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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Trip to Canada

The last entry was written at a very slow computer at a hotel in Montreal, and I didn't have the patience to write more that day. We went to two different museums in Montreal, both historical ones, but one focused mainly on archaeology and the other more on later history. We saw exhibits on the history of Montreal, the French explorers, the Inuits and a large exhibit with women's clothing. Wednesday evening we had dinner at a place called L'Orignal = The Moose. The province of Quebec is dominated by the French language and it was fascinating to see all the signs in that language in North America. I have never studied French and never will, but with the general knowledge of languages I have, I could understand around 25 % of what people said and half of the written texts.

Thursday we drove on to Quebec City, on the St Lawrence River. We stayed in a small hotel in the old parts of the town, and it was very idyllic. The town was founded up on a high hill in 1608 and a fair amount of the old buildings have been preserved. We arrived in the evening and the view from the boardwalk over the river was magnificent, with all the lights on the bridges and on the other side in the town Levis.

There were a lot of tourists in Quebec City, and we joined the crowds in the shopping streets. We also visited two museums, the exhibits included French-speaking America, Gold in the Americas, First Nations (the native peoples) and Canadian culture. Very interesting, and well done exhibits. Friday evening we attended a wonderful Leroy Anderson concert at the large theater. In fact, that was the main reason for going there. It was a very nice concert, with a few special things. A female step-dancer performed during some pieces. During Sleigh Ride, they lit a small Christmas tree. For Waltzing Cat, the conductor asked the audience to help out, making the sound of a cat. At the end of Sandpaper Ballet, one percussionist covered his mouth with a mask and brought out an electric sandpaper machine instead. The Typewriter percussionist did a great job on a real typewriter. Afterwards we were invited to the conductor's private home, along with some soloists, for snacks and soup.

Saturday we drove to Sherbrooke in southern Quebec province. We met Mark Anderson and two of his daughters there. His daughter Keira attends the university there, and he was visiting this weekend. He brought us of a tour of the rather small but beautiful campus. He studied here in the 1970s. We also had coffee before we had to continue our trip. We crossed the border later in the afternoon, and arrived in Franconia, New Hampshire later in the evening. We are staying at a motel here, which has nice facilities. Sharon and I have been floating around in the large swimmingpool and sat in the hot tub until the staff closed it at 10 p.m.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Burlington, Vermont

The train trip lasted five and a half hours and it was pretty boring, although the train crew gave sometimes very entertaining announcements. Rolf and Sharon Anderson picked me up and brought me to a very cozy inn where I stayed the night. Monday morning started with a very nice breakfast, thick pancakes with maple syrup and fresh fruit. We spent some time downtown Burlington on the walking street, but then we decided to go to Shelburne Farms south of the city. It's a large area with an educational center for children, cheese production and an inn, among other things. We went on the guided tour in a wagon pulled by a pickup truck. It was pretty cold, even though the sun was shining. It was interesting to see the architecture of the barns and houses, it was an entirely designed farm from the mid/late 19th century. Later in the afternoon we went on a small car-ferry (but without the car) to the other side of Lake Champlain, to a small summer town named Essex, which is in New York State. We were determined to have some ice-cream, and we managed to get the saleswoman at the only open convenience store to lend us a knife so that we could share the container of chocolate ice-cream. Afterwards we went to the park by the lake and admired the view of the green mountains in Vermont. Dinner in Burlington was a very delicious pasta carbonara.

Tuesday I had waffles with chocolate chips and maple syrup for breakfast. Not the kind of breakfast I'm used to, but it's fun to try different things. We started the day by going to the special collections department at the university library in Burlington. Sharon did some book searching there, and was happy with the results. We also viewed an art gallery and some minor exhibits on Native American and African culture. Around 1 p.m. we picked up Earl, who is a friend of the Andersons. All of us went to Shelburne Museum, which is an outdoor museum with several different buildings. I saw the exhibit on quilts, where the oldest dated from around 1790. Amazing what patterns they could create from just small pieces of fabric back then. We also visited the 19th century general store, the drug store from the same time period and looked at a large boat placed on land. Dinner was at the Ice House, situated at the lake. The crab cake and tomato soup were very tasty. Earl had to return to his job (pilot), but the rest of us attended an amazing theater performance called Stomp. There were eight people on stage, basically making sounds (stomping) with everyday objects like plastic containers, metal cans, brooms, pots and newspapers, and they also used their hands to clap and their feet to step. It's really not possible to describe it in words, it was so funny and energetic.

