Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Corn Maze, Pumkins and Ghosts. It’s October in America!

Halloween in Sweden is nothing.  Some kids get dressed up (in costumes they probably wore as Easter witches*), pumpkins make an appearance in a few grocery stores, and that’s about it.

Halloween in America is epic by comparison.  Anders is experiencing his first Halloween season here and so far, it’s been pretty amazing.  Last Saturday, I had a rare day off, so we decided to pack it full of Halloween activities!

We started off by heading up to Dawsonville to visit Uncle Shucks’ Corn Maze.  Now if there was a contest for a city with the most rednecks in Georgia, Dawsonville would definitely be at the top of that list. Any pictures we might have taken would have been totally ruined by the plethora of ripped overalls, dusty shaggy beards and beer bellies.  This would just have to be an undocumented trip.

After looking at Uncle Shucks online, we were very excited about it.  We were going to hold hands and race through the maze, never knowing what’s around the next corner or how we could get out…very romantic and exciting in our minds.  Our corn maze adventure also came on the heels of the story about the family in Massachusetts that got lost in a corn maze and called 911 and had a K-9 unit come get them.  We could only hope helicopters would also be involved in our experience.

So we got there and it was unseasonably warm, so there goes the true fall feeling right there.  Not very Halloween-y when you’re wearing a t-shirt and wishing you had on shorts.  Corn mazes aren’t supposed to make you sweat, damnit.  In reality, going through a corn maze was neither romantic nor exciting.  It was mentally exhausting and boring at the same time.  Tedious.  You get a map of the maze, but because there are no right turns, only curves, so any sense of direction we had went right out the window.  Which meant we had our eyes glued to the map the whole time trying to keep track of where we were in the map and what our next move would be.  There were checkpoints to keep track of your progress, so everyone was going the same way at the same time.  We decided to take advantage of this and just follow the people in front of us so we wouldn’t have to look at the map and could just enjoy a little walk.  Holding hands- check. 

Of course this little strategy backfired on us.  We lost the family we were following around a long curve, so there we were, stuck. The map was useless because we didn’t know where we were!  Visions of helicopters and 911 calls danced in my head, but Anders just charged on ahead looking for some kind of landmark.  In a field of corn.  With no end in sight. I wasn’t happy with this decision, but it was either stick together or fall apart.  So we stuck together and came across a bridge, which was marked on the map- a landmark!  We found our way out and called it quits for the maze.  On to the pumpkin patch!

It’s a medium sized pumpkin patch with pumpkins ranging from itty bitty to gigantic.  There are signs everywhere telling you not to kick the pumpkins, which I scoffed at- who would want to kick a pumpkin? Idiots. I had a little mini tirade about how stupid it would be to kick a pumpkin; there was no need for it, etc etc. Well, as we were walking around looking for a pumpkin with “character,” (it’s ok if you’re confused by this, Anders was too) I was trying to describe exactly what I wanted to Anders.  I found an example of a perfectly round pumpkin, which was NOT what I wanted and so I said, “Not like this one.” And then I proceeded to kick it without thinking.  Apparently the idiots who kick pumpkins are just like me.  My bad. 
We finally found a pumpkin with sufficient character and took it home. 

After a family “discussion” (ie, fight) about what to carve on it, we came to the decision to carve a cat, arching its back and a crescent moon.   I took the carving responsibility, since Anders had never done it before.  Also I really wanted to do it.  As we scooped out the innards, I gave Anders the responsibility of picking out the seeds for roasting.  His response, “Aw man, that’s gross!”  But he did it and he did it well.  It’s one in a long line of rites of passage that he’s going through in America.  Poor guy is definitely getting tired of hearing “Welcome to America!” any time anything happens.  Ever.

We printed out a template, I drew it on the pumpkin and started carving. It turned out pretty well, except for the fact that I got a little overzealous with the knife and the cat had to be supported by a few toothpicks…  But once the candle was in and it was out on the porch, it was lovely!  Of course, by the time I’m writing this, the cat part of the pumpkin has curled up from the candle heat and now looks like a ragged squirrel.  Pumpkin went in the trash.  Still a week left till Halloween.  Looks like another pumpkin carving is in order!

