Category Archives: What’s Up

Dukkehusfestival in Farum 2017

http://www.dollsinminiature.com
Some things are out of reach but leaves you in awe.

I had basically decided to not go to the dollhouse festival in Farum this year. How could I justify going when I owe the state 6500:- (£566 /€671 /$731) in taxes? Do not ask me how that happened, when I do not have an income! But it has happened because I receive care allowance for my three autistic boys. As I told “Kitty”: “CSN wants their student loan paid back from that money and now the state wants the money back, which they gave me. So first they give me and then they want it back! I know, it does not make any sense what so ever. What is the point really?”

But not only do I owe that amount because they have withdrawn too little tax during 2016, we also have a garage bill for 7000:- (£609 /€723 /$787). And if that is not bad, the Air Conditioning in the car is still not working, even though we took the car in something like ten times last summer and autumn, for it to be fixed once and for all! And I can not even get the windows down, to get air that way, since the only way to get them down on our “modern” car, is with a button, and the electric cables to those buttons, do not work anymore! And once again the sign for the exhaust system is lit, telling me that something is WRONG. That lamp has basically been lit since a week after we bought the car. I wish we would have understood that this would be a more or less permanent problem. We are talking about our WV Sharan being the worse money pit here.

At the same time, I never get out of the house at all anymore. I drive the children to school, I fetch them, and if I run in to an adult, I might exchange a word or two. But that is it. I go to church on Sundays, but I sit there and try to listen to the talks, while I also try to keep my boys behaving. Then I teach “Boo” the Sunday school lesson, since he refuses to go in to the teacher he is supposed to have and MY students choose to sit in the hall playing mobile phone games instead. The final hour, “Boo” refuses to sit in on, because his brain has had enough by then. So I sit in Primary filling out the numbers of grown ups in there, and waiting for “Gubby” to arrive the final 20 minutes. My social life stinks.

When E. was home from England over Easter, she asked me why I am not working on my dollhouse. First of all, one brick broke off, when I put the house upright, after working on it. So it needs to be laid down again. In the laundry room, so that I can spray the house down with sealer, again, it obviously not having enough on the side of the house where the brick broke off. But my husband uses our laundry room as a general dump, so there has not been room for the house in there, nor do I want laundry sprayed with sealer!

There is also the problem of things missing, for me to proceed. And that was the one and only reason, why I took myself and the MasterCard over to Denmark Saturday. To get a few items, so I can make a little bit of headway on the house. As usual, I was nervous about going since our GPS lives a life of her own. “Jane” of course did not lead me to Farum’s Culture House without detours. She got me going in the wrong direction, told me to make a U-turn on the autobahn, turn right where there was no road… I tried to phone my husband so he could look on a map and see if any of the towns were close to Farum, so I could drive by signs instead, but of course he did not have the sound on, on his phone. He never does, so it really is useless ever phoning him! I got myself off the autobahn instead and drove the “scenic route” through Copenhagen’s suburbs. But I did arrive finally. 30 minutes wasted!

I did not have time to look in any of the fun shops and this was a disappointment, since the entire shopping centre closed an hour before the fair, so I totally missed out on that. I who love to look in the bookshop! But, I did go there to attend the dukkehusfestival and this I did accomplish. I started out with the first shop I had checked out on the internet, which I assumed was going to sell wood for making wall skirting.

Last year when I came home from this fair, I had a contact number to a lady in Lund, who told me she had dollhouses to sell. And I did end up buying one of them. A tall Georgian house decorated to look like a 1900 Copenhagen townhouse. I could take Georgian but not a Danish look, since the scene I wanted to create, was London Blitz 1940/1941. So I worked for weeks, trying to remove all wallpaper, which meant that when the wallpaper came off, all wood skirting by the floors and ceilings also came off, since she had glued them on top of the wallpapers. When I removed the paint on the outside of the house, all strips of window surround came off as well. And nothing could be saved, since these thin strips really are thin! But the lady who has all sizes and thicknesses, had not bothered taking anything like that with her! She was quite rude actually, snapping at me and telling me that she can’t take everything with her. My mistake! I could have decided early on to attend the fair and then I could have pre-ordered things to be collected at the fair. On the other hand, I needed advice on what to get in the first place and how much!

Disappointed, I headed to another shop, where I had seen what I suspected would be perfect 1930s carpets. Only, that shop had not brought any carpets at all. Nor had they brought door handles and door locks, which I had also planned on buying. Same thing with that. I could have pre-ordered and collected. On the other hand, I wanted to see the carpets to make sure the colours were right! At this point I started questioning why I had bothered coming at all. But, I still did end up buying more than I had planned. Unfortunately, not all was needed at this point, in my dollhouse restoration!

This was needed though! For a year now or more, I have looked for the perfect wallpapers for that period in time. But can there be anything worse than ordering wallpaper, paint and fabric over the internet? Most of the time you will be disappointed. The wallpaper I bought from http://www.minimissmattosant.com is PERFECT though and a wallpaper which I have had favourited on Etsy for years. In green and in blue. Unfortunately, the person on Etsy no longer lives in England but in New Zealand, which of course will affect the  shipping and also, she has changed the measurements of the sheets to a more easy size to handle for her, A4 that is. Not so perfect in my house though! But you can imagine how happy I became when I saw this Swedish seller having at least the green one! And in A3 size! Best thing of all: Half price off! I do not know why, but I grabbed the matching fabric, in case I will need it for something. And from another seller, http://www.anitas-grote-kleine-wereld.nl, I bought the matching roses which I thought could be kept in a vase in the bedroom, where I will use this wallpaper. It will be the master bedroom, belonging to ROSE. How perfect is this?!

http://www.minaturehuset.dk was the lady who had not brought any building supplies and the few times I walked by her stall, there was not any real interest in it. But two stalls beside her, stood http://www.poppenhuis.com from the Netherlands and to my joy, THEY had brought plenty of building supplies and were willing to help me with advice. I not only bought skirting for the floor but also a really nice kind for the ceiling, all the wood needed for around the windows on the outside and the one piece for one inside window, which had an unfortunate accident. In a way, I am now all set. I only need one more thing and that is wallpaper for Lily’s bedroom. And of course, I have to decide whether to put a panel in the kitchen or not. It would look SO nice but then it would be way more difficult to furnish, since the furniture could not stand flush with the wall. I love paneling though! Deep sigh!

One place I avoided last year, was a stall where the owners were very grumpy: http://www.de-pronkkamer.nl. They were also being overly suspicious of people, assuming that we were all there to steal. I am glad that not all stall owners are like that. I even heard one Dutch woman say that she loves coming with her merchandise to Farum because there are no security cameras and people are honest. Well, this couple do not trust anyone and will stand behind you and breathe down your neck, making sure you do not steal anything. But I decided to shop from them all the same, this year. Not to prove how honest I am but to make “Gubby” happy. I looked at the dog pillows last year, but was turned off by the owners, this year I decided to bring a smile to my son’s face by buying some things for the dollhouse that HE would appreciate: So, I splurged on the Bulldog pillow, since it is his favourite dog, on the little mouse and trap, which was fun and unusual, and finally the cross stitch kit, which was on sale and had a nice message for my WWII family.

I also decided to do something about knitting. Last year I stood and admired all the beautiful yarn shades at http://www.wolwereldje.nl. The owner only spoke German then so I gave up trying to explain that I do not have any pattern to make anything. This year it seemed like he had learned how to speak a little bit of English, since he tried to make me buy ten yarn balls and get one free. I settled for two but still could not get across to him that I do not have a pattern and where can I find one? I want to knit soldiers’

socks which was what most women sat and did during the war. But I also would like to make a cardigan for one of the women. To hang on a washing line or in a room somewhere. In an episode of “Foyle’s War”, driver Sam Stewart had a lovely coloured cardigan on, so I bought the same kind of green. Now where on earth do I find patterns for these projects?

So far so good. Not totally unnecessary items to buy, or? The following, I am perhaps not too proud of having bought:

I am truly sorry about the quality of the photo, but for once we have a spring sun shining! From http://www.miniaturehuset.dk I did end up buying the cheap little picture, which in all likelihood was made in China. But the lady looks so pretty and could post as Rose’s and Lily’s mother! The little iodine and poison bottles were bought from http://www.dukkehusbutikken.dk which was supposed to have had the carpets and door handles. They did have some fun hospital things and I bought some things especially, since I want traces of Rose’s military husband in the house. Not that she has tried to poison him! I was thinking rat poison perhaps, which everyone had at home. And Iodine, for a husband who has been home recovering from perhaps a wound at Dunkirk? Or a RAF/RN combat situation? Haven’t decided which force he belongs to since I am not planning on buying him as a doll for the house. But he will be present in many ways, which you can also see above in the already knitted socks from http://www.kunkelhandmade.dk and the typewriter from ateljelillahjartat.blogspot.se. I have no idea what his pre-war occupation was, but since I have been toying with the idea of a profession needing a typewriter and then standing in front of one at a fair… well I had to buy it!

I must comment on the two-table-stall of that latter place. Absolutely gorgeous! Flowers of all kinds. Pricey or should I say, out of my league as all the Swedish sellers’ items, but very detailed and pretty. Made  by the doll Ture! I have not found his story yet on the internet, but the owner’s friend told me that I must look it up and read it. Ture is a cute old man doll and he was present in the hot-house they had on one of the tables. They pretend that everything in the stall was made by Ture or his wife. Can’t remember her name though. She was sitting in a rocking chair, knitting. I was just happy to find the typewriter since the one I have in my watch list on eBay, is too expensive and the shipping even worse. Now I can remove that one from the list!

The little toy car was dirt cheap and in metal, so I bought it for the attic boy’s room, which needs toys! I think I bought it from Danish http://www.d-r-n.com. But I am not 100% sure.