Today (Wednesday) we drove to Montreal in Canada, but I will have to save that for the next blog entry.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Gutenberg Bibles

Friday I went to the Pierpont Morgan Library, which is a museum with sculptures, exhibits and rare books. It is the only institution in the world that has three Gutenberg Bibles. They were printed around 1450-1455 and are priceless. All three of them (a total of six volumes) were on display. Very finely decorated pages and an incredible craftmanship from so long ago. The other exhibit displayed sketches and books by Jean and Laurent de Brunhoff, who wrote the children's books about Babar, the elephant in the green suit. Another part of the museum were a few rooms from Mr Morgan's private home, containing his study and library. Unfortunately the books were behind glass doors and you were not allowed to touch them.

I spent the afternoon walking around in the city, and I ended up in the Garment District. There are lots of fabric and clothing stores with really affordable prices. It's mostly discount stores with last year's (or even earlier) collections. I found a sleeveless top for the amount of one dollar. I had dinner at a traditional American diner with very nice hamburgers. At around 8 p.m. I went on the tram back to Roosevelt Island. The view of Manhattan from the tram was postcard-like.

Saturday morning I said goodbye to the cat Audrey, and Eliza and I went in her car to Hartford, Connecticut. After about three hours we arrived at the Harriet Beecher Stowe house, which is now a museum. We took the guided tour of the house, and it was interesting to see the interiors and hear about her life. Later in the afternoon we arrived at the Vanilla Bean Cafe, where we met Jane and her friend Chris for a rather late lunch. After chatting and eating, Jane and I stopped by Eliza's house, which is a very old house situated in a wooded area at a beautiful pond. We had tea there, and then Jane and I returned to Thompson. In the evening her sons Anders and Lars and some of their friends arrived, and we had Thai food for dinner.

Today (Sunday) will be a traveling day. I will go by train from Springfield, Massachusetts to Burlington, Vermont.


Thursday I took the subway a long way to southern Manhattan. I walked north and passed discount stores, walked through Chinatown with all the small shops offering jewelry, clocks, bags and souvenirs, and then I made a right turn and suddenly I was in Little Italy. From one ethnic area to another in just a few steps. They had a street festival and the red-white-green flags were everywhere. There were stalls with Italian food and pastry for several blocks. Very nice to stroll there. I got some candy called torrone, sort of a hard nougat with almonds. I had lunch at a very Italian restaurant named Lombardi's. Just to taste the Italian meatballs, I ordered a pizza with that as a topping. Very good, a little more spicy than a Swedish meatball.

In the afternoon I spent a couple of hours at the library again, searching old phone books for distant relatives who once lived in Brooklyn. Success was limited. I did find a few addresses, but no listings after 1975. Dinner was a very large plate of various Italian food (again) at Olive Garden. Very tasty.

Just before 8 p.m. I walked over to the Ambassador Theater to see the musical Chicago. It was a story set in a very jazzy Chicago of the 1920s. I had heard some of the songs before, like Roxie and All that jazz. It was a comedy with lots of dance segments. I was sitting quite far away from the stage, but it was still worth the money. A visit in New York City isn't complete unless you have seen a Broadway show!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Wednesday I studied the subway map very carefully and managed to get to Bergen Street Station in Brooklyn by riding three different trains. I went there mainly to take a photo of a house for someone I had done research for. I noticed a mall a few blocks away, and decided to have lunch there. I had a chicken sandwich with a spicy sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings. It is hard to resist the low prices on clothes here. So I did some more shopping. 20 USD (120 SEK) for a pair of dress pants is cheap. I returned to Manhattan and spent the rest of the afternoon there, browsing, mostly. In the evening Eliza and I had dinner at the apartment, she made a tasty chicken dish with green beans. We sat on the balcony until almost midnight, it was a wonderful view of the Manhattan skyline.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The United Nations

