Saturday, April 28, 2012

Congratulations! Five years ago.... the day, this blog was born.  Thanks for hanging out here now and then, and reading our thoughts, looking at our photos, and thinking about stuff with us.  Like today, five years ago it was a very green, springy day and that was reflected in the first blog post, reposted below. 

Wow, första posten/first post!  
Don't worry, not everything will be written in two languages, and posts and comments in either Swedish or English are fine.
Today is a beautiful day here in New Jersey, flowers everywhere, spring has sprung!
Or as the Swedish poet Gustaf Fröding said:

Ett grönt blad på marken

Grönt! Gott,
friskt, skönt vått!
Rik luft, mark!
Ljuvt stark,
rik saft,
stor kraft!
Friskt skönt

A green leaf on the ground
Green! Good,
Fresh, nice wet!
Rich air, land!
Deliciously strong,
rich sap,
big power!
Fresh nice,

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just a bunch of flowers from our garden

Isn't it amazing that a simple bunch of whatever is in bloom can be so interesting and beautiful? Here are: forget-me-not (förgätmigej), yellow rocket (Barbarea), yellow onion flower (lök), buttercup (smörblomma), Dicentra (löjtnantshjärta), swiss chard (mangold), Iberis, honesty (Lunaria, månviol)...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Philatelic blast from the past: Polish steam

I found these in my old stamp collection.  Steam locomotives on Polish stamps.  PP, can you help out with the ID? British engines?  The top one seem to have a horizonal cylinder with a very strange gear work.

A strange fate for an author?

I always wonder what the Swedish authors think that see their unsold hardcover books being bought in bulk by IKEA to populate their showcase interiors at IKEA stores worldwide. This photo is from Baltimore, and here they are, Swedish editions and duplicates of Inger Alfven's books, foot after foot of shelf space. Sometimes the books they display are quite good and interesting, and maybe they just put a foreign language out there so nobody will steal them since they are useless to someone that doesn't know Swedish? Does this mean that they have books in Tamil on their bookshelves at IKEA stores in Sweden? I don't know... But, does Inger Alfven know that her books are on hundreds of IKEA bookshelves in USA, and what do you think she thinks about that?

One of my favorite flowers...

In English this is called Johnny Jump Up or Heartsease, while the Swedish name translates into 'Step Mother's Violet'. I love this one, and here it has self-seeded among the herb planters at Griggstown Quail Farm in New Jersey.

if the trains come...

Yell-low line, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.
... then you have to yell before you become low on the track - look here to get it...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

44 - the magic number

44 - the magic number, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

This is the best number in the world. It is certainly special.

Fantastic artist.... Anu Tuominen

Anu Tuominen is a Finnish contemporary artist that uses everyday objects, often colorful ones, to create new assemblages, memories, and meaning.  She collects things from fleamarkets, often things that we consider useless now or just old and worthless, and put them together into new combinations. Anu also knits and crochets from colorful yarn as part of her art.

I saw her exhibit at the Nordic Watercolor Museum in Sweden and loved, loved, loved it.  To take worn, worthless things, from school project crocheted potholders, short, blunt pencils, old soapholders, and kitchen and tools from previous years and then make it into something more, that is something.

You look at her art and think - "WOW, that is so innovative.  So simple, why didn't I think about that.  Oh, look at how those colors are put together, look, look!"  It is innovative, simple, elegant and basic at the same time. When you see her art you are transported back in time to earlier years, back into memory lane and you think about all those worn erasers you dug into with your pencil because you were bored, the red and blue correction pencils the teachers had, and how the boys hated learning how to crochet in home economics class.  And then they gave their flawed potholder to their grandmother, and now it might be hanging on an wall as an art installation in Sweden.  And so on, and on...

Anu has a fantastic website with much better photos than I took, so go there for more beauty and thinking.  here below are some of the things we saw and loved in Sweden. Thanks, Anu!

'Early Morning by the Sea' [Tidig morgon vid havet]
'Early Morning by the Sea' [Tidig morgon vid havet]. Old soap holders (plastic boxes) with worn Arctic Sea stones inside them... so beautiful.  I think she noted that this art project was started 10 years ago or so, when she started to collect the soap holders.

'Grass' [gräs]
'Grass' [gräs]. The grass is greener in the drawer. Plastic combs as grass in a drawer, making hard things into soft plants, of course!

'Mrs Albers Color Mixtures' [Fru Albers Färgmix]
'Mrs Albers Color Mixtures' [Fru Albers Färgmix]. All of these knitted squares are made from 3 colors, red, yellow, and blue, but they are still resulting in different colors - innovative, random and still so predictive.

'Walk-in Wardrobe' [Klädrum] 
 'Walk-in Wardrobe' [Klädrum]. I remember my grandmother had fancy handpainted hangers, some green and some red. I wonder where they are now. They would have fit right into this rainbow.

You wonder how she starts an art project and how it looks like in her studio... Boxes upon boxes of things, of course...

