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zird is the word [userpic]
I LOVE MY LONG WEEKENDS
I've taken all the Fridays in October off, and I'm really happy about it, though, to be honest, I could just as happily take all the Thursdays off as well. Except there is too much to do at work, so that would probably just be more stressful than not. We're sitting in a really un-fun open landscape situation at work and it's really getting me down, so I'm squeezing every moment of satisfaction and relaxation out of my weekly day off that I can, including rolling over and going back to sleep, reading a LOT, and getting things done around the house as I feel like it.

I had a massage on Friday, for an hour and 15 minutes, which was divine. I think I could have a neck & shoulder massage EVERY day and it wouldn't be enough. I came home and did laundry and Karin stopped and picked up Thai food for us for dinner, so I didn't have to think about cooking. I had gotten cinnamon buns for dessert, since it was Kanelbullensdag here in Sweden. :)

Yesterday, Anders and I went and picked up the bureaus and night stands, and bought two bedside wall lamps. We stopped and saw his mom as well, since we were in the neighborhood, and now I have a date to take her shopping next Friday (with Karin as well). I was supposed to have dinner with Debbie and Camilla Friday evening, but it ended up getting moved to today, and then canceled completely because Camilla is sick. The furniture was all delivered in flat packs, so we have to assemble it all but we're putting that off until the room is painted. We're going to pick out the color on Tuesday after work as Anders has taken next Thursday and Friday off to finish painting it, so hopefully we will be able to move back in next weekend! (fingers crossed)

Other things I did this weekend: worked on AWC membership stuff, bought some throw pillows and 2 children's books by my favorite Swedish children's author, started a good book (sci-fi space opera), cleaned out the fridge, defrosted the freezer, caught up on John Oliver's show, talked to Martin for over an hour, went with Anders to pick up river rocks from a friend of his for the yard project he's in the middle of (yes, as well). The weather has been quite chill, but we had a lot of sunshine this weekend. My roses seem to think it's spring again, as they have started blooming madly. No complaints here!

Nothing exciting, but I felt like I accomplished a lot. And I'm posting, so even though it's a what-I-did recap, it's better than nothing, eh? I seem to have lost the knack of writing about anything substantial most of the time, but that's fine, as long as I'm writing SOMETHING. This week coming is pretty open...just choir on Wednesday, about which more later, and the trip to pick out paint. It's going to be gray, but WHICH gray is the question. Anders is color-blind, so EVERYTHING is gray to him. He argues that therefore I don't need to accompany him to pick out gray. He can manage that himself. :D I gave him the hairy eyeball for that.
 accomplished
mood: accomplished
music: Billy Joel—My Life


zird is the word [userpic]
I CHEST WANT SOME NEW BUREAUS
October came whistling in over the weekend with wild winds, cold temperatures and lots of grey cloud cover. It's COLD now. I've switched to my winter raincoat and a scarf is a must now. The trees are mostly losing leaves but some have turned...raggedy gold and brown. The bright red that signals autumn hasn't struck since there haven't been any frosty nights yet. With global warming, it may be a thing of the past here...I suspect the trees will be bare before the temps drop that low, anyway, at least at the rate the wind is whirling.

Anders is in the middle of spackeling and sanding in our bedroom; renovation in full swing! He decided against re-wallpapering, and is planning on painting the walls. We've decided on a medium-gray but still have to go pick out the exact shade. And he's repainting the trim and the ceiling, as well as planning to put spotlights in, which means trading out our ceiling fan which has a lamp, for one that does not. The one we had was a pain because it was the same switch that turned it on and then 2 pull strings that controlled whether the light was on/off and whether the fan was on/off (and at which speed). It was hard, for me at least, to reach the pull strings since they were in the middle of the ceiling directly over our bed and I had to climb up on it every time to turn things on and off that weren't on or off at the switch.

Since much of our furniture was pre-loved when we got it, and most of the furniture in our bedroom was more than 30 years old, I am not feeling super guilty about buying new stuff for once. I tend to use things until they completely wear out, or donate them to charity if we are done with them and they are still in good shape, and for once, I wanted to have something fresh and new. I've been scouring furniture sites looking for the items that matched the ideas in my head, for weeks, and finally was able to talk Anders into going furniture shopping with me on Saturday.

Our tastes are VERY different and it's often a struggle to find a compromise when it comes to interior decorating. He tends toward Scandinavian design with minimalist flair and blond wood. I'm much more into antiques, dark woods and details. I had found one dresser that I absolutely loved but I knew as soon as I saw it that he'd never go for it: it was carved all over in floral patterns and the fronts of the drawers were stained in different colors. Here's a link to it. It's GORGEOUS, but it's way too crazy for him. It was crazy expensive, to boot. Plus, it's such a showpiece that you'd have to design the entire room around it. Ah well.