Monday Jane and Anders went back to Connecticut. I took the subway to Manhattan, changed once and then walked over to the United Nations Headquarters at East 46th Street. I met Eliza (she works there), she arranged for me to have a guest pass and brought me to the delegates dining room. It was an honor to be invited to have lunch there. It was a first class restaurant with a buffet. The food was excellent, there were all kinds of fish (gravlax for instance) and meats. The dessert table was also impressive and I tried four different kinds (the chocolate cake was very delicious). Eliza was in a hurry to a meeting, so I went back to the ground floor and joined a guided tour of the building.

Later in the afternoon I went shopping for clothes in some stores that have my sizes. I just got some small items, most of them on sale. In the evening I went to Macy's (very large department store), they are open until 9.30 p.m. It was not that late when I arrived, only around 8. There are mostly designer clothes there, but it wasn't as expensive as I thought. I did actually find a dress on the sales rack, it was only 34 USD (200 SEK). When I returned to Eliza's apartment at 10 p.m. the cat was the only one there (and she made sure I noticed).

Today (Tuesday) I took the tram to Manhattan in the morning. It was a very nice view from above, and it takes almost the same time as the subway. I walked west through Central Park, and passed Strawberry Fields (a mosaic in memory of John Lennon) and the Swedish Cottage(!). The cottage was more like a house from northern Sweden and it had been built in 1875 and shipped to Philadelphia the following year for an exposition. Nowadays they had theater for children there.

When I finally made it out to the west side of the park (after more than an hour), I went to the Museum of Natural History. A building of impressive size. I saw the special exhibit on the Horse. Also the permanent exhibits on African mammals, New York City animals (mostly rodents and birds), dinosaurs (huge collection), and North American Indians (three different rooms). Very educational.

After the exhibit tour I went down to the basement level and took the subway to the Public Library. They have some databases I can't access from home, so I spent (too many) hours there, looking for more details about my American relatives. When that department closed at 7 p.m. I walked over to Times Square. This is where the majority of the tourists are. This is (consequently) also where most of the souvenir shops are. I located the Hard Rock Cafe and went in. I had dinner there, bacon cheeseburger with fried onion rings. Fudge sundae with brownie for dessert. Yes, too much, but so incredibly tasty (and I had only had a small salad for lunch). On my way back to the subway I noticed a very interesting store: M&Ms souvenir shop. Three floors with the chocolate candy in hundreds of variants and memorabilia (T-shirts, mugs, bags, toys and other things). Amazing.

I have noticed that the clocks on my blogs are still on Swedish time. The difference is six hours. If it says 4 p.m., I wrote it at 10 a.m.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday in the city

Just before noon Anders, Jane and I went by subway to an Italian restaurant on Lexington Avenue. We met one of Jane's friends there, Margaret, who is originally from Iceland. We had a very nice meal and a very nice chat. Margaret had just purchased her own apartment and was in the middle of home design and furniture shopping.

After the meal we split up and I spent the afternoon in the city. I walked Lexington Avenue south. There was a street fair on several blocks down, and it was interesting to see what was offered in the lines of jewelry, ethnic food, New York City souvenirs and clothes. I did some bargain shopping at Bloomingdale's, one of the largest department stores. I found a long skirt marked down from 178 USD to 46, which is a great discount. I am very happy with that purchase. Eliza told me later that the brand is very well known.

Later in the afternoon I went by subway down to the same theater/bar we were at the day before, The Duplex. Jane and Anders wanted to see the Goldilocks show again, and I went with them. We were seated in the front this time, and we had a very good view of the set. It was once again a wonderful performance, the actors are really talented. It's incredible that they will learn all those lyrics for just three shows.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Goldilocks show

Friday we really didn't do much, since Anders had the car all day. I reorganized my luggage and spent some time at the computer.

