Archive for June, 2009

Do the cinnamon twirl

What has this….

Bun

Cinnamon Swirl

Got to do with this?

Janitor_on_roof

Janitor on the roof

Although you might think that this janitor was auditioning for a part in a new re-vamped musical called Janitor on the Roof or that he was trying to burn the excess calories caused by consuming too many of that most Swedish of buns – the Cinnamon Swirl – both guesses are wrong!

If you guessed that he was inventing a new dance called The Cinnamon Twirl, then you are getting hotter…

You see, back in May, the school decided to try to get into the Guinness Book of Records by ‘making’ the largest cinnamon bun in Sweden…

… Out of children!

Music blaring, people dancing and the kids doing their best to make a new record!

Making the 'bun'

Making the 'bun'

First of all, they joined hands to make the bun part.

And then, they kicked up a lot of dust…

swirl

Creating the swirl of the cinnamon bun

And finally fell into formation to create the swirl bit of the bun!

Did they make a new record?

I don’t know. Everyone I interviewed had their mouths too full of cinnamon bun to answer!

For more glimpses into the lives of others around the world, visit That’s My World!


Patience

Magiceye has just kick started a new site for animal lovers called Pet Pride. (That’s the name of the site, not the animal lovers!) So if you like pets – be they cats, dogs, snakes or tarantulas – then pop over there and join in!

Patient_dog

Patience is a dog

Children don’t have patience, but dogs do.

Sir Pe took this great photo of Oscar, our dog. Is there anything more touching than a dog waiting for his mistress to come home?


An apology?

Largen

Two kids and the dog

Azure blue skies, cotton wool clouds and a sun-dazzled lake.

These are the things that have been keeping me from you, dear readers!

It’s a tough life – but I’ll pull through.

Someone has got to go out there and make sure that nature is still there, and still beautiful.


A novel narrated by Death: highly recommended!

the-book-thiefI sat there in the brilliant evening sunshine, blinking back the tears. Pretending it was the sun in my eyes that had dazzled me when, in fact, it was the book I had just finished.

If you haven’t read The Book Thief by the Australian writer Markus Zusak – then you must!

It is a tale of dark times in Nazi Germany, of Jews and hiding and concentration camps. A tale narrated by Death as he reluctantly travels the world bearing the souls of the dead.

Or – in the words of the blurb in the back:

This novel is narrated by Death

It’s a small story about a girl, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter and quite a lot of thievery.

The protagonist of the story is Liesel, a foster child who arrives on Himmel Street to live with Rosa and Hans Hubermann. It is she who is the book thief, finding relief from life in words.

As the narrator Death says at the end of the book:

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race – that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words so damning and brilliant.”

Now, you might think that this book would be very depressing given its subject matter. But it isn’t – the book is comical, and written with such compassion and wit, that it transcends all the evil and sadness of the human race to dazzle and remind us of the kindness of people under pressure.

It is moving, thought-provoking, life affirming and magical.


Midsummer Magic

If you ask a Swede what their favourite holiday is, they would probably find it hard to choose between Christmas Eve and Midsummer’s Eve. Midsummer is a magical time in Sweden – at least, that’s how most people imagine it to be. The sun is shining, they escape to their summer cottages and have a wonderful time dancing around a maypole with their families.

OK… so it very often rains, too much alcohol and herring are consumed, and old family wars might break out… Yet it is still a magical holiday.

The tradition of Midsummer celebrations goes back to pre-Christian times as a way of welcoming in the summer and celebrating fertility. Just look at the maypole and you’ll see what I mean.

midsommarPhoto: www.imagebank.se Fredrik Sweger, Lou B/Fredrik Sweger and the Swedish Institute

The maypoles are dressed with leaves and flowers and raised, ready for people to dance around, accompanied by live folk musicians. One of my favourites is the song ‘Little Frogs’ – where you dance around the pole pretending to be a frog (jumping on your haunches while making silly hand gestures).

After this, you eat herring (if you like it – I don’t), new potatoes and, of course, lots of strawberries and cream. The Swedes tend to consume lots of alcohol, so that schnapps drinking songs can be heard long into the night.

Late_night

10.30 at night

Midsummer’s Eve falls around the longest night of the year, so that it hardly every gets dark. The sun may dip down onto the horizon like a golden or bright orange eye, only to rise again fairly soon after.

