Saturday, 30 April 2022

Progress

 It's been another week of breathtaking spring beauty...

 
On Monday, I went back to the same park as last Thursday, to take some more photos. By then, the flowers on the trees had gone from darker pink to nearly white. I was happy to also see and hear a lot of bumble bees enjoying the flowers. The last couple of years the trees and the bumble bees have not been in sync, but this year, they seem to be! :)


 

At home, noisy roof-work has continued...

When ordering my groceries with home delivery this week (as I do once a fortnight), I was a bit nervous that the delivery might coincide with lifting all the heavy pallets of new tiles up onto the roof - involving a huge crane parked outside my entrance all day, same as when they took the old tiles down...  Not much I could do about it, though, except hope for luck - or for the delivery guy to just handle the situation anyway. (After all, they're probably used to encountering strange situations from time to time.) 

Well, as it happened, we were all lucky. (Me, the roofers and the delivery guy.) The Gigantic Crane came and did its work on Thursday - and I stayed in until it was done, hardly even daring to look out the windows... ;) No, I'm exaggerating a bit. I actually did look out the windows quite frequently - I just kept missing the actual lifting, and thought to myself "maybe just as well..." The heavy pallets of tiles kept magically disappearing though, while a tower of empty pallets grew on the ground... At the end of the workday, they were done. And on Friday when my delivery van arrived, there was nothing in the way on the driveway. So all went well!

The photo is from Friday afternoon. It's become a new habit of mine these past couple of weeks to walk around the building and "inspect the roof" in connection with my afternoon walk... Looks like next week will be about laying the big tile puzzle up there!


Sunday, 24 April 2022

Spring Has Sprung

A lot has happened in Nature over the past week. On Thursday, I went for a walk to post some postcards - and was surprised to "suddenly" find the cherry blossom trees in this little park in full bloom! I also found wood anemones in a little copse of wood nearby.


On Friday, I went on a little 'reconnaissance' adventure by bus. Bus routes in the city have recently been changed and stops/changing places moved, because of a big project to totally reconstruct the square which until now has served as main meeting place for all the city buses. Figuring out where to go instead just now is not all easy!

Moreover, one is nowadays supposed to use one's phone to find out how (and when) to travel from A to B by bus - and instructions when a journey requires a change of buses  are just now more confusing than ever. Where to get off bus 1 and where to board bus 2 may just now, in some cases, be quite a long walk apart.

The week after next I'm supposed to go across town again for my 4th covid vaccination. On top of changed bus routes, they've also recently moved the vaccination center. Having struggled with the travel app for a while without getting any suggestions that made sense, I decided I'd probably better do a trial run first, without the added stress of time pressure!

The route I tried involved 15+ min walk from home to the railway station, waiting there 5 min or so, 12 min by bus (to the Arena which used to serve as vaccination center, last year) - and then an additional 10 min walk from there to the new vacc. center. I can do that (at least this time of year, and in nice weather). I'm sure there must be quite a few older pensioners and disabled people for whom it means serious trouble, though. And just using the app on the phone, without being familiar with the geography, I could not have figured it out! (The route suggested by the app includes two buses, but still having to walk about the same distance in total...) 

Well, at least now I know. (And as pensioner, I travel free in the non-rush hours.)

There were some lovely cherry blossom trees in that part of town as well. 

And before I returned home (the same way, but reversed), I also made a little tour of the shopping malls and looked into a couple of fashion shops that are not represented in the city centre. Have to say that a lot of the fashion this spring still does not really impress me, though. I tried on a few items but in the end only bought one - more to reward myself for the effort than because I really needed it. But it does go with other existing items in my wardrobe!



Tuesday, 19 April 2022

A Noisy Day

After a quiet Easter weekend, this morning I was awakened early by a lot of banging outside. I still felt tired though, and as I knew the noise had legitimate cause (roof work on the building), I stayed in bed, turning the radio on. Somehow I must have fallen back to sleep (slumber) again, because next time I woke up (which I wouldn't have done if I'd stayed awake!), it was from a rather chaotic dream of being in a war zone... No need for advanced interpretation of why - with the war in Ukraine constantly on the news, the last book I read being about WWII, and now this going on outside my windows:

They've spent today stripping the roof of the old tiles, throwing those in a 'small' (well...) metal container up on the roof, which was then maneuvered down from there by a huge crane outside my windows, and (noisily) emptied into HUGE metal containers on the ground... They filled at least two such huge containers today.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the building, they were putting up some more scaffolding (involving other banging and drilling noises).  

It's been a lovely spring day outside, but what with that crane swinging heavy containers in the air outside our entrance most of the day, I ended up not going out until they had stopped... (No doubt they would have "let me out" safely - but since I had no special plans anyway, I just found it better to wait!)

I got some vacuuming done - trying to cancel out one kind of noise with another. I also cleaned my winter boots (I have several pairs, high and low and with different kinds of soles) and took most of those down to the basement storage room. (Hoping we won't have more snow now - even if one never really knows!) Then I ended up watching TV most of the afternoon until 4 p.m. And then I went out for my walk... 

