Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

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Gott Nytt År – Happy New Year
to all my friends around the world!

The sunrise photo is from Monday morning this week. Today we’re having very foggy weather (and thaw). Not a great outlook for those who are planning fireworks tonight. I’m celebrating at home with a handful of friends – a tradition going back many years for us.

♥ See you all next year! ♥

Monday, December 29, 2014

Snowy

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It’s been a week since my last post – I’m not sure why. Somehow I seem to have managed to keep myself busy over Christmas in spite of no special plans.

Compared to last Monday, the snow is now in its proper place, though: outdoors! (rather than filling my freezer) 

The morning of Christmas Eve was still free of ice and snow, which meant I could start Christmas by walking into town to attend a Nativity church service.

A “First” for me this Christmas was a Skype get-together with my brother at present-opening time on Christmas Eve (which is when we traditionally open Christmas presents in Sweden).

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On Christmas Day the weather turned frosty but the ground was still dry. It remained the same on Friday, but on Saturday I woke up to snow and really cold weather (like around -10°C). It’s predicted not to last very much longer though. So yesterday I took the opportunity to defrost my freezer (putting the frozen food out on the balcony in the meantime). All back in order now!

Still cold outside today. I decided to venture into town for a few fresh groceries though – and some photos:

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Views from where I wait for the bus into town.

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Main square with the Christmas tree and the Court House (and to the right a building a block away from there).

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Another view of the main square: The double bow with the mistletoe in the middle is a new winter decoration this year. (The stone chairs are there all year round. The red market stalls in the background were put up for the Christmas market, they’ll be taken down soon.)

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The church is the one I went to on Christmas Eve (built in the 1600s).

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This is one of few surviving old wooden buildings in the town centre. I snapped this while waiting for the bus back home. It’s often hard to get a good view of it without vehicles in front, as it faces the “bus square” where most of the bus lines meet.

At the grocery shop I visited there was something a bit unusual going on. Alas I have no pictures of that, as I had my hands full… But they had actually had to reserve a member of the staff for the very special task of blocking a stubborn pigeon from walking into the store. The pigeon (or possibly more than one of them, I’m not sure) was quite determined to enjoy the warmth of the heated entrance rather than the cold sidewalk outside. So when I arrived, there was a member of the staff trying to shoo it out… But of course with automatic doors opening every time some human passes in our out, it was soon back. So when I was done with my shopping and came back out – the “duel” between man and pigeon was still going on: The young man trying to block the pigeon with his feet – without hurting it, just putting his heels together and pointing his feet outwards – much like a classic clown posture!

Juggling Clipart Image: Coloring Page of a Juggling Clown

http://www.computerclipart.com

(The last thing I saw before I headed off towards my bus home, was the pigeon trying to even sneak past the young man in through the next door between the entrance and the actual shop… It seemed to be enjoying the game!)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Frosty

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Outdoors it’s raining. Meanwhile, indoors – as in inside my new built-in freezer – it’s getting very frosty…

This started after they mounted the wooden cupboard “front” on the freezer door last Monday. I didn’t realize immediately, but towards the end of the week I became aware that unnaturally thick layers of frost had been building up very quickly in the top compartment over the last few days.  Actually it was more like it had been “snowing” in there!

… And it keeps on snowing (in there) …

So over the weekend I’ve had to start every morning by emptying the top compartment in the freezer to scrape/brush/shovel off new snow and ice. (I reorganized, and now keep only bread up there as that’s the easiest to remove.) More often than not I end up having to remove the box below as well though (because when I do my brushing “upstairs” some of it falls through to below).

Today (Monday morning) I called my housing company’s office to report it. The lady whose job it is to listen to complaints all day said she’d pass it on to the area administrator.

Since today is the Day before the Day before Christmas Eve, I have had my doubts about getting any help until next week. (Actually I won’t be too surprised if I’ll have to live with the situation until Next Year. Desperate and upset, maybe. But not surprised.) – Apologies to Santa & helpers. Two guys turned up at 5 p.m. the same day and adjusted the freezer door + even put a handle on it. Remains to be seen if that actually fixed the frosty problem; but at least they made an effort!

