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Beyond the Lone Islands

Monday, 30 November 2009

Not Quite as Planned

If you would like to get a feeling of what 1st Advent Sunday should be like, go to the previous post: A Swedish Advent Hymn. If you want to know what it was actually like for me, this year, stay here.

That I would not be going to church to sing Advent hymns, that much I knew beforehand. The closest I got to a church was that on the way to my dad's house, we (my brother and I) went up to the churchyard  in that village to have a look at the headstone on our mum's grave, which was put up after we were there last. When we got there we were at first greatly surprised to find the car park full and cars parked alongside the road too, because we had by then completely forgotten that it was Sunday at all, and 1st Advent Sunday on top of that...! This because before going to the churchyard we had also been to a store in town to get various technical and plumbing emergency things related to unpleasant discoveries my brother had made at the house when arriving there Saturday afternoon. Namely that there was 3 cm of sewage water on the floor in the old laundry room in the cellar and problems with one of the toilets upstairs...

My major contribution at dad's house was bringing food on the table (most of it I had prepared beforehand) and washing the dishes afterwards, and going through a pile of bills etc. I also managed to find the electric Advent candle holder and a place for it where dad can actually see it. That is actually just about what I can manage in one day (with chronic pain problems in neck-shoulder-arm.)

My brother had a much tougher afternoon trying to fix the flood situation. It turned out it was too big a problem to be solved by the small pump we had bought for the purpose. Pofessional help would have to be called in the next day (today). This however still involved trying to make the flooded room accessible for the professional people. Which meant my brother still had to spend the whole afternoon (several hours) in the cellar, clearing that room from old garden furniture and two sacks full of other various moldy rubbish. One huge problem that we are facing is that our parents rarely threw away anything, ever - Dad's philosophy always having been that as soon as you get rid of something, the next day you'll find yourself in need of that very thing; so he always preferred to be on the safe side...

When I got home in the evening, it was without knowing if my brother would be able to sort the emergency situation out before he had to go back home at noon today (he lives 300 km away). There is also a list of other unsolved big problems of various emergency degree, one or two which my brother had meant to take care of this weekend before he knew about the even more important emergency. Just the mere awareness of the list gave me a literally sleepless night last night. My own computer situation has not even made it to the list yet! (In case anyone missed it, my desktop computer died a couple of weeks ago and the laptop is not very well either.)

However, at noon today my brother called to say the plumbers had been there with their machinery and cleared the pipes and dealt with the flood etc. So a huge sigh of relief, even though a number of other problems still remain.

We have a saying in Swedish that would translate something like "fortune in the midst of bad luck". (I can't think of an exact English equivalent - if someone can, please share.) I guess that's how we have to think of it. Had my brother not come here this weekend, the situation could have got much worse before anyone noticed, because normally now no one else ever goes down into the cellar...


A Swedish Advent Hymn

Traditionally, 1st Advent Sunday in Sweden draws more people to church than any other Sunday in the whole year. There are certain hymns which are almost only sung in the month of December, and most of them are of the "grand" kind, like this one:

The lyrics are from the Gospel of Matthew 21:9 - the song the people of Jerusalem sang when Jesus rode into town on a donkey:

Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

Hosanna is a Hebrew expression meaning "Save!" which became an exclamation of praise.
(Comment in the New International Version of the Bible.)

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Advent Candles

Tomorrow is the first of the four Advent Sundays leading up to Christmas. So this weekend we light the first of the four candles in the special advent candle holder. These too come in different shapes. In Sweden though, all four candles are traditionally placed in a row; while in some other countries, like Germany, I know that the typical advent candle holder is instead in the shape of a wreath.

The one above is mine, a rather modern one, bought only a few years ago. I took the picture yesterday evening in my living room. I'm afraid it turned out a bit blurry, but never mind. 

The advent candle holder below is an older and more traditional one that my parents always used. This kind is shaped like a box, with a handle on each side, and traditionally you fill it with white moss, and some other decorations on top of that if you wish.

