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zird is the word [userpic]
I wrote my first Christmas letter in 2002. We had just built and moved into this house, Martin turned 5 and Karin was 3.5. Anders had turned 40 earlier in the year, I was working at Ericsson, and he had just returned to Tetra Pak after a 2-year stint at ABB. I wrote in MUCH more detail about the things that we did each month than I do now...where did I find the time and energy to gather all that information? My Christmas card now seems to have settled into a rut.

I wrote this year's Christmas letter this weekend, detailing all the things that have happened this year, the highlights for our family...what we're doing, where we've been, who's been visiting. I looked back through the calendar and through my blog (which, sadly, takes about as long to do) and listed all the important things that I thought would be of interest...

And then I thought, but are they? Does anyone care about Christmas letters anymore? Are they still a thing? If you are reading THIS, then you probably already know all the details: Martin's in his second year of college, Karin graduated high school and got her driver's license. I'm still active in the AWC, Anders built a kayak, blah blah blah.

For ME, at least, it was a good summary and look back through the major events of the year, and a way to collect and contain it all for posterity. And it's a way to personalize, sort of, the physical cards I do send out, at least the photos I put on the back are, I suppose. But it's not really personal in the sense that it's not a handwritten PERSONAL letter to each of the admittedly fewer and fewer people that I send cards in the mail to each year for Christmas. It's just a rundown of what we've been up to. I even post it on this blog, and on FB, so it's even LESS personal, in that sense.

Now I find myself second-guessing the whole thing. I like having the year-end summary to look back on, but maybe it's time to rethink, and maybe, retire? Sending and receiving cards itself as a tradition, is so far on the way out, that it seems kind of silly to worry about whether I should write a letter to stick in some of them or not. I'm guessing that most people, like us, send only few cards, and maybe only to the people that send to them, if that. It feels like most people have given up writing or sending letters at ALL, ever, not just for the holidays.

The cards we received were always such a big part of the Christmas traditions when I was growing up. We always found ways to display them, and they added a nice touch of visual Christmas cheer to the house. We saved the fronts of the cards and recycled them as gift tags the next year...I STILL do that, actually. There were always a few that stayed in the box year after year because they were just too pretty to use. I suppose it's one of those things that is slowly dying out as more and more people move to digital greetings and stop sending paper cards. I already realize that everyone on my list of people to send cards to is around my age or older. I'm willing to bet that my children and their children won't send holiday cards at all.

Part of it is the high cost of mailing anything, part is just time and resources. And I suppose, it's one of those things that is good for the environment: using less paper means cutting down fewer trees, which is a good thing. But it makes me kind of sad to think that I haven't written a real letter to anyone in over a year, probably longer, and haven't received anything other than a couple dozen Christmas cards each year, apart from my mom who is awesome at sending cards for birthdays and other holidays to all of us...she puts me to shame.

So, I don't know. Should I keep doing this or not? Part of what is great about getting letters and cards is that you know the person writing and sending it is taking TIME and energy to think of YOU. It gives you a real sense that you are important enough to someone for them to spend the time to write you a letter or card. Traditions change and fade and that's what this one seems to be doing. I just hope there are other traditions growing and coming that will take on the job of communication and news and keep us connected with our distant friends and family.

This week: AWC julbord on Wednesday, hosting book group here on Thursday, dinner with Debbie & Camilla on Saturday. Good things to look forward to!
mood: pensive
music: Poema—Wool Coats

zird is the word [userpic]
No slug day for me today, though I did manage to sleep in a bit. I wake up early nearly every day with a headache starting or raging, and have to decide whether I can fall back asleep or must take some medicine after getting to the bathroom. It feels like it's almost always either dehydration or tension causing the problem and despite drinking plenty of water, it happens again the next night. UGH.

I read for awhile, checked emails, and then got up around 10 to shower and dress. I had a full mental list of things to do today and I got almost all of them done, so I'm feeling very accomplished now at 9 pm. Holiday preparations that have to be done before our trip are in full swing: Christmas letter written, half my cards written and addressed, some presents ordered, others decided upon, and even a few wrapped! I don't have lists this year, and we are keeping things very simple and inexpensive, but still some stuff has to be done.

