Sunday, June 27, 2010

Peace and Love Hardcore

Today we'll be passing through the town of Borlange, renouned for their annual Peace and Love Festival.   But this is not your 60's flower child folk festival.   This is Peace and Love Hardcore, with 6 days of speakers, seminars and great bands from all over the world.   Unfortunately the big music is Wednesday through Saturday and we'll be in Stockholm and then back in the states by then.

For the lucky fans who are stickin' around or traveling in for this fest, it should be a rockin' good time.   Headliners are:


Lily Allen

Patti Smith

Alice in Chains

Peace and love began as a music festival in 1999, and evolved into something much larger and more important.   They have worked over the years to combat violence and racism in Borlange and Dalerna, and have expanded to provide a meeting place for all different ages, cultures, and nationalities to meet up and rock out together.   The fest doesn't have a political or religious agenda.   Instead their purpose is to champion for democracy, human dignity and rights, sustainable development, diversity and justice.

Check out their web site for the complete line up and details.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sweden 2010

We'll be catching our readers up with 2 weeks worth of photos and fun in Sweden with Du-Jay and Sagezilla, as WiFi and time between adventures allows.   Right now we're chiILin' at Siljan lake in the Dalarna region.   Tomorrow we're off to spend a day at Bear Park in Orsa and Thursday through Sunday will bring a miriad of authentic midsummer celebrations.

It's now nearing midnight Rattvik time, so I'll just leave you with two photos to contemplate for the moment.   Our first full day in Sweden, we spent with old friends in Uppsala.   When we toured the gorgeous, ancient Uppsala Cathedral on the university campus, I was struck by the compelling mix of pagan and Christian symbolism and will post a full slideshow soon.   

Among the ancient tombs, we came upon a stained glass window of a knight who bears an extreme likeness to Neil Fallon, lead singer for the metal band, Clutch.   Their concert tees proclaim Ragnarok and their lyrics are laiden with ancient mythology and Christian allegory.   Here are a few more Neil pixs.

Is Neil Fallon a reincarnated Swedish knight, or just a 21st century rocker from Maryland?   You decide.   Ragnarok indeed!

Sweden 2010-Day 4-Tuesday, June 22

We all needed a down day, to sleep in and relax.   We walked around the small town of Rattvik and ate amazing local strawberries and cinnamon rolls. 

Then we wandered near the cabin and waded in the icy waters of crator created Lake Siljan.   The kids got a kick out of finding their friends' names and interesting words among donors carved in the wooden dock planks of a park in Persborg.

A major meteorite impact some 377 million years ago, carved out this gorgeous basin and flipped the surrounding rock formations vertical.

For dinner we spluged on a tasty local BBQ place in town, and ate on the patio.   It often rains in the area this time of year, but we've had beautiful weather so far.   The wildflowers are blooming in full force, making a colorful tapestry of vibrant purples and yellows and green, that extends from our cabin in all directions.   

We're also far enough north now that sunset is around 11pm, and it never gets truly dark, just a deep and magical blue for a few hours.   Then sunrise comes around 2am.

Here's a slide show.   Double click on the photo for full screen options.

What we've learned:   Many words are similar like mjolk for milk and oppnas har for open here.  

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sweden 2010-Day 3-Monday,June 21

Today is our first full day in Sweden.   We awoke to French toast and good, strong coffee.   Tina had sheets, towels and picnic supplies already packed for our week in Rattvik, in the Siljan Lake region of Dalerna.   People come from all over Sweden and many other countries to spend Midsummer in this area.

Before our 3 hour drive to Rattvik, we had a chance to spend the morning exploring Uppsala.   We got to see Uppsala University, the first Nordic university, founded in 1477.   I was amused by the "scandle building",

so named because it caused a huge uproar at the time it was built for being taller than the famous Universitetshuset, or main building.  

Here's a slideshow of the Neo-Renaissance Universitetshuset (University Main Building), which was designed by Herman Teodor Holmgren and completed in 1887).

Then we were off to Uppsala Cathedral, a short walk away.   
It's historically and architecturally amazing!

Here's the full window, we posted about earlier, that remarkably resembles Neil Fallon, lead singer for the metal band, Clutch.

Here's our slideshow of the cathedral.

We were especially excited to see the actual ancient rune stones at Uppsala, that we've so often seen pictured in books.   The kids and I have learned the meanings of many of the runes and especially connect to them, since our last name is the rune of fire, passion and creativity.

We ended our time in Uppsala with a tasty lunch at Lingon. It's common here for restaurants to offer a one price lunch that includes beverage, choice of a few main courses and dessert.  This one had picturesque patio seating that even included red blankets for those chilly nordic breezes.

It was fun to shoot scenic shots around town and get a feel for the place.  

The royal wedding of Princess Victoria happened the day before we came, so the country is still buzzing about it.  

We stopped for a hand full of giant Swedish Marabou chocolate bars and a prepaid phone card and were good to go.

Our last stop, before the van, was one of the older cemeteries in the area. We were intriqued by the weathered tombstones, the zen garden like stones raked into patterns, and the odd, artful little touches people left on the graves.
We drove an hour out of town and made a quick stop to see an old friend, Birgit, whom my parents met in Sweden in 1965 and stayed in touch with.  

