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Beyond the Lone Islands

http://dawntreader-island2.blogspot.com

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Food For Thought

2010 07 31 food

Even when not sitting at the computer, I often find myself thinking of my friends in the Blog World.

Today around noon I went for a walk into town, and “for once” (it does not happen very often) I decided to just buy a hamburger and fries for lunch and eat them on a park bench.

While drinking the diet coke, I found myself inevitably thinking of Rae in Texas.

Then I decided to get some ice cream on top of that. After all, who knows how many sunny summer days we have left? This led my thoughts to Jeannette in California. (The flavours in that cone, Jeannette, are chocolate and vanilla/kiwi!)

Later in the afternoon, at home, I ate a yellow kiwifruit. (I know it looks green in the picture but it is supposed to be yellow!) It made me think of GB, who has been having a rather rainy Hebridean summer, but will get another chance of a sunny one later in New Zealand…

Friday, 30 July 2010

Time For A Change

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Maybe it was all the talk of resurrection and renewal lately that made me finally take the leap and explore the new Blogger templates. 

Here’s a tip if you haven’t already thought of it: I have a hidden, secret “testblog” that no one can see but me. Its only purpose is for me to be able to play about with layout without any risk of messing the real blog up until I feel that I have at least an inkling of what I’m doing.

In spite of that, I haven’t really been playing much with layout. Since I started this blog 1½ years ago, I have only made one change of basic template, and the other big change was when I figured out how to add my own header picture. And I have been rather happy with that.

However. The world around us keeps changing, and sometimes we get hit by a need to make a bit of an effort to keep on top of things…

Because of the blog name, I wanted to keep to the sea and island kind of colour scheme. I also prefer to keep backgrounds simple, not taking too much attention from the actual content of the blog. But I found this wooden background picture that I really like... I find it restful to the eye, and I hope that my readers will like it too.

If any of you have trouble loading the blog or anything like that after the changes, please let me know.

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The wooden clock-sculpture with the cat on top is of course another masterpiece by Uno Axelsson. (For more of of his animal sculptures, look in my Blog Archive for July.) There was a sign on the wall telling exactly how old that tree trunk was (I think it was oak?) and where it had grown, before it came into Uno’s hands. I have forgotten the details now.

That cat on the top might have something to do with a Swedish saying that I’m afraid probably makes even less sense in English than in Swedish. Even the origin of the Swedish word is unknown: klockarkatt, which would mean “cat belonging to a bell-ringer”. (We use one and the same word in Swedish for bell, clock and watch.) The saying goes “to be in love like a bell-ringer’s cat”, and refers to being a bit crazy and obsessed with the object of your affection. It seems there is also a German word Klosterkatze (“abbey cat”) which might possibly be connected to the Swedish one. If anyone knows more about it, please share.

Anyway… It seems to me that the cat on the top of that clock is keeping close watch on something

Thursday, 29 July 2010

BTT: A Fictional Day At The Beach

 
http://btt2.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/beach-buddies/ 
 
Suggested by Joy: Which fictional character (or group of characters) would you like to spend a day at the beach with? Why would he/she/they make good beach buddies?
 
Now that's a question that requires some thinking... Not what book I'd like to spend a day at the beach with, but what character from the fictional world...!
 
First of all, it was a long time since I spent a whole day at the beach. In fact it has been a long time since I spent a whole day anywhere away from home. Part of the day is another matter. But this summer - and in fact a few summers back - all I've done at any beach or lakeside is really to walk along it, take a few photos, maybe sit down on a bench or rock for a few minutes and contemplate. 
 

Varberg on the West Coast of Sweden, 2001
 
Back in the days when I did sometimes spend a whole day at the beach at a seaside resort, my literary company would often be some crime mystery novel. I'm not sure I would dare bring any of those detectives with me in real life, though, since that would most likely just mean trouble! If I had to choose one of them, I think it would be Miss Marple. We would sit in comfortable deck chairs in the shadow of some tree - she knitting, and I just resting -  and watch people and draw conclusions about them. If she spotted something interesting, I could get up and take a photo, just in case we might find ourselves in need of evidence later. She'd probably have a pair of binoculars rather than a camera; pretending to watch birds rather than people.
 