'Real colour circles' [äkta färgcirklar]
'Real colour circles' [äkta färgcirklar]. And here are the potholders. I stared at this for 10 minutes straight I am sure. Lovely, lovely, and it makes you reevaluate some of the old things that are hiding in drawers at home for sure.

Matchbox label of the day: Cherry blossoms

On the spring theme; a matchbox label from Japan with cherry blossoms! LS have found her stamps, I have my matchbox labels in my storage. What were you collecting as a kid? Or now? I still have all my grandma´s buttons too. It´s a bit like a candybox to me! Or all the embroidery threads....mmm.

Spring has sprung- Swedish edition

Svalört och blåstjärna.

The spring is here, again, after a 10 cm snow blanket has melted away. It came as a surprise on friday night, melted during saturday and sunday. On monday the sun was shining again, and the flowers were blooming happily!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Old stamps

When I recently was back in Sweden, I picked up my old stamp collection, which also includes stamps collected by my grandfathers and my uncle.  For decades these have been laying in a box, unseen, and now they are back in the light, here in NJ.  Here is just a little preview of some Swedish stamps that were laying loose in one of many envelopes. 

And a closeup, a stamp of J O Wallin - no idea who that was, I have to find out, but it looks like he had something to do with psalms in the church.

Included in the collection are many stamps from the 30s and 40s, such as German stamps with Hitler.  They are not worth much, apparently Hitler swamped the country with images of himself.  But among the thousands of stamps from all over the world that now are in my possession again, I am sure there will be some interesting ones to feature here on the blog.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

OK snapshot: Roadtrip 100 years ago

This article is featured in The Swedish Tourist Association's (STF's) 1912 book:

Two Days in An Automobil, on the old royal highway Stockholm-southwards, by Gunnar Anderson.

He describes a roadtrip starting on June 20 (1912, presumably), with not the best weather, "close doors and security hooks, put on rainhats and raincapes, because it is only +9 degrees C, and now we will speed off".

Maybe someone can identify the car on the photo?

{from a book found at a fleamarket in Stockholm}

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sun, sky, and sea in Sweden

The weather here in Sweden has been fantastic - clear blue early spring skies with not a drop of water from above.  Frost in the grass in the mornings, and then up to 8 degrees C (about 14 degrees F or so).  Yesterday we went to the small coastal town of Skarhamn, which is home to the Nordic Watercolor Museum, built right on the sea.

Nordic Watercolor Museum

The deck on the outside of the museum is gorgeous, and no railing anywhere.  This is not an American place.  If kids fall in the water, then it is the kids and the parents fault for not taking care, not the museum's fault.  I think that is very sensible...  People should be responsible for their actions (and their kids), and not blame 'the devil and his aunt' (that is a Swedish expression, quite good, it means you blame anybody else but you).

pink granite cliffs with lichens at the sea
The rocks here are of warm pink granite, shaped by the ice age into round forms. Lichens are everywhere and of many shapes and colors.

art studios for rent
You can rent these studios to live and paint in, as a little art colony. 

looking down into the shallow sea water (with sunlight)
The sea water is incredibly clear - this is looking down from the deck straight into the water.  The white is the sunlight on the water surface.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Gothenburg's Horticultural Society - an oasis in a city

In the middle of the Swedish city of Göteborg (Gothenburg) is a park owned and managed by the old Horticultural Society (Trädgårdsföreningen - look, they got all the umlaut vowels into that word!).  It has a large rose garden, a little charming cafe, lawns and old trees as well as an old Victorian conservatory.  We spent some time here last weekend, enjoying the spring sun and outside temperatures only a handful above freezing.

telegraph pole trees (spaljerad)

Trees formed like American telegraph poles is a very western European thing.  I think these might be beeches.  In the background is the cafe building.

spaced succulents

Succulents are awaiting warmer weather in their sandboxes in one of the transplant houses. I liked the organized way they were planted. Doesn't it remind you of an army on a square someplace?

The cafe is in the old wagon barn, tall ceilings, old brick floor, and very vintage furniture.  Creaky chairs! 

capuccino and flourless chocolate cake

The cappucino and the flourless chocolate cake with real whipped cream was great.  MiracleWhip and other synthetic white frostings don't exist in Sweden, so real food rules.

Camelia (kamelia), Theaceae

In the greenhouse is one room all filled with camelias, wonderfully scented even if a bit overpowering if they flower all at the same time. There were bumblebees in here too, which must live in the greenhouse.


The aquatic greenhouse is gorgeous.  An old square pond in the center, hanging tropical pitcher plants above and ferocious snakehead fishes in the water below.  There are warning signs not to put your fingers in the water or you will get bitten.  I was surprised they had put in snakehead fishes since they are invasive and horrible, but apparently they were there to eat the cichlids that were eating the waterlily leaves.  Oh, all the tings we do to control nature!

floating Salvinia (vattenväxt)
Some floating aquatic plants, mostly water lettuce (Pistia).