Five hundred and twentythird Asic – The Grapes of Wrath- A Sort of Book Review

What Makes a Good Book Good Enough?

That is one of the things that keeps me busy when I start reading any book whatsoever… Like many other students I was forced to read ”Of Mice and Men” in school as a teenager, and I guess my teacher picked the novel for a few different reasons, among one was the endurable length… I was however thrilled by the way Steinbeck built up his characters and how the story developed.  From a few hints on how George and Lennie had to move on again, after something terrible had happened, I realized I was already thinking; What had happened? As a young reader of a classic novel I was thrilled enough to keep reading until the very last page… I also read ”The Pearl” with great interest and without any effort, but for a novel like ”The Grapes of Wrath” it takes 455 pages before you know the end of the story. As a young reader, I did not meet that challenge, but a summer a couple of years ago, during a vaction in California, ”The Grapes of Wrath” was my perfect companion. I drove past the road sign with ”Salinas” and I went to Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium where a section in the Museum describes John Steinbeck’s writing and I was happy to know that in my car, the book was waiting for me to turn the next page and the next…

Nobelpris_medalj

John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize in 1962,

”for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception”

 Although ”The Grapes of Wrath” was written in 1938 and first published in 1939, the content is extremely important also in 2018. Migrants today, face the same kind of ignorance and racism as the Okies (people from Oklahoma, moving to California) in Steinbeck’s novel. Migrants both now and then, left for the thought of a better future, filled with hope, but also fear. Their plans and hopes are not always fulfilled…

Describing the process of change in a person’s life, like Steinbeck does in ”The Grapes of Wrath”, is a delicate matter between being true or being pathetic. Neither can you exaggerate too much nor be too shallow.

The novel very closely describes the extremely poor conditions for migrant workers in California in the thirties. Racism, cruelty and violence together with greed seems to be the rule and being from Oklahoma, means being an Okie, which is a stigmatised group at the time. No matter how hard they work, they seem to face very little understanding and empathy from the Californians. The Okies move from one workplace to the other and get less paid for each time they move, so it seems.

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Throughout the novel, Steinbeck give descriptions of the surrounding landscape and certain topics of interest. One of the chapters is like a dialogue between a car salesman and an Okie buyer and written with humor, although the underlying message is that many poor Okies were fooled by the car dealers, selling off good cattle or mules in trade for a jalopy. Another such chapter is a very nice description of a few instruments, the harmonica, the guitar and the fiddle and how they blend in together for the coming dance evening, when a certain piece of music is played. That is also where ”Swedes up in Dakota” (p 342) are mentioned, which is fun to read for me as Swedish.

But apart from these humorous chapters, there are also some very critical topics, as when Steinbeck describes how land owners had too much fruit and too much potatoes, too many pigs and instead of giving the food to the extremely poor workers, they poisoned the potatoes, drowned the pigs and drenched the fruit in kerosene, only for the pleasure of not giving it to the starving workers. That is when ”The Grapes of Wrath”(p 349) is uttered…

A good book is a book you never forget…

That is what ”The Grapes of Wrath” was to me…

 

cotton-capsule

Annonser

Femhundratjugoandra åseriet- Den svenska skogen och dess dragningskraft för själen

lingonrisA close encounter with a pine treetallskog vid Malingarna_1Tallskogen och jag har för länge sedan hittat varandra. Jag tror att jag alltid har trivts i den öppna skogen där man har möjlighet att se väldigt långt under trädkronorna. Dessutom är det ju fullt möjligt att ta sig fram smidigt och lätt, i jämförelse med de skogar där undervegetationen fullständigt tar över och man får slå sig fram genom sly och buskage. Så här års är det blåbär och lingon som samsas med kråkbär odon och mjölon. Jag hittade en tallstam att luta huvudet mot en stund. Den var solvarm och slät och i bakgrunden hördes vågskvalp. Nära stranden där jag var, fanns inte enbart de väldigt höga tallarna, utan även deras yngre släktingar… Här fanns plats för både tallfjortisar och tallungar…

