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It is been a long time since my latest post, and the absence has been totally unplanned. It is not that my pen has totally dried out – I have been leaving a verbal imprint on different platforms – or that there are not things that I would like to vent; it has rather been a matter of a shifting focus. I have been leading a quite robotic life with daily commuting and yoga practice. I thought I should oil the blogging machine and see where it takes me, so I will reboot by writing a general update, just as a way of  think I need it myself, to see where I am at…

When do you start your day?
Early. I am in between jobs, so technically I could sleep in, but I usually wake up sometime around 05:00 am. I make myself a big cup of cocoa, park myself on my bed and work on something or read for a while. It has become a moment a look forward to. I am lucky I can rest a bit before I officially kick start my day and eventually get on my yoga mat…

Any good reads lately?
I love a good book. I have always been an avid reader. Some years ago I had a reading break that lasted for quite a while, but luckily I resumed reading and haven’t stopped since. I have always had an ability to pick interesting books, judging them by the cover and the title, picking up the vibes, and I have almost never made a literary choice that I have been disappointed in. Lately however, my choices have been mediocre. I cannot seem to find a book that will really captivate me.The best book I have read lately is All Inclusive, by Swedish author Hans Gunarsson; a quite intriguing  piece of fiction. Now I am reading Measuring time by Helon Habila. So far, so good.

What have you been cooking?
I have been experimenting with my vegetarian and gluten-free cooking as usual and food-blogging. I have been creating new things and re-visiting old recipes. Staple food right now are sourdough bread and waffles. There is always a sourdough starter in the fridge which I am feeding, if not daily, then on an every second day basis. Of course, there are a lot of vegetables involved and I am trying to make the best out of everything seasonal. I hate food-waste and I am at my most creative when taking care of leftovers.

Ongoing projects?
For the past two months at least, my kitchen has been partly converted to a plant nursery. I have been watching seeds turn into seedlings, growing into promising little plants and then witnessing some of them getting sick and wither. I have always had respect for mother nature, but being an amateur urban gardener is really making me all the more humble. I am discovering diseases that I did not know existed. Unfortunately plants fall prey to all sorts of different parasites that feed of their amazing life-force. It is a learning progress laced with disappointment and joy and I have spent lots of hours tending to my green friends. The most time-consuming phase of growing your own food is that of preparation and that is where you have to be a step ahead. Weeding and digging are probably my favourite gardening activities, because despite a complaining lower back, results are immediately visible. The journey from seed to harvest is long and full of unforeseen events, but I am telling myself that it is a lesson of patience and also a learning process…

Summer plans?
Job-seeking is an ongoing element of course, but other than that my plans include lots of yoga, long walks, being out in the forest, listening to the absolute silence, going on some trips, spending time with family, meeting up with friends and completing the project I have named as “harmony in every corner“. I moved into my apartment last autumn, but I have not had the time to really think about how I want to organise my space in detail. So now that I have some time on my hands I am going through cupboards and closets, sorting things, reorganising them, deciding what I want to keep and what I want to give away. It’s a very nice way of take care of any mental clutter at the same time as caring for your habitat – recommended.

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Epiphany. A day of revelations.

The first thing I realised today was that one pair of woolen socks does not suffice  when the temperature drops down to -15 degrees Celsius. This was made quite clear on my 40-min walk from the central station to the yoga studio this morning to attend a workshop.

I passed by a Roma woman who was sitting on the snow, her legs covered with a layer of plastic for some well-needed insulation. As my toes were going numb, my heart went out to her. If begging for alms seated on a thick layer of ice is considered an option, there can’t be that many good alternatives to fall back on.

My toes eventually thawed and the yoga session felt great; on the train back home, I  was watching the white landscape unfold before my eyes and felt uplifted and content; not much beats a post-yoga train-ride through a crisp winter scenery. I was sipping on my tea, reveling at the experience, there and then.

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I got home in the early afternoon and started cooking for five grown-ups and a baby girl. As usual, my niece took my apartment by storm. A little hurricane of joy and toddler energy, she tirelessly entertained us and herself for several hours.