Whitley Bay, English North Sea Coast, 1971 
 
If I wanted male company, I'd choose Lord Peter Wimsey. You may notice I take an old-fashioned British attitude to beach life. I think they had the right idea. Deck-chairs and fully dressed. Perhaps just a daring bare-foot walk along the shore to feel the water wet your feet. Anyway, other advantages of inviting Lord Peter would be that he would drive me in his car, and Bunter would come along and serve lunch, and sort out the deck chairs and umbrellas and things. And if Peter and I wanted a moment alone, Bunter could go and chat with Miss Marple. I'm sure they'd find plenty to talk about.
 
There. I think I have my day at the beach all set. I just really hope no one dies. A minor mystery of a disappearing piece of jewellry or something would  be excitement enough. 
 

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Trees Are Happy Again

2010 07 28_hägg

Do you remember my “ghost trees” from a month ago? If you want to refresh your memory, click on the link. The post was about Bird Cherry Ermine caterpillars eating all the leaves of the Bird Cherry trees and spinning weird-looking webs all over the place to protect themselves, leaving the trees all grey and ghostlike. I felt shudders down my back every time I passed – so I have been avoiding that path for a while.

Until today. By now I did suspect that the caterpillars would be gone – turned into new little moths. What I had not expected was that at first sight no one would believe there had been anything at all going on here only a few weeks ago!!! The trees have all grown new fresh green leaves; and the berries are turning black (see the picture in the bottom left hand corner of the collage), bearing witness that we are going towards the maturity of the autumn season soon. (Seems the caterpillars don’t eat the fruits, only the leaves?) Only on close inspection could I detect a few remnants of old deserted webs here and there (see the picture to the right.)

I gave the opinion in the previous post that “Some things In Nature are just Strange”. Have to add now that not only is Nature strange, but it also hides (and sometimes reveals) amazing abilities to repair itself!

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20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that[i] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

From Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Chapter 8

       You will go out in joy
       and be led forth in peace;
       the mountains and hills
       will burst into song before you,
       and all the trees of the field
       will clap their hands
.

    Isaiah 55:12

Resurrection part 2: The Beskows

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In Saturday’s Resurrection post I presented some people who were “raised from the dead”  in one of our local graveyards last week to give a history lesson to the public gathered there.

This post is about three people that I excluded from the previous one because I needed to do a bit more research before presenting them to you (or else it would just have been more pictures of the same actors dressed in different clothes).

Only one of them was actually buried in this town (or lived here): Emanuel Beskow, a dean of some importance in the church back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Better known locally than nation-wide. There is no Wikipedia article about him.

But he did have a couple of relatives by the same surname – Beskow - that were more famous: Nathanael and Elsa. And they were invited to the “resurrection party” too:

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Natanael och Elsa Beskow 1937 
Photo of the real Nathanael and Elsa, 1937

Natanael Beskow (1865 – 1953) was a Swedish theologian and school headmaster. He was also active as a preacher, writer, artist, pacifist and social activist. He published a number of collections of sermons and also made substantial contributions as a hymn writer. He was involved with the campaign for women's suffrage in Sweden (which was granted in 1919), and with the labor unions. Beskow was a radical pacifist and also became a prominent negotiator. He was even nominated for the Nobel peace prize in 1947 (but did not get it).

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His wife Elsa Beskow (née Maartman) (1874 – 1953) was a Swedish author and illustrator of children's books. She studied art at a university college. She met Nathanael when she was teaching at a school where he was the headmaster. They got married in 1897. They had six sons.

In her books, Elsa frequently combined reality with elements from the fairy tale world. Children meet elves or goblins, and animals talk with people. Central themes were the relationships between children and adults and children's independent initiative.

Elsa became one of the most well known of all Swedish children's book artists. Many of her books became classics and are continually reprinted.

Searching for images on the web, I found that quite a few of her books have been translated into English. Like these, which I remember well from my own childhood (in Swedish):

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Elsa Beskow (FI-468696)

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Beskow_childrenoftheforest

Beskow_tomtebobarnen

Did you ever come across any of these books?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Art of Dribbling

Audio Book Review: Unseen Academicals

Candleholder2 

Going out for lunch yesterday with my aunt and uncle who were visiting, I came across this candle holder.