I have left the best bits till last though. At five stalls, I spent a lot of time talking to the owners. Or the owner’s husband, as was, in one case. I of course could not ignore Jane Harrop’s (www.janeharrop.co.uk) stall with all her gorgeous wartime kits. She was not present when I went to look, but I got to talk to her husband for a LONG time. Him telling me how much they have travelled lately and about all the metal pieces he has in his body. Not so much dollhouse chat in other words. But it was nice to talk to him, even though it bothers me that he voted Brexit last year. To me and all other Swedes, Brexit voters stand for utmost xenophobia. Including the rejection of tourists! I ended up buying the lovely Art Deco bookend kit from him. Totally unnecessary item at this point yes, but I am curious to try it out since it should not require pre-owning paints!

An even more lovely stall, or on the same level perhaps, was http://www.iriginals.nl / http://www.inhetpoppenhuis.nl. I fell in love with everything! The house kits! The interiors! The furniture and how the owner had painted them. But I felt that I could not afford everything that I wanted, so I ended up buying the cutest item of them all: An egg-cupboard! It was absolutely lovely. Now, eggs were rationed so I have only bought a few in the past, BUT those will have to go in to this adorable cupboard, when I have put it together. I must say this, if you want to buy kits and well-made sturdy ones at that, this is the place to go. The thickness of the wood makes them well worth the money. I hate when you see wood furniture or kits that are so fragile that they can not take any kind of “abuse”, without breaking. You must be able to handle things without them breaking.

The final kit, was bought from US seller http://www.moeminiatures.com. Since I love playing Chinese chess and learned how to play it from the master himself, my father, I just had to get that little kit. And of course talk about Washington state, my husband’s favourite state of all. Typically my hypothyroid brain fog had to strike, so I could not remember a single place where he has lived nor where his dad lived right before he died. Just an empty black hole in my brain! So annoying and embarrassing!

Before it was time to leave and them all closing shop, I walked up to the big hall and re-visited http://www.stellaquepassa.nl since I had decided to get a little pewter dollhouse from phoenix model developments. But when I got up there, I noticed a little old-fashioned toaster instead! One like I actually grew up with, and naturally I had to buy that one instead and also four little tin mugs

that I will paint in the traditional cream with green rims, because I have seen those mugs in many WWII photos! I was totally excited about those purchases because I always am, when I have bought pewter and things from Warwick/Phoenix… I just love their things the best. She brought me over to the owner of http://www.artofmini.com to discuss painting. I love Art of Mini but it is not the kind of items I can use for my time period of house. But everyone else is mad about the kits and buy lots! Now the stall was empty, since the fair was almost over, but she showed me some of the paints she uses for her displays and told me to go in to the game shop in Lund and demand that they help me. She uses Citadel paints and she totally dislikes Humbrol, which are the paints that Phoenix themselves tell you to use. Even though they are clumsier to use for details and according to her, take forever to dry. I will contemplate Citadel, but since I have already bought a couple of colours in Humbrol, I must try them first.

I must say that I am very impressed with the Dutch sellers! Last year I basically avoided them all, but this year, they were the ones who really came through for me at least and had the most interesting items! And some, like the two last stalls mentioned, had owners who were very, very friendly! That does a lot to your shopping experience and your contentment with the items you have purchased! All in all, a good fair, in other words! And “Jane” behaved on the way home! A miracle!

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Where is my left ovary?

No, it is not a joke! My left ovary really has gone missing! And I would like to know where it has disappeared to. Of course I have my suspicions as I told my daughter yesterday, when she was sitting in Basingstoke, ready to soon fly home. She claimed it must be MAGIC but I think it is more sinister than that…

Five years ago, I was diagnosed with Hypothyroid. In other words, my body has basically slowed down to a standstill. Nothing works the way it should. I was told that I must have been living with Hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s for years, but that did not really mean anything to me. What was more important, was to get that all vital medicine to feel alright, again. For the first time in over 20 years. I was put on Levaxin like the rest of Sweden’s 440 000 Hypothyroid sufferers, and waited for the feeling better part. I waited and waited and waited… And I am still waiting. Going from a size 34 in trousers to size 38. Not being able to wear wedding ring or engagement ring. Body full of fluid, not being able to lose weight when I eat practically nothing.

What is it like when your Levaxin does not work even though your blood work is just fine? Well, like I said above, you can’t lose weight, you are swollen, you lose hair, your skin goes superdry, your nails become superthin. You get brain fog, not remembering things you knew two seconds ago. You have anemia. Muscle pain. Problems with membranes. The list just goes on and on.

I can tell you what my life is like. I wake up every morning and can not breathe. So I use nose spray. Three times a day, since years back. On the bottle it says you must not use it for more than ten days! I wake up with a throbbing head ache, so I take aspirin. What that is doing to my stomach and my intestines, is something I do not dare to think about. And my body does not want to get out of bed. Because I am TIRED. My feet are swollen, my hands are swollen and I go in to the shower which makes me swell even more. After taking the children to school, I drive home and go to bed again. To sleep. Heaven forbid that anyone phones me, since I must sleep, to be able to cope during the afternoon, with three autistic sons. At 11:55 my alarm goes off to say that I must wake up and drive and fetch the youngest son. The afternoon is spent with them, in the living room, because I am too tired to go to a playground or anything else which is fun for them. Words go missing in the middle of a conversation, when I do talk to people at school, so I avoid human contact as much as possible, since it is embarrassing, to sound like one who has Alzheimer’s.

Christmas 2015 I went and saw a new doctor, which had been brought in to just get rid of the long queue, at the health clinic. All she wanted to talk about was the Roma beggars and how she had forced her man’s son to spend 14 days a month, in care, because she could not cope with his autism, and she thought I should do the same with my sons. Nothing came out of that appointment. Then I was handed over to the horrible Chinese doctor, they had permanently employed. They raved about him, but I was on a collision course with him, from moment one. In China the patients must be quiet and not have an opion. So after our phone call, I had created an enemy. Because he could not even take the time to meet me. He said my only problem was anemia. And for that, he had written a prescription of fluid iron. I refused to get it when the chemists told me that it would stain my teeth really bad. I tried to take iron pills instead, but as everyone with Hypothyroid knows, you already suffer from constipation, so the iron pills will only give you hell.

Two years later, I was so sick and tired of having symptoms like congested ear for three-six weeks, not being able to eat anything like everybody else does and of being so horribly tired. So I changed health clinic to one in town instead. But the doctor I was recommended there, was not available for ordinary patients, so I had to receive one whom they could spare. I went there and what was the result? She told me the following:

1. My weight gain must be caused by age.

2. My hair loss must be genetic even though noone in my family has suffered this.

3. My heavy menstruations must be a muscle knot in my uterus.

4. My fatigue is due to anemia which must be caused by the menstruations.

5. Brain fog, dry skin and bad nails must be caused by stress

6. Congested nose must be polyps in my nose.

7. My ear problems must be wax.

8. With three autistic children I should have been in therapy for the past ten years.

9. Perhaps I am just afraid of growing old?

She sent me to a dietician, whom has no idea what to suggest that I should eat, but I must eat more calories or I will die. The doctor pumped iron in to my veins, to get a quick result, but I am more tired than before! She said that she was going to prescribe something for my nose congestion, but when I went to the chemist, she had not. Nor had she written prescription for my migraine medicine NOR my Levaxin. And she sent me to a gynecologist.

In February, I walked in to the Women’s clinic. Nervous and scared and the waiting room was filled to the brink. All of them acute cases, but noone was called in. A nurse came out after 30 minutes and told them to go home. But this woman working on a laptop beside me, raised her voice and said “No way! I was here for five hours yesterday and then you told me to come back at 08:00 and I would get in at once. Now it is 10:30 and I am still sitting here and I am not moving. Is it better in Malmö?”. She was told no, and another woman said she had been there the day before as well, and had been told to come at 8:00. None of the women were budging. I was called in since I had an appointment. But I did not get called in at the appointed time!!! Swedish health care 2017!

In the room, I had to meet with a medical student, who asked me all sorts of humiliating questions. Nice to sit there and have to say “No, I am not on birth control. My husband has not touched me for three years. Among other things, he blames me for his sons’ autism!”. When she had asked her two sheets of questions, she went and fetched her teacher so I could repeat everything one more time. And then it was time for the dreaded CHAIR or should I say gurney with foot rests.

The student was going to put in that horrible metal instrument, but was not particularly light on her hand. It hurt! And then she and her teacher had to check things together. They were supposed to take a pap smear, while they were at it, and for the first time, THAT hurt REALLY bad. And then they discussed something awful they were seeing in there. My cervix was all scarred badly. At once, my mind travelled six years back. The loss of my little Serena. And the botch job of the surgeon! They could not understand why I looked like that and what was I supposed to say? Sorry I am shocking you down there! I am here, up here ladies, and you are scaring me! Upsetting me!

Then the metal tool came out and the vaginal exam started which almost had me screaming, since they pushed on my stomach as well and my stomach is horribly tender after three C-sections! First the student had to grope around and then the teacher to make sure what the student felt, was something she could also feel. Finally, the ultrasound stick was put up in to me and two things came out of that pain: My left ovary was missing somehow and they could not see my uterus well enough.

The Italian doctor/teacher from Bari. told me that if I had a muscle knot sitting in the uterus lining, then putting in an IUD would not take away the bleedings and she would have to perform a hysterectomy. I walked away severely depressed, knowing that now I was going to be sent to a specialist. I was told that this person would take a long needle and put it through my stomach and push in contrast fluid, so it could see where my muscle knot was sitting. Because the Bari doctor, was sure I had one.

