Fall pictures

Mariette’s mother was saying that she could not remember a summer and fall with this crummy of weather since about 1960 when it rained every single day that summer. So, the weather here has been rather lousy, certainly not as nice as last fall when we had some absolutely gorgeous days. Still, that did not stop us from finding the beauty in what the day offered. Mariette took some beautiful fall pictures.


Because it has been windy recently, a lot of the leaves are already coming down. It feels like it will be an early winter. But, what do I know, having lived here all of a year!




My contribution was providing some comic relief by going for a dip in the sea. A woman told me the water temperature was 14 C., which is about 57 F. which I did not find too unpleasant. The waves were  another story.







What, me worry?






Okay, Uncle!

Speaking of uncles, Mariette’s uncle Enar is a purist and goes in the water the same way he came into the world, buck naked. Through the ice. In January. If he sees this post, he will pooh-pooh it because I am wearing trunks. If I ever reach his level, you may read about it here but you sure won’t see it.

Meanwhile, back on the home front, the others were chilling.


These two are quickly becoming the best of friends. One dog was great. Two is exponentially better.

Day 3 and something extra

Friday was rain and Saturday was the end of the world with the fire at the harbor. The fire was still going today and they can’t get close enough to fight it so they have basically decided to let it burn itself out. The weather was much better for the final day of the exhibition and there were many people jogging along the path and enjoying the day. Not many were interested in art today but that was perfectly fine with us.

Some neighbors came by for a look.

And a classmate from my Swedish class came by with her husband. She writes an excellent blog about her transition to Swedish life called Something Swedish that you might check out for a different perspective on life here in Halmstad.

A family that Mariette worked for came by with their kids and Mariette, unable to resist photographing kids, took some nice shots. Their interest in the paintings was more tactile than visual so Mariette took them and these outside.

We wrapped up and then got a tour of Walter Bengtsson’s workshop and the gallery where many of his works are on display. This was the high point of the day for me. His stuff is fantastic, clever, humorous, beautiful but above all, unique. I’ve never seen stuff like his anywhere.


Here is a screen shot I found of him. He was quite a character from everything I have heard and would have to be to create the art he did.

My first introduction was several years ago in the entrance to the TV tower in Stockholm.


The entire room is done up like this and it blew my mind. I later found out that there were works of his throughout Halmstad and that Mariette’s father knew him. Imagine that we now live less than a mile from where he created these gems.

One of his daughters gave us a tour after our exhibition closed and I got to take shots of some of the pieces, which speak for themselves.


When I say speak for themselves, I mean that literally. This piece, if you hit it just right plays a wail like a saxophone, Other pieces made similar sounds.















This is called, as you can imagine, Running Eye.



All in all it was a great weekend. We each sold one or more paintings and were invited back in the spring to do another show in the larger exhibition hall were many of Bengtsson’s works are currently. So, it is back to the easel. Gladly. I could get to enjoy this.

Day Two and more fun

Well, yesterday it rained dogs and cats. It hardly rained today. Instead, there was a huge fire down at the harbor. A tank containing toxic gases caught ablaze and firefighters could not get safely close enough to fight it. It was all over the national news. What’s that got to do with our exhibition? Not much except around noon there were alarms going off all over the city warning people to stay indoors, shut their windows and turn off any ventilating systems. Despite the dire warnings (we could see clouds of black smoke from the fire over the horizon) we had another fun day. Pelle’s family showed up with friends and Mariette’s aunts, uncles and cousins came from Falkenberg to the north.




Mariette’s parents wimped out yesterday (which Mariette rubbed in after Hedvig who is 84 biked out from further away and Mariette’s parents are only 81 and 82) but made it out today and had a great time.




This is Mariette’s cousin Elin.




Around 3:00 we went into fika mode in the cafe and Olle did an impromptu set on the piano.


Elin and her sister Britta and Britta’s sambo Paul. Very, very super nice people.


Fikaing away. The cafe is full of Walter Bengtsson’s work, more of which I will show tomorrow.



