monsteralphabet

TOP OF MIND

It's pretty amazing what our brains can do. I've been thinking a lot about memory lately. I've read a lot about the brain, but I don't really know all that much, technically speaking. I am just really glad that it can keep so much straight! So many important details that we have constant and instant access to: personal info, contact info, memories. Just the fact that we have so much information on tap inside our heads at all times, without even the help of Google, is mind-blowing (ha!).

On top of the important things we need to remember and keep in mind (I swear, it's not on purpose), we also have a virtual database of things like: the plots and characters of the shows we're watching and have watched; the plots and characters of the books we're reading and have read; the to-do lists that we're currently working through; important dates and times of appointments; phone numbers, social security numbers, addresses; the name, history and personal information of the people we interact with, talk to and write to every day; work projects including procedures, guidelines, measurements, storage systems, etc. It's AMAZING.

The word "amazing" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "causing astonishment, great wonder, or surprise". It was first used in print in 1593, the same year that "astonishing", "flashy" and "respectful" showed up, among others. According to OUPblog, the word "amaze" came before the word "maze", and "maze denoted a place of utter confusion, which proves that amaze came into being with the sense “confuse, perplex” rather than “surprise.” So, amazing isn't necessary a GOOD thing, which is interesting, too. It meant something that struck you with wonder. My mind and its capabilities certainly does that. "Mind-blowing" is a relative baby, showing up first in print in 1955, although "boggle" has been around since 1598; in print, at least.

When I'm working, I have mental access to so many things: shortcuts, functions and capabilities of the design programs I work with. The naming convention we use for files. Where to save said files. How to find them again. What the codes for our color values are (though I tend to use a cheatsheet for those, because why clutter up your brain with unnecessary info like that, when you can just glance at a list on the side of your computer when needed). How our brand and graphic guidelines work in practically. How to spell words...in several languages. And by extension, the meaning of all the hundreds of thousands of words we use. Along with the grammar that glues them together, and the pronunciation of them, to boot. It's MIND-BOGGLING!

When I'm typing, I have mental access to the keyboard in my head. I don't have to actually look at it to type with accuracy. Even if it's hand-eye coordination, it's still my brain directing things.

When I'm driving, I have mental access to mental maps, locations, directions, compass points (don't you almost always know which way is north?), as well as all the mental info actually involved with driving itself.

I can, like I'm sure you can, rattle off the birthday and anniversary dates of my entire family, plus many of my friends. I know how many members there are in the AWC and if you name an American in this area, I can tell you if they are, or have ever been, a member.

We hold so much in our heads at any given time, is it any wonder that sometimes we walk into a room and can't remember what we went into it for? I think it's almost more amazing that simply retracing our steps almost immediately brings to mind what it was! What a breathtakingly cool thing a mind is. Thanks, brain!

*I swear, it was actually playing. I didn't purposely pick a song with "head" in the title! :D
happyfindus

HOMEFULNESS

One full week of work down and we're on to week 3 of the new year. Which feels the same as the old year, still. My mom is out of her house, and now officially "homeless". She and my sister stayed last night at the condo she's been offered temporarily by a friend, but are leaving tomorrow for my sister's home in North Carolina for about 3 weeks. I've had text conversations with my sister, but haven't really talked to either of them, other than to update them on what's going on with Anders' mom, since they had so much to get done before the closing yesterday. Hoping to have a catch-up phone call tonight, but I know they were planning to see Martin as well today, before they leave. It's very weird to think that the next time we go to the States, it won't be to that house.

Anders' mom is slightly better, but still bedridden, weak and tired all the time. Since we can't go visit her, we are getting very limited info on how her recovery is going. She HAS managed to call us twice in the past two days, but Anders says she doesn't sound like herself, and it's clear she's got a long haul to recovery. He and his sister both had COVID tests this past week, despite the fact that his mom was 11 days past her positive diagnosis on Monday when they were there, AND they were in full hazmat gear before going into her room. His sister's came back negative, and his results will probably come tomorrow, also negative, I am sure.

