Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day
Buy the sky and
sell the sky and
ask the sky don't fall on me
- the band REM

Does anyone own the sky? When airplanes fly across the sky, they leave long white lines of exhaust, so much like clouds but too straight, too linear to be the work of mother nature. They are the work of man. Like scars across the clear blue. The exhaust clouds from airplanes insulate the earth so much they protect us from the greenhouse gas we create, so that when no planes flew for a few days after 9/11, there was a rise in the earths temperature of about one or two degrees Fahrenheit. Click here to read about this phenomenon.

So this is the problem. I love airplanes, they allow me to live across the world from my friends and family and still see them often. But they also guzzle fossil fuels and are changing the earth's climate.

It's Earth Day. And like most Earth days, I want to think of something nice to do for the planet. But I am also conflicted since it is all just so complex, since much of what I love is just bad for the world, like flying. I know I can just think of small ways to make things better and start there- compost, stop using plastic bags, bring my own cup....I know what to do. I could do more. But I also just want to acknowledge the weird feelings of overwhelm and conflict that come up for me on each Earth Day. Sure I can plant a tree, but I am likely going to drive somewhere to do it.

So Happy Earth Day- a day full of good intentions and weird conflicts, high hopes and hidden anxieties.

To observe the day, here is the perfect post modern tribute to Mama Earth. Below is a video of a famous speech usually attributed to 'Chief Seattle', a Suquamish leader that was in communication with the US government about the purchase of north western pacific lands in North America. It has since been learned that the actual response from Chief Seattle was quite different. Click here for the real text of Chief Seattle reply, that was printed in the Seattle Sunday Star on Oct. 29, 1887, in a column by Dr. Henry A. Smith, who was present for the delivery of the actual speech and based this version on notes he took on that occasion.

The words in the video below were actually written by Ted Perry in 1970 as part of the modern environmental movement. At the time Perry was a teacher at University of Texas, and was going to use the words as part of an environmental movie that was planned for the Southern Baptist Convention.

This speech hung as a poster in my house in college, and at the time I thought it was the words of the real Chief Seattle. The text is moving, regardless. The fact that it turns out it is not authentic, but is just a modern American's made up version makes it even more poignant for me. My modern world is full of copies, falsification, shams, and illusions. All the false representations that are part of our world are exactly why earth day is important to me. I have a sense you have to work to even know what is real in this world these days. I mean is that red coloring from delicious berries? Or is it from red #40, or E- some number or whatever?

The earth is real, alive, and responsive. In a plastic world, I appreciate the real live earth- her dirt and trees, plants and seas. Her berries, and the authentic sweet yummy red they offer.

Most of us long to connect to a piece of pure ancient wisdom, and to the natural world itself, but do not even know how to access it. I think we are right to suspect there has been earth wisdom lost that we can only imagine. So here it is a piece as it was imagined in 1970 by Ted Perry, and later pawned off to me as the words of Chief Seattle.

Even if things are weird, and climate change seems inevitable and unstoppable, I have a two little girls. They might grow up and have two little girls, who might have two little girls, who will want to go out and play. So you still gotta try, you still gotta do something. You still gotta think the planet is big, old, and resilient. I think she is able to absorb these anxieties of mine, and tolerate all of humanity's missteps, and still be there for us while we find our footing. So we will keep trying, no matter how hard it is to make changes in our lives, and no matter how small a difference it seems to make.

And we ask the sky, don't fall on me.
And the Next Day I felt....

Way better.

It was Saturday, and I got to sleep late, wake to a cute 4 year old inviting me for chocolate chip pancakes she made with her dad for us, a clean kitchen courtesy of the Swededaddy, and a fridge stocked with the basics thanks to the grocery truck that drives around selling food (which deserves a post of it's own). Not to mention 'Barnbidrag' the money you get for each of your kids in Sweden had magically appeared in the bank account over night, and there was another deposit from SwedeDaddy's work- money for meals the company would reimburse him for. We ended up in town, hanging on a well populated playground enjoying sun with the city dwellers, finding a great Indian lunch buffet, and eating delicious coconut Italian gelato while watching the people near the train station.

Louise Hay says when you see your good appearing, do not be discouraged and say 'But that's not enough!', instead just notice the buds of new growth and new good, and celebrate saying 'Look, it's coming!'

So I give thanks for the little buds of change literal and figurative, cheering them on knowing they are new growth of the best kind, like the first signs of spring.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Today I feel like.....

