Tuesday, 21 May 2019



Glimpses from 'Fashion Days' at the Textile Fashion Center on Saturday. (Which houses our Textile Museum as well as the Textile College and some other textile-related businesses.) I only looked in briefly... I found the atmosphere a bit noisy, with loud music as backdrop to the fashion show going on just then. I think they were showing summer clothes from some of the local fashion stores.

Upstairs, there was an exhibition of flower arrangements. It's that time of year... Graduations coming up soon; and weddings are also popular in May-June here.

There was also an exhibition about sustainability and ways to "re-think" about fashion and recycling etc of textiles. 

There is a lot of talk about re-cycling and up-cycling, clothes-swapping and buying second hand these days... (And this being a textile-centered city, I guess we perhaps get even more of that kind of discussions.) And yet it seems to me, almost any time I enter one of the regular fashion shops in the city, that they are more overcrowded (with clothes and accessories) than ever - offering a million similar choices, and no real chance to get a good overview. 

By the way - how do you react to music in shops? For me, it usually has the opposite effect than I suppose they intend... Unless I know exactly what I'm after and am really determined to get it, background music often makes me turn around right at the door and walk straight back out again... 

Just now I'm thinking that I don't really need a lot of new things for this summer. That may depend a bit on what kind of summer it will turn out to be, though! (So far, I think it has not made up its mind yet...)

However, I made one purchase last week that I'm happy about - at least so far. Not clothes, but a new handbag (shoulder bag). It wasn't second-hand, but half-price, and just what I wanted. Or coming as close as one can expect to get in reality, anyway...
(In my imagination, I'm constantly looking  for the equivalent of Hermione's magic handbag in the last Harry Potter-book... Tiny on the outside, weighing nothing at all, but with room for a library and a tent the size of a fully equipped small house inside...)

I'll donate some less successful purchases from the past to a charity shop instead. (Not sure if that makes the world a better place; but it will save me some space, anyway!)


Saturday, 18 May 2019

Steamers (Sepia Saturday 470)

The Sepia Saturday prompt for this week (see photo at the bottom of this post) reminded me that maybe I should I try to relaunch a family history project that I got started on years ago - on a separate blog, Greetings from the Past. Among all the papers and photos I found in my parents' house after they died (2009/2011) there was an album of postcards collected by my great-uncle Gustaf - an older half-brother of my grandmother's. (He was born in 1878 and died before I was born.) The earliest postcards are from around 1901. In 1901/02 (while my grandmother was still a baby) he and one of his sisters both emigrated to different locations in the United States - but both later moved back to Sweden again. I also have quite a lot of old photos, but unfortunately with very few names or dates attached. So whenever I start looking into something, I usually end up going "astray" - and not always finding my way back!!

Ah well. While thinking about if, when and how to relaunch that other blog, I'll just pick a couple of ship-related cards for this week's Sepia Saturday here...

R.M.S Mauretania
New Quadruple Turbine
The Largest Vessel Afloat
32.500 tons
68.000 horse power
Length 790 ft.
Breadth 88 ft.
Depth 60 ft. 6 in. 

RMS Mauretania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by Wigham Richardson and Swan Hunter for the British Cunard Line, launched on the afternoon of 20 September 1906. She was the world's largest ship until the completion of RMS Olympic in 1911. /Wikipedia/
The card was written May 19, 1908 and addressed to Mr Gust Ekman, Galeton Pa, USA. The stamp has been removed from the card (like on all the other cards in the album) but there is an extra postmark to confirm that it arrived in Galeton on May 28.

The text on the back is written in pencil, in Swedish.

Aboard the Mauretania, 19 May 1908, at 10 p.m. (Pa time 5 o'clock in the morning) Hello Gust. We are now at Ireland. The Irish are just getting off now. We have had very nice weather every day, so it has been rather nice on the sea. - G. Swanson

The sender also adds an address in Sweden. All put together, I draw the conclusion that G. Swanson was another Swedish emigrant, (probably born Svensson but having changed his name to sound more American), now returning to the old country. And most likely, someone Gustaf got to know in Pennsylvania. 

