I did sleep in this morning, on a Suss scale that is, and having breakfasted in a leisurely pace I headed out to GET THINGS DONE. Saturday morning in the center of the City is insufferable as it is so crowded, because for natural reasons it is the time of week where the shops are open and people have a chance to go.
So how to deal? I put my headphones in and listened to the latest episode of In our time and it was a good one, about Aphra Behn the restoration playwright and proto-feminist. I’ve been meaning to read her, and more importantly make her famous milk punch of which I have a recipe. Now that I know more about her I’m sure I will make a point of it.
I tried to listen to the podcast Lit up as so many of their episodes feature guests that I’m interested in, like Knausgaard and Ariel Levy, but I couldn’t stand the voice of the host. I’m very sorry but I’m particular about voices especially when they go straight into my ears. If you are not sensitive to that sort of thing and like contemporary fiction you might want to check it out.
Voices that I have no problem handling, even though they are talking about things that sometime fly over my head, are Lindsey Kelk and Harriet “difficult eyes” Hadfield and their beauty podcast Full coverage. I’m not that much into make-up (I think I’m more interested in skin care) but the banter of these ladies is very entertaining and there is enough talk about skin and popular culture to keep me happy. You can find both podcast where you usually find that sort of thing.
Running around I noticed that a new issue of The gentlewoman is here. It is one of my favorite magazines and I usually know it is coming and look forward to it like it’s a little Christmas. Completely passed me by this season ( I blame September).
Coming home I tried to bake which was a disaster, found an email from the library telling my I need to return Exist West by Mohsin Hamid very soon (so getting on that) and realized that I forgot to buy a frame (which was on the top of the list but still I managed to miss it).
So now I will try to recover my dignity by taking a nap on the sofa.
In my search for serenity one of the biggest distraction and time-thieves needed to be addressed; my phone and all that is in it. These are the seven steps I took in order to organize all the digital clutter.
- Make sure that pics from phone are on my computer. Then deleted a lot of them. I take photos of everything and the person how showed me how to screen grab back in the day did me a disservice. Not really obviously, but it adds up quickly. So there was a purge, a creation of specific albums for certain things (pic of the hoover, the coffee filter packaging etc. so I know what to buy as I cannot remember all the specifics and I need it on hand) or pics that I want to show certain friends. Things that I want to keep has been downloaded to a USB-stick and I will have them developed. I actually do this from time to time and enjoy putting them into my photo album on a rainy night.
- Un-subscribe. I went through my mail and un-subscribed to a lot of things, mostly companies and such. Less mail means less to manage. I wasn’t sure why I was on all those lists to begin with.
- Un-followed. I went through the accounts I follow on Instagram and removed a few. Mostly they are accounts that are not related to books, and a few rude people, so that when I go on there it’s a joy to see what people are reading and partaking in that discussion. I might seem harsh but most things I un-followed are big corporations or big accounts that I don’t interact with anyways. I won’t be missed is what I’m saying.
- Created folders for apps and made sure the desktop in my phone is functional and rather clean. I’ve hidden apps that I don’t use that often, I’ve deleted a few (must not have Tetris on my phone if I want to get anything done). Should have done this ages ago. I’ve also put the Mindfulness-app front and center.
- Made a choice regarding podcasts. I have subscribed to a lot of podcasts over the year but I realized that there are only a handful that I really listen to. The rest mostly give me a guilty conscience (because everything does). So I sorted that out.
- Changed the background picture on my phone. New season, new me. I want my mind-palace to look like the cosy library on photo*, not like an episode from “Hoarders”, and it’s on my phone now as a gentle reminder. That pic puts me in a good mood really.
- Bought a new case for it. My old one was knackered and so I decided my phone needed new clothes for the season. I does make it easier to find in my bag. I could also do with a new protective screen as the current one is getting frayed at the edges. Considering how I treat my phone (dropped on stone floors, being thrown in my bag, used with greasy fingers) those extra glasses that you put on really are a necessity. Best 200 SEK I’ve spent probably. It’s saved me from having to, at a very high price, change the screen on my Iphone several times (again, dropped it on stone floors more then once because clumsy AF).