And just when Anders has almost OD’d on Halloween, we head to historic Decatur for a ghost walk!  I am pumped up about this- I want creepy voices and almost sightings and chills on my spine!  I also want to be home by 10.  It starts at 8, so I didn’t think that was too unreasonable of an expectation.  I am wrong on all counts.

The lady who led the tour is a “professional psychic and medium,” and she is incredibly matter of fact about ghosts.  No scary voices for her, just a very blunt and direct “There is a ghost standing right next to me.”   And then she uses her flashlight to point this spirit out.  Now I don’t know about you, but the ghostly feeling is pretty much completely dispelled by shining a bright flashlight directly at a spot.  I wanted shadows and spooks, and I got a floodlight and straightforward practicality.  The tour also took two and half hours.  I never got chills or scared until the last half hour or so when we went into the cemetery.  Now I don’t care how forthright or direct you are, cemeteries are scary.  She also brought out divining wands.  You know, those things you are supposed to use to find water?  Well, she used them kind of like a Ouija board, asking them questions like, “Is the ghost standing next to me a young man?” and “Are you scared to be here?”  This kind of silliness almost ruined my determination to be scared.  But Anders and I kind of stayed on the edge of the group, making the most of the little chills we were getting.

We got home around 11:30 and we were too tired to even try and scare ourselves into some decent nightmares.
So much for scaring the crap out of Anders to show him how Halloween is supposed to be.

Hopefully this weekend will be better- costumes are involved and we’re going to ride around Atlanta looking at the ridiculous decorations people have.  Wish me luck!

*In Sweden, little kids dress up as witches (usually cute, friendly witches) and give out candy for Easter.  It has something to do with the pagan holiday and scaring off evil spirits... I'm not sure, but it weirded me out the first time it happened when I was alone at home and two kids from the building dressed up in costume knocked on my door and then gave me candy.   Might be a little how Anders is feeling right now...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Birdwhistles, brown people and moonshine: The Country Fair!

We went to the Cumming Country Fair last night.  And while it was exciting and fun for me, it was EXCITING and FUN for Anders.  The last time I went to the fair, I was a teenager, and that means I was focused on the rides, how to keep my cute shoes from getting muddy and how to look cool while eating funnel cake.  This time I was a little more observant.  This could be because now there's lots of pavement so I didn't have to worry about keep my cute shoes from getting muddy.

We went on the night that Children's Healthcare of Atlanta paid the entry fee, so it was totally packed.  Not surprising, who doesn't want to go to a free fair?!  We knew it would be busy, but my parents had a different warning.  One which dismayed me and made Anders laugh with anticipation: "It's free tonight, so it will be overrun by rednecks.  Take your camera."    Turns out the rednecks weren't the majority demographic.  The Latino population of Cumming apparently got together and said "FIESTA!"  It actually prompted a small discussion on the proper grammar of the phrase "brown people" in Swedish.  We don't have to be politically correct if no one else can understand us.

There was one mini scene which fulfilled our redneck expectations, though:  On our way out, we passed by the obligatory throw-a-baseball-at-some-bottles-and-win-a-prize booth, manned by two grizzled old men wearing overalls (not in an ironic way, or even like they were dressing up for the fair way).  One would occassionally bark out, "I need a ball player!" and then immediately drop his gaze to the floor to avoid making eye contact with anyone brave enough to step up to the game.  The other one was hanging over the railing, halfway into the path, not moving.  Anders thought he might have been sick or tired.  The subtle whiff of moonshine told a different story...

The fair was about three times bigger than it was when I was a kid, so there was tons of stuff to do and look at, but these were our favorites:

for me: the Petting Zoo with, wait for it..... A BABY DONKEY!  It was super cute and soft, and after I got to pet it and feed it, I could have left satisfied with the trip.

for Anders: the old timey steam engine exhibition.  Think of a little boy in a toy train shop.  Now supersize it.  He couldn't stop looking at them and muttering things like, "Dude! Look at the gears!" and "That must have made some noise..."

We also bought a present from the Indian Village for my 6 year old nephew: a piercing bird whistle.  His parents (my brother and sister in law) are going to hate us.  Sometimes it's good to live 5 hours away...

