Friday, November 29, 2013
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
The Town is getting ready for the 1st Advent weekend. In the fountain in the square, the water has been replaced with a winter decoration with a cascade of lights. Red wooden stalls are being put up for the Christmas market. And some of the trees in the Park are glowing in the dark as well:
I got my own electric candlesticks up from the storage room in the basement today… I’ll be putting them up (in my windows) tomorrow afternoon or on Friday.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Every now and then I cook chickpeas (garbanzo beans) to use in salads. On Friday I tried for the first time to roast some for snacks. They came out quite good, could perhaps have been a bit crunchier (although for my teeth probably crunchy enough!) – but as I said, it was my first attempt. There are lots of various recipes to be found on the internet so if you want to try it, I suggest googling to find one that looks good to you.
The recipe I tried was in Swedish. Put 3 dl (~1 1/4 cup) of boiled chickpeas (dry them the best you can first) in a bowl with a mix of 1 tablespoon oil (I used olive oil with lemon), ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon paprika powder and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Stir. Spread the peas evenly (single layer) on baking paper on an oven tray. Roast them at 200°C (400°F) for about 30 minutes. (Check on them a couple of times and shake/stir them a bit.)
If you do them from “scratch” as I did, they’re absolutely the opposite of fast foood, as it took me about 24 hours to make them… including putting the peas in water over night (8-12 hours) and cooking them for ~45 minutes the next morning, and then letting them cool off and dry… before roasting them in the evening!
At first when I took them out of the oven it seemed to me I was not getting very much for all my efforts (as the chickbeans shrink again when roasted!) But remember they are beans, and nutritious – one does not need lots of them to feel satisfied. They’re more like nuts than like popcorn that way!
Saturday, November 23, 2013
The first Christmas card arrived yesterday (from a friend in England who is always early with hers). One thing led to another… I decided I might just as well put up the red ribbon to hang it on. (I started a new ‘tradition’ last year – if it can be called a tradition after only one year! – to display Christmas cards in the doorway between my living room and study, putting them up as they arrive).
Having done that, I decided I might as well also turn on the fairy lights on the balcony that I put up earlier in the week… (So what if some people might think it’s a week too soon?)
Today I changed the curtains in the kitchen – another of those things I like to get done before 1st Advent. For those who don’t know: It’s very common in Sweden to change curtains in the kitchen for Advent or Christmas. (Some people change them in other rooms too, but if you only do it in one, it’s usually the kitchen.) As mine are not “too” Christmassy, just chequered in red and white, I usually put them up mid/end November and keep them up until the end of February.
I think it’s to do with the darkness and cold and the lack of colours in nature here in winter, that we long to surround ourselves with candles and warm colours indoors instead. Anyway I feel that’s how it works for me.
Now I’ll try to restrain myself until the end of next week to start putting up the electric candles and/or stars in every window. :)
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Today we had frost lasting throughout the day – first time this season, I think. The lawns and the roofs on the buildings I see from home remained frosty all day.
Between turns to the laundry room, I spent a bit of time (…brrr!…) putting up my ‘Christmas’ fairy lights outdoors on the balcony. A little early perhaps; but I like to get them up before 1st Advent (1½ week away), and I prefer to get the job done without stress – on a dry day, and before we (perhaps) get snow.
I’ll wait a few more days to switch them on…
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I received this postcard yesterday (a postcrossing card sent from Belarus). It didn’t really strike me as great art at first. But then I did not really see ‘the whole picture’ - even though it was all there. Not until I googled the name of the artist (Oleg Shuplyak) for more pictures, and got a clue what to look for.
Now I’m curious… Did you see “it” at first glance?
And did a second glance make any difference?
If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, perhaps this website will do the trick for you (as it did for me):
Monday, November 18, 2013
Yesterday (Sunday) we had lovely weather for November – clear blue sky and around +9°C.
My camera fell in love with the reflections in the windows of the old church in the town centre.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Just One Evil Act
by Elizabeth George (2013)
In my review of the previous novel in Elizabeth George’s Lynley/Havers series (Believing the Lie), about a year ago, I expressed a certain frustration both with the separate mystery in that book, and with the background story evolving extremely slowly, with the last five or six novels in the series all taking place in a fictional time span of less than one year (but published over a time period of about 7-8 years).
With this in mind, and Just One Evil Act again picking up exactly where Believing the Lie left off (still within that year), my expectations weren’t very high. However, I’m glad to say: I found this one to be a real page-turner, and the author back in top form.
I still have certain questions in my mind about the time aspects (vs modern technology, for one thing) but, ignoring that… I think I have to give this one full marks. The story is full of twists and turns. From beginning to end of this novel, as reader you must be prepared to find yourself thrown between conviction and doubt more times than you’ll be able to count.
