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Beyond the Lone Islands

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Easter Decorations


Going into town a few days ago, I left my camera at home. It was a grey and dull day anyway, and I wasn’t going anywhere “interesting”. When I got to the town square, there was a surprise waiting:
An Easter Tree. Just to prove the point that you should never leave home without the camera!


It was still there when I got back with the camera yesterday, though – with a much nicer blue sky as background, and surrounded by colourful market stalls. (So not too many regrets about not bringing the camera the other day…)


Not sure about the Lent and Easter traditions around the world, but in Sweden we also take in branches (often from birch) and decorate with colourful feathers, and sometimes eggs and chickens (symbols of new life) – and little witches.

Witches?! Yes. In old traditions, Thursday and/or Saturday before Easter is sort of our equivalent to the American Halloween.

The background is old belief that witches would fly off to a certain place (BlockulaBlåkulla) on the Thursday before Easter to cavort with Satan. (Cavort? The word was used in a Time article I found about it on the web - I’ll let it stand…) As they supposedly returned on Saturday night, people would light bonfires and fireworks then to scare them away. This tradition varies across the country, but in the south west where I live, there are still Easter fires lit on Easter Eve in some places. On the whole, though, I think this tradition is giving way to a similar tradition of bonfires on 30 April – Walpurgis night – to celebrate the arrival of Spring.

Children also dress up to look like little old witches – in head-shawls and aprons and with typical attributes like broomstick and kettle - and sometimes go door to door hoping to collect treats. And if they don’t go door to door, Easter is still the big holiday for candy, with Easter Eggs filled with sweets and chocolate – and of course especially for the children. 


The two largest of these eggs of mine go back at least to the 1980s. I know that because they were made in the German Democratic Republic!

More likely, they are from the late 60s or early 70s and I probably got them from grandparents. The smallest one I might have got later (it does not have the GDR stamp in it). From what I see in the shops, new ones are still made in the same classic style (even if there are other kinds as well).


My own thoughts about the tradition of mixing witches into the Easter celebrations is that it originally served as a reminder of the “uncertainty” which ruled the world between the Death of the Son of God on the Cross on Easter Friday (which in Sweden we call the Long Friday), and the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.

In our time and country, I would say that Easter has become an even more secularized holiday than Christmas. Most people I think see it primarily a celebration of spring, and enjoy the extra days off.
I’ll get back to some Church traditions another day.

If you’d like to see bigger size pictures of the Easter Tree, visit my Picture Book today.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Getting Closer...

... to an important decision. Ever since my desktop computer crashed in November (still feels like somewhat of a Trauma), I've been thinking of getting a new computer. The harddrive space left on my present laptop keeps shrinking rapidly in spite of all my efforts to clean up, and put backups on an extra hard drive etc. The battery capacity is very low, too. And it's Vista, and generally slow. I really want to get a new one before this one suddenly gives up, too.

So I think I'm getting ready to take the plunge. There might be a purchase in a few days when my brother comes down for Easter. I think a 17" screen laptop is what would suit my needs best for now and the near future. It will primarily be used as a desktop one, but it will still be possible for me to move it and use it elsewhere if needed. I have my eyes (well, thoughts!) on one which besides Windows 7 also comes with Photoshop Elements 7 preinstalled. And it has 10x the harddrive space compared to this one. Hmmm...

Shrubby Cinquefoil - Dasiphora fruticosa - Ölandstok

Things Worth Doing Badly

In my Quotation of the Week post this week (13/2010), I gave you "two for one", plus a picture.

"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
~ G.K. Chesterton ~


"Failure after long perseverance is much grander
than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure."
~ George Eliot ~

Chesterton has been called "Master of Paradoxes", and I guess this is a typical example. When I first read it, I was not sure what he really meant, or if I agreed. I found the statement in some famous quotations collection, without its original context. But I wrote it down in my notebook, and have returned to ponder upon it now and then.

More recently, I came across the George Eliot quote, and it reminded me of Chesterton's words. In my mind, they connected. So that's why I put both together in my post, and also added a picture to give you a clue to my thinking: A one-year-old (or so) eagerly striving to walk upright.

With a lot of things in life, you don't know until you try, how far you'll be able to go. Some things we might never excel at, but we still find them worth doing. For example: Very few people get so good at running that they win the Olympics. But in some situations it can make you happy just to be able to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom without help. (If you've ever had to spend even just a couple of days in hospital not being able to or allowed to do that, you'll know what I mean).

While out walking today, I kept thinking about this. What things in my life have I found "worth doing badly"? In my mind I went back nine years, to the first years after I had had a kind of accident at work which was the root of still lingering pain problems. I'm not going into the details of that, just using it to make a point: To suddenly find yourself no longer able to use your right arm in all the ways you have previously been taking for granted, really forces you to ask yourself some serious questions about what kind of things are worth doing badly.

