Welcome to Tessa's blog

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year!

Sometimes computer systems make me want to say things I can't write here. My web browser was automatically updated and all of a sudden I couldn't post any blogs. The new version wasn't compatible with the blogger system, and as far as it looks it will not be. In order to write this I had to install another web browser.

The Christmas holiday was very nice. It even snowed on Christmas Day and it looked really beautiful outside. It was pretty cold though. This year we had decided only to give the young kids gifts, but somehow I ended up with a few things anyway: ten pairs of socks, a kitchen towel, some tree decorations and a santa my mother had made herself. The kids got tablets so they could play games and they were very busy with this. The other main thing about Christmas is the food. It was great with lots of pickled herring, meatballs, sausages, red beet salad, cheeses, Jansson's Temptation, homemade crispbread and much else.

We also made it to the after-Christmas sales and the two second hand stores that were open. At the second hand stores my mother spotted some bargains for me - a jacket and a brand new pair of jeans, both very cheaply.

I got a pretty bad cold during the holiday. I didn't get it from my sister's kids, which you might think, but from their grandparents. Not much to do about it, just endure. I was supposed to work yesterday and today, but had to call in sick. My boss said there was almost nothing to do at the library, so it was not a problem. I feel a lot better now, but I'm tired.

On a sad note, my grandfather passed away on December 23rd. His health had been failing recently and he was in hospital after contracting pneumonia. It was amazing that he made it to 100 and I'm glad he was well enough to celebrate his birthday in May. It was a milestone in the history of our family.

This will be the last blog post for 2014, so I'm wishing everybody a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

Last week was the last proper workweek before Christmas. We were treated to lots of cookies and candy in the spirit of the season. Thursday we got Christmas lunch. I spent most of the week sorting returned books and attending meetings. We are three people working here these two days and we have very few requests. About 50 in total today. We have many books to shelve, however. During my absence there was a minor book moving project started. About 1200 shelfmeters needed to be relocated within the building. A moving company was hired (the same company handled the big book move) and two guys have been busy for a few weeks. It will be finished today (and that's the main reason why I have to work today - I'm their supervisor).

Last Friday evening they tested the renovated sprinkler system and it went again pretty badly. The first message we got said that only a few books had been damaged by the water, but we later learned that it was about 200 books in the older collection. They are now in a freeze storage. If it continues like this, we will hardly have any books left on the shelves. The librarians are very concerned about the situation.

Thank you for the Christmas letters and greetings I have received, both in print and electronically! I have sent out my annual letter by e-mail. If anyone feels neglected, let me know. Tomorrow morning I will go by train to Borås, because my sister will host the celebration this year. Merry Christmas to everybody!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Back to work

The last few days before I started work again this Monday were hectic. I tried to do as much research as possible before I would have to go to work to actually work. It doesn't feel that much different, although getting out of bed early is not pleasant. I have taken it easy, we have had some meetings to discuss the future and I have deleted a few hundred e-mail messages. It's fairly slow at the library at this time of year, we mostly have returned books to deal with now.

Last week we had the Christmas party, arranged by the social club. I didn't do much this time, only one meeting prior to it and then decorating the room. We had catering, so it wasn't such hard work for us. It was quite fun and people seemed to enjoy themselves. This year's theme was water and a guy who had dressed himself in a shower curtain won first prize. Others dressed up as a sailor, crab, fisherman and seal. Santa visited also, of course.

Friday the trains were cancelled and the library was closed in the afternoon due to a storm, so I stayed at home and decorated my apartment for Christmas. I brought down the fake tree from the attic and put loads of ornaments on it. It looks pretty good, actually. There is also a star in the window, additional decorations everywhere and I even exchanged the table runners.

The Christmas gift from work is a copper colored thermos. The company who failed to install the sprinkler system correctly has also bribed us with two barrels (over 40 kilos) of candy.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Old letters and photos

I have spent much of my time reading through all the letters my great grandfather wrote to his brother. It's not a complete set, but there are letters from the 1930's to the 1950's. He mentioned, among many other things, that he had written an article about Alsace in a specific newspaper "a couple of years ago". Very disturbing not to get the details, but I actually found it. He had also written down some of his memoirs, mostly relating to his job as a sales director at Swedish Match. He travelled extensively in Europe from 1920 to 1955, and he had friends all over the world. He actually went to the US on business in 1951 and for the first time had a Coca-cola to drink - he liked it. This soft drink didn't make it to Sweden until 1953. It's wonderful to get this much material, but somewhat overwhelming. It requires a lot of research because he mentioned many things; factories, companies, people and places that I know very little about.

I can't explain in words how interesting this project is. This is really my thing - doing research, finding facts and searching for clues in books, newspapers and archive material. If I could have this as a job it would be great. Sadly, there is no money in this kind of work. It's very time consuming.

This past Saturday my father and his girlfriend came to visit. We went to Ikea in Helsingborg. We started out with lunch and then walked through this enormous store. I bought a cabinet to have in the hall. You have to assemble the furniture yourself and my father helped me. I haven't filled it yet, but it's only a matter of time. My father gave me one more box with old photos, so I have been busy scanning them also.

Winter is here. It's fairly cold, just above freezing temperature, dark, cloudy and windy. No snow yet in the south.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Research in Stockholm

While I was at work last Tuesday I printed a few copies of the first version of the book about Olga. I brought them with me on the trip to Stockholm, so that the relatives could read it and make corrections to it. There will be a second version later when I have added all the comments, both from the proof-reader and the relatives.

Wednesday morning I got out of bed early and took a train to Lund. Not the one I had planned on, unfortunately. I didn't think I would need 45 minutes to make a ten minute train ride, but things never cease to amaze me. Several trains in a row were cancelled and there was not a chance to get a taxi. When I finally arrived in Lund on an overcrowded train the limit had passed to the connecting train. I was very lucky, however, and made it onboard the long distance train with about 20 second's margin. It was delayed too. Not a good start, but everything went well after that. I was on my way to Stockholm, but made a detour to Jönköping about half way up. Jönköping is situated by the southern shore of Lake Vättern, our second largest lake. It's a very windy place. This was the town where my great grandfather Arndt and his family lived in the 1930s. My grandmother graduated from school here. I started out at the Matchstick Museum, right by the train station. A unique place, related to my family history. Arndt worked for Swedish Match as a sales director from 1920 until 1955. The head office was moved from Stockholm to Jönköping in 1933 and Arndt had to move there too. The museum depicted the factory work mostly, but also matchbox making, aspen splinting and the big boss Ivar Kreuger. Mr Kreuger tried to build a matchstick empire, but the Wall Street crash of 1929 made him bancrupt and he ended up dead, presumably by his own hand, in 1932. The company lived on thanks to government loans. The history of Swedish Match will be included in the book about Arndt. I took photos of the factory buildings, the former head office and the school. After a nice Italian style lunch I continued on by train to Stockholm. I settled in with my mother's cousin, like every time I visit the nation's capital.