Filling a candle holder with moss etc is a bit of a fire hazard though, and that is why I in later years have abandoned that tradition. (Although of course the shops nowadays sell specially prepared moss that is not supposed to burn; but then it is drenched with chemicals instead.)  As you can see in the first picture I have some decorations on my holder too, but as the candles burn lower, I remove those.

As you light the first candle the first week, then the second the next week, then the third, then the fourth... When you get to the 4th Sunday, the candles will be in the shape of a "stair", the first candle by then very short and the last one still high. You don't really see that in the picture of my parents' candle holder, because after the 4th Sunday, they used to make a fuss of getting the candles even again. Which means, of course, blowing out the first one, until the next one has got down to the same size as that one, and then blow out the second one and wait for the third etc... I never understood why they bothered, and I never do that. One thing I can't stand however is if the first candle is burned down, and someone just puts in a new tall one in its place. Looks all wrong to me! At first chance, I'd be there to rearrange them! - LOL - We all have our own hang-ups!

Tomorrow, my brother and I will try and see if we can find the "advent stuff" in some closet in dad's house and arrange a bit of time-of-the-year atmosphere there, too. This used to be mum's job, so it will no doubt be a strange feeling...


Friday, 27 November 2009

Preparations Are Proceeding...

Preparations for 1st Advent Sunday are proceeding.
Today they were putting up the lights in the Christmas tree in the Market Square.

The Christmas Market stalls are also in place.
These days, commerce is going on around the week. In my childhood and youth, no shops were open on Sundays. 1st Advent Sunday used to be "Window Shopping Day". The shops were closed, but they had all made their Christmas displays. People went into town just to look although nothing was open. (Writing down memories like that always makes me feel about a hundred years old!)

(Some) Christmas Cards are cheap, but the postage is not!
I ordered mine via the internet yesterday, to be printed from one of my own photos.

My kitchen window.
A lot of people change curtains for the Christmas season, especially in the kitchen. Red brings warmth and colour into the cold and colourless darkness of winter. I prefer mine to be with relatively neutral pattern as I often keep them up until the end of February.

In almost every window in December and until a week or two into January, you will also see the electric candles and/or an advent star. Nowadays they come in all sizes, shapes and colours. The orange star made of paper to me is the "classical" one - the kind we had in my home when I grew up. It gives a soft warm glow and it's the kind I still want in my kitchen window. Some people prefer more expensive stars made of wood, or straw, or metal, or whatever. There is no lack of alternatives, whether you want traditional or more modern varieties.


Thursday, 26 November 2009

Quotation of the Week (48/09)

Swedish Whitebeam Trees, November

"You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down."
C.S. Lewis

Monday, 23 November 2009


Next Weekend is the first of the four Advent Sundays leading up to Christmas. I'm not sure how important the time of Advent is in other countries, but it Sweden it is Big. After dark, gloomy and usually rainy November, we are desperate for colour and lights and anything that brings a sense of warmth, and we make the most of it; the churches as well as the tradesmen and the media.

If you've been following my blog over the past month, you may remember that Halloween/ All Saints Day with us is a rather solemn holiday almost all about graveyard decorations...

... But the very day after All Saints Day, i.e. Sunday 1 November, this was what met my eye when I entered the supermarket:

I usually try to ignore these guys at least until a week or so before Christmas, but it's not easy - they're everywhere...

Preparations continue all around. November has become a sort of pre-advent to Advent. Last week, they put up the big Christmas tree in the town square:

Nice one this year, with a lot of cones:

The lights weren't put up in the tree yet when I was there with my camera (Friday).

This week I'm going to get wrapped up in preparations myself, because I too want everything to be ready before the 1st Advent weekend. Well - the things that in my opinion should be ready by then. That does not include full Christmas decorations, but it does include the window lights and Advent stars, and the lights on the balcony, and changing curtains in the kitchen and some table cloths, and the special Advent candle holder with four candles. (We light just one of them on the first Sunday, then two, then three, four.) Personally, I like the time of Advent more than the actual Christmas. Not too fond of the extra rush in the shops, but these days I don't have too many people to buy presents for. But I like the lights, and the hymns that are only played this time of year (played in church, or at home - not as background supermarket music...), and Christmas cards, and...

