ANOTHER LAME BLOG POST
I'm reading along in a book I bought a couple of weeks ago, part one in a new paperback trilogy by one of my favorite fantasy authors (which continues the story from several other trilogies...she's prolific) and about 100 pages from the end, the story abruptly switches from one page to the next. I stop in confusion and read back, then forward. It's a complete jump in wording, in the middle of a sentence and in the context of the story. The page number on the left is 564. The page number on the right is...629.
65 missing pages in the middle of the exciting, nearly end of a story!! I had to buy a copy on Kindle so I could read my missing pages, to the tune of another $8.99. ARGH. I wrote an email to the bookstore where I bought the paperback asking if there was any way I could bring it in and get a refund, and also warning them to check their stock so no other poor book-buyer would be disappointed but they haven't answered me. VERY annoying! Maybe I should write a letter to the publisher, too.
I was at a 2-day course today and yesterday: Being a Leader When You're Not a Boss
. It was really informative, interesting and thought-provoking. I got a lot out of it and am glad for all the useful tips for use in an office where I'm not officially a team leader or anything but have some of that role due to my seniority and experience. And maybe some day I WILL be team leader...who knows?
I've officially started Christmas shopping (haha! I just wrote "chopping", which is what it is doing to our bank account) and plan to continue tonight. I've got my brother's boys done, though I still need a birthday present for little Jakob. And I've got my niece done as well as her birthday, and my grandmother and my mom! Of course, Martin's birthday is in a little over a week, and I've got nothing... EEK!
Martin got his SAT scores back yesterday and he did fantastic! He's in the top 13% of the scores for all the people who have taken the SAT in 2015! Good thing that SAT scores are good forever, as he's also now decided that he wants to take a gap year. IB is enough to deal with and then his driver's license next summer...trying to manage all the college and scholarship research and applications is making us both crazy and he thinks he'd rather work for a year and then go. I have, obviously, mixed feelings about it, but it's his decision... so long as he actually does get a job and doesn't sit around playing video games for a year :)
Yesterday, after the course let out, I went and had dinner by myself in Malmö and window-shopped a bit, and went to the bookstore that I had heard went out of business but is apparently back open and just fine, and then went to wreathmaking. I missed it last year because I was in the States, and it was as fun as ever. And now I have a big, beautiful Christmas wreath on the front door, complete with 2 little pumpkins, pussywillows and gold-tinted pine cones!
Is 8 p.m. to early to go to bed? I am SO tired. Sitting in a room all day for two days and paying attention to someone the entire time is exhausting.
SOMETHING TO BE THANKFUL FOR
Things That Got Forgotten at Our Annual Thanksgiving Potluck Last Night
Late night snacks
Group photo for posterity
People That Were Not There, Sadly
Barbara (work trip)
Alex (Angie's oldest boy, better things to do)
My first family
We were supposed to be 21 people but ended up 20 after Camilla called last minute to say she was sick. I took Friday off in order to be able to deal with shopping and cleaning and preparations and it really helped make things less stressful. Karin had the day off too, so we even got some practice driving in as she drove me to the florist and the liquor store and the grocery store. When we got home I baked three spaghetti squashes in a row and did the last of the cleaning. Karin helped me with tidying up the front garden bed. Anders picked up the rental tables and chairs and fixed the Advent lights when he got home from work (despite it being still another week until Advent).
On Saturday, I even slept in. Then we organized the tables and set them and decorated. Anders did the turkeys, then the gravy and then the mashed potatoes. Just after noon, it started snowing...just corn snow at first but then it started getting fatter and flakier and by the time guests were arriving it was a nearly a blizzard. Martin and I went and picked up his friend Claudia and Karin's two friends Alice and Wilma, as she was just home from refereeing all afternoon and had to shower. Karin lit all the candles and she and Martin helped greet and put coats away.
Thankfully, even though Camilla couldn't come, Kelly had outdone herself and brought 2 side dishes AND three pumpkin pies, so we didn't miss the green veggie side dish that Camilla was supposed to bring.