We went to SIX furniture stores and I had actually gone to a couple of others a few weeks ago, scouting ahead, as well as hunting online. We wanted dressers that matched, and night stands that matched, not necessarily the dressers, but at least each other. I couldn't find ANYTHING else I really liked. At one point I made the mistake of looking at American furniture sites like Crate & Barrel and Pier 1 Imports and bummed myself out, because they had things I loved, but there was no way we could afford them OR afford the shipping (or afford the guilt for shipping on top of the buying of new stuff). I looked at used stuff too but choices were so limited and styles so wack that I gave up rather quickly.

The best night stand I found was this one: HAHAHAA Who BUYS this stuff? It has a TAIL! And a drawer! I sent the link to Martin and he immediately asked if I could order 2 extra ones for him and his roommate. :D Not at that price, kid!

The problem with the night stands was that we had super specific requirements and couldn't find anything that fit all the criteria: 65cm high, at least 38cm wide, have a shelf and/or drawer under, and not have anything lower to the ground than 18cm to make room for the stupid plug outlets we have on the wall. Oh, and preferably be stylish in white with oak trim and/or top, since the dressers we found were in that color/material combo.

We found 3 different dressers at Ilva (a Danish furniture company) that we liked, and ended up making a decision the same day and ordering the winners, and then a set of (slightly different) night stands, because they were having a huge 20% off everything sale. We also ordered an upholstered storage chest from a different store to put under the window, to hold bed linens and extra pillows. I'm quite pleased with our choices and I can't wait until everything is finished. Now, if you'll excuse me while I go poke my husband until he gets off the couch and back to sanding.
 accomplished
mood: accomplished
music: The Other Ones—We Are What We Are


zird is the word [userpic]
SPEAKING OF WHICH
Years ago, a friend who was a teacher asked me to speak to her English students about my thoughts and opinions of living in Sweden. I don't remember much about it, except that I stood in front of a class of high school kids and told them what my experiences were and answered their questions. My kids were small then, and I had only been in Sweden for a handful of years or so.

Now, I've lived here for nearly 23 years. My kids are, to all intents and purposes, grown and heading out on their own adult journeys. They aren't teenagers, they aren't in high school, and they speak English as well as I do. My life here has changed a lot, but to be honest, it's only gotten better. If I was telling those kids what my thoughts and opinions are of living in Sweden today, I'd pretty much be telling them the same thing I told those kids back then: I love it here. I have a great life.

Several months ago, one of Karin's old teachers from her middle school sent me a message and asked me if I'd be interested and available to speak to HER English class as part of their Language Appreciation Day activities. I said yes without hesitation because why not? I don't really have problems these days speaking in public and I wouldn't mind giving my thoughts and opinions about whatever she wanted.

She was never very clear about what exactly I was going to do, so I sort of thought I'd be speaking in front of a class like I did that one time years ago. She sent me a list of topics & questions that she had prepared and they were all about the role English plays in my life, my career and the world. I didn't write a speech or anything and figured I could wing it pretty well from her list. But when I got there, last Thursday, the setup was not at all what I was expecting.

It was interview speed-dating, y'all. With me as the speed date. Hrm. haha! Actually, there were 8 of us, plus 2 people on video who couldn't be there in person. Of the other interviewees in my room, one was a teacher at the school, too, who teaches ESL, one was a Vietnamese student at Lund University and the other woman was Greek but I never found out what she does for a living. We were set up at separate tables in two rooms and then for 2 hours we had first year gymnasium English students (16-year-olds, mostly), who came in groups and had 6 minutes to interview each of us, while taking notes on our answers.

Guess what questions they asked me? Yep, verbatim from the list their teacher had sent me in advance:
  • What is your job now? Can you describe it in a few simple sentences?
  • Where did you learn your English? Is it your mother tongue or a second or third language?
  • What is your attitude toward English at work?
  • How much do you encounter English in your career? How necessary is it in your job?
  • Knowing what you know today, what would you advise your high school self to do differently in regards to learning languages?
  • What do you wish your colleagues could do better with English?
Et cetera, et cetera.

Apparently the kids were supposed to come up with their OWN questions, but the vast majority of the kids read off these exact same questions along with the others that had been supplied to me. So I spent 2 hours mostly answering these questions over and over for the incoming groups. I was a little appalled at the teenageriness of the kids, to be honest. Most of them had fairly major attitudes, were borderline annoying, not prepared, and some were obviously bored and just doing the minimum to comply. There were a few that were motivated and asked their questions seriously, seemed genuinely interested in the answers and took notes. But most of them were metaphorically snapping their gum about the whole thing.

As kids in the Swedish system, most of whom have been learning English since they were 7 or 8 years old, their level of comprehension was a bit disappointing. Not all of them, of course, but enough that it was marked.

