Friday 30 August 2019

Read in August

Daniel Deronda (1876) by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
Kindle + Audio book narrated by Juliet Stevenson (2018) (36 h)

Mary Ann Evans (1819-1880), better known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist of the Victorian era. She wrote seven novels, of which I've read at least two before: Middlemarch and The Mill on the Floss. Those two I have in paperback since decades ago; but Middlemarch is the one I know best, as I first read it for my C-course in English at university (back in the 1980s), but also reread it a couple of times since then + watched a TV-series based on it as well (years ago).

Daniel Deronda was her last novel, published in 1876 and set in the contemporary Victorian society of the author's own day. It is a long novel (36 hours as audio book) and I have to confess I found it hard to follow at times. For one thing, the narrative keeps shifting between following two different main characters (Daniel and Gwendolen), whose paths only cross now and then. (So it's easy to "lose the thread", almost forgetting about one while reading about the other.) Something else that I found interesting but at the same time confusing was how the 'Daniel' parts of the novel also came to focus more and more on Jewish Zionism (of that era in which the novel is set, and with which I'm not very familiar since before). 

There is an extensive Wikipedia article if anyone wants to get deeper into the story without actually reading the book. (For me, it was helpful to read it afterwards...)

As it is an old classic, it can be found as free e-book.

Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1862)
Kindle + Audio book narrated by Olivia Poulet (2019) (13:11 h)

Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915) is another novelist of the Victorian era. Lady Audley's Secret (1862) is her most famous book and known as a "sensation novel". For its time, I can see why. Compared to Daniel Deronda (above), I found this novel a lot easier to read - even hard to put down (or turn off). It is well written, and really kept me wondering where all the twists and turns would lead in the end. At times it felt predictable - but (turning another page)... on the other hand, perhaps not?? ...

The set-up is that we have an older man (widow) recently married again to a young wife; a grown-up daughter from the father's first marriage, still living at home (and not fond of her new stepmother); an idle cousin/nephew, Robert (a barrister, but not practicing); an old friend of his from their school days, George, who upon his return from gold-digging in Australia finds his wife and son (who Robert never met) gone missing...  and then, George himself also suddenly disappears again! Robert is drawn out of his idleness, and soon finds himself fully occupied trying to solve a whole mess of intertwined mysteries... 

As it is an old classic, it can be found as free e-book.

Sonata for Miriam: A Novel by Linda Olsson (2009)
Read in Swedish 

Linda Olsson (born 1948) is Swedish-born author living in Auckland, New Zealand. After graduating in law from the University of Stockholm she worked in banking and finance, got married and had three sons. In 1986 they left Sweden, travelled the world and in 1990 ended up in New Zealand where she studied English and German literature at the University of Wellington. In 2005 she completed her first novel Let Me Sing You Gentle Songs (later reprinted as Astrid and Veronika) which was published in 25 countries. In Sweden, it became a winning best seller. (I read it some time back then.) Sonata for Miriam (2009) is her second novel and it has been sitting on my ToRead-shelf for years, until I picked it up just recently. A strange coincidence really, because this was while I was also reading Daniel Deronda, and there turned out to be a Jewish theme involved in this book as well. The novel takes us (along with the main character, a musician) from New Zealand to both Sweden and Poland, to reconnect with people and places and events from his past. It involves grief and loss and impossible choices, but also love, and new beginnings. I read it in Swedish, but it is available in English (also on Kindle).

Wednesday 28 August 2019

Drama Queen

We've had a bit of a heat wave again for a few days; followed today by quite a dramatic thunderstorm. Luckily I did not have to go out in it! There was no power outage either (where I live), but I did disconnect myself from the internet for a while (i.e. turned off the router) - while the lightning and thunder was really close...

Back on Monday, I did go out for a walk (even though it was really too hot for my liking). Then I met this Peacock butterfly, graciously spreading its wings and displaying all its beautiful colours while resting among the yellow flowers of a Dasiphora fruticosa (cinquefoil) bush. (I do hope it found somewhere dry to hide today.)

