Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moving to Wordpress


Beginning today, August 26, 2014, I have begun blogging at Wordpress. The reason for this is that I have been hearing from some of my email subscribers that Feedburner has not been sending them email notifications of new blog posts, like it's supposed to.

I have tried to troubleshoot this problem, unsuccessfully. Google searches for advice or fixes has indicated that this is a fruitless endeavor.

So, going forward, my blog can be found at laurelsstudio.wordpress.com.

I hope you will subscribe at the new blog page, and continue to follow me.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Impressions of Sweden: Odds and Ends



Every day at noon at the Royal Palace, there is the changing of the guard. Twice we had the opportunity to see this. The first time was when we disembarked from the boat tour we took our first day in Stockholm; actually, we missed the first part of the parade and only saw the marching band. The second time, just as we were leaving after the Royal Palace tour, we caught it from the beginning.

On the inner courtyard of the palace, it gets quite crowded from all the people (tourists) crowding in to see, hear, and get pictures/take videos.

First comes a standard bearer and then the guards.

Next come two guards on horseback. At the end of the video, you can hear the clip-clop of the horses' hooves.

Last comes the marching band.




Swedish geese
Swedish gull
Swedish crow
Växjö, Sunday lunch. The people at the table next to us hadn't been gone a minute before this bird swooped in.




On our tour of the Småland countryside, there was a multitude of these little butterflies. Usually, butterflies won't land anywhere long enough to get a picture, much less being so obliging as to land on someone's hand.



Things we saw on the river tour of Stockholm.




Duck boat

Wooden boats



I bought my daughter an "I [heart] Stockholm" sweatshirt. We saw magnets and mugs, but we already have plenty of those, and just didn't see the point of buying something just for the sake of a souvenir.

The one thing that I did purchase was this butterknife that I saw in the gift shop at the Nordiska Museet. The little moose motif appealed to me.

I had previously seen a similar silhouette in the artwork of a postcard for sale at the information desk in the Central Station when we inquired about where to buy our Stockholm cards. I had thought I would like to go back later and get one, but then I never did.

As you can see, it's already been put to use, hence the darker stained wood where it's been in the butter.


After leaving Stockholm, my sister and brother-in-law spent a couple days in Copenhagen. While there, they visited the National Museum of Denmark. Whereas the Swedish National Museum, judging from its website, appears to be an art museum, the Danish one focuses on Danish history — more akin to the Swedish Historiska Museet.

At the Danish museum, this display case full of lurs caught my sister's eye.

Here is what they sound like.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Museums, part 3a: The ABBA Museum

[My husband, Tim, felt that the ABBA Museum deserved a post of its own. Herewith, is a guest post.]
If you visit Seattle, take the underground tour, visit Smith Tower, take a Duck Tour, go to the Market. If you come on a weekday, go to the Starbucks on the 40th floor of Columbia Tower.
And if you visit Stockholm, see the ABBA Museum, an experience the likes of which you will never have outside of Sweden. 
Mamma Mia! The ABBA Museum was bright and noisy — from the ticket line at the beginning, down into the Waterloo Eurovision exhibit:

Right through to Jim Henson’s Creature Shop’s Muppets appearing in The Last Video:

They had lots of ABBA costumes and an exhibit about costumes — and the costumes were pretty wacky. They had a room full of gold records - and gold cassette tapes, if you can believe that.
Shiny things everywhere!
I did learn a few things, though.
For instance, all the members of ABBA were established pop stars when the group formed. They all had professional gigs and some recording contracts before they started performing together.
They were doing music videos (then called “promotional films”) long before they became hip - and even required - in the late 1970s.
There was an exhibit about ABBA’s recording studio and how they worked together, trying out different lines and tunes and finding things that work as songs. Apparently, the order of battle is that the male members of the group wrote the songs and the girls did the singing - and the girls’ voices were instruments of music, like other instruments.
Which brings up an interesting point — do pop songs need to make sense?
“Dancing Queen” would never have been written by an American pop band (or British, I suspect). Teenage girls do not refer to themselves as “Queens,” you do not look for a place that “plays the rock music”, and what you’re doing is not “jive.”

