Friday, 31 May 2019

Friday Fun: Spring Market


Yesterday was all rainy and windy (and a staying-indoors-day for me); but today offered a clear blue sky, sunshine and around +15°C = rather perfect weather for a walk into town to join the chaos of the annual spring market.

A bit extra chaotic because of all the construction work going on. This building is having more floors added on top - as are a few others around town. I'm not all happy about the houses growing taller in the city - but at least they seem to want to give that tree a chance as well!

Linking to
SkyWatch Friday

Monday, 27 May 2019

Greetings from the Past

Looking through some various old postcards again recently (kept in a box with other letters and notes that belonged to my grandmother) made me decide that I ought to get at least the family-related postcards sorted into an album; following the example of the old green one inherited from my grandmother's brother. 

I recalled having seen a big photo album of similar size in the bookshop in town a while back (when I was looking for smaller ones for other projects). So I went back now to check if they still had that big size. They did, so I bought it (the red one).

In some ways the big album is not very convenient, as it gets very heavy when full, and is too big for most of my shelves! But for this particular project it felt right, as it matches the shape and size of the old one - and the cards I primarily wanted to get sorted were from the same time period (going back even to WWI). (The new album has plastic pockets though. Not sure how good that is from archive point of view. But at least it's convenient for now!)

After I had put in the old cards from grandma's box, there was still room in the new album for some more. So I dug into another box, and also added some from my own lifetime - like cards sent to me from my parents, or from me to them. 

All of this also stirred my interest in the really old cards again... So I'll give it a go to revive my old plan of posting about them on my family history blog, Greetings from the Past. A project started in 2012, but abandoned after a couple of years, because I just had too much else going on... (And I think I was without a working scanner for a while as well.) Between 2013 and recently, I only added a few posts based on photos rather than on the postcards. 

But just now, I think I'm again feeling inspired to continue with the scanning and blogging of the postcards... I'm just about to reach the time (winter 1902/03) when Gustaf (the postcard-collector) and his sister Gerda (writer of many of the cards) both emigrated to the US. (He went Pennsylvania, she to Chicago.)

If you're interested, there are permanent links to the Greetings from the Past blog in the sidebar of this one.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Preserve Your Memories

Today is Mother's Day in Sweden. (Here, that's always the last Sunday in May.) This year, it coincides with the exact date when my own mother died - 26th May, 2009. 

I had started my first blog a few months earlier, in January that year. Going back there now, I find that I wrote a short post about it two days later: Life is fragile

The years that followed were rather chaotic, as my dad was not well either, and he died two years later. 

Looking back now from further down the road, I'm still thankful that I had started blogging (and making some online friends) some time before all that happened. Blogging has been helpful through the ups and downs in all sorts of ways: Sometimes to sum up what is happening; and at other times, to forget about it for a while. And in retrospect, I also find it helpful sometimes to be able to go back and check what I did (or didn't) write at a certain point in time.

 Photo of my parents, taken by a friend of theirs in 2007.
Always reminding me of these lyrics by Paul Simon:

Old Friends


Can you imagine us
Years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy

Old friends
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fear

Time it was
And what a time it was
It was . . .
A time of innocence
A time of confidences

Long ago . . . it must be . . .
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They're all that's left you

Saturday, 25 May 2019

The Family & the Horse - Sepia Saturday 471

Had to laugh when I read the Sepia Saturday prompt for this week (see image/link at the bottom of this post): "Lots of people stood outside a building. Hats, coats, kids, goats --- (well maybe not the goats, I inserted that for poetic balance)"

My reason for laughing was that earlier this week, I added two posts with group pictures to my family history blog Greetings from the Past - and one of them includes... well, not a goat, but a horse...


When I first found this photo, I was not able to identify it; but when looking at it again the other day, it hit me that it must be from the farm where my grandmother Sally grew up; taken after the death of her father, who died in 1907. Not in connection with the funeral, because he died in winter, and this is obviously summer. Might even be a year later. Judging by their clothes etc, it does look like some kind of special celebration - but perhaps just having their photo taken at all was occasion enough to dress up and wear flowers... and to include the horse??