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Sunday 25 August 2019

Missing Header

I was going to change the header of my blog to this image, but for some reason Blogger refuses to upload it from my computer. I only managed to remove the old one (and can't get that back either). I'm posting this now to see if I can find a way around the problem... 
It worked - once I had posted it here, I was able to copy the 'url' to the header. Strange, though - I've never had this problem before. I've always been able to upload images to the header directly from my computer. Has anyone else been having the same problem recently??


Dw i'n mwynhau gwylio'r pili-pala (Welsh)
= "I enjoy watching the butterfly" 

On Saturday afternoon the sun came out (after having been absent for a few days). I went for a walk to my "Butterfly Park" again and was pleased to find all my familiar little friends there, enjoying the sunshine. (Where do butterflies go when it rains??) Last time I was there taking photos I saw mostly Painted Ladies, but this time the Small Tortoiseshells seemed to be in majority.

I like the Welsh word for butterfly, pili-pala (which I learned from Duolingo). I don't know the origin but to me it kind of sounds like a butterfly moves... (don't know if that makes sense to anyone else!)

Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni)
Swedish: Citronfjäril ('lemon' butterfly)
Peacock butterfly (Inachis io)
Swedish: Påfågelsöga ('peacock's eye')

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae)
Swedish: Nässelfjäril ('nettle' butterfly)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Swedish: Amiralfjäril ('admiral' butterfly)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui, or Cynthia cardui)
Swedish: Tistelfjäril ('thistle' butterfly)

Saturday 24 August 2019

Weekend Reflections - Water Day

Today was Water Day in the city; with various activities going on in/on the river.

Not quite sure how this game was supposed to be played (with  goals at an angle rather than opposite each other) but the resting balls made a nice reflection...

Some of my followers may remember this sculpture in the river (Bodhi), but with the little boat next to it you get a better sense of its size than when just seeing it on its own.

There was also a swimming race going on. Here they come...

The sky was cloudy but it was not raining, and it was actually warmer (in the air) than it looks. Not sure about the water, though!

Weekend Reflections #517

Weekend Reflections

Saturday 17 August 2019

Weekend Reflections

A variety of "home made things" in  a shop window in Lund.
The shop was closed, so could not explore the inside!

Weekend Reflections

"A Day in the Life of..."

It's been a rather ordinary week, except that on Wednesday, I woke up and decided that, for once, I'd make an attempt to answer the FAQ (frequently asked question) "what do you do all day". (Actually I think it's been a while since anyone specifically requested to know; but I do sometimes still ask myself...)

So, for one day, I decided to stop to reflect and take notes every hour or so. The result goes something like this:

7 a.m. - Waking up to a sunny day and feeling connected to the world.

7.15 - Making sure I really am connected (by WiFi). My morning checkup (sometimes before breakfast, sometimes after) normally includes Email, Facebook, Words With Friends (crossword game), and Duolingo (at least one lesson to keep up my streak; usually starting with Spanish). 

8.15 -  Getting dressed etc, having breakfast and glancing through the newspaper. (Yes I still have a daily printed morning newspaper - delivered through a slot in my door, so no need to go outside to fetch it.)

9 - Listening  (on my tablet) to a lecture on the Indo-European Languages of Europe; whilst making the bed, washing up, watering plants and sorting yesterday's laundry. (The lecture is part of an Audible course on languages around the world which is keeping me spellbound just now... Did you know there are 7000 languages???)

9.30 - Preparations to go out, and then a walk into town for various minor errands (including pharmacy + a grocery shop); also walking back home, and then unpacking my purchases etc.

11.25 - Quick check that I'm still connected to the world...

11.35-12.00 - Resting while listening to the radio. Every weekday (Monday-Friday) since the Dawn of Time (i.e. as long as I can remember), at 11.35, there is a chapter from a novel read aloud on the radio. (This has been going on since way before other access to audio books.) I often listen while preparing lunch, if I am home. (Nowadays there is of course also the possibility to catch up online.) (Just now: Nutshell by Ian McEwan - in Swedish. I've not heard every episode but enough to follow the basic story.) 