I also did 2 loads of laundry, dishes, cleaned out the fridge, AWC web work, and ironing. I hate ironing. I know people who love it and think it's soothing, but I've always found it to be boring and fruitless. Things around me like to wrinkle, I swear. It was only 2 not-terribly-big tablecloths from Thanksgiving, at least, so it didn't take me that long. I sent a bunch of emails that needed to be dealt with, and wrote some lists so I don't forget anything important that has to be done before the holidays commence.

My life is rather boring these days, isn't it? I don't seem to find much to write about, and what I do find is trivial in the extreme. The only times I was even outdoors today were to fill the bird feeder and take out the trash: not exactly the stuff of scintillating blog posts. Anders went to his mom's place in Malmö to set up her little tree and advent lights, and Karin was working at the cafe and has another party or something tonight. We hope she'll make an appearance early enough tomorrow for there to be daylight so Anders can change the tires on her car to winter ones.

I need these down days, though, so even if my life is boring, I'm okay with that. Work is still a little slow, and I'm definitely not complaining, since the whole year up until just a few weeks ago has been a bucking bronco ride of too much work. It's so dark and dreary outside that I'm really glad to see all the advent lights and Christmas decorations that have sprung up around the neighborhood. We had ours up a week early because of our Thanksgiving party. Only 21 days until the solstice, thank goodness. I can't wait for the light to start returning!

Since I was so productive today, I think I can reward myself tomorrow with a slug day. We'll see! Maybe I'll find a Julmarknad to go to, instead.
mood: accomplished
music: Louise Hoffsten—Lou Lou

zird is the word [userpic]
Our Thanksgiving dinner guests arrive at 5 pm and we're sitting down to eat around 5:30...and by 9 pm some of them are already getting ready to leave: a dog at home that needs to be let out, kids that have activities early Sunday morning, two that were fighting colds and needed to head to bed. By 9:30 it was just my two best friends and two husbands (mine included) that moved our bloated turkey bellies to the living room and sprawled on the sofas. It was nice to have an extra hour with just a couple of people to chat with...the dinner itself is so hectic and then there's clean up and dessert-making and just like most big parties, I feel like I don't get a chance to really talk or catch up with everyone.

Yesterday I spent the bulk of the afternoon baking cookies. I really only bake cookies around the holidays. It's because I LOVE cookies and if I make them and they're in the house, I WILL eat them all. I have zero cookie willpower. The big cookie bake was for the AWC cookie exchange which is tomorrow. We had 21 people signed up but one dropped out when she realized how many cookies that meant she had to bake (and I forgave her because she has a brand-new baby AND a 4-year-old even though there are at least 3 other women signed up who are in the same boat). We bake 6 cookies for each of the participants, not including ourselves, so that meant baking 114 cookies. That's a LOT of cookies!

I didn't want to make anything that was too labor-intensive, so that ruled out any sandwich-type cookies (which would have meant 228 cookies, at which the mind boggles and refuses to move on) or cut-out cookies or well, anything that required more than rolling dough in balls and plopping them on cookie sheets. I decided to make my grandmother's gingersnaps, which were a favorite of every single relative I have on my mother's side and a particular childhood favorite of mine.

My grandmother made endless batches of gingersnaps and chocolate chip cookies and whenever we were visiting, her cookie jar was always full, and I don't remember ever being told I couldn't have a cookie, though I'm sure my mom would remember differently. I can still see her tall glass cookie jar with the pointy lid, crammed full of sparkling sugar-coated gingersnaps. When I moved to Sweden, my grandmother filled tins and mailed them to me for Christmas for a few years, two cookies each carefully packed in plastic wrap and then tucked two by two into bubble wrap. Even the ones that arrived in pieces, despite the painstaking packaging, were hoovered up by Anders and myself. Not a crumb went to waste!

I haven't made them in a really long time, but I was sure I still had a bottle of blackstrap molasses somewhere in the pantry. I pulled out the ingredients and piled them on the kitchen counter...sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, flour...where the heck is that bottle of blackstrap? I checked the pullout with the baking stuff on it...nope. Checked the back of the pullout with the bottles of oil and vinegar and such...nope. Checked the top shelf where more baking stuff is...nope. DARN IT.

So, I used the "dark syrup" that you can find here in Sweden (they also have "light syrup", don't ask me what the difference is...the dark variant is only a few slight shades darker. It's NOTHING like "real" molasses, especially blackstrap!). I made 3 batches of gingersnap cookie dough, and then, to clear some space, I started putting back things and suddenly realized that jams and syrups were on a BOTTOM pullout shelf, which I promptly pulled out and there at the back was my bottle of blackstrap. DOH.

