Every year it's the same and yet I still boggle at how the time goes. It's nearly the end of May. The lilacs are in full bloom but soon they'll be over...the lupines are on the way now, and the roses. We have tiny, hard, green cherries on the tree but I can't decide whether it's worth it to put net on, since we'll be gone all of July and that's when they'll be ripe. Might as well feast the birds one year, eh?
The honeysuckles are just starting as well and my clematis is vining its way up the trellis. The pansies are still hanging in there, but since it was warm today and will be again tomorrow, though the weather this week is supposed to be a bit up and down. It's a crazy busy week, ramping up into party time. We're counting down at 2.5 weeks to graduation. Tomorrow is the RSVP date, and we have 4 families unaccounted for. So far, we're at 41 people.
This week I have 2 choir concerts (last singing for the term, boo!) and a work summer party. Next week, the last AWC meeting of the season, a friend's 50th birthday party that I'm helping to organize at work, and the final prep for the graduation party. Anders and his sister are going to Germany on the 31st to buy the booze, and I have to let the caterers and restaurant know the final headcount. Then we have our 20th wedding anniversary! Though we haven't planned anything for the actual day, since Martin has his prom that evening. We have reservations at a new swanky restaurant in Flyinge for the 4th.
I'm sad about choir ending, even though we won't be here in July anyway, but they told us today we have a concert scheduled right away at the beginning of next term so they will set up some practices in late August to get us back into sync.
I sent out the invitation for our family bash while we are in Michigan, to the entire extended family clan. We have a memorial planned for my Uncle Sam on Friday, July 22, the big party on the 23 and a birthday lunch for my grandma on the 24. And my Aunt Joanne (my Uncle Sam's sambo) has done the NICEST thing and offered us the use of his car while we are in the States! SO KIND!! That means we don't have to spend more money on plane tickets or car rentals and since we needed the car for the month (we're too many people for only 2 cars), it's absolutely PERFECT. I am thrilled and really happy about it. It's a weight off my mind that we don't have the added expense of the plane tickets right now, when we have so many other big expenses. YAY!!
Martin just told me the Game of Thrones episode that we would normally have to watch tomorrow (the one that is airing tonight in the US) was accidentally released early so I'm outta here!
FULL OF FLOWERS
It's been so beautiful here, sunny, warm and blue skies, a bit of a breeze (it is Skåne, after all), birdsong and bee buzz, and still chilly in the evenings so you know you will sleep well. It's spring in all the best senses of the word. I was going to go take photos of the dandelion hill earlier this week but I was too late and they've all blown to seed now. The rapeseed fields are glowing neon yellow and the lilacs...the lilacs are here!
Unfortunately, these are not OUR lilacs. These are the lilacs I WANTED. When we bought 6 lilac bushes from the plant nursery last year to plant behind the garage, we were assured by both the tags and the staff that they would bloom the lavender color version. But they are all the dark purple ones instead. Which I like, just not as much as the lighter purple variation. *sigh*
The columbine under the kitchen window is going gangbusters this year. It's a stray that seeded itself and I love it so I haven't bothered to pull it up even though it's getting too large to comfortably share the bed with the hostas. We'll have to move it after it's done blooming, though I'm not sure at the moment where to put it.
Martin and I went for a walk this afternoon and I admired all the flowers and blossoms that were everywhere. All the trees and bushes are decked out in flowery beauty; yellow forsythias, white spirea, purple lilacs, pink cherry trees, white hawthorn, and the big white balls of guelder roses (viburnum). Most of the tulips are still standing tall, though they are starting to be past their best-by date.
My potted pansies are still doing well, since the temperatures haven't gotten too warm yet...won't be too long though. I wonder if I'll have to repot everything before Martin's graduation party! I love their pretty little flowers faces and the rainbow of colors.
During our walk we passed a garden that had lily of the valley growing in a shady spot under a tree. I've always wanted to have lily of the valley in my garden/yard but we don't have any really good protected place for them. Maybe once the hedges get a bit higher. I love them, they're one of my favorite flowers.
