I never listen to the radio nowadays. I never listen to the more than 500 CDs we own, either. And since last year, the only tape player we own is a small boombox that is up on the top of a shelf... so I never listen to any of the mixed tapes that I made or received long ago, and haven't for years.
But I listen to music all the time. All day long at work and whenever I'm in the car. I've built a Spotify list with over 2000 songs on it and that's what I listen to. It's the best playlist in the world and it makes me happy every time I hit Shuffle-Play.
For Christmas, Anders gave me a stereo docking station that I can use with my iPad or iPhone. It has a built-in CD player as well, and he bought a little tape player to go with it. So now, I can listen to just about ANYTHING* at home, too. I'm playing a mixed tape right now, in fact. It's a tape I made in 1990. It's dated on the inside of the label: 2-24-1990. 4 years and a coujple of months before I met him.
It, along with the majority of the music I have in my tape and CD collections, has lots of songs that aren't on my Spotify list. That doesn't mean they aren't good songs...it's just I don't put EVERYTHING on my playlist and lots of the music I have on vinyl, tape and CD isn't always available on Spotify, sadly. I confess, my playlist's primary purpose is to soothe me. It's not for dancing or exercise or cleaning house or anyone else. It's for running as a background soundtrack for my life.
For a few weeks of December, I switch to a Christmas playlist that I've also compiled on Spotify, but I tire of Christmas music fairly quickly. I never tire of my Spotify list. It says a lot about me, I suspect. It's a hint to the person I am, the level of energy I live at, the melodic rhythm that defines my pace.
Don't think I never listen to anything new, though...Spotify is great that way. Finding new artists that are recommended for me, based on my preferences is a snap. I add new stuff all the time. But sometimes it's really nice to listen to a set of music that defined a particular place and time in my life. A tape that holds a key to what I was enjoying, listening to, doing, years ago.
Even if I do have to get up and flip the tape at some point.
*Except vinyl. Our record LPs are still gathering dust, alas.
ALL THAT'S LEFT
Guess what? Only 362 shopping days until Christmas!
HAHAHA! Megsie, that was for you.
(sad part: how fast that will go)
We woke to a white Christmas, which made all of us very happy, especially since it was just a dusting. It was a very family-filled, present-filled, FOOD-filled week around these parts. We had Anders' mom over on the 23rd for her birthday. Anders made raclette. She'd never had it before and really enjoyed it, and we had, surprise, leftovers.
Märta spent the night as the next day was Julafton, the day that Swedes celebrate Christmas. Anders's sister and her family arrived just before Kalle Anka and we watched it dutifully, like the good Swedes we are, despite the fact that all the kids were not-so-surreptitiously on their phones instead of paying attention to the very Christmassy stylings of Lady & The Tramp and Donald Duck. Then Anders made julbord. (He had help from his mom and sister although one whole dish of fried herring dropped out of the bottom of a paper bag when I was carrying it in from the car the evening before and smashed to pieces on the driveway. Not to worry! Märta had made TWO dishes of it!) We had, surprise, leftovers.
On Christmas day, I woke up super-early, despite not having gone to bed until super-late the night before, and laid on the couch and looked at the tree, something my sister and I always used to do when we were young. Then Karin bounced out of bed and nagged us all into getting moving. We opened stockings and then, much to Karin's aggravation, got showered, dressed AND had breakfast before she was allowed to start dealing out presents. Everyone liked everything they got, which was gratifying all around, and the kids were very happy with their new Playstation 4 (we haven't seen them since). My friend Camilla and Karin's boyfriend came over for dinner. Anders made turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing and all the trimmings. We had... leftovers.
Camilla stayed late and we had a great time playing one-word-titled games. Uno, Smartass, Iota and Sorry! The kids didn't want to play Sorry! at first but then they got into and got very competitive. I miss playing games, it was super fun.
Yesterday, Karin invited two girlfriends to spend the night and Anders made hamburgers and french fries and onion rings...because he got a deep fryer for Christmas and had to try it out. Guess what? Leftovers!
The fridge is FULL of plastic containers of food. I estimate Anders won't have to cook ever again and we won't have to go to the grocery store for at least 2 weeks.
Today, we have done absolutely nothing so far. Karin's friends are still here (it's 3 o'clock), and they are all still in pajamas. Martin and I are going to see The Hobbit tonight, so it will be yet another late night but we will eat leftovers before we go.
Tomorrow is the AWC Glögg party and then the only thing between me and the end of vacation TEN days from now is New Year's Eve. Other than that I have NO obligations and my only plans involve a few projects (sssh, don't tell my family). Aaaaah, the life!