What We All Made & Served & Enjoyed
Sage & onion stuffing
Green bean casserole
Tossed green salad with cranberries and walnuts
Southern sweet potatoes with baked pecans
Canadian mashed sweet potatoes
Pumpkin pies with whipped cream
Chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies
I found the unopened jar of black olives on the kitchen counter when we were cleaning up. And the chips and popcorn I had thought to serve later in the evening never even got put out, because everyone left pretty early thanks to the snow. Karin and her friends went for a long evening walk in the snow, and then took Angie's dog out. The men watched a Lions-Packers football game on Apple TV while we women cleaned up and then sat and chatted in the kitchen. The kids came in and out, and most of them watched a movie. It was just as if we were in America! It flashed by, quite frankly...all that lead-up and preparation and anticipation and just like that, it's over and now it's nearly December. One more week and it's here, along with winter.
I give thanks every year that we send out the invites for this dinner and our friends are so thrilled to respond. The ones who can't come are so sad and the ones that can are so happy. Everyone's excited to make things and cook things and bring them. We've been hosting this Thanksgiving potluck every year for 18 years and I hope it never gets old. I hope our friends are always looking forward to it, just like we do.
Am so unmotivated when it comes to writing right now. Karin is sitting behind me and I said, "Karin, help me write a blog post. What should I write about?"
One guess what her answer was.
It's not a super busy week and work has been EXTRA slow. We are having a mandatory department meeting this week. I suspect some sort of re-org. Urgh. I'm taking Friday off, though, so that will help, haha!
It's hard to come up with things to write about that don't have to do with my weight, my weight loss, my menu plans, things I'm not eating, etc. BORING.
If you want something good to read, go here:www.herebejulia.com/2015/11/miss-marple-and-me.html
Martin and I started the college application process last night for U of Toronto, just to see what we could find out about what is needed and promptly got bogged down. Also: GAH, so expensive. Just for applying! APPLYING. They should pay YOU to apply, and THEN you pay to go there if you get accepted. Thankfully, you can save and come back later. I suspect it's going to be a save-and-come-back-later several times before he is through. URGH.
Karin just informed me that one of her boobs is smaller than the other. Uh huh, I answered. One of your feet is, too. Now we're getting back to the topic she asked me to write about from the beginning: her! hahaha! She emptied the dishwasher and cleaned off the recycleables from the kitchen counter today when she got home before we did. We were late because Martin and I were at the grocery store and Anders was getting his hair cut. KARIN GOT HER HAIR CUT, TOO. (and it looks very nice, though much the same...). She was going to cook dinner as well, but we foiled her plans by calling Anders from the grocery store and asking him what he wanted to do for dinner and he sent us a list so he could make pasta with crayfish tails and garlic. YUM.
She's laying on the floor behind me, with her feet propped up on the desk, but she moves them every time I try to tickle them. She has very long legs. Last week, she came and had lunch with me at the office, which was the third time in the past couple of months. So nice! We sat next to each other at the table and one of my colleagues made a comment about how much alike we look. We turned to each other with the same expression on our faces: disbelief. Raised eyebrows.
I've never thought that Karin looks much like me, actually. But later, we were looking at my high school senior portrait, and I'll be damned. Flat-iron the hair and stretch it and there she was. Slightly different nose, slightly different chin, but whoa Nelly. Weird. What do you think?
