Monday, April 30, 2012

Z ~ Zenith - end of the bus tour!

We've come a long way together, beginning to zenit, if you will.  It means zenith, but I have NO idea how to pronounce it, since I've never used it in conversation, and my proofreader is unreachable at this hour. 

Besides, I want to spend our last lesson for the semester on some more useful words. After all, it wouldn't be very worthwhile to spend a month learning random words of a language if all you can do at the end is order a beer. (Not knocking how useful a beer can be...)

One reader, faithful Laurita (please pay her a visit and show some love) who hasn't missed a post of mine in April, commented that she needed to know how to say, “He'll have a beer!” since she didn't want one.  I'm referring to my W post where I also cheated and didn't do a Swedish (practically non-existant) W word. I taught you to order beer.

What you learned was Jag vill ha en öl”
If he wants one and you don't, you say Han vill ha en öl” where han is like “hon” as in honey, sweetie, munchkin...

Alternately, maybe you're not with a he, but a she. Then you say Hon vill ha en öl” where the “on” is like the Spanish word for one = uno. H + uno – o + n”. Or point to her and say öl ;-)

No beer drinkers in your party?
Maybe someone wants wine? “Jag vill ha vin” where vin is pronounced veen as in seen, as in I've already seen that movie.

If you need a martini (I could go for one right now)or a Tom Collins, or a gin and tonic, then you'll just have to point and gesture. I've only been to one Swedish bar (as I talked about in my Ovanligt post) and I drank beer).

So out there on the town, enjoying your beverage of choice, perhaps you need to use the facilities.
Var finns toaletten?”
var: like car
finns: fins, like on a fish
toaletten: tow + ah + let + en (as in end)

I will warn you though. There are I think four other words for restroom facilities, and I don't know what modern Swedes say. It's like “powder room” in English. I don't find myself asking for that at Chili's. I just want the restroom.

So we've got your beverages, we've got your facilities what other useful words would a tourist need?

Affair = store, pronounced just like in adultery
restaurang = I bet you know this one. Just like in English, except the end is rung (as in steps on a ladder)

I hope that you've had fun with these lessons, and that maybe you retain a word or two to dazzle (*snort*) your friends with. For me, it's been a lovely return to childhood memories. Thanks for taking the ride with me. It's been an honor.  


If I haven't been to your place yet, no worries, I'm going to keep visiting and responding to comments until I'm done.  You'll hear more about the Post-Challenge Challenge (where we keep visiting the list even though April is done) very soon.  

I'm also having a give away.  I'm going to number your comments from A to Z, then have a drawing for a winner.  Prize?  Gift certificate to IKEA.  I'm doing that after the reflections posts are up, so you still have time to go back and read the ones you missed.  Obviously, the more lessons you've taken, the better your chances.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y ~ Yrvaken = more than fits here...

google image

Good morning, klass!
Today I'm up in the Rockies, enjoying a camping trip with my family, but thanks to the wonders of pre-scheduling, you still get a post today. I hope you get a post today. The pre-scheduling part of blogger has been giving us fits this month.

Y isn't that common of a letter in Sweden, only three or so pages in the dictionary, but there's a favorite word of mine that starts with Y. Yrvaken. It means awake, but still totally confused as to where you are and when. You know that disoriented feeling you get when you wake up from a nap and it's gotten dark, so for a moment there, you're trying to figure out what day it is, but then you realize you're dressed (in some cases, anyway) and that it must be 5:12 PM, not am. Yeah, that feeling. Cool word, eh?

I'm leaving today's lesson short since it's a Saturday, I'm not there, and if we admit it, most of us are a bit tired and ready for a break. So grab your graduation button there in my sidebar. If you're reading this, then you can have it. It's for anyone who learned any Swedish at all. Over-achievers, don't worry, I'll be responding to your wonderful sentences when I return. You've done a great job! Of course, we still have one letter left on Monday, so be sure not to miss that one. I have one more trick up my sleeve.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X ~ X Marks the Error

It's time to talk grades, but not to give grades. It's time, perhaps, to mark it with an X as in wrong. But probably not. I've invited you to TRY to write a sentence for me using as much Swedish as you can. Don't worry about your grade or being wrong, because trying is all it takes. I promise not to mark anything with an X!

