Lake Lygnern; My Quarantine Companion

(Remnants of Isolation 2020-22)
As a young adult living in Vermont, USA, tuning into a regular radio broadcast on Sunday morning with a warm mug of dark roasted coffee was a soulful retreat from the busy hum drudgery of the week. Garrison Keillor’s radio broadcast, “Prairie Home Companion” was exactly that, a delightful guest in my kitchen, a welcomed visitor with a smooth and soothing voice. The program was broadcast live from Minnesota, far away from the familiarity of my view of Mount Mansfield, part of the Green Mountain chain, where tall dark pines grew as far as the eye could see and neatly stacked firewood lined my weathered fence, much in need of mending.
His famous quote, “Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” His smooth tone ensured my next hour was pleasant and the inner reflections silence brings would quell any worries.
I now live on Sweden’s west coast beside a lake named Lygnern. I am far from Vermont, even further from “Lake Wobegon” and soon for ten years this view from my bedroom window has given me insurmountable pleasure.
Although I have human companions, two furry Lepus who have leapt into my heart (domestic rabbits of the Teddy Bear and Lion haired-breeds) and spoiled Hedemora chickens, the comforting confinement I once chose has now become a quarantine for survival.
I have seen the lake shine like an ice-covered pond on sunny days, frothy waves rustling from gales off the North Sea, moon beams bouncing playfully and Lygnern completely hidden by heavy fog.
This body of water I have become enchanted with is my companion and I its guest. I have sat on the edge of my bed crying with only Lygnern as my witness and comfort. I have sat with my husband on warm summer evenings by the shore, hands embraced, our eyes indulging in its romantic hues. Our love deepens while the water ebbs and it has become the idealistic metaphor of daily life. I have watched children splash, laugh and wild water swimmers tackle this natural playground.
Now I look out and feel the anxiety of the pandemic, grateful for living away from the city yet Lygnern has not changed. It does not reflect fear, rather harbors the history of our region and continues to offer up beauty and solace. It survived the cholera epidemic and on ridges near are graveyards of our village victims who once fished and swam in this lake, too. It has had rowboats browse these shores for centuries, ferries of wedding parties and been the backdrop for celebrations and gaiety for those long gone.
Lygnern embodies in its wake the memories we both cherish and take for granted.
From my window Lygnern will continue to be my companion differently than any other. All who have a view develop their own relationship with it. My worries flow and my hope grows; each day or even hour this lake offers gracefully and precisely what I need.
For those alone during this history in the making, the 2020th year and onward shall forever induce memories of solitude; your view is up to you to create. If you look out and spy a streetlamp or a seagull, they are your personal mirror of Now.
In solitude may we all find a path to inner peace by opening the pages of a book that takes us far away from our physical quarantine, tune in and listen to others and imagine your own comforting scenery.
I never saw Lake Wobegon or met Garrison Keillor, yet they were as comforting every Sunday as an old friend who’d popped into town and surprised me.
From Lake Lygnern I send each one of you a picturesque view during difficult times, and with a warm heart, I wish your days to be a bit brighter than the day before.
I will continue to write from my perch above Lygnern in my cosiest sweater and I will commit to compliance not complacency while breathing in my view of this historically rich land and water. From outside the city, where the lake listens, the sun rises and sets and yes, we all `” think” we are good looking, Peace.

Double Rainbow Over Lygnern

Photo By Magnus Polla




Three in the Morning; A Recipe for Letting Go.

Photo by ROCK

An angel from nature saw me sinking and swiftly pulled me through the fog. I had waited and waited for you to call. I heard sweet birds cooing and left my tears on the stone path to dry, for the beauty of my surroundings were stronger than my sigh. Rumbling in the trees a tiny deer appears nibbling on a plum tree bud with it’s tiny little ears. I do not frighten her for she knows we are one. I repeat “I am special”, “I am kind”, “I am full of love to give to all mankind”. LittleMe rises up from my deepest darkest space and ROCK quickly makes a move and puts her back in place. I will not let my love be taken by those who dare not see that I am grateful for myself, I at least still have me.