Yesterday was Friday the 13th and it was the end of a very long and stressful week at work. I think it was extra tough since it followed a short week and a long weekend, but there was also a lot of stuff going on that was a bit hard to deal with: I wish people would get their shit together and check their stuff before they submit their requests. I felt like I was having to re-do things over and over and fix mistakes that were not caught before sending to me...things like being given incorrect links for newsletter articles and incorrect measurements for print ads. Basic stuff.
I woke Friday morning at 5 a.m. with another horrible headache (it's happening a bit too often these days) and after getting up and taking meds and trying to go back to sleep without success, I headed into the office where I was faced with yet another issue that should have been caught before coming to me, and I nearly lost it. I was so frustrated and angry that I nearly burst into tears and I think I horrified one of my office/teammates. I backed out of our team breakfast because I didn't want to be around anyone just then. Later, another colleague brought me a bouquet of flowers to cheer me up since she'd heard at the breakfast that I was having a bad day and I nearly burst into tears again. We went out and sat in the sunshine for lunch and I felt much better by the time the day, and the week, was over.
So, now I am full of flowers both inside and outside, and I've been super-productive all day today, in between breaks for reading and playing games. Anders is making pasta with crayfish tails and garlic sauce for dinner. We're all set to watch the Eurovision song contest final tonight; we're rooting for Belgium, which is a perfect replication of sweet-faced Seventies-style disco pop (though I like Bulgaria's song, too). None of the other Scandinavian countries made it to the final and we can't vote for Sweden, so...
And tomorrow, no plans again! Yay! I might get started on my FBARs and I need to hang the shower curtain liners I bought last week, but maybe I'll just go out again and enjoy the flowers since the weather is supposed to take a turn for the not-so-springy.
I have rubbed my eyes so much and so hard in the last week that I'm seriously starting to wonder if I could damage my eyes (yes) or have permanent bloodshottiness (probably). I just googled the dangers of rubbing your eyes and scared myself silly. Stupid allergies. I am taking medicine and liberally dousing my eyes with Visine and yet: OH GOD THE ITCHING. IT ITCHES. AAAAAAAA!!!!
It's so bad that there is literally only about an hour or so that I have mascara or make-up on before I arrive at work. By lunch it's all gone even though I refrain from rubbing my eyes at work, because AAAAAAAAA!!! It's torture. Then I spend the rest of the work day looking swollen and teary and haggard. Nice!
Martin has taken 11 of his 15 exams. He's finished 4 subjects. Martin says he wants to die a little bit less for every test he takes.
Pfft. What a baby.
It's been a gorgeous week but I've been so busy at work that I haven't been enjoying much of it (what I can see of it through my red, irritated eyeballs). Haven't made it out for a walk at lunch except once. Haven't made it out for a walk after work except once...once I came home and promptly fell asleep for 2 hours and once I worked until 5:30 and then came home and did stuff around the house until I sat down to write this post. What am I complaining about? It's only Wednesday! But geez freaking louise this week feels long.
We watched the first Eurovision semi-final last night and I actually had to mute one of the songs, it was so screechy and awful. And what if Russia wins, as they are tipped to do this year (though they're tipped to win pretty much every year)...what will the gay Eurovision fanboys do?? They can't go to Russia! They're not welcome there! Actually, I think Sweden should just host it every year. We do a great job. Apparently the competition is being shown live in the US for the first time ever and I bet after the first three songs, someone was regretting that decision. Sheesh, what a trainwreck. However, we will of course, watch the second semi-final on Thursday and the final on Saturday because YOU CAN'T NOT WATCH IT.
Especially if you have popped your eyeballs from rubbing them too hard.
PLEASE SIR, I'D LIKE SOME MORE
It has been an absolutely perfect long weekend. I have been mostly offline and that's been kind of nice, too. The weather has been breathtaking: spring in all its glory: warm, sunshiny, blue sky beauty. I have magnolia envy and tulip envy and forsythia envy and spirea envy. My hostas are coming up. My columbine is huge and nearly ready to flower. The lilacs behind the garage are on the verge of bursting into bloom. The cherry tree is covered in baby cherries...I mean, white flowers.