To help you out, here's a list of all the words we've studied. Of course you could read them out of the sidebar, but then you'd miss our bonus words, and those might be the very words you're looking for! So without further ado:

alfabet = alphabet
bil = car
stuga = cottage
stugor = cottages
sommar = summer
dalahäst = traditional Swedish wooden horse, popular souvenir
hejsan = casual hello greeting
egen = one of my very own
docka = doll
far = father
pappa = daddy
mor = mother
mamma = mommy
Farmor = father's mother
Farfar = father's father
Morfar = mother's father
Mormor = mother's mother
god = good
morgon = morning
klass = class
gaffel = fork
hoppa = hop
is = ice
jag = I
älskar = love
dig = you
lagom = just about exactly right
kaffe kopp = coffee cup
midsommar = summer solstice
dans = dance
namnsdag = name's day
ovanligt = unusual, out of the norm
pålägg = sandwich topping
smörgåsbord = buffet table of goodies to make sandwiches
sy = sew
stjärngossarna = star boys from Lucia celebration
tack = thanks
= so
mycket = much
undervisa = to teach
vädra = let the fresh air in
jag = I, also learned in “I love you”
vill = will
ha = have
en = an, one
öl = beer

Do you see how much you've learned? Now grab a couple of those cool words and write me a sentence. You may insert English words. You will NOT have to pronounce it – it's a written activity – and it will not be graded. This is a participation activity, and I have an alternate activity. If you don't want to write a sentence, just tell me which Swedish word you like the best and why. Don't stress that either. Anyone who has visited in April is eligible for the button.  Coming soon.

Don't forget May 7th for the start of our reflections post week.

I hope to have your participation button up sometime today, so watch for that and grab it. Let me know if you're flying it, and I'll come visit your blog and take a look!

Keep on going! Only two letters left! YOU CAN DO IT!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W ~ wallboard, watt, whisky, and WC

In Swedish, “v” and “w” are pronounced the same, “v” as in Victor. In the dictionary, there is no separate “w” section, the “w” words are intermingled with all the "v" words. I found four. Total. So better than Q, but not much. Then there's the fact that all four words are lifted from other languages. Because of all of the above, I'm making today about ordering a beer, as promised.

Of course I'll tell you the words, since you're dying to know. Wallboard. Watt. Whisky. WC, which is British, stands for water closet, and refers to a restroom.

Beer time!
Jag vill ha en öl. We'll take this individually, then put them together again.
Jag = I , pronounced yog, as in dog, with y as in yellow. YOG.
Vill = will, pronounced like will, only with a V as in Victor. VILL.
Ha = have, pronounced haw as in “hee-haw”. HAW.
En = an, pronounced exactly the same. EN.
Öl = beer, pronounced err( as in umm, err...but take off the r) and add double LL's.  ELL.

YOG VILL HAW AN ELL. Or, if your message is not coming through, point to one at another table. The “postcard” I shared above is of Swedish brand beers.

Accept my challenge and write me a sentence in Swedish (and it's OK to put some English words in there, as in “I'm going to my sommarstuga in min egen bil.” Our graduation/participation button is almost ready for taking.  Jeremy, our resident digital artist is making it just for us. (There will also be other, “I survived the challenge” bling for your taking next week.)

Reflections Posts Mark your calendars for May 7th, the start of the sign-ups for writing your thoughts, ideas, and generally all about your experience during the challenge. If you want a sample, here's mine from last year

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V ~ vädra = let in the fresh air

Today's word is vädra which has no translation, but we'll call it weathering. It means opening up the bedroom windows and getting some of the outside weather in, to freshen the place up, while making the bed. You know how sometimes you go into a bedroom and it has that “somebody slept here” smell? Start with a teenage boy's room, for the full effect, then switch to your own. It's quite nice to air that all out, and get a fresh start on the day.

