to do.  It's just that you might have to run inside of Long Street 16B and deliver one letter on the third floor instead of several pieces of mail to each apartment on each floor.

A good piece of news, and I can't recall how much I've mentioned it in the past on here, or if at all (and I don't feel like looking up my old posts), is that I've lost a nice amount of weight since beginning this mail delivery gig!  As I don't want to go around blabbing about actual numbers, I will just say that so far I have lost 8kg, which is about 17 pounds!  I'm back down to a weight that I haven't been since my late teens.  No, that isn't all that long ago but still!  It's quite a handful of years.  =)  So hooray, I've been patting myself on the back for that accomplishment.

Something else that I have to look forward to other than working a lot, making money, and improving my overall health and condition...I'm going to visit the US in March!  The day after my sub position ends I'm going to be flying back home for the first 2 weeks of March.  Yaaay!!  I'm quite excited as I've been wanting to go home for several months now, but just haven't been able to make that call.  The initial problem is, and always is, money.  It's not cheap to hop across the pond (I take 3 flights, and this time it ended up costing about 5500kr, which isn't too bad compared to summer prices).  The second and larger problem this time around is that my residence permit expired in mid-October.  I reapplied for a permanent residence permit in mid-late September, and I still have not been given a decision.  It's recommended that you don't leave Sweden while they are processing your new permit because you can have trouble coming back into the country on your return trip.  Last week I simply got tired of waiting to hear from Migrationsverket (Immigration) and decided to buy a ticket as I had the money and have been wanting to go home for a while.  The last time I was home was for Christmas 2011, so it's about time!  The good news is that I received a letter and small questionnaire in the mail last week from Migrationsverket saying that if we (J and I) just fill out the questions, sign and return the form, they can make a decision based on that.  Basically it was saying they didn't want/see/feel the need to interview us in order to make a decision on whether I get to stay here permanently or not.  Seeing as how J and I are now married, I don't think there will be a problem!  My fingers are crossed that sometime in the next couple of weeks I will finally receive a decision and my new residence permit card.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

God Jul och Gott Nytt År!

...or Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I do apologize for taking so long to post.  I figured the last time I posted was December 9th, and with today being January 8th I'd better post before it officially was a month since I last posted.

What all has happened?  Well I didn't post anymore in December because life simply got too busy!  We were super short handed at work (remember, I work for Bring Citymail) so I was working full time and even some overtime up through the 21st of December.  I have no complaints - as stated before, I still love my job!  I'll be extra happy next week when I receive my paycheck for the month.  I believe it'll be my best one yet.  The only bad thing about my job is that it isn't actually a full time job, I'm just a sub, I guess you could call it. I work hourly, and only when they need someone.  Lately, they have needed me pretty much every day.  What's more, I have good news!  Starting later this month and going through until the 1st of March I have a vikariat, or substitute, position for someone who will be gone.  That means I basically replace them in their full time duties.  I will receive, gasp, an actual month's salary for the first time since moving to Sweden.  I've been making money for quite some time now, but I've never been paid a month's salary.  The downside: it ends on March 1st and so I will go back to my normal position of just being an hourly sub.  Oh well, let's hope more substitute positions show up in my future.

For Christmas J and I headed out to Tibro to stay with his parents for a few days.  J's sister and her family stayed the same amount of time we did. So it was a nice, relaxing few days of just family time.  What is even better, we had a super white Christmas!  It snowed on the 23rd just after we arrived, and then again I think on the night of the 24th it snowed again.  It was great!  It started melting on the drive back home on the 26th so it all worked out perfectly.  I'm sad to report that I didn't take any pictures over Christmas.  I know, for shame, for shame.  We did all the Swedish Christmasy stuff though like decorating the tree on the evening of the 23rd.  Then on the 24th we got up and had a nice breakfast, ate a giant julbord around 2pm and finished eating just in time to sit down with the kids and watch Kalle Anka (that's Donald Duck) at 3pm.  They play a mix and match of really old Disney clips, several including Donald Duck.  It's national tradition here in Sweden for the country to sit down and watch it at 3pm.  After that Jultomten (or Santa Claus) came by and handed out a bunch of gifts.  Then later we had leftovers from the julbord and of course risgröt (or rice porridge) with cinnamon.  It's a Christmas classic here.

This year, instead of all the adults getting gifts for everyone, we decided to play a swap game instead.  Each person bought a gift, wrapped it, and kept it secret from everyone else as to what it was.  Everyone got assigned a random number, opened his/her gift and then the game ensued.  To make a long story short we played a swapping game based on the roll of a die and I think everyone ended up happy!  There were 8 of us so it wasn't chaotic.  I ended up with an ice cream maker machine (which I actually bought, as well as J's mom and sister! So there were 3 overall).  I didn't end up with my own machine though, so there was that.  J and I have already made 2 batches of chocolate ice cream and it is sooo good!  I doubt I'll buy ice cream anytime soon as it is so incredibly simple to make and far more delicious than store bought.  As for J's gift, he received some nice crystal long drink glasses.  He gladly used them for the first time on New Year's Eve.

Speaking of NYE, my good friend M and her man were in Gothenburg for the holidays so we decided that we would have the 2 of them over that evening for some nice appetizers (turned out to be a mealsworth) and some fun games.  It was a blast!  They printed out their own version of Cards Against Humanity and it was so incredibly fun to play.  We did not stop laughing the entire probably 2 hours that we played it.  My face hurt from smiling and laughing by the end of it.  I definitely recommend it as a party game for adults!  We ended the night by meeting up with a couple of Swedish friends at the Hard Rock Cafe downtown.  The one thing that bummed me out that night was that the cafe didn't have a countdown!  Either that, or somehow we missed it.  There are several levels at this one, but most were closed so we were in the most populated area. Maybe Hard Rock figured they were too cool to have a silly countdown.  In any case, the evening was a blast, and it was great to see some good friends.

And here we are!  I worked 3 days last week and am working again this week, so it's back to the grindstone for me.  J technically has off from December 21st to January 14th since he had a lot of vacation days to take out.  He has, however, worked here and there since he is so needed at his job.  Tomorrow he is even going to a meeting.  I keep booing the fact that he's working when he should be on vacation, but only because he truly works so hard all the time.

I'll try to write more often, that will be my blogly (made up, yes I know) New Year's resolution.  Write more often!