Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Taphophile Tragics Tuesday

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In my Sunday post I mentioned our Halloween/ All Saints Day traditions of visiting the cemeteries to light candles on family graves. In that post was a link to a post on the same theme from last year. And in that one a link to one from 2009. I put in these in more for my own convenience than anyone else’s, but should you follow them, you’ll find that this was never a favourite holiday of mine, quite the opposite. I definitely did not “enjoy” the autumnal graveyard visits back in my childhood; and I avoided them for most of my adult life.

However, in the past few years, with my own parents also passing out of time, I’ve had to find new ways for myself to deal with the churchyard traditions as well as other “facts of life and death”.

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A comment on my Sunday post brought up a related topic that I’ve actually been thinking about a lot. As I wrote in a reply, personally I never really felt need of a tombstone or grave to go to, to remember those I knew who had died.

However, when my mum died (in 2009), dad was already suffering from dementia, but one thing he was still clear about was that he wanted a traditional earth burial in a new grave for her (and himself) in the churchyard in the village where they lived the last two decades of their life (which was also where dad was born and grew up). And then of course when he died two years later, he was buried there too.

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Not driving, I can't get to that country churchyard on my own, and my brother lives far away; and after we’ve sold the House (hopefully next year) our visits will probably be even more rare. But we pay for all-year-round care (flowers in the spring and summer, a winter decoration in winter); besides our parents’ also for our paternal grandparents’ grave in the same churchyard.

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I don’t know how it works in other countries; but here in Sweden, every grave must have someone registred as responsible for it, which includes either looking after it yourself, and keeping it both safe* and tidy, or pay a fee to the church to do so.

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*As for the “safety” part, there was a tragic accident in a cemetery about a year ago, which made this a big national issue in Sweden. A child was killed by an old tombstone falling down on her. Can you imagine the tragedy?

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Since then every standing tombstone in every cemetery in the whole country has been checked; and those found not to be secure have been laid down.

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Graves that no one is willling to take care of any more shall be returned to the church. If an old grave seems not to be cared for any more and they don’t know who is responsible for it, a sign is put up and if within a certain period of time no one has been in contact, then it’s up to the parish graveyard administration to decide about it. Some very old or especially interesting tombstones are kept as being of historical value, but most returned graves are now “recycled”.

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My parents looked after for several old family graves in that same churchyard where they now rest themselves – and they used to do it all themselves (planting flowers and weeding etc) until shortly before mum died. When they no longer could, it was a bit of an extra headache for my brother and me to suddenly have all these old graves to sort out besides all the more immediately important matters. And after dad died, we had six months to either find someone willing to take over, or else return them to the church.

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Besides my parents’ and paternal grandparents’ graves I signed up to keep that of my grandfather’s grandparents (with whom he grew up) - a small anonymous-looking tombstone already lying flat in the grass (so it can’t fall down on anyone!), and without flowerbed. I still have to pay a small sum even for that now, just for them to trim the grass around it in summer, but never mind. There’s no real logic in it maybe, but I somehow “feel” for that grave because I know the couple buried there had such a hard life… 

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Three graves on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family we decided to return (I also consulted one of dad’s cousins before doing so).

On two of these, the tombstones are still left standing (for how long I don’t know - the flowerbeds have been removed). This past weekend, when I was visiting the graves of my parents and grandparents, I had brought some extra candles, so I put one on each of those old graves too. I guess I’m still feeling a bit divided about it all… The thing is, I know more about some of the people in those old graves now, than I ever did before (because of various papers and photos that we did not find or had time to look at until after we’d already returned the graves).

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Since four years back, I also happen to live in close vicinity to an old cemetery in town. I pass by it, or across it, every time I go into town, which means I often walk there several times a week.

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We also have a small theatre group in town, who on a summer evening or two put up historical performances in the old cemeteries – “bringing back to life” historical characters from the past.