Some of the answers I already knew, from working for a while in an occupational therapy unit in the hospital. (As secretary; but you pick up the ideas.) In most of us, it is really very deeply rooted that we want to be able to do certain things without help: Take a shower, brush your teeth, get dressed, eat, go for a walk, do a bit of shopping - all the ordinary little things like that, which - when healthy and not in pain - we usually just do without giving them much thought.

If you'd like to try an experiment, just tie your right arm (or your left, if you're left-handed) up in a shawl or something for an hour, and try (with just the free hand, and without cheating) to do things like make the bed, put on your trousers, make a sandwich, comb your hair, tie your shoelaces, write your name, turn a key in the lock... You'll soon get the picture!

Besides the necessary householdy stuff, here are three things I really found worth doing, even if I could only do them badly.

1/ Go out for a walk. There were times when I felt like I was balancing my head on top of one painful nerve, and each step shot an additional wave of pain up my neck. But I kept saying to myself that even five minutes is better (from exercise point of view) than not going out at all.

2/ Read. Even with a holder for the book, with long-lasting neck pains, reading can be quite tiring. But when I've been too tired to turn pages, and fix my eyes on the text, I've listened to audio books. I find good stories a great help to fix my mind on other things than my own worries. (And if I fall asleep, never mind. I'll rewind to somewhere I remember, and start again.)

3/ Write. I think this was perhaps my biggest frustration of all. Giving up "job-writing" was one thing, but private writing as well - that's just too much. Without the computer, what would I have done? My guess is I would probably have kept practising even more on learning to write with my left hand. Over the first few years, I did practise left-hand handwriting quite a lot - as I also practised doing a lot of other things with the left hand, that I used to do with my right. I know that at some point I thought: If I could not use either of my hands, I would probably try using my toes. At my age, I don't think I'd be able to learn that very well - but if there was no other way, I think it might be worth doing badly!

I'm better now than four, six or nine years ago. Some things I find no joy in any more, because I can't do them well enough, or they just tire me out. But other things - are still worth doing, even if "badly"...

Having gone through all that thinking, I felt I had to find out what Chesterton was really talking about. So I found out. (If there is something I've been getting better and better at, it's googling!)

According to the American Chesterton Society  (I didn't know there was such a society, but of course there is) the "worth doing badly" quote is from a book entitled What's Wrong with the World, which was written in 1910. Part Four of the book is entitled, "Education: Or the Mistake about the Child." The famous (and, according to the web page, much abused) line comes up at the end of Chapter 14 of that section. And, according to another quote by Chesterton himself, the words were "said in defence of hobbies and amateurs".

By now I was in research mode, so I went on to find an e-text of What's Wrong with the World (almost any classic 100 years old can be found as e-text), and downloaded that, and looked up the chapter. Which turns out to be about "Folly and Female Education"; and from the viewpoint of 2010 rather than 1910, many arguments might be raised. But laying the modern approach aside, I still think he has a point in his opinion that the world needs "amateurs", not just professionals.

There was a time when you and I and all of us were all very close to God; so that even now the color of a pebble (or a paint), the smell of a flower (or a firework), comes to our hearts with a kind of authority and certainty; as if they were fragments of a muddled message, or features of a forgotten face. To pour that fiery simplicity upon the whole of life is the only real aim of education; and closest to the child comes the woman—she understands. To say what she understands is beyond me; save only this, that it is not a solemnity. Rather it is a towering levity, an uproarious amateurishness of the universe, such as we felt when we were little, and would as soon sing as garden, as soon paint as run. To smatter the tongues of men and angels, to dabble in the dreadful sciences, to juggle with pillars and pyramids and toss up the planets like balls, this is that inner audacity and indifference which the human soul, like a conjurer catching oranges, must keep up forever. This is that insanely frivolous thing we call sanity. And the elegant female, drooping her ringlets over her water-colors, knew it and acted on it. She was juggling with frantic and flaming suns. She was maintaining the bold equilibrium of inferiorities which is the most mysterious of superiorities and perhaps the most unattainable. She was maintaining the prime truth of woman, the universal mother: that if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.

So, tell me, if you like:
What do you consider worth doing badly (= amateurishly)?

Monday, 29 March 2010

Quotation of the Week (13/2010)

 "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly."
~ G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) ~

"Failure after long perseverance is much grander
than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure."
~ George Eliot (1819-1880) ~
About the picture:
This little cutie suddenly appeared out of nowhere from beyond a hedge, with a triumphant runaway smile on her face. No adult in sight. Daddy wasn't really all that far behind, but hidden by the hedge, and having some problem with the pram which delayed him  for a couple of seconds... Ah, glorious seconds! An ocean of time for those little legs to run on ahead...

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Summer Time

It's that time again. Time to set the clock forward one hour in the middle of the night. As if it were that simple! Is there anyone out there who has only one clock?!

When I'm at home, I don't like wearing my watch. So I have clocks everywhere. Twice a year I wonder why! Now let me see...

