Boston Blatte

Raised in Boston, remade in Sweden

Archive for the ‘Boston blend’ Category

Hockey. Hockey. Hockey.

Monday, May 20th, 2013

BANG!!!! BANG!!!! BANG!!!

In the midst of the Stanley Cup’s Eastern Conference semifinals series, every Bostonian knows it is all about Bruins ice hockey.


Oh right. I am in Sweden, home of the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation GOLD Champions. And there is certainly no doubt ice hockey fever has taken over Sweden.

sweden hockey

A lot of Swedes, the Swedish husband included, should rightfully be questioning my loyalties placing Boston hockey playoffs above Swedish gold-medal champions. The thing is, that I am even writing about hockey is pretty ironic to begin with.

I am about the furthest thing from a hockey fan there can be (though I did play field hockey at Watertown High currently boasting a 90-something unbeaten game record). However, this past week I have read about, listened to and watched more hockey than in my lifetime.

I caught the fever discovering the events leading up to Boston’s defeat over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Going from a 3-0 series lead, the Bruins face off against the Leafs in game 7. Coming into the 3rd period the Bruins are down 4-1. And they rally to a 5-4 victory in overtime. Incredible. I was regretting not having watched the game.

We’re not a sports-watching family (thankfully) but we are fans of our ‘home teams’. That means if the US, Sweden or Boston are in a race for a title –you pick the sport, we are game-watchers.

And so, in addition to the nail-biter Sweden matches in the International Ice Hockey Federation games hosted by Sweden, I watched both the semi-final US defeat against Switzerland and the bronze US victory over Finland.

Today, Sweden is in hockey ecstasy over its glorious champion status. And with that glee comes light-hearted humor. This image has been touring the walls of several Facebook friends.


The message is clearly sedated bragging over the defeating Switzerland at the (cheap) expense of stereotypical American geographical challenges. But in their cute, naive way, they presume there are Americans who have even heard of the International Ice Hockey Federation, then know that there is a world championship and finally, CARE about the results. It is long stretch.

But it tickles the jubilant Swedes basking in hockey glory.

The reality (perhaps sad and provincial) is that Americans who care about hockey, only care about the NHL. They are grateful for the rest of the world supplying amazing hockey players. Sweden has produced Carl Söderberg for Boston and for the NY Rangers, Carl Hagelin Anton Strålman, and Henrik Lundqvist.

So in equally light-hearted humor, I will leave you with a playful image of Bruins pride aimed at NY Rangers’ goalie…who happens to be a Swede:

suck it

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Watertown Blatte: Hometown in international spotlight

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

You know something big must be going on in your hometown if a Swedish reporter from Sweden’s Television is reporting from between the Watertown and Arsenal Malls.

link to video of SVT report

All day last Friday I was in symbiosis with my laptop, desktop, smart phone and TV trying to take in multiple perspectives of every minute of the warfare drama played out the streets and backyards of my childhood town, Watertown, or as Stefan Åsberg says, /Wot-Tur-Town/.

Image by Fran Forman on Twitter

Via social media and streaming links to local TV media, I saw images of military troops in full gear and heavy weaponry occupying the emptied streets. Scenes resembled fictitious Hollywood reenactments or exaggerations depicting doomsday scenarios of SciFi thrillers. I half expected Bruce Willis to enter the scene, barefoot and pissed off that once again Russian-like terrorists were ruining his perfectly normal day.

And so I waited to call my parents. Since they use an answering machine to screen their calls, I knew the automated call by the Watertown Police Department that went around to the 30+ thousand residents hadn’t woken them.

My brother in Florida texted me that he had woken them so I called. Cool as senior citizen cucumbers could be, they were relatively non-plussed. The only plans for the day thwarted was a planned trip to CVS. They were at least 1 mile (about 1.6km) from the closed perimeter. Nothing but being slightly more shut in than a rainy day.