At the same time, this year, Christmas will be hard, because it will be another "first" traditional family holiday to get through without my mother (who died in May). Whatever we do to try to make it as normal as possible for my dad - it won't be normal.

PS. Tomorrow (Tuesday) there will be a somewhat unusual Christmas tree on show in my Picture Book.


Sunday, 22 November 2009

Another Encouragement

Well, this week I'm definitely a Winner! First my luck in Dan's contest on Thursday (see my Friday post), and today Scriptor Senex's Award for Photographic Exellence bestowed primarily on my Picture Book blog. Thanks for brightening up my grey November week!


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Wordzzle and other Challenges of the Week

Just in case someone by old habit should happen to come here today to look for my usual contribution to Raven's Saturday Wordzzle Challenge, I'm repeating the fact that last weekend I moved my attempts at fiction to a new blog of mine, Wordly Efforts. Including all previous episodes + new summary of my ongoing Wordzzle-based story The Slumber Party Mystery.

After finishing that job, my desktop computer died, which still remains a mystery unsolved.

Thanks to also having a laptop computer though, I have managed to keep blogging, so scroll down or have a look in the blog archive to see what else has happened this week. Now if you excuse me, I think I will have to answer to the laptop's request to be allowed to do a complete back up...

Friday, 20 November 2009

Oh Deer, I Won!

(No, it's not a spelling mistake!)

This has been a tough week for me in many ways, computer crash included. Yesterday, however, in spite of "only" having my laptop... I made an attempt at the Blog Anniversary contest at Dan's blog Wood and Pixels, which he generously kept running for four days (Tuesday-Friday). And I WON! Three other people also came out winners, on the other days. For an extra special reason, though, I am especially happy that Thursday got to be my lucky day. The special reason has nothing to do with the prize, because we will each get a photo print of our own choice. Which of course would make me happy any day! :)  No - the extra special thing for me about Thursday had to do with the picture to which the clues were pointing on that day - a white deer. (Click on the I WON link above to see Dan's photo.)

Dan provides a link to the Native American folklore about the white deer. However, the white deer or stag is also special in Celtic folklore, which I have been interested in ever since my first visits to Britain in my early teens.  In Celtic mythology it represents a closeness to the Otherworld. For example, "the white stag or hart often appears in the forests around King Arthur’s court, sending the knights on adventures against gods and fairies". The deer is also used in Christian /Biblical symbolism, to represent the human soul's longing for God. Modern fantasy writers have made use of the deer/stag symbolism, too. Two examples:

In C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, what brings Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy - by then grown up and Kings and Queens of Narnia - back to England at the end of the story, is the rumour that a White Stag has been seen in the Western Woods of Narnia. They go on a hunt and they see the stag and they follow it. This brings them back to the lamp post, and from there back to the wardrobe, and their life in this world.

In J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter books, a white stag, and towards the end also a white deer, also have very important guiding roles to play.

As I said in my comment on Dan's congratulations post:
Some things in life can really make you wonder about coincidence vs "meaning".

And as it happens, that very topic has been appearing in different shapes to me more than once over the past couple of weeks. Now here it was again, through the white deer...


Thursday, 19 November 2009

Definitions of Friendship = Quotation(s) of the Week (47/09)

Reading a post over at Rae's blog + an email from another friend set me thinking about definitions of friendship. I spent some time rummaging my bookshelves before I found what I was looking for: An old Snoopy picturebook on this very topic. (I moved last summer and some things in the odds-and-ends category I now find hard to remember whether I even decided to keep or if they ended up in one of the probably-to-give-away boxes that are still in the storage room in the basement. But Snoopy was found in my bedroom.)

In this book, Charlie Brown is feeling low and without friends. He gets a lot of definitions of friendship from various people, and I thought I'd quote some of them here. I'm translating them back from Swedish which is always an adventure.

A friend is someone who can take a punch.
A friend is someone who chooses to play with the sun in his eyes.
A friend is someone who likes watching the same TV shows.
A friend is someone who likes you even when the other guys are there.

