Saturday, July 18, 2009

Welcome Charlottte Elizabeth!

My sister had a baby July 13th, and this sweet new neice is Charlotte, from Charlotte, NC. Congratulations, sister. Charlotte and her sister Victoria now both bear the names of queens and geographial locations.
Isn't she cute?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hedgehog Medicine:
Rising American Maternal Mortality rates,
and a call for the help of any quilters out there.

When I was talking to my friend Laura at Snip-n-Snail (click for link) about The Remembering the Mothers Quilt Project (click for link) (a quilt to remember american women who have did in childbirth) I kept seeing hedgehogs. Suddenly, they were all over my backyard!

I have never in my life seen a hedgehog before.

When an animal makes itself very obvious to me, or gets my attention like that, I like to receive it as a message. I google animal medicine or totem for that animal, and see what it's meaning has been to cultures that believe mother earth is a living, communicative being.

Here is what I found about hedgehog- it is the symbol of elder female wisdom. It is associated with fertility, and also the sun since it comes out in the summer season. Since it is nocturnal, and has poor vision, it is associated with psychic ability, prophetic dreams and visions, and particularly the knowledge of the weather, and knowing when it will rain. It is immune to snake venom, and so it is a native American symbol of the triumph over evil, and the defeat of death.

The animal walks close to the earth, and knows how to center itself by curling into the fetal position. It knows how to protect itself, and keep its environment clear of threatening energies, and always lands on it's feet. It is a symbol of the balance in work and play- being resourceful, strong, but playful.

Laura is planning a panel with the support of one of the founders of The National Organization for Women to bring attention to the very high and rising maternal mortality in the USA, and the utter lack of any tracking of the actual numbers or causes. Ina May Gaskins, midwife/ female elder conceived of The Remembering the Mothers quilt project to bring attention to this issue and will sit on the panel. The panel will be on November 1st in Sarasota, Florida, which is also the day of the dead. A good day to remember the mothers that have died. It will be a landmark forum, as previously this issue has received little attention from the feminist leadership and has not been recognized as the public health crisis it is with in the USA. It is an issue of global interest, as American birth practices are getting very bad results for both mothers and babies on a public health level (evidenced by the highest infant mortality and morbidity rates of the western world), yet the american birth models and practices are still being copied by other countries through out the world.

I hope they are blessed by 'hedgehog medicine' in their endeavor. That they walk with the wisdom of female elders, and can 'defeat death' by bringing awareness to the issue of high/climbing American maternal mortality rates, and lower them. And that Laura can protect herself, be balanced, and have fun along the way.

If you are a quilter, or know one, please ask them to contact Laura and help "Remember the Mothers" by making a quilt square for a woman who has died giving birth in the USA in the last 30 years (click here for link).

This post (click for another link) is a call to for quilters to help creates squares to remember women, and has specific names of women who need to be represented in a special quilt dedicated to women who have died of amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) . AFE was once a very rare complication that has now become staggeringly common and is suspected to be an (as of yet unrecognized) complication of induction of labor, specifically assocaited with the use of the prostaglndin drug cytotec. Laura has not gotten the quick response she has anticipated from quilters on this, so please do what you can, and pass the word on to freinds that can help so this project can be completed soon.

Fotevikens Museum:
The Viking Museum If you want to live like a Viking, Fotevikens is the place to be. Every summer this viking museum offers for people to come inhabit it's historical viking town, so long as they act like a viking all summer long. Click here to learn how to become a viking for a summer.

From the website:
"The Village community of Foteviken
In 2001 the development of The Viking Reserve had proceeded far enough for the establishment of a village community. In November 2001 The Village Community of Foteviken called "Byalaget" was founded. As a member of The SVEG you have the right to apply for membership in the village community. The village community congregates every month. At these meetings everybody participating are dressed in their Viking costumes of course.

As a new member of the village community, you will belong to a Viking Age household and get the possibility to learn and develop your talents and skills concerning different Viking Age techniques and activities, which you find interesting and fascinating. There are many interesting activities to participate in, like fighting, sailing a Viking ship, pottery, coining, smithery, sawing, tanning and building houses."
We stopped by for market day. The weaver we spoke to from Germany called it by far the best expereince of it's type for crafts people. I asked about Visby, Gotland and she said that place is for Japanesse tourists, that this place was the real thing for people who wanted to, whatever you call spending a summer acting like a viking. Oh. then I took a picture of her hand spun, plant dyed yarn.

She was most proud of this. I think these colors are hard to acheive.
There were kitchens set up all over with hung, cast iron pots on open fires. The folks were making a bunch of sausages. I kinda guess they probably killed the beast and stuffed its guts full of meat themselves.
Don't tell PETA. This fur trader sold bear claws, thats what those are right next to those foxes. There was also seal skin for sale.
For your viking hunting pleasure, there were many arrows, look at all these tips...and for battle, swords and armor.
Swimming Pool in Sweden
It's freaking cold, 72 degrees or so, but knowing the village pool is only open June 15- August 15th, and that is all the sun and pool we will get for the year is motivating. So we get in anyway. Brrrrrr. With some days in the 80's with no air conditioning, though, it can actually feel pretty good!And it is keeping us happy while dagis/ preschool is closed for summer.
The pool is really to cold for the baby to swim comfortably in, but she does not mind a quick dip. Swedegirl was far better in the water at this age, just from more frequent exposure and better temperatures. We may just have to consider paying the $150 for baby swim lessons, just to have access to a warmer pool. They heat up indoor pools for baby swim.

