Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stamp of the Day: Toad

There has been a lot of talk about frogs here, but who cares about the toads? I would like to know what a natterjack is....

seen in the neighborhood yesterday

Seen about one kilometer from our house yesterday morning - a black bear. Photo by an unknown neighbor. There are more bear facts here. We don't see them often in the Sourlands, maybe once every few years. But they are becoming more common in New Jersey.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

more rock hard legs

EH's post below reminded me of these hard legs made out of marble, not concrete. Marble is as hard as concrete, but somehow word feels softer, why is that? The photo is from a statue at Duke Gardens (link here):


Concrete legs- a bad thing

This is a Concrete Sculpture by Diane Cochran.
It illustrates the feeling I have today, my legs are heavy and "made of concrete". Every step is heavy and hurts. My condition is unexplained still, but is called FMS, Fibromyalgia Syndrom. The researchers don´t have the explanation of this disease yet.
I hope they will find the cure some day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Absinthe and coincidence

A while ago I got a very interesting book from BOS and Dad in Sweden (thanks!), Fru Blomqvists matbok ('Mrs. Blomqvist's food book', not available in translation), and I recently picked it up and started to read it. It starts with the entry Absint ('absinthe'), and this is the first sentence in the whole book:

Den 17 maj år 1896 uppsöker August Strindberg sin vanliga plats på terrassen till Brasserie des Lilas bakom marskalken Neys staty for att inta sin klockan sex-absint.

(appr. "On the 17th of May year 1896, August Strindberg is visiting his usual place on the terrace of Brasserie des Lilas behind marshal Ney's statue to drink his six PM absinthe. ")

In his bok Inferno, Strindberg describes how sad he gets when his usual table and seat is taken on May 17, so he has to visit another cafe. Strindberg is one of the big classic authors in Sweden, on par with Balzac and Tolstoj, but in Swedish. He isn't one of my favorite authors, but someone you hear about a lot in school.

If you have followed the blog last week you know that May 17 is my birthday (happenstance# 1). The night before my birthday our good friend BV brought over some newly released absinte (called Lucid, must be a sarcastic name and do check out the eyes on the bottle) for us to taste (happenstance #2). I have read a lot about absinthe and its herbal origin Artemisia absinthium, but I had never tasted it before. Absinthe has been illegal for decades in the US, but recently has been allowed to be sold again. You are supposed to drink it by holding a holy (with holes) spoon with a sugar cube over a glass - pour on the absinthe (62% alcohol), and then water so the sugar dissolves. We didn't have spoon or sugar cube, so we mixed it with water only. It turns milky, just like ouzo. I have had Swedish akvavit made with Artemisia before (malörtsbrännvin), but this is quite different. Not at all as bitter, more like anise or licorice or fennel, three plant species that have nothing to do with Artemisia. I really liked it, but I question its authenticity - how close is this really to the original sipped in Paris in 1896? With sugar I think it would have turned into a really girly drink, and very easy to drink too much of. Thanks BV for the taste, it was very interesting!

Bad Aftonbladet Day, again...

”Det var en perfekt cirkel om såg ut som månen. Men den finns inte där”
Om man säger ordet 'om' så ser man ut som en måne också.

Och dagens roligaste rubrik: "Amerikan och korean rostar mest i Sverige" {translation - An American and Korean rusts the most in Sweden}

Subway still life

A photo I took a few months ago in New York City. I like how it came out with the pillars framing the people, like cages or a film strip.

subway still life

Happy Birthday, Bob!

There is only one like him, and he is 68 today!

Dylan Portrait by Britt Irick (worth seeing!)
And check out Britt's other art too, here.

Of all the songs he has written, here are a few selected lines from Every Grain of Sand:

"I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me.
I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand."

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Garden report from New Jersey

Our garden is flowering now, in gorgeous colors. Certain plants are still left alone by the deers, such as the irises.

Here is one of our deer-safe spots - about 15 square meters of the perennial border fenced in so they can't get the dogwood, magnolia, monkshood (Aconitum), sunflowers, and some of the other plants. We will see how it works, and if we in August have gorgeous flowers inside the fence and just bitten off stumps outside of it.

Our Japanese lilac is flowering like there is no end to it, and the deer leave it alone. THe scent is heavenly at night. The regular lilacs went crazy with the late April heat wave and are all gone already.

Remnants of oyster dinner on our steps. One day I will figure out what to do with all oyster shells I am saving.

Bad Aftonbladet Day 2

"”Det där med en kyrka för alla låter först kankse inte så dumt, men är man inte beredd att ta konsekvenserna är det bara tomma ord”"

'Kanske' är kanske ett svårt ord?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Series: Bad Aftonbladet Day - BAD

I have to admit to a not-so-secret secret: I am an avid web reader of the evening newspaper Aftonbladet online, mainly because they have the best and fastest Swedish news on their award-winning website ( Unfortunately it is mixed in with lots of not so newsworthy noise from the entertainment area, diet frenzies, sports, and advertisement, and is therefore considered a less than great newspaper by my Swedish relatives (' en ren blaska'). It is the most read newspaper in Sweden (2.3 million online readers per day). In Sweden, it is the most visited website after MSN. Which leads me to my pet peeve...

One thing that drives me crazy is the lack of proofreading in this paper, and especially the lack of spell and grammar check on the main home page. Therefore, with glee, and with absolutely no empathy for summer substitutes without a degree from journalism school that will be in charge in a few weeks on AB, I will start posting some of the typos, grammar issues, and simply hilarious sentences you can find at this newspaper. It will be in Swedish, not much to do about that.