I texted Karin last night, as I was just settling into bed, to tell her that every single night, when it's getting late, I automatically start wondering what time she'll be home, and then realize all over again that she doesn't live here anymore. She said it's weird for her, too. I never had a home-I-grew-up in, since we moved so much with the military. My kids weren't born in this house, but Martin was nearly 5 and Karin just over 3 when we moved here...so it's basically the home they grew up in. She still has stuff here, of course, and so does Martin.

My brother still had stuff at my mom's, which is now in storage with all HER stuff. I didn't think I had anything left at my mom's, but it turned out that she never got rid of my wedding dress, which I left in the States with her, when we moved to Europe, with strict instructions to sell or donate. She also apparently had my childhood collection of Madame Alexander dolls that I thought she'd given to my sister years ago. I hope both of those went to charity this time, since they weren't worth anything and my sister certainly doesn't need more stuff. :D We all have a box or more of things that my mom was getting rid of, that we need to figure out how to get. Who knows when that will happen, since traveling anywhere any time soon sure doesn't seem like it's going to happen.

All this makes me hesitate every time I see something I like online...I'm not shopping at all, really, and I don't want to acquire more things. I don't NEED anything. This house is full of stuff as it is. Who knows when Karin and Martin will get ALL their things out...probably not for awhile, seeing as how Karin is still in transition mode, and Martin, who is planning to move home to Sweden sometime later this year, will probably be living with us again for awhile. He has plenty of things THERE that he needs to deal with as well.

It's been really cold here the past week, under 0. It's currently -5C. But the sun was shining today and I went out on the porch and photographed the frost patterns on the windows. So pretty! I also filled the bird feeders, took the recycleables out to the bins, ironed the Christmas tablecloths and sewed up a ripped pair of workout pants, in addition to walking for 25 minutes on the treadmill.

We also got a HUGE box of groceries delivered: a trial run of HelloFresh, that I was gifted by a friend. We chose the "classic" menu with 5 recipes for 2 people: halloumi tacos are on the menu for tonight. We also have Chicken Kiev, pan-fried lemon salmon, soy-marinated chicken something and pasta with zucchini and tomatoes. Anders had been wanting to try one of these dinner/recipe services for awhile, so when this opportunity came up, I jumped at it. I don't think we need it, but he likes to cook, and is always on the lookout for recipe ideas. Since he's cooking most of the time, I'm certainly not going to complain! I wasn't expecting a huge box, though...I guess I thought they'd show up with two grocery bags! :D The recipes look (and sound) yummy, so it will be fun to see how it turns out and if we continue.
crazybouncingowl

ONE DAY AT A TIME

Two days of work and my shoulders are killing me. Oy vey. Karin has promised to give me a massage tomorrow. She's very good at it but she doesn't do it long enough to stick. This week has been insane and it's only Tuesday, god help me. HOLP! My mom and sister are in frazzled crazy mode, trying to get everything done before the Friday hand-the-keys-over deadline and I think their crazy has rubbed off on me, all the way from Michigan.

We had a bad scare yesterday with Anders' mom. The nurse called Anders' sister mid-morning, who called him, and told them to get over there as quickly as possible. She had been up, having breakfast, but went back to bed after, and when the nurse came in to give her meds, found her unresponsive. The doctor was called and when Anders and his sister got there, she was still pretty out of it, and couldn't speak, and didn't seem to know who they were or where she was.

We suspect another mini stroke, as she's had a couple of those before. They didn't send her to the hospital, because of both COVID (which she was diagnosed with 12 days ago, so shouldn't be contagious any more) and because she has a non-hospitalization, non-intervention clause in her care profile. We had to tell the kids, which was awful, but thankfully later in the evening, we heard that she had been up, drinking nyponsoppa and today we got the report that she was much better, though still confused, and did remember that Anders and Maria were there yesterday. Turns out that there is some evidence that stroke is also a coronavirus symptom, so even if she has had an extremely mild case otherwise, it's hard to say if that's the cause...also because we don't know for sure that it WAS a stroke. Fingers crossed for a full recovery!

