We've not had much warm weather so far this spring, it's been very changeable. Every five minutes, a new condition: rain, breezy, sunny, cloudy, hail, chill, you name it. Yesterday, on the way home from dinner in Malmö with Anders' mom we saw several rainbows. One of them was huge and simply perfect; you could see ALL the colors. Even Anders (who is color-blind), said he thought he could actually see red. Usually all he sees is blue and yellow: all his rainbows are Swedish!
It's lilac time, my favorite. They smell so lovely outdoors. We don't have any, yet, in our yard, though we have plans, but along the ditch in the back there are several bushes, so we get to enjoy them regardless. I was out watering pots and garden beds at sunset the other day and Karin came home in time to grab the camera and capture some of the light.
Another one of our neighborhood friendsAll photos copyright 2015 Karin Ek
It's been a crazy couple of days, a busy weekend, and next week is insane: I have something planned every evening! Today is Swedish Mother's Day and my family gave me beautiful flowers, Reese's and a DVD box set of all the BBC Dickens movies! WOW! We're going to spend the afternoon with Anders' family, but for now I'm going to relax a bit.
LIKE MOT-HAIR, LIKE SON
One good thing about text messages... your words don't bubble into the air and nothingness and then you can photoshop an entire conversation for posterity. Even if posterity is rolling its eyes. Martin sent me a photo of one of his favorite actresses, Sarah Paulson, who is going to be on a spin-off of one of his favorite shows today. He's blue, I'm gray:
FEELING LIKE WRITING
I don't even know what to write about anymore. There are things I can't write about that are filling up my brain. There are things I could write about, but I don't even know what they are. Ideas run through my mind and bubble into nothing by the time I sit down. Funny conversations disappear into the air, expelled on the breath of memory and forgetfulness. Even when I have ideas, they seem stupid. They seem trite and banal and, above all, boring. And then I forget what I was going to say again.
I've been keeping this blog since 2003. That's a long time. I dislike the fact that I don't write more often, even when I know it's a habit that takes discipline. I am easily distracted. My time is easily eaten up by so many other things. I feel guilty about not writing and that's the last emotion I want to bring to this space. A friend of mine exclaimed tonight, when the subject of my blog came up, that it was "so good!" and I had to laugh, because I rarely feel that way about my blog. I don't think it's "so good" most of the time. I'm not sure what's changed, though. I mean...I'm the same person I was in 2003, right?
Really, though, it's the longest I've ever written a journal. Most of my pathetic attempts lasted weeks, sometimes only days. The amount of blank pages in the paper journals of my youth is fairly embarrassing, but here? I've been writing for nearly 12 years! Next year my little livejournal will be a teenager!
Anne Tyler said, "If I waited until I felt like writing, I'd never write at all." I get that. An unknown writer said, "The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you did not write." I get that, too. Erasmus said, "The desire to write grows with writing."
I don't have writer's block. It's not that, at all. It's a matter of prioritizing, really.
So, here I am...writing. Turns out, it's not so difficult once you get going. The trick is to do it again. And again. And keep on doing it. Whether you feel like it or not. Whether it's good or trite or banal or boring. Whether anyone will read it or care that you've written it or acknowledge its existence. Just write is just right.
I live too far away from my first family.
My husband is gone all week.
I'm in the middle of a class-A freakout about US tax and bank reports.
Yes, again, it happens every year and every year it gets worse.
My boss asked me if I'd like to go to the States for a couple of days but it's right in the middle of the Swedish vacation period and I don't know if we can make it work, and it might be my only chance this year.
Martin and I just had a fight about driving.
We're out of milk.
I have to bake a cake and go grocery shopping and do laundry and drive Karin to a referee job and clean the house, all tomorrow, after work.
20 minutes on the treadmill wasn't enough.
The book I'm reading is really sad.
No one wants to run for the AWC board next year, including me.
The skin of my wrists and ankles has changed. It's making me feel old.
My back itches.
The computer is buzzing REALLY loudly.
No one has bothered to change the burned-out lightbulbs in the bathroom ceiling light in weeks.
I tried to find the scene on YouTube from The Sure Thing where Daphne Zuniga is complaining about everything that's going wrong (I'm starving, my feet are killing me, etc.) and John Cusak says "I swallowed my gum", but I couldn't find it.
There doesn't seem to be any way to get Wonders together any time soon and at least one of them doesn't seem to care.
We can't have a cat.
It's freezing out again and it poured rain today. Where is summer?