Molasses doesn't go bad, does it? I just googled that and apparently no one knows. As long as it's stored correctly in a cool, dark place, it can last for years. Anyway, it was too late and I wasn't about to pitch three batches and start over so I just drizzled a little bit on top of the dough and mixed it in. It smelled and tasted fine, so maybe I can get away with several more years? haha!

The entire cookie baking process took about 3 hours or so. Rolling balls of dough, then rolling them in sugar and placing them on the cookie sheet and baking them for 9 minutes. I made 11 dozen cookies. The whole house smelled heavenly. It was like being transported back to 1970s Michigan, running in from my grandparent's back yard to grab a cookie. While I was baking, I finished reading the book group book, too, so I feel very on top of things right now. Tonight, after work, I packaged them all in to cups with a red ribbon and a label on top.

Tomorrow is the last AWC meeting of the year, and I'll come home with 114 OTHER kinds of cookies to enjoy until we leave for the holidays (at which point I'll freeze any that are left...HAHAHAHA). Since I'm the web editor, I've already been receiving recipes from the other participants and I'm already looking forward to snickerdoodles, chocolate crinkles, cinnamon cookies and something called Red Velvet Cake Mix Cookies.

My grandma's gingersnaps
from Bernice Pangborn

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda

Cream butter and sugar, add molasses. Add egg and beat well. Sift dry ingredients together and add to mix. Roll into round balls about 1-inch in size and then roll in sugar. Bake at 375F for 9-10 minutes. Makes approx. 3.5 dozen
mood: accomplished
music: Sara Hickman—Learn You Like a Book

zird is the word [userpic]
The whole house smells delicious. Anders is taking turkey 1 out of the oven right now. Tomorrow he'll cook turkeys 2 & 3 in the final preparation for our annual Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving as everyone refers to it nowadays) potluck dinner. It's our 20th anniversary of having Friendsgiving with our best friends. 20 years!

Some of them are the same friends that came to the first one. Some of them have joined along the way, and some are fairly new to the celebration. As we have done every year, Anders and I provide the turkey(s), mashed potatoes, stuffing (in the turkeys) and gravy. This year I've also made spaghetti squash. Everyone else chips in and brings the rest: green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, salad, dressing, black olives, drinks, pumpkin pies, and various other dishes. We'll have profiteroles and berry cobblers on the dessert table this year, too. Yum yum!

It's funny to think that after I came to Sweden nearly 21 years ago, I would meet people that I would celebrate the most American of holidays with for twenty years. At that first Friendsgiving, Martin was not quite a year old. We were the only couple with a kid at that point. Since then, most of our friends have had kids and each year we've watched them grow up. First it was Friendsgiving with friends, then with friends and their babies, then their toddlers, then their pre-teens, and then their we're winding around the other side of that cycle: the kids are starting to drop out, stay home, go out and do their own thing. Martin is missing our dinner for the third year in a row. Karin is staying through dessert, but then heading out to an evening with friends. In another year or so, I can bet that we'll be back to just friends.

We had a head count of 22 people when I sent out the menu list several weeks ago, but since then one teenager changed her mind and decided she would rather spend the weekend in Denmark with her boyfriend, and one friend gave me a heads up this evening that both she and her daughter are sick...they weren't canceling yet, but she'll has to see how they are tomorrow before they can decide if they will make or not (if not, they are sending their dish with someone else) we might be down to 19. Ah well, more leftovers for us! Maybe in a few years, when the kids have all bailed, we'll be back to 8 or 10 adults and only have to make TWO turkeys!

I called on the way home from our annual AWC wreathmaking workshop and talked to Martin and my mom and my grandma (!) on Thursday. My grandma, who is 102, was thrilled to hear that I was on the phone when my mom told her who was calling, but couldn't really hear anything I said, so my mom had to repeat it all. I was afraid that I wouldn't see her again after the summer she turned 101, but now I'm pretty hopeful that I'll get to see her again at Christmas. :)

A few things I'm thankful for right now:
Much-needed good news coming down the line for my sister and her family
Apps that allow me to keep in touch with my family cheaply and easily
Gainful, fulfilling employment
My health, and that of my loved ones

I didn't send out holiday greetings this past week online, but I had them in my head and in my heart. That's the other thing I'm thankful for: you.
mood: thankful

zird is the word [userpic]
I'm reading a fantastic book. A book about books, what could be better? It's fascinating. It's technically about the worst library fire in American history, when the Los Angeles Public Library burned in April 1986, but it is also about the idea of libraries, the history of them, the purpose and updated use of them and how they've changed from a modern-day viewpoint, and the love of books in general.