EK FAMILY CHRISTMAS LETTER
2014 is nearly over and the holidays are upon us! As all the years seem to do, we zoomed through this one as well and it was full of ups and downs, though thankfully, mostly ups!
We didn’t have nearly as much traveling this year as last, at least for work, which was kind of nice. Anders went to Italy and Liz to the US, and we had two vacation trips, plus Anders had a ski week with friends in the Czech Republic in January and Karin went to Gothenburg in July for the Gothia Cup soccer tournament.
Martin, who just turned 17, started the IB program for real (last year was a pre-year)...he’s in the middle of his junior year. He is thriving in the IB environment and really likes his school and his friends. He especially likes history and psychology but is doing well in all his subjects.
Soon enough, it will be time to start looking into college applications! He had a bit of a bobble in the early spring, when he broke his arm...falling out of a tree house during a water fight! He had surgery to place three 4-inch long pins in his arm and was in a sling for 6 weeks,
which put a bit of dent in his summer vacation, but we were happy that he was recovered and the pins removed before our big trip to North America at the end of July.
Karin, who turned 15 in July, is in 9th grade and also doing well. She has a busy social calendar that includes a boyfriend, a large circle of friends, soccer and her referee work. She is a soccer referee for her club, and was recently asked (a year early) to train as a district referee, but ultimately decided to wait a year due to her schedule.
In October she passed the driving test and got her license and is now the proud owner of an Italian moped, which has made all of our lives considerably easier as she can get to and from school and practice by herself. Her next challenge is to choose a gymnasium (high school) for next year! She was considering going to the US for a year, but has decided for various reasons to wait for college instead.
We were very sad to lose Anders’ father in the spring. He passed away suddenly after several health problems following a bad fall, and we are still mourning his loss. He was a kind and loving man and will always be missed.
In spring, we had a visit from Liz’s brother John and family, who came up to Sweden for a couple of weeks. We rented a cabin on the east coast, in Vånevik, just outside of Oskarshamn, and had a great time playing with Sammy and baby Jake.
Plans for Liz’s big birthday were in full swing throughout the first half of the year, and along with her friends Russell (who celebrated his just 4 days after) and Kathey, decisions were finally made as to where the week-long 50th birthday bash was going to take place. Ireland was chosen, then rejected, and after much discussion, the winner was finally picked: Toronto!
We spent a week with Kathey & Russell, and Liz’s sister Sarah and her family, in Toronto where, among other things, we had a birthday dinner at the top of the CN tower, visited the islands, an amusement park, Niagara Falls and the University of Toronto campus (for Martin). Afterwards, we spent 2 weeks in Michigan at Liz’s mom’s (first week with Sarah & co.) which was a lot of fun.
Liz also had the opportunity to tack on a week’s vacation to her annual work trip to Boston in late November, with perfect timing for Thanksgiving. Since Sarah had recently moved to Hartford, Connecticut, Liz was able to spend Thanksgiving with family (including Grandma Linda) for the first time in 17 years! The only bummer was that Anders and the kids weren’t able to tag along.
We hope you have a fantastic and relaxing holiday season and a very Happy New Year!
Link to photos PDF: www.lizardek.com/lj_images/xmaspics_2014.pdf
Liz, Anders, Martin and Karin
MIRROR OF THE MIND
I know, I know, using my blog to write to-do lists is the ULTIMATE in lame. And yet. Who else should I share the most important things in my life with? You think my husband and children give a rat's ass about my to-do list?
It's short. Or at least it is from this end, when I haven't actually started it yet.
- Write Christmas cards
- Buy stamps
- Mail Christmas cards
- Post online Christmas letter
- Bake Christmas cookies
- Check gift pile status...are the kids' presents balanced? If not, remedy
- Clean the freaking house
- Buy Christmas food, Swedish and American style
- Work on my sister's Christmas present
- Get the kids to finish decorating the little tree
- Put the boxes back in the storage room
That's pretty short, right?
We are watching Lie To Me
. Have you seen it? Martin saw the pilot some time ago and asked for it for Christmas, and I gave him season 1 for his birthday. ALL of us are watching it... unheard of! (though I think Karin might actually have been watching The Walking Dead
on her iPad tonight instead). We've watched 6 episodes and I still can't decide if I like it or not. I've always thought Tim Roth was brilliant, but he's so... I don't know.
Martin had the same reaction. I said I thought the show was well-done and interesting, but half the time it just goes so completely over the top, I can't suspend my disbelief, and also I work for a company that makes surveillance cameras and ATTENTION TV PEOPLE, you cannot ENHANCE images to see what isn't actually there.
