Monday, May 24, 2010

Frightening Days and Other Stuff

Ralle is on the mend! Bosse too.  We say Thank You to all those who have "helped us worry" all of you who sent good wishes, kept your fingers crossed, held your thumbs, talked to the Higher Power and all such.  After being CAT scanned, tested for cerebral damage, had his spinal fluid tested, anesthetized several times, poked, prodded and generally "tortured" several days in a row, spending nights in hospitals in both Helsingborg and Goteborg, scaring his "parents" half to death, we seem to be back on an even keel.  The veterinarians and David or I have still not figured out what caused his condition, but with talk of lose bone fragments and disc fractures, things did not look good there for a while. Now we know what it is NOT.  Maybe Ralle took a tumble and pulled a muscle in his neck and pinched a nerve. Maybe that is all it was.  That would be good news.

Ralle as well as Bosse received absolutely excellent care, at three different hospitals!  Are we ever glad we have had these guys insured, something we never did in America.  Must say we had moments when we wished we had Eileen closer though.

Helsingborg celebrated its 925th birthday last week.

200 years ago crown prince Karl August fell off his horse in Kvidinge, possibly poisoned.  Napoleon was in full out war in Europe.  One of his generals, Jean Bernadotte was chosen to become the adopted son of then king Karl XIII.  One can wonder how different Swedish history would be if Karl August had not died that day.  Making room for Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, who would be given the name Karl XIV Johan.  He arrived in Helsingborg in October 200 years ago.  Sweden has  had seven generations of Bernadottes on the throne since then, crown princess Victoria will be the eighth.

Johan Wissman a Swedish sprinter is back on the track after a period of rest due to an injury.  He ran a 200 meter race and a 400 meter race this last week end with times of  21,20 and 46,64 respectively. Ryan, our grandson,  can do better than that!  Go Ryan Go!!

There was a fascinating article in The Huffington Post yesterday regarding vitamin D3.  Few of us have enough vitamin D in our systems tests show.  It is a vitamin we do not easily get from food as we would have to ingest tons of salmon, take gallons of cod liver oil etc.  Read the article here, get some D3 and feel better!!!

We have received an Ordination Invitation to the Sacred Order of Deacons at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral by the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real.  Our friend Stephenie Rose is being ordained in early June.  Congratulations to her!  It should be a beautiful colorful event, with all the visiting clergy dressed in RED.

While David, in his spear time, ponders the question of "where does space and time come from?" along with Nathan Myhrvold a scientist who we just saw on a Charlie Rose program I try to keep up with the war on weeds!  About as interesting and fun as vacuuming!  You can see Nathan Myhrvoid here.  Very interesting.  About 50 minutes long.

Our son John called.  Had just returned from yet another business trip to Asia. Thailand one of the places he went, where the feeling of trouble was palpable. While he was here last summer he, Garrison and Kevin erected these stones at the edge of the grass.  I planted bulbs.  Today we so enjoy the flowers and remember their visit with such pleasure.

Ending with a verse enclosed in Stephenie's ordination invitation.  Beautiful words I thought.

"Hope is like a road in the country, where there never was a road, but when many people walked on it, the road came into existence."  by Lyn Yutang.

Monday, May 17, 2010

From Soup to Nuts with Helsingborg Pictures.

Santa Clara University recently held special event for Julia Child.  Kellie and some of the students from her dormitory were lucky enough to get tickets.  Two very special prices were given out.  Kellie was chosen to receive one of those gifts, a Julia Child cookbook  entitled "The Way To Cook", she was thrilled!  I think Kellie too is going to turn out to be a real "cooker", like her Dad John, our Maria and Fredrik  as well.

When Kellie was little she would often spend time helping me cook, in Mariposa, when she came to visit. There is a recipe for Lentil and Potato Stew with Spiced Oil she especially liked to cook as she could do the entire thing all by herself practically and she actually also ate it.  The recipe is from a favorite cookbook of mine called "The Occasional Vegetarian" written by Karen Lee. We eat it often, I never get tired of it, it is easy and healthy and here is the recipe for the rest of you to try. You will like it I think, perhaps it will become one of your favorites too?

here goes:                                                 ( one cup = 2 deciliter )

Lentil and Potato Stew with Spiced Oil:

6  cups water
1 1/2 cups lentils
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
2 medium potatoes, peeled or unpeeled cut into cubes
2 big carrots cut into 1/2" rounds
1 large Spanish (red) onion cut into 1" pieces
2 celery stalks cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

ADD above ingredients to a large pot.  Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 45 min.

