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zird is the word [userpic]
A DAY TO RELAX IN
It's another long weekend in the middle of the Swedish spring. We have a glut of them in April, May and June every year and then pretty much NOTHING until Christmas. This one is for Ascension Day, which is today. My company is great about holidays...we always get a half-day the day before and if the holiday falls on a Tuesday or a Thursday, we get the Monday or the Friday off as well. Next week is a regular 5-day work week but then we have another long weekend and a 3-day work week following. And then it's only 2 weeks until midsummer week where we get Friday off...but I have taken the whole week as we are going down to Germany to see my brother and his family.

And after THAT I have only 4 more work days before we leave for the US. It's incredible how fast time goes...I swear it was Christmas moments ago and we're already at the end of May. Geez louise! Or Chess Loo-esh as 2 of Martin's friends used to say when they were little and heard me speaking English.

I haven't done much of anything today except shower, read, run the kids to Sandby to catch the bus, stop at the grocery store and take a nap. And then pick up Martin again this evening.

Oh, and remove all the VHS tapes from the shelves and bag them up for recycling. End of an era, eh? I had said we wouldn't get rid of them until the VHS player died and it finally did. The only ones I have kept are from our wedding and Anders move to Chicago and one that has no label since I am not sure what it is and don't want to throw away something without checking. I also kept Anne of Green Gables, for sentimental reasons. Even if I can't watch it, I don't want to part with it yet. All the VHS tapes filled three large paper bags. And we've gotten rid of tons already in the past.

The thing is, I won't bother even replacing them with DVDs...we have a whole bookshelf full of DVDs and guess what? We almost never watch them either. Everything is Apple TV or streaming or Internet these days. The store chain here that used to rent and sell DVDs has gone over completely to candy and junk food snacks (and I won't be surprised if it goes completely out of business in the next year or so). We have a whole shelf full of CDs as well...another practically obsolete archive. The thing is, there is this little voice in the back of my head that says: don't get rid of them...what if the end times come and don't have Internet anymore? Then you'll still be able to watch the DVDs and listen to the CDs. But that little voice is stupid, because if the end times come, then we probably won't have ELECTRICITY either. Or running water. Or easy access to medicine. God, how depressing.

Anyway.

I sat on the porch for a long time this afternoon, reading, enjoying the warm day, eating a popsicle. I got up to take photos of the lilacs behind the garage which are all blooming beautifully purple, and I checked the cherry tree to make sure the birds haven't eaten all the pre-cherries yet. I bought the net to put on the tree but we haven't all 4 been home at the same time this week so it's not gotten up yet. I hope to do it tomorrow, otherwise the birds will get ahead of us and it won't be worth it. There are a ton of hard little green cherries starting, and I hope we can harvest some of them before we leave or after we get back! Mmmmm cherries!
 relaxed
mood: relaxed
music: none, just me


zird is the word [userpic]
UP/DOWN
Good things
Lilacs, pied wagtails, full-on spring, warm days, cool breezes, a long weekend right now and another one next weekend (!), Late Night talk show hosts that articulate everything I feel about my home country right now, singing Africa in choir

Not so good things
Pinched nerve, lack of motivation, mixed emotions that threaten to overwhelm me, not being able to sit at the computer without pain, unfriending people on Facebook because I just can't take it anymore, end of choir term and not knowing if our choir will continue in the fall

Looking forward to
Midsummer week in Germany, new potatoes, another Michigan summer, seeing my mom/sister/brother/relatives/nieces/nephews/in-laws/friends

Avoiding thinking about
Leaving Martin in Michigan, what my lack of motivation is really caused by, unhappiness, loneliness, anger, sadness

I am just a bundle of overwhelming idiocy right now and I'm well aware of it. Is this what a mid-life crisis feels like? SO CLICHE.
 tired
mood: tired
music: Toto—Africa


zird is the word [userpic]
THERE! THAT OUGHT TO HOLD YA
Gah. Time goes by too quickly. I think about writing all the time, but then I sit down to do something simple and my arm shoots pain and I give up and don't stay here long enough to write anything. I suspect this is what aging is going to be about for me: falling apart, pain and doctor appointments. And who wants to read about that? NOT ME.

