Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Leave the crutches behind for the party

 In the beginning of the school year, it's socially OK to behave weird in groups. I was proposed to by a girl while some students sang "you are amazing" and lead an aerobics show for one minute with unknown people. 
 Others mimicked buying Stuff to pharmacy personnel, ordered a kebab pizza at the ticket counter (and the man played along very well), exchanged socks with someone random and took a walk in the fountain.
 A composed song worth 50 points was also created.
Today we are just going to barbecue in the adjacent forest. Sounds safe.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Museum Mission: Häringe slott

 From this window down to the pool, there was a (straight) helter skelter! For a long time, it was thought to be a tall tale, until an elderly couple came for a visit and the man remembered that he used to slide down as a 9 years old boy. It was decided no photos could be taken of the slide, which is why it's existence was hard to prove.
I was here twice during the weekend. In July and August, there are guided tours during the weekend, and we were here one of the few days when the castle is entirely booked for a wedding and the tour is cancelled. So, we came back on Sunday and also enjoyed the brunch. I made my own waffles!
Some parts are from the 14th century, like a ceiling that was smuggled here. Not this ceiling in particular - but on the floor above is a floor à la 200 kilograms, and if people dance there, sandy dust will be falling from the ceiling here. You have to know how to take care of a building and different materials, so no dance takes place in that room anymore. And I learned that a silk wall (old style) has been cleaned with an alcoholic solution and WHITE BREAD. How wow isn't that? The bread absorbs the dirt, if I remember it right.
Interior and me.
The silk wall - this part yet to be cleaned with bread. 
One of the ladies of the house by a popular Russian painter. Her eyes are painted with such a technique that she seems to be looking the observer straight in he eye no matter where in the room you stand. I ran around to check and agree! :)
A room with a ghost! We didn't get to see him, but our eminent (!) guide said she could feel his presence. This monk ghost smells terribly, like a gully hole, when you actually get to meet him. It is safe to be here, but he is not nice to every single person, so I told him to behave. 
A historic cupboard - the doors are ornamented with figures in miniature, including king Gustav Vasa and other owners.
 At the jetty (photo borrowed from friend), two men came walking with the same mission as us: relaxation of the mind. "Is it ok if G. is going to undress?" one of the them said jokingly, embarrassing the other. "Absolutely", I answered, and scored five points: "How soon?"
Bye, castle, hope to be able to spend more time  here again soon. Then maybe I can walk the extra 800 meters to the viking ruin in the woods.

Monday, 28 August 2017

The garden Valley of Roses (Rosendals trädgård)

I showed photos from my previous visit to a colleague because I was proud of them. He reflected a bit and asked soberly: is it as nice as it looks?
Absolutely, the camera can lie. Especially my Samsung A3, it really tends to make things uglier. It's often directly proportional: the less sunlight, the worse quality. And then the angle and the moment, and the photographer's eye. My goodness, we just made it look like it is like science fiction, when it actually is a nice garden that is like a green sea. See:
This time, I learned the incredible:
 There is RUSSIAN KIWI. 
 Takes it two years to grow before 2 cm long (or short) fruits happen. 
And there is white fairy tale squash! They look a bit like flowers and umbrellas with soft edges at once.
 Speaking of cool plants, L. had found a list of indoor ones that looked like curly question marks, tear drops upside down and what looked like a velvet bag with its four edges brought to the top. Here is one list, which of course is not the same, but still serves as inspiration. I will only have odd plants when I grow up. 
Next time I count on being here is during the harvest festival, 8-10th of September. Join in!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Museum Mission: Hertha Hillfon Skeppsholmen

 A new museum found! I have not seen it on any list before, so it was an unexpected pleasure. Hertha Hillfon was a ceramicist, but her old home is currently being made into apartments - so except for the roughly 20 permanent works by her you can see around Stockholm, you find her pieces mostly here. 
 You can also make your own creations of clay.
The museum is basically two cozy rooms, so the visit can be quite short. Take your time to talk with the staff. The atmosphere is nice and you will be offered elder blossom cordial - that is what Hertha would offer her guests, made on elder blossom from her own garden. Make also sure to ask about the armchair! 

