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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas holiday

I worked Monday and Tuesday, and there were a few things to do, mainly shelving. Wednesday I went by train to Göteborg early in the morning. I didn't have a seat reservation, so I had to move to another seat four times. Christmas Eve with my sister, her family and in-laws and my mother traditionally starts with kale soup (it's a green vegetable) for lunch. At 3 PM there are Disney cartoons on TV that for some mysterious reason have become traditional. It's mainly the same cartoons every year (some relating to Christmas and some not) and they have been shown on Swedish Television every Christmas for decades. Later in the afternoon someone in the family had to go and put more firewood in the furnace in the basement, and after a while Jultomten (Santa) appeared outside the window. (As far as I know there is no furnace). Jultomten brought gifts both to the kids and adults. Like every year the number of presents was enormous. My nephew John was ecstatic about the harvesting machine and the forest machine he got. I actually got everything on my wish-list: a large suitcase, body lotion and a knitted scarf. I also got some things my father had bought on his trip to India: a silver ring and a shawl made of wool and silk. In addition, I received the gift of books to a school in Ethiopia (great idea), a nightgown, two mugs and candy. For dinner we had the traditional food, for example meatballs, roasted ham, several kinds of herring and Jansson's Temptation. When the kids had gone to bed the adults amused themselves with charades on movie titles.

Christmas Day we went for a walk to a nearby park with a playground and then we had lutfisk for lunch. (Everybody except me). In the afternoon we drove to my sister's place in Borås. The next day the women (my mother, sister and I) went shopping at the after-Christmas sales. We did some minor shopping, I got two tops rather cheaply. In the afternoon I got to see my mother's apartment in Borås for the first time. She has just purchased a small apartment five minutes walk from my sister's place. She intends on staying there during the winter months. We have spent this weekend painting the walls there. Hard work but it turned out pretty good. I returned to Kävlinge this afternoon by traveling on three different trains.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cookies and candy

It was a busy time in the manuscript reading room this Thursday afternoon. I thought that people would have other things to do at this time of year, but there were several visitors. One even from India, he asked for manuscript material.

There have been lots of Christmas food events at work this past week. Our department head treated us to goodies; chocolate pralines, "knäck" (hard toffee with almonds), ginger snaps, apples, figs and glögg. We also got chocolate and homebaked cookies from two patrons. They apparently like the library services. The café closed down for the holiday and left all the remaining cookies to us, so we have had more than enough of sweets. The Christmas lunch with herring, ham, sausage, meatballs and dark bread was served Friday. We also got our presents, four gift certificates to movies each.

Today I sent most of the Christmas letters via email. I have also wrapped the last presents and tried to decide what clothes to wear on Christmas Eve. I'm travelling to Göteborg on Wednesday, so I have a few more days to make the final decision.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


There was actually an earthquake in Skåne early this morning! It is very, very unusual. It had a magnitude of 4.7 and was noticeable also in the middle of Sweden and Denmark. The last earthquake of that size was in 1904 here. There have been no damages reported, but people jammed the phone lines to emergency services to ask if an airplane had crashed. The strange thing is that I didn't notice the earthquake at all. It's the news of the century and I missed it! I didn't find out until I got to work and was asked if anything in my apartment had broken or fallen down, and I was clueless as to what they were talking about.

This evening I went to Malmö. Not for any particular reason, just to go to my favorite stores there. One is Gray's, where they sell American foods like pop tarts, marshmallows, peanut butter, oreo cookies, and cake- and pancakemixes. Did some minor shopping. The center part of Malmö was decorated with branches of fir trees and many lights along the walking streets and the squares. Some big trees had colorful lanterns and lights in the shape of Christmas presents. The arrangements were beautiful and created a Christmas atmosphere, even though there is no snow.

I have already received some Christmas letters and cards, and it's so nice to hear what everybody has been up to during the year. I have some editing to do to my letter, then I will take the easy way out and send it via email.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


It was the social club at work that organized the Lucia celebration at the library this Friday morning. It could have been done better, if the car the singers were in hadn't broken down on the highway and if the bakery that delivered the cookies and coffee hadn't been half an hour delayed. We were only three people to organize it, and basically everything went wrong. Finally, the 65 librarians got to hear the seven music college students sing the traditional Lucia and Christmas songs, including Stilla Natt (Silent Night), Lusse Lelle, Det strålar en stjärna and others. It was high quality on the singing and very good saffron buns, so I guess people were satisfied anyway, but the delay was frustrating.