All Aboard; It’s the Pain Train

Photo by Alvaro Matzumura on Pexels.com

All aboard! It’s the Pain Train. My seat is permanent, my choices are few and I can’t go to the bar car, the toilet or be around others without making a huge fuss, therefore I choose to stay in my assigned seat. No one can help me; I own this pain. Looking out the window the world flies past and life is taking off at a speed I can’t cope with. The conductor is my nervous system colliding with my brain’s reactions to every tiny bit of stimulus. I see you and I care but I am off track and my brain signals are traveling at such a rate that I do not understand the smallest of conversations or even my own thoughts. This is not the train anyone with any healthy lifestyle wants to board; but it is packed. People are laying in the aisles and hoping for assistance, recognition and acceptance. Chronic Pain Syndrome or CPS is an official diagnosis now by WHO, (no not the band) , rather the World Health Organization. I was recently diagnosed with a severe form that has caused me to lose my vocabulary, shortened my fuses so to speak causing me to be easily startled, reacting with a scream or even sobbing as if the whole world is ending. In some ways, on some days, it actually does feel like a hopeless battle to live this life and ride this train. I have a collision of diagnosis. Degenerative Disc Disease, an inherited condition that I’ve known of since I was in my twenties turned from a back ache after gardening into the most severe form fast in my late forties. At that time I was given 20mg patches of morphine that I changed every few days. I believed this was as bad as it could get then. Yet, I was swimming, walking and riding my bicycle still. I also was cooking which I love to do. From there I slowly began to develop boney growths jutting inward toward my throat and spinal cord and I was told I had unfortunatly signs of early onset osteoporosis. I was put on a bone mineral supplement and more vitamin D and calcium was prescribed. Can’t get worse than this I thought, until it did. A spinal specialist said there was nothing that could be done. I not only have scoliosis, but also severe arthritis and various deformations head to toe. Earlier I had been sent to a university hospital rheumatologist who diagnosed me with fibromyagia, something I would not accept or grasp until I had the most severe flare I have ever had recenty. ( I am recooping now yet have a lot of work to be steadily on my feet again). The Dr.’s who upped the morphine years ago are unable to treat me now. I will say it barely takes the edge off on 30mgs daily slow release which includes fast acting oxynorm up to three times a day, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, blah blah blah. The more boney growths, the worse my spine becomes. Earlier I was walking with a rolater and or crutches or a cane. Sitting was and remains one of my worst enemies but as I said, my seat is assigned for life. I then contracted covid in March of this year after three vaccinations; the very first time I went out into the city I caught it. I have not regained my strength, have developed chronic asthma and sleep as if in a coma or swing to the other extreme, experiencing severe insomnia and nothing will knock me out. My head hurts daily, I now have tinnitus and vision issues. The train chugs along and now I am in cue for a pain specialist rehabilitation hospital north of Stockholm. I never write about physical pain because I don’t know how to project the feeling with words so that others understand. I know that a really nice man, the husband of an American friend said the right thing one time years ago and it stuck with me. “Hello, it’s nice to see you are having what looks like a relatively good day”. It meant the world that someone knew my good days were fewer than my bad and that he also understood people like me don’t get better, we are chronically living in a state of pain that can ease up a bit but never leaves us completely blissful. For all the readers and writers out there who are living with CPS, I understand you now. I am sorry that I did not understand what my fellow passengers were experiencing until now. Mental health is important to address for everyone and somehow I let mine fall apart. Hopefully after my stay in the Pain Rehabilitation hospital (Uppsala University Hospital) I will be able to read with focus, write with more clarity, listen to others and converse, start walking for my overall health and socializing a bit more with those who have hung in there with me. I will still ride the train with you and I will try to reach out to all of you much more. Remember, you are not alone. We are on board together.

If Patty Smith Came to Dinner…

She would love the old farmhouse and joke about marijuana not being legal in Sweden. She would look at all of my art and feel something. I would have a hard time keeping up the conversation because of my fibromyalgia flare, non stop headaches and chronic pain syndrome. My spine wouldn’t let me cook her one of my famous soups so I would put out a nice bottle of red wine, lay fresh wild flowers by her glass and talk about how fucked up the world is and how we can’t do enough in our short lives to save it. I think I could manage to make a Västerbotten pie which is a Swedish favorite and saute kale, shredded cauliflower and sesame seeds with chili flakes and grill corn. I wonder if she likes caviar. My pain would overwhelm me and I would need extra morphine. I’d tell her how her Easter album changed me, made me feel less guilt and oppression internally from my Bible belt upbringing. I think she’d like me. Maybe I would touch her wild gray hair and talk to her about Bob Dylan and how he can’t be repeated, reincarnated and how many people idolize his ability to hit his listeners over the head with an iron skillet, while repeatedly trying to wake society up. I would serve sweet strawberries and cream and she wouldn’t care that I was in my pajamas because I hurt so much. She would probably not stay over and have ” a guy” that drives her around smoking camels in my driveway. She would hug me and I’d ask if we could take a selfie. She’d oblige and get into a black SUV with dark windows and slowly the driver would make it around the barn, past the silos and I would feel satisfied how well it all went and write a long journal entry. I would call my friends and they’d doubt me. I would have met a rockin’ icon and remember how she empowered all women to continue to stand up and raise our community UP to higher ground.

