Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Lost & Found

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Normally I only wear my wrist-watch when I go out; and as soon as I get home, I kind of automatically take it off and put it on the chest of drawers in the hall; where it stays until next time I go out. At home I have some kind of clock in every room, so don’t need the watch. Of course nowadays I usually also have my mobile phone with me when I go out, and can use that to check the time. But as I usually keep the phone deeply buried in my handbag, I find it easier to wear the wrist-watch as well – especially if I need to make sure I don’t miss a bus, etc.

Anyway. Today, when I was going out (to the supermarket), the wrist-watch wasn’t where it should be. Okay, of course it happens sometimes that I forget to take it off right away when I get in, so it could be in any other room. I took a turn around the flat, but couldn’t see it on any of the most likely surfaces. Mysterious. It didn’t really matter just then, though, as I was going to walk, and didn’t really have to think about time until back home again. (So much else to think about at the supermarket… Like, they have reorganised the whole place lately, so I don’t know where to find things there either!)

Got back home, and after a bit of rest, I decided to have another go at looking for the lost watch. I searched every obvious surface, and even a few drawers, but it was nowhere to be seen. In my mind, I tried to retrace my steps.  On Sunday, my aunt and uncle were visiting, and I know I did wear the watch when we went into town for lunch. (I also felt pretty sure I still had it on when we got back home.) On Monday, I was only out for a short walk, and remember that I noticed when I got out that I had forgotten (!) to put it on; but decided that it didn’t matter, as I wasn’t going far. Tuesday, I had no reason to wear it, because I did not go out. I did make several trips down to the basement, but then I bring my mobile (and there is also a clock on the wall in the laundry room).

So how, when and where did I manage to mislay my watch?!

I was looking in a very unlikely drawer when the answer hit me – and made me go and have a second look in a different drawer. There I found the watch nestled up together with my basement keys; which I keep on a black neckband.* Getting back up from the basement yesterday, I put the keys on the chest in the hall. Later on, I  grabbed the keys and put them back in their drawer – and, obviously, the watch happened to go with them… (Black and steel, it matched the keys and band perfectly!) Phew, mystery solved! No immediate need to worry that I’d suddenly gone totally scatter-brained! (LOL)

* (In the “unlikely” drawer, there was a similar neckband…)



Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Button Up

2018-04-17 button trick

The change from winter to spring/summer involves shifting some clothes between my basement storage and wardrobe(s) in the flat. I started taking down some of my wintriest coats and boots last week, and continued with bringing up some summer clothes today (when I had laundry day, involving repeated trips up and down between my flat and the basement anyway).

This one-button jacket seemed to have shrunk somewhat over winter (hm) but I decided to give it another chance by applying this “button trick”. All you need is a spare button of the same kind + a piece of string or something (I used a thin black leather strap, more or less invisible against the pattern). Put the string through the button, adjust the loop to the size you need, and tie a knot at the other end. Then just put the extra button through the button hole in the jacket, and the loop around the original button – and there you are. It keeps the jacket more comfortably together, and the “cheating” is not too obvious unless you take a very close look…

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Signs of Spring

The snow is now all gone now around here; and the streets and sidewalks have been swept clean of all the winter grit.  Actually we’ve even had some April days with almost summer temperatures (~18°C). A bit of a shock to the system for both plants and humans (allergies setting in!) – and birds. The rumour must have spread fast down the river to the coast, to the sea gulls… “Hey! Good news! The snow is almost gone now… High time to get started with nesting and laying some eggs!!!”

To me, the arrival of the gulls is the audible of spring around here. One day, out of nowhere, the air is suddenly full of their cries again. And the crows and magpies are in for some serious competition for any scraps of food that barbecuing spring-celebrating humans happen to leave behind outdoors…

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So far (because all of March was so cold) not a whole lot of spring flowers to be seen yet; except for crocuses here and there.

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But today I also caught sight of the first daffodils (growing from the ground, I mean, and not planted in a pot). The blue flowers are scilla, I think.

