Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hurrah for Ralle !

The story about our Champion Pyrenees Ralph Lauren AKA Ralle goes something like this.
He was bred and born at Kennel Vi"Skalys in Löberöd not far From Lund in the south of Sweden exactly seven years ago today.

He became a member of a family "flock" consisting of a Mom, Dad and young children.  They already  had an older dog.  All was well.  Ralle who was the newcomer and young,  accepted the bottom rung in the family hierarchy.

Eventually the older Alpha dog became very ill and Ralle seized the opportunity to become the "numero uno", someone had to be the "leader" after all.
Well, after what I understand, was a long struggle the Alpha dog regained his health and naturally wanted his number ONE SPOT back.
Battles ensued.  Big dog fights are no fun!  With young children living as part of that flock the family decided that as the older dog was there first Ralle was returned to Kennel Vi'Skalys.

He was not happy living in the kennel.

Ingela and Pernilla wanted him to be happy.

We who had been without a dog for as long as we could stand being without a dog started thinking about adding a dog to share our life.  We went to dog shows and naturally gravitated to the Pyr rings since after having lived with two Pyrenees Una and Rontu,  we were hooked!

Should we get a puppy?  Should we get a dog at all?  We would be "tied"!  Should we?  Should we not?  We went to visit Kennel Vi'Skalys!  Oh, what beautiful people!  What beautiful dogs!

Not long after that we received a call asking if we would consider having Ralle live with us?  Hmm? Allowing him to live in a situation where he could be the ONE AND ONLY so to speak. 
Ingela, Pernilla and Daniel came for a visit with Ralle in tow to see if our very unique situation would "work"?  How would it be with Bosse the cat and most importantly would Ralle be able to navigate all the stairs?

The rest as they say is history. 
Ralle spotted the red corduroy sofa in the family room / kitchen took one look climbed up and laid down.  The look in his eyes saying:  "I always wanted one of those"!
He looks so good there!
We love him!
We love Ingela, Pernilla and Daniel too!
We love Vi'Skalys!

Happy birthday to Ralle!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On Family, Friends and Gratitude

With Thanksgiving upon us, it is as tradition suggests, time to think about all the things for which to be just THAT, Thankful!  All our wonderful family, friendships past and present, the good food we have every day, the beautiful place where we live, health one of the most important components and comfort.

We are truly grateful for it ALL...  For Ralle who enriches our life every day with his sweetness and now the new little life "Miss Kitty" who bounces off the walls and we can't but keep smiling at those silly tail chasing antics.

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted" a quote by Aesop,  befitting my mood at the moment, fitting in with the Thanksgiving theme as well.....

With that said and with gratitude in mind I am checking the list for filling the grocery basket, while the Swedish size turkey is defrosting in the refrigerator........ sweet potatoes -- check
                                                                corn      -- check
                                                             raisins      -- check
                                                          walnuts       -- check        on and on......

My old "Our Favorite Recipes" cookbook resurfaced with our move to Sweden. This book a gift from my Mother In Law Jo when I was married.  A spiral bound  now very worn little book,  put together by the American Legion Auxiliary in Oklee,  Minnesota.  This book is filled with my children's scribbles.  My own handwritten recipes such as John's favorite  "Deluxe Yellow Cake",  his all time favorite  birthday cake.  A recipe for a Shrimp and Rice with instructions to cook the shrimp for 30 minutes!  I had to laugh!  We actually ate that !! ??  The "Kamish Bread" recipe  was  provided by Florence Katz who also shared her wonderful  "Mandel Bröd"  recipe with me.  We have made those cookies for fifty some years and Maria still bakes those today.

Florence was a client of ours  at "The VIP Beauty Salon" in Saint Paul Minnesota and the very same person who got me connected with KQXL radio where I hosted a weekly radio program on Saturdays called "Scandinavian Melodies"....... well, what ELSE would it be called ?

Stuck in between the pages are lots of scraps of paper with various recipes among others Carol Springer's Raisin Chess Pie.  This was Francis Bradley's favorite dessert.  A pie I longed to make during this cook books long "lost" years.  Now  since I am not able to make any Pumpkin Pies  (as you can not find canned pumpkin here) - - -  Yes I know I could roast pumpkin and make my own filling, but the pumpkins you find here are the decorative kind.  Not grown for consumption really.  Very few  squash are found here actually, other than zucchini,  probably since it is not a native product!