Saturday (yesterday) Anders, Jane and I drove to New York by car. It took about four hours. We are visiting Jane's friend Eliza who lives on Roosevelt Island just east of Manhattan. In the evening, we all went by subway to the southwestern part of Manhattan. We went to a restaurant, North Square. When we got there, part of the Anderson family was already there; Eleanor, Kurt and Ivan. Also Christopher Kerr with company. We had a nice meal including dessert (chocolate mousse with ice-cream and cookies), and the entire event took about 45 minutes. We were in a hurry to get to the theater in time. Just before 7 p.m. we arrived at The Duplex, which is a bar that occasionally shows cabarets. This weekend it was the musical Goldilocks, with lyrics by Walter and Jean Kerr (Christopher's parents) and music by Leroy Anderson. It turned out to be a fabulous show, so funny that even the cast members sometimes had problems keeping a straight face. Goldilocks is a comedy about a female silent moviestar who is persuaded to do one last film before getting married. There were nine people on stage with one pianist. It was a small format, but very well done. We all enjoyed the show tremendously, and Anders stayed on for a while afterwards to chat with the cast members.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Old Sturbridge Village

Thursday Jane and I went to Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. It's a re-creation of a New England village from the 1830s. The buildings have been moved there from other places, and basically every kind of house is represented. There was a school, church, pottery, blacksmith shop, grocery store, bank, shoemaker's house, mill, parsonage, tavern and several small farms. The stagecoach was drawn by two large horses around the village. The sheep were moved from one pasture to another. The geese were grazing on the common. A woman in a long checkered dress, apron and bonnet picked carrots in a farmer's field. In the blacksmith shop two older men were making iron hooks. The tin maker made spice tins. The potter made three jars while we were standing there. All the guides were dressed in old fashioned costumes. It was definitely like visiting another time. It's a very interesting place. Link: www.osv.org

Today will be a packing/organizing/laundry day. Tomorrow we are going to New York City for a few days.

In the left hand column of the blog I have added the time schedule for my trip. The dates are approximate. If you received this blog entry as an email and do not wish that to happen, please tell me.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Block Island visit

The visit to Block Island was very relaxing, more like a vacation. Anders and his father Peter were there also, and they cooked for me and also treated me to lunches at restaurants. We made several visits to the ice-cream place in the village. Very tasty. When Anders and I went over there on the ferry, it was terrible weather; rainy and very windy. Some people got seasick, but not us. It rained very much the entire night, and then it changed into very sunny weather all of a sudden. I spent some time at the beach and got a little burnt, so the next day I got a sun hat in the village. Apart from beach visits, I read a few books and just tried to take it easy. Anders and I made it back today to Jane's place in northeastern Connecticut, after a logistically challenging trip by car, ferry and car again.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Short note

This will just be a short note to tell you that I have arrived safely at Jane's place in Connecticut! The trip went well, the change in Iceland was easy (small airport).

Tomorrow we are going to the Vercelli's vacation house in Block Island - a summer resort outside the coast of Rhode Island.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Quilt making

Monday I had an appointment at the chiropractor's in the morning and afterwards I went to the library. There was not enough time last week to make all the preparations for my long absence, so I surprised my colleagues by stopping by on my first vacation day. It only took a few hours, and then I had lunch in town. I spent the afternoon at the archive.

Yesterday my mother came for a visit. We engaged ourselves in quilt making! I have collected some fabric and she brought some with her, and we had a good time choosing colors and patterns. In the afternoon we went to the mall in Lund also. In the evening I finally found the living descendants of the people in New London by searching the internet. It is so much easier these days to locate people.

My mother spent the night here, and today we have continued making the quilt for my bed. It's a long process and we didn't have enough fabric, so my mother will bring the pieces with her home. We have also put the balcony furniture in storage for the winter, thrown out the balcony flowers and changed the curtains in the kitchen.