Friday, November 10, 2006

My Swedish Fix

Half the furniture in my house comes from IKEA. I love the look of Swedish country pine furniture, even if it doesn't come from Sweden any more, and I like the clever gadgets they come up with. I first shopped in an IKEA south of Stockholm, when I was subletting a sparse one room flat in the city. I bought some kitchen things and, of course, a bookshelf, because I can't live anywhere very long without accumulating books. I gave those things away, including some of the books, when I moved back to the states the following summer, but I was hooked on IKEA. My sister kept sending me the yearly catalogs, which I savored and sniffed (this sounds really weird, but I swear the inks used in catalogs in Sweden smell different.)

When I moved to the Seattle area, I made a couple of trips to Richmond, B.C, specially to shop at the IKEA there. The first time, I needed some bookcases (again!) and borrowed my brother's Volvo wagon to drive up there on a Sunday morning. I got there when they opened, shopped around the store, ate in the restaurant, and bought two Billy bookcases and assorted other things. The boxes were put on a cart at the checkout, and I wheeled it out to the car. Then, the problem: how to get those long, awkward, heavy boxes off the cart and into the car. I struggled for quite awhile by myself, but just couldn't manage it. I noticed that a young couple seemed to be waiting for my parking space, as the lot was full by then. So I went over to them, and asked the guy, do you want to park here? He said yes. Well, I said, if you help me get these boxes in my car, then I can leave and you can have it. He looked pretty shocked that I was asking a stranger for help, but he did it. When I got home, I figured how to get them inside by opening the boxes in the car and moving it piece by piece.

So when they opened a store south of Seattle 10+ years ago, I was thrilled. Much closer, and no border (and customs) crossings to worry about. I went yesterday to get a kitchen drawer unit to use as a cutting table in my sewing room, and to look at the Christmas decorations. I like how they decorate the little room mockups for the holidays. I also got some Druvan Swedish mustard as I'm running low. (Never tried that brand, hope it's as good as Slotts). Now they have people to help load heavy boxes in your car, so you don't have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

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