 Now  I am going to re-discover the Raisin Chess Pie.  It will be fun to see if it is as yummy and divine  as I remember it to be.  Since it contains ONE CUP of melted butter, with additions of brown sugar, eggs, raisins and walnuts,  baked for about an hour until the filling has a heavenly chewy gooey consistency........  served with a dollop of whipped cream.  What more  can I say !

We will enjoy having guests.  Sharing good food is "right up there" on my list of favorite pleasures and something I am always grateful to be able to do..

So the preparations begin......

For me being grateful includes having a roof over my head, being able to drive to the store,  having the dishwasher and such things we so often take for granted like electricity, a comfortable bed and running water!  Having supportive and understanding friends is just  like having whipped cream with my pie or  a piece of REALLY good chocolate and a good glass of red wine!  How extra sweet life is with a few of those.  Thank you for "being one of those",  you know who you are.....

May your Thanksgiving Holiday be memorable as well.  David and I will be skyping with our families, we will  miss having them close.  We are close in spirit however,  we feel their love and their support and are grateful to belong to just THAT bunch!  We could not have picked them better if we had tried.  That is also true for our EXTENDED FAMILY and those that are OUR FAMILY by CHOICE.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Eat too much and truly enjoy every morsel.  That is what we are going to do...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More Ralle Walks II

This morning we were getting ready for our morning walk.  And noticed our friend the hawk.  He routinely comes around about this time of year and sits on the fence behind our house.  It is a routine we have come to expect.

We were again greeted by hundreds of geese.  This time they were landing in a field near us.  They must be feeding and resting on their flight south for the winter.

This mornings walk take us to Jonstorp by the sea.  This is another place we often like to take our walks.  We often meet and talk with others who also take their dogs for walks here.  You can see on Ralles face that he sees another possible friend.  This Sunday a couple we met here will be coming for lunch.  Ralle will also have someone to visit with.

This early morning a fishing boat is coming back from sea with its catch.

On our walk back to the car we saw this young swan with its mother amongst some ducks.

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Ralle Walks

A few days ago we left the house to go for our morning walk with Ralle.  That morning there were hundreds of geese flying south for the winter.  A beautiful sight and the sound of their honking sent us on our walk in style.

We often go for our walk in the nature reserve of Svedberga behind our house beyond a few farmers fields.  It is a great place to walk and Ralle likes it because there is a lot of news to read.

As we follow the footpaths we often come across people on horseback and other nature lovers.  There is also a hawk that we often see in a particular spot in the forest.  There is always something new to see.

Here is Agneta walking through the autumn forest.  It is often also very quiet with no one around because we take our walks early in the morning.  We become so aware of our surroundings and try to see, hear, and feel everything around us.

The changing seasons, the early sunlight, the clouds, and the wind paint new pictures of the same trees hourly.  The forest is a living creature.

Later that afternoon, as we often do, we went for another walk this time to Sofiero Slott about a 10 minute drive.  As we went through the front entrance we saw this young couple leaning against the building looking towards the setting sun and taking in the warmth of its rays.  This vision of love and togetherness warmed our hearts.

Sofiero is a wonderful place to walk and enjoy the wonderful gardens.  There is such beauty here.

On our way home we drove to Höganäs to pick up a few things at the store for dinner.  We went for another little walk by the harbor.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All Saints Day and The Day Of The Dead

Honoring the dead is done with such care here.  The church yards with the orderly graves are tended with meticulous care in Sweden.  Flowers changed depending on the season, and during winter there is often a blanket of evergreen branches along with Christmas roses and wreaths of varying kinds.

All Saints Day is the weekend just past, a week end when family members and friends traditionally visit the graves bringing candles to place by the individual gravestones or to the area called "The Memorial Garden".  How I would love to be able to view Sweden from above on this night.  The entire country must glow from all the candles lit.

When we have visitors we often "show off" a church yard and do so with great pride.  A lot is said about the people who live here when you see this love for those who have proceeded us in death.
An example of a very special grave yard is Skogskyrkogården in Stockholm.  It is a relatively new cemetery (considering how old many of the churches are here) created between 1917 and 1920 - it has had a profound influence in many countries in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Center today.

Many choose to not be buried in a traditional grave today, but rather in these memorial gardens that are unmarked.  With the thought of eliminating the responsibility for the care of the grave to those left behind. Everyones life is full enough of all the things that must be done, must be cared for.....   and true it is, that those who past before us are not in the cemetery itself, yet I am moved by the age old tradition.  The caring, the planting, the candles..

Those that I miss in my life, those that are out there beyond the horizon some where,  remain in my heart, forever and ever!

These beautiful spaces are created for contemplation, reflection and solace....... where never a plastic plant will be found.