Sunday, June 26, 2016

Midsummer Dreaming

of a place far away....

This time of the year I get terribly homesick for Sweden; for midsummer celebrations, for maypoles, for dancing on a dock on a pretty lake to accordions and fiddles playing Swedish music; for the light summer nights with the distinct sound of a cuckoo bird; for a time that was and no longer is for me. And may no longer be for Sweden either. Not the same way, because countries change too and much innocence has been lost..... 

Let me share some photos from Midsummer 2005 at my friends' country place outside Stockholm.

Can you imagine the sound of a meadow in early summer, the bees, the birdsong?

The guesthouse where I stayed. 

Wild strawberries grow by the guesthouse steps.

I thought I saw a bumble bee, maybe it flew away.

My friends' cottage is from the 1700s, a part of their grandparents' farm. This is a newer cottage built in the same style. And as you see everywhere in Sweden, painted Falu-red with white trim.

Middsummer night in Sweden. It may get a little darker than this in the Stockholm area, which lies too far south for the midnight sun. The older cottage is to the right.

As I stood under a birch tree and took this picture I had no idea I would like it so much. For me, it truly represents midsummer in Sweden.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

A Ranch Gate ~ Good Fences No.9

A picture from Twin Oaks, California taken last February when Mary and I were out looking for wildflowers. Not sure you can call that a good fence, but the gate is pretty cool.

Joining Tex for 
Good Fences

Monday, June 20, 2016

Wheezing And Sneezing Through My Front Yard

This is how tall the weeds were on May 15, right before the tractor guy came to mow. Then Tom came and weed-whacked under the junipers and other hard to reach places. 

Their hard work left stubble and dead weeds all over the place. Living in a wildfire danger zone, properties must be cleared to 100 ft away from structures by June 15. This year, properties will be inspected and owners not in compliance will be fined; $250 first, then more I guess. 

Both Tom and the tractor guy did such great jobs that I'm not worried about inspections. But I don't like the remnants of dead weeds covering the ground. Believe me, it really looks like the stuff could catch fire all by itself. 

So I've been dealing with them for the past couple of weeks. I wake up early, 4:30 or so, skip my wonderful long mornings in bed with breakfast, books, and crochet to get out early while it's still cold. At first I made the little haystacks, the mini ones you see above, then I sat on my chair and packed them into large plastic bags. 

That part was really hard because you get up real close to the stuff and it gets into everywhere, eyes, ears, boots, socks, underwear.....  Both Tom and the tractor guy used masks, but I can't stand them, so I was sneezing and wheezing my way through it all. 

Then Mary said, "why don't you just put a trash bag into a trash can and stick the weeds in that way?" It sure helps to have smart friends and since I began using that method I've made a lot of progress. 

Mary and I have gone to the dump together, using her truck. I have no idea how much we have dumped there. A lot! On Wednesday morning, I loaded another 20 plus large bags full of weeds and drove Old Betsy to the dump. The trip went well; one of the workers there jumped up on the truck-bed and helped me unload. I was so happy with Old Betsy, I hosed her off when we got home. She was really dirty, but now she's good to go again.

Then Thursday morning, I went down in the field below where the container and an old trailer are located and took care of the weeds you see above

California Quail on the march.

It's lovely to be up and outside early, the birds are busy raising their young, rabbits and baby ground squirrels scurry away when they see me, and the quail call their young ones to come and take cover under the junipers. 

I think the most important work has now been done. And I am tired, but a good tired. And getting stronger too. I'm really enjoying this hard work outside and will keep it up. There's a lot more to do, but now more time to rest as well. 

Back in May, inspired by Madsnapper Sandra and Jim in Nova Scotia, I played with pictures and had so much fun. I hope to get back to doing some more of it later. 

Finally, both Roland and D. G. wondered why Samson hasn't been blogging for so long. He will soon. Just before I read their comments I posted the header picture of him. He went to the groomers on Friday and came out gorgeous as always. He will have his teeth cleaned on the 22nd. I'm a little nervous, but it should be OK. 

Samson Says: Nervous? I'm the one who should be nervous. And I believe it when I see it. My blog post...... 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Critter On a Fence ~ Good Fences No.8

Hey, little critter on the fence, looking pretty good there. May I take your picture?

Critter said nothing, so I took that for a yes. Captured his image and my shadow too. 

This colorful fence is located at Murray Farms at the foot of the mountains. 

Where there are palm trees so tall I can barely photograph their tops together with the subject of my picture, the colorful fence.

Joining Tex for 
Good Fences

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Country Road ~ Good Fences No. 7

Joining Tex for 
Good Fences

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

My Ten Most Popular Posts - Why Did The Visitors Come?

In this photo from 2008, I'm holding Sydney, Rachael's bearded dragon lizard, so popular with my blog readers. 