A few stood out though. Not because of their English proficiency or their attitude, but because they were the ones who HAD prepared their own questions. They were the bright spots in a long 2 hours. One boy asked me what kind of car I drive, and then asked if I liked driving fast on the autobahn when I told him it was a Volkswagen Jetta. One had a whole list of different questions: What did I think about Greta Thunberg? Vladimir Putin? Kim Jong Un? Trump? And what did I think we should do to save the sea turtles? (my answer: clean up our shit)

One group of guys were all from Kosovo and we chatted about that a bit, and the fact that their native language is Albanian. As soon as they found out I was American, they peppered me with questions about Trump and politics and what I thought about the Swedish prime minister, and the leader of the right-wing Swedish political party. And several kids asked me how many languages I spoke and then were surprised that I included Swedish, going so far as to ask me to prove it in Swedish and then being amazed when I understood them and answered back. My response: I've lived here 22 years, for pete's sake...it would be weirder if I COULDN'T speak Swedish.

Anyway, it was interesting. Not sure I'd do it again, but it was only 2 hours of my life and it did give me some things to think about. One in particular being that I am REALLY glad that I never pursued teaching with MY English degree! :D
 cheerful
mood: cheerful
music: Maroon 5—Memories


zird is the word [userpic]
LONG WEEKEND, SHORT THOUGHTS
I had a nice long weekend, with Friday off, and not a lot of plans, though I seem to have done things...apart from just cleaning house and laundry. I also noted yesterday that my shoulders didn't hurt like they typically do after a regular work day, so that was good. I still DID work, though most of what I did this weekend was for the AWC and not my day job, as we have our annual business meeting and board elections coming up on Tuesday.

My life seems to be a lot of lather-rinse-repeat these days. One year blending into the next without a lot of difference. I can't decide it that's a good thing or a bad one. I may be in a rut, but it's a nice smooth one, full of regular high points and not a lot of drama. Maybe at my age, being in a relatively constant comfort zone is a good way to spend your time. I don't know. I don't want to mistake comfort for complacency, because they aren't the same thing, in my mind.

It's just that lately I don't feel like there's a lot to talk about. Hence, the lack of posting. I can tell you about the good book I'm reading (Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell) or the last movie I watched and what I thought about it (Passengers, decent sci-fi) or how far we've gotten on our latest home improvement project (not far at all, alas), but none of it is really anything that makes me want to sit down and write.

I've never been one for drama, though. So, I think at least for me, the place I find myself in, while boring, is okay.

Things I did in the last three days that required being semi-social: lunch on Friday, AWC swap party yesterday, going to watch Karin's soccer game tonight (they won 15-1 and cinched the division championships). Anders was gone overnight last night for a "Gubbhajk" which literally translated means "Old man hike" and involved him and 9 of his oldest friends out hiking, cooking over a bonfire and renting a cabin (they're too old for tents, apparently). They've done it several years in a row now, and always have a nice time. He had perfect weather for it, as we had a beautiful weekend with clear late summer skies and slightly warmer temps.

The swap party was the third such event that we've had as an AWC activity, hosted by a woman who promotes non-consumption as a lifestyle. I didn't make it to the first two, and nearly didn't go to this one, because I knew that the chances of there being anything even close to my size were slim to none, and I was right. But I took some really old nice pieces that have been packed away in my closet for years and Karin went with me with a pile of her own cast-offs. She made out like a bandit, coming home with a big bag of nice pre-loved clothes, and happy that all of hers found new homes, plus she kept one of mine. (haha!) I was pleased that the stuff I brought also was mostly taken, and I did get a new funky scarf, so it wasn't a total write-off. Plus it was a fun get-together with lots of nice conversation, and the hostess even helped Karin make repairs to a pair of hiking pants that we brought along after she posted that she'd have her sewing machine available during the event.

It's a crazy week ahead, with several things to plan for. The AWC meeting on Tuesday, choir on Wednesday, and our office move on Friday which I have to be packed for by Wednesday because on Thursday I have the afternoon off to go speak at a high school in Eslöv about the importance of English (or any second language) in one's career. I'm kind of wishing I hadn't agreed to do it, but too late now. I was asked by one of Karin's old teachers, and back when asked me, months and months ago, it seemed far enough off not to worry about, but now suddenly it's here and I don't really have anything prepared. Eek!

On Friday, our department is moving to temporary quarters and we have to be out of our current location by 1 pm when the movers start, and work elsewhere for the rest of the day. Our boss has booked a couple of conference rooms for us to work in, or we can work from home if we wish, as we can't be in our new location until Monday. And next Monday will be a loss work-wise as well, since we'll be busy setting up and getting oriented in the new space. We get to do the whole move thing again in (hopefully) a few months, when our new building is finally ready, but we still don't have a move-in date for that.

I'm mostly ready for the week, I guess, and I just booked a massage time for tomorrow, so that will help. Now I'm off to continue reading my really good book, in bed. Happy Sunday!
 content
mood: content
music: Katherine McPhee—Lick My Lips


zird is the word [userpic]
IT'S A POST
God, I'm lame. I can't seem to get a post up to save my life, though I've thought about it several times.

Mostly, I've been reading, re-watching Glee with Anders and Karin, working like a crazy person because work=crazy, trying to avoid shoulder issues, perusing art on Instagram and various and sundry other small things that go into making up a day. None of which are earth-shattering or all that interesting.