Thursday morning I walked to a church to visit Arndt's gravesite. It's in a very unusual place; a columbarium underneath the church. Not difficult to find, but the staff had forgotten to unlock the door. After a while I got help and located the space. It was a plaque with Arndt's and his wife's names on and behind it were the urns. Sadly, about this time my camera decided to quit functioning, but I got the most important photos taken. After lunch I took the subway three stations to visit Arndt's nephew. He had found letters Arndt had written to his brother. We talked about family the entire afternoon. They know so much more about Arndt and his siblings than I do. I was also given the letters and I'm very grateful for this.

Friday I took the subway four stations and then a bus for about 20 minutes. I visited the Stockholm branch of the National Archives for the very first time. I studied original documents written by Arndt in his capacity as a director of an import organization during World War II. This organization tried to import chemicals to Sweden's industries, which was increasingly difficult under those circumstances. Very interesting documents.

Saturday I went to the Royal Library. I had applied for a library card on-line and ordered books ahead of time. There were some Swedish-American books we don't have at my library and I wanted to look at them. I also went to the newspaper room. They have digitized some newspapers and I searched for articles about Swedish Match. Found some interesting ones.

Sunday I took the westbound regional train about 40 minutes to visit my aunt. She had agreed to be interviewed about her grandfather Arndt. She gave me lots of information and also some poems and stories he had written. I was treated for a salmon lunch and then we went to see my grandfather. The 100-year old is now in a care facility and not that happy about the situation. He was glad to see me, however. We talked some about his life story also and I wrote it down. It turns out that he and the woman he didn't know at that time, but would later become his wife, were both abroad the day World War II broke out, and both had problems getting back to Sweden.

Monday morning I did more research at the Royal Library. I disturbed my fellow librarians by asking stupid questions. Of course, I never told them what my job is. At noon I took the long distance train back home, without detours this time.

At home, I re-packed my bag, and the next morning I went on a train to a place in Halland province, Falkenberg. It's a seaside town with lots of tourists in the summer. In the winter you can get discounts on the spa treatments there. My mother had found a good deal and booked an overnight stay with two treatments included. The only complaint I have about the whole thing is my mother's snoring. She said the same about me. It was a very nice visit. The food was marvelous, we had a three course meal with grilled trout in the evening. The spa was great with three different saunas, facial treatments and a warm indoor pool with a view of the ocean. This afternoon we got massage, which again pointed out where my back problems are located. We managed to get back to the train station just in time, my mother went north and I went south to get home. Needless to say, I'm pretty tired now.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book searching

I have visited my workplace every day for a week now. My great grandfather worked at a large company and I have searched for information about it. There was quite a lot and I have written a couple of pages about it in the book. Tomorrow I'm going to Stockholm to visit relatives. They have dug into their family archives and have located some old letters and photos for me, so I will go there to look at it and bring some of it home.

Today I was at work to actually work. The social club board had a meeting to discuss the upcoming Christmas party. It was also a convenient day to visit, because the building administration treated us all for lunch. Probably a bribe or consolation for the mess the leaking sprinkler system has caused. The woman who works with preservation said that all the books survived in pretty good shape, thanks to the staff members who worked very quickly to get them frozen. Today I also solved a mystery here. Four book boxes were missing on the shelf and it looked like they had never been there, there was no space for them. After three others had searched I found the boxes on a cart five meters away. I got a chocolate bar as a reward. My reputation as a book locating detective is still intact.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Water and books should be kept apart

My life is mostly about research these days. I have made it to a couple of malls, and at my favorite one outside Helsingborg I bought a long ash grey cardigan. But mostly I sit long hours in front of a computer, either at home, at the library or at the archive. I was at the library last Friday and that was not pleasant. The brand new sprinkler system collapsed and water poured out over the floors and book cases in the public areas of the library. Our visitors have never seen so many staff members at once. Librarians are rarely seen running in the corridors, but this was not an ordinary day. We got the situation under control in about one hour, with the help of the cleaning staff. We were lucky, only three books were damaged by the water. We don't count the two chairs, the table or the poster in the exhibit hall.

I was at the library during the weekend and I could hear the sprinkler company people work in the building. The research I did there was a success, I found a piece of information I never thought I would get. Olga wrote in her almanacs many times from about 1947 to 1978 that she had either written to or received a letter from "Gladys in America". That was it. No address, no last name, no indication to who this woman was. Very frustrating. It turns out that Olga's brother-in-law Christian had several nephews who emigrated around 1910-1914. I found all of them in New York, and one had a daughter named Gladys! I was able to follow her in the records up to 1940, after that it gets difficult, since she probably married. So far I haven't found her in any death records and she might actually still be alive. I don't need to go any further with this case, I'm just happy that I found out who "Gladys in America" was.

Monday morning I got out of bed surprisingly early to go to the Archive Center. I needed to use their databases. After lunch I went to the library and was told by my colleagues that they had had a terrible day. At eight in the morning (before the library opens), a sprinkler pipe had burst and lots of water had damaged a large part of the reference collection. I listened in amazement when they talked about the incredible job they had done. It probably sounds odd, but in order to save water-damaged books, you have to deep freeze them immediately. We have a small freezer and the Archive Center has one, mostly used to prevent vermin from surviving in old paper material. They were both filled with our reference books. This was not enough space, however, so one of the grocery stores now house boxes with our books in their freeze storage!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fall break at the summerhouse

Last week was fall break for the school kids. My mother made the trip down to the summerhouse Tuesday by train and bus with the two grandkids. I arrived an hour early to get the fridge and heat turned on in the house. It wasn't cold at all, it was around 15 centigrades most of the time. My sister joined us a few days later. We got some things done, we mowed the lawn and burned a lot of fallen tree branches. We used the fire to grill sausages. This weekend we actually bought a pumpkin and carved eyes and a mouth in it. We placed a candle inside and put it out on the deck in the evening. It's not a Swedish custom, but the kids here are taking after the American Halloween traditions. They sometimes also go "trick-or-treating". (And I can see why).