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Walking in cemeteries these past four years, for all kinds of reasons varying between taking a convenient shortcut, attending funerals, visiting old family graves, just walking and contemplating, or taking part of entertaining local history lessons… has involved a lot of mixed feelings and thoughts.

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Obviously, for some people a grave means more than it does to me… (This little “park” is not a public area but belongs to one, rather new grave.)

I’m curious to know more about the traditions in other parts of the world. Do you have old family graves, who takes care of them, and what do they mean to you? 

I’m linking this post to Julie’s Taphophile Tragics.#

The photos in this post are from three different graveyards/cemeteries, and were taken on various occasions between last summer and now.

# “Taphophilia is an interest, morbid or otherwise, in graveyards and cemeteries. Graveyards were attached to churches, whereas cemeteries were specifically set up for the burial of the dead.
A taphophile is one who finds they are attracted to walking around cemeteries, reading the headstones and musing upon the family history contained therein.”

Sunday, October 28, 2012

SOOCS: That Time of Year

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For Straight Out Of the Camera Sunday:
Florist’s display of grave decorations.

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Those who have been following my blogging for a few seasons probably know by now that in Sweden, we focus not so much on the trick-or-treating American kind of Halloween (even if a bit of that has crept into our culture as well), but more on All Saints’ Day, visiting family graves and lighting candles. (The link goes to a blog post from last year.) In spite of our society getting more and more secular, this is a tradition that has kept growing since my childhood.

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This year my mum’s sister and her husband came by yesterday, a week before All Saints, and we went to visit my parents’ grave in a village churchard outside town (plus a few more on dad’s side of the family there), and then three more in a big cemetery in town.

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It was a cold day but fine and not much wind (which is to prefer when one is supposed to light candles!) We were out in the afternoon before darkness fell but the oil candles made for this purpose (which also have a lid on them to protect from the weather) are supposed to burn for around 55 hours.

For my parents’ grave I bought a lantern and a new kind of fake (but very authentic-looking) candle that runs on batteries and that is supposed to have a built-in timer to make it shine for 5 hours and then go out for 19 hours, and then shine for 5 hours etc – until the batteries run out. I bought that on Friday, and turned it on at 5 pm, and I know it worked so far as to go off automatically at 10 pm. As for the rest I can only hope it works as intended because when I “planted” it in the churchyard the time was only around 3 pm.

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▲ This is the fake candle (photo taken when I first lit it at home). It looks unbelievably like a real one except there’s no flame and it doesn’t get hot. I forgot to take a photo of the lantern but it was the same kind as these ▼

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Today the lamp should have gone on at 4 pm, as during the night we turned our clocks back an hour from so called summer or daylight saving time to winter or “normal” time.

I’m not a huge fan of the daylight saving time, so I’m mostly glad to be back a bit more in tune with my body clock.

I think I managed to remember to change all my clocks either before I went to bed yesterday, or this morning. Ironically, the one I have most trouble with is a radio controlled clock on the wall in my study, which is supposed to take care of itself, but doesn’t. I had to take it down from the wall and bring it into the living room, take out the batteries and put them back in, and put it on a chair and leave it there for a while to find its bearings again… (It’s been like that before, so at least this time I knew what to try, and put it on the same chair that it seemed to prefer last time!) Now it’s once more “on track” and back up on the wall!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Weekend Reflections: Crosswalk

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This time of year it’s not enough to look left, right, left…
You should also look down before you cross the street!

Linking to Weekend Reflections

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Leaves Keep Falling

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As I mentioned “the War of the Worlds” the other day, I suppose I’d better put in a post to say I’m still standing  (it’s just the leaves that keep falling)…

I have actually been feeling a bit “off” for a couple of days after the flu-shot. I still prefer that compared to having to fight “the real thing” later on in the winter, though. (I’ve not been feverish or anything, just a little bit extra tired and achy.)

