Aquatically Challenged

Not me.

Our house.

Our house in Sweden is on a well.

While it is quite within the realm of possibility that the wells of houses on the archipelago have a momentary lapse and go “dry” during the (hopefully) sunny, dry days, our well’s “lapse” seems to be more of a relapse to its former, well-less, rustic state.

This did not sit well with our renters who – imagine this – actually expected a consistent flow of water throughout the house.

(Although, I have to hand it to them, they really stuck it out, trying to conserve as much of the trickling water as possible…no easy feat for a couple with baby, toddler and young child.)

(Granted, with teenagers, it would be worse.)

Despite their patience and being incredibly nice about the multiple running-out-of-water-during-a-shower incidents, we had to amicably part ways. After all, this isn’t Little House on the Archipelago. People do expect electricity and running water as part of their rental contract.

(And the Baltic Sea is no place to bathe anytime after September if you are not a seal.)

(Actually, I would argue no bathing past August, but having witnessed the ability of Swedes to frolic in icy waters, I will give some leeway here.)

So, here I am, in Sweden. Meeting with well people  – as well as handyman (ah, the joys of property ownership) – to figure out our well’s prognosis and if its problem is curable or incurable.

The good news is that our house is going to be hooked up to the city water system.

The bad news is that it’s, oh, about 3-5 years out.

In the meantime, I am enjoying long, hot showers at our local gym. Very nice to not have to worry about running out of water when your head is full of bubbles.

(That has happened to me before. Despite his denying it, I still believe that the bottle of water my son gave me to rinse my hair came from the refrigerator.)

Of course, there was just the tiniest of incidents this morning when I couldn’t get the lock to open on my locker at the gym…

Now, in this gym, you have to bring your own lock from home. Which I did. I paid my entry fee, went to the locker room, locked up my shower items and worked out. After I had exercised, I returned to the gym, opened my locker, took out my shower things, and then locked up the locker again. Shower done, I headed back to my locker, put in the key, and…nothing.

The key refused to budge. I turned right, left, and exerted so much pressure I thought the key would break in the lock. Nothing doing, the key wouldn’t turn. The lock had looked fine – a nice, shiny gold – but maybe it was corroded inside.

My thoughts went to my house keys, car keys, passport, etc. that was in the locker. It went to the appointments I had lined up with well people and handyman, my sole purpose of coming to Sweden. Surely the gym had a solution for this. After all, I couldn’t be the only customer with a feckless lock. Fortunately, my change of clothes were on the right side of the locker, meaning on my side. I changed and went to find help.*

The woman at the front desk asked me if I was sure I had the right locker. Given that there were only 5 people in the gym, 3 of those being women, and only one other who seemed to be using a locker, I think she warranted the look of disdain I gave her. I then followed up with a vigorous nod of my head, a curt “Of course!” and for good measure added a second aren’t-you-a-tad-bit-ditzy-after-all-you-do-have-a-large-mane-of-flaxen-hair  look.

She followed me into the locker room and tried to open the lock. No luck.

And then she said the words that strikes fear into the heart of someone who has just sent a true blonde a aren’t-you-a-tad-bit-ditzy-after-all-you-do-have-a-large-mane-of-flaxen-hair look.

“The key isn’t the same make as the lock.”

And then she turned her blonde-maned head to the right, went to the other shiny, gold lock that was just three lockers down, and…

Well, you can guess the rest.

(Including who was the recipient of the are-you-mentally-challenged look.)

Yes, that was fun. It’ll be even more fun when I return tomorrow.

Water and lock issues aside, I am enjoying my rustic reprieve. As wonderful as Sweden is in the summer, it is not at all lacking in charm during the colder months, even November (which I would argue that, along with February, is one of the least attractive months in the northern hemisphere).

So, here in Stockholm in early November, when the clock strikes 4pm, darkness descends. But before it does, without fail, lamps and candles light up the windows. Already, Christmas lights are merrily strung on the outside of homes and businesses.

The darkness may come, but cheeriness prevails.

Very cozy.

And a very good reason to sit inside and do nothing.

Which is exactly what I am going to do after I finish this blog.

* Can you imagine how embarrassing – or additionally embarrassing – it would have been to have gone out to the reception area in a towel ON TOP OF being wrong about the locker? Guess the alternative would be to start acting like a seal.


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