"Palentologen om världshysterin kring Ida" Vad hände med det tredje o:et i Paleontologen? Dog det ut? (link) {haha, while I was writing this, they corrected it!}

"EU-valskolan del 4 – de de har störst makt i EU" De de? Stammande journalist?

Sedan har de en del som bara är roligt eller konstigt:
Möt mystiska korvmän. [= Meet strange sausage men]
Fick ett ägg upptryckt i ansiktet - 18 personer omhändertagna

Frogs- an endangered group of animals

I´ve been reading up on Swedish frogs, and are alerted by the fact that many of the frog species are endangered. According to a report from the Swedish Environmental Goverment at least one third of the frog species (6000 in total) in the world are endangered because their habitats are destroyed.
Take care of the frogs!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Report from Frogtown, Wickecheoke, and Ship Inn

My birthday was spent by visiting old and new places in New Jersey, this state of the union (USA) that shows the most amazing diversity from the armpit-like areas around the abandoned landfills near Newark Airport to virgin forests and singing Baltimore orioles in pristine landscapes. The motto of the state is 'Shore to please', I think, but that only goes for some areas, like these ones we saw this Sunday. Wickecheoke Creek Preserve is a long, very narrow nature preserve in Hunterdon County, which runs along, you guessed it - Wickecheoke Creek. It is an Indian name, and it probably means something interesting that I don't know (yet). We saw a pickerel frog here (thanks to PJM for the ID), with leopard-like spots on its back. Poison ivy was rampant, but so were also blue birds, a merganser, and many spring flowers. We will be coming back here.

Lunch was spent in the wonderful little town of Milford on the Delaware River, and its very English pub Ship Inn. We ordered fish and chips of course, which came with the standard very mayoish tartar sauce (unhealthy and delicious) and smashed green peas. PP had a locally made beer (Ship Inn is a brewery), and I had hard cider - extremely good. After lunch and the obligatory ohs and ahs over 5 tiny ducklings swimming after their mallard mom (sorry, no pic), we headed for Frogtown, a place that we had passed several times on rubber wheels but never walked a step in.
Frogtown (aka Frenchtown - note to Frenchtown webmaster: you are two months late with updates), has the feel of a small Lambertville (another town more to the south in the Delaware river valley). Here you see old-fashioned history in a little town along the Delaware river, bending and buckling wooden houses that have been flooded many times over their lifetime, as well as more sturdy brick structures. Crazy house colors, and some abandoned areas, and mixed in with this, the new age opportunists (at least two Yoga salons) and ex-New Yorker's stores and galleries with expensive, unneeded things, old or new. We did see some cool things, but we didn't buy anything except for a coffee at Bridge Cafe in the old train station, and some candy at Minette's Candies (licorice!). The galleries had mostly very expensive, garish things, that looked like they werefor sale for rich people, not the locals (unless the locals are rich, which happens often in Hunterdon county). Not much was in my taste, except for a few paintings and a glass art object with japanese koi fishes. In one photo gallery we were met by Yubba the Hat (he had a cowboy hat on) and you could pick up a pamphlet on Famous Quotes about Gun Ownership (I did, will be sent to OK for philosophical analysis). Scary stuff.

The antique store was trying to sell not so old junk for many dollars and the cutest thing in there was the two real dogs. Oh, I forgot - in the interior design gallery they sold framed pressed plants for $200 each. The plants were part of a Swedish herbarium, with all labels in Swedish ("växtsläkte", etc.), and looked like a school project by a 15-year old from the 1950s, which is most likely was. The paper was brown, the plants were brown, it was just ugly. And $200! It was reduced with 50% to $100, so maybe some other people realized it was overkill too. Maybe I need to go and make some fake antique herbarium collections so I can earn some more money?

But despite all this, Frogtown was really nice. They have an inn that serves lunch and dinner near the river, and as long as you don't visit when the Delaware is swelling, you will not get wet.

When we came home I made a birthday tart of rhubarb and almond paste. It was a recipe from Rosendal's cafe in Stockholm, from a cookbook my mom gave us. Delicious!!!! Thanks mom!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Birthday flowers for the botanist

May is a wonderful month here in Sweden and we have long bright days that starts in the morning at 4 o´clock and ends in the evening at 9.30. The day starts and ends with a blackbird singing, and the one who is my neighbour is a fantastic singer. At night, it´s never really dark.
This flower is called "Night and Day" in swedish, and the picture is from and old book called "Nordens flora", printed 1901-1905 and now publiced on the Runeberg project.
Happy birthday dear sister!
(I know it was yesterday but I was kayaking then, and then I forgot to blog in the evening).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

May, may, may

Rarely has a month come so fast and the days are disappearing like melting butter. It has been slow here on the blog due to lots of work at work. But don't despair! Here are some tidbits and news to report.

Fantastic store in Stockholm with homemade signs. (Sorry, in Swedish, but you can look at the picture if you don't know the language)

making tiles - remove form
A photo from the Moravian Tile and Pottery Works, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, a fantastic place my mom and I visited for the first time last month. More photos here.

Now I am going to go out and fight the weeds in the garden and plant my tomato and chili pepper plants. The nasty groundhog hasn't shown his face yet this spring, so maybe he succumbed over the winter. If so, good! We have tree swallows nesting on our property for the first time ever, wonderful.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Samorost- a point and click game with fantastic miniature world

I haven´t been blogging for some time, but I´m still here.
I want to spread the fantastic art and fantasy game Samorost. It´s a free point and click Flash player game where you have to solve small problems to get to the next picture and problem. Try it, you won´t regret it. There is also a Samorost 2 if you get caught.
Have fun!