We finally managed to have the dinner we had had to postpone due to sickness  and my guests all seemed happy with the meal. My youngest invitee asked for a second and third serving of desert and drank red tea out of a big cup.

Speaking of epiphanies, she sure is one. It is quite amazing to watch her learn and grow into a little person with whom you can converse.

Her vocabulary grows by the day with new verbs, substantives, adjectives and mini phrases constantly surfacing. Call, clean, wave, sleep, bang, clap, cheer, shower, jump, sit, thank you, eye, mouth, nose, ear, belly, hair, doll, ball, chair, teddy-bear, (pony)tail, bangle, ear-ring, watch, flower, lamp, cheese, egg, sausage, ice-cream, water, milk, pain, desert, all kinds of animals and animal sounds – the list is long…

Her eighteen-month big hug is the sweetest of all things sweet. She points her finger and touches my eyes, nose, mouth, ears and hair as she verbalises what she sees. She plays with my ponytail and laughs. She plays hide and seek. She feeds her stuffed animals. She makes them read books, puts them to sleep, tucks them in. She climbs up and down my armchairs and sofa and makes herself comfortable on my pillows.

Children really do remind us of the essence of life and that’s a cliche worth saying aloud, because it’s true. Quantum leaps, time capsules and baby nieces. The Universe moves in mysterious ways and winks at us as it manifests through the seemingly mundane.

And now, the weekend…

I am a new commuter with already set habits. Habits and routines are made to create structure but also to be broken, right?

It’s true that at the end of my working day I want to go home. Therefore, going to a yoga class after work and catching a late train back has been something of a project and a mental process.


I think that I am on the verge of creating a new sporadic routine though: leaving a bit later from the office and having a cup of tea at a coffee shop next to the studio. After the yoga class, a brisk walk to the station to catch the 19.45 train.

There is something particularly cosy about taking my evening meal in the calm wagon looking into the falling darkness. I am making a meaningful exception that confirms and challenges the rule. Until it’s time to shake things up again.

I don’t like leaving.

This does not mean that I do not like arriving, traveling or returning. But leaving always stresses me a bit, most probably because of everything I want to have done before.

I like to pack as orderly as I can and leave some kind of order behind me. So today I finished packing, waxed my legs, vacuumed while swearing profusely at the disobedient vacuum-cleaner letting off some steam and washed the dishes. I showered, blow-dried my hair and had lunch. I placed my lunch boxes in my ruck-sack and shook out the tiny gravel that inhabits our shoes these days.

Here I want to add that I am going away just around the corner for a yoga weekend workshop. I am looking forward to it, that’s not the issue. Once I am there, I will love it, but right now, I would much rather cuddle with my little baby niece.

Well, what to do? We all have our small weak spots and traumas. Mine comes from the millions of times – exaggerating of course – that I had to part from family during my child-and early adulthood. So yes, most things have a reason…That said, imagine how it must feel to leave everything behind to save your life and that of your family’s. Bears no comparison *watch this*.

Now I am winding up things and feeling almost cool. A few details need to be taken care of….and done! Now things look neat, I don’t look bad myself and I am soon off on a walk in the sunshine to the train station.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!

 

Climate march, 22 September 2014…A unifying cause that should make each and every one of us go out on the streets and show that we care.

However, the question remains. Why do we need to go on marches to defend what is obvious, namely the right to a world were private interests are not short-sighted and detrimental to society as a whole?

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I get particularly annoyed with things like: plastic packaging that calls itself recyclable but which cannot be recycled were you live because of missing infrastructure. Yet it can make its way around the internal EU market with its little misleading bent arrow-logo, no problem, no frontiers, no hassle. Another great example are all the products, from food to clothes, that are full to the brim with unsolicited  and oftentimes dangerous chemicals, made with TLC for shiny happy people with first world problems. Not to mention all the plastic bags used to carry all the stuff we waste our money on.