My father came to visit to play with his grandkids mostly. He had been in Stockholm to help getting my 100 year-old grandfather into a permanent care facility. My grandfather, who celebrated his big birthday in May, fell during the summer and broke his hip. He was in hospital for a while, and then in a short term facility. Now my father and his sisters were there to clear out his apartment and divide the items between them. They found lots of old photo albums, some of which my father brought down to give me. It was a real treasure, there were lots of photos depicting many of my father's ancestors. Many photos of his mother I had never seen before. There were also photos of Olga. It seems like her own photos and a scrapbook had ended up in my grandmother's possession. It was great to get all this, but now the book about Olga will be delayed, because I have to add information and images.

For me, the visit to the summerhouse ended Saturday. We went to the cemetery to put flowers on the family graves, and we met a relative there (a living one). My mother's cousin, I hadn't seen him in probably 20 years. He remembered that I was interested in genealogy. After this, we went to a nearby town for afternoon coffee at my mother's friend's place. Then I took the train back home. Sunday I picked up a parcel (these days you most often go to the grocery store to do that). I didn't know what it was, but guessed it was a prize in a consumer competition and I was right. I had handed in the flyer in a store, and won a picnic basket and some gift certificates.

The research for the books I work on continues. I visit my workplace so often that many of my colleagues now think that I have returned to my job, and I have a hard time telling them that I'm only there to use the databases and the scanner. It will take quite a while to get all those photos scanned.

And I almost forgot to write that two weeks ago I joined some of my colleagues to go bowling in Malmö. It's an annual event arranged by the social club. Dinner was also included, the food is great there. A very nice evening.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

One more project

I have been busy doing lots of research. One more visit to the archive was necessary. The book about Olga is almost finished. It will be about 75 pages. I have added photos and images, and I have to say that it was more challenging than expected. Some photos were in my camera, others as pdf-files and jpg-files.

I have already started on a new project. My great grandfather Arndt (Olga's brother) will be the next subject. Olga wrote a fair amount about him also in her almanacs and there are supposed to be letters he wrote to his brother. Arndt died before I was born, so I never met him. I think this project will be more difficult, because there isn't as much material as in Olga's case. We'll see how it goes.

I have made some excursions in Skåne (I have a train pass valid in the entire region). There was a mail order company which had a closing-down sale and had opened their storage to sell to the public. They sell arts and crafts material, like ribbons, Christmas decorations, souvenirs, beads and all kinds of ornaments. All of it was spread out in this large warehouse in random order (at least so it seemed). It took a long time to go through, but it was quite interesting. I got some small things, it was extremely cheap.

It was also time to get new sandals. There is one particular kind that I get, which is very heavy-duty black leather sandals. I walk a lot on concrete floors at work, so I need shoes with thick soles. Sometimes I buy them in Copenhagen, but last time I was there the store didn't have my size. There is another store in the southern part of Skåne which imports them, so I placed an order there and had to go on a long train ride to pick them up.

The fall weather changed from nice and sunny to very windy and rainy just over the last few days. I couldn't find my boots this morning (they might be in the attic), so I had to wear sneakers. Not a wise decision. I was soaked from head to toe (literally) when I came home this evening. It doesn't help much to use an umbrella, it soaks through after a while.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Shopping and research

There hasn't been much written here lately. I have been enjoying my free time. It's wonderful not to have to get out of bed at 5.45 AM. If it rains I can stay at home. Having this much freedom makes you look forward to retirement. The only thing I have to worry about is the book, and it's going better than I thought it would. I have written more than 40 pages now.

There have been some other things going on also. I went on a long train ride to Kristianstad to visit the dentist. Everything was fine. I went on an even longer train ride to far eastern Skåne to visit a large discount store, but that was a disappoinment. For one thing, the hygiene products I like were more expensive there, and the difference was large. I get shampoo for 19 SEK normally, and here it cost 33 SEK. Not what I call discount. I bought nothing. But the local pizza place had nice pizzas.

Two weeks ago it was Culture Night in Lund and I watched some bands play in the streets. The Geological Survey Institute had engaged a rock band to play (and I wonder if anyone gets the joke)... I also went to the History Museum, which had changed several of their exhibits recently. I saw the zoological display, the history of the Church of Dome (it's almost 1000 years old), an exhibit on Death and a few more. Rather interesting.

I have also been on a few shopping trips to different cities. I made one more visit to Ikea and got a new bathroom mat.

Wednesday I went to the regional archive, which is at the same place as we have the library's book storage. I know the people who work there, not only for that reason, but also because I have done research at  the archive on and off for more than 25 years. The staff spotted me right away and asked what I did in the reading room. The answer was research, of course. They have more databases than I can access from the library. One of the major databases, the index of Swedish deaths, had been updated, so it's now complete 1901-2013. I found some more details to add to the genealogy files. I tried to get more information for Olga's ancestor chart, but the old records were very hard to read. Several decades of birth books were missing also, so I didn't find much there.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Copenhagen visit

Last weekend I spent mostly at work, both to find articles for the Historical Society and to do research for the book about Olga. I have now found out that the gravestone for Olga and her parents has been destroyed by the cemetery administration. Very annoying, but there is nothing to do about it.

Sunday afternoon the northbound trains were cancelled, so after three different bus-rides I arrived at the summerhouse. It was time to make everything ready for the winter season. I helped my mother putting away the garden furniture and move the flower pots inside. We also tried to finish the food in the freezer. I was given some of it to take home, so now I have three different homemade marmalades. My mother has now returned to Borås for the winter.

Yesterday I made a short trip abroad - to Copenhagen. I had checked where some of the thrift stores were located, which meant going to several areas of the city I had never been to before. One other store, which was completely dedicated to the art of baking, was fun to see. I also went to Field's, the biggest mall in Scandinavia, with about 140 shops. The trip resulted in only two new tops, but it was still a nice visit, although tiring.

And my father's annual hunting trip to the north was not successful this year - no moose.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Visit to Halmstad

The new Ikea-catalogue provided inspiration for interior design, so Friday I went to Helsingborg to check out the new collection. I bought a shoe rack for the hall and a small but practical hook to be attached to the exterior of a wardrobe. It's meant to be for hanging clothes on temporarily, for the next day or for when you iron them. Saturday I went to the nearest mall to get more practical hooks, this time I found some to hang over the wardrobe doors and also on the side of a bookcase.

I got a task from the historical society, they wanted me to gather material about an event in Swedish history just before World War I started in 1914. I went to the library to do research. I hid in the newspaper room in the basement, but there were still colleagues who spotted me. No, they were not surprised to see me. Today I continued the research by going to the city library in Malmö, because they had a book I couldn't find at my library. Really surprising, as we should have all Swedish books. This one might be in our ephemera collection though, and it takes such a long time to find it, since there is no catalogue of that collection. It was easier to get the book in Malmö, and I only needed to write a few things down from it.

