life

The man with the silver cane

Last week, it was Valborg. There we were, entranced by the fire: faces toasty hot; backs chilly in the cold of the evening.

He was standing next to us: an old man with a face whose map showed each mountain range climbed, each river sailed upon and each new path explored. The wrinkles spoke of adventure and spirit as did his twinkling eyes.

His child-like spirit shone through, diminishing his age as gnarled hands rested on the silver-topped cane. The spellbound kids listened as he told us wild tales of how – back in the 1960s – he had stood on this same spot in a snowstorm,  and with snow higher than the tops of his boots, as they lit the bonfire and sung songs about spring.

“It was a crazy year!” he declared laughing.

When I asked him if his cane was magic, he said that yes, it was. Inside the mundane exterior, he kept his magic wand. He didn’t use it every day, but took it out to spread magic around on special occasions.

I came to think of how this old man was just like his cane: an ordinary old man on the outside, with a heart of gold and wondrous tales to tell on the inside.

That is, after all, the magic and beauty of life, don’t you think?


The good, the rad and the ugly

The good: I’m in heaven! I won a stunning pair of earrings from Mid-life Bloggers. A girl can never have too many earrings (or chocolate)!

The rad: After football practice, Anklebiter #2 came home hungry and thirsty. When I offered him a biscuit to go with his water, he said, “No. I want a carrot please!” That’s right – carrots are the new candy!

The ugly: A long winter season means indoor activities like football and floor hockey – and when I say indoors, I mean in our smallish living room. (We even have an ice hockey goal indoors.) Oh, the drama and fun we’ve had… but also some terrible losses. Here’s one of the poor victims of living room hockey…

At least the rest of us still have all our teeth intact.


Of great art and snow

While most of you have been out delighting in the new buds of spring, Sweden has been celebrating in style.

That’s right – someone forget to send Nature the memo about it being spring. Instead, we received several days of snow, blizzards and howling winds.

Which turned out to be a blessing. The anklebiters rushed out in the weekend storm, excited to be a part of creating this great snow sculpture. Don’t you think it looks a bit like Rodin’s Thinker?


It was too dark to take a shot when they had finished, so I crept out with my camera on a glorious sunny morning. (Sir Pe refused to come out in his dressing gown so I could show you just how big this snow sculpture is!)

The view blew away my grumpiness at the lingering winter.

The first blush of dawn on the new snow. The lake with its frosted topping stretching to the church, and beyond that to a sky with a dazzling sun.

As my Edward Monkton card declares:

May the happiness of the Happy Snowman never melt in the WARM and LOVELY garden of your HEART.

For more spring-like skies, please visit: Skywatch!


In which I describe how attractive I am…

It’s been one of those weeks.

The dog gets mauled and my body decides to strike in sympathy.

What started out as a simple case of Athlete’s Foot (in me, not the dog – no athletics required) decided to blow itself up (almost literally) into something much worse. It got infected and turned my foot into a painful red balloon. Squeezing on my boot was pathetically like an elephant trying to put on Cinderella’s delicate glass slipper.

Then, to top it all off, my body erupted into hundreds of tiny and very itchy red dots – literally covering me everywhere from the neck downwards. According to the doctor it’s a viral rash… Yes, it seems as if I might be allergic to my own feet. Which is inconvenient – not to mention self-de-feet-ing.

Oh – and did I mention that these spots itch with the ferocity of a million fire ant bites?

Hundreds of the spots have migrated overnight to form cartels and red angry continents. I think I spotted Africa on my inner thigh, and Australia is fighting with North America for domination of my neck.

I know – I really am looking very attractive at the moment. Still, I’m the only person I know who has her own portable dot-to-dot drawing all over her body.

So, bring along your crayons and we’ll have a spot the spot party.


Making the breast of things

The wonderful singer Lhasa de Sela died at the age of 37 from breast cancer. This got me thinking that it was time to book myself a mammogram. After all, caught in time, breast cancer doesn’t have to be a killer.

I had heard vague rumours about the procedure but nothing to worry about. Although perhaps that sign in the changing room that said something about using air pressure and ‘the breasts can stand it’ might have been a warning…

I took off my top and stood there in front of a gleaming white machine with see-through plates. I soon found myself hugging the machine in some kind of weird pole-dancing posture while the nurse grinded the plates against my breast bone while jamming my breast uncomfortably between the plates.