There are two major reasons why I did not recognize the context when I first saw the photo. One is that on the (later) photos of the farm that I remembered, the house was white. The other is that in the beginning (when going through the old photos) I got two of my grandmother's older half-brothers mixed up with each other.

I now think that the people in this photo are, from left to right:
My great-grandmother, her daughter from her first marriage, my grandmother (born 1900) and her younger brother, and (with the horse) their older half-brother from their father's first marriage, who took over the farm. (The age difference between him and his step-mother was only 9 years.)

More details at Greetings from the Past: The Family at the Farm  

If you'd like to see my other recently posted "group of people in front of a house" photo (starring another of my grandmother's half-brothers), you'll find it here: Greetings from the Past: Gustaf in Galeton, Pennsylvania (~1910)

Linking to Sepia Saturday 471

Tuesday, 21 May 2019



Glimpses from 'Fashion Days' at the Textile Fashion Center on Saturday. (Which houses our Textile Museum as well as the Textile College and some other textile-related businesses.) I only looked in briefly... I found the atmosphere a bit noisy, with loud music as backdrop to the fashion show going on just then. I think they were showing summer clothes from some of the local fashion stores.

Upstairs, there was an exhibition of flower arrangements. It's that time of year... Graduations coming up soon; and weddings are also popular in May-June here.

There was also an exhibition about sustainability and ways to "re-think" about fashion and recycling etc of textiles. 

There is a lot of talk about re-cycling and up-cycling, clothes-swapping and buying second hand these days... (And this being a textile-centered city, I guess we perhaps get even more of that kind of discussions.) And yet it seems to me, almost any time I enter one of the regular fashion shops in the city, that they are more overcrowded (with clothes and accessories) than ever - offering a million similar choices, and no real chance to get a good overview. 

By the way - how do you react to music in shops? For me, it usually has the opposite effect than I suppose they intend... Unless I know exactly what I'm after and am really determined to get it, background music often makes me turn around right at the door and walk straight back out again... 

Just now I'm thinking that I don't really need a lot of new things for this summer. That may depend a bit on what kind of summer it will turn out to be, though! (So far, I think it has not made up its mind yet...)

However, I made one purchase last week that I'm happy about - at least so far. Not clothes, but a new handbag (shoulder bag). It wasn't second-hand, but half-price, and just what I wanted. Or coming as close as one can expect to get in reality, anyway...
(In my imagination, I'm constantly looking  for the equivalent of Hermione's magic handbag in the last Harry Potter-book... Tiny on the outside, weighing nothing at all, but with room for a library and a tent the size of a fully equipped small house inside...)

I'll donate some less successful purchases from the past to a charity shop instead. (Not sure if that makes the world a better place; but it will save me some space, anyway!)


Saturday, 18 May 2019

Steamers (Sepia Saturday 470)

The Sepia Saturday prompt for this week (see photo at the bottom of this post) reminded me that maybe I should I try to relaunch a family history project that I got started on years ago - on a separate blog, Greetings from the Past. Among all the papers and photos I found in my parents' house after they died (2009/2011) there was an album of postcards collected by my great-uncle Gustaf - an older half-brother of my grandmother's. (He was born in 1878 and died before I was born.) The earliest postcards are from around 1901. In 1901/02 (while my grandmother was still a baby) he and one of his sisters both emigrated to different locations in the United States - but both later moved back to Sweden again. I also have quite a lot of old photos, but unfortunately with very few names or dates attached. So whenever I start looking into something, I usually end up going "astray" - and not always finding my way back!!

Ah well. While thinking about if, when and how to relaunch that other blog, I'll just pick a couple of ship-related cards for this week's Sepia Saturday here...

R.M.S Mauretania
New Quadruple Turbine
The Largest Vessel Afloat
32.500 tons
68.000 horse power
Length 790 ft.
Breadth 88 ft.
Depth 60 ft. 6 in. 

RMS Mauretania was an ocean liner designed by Leonard Peskett and built by Wigham Richardson and Swan Hunter for the British Cunard Line, launched on the afternoon of 20 September 1906. She was the world's largest ship until the completion of RMS Olympic in 1911. /Wikipedia/
The card was written May 19, 1908 and addressed to Mr Gust Ekman, Galeton Pa, USA. The stamp has been removed from the card (like on all the other cards in the album) but there is an extra postmark to confirm that it arrived in Galeton on May 28.