Friday, 25 August 2017

Four quick parts for one decision

Sure, it can be more evidence-based and thorough. But this is what I think affects me when I choose a book in a shop and am a bit in a hurry:

- the cover. Beautiful OR artistic OR ATTENTIONDRAWING. Maybe all. Sometimes the title us engraved in gold and there is a 3D texture to it, YUM.

- the title, the author and what is written around it. Maybe there is a shining stamp saying it is on New York Times Best-selling list, maybe shortlisted for the Pulitzer prize. Maybe, the disappointing "the best work of this author yet". And of course - what I have heard and read about it before. Talking to staff and hear their point of view also helps a great deal.

- the content. It has worked well in many cases, but unfortunately not in all of them. Anyway: I read first page and the middle. If they are exciting and catching, this sort of guarantees same good quality thoughout the entire work.

- the price. I really want to pay the author for all those hours behind the computer screen (or typewriter) and for all the research sweat, BUT, perhaps it was bad work? I don't know this yet. I hold the book in my hand, become aware of all the other book-thirsty readers around me and formulate a decision with aid from the bullet points above. If it's beautiful, promising and well-composed, I will probably hit it. Most commonly, though, unless very desperate, I will put it back and think it over for a month, while visiting libraries and borrowing other books from friends that they recommend.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

My best tips for continuing to learn a language

When we have passed the initial stages, including euphoria (I know this word!), frustration (I can't express my opinion fast enough) and the realisation it will take time to master the details fully - I mean, even your maternal language(s) take a lifetime to learn - then you can use some tricks. 

1. Change language settings on your phone, mail, Facebook, and other social media. I had mine in French, Russian and Spanish. If you are a beginner, it is wise to write down what "settings" and "language" is called in this new language, to be able to convert it back later. NOTE that this can cause problems for some operating systems. My receivers didn't get all letters right when I wrote an e-mail in Swedish while the settings were in Russian and there was some additional converting feature one had to add, so send a few test mails and sms to friends and such.

2. Play Wordfeud and other games in this language. Some Russian gamers tend to swear a lot when they play FPS games in online groups, so that is one way to do it, but when you have learned the two most common Russian swearwords, it is time to move on to a different community or ask the players to vary thier language.

3. Watch films in this language, with subtitles in that language. is a site which offers subtitles in Spanish, Russian, French and English, for example.

4. Instead of google translate, use wikipedia. The principle is: you google your word + wiki, and then choose another language to see how it is translated. If you use your phone, click on the "A"-sign you see in the example below. This tends to be more exact than google's suggestions, and you also get a description as a "bonus". ("Språk" is "language" in Swedish, which you surely guessed already.) To get used to this, make it a habit to wiki the word when you search for anything online. On the phone, Wikipedia remembers your "favourite" langauges (usually up to four, same for google translate), which saves time, because they show up next to each other in the language menu.

5. Listen to the radio or podcasts (who cares if 95% seems too fast, you'll get there) and read the news. In my experience, the more complicated a text, the easier to read it. By this I mean it is easier for me to read a news article in French than a children's book, because the vocabulary grown-ups use repeats itself and is used internationally, with just a few letters changing: "bureacracy", "nepotism", etc are for example the same thing in surely more than 50 languages. (This is of course not always true, but good to keep in mind.) To avoid internet deficiency problems, I download entire programs before I start travelling and listen on the airplane, on the train, on the bus, in the car, when I go shopping.

6. Find a website that lists expressions in this language. Choose the ones you are most likely to use, start maybe with ten. Save them on your phone as a screensaver or in the notes function and take them up next time you are in a queue or wait for something. Before I owned a smartphone, I used to have a post-it on the corner of my computer screen and while it was loading to login, I repeated the spelling of India's president's name over and over. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Pratibha Devisingh Patil. I will probably never forget this, because I have logged in a crazy amount of times. (Some peope put up post-its around their home and in the bathroom. I prefer doing it on the entrance door).

7. Make it a habit to visit different shops online in that language. H&M for clothes, a food shop or a site specialised in screws and hammers - you choose. The wider range of products, the better. Also click on the product description and try to buy the item without the final step, to see all the proceedings.

8. This is a classic: always learn the opposite. If you just found out how to say "black", then learn "white" while you are at it.

9. Another classic: learn poems. This gives you a sensation for pronounciation in a complementary way.

Did you have a favourite tip? Maybe you know some other tricks? Please share in the comments below! 

