Friday, 30 June 2023

Puddles and Playtime


Puddle with tree reflections, and leaves from a nearby hedge that had just been trimmed - to illustrate that the heat wave and drought seems to have ended for now. Rain showers and temperatures around 18°C (64°F) expected for the next week or so... (So far it just feels refreshing. Remains to be seen how long that feeling lasts...!) 

In an earlier post on The Importance of Water I mentioned how staff at the cemetery often leave water dripping here and there for the birds during the drought. Below is another photo to illustrate that. They also often leave a watering can below the tap to collect some of that water. Then the next person who needs a full can of water can take that one, and put an empty one under the tap instead.

This photo also proved a good one for experimenting with that automatic 'clipping' feature that I accidentally discovered yesterday on my phone:


Today I experimented a bit further and learned that with the Paint program on my laptop, I can make the background black (or some other colour) instead of transparent/white.

And below is yet another such photo experiment:

Thursday, 29 June 2023

Nothing New Under the Sun

My days (and nights) this week have still felt very much focused just on keeping doors and windows open or shut, balcony parasols up or down, various fans around the flat on or off, and myself in or out, active or passive, depending on 1/ the sun and heat, 2/ the possiblity of rain, and 3/ a neighbour's screeching bird, barking dog + loud phone conversations in some foreign language (on the balcony)... And someone - possibly not the same neighbour but another one also has a squeaky balcony door...

These words from the book of Ecclesiastes keep coming to mind:

The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.

(from Ecclesiastes chapter 1 - New International Version)

I think it was on Monday we had warnings of thunder, hard winds and torrential rain. Not very much came of it, though. There were indeed one or two very strong gusts of wind in the afternoon - which made me haste to take in my outdoor flowering plants from the balcony over night. No thunder, though (that I heard), and the rain that followed was gentle, fell straight down, and soon evaporated again after hitting the ground.

Tuesday was Too Hot again, but also offered another light shower or two. I can't recall the details - it was also One Of Those Days (described above). I think that's when I took the photo of the leaf with the raindrops, though. (Which indicates that I must have gone out at some point. I think probably towards evening, after the rain...)

Just now, trying to check up on photo details, I accidentally managed to do THIS on my phone (just by pressing my finger on the photo):

(Okay. Maybe that counts as "something new"...??)

Where was I?!  Wednesday (yesterday) was sunny and too hot again, but I managed to get out for a short walk before noon. The afternoon was Laundry Day, but in between it was mostly quiet, so not too bad from that respect...

Today I woke up to overcast sky and lower temperatures, and was able to go for a refreshing rainy walk in the late morning, to the supermarket + pharmacy for a few things. Actually quite a lovely experience! Again it was the gentle kind of rain, and a rain jacket + umbrella was enough protection. (I also had to change my trousers when I got back in, but never mind. It was worth it!!)

All in all I've been staring at the TV quite a lot, but without much recollection of what I've been watching. I'm re-watching the classic series Friends on one of my cable channels in the evenings,though (two episodes per night) - that's about the right level for me at the moment, not requiring any effort to keep up with. Even on Kindle and Audio I've mostly been "re-reading" books too, rather than trying to get into something new.

Sunday, 25 June 2023

Quiet Midsummer


Midsummer in Sweden is a popular holiday weekend, with Midsummer Eve always celebrated on a Friday, which is not officially a public (bank) holiday, but generally treated as such a day anyway. Traditionally it is celebrated with people gathering in the afternoon and/or evening to play and dance around a pole decoraded with leaves and flowers. City centres are practically deserted, while the coast and anywhere near a lake is likely to be crowded.

Sometimes in the past I've visited afternoon midsummer celebrations at our museum park with old cottages; but not since the pandemic. The only photo I'm able to find just now is this one below, from 2014 (possibly even older).

They had a similar event in that park this year too, in the afternoon of Midsummer Eve; but I was tired and did not feel up for neither the walk there and back again, nor for mingling with a lot of people. Although this weekend hasn't really been excessively hot, I still soon get enough of being out and about during the hottest hours of the afternoon.

What I have been enjoying this weekend though, is the (relative) quiet that comes with quite a few neighbours being away... Not all of them: there have still been kids playing in the nearby football field until late in the evenings. But, for example, a wall-to-wall neighbour and their 'menagerie' (consisting of a frequently screeching bird + a sometimes howling/barking dog) have been away for four days, and that does make a difference... 