People from everywhere sent me support or asked questions. It was a global forum of watch, wait, wonder and worry; one more W than the world wide web.
Taken by a high school friend in her house
As bedtime ticked closer, emotionally spent, I gave up the vigil. I was beginning to fear he had managed to slip through and there was not way I could endure that ride. I overheard on the police scanner (headphones still broadcasting as I lay in bed) that people were coming out for air. That was the last update before waking to news that Suspect number 2 had been captured. Alive.

The aftermath will continue to play out and I continue to learn interesting details from Watertown friends and the general network. There is also the emotional debriefing I am currently experiencing after seeing some heavy-handed door-to-door searches and/or evacuations.

From a friend’s parents’ backyard
diana ziljian's parents

Regardless, one thing is irrefutable, the Town of Watertown, (legally qualifying to be called a city though many of us were caught yelling at our TV sets that Watertown is NOT a city…and it is Dexter AVE not street) has basked in its 15-minutes of international fame.

Maybe I should rename my blog Watertown WatRat –a similar self-reclaimed pejorative as Boston Blatte.

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Debunking Swedish Stereotypes: Cold neighbors

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Bring on snow and the Bostonian in me cannot be contained.

If I see a car stuck, I just jump in and start pushing. Despite the Swedish husband’s concern that people might get offended, every Swede I have helped has thanked me appreciatively. The day I got stuck in soft, deep snow outside our place at Hornstull I feared I might be there for hours if people were as cautious to assist me as my husband had suggested. Not the case. Within minutes a man asked if he could help. Out in a flash.

snow push

Not surprisingly, I have been following the Blizzard Nemo that hit Boston and the northeast last week. I was feeling rather helpless thinking about my mid-octogenerian parents in Watertown. They have adopted that Yankee stalwart independence despite both of them being naturalized citizens (in fairness I think the stubbornness and independence was imported with them, but tis no matter, they fit right in) and had waved me away on each concerned call to confirm that they had a plan in place to get them shoveled out.

-You don’t have to worry about us.
-We are all set.
-We will manage.

Did I mention that my father just got his hip replaced less than two months ago and my mother has been playing his nursemaid since the pre-op? And yet she was out there shoveling the day after Nemo stopped dumping snow. But so were her neighbors and my friends who live close by. And I was very grateful.


Today, in an act of repayment in the spirit of paying it forward (because the help my parents got is now being passed along) I took a shovel up to an elderly neighbor’s house. The snow accumulation has not been much here in my ‘burb of northern Stockholm, but it has been consistent. The plows caught up yesterday and piled up heavy, frozen banks in front of cleared walks and drives. My sweet neighbor clearly just couldn’t manage it, and probably like my parents, hadn’t turned to neighbors since she figured she could manage climbing over it.

So, I just started clearing (and quietly swearing since it was solid frozen and heavy). She came out a bit surprised to find me there. I assured her that I was happy to do it and I explained about my own parents. With moist eyes she hugged me.

Best thing I could do on the day of love; love my neighbor. And she loved me back.

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Bostonians: Swedes of the United States?

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Boston is renamed “Meantown” by a pithy blogger referring to the results of a 2010 survey (can’t locate the actual survey).

Reading through the comments I had to chuckle. In the whiny comments we could easily replace Boston and Bostonians with Sweden and Swedes.

e.g. Upon moving to the Boston area Sweden I found many people inhospitable. Now, three years later, I remain surprised at how many strangers ignore you altogether when a simple “hello,” or “excuse me,” or “thank you” is appropriate. Boston Sweden has a lot of wonderful things going for it, but courtesy is not one of them. Sorry.

The original internet survey split human traits into two, one of which was termed “strengths of the heart”. It included include gratitude, compassion, teamwork, hope, modesty, religiousness. I wonder why “religiousness” is considered a “strength” implying a lack of religiousness is a weakness? Modesty is also funny since Americans by nature rarely weigh in modesty as a strong American characteristic.