A friend is someone who accepts you as you are.
A friend is someone who doesn't get jealous if you have other friends.
A friend is someone who likes the same music as you do.
A friend is someone who hates the same music as you do.

A friend is someone who defends you when you are not there.
A friend is someone who sends you a postcard from their holiday.
A friend is someone who does not criticize something you just bought.
A friend is someone who unleashes you. (said by Snoopy of course)

Charlie is still not quite satisfied. He looks up "friend" in the dictionary, and reads out loud:

"Friend - person whom one knows and likes well."

Linus, standing behind him as he reads, exclaims:
"But that's me!"
(Happy end.)


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Why We Dream

A couple of days ago I watched a TV documentary about sleep and dreaming. I've written about dreams before - If you want to find those posts, I suggest clicking that label, below or in the list in the margin.

During the night we go through different stages of sleep. Early dream research showed that people dreamed during so called REM-sleep. So called because during this kind of sleep Rapid Eye Movements occur. Otherwise, however, during this stage of sleep, the body is usually very much relaxed. Later research has shown that we also dream during non-REM sleep. But apparently - and this was the thing I can't remember really having heard much about before - the dreams we have during the different stages of sleep are also of different kind. That is why for example medication can affect our dreams (because they can affect what kind of sleep we have). (Or at least that is one reason why etc.)

It seems that during non-REM sleep, we tend to dream happy dreams. During REM-sleep, negative ones, even nightmares. There is also something called REM sleep disorder - some dysfunction in the brain which disturbs this usually relaxed phase of sleep, and causes people to act out in violent action, like punching, kicking, jumping out of bed etc.

The documentary also dealt with the question why we dream. I don't really have a problem with that - I have long believed from my own experience that it is a way to deal with reality, trying to solve problems etc. During a period of intense dreaming years ago, I came to regard even nightmares as "friends" rather than enemies (helping me to understand myself). Scientific research seems to agree.

Scientists now also add the theory that the function of nightmares is sort of preventive: Their job is to train us in our sleep to contend with the dangers of the day. (Experiments have been carried out on animals which seem to support this idea - forcing them into a kind of REM sleep disorder which makes them act out instead of remaining relaxed.) The idea is that our ancestors, having to deal with a more physically cruel reality than most of us today, needed this nightly mental training to survive. But we seem to be able to adapt even our dreams to modern society - modern adult dreamers seem to adjust their nightmares to be related to modern kind of stress rather than fighting wild animals etc. While children often seem to have the more primitive kind of nightmares.

And even today - if I got it right what someone in this documentary said - it seems that the nightmares may fill an odd function, because it seems that people who are bereaved of REM sleep (the nightmare kind of sleep) actually tend to easier fall into depression than those who do have to fight (a normal amount of) nightmares in their sleep!

(Written down from memory the day after I watched the TV documentary.)
(Photo: My own, from the zoo.)


Tuesday, 17 November 2009


1. Update on the hospital visit in the morning with my dad:
Worrying beforehand did help. It all went much better today than last time. (See yesterday's post about Hope and Worry.) We are still not much wiser, though. The specialist will have to do some digging into the past, trying to collect medical records from other places, before he can determine whether new medication might possibly be of any help. For me, however, it was a huge weight off my shoulders that this time an assistant from home care was also with us through the whole visit.

2. Does this experience also really mean that I feel I have to update my theology? In case someone actually feels unsure about it: No. I never seriously thought that when Jesus said "Do not worry about tomorrow" he meant: Never think in advance. The whole context in Matthew 6 has to do with a much bigger picture, what things we find most important in life. (To increase our bank account, or our compassion.)

3. Update on the computer situation:
In the late afternoon, I tried a couple of more internet tips on the dead computer, but without success. I'm not going to make any more desperate attempts, that might only lessen the chances of retrieving  lost data from the crashed hard drive by help of other means. My brother will probably be able to help me with that later on.

So I have accepted the fact that I will have to buy a new computer. It has been on my mind for a while anyway. Just hoping the laptop will continue to keep its spirit up in the meantime, until I decide on the best alternative for the future.