For once, I think I'm quite happy with 'daylight saving time' this spring after all. ;)

Remains to be seen what tomorrow will be like. The degree of noise (and mess) is likely to vary quite a lot depending on what they're up to at the moment - it's just a bit hard to predict from day to day, especially since they're working on more than one building simultaneously.

Monday, 18 April 2022

Easter Weekend Walks

I haven't really "been anywhere" or done anything special for Easter - but the weather has been mostly sunny, and a bit of colour is beginning to come back into the world...

After lunch on Saturday, I walked into town and back, with my camera.

Scilla on a sunny slppe

Tussilago (Coltsfoot)

Pansies had been planted out in the park for Easter

Easter Tree in the main square

Various items on display outside a shop

Unauthorised graffiti rather than "art",
but still kind of hard not to smile back at...

Old stone cross with shadow in the old cemetery
 

Pansies near the chapel in the cemetery

 
In the afternoon of Easter Sunday, I went out without any special plan, but ended up taking a partly less familiar route - up a street over a hill and down on the other side. I hadn't brought my separate camera, but I had my phone...

 
Crocuses


 
A mural on a vacant demolition site. This is an "authorised" mural, painted at one of our art festivals some years ago - but back then, one had to enter an enclosed courtyard to see it. Now the old building that was facing the street has been torn down, giving a different setting to the artwork (plus some later graffiti added).

 
Walking back towards home along the river, I spotted a bird not usually seen there - an  oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus).  Or actually, two of them - as can be seen in the following photos. They are waders, and just now the water level in the river here is unusually low, after a long dry period with very little rain. Normally, they wouldn't be able to wade in this spot, I think! I regretted not having brought my proper camera, as in the glare of the sun, I couldn't really see the screen of my phone! But I snapped some random shots anyway, and they came out "ok".

 

Friday, 15 April 2022

Easter Greetings from the Past


These Easter cards, copied from my great-uncle Gustaf's postcard collection, are all from around 1916-17. In my Greetings from the Past blog you'll find the same cards one by one, together with the messages written on the back (pretty standard "Happy Easter" greetings, most of them). 

Then I started to also play around with them in Picasa3, putting them together two and two in collages - and decided to share those here.

And if anyone is wondering what witches have to do with Easter, here is the background:

In Sweden and Finland, there were old superstitions about witches flying on their brooms to Blockula (Bl√•kulla) on the Thursday before Easter (Maundy Thursday / Sk√§rtorsdagen), to meet with the Devil. When this was no longer taken too seriously, children would dress up as witches or old ladies (or old men) and go door to door distributing Easter greetings, and receiving treats in return - rather similar to British/ American Halloween traditions. There also used to be fires and fireworks on Easter Eve (originally to keep witches or evil spirits away). 

Back in my childhood (not quite 100 years ago - but 60!), visiting my grandmother at Easter, I'd sometimes dress up as a Witch as well. Or at least I did once! 

Photo by my dad or granddad; background drawing by my mum:

(If you think you've seen this before, you're probably right.)

On Easter Eve, after dark, my dad also used to set off a few fireworks in my grandparents' large garden. Traditions change, however, and nowadays, around here, bonfires are more common on Walpurgis night (30th April), and fireworks on New Year's Eve. I also don't usually see children dressed up as Easter witches now - except sometimes when the city has arranged a special Easter parade in the town square in the afternoon of Easter Eve.

I can't remember dressing up for Easter at home in the village where I lived with my parents - but that might be because we usually spent the Easter weekend with my grandparents. I do remember making "Easter drawings" at home though, and dropping those anonymously in the postboxes at friends' houses. (I had some playmates and classmates living along the same street.) I probably also received some. Those Easter drawings were always folded as triangles - no envelopes needed.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

The Neapolitan Novels (Book Review)

 

"Beginning with My Brilliant Friend, the four Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante follow Elena and Lila, from their rough-edged upbringing in Naples, Italy, not long after WWII, through the many stages of their lives—and along paths that diverge wildly. Sometimes they are separated by jealousy or hostility or physical distance, but the bond between them is unbreakable, for better or for worse." (Quote from the Amazon website)

THE NEAPOLITAN NOVELS
by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend (2012)
The Story of a New Name (2013)
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014)
The Story of the Lost Child (2015)

***

I found this "boxed set" of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels for Kindle at a temporary very low price  back in the autumn, and grabbed the opportunity to buy it, since I'd heard about them, and had also watched a TV series based on the first book in the series. (I think so far only the first season has been broadcasted on Swedish television.)

I read the first two parts in Nov-Dec 2021, and finished the last two in March. Have to say that for me, they didn't quite live up to my expectations from some of the enthusiastic reviews I'd read about the series. I wouldn't say they're not worth reading, but I did find the story sort of "sagging" along the way. The relationship between the two friends remains pretty much stuck in the same pattern through the years, rather than developing much, and I found it increasingly hard to truly sympathize with either of the main characters. (It's Elena narrating the story, though, so probably worth keeping in mind that we really only get to see Lila from her point of view, and her interpretations of what Lila says, and what other people say about Lila.) The book also involves a vast set of other characters, most of which also go by various nicknames, making it rather difficult to keep people apart and remember who is who - even though each book begins with a list of all the major families and characters involved. (Lila herself, for example, is only called Lila by Elena; most people call her Lina, but her birth name is Raffaella. And it's similar with most of the others!)

