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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Midsummer in Dalarna

Last week I worked two days and then it was time for some time off again. Thursday was a big travel day. I had my father's car and was supposed to drive it back to him. Before I got there in the morning my mother called to say her train had been cancelled. This caused a lot of trouble. I had to go and get her and drive back, only to get another phone call from my father saying he had to drive his girlfriend to town (in the other direction) because her train had also been cancelled. Total chaos. It is remarkable that my mother and I actually made it to Hässleholm to catch our long distance train. We had only a couple of minutes to spare. We had to change trains twice on the way but we finally arrived in Leksand, Dalarna at 5 PM. We started out by having a sandwich at a café and then we took a taxi to the hostel about 2 km south of the town. We got to stay in a small and very cute wooden cottage in traditional style.

Friday was Midsummer Eve. Leksand hosts the biggest celebration of this kind. That is why we wanted to go there. In the afternoon we rode our rented bikes to town and joined in the celebrations. Three long church boats arrived with people in folk costumes, bringing parts for the Midsummer pole. They walked in a parade along the bridge and through town to the outdoor arena. The pole was 23 meters tall and it took a lot of effort to raise it into position. Meanwhile there was musical entertainment and folk dancing. Very traditional Swedish music with violins. The national anthem was sung and the crowd of about 25 000 people did the wave a few times also. It was an incredible experience to be there. Later in the evening we attended a very nice concert in the church. When we returned to the hostel at 11 PM it was still light out. It was the kind of magic summer night you can only experience here.

Saturday we were a little tired but we went back to town to go on a lunch cruise on the M/S Gustaf Wasa. It was a tourist ship sailing on the river and lake Siljan for two hours. A very nice trip with great views of the lake and forest. After this we tasted the locally made icecream, which was pretty good. We rode on a trail in the forest and then went back to the hostel to rest. I had been slightly burned by the sun and it was rather hot outside.

Sunday we rode our bikes about 2 km south to the crisp bread factory. They had sales of all kinds of crisp bread and related items such as decorative boxes and souvenirs. We bought three boxes and drove back to the hostel with it. After a short rest we went to town and had a great brunch at a café. Lots of food: eggs, bacon, salmon, herring, cheeses, cold cuts, meatballs, smoothies, pancakes, pastry, cakes and lots of fruit and veggies. We then went on the bikes again and continued out east to Tibble. We visited the Alfvén House. Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960) was a Swedish composer, violinist and conductor who wrote music inspired by the traditional music of Dalarna. This music is still popular and well known, for instance Midsommarvaka. His home is now a museum and we saw an informational film and joined the guided tour. It was interesting to see the three pianos and the paintings he had made himself. The return trip to the hostel was long but we made it. It is more challenging to ride bicycles here than in Skåne, because it's definitely not flat.

Monday was again a long traveling day. We returned to the summerhouse by four different trains and one bus. My sister came to get us at the bus stop with a car. We were tired but happy to have made this trip to Dalarna. It was really a wonderful visit, and I strongly recommend it.

At the summerhouse it was a full house, with my sister and her family visiting also. Tuesday we assembled my mother's birthday gift - a metal structure to hold a hammock. Wednesday was the actual celebration, with some friends coming by for cake. Very early this morning I took the bus and train to work. Some people were surprised to see me, as I had said that I didn't know what day I would return. The weather is not so good anymore and I had used up all my overtime, so I chose to go back to work today. There were some tasks for me, books my colleagues hadn't been able to find. I could only solve one of those cases, unfortunately. I learned that two of my colleagues had also had visits from their North American cousins, and that was great to hear (I had helped out to locate some of them)!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

American relatives

The pace at the library is slower and that's very good because my personal life has been extremely hectic. I drove the storage round three days last week and attended one meeting. Thursday I left work early and took the train to my father's place. After the fika I borrowed his car and drove to Helsingborg, which is across the other side of the province. I went to Ikea to get some things for my mother. Also did some grocery shopping at the mall. I returned home and have to say I was lucky to have survived because they drive like crazy on the highway on the west coast. Saturday I went to the nearest mall, where I left several bags with items to the charity shop, looked for furniture and lamps for my mother but found nothing worth buying, and went grocery shopping one more time. In the evening I saw a performance by the local amateur theatre company. It was a farce with extravagant costumes and lots of singing. Pretty funny with several references to local places and names. I had been given the ticket by a friend who were supposed to go too but she unfortunately got sick.

