Sunday, July 31, 2011

Summer Sunday

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For Straight Out of the Camera Sunday… Please join me for a Swedish fika = our common word for a coffee or tea break, usually also including something (sweet) to eat.  Fika can be used as a verb as well as a noun, by the way. And we do use it frequently! At least this time I had sort of ‘earned’ it by quite a long walk to get to café in the open air museum park… Tea for me, please…! And, in this case, a piece of pastry that I suppose in the English-speaking world you’d call a macaroon. (If you ever get to Sweden, do not ask for makaron(er) with your fika though – or you might end up with a plate of macaroni pasta!)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Water and Sky

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For Weekend Reflections and Skywatch Friday

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More pictures from the lake near where my dad lived.
It was a sunny day but with dramatic clouds in the sky!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beach Video

http://youtu.be/h2rgtrzpMYs

My cutest beach finds – live! :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

B for Beach (ABC Wednesday)

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The beach at the lake near my dad’s old house. First time this summer that I happened to go there, with camera, on a sunny day with people actually bathing! (And no, I did not go in the water myself. I had the camera and the mobile phone to think of!)

For ABC Wednesday

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another Week Gone By

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Countryside view for Jan’s
Straight Out of the Camera Sunday

The weather has been generally unreliable this week. The forecasts for Thursday however weren’t too bad, and as my own body wasn’t complaining too much either when I got out of bed in the morning, it seemed the best choice this week for an “outing”.

So I took an early bus out of town and got off not far from our House. But I did not go straight to the House; in fact I set off for a walk in the opposite direction, to the church and cemetery. The problem is that the bus does not pass by the church; which is why I very rarely get there on my own. 

The position of our House, the church and the center of the village could be drawn as each being in their own corner of a triangle; each side measuring (roughly) ~1500 m (~1 English mile). I don’t think I’ve actually ever walked the whole triangle before. At least not in the last decade or so. But I did now.

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I wanted to get to the cemetery because I wanted to make another “round” among the family graves for which my dad had the official responsibility, before we have to decide what to do about them all. (My grandmother had 11 [half-]siblings! Not all of their graves were in dad’s care, but some.)

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The oldest and the newest. In the left hand corner to the left:
The grave of my paternal grandfather’s maternal grandparents!
To the right: I put a bouquet of fresh flowers on my parents’ grave.

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Essential ‘public convenience’ facilities… Had I not known it was there, I wouldn’t have dared venture out on this long walk in the first place!

After making my round I sat down for a while on a park bench and checked emails on my new phone!

Then I decided to take the long route back to the House, i.e. via the village – because I also needed to buy some food.

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The purple flowers out in the field are thistles! I couldn’t help looking about for Eeyore… (You know – Pooh’s friend.) Thistles are his favourite food. Not mine though, so I had to continue!

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It’s been raining quite a lot lately!

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Approaching civilization at last!

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This is how happy you get when you reach the village square after a long walk! (Sculpture called Dancing Girl)

After a tour of the supermarket/grocery store I set out again for the last side of the triangle, back to the House.

My legs were getting tired now so had to sit down and rest a while again here at these old cottages (looked after by the local history society). Passed some other interesting buildings on the way too, but I might get back to those in another blog post.

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Getting really hungry by now… But not really wanting to eat with my fingers, I got up again after a short rest and continued…

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Finally back “home” at the House! Luckily they had a salad bar in the grocery store; perfect for a summer lunch. And at the House I had what else I needed. The last photo here was taken with my mobile phone, by the way! (The previous ones with my camera.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weekend Reflection: Old Factory Building

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From a walk along the river earlier in the week. Or… Well… Actually there is no walkway following the riverside just here. I had to make a little detour across a parking lot to get this view ;)

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Déjà Vu

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Many years ago (mid 90s) I had a dream (of the nightly kind) on the theme of heritage. It was a dream with a symbolic message which I had no great difficulties interpreting at the time - having to do with a situation which was on my mind just then; not at all related to my own family. (More to do with how ideas are passed on; and how people sometimes fight over ‘nothing’.) However, besides the symbolism, the dream also left me with a visual impression, which resulted in the water colour above.
It’s not a painting I’ve ever had up on the wall, it’s tucked away in a binder I rarely look in. So what brought it to mind just now?
The answer is: A déjà vu feeling when I was looking through the photos I uploaded from my camera to the computer last night!
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‘Sleeping Beauty’ view of the House, from the completely overgrown back garden… I.e. the house which is now literally our heritage (mine and my brother’s).
Fortunately, though, we’re not fighting with each other about it.
But there are other kinds of battles to fight…
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My brother made an admirable start during his (so-called) summer holiday, clearing out the cellar. (Yes, he actually single-handedly filled that container!) But there’s more…
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The thing is, dad (as his dad before him) was a hoarder. Hoarding instincts and dementia (creeping up on him in his later years) is not a good combination.
The major problem is that in among the things that can just be thrown away, there are also things that may be considered historically valuable by other people (hoarders) with the same interests that dad had: railway history and local history.
I got started on a small corner of one table in his study yesterday, and that confirmed my suspicions. There’s no system in the ‘top layer’. Unimportant and (possibly) important all mixed up…
To look on the bright side, at least I took over all his banking transactions 2½ years ago, and in the last year all his official mail has been coming to me. So we don’t have to look for unpaid bills or things like that.
What tends to catch my interest (and slow me down!) is when I come across things to do with our own family history… I might return to that in future posts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A for Android (ABC Wednesday)

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ABC Wednesday is starting over again this week with the letter A. How appropriate. That gives me an apt excuse (as if I needed one!) to show you my brand new Android phone.