Fallen Angel; Accepting I can not Fly Alone

In this show, on this stage, a giant yet fragile marionette is lowered slowly; as the black velvet curtains part one can see what appears to be an angel flying, sustaining herself with her own elegant wings; no one would surmise that she was not magical at all, nor that she was so delicate that any moment she could break into bits destroying the opening act. She was held together like all puppets with strings attached to, well every part of her. Above her was a monster both good and bad, one who could help her move and also yank her off stage without notice, ending her performance so swiftly that she lost her breath. The monster was made of a slew of chemicals, medicinal ones that gave her just enough energy to be amongst others and move. Some days the monster although well meaning didn’t move her at all. The monster called in her true protector, her friend since childhood with hopes he could guide her with the grief she swam in. Rock said, “other’s are also struggling to perform, to get out and do their best, to live with no strings attached. Some strings are superficial and some are real. You must learn to accept the monster made from the God’s as your friend to live a better life; Morpheus is the monster’s name.” Although Morpheus was powerful, some days even he was not enough. Some days Morpheus lifted her with ease and she glided across the stage, in flight with next to no pain and yet other times she lay in a wooden, splintered heap in her lonely marionette box. Her wings were her freedom. When she was flying she smiled and saw the world as a beautiful place despite it’s absurdities, when her wings ached and she couldn’t even flutter she sank deeper into her box and Morpheus would close her eyes awhile and there she would stay, dreaming of the old days when she flew and saw green tree tops with baby bird’s nests, lover’s hand in hand sitting on picnic blankets and all the colours on the spectrum called Life.

Memoirs in a Mirror; Ageless Love

 Memoirs in the Mirror
Photo by Magnus Polla

As I write about broken heart’s being mended with Al Green singing in the background I am ushered into my most vulnerable piece of self. Love is renewable and must be revisited day after day, year after year. Rock was and is still very protective of my shattered and deepest self yet LOVE is a journey I once ran through, jumped over waves for and got lost in so deeply that I could not find my way back to who I am. I still inhale the smell of you even when you aren’t near and I still get jealous after nearly two decades of “us”. Remember our passionate first meeting? An autumn blend of whimsical laughter, intellectual virility, a chemistry so robust with first love sensations and our everlasting amusements, surely you recall? What about the sunsets in Amalfi, sunrises by the sea and how I looked across the table over coffee in to your eyes on the veranda and felt like I could fall out of my chair? Now in the mirror a version of me I am still trying to get to know. I hold on to our kisses in the lush Swedish forests, our dancing in the living room at midnight on New Year’s eve and the smile in your eyes when I once did something so simple as to make a hearty, warm soup from my heart to feed us. I can feel as if I am losing this battle with my body; I am not afraid of my pain, but of yours. Must you keep picking me up off the floor or guiding me when my balance is askew? Will I hold you back from finding out more about yourself? I want to walk through our life of mirrors and see everyday we had together; the tipsy Bloody Mary Sunday brunch in Andersonville, the heartache when we could not be together, you holding me in your arms and saying, “you’re the girl I always wanted”. I say “Bravo” for the way we have blended our differences into a special cocktail that tastes a tad like southern moonshine with a bit of je ne sais quoi. You know most all of me, my fears of losing those I love, my need to hold on and never let go of anyone and how I wish my childhood could be redone. You know how much I adored my big family, my mother and my insistance that we are not at all alike (but we are). You know how I hate feeling left behind, the story of not getting matching pajamas like my sisters, my pathetic need to repeat stories of my emotional scars, my greatest mentors and my need to have a best friend always and how afraid I am to be alone. You know I love pigs and bunnies and how I want to save the world around me, and how easily I cry when I realise I can’t even save myself. You know how to fix my drugs, treat my physical pain, how to handle my anger at myself for ruining plans, burning food, forgetting I am running a bath, forgetting one language and speaking another and you are still here, loving me despite my body’s falter, my mind forgetting my intentions. I lose my self into old songs, red wine and wish I coud promise to be here a long, long time. You are the boy of my dreams, too. I love you. I love you. I love you. You know I am repetitive.

