artist palette

BIRTHDAYS, BLINDNESS AND DESIGN

It's my first-born's birthday today. He's 22, which, how is that even possible? Guess what he got for an early birthday present? A JOB! HURRAY!

He called a few days ago, excited because he had finally gotten hold of the manager at the sushi restaurant nearby, where he's been a couple of times on his job-hunting rounds. We've actually been to the sushi restaurant at least twice, when we were visiting during the past two years. He had left his resume with someone there ages ago, asking them to pass it along to the manager, but apparently that never happened because the guy said he never got it, and every time Martin had tried to connect earlier, he (the manager) wasn't available.

ANYWAY, this time he was there, and he told Martin to call back at 11 the next day and they would set up a time for an interview. So Martin called him at 11 yesterday and went for an interview at 1 and the guy hired him on the spot! He started yesterday, and is working for 2 weeks training (tonight is their busiest night of the year, apparently, as it's Noel Night in Detroit, so Martin couldn't have his birthday off) and then he'll be a server. He said the head server told him he was impressed yesterday with how fast Martin was picking up on everything, so that is positive.

I am thrilled, and so relieved. And I'm really, really glad that we didn't get him a plane ticket home for Christmas, after all, since this is exactly what I was HOPING would happen! I hope he'll not have to work through Christmas, though, as I know that lots of restaurants are actually open during the holidays in the US, but if that's the case, then so be it. Better a job than still unemployed!

Speaking of Christmas, I've made some major inroads on my holiday shopping...I've got Martin's completely done and sent, and have ordered a couple of other things, and yesterday Anders and I took Karin to Nova Lund because a pop-up store selling Spyder ski apparel there was having a 75% off sale and we got part of her present done, too! It means she knows what she's getting and she won't have much to open under the tree, but she's getting what she really wanted/needed, so no complaining there either! Anders also got a ski jacket for $35, so HE was happy, too!

I've been slowly sorting through tree ornaments and have boxed up all the ones that belong to the kids, and then started putting aside another pile of ones that I will be getting rid of. I've let the kids pick first but whatever they don't want is going to the local flea market. I have SIX giant moving boxes FULL of Christmas decorations. A purge is LONG overdue. Says the woman who just bought two more the other day when she was buying presents for her friends, because they were irresistibly pretty. Drrr. The first step to dealing with your problem is admitting you have one, right? :D

***

I'm in the middle of designing a logo for the new business of a friend of mine. She is trained in acupuncture and Chinese medicine, has a certificate in medical massage and is now finishing her certification for sports massage as well. The hitch is that she's blind. She went blind several years ago (she's about 10 years younger than me) before she was 40, with two genetic degenerative eye diseases. She's known since she was a young woman that she was going to go blind, but not that it would happen so fast. Long story short, I met her through the AWC, she was part of a good group of friends, then part of the Wonders, and then that all fell apart and we haven't seen much of each other for a long time. We reconnected a few months ago because of the massage thing...I get them regularly, and she needed people to practice on for her class. It turns out being blind is no hindrance at all when it comes to massage, and she is one of the best massage therapists I have ever had. She said it's very common for blind people in China and other Asian countries to practice acupuncture and massage, and it's actually considered an advantage!

And then she asked me if I would be interested in helping her with logo design and layout work for her massage clinic business which was in the process of starting up, in exchange for free massages, and I said YES with no hesitation.

We talked a bit about her company, its name, her ideas and thoughts about the logo, and I had immediate ideas jumping into my head. She has a really, really COOL name for her company, which I can't say yet, because the company registration isn't quite finished. I went to work over the next week and came up with 6 designs to present to her. But then I had a moment of panic, because

HOW DO YOU SHOW LOGO DESIGNS TO SOMEONE WHO IS BLIND??

I knew that I could describe them well enough that she would have a good idea of what they looked like, and since she was sighted for most of her life, I knew she would understand the concepts and the colors, but I wanted her to be able to SEE them somehow. I didn't want her only relying on the opinions of OTHER people around her, though I knew she would have to do that as well. Then it hit me, if she couldn't SEE my designs, maybe I could figure out a way that she could FEEL them. Like Braille, but not just dots!

So, I printed out each logo suggestion on a full sheet of paper, and I got a cardboard box and flattened it out. Then, because I couldn't see the design myself from the back of the paper, I PRESSED down the design from the front, on top of the cardboard, being very careful not to rip the paper, and then I flipped each one and pressed it again so that when the paper was right-side-up, the design was raised/embossed and she would be actually able to trace it with her fingers and SEE it physically!

And it worked! She was thrilled! And I was super pleased with my own ingenuity!