When I can't think of anything to write, lists are always handy. I already did two things, so here's three!Three things from my to-do list
Get Martin's US passport renewed
Mail my US voter registration application
You guessed it...clean the Tank of Death & DespairThree things I've already done today
Watered plantsThree books recently added to my list of books to buyOrphan Train
by Christina Baker KlineOur Endless Numbered Day
s by Claire FullerRadiant
by Karina Sumner-SmithThree really good books I've read recentlyUprooted
by Naomi NovakBryony and Roses
by T. KingfisherMy Real Children
by Jo WaltonThree things I've thought about a lot lately
How our choices change our lives
When to take the remaining 10 vacation days I have to take before April 1st
AgingThree places I still really want to travel to
St. Edward's Island
IrelandThree things I can't seem to eat enough of
Warm smoked salmonThree people that always brighten my day
AnetteThree reasons having my husband home is awesome
He fixes things
He cleans things
He cooks thingsThree people I'm envious of right now
My mom (for being at my sister's)
My sister (for having my mom at her home)Elizabeth
(for being unfailingly wonderful)Three things I'm looking forward to
Thanksgiving Potluck next weekend!
Christmas vacation and a week with my brother in Germany
SpringThree things with no context or reference
PUTTING WORDS TOGETHER
Martin has to come up with 1-2 topics for essays to use for college and scholarship applications, but everything I suggest is apparently stupid, lame, pathetic, uninteresting and/or eye-rollingly bad.
Some of the topic ideas I came up with in under 15 minutes:
- Growing up bilingual in a dual national home
- What watching TV shows with my mother has taught me
- How Tumblr has changed my outlook on life
- Places I've traveled to and which was my favorite and why
- My mom didn't have to write a college essay or, how things were better before
- Having a conversation that doesn't have to do with goals, responsibilities or expectations
Oh wait, Martin came up with that last one.
As far as I can tell, college entrance essays only have to be 1-2 pages long, around 650 words, which isn't all that much. And you can write about anything you want. It's like writing a blog post, right? You don't always have to have an idea of what you are going to write about before you start. You just sit down and start writing. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not, but at least you have something to start with.
My eagerness to help is being seen as annoying and interfering, so I apparently need to take a step back. If Martin wants to go to college, he knows what he needs to do. I can't do it for him. All I CAN do is remind, and help, and nag, and suggest, and...well, PARENT. If I don't do those things, am I failing as a parent? If he doesn't do the things necessary to get to the place he claims to want to achieve, have I failed as parent? How much of what your children achieve or do is on your head as a parent? If they're not motivated, is it YOUR fault?
I have friends with over-achieving, academically-motivated wunderkinds
. And I have friends with slacker, lethargic, layabout kids. And I have friends with kids that fall in between those two extremes. As far as I can tell, they are all caring, helpful, supportive parents; doing their best to raise their kids to be productive and valuable citizens of the world. They're not doing anything different from the things my husband and I are doing. They're providing all the environment and opportunities and challenges and support that will best help their children make something of themselves. Some of their kids are going to college and some of them aren't, even among the first group.
Of course I WANT him to go to college. I think it will be great for him. I think he will appreciate and grow from the experience, and of course, it doesn't hurt that it will increase his chances of getting a better-paying, more stimulating job in the long run. But, he doesn't HAVE to go to college. He doesn't even have to move out of the house.
However, if he DOESN'T go to college, he has to get a job and pay rent, either here or in his own place. He can't just sit around and play computer games and mess about on Tumblr and Snapchat and SMS all day. That's not how the world works. Because the world works. At least the vast majority of it does.
I wasn't the world's most motivated kid, when it came to grades and school. I was pretty average. I was good at English and art and social studies and poor in math and hard sciences and gym. I don't remember how much my parents pushed or nagged or motivated me when it came time for me to do the things I needed to do to apply for college. Maybe it's a difference between Sweden and America. I get the feeling that in the US, more kids are on a path to do the expected things: finish high school, go to college, get a "useful" degree, get a well-paying job, get married, have kids, support their parents in their old age... at least more middle- and upper-class kids. Here, there doesn't seem to be the same kind of imperative or urgency to check off those items on your Game of Life list.
And that's fine. Like I said, he doesn't have to go to college. But he says he wants to. He wants to study in Canada or the US, but to do that, he has to first do the things required to actually get there, and like I said as well, I can't do them for him. But I can remind, and help, and nag, and suggest, and...well, PARENT to assist him in getting there. And I can write about what's happening and how it makes me feel and say, look at that: 857 words.