I've lost count of how many times I've sneezed and/or blown my nose in the last six months. Kleenex is making a fortune off of me.
The fish are still alive.
My car stinks of gasoline and it's all Karin's fault.
The rose bed in the back of the house is full of cat shit.
There are only 219 shopping days left until Christmas.
ALL BY MYSELF
My friend Sheryl recently wrote about having no one to do things with; that her family has other interests and most of the time they don't coincide with hers.
I often feel the same way. I know that people think I have a perfect life and a perfect family, but the truth is, I have a good life and a family that, while we love one another and enjoy each other's company most of the time, have very different needs and hobbies and passions. I have a couple of good friends here that share some my interests and thankfully I am able to get together with them fairly often, but it's never really enough. We don't live near each other; one has three kids and we all work and have many other obligations.
My husband is fantastic but he doesn't share my interests, and to be fair, I don't share his either. We manage, regardless, out of a shared value set and respect for each other's time and a profound commitment to each other and our family, but there isn't really anything we do together in the way that I see other couples sharing. He bikes, I walk. He relaxes with television; I choose books. Even our taste is movies is miles apart. It's weird how you can build a life together, despite these differences.
Both my children are growing up and starting to pull away, Karin most dramatically. I can still get Martin to do things with me, but I can see the divide widening. It's a strange, saddening feeling and makes me sympathize even more with my own mother, whose children are all very far away from her physically.
When I was in junior high, my best friend and I wrote reams of stories about our adult lives and how they would be. We imagined that we'd always be together. That we always be able to spend time together; our days together, laughing and doing the same things that we did when we were 13 and 14, despite falling in love or having boyfriends, or marrying. Silly, really, considering we were all children of military families and knew the drill. Deep down, we knew the chances of us living anywhere near each other when we reached retirement age was a daydream. And it's come to pass, as well. My oldest friend is in Oregon. The others? Kansas, Florida, Massachusetts, California, basically the four corners of the map.
My best girlfriend from high school is in Virginia. My best girlfriend from college is in Michigan. My best friends from Chicago are still there. Even some of the friends that I have been closest to here in Sweden have moved away. And there's no guarantee that the ones I still have here will be here forever, either. People move, it's a fact. Things change. The dream of having people to share things with, to do things with...well, having children doesn't solve that. Even having a husband doesn't necessarily bridge the gap, no matter how much you have in common and how much you love one another.
Don't get me wrong; I'm a social creature. I belong to an organization that regularly allows me to meet and make friends that share my interests. I keep my time filled. But sometimes I think how nice it would be to go antiquing with my mom whenever I want. To play cribbage with my sister, whenever I want. To live spontaneously with friends nearby who are happy to say yes when I ask them to go with me somewhere or do something with me that I know my family will groan about if I ask them.
I'm thinking about this more and more as the years pass and friends become more important. Even now, as I write this, I'm by myself in the house. I don't mind, exactly, but, still, there it is. Karin is in Malmö with friends watching a soccer game. Martin is in Lund watching a movie with a friend. Anders is in Germany on a work trip. I could fill my time in a myriad of ways. And yet, here I am, online, talking to a bunch of voices in the wilderness, even more scattered and distant globally than one would have thought possible. I don't even know who will read this, much less respond, and yet, it's the sharing that's important. It's the knowledge that my voice, too, is one in the wilderness.
It's nice to know that, even though I'm by myself, I'm not alone.
PUT A PEONY ON ME
It's raining again, and the lacy tracery of spring leaves against the branches of the trees is filling out into that one-color summer green already. At least I haven't had to water the pansies but once since I planted them. I'm home early for a long weekend, though I was home sick all day yesterday, so it turned out to be an even shorter week than I anticipated. Tomorrow is Ascension Day which we have a holiday for in Sweden and my company gives us half-days off before holidays as well as the "pinch" day for Friday. Nice!Martin
: *because neither of us wants to get up to change the DVD*
should I just turn this off then?Liz
: if you're not gonna change itMartin
: okay fine *turns off the TV*Liz
: lazy sack of pooMartin
: learned from the bestLiz
my job here is doneMartin
: you can't just Peace out as a parentLiz
: *giggles madly*
I keep thinking about writing & posting but not doing it. I keep thinking about a lot of things but not doing them. Pot calling the kettle black up there where I called Martin a "lazy sack of poo". Today with the afternoon off? I shall think of things but probably not do them. Except reading, and playing games, and going for a walk if the sun comes out. It's peeping out right now, but I don't trust it.