She had the logos for 2 weeks and then we met again and discussed them and I came back with some design changes to make. She had shown them to several people and gotten lots of good feedback that I've also brought back to figure out how to incorporate (the comments that were actually useful). I've started round two of the drafts and will have something for her soon, but it turns out that I'm discarding (with her permission), most of the designs I already made, because I came up with a better one this time around. I have one I am really pleased with from the first round, and this new one, so she won't have so many to have to choose between this time, which is how it should be...we are narrowing down to the best option that really works for her and for her company. She says I shouldn't be trying to finish it too fast and I laughed and said I could milk the free massage thing forever with just the logo design if I thought I could get away with it!

After the logo is decided upon, I still need to design business cards, signs, a pamphlet/flyer and a price list, so I know I'll still get a few more free sessions before I have to start supporting her business the monetary way. It's a fun project, and I'm really glad that I can contribute something for her.
  • Current Music
    Troye Sivan—Youth
motherhood

CREEPING UP

This weekend was filled with family thoughts in many different ways. Because it was the weekend after Thanksgiving, which we can't celebrate on Thursday here in Sweden, it was also filled with the friends who have become family over the years.

I went to the annual AWC wreathmaking workshop on Thursday evening, and we figured it out it was the 20-year anniversary. Not a huge turnout this year, but it was fun regardless, and I was quite happy with my wreath. I don't understand why no one else takes advantage of the gold spray paint that Rosa always has on hand, but MY wreath is a little extra-blingy!

Friday, I took the day off and went to get my hair done. Afterwards, I picked up stuffing from one of the guests coming Saturday, so Anders could actually cook it in the turkey(s) this year, and then went to the grocery store for all the last minute stuff for the feast. But the friend with the stuffing warned me that she had been sick all week and while SHE was on the mend and should be fine for Saturday, her family was all coming down with the same thing. And by Saturday, they had to cancel so our count dropped from 23 guests to 17...which made one of the turkeys redundant, but it was too late, since it was already in the oven. So we have an absolute BOATLOAD of turkey leftovers. Anders made turkey quiche for dinner tonight (and put stuffing on top!), and I had a turkey sandwich for lunch, and we did send a huge pile of tupperware full of leftovers home to the sick family, but still: boat load. (Not complaining, just saying).

Saturday, most of the prep work was already done. We did some final cleaning in the morning, and then I set up tables and set them and decorated. Then we had to re-do them when the one family canceled because we suddenly didn't need one of the tables. Our guests arrived at 5 and we were sitting down to eat by 6 and it was really nice. My two best friends (with one's husband) stayed quite late, sitting chatting in the living room, while I restlessly roamed around the house cleaning up. I couldn't sit because I was SO FULL. :D

On Sunday, Karin moved out. She's sharing a sub-let with a friend, on an apartment in Lund, for 4 months. It's not the first time she's moved out, as she rented a friend's apartment for a couple of months this last summer, but this time she took furniture with her. And I spent a good part of Sunday sorting through Christmas ornaments, trying to separate out all of hers and Martin's, so I can send him his. That was a lot of empty nesting stuff to handle all at once. I have very mixed feelings about all of it. Martin has been gone for 2 years and who knows if he'll ever move back. He likes Detroit, and if he can figure out his life there, and find work, then he might stay forever. I can hardly complain, since I did the same thing to MY mom, but urk. Karin will be back in March, but she's heading out again next fall, most likely, for 3 years of university. So, that will be that, I suspect. What shall we do with the kid's department of our house? Hmmmm...

It's weird how this creeps up on you. Your kids are small for so long and then they're not, and even though it's not sudden, you're too busy most of the time to notice how time is passing. I was used to seeing them every day for so long, used to knowing where they were, and what they were doing. Now I have to rely on texts and sporadic phone calls with Martin and soon the same with Karin. She says I'm not willing for her to move out, and she's kind of right, even though at the same time, I AM. It's just weird.

And sad. And good.

But sad.

:)
empty calendar

THE OPPOSITE OF NANOWRIMO

There's no shortage of days in November, no lack of days that I could have been writing, but didn't. November days all seem to blur together in one gray, cloud-covered, drizzly blur. Today was no exception.

A few weeks ago, we had so much work we were drowning in it (not waving, but drowning), and I sent out an email to all the marketing people both in Corporate and out in the regions to give them a heads-up that we were really slammed and could they please 1) give us more than 1-2 days deadline on their requests and 2) be patient, we're going as fast as we can. I send out these emails at least a few times a year when we start feeling really overwhelmed with work and usually it helps for a week or so. But since I sent out the last one, the number of job requests we've had in our ticket system has literally slowed to a crawl. I think we had less than 50 tickets all WEEK, when 50 tickets is usually a ho-hum afternoon's worth. One of my teammates actually asked me this morning if we should maybe send out a follow-up email to say it was okay to send in jobs, whereat all the rest of us went, "Noooooooooo, no, it's fine." I suspect it's the calm before the (holiday) storm. Typically, we get slammed right before the end of the year with everyone wanting all their stuff done before THEY go on vacation. You do realize there are only 32 days left until Christmas, don't you?