Yesterday I went to Halmstad by train. It's the city in Halland province where Aunt Olga lived. I knew from prior visits that it's a large city and of course the places I needed to go to were spread out in almost every direction. The cemetery, museum, library and train station are not close to one another. After an entire day of walking I was very tired.

At the cemetery I actually couldn't find Olga's grave. Slightly disturbing. I have sent an e-mail to the cemetery office to ask if it still exists. I hope I have somehow missed it, since it's a very large cemetery. I knew it was there a few years ago and I have a photo of it. They sometimes remove gravestones if there are no known family members left. I did find the other two graves belonging to this family. At one there were nettles growing in front of it. I made an effort and dug them up. It's sad that no one has the opportunity to attend these graves, but we all live far away from there.

The visit to the museum was not productive, as they didn't have any photos of my relatives or the houses they had lived in. It was, honestly, a very long shot, but you never know. At the city library I browsed the local history collection. I was looking for information about the schools my relatives had attended and found some details in various books. I noticed that the library had a database of old vital records for most of the parishes in Halland province. Too bad I didn't know this - I didn't bring Olga's ancestor chart. There are some death dates missing on it, and I might have been able to find them easily in this database. Those particular church records are very hard to decipher, so it would have helped a lot. I might have to visit Halmstad again soon. It's a nice city, beautifully situated by the west coast, with the Nissan river flowing through it. There are very nice parks and bridges. The library is also special, it's a big glass house extending out over the river.

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.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Moose dinner

Saturday I returned to the summerhouse, after first spending the day in Helsingborg. There is a very nice restaurant called Ebba’s, where everything is in the 1950’s style. The interiors, cutlery, plates and also the menu. They have fabulous cookies. But I had the shrimp sandwich, and there was more shrimp than sandwich. Very tasty.

My mother’s birthday hardly ever gets celebrated properly because we usually work with the flea market that week. However, there was no flea market this year, since there hadn’t been enough things donated. So on Sunday my mother invited some friends for a moose(!) dinner. Very unusual, but my father had given her the meat after his last hunting trip (but I think someone else shot the moose).

Two of my mother’s friends visited for a few days and they helped her get a new microwave oven. We made some excursions and I got to see a presentation of the most known company in Åhus – Absolut Vodka. There is an exhibit near the production plant in the central village. It was an interesting presentation, we learned that there is a truckload of glass bottles arriving every 15 minutes from a Småland glassworks and that almost all the vodka is exported. Their storage is a gigantic place, 23 meters high and fully automated. Absolut is the third most sold vodka in the world and the brand is known for the artistic bottle designs and the marketing.

Other activities at the summerhouse included mowing the lawn and dog-sitting. It was a small dog and she was easy to handle. One day I tried to go swimming in the ocean, but it was really cold. I was one out of two people on the beach that day, so I understood the water was cold. But I still managed to get burned by the sun. The weather has for the most part been pretty wet and there are many more mosquitos than normal.

I have now returned home, but will once again go to the summerhouse tomorrow. It will be the last weekend before I start working again.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summerhouse visit

The train strike is over, they were able to agree the day before one of the busiest travel weekends in the country, Midsummer. I made it to the summerhouse by two trains and a bus. We celebrated the Midsummer Eve rather quietly, with boiled eggs and pickled herring. There was also a group of folkdancers entertaining at the local community park. Saturday we went (by bus + train) to visit my mother’s friend for some pretty good homebaked cookies. Sunday evening we attended a concert themed “In the rosegarden” at the local church. Very high quality soprano singers.

The visit at the summerhouse was nice, but it was somewhat darkened by the number of machines that broke down, or had already broken down. It started with the brand new TV, which, after many discussions, was exchanged with the help of a neighbor who brought it to town (we don’t have a car). We got a new one of the same brand and it works better. Then one morning the opening mechanism to the microwave oven broke, so that the door couldn’t be opened. I had to use a lot of force to get my mother’s porridge out… Amazing. The fan above the stove is also broken and the weather station lost the connection to the main receiver, and wouldn’t start again even after the batteries were exchanged. My mother said “What’s next!?” and we were both thinking of the fridge, which has been repaired three times in recent years. They don’t make durable household machines anymore, that’s for sure.

My mother has been busy writing her life story. A few years ago she was given a book in which to write down her family information, and this book will be given to her first grandchild. She hasn’t had the opportunity to do anything about this until now, and we have spent quite some time talking about the questions in this book. She needed documentation and I went home yesterday, partly to get family photos copied for this. Now she also got one more book for the second grandchild, so she will be very busy with this project.

During my visit we also went swimming in the small indoor pool at Furuboda (too cold in the ocean) and visited the local historical museum (for the first time ever and we have lived in the area since the mid 80’s).

I’m back home now, also to water my plants. One didn’t make it, but it’s ok. During my absence a painter has been here to fix the damages from the window exchange earlier. It looks good, the damages are not visible anymore. The entire building has also been painted now, in the same color as before, dark yellow.

I have one more week of vacation and I haven’t decided what to do really, but I’m returning to the summerhouse tomorrow. Today I was at work, and the first thing I see in the lunchroom is a newspaper article about the dangers of working during your vacation. Many people answer e-mails and phonecalls even though they shouldn’t, and I am of course one of them. There hasn’t been that much to attend to, I have mostly sent the messages on to my colleagues. Today I got two work-related questions and had to send documents to a colleague. I try to go there late afternoons and hide in the stacks to do my research, but they spot me anyway.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Crowded trains

There hasn't been that much going on here. The weather is nice and I have stayed at home for the most part, mainly because my train pass expired. I have of course been busy with Olga's biography. I also admired the guy who stood on my balcony, first cleaning, then painting both the roof and ceiling of it, and the wall (in three different colors). It's a little strange to have builders walk past your balcony and windows every day, and I have to make sure I'm properly dressed... It's at the end now, the scaffolding will be gone soon.

The train strike is still going on, unfortunately. The summer pass (travel in the entire province at affordable price) started this Sunday and I made the mistake of going to Malmö. Getting there was ok, but on the way home the train was extremely crowded. I have experienced worse train rides in my time, but still, it was not pleasant. It will be 28 years of daily commuting this fall. Incredible what I have put up with all these years.

At work my colleagues seem to be doing fine. They were surprised to get 120 requests from the same person yesterday, but they managed. It has slowed down at the library, but we get these hobby researchers during the summer and they can challenge us quite a lot. I'm visiting my workplace right now, and from the documents posted on the intranet I can conclude that I have been elected member of a committee here and that I will be in charge of a workshop I have never heard of. Interesting.

