30 June 2008

Dzien dobry ( Hallo)

Warsaw took me by surprise. In a very positive sense. I went there expecting grey houses and a lingering atmosphere of former communist state and found a busy and booming city full of energy and potentialities. The city took me with storm! Since my sister worked while I was there I had the whole days to myself exploring the city. I walked and walked and walked almost wearing down the soles of my new trainers. I strolled through the old town with its small alley ways, visited art museums, historical sites, and old Cemetery’s and enjoyed the large and beautiful parks. I even managed to cram in a jumble sale! On the whole the city was much greener than I expected my prejudice thinking it would be only grey and that all buildings would look like Stalinist hotels housing only western business men with a visa or the East German women’s team of discus-throwers on training camp. Of course there are a lot of bunker like Stalinist structures and equally dull buildings of a later era but with the arrival of a market economy in 1989 the face of Warsaw started changing rapidly. Newly constructed steel-and-glass towers and commercial posters of gigantic proportions have made Warsaw very much a town between old and new. And that is very fascinating!

On the evenings my sister and I did some serious catching up involving a lot of wine, good food and talking to the wee hours of the morning!

Old meets new! The Palace of Culture and Science surrounded by glass and steal buildings and commercial posters. The Palace was a "gift of friendship" from the Soviet union 1952. Poles often jokes that the viewing terrace is the best view of the city because it`s the only one that doesn`t inclued the Palace of Culture & Science itself.

The polish people live very close to their dramatic and tragic history in a way that is difficult for a Swede to understand. Sweden not being in a war since 1815 and with a population that largely tend taking freedom of speech and human rights for granted. Everywhere you go in Warsaw you are reminded of WW II and the five year long Nazi occupation. No other Polish city suffered such immense loss of life or such devastation in the war. The occupation triggered two acts of heroic armed resistance, both cruelly crushed. The first was the Ghetto uprising in 1943 when heavily outnumbered and largely unarmed Jewish civilians fought fiercely for over a month against overwhelming Nazi forces. The second was the Warsaw uprising of 1944 that hoped to liberate the capital and set up independent government before the arrival of the red army (which was already camped on the eastern bank of the Vistula river). The street fighting went on for 63 days but then the insurgents were forced to capitulate. For the next three months the Nazis methodically razed the city to ground. Only on the 17 of January did the Soviet forces cross the river to “liberate” Warsaw! About 85 % of the Warsaw buildings were destroyed and 800 000 people – more than half of the prewar population – perished.

The most valuable historic monuments, most notably the old town has been restored to their previous appearance based on original drawings and photographs.

The Royal Castle in 1945

The Royal Castle rebuilt

I also visited the Pawiak Prison Museum once used for incarcerating the enemies of the Russian tsar but during the WW II the Gestapo’s main prison facility. Around 100 000 prisoners passed through its gates of whom around 37 000 people were executed on site and 60 000 transported to the gas chambers. The visit left me deeply touched and very sad. During WW II and at the age of 14 my father spent two years in a prison camp in Siberia. When I visited the Prison Museum I was overwhelmed by the sudden knowledge of how much my father must have suffered and how little I know about those two years. Through my father, WW II have always been an important part of my history and has in parts made me the one I am when it comes to my views on politics and human rights. The visit made me want to dig out my old history books collecting dust on the attic and reread them. I also decided then and there that I am going to sit down for long talks with my father and “write down” some of our family history. Not only for me but for my daughters as well.
The Pawiak Prison Museum

I left Warsaw with a firm resolution to fly back real soon!

Da widzenia ( Good bye)

The language ? Nie razumiem – I don’t understand!. I studied Russian for a year in high school but I can’t say that it did me much good. Poprosze o dodatkowe lozko w pokoju - pronounce that if you can! It means can you put an extra bed in my room :-) So glad I stayed with my sister and not in a hotel!

24 June 2008

My bags are packed….

….and I am ready to go. I am leaving Sweden for a week in Warsaw to visit my sister. She moved there recently and she’s to stay three years to work. I have never visited Warsaw before so it’s going to be great fun. In our younger days my sister and I really new how to have a good time so lets hope we haven’t lost the touch….

Why don`t you enjoy some rhubarb and strawberry crumble while I`m gone!

Enjoy !



So you want the recipe? That good huh?

Preheat the oven to 200 C ( 400 F)

Put finely chopped rhubarb and whole (small) strawberries in a ovenproof dish

200 g butter
300 g flour
60 g suger
1 teaspoon vanilla essence or 2 teaspoons vanilla powder

and rub the butter in the flour/sugar/vanilla until it resemblance fine breadcrumbs.

Sprinkle the crumble over the rhubarb and strawberries and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.

Serve with ice cream!