Our closet was almost officially finished on Tuesday this week with the arrival of one last piece of Elfa shelving (a clothes rod holder). The closet is AWESOME now. I know, I know, it's a closet. But it's beautiful! It's only almost officially finished because Anders is still building a wooden box cover to hide all the pipes that stick out of the floor against one wall (they're for the floor-heating system). He's got it built, but still has to paint it. Last week, when he was putting up the shelving, I kept coming in and geeking out. That's how you know you've officially passed into never-going-back adulthood, I think: geeking out about your closet system.

We used an Elfa planner online that let us figure out what pieces we needed to set up our closet sides exactly as we wanted them. I have 2 sets of pants hangers on the left with 2 shelfs above them; 2 rods for hanging clothes, one above the other, in the middle section and then a long section with a rod for hanging dresses and longer things on the right, all topped by one high shelf. Anders has a 2-section hanging area, one pants hanger section and a couple of shelves. We still have space for storage of the things that we don't want to put in the garage storage room, plus the other 2 closed-door closets, all inside our beautifully painted, brightly lit walk-in. *geek!*

Karin informed me today that she is probably going to move into an apartment in Lund with a friend until end of March. I think it's a dumb decision because it's quite expensive and she has a free place to live at home. She says she can use her government study subsidy, but some of that is a loan and I think it's stupid to take out unnecessary loans. She says I'm not supporting her. I said I support HER, I just don't support what I think it s bad idea.

We had to make the hard decision not to get a ticket for Martin to come home for Christmas. Ticket prices were just insane to and from Detroit. And we really think he needs to be concentrating on job-hunting there, instead of being here for several weeks doing nothing. He's still having no luck and it's very discouraging. Hope isn't given up yet, though! Fingers crossed, everyone!

I can't believe that the holidays are leaping at me so quickly. Next week is already our AWC holiday cookie exchange (I'm making cranberry pistachio bark), and I've already ordered a few gifts. Next weekend is our Friends/Thanksgiving and then it's only a couple of weeks before I'm on vacation and Christmas is upon us. Eek! The cookie exchange is taking place at our November monthly meeting, which is the last one of the year, and Karin is our guest speaker! She's doing a reprise of a talk that she and Martin gave 10 or so years ago: Growing up bilingual in a dual-national household. I'm looking forward to it, but she told me today she's nervous, because she always mispronounces "bilingual". :D

For those following along, her Halloween party went very well. I helped her decorate and Anders and I vacated the house at 6:30 to go to Malmö. We had a nice dinner at TGIFridays where we haven't been since the kids were small, and then went to see Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I'm not a huge Tarantino fan, and haven't seen all that many of his movies, but it was 3 hours long which fit the bill of "stay away as long as you can, parents". If you haven't seen it, it was very good and full of good actors being interesting, but it turned out to be 2 hours and 45 minutes of lead-up to 15 minutes of total Tarantino batshit insanity. Whee! Then we wen to the Skybar to have a drink, since Anders' nephew works there, and then we headed home.

We got there just after 12:30 which I thought was reasonable. The kids were dancing in the living room (Karin was the DJ at that point) and playing beer pong in the kitchen and outside chatting in the driveway, but the house was in one piece and everyone was having fun. We mingled for a few minutes, then got ready for bed and went into our bedroom. Karin came about half an hour after and I raised an eyebrow at her, since the music was still thumping away, and she said, "No worries, people are calling cabs now and everything will be shut down in about 20 minutes!" and she was right, so that was pleasant. They had played the Halloween games we'd set up: throw the spiders (at the web) and mummy-wrapping and she and a couple of friends made a decent dent in the clean-up job before they went to bed as well.

I'm alone tonight, after having had dinner with Karin. She's out with friends and staying in Malmö tonight and Anders is at an after-work with colleagues. Not sure if he's going to be on the last bus home or if I have to go pick him up. I'm about to head to the couch to either read or watch a movie, I haven't decided which. I'll decide when I get there. Exciting times! Have a lovely weekend, all!
halloween

PHOTOS I DIDN'T TAKE OF THINGS I MIGHT HAVE SEEN

Four of them leaping, crossing the road from one side of the twilit fields to the other. Tails flashing white, they were gone into the dimness so fast I only had time to take my foot off the accelerator. I could only see the idea of deer, the bounding impression of them; headless, hornless, just a fading smear across my vision, safe to the other side.