The first chapter, which details the spread of the fire and what it consumed, and how much it destroyed actually almost brought me to tears. The thought of all those things gone. Gone forever. Not just books, but manuscripts, magazines, photographs, films, ephemera and so much more. All the library fires and book burnings that have taken place over the history of mankind, encapsulated in an inferno that is brought vividly to life in the pages of another book. When the author talked about the reactions of the librarians who were watching the fire from outside, I almost cried again. It says a lot about me, I think, and a lot about a lot of people, that such an event could be so devastating. In one chapter, the author decides to burn a book to get a feel for what actually happens when a book is set alight. She found the thought of it and the action of it indescribably difficult. She talked about how even throwing away a book was nearly impossible, just like the idea of throwing away a living plant. It resonated so much with me. I remember my visceral reaction the first time I found out about altered books...technically art, but O! the desecration. And I laughed to think of all the poinsettias I've hung onto for MONTHS after the holidays because I couldn't just throw them away. Now I rarely buy them, just so I won't have to be faced with discarding them just because the holiday they represent is over.

The author, Susan Orlean, described her own childhood visits to the library with her mother, and I was instantly transported to visits to our libraries (and there were many, since we moved so much). Coming home with a big pile of books was such a delight. Checking out favorites (D'aulaires' Book of Greek Myths especially) over and over. The special crinkle of the mylar/plastic covers. The little pockets in the back with the crookedly stamped dates of check out and return. I don't remember any specific library building; I suspect they were the rather generic base libraries that were available to us military brats. I also remember very fondly a bookmobile that was dark and cozy and full of wonderful finds, but I cannot for the life of me remember WHERE we lived when it was a thing in my life.

I took the kids to the little library here in Flyinge when they were small, but not that was fine for the kids, but there was only one shelf of books in English and unfortunately, they were invariably the types of best sellers and classics that I had either already read or had no desire to read. I could order books from the library system, but it was often easier to just buy my own, since my tastes are pretty specific, and eclectic. It kind of makes me sad now to think that my children, despite being surrounded by books in our house and all the reading we did together, probably didn't have the kind of childhood library experience that I remember.

And in keeping with my frequent thoughts about dying, she makes reference to an expression from Senegal which is used to politely say that someone has died: "his or her library has burned." Yes! That is exactly what happens. Your whole life, and all you have writ upon it, your own hearth-fire, gone out, burnt up, disappeared.

This blog is an attempt to put the fire of my life in a place where it won't go up in smoke when I do. Having it printed into book form each year is another attempt. No one wants to disappear and even if my life is, ultimately, insignificant, it's still full of things that were important or funny or topical or interesting...hopefully, to someone. I worry not just about my own books but the books I own. I want someone to love them after I've gone. I suspect I can't trust my family...none of them read that much. But I hope that they will make their way into the homes of people who will also read and reread and treasure them.

I bought the book on Kindle, looking for something to fill the gap between the excellent book I finished last night (Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver) and the what I've heard is another excellent book that is for book group on December 6 (Educated by Tara Westover), thinking that because it was non-fiction, it might take me a little longer to read. I typically don't start the book group book until about a week and a half before our discussion; too far in advance and it won't be fresh in my mind to talk about.

I'm only 30% of the way through this book, but I can already tell that I'll devour it's that good, and that interesting. I'll have to fill the gap with more than one book at this rate. Good thing she's written more books for me to read!
mood: cheerful
music: Nespresso machine

zird is the word [userpic]
I think a lot about dying these days. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I'm over halfway to a hundred? Maybe because I wonder what my family would do without me? Maybe because I see signs of decay in so many places. It's in the news. It's in the illnesses and diseases and diagnoses that drop like bombs around you. It's a worm in the brain that whispers what if. What if?

What would I do if I lived forever anyway? Even if inevitable, it's a squirmy uncomfortable contemplation. All the accumulated flotsam of my life, both soothing and cluttering to have and to hold. Even with my fairly frequent purge rampages, this house, this life, is full of stuff to deal with later. Stuff everywhere! Long live stuff!