Today I have been able to safely transfer all my original 2009 photos, and also some edited ones, from my backup USB flash drive onto the laptop. Phew!

It's not the End of the World.


Monday, 16 November 2009

Not Just Narnia

Looking through my email files, I found one I had sent to myself and forgotten about!

I think it is a post I originally wrote for some subforum at the Harry Potter discussion forum Leaky Lounge, in answer to someone asking for more info on books by C.S. Lewis, other than The Chronicles of Narnia.

I read most of C.S. Lewis's works. A good place to start if you want to get aquainted with his basic theology is Mere Christianity. A more personal touch on his conversion can be found in his autobiography Surprised by Joy.

I haven't heard of a "complete works" edition but I think most of his books are getting reprinted every now and then.

The Space Trilogy consists of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. These are not children's books but intended for more grown-up readers. Like the Narnia books they deal with good and evil, and stretch from creation till the end of the world themes. In the first two the main character Ransom, travels into space and lands on other planets, where evil is not yet found. But evil is introduced into these worlds by two other humans, Weston and Devine. The last book takes place on Earth but with "intervention" from otherworldly beings that Ransom has met in the previous books.

Lewis manages to intertwine ideas from for example Greek and Roman mythology with Christian theology; he also manages to combine speculations about life on other planets with classical Christianity. His God is God of all the Universe, whether there are other worlds and other kinds of creatures out there or not.

After Lewis's death, an unfinished manuscript was also found where the character Ransom is involved. This story was never finished by Lewis (He probably started it after the first space novel but abandoned it for other ideas). It contains ideas about time-travelling. As far as it goes, it has been published posthumously in The Dark Tower And Other Stories, together with a few other fragments and short stories, edited and with a preface by his friend Walter Hooper; who has also written a biography about Lewis together with Roger Lancelyn Green.

Another work of fiction is Till We Have Faces. It is a "reworking of the myth of Cupid and Psyche". I read it a couple of times but found it hard to understand. Maybe I should reread it again now when the internet makes it so much easier to look things up.

My own photo, taken through plexiglass window at the zoo.
(Also published not long ago at Soaring through the World)


Hope And Worry

Early in October, I had three blogposts entitled The Worries of Tomorrow, The Troubles of Today, and Another Day; preceded by a Quotation (41/09) from the Bible about worrying; or rather about NOT to worry about tomorrow, "for tomorrow will worry about itself". You'll find the posts in the Blog Archive for October.

The gist of it all (in those blogposts) was that I found that a bit more worrying "yesterday" would for once have been in place, before accompanying my dad on a visit to the hospital, which turned out just energy-consuming, irritating, exhausting, unproductive and a general waste of time for everyone involved, because of lack of proper planning, and too much optimism.

Now it's time for a new attempt. I can only hope I have worried enough in advance this time! The blood samples got taken last time (should have been taken a week before that, and could have been done elsewhere, but weren't). Tomorrow, home care staff will be accompanying dad all the way to take care of all the practical assistance he needs. (Which I can't provide because of my own chronic pain problems. Which last time's experiences proved.) A little while ago I phoned the home care organizer and checked that we still agree on this and that proper preparations have been made by them this time. I will meet up to sit in on the actual talk with the doctor; that's all. (Which will probably be more than enough for me for one day.)

Until that is over and done with, I will try and resist my inner urges to waste more energy on attempts to resuscitate my dead computer (see yesterday's post). It is unlikely to get any deader than it already is by waiting a bit. 


Sunday, 15 November 2009

My Computer Died

After writing the previous post on my desktop computer, I turned it off and went out for a walk, and to get a few things from the supermarket. When I got home and turned on the computer again a couple of hours later, it was dead. Apparently it had some sort of sudden heart attack - important system file damaged or missing...

I called my brother the Computer Wizard on the phone (he lives in another town), and we tried a few things, but it did not work. He did find a web page for me with some other suggestions and I might try them another day when I'm less tired, but my hopes are not high...

Well, at least I still have the laptop and so I'm not out of internet connection! But the laptop too has been complaining about being tired lately and a couple of times threatened to go on strike. (Had to unplug the battery and reinsert it to restart.) Apparently neither of my machines has been very pleased with my blogging habits of late...!

