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An Afternoon at the Opera


For all my followers who know me and those who have just found me,  I am a city girl turned country gal, living in the Swedish countryside. It has been some time since I have had an opera evening to share with you. My business Li’l Sis Goat Milk Soap is keeping me quite busy. As much as I love my farm and life in the countryside, I still miss and enjoy when I can, city delights. One such delight is being able to watch live HD transmissions of opera direct from The Metropolitan Opera  in New York. Yes, I can attend and enjoy world class opera just 20 minutes from Gullringstorp! Yesterday I had the pleasure of viewing an opera that sat unfinished for many years. Prince Igor, by composer Alexander Borodin. In true Metropolitan Opera fashion, this Russian epic required and received a stage that was filled with the most wonderful chorus and the costumes and sets that transported you to the towns in Russia that were depicted in the opera. It was a story of power, protest, loss and recovery. Sound familiar? I could not help but think of the present day struggles that are now going on around the globe , most especially the struggle in Kiev, Ukraine. It was very beautiful and moving with a musical score with vocals sung by some of the finest opera voices from  Russia, Ukraine and Georgia. The orchestration and vocals along with the world class Metropolitan opera chorus, were magnificent and really touched my heart. Here are reviews from The Metropolitan Opera site:

Prince Igor

Approximate running time 4 hrs. 15 min. Borodin’s defining Russian epic, famous for its Polovtsian Dances, comes to the Met for the first time in nearly 100 years. Dmitri Tcherniakov’s new production is a brilliant psychological journey through the mind of its conflicted hero, with the founding of the Russian nation as the backdrop.

Star bass-baritone Ildar Abdrazakov takes on the monumental title role, with Gianandrea Noseda conducting. Dmitri Tcherniakov’s “wonderful staging is dreamlike, wrenchingly human and viscerally theatrical. The impressive cast, with many Russian singers, is headed by the compelling bass Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role… His Igor has moments of Italianate lyrical refinement. He brings passion, even a touch of neediness, to his exchanges with his devoted wife, Yaroslavna, the Ukrainian soprano Oksana Dyka in her Met debut. She is a classic Russian soprano with a cool, penetrating intensity, fearless high notes, and a glint of steel in her sound.” (New York Times)

“The charismatic Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili brings her plush, big voice and a sultry physicality to the role of Konchakovna.” (New York Times) Gianandrea Noseda “led a vibrant and textured performance… [conveying] the Russian character of the music, while conducting it with clarity and precision. The Met chorus is at its glorious best.” (New York Times)

Prince Igor’s triumphant return: the Met makes a masterpiece of an unlikely opera. [A performance that] would be the jewel of any opera company in any golden age.” (New York Observer)

“The Met has returned a long-absent marvel to its rightful place in the repertoire.” (New York Magazine)

“The hugely talented Tcherniakov [is] a director who also designs his own sets. These were terrific: neither abstract nor period medieval, they took us into more universal realms of fear, longing and despair.” (Bloomberg) “Ildar Abdrazakov masterfully probed Igor’s guilt and regret.” (Wall Street Journal)

There was much to understand and comprehend in this opera. As with any war or civil unrest, like a chess game, there are many moving pieces. to understand exactly what the opera was about, I have included, from the Metropolitan Opera website,the SYNOPSIS

Prologue The city-state of Putivl. Together with his son, Vladimir, Prince Igor gathers his army for a military campaign against the Polovtsians. A sudden solar eclipse frightens everybody. The people and Igor’s inner circle of boyars (nobles) take this as a bad omen and plead with Igor to postpone the campaign. Unnoticed by the army, two soldiers—Skula and Yeroshka—decide to desert: they do not want to risk their lives and are determined to stay behind in Putivl. Igor’s wife, Yaroslavna, pleads with Igor to remain at home, but he cannot be persuaded. The Prince bids farewell to her and leaves her in the care of her brother, Prince Vladimir Galitsky. The army of Igor and Vladimir sets out on their campaign.

