Summer vacation 2014

I’m officially on summer break right now.
We get 4 weeks off work every summer, and right now I’m on my first week. The next 3 weeks will be spent visiting parents and just enjoying the freedom. (Especially the freedom of getting to stay up at night and sleep in the morning!)

I tend to hibernate in the summer and will probably not be blogging until work starts again, so if you want to know what I’m up to I suggest following me on Twitter or Instagram.

Have a nice summer!
Eat lots of ice cream and remember to wear sunscreen!
:D

Lakeside

Yeah, it looks nice, but the water was bloody freezing!

7 kinds of flowers – a summer spell

Wood cranesbill (Geranium sylvaticum)

Wood cranesbill (Geranium sylvaticum) or as we call them; Midsummer flower

This past Friday we celebrated Midsummer’s Eve here. In these modern times it’s mostly an excuse to eat good food, drink ridiculous amounts of alcohol, and shamelessly flirt (or more…) with everyone that comes near. It’s a holiday celebrating life, love, and the sweet return of summer.

According to old folklore though, the Midsummer night is a night of magic.

The sun is at it’s highest and the forests and fields are bursting with new life, the powers of nature are never as strong as they are now. There are many spells and rituals suitable to perform on that night, and a good many of them have to do with finding out who your true love will be.

Of course, most people don’t really believe in magic, but it’s still considered a cute tradition, especially among young girls.

Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)

Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)

Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)

Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)

White clover (Trifolium repens)

White clover (Trifolium repens)

 

The most common “spell” is the one about putting flowers under your pillow. I’ve heard many different versions, but this is the one I was told as a child:

  • Find a crossroads where 7 different kinds of flowers grow.
  • Pick one of each flower and bind them together with a ribbon.
  • Put the little bouquet under your pillow, and once you fall asleep you will dream about your future spouse.

I tried it a couple of times myself when I was little, but I never dreamt about anyone as far as I can remember. Maybe because I usually cheated with the crossroads thing, it’s more difficult than it sounds to find one with exactly 7 kinds of flowers. :P
(FYI, the flowers in this post did not all grow at the same spot.)

Do you have any similar “future love rituals” where you come from?

Arctic starflower (Trientalis europaea)

Arctic starflower (Trientalis europaea). My favourite flower in the whole world.

Summer flowers

Don’t know the species of this one…

May lily (Maianthemum bifolium)

May lily (Maianthemum bifolium)

 

Learning history through music

Very recently, Sabaton came out with a new album. For the uninitiated, they are a metal band that writes songs mainly about military history and war. I’ve spent the past week listening through their new album Heroes (Which is awesome! Search for it on Spotify and Youtube) and realised something:

I’ve learned more about WWI and WWII through their music than I ever learned in school.

We can all agree history is an important subject. Knowing your past brings explanation and understanding on why certain things are the way they are, and knowing what did and didn’t work in the past can give us guidance how to deal with current problems.
Still, I admit I spent many history lessons yawning and doodling in my notebook rather than listening to the teacher. Adolescent me just found it boooooooooring. :zzz:

Today, 15 years later, I listen to To Hell and Back and find the song beautiful and intriguing. I can’t help but wonder who this Audie Murphy is, so I google his name and find several articles about his unbelievable life. 30 min later I’m still reading.

Basically, one song just made me spend 30 min, of my spare time no less, reading about World War II.
My poor old history teacher never accomplished anything even close to that.

Similarly, in school I never managed to memorize the date of D-Day, when the Allied forced landed in Normandie, but thanks to a few lines from Primo Victoria I will remember it forever:

Through the gates of hell
As we make our way to heaven
Through the Nazi lines
Primo victoria

On the 6th of June
On the shores of western Europe
1944
D-day upon us

Singing about history (i.e. mostly war) seem to be very popular in the metal genre. Iron Maiden has made quite a few historic songs, Iced Earth as well, Nile make songs about ancient Egypt etc.

Since music is often easier to memorize than just plain text or the spoken word, maybe they should start bringing these songs into the classrooms? I know I would’ve been a very attentive student if my teachers had played me some Sabaton in class! :rock:

Do you enjoy that type of songs? Can you recommend other bands/artists that writes about real life history?
(Doesn’t have to be metal either, I don’t mind broadening my horizons.)

Fairytale book survey

Sometimes you don’t have anything worthwhile to post, so instead you do a silly survey. :) This one was found at Utterly Bookish.

Part 1: Classic Princesses

Pinocchio — The boy whose nose grows when he lies.
Is there a book you lie about, because you feel ashamed for liking it?