Anyway, we bought our tickets to the US for the summer, or for at least 3 very expensive weeks of it. For Karin's and my round-trip tickets and Martin's 1-way ticket, it cost more than it cost all 4 of us to fly round-trip last year. I finally caved and bought even though I thought it was highway robbery because they just kept going up and I was starting to panic. We couldn't even fly into Detroit, which is only an hour from my mom's because it was DOUBLE the price. So we ended up with tickets to Toronto, which means my mom has to drive 3.5 hours to come get us, turn around and drive 3.5 more to take us home and then do the same damn thing again when Karin and I leave. URGH. But I am compensating by letting her have my firstborn for a month, so that's fair, right? :D

Martin received a scholarship for approximately 1/3 of the summer program cost, so he's officially doing that from July 9-29. The kids and I fly to the US (without Anders, BOO!) on June 30 so we have a little more than a week to get things taken care of before he starts. Karin and I leave again on July 24. Martin will be at my mom's until the International Student move-in date of August 20, which kicks off 2 weeks of orientations and actual classes start for him on September 5. We are also hoping that our good friends Kathey and Russell will be able to come see us while we are in Michigan! Yay!

Can you believe it? I cannot.

We have been working through a list of to-do items for him which include things like letting the Swedish government know he is moving abroad, booking doctor and dentist appointments for him, and investigating whether or not the Swedish health insurance will cover him during his college tenure... No. No, it will not. AUGH. I was SO hoping the Socialist healthcare system would step up, but no. And since I have been away from the US for so long, I have NO clue how healthcare works there anymore, so cue another minor panic. Then we found out that his school offers insurance (don't ask me if the price is competitive, I have no idea), so we have signed up for that, and they told us it was actually automatic for international students and already included in the price of tuition, etc., so that was at least not terrible news. But he still needed coverage for the month of July, so we have dealt with that now. Whew!

I also got my FBARs done and filed, which I was really considering not bothering with, because what are you doing for me these days, America? NOTHING, that's what.

The results of my MRI came and neither me, nor Anders, nor his pharmacist sister nor his (retired) nurse mother understood a word of what it said. I puzzled out that I don't have scoliosis, but that was about it. And I already KNEW that. I had to wait for the orthopedic doctor's referral again before I could get more treatments from the insurance company with the naprapath and that finally came TODAY, so I have an appointment tomorrow, hurray! My arm doesn't hurt as much, but it still hurts and it still goes numb and tingly whenever I sit, lean forward, sleep on my side or stomach or bend over from the waist. Fun!

We are really really hoping to be able to go down to Germany and spend Midsummer week with my brother, which will be Martin's last chance to see them for who knows how long, but we are waiting to find out if Anders' has a class to teach that week or not. He found out today that they have set the deadline for the customer to decide by Friday, so keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't happen so we can go. I will be very bummed out if we can't.

Martin and I binge-watched season 2 of Sense8 over the weekend and now I am feeling remorse. Binge-watching gives you instant gratification, but it means things are over so FAST...you don't have that long, lovely process of anticipation and agony that is so tortuous and satisfying at the same time. We ARE getting that with The Handmaid's Tale, though, which is really really good and really, really hard to watch, considering how close it all feels right now. I love Elizabeth Moss, but the guy playing Nick is just all wrong to me. He makes me miss Aidan Quinn. And we are waiting for the very last season of Orphan Black which starts June 10. And it won't be done before we are in the States, and then I will have lost my show-watching buddy. Wah!

There are too many things coming up to keep track of: two graduation parties, a 50-year party for one of Anders' old Scout friends, several doctor and dentist appointments, another 50-year lunch thing for an old colleague/boss from Ericsson, AWC lunches and meetings and events, choir practice and concerts, and what not. Whew!

And now I have that simple thing to do that I sat down at the computer for, before I started writing this, so toodle-oo!
busy
mood: busy
music: CeeLo Green—Satisfied


zird is the word [userpic]
THINGS I AM ALL ABOUT THIS LONG WEEKEND
Sneezing

Itchy eyes

Baby lilacs

Dandelions in the sun

Fat floofy full pots of pansies

Chilly clear blue skies

Bonfires!

Strawberry & rhubarb pie with whipped cream

Open windows

Blowing my nose a million times

Breezes, lots

Writing lists

Looking for motivation

Naps

Trying and failing to sleep in

Ouchy arm

FBARs

Pied Wagtails! SPRING IS HERE!
 calm
mood: calm
music: buzzy computer, kids watching YouTube


zird is the word [userpic]
HRM
I don't know what to write about. How lame. Ideas?
 guilty
mood: guilty


zird is the word [userpic]
SPRUNG!
Even my mom has mentioned how neglected my blog is. I know, I know!