I took Christmas down over the weekend. 3 boxes of inside decorations (plus 1 bag and a wreath box), and 2 boxes of tree decorations. One would never guess that I did a major Christmas decoration purge last year and got rid of ONE WHOLE BOX. There are also 2 bags for advent lights and the stars but those are still up until next weekend because we can't bear to part with the extra light.

Today, the sun was shining in a bright blue sky; the first sunny day in quite awhile. I asked Anders if he wanted to go for a quick walk around the neighborhood with me after I ate lunch and he said yes! So we bundled up (it's been hovering around 1C) and headed out to get a faceful of vitamin D. It turned out there was black ice everywhere the sun hadn't actually been on our street, so we had to be really careful and walk like penguins to avoid slipping. It made my hips hurt. Where's my cane, I'm so old.

I am currently watching Dickinson (based on the life of Emily the poet) on Apple+ while I walk on the treadmill and it is SO good. The second season just started and it's been renewed for a third, but I kind of wonder where it's going to go after her teenage years (or if it will) because she was basically a recluse by her late 30s. I've actually been to her home in Amherst, with my mom, and uncle Sam and Joanne, back in 2009, but because we were short on time, we only did a quick "poet" tour and missed the more extensive one that included her brother's house next door and much more info about her and her family. I'd like to get back out to that area someday; there was so much to see and do!

Anders and I are watching Six Feet Under, which we've never seen. I remember hearing about it, and that it was good, but it was on when we had small kids and busy lives and no time, and I didn't watch much TV back then. I don't actually know if it was on Swedish television at all, since it was an HBO show. It's REALLY good so far and I'm glad we have 5 seasons to enjoy.

I've been readng quite a bit of young adult fiction for some reason. I stumbled upon Rebecca Stead's book When You Reach Me on Kindle, and after gulping it down, I devoured all her books, one after the other, and now I'm reading I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, which is excellent as well and full of the kind of writing that makes ME want to write more. After I'm done (probably tonight), I need to get moving on the bookworms book, since we have our meeting next Thursday, sadly on Zoom again.
dejected

AS THE YEARS GO BY, THEY TAKE THEIR TOLL ON YOU*

It's been snowing all day, that thin corn snow that doesn't stick. I didn't actually check the temperature but it had to have been right at freezing, because even though it was cold enough to snow, it all just melted as soon as it touched down. Now, however, in the early evening, it's STILL snowing and now, finally, there is a thin blanket of white. We've only had one other night of snow (maybe two? I can't remember) but it's always been gone by midday the day after. I hope it will stick around a little and brighten things up. Even though we've passed the solstice it's still SO DARK all the time.

For the first time ever, I spent some time just now unfriending people on Facebook. I had over 700 "friends" and honestly, I have no idea why. Some of them are people I went to school with, others are people I used to work with long ago, or who were members of the AWC but have since moved away, or people who were in a choir with me, two choirs ago, that I have no actual contact with. I figure if they really want to be friends with me, they can contact me again and I'll be happy to add them back, but I don't think they'll notice or miss me. We weren't interacting anyway, and some of them had offensive Trump-supporting bullshit on their pages, which I am just not in the mood to condone. Even family members.

I'm tired and headachy, and stuffy, and hoping I am not coming down with something, though I don't know how I could be since I haven't been out of my house hardly at all for the past month unless Karin gave me something. I was up too late last night, watching the awfulness in the US capitol and wondering why all the Republicans who FINALLY said enough don't understand why we are so disgusted with them. Too little, too late. Even if they remove Trump from office NOW, 13 days before he will be out anyway, they have done nothing for too long, which aided and abetted him and his cronies for FOUR years.

Tomorrow is my last day of vacation, and then the weekend, and then back to "regular" routines, which just means back to work full-time, but still from home. We are working from home until January 15, but I expect it will be extended again. I'd be surprised if they started the rotation schedule back up right now, when the pandemic is still raging and numbers are still rising. I called Anders' mom today and she is doing okay. Still very tired and lonely and sad, none of which we can help with. :(

This weekend I plan on taking down Christmas, which is also a sad activity, and a long one. I won't have any help either since Anders will be gone, helping a friend with something, and Karin doesn't live here anymore. But it will keep me occupied, at least! The difference between my summer vacation and this vacation is quite wide if you think about all the things I got done then and all the nothing I did now. I know vacations are supposed to be about relaxing and recharging, but mostly all this past month has been doing is making me want to sleep more. And I don't sleep in the way I used to, so it's been a bust as far as sleeping goes, too.