There’s been a shift in the weather today, from milder to colder. For a while around lunchtime I thought I’d be able to go out for a sunny walk later in the afternoon… But before I had time to go out, the sky was again an angry dark grey and had started spitting out something that looked and sounded suspiciously like it might even be half-frozen… It didn’t really come to much - I was able to nip out to the nearest convenience store later, without getting wet. But the wind had turned icy cold…

And the leaves keep falling!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Subtle Shades of Red

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The weather forecasts keep making promises of glimpses of the sun a few days ahead… but it’s much like chasing the rainbow. When we get there, the sun has invariably moved on again, into the future…!

The photo is from last week, but the same veiw looked pretty much the same today (maybe a few more leaves have shifted from green to red on these trees), as I walked into town this afternoon to get my seasonal flu-shot.

A few hours later and in my body it feels like the War of the Worlds has begun (my immune system against the alien invasion) … Some years I’ve hardly felt a thing, other times I do. Well. Whether it’s mostly in my mind or not, I think I’ll be going to bed early tonight…

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Melon Cutter–Just Had To Try…

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Well. I guess it worked as well as any other method I’ve tried… I’ll have to work on the last part, though (making nice little cubes…)!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Old Friends and Ten Thousand Questions

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Months ago on someone’s blogroll I came across a link to Ten Thousand Questions, a blogsite which asks a question a day, without wanting answers or links. (Just a tip, in case you ever find yourself in the mood for introspection, and/or suffering from blogger’s block!)

This week, they had questions on the theme of “Old Friends”, which set me on a walk down Memory Lane. One I found particularly interesting, and I thought I’d share it here, along with my thoughts:

 

Which of your friends wins the prize for introducing you to the largest number of your other friends?

For me there is no easy answer to this, but it set me thinking… How one thing (or friendship) may lead to another, and far from always “in a straight line”…

When I was about five years old, I moved with my parents from the town where I was born, to a nearby village. Across the street from our first house lived a girl one year younger than me. Let’s call her A. We weren’t in the same class at school and we weren’t each other’s closest friends; but friends. In our early teens, she was the one to first ask me to come along with her to a church youth group; which I did, and for me that led, both directly and indirectly, to lots of new friendships and experiences in the years to come.

In roundabout ways, it was also through that context that I first met B - even though she lived in a different town, and back then I actually  knew her sisters better than her.

But when at the age of 20 I moved away from home to study, it was B who became the one to introduce me to my next circle of (church) friends in that town (which was neither her home town nor mine).

B and I lived only one year in the same town before she moved away (incidentally, to my birth town, and so we continued to keep in touch).

One or two years later, within the same circle of friends that B first introduced me to, I got to know C

And it was with C that I first went on a summer course/camp at a Bible school in  the south-east of Sweden, where I met D (and actually also one or two others who later on became close friends as well).

D and her husband happened to live in the town where my parents grew up, and which I knew from many visits to both sets of grandparents. In the next few years I also visited D and her family there a few times.

And at the age of 30, I moved to that town myself – i.e. the same place where I still live. I moved into a flat in the same building where D and family were also living; and some of their friends also became my first friends in this town.

Which friend deserves the most credit for introducing me to the largest number of other friends, I really can’t say. It gets even more complicated if one starts to try to sort out who counts as old friend… Everyone who was once upon a time a close friend, even if we are no longer keeping in touch? Or only the ones I’m still seeing /talking to /writing to /hearing of now and then?

A and I lost touch decades ago. She married early, and I moved away; and in the last twenty years I haven’t been back to my birth town at all (i.e. not since my parents also moved away from there). With B, C and D, I’m still keeping more or less updated, either by direct contact or through mutual friends (or both).

But thinking back like this… It strikes me that if not for A, I might never have known any of the other people in a long chain of friendships stretching through 40+ years (and actually even across the earth).

