Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Winter Wonderland


This morning I woke up to the sound of the snow plough outside my windows. Not really a surprise, as we got a bit of the white stuff already over the weekend, and the weather forecasts had predicted more to come. Still - rather an early start to "proper winter"... I think it's been a while since we last had this much snow this early!

I was prepared to stay in all day. As I had a home delivery from the supermarket on Friday, no need to go shopping for a while yet; and no other very urgent errands on my list either.  

I had breakfast watching our new prime minister presenting her new government at a press conference. Then I had some cooking to do: roasting a big pan of chicken filets in the oven, for freezing in portions - but of which I also had some fresh with salad for lunch, while watching the whole gang of new (and old) ministers having a ceremonial cabinet meeting with our King and Crown Princess at the Royal Castle in Stockholm:


The speaker of the parliament explaining the chain of events to the Crown Princess and King...

The press (including me😉) was only allowed to be present at the opening of that meeting, though. After that, I looked out the window and saw that the snowing seemed to have stopped, and the sun had even come out. So I went down to my basement storage room and got out my very wintriest winter gear (which I had not expected to need for a while yet), and then ventured out for a walk after all. Not as troublesome as I had feared, actually. The paths on the old cemetery across the road turned out to have been better ploughed than the street just outside my building. So I was able to go for a walk there pretty much as usual, for some air and light and exercise - and some photos of a Winter Wonderland of fresh white snow. Obviously there hadn't been any strong winds with this snowfall...

(The sun is low this time of year...)

Even more snow expected for tomorrow, they say. Well, tomorrow is washing day for me anyway, so then I probably will be staying indoors... 

Taking one day at a time, as far as possible.

Monday, 29 November 2021

Second Chance

UPDATE: After last week's political turmoil, Magdalena Andersson (new party leader for the Social Democrats in Sweden since a couple of weeks) was given a second chance in a new parliament voting today, and was elected our new Prime Minister, and the first woman on that post in Sweden. 

Until the next general election in September 2022, she'll be leading a one-party minority government. (The former coalition partner the Green party having jumped ship last week.)

If anyone is wondering about the numbers, what was required was no more than 174 members of parliament voting against her. 101 voted yes, 75 abstained, and 173 voted no.

Tomorrow she will present her new government (ministers), and be officially inaugurated.

It's likely to continue to be a bumpy road ahead, but I wish her luck (and wisdom, and patience). (Having been Minister of Finance for seven years she's not exactly new in the game, though.)

Sunday, 28 November 2021

First Advent Sunday, First Snow, and First Amaryllis


In Sweden, the Christmas season starts with the first Advent Sunday, and that's also when most people start putting up decorations - especially candlesticks and window stars. December is a very dark month here, so the extra lights are welcome. 

I spent most of Friday putting up my window decorations, plus changing some table cloths and runners etc.

To the left in the collage above is the window in my study; to the right the living room.

On Saturday morning, somewhat to my surprise, I woke up to the first snowfall of the year.

I went out for a walk a bit later, but kept it very short. For one thing, it's tricky to know in some places if there is ice hidden under the freshly fallen snow or not... 

And when I woke up today, the first Amaryllis flower in the kitchen window had sprung open for 1st Advent Sunday.

Lighting the first Advent candle.
Happy Advent, everyone!

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Frost, Thaw and Politics

 I don't usually write much about politics (I think) - but sometimes it's hard to completely ignore it. Especially when it's probably making the headlines in world-wide news anyway... 

Like today, when Sweden elected its first female Prime Minister ever in the morning, but she had to hand in her resignation the same afternoon.

Magdalena Andersson

Some of you might vaguely recall that we had a bit of a political crisis in Sweden back in the summer as well, caused by a no-confidence vote against our prime minister, Stefan Löfven.  I wrote a little bit about that too, in a July post I called Rose Gardens and Politics. (This time of year, I'm more inclined to use images of frost and thaw, which is what the weather has offered this week).

Stefan Löfven

Löfven survived the summer crisis, and was reinstated as PM. However, in the autumn he decided to retire as party leader for the Social Democrats (and thereby also as PM) and let someone else take over before next year's elections. At the Social Democrats' party congress, our Minister of Finance since 7 years, Magdalena Andersson, was elected his successor as party leader. According to standard procedure, to also replace him as Prime Minister, that had to also be passed through the Parliament, though. 

After the previous election three years ago (also followed by weeks of chaos) we ended up a minority government consisting of the Social Democrats + the Green Party, with background support by the Center Party and the Liberals (and, somewhat taken for granted, also the Left). After the summer crisis (partly caused by the Left getting tired of being taken for granted), the Liberals dropped out of the cooperation, and after that, the government has been juggling separate negotiations with the Left and Center parties (separate, because the Center party refuses to negotiate with the Left). 

This morning, however, the vote in the Parliament was successful for Magdalena Andersson, and she was elected (by one vote) our first female Prime Minister, after the Center as well as the Left decided to "tolerate" her as PM.