I need sunshine and cheerfulness. Usch då!

*from See a Little Light by Bob Mould
artist

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN

Karin was just over 3 years old when we moved into this house. As I've mentioned before, we had the house built to "painting-ready" and once we got the keys, Anders did everything else in the house: flooring, painting, trims, wallpapering, tiling,...everything. With two little kids under 5, we had our hands full, and some parts of the house weren't done when we moved in (the important parts were) so there was a lot of box shuffling and moving things around.

We had a lot of fun choosing the decor for the kids' department which consisted of their two bedrooms and the playroom. The kids picked the colors and wallpaper trim they liked, and then we did the rest. Martin's room was red and yellow with lots of animal-themed prints and accessories. Karin's was green and yellow with a bubble butterfly chair rail wallpaper trim, and round green rugs to match. You can see photos of the original kids' rooms here: http://www.lizardek.com/house/kids_dept/

I had lots of great framed prints and paintings that worked really well in the kids' rooms as well, and in Karin's room we put up five framed Åke Arenhill fashion prints. I LOVED those 5 prints. They were illustrations of Swedish ladies wearing typical dresses from the 18th and 19th centuries. My sister had framed them for me with lovely simple textured gold-flecked frames when she worked as a framer and got an excellent employee discount (I had a LOT of stuff framed while she worked there).

Anders had gotten a giant portfolio of Arenhill's prints on his 30th birthday (from his parents, he thinks). I can't remember if there were more than the 5 that I picked out for framing and I don't know where others would be if we still have them, but I remember thinking it was a weird set of art prints for a 30-something Swedish man to own. He had never done anything with them, but didn't have any objection to me having them framed. But 5 big art prints take up a lot of space and we had never previously had a good place to display them until we decided to hang them in Karin's room.

Åke Arenhill was famous in these parts, coming from Malmö; he was an artist, set designer, film director, advertising art director, author and songwriter. In later years, he worked in media, radio and television as a producer and program host. He painted in oils and tempura, made lithographs, designed posters and playing cards, among many, many other projects.

When Karin was a few years older and we started discussing redoing her room, she was adamant that she did NOT want the "egg ladies" anymore. I didn't know what she meant until she pulled me into her room and pointed, and I had to laugh. The ovals that included the year and his signature by the foot of each print DID look like giant eggs. :D When she was around 7 or so, her room was completely made over into a red and black and silver Asian-themed extravaganza complete with two huge yin-yang Chinese dragons in red and black on one wall.

The egg lades were banished to our closet. Where they have been ever since.

Until today.

Karin came home yesterday and rooted through drawers and cabinets and closets looking for stuff she could persuade me to give her for her new apartment. She got a pair of candlestick holders, some tea light holders, a couple of table runners, a framed poster, and a framed piece of embroidery that I did when I was around 12 or so. And then she said she might take the egg ladies if I didn't have any objection. I had to laugh.

"You HATED those!" I said. "I KNOW!" she laughed back. She had to ask her girlfriend but after I sent photos, and they were approved, we took them with us today as Anders was going over to help hang some lamps and other paintings. I told her she isn't allowed to get rid of them...if she decides she doesn't want them later, she has to give them back to me.

Now they're hanging along the long wall over the sofa in Karin's new place, and I can now enjoy them every time I go visit her. *happy dance*



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gottabeshittinme

GET GOING

Karin is moving into a new place today, and it feels a little more permanent than the other apartments she's had. She and her girlfriend Nelly, and Anders moved all her furniture from the apartment she had been sharing in Malmö for a couple of months, this morning and then this afternoon, she and I took another carload of stuff. For a 21-year-old, she sure had a lot of baggage already!

It's the second floor apartment in a quite big standalone building that has 3 other flats in it. It used to be part of an area that contained a mental hospital, psych wards and other health clinics in late 19th century. There are still plenty of healthcare related services in the area; in fact, not far from Karin's apartment is the building where I had my gall bladder removed. The building she is moving into was, before it was renovated to apartments, doctor's quarters.

