Friday, February 27, 2009

16 October 1983

I came across an old rescued slide on my PC the other day, and took a good look at it, which naturally brought back many memories. But the picture is also a statement of the time and reveals something about life in those days, not only for me but perhaps also for others. It has a clear time stamp.

At a first glance it is obvious that I was interested in music, but also expressing myself in art (pencils and brushes). In the right box of LPs I spot a classical album (Baroque I think), and in the left it is definitely Islands” by The Band.

The reel-to-reel tape recorder, the turntable and the TV in glorious teak absolutely dates the set-up. The newer cassette tape recorder indicates progress.

If you look on the extreme left you will see a strange object (looks like two) in grey wood hanging off the top. The missing bit in the middle is where the user of this object would put his or her neck. Guessed it yet? No, right. It should be carried horizontally on your shoulders. Now then? No, I will have to tell you then. It is a yoke. From the ends of it hang chains with a metal hook to hold for instance buckets with milk. This yoke came from some old relative who had passed away years ago, and sadly, I do not know where I have got it now. I think I have moved too many times in my life perhaps.

I shall mention one final object before I let you enlarge the picture, should you so wish, my son’s first pair of shoes. On the day the photo was taken we celebrated his tenth birthday (a few days too late).

If you did not find it interesting to look at my old shelves, I will give you (in particular youngish readers) one piece of advice anyway; take photographs of your flats and houses as you go through life. I can guarantee that you will enjoy looking at them later in life. It can be rewarding, not just for insurance purposes!

PLEASE Click to enlarge!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

At Last!

TnOs house

Yes, it is finished. Well, enough to move into. No, no, it's not our house, but I'll explain.

It all started with a casual coffee conversation. " Why don't you use ours?" Those words, or words to that effect, were spoken by Mrs Swenglish nearly two years ago. Ours what? House, was what she referred to.

We were talking to some friends of ours in France, an English couple, and they were selling their big house to build something smaller, more easily maintained. They had not organised where to live in the meantime yet, so we offered them to live in ours while they were building. We don't spend many weeks there in a year, especially since we go to Sweden quite often these days for family reasons. They planned on building a wooden house, which comes in a kit almost, but that came to nothing, so they opted for a more traditionally modern house, French style. Building time was estimated to about six months.

They hired an English builder to oversee everything and to be the one to co-ordinate with French specialists, like plumber and electrician. Our friends speak only a little French, and did probably not feel confident enough to take on a French builder. Today I believe they regret that decision. They have been through all sorts of trouble with this builder, and things dragged on and on and on. In the end they sacked him and finished some of the remaining work themselves. They are very hands-on and not afraid of putting the hours in, as well as ache and pain and worry. You see, they are in their early seventies and not much for a lie-in. They have achieved a lot in their lives through hard work.

A few times during the building process we have shared our house with them when we have been there. They had stored many of their belongings with other friends, in their barns and garages, and also our house was full to the brim with their furniture as well as ours. We even had guests in the summer for a few days. No major problems. Amazing, isn't it?

But when we got to our beloved house in Normandy last week, they had eventually managed to move into their new house, basically just the phone and a few pots and pans were left. The six months had in the end turned into 17 months! Yes, nearly a year and a half. Now you will understand better how the title of this post should be spoken, with a great sigh of relief and a smile.

So in the last week we have enjoyed having our house back, doing a lot of nothing and sitting in front of the wood-burning stove. Home sweet home, at last!

wood-burning stove

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ride My Pony

AA Pic of the Week 125 w

Some of my long-standing readers might remember that I played in a band in my youth. Originally there were five of us, but when this picture was taken one member had left. We, the remaining four, tried to re-launch ourselves and went on a photo session all over town for promotional purposes. So we had lots of photos with us posing in front of interesting old doorways, derelict buildings and all sorts of backgrounds typical of the time.

As we were moving between locations we came across this Ford Mustang, a sixties icon among cool cars if there ever was one (sorry Mini fans!), so naturally we did not want to miss the opportunity, but had to snap a shot in front of the car we could only dream of. To be honest, I would not really want to have one, because it was a bit of a poser's car to be blunt.