This upcoming weekend is the Midsummer holiday, and I plan on going to visit my mother at the summerhouse. I might stay there for a while if the weather is good.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Travel diary from 1894

Last weekend was also fairly long, three days, since the national holiday is June 6. We normally don’t celebrate it much. I usually go on a shopping trip to Denmark that day because the stores are open there, but the train strike is still going on, so I decided it was too much trouble. Instead I have done some short trips to different malls. I also spent Saturday at work, to avoid getting strange questions from my colleagues. I did some research for the biography. Other activities at home include a thorough cleaning of the bathroom, handwashing blouses, a minor reorganization of the wardrobe and some cooking. Today was very hot, 26 centigrades, and I did basically nothing. I went for groceries at 7 in the evening and almost melted away. We are not used to this kind of weather, I hope it cools down soon. Frequent readers of this blog (if there are any at all) know that Swedes have to complain about the weather, no matter what.

My grandmother’s cousin sent a very interesting document he had found in his father’s belongings. First an explanation: my great-great grandfather was a sailor and he seems to have been quite adventurous. He had actually lived in New Zealand 1872-1878, before his marriage. In 1894, then married with three children – one was Olga, he made the journey back to New Zealand, this time with his brother-in-law and his family. The latter family stayed there until 1908, when they moved on to Australia (we visited the descendants there in 1998). My great-great grandfather tried to urge his wife to sell the house and emigrate with their children, but she refused. She was very religious and was worried that the children would not get confirmed properly, as she did not think New Zealand to be a “godly country”. I have known about this story my whole life, but I didn’t know that my great-great grandfather wrote a travel diary during his voyage to New Zealand in 1894. It took a little more than two months by train and ship from Copenhagen, via Hamburg, Bremen, Southampton, through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, India, west and south coast of Australia, Tasmania and finally Wellington. The diary is an incredible account of the people they met, the sights they saw and even what they had to eat. He had sailed the seven seas since 1869, and you can tell he had been in those ports before, he commented on it. After three years in New Zealand he returned home. He never managed to persuade his wife to emigrate. If he had, this would be a completely different story…

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Long weekend at the summer house

Wednesday last week I went to visit my mother at the summer house. It was a long weekend (Ascension Day), so my sister and her family also visited. There was lots of work done; we cleared all the roofs of the unavoidable pine needles and moss, had a cracked window exchanged, cleaned all the windows thoroughly, and washed the south house wall with the water hose and a brush. My effort here was not that extensive, I basically held the ladder my sister was standing on while cleaning the wall. We got soaked, but it turned out very well. The wall will be painted later. Other activities included soccer practice, lego building, bubble blowing and other games with the kids. There was time for a short fleamarket round also. Since my sister had the car, my mother also stocked up on groceries.

I returned home Sunday. I didn’t dare to stay longer because there were rumors about a train strike for the limited stop-trains. Unfortunately, it came into effect early Monday morning. This is causing lots of problems for about 80 000 commuters in the entire southern part of Sweden. There are some towns in the northwest that now have no train service at all. At least I can go on the trains that make all local stops, but they are very crowded since all passengers now have to go on them. I definitely can’t go anywhere during rush hours. Those who have cars have the option of using them, of course, and this is noticeable on the roads. Getting from here to Copenhagen is possible, but takes a very long time. It requires a train ride, a bus ride, and a metro ride. Lots of people have missed their flights from Copenhagen Airport because of this. There are news of the strike being extended also, and I’m very unhappy about this, since I am dependent on the trains.

Monday I went to work (by train) to make preparations for a social club activity. I went grocery shopping, using the storage round car. Tuesday I went once again to work, to participate in the actual activity, a barbecue. We had planned on having it in the park outside the library, but it rained, so we moved it to the staff lunch room. Not the actual barbecue, but the eating part. We have an open air deck right by the lunch room, so we grilled the sausages there and ate indoors. It went surprisingly well and we had a very good time.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

100th birthday party

I went to Stockholm by train Thursday, to stay with my mother’s relatives. Friday I went shopping in town a little, but I spent most of the day at the Swedish History Museum. I can’t remember ever having been there before. I toured the exhibits about gold and silver treasures, Vikings, textiles from the 17th and 18th centuries, and the history of Sweden 1000-2000. I also listened to a guide, who gave more details about the special exhibit on the battle of Gotland in 1361, where a few thousand people were killed when the Danish king Valdemar invaded the island. Not the best museum I have visited, but all rather interesting, especially the Viking exhibit.

My grandfather’s birthday party Saturday was amazing. It was at a restaurant near his home, a 40 minute train ride for me. Almost 70 people attended, some had travelled very far (his nephew from Denmark and his former hunting friends from northern Sweden, for instance). The 100 year-old seemed to be enjoying the event, as he has always loved parties. He said he gets tired quite quickly these days, but that’s no wonder. His mind is clear and he still plays bridge and solves the most difficult crossword puzzles. It’s not easy to find a suitable present for someone turning 100, but we ended up giving him a basket with food items like jam and biscuits. Other people gave him flowers, mostly. The buffet was very nice, and the cake too. It was a warm and sunny day (perhaps a little too warm), but we all had a good time. I don’t see those relatives much, as we are spread out all over the country.

Sunday I went to a town two subway stations away, to visit even more relatives. These ones I had never met. It’s my paternal grandmother’s cousin. I contacted him recently because I need help with Olga’s biography. It turns out that he has all his father’s (Olga’s eldest brother) documents saved, including the letters from Olga, photos and much else. I stayed there for hours, going through these papers. His father had been very meticulous and kept all documents. It was very interesting and I got answers to some of my questions. I was given the letters from Olga, which was great, as I need them for the book. I pointed out which photos I wanted, and he will scan them and send later. He had paintings of some of the ships Olga’s father and brother-in-law sailed on, and even a wooden model of one, apparently made by Olga’s mother.

I returned home yesterday, and I have now read through all Olga’s letters to her brother. Some of them can be used in the biography. They also shed light on something I had been wondering about. Olga occasionally wrote about someone named Ulla (which can be a woman’s name), but I now found out that it’s actually a cat!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

New windows

Last week my windows and balcony door were exchanged. A very noisy and dusty job. In order to get the old windows out they had to use a sledge. There are damages from this that will be fixed later. I was at home during the work and it was not so easy to concentrate on the family history research when those guys were working in the same room. I spent three days cleaning afterwards. There was concrete dust all over the apartment, even in the laptop. Everything turned out very well, though. The new windows are air-tight (the old ones were absolutely not), they are easier to clean and there are now Venetian blinds in front of all the windows and also the balcony door.

