Saturday, 30 November 2019

1st Advent Weekend

The night between Thursday and Friday, and just in time for the First Advent Weekend, we had the first snow - followed by a sunny weekend. The sun has been a very rare sight here during November. Only perhaps 10 hours of sunshine all month (until yesterday). (That's the statistics from Gothenburg, and probably similar here.)

While it was still gray and dark and cold out (Friday morning), I stayed in and made saffron bread in my bread machine. The "real" tradition is buns of a special shape... 


 ... but once upon a time, when my neck and arm would no longer cooperate in such complicated projects, I settled for a compromise, invested in a bread machine, and adjusted a recipe for that. I don't get the right shape, but I do get the smell and taste of saffron... I cut the bread in slices, put them in the freezer, and then I can easily heat a slice in the toaster for my afternoon tea... (heating it in the toaster brings out that smell again)...

Friday afternoon I went for a short walk - wearing the studded boots I bought back in January. We did not get all that much snow, but the streets are very icy.

Today I felt braver, and went for a longer walk into town. It turned out Black Friday was still going on (in spite of it now being Sunny Saturday). I didn't buy anything I wouldn't have bought anyway - but as it turned out, I got 25% percent off on quite a long list of  prescription-free stuff I needed from the pharmacy. 

When I got to the square, that had been turned into a forest! Or, according to a sign at the entrance - a Santa Wish-List Labyrinth. 

In the middle, there's a letterbox where you can post your wishes.

In another street, I met Santa's helpers (I assume)

I did not have a wish-list for Santa's letter-box; but I have finished my outgoing overseas Christmas mail (to be posted next week). I'm now thinking I may have to consider also planting some trees for climate compensation...
The window star in my study

The tree on my balcony

Happy 1st Advent Sunday to you all!

I'll try to post a sort of Advent Calendar here from tomorrow until Christmas. One more or less "random" photo per day, from my trip back in summer - presented wordless, or with only a few words. Some of the images you may already have seen included in other posts, others not. My plan is to schedule these posts to appear in the mornings. (Some days there may be another post as well, if I find the time.)

Sunday, 24 November 2019

One Month Until Christmas

Time to brighten up the winter darkness with Christmas lights! I walked into the city centre this Sunday afternoon to take part in the annual ceremony of turning on the lights.

I left home around 4:30 pm. It had been grey and gloomy all day, and now darkness was beginning to fall,too. The house above is one I pass on the way, and I noticed they too had started their decorations. (I'll be putting my own window stars and candles up in the week to come.)

Music corps playing outside the old 'Moulin Rouge' cinema building; before leading the march to the main square.

A new set of lights in a tree nearby there were turned on.

Blurry photo of the crowd following the band towards the square... I decided to linger behind and take a little detour along side streets for more photos instead of getting caught up in the crowd.

A snowball kind of light-sculpture replacing a summer fountain.

Catching up with the crowd in the square

 Tree in the park across the river

 Decorations on the bridge across the river to the park

 Looking back at the shopping mall from the other side of the river

I left the bright lights of the city behind, and took the bus back home.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Too Much

I've been wondering for a while: Is it 'just me', or are stores really getting more and more crowded with Too Much of Everything? I don't mean just for Christmas (which is always a bit extra crazy). But I've been having the feeling for a while... Most stores now seem to be so full of Stuff that you can hardly see what's there. (Like, clothes racks so close together and packed so tightly with items that it's worse than my own wardrobes!) For me, it has the opposite effect of what I suppose must be the intention (getting people to buy things). Unless I know exactly what I'm after (and really need it), what happens is that I come into a store, feel that it's Too Much, and just turn around and walk out again. (And if there's shopoholic music in the background, I turn around even faster.)

(Photo from a department store in the city - taken from the stairs between two floors. Not the worst example, obviously, as there was at least elbow room for me to take the photo.)

This week, I've avoided going into town. I had groceries delivered on Wednesday; and on Thursday and Friday (grey, but rain free mornings) I steered my walks to the recycling center instead (where you can also leave certain things for charity). I can't carry much at a time; but at least I'm rid of some threadbare old towels, one vase not used in decades, three tealight candle holders (too hot when used), and one teapot (not needed and should never have been bought in the first place). My cupboards are still mysteriously full, though.

On one of my walks back home from the recycling center (hands free to snap some photos), I came across these last reminders of summer. Kind of sad and encouraging at the same time.

The weekend has been even greyer; and I decided yesterday was a good day for changing the curtains in my kitchen. As my regular readers will know by now, this does not involve buying new ones - just a seasonal change of colour scheme. I also washed the windows while I was at it. And polished that old copper kettle on the window sill.

I'm looking forward to getting my Advent window decorations up as well (stars and electric candles). But I'm not doing that until just before the 1st Advent weekend.

Since a couple of years, I'm cheating a bit with the balcony lights, though. As the tree I have now is not very Christmassy, I put that up already for Halloween. In daylight, when not lit, it looks like bare branches with white berries.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Murder in the Dales

Last month, I also read two murder mysteries by J.R. Ellis. According to the presentation on Amazon, the author is a retired teacher who has lived in Yorkshire for most of his life. I've never come across him before, but it turns out he has written a series of (so far) four murder mysteries. I happened to find the first one as cheap daily deal (or something) for Kindle+Audible - and as I have a soft spot for Yorkshire (spending a bit of time there in my teens), I let myself be tempted. 