Act I The Polovtsian steppes. The battle is lost. Igor’s army is destroyed, and he is taken prisoner by Khan Konchak, the chief of the Polovtsians. In his mind, the tormented Igor replays over and over everything that has happened. The beautiful Konchakovna, who is in love with Vladimir, appears to him. Then Yaroslavna appears. Then Ovlur appears, urging him to flee his captivity. Then Khan Konchak appears and offers his friendship as his guest of honor. Igor has a vision of the overwhelming joy of living life to its fullest.

Act II In Yaroslavna’s palace. Terrible nightmares and dark premonitions haunt Yaroslavna. There has not been any news from Igor for a long time. Young maidens come to Yaroslavna accusing Galitsky of going on a wild rampage in Putivl. They complain that Galitsky has abducted one of their friends and ask Yaroslavna to step in and demand that the girl be returned to them. Yaroslavna doesn’t have the power to deal with her brother. Galitsky behaves impertinently with his sister and threatens both her and Igor. In the court of Prince Galitsky, the men are having a drunken feast. Seeking still more power, Galitsky would like to exile Yaroslavna to a nunnery as part of his plan to replace Igor as the new Prince of Putivl. Skula and Yeroshka now support Galitsky’s claims. The young maidens come directly to Galitsky in a desperate attempt to save their friend, but the mob laughs at them, chasing them away. The drunken brawl reaches its climax; everyone prepares for revolt. Yaroslavna’s palace. The boyars bring Yaroslavna the tragic news of the army’s destruction and of Igor’s captivity, sending her into turmoil. In the meantime, Galitsky and his followers take advantage of the moment and revolt. Alarm bells announce imminent danger: the enemy advances on Putivl and in the ensuing panic Galitsky is killed.

Act III Putivl is destroyed and left in ruins. Yaroslavna has lost all hope for Igor’s return and weeps over her husband’s loss. Igor, who has in fact escaped from captivity, suddenly returns to destroyed Putivl. Torturous visions continue to haunt him. The tipsy Skula and Yeroshka discover Igor. In order to escape deserved punishment for treason, the cunning Skula suggests to Yeroshka that they be the first to summon the people to share the joyous news with them. Igor interrupts the crowd’s jubilation and addresses the people with words of repentance. He blames himself for all that has happened and calls upon everybody to unite and rebuild their destroyed lives.  

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Here is a video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZHtISoeGWQ

I may be a little goat herder in the Swedish countryside, but I step out of my world to enjoy wonderful culture whenever I can. As soon as I can get the score on my iPhone, my goats will  have a real treat in the stable.

Thank you for a wonderful and moving experience spent with the Metropolitan Opera of New York.


Antiques Anyone?

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So sorry to all my followers that I have been away from my blog for a while.  A lot of travel for my business Li’l Sis Goat Milk Soap and very busy here at Gullringstorp. Since I have been on the go so much, it’s been too easy to take quick photos and write a quick post on my Facebook pages. Please take a peek at what we have been up to both here at Gullringstorp with our goats and at Li’l Sis Goat Milk Soap.

https://www.facebook.com/gullringstorpgoatgal.gullringstorp

https://www.facebook.com/LilSisGoatMilkSoapSweden

Our little herd was tucked into bed early this evening. We had an engagement with a very well know antique expert, Peder Lamm from Stockholm and often seen on Swedish TV.

We were invited to Peders Antik Rally!!! Sweden’s version of Antique Road Show.It was great to see some familiar faces and enjoy all the antiques that were brought in for evaluation. It was really interesting to hear all about the artifacts that were brought in from antique spoons, vases, containers, baby pram, art work and antique books. I learned not only about he object, but interesting Swedish history.

We were served a wonderful dinner of curry kyckling och potatis ( chicken curry with potatoes ) and a desert. We had a choice of sparkling water or öl (beer).

We had great company at out table and great conversation.

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Thank you for the kind invitation.