This week I got a train pass that is valid in the entire province of Skåne. It was expensive, but I think it will be worthwhile, now that I have time to travel. I have been shopping at my favorite mall outside Helsingborg, and also at Ikea (got a freestanding clothes rack – I need more places to hang my clothes). Unfortunately, I had to go to the library one day to take care of some business regarding the social club activities. I try to go there late afternoons or weekends, so that my colleagues will not see me. I have also hidden in the library basement, in the microfilm reading room. I have searched for newspaper obituaries there, for the biography project. Didn’t find all of them, but there was one for Olga herself, luckily.

Today was the first really warm day for the year, about 20 centigrades and very sunny. This weekend is the carnival in Lund, which the students arrange every four years. I usually go to see the parade, and I made it onboard one of the overcrowded trains to go there today. It’s by far the biggest event in this area, about 200 000 people watch the floats moving slowly through town. The floats are pulled by trucks, and everything is decorated in extreme colors. The theme this time was the future and the students had been very inventive, there were references to current events, the upcoming election, the royal family, google, plastic surgery and other modern trends in society. In between the floats there were marching bands, also from other universities. It was fun to watch, but tiring to stand up for so long. Getting out of there was not easy, the number of people heading for the train station at the same time was just ridiculous. It’s not that crowded even in the biggest cities I have visited.

Some family news: my sister was able to get a job close to home, after having been unemployed since last year. My mother has now moved down to the summer house for the season.

Next week there will be a historic event in the Ericsson family – my grandfather turns 100! We are all amazed (including himself). The party will be the following weekend and we are all going, of course.



Sunday, May 4, 2014

Big project

It didn’t take long before I visited my workplace. Just a few days after I went on vacation, a colleague was going to retire and there was a party arranged for her. It was nice to visit, but I realized that I can’t be there during regular work hours. I get stopped in the corridor by colleagues, asking me what I do there. I have a lot of research to do, and I need the databases at the library. I have many of them on my home computer, but not all. I have started the big project of writing my great aunt’s life story. Her name was Olga and she died in 1985. We inherited a box with her almanacs, where she had written every day for seven decades about the daily chores. Very brief notes, but still enough to understand what her life was like. It’s rare to get such a material and I really think she deserves to have her story told, even though she lived a normal, fairly uneventful life. There is lots of research required, because she wrote about people I never knew and she lived in a town I don’t know much about. There are many questions unanswered here, so I wrote to a relative on that side to perhaps learn more. He was very surprised to hear from me (we have never met), but said he had some information about the family to share. I have also looked into Olga’s parents’ aunts, uncles and cousins, to see if some of them emigrated, and there were several. So this project has all the prospects of becoming a huge one.

I have also done something I have been thinking about for quite a while – I went swimming at the indoor pool in Lund. It has a new pool for swimming, which is completely separated from the area where the kids play around in the water slides. It was my first visit since the addition, and it was a good experience. Brand new changing rooms and a hot sauna too.

Apart from this, I have discovered that there is a world going on in the daytime, which I have almost never seen. It’s rather nice to go shopping before 4 pm, there are short lines in the stores then. I have been to several malls and found some small things, a scarf, for instance. Other activities include cooking, doing laundry and watching TV. I also got a new passport. And in relation to this I borrowed four different travel guides for cities in Europe, so maybe I will go on a trip somewhere.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Freedom at last

It turned out to be eleven workdays in a row, so I was pretty brain dead at the end. The last week I attended two meetings and there were many issues to solve. I managed to clear my desk, and many people commented on this, some even said they hadn’t been sure that they would ever see the actual desk. Yes, I kept an enormous amount of stuff there; books, family history papers and other documents. I had to borrow the storage round car to get all of my personal belongings home. There were eight boxes with candy also.

Easter was spent at the summer house, with my mother and two of her friends. It was the annual art fair event, where local artists keep open houses, to show their works. My aunt visited also, and we all had Easter lunch at Furuboda and celebrated her birthday at the same time. Lots of boiled eggs and pickled herring were consumed (very tasty). Apart from that we did mostly garden work. We mowed the lawn and cleared the area for tree branches and pine cones. I returned home Sunday.

At home I have done a lot of organizing. I have tried to file away documents and old genealogy cases into appropriate folders. Still a lot to do there. I brought two bags with clothes and Christmas ornaments to the charity shop. I have been to the recycling place with paper, plastic and metal. It feels rather strange to have this much time off and I think I will end up getting very lazy. However, I wake up at seven every morning when they start working on the buildings and assemble the rest of the scaffolding.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


The week at work was interesting. I usually don’t work seven days in a row, but these are exceptional times. These upcoming days will be my last workdays for several months, so I have to clear my desk and file away documents. I have noticed that I have an incredible amount of private things here also (mostly relating to family history research). We have had several meetings and I have written a few instruction manuals for my colleagues. They have started to show signs of nervousness and ask me a lot of questions. I’m the one who has been in the stacks the longest and has the most knowledge of the old catalogue. We’ll see how it goes without me. (One colleague suggested that they could scan the request slip and mail it to me, if they had problems finding the book)…

The major thing that happened at work was the arrival of a large display case and about 40 kilos of candy! It was the result of my name being drawn as first prize winner in a consumer competition. I understood it would be large box, so I asked to have it delivered to work instead of my apartment. I put the case in the staff lunchroom and poured the candy into the different spaces. It was a huge success, of course. Many of my colleagues took photos and posted on their facebook-pages (even the library boss did that). They were curious, so I explained the concept of consumer competitions and why my family takes an interest in this (it actually goes back to the mid 1980’s when my mother won some candy).

And like it knew I was going on vacation, the old (1955) metal compact shelving system in the lower basement quit working Friday afternoon. It got stuck when the ball bearings broke into pieces (the electrical moving force is so large that they shatter). There are no spare parts, and the janitor couldn’t do anything. The university maintenance sent two guys over, and they said maybe they could fix it next week. Sigh…

At home things have also been a little difficult. They are going to exchange all the windows in the entire apartment block (five houses) and also paint the exterior. There is already scaffolding on my building, so now I can’t have anything on the balcony. The flowers are inside, the furniture is in the attic and I soon have to remove the wooden floor somehow. We also have to clear the area near all the windows, so I have taken down curtains, moved the egg cup collection, lamps and vases. And I finally got to do my laundry on Wednesday.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Birthday and mishap cookies

This past week we had the annual social club meeting. We managed to get through the agenda in 20 minutes (I had to stay on as chairwoman, because no one else wanted to take over). We had invited a scholar who uses our books and other material quite a lot. He gave a speech about his research topic, which is slavery in the Mediterranean area in the 17th century. Very interesting to hear, and we are glad to know that our books come to good use. Buffet style dinner afterwards.

