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Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
In my other blog today I have a picture of a strawberry cake, and Sandra (from sunny Florida) wanted to know whether we grow our own strawberries in Sweden. Yes we do. We usually get the first Swedish ones in time for Midsummer (at least here in the south), and the season lasts towards the end of July, something like that. This year, because spring was late and the early summer rather chilly, the price of strawberries for Midsummer was WAY up, since they are an important part of our Midsummer food traditions. I bought one carton on Midsummer Day, even though it was ridiculously expensive. Today I bought another, but at almost half the price compared to Saturday. I feel pretty certain that in a week or so the price will be even lower.
There are also strawberry farms where you can go and pick your own and then of course they’re cheaper still. But I buy mine at the supermarket or in the marketplace in town; I only buy them to eat fresh, and not to make jam etc. It’s one of the things that I indulge myself with in the summer season.
PS. The kitchen scales in the second picture once were my grandmother’s, now mine.
Monday, 28 June 2010
I wonder how many times in my “career” as a blogger so far (1½ years) that I’ve faced that choice? Usually I am already logged in when I read blogs and comment, so just skip right to the publish button – and so I was today… but because the content of what I had just been writing was about identity, suddenly the choices stood out for me.
Heather had a post about the struggle of being oneself (well, that’s the short version of my interpretation – you might form your own by visiting her blog). And it set me thinking back on various conversations with people over the years… 40 or so… about how we look upon ourselves and how we think that others see us; and sometimes those images are surprisingly wide apart.
Moreover: sometimes what we think that others are thinking about us is not even what they are thinking at all, but turns out to be only what we are thinking that they are thinking. And on top of that, what they are thinking about themselves might also be very far from what we are thinking that they are thinking!
Was anyone able to follow that? ;)
The bottom line is that we all have our identity struggles. Most of us have a lot of roles to juggle about during our lifetime: in the family, in school, at work, in church, in different groups of friends, whatever.
We “log in” and accept certain rules of behaviour in one context, keep more of an “open identity” in another, and choose to be “anonymous” in a third.
Often we tend to fall into the same pattern automatically, in the same kind of circumstances. And we may think no more about it than we usually do when Blogger tells us to “Choose an identity”.
Perhaps sometimes we should stop and think a bit more about it?
Writing this, I also keep getting bits and pieces from Paul Simon’s album Surprise weaving in and out of my thoughts. Link goes to his website where the titles of the songs on this album can be seen, and if you click on the titles you get the full lyrics. (Only wish I could provide the music, too.) My problem is that it’s hard to choose just one or two quotes; the whole album really deals with related stuff. From the first song How can you live in the Northeast to the last one Father and daughter. Okay, so I’ll choose one quote from the first and one from the last…
Weak as the winter sun, we enter life on earth. Names and religion come just after date of birth. Then everybody gets a tongue to speak, and everyone hears an inner voice. A day at the end of the week to wonder and rejoice.
~P. Simon: How can you…~
There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you. Trust your intuition. It’s just like goin’ fishin’. You cast your line and hope you get a bite. But you don’t need to waste your time worrying about the marketplace, try to help the human race, struggling to survive its harshest night. I’m gonna watch you shine, gonna watch you grow. Gonna paint a sign so you’ll always know. As long as one and one is two.
~P. Simon: Father and daughter~
A man would do well to carry a pencil in his pocket, and write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought are commonly the most valuable, and should be secured, because they seldom return.
~Francis Bacon (1561-1626)~
Sunday, 27 June 2010
… The title alluding, of course, to “the ghost of Christmas past” in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens…
On my way home from the very crowded Midsummer’s Eve celebration in the museum park on Friday afternoon (link to Friday’s post in my Picture Book blog), I passed this smaller maypole of different design in a totally empty park closer to home. I knew there had been a smaller celebration there the day before – probably for elderly people living in the buildings close by – but as I passed on the actual Eve, it was deserted. Coming from that other place (where all the people were) the impression of loneliness was increased.