I read a fantastic book last week, the latest by Bryn Greenwood. If you haven't read any of her books, do yourself a favor and go get them now. They are ALL SO SO GOOD. I am still thinking about the characters and the story a week and another book later. The Reckless Oath We Made is the title.

Karin and I went to see the Downton Abbey movie last night with a colleague and his sambo at the Bar Deco Salon of the Spegeln movie theater in Malmö where they serve food and drinks and you sit in giant over-stuffed armchairs with a very small audience. It was delightful. If you were a fan of the show, it was like watching a good, very satisfying episode. It was nice to see all the characters that we used to bingewatch together again.

We had another 9 zucchini during the past week plus several yellow squash. I managed to give most of them away but when I went out this evening to check, I saw there are four more of each on the way...oy! Next year, only ONE squash plant, thanks. The gift that apparently never stops giving! :D

I was really pleased yesterday after a major disappointment on Friday. I have a beautiful brass lamp in the living room that I got as part of gift package of furniture with my roommate from our boss a million years ago in our first real job after college. (It's a long story, but basically my boss had money to burn and thought we both did a good job and rewarded us for it in a ridiculously extravagant way that I'm still a little boggled by many years later on). It's quite large and very heavy and it came with a huge fan-shape pleated shade in a warm off-white. You can see it in this picture. It's a very AMERICAN lamp.

Several years ago, Karin and Anders were goofing around and a ball (that was not supposed to be played with in the house for this very reason) hit the lamp and knocked it over. The lamp itself was fine, but the shade was pretty wrecked. Even though the outside escaped damage, the inside lining was cracked in several places and it had come away from the top circle fixture. Anders patched it up with duct tape and glue and I put it back on the lamp and forgot about it...until about a month ago, when I was sitting on the sofa reading and I heard a really weird noise and looked up to see the shade slowly detaching from the top circle and sliding down the base of the lamp. Ack! When I removed it and inspected the shade, I knew it was past an easy fix. The whole thing is at least 35 years old and the plastic lining was in really bad shape.

I figured I could find a replacement...maybe but the fittings that hold an American lampshade on a lamp are COMPLETELY different from the Swedish ones, and I wasn't sure I could find a shade that would work, here in Sweden. When I tried to google lampshades, I couldn't find ANY that were big enough or the same style at all. Lampshades simply don't have pleats here. Next step was to google lamp repair, but that only gave me hits on lamp STORES, some of which claimed to also repair lamps, but NONE of which covered lamp SHADES. I took the shade with me on Friday after work to Malmö and checked one of the stores. Nope, I was told, no such thing and no one who does that kind of work that they were aware of. They only worked with repairs on the electrical parts of lamps.

I checked on Amazon and apparently pleats are still in style in the US, because they had plenty of them, ranging in price from $44-$60, but I couldn't figure out how I'd get it here...shipping would cost a fortune for something that large, even though it wouldn't weigh anything, and it would surely get stuck in customs to boot.

Back to the drawing board. I talked to Anders about the possibility of repairing the whole shade myself but trying to find a replacement material for the inside plastic lining was beyond us. I figured I might be able to remove it and remove all the glue around the fitting rings but if I couldn't find a replacement liner, I would have done a lot of work with nothing to show for it. Then I remembered a huge lamp store that we went to once that is about 20 minutes from our house. So I took the whole lamp and the shade with me yesterday to see if they could help.

And they could! The lady at the desk oohed and aahed over my lamp and took me upstairs where they had large shades and we found two that would work, though neither was pleated, nor quite as wide. The one I ended up with is white with a lineny texture to the fabric and glows a nice golden off-white when lit. She took off the entire armature of the fittings, gave the lamp a whole new set of Swedish fixtures and a new cord with a button switch and sold me a bulb with a built-in dimmer. All for a really decent price. She asked me where I was from and when I said Chicago was my last stop before moving to Sweden, she surprised me by saying she was from Chicago, too! Grew up in Northbrook until she was 23 and then moved to Sweden. I didn't get the full story, but her kids are also American citizens. Small world!

Anyway, so now I have a lamp, though it seems to be missing one piece that I have to ask her about, but I'm quite happy that my American lamp is now a Swedish one and back in place!

And that, my friends, is all the news that's fit to print.

Okay, not all of it, but hey, it's a post. Whaddaya want, wicker?
 complacent
mood: complacent
music: Joan Armatrading—Eating the Bear


zird is the word [userpic]
OUT OF SORTS
It's not good when your jokes about wanting to kill people and hide their bodies start to have an edge of real possibility to them. I'm just now realizing that maybe working all summer and only taking a minimum of vacation was possibly not the best plan for my mental health.

On Friday, one of my colleagues sent an email to a new co-worker titled "Useful links" and in it she gave the email list address that we use for a weekly internal eNewsletter. She accidentally included the email list address in the cc field of the email, so it WENT to all of the people on the list. We ONLY use this particular email list address for this one particular eNewsletter, which is actually an aggregation of blog articles that are submitted during the week and then automatically gathered by the system and sent together as one mail each Friday.