1. Wrist watch.
2. Alarm clock by the bed.
3. Kitchen clock.
4. Clock on the wall in the hall.
5. Clock on the wall in the study.
6. DVD-recorder.
7. VCR.
8. Cordless telephone.
9. Telephone by the bed.
10. Small stereo in the bedroom.
(Not very important, I rarely put that on timer.)
11. The computer, but that takes care of itself.
(The only thing that does!)

Is that all? Hm. Surely I have forgotten something. Oh yes.

12. Another wrist watch.
13. The mobile phone.
14. The MP3-player.
15. Better check the new small TV/DVD player too.

At least the stereo in my living room does not have a clock. Or does it?

The clock in the picture is not mine. It belongs to a museum.

The hardest thing for me though is usually to reset my inner clock. Shouldn't really matter so much to me these days, since I don't have to get up and go to work early in the morning. I still usually have difficulties with it; it brings me out of rhythm. We'll see how it goes...

Looking back in my memory, I could have sworn it was in the 70s we started switching to summer time in Sweden. Checking my facts in Wikipedia, I find that it wasn't until 1980. Maybe it was discussed earlier? In my memory, I can hear some of the farmers in the church I belonged to back in the early 70s discussing the matter. They were convinced the cows couldn't handle it. The problem is that in 1980, I was living in another town since five years, and in the church I was going to then, no one was concerned with what cows might be thinking. My brain must be mixing things up!

Ah well. Now I'd better get started on my clock round, or I'll be even more mixed up tomorrow!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Butterflies and Parcels

Not sure I've experienced it before: +14°C (57°F) with snow still covering the ground in many places. Strange! And I swear a saw a butterfly! although I was too far away from it to determine what kind. Seemed rather big and dark, so possibly a Red Admiral - I was just reading about those the other day and it seems they do hibernate and sometimes come out early. From its aimless fluttering over the middle of a town street I got the impression it was feeling a bit confused. Probably regretted getting out of bed, because there would still be some difficulties finding any breakfast...

Myself I've been to the supermarket twice. First in the morning, and then again in the afternoon, because the supermarket is also nowadays the post office.

Ordering things on the internet is simple, but the actual delivery is sometimes another matter. In this case, a couple of books. On the internet order form I chose a private delivery service, and to pick up the parcel at a small shop close to where I live. Then I got one of those double-checking questions: "Are you sure? Because according to our information, that's not the closest place to where you live." Well, excuse me! I live here. Trust me, it would be the most convenient place for me to pick up the parcel; that's why I chose it. Even if the zip code might indicate something else.

Okay, they seemed to accept that. Then I got an email: They had packed my books, and were feeling confident that the parcel was small enough to fit into my mailbox, so they were going to send it as a letter through the post. Well, good for them, although I did not quite share their confidence. Then I got a cheerful text message from the Post Office: They just wanted to let me know that a letter had been handed in to them and was on its way to me. Isn't that nice? Being made such a fuss of, you almost begin to feel like an Important Customer, having ordered something really Valuable. But then of course today they ruined the illusion by another text message, in a harsher tone of voice: They could not deliver my letter. If I wanted it, I had to come and get it.

Ah well. Never mind. Two weeks ago it would have caused me problems. Today, with spring in the air and the pavements ice-free - not so much. Even if I really do think the parcel/letter would have fitted into my mailbox (=slit in the door)...

About Me and Languages (8)

I mentioned in the Finding the Library post the other day that back in my teens I had in mind for a while to become a librarian. But when it was time to make a career choice, I was told that job opportunities weren’t looking good.

Writing that down, I was reminded that I might as well be getting on with the next chapter of my autobiographical Me and Languages series. You will find links to previous episodes in the sidebar, below the Blog Archive.

After graduation from 'senior high' school, I had a gap year. (A word I very conveniently learned only yesterday from a novel I started reading, or I wouldn't have known what to call it!) That is: unable to decide what kind of career I wanted to pursue, I took a year off from studies, and got some experience from working life instead. I got a job in an office, working for an electricity company.

Still living at home, but now with driving license and frequent access to the family's second car, my mum's Renault 4:

As it happened, I found that working in an office suited me rather well. So a year later I applied and was accepted to a secretarial education, lasting 1½ years. This involved 'leaving the nest' and moving to another town, and into my first own flat. (Yay!) A very small student's flat, and lacking a proper kitchen, but it was a separate flat, not just a room in a "corridor". And very conveniently situated in the centre of the town.

This education was a new construction, including six months of University English, while the rest of the course took place at a secondary school and included business languages (Swedish, English and either French or German), typing, shorthand (in all three languages) and basic business economics. My third language at school had been French, but I chose to go on with German (my fourth language) instead. The University course - the mid one of our three terms - was not especially adjusted for business life but included all the usual stuff - phonetics, grammar, literature, and facts about history and modern life in Britain and the US. During this term we also still had some typing and shorthand classes at the other school to keep up those skills.

Looking back, I don't really understand when I actually found the time to study. I know I must have, because my certificate proves it. But judging from my photo albums I was busy with all kinds of other activities during these years - also getting involved in a new church, and a gospel choir, and making a whole bunch of new friends there too, besides my classmates with whom I also spent time out of school hours. A boyfriend was also in the picture for a while.

