Saturday, 26 February 2022

The Repair Shop


"The base looks a bit crooked"
"Then I add a bit more glue at the Maldives"


One of my favourite TV programmes lately is a British series entitled The Repair Shop, where people bring in broken old objects of various kind - often family heirlooms - to be repaired and restored to their former glory by a team of experts, each with their own speciality (and loving their job!)

The past few days, on my main TV channels, most of the regular programmes seem to have been exchanged for constant and repeated updates and discussions of the increasingly despressing situation in Ukraine. Which of course deserves to be in focus; but when there is very little one can actually "do" about it, from time to time one can also feel overloaded by all the speculations to a degree where one is no longer able to take in any more...  

Then I've sometimes switched to The Repair Shop (on the "play" channel where it's found here), catching up with missed episodes. Today, I watched one where they were repairing an old broken globe. It felt rather therapeutic watching a careful and loving healing process of the planet, rather than attempts to destroy it.

Thursday, 24 February 2022

Postcards from Ukraine


Trying to digest hours and hours of news reports today about Russia's invasion of Ukraine, I went to my Postcrossing account to check what postcards I've received in the past from Ukraine. I found that between 2013-2015, I received quite a few cards from there. In 2016, only one (the top one above) - and since then, no more. Since 2016 I also haven't been given any address in Ukraine to send a card to, except once in 2021. I know I was more active in postcrossing myself during the first years after I joined (then having a lot of inherited old stamps that I wanted to send out into the world); but looking at the PC statistics now, they also seem to reflect political changes in Ukraine around that time.

The dragon card was sent to me from Ukraine in September 2015. I don't know if this particular dragon belongs in a special story, or if it is meant to be good or bad. But usually in European/Slavic folklore I think dragons are at least not considered trustworthy as to their good intentions.

Just now, I guess we must hope that just like in various fairy tales, the (wicked) dragon will be tricked to fall victim to its own greed in the end... 

PS. Looking at these two cards together on my screen, it strikes me that the dragon image has roughly the same shape as the map of the country! (Especially that front paw...)

- - -

PPS (25.2) On the back of the dragon postcard it says "golden dragon". I tried googling that but didn't find any reference to a special tale, or Ukraine. I did get sent to some websites related to the game Dungeons & Dragons, though. On one of them, about Gold Dragons, under the heading Personality and Motivations I found this - rather worth contemplating in relation to mighty human leaders as well...

Gold dragons are strong believers in the rule of order and the greater good, but they are also arrogant and dismissive, more concerned with unfathomable goals than with the needs of "lesser creatures." For every gold dragon champion that aids a community of humanoids, or rules it with a just and benevolent hand, there is another that has become a tyrant, demanding the obedience it deserves "by right," or crushing individual freedoms and creativity in the name of law. Even these dragons tend to view themselves as morally in the right, making the hard choices nobody else can.

Even when cooperating with or benevolently ruling other creatures, gold dragons seem dismissive of the concerns of lesser beings. This attitude isn't necessarily a sign that they don't care for the good of their subjects or allies (though some might not); rather, it's because gold dragons believe in their superiority over other races but don't necessarily understand what that means. A gold dragon watching over a community might not acknowledge the complaints, needs, or troubles of citizens because it truly doesn't realize how bad things are. Even after dwelling for years among humans, gold dragons are frequently shocked at just how weak and fragile such creatures are.

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

The Locked Room (Book Review)

The Locked Room
(Ruth Galloway series #14/14)
by Elly Griffiths (2022)

(Read on Kindle, February 2022)

The 14th book about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway in Norfolk is set in 2020, and hence with the outbreak of Covid19 and all the restrictions, lock-downs and worries brought about by that as background. As Ruth gets asked to examine a skeleton found near an old burial ground for victims of the plague, centuries ago, some parallels are also drawn between those times and today. Meanwhile, Nelson and his team are investigating a series of recent deaths that may or may not be suicides. Ruth also has a private mystery to deal with, as when sorting through things that belonged to her mother she finds a photo of her own cottage in Norfolk - from before Ruth moved in there, or even knew of its existence herself (and her mother never mentioned it). And in the present time, a new neighbour has just moved into the cottage next door to hers...