Now, as flat as a pancake is not an expression I normally associate with breasts – well, not since school anyway! As the plates squashed together mechanically so that not even a pin would fit in there, the nurse came and tightened them even further for good luck – and I had the rather disturbing experience of feeling my boobs run out onto those plates like thin crepes.

After two X-rays, I started putting my top on. “Hang on!” the nurse cried out merrily. “Two more to go!” Ah – they squash the boobs laterally first and then horizontally. “Some people take aspirins before they come!” she said. (Now you tell me!) By now my boobs were running over those plates like batter. Who knew they could get that thin – and bounce back to normal size afterwards?

Five minutes and it was all over. And to be honest, a visit to the dentist is far more painful!

So, if you are aged 40 or above, make sure you book yourself in for a mammogram. After all, it’s all about one of the most important things in your life: your health!


Feet in the clouds

It is cold and snowy. The bitter wind blows the snowflakes into my face as I plod homewards with the kids. Going from school to home along the slippery pavement requires effort and concentration.

Head downwards, I concentrate on my shoes – and my troubles. I will my feet to stay rooted to the pavement, pray for gravity to pull me pavementwards, to anchor me…

Suddenly, from behind me, sweet singing soars upwards, like balloons filled with musical air flying up, upwards to meet the snow and the stars.

It is the children, singing a song to welcome in the winter, to embrace the snow, to dance on the wind.

I look up and smile.

My feet are free from their tethers and I lose myself in that single snow-filled magical moment of song and joy.

It is only a moment, yet it is my whole world.


Colours on my mind

The weather has been grey – both within and without.

But then I decided to open my eyes, to look out and seize the beauty of a moment or two.

Red

To drink in this glorious blaze before the fade, where trees rise up from golden pools of light like graceful girls with flaming red hair.

Ablaze

I walked on the golden carpet, focused inwards… Then I looked up and saw I was surrounded by a halo of light, a tunnel of friendly leaves.

Fire

So, drink in the colours, apply the balm to your soul and celebrate the autumn – which blazes so magnificently as it slowly fades away.

For more great posts, please visit: That’s My World!


Oh, that glorious light

Summer in Sweden means a lot of things: mosquito bites, ticks, wild raspberries, garlands of flowers and, of course, those long heavenly evenings when it never really gets dark.

House_sun

In fact, in the north of Sweden, the sun never goes down below the horizon at all. It is called the Midnight Sun. It is quite an experience to be able to read without lights on at three o’clock in the morning! (Of course, the opposite is also true in the winter when the sun doesn’t peek above the horizon and they live their days in perpetual twilight.)

TreeHere in the Stockholm region, the sun dips below the horizon for two or three hours, and the eerie white light of night turns a little duskier for a few  hours. Then, the sun climbs up into the sky again and the birds start twittering (that’s the birdsong variety not the online one!) at about four o’clock.

How do you get to sleep? The answer is: with difficulty.

When I first came to Sweden 12 years, it was summer and light. All the time. My body wasn’t used to all this glorious around-the-clock light and I couldn’t sleep for more than three hours every night. This went on for what felt like months, but was probably only a couple of weeks.

I steadily got more and more tired.

Then, one evening, I collapsed on the bed at 6 pm and slept the whole night long.

After that experience, I was cured.

The jetty near our house on a summer's evening

The jetty near our house on a summer's evening

For more insights into the different parts of the world, check out: That’s My World!


Scott, Webs and Banknotes

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.
Scottish author & novelist (1771 – 1832)

Web

As I walked out one misty morning, I saw a whole field of cobwebs glittering in the sun – caught there on the wire netting of the football field!

Naturally, the quotation above came to mind as it if so familiar.

And true.

Do you know why Sir Walter Scott appears on Scottish banknotes?
Because back in 1826, the UK Parliament threatened to get rid of any notes under the value of £5, provoking an outrage in Scotland. Using the pseudonym Malachi Malagrowther (quite a mouthful!), Scott penned a series of letters explaining why Scottish banks should retain the right to issue their own banknotes. There was such a strong reaction to these letters that the government was forced to allow Scottish banks to print their own £1 notes.

So, in order to commemorate Scott’s efforts, he still appears on banknotes issued by the Bank of Scotland to this very day.

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It might also be wise, however, to remember this:

“In the spiderweb of facts, many a truth is strangled.”

- Paul Edridge

Words on Wednesday (but probably a lot shorter than this one) – inspired by Muddy Boot Dreams


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.


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