I survived the MRI, but it was not a pleasant experience at all, and I have to wait a week for the results, to even know if they got good enough images to use or if they will want me to do it again (please no).

It's a extra-long Easter weekend, which is nice except for the fact that I am STILL sick (coughing mostly and snucky) and Anders is sick and Karin is sick. The kids and I actually colored eggs on Thursday, something I thought they would refuse to do, so I was happy, even though it took about 15 minutes, haha!

We had Anders' family over for Easter buffet last night and neither Anders nor I felt very well. I had some weirdness going on with feeling bloated and heartburny, and he was running a fever. Hard to be cheerful and hospitable but we made it through the evening at least. It snowed almost all day, believe it not. Huge fat white fluffy flakes which at least didn't stick. It was freezing cold as well. Today was better, mostly sunny and not SO cold, but it's still quite chilly for this time of year!

We both have tomorrow off, too, which is good...one more day to try to recover fully from these stupid non-ending colds. I feel like I haven't gotten a damn thing done in weeks due to not feeling up to anything strenuous. I haven't even clipped the roses down and I suspect it is probably too late now.

But the lilac bushes are all starting to bud, and the cherry tree is about to burst into bloom, and the hawthorn bush/tree in the back is a glorious splendor of popcorny white flowers. Yay for spring!
 blah
mood: blah
music: none, just me


zird is the word [userpic]
TWO BIG THINGS
I'm so out of the habit of writing I don't seem to know how to get started again. And I still can't sit down at the computer at home without my arm starting up. I've been super sick with a nasty head cold for over a week now. Had to reschedule my MRI from last week to next week, and if I'm still coughing by Tuesday will probably have to postpone it again.

Highlights of the past week, despite the unbelievable amount of mucus, include Anders coming home from South Africa to be surprised by A NEW BED! and Karin in one of the starring roles of her high school play!

You see, I half-assedly promised my husband a new bed over a year ago, for our 20th wedding anniversary. The issue has been that I LOVE our bed (MY bed, I should say) and he hates it. The reason I love it is because I found it at an antique store in Chicago when I lived alone and it's a beautiful black walnut head- and footboard. He hates it because it's an American double. It's TINY for two people but we managed just fine and I sort of had this "love me, love my bed" thing going on. But I admit, it's REALLY small. Plus it squeaks. But.

So a year ago, I promised him a new bed. But beds in Sweden are crazy insane expensive. A queen or king-sized bed here costs on average 20,000 kronor (2-3 thousand bucks give or take), and that doesn't include bed linens, which we would need all new since the ones for a double bed obviously won't work on anything bigger. And what with Martin's graduation and our tickets for the US trip last summer and all the birthdays and then Christmas, there was just no way. But I've had a bit of a guilty conscience about it all this time.

To top things off, the few times I looked, I didn't LIKE any of the beds available. Everything is so modern and ugly and boxy and fabric-covered headboards. Or no headboards. Or else blond wood, which doesn't match anything and isn't really my style at all. Anders left on a Saturday for South Africa and on Sunday I stopped by two of the bed/furniture stores in Lund just to get an idea of what was available and how much and had all my worst fears confirmed: ugly and super-expensive. SIGH.

The very next day, my friend Debbie forwarded me an email from a woman in the other international club who is moving back to the States in June and selling a pile of furniture, including a continental style king-size bed...for 1000 kronor. That's about $110. How could I NOT buy it? So I bought it. Even though it's got a fabric-covered headboard (dark grey) and is exactly the style I didn't really want. She bought it new 4 years ago and it was a guest room bed, barely used, and she said no one had even slept in it at all for the past 1.5 years.

So, despite the fact that I should have been IN BED, I spent the middle weekend of Anders' trip renting a trailer (which I've never done before), borrowing Debbie's husband, picking up the bed (with Martin's help, too) and getting it installed. Of course, this meant that the day before Martin and I had to take apart Karin's bed (which I finally managed to sell, thank goodness) and then take apart OUR bed and reinstall it in Karin's room, AND go to IKEA to buy some new linens, which I ended up being really happy with.