I will have to start thinking about getting a new computer.

The worst thing about the present situation is that I have all my edited photos on the dead one; as well as the PSP software; as well as a lot of personal documents and whatever; as well as that's the one connected to the printer; and...

I do however have some of the photos stored in the Picasa webalbum. (The ones I've already used on the blogs + a few yet unpublished.) The original photos from this year I also have on a memory stick (which I hope is still alive). Photos from previous years I have on CD-R, and also some older documents. It's mostly things like edited photos and documents from this year that are gone unless they can be recovered.

Apart from the loss of Data, I can also foresee a considerable loss of Time and personal Energy over the next few weeks, trying to fix things.

For the next few days I had already scheduled posts for my Picture Book, so no immediate panic. And (now I'm repeating myself, just to help myself breathe calmly) the laptop is still alive so I'm not without internet. And... I don't know what I'm complaining about, really. Still feels like I just lost a friend, though!


The Blog Library Keeps Growing

For some time now I've had the feeling that it might be a good idea to put my attempts at fiction (i.e. so far mainly my contributions to Raven's weekly Saturday Wordzzle Challenges) into a separate blog, and let this one be about life and dreams and book reviews and whatever else.

My experience from taking part in the Wordzzles over the last 7½ months has been that it is basically two different sets of people who comment on things I write. One set of people (most of whom are not in the Followers list) nearly always comment on the Wordzzles, but rarely on anything else. Another set of people (most of whom are in the Followers list) comment on other things, but very rarely on the Wordzzles.

From this I draw the conclusion that it seems unlikely that I would lose readers by moving the fiction; it might even have the opposite effect in the long run, by making the purpose of each blog clearer.

Thought, said and done: One more blog has this weekend seen the light of day: Wordly Efforts. (No, it's not a spelling mistake. It's supposed to be witty.)

And for those who are still interested in "the other aspects of me", there are links! :)

My total number of followers on any blog is still not overwhelming, in spite of all the awards (total of three) that were bestowed upon me during the last few weeks. This is not to be taken as a complaint, mind you! I am overwhelmed enough with other things as it is. The most positively overwhelming thing still being that people who do follow my writings are becoming real friends instead of just making up a number!

I remarked to one blogging friend yesterday, that instead of increasing my number of followers, I seem to be generating more blogs instead. Maybe I'm heading into a split personality disorder?? But no... It probably all just stems from my deeply rooted fascination with libraries. Everything in its place!!! (I'm hoping for support from at least Scriptor Senex about that view of things.)

Anyway. For anyone who might be feeling they're losing track, here is a library index of my current blogs:

The Island of the Voices (where you are now):
About Life, Dreams and Everything

Through My Spectrespecs
Anything Harry Potter-related  (and you might be surprised how many things to me are Harry Potter-related!)

DawnTreader's Picture Book
Big size photos and pictures; almost daily, but usually without much comment. This is also where I take part in photo challenges if I feel that I have the time and am in the mood for it. Like Mosaic Monday, or Wordless Wednesday.

NEW: Wordly Efforts
"where I wrestle with my own attempts at fiction"
(For example my ongoing story The Slumber Party Mystery, based on the Wordzzles. Actually, at the moment that is the only example; but who knows about the future! By the way - there is now also a Summary of the plot - if so it can be called - of The Slumber Party Mystery; for anyone who feels they lost track, or anyone who never even dared the attempt to jump into it before. All the previous chapters have also been imported into the new blog; and from next week on, Wordly Efforts is the place where the story is going to continue.)

And then there is of course also
Soaring Through the World in Pictures
which is not my own blog, but a place where I'm happy to share pictures regularly together with other people with photo interest from all over the world, on weekly themes. This week, the theme happens to be Simplicity. Hmm...


