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zird is the word [userpic]
BEATING THE BLUR
Do you think time seems to go by faster because we stop paying attention to the details? At a certain point, we've seen it all before so we don't have to watch it as it develops, and only need to stop and snap to when something new happens. And after years, nothing new really happens. Unless we really stop. And force ourselves to see the details in the little things, the everyday things that really aren't the same. It's not easy, though. I think we lazily allow ourselves too often to coast along, skimming the surface of our lives, until suddenly we realize that years have passed, years are passing, and we're missing out.

And even if nothing new seems to happen to us (we've already been to school, graduated, moved, gotten jobs, bought houses, started a family, whatever), it's happening all around us, to our children, to our friends, to our colleagues, to the places we live and work in. Maybe it's just the new things, after years, aren't that fun anymore. They're just painful, or boring, or run-of-the-mill, or worst of all: annoying. They're the developing creaks and aches of growing older. They're the news stories that remind us that while the world may be changing, it is often all-too-depressingly the same.

WAKE UP! I need to channel Cher's character in Moonstruck, slapping Nicholas Cage and shouting "Snap out of it!"

Don't miss out. You don't get a second chance. You sleepwalk through these minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, and guess what? You don't get any more of them. Don't lose out on the time you have by choosing to let it blur past you with a day-in-day-out attitude.

The thing is, too, that we can only live vicariously through our children, our friends, our colleagues, to a certain point...especially our children. They don't want us hovering over them, worrying, watching, wondering. They want to live in the moment, too, until they learn how to blur it and coast themselves. It's all new to them, just like it was to us, until Boom! And then bluuuuuuuuuuurrrrr.

How do you stop that slow slide into an indistinct and lazy existence where you move from day to day in the same routines? What if you LIKE that stability, that security, in the comfortable life you live? Haven't you EARNED it?

WAKE UP! Go outside! Drive a different way to work. Go out at lunch and walk for 15 minutes, even if it's raining (take an umbrella, you won't melt, for god's sake). Eat breakfast for dinner, or popcorn. Tell a co-worker why they're a good colleague. Turn up the music and sing at the top of your lungs. Try a new recipe. Invite friends over spontaneously for burgers and board games. Give a special someone an extra hard hug. Write about what you saw, what they said, why it was funny or interesting or different. LOOK FOR THE DIFFERENCES. Instead of exercising after work, go for a walk before bed and look up at the sky. You might have seen them before, but the stars look very different today.* REJECT THE BLUR.

*David said it best, of course.
awake
mood: awake
music: David Bowie—Space Oddity


zird is the word [userpic]
MEH URGH GAH FLUMP
I was going to come home from choir and write a post. A good post. A long one, full of musings and interesting theories and anecdotes about my life. But, 5 minutes after I got home, and got the computer turned on, Karin called and needed to be picked up, and I had to leave again, and it put me in a bad mood (for other reasons than that she needed to be picked up) and then since I was grumping, I thought about other things that have been aggravating me this week, and by the time I got back home, I was really not in the mood to write anything coherent, much less interesting. So I'm taking my grumpy ass to bed and I'll try again tomorrow. SUCK.
 cranky
mood: cranky
music: None, damnit.


zird is the word [userpic]
GOOD GRAVY
For some reason my last two posts were set to private, though I swear I haven't changed the settings on my editor, so what the hell, Livejournal? Now I worry I need to check back through every post to make sure they are all visible. No WONDER I don't get any comments! Drrrr.

It was a multiple holiday weekend. We have Mårtens Gås (and Mårtensafton, since Swedes insist on celebrating all holidays the evening before, Veterans Day (in the US), Remembrance Day, and Swedish Fathers Day today. On Friday, Anders' mom had us all over for a delicious (catered) meal of turkey (better than goose) with potatoes, vegetables and a gravy that was so good we all wanted to drink it out of the cartons. Luckily, the caterer apparently knows how good their gravy is because they provided THREE huge containers of it. In addition, there was apple cake and vanilla sauce. I ate way too much but since I've been basically starving myself all week, I figured it was due. I've been good the rest of the weekend too, so there's that. It's not much, but it's something.