That I was not disappointed is probably proved by the fact that after finishing that one, I went straight ahead and bought the next one in the series as well. (I suspect I'll also get No 3 and 4 at some point.) 

The Body in the Dales by J.R. Ellis
Audio book narrated by Michael Page (9:48)

In the first book, a body is discovered in a cave beneath the Yorkshire Dales. The deceased man was well known in the village, but not well liked. A big part of the mystery is how his body came to be found in a very remote part of the cave system. There are details involved that make all suggested explanations just seem impossible. In charge of the investigation is DCI Jim Oldroyd, a Yorkshire man with plenty of local knowledge and experience, and his new partner DS Carter, who has just come to join them from London ('city boy' getting a rather tough introduction to rural Yorkshire). 

I liked both the setting and the main characters (the detectives); and I also enjoyed the Yorkshire dialect (both in the written form and the audio narrative). 

The Quartet Murders by J.R. Ellis
Audio book narrated by Michael Page (9:30)

The second book starts with DCI Oldroyd actually witnessing a murder. A world-famous violinist is shot during a concert, with Oldroyd sitting in the audience. Whoever did it disappears - and so does a unique and very valuable violin... A lot of twists and turns follow before the mysteries are sorted out; and the reader also gets an insight into the world of fanatic collectors of priceless old instruments - like Stradivarius violins.

Monday, 11 November 2019

Permanent Record

One of the books I read/listened to last month was...

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden (2019)
Audio book narrated by Holter Graham
11 h 30 min 

Edward Snowden (link to Wiki) was born in 1983, and at age 30 became famous as "whistleblower"; revealing how the US government was building a system of world-wide mass surveillance. In 2013 he passed on to the press information he had collected while working with computer systems for the CIA and NSA (National Security Agency). Snowden in turn was then accused of espionage and of stealing government data/documents. He was offered asylum in Russia; where he still lives in exile. 

This book is his own account of the events - starting back in his childhood to explain his background, his early interest in computers, and how he came to have the jobs he did. It also explains how he came to have serious doubts about the ethics of what he found out through his work (about the US being able to collect data about the private lives of "every person on earth"); and how he finally decided to expose to the world what he knew.

While my understanding of the technical details is still limited, I found his story interesting and worth listening to - and the subject of personal integrity vs computer technology certainly also worth contemplating. (Like: As I downloaded this book online, the CIA probably already knows I read it...)


Sunday, 10 November 2019

Light in the Dark

 Recent postcrossing card from Taiwan

We're 1/3 into November - how did that happen?! I feel like I've kind of gone into half-hibernation already... The weather has been gray, wet and chilly; and it is pitch-dark outside already by 5 pm now. I do try to go out for a daily walk in the daylight most days; but there is not much to tempt the camera just now, with the autumn leaves having dropped to the ground. 

Indoors, I wrap myself up in extra sweaters and blankets and tend to spend a lot of my time reading or watching TV-series. (Just started re-binge-watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix when there's nothing else on... Still one of my favourites ever!)

I'll try to sum up my recent reading in a separate post - I just wanted to put something quick in to show I'm still alive... (And book reviews tend to always take a lot longer to write than I intended!)

Yesterday, after a late breakfast/brunch (I woke up too early first time and then went back to sleep...), I walked into town and payed a short visit to an exhibition at an art gallery. It was the second last day, so I knew this was my last chance!

The artist is Swedish sculptor (I think from this area): Lars-Åke Åberg. I have seen single pieces of his before, but never so many together. His specialty is little houses, cut from marble or other kinds of stone. Sometimes precariously balancing on top of a steep "cliff".

The gallery is situated in a charming old wooden building.

With some displays he used mirrors for interesting effects.

(Photos taken with my mobile.)

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Halloween 2

In my previous post (Oct 31), I showed some photos from a large woodland cemetery on the outskirts of town. The photos in today's post are from an older and smaller cemetery, closer to where I live. Not quite "next door" as there is a railway and a road to cross in between... But with a footbridge over the railway (which runs in a narrow valley down below), only a few minutes away. In fact, I usually walk either along, across or around this cemetery several times a week. Either on my way to/from other places, or just for a walk. Having lived where I live for 11+ years now, I estimate that I have probably walked across or along that cemetery like 4000 times - whereas during the 50+ previous years of my life, maybe I visited a graveyard once or twice a year (at most!). In some ways, it probably helped to take the "edge" off some of my own losses (and fears) over the same time period... Because while each walk in a cemetery is a reminder of death, at the same time it is also a reminder of Life...

A week or so before Halloween, before the trees dropped all their leaves, I walked around that cemetery taking photos of some of the old graves that have more recently been recycled. (The system here is that when there is no one left to care for a grave, and a certain number of years/decades have passed since the last burial there, it can be reused.) When there are lots of "extra" decorations added on an old grave, that usually indicates a more recent burial - and often of someone young, or someone with roots in another country and culture. (In the photos I have avoided including names, though.)

So many stories...

Inspired Sunday #340

InSPIREd Sunday
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...