19 June 2008

Midsommar - Midsummer

We may not have polar bears walking the streets in Sweden but it`s a dark and cold country most of the year anyway. That’s why we people up north cherish the summer light so much that a celebration is held an entire weekend - the midsummer festivities. Some of you might say that the midsummer festivities has nothing to do with the light but is only an excuse for getting seriously drunk on aquavit, singing obscure songs and eating herring with sour crème and chive. I for myself go with the light theory. On midsummer night’s eve (or thereabout) is the summer solstice and the sun is up longer than any other day. And that’s worth celebrating. You can stay up all night and the sky only goes a brilliant dark, dark blue but never pitch black. That is if you don’t live in the northern parts because there the sun doesn’t set at all.

On midsummer you have a may pole decorated with flowers and you dance around it! It looks a bit like cannibals dancing around the pot! Japanese tourists with cameras usually think we have gone completely bonkers. We do eat herring with sour crème and chive and you drink aquavit and sing obscure songs. The drinking and singing part probably goes back to the Vikings or something but we were more in to chewing poisonous mushrooms back then. With the eating, drinking and dancing completed the ladies go out flower picking. You are not allowed to talk while picking and you must pick seven different flowers. Then you put the flowers under your pillow and you will dream about the man becoming your husband. My husband usually makes fun of me saying “what’s the point of picking flowers since you already have the man of your dreams” but who knows I just might dream about Sean Connery and who wants to miss out on that?

May pole - not ours though

Served directly from the freezer

It doesn`t get any darker than this

Flowers for the wreaths

Youngest daughter wearing the finished result

For me Midsummer is getting up early in the morning to pick flowers for the wreaths and the maypole and to lay a beautiful table with flowers, a linen tablecloth and lots of candle lights. To sit down with family and friends and enjoying each others company until the wee hours of the morning. And yes I drink the occasional aquavit and yes I sing an obscure song or two but most of all I enjoy the company of my loved ones!

So all of you friends out there, Swedes or not I hope you have a lovely midsummer week end!

PS Did I tell you it almost always rains on Midsummer? But in my dreams and memories the sun always shines!

56 blank pages

Last Friday was my last day at my current job. This past two years I have been working with establishing a “meeting place“ for elderly people in one of the districts in the town where I live. In your old age it’s easy to be isolated and your social network keeps getting smaller when friends or relatives die or move into nursing homes. Isolation can lead to depression or ill health but if you have a place to visit and have fun and interesting things happening in your life well then you have not only a better life but also a better health. The community had an old house with a beautiful garden and I had a two year contract as a project leader and an assignment to fill the house with activities for the elderly. And now my work is done! The house is filled with activities everyday and the elderly have a place to visit were they are truly seen and met with warmth and welcoming. Most of the visitors are in their mid eighties but the oldest visiting is 94. I’ve had a marvelous time and met so many adorable people but now it’s time to move on. I am a “project nomad” and I like to have new challenges in my life. In the middle of august I start a new job as a planning secretary for the chief of community based health care in the same town district where I work now. A planning secretary is a bit like being a political secretary only you don’t work for a politician.

Middle of august did she say? And what the heck is she doing in the mean time? Well my friends I am having a vacation! Eight long and beautiful weeks or 56 blank pages to fill with creative stuff, house renovating, visiting jumble and yard sales, blog writing, nature walks, photography and lazy days in the hammock sipping a glass of wine and reading a book. Oh joy! I almost have to pinch my arm to believe that it`s really true! I haven`t had a vacation that long since I don`t know when. My school days probably!

I promise to keep you all updated!

Take care!


08 June 2008


For several weeks now the weather has been very warm for the season. Way too warm to do anything creative until the late hours of the evening and then it’s time for bed…... One part of me have been longing for a felting frenzy and the a nother part of me didn’t. Just the thought of wool made me feel even warmer although the felting as such hasn’t anything to do with being warm at all. Anyway….yesterday my better self won.

I had been out all day photographing poppies and was so inspired that I made a wet felt with poppies on it. It`s going to be a present for another photographer Annika Christensen who specialize in garden photos. Do visit her blog and website.

On Wednesday the weather is going to be back to normal. That means rain and grey clouds and a lot colder. Guess I`ll be doing a lot more felting then.

Have a lovely week my friends!


Me, myself and I

Some of my blogfriends asked me what I looked like as a kid. My father was a keen photographer and never went anywhere without his camera. And me and my sister were his favorite models! He developed his own photos in the bathroom and I can still remember the happiness I felt when I was allowed inside to help him. It was so fascinating to see the picture slowly appear on the photo paper. That’s when my own interest in photography was born I guess although I started taking my own pictures very much later…. Unfortunately a lot of my father’s photographs were destroyed when my parents summerhouse burnt down last year. Some however was saved …..

This is me deep in thoughts at the age of four I think.