I read a good book. I took naps. I repotted all the house plants and emptied 7 pots of plants that were scraggly and sad. I defrosted the freezer, but I didn't get around to cleaning the fridge (next weekend). I watched the latest episode of Orphan Black. I watched Blackfish, a depressingly sad but extremely thought-provoking documentary about the orcas at SeaWorld. I got up early and gave presents to my husband, whose birthday is today. I went out to lunch with the AWC for American Mother's Day and I called my mom, whom I miss dreadfully.
And I relaxed. And I thought about how I really could use another 4 days like this. At least.
Happy first of May! It's a holiday here, but it doesn't count when it falls on a weekend. Yesterday was Walpurgis Eve (Beltane Eve) and we celebrated with our friends Mats & Annelott at their annual bonfre. It was a smallish crowd...only 12 adults and almost none of the usual kids. Neither Martin nor Karin came with and Mats and Annelott's son Viktor wasn't there either. Karin and Viktor were out with their respective friends partying, and Martin was home studying.
He has been studying like a maniac the past couple of weeks. His exams start tomorrow. 15 exams in 11 days. Then? He's DONE. Except for the long wait for the grades and his diploma, which he won't get until after July sometime. Oh, and graduation, which is coming up faster than I'm ready for.
We went suit shopping today and I'm beginning to feel like my wallet is hemorrhaging money. Thankfully, Martin caved in on the tuxedo issue (he was insisting that a tuxedo was necessary dress code for senior prom). We found a really nice, slim classic black suit and basic dress shoes. He chose a classic black bowtie to use for prom, and a stylish light blue tie for graduation.
2 more things checked off my list, yay! (ignore the green and red tags)
This weekend has been a busy one. I cleaned out the fish tank, went through the fish stuff, tossed a bunch of old crap and got it ready to put into storage. I'm not selling it right now on the off chance that one of the kids will want the aquarium at some point. If not, I can always get rid of it later. I also cleaned out 2 large glass vases FULL of glass marbles that were on the porch gathering dust and bits of leaves and dead bugs. EW. Trying to decide whether to sell those or set them somewhere inside.
The removal of the fish tanks makes a huge gap along our long wall. We're debating what to do there, but I want to sit on it awhile. I suggested moving the large cabinet we have in the playroom but Anders thinks it will look weird since it's painted light grey and the rest of the furniture in the dining room is blond wood. He suggested a köpmanssdisk
but I don't really want yet another piece of furniture to fill up with stuff. It would be nice to have somethere to use as a sideboard, but it's not really necessary. If we ever get around to actually building the fireplace we planned for, then the bookcase that is currently in that spot will need someplace to go, and this empty space might have to be it...I don't know.
Today turned out sunny and warm and gorgeous...finally, a real spring day! I sat on the porch for awhile after we got back from the mall, but that made me sleepy so I had to take a nap. Karin went to Lund to hang out with a boy she is starting to see (second date, or third, I think) and is buying dinner on the way home: meat for Anders to grill and potato salad.
It's a short work week ahead for me: only 2.5 days, but so much to do that I'm having a bit of anxiety about it. We have a half day on Wednesday but we'll see if I can actually leave on time or not. I'm inclined NOT to stay and stress about work. :)
Anyway, happy May Day to you!
Weekends just go too damn fast. No matter how relaxed I try to be about them, they zip right by. Here it is Sunday evening already. Sigh.
Sweden is being very Sweden-spring-like right now. We've run the gamut of weather today: sun, clouds, rain, snow, hail, wind, back to sun. The hail came pounding down and was bouncing off the grass. Martin took a video for me
I took the last little fish over to the neighbor's today and left it there...in a bowl. Turns out they don't have an aquarium full of little tropical fish...they have a huge aquarium full of rather large, dangerous fish: a mini-shark, a giant angelfish, etc., who Jessika said would consider our tiny Tetra as a snack. She said her brother has an aquarium with little fish so maybe he would be willing to come get it. I hope so, but now it's no longer my problem (unless she brings him back, in which case, he will live in a flower vase or something) because I have already emptied the fish tank.
All the gravel has been cleaned and is drying on the counter, prior to being bagged and stored. I will clean the tank itself this week, hopefully and scrape it thoroughly. Then Anders will move the whole shebang back up to the attic. Maybe the kids will want an aquarium some day. It's sort of sad, but I'm glad to not have it weighing on my conscience.