So I’m none too perturbed that Boston scored low. And I am warmed to know that my Bostoness (Bostonianism?) can be a reason I feel rather comfortable in Sweden. Both places are filled with kind-hearted, open-minded, no-nonsense folk. We’re just misunderstood.

And screw the rest of you if you don’t agree 😉

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Holding up Halloween: NJ and Stockholm style

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

New Jersey is doing what we do here every year: putting Halloween on the day that is more convenient.
no candy sandy

New Jersey kids will have to wait until Monday with so many homes in the state are on generators or without power altogether in Frankenstorm’s aftermath. You can’t leave your front porch light on when you have no lights. Or when your driveway is blocked by a fallen tree. Or when your street is under water.

Our kids will work the immediate neighborhood on Friday evening. Our street’s tradition is to organize day and time. As a result, neighbors are prepared and homes are decorated.


True that in the US, since everyone (except NJ this year) sends the kids around on Halloween night (October 31st) you get the same result. But here in Sweden, the trick-or-treat tradition is still in its formation stage. I did hear that many kids were out this evening, though we didn’t get any.

We’ll just have to hang on until Friday. And New Jersey, you have a safe Hallween on November 5th!

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Boston blown off the map: Sandy’s power

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

This morning, the Sandy headlines in Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) caught my 8-year old’s attention. They focused on the region of the US where mom comes from, where Grandma and Grandpa live and where we will be traveling in just a few weeks. I thought the ongoing story of Frankenstorm Sandy would be an excellent opportunity to teach my 8-year old a bit of US geography and maps.

Except it seems that Sandy’s devastation blew Boston nearly off the map. Thankfully Baltimore could take us in.


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Swedes: We just don’t get them.

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

I think I get Swedes. Sort of. Kind of. Still working on it, really.

I’ve been at it for nearly 2 decades and the learning curve has been tumultuous, but any good ride has its ups and down. However, it can be a hit or miss for most “newbies” to Sweden. And if you read the pages of The Local, you’ll find there is often “someone” with their knickers in a twist about Swedes. This popular article on TL comes first to mind.

Now it’s quite true that striking up conversation with the random Swede on the street is not always forthcoming. Swedes are a little skittish and they (particularly 08ers aka Stockholmers) are molded from that normal “big city aloofness” you find in any big city which does make them hard to reach. But reachable they are. Warm and loving too. But yes, also, terse, stoic and reserved.


I’m gregarious. I talk up everyone and anyone and it took me a long while to realize that I’m pretty odd in Boston too. New Yorkers and other Americans regularly complain about us Bostonians being uptight and unapproachable. When I first heard it, I was shocked. Taking a look at it with open eyes I realized that there’s truth to it. Your average Bostonian won’t strike up random conversation, not the kind of polite conversation the people in the article are talking about. BUT, if YOU strike up conversation with a Bostonian and work at it by all the unwritten social/cultural rules of Bostonianism, you can be chatting away for hours.

Stockholmers are like Bostonians: tough nuts to crack (and Swedes have slightly tougher outer shells.) But inside that outer crust it’s all warm and gooey.

I feel sorry for the couple in the above article. They think that because they were brown Swedes didn’t want to interact with them. I’m brown (more so now after a sunny summer) but I chat up Swedes regularly with the fitting success one can ascribe to chatting to Stockholmers.

But maybe I “hear” Swedes better. So much communication among Swedes is non-verbal: a nod of the head, a crook in their smile, a twinkle in their eye.

As for the staring, I have heard people complain of this, but in all honesty I’ve never felt it myself (do Bostonians stare a lot?).

So take heart. If you want to speak to Swedes. Make the first, gentle move. Wait. And then listen…they’re talking to you.

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Right on Red in Sweden: Right on!

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

I never thought I would see the day that turning right on red while driving would ever come to Sweden, even if only as a discussion. Dagens Nyheter had it as a front cover story in yesterday’s newspaper. (The Local’s article in English)

right on red

The story came on the heels of the previous day’s news about the Stockholm government’s proposal (or at least discussion opener) to allow bicyclists to drive through red lights in certain circumstances. The idea is that many bicyclists already do this and that it would make traffic flow better. Not sure if I agree with that.

