Items We Miss

Sometimes when you’re in a new place you realize that some things you’ve enjoyed, possibly taken for granted, simply are not easily available. Thus Marie and I have missed a few items: nothing profound or even terribly consequential. There is much to like in Sweden, but there are items missed, none-the-less.

Marie really misses not having a garbage disposal and not being able to buy Swiffer sheets.

Swiffer Sheets

Garbage disposals are available but they are not ubiquitous like they are in middle class US homes. Our apartment in Sweden did not come with a garbage disposal — it was built in 1902 — and it would be pricey to install.

Swiffer sheets is one of those irritants for Marie. She has always been committed to dusting. Dust bugs her. And in Ferndale, WA, USA, she settled on Swiffer sheets as the best tool for the job. We actually did find Swiffer sheets once, at an army surplus store about 200 yards from our apartment. But the store was open one day a week and it closed soon after we explored it. I am looking at the building now out my study window. We know there are Swiffer sheets in there, but we can’t get to them.

Something we both miss is sterno for the fondue pot. Who would have thought you can’t buy sterno in Sweden? A highly flammable pink liquid called Rödsprit seems in favor here. The problem is it produces a lot of soot which is a mess to clean. A manufacturer of high-end fondue pots in France will sell sterno mail-order, but that seems a bit much.

Thick steaks for the grill also take some work to find in that the cuts of beef are different here. Forget finding T-bones or Porterhouse cuts, and I don’t think I’ve seen a New York cut since I’ve been here. You can find a Ribeye (but not bone-in Ribeye) or Fillet Mignon but you have to cut them yourselves if you want something thick enough for a grill.

And since our building is not wired for premium TV channels, and Marie and I have relegated figuring all that out to be a lower priority, forget the US sports I came to closely follow. Things like college football, the NFL playoffs, college basketball and especially the NCAA playoffs. And then there is Indy Racing and, to a lesser extent, NASCAR. So no college bowl games, no Super bowl, no Final Four, and no Indianapolis 500.

But then there is plenty of hockey, alpine skiing, soccer, team handball, and a few other sports nearly as inspiring (NOT!) as major-league baseball and professional basketball. I would almost be thrilled with a good college lacrosse match.

But to reiterate from the top, there is a lot to like about Sweden, but there are some items to be missed.