Well. I had no television that first year, and there were certainly no computers around!

After the first year, I found a bigger flat. I sort of outgrew the first one because of always having lots of people coming over for tea and just "hanging out". And I enjoyed that social life immensely!

So much, in fact, that when I finished my studies, I did not want to break up and move back "home". Or anywhere else.  So I stayed on where I was, even though this meant to keep going from one temporary job to another for the first couple of years.

The first job, lasting for a couple of months, was as secretary/sales assistant at a paper mill. I have shared some memories from that place of work before, in a post entitled The Miracle of Printing.

In that job I had use of all three languages, including shorthand in all three. It also gave me some valuable experience which helped me get other jobs later on, within the same line of business (pulp and paper industry). Whatever I've been working with I've always been interested in learning more about it. At this place, they showed me around the mill, explained how things worked, and taught me about things like different paper qualities etc.

A few months and short term temporary jobs later, I got a job for a construction company designing machinery for pulp and paper industry. There, too, I had use for all three languages, and shorthand. I worked there for about a year. After that, I moved on to become personal secretary for the managing director of a consulting company within the same line of business.  I remained in that position for three years (although the company itself went through some changes). After that, I decided to go back to school again. But that will be another chapter.

(The photos from these years are of very poor quality and almost all colour has faded out of them. Trying to scan and edit a few of them, I find that they come out best in black-and-white. There are very few photos from work or school.)

Thursday, 25 March 2010

BTT (Booking Through Thursday): Break

Recently I came across this website: Booking Through Thursday, which has a weekly meme about books and reading. Thought I might join occasionally.

Do you take breaks while reading a book? Or read it straight through? (And, by breaks, I don’t mean sleeping, eating and going to work; I mean putting it aside for a time while you read something else.)

My answer: It happens! For one thing, I usually have more than one kind of book going at the same time. Not sure how that counts? Right now: One philosophical audio book on CD about "Ways to Wisdom" (by Stefan Einhorn, Swedish author, in Swedish). One English novel that I just started on (Alexander McCall Smith: 44 Scotland Street - in English). Another audio book going on in my MP3 player (Terry Pratchett: The Truth, in English). On my coffee table a book about "Classical Symbols" (in Swedish), that I'm not reading straight through but got caught up in when I took it out to look something up. In my bookcases I just noted the other day some novels that for one reason or another I "took a break" from years ago (about half way through) and am not feeling quite sure about now if I'd be able to pick up where I left off, or if I'd have to go back to the beginning. Among those: Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens (in English), The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky (in Swedish) and The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford (in English).

Walking Into the Future

I'm feeling relieved just being able to go for a walk again, without having to keep my eyes fixed on the ground every step of the way to watch out carefully exactly where I put my feet.

Even the withered remains of last year's verdure are a welcome sight as they turn up again from under the snow.

Have to steel myself against the curious looks from passers-by, though. What on earth is that crazy woman with the camera finding so interesting about the old stone wall surrounding the cemetery?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


The ice is breaking up, and on its way to Nowhere.

Four swans flew north over my head and shouted hello,
but did not have time to stop to have their photograh taken.

The snow is melting.

Puddles everywhere on the ground, mirroring the sky.

Some green buds are beginning to show.

... and I planted spring flowers on my balcony!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Welcoming the Rain


I hear the drizzle of the rain
Like a memory it falls
Soft and warm continuing
Tapping on my roof and walls…

Paul Simon: Kathy’s Song


Monday, 22 March 2010

Finding The Library

On my way home from church yesterday, I happened to find the town library.


That may seem like an odd statement, for those of you who are aware that I have been living in the same town for 24 years.

But the thing is that the library has gone wandering off lately, from where it used to be.


More precisely, it has been moved to temporary premises, while the building where it used to be all these years is being renovated. I had read about that, but managed to get the wrong impression of exactly where it had gone to.


Lucky for me that I stumbled upon it, or I might have found myself spending some day soon getting lost in who-knows-what dimensions in search of an Unseen Library! (A reference which will probably only be correctly understood by readers familiar with Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series…)

Yesterday, I only noted the location.
Today, I went back to explore.

Had to turn a few mystic corners to find the English section… But they still have one.


Thinking about it, I don’t know much about library systems in other countries. Our public libraries are free. In this town, besides the central town library, we also have several small district libraries. There is one of those closer to where I live. At any library you can ask them to order books for you from the other ones. You can also borrow a book at one library in town and hand it back at another.  Nowadays we can also renew our loans over the internet (if there is no queue for that book.)