Striving for a nice-smelling bedroom is hardly uncommon here in the States. Think about all those detergent commercials, the fabric softeners, the “fresh, spring scent, as if dried outdoors”. In Sweden, most do dry their sheets outdoors. Have you ever tried it? It's one of the most wonderful scents that no laundry product can match.

That scent is also my favorite childhood memory. Sometimes I'll catch a whiff of it somewhere (not while doing my laundry I mean) and I'm transported to back to the days of spending the nights at Farmor and Farfar's house. The beds always smelled so nice. Farmor also let me help hang the sheets outdoors and let me walk between them while they were drying, a complete no-no at my house. “You'll get them dirty again!”

Here in Colorado, we get plenty of chances to dry our laundry outdoors, year round. Even if there's snow on the ground, you can still get it dry by the afternoon, if you hang them out early on a sunny day.  We get a LOT of sun around here.  Drying outdoors also makes cotton sheets “crunchy”, which I love. YellowBoy, who chooses his apparel by color (yellow!) AND texture, needs his sheets dried in the dryer. He can't understand why I buy only unscented laundry products (as in boring), but since the three of them all have eczema, I have to. (For more on my unique son and why he's called YellowBoy, read this post.) 

I realize laundry isn't the most exciting topic for a post, but since it demonstrates a cultural difference, I went for it. It's been my goal during April to teach you not only words, but also about the Swedish culture, and share memories, all in one post. Your reward for doing laundry with me today is that tomorrow, I'm teaching you how to order a beer, just as I promised during our first lesson.

Be working on your “graduation” sentences, the button is almost done! Go back one post to catch what I'm talking about, as well as the reminder for the May 7th reflections posts.

What's your favorite childhood memory smell? Have you tried drying your sheets outdoors?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U ~ undervisa = to teach

Today's word is personal to me, because I used to be a teacher. Our word is undervisa which means to teach.

I discussed this with The Swede, and we came to the conclusion that there is no similar sound to be found in English for the “u” at the beginning of the word. He's not only a Swede, he's a linguist by degree and speaks at last count 9 languages, so when he says there's no similar word, I will believe him. The rest of the word is, as you might guess, pronounced exactly as if you were saying under (as in there is something on top) and Visa, which is a credit card. I guess you must have left your receipt undervisa. Chances are that if you're in Sweden and need to ask for teaching, your American pronunciation will get you close enough for them to understand you.  And find you a teacher.

I also think today's word is appropriate since I've been attempting to undervisa you in Swedish. Which got me to thinking...perhaps we should have some sort of graduation certificate. I'm not talking big final or anything...but I'm begging digital genius Jeremy to make us some bling to show-off in our sidebars. After all, you've worked hard. “I took Swedish lessons at Life is Good” AND survived the A-Z Challenge.” Or something like that. Wadda ya think?

I also challenge you to write me a sentence in Swedish in a comment between now and April 30th. It doesn't have to BE your comment, but when you're done saying what you want to say, throw in a Swedish sentence. It's OK to make it Swenglish, as in using words from both languages if that works better for you. For example, someone posted, “I'm going to my egen sommarstuga in my bil.” Give it a try!

P.S In case you STILL haven't heard yet, our reflections posts start May 7th. There will be a linky at the main A-Z Blog for you to link up your post, once you have it up. We know everyone is returning to their pre-challenge schedules, so you have a full week to get it up there. Reflect upon the challenge, share your thoughts and ideas, offer advice on what went wrong, what the team could do better, etc. If you want a sample, here's mine from last year. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

T ~ Tack Så Mycket

Today I'll be teaching you the second most useful phrase in any language. Do you remember what the first one was?

Jag älskar dig!

If you don't remember, you can go look in my archive to the right and find it. I'll also stick it at the bottom of this post so that the ultra-competitive (um, like me)can chew on that while reading today's post, THEN find the answer at the bottom. I'd make it upside down like in the newspapers, but don't know how.

