Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Leather Mosaic

Another Art-form

Long ago my son-in-law got a new line. ( He like his father-in-law was a furniture representative ) This was an Italian Leather, very modern, line of upholstered living room furniture. While visiting in their home-town, I discovered a slew of discontinued leather samples in their basement, and asked if I could have a couple. I wanted to see if I could use them in my business. One of my most favorite works of art happened in my trying to use this leather.

Since I was limited in the color selection, I decided to use black and white photographs as spring-boards for my appliques. I had a photo of my sister (born in 1916) as a four year old holding hands with my father's oldest sibling and one of her daughters, my cousin I discovered when I thought about it. Another cousin who was considered 'slow' is also in the photo. I had painted this group in black and white. A huge painting. It was bought by a prominent family on Bainbridge Island. When I did this in leather it was immediately adopted by one of our children. The three grownups in the photo all wore ankle length overcoats which made a stark strong impression. They were surrounded by snow and deep shadows, done in grays and blues. I quickly tried another and that too was absorbed by one of our children.

And while looking through these old black and white photos, I found one of the four Svensson children from about 1925, lined up behind our well. We were between the well and the fence which enclosed our property. from left to right it is me, my sister, my little brother holding a truck and my older brother holding a wooden gun. We are standing on the cobblestones which surrounded the well. The fence was painted barn red in reality. But what is the thing hanging on the fence? Behind me?

It is the mattress from my bed. I was a bed-wetter until I was a grown teenager. My mother always told me I did it on purpose. Nothing can be more embarrassing for a child than being a bed-wetter. I, every morning had to get up early to rinse my sheets and on clear days I had to hang them outside. It was such an open secret, Not so much when we lived by the beach, for no-one walked by, but after father died and mother had to buy a dry-good store in the middle of the village and the whole family moved there, then it was for the world to see. People did not seem to have much knowledge of psychology in those days, but I was happy to hear when I came to America that it was really my mother's fault that I had that problem. Nothing like that has ever happened since I left home and even now at nearly 90 I am not incontinent. ( What a thing to talk about !!!!)

Monday, March 30, 2009


A new page

After a long discussion with my number two daughter, I am making a new effort with my blog. It will be a little more structured and pre-planned. There will be writing of blogs on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the contents will be memories and present day life. I think my name dropping days are over, there are very few celebs living in this wonderful part of our Geography. Some may still pop up in my memory however.

I am involved with a project that is called FAKE IT IN FABRICS. I will explain how it came about. One day, when the mail arrived, I received a postcard from very good friends who were visiting in Washington DC. They had spent a couple of days going through the SMITHSONIAN MUSEUM and had bought the card there. It depicted a woman with flowers and it was painted by MATISSE. I was overjoyed to hear from my friends and I treasured the painting on the postcard. And then an ugly, avaricious feeling came over me. It was caused by the card. Reality told me, that no matter how old I would get, no matter how much money I could amass, I would never be able to buy a MATISSE. This feeling grew to horrid levels. I was groveling in it.

And then it was like waking up from a nightmare. I said to myself, I will make a MATISSE. I will copy this card in fabrics and I will own a MATISSE. I worked like a driven person and at the end I owned a MATISSE. I knew it was a fake, but it was beautiful. I framed it in an old Swedish frame and from a distance it was perfect. Up close it was perfect too, but one could see that a different kind of paint had been used. There was some machine stitching, but most of the stitching was by hand. All the yardage I found in my own drawers, left over from my quilting days.

I have made many FAKE IT IN FAbRICS since then. Most of them were used to sell in raffles for some worthy cause. I decided to try teaching this art on a HOLLAND AMERICAN CRUISE SHIP. So I began giving classes locally at the Senior Center here in Port Angeles. I made up several kits for people to chose from, did a little advertising and began with a very small class. People enjoyed what they were doing. I saw one of the results, framed perfectly, and told the student that it was better than mine.

I signed up for a cruise on AMSTERDAM who was going around the world. I tried before the cruise to see the officer who would be in charge of amusement and various classes and never made contact. So I took the cruise regardless, hoping to make arrangements while on board. The officer in charge of classes was totally into music and could care less about my offering. But the Cruise was fabulous and I will regale you with some of the high-lights at a later time,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Beth, and forgiveness

When Beth mentioned forgiveness, I flashed back on something I wrote years ago and how it made me feel that I could forgive my mother. I will try to synops what I wrote then, I was trying to write my mother's life and decided to begin with the day she brought me home from the hospital. It was around the first of February 1920. While she was gone being delivered of me, she had hired a neice, Greta, who was about 16 or 17 years old, to take care of the two children she loved. Often she would say her life was perfect and her two children were perfect. Birgit the eldest was 4 and Gunne was 2. She had no husband to help her, for he and his ship were in Calcutta, India at that moment.

