Friday 30 December 2016

Time for a New Year (Postcards for the Weekend)

161116 GB-836775

GB-836775 – from Great Britain, November 2016

MacMillan Alice_001 by Sir John Tenniel

From the MacMillan Alice 150 Years collection
(100 Postcards from Wonderland)
Illustration by Sir John Tenniel, coloured by Diz Wallis

…the Rabbit actually took a watch out of
its waistcoat pocket, and looked at it…

I did buy this box of postcards with the intention to use them;
I haven’t yet sent any of them… Maybe next year??

Not much time left of 2016 when I write this. Tomorrow is New Years Eve, and I will be busy most of the day preparing for my traditional party for a handful of friends in the evening.

So I think I shall have to save my Looking Back and Looking Forward thoughts until 2017; and for now I just wish you all


Weekend Linky Party:

Friday 23 December 2016

Postcards for the Weekend – Holidays (2)

2016-12-18--23 Christmas corner

Quite a few more Season’s Greetings cards have kept dropping in since last weekend! Both postcrossing ones and from old friends. Folded cards that can stand for themselves are displayed on my bookshelves; the flat cards I hang on red ribbons on the corner next to the door into my study (attaching them with miniature clothes-pegs bought in a hobby crafts shop). I’ll just pick a few more or less at random to show here.


161221 DE-5817164
DE-5817164 – From Bonn in Germany:
Altes Rathaus – Old Town Hall


161221  from Jarina
From a new friend in The Netherlands:
’The Snow Fairies’ by
Molly Brett (1902-1990)

I don’t think I ever heard of this English illustrator and children’s author before. I shall have to investigate a bit more! But the Wiki article tells me she also illustrated some stories by Enid Blyton.


161223 från Marita V (Jenny_Nyström)
From an old friend in Sweden:
A traditional Swedish card by
Jenny Nyström (1854-1946)
with both ‘julbock’ (‘Yule goat’) and ‘jultomte’ (‘Santa’).

Jenny Nyström is known as the painter and illustrator who actually created the ‘modern’ Swedish image of the jultomte on numerous Christmas cards and magazine covers. What she did was to link the European Santa Claus /St. Nicolas traditions to the ‘tomte’ or gnomes of the older Scandinavian folklore. These were usually described as smaller than humans, having a long white beards, and wearing a conical or knit cap. They were often supposed to live in the barn or stable and could be helpful around the farm if treated well – but very mischievous if not. So hence a tradition (perhaps still in the countryside? I don’t really know) to put out a bowl of porridge for the tomte on Christmas Eve.

Before the tomte got assigned the mission of delivering Christmas gifts here in Scandinavia, this task could instead be done by the Yule Goat. Or else, people would go visiting their neighbours and knock on the door, and throw in the gifts anonymously. The card above I think is a perfect illustration of how Jenny Nyström managed to blend all the traditions together.

Over the years, the Swedish jultomte traditions have become more and more mixed up with the American Santa Claus. But here in Sweden he still comes visiting on Christmas Eve – and usually (at least where there are children!) he comes on foot, knocks on the door, and delivers the presents in person. (I suppose he saves the reindeer for the flights across the Atlantic…)

161222 från Anny

From a truly old old friend in Sweden… I think I dare say so now, as she is now 98. I got to know her through church in the town where I lived back in my twenties. In my eyes back then, she was already in the “old” generation in the church… Doing the math now, I realize that when I first got to know her, she was younger than I am now! (Ouch! Belated apologies…) It’s been a long time since we last met, but we still write Christmas cards, and the occasional postcard at other times as well. Still her own handwriting on the back of the cards!

God Jul!