Reading: Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver
Watching: The Marvelous Mrs Maisel
Eating: Turkey and spinach sandwiches
Going: Open house last night at the Museum of Sketches in Lund with a bunch of fun colleagues and my husband
Planning: Friendsgiving dinner this coming weekend
Anticipating: being home for the holidays!
Working: almost two weeks of manageable workload; a much-needed breathing space
Family: Karin got her driver's license! We think we have figured out paying the rest of this year for Martin!

Our Marrakesh trip got abruptly canceled...the travel agency we booked with went bankrupt and sent us an email to say so sorry but your trip is off and here's the name of the insurance company handling your claims, but don't bother trying to contact them (I did) because they are not answering individual's inquiries and more info will be forthcoming at some unspecified time. I called the hotel in Marrakesh and the man I spoke with informed me that the bookings had all been canceled and the travel agency hadn't paid their bills for 5 months. I contacted the airline and our bookings were nowhere to be found, despite the fact that we paid for everything and received all the booking information. So sad, too bad, maybe we'll get our money back, after the banks and the vendors and the creditors, maybe not. My friend offered to rebook the trip with a different agency but I can't afford to spend the same amount (or more) again since even if it was a great deal, it was still a lot of money, so have to wait until/if we get the money back. UGH.

Martin finished a metal box for his 3D design class that has a hinged, sectioned lid that makes this great creaking sound as it drops into place. His teacher liked it so much he gave him top marks even though apparently it didn't actually fulfill the assignment requirements. Last night, or rather, early this morning, I had a nightmare that Martin and I got into a huge fight because he had taken up smoking and I was so horrified. I yelled at him and cried and lamented what a sweet child he had been. None of it worked, and then I woke up. I'm glad he's doing well in school and that he's thriving there and all, but I miss him. Even though there are things, of course, that I don't miss, I miss HIM. Because we are going to the US for Christmas, he won't be home until next summer, if then, at the earliest. And even though I get to see him now for the holidays, I won't see him HERE for a very long time. Of course, when he gets here and realizes his sister stole his bed and switched it for hers (which was ours), he'll probably turn around and head back.

My to-do list is growing by leaps and bounds. I need to go grocery shopping and get the turkeys. I need to clean the house. I need to set up the bills for payment. I need to call my mom. I need to get out from under piles of laundry (in the works). I need to get Martin's prints framed. I need to purge some more stuff. Stuff, I'm coming for you!
mood: busy
music: none just me and my busy brain

zird is the word [userpic]
I find it so inutterably hard to read the news these days. It feels overwhelming and awful and as if we are just buried in an unending heap of horrible that goes on and on. I know that it's NOT all bad news, but the scary stuff so often outweighs the positive that I really struggle sometimes to find the good things. I read Hans Rosling's book Factfulness a month or so ago and he talked quite a lot about how the human brain is wired to respond to bad news and drama and that we, as humans, tend to focus on those things naturally. Hard to fight a biological impulse, but I still keep reading and watching and looking for the light, even on the days when I just want to throw my hands up and bury my head in the covers of my bed.

I find myself skimming headlines and not reading further because I get so furious and so frustrated and so sad. Why WHY would the Chinese government legalize the use of tiger and rhino parts for medicinal use? DO THEY NOT UNDERSTAND THERE AREN'T MANY OF THEM LEFT? Why WHY would anyone go into a place of worship and shoot people? Or a school, or a shopping center or a concert hall or ...or... or WHY? Why WHY would Trump...never mind. There's simply no useful or believable or reasonable answer to any of the endings of that question. I WAS happy to read about this, though I wonder what the heck they're going to DO with it all, if it works.

Maybe that's why I gravitate so much to Instagram these days. It's SOOTHING. My Instagram feed is mostly full of artists: gorgeous photos, paintings, drawings, illustrations, ceramics, embroidery, sculptures, mixed media, metal, wood, textiles. Scrolling through a feed of beautiful images helps to take the edge off all the things that make me feel enraged and helpless. Playing my Spotify list does the same thing. Reading helps too, but not in the same way.

