To Magdalena Andersson,

My name is Candice and I have been living in Sweden for about thirteen years. It is a privilege to live here but my home will always be earth. I believe that we are all connected and it is only through the formation of these vital, human connections that we can hope to save Ukraine and the planet as a whole. Right now Europe is wracked with war and it is devastating and it is terrifying and I, like so many others, feel confused and helpless. On the one hand, it feels like humans have regressed. War is savage. We should know better than to abuse our neighbors, our wild, precious planet, our humanity, our resources, our culture wherein there exists so much creativity, passion and diversity. We can do better and yet here it is, a war in Europe. On the other hand, you have the courage of the Ukrainian people and all those who are willing to fight beside them, whether it is with weapons or words or resources or ideals. I have been impressed with Sweden’s willingness to help other countries in need, particularly in times of crisis and I am proud to live in a country that fights for the welfare of humanity as a whole. I am both an American and a Swedish citizen but first and foremost I am a human being and I know that we cannot live in a world where human beings are divided. In times like this we have to work together, we have to believe that the goodness in humanity is greater than the fear which precipitates hunger and misery.

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke. Can it really be for peace that we allow the hunger and the fear of one man (or a group of such individuals) to dominate and dictate our actions? Is it not also fear that silences us and ties our hands together? I am not a proponent of war and I believe that revenge only serves to perpetuate cruelty. We have a right to defend ourselves of course but the goal should always be for the betterment of humankind. I don’t have any solutions unfortunately but I will say that at the end of the day when we are lying in bed, unable to escape ourselves, it is a comfort to know that we have stood for something, that we have believed in something, that we have focused our efforts on love, hope, freedom, creative expression, and peace. Love might not conquer everything but I would rather invest in love, than terror and fear. So keep standing up. Keep raising your voice. In the midst of war be the one that shelters. I can’t speak for every citizen but personally I would rather live in a country governed by compassion. So provide whatever support you can and know that in saving one nation, you save us all.
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Heat

I tried to brush the heat from my skin

But it could not be knocked loose.

I sat in silence, the room empty and bright.

I knew somewhere there were fires going.

Fires that my heart had not wept.

Fires that ate up whole landscapes.

And the whole time I was going insane

Quietly so as not to invite attention.

My Christmas

Aina Stenberg 001

I don’t generally write blog posts but I thought I’d share my Christmas with you.

Traditionally Swedes put up their Christmas trees on December 22nd and then remove them on January 6th. Sam and I typically put our tree up on December 15th and remove it according to custom. We make a lot of our own ornaments. We have origami ornaments, ornaments made from melted beads, craftsy ornaments that Isadora makes in school, and ornaments that Sam carves from wood. Isadora and I paint the hand-carved decorations. Sam has a real knack for crafts. I have no such knack, I am the type of person to glue my hands together when making a simple collage. Other decorations include festive house plants, wreaths, lighted stars for the windows, advent candles, halmbocker (straw goats), tomte (santas), and trolls.

This year we celebrated on the 24th. Sam made milk free, gluten free blueberry pancakes for breakfast. After our meal we opened our gifts. Isadora received a drum, some jewelry, a Wii game and a Mulan costume. Sam received a clamp, a poem, and I believe he will buy a wood planer as well. I received some jewelry, a poncho sweater, an owl plushie, boxing gloves and a hand target (Sam and I will share), and a beautiful outfit.

Later in the day we had a brief talk with my mom on Skype. She lives in the country and her internet connection isn’t very stable so our conversations are very disjointed.

For dinner we had a Japanese hotpot which consisted of rice noodles, broth, veggies, mushrooms, shrimp, fried tofu, beef, and chicken. Sam cooked at the table on a hot plate except the beef and chicken which he prepared earlier in the day to ensure tenderness and flavor. For dessert we had a gluten free, milk free apple pie, oatmilk vanilla sauce, and cherry sauce. Isadora complimented the meal so much Sam thought I’d bribed her. I hadn’t bribed her it was just that delicious.

After dinner we watched The Polar Express. Last year we watched The Nightmare Before Christmas. Every year we watch a Christmas movie together.

On the 25th we celebrate with the in-laws. It is traditional to begin the day with rice porridge. An almond is placed in one of the rice porridge bowls and whoever finds the almond gets to make a wish. I have a milk allergy so I will skip that.

We do secret Santa for the adults (Sam and I, Sam’s parents, Sam’s sister, Sam’s other sister and her fiance). Everyone buys gifts for the children. There are only 2 children, one of which is mine, so it’s really no trouble. Every year one of the adults dresses up as Santa to pass out the gifts and every year Isadora gets hysterically excited (she’s been able to recognize the person since she was two but that’s not the point).

For snacks there are ginger bread cookies, homemade syrup cookies, homemade chocolate slices (also a cookie), homemade Swedish toffee, another homemade chewy chocolatey candy, and ice chocolates.

Dinner consists of: Swedish ham, baked salmon, potatis au gratin with anchovies, meatballs, prins korv, sil (horrible fish in jars), crisp bread, sliced cold-smoked salmon, glögg (spiced wine), and a salad.

After dinner and presents we watch Christmas cartoons. We are also working on a Gingerbread house =)

Photos from my city

DSCN1549I live very close to this church and it is inside of a park that I visit frequently

DSCN1559I walk over this bridge regularly on my walks with Isadora

DSCN1567Very cool area there is a system of bridges and lights in the evening it is very beautiful

DSCN1270This is a sign? that appears before the Viking runes that I find cute

DSCN1283Isadora balancing still at the rune site

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These are just a few photos from my world I have more but I am not confident in my photography skills yet and well I can’t upload too many at one time because of loading issues