As usual, Elly Griffiths weaves an intricate pattern of mysteries and coincidences that may or may not turn out related; and at the same time she continues to let her main characters and the relationships between them develop and grow. After 14 books, I still love this series. I also think she did really well in this book with involving the covid- and lock-down situation in a realistic way - including closed schools, working from home, keeping distance, wearing masks, trying to keep up with the news, worrying about loved ones etc.


Tuesday, 22 February 2022

Once Upon A Wardrobe (Book Review)

Once Upon a Wardrobe
by Patti Callahan (2021)

(Read on Kindle, January 2022)

I loved this book, which manages to combine fiction and biography (of C.S. Lewis) in a rather unique way. Having read biographies about Lewis before (you know I'm a Narnia fan, and I have also read several other books both by and about him), I recognized a lot of details, and throughout the book I felt that Patti Callahan captures 'Jack' (as he preferred to be called by his friends) as a person very well - and also his brother Warnie.

The other main characters, including the "narrator" Megs, are entirely fictional, though - and so (obviously) never met the Lewis brothers in real life - although that is almost hard to believe when reading the book. 

The story is set in 1950, when The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in the Narnia series, was first published. Megs Devonshire is a student of mathematics and physics at Oxford. She has an eight-year-old brother, George, who is sickly and pretty much bound to his bed. He is given this book, and gets deeply fascinated by it. He also gets obsessed with questions like where Narnia "came from" and if it's "real". Knowing that his sister studies at Oxford, and that Lewis is a professor there, he asks her to find out for him.

As Megs is not a student of literature, but of science, she struggles to understand her little brother's more philosophical questions. She is also hesitant to approach the famous author, as he is not her teacher. But eventually, she ends up doing so anyway - and this leads to a series of meetings with both C.S. Lewis himself, and his brother Warnie, in their home. Somewhat to her frustration, rather than answering direct questions with straight forward explanations, Lewis chooses to just tell her "stories" from his own life, though. About his and his brother's childhood and youth, and the literature he read, etc. After each session, Megs writes down these stories in a notebook, and when she goes home to visit her brother, re-tells them to him. George also has a habit of sometimes hiding in his own wardrobe to sit there and "take himself to that imaginary world, where he can have his own adventures, where he can escape the very real world, where his body won't get old, and where his mum doesn't cry in the kitchen". And when his sister is home and reporting back to him from her talks with Lewis, instead of just the ordinary "once upon a time", they fall into the habit of starting each reading with the phrase: "Once upon a wardrobe, not very long ago, and not very far away". Rather to Megs surprise, her little brother seems to get the significance of the stories about Lewis's life, related to his book, better than she does herself. But gradually, she also finds her own understanding deepening. George's illness, and his way of handling that his life in this world will probably be short, makes it all too obvious that not all the questions in life can be answered by math and science.

In the midst of everything, between worry about her brother and wrestling with life's Big Questions, there is also room for a bit of romance in Meg's life. 

All in all, it's a warm and beautiful book, and I'd gladly recommend it to readers of any age as introduction to both the world of Narnia and the life of C.S. Lewis. 

At the end of the book, there is also a note from C.S. Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham, saying (among other things): "This is not merely a book worth reading, it is a book that will drive us through the difficulties of love and sorrow, to struggle, gasping onward and upward, our emotions surging with us until we are brought, once again, to love. --- For while it may not be Narnia, there is magic in it, and that deeply moved me."


Sunday, 20 February 2022



I managed a walk downtown yesterday afternoon, to buy myself a bunch of tulips. It was one of those "keep your eyes on the ground" kind of walks, though (i.e. watching out for icy spots) so I've only got photos of the tulips!  

It has become somewhat of a tradition for me to buy tulips for 20 February, since that was my mother's birthday. As this month is also the time for tulips in the flower shops, she often got tulips for her birthday. Now I can't give them to her, but while enjoying them on my own table, I think of her. 92 years today since her birth. 13 years in May since she died.

Mum tending her own garden. Looking back, it's hard to quite grasp the fact that I'm a year older now than she was when this photo was taken!

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Waiting for Spring

Oops, I suddenly realize it's been a full week since my last post here. It's been a mostly indoors kind of week, wet and grey, snow-free, and with nothing to inspire photography on my short walks for exercise. I've not been into town, or even gone shopping for groceries (except online, with home delivery yesterday). Last night it snowed a bit again, but very wet and slushy stuff. The sun has now come out again, but I'm not sure what kind of footwear would be best suited to attempt a walk...