And a general fire/barbecue ban (because of the drought) also means no one has been throwing parties on the lawn just outside my building. 

My own balcony is still way too hot all afternoon, though, so I've not been out there much except to water my plants (usually late in the evening).

The flowers in the top photo, with the flag, are not mine; it's a photo I snapped during one of my walks. They belong to an apartment complex (condominium kind) down by the river.

Yellow water lilies are in bloom in the river itself.


Before the weekend, I bought some ice cream. My vegan favourite when I can get it is vanilla ice cream made from oats (brand called Oatly). Not only because they sometimes come with "questionable words of wisdom" hidden under the lid... ;-) The other ingredient in the glass above is a mango/passion sorbet (of other brand). - What's your favourite?

Friday, 23 June 2023

An Offline Day

Earlier this week, I posted about "screen time"... Kind of ironically, yesterday, I woke up to find myself without wifi internet connection. And the basic trick of restarting the router did not help (as it often does if there's just been a temporary glitch). 

Strange how this immediately makes me feel oddly disconnected from the rest of the world these days - even with electricity, radio and TV still working...!

Not least my morning felt a bit odd, because for one thing I nowadays subscribe to my morning newspaper online only, and for another, after breakfast it's in my usual routine to check various other online things (emails, blogs, my daily Duolingo Spanish lesson, and whatnot). 

When the internet still hadn't come back on after a couple of hours, it dawned on me that I could still connect to the world by turning on mobile data on my phone, though. I rarely use mobile data as I'm rarely away from home for more than a couple of hours at a time. So I don't subscribe to very much of it - but I also had hardly used any of what I did have...

So I checked my broadband supplier's website, and found that the problem was affecting all their customers in my town and that they were working on it. I kept checking in for updates during the day. Around noon they had established that the fault was with the "cooling system" at their local subcontractor... A couple of hours later, that the subcontractor had had to order some replacement equipment. Next update (around 3 pm), that the equipment would not arrive until around 7 pm. Around 8 pm, I noticed that I my wifi connection was back on again - and the website informed me that it had been fixed since around 7:30.

As adventures go, not much of an ordeal to brag about! However, it did make me consider that it may be about time that I exchange my prepaid phone card for a monthly subscription (also including a little more mobile data). Even if just to feel a bit more secure when things like this happen. (My broadband phone, from the same supplier, was also not working during this outage.) Besides, one's phone number is demanded for so many things these days that I'd hate to lose the number just by perhaps missing to renew my prepaid period on time. (That's never happened so far, but after all I'm not getting any younger...)

Wednesday, 21 June 2023

The Importance of Water


Some time early on in the history of my almost daily walks around and across the old cemetery close to where I live (since 15 years now), I recall wondering to myself why they kept the taps at their "watering stations" in such bad repair - always leaking...

Just as I'm not sure when I first asked myself that question, I'm also not sure how long it took me to come up with the answer: It is of course for the birds inhabiting all the big old trees. And other small animals, likes squirrels. And even the insects...

This very dry summer, it all seems a lot more obvious!


Insect hotels (photos from 2022)


“Thousands have lived without love,
not one without water.”
– H. Auden

“When the well’s dry,
we know the worth of water.”
– Benjamin Franklin


Tuesday, 20 June 2023

Screen Time


At the beginning of each week, my new phone (the one I bought back in March) keeps presenting me with statistics of my "screen time" for the previous week. I've not yet bothered to figure out if there is a way to turn off these reports, even though that thought does pop up in my head every week too. It's also a weekly reminder of the famous quote about lies and statistics... You know: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statitstics..." (Often ascribed to Mark Twain, but I seem to recall reading somewhere that it was really someone else who said it before him.) 

To return to my phone statistics, they are all lies as all they might show is how much I've been checking my phone screen. It obviously has no idea that I also own a tablet, a laptop, and a TV - which I look at a lot more. Moreover, the phone doesn't even tell the truth about how much I use the phone, because it obviously also does not count all the hours that I spend listening to audio books from it (with the screen black). 

Which all just makes me wonder why they bother about these "digital health" statistics at all. Because I'm pretty sure that even most kids probably usually have access to more screens than their own phone during the week...

Ah well. Just a reflection towards the end of another hot summer day that I've spent mostly indoors with various screens, between turns to the laundry room...