 A recent post by my friend Roland Yeomans of Writing in The Crosshairs inspired me to pay some attention to my post headers, I quote: "One key to a popular blog is to be aware of what your reader base wants out of the Internet. People go to Google to find the answer to their problem. If you write the answer to their need, Google will direct them to your blog."

This was part of his advice for writers. Now I don't have any books to sell, but Roland made me curious to see what I had named my most successful Posts. Why would certain titles draw people by the thousands, while other posts, equally good, if not better, get less than 50 views? 

A ceremonial Viking-Age axehead ~ The god Thor's symbol was both a hammer and an axe.

I suspected that folks are drawn to other people's misfortunes, but maybe not. So I set out on a journey back to September 2009 when I started my blog. I was somewhat correct about misfortunes, but lizard, Dumb Swede, and a couple of California towns also drew a crowd.  

Trolls by Swedish artist John Bauer.

Two caveats: Of course the older posts will have had a chance to draw more visitors simply because they have been posted longer. And participating in the A to Z also gives an advantage. Swedish Rhapsody, my A to Z of 2012, where I wrote about Swedish customs, nature, cities, important people, and, yes, Dumb Swede, was my most successful A to Z to date.

Here are my 10 most popular Posts:

1. Cough, Ouch, Sigh - An Update (This, the title of my most popular post certainly indicates some distress.)

2.  Pogonip, Rain, Hail, Sleet, Snow, Wind, and Today - Brilliant Sunshine (Maybe this one hints at some distress as well, unless people just wondered what in the world is pogonip.)

3.  The Murals of Exeter

4.  T is for Tomtar och Troll (2012 A to Z)

5.  D is for Dumb Swede (2012 A to Z)

6.  Lizard Love or How Sydney Met Rachael. 

7.  Mojave - Small Town/Big Desert

8.  Q is for Quest - Eastward Of The Swedish Vikings (2012 A to Z)

9.  Sydney Goes To Malibu

10.  I Don't Know What to Call This Post - An Update, Perhaps - Or This and That From the Canyon

The murals of Exeter, CA are incredible. Go visit if  you're in the area.

My conclusions: 

The two most popular post titles included a little bit of misfortune, perhaps. 
Swedish Rhapsody of posts for the 2012 A to Z was a very good theme choice. 
A bearded lizard named Sydney attracted two of the ten most viewed posts. Go Sydney, I love you, and I always knew you had IT!
Two small California towns, Exeter and Mojave, drew a lot of readers, as I'm sure did the mention of Malibu in one of Sydney's post titles. 

Mojave, CA - There's more to it than just a two-traffic lights town. Civilian space flights are being developed here and a a large graveyard for old airplanes stretches out into the desert beyond. Huge windfarms and solar panels also eat up the surrounding desert. 

Would you like to read one or two of my most popular posts? Dumb Swede, perhaps? Let me know. I probably will repost Lizard Love since it's my favorite short essay on true love. 

After reading a few of your comments, I hope you all understand that I did this research just for fun, not because I wanted to validate my blog in any way.  Just thought it would be fun to see what attracted visitors. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sweden's National Day & Stockholm Pictures

Today is Sweden's National Day, or Day of the Swedish Flag. According to Wikipedia, this day celebrates the election of Gustav Vasa as King of Sweden in 1523 and the end of the Danish-ruled Kalmar Union. However, since June 6th was first celebrated at the Stockholm Olympics in 1916, many Swedes, including me, probably don't make the connection with our great King Gustav and the end of Danish rule in Sweden.

To honor my hometown, Stockholm, I thought today would be a good day to share some pictures from my last trip back in 2005. I've posted some of these before, but I'm sure no one remembers. I certainly don't.

The narrowest street in Old Town Stockholm.

Priest Street with a red bicycle ~ Old Town.

 Tetley Tea House ~ I spent many hours here, drank many cups of tea, met fascinating people from all over the world.  A long time ago.

The original city of Stockholm is built on 14 islands. A city surrounded by water, with a large number of green spaces makes for quite a lovely place to live. 

A June night in Stockholm with the tall tower of City Hall in center left, and the spires of the churches in Old Town to the right. This picture was taken around 10 p.m.

I was baptized in the church up on the cliffs, Katarina Church.

The Royal Palace.

The pink building is the Grand Hotel. The water here is very turbulent and fishermen use boats with large nets attached, like the one in the foreground.  The current is so strong, you may think it must be difficult to control the boat and catch fish at the same time, but these traditional boats have been around for a long, long time and are manned by skilled fishermen. And there's plenty of fish in the clean waters of mid-city Stockholm.

The rear of the Royal Opera House.

One of my favorite pictures from my visit in 2005. 

Modern transportation.

And the old fashioned kind. And there I am, 11 years ago now. 

Hope you enjoyed this smorgasbord of Stockholm pictures. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Lilacs ~ Good Fences No. 6

Follow the old picket fence down the road a bit,

and soon you will be greeted by 

the lovliest scent of spring........

Stay a while and enjoy.

Joining Tex for 
Good Fences


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