I seem to be in the middle of a non-fiction bubble. I finished Diane Ackerman's An Alchemy of Mind
a couple of days ago and then gulped down Mary Roach's Stiff
(which is for book group next week) and now I'm reading Driving Over Lemons
by Chris Stewart about an Englishman that uproots his life when he buys a farm in Andalucia, Spain. Do you go in spurts like this? I don't think I usually read this much non-fiction at once, and even though I picked up Lemons
, I was actually kind of craving some good lose-yourself-in-another-world fiction. It's okay, though, I have another Anthony Doerr book already downloaded for when I'm done with Lemons
was fascinating, if rather exceptionally icky. I've now read all her books and every one of them is excellent. This one is about death... or rather, about cadavers and what happens to us after we die, and the various ways corpses have contributed to our society and culture. I'm not a super-squeamish person but I have to admit, I grossed myself out, as I sat down to eat a bowl of chicken and rice for lunch yesterday RIGHT as she was describing the decomposition process of the body and started talking about maggots. I did manage to eat the rice, though...I just had to keep thinking NOT MAGGOTS NOT MAGGOTS to myself. Haha!
I've always thought that I would prefer to be cremated. Being buried in a coffin has never been appealing. But one of the last chapters of the book was about new options in after-death, ah, ...disposal, especially a SWEDISH one that is called an ecological burial
. Basically you're reduced to fertilizer and can be deposited in the ground with a memorial tree or bush or something to grow above you. I like that idea! Trust the Swedes to take recycling to its logical extreme. :)
The cloud cover is slowly breaking up and there is much more blue sky showing now then there was half an hour ago. I hope we're in for some nice weather this weekend. I would like to sit in the sun and watch the birds and listen to the song of the lawnmowers.
I just finished reading All the Light We Cannot See and it was SO good. So so very good. In fact, I might start over reading it again. Or I might do that thing I do (and you do, too, admit it), which is download and devour everything he's ever written. Which is another novel and 2 collections of short stories. I'm actually a little wary about the short stories, because I've found that, much as I love them, they don't seem to stick in my brain the way full-length books do.
And then I buy them again, forgetting I've already read them. Did it just tonight, dammit. Not his, though, someone else's.
I was a little worried about reading it because it's set during WWII, in France and Germany, and you know books about WWII never end well. Or rarely end well. And this one, well, it ends relatively well for some and not so well for others and not at all well for a few, which is really sad but there really wasn't any other way to go with the narrative and by the time it gets there you realize how true it is and how the sadness helps make what happened even more real.
Speaking of WWII, Martin just got back from his 4-day school trip to Berlin, and now I want to go back. The last time, and only time, I was in Berlin, was when I was in high school. The wall was still up, and I went with my choir and we took a train across East Germany from West Germany (where I lived at the time) and I remember nearly nothing except how exciting it was. I remember the fun with my friends and drinking V8 juice and eating Oreos (my friends told me I had a cast-iron stomach to down that combination) on the train and giving each other backrubs. And taking photos, though they're all at mom's apparently.
We went to the Checkpoint Charlie museum before or after we went on a tour, through the wall, and into East Berlin (which my fingers have consistently typed as Easter Berlin). I remember the wall, and the spookiness of the streets and the desolation and the terrible quality of goods for sale in the department store we visited. I bought a German teddy bear with a little red crown and gold GDR medal around his neck. I thought he was still in the stuffed animal basket in the playroom and I just made Martin look for him, but he's nowhere to be found. He must have been sacrificed in the Great Stuffed Animal Clean-out some years ago. I tried to google him and there are a million stuffed teddies with crowns and medals but none of them is MY teddy.
Anyway, I remember Checkpoint Charlie Museum being really, really small and crammed full of stuff and Martin says it's huge now, with several buildings and it takes up the length of a city block. He said it was still interesting though. But not as interesting, I bet, as when you actually went through Checkpoint Charlie with soldiers with guns pointed at your bus and your passports held up with the picture page against the window of your bus!
I have a piece of the Berlin wall, too. My dad gave it to me for Christmas sometime in the early 90s. It has a certificate of authentication with it, but I am still suspicious. It's just a block of concrete, could be from anywhere, really. But still! A piece! Of HISTORY!
I'm glad I didn't live through WWII. I hope there is never something like that again that I have to live through. Or my children. Or their children. I hope it stays in the past, as history, and fiction, and sadness, and inspiration for hope.
PS: Happy Star Wars Day! May the Fourth Be With You!