All you have to do is begin somewhere. Every essay is just a story. It doesn't matter if it's perfect. It's NOT easier said than done. It's just a matter of making a start. And if you don't like the result, sit down and start anew, until you ARE satisfied. Just think how it will shut your mother up.
THIS JUST IN
I only have a minute to write...we're going to watch the last but one episode of Downton Abbey tonight. It's already nearly 9 and I'm ready to go to bed right after. In fact, if we weren't going to watch it, I'd probably go to bed now. How lame. All day today I kept thinking it was Wednesday and tomorrow is going to be such a let-down since I have to live through it AGAIN. Stupid brain.
Anders' mom was moved to a short-term care facility (assisted) this morning and she's perked up so much the change is remarkable. She commented that she was really happy to be surrounded by people, and I suspect that loneliness and depression was a great deal of the problem. I hope she continues to thrive and that they can find her a good spot quickly. She's ready to move and that feels really nice, to know that she's ready to make the change.
I find myself not wanting to eat things I love because I know how detrimental they are. It's both sad and gladdening to me at the same time. But today, I had spinach soup and it was so good! I've been on a bit of a soup kick lately. And I really, really miss chicken noodle soups. Why doesn't Sweden have any?? This is the list of soups you can get here: yellow pea, mushroom, asparagus, tomato, goulasch, lentil, and Thai chicken. Sometimes you can find minestrone. But it's rare that you find any kind of broth-based soup and NEVER any with noodles. I wouldn't have thought I'd miss chicken noodle soup so much, but I do. And I KNOW I can make it myself, but it's not the same.
Anyway, the spinach soup I had today reminded me of my most favorite soup ever: my dad's chervil soup. YUM. Why don't I make it? I am lame. Must get motivated and dig out the recipe.
Okay, that's all, gotta go!
HOW YOU DOING?
Megsie reminded me, in the comments on someone else's blog today, that I am actually a blogger too...though you wouldn't have guessed it by the radio silence here lately. Just lots going on, and other things on my mind, and two kids who hog the computer all evening, all weekend, so that I just don't bother.
Anders is in China for 2 weeks (1 week down) for work, and his mom is in the hospital, not doing well, and tomorrow Martin and I have to get up at the crack of dawn (not even, since it's so damn dark here nowadays) to drive to Malmö so he can take the SAT. Karin is playing in a soccer tournament until midnight tonight and will get home well after I am hopefully asleep, but knowing me, I won't be able to actually fall asleep until I hear her come in, so I'll be tired and grumpy tomorrow.
The test is approximately 4 hours long so I will have a book and my iPad with me and since we'll be close to the central station and I just looked up Starbucks' opening hours there, I'll probably head over to have breakfast and hang out on their sofas while I wait for him. I suppose I could go home in between but I'd only have about 2 hours before I'd have to head back anyway, and I can't go to the hospital to visit Märta since visiting hours there don't start until afternoon.
My boss is on maternity leave, I've lost nearly 7 kilos, Martin is turning 18 in ONE MONTH, Karin might have a new boyfriend, I couldn't find any spaghetti squash at the store today and I have several events to plan: the AWC cookie exchange, our annual Thanksgiving potluck dinner, a Tupperware party and a jewelry swap. So much spinning around in my brain.
I know several people, including Mystic Vixen and Wonderings & Wanderings are doing the Nablopoomoo but I don't see how I can get motivated now, since it's already a week in. Maybe I'll do Decblopoomalingo instead. Or maybe I'll continue my hit or miss record. No one reads this thing anyway, do they?