Friday, 13 November 2009

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge # 89

The Slumber Party Mystery - A Summary

I've been partaking in Raven's Saturday Wordzzle Challenges since her Challenge #57; my first post /chapter dated 29 March 2009. When I posted that first entry, I really intended it just as a short story with a sort of open ending. But then someone asked me if there was going to be continuation, and then I thought: Well, why not? I'll probably be able to find some way of wrapping it up in a dozen episodes or so... Ha!! Thirty or so weeks later, I have still not managed to get myself out of the web I wove. If it's getting complicated for myself to keep track, I dare not even think what it's like for my readers! So I decided it's probably high time to make a summary, which I can refer both old and new readers back to. The summary will be added to as the story proceeds.

After some thought, I decided to put the summary in a new side blog, which I have given the name Wordly Efforts. So far it does not contain anything but this summary. I might however in the future decide to move or copy all the episodes of the Slumber Party Mystery over there to get them all in one place. (Please share if you have any thoughts on that.) There is also the possibility that I might some day use that blog for other fictional writing, too. 

Raven's Wordzzle Challenge # 89

officer, candid, drowning, turtles, sugar-coated, prospecting, shame on you,
reclinder, luggage, brains, paragon of virtue, cats-in-the-cradle, swamp, sprinkles, garbage

Click on the label SlumberPartyMystery below post to find all previous posts.

The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 89 – Cat's Cradle

Getting home on Saturday evening, John Skittles called up his friend Turtles, who was also a police officer.

"To be quite candid with you, I don't understand what's happening," he complained. "I thought I was solving a mystery, and then suddenly I seem to be drowning in a sugar-coated romance instead."

"Sounds like interesting prospecting to me," said his friend. "Shame on you for moaning about it! You know you always fall in love with a good mystery. Perhaps this time the mystery has also fallen in love with you! I suggest you lean back in your recliner and put those Sherlock brains of yours to some good use for once. Try and figure out what it is about this girl that attracts you."

"I have no idea," said Skittles, still in a grumpy tone of voice. "She comes with such a lot of strange luggage. Her grandfather's house is only part of it. The place is a veritable swamp full of garbage, in some ways. She's hardly a paragon of virtue herself either. And she's not in love with me, she's in love with that doctor. She said so yesterday."

"Ah," said Turtles. "The cat's in the cradle, and sprinkles of jealousy on top."

"What?" said Skittles, irritably. "You know I'm no good at metaphors, you always end up having to explain them to me."

"This one is kind of hard to explain over the phone, John," said his friend. "Cat's cradle is an intricate game, and it takes the combined efforts of two people to sort it out."

Later in the evening, Turtles emailed this web page to his friend John Skittles:


Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Quotation of the Week (46/09) - Farewells

Knowing when you will see someone the next time makes farewell easier. Not knowing is terrible. Your mind either fools you into thinking it’s soon, or deceives you into depression through convincing you that it’s ages away. - D.G. -
Today's quote does not come from a well-known classic author. Possibly it comes from an author-to-be. These sentences have remained in my mind for a week now! I read them in a personal news-letter written by a young man recently going off to university studies in England. I know that he knows what he is talking about, because he has been growing up in a family who have been moving back and forth between Sweden and remote places in Asia ever since he was a little boy. Now he is off on his own to face new challenges.


Monday, 9 November 2009

Entering the Hall of...

About 1½ week ago, blogfriend Rae had a post about the Price of Fame, starting her text with the phrase "I am famous." Now when I suddenly find myself in similar position, it is causing me considerable problems to find a way of telling you this without copying her introduction! (How am I doing so far?)

You might object that if I were really famous, you would already know that, and I should not have to tell you. But if you feel the need to argue with me about my fame, then I obviously do have to inform you, don't I? Therefore I proceed...

Today I received (primarily for my DawnTreader's Picture Book) a Blog of the Week Award from someone I don't know, and whose blogs I actually never came across until he gave me the said award -which, by the way, does not even come with stipulations, just a lot of kind words, including appreciation of my other blogs as well.

Can you come up with a better definition of 'famous' than being known by people you don't know!?

Check out Brett @ 365 TO 42 (link to the award post) ...
I'm certainly going to do so, because even first glance tells me I'll want to see more of his photography!