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När jag var liten läste jag Elsa Beskows böcker och varje gång jag nästan pulsar i blåbärsris den här tiden på året, tänker jag på hur Putte kämpade i blåbärsskogen…

blåbärTalltoppartallskog_3

 

sjö vid Malingarnasjö vid Malingarna

I tallskogens närhet finns sjöar med rent och klart vatten. På ytan skymtar en och annan vit näckros och på avstånd hör jag storlomen. Det är helt klart tallskogen som ger mig mest energi, men den dunkla mystiken som präglar en vanlig granskog är också tilldragande!

A pointing finger in the forest När jag kommit ut ur tallskogen hittade jag en ensam gran som uppfordrande pekade mot en granskog en bit bort. Jag bestämde mig för att göra granen till viljes… och sökte mig in bland de mjuka mossiga tuvorna där stenar och stubbar sedan länge gömts undan. I vilken granskog som helst tänker jag kanske inte på John Bauer, men i den här typen av orörd urskog, så är det svårt att låta bli… Det är en riktig trollskog! Så känns det! Vid något tillfälle under min promenad vänder jag blicken uppåt och ser torra grenar på en grupp med granar. Jag drar mig till minnes att granar ibland växer i grupp, som syskon… Det såg jag också vid besöket i den Nordamerikanska skogen Muir Woods sommaren 2016.

Ändå kan jag inte låta bli att tänka på att den här skogens grenverk måste te sig skrämmande mot en månbelyst kvällshimmel… Förr i världen när man trodde på skrömt och trodde sig veta att skogsrået och trollen bodde i skogen, ville man kanske inte heller gå här på kvällstid? Bakom stenarna lurar varg och lo i den vidsträckta skogen långt bort från människors hus. Det är fint att det är dag, tänker jag… Då slipper jag undra om jag är själv här eller inte…

Alla vassa konturer och hårda ytor är försvunna under ett grönt och mjukt lager. Här och där trotsar några stjälkar harsyra eller en liten svamp den dominerande mossmattan… Där granar av ålder släppt sina barr eller ståtar med torra grenverk av okänt skäl, kämpar myror för att utöka sina domäner…

granskog, fur tree granskog, fur tree _1granskog, fur tree _2granskog_1myrstackmossamossbelupen stensvampskogen

För egen del stannar jag till och lyssnar…

Skogens omisskännliga sus dominerar i den skenbara tystnaden.

Jag gläds åt att vara så långt ifrån allmän väg att inga bilar kan höras.

Detta är en lisa för själen! 

 

granskogens mjuka konturer

Five hundred and seventeenth asic- Four years…

Time is in many ways a very interesting phenomenon. No matter how hard we try to define it, we find ourselves lost in the relativity of time. What one person finds boring and time consuming may be interesting to someone else to the point where she loses the sense of time.

I started this blog four years ago. I started it because Sweden had a major election for the Parliament in 2014 and I thought it would be a great idea if I shared a few thoughts on teaching for the upcoming election. From my point of view, many journalists lacked the inside perspective from teaching and my contribution would thus be important.

An interesting and intriguing hobby started off… And not only did I write about teaching, but also various other topics.

Now, four years later, round 54,000 people have read my posts. I was more energetic in my writing in the beginning, but this year, 2018, we have another general election, so who knows? I may start writing more eagerly again… 😉

Fivehundred and sixteenth Asic- The Need for The Good Example in Times of Trouble

Migration is not a new phenomenon. People migrated thousands of years ago both abroad and within national borders. Despite the many negatively written articles lately, there are good examples that need to be acknowledged!

