Sunday, 26 February 2023

In Memoriam


This image turned up for me on Facebook one day this week. I hope I'm not infringing on any copyright by re-posting it. (If I am, I'm probably not the first...) 

Friday was the day for my friend G's funeral, held in her church in Karlstad. I'd have wanted to be there; but did not feel up to the journey - in winter weather and all.

I sent the image at the top to her husband. He texted me back the title of a poem that was going to be read at the funeral (then in Swedish translation). I looked it up online and found it to be very much in the same spirit.

Death is nothing at all, by Henry Scott Holland (1847-1928)

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner.

All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

(Copied from Wikipedia)

I moved to Karlstad to study (three terms of secretary college, to begin with) in 1975 (20 years old). In my spare time I joined a youth gospel choir in a church situated only a few minutes walk from where I lived the first year. That's where I got to know G - and made many other friends as well. As things turned out, I stayed nearly 10 years in K-d (working and studying); and even after I moved away - while G stayed, and got married - we remained close friends. We continued to exchange long letters and phone calls, and also visited each other now and then. Later we switched  to emails instead of letters. As we got older still, and various health issues increased for both of us, we met less often in person. Text communication got shorter too (mostly via a phone app the last few years) - but we still kept in touch. The last time we met "in real life" was last summer, when I was in K-d on holiday with my brother. I'm so thankful we managed to arrange that.

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

The Annual Book Sale

The weather is still in fickle mood here, and I'm getting tired of keeping up with it. (It think it was on Sunday I was out in a wintry snow shower for a while - wet snow, so it didn't last - while yesterday was dry but with chilly strong winds blowing.)

Today, however, was sunny - even if still a bit windy - and I went for a nice walk into town. Every year towards the end of February we have a nation-wide book sale in Sweden. It's been an annual event all my life, and I think the tradition goes back even further. My parents used to take advantage of it back in my childhood to buy books for me and my brother (and probably some for themselves as well). And most years of my adult life I've probably visited a book shop myself during this week. This year's sale started today, so I made the book shop in the city centre the goal of my walk. Had it been too crowded I might have turned around, as I wasn't looking for anything special, and my bookshelves are over-full since before. (Not to mention all the books waiting on my Kindle!) But the shop was not all that crowded, so I did go in... and once in, of course I didn't manage to get back out empty-handed...

The book on the right is a book of short stories by Tove Jansson - probably best known world-wide for her Moomin books and comic strips (later also turned into popular TV cartoons for children). But she also wrote other novels and short stories and was also a painter. (It's a self-portrait of hers on the book cover.) 

The two on the left are history books - both by the same author, a popular Swedish historian. One about World War II; the other about a 14th century nun, St Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373), canonized as saint in 1391. There were several more in the series on sale, but I managed to restrain myself to "just" buying these two. (For now...)

I also couldn't resist to pick up some really cheap notebooks with nice photo covers, on display just by the cash register.

Tomorrow is laundry day for me, plus also looks like we may expect "stay-in-and-read" kind of weather again. So perhaps I'll get started on one of my purchases between my turns to the laundry room... 

Saturday, 18 February 2023

After the Storm


Storm "Otto" passed by here last night. Fortunately, here in the inland, it doesn't seem to have wreaked too much havoc. (Worse in some places closer to the coast, I think.) Still left quite a bit of detritus here and there though...

Today the sun has been shining, the wind not too bad any more, and I was able to go for a walk into town after lunch. I bought myself a new bunch of tulips, as the ones from last week had given up.

No, I don't buy myself tulips (or other flowers) every week... That would be a rather expensive habit in the long run! But in February, with Christmas behind us, and Easter still some time away, we tend to turn to tulips here, in early anticipation of spring... And seeing them on display in or outside the flower shops, this time of year, I'm always reminded of how my mum used to get tulips for her birthday, which was 20 February. After she died, I've fallen into the habit of buying some for myself instead (if I have the opportunity).

The bouquet I bought last week was a week early - but then I was thinking of Valentine's day, and also of my friend  who passed away at the end of January, but who would otherwise have celebrated her 70th birthday last weekend. ♥


Thursday, 16 February 2023

Book Review: 'By the Sea' Novels by Kay Bratt






I read/listened to the first of these two novels by Kay Bratt a couple of years ago, but never wrote a proper review of it. Recently I came across No 2 also at a Kindle+Audible bargain price. When I started listening to it I soon realized that I had forgotten too much of the first book (had no real recollection of who was who and how they related to each other). So took a step back, and re-listened to No 1, before I started over with No 2. 

