Eben Oben Gleeben Globen Swedish Glogg: Drink it up Yum!

So a few posts back, I told you about my friend in Sweden  and how we make art for each other. ..he writes, sings, plays guitar . . .and I paint, poem, and mix media. . .but not to worry: I haven’t forgotten my promise to show you the unabashedly creepy new work I whipped up for him. . .after he sees it!

But this week he sent me the happiest Xmas parcel already, all boxed up in the man way with duct tape to smash the wrapping paper on. . .

And I am not sure what I liked best about it: the pink and white Lovika mittens, knitted by his mom’s friend. . .

the fragrant and leafy Gavle tea, which has a nice orange spicy taste to it. ..yum!

or this sweet and spiced bottled glogg, which is a traditional Christmas drink in Scandinavia as well as just a whole bunch of heaven in a glass:


According to Meathead, the Barbeque Whisperer:

“Samuel Johnson, author of the first English dictionary, wrote “Claret is the drink for boys, port for men, but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.” By that definition, Scandinavian glögg will make us saintly.

Glögg, pronounced more or less like glooog, is a sweet, high-octane, mulled wine, which is to say it is made with a potpourri of spices and all three of the above: Claret (red wine), port, and brandy. Because it is served warm it is especially popular around Christmas. It is the perfect cold-weather drink, warming the body and soul from the inside out.

How does it work? The warm liquid raises the temperature of the mouth and stomach slightly, and because alcohol is a vasodilator, it forces blood to the skin, making us feel warm and blushing on the outside.”


The mittens are warm and soft and the beverages are fragrant and tasty, but I do believe my favorite part of this package was the sweet little drawing he included, a pencil drawing on graph paper. ..one he’d fashioned as a little boy.  The drawing depicted a little animal rock band. . .so sweet.  There was also a postcard, with a nice little description of everything with a pic of his town square, home to this crazy Christmas goat:

So anyway,  here’s a pic of the pastel I made for him a couple of years ago:

which used to have too many flowers in it to suit his taste so I lopped them out; Johnny has the original, but I also made prints of this, which you can get at my Etsy shop. (at this point I must also explain that he is adamantly allergic to the color pink, something he once let go. . .after I’d shown him one of the flower paintings I did. . .”It’s brilliant,” he said, ” but I just wish you’d give that color a rest.”  I think he said it was too disturbing or loud maybe, which I just think is endearingly quirky and silly.  It makes me laugh remembering that story.

Meanwhile, here is a link for a recipe for glogg from Meathead Goldwyn, Hedonist Evangelist:



Lily to Lily. . .Lost in the Moss and Fog of Love’s Austere and Lonely Offices. . .Monet as Inspiration Once Removed

Monet - Val de Falaise (Giverny) - 1885

Image via Wikipedia

Speaking indifferently to him, who’d driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well. . . what did I know, what did I know of love’s austere and lonely offices? –Robert Hayden, “Those Winter Sundays”

I was first introduced to Robert Hayden’s poem, “Those Winter Sundays” while doing double duty as single mother and non-traditional student.  Those days were frantic and full,  and as such, I could relate to both protagonist and anti-hero in this poem.

Always that inexhaustible ache to make a home for us somehow, but also the tug on my guts that too much time was slipping away; meanwhile, I wished there were four of me: one to study, one to write and make art, one to work, and one to nurture and be a safe harbor for my kids.
Better make that five. . . because I almost forgot the me who needed to collapse and just scream from the insanity of it all. (yes, there is mental illness in this recipe too, surprise!)
Pffttt. . .and I totally forgot to mention sex up there, didn’t I?  So much for those frills and fancy matters!

There was never enough skin or bones on me, it seemed, to excel at any of those things.  Mostly I felt like we were just getting by on what little we had to work with.

I had such dreams then too.  I was going to get a wonderful job, sell my screenplay, get the house with the picket fence; I WOULD make a home for us on my own.  I wasn’t getting help from their dad; he didn’t have the means to do it.

I was angry about that then.