The second most useful phrase is:

Tack så mycket!

It means thank you very much.

tuck soo (oo as in door) mick (as in Jagger) ett (ett as in charcoal briquette)

Today I'd like to tell my readers tack så mycket for:
  • showing up every day and leaving such nice comments
  • following, and truly doing that, as in coming back (which is my definition of following)
  • sharing pieces of your heritage and your memories
  • for putting up with my sometimes cheesy humor and bad puns
  • thanks for joining the challenge, and stretching your writing muscles and staying with the work-out with us. It's been a great ride so far!

DON'T FORGET to mark your calendars for the reflections posts taking place starting May 7th.  We will have a sign-up list open starting that Monday, and it will be open for a week.  More details as the date gets closer.

Before you leave today, grab the button advertising the reflections posts which is over there in the sidebar. It's a picture, not a link, since the reflections posts will be all over the internet, not at the A-Z Blog.

P.S I love you.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S ~ sy = sew

My Farmor and Farfar left with me such a rich legacy of love, heritage, family, and tradition. A huge part of that legacy is in the crafts they taught me to do. Today's word is sy which means to sew.

I got help from Best on today's phonics lesson. I was stumped as to how I was going to explain this to you. Of course, she nailed it. She has magic ears.
See ya!” only you're in such a hurry that you kinda leave off the “a” at the end. Try it. Good, just one more time. I think you've got it!

I have way too many examples of Farmor and Farfar's work to display them all at the same time. At first it was only Farmor who did cross-stitch, but when Farfar retired (he was a plumbing engineer) he took up the hobby. Let me share a few of my favorites with you.  

Farfar made several of these.  The name of the piece is "Stjärngossarna" which means "star boys".  It's a reference to the December 13 celebration of Lucia. 

Here's a "real life" picture of boys fulfilling this role.

This next piece is a traditional confirmation celebration embroidery.  In Sweden, all (well most, you know every culture has its rebels) 14 year-olds are exposed to the gospel message of Christ dying for their sins, and spend a year in weekly classes, or a summer session of several weeks in camp, learning these lessons.  At the conclusion of the studies, there's a ceremony.  Afterwards, there's a reception, and lots of gifts are given.  Here's 14 year-old Tina posing with her gifts, and you can see the embroidery hanging off the front edge of the table.  A table which is now 1.8 miles from my Colorado home, at my parents' house.  The entire five piece furniture set was handmade, and in this picture, 3 of those pieces are visible.  

My Farfar also embroidered a long wall-piece of sunflowers for me.  This was well before sunflowers became my passion.  

I'm so glad I have these pieces of their love decorating my home.  What did your grandparents teach you?  Do you have any handmade family heirlooms to share with us?

Just a reminder that on May 7th we'll be doing our annual reflections posts.  What did you learn?  Who did you meet?  What the next step in your blogging journey?  If you want to get an idea of reflections posts, here's mine from last year.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R ~ Risgrynsgröt = rice porridge

In my ovanligt post I referred to school lunches and that rice pudding was my favorite. In researching pictures and recipes for this post, I realized a much better translation is rice porridge. The Swedish word is: risgrynsgröt.

Reese (as in Witherspoon) + green's + gr + e (as in um..err) + t

In learning this word, you've actually learned three Swedish words. It's another example of Swedes making long, compound words instead of using adjectives.
Ris = rice
gryn = grain
gröt = porridge

Ricegrainsporridge. Delish! It's sweet, and creamy, absolutely perfect served with whole milk, and cinnamon and sugar.  Here's a sample recipe.  I picked a fairly simple one.  Farmor's recipe was cooked more like risotto where you stir in a bit more milk every few minutes or so while continuously stirring.  It's a labor of love.  My mother always tried to make it faster and with less effort, until she gave up and realized that my Farmor's way was much better.  She still makes it for me every year.

