Monday, July 29, 2013

More Postcards

I may have mentioned it before, but since a number of years back we no longer have any separate post offices in Sweden. My nearest equivalent to one now is the customer service counter at the supermarket closest to where I live. Besides postal services they handle various other things as well.

As I use old (inherited) stamps for my postcrossing, I need to get separate “prioritaire” stickers. (New stamps for foreign postage nowadays usually come with them included in the stamp booklets.)

Today when I was at the supermarket I remembered I needed to stock up on those. As I recalled having had some trouble last time to get it across to the girl behind the counter what I meant by “quite a few” (she assuming half a dozen or so whilst I had in mind a figure around 30-40), this time I bluntly asked for 50. It was probably a different girl this time, but she too was apparently stunned by my request. So I hastened to modify it to “or whatever you can spare”… Having taken a deep breath, she disappeared for a while – and then came back smiling with relief, and handed me a whole roll (probably a hundred). “I don’t know how many there are in there,” she said. “But you can have it, it turned out we had two!”

So I guess I’m set for a while. And I am also beginning to suspect that I may be the only postcrosser in this city (or at least in this district of it)!

My latest harvest of Postcrossing cards coming in:

Recently Received4

1. The Snow Maiden by Victor Vanetsov (Belarus)
2. ABC/Bojar (Russia)
3. Artist: Matti Kota (Finland)

Recently Received5

4. Kreva Castle ruins (Belarus) + stamp
5. Historical street view from Geleen (Netherlands)
6. (Portugal)

Recently Received6

7. Alpine hut against the background of the Watzmann in Berchtesgaden, Germany (with the stamp of Altstadt Regensburg below)
8. South Battery, Charleston, South Carolina
(mix of architecural styles from the mid 1800s)
(with the stamps above)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Old Books & Things

Last weekend (as previously mentioned) my brother and I spent some time at The House going through books. Among them were quite a few (four big boxes full!) on local history, which we took to a second-hand bookshop on Monday. It’s the only shop of its kind in town, and with local history as special interest. As far as I know the owner (an old age pensioner himself) has a good reputation. We left the books with him and he phoned me back two days later with his evaluation and I went and collected the money on Thursday. We did not make a fortune but I assume he gave us a fair deal based on his experience. And perhaps more importantly, being sold through the antiquarian bookshop, these books are more likely to end up being bought (and perhaps even read Winking smile!) by people who know how to appreciate them and might even have been looking specifically for them.

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Unfortunately, some books of other kind, in spite of venerable old age, are not considered to be of any monetary value. After thinking about it for a long time now, I ended up taking home one of those, not because of the content of book itself (I’m pretty sure I will never find neither the time nor the energy – nor, to be honest, the proper inspiration! – to read more than snippets from it) but because my great-grandfather used it as “Family Bible” and made notes in it of the birthdays of all of his (11) children. (It’s not a Bible but a collection of sermons by Martin Luther.)

2013-07-23 Samuels Postilla, M Luther's Book of Sermons1

See more photos and read more about this book in my Greetings from the Past post for this week’s Sepia Saturday.

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Coincidentally, last weekend Ginny had a post on how to use books as furniture… Having scratched my head about where on earth to keep this giant old book (my bookshelves are really full!), I decided to put it “on display”, but discreetly, in a corner next to my grandmother’s old treasure chest (in which I also keep various family history-related stuff), and underneath an old basked that also belonged to her. That basket I took home 20 years ago (or more). Parts of it were miscoloured so I painted the handle and the trimmings and the bottom inside. But the flowers on the sides are the original decorations and probably there when the basket was bought – whenever that was. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Heat Wave

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It’s too hot just now to do any serious blogging.

Yesterday we went from rather pleasantly warm/hot to clammy, headachy hot. The indoors temperature rose to above 26° (79°F) which I’ve come to recognize as my “limit”. Above that I get irritable and grumpy!

(That does not mean I never get irritable below 26°C. Above 26° it’s more predictable, though!)