Yesterday, I headed scared to the hospital again. My husband had nothing to say to me the first time I went, nor did he ask what the outcome was. Yesterday, he did not even know where I was going, even though it has been on the family white board for a week and the children having asked about it in his presence. Nor could he understand why I would be scared of going to the women’s clinic. He just does not care whether I live or die. Nice, is it not?

So, on trembling legs I headed to the ultrasound department and all these feelings flushed over me. I saw the doors to delivery, I saw the doors to the maternity ward and I just wanted to run. I did not want to be there. All the happy moments when I have held a lovely, soft little newborn baby in my arms, are all gone. All I see now is my big tummy, the words that my baby is dead, giving birth to her with Nurse “Ratched” helping out. And being rolled to surgery twice in 16 days, for scraping.

But I had to go up to the third floor, after paying 300 :-, and I had to sit there with all the happy big tummied mothers. And I had to go in there, to the German doctor, and once again have a student present. This time a muslim student (with hijab) who luckily did not go near my private parts. Medical students are to be avoided! Since the doctor was teaching and pointing out everything, the examination took a while. This time it was just the ultrasound stick going up my vagina. And it was painful like you would not believe it. I wanted to whine, but I doubt a German would have appreciated it. So I bit my tongue!

What were they doing this time? Pushing down on my belly, which hurts for above reasons, and pushing around that stick all over, searching for ovary and knots. There are NO KNOTS! But scarring inside the uterus, from among other things, the C-sections. So my doctor is going to have to come up with another reason for not letting me see an endocrinologist and receiving Liothyronine to treat my T3! But she could not find my left ovary and asked me if I had had any surgery to remove organs? In other words, had I had the ovary removed? I said no, but driving to the shopping mall afterwards, I could not help but going six years back in time.

Going to the midwife, happily, to listen to my baby’s heart and do blood tests. Her strange face when she could not find a heart beat anymore. Me driving home in record speed and tears running down my cheeks, trying to find the phone number to the women’s clinic. Crying on the phone and getting an appointment. The doctor looking at a baby on the ultrasound, whose heart was no longer beating, who just lay there still in my womb, like a big piece of lump. The pills they forced me to take and then the wait. Two days  later, showing up at the hospital to give birth to my baby, even though no contractions had started. And noone paying attention to that I was sitting there on a sofa, waiting for someone, anyone to help me.

In the storage room they put me, I was faced with nurse “Ratched”, who told me to knock it off and stop feeling silly about all this. She gave me more  pills, but the baby did not want to leave my body. So more pills, but up the vagina this time and then more pills orally. Finally the contractions starting and the pain so awful she had to give me morphine. And then, sitting on the toilet, having to deliver the baby in to a plastic dish, that was rushed out of the room. Nurse “Ratched” just telling me to be glad that I had seven children. I was not happy. I was crying and wanted to rip my hair out. I was not grateful for anything and just wanted to die. But things were not over. A German young doctor came in and tried to pull the placenta out, but only got pieces. So I was told I would have to have surgery. And Nurse “Ratched” came back and informed me that the baby was abnormal, so what was I fussing about.

That night, I was scraped and when I woke up from the anaesthesia, I was shaking the entire bed from being cold. I was reacting to the blood they were pumping in to me and I was vomiting. Could things get worse? Yes, they could. My husband kissing me on my forehead, when he saw me in the morning! Like I was some sort of dog. The final kiss! Could have done without it really, because it really was the final blow to our marriage. They asked us, if we wanted to see our baby girl, and I almost died when I heard it was a girl. Had she lived, I was going to have named her India Temperance Marguerite, but now, I decided Serena Rose because she looked so serene when I held her. I held her little cold hand in mine, which had been in prayer position in the dish, I touched her little cold face and I knew that she would have been a beautiful little girl, had she been allowed to live.

There was no skin covering her tummy, so I suspected that this was why she had died. But then I found out, at the autopsy weeks later, that there was nothing wrong with her at all. (Except my hypothyroid of course, which had killed her!) She had died and when a baby is in utero, the breaking down of the body goes quicker. That is why her tummy looked the way it did! And Nurse “Rached” had the gall to say what she did! She should have known this, but she just had to be cruel. I was sent home with my sorrow. A week later I was back with a high fever and very ill. The German doctor had done a sloppy job of the scraping and had left pieces in the uterus, so now I had a full-blown infection. There seemed to be no end to my afflictions. Scared, I layed in the ward for four days, before they had the time to deal with me.

Once again, I was rolled in to surgery, but this time the doctor was not on my side at all. This Swedish female doctor wanted to put in an IUD, while she was in there, because I was not going to have any more children. Her decision. I said no, that I wanted my eighth child! And she told me that seven children were more than enough. I was put under and when I woke up, I knew full well that she had done something to my body, to make sure I would never get pregnant again. I did not know what, but I suspected that she had caused damage on purpose. I just felt it like you feel other things that are real.

Once again, they tried to give me blood and once again, they had to stop because my reaction was too severe. I was so freezing cold and shaking the metal bed so bad,  it could be heard outside in the corridor. Did we try to have another baby after this? I was adamant that a little girl was missing in our family. I bought ovulation tests for thousands and forced my husband  to have sex when the test showed that I was fertile. I did manage to get pregnant two years later, but it only lasted for ten weeks and then I miscarried. The Levaxin was not working, there was no way I could carry a baby anymore. Especially thanks to all the scarring I have, which is something I got proof of yesterday and in February. And I guess it is remarkable that I got pregnant at all, in 2013, if one ovary also is missing. I guess I will never know, but my suspicions are that the doctor damaged it out of spite and then removed it so noone would know? Not recording it in the surgical report, like the first surgeon not writing one up at all, which is required. The team in the theatre must have known, but the doctor decides right? And a hospital does not want to be charged with misconduct!

I can live without an ovary. I am too old to get pregnant anyway and it is impossible to do so when you are living in a completely celibate marriage. But I would have liked an official apology for the hell I was put through in 2011 when I lost my baby Serena. I should not have lost her at all. They should have checked my hormone levels at the midwives, like they do today. And I should have been met with compassion and professionalism at the hospital, when I arrived there as a grieving mother. It does not matter how many children you have already. What matters is how you feel about the pregnancy and the expected baby. They saw that I was grieving and they should have made life easier for me. I will never get over the trauma and today I know what sort of internal damage they did to me, as well as taking a punch at my psyche. And where is my ovary?

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Nordic Supernatural Beings

It is interesting how the publication of one book, sent ripples across Swedish society. Less than a year ago, the little museum at the Charlotte Weibull centre,— in the village of Åkarp, picked up on it and made an entire exhibition based on the book. How did I come to be there on the opening day? Long story!

Charlotte Weibull is now deceased, but she was THE authority on folk dresses in Sweden. I am not sure about the history behind the house in Åkarp, but the first time I stepped across the threshold of her shop, was as a young girl. Then it was situated in Malmö. But at some point she grew out of her shop there and moved to the village of Åkarp, where my mother grew up. I would say that I was born a historian. History has always fascinated me in all its forms. And stepping in to the shop, where the old folk dresses were re-created, was like taking a step back in time. The time, when people in the country-side wore those dresses in their daily work and those dresses being a sign of where you came from.

In the old days, female farm hands were paid not just in money, but also in homespun wool and flax. Everyone wore these dresses and passed them down as heirlooms, since a lot of work went in to making them. When I grew up, I got used to seeing my grandparents in their folk dresses, since they belonged to a folk dance team. And it was my mum’s dream to make one for herself, from the county she was born in. But, they are expensive to make. Not only do you need to sign up for an expensive evening class, you need to take that class for about two years to complete the entire outfit. On top of that, you have to add the fabric, which is expensive as well, not being ordinary fabric, but hard to find. Charlotte Weibull has been THE place to get the correct fabric, ribbons etc. for Swedish folk dresses, for decades. At her prices!

Last year, in June, something awful happened in my life! We had to go to the house, where I grew up and empty it for sale. My sister had come from Australia to help out. Right! Or should I say, grab everything of value? She behaved in an abominable way, and I still have not recovered from the shock. I never even got a post written about it, because how can one put in to words, how hurt one feels? Not only did she go to the house, over a week before me, in order to pick out the best bits, she also checked up with auction houses, as to what was worth to keep. Stashed the best bits in what used to be her closet and forbade us to look in there. And then, when we went through things, she would just say “I am taking this!” and doing just that. She wanted everything with sentimental value and everything worth something. Modern, new acquisitions, was left for me to do what I pleased with. My oldest daughter reacted and asked why I did not put up a fight, why I let myself get stepped on like that. I did it, because we can’t take anything with us when we die! And I thought her behaviour so appalling, that I was not going to stoop that low!

In the middle of this, I thought it was so strange that I did not run in to my mother’s folk dress. So I said “Where could she have hidden that?”. I got worried, because my grandmother donated hers and my grandfather’s, to the Charlotte Weibull museum, after he died. And Weibull sold them for a profit! So where could my mother’s be? The one she made in record time. She did not have the patience to take a course for two years. So she contacted the teacher and paid for private lessons, after buying all the fabric and materials from Weibull. In 6 months time, she had it finished, so she and my dad’s sister could go to Midsummer’s Eve dances, dressed in their folk dresses. And now, it was missing.

