Swedish Coffee

All my life…I have been infatuated with all things Celtic…music, knots, crosses, accents, stories, movies, names… I love Ireland and Scotland. I would be open to living in either country. I search for clues to my Scottish ancestry…even though it’s such a small percentage of who I am…and hold out hope for that illusive Irish forefather who may or may not be mine.

And all my life…I have been half Swedish. I have a grandfather, on my father’s side, who is Swedish…descended from Johansons who came a couple of generations ago to find a new life and a new name in this land across the sea.

I have a grandmother, on my mother’s side, who was born in Sweden, and left her family there when she decided to come to the US in the 40’s. She still has a delightful Swedish accent, even after all these years.

I think I have taken this Swedish heritage for granted. Perhaps because it’s been around me all my life. The dala horses on the shelf. The hand knitted sweaters that Mormor made for us kids…skills she was taught in school in Sweden when she was in the third grade. The rag rugs from her loom. Seems like we’ve always known that “Jag älskar dig” means “I love you”.

Lately though…spending more time with Mormor (mother’s mother) and reading my own mother’s genealogy research has opened my eyes and heart to all things Swedish. I’m not taking it for granted anymore. I am learning to appreciate…no, more than appreciate…I am learning to love this heritage of mine in all it’s Scandinavian glory. I want to grasp it. Learn it. Memorize it so that I can pass it along to the next generation…so that they can learn it, love it and pass it along.

Today was a beautiful day. Mormor and I had coffee with two other Swedish ladies this afternoon. The moment we stepped into M~’s door, it felt as if we were back in “the old country”. So many of her things were imported from Sweden when she moved here years ago. She has a loom, like my grandmother’s, and there are hand woven rugs and wall hangings that she has made all over her home. The beautiful tablecloth on the table was woven by this lovely Swedish woman.

There was a simplicity and a reality in her decor that I found refreshing and welcoming.

M~ is a master gardener, and everywhere I looked there was greenery, bringing the outdoors inside…breathing life into the room.

She knits beautifully, as seen by the gorgeous throw on the couch. There were candle holders and Christmas decorations scattered about…but placed so neatly and artistically. So soothingly.

The table was set, simply and perfectly. The coffee was wonderfully delicious, with a bit of cream. There were four different kinds of cookies and breads that M~ had made herself…saffron bread molded into spiral ‘s’ shapes, a kind of bread full of hazelnuts and raisins, marzipan cookies and another hazelnut cookie. All of it incredibly delectable.

They speak Swedish to each other, these three Swedes, but to be polite when I am there they speak English…and then some Swedish..and then some English again. I wish they would speak more Swedish. I love to hear them. I love to sit there and just be with these women ~ these three brave women who left their homeland for different reasons and found each other here in the hills of Arkansas. These women who get together to speak their native language so that they won’t forget it because of disuse. Who bake traditional goodies for each other so that they can sit and enjoy and remember who they are and where they were from.

I love to hear them compare stories of their growing up years and share news from home. They love the US. They are grateful to be here and would not go back to live…but they love Sweden…and blue and yellow…and a language and heritage that I am learning more and more to love.

I feel so privileged to sit with these women. Perhaps I don’t technically belong…I was born here. I don’t speak their language. I am several decades younger than they are. But these three women make me feel that I am one of them. They show me much. They let me laugh with them. They tell me their stories. They teach me where I come from, and more of who I am. I love these times with these Swedish women. I love them.

NOTE: All of the pictures I used are by the Swedish artist Carl Larsson…another thing I love about Sweden! I’m including a slideshow of just a few of his works.

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In Tera’s Words

In Tera’s Words

There are moments when one can see clearly what was and what might have been. I am exceedingly thankful for what was…and tremble to think what might have been. 

Thanking God for His mercy. And for His angels. 

Amen.

(For those few blog readers who don’t know….Tera is my sister. Jesse is my brother. Kimberly is my sister-in-law. Blake is the most adorable nephew in the world.) 

Mud and Me

My fingers are having a hard time typing tonight. They’re stiff and a bit sore. But…

I finished my first texture job! Ever. That’s amazing. Most of you don’t know how amazing. Tera does. She’s the texturer of our team. And she does a really, really good job. (Even if ‘texturer’ isn’t really a word.) I, on the other hand, have been known to try, panic, cry and die all in the space of about 30 seconds before Tera can come to my rescue and save our job from disaster. Yes, she’s good and I freak out. That’s how it’s always been.

But Tera is 359.29 miles away…to be exact. And this little bathroom needed some texture on it’s walls. And I did it. It’s done. Believe it or not…I enjoyed it. I was there and even I can’t believe that. It’s okay if you don’t.

I haven’t looked at it in the last couple of hours. Maybe all the mud as dripped. Maybe it’s falling off in huge clumps. Maybe I’ll call Tera in a panic and beg her to come up here and fix a mess. We’ll see.