PS. I also haven't got a clue where the phone statistics go once I've seen them; which is why I can't include a picture of them. Instead, I give you a photo of a 'dog rose' from the cemetery. (More worth staring at for a while than the statistics, anyway...)


Sunday, 18 June 2023



Weather report continuing: Friday was a bit more cloudy, but still very hot. In the afternoon I heard one (1) clash of distant thunder and we got a few drops of rain (just 5 minutes or so). Nothing more came of that, though. The temperature did not drop, and yesterday (Saturday) we were again up to at least 28°C in the afternoon. I tried a walk before lunch but just felt exhausted, so cut it short. And didn't get anything "done" at home either...

Today, at last, we had a change to somewhat cooler temperatures and have even been blessed with a bit of gentle rain, though. No thunder, no strong winds, and just a light drizzle on and off - but it was the first rain at all since 23 May (according to our local newspaper); and that's a  long time without rain in this city, with a well-known reputation for being the rainiest in Sweden.

So felt like quite a novelty today to put on a rain jacket and grab an umbrella for a walk into town. Although a distance I'm normally well used to walking, during the worst of the heatwave it has seemed too long... But I was relieved to find that at 18°C it felt okay again!

Since the National Day celebrations on 6th June, they've changed the plants in the flowerbeds in the park from "spring" to "summer".

From a distance I thought this bush had yellow flowers, but when I got close, I saw that it was the leaves that had turned yellow. As another bush of the same kind nearby (but not in the picture) was still green, I suppose the drought is to blame...

I also went into the city centre itself to have a look at the building that was severely damaged by a fire just over a week ago. There was still a smell of smoke lingering in that neighbourhood ; and even though it was Sunday, there were guys at work putting up scaffolding for inspections and repairs.

Thursday, 15 June 2023

Hot Update


The hot and dry weather continues. Writing this around 6 pm on Thursday, and it's still 28'C (82'F) outdoors (and 25/77 indoors).  My legs are telling me they wouldn't mind going for an evening stroll, but my head is saying no. We tried that yesterday but even though keeping in the shadow as much as possible, it still just felt too hot! At the moment it's not until after sunset (around 10 pm) that the outdoors temperature drops below that indoors - and that, for other reasons, feels too late for me to be out and about.

The azaleas have dropped almost every flower now, and the rhododendrons are about to give up now too.

There are millions of elm seeds covering the cemetery right now. We'd be wading in them if not for churchyard workers/gardeners doing their best to keep things neat... (I took the photo of this heap because it's shaped almost like a heart!)

So I'm still in that dilemma that I think I've already sighed about before: Everything just now is best done in the early morning - and that includes sleep...

There are still daily reports of fires from the countryside and forests around our town - and buildings too. The other day, there was one just a couple of streets away from where I live. It seems the damage there was limited to just one flat though (and I don't know the cause). 

As for the big fire in the city centre on Friday last week, the whole top floor  of that building with twelve flats got totally destroyed, and even shops on the ground floor are still closed. I haven't been down to the city centre myself since it happened, I've just seen photos and read about it in the local newspaper. 

All in all I haven't done much this week. On Monday I think I managed an afternoon stroll around the cemetery. (I must have, because I seem to have photos to prove it.) On Tuesday morning (well, before noon anyway), I walked to the supermarket for a few things. I forgot to bring a bottle of tap water with me (which I try always to remember when I go out in hot summer weather). So I bought a bottle at the store. Tried to open that on the way home - but could not manage to get it open! Now I've added a piece of anti-slip (rubber) material to the necessities to carry with me in my handbag... ;)

Yesterday was my weekly laundry day, and even with both the tumble drier and the drying cabinet going in the basement laundry room, that felt cooler than upstairs, so I did not mind! I also took the opportunity to wash my duvet, as at the moment I don't use it anyway - just an empty cover... (Washing and tumble-drying it went well though. So it's ready for use when I need it again...)

Today's only adventure was a short stroll to the recycling bins and the nearest small convenience shop in the late morning. Like 7-8 min away but I still found myself criss-crossing to keep in the shadow as far as possible.

The next few days seem likely to continue in a similar pattern: My main job still being to try and keep both myself and my flat as cool as possible...

Saturday, 10 June 2023

Dramatic Graduation Day

Yesterday, Friday 9 June, was Graduation day here in Sweden. Every country has its own traditions to celebrate high school / upper secondary school graduation, I suppose - and here it includes wearing special white hats, running out from school class-wise, getting greeted by friends and family on the school yard, and then go riding around town on the back of lorries or other open vehicles, making a lot of noise. We did this even back in my day (49 years ago), and they're still doing it - just making even more noise these days (or so at least it seems to me...)