I was nineteen at the time and can be seen in white on the left. A few years later I could afford an old Ford Cortina, having saved some of my earnings from taxi driving when I was at university. It wasn't until the following year that I had the opportunity to sit in the back of a Ford Mustang; that was when I visited my sister in Washington DC and had to be her chaperon when she did not know how to handle this guy who had asked her out on a picnic or something. Only time in my life I rode a Mustang!

Have you guessed yet which year this might be? Judging by the glasses I and the bearded one are wearing, it could have been today. That goes for the way we dressed as well, I might add. Fashion recycled you know. The year was 1967, when some of my readers were hardly born.

I still wear glasses; as I am typing this I have the same ring which my parents gave me when I graduated from school, and I am very nearly as slim as in the picture. Then I am quite a lot wiser of course!

Ford Mustang

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Batteries Included

pacemaker First of all I'd like to say that I have been slightly incommunicado because of a dodgy broadband connection for a couple of days. We do not live in the best location, so our cable is just a few meters too long and there are too many customers sharing this feeble string of internet traffic. The result is that I have had to have the speed slowed down to make it more reliable. I'm sure there are others out there with similar experiences. Technology, huh!

Anyway, good news, my mum will have a pacemaker fitted tomorrow. Yeeaah! I've always thought that it would be a lengthy affair, but apparently it is a quick job under local anaesthetic. Fabuloso! She will have it done tomorrow morning and be sent home in the afternoon. They need the beds. Where have I heard that one before?

Furthermore, after a planning meeting with some care worker it was decided she should have more home help, e.g. with shopping and showering. She already has a cleaner. Things are working out really well, which is so much more pleasing since I will go to France for a week, distancing myself even further from Sweden. Many of you know the feeling of physical detachment as an expat; you cannot be there for somebody when you really would like to sometimes. Luckily my siblings are closer at hand and can look after our mum, which makes my bad conscience a little lighter.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Preying on the Elderly - Update

Canon Digital IXUS 400 b3b3b3

My sister said on the phone the other day that there was an online article in the local newspaper, saying that the sweet-talking, well-dressed confidence trickster had been caught! This was the result of a 31-year-old's quick thinking.

Yes, the con man who targeted the elderly, in particular women, had for some reason rung the door bell of somebody approximately his own age, and this guy had his wits about him.

After the con man's usual spiel, the intended victim put his hand in the pocket, but did not pull out his wallet; he produced a camera. Then he simply said "Smile", which the trickster did, sitting on the sofa.

So when the police did all that tedious desk work, trying to put all the pieces together they came across this "visit" as well. The 31-year-old's picture was unearthed and the police said "We know him!".

He turned out to be a well-known drug user and petty criminal, but of the non-violent kind. He was considered almost harmless and gentleman-like and was even known to open doors and carrying people's shopping, part of his tricky streak of course.Perhaps he could have made an excellent salesman, but he met his match in the quick-thinking 31-year-old. This man's brain worked much more efficiently than those of octogenarians.

Now somebody rang *his* doorbell; the police. He confessed to it all and is now behind bars awaiting trial.

My sister printed off the article to show our mum, who is currently in hospital with heart trouble. She also brought her the latest photos of her great grandchildren, which my sister had copied from my blog. All of that cheered mother up and might even have steadied her heartbeat a little. We can hope.

Friday, February 06, 2009

This is an Ex-Pigeon

Let's face it, they are not renowned for being intelligent. Wood pigeons are big and heavy, but also the first species to disappear when they sense danger, which might be a sign of having a few brain cells.

Some time in the autumn a big bird, probably a pigeon, flew into the kitchen window and left a large dusty imprint on the glass. Having heard the bang I rushed downstairs, but there was no bird, only the mark it had left on the window, with a full wing span visible. This morning I was sitting in the room next to the dining room with the glass patio doors, and I heard an almighty bang. I understood straight away what must have happened.