Gustaf himself returned to Sweden in 1911, if memory serves me right. In the US population census of 1910, he is registered as a "yardman" at a sawmill in Galeton, and together with some fellow workers a boarder to the township’s tax collector, a Mr Near and family. (See what I mean about getting sidetracked as soon as I start looking into something??)  

 Str City of Buffalo, Landing at Dock, Celeron, N.Y.

"American Steamship Company (“ASC”) has been a pioneer in Great Lakes vessel transportation. Founded in Buffalo, New York in 1907" - http://www.americansteamship.com/

This card too is addressed to Gust Ekman in Galeton Pa, and was sent from Jamestown N.Y. July 18, (19)09. It is written in English.

I will send you [illegible word] and thanks you very much for the postal you sent me. I hear you had good times on 4 of July in Buffalo. Did you have any girls wheel* you. all [?] Gust. I had lovely times out here in Jamestown to. Alfred and Henning is working here in town now so pretty soon all de boys from Galeton will be here in Jamestown. I supoese Hilding have a picnic now wheel* all de girls. Good Bye and soon (?)
John Beckman, Broadhead Ave, Jamestown, N.Y.

* I assume he must mean "with" rather than "wheel"!


Friday, 17 May 2019


Yesterday, I received an email reminding me that it was my 6th Postcrossingversary. Wow. How time flies when one is having fun!

  • The goal of this project is to allow anyone to send and receive postcards from all over the world! The idea is simple: for each postcard you send, you will receive one back from a random postcrosser somewhere in the world. 
  • Simply because --- there are lots of people who like to receive real mail.
    Receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of!) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises — and who wouldn't like that?

On top of that, I'm also celebrating my 3rd Duolingoversary this week.

Duolingo is a language learning platform with more than 300 million users and offering around 30 different languages. It is free to use and is designed to feel like a game. The course that they have developed the furthest is Spanish; and second comes French.

Spanish was also my own first choice on Duolingo, and is still my priority there. (At least one lesson per day - often more.) However, I have also made use of Duolingo to freshen up my French and German (learned in school many years ago, long before computers and mobile phones); to improve my understanding of Danish and Norwegian (closely related to Swedish); and also to try and learn a little bit of Dutch, Turkish, Welsh and Russian. (I have also had a peek at one or two others, but decided not to proceed with those - for now, anyway!) 

With Dutch, I have come to understand it pretty well (in writing), but have decided to "stop" at that, as I don't want to mess up my German. And it's the same thing with the other new languages, really: Except for maybe Spanish, my ambitions don't really go beyond learning to understand a bit. I have a general interest in languages though, so I'm fascinated when I can just learn to recognize some words and phrases and basic structures. 

Postcrossing and learning foreign languages are of course two hobbies that go rather well together - even if the most commonly used language in postcrossing is English.

Learning more languages has also made me more interested in watching TV series or films in those languages (even if I'd still be lost without Swedish subtitles). For example I have enjoyed the Spanish series Velvet on Netflix (the setting is a Spanish fashion house in the 1950s/60s), and the Turkish series Paramparça (Broken pieces) on Swedish television. At the moment, I'm following a Jewish series on Netflix - Shtisel. (No, I don't know any Hebrew... But I'm fascinated to discover that I recognize and even understand a bit when they switch to Yiddish now and then!).





Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Clematis Alpina

The clematis on my balcony are in bloom - again. Each year in spring I am astonished at their ability to survive the winter out there. 

When I first uncovered them this year (I wrap them up in fibre cloth for winter and hope for the best...), I was almost certain that the one on the left must have died, as there were no signs of life at the bottom...

Further up on the trellis, the branches of the two plants are all entangled in each other though, and it's impossible to sort them out from one another. 

 So one has to wait for the flowers before one can tell.

And again it turned out that after all there is still life in both plants - revealed by the fact that the flowers are different colours!