The woman who owns the apartment left a lot of furniture and other various things, so Karin and the girls are figuring out what they want to keep and what to put in storage or get rid of. There's a HUGE sofa that takes up an incredible amount of space; it's a four-seater sofa with another corner seat. She's heading back over soon this evening with another load of clothes and Nelly and her sister (the third roommate) are also bringing more stuff tonight. It will be fun to see it when they have everything in place. :)

I start work again tomorrow, but it's a super soft start to the year, since I'm only working 1.5 days, then Wednesday is a holiday, and I have Thursday and Friday off. I expect to start packing up the Christmas tree and house decorations though we'll probably keep the stars and advent lights up a bit longer since it's still so dark. We had some sunshine today, which I was very glad to see. It's been a long, dark holiday with very little light outside.

We got the news on New Year's Day that Anders' mom had tested positive for coronavirus. Considering that she had already been isolated in her room and not seen anyone but staff for the last three weeks made us very upset. Two weeks before Christmas, someone in the home tested positive (there's since been a second), and both of those people are hospitalized. :( The staff was supposed to be taking the restrictions and precautions very seriously and the residents were all confined to their rooms; not allowed in the common areas or the dining room or to have visitors.

So our tentative plans to get together with her and Anders' sister were thrown out the window. For Märta's 92nd birthday, which is December 23rd, since we weren't allowed in, we stood outside her window and called her on the phone. I was especially upset because the staff wouldn't even let her open the window, which I found ridiculous, if we stood 2 meters away, and now find even more aggravating in light of the fact that she got it from one of them! She had a corona test on the 17th and then again ON her birthday, both of which came back negative. But the one on New Year's eve came back with bad news. So far, at least, her symptoms have been mild; a bit of fever, a slight sore throat and fatigue, and we're hoping she'll recover quickly.

I've spent a lot of time the last two weeks worrrying about mothers...both Anders' and mine. I am so thankful that my sister is at my mom's place helping her pack and sort, and that Martin has been there a couple of times to lend a hand as well. I keep thinking of things that they might not have thought of (set up mail forwarding! cancel the alarm service!) and texting my sister, only to find out she has already added them to the list and has everything well in hand. UGH, though. I so wish I could go.

I'm ready for work, or at least to stop being such a slug. We've certainly done our fair share of relaxing over the holidays but it's about time to get back to real life and regular routines!
happyfindus

RETROSPECTIVE

Had a laugh just now when I looked back at my Retrospective entry from last year, and the expectations I had for the first year of the 20's. Well, THAT certainly didn't turn out as planned...for any of us. The H at the beginning of this post really sums up the entire year of 2020 for me. The terrifying split that is defining my birth country, the polarization of politics, the crisis of the global pandemic, the destruction of all our plans for the year. And personally, the passing of my grandmother in July and the sale and packing up of my mom's house in Michigan, neither of which I was able to go home for. There were good things about the past year, too, namely the turnout of American voters and their overwhelming desire to stop the madness by electing a new President, thank God. Even though I know the aftermath will continue into the new year, I hope 2021 is an improvement over the start of the decade and honestly, how can it not be?

Family & Personal Highlights of 2020
  • Karin's ski trip week in Austria with a friend and then in Italy with Anders
  • Continuing to keep myself diabetes-free
  • Beauty & the Beast at Malmö Opera with Debbie
  • Renovation and enlargement of our deck and porch
  • The addition of solar panels on our garage
  • Creating a logo and marketing materials for my friend Emily's business
  • Martin getting a new, better-paying, job in Detroit
  • The birth of my new niece to my brother John in October
  • Completing a 5K walk with Karin to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment
  • Karin getting a job at Flyinge School
  • Voting for the winner in the US election #BidenHarris2020 #VotedBlue
  • So far, a COVID-free family
Once again, I had a low number of books read during the year, only 78, down just one from 2019's low of 79. Even though I'm always reading. I seem to be doing it a slower pace than I used to, and of course, as you'll see below, I spent much more time than usual watching movies and TV series. I do find it amusing that three of the books in the list below have "Notes" in the titles, as if they were just something jotted down. Note to authors: stop it.