A Frumpablobbic Bozo
Pig Pen

in the Kali /Destroyer Aspect

So, sometimes everything seems like it is on the edge of unraveling. Right now it feels like that special brand chaos has returned. I gotta a touch of it in my mind, my body, and my life. And in my kitchen sink. As a kid I sometimes felt like pig pen, like there were times there was a dark cloud around me that was like a tornado of destruction. Like I had the opposite of the midas touch, I had the pig pen touch, and everything I went near would crumble. In my college years, I came to relate the feeling with the goddess Kali. There were times I would walk down the street and the street lights would literally break and go out as I walked under them. It made me wonder if there is really an electrical component to my bad ju ju days. It made me afraid to even be near the plants at times, like they were gonna just keel over at the vibe of me. And now in my mom years, I have often felt like the little girl in the bozo suit. Honk.

Today, I gotta a touch of each one in me.

So if everything feels like it is unraveling, well, isn't my own fault for mentioning the goddess Kali in my easter post??? She loves to show up when she thinks she is invited.

Our only car is (still) broken and gonna cost $4000 to fix, my dad is sick, and my kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes and globbed up with spaghetti goo and eggs because our last two meals were ones of last resort (you know you need to shop when you are down to just noodles and eggs!), and I am in the postpartum shift from 'wow, I lost so much weight so fast birthing that baby!' to 'when is the rest of it coming off? soon, please?'. It is downright frumpablobbic-pig pen-Kali-licious over here today.

So I am comforting myself with a song.

I spent an hour or more trying to figure out how to embed the song to share. But trying to figure out new technology only made me feel less organized, and more incompetent. So if I could, I would play you this song- petit poulet, or little chicken. I feel a little chicken today- the sky is falling, you know!! I will put the lyrics here instead- a little Sinead O'Connor to remind me the moon is still in the sky, and ground is still underfoot, and still holds me. And I do not need to hold up the moon myself. So go find the song online yourself, and hit play, if you wanna hear it. It is a good one.

'There isn't any answer to the question, you only learn learn to live with it. But the voices are heard of all who cry. '


Petit Poulet
by Sinead O'Connor on Gospel Oak EP

Petit poulet
Tout c'est okay
Maintenant bebe tout c'est okay
The life you left behind won't find you
The love you kept inside will come
And even when your own heart blinds you
Nothing undoes the work you've done
The sun's still in the sky
The moon is there at night
The ground is still underfoot
And still holds you
Petit poulet
Tout c'est okay
Maintenant bébé Tout c'est okay
There isn't any answer to the question
You only learn to live with it
There isn't any answer in religion
Don't believe one who says there is
But... The voices are heard
Off all who cry
I am around you as love in the night
Kissing your plight
Baby child
Kissing your plight
Kissing your plight
I am the sun up in the sky
I am the moon also at night
I am the ground under your foot
I am holding you Petit poulet
Tout c'est okay
Maintenant bébé
Tout c'est okay

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Forest is Waking Up
There is a special flower that covers the forest floor, called Vitsippa (Anemone nemorosa). They blanket the forest in white dots, thriving on the spring sunlight that shines through the bare canopy of the birches that still have not filled in. We had a nice adventure hiking a few streets back into our local forest.
Two Sets of Feet

One Brand New Fresh Set
Other set Slightly Used, 4 years old, Good condition
My Mom Came
We had a delightful visit with my mom. It was great to have an extra set of hands to hold and soothe the baby, and wash dishes. She was also the first of my Florida family or friends to see where we live. It was fun to show her around and see the landscape through fresh eyes. The Swedegirl was spoiled with tons of little gifts, a surprise for everyday! She now has curtains, too. Both the Grandmas in one place

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

(Oh is my Easter post late??? Pardon me, I was enjoying hanging out with SwedeDaddy over the four day Easter weekend everyone gets here in Sweden!!! And the 70 degree weather and sunny sunny sunshine!! And don't you just love holidays that involve eating chocolate in the morning?)

Spring Time Guises of the Wise Woman....
I love an old hag. So I am delighted to learn about the Swedish Easter witches, or Påskhäxa.

The word 'Hag' is derived from the Greek Hagios, which means holy one, or saint. This is why there are churches called the Hagia Sophia and the Hagia Demetrios. Translated into Latin, Hag becomes sanctus, the root of sanctuary and salvation. Variations of the words 'hag' have their roots in old associations with female wisdom.