When I asked Anders what he thought of it all, he said "We have to do this again."

This weekend: corn maze and pumpkin patch!  I love Fall.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Anders googles in preparation for the Big Move to Georgia

I admit- I come home and go straight to the computer.  I like to check my email.  I like to check the news.  And I really like to check facebook.

And without exception, my husband does not close the tabs and windows he was using when he gets done.  He leaves them open all day, which means by the time I get home, there are 15 tabs and 3 windows open.  Clutter.  Ugh.  I usually just X them out willy nilly.  But the other day, something caught my eye.

Anders had clearly been preparing for the move to Georgia:
"Georgia Gun Laws in Plain English"

When asked why he was looking up Georgia gun laws, his response was, "Just in case."

I just walked away.

Anders meets my dad...

This is an older story, but it needs to be told.

Anders and I had been dating for a while, so we decided it was time for him to meet my parents.  With most couples, this entails some planning, mostly what they will have for dinner and what topics are off limits, etc etc.  With Anders and me, we had to plan a way for him to get to Budapest from Sweden, then for us both to get to America. All flying on standby.  Lufthansa had a strike this week, so there was no room for us on any Delta flight, so it took us a total of five days to get to America.  We tried to leave from Budapest two days in a row and finally had to take a discount flight to Eindhoven, then a train from there to Amsterdam where we got stuck for three days.  On the third day, we finally got on a flight and were winging our way across the Atlantic.

The stress of never knowing if you are going to get on the flight was combined with the fact that I hadn't seen my family in over six months and my boyfriend was meeting them for the first time.  I was a hot mess by the time we took off.  Now my mom wasn't going to be a problem.  She knows how to behave herself.  My dad on the other hand, has limited social skills and has no idea when to stop or when to filter his comments.  No tact whatsoever.  So for the three months before this visit, both my mom and I repeatedly told my dad to behave himself and gave him rules (ie, no racist jokes, no politics, etc etc) to follow.  We also decided that under no circumstance would Anders and my dad be left alone together.  Ever.

We landed in Atlanta, exhausted and relieved. We made it through customs and met my parents.  I gave my parents really big hugs and introduced them to Anders.  Now even though English is his second language, and we had just spent 5 very stressful days trying to get to Atlanta and had just spent 9 hours on a plane, Anders managed to be polite and sweet and warm.  My dad responds with a racist joke about Barack Obama.  Breaking the top two rules immediately.  We're off to a good start.

But to give credit where credit is due, Dad did behave himself for the next three days.  There were minimal awkward moments, which is always good.   So when my mom ran an errand and left the three of us sitting around watching TV, I figured it was safe to leave them alone while I went to put away some laundry.  I mean, they were sitting on opposite sides of the room and not talking.  I thought everything would be fine.


I put away the laundry and came back to the living room.  Which was now empty.  The TV is still on, but no one is watching it.  I went on a search- the office was empty, all three bedrooms were empty, the bathrooms were unoccupied and there was no one in the kitchen or dining room.  While I am left wondering where in the world they could be, I hear a gunshot on the back porch. 
Great.  I'm pretty sure my dad has shot my boyfriend for his Socialist ways (my dad refers to socialism as the gateway drug to communism) and now there's a dead body on the porch, leaving me with an international incident to clean up.  Thanks a lot Dad.

So I brace myself and open the door to the back porch.  And there they are, taking turns shooting guns from my dad's arsenal, and drinking Bourbon.
I quietly close the door and let the bonding continue.

I asked Anders how it happened.  I mean, I was gone for maybe 3 minutes before I came back and they were already gone!  Apparently, the second I left the room, this is what happened:

Dad: Hey, do you like guns?
Anders: Well, I'm in the military, so yeah, sure.
Dad: Do you like whiskey?
Anders: Yeah
Dad: Well then, let's go.

Next thing Anders knows, Dad has already poured 3 fingers of Wild Turkey into some glasses and is on his way to the back porch with at least 3 guns under his arm.

Lesson:  Things will happen, no matter how vigilant you are.  And sometimes the things that happen are fantastic.