Question of the day (17th September).

Hi people! 🙂

Have you ever had couscous, or do you like it?

My answer:

Yes, I have had it. But let me give you a bit of a backstory first as I guess it might be interesting. The first time I had couscous was around the time when I started primary or perhaps during nursery yet. I had an aunt back then, who wasn’t my real, biological aunt, but I always called her aunt anyway and will always think of her as such. And whenever I think about couscous, I immediately think of her. 😀 She lived very close to my boarding school, and at some point during nursery, when my Mum realised that I was struggling there and wanted to do something about it, she was looking for a flat or a room to rent there so that she could be closer to me and so that we could live there at least temporarily and some of the time during the year. The prices were really high though in that part of the country and there weren’t that many satisfying offers anyway, and so finally during her search my Mum phoned just another real estate agent, who didn’t have anything to offer for her but felt really moved by our situation as it seemed and offered that, since she lived so close to the boarding school, she could be like my aunt and visit me or I could visit her and perhaps having someone like this would make things easier for me even though it wouldn’t be my actual family. Mum was euphoric, though I remember being rather skeptical about the idea. But it actually turned out to be a great thing, we got along very easily and I grew very attached to her. It wasn’t quite like as if I lived with my family and it didn’t resolve all the problems, but it did make things easier. I absolutely adored spending time in her house which was very different from my ownn or from any houses I had been to so far. I visited her on weekends or we went out somewhere. When my Mum couldn’t be at stuff like different contests, Nativity plays or other such that I might have taken part in, she would often come and cheer me, despite she neither had to nor actually should as she was chronically ill and had something with her immune system so it was a bit risky. When my Mum came to me for the weekend or longer rather than took me home, she let us stay at her home upstairs so we didn’t have to continuously spend the time in the boarding school. She was extremely altruistic, to the point that you could consider it foolish or extremely naive. My family and her had a lot in common, though also at the same time she was very different from them which attracted me all the more to her, and also we both shared a passion for figurines, which I collected at the time, mostly porcelain figurines, and so did she, and we exchanged a lot of our figurines. Sadly though, this relationship didn’t last too long, because over time she felt worse and worse physically and had a lot of familial problems, so couldn’t see me as regularly as she used to, and finally, some two years or so since we first met, she moved out with her daughter to the city. I tried to keep in touch with her and called her infrequently but regularly when I was at home and could do it, as I felt very grateful for what she did to me and knew she was struggling with a lot of things and of course my family also encouraged me to show my gratitude towards her, and she continued to have more and more health issues of her own and also her two granddaughters were very ill. And then at some point we lost touch. Both me and Mum tried to find her, as it seemed like she changed her phone number, and we both wanted to show her our gratitude and perhaps help if possible, but from what we could find out it seemed like she might just as well have moved out somewhere else and we were unable to trace her. So it’s been very many years since we’ve last heard from her and this sucks a lot, as I’d like her to know how very helpful she had been to me, and I’d like to be able to reciprocate somehow. Since she was in her early fifties when we were in touch and as I said she was already struggling a lot with her health, I’m not even sure if she’s still alive.

Anyway, she was also a real foodie and quite sophisticated in general and, during my stays at hers, I got to try a lot of things that were totally new to me. Like the couscous, for example.

Interestingly, I found it absolutely delicious and I was a real fan of couscous. But when, years later, I asked my Mum to make it and she did, somehow it wasn’t quite as good, and my Mum found it even more unpleasant. My Mum is a fab cook and often makes various grains so I wonder was it just that it wasn’t so new and exciting anymore, or did my aunt make it in some special way that made it have a bit more character or have I just grown out of couscousmania. Whatever the reason, these days I find couscous incredibly bland, and so does everyone else here, so we don’t really eat it in our house. Perhaps we’re just not classy enough hahaha. I know that, because it’s so neutral, you can combine it with a lot of things, but either we haven’t combined it with the right things or it’s just not our thing because no matter the additions, spices and stuff the couscous itself always feels bland.

How about you? 🙂

Song of the day (25th January) – Monica Törnell – “Faster Fantasis Visa” (Aunt Fantasy’s Song”.

Hey guys! 🙂

I’d like to introduce you to a singer that I know quite well pretty much since I’ve become familiar with Cornelis Vreeswijk. Some of her music I like, some not so much, but for sure, her career and Cornelis’ were closely related, because Cornelis Vreeswijk was the one who discovered her in the 1970’s.

Monica Törnell is from Hälsingland, and enjoyed singing since an early age. As a young girl, she was singing at the opening of a restaurant of her father, and Cornelis was passing by and heard her. He liked her voice and somehow from there it has started, he helped Monica to develop her career and she also toured with him for a bit and featured on one of his albums. She was very popular in Sweden in the following years, until at some point, about 20 years after the beginning of her singing career, she started having serious health issues like myasthenia gravis so had to step away from singing. However she did release her newest album some… 2 years ago, I believe. Her voice is very characteristic, right now as she is older she doesn’t sound as good in my opinion, but there are people who like her nowadays voice even more. When she was younger, she had really wide vocal range, and her vocal abilities as well as the sound of her voice and also her style a little bit, remind me very strongly of Janis Joplin, though maybe it’s just me. Her music is a sort of blending of folk, pop and rock and sounds quite characteristically of 70’s-80’s. Monica has also been very good at drawing and painting since childhood, and she does paint still.

I was wondering for a long time which song of her I wanted to share with you because I have quite a few favourites, but I didn’t want the language to be too big a bareer – as most of her songs are in Swedish. – The one I chose finally is also in Swedish, but I think it shouldn’t be difficult for me to describe to you what it is about so you can have a clear idea.

The song is called “Faster Fantasis Visa” and I’ve always thought that it sounds like from some sort of an old children’s programme, and it seems like I had a surprisingly good hunch because, well, yes, it is! I couldn’t find much info on it other than the programme was one of the first children’s programmes in the Swedish television and started out in the 50’s, and was called “Humle och Dumle”, and I believe Faster Fantasi (Aunt Fantasy) must just be one of the characters, but, apart from what’s in the song, I didn’t find any info about her.

I like her because she’s kinda like me. 😀 From the song we know that her full name is Eva Britta Karin Katarina. She sounds like an extremely refined and experienced person. She’s been to India, China, Sahara, Italy (twice actually), London, Vienna, Argentina, Yugoslavia, England, Netherlands, Pakistan, New Zealand, Göteborg, Moscow, Copenhagen, Berlin… all around the world virtually as you can see… but – she adds – “I’ve never been outside my door, because I travel in fantasy”. Ain’t that so very cool?! 🙂