I’ve been thinking about getting one for a while now but since I’m rarely away from home more than a few hours at a time, it has seemed rather unnecessary. However, when my brother demonstrated his new Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc to me when he was here, I got hooked… It was smaller and lighter than any I had seen before. After getting acquainted with it, it didn’t take me long to make up a whole list of excuses to get one myself – a.s.a.p.!

For one thing, it will be good to have it when I have to go out to the House on my own, as we don’t have any computer/internet there now (except when my brother is there). For another, even at home I’m beginning to see the advantages of being able to quick-check emails and Facebook and “whatnot” without turning on the computer. Moreover, it can be used for listening to music and audio books, and for taking pictures and watching films, and…

How do they fit all that into a thing that weighs only 117 g?!

I remember the first so-called mobile phone I ever saw “in real life”. It was 1986 or 87. A gang of us were going out for dinner in the evening, and one married couple brought this thing which was about the size of a car battery*, in case their babysitter needed to reach them. (*A last century car battery, that is. Maybe those have been getting smaller as well - I have to confess I haven’t looked under the bonnet of a car in a very long time!)

It looked something like this:

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http://4urfone.blogspot.com/2009/10/old-mobile-phones.html

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tourist Attraction

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Friends of mine from 35 years back stopped by for a visit today. After a cup of tea and a chat at my place we also went into town for a short tourist stop at the feet of the giant Pinocchio sculpture before they continued their journey (they were on their way home from a holiday trip). The sculpture by world famous American artist Jim Dine is 9 m high. I’ve shown pictures of him before but with real people at his feet you get a better idea of the size.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thankful Thursday

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It’s Thursday evening, and the rain has been pouring down since early afternoon. Never mind. I’m thankful that it was not raining yesterday. We had good weather for the funeral  - neither wet nor too hot. And everything else went according to plan as well.

I’ve just been emptying the memory card from my camera into the computer. For now I’ll just share two pictures with you. The first one (above) is of the church where the funeral took place. Several ancestors on my father’s side are buried in the cemetery there, and now also both of my parents.

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The second photo is of a bouquet of flowers of the same kind that I chose for the coffin and grave decorations. I ordered an extra bouquet for the memorial gathering after the service. Afterwards I took it home with me. I did the same thing at mum’s funeral. Somehow I find it helpful – can’t quite explain why.

Some people find lots of flowers at a funeral to be a bit of a waste. Myself I’m thankful for the flowers making such a bold contrast to sadness and darkness of mind. (For the same reason I’m also thankful that both of my parents’ funerals came to be held in the summer rather than in the winter.)

I’m also thankful for the people who came to pay their last respects by attending the funeral; and for those of my own friends who I know have been “with me” from a distance by sending kind thoughts by cards, emails and blog comments. Three of the cards I received by regular post actually came from far-away friends I’ve made in the blog world and have never met face to face. Isn’t that amazing? You know who you are – a special thanks to each of you. It was very comforting to receive your ‘tangible’ greetings.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Busy

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Small Tortoiseshell butterfly

Lots of things fluttering through my mind this week – not just butterflies! Probably won’t be able to concentrate much on blogging next week either. The funeral is on Wednesday. A bit of unexpected stress came up yesterday about other things that need attention as well. My brother arrived at the House today (he’ll be here for about a week). Tomorrow we’ll be going to dad’s service center flat where he lived the last year.

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Mock orange shrub/tree (Swedish: schersmin) (left)
+ another shrub I don’t know the name of

Reminder to Self: be thankful that it’s just a small flat/room with few ‘things’ (and no papers) that needs to be emptied a.s.a.p. All the more clutter left to sort out in/at the House… but there we are more free take our time about it.

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Decorative weeds

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Old red currant bush still bearing a few berries on half-dead branches

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All pictures above are from the garden at the House. I should point out that what you see here is only a third or so of the house, and the tidiest corner of the large and overgrown garden. It does make a difference though that we managed to hire someone to mow the front lawn during the last two summers.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Booking Through Thursday–Dog Days(!)

My second Dog Days post this week! - but this time the question (and the title) comes from Deb at Booking Through Thursday (because her dog is turning 10 today):

... what animal-related books have you read?
Which do you love? Do you have a favorite literary dog?
(Snoopy, anyone?)

Oh Snoopy, yes, absolutely! Thanks for the hint, Deb, or I might not have thought of him. I don't always spontaneously think of comic strips as "books" in connection with literary questions… But Snoopy I'd definitely count as "literary" ;) …

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I think the most “grown-up” book I’ve read that was all about animals (written from the perspective of the animals) is probably Watership Down by Richard Adams (1972). That’s about rabbits though – not dogs.