(PS. As they often put it in newspaper articles: In reality, A, B, C and D have other names… not even beginning with those initials…)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

BTT: The Book and the Cover

Booking Through Thursday is a weekly meme about books and reading habits. Deb’s question this week is:

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but there’s no question that it can make a difference!

What book(s) have your favorite covers? Something that’s perfect for the story, the tone, the colors, the mood…

And did you pick up the book BECAUSE of the cover? Or were you going to read it anyway, and the cover was just serendipitous?

I do agree a book cover can make a difference – especially when one is browsing the shelves of a bookshop or library more or less at random, not in search of a special title. Even on the internet I find the cover picture plays a part in whether a book catches my attention (or not). For the final decision the title and “blurb” probably matter more though.

As for favourite covers, I think the book I own where the cover (and the whole layout and print) matters the most is my German copy of Die unendliche Geschichte (The Never-Ending Story) by Michael Ende:

2012-10-18 Die unendliche Geschicte collage

With this book it matters, because the book is made to look like the magic one that the main character within its pages finds, and starts to read, and gets drawn into… The most unusual thing about it is perhaps not really the cover, but the red and green print. When we read about Bastian the text is red, and when we read with Bastian, it shifts to green. I’m sure you can still enjoy a black-and-white version of it, but the colours do add an extra dimension to the reading experience.

I did not buy it just because of the cover though, as I’d already heard of it, and had read and liked Momo by the same author before (in Swedish translation). But I was happy to find this one while I was also studying German at Uni (which encouraged me to actually read it in German rather than in translation).

It’s funny that this book cover question should turn up on BTT this week of all weeks, as I’d just been contemplating a recently read book and its cover. This was a book I did not pick by the cover, but had pre-ordered even before release, because of the author.

J.K. Rowling’s first adult and non-fantasy book:

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Actually one of my very first thoughts was that had the author been unknown to me, it’s doubtful whether I’d have been drawn to this book by its cover, which seems strangely anonymous.

However, after having finished the book, and contemplating the cover again… It suddenly struck me that oh but that’s the whole point! The apparently unmeaning book cover actually sums up what the book is all about: That you cannot “judge a book by its cover” - or a person by first impressions…

I did not read any reviews beforehand. I glanced at a few after I’d finished it, though, and found, not surprisingly, that opinions varied quite a bit. First of all, anyone who expected a new Harry Potter (I did not) is bound to be disappointed. Second, yes, I can feel a certain sympathy with parents of (young) Potter-fans who have to try and convince their kids that this new book really isn’t a children’s book. Third, I’m trying to imagine a reading from this book in an American TV-show: “beep-beep-beep-beep”…

Here is the blurb:

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled maket square, and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty facade is a town at war.

Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils… Pagford is not what it first seems.

And the empty seat leaft by Barry on the Parish Council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations?

A big novel about a small town, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults. It is the work of a storyteller like no other.

I don’t want to ruin anyone’s reading experience by adding too much about the actual story. It may not be the greatest novel ever written. But one thing that I found kind of refreshing is that Rowling takes her starting point in a natural death, and yet the story goes on with a similar kind of unravelling of secrets as in a typical murder mystery. Remember the classical detective novel, where at the end everyone gathers in the same room, and the detective keeps pointing out one person after another (of those still alive) only to arrive at the conclusion that no… It was not that person who was the killer after all, nor that one, nor that one… but… Well, this is a bit like that – but at the same time, different.

While reading, I was trying to think whose style of writing she comes closest to in this book, and the authors that came most to mind for me – besides herself! – were Ruth Rendell, Elizabeth George and Charles Dickens. (I was often reminded of Dickens when reading the Potter-series as well.)

One or two of the reviews I had a glance at yesterday, after finishing the book, were complaining that they found her description of certain characters too stereo-type, especially the grown-ups. And true, just as in the Potter-books, her strength and sympathy no doubt lies more in her understanding of young people, what formed them as individuals, and how the world appears to them. I suspect the worst stereotypes may well be intentionally exaggerated though – especially on her first introduction of the characters – because she is knowingly playing upon (all) our prejudices and tendencies to judge, put other people in ‘pigeon-holes’, and imagine ourselves safe behind our own facades.