Good thing, I guess, that I was planning on  a “quiet” Christmas this year – not involving a lot of cooking. (Not too crazy on traditional Christmas food myself.)

As extra precaution, I decided not to include any new frozen items on my shopping list for tomorrow (leaving some room in the freezer for all the ice…)

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By the way – I think I might have forgotten to mention here, that as of last month my Supermarket introduced something that’s been on my wish-list for years: online ordering with home delivery service.

(Extra thanks to Santa or the Christmas Fairy or Whoever, for making this happen before Christmas…)

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I’ve given the system a couple of test runs. It seems to work well (if I just remember to tick vs. untick all boxes correctly – like whether I accept replacement for a certain item or not). And it literally means a huge weight off my shoulders. So I’ll continue to make use of it – probably not every week, but when I feel it would be helpful. Anyway, since the day before Christmas Eve is always extra crazy in the shops, I decided already before the weekend to make sure to book another delivery for tomorrow afternoon... Once booked, one can keep making changes on the list until 11 pm the night before the delivery day.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Is Two Enough to Make It a Custom?

Back in October, I got a new fridge and freezer installed. Both have been purring along contendedly enough – if there’s been any roaring, that has been coming from me, still having to do with the doors: The freezer still lacking a handle; and the fridge being hard to open (in spite of what might be assumed to be the largest handle in the fridge world).

As for the fridge, I soon came to the conclusion that I had to use some sort of tool to relieve the pressure first, every time before opening the door, and the best tool for the purpose that I could find in my drawers was a wooden butter knife. By now I’ve got used to that and find it the most natural thing in the world. Doesn’t everyone have a butterknife hanging on the fridge?!

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Today, at long last, a couple of guys came along to put a wooden “front” on the freezer door. This makes the freezer look bigger on the outside than on the inside (it is in fact smaller than the previous one) – and serves as protection from dust etc.

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My only objection when the guys declared the job “done” was the the same as last time:

Me: – Er … But there’s no handle??
Guy: – No, they haven’t arrived yet, and we don’t know when that will be. You’ll get it later...
Me: – And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?
(The new door fitting so tight now that there’s really not much room to grip around the edge.)
Strong Guy (showing me he can do it): – Or you could just use a dough scraper or something…
Me (calm and together, as if this was a perfectly normal conversation): – Okay. I’m already using a butter knife with the fridge…
Strong Guy: Oh? (testing the fridge door, and of course it opens ever so smoothly for Him…)

Then he starts searching his pockets, muttering “Didn’t I have a….” - the name of which I can’t remember even in Swedish, but I understood it to be some small item of plastic that could smoothly be added to the fridge to serve just about the same pressure-relieving purpose as my butter knife. But in spite of turning his pockets inside-out, he didn’t find one. So he just shrugged his shoulders (with no promises to come back with one), and I was left to my own devices, once again…

Fortunately I’m not short of butter knives, so I found another nice handcarved one, and also a piece of decorative ribbon to hang it from...

I’m just telling you this, in case you should happen to come by for a surprise visit, or (perhaps more likely) these mysterious objects should happen to appear in the background of other photos on this blog. It is not an old Swedish custom (yet!) to have a butter knife hanging next to the fridge or freezer. If, however, the tradition should spread, in years to come… now you know where it all began, and why!

(PS. I’ll try to remember to ask for that Thingy for the fridge again when some time in the Future they come to attach a handle on the freezer…)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

After the Storm

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Actually I doubt the storm Alexander ever reached storm force here in the inland area where I live. If it did, I slept through it. It did snow last night, and there was a bit of icy slush left on the ground this morning; but that thawed away later, and in the afternoon the sun actually broke through the clouds for a while (before yawning and going back to bed). Long enough for me to get out for a walk into town to post the rest of my Christmas cards.

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SkyWatch Friday

Weekend Reflections
Oops, it seems I was too late to post my link on Weekend Reflections. Well, never mind…

Friday, December 12, 2014

Winter Days / Lucia

Winter Days [Friday My Town Shoot Out]
How does your town prepare for the coming winter season?
What do your homes look like when the nights are long and days are short?