Two disgusting things I did today
Cleaned the hair trap under the bathtub
Emptied the overfull food garbage bag
Two yummy things I ate today
Kelda Skogssvampsoppa (Forest Mushroom Soup)
Two things I wrote in text messages to my children today
Two things that made me happy at work today
Praise from my boss
A good resolution to a potentially dramatic issue
Two things I saw while driving today
Storks in the fields
Gorgeous fall leaves
Two chores I did the moment I got home today
Laundry (2 loads)
Emptied the dishwasher
Two iPad games I played today
Seven Little Words
Two things I checked off my to-do list at work today
A Nigerian case study
The final draft of a magazine layout
Two things I DIDN'T get done today
Cleaning the fish tank
Defrosting the freezer
Two things that made me happy at home today
Anders talking to his mom on the phone and reporting back that she is feeling better
Petting Morhippan who was sleeping on Martin's legs
Two things I learned today
An LJ friend is moving to Sweden by the end of this year!
Eating tacos cost way more WW points than they're worth (so I abstained)
Two magazines I purchased yesterday and read today
Martha Stewart's Living, October 2015 issue
Martha Stewart's Halloween 2015 issue
Two things I watched today
Episode 5, Season 1 of Orphan Black
Jimmy Fallon's Do Not Read Lists
Two things I have on my calendar for tomorrow
A doctor's appointment
Lunch for my boss (who is going on maternity leave after next week)
Two things I have on my calendar for later this week
Lunch with my daughter on Friday
Eating the mystery gourd I bought the other day in the hopes it's spaghetti squash
SLIPPIN', SLIPPIN', SLIPPIN' INTO THE FUTURE*
Oy, where did that week go? Where did all the weeks go? I know, I know, I talk about how times flies all the time; you'd think I'd be used it by now, but no, it's equally surprising ALL THE TIME. All the time that disappears.
It's been raining and/or drizzling for days on end and my hair is reacting as you'd expect: like a crazy person. It's not just frizzy. It's SUPER FRIZZY. If I let it air-dry even a little bit after a shower, it looks like chestnut dandelion fuzz. Good thing it's not bird-nest-building season because I'd be in danger, if so. Prime material, I tell you.
So this weekend is already nearly over and where did the time go? Anders came home Friday, but I didn't even see him until nearly 11 p.m. because I was out to dinner with Debbie & Camilla. It was really fun but Camilla, that instigator, brought Tupperware catalogs and who can resist? Not a confirmed Tupperware addict like me. You'd think I already HAVE all the Tupperware, but there is always something that you need. Heh. We had a yummy sushi dinner and a lot of laughs and good conversation. I feel very lucky to have these two friends in my life!
Yesterday and today the time has mostly gone to cleaning house and laundry, and walking. And reading and playing stupid games on the iPad. I spent several hours purging my closet and dresser of clothes I never wear. I filled three bags and put aside a pile of smaller sizes to check on again in 6 months. All my clothes look very neat and tidy! Getting rid of old clothes is ridiculously difficult sometimes but it went pretty smoothly this once. There are still plenty of things in my closet that I can't wear anymore, that I can't seem to part with, but they still give me pleasure to look at instead of guilt, so I don't have much remorse in still holding on to them. I did part with a horrendously 80s Christmas sweater, though. It was the only thing that was a tough call, haha!
Anders did some quick research today on flights to Germany for our vacation between Christmas and New Year's with my brother and it's actually looking like it will be MUCH cheaper to drive. Even with gas prices, the ferry, and a possible overnight on the road. Yay for 11 hours in the car both ways in winter weather! NOT. All the millions of geese flying south over us in the past month are honking out a hard-winter-ahead warning. John says they've already had snow at the house and the mountains are white. Eek! Winter is coming.
And then, like everything else, it will zoom by and before you know it, spring will be here again! Zooooooooom.
IN WHICH I START AND MANAGE TO KEEP GOING
I'm sitting here, staring at the keyboard, wondering what to write about.
Should I talk about all the walks I've been taking? Martin has gone with me for every one of them, at home, and at work I have a colleague that goes with me. The work ones are usually only 15-20 minutes and then when I get home, I try to go right out immediately and do another 15-45 minutes. I walk as fast as I can but I get shin splints so easily that sometimes I can't go as fast as I'd like.