Or take my get-drunk-and-fix-your-resume-song, “Super Trouper.” Nobody would say “super trouper.” I don’t know why. They just wouldn’t. And being bummed out that you’re on a concert tour where everybody screams and adores you — that is so far beyond being a First World Problem (FWP) that words fail me.

Nevertheless, I guarantee you, play this song on a loop and drink some red wine, and you’ll be ready for a new job.
But never mind — the ABBA museum has music and gold records and lots of other shiny things and it’s fun and you should go! Yes, YOU— because, dig it — you’re the DANCING QUEEN (oh yeah!)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Impressions of Sweden: Musems, part 3

After our visit to Växjö, Tim and I took the train back to Stockholm for the last 2-1/2 days of our trip to Sweden.

Feeling more familiar with where things were and how to get there, we purchased two Stockholm cards, each good for 48 hours from the time of activation. I had already made a list of various museums that we might go to, and the number of metro trips we might be taking. We decided it was worth the investment, and this did prove to be true — even more so than I anticipated. In addition to giving us free admission to enough museums to make it worth the price, we ended up using it more than planned for public transportation.

The cards were activated with our first T-bana ride to Södermalm at about 2:30 pm, to the room we'd reserved.

If we thought the first hotel room was small, this one was even smaller.

Calling it a "hotel" is being generous. I'd describe it more as a low-budget hostel. But it was perfectly adequate for the two nights we were there. All we really needed was a place to sleep.

After checking in, we backtracked to Gamla Stan to go to the Royal Armory. This turned out to have a greater variety of exhibits than I would have guessed. In addition to arms and weapons, it included carriages, clothes, and various information about Swedish royalty and history.

After dinner, we went to Fotografiska, a photography museum. The main exhibit there was one we had seen featured in many posters around Stockholm, "Genesis" by Sebastião Salgado. His photographs were stunning and amazing — and numerous. As I mentioned in a previous post, Swedish museums seem to like to make their exhibits exhaustively inclusive — which can make them somewhat exhausting to view.

 The next day, Tuesday, July 8, we visited the Nordic Museum, the Abba Museum, the Outdoor History Museum, and the Modern Art Museum.

At the Nordic Museum, there were — once again — many, many exhibits with many, many things to see — clothes, home furnishings, textiles, an exhibit about the Sami (formerly known as the Lapps) to list but four. Museum fatigue, indeed.

The Nordic Museum

Statue of Gustav Vasa in main hall at Nordic Museum
The ceiling of the main hall
The floor of the main hall
There was an English translation, something along the lines of "Why are you not on Facebook?"
I believe we ate lunch at the museum cafe, to re-fortify ourselves before heading to our next destination, the ABBA museum, which was a good respite from all the high-minded, public museums.

Being a privately-owned museum, admission was not included as part of the Stockholm Card, nor was photography allowed inside. Good, kitschy fun, nonetheless.

Next, we briefly visited the Outdoor History Museum, but were less than impressed. It was also a rather warm afternoon to being walking around a lot outside.

Last for the day, the Modern Art Museum, featuring an exhibit of painting by Nils Dardel. Many paintings, interesting to look at, but the class I took in modern art, I still haven't really developed a liking for much of it.

The next day, Wednesday, July 9, we had until 2:00 or so before our Stockholm cards expired. Before even checking out of our "hotel," we took our suitcases to the Central Station and stowed them in lockers. Then back to Södermalm to check out.

Our first stop of the day was to the Sky View, something Tim had found. Think the Space Needle, but round.

Starting up
The other "car" coming down
Passing in the middle
The view from the top of the world's largest spherical building.
Heading back down
Then back to Gamla Stan to tour the Royal Palace (former royal residence, now used only on formal state occasions), the Treasury (crown jewels), and the Tre Kronor (what's left of the original castle, located underground). You would think there is a connection between the name of the castle and the fact that the official emblem of Sweden is three crowns, but it seems to be coincidental.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Impressions of Sweden: Driving Around Småland

A major reason for our trip to Sweden was to visit Småland, the area in southern Sweden where my dad's forebears came from.