Neighbor Party August 2013


At a Neighbor Party, the hosts, organize the entire evening for us. There are the games that start the evening off, then we retire to indoors for a beautifully laid buffet. After the meal comes desert along with coffee, then godis (candy snacks) and snaps and cognac. There will be active conversation from the recent harvest, to hat or straw bales to tractors. Information is shared and everyone, up and down our table is engaged in a conversation. After tractors, our end of the table was relegated to discussions about goats, then the soap making business, then tractors again. Our hosts were kind enough to arrange for a mini bus to pick us all up at preplanned locations. This was so kind and allowed everyone to be  free to drink as much as they wanted and not have to worry about the drive home. When we arrived at our host’s Inn (Värdshuset) in the woods just minutes away from Gullringstorp, our hosts greeted us outside in the garden. We were told of the events of the evening. I am pretty sure that this tradition is only in our neck of the woods, but there are outdoor activities well planned out for all the guests to participate in. Everyone enjoys the fun , no matter how silly. It’s great to see all of our hard-working neighbors leave the worried of the world behind and just have FUN! Our Planned evening:

Station 1 :  Drinks!     We walked through the beautiful woods and came upon the first station. There we had our choice of drink,  beer, whisky etc.

Station 2: Driving!   We were all wondering what we would be driving. We soon found out.

Station 3 : Tossing Frogs !  Oh dear, I all could think was, poor little frogs!

Station 4: Hot Air Balloons! We had  no idea. We soon found out.

Station 5: Up  to our waist in water !!! Oh dear! Station 6: Tire toss! Tire toss???? Oh dear.

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Gathering at the Inn

Gathering at the Inn

Our hostes was there to greet us

Our hostess came out  to greet us

Our host also came to greet us

Our host also came to greet us

Our hostess filled us in on our activities for the evening

Our hostess filled us in on our activities for the evening

Gustav thought our activities sounded  fun

Gustav thought our activities sounded fun

photo 2  Station 1 Drinks.  I had a white wine and my husband had a whisky photo photo

Station 2:  Driving!!

Remote controlled driving!

Remote controlled driving!

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Station 3: Tossing Frogs  Luckily they were NOT real frogs, but jelly frogs!

A bucket full of jelly green frogs

A bucket full of jelly green frogs

This is the water bucket we tossed the frogs into

This is the water bucket we tossed the frogs into

preparing to toss little green frogs

preparing to toss little green frogs

Leif tossing while Irene keeps score

Leif tossing while Irene keeps score

Station 4: Hot air balloon  Object of the game was to hold a balloon between your legs and walk around a chair 3 times

Station 5 : Up to your waist in water !  We weren’t actually! there was a glass of water on a piece of paper and the object was to pull the paper without spilling the water. What fun we had and so many laughs

Hard to see, but there is the glass sitting on a piece of paper

Hard to see, but there is the glass sitting on a piece of paper

Station 6 : Tire Toss  For some reason, I was picturing tractor tires and this would be an event for the men. What a surprise to find out that  it was a bike tire to be tosses over the back of a wooden lawn chair. It was a lot of fun for all. I made it twice!

Go Irene !

Go Irene !

Almost there Irene !

Almost there Irene !

Go Leif !

Go Leif !

Bosse made it over the chair!

Bosse made it over the chair!

All our event photos are only of my other team mates. The other teams were ahead of us and we didn’t really see them except at the end when al got together at the end. IMG_5433 IMG_5434 photo 3 IMG_5437 After all the teams had completed all the events, we waited for our hostess to welcome us inside to sit for our meal and drinks. IMG_5445

a bit of nature brought inside

a bit of nature brought inside

We had a beautiful buffet in the next room

We had a beautiful buffet in the next room

A chiffonade was laden with many varieties of tea and beautiful antique tea cups

A side board was laden with many varieties of tea and beautiful antique tea cups

Two very old beautiful paintings were hung in the buffet room

Two very old beautiful paintings were hung in the buffet room

One of the many antuiqe liting fixtures that were in the Inn

One of the many antique lighting fixtures that were in the Inn

A delicious variety of salads were prepared for us

A delicious variety of salads were prepared for us

This was my plate, an assortment of salads, pork and the hame, onion and egg pie with a roll with cheese

This was my plate, an assortment of salads, pork and the ham, onion and egg pie with a roll with cheese

We had wine and snaps along with beer

We had wine and snaps along with beer

Our hostes had assistants to take our beverage orders

Our hostess had assistants to take our beverage orders. They were so nice.