It led my thoughts back to the Discworld novel Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, which I recently listened to as audio book. I find it a bit hard to write proper reviews of books I have only audio memories of, i.e. without being able to go back to the text and check details and quotes etc. But I thought I’d write down a few impressions anyway.

The main story in the book – I suppose – is about the Unseen University forming a football team. But, as two quotes from the book say (I found these on the internet):

The thing about football - the important thing about football - is that it is not just about football.

You're saying that football is not about football?
It's the sharing, she said. It's being part of the crowd. It's chanting together. It's all of it. the whole thing.

And this goes for the book as well. It’s about football but it’s also not about football but about sharing and being part of the crowd.

One new Discworld character in this novel is Mr Nutt, who is a candle dribbler at the Unseen University. Because at a Wizards’ University, you cannot leave an important thing like candle dribbling up to chance and wind. It is a job that takes some skill!

So that’s why Mr Nutt came to mind for me when I saw that candle holder.

Mr Nutt of course also gets involved in the football theme and team. And in the midst of it all, he makes some discoveries about himself and goes through a sort of identity crisis; as do some of the other characters, although in different ways. References to Freudian psychology will probably amuse anyone interested in that sort of thing (at least they amused me). In the book, hypnosis of origin from Überwald is used to bring out hidden secrets.

Überwald in the Discworld effectively comprises two utterly distinct societies; the dwarfs, who exist below in their cavernous cities and tunnels, and everybody else, who live above. By tradition, the laws of the surface people do not apply underground, and vice versa.
(Wikipedia article on Discworld Geography)

Actually, my Quotation of the Week in yesterday’s blog post (about mistaking oneself for somebody else) might be said to fit in quite well with Mr Nutt. Although…

No, I’m not going to reveal the details.
You’d better read the book to find out!

As usual, even though Unseen Academicals is No 37 in the Discworld series (and by now I have read them all), I don’t think this one requires you to have read any of the previous ones to be able to get some enjoyment out of it. All that is required is that you’re prepared for a fantasy world which is like and unlike our own world at the same time.

To finish off with, here’s the definition of:

Dribble (v.tr.)
1. To let flow or fall in drops or an unsteady stream.
2. Sports a. To move (a ball or puck) by repeated light bounces or kicks, as in basketball or soccer.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Quotation of the Week (26/2010)

And yet self-knowledge is thought by some not so easy. Who knows, my dear sir, but for a time you may have taken yourself for somebody else? Stranger things have happened.

Herman Melville
(1809-1891)

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(Photo cf. Saturday’s post.)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Hot Dogs and Crying Ladies

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Do you celebrate Name Days where you live?

In Sweden, from the 18th century onwards, names used by the royal family were introduced to the Swedish list of name days, followed by other common names. The monopoly on almanacs, held by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, expired in 1972 and so did the official name day list. Competing lists began to emerge. However, widespread dissatisfaction with the confusions of different lists prompted the Swedish Academy to compile a new two-name list which was accepted in 2001 and in nation-wide use since then.

By old tradition, the week just gone by, 19-24 July, has six female names in a row: Sara, Margareta, Johanna, Magdalena, Emma, Kristina. (My middle name is Christina.) So it has been called Women’s Week, and also names like Tear Week, since it also has the rumour of often being wet and rainy.

We’ve had some rain this week, but also sun. Today the Crying Women’s Week is officially over. (Name of the Day is Jakob). But I woke up to 10°C (the coldest we’ve had in a long time) and heavy rain all morning. So obviously men cry too! I’m not putting too much trust in the old folklore…

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So what about the dogs? Well, I learned yesterday from Ginny’s blog that in English this time of the year – not just last week but about a month onwards - is often referred to as Dog Days. I found this piece of information fascinating, and further research resulted in a post at my Harry Potter blog Through My Spectrespecs: Dog Days and Sirius Black. The connection is that the name “dog days” go back to Greek and Roman traditions, referring to the star Sirius, also called the Dog Star. And for those not familiar with the Potter books, Sirius Black is a character in the HP books who sometimes takes on the shape of a dog. For details, go read the other blog!

