Saturday, 30 May 2020

*Real* Shopping

... as opposed to a previous post on Pretend Shopping ...  ;-)

When going through my summer wardrobe recently, I did not feel any urgent need to go shopping for new summer clothes - which is just as well, considering the general circumstances just now. One accessory I still felt I really wanted was a new handbag/shoulder bag, though. (As one or two attentive readers might remember, I did have a peek at one such market stall last weekend but did not find any there that matched what I was looking for.) Yesterday, I tried my luck at a small shop in the city centre that sells bags (and only bags). The door was open, no other customers inside, and I found what I was looking for immediately - the right shape and size, weatherproof, and in a nice blue colour. The purchase took only a minute or two - my favourite kind of shopping just now. And it was on sale (25% off)!

Today, while pleased with the new shoulder bag, I realised that I also really could do with a new 'belt bag' (fanny pack or bum bag or whatever you call it)... I recalled that I had seen one of those in the shop yesterday as well, in the same colour and brand as the handbag. So I went back today and bought that one as well. 


Friday, 29 May 2020

Artist At Work

Today I decided to walk past the new mural again, and was lucky: This time I found the artist (Shai Dahan) at work. The photos are zoomed in from the park across the river.

Weekend Reflections

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Dandelion Wine

"I mustn't forget, I'm alive, I know I'm alive, I mustn't forget it tonight or tomorrow or the day after that."
Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine 

The dandelions are in bloom en masse along the path down by the river just now... It's a short path, but I often walk from one end to the other and then turn around and walk back again - just because I like the spot. (And ignoring the apartment blocks on the other side of the river the best I can, with the camera!) 

Dandelion Wine audiobook cover art

At home, I'm currently re-reading one of my favourite books (a classic I first read in my teens or early twenties - then in Swedish translation - but have returned to several times since then). This time I'm listening to it as audio book (recently bought), narrated by David Aaron Baker.

The book is set in 1928, in a small town in Illinois, and inspired by the author's own childhood memories. "A magical timeless summer in the life of a twelve-year-old boy named Douglas Spaulding" (quoting the blurb). The book title, Dandelion Wine, refers to the idea (or wish) of bottling memories just like home-made wine.

Each chapter is really a short story in itself (with Douglas sometimes the main character but sometimes just witness of events). One of my favourite chapters is about a short but sweet and special friendship between a young man and a 95-year-old lady. 

"We don't seem to have much time now."
"No, but perhaps there will be another time. Time is so strange and life is twice as strange. The cogs miss, the wheels turn, and lives interlace too early or too late. I lived too long that much is certain. And you were born either too early or too late. It was a terrible bit of timing. ---"

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Not Quite Business As Usual

Normally the past weekend would have included a busy Spring Market in the the city centre on Friday and Saturday, with not only the square but also the streets nearby full of market stalls. This year (because of the corona-related restrictions), only like half a dozen local stallholders had been invited; and with the stalls well spread out so as not to cause crowding. I did go into town on Friday morning to have a look - mostly just out of curiosity, and prepared to just turn around if it should be crowded anyway. As you can see, though, there was no real danger of that...

I did go up to that white tent in the second photo to have a closer peek. They were selling hand-made leather bags/purses and wallets. Nice, but not quite my style - so I did not buy any. (I need mine to be a certain size and with lots of pockets to be practical...)

Outside my usual florist's shop I found something I liked, though. Among all the other plants to choose from, they had also prepared some ready-to-go bags with three plants that would fit nicely in a standard balcony-box. I found this a really creative idea, especially just now, to avoid crowds and queuing. I fell for this one at once, with pink geraniums + white lavender. (I knew I wanted geraniums but probably would not have thought of the lavender myself.) Easy quick purchase, just grabbing the bag and paying by card (there was also no queue just then).

Friday, 22 May 2020

The New Mural: Work still in Progress!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about a new mural in my city - then not feeling quite sure if the background (then just a sketchy city silhouette in black & white) was supposed to look like it did then, or if it was still a work in progress.

Today, I went back to check on it - and now there is no doubt: A lot has happened since I last saw it, but there is obviously still more to come! (Of course I'm now also thinking I should have realized...! But it is hard to know with Art sometimes, isn't it!?)

Linking to Weekend Reflections #556

Weekend Reflections

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Pretend Shopping

It feels like ages since I last set foot in a clothes shop. I think it was early/mid January. Before the corona outbreak anyway. Not that I'm sure I'd actually have bought anything during this period of early spring anyway. But in normal circumstances, I know I would at least have gone inside a few shops in the city centre for a look. But as things are, I have avoided that.

