Saturday, October 31, 2009
I will say however that I do miss being able to see children in their costumes. I would love to have some sweet ones stop by tonight and ask for a piece of candy. I love dressing up in costumes and think it's a really fun part of the tradition.
Here in Sweden, the tradition of this weekend is actually to acknowledge All Saints' Day, which is tomorrow, November 1. Halloween is actually All Saints' Eve and the connections to the dead are how many of the bizarre and scary Halloween activities got started in the first place. But here in Sweden, people use today to reflect upon loved ones who have passed on. They go the cemetery and leave candles and wreaths and remember. By late afternoon it is quite beautiful as dusk sets in and candles flicker across the yards. I myself have never been one to visit the cemetery on this day and since I'm not feeling so hot and since we have an event at church later, it is unlikely that today will be my day to do so.
So today I am enjoying the posts of my friends' children on Facebook in their costumes, chuckling at how much candy they will haul in tonight, wondering if they are like me, who hoarded my candy and parceled it out over several weeks, or more like my brother, who pretty much ate it all as soon as he could and then tried to steal more from me! And I'm also thinking about those who died in the past year and what a significant day of grief and remembering this is for the many who lost beloved friends and family in the past year.
We have a big event at church tonight, A Festival of Cultures, that we've been planning for for quite some time. We've asked people to bring a dish from their native land and to also wear clothing that reflects that culture. Our church potlucks are not your ordinary potlucks. We enjoy restaurant quality food that reflects the amazing palette the world's flavors have to offer. Sadly, because I've been down all week I haven't had any energy to think about table decorations or extra touches. The clothing and the food will speak for itself, but it's amazing how narrow your world becomes when you have no energy. I was glad I got to the store to get plates, cutlery, and cups.
Additionally I feel bad because Doug ends up having to take care of Tanner by himself. I've tried to take Tanner out first thing in the morning because that's the one outing that Doug really hates, but I have not had the strength to think about taking him on his long walk. Doug does the long walk more than I do but sometimes it's nice to get a break from it. This week he has had no choice. I just can't sustain the energy.
Today I am devoted to resting until 5.00 p.m. when I need to go over to church to get set up for tonight. I may have to miss some of the program that follows the dinner, assessing my energy level. I was able to get my sermon completed but I need my voice to hold up through two services tomorrow.
One irony is that my sermon tomorrow is on being healthy in a physical way. We are doing a sermon series right now on Vital Signs for living looking at our schedules, our bodies, our finances and our spiritual life. It's been rather interesting to ponder how being vibrant and healthy really helps us to serve God in a much better manner while being confined to my bed. One's vigor for life definitely diminishes when you don't feel good.
I suppose the only positive thing to come out of this little hiatus is that it has shown me that slowing down can happen without ruining your life. I had a whole list of things to do this week and almost none of them happened. The world did not end and catastrophe has not ensued. Tonight's dinner and program will be wonderful even if the dinner part will be more simple than I had hoped. I will likely be exhausted after church tomorrow but I did take lots of time to think about my sermon and consider what I'd like to say. It has given me some perspective on taking an intentional "sick" day once in awhile...to slow things down, to ponder what it means to be less active, to lie quietly in bed with the simple purpose of resting.
For now, I am looking forward to greater health. And I am committed to figuring out ways to live more healthfully...better eating, more exercise, more balance, etc. We'll see if I return to my less structured ways once I feel good again. But at least this week away from the normal rhythm of life has shown me how much I value being able to have a rhythm.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I wasn't so excited about my birthday this time around. 49 feels awful. I believe that 50 will be a breeze but 49 bothered me. Doug was very, very sweet all day and I consoled myself by eating gelato on the city walls. Do I look like I'm almost 50? At least I have a handsome husband!
The sunset on the evening of my birthday was breathtakingly beautiful and that was the best present I could've hoped for...being able to sit in the setting sun on a beach in Italy with my sweetie. It just doesn't get better than that. So, I survived the passing of the calendar on my day of birth once again and now I'm trying to live fully into the next half century of life.
We ran into the funniest sight on our last evening in town. A large group of Asian brides and grooms were doing a photo shoot on the old city walls! We think it must've been a magazine or bridal wear promotional. Or it was a big group wedding. But a Tuesday night? Probably a promotion. They all looked quite smart decked out in their wedding finery!
We continued to eat pizza in Alghero because we just found it too good to be true. The last place we had dinner was outside of the old city, again, a local joint and we enjoyed some fun with waiter as we watched Who Wants to be a Millionaire in Italian seeking to first understand the question and then come up with the right answer. We had little success but enjoyed the local banter!
Our final two days in Sardinia proved to be amazing. The wind was too strong to sit on the beach the day before we left but we could hunker down poolside and enjoy the heat of the sun since the wind was blocked. It was great to sit in the sun and feel its warmth penetrating my skin. I was taking on a small sun tan by now so that made me feel better as well. I was reading My Life in France by Julia Child at the time and found it to be moving, funny, delightful and wonderful. It was the perfect read for a vacation.