There are MANY employees at my company, all around the world, who are on this mail list because they want to receive this eNewsletter. But they don't necessarily understand which list it gets sent to, or why, when they get another email to it that is NOT the eNewsletter, they are getting it. Some of them are members of various group email lists, which are ALSO on the list that this eNewsletter gets sent to. So, they can't be unsubscribed from the list itself, because I would have to unsubscribe them from their group email list, which for (hopefully) obvious reasons, I wouldn't do.

Anyway, right after she sent the email, we starting getting a FLOOD of emails from people sending REPLY-ALL to the list, asking to be added to it. And THEN we got a FLOOD of emails from people saying they wanted to be removed from the list, because WHY were they getting all these emails?? Because people kept sending REPLY-ALL every time, the entire list kept getting all the mails. And NONE of the people asking to be added to the list seemed to understand that 1) they were ALREADY ON THE LIST, OBVIOUSLY, because they got the original email that was accidentally sent out to it, and 2) every time they sent their reply to reply-all, i.e., THE LIST AGAIN, everyone on the list was going to get their reply, too.

AUGH!

Also, GAH.

Also, Jesus Christ people, WTF.

Because I am both one of the list-owners, AND on the list, I got every one of the emails. After the first flood, I sent out an explanatory email about why this was happening, and telling people what the list was used for, gave them specific instructions on what to do if they wanted to be added to or removed from it, and asking them FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, stop reply-alling to the list address. The flood continued (plus funny emails from my teammates and various other colleagues thanking me for sending that one and commiserating about the fact that people apparently either don't read or are stupid, or both). Two OTHER people sent angry emails to the list shortly thereafter telling people to STOP REPLYING, ALREADY. Still, the emails continued.

And then I started getting emails (along with the other list owners) suggesting that we set the list to only allow list-owners to send to it. Except we can't. Because then the eNewsletter system won't work, because the email address the system uses to send the eNewsetter from is not an employee. It's an automated no-reply address.

The flood of emails kept up all the way until Tuesday afternoon. That is THREE days of people both not reading and not understanding how email lists and reply functions work, at a company that develops technology solutions. I went over to IT on Monday to talk to the CIO about what to do, and he told me HE had been getting flak from the management team about the whole thing, too. He sent me upstairs to talk to IT Operations about our options, which I did. They assured me they could figure out a solution and would get in touch with me once they had.

A couple more reply-alls trickled in this morning, but I think the madness has finally abated. There is still no word from IT on what solution they are working on or if one is even possible. But honestly, I am sometimes more than boggled by people.

The whole thing sucked the joy out of my life for a couple of days, because I was so frustrated by people's refusal to stop and think about what they were doing and continuing to do it, even after a cease-and-desist had been sent. I actually made a comment about not understanding why people were unable to understand how lists work, and might have used the word "stupid", in a reply to someone who just happened to be the last in a long line of people trying to be helpful with the suggestion that we already knew wouldn't work, and when she took me to task in HER reply that even though I was obviously frustrated, I shouldn't call people stupid, I gave up and just started deleting things without replying.

I was in a super-overcast mood yesterday, to match the weather which has abruptly shot from high summer down to hello autumn in the space of one day. Rain on the forecast for the entire week and the temps are 10 degrees lower than they were on Saturday. Even my boss noticed, and later, the more upset I got, the more I realized that it wasn't just the email list debacle that was getting me down, but the fact that I was in danger of reaching burnout.

I checked and I still have 22 days of vacation left. I'd love to fly home and visit my mom and see Martin, but realistically, it's not good timing right now. So, I'm going to take a pile of Fridays off and give myself several mental-health long weekends. I'm taking all the Fridays off in October, plus a couple of extra ones for good measure, and after that I'll STILL have 16 vacation days left. Maybe I'll put in for Christmas time off now, too.

Should I let the list know?
 bitchy
mood: bitchy
music: Aztec Camera—Oblivious


zird is the word [userpic]
SEASONAL TRANSITIONS
It's been really hot here this past week, a second summer, and while most people are rejoicing, I'm basically fretting about global warming and wishing my bedroom had a better cross-breeze...even though we have a ceiling fan, it's often stifling by evening when the whole day has been hot. Today, it's sunny and beautiful, and the skies are blue and there's a ruffly breeze. All the windows are open and that helps keep things cool, even though it's well over 80.

We are invited to an annual crayfish party tonight with friends that have been hosting it every August for year and years. Everyone brings their own crayfish to eat and something to share; often quiches or different kinds of canapés. This year, Anders decided to bake bread. He made two sourdough loaves, two Greek bread loaves and two huge flats of knäckebröd with a mix to seeds on top: sesame, flax, etc. I got to try the knäckebröd and it'd delicious: salty and crunchy and savory. Yum! I'm making a Zucchini and Chevre "tarte"...it's a recipe that I found years ago in a Donna Hay cooking magazine, and made once for Wonders. It's DELICIOUS. Phyllo dough, lots of butter, cream and eggs, FIVE grated zucchinis (from our own garden!) and chevre goat cheese. I have to start putting it together soon, since it takes ages to prepare and then nearly an hour to bake. I've already grated all the zucchini. :)

Today's the last day of August...insert more boggling about how fast time goes here. Leaves are turning, the fields are full of hay bales or stubble. I haven't seen a sugar beet on the side of the road yet but it's inevitably soon.