* I don’t know who to credit with this photo, found it in my phone. Probably a screen grab that I’ve edited. Lovely library.
Slowly but surely I’m making my way through the list of museums in Stockholm that have free admission. And so the time has come to the one most out of the beaten path, The museum of Natural history.
I must have visited once at least with school, that is highly probable, but I have no memories of it. Maybe I was sick that day? It’s not exactly the kind of thing I would go for, or so I thought, so it has remained unvisited.
However, now that I know of it I might just go again because I’m enthralled by the collections of minerals. I came in through the big entrance and sort of made my way through the exhibitions. A lot of taxidermy going on and a few skeletons. Some very pedagogical displays of how neanderthals lived, about life in the oceans and a space devoted to the effects of environmental degradation. I saw school classes going through them, taking notes and their professors pointing out important things.
Meanwhile I sort of wandered off unto the far most corner and there they were; the collections of minerals. Some of them come from the time of the museums foundation and were displayed in old-fashioned cabinets. Many others had been placed in a more modern contraption that you could pull out so see the chunks of rock and get a little info about from where they came and so forth. And it was one of the most amazing things, I wanted to smash and grab many of them; they would make excellent jewelry. The combinations of colours that mother nature has produced, and the shapes and textures is truly amazing. The collection is vast and I looked at all of them I think. Some are even fluorescent! None of them could easily be photographed as they are encased in glass. Still tried though.
I get inspiration from the most unusual places, there is no getting around that. These pieces were like sculptures of modern art. In fact I think I’ve seen something like it that was art. Furthermore the combination of colors and textures makes me think in terms of clothes. Most things do in the end to be honest, although I haven’t figured out how I will go from this to something I can dress in.
A straighter line can be drawn between this collection of shells on a pale jade green background. I want it as a print by the yard that I can make into a summer dress.
All in all I had an excellent time at the museum, and the shop is good too. Maybe not the first stop if you’re a tourist and have no interest in this sort of thing but If you are in the neighbourhood maybe? (You should visit the botanical gardens first, they are on the other side of the road).
More information about the museum can be found here.
I visited the royal armoury the other day. Going to a museum in the middle of summer might seem counter intuitive, especially since I actually live in this city and don’t have to scurry through the sights in a weekend. Nevertheless during the middle of the day when the temperature reaches maximum, and the sun is doing it’s worst damage, it’s a good idea to sneak into a place that’s cool and keeps your skin safe from burn better than any SPF. The royal armoury is in the dungeons underneath the royal castle so a very good refuge in those regards, and great stuff to keep you entertained.
I have been to this place a few times in my life as old clothes, their colours, cuts and elaborate detailing is a contained source of inspiration. The clothes on show here are from the royal families through centuries. Not all of it obviously but a lot and some of the best stuff; ermine coats, dresses with lace to die for and coronation outfits that are a joy to behold. I feel now that I need some velvet breeches, I really do. I am no royalist, quite the opposite, but this is our heritage and I’m glad it’s on display.
And the carts and carriages? The historical equivalents of white extra long limousines are lined up and frankly? Rappers still have some way to go to impress me with their SUV:s having seen these. Why isn’t Kanye rolling up in a gold chaise with dragons? He is missing a great opportunity here. Having horses might be a bit of an obstacle I guess but since we have hit peak oil, fuel prices while only go up anyways, at some point horses will seem like a bargain. And given how badly public transport is in Stockholm I might need to get some myself. But I digress.
Given that there is free admission, loads to see, a very nice shop( don’t underestimate the importance of a good museum shop; they are a great place to buy gifts because you can get stuff that isn’t necessarily available anywhere else) and located in the middle of the city, there is no excuse not to go. They don’t have a café but plenty of places around so you will not die from lack of coffee.
The royal armoury
The brilliant podcast In our time is on a summer break. How rude. What am I supposed to listen then? How will any housework get done?
