Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Easter

CIMG3492-002

Easter is upon us, and today the sun went into hiding – which I suppose is rather appropriate on Good Friday (which in Swedish, by the way, is called “Long” Friday).

4 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.

45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst.

46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

Gospel of Luke, chapter 23

+ + +

My brother is coming for a couple of days and I’ll be busy “off line” at least for tomorrow (Saturday).

Both Good Friday and Easter Monday are official public holidays in Sweden (marked red in the calendar). This year Easter Monday coincides with 1st April. Remains to be seen how that will work out for me, as 1st April is also set as the date for my shift to the new broadband cable, and a new internet provider. I do hope it will not all just turn out to be a Big Joke!

In any case, there will no doubt be a bit of disruption during the actual deconnecting and reconnecting myself and my various appliances. I also bought a new router so that’s another wild card in the game.

Whether I’ll try it on Monday or wait until Tuesday might depend on whether I find myself still connected to the old system on Monday, or not.

Wish me luck!

Happy Easter, Everyone! Smile

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Booking Through Thursday: Rating

CIMG3580
(Easter gets 5 chickens!)

Deb at Booking Through Thursday asks:
Movies have a rating system to help guide the consumer weed out adult/violent/inappropriate knds of films. Video games do, too. Do you think BOOKS should have a ratings system?

Not wholly familiar with the American film rating system, I had to look it up… Follow the link if you feel you need to as well! In Sweden it’s either children allowed, age 7, 11 or 15+ for movies shown in public movie theatres; and usually recommended the same way for DVDs. Censorship of films for adults (over 15 years) was abolished in 2011.

I think age recommendations for children’s books can be helpful; and I appreciate a blurb that gives an idea about what kind of book it is. (Online I also appreciate the possibility to check out the first chapter before buying.) I don’t think I’ve ever thought about a rating system for books beyond that, so I suppose I never missed one.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sitting Comfortably

CIMG3586-001

I think I promised someone a picture of my new ‘office’ chair when it arrived… Here it is now!

Not sure I got round to blogging about it at the time, but about two months ago I was told I had to return a chair I’d had on loan for twelve (!)  years – because of a change in regulations. (What diagnoses entitle you to what technical aids etc.) I might have been offered to buy the old chair, but considering how long I’d had it and that it would soon be in need of repairs, I decided to buy a new one. Especially since I had been thinking for a while of getting one with a higher back and neckrest anyway. So I just asked (and was granted) to keep the old chair for an extra month to have time to get a new one.

About three weeks ago I went to an office furniture showroom on the outskirts of town (had to take a taxi because the place is not easily accessible without a car) and tried out a good ‘professional’ chair and ordered it in the fabric of my choice. I was told I might have to wait 4-5 weeks, so I hadn’t expected to get it before Easter. It was a nice surprise when I got the phone call today to inform me it had arrived and that they could deliver it to me today.

The chair is flexible in almost every possible way and in spite of demonstrations it might take me a while to figure out my own optimum comfort settings… What I’m already appreciating though is the possibility to lean back and rest my neck when not actively writing or using the mouse. I might even fall asleep in this chair Winking smile

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Book Review: The Camera Fiend

Some time ago, Librarian posted a review of a book My Lord Duke by E.W. Hornung (1866-1921) – an author perhaps better known for his stories about a ‘gentleman thief’ by name of Raffles. At least that was the only ones in the bibliography that rang a little bell with me. I was also interested to learn that Hornung was brother-in-law to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I went to browse titles by this author free for Kindle, and came across The Camera Fiend (from 1911). 

There’s just no getting away from those early 20th century cameras and photographers lately!!


This photo was used as prompt for Sepia Saturday this week.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/5890411469/

They also seem to turn up in every other book I read:
The House of Arden. The Secret Keeper. The Year After.

The intriguing thing about The Camera Fiend (besides the title) was that there was no introduction to it on Amazon (just a paragraph about the author) and not a single review. The only way to find out was to read.

So I did (this weekend). A little hesitant through the first chapter or two, not really having any clue at all what kind of book it was supposed to be. My first guess was to place it in the genre of humour, but soon the story started taking unexpected twists and turns, and that rather fast. Actually a lot of the charm lies in the surprise elements, and not knowing where it may be going next… So I don’t want to give away too much. But the further I read the more the plot thickened and I found it harder and harder to put the book down. (Today I just kept reading, except for a cold windy walk to the supermarket, and lunch.)