My mother used to read a lot – not in later years, but from my childhood I remember her as constantly reading. And I was always fascinated by libraries. From my teenage years I have very distinct visual memories of the old library in the town where I went to school. I would know exactly what shelf to go to to look for Madame Bovary (Flaubert, there, on the left) or Gone with the wind (Mitchell, further to the right), or books on Religion or Science (upstairs on a sort of balcony or gallery), or Art (a smaller room on the side)…

In 8th grade (‘junior high’), I had 2 weeks of ‘job experience' in that library. I also spent a lot of time there while in secondary school. With one friend I used to go to the library to listen to music – Simon and Garfunkel, and Bob Dylan. (Two people could listen to the same record in separate sets of earphones, sitting in two armchairs side by side.) With another friend, I used to go and look at pictures of famous paintings in some art book.

I had in mind for a while back then to become a librarian. But when it was time to make a career choice, I was told that job opportunities weren’t looking good. Occasionally, I wonder “what if…”

But “what if” (what if I had, what if I hadn’t…) is the kind of question we’ll never be able to find the answer to in any book.

Quotation of the Week (12/2010)

Picture (c) DawnTreader
People come into our lives
and walk with us a mile,
and then because of circumstance
they only stay a while.

They serve a need within the days
that move so quickly by,
and then are gone beyond our reach,
we often wonder why.

God only knows the reason
that we meet and share a smile,
why people come into our lives
and walk with us a mile.

~ Author unknown ~

Sunday, 21 March 2010

At Least And At Last

At Least today did not just feel like a repetition of yesterday.

And At Last there are patches of bare ground large enough to make it possible to actually stretch one's legs a bit when going for a walk. (And oh, do mine need stretching...!)

Can't say that the day seemed to start out very well, at first. I woke up too early, still tired but unable to go back to sleep. I got up reluctantly, took my medicines and had a bit of breakfast (but did not get dressed); then turned on the computer to check if there were any emails  - and there were, so that was nice - but then tiredness hit me again... So I went back to bed, intending to read, but fell asleep, and next time I woke up it was 10 o'clock.

Then I surprised myself, because within half an hour I had a shower, got dressed and set off to go to church - which I had not planned! I had not even checked the ads in the paper the day before; only did now just before I left. I haven't been to any church for months.

I ended up today in the oldest one in town, from the 17th century. It is beautifully decorated inside*, but with terribly uncomfortable benches (not agreeing well with my neck). However, they follow a 'high church' liturgy which means you get to stand up every five minutes or so. A bit confusing when you're out of practice (what? again? but we just sat down!); but with difficulties sitting too long in the same position, I have come to regard it as a good thing. The 'high church' profile also means that the service almost always includes the holy communion. Which I also regard as a good thing.

Water colour by Lars Lerin

Another good thing about this church is that I don't know a whole lot of people there. I do have a friend who sings in the choir (classical music kind of choir, and they were singing today), and occasionally I might run into one or two other aquaintances. But I don't get attacked by people jumping to conclusions like a/ I'm a lost sheep come back and intending to come every Sunday hereafter, or b/ asking me if I'm in town for a visit and what do I work with these days (I never moved away, and I've been in early retirement for six years). Sorry, getting a bit ironic there... But sometimes I actually prefer the more anonymous atmosphere.

In the liturgical year, it's Lady Day or the Feast of Annunciation. I'm learning the English terms for it as I write... Well, that's 25 March really, i.e. 9 months before the date we celebrate the Birth of Christ. But that's what the sermon was about. Otherwise usually not a whole lot of fuss made about Mary (mother of Jesus) in the Protestant churches.

I'm not going to try to recapitulate the whole of the sermon here (don't think I could, anyway), but the text was about how Mary, after she finds herself pregnant, goes to see Elizabeth, mother-to-be of John the Baptist, who is a bit further along in her pregnancy. And Elizabeth says to Mary: "As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy." (Luke 1:44) Now, the clergyman (male) who was preaching took a somewhat unusual angle on this, focusing on the  sensation of a kick in the stomach for other reasons - which even a man can feel. The image has its limitations, I suppose, but somehow it still lingers with me:
The ability of a Word to give you a Kick...

* Some day in the summer season, I will go back as blogging tourist and take pictures. Not the right occasion to do that today.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Going Round In Circles

You might have been imagining me getting all caught up in scrapbooking inspiration after last weekend. Sorry, that's not it. It's just been One of Those Weeks. As the title implies: Going Round In Circles, without much evidence that I've accomplished anything at all.

Yesterday is a perfect example of the Great Nothing. First, I woke up to find myself (like the day before) enclosed by thick gray fog outside the windows. It was also raining - which, however, I sort of welcome now, to help get rid of the snow. So, in spite of the rain, I went out to post a letter that I had written the day before. When I eventually reached the letterbox (still having to make a lot of detours because of ice and unexpected lakes in the streets), I found that the letter was by then sort of turning back into pulp, because it had been sticking up out of the pocket where I kept it during the walk, and raindrops had been running down my raincoat and finding that absorbing envelope a nice place to gather...

So the letter went back home with me again, or I might have caused the whole content of the letterbox to merge into one wet illegible lump that no one would know what to do with. Luckily I had the text of the letter saved in my computer, so I've printed it out again. Maybe this afternoon or tomorrow I'll put it in a water-proof and carefully zipped-up bag and take the bus into town to try to find some place dry to post it...