I think the premise of the show is fascinating: the science behind people's expressions, gestures and body language used as a tool for evidence about whether they are lying or not, in all kinds of situations. But it keeps straying in the realm of what? stop, seriously? Get out of here.
Martin thinks part of the problem is Tim Roth's character. He's another one of those loner, super-intellectual, more-intelligent-than-thou, kind of creepster arrogant, borderline asshole men. Martin ticked off several shows that we've watched (and liked) recently-ish that have the same kind of main character: Sherlock, Elementary
(Sherlock again), Mad Men
According to IMDB's trivia, Lie To Me
ran for 3 seasons and was canceled in 2011 but is apparently being filmed now again for release in 2015. I have never heard of a show having a 4 year hiatus! What's up with that? Wikipedia says nothing about a new season so I find myself doubtful.
ANYWAY, (and just imagine how many items I might have been able to check off my to-do list instead of this!) it's interesting to realize how much you reveal about what you really think through your involuntary facial expressions, twitches, gestures, etc. Scary, really, because you might think you have a poker-player blank face but chances are that most people can pick up on what you're not even realizing you're putting down.
I don't think it takes a scientist to catch/see most of these kinds of things. I think the basic requirement is that you're human. We all make the same faces, the same expressions and react in universal emotional ways. I suspect it's more that we don't trust ourselves to believe what we see, especially when it doesn't jive with what we want to think. And I think most of the time people are simply not paying attention.
What do you think? And don't lie to me.
I saw that.
56 MINUTES OF FAME
The podcast interview is up! Chuck put it up late last night Seattle time, and I didn't see it until this morning at work where, of course, I didn't have time to listen to it.
If you would like to find out just how interesting I am, click here!
Note: the entire thing is just under an hour long, but I'm okay with you listening to it in pieces :P
If you prefer, you can download the app for SoundCloud and search for ChuckSigars and find it there.
SHE SAID HE SAID WE SAID
Being interviewed is weird. What makes it at least a little easier is when the interviewer is a friend. Yesterday, I was interviewed by a blog friend who asked me to participate in his new series of podcasts on people he knows "with interesting lives."
"Ha!" I thought..."I think you think I'm more interesting than I actually am."
But he persisted, and I agreed, since you know I HAVE been interviewed before, at least 3 times since I moved to Sweden, which totally makes me a professional interviewee, right? And I agreed because I trust him. I've been reading his blog practically since I started blogging myself back in 2003. He was a commenter on a blog called Real Live Preacher, that no longer exists, though the man behind it is still writing on Tertium Squid
. The commenter's name was Chuck Sigars
and as I was interested in the things he had to say, I went to HIS blog and read all his stuff and I've continued to read his stuff ever since.
He lives in Seattle and has a lovely wife and 2 grown children, one of whom is married and living in Texas with her husband and little boy. Because he lives in Seattle and I live in Sweden, half the globe away, I figured there was little chance we'd ever get to meet, but at one point his daughter (pre-marriage and pre-baby) was living in Boston, and he happened to be visiting her at the same time I was in the area for work. So my mom and I went to dinner at their house and met Chuck and his daughter Beth, and her then fiancé Cameron. They were delightful. I wish I could have met his wife as well.
Chuck is more of a REAL writer than I am, a real live writer, if you will. He writes a newspaper column and has several books of his essays and works, and now the new podcast series. So I was flattered and nervous to think that he thinks I am interesting enough to be interviewed.
We had estimated it would be about 40 minutes but we ended up talking for nearly 2 hours, because after only a few minutes it wasn't an interview any longer. It was a conversation. A conversation with a friend. I don't know about Chuck but I could have talked longer.
I AM interesting, as it turns out! haha! So is he, so it made for a nice interlude. I'll let you know when the finished podcast is available online and you can go listen to how interesting we are when we're talking.
I am half-stressed about Christmas, but only because I've mislaid half my motivation.
I just finished Christmas shopping for my brother and his wife, and all I have left is to check the balance of presents for my kids, and see if I have enough stocking stuffers and I am DONE. Oh, and maybe one more thing for Anders...though I probably have too much already and he, poor guy, doesn't know what to get me, since I have a very short wishlist this year, and practically everything on it has to be ordered from the US, which is not usually his forte when it comes to Christmas present shopping. He's more the wait-until-Dec-22-and-panic kind of guy.
The house is half-decorated, thanks to Martin and Karin and her boyfriend Alex, who she put to work this evening. There are still several things to put up, but I'll worry about that this weekend...when we get the tree. The tree always takes forever to decorate, because it's huge and we have so many tree decorations. SO. MANY.