Actually, it was not. My sister just turned to me and said that our mother gave it to her! I got cold inside and wanted to puke! That  folk dress cost thousands to make! But my sister claimed it only cost 2000 :- ($223/£178/€210) to buy one. I went in on an auction site to see and sure enough, the starting bid for ONE folk dress was indeed 2000:-. Today I saw the starting bid for one like my mum’s being 14 000 ($ 1,560/£1,244/€1,465). But I do not care! Because 1. Our mother paid several thousands in tuition fee. 2. Several thousands in fabric and other materials. 3. She made it herself. 4. I have lived in this province for 25 years, so if anyone is entitled to wear it, I am the one. My sister has never lived anywhere close to this province and has lived in Australia for 25 years. Exactly when is she going to wear that dress? She just had to have it, since it was valuable. She finally agreed to let me have my dad’s mother’s hand embroidered apron, from when she worked as a waitress. But the head-piece was missing. And it was little consolation! I would much rather have had the folk dress.

When we left Trollhättan behind us, being chased off by my sister (she ordered a charity shop to come and fetch the beds we were sleeping in, so we would have nowhere to sleep), I decided to go to Charlotte Weibull’s and see exactly how much the fabric for the dress cost. After T., “Kitty” and I, had been to see the resource school, where he subsequently started in August, we headed to Åkarp. “Kitty” was so upset about having to leave his old school, even though that school should be forced to close down for mental abuse of its non-Catholic students and not following the school law. I decided that the museum at the Weibull “gård” might cheer him up. That day, was the opening day for a new exhibition which meant free entrance, free cookies and free elderberry “saft”. My boy will never say no to cookies.

And he loved the exhibition, which was all about the supernatural beings that our ancestors “lived with”. Well, they were of course not there for real. But people believed in them all the same. And the fear of them was real alright. Because as we learned at University, in my Ethnology course, the world was a scary place for these people, which had to be explained somehow. So they explained things with these beings. They prevented people from going places and doing things, which could be dangerous. And of course, if accidents happened, one blamed these beings.

Coming in to the exhibition, one was asked to take one thing of protection, with one:

hymn book with cross on it, garlic, salt, steel to make a fire with or a bag with the magic herbs cumin, wormwood and yarrow.

The exhibition was not a fantastic one, which one would find at a large museum in London, but all the same, they had tried their best!

Lets meet the giants:

Believed to have lived here before the humans arrived in the Nordic countries. Since they did not like humans, their habitat was in the North. People of old, said that giant stones scattered all over the countryside, were thrown there by the giants. They hated the sound of church bells but were bad at aiming and missed the churches, to make the sound stop.

Of course the natural explanation behind the stones laying about in odd places, is that the ice age brought them there.

What made me sad, was arriving to this exhibition and as the first thing, I had to stare at the church that my sister took. My grandmother had a wood church just like the one pictured and every year, she put cotton around it and placed little gnomes and angels on the “snow”. On their way to church on Christmas Day. After many years, my grandfather decided to make her a more grand church. A big one that he worked on in the boiler room, away from her vision. He surprised her on Christmas Eve one year, and she was overwhelmed. My sister could not take that large church to Australia without spending a fortune in shipping, so she said she would take this smaller one.

To be honest, I would have loved this little one, since it is small, since my village has a church just like it and the church that Åkarp belongs to, looks just like it! For me, it meant a lot! To see the wooden church like that, in the exhibition, was just getting more salt in the wounds! I tried not to think about it, since to her children, it will mean absolutely nothing. They will put it in a dumpster or use it for the open fire, since they do not know a word of Swedish nor any of our culture! Sweden is just a foreign place were their mother happened to be born.

But onwards in the exhibition we went:
To make children and grown ups alike, stay away from water, one talked of “Näcken” or in this province “Bäckahästen”. Scary beings indeed. Näcken, was the explanation for all drownings. He lured people in to the water with his violin and water lilies meant that he was close by. He usually played in the evenings and it is believed by ethnologists, that the invention of Näcken was to keep people from going out at night. Makes sense, since in the dark, without light, you could fall in to a river or get seriously hurt falling over something. All these creatures explained the world to people and kept them safe!

Unfortunately, people were envious of each other and if you were a talented violin player, you were accused of having been taught by Näcken. You were not supposed to be too good at something nor should you entice people to sinful dancing.

Bäckahästen or river horse, did not play the violin, but he would lure children to sit up on his back and then he would run in to the water with them. A way to explain a child’s drowning.

If you wanted to have a bathe, you had to put a knife in the ground by the water, to tie Näcken!

Probably everyone has heard of trolls. Especially if one has watched Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings. But in Sweden people really believe in them. That they stole and that they kidnapped humans. Everyone was instructed to not accept troll food, if abducted, since then they would get stuck with the trolls forever. So the belief was real alright.

Unfortunately, the belief in trolls did not just explain the eerie atmosphere in a forest, or the disappearance of foods, but also explained why some children were not developing normally or were too smart for their own good. If one’s child fell in such a category, people assumed that the trolls had exchanged the child for one of their troll babies, after birth. It was important to put steel in a newborn’s cradle or a hymnbook and also have the child christened as fast as possible. All Swedish babies were christened within three days of birth, so the mother could never attend, since she was considered unclean for six weeks after birth.

In the North, you would have found the little people, living and working under ground, called Vittror. I guess, they were mostly wearing folk dress.

But here in the South, my people would have believed in Vättar (lower picture). A sort of gnome, dressed in grey or black, living under people’s farms, as big as rats. You had to be careful to not make them angry. Pouring scolding hot water on the ground or peeing behind the house, would do so and anything could happen after that. Someone getting sick, the farm burning or you finding strange-looking sticks on your property. Since they could turn themselves in to mice, rats, toads and hedgehogs, you had to treat those animals well. I would say, that everything with this belief made sense in a world looking for explanations and not having google available. One should think about where one throws out hot water and goes to the toilet. And nature sure can behave strangely.

One of the more dangerous parts of the old farm society was envy. The most important thing for a farm, was having milk. From milk you would get butter, cheese and cream. Without milk, the family might starve and how could it be explained that one farm had plenty of milk while another one did not? The wife residing on the plentiful farm must be a witch who through black magic had conjured up the milk hare. Not really looking like a hare at all, but a nasty looking little thing with bells. She sent him out to milk the neighbours’ cows at night, by sucking the milk from them and then vomiting it up, in a trough held by the “witch”.

As horrible as this idea was and perhaps lethal in the 1600s, when accusations hurled wildly and could lead to prosecution and death penalty, there was another side to this envy and luck idea. Making butter  was very difficult. Conditions had to be perfect, and even so, sometimes the woman of the house failed to make the milk in to butter. Butter was the farmer’s gold. Rarely was it kept on the farm, but it was sold for money or traded in the nearest town. So it was very important to have “butter luck”. If one did not have butter luck, then someone must have stolen it! And who was accused of being such a thief? Who did not fit in to the very patriarchal society, the very organised society where noone was allowed to be different?

The farm society was always on the look out for what was called “whores”. A whore, was a woman who had had a child out-of-wedlock. Accusations were common in theses societies and so were the court cases for slander. One believed in a certain limit of luck. Often there was not enough luck to go around to everyone, and then people were accused of having stolen luck. And in the case of the unwed mother, well she was always accused of stealing butter luck. And putting rickets on children. A D-vitamin deficiency, which would have been cured had children spent more time outside. But of course outside, was dangerous, since it was populated by all the beings above! I think they call it Catch 22?

Anomaly has never been accepted in Swedish society. The person transporting the dead, was an outcast. So was the executioner. They always had to sit in the back of the church. So did the unwed mother. According to the law, she was forgiven of her sin, after paying a fine. But farm society never forgave and the church made sure to instill the eternal punishment. Instead of wearing her hair out, like the unwed girls, or covered with a white headscarf, like the honourable married women, she had to wear a red one, so she could be seen from far away and be avoided. I suspect that she often was accused of conjuring up a milk hare!

Not only oaks were considered magical, but also the ash tree and in my province, Askefroa or the lady of the ash, lived in those trees. She was the spirit of the ash tree and one avoided going close to them after sun came down. Ash trees were not supposed to be chopped down, nor was one allowed to pee on the trees, since that would make one seriously ill. A sacrifice had to be made on the Wednesday after “Fettisdagen” (first day one is supposed to eat a semla), called Ash Wednesday to this day. Before dawn, the village elders had to pour water on the roots and say “I sacrifice to you, so you will do us no harm”. Creepy to think this went on in Christian times. But old habits die hard and Yggdrasil from heathen times, was an ash. The bark was considered to stop blood flow and the leaves to heal snake bites, so perhaps not so strange they did not give up the superstition of their ancestors?

Today some explain strange lights, with that it must have been a UFO. But in the old days, people believed it was the lyktgubbe or lantern man. He was a dead person not finding peace. All land was marked out with sticks, to show who owned what. These lyktgubbar were dead men who had moved the sticks, when alive, to get land they were not entitled to.

He was considered dangerous since he could lure you out in to marshes and glades. But sometimes he would help the lost home. If so, you had to pay him or he would never let you get home, but walk around in circles. But to stop him leading you astray, you could always turn your shirt inside out.

Another nasty little man, was the kvarngubbe or mill man. He was like the little gnomes on the farms, keeping everything running at the mill. But he also made sure that the miller did not have the mill working in evenings and at night. Nor did he want it working during the weekends. Then he would stop the millstone from working.

Many men, came back to the farms describing having met the most wondrous woman in the forest. More beautiful than anything. But she was no woman, they had met the skogsrå, with a hollow back. Her domain was the forest and I guess the stories kept people on their toes, understanding to treat nature in a nice manner but also to take heed.

The hunter wanted her on his side when hunting , so he sacrificed a coin to her and then was allowed to shoot what he wanted. If it still did not work, then it was a magical animal under her protection. If she was in a good mood, she would help lost children to find their way home, but if she was in a bad mood wanting to show her power, she would get you lost and the only way to break the spell was turning your jacket inside out. But having been spellbound by her always meant wanting to get back to the forest, wanting to be alone and having few words for fellow humans. Your soul had stayed with her. Some became seriously ill, mad or died under suspicious circumstances.