Our World Tuesday

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Some Recent Reads (Short Reviews)

The American Agent
by Jacqueline Winspear (2019)

Read on Kindle + Audible
Audible narration by Orlagh Cassidy (11 h)

The 15th installment in Jacqueline Winspear's series about private investigator Maisie Dobbs. In this novel Maisie investigates the murder of an American war correspondent in London during the Blitz. She is asked by police authorities to work on the case together with Mark Scott, an agent from the US Department of Justice whom she previously met in connection with a case in 1938 which took her to Munich in Germany. Nowadays, Maise also has to balance her professional life with her responsibilities for a young evacuee that she has come to love and care for, and wants to adopt.

As usual, my impression is that Winspear does a good job with reflecting the wartime atmosphere that she's writing about. (In the early books, post-WWI - in the later books, WWII.)

Wishes & Wellingtons
by Julie Berry, narrated by Jayne Entwistle

(9 h 29 min)

Wishes and Wellingtons is an Audible original--i.e. only produced as an audio book.
There is no print version. As
Audible member this was one of my monthly
free 'extras' recently.

This is a middle-grade fantasy adventure. Maeve Merritt is a student at  the London boarding school Miss Salamanca's Boarding School for Upright Young Ladies, and not at all happy about that. One day, as punishment for something, she is forced to sort through the trash, and finds a sardine tin that turns out to contain a foul-tempered djinni - who in turn is not at all happy to find his new "master" to be a mere schoolgirl... 

A strange mix of adventures and troubles follows for Maeve, her room mate at the school + and an orphan boy from the orphanage next door, before the story comes to a close. A kind of mix of Charles Dickens and Arabian Nights; with a rather headstrong girl as the main character. I liked the audio narration, but have to say I was less impressed with the plot. But then I suppose I'm not really in the target age group (even if I do still like to read children's and YA books sometimes).

A Girl Called Justice
by Elly Griffiths (2019)

Read on Kindle

I was curious to read this because I like Elly Griffiths crime novel series about the forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway (11 books so far, I think). I also liked her recent stand-alone novel The Stranger Diaries. 

This time, she is trying her hand at a book for younger readers, and lovers of for example the Enid Blyton mysteries.

While I remember the children in Enid Blyton's stories as always being on holiday, this is another book set in boarding school environment. Not quite as grim as Miss Salamanca's Boarding School for Upright Young Ladies (see Wishes and Wellingtons above!), and missing the magic of Hogwarts - but still reminding a little bit of both... 

But then the heroine, Justice Jones, is kind of set on finding mysteries to solve right from the start when she arrives at
Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. The story is set in 1936.

Her father, a widower, is a barrister specialising in murder trials, and Justice is sent off to boarding school after her mum died.  Before that, she had been home-schooled by her mum; so coming to live at a boarding school is quite a shock. And when one of the first things she hears about is the suspicious death of chamber maid, Justice at once takes it upon herself to make her own investigations into the mystery. Along the way, she also makes some new friends. But when a winter storm cuts the school off from the rest of the world, the plot thickens...
In an  afterword, Elly Griffiths writes that the school is entirely fictional, but "It is, however, loosely based on ... the school attended by my mother, Sheila, in the 1930s. Like Justice, Sheila was brought up by her father ... and she too heartily disliked boarding school."
For my own part, I prefer the author's adult books; but back in my Enid Blyton days of youth, I would probably have loved this one.


Speaking of boarding schools, I'm also currently in the process of spending my monthly Audible credits on collecting the Harry Potter series in Swedish narration by actor Björn Kjellman. 
When I first started reading/listening to Harry Potter, back around 2000, it was in narration by another Swedish actor, and recorded on cassette tapes. (Anyone remember cassette tapes?!) 
Since then, I have also read and listened to them all in English (several times); read by both Jim Dine, and Stephen Fry (my favourite). But it's also nice to keep up with the Swedish translations. 

(For some reason, I never seem to outgrow the Potter books. I think it is because they're so full of details, and with so many hidden or half-hidden references to all kinds of other stories that there's always something new to discover.)
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