Currant Events
The Berries are ripe!!! In our yard we have a gorgeous patch of red currants, black currants, and green and red gooseberries. We picked 4 pounds of ruby red currants, and still have that many more to pick. There are wild cherries trees all over the village. All those pretty flower blossoms turned into yummy cherries ripe for the picking!
There are also wild raspberries to be had, which can be found on the forest path as we walk in the neighborhood. But on a whim, in celebration of berry season, we decided we would stop at the berry patch and self pick some raspberries. They also have currants, gooseberries, and strawberries. What do you do with a bunch of of ripe berries? Stick 'em in a bowl, and just gobble them up! And the best news? Still more to come. The blackberry bushes in the yard are just getting flowers still...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Swedish National Anthem:
Dancing Queen
July 4th may have been for the USA, but July 5th was for Sweden. We went to see ABBA. Or at least the ABBA cover band "Waterloo". Swedes really, really, really love ABBA. Who does not love ABBA, with their matching outfits and coordinated dance moves?

The love runs so deep, it can be banked on. In Sweden at Christmas in the big box electronic stores, there were video game X-Boxes piled high in the aisles for sale, just like in the USA. But on the packaging was none other than ABBA. While the US Christmas edition of the game player was released with "Kung-Fu Panda"- a game that combines the appeal of an animated blockbuster movie with street fighting, the Swedish x-Box was sold with ABBA Karaoke, so you can sing along with all your favorite ABBA hits. This pretty much sums up the difference in Swedish culture and American culture.

USA: animated street fight starring Angelina Jolie. Bomb Iraq.
Sweden: sing-a-long, and imagine you are the girl with golden hair. Remain politically neutral, accept refugees from all over the world.

My husband imparted this Swedish love of ABBA to our daughter, who was thrilled when one year ago, just before we moved to Sweden, we were able to see the ABBA cover band Waterloo on their American tour in the USA. She was even more delighted when last week, almost one year to the day after her first "Waterloo" show, we were given free tickets to go see them locally in an outdoor amphitheater. Bad weather did not stop the fun.

Here is the crowd doing the 'Swedish finger dance' to Mama Mia..See how they suddenly lose control, with the fire that is in their soul?

We sat enjoying the show with our friends from Australia and Ireland. It was fun to realize that all three of us, from different parts of the world, could still share in this common experience of growing up knowing ABBA songs. The Australian recounted how in her school, you were either an ABBA fan or a KISS fan, the camps were very clearly defined. That at six, she had gone to see ABBA, and now, at 6 her daughter was able to see this show, coming full circle. The girls had a blast, and at just age 4 and 6, both of the girls have the box set of ABBA songs in their homes, and know every word of every song. It was great to them mouth along to the words from their seats, and share their glee with one another when they recognised the first few bars of a favorite song. Soon the excitement over took them, and with out any adult help, they walked down the stands, made their way to the front row, and like true groupies, sang, danced, and waved at the band from the front row. Swedegirl got at least three special, right-at-her waves from the band during the performance. One was caught here on film!

When we saw Waterloo last year, Swedgirl was so mesmerized she asked if she could meet them. We stayed afterwards, and met Ulf Peterson, an original ABBA member, the drummer, and the blond lead singer and her little baby. For months Swedegirl would pretend I was "the ABBA lady", as in "Ok, you be the ABBA lady, and I...." "ABBA Lady" is right up there with Cinderella for her, and having met her before, Swedegirl hoped for such luck once again. She managed to get backstage, with little buddy, to say hi this time too.

You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life! See that girl, watch that scene, digging the Dancing Queen:
And when Dancing Queen came on, all those poncho clad Swedes stood up, and started dancing, and I was sure that that 'seeing ABBA live' like this was truly a cultural experience, and that Dancing Queen must in fact be the Swedish National Anthem.

I recall declaring one day when standing in the impossibility long school lunch line that I was going to marry a man named ABBA. Since my maiden name starts with 'S' and I was forever at the end of the line. I reasoned with that as a last name I'd always be the first in line. Perhaps, in someway, I did marry a man named ABBA, when I married a Swede.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Fourth of July Barbeque Party
It is great to be away from my country and see it with fresh eyes. It's been nearly a year since we moved from Florida to Sweden, and we were finally ready to have a party and celebrate. What better day than Independence Day! There were two Americans other than me at the party- a mom from Florida we met on-line who is married to a Swede, and our cyclist guest- my brother in laws uncle. It was a nice excuse to invite the neighbors over, and we had some English speaking friends over as well. There were more Irish, Australians, and Brits than Americans. So we put on a traditional 'ethnic' feast of BBQ pork, chicken (using the BBQ sauce I had my mom bring in her suitcase), coleslaw, corn on the cob (had to look hard for that at a decent price!), potato salad, baked beans (from scratch, nothing like that here!, homemade claussen-like dill pickles, chocolate chip cookies, lemonade, and popsicles. Our guests brought great food, too. My Swedish brother in law brought jello, as a novelty and tribute to America, which the Swedes find the most baffling item in the american section of the store!

It was hot and sunny, and we had kiddie pools and a slip n slide going