Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Today is Valborg

.... which in sweden has become the students day. Here in Södertälje the new students (graduates) put their white hats on to celebrate that they soon quit school/gymnasium.

The family and myself we will walk to a Valborgsmässo-brasa (a fire) to celebrate the spring. Because spring is really here and all the trees are turning green.
The picture I borrowed from a fellow blogger who has blogged the text to my favorite song this time of year. Vintern rasat...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Snapshot: Ceiling

Let there be light.

Listening to while posting: Dag Vag - Byttebytt

Monday, April 28, 2008

One year anniversary!!!

Of our blog is TODAY! I have no idea how many posts, how many comments, and how many of our photos have made it here, but we are going strong. We are just about to pass 20 000 visits in the next coming days.

As we say in Sweden: Hurra för oss!

Some particular popular themes have emerged since we started: gardening, coffee, chocolate, birds, book reviews, history, design and food. Did I miss anything? That is what life is about, after all.

Thanks everybody for all your efforts and input! Photo credit: O.K.

Comments on this post can be about anything - all topics allowed. Open thread starts here...

Pondering people all over the world, unite! Locations of our readers the last 8 months.

Snapshot: Bike Polo!




Listening to while posting: Terje Rypdal - De slagferdige

Soaring in the Andes

Since I haven't had time to process all the nice photos from the last week here in New Jersey, I am posting two from Parque Condor close to Otavalo in Ecuador. It is a raptor trust, where injured owls, eagles, and falcons are kept until they are healed and zoo birds live out their old age. The most amazing birds I saw there were the harpy eagle and king vulture. They have a show where they let falcons and eagles fly free, and that is what the photos show. It is an incredible place, and beautifully placed on a hill overlooking the Central Valley and Otavalo. It is run by a Dutch scientist and you can tell because it has great interpretive designs, clean bathrooms with toilet paper, and environmentally friendly programs for school children and close-by villages. Visit if you are in the area, it is worth the bumpy ride up the hill.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A garden walk at Ytterjärna

This is some buildings and a park built in antroposophic philosophy. I know they dont like 90 degrees angles on houses. They have all kinds of colours too.

Four hues of blue, one painted color.

No right angles in this house, ie 90 degrees.
Examples of their color pigments

Gulsippa och vitsippa

Examples of their famous (in Sweden) water staircases for purifying sewer water and purifying ponds.

A nice bench in the woods
A moveable flower crate

Blåsippa Hepatica nobilis

I love this color, they vary a lot so you´ll have to look for the really blue ones.

Vitsippsmattor och sångsvanar

Vitsippsmattor till Swedette och alla andra som längtar efter en svensk vårkväll.

(Anemone blankets for Swedette, and everybody else who longs for a swedish spring evening.

The sun is about to set and the flowers has started to close.

A sunray still reaches the meadow.

A pair of swans are cruising the little creek, slowly.

When I come closer they are alerted and sing out with their beautiful voices. In swedish they´re called singing swans.


Trädgårdsmässa i Älvsjö - Garden fair 2008 Sweden

A plant called Spetsmössa. (Fringy hat)

This garden fair was all but about gardens. Mostly there where things to put in your garden. Like stone paving made of concrete or natural stone and bird baths.

Our display, the butterfly project goes on for another 2 years. Some of the pictures on the wall are my photos.
Boys with toys, garden and model trains!
A spring garden designed by Hannu Sarenström. Absolutely perfect. Blue anemone nemorosa and a green one next to it.
Some other pictures.

And what did I buy? See below. Balkansippa och två dubbla julrosor, en röd och en vit.

Last call

Yesterday Stockholm's nicest barista closed his coffee bar in Gamla Stan, so this called for a quick visit for a chat and a last shot of that black gold.

1 day left.

And look and behold who sits on the top shelf...

...and who is in the grinder too? No-one less than David Lynch! Ok, his signature coffee to be more precise.

So of course I had to have one. Good, but nothing special. No parallel realities, doppelgangers or even midgets appeared. ;)

Haugaard's Cuatro blend was a much better espresso, excellent even. Still without strange sensations though.

Listening to while posting: Vagn Holmboe - Symphony no. 2

"Å fan, det är vår!" part III

Götgatan, yesterday 14.59.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The strength of plants

Bamboo are often planted in gardens but can turn into nasty things. Here is a photo by a friend of mine, with his story of what happened.

"First it pushed up through a foot of reinforced concrete breaking steel rebar, then it forced its way thru six inches of solid oak and pine flooring, splitting it easily, with much cracking, splintering, and so forth, and then it squeezed between the wall and unit there. Simple for bamboo."

Spring bouquet from my frontyard

Nice surprise when the Fritillaria "kungsängslilja" began to show, I love them! I have 10 or more flowering right now.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Snapshot: The upper class' subtle way of expression

What a load of crap.

Ok, this is probably only funny to Swedes and jokes that need to be explained are often ruined, but I'll try anyway so you won't feel too abandoned.

This is a bill for the Newspaper Östermalms-nytt. Östermalm is a part of Stockholm with a long upper class tradition. The bill reads "3000 TONS OF HORSE SHIT MAY BE DUMPED IN RECREATION AREA". Oh the irony...

I find the second headline amusing as well but for a different reason: "Get in shape with books and bottles". That could become a very popular method.