Karin was with us for dinner, then we dropped her off in Lund to meet up with friends and they promptly headed right back to Malmö for nightclubbing and dancing. I picked her up Saturday at 12:30 after her team interview with her new soccer coaches and we went shopping. She and I had already made plans for Saturday, (I'm guessing because she didn't have anything already planned with friends, haha) to watch a movie, but all the movies we want to see don't open in the theaters until NEXT week, so we picked a movie from the list I have of movies I want to see but it turned out to be HORRIBLE. I should have known, since it was a Woody Allen movie, and I haven't like any Woody Allen movie I've ever seen. And I should have doubly known, since it stars Owen Wilson, whom I dislike, but we watched the whole horrible thing. What a waste of time, both ours and the actors.

Today we celebrated Fathers Day by basically doing nothing after giving Anders presents (a PS4 hockey game and a fancy Lakrids advent calendar of liquorice candy). Karin and I did some cleaning, I did one load of laundry and after that I read my book and napped. I just talked to my mom for an hour and then we tried to call Maritn, since we haven't talked to him in weeks, but he was busy at an all-day photo shoot so we've made plans to talk on Tuesday. He's always busy so it's hard to connect. But we have some administrative financial aid things to deal with so he can't escape forever.

This week feels busy though it's about average: WW tomorrow, call Martin and do FAFSA on Tuesday, host Bookworms on Wednesday and choir on Thursday. Hopefully, Karin will still be available to go see a movie next weekend! :D
 busy
mood: busy
music: The Foundations—Baby Now That I've Found You


zird is the word [userpic]
SWINGING THROUGH STOCKHOLM
Oops! Forgot I had a blog. Heh.

We had a really nice trip to Stockholm, though we missed Martin. Karin, unfortunately, was sick with a really bad cold the entire time: fever on the way up, coughing, sore throat, stuffed head, the works. We drugged her up and made her go with us everywhere though :D The weather couldn't have been better. Friday was bright and glorious sunshine with blue skies and chill temperatures. Saturday it was cloudier and felt colder though it actually wasn't. It only drizzled on us once, but we didn't care because we were having fun.



It was a very museumy weekend. We stayed at the Långholmen prison hostel that we stayed at once before, only in one of the "nice" rooms (bunkbed and a trundle). Found a nice breakfast place (Cafe Vurma) a few blocks away and right over from the subway station. We went to the ABBA museum on Friday, which was way too expensive but a fun museum with a bonus Eurovision exhibition. It was fun, especially since ABBA was a huge part of my early musical life, living in Europe in the 70s. The wax figures of them were pretty creepy, though...they were SO realistic, I kept expecting them to move.

Then we took the ferry over to old town and walked around for awhile. I went to the scifi bookstore and then we drove to the HUGE Mall of Scandinavia (biggest damn mall I have ever seen) where Karin bought shoes (SURPRISE!) at the Nike store and a nice blouse, and Anders found a jacket at Naturcompaniet and then we ate sushi at one of the many nice restaurants there.





On Saturday we went to Fotografiska which is a fantastic photography gallery. They had a huge exhibition by Paul Hansen, the photojournalist who has been in pretty much every conflict zone around the world, ever. They also had extended the "Last Night in Sweden" exhibition, which we really wanted to see. It was a Kickstarter project started in response to Trump's comments during the campaign about Sweden, when nothing had actually happened, and comprises photos from around the country of what was REALLY happening: real life, no drama :) They also had a huge exhibition called the Autumn Salon which was a curated selection of photos from 31 different Nordic photographers. It was GREAT.



After that, we walked back to Old Town, had lunch in a fantastic little cafe (Cronan: excellent Caesar salad and to-die-for mushroom soup) and then went to Hallwylska House, which is a museum in an 19th century mansion whose owners were basically hoarders collectors of every thing you can possibly imagine. Most of it stuff we didn't really care about: tons of ceramics, swords, early guns, sculpture, porcelain, figurines, etc. All of it rather ugly. I mostly felt sympathy for the maids who had to dust all that shit before the invention of glass display cases & cabinets. The only thing we appreciated about it was that it was free (if you didn't take a guided tour).

