7.25.2008

Almost home!

The whole gang on Morbror Lars's Birthday.
Lukas and Mikah helping Agneta Sjöstedt feeding her sheep.Lukas and Mikah making friends with Ulla the sheep.
Sitting on a moss covered stone that at night turns into a troll.Annelie and Lukas infront of a stone age hut.
Lukas working on his canoe.
Canoe finished, time for a ride!Grinding wheat, bronze age style.
Sampling different foods made during the bronze age.
Learning to master the bow and arrow.
Iron age burial field in forground, and bronze age dwelling in background. Mikah in front of an iron age house.
Lukas milking a cow at the cheese factory in Falköping. Mikah doing the same.

7.19.2008

Reading Life 32

Alamo Wars by Ray Villarreal

There is a danger that a many readers who start Villarreal's second novel for young adults (his first being My Father, The Angel of Death) will choose not to finish it. Here's why: for a good while, the characters are presented in a very stereotypical and flat way. The white kids, including the book's bully Billy Ray Cansler, are very one-dimensional. They play the part of ignorant racists. As do the Anglo teachers. The Mexican American and Mexican kids are bullied, are victimized by an uncaring white public school system. It would be a shame, though, if those readers did put the book down for these reasons. Though they are there, the book changes routes a few chapters after midway. Villarreal makes of most typed characters more fleshy ones. So don't despair, those of you (myself included in this bunch) who might think this book is one that bashes white folks outright. It turns into a book about admitting a misunderstanding of those very differences that traditionally keep us separate (culturally and racially speaking) and a sincere moving toward the beginning of acceptance of one another for who we are, period.

Anyhow, the story is this: Miss Mac, an icon at Rosemont Middle School in San Antonio, dies in the classroom. Several generations of students whose lives she touched are greatly saddened. In cleaning out her filing cabinets, Team 3 teacher and a long time friend, Mrs. Frymire finds a play that Miss Mac had written a long time back. To honor her friend, Mrs. Frymire talks folks into putting on the play, titled "Thirteen Days to Glory--The Battle of the Alamo." It's a great idea, except that according to some of the Mexican American students playing the parts of Mexicans One, Two, and Three, and according to Miss Mac's replacement, Miss Martinez, the play is a very one-sided look at the history of the battle, and the dialogue is more Speedy Gonzalez than accurate. People take sides: Marco, Raquel, Izzy, and Miss Martinez (and a few others) stand on the one side; Mrs. Frymire, Billy Ray, and others stand opposed. Production shuts down. Racial tension grows.

But Villarreal is not about spitting venom. He is, instead, about himself and his characters trying to find out for themselves who they are and where they stand on serious issues. And it is at this point in the story that the characters really and truly come alive, and they remain so to the end. It's a good book. Don't put it aside like I did time and again. Plug away at it, and you'll see for yourself, it is a good book.

7.17.2008

Sweden: The Farm

There had been a rumor that my brother-in-law, Erick, otherwise known on this blog as Anon in Dubai, was going to lift the stone at the farm, and he was willing to do it on video. Unfortunately, he "got sick" and is leaving Sweden today for Dubai and Tina, who would serve as videographer, my boys, and my folks-in-law are conveniently on a road trip. So the world and fate seem to have conspired against him. Have a safe trip back, you and Anna.

7.08.2008

Rene, remember that big pile of sticks and brush you helped build? Well, it's all gone!

Mikah picking more bluberries.


Mikah resting up on some of the burial stones.

Lukas climbing on some of the stones.


Lukas on a visit to domareringar (judging circles), about six to seven circles of stones put up 2000 years ago. It's an actual burial ground where even the giants were thought to have buried some of their own.

Morfar and the boys with a view of Jönköping in the background.

Mormor and the boys picking cherries on the top of Taberg.

Lukas and Mikah on top of Taberg.

View from the top of Taberg.

Mormor and Mikah on top of Taberg. Taberg is a mountian which contains a rare mineral, titanmagnetitolivinit, found only here and two other places in the world. Now you can go to the top of the other side of the mountian and look out.

still in Sweden

Well I geuss it's my turn to be the blog keeper; sorry, but I'm not as funny as René . Good thing Lukas and Mikah have a little humour. Here Mikah had gotten into his morbror Thomas's candy box and decided that the bigger pieces look best on the face.

Mikah picking blueberries at family camp in Kuvarp.
Lukas with his bountiful harvest.

Blueberry bush.

Kuvarp at midnight. Kuvarp, a little south of Jönköping, is where family camp was held.

7.04.2008

Happy Fourth of July!

Celebrating our nation's independence with family and friends is always a wonderful experience. This year was no exception over at the Reed's homestead. It was great to see all the folks again. I wish Tina and the boys had been there, too. Alas, I won't see them for another three or so weeks. The house is too quiet without them.