Earlier today, a rising of crows or perhaps, jackdaws. A black flapping into the trees. The things I see from the drive to and from work: storks stepping sedately, a couple of shine-eyed cats on the verge, the brightest red bush against the white stucco of a neighbor's home, two head-sized pumpkins carved and glowing. There's no time to stop and shoot; they're just stamps of reality against my eyes: look! see! too late, you've gone by.

Some things I see over and over, and admire in the flashing seconds before I'm past: a turquoise door on a tumble-down building, a lone perfectly-shaped tree that stands silhouetted against the sky as I come up the hill. The sun rising over piled sugar beets, the fog wreathing the wind turbines, all the red, red berries hanging heavy on the leafless trees. Can you still call it foliage when it's leafless?

Daylight savings ended and now it's just dark all the time that we're at home. It's just getting light when I leave for work in the morning; today I had to scrape windows as it was near zero. But the sun shone all day and the sky was the extremely perfect robin's-egg blue with no clouds that you wish for in summer. I have to start remembering that sunny no longer means warm. It was BRRRRRY cold today. I was glad of my scarf.

Difficult to believe that Halloween is 2 days away. I miss the Halloween of my childhood. I miss the Halloween of my children's childhood. I miss the Easter and the Christmas of those as well, but that's another post. I miss carving pumpkins with the kids and decorating with bats and skeletons and black cats. Now, I just don't 1) have time or 2) care that much to do those things without them. I didn't do those things much before I had kids (as an adult, I mean), so I guess it makes sense that I'd revert once they were grown, but when I think about it (which is often this time of year) it makes me a little sad. That darn nostalgia! I DO have a giant bowl of candy ready for the neighborhood kids on Thursday, so guess I'd better fling some spiderwebs around the door and get out the bat deelybobbers.

Karin is planning to have a (late) Halloween party on Saturday, here at the house. She wants us to vacate until super-late but I said I'll come home when I want to and if that's too early for her, then too bad. We haven't made plans yet, but maybe we'll go see a movie. Maybe we'll stop at the little brewery pub in the village on the way home, since we haven't been there yet, though I don't know how late they're open. Maybe I'll come home and make them turn the music down! And kick them out! Maybe I'll be dressed as a WITCH when I do it! *cackles*
hearthouse

SOV GOTT!

Our bedroom is done, apart from the closet, which Anders is working on now, and it's so nice it's like sleeping in a hotel room. We are really pleased with the result and it's amazing how paint and new furniture can spiff up a room! I have one more painting that is at the framer's now, but otherwise, everything is back in place.

I went to the same frame shop that helped with Martin's art back in March, and even though I was only there twice, once to drop off and decide and once to pick up the finished pieces, when I walked in on Friday, the owner came out of the back room and said, "Hej Elizabeth! How nice to see you!" ...pretty cool when someone remembers not only you but your name! He told me that my review of his business had really helped and that he's been basically super busy ever since. :)

The painting I brought in was a watercolor that Karin bought for me in Peru. It's tall and skinny and the painting goes right out to the edges of the paper and it's in bright colors. Really different, actually, than anything else I have, and I was struggling to figure out how to frame it and where to put it. But now I have the perfect spot in the bedroom, and because we have so many pink/purple details, I figured I could make it work. We found a beautiful wooden frame with a silvery cast and very thin strips of olive and a red so diffuse it looks pink and a matte board that matches our bedding, both of which pick up colors in the painting.

I took the photos with my iPhone and the colors are a bit off...the gray of the walls, which is a medium-dark slate gray in a blue-ish tone, looks completely green in most of them, due to the yellow tones of the light, but hopefully you get the idea.

Sov gott!
bookfiend

BIBLIOMANIA

We had book group last night and we were a small gathering, only 5 of the usual suspects, but it was cozy and made for a really nice discussion...easy to follow and jump in, without it breaking down into smaller groups, which sometimes happens. The book we discussed was interesting, though I wouldn't have read it on my own initiative: Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton. It's about Hemingway's third wife Martha Gellhorn, and while I pretty much dislike HIM, even if his books are (mostly) good, SHE was fascinating, and I found myself wondering as I often do, why have I never heard anything about her before? She was an amazing woman and writer and war correspondent her whole life, but if anyone has heard of her it's often only in relation to her marriage to and subsequent divorce from Hemingway.