Anders worked for a week in South Africa and then took a 5-day hiking safari in Kruger National Park. He saw elephants, hippos, rhinos, lions, zebras, baboons and tons of other animals and had a fantastic time. But he certainly wasn't expecting to come home to a new bed! And one that was such a bargain! :D

On Friday, we went to see Karin perform in her high school's yearly play, one that the theater group wrote themselves. It's a thing here: all the big high schools put on musicals in which they have over 165 kids involved, all in different groups responsible for writing the script, the songs, taking care of sets, props, makeup, costumes, PR, etc, plus the actual dancers and actors. Karin had all last week off for rehearsals at Lunds City Theater and they had a smash success premiere on Thursday. We took Anders' mom and my friend Camilla and had dinner in Lund before the show. It was really great and Karin was a knock-out. She had one of the lead roles, and a romantic part and even sang a duet with the guy her character was in love with (not the one in the photo below). Well done! You can see more pics and videos on my Facebook page (thanks to Martin!). She had so much fun that she's considering being one of the theater group mentors for next year.



tired
mood: tired
music: none, just me


zird is the word [userpic]
THIS IS / THESE ARE
This is the post I haven't written. It's all the posts that went unwritten this past month, while I've been struggling with pain, tingling, numbness and frustration. This is the day when I sat down, despite the tingling arm and wrote anyway, because I need to, because I hate having gone so long without writing, for such a stupid reason. I've been to the naprapath 6 times. I've had several massages. I've been to the orthopedic doctor and next week I am scheduled for an MRI to see if it is a pinched nerve or if there have been any "discernable changes" to the discs of my neck and spine. This is me, hoping for the best, since the naprapath treatments ARE helping.

These are the photos I haven't taken: the rise of a hill against the evening sky and a sudden burst of wings above it. The road up the hill in the fog on the way to work in the mornings. The stork that walked very slowly away from us, around the edge of the swampy bit over by the school. The pure black clear night shining with stars. The shiny, oily, rainbow-slicked feathers of the rook's wing who was hanging out under our bird feeder recently. Multiple pictures of my kids, one of whom makes faces every time I try. The pots full of multi-colored pansies that I planted this past weekend. I'll get around to that one, eventually.

These are the phone calls I haven't made lately, for which I am sorry: My sister, whose daughter has been accepted to all three of her top choice universities. My mom, who is busier than I am and apparently never home. My brother, who was traveling on his birthday (though I did talk to his wife). My best and oldest friend, whom I miss entirely too much and who I think about much more often than she might guess.

These are the events I haven't recorded for posterity, because I haven't written, because time goes by whether you are paying attention or not: Our annual pie night, with fewer people and pies than usual, but the ones that were there were delicious and my fruit pizza is always so good, if I do say so myself! A lovely evening with my two best friends here in Sweden, at which I cooked a fantastic dinner of 20-clove garlic chicken and served brownie pie with fresh strawberries for dessert. A concert I sang in for Earth Hour in Eslöv, after which I came home with 15 minutes still to spare in the hour and driving through Flyinge realized that no one had turned off their lights at all...not even my own kids, who had completely forgotten.

This is the apology I haven't made out loud to someone who probably won't read this: I'm sorry. I'll try to be better and not so selfish. I'll try to say this out loud to you soon, because you deserve to hear it from me.

These are the things I'm avoiding thinking about: paying for plane tickets to the US. Leaving Martin in the US. Not seeing Martin for...who knows how long. Months? A year? ... sigh. Shopping for a new bed, though I actually DID go to two furniture stores last weekend to start getting some idea of what's available and how much it will potentially cost (too much). The actual MRI, because the nurse who scheduled it asked me if I suffered from claustrophobia (yes, under certain circumstances) which kind of freaked me out about it.

This is the rest of what I wanted to say, though I can't guarantee it was worth waiting this long for: It's officially spring, though it's been rainy all this week and we lost an hour last weekend which still seems to be giving me sleep issues. Work is still insanely busy. I can't even with the daily circus of news from the country that my firstborn is going to be living in soon. Anders is in South Africa for work, for a week and a half, which includes a 4-night safari hike in Kruger National Park and then gone again for a weekend hike with friends right after he gets back. Karin is studying to take the Swedish equivalent of the SAT this weekend, and next weekend is premiering as one of the leads in her high school play. Martin is tutoring sporadically, and is in the process of applying to be a substitute at the village elementary school for the rest of the school year. He's still waiting to hear from the other 2 universities he applied to, and waiting to hear if he'll receive any scholarship funds for the summer program he's signed up for. The day after tomorrow is my last Friday off this month, as well as my sister's birthday. I plan to spend it doing the most relaxing, self-indulgent things I can think of (sleeping in, reading the stash of new magazines I just bought, sitting in the sunshine if there is any) and making that overdue phone call.