Those Swedes are always trying to help you find true love, because when you make this treat, you put a whole almond in it. Legend says, whoever gets the almond will be the next to marry. I guess if you eat this before bed, find the almond, put the seven flowers under your pillow (see Midsommar post) then you'll not only dream of your true love, but find him before anyone else finds theirs! Worth a shot anyway ;-)

Does your family have a special treat that unique to your family?  What's the history of it?  I'd love to hear about some of your favorites.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q ~ Quality Friend

We have arrived at the day that most participants have been dreading. Q. You think Q is hard in English? Check this out:

So I'm calling today Q is for quality. As in quality friend. You know how they say that only a true friend will tell you when you have spinach between your teeth or that you have spaghetti on your tie? It also takes a true friend to tell you that you have, in front of the entire blogging community, while trying to teach a foreign language, made TWO blunderous mistakes. Anna, you rock.

Let's go to the oldest mistake first. Mispronunciation. Our lesson on ovanligt. Here's what I used:

owe-vaughn-lit as in “I need to repay Vince for the lighter he just let me borrow.”

Here's Anna's much better one:
Om jag skulle beskriva hur man uttalar "ovanligt", så skulle jag inte välja det engelska ordet "owe" utan snarare "pool" minus "p" och "l"="oo-vaughn-lit" ("vaughn-lit" går bra).

Oh, maybe you want that in English. Ok. I can do that.
Pool – p- l + vaghn + lit.
She's absolutely right. It's a much better oo.

Now for the more embarrassing one. In teaching you a word, I misspelled it. Sigh. This is from our lesson on namsdagar. Only I should have said namnsdagar. I swear I know how to spell the word, but when open office objects to every single Swedish word I write, it didn't occur to me that I'd actually gotten it wrong. You know how if you look at something 20 times, you can't see the glaring error because your brain skips things since it's so familiar? Or at least that's my excuse.

So there you have it. Confession over. I think you should pay Anna another visit. She makes beautiful jewelry and writes a delightful blog. In English!

To Anna, thanks for being a true friend and telling me about the spinach...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P ~ Pålägg = sandwich topping

I bet by now you're getting pretty hungry, and you're wondering about a snack. Well you've come to the right lesson, because today we're talking food. We're talking about pålägg and the one Swedish word you might have heard before, but most likely have pronounced incorrectly: smörgåsbord, you're bonus word for today.

pole + egg = pålägg, which means sandwich topping
This is also our first encounter with bonus vowel å which is pronounced like the o in pole.

sm + err + goes + bored = smörgåsbord
This is also our first encounter with the last of the three Swedish bonus vowels, ö, which is pronounced like the e in errr, as in I'm making a speech and drawing a blank and all I can do is ummh...and errr...

With all these bonus vowels and a bonus word, it's a good thing I'm feeding you today.

You know how when you're growing up, and you watch what's happening around you, and you get to know how things are done and feel like yes, I think I'm beginning to understand what this world is like and how I should behave, and what to expect. THEN you move across the ocean to a completely new place, and your grandmother (who did not want to be called Mormor, though technically, she was) makes you a sandwich with a lid. What's this extra piece of bread for? Did you forget to put pålägg on it?

In Sweden, sandwiches are open faced. No lid. One piece of bread. Lots of toppings to choose from. The best way I can think of to describe a smörgåsbord is it's like a salad bar, only you make small sandwiches and have a few side-dishes, too. These can be anything from a simple meal at home with a few choices, to to a vast array of choices and virtually limitless combinations.

Some pålägg you might not have considered are:
cheese and cucumber
sweet roll with ham and mustard
crisp rye bread with goose liver paté, and cucumber
lox with a fresh dill sprig

However, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and since I strive to come in between 300-400 words, here are some shots I found on google. 