This is me and my sister playing in the kitchen. As you can see I was very much in to
kettle-holders even then!

Being creative !

My mother didn’t know she was expecting twins until she arrived at the maternity ward and the mid wife said "that belly is so big it has to be two inside". - No way said my mother. And my father almost fainted. Mostly due to the fact that he had made a beautiful cradle with a handwoven basket made of willow ( my father is very creative too) and the cradle most certainly had room only for one. What was he to do? Luckily for him we were born to early and he had time to make a second basket while we were in hospital.

When we were born my mother had to fill out a form in hospital. Since we were born at the same time she forgot to tick the box that stated if I had any brothers and sisters. When I came home from hospital my mother was visited by a nurse from the child welfare centre. My sister was still in hospital. The nurse was very surprised when she found a cradle with two baskets and me lying in one of them and the other one filled with books so the cradle wouldn’t fall over. The look on her face! I wasn’t supposed to have any brothers or sisters. She thought my mum had gone completely nuts!
This is me on my mothers shoulder at the age of approximately 8-9 weeks. We were born 6 weeks too early and I left hospital at about the age of six weeks and my sister a few weeks later. Us being in the hospital was a trauma for my mother. We were in isolation and in an incubator and my mother weren’t allowed to hold us or even be near us. She just had to stand outside a glass window looking in. Thank god the care of premature babies are much better now!

Many of my friends say that my youngest daughter has a great resemblance to me. Here she is a day old resting on my shoulder. Maybe they are right.
What do you think?

01 June 2008

I have been tagged

I have been tagged by Lili M. She wants to know 7 strange and unfamiliar things about me. Since I am not a very interesting person I will follow Lili`s example and show you some garden pics as well. I wouldn’t want you to be bored stiff….

1. I am a twin. My twin sister is one hour and a half older than me and boy did she rub that one in when we were kids. I weighed 500 gram more than her when we were born and she always accused me of kicking her out in order to have all the food to my self. We are not identical twins. She is thin, has brown hair and is easily tanned. I am blond, on the shubby side and go red in the sun. We are more alike now than as kids though. She is good at mathematics, science and anything logical and I am good at languages, social science and writing. We used to fight a lot! Thanks to my sister I got great grades in science when I finished school because we competed about absolutely everything including test results. I love my sister very much despite or maybe due to our differences!

2. I love to sing and have attended various choirs but am currently without one. I don’t play any instrument and I can’t read notes so I sing by ear. I am a contralto but on good days or in the shower I’m a mezzo soprano! I got thrown out of the local church choir in my teens when I was caught singing Janis Joplin’s Oh lord want you buy me a Mecedes Benz while my best friend was playing the church organ. I never sing before breakfast because my grandmother always said “sing in the morning and there will be tears before evening”. I whistle instead!

3. I have distant plans of writing a book. I have always wanted too but after taking a course in creative writing a few years back I felt totally defeated and depressed and decided that book writing was nothing for me. But now the old yearning has come to life again… But this time I haven’t got a novel in mind. I would much rather write a book about how to be creative! Or how to pursue your inner creativity. A sort of “how to” book with lots of photos and pep talk. Because as I often say in my blog is that it`s my firm belief is that everyone can be creative and that everyone has a talent. It`s just that for some this talent is hidden and yet to explore. And I so would like to help people explore it!

4. I used to work as a physical therapist but now I work with project leading, project development and community development mostly in the health care area. People who don’t know me usually think I am very organized, that I always have an answer and know what to do. But that’s just a front. My work room and office is always a mess and most of the time I just walk around thinking that “Shit! Soon people must discover what a great fraud I am”. But funnily enough I always seem to land on my feet and work things out. I like to work alone and I am not very good at delegating. But I always get my best ideas in discussion with others but then I like to get back to my office and work on it further on my own. What I like best about my job is that no day is ever the same and that I get to solve things not by seeing problems but solutions instead.

5. I hate reading manuals and I think that the saying read the fucking manual must have been written for me. I have difficulties seeing things three dimensional and therefore I can never build anything after a plan. And I can never put anything together from IKEA! My youngest daughter is phenomenal though and always helps me out. Because of that she learned how to handle a cordless drill driver at an early age!

6. I love making lists of what to do! And I often put in one or two items that I have already done just to have the satisfaction of ticking them off!

7. I have yet never spent a night alone in our country house. I have an overactive imagination and I always think that ax murderers and mad rapists are lurking in the garden. I’m OK in the city but as soon as I get down to the country house and it darkens I start looking over my shoulder. Of course it’s much more safe in the country house than in town but try telling that to my imagination….I still jump at every little noise! That I’m a crime novel freak might have something to do with it.

Well that is 7 strange and unfamiliar things about me. Now I get to tag someone else. So
feel free to tell us some strange and unfamiliar things about yourself!

Have a great week everyone!