With less than 50 pages left of the ~500, I still could not quite guess the ending.

 

Some quotes:

’They think an artery burst in his brain,’ said Tessa.
’Why did it?’
’He was born with a weakness he didn’t know about,’ said Tessa.

The sky was a cold iron-grey, like the underside of a shield. A sharp breeze lifted the hems of skirts and rattled the leaves on the immature trees; a spiteful, chill wind that sought out your  weakest places, the nape of your neck and your knees, and which denied you the comfort of dreaming, of retreating a little from reality.

For all of Andrew’s life, Simon had been a contented prisoner of his own contempt for other people, making his house a fortress against the world where his will was law, and where his mood constituted the family’s daily weather.

Still the rain fell --- It poured for days and into the nights, and the Square was full of hunchbacks in waterproofs, and umbrellas collided on the narrow pavements.

But who could bear to know which stars were already dead, she thought, blinking up at the night sky; could anybody stand to know that they all were?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Macro Monday

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“We all yearn for what we have lost.
But sometimes, we forget what we have.”
Mitch Albom (The Time Keeper)

It’s Macro Monday again.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Time Keeper (Book Review)

As a new Kindle-fan I suppose I’m an easy target just now. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you’ve been missing a lot of posts on this blog lately!) Besides all the free classics I’ve been downloading, I also keep getting suggestions from Big Sister Amazon (‘Big Brother Amazon’ just doesn’t sound right, does it?)… And not all of these deserve to be mocked; so I guess I’ll just have to keep tabs so that I don’t let my bill run up too high!

Yesterday I downloaded my most costly Kindle-book so far (not that it was really expensive), in spite of never having heard of it before – nor of the author. It turned out a little gem, though:

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom.

(If someone is thinking “how could she not have heard of him?” please remember I’m Swedish, not American!)

The book is a sort of modern fable, connecting the fates of two very different people in our own time with that of the first man ever in human history to start measuring time. It also involves the myths of Father Time, and the Tower of Babel.

Three other books came to mind for me while reading it:  The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Momo (or The Men in Grey) by Michael Ende, and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. If you enjoyed those, my guess is that you will also love Albom’s The Time Keeper. Anyway, I did - so no regrets about buying it.

On the surface, it has the simplicity of a fairy tale, while under the surface it digs deep into the very essence of our questions about life, death and meaning. And, of course – Time.

Quotes:

There are as many expressions with “time” as there a minutes in a day. But once, there was no word for it at all. Because no one was counting.

As mankind grew obsessed with its hours, the sorrow of lost time became a permanent hole in the human heart.

He was doing what man does when left with nothing. He was telling himself his own life story.

A heart weighs more when it splits in two; it crashes in the chest like a broken plane.

Sitting high above the city, Father Time realized that knowing something and understanding it were not the same thing.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Weekend Reflections – Caught in the Web II

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More foggy mornings this week – and very busy spiders! They seem to especially love spinning their nets on the railings on all the bridges crossing the river.

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That’s a reflection of an old textile factory in the background…

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The fog helps with the beadwork.

(Last week’s webs can be viewed here.)

Weekend Reflections

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Booking Through Thursday: Just One Book

This week’s question from Deb at Booking through Thursday:

If your house was burning down and you could save just one book from your collection … what would it be?

(And, for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll allow series to count as “one” long, multi-volume book.)

Ah… Had this been last week, I’d have had trouble choosing, but now the answer is simple: I’d grab my Kindle! (which already holds more than a hundred downloaded books) ;)

Honestly, though, I’d probably be thinking of my laptop before the Kindle, and old photo albums rather than books. Because – presuming we’re talking about a local fire and not a world-wide break-down of the whole modern society – gadgets and printed books can be replaced, but personal notes and photos cannot.