Right now, blogging, writing, posting seems to be the last thing I think about. I LIKE writing, but I feel I'm writing in a bit of a vacuum so often. And I know that a) so what, who cares, write anyway and b) there are PEOPLE in this vacuum with me, reading. Caring. Maybe commenting. Maybe just nodding and clicking "like". That's not why I should be writing. I should be writing to clear out the things in my head that shouldn't stay in there swirling around, making me crazy. I should be writing because it's a powerful way to share the things that I think are important, or funny, or true. It's a way to REMEMBER. Because good grief, there's too much going on in my life, in the lives of the people I care about, in the world, for me to remember every detail. Posterity doesn't just happen all by itself, you know. It needs your help! You have to WRITE IT DOWN. Otherwise posterity just shuffles off into the past and disappears in a puff of memory.

My friend Chuck wrote a post today about being the archivist for his family and talked about how satisfying it is to be the memory-keeper. I fulfill that function in some ways for my family, too. I write this blog, which misses a lot, but catches at least SOME of it. I print it into books every year so that my kids (and their kids?) will have a record, so something will be PRESERVED. So posterity won't just pass me by, whistling. And one line he wrote really struck a chord: "I started a project that I’ve always been pretty sure would have to be started after I died, when I had more time."

I have some of those projects. I bet you do, too. Even just writing a post, some days, is a project.

But, you know what? I don't have more time. Neither do you. None of us do. We only have the time we have. Don't let the bad news of the day suck you into hopelessness. Those projects won't wait forever. And neither will posterity. Someday, Trump will be history, and someday the tigers will too, sad as that may be. Someday, we'll all be history but maybe there will still be someone around to read what we thought about it while we were making it.

Good things about this week so far: Lots of compliments about Karin at work; getting some scholarship applications submitted for Martin; the vegetarian lasagna that Anders made for dinner last night, served with delicious artichokes; the variety of birds at the feeders this morning: a bouquet of pheasants, a pair of jaunty magpies, a shy blackbird, several obstreperous sparrows and finches quarreling over space on the suet ball holder; the digital communications team's Halloween group costume as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (and the magic mirror and the huntsman and the witch with the apple and the evil queen!); cracking my boss up with a hilarious suggestion for rewriting a sentence about being a brand ambassador to make it more exciting (you had to be there).
mood: moody
music: Robert Wells—Wells' Rag

zird is the word [userpic]
The fall frenzy has started...each week has more things scheduled than the one before and I'm not even in choir this year.

On Friday I went with two colleagues and another friend to the sing-along showing of Hair at Spegeln in downtown Malmö. It's the second sing-along I've been to there, and it was just as fun, though a different feeling since it is such a different movie. I love's one of my all-time favorite musicals. I grew up listening to the soundtrack from the play because my dad loved musicals, too. I knew every word to every song before I was in high school. I remember looking up all the "naughty" words from one of the songs with one of my friends when I was 16 or so. Unfortunately, my two favorite songs from the play are not in the film version, but while watching, I kept hoping I was mis-remembering and that they'd soon show up so I could sing them, too. Alas, no. One of the colleagues that went with us is a Swedish woman who said she ALSO grew up listening to the soundtrack and she also knew all the songs by heart. So peculiar! I didn't realize it was such a globally well-known musical, but apparently I was wrong. She's younger than me by quite a lot, and she was much more familiar with the film music, but she ALSO knew my missing favorites by heart :)

There's a weird dichotomy watching Hair. The feeling of the film and the music is so joyful and yet the film ends on such an awful, shocking, tragic note. You don't exactly come out of it bouncing, if you know what I mean. I'm going again, this time to see Grease, this coming Friday, with Karin and my two best friends. Should be even MORE fun!

This week is almost full of stuff: WW on Monday, AWC meeting on Tuesday, Book group on Thursday (I'm almost finished, re-reading A Prayer for Owen Meany, which I read long enough ago to have forgotten most of), and the sing-along on Friday. Plus we have dinner at my sister-in-law's on Saturday. Full week, indeed!

Karin left for Stockholm this morning...she's going up to work at a security tradeshow that starts tomorrow. She's helping the events team with the booth building and demo setup and comes home sometime on Tuesday. It's her first tradeshow. I told her to take comfortable shoes! But she said they have to wear steel-toe boots during the build; hers were ordered through work a few weeks ago.

I have spent part of this weekend relaxing; have had some weird problem with my right hip the past two weeks...really hurting and no discernable reason why. It's been much better the past two days, so I'm not sure whether to call for an appointment with the naprapat or not. Will see how the next couple of days go. It hurts still, to sleep on my side...have been wondering if our mattress is too soft. I haven't done anything strenuous that would have pulled a muscle, so it's weird. It doesn't feel like nerve pain; it's more in the muscle and possible the joint. UGH. Aging sucks.