Today, I played Pretend Shopping at home, by going down to my storage room in the basement to fetch my summer clothes. While most of my clothes are kind of all-year-round, there are also some summer/winter clothes that I switch with the seasons. (Like, in summer I don't need my warmest winter coats and boots taking up space in my wardrobes upstairs; and in the winter I don't need my summer dresses, shorts or tank tops.) 

The older I get, the more exciting the spring/autumn "pretend shopping" gets. Especially with my summer clothes, there's almost always something nowadays that I had forgotten about (until I see it again)... So, the present social distancing situation aside, it's really a good idea anyway to go through my wardrobe properly before I decide if I really need to make any actual new purchases!


Sunday, 17 May 2020

Another Anniversary! - 4 Years of Duolingo

Having posted about my 7 years of Postcrossing yesterday, it struck me that it's also time to celebrate 4 years of language learning via Duolingo

I'm not sure if Duo too will be sending me a special reminder; but tomorrow my 'streak' on that app will be 1460 days = 4x365 = 4 years. Also confirmed by a blog post of mine from May 2016, On Learning Languages

How time flies when you're having fun! (...and especially in the company of an encouraging little green owl to flatter your ego every time you manage to get something right...)

As followers may remember, I have been reporting my progress and statistics on this blog every now and then over the years. As the app and courses keep developing along the way, I realize that progress is hard to measure and compare in figures, though. Some courses are a lot more comprehensive than others, and so on. And my own ambitions with the languages I've tried also vary a lot.

The first language I started learning on Duo was Spanish (pretty much from scratch). That's still my priority, so I still always start with that and do at least one Spanish lesson per day to keep up my streak. 

Besides that (when I feel like doing more) I'm still also working on some more languages. For one thing, I occasionally review a bit of German and French (which I did learn in school).  'New' languages other than Spanish that I've kept working on are Welsh, Turkish, Dutch and Russian. In Spanish I'm wrestling with keeping apart verb endings expressing past, future etc. And I still can't keep up with the spoken language (like on TV), they speak way too fast! With Dutch, I can understand the written language fairly well; but writing/speaking and listening is quite a different matter (and will probably remain so). With Welsh, Turkish and Russian - while I do feel I'm making progress, and slowly learning to recognize certain patterns (and words and phrases), each lesson is really still mostly "brain exercise" (like games or crosswords or puzzles). I'm satisfied with that, though - as I'm doing it for "fun", rather than aiming to reach a certain goal or level. 

The main reason I decided to try Duolingo four years ago was  really just to check if my brain could still cope with that kind of learning at all, at age 60+. Seen from that perspective, I think I have to be pleased even just with the fact that I've kept on trying!

Saturday, 16 May 2020

7 Years of Postcrossing

This morning, I received a surprise email:

Er... no, I can't really say I remember... 
But seeing who sent the email is of course a clue in itself... ;)

Checking my Postcrossing account, I note that over those seven years, I have sent no less than 900 registered postcards to random strangers around the world - and received as many.

I think the first time I mentioned Postcrossing on my blog was 31st May, 2013. It was through one of my first friends in the Blogosphere (Scriptor Senex of Rambles from my Chair) that I first learned about the project; and a lot of inherited stamps from my dad made me decide to join. It just seemed more fun to me to put the stamps to use rather than sell them or just keep them.

With the increase in postal rates and so on, most of the inherited stamps have indeed been sent out into the world by now (except some of low value, the use of which would leave no room to write anything on the card!) In the meantime, I had somehow managed to overestimate how many cards I needed to buy... so now it was the cards begging me to be sent travelling... So I had to buy more stamps... and then more cards... and so it goes on!!!

PS. I also suspect that over these seven years I've probably exchanged about as many cards outside the Postcrossing system as within it. From storage point of view, it would no doubt have been wiser to just keep the stamps... But not half as much fun!

Two cards that dropped in this past week:

Quote card (with matching stamp on the back),
from him who first inspired me to join Postcrossing

Dandelion Flower Fairy
from my penpal Jarina in the Netherlands

Monday, 11 May 2020

Recently Read

It strikes me that I haven't been writing any book reviews for a while. That doesn't mean I haven't been reading. But some of the books I've read or listened to this spring have been in Swedish; which means not much use writing about them here unless I know they are also available in English. And others have been re-reads.

I have also read two recently published ones in English, though.

The Lantern Men (Ruth Galloway Mysteries Book 12) by [Elly Griffiths] 

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (2020)
No 12 in her series about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway.