Unlock My Sanctuary

It’s key is hidden, I misplaced it among my own feelings again. I am alone inside a body that lets me down, hurts me and I can’t get out. I see me walking like Jesus across the sea and then sink without a fight, drowning in my mysterious mind. I am so grateful yet undeserving of salvation. Sanctuaries for Love should be everywhere, not just for those seeking redemption from our earthly delights that were indulgent or a sinful play that some grand Creator would frown upon. The gates are always open to love more, release ourselves from our own arrogant beliefs. I am burdened by carrying me through life; how then can I carry some one else? I see a white wooden columned southern USA colonial home with a long drive and weeping willows, a big porch and spinning ceiling fans. I am the youngest broken one there and I try to cheer my southern company with kind regards and smiles. I am in a sanctuary where I no longer feel like a worthless woman. I make a difference because I am not in the agony that I rise and face each morning. I can quit because I will no longer ruin other’s good times or my own. I can be quiet. I can be kept and have tea and maybe sometimes I will wonder about Jesus and God and bad and good but I will be my own judge as my heart is pure.

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

Not Forever; A Silent Viking’s View on God’s and Love

Soon he would say goodbye, doubtful his first taste of love would wait; boarding on the longship would begin at sunrise after two more nightfalls. He was not at ease nor feeling dutiful to set sail, his rough, calloused hands had been assigned to row, his grey eyes already set on defeat. In the chilly night he and his lover kept warm under a sheath of tanned hide; a warm fire encircled with stones lit up their faces. His lover was cold, she had been sweating earlier and she shared with him that perhaps she was carrying his baby. It had been two moons since her last cleansing. He held her close and rubbed her hands in his own. All night he stayed up, keeping the fire crackling and he called for a wise woman to look at his betrothed. He was given garlic for his neck and a tonic that tasted bitter as nettles to sip. He must prepare to board the longship and not fall ill. The woman wiped carefully with cool cloths the forehead and the nape of his lady’s neck and said she should be moved to the women’s tent so he too might rest. He was reluctant yet never questioned this miracle of her gifts from the God’s and believed in the sunrise of his departure his love would encircle him with the other strong women and sing a prayer to the heavens. At last he fell asleep and the fire dwindled. He was a large man, of long height with a wooly red beard; for years he had been called to help others lift heavy logs, roll stones and fell trees for boat building. His stomach grumbled and his dreams brought him no peace. His eyes closed, his mouth agape, a gurgling snore erupted. Deep within his dream state he saw his own mother, her pale white face, her eyes weary yet loving; she spoke. “Son of Gudrun, son of Ove, lift your spirit up to see. It’s been eighteen moons since we saw you. Your sister Ulla is here, too. Their faces were like a portrait in beautiful pastel inks. The heavens were soft as the first spring day when the sight of white and purple forest flowers burst through the edges of the footpath, gay as the laughter of friends when the sun was long in the sky, days were easier, their heart’s lightened by the dark winter’s end. Time for merriment and the smell of baking bread, the homecoming of the longship, strong fermented ales and hearty stews and loaves of bread with berries he could taste so sweet; stirred he woke with a gasp. One sunrise had come. He stood and walked to the women’s healing tent and the flaps were sewn shut with thick leather. “Naaaaay”, he screamed and he ran to the morning fire keepers boiling coffee and sharing porridge. Breathless, he asked if his lady was in the tent still. Blue eyes looked at one another and down. He knew the answer. He kicked the first iron pot and it swung from it’s iron chains molted flawlessly by the black smith and his apprentice. Hot scalding water splashed and the men jumped back. An old man who laid on sheep skin by the fire called for him to sit by him. His heart rapid, his cheeks red with rage, he succumbed to his elder. ” What can you say to comfort me?” The man, thin and weak voiced motioned for the giant, frightened man to sit beside him. “Are you the son of Gudrun and the sister of Ulla?” The old man already knew but asked even so. “Ya, I am.” Do you think, son of Ove that your father created such acts of arrogance when the God’s called his wife and daughter up?” Silence. “What name did they leave you?” “I am Per Ove’s son.”Well Per Ovesson do you dare to guess the will of the heavens? Are you in fear of the sea and hunger? Are you a messenger or do you serve?” ” I serve.” The so very big man, Per, son of Gudrun and Ove, brother of Ulla wept. The elderly man handed Per a smooth stone to rub and called for porridge. The big man, the thin elder and the fire keepers stood close. One by one they placed a hand on his shoulder and walked on. Night fell again and he laid by his fire alone sipping the bitter nettle tea. He did not want to dream and the silence soothed him. It had been nine cut logs when a woman he’d never seen came to stand before him. “You may see your lady now”. His lips felt numb, his eyes ashamed and he said, “Why do you want me to feel more pain?” The woman outstretched her hand and he stood. When they came closer to the tent the woman lifted the flap and there lay a clump of deep red flesh upon his lover’s abdomen. He moved closer and felt confused. Take the flesh and all of it’s blood and bury it deep in the forest. His lady did not breathe and small stones were on each eye. He did as told by the healer. Without sleep and it being soon the second sunrise he fought to keep focused on his task. Big tears from a big man with the heart of a child fell steadily down his face. When he returned he went to his fire to sleep and there sat the woman again with a white bundle of heavy fur. She stood and handed him a baby. “How can this be? My lady only missed two moons.” The woman smiled and said, “the God’s were good” and asked him to bestow a name before he sat sail. In a state of both sorrow and beauty he said, ” this is the son of Per, the son of Lea. He shall be blessed with the name of Liam.” The woman promised him the babe would be well fed and when he returned the baby would be his comfort. Per kissed his son’s forehead and slept with him in his arms until sunrise. The healers had prepared Lea’s body to be sent to sea where she would be taken up to the God’s quickly. He held one side of his love’s canvas and birch sewn raft. He did not weep for she had left him reason to believe that more would come to be good. The women sang as the longship prepared to launch. The sky was yellow and afire with sunrise. The horns blew and he pulled in unison with his mates. By sunset they placed Lea on her raft and she floated away from the boat, away from the father of Liam, the son of Ove, the son of Gudrun and the brother of Ulla. In the night the high waves plunged over the stern and wailed upon the starboard, the longship albeit strong rocked with brutal fervour. Per was the lead, each pull he thought of Liam, each horn he heard his mother calling. The God’s were trying his strength in a way he never had experienced, he was not only strong in his body now but also in his soul. The storm settled and he was sent to rest. A cool wind soothed his sweaty bruised hands and his lips cracked from the salty winds from the North Sea leaked sweet bits of blood. His thirst was mighty and he was given water with herbs to keep him quiet. His cough came on fast, deep and he heard other’s coughing, too. He spat green, thick phlegm into the sea. He hung his head over, the winds cooling his dizzying state. The head of the ship was also spewing a sickness from his body over board. Few men could guide the longship, and one by one they fell, coughing, wailing in pain, and now hope had no place for them. Another night would come, a morning with many deaths and each one was set free to float amongst the creatures that both fed on them and nourished their loved ones. Per Ovesson would be the last man to go. He ensured all were met by the God’s who knew better than he the true meaning. He would fall into a deep, long sleep, he would dream of Lea, mother of Liam and he would die proud as his father had bravely done before him. He drifted off further to sea and the sky above would open it’s arms and his soul would rise up, up, up into the arms of Ulla.

