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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Aunt's party

Sunday I travelled to the village where I was born, Övarp. It required three train trips and then my uncle had to come and get me at the station. The event was my aunt's birthday party. In her opinion, birthdays should always be celebrated and missing one is unheard of. At the party I met some rarely seen relatives and friends. We had a good time talking and eating. The princess torte was very nice.

The work week has been somewhat out of the ordinary. We (four people working in the stacks) haven't had access to our desks or computers. The carpet in our room had to be replaced and that has taken four days. In the meantime, I have used another computer to check my e-mails, but haven't been able to access my documents or the special programs we use for the requests. It has been difficult to rearrange the work for all of us and we have felt a little lost, but we have kept busy shelving. It is my turn to drive the storage round this week and like all other occasions, it hasn't been fun.

There are more ashclouds coming, but we don't know how that will affect airtravel yet. The weather is a little warmer and more like spring, about 10-12 centigrades and sometimes quite sunny.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Old books on baking

It has yet again been a busy week at work. The months of April and May are usually pretty intense. Lots of student are writing papers at the end of the semester, and they need more literature than normal then.

Tuesday afternoon I went to Malmö to do some shopping. The supply of clothes in my taste was very limited. I came home with some socks. Not much of interest there. I managed to find a special birthday card that someone in the US wanted, though. I had dinner at TGI Friday's, a restaurant that opened only last year. Interesting place with food in American style, and better than the one in London. Had a cheesy baconburger and then mud cake for dessert. Very nice.

Desk duty on Thursday was slow at first, but at the end it was mad. At one moment there were five members of staff and three visitors standing in front of the desk at once and all of them were talking (to each other or to me) at the same time. To make things worse my computer wasn't working properly and I didn't dare to do any work on it that had to be saved. It has happened before that documents I have written on it have been lost and e-mail messages I have sent have never reached the intended persons (or anyone else). We are so dependent on the computers these days.

There must have been something wrong with the dinner I had Thursday evening, because I got food poisoning during the night. Very unpleasant to get so sick. I did make it to work on Friday, but I was tired and made several mistakes. It's hard to believe, but shuffling books to and from the stacks is an intellectual job that requires a connected brain.

Today Amnesty had a second hand book sale in Lund and I was there, of course. I got two books on baking. They were rather old, from 1934 and 1946. It was interesting to see that some recipes can still be found in modern books. The book from 1934 didn't contain any oven temperatures and sometimes not even number of minutes the cake should be baked. Instead they wrote something like "bake in moderately hot oven until cake is dry". I have about 30 books on baking/cooking from the past 80 years and it's fascinating to look in them and see how the way we bake/cook has changed (or not).

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dark clouds

Thursday evening I went to a show at the theater in Lund. My sister had given me a ticket for Wear it like a crown. It was a small but very advanced circus show. The acrobatic numbers were performed by a woman who had an incredible strength. There were juggling with knives and chainsaws, balance acts and crazy things. The entire show had also an undertone hinted by the title - it's a song about facing your fears. Very interesting show, and I'm glad I got to see it.

The same evening the dark, ominous clouds with volcanic ash started rolling in over Scandinavia. With them came a cold wind. The volcano in Iceland is increasing in intensity and they are worried that one of the big volcanos will wake up also. The ash prevents airplanes from flying. 16 000 flights per day have been cancelled to, from and within Europe. Millions of people suddenly found themselves unable to go home from their trips. In my little corner of the world there have been lots of transportation problems. The bus and train companies have worked day and night to get extra drivers and vehicles. The long distance trains have been double in length and it still hasn't been enough. I saw on the display at the station in Lund that all the long distance trains were delayed, and that's no wonder. The ferries to mainland Europe have also been overcrowded. Even freight ferries have taken passengers.

According to the media here, the volcano can stay active for years. No one has planned for such a scenario. I'm sure there will be some long term effects of this. Several of the airlines will have to be rescued by their governments, for instance. Again. In a wider perspective, it's probably useful for us to be reminded of the fact that we cannot control nature.

This weekend has been similar to the last one, but I only made it to one flea market. Saturday I went (early) to the one in Lund. I got a handbag very cheaply, 10 SEK. Then I spent the rest of the day at work to continue with the emigrant lists. Today I did the laundry, went grocery shopping and did some cooking (sausage casserole).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tour of the stacks

It has been very busy days at work so far this week. I certainly noticed that my colleagues had had a rough time during my absence. There were large piles of books not shelved. This has the lowest priority, so it's the first thing you skip when you are under-staffed. Apart from that, they had managed pretty well, but they have yet again told me that they missed me greatly last week.

Monday afternoon I was busy shelving in the old collection, so I didn't make it to the regular coffeebreak time. One of my colleagues then came looking for me, and I really wondered why until he said that they were going to surprise me with a cake! They had taken the trouble of getting a princess torte (spongecake bottom, with whipped cream and marzipan cover, usually very green in color). Very nice of them to celebrate my birthday like that, and the cake was great so we finished it pretty fast.

Tuesday I showed the stacks for three people; one new part-timer, one intern from library school and one recent employee from another department. I gave them the guided tour of the stacks, from the fourth floor all the way down to the lower basement level. In an hour and a half I crammed in the knowledge I have of the collection and how to manage it. Needless to say, there were many details that I had to leave out..... Training someone new to be able to do 80% of the work in the stacks takes two years. We hope that the new part-timer (which we never thought we would get) will be useful, and he has potential. He is a computer nerd, and that has proven to be a very good quality when working in the stacks. There is a kind of systematic structure (in the call number system in particular) that seems to fit their brains. I brought the new guy with me on the storage round today, and he was not totally lost when it comes to retrieving books, so we definitely have hopes. He will only work two hours a day, but we are happy for the smallest improvement.

