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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Buckminster & Amber - 42

A number of you kool kats have been asking how I managed to pull off the old ‘Kat in a Drawer’ trick. I have decided to let the existing members of my fan club (Foxie Amber & Gucci) in on the secret, but with a warning. Do not try this at home!

First of all, your house has to have a bathroom cabinet with self closing doors and a open space below. The trick is to crawl underneath, then climb up the back side of the cabinet and into the drawer from the rear. Even an experienced feline like myself might have some trouble getting back out on their own, but our house woman always opens the drawers to get stuff before she goes to bed.

So now you know. It was lots of fun listening to the servants freak out when the could not find me, and when they did they were so happy I got a few extra snacks.

Photo below is a shot of Amber trying to figure out how I did it. She still owes me 2 sardines for her fan club membership, but I am letting her stay in on a probationary basis.

For those kool kitties who have expressed interest in joining my club, the admission price it 2 sardines.
Mail to:
The Buckster Fan Club, C/O general delivery, Borlänge, Sweden. [Humans are not allowed]

Since this is my first newsletter I have decided to give free membership to my new Kansas friends: Shy, Abby and Gracy.
Welcome to the club!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Observing Sweden - 27 April 2013

Bored  bemused in Borlänge

This is our eighth week in Borlänge, Sweden. Still no furniture. Our ship has been delayed at the Panama Canal we are told. I’m getting calluses on my bum from living on lawn chairs. The shipping agent in Stockholm told us delivery would be last week of April. Agent in America says sometime in May. All my tools are on the boat, so not much I can do here - shelves, etcetera, for when things when they arrive - hopefully while I’m still young.

Speaking of young . . . I had a birthday party the other night - my 75th (where do the years go?). A few of my wife’s family came over. There was beer, wine, whiskey gin and cake - mostly cake, but I managed to get a nice buzz and felt like a young man who simply had something wrong him. The guests left and we were about to turn in when the wife noticed Bucky was gone.

We looked everywhere, moving rapidly from mild curiosity to total panic. He could not be found and there are no places to hide in this empty house! Lou was in a state of total panic. I wondered if I had left a door open . . . or if one of our guests . . . . It was still light enough to see outside at 9:30. I went out to look around the house and yard; Bucky escaped a couple times in Seattle but always stayed close to home.

We couldn’t find him. It was impossible for him to escape. I’d kept a close watch on the doors as people came and left even though slightly drunk. We searched the house again, looked everywhere - no Bucky. It seemed like Amber was looking too, or maybe she was just following us around. Who knows what cats think.

We gave up and began to prepare for bed with heavy hearts. Wife went into her bathroom to do whatever she does before retiring. I was already in the sack when I heard a shriek.
“Willie! He’s in here!”
How could that be? We’d checked the bathroom a dozen times, There was no place for him to go, just some empty shelves.
“I opened the drawer and there he was,” she told me. “And the drawers were closed! They’re always closed!
“How could he open a drawer and close it behind him? There’s no way. Impossible!

But there he was. I took a couple aspirins expecting a minor hangover in the morning and drifted off into a dreamless and greatly relieved sleep. How in the hell did he do that???

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Buckminster & Amber - 41

He's Gone!

I can’t believe it. I can’t understand how he escaped. Certainly not in this bag. But I’ve looked everywhere. I can smell him everywhere. But he is nowhere to be found. It just can’t be. How could he leave me! How did he leave me? There were some humans here yesterday, friends of the servants . . . a lot of commotion. I spent most of my time in the closet, and when I came out - no Bucks.

Maybe someone left the door open, but the servants are always careful about that. I just don’t get it. There's no way. Was I the catalyst for this catastrophic catastrophe? I doubt it. Still . . . I'm so alone.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Observing Sweden - 24 April 2013

The days grow longer here
As nights will follow
Reddish glow
Through spiderwork of leafless trees
Longing for still more
Sunlit hours

Midsummer’s warmth.

Monday, April 22, 2013

On Leaving America - 23 April 2013

In my hometown

Well, actually Federal Way is not my home town, but after leaving San Francisco (also not my home town,) I lived in Federal Way for some twenty-four years. Federal Way does not have the best of reputations, though there are some very nice, and very expensive areas with beautiful homes. Driving through the main thoroughfare is like crosstown traffic through a series of strip malls, large and small businesses along Pacific Highway: filling stations, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble, 3 star motels, hardware stores, and Macy’s. Auto repair shops, tire sales, pawnshops and mattress dealers that have displayed ‘going out of business’ sales for the last fifteen years.