The text on the back is written in pencil, in Swedish.

Aboard the Mauretania, 19 May 1908, at 10 p.m. (Pa time 5 o'clock in the morning) Hello Gust. We are now at Ireland. The Irish are just getting off now. We have had very nice weather every day, so it has been rather nice on the sea. - G. Swanson

The sender also adds an address in Sweden. All put together, I draw the conclusion that G. Swanson was another Swedish emigrant, (probably born Svensson but having changed his name to sound more American), now returning to the old country. And most likely, someone Gustaf got to know in Pennsylvania. 

Gustaf himself returned to Sweden in 1911, if memory serves me right. In the US population census of 1910, he is registered as a "yardman" at a sawmill in Galeton, and together with some fellow workers a boarder to the township’s tax collector, a Mr Near and family. (See what I mean about getting sidetracked as soon as I start looking into something??)  

 Str City of Buffalo, Landing at Dock, Celeron, N.Y.

"American Steamship Company (“ASC”) has been a pioneer in Great Lakes vessel transportation. Founded in Buffalo, New York in 1907" -

This card too is addressed to Gust Ekman in Galeton Pa, and was sent from Jamestown N.Y. July 18, (19)09. It is written in English.

I will send you [illegible word] and thanks you very much for the postal you sent me. I hear you had good times on 4 of July in Buffalo. Did you have any girls wheel whed* you. all [?] Gust. I had lovely times out here in Jamestown to. Alfred and Henning is working here in town now so pretty soon all de boys from Galeton will be here in Jamestown. I supoese Hilding have a picnic now wheel whed* all de girls. Good Bye and soon (?)
John Beckman, Broadhead Ave, Jamestown, N.Y.

* Looking at the handwriting again, it's probably says "whed" rather than "wheel". Makes more sense as a misspelling of "with"... Compare how he also writes "de" instead of "the".

Friday, 17 May 2019


Yesterday, I received an email reminding me that it was my 6th Postcrossingversary. Wow. How time flies when one is having fun!

  • The goal of this project is to allow anyone to send and receive postcards from all over the world! The idea is simple: for each postcard you send, you will receive one back from a random postcrosser somewhere in the world. 
  • Simply because --- there are lots of people who like to receive real mail.
    Receiving postcards from different places in the world (many of which you probably have never heard of!) can turn your mailbox into a box of surprises — and who wouldn't like that?

On top of that, I'm also celebrating my 3rd Duolingoversary this week.

Duolingo is a language learning platform with more than 300 million users and offering around 30 different languages. It is free to use and is designed to feel like a game. The course that they have developed the furthest is Spanish; and second comes French.

Spanish was also my own first choice on Duolingo, and is still my priority there. (At least one lesson per day - often more.) However, I have also made use of Duolingo to freshen up my French and German (learned in school many years ago, long before computers and mobile phones); to improve my understanding of Danish and Norwegian (closely related to Swedish); and also to try and learn a little bit of Dutch, Turkish, Welsh and Russian. (I have also had a peek at one or two others, but decided not to proceed with those - for now, anyway!) 

With Dutch, I have come to understand it pretty well (in writing), but have decided to "stop" at that, as I don't want to mess up my German. And it's the same thing with the other new languages, really: Except for maybe Spanish, my ambitions don't really go beyond learning to understand a bit. I have a general interest in languages though, so I'm fascinated when I can just learn to recognize some words and phrases and basic structures. 

Postcrossing and learning foreign languages are of course two hobbies that go rather well together - even if the most commonly used language in postcrossing is English.

Learning more languages has also made me more interested in watching TV series or films in those languages (even if I'd still be lost without Swedish subtitles). For example I have enjoyed the Spanish series Velvet on Netflix (the setting is a Spanish fashion house in the 1950s/60s), and the Turkish series Paramparça (Broken pieces) on Swedish television. At the moment, I'm following a Jewish series on Netflix - Shtisel. (No, I don't know any Hebrew... But I'm fascinated to discover that I recognize and even understand a bit when they switch to Yiddish now and then!).





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