Monday, 21 August 2017

Japanese, Japan and a castle

 My first postcard from Japan! Sent to me, that is; I have received letters as a special gift from Japan before. 
 Sweden in Japanese! Very excited about the obvious smiley to the right. My Japanese is limited to "Watashiwa nihongo hanashimasen" and "hadjime mashte" (a letter here is wrong I think). That already impresses people a lot (two persons). My Japanese neighbour also taught me how to ask "are you single" and I wrote it on my bathroom mirror to practice a few hours before his friends would come. How it went? As I don't remember it now, I didn't then :P
 "Japan" is an exonym - this country is called something totally different in Japanese itself.
 As for reading, I can distinguish the sign for "tree", "bushes" (not the presidents, hehe), "forest" and "sun". Some signs are interpretable because of their resemblance with the objects they represent - but I have no idea what it says on here. Any ideas? Any of my dear readers that can read and translate? 
 I only wrote on letter this month so far. Three stamps means it is going abroad...
 ...and the motifs happen to be winner photos from a stamp competition in Sweden! I was thinking of contributing with a photo of a friend eating a sandwich very professionally, looking at a phone and wearing a blazer. I decided it was too dark and didn't want to photoshop. 
 This came by train for sure, from middle of Sweden, more or less. (Many people think Stockholm is in the middle. I did too, for a long while.)
Rounding up with a German castle I don't think I published last time. If I did - one can not have too much of castles, not on this blog :)

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Dear födelsevrålet, dear BBmarchen,

I will not make it on time for the 13 o'clock demonstration at Mariatorget today. I really want to go, so I am with you in my heart. I totally agree with the current mother care being insufficient and it's a disaster that the birthing centers are being closed down and women in labour being sent home or to another, faraway hospital. Something so basic and essential for a society, to be able to offer a mother a safe environment for giving birth to her child, a child that is a citizen that later will continue build this very society, is a must. Politicians are being excellently eloquent on the matter, saying exactly nothing about more hospitals being built and underlining the nurses' and doctors' skills being most important. So what good does that do if all personnel is busy and hospitals enough far away for a birth in the car on the way there?

Födelsevrålet on Facebook.  Marches also take place in other cities in Sweden, I think.

The hashtag for today's protests is #bbmarschen

Saturday, 19 August 2017

I am so happy, I am so glad

You might remember this kickstarter project. Now it's reality! Goodness. Wow. I found it at the library this week and they cover a film I saw, Danish Girl, indirectly - so I feel very up to date.
Now that it exists, it is a good deed to keep it alive. I will read a few editions and see if I want to subscribe. 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Golden diaries for the children when they grow up

I keep thinking how golden of an opportunity blogs written by mothers are for their children. When the children grow up, if the parent dies or if they want to know a detail the parent herself doesn't remember - then this is amazing material. I have read about cases when parents save photos, videos and texts by sending them to an email account and give the child the password on her/his 18th birthday. That is very nice too and less public. Still a bit embarrassing maybe, but foremost a source of family love.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Best of - searching for furniture online in Sweden (first part, I suppose)

When you want to sell something second hand, you want to attract as many buyers as possible. Here are some of the "best" strategies or funniest descriptions I saw this summer:

18th century piece - from IKEA

For free! Only 400 sek

Giving away, 100:-

"Besides that my cat has lived on this sofa for the past three years, it is super fresh. There is one hair in the corner."

*names famous IKEA brand of bookshelf*
"Nothing more to say"

"The white on the table is just powder"

And! A house donated entirely for free, I kid you not.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

"The Garden of Small Beginnings" by Abbi Waxman AND MORE

 I prefer the English title over the original, though: "Sad hearts' garden". And though the Main character, Lili, is still mourning her husband, it is a very funny book. I loved it and sent my first impressions to many people. Her children are funny, and they all create gardens together, in an I-love-life way. And to the right: an antology called "Things I would have liked to know when I was 15", or: "Saker jag hade velat veta när jag var 15". A nice read, a wise read, of course also for grownups. 
And how often do you know what an author looks like? Could you tell Rosseau apart from Balzac or Flaubert? Sure, if you do some research and could identify different centuries' styles, not by facial parameters. So, here is Abbi Waxman! A chocolate-loving, dog-loving funny author with a very patient husband.