HALF (& HALF) (WAY THERE) (ASSED)
We're down to half the family this week, though with the amount of time Karin spends away from home, I might as well be living alone. Living da vida loca. Actually, living la vida aburrida, since my life is nowhere near all that crazy.
Martin and I got up at 4:15 a.m. this morning. At least we LOOKED like we were up. We were vertical and moving, albeit slowly and with our eyes squinched shut. I kept waking up all night long, checking the clock, with that fear of sleeping through the alarm that I often get before I'm going to be traveling somewhere, and increasingly angry at my stupid brain because I WAS NOT THE ONE TRAVELING.
We left the house at 5:00 a.m. and our next door neighbor was just walking by with their two dogs. She and her daughter get up super early every morning (their lights went on half an hour after ours did this morning) because they have to go take care of the daughter's 5 or 6 horses, I forget how many, before school. Every day.
We drove to Lund and the light was already quite bright. I dropped Martin at the train station where he was meeting the teachers and the rest of his history class to take the train to Copenhagen airport. Their flight was at 8 but they had to be there quite early to get everyone checked in and get to the gate by 7:35 a.m.
They are going to lots of museums and other important landmarks in Berlin with free time built in as well. One of the choices for the last day was the Checkpoint Charlie Museum which I told Martin he shouldn't miss, even though the wall came down in 1989. I was there before that, when the wall was still up, approximately the same age as Martin is now, and it was fascinating then. I still have the guidebook, in fact, with all its stories of how people escaped from East Berlin. I hope he goes.
Then I went to work, since I was already in Lund, and it seemed stupid to go back home to try and sleep an hour or two before having to come right back. I got to the office at 5:20 but I wasn't the first person there...the cleaning woman was already on our floor. I didn't know they started so early... she must get up at 4-something every single day. Crazy. It was so quiet and peaceful with no one there, and I rocked through a huge pile of stuff.
I took care of several new jobs, sending files, reviewing HTML blasts, finalizing and uploading translated materials, revising a couple of quickscreens and putting together a few adverts. Then I got all the monthly enews prepared and sent to review, which took nearly three hours and by then the office was starting to hum with the daily activity. I went home at 1:30 and collapsed, feeling like a zombie. A 2-hour nap later and I'm feeling at least a little human again, though I doubt it will be hard to get to sleep tonight.
Tomorrow is the AWC meeting, and I have to bring the trampoline with me.
D'oh! I sold the trampoline this weekend to a fellow member, after sending out an email to the club about it. She came, with her husband and three little girls, in a tiny car to pick it up yesterday. I opened the storage room and handed out all the pieces. Piece after piece of long metal poles and short metal poles and curved metal poles and a bag of metal springs and the blue protector pad that goes around the edge and waved them merrily off. A couple of hours later she emailed me to ask if the black mat wasn't supposed to be included?
OMG I was so embarrassed. I gave them the trampoline without the TRAMPOLINE. Those little girls must have been SO disappointed...though it WAS raining so maybe he hadn't actually put it up yet. I went back out to the storage room and found out why I missed it. The mat was folded up, under a stack of beach chairs on a completely different wall section of shelving. Double duh!
I don't remember this so clearly from my years in Chicago, but here in Sweden, one really lives after and by the seasons. I find myself looking out for the annual marker of the start of each season and feeling such satisfaction when it's noted.
Spring: pied wagtails
Summer: clouds of gnats hovering in the summer evening air
Fall: sugar beets on the side of the road (fallen off trucks)
Winter: Advent candelabra
Yesterday, I saw my first pied wagtail, so now it's OFFICIALLY spring. The lacy tracery of bright green leaves wasn't enough. The lush pad of fresh grass didn't do it. Daffodils and crocus and snowdrops: just harbingers. It's the Pied Wagtail that officially ushers in the spring.
One week of Anders being gone is done. It's the weekend, and it took forever to get here. Today has been pretty lazy...I haven't done anything of note. Tomorrow I have to get up early and take Karin to an all-day karate judging thing her soccer team is doing (don't ask me, I don't know either) and on Monday, Martin and I have to get up at the crack of yawning to get him to the train station on time. I figure I'll just go on in early to work and leave early too so I can come home and collapse :) It's just me and Karin most of next week and she's never home either, so: house to myself! Yay!
Martin and I are going to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron today, we're leaving in about half an hour. Karin didn't want to go with us; she's hanging out with friends instead. I feel like time is whirling away from me. It's already the end of April. That's CRAZY.
I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn
bushes have roses.Abraham Lincoln
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