When she arrived at the house with me squirming and crying, and having waited for hours for the doctor to come to release her from the hospital, she became irritated when she found the house in a messy state and found that Greta had not followed her directions. Mother told her to go home, which was a hasty order which she came to regret very quickly.

The two older children were down for naps and tis new baby was loud enough to wake them, so she put her into the baby carriage, covered her with all the blankets she could find and pushed her out into the farthest corner of the garden. She could think of only one thing, and it was about the coffee she would make herself as soon as she could get this heavy overcoat off. She draped her coat over the newel post in the hall.

She drew a deep breath and went out in the kitchen to start the cofffee. cofffee.SheShe reached the dipper into the one of the two pails with water and found them both empty. She sat down at the kitchen table, put her head down on her folded arms and cried. The doctor had told her to carry nothing that weighed more than the new baby for the first week home. Getting the water out of the well would cause her to lift more than she should. But there was no way the family could function without water.

She went out into the foyer, put her coat on and walked out into the furiously windy, cold afternoon. She told herself to take a trip to check on the baby. As she approached the carriage she heard she was still crying. She put her hand under the blankets and assured herself that the shrieking baby was warm enough. And then the problem of the water. She walked over to the well and there was no protection from the ice old wind. She tightened the coat and let the first pail down and half filled it, and then got it up over the rim and repeated the same moves with the second one. Replaced the cover on the well and picked up the pales of water, and with that she could tell she had over guessed her strength for she felt that she had hemmoraged. She got up the stairs to the veranda with the two pails but reflecting on the strengthening of the wind and rain she decided to use this time to bring the baby in, and for herself to use the out-house. She walked out into the garden to retrieve the baby, pulled the carriage up the five stairs to the veranda, went out again and headed toward the outhouse. This was in a Northern direction with nothing to protect her from the wind and that wind chilled her to the bones. She returned as quickly as possible and when she got back to the veranda she was met with more crying.

She had to change her protection and she had to check available diapers. With the water shortage she had to handle these things with care. she used some of the water to start washing some of the diapers that were dirtied while she was gone. She rinsed out half a dozen and put them to boil.

And then the coffee was put on to perk. As soon as the aroma became strong enough to seep under the kitchen door, there was a timid knock. Elina, Blenda's mother-in-law, who lived in the addition came to get her share of coffee. Her first question was Where is the baby. "I have her out on the veranda. I dont want her to wake up the two who are napping." It is much too cold out there. And so the story continued about getting the boiling diapers rinsed and up in the attic where they could be hunng up to dry. Getting the two children who were napping dressed and with their afternoon treat.
Elina was in her late 80ies and very weak. She had a severe case of scholiosis, probably caused by having too many children and not enough money for milk when she was young. She was a sweet lady and when I was six years old she died and we all missed her. When I was eight years old my maternal grandfather died and he was stern and looked like Santa Clause with a huge white beard.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

LMK asked a question

LMK asked about my reasons for wanting to go to America. i have talked about it before but I will dig into it more deeply and see what emerges. It had a lot to do with my mother. She had told her friends and told me, so many times about her third pregnancy. There was nothing a woman could do to prevent or terminate a pregnancy. There were knitting needles and such but l guess there were many stories about the tragedy that often happened after attempting that course. She claimed she had a perfect family and then discovered that she was pregnant again.

My father was a captain in the Merchant Marine and usually he was gone for a year or a year and a half. When he returned home, I guess he insisted on having sex with his gorgeous wife, and as far as I know there were no birth control pills in those days. So she tried everything she could do to terminate the pregnancy. She said she rode her bicycle over rocks and through potholes in the roads. She took some kind of baths that were rumored to cause a miscarriage and tried everything to lose me. All this was understandable but why did she talk about it all the time? She would be having a cup of coffee with a friend and she would tell her for the fourteenth time. With me and my siblings in the room.

And then I was born and I turned out to be the most difficult child ever invented. When she brought me home from the hospital she could not stand hearing me cry so she pushed me out in the baby carriage to the farthest corner of the garden. This of course I do not remember, but I remember the talk about it. Everything to make me feel wanted and loved. I think I probably early said to myself, Can't wait to blow this place.