After that we found our way out to the edge of the industrial ports, where Karin had found out about an exhibit of Street Art called Magic City. It was literally out in the middle of NOWHERE, at the end of the area where the cargo ferries come in, in a huge warehouse, and it turned out to be absolutely super. We got there an hour before closing time, after walking for a long way from the bus stop (30 minutes) and we had just exactly enough time to see the whole thing. It was everything about the growing trend of street art around the world, from graffiti to public sculptures to murals to yarnbombing to trash art installations. It was EXCELLENT.


Trash art installation by Bordalo II, my favorite!

We couldn't get into Stampen which was our original plan as it was packed with people enjoying the blues jam. Anders and I went there on our first trip to Stockholm over 20 years ago, but no go on the nostalgia trip, sadly. We were pretty hungry by then and didn't have any other ideas so we ended up in the first place we found that had an okay-sounding menu and prices that weren't sky-high. My pasta dish was really good but Anders was disappointed with his meal. Karin got ryggbiff (steak) so she was happy. We then went back to the hotel so Karin could go to bed early, nursing her cold.



We left Sunday morning after breakfast and a stop at a used-clothing store, where Karin picked up an Armani jacket for $80 and drove the 6.5 hours home. But I was really bummed because we made it to the Moose Store on the highway 15 minutes AFTER it closed. Figures! She got an Armani and I got nothing! haha!



Work has been nuts. I've been doing really well dieting, lost nearly 4 more kilos (Stockholm was not so helpful) so far, and still plugging along. Got my hair done tonight and tomorrow is choir, and Friday Anders' mom has invited us all over for Mårtens Goose dinner. But no other plans this weekend, except that it's Father's Day on Sunday so I'd better get to the store soon and figure out something!
 cheerful
mood: cheerful
music: Rebecka Törnqvist—Good Thing


zird is the word [userpic]
HELLO WEENIE
I just activated a new member for the AWC: a guy from Texas who has been in Sweden for 10 years, and has heard about us since before he moved here, but never thought to join because, well, duh. It's a WOMEN'S club. Right? Except, no, not really. It's not just Americans and not just women, though we only have a handful of men at the moment. We've talked about changing the name for years, but no one seems to be able to agree on a new name and the one I would have liked has already been taken by another club in the area.

On Saturday, I picked up Camilla and we headed to Malmö to the SciFi bookstore. It's been ages since I've been there and the incentive to go was an event they had posted on Facebook as a Magical Market complete with wizards and witches and goblins, but it ended up being 4 tables of Harry Potter-ish merchandise with dressed-up vendors. Still, lots and lots of people, kids and families, so the store was packed and felt very festive. I had a hard time keeping my pile of books under 1000 kronor, but managed to just squeak it in. The whole time I was dithering about buying actual books...should I get these on Kindle instead or go for the lovely hoarder possessive feel of holding bound paper and ink. I took several photos of books to add to the "check out to buy later" list and most of the books I DID buy were by favorite, tried-and-true authors; books I'd been waiting for, so that was fun!

So far, just for anyone keeping track (Megsie, I'm looking at you), I have bought Christmas presents for my daughter, my son and my husband. Mostly stocking stuffer stuff, but still, it's a start. None of my first family has sent back the wishlist so obviously they don't want anything this year, haha!

Tomorrow is Halloween and I have yet to carve our pumpkin or decorate the foyer and entrance. I DO have a humongous bowl of candy, as the annual trick-or-treating will commence around 6:30... that gives me time to at least throw some cobwebs against the walls of the house before the kids show up. I have little motivation to go all out for Halloween here, and my kids are either gone or...never home, so they're not helping. I asked Karin this weekend if she wanted to help decorate or carve the pumpkin and she barely looked up from her phone to answer "Nah". Is this how it ends for things like Halloween and Easter? Not with a bang, but a whimper, as your kids grow up and leave the nest. I'll still decorate for Christmas, of course, but those other two holidays were so kid-driven. It's sad.

We did have a Halloween costume contest at work on Friday and the woman who organized it ordered huge cupcakes with Halloween icing for the Friday fika. She decorated the office and there were prizes for various costume categories. I won "Laziest Costume" for my bat deely boppers. :D (I just looked up "deely boppers" and it turns out they are actually deely boBBers, and the name is a genericized trademark, like kleenex or thermos or google).