Best Books of 2020 (in no particular order and not including re-reads)
  • The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett
  • A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A. Fletcher
  • The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman
  • The Lightest Object in the Universe by Kimi Eisele
  • Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
  • The Lady's Handbook for her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey
  • Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
  • Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World by Suzy Hansen
  • A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  • Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
  • This is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls & Being Dope by Shayla Lawson
  • The Voyage of the Morning Light by Marina Endicott
If it weren't for my son's Christmas gift of a brilliant playlist, I'd have almost no new music to list at all since I once again spent more time looking for artists and enjoying their art on Instagram this year.

Best New Music Artists of 2020
  • Rina Sawayama
  • Rilo Kiley
  • Caroline Polachek
  • Allie X.
  • Holly Humberstone
  • Denai Moore
  • Sabina Ddumba
  • Jenny Owen Youngs
  • Elizabeth & the Catapult
Like everyone else this year, we watched a LOT of TV and thanks to having multiple streaming platforms, both movies, short-format mini series and television series were plentiful. There was a lot of good stuff to watch. I watched 63 movies (a lot of old ones!) and 27 different series. In no particular order:

The movies I enjoyed the most were: 1917, Jojo Rabbit, Bombshell, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Hamilton, Enola Holmes, My Octopus Teacher, On the Rocks, and Bad Education.

The series I enjoyed the most and recommend were: The Man in the High Castle, The Queen's Gambit, The Flight Attendant, Cheer, Crashing, The Morning Show, Killing Eve, Community, Run, His Dark Materials, Lego Masters Sverige (though I couldn't stand the hosts), and Hanna.

Some manageable goals for 2021
  • Shed the pandemic pounds; get back down to a reasonable weight
  • Walk a 5K every month and continue on the treadmill
  • Renovate the kitchen
  • Trip to the US for family time
  • Celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in some fun way
  • Continue to stay COVID-free until vaccinated
There's a lot to look forward to in the coming year, despite the continuing pandemic restrictions: Martin moving back to Sweden (fingers crossed), Karin starting university, planning travel again, and I just downloaded a pile of books to my Kindle to start off the new year right! Happy New Year!
cocked and loaded

ALL OVER THE PLACE

Almost no one is writing anymore. Apart from John and June, I seem to be alone out here. Even Chuck has disappeared. I hope it's temporary; there are already so few people blogging these days. It's the holidays, when people are living life and not hanging out online, plus the pandemic has, I suspect, left us with nothing to write about. At least nothing happens to write about. But that just means there should be more time for writing about what one THINKS and FEELS and CARES about.

We watched David Attenborough's documentary A Life on Our Planet yesterday. It was hard to watch, which had nothing to do with the fact that it was beautifully filmed. I find everything that has to do with climate change and global warming hard to watch these days. It feels like all the things we can do, us ordinary folk, is so small as to not matter at all...but that's the same thinking that causes people not to vote. If you think your vote doesn't count, and you DON'T VOTE because of it, then your vote truly didn't count. It's the same with climate change, in some ways. I know that it will take huge and immediate change on a corporate, national and global level to really effect a difference but even the small changes that we ALL choose to make will help. Feed the birds. Plant butterfly bushes and trees. Host bees. Eat less meat, or none, if you can manage. Recycle. Be more thoughtful of the products you buy and the packaging they come in. Change to sustainable alternatives for toiletries and cosmetics. Donate to organizations that are driving true change. Write to your government and legislators. VOTE, for fuck's sake.

Anders was skimming through YouTube the other day and stopped on a Jimmy Kimmel segment from The Tonight Show where he was making fun of Trump's hair which was blowing about in the wind, as he ascended the steps to Air Force One. It's an old clip, but it made me deeply uncomfortable. And not because I like or care about Trump or his feelings. Calling someone names and making fun of their appearance is what TRUMP does. I don't like seeing it from him, or anyone else. I have a similar reaction to shows like Idol, where even though the ostensible point is to find a musical star...the underlying message that it's okay to make fun of people who aren't very good at singing during the auditions, was enough for me to only watch it a couple of times and to restrict it from my children's TV-watching when they were young. We watched an episode or two together and I told them why I didn't like the show and how I thought it normalized the kind of meanness that we see so much of in today's world. Call me a party-pooper if you want, but I think it's a symptom AND a cause and shouldn't be encouraged.

