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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Play Day at Furuboda

The dinner with my colleagues last Thursday was very nice. It was the second part of the annual bus excursion arranged by the social club. The others had been to a castle and a limestone quarry in northern Skåne, but I decided only to participate in the dinner, since I grew up near those places and have been there several times. The restaurant in Malmö provided an excellent selection of fish, meat, cheese and a marvelous dessert table. All in buffet style and of course you eat too much. There were six different cakes, fruit and candy for dessert and I tried five of the cakes... Very tasty.

Friday I went again to the summerhouse, and Saturday it was time for Play Day at Furuboda. It was the tenth time, and it is by now a big organization. Over 120 volunteers and 5000 visitors (a new record). The area was packed with kids and their parents. Everything was for free, the only cost was for food. The attractions included all sorts of games and sports, carousels, horse & buggy rides, hay trailer rides, boat rides, jumping castles, face painting, computer games, music making and performances by pop idols. The local police and fire department had presentations, and Pippi Longstocking and other children's book characters visited "in person". My mother helped out at one of the carousels and I instructed the kids (and some adults) going on the segways (an electric scooter you stand on). After six hours (including an eight minute lunchbreak) we were absolutely exhausted. But I cannot explain in words how fun it was to see the kids enjoy the day's activities. Several parents thanked me for being there, and said that this is an event they never miss.

The activities the following days were, for obvious reasons, not that extensive. We basically rested. My mother did paint the window frames of the house, but she did a little each day for three days, so it was not a big job. Apart from that we solved a few crossword puzzles. One visit to Åhus to get groceries also. Yesterday I returned home.

Today I visited my workplace, but only for a short while. I returned some books and then I walked another block to a newly renovated and extended building called Lux (means light in Latin). Five former humanities institutions have now moved there, and today was the grand opening. We got to visit the staff rooms, cafeteria, lecture halls and library. I got a guided tour of the library, which is on three floors with brand new interiors and book shelves (some compact systems). The furniture was all new (mostly in orange and black) and there were many places for the students to sit and study. I did notice that the shelf space was limited, and that might become a problem later. But it was a very nice place and I hope they will enjoy working there. Most of the former libraries used to be housed in old buildings without functional elevators, so this is a big improvement when it comes to accessibility.

A completely different thing - there is an election coming up here in mid September. The authorities send out the form you need to vote for parliament, regional and local government to all who are eligable to vote - several million people. This time they didn't proofread the form before sending it out. There was a significant spelling mistake on it. Because of this they had to send out a correction to everybody. A rather costly mistake, since postage is expensive here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Freedom again

Last week was the last week at work for several months. My colleagues were not that happy about it, but I have taken leave this fall to get some projects done. Most of them relate to genealogy. I have started on the book about Aunt Olga, but it goes slowly. I need to do more research and I think I will also have to visit the town in Halland province where she lived. There is supposed to be a painting in the museum there, which is of one of the ships her father and brother-in-law sailed on.

The weather has changed and is now very wet, windy and pretty chilly. It's only around 18-20 centigrades. It's a big difference and I have now been able to catch up on the chores at home. It was way too hot and humid before, so I did very little apart from working. I have also gone through my book collection and thrown out some of the books. I let my colleagues take what they wanted first, and then gave the rest on to charity. I think I have given about ten bags with various items to charity this summer. Despite this, I still can't fit all of my clothes into the wardrobes. It's the aim, so I will have to throw out even more.

This evening I'm going to a dinner with my colleagues and tomorrow I will travel to the summerhouse. My mother is still there, and this Saturday we have signed up to be volunteers at Play Day at Furuboda.



Monday, August 11, 2014

One more weekend at the summerhouse

Last week was pretty ordinary at work. I brought the new employee to the storage and she liked the cool temperatures indoors (17 centigrades). It was about 35 in the corridor outside our storage. I showed her around in both stacks.

Friday at lunchtime I took the train and a bus to get to the summerhouse. My sister and her family were still visiting, but there were also some additions. My second cousin and his wife had arrived to spend some time with us. It was his wife who found me through a genealogy query on the internet, it's quite a few years ago now. We meet usually once a year, and this time it was our turn to host the visit. We started out by going to the ocean, and most of us jumped in. The waves were not as high as last time, but it was still fun.