Here in Sweden, Halloween just doesn't have the same oomph. Although, two of the costumes dreamed up by the younger set for parties this weekend cracked me up: Karin dressed up as Rufus the Naked Mole Rat from Kim Possible (though she said her costume sucked), and one of my colleague's kids dressed up as Bambi's mother...complete with bullet hole in the middle of her forehead! HORRIBLE, but OMG too funny.

In other news, found a spaghetti squash this weekend and now I have a huge pile of baked squash to eat this week before we leave for Stockholm! EEK
 amused
mood: amused
music: Imogen Heap—You Know Where to Find Me


zird is the word [userpic]
IN MY HEAD, IN MY HEART
Every day as I drive to and from work, or to and from the grocery store in the next village over, I take snapshots in my mind. I even caption them, thinking as I do, that I should take the time to stop the car and take and shoot an actual photo, even if just with my phone.

The little abandoned building in Östra Ödarslöv, with peeling paint and pale turquoise doors.

The huge autumn-yellow tree with a bare crown and a ring of leaves around his foot ("Balding")

The road through Flyingeby, lined with trees, and the huge yellow brick stables at the end.

The field full of storks. The field full of sheep. The field full of seagulls.

The mist and the early morning sun coming up over the rise of the hill toward Lund.

Haybales. Windmills. The curve of the road past the half-timbered house with the many-paned windows.

A burst of bright red maple leaves peeking over a fence.

A hawk perched on a pole, lifting his wings, then rising.

I've had no luck yet finding spaghetti squash at the ICA. I was really hoping they'd be coming in now, since they have already been stocking pumpkins and butternut squash. I'm under orders to lose as much weight as possible before my surgery, and the doctor actually told me to do a protein power diet for 2 weeks. URGH. Feel like this week could be titled "Eating minimally" although yesterday I ended up having both lunch and dinner out (was still restrained though). When I got up today, after sleeping in, and then lying in bed reading for an hour, I wasn't hungry. I took a shower, dressed, put laundry in, and went to the pharmacy and grocery store for salad fixings and fruit. I bought a box of mixed protein powder meals and 2 smoothies from the same brand, and when I got home I STILL wasn't hungry even though it was after 1, so I read for awhile, and then took a nap. I've had one of the smoothies and it's 4:30 and I'm only now starting to feel a little...peckish. Salad or WW soup for dinner, since it's chilly and I feel the need for something warm. I didn't even buy anything for myskväll. GAH. FML.

Next week I have to go have blood drawn for tests and have an EKG done, and hopefully will get the notice in the mail with the actual surgery date, which should be week 48 or 49. I told the doctor if he wanted me to lose a lot of weight, he'd have to give me some time and not schedule the surgery too soon.

I've been in a bit of a depressed state this whole week, I think. Worrying about surgery, obsessing about weight and eating habits, and other issues, to boot. And to top it off, the treadmill has suddenly stopped working. Something is wrong with the motor, it drags and if you try to walk faster, it suddenly jerks to a stop and flashes an error message. Anders took a look and tried to figure out what was wrong, and oiled all the machinery, but it's still not working. *suck* I need a hug. I need several hugs.

Our long weekend trip to Stockholm is pretty well planned now, with a room booked at the Långholmen Prison (former prison, but still!). We stayed there once before when the kids where younger. One side is not renovated and still resembles the old prison and the rooms are barebones cells with metal bunkbeds. The other side has beautiful, much more luxurious rooms with built-in showers and all the amenities. We booked the nice side :) We plan to visit the ABBA Museum, Fotografiska and Hallwylska Museum, none of which we have ever been to before. It looks set to be a nice little get-away.

I had dinner last night with Debbie and Camilla and we made plans to go to the theater in Copenhagen in November to see A Patriot's Guide to America which struck us all as interesting, even though Debbie is Canadian and Camilla is Swedish :) We go to see plays and shows often, but it's been awhile since our last outing and we haven't made it over to Copenhagen for a long time, since it's been such a pain the past couple of years to get back over the bridge to Sweden, due to the lines and waiting times for border checks.

Is it too terribly awful to take another nap? It's been grey and gloomy and dark all day and I'm just in the mood to curl up with a blanket and my book and hibernate.
 hungry
mood: hungry
music: Naked Eyes—I Could Show You How


zird is the word [userpic]
IT'S BEGINNING
I don't know if you are anything like me, but the second fall seems to have entrenched itself, I find my thoughts turning more and more to Christmas. There are always so many things to plan for and anticipate around the holidays. I don't know if it's a way of speeding up time in an effort get through the dreary, sodden winter season or what, but it's something I can't seem to help.