Now that anger has evaporated into clouds of anguish that won’t stop raining these days. . and here I sit, swimming through the muck of it all. . .because idiot that is me, I lost them in the water somehow. I lost the truest loves of my life.

A Movable Feast: Single Girl Finds Words of Warmth from Papa on Thanksgiving

Larry Rivers’ Déjà vu and the Red Room: Double Portrait of Matisse (1996)

Well, I have precooked my holiday meal. .. all that is left is taking the bird from the brine, stuffing it with fruit and herbs, closing the oven door on it and waiting for its heady scent to fill the house.  It’s just me and my cat today, a copy of James Baldwin’sGo Tell it on the Mountain” or maybe just some movies from my unlimited supply of Netflix films on the laptop.

Still I wish to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and hugs to the others who are home alone this day.  And to let the latter know I feel you . . .that little stab in your side with memories of  car rides with family to Grandma’s house, and thankful to have them. . .the other stab that says “Dear God, I am so glad I don’t have to be a third wheel with the huggy cuddly couples today…” but also thankful for warmth and sustenance. . .even in this self-imposed solitude.

--Henri Matisse

So anyway here is a quote from one of my favorite books, Hemingway’s “A Movable Feast,” a title that comes to mind most every holiday. . .but especially relevant because I’ve moved myself so far from family to find four walls in the strange but comforting presence of what has been called “the most dangerous city in America.”

And I am still feeling very well-fed by mother earth and have found a lot of love here in Da Lou, but that emptiness inside where family should be. . .I guess I have learned to fill it in other ways but still. . .I can so relate to Hemingway’s words about how much you come to understand about life through these periods of dearth, of longing. . .those incredible passages that describe what it was like to view the works of Cezanne, his favorite painter, on an empty stomach.  It was as if he could see more clearly in those times, or perhaps the ache of longing made the experience that much more satisfying, the juxtaposition of emptiness and fulfillment, the thing that he could do so very well. ..on days like this, it helps to have words like his:

“On a cold windswept street, this was a warm, cheerful place with a big stove in winter, tables and shelves of books, new books in the window, and photographs on the wall of famous writers both dead and living. The photographs all looked like snapshots and even the dead writers looked as though they had really been alive.” –Ernest Hemingway, “Shakespeare and Company,” A Moveable Feast

“Hunger is a good discipline and you learn from it.”  –Ernest Hemingway

--Paul Cezanne

Warmest Wishes on a Rainy Autumn Day

As I sit and shiver in bare feet first thing this morning, I can hear the sparrows flitting under the eaves against the rain. Cars go by on the street, accompanied by the sound of streams and splashes after them. It is still wet and cold here in Missouri on this November day and all I can do is think of things I should be doing to stay warm. Things like tea and quilts and soup and steam. . .

It helps if you have a friend with magical powers as well:

Peter Paul Rubens-Old Woman with a Basket of Coal

As I look at this photo of Rubens’ chiaroscuro, I am reminded of what staying warm once meant to generations that came before, stories my mother told about going down to the railroad tracks before breakfast to gather coal for the stove on mornings like this.  I imagine my great-grandparents as immigrants, in their dark wool coats and scarves, their mittened hands grasping  at the dark and shining stones fallen alongside the shining steel and gravel.  I imagine how good it would have felt to be back inside, the scent of sugar being stirred into black coffee in the kitchen as they gathered at the table to give thanks.

Jozef Israels, Peasant Family at Table. Oil on canvas, 1882. Approximately 28" x 41". Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Here is to staying warm, to friends and family gathered around a table, saying thanks. Thanks for one more day of sustenance and shelter.

Dearest Readers (please post your links to images here as well if you wish),

*So what memories of warmth, thanks, and family do you carry in your heart? Have you explored this or a similar topic in your work? What about light and dark? Chiaroscuro?

Do you knit or crochet to stay warm? Maybe it’s cooking, quilting, or sewing that does it. Maybe it’s something as simple as chopping wood for a gorgeous roaring fire. How do you keep the tradition and history alive? What stories and keepsakes of warmth are you making for them now?

--Tess Farnham "Alice," original collage on paper