Saturday my mother and I went with our guests on a tour of northeastern Skåne in their car. We first went to the fleamarket in Åhus, and then continued on to more fleamarkets in Kristianstad. We all made some small purchases, my mother got some clothes, shoes and a lamp, for instance. After lunch we headed out to an area east of town called Kjugekull. It's a natural reserve with hiking trails and it's popular to go rock climbing there. 20 years ago my sister and I ran the summercafé at the local museum at Kjugekull, and it was interesting to see what it looked like now. They have more space than we did, one more room. The ice-cream was pretty good. We walked on one of the trails and made it to the highest point 85 meters above sea-level. Not that high, but the view over the lakes and forests is wonderful. On the way back my mother and I were dropped off at a bus stop and our guests returned to their place in mid-northern Skåne.

Sunday my sister and her family went home again and the remaining two rested. My mother in the hammock and I in a deck chair. I returned directly to work this morning, a two hour journey.

The weather is cooler now, about 22 centigrades and much more tolerable. The extreme heat we have had caused many problems, both health issues and major fires and traffic problems. A gigantic forest fire is raging in Västmanland province. It started twelve days ago and is just barely under control now, thanks to rain. They have used enormous resources to try to stop it; 17 helicopters, four special water distributing airplanes (flown in from Italy and France!), military personnel, rescue personnel from all over Sweden and many volunteers have done their best to limit the damages. One person has died and 25 homes have been lost. Thousands of people are evacuated and have no idea if their houses will be there when they are allowed to go back again. A terrible situation.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Weekend at the summerhouse

Last week was more normal, both at work and at home. Sunday I did absolutely nothing, as I was very tired after my mother's visit. At work the only notable thing was the fire alarm went off Friday morning, and we had to go outside and wait for a while. The mat is being removed in a staircase, and that job yields a lot of concrete dust, so the fire alarms react to it. We knew about this and had only been waiting for this to happen. Apart from this, the weather is causing some problems at the library too. It's incredibly hot to work on some floors and we only do the necessary tasks. The janitor has by now bought almost 20 AC units to place in our offices. I got a second one today. Even though it's raining a lot right now, it's still very humid.

At home I continued to go through my cupboards, and threw out some old things I don't use anymore. I will give these things on to charity. Tuesday I did the laundry, and that was an ordeal because of the weather.

Friday afternoon I went to the summerhouse. My sister and her family are visiting also. We did the usual fleamarket round, naturally. Sunday it was again almost 30 centigrades and we couldn't stand it, so we went to the beach. We were not the only ones there - it was fairly crowded. It was great to jump into the ocean and we had large inflatable toys with us to play with (both kids and adults). A very nice afternoon, definitely. I decided not to go home in the evening and from what I can gather that was the right decision. There had been lots of trains cancelled due to lightning and fires on the west side of Skåne. Instead I crawled out of bed at 05.15 this morning to take a bus and a train to work. It took about two hours and it worked surprisingly well. But I'm pretty tired.

Today was the first workday for a new colleague in the stacks. It's a woman who worked here 15 years ago, and she remembered quite a lot from that time. But many things have also changed here, so we took the grand tour.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Exhausting week

I'm exhausted. Completely wasted. My mother has been visiting for an entire week. She has a different pace in her life than I have. I worked from seven until noon most days and then she and I went on excursions around the province, making use of our summer passes. The train service has been struggling with delays due to extreme heat, lightning and staff shortage. We sat in a train for one hour in Lund one day, waiting to go on a ten-minute journey. It's those moments when you miss not having a car.

In this record-breaking weather (incredibly hot and humid) my mother has been very busy at my apartment. She dusted the cabinets, rearranged the ornaments in them (so now I don't know where everything is), scrubbed the balcony floor, defrosted the freezer, ironed my curtains, replanted all the flowers and cooked for us. When I came home there were chores for me too; I hung the curtains, vacuumed and brought the big rug outside to really beat the dust out of it. Very hard job in these temperatures.

Our trips have taken us to main cities and small villages around the province. We have been to fleamarkets in Lund, Malmö and Simrishamn. Purchases included several scarves, new sunglasses and a blouse. We have been in Helsingborg, where I showed my mother my favorite café, Ebba's. We also made use of two gift certificates (winnings) to get back massage in a small village in the middle of Skåne. We would never go to Hörby otherwise, but now we had a reason. Cute town, but not much to do there. Another first visit was to Trelleborg, a town on the south coast. It took forever to get there (no train service), almost two hours by bus. It was a nice place with interesting shops. We also took the local bus from there to the beach in the afternoon. It was the first proper swim in the ocean this year. It was great! There are no strong underwater currents on the south coast (like there are on the coast where the summerhouse is). We also went into the ocean outside Ystad, it was a beach very close to a train station, and that was also a great experience.