The truth is that I don’t want to make approximate, almost good choices, limited by my means, my access to information, and what is on offer.

I want industry and policy makers to once and for all take their responsibility and make sure not to inundate the market with inappropriate merchandise and services, that’s what I want. Because for every relatively informed consumer there must be hordes of people who still live in the Dark Ages of consumerism  and that will not make it to the Renaissance unless something drastic happens.

I want quality and reason in an Εnlightened consumer society may be, but  that is made up of citizens.

 

In memoriam

We are standing on a sloping rock. You are thin and tall. I am surprised that you can stand without support. Your body is  bare. Your skin has a beautiful glow. You are giving me directions. You know the way. The landscape is framed by two rocks. In front of us there is a deep, still and perfectly clear sea. The water is shimmering in turquoise and golden shades. At the bottom I can see a huge and shiny conch shell. You walk down the rock. I am following. You stagger a bit. You scare me. Your unsteady steps are sped up by the downward slope, but you do not fall. Instead, you silently disappear into the deep sea.

I know this is not an ordinary dream. As soon as I can, I take the train to visit you on a bright, late January day. Your cousin Karin joins us and we spend time together in the well-known living room.

A week ago, I take the same morning train to see you. Only now you are in a hospital bed. Again, I have arranged to come and see you with Karin.  It’s a Saturday. On the way to the hospital, Karin buys a bouquet of orange-yellow tulips.

You’re frail as a bird but so dear anyway. The Olympics show on TV. You can only hear of course. Your sight is blurry. You hush us when we speak louder than the commentators.

When Karin passes on greetings from a hundred year-old relative who wants to see you once you get well, you laugh and say that ours is a ”nice family“.

I dab your lips. You want to drink but can not swallow. You want to have “breakfast” but your breathing is becoming too difficult. I realise that your body has fulfilled its mission on earth.

I pat you on the hair, shoulder, knee. You are not an old man anymore, but a young child ready to be cradled by a nurturing embrace.

And so grandfather, you disappear between two trains. In a small hospital room, surrounded by a dear cousin, a granddaughter and three nurses. You’ve always enjoyed the company of women, haven’t you? The space around you is filled with love and care. The nurse who has been trying to keep you alive has tears in her eyes. I hug her because I am grateful that she is right here with you, with us.

Mom who visited you the day before was amazed by how you thanked the personnel that took care of you, even in that state of weakness and tiredness, when your body and mind must have been in protest. “That is something that I am taking with me” she said.

Yes, even in your last hours, you were patting the nurses tenderly on the shoulder when they were taking care of you.

What blows my mind is how easy you made ​​it for me. You let me accompany you to the brink of the water. Then you disappeared, in stillness and silence. Without ever being a burden to any of us. Everything I have ever done for you suddenly feels so small. Maybe you knew how much I have always feared this separation. Was this your providence? Maybe this is how the elders protect their younger kin for as long as they can.

We are walking together on a rocky hill. You are thin and tall. Your skin is bare as a baby’s. I am surprised that you can stand up without support.

You turn towards me to give me directions. You know the way, but where you’re going, I can not follow. Our paths diverge.

You take a few tentative steps. You scare me. Your unsteady steps are sped up by the downward slope, but you do not fall. Instead, you silently disappear into the deep cosmic ocean.

In silence and stillness.

Little I whom you used to lift up on the roof of a green Volvo, little I who could climb on you, was there.

I am forever grateful for all the love and respect you have shown me. I am so happy to have had you in my life for so long. For all the memories I can pass on. Memories of a jazz-loving family man, enthusiastic engineer, builder, inexperienced cook and steadfast life-companion.

Wonderful friend. Boy from Vallvik.


Thank you.