Did my U.S. taxes today and was disturbed to realize that because of the exchange rate, I made nearly $12,000 less than I made last year, even though my salary in Swedish kronor was approximately the same. Having to file U.S. taxes is so aggravating. I still have to do FBARs but I have until the end of June for that. We actually have tax bills for BOTH kids this year, even though it's like a dollar that they owe. It's something to do with their savings funds, Anders told me, as I couldn't figure out why either of them would owe taxes to begin with.
I can't wait until the stupid U.S. election is over with. I can't take much more of this level of completely idiocy. It's making the idea of renouncing citizenship slightly more palatable, I can tell you. Especially if the unthinkable happens and Americans actually elect Trump. Please tell me that won't happen. Please?
SAD IN SPRING
My Uncle Sam died yesterday morning, before my mom could even get on the road. She called me at work and I couldn't leave right away as I was waiting for Karin, so had to try really hard to stifle myself a bit so that people didn't get concerned and make it worse by being nice to me. I'm so sad. This is the second time in the space of a year that a close relative has passed away and I can't get home to be with my family. GAH.
It's sunny and beautiful today, a bite in the air, but warming up, and huge fluffy clouds holding still in the sky. Posers. Martin is running a 5K race in Skryllegården right now. It's the last thing he has to do for his CAS requirement for IB, apart from writing two reflections on his achievements to hand in this week. I'm so glad that part is over. We are going to dinner over at our friend's Barbara & Paul tonight, so I need to try and put a cheerful face on. Late Evening ConversationLiz
: What is killer whale
? What? That makes no sense.Martin
: Well, why do they call them killer
whales? They never kill anyone!Liz
: They kill lots of things! Just not people.Martin
: They don't call us killer monkeys.Liz
: Well, they ought to.
We have baby lilacs coming behind the garage. Anders planted them last fall and we were a little unsure if we'd get flowers this year, but at least a couple of the bushes have buds. The bird cherry in the backyard exploded last week and every morning when I wake up, and look out the window I think it's snowed overnight. The ground in the woods near the snail trail and in Kungsgård is carpeted with wood anenome so it looks like there's snow on the ground as well. Only it's not! It's flowers!*Späck in Swedish is "lard". Huggare is "cutlass". Don't ask me.
ONE OF THOSE...DAYS-WEEKS-MONTHS
I have a huge pile of mixed emotions right now.
I was really happy on Monday after WW because I finally (!) hit -15 kg*. It's taken forever to get down this last kilo, thanks to Pie Night, Easter, Anthon Berg and my own lack of motivation. One step forward, two steps back, rinse & repeat for way too many weeks. So, it felt really good to have finally hit that milestone on my way down. :) Still a long way to go, but now the sun is out and I am getting moving again.
My mom called Sunday and told me some terrible news. Another relative with a brain tumor. Inoperable, no time, all the things you don't want to hear when the person in question is beloved. This is my second close relative with a brain tumor in the space of a year. It makes me so sad. I feel very far away and useless right now.
Why can't the cool, fun, wonderful people be here as long as me? It makes me so unutterably sad to know that this is how it is. Life isn't fair. Time is too short. No one gets to live forever and you don't get a second chance.
Anders is gone again, to Italy this week and next, but will be home during the weekend. I've been busy, as usual, and had bookgroup here last night and it was really nice to have a room full of talkative people to keep me distracted. Everyone hated the book so the discussion was fun and then turned to other, more interesting topics. I put out a huge spread of nibbles (crackers, cheese, baby tomatoes, beef jerky, grapes, cashews, chocolate squares, cookies) and then served a raspberry meringue cake with Daim. Yum! My friend Debbie spent the night as she had her first class this morning here in Flyinge (and she lives 40 minutes away), so we stayed up a little late, but not too late, talking.