On our final day, we checked out of the hotel and had the day to kill as our flight didn't leave until 7.00 p.m. We drove to another beach, parked the car and decided to walk along the coast. It was actually hot! We found a little place that rented beach chairs, had showers and a snack bar and decided that this was the only way for us to kill this day. So finally, on our last day, we got to lie in the sun on the beach! We even took a dip in the sea making our Italian beach holiday complete!
Those final 4 hours in the sunshine really helped erase the disappointment that we felt earlier in the week. Sardinia is a lovely place with great views and beautiful beaches. Alghero was a surprisingly wonderful little city and all in all, we were happy for our little getaway.
Given the lack of warmth and things to do in the more remote areas of Sardinia, we decided that for our final two night we’d head to the big city of
We also saw the world's smallest car!Upon arrival, it seemed as if our luck had changed and the sun was shining brightly and the thermometer was rising. We dropped out stuff at our not so great hotel with a lousy terrace and dashed out to the beach, which was only a 5 minute walk from out hotel. It was great for about a half hour and then the wind began to blow and the temperature dropped. We just couldn't catch a break on the weather! We dashed back inside and decided to go and explore the old city. The sun came out once again and we enjoyed a beautiful evening. In fact, the evening sunshine was so warm that we actually thought we might be able to take a dip. So we dashed back to the hotel, changed our clothes one more time and ran out to the beach. Unfortunately, the wind was up again and the air temperature was just chilly enough to keep us out of the water! Even so, the setting sun over the water was reminiscent of my days sitting on Newport Beach in California watching the sun come down over the water. We sat on the sand for a good while and enjoyed the beauty of the changing sky as another day ended.
Having eaten 4 course meals the previous 2 nights, we decided that pizza and a cold beer were a good idea. We trekked back into the old city, avoided the overly touristy restaurants and found a local pizza joint that served up great food! It wasn't nearly as cold as it had been in the mountains and we were cautiously optimistic that the following day would provide an opportunity to be out in the sunshine!
The restaurant didn't open until 7.00 so we found a little place with a terrace overlooking a most beautiful stretch of coastline and enjoyed an aperitif while watching the setting sun. It was a wonderful time of relaxing and soaking in one of the most beautiful views I've ever seen. The golf course on this side of the island is something to behold. It was great to see it from above and Doug definitely would've enjoyed trying his luck. Cost was a bit over the top and he would've had to have rented clubs so we simply enjoyed it from afar.
Dinner at Mama Latina's did not disappoint. We split a pizza and then I indulged in Ravioli and Doug ate Fetticcine with vegetables and Parmesan. Delicioso!
This ended up being one of our favorite days. Beautiful views, warm sun, great food. Hard to ask for anything more. OK, 10-15 degrees warmer would've been great but I was thankful for the chance to enjoy clear, sunny skies and sit out in my swimsuit (even it was poolside and not on the beach) for a couple of hours!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
The Angels got the Red Sox out 1-2-3 in the 9th and when the final out was caught I was screaming and cheering and dancing around my living room! Doug just sat there and laughed and I was laughing at myself as well!
The phone rang. It was my dad. He was as thrilled as I was! Finally, we beat those pesky Red Sox in a division series. I hope this bodes for us against the Yankees.
Sadly, Doug's team was swept in the other direction. We'll have to wait for another year to see a Twins/Angels match up. I'm just hoping that some people in his family will now get behind the Angels since all of their teams have been beaten.
Go Angels. Go Angels. Go Angels. Go Angels. Go Angels. Go Angels. Go Angels. Go Angels.
For several weeks the youth were available after our services to get people to sign up. Their enthusiasm was contagious and I think they felt proud and excited to be doing something worthwhile.
Sunday, the 11th of October was the day of the run. Unfortunately it was quite a cold day, but at least the rain held off. Doug and I walked over to the park with Tanner to catch a glimpse of the excitement. The runners/walkers were already going strong and throng of volunteers were on hand attending to all the details of water, food, photographs, etc. It was such a great environment. I was too cold to take photographs plus I had forgotten my camera. It was so excited to cheer the kids on as they came by the start place. Many of them are not in the best shape, but still they forged forward. A few of them were really strong runners and it seemed they were passing go every time we turned around. The camaraderie of the spectators made for a very enjoyable afternoon.
I was impressed by how many kids participated. They worked hard and running/walking for an hour is no easy task. Several leaders also ran and it was so neat to see their leadership and modeling. And I was blown away by how many volunteers the leaders had arranged to help out. It was so neat to see what can happen when people join together and put their energy towards a truly worthy cause.
We don't have the final numbers yet on what we raised, but the kids took such joy in participating in a worthwhile event. I was proud of every last one of them. This event was a true blessing for our church community and I am so thankful for the time, energy and initiative that went into making this happen. I was able to attend as a spectator and take part in the joy from the sidelines but my being there inspired me to consider my own contribution and I feel deeply blessed to be able to support our kids' efforts through making a donation to the project.
Never underestimate the power of youth to do good. Their energy, commitment, and joy in accomplishing something wonderful is unparalleled.