What better way to celebrate balmy days and long light nights than with flowers, song and food?

For more stories, visit That’s My World!


Graduation wisdom

FunandgamesThe creative Jenners has asked us all to join in with her as she plays Fun and Games. This week’s challenge is to write a Commencement Speech.

I thought that I would give my speech to those who would sit still longest and listen with silly grins on their faces: that’s right! A Wag-it-dictorain speech for dogs who have just finished Obedience School.

Dear Pooches, Mutts, Canines!

We are gathered here today on the auspicious occasion of you passing your obedience…

Rex – down boy! Down!

… the obedience class of 2009. To commemorate this occasion, I would like to pass on..

Fifi – do not pee right there. Do not!

… I’d like to pass some wisdom that might help you in your future.

1. Do not lick your privates in public. There’s a reason they are called privates.

2. Cats are friends, not food.

3. The people who deliver your post and your milk are not there to be gnawed on or chewed. That’s why you have bones.

Down Rex! Down! Get off Fifi. And you too Tiddles.

4. You can chase frisbees, sticks and – possibly – that adorable dog that has been flirting with you. Just remember that cyclists are off limits. Just like you owner’s favourite chocolates. Or slippers.

No! That graduation cake is not to be eaten yet!

5. If you must go dumpster diving, then do it discreetly. Diving into your neighbour’s trash can late at night is not charming. Or discreet.

funny-dog-pictures-found-lost-ball

6. Dragging your butt across the floor is not a good way of telling your owner that you need to go out. It might, however, be a sign of worms.

7. Sniffing each other’s butts is how dogs say hello. You do not need to extend that courtesy to your owner and family.

8. And, finally, I’d like to pass on this valuable gem of wisdom to all you loyal and obedient canines …

NO! Do not touch the cake yet!

I said, down Rex!

Back off, Nero. There’s a good boy.

Stop eating the cake!

Sit! I said sit! I said … 0#|[]]≈±


Paying it forward

It is a strange and yet surprisingly comforting fact that blogging can lead to friendship, to a sense of community, with people that you have never met in real life – with people that you only get to know through a computer screen. Yet a turn of a word or phrase, or the stories they tell, somehow lead you to an understanding of that person. This, in turn, expands to the blogging community in general, which can show the most heart-warming kindness when one of its members is in trouble.

ocean+city,+md+2007A lot of you know Joanie – and the fact that her John is undergoing cancer treatment. Braja, from Lost and Found in India, is organizing a drive to  help Joanie defray some of the small costs that bite into a girl’s budget: petrol for the car, the high-sky parking costs at the hospital, John’s loss of salary…

If any of you can help Joanie, then please go to Braja at Lost and Found in India to read her post. Oh, and she has set up a Paypal button on her site if you can spare a couple of dollars. Every cent goes to Joanie … with love.

If you can’t help at this time, then keep Joanie in your thoughts.

My thanks go to you, dear friends!


What kind of person are you?

Everybody wants to be a dog, don’t they?

eukanuba

So – are you a dog or a cat person? Or perhaps a snake or bird lover?


My night as a dog

A couple of weeks ago, I went away to a TEDxStockholm event and saw where Santas come for their summer holidays. (For those of you who don’t know about TED, I urge you to check their website: www.ted.com.) Some of you are TED fans already and I promise to let you know more about Sweden’s first ever independently-organized TEDx event later on…

But – first! I have another promise to keep: and that is the one in which I allow you all to guffaw at my paltry dressing up attempts at the Creative Dinner that we (The Interesting Organization) held after all the lectures were finished. You see, once the TEDxStockholm day was over, we all proceeded downstairs to dress up before having dinner. I arrived a little late so the pickings were pretty slim.

I ended up looking something like this…

Me_dog

Photo courtesy of André Wognum

I had a net as a skirt and it was held up by some sort of tea strainer that snapped shut; the doggie collar is around my arm; and I made a fetching necklace out of an old CD and stuck some toy dinosaurs and soldiers on it… Of course, the most eye-catching feature of all is my dog hat! (The ears made it difficult to eat elegantly. But then, what dog has good table manners?)

Well, I did say the pickings were slim!

Er… Yes! I was caught trying to add a friend’s contact details into my new phone… Blush! But she was a new business contact! (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)

After a  late night party, we all congregated at the 17th century manor house that is our company’s HQ for breakfast and some quiet time.