My sister is at my mom's house, helping her pack and sort everything. She's putting most of her stuff into storage, while she's in temporary quarters at a friend's place. Martin was there for a few days over Christmas, and Sarah's family was there, too but left yesterday. I wish SO much that I could be there to help. It's unfair that the entire burden has fallen on my sister for everything that has happened this year, but it is what it is, thanks to COVID. My mom has to be out no later than January 15 which doesn't leave a lot of time for sorting through a huge house STUFFED with stuff. They are making good headway, though, judging by the photos Sarah has been sending me. They have piles to go to charity, and to the dump. The people buying the house are probably going to take some of the furniture, too, which will mean less to deal with later, at least. I'm so sad not to be there, for both of them.

I'm officially tired of leftovers, of which we have a LOT, from both Swedish julbord and Christmas dinner. It's been turkey and trimmings nearly every day for both lunch and dinner for almost a week. I love the leftovers, but a solid diet of the same thing every day is getting to me. Time for sushi! Karin's picking up dinner after playing badminton in Lund for dinner tonight. :) I'm also officially tired of the shit weather we've been having FOREVER, but there isn't so much I can do to change that. Rain and grey cloud cover every day is very tiresome.

2021 is our 25th wedding anniversary. I'm already thinking about what we can do to celebrate it. Will we be able to travel? If so, should we go somewhere, and in that case, where? Chicago (the scene of the crime)? Somewhere we've been and loved and wanted to go back to? Somewhere we've never been and have always wanted to go to? 25 years is silver anniversary. One site I looked at for anniversary ideas suggesting changing things up at home. Anders is already planning to renovate our kitchen...does that count? :D Ideas welcome!
bored-tigger

INBETWEENING

I'm a big fan of wish lists (not to mention lists in general). They're helpful and useful and revealing and mistake-free. Some people claim not to like providing wish lists because then, they say, they'll know what they are getting. Or they think that you should know them well enough to know what presents to get them. Screw that, I say. There's no time for that.

There is nothing wrong with getting a list of gift ideas for people, so that you don't buy things that the recipient doesn't want or doesn't like or already has. I'd rather give nothing than give something that will be thrown away, or packed away, or regifted. Getting something for someone that they really want but either can't afford or haven't gotten around to getting themselves makes me feel like I'm doing something good. Especially when it's something that is an indulgence. We all want stuff that we don't buy ourselves because they aren't necessary items...why not have the opportunity to fulfill those desires and make someone happy? And while I really like to give experiential gifts, right now that wasn't the most practical option, since we can't go anywhere or do things together.

Getting things I actually want from the people I love makes me feel good, too. It's a win-win situation. And this year, it was even more important to me to have wish lists from my loved ones simply because we haven't been able to hang out this year...it's hard to know what things would be appreciated for someone when you haven't been able to spend any time with them for months.

My daughter spent time with my husband this year, before Christmas, helping him shop for me, and they both did a great job finding items on my wish list that I really wanted, but for whatever reason, haven't bought for myself. That time she spent was one of her gifts to me, and one I really appreciated. It wasn't about the stuff. And for Christmas, I asked my son for a Spotify playlist of new music, and boy, did he ever deliver. He put together about 25 songs that he thought I'd like, and he really hit the nail on the head. I've been enjoying it immensely for the last few days.

It's the "mellandagarna" now: the between days. Those days between Christmas and New Year's when, if you are not working, are a blurry length of hanging out, watching TV, playing games, eating, and sleeping in. I'm realizing that I don't like not having plans, or things to do, at least when I'm not on vacation, I have work to do. Work I like doing. We were told that we had to take at least 20 days of vacation and my manager sort of forced me to take this time off, but I'm struggling with it. I've sneak-worked a few hours yesterday and today, but am trying very hard not to do any more. Maybe I need to start a big jigsaw puzzle.

