A "whether to weather the weather" kind of day here today…
My compromise: A short slushy walk, and being thankful for the possibility to shop groceries online (with home delivery tomorrow)…
The first book I read (or finished reading) in 2018 was Strong Poison, a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery by Dorothy L. Sayers; first published in 1931.
I’ve read it before; more than once, but probably in Swedish. I bought the whole Wimsey series for Kindle some years ago (reduced price at the time) (and got rid of a few falling-apart old paperbacks from my bookshelves). I (re)read the first (Whose Body) and the second (Clouds of Witness) in 2016-17; but now felt like skipping ahead a few to Strong Poison, which is where Peter first makes the acquaintance of Harriet Vane – a crime novelist herself, and now accused of the murder of her ex-lover, another writer. Lord Peter does not believe she is guilty, and gives it his best effort to find out and prove what really happened. It’s clear from the beginning that the victim died of poison; the question is how. Did he take his own life? or was he killed by someone else? This book is a good example of a classic murder mystery, with focus on who, when and how. Having read the book before, I pretty much knew how it ends; but the quality of this novel is to be found in all the intricate details of the mystery (some of which I had forgotten), and also in witty dialogue and repartee, and the growing relationship between Peter and Harriet – the knight in shining armour vs the damsel in distress. While Peter unexpectedly finds himself falling head over heels in love, Harriet feels trapped – not just physically (in custody awaiting trial, and unable to do anything about the situation herself), but also psychologically – having to depend on Peter to literally rescue her from the gallows, while all she is really longing for is to be free and independent again.
I really enjoyed rereading this one.
“Curious,” mused Wimsey , as he pattered along Bedford Row “everybody is so remarkably helpful about this case. They cheerfully answer questions which one has no right to ask and burst into explanations in the most unnecessary manner.”
“Next to hidden treasure and mysterious documents , nothing is more full of sensational suggestion than a packet of anonymous white powder.”
In Sweden, 13th January is St Knut’s Day, or the 20th day of Christmas; and traditionally this is when we “throw out Christmas” (the tree and other decorations) and eat up left-overs like the ginger bread house (if we made one!). At least that was still the tradition back in my childhood (1950s/early 60s). There were usually one or more children’s “Christmas tree plundering parties” to go to this time of year – and I think my mum hosted one or two of those, too (for me and some of my neighbourhood friends/ primary school classmates).
Postcrossing card from France, January 2018
Christmas card from a Swedish friend living in Norway
Not really sure how well the Knut Day traditions have been ♥preserved♥ throughout the years… My impression is that many people nowadays throw out Christmas earlier (maybe because they also start decorating earlier). As for myself, I do usually still keep my decorations up until mid January. Anyway, this year I did, with the extra excuse that I also had my brother visiting Wednesday-Friday this past week. Today, I did not feel inspired to get on with it either – feeling I had enough other things to do (including the important task of just lying on my back and read most of the afternoon...) Maybe Monday??
Outdoors it’s been another grey week here; with bare ground and temperatures hovering just around 0°C (freezing point).
Cold and frosty weather today, - 6°C around noon, when I took me, my shadow and my camera out for a walk. It’s been a while since any of us saw the sun; maybe that’s why I had such a loooong shadow, too?
Last night before I went to bed, I also noticed that I could see the stars in the sky from my balcony, which is even more rare in the city. I turned the camera towards the sky. On the screen, I could not see anything but black. But I pressed the button anyway…
Then, on the computer, I used the Picasa auto contrast + some extra shadow, and got this:
To which I can only say “wow”.
Now, of course, I’m wondering if you are able to also see the same on your computer screen as what I see on mine. I.e. more stars than I can count… And proof, I guess, that my camera sees more than I can see with my bare eye (and glasses)…
One of my first received Postcrossing cards in 2018 apparently came straight from Postcrossing Heaven… Not only does it show “Christkindl’s Postamt”, but it was also sent from a Christmas Postcrossing Meetup, in Austria – dated 23rd December 2017 – and signed by some fifteen or more postcrossers. What a treasure!
A Ramble about Stamps
(Feel free to skip this if numbers give you headache…)
Shortly before Christmas, I read somewhere that there was to be another increase in postage rates in Sweden from 1st January. The impression I got was that both domestic and international postage was to go up. In 2017, international was already increased twice, and went up from 2x to 3x that of a letter or card within Sweden. If the same pattern was to be applied for 2018, that would bring the cost of sending a postcard abroad up to a quite ridiculous level! However, after last years’ changes, I didn’t put it past them…
On the official website, there were no details to be found yet. But I decided to stock up an extra supply of domestic stamps (‘1st class’) at the old price (7 kr), as they would not only still be valid but even increase in value (to 9 kr) in 2018. (These have no value printed on them, just “Sverige Brev” – Sweden Letter. But can also be used together with other stamps to make up international postage, at whatever they happen to be worth at the moment.)
When I checked again after New Year, it was actually Good News for me - on the international front. Turned out that it was only the domestic postage that had gone up (from 7 to 9 kr), while the international remains unchanged (for now) at 21 kr.*
This means that for me, to send a postcard abroad may even be cheaper for a while. (Are you still with me? I’m having difficulties myself! But if I use wisely the stamps bought at 7 kr before New Year, but now worth 9 kr…)
(Please don’t tell PostNord. If they’re made aware, they might panic!)
*[21 SEK ~ 2,57 USD ~ 1,9 GBP]