TEDxStockholm's organizer relaxing in a hammock

TEDxStockholm's organizer relaxing in a hammock

Look at the delightful sight that greeted us that morning: a field of hammocks to rest in!


Lilac wine

Spring in Sweden is the colour purple. A riot of purples ranging from delicate pastel lilac to deep maroon.

Lilac

Lilac

The explosion of flowers meets its match with the dizzying fragrance of the lilac bushes as they droop under their burden of perfumed petals.

Looking up, you are surprised by the budding of the fir cones.

Purple_conesThey hang from the branches like a luscious bunch of decadent maroon berries.

And, of course, no spring – or summer – here in Sweden is complete without long, light days and sun glinting on water.

Purple_haze

This is the sagging jetty that we share with the ducks, swans and the Canadian geese.

Now, if only the rain would keep away so that spring can keep its purple promises…

You can join in the fun at: That’s My World!

So – what colour is YOUR spring?


Catnapping and popcorn

As you probably know, Sir Pe and I went to our friends’ house to babysit their four kids and our two while the parents had a night out. We had a lovely time watching films and indulging in far too much popcorn. (Luckily, the dog acted as a super-charged canine vacuum cleaner so that  no evidence of our wild night was to be seen…)

Everyone was very tired and fell into beds and mattresses on the floor with drooping eyelids at around 9.15 in the evening.

Everyone, that is, except the 3-yr-old, who found renewed energy to run around giggling – keeping the other kids awake.

He woke me up at three in the morning by lying on top of me. No sooner had I gone back to sleep than the other kids woke up (or so it seemed). OK – they didn’t wake up until 6 am, but still…

Sleep is so overrated, don’t you think?

No – I don’t agree either. (I do love my sleep!)

catnapping

Photo courtesy of the Internet – possibly from the LOL Cats site.

Which is why I will probably be doing some catnapping today.

Now, if only I could stop that coat hanger from sticking into my back…


See you on the other side…

I’m gathering my strength. Breathing deeply. Filling my energy sources with chocolate. Making sure I have plenty of earplugs.

straitjacket

Because today, we are all going to a friend’s house for a sleepover.

The only difference is that my friend and her husband won’t be there. That’s right – they are leaving Sir Pe and I (and the dog) in charge of our two kids, their four kids (8 yrs old and younger) and their house…

We may none of us be the same again.

Wish us luck – and see you on the other side of the padded cell.


Family and other toys

The youngest anklebiter is leaving kindergarten to start school after the summer holidays.

He came home with his development portfolio. When one of his teachers interviewed him, she asked him to describe his family.

Such an easy question! This is what he said:

My family consists of…

… mama, papa, big sister and Oscar the dog.

Star_Wars_Ship

Oh – and a LEGO Star Wars spaceship!


Cute overload?

When the gorgeous Clive, an Assistance Dog working with a ten-year-old autistic boy – fondly called Little Man – wrote and asked me to post some pictures of my own dog, Oscar – I couldn’t help but be impressed. After all, how does that dog manage to write comments without opposable thumbs?

So, Little Man, this post is for you – hope it brings a smile or three to your face!

Oscar, enjoying a summer’s day last year:

Oscar

And here he is on a hot spring day this year.

Don’t stick your tongue out at me, buddy…

Oscar_3

Just in case you’re wondering, Oscar is a Working Golden Retriever, who came into our lives two years ago when he was 4.5 years old. (Remind me to tell you that story some time.)

Oh – and because I know you are fond of a good-looking pair of buttocks, I’m throwing in this picture as an added bonus…

ethiopia-baboon

Check out TravelerFolio’s site for more great photos!

By the way, did you know that those red buttocks act like comfy cushions? (Not unlike our own butts, I suppose…)


Not just a pile of old stones

Walking the dog has a whole new dimension when it turns out to be such an adventure! Last week, I told you how I discovered a WWI bunker hidden in the forest. Well, it gets better.

On the same walk, I came across this! Can you guess what it is?

Dog_grave

Yes, it is a dog, a weird-looking tree and a pile of stones!

But that pile of stones is not just a pile of stones. It is so much more…

You see, the pile of stones is actually a grave.

A grave from the Bronze Age. Now, this may not mean very much to you, but the Bronze Age came after the Stone Age – which makes this grave and these stones about 3,000 years old. That’s right: 3,000 years old!