Spiced Oil:
1 teaspoon ground cumin, roasted in a small pan over low heat until fragrant. Add 2 tablespoons olive
oil. Heat over low heat 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and  add 1 teaspoon turmeric and 1 teaspoon
ground ginger, stir and set aside.

When stew is cooked, add the spiced oil. Season with additional pepper if needed add salt to taste. Remove bay leaf. Serve hot. By adding additional water this stew can also be served as a SOUP!

Bon appetite!

Bosse our cat has been in a cat fight. As luck would have it he could not have done that on a week night, absolutely not. It had to happen on a Friday night. Veterinarians are harder to find and much more expensive on the weekend naturally.  He was sitting here Saturday morning, holding up a leg. Our first thought was that he had gotten caught someplace and had twisted or sprained it. Off to the Vet we go, discover he has been bitten.  In the joint of course to make the injury harder to deal with.  Joint has to be flushed, he has to be sedated, must spend the day at the Vet. Comes home with a drain installed, has been wearing an E collar and is bumping into every table and chair leg several times. Tomorrow we go back to the doctor with him.

Then on Sunday Ralle has a problem, is in obvious pain is walking with his head down. This after running along the fence after a jogger.  Off to the vet we go. Wait from around 11 AM to close to 5 PM to see somebody.  Finally ............ he is sedated, gets X Rays, gets painkillers and anti inflammatory medication. They felt they needed to keep him in the hospital as he would be needing morphine.  It is now nearly 2:30 PM Monday, we are waiting to hear from the orthopedic doctor who would look at him today.  It is difficult waiting, it is difficult not knowing, it is difficult being without him.  So far we only know he has a condition called SPONDYLOS between the two first vertebra in his neck.  Not good! Hold your thumbs and cross all fingers, say a prayer please!

We had a letter from Michigan, filled with beautiful note cards with Great Pyrenees from Brigitte at Oneida Acres go astray.  It finally did arrive here two and a half months after she had mailed it.  It went via Zimbabwe where I think it had been opened.  It was taped back together by Zimbabwe Post. Glad it did not contain money!

Now lucky us, we are waiting for a package of coffee from Panama.  A gift from The Gamboas formerly of Three Sisters Restaurant  in Oakhurst.  It will be fun to receive, we look forward with great anticipation. The countdown has begun!

Hilary of Muir Trail and her husband Luke are the proud parents of a BIG little boy, named Benjamin Thomas Painter.  It is Hilary who at 13 years old wrote, edited and published her delightful book "Never a Dull Moment" (with a bit of help from her parents) a book we sold many copies of at the store.  We extend many good wishes and know that their life will never be dull now, not that it ever was!!

Here the magnolia trees are blooming and the mustard fields are due to explode! It is exquisite!

Lars Vilkes is in trouble again! Goes off to hold a lecture at the University in Uppsala to talk about homosexuals within the Muslim culture.  Is he trying to start a fight.  Seems he can not let well enough alone!  He lives very near us, not far from Krapperup Castle. You who have been visiting know........  He is provocative and controversial to say the least.  Two American women have been accused of plotting to kill him, Jihad Jane as I think one of the women was called.  Al Qaida supposedly have offered $100, 000 to have him killed.  One would think he would stop inciting so much trouble.  He calls it a matter of free speech.  Personally I think his actions are divisive.  I don't understand what point he is trying to make.   He is now being visited by kids throwing Molotov Cocktails at his house.  So, on it goes.  In my book he is a bit of a Nut Case.  Hence my heading today. From soup to nuts!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Have We (America, Western Europe, Scandinavia) Lost the Ability to Cope with Adversity. Things not going our way?

Helsingborg Father and Son

What sparked this train of thought was an incident in Morgan Hill, California at "Live Oak High School" and a Swedish TV discussion show talking about the welfare system with an Irish news reporter.

Morgan Hill, California has a high population of Mexican Americans.  There are many versions of what happened.  Cinco de Mayo (Fifth of May) is a Mexican Holiday celebrating the defeat of the French occupation in Mexico.  This is a big festivity for the Mexicans.  Apparently last year the school had problems as Mexican flag and American flag waving (on T-shirts) caused tensions between the Mexican-Americans and White Americans (for lack of a better description).  This year the school banned the American flag from being worn by students in order to avoid problems.  What a mistake!