At the beginning of this book, Ruth has a new job in Cambridge, where she and her daughter are now also living, together with Ruth's new partner Frank. However, Ruth still manages to get drawn into a case involving her old familiar environment on the coast of Norfolk - and of course her old friends there as well (including DCI Nelson, father of her daughter)... The title The Lantern Men refers to old legends about mysterious figures haunting the salt marshes and luring travelers to their death.

I like this series a lot - for the background setting and the main characters as well as the plots in each individual book.

More recently (April), the author did a "lockdown reading" of the whole of the first book in the same series (The Crossing Places) aloud, live on Facebook, in daily installments. I followed and enjoyed that! ;)

Speaking of lockdown, I've also read:

Lockdown: the crime thriller that predicted a world in quarantine

Lockdown by Peter May (2020)

In the foreword, Peter May tells the story of how back in 2005, he wrote this crime novel set against the backdrop of a bird flu pandemic. At the time, British editors thought it too unrealistic, and it did not get published. The author himself had almost forgotten  about it, until the present Covid-19 situation began spreading worldwide. He then decided to dig out his old manuscript - "if only to make us all realise just how much worse things could actually be"... 
"Bird flu, or H5N1, was being predicted by scientists at the time [2005] as the likely next flu pandemic. --- I began looking into the chaos it would inflict, and how society as we know it could rapidly start to disintegrate. I chose London as my setting, the epicentre of the pandemic, and a city in total lockdown. Against this background, the rendered bones of a murdered child are uncovered on a building site where workmen are feverishly constructing an emergency hospital." ...

Good timing for getting the book published, no doubt. Whether this is also really the best time to read it, I think must be up to each reader to decide. It's of course interesting because of anticipating the problems brought by a virus pandemic. But if you're looking for distraction, and something to remind you of "normal", you should probably pick another book... 

For me, curiosity took over - but I soon found Lockdown not suitable for "bedtime" reading. At the same time it really is a page-turner, though, so I did want to finish it. My compromise was to read it only in the daytime - and skimming through some of the more gruesome parts, I have to admit! The virus-related stuff was quite interesting (even if scary); but all in all there was too much thriller action for my taste.

(Out of Peter May's books that I have read, the Lewis trilogy still stands out to me as the best.)

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Sunday Contemplation

One of the many strange things just now (with the corona virus affecting just about everything) is that normal Sunday church services are cancelled. Meanwhile, I think there have never before been so many online alternative church services to choose from. Not quite "the same" experience, but I'm still quite impressed by all the initiatives to not just cancel, but come up with alternatives. 

Yesterday (Saturday), my walk took me to the old church whose tower you see sticking up in the background in the photo above. Instead of going inside (I don't think it was open anyway) I walked around it on the outside; because one thing they've done there is to arrange an outdoors meditation walk of "follow the signs" kind. (I.e. literal signs have been put up on all the doors around the church, with Bible quotes, prayers, instructions etc.)

Personally, I think a stroll around the old cemetery close to where I live usually works just as well for me, though. Not following any special meditation plan or method, but just letting my thoughts wander, while my feet do the same... And stopping to take a photo now and then!



Definitions of contemplation (from Merriam-Webster)

1a : concentration on spiritual things as a form of private devotion
1b : a state of mystical awareness of God's being
2 : an act of considering with attention
3 : the act of regarding steadily 

Saturday, 9 May 2020

A New Mural

There is a new mural in our city centre. I first noticed it on 25 April; and then I wasn't sure whether it was perhaps still a work in progress. It still looked the same yesterday, though; so I now assume the view of the town is intended to remain sketchy. (The photos above were taken yesterday.)

Doing a bit of research online, I found an article about it in the local paper from 22 April. Then the artist was still working on it. His name is Shai Dahan, and he has been the curator of our street art festivals in BorĂ¥s since 2014.

It's a bit of a mystery to me that I missed this article when it was in the paper - but I was still relieved to find it now. Because at least that means that when I first noticed the mural, it really was brand new ;) (i.e. I had not been walking past it for weeks or months without paying attention...)

27 January, 2020
I also found proof among my own photos that back on 27 January, the wall was still plain white. 

(In case anyone is wondering, that rounded structure, formerly white, but now painted green, leads up to a parking-deck.)

 SkyWatch Friday

Monday, 4 May 2020

Spring Tulips

Most of my walks lately have gone in other directions (or circles!), but today I decided to go and check on the progress of spring in the city centre again.  On a Monday morning there weren't too many people about; but the park is full of lovely tulips, at their very best just now. 

Through My Lens
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