This Mariette’s uncle Evje. He can eat more than anyone I have known in my life and doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him. He could give Kobayashi a run for his money in a hot dog eating contest. He swims in the ocean half the year and works in the forest, mostly for the hell of it, I think, because he is old enough to be retired. His handshake can crush granite.


More viewing. This painting in particular is getting a lot of attention.


Two more paintings sold. All in all another fun day, mainly people visiting and catching up on the latest and enjoying the paintings.

In a completely disrelated bit of news, some time back a law was passed in Sweden saying that nightclubs needed a permit in order to allow dancing in the club. This is probably the most ridiculous law enacted since the income tax and staid Stockholmers made their displeasure felt today with a Dance Protest through the streets of Stockholm. Instead of marching they danced the whole way, carrying signs on the order of “Dance or Die.”

More to come tomorrow.

Day One

Today was the first day of our exhibition and the weather could not have been worse. It rained nearly the entire day and was windy particularly out by the ocean where we were exhibiting. That held down the attendance but still, it was a really good time. We couldn’t afford to leave Prada at home for 4 hours as the place would have been destroyed and floating in pee when we came home so we took her. Also, a couple of Mariette’s coworkers said they were coming, mainly to see Prada, not paintings. Oh well.

Here are the two other artists we were showing with. They are both musicians and songwriters and they just finished a song that will be playing on Sirius satellite radio on Nordic Rox (if it isn’t already). One of the people who lives in our neighborhood is Per Gessle who is half of the duo Roxette and Nordic Rox is his station. Anyway, here we are.

That is Claes on the left and Pelle on the right. They have been making music together for some time and Mariette and I met Claes by happenstance one day last year when we took Bianca to the dog beach. Claes (everyone calls him Clabbe) was there with his dog and we chatted a bit. It turns out that he is a very close friend of Mariette’s best friend in the world, Ackie, who stayed with us last summer with her son. Small world. Besides being musicians they both are painters and we decided to have the exhibition together.

Today is what is called the vernissage, or private showing before the opening of an exhibition. For us it was actually Day 1. Whatever. There was food and drink and snacks and despite the rain people came.

First to arrive (on her bicycle in the rain) was a dear friend of Mariette’s parents and a fine artist and her own right, Hedvig Malmström. She is quite a lady, will be 85 next month and you will be hearing more about Hedvig in the future. This is one remarkable lady. She came out for fika last Sunday and she and I went swimming in the sea. She loved it. (So did I.)

Here she is jawing with Pelle. Later, Pelle and Clabbe went outside for a smoke and Hedvig came out a bummed a cigarette from them and even though she doesn’t smoke she said she felt like a cigarette.

This very fine lady bought a painting, a collaboration between myself and a 4 year old friend from the U.S. when she visited here with her family this summer. She will be receiving a nice check next week for her half of the sale price.

The next door neighbors to Mariette’s parents. They bought a painting from me last summer. Their house is unbelievably tasteful on the inside with paintings everywhere. The painting I sold today is the second one below the self-portrait.

Someone had to keep an eye (and an arm) on Prada.

One of Mariette’s coworkers at their preschool and her husband.

Considering the weather, I would have to say it was a success. People had a good time which was the main idea. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to stink again but Mariette’s relatives are coming down from Falkenberg and they are always fun to see.

So far so good. Welcome to Fall.

Oops, almost forgot the most exciting  moment of the day.  Pelle’s girlfriend was driving us back to our place and a giant moose ran across the road right in front of us. Maria’s reaction time was good and she missed the damn thing by a few feet. This thing would have done some damage to her car for sure. It was big!


Hanging day

No, not that kind of hanging. That took place on highest point in Halmstad, called Galberget, which means gallows. Today, we were hanging paintings for our exhibition which begins tomorrow.
The gallery is located not far from where we live. A sculptor named Walter Bengtsson had his studio there and after he passed away his family maintained it and opened a cafe and exhibition hall to keep his legacy alive. They rent a separate hall for local artists to exhibit. Bengtsson had a fantastic imagination as you can see from one example of his work here.

Here is the studio/cafe/exhibition hall today.