Our host in deep conversation with one of the guests

Our host in deep conversation with one of the guests

We enjoyed the beautiful meal and then it was time for a traditional Swedish event, Snaps Songs. We each got printed out song lists with lyrics and even the name of a familiar song that was the tune for this Snaps Song. We had lots of fun and everyone participated, even my husband.

This song was about OP a favorite variety of Snaps

This song was about O.P. a favorite variety of Snaps

After the songs we had desert and coffee.

A sweet little cake and my tea

A sweet little cake and my tea

It is a Swedish tradition for someone to stand up and say a special toast of thanks to our hosts.  Our hosts were thanked not only for the wonderful time, but for the food , drinks and good company. This evening it was my husband.

After some time has passed and we have all had plenty to eat and drink, it’s time for an all time favorite at our neighbor parties, Grilled Korv ( Hot Dogs) ! IMG_5472 IMG_5474 To our hosts,  Ann-Marie och Carl-Eric, we send a warm THANK YOU for such a lovely evening ! To our neighbors we send a warmTHANKS for the evening’s  enjoyable companionship. To our neighbors who were unable to attend, you were  MISSED, but please enjoy the fun here.


Li’l Sis Goat Milk Soap Attends Another Market in the Swedish Countryside


This was a tiny Handcrafts Market nestled in a beautiful wooded area of the Swedish countryside not far from home. We arrived early so we could get the “lay of the land” and choose our spot that would highlight Li’l Sis Goat Milk Soap table. In the end, I was quite happy with our choice. I love cozy nooks  and I found one nestled up next to a lovely little wooden building. I felt quite happy in our little space.

Everyone was  worried about the weather and prayed it would not rain. It became a joke that if it rained, everyone would have to take a bath with all my soap getting wet.

It was a lovely Market and we had a great day!

We were in the woods...

We were in the woods…

Every little village has a Hembygård, a social activities location

Every little village has a Hembyds gård, a social activities location                                                                                                                          

Time to unload the tables and everything to set up in our little corner of the Marknad

Time to unload the tables and everything to set up in our little corner of the Marknad

Li'l Sis Goat Milk Soap table was finally set up in our little nook

Li’l Sis Goat Milk Soap table was finally set up in our little nook

Once our table was set up, it was time to look around before the guest arrived

Once our table was set up, it was time to look around before the guest arrived

There was a woman working an old fashioned crochet piece

There was a woman working an old fashioned crochet producing a beautiful intricate piece

Look at that beautiful old Swedish spinning wheel. I would really like to have one of those

Look at that beautiful old Swedish spinning wheel. I would really like to have one of those

This lady was very skillful with the wool and that spinning wheel

This lady was very skillful with the wool and that spinning wheel

Local grown fresh farm produce. Oh the flavors of FRESH !

Local grown fresh farm produce. Oh the flavors of FRESH !

Baby plants for sale

Baby plants for sale

A common Swedish thing is to have a lottery at events and house parties. Well, Leif bought us two tickets and when I opened mine, it was #27. I was 27 whenI had my daughter so this was a lucky number even at the Marknad. I WON!!!

A common Swedish thing is to have a lottery at events and house parties. Well, Leif bought us two tickets and when I opened mine, it was #27. I was 27 whenI had my daughter so this was a lucky number even at the Marknad. I WON!!!

Parking for the Marknad was wherever you can find space in the woods

Parking for the Marknad was wherever you can find space in the woods

Swedish people are very fond of their waffles. They even have a Waffle Day. These are not the fat fluffy waffles, but thin crisp waffles topped with grädd (whipped crean) and sylt (jam). YUMMY !!!

Swedish people are very fond of their waffles. They even have a Waffle Day. These are not the fat fluffy waffles, but thin crisp waffles topped with grädd (whipped crean) and sylt (jam). YUMMY !!!

See,isn't it just so beautiful ? I wish you could smell it and taste it.

See, isn’t it just so beautiful ? I wish you could smell it and taste it.

Oh dear. Raindrops! I had to pack up  the bulk of the soaps and left one out for display

Oh dear. Raindrops! I had to pack up the bulk of the soaps and left one out for display

One of our dear neighbors, her son supplies the oats for our goats, with the bag I gave as a gift

One of our dear neighbors, her son supplies the oats for our goats, with the bag I gave as a gift

This cute little wooden building is actually a very old Swedish outhouse.