This weekend I have written my annual Christmas letter, sent Christmas cards (some people still send real ones) and I also tried to sort the things on my desk, on the table and on the floor. Success was limited. One of my colleagues has written a book about the pubs in London, and I have started to read it. It's over 500 pages and only cover the ones he thinks are worth visiting. The book also contains a lot of cultural history of London, so even I, who never drink any beer, can appreciate reading it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Interesting work day

Sometimes I have these days when more things happen than I really want to. We had an unusually large amounts of requests to stacks today, and that's on a day when one person was on vacation. My cell phone kept ringing constantly (it's not common at all), and I spent most of my work day running around fixing other people's problems. They even called me when I was out to get the requests from the remote storages, and I really can't do anything if I'm not in the main building. That particular problem they figured out themselves, and then called me again to tell me about it. To make things worse I managed to misplace my cell phone a total of three times. (I think my short term memory is getting pretty bad). In order to find the requested book, we need a correct call number (it's not possible to have all 7 million volumes alphabetically). Today way too many requests had incorrect call numbers and I didn't notice all of them when I sorted the requests this morning. I was foolish to trust the handwriting of a colleague, and sent someone else to a storage to look for over ten books that were not there. All three of us apologized to each other later. In the afternoon a locksmith who was in the building to do repairs made a mistake and the computerized lock system locked all the doors. No one could enter or leave the library for quite a while, and it took a lot of phone calls and computer work to get it functional again. It has been an interesting day at work, but I'm glad it's not always this eventful.

It is with some pride that I can announce that I have done all my Christmas shopping now! I got the last things this week, it was mostly gift certificates. The recession means that people don't shop as much as previous years. The stores are getting more and more desperate to sell their goods. The clothing store I shop many clothes in, Kappahl, has offered 25% discount coupons for several weeks, but there really isn't anything worth buying there now. I've heard rumors saying they will start the traditional after-Christmas sales before Christmas this year.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas tree

It's been too long ago since I wrote on the blog, and I'm sorry about that. I have been busy! I thought that I would get time during desk duty on Thursday but I was involved with helping someone find old maps of Denmark in general and the island of Ven in particular. By "old" I mean 15th and 16th centuries. Back then Ven belonged to Denmark, now it belongs to Sweden. The world of old maps is fascinating and I tried to learn useful things from the map librarian while he was pointing out sources on the internet.

There have been a few meetings at work this past week, one more boring than the other. We managed to decide on a working schedule for this Christmas, and it will probably function unless someone gets sick. I will not get any extra vacation at all this holiday, but we will at least get five days off in a row (Dec 24-28). Also two days for New Year's.

Most of the evenings this past week I have been sitting like glued to the computer screen. I found a website with obituaries from a county in California where some Norra Strö people ended up (it's the Gustafsons for those who would know what I'm talking about). They had mostly daughters and their married names were often listed, so I have spent many hours searching these pages of obituaries. There were even clues to a sister going to Nevada. It's amazing how much family history information there is on the internet.

The Christmas spirit isn't really here yet, mainly because of the rainy weather. But I have decorated my apartment with all the ornaments that I have. The fake tree is also decorated and lit. (My father couldn't believe it when I said I have an artificial tree - he is a lumber jack and always gets a real one). The decorations in the tree come from several places, it's things I have bought at flea markets, inherited from my parents, bought in the US and things I used as decorations for the Leroy Anderson exhibits (small music instruments and bells)! I have also wrapped almost all the presents. I only have a few more gifts to purchase now, then I'm done.

Today I went by train to Kristianstad in the afternoon to attend the Christmas concert at the Holy Trinity Church. They had some sound problems (the orchestra drowned the choir), but it was still worth listening to. They played several Leroy Anderson pieces; Sleigh Ride, Song of Jupiter (arranged by L.A.), A Christmas Festival (arranged by L.A.), Syncopated Clock and I Never Know When. The first three were sung by parts of the Anderson choir that performed at the big concert in April. We also got to listen to more traditional Swedish Christmas songs like Lucia, Julen är här and När juldagsmorgon glimmar. We ended with unison singing of Stilla natt (Silent Night). Afterwards I had a falafel at a local pizza place with my mother (who had also been to the concert), and then I went back home by train.

I get messages to all of my email addresses, so I hope you are all able to reach me somehow. It's very frustrating when the email doesn't work properly.