Nothing lasts long these days, though... The same afternoon, the Parliament also had to vote about next year's budget. This turned things upside down once more, because here the Center decided to vote against the government's budget, and for the alternative produced by the four "right-wing" parties (including the far-right Sweden Democrats, with whom the Center has previously always refused to cooperate or negotiate in any way). 

The newly elected PM declared herself prepared to deal with the adjusted budget, for the short period of time left until the next election (next autumn). 

However, the Green Party then suddenly decided that they could not deal with the changed budget... and announced that although they'll still tolerate Magdalena Andersson as PM, they will no longer be part of the government.

With one of the parties leaving the government, the procedure of electing PM (now for a one-party minority government) will have to be repeated. So our first female PM had to hand in her resignation only a few hours after having been elected (and before having been officially instated, a ceremony that was planned for Friday this week). She's declared herself willing to give the procedure another go, though - hoping that the votes in her favour will still be the same as today. (The result still hangs on one single vote, though - and considering all the turmoil today, who knows...) 

Writing this, I don't know yet when the second voting in the Parliament will take place.  

Meanwhile... Stefan Löfven is still acting PM in the transitional government, and will have to wait a while yet to retire.


(Do I have an opinion about it all? Sort of. I hope M.A. gets the chance again, partly because there seems to be no real alternative at the moment, and partly because so far, she also seems able to keep her cool in chaos.)

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Daytime Downtown Decorations

The rain passed during the night, and today I woke up (...late...) to blue skies, and even a glimpse of the sun. To make the most of the daylight, I went out for a walk around noon. Having no special errand, I thought I might as well walk into town anyway, to have a look at the Christmas decorations, even if the lights wouldn't be on at that time of day, and most shops are closed on a Sunday.

The Christmas tree in the square has some new golden balls in it though, doing its best to look festive even in the daytime.

They had put up a giant umbrella on the platform in front of the old court house that serves as stage for various outdoors concerts and events this time of year. Probably a wise move! 

So far this season we haven't seen any snow here, but in the park there is an (artificially frozen) ice-skating rink:

Footbridges over the river are decorated as usual.

The trees all bare now.

Remains to be seen what winter will be like this year.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Turn On the Lights


The weekend before 1st Advent Sunday in my town is traditionally celebrated by officially turning on the Christmas lights in the city centre and park on Saturday afternoon. Last year I think they cancelled it (not the lights, but the public event) but this year it was announced to take place as usual, at 4 pm today. 

However, rain has been pouring down from dense grey skies all day today, and I did not feel tempted to go out. (The photo above is from another day, when they had just started getting various decorations up.) Actually today was such a dismal wet day that I chose to not set foot outdoors at all. It just didn't seem worth the trouble! (of getting wet etc)

So what to do for alternative exercise? I decided that if the town is turning on the Christmas lights, I might as well take on the job of changing my kitchen curtains - which I'll want done before putting up other decorations for 1st Advent anyway. 

If you've been following me for a few years, you'll know the drill by now... But I snapped a couple of new photos anyway - it's easier than looking up old ones!

The window star and electric candles won't come up until towards the end of next week, though. They're still in a box in my basement storage room. (The curtains, on the other hand, I keep in a chest in my living room, so I did not have to go down to the basement for those.)

Yesterday, the first Christmas card also dropped in! - from a penfriend in England, who is always early with hers:


I've got started with mine to be sent abroad as well - those going "overseas" will probably be posted some time next week. 

Meanwhile, below is a postcard of the latest fashion in Paris 108 winters ago - sent from my great-aunt Gerda to her brother Gustaf in November 1913, from the Capital of Fashion. (If you want to know more, visit my Sepia Saturday post on my blog Greetings from the Past.)


Monday, 15 November 2021


 transition: "a change from one place or state or subject or stage to another"

Walking into town on Saturday, I spotted these ferns and daisies by the riverside - a kind of "last reminder" of the summer and autumn gone by...

The blazing colours of October are over. In November, it feels like nature as well as people are sort of in a transition period between seasons - waiting for winter / Christmas. 

In the main square downtown, they had started decorating the Christmas tree, but had left the job half-finished for the weekend. Hopefully it will soon look a bit more festive!

Myself, I don't have a lot of presents to buy, but I've bought some Christmas cards and stamps. Time to get started with the "overseas" cards soon... It's still really hard to tell with those how long they'll take to travel! (I received one letter today from the US which had been on its way 3½ weeks.)

Christmas decorations in my own home won't come up until just before 1st Advent (that's less than two weeks away now, though). But when visiting the supermarket the other day, I could not resist their offer of two Amaryllis for the price of one:

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Tricolor Heather


In a comment to my post yesterday, Meike mentioned heather as autumn decoration. I didn't include them in yesterday's post, but I've had these three pots of tricolor heather hanging on one side of my balcony rail for over a month already. (Nature just put on such a glorious show of tree colours in October that I never got round to showing these back then.) 