Now, if you're wondering why on earth I still persist in using this old-fashioned method of posting things, the answer in this case is that it was a letter to my Letter-Writing Friend who has recently gone off to Spain again. And while there, they only check their emails occasionally at the local library.

Well. Later on in the day, yesterday, I sat down to write an email-letter to another friend. Then, when pressing the send button, instead of the usual confirmation that it got sent off, I found myself facing a sign telling me to "log in". Eh? So I logged in. And the only trace I found of the email was the first few lines of it saved as a draft. The rest of it had just disappeared. (I checked with the intended receiver - it had not turned up at his end either.) I guess I got disconnected from my broadband for a while and was put in an "off line" mode which allowed me to keep writing, but without access to the auto-saving function. Why are there no warning signs popping up for that kind of thing, while you keep getting "warned" about all sorts of other things all the time which you are already fully aware of?!

Anyway. That's how to keep yourself busy without having anything to show for it.

So today, so far, feels a bit like Groundhog Day (the movie) - repeating yesterday! Only hopefully with somewhat better luck. Perhaps.

PS. The photo is of an old sundial in our museum park.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

St Patrick's Day

Having become a Blog World Citizen, new days of Celebration are added all the time! Like today: Saint Patrick's Day. Inspired by the scrapbooking fair I went to on Sunday (and some of the things I bought) I made the card above, with this week's theme at the Soaring Through the World in Pictures blog in mind: Touch of Luck. For the photo, I put the card with one of my potted plants, a red-leaved variety of Oxalis triangularis.

Saint Patrick (circa 387–461 AD) is patron saint of Ireland because he brought Christianity to the Irish. Legend says he taught them about the Christian concept of the Trinity by referring to the shamrock, a three-leaved clover, using this as symbol of the 'three divine persons in the one God'. Legend also credits Patrick with banishing snakes from the island. Evidence however suggests that Ireland never had snakes (or at least very few of them). But the snake did belong in Celtic symbolism, representing magic, druid wisdom, and the cycle of life/rebirth (because it sheds its skin). While in Christian symbolism, the serpent is a symbol of temptation, deceit and evil (Satan). So the banishing of the snake by St Patrick was most likely symbolic of getting rid of the old pagan religion.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Sacred Diary

This is a blog post without a point (that remark directed at a certain reader who wondered if there always has to be one). So I'll make three.

1/ I seem to be in an every-other-day mode at the moment. Every other day (or so) I get inspired to "do things", and the next day I find myself totally exhausted and not wanting to do anything at all. On Sunday I went to that scrapbooking event, which was costly but interesting. Yesterday I can't even remember what I did, all I know is that I had intended to go out in the afternoon, but ended up sleeping instead (in spite of sunshine outside). So I'm writing this down mainly to remind myself tomorrow of what I did today...

2/ It's still a cold and dangerous world out there. Normally (a word that does not really apply to this winter) I prefer to go shopping etc in the morning; but when it's -12° in the morning and +5° in the afternoon, it seems better from that aspect to reverse things. Some spots are also still really icy, so I decided to take the bus half way to the supermarket. For safety! But for some reason, although I had pressed the bell in good time, the driver did not stop at the bus stop; I had to shout "hey", and then he brought the bus to a very sudden halt, way past the platform. Getting off, the step was really too high for me, and I was "this" close to falling (making a gesture you can't see). As a result I now have pain in a hip and knee which are otherwise usually among the less painful parts of my body. By the time I got home (walking now in spite of all seemed safer than getting on another bus), I again felt exhausted, so I can only guess that tomorrow will be another sleeping-day. (And laundry. Mustn't forget...)

3/ After writing the post entitled Church(es) the other day, I decided to reread The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass (aged 37 3/4). I found that this book still has me ROTFLOL (web abbreviaton for "rolling on the floor laughing out loud"); except that I try staying on the bed, because that's more comfortable than the floor. Anyway, I think I shall have to try and get hold of it in English, too, because I only have the Swedish translation, and there are some puns and anagrams in it that I'd really like to know the original versions of...

I'm tired, and aching. Think I'd better get back to my bed and my book!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Quotation of the Week (11/2010)

For it was not into my ear that you whispered,
but into my heart.
It was not my lips you kissed,
but my soul.

Judy Garland

Sunday, 14 March 2010

An Expensive Sunday Afternoon

Usually, I keep to pretty inexpensive pleasures. Last week’s art exhibition for example had a very moderate entrance fee, and the tour of the Town Hall didn’t cost anything at all. Today, however, I went on a more costly adventure.  I read in the paper about a scrapbooking trade fair taking place at an exhibition hall not too far from where I live, and decided it might be fun to go and have a look around. After a long winter in hibernation I’m kind of itching to “do things” now.
The thing about trade fairs, though, is that they never come cheap. First of all, you have to pay a pretty large sum of money just to get in; even though their sole purpose is to sell stuff to you.