( I am dedicating Eroll Garner’s “Full moon and empty arms” to you; forever associated with you. )

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Till åminnelse

Vi står på en sluttande klippa. Du är smal och lång. Jag förundras över att du går utan stöd. Din kropp är bar och din hud har ett vackert lyster. Du förklarar åt vilket håll vi måste gå. Du kan vägen. Två klippor ramar in bilden. Framför oss öppnar sig ett hav. Vattnet är djupt, stilla och alldeles klart. Det skimrar i turkosa och gyllene skiftningar. På botten syns en stor blank trumpetsnäcka. Du går nedåt. Jag följer efter. Du vacklar lite. Dina steg är ostadiga. Jag får hjärtat i halsgropen. Du får fart i nedförsbacken, men du faller inte. Du försvinner ljudlöst in i det djupa havet.

 Jag vet att detta inte är en vanlig dröm. Så fort jag kan tar jag tåget för att hälsa på dig en ljus dag i januari. Din kusin Karin ansluter sig och vi umgås i sällskapsrummet.

 För en vecka sen tar jag samma morgontåg för att hälsa på dig. Men nu är du sjuk och ligger på en sjukhusbädd. Det är jag och Karin som råkar hälsa på nu igen. Det är en lördag. Karin köper med sig orangegula tulpaner på vägen.

 Du är nätt som en fågel men så fin ändå. OS går på TV. Du kan ju förstås bara höra. Synen är suddigt. Du hyschar till oss när vi överröstar sändningen.

 När Karin hälsar från en hundraårig släktning som vill titta in hos dig så snart du blir frisk skrattar du och säger att ”vi har en fin släkt”.

 Jag baddar dina läppar. Du vill dricka men kan inte svälja. Du vill ha ”frukost”, men din andning blir för svår. Jag inser att din kropp har gjort sitt på denna jord.

 Jag klappar dig på håret, axeln, knät. Du är inte en gammal man längre, utan ett litet barn som ska vaggas av en omhuldande famn.

 Och så morfar försvinner du mellan två tåg. I ett avhägnat utrymme, omgärdad av en kär kusin, en dotterdotter och tre sköterskor. Du har ju alltid gillat kvinnligt umgänge, eller hur? Rymden omkring dig är fylld av kärlek och omsorg. Sköterskan som har försökt hålla dig vid liv har tårar i ögonen. Jag omfamnar henne och är tacksam över att just hon är där med dig, med oss.

 Mamma som besökte dig dagen innan förbryllades över hur du tackade personalen när de tog hand om dig även när det var ansträngande för din trötta och sjuka kropp. ”Det är något jag tar med mig” , sa hon.

 Ja, in i det sista klappade du ömt sköterskorna på axeln när de pysslade om dig.

 Det jag förundras över är hur du gjorde det så lätt för mig. Du lät mig följa med dig till vattenbrynet. Sedan försvann du, ljudlöst och kravlöst. Utan att någonsin vara en börda för någon av oss. Det känns som om allt jag någonsin gjort för dig är så litet. Du kanske visste hur rädd jag alltid varit för detta avsked. Var detta din försyn? Det är kanske så de äldre beskyddar sina ”små” så länge de bara kan.

 Vi går tillsammans på en klippig backe. Du är smal och lång. Din hud är bar som ett barns. Jag förundras över att du kan stå upp utan stöd.

 Du vänder dig om mot mig som går bakom dig och förklarar åt vilket håll vi måste gå. Du kan vägen, men dit du ska kan jag inte följa med dig, här skiljs våra vägar åt.

 Du tar några trevande steg. Du vacklar lite. Jag får hjärtat i halsgropen. Du faller inte, men får fart i nedförsbacken och försvinner in i den kosmiska oceanen.

 Ljudlöst och stilla.

 Lilla jag som blev lyft upp på taket av en grön Volvo och som kunde klättra på dig var där.

 Jag är dig evigt tacksam för all kärlek och respekt. Jag är så glad över att ha fått ha dig så länge i mitt liv. För alla de minnen som jag kan föra vidare. Minnen av en jazzälskande och familjekär man, entusiastisk ingenjör, hemmafixare, oerfaren kock och trofast livspartner.

Fina vän. Pojke från Vallvik.

Tack.

(Jag tillägnar dig Eroll Garners ”Full moon and empty arms”. För alltid förknippad med dig. )

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