I have to comment some more on the weather. It's has been 28-32 centigrades in the entire country (sometimes hotter in the far north than down here)! We generally don't have air conditioning in our homes, so this is very straining. All the fans and mobile AC units are sold out at the stores. After using all the short pants that I own (two pairs), I continued on to wearing dresses for work. This is unheard of. I have never before worked in a dress, because there are no pockets to keep the cell phone and swipe card and everything else I need to bring with me in the stacks. The janitor gave me a piece of string to have around my neck for the cell phone, and a clip for the swipe card to be attached to my clothes. It functions, but it takes some getting used to.

This morning my mother and I went to Simrishamn by train (two and a half hour journey). It's on the southeast end of Skåne. There was a market day and also a fleamarket. There was a stall where they sold old postcards (mainly from different villages, with images of the churches and aerial photos of houses). It's popular to collect postcards from different towns, and I looked for "my" town. There were a few, but one in particular caught my attention. It was an undated postcard, probably from the 1940s or 1950s, of the church, and it had a birthday greeting on it. The remarkable thing is that the addressee was my great grandmother..... I'm sure of this, her address is correct, and also the date matches her birthdate. A truly amazing find. (And I really wonder how that postcard ended up there).

After a great Mediterranean style buffet lunch at a restaurant we had some ice-cream and then my mother took the bus back to the summerhouse. I went on a train journey that lasted three hours. There was railroad work that prolonged the trip. I was very happy to be home again this evening.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Appreciative customer

It's still hot weather here, but not as bad as last week. The biggest problem is the humidity. It's around 24-26 centigrades right now. It's not as slow at work as you would think. I have just spent the afternoon at the storage and that was not fun. My colleagues haven't had the opportunity to shelve much during my absence. There were quite a few books (probably thousands), and it will take a long time to get that under control. During the summer we also get those optimistic visitors who think that they can get the book right away. We have next day delivery from the stacks, and some people think that is a too long wait.

This week we had a visitor who was very lucky with her request. Late Sunday evening she sent a rather desperate e-mail, requesting a slavic work which she didn't even know if we had. She took a chance and travelled from Göteborg (four hours away, at least) the next morning. I had by then located it in the old card catalogue and given the request to the storage round staff. It was extremely difficult to find the book, because it had been misplaced by several meters. When it finally arrived at lunchtime, she was very, very happy. She needed the book for a chapter of her thesis, it was the very last thing she had to check before sending it off to printing. She asked for my name, and soon a packet arrived, containing a small gift (a book and a fridge magnet). Glad to know that our efforts are appreciated.

Tomorrow my mother will come to visit. There is a big orienteering competition close to the summerhouse next week, and a family who will participate in it are going to stay at the summerhouse. I have to work, but my mother can make some excursions of her own during the day. I'm sure we will visit some fleamarkets on the weekends also.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hot weather

It's incredibly hot weather here. About 28-30 centigrades and not a cloud in the sky. This is my first workweek in two and a half months, and it is not pleasant in the stacks. It's an old house (more than 100 years old) and very little or no air condition is the standard here. We are melting away and it's difficult to even think. We have all the windows open and there is a separate fan in my office. They had changed some routines during my absence, but most things work the same way as before. The database went down over the past weekend and it took a while for the technicians to get it running again. Luckily, there aren't that many visitors. I assume most people are at the beach instead. I have made some short trips after work, mostly to get something to eat. I really don't want to cook in my kitchen when it's this hot. There is no progress when it comes to the genealogy either, I can't do anything that requires that much attention to detail. This weather is affecting everything. I'm wearing the thinnest blouse I have, but it doesn't help.

Saturday I went to the nearest mall, but didn't spend much time near the shops. I had heard of a restaurant that I wanted to try, located a few blocks away. It's called Lucy's and it's like an American 1950s diner. Very cool interiors with a jukebox, parts of a car and lots of memorabilia from that era. The food was also good, I had the peanut butter and bacon-burger. After that, I made it by one bus, one train and one bus to the summerhouse. I went there because some friends were coming for afternoon coffee on the Sunday. It was nice to sit under the sunshade, eat my mother's homemade cake (she had picked the blueberries and raspberries herself) and drink the homemade elderflower lemonade. I was lucky on the way back, the return trip only took two hours. Normally almost four, but I was able to catch delayed trains at two locations.