But I woke up at 4:20 a.m. this morning with the worst headache, post-nightmares and dehydrated, and with my jaw clenched so tight I thought I'd be having to carry a little notepad and pencil around for the rest of my life. I got up and took some Ibuprofin but when I went back to bed, I couldn't relax and I couldn't fall asleep again. The fish tank water filter burbling was SO loud that I finally got up again around 5 and unplugged the damn thing. And still laid there until the alarm went off at 6:30. I was a zombie all day and I have so much to do this week at work, so it was not a good day, mentally speaking. My mind isn't here at all. It's home with my mom and my family. And being tired doesn't help. It's nearly 8 p.m. now and I'm trying really hard not to go sit on the couch because if I do, I'll fall asleep and then I'll have to get up again to go to bed and then I won't be able to sleep again. Stupid headache, look what you did!
Martin told me about a cool new show and I can't recommend it highly enough. We are already addicted to John Oliver's Last Week Tonight, but now we've added Samantha Bee's Full Frontal to our watch list. She used to be on The Daily Show as a correspondent, but now she's got her own late-night hosting gig (first woman late-night host!) and she's great. Rude, crude, biting, insightful, provocative and funny as all get-out.
I went for a walk at lunch today, but maybe I'll go out again now for half an hour. The sun is still shining!
* -33.06 lbs
ALIVE BUT BORING
Suddenly it's been nearly 2 weeks since I posted. How does that happen?? Anders got home from China on Friday, he leaves again super early tomorrow morning for Italy, but will be home next weekend as well.
I just looked out the window and over across the way are three tall pine trees, each one with a dove perched at the highest branch, all facing into the wind. :D It's quite cloudy and the wind is racing the clouds along. I was hoping for a nicer, sunshiny day today but looks as if I'm being foiled again. *sigh* ...where is spring? The bird cherry is blooming and buds are everywhere, but it is still chilly and raw-feeling.
Martin is officially done with classes and now has 2 weeks of intense studying before his 2 weeks of exams. He has something like 15 exams in 11 days the first two weeks of May. Then he is done until the official graduation day. His graduation cap arrived yesterday and fits perfectly.
Karin and I deep-cleaned the big bathroom yesterday and I've been doing the usual weekend cleaning and laundry. Another busy week ahead with WW on Monday plus baking for my hosting book group on Tuesday, then choir on Thursday. Karin has rehearsal on Monday and filming all day Friday.
I've started pulling together tax papers and info but just discovered I'm missing my W2 for some reason, so have to talk to HR tomorrow to find out where it is. Then I have to start gathering info for the FBARs: SUCK. Here we go again.
Reading: Moonscatter by Jo Clayton
Watching: Orphan Black Season 4 (!), Outlander Season 2 (!) and soon Game of Thrones Season 6 (!)
Eating: seedless red grapes YUM YUM
Most recent movie: Brooklyn (so good!)
Anders just replaced the soap control panel in the dishwasher and cleaned it thoroughly, and I'm about to start cleaning in the kitchen...every cabinet! Every drawer! Fridge! Freezer! Oven... GAH.
Okay, over and out with my scinctillating life.
Invitations are printed, folded, stuffed, addressed and ready to go to the post office for stamps. Anders confirmed today that the tent, tables and chairs are reserved. I've started the design for the student poster (very important item here in Sweden, apparently). The list seems to be endless and Martin just informed us that he's planning to go to prom as well. He paid for the tickets today (1000 kronor!). AAAAAAGH.
His suit is out on the table for trying on and then we have to see what's next. I keep feeling like I'm forgetting something important.
Graduation is a big deal in the US but I think it's a bigger deal here. Taking "studenten" is a massive undertaking...for the parents. (Martin would so be rolling his eyes right now if he was reading this). No tassels and robes or class rings or yearbooks, though. What am I missing? He doesn't get his diploma until sometime after the summer and they don't have a ceremony here like they do in the States. At least not the same way. They have an "utsläpp" where they release the students from school and they all coming leaping out of the door at once.
I bought new throw pillows for the sofa in the living room yesterday. They are striped with dark chocolate brown, turquoise and gold. I love them. They make the whole room look new. The old pillows are still in relatively good shape, but they need to be freshened up.
And my brother got his tickets for his trip to the US so now we are sure that ALL of us will be there! Hurray!
I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn
bushes have roses.Abraham Lincoln
Layout thanks to dandelion
Findus the cat as used in my user icon and header is the creation of