This is me, otherwise, the same as before.
 contemplative
mood: contemplative
music: Dido—I'm No Angel


zird is the word [userpic]
NOTHING NEW
Still having pain and tingling in my arm, shoulder and hand. Been to the naprapat once, going again for two more treatments, this week and next.

Still waiting to hear from the FAFSA, and the other two colleges that Martin has applied to.

Still having anxiety attacks about money, especially since we paid Martin's housing deposit and first housing down payment this weekend. Cashectomy, indeed! OUCH.

Still enduring winter: snow last week, now rain rain rain

Still crazy at work, though we are managing to keep up by the skin of our teeth. However, found out today that I have five 5-year-rollover vacation days that I have to take before April 1st. And just missed sportlov...figures! So, I'm probably going to be taking every Friday in March off. It's a hard knock life.

Still working on never-ending weight loss and healthy eating. Still getting back to walking. Still waking with headaches. Still reading and obsessing over art on Instagram. Still keeping the house clean and the laundry done.

Carry on.
 calm
mood: calm
music: does the tingling in my arm count?


zird is the word [userpic]
AND SO I WAKE IN THE MORNING AND I STEP OUTSIDE
My daughter just commented on the fact that the very nice, expensive, wide (genuine) leather belt that she appropriated from me is a "really good child-beater belt".

For the record, she has never been beaten with a belt or anything else. Tempting. But no.

So many things that I mean to write about, to remember to write about, to record for your amusement and for posterity*, and yet, the time goes and there is another huge hole in the calendar of my journal. I have a package to mail. I have a letter to respond to. I have pants to get hemmed. I have floors to mop. Blog posts, inevitably, seem to get shoved to the back of the to-do list.

Plus, I hate mopping.

Besides, not much has really changed since my last post: arm/shoulder still hurting, work still insanely busy, weather still sucky, money-panicking still actual.

Martin and I have been watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is by turns hilarious and eye-poppingly inappropriate. It's like a bunch of improv artists took the cardinal rule of improv (say yes, then roll with it) and dialed it up to 100.

I woke at 4 am with a shattering headache in the middle of the week (a quite common occurrence), got up, took meds, drank water, and went back to bed, where I lay with my arm & shoulder aching, trying not to toss and turn, and my mind racing into a full blown anxiety attack about money. We did some recalculations and realized that our estimate on college expenses was off by rather a significant amount, and it's really closer to $54,000 per year, NOT INCLUDING spending money and daily necessities, that Martin will need. His scholarship from the school is a minor dent in that. Thankfully, we received the answer from CSN, the Swedish agency that deals with student financial aid yesterday and it's relieved my mind a great deal. His costs will be mostly, if not entirely covered. Most of it is loans, which comes to a shocking amount, but some of it is subsidies from the Swedish government that don't have to be paid back. We are still waiting to hear from the FAFSA (US government financial aid) and I hope some of that will be grants/subsidies as well...the more the better, please!

I'm still a bit in denial about the fact that he'll be leaving so soon. He is planning to sign up for a summer program for international students that gives credits, and it starts July 9, which is much earlier than I had been mentally preparing myself for him to be gone. And earlier than we were expecting to have to figure out plane tickets to the US again. EEK. Karin wants a trip to the States for her 18th birthday, but has to be home by the end of July for the Emmaboda music festival she has tickets for.

The entire family, all four of us, are going to see La La Land together tonight. Unheard of! Most of the time, Martin and Karin have seen everything worth seeing before we get around to realizing it's in the theaters, and it's rare that there are films that half of us, much less ALL of us want to see. Serendipitous!

I have been trying to wean myself off the insanity happening in the US government, but still find myself checking CNN and various other news sources each day to keep up on what is happening. There is a women's group here working on ways to fight back but I find myself keeping my distance, and am honestly not sure why. It all makes me so incredibly sad. How on earth we could swing so far so fast to this extreme is mind-boggling.

Anyway, the temperatures are rising, the amount of sunshine is increasing, and there are good things to look forward to. What more can I ask for?

*Which I wrote first as prosperity and then spent an inordinate amount of time staring at, knowing it was wrong, but unable to come up with the correct word.
 busy
mood: busy
music: Jess Penner—Don't Come Over


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I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

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Layout thanks to dandelion.
Findus the cat as used in my user icon and header is the creation of Sven Nordqvist.