Easter Lily and Pussy Willow on a shrine in Lund Cathedral
The kinda strange Puppetry Easter Scene set up in Lund's Old Cathedral
But now 'Hag' just means ugly old lady, witch. No one ever seems to know what to do about the funny old lady with cats down the road, the warty nosed neighbor picking nettles and brewing up stinky remedies with a twinkle in her eye and a cackly laugh. So the poor hag gets dismissed, feared, called a witch and burned at the stake.

Funny how the wisdom of an old woman, a hag, can become so darn scary. In the USA we evoke her at Day of the Dead at Halloween time, and her image is that of the death goddess like Kali. But even the goddess Kali is known as the creator AND destroyer. In Sweden the hag has her place in the bright sunny yellow newly sprung spring , when we celebrate the creative force of new life.

The story is that at Easter time, witches fly on their brooms overhead traveling to a gathering on the mythical island of Blue Hill. You are supposed to make bonfires from the fallen winter branches to so the witches will pass you by and make it to Blue Hill.

We find the hag image even in the mega grocery store ICA, where I found Easter witch decorations right next to the egg dyes, cutesy bunnies, and yeah, the witch costumes. We should have known there were witchy orgins of Easter, huh? It is the only christian holiday still observed based the lunar calendar. When you celebrate fertility it only makes sense to nod towards wise women and the cycles of the moon. In Sweden at Easter, children dress like witches and go door to door. Basically, they trick or treat at Easter! The specifics are that the Thursday before Good Friday, children dress like little witches in costumes of aprons, head scarves, and paint their faces with red cheeks and freckles, and carry a broom. They go door to door midday, delivering Easter cards and are given a treat or a coin. Swedegirl did not participate this year, as we were a bit foggy on how it really worked, and hated to send the poor girl out to participate in a tradition we did not get totally, lest we make some cultural faux pas.

Just when you thought the holiday melding of trick or treating with Easter was novel, how putting up an Easter tree? It's not at all like a Christmas tree, but decorating tree branches is another Swedish Easter tradition. Usually birch branches or pussy willow branches are placed in a vase and decorated with colorful Easter feathers. Sometimes, colored eggs are used to decorate the tree as well. We had fun painting small wooden eggs, and found some cool old feathered Easter eggs we put up on our 'Easter tree'. So we had witches, feathered eggs, and lots of lovely yellow daffodils decorating the house. A perfectly tacky immigrant's interpretation of Swedish Easter.

Another Swedish Tradition, honking big paper eggs filled with treats...Just the right size for the new baby! This one ended up in Swedegirls basket filled with the American Easter treats the Easter bunny, or my mom, brought from the USA

The Easter decorations just mimic mother nature, the original wise old crone, who is blessing us with lots of sunlight, yellow flowers, and feathers blowing around from molting birds who are tweeting and nesting all around us at this time of the year.We even have some very persistent magpies that are trying to nest in our chimney. Swedegirl sings up the chimney every time we hear them come around......

And of course we did the traditional American egg dying, too!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Glad Påsk - Happy Easter !

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Spring Sprung
One month.

My baby is almost a month old! She has gained about two pounds, and can hold her head up well, and gives lovely milky smiles.

I have been busy relaxing to recover. I had a bad back injury after birth last time, so I am trying to be very careful and actually take it easy. I have ingrained in me the 40 days of rest and recuperation that midwife Robin Lim encourages in her book 'After the Baby's Birth' that keeps with the traditions of many cultures around the world in that it is desirable to protect and guard the energy of the mother and baby in their newly born, wide open state. So we have made one trip to the grocery store, and a trip into town and to visit relatives for dinner yesterday. We are primarily in a state of cocooning over here. I am doing alot more this week, but still sticking close to home.

And my mom is visiting now from the USA.

But I am also having a blog identity crisis. Is this a blog to keep my family updated? A birth topic blog, since I am a midwife? An expat blog? A mom blog? All of the above. But the diversity of my ruminations make it kind of none of the above. I am thinking of splitting my writing, family stuff one place, Sweden stuff elsewhere, birth things elsewhere? But who is made of these really clear distinctions?

I kind of fantasize about just a straight Sweden-only blog, almost like it would just be more impersonal travel writing. But I also like to share the world through the eyes of our family, and our particular view of things- the friends, relationships, and passions particular to us. We will see how I feel when I get to writing more again.

Maybe it's just a reflection of my postpartum lack of identity- I planned to come to Sweden and have a baby. Now I have a baby. So, my thinking is moving towards what next, even if I am not ready to make a move just yet.