At my own graduation (7 June 1974), it was rather chilly, and even raining. Yesterday's graduates here got perfect weather for the event, sunny and yet not quite as hot as earlier in the week. Myself, I did not know any student (graduate) personally (it's been a long time since I last did); but when I went out for a walk in the afternoon, I could hear the noises from far off, and decided to go towards the city centre and see if I could get a glimpse of the parade of vehicles. Actually I did not have to go very far at all to suddenly find myself in what seemed to be the centre of total chaos - which somewhat surprised me, as I seemed to recall that it's usually another street that is used for the main parade. Where they were driving now they were also mingling with lots of ordinary buses and cars not having any other choice. It seemed a bit odd (and not very well planned) but on the other hand, it's been years since I was last "attending" the event, so I didn't give it all that much thought (just "inwardly shook my head" a bit)...

Photos taken on my way downtown - a parked vehicle in a nearby street + a close-up of a lot of litter ('confetti'...) on the ground... (Who's going to clean that up, I wonder?!)

Ooops - suddenly here is all the action, and they seemed to be basically driving back and forth between two roundabouts at each end of a street also quite busy with normal traffic...

You have to imagine the noise: Constant honking of car horns (and possibly other instruments as well), plus hundreds of people shouting or singing at the top of their voices... 

For the top and bottom left photos in the last collage I went up the hill (to the right in the bottom right photo) and took the photos looking down from an old cemetery up there. Then I went back home, as I felt I had seen (and not least heard) enough, and found no reason to continue down to the city centre. 

 In the other cemetery, closer to home, sprinklers are on in various places pretty much all day now, because of the drought.

I took this shot of the football (soccer) field close to home, to show you just how dry the ground is when not being watered... And another dry "roadside" photo below:

Along my walk, more than once, I also heard sirens, which could mean either police or fire engines. Both seemed likely enough, on a day like this...

Checking my phone after I got home, I had an 'SOS' message, indicating a fire in central town. I checked the local newspaper app + local radio to find out more. At first it seemed to be "just" a fire on a balcony of an apartment on the top floor of a building (started by a barbecue) - but it soon spread over the whole top floor. All those living there had to be evacuated, and customers in the shops on the ground floor as well - and other shops in the neighbourhood had to close too because of the smoke. People living in the area were advised to stay indoors and shut doors and windows; and visitors to leave. The fire proved hard to put out, they worked on it all afternoon and evening and it wasn't until very late in the evening that it was considered safe. The top floor I understand was totally demolished, and probably apartments below damaged by smoke as well, and perhaps even the shops down on street level.

The two photos below I found online; published by one of our national evening tabloids.(Aftonbladet)

 Räddningstjänsten är på plats i Borås med ett tiotal enheter.


I learned later that the outbreak of the fire was why the graduation parade had to be redirected to the "off centre" street where I came across it - which explains the mix with ordinary traffic in that totally chaoitic way. Normally they would have been using a street now suddenly needed for fire engines and other rescue vehicles.
Some time after I got home, a sweet teenage girl from the Muslim family living above me knocked on my door to tell me they would be having a graduation party in the evening, for her brother - "just so you don't have to wonder what we're up to". I said I would probably have been able to guess :) and told her about having been out to see the parade. It was she who first confirmed for me that they'd have to move the parade because of the fire.

Fortunately the smoke from the fire was not blowing in our direction, but I ended up keeping my windows and balcony door closed most of the evening anyway - which also pretty much shut out noise from celebrating neighbours both indoors and outdoors. As for the family above me, I continue to be amazed at how little noise they normally make. I long ago lost count of how many children there are (or have been) in the family, because ever since they first moved in (many years ago now) there's seemed to be a constant range of them from babies to upper teens (with older ones moving out and new ones born). But I rarely hear anything from them except sometimes coming or going up/down the stairs (but they often use the lift which I don't hear). Even with their graduation "party" now there was just a bit of music in the early hours of the evening (and with my balcony door closed I hardly heard even that) + a little bit of extra noise from feet running back and forth over my head for a while. None of it lasting very late. I kind of doubt that anyone else but this particular family would even have thought it necessary to issue "warnings"!