 I bet you'd be able to find something to eat from one of these spreads.  The one with the candles looks like what we serve at Christmas time.  Enjoy your meal!  See you for klass tomorrow!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O ~ ovanligt = unusual

Today's word is one that believe you'll find useful. Or at least interesting. I thought that we'd work on some contrasts today, contrasts between the Swedish culture and our American culture. As a child of both cultures, I'm grateful that unlike Spock, I didn't have to choose one and forever leave the other behind. I've got the blessing of knowing at least two different ways of doing many things. You've read about family traditions, about holiday celebrations, but that's not what I'm referring to today. Today is about everyday life. About what's different between Sweden and the US. What is ovanligt.

owe-vaughn-lit as in “I need to repay Vince for the lighter he just let me borrow.”

Definition? Unusual, in contrast to what is regular. I'm going to just do bullet points, otherwise you'd have me going for a long time. It's fun to do that. I've done that. I met up with a childhood friend during my 1996 trip “home” and she and her boyfriend and another friend of theirs took me out on the town. We ended up at a bar which had a street-side seating area. It was late, and the last bus home to my Farmor's apartment left at midnight, but it was a night to remember. It didn't get dark, so that was ovanligt from what I'm used to. Our conversation consisted entirely of the differences between what we do in America and what they do in Sweden.

It's ovanligt in Sweden:

for people to move from town to town as they grow up and then later as they get jobs. Most plant themselves where they are, dig their roots down deep, and stay.

 for families to own more than one car, if they have a car. Public transportation is amazingly well organized and easy to use, and very cheap.

 to eat out as much as we do. They have their share of restaurants, of course, but they tend to be high-end priced, or inexpensive sidewalk cafes and sandwich bars which can be found all over the place. There's not a lot of middle ground places, or chain restaurants, as we have here.

 bring a school lunch. Everyone eats lunch in the cafeteria. For free. We had fish twice a week, and once every three weeks we had my favorite – rice pudding.

 to get married before living together. In a very large percentage of families, the parents never marry. I don't know why, or what the tax implications there are, but this is confirmed by The Swede, so it must be true ;-)

And now I'm leaving you. Just found out that my baby brother and his wife just had their first child! Too much excitement for me to concentrate on writing!

To those of you who read this and are Swedish, PLEASE correct anything that I got wrong. These points are from my memory, my perceptions and observations, and could very well be wrong by now. Don't hesitate to say so.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N ~ Namnsdag = name's-day

Well, fellow alphabet fans, I just got an education. A lot has changed regarding today's topic, and reading the history of those changes just cracked me up. It's another example of the evils of bureaucracy. I'm glad there's wikipedia, and I'm glad that they have a Swedish version, not just an English page translated into Swedish. There's a HUGE difference. I'm writing about the Swedish custom of having a name associated with a day of the year. In English the translation is name's-day. The Swedish word is namnsdag.

numb + s + dog = numbsdog, as in my butt's numb from sitting here on this wooden bench waiting for my dog.

Throughout Sweden's history, the days of the calendar have had names associated with them. I won't take you through all the amusing history of why certain names were changed, or the uproar about it having 60% male names, or that in one period of time, there were three names on each day. It's a classic case of trying to please all of the people all of the time. Things seem to have quieted down since 2001 when each day was assigned two names. Sometimes the male and female version of a name, sometimes the old-fashioned and the newer version of the name, and some days do still have a single name, if it was a day with a saint's name. Personally, I think what they're doing now is good. They're mostly leaving the old names there, but the second names will now change from time to time as the popularity of certain names come and go.

Just thinking about the US having this sort of tradition throws me into fits of giggles. As a teacher, we had years with four Megans in a class. Of course each of them spelled their name differently. What's a name calendar to do? Do we devote four whole days to Megan, Meghan, Meagan and Megen? Or do we leave her off so we can include Tiffany and Brittany, Britney, and Brittenie? Boggles the mind and slows down a committee.

So let's leave history behind and go on to celebrating.

I remember fondly how Farmor would make a big deal of our namnsdag. We got almost as much attention as on our birthday. The child of the day would take the quick walk through the woods to her house after school. Waiting for us was a tray with one of her special hand-embroidered small table-cloths, a candle, a piece of our favorite cake (mine was lemon spongecake) and a cup of hot chocolate. Next to the tray was our present. Farmor would join me at the table with similar treats. That table is the exact table I'm sitting at now -I have her kitchen set in my kitchen. 