Weekend Linky Party:

Tuesday 20 December 2016

The Christmas Tree

Image may contain: christmas tree, plant and indoor

My little Christmas tree is up again. It is 30 years old - I know I bought it for the Christmas of 1986. It has been a good and faithful servant and has hardly dropped any of its soft nylon (or whatever) needles over the years. It also still has its original chain of lights (a few bulbs changed but I still have some spare ones); and also its original twelve baubles (six red, three gold, three silver). The rest of the decorations have been added over the years. I decorate the tree every year, and take everything off when I pack it down again. And I have probably blogged about it every Christmas since 2009… (For example last year.)

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice, by the way! Smile

Sunday 18 December 2016

A Very Small Christmas Market


No - the statue with the sack here is not Santa Claus who lost his hat, but The Pedlar - an old symbol of this town and area having been a centre of trade and markets for centuries. Just now, finding himself next to a recently dug hole in the street, he seems rather to symbolize the confusion of the present inhabitants of the town who are wondering what on earth happened to the traditional Christmas market…

Because the little red wooden market stalls that we’ve become used to seeing in the main square in the Christmas season, aren’t there this year. I don’t really get why, because the square is just about the only place in town which is not dug up and/or surrounded by buildings undergoing refurbishment at the moment. In my opinion, the general chaos and upheaval should be all the more reason to try and do something festive with the few places that are still intact.

So when I saw an ad in the local paper announcing that there was to be a handicrafts fair at the smaller old Haymarket square yesterday, I cheered up, and set off out into the fog to find it.


Even as I was approaching the place, I was beginning to wonder if I had misread the date or something, though. Market? What market??

But it was there - under that roof with the lights that you see in the middle. Three or four stalls in total…


One of them turned out to belong to an old friend / work mate from back when we both worked at the hospital (she as an occupational therapy assistant, I as secretary). She is also an artist and now she and her husband have a small business based on her cards and calendars and things – and sell some at markets and fairs like this. I bought a calendar and a small tea tray (not sure yet what to keep or give away, so not showing them here).

In one of the other market stalls someone was selling ‘recycled’ jewelry made from old silver and nickel silver spoons. Even though I don’t normally wear much jewelry myself, I couldn’t resist buying something here too. And as she had a ‘buy two, get one free’ offer, of course I ended up with three pieces rather than just one… Again, I might end up giving away one or two, so not showing them all here. But the one below intrigued me so much that I’ve decided I definitely want to keep it for myself:


The size of the piece is 48 mm (~2 inches), and made from the handle of a teaspoon. It’s made of nickel silver rather than real silver; but I fell in love with it for the incredibly detailed and unusual image. At first glance (in the fog and all…) I took it for a Madonna image, but on closer inspection I found it to be a princess or queen (with crown on her head) sitting on a high-backed chair (throne?) by a window, doing needlework. And on the floor beside her, a small open chest – I suppose her sewing box. It reminds me of fairy tales – not any particular one though, just in general. (If any of my readers can relate it to a special story or artist, or have ever seen anything like it, please share your thoughts!)

So all in all, even though for a Christmas market it was a very small one, I went away with several purchases. (Maybe I should be glad there weren’t more stalls to tempt me!)


On my way back through town (I decided to take the bus home) I passed by a group from the Salvation Army singing Christmas carols and collecting money for charity. One of them another old friend of mine. I know he and the others do an admirable job helping people much less fortunate than myself… So I stopped to put a contribution into their donation pot as well.

It’s like this time of year really sharpens the contrasts of the contradictory messages we are facing all the time these days: On the one hand, we are expected to support the economy by continuing to shop and consume… On the other hand, we are constantly reminded that we need to think of the environment and get better at saving and repairing and recycling. And on the third hand (how many hands is one supposed to have?) there seems to be more people than ever during my lifetime, even in this country, who are  struggling with real poverty and unable to find jobs or even a roof over their head. I’ve also never before seen so many adverts from charity organizations asking us to give each other “nothing” for Christmas, but give all to (their) charity instead – both domestic and international.

No easy answers how to deal with it all! I guess I’ll just have to continue to try and juggle a bit of everything.

