Marta Maria

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Location: Viljandi, Estonia

Saturday, May 26, 2007


The first words Marta said to me today were "go away". I walked into the bedroom to announce that I was making eggs for breakfast and I was greeted with "go away". Somehow I don't mind it too much though. I just sort of accept that my daughter can be a little nasty and pay it no mind. But inside it kind of sucks.

We walked through town because there is a cycling rally today and most of the streets are closed off. Marta has really been into pirates recently. She's been talking about them. I think what happened is that the new Pirates of the Caribbean film came out and the little ones in pre-school are jabbering on about Captain Jack Sparrow.

I wouldn't dare take her though. Too scary. Ditto for Harry Potter. I am not as enthusiastic as some of the parents of the 90s with my filtering of popular culture (remember the v chip?) but I still like to keep my kid away from scary things. That is ultimately done out of benefit for me so that she doesn't get nightmares and wake me up in the middle of the night. See -- good parenting is born out of self-interest.

But when Marta wanted to buy a red Pippi Longstocking wig and a Pippi DVD at the store today, I couldn't really say no. I think it's good to encourage her enjoyment of 1970s Swedish children's television and a heroine that doesn't dress in sleazy costumes (like so many things designed for little girls) and doesn't have sinister undertones, like Harry Potter.

So Marta today is Pippi and, wouldn't you know, the Pippi movie is about her adventures on the south seas with pirates! Perfect. As a sidenote, the woman who illustrated a lot of Astrid Lindgren's books, but not Pippi. was born right here in Tartu.

You can read the interview with Ilon Wikland, who was born here 77 years ago and fled to Sweden at the age of 14 in 1944, here. She is also the author of her own book, interestingly called "Sammali, Epp, and Me."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Back from the UK

I left last Monday for a business trip to the UK. I first went to Edinburgh for two days, then took a train down to Oxford for another two days. I have decided that, just going to the UK, that we are going to have to go back perhaps two or three times to "do it all".
I have large ambitions for a future Petrone family vacation. For one, we are going to go to the Outer Hebrides in the Scottish highlands during the future Petrone family vacation, especially the Isle of Lewis where something like 75 percent of the people speak Gaelic.
Also, we are going back to Oxford -- where I just was -- and doing our research before we go so we can take in all the history, most of it I just happened to walk by with my knapsack.
Other places to see include Cornwall and Northumbria and then there's Wales. I can just imagine Epp and I and our two daughters with their heads poking out of the windows of the car as we make our way through the English countryside munching on sandwiches of cheddar and other good English stuff on our way to Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk to visit its interesting sugar beet factory. Can you just see it? With me driving on the opposite side of the road? Good thing I have got years to practice (and save) for that one.