Finally, the exhibition showed fairies. Tradition says that they were small, white glowing women with wings and sometimes they showed themselves as a fog, or small frogs and other insects. They liked to put diseases on people, especially small children, so you were supposed to put steel in the cradle. Like scissors. At dawn and dusk they danced an entrancing dance and humans could be enticed to join, only to find out that they had lost time, sometimes years when waking up. Or they went ill or mad.

Not only has the book become a bestseller, but the colouring society can also “delight”in the author’s first drafts for the drawings. They have been published as a colouring book. But while the exhibition at Charlotte Weibull’s was cute, the pictures are far from cute. They are rather horrifying, so I have not been tempted to buy it.

But the reason for this post, was not really to tell the story of the exhibition, but how the schools have jumped on the trend. My youngest son “Gubby” came home one day and really wanted to watch “Tinker Bell”. I thought that it was , since we had not watched those films for a long time. He gets a favourite film and then watches it every day for a couple of weeks, since he is autistic. We were in a Nanny McPhee marathon, so fairies was a surprise. But I put one of them on for him.

The next day he wanted me to see what they had made in class, and finally the penny dropped. The reason why he wanted to watch the fairies in “Tinker Bell”, was because he had not really understood what they were talking about in school. For him a fairy is “Tinker Bell” and her friends, but what they had talked about in class were the old Scandinavian myths found in the book above. They had talked about what people of old believed in and how mean those fairies were. Not quite Cicely Mary Barker’s adorable fairies nor Disney’s. But here was what the children had come up with when they were going to make fairies and their homes:

Class 1’s fairy village. More had misunderstood!

My little “Gubby’s” fairy house in front!

He was very proud, showing his fairy!

And then we have Johan Egerkrans’ version. I know which one I prefer, do you?

Sadly, I could not tell the teacher’s to take the class to Åkarp. A new exhibition has replaced the supernatural one. I am just all amazement that we actually got to go to it, since I have not set my foot at Weibull’s for decades. And the answer to my question about fabrics, which brought me there in the first place, was just as I thought. Horrendous prices, so no way I can afford to make my own folk dress!

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Gorgeous Turned Wood in 1:12 scale

A couple of weeks ago, I received a note from a dear pen pal, who had visited a dollhouse shop quite by chance. It was situated in Canada and she sent me the shop’s card, so that I could be as dazzled as she had been, when entering the physical shop.Unfortunately, the shop does not prioritize their internet shop, like many miniaturists. To most it is a hobby, a side-line to their “real” job. The woman I bought my dollhouse from, works in health care, but in her spare time, she makes the most gorgeous miniature things. She does not have the energy for a third thing though, to put things on her internet site. So, she sells at fairs, and that is it. Her site has not been updated for years.

Since it seemed that the miniatures had stunned my pen pal, I decided to give her a good address for a well sorted internet shop. Not saying that the one she visited is not up to snuff, but to show what amazing things are out there! Nothing like shared joy, right? But which one, would I choose? Many has some real gems. But then, they also have a lot of mass-produced Chinese garbage, which is not that fun to display in your dollhouse. I particularly hate blurry details and sloppy painting. I finally thought of a shop, which is one of my favourites, since the owner sells quality in all price ranges. And she has unusual items, not found in other shops. But most of all, she sells WWII items, and this always puts an extra wide smile on MY face. Cheshire Cat one!

Just to make sure I got the address right for my friend, I went in to the shop. Bad decision for my wallet!!! When I got Ain on the site, I just could not restrain myself from peeking around a little bit. And especially in the news section. Now, I have often looked in this shop just for fun. But many times when I have fallen for something, it has been out of stock. Once I was especially smitten with an item and I wrote to enquire when it would be in stock again. Turned out, that it never would. The owner had bought up all stock, from a lady who was retiring from the miniature making scene.

This time, when I went in, on behalf of my pen pal, to make sure that there was plenty of fun items to look at, I noticed that the owner once again had bought up all stock, from someone retiring. But this time, I was in luck, since all unusual items I found interesting for my WWII dollhouse, were still in stock. Now I stood in for the choice, of buying things now when available or never, since the artist has retired. I decided to go on a shopping spree at http://www.smallwondersminiatures.co.uk and buy the things I felt would make a difference in my Blitz house. Especially when I saw that some of the items I put in my shopping basket, were the last ones in stock. So enjoy looking at my beautiful turned wood items in miniature 1:12 scale:

A stool for my WWII kitchen and also a little storage pot with removable lid

The pot with the lid on.

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Pedestal and flower pot, which I hope I will find a fern plant for.

This will of course go in the WWII Art Deco sitting room, having been handed down to the family from Edwardian times.

An Art Deco vase, also for the sitting room, I think, where I will put some flowers matching the Art Deco wallpaper. In that room the sisters will have left their sock darning tools. One each, since Lily will of course bring her’s back to base after her leave.

Why a screen shot from “Foyle’s War” in this post? Because that series is excellent for studying what is correct for this time period. I look more on the interiors than the actors and pause the program to take screen shots of items. Here I wanted to document the china and dinner ware but also the fact that people bought flowers, even though a war was raging. (Behind the actors shoulders you see some red roses!) So vases were needed and it would not be wrong to put flowers in them.

Two hat stands for sisters Lily and Rose. On Lily’s stand, I will put her WAAF hat. On Rose’s, I hope to be able to afford one of the lovely hats I have favourited on Etsy. The best would be a black and white hat, since that is what the authorities recommended, so you could be seen by a car, in the black out.

Finally, since I had to pay such horrendous shipping, I added a stack of newspapers to be put in the attic, with Rose’s son’s little trolley/cart. He had collected all sorts of items for the war effort, before he was evacuated. Now they will be in the attic, till some of his friends come to collect them for salvage.

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The dangers with books on ADHD and autism

In Sweden there is a game called “Fia med Knuff” and a while ago, I was recommended a book called “Sofia med Knuff – inte ett dugg annorlunda” (“Sofia with a shove – not different at all”), which title is a pun on this game’s name. It is supposedly a book about what it feels like to be eight years old and have ADHD. But I fail to see what the game and book have in common, more than that you can get knocked off-balance or get knocked out in school, if you do not receive the help and understanding which you need. On the other hand, the game, is all about knocking off your opponents pieces off the board, while you yourself get your own pieces to goal. And is that not what an autistic person does? Not thinking about how the opponents will feel when having their pieces taken off the board? A person with ADHD, is not quite as self-centred as that.

But let us leave the game itself, and move over to the book, which has been advertised heavily on Facebook and especially in the ADHD group, “Underbara ADHD”. I decided to not invest any money in this book, since it is not a text-book on how to help your child with ADHD. I had the library buy it. It is a book about Sofia and I can not remember the details about it, whether Sofia exists or not, if she is the daughter of the author or not. But I will always say this, about all books that are meant to enlighten people about ADHD and autism: What is true for one child, is not true for another, what works for one family does not work for another. You must never compare yourself to what you read. It will cripple you! Every human being is unique and even though books like this CAN help you to not feel alone, they are never the recipe for success. A book written by a parent, is not going to help you in your parenting, since your circumstances are different. And a book written by a psychologist is not guaranteed to help you, since at the end of the day, the psychologist goes home to his or her perfectly normal family, and she or he will NEVER know what it is like to live in it all, 24 hours a day.

I did not like this book. I am going to be honest, but I did not feel this a good description of what ADHD is at all. It started out

Sofia with a shove – not at all different

fine and my son with ADHD recognised at once what she has, because he has it too. But then it stopped being ADHD in our opinion and what the author was really describing, was nothing but Asperger’s. And then I ask myself, what I have asked myself for years: What is really, I mean REALLY the difference between ADHD and autism? Sure, there are subtle differences like hyper activity in the ADHD child. And biologically one has too much of one chemical in the brain (ADHD) while the other has too little (Autism) of the same chemical. But that said, what is going on then, when your child has both? I do not have the answers, but I will say this, that I doubt that Sofia would get just an ADHD diagnosis, if tested today at BUP in Lund, but she would also get one of Asperger’s. And since they are now stopping with that particular name for it and calling everything autism, she would indeed get an autism diagnosis.

If we go back to the title of the book, I must say that telling people that these children are not different at all, is an outright lie. They are different. Everyone can see that and hear it. That is why they get a diagnosis in the first place! Because they need help. Because their ways are so different from the rest of society’s, that they do not fit in. Their ways are causing them problems. Their way of thinking is different. That is how habilitation explained autism to my older son “Kitty”, when that diagnosis was added to his ADHD one: “Autism is thinking in a different way”. So do not give a book a name which claims that these children are not different. They are. But in many ways, in a good way. They are different yes, but the thing which ought to be pressed, is that it is alright to be different. Or should be in a perfect society. But society is not perfect, is it. Everyone judges. USA even has a president today, who has no qualms with pointing out that different is NOT alright. The title of the book, needs to be changed!

I do agree with the author’s inscription: “To all fantastic children who struggle to fit in! You are perfect just the way you are. It is the school and the rest of society, which should be adapted around you.” It has to be, if these children are going to succeed. If they fail, we will get a dangerous society. And it will cost more, than preventive measures.

In the book, we get to follow Sofia for about 24 hours. And during those 24 hours, the author crams in all of Sofia’s symptoms:

1. Sofia has a best friend who is very tolerant. Sofia is always the one in charge, while her friend Molly adapts to her wishes. Sofia is the one who comes up with the games to play. Since children with autism have a difficult time to play, I would say that this symptom is one of ADHD. My son’s teacher always used to complain that he wanted to be in charge and decide what games should be played. His classmates were NOT tolerant though and his Catholic old-fashioned teacher saw his “problem” as a real bad character flaw. One that we needed to talk to him about, so he would cease doing what he was doing at recess. He was not allowed to be himself. He was not supposed to share his wild ideas so freely. Even if some children without imagination, enjoyed his ideas!