My sister who was perfect, she really was a wonderful intelligent person, but very sickly. Early on my mother decided she should go to the best School and there she did very well. When it became my time to go to some school other than what was offered in our little village, mother decided one in a different town was good enough for me. There was no bus service in that direction. I had to go on my bicycle. In Sweden the weather can be quite horrid and I remember going North on the road along the coast when the wind was so strong it could keep you from moving. Suddenly it turned out that I had some kind of heart trouble and the doctor said I could no longer go on my bike to school. And so I was able to go to the same school my sister did. This changed my life for it was more than just a reading, writing thing. School became a finishing type of thing. It built my confidence in myself and it made me realize that if I wanted to become more than what I was, I had to go elsewhere.

And so after I had graduated from that school and spent the summer doing what I wrote about in my last blog, an aunt came home from America and she offered to pay for my sister to go with her back to the states. My sister was not able to go because of her lungs and so hesitantly my aunt offered to take me. She of course had heard much about how difficult I was and so she was hesitant. I was overjoyed and when my Visa arrived in time I was gone and the rest is history. I have never regretted becoming an American. I love it here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A memory from Sweden

One year, the year I graduated from school, we were invited to work in a hospital in a town nearby. There must have been a sign that nursing staff was going to shrink, and ours was probably a test to see if we should go to nursing school. I did not last long, for the opportunity to go to America came up in the middle of my early 'nursing' career.

There are many gaps in my memory of this summer. I do not remember where we lived, only know that it was somewhere in the hospital. We were tested for a difficult life, we were glorified cleaning women, I remember washing down walls made of white little squares of tiles, in a hall that seemed to stretch into the next county. I remember being told I had to work at night, checking up on patients when they rang their bells. There was one nurse covering three buildings and slaves like me in each of those three buildings. People who knew nothing in other words. It was the scariest time I ever lived through. There were patients who died before the real nurse managed to make it to our building. When I experienced death the first time, and cried hysterically the nurse assured me that it was not my fault, this patient was supposed to die that night or the next. I must have tried to forget this episode of my life. It was too hurtful to remember.

I remember one occurrence that scared me spit-less. I discovered a ( I can't remember the name of the object. the thing the doctor puts in his ears to listen to the heartbeat of the patient) Anyway, this thing was hanging on a hook next to the doctor's white coat. I stuck it in my ears and listened to my own heart. The sound was so loud and so deep and so disturbing. I have never forgotten it. I guess there was a measure of guilt attached to it, for I was not supposed to touch this man's equipment. I was overjoyed when I found out I could emigrate to America

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Someone held my hand

I have spent the day reading my blogs from the beginning. It was a fun way of re-living my life, in more ways than one. I read every comment and I am so impressed with your generosity. Some of them I had forgotten but I have never forgotten the wall of well wishers that were there for me. I have to write to Shreve and tell her how my life changed when she made me a blogger. I do fell warm with all my new family.

Friday was a special day. There were chores to be done in the early part of the day. At noon I had promised a neighbor to drive us to lunch and bridge afternoon. I had fabulous cards and won the little potted flower that adorn our lunch table. Also a cute little teapot filled with chocolates. We drove home to our cottages and from four to five we rested (and fed the animals and sent them out to be safe for their later shut-ins) At five we went to investigate the monthly ART WALK. We attended only two of the affairs.

The first was a book signing venture. The woman author had written her first book. I have known her slightly since we moved here. The venue for her was the gift store called Necessities and Temptations, owned by an old friend who in the newspaper had promised to furnish wine and chocolates. I had a thimble full of wine (I was driving) and a couple of candies. The first one was filled with marzipan. (difficult to find) So I had to buy a half pound.

We went across the street to investigate another artist, painter and wood worker whose name is Ole Olson. He had to be a Swede with the on ending his name. And sure enough he was and his wife was a Norwegian. She was interesting beyond that, for she is the new minister in the Methodist Church. We have heard so much about her and her successes in rebuilding the attendance. The food at the gallery was unbelievable. Hot Swedish meatballs and Sushi with that wonderful green mustard. We stayed three meatballs and one sushi worth. But we were very impressed with the two .