I took Tanner out this morning in the dark. Evening also comes quickly. We change the clock in two weeks. I'm tuning up my sunlight simulator alarm clock. Yes, there are cozy aspects of our cold, dark winter, but mostly it's a hard change of season for me.
Good thing I'm leaving for Sardinia, Italy in two days.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Because of his...
"Extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"
But oh are people mad. I find the pushback on this one interesting. On my Facebook, I wrote, "President Obama wins the Peace Prize. My only disappointment is that it's awarded in Oslo, Norway and not in Stockholm like the rest of them." It created a stormy comment thread that mainly expressed disdain for his receiving it. Now, I'm not saying that Obama is deserving of the prize at this juncture in his life, but I am at least willing to consider why they have chosen him. I believe the world is hungry for a more cooperative style of interaction and yearning for civil discourse. Some of my readers may disagree with me, but during the Bush Administration's season, these were two things that were sorely lacking in America's leadership. The fact that Bush took us into two wars that few in the world supported, that have become an absolute quagmire remains a bitter pill to swallow. So in awarding Obama, the committee is at least in part saying, "This is the type of leader that can create a more peaceful world." Perhaps it would've been more prudent to wait a few years to actually award Obama with the prize, but even so, the lack of respect and honor shown to Obama in light of his winning the prize is staggering. It almost seems like people are angry at Obama. He didn't run for the prize. He was chosen. A humble congratulations is in order even if you disagree with the outcome. Isn't that part of what it means to practice civility?
After pondering my own thoughts and the many thoughts and reactions flying around Facebook, my sister-in-law posted the following comment. "Wowza! I am thrilled that our President was awarded the Nobel Peace prize. For the most powerful person in the free world to address the world about nuclear disarmament, embrace Muslims as fellow human beings on the journey with us rather than our enemies and work to level the playing field of economic disparity rampant in our country, I say "You gObama!" I realize he is a mere mortal but in my opinion an extraordinary man working for peace and justice in the world. I can't really come up with causes more noble than the ones this Nobel prize winner is working for!" This comment makes sense to me. I realize that many of my right leaning friends are crying foul because they wonder what he's done to deserve such an award. What do they expect that he could've done in the past 9 months? At least he's changed the rhetoric and the perception of who America is in the world. To my friends living in America, perhaps you don't fully understand how bad our reputation had gotten overseas. Yes, Obama needs to deliver but at least he's seeking a much more cooperative tone as he seeks to deal with a fractured world.
Obama had the grace to say that he's accepting the award as a mandate to be a leader who pursues peace. The mess in Afghanistan will certainly test his mettle. But perhaps this prize will serve as a clear reminder to one of the most powerful leaders in the world that the pursuit of peace is a noble one and one that should be pursued with rigor and assertiveness.
I don't know for sure that Obama is the best candidate for the peace prize this year. But I know for sure that the anger and absolute lack of respect being shown to the President at this juncture does not promote a more peaceful society. I hope we can figure out a way to pursue peace, engage in civil discourse and more respectfully disagree with one another. Otherwise, we will never see the peace that our world sorely needs.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
This week was particularly thrilling sports-wise because the Minnesota Vikings were also featured on Monday Night Football in the US against the Green Bay Packers. This game is always big, but this year it was huge because the current quarterback for the Vikings is the former quarterback for Green Bay! It is quite difficult for Doug to see a former arch rival leading his team to victory, but the fact that the Vikes are 5-0 certainly helps.
One of the oddities of our life here is the fact that American sports are live during our night. More often than not we have to tape the games and watch them the next morning. It's pretty easy to avoid scores if you stay off the internet because I think we may be the only couple in the greater Stockholm area that actually cares about American Football and baseball! Now, getting a DVR (tivo in the States) has made a big difference. Push button recording, not messing around with video tape, etc. has ensured much more viewing pleasure. However, we still have a problem with not recording long enough. So, while watching the Monday Night Football game early Tuesday morning, I began to get concerned that the end of the game was going to cut off. Fortunately, the teams ran the ball a lot and the clock didn't stop as often and so it all worked out. But this morning, at 6.00 a.m. while up watching this incredible 12 inning baseball game, in the bottom of the 12th, with runners on 1st and 3rd, Twins up, getting ready to win the game and along with it the Central Division title and a trip to the post-season, the stupid recording ran out! We both moaned in despair and jumped on our computers to get the final score! Thank God for the internet...at least we can get the information and many times espn.com shows great highlights. Still...there's nothing like being totally engaged in a game, and having the recording shut off.
Such is the life of an American sports fan living in Europe. But at least in this day and age we can get coverage from the States and see a lot of the action that in the past we could only read about. After living here for 11 years, the American sports scene is still something I love to follow. I miss watching games live, with others around me who are equally interested. There is no banter in the office about the games. Perhaps that's why the household rivalry between the Twins fan and the Angel fan is still going strong!
It's likely we'll have some early mornings over the next several days as we each wake up thinking about how our team did the night before. Go Angels. Go Twins, until they meet the Angels. Then it's Go Angels all the way. This is, afterall, my blog and not my husband's.