Looking through the photos now, some memories from the past came fluttering by. For young people, Midsummer’s Eve is a night to stay up late – preferably all night – together with friends. I do remember some such Midsummers. Since I spent them with friends from church though, and none of us drank alcohol, it never got really “wild”. For some people… unfortunately, Midsummer is drinking, to the extent that they can hardly even remember the next day what they did the night before. That (I’m glad to say) was never part of my own experience. But staying up all night was, on a few occasions.
I was never really a night-owl by nature, though. And these days I certainly am not! So what all this rambling down Memory Lane is leading up to… is that on this Midsummer’s Eve, in fact I had an unusually early night. I was going to add that I took David to bed with me, but then realized that very few readers will know who – or what – DaViD is. He’s a portable DVD-player. Well, now that I’ve enlightened you on that point, I can write it: I took David to bed with me. We watched one episode of Monk (American detective series) and then I told him to shut up and close his eye, and then I did the same; and I dare say we were both asleep by 10.30 pm.
Ironically, on a New Year’s Eve, an early night is not to think of, because then everyone is shooting fireworks all night long and especially around midnight. But on Midsummer’s Eve, it can be blissfully quiet around here, because 1/ fireworks are not part of the tradition, and 2/ most people seem to be celebrating Somewhere Else.
Saturday, 26 June 2010
In my Picture Book blog today I posted some pictures from yesterday’s Midsummer celebrations in our museum park. It was very crowded there yesterday, so not a good opportunity to get photos of details. I mentioned however that the stony ground in one of those pictures was a stone labyrinth. In a comment I was asked “What did they do with it?”
I went back to my photos from a less crowed visit to the same park last summer, and managed to “track down” (ha) the pictures above, where you can see it a little better. It’s still hard to make out the pattern (you’d need to take the picture from above I think) but it is of the single-path spiral kind, which means you are inevitably led into the middle and then back out again.
As the very interesting Wikipedia article on Labyrinths points out, there is a difference between a labyrinth and a maze. A maze is a complex construction in which you have to guess your way among a lot of choices. In a single-path labyrinth you just follow the path laid out for you (and contemplate the mysteries of it).
In Swedish we use the name labyrint for both kinds. But there is also an old name “trojaborg”. This name refers back to the city of Troy from Greek legends. The walls of Troy were said to be constructed in such a confusing and complex way that any enemy who entered them would be unable to find his way out. In Britain too, there are some turf mazes which include Troy in their name.
Most likely they were used for ritual purposes. Quoting the paragraph on Cultural Meanings in the Wikipedia article:
Prehistoric labyrinths are believed to have served as traps for malevolent spirits or as defined paths for ritual dances. In medieval times, the labyrinth symbolized a hard path to God with a clearly defined center (God) and one entrance (birth).
Labyrinths can be thought of as symbolic forms of pilgrimage; people can walk the path, ascending toward salvation or enlightenment. Many people could not afford to travel to holy sites and lands, so labyrinths and prayer substituted for such travel. Later, the religious significance of labyrinths faded, and they served primarily for entertainment, though recently their spiritual aspect has seen a resurgence.
Many newly made labyrinths exist today, in churches and parks. Labyrinths are used by modern mystics to help achieve a contemplative state. Walking among the turnings, one loses track of direction and of the outside world, and thus quiets the mind.
And Plato in his Socratic dialogues describes the labyrinthine line of a logical argument in these words (again quoting Wikipedia):
"Then it seemed like falling into a labyrinth: we thought we were at the finish, but our way bent round and we found ourselves as it were back at the beginning, and just as far from that which we were seeking at first." ... Thus the present-day notion of a labyrinth as a place where one can lose [his] way must be set aside. It is a confusing path, hard to follow without a thread, but, provided [the traverser] is not devoured at the midpoint, it leads surely, despite twists and turns, back to the beginning.
For me, putting together this post, my thoughts are led back to some words repeated with slight variation throughout the Book of Revelation:
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the First and the Last,
the Beginning and the End.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself"
Easy to quote; a lot harder sometimes to know how to actually practice.
