Here’s to free time


Sometimes I think I should bag this whole blogging bit for the remainder of the year–try it again next year.

But then I’d miss you.

So it is I rarely pop in and am woefully inept at answering comments.

But I’m determined this too shall pass. Things are already looking up. Why, just this weekend I’m facing three whole days free of work and pressing deadlines. Dare I say it? I may have time to catch up on a few things.

Also, be it known: September 6 (that’s Sunday, in case you’ve lost track) is Read a Book Day. No, I did not make that up–though I probably would have if it were not already so.

Needless to say, I intend to celebrate to the fullest by reading every chance I get; of course, it will be interspersed with the likes of watching balloons rise, playing in the dirt, hanging out with friends. Who knows, I may even take in a movie. What would that be like? I cannot possibly know.


Whatever your plans, I hope they’re all your own . . .


And I quote

In other words


And I quote

In other words



From what I understand, the illustration is by Gordon Robinson, from a 1916 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The image, it seems, is in public domain; however, I can’t seem to find info on Gordon Robinson . . . which kind of makes me sad. 


A shot of happy


On the longest leg of our trip to Sweden, not long after we ascended to cruising altitude, the seatbelt sign was turned off, and we were free to roam about the cabin, the stewardess made a beeline to someone in the row directly behind us.

A few minutes later I leaned over to my mom and whispered, “Well, that was terribly kind.”

“What was terribly kind; . . . wait a minute, are you doing it again?”

By “doing it again” she obviously meant listening in to the conversation of strangers, which, by the way, was not the point. The point being: the stewardess headed directly to a particular young fellow on her passenger list to thank him for the box of chocolates he brought the crew.

“So, do you work for the chocolate company?” she asked.

“Oh, no,” he said. “Those chocolates were just a way to thank you for all that you do. I know it can’t be easy, and sometimes you have to deal with a lot—so I just wanted you to know we appreciate it.”

And that, my friends, is when our poor stewardess lost all control. She gushed to the point of embarrassment, and I cannot mock her, given I suffer from the same malady in the face of unexpected kindness.

Of course it’s all (except maybe for the listening in bit) a good reminder that it’s more than bumper sticker fodder: offering a small act of kindness truly can lighten someone’s load.

So here’s to us—and finding ways to surprise those around us with an unexpected dose of ‘happy.’


PS–you may recall, I was planning to give away a ‘souvenir.’ Specifically, Fika: The art of the Swedish coffee break, with pastries, breads, and other treats by Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall. Since I had some spending money left over, and I’m ever so grateful for my faithful readers, I decided I would not spread the word about the giveaway. Then, if I had 5 comments or less, everyone would be a winner.

Guess what? My evil plan worked.

So Rooth, Jana, Kristi, Mrs. Smythe, and Amy Beth, please email your addresses to amosjo73{at}hotmail{dot}com . . . and get ready to fika!


Sweden’s Manchester

In eastern Sweden you’ll find a city called Norrkoping. You’ll not find it in most travel brochures of the country, though maybe you should.

What makes it so great, you ask? Well, it’s something of an underdog for one—and you know how I love a good underdog story . . .

Norrkoping got its start in the middle ages, though happening across an exact date seems to be iffy. There is  mention of a twelfth century church in the area; but the city is not listed by name until the latter part of the thirteenth century.

Unfortunately, nothing remains of the city from its earliest beginnings. Thanks to various battles and the Northern Seven Years’ War (1563-1570), the entire southern part of Norrkoping burnt to the ground.

The city rebuilt itself as hub for the weapons and textile industries (which used the falls and rapids to power their mills). It grew and flourished to become Sweden’s second largest city.

Then there was the fire of 1655 . . . and the Great Northern War, wherein the city once again found itself little more than ash.

But once again it rebuilt itself—this time focusing on sugar and snuff.

Unfortunately (I hate to even say it), there were fires. That’s right, plural—one in 1822 and one in 1826.

Did they give up, call it quits, and otherwise throw in the towel? Nope. They banned wooden houses and set out to excel in the ship industry. Their perseverance paid off. They grew to become Sweden’s largest ship industry. Their cotton refinery and paper mill continued to grow as well; so much so that by the 1930s it was known as “Sweden’s Manchester.”

Of course, things once again began to decline mid-twentieth century. Factory after factory began shutting down, letting their employees go. In 1970, the Holmen paper mill—the one that had been there for over three centuries—closed it’s doors.

And so it was, Norrkoping began to reinvent itself once again.

Today it’s a center for learning, creative businesses, and culture.

It’s a lovely walk from the train station to the center of town, one that includes a stroll through Karl Johans park. If you were following Instagram while we were gone, you saw the fountain we walked past, on our way through (a fountain that happened to be filled with suds on that particular day) . . .


The park also includes a cactus display. But its no ordinary gathering of cacti; no, every year they replant as a new work of art. This year, if you looked high above, you could see images from the animal park (your tour guide did not get a photo; I’m a failure; profuse apologies).

Since we were only there for a couple days (actually, a day and a half, if you’d care to be specific), we focused on ‘The Industrial Landscape;’ which includes Knappingsborg—a charming district of wee shops and cafes . . .

IMG_1619Not far from Knappingsborg we found a statue of the Dutch financier Louis de Geer. He now stands where the medieval village once stood . . .

A short walk from de Geer is the Holmentornet (The Holmen Tower), which stands on the site of the first Holmen paper mill . . .

We stepped through that walkway and entered a time when Norrkoping boasted a vibrant textile industry . . .

We spent time at the waterfall at the Cotton Mill, listening to the rush of waters that have powered the city for centuries . . .

IMG_1622We explored the NASA exhibit, Arbetets museum (or The Museum of Work), and the Norrkoping City Museum. We had some good times at Arbetets, which included a lot of laughter and a tasty lunch in their café. But our absolute favorite was the Norrkoping City Museum . . .

IMG_16982Housed in the old textile and dying mill, it offers floor upon floor of days gone by, with a focus on the textile era.

We spent the rest of our stay sharing meals, Fika, and meandering about with our friends (my brother’s sister- and brother-in-law—our own private tour guides), learning of the city’s history, watching the yellow trams go by, and soaking in the parks and architecture . . .

093Needless to say, if ever given the chance, we will definitely go back. You might consider doing the same.