Awaiting spring, I have got rid of some tired indoors plants, and renewed some by taking cuttings, putting those in water to grow roots, and then planting them in pots. My attempts with a geranium failed, but "painted nettles" (coleus) are easy. I used to have those back in my youth (originally from cuttings I got from my mum), but at some point I failed to renew them, and I think it's been decades since I last had any - until last year, when they suddenly seemed to have become popular again, and I bought one, which soon became two, and then three - out of which two have now been renewed, one cut back, and I may have yet a few "babies" on the way...


The "sampling tubes rack" (glass bottles) was a gift from my brother, many years ago.

- - -

If you like, you can also visit my Sepia Saturday post on my blog Greetings from the Past, where I've just reached the end of a series based on postcards that my great-aunt Gerda (a traveling lady's maid) wrote from France during WWI. The end of the war was not the end of her travels, though, and I'm still feeling inspired to continue to try and piece together what I know in some kind of chronological order. 

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Men At Work


Since Mid November there have been roofers at work putting new tiles on the roofs of buildings in my neighbourhood. They got started in November just before we had the first round of snow and cold weather, and have kept at it through snow, wind, thaw, rain, slush, frost, ice - start over and repeat, I forget how many times now... I don't envy them their working conditions!

They'll get to my building too at some point, but I'm not sure when. Meanwhile, I've been zooming them in from a distance with my camera occasionally, to try and prepare myself mentally for what to expect. (Like, will they be climbing about outside all of my windows, or only some?)

Watching them set up scaffolding on a sunny day was quite fascinating. Made me wonder if they get the job done twice as fast in sunshine, as then each guy also has "help" from his own shadow!

They certainly seem to have got into a routine of how to do it by now. Look closely at the photo on the left above. See how the guy is holding his hand out (blurry because of movement) to a loose piece of scaffolding, midair? He's not dropping it - he's catching it. He was on the 2nd floor, and both long and short parts of scaffolding were thrown up to him one by one, by another guy down on the ground. (Cf the middle photo in collage No 2.) Thrower and catcher seemed perfectly coordinated in their movements - but I can certainly see the need for them to wear hard hats...! :o

Remains to be seen how bothered I'll be by the noise when they get to my building. But at least I don't live on the top floor!

Tuesday, 8 February 2022

First Signs of Spring


Walking into town today I noticed the first signs of spring: A few snowdrops in bloom in a little flower bed created by someone living in the condos along the riverside. (The footpath between the buildings and the river is public, though.)

In spite of this, winter is not likely to be over for a good while yet. We'll probably see more snow again soon (although predictions just now vary between rain and snow, as temperatures are likely to  still be up and down around freezing point).

Tomorrow, Sweden will be lifting most of the corona-restrictions that have been in place over winter - like how many people may gather indoors for this or that purpose, etc. However, this does not mean that the pandemic is over, either. Only that with the 'omicron' variant, and with most people now either being vaccinated, or having had the disease (or both!), it's behaving differently (most people not getting seriously ill). So the restrictions aren't serving the same purpose any more. Or so they say. For my own part, I think I'll probably prefer to "keep my distance" for a bit longer. Or at least not immediately join a big crowd for celebrations!

Sunday, 6 February 2022

Storm Malik and The Old Woman

 Or: It Was A Dark And Stormy Night...

It's been another week of "tread-carefully-and-keep-your-eyes-on-your-feet-when-out-walking"...

Storm Malik passed by here last weekend, with various unforeseen consequences in tow. While out walking yesterday (watching my feet, so only one photo), I was trying to start writing this blog post in my head; but for some reason my thoughts went to an old nursery rhyme/folk tale. When I got back home, I went online to check if it's the same in English. I found that in English it's called The Old Woman and Her Pig. It took me a while to find it, because in the Swedish version, there's no pig involved! Here, it starts and ends instead with a boy who refused to go to school. Verbally, ours is also snappier* (see below).  Otherwise it's basically the same - describing a chain of events with one thing leading to another (which is why I came to think of it in the first place). 