I have to confess that I’ve not been feeling very neighbourly this afternoon.
I don’t really know my neighbours in this building; but I’m also usually not much disturbed by them. Today, however, I got into a bit of a ‘tiff’ with the ones above me. I suppose it might be said I started the tiffing. But only because they emptied a bucket or two of water over me!
They call it cleaning their balcony.But it had rather the opposite effect on mine.
Attempting to see some Glad Game points (thinking of blogging friend GB who is a frequent player of that game), I’m trying to tell myself to be grateful that at least I was not sitting outside when it happened. (Not to mention even more obvious things, like I should be happy to have a roof over my head at all and so on and so forth.)
Nonetheless I still feel the need to whine a little bit before I let it go.
It was a sunny afternoon and I had been sitting on the balcony earlier, and thought I might do so again. So the cushions were still in my deck chair. But I happened to be inside as I suddenly heard a splash of water against my windows. This surprised me. There had been some clouds in the sky on and off, but they had not seemed like the threatening type of clouds. And as for rain to be hitting the windows of my living room with such noise, it would really take quite a stormwind (considering that there is another balcony above mine).
My immediate reaction though was just to hurry out to take in the cushions from the deckchair. Doing so, I noticed that the sun was still shining, and in spite of this water was pouring heavily down from above – and not just splashing down on the parasol and railing either, but also mysteriously right on top of my head and shoulders as I opened the balcony door! This was no ordinary rainshower. Neither was it just someone over-watering their flower-boxes a little. It was more like the Great Flood. And not just clean water either.
The deck chair cushion was already wet. I got it in, and then there was another Splash of water dripping down on both the outside and the inside of the balcony. It kept on drip-dropping for quite a while…
I took some deep breaths to calm myself. What’s the ‘right’ reaction to something like this? (How would you react?)
One alternative, of course, might be to just pretend it was raining, even though by now I knew better. But then that might leave the neighbours with the happy illusion that pouring buckets of water over their balcony floor on a sunny afternoon does not in the least affect the people living below. And who knows how often they might then get it into their head to repeat it.
So I decided to go up and calmly tell them that it does actually cause some trouble for others (me) when they do this; presuming that they might just not realize that.
So I went upstairs and rang the doorbell and said to the young(ish) woman who opened: Excuse me, I just want to point out that when you wash your balcony floor, most of the water comes down onto my balcony.
She just stared at me and said that she needed to wash her floor and that she is entitled to do what she wants in her own home. Not even an attempt at saying “I’m sorry”. When I explained that I got everything wet, and had I happened to be sitting out there I would have gotten all wet too, she just said: well, it could just as well have been a rain shower, couldn’t it?! (I did not go into all the details of explaining to her why it could not.)
She also asked how else she was supposed to get her floor clean? I suggested that one way might be to mop the floor the same way you normally do indoors. Which usually does not involve emptying whole buckets of water over the floor. (It doesn’t for me, anyway!) She still made no attempt to say sorry or that she would think about that next time; she just kept staring at me, as if I were the crazy one.
So I did not know what else to say but just shook my head and went back down to my own flat – feeling more upset after that conversation (if it can be called that) than I was before, because I really hate getting into “discussions” like this. If she had just had the decency to say “I’m sorry, I’ll try not to let it happen again” I would have been okay with that. But the attitude I was actually met by, I do not feel “okay” with.
And because of that little incident I’m now letting my bad mood pour over you innocent readers instead… Sorry! I hope it will not cause too much of a Domino effect…
Here’s a picture of a pansy from my balcony to brighten up the mood again. Photo taken after a real rain shower some other day:
Do you let them change your mind about reading/not reading a particular book?
I often read reviews in my local newspaper, and occasionally in other newspapers and magazines. I also read book reviews on certain blogs that I follow. Sometimes a review may draw my attention to a book I would otherwise not even have heard about. At other times a review may make me think that no, that does not sound like my kind of book. It also happens occasionally that I come across reviews that differ in their opinion, and that might make me curious to form my own impression.