We are moving at work, at the end of September, into temporary quarters, since we have to vacate our current building for incoming tenants, and our new building isn't ready for us yet. We'll all be in together in open landscape...over 150 people. UGH. It's only supposed to be for a couple of months, but considering how many times our move-in date has been delayed already, I won't be surprised if we aren't in our new digs until after the end of the year. We've been doing a lot of reducing, recycling and sorting of stuff...it's easy to accumulate things at work. Then when you have to move them you start to wonder why you saved them in the first place.

Same at home. Anders and I are finally getting around to upgrading our bedroom. I said it was time for "grown-up furniture" and he agreed. But he won't start the project until he's finished a couple of others...I've told him it has to be done before Thanksgiving! In the meantime, I've moved out the old furniture we are replacing (a bookcase made of boards that my mom made for my brother when he was a child, originally; a small dresser that was a hand-me-down from a college friend who was moving away, and my dresser, which I bought at a cheapy furniture place right after college) and donated it to the annual village flea market, which necessitated packing up clothing. I'm also taking down, dusting, and packing up all the paintings, and other knickknacks in our room and trying to figure out what to do with the corner art table that I don't really use much right now.

Martin is pretty much moved out of our house, since he's living in the US and just moved into his own first apartment, I think it's pretty safe to use his room for some of it, though I'm sure he won't be thrilled about it when he comes home to visit next time. I've also been scrolling through lots of furniture store websites looking at bureaus and night stands...GAH! The only one that I found, that I really liked, was too crazy for my husband, though I thought it was beautiful (multi-colored carved floral patterns on the fronts of the drawers) but it's since disappeared from the website. Everything I see is too modern or too cheap-looking. I don't want white or black laminate, or plain wood...though white will probably work best with the light gray we will most likely paint the walls. We'll see.

It's fun to look though, since we haven't done any home improvement projects in quite a while. Now, I'm off to put zucchini in pans and bake it!
 calm
mood: calm
music: Shower water running, birds chirping, keys clicking


zird is the word [userpic]
TRIALS OF A BIBLIOPHILE
Megsie tagged me a book meme on Facebook, which is kinda the only meme that I can't resist. It's posting 7 books you love for seven days. When you read as much as I do, it's REALLY hard to only pick 7 books. Do you pick your FAVORITES? (Impossible to stick to 7, in that case). Do you stick to one genre? Do you play to your audience? Do you choose only newer books or only older ones? What if you like really quirky books or complicated books or Harlequin romances or you feel children's literature is underrated and not hyped nearly enough...HOW DO YOU CHOOSE? Haha! The terrible trials of a bibliophile.

I posted book 5 today (though I cheated by posting two books yesterday) and now I only have 2 more days. Or rather, NOW I ONLY HAVE TWO MORE BOOKS. The pressure is on! I'm trying to avoid obvious crowd-pleasers or books that everyone has probably already read (sort of). I'm trying to mix things up so I'm not only posting fiction, and not only posting non-fiction. But honestly, if I was going to post all the books I really loved, we'd be here forever. I feel that I'm not being fair to some books/authors that I won't have time to include. I'm not being fair to real favorites like To Kill a Mockingbird, or Winnie-the-Pooh since it seems like it should be obvious that I love those books (among so many, many others)...I shouldn't have to post those, right? You should already have read them; you should KNOW how good they are.

Every last day of every year I post a list of the best books I read that year, so I have a wealth of titles to draw from. But I've only been doing that since I started blogging, so even though that's a long time, there are still lots of books I love that aren't on those lists.

I find that I can't justify buying actual physical books as much anymore. Though I LOVE books, and I love the way they look on the shelves, and I love the weight and smell and feel of them, it's hard to buy more THINGS when I'm kind of thinking it's time to stop buying THINGS. I buy books on Kindle, but they are not nearly as satisfying (except for the instant gratification part)...they don't have a pretty color cover, for example. Maps and illustrations and photos are all black-and-white (on the model I have) and they are hard to zoom in on and see details of.

After I got my Kindle, I thought I'd mostly use it for traveling but that hasn't turned out to be the case. And even though I would normally want to have the actual physical books on my bookshelf, once I've bought them on Kindle, I don't want to pay for them again. So, I have to remember that I have purchased them, since I remove them from my device once I've read them. So far, for the meme, I've posted three non-fiction books, two young adult fantasy books (together) and one fiction novel.