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Photos taken with my phone camera. The one in the middle from last week, the other two today.


Through My Lens

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Progress or Regress (Duolingo)

One day recently, I woke up to a Duolingo Update causing chaos in my personal progress statistics.

Duo-crowns

“Crowns are a new feature that we believe lets us teach better. Each skill you do has a “Crown Level” associated with it. When you level up a skill, you earn a Crown, and the types of exercises you see will get harder. You can choose to go deeper into skills and level them up or continue on to new skills to learn new content. This is a total redesign of the skill tree…”

I’m not quite sure yet whether to regard this as a Good Thing or a Complication. At first it did seem like going backwards rather than forwards! But as the actual learning is more important to me than counting points, I guess I’ll adjust ; )

Today I noted that while in the phone app I now only see the new crowns, on the website I can still see my old levels and scores. So I thought I’d put in a comparison here for future reference for myself, even if perhaps not of much interest to anyone else.

The “fluency” percentage has been skipped altogether, though - and probably rightly so. It was rather misleading, as it was based on Duolingo practice rather than on one’s actual skill. In my case this became obvíous in for example being rated as more fluent in Spanish than in German. (Spanish I only started learning via Duolingo two years ago; whereas I studied German at university level back in the 1980s, and in Duolingo have only been freshening up my vocabulary a bit.)


According to the old system, my skills are ranked:

Spanish – level 23, 22651 XP
Dutch – level 19, 13747 XP
Turkish – level 17, 10643 XP
Welsh – level 15, 8890 XP
German – level 15, 7522 XP
Danish – level 14, 6953 XP
French – level 14, 6731 XP
Norwegian – level 13, 5800 XP
Russian – level 11, 3892 XP


Duo Spanish 180412

The new “crown level” system gives a different order…

German: 237 crowns
Dutch: 206 crowns
Spanish: 166 crowns
Norwegian: 124 crowns
Turkish: 113 crowns
Danish: 100 crowns
Welsh: 92 crowns
Russian: 60 crowns
French: 59 crowns


Duo

Apparently, Duo does not think much of my French skills, whichever system is used to measure them! I suppose he may be right about that: I learned French for five years in school, way back in my teens; but I have to admit I haven’t been doing much to keep it up over the 45 years or so in between. However, in reality it is probably better than both my Spanish and my Dutch; and certainly better than my Turkish, Welsh and Russian…

 



Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Nice Pot of Tea

180326-180329 from John (1)

GB’s post today reminded me of this envelope I too recently received from John. (Thanks!)

For comparison, here’s a photo of my favourite real-life small teapot...

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… and one of the Tea Shelf in my cupboard…

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I usually buy my tea loose leaf in various blends with fanciful names, in a special Tea & Coffee shop in town.

As for coffee, I never drink it. Only tea. I never owned a coffee maker/percolator.

I do keep a jar of instant coffee for visitors, though! Winking smile


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Postcards for the Weekend

“Anything You Wish”

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From Ginny in the US (2018)


180317-180404 from Maria 1802

From Maria, sent from Korea (2018)


Sonnenuhr

Postcrossing card from Germany (2018)
Sun dial and murals on the old town hall in Lindau on lake Bodensee

Postcards for the Weekend

Postcards for the Weekend 80: Anything You Wish

Skywatch Friday

… or rather Skywatch Saturday, as the photo was taken this morning…

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I forget what this type of cloud is called, but I’m not sure I’ve seen it combined with sunrise before.

SkyWatch Friday

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Read in March 2018

Sherlock Holmes audiobook cover art

(Bought as Audible book in 2017)

I’m in the process of listening to Stephen Fry reading Sherlock Holmes; with his own introduction to each book. I bought this audio collection last year. I’m not listening to them all in one go, but a bit now and then. This side of New Year I have listened to the first two collections of short stories, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes; and also the longer story The Hound of the Baskervilles. (Often at bedtime, so have to admit I tend to lose the thread now and then - but never mind…)

I think I probably read all or most of the Sherlock Holmes books in print back in my youth. My parents (dad) had at least some of them at home. Some stories I vaguely remember; with others I can’t really say for certain whether I read them before or not. Stephen Fry’s narration is excellent, though, and his own personal introductions to each book are very enjoyable too.