We've been working with Martin to get his financial situation straightened out and a handle on exactly what his budget, expenses and income are. We've gotten everything figured out to make sure he can pay off this current term but are still concerned about how he will manage to pay for next term. It would be great if he can at least finish out the year. We are helping him with scholarship searches to find suitable scholarships to apply for, and he has some possibility for more student loans through the US government, but I hate for him to take more loans out there, when he already will owe a great deal of money to the Swedish government. He loves the school and really wants to stay if it's at all possible, but we knew it was going to be difficult to do all 4 years there. Maybe he'll have to go down to part-time, or finish his liberal arts classes at a community college or come back to Sweden and finish school here, somewhere. It's a lot depending on what scholarships he can get...and he has to do the work to apply for them, too. It's a shame that all this financial stress gets added on top of regular school stress. :(

My best friends and I were discussing a few weeks ago the possibility of taking a short trip somewhere together, for fun, next year, during the February school break. We've been sending text messages to each other all week with suggestions for places: Amsterdam, Budapest, Bucharest, etc. Then Debbie said, hey! What about Marrakesh? And sent the info for a non-expensive charter trip that she found online. Well, okay, why not Marrakesh? It's not too hot in February, and it was definitely affordable, so we booked it yesterday. Under 4000 kronor each for Sunday through Thursday, including flight, hotel, breakfast, luggage and a camel ride! Karin, of course, is wildly envious and has now extracted a promise from me to go somewhere "cool" with her next. :D

I've been to Morocco before, actually, back when I was 15 or so. My family was in southern Spain for a long vacation when we lived in Europe and we spent one day in Tangier. We did ride a camel, and donkeys, and went to the bazaar. I remember we had to get cholera shots before we went and they were really painful. It was the first time I'd had a shot with a gun, instead of a needle. I'm sure it will be much different going there now, as an adult. I've already been reading up on website with info on things to know before traveling to Marrakesh. I'm not looking forward to some things already (haggling, tea, crowds) but I'm sure we'll have a fun time, no matter what, and it definitely gives me a much-needed thing to look forward to in February!

We turned our giant sunflower that bloomed in the front garden into roasted sunflower seeds today. Side note: did you know what sunflower seeds are actually fruit, not seeds? We had cut off the sunflower head several weeks ago and it's been drying in the laundry room ever since. Yesterday, Anders and I pulled all the seeds out of the flower head (at least 1000 of them!) and then soaked them in salted water for 8 hours. This morning he roasted them in the oven and they came out great! I'll be having them in salads and he and Karin will snack until they're gone...assuming there are any left when she gets home from Stockholm!
mood: cheerful
music: Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat—Lucky

zird is the word [userpic]
Get a good night's sleep.

Sleep in a little bit, but not too much.

Move your bowels.*

Take a hot shower, then add a blast of cold water. Get as clean as you can. Brush your teeth. Clip your nails.

Eat a nourishing breakfast that includes avocado, egg and fruit. Plus V8 if you can get it.

Send your best friends a message thanking them for a lovely evening the night before.

Start a new book (or continue a good one. Or finish one that makes you regret it's over).

Get some things done. Cross things off your to-do list. Or make a to-do list if you don't have one. Crossing things off them is SO satisfying.

Check the tomato plants and bring in the ripe ones.

Get the laundry done, since it can't be avoided forever.

Lure the cat next door over with kissing noises for pets and cuddles.

Go to the grocery store; make your daughter drive. Buy food you like, things you need, and something good for dinner. Artichokes! Chicken! Find a sale on toothbrushes and buy 10 of them for the charity event your club is organizing for Christmas. Swing by Skarhult castle and buy fresh farm eggs and potatoes.

Unload groceries and put them away. Get some more things done.

Take your daughter for a walk in the sunshine. It's over 23C out today! Enjoy the fall leaves and autumn colors, the warm air, the horses in the fields, the cattails in the rushes, the goats in the pen by the last house on the street. Take some pictures for Instagram #goatsofinstagram, of course. Make goat noises; they're unfailingly funny.

Call your mom and talk for an hour, just to catch up on stuff.