But if it must be a book… My first Bible, because of the personal notes and markings in it.

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Bag Lady

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Handbags and their contents seem to be a popular blog topic this week. At least two of the blogs I’m following have brought it up: From My Mental Library and MacQue Blogspot. Ladies… You entice me… Today in town I suddenly felt that I needed yet another handbag!

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(And a headband, and a pair of gloves.)

The thing is, I’m always looking for the ultimate bag. I tried explaining this to the saleswoman in one of the shops I looked into today – because she was the kind of salesperson who does not let you browse in peace but insists on offering help before you’ve had time to have a look around. So I said – meant mostly as a joke – that I’m looking for a bag that is tiny on the outside, but really big on the inside. (Those of you who read the seventh Harry Potter book… It’s really Hermione’s bag I’m looking for! Weighing practically nothing, but still able to hold everything from your whole library to a fully furnished tent.)

I don’t think the lady in the shop had read Harry Potter, because she started showing me regular mid-size handbags which were nothing like what I had in mind. I also specifically said I wanted a red one, whereupon she showed me a black one, and a grey/purple one. She obviously thought those would go better with the black jacket I was wearing at the moment. When I tried to explain that I also have other colours in my wardrobe, she clung even harder to the opinion that black would be my safest choice.

As I already own three or four black bags, I gave up (i.e. politely said I needed to give the decision a bit of thought) and went to another shop where they don’t keep following you around giving advice, but let you make your own choices.

Now, as for the use and contents of my bag(s)… As I’m nearly always on foot or going by bus, I usually also bring a backpack if I intend to go shopping, or if I’m going to be away from home for more than a few hours. If I have a backback I usually prefer just a small handbag (shoulderbag). But if I don’t bring a backpack, I may need a bigger handbag. So I usually have two or three different handbags “going” at the same time/season, all equipped with some basic stuff like paper tissues, comb, chapstick and a few loose coins (for shopping carts and public toilets and such). I then have a mini toilet bag that I keep up to date with basic medicines that I need or find best to always keep with me; and that and my wallet I move between bags.

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My camera has it’s own little case with shoulder strap; and my phone goes either into the handbag or a pocket depending on what I’m wearing.

Because I do keep changing bags, I don’t really tend to accumulate a lot of completely unnecessary stuff in them, like old receipts and tickets or whatever. If I ever find myself out of small change, though, it might be worth while to search the various pockets of my handbag collection…

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Big Brother, the Sequel

Yesterday, GB at Eagleton Notes had a “Big Brother” post on his blog , to do with targeted marketing on the internet, and causing a bit of interesting discussion in the comment section.

This morning, when I opened my email inbox, I was reminded of his post when I found an email from Amazon – and I had to laugh (at myself)…

Dear Amazon.com Customer,
Do you have a favorite book from childhood? Check out a selection of timeless
classics for kids of all ages plus books for the spooky season picked as our editors' favorites for Halloween.

Innocently, I said in a comment yesterday on GB’s post, that I’d not been receiving (daily) suggestion emails from Amazon… I should have kept in mind that I’ve only been a registred customer for a week and a half yet, and so far they’ve been pretty busy just sending me welcoming instructions etc which my brain did not sort as advertising (as I found the info useful).

Today’s email may just be a standard one because of Halloween coming up – but it could also just as well be based on some of my recent downloads of free classics.

What I am not, is a big fan of American-style Halloween. But I have to admit this must be very hard for Big Brother to deduct, considering that within the past week, I’ve been downloading – among other stuff…

…Several collections of classic fairy tales, the Complete Works of George MacDonald (see yesterday’s post), the Essential Works of Edith Nesbit, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Peter Pan, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Mythical Monsters, The War of the Worlds, Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dracula, and the Canterville Ghost…

On the other hand, if they’d been analyzing, shouldn’t they have come to the conclusion that this particular customer seems to already have just about all the reading material she might need for Halloween…???