1. True to Me

When Quinn Maguire's mother is dying, she asks Quinn to take her ashes back to the island of Maui, Hawaii, where she was born. On her deathbed, she also reveals that Quinn's father is not the man she previously told her that it was. Quinn decides to fulfill her mother's wishes (taking her ashes to Maui), and also hopes to explore her real family history while she is there. Before she leaves, she uses her inheritance to buy a house on the island, without having seen it in real life first. When she gets there, a surprise awaits her: The previous owners are still there, with nowhere to go... It was not they who put the house up for sale, but the bank (as they were in debt). The temporary solution is that Quinn moves into her own small guesthouse, while the previous family stays on in the main house, helping her get some renovations on that building started. For that purpose, they also take help from a friend, Liam - who also soon becomes a good friend to Quinn. It's all a whole new world to Quinn as a lot of things turn out to be done very differently on Maui than what she's used to. Family bonds are strong, and her own search for her family roots take several surprising twists and turns along the way, as the true story turns out more complicated than she ever suspected. 

2. No Place Too Far

Quinn has stayed on in Maui and is running a hotel there; still bonding with and "getting to know" her Hawaiian family that she found in the first book. Some complications arise, which makes her unsure about whether it's really the right thing for her to continue staying on there, though. Perhaps it would be better for everyone if she returned to her old life on the mainland - or even to start over again somewhere else entirely... 

A parallel story in this book is about Quinn's best friend Maggie - who appeared in the first book too, but then only to visit Quinn in Maui. Now she too has moved to the island, with her young son, in an attempt to escape a stalker. She gets a job, and is beginning to settle down - but escaping a stalker just by moving far away proves not as easy as she had hoped for, in this digital age of ours...

Both women end up facing similar dilemmas (besides themselves, also involving their families and close friends): To "run away" (again), or to stay and find a way to fight things out, and resolve the problems.

I found myself liking (and "getting") the first book better on the second reading (probably more to do with "me" than with the book itself), and am glad I took the extra time to reread that one before I finished No 2. Therefore, my advice to others would also be to read them in order - and perhaps not too far apart. ;-) While both books come across as "easy reads" in some aspects, at the same time there are more layers to the stories than is obvious at first. 

There is a third book in the series, but I think I'll wait a while. (Maybe one day that one too turns up at double-deal bargain price...?)


I have read and reviewed another series of books by Kay Bratt before: The Scavenger's Daughters, set in China. (The link goes to my review of those, from two years ago.)


Wednesday, 15 February 2023

Tulip Surprise

Among the tulips I bought for myself back on Saturday, one turned out to be "special". 

Can you spot it?

Here's a clue: There are usually ten tulips in a bunch. How many do you see above?

One of them is a "twin"!
Ten stalks, but eleven flowers...

(In the photo of the whole bouquet, the twins are the two slightly smaller ones on the right.) 

Below are a couple of more tulip photos - "just because I took them"... ;)

Monday, 13 February 2023

No Snow!


For the first time since my vertigo incident back in mid January, I ventured out for a walk without the back-up safety of an "extra leg" or two (= trekking poles)... After a few days in a row with temperatures above freezing point, streets and walk paths in the city - and even  park lawns like this - are now free of snow and ice. (For how long, remains to be seen!)

Saturday, 11 February 2023

Spring in the Air

Winter still can't make up its mind here. After a week of all kinds of variations of snow-ice-rain-slush (and whatever), today the ground was almost bare, and the temperature up around +8'C, with almost a feeling a spring in the air; and I ventured out on a walk into town. 

Hard to tell from this photo of people having lunch or coffee outdoors that it's February. If I zoom out a little, though...

... you can see there's even still a bit of snow left on the ground...

Valentine's decorations in the window of my favourite tea-shop. (Yes, I did go in... I needed a refill of two of my favourites.) 

 I also bought myself a bouquet of tulips. 

 I'm not in the habit of doing much decorating for Valentine's Day, but I usually keep some of my "Christmas reds" past that day. (Like this table runner with hearts on it.)

Linking to Weekend Street/Reflections 

Weekend Reflections

Monday, 6 February 2023

A Sunny Day


The "every other day" kind of weather continues. Yesterday (Sunday) it snowed some more, and I did not set foot outside. Today (Monday), the world was still white when I woke up - but to my relief the sun was also shining again. 

The main reason why I felt relieved was that I had spent a week worrying if I should cancel an annual dentist checkup scheduled for today - or not. But my weather app kept insisting that Monday was likely to be the best weather day in the foreseeable future; and so I had decided to keep it. 

Glad I did, as now it's over and done with. I left home a quarter of an hour earlier than I would have done if the ground had been free of snow and ice. That proved a good idea, but got me into town without stress. Had the pleasure of meeting my "old" dentist (who retired a couple of years ago), temporarily filling in for my "new" dentist, who is on maternal leave. And the even greater pleasure of him finding nothing wrong with my teeth. (It was a routine checkup, and I've been feeling okay since I got the last crown fitted back in the autumn.) So in the end I just paid a rather hefty sum of money for a bit of a chat, and having my teeth polished ;-)  As nothing else needed doing, though, there was actually a bit more chatting than usual, both with the dentist and with the nurse. (Chatting at the dentist's usually difficult, as it mostly tends to consist of them asking questions and oneself gurgling something unintelligible in return, with one's mouth numb and full of their instruments and fingers...) 