I've put the award-picture in the Awards list at the bottom of the page in my photo blog, but I can't resist showing it off here as well:


Saturday, 7 November 2009

About Me and Languages (5)

After my first year in 'senior high school', 16 going on 17, my parents apparently thought me mature enough to go off out into the world alone. They sent me on a sort of educational holiday to England, to stay for four weeks with a family in a small village near Doncaster in Yorkshire.

This was not a family we knew beforehand. It was organized rather like an exchange student program, except that there was no exchange. The family I went to stay with had a girl about my age – she was in the 5th form in a Comprehensive School. I visited her school with her, but she did not go back to Sweden with me.

The flight to England and an initial short stay in London (two nights) was made in a group, with adult supervision. After that, we were sent off in different directions by train, to whereever each of us was going to stay for the next four weeks.

In this village, I stayed with the family A., in a rather typical English house.

Mr A., if I my memory serves me right, worked in the coal mines, or at least in some way for the coal mining company. Mrs A. worked part time at the local pub. Besides their teenage daughter, Lynne, they had a boy of about 5, Lyndon. In the house, on the ground floor there was a living room, a dining room and a small kitchen. Upstairs, three small bedrooms. During my stay, Lyndon had to move in with his mum and dad, and I got to have his room. This he did not seem to mind; on the contrary he quite fell in love with the exciting foreign visitor, followed me around everywhere, called himself my boyfriend, getting jealous of anyone who possibly threatened that position. Cute; but I soon also learned to say one phrase in proper Yorkshire dialect:"Gi' o'er Lyndon!"

Besides the family, I was soon introduced to aunts, cousins, grandparents, great-aunts and uncles, and more or less the whole village. I remember one visit to an old man in the countryside who spoke in heavy Yorkshire dialect very unlike any English I had ever heard before, and not easy for me to understand. He said to me: "You speak like you come from the BBC!" I'm not sure it was meant as a compliment…

Me (between the boys) and some English friends at school

Most days, I went to school with Lynne (the school was in another village, so we went by bus). From strictly educational point of view, there wasn't really much going on at school for her and her friends except exams (O-levels). I did attend a few classes, but there were also a lot of free periods which we spent just hanging around… the school, the village, the cricket field, or other students' houses… especially one boy's house whose parents were away… At that age, however, and in the month of June - one is rather good at just hanging…

Lynne and the boys

One thing that fascinated me about English village life was the habit everyone seemed to have of just walking right into other people's houses without waiting for them to open the door. We never did that where I came from.

The cricket field

I had also been told beforehand, that schools in England were much more strict than in Sweden, including the relationship between students and teachers. My impression was exactly the opposite. The only thing more formal in England was that you addressed teachers (and parents) by Mr or Mrs, which was already getting rare in Sweden in the early 70s. Apart from that, I found the student-teacher relationships quite friendly.

Mr and Mrs A, Lyndon and a great-uncle, in Bridlington

With the whole family + grandmother + great uncle and aunt, we went on some outings to places like York, Cleethorpes (seaside) and Bridlington (seaside).

There were also some organized school activities, like a couple of trips to Leeds Rolarena. In Sweden, I had never heard of such a thing as a Rolarena (like a disco, but on rollerskates), and I had never been on a pair of rollerskates in my life. In fact, in spite of living in this Northern climate, I had never even learned the art of ice-skating. I think there were some kind people who held on tight to me and dragged me round the floor a few times on these Rolarena nights... But two visits to the place was not enough to make me glide around with the ease of those people depicted on the ticket, I assure you! However, I survived, and nothing got broken…

Chaperoned by a cousin of Lynne's (older than us, but not much ) we also on a couple of occasions went to a disco in Doncaster. This was nothing I was used to either, but at least there I did not have to balance on wheels!

All-in-all, besides picking up a lot of colloquial words and phrases and becoming more fluent in the spoken language, and learning more about everyday life in England, I consider the whole experience quite an important step on my way from childhood to adulthood - being away from my own family for a whole month, in a foreign country, and with no other Swedes around.

If you missed the previous episodes in this series, you will find all four of them in the Blog Archive for September 2009.



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