On Friday, July 4, Tim and I took the train to Växjö (pronounced — approximately — "Vex-yuh"). My sister and brother-in-law rented a car and drove down, and in the afternoon we met up at the hotel where we were staying.

Before leaving Stockholm, Palma had purchased a couple of maps of the area, ostensibly showing how to get to some of the places we hoped to find. Referring to the maps, we plotted the route we would take on Saturday's quest.

The first destination was a dot on the map called Kålltorp, where our great-grandmother Emma Sophia Sjöstrand was born. Finding it was definitely an adventure.

Our search took us down unpaved roads where you really hoped you would not meet someone going the opposite way. Actually, to call them "roads" is being generous. They had obviously seen vehicle traffic, because there were bare tracks, but in the middle was some very tall grass. The first such path we went down, Dave (who was driving) eventually parked the car and we proceeded on foot.

After walking along this path for some time, we finally determined that we weren't going to find what we were looking for. Along the way, we did see some evidence of previous human habitation, such a pair of stones that looked like they had once marked the entrance to somebody's property, and an old rock wall.

It was a relief to get back in the car. In addition to being quite warm, there were an astounding number of really buzzy insects that I was constantly swatting away from my face and head.

After returning to the paved road, we followed it a ways and then turned off again onto another dirt track. Driving along, we encountered another car going the opposite direction. Fortunately, we met at one of the very few spots wide enough for each to pull over.

Everyone got out. The other car's occupants were an elderly couple who spoke virtually no English. Somehow, with our limited grasp of Swedish, we managed to communicate well enough to establish that we were headed in the right direction. To the best of our determination, the lady we were talking with belonged to a family who now owned the house at Kålltorp that we were looking for. Her family had bought it several decades earlier from another family who had bought it from our great-grandmother's family.

In keeping with Sweden's liberal attitude regarding public access rights, she had no problem with us driving on to find it.

Next, we went looking for a place called Östrahult, where our great-great-grandmother had lived. This search also took us down some side roads, but proved to be less difficult to find than the house at Kålltorp.

The sign is hard to read, but it spells out Östrahult in script-y capital letters.

Driving on, we saw an old outbuilding . . .

. . . a better maintained barn. . .

. . . and a house.

In the yard, there were two men working. We approached them, and explained why we were there and what we were looking for. The two were father and son, and this house and property had been in their family for since the 1600s or so. And they are descendants of the brother of our great-great-grandmother. (Joakim is my fourth cousin once removed.)

Palma showed them the photocopied sheet of the ancestor chart I had sent her, and as soon as they saw the name "Johanna Sofia Petersdotter," the younger fellow, Joakim, went inside and retrieved some pages from his genealogy that listed the same name.

He said that they knew that at least one or two of Johanna's children had emigrated to the US, but they had lost track of that line of the family. We talked a bit, and exchanged email addresses.

Since returning, I have emailed Joakim what information I have about Johanna's daughter (Emma Sophia, my great-grandmother) and Emma's children. In return, he sent me the .ged file of his family tree. I was able to find a demo version of a program called Mac Family Tree which would open it. I was so enthralled with all the information it contained and all the ways to view it that I went ahead and purchased the full version, and have begun to add to the database information from my mom's genealogical research.

After leaving Östrahult, we visited churches at Mörlunda and Tveta, other places associated with ancestors, but the big discoveries of the day were behind us.

At the cemetery around the Mörlunda church, there were gravestones for some Sjöstrands, who could be distant relatives, but I don't know for sure.

The church at Tveta had a unique belfrey.

We saw a sign for Tigerstad, where great-grandfather Jonas Peter Peterson was born.

By this time, we were about done in, and decided it was time to head back to the comfort of the hotel in Växjö.