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PS. On second thought… Some of those books were downloaded from Project Gutenberg rather than from Amazon… Maybe BB can’t see those on my Kindle… ;)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Once Upon A Time

Since I got my Kindle (five days ago) I’ve been engaged in a real shopping splurge… searching mostly for free e-books, though, so it hasn’t cost me much.

Ever since my University days (or even before) I’ve loved reading English classics in the original language. Some of the books that I’ve been downloading now, I already have as paperbacks since before… But I’ve also been able to add quite a few that I did not own before, and haven’t read. What a luxury to be able to do that without needing more actual shelf-space! (My bookshelves are full, and I don’t have room for more bookshelves…) And for free.

One download in particular the other day made me reminisce… That one did cost me a couple of dollars… but literally no more than that ($1.99): The Complete Works of George MacDonald (50+ works with an active table of contents).

 

George MacDonald (1824 – 1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis among them.

C. S. Lewis regarded George MacDonald as his "master": "Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day at a train-station bookstall, I began to read. A few hours later I knew that I had crossed a great frontier."

When studying English at University, back in the early 1980’s, I wrote an essay on some aspects of Lewis’s Narnia series, and in connection with that I also read several biographies about Lewis, and tried to find out about authors he in turn was inspired by. This was Before the Internet; and research was a whole other business back then, not just typing a few words into a search engine...

The University’s bookstore basically only kept in stock the books currently used in ongoing courses; and ordering something out-of-the-ordinary from abroad was quite a procedure. I did manage to find some mailorder bookshop though, through which I was able to order books from abroad, and pay by invoice (in Swedish currency).

I doubt anyone with English as their first language will ever quite grasp the enormity of the experience of discovering the endless possibilities opening up when gaining access to the vast world of English literature, compared to being confined to a “small” language like Swedish. (Not that we don’t have a lot of interesting literature of our own, and get a lot translated too. But still.) Even back then, English paperback classics were very cheap compared to Swedish books. 

Finding books by and about Lewis was not much of a problem; but MacDonald was another matter. I did manage to get hold of Phantastes and Lilith as English paperbacks, though, and still have them.

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(Nearly 30 years since I read them, and to be honest I think I found them rather difficult.) I also have two or three others by MacDonald in Swedish translation.

(Still in the 1980’s:) Paging through heavy library volumes listing articles in various foreign newspapers and magazines, I also found some articles of possible interest from a monthly bulletin issued by The New York C.S. Lewis Society. I wrote to them – by letter (no emails back then, remember, and so also a lot of waiting involved in correspondence) – and they sent me copies of some articles or issues of the Bulletin that I requested. I also joined as a member with them for a couple of years. Paying for the membership and bulletins involved going to the bank to manually buy American dollar bills, and then sending these by letter to the secretary of the society.  (Placing a money order via the bank would have cost a lot more than the actual fee. Probably still does, if you can’t use a credit card!) The bulletin was of the xerox-copied kind.

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Getting lost in memories here… But I just couldn’t help making comparisons, when The Complete Works of George MacDonald suddenly appeared on my computer screen, instantly available for download from Amazon to my Kinde by one single mouse-click. 50 books for 2 dollars. Just like that.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Walk in the Fog

Some more photos from my walk in the fog yesterday.

Straight out of the Camera for SOOC Sunday:

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Off into the Unknown…

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The most modern building in town is also the most spooky one to appear (or not) in fog…

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The water level in the river has risen to cover the bottom step of the stairs by the waterside. Perfect for ducks!

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A sculpture dressed for the weather.
(Probably the only one in town loved by everyone.)

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Piece of advice: Don’t park your bicycle along the river.

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Looking back at the town … (what town?)

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Mutual reaction from photographer vs. rabbit:
”If I sit/stand still, surely she can’t see me?”

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