Pac Highway runs parallel to an Interstate, I-5, that passes through Oregon and loses itself at the Mexican border, south of Los Angeles. A police car is always parked outside the local high school - for good reason. Shit happens in Federal Way. The town council makes a nonstop effort to renew it’s image.

Gun-play is not uncommon, every month or so . . . a drive-by, gang things, marital problems. Yesterday the incident posted below was on the Internet.

A gun battle near Seattle led to the shooting deaths of five individuals on Sunday night, according to local authorities. One of the victims was killed by police when he threatened officers responding to the violent scene.
The shooting occurred at Pinewood Apartments in Federal Way, located roughly 20 miles south of Seattle. Police received reports of gunfire at approximately 9:30 pm and arrived at the complex as shots were still being fired.

Pinewood Apartments are less than a kilometer from the quiet suburban neighborhood where we lived before the move to Sweden. It will be the subject of conversation there for a few days, then forgotten, a less than major event. This is a part of America and interesting to observe and think about from this distant point of view.

I love guns, always have. I grew up with guns. I hunted and did target shooting for fun. I could knock a tossed half dollar out of the sky when I was seventeen. I loved the mechanical aspect of weapons, their ingenious designs . . . aesthetics of pure function; the smell of gun oil and cordite - so American.

The right to bear arms is a massive right, an unusual and incredible freedom born out of a time when guns made life possible. Now they seem more disposed to the ending of same. I’ve had arguments about this here in Sweden and come to realize what an incredible freedom that really is, and realized a previously unfelt feelings for the ‘wild west’ nature of America, a wildness and freedom I confess to loving . . . and missing in this nation of prohibitions and laws - which make sense. I admit they make sense.

Americans will be arguing about gun laws long after I am gone from this planet. I can not imagine a solution. Thirty million guns, how will they take all those away? Those with the power to do so would seem to me as fearsome as the weapons themselves.

Those of you who follow my ramblings will remember my sadness in giving up weapons I hadn’t used in over twenty years, in order to make this move to Sweden. I still miss having them. If only we could outlaw madness, and hatred, and revenge. We live in difficult times, with no clear leaders and the greatest crimes, the ones that kill the most of us, remain unseen, like water moving under frozen rivers.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Observing Sweden - 20 April 2013


They seem surprisingly pro Amercian here, an almost admiration. I’ve seen U.S. flags on cell phone covers, Levi jackets (which cost twice as much here) pillows . . . even shoes.
Almost everyone speaks English and often German as well. These skills are learned in grade school.I worry about my ability to speak Swedish, but my son in law has taught me the most important swear words. They seem the easiest to pronounce.

More on moose lights:
I was looking at one of the many cars with moose lights which always stick out further than the bumpers. I asked a friend how in the world the kept from being broken when

parallel parking.

There is no parallel parking in Sweden, I was told. 
Seems like a good idea.

The Weather:

Snow here has totally disappeared. Days have been sunny since our arrival. Last week all our neighbors were removing their studded tires. Tires must be switched on a certain day, both spring and winter. Failure to do so results in a huge fine. They are big on huge fines here.

My son in law just got a 4000 kroner speeding ticket- a little over $600. His first speeding ticket ever; he is forty. There is no recourse, no traffic court or driving school options. I worry about driving here. Lots of funny laws and speed limits are weird. 40 MPH on most four lane highways. 50 on freeways. On rare sections of road 60 MPH is permitted.
Enormous roundabouts are everywhere and eliminate the need for traffic lights, but you have to think fast both entering and exiting. I am not good at thinking fast.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Buckminster & Amber - 40

“I’ve got something to tell you, Amber.”


“I’ve decided to go to France. We have ancestors there.”

“You’re tripping, Bucks. That was lifetimes ago. Where do you think they might be now?”

“In the catacombs of course. It’s a sentimental journey.”

“Right. And I suppose you think Foxie will be going with you.”

“So! It’s you who’s been hacking into my e-mail!”

“It was sort of accidental. I was ordering a book from Amazon Kindle and --”

“A book? What book?”

An Unhappy Medium. It’s really good. Takes place in Brazil and has a happy ending, well, sort of a happy ending - depends on what character you’re into. It was written by Bruce Louis Dodson, a famous literary genius. It only cost ninety nine cents. The servants will never notice it on their bill.”

“May I be so naive as ask what that has to do with my e-mail?”
“You must have left a page open or something. After ordering the book I was trying to get to the Big Cat site on the Internet and it just popped up.”

“Do you expect me to believe that?”
“Whatever. What I can’t believe is this Foxie thing. How old is she?”