The purpose of the entrance fee (I suspect) is to make you feel obliged to then buy a lot of things marked “bargain” or “sale” or “three for the price of two” to make up for that extra money you had to pay to get in there at all. Sneaky, but it works.


Browsing around among the stalls at a fair like this, even if you’re not really all that much of a scrapbooking fanatic (as I kept telling myself…) - it’s very easy to still find yourself picking up some plain cards at one stall, a few sheets of coloured paper at another, a box of little flowers at a third, some pretty ribbons at a fourth… Paying for each item to separate salesmen keeps you in the illusion that you have hardly spent any money at all!


I think I had not quite grasped before how much scrapbooking has been growing as a hobby also in Sweden. I browse my Australian friend Rose-Anne’s blog sometimes – she keeps making beautiful cards at incredible speed and mentioning names of tools and things that go way over my head. (I still have no idea what a cuttlebug is!) Walking around this scrapbooking trade fair made me feel even  more like an amateur. So many things I had no idea how to use! And in spite of that, the amount of money in my purse kept mysteriously shrinking.

Luckily I had only brought a limited sum of money, and the decision not to use my credit card. So I got out before I got ruined! And here’s my booty:
DSCN5144-1 DSCN5145

Now all I need is someone with a birthday coming up soon so that I’ve got a reason to make a card!

The exhibition hall where the trade fair took place is an interesting place in itself. I’ll get back to that in my Picture Book blog next week, I think.

Friday, 12 March 2010


Over the past few months, one of my Friendly Followers and Bloglings (GB) has posted a number of pictures of different kinds of church buildings in New Zealand. Somehow, his last church post (from the Anglican cathedral in Napier) led my thoughts back to a picture I had pinned up on my notice board for many years in my previous flat.
I had some trouble finding it now but at last I did. (Not on the internet, but in one of my drawers.) It's a postcard of an oil painting by a Swedish artist, Olle Olsson-Hagalund (1904-1972), entitled "Girl with plaster churches". As you can see, he depicts a girl having a bit of trouble choosing between a number of different models of churches for sale at a market.

There is no Wikipedia article in English for this artist, but if you click on his name above, the link will transport you to a Swedish website where you can have a look at some more of his paintings. His style is somewhat naivistic, very colourful, and marked by a lot of detail. He often also framed his paintings himself and then also painted the frame in his own very original style, to become part of the picture. (There are some examples of that too on that website.)

I saw a large collection of his paintings "live" at an exhibition back in the 1990s, and I think it's the only temporary art exhibition that I ever went back to three times (in a month or two) because I liked it so much. I also remember some of the things I learned about him - like the fact that when he went to his studio to paint, he used to put on his best suit! It was a feast for him to paint; and the joy of it often shows in his pictures. The painting of the girl with the churches was also included in that exhibition.

When I had that card put up on my wall, I combined it with a quote from an interview with the English writer Adrian Plass. His most famous book is probably The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37¾ (from 1987). (Ha! I only just now learned the full title of it - the Swedish translation leaves out the 37¾! I wonder why - I absolutely love that!) There are also a couple of sequels to that first one; but the first one was especially hilarious because the first time you read it you're not prepared (or at least I wasn't) so it takes you by surprise.
It is a very humourus, fictional satire of Christian life - "including such moments as trying to move a paperclip by faith" (sentence quoted from the Wiki article).

I find the book quite unique in that Plass manages to make fun of things without ever getting really mean or bitter about them. Part of the secret might be that he lends his own name to the main character and narrator of the story. This underlines that he is not just making fun of "other people" but of himself. And somehow he manages to catch the struggles, the stupid extremes, and the grains of true faith and love in the midst of it, "all in one". (I've been in churches very much like his fictional church; pretty much every scene in the book is familiar to me.)

This blog post is all digressions so far. I wonder if I'll ever be able to get round to some sort of point?

Getting back to that little piece of a quote that used to sit on my notice board, together with the Girl With Churches picture: That interview with Adrian Plass was published in a Swedish magazine, in 1996, i.e. some years after The Sacred Diary. In the interview, Adrian mentions that through the years, he has come to realize that he really belongs to two churches. One consists of the Christian friends who he is actually spending time with, talking to, sharing his life with. That "church" has no written rules, no real structure, and no building - but nonetheless, those people are his church. But then, at the same time, there is also the church that he formally belongs to (which does have rules, and structure, and a building to meet in); and going to services there he sees as a sort of public confession of his faith and of belonging to the Christian Church as such.

Now why did I have this picture, and this quote on my wall? Maybe after my ramblings here you can more or less guess. Through my life, I have "collected" a number of churches myself. Sometimes, the choice has come naturally, because of facts of life like moving from one town to another. Sometimes, there have been choices a little more complicated. But basically, around the time that I went to that art exhibition and read that interview back in the 90s, I found myself in a position similar to what Adrian describes. In my heart, there was one church of friends. But those friends did not all go to the same building to express their faith; and in some ways I found myself (like the girl in  the picture) embracing a whole "set" of different churches (with the same basic beliefs, but some different ways of expressing them).