The wish list I send to my family, soliciting their lists to give me ideas and inspiration for gifts, is in the works. Yesterday, I bought (at an insanely expensive price) Martin's plane ticket home for the holidays. I've actually thought about decorating and getting a tree already. Not DOING IT right now, just thinking about the fact that it's coming up. Fleeting thoughts, but nonetheless. Eek!

Searching for plane tickets online makes me crazy. It's so stressful and so expensive and so confusing. I finally gave up and called my brother to get the contact info for his best friend who is a travel agent in the US. When I got in touch with him and told him I was hoping he could help me see if buying the ticket for Martin FROM the US would be cheaper than me trying to buy it from here, he agreed but also told me that my googled-knowledge idea that mid-October was the best time to buy airline ticket for Christmas time was totally off, by about 3 months. According to him, airlines put up flights and schedules 9 months in advance and sales start 4-5 months in advance, so really I should have been looking in June/July for December tickets. Who can plan that far in advance?! I didn't even know dates at that point. URGH.

We ran into the same issue we had last summer: flying into and out of Detroit is ridiculously expensive. It's much cheaper from Toronto or Chicago but getting Martin to one of those places and back again added up to about the same price it was to fly from Detroit in the first place. And when Mark came back saying that the cheapest prices he could find were $500 MORE than what I was finding, I gave in. I can tell you, though, if both my kids end up in the States, we won't be seeing much of each other unless something changes in the airline industry. One small bit of good news was that WOWAir, the super-low-frills, low-cost airline from Iceland, will be flying from Detroit starting in the coming spring, but that doesn't help our wallets now.

I bought a pumpkin the other day for the front of the house, to be carved or not, depending on how motivated I am by Halloween. I also bought a pile of small decorative gourds for the big bowl on the dining room table, just to pretty things up and make me smile. Thanksgiving invites went out and so far, everyone (!) is coming, though I have still to hear from 2 people. It will be a very full house!

Tuesday I have an appointment with the surgeon to get the details and schedule a date for gallbladder removal surgery. I am quietly freaking out about it on the inside, but since it seems to be the best course of action, am also resigned.

We are planning a quick weekend trip during höstlöv but haven't made up our minds where to go. Karin wanted to go to Amsterdam but we ruled it out as too far (to drive, flying is already out of the question). Then we talked about Gdansk, but it turns out that is actually farther. We talked about Hamburg, but couldn't find anything super appealing about it and Oslo (too far, plus too expensive). I've looked at Bremen as well, but we might just end up in Stockholm. Tips?
awake
mood: awake
music: Stevie Wonder—I Just Called to Say I Love You


zird is the word [userpic]
13 CONFESSIONS
Pizza is never on my go-to menu wish list.

I really don't understand people who think gun control will not help with the gun violence problems in America.

I fear abandonment more than death.

If you are driving under the speed limit in front of my car, I'm probably swearing at you under my breath.

My oldest friend messaged me yesterday to say she was coming to London in March and wanted to plan a trip over to see me before or after and I literally squeed (squeeed? how many eeees does that word get?) out loud.

I'm a hypocrite in more than one way (and I bet you are, too).

I would prefer that you just unfriend me instead of being abusively vocal about your differing point of view.

If you don't see it in my house, I might have regifted or thrifted it. Sorry/not sorry.

Sometimes I play Cribbage on my iPad just to feel closer to my sister (but I'd rather be playing with her).

I want a cat again. I really, really want a cat again.

When I look around my house at all my books, I worry sometimes what will become of them after I'm gone.

I re-write lists like this so that all the sentences don't start with "I".

Q-tips / ears ...need I say more?

Your turn.
 calm
mood: calm
music: Peter, Paul & Mary—Rolling Home


zird is the word [userpic]
CLOSER
Ozswede wrote something that really struck me, today:

"Sometimes it feels like I have sunk very quickly into the mire of old age because I do wonder where the time has gone. I think if there is any regret it is that I just don't know where middle age went. I thought that middle age should be now, when there are big adventures and endless wonderings and wanderings. Too often I get to day's end and think I have just slid one day closer to death."