Outside, belly up, lay a wood pigeon in, what turned out a little later to be, its death throes. Judging by the dust mark, it had taken the whole impact on its beak, on its head. No spread-out wings had absorbed the force. It must, at the moment of impact, been diving at speed with the wings tight to the body.

I used my foot to gently roll it round so it ended up on its side/front, thinking it would be easier on the breathing and also to orientate itself. I know from previous experience that birds sometimes knock themselves out only to suddenly come to life again when you think they are dead. Not so this one.

IMG_7673          IMG_7672

A couple of hours later when I was convinced the poor pigeon would fly no more, I picked it up gently and put it out in the copse for other little creatures to feed on. In doing so I couldn't help but think about Monty Python's "Parrot Sketch" and all its euphemisms for being dead. (Is that naughty?)

Owner: No no! 'E's pining!

Mr. Praline: 'E's not pinin'! 'E's passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! 'E's a stiff! Bereft of life, 'e rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed 'im to the perch 'e'd be pushing up the daisies! 'Is metabolic processes are now 'istory! 'E's off the twig! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Set in Stone

At Your Feet 175 w

The attraction of window shopping and people watching sometimes works against the intentions of city planners and architects. When I took all the photographs of the floor in this particular shopping mall in Düsseldorf many passers-by looked at me in astonishment wondering what I was up to. In the Kö Galerie in Königsallee the floor has been adorned with brass plaques commemorating famous people with a Düsseldorf connection. I have never ever seen anybody stop and read what it says on the plaques.

They are spread out in a symmetrical pattern throughout the cross-shaped mall. I do not know the exact number, but I have chosen my Famous Four to show you.

Heinrich Heine Paul Klee


Robert Schumann Clara Schumann

(From Wikipedia)

Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (13 December 1797 in Düsseldorf – 17 February 1856 in Paris) was a journalist, essayist, and one of the most significant German romantic poets. He is remembered chiefly for selections of his lyric poetry, many of which were set to music in the form of lieder (art songs) by German composers

Paul Klee (IPA: [kleː]) (18 December 1879 – 29 June 1940) was a Swiss painter of German nationality.

...Klee also taught at the Düsseldorf Academy from 1931 to 1933...

Robert Schumann,[1] sometimes given as Robert Alexander Schumann,[2] (8 June 1810 – 29 July 1856) was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is one of the most famous Romantic composers of the 19th century.

In 1850 Schumann succeeded Ferdinand Hiller as musical director at Düsseldorf, but he was a poor conductor and quickly aroused the opposition of the musicians.

Clara Josephine Wieck (September 13, 1819 – May 20, 1896) was a German musician, one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era, as well as a composer. Her prestige — she became known as "the high priestess of music" — exerted over a 61-year concert career, changed the format and repertoire of the piano concert and the tastes of the listening public. Her husband was composer Robert Schumann. After her marriage she was known as Clara Schumann, however she had achieved considerable fame prior to her marriage, as Clara Wieck.



Monday, February 02, 2009

My Medieval Profession?

I did one of those five-question quizzes over at Blogthings the other day. It is not the first time I have tried it, and I am still puzzled. The one I did before this one was completely way out in the blogosphere, not at all close the truth. I mean, how can you define anybody with only five questions asked and six or seven optional answers? In a way I admire the people who sit there and make it up!

This time I thought I would give it a go, give it five minutes only to be fair to them, and I ended up doing it several times and varying my answers. But the damn thing showed me up as a Playwright however much I tried to change my career! So be it, I am a Medieval Playwright then, of sorts. The modern version of the result is becomingly flattering since I am working on a "book project". Time will tell how accurate that prediction is. I am working on it!

You Are a Playwright

You are a highly literate wordsmith. You love both reading and writing.

You are also a natural storyteller. You can turn a mediocre anecdote into a riveting tale.

You find people and all aspects of life fascinating. No topic is off limits for you.

In modern times, you would make a good filmmaker or novelist.