Listening to while posting: The humming sound of a espresso machine from 1961.

Shiny objects of desire

Bling bling.

I was digging through my boxes with bike parts for the upcoming swap meet this weekend and found this little gem. It's an Italian Campagnolo C-Record rear derailleur (gear changer) from the 80's. Top of the line at that time and has a nice sculptural, pseudo-aerodynamic shape.
Of course this shape doesn't help the aerodynamics for the whole bike and rider in any significant way and only adds weight, but it is very nice to behold.

The cranks from the same C-Record group share the same "visual design over function" design ideal. Sleek, shiny but with a too small cross section which makes them flexy (even for me). One part of the group that I don't have is the delta brakes, much criticized for, among other things, the reduced leverage when the brakepads wear (If I recall it right). But of course they are gorgeous! :)

Delta brakes, makes you fly down the hills! ;)

Campagnolo came to their senses a few years later and produced more sensible bike parts, but I would say this "visual design over function" is very common, even rampant in the area of "designed" stuff today.

Porsche knives, Alessi citrus presses etc. Nice to look at but usually way overpriced compared to their function. Why can't things be beautiful AND work? Or maybe the intended function of them is to sit on a shelf and look nice?

I think I'll keep the C-record stuff I have though, if only as "bike jewelry".

Listening to while posting: Birdies and diesel engines.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

God said "Melt the cheese, and the cheese melted."

The best pizza in the world is being made sometimes in our house. Homemade dough with wholewheat flour (see Animal, Vegetable, Miracle for Friday Night Pizza recipe as pdf file), mozzarella cheese, basil, anchovy, and home made tomato sauce. Heavenly! Why is Italian food so good? Explain this please.


Strong coffee, strong emotions

A freshly roasted Harrar is a serious matter...

"Strong coffee, and plenty, awakens me. It gives me a warmth, a pain that is not without pleasure. I would rather suffer than be senseless!" - Napoleon Bonaparte

Not all of Johann Sebastian Bach's cantatas were religious, one deals with another holy subject: Coffee.

J.S. Bach, an enthusiastic coffee drinker himself, wrote his "Coffee cantata" (BMV 211) somewhere in between 1732 and 1735 to the libretto written by Picander (Christian Friedrich Henrici). It premiered, fittingly, in Zimmermann's coffee house in Leipzig, Germany.

One should remember that the coffee craze that swept across Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries was not without controversy. In contrast to bars and beer halls where people drank themselves senseless, the coffee houses that opened in the cities all over Europe became places where people exchanged information, ideas and where political agendas and ideologies were born. I don't expect, however, the next revolution to be planned at Starbucks. ;)

The (not so) serious subject of Bach's "Coffee cantata" is about a father (Schlendrian) who, concerned for his daughter Liesgen's well-being, tries to get her give up her coffee drinking. She's not very willing though...

Be quiet, stop chattering,
and pay attention to what's taking place:
here comes Herr Schlendrian
with his daughter Liesgen;
he's growling like a honey bear.
Hear for yourselves, what she has done to him!


Don't one's children cause one
endless trials & tribulations!
What I say each day
to my daughter Liesgen
falls on stony ground.


You wicked child, you disobedient girl,
oh! when will I get my way;
give up coffee!


Father, don't be so severe!
If I can't drink
my small cup of coffee three times daily,
then in my torment I will shrivel up
like a piece of roast goat.


Mm! how sweet the coffee tastes,
more delicious than a thousand kisses,
mellower than muscatel wine.
Coffee, coffee I must have,
and if someone wishes to give me a treat,
ah, then pour me out some coffee!


If you don't give up drinking coffee
then you shan't go to any wedding feast,
nor go out walking.
oh! when will I get my way;
give up coffee!


Oh well!
Just leave me my coffee!


Now I've got the little minx!
I won't get you a whalebone skirt
in the latest fashion.


I can easily live with that.


You're not to stand at the window
and watch people pass by!


That as well, only I beg of you,
leave me my coffee!


Furthermore, you shan't be getting
any silver or gold ribbon
for your bonnet from me!

Liesgen :

Yes, yes! only leave me to my pleasure!


You disobedient Liesgen you,
so you go along with it all!


Hard-hearted girls
are not so easily won over.
Yet if one finds their weak spot,
ah! then one comes away successful.


Now take heed what your father says!


In everything but the coffee.


Well then, you'll have to resign yourself
to never taking a husband.


Oh yes! Father, a husband!


I swear it won't happen.


Until I can forgo coffee?
From now on, coffee, remain forever untouched!
Father, listen, I won't drink any


Then you shall have a husband at last!


Today even
dear father, see to it!
Oh, a husband!
Really, that suits me splendidly!
If it could only happen soon
that at last, before I go to bed,
instead of coffee
I were to get a proper lover!

Old Schlendrian goes off
to see if he can find a husband forthwith
for his daughter Liesgen;
but Liesgen secretly lets it be known:
no suitor is to come to my house
unless he promises me,
and it is also written into the marriage contract,
that I will be permitted
to make myself coffee whenever I want.

A cat won't stop from catching mice,
and maidens remain faithful to their coffee.
The mother holds her coffee dear,
the grandmother drank it also,
who can thus rebuke the daughters!

Listening to while posting: Brooklyn Funk Essentials - The revolution was postponed because of rain