Bronze_sign

And although the information board looks as if it, too, is ancient, I think that the fuzziness is just a result of the weather… I mean, it’s hard to look good in hail, sun, snow and ice!

Anyway, unlike rune stones which commemorate dead people, these stones actually cover the remains of 3,000-year-old corpses! According to the information, archaeologists removed the stones in order to see what was in the grave. But – once again – the harsh weather conditions have taken their toll and there is very little to see after three thousand years.

Dog_grave_dancing

Now, is it just me – or is my dog really trying to hog all the limelight?

For more adventures, check out That’s my world!


High on ideas

I’ve just had a fantastic weekend! We held our first TEDxStockholm event with masses of inspiring speakers, interesting discussions, passion and champagne! (More about that later…)

I went out for a walk and discovered that wooden Santas and little gnomes thrive in a Santa museum! A huge Santa welcomes you into the museum, which is the building with the canoe on the roof!

Santa

Quite an unexpected sight in the middle of the lush Swedish countryside!

The whole event was brilliant and we rounded off the night by dressing up and eating dinner.

I felt as if I could float away on all the ideas that bubbled to the surface during the day…

Bridges

… And, although I felt as if I could walk on water, I ended up using the bridges to get over the river at the back of the hotel where I was staying.

What’s that?

Well, I don’t have any pictures right now of me dressed up… If you ask nicely, I might post one later.

I’ll give you a clue: it isn’t easy to eat supper with long doggie ears!


The birthday present?

A few months ago, while we were shivering in the middle of winter (Wait – we’re still shivering in June over here. Winter weather – minus the snow), I bored regaled you with the story of Sir Pe’s broken bones and the horrific story of his three days waiting for an operation.

Now you might think that – just like Sir Pe’s leg – our two anklebiters were scarred for life by this experience. Do they remember visiting a drugged Sir Pe? (He certainly doesn’t remember our visit!) Do they remember how they carried in balloons and one burst nearly causing a heart attack in an elderly fellow patient? Have they been scarred by the memories of the sick people, the smell of disinfectant and bed pans, the rustle of nurses’ uniforms as they were told off for running and laughing in the corridor? (The kids, that is, not the nurses…)

NiceFood

I don’t think so. You see, today is Sir Pe’s birthday and last night I was talking to the anklebiters about going out this evening for a tasty unburnt meal to celebrate. I was thinking somewhere a little special…

So were the kids!

“Can we go to the hospital and eat pancakes there?” they asked all excited.

Because they still remember with fondness just how good those pancakes in the hospital restaurant tasted.

Happy birthday, darling – and here’s a plateful of hospital food to celebrate!


Sleeping giant revealed

As I moved away from the brooding quiet of the sleeping giant, it became clear that it was no giant…

Giant

The helmet of a god?

No, some Norse god had carelessly discarded his helmet and left it to rust on the forest floor. Look at the helmet’s leafy plumes!

You don’t believe me?

Well, at first I thought I had come across some shelters or bunkers from the Second World War.

Doors

You can see that the bunker is half buried in the ground with lots of half-rusted doors. In fact, the backbone and the helmet part make up a large T shape with many doors and openings along its length.

Some online research proved me wrong: these military bunkers are actually remnants from the First World War, when Sweden was preparing itself from possible attack from the north. These bunkers were part of a series called ‘The Northern Front’.

Come_in

Come on in!

Although one of the doors was wide open and seemed to be inviting me in, I didn’t take it up on its offer.

You know, just in case that giant or Norse god was still inside.


Mysterious object: the sleeping giant

Last week, as I was walking through the verdant lushness of a Swedish forest in glorious springtime weather, I suddenly saw something lurking there, in the shady woods. Just imagine – it has always been there, but I have only just noticed it for the very first time!

The dog jumped up on the mound and followed its length for several metres.

It seemed to be a back… the back of a leafy whale perhaps, slumbering in the coolness of the morning forest.

Backbone

I followed the spine…

… all the way to the creature’s head.

I jumped back in fright!

For this creature was no gentle whale, but a sleeping giant that I was afraid to awaken. The dark eyes, the leafy hair, the feeling of brooding.

Giant

What is this mysterious object if not a sleeping giant?

The answer will be revealed tomorrow. Until then, check out That’s my world!


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