Sometimes I’m a bit ashamed to admit I really like shallow chick lit á la Jane Green and Sophie Kinsella. Which is actually pretty stupid. People shouldn’t be ashamed of what they like. Not everything has to be of Nobel price standard, humans need simple and effortless entertainment too.

Beauty and the Beast — The girl who fell in love with personality.
Which book do you love that has a hideous cover?

My Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy collection. It looks so cheap, and old. Looking at it, nobody could guess it contains 900 pages of pure gold.

Liftarens Guide till Galaxen

Snow White — Hunted down for her beauty.
Do you ever buy a book based on the cover alone and if so, what is the last one?

Of course the eyes wanders first to the nice looking books when walking through libraries and stores. Herrarna i Skogen (The Lords in the Forest) by Kerstin Ekman is a book I picked up mainly because of its prettiness. It’s all medieval and embellished, even the inside of the cover!

Herrarna i Skogen
Herrarna i Skogen insida

Sleeping Beauty — Cursed to sleep, awakened by true love’s kiss.
What is your favourite book couple?

Oh, I don’t know if I have one… Despite reading chick lit I’m actually not very romantic. Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy are the first that springs to mind, so I say them.

Little Mermaid — Gave up on her old life for love.
Do you ever branch out to new genres or do you like to stick with the ones you know and love? If you try new things out, what is the latest book?

I’m really bad at branching out. I’m not a fan of crime novels, so I never pay them any attention, regardless of how good the reviews are. I’m not much of a biography fan either, so I tend to walk past that section without even looking. Although I did like I Am Ozzy, an Ozzy Osbourne biography which I got for my birthday last year.

Cinderella — Who lost her shoe after midnight.
What is the last book that made you stay up all night?

A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin. I’m in the middle of reading the Game of Thrones series for the first time, and I’m starting to realize there is no way I’ll make it out of this with my heart still in one piece… :cry:

Rapunzel — Locked up in a tower.
What is the worst book you’ve read recently?

Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding. I love Bridget Jones, and was so excited to read the new and last book in the series, but sadly it fell flat. Bridget was still Bridget, but the story wasn’t nearly as funny as the previous books, and none of the love stories felt believable. Mostly it just felt sad and lonely, which I wasn’t expecting at all. :(

Part 2: Mix-Match

Aladdin — The poor boy who found a genie.
What is the latest book treasure/gem you found?

Last time I went to a flea market I found a book about John Bauer! He was a Swedish illustrator, famous for his eerie and enchanting fairy tale depictions, and one of my all-time favourite illustrators! Now I don’t have to google every time I want to look at his amazing drawings.

John Bauer
John Bauer

Alice in Wonderland — The girl who fell through a rabbit’s hole.
Which book made you really feel like you landed in another world?

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. As a child, I loved the movie (who didn’t have a little crush on Atreyu?) but the book is a bloody masterpiece. Only a few chapters in it takes real effort to step back into reality. The world of Fantasia will grip you and swallow you whole.

East of the Sun and West of the Moon — Where a girl embarks on a journey to save her love.
What is one of your favourite kick-ass heroines?

Éowyn from The Lord of the Rings has been a favourite of mine since childhood. “No living man am I!” gives me the chills every time.

Eowyn quote

The Frog Prince — Where an enchanted prince becomes human again.
What is a book you thought you would hate, but ended up loving?

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I don’t know, it just didn’t sound like a story that would appeal to me. Seemed kinda pretentious and dusty from the description, but it was actually very gripping.

Hansel and Gretel — Left alone in the woods and captured by a witch.
Which duo (sister/sister, brother/sister) is your favourite and why?

Am I too cliché if I say Fred and George from the Harry Potter series?

Little Red Riding Hood — Almost eaten by a wolf dressed as her grandmother.
What book disappointed you after falling in love with the cover and blurb?

Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz. Loved the title and the description, but only found it ok-ish. I guess I expected more of a horror story, or at least something more… spooky. Might give it another try sometime as I still have the book in my bookshelf.

Rumpelstiltskin — Nobody knows his name.
Which book do you love that doesn’t get enough attention?

I started to write an answer and then realized those particular books haven’t been translated to English, so it’s kinda pointless telling you about them.

Just for the record: I was going to say Sagan om Valhalla by Johanne Hildebrandt, a series of three books titled Freja, Idun, and Saga. The story takes places in bronze age Scandinavia, and the characters are based on the Nordic gods/goddesses but rewritten as ordinary humans. I found the series very interesting, pity they haven’t been spread outside Scandinavia.

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