No teeth removed or replaced on this visit!

My walk there and back was also quite pleasant, even if I had to take it slow (and keep my eyes on the ground a lot). First two photos from crossing the city park on my way into town; the others taken on my way back, then choosing another path along the river.

Sunday, 5 February 2023

A Winter Grave - (Audio) Book Review


Peter May's new book is set a few decades into the future from now (2051); with some "flashbacks" to our own time. It starts with a young meteorologist (female) discovering the body of a man entombed in ice when she's checking a mountain top weather station in Scotland. A detective from Glasgow, Cameron Brodie, volunteers to go up there to investigate the murder case. He has his own private reasons for choosing to embark on this hazardous mission. As readers, we get to know what they are - but his superiors don't...

The futuristic setting serves to assume that climate changes have kept progressing since our own time, and also that technology has kept being developed a bit further. No so much as to seem really unrealistic, though. The story involves a sort of automatic AI helicopter (a programmed air taxi without a pilot aboard), and also a new kind of 'virtual reality' glasses (looking like normal ones, so their multi-functions not obvious to everyone). 

Brodie's personal interest in the case turns out to go deeper than he even suspected himself, and the story of course takes several twists and turns before the end. Suspense is kept up throughout, and at the same time we also get vivid images of the landscape and climate in which it is set. 

I chose to get this book as audio book, as I know from previous listening experience that Peter Forbes is a superb narrator of Peter May's stories - and especially those set in Scotland. His dialect enhances the impression of "being there".

Saturday, 4 February 2023

Winter Again

Winter this year seems to be having an identity crisis: It keeps jumping back and forth between grey and rainy - sunny and bare - dramatic snowstorms - sunny and white... 

Thursday: No snow, and the river like a mirror...

Friday: Snowstorm

Yesterday (Friday) we had a proper snowstorm going on. I woke up to a message from my supermarket saying that "if you have ordered a home delivery from us today, you may expect delays due to the weather". However, I turned out to be among the first customers in my "time slot" (10-13), and received my goods shortly after 10 am. (As I live rather close to the supermarket from where I order, I tend to be either at the top or the bottom of the list.) So personally I could just let myself be snowed in for the rest of the day quite comfortably. But messages from the local newspaper kept popping in all day about various kinds of traffic chaos. For at least half the day, all the buses within the city were also cancelled. (What people did who really had to get across town, for work or whatever, I don't know!)

It seems to me that in spite of all our modern technology, we keep getting worse rather than better at dealing with the white stuff inevitably falling from the sky sometimes in winter...


Today, with the sun shining, the snow just lay there, fresh and innocent-looking, like saying: "Really, I don't know what you're all getting so frazzled about..." (Photos from a midday slow walk around the nearby cemetery.)

Afternoon photo from my balcony. According to the weather forecasts, more snow on its way for tomorrow...


Thursday, 2 February 2023

This and That

A glimpse of the sun again today, and frosty outside in the morning. I decided to take the opportunity to defrost my freezer - which wasn't all that full at the moment, but will be fuller again tomorrow, after a new delivery of groceries. 

While at work, I was wondering to myself how people in warmer climates go about it. (Maybe some of my readers can enlighten me!) Myself, I always try to do it in winter, when I can put the food out on the balcony while I'm at it...

Everything back in the freezer again after lunch, and having rested a while, I celebrated by going out in the sun for a bit.

Can you see me??

Standing on the bridge, looking at my shadow!

I think I've mentioned they've been painting the stairwells in my building in January. The job seems to be finished now, as they've taken down all the signs warning us of wet paint. I'm a little bit disappointed, though, as I find the new colour scheme rather dull: just dark grey and white. I never thought of taking a "before" photo (I didn't really know what they were up to until they'd already started) but the lower part used to be... er... hmm... (How quickly one forgets?!) The lower part was a pale green I think, but with a border adding a bit of pink and yellow too. It was all brighter, anyway. The new lift/elevator doors are steely grey, too; and those used to be pink! But yes, it did need freshening up; so I shouldn't complain. Just looks so very "strict" now with all the dark grey... 

Update on my friend in hospital (far away in another city): She's starting to recover enough from her surgery to be sighing a little on FB over the hospital being crowded (sharing what's really supposed to be a single room with another patient), and longing to be back home. Reminds me of how I felt myself after a different kind of surgery back in 2006. (Back then no smartphones for venting one's feelings with the outside world.) Others with hospital experience can probably relate as well: That "tipping point" between being sick enough to just be grateful to be taken care of... but as soon as one starts feeling just a little bit better, can't wait to get out of there asap...  


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