- - - - - - - - - -

Quoting/translating a Swedish opera singer (Malena Ernman) in an article in a Swedish newspaper that I read via FB today:

“We need to choose new qualities to celebrate rather than always striving to be the biggest, the strongest and the best. --- ‘Think small’ and accept that we sometimes fail, just like everybody else.”

Vi måste välja nya egenskaper att hylla än att hela tiden försöka vara störst, starkast, mest och bäst. --- 'Think small' och var lite lagom misslyckad som alla andra."
Malena Ernman, Expressen Kultur (18 Dec 2016)

Friday 16 December 2016

Postcards for the Weekend – Holidays

A variety of Season’s Greetings have already dropped in:

161122 MY-347907
From Malaysia (MY-347907)

I’m rather fascinated by the fact that even cards from countries with a tropical climate tend to include snow in the picture!

  Christmas Greetings 1908
From the Netherlands (NL-3650934)

161215 NL-3661318
From the Netherlands (NL-3661318)

161216 DE-5803353
From Germany (DE-5803353)
“Alle Jahre wieder” – “Every year (again)”

When I looked up the phrase I found that the words belong in a German Christmas carol (which I don’t think I ever heard before).

Alle Jahre wieder / kommt das Christuskind
/ auf die Erde nieder, / wo wir Menschen sind
~ ~ ~
Every year again / Comes the Christ Child
Down to earth / Where we humans are.

(Written in 1837 by Johann Wilhelm Hey; see Wikipedia.)


The Scene at the Manger
From England


Weekend Linky Party:

Sunday 11 December 2016

Advent Traditions

Can hardly believe that 3rd Advent Sunday is behind us already!!!

Here is a short summary of what I’ve been up to lately:

♥ Baking gingerbread biscuits…
(First time in years that I’ve made “proper” ones, using cutters.)






♥ Writing lots of Christmas cards
(Collage below put together from some scanned outgoing ones)

JULKORT collage

♥ Christmas shopping at the Mall across town
(where I also ran into Santa and his reindeer)

161208 Knalleland

♥ Helping Santa with wrapping presents (to myself) (Why not?)
(Tip: If you got it in a nice bag from the store when you bought it, you can use the bag as wrapping paper  - even if it’s not paper!)

FB paket

♥ Gradually putting up my Christmas decorations at home.
Also bought a new cushion for the club chair in my living room… The print “sort of” matches my (all-year-round) curtains + cushions on my sofa… (Sometimes it doesn’t take more than a small thing like that to make a difference in a room…)

2016-12-09 cushion collage


♥ Been out looking for the Christmas Spirit in the city center.
Some people claim that it seems to have gone missing from there this year; and I have to admit t
here is some undeniable truth to that rumour…


… So one has to keep looking harder!


There was supposed to be a Lucia parade with dressed-up children on Saturday around noon. Not really a great turnout (considering that we’re a town of around 110.000 inhabitants).


Things improved when Lucia & her maidens showed up, though.



If you’ve been following my blog over a few years, you will know that each year, in most Swedish towns, a St. Lucia + maidens are elected to give concerts for charity around town throughout the weeks before Christmas. Some in public outdoors like this; some in places like churches and schools and hospitals and old people’s homes. They sing Christmas songs and hymns, and special Lucia songs. On St. Lucy’s day on December 13th, many churches and schools etc. also have their own Lucia celebrations (with their own Lucia).

I recorded a video clip of one song; hopefully you’ll be able to both see and hear it by clicking this link:

Linking to: Through My Lens

Saturday 3 December 2016

Postcard for the Weekend – Lighthouses


NL-2651930 (September 2014)
Lighthouses along the coast of the Netherlands


Postcards for the Weekend

Thursday 1 December 2016

Hello, December!


Time to get busy with Christmas cards again!

I managed to restrain myself from buying yet more cards – knowing that I had plenty of them at home already.