In the first book, we get to know Elena and Lila as little girls, growing up in poor circumstances in Naples. Elena admires Lila as being her "brilliant" friend, but as things turn out for them, it is Elena who finds a way to go on studying, moving away, and also making a name for herself as an author with a reputation going far beyond Naples. Lila on the other hand, gets married young, does not continue with any higher studies, and never leaves her home town. Later on in life, she still makes a business career in computer technology though. Elena too gets married, a bit later in life than her friend, to a professor. Both of the friends give birth to children and go through several relationships and separations with men over the years. They also both have a relationship with the same man (whom they both knew since childhood), but at different times in their lives. During some periods of their lives, they live far apart and only speak on the phone occasionally; during other periods they are neighbors and see each other daily. The balance/imbalance in their relationship keeps shifting a bit, but never really gets resolved. In some respects they may have been good for each other - in other respects not. In that way, I suppose many readers (myself included) can relate at least partly to old friendships of one's own. 

I guess the books also do give an insight into the history of Naples and the  'Camorra' (mafia-like criminal organization) influence on society there. Not being very familiar with Italy myself, I suppose I may be missing some of those points made. 


Sunday, 10 April 2022

Weekend Fashion Reflections

On a walk downtown last weekend, I snapped some shots of spring fashion on display in shop windows - and managed to catch some reflections of buildings across the square behind me at the same time.  

While "in my head" I've felt tempted to perhaps update my wardrobe with a new item or two for spring, I have to confess that the displays around town just now don't really encourage me to open up my wallet. 

 
Knitted or crocheted skirt with big holes in it, and ending in a long fringe?? And combined with a shiny sportsy-looking bomber jacket??

 
 Bulky knitted pullovers so short they'll leave your tummy bare??

Violently pink coat and bag together with orange trousers??

Hmm... I think I'd better hold on to whatever is already in my wardrobe, and await the next fashion change...

 

 Linking to Weekend Street/Reflections (#63)

Weekend Reflections



Saturday, 9 April 2022

Behind Closed Curtains

 

It's been a strange kind of week. Rain one day, snow the next. (Or snow during the night, and rain and slush during the day.) On top of that, sometimes Men At Work stomping about outside my windows, and sometimes not. "Step by step" the scaffolding around the building has kept growing, though. An outdoors staircase has now also come up right outside the window in my study.

While they are At Work, I draw the curtains. Still not very inspiring to spend much time in that room while they're busy climbing about on that side of the building, though...

Luckily, my flat runs across the building; I can usually be rather flexible with my own activities; and out of my four rooms (including kitchen), the study is really where having a staircase to the roof outside the window will probably bother me the least. 

Just now, I'm taking advantage of the weekend to catch up with various desk and computer jobs. If you don't see me about much in the blog world during the weeks for a while, I may still be there lurking in the background, though (reading on my tablet or phone but skipping most of the commenting).

 

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Communication

 

Pettson & Findus by Sven Nordqvist
(postcard)

Back in mid March, in the Postcrossing 'lottery' I drew an address in Russia. PC has a 'postal monitor' that keeps track of which countries don't send or receive mail (for reasons of war or corona or whatever); but back then, Sweden had not yet stopped sending mail to Russia. A week or so later, that changed.

On their profile, the person had added apologies "for what is done by my country" but also said that with the motto "people should talk to people" s/he had decided to go on with postcrossing, hoping s/he wouldn't be shut up.

I sent the postcard above (chosen based on the person's wish-list), although in doubt whether it would ever reach its destination. I kept the message neutral. 

Today I got a Postcrossing email that the card had been received:



A reminder that not everyone in the country is behind the actions by their government.

 

Monday, 4 April 2022

Visiting an Art Gallery

 

Today we've had a mix of snow (!) and rain here, and I haven't set foot outdoors.The photo above is from Saturday. Then I went for a walk into town, and passed these spring flowers on the way. The whole month of March was very dry here, and the water level in the river is low at the moment. So no reason to complain about a bit of rain today - but going back to snow did seem rather unnecessary this morning. (It's already gone again now, though.)

Downtown, on Saturday, I visited a small art gallery, situated in a charming old wooden building (one of very few old wooden houses in our town center, as most of those were destroyed in fires in previous centuries). 

 


 

The photos above are from the inner courtyard; the entrance to the gallery is to the right in the second picture. 

The current exhibition mixes sculptures by one artist (Annika Wennberg) and paintings by another (Louise Villa). I'm not familiar with either of them since before, I just saw an article in the local newspaper in connection with the opening of this exhibition.

The rough wooden sculptures weren't really "my cup of tea"...
But I liked some of the paintings.

 
This one, entitled "The Message", was my favourite. If I had had the right space for it, I would have been tempted to buy it. In reality, though, it's probably the kind of painting that, once up on the wall, would not only require changing other paintings and wall hangings around, but might even demand new furniture, carpet, curtains and who-knows-what... ;)

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