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?


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