***

In other news, Karin has her last week of full-time work at my company this week, then she will start a project management course at Malmö University that goes through January. She's mentioned another course that she might take in the spring and then the possibility of starting a 3-year marketing communications program at Linné University in Växjö. It's only 2 hours away but the campus looks really lovely and she's heard good things about the university and student life there. Until then, she's still working hourly at my company and at a local venue in Lund that hosts concerts, movies and a nightclub.

Martin is in the process of moving into his first real apartment in downtown Detroit. It sounds like it's perfectly placed and in a nice area, and close to lots of possibilities for job-hunting which is his next mission. It's a 4-bedroom and there are 5 kids renting rooms (Martin is sharing a room, which will help to keep his costs down). It's quite close to Wayne State University and 3 of the roommates are students there. I'm hopeful that Martin might consider taking classes there in a year or so to finish up his degree, but in the meantime, he's going to get lots of experience in living on his own! I'm a little bummed that I can't just pop over to his place to see it, help him get things he needs, stop by to take him out for fika, etc. We haven't made any future plans for going to the States, but he's got a year's lease, so maybe I'll get to see it before the lease is up, at least.

We had an after-work (meaning after the work-week since it was yesterday, on a Saturday) Go-Kart event yesterday with 28 people from the Marketing Department. It was 27C/80F (we're back to full-on summer temps) and it was REALLY hot since there were no clouds and no shade by the track except inside where you couldn't see anything. We were divided into two groups for a 5-lap training run, then had 2 5-lap heats each to determine the fastest drivers, then we had a final 8-lap race for the 10 fastest drivers and another final for the 10 slowest drivers...except that everyone who was slower than me bailed on the finals, so I came in dead last. :D Guess who won the whole thing?

IMG_5024.jpg

IMG_5024.jpg

It was really fun and most of the group went out for a lovely dinner afterward, though Karin didn't come to the dinner since she had a previous engagement, which was just as well since she would probably have spent the entire time lording it over the others :D ...my neck and back and arms are super sore today, though.
 cheerful
mood: cheerful
music: The Darling Buds—Fall


zird is the word [userpic]
A WEEK AWAY
I love the Netherlands so much. Although, I call it Holland more often than not, because it's my favorite place and Holland just sounds a little more cozy. On one of the last days, Karin asked me why I was so fascinated by it as a country, and I stopped and thought hard before I answered. I have loved a lot of different places. I love the drama and the beauty of Switzerland and Norway and Scotland. They give me a mountain fix. I love the smell of the air and the taste of the water in Michigan. I love the pulse and electricity and style and sweetness of Chicago.

We moved to Belgium the year that I turned 13. We lived off-base, in a tiny village called Overpelt. My dad was stationed at the equally tiny airbase of Kleine-Brogel, but for the three years we lived in Belgium, I went to school over the border in the Netherlands. I've written about this before, so anyone feeling up to it can find more info in my archives. Where? I don't know. Read them all! hahahaha! Anyway, I suspect the year you turn 13 is pretty formative and where you are makes a huge impact on you.

What I love about the Netherlands: it's NEAT, it's TIDY, it's SMALL and symmetrical and compact and cozy. The people are friendly and talkative and engaging. The buildings are tiny with huge windows and thatched roofs (far fewer nowadays, though). The roofs are gabled. The streets and yards and houses are CLEAN. It's flat and you can see for miles. There are windmills everywhere, both the old-fashioned sailed kind and the towering 3-bladed monsters. It's a land of water and fields and sheep and cows. It's PEACEFUL.

For this trip, we drove about 12 hours to the edge of Friesland, at the tip of the Ijsselmeer, which used to be an inlet of the ocean called the Zuiderzee. It was dammed in 1932 and by 1969 was a freshwater lake. Even more of the land has since been reclaimed to become a completely new province of the Netherlands (Flevoland). There's not as much tourism of the usual kind in Friesland...most of its attractions center around water and nature.

We were 7 people with different needs, including 2 small, very active boys. We stayed at a lovely campground in Warns (which once upon a time was a coastal town), in a huge house with beds for 10. It was freshly renovated and super comfy. We took turns cooking dinner, and most of the time we ate lunch out or brought it with us, as we were out exploring the countryside every day. Simone made a killer Chicken Stroganoff one night and then used up a bunch of our zucchinis and squash with a delicious sauce over our own potatoes that we brought with us on another. We managed to pack in enough frites and frikandels to satisfy even my craving for those Dutch sausages for a good long time to come. Yum :D