I don't think I've seen three colours of heather together like this in one pot before, until this year. I've sometimes bought three of different colour and planted together myself in a box, but as these were already mixed, I just kept them in their original pots in separate holders (which I've had for years and use for different plants depending on season).

For Halloween/All Saints, I also brought up my LED-light tree from the storage room - bought some years ago to replace a string of fairy lights, as the tree is easier to handle. A few branches don't light up any more, but still "enough" for another winter, I think.

I put it up early because I prefer to do it on a dry day before it gets too wet and cold. I keep the lights switched off most of the time until Advent, but in the daytime it serves as winter decoration anyway, resembling a bush with white berries.


Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Seasonal Routines


I cut the brown autumn leaves off my strawberry plants (last week) - and found "spring" waiting underneath... Seeing that, somehow I could not quite bring myself to put them into winter storage just yet! The soil is also very wet from all the rain lately. So for now, I've just moved them from the rail to on top of the bench against the wall (a bit more protected from the rain). Before it turns really cold I intend to wrap them up in  newspapers and put them down under the bench - as I do every year. (The bench in turn is covered with a tarpaulin over winter so they're pretty well protected under there, and usually survive.)

It's been raining a lot this past week. Yesterday was another day when it just kept pouring down and I didn't set foot outdoors all day. (Got my exercise doing the laundry this time...) This morning when I woke up, it was still raining. But I was in luck - it stopped around noon, before I needed to go out and take a bus across town to get my vaccination for the seasonal flu. This year, they are coordinating that at the same arena as the corona vaccinations. This time too it was all amazingly efficient. Almost no queue, and having booked time online I was in and out again in less then 10 minutes (with this vaccine not having to stay and meditate for 15 minutes after the jab...) Still not raining, and not too cold, so rather than wait 20 minutes for the next bus, I decided to walk back home, which took me about 45 minutes (which it would have done anyway, if I had waited + taken the bus).

Pretty much all the leaves have fallen to the ground now, so no photo stops on my way home, I just kept walking...

In about three weeks, I expect a repetition of the procedure, as then it will be time for my 3rd covid jab. (Just heard today that for my age group, 65+, they've just shortened the time between 2nd and 3rd jab from 6 to 5 months. So hopefully I'll be able to get it done well before Christmas.)

Saturday, 6 November 2021

All Saints' Day

Some of you celebrated Halloween last weekend. In Sweden there is a bit of confusion about this holiday, because historically, All Saints' Day was/is 1st November, but in our calendar the holiday was moved (1953) to the Saturday before the first Sunday in November. Since then, we have sort of re-introduced some American Halloween traditions again, so have kind of ended up with two similar holidays which sometimes coincide, and sometimes not. This year, with 31st October being a Sunday, followed by a week with the schools on autumn leave, followed by All Saint's Day this weekend, it has seemed like a very long holiday!

Last Sunday - Oct 31 - when it was sunny, I went for a walk to the larger cemetery on the outskirts of town (opposite direction for me compared to going into the town centre), and put a candle on my maternal grandparents' grave.

Yesterday (grey and damp but not windy) I went and put one on an older family grave (my mother's grandparents) in the old cemetery closer to where I live. I never met them, but because I walk by that grave very often, it has sort of come to represent for me all the others that I can't visit. Yesterday when I got there, there were already three candles lit - some other relative(s) must already have been there.

Today it's been raining all day, and for the first time in a long time, I've not set foot outdoors at all, but chose to just stay in. For exercise, I took the vacuum cleaner for a walk through the flat... I also spent quite a bit of time on a Sepia Saturday post on my family history / old postcards blog, Greetings from the Past. The Sepia prompt included a donkey, which led my thoughts to the photo of my great-aunt Gerda below... Click here it if you want to know more! ;)


Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Autumn Decorations (Outdoors and Indoors)


Nature's own autumn decorations (rose hips)

November is here. The sound of leaf blowers and similar machines have been constantly in the background for weeks... Some trees have lost all of their leaves; others are still holding on to some of theirs. There was a glimpse of the sun on Sunday (Oct 31), but this week we are back to grey and foggy.

Indoors, my few "autumn decorations" have been up since the beginning of October. An old chest in my living room is the main place where I change decorations with the seasons:

The bananas are real (so not always there!) but the branches in the brown vase are artificial. I have collected a number of different ones over the years, and I change those around in different combinations every now and then. (This autumn I added a couple of new ones - the olive branch on the left, and the purple flowers to the right.)

These two little owls came with some potted plant that I either bought for myself or was given on some occasion, I don't recall when.

This bigger owl belonged to my parents. I think mum got it from my aunt on some occasion. It's made to hold a tealight inside; which when lit makes it look a bit spooky in the dark. In a friendly way, though! And that's as far I take my 'Halloween' decorations...

Passing these shelves at my supermarket earlier in the autumn I snapped a couple of photos - but did not feel tempted to buy anything!

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