Start dinner but hand it over happily when your husband says, "Want me to do it?" Never say no to that question! Fresh artichokes, fresh chicken thigh filets marinated in Turkish yogurt and grilled, roasted potatoes with garlic, sauce made from the yogurt, sweet Thai chili sauce and mushrooms. Eat happily, burp loudly.

Call your son and talk for awhile, just to catch up on stuff and deal with financial issues. Make plans for another call tomorrow since there's more to talk about. Drive your daughter to the next village over for a party/sleepover. Give her a kiss goodnight. Listen to your excellent Spotify playlist all the way home.

Enjoy myskväll with some snacks and a Pepsi Max. Your husband is watching hockey on TV...maybe you can persuade him to watch a movie instead. Or maybe you can get some more stuff done! Or you can read; that good book is waiting!

Write a post.

Don't stay up too late. Give your husband a kiss goodnight. Get a good night's sleep.

*More conducive to a good day than you'd imagine! :D
mood: satisfied
music: Birdy—Skinny Love

zird is the word [userpic]
So much of everything lately makes me roll my eyes or grit my teeth. I seem to be seething, constantly. Like so many others, I am horrified and frightened and angry as all hell by the news, by the news, by the unending, ungodly, unbelievable news, that you keep thinking can't get worse, but then it DOES, but I feel mute. As if what I say doesn't matter because it doesn't change anything, even when I know that's not true. There are so many things stuffing up my brain that nothing can get out, despite all the pushing.

I don't feel like I know the right things to say: to my daughter who's struggling with the reality of a long-distance relationship. To my son, who's probably not going to be able to finish out this year of college since the money is running out. To my sister, who I don't talk to enough and don't know what to say to, when I do. And in the midst of all the anxiety and pressure and stress, there are good things. Of course there are good things.

Two weekends ago, Anders and Karin and I left late Saturday afternoon, after Karin got off work at the cafe and drove 3 hours north to Kalmar. Kalmar is a city on the east coast of Sweden, with a bridge that leads from it to the island of Öland. We've been to Öland, and in fact, we've been to Kalmar but it was years ago, when Martin was a baby, and we were just passing through. This time, our purpose was to see the da Vinci exhibit at Kalmar Castle before it closed.

Karin, who is really good at this sort of thing, found and booked an AirBnB for us, and it turned out to be a delightful, cosy and spotlessly clean tiny apartment that looked like something out of a magazine, right near the main walking street and downtown area. We got there around dinner time, unloaded and then set off to find a place to eat dinner. We ended up at an Asian buffet place which was nothing to write home about, but did the job, then went back to the apartment and watched "Svenska Nyheter" until we were too tired to stay up any later.

On Sunday, we had a fantastic breakfast at a downtown hotel, and then headed to the castle. It was a perfectly gorgeous, mild autumn day. The trees are turning and people were out walking their dogs. We walked along the edge of the Baltic Sea and over to the castle entrance. Kalmar Castle is lovely and in a great shape, with large halls perfect for an exhibition with lots of large items. The da Vinci exhibition was all about the artist's inventions, and there were tons of them. Lots of prototypes to walk around, touch and read about, huge posters of his drawings and notes, and several really well-done, interesting films and then, of course, the rest of the castle, with all its history. We really enjoyed it.

Afterwards, we went back into the center of town and had lunch at Pinchos (tapas with a circus theme, haha!) and then we drove home again. A perfect little weekend outing. It was much better than this past weekend, when I was down with a bad cold, and then cracked the back of my back molar off. AUGH.

Today, however, I was at the dentist, and they fixed it in half an hour. And I managed to get through the whole thing without gagging once. Yay, me!

I'm trying to keep my mind on positive things: what I'm looking forward to in the near future includes dinner with my best friends this upcoming weekend, going to two different musical sing-a-longs in the next couple of weeks, and figuring out how to be positive for the other people in my life who need it as much as I do.

If you have positive things going on, please share! It helps to hear about good things, no matter how small or trivial they may seem.

Other good things: Karin registered to vote today. My brother has a job again. The weather has turned warm enough that my tomatoes might finish ripening. There are more green peppers coming, too. And both my rosebushes are blooming again.
mood: contemplative
music: TV in the other room

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lizardek's obiter photos
lizardek's obiter photos

Feeling generous? Be my guest!

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

Abraham Lincoln

obiter snippets

Layout thanks to dandelion.
Findus the cat as used in my user icon and header is the creation of Sven Nordqvist.