The main character is an asthmatic young man (the word teenager was not yet invented) by name of Tony “Pocket” Upton, on leave from boarding school for a couple of days to go into London to see a specialist doctor about his asthma medication. His intention to stay the night with friends does not turn out quite as planned… and trouble escalates in ways he’d never been able to imagine. Let it be enough to say that the story also involves a suspicious death or two, a professor interested in photography and spiritualism, a young girl, and a private investigator with assistant.

It was an entertaining read, and I think I’ll try more titles by this author.

Quotes:

You cannot sit up half your nights with asthma and be an average boy.

Pocket was not one of nature’s heroes, but he had an overwhelming desire to behave like one.

That is the worst of your conscientious ass; he takes his decision like a man; he means to stick to it like a sportsman; but he cannot help wondering whether he has decided for the best, and what would have happened if he had decided otherwise, and what the world will say about him as it is.

“I think that Dr [---] has the strangest power of any human being I ever heard of; he can make you do anything he likes, whether you like it yourself or not.”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Frozen Abstracts

2013-03-23 Abstract Ice

In spite being past Spring Equinox and the sun shining from a clear blue sky, it’s still so cold that ice on the river re-freezes.

CIMG3545-001

Weekend Reflections

Friday, March 22, 2013

More Zoo Babies

No less than twelve (5+7) little Cheetah cubs were born this winter at Borås zoo.

Eight African Wild Dog puppies

and one Bongo Antelope calf named Hero.

 

Photos from www.boraszoo.se

Thursday, March 21, 2013

BTT & Book Review: The Year After

The Year After by Martin Davies
*****

This novel is set in Britain, December 1919, just after the first World War. Tom Allen is one of the lucky ones returning from the battlefields seemingly intact; but not knowing what he is going to make of the rest of his life. Meanwhile, he accepts an invitation to spend Christmas with old friends at Hannesford Court, where he used to spend happy days in the past, before the war.

In some ways, it's almost as if nothing has changed. Dinners, games, hunting; plans to resume the tradition of the New Year Ball. Everyone is there who used to be there – except for all the young men that died in the war, and are now mourned and celebrated as heroes. Because what other way is there to make sense of it all?

There were others who died too, even if not on the battlefield. The old German professor… What exactly was it that happened to him, just before the war broke out? And that young girl who supposedly drowned herself? … Everything that happened before the war seems so very long ago now – and seen in relation to all the war-related deaths, does it really even matter?

In returning to Hannesford, Tom finds himself confronted in unexpected ways with the past as well as how to deal with the present and the future.

Some questions are raised early on in this book, but it takes time before they start to come together. I think the slowness is intentional. A fragment here, a glimpse there… It puts the reader in the same kind of reflection and hesitation as the characters in the story. There are two different main narrators: Tom Allen, and Anne Gregory, former companion to Lady Stansbury, and now nurse to the vicar’s wife in the village.

For me this book reminds of Downtown Abbey (the recent TV-series),  Agatha Christie style mysteries, The Great Gatsby (which I recently reread), and Brideshead Revisited (I never read the novel by Evelyn Waugh, but have seen the 1980’s TV-series based on it more than once). (Must put that novel on my list…)

For me, living in a country that was not actively involved in neither WWI nor WWII, this book really drives home the point of how many young men died in the first world war, and what imbalance in society that must have caused afterwards.

Quotes:

And in almost every house, a photograph, prominently displayed. I hadn’t realised that ours had become a nation of shrines.

Sometimes it was hard to remember who was alive and who was dead.

In every such gathering, that year and every year, there would be young women who did not dance because their partners lay dead in the fields of France. They would be sitting out those dances for the rest of their lives.

‘There were telegrams in Germany too, you know. They’ve got the same empty places at their tables. Empty beds. But they can’t stand in church like we can and thank God for victory and try to persuade themselves it was all worthwhile.’

As I mentioned in my Teaser Tuesday post, this book is quite different from the previous two titles by the same author (The Conjuror’s Bird and The Unicorn Road) - which in turn were not like each other either. I’ll be curious to read whatever comes out of Martin Davies’s pen next, though. (Yes, it is said that he actually writes his manuscripts in longhand!)

 

I’m linking this review to Booking Through Thursday, where Deb asks: Happy Spring Equinox, everyone! What book are YOU choosing to celebrate with?”