If for some reason I have already made up my mind to read a certain book, one negative review is not very likely to change my mind about it. But an interesting review of a book that I have hitherto not felt inclined to read, might well make me curious enough to give it (another) go.
Unless I feel really sure about a book, I usually try to borrow it from the library rather than buying it.
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
[In Taoism] Yin and Yang are the primordial feminine and masculine energies, symbolic of all polarities of mind, which produce our experience of the world. The categories of Yin and Yang are inter-related and mutually-arising: you can’t have one without the other! The classic example of Yang is the sunny side of a mountain; and Yin, the shady side. Within every human body – men and women alike – there exists both Yin and Yang energy.
Monday, 21 June 2010
In the previous post about the royal wedding I included among my photos from the TV screen some views of Stockholm and the time of night they were taken. (Compare collage above.)
This caused some comments like “when does it get dark there”?!
Since today is also the Summer Solstice, I thought I might make a separate blog post about that.
The time of year does make a big difference at this latitude. Our capital Stockholm is at approx 59°N on the east coast. There today the sun rose at ~3:30 AM and set at ~10:10 PM. I live further to the south-west and here the sun rose about half an hour later, but at sunset the difference is only a few minutes.
At midsummer the sky is not completely dark even at midnight on a clear day. (What struck me after I made that comment yesterday though is that since we are on summer time/daylight saving time, midnight is not actually midnight...)
In the very north of Sweden, close to or above the arctic circle, the sun does not set at all around midsummer.
I have been above the arctic circle once in my life, in Kiruna - it was on a family summer holiday trip when I was 13. Mum had a cousin living there. Her father came from up north and actually she too was born in the north although they moved down south shortly afterwards. In the late 1970s I made a trip of my own as far north as Piteå (below the polar circle but not very far from); that too was in the summer.
Someone asked me in an email about the hours of our stores and restaurants, if they stay open as long as it's light. What do I know – I don’t stay up that long… LOL… More seriously, I suppose there are some places in typical tourist towns, especially seaside resorts and such places, that keep open longer than usual in the summer. (I doubt any of them go exactly by the sunset though.) I know some restaurants and cafés as well as some museums and other tourist attractions are only open at all in the summer. But then there are some inland towns that more or less shut down in July (because “everyone” goes away on holiday). In July, by the way, you should not expect to find (m)any of the regular staff in any workplace in Sweden! We are a strange people ;) and we like to take advantage of the short summer that we have...
So yes, even I often stay up a little longer than usual in the summer evenings. But I’m not really a night owl by nature – I need my sleep. In the summer I put up darker curtains in my bedroom (which faces north-east). That helps a little in the morning.
Now it’s really past my bedtime (10.40 PM). Tomorrow the days start getting shorter again… hm… Actually, midsummer often feels more like the beginning of summer rather than mid summer; July and August usually being warmer. This year, we have not had any real heat wave yet; some sunny days, but still rather cool nights and mornings. (For which I’m mostly grateful; hot nights are a worse problem sleep-wise than the light for me.)
Sunday, 20 June 2010
I had not really planned to keep watching the whole evening, but I ended up doing so. It was really quite a unique occasion in many ways. Swedish Television was allowed 10 cameras within the palace, rolling most of the evening. We did not get to watch them eat (four courses) but we got to listen to the speeches, and see the bride cut the wedding cake, and the newlywed couple dance the first waltz. I have to say that they succeeded unusually well in making this whole wedding a celebration for “all the people” and just not for the guests invited. (Not so few. Around 1200 something in the church, and 600 something at the dinner.)
8:15 pm – Arriving to the Wedding Dinner Party
The speeches at this wedding were all very good, and with quite a personal touch. One thing that sticks in my memory, is Daniel himself saying that it took more than one kiss to turn him into a prince. (The couple have known each other eight years.)
And then, finally, the TV cameras were turned off…
… and phew, this crazy blogger obsessed with taking photos from the TV screen could finally also put her camera down and go to bed …