Thursday was a pretty strange day. I left work early to go home and bake cookies. It went really badly. I ruined more than half a packet of butter by accidentally getting water in it, after having melted it. The remaining butter was not enough to start over, so I had to find another recipe. Choosing chocolate cookies, I mixed everything, only to realize that there was not enough baking soda. I couldn't believe my bad luck. It's difficult to replace baking soda in a recipe, so I decided to make the cookies anyway. They turned out to be very flat and oddly shaped.

At the same time as the baking, I was supposed to do laundry. However, someone had (by mistake, it turned out) locked the laundry room door. Very annoying. I figured out who it was and posted a large, angry note on their own door (they were not at home). This didn't help, they came home too late for me to start the laundry. In the middle of all this, another neighbor showed up and suggested dinner in town, and I thought I deserved it after all this mess.

Friday the cookies were a success at work, but then again they would eat any cookie of any shape and form. Saturday was my birthday and my father and his girlfriend came to visit. We followed the usual routine, and went to a mall (in Lund this time, though) to have lunch. We window-shopped and then went on to the nursery to get flowers for my balcony. I got that as a birthday present. We also made a stop at the grocery store, so I could stock up. Afterwards we had coffee and the famous cookies here.

My sister's (and my mother's) efforts trying to win in consumer competitions sometimes yield winnings for me too. They enter my name on the forms occasionally. I recently got a gift certificate for a spa treatment. Also just found out that I will get a large box with candy next week. Looking forward to that.

Today not much has happened, apart from cooking (meat sauce and cauliflower) for future lunch boxes. Not as many as I planned on, because it turned out to be so tasty, I ate too much of it.

And my long leave this fall (August 15 - December 15) has been approved.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Emigrant research lectures

Over the past few weeks I have had quite a lot of pain in my back. I got treatment by the chiropractor twice, but it's still not good. He said that I should walk as much as possible, so I have taken several trips to cities to go shopping..... It requires a lot of walking, so I thought it would count. I have been in Lund to a flea market and had brunch at a restaurant near the city park. I have heard of this restaurant, and I was curious to try the food. It was great, lots of herring, salmon and other things I like. The dessert table was impressive, the chocolate mousse was definitely homemade.

At work I have done a lot of talking lately. I have given four lectures about Swedish American biographical works and how to find lost emigrants in North America. Several of my colleagues have found information about their relatives by using the databases I suggested. It was quite fun to hear about their family histories, and I'm glad they seem to have enjoyed the lectures. After this, there is no doubt in anyone's mind what a nerd I am. I talked non-stop for an hour and a half on this subject and could answer all the questions. My links and booklist are now a part of the staff online resource list.

The library has employed a curator who is an expert on preservation and conservation of books and paper material. She went with me through almost all the floors of the library and also the storage, and I showed her all the collections that need attention for some reason. I explained how we work and what the problem areas are. There has been very little interest in preservation, even though it's our duty. I hope this will change now.

I have moved a book collection to the storage, this time it was very old books, so I had to do the job myself. It wasn't possible to transport them on carts, so I had to use boxes. It was not ideal for my back, it got worse afterwards. The faculties have also sent about 30 boxes with books for me to process. I was able to distribute some of them to other colleagues, but it was still a lot of work. I have to say it's great not to have to drive the storage round anymore, but I somehow end up doing pretty hard work anyway.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Birthday party

Last weekend I was in Borås to attend my sister's big birthday party. She turned 40 and invited a large crowd for an open house. Our mother had made lots of preparations, but the only thing I really did was to peel as few kilos of potatoes. And load the dishwasher a large number of times. The party was great, the kids ran around, the adults were talkative, the food was very tasty (salmon and potato terrine, with homebaked cake for dessert) and my sister seemed to be happy about the presents.

I took two days off from work, so I stayed longer than usual. One of my colleagues had forgotten this and texted me at 8 AM Monday morning. I was not so happy about this. Anyway, my mother and I went to the local swimmingpool, where she exercises twice a week. Nice place. We also went shopping at the mall area and some second hand stores, including the one she works at as a volunteer. Tuesday I had an appointment for massage, where I used yet another gift certificate given to me at Christmas. The train ride home that evening turned out to be longer than expected. Another train driver had damaged a switch, so the trains were cancelled and we had to go by bus part of the way. The journey lasted five and a half hours instead of four. Very boring trip.

One colleague, who has been on paternity leave since June, returned last week, but only part-time. Still, it's a welcome addition. This past week I handed over almost all my regular tasks to other people. I no longer drive the storage round, shelve or sort requests or returned books. It's a test to see if the others manage without me. It's too early to tell if it's going to function. I have started to arrive late for work (at 8 instead of 7) and go home "early" (at 5 PM or so). I will use the last five weeks to clear my desk and finish all the other projects, before I go on my long vacation. I was told that they will actually employ someone else to fill in for me during this absence, and to my knowledge that has never happened before in the library's history. There is no money to pay double salaries, so where they found that resource I don't know.

This past week I started giving another lecture to my colleagues. It's about biographical works (like the previous one), but this time the scope is Swedish-Americans. We have a collection of Swedish American books, and some of them contain interesting information about the emigrants and where they settled in North America. I also included information on how to find lost emigrants, online databases and general family history research techniques. The lecture seems to be popular and I will give it several times the next few weeks, so that everyone gets to hear it.

This Friday I got to go to the new ephemera collection storage. It's in a large house, where we had our Christmas party two years ago. It was then empty, but now it is crammed with compact shelves on two levels, and the material was either on the shelves or on pallets on the floor. The move was recently finished and this was the first time I saw the place with shelves installed. Impressive place. They have lots of work to do, getting the material on pallets up on the shelves. It will take years getting it all in order.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stand-up show

The work week was pretty ordinary, so nothing exciting to report from the library. Friday was a long day. I went out to eat after work and then continued on to the theater. The ticket was given to me as a Christmas present by my sister. It was a stand-up show by a local talent, and it was really funny. He tried to make predictions about the future and it turned out to be an entertaining show.

Saturday I woke up early, but decided it was too early and went back to sleep. I finally woke up at 1 p.m. and was amazed at the number of hours gone by. It has been a slow weekend spent at home. I have been cooking, tidying up and watching TV. Today was the annual Vasaloppet ski race, run in rather bad conditions. It's not cold enough, the snow turns into slush. It's much warmer than normal, and it seems like there will be no more winter here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Nice lunch

Work is basically the same, some people are absent for various reasons and the returns are piling up. I'm involved in several committees at the library, and there have been lots of meetings these past few weeks. One day I attended three meetings and felt pretty braindead afterwards. I have now handed in the 2013 statistics from my department, so that is over for this year.