As for Spring Equinox… There’s really nothing outside my windows to indicate it yet. Okay, okay – there is the light. The days are getting longer. But the sun has not won the battle against the snow yet. This week some days we’ve had icy winds, snowfall and sunshine at the same time. (I suppose that’s better than snowstorm without any sun, but still… It’s weird!)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What Colour Is Today?

2013-03-20 roses

A friend unexpectedly brought me these roses today – and treated me to lunch as well! A nice break in the monotony of the cold that is still holding us in its grip.

Not sure why, but while admiring the subtle colours of the roses (later, when on my own again), a thought floated through my head that yellow roses were very appropriate for a Wednesday…

Er… What?!

Which made me realize that I think of the days of the week in different colours, but I have little idea why.

Taking a quick look around the internet - it seems I’m far from the only one to associate the days of the week with colours; but there also does not seem to be any universal truth as to how it should be. (And I can’t even say for sure if they’ve always been the same for me.)

Here’s how they appear to me:

Monday – blue
Tuesday – a pale pink (I think!)
Wednesday – yellow
Thursday – brown
Friday – dark green
Saturday – light green
Sunday – red

Now I’m curious: What do you see??

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: The Year After

“In many ways Anne and I had been two unrelated planets, separately orbiting the fiery star of the Stansburys.” (p. 25)

“We were all so busy longing for the war to be over that we never stopped to think how things would be when it was.” (p. 41)

Martin Davies, The Year After {Kindle}

Set in Britain after WWI, this book is very different from the previous two that I read by the same author (The Conjuror’s Bird and The Unicorn Road). Those two in turn were not like each other either. I find it very interesting (and promising) when an author is capable of such breadth in his writing.

I’ll be back with a review when I’ve finished it.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Book Review: The Curiosity Cabinet

The Curiosity Cabinet by Catherine Czerkawska
****

The Curiosity Cabinet

I found this e-book free for Kindle, combined with the whispersync Audible audio at bargain price, and I bought that as well. In this case I’m very glad I did, because the reading by Carolyn Bonnyman is excellent. The novel is set in the Hebrides (on a small fictional island named Garve) and it enhanced the total experience to listen to it read in a Scottish accent by someone who could even manage the occasional quotes in Gaelic. (Well, at least to my Swedish ears it sounds right!) (If there’s one thing I find very hard to digest when it comes to audio books, it’s an obviously British book read in a broad American accent...)

The book interweaves two stories:

Alys, from modern-day Edinburgh, revisits the small (fictional) Hebridean island of Garve after twenty five years. She is divorced and misses her son who is on holiday elsewhere with his father and his new wife. On Garve, Alys gets reaquainted with Donal, an old playmate from holidays back in their childhood. In the hotel where Alys is staying, she also gets fascinated by an old embroidered cabinet on display. This turns out to have connection to Donal’s family.

The cabinet also turns up in the parallell story of a woman who was brought to the island three hundred years earlier; and Donal’s forefather Manus.

Compared to some other back-and-forth-in-time novels I’ve been reading lately, this one has less focus on mystery, and more on romance. The two stories, present and past, run parallell rather than being all tangled up. (And yet…) Even if perhaps the book’s strongest point is not the “plot”, I still found it a good read though – and as I said above, listening to it read in the “right” accent added further to enhance the magic embedded in the landscape and history of the islands themselves. I read some chapters on the Kindle and listened to others; but I think it’s a book I’m likely to listen to again just for the joy of a good reading performance.

Quote:

“You’d be surprised how many facts about the history of places and people are embedded in tales. Passed on, passed down. It’s like when they find shells in rock strata, miles from the sea. You think it’s all nonsense, fairtytales, fantasy. Only somewhere inside the fantasy there’ll be this nugget of truth. If only you can dig it out.”

From Amazon.com:

The Curiosity Cabinet was one of three novels shortlisted for the prestigious 2005 Dundee Book Prize. It has been out of print for some time. The new cover design for the Kindle edition is by distinguished Scottish textile artist Alison Bell, who interpreted her own response to the book as follows: ‘The narrative works on many layers of memory and time, some hazy, some forgotten, but the island’s presence is constant, as a refuge and a place to grow and start afresh. I wanted the colours to be soft, subtle, muted, with hints of turquoise, like the sea up there. It is a gentle book which drifts into the mind’s eye as each chapter unfolds.’