Another favorite part of this celebration was that no other siblings got to be there. It was cherished alone time with Farmor. The gift was usually something hand-made. She loved to knit and did many different kinds of needlework. She made all of our doll-clothes, and as we got older, she even made clothes for our Barbies, though she wasn't much of a fan. I've saved all of those for my daughters, but since I was blessed with sons, they are waiting patiently for my future granddaughters to play with.  

I leave you today with April's namnsdagskalender.
That didn't work.  
I leave you with LINK to April's namnsdagskalender.

P.S Yes, in Swedish, instead of having adjectives, they make compound words - as you see above in namsdagskalendar.  It can get rather hilarious from time to time.  The Swede and I used to compete to see who could make the longest one.  He always won.

If you missed a visit to the A-Z Blog on Sunday, head on over there for my half-time pep-talk, and a chance to grab the nifty "next blog" and "surprise me" buttons for YOUR blog.  They're not just for co-hosts anymore!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M ~ midsommar = summer solstice

It's rather fitting that half-way through our challenge we come to today's topic of midsommar. You already learned sommar (sum + are). Mid is pronounced “mead” as in the fermented beverage made from honey. Can you guess the compound word?

google image

Middle of summer. Summer solstice. June 20th or 21st depending on the year. In Sweden, this is a big deal and celebrated in a big way. I'll be sharing my childhood memories, and based on what google has helped me find, my memories appear to be rather intact.

The most memorable part of the celebration for me was the dancing. I've always loved to dance, and dancing around the decorated pole is a treasured memory. The post card above shows a typical midsommar dance. (In Swedish dance is dans as in dunce, go sit in the corner.)

There are a lot of different traditional dances that are performed during the celebration. I guess the easiest way to describe them is that they are called out just like in square dancing, and a lot of the moves are similar. The music is sometimes live, but not always. Some dances are very complex, and  take an hour or more to finish with all kinds of complicated moves. Not individual moves, but group moves. In one part of my favorite dance of this type, Polynåsen, all the dancers are connected in interlocking rings that move around and through each other. You don't have to be an expert or have studied these, but it helps to have a strong partner. Anna, you gotta help me out here. I couldn't make YouTube speak Swedish like I can google...

The other part I really liked was making the flower wreaths for our hair. We wore these during the midsommar celebration. Some girls had the traditional Swedish dresses to wear for the party – each county has it's own style – but the rest of us just wore a skirt and blouse. Skirts are very popular. Girls threw them on like we do a pair of jeans. Took me a while to adjust when I was 14, but by the time I returned at 16, I knew the drill and came prepared.

google image

The final tradition I'd like to share is the flowers under the pillow. Legend says that if you find seven different wildflowers and put them under your pillow when you go to bed on midsommar night, you will dream of your future love. I of course tried this many times, but since there was very little sleeping these night, there wasn't much chance of me dreaming of my intended.

It was really special to watch the sun start to set, and a sort of twilight settle in, but before we were even aware of that, it started getting lighter again. I think we went to bed around 3 am the year I was 16. After all, we were at camp, the counselors had long since gone to bed, and we were young and hopeful, and had just spent the evening dancing and dreaming, with flowers in our hair and the future ahead of us. Still young enough to think that life will turn out great, if you just dream hard enough. With seven flowers under your pillow.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L ~ Lagom = Goldilocks and The Three Bears

Hejsan Klass!
Of all the lessons I'm teaching through my postcards, this one is the lesson I've most looked forward to. The word I'm teaching you is probably THE most famously in-translatable word in Swedish. Anthony Bordain agrees with me. (He's a chef who travels the world eating EVERYTHING and he mentions this word in his show about Sweden. Just his name and Sweden in google popped up that exact episode of his food travel show.)

What word am I talking about? LAGOM.
Pronunciation: la + gum. The la is as in lalalalala I'm not listening. I believe we've had this particular translation help in earlier lessons. Gum? You chew it.