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Buckminster & Amber - 39

Memo from Bucks:
I have my game plan now. The house-woman’s purse is big enough to hold a raccoon and five gerbils. I’ll remove most of the contents, get inside and wait for her to leave the house - maybe take a nice snooze inside the thing. No worse than the closet with all those damn shoes. Worse case scenario is she might dump some of her makeup stuff on top of me.

I’ve been taking it easy today, chilling out on the dog- breath chair. Amber’s been keeping me company. I’ll miss her when I leave. It’s quiet today. Servants are gone again, no one around to bother us.

I’m starting to worry about internet hackers. I have this paranoia that someone is getting into my e-mail, and as you may or may not know, paranoia is a heightened state of awareness. I’ve been trying to get into PayPal so I can by some anti-snooping software but can’t find the password. Doesn’t really matter.

I’ll be out of here before long. Not sure where I will go yet. Yesterday I found a map of Gothenburg, a Swedish seaport. I could sign on to a ship as a professional ratter and disembark at Paris maybe. Sometimes I have dreams of Paris, from another incarnation - number three of my nine lives. Amber was there too. Her name was Lulu then. I don't like leaving her behind,but she's happy here and has even learned a few Swedish words. Sometimes you just have to suck it up.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Observing Sweden - 9 April

This was a very good day. We got our car! I was so worried. I mean, they took away my guns, and then my knives (pocket knives illegal here - huge fine) and me with no car. For an American this is about as bad as it gets.

Yesterday we took three trains to get to Gothenburg. The transfers were surprisingly easy, just got off one train, walked across the platform (12 yards) then a 10 minute wait. Wife had our tickets on her cellphone. Conductors just look at the code number. Technology far beyond my 75 year old brain. She used same cellphone take some photos of the small town 
stations on the way.

Trip took 5 hours. We arrived around midnight and it was seriously cold, first time I’ve been that cold since arriving in Sweden. 

Next day the fun began. First stop was the customs office which was far from our hotel - three bus rides or a cab, We took the cab - eighty bucks. Lou had a stack of papers two inches thick: titles, shipping documents, various declarations, mileage, bills of sale, previous owners, my passport, permanent resident card, my birth certificate, marriage license, her birth certificate, American driver's license and paper saying her Swedish driver’s licence was in the mail.

She must have signed and filled out a dozen documents. I just watched in a clueless state of anxiety, understanding little of what was being said and waiting to find if we were missing some obscure document. In between time wondering if our Volvo had survived the trip. Sounds weird, shipping a Volvo to Sweden, but cars are much more expensive here, Everything is much more expensive here!

Forty minutes later it was over. We had passed customs! Now another cab to the port of arrival. Gothenburg is the biggest seaport in Sweden. Then more documents, but not as many this time, and we were given permission to wait for someone to take us inside; only one of us was allowed to go and Lou seemed the obvious choice since she speaks the language. I waited at the gate with exit 

papers. Would the car start after spending a month in a container? After a stressful thirty minutes Lou appeared smiling in our undamaged and fully operational car. It was over - Not!

For some reason they made me take the license plates off before shipping in Seattle. I never thought to pack ‘em. It’s illegal to drive here without plates even though we had the completed paperwork from customs. It is also illegal to drive without insurance. We could not get insurance because the car had not arrived in Sweden when we left to pick it up. 

We drove home on back roads, seven hours and over 300 miles with our hearts in our mouths. Believe it or not we did not see a single police car! Thank God! We saw lots of moose warning signs, but no moose.
We made it home without incident. It felt wonderful to drive again - first time since we left, but we don’t dare to drive again until we fill out more papers, register the car and get plates.

Now we are waiting for furniture to arrive.

Buckminster & Amber - 38

The servants have been away all day. No idea where they went. They left us a cheap bowl of dry food next to the water fountain and took off to God knows where - or why. But when the servant’s away the cats can play . . . on the laptop.

So where was I? Bucks. Well, as you can see from the photo he’s been making plans, though how he thinks he can get away with that bag is beyond me, and him. Like I told you before he’s not exactly a rocket scientist.

But there’s more to the story. He’s been emailing some sex kitten called Foxie. I have no idea who she is  or where she lives, but with a name like Foxie . . . I mean, really. I intend to keep reading his mail which isn’t difficult. Guess what his password is - The Buckster. Took me almost two minutes to figure that one out.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Buckminster & Amber -37

There’s something that’s been on my mind all week and after considerable thought I think I need to share it with you, but you’d better sit down. I mean like, this isn’t good. Valerie has already expressed some concern about this and I’m sure some of my other followers are worried as well. It’s about Bucks, of course, and our time here in these Swedish house, which is a bit spacey I must admit.