On 13th December here in Scandiavia we celebrate Lucia (St. Lucy’s Day). In the past (before calendar reforms) this feast coincided with the Winter Solstice, so is a festival of light; and I guess one reason that although the origin is Italian, the day is still celebrated here in Scandinavia because it fits in well with our other Advent/Christmas festivities to brighten up the darkness that otherwise reigns here during the month of December.

Lucia is celebrated both in private and public contexts. In most towns in Sweden, arranged by charity organisations and local newspapers, an official Lucia with a number of maids (often six) is elected at the beginning of December. They then spend 2-3 weeks visiting various public places (like hospitals and nursing homes) singing traditional Lucia songs and Christmas carols.

Borås Lucia 2014 was officially crowned last Saturday. As usual the ceremony took place in the Main Square in front of the Court House – starting at 4 pm, just as the shops close (on Saturdays).

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There are extra market stalls in the square all December.

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A new decoration this year is a double bow of lights with a mistletoe hanging down in the middle – for anyone feeling in romantic mood…

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Lucia and her six maids stand on the stairs of the Court House and sing. Alas in the dark it is hard to zoom in and get clear photos…

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Lucia

Classic Lucia image by Swedish artist Jenny Nyström
(1854-1946)

Friday My Town Shoot Out

Monday, December 8, 2014

Busy Days

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This is the kind of stuff that’s been keeping me busy over the weekend, if anyone is wondering. I discovered on Saturday that my overseas Christmas cards should have been posted already on Friday… They’re still not posted, as today I’ve been busy with: 1/ getting my phones restarted with their new SIM-cards, and 2/ laundry.

So my cards & letters still haven’t got any further than to my own nondigital “out-box” in the hall…

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(Photos emailed to myself from my new phone.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Big Brother

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My “old” phone (to the left), smart though it may still look, has been making more and more complaints lately about its memory being full, and therefore refusing to update apps. Apps on the other hand are sprightly multiplying little things (getting their energy from only-Google-knows-where) which keep on calling for my attention: “Hey, there’s a brand new version of me available!” they take turns reminding me, on a more or less daily basis. “Please update NOW or you’ll soon find yourself ex-communicated…”

Finally I succumbed to the pressure and had to accept that after little more than three years, I have to let my “old” Xperia Arc retire from active service and replace it with Big Brother Xperia Z3 (to the right)…

The Z3 is also on the market in a compact version, more the size of my old one... Decisions, decisions! I’m still not sure whether I made the “right” choice. Time might tell – or possibly leave me undecided for another three years; who knows! The smaller size was/is definitely easier to fit into a pocket or handbag. On the other hand though, I do tend to use the device more as a mini-computer than as a phone... And then a bigger screen does have its undeniable advantages. (So the big one was what I finally bought.)

Until next week I’m actually not able to use it as phone. I decided I wanted to keep my old number, but to do that, I still had to order a new SIM card; as for mysterious reasons, the bigger phone requires a smaller card than the small phone...

As an afterthought it occurred to me that I might still want a new cash card number for the old phone though. That way, I will still have the option to use that one as “safety phone” sometimes when the big one feels unnecessarily clumsy to carry with me. (When I’m only out for a short walk, for example, I very rarely use the phone - I just like to know that I can do so…)

Anyway, I have now received both the new small card with the old number for the new big phone, and a new big card with a new number for the old small phone… But as I found it safer (of course) to set the activation date later rather than sooner, the Big Switch won’t be taking place until next Monday.

In the meantime, I’m getting acquainted with and sorting the wifi settings and apps etc; which so far seem to be to my satisfaction. I’m even almost feeling optimistic that perhaps somewhere down the line it might save time rather than  just consume it. (That’s probably naïve of me, but where would we be without Hope?)

The Z3 is also said to have a really good camera, and  to be waterproof; so when I’ve got the phone part working I’m also looking forward to taking it out for some experimental photo walks!

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