One nice thing was the lunch I was treated to one day. I had done research for a former colleague, and payment was this lunch at a golf club. Very good food. It turned out that I got more research tasks though, because he wanted to know about the other emigrants as well. I have already done it, it was fairly easy as they ended up in the same place as the others (Massachusetts).

I got to talking to one of my neighbors when I was in the laundry room last week. He was apparently very interested in libraries and reading, because he asked for a tour of my library. He was very impressed by our old books and the picture database that we are hosting. His origin was an area in the Middle East where access to libraries was not a common feature, so he is catching up on his library visits here (he has six different library cards).

The weather here is strange. Meteorologically, the spring has arrived in the south. It has been above freezing for seven days and nights, so winter is supposed to be over. The snowdrops are blooming in the park outside the library and the migrating birds are returning. It's really early.

The Olympic Games is turning out to be a very successful competition for us. We have many medals, but only two gold. The last chance is today, when Sweden meets Canada in the hockey game final.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Noise and long hours

It's pretty tough at work. These past two weeks have been hard to get through. I'm working about ten hours a day again, and this is not what I expected. Half of the staff in the stacks are either sick or injured, so we have done only the absolutely necessary tasks. There is a mountain of returned books that we don't have time to shelve. We are running out of space for all the books and have to put them on the floor. It was like this early fall last year and I really didn't want to see that happening again.

It's very noisy at the library right now. They started refurbishing one floor and also installing a sprinkler system. The drilling is so loud that they have given us covers for our ears to muffle the sound. It's going to be even louder next week when they will remove the concrete floor on the highest level. We are not looking forward to this, because we can't escape. We have to retrieve books no matter what.

I was told that we have to send in the statistics to the national library no later than February. This meant that I had to measure the entire book collection. It's about 100 000 meters. I had some old figures, but since we have moved more than half of the collection, I had to measure it again. It took three days.

By the way, the first half of my long vacation was approved. And God, do I need it..... It starts around April 20 and lasts almost three months.

The Olympic Games started yesterday and Sweden already has two silver medals, both in cross country skiing. I watch some of it on TV.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Computer issues

Last week was tough. It was the first week of the semester and the new students all wanted library cards at the same time. We noticed a definite increase in the number of requests, so we were busy. I also had to pick up seven boxes with journals from a faculty library and shelve them at the new storage. There are five faculty libraries that will merge into one and they are now hard at work trying to reduce their collections. If we have the first 20 years of a specific journal and they have additional volumes, they donate their part to us. They will also give us large sets of journals later, so the new storage will soon be full.

I spent the weekend at home, mainly because of the bad weather. It's cold and windy. It happens to snow today, but I guess it will be gone again by tomorrow. In the far north of Sweden it's a little colder than here, they have had down to 42 centigrades below zero. The record is around 52, I think. Not pleasant.

My new laptop was finally installed properly and that was a lengthy process. I handed it over to the technicians at work, so they helped me get some programs installed. Since I work at a university, I'm allowed to use work-related programs also at home. However, getting them to function was not easy and it required a lot of problem solving by the technician. I'm grateful for this, because I have not enough knowledge to deal with these issues.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bad weather

Last week was a very normal January week at work. We had a fair amount to do. It's already now noticeable what subjects will be popular this semester. Apart from the standard textbooks, the students borrow books about architects, biofuel, mechanics, mindfulness, immunology and a large number of other subjects. The semester really doesn't start until next week, but they have been given the reading lists ahead of time.

This weekend I removed the Christmas decorations and the tree at home. It was hard work (the tree was overloaded) and it took most of Saturday. All of that is now up in the attic again. I did sort some things out to give to charity. Sunday I defied the bad weather and walked across town to a grocery store. I made my own hamburgers, not only for that day, but also for future lunch boxes. Very tasty, if I may say so myself.

It has snowed quite a bit here, but on this side of Skåne (the west) it has blown away again. It's just about freezing and the winds are very high, so this is causing trouble for commuters and others. Parts of the train lines are out, but I think I will make it home this evening.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

After-Christmas shopping

I have spent much of the vacation doing as little as possible (and intentionally so), but I have accomplished some things. I have changed zippers in three pairs of jeans (very difficult), shortened one pair and mended a top. I did research for a colleague and that is now finished (interesting case, the ancestors lived in Jämtland, and several family members emigrated to Canada). Went shopping at the after-Christmas sales and came home with something I have needed for a long time - a new laptop. I have been busy removing files from my old laptop, so I haven't had time to install the new one yet. As a preparation for this new year, I have also changed the calendars, filed away old documents and made some plans for the next few months.

Twelfth Day is a holiday here, so the workweek started Tuesday. It was not a pleasant experience to get out of bed that early, especially not after such a long vacation. We were all tired and it takes a while before you get back into the routines. We had the usual problems when a new year begins, one of the databases went down (it does every January 1st), but it was soon fixed.

We are still waiting for the winter here. It's 6-8 centigrades and rainy. The winter resorts in the north don't have any snow and hence they don't have any visitors. I have been watching some sports on TV, like biathlon and cross country skiing, and they have problems getting enough snow for their competitions also in other parts of Europe.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas holiday

The Christmas holiday was very nice, despite the lack of snow. Christmas Eve I took the train to Göteborg, where my sister's in-laws host the festivities. It was the usual buffet with lots of good food (herring, meatballs, salmon, sausages, cheese and much else) and a fair amount of presents were handed out by Santa. I got some gift certificates, a necklace and a ring my mother had made herself by fusing colored pieces of glass, a knitted scarf, a pocket book and both muffin and petit four cases plus a book in which to write my own cookie recipes.

The rest of the holiday was spent in Borås with my mother and sister & her family. We made some purchases at the after-Christmas sales in town (I got a knitted top and a pair of boots). My sister suggested that the family women should visit Sweden's largest discount store, and the women agreed. It's a huge place about an hour and a half away by car, and the prices there are sometimes ridiculously low. Of course you buy more than you really need, but it's practical things like hygiene products, toys, clothes and household items. I found a top and some small things.

Monday I returned home again, after a pretty relaxing week. I celebrated New Year's Eve by eating pizza in front of the TV. I had a nice view of the fireworks from my balcony. Today was the first workday of the new year, and it was incredibly hard to get out of bed at 6 AM after such a long vacation. But I made it, and we have been busy at the library, since there were requests from several days waiting to be processed.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the Christmas letters and holiday greetings! Remarkable how many of you suggested that I should visit the US again soon...