This cute little wooden building is actually a very old Swedish outhouse.

This is the inside of one side of the outhouse.

This is the inside of one side of the outhouse.

There's the side door for cleaning access

There’s the side door for cleaning access

Time to pack up. the sky didn't look so happy

Time to pack up. the sky didn’t look very happy

We packed up, made it home and got the goats in before the rain came

We packed up, made it home and got the goats in before the rain came

It was a great day with good sales and the best part, meeting nice new people. We are hoping to participate in a much larger Marknad in the South in July.

None of this would have been possible without my lovely goats.

Thank you ladies for your wonderful fresh goat milk!


Social Unrest in Sweden Spring 2013


When most of the world think of Sweden , they have a particular vision in mind. Happy Swedes, beautiful blue waters of the Archipelago, free education, Social medicine, neat , tidy and clean cities with clean,  fresh healthy air to breath. This vision of Sweden is not so very incorrect. But what is not known of Swedish society,  is the treatment and handling of immigrants who are either placed here in Sweden through UN or having arrived seeking asylum.  Sweden’s political policy is to accept immigrants and there is, apparently no roof on the number of immigrants that can cross the borders. This , on the surface sounds like the ideal way to approach the suffering and frightened people of the world who are entering Sweden. The problem is NOT that they are being admitted to this country,  it’s all about what happens once they are here.

There has been a brewing feeling of disenfranchisement and the feeling of non acceptance into Swedish society, by many immigrants. This is an unfortunate feeling and now it has crossed over to the next generation of immigrants. Immigrants can partake of the most minimal of  the Swedish Social Package, yet there is rampant unemployment. Unemployment amongst the immigrant population has nothing what so ever to do with the national unemployment issues. What Swedes don’t want to acknowledge is that there is an underlying discrimination pervading nearly all the kommuns of Sweden.

Swedes will use language as an excuse not to hire an immigrant. Even when the language is not an issue. To give an example, when I first came to Sweden and applied for a position of which I was qualified in a Veterinary Animal Surgery in Stockholm.  I was interviewed,  in English by 4 Veterinarians. I am not sure if everyone was trying to impress me or what , but every employee in the surgery, were speaking English.  At the conclusion of my lengthy interview, I was told that I was more qualified than anyone in the surgery, due to my education and experience, but that I could not be hired until I was 100% fluent in Swedish. This happened to me 12 yrs ago and I can never forget it. I was not applying for a front desk position to answer phones and accept patients, I applied to work in the back in surgery  with animals, for a job I was trained for.

Swedish is the national language, but as everywhere else in the world, English is also spoken, by all. But still the language is used as a way to discriminate. There is a practice here in Sweden for all immigrants and Swedes alike and it’s called praktik, you can work like an internship, without pay. I know of a woman with 3 children who was sent to Sweden after her countries involvement in war and she lost her husband.She is from Burundi and every time I speak with her , she is at a new praktik. She has been to at least 10 that I know of and still not offered a permanent position. Her work and previous education and work experience in her home country is not valued here in Sweden. One of my dearest friends is from Eritrea and spoke to me about the situation in Rinkaby an immigrant community outside of Stockholm. There are families living there and waiting for job opportunities, for years. Years ! The head of families who had positions in their countries and who were able to support their families have been just receiving monthly contribution money from the Kommun with no hope for a better future. There are suicides on a daily basis as the husbands and fathers see no way to contribute to the welfare of their families and all pride and self-worth is lost. Swedes would like to blame the immigrants for the drain of the “social pot” when if the truth is told , there are Swedes who systematically abuse the system , a system they know so well.  This wonderful social system we have here in Sweden will implode one day  and they will not be able to blame the immigrant on this.

What has been happening for the past 6 days is the result of a pressure cooker exploding. It was bound to happen. You can not just open your boarders to people and not take any further responsibility for them, beyond cramming the language down their throats and placing them on the outskirts of your major cities and society at large.

A BBC link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22656657


Morning Autumn Fog (dimma in Swedish) at Gullringstorp


A morning of fog at Gullringstorp:

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