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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.