Karin asked if we were getting a smaller tree for the playroom this year (I still call it the playroom, even though it's supposed to be the family room now, because guess what goes on there, still? PLAY. Games. At least the ones that come with a screen and a console). I said I didn't know. Maybe not. Did she care? I'm not sure, because I can't remember what her answer was. Blocked it out, most likely.
She's going to be gone this weekend anyway, going up north with Alex and his brother and his mom and HER boyfriend to an island off the coast near Karlskrona, so she won't be here to help pick out a tree anyway. You can be sure I'll make her pay for it by giving her the bulk of the tree-decorating work when she gets home!
I haven't started cookies or cards or my annual holiday letter and those are the things I am feeling least motivated about. Even though I have already received our FIRST holiday card from someone who obviously has motivation to spare (thank you ozswede
My office is decorated. thanks to my 2 officemates, who hung advent stars all over it while I was gone last week. Very festive!
Tomorrow is the AWC julbord dinner and Friday morning I am going to Karin's school to watch her perform in their Lucia concert for the students because I'm missing the show for the parents which is Thursday night, and Friday evening is our work Christmas party which I am sort of dreading. The weather, which was sunny and clear and crisp for days (days spent mostly indoors working) turned ugly overnight and now it's freezing and raining and blowing and sleeting, and it's supposed to get worse by Friday. No actual snow yet, just the threat of it.
This weekend, in addition to tree-chopping and decorating, I am supposed to be interviewed by an old blog friend (old as in how long we've been blog friends, no reflection on either of our ages, ahem) for his podcast series. I will let you know when/if it goes up...he may find I am much more boring than he suspects.
I only have a week and a half left of work and then 2.5 weeks off. Now THAT I'm not half-anything'd about. Bring it on!
THINGS I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE SURE YOU KNOW
If you are American, you DO NOT NEED to capitalize every word of every sentence or bulletpoint. Please stop it. We are not German.
You DO NOT NEED to add 2 spaces after every period when you are typing. That went out with the typewriter. Stop it.
If you are walking somewhere, anywhere, DO NOT stop in the middle of passageways or doorways or anywhere where someone might want to get through or past you. MOVE OUT OF THE WAY.
If you are driving and turning, there is NO NEED to slow down to a complete STOP before you turn.
If you are driving on the highway, and are about to take an exit ramp, you DO NOT NEED to slow down BEFORE you get on the ramp. That is what the ramp IS FOR.
If you use the last of the toilet paper, CHANGE THE ROLL.
Also, there is rarely any need to REPLY ALL. Stop it.
This has been a public service announcement. Feel free to expand.
HOME SWEDE HOME
I bet you thought I'd NEVER get back! It actually felt like longer than 2 weeks away. Weird how time distorts. I had a lovely week of vacation at my sister's new (temporary) place in Connecticut, just hanging out and enjoying the American bounty of Thanksgiving and family. Sarah and Mom and I binge-watched the entire first half of Season 1 of Outlander while it snowed outside. We avoided the malls on Black Friday but ventured out Saturday and things were just as crowded. Eek!
Mom and I left Sunday for Boston and I had a good week working and good evenings shopping and eating and chatting with my mom. Did my best to bolster the American economy for sure, and now I have the majority of my Christmas shopping done, which is good because I suddenly feel like I am running very short on time! Got home mid-day yesterday and was SO glad be home. Nothing is as perfect as your own bed, your own shower, your own sofa, your own family and your own awesome husband cooking dinner.
But no rest for the weary: Today is Martin's birthday! Hip hip hurrah! My firstborn baby is ...gasp... SEVENTEEN today. Can you believe it? I cannot believe it. Happy happy happiest of birthdays to my wonderful son! He got his presents this morning, the cake is in the oven and family coming for dinner in a few hours.
Still to do, soonest: bake Christmas cookies, decorate, get a tree, decorate, write Christmas letter and cards, finish shopping, mail things. How am I going to get it all done in time?? I certainly won't get any help out of Martin, he's deep in his birthday present game.
WHAT I'M THANKFUL FOR
husband, children, mom, siblings, relatives, friends, home, job, health
Internet, airplanes, electricity, clean water, refrigeration, antibiotics
authors, publishers, books, magazines, paper, ink, alphabets, teachers
humor, sanity, reason, patience, talent, organization, foresight, love
unpredictable endings, unsolicited compliments, comforting routines, witty repartee, conversation starters
turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, green beans, black olives, pumpkin pie
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