The relationship developments in the background does not make it easy to write reviews or introductions of the later books without revealing too much to those who might not yet have read the earlier ones (and want to). However: This story focuses more on Barbara Havers than on Thomas Lynley. It involves a kidnapping which turns out more complicated than it first seemed; and as Barbara knows the family, she’s the one to get herself emotionally entangled, at the same time as she is prepared to do just about anything to help. The action takes place partly in London and (for a change) partly in Tuscany in Italy. Besides the London Metropolitan police detectives we already know from previous novels, we are introduced to Italian police and authorities, as well as private detectives and journalists in both countries. Some of them we get to know quite well, which makes me suspect we might come across them again some day (?)
Both private and working relationships are severely tested. Truth and lies are intertwined until it’s hard for anyone, anywhere, to tell what’s really supposed to be what. General communication problems are further enhanced by language difficulties. (But at the same time, some communication succeeds across that barrier.) To begin with I found myself annoyed with what seemed an overuse of Italian without translation in this book. But as the story proceeded, I had to admit this may have served a defendable purpose, by forcing me as reader to share the frustration of some of the characters facing the same problem.
What amazed me most in all of this was that at the same time as the story was complicated, it wasn’t really hard to follow. And for that, kudos to the author! :)
Kudos (from the Ancient Greek: κῦδος) is acclaim or praise for exceptional achievement.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
In case anyone is wondering…
It’s wet. It’s windy. The outdoors temperature is +8°C (46°F). There are almost no leaves left on the trees. (Even those few in the photo above may have fallen to the ground since yesterday.)
I’m shutting the rain out and myself in; deeply engrossed in a book on my Kindle. I’ll tell you which one when I’ve finished it, but I’ve still got an intriguing 31% left to read!
Friday, November 8, 2013
by Tracy Chevalier (2009)
Remarkable Creatures is a novel based on real people and events.
Mary Anning (1799-1847) lived in the costal town Lyme Regis in West Dorset in England in the early 1800’s.
As a young child she was struck by lightning and survived. When she was 11 years old, her father died and left the family in heavy debt. Mary and her brother used to search the beaches for small fossils which they sold as souvenirs to tourists.
Around the same time, a middle-class lady from London by name of Elizabeth Philpot (1779-1857) came to live in Lyme Regis together with two of her sisters (all three of them unmarried), after the death of their father.
Elizabeth became very interested in collecting fossils too. In spite of the differences in age and social status, a friendship grew between Mary and Elizabeth, based on their interest in fossils.
When they first meet in the novel, Mary is still a child, Elizabeth a grown woman. Elizabeth teaches Mary to read; Mary teaches Elizabeth about the practical side of finding fossils and the work of cleaning them etc. While Mary depends on finding and selling fossils for a living, Elizabeth can collect them for enjoyment.
Elizabeth Philpot came to specialize in fish fossils, and displayed these in cases in her home; and visitors to Lyme with an interest in fossils came to see them.
One day Mary and her brother found the fossilized skull of an unknown animal in the cliffs. Their first thought was that it must be a crocodile – except that it had a strange big eye that seemed too big…
Little did Mary know at the time that this would turn out to be an even more important find – the first fossil of an extinct creature now known as an ichthyosaur; contributing to turning old scientific and religious concepts of history and creation upside down.
(The idea of extinct animals from a very distant past was shocking to most people in those days, because it challenged a generally accepted belief that God did not make mistakes, and would not have created any animal only to have it die out.)
The novel is written from a double perspective: some parts of the story are told by Mary, others by Elizabeth. Both of them, in their own way, have to fight against the prejudices and gender rules of their time – while influential men tend to take all the credit for their remarkable finds.
I found this book a both enjoyable and interesting read and think it is likely to leave some lasting impressions (as have some of the previous novels by the same author that I have read in the past). I might add that I listened to it as audio book in Swedish and also found it to be the kind of story that is easy to listen to.
I did not really know anything about the characters or events beforehand, except what I read in a short introduction. I waited until I had finished the book to look up some more facts on the author’s own website:
PS. Also found this interview with the author on YouTube:
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The last weekend in October we set our clocks back to winter time (or “normal” ditto). While I do appreciate getting the lost morning hour back, the flipside of the coin is that instead the afternoons suddenly seem very short. Just now the sun goes to bed around 4:15 pm – and it will get worse before it gets better!
Having a choice, I usually try to do my errands in town while there is still daylight – and avoiding the afternoon rush hours. Yesterday, however, I happened to be out “late” (as in half an hour after sunset), which offered an opportunity for some “night” photography:
Only three weeks to go before there will be Christmas lights in some of the big old trees in the park as well!
The main reason I was out and about in town in the dusk/dark yesterday was another discount shopping night for club members at my favourite clothes shop…
Saturday, November 2, 2013
In Sweden Halloween/All Saints' Day is primarily a weekend when we remember the loved ones no longer with us. I visited some of the family graves last weekend with my aunt and uncle who were visiting. I didn’t take any photos then. It’s been a grey and rainy week, but yesterday the sun came out just before it was time for it to go to bed, and I went out for a short walk then to the cemetery very close to where I live, where we also have one old family grave. Took the camera along this time.
▲This is from the ‘remembrance garden’ within the cemetery.