What are we teaching our children in school?  I may not have all the facts correct but it doesn't affect the underlying problem as I see it.  What I think the school officials should have said to the students and the parents before the event is that we all have a right to be here and we all have a right to our opinions.  What we will not accept is violence and bullying.  Those that partake in these actions will be sent home.

The point is that our children need to learn that life is hard at times and that things don't always go our way.    We don't avoid Problems.  We face them.  People will not always like us, not always agree with us, etc.  Our children need to learn that how we overcome this adversity is what will determine the type of people they will become.  Life will always throw us curves.  It is learning to deal with this adversity that will keep them going and make them self sufficient.  Too often institutions, parents, governments, try to keep us all safe by trying to protect us from whatever.  When this only makes us weaker.  Learning to deal/cope with all that life comes our way is essential to our well being.

The Irish news reporter was trying to understand how Sweden is coping with the high percentage of people on sick leave and unemployment due to disability.  Many people in sweden are on sick leave because of high stress, not being able to cope with the pressures of work for one reason or another.  School children taken out of school because of being bullied or picked on, or one reason or another.  The government tries to take care of the people with laws and programs and protect them from harm.  Again, the people, the children need to cope with the problems life throws at them.

The Swedish political system of caring for its people is great, but sometime goes to far to where the people can't cope with problems or its to easy to let the government take care of them.  Here in Sweden many Swedes are non-confrontational.  I think people need to confront their problems.  In America the "Pull yourself up by you're bootstraps" often goes to far to where the people are left to suffer.

What to do?  Do the best you can to raise your family so that they can cope with problems life sends them their way.  And to get involved in their community to make a difference in what little way they can.

There is no one system that is perfect.  And one cannot be inflexible.  All systems, rules have exceptions. We must learn to be very open minded and teach our children the same.  This is global.  This leads to understanding.  We need more understanding in this world.

OK now I am getting to preachy.  Enough said.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Much to do and Culture Shock, finally.....

Momma and her Baby

Yep, we have had lot's to do lately. Little things that have kept us busy, yet nothing BIG. We did our tax declaration. It needed to be sent in by the third day of May. It was done via the phone......... the form was sent to us earlier, one checks the figures already entered, if all is correct  you can send in your declaration via e-mail, cell phone or as in our case via the land line. Enter your person number, are the numbers on the tax form correct, push 1, enter the ID number on the form and you are done. Pretty cool I think. We did that, even while we were still in Mariposa, regarding the taxes on our house in Sweden, so you can actually file your tax return via phone from the US!

We had a very nice visit with Anna and Rob and Ella, visiting their house below Italienska Vagen ( the Italian Road) in Bastad. What a nice place! What a beautiful view! Ella so adorable with Ralle. She made sure he had water. She wanted to share her toys. Rob told us the neighbors on one side came over to introduce themselves, brought a form for Rob to sign agreeing to chop down the trees at the top of the property, because the former owner had promised to do just that! Rob,of course,will not cut down the trees.  And they also wanted to be sure that they "knew the RULES" like not working on the house repair before such and such a time, NEVER before ten o'clock on Saturdays etc. etc. Yes, they are very much for rules here. Hard for us immigrants to get used to.

My little sister came to see us. She and her husband had contemplated a move to Southern Sweden and have had some fun checking out houses. But, when push comes to shove, I think they will stay put. It is always fun when they come though.

Then we had Eyjafjallajokull on Iceland flex her muscle! Great ash clouds stopping air flights dead in their tracks all over Europe! The effects were felt by us personally as Ingela of Viskalys Kennel planned trip to the Great Pyrenees Specialty being held in, I think Pennsylvania was cancelled.  It kept Brigitte and Denver Doxtators three month old puppy Hunter from going from Viskalys to Oneida Acres as scheduled. And we postponed a trip to Uppsala since we did not want to leave Ralle at the kennel when Ingela, Pernilla and Daniel had so much to think about.  At this stage the little Hunter is on the other side of The Big Water, we have made the trip to Uppsala, although not at all as it was planned!
David has not worked at all for several weeks. Now it seems things are picking up for the Sonessons, so he will be busier.

Santiago, Davids horse, just turned 28 years old!  He is being pampered at Marias.  He is a lucky guy! Gets warm bran mash, Equine Senior, green grass at present and has two buddies, Justin (the Pippi Longstocking pony) who is 26 and Merlin a much younger "kid". We should all have it so good!
Ralle has had a visit or two from Imma. They play and play. She is unstoppable, never wears out! And cute! Ralle loves it when they can be together!