The Right Time audiobook cover art

The Right Time by Danielle Steel ©2017.
Audio book narrated by Victor Bevine; 9 hrs 9 min.
(Bought at Audible “daily deal” price.)

I’m familiar with the author’s name, and vaguely associate it with “chic lit”, but not sure if I ever read anything by her before. If I did, it was probably long ago. Checking Wiki, I find that she has actually written 165 books, including 141 novels – with books translated into 43 languages (Swedish included), and is noted as the bestselling author alive! So perhaps should really be considered strange that I have somehow managed to avoid them (or forget…)

Anyway , this one is about a girl, Alexandra, who gets abandoned by her mother at age seven. Until the age of 14, she lives with her father. They both like reading mystery books, and Alexandra also starts writing such stories herself – and turns out to have some extraordinary talent for it. After her father dies, Alexandra finds a new home in a convent with 26 nuns. The nuns (some in particular) also encourage her to keep on with her writing. While she’s still at college, she finishes a novel, and manages to find first an agent and then a publisher. Because her father used to say that “men only read crime thrillers written by men”, she uses a male pseudonym (Alexander Green); and while her books soon become popular, her true identity remains unknown to everyone but a few close friends. When film and TV producers start taking an interest in her stories too, and want the author involved in the scripts, keeping up her anonymity begins to get complicated, though…

I have rather mixed feelings about this book. It was easy enough to listen to, but at the same time – that was actually more or less what was bothering me... Because in spite of repeated emphasis of Alexandra’s extraordinary talent for writing “complex mysteries” (with no further details given), I would say that this book is remarkably “straightforward” compared to most novels I’ve been reading lately. The heroine’s way to fame (and whatever) may be said to involve certain complications, yes – but mysteries? Not really.

Except… Reading the Wiki article about the author now, that confirms a suspicion I did vaguely feel during the reading – that in some ways, the story might perhaps reflect something of Danielle Steel’s own life and success: Her parents divorced when she was eight, and she was raised primarily by her father, rarely seeing her mother. She started writing stories as a child, and completed her first manuscript at the age of 19. She was raised Catholic, and thought of becoming a nun during her early years. Instead, though, it seems she was married five times and had (as far as I can gather from the article) seven children! Having read that article about her life – it’s a now a mystery to me how on earth she also found time to write all those books!!

Surprised smile



A Drowned Maiden’s Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz (2006/2010)

Read on Kindle, March 2018
(purchased Nov 9, 2013 for $1.99)

First published in 2006, and received a Middle Grade Fiction Cybils Award that same year (Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards).

Now this story (compared to the one reviewed above) is more like what I’d call a  “complex mystery”… Set around the previous turn of century, this novel too is about an orphan girl (Maud) who gets sent to live with a set of “sisters”... In this case – not nuns, but three elderly sisters living together in a big old house. At the orphanage, Maud has gained somewhat of a reputation for being difficult and impertinent; and when the apparently wealthy ladies come looking for a little girl to adopt, Maud herself is surprised at being chosen by them. Thrilled about the prospect of getting away from the orphanage to live in a nice house and having new clothes etc, she puts up with the somewhat strange conditions imposed upon her – including that the sisters want to keep her a “secret” to the rest of the world. (Not that Maud has much say in the matter – being a child and an orphan.)  It soon turns out that the sisters are make a living of setting up séances; claiming to be able to put bereaved rich people in touch with the spirits of their dear departed ones. And it is for this purpose that they have need of a little girl; but also of keeping it a secret that they have one living with them at all… I found this book quite a page-turner, and the story a lot more complex and less predictable than I first thought. (As for facts, it also gives some insight into faked séances... A subject I recognize as explored in classic mysteries from the early 20th century as well, by for example Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers.)





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