Thursday was Ascension Day, which is a public holiday in Sweden. Sweden has this great system where if a holiday falls on Tuesday or Thursday, the corresponding Monday and Friday are semi-official holidays too, called "squeezing days". So you get a four day weekend without any need to just happen to be sick on the intervening day.
I had two invitations on Thursday, both from people I know through the Jewish community. The first was for brunch in an allotment on one of islands in the inland sea that bisects Stockholm. It was just amazingly Swedish in so many ways. Inviting people for brunch, eating it outdoors despite the rather damp weather, eating a meal in which pickled herring, smoked salmon and potatoes featured prominently, drinking schnapps, and the location itself which could only exist in Sweden. Allotments here are rather more elaborate than their English equivalents, often including a more or less wild garden as well as a vegetable patch, and a fairly serious shed or summer house usually, as in this case, built by the allotment tenants. Many of them have been passed down in families for generations.
Then in the afternoon, a meal with the mother of one of my bar mitzvah students, a flamboyant Russian woman. She is a civil engineer and it came up in conversation that she had designed and built her house herself! The only downside was that it took me about three hours to reach her suburb on the northern side of town; public transport is limited on holidays and I was unlucky with every single change. Of course, this made me extremely late for the party, as I hadn't bargained on the journey taking that long. But never mind. There was a lot of food, very much the Russian / Jewish hospitality thing, with the hostess trying to guilt her guests into eating far more than was comfortable. I drank a few sips of some rather powerful homebrew to be polite, but didn't enquire too deeply into its nature. Fun and intellectual conversation.
The evening ended in a way that was both enjoyable and annoying: people started to get up to leave at about 7 o'clock, and I was leaving with the general crowd but the hostess insisted that I should stay, as I'd only been there a couple of hours. I demurred, pointing out that it might take me three hours to get home, but some other guests offered me a lift if I didn't mind staying a little longer. They went and did the stereotypical Jewish thing of being unable to get through the doorway; it was well after 10 by the time we finally left. Although I enjoyed the later part of the evening, I was not happy to get to bed so late when I'd promised to get up in time for the New Moon service on Friday morning.
Said service annoyed me because there were only four people there, which made it pointless for me to show up. But hey, these things happen. I spent a highly enjoyable morning with AA, my predecessor at work and someone I get on with exceedingly well. We talked shop a bit, but it was primarily social. Then ploni_bat_ploni fed me lunch and took me shopping, and we talked nineteen to the dozen having not seen eachother for weeks. I managed to find some stuff with which to celebrate International Lingerie Day.
I've spent most of the time since then trying to cram in as much hanging out with ploni_bat_ploni as possible because she's leaving Sweden next week. I have done some bits of work in between intense conversations, though! Yesterday we attended the Tikkun Leyl Shavuot, the all-night study session for the festival of Pentecost, together. There was some really fun discussion, including reading midrash on Ruth in Yiddish (!), discussing the meaning of the deaths of Nadav and Abihu, and a bit on how the passage in Torah which is labelled as "the ten commandments" is not in fact what we know by that name. Happily, given that I had a meeting with my boss this morning, the community's defintion of "all night" was generous, and PbP invited me to crash at her place so I was in bed by 1 am. Still ridiculously tired today, though!
Because of all this, I managed to miss both darcydodo's birthday, and my fourth LJ-versary. So belated happy birthday to Darcy, and I may do the retrospective of four years on LJ a few days late.
Finally, a very warm welcome to the wonderful hobbitz, a dear friend from Oxford whom I've been trying to tempt onto LJ for years. Her journal is friends only and she only wants to friend people who actually know her. But I'm so very happy that she's finally here.
Now I fall over. Splat.