I once read in SvD (Svenska Dagbladet) about a small community in the middle of Sweden, where the new migrants were as many as the original inhabitants, but the people in Åre manned up and contributed volunteerly for the group of immigrants. Åre is very far away from the bigger cities. In a small community like Åre, connections between representatives of different authorities may be closer and I guess people in a small village also know each other quite well. When a busload of immigrants arrive, it may cause somewhat chaos for a short while, but true friendship in the local community is crucial. According to the article, people all contributed in their own different fields of society to help the immigrants as smoothly as possible. Today, not even two years later, the Åre society is profoundly changed in many positive ways.

I think, on a national level, when Sweden welcomed many of the refugees who had fled thru Europe in the fall of 2015, that was the only decent thing to do under those extreme circumstances. In my profession I meet many of them now, two years later and guess what? Many of the refugees who have been here less than three years, in fact cope quite well in their new lives in the wintery and snowy northern country of Sweden. My teaching subject is Swedish as a Foreign Language and I meet my students after they have passed the compulsory level and head on to higher levels of Swedish.

I cannot stress enough how rewarding it is to teach adult immigrants and share their stories about life. They learn Swedish, search for jobs and they dream of a home of their own and later a reunion with their family. Thoughts of the past, traumatic memories and losses may slow down the pace in which they learn to cope in their new environment, but despite very emotional events prior to their current situation, most of them are working hard to achieve their goals. In the long run, I think we all try to make the best of every situation despite hardships and trouble we pass along the way, at least that is what my students prove to me over and over again, every day in school.

Fivehundred and fourteenth åsic- The missing cars at IKEA in Philly

I noticed in almost every contact with my new American friends that their only connection to Sweden was that they liked the type of candy Americans call ”Swedish fish”. My first encounter with the so called ”Swedish fish” was about ten years ago when I bought some at Shoprite in the USA. When I now again got a lot of questions about ”Swedish fish” I was more and more curious about the fact that we really don’t see them much in Sweden. We rather eat a lot of other candy, for instance ”Ahlgrens bilar”, but many of us would probably spend time picking our true favorite candy at a store where we find ”pick and mix”. The answer to why there are very few ”Swedish fish” in Sweden, is to be found in the link below. Obviously this type of candy was created for the American continent and not for Sweden.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_Fish

If I would like to by my favourite Swedish candy, Ahlgrens bilar, where would I go? To IKEA, of course… So I did… But obviously they sell large quantities of ”Swedish fish” and the SWEDISH candy ”Ahlgrens bilar” were nowhere to be found in the store. Peculiar, since the candy cars are VERY popular in Sweden and would be, too, in America, if only the Americans had a chance to find them…

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Let’s hope @IKEA starts selling @Ahlgrens bilar at the Philly IKEA from now on! I am sure that 400 kids from a school in NJ will be very happy to buy them! I would too, when I return one day!

 

 

 

Fivehundred and fifth åsic- Saint Lucia brings the Light in the Dark!

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Saint Lucia or Saint Lucy of Syracuse, from round 300 AC, is today’s protagonist in many different settings… The legend says that Saint Lucia was born in Italy in Syracuse. She was of noble family, but since her father had died Saint Lucia and her mother didn’t have any other solution to support themselves but for the young Lucia to marry a rich man. Lucia, however, had already dedicated her heart to God and did everything in her power to prevent a marriage. According to the legend, Lucia’s eyes were very beautiful. She even tore her eyes out and gave them to one of the men who came to propose, because she wanted to discourage the man. When Lucia was buried her eyes had been restored through miracle and that was also why she was honored as a Saint during the Middle Ages (1).

Why would a country like Sweden celebrate a saint from Italy, you may think? In the winter Sweden and the other Nordic countries long for the summer not only because of the cold and snowy winter, but also because of the darkness. Saint Lucia is celebrated every year the 13th of December and in Sweden the tradition is still very important for Christmas celebration. Many of the traditional songs are sung not only the 13th, but also during Christmas.