Living in a town flat, evenings also tend to get very noisy when everyone keeps their balcony doors and windows open because of the heat.

One of the major things to irritate me is people who seem to think they “own the world” (like playing their music as loud as if they had no neighbours for miles around). And one of the things that mystify me is why people seem to want ther music four times as loud in summer compared to winter, anyway.

I shut my balcony door and windows when going to bed (if not before), but when I wake up later in the night (as I invariably do) I open up to let some cool night air in. This night I got a few hours exhausted sleep after midnight, then was awake 3:30-7:30, then fell asleep again and slept until 10. Well, I guess I should be thankful (and I am!) that at least I’m free to do that… It makes an odd start to the day though.

The day did not get better when I turned on the computer and found trouble with my Yahoo email. My emails are there but I can’t open them. It must be their server as the same thing happens on the phone app.

Nothing much I can do except wait and trust that they’re working on it, I suppose!

In the meantime, I’ll have to go into town for a while after lunch, and I suppose I might as well stick to that plan; as it will be hot at home anyway.

But I’m not going stay in town until evening…

The photo is from two Thursdays ago. On Thursdays in July the shops in the town centre are open later than usual, and then there are free concerts in the square. A tradition since many years, and very popular. Often the square and the streets nearby are packed with people during the concerts. As I’m not fond of crowds and very loud music, I’m not in the habit of attending, though. This photo was taken in the late afternoon and I bet the girls sitting by the fence below the stage were already “queuing” for a good place.

One thing for which I’m truly thankful (especially on summer Thursday nights) is that I do not live in one of the buildings right next to the town square! In fact, I live just far away enough from the town centre not to be bothered by these events. Just now I keep my fingers crossed that the noisy neighbours will be going, though! (i.e. not stay home and play their own music)

 Winking smile

Monday, July 22, 2013

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

2013-07-16 happy feet

Sometimes in a crowd if you don’t want to wave the camera in people’s faces it can be amusing to discreetly aim it at their feet instead… ;) These are from the theatrical graveyard tour last Tuesday. One pair of shoes belonged in the performance (have a guess), the rest are from the audience.

Linking to Mosaic Monday at Mary’s Little Red House

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hickory Dickory Dock

I’m having another Bisy Backson weekend.
My brother is back(son) and we’re spending this weekend sorting out books (at The House) to sell separately to an antiquarian bookshop in town which
specializes in books on local history. Our parents and grandparents had A LOT of that kind…

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On and off all the decisions we have to make about things (and books) feels a bit like a counting-out game. When I tried to think of an English one it was Hickory Dickory Dock that came to mind.

File:Hickety Dickety Dock 2 - WW Denslow - Project Gutenberg etext 18546.jpg

Image from Wikipedia

Hickory, dickory, dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down,
Hickory, dickory, dock

We have a nonsense-one in Sweden that runs pretty much in the same rhythm (the words have no meaning so are not really Swedish)

Ole, dole, doff
Kinke, lane, koff
Koffe, lane,
binke, bane
Ole, dole, doff!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Where Have They All Gone?

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I’ve blogged about it before (On Tuesdays, We Resurrect the Dead, July 2012) but even though it’s become a tradition, one never knows exactly what is going to happen, when on one or two magic nights in July, in one of our graveyards, some chosen people from the Past get the chance to rise again and tell the story of their life and death.

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As our cicerone this Tuesday evening pointed out, last year’s act was a tough one to follow for the small theatre group of four who have been doing these graveyard tours for 11 years in a row now. (We had real celebrities visiting then – the two deceased members of the Beatles. Follow the link above if that tickles your curiosity.)

However, the actors managed once again to make it a worthwhile evening for all the people who had met up.

The theme this time was a rather serious one: War. 

Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one.

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Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one.

First we got to meet a man who went abroad to serve  in various wars way back in the 19th century. He never came very close to actual battle though and lived to be a hundred years old.

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A lady in the “audience” kept asking him awkward questions – and making note of his answers… 

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Once a journalist, always a journalist – Ada Damm, back in 1917 the author of a gossipy little book about this town and its inhabitants,  refuses to rest silently in her grave on these occasions.