David, I think, is now suffering from Culture Shock!!  Our life has just been chugging along quite nicely with only one extremely weird exception, until now!  At this point, David is having a difficult time, the Latin man that he is, coping with the non emotional, always quiet and controlled Swedes.  And they are just that, unless they are in their cars!!  As David does most things "full out" never 1/2 way, he is trying to figure out why the people here are the way they are. Wanted to purchase a book he had heard about, but could not get it here, had hoped Akademi Bokhandeln could order it for him, but NO, so, he ordered it from, who else, ""  It is a book entitled "Swedish Mentality" written by Professor Ake Daun who is the Head of the Institute of Ethnology at Stockholm University. David will sometimes read passages to me and I find myself described in many chapters. Yet, I guess I have somehow been homogenized over time and since I have had the opportunity and the privilege to live among and with, so many people, from so many different cultures, I am no longer totally Swedish. Wish there was more passion here! Is it right to ALWAYS be quiet and calm? Why not a little joy. Jump up and down when exited. Or is it only I that get excited?  LIVE, LOVE and LAUGH say I! OUT LOUD!!!!  This is the signature of one of my "Angels" Noreen McDonald in New Hampshire.  Not so different from Wolfgang Puck's Live, Laugh, Eat.  I like that motto too.  I am hoping that David will come to terms with this situation.  He does LOVE it here, just wished it was less dull.  That what we express would not be so hard to translate. Wished we would not have to figure out what people are "thinking" 'cause they won't say!!! Why can they not, just SAY??!! Will the two of us learn, I wonder?  Communication and listening is difficult in any culture.  It is a skill that needs to be learned and constantly worked on.  There is no such thing as simple communication because one does not know from which angle the recipient is listening,  or if they are listening at all.  That is why it is important to read, watch movies, learn from different sources about life and people. If we are to be able to walk in other peoples shoes to the extent that we can, only then  may we be more able to understand each other.

We, David and I do both realize that it takes two, to tango. We most definitively need to work on "reading" the much more subtle nuances regarding affection when it is bestowed upon us here.  It is something we are fortunate enough to receive, albeit in a different form.  A beautiful and much treasured heart shaped candle holder is one example. We feel privileged to have it. Thank you. You know who you are!
Sven at Work

By the way, it was time to put Sven to work again.  Sven is our mowing robot.  I was a bit skeptical at first if he would do a good job.  I have been pleasantly surprised at how good a job he does.  He deserves a raise.  He works day and night without a complaint.

 As mentioned last week end was spent in Uppsala. Not at all as intended, (that is a long story all in itself) but wonderful non the less. An emotional meeting, for me, with my Auntie Helmi, my Mothers sister. She has been "my rock" my entire life! We had lunch at Aina and Jan-Ottos, met Ainas sister Zeiga and her husband, ate a wonderful fish dish as Aina is an excellent cook! Yum! Most of our time was spent with my" big sister" Monica and Richard. It is always like "going home" there. They were in the middle of "lambing", many new babies being born. Sadly this year has been a difficult one, with many losses. Reasons not known. They have had sheep for twenty five years or so. Still don't have a clue as to why things have been so wrong this time? Aside from that, we always eat good, sip on wine, get to see the kids and grand kids and we can laugh until our stomachs hurt. That is a place that is stedfast and solid, where we love to be.  Always worth the drive.

Our long drive home was made more pleasant by listening to a CD from "Playing for Change" Check out their web site here.

Kellie will graduate from Santa Clara University in the early part of June.
Gary will be going home to San Jose after his first year at NM Technical University, pondering what to do, after a year that has been daunting in several regards.
Ryan is doing good both academically and in his track career, breaking his personal best scores regularly.
Linnea has had wonderful grades, lot's of A's.  She will attend a culinary school in Florida for a short while early this summer.  After that she will come and spend the summer with us. We can hardly wait!
Kevin has decided to attend a University in Arizona this fall. He graduates from High School in early June.
C. J. was not accepted in a program to start the University a year early.  But it was not too shabby to have been invited to try. She too is a fabulous student.
Saga is challenging her teachers as she is extremely determined!  Does she take after my Grandfather Teofil Larsson or might it be Ulf????  We wonder.
Elliott is doing great in preschool, with his language skills growing every day. Speaking both Swedish and English as does his sister.  He is a runner too, just like his cousin Ryan.  Does not sit still much.

Super kids, each and every one!  Proud of them?  Heck Yes!!