She was a gracious host and fed us coffee and homemade blueberry tort and ice cream, traditional chocolate iced yellow cake and Swedish chocolate. My Mother and sister hadn't seen her in 17 years. I had met her last 30 years ago, and my Dad hadn't seen her in 45, so everyone enjoyed catching up.

Then we finished off the final 2 hours to Rattvik, and arrived at our sweet, red cottage on Lake Siljan--home away from home till Sunday. Here's a final slideshow of the afternoon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sweden 2010--Day 1/2-Sat & Sun-June 19th & 20th

Today we had a flight out of O'Hara at 4:20.   The customs and security lines were brutally long and Sagezilla seems to be coming down with something.   She puked 4 times before we even reached Sweden--luckily none were in a moving vehicle--van, plane, shuttle or car.   

What a great kid!   She puked in airport bathrooms in 3 different countries on 2 continents, and a Swedish roadside pit toilet that looked like a cottage out of a fairy tale and smelled like something much more sinister.   But she made it every time!

KLM was comfortable and the kids enjoyed watching The Simpsons on the plane TV.   Our meals were pretty tasty and they actually fed us, which is far from a given on most stateside flights these days.   We lost 7 hours, so the kids were the only ones who caught a few hours of sleep.   

We had a 3 hour layover in Amsterdam, at Schiphol Airport, from 11:30-2:30 am our time, which around 6:30 over here.   So we got the kids some good Dutch chocolate and we got some good Dutch lattes.   And it was all good.   Then we did the customs/security dance once again and settled in for a quick 2 hour jaunt to Sweden.  

Our close friend (my childhood "penpal" and later exchange student/Swedish sister for senior year in high school) met us at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm.   The kids were elated to trade in some of their own money for Swedish Kroner and catch our luggage as it circled.   We filled our water bottles and were happy to bid farewell to airports for another two weeks.

Then we were off to retrieve a rental van and follow Tina to her Mom's home in Uppsala, where we relaxed and ate a wonderful Swedish meal.   By then we were all exhausted, so my parents settled in at Charlotte hotel for the night. 

Tina loaned her apartment to our immediate family, and my sis, Maia, stayed with Tina at her Mom's place.   
It's so wonderful to know people in a country instead of visiting as a complete tourist.   We were amused to travel so far around the world and see she has the same shower curtain we do!  Small world.

When we told our Chicago friend, Paula, we were coming to Sweden, she remarked, "Lucky you!   You get to see how a sane society lives!"   So far, they're decades ahead of the US in the eco-friendly realm.   

All businesses and residences have low flow toilets with flexible water supplies, depending on what's goin' down.   Washers and dryers are small and sometimes combined into one unit.   And people and businesses are expected to recyle and compost.   Of course we do it in Chicago, but it's the norm here, so integrated into society it's everywhere and easy to do effectively.

Of course, the kids napped in the van and got a second wind when we got to Tina's.   

They both ate a huge number of Swedish pancakes with lingonberries and 3 pieces of cinnamon toast each, and were bouncing off the walls as Dug hit the bed sound asleep.
I split the difference, staying up long enough to feed them and get them in PJs. Then I left them with Swedish children's stories and their travel packs of art supplies and instructions to play quietly and go to bed soon.   Then I, too, was down for the count.
Overall, the trip and time adjustment was pretty painless.   We're excited to be here and looking forward to many adventures in the coming days.

What I learned:  My sister and I both brought the same Steig Larsson novels to read on the plane The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo .   And our host Tina had his books on her shelf, too.   But I discovered, much to my amusement, that in Sweden the title of same best seller is Män som hatar kvinnor – "Men Who Hate Women".    What uptight American publisher wouldn't let that one get translated correctly?   Amazing how censored we are without ever even knowing it!   

I'm especially looking forward to reading his trilogy, since they're set in many of the same places we'll be traveling, beginning with the Siljan Lake Region where we're headed tomorrow.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pre-Sweden 2010

Friday, June 18th...........a red letter day.   Sagezilla finally got her cast off after a month of uni-footin' it with crutches and a broken ankle from a no handed cartwheel gone bad.

My "little sister", who has been taller than me for about 25 years--as she likes to point out--flew in from near Portland, Oregon in near monsoon conditions.   Her flight landed early and then all subsequent flights were promptly grounded as Chicago got caught in a deluge and high winds.   

We were in the car at the time and saw a whole 6' sidewalk stack of dog crates blow over, and a street full of people's umbrellas invert.   She got to spend the day and well into the night, watching the "pack a family of 4 for 14 days abroad without strangling anyone" show.

Saturday we all leave for a 3 generation, 7 person, once in a lifetime, Swedish holiday.   

Monday, June 14, 2010

i ♥ Faces--All About Babies

Here at ChiIL Mama, we really had to reach back into the archives (or the external drive) for this week's contest over at i ♥ Faces--All About Babies.   The photos can be newborn, young, in this case, "tummy babies".

I love those glowing, marble eyed gazes, shot by the pros with their expensive studio lights and high end gear.   But, there's something to be said for the simple 2 year old big brother reaching up to greet "tummy baby".   

I still remember him listening to her heartbeat with the midwife and offering her a sippy cup--tipped to my bulging belly.   My "babies" may be 7 & 9 now--it happens in a flash.   But, at least we still have the photos and the memories!   And there's a lot to be said for ditching the diapers.............