Saturday night I packed. At 4.30 Sunday morning (yes, I mean it) I crawled out of bed and got ready to leave. At 5.15 I got into the car and drove to Ystad on the south coast of Skåne. My American relatives Mara, Philip and Alisa arrived on the morning ferry from Poland at about 6 AM. These kids (they are siblings and aged 18-22) belong to the Nelson side of the family. Their ancestor August Nelson left Sweden in 1869 and settled in Iowa and later Minnesota. I brought the visitors out east, to Ales Stenar, which is a megalithic monument high up on a hill just by the ocean. It's a large oval stone ship with 69 pieces of rock probably dating back to the Iron Age. It could have been used as a solar calendar and/or a burial site. The view is amazing from there. We had breakfast near there. Since it was so early the easiest way to get food was to bring it. I had made sandwiches and bought some apple juice. After this we went to Lund, an hour away. I showed them the library and some books on history and then we went to the Museum of History and saw all the exhibits (coins, church items, cathedral interiors, curiosities, stone axes, Nordic postglacial fauna, Greek/Roman statues and a few other things). We also saw the large cathedral, built in the 1100s. We had lunch at a mall and then drove across the province to the east coast. We had a pretty tasty ice-cream in Åhus and then went down south to the summerhouse. We spent much of the evening talking about family history.

Monday morning (sort of) we (plus my mother) went on a bicycle ride in the area. We rode through the forest and out to the beach. At noon we packed all the belongings in the car and said goodbye to my mother. It was time to visit the ancestral origin, Norra Strö parish. We went to the church where many of our ancestors worshipped, were baptised, married and buried. I explained why there is a wooden chair from 1665 at the front of the altar (it was made by a parishioner who was always late for service, so he brought his own chair to be sure to get a seat). The tour continued out in the cemetery, where many relatives were buried. Next we went to the place where August Nelson was born. There is no house anymore, only ruins. Nevertheless, I wanted to show it. We drove through a forest and managed to find the place. I hadn't been there in ages and there was a large amount of trees where the house used to be. The stone walls surrounding the fields were still there, but it wasn't much to see, really. After this we went for a late lunch at the golf club in the next town. Then we returned to the village. We stopped by my uncle's place to get the key to the Historical Society Museum. The museum contains several rooms with exhibits and the school room was decorated like in the old days. My mother went to school here and we could spot her on a few photos on display. We had a snack here and I got the history books out and pointed out the lists with emigrants related to the Nelson family. After stopping by at my uncle's place again to return the key (and we also had a chat of course) we drove to Hässleholm. The young Nelsons had booked tickets on the night train to Stockholm so we had to wait it out. We spent much of the evening in a pub, eating and talking. I made sure the train was scheduled to actually leave before I left to drive home. I came home at midnight and went straight to bed. Getting out of bed this morning to go to work was tough. But I am very happy that these young people took the trouble to go to Sweden to visit their relatives. It warms my heart to know that they are interested in their personal history and I hope they will spread information about all this when they come home again. We would be happy to host more visits from our American relatives!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Library visits

The shopping trip to Copenhagen last Monday was intense. I managed to visit three malls and the main shopping street downtown. During the day I did a total of nine train rides, mostly by metro. It's the easiest way to get around there. All those malls are conveniently located at metro stations. I bought some small things and a dress. It was a nice trip.