On the other hand, coming from Boston, no one would be surprised if it were suggested that I might (not admitting anything here) regularly, daily even, already partake (purely for scientific purposes) in both activities.

Right on red is the driving rule that I miss terribly from driving in N. America and in Boston. I sort of miss the ability to pass on the right when on a highway too, but I can adjust to that one easily enough since cars don’t hog the travel lane like they do on Yankee Division Highway ( old Rt. 128 –NO one knows it as Yankee Division Highway) or anywhere on I-95 or the Pike.

But I digress (no stop sign posted.)

I doubt this traffic law will ever be enacted in Sweden, but I would really love it if it did.

Though the arguments against all point to greater chaos on Stockholm’s streets. I doubt that. As much as it should be admirable that Swedes are highly law abiding, the pedantic sticking to what a motorist or bicyclists “thinks” the rules are or ought to be (that’s worse) causes heaps of chaos.

I still subscribe to the Bostonian mentality of driving/biking…communicate, work it out and flip ’em off (if need be;) but just get out of the way!

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Groupon Coupon Stockholm: Today’s deal

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I bought my first Groupon Coupon today at an 80% discount.

80% sounds too good to pass up (even if I am skeptical of how much the original price normally is.) Groupon, if you’re not familiar with it yet (and haven’t clicked on the link,) is a deal-of-the-day website offering collective bargaining power.
Boston was the second city market (after Chicago) to kick off about 2 years ago. After signing up for the Boston deals (since I’m there regularly) I discovered that Sweden has its own Groupon and its Dagens deal.

So I went for broke (thinking that I really might be just throwing away money if I never use the coupon or if it doesn’t work out or some other pessimistic disastrous eventuality) and took today’s deal.

Don’t laugh, it’s a hair-removal treatment using some fancy-dancy-schmancy thing-a-ma-bob. hair
I’m not all that hairy, but if I can be rid of the tufts of unwanted hair forever…all at an 80% discount, I’ll be a Groupon addict from here on in.

I’m afraid to consider the alternative.

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Keeping tradtions: Taking the student

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

We were invited to our neighbors’ house for a party. Their daughter “took the student”. That’s a literal translation of the Swedish way to express the formal event of graduating from high school (I’ve never quite figured out the closest equivalent in the UK, so sorry, can’t offer a British term).

While American highschoolers march solemnly in caps and gowns to receive their diploma, shake someone’s hand and gloat jubilantly that they made it; Swedes just “run out” utspring Well, so I’ve heard. I’ve been invited to two (including today’s for the neighbor daughter) but haven’t witnessed on myself yet.

Contrary to the gown idea, there’s no formal wear for graduates. Their outfits are made up of something nice to wear and though certainly their student caps. I like those caps but I can’t help but expect to hear the Popeye the Sailor man theme. Regardless, they seem a whole lot slicker than the funny cardboard platform we wear
graduation cap

Had I been among the masses of family and friends watching the “out run” I would have seen the numerous plaques with giant photos of the graduate as a baby. The cuter the better apparently. Though it kind of looks more like a happy protest sign.

The best thing going for the Swedish students, at least around Stockholm is the parade ride through the city center.
They get to choral into large containers on the back of heavy trucks and jump and sing and spray near-non-alcoholic beer on people (and themselves) while these trucks create traffic backup to the displeasure and dismay of those who work and move around central Stockholm this time of year. Swedes are very safety conscious most of the time. That need for safety does a big scadaddle with these float/parades.

I know they’re a nuisance in downtown Stockholm but I am charmed by the suspension of the strict adherence to all rules (as is rather Swedish) to let newly graduated teens shake their groove thing.

It does go to show that Swedes are indeed known to bend a rule now and again. Good for them.

And congratulations Ida.

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