How do you know summer is upon us? The list of sommarvärdar, summer hosts, for the Swedish radio is published! Like every year, I had someone, in this case my co-worker, read up the names for me and said which ones I knew. This year, I recognized eight. It doesn’t seem like I am improving on this self-imposed quiz! My co-workers reactions were hilarious though when I had no clue about people she really thought I knew. “What do you mean, you don’t know Bert Karlsson?”

We were blessed with non-humid weather in Dizzel this week, so refreshing it made me sing all the time at work. I have recently specialised in adapting Swedish schlager and pop to what we do at work, so when lunch break comes around, I sing “Vi drar till Rewe” , and if my extra colleague isn’t showing up in the lunch room, I go to her office and chirp, “Är du hungrig, Johanna, javisst är du det”, fika is preceeded by a happy “Jag går och fikar” . And because my co-worker is also already in summery vacation mode, she peeled her banana yesterday, intonating, “Jeg spiser — en banan”.

This afternoon, we acually took what felt like a class trip – we visited out external colleague who lives in Essen. Yet another town with a reputation in which the term picturesque does not figure. But that only means you get there and get your mind blown by the idyllic landscape presented to you. So. ridicuously. pretty! Including baby geese!


Right: I had baked fika. Left: Behind the scenes of instagramming.

Summer also means I want to use my balcony which is 8 metres long and one metre wide. I started planting stuff last night and made one wrong move which left me slowly inching back into the apartment with serious back pain. Luckily, I have heat wraps, heavy medications and know how to google “ischias exercises”, don’t I sound like an 80-year-old? But it helped at least and I could work today. I could even go to the store tonight and buy three balcony chairs! Club 8×1 is opening tomorrow, I’d say.


When you really want to sit on your balcony but don’t own a car


I’m considering putting up a Turner above my sofa. Any thoughts?

192 hours

In Germany, when you can’t afford to travel during your vacation (or don’t want to, like my late Grandpa), you spend your holiday in Balkonia. What sounds like a previously undiscovered Balkan state is actually just your balcony. I am lucky to rent an apartment that has a balcony and despite the fact that I’ve planned to travel abroad as well, I want to enjoy my extra room which is eight metres long (yay!) and one meter wide (nay). Last weekend, I thought I’d get it all ready for spring, clean it, plant flowers and acquire furniture. Well, in the end I cleaned it, figured out it was not at all facing south but east and took an ugly but functional bench with me that I found abandoned in the street. (Balcony furniture is unaffordable.)


Now that the compass app told me my balcony faces east, it suddenly make sense that the sun usually wakes me.

The local art house cinemas (only meaning they show films that have not been made in Hollywood) had a Nordic Film Week last week that was opened by the Swedish film “En man som heter Ove”. I generally support these cinemas but if they give you free meatballs and wine before the movie, I am even happier to attend. The film was actually quite good, better than the average Swedish Sommaren-med-Göran-comedy. What I maybe liked most was the unproblematized existence of a non-ethnic Swede: Parvaneh was just there, spoke flawless Swedish and dealt with normal problems. The movie is out in Germany now, after taking Swedish audiences by storm, and if you want to see something that is not shallow but not so heart-wrenching you cannot sleep at night (unlike “Room” which is very good but hard to watch), you can go and see Ove.


I also went to look at a location for our junior organisation’s jubilee. I was lucky with that one, I’d heard of the location in connection to an event some years ago and took the chance to contact them. The place is right in the middle of Düsseldorf, but once you step onto their land, you feel like you’ve come to some oasis in the 1890s. I liked it so much I started to consider getting married there (but then I remembered by archipelago wedding plans.) The place has a park behind it in which you find interesting art, fountains with integrated rainbows and benches that have legs that look like twigs.


German employees pay a lot of money each month to their health insurance. I think I might be one of the people who has a good return on investment there. I had my aching pinky x-rayed and am sent to the MRI this week for reasons I won’t go into here as “part of the answer would only unsettle you”, as we say in Germany.

I also went to the dentist who broke the news to me that I apparently heavily grind my teeth at night. The dentist made a good impression on me otherwise but I still find their motto a bit too, ehm, screaming.


On the weekend, we were blessed with spring weather and I went to the People’s Park. A popular meeting point at the entrance is “the clocks”, an artwork I actually find very cool. After wandering through the park, we arrived at the petting zoo where some incredibly charming goats and a big pig called Doris lived.

I also saw a barefoot person in the local supermarkt, encountered a van owned by the family company “Low Butt” (Niedergesäss) several times and learned that something called trout pear exists. Now you know what I did in the last 192 hours. What did you do?

You say tomato, I say tomahto


This might damage my personal digital brand, but I have decided to disclose a huge knowledge gap to you: Although I have completed the highest German school leaving certificate, my expertise in biology is incomplete, to put it midly. It seems like my brain only stored the subject matter we talked about in the last two schoolyears when everything was relevant to the one big exam which I actually aced, knowing everything about receptors and evolution. When it comes to botanics, my own nesciene surprises even myself, and it regularily shocks my poor mother.

This is why now I have started a gardening project: my tomato. I bought a tomato plant three weeks ago because my balcony is to the south and tomatoes like that. Since the tomato has come into my life, I am following a live event in botanics.

In the morning and in the evening, I go and water it. In the afternoon, I count the new blooms; I marvel at this natural artwork. When I talk to friends, I inform them that if things go well, I might be able to harvest 18 little tomatoes soon. It’s like a new pet. Because it grows so rapidly, it needed a new stick to entwine around and I sent Evelina to buy one. She’s witnessed my tomato journey for a while now and when we came to my house once and it rained, I rushed in to get my tomato out of the rain before doing anything else. Evelina said, “I realize there is lots of focus on the tomato now”. Well, yeah. But at least now I know how a tomato grows.

I also have a dahlia that the bumblebees adore. And Ingrid pets the bumblebees. They actually seem to like that.

I also have a dahlia that the bumblebees adore. And Ingrid pets the bumblebees. They actually seem to like that.