Lucia processions are organized all over Sweden and throughout all different sectors in the society. Kids celebrate in pre-schools or schools and adults celebrate if they are choir members for instance. Many towns or cities i Sweden have their own Lucia processions and on TV they show the official Lucia show of the year.

As a young girl I was in my first Lucia procession when I was a few years old. As a teenager I started to sing in a girls choir called Bjursåsflickorna. We gave many Lucia concerts every year. One of the years we were asked to perform at a dinner in the Royal Castle in Stockholm. It was very exciting and a memorable moment. Princess Madeleine who is now a Mom herself, was climbing on the chairs and crawling under the table and was quite an active little girl at the time. The very same choir also performed a traditional Lucia concert at Lugnet’s sports stadium in April… We were pretending it was winter, because of some honorable guests from the International Olympic Comittée. One of them was the chairman at that time, Juan Antonio Samaranch. The idea was for us to sing to bring the Olympic Winter Games to Falun… Obviously that was a  mission impossible. Falun lost.

Singing for Lucia in strange places seemed to be one of the habits of this choir. I remember we even sang in the Falu Copper Mine, in almost complete darkness and with the damp vitriolic scent in our noses, helmets on our heads and just a candle to light our way down there. Very exciting and completely unique at that time. I know that later on, many other choirs have sung in the copper mine, too. Nowadays I come across Lucia processions ”by accident”, like for instance today when I visited the shopping mall Kupolen in Borlänge, or when students at school perform. I have also accompanied my own children on different occasions, but for myself, I would say my celebration of the Saint Lucia is found in memory lane…

Before I let you go, let’s just glance at a picture of a typical saffron bun, called ”lussekatt” in Swedish.

#lussekatter, #asaole

But hey… Why invent the wheel??? Please check this link from youtube in order to finally understand this topic!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy

Femhundraförsta åseriet- Med värmeljus vid arbetsdagens slut tänds kreativiteten

Jag läste ett av mina gamla åserier och noterade att den här tiden på året är ganska typisk. Även i år känner jag mig utarbetad och trött och varje stund jag är i klassrummet med eleverna så glömmer jag bort det. Men när jag kommer in i arbetsrummet återkommer känslan av att det är mörkt i november…

Det behövs egentligen inte så mycket för att tända en ny gnista av arbetslust. I fredags hade vi ett konstruktivt möte inför vårterminen. Nu är jag på det klara med vad som gäller och vem som ska göra vad. Trots att jag nu är mitt i slutfasen av den här terminen, så börjar jag ändå fundera på hur man kan jobba i början av januari… Är det inte märkligt att det är så?

Här är vad jag skrev detta datum för tre år sedan:

Mina elever slutade vid lunch och medan min underbara undervisande vän jobbade klart med sina elever, så hade jag hunnit läsa några kåserier  inför nästa vecka och fundera på några uppgifter, men sedan blev jag verkligen JÄTTETRÖTT.

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Att klockan då var 16 märkte jag eftersom fläktens surr äntligen upphörde och tystnaden bredde ut sig. Jag la upp fötterna i en fåtölj i arbetsrummet, hämtade en kvarbliven kudde som vi har i materialrummet och så blundade jag. Somnade gjorde jag inte, men jag nickade till och det var verkligen jätteskönt. Så kom hon, min finaste arbetskamrat K och hon ville att vi skulle diskutera upplägget för nästa termin. Min trötthet försvann i ett nafs och vi gjorde lite te, satte oss i ett nedsläckt arbetsrum med en grupp värmeljus på bordet emellan oss. Man smider planer bättre i mörkret…och dessutom flyger tankarna lättare. När klockan var 18.30 så insåg vi båda att inte endast tankarna flyger, utan också tiden! Att trivas på jobbet är så oerhört viktigt och att uppleva att man glömmer bort att gå hem är en ynnest. Vi hann inte klart idag, men det kommer nya dagar när det känns fint att stanna en stund. Med en arbetskamrat som K är lärarjobbet lätt som en plätt.

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