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Next we got to hear the dramatic story of the death of an air pilot. (The cause of the crash was technical trouble with a brand new plane.)

Sweden remained officially neutral in both World Wars.
We were still surrounded by it and affected by it, though. In WWII the country recieved many Jewish refugees and also children sent over here from Finland. The Women’s Voluntary Army Corps helped organize both accommodation for refugees and things like knitting and sending warm mittens and socks etc for soldiers.

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Food was rationed here as in other countries in WWII, especially things like coffee and tea. The last scene of the “show” took place in a café, with the official announcement of peace being made on the radio (the authentic recording).

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“Where have all the flowers gone” was not one of the songs sung this evening, but it came to mind for me while putting this post together…

Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls picked them every one

Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one

Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?

http://youtu.be/Ek_Vso6Lu1g

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Happy Birthday to Postcrossing

Postcrossing is celebrating its 8th birthday this week.
I’ve only been taking part two months, but in that time I’ve received 28 cards.  :) Here are the latest:

Postcrossing 130705

1. Seals from the Netherlands.
2. Multiview from Brussels, Belgium.
3. Window + door from Germany.
4. Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany.
5. Lapp from Finnish Lappland.
6. Street view from Kamyanets-Podilsky, Ukraine.

Postcrossing 130716

1. New South Wales State Library, Australia
2. Flat Iron skyscraper, New York City (built in 1902)
3. Valencia, Spain
4. Cartoon card from Finland (in Swedish):
”What project would you be starting on today, if you knew beforehand that it would turn out a success?”
5. Greetings from Culemborg, Netherlands
6. Balinese Carving Doors from Bali, Indonesia

Monday, July 15, 2013

Medeival Church at S. Åsarp near Limmared

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On our way back from visiting the glass museum at Limmared we took a little detour into the countryside to have a look at the church at Södra Åsarp.

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The main part of the church is said to be from the 12th century. The wooden porch was added in the first half of the 19th century, and the sacristy in 1928.

Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) the church was not open, so we were not able to go inside.

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We did go round the back for some more views, though.

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The cypresses in the churchyard are quite impressive.

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Wikipedia does not say how old the present bell tower is, only that the bell inside is from medeival times.

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Linking this post to Ruby Tuesday Too

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Swedish Inn

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After our visit to The House of Glass we had lunch at the local inn, Limmareds Värdshus.

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The inn was founded in 1962, after an old hotel in the village had been destroyed by fire, and a new restaurant was needed. The low building (2nd picture) was moved from another town and added as wing to the big house (1st picture), which was originally the residence of the managing director of the glassworks (but in 1962 owned by the municipality).

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In the ceiling there are signs with proverbs.

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“You should eat to live, not live to eat.”
“Eat little and say little, and you will have no regrets.”

(I have to say I’m not sure I ever actually heard the latter saying before.)

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Wooden garden sculptures at the entrance.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

BTT: Pets

Booking Through Thursday question from Deb

… how do you feel about books about dogs or pets? Fluffy stories of fluffy family members? Solid books on training them or taking care of them? Touching reminiscences of trouble and the way a person’s dog (or pet) has helped get them through? - Any favorite books to recommend?

I have to confess I’m not really a “pet person” myself. For one thing I’m allergic – to both cats and dogs it seems, and probably other fluffy furry pets too (and smelly ones!)  But even before various allergies set in (which was not in my early childhood but in my teens) I was never really crazy about animals. I can’t recall ever craving a pet of my own, nor being seriously envious of those who had them.

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My paternal grandparents had dogs (one at a time). The one which they had when I was little was a big collie, and a often repeated story in the family was that once upon a time someone asked me what I thought of him, and my reply was: “He’s nice but he’s in the way.” Everyone always laughed at that, but it is still my honest opinion… The thing is, he was in the habit of lying across thresholds and I could not get past him! (See photo for proportions!) 