This evening we had the annual meeting in the social club at work. It's the kind of meeting that you have to have once a year to elect new board members. Attendance is usually very low, and this time it was just the old board members and two more people. The new board members (two women I have never met!) couldn't attend. There was one other change - I was elected new chairman. After the process, which took 15 minutes, we watched two films that a colleague had taped during our excursions and parties. It was a strange sight to see yourself standing in the bar at the Christmas party hushing at some people, but that's what I did. It was fun to watch the films and afterwards we had sandwiches and told each other anecdotes from the libraries we work at.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More shopping

Saturday I went to Lund to go to the first flea market for the season. I got there a little late (it opens at 7 AM), so there wasn't that much left to look at and I didn't buy anything. The rest of the day was spent at work, and this time I actually got something done. I have started on a few projects involving emigrants from some parishes near where I was born. I have already done a few parishes, but I thought I would do some more in that area; Hjärsås, Fjälkestad and Gumlösa. I have just started, but I can see already now that the first two parishes will be very large. One interesting problem is the fact that most of the parish records before 1861 for Hjärsås have been destroyed by fire. I can still find the names of the emigrants in the passenger lists 1850-1861, but I can't get any other information, like birthdates and birthplaces.

Today I visited another flea market, in Drottningtorget (a square), Malmö. It starts at 9 AM, and I managed to get there about an hour afterwards. The best finds are to be made in stalls where ordinary people have cleared out their attics and sell items at ridiculously low prices. They have generally no idea what things are worth. And this is despite the fact that the Antiques road show is a very a popular TV program here. I got some small things, a necklace for 10 SEK, a porcelain cream pitcher for 10 SEK and a porcelain dish for 10 SEK. Very low prices. The dish was from a well-known manufacturer, but the 20s-something guy who wanted to get rid of it didn't know that.

After the flea market I continued on to the mall called Entre. Made some purchases there, a pair of shoes and a dress, for instance. The piece of pecan pie I got at a café there was incredible. The chicken pizza I had for lunch was also pretty good.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Shopping in Helsingborg

I took this week off from work, because I have too much overtime. I planned on maybe getting some new projects started, but I haven't come far on any of them. Wednesday I basically rested, but I also managed to unpack my luggage, change curtains, cook lunches and clean the balcony window and the balcony rails. It's soon time to get the furniture down from the attic and plant some flowers in the box also.

Thursday I went by train and bus to a mall outside Helsingborg. I haven't been there in a long time, and was happy to see a new clothing store for women of impressive size. I bought a blouse on sale and a knitted vest. There is also an Ikea-store in the next building, and I got a bright orange bath towel and a jar of cloudberry jam there. In the evening I noticed that I'm getting sick, and that was rather unexpected. My sister and her family members were all sick, but it's three days ago I was there, so I kind of wonder why this happened now. It seems to be a mild cold so far, and I hope it will not get any worse than this.

Today at noon I went to work to use the computer and search for some books on emigration. I didn't get much done. My colleagues wanted to tell me (in detail) how much they had missed me. For some strange reason the requests to stacks have been higher than normal this week. From 280-300 per day to over 400 (only counting the locally generated requests, so the numbers are really higher). In other words, it was bad timing to take this week off.

I would like to thank you for all the birthday greetings I have received, both on- and off-line!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Long weekend

It has been a long Easter holiday. Wednesday evening I arrived in Borås and my mother picked me up. I have occupied the couch at my sister's place until today. There I met my niece for the first time. Inez is a cute, but somewhat opinionated, baby. She seems to be hungry most of the time and lets everybody know about it. She was also slobering on all the clothes I brought with me, but she got away with it.

My mother and I did some shopping, of course. Not much, but I came home with a knitted cardigan, a pair of jeans (60 SEK - very cheap), and some small items. My mother had also knitted a scarf for me and made new cushions (so that they match my curtains). I visited her a few times and we made some necklaces together.

One of the events included a visit to a day spa. The adult women each got a facial treatment there. It was very nice to get massage and to get pampered like that.

The celebration of my birthday was the Sunday lunch. It was outside of town at a place that used to be a farm. They now have a restaurant in what used to be the stable. A very popular place that serves buffet style meals. Great food; salmon, herring, chicken, meatballs and many other things. Choices for dessert included chocolate mousse, lemon mousse, waffles, brownie, meringue and cookies. Yummy!

I opened my presents yesterday, which was the actual birthday. I got a gift certificate at a ticket office and a ticket for a circus show. Earlier I have received other gift certificates for flowers and a day spa treatment, for instance. Thank you!

This morning my mother brought me to the second hand store she is a volunteer at. She showed me the large section with sewing materials, buttons, thread, fabric and lots of other things. The basement was also filled with unsorted goods and I can understand that she has a lot to do there. At 10 she dropped me off at the train station and I took the train to Halmstad. This is where Olga lived (the relative who wrote daily notes in almanacs for most of her life). I had lunch at a Greek restaurant and then walked over to the church. It said in her almanacs that she had donated money to some of the stained-glass windows, so I took photos of them. The market hall where Olga had a cheese store 1930-1955, is now a second hand clothing store, and nothing was left of the old interiors. I walked out to the cemetery and understood right away that I would never find the gravestones without help (huge cemetery and no map). I located three people working there, and they knew what sections I referred to, so I finally found the markers for Olga + her parents, Olga's sister + family and Olga's nephew. After taking photos of the stones, I walked back to town, passing by the house Olga had lived in (I recognized it from our visits in the 1980s). I rested at a coffee place and then went on a short shopping spree in my favorite clothing store, Kappahl. I got three items; a nightgown and two tops. I returned back home by train in the evening.