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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 Sk√•ne. 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.