RIP Nelson Mandela – A free South Africa at peace with the world


President Barack Obama just said we will not likely see the likes of someone like Nelson Mandela again. It is hard to imagine otherwise, although we can hope for someone who can achieve almost superhuman change and transformation in the world the way Mandela did. Indeed I hope South Africa will embrace Mandela’s message and example and find peace and harmony internally.

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace.” – Nelson Mandela

If anyone deserves to rest in peace, it is Nelson Mandela.

Souk Market Amazing


I finally visited the new Souk Market in Charlottenberg (Norway/Sweden border shopping overload). It was amazing. I was alone in the store, so I could explore the aisles of previously unseen, exotic products from all over eastern Europe and the Middle East/northern Africa – loved it. It was also cheaper in many cases than all the other stores. Fabulous!

It kind of made me sad – thought a lot about Anna, my former colleague who passed away at the beginning of the year, because the store had SO MUCH Polish merchandise. I also found giant tins of poppy seed filling paste, Cheetos (!?), lots of different Lebanese and Turkish stuff – including some cardamom coffee. I did not stay long enough to explore everything, but it was a much-needed taste of diversity. Another good point – there is a suggestion box in the front just as you leave that had a note in Swedish and English asking patrons to write down any products they wanted and did not find because the store will aim to get them.

Downside, rain and +3C turned suddenly to -2C, crazy wind and snow – first real snow… did not make the drive home that lovely, but I am in control. Home safely, surrounded by candles.

Holiday baking plans


It does not matter what “holiday” it is, despite the Sarah Palin and Bill O’Reilly rants about the “war on Christmas”. I am only interested in making people eat more sugar and fat!

War on Christmas – The Daily Show

I’ve got plans. I don’t know if this will be a to-do list I manage to succeed at completing –but I will give it the old season’s greetings and holiday spirit (um, yeah…) and try to make as much happen as I can.

Preliminary plans:

Brown sugar cupcakes with maple frosting and candied bacon topping (not holiday-ish but promised to a colleague visiting from out of town)

Brown sugar heart with raspberry jam

Christmas M&M cookies

Russian tea cakes/Snowballs

Gingerbread men


Candy cane cookies

Chai chocolate cookies

Cranberry pistachio biscotti

Christmas red & green snickerdoodles

Green tea matcha shortbread with cherry

Spiced biscotti

Chocolate truffles

Raffaello cupcakes

Christmas sprinkle shortbread

What more? I know there should be more!

Scheming – agreed way to proceed


Every time I go on a “staycation” (hate that invented word but suddenly have occasion to abuse it) vacation, I intend to get a whole slew of things on a long to-do list done. Things start well but if I get derailed in some way (I like routine), I am really derailed, so I spend time reading and watching film after film. It’s for the best because the things on the to-do list are almost always work-related. Why would I spend my vacation working? I have done this all my life. This American work ethic (or insanity) never leaves, no matter how long you have been outside the US. The urge to work, check work email, be engaged instead of tuning out and turning off just buzzes under the skin. I am trying to retrain myself. But it’s difficult. One part of me wants to proceed one way, another part wants to proceed another. My lazy side is winning out because I am just so exhausted on every level right now. Usually I have to scheme with myself

Not that I watch “easy” things. I have watched some challenging documentaries, as usual. I have not just watched crap like the stupid film about Denzel Washington as an alcoholic airline pilot (stupid movie but I liked the small parts played by John Goodman and Don Cheadle), although I did watch that. Mostly I have chosen documentaries like Pink Ribbons, Inc., which also brought to mind the book Brand Aid and the whole idea of “cause marketing”. Or Hit So Hard, a documentary on former Hole drummer, Patty Schemel and her experiences in that and other bands, her drug addictions, her self-doubt and finally reaching some sort of peace with herself. And now Sons of Perdition, a documentary about the FLDS (Fundamental Latter Day Saints – a splinter group living far afield of the mainstream Mormon church and the young men who have left or been thrown off the “compound”. The film chronicles the “Lost Boys” of this group, exiled by the group’s leader, Warren Jeffs (who has been convicted of sexual assault against children in the US).

Most interesting was to see the juxtaposition between an entire family rejecting a member (as in Sons of Perdition) (“choosing between family and what someone else wants you to be”) and a family accepting a member even when she has not completely accepted herself (as it appears Patty Schemel’s mother did when Schemel came out as a lesbian in her teen years). Schemel may not have been completely comfortable with this, but it seems her mother loved and was proud of her in every way. (Naturally we are seeing only what the documentary gives us. I did enjoy Schemel’s mother’s reaction when Schemel was upset that she had made a pass at another girl (something similar), which was not reciprocated. Her mother indicated that there was nothing wrong with the feelings – there isn’t! – but that not much better could be expected. It’s Marysville (a “hicktown” in Washington state, north of Seattle. I know the feeling – I got in trouble for calling my own little Washington town a “hicktown” on the intercom system of my junior high. But for god’s sake – let’s agree to be honest. It was a hicktown!)