I’ll post pictures of the project soon. I have to finish the job first. Tomorrow…primer and two coats of paint. Now, that I can handle…as long as that texture turns out. We’ll see…

In other news, I’ve added several inches to my scarf. I’m conquering some non-comfort-zone stuff…and that makes me smile. (Even though ‘conquering’ is a completely optimistic and hopeful word to use here.)

To Knit or to Unknit…does that have to be the question?

I am learning to knit. A scarf. A beautiful orchid purple yarn is going to become something I can wear. Or….keep just to laugh at. Or…throw away. All depends on how this goes.

This isn’t my first attempt at that ancient craft. I remember on my 18th birthday…I discovered that if I ever need a good, hard knot for anything I just need to practice knitting, and voila! It will be a knot to outlast all others. Though it made me think I could have a future in sailing or rock climbing, it discouraged me from knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, embroidering….yeah. Any of it.

But since I’m spending so much time with one of the world’s greatest knitters, I thought I’d better take advantage of the opportunity. I’m older now…and wiser…and possibly a little less clumsy. Maybe.

Grandma makes it look so easy.

“Like this, Sage.” As her skillful fingers expertly work the pattern.

 Clumsily, I give it a try.

 “No, Like this.” And quicker than I can unravel the colorful fibers, she does it again.

 “Slow down, Grandma. Please do this one very, very slowly… SLLLLOOOOWWWLLLLYYYY. Ah. Okay!  I think I have it! Let me try!”

 Nope.

 “Let me show you again. It is SO easy!”

 “For YOU it is!!!”

 “Well, sometimes when people first start, they are all fingers. Like this, Sage. Just do it like this.”

 And then after tying my tongue in knots as I laboriously twist the yarn around the needles….

 “Yes! There! You’ve got it! You’re a fast learner!”

 She goes to bed…I mess up terribly…unravel it all and try unsuccessfully for half an hour to start over. But I can’t remember how to cast on.

 So we do it all over again the next day. And I ‘learned’ even faster. Until I took it all out again.

I’ve got a few inches going now. They aren’t perfect. There are holes where I dropped a stitch here and there. Strangely enough, I cast on 24 stitches and now have 30. When I showed that to Grandma she laughed and said, “How did you do that???” Followed by a, “Don’t do that anymore, Sage.” But I don’t know HOW I did it. And if I don’t know how….how do I know how NOT to?

 As soon as I took up the needles and yarn I had a fierce desire to listen to an Agatha Christie story or two while I was being so industrious. It seemed my knitting needles SHOULD be clicking away, as any proper knitting needles would. Only…the needles I am using are not metal. They don’t click. They’re very quiet. If they did make noise though, it would be sporadic, unsure clicking…not the confident, measured rhythm that I am sure Miss Marple produces.

 The pattern I am making is very simple. One row knit. One row purl. One row knit. One row purl. I think I have that down now….but starting each row is a disaster. Every time I turn the project, I hope that it will make sense to me by some miracle. Not so.

It’s not perfect…but I’m in for the long haul. Well…not too long. I think I’ll make a short scarf. A very short one. Or….maybe a pot holder.

But someday….someday I will knit beautifully and evenly. I will knit sweaters, and baby clothes for my multitude of nieces and nephews who I KNOW are coming someday. I will knit a hideous afghan…just to say I did it. And hats and scarves and mittens and….Someday.

Someday I’m going to be JUST LIKE Miss Marple. Someday.


Unglazed

It feels like forever since I’ve posted. And yet it isn’t. Not even a month. I feel compelled to write here…though I don’t know why. I’ve opened up the “New Post” page quite often, and even started a draft or two…and that is all. I want to write…but I have nothing to share. I have much to share…but nothing to write.

If that didn’t make sense to you, don’t worry. It may very well be non-sensical. But it makes sense to me….possibly because I’m living it. Not that “living it” makes everything make sense. I wish that were true though…truly, I do!

I feel like I could go on and on in this same rambling way today. But I’ll not. Instead…I’ll share one of the assignments I wrote for the writing class I took. It’s over already, can you believe it? I miss it! I think I must take another. Yes…I think I must.

UNGLAZED

A small terra cotta pot sits on the shelf. Imperfect. Amateur. Unglazed.

I cradle it in my hands, feeling the rough ridges of the clay, placing my thumb over the impression of a misplaced fingerprint, wondering why it is unfinished.

I visualize the strong, thick hands of the man I never met, but whose eyes I have stared into, soaking up the twinkle that I see in the the old black and white photographs from the years before I was born.

He was handsome. Strong. Laughing. Loving.

He had a space between his teeth…and he left that to me. I never heard his voice, felt his hug, smelt his aftershave. He died too young, a few months before I was born…

His life seems unfinished. Unglazed.

Turning the pot over, I use my finger to trace the initials on the bottom…R.H. Robert Holland. My grandfather. I wonder why I never met him. And how life would be different if I had. But that is the past. And those questions are futile.

I form a pot…the wet clay molding to my fingers as the wheel turns. I am also a vessel. Being molded and formed and fired. I want to be used…to be loved…to fulfill the purpose The Potter has…

For now, I am imperfect. Amateur. Unglazed.