Category Archives: Travel

Show & Tell: Wild Dala Horses

If you’ve spent any time in a Swedish community, you may be familiar with the Dala Horse:

Dala horsesadorn homes, Christmas trees, mailboxes, tableclothes, wrapping paper, etc — all year long.

I spent last week in my college town. Lindsborg, KS has taken the Dala concept one step further — a herd of wild dala horses has taken up residence in various locations!

I photographed some (and also borrowed other photos from Mike-Sheryl.com) to show you my beloved Lindsborg’s whimsicality. The titles of these 11 wild dalas are as clever as the paint jobs.

See what my classmates are showing and telling over at Mel’s Show & Tell. And show something yourself — everyone is welcome.

Perfect Moment Monday: Retrospect

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

We gather once a week to engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join. Details on how to participate are at the bottom of this post, complete with bloggy bling.

Please visit the links of the participants at the bottom.

Here’s a perfect moment from my week. I hope you’ll share yours, too.

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I took a trip on the yellow brick road down memory lane this week.

I returned to my college town in Kansas for a class reunion. This sign above the bar gave me pause, because I realized that people not even born when we graduated can now legally drink alcohol.
Let me say a little about my college. It’s small — there were 104 in my graduating class, and just under 1000 students altogether. It’s tight — after so many years, we alums greeted each other with deep affection. It’s idyllic — I hold thousands of happy memories. SO many memories in only 4 years. And the college is inextricably entwined with the town.

The town has remained at a population of about 3500 over the decades. It’s a farming and artisan community — highly welcoming of the transient student population who are invited to retain a claim on the place.

Each odd-numbered year, the town hosts Svensk Hyllningsfest, a Swedish harvest festival that coincides with the college’s class reunions. The town has one flashing red light at the main intersection. No green or yellow is necessary — just red. And even that is shut off during Hyllningsfest, for the parade and for the Swedish Dancers.

The day before the actual festivities (which I enjoyed immensely — hello fellow Stuga-ites!), I spent time alone, wandering the town with my 80s playlist on, revisiting the scenes of past sins. Such as:

  • with my roommate one night, moving a bench from City Hall and putting it in the middle of Main Street.
  • with the same roommate, grabbing bread carts from behind the grocery store and racing each other in the parking lot.
  • making out in the bandshell on my 19th birthday with Jim (“making out” is not a euphemism, mom — I truly did not mess around with Jim).
  • my pattern of going after the same guy my friend Kathy liked. Three times, we figured.
  • stealing a couple of dollars from the till at my summer job, just because I could.
  • “going to Nebraska,” which was a euphemisms for, well, taking a trip of sorts.
  • breaking a few hearts.

And the scene of past hurts:

  • having my heart broken. More than once.
  • being on the outside of girl groups. Or at least thinking I was.
  • not being able to do the splits for my final drill-team routine. I was the only girl who wasn’t that limber. Fail.
  • two car accidents that claimed the lives of friends.

I got to revisit these scenes of teen/twentysomething angst with mature eyes. Even my imperfections were made perfect.

Fall sunflowers, to and fro.

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To participate in Perfect Moment Monday:

  1. Between Sunday night and Tuesday night, write up your own Perfect Moment in a blog post, on Twitter, on Facebook, or simply leave a comment below.
  2. Grab the URL of your Perfect Moment.
  3. Use MckLinky below to enter your (or your blog’s) name and the URL of your Perfect Moment
  4. Visit the Perfect Moments of others (from the links below), and let the writers know you were there.

Once you make a Perfect Moment post , you may place this button on your blog.

What Perfect Moment have you recently been aware of? Be sure to visit these moments and share the love, and please come back next week (click to subscribe).

Show & Tell: A Falling Out, of Sorts

Twenty years ago I was halfway through a year working in Japan. I had been teaching English, traveling the country, and working out some issues by leaving my falling-apart life behind for a bit.

Phase 1 of the year was Wonder. Everything in the Winter/Spring of 1989 was new and fascinating: the food, the people, the culture, the freedom. This period of growth and opening was exactly what I’d come for.

Summer brought Phase 2, which was Settling In. I felt confident enough in my language and getting-around skills to host my parents and sister for a visit in July and my boyfriend in August.

Things fell apart for Phase 3. Let’s call it Ick. I had no more visits to look forward to, I became very homesick (especially for Boyfriend), and I was bored to tears with my job. Speaking simplified English and covering the same topics over and over allowed me to practice and perfect the art of the clandestine yawn to the point where I thought my cranium would implode.

The heat and humidity were stifling to this dry-heat girl raised in the semi-arid Rocky Mountains. By the end of the summer, I was sick of sopping though my clothes ALL THE TIME. It was only after midnight that it was tolerable to go outside. Conveniently, this is also when I would gather several hundred yen and head to the international phone on the street corner to call Boyfriend, who would be available then due to the time difference.

One suffocating night, around 1 am on my way home from the phone booth, I noticed a man with a flannel jacket (??) hanging over his forearm. Odd. He began to follow me along a deserted street, and I saw that his OTHER arm was moving up and down. Rapidly. With a grin, he flapped open his first arm to show me what he was pumping.

I freaked out, even though I knew I wasn’t in any physical danger. He was a swine, but a harmless swine.

Still, I felt violated. The next day at work, I insisted that my coworker, a bilingual Japanese woman, help me make a police report.

She explained to me that reporting such a “crime” was just not done. Men will be men. Even if police DID look for the perv, even if they DID find him, nothing would happen to him. Shikata ga nai.

I insisted, and she accompanied to me to the local police station. In my mind I was quite powerful, bringing healthy feminine boundaries from America to my host country. I would save other women from this preying public crank wan.ker.

As soon as I finished puffing myself up, the translation deflation hit.

Know what the police officer said, as relayed to me by my colleague?

It probably fell out by itself.

Ma-tha-fa-ka.

I may have fallen off my chair. All by myself.

*****

See what my classmates are showing and telling over at The Town Crier’s Show & Tell. And show something yourself — EVERYONE is welcome.