Catherine Czerkawska is an award winning author of historical and contemporary novels, short stories and many plays for the stage and for BBC Radio 4. She loves the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Scottish history and music. When not writing, she also finds time to collect and deal in antique and vintage textiles, especially those with a Scottish or Irish provenance. She's fascinated by costume history and often finds that antique textiles: embroideries, lace, silks and satins, find their way into her fiction.

 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Still Hanging On…

CIMG3482

CIMG3479-001

CIMG3480-001

CIMG3483

Incredibly blue sky today… Still very cold for March. After such a hard winter I was surprised to note this tree with so many apples still hanging on to it.

Straight Out of the Camera

Friday, March 15, 2013

Zoo News: Baby Wolverine

CIMG3471-001

Three little wolverines were recently born at Borås Zoo. It is rare for wolverines to breed in captivity. The last time it happened at our zoo was 26 years ago, which makes this a special event.

The wolverine (Gulo gulo) is the largest land-dwelling species of weasels. A fullgrown one weighs 10-25 kilos. The wolverine has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size, with documented ability to kill prey many times larger than itself. Nonetheless it’s categorized a vulnerable species, i.e. likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

(Photo from the zoo, via the newspaper and my camera)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Book Review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

I’ve been feeding you teasers from this book while reading; now I’ve reached The End, and am happy to report that it did not disappoint. The story kept me captivated all the way, and I gladly give it five stars.

*****

1961: Hidden in a tree-house on a summer day, sixteen-year-old Laurel happens to witness something that she’ll never be able to forget; and the explanations given and officially accepted never quite satisfy her.

The thought came suddenly: the house remembered her.

2011: Fifty years later, as her mother is nearing the end of her life, Laurel revisits the family home (a farmhouse in the countryside). She finds herself still haunted by the shadows of the past, and together with her younger brother Gerry she makes an effort to piece history together.

Perhaps all children were held captive, in some part, by their parents’ past.

Shifting between the present, the early 1960s and the early 1940s (the mother’s youth in wartime London), The Secret Keeper is a spellbinding story of mysteries and secrets, love and deceit.

‘And what’s next? What can possibly compete with the eating habits of teenage galaxies?’
‘I’m creating the Latest Map of Everything.’

Parallell with Laurel’s research into her mother’s past, the reader also learns about events back in the 1930s from other perspectives. This serves to keep up the suspense and to remind us that a snapshot never tells the whole story. (Compare my Teaser Tuesday quote earlier this week.)

Booking Through Thursday: Mood Reading

btt buttonDoes your current mood affect your reading? Affect your choices? I know there are plenty of books I enjoy, but only if I’m in a particular kind of mood–or books that can lift me out of a bad mood without fail. Surely I’m not alone? /Deb
http://btt2.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/mood-reading-2/

Yes, my mood definitely affects my reading, and my choice of books. As for books to lift me out of a bad mood… If I don’t have a new one waiting that I think may do the trick, I often find it comforting to reread books that I know I have found helpful in the past – classic children’s books and certain other works of fantasy, wit and humour. When we’re feeling angry, sad, jealous, scared, sorry for ourselves, or whatever, I think it often helps to find someone else has been there too and has the words to express it – including suggestions how to find courage, heart, humour and brain to deal with it.

 

 

CodeOfTheWoosters.jpg

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: The Secret Keeper (3)

“Without his camera he didn’t see the small poetic vignettes of war, he saw the whole God-awful mess.”

From The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
(2012)

Just realized that this is the third Tuesday I’m quoting from the same book. Two weeks ago I had just started it, now I’m getting close to the end (85% on my Kindle, the printed book is about 600 pages).  I’m still finding it a very intriguing read, the story keeps taking unexpected turns. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out… Something turns up to slightly change the picture.The quote above was my last highlight before I put the book down after a rather long reading session this afternoon. I think it may be significant. It’s so easy to think a frozen moment (like a photograph, or a couple of sentences we happen to overhear) tells the whole story… But does it really?

As amateur photographer, I also see the truth in this quote… So often I focus my camera on a detail; and in blogging I do the same in words. Cropped, enlarged, blurred or sharpened… The reality I present on my blog is ever the tweaked version. Even straight-out-of-the-camera shots are never “the whole picture”.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Sepia Saturday: Steamers

Gerdas 02.5-001

My contribution to this week’s Sepia Saturday is this harbour photo from my great-aunt Gerda’s photo album. --- Read more: Greetings from the Past

“You might want to go with boats, water, steamers, piers or writing on photographs : or you might want to paddle your photographic boat in an entirely different direction. This is Sepia Saturday, the choice is yours.”