Urk, that brought me up short, as too often I have the same kind of feelings. Another day over and what have I done? Gotten closer to the end, that's all.

Yesterday was definitely one of those days, with Anders leaving at an ungodly early hour (3 am! His flight was at 6 but he had to be at the airport at 4, URGH) and Karin still gone (she's been gone all month, it feels like). I slept in and then basically lazed around all day. It was another one of my slug days but won't count as far as others are concerned because I did 2 loads of laundry and vacuumed AND ironed 3 shirts, but it was definitely sluggy in every other way.

And I didn't speak to anyone. I didn't even go outside or go for a walk despite it being a beautiful day. I just wanted to veg and read and even though I kept thinking, "Oh, I should get out now while it's sunny" I never managed to get my butt out the door. Pathetic.

Today though, I was gone most of the day. I had planned an AWC activity to go visit a big indoor flea market in Malmö but it ended up just being my friend Debbie and me. Our other friend Camilla was supposed to come, but she ended up at the ER with her mom (not serious I don't think, but I have no details yet). It was fun to poke around but it was mostly real junk instead of nicer antiques, although there was some nice furniture. Too bad I don't need any furniture! Actually, too bad, I don't need anything but it was fun to look at all the stuff.

Afterwards we drove to a small shopping center that has a clothing store we both like, and had fika and sat and talked and shopped a bit (I found a nice flowery blouse and a long black cardigan) and then I picked up sushi for Karin and myself. She was already at home having been dropped off by a teammate after their soccer game (she scored but they lost).

Anders and I talked to Martin on Friday and he's doing well. A couple of the projects he's worked on have been fantastic (and I'm speaking as a designer and not just as a proud mother) and I have asked him if it's okay to share them, but not sure if his answer was definitive and he still has to send me the files. He had some really good things happen this past week: one of his friends who also did IB in high school told him that she was given 15 college credits just for having done IB and he should check out whether he can get the same. That's an entire semester, basically! And the manager of the summer program that he participated in during July emailed him and asked if they could use some of his photographs for their promotional material (he doesn't get paid, but what a nice compliment!) AND she encouraged him to apply for a mentor spot for next summer's program, (and that IS paid) which is unusual as he will be a rising sophomore and mentors are usually juniors or seniors!

I am waiting for my doctor to call and make another appointment with me this week (I will call if I don't hear anything by Wednesday). I had the ultrasound on my gallbladder last Wednesday and the technician confirmed that it is "nearly full of stones". He asked if I knew anyone else in my family with gallstone issues and when I said, "Yes, my mom, her dad, my brother...", he nodded and told me that the predisposition for gallstones is often genetic. He was sending the results back to the doctor and said I would then have consultation with a surgeon for how to proceed, but I expect gallbladder removal surgery is in my near future. I called my brother about it since I was freaking out a little, and he told me to chill out and gave me lots of info based on his own experiences with acute pancreatitis. GAH.

So that was my weekend. Another couple of days closer.
 mellow
mood: mellow
music: Sara Bareilles—If I Dare


zird is the word [userpic]
WE'RE ALL NUTS HERE
Remember this?



At least that one washed off eventually...



She's been talking about it for a long time. I am not sure why she has been so set on getting a tattoo, but she was determined that it be something that had meaning for her and when she finally came up with the idea for 4 acorns and oak leaves (Oak = Ek, get it?) she was convinced it would be perfect. She even asked me if I would design it for her, but I demurred. Not because I didn't want to design a cool tattoo but because I kinda didn't want my perfect daughter to do something so irreversible, at least not without thinking about it for awhile longer. Like maybe YEARS awhile longer, haha! BUT I am fine with it, I think it was done very well (even if I could wish it was a smidge smaller) and I applaud the sentiment. Four acorns for the four of us in the Ek family. :) Anyway, now it's done and there's no use crying over spilled ink. And she's happy as all get out about it, so there's that. She didn't even have to pay for it, since 4 of her friends gave it to her for her 18th birthday.



PS. That big bruise above it is from soccer, not the tattooing.
resigned
mood: resigned
music: Katrina & the Waves—Walking on Sunshine


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

Abraham Lincoln

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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.