...And as soon as the cat had lapped up the milk, the cat began to kill the rat; the rat began to gnaw the rope; the rope began to hang the butcher; the butcher began to kill the ox; the ox began to drink the water; the water began to quench the fire; the fire began to burn the stick; the stick began to beat the dog; the dog began to bite the pig...

*In Swedish though, it's more like this (and should be read very fast): "cat on the rat, rat on the rope, rope on the ox, ox on the water, water on the fire, fire on the stick, stick on the dog, dog on the boy, and the boy to school!"

[Swedish: "katten på råttan, råttan på repet, repet på oxen, oxen på vattnet, vattnet på elden, elden på riset, riset på pojken, och pojken till skolan"]

Anyway, applying this pattern of consequences to my week, it went something like this:

In the night between Saturday and Sunday, while I was sleeping, Storm Malik caused a power outage in my area of town. The power outage (or the power coming back on again) caused damage to the motor of an electrically adjustable backrest that I've had mounted on my bed for nearly 16 years (technical aid originally prescribed for a complicated situation with surgery on top of other pain problems at the time). When the power came back on, the motor started giving off a strange and very loud noise, which woke me up. At first I assumed the noise must come from some machine outside (like a snow plow). When I realized where it did come from, I hurried to pull the plug out - feeling rather scared! It wasn't until a bit later, when a newsflash on my tablet informed me that there had been a power outage during the night, that the whole thing began to make some sort of sense at all. (I also learned the power had come back on around the time when I woke up.) 

As it was Sunday, there wasn't anything further I could do about it that day (except start pondering the consequences).  Thankfully no other appliances had broken down. (I had to restart my TV cable box, but it let me do that without protests.)

On Monday, I called the primary health care rehab unit; and in the afternoon, an occupational therapist called me back. She was very nice, but since we were new to each other, 20+ years of explanations (medical history) were needed (phew). At the end she said that she would call the technical aids centre, and they'd get back to me.

On Tuesday, the same occ. therapist called again and told me the tech guys had told her they would not repair the backrest because it was too old. And what with current rules and regulations, and my needs having changed compared to 16 years ago, she also could not prescribe me a new one. I had anticipated as much, so did not argue with that, but said that in that case, I needed help to get rid of the thing. And perhaps some advice about simpler alternatives.

So on Thursday, the OT made a house call to demount the Thingy from my bed - a procedure requiring acrobatics (getting down on the floor and wriggling in under the bed) that I (still) wouldn't dare try now - even if on the whole, I am more mobile today than I was in 2006. (On the other hand, I'm 16 years older. And, as I keep telling people, the older one gets, things are rarely as simple as just stating that one is "better" or "worse" compared to 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago...) The OT managed the necessary acrobatics, though. So in that respect, all went smoothly - and just now, I'm feeling mostly grateful to have got rid of the no longer helpful contraption. (Actually I think that even if they'd manage to repair it, I'd now have been scared of a repeat experience!)

However, I now have to kind of re-learn some movement patterns. (If someone asked you on the phone - like the OT did me - "How do you get out of bed?" - would you be able to describe the exact procedure from lying flat down in your bed to finding yourself standing next to it?)  And I also need to figure out the right combination of pillows etc needed now for comfortable daytime rest, and for example reading. I had an old bed wedge pillow down in my storage room (from way back before the electric thingy), but I think I may need a higher one. Nowadays the internet is full of stuff like that, only a click away - the problem is just to decide what design, size, shape, angle, height, weight etc etc might work best for me at the moment. (I'd prefer if I could walk into a shop and try them out!)

So the next consequence is that I've spent so much time googling backrests this week that now all my devices (laptop, tablet, phone) are full of 'cookies' from all kinds of places selling various rehab stuff. (From the Big A to specialized smaller websites.) In turn with the consequence that where/what ever else I go or do online now (playing games, using Facebook etc), ads for technical aids keep popping up every two minutes. Not only wedge pillows and backrests (that I've already looked at a dozen times), but a million other kinds of "senior" and medical stuff as well... from walkers to pill poppers and compression stockings (and all claiming to be the best of its kind).

I did of course also discuss pillow/backrest alternatives with the occ. therapist. But decided to give it a bit of time to figure out what I think might serve me best, and at a reasonable price. (Reading customer reviews may also be worth while. For example, there was one pillow that looked good size-wise, but I found reviews mentioning that it had a bad smell...)

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