Some of the places we went and things we did: walking around the seaside and inland villages of Stavoren, Hindeloopen, Bolsward and Maakum. Driving out along the Afsluitsdijk and stopping at the Wadden Center that highlights the dam and the history of the Ijsselmeer. A day trip to Giethoorn that included boating around the canals and lakes. Walking along the tops of dikes, being blown by the wind (SO MUCH WIND). Petting sheep. Watching the waves and the millions of kite surfers. A morning at the beach where we found a sheltered cove and Simone hid gemstones in the sand and the boys thought they'd found buried treasure. Playing games every night including Gravitrax, Crazy Eights, and several other fun board games that I never learned the names of. Walking and mountain biking through the woodland trails of Rijs. Taking the kids to Sybrandy's Play park where all the amusement rides and attractions were self-automated. A day trip for Anders and Karin and I to Amsterdam where we had sushi and shopped and people-watched and took a canal boat tour, which we disembarked from and got to our Uber JUST as the heavens opened and apocalyptic rain poured down. An evening in the darling town of Sloten where we watched a bride and groom* light the fuse and fire a real-life medieval cannon under a windmill, with guys dressed up in old-fashioned soldier gear leading the charge. And lots and lots of quality time with my brother, his wonderful wife, their two boisterous boys, and Anders and Karin. I wish Martin and my mom and my sister's family had been there, that would have made it just perfect.













You can see more photos on my Instagram.

*Random strangers
 grateful
mood: grateful
music: Sam Tsui & Kina Grannis—Chains


zird is the word [userpic]
TAKE A LOOK AT YOURSELF AND MAKE A CHANGE
I seem to be on a Tuesday posting streak. I just looked at my calendar and saw that, with this post, I will have posted for 5 Tuesdays in a row. But the streak stops here, because I won't be home next Tuesday, and I probably won't be thinking about posting, because as of 4 pm this afternoon, I'm FINALLY on vacation!

Only for 1.5 weeks, but whatever, I'll take it. I didn't mind working all summer, and I got a lot done, especially on projects I had no time to prioritize during the first half of this year, but I am really ready for this time off. I'm ready for a lot of things. I'm ready to make some changes and get motivated.

A few days ago, I signed up for a new choir. It's in Lund, and it's on Wednesday nights, when I rarely have other commitments. I haven't been singing for over a year now, since my last choir had issues with finding choir leaders after the first ones we had left for other challenges, and it was on Thursdays, when I often have other things booked on the calendar, like book group. And it was in Eslöv...I work in Lund, so I'm already there on Wednesdays and I can choose whether to run home and return or just stay a little late, eat something and then go to practice. And the choir is for everyone, and is a pop choir, which is what I like. I'm excited about it. It starts mid-September and goes until the beginning of December. If I like it, I'll continue in the spring. Yay for singing again!

It's kind of silly, but I've been watching Queer Eye and taking some of the things they have to say to heart. I've never seen the show before, never watched the original version that ran in the mid-2000s at all, not a single episode. It just wasn't on my radar, though I had heard about it, and we didn't have Netflix back then. It's fun and motivating, and I love the Fab 5 (especially Tan) and think what they are doing is really cool, even though it's a reality TV show, and I've never been much of a fan of the genre.

We dug up all of our potatoes a couple of days ago, because the plants were wilting and it was time. We got an excellent haul of 3 full bags, about 9 or 10 kilos. There are several yellow squash still on the way and some zucchini as well. And the carrots are about ready to come out of the ground.

My sister has been at my mom's house all summer, for 2 months in total. Her daughter was there for a bit, her son was there for a bit, and now MY son is there. And you know what? I wish I was there, too. I wish I'd been able to go spend time there this summer. I saw my mom for a week in Seattle, and I'll see my brother next week, but I haven't seen my sister in way too long. She's moving to North Carolina this summer (think good vibes for getting their house in Connecticut sold, please!) and it will be a new place that I have no visual of. I've never been to the Carolinas. She's moved a lot, and I've been lucky enough to make it to some of her homes. I think it really makes a difference to be able to visit someone and SEE their home, their space and see them in it when you live far apart. It gives you a surrounding to place them in, in your head, when you think about them.

Today, 2 of my friends and Karin took me out for an early birthday lunch. It's weird to think I have a birthday coming up in a few days. I haven't thought about it at all, really. Birthdays seem to matter less and less, especially when I don't really want gifts of THINGS. I'm trying to declutter and purge stuff we no longer need or use, so getting more seems stupid. I'd rather have experiences...tickets to shows, things like that, things that feed the heart and soul. They gave me a gift certificate to a clothing store that I DO like and shop at, when I bother to shop, so that will come in useful at some point when I need something to new to give me a lift.

It's bizarre to think we're already 6 days into August. This summer sure went fast. I guess working most of it will do that for you. Kids are going to be going back to school here in another week or so. All of Sweden is coming back to work...our lunchroom was full again this week and will be even more crowded next week, I'm sure. When I get back to work on the 19th, I think pretty much everyone will be back, and we have new people starting on our team, to boot, plus a double office move looming (we have to move somewhere temporary for at least a month, because our new building isn't quite ready and new tenants are taking over our current one), so there are lots of things to anticipate and look forward to.

I guess change is inevitable and constant and one way to handle it is to roll with it so it doesn't just bulldoze you flat. Or you can choose to grab it by the hands and swing it into a dance instead. And sing while you're doing it.
 hopeful
mood: hopeful
music: Taylor Swift—You Need to Calm Down


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

Abraham Lincoln

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