To finish off this post, here is a collage from my own rainy graduation back in 1974. Me and my classmates were riding on that truck in the two bottom photos. However, as I recall it, we were pretty much just sitting down quietly rather than jumping up and down and shouting... (But then we were a rather well-behaved all girls class all through those three years!)

I did not have a graduation party, nor did I go to anyone else's, because the next morning, I was off on 3 weeks holiday to Britain with my parents and brother - the last long family holiday with all four of us.

Thursday, 8 June 2023

Summer Heat

We've been in a long period of unusually sunny weather and drought in the southern parts of Sweden this spring/early summer. Not all that noticeable yet in the still fresh greenery in our town parks (being watered regularly), but on the news there are daily reports of fires, and farmers getting increasingly worried about their crops etc.

Yesterday was one of the warmest afternoons here so far (~27'C/81'F); which means I've now entered the stage of constantly trying to keep the sun and heat out of my flat, and spending my time indoors in summer semi darkness with blinds down, curtains closed, and fans in every room (not all of them whirring around the clock, though).

The kitchen (morning sun) is the only room where I don't need to keep the blinds down all day. The top left photo is my bedroom window (also morning sun), where on top of blinds I also have 'blackout' curtains drawn in the night (and still half-drawn in the daytime). In the living room (bottom left, afternoon sun) I have a blackout curtain in front of the balcony door (and two parasols outside, when wind conditions allow). In the study (also afternoon sun) no blackout curtains (as then I wouldn't see a thing in here) but blinds down around the clock  + now  the white curtains drawn as well... 

The major downside of hot summer weather is that the best time of day for getting anything done (whether indoors or outdoors) is the morning. Unfortunately, that's also the time when I usually get my best sleep...

In the mid afternoon on hot summer days, I often end up sitting behind drawn blinds and curtains watching episodes of the British TV show "A Place in the Sun", i.e. Brits looking for homes (or holiday homes) in places like southern Spain or Portugal. More often than not, they seem to enter a flat or house and immediately react with complaining that it's "too dark". Myself, I think what I'd look for first of all in that climate would be air conditioning and ways to seek shade...! ;-) (In Swedish homes AC is rare though, as the summer is after all fairly short - and sometimes also more rainy than sunny.)

Yesterday was laundry day for me, so I also spent parts of the afternoon down in the (fairly cool) basement, and didn't go out until 5 p.m. - and then just for a stroll around the nearby cemetery with big old trees providing plenty of shadow.


Today (one or two degrees cooler) I may venture out a bit earlier (soon after I've pressed "send" on this post). Will probably still be seeking shadow rather than sun, though...

Tuesday, 6 June 2023

6th June, Sweden's National Day


Today is 6th June, Sweden's National Day, and this year "extra special" since it's exactly 500 years since Gustav Vasa / Gustav I was elected king here; which is considered the foundation of "modern" (?) Sweden. The day has only been called National Day since 1983, though - before that it was celebrated as 'Swedish Flag Day'. And it wasn't until as late as 2005 that 6th June also got the status of public holiday. 

This year it's also 50 years since our current king Carl XIV Gustaf ascended the throne on the death of his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf (15 September 1973). So even more reasons to celebrate and wave flags about...

I remembered to put my small flag out on the balcony this morning (top photo); and there it's been waving in the wind all day.

We also got a perfect weather day for such celebrations: Summer temperatures around 23'C in the afternoon, and the sun shining from a clear blue sky.

There was a main celebration in our town park at 3 p.m. I took a little detour on the way there to buy myself an ice cream, as I suspected the queues to the café in the park itself would probably be endless (I didn't check once I got there, but no doubt they were). I arrived in the park just about when the program there started (a bit of music, and a few speeches), and I'm pretty sure there were more people gathered this year than I've ever seen before. There was no way to get close to the action on the stage, so I just kept way in the background. The music and the speakers could be heard even by us who couldn't see much, though. And I had both my cameras with me - the 'proper' camera as well as the phone - so I managed to get a variety of photos.



"Panorama view" shot with my separate camera. The stage is somewhere close to that black building (café) in the background between the trees...


From pretty much the same place where I was standing for the panorama view, my camera managed to zoom in this children's choir on the stage.

I didn't stay for the full program but left when I began to find it too tiring to stand still. 

Even Google is celebrating with us today,
I noticed when I turned on my computer at home:

Sveriges nationaldag 2023

 But I suppose that's just here in Sweden... (?)


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