So I only bought like a gazillion more rolls of washi tape and stickers; because you can never get enough of those, can you? 



Wednesday 30 November 2016

Bye Bye, November


“Fifty shades of brown” …  (from a walk last week)



The time stamp on this photo says 11:16 a.m. The sun is like me; struggling to get out of bed in the morning this time of year…

Outdoor Wednesday

Sunday 27 November 2016

The Mists of Avalon (Audio Book Review)

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon was first published in 1983, but I never read it before. Now I listened to it as audio book, excellently narrated by Davina Porter. Even though it’s a very long book – lasting nearly 51 hours – I was kept under a spell all the way.

The novel has been called a feminist take on the Arthurian legend; telling the events predominantly from the point of view of Morgaine, Arthur’s half-sister, who is more often (in other versions of the legend) portrayed as an evil sorceress (Morgan le Fay). We also get the perspectives of other female characters, like Morgaine’s mother and aunts, and Arthur’s wife Gwenhwyfar; while all the men sort of remain in the background for a change.

However, the book is not only about the male vs female lookout on life; but also a great deal about the clashes between the old religion (represented by Avalon) and the new (Christianity).

The ruler of the mystic realm of Avalon, also known as the Lady of the Lake, is the High Priestess of the old (Brittonic) religion. For the major part of the story, this position is held by Morgaine’s aunt Viviane – while Igraine, Morgaine’s mother, spends her last years in a Christian convent. Morgaine herself continues to cling to her bond with Avalon; even though with time, that ancient island seems to be drifting further and further into the mists (and getting harder and harder to find one’s way to, even for believers).

King Arthur’s wife Gwenhwyfar on the other hand is a firm believer in the new religion (Christianity); while certain other characters, including Arthur himself and (the) Merlin*, act as sort of go-betweens, looking for compromises. (For better or for worse will be up to each reader to decide for him/herself, I think!)

*Merlin in this book is not a personal name but rather the Merlin; indicating an ancient druid title in Avalon.

All in all I found the novel giving “food for thought” for our own turbulent times as well.

Saturday 26 November 2016

Postcards for the Weekend – Library

Oh-oh. I find myself in trouble with this week’s theme(s) (museum/university/library), as I haven’t got my postcards sorted like that…

The only card that popped immediately to mind was one that I received rather early on in postcrossing. And as I haven’t received all that many from Australia, I also knew where to find it.

New South Wales State Library

AU-290210 (2013)

Mitchell Library – The State Library of New South Wales in Sydney. It is the oldest library in Australia. (Link to Wikipedia.)

Weekend Linky Party:

Sunday 20 November 2016

Weekend Reflections

It has become a tradition in my town to have a little pre-advent ceremony when we officially turn on the Christmas lights, on the weekend before the 1st Advent weekend.

I wasn’t feeling “100%” yesterday so wasn’t sure I’d be going… But the rain stopped and it cleared up a bit in the afternoon, and it wasn’t too cold, and I was feeling better - so I decided to go out for a little walk anyway, and then let my feet decide… And my feet decided to take me into town after all.

2016-11-19 centrum, julbelysning
“Before and after”

Going into town, passing Bodhi in the river

Illuminated street art under a bridge.

I’m rarely out walking in town late at night,
so I’m not sure I’ve seen the art “in this light” before.
This time of year it gets dark early – the ceremony was at 4 pm.

People gathering on a bridge in the Park,
waiting for the Home Guard Music Corps.


Tadaa! Drum roll, and the lights are on.



Marching on towards the Main Square…


… and another “aaaw” as the Christmas Tree lights up.
(And no – the tree is not really leaning all that much…
That’s just my camera trying to get it all into the picture.)

Going back home.

Passing by Bodhi again.


Not sure these lights in some trees
in the middle of a roundabout
are supposed to “be” anything at all;
but to me, from a certain angle,
they looked like two deer (or reindeer?)

Weekend Reflections

Friday My Town Shoot Out

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