In Swedish, we also have a name for this period corresponding to the English Dog Days, but in our language and tradition it does not refer neither to dogs nor the star Sirius; but would simply be translated “rot month”. The month when things tend to go bad, one way or another. Especially before the days of refrigerators and freezers, it was difficult to keep food fresh during this often hot and humid period of the year. This also led to infections and diseases; the connection perhaps not always clear to people in the past. I guess it was also a critical time for harvests, which could either get too much water from above or too little. In folklore, it was also said to be a month when all kinds of sinister omens might occur -  like calves being born with two heads.

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One hot dog who gets hot when it’s hot (and wet when it’s wet…) My brother’s cairn terrier, Harry. You can also see him at my brother’s blog Cutting Edge Easy Listening. As my brother pointed out in a comment: The dog’s full name is actually Harry Potter, but I had nothing to do with that! (He was named by the children at the kennel where he was born).

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Resurrection

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Now where are all these people headed on a warm summer evening?

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A graveyard chapel? You must be kidding?
Doesn’t really look like a funeral…

Actually it’s rather the opposite of a funeral.
More like a Resurrection!

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Guests of honour arriving from the past: A 19th century district judge with his wife, greeted by a woman journalist from their own time; she too brought back from the dead to do one more scoop.

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Must be an odd feeling looking at one’s own headstone…

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So, what’s going on? It is a live history lesson: a guided tour around a 19th century graveyard. Represented by actors, some old prominent citizens are brought back to life for a short visit, to be interviewed and tell us a bit about their own lives, and the history of the town.

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The resurrected old car they arrived in. (No use asking me for car details; I don’t have them.)

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Another guy risen from his grave – local artist and art teacher John Hedaeus (1872-1967). I managed to find only two of his paintings on the internet. He also did some paintings in churches.

Hedaeus John Kyrkogatan stor Hedaeus, John Vinter stor
Left: Watercolour by John Hedaeus
Right: Oil painting by John Hedaeus

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Another (less well known) artist, son of the journalist who was our guide for the evening, also turned up to “surprise his mum”, and escort her back to their own grave:

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Actually three more people were “raised from the dead” on this Tuesday evening, but I think I’ll let these photos be enough for one blog post.

However, with a theme like this I can’t resist also “doing a Ginny” at the end (referring to my friend of the blog Let Your Light Shine), and finish off with a Bible quote:

“… we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.”
2 Corinthians 4:14

Friday, 23 July 2010

Uno’s Animals: It’s a Wild Life

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Uno often went out into the woods and just sat there observing things; and animals would come up to him and let him get close to them.

His attitude to his own art was that he just “released” the animal shapes that were already there in the pieces of wood he found. He would study the piece of wood and see what was “hidden” in it.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

It’s A Jungle Out There…

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… on my balcony. It’s been a hot summer, and lately also some almost tropical nights. In spite of rain last night and this morning, I still had to feed the tomato plant another big bottle of water this evening… Some sunny days I’ve had to water it two or three times! 

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Cultivated “woodland” strawberries.

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Furry, silky clematis seed heads.

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Nasturtium flower after the rain.

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And here’s the theme song from the TV series Monk from which I stole the title:

I just finished season 7 on DVD and am about to start on the 8th and last, so if you have already seen it, please do NOT tell me how it ends!

Uno’s Animals: Birds

2010 07 152 Uno Birds 1

2010 07 154 Uno Birds 2

2010 07 158 Unos Owls

Uno was 53 years old when he started making wooden sculptures. Altogether he made about 250 of them, big and small. He never sold any of his them. He gave some away, but most of them he kept in a private museum in a barn on his farm. As rumour or his work spread, he got more and more visitors. A few years after he died, the family offered the local folklore society to take over the collection, and a new museum was built next to the village hall. Some of the sculptures have also been exhibited in Stockholm and other cities in Sweden, and even overseas in Mexico, the United States and Canada.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Uno’s Animals: More Farm Animals

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Impossible not to smile at that laugh!

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The cow except for the horns was carved out of one huge piece of oak, which is a very heavy kind of wood. After he had finished the shape of it, he hollowed out the inside to make the sculpture somewhat lighter.

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What came first – the chicken or the egg?

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Hedgehogs.

Scroll down for more posts of Uno's wooden sculptures. There was also a post yesterday at my other blog DawnTreader's Picture Book, which includes photos of the museum building.

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