The first person in Sweden to be vaccinated had her first shot yesterday. The government hopes to have the entire population vaccinated in the first half of the new year. Sign me up! I understand the fear that the vaccines have been developed too quickly or without the proper testing, but to that I say, bullshit. I suspect they were being more careful than ever due to the size of the crisis. You have to be able to trust that they know what they're doing, or what's the point of anything? Without a vaccine, we'll be in this situation forever, and I don't think we can manage. People are stupid, or rather, thoughtless, or rather, selfish, in general, and we've all seen plenty of evidence for that over the past year, despite the many millions who DO follow the guidelines and restrictions and recommendations.

Anders and I need something new to watch. Every time we find something, we blow through it in a couple of days. We just watched all 4 episodes of the 4th season of Vår tid är nu and now we have to hunt again. Maybe he'd be up for that jigsaw puzzle? I should have put that on my wish list.
happyfindus

EK FAMILY CHRISTMAS LETTER 2020

Oh 2020, we had such high hopes for you! Martin was going to come home in the spring and we were going to go the States for summer vacation and everything was going to be wonderful. I almost feel like I could write this letter sort of like the part of Twilight where Edward leaves Bella, and for four or five months there are just blank pages with the month’s name on them.

Karin and Anders did manage some ski trips at the very beginning of the year; Karin spent a week in Austria with a friend and then the two of them went to Italy for a week in February...right before the pandemic started...in Italy. (They were fine). And that was the beginning of the end of all the events I could potentially fill this letter with.

Liz’s choir stuttered to a halt. The AWC had 2 monthly meetings and we squeezed in Pie Night, then that shut down, too. Here in Sweden, especially down in southern Sweden, even though all the cultural events closed down, including theaters and concerts and venues, life went on pretty much as normal, but with fewer friends, no hugs and fewer friendly faces at work.

Anders continued to work in the office until after the summer but Liz’s company started a rotation schedule in early March so she spent most of the year working part-time from home, until October when she and her colleagues were all sent home full-time. At Tetra Pak’s, all of Anders’ courses have transitioned online and he’s won a lot of praise from management for how well he’s put the whole thing together.

So...no getting together, no birthday parties, no summer vacation, no dinners with friends, no visiting with Anders’ mom. Everyone around the world in the same boat, so no complaining about it either. Sadly, this summer, Liz’s grandmother died, just before reaching her 104th birthday. It was hard on the whole family not to be able to be together.

Karin turned 21 this summer, and Martin just turned 23. Karin had all her plans for this year turned upside down as well, and as a consequence of the pandemic and a hiring freeze at Axis, lost her job. She also decided to put off starting university for another year since the program she was accepted to went online-only. Luckily, she got a new job almost immediately at Flyinge school, right next door!

Martin has been working since earlier this year at Domino’s in Detroit and is now making plans to move back to Sweden sometime in 2021 and start up college again here, which we are thrilled to hear!

During the summer, Anders did a fantastic job of completely renovating our deck and enlarging our porch, and in the past few weeks, he also lengthened one side of the garage roof which now sports 15 solar panels! New deck furniture was the finishing touch and we are looking forward to using it when the weather warms up again!

The best highlight of 2020 was Liz’s brother John’s new baby girl, born in October, little Kaya Jo. An addition for the family, just when we needed some good news!

We had a little bit of respite in the late summer when things lightened up in Skåne, but they quickly went south again and we’re now back into lockdown everywhere. The coronavirus seems even closer than before, and we all know more people who have had it. Thankfully, most of them have had very mild symptoms and recovered quickly. We are still limiting our get-togethers and staying home, and have, as a consequence, cancelled nearly all of the holiday events and activities that usually brighten up the end of the year. Writing a letter about 2020 seems like a exercise in pointlessness, but since we do have things to be thankful and grateful for, it seems appropriate to keep up this tradition at least!

We hope that you and yours have a wonderful holiday season no matter where you are or who you’re with, and that you all stay safe! We sure hope that we’ll be able to see our friends and family again in 2021.

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