Thought I’d put in this “teaser” here to alert you that I’ve been posting more of the old postcards in the Greetings blog again lately. I also found Sepia Saturday back in the late autumn and have been using their challenges now and then to muse over some photos from the family albums.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Extremes

This week Ten Thousand Questions (the mysterious interview blog with all questions and no answers) has been asking about Extremes…

  1. What's one of the riskiest or most reckless things you have done?
    I honestly can’t say. I never really considered myself the reckless risk-taking type… Of course there have been things I’ve looked back on afterwards and asked myself “what was I thinking”… But on the whole I’m probably more prone to being overcautious than reckless. (Which is not problem-free either!) 
  2. What is something you do where success is measured by tiny details or depends on very delicate, small movements?
    Just now: playing Words with Friends – especially from the cellphone!
  3. What was your longest period of time traveling away from home?
    I think that must actually be my one-month stay in England at age 16 going on 17! But then I was staying in one place most of the time… As for holidays of the continuously-on-the-move kind, I don’t think I’ve been on any lasting longer than 3 weeks. And most of those were family holidays back in my teens. Most holiday trips in my grown-up life have been shorter… 1-2 weeks.
  4. What was the biggest food item that you ever helped cook and/or eat?
    Again, nothing extreme comes to mind. In the past when I was involved in church camps etc, the arrangement was often that we took took turns helping out groupwise in the kitchen … I was always more of a Mary than a Martha in that context though* - the kitchen was never really my domain. (I do cook for myself, and occasionally a friend or two or three – but arranging large dinner parties was never my thing; and I feel lost and mostly in the way in other people’s kitchens.)
  5. What was the largest event you ever attended, or the biggest crowd that you were a part of?
    I suppose the largest event/crowd I was ever part of must have been when Billy Graham visited Sweden – Stockholm - back in 1978. (35 years ago!) Three friends and I attended one evening in a crowd of (ca) 10,000 people. However, what I actually remember best from the occasion is that we forgot where we had parked the car and had to spend ages looking for it in the huge parking lot afterwards!!!

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. (Wikipedia)

*As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Booking Through Thursday: Spring Forward

btt button
Question  from Deb: Clocks change this weekend here in the US, which means one less hour to read … does anybody else begrudge that hour like I do? Wish the Powers That Be would just pick a time-frame and stick to it instead of inflicting clock-driven jet lag on an innocent public twice a year?

Here in Sweden, daylight saving time or ‘summer time’ does not start until the last weekend in March; which this year mercifully means not until the very last day of the month. I agree with Deb – I never saw the point myself. My body clock never seems to fully adjust and I always welcome ‘normal’ time back in the late autumn.

CIMG9578
A clock in Borås museum.

I’ll add a clock-related question of my own:
When you think of clocks, what books (if any…) come to mind for you?
Here are three that popped up in my head:

The Borrowers by Mary Norton:

Borrowers, in case you don't know, are a little people who live under the floor or behind the walls in big people's houses, preferably close to the kitchen or dining room, because they live on what the human beans leave lying around. When the story begins, there is just one family of Borrowers left in a big old house - 14 year old Arrietty with her parents Pod and Homily; with surname Clock, because the entrance to their home is behind a clock in the hall. The greatest fear of a Borrower is to "be seen" by a human bean. One day, this happens to Arrietty… (from my review 2009)

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton:
It wasn’t actually the layers of time in this story that made me think of it now, but an image of another clock in a hall that popped up in my mind, triggered by thinking about the one in The Borrowers…  Funny, isn’t it, how you can have images in your mind of a house just described in a book even though there were no illustrations. I think in both books there was a man who came once a week to wind the clock!

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom:

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.
(from my review in October 2012)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: The Secret Keeper (2)

I’m still reading Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper

Jimmy sat up suddenly and dug out his faithful Brownie from his haversack. ‘How about a picture?’ he said, winding on the spool of film.

How about that. It was only two weeks ago that another book made me look up Brownie.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Nothing New Under the Sun

CIMG3351
The sun is still having a tough job getting rid of the ice.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...