Tuesday we arranged a picnic in the city park where we also had a boules tournament. About 20 colleagues participated. It was a great evening with wonderful weather. Just the next day it started to get colder again. It is now around 16-18 degrees and cloudy/rainy.

I worked Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday morning I went to Linköping with seven colleagues. We all went by train and arrived at mid-day. We visited the university there. It's different from ours, as it has focus on medicine, technology and science subjects. It's a lot smaller but we still wanted to see the library. We asked about interlibrary loan strategies, staffing schedules, overdue fines, statistics, house rules, electronic services and much more. We talked most of the afternoon and also walked around in the building, taking photos of all sorts of things (barcodes, signs, carts, book cases etc). Later we continued on by train to Stockholm, where we spent the night at a hotel just across the street from the station. Rather nice place. We all went out for a meal at a restaurant and it was fun to meet the colleagues away from work. At the hotel, the breakfast buffet was worth mentioning. Very nice with i.e. herring, bacon, several kinds of eggs and cheeses.

Friday morning we walked across the street to catch a regional train to Uppsala. It took 30 minutes to get there. We walked up to the big university library called Carolina. It's a place more similar to ours, with an old building, the same compact shelves, the same database provider and the same problems. Here we asked a lot of the same questions as in Linköping. We covered many aspects of library work and it was interesting to see how they do it at other libraries. They treated us for lunch and the boss showed up and invited us to his stylish office with a view of the city. We got a guided tour of the oldest book collections and the fancy room with six 17th century globes. We don't have anything like this. After this informational visit (we took photos of just about everything) we returned to Stockholm, where we split up. Some were going back home and some were going on family-related visits over the weekend. I stayed in Stockholm to visit my relatives (my mother's cousin).

Saturday I was disappointed to notice that two of the plus size stores had gone out of business. Now there are only chain stores left. I went to a mall I had never been to before. It was rather nice there, I bought a pair of sandals. I returned to the city center by subway and went to the Hallwyl Museum. It's a unique museum in many ways. It's a palace-like building with 40 rooms built in the 1890s at a very expensive address. It was just for two people, a very rich couple named von Hallwyl. They had decided early on that their house would be handed over to the government and be opened to the public as a museum. The wife had catalogued everything in the house. Every single item. The catalogue consisted of about 80 bound volumes. They had collected a few things that were on display; china, 17th century Dutch paintings, old weapons and silver items. I joined a guided tour of a large part of the house. It was definitely an interesting place.

Sunday afternoon I went to visit my other relatives, who are related to my great grandfather (the one I wrote a book about). They had also invited their son, whom I had never met. We had a very good time sitting in the garden having coffee and cookies. We talked a lot about the ancestors, of course. Monday morning I did a very short shopping trip near the apartment and then walked to the train station. I arrived back home in the evening after a rather boring train ride.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hot weather

Yesterday it was 28 degrees and I had to leave the apartment to go someplace where it was airconditioned. It was a while ago I visited the large mall at Hyllie, so that's where I went. I didn't do much there, had lunch (a very nice chicken bacon burger) and browsed the shops. I sat down and rested in several places along the way. There are two large grocery stores in the basement and I picked one to get some veggies. When I left in the afternoon I had managed to spend most of the hottest part of the day indoors, which was the main goal.

The week at work almost killed us because it was incredibly hot inside. I tried to shelve some of the older books but gave up after two carts. It was unbearable to work in the stacks. We have just done the most important tasks. It was a relief to do the two storage rounds but it's not good to work in places which differ in temperature that much. In the actual storage it is 17 degrees, in the glass corridor next to it it is way above 35 and outside it is 26-28. I also had to drive to the grocery store to get some things for a social club event next week. When I had driven more than half way I realized that I had forgotten the credit card. I blame the heat for all the mistakes I made this week.

Tomorrow is our National Holiday and I intend on celebrating it by going abroad. The shops in Denmark are open so I will do a mall tour.