12 - Preparing lunch (salmon and salad, already pre-prepared) and then eating in front of the TV to A Place in the Sun - home or away. (British TV show: People not sure whether they want to just move to the English countryside or to a warmer climate, like Spain or France. Most seem to decide on the latter; which these days makes me wonder every time how Brexit will affect them all...) (The programs I watch are reruns so that question does not come up.)

13 - More Home or away, while going to and fro and doing some washing up and dusting etc during the commercial breaks.

14 - American Fixer Uppers demolish and refurbish a whole house while I'm exercising my vacuum cleaner. (phew)

15 - Resting (?) while playing Words with Friends and doing some Russian Duolingo lessons and other whatnots on my phone.

16 - Out for a short walk, and then a cup of tea and something.

17 - A mix of resting, reading and connecting with the world again; including a couple of Turkish Duolingo lessons.

18 - Preparing my biweekly online shopping list; and the TV on with a mix of News, British Antiques Road Trip, and Escape to the Country (people who know they want to stay in Britain, but not sure whether they want a thatched roof, next-door neighbours, or a barn conversion miles away from anywhere). (I like the various British house-and-antiques-hunting shows for all the glimpses of lovely scenery and interesting architecture and history - but at the same time they don't require my full attention...)  

20 - Ordering groceries online for delivery on Friday.

21 - Late supper and watching a Swedish history documentary on Women Viking Warriors (based on finds in old graves). Reflecting that even history is constantly changing... (or at least how we perceive it, from the perspective of our own time)...

22 - Getting ready for bed. Reading on my Kindle for a bit, then switching to the same book on Audible (on timer): Daniel Deronda English classic by George Eliot (alias Mary Ann Evans), first published in 1876. A very long novel; and I have to confess I feel like I keep losing the thread of the plot whether I'm awake or asleep, reading or listening with this one... (But around 70%  through now, so don't want to give up.)

Follow-up question: Is every day the same?
Answer: No! (Not exactly, anyway...)

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Red Brick and Roses

On our last evening in Lund (back in July) we went for a random walk along charming back streets that had me stopping at more or less every house and corner to take photos... 

I think I'll just share one now and then rather than gather them all in one post!

Our World Tuesday Graphic

Ruby Tuesday Too

Through My Lens

Sunday 11 August 2019

Inspired Sunday - Vallkärra Church

Vallkärra Church
Diocese of Lund - Skåne, Sweden

Some old tombstones and memorial crosses of cultural-historical interest

Vallkärra Church (near Lund, Skåne, Sweden) dates back to the 12th century; but the only part that remains from those days is the rounded choir. The pulpit is from the 16th century. The whole church went through a major reconstruction in the 1840s, and its size was then tripled. In 1906-07 some further changes were made, and the pews, baptismal font and altar table are from that time. The organ is from 1963. Some older items and paintings from the church have been moved to museums. 
Inspired Sunday #328

Saturday 10 August 2019

Sepia Saturday 482 - A Hundred Years Ago

Another mystery photo from my great-aunt Gerda's photo album. As usual there are no written clues to reveal who, where or when. I'm choosing this photo for this week's Sepia Saturday, because it shows three women from around the same time period as the prompt photo of Emmeline Pankhurst & co (see below).

When guessing the time period of my photo, my only clues are the fashion and hair styles. I know Gerda is the woman in the middle  (concluded from comparison with other photos).  But I'm not sure whether the photo was taken in America, Sweden or France - or even somewhere else.