It's getting chillier these days, though the sun has still been shining most of the time. When it's shining, we head up the hill into the fields to take advantage of as much vitamin D into our heads as we can. It's a long dark time here when the light goes.
I'm doing very well on WW, for those of you keeping score at home. Which, what? I'M the only one who should be keeping score at home! I'm pleased with my progress, and motivated to continue. It's only been 3 weeks, though. One of my colleagues at work goes to the same meetings I do (she's actually the one who recommended this particular place/coach). I was worried she would think it was weird when I showed up, but she was thrilled. She's a skinny little thing because she's been doing WW for just over a year now, but wants to keep on top of it, and not start slipping back up. So, it's nice to have someone to talk to and ask questions of, since I haven't told many people at work that I'm even going to WW or why (though that is not only reason, obviously).
But! I actually had a friend ask me this past weekend if I had lost weight and I was so surprised because at my weight, I can't believe someone would be able to notice such a small difference. I was very pleased to be able to say YES! It was at girl's night dinner with yet more work colleagues/friends. It's the second time this group has gotten together, though we were missing one, and because we all work together at the same company, the conversations devolved into a long vent session about work, which...while definitely amusing and interesting and unifying, was also a kind of trap I hope we don't fall into every time we get together.
The woman who hosted had a lovely old home and had decorated it beautifully with touches of turquoise and green and brown everywhere. She had a fantastic menu as well, and I was drooling over the appetizer and the dessert. SO GOOD. The dessert was a chilled raspberry soup with a dark chocolate truffle in it and a vanilla cookie stick. And this was the appetizer:
Feta & Melon Salad with Pomegranate Seeds
(makes 4 portions)
1 Galia melon
2 TB olive oil
Sea salt (flingsalt)
1 dl chopped, fresh basil
1. Peel and chop melon and avocado in cubes, put in a bowl.
2. Crumble feta over, add olive oil and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Remove seeds from pomegranate. Dice basil.
4. Plate the salad in small piles, strew seeds and basil over top.
She also served little oven-toasted bread slices with sautéed chanterelle mushrooms on top, with the salad, but to be honest, all I cared about was the salad. Everyone else had seconds on the toast. I would have eaten a whole bowl of the salad if there was any left. It was DELICIOUS.
We're in our second week of Anders being gone and I'm so over it. I hate these 2-week trips he has to go on. Though it's nice to have the bed to myself, haha! He has a work event the evening he gets back and I have a dinner out with Debbie & Camilla, so it's not like we'll be extra romantic when he gets home. :D He'll probably be asleep by the time I get back from dinner.
Things I need to do
1. Buy a pumpkin for Halloween
2. Get Martin motivated about college research
3. Practice drive more with both kids
4. Get the new Internetbank set up so I can pay bills (alternately: wait for Anders to get home)
5. Finish updating the AWC admin site
6. Clean the Tank of Death & Despair
I started re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird yesterday. We read a book ABOUT Harper Lee for book group at the beginning of October, and right before, Martin and I watched the movie. But it's been years since I've read it, though it's always been on my Top Ten List of Favorite Books. I've probably read it at least half-a-dozen times but it does not get old. It's just so, so good. It makes me sad all over again that she chose never to write another book* after its success. What a shame!
There! A whole post! Sometimes it really is all about just sitting down and starting. Which I should know, since it's already been proven to me in the past 3 weeks that it really is all about just taking that step and starting. *sigh* Drrrr.
*I'm not counting Go Set a Watchman since from what I understand from reading about it, and the opinions of several friends who have read it, is that it is basically a first draft of Mockingbird and not really a finished book in itself. Though they both said they liked it and thought it was worth reading. We'll see. I have such mixed feelings about it, and I definitely DON'T want to tarnish my love for Mockingbird.
I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn
bushes have roses.Abraham Lincoln
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