So impressed in fact, that we decided to go to church today. And everything that had been said about the warmth and the Well-Coming in that church is not an exaggeration. We felt very Well-Come.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Brodway Shows

Fire Fox asked me if I had ever seen a Broadway Show. That's a fun comment to respond to. Some of this will be repeated stories.
When I arrived in NY in 1938 I was disappointed at the level of Democracy. It didn't take long to learn about the treatment of blacks in the South. And the treatment of Jewish people in NYC one didn't have to read about, it was evident on the sidewalks of the city. Everything was open for someone like me. A dumb Swede. How unfair. I was eager to immigrate, childishly because I had learned that people received Easter gifts. But later in school, when we learned about the fact that anything was possible in America. Of course, we felt that what that meant, was that everything was possible for all people. That was a rude awakening.

I read NATIVE SON and when it became a play on Broadway I was elated when a male aquanintance asked me to go to see the play. When the play was over, and everything emotional had been wrung out of us, we went backstage for my friend to interview Canada Lee, the star of the show. When we met Canada he kissed my hand and I thrilled to the gesture. It was noisy in his dressing room and so he asked us to come up to Harlem to his restaurant called THE CHICKEN COOP. When we arrived we joined the group around Canada. There were writers and dancers and an occasional Policeman who came in off the street to share the congratulations that were heaped on the Star. It was a fun evening.

Later I saw LILIUM with Ingrid Bergman and since I had been backstage before, I went back there and told her what a great job she was doing. I spoke to her in Swedish and she uttered a few canned words in exchange. The house where I worked sent the whole domestic staff into NYC for a play or some big offering at the Garden and once to the Opera. These were monthly affairs. I do not remember which opera we heard. It might have been MADAMA BUTTERFLY, for when many year later when Sam and I were invited to hear madam Butterfly in Stockholm I knew I had heard it before. Bt this time it was sung in Swedish.
Sam and I tried to get tickets to OKLAHOMA when we spent our honeymoon in NYC in 1943. We were unsuccessful. We did see LES MISERABLE one day much later, when our daughter number three and her husband gave us air tickets and theatre tickets for our fiftieth anniversary.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Something happened to my computer and I was separated from Safari and my ability to send a blog. I called one of my granddaughters, and in two seconds she was able to tell me what to do. I can't get over how smart young people are. i wish I had made an effort when I was younger to master this science. But I am grateful for what I have learned and am very grateful to the people who can help me out of my home-made problems.

A couple of days ago I received comments, two of them sent a few min. apart and one other message which is usually a joke of some sort. So I hit on that and then without reading it I hit to make it disappear. It did, but the two comments did too. I value the comments I get so much and I was devastated when I lost two without remembering the names and without having read them first. If there is a reader who can say: That's me ! Please repeat what you said. It was sent during this last week.

Friday night I watched NOW on channel nine. It was an interview with an actor named John Lithgow. I have always admired him and there is something so riveting in his voice. He has written a book and the book includes some of his favorite poems. He can even read sonnets and long parts of Shakespeare's dramas and keep you totally absorbed. And when he read ' Don't go calmly into .......... it caused hysterical weeping from my usually calm nature. It was the poem that Sam had asked us to read at the party he had asked us to have after his death. He did not want a funeral but instead a huge party with "lots of whiskey" It was a wonderful way to say good-by. The party was held outside on the beach. All seven grandchildren were helping and all our friends were sad to say Farewell to Sam.

I am glad my computer is cooperating again. I miss my link to to all my new friends. I will try to be more regular in my blogging. This week has been strange. Next Sunday I may go to California with daughter number one and her husband. His business may keep him grounded in Washington for another week and then the promise of a house in Capitola will have elapsed. Time will tell.

I have to tell you about the ten minute blizzard I lived through on Saturday morning. I took two ladies from here to the Sale at Gottschalks, a store which appears to be going out of business. It was freezing cold and the sky over the mountains was black. We surmised that we would have to hurry or else be caught in the snow. We had an hour to find something sensational on sale. We were all lucky and found great things on sale. I bought three sleeveless T-shirts to wear if we get to go to California. The three shirts with a famous name cost totally $4.14. The three of us reunited and I asked if we should celebrate and go get a cup of coffee, and all agreed. On our way home the sky had darkened. I let my fares out near their cottages and drove around the alley to my garage. After I parked my car and closed the garage-door, the snow came. I had never been in a blizzard before but what hit me on the way to my cottage was one of the most frightening things. I remember reading stories about blizzards in the midwest where people tied ropes from the door of the house to the door of the out-house or else they could get lost. Our blizzard didn't last through the night, it didn't last more than an hour. The wind died down and the world was white. for an hour or two. then the sun was shining and the grass turned green again. But only till dusk, when we were treated to another storm. Today the temperature was warmer and all signs of snow are gone.