I also don't know Gerda's opinions about the suffragette movement. Working her way up as a maid, lady's maid, travel companion and housekeeper, I can imagine that she perhaps learned to keep her thoughts on politics to herself. What I know is that when she emigrated to America in 1902 (at age 21), women in Sweden were not allowed to vote - and only about a fourth of the men. When she returned around 1911, most men were allowed to vote, but not the women. When WWI broke out, Gerda was in France; and it seems she was unable to go back to Sweden for the duration of the war. In 1919, the right to vote in Sweden was finally extended to women (over the age of 23); but the first elections where they could actually take part were held in 1921. I do have some evidence indicating that Gerda was living in Sweden in 1921; so she may have been able to vote in that election. (Both my grandmothers, born in 1900 and 1902, would still have been too young, though - as the age limit back then was 23!)

Friday 9 August 2019

Båstad: Boats and Beach (Skywatch Friday)

From a walk along the harbour and beach at Båstad, the first evening of our road trip a month ago (July 8).

Båstad is a rather typical Swedish seaside resort in that it more than doubles its population in the summer holiday season.

SkyWatch Friday

Tuesday 6 August 2019

Book Review: St Kilda Fever

St Kilda Fever
by FMT Macdonald (2019)

An intriguing mystery thriller set on the Outer Hebrides in the 1970's, with the Cold War as backdrop. 

It is 1975. Dr Helen MacAllister has recently moved to the Isle of Lewis to work as the first female GP on the island; and is temporarily living alone in a croft house belonging to her cousin.

One day in the village, she hears the news of a body having been found in the sea. However, it is not she who gets called out to certify the death, but some doctor from the mainland; which suggests that there is something extra suspicious about it. 

Helen gets involved in another way, though, when shortly afterwards, in the midst of a storm and a power cut, she finds a wounded man lying unconscious in her own barn...

"St Kilda" is a small island (or group of islands) off the west coast of Lewis/Harris. It was inhabited from the Bronze age into the early 20th century, but then deserted from around 1930 until 1955 - when the British government decided to use it for certain military defense purposes (playing a part in this fictional story). 

I enjoyed the novel both for the story "as such" and for the general Outer Hebrides atmosphere, as I have also come to know it from other sources in recent years - like Peter May's Lewis trilogy (The Blackhouse, The Lewis Man and The Chessmen) + a certain blog that I've been following for almost exactly ten years now... (I know that many of my readers here follow that, too - I am of course referring to Eagleton Notes.)  Sometimes I almost feel like I've been to these islands myself, although I haven't...  (I did visit Scotland in the early 1970's, but not the islands. Loch Ness  and Inverness was as far north as we got.)

I got a printed copy of this book sent to me straight from the island, which of course makes it all the more precious to me. But I just checked, and I see that it is also available as e-book for Kindle at a fair price. 

A little teaser:

'Right, Helen, let's get a grip. What do we do now?' Speaking to yourself is usually frowned upon by my profession. In fact, it sometimes results in sectioning or removal to a mental hospital if the patient persists. But I'd always found a one to one conversation with myself useful when I'd a problem. No confidences were ever breached, there was no waiting list and you didn't have to explain your problem to a nosey receptionist. (page 58)

Monday 5 August 2019

Chasing Butterflies

I was happy to see butterflies in my Butterfly Park again this past weekend. (The park has another boring name really, but I've been calling it Butterfly Park since I first started blogging.) I love chasing butterflies around the flowerbeds there with my camera - I find it strangely meditative. (At least when I'm the only human there - which on this occasion I was!)

Predominant this year are the Painted Ladies, or thistle butterflies. We are having quite an invasion of those in Sweden this year (and so does Britain, I've gathered from friends over there). They come here from the Mediterranean area and North Africa in the spring, but I don't think we've ever seen as many of them before as this year (well not in modern times anyway). Enough to be News in all the media, especially back in May when they first arrived. (I'm guessing that many of those we see now are the offspring of the migrants.)

 And they seem to really love the Echinacea flowers in the park...


However, I also spotted two colourful ones of different kind... One of them (Peacock) I noticed while I was there in the park; the other one (Small Tortoiseshell) not until I got the photos up on my screen at home!

Peacock butterfly

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly

There were also several white ones.

And some busy bumblebees as well.

Through My Lens

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