2. Small children are screaming beside  the playground in the school yard and Sofia has a tough time handling screaming and loud noises. This is a clear sign of autism! Being sensitive to noise. But they are all sensitive to different senses. My oldest son Johannes can not stand the light, nor noise made by others. But it can be anything from touch, smell, taste to sound and light. My youngest son “Gubby” have a tough time with texture and his brother “Boo” with touch. (I have four autistic son’s, so I do have a little bit of experience to take from.)

3. When Sofia finds out that Molly is going on vacation to Spain for two weeks, she has a melt down. Alone for two weeks. She gets aggressive. Kicks a football goal and hits Molly. This is also autism in my opinion. Not being able to see the other’s side to things. Being upset about the change about to happen. Things not becoming the way you expected it to. Both ADHD and autism like routines and do not want changes. But it is the autistic child who gets a big time melt down, when things are about to change or has changed. “Boo” screaming his head off when his best friend F. is not visiting his grandmother as usual, on Friday afternoons. The internet having problems, when “Kitty” planned on playing on the computer, brings a meltdown out of this world.

4. When school is boring it is tough to sit still. Clearly an ADHD problem. But, my youngest son “Gubby”, who displays very clear signs of autism to everyone, does something which his other autistic brothers do not do. He “flaxes” like a bird. His arms go up and down like a bird preparing to take off in flight and he runs when doing this. Or he hits his wrists together like a seal. He does this when upset, tired, happy, confused, when he doesn’t know what to do, when something exciting is happening and when he gets BORED. So, not sitting still when things are getting boring, is a grey zone.

5. To say that ADHD is a different way to act, a different way to think, is getting too close to autism, in my opinion. And to any other mental disability for that matter. A better way to describe ADHD would be to not have any breaks. To act before you think. To live like every minute is the last. To think outside the box. Not being able to concentrate for too long. And to not being able to imagine the consequences before it is too late. Your thoughts always wandering off.

6. With every diagnosis a child gets, it is important to stress to the child, that the diagnosis is just a label for how the child acts and thinks. That the child is not its diagnosis and that it is the same person before the verdict, as after. This is discussed in the middle of the book, where Sofia wonders if she is a different person after the psychologist has told her that she has ADHD. And not wanting other people to know about it, even though she has seen that it has changed her teacher’s tolerance level. This is something which ought to be discussed more. Who does one tell? Not all parents and classmates will handle it in the correct manner. They will use the information against the parent and against the child. It will in many cases be the cause for bullying. The well-meaning parent of the child, having given the bullies the proper, perfect ammunition, by telling.

7. Sofia wants leggings or boy’s clothes, since they do not hurt and do not sit tight. This is as autistic as it can be. To have an autistic child means that you are on a constant hunt for the right clothes. Seams that do not hurt, trousers without hurting buttons or without buttons and zippers all together, since some children like mine, can’t handle those two. One child not being able to stand the touch of the fabric, so that child wanting baggy trousers that can just be pulled up. Another child not being able to handle the air between skin and fabric and wanting tight things. That child also being afraid of dropping the trousers when moving. This is AUTISM in my world and it is a constant struggle for the parent to find the right items in a world of fashion, that does not cater to needs, only to popularity and non-autistic designers wanting to try out new ideas. Part of the problem also being that from the age of eight, children are supposed to dress like miniature teenagers and 20 somethings. The clothes are not made to move in. And they are not made for children with diagnoses who are always a couple of years behind their peers in maturity. Still playing or moving around, instead of sitting bent over a mobile phone!

8. Sofia, at eight, only owns one kind of books and those are cook books. An entire bookcase full of them. Obsession and autism go hand in hand. My “Gubby” is obsessed with houses. Building them on Minecraft, watching restoration programs on TV, asking questions his mother can not answer, about house building details and suggesting that we stop at strangers’ houses to go in and have a look around, to determine if they are modern houses or not. Needless to say, one has to put a stop somewhere. But it has him very disappointed. Sofia’s cooking interest goes beyond interest. It is an obsession and not quite “normal” for an eight year-old.

9. Sofia is good at maths. She is ahead of everyone. This is most unusual for a child with ADHD,  since they get bored with repetitive things like math problems are, in math books. But this girl has finished the book ahead of everyone. This to me, also screams Asperger’s. It is very important though to NEVER assume that an autistic person has a special talent. You must never ever ask “What is your talent then?”. Mozart might have been a genius. Einstein the same. But only about 5% or less of autistic people, have a special talent. All the rest, are like us. Average or even have a low IQ. I would say to Sofia’s teacher: Let her do what she is good at! Do not hold her back. Because what these children have real problems with, is always self-esteem. Let them feel and know that they are good at, at least one thing, and let them thrive there! They get so much bad feedback from teachers, class mates, other children, people around them, that they must be allowed to shine, if possible. It will outweigh everything they are not so good at.

10. Sofia can not think if it is too noisy, nor if it is too quiet. And it must not be messy around her. Is this an ADHD symptom though? My autistic sons have all sat with head phones (the ones without a cord connected to some audio device.) They shut out all background noise that can be difficult to an autistic child. But you hear when someone speaks to you. I would say that both the ADHD group and the autism group have a difficult time with mess and noise. And today’s saving schemes in the schools, due to councils lacking the funds, have made school a nightmare to all these children, since the results have become classes with 30 students in each. A room full of 30 children is not going to be quiet. Unless one has an Austrian fighter pilot for a teacher, like I did in high school. We were scared stiff and you could hear a needle drop. But that was a big exception to the rule. In one way, these saving schemes are bad for the children who already have a diagnosis, but they have also caused the problems in the first place. Small classes mean peace and quiet, and mean that ADHD might never be discovered. You only get a diagnosis when there is a problem. And in a good environment, a lot of the symptoms will not show or be so obvious!

11. Sofia has bad habits like whistling, constantly clearing her throat in class, especially when it is quiet, and sitting drumming on her leg, when watching TV. This vex people. Autistic people have this “problem”. They get obsessed with it and can not stop. Snapping fingers, hitting their heads, flaxing like my “Gubby” does, clapping wrists like he does, clearing the throat is something both he and “Kitty” do, making noises when eating… I have never heard of it being something done by a person with ADHD.

12. But speaking out of turn, definitely is. Children but also grown ups with ADHD, can not wait their turn, they are too impatient for that. At the same time, a child or grown up with autism, will also interrupt and they speak on something entirely different from what the rest of the group is discussing.

13. Chewing on her clothes, has nothing to do with ADHD! It is clearly autism. It is done unconsciously, as is chewing on other things and pulling at clothes so that the neck lines get enormous or break.

14. Before “Kitty” received his autism diagnosis and only had his ADHD one, he had a difficult time standing in queue for the school canteen. Of course there was kicking and shoving. But also bullying and the noise level atrocious. But to be honest, his autism did not fly on him one day. It was always there, hiding under the hyperactivity. I would say that the school canteen situation is tough on both. It is not clearly an ADHD thing. I for one am delighted that both “Boo” and “Gubby” are at schools where there are no canteens. They all eat in their classrooms and the noise level can thereby be kept to a minimum.

15. Sofia has problems with gym class since there are certain things she can not do physically. There is nothing which connects ADHD with motor skill problems, but there is with autism. “Boo” has gross motor problems and fine motor problems which is very common in autism. He is clumsy in other words and can not partake in ball games and many other things, since it is physically impossible for him, on top of getting vexed with others. Sofia does not want to undress either. At “Kitty’s” resource school/special needs school, there is a rule that they do not have to change clothes for gym nor do they have to shower afterwards. Because one of the things the teachers have understood, is that autistic people do not like getting undressed in front of others. But I would say that it has something to do with reaching puberty, as well. My two younger boys, 10 and 8, have no problems with ripping off their clothes, at the pool, on the beach or in any place really, in front of spectators, because they do not understand that the social code says NO. In other words, I would not say that this symptom of Sofia’s is an ADHD one. Nor do I believe for a second, that an eight year old would have the problem, even if it is autistic, unless she comes from a very prudish family.

16. Connected with this, is the problem of not wanting to use public loos and the ones at school. Autism means noticing the smallest imperfections. Including dirt and pee drops. Obsessive Compulsiveness goes together, hand in hand, with autism. Washing your hands over and over again. Not wanting to get dirty. Not wanting to get wet. “Gubby” will change clothes if he gets a drop of water on them. I have to inspect his hands, since he does not feel clean. He can not stand to wear hand lotion even though we have to put it on, because his hands are so dry they crack and bleed. He will walk around with his hands in the air begging to be allowed to wash it off. ADHD? Then why does my four boys with autism have this obsession? My oldest would never go to any other toilet, than ours at home. He managed to plug up the entire pipes with his heavy-duty dumps, because his number twos, were all backed up, condensed excrement! Our loo could not handle his behaviour! And his father went down with intestinal flu, after having to deal with the pipes and standing up to his knees in his son’s poo.

17. Sofia explains that her mum does not understand her. That she wants to hug her when Sofia does not want to. That she buys skirts when Sofia wants trousers. That she disturbs her, when Sofia wants to be alone. Most parents of children who have ADHD and autism, do their very best at learning what works for their child and not. Some are better at it than others of course. Fathers seem to have a more difficult time accepting these children’s eccentricities. But as my doctor says, perhaps they can only handle so much. We are all different in how much we can cope with. I can sense when hugging is not a good thing. When the child wants time out. When my boys need space. Their father and siblings do not have the same radar. But the sum of it all is, that it is important to find out what makes your child tick and trying to avoid it at all cost. You do not buy skirts for a girl who wants to wear trousers, because that will cause unnecessary conflict. Choose your battles. Clothes are not worth the effort.