Nowadays, with pain problems and things like that in the picture for me as well, I don't go regularly to any church. And when I do go, I have become a bit of a "browser". But there is still a church - or the church - in my heart. And over the last year, that church has kept growing faster than for a very long time. Because (somewhat to my amazement) I keep finding "church-building" ingredients everywhere in this cyberspace: wonderings, thoughtfulness, questions, doubts, faith, discussions, prayers, longing, worship, wisdom, laughter, tears, sharing and caring! Thank you.


“It's rubbish to tell people that we can easily dispose of life's huge questions once and for all. We all have times when we're bad-tempered or we grumble. We all have doubts. What's wrong with saying that?”
Adrian Plass

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Spring Cleaning

Whilst I'm convinced that anyone speaking fluent Swedish would "get" this picture immediately, I'm feeling less sure about my English-speaking friends. I had to go to to find the word Dust Rat in English. (The Swedish equivalent is quite commonly used.)

Anyway, I've been doing a bit of Spring Cleaning this week, inspired by a few sunny days, and the fact that an old friend whom I hadn't seen in a long time was coming to visit today.

Unfortunately, yesterday the sun went into hiding again, and for tomorrow the weather forecast predicts another round of snow or slush.

We don't want more snow, we have plenty of left-overs as it is. What we need is a real Spring Cleaning, getting rid not only of Dust Rats inside, but of the Snow Heffalumps outside:

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

A Bit of Family History

After looking at my blog pictures of the Town Hall centenary (see previous post), my aunt pointed out to me that my maternal grandmother, back in the 1920’s, worked as a secretary in this very building.
This is a photo of my grandmother at work.  Thought it might be fun to include that here, since you have already been shown the building!

I borrowed my aunt’s family album a couple of years ago and quick-copied some of the photos and notes in it using my digital camera. So my copies aren’t top quality. The ones I’m showing here I have tried to edit a little using Picasa, to make them sharper; and adding new frames in Windows Live Writer. 


Here’s another photo of my grandmother from the 1920s which I like.
I asked my aunt if she knew any details about the car, but unfortunately she doesn’t. If any old car enthusiast among my readers has an idea about what kind of car it is, please comment!
Wedding picture from 1928.

A fun piece of family history is that my maternal grandparents got to know each other by a newspaper ad leading to correspondence between them using shorthand/stenography!

My grandfather was from the north of Sweden, and in his youth worked at a sawmill up there; but went on to study to become a teacher (and later in life headmaster). My grandmother lived down here in the south. When my mother was born the family was living up north; but a year or so after that they moved down here.

My grandmother died when I was 6 years old, only a few months before my brother and my oldest cousin were born (my cousin just before Christmas and my brother three weeks later). So I’m the only grandchild to have some memories of my own of my grandmother.
(My grandfather later remarried.)

In a interview from another blogger about a year ago, I shared a childhood memory that included this set of grandparents. I decided to repeat it here, and include a picture that I did not have back then:
What is your favourite childhood memory?
Some people seem to have their childhood all sorted out in a series of stories. For me it's more like scattered snapshot images and I think they often involve something that seemed a bit unusual or new to me at the time. Quite a few early images are connected with visits to other people's houses.

The surroundings where my maternal grandparents lived changed dramatically while I was growing up. When I was little, their house was one of just two in otherwise rural surroundings, with a view overlooking fields with cows and haystacks. As I grew older, the town kept coming closer and closer - blocks of flats towering up in the late 60's and early 70's, shopping centres and villas added, until the house my grandfather built back in the 30's was just one among many other houses in a suburban street.
An old photo of the view from my grandparents’ house (sent to me by my aunt). This is what it looked like in my early childhood. Since the 70s the view is quite different – actually reminding a bit of Lars Lerin’s suburban paintings that I just recently showed in another blogpost…

Other people own that house now since many years back. But whenever I am in that neighbourhood, a series of memory snapshots from the late 50's or very early 60's pop up in my head. Me walking with my grandfather over the fields on a sunny summer day, with an old-fashioned metal milk can, to fetch milk directly from a farm in the neighbourhood - "straight from the cows". (This was unusual to me, because in town, the milk in those days came in brown glass bottles with soft metal caps on top.) Opening wooden gates and shutting them. Stopping to pick wild strawberries. On the farm, two huge carthorses inside the stable (I see them from behind, standing in their boxes, towering up high above me - it's dark inside the stable with just some light coming in through the open door). My grandmother (who died when I was six) in their big kitchen, skimming the cream off the milk in a bowl on the workbench by the window overlooking the front garden. Tasting the lukewarm milk - I didn't much like it. Grandma making small pancakes in a special iron on the stove - no one else I knew made those. (My parents are not in the picture, I guess they had gone on a short summer holiday on their own and left me with Grandma and Grandpa.)


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