Translation: This is where it gets tricky. It takes more than just a few words. It takes an entire fairy tale to do the translation justice. Hence the postcard.

In the Goldilocks and The Three Bears story, our heroine explores the house of mama bear, papa bear, and baby bear. Wherever she goes, there is only one of the three choices which satisfies her. Only one of them is “lagom”. I suppose if I had to put a definition on it in just a few words, they would be, “just about right.” Don't you think a word in English with this meaning might be very useful?

Since I wrote this, my oldest son who is 15, broke his arm long-boarding.  Tomorrow we meet with the arm/wrist specialist to see if he needs sedation and a re-positioning of his arm, or whether pins and surgery are required. If you're the praying sort, I'd appreciate yours for pain relief for him, and that I remain calm enough even though I'm really scared, to be a comfort to him. Thanks.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K ~ Kaffe Kopp

Hejsan klass!
Before we begin today's lesson, I have a few announcements.

** I have new navigation buttons installed in my sidebar.
“Surprise me!” takes you to a random blog on the list of 1796 participants.  (Yes, the list was longer, but we've been deleting links to blogs that aren't participating.)
“Next blog” takes you to blog #1 on the list, and then next time you hit it, it will go to #2

** These buttons will be available for participants to put on their blogs in just a few days. We're working out the kinks first. Don't be alarmed that it just says I've visited 2 blogs. I've been to a LOT more than that...just not since I installed them.

**On May 7, all challenge participants are invited to write a “reflections” post sharing what they experienced during this year's challenge. If you'd like to read one to get an idea, here's mine from last year.

Alrighty then, let's get to today's lesson. Today you will learn two new words because they are practically inseparable: kaffe kopp.

kaffe: cuff + eh?
Kopp: cup

Have you guessed the meaning? Coffe cup. Swedes like their coffee. They like it hot, dark, strong, and several times a day. Drinking coffee is a major social event, and it's a frequent one.

Of course there's coffee for breakfast. Then in midmorning, there's another cup. If someone has “stopped by”, that midmorning cup is served with some sweets that the hostess “happens” to have on hand. Coffee is consumed with lunch. Mid afternoon, an unarranged coffee visit might occur again, and the ritual is repeated. Yes, Swedish hostesses need to be ready for visitors on a moments notice. With lots of sweets.

After dinner, there's more coffee, and in most of the households where I've stayed, there's later the “evening food” which is a before bed snack. As I recall, we are by now done with coffee, and tea is served with this food.

Please keep in mind that a lot of these memories are from when I was nine, and the freshest are from my teenage years. I know Farmor and Farfar were so happy to have us visit that they wanted us to visit all their friends. This made for two-a-day coffee parties for teenage girls who would rather have gone on a boat ride, or downtown to shop, or even for a walk in the nearby woods.

We were dutiful granddaughters though, and went to all of these parties. I don't know if the other women of my Farmor's generation had as much china as she did, but here's a selection of kaffe koppar (plural) from the sets I inherited.  

This one is called Grandmother's Rose, and I have the entire set, this is just the serving pieces.  I have them in a china cabinet on display, but with the light coming in my patio window, you couldn't see them at all, so I pulled these out so you could see them.  These were my favorite since childhood.  

These blue cups and saucers are part of another set that includes creamer and sugar and serving plates.  

These flowers are called "Vildkaprifol" and are the official flower of the county "Bohuslän".  I have 12.  

This kopp is from another set of county flowers.  It's ljung (name of flower) and from the county of Västergötland.  I have 8.  

This last kopp is another company's version of the kaprifol from county Bohuslän.  If you compare the two, you'll notice similarities, and differences.

This is not all the china Farmor collected.  Remember the matching clothes?  At least with the china, she didn't repeat.  My sister has just as much as I do, but in different patterns.  My brother didn't get china, but he got most of her antique furniture as I recall.  All's fair.  Wanna come over for kaffe?  I have lots of koppar.