18. The last thing brought up in Sofia’s day, is how she has forgot hot pads one too many times, when taking things out of the oven, so her mother has decided to not let her do it again. Poor work memory, is present in all my four boys. “Gubby” remembers bad things. He will stay away from things which has hurt, for the most part. And he will NOT agree to try again. Work memory being poor, is both an autistic and an ADHD thing.

When Sofia’s testing is brought up in the book, we are told that the psychologists at BUP (child & youth psychiatry) are there to help, that they are the ones that are testing the child and cares about the child. I do not agree, nor does anyone else in Sweden who have had to deal with BUP. I have met five different psychologists at BUP  so far and none of them have been nice. So why is the author saying that they are nice? My hypothyroid doctor says, “BUP is an awful place one should avoid. It is the last resort. I do not recommend anyone going there”. I totally agree with her. They are definitely not there for you, but are only the social services extended hand. They are there to see if you as a parent can cope and if you show one little crack in the facade, they will report you. To sit and say different in this book, is wrong.

So, what conclusion do I draw after reading this book to my children? Because this book is intended to be read in the classroom and to children. It is not a good book explaining ADHD. The child with ADHD will not recognise itself and that is BAD. A child with autism will not recognise itself either, since it does not see its own problems. My 13-year-old is still in a denial stage. If the book, does not describe your child’s behaviour in particular, your child will not recognise itself and thereby say that “Sofia is weird and I am nothing like that! I don’t do those things!”.

As a parent, I can recognise my children’s behaviour, in Sofia, or similar behaviours. But then comes the problem that the book clearly states that she has ADHD and my boys have autism. What conclusion am I to draw then? If I was a teacher or a parent whose child had just received a diagnosis of say autism, then I would start questioning the diagnosis, after reading this book. Now, “Kitty” has had his ADHD diagnosis since 2009, “Gubby” and “Boo” have had their autism diagnoses since 2014 and “Kitty” received his in 2015. I have read SO MUCH so far, that I can say that this book about Sofia is not a good book about ADHD. And if psychologists say that it is, then psychology frames need to be redefined. Then it is time, to pull ADHD in under the umbrella called autism spectrum. And then the entire system needs to be changed. Children with ADHD must be assigned assistants in school, they must be granted additional funding and they must receive all the help that autistic children are entitled too. In my opinion, if THIS book is a description of ADHD, then ADHD is just one variation of autism.

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Swedish National Insurance for whom?

A couple of years ago, when my children were still in pre-school here in Sweden, I was introduced to a new word. I think I noticed it thanks to my autistic son “Gubby”. He expected the same people to be at the pre-school every day, and when they were not, it made him upset. Especially when it said VAB under his favourite teacher’s photo, on the entrance notice board. In the end I had to humiliate myself and ask on his behalf, “What does VAB mean?”. I was quickly informed that it means Care Of Sick Child (Vård Av sjukt Barn).

I can’t say that I feel too excited when I find out that one of my autistic boys’ teachers or assistants are home with a sick child, since it means upheaval for them. And it means dealing with people I am not used to deal with, people who know nothing about my sons’ problems. But on the other hand, teachers and assistants are only human. They are first and foremost mothers, fathers, wives and husbands. As it should be. So, VAB is a nuisance to live with. Until you need it yourself. And can’t have it. Then you get really mad at all those days, that teachers are off on VAB.

Ordinarily when one of my children are sick, it means that the child has to be carried out to the car with a bucket in hand. And all the rest of the passengers in the car, hope that if the child vomits, we will all survive the ordeal of smell and mess. I am forced to do this several times a day, since the boys can’t get themselves to school. But Monday, we faced a new situation.

Friday, when I fetched “Gubby” (who attends grade one at a Montessori school in our neighbour village), I found him laying down on a garden wall. Head on his assistant’s lap. When I felt his forehead, he was not hot but he said it hurt inside his head. Now, my son not only has autism, he also has severe language disorder and his right kidney does not work more than 10%. We drove to “Boo’s” school and I could see in the rear view mirror that “Gubby” was fighting fatigue and looking miserable. He did not want to walk in to fetch his brother, which he always does, since he is afraid of sitting alone in the car. That means that he really felt pits. That afternoon, he slept on and off, but when it was time to go to habilitation for our weekly bathing session, he wanted to go. So, we thought that the paracetamol had solved the problem and that the assistant must have been correct, when she said that he probably had just had too much sun.

After our “swimming”, we headed to the mall so I could look at what remained of the booksale, since the price of the remaining books was now 50% of the sale price. But poor “Gubby” just sat on a shelf and started to complain about tummy ache. I asked him if he was hungry, but he said no. On the way home, we stopped at the big arches, since the boys thought they deserved that, with their sister in Rome, Italy! But little “Gubby” did not want the cheese burger he had talked about all morning. He only wanted something to drink, so no toy for him. And at 08:00 the next morning, he woke me up asking for medicine, since his head hurt so bad. I gave paracetamol and went back to sleep, since I had sat up watching TV too late, the previous evening. At 09:00, I put out my hand to touch my son and he felt like a hot kettle. I rushed up and got the thermometer and with paracetamol in his body, he had a fever of 39 degrees. On to the phone of course. T. called the general number and became number 27 in the queue and then moved on to become number 32! Swedish health care for you. They can not even get the telephone queues to work. I called another number, was connected to the hospital and they wanted me to come in, since he has autism, which means he can not really explain how he feels, and he has a sick kidney. They just wanted to make sure it was influenza and nothing else. This was 09:00 and the first appointment available was at 16:30.

It was influenza, but now we faced a real dilemma. Sure, I could take this very sick boy in the car, to drop his brother off at school and fetching him, day after day, for the expected week to ten days of illness. BUT Monday, at 09:00 “Boo” was supposed to go to habilitation to swim with the physical therapist. These appointments are very sought after, so IF you get to have swim lessons with her, you only get three times per term. Last term he did not get to go at all, even though he can’t breathe and move arms and legs at the same time. He does one at a time and that does not count as knowing how to swim, according to the school requirements. Sure, he has been going to the pool with his class, getting swimming lessons. But his assistant refused to put on swim clothes and get in to the pool with his charge. So there was a lot of fighting, swearing at the swim teacher and endangering the other students. Some weeks he was not allowed to come with, as punishment, and there was zero learning taking place. At the end of the term, he was the only one left in the training pool, while all the others in the class, were having fun in the adventure pool. Which also became a matter of contention, as far as my very autistic “Boo” was concerned. All the swimming in the council pool was a disaster and he needs the calm environment at habilitation. He needs more than three lessons of course, but beggars can’t be choosers.

But you can’t take a child with high fever, head ache like a volcano under eruption and vomiting, to a pool. The parent is expected to don swimsuit and be in the pool with the child getting a lesson, you see. So, we came up with the solution, that T. would take VAB and go with “Boo” to habilitation, since I obviously can not split myself in to two mothers. I would stay home with “Gubby”, so he did not have to go out. But National Insurance would not allow this! I do not work, therefore I am to look after all our children. And yes, I am expected to split myself in to two people and be there for the child which needs to go to habiliation and be at home, holding the vomit bucket, for my sick boy. My husband is not entitled to be home at all. The only thing people told him to do at work was pretend that he himself was ill, but then he would not get any pay at all. Or he had to say that he was working from home and risk his boss’ anger, since there were meetings to attend. In other words, VAB is only for a two-parent-WORKING family.

Last year, around this time, it was ME who had the influenza. If there is one thing which must never happen, it is me becoming so sick I can not stand on my feet. Because the same rules apply then, as above with the VAB. I was sooooooo ill. My head hurt so bad I was vomiting. The fever was debilitating. I hurt all over and had to hold on to the children to stand up, hold on to the car and walls when they were not available. I tried to sit down and run my household in the mornings, getting the children ready for school. And shaking I sat down in the car and drove them to school. The teachers staring at me and telling me that I ought to be in bed. What? Were my children supposed to stay home from school till I got well, then? Noone had a solution to the problem, so I kept up this crazy thing for almost two weeks! I dropped them at school, drove home and crashed in bed with the mobile clock waking me up, to go fetch them. And then in the afternoons, while they watched film after film beside me, I slept on the sofa in the living room. When they were hungry, “Boo” tried to help himself and “Gubby”. I could not put up a fight, so there he stood in the kitchen making smoothies, decorating the entire kitchen counters, cupboards, floors and walls with strawberries and all the other ingredidents. The kitchen looked like a WWIII zone when my husband got home at 18:00 and all I could say to my defence was: “I have told you I feel pits”. But National Insurance do not cover stay-at-home-mums. We are not allowed to be human. We can’t ever get ill. We have to carry on, no matter how we feel. Our husbands are not entitled to do what all other father’s can do: Take over when the wife can’t do her job.

Sweden might think it has the perfect system, but my group of people, which is a minority, I agree, is excluded from the benefits which are used and abused by the rest of the population. There was even an investigation going on, a couple of years ago, when it had been discovered that parents filing for VAB, indeed did not have any sick children at home. Pre-schools and schools were contacted to see if the children had really been absent on the days, that the parents demanded payment for. Claiming they had been off work with sick children. Instead of putting money in to such a ridicous investigation, it would have been better to look over the policy all together and see if it works for EVERYONE in reality. Our family is the proof that it does not. We have three autistic children who can’t attend council schools, which means a lot of driving to other villages and towns, to independent schools. And when ONE child is sick, the entire house of cards, tumbles down. With autistic children, you do not have a social network of friends who can help out. It comes with the territory to be totally isolated, when your childrens’ handicaps are of the nature they are. Noone wants to go near you, and if they do, they do not understand how to handle the children. Once again, Sweden kicks on the ones already laying down. We carry our children on our shoulders all on our own, with all the problems they do come with. And for the most part we do it with a poker face on. Noone must know how tough it really is. But to not be allowed to be home with those children, when they are ill, and get the money everyone else receives… Is that not taking it one step too far?