The studio is located in a beautiful area on the coast that was a noted hangout for a group of artists known as the Halmstad Group in decades past. This shot gives you a reason why.

Here is the hall we are using.

Loading in the paintings. The woman is one of Bengtsson’s daughters.

Things set up, pretty much.

Some people who knew one of the other artists came by with some of their friends this afternoon for a sneak preview, as did two of my neighbors. If nothing else, it is going to be a fun weekend. If we sell anything that will be a bonus. Which I already collected on as our neighbors bought a painting this afternoon before the show even opens. Not everyone is impressed, however.

Can’t please everyone.

Looking for apples

This evening around dusk Bianca started barking, which we have learned means that someone is around the house. We did not notice any car or anyone in the yard and Mariette began telling her to quiet down. I have learned, however, that Bianca never barks without reason. Next thing we know our neighbor calls saying there is a moose in his yard eating apples off his tree.
Out we go and, sure enough, there is a horse sized moose, a female, chowing down on his apple tree.
Mariette went out with her camera, which did not perform well in the dim light, but she did manage to get a few shots.

That is our house in the background. The neighbor managed to chase her off (the moose, not Mariette) and she wandered down to our other neighbors’ yard to munch on their apple tree. We followed her down there and Mariette got a few better shots.

This is probably the same moose I saw a couple weeks ago on the golf course. Our neighbor saw her when she was out on the course this evening. She doesn’t look very large in this photo but is easily as tall as a horse.

A full grown male with antlers and all, drunk on fermented apples, would definitely a sight and something to give wide berth to, that’s for certain. I think hunting season opens next month so this one better get her fill and get the hell out of Dodge.

Kulturnatt (Culture Night)

Yesterday was Mariette’s father’s 81st birthday and we had a wonderful time. In Sweden if the event is honoring you, it is you who brings the cake. Well, Mariette’s dad probably never cooked anything but coffee in his life but her mom is a fabulous cook so we stuffed ourselves with pork chops, potatoes and grönsaker (literally, green things, i.e., vegetables). After a break from eating with a walk and a nap we had a spectacular cake and sang the traditional birthday song which is basically a wish that the birthday boy or girl will live to be 100.

Here we are watching Prada get familiar with Mariette’s old turtle.
On a wider note, yesterday was Culture Night in Halmstad. Events were all over town and started around noon. I was otherwise occupied and showed up in the evening. There were thousands of people out and about despite the wind and somewhat cool temperatures (well, not really for Sweden in September).
First stop was the big square where a really good band was wrapping up their set.

Next stop, the library, which has an art hall and I wanted to see the work of a young Halmstad artist. Pretty nice stuff, I think.

All girl band doing Dusty Springfield songs from the 60s. Hope they have day jobs.
Most galleries were open and there were people every place I went.
The police presence was . . . zero. I didn’t see a single cop or cop car. How can a people be so self policing?

The Nissan River looking towards the library. I haven’t done the research but I wonder if this was the Datsun River 35 years ago.

Next stop, the regional art museum. Inside there was a girl singing jazz.

Photo exhibition showing America. I wonder what Swedes think of these Christmas decorations?

Film about Strindberg, who died 100 years ago. They aren’t celebrating the year of his birth, but the year of his death. How Swedish! (The national anthem has a line about wanting to live and wanting to die in the North.)

Another park, another stage, another band.

It’s not all young performers either. Along one of the walking streets was this group of old guys.

Back to the big square. These guys were really good and did great jobs of covering Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone and Springsteen’s Born to Run.

Headed over to the theater where there was another art show as well as theater performances.

Outside in front of the theater there was what looked to be a cafe with some surreal stuff happening.

Like this giant lamp.

Or these projections in a wall of picture frames or against the side of a building.

Next, back to the library to fetch my bike and the cafe was still busy.

Another crowd listening to an orchestra playing Hello Dolly and show tunes.

A short distance away, on top of the city’s old ramparts was more my speed: a blues trio.
Finally, today Prada is 13 weeks old and Mariette somehow managed to catch her in between peeing and biting things. A remarkable end to a remarkable day.