The Tale of a Broken Ballerina

                                                                           A Dancer's Weep
 

Handwoven lace, spun from a magical spider’s web fashioned her posture; veiled were her dreams, old lover’s deceptions and all unbridled emotions. Before, as if in another life she had been the lead dancer, the one spinning to pretty notes, unwinding with the delicacy of her spirit. Poised, she leapt through memories both shiny like sapphire and fragile as opals. Around her was a still, mirroring pond of light. She was a lost feather, floating solo from high above, performing an impromptu pirouette and free falling in the breath of cool northern winds. Her eyes were stained with glassy ice blue tears which solidified as soon as they breeched from their ducts. Snowflakes flew around her and she became cold, landing hard upon the marbled stone beneath her. She lay there and closed her eyes. She wanted someone to stop the tinkling of a rhetorical melody from her own music box which continued to play beyond her control. She had broken her strongest leg, the one she used to lean on when avoiding painful lyrics that reminded her of flurrying youth. Her shadow was growing old and her desire to dance more began to fade. No hand came to help her up and no one knew that she lay in pain; truth be told she did not long for help. The ballerina knew she was doing all she could to mend her wounds and protect her future from being shattered. From the heavens the moonlight crystalized her beauty, shielding her from surrendering herself all together. Her strength although enervated, would call upon her to rise again. As all folkloric sagas have us to believe “amore-propre” is restored and the beast within is slain or out-witted, the beautiful one’s faith is redeemed, and the Prima donna always experiences a reawakening with butterflies swimming around her head and that which was her nemesis is obliterated. The ballerina in this story is glued carefully back together and placed en-pointe, center stage in a polished oak jewelry box; the golden key is wound and she spins ever so slowly as Lara’s Song resumes. Somewhere my love, within this broken Ballerina her own needs were forsaken without mirth; to see those she loved resuscitate their own dreams was a gift for she once again had an honorable purpose.