As can be expected with my somewhat terrier like personality I have since discovering that podcast listened through a sizable share of their archives. But maybe you haven’t and so you have that joy ahead of you.
They are all worth listening to, many bring up authors or discuss certain works in depth which makes the reading of them more informed. I probably would not have enjoyed or understood Beowulf as well without listening to that episode. Obviously Melvyn Bragg and his guests have made my TBR much longer but worth it. Some scrolling might be needed to find them, the podcast as such is found where you usually find them, it’s a BBC4 production.
These are seven of my favorite episodes in no particular order.
- Robinson Crusoe: I remember reading this books as a child but realize now that it must have been one of those child friendly versions. It was also interesting to hear of context and influences. I am considering a reread.
- Queen Zenobia: A warrior queen that challenged the Roman Empire. Why haven’t you heard that name before? As they conclude in the show; Shakespeare didn’t immortalize her in play that’s why. Fascinating stuff.
- The Talmud: My knowledge of judaism was much improved after listening to this episode and the history of The Talmud is layered. The making of the sacred text over a long time is also the history of the Jewish people.
- Bruegel’s The fight between Carnival and Lent: It’s a joy to listen to a discussion about this painting as the context is given and the details of it explained. And there is a lot going on. Having seen a Bruegel or two in my time I now appreciate them more.
- The Salem Witch Trials: I’ve read and listened to a fair few things on the topic of witches in my time. Maybe Roald Dahl’s Witches is to blame? Anyways this is a very informative episode.
- The Egyptian book of the dead: Having heard it mentioned many times in popular culture, the TV-series Penny Dreadful comes to mind, I hadn’t really understood what the book of the dead was. Now I know. And I’m forever wanting to learn more about ancient Egypt.
- The battle of Lincoln 1217: In this episode there is a mention, however brief, of a swashbuckling apostate monk by the name of Eustace. Truth is stranger then fiction.
Are there any podcast that you would like to recommend? My ears are open to suggestions as I will have to clean,iron and do dishes as usual during summer and I need something to entertain me when I do.
With in the span of about a week I went to the Nautical museum and the Museum of Ethnography. The are neighbors, I should have just done them in one fell swop. Although I didn’t have the time on my first visit and I did get some exercise walking there. There are a few more museums in the vicinity although not part of the “free admission”-decree so I won’t bother ( the museum of Sports anyone? If it’s not free I’m not touching that place with a stick).
This is a classic excursion for schools, I remember having been more then once during my school years and a few times after that too! They’ve had some really cool exhibitions like one about Voodoo that I much enjoyed. They also have some wonderful objects like fabrics and bowls in their collections and nowadays they are put on displace like a cabinet of curiosities. I can ogle for hours, almost pressing my face to the glass to get a good look at them, and they are impossible to photograph well with a phone.
As I understand it, this is now part of the permanent exhibit. Another thing that has been there for years is the Japanese tea pavilion. I think such a thing would make more sense at the museum of South-East Asian art but here it is. And lovely at that, placed in amongst the greenery creating a calm surrounding for it. I’ve menat for the longest time to visit and take part in the tea ceremonies that they host there but not yet. One day I’ll manage (however I have been a part of a tea ceremony but that was at the British museum).
And there are bits and bobs of other things, some Native American headdresses, a kimono or two, that sort of thing. It feels like the museum is in transition; from an old narrative of “we just view things” to a greater realisation that what you see depends on who you are. It must be a tricky path bringing collection like these into the future. I’m not expressing novel ideas here, I guess a fair amount of literature in the discipline of sociology is devoted to it.
The current temporary exhibit is one about values and norms, focusing on the LGBT community. It is directed, I would imagine, to school children and as that it is probably very good. A reasonable and pedagogical introduction to a topic that can be difficult to talk about. I had a look at it and then went back to drooling over luxurious fabrics.
The restaurant and the shop are both good.
And that’s that. I can tick it of my little list and move on. Not all museum visits are life-changing and not all blog-post are good. Done is better then perfect.
Things mentioned in this post;
The museum of Ethnography