No dogs in the other animal-related books that come first to mind for me either (at least not as main characters):

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (1894)
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908)
Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (1926) (do toy bears count?)
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (1950’s)

(Winnie-the-Pooh and Narnia belong to my all-time favourites, as regular followers of this blog will already know! And so does Snoopy.)

Then there are of course lots of books where animals play an important part even if the story is not told from their point of view. Browsing my bookshelf for more recently read books my eyes fell on The Conjuror’s Bird by Martin Davies (2005). Not about a live bird but an extinct one!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

Macro Monday: Dog Days

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Okay, okay… I may have over-watered this plant just a bit…!

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In Sweden, according to old traditions, a period in July/August is called the “month of rot” (rötmånad). Before the days of fridges and freezers it was extra hard to keep food fresh that time of year. In English you call it the Dog Days, an expression which comes from the Romans, who associated the hot weather with Sirius,  the "Dog Star". (Last summer I wrote a post in my Harry Potter blog called Dog Days and Sirius Black. J.K. Rowling chose her names carefully.)

Anyway, this kind of hot, sultry weather is generally associated with strange and evil phenomena; not only causing food to go bad, but also responsible for all kinds of illness and madness among people and animals.

Here, after Midsummer, we first had a few days of heat wave with glaring sun; followed by the kind of weather that just feels kind of generally ominous. Mostly cloudy, but still rather warm, and humid. One keeps expecting thunder and lightning to break out any minute – but it doesn’t. It’s been like that for days now. It causes butterflies to seek out strange places to die (see my two posts on Saturday), tiny toadstools to shoot up in my potted plants, and me to feel like I’m “waiting for Godot”…

* It’s Macro Monday at Lisa’s Chaos *

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Crochet-a-thon?

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Someone found this park bench a bit hard to sit on
and decided to take matters into their own hands!

Straight Out Of the Camera Sunday

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Butterfly Update

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The butterfly (see previous post) died in the afternoon.
When I came to bring him his ‘afternoon tea’ he no longer showed any reaction even with the antennae.

Since we got kind of close during the last 20 hours of his life, I took him outside and buried him under a tree. May he rest in peace. (Or she. With the Small Tortoiseshell it’s hard to tell the difference.)

I guess for a butterfly it got quite a lot of attention at the end of its life. Breakfast in bed; and got to be a film star and all!

For me, it’s been a strange kind of day. Not that I had a lot of plans, but keeping watch over a dying butterfly was certainly not on the schedule.

And when I got back home after burying the butterfly, what did I find waiting on the balcony? A shield bug.

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He seemed rather unwilling to leave as well – but I think I managed to persuade him at last. Please go bug someone else, I’ve had enough for one day!

Just now it feels like the next guest might be Thunder… Hmm.

Butterfly Bed & Breakfast

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or watch it here: http://youtu.be/3luDNXGiIOE

Last night when I went out on the balcony to take in the cushion from the deck chair for the night, I discovered I had a visitor. A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly had parked itself on the floor. I went in to fetch the camera, and when I came back it was still there. It folded its wings as I got close but didn’t fly off. A while later it spread its wings, and seemed to have decided to stay the night.

It kept its wings spread all evening. It did not seem quite healthy, but it did still twitch a bit and move its antennae now and then. So I let it be. I really have very little idea of butterflies’ sleeping habits, even if (as far as I’ve noticed) none have chosen to stay on my balcony before. If they come to visit in the daytime, they usually don’t stay more than a few seconds on my flowers.

So when I got up this morning, I was curious to see if it was still there. It was – in the exact same position as I last saw it, and not moving. I thought it had probably died. It did not react to me approaching it with the camera again. But I decided to do a bit of internet research before I decided on any drastic burial ritual.

From Wikipedia I learned that

The adult is striking, with its dark body and red and yellow wings, which have a row of blue dots around the rear edge. However the underwings are dull, which helps to conceal stationary or hibernating individuals. When threatened, resting individuals rapidly open their wings, presenting the dramatic display of colours. This can frighten away young or inexperienced birds.

Wiki says nothing, however, about butterflies just lying still on the floor for more than 12 hours with its wings spread.

Then I came upon some stories about people rescuing dying butterflies by feeding them sugar-water. 

So to test if there was still life in the butterfly, I made some honey-water, and poured out a teaspoon-full just in front of it. This did activate the butterfly. Although it was still not moving its wings at all, it was definitely not dead. From the movements of head and antennae I would say it appreciated the breakfast. So I’ve kept on feeding it a few drops now and then (not quite knowing how much just disappears down through the plastic carpet, nor how much a butterfly eats!) But it is still not moving its wings.

Help. Any butterfly experts out there??? Now what do I do?

With any smaller insect I’d just put it out of it’s (supposed) misery and think no more about it. But a colourful butterfly just sitting there and thankfully drinking honey-water when I serve it…?

I hope the video works. It’s the first video I’ve ever managed to upload to YouTube!

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