But its not that bad. We had some excellent salmon for dinner last night and it’s nice not to hear those damn airplanes flying over the house night and day. We lived directly under the SeaTac Airport flight path in Seattle. I enjoy the peace and quiet but Bucks seems to be more depressed every day.

Why don’t you start learning Swedish, I tell him. “I don’t do Swedish,” he answers. The truth is he hasn’t been doing much of anything . . . just mopes around and complains. He threatens to run away again, like he did in when we lived in the States. He was lucky to get back in one piece after that encounter with the killer coyote. (Buckminster & Amber - 18) Boots saved his tail that time, but there’s no Boot’s here.

Oh, here he comes, and I can see he’s in another one of his bad moods. I’d better stop for now.

More later,


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Observing Sweden - 6 April 2013

Name day

Each day has a persons’s name attached to it. Actrually two or three names now; the keep adding.Today’s names are Vilhelm and William. There is no Bruce day. What about Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Lee, Bruce Wayne, and Robert the Bruce? A sad omission. People send e-mails to friends celebrating their name days.

Cell phones.

250,000 Swedes do not have cell phones. They are all dead. All living Swedes have at least one and call someone every ten or fifteen minutes-at restaurants, at home, at the bank, in the car . . . wherever. Unending conversations with each other. Swedes are very big on communication. There are more cellphones per meter here than any other place on earth.


After giving up my beloved guns I thought I was now a law abiding alien. Yesterday at a department store a clerk was trying to unwrap a battery charger I wanted to look at. “I need a knife,” he said. He came back with a tiny thing the size of a nail clipper. “That’s not a knife. This is a knife,” I told him in a Crocodile Dundee impersonation. He freaked out when I opened my pocket knife. “Those are illegal here!” he told me. It’s not a big knife, just an average pocket knife. Shall I remain defenseless or risk jail?

Moose Lights

Many cars here have a pair or trio of huge spotlights that cast a glare equal to that of a landing passenger aircraft. These are to enable night time out of town drivers to spot a moose that has decided to cross the road. A dozen or more drivers are killed each year by running into a moose.
Once a year there it's moose hunting season here. Driver’s revenge!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Buckminster & Amber 36

“See Bucks, I told you we’d be getting furniture eventually . . . and this nice rug besides.”
“Big deal. It’s just one bloody chair, and used at that. It smells like dog breath.”
“I don’t think so. Smells okay to me, Bucks. You have such a negative attitude.”
“Yeah, right. You ever try to hide behind a single chair? We’re spending most of our lives inside the closet. Your cousin Marvin will be out of the closet before we are.”
“Leave Marvin out of this. He’s doing quite well as a designer at Fancy Felines in Chicago. You should get a job.”
“I’m very happily retired. I spent years as leader of the Rat Patrol in Scotland before my family immigrated to America. My ancestors were very well to do and famous for inventing the catapult, though history books seldom mention it.”
“Your ancestors invented the nap, more likely. And I notice you’ve been sleeping on the chair.”
“It matches my coat - a bit of camouflage.”
“I’ll bet you couldn’t find me if I wanted to hide, Bucks. I’ve found a new place, but I’m not telling you where it is.”

Monday, April 1, 2013

Observing Sweden - Week 3 - B

This house is in itself a mystery - high-tech with fire-wire internet.

There’s a UPS somewhere that turns lights on and off outside, and an underfloor heating system far beyond my comprehension.

Light switches are arranged in clusters, hard to figure out what turns things on and off, the ceiling’s full of little spotlight LEDs, each with a dimmer.
Six switches in this cluster, after three weeks I'm still unsure which one does what. A guessing game each night.

The refrigerator light does not come on when door’s first open, waits to see if one is really looking for something, maybe thirty-five or forty seconds, then illuminates . . . environmental friendly.

Other things I took for granted in the States are missing. This refrig does not make ice - first ice cube trays I've seen in years. There is no garbage grinder in the sink. Both things are missing for environmental reasons I suspect. Cat litter must be taken to the city dump a couple miles from where we live.

The dump itself is and environmental masterpiece, and free. There is no charge for getting rid of stuff. There are separate containers for paper, plastic, metal . . . old TVs. Still more bins wait for motor oil, old tires, cloth things and wood.

The wood is ground up and made into pellets for fireplaces. Plastic is recycled and somehow they make money from stuff they get out of the old televisions. Other Scandinavian countries send their trash to Sweden and pay for the service.

A watchtower that reminds me of a U.S. prison keeps an eye on things. Two guys in uniforms below make sure the rules are followed. Impressive.

Even Burger King’s environmentally correct. 

Three choices for disposal: Compost, Combustible and Drinks.