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My Friday Book: “Fever at Dawn”

Fever at Dawn

Fever at Dawn

Three weeks after V-E Day/8th May 1945, Míklos Gárdos arrived as a very sick young man, from Bergen-Belsen, to Sweden. Like most of the inmates from the camp, he had typhoid and tuberculosis. On arrival to Lärbro, a town on the island of Gotland, he was told that he would only live for six, at the most seven months.
Looking at his wedding photo, on a news clipping, which is the only document in the book, which shows what he really looked like, you really would not believe, that what happened next, really happened. He was a skinny, scrawny thing, and I would say entirely unattractive with metal teeth and glasses thick as bottles. In my world, he would also be unattractive because of his ways: cramming communism down everyone’s throats, making himself out as too important and lying. In other words, having too high thoughts about himself. But perhaps this is the reason why he managed to beat the odds? Because he beat the odds.

Míklos refused to act sick or accept the death sentence. Instead he set out to find himself a wife! He was 25 years old and was not a dreamer as far as accepting the fact, that noone in his family probably had survived the holocaust. But he wanted a wife at this time of his life and he was not too picky. As long as she came from or around his native town of Debrecen in Hungary, he would accept pretty much anyone. He managed to compile a list of women under 30, who came from the right area, had survived the holocaust and were currently in some hospital in Sweden, just like himself. The next step was to send off 117 letters to those women and wait. All letters being identical except for the salutation phrase. The letters being nothing but a chatting up line, him wondering if they knew him before he was sent off to forced labour, and him claiming to have worked as a journalist in Debrecen before then, even though he was just an errand boy for eight days, before the Nürnberg laws forbade him to work at a newspaper.
At the same time, 18 year-old Lili Reich (in reality Agnes Biro), was taken to a hospital in Eksjö, Småland, with kidney stones. Míklos letter to her, had not made an impression on her, but her new-found friend Judit Gold, packed it for her, together with a diary and a tooth-brush, to go to Eksjö. Judit also encouraged Lili to answer the letter, because obviously the man must feel very lonely.
Míklos had a best friend in Lärbo, named Harry, who also had health issues of course. But the only thing we get to hear of Harry’s illness, is his impotence and how it bothered him, since he used to be a Don Juan. How long they had been friends, is kept a secret and if they shared the same fate in Hungary, is not told either. To be honest, we are not told much about Míklos war years. After Míklos was put in forced labour by the Hungarian military, he escaped in 1941, and joined the Russian partisans. They trained him to spy behind enemy lines, but he was caught as soon as he jumped in behind the front and all his teeth were knocked out, during the torture which ensued.
Of Lili, we find out nothing really, except how she reacted to letters she received. We know very little what life was like for her, before she came to Sweden. Only that she lived with her mother and father close to a train station in Budapest. That her father was a travelling sales man, selling bags and suitcases. And that she was taken for dead, when the Swedish delegation of doctors arrived to Bergen-Belsen. One of them, luckily noticed a tiny movement in a finger, and thereby saved her life. We also find out that she felt so fed up with being Jewish and what had been done to her and all other Jews, that she claimed to be Catholic. When she and the others arrived in Småland, she was given a Catholic family for host family. All patients receiving a host family, who they could spend holidays with and have dinners with, as soon as they were not contagious anymore.
Míklos was soon moved from Gotland, with all the other Hungarian men, to Avesta, which made him very unhappy. He did receive 18 answers to the 117 letters sent and he kept up correspondence with nine of them, but Lili was his favourite. Probably because to her, he was very educated and very well versed in the way of the world. She admired him and absorbed everything he said like a sponge.  Soon she was as in love with him, as he was with her. Even though they had not seen photos of each other. As a matter of fact, he did no dare to have his photo taken, since he was sure his looks would turn her off. And this is a very funny part of the book, since he lets himself be photographed with Harry, to send to Lili. But he forces the photographer to make Harry focused and himself unfocused. The girls could not understand why he would send such a photo! I would also have questioned the sanity of this man!

Míklos left, Harry right

Miklos left, Harry right

The two “lovers” planned to meet, because of how they felt and because Míklos had such little time left and this is basically what the book is about. The refugees were not allowed to just travel around like they wanted to. They could not just take a train and go visit someone. All of them were sick, that is why they were here in Sweden in the first place. To get well and then get repatriated. They got a little bit of pocket-money, but that was not enough to do anything grand really. Míklos and Lili had to plan very carefully. Especially since some refugee girls had behaved very poorly in other places, not living up to the moral standards of the day.

Lili had help from her best friend Sára Stern, who had been allowed to join her in Eksjö, but Judit Gold, who also had arrived, did on the other hand, do everything to prevent further association between the two “lovers”. Why? Well, that becomes clear at the end of the book. But we could say, out of spite. She did not want this man, but noone else was supposed to either.
When it was finally time for the youths to meet, Míklos did several things. He had received money from an uncle, in Cuba, and with them he bought three chocolate bombs from a bakery, yarn for Lili to knit him a sweater with and nice brown fabric, for her to make in to a winter coat. Loaded with all this and suitcases, he set out on the long train journey. Of course fate had to put a twist on everything, so he fell and broke one of the lenses of his glasses. The man who arrived in Eksjö looked like Frankenstein’s monster. Dressed in a too large coat, with metal teeth gleaming in the evening light and with one eye covered with the daily newspaper’s front page! Lili went in to shock and had Sára pretend to be her, but they did not fool Míklos. It did not take long for Lili to warm up to her letter writer though. So much so, that he three days later, went home an engaged man.
But life did not get particularly better. When the girls were moved to Berga instead, someone stole Lili’s fabric, which devastated her. She realized that someone really hated her, when the police found it, all cut up in strips. Míklos, who wanted to visit her again, for Christmas, was not allowed to do so, which made him run away and as punishment he was sent way up to the north of Sweden, to a community called Högbo. The two of them continued their plans though and one part of the plan was, to convert to Catholicism for real, and live happily ever after as Catholics. Míklos managed to buy rings, by pawning Harry’s violin, and then they just waited for an opportunity.
But Judit tried to prevent all their plans. She sent letter after letter to a Rabbi Kronheim in Stockholm, who had been chosen to take care of all the refugees’ spiritual needs, as well as psychological health, while in Sweden. In her letters, Judit divulged everything which was happening between Lili and Míklos, claiming that Míklos was a con man. Kronheim went to see Lili, first of all, trying to make her see sense about converting and marrying a dying man. And when she would not listen, he went to see Míklos, but he quickly realized that Míklos was not going to bend more than Lili had, so he suggested they marry in the synagogue in Stockholm. The congregation and rabbi Kronheim would pay for absolutely everything. He would write everyone who needed to give their permission, he would see to that Míklos got new porcelain teeth… The offer was made in such a way that they could not refuse! It meant that they could marry quickly. So they married in February 1946 and newspapers covered the story. The couple even received a congratulation letter from the Swedish king. That summer, they moved back to Hungary, because a miracle had happened. Míklos lungs were slowly healing themselves and he actually lived for another 52 years.
We do not find out what happened to his friend Harry, nor Sára, even though they were such important people in the story. Judit Gold, ten years older than the other two girls, was not mentioned further either. But, one did find out one thing and that is that she was one of the 117 women who received a letter from Míklos. She had no interest in answering it, since she thought it an outragous gesture of him to send the letter in the first place. But perhaps she did regret herself, when she saw her friend’s happiness? Or she could not stand seeing happiness so close? I think everyone who reads the book, will draw the conclusion that she was the one who stole the fabric and cut it to pieces, depriving her sick friend of a well needed coat.

I have given this book four stars because two things really bothered me with it, which pulled the rating down. The first thing which bothered me, was the fact that the Swedish edition needed to have gone through a last editing and spell check. Here and there sentences did not make any sense, especially having words lacking some letters. It seems like someone was typing too fast and missing letters, and why was this not caught before going to print?
The second problem I have with this book, is a major one. Either it is a novel or it is a biography. It seems like the author or the publishing company, can not decide which it is. A novel does not need any explanations what so ever. BUT since the book contains documents and photos, in the last part of the book, to prove the story authentic, it has left the novel category. And entering the biography category means, that the author needs to add one chapter of explanations. Why did he keep his dad’s real name in the book but altered that of his mother and her parents? Who was the second couple in the wedding photo, since the newspaper article mentioned no names? Was it Harry? Judit Gold obviously did everything to stop Míklos’ and Lili’s relationship from start to finish, out of jealousy, but was she just added for effect or was there really a Judit and did she really do what she is accused of in the novel? And the Rabbi, did he con them in to having a Jewish wedding and prevent them from converting to Catholicism? Since it clearly is NOT a novel in the ordinary sense, explanations are needed. The reader deserves to find out what is truth and what is artistic liberties. I for one, did not read the book because I was dying to read about true love, but I read it to find out how the Jewish survivors were treated here in Sweden, after the war. I read it, to find out details about their lives in refugee camps and hospitals. What the policies were, from the Swedish side. Obviously, one realizes that conversations are made up, to get to a point, and to make the story interesting/gripping. But I want to know how far away from the truth, the author went. Because if this was a novel in the ordinary sense, the story would be unbelievable. But only because the story is based on the author’s parents’ letters, does it become a remarkable story.

Wedding photo found on the internet of Míklos Gárdos and “Lili” i.e. Agnes

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