Their next dog was smaller, but he was also in the way in that he had the bad habit of jumping up on you (uninvited).

My brother’s dog is small, cute and well-behaved; the trouble is that with the years my allergies have got worse.

But I digress; the question was about books! However, as I was never pet-crazy in real life, I guess it’s only logical that I was never overly so when it comes to books either. Talking/magical animals in children’s books and fairy tales etc is one thing (if it talks, I regard it as a character rather than a pet). But generally speaking, in an ordinary novel I’m more interested in the human characters than in their pets. What I mean is, I don’t usually choose to read (or not to read) a book because there are dogs or cats or horses in it. If there are pets in the book, that’s okay as long as they don’t get in the way of the story!

Before You Leave… (The House of Glass IV)

Before you leave The House of Glass, you should remember to also visit the toilet – even if you don’t feel urgent need to!

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The walls are decorated with old newspapers; which was customary in outhouses in the “good old days”. Everything in here was spotlessly clean and shining though. And you needn’t worry about running out of toilet paper:

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I forgot to take photos of the doors – they were in the style of old outhouse doors too (but no peepholes!).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More from The House of Glass (III)

From the contemporary art exhibition:

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Kjell Engman:
”This is the Borderland
the Blue Lagoon, the liquid
and the solid.
There a bird hangs,
the bird symbolizes freedom.
The flow of water is constant,
the water has frozen into glitter.

[translation by me]

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Heli Heino:

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Hand-blown glasses displayed in a window

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The chairs are antique furniture upholstered with new fabrics in patterns designed by the artist.

Book Review: The Prince of Mist

I picked up this novel (in English) at my local library recently. I only knew Carlos Ruiz Zafón as author of the novels Shadow of the Wind (2001) and The Angel’s Game (2008). I’m not even 100% sure if I actually read/finished the latter. Anyway I did not know that Zafón started his career already back in 1992 as a writer of young adult fiction. 'The Prince of Mist' turned out to be not a new novel but the first he ever published. I think it is best categorized as a sort of ghost story, even if the blurb prefers to call it “a mesmerising tale of romance and adventure”. (Well - it is that too.)

In 1943, Max Carver's father - a watchmaker and inventor - decides to move his family to a small town on the coast, to an abandoned house that holds many secrets and stories of its own. Behind the house Max discovers an overgrown garden surrounded by a metal fence topped with a six-pointed star. In the centre is a large statue of a clown set in another six-pointed star.

As the family settles in they grow increasingly uneasy: Max’s sister Alicia has disturbing dreams while his other sister, Irina, hears voices whispering to her from an old wardrobe. With his new friend Roland, Max also discovers the wreck of a boat that sank many years ago in a terrible storm. Everyone on board perished except for one man - an engineer who built the lighthouse at the end of the beach.

As they learn more about the wreck, the chilling story of a legendary figure called the Prince of Mist begins to emerge...

Certain elements in the book remind me of the Harry Potter story but in other respects it’s more like classic adult gothic novels like Wuthering Heights. It has a very limited set of characters, it lacks the humour of Harry Potter, and it leaves more things open. I was caught up in the story while reading; but it left too many “loose ends” for my taste. It’s the kind of book I find  hard to rate just after reading it. Sometimes only time can tell whether a book will stay in one’s memory or not!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lazy Summer Days

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I still have some more photos from our Friday outing unblogged; but to bring you up to date, since then we’ve had three consecutive lazy summer days at our House. Most of the time just sitting in the shade…
We = me, my brother, and his dog Harry:

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Pfft! (spitting moss)… Did someone mention my name?

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I can be alert if I want to! What’s that smell??

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On a walk we found a bottle of lighter fluid lying in the middle of the road leading to/from the lake. (Someone probably dropped it off a bike.) It inspired Per to also find the barbeque grill…

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As for me, in between my sittings in the garden, I also did a little more exploring inside. In a wardrobe upstairs, I unexpectedly found this hat:

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From the initials inside it I conclude that it used to belong to my grandfather. I can’t recall seeing any photos of him wearing it, though.

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