Our organizer also brought along and announced the winners of our annual vote on the book recommendations for what we will be reading after the next meeting, which is the last book from the ones we voted on last year. There are 10 winners this time so we'll have a reading list to keep us occupied into 2021.

I nominated 5 books as usual, and this year 2 of them were voted in plus 2 others that I voted for. There were, in fact, several people who had 2 of their recommendations voted in and one 6-way tie. Lots of non-fiction this time around, but that always seems to be popular with this group. and happily, only one book I've already read, though there is also a repeat author that we've already read one book from last year. I do wish people wouldn't recommend authors we've already read, but I guess maybe the person who did it maybe wasn't in the group when we read the first book by that author. 3 books at least have been recommended before (1 by me, haha!) but none of them made it, so time to give it up.

Here is the list, in case you're interested or looking for something to read!

Key: blue=recommended/voted for by me. green=voted for by me. yellow=already read. The ones with a star in front won.

1. Iodine by Haven Kimmel
2. The Small Backs of Children by Lydia Yucknavich
3. *Wilding—Returning Nature to our Farm by Isabel Tree
4. America For Beginners by Leah Franqui
5. *Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
6. *City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
8. *Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
9. Homo Deus: A History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari
10. The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel
11. Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller
12. See Jane Win: The Inspiring Story of Women Changing American Politics by Caitlin Moscatello
13. *The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger
14. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
15. *Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
16. *The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
17. Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton
18. Before We Were Yours: A Novel by Lisa Wingate
19. *Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know by Malcolm Gladwell
20. Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
21. Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
22. The Reality Bubble: Blind Spots, Hidden Truths, and the Dangerous Illusions that Shape our World by Ziya Tong
23. *Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
24. Grace by Natashia Deon
25. Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty by Ramona Ausubel
26. *The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight
27. Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill
28. Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin
29. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
30. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez
31. Soft City by David Sim
32. The Blue Hour by Laura Pritchett
33. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I'm in the middle of a thrilling space opera series right now though, so book group will have to wait! :D
manic

MY POWER'S TURNED ON

Caught in the work squeeze again and it's getting me down. Even the free Fridays are only sorta kinda helping. Urgh.

We've made a ton of progress on the bedroom renovation and are moving back in officially tonight, though it's not 100% finished. Anders took last Thursday and Friday off and spent both days painting. On Saturday we went shopping and picked out a ceiling fan that works better with the decor than the previous one did (which is being moved to the living room).

I spent a great deal of time putting dresser drawers together and we finished assembling the night stands and the big dresser over the weekend but found out that one of the side pieces for my dresser had been incorrectly included. We were supposed to have two side pieces that mirrored each other but instead we got two exactly the same. And of course their customer support was closed during the weekend so we couldn't do more than file a claim online and wait for them to get back to us on Monday. They are delivering an entire new dresser this coming Saturday (between 9 and 5...sigh), which is a little aggravating because we only need the one piece and I had already assembled all the drawers. So now we have to take them apart again, and try to figure out how to repack the dresser pieces in the boxes. GAH.

Photos will have to wait until after we get that last piece of furniture this coming weekend, but I am slowly putting things back in place as well. We hung paintings last night and the bed is now together and made and ready for sleeping in, yay! We still have to hang the curtain rods and put the new curtains up, too. But it looks really great already!

On Friday, after he was done with the second coat of paint (which ended up being a nice medium steel grey, by the way), Anders and I were sitting in the living room and he said, "You know, I have all this spackle and microlite and paint...seems a shame to let it just dry up. Maybe I should re-do the walk-in closet, too." I just laughed and told him to go for it, if he really wanted to. So now we also have to clear out stuff in the closet and empty it so he can start in there as well! I guess we'll strike while the renovating iron is hot!

I skipped choir tonight because I just wasn't in the mood, and because I really wanted to work on putting the bedroom back together. I have very mixed feelings about this choir, and suspect that I won't continue with it after this term ends in December. I am really happy to be singing again but the format is a struggle and I have issues with the choir leader, plus the songs we've been working on are, with one exception, awful. I'm sorry, but I despise I'm So Excited and having to do arm and hand motions to it just feels completely ridiculous. We have 2 Christmas songs as well, and while one of them is fine, the other is a terrible tune by Bryan Adams (sorry, Bryan, but gah), with banal lyrics and a boring, repetitive melody and a GLARING grammatical error that causes me to cringe every time we sing it. I approached our choir leader after we got it, and pointed out the mistake in the text we were given, which is NOT how the original lyrics go, and asked if we couldn't correct it and she said no, that's how it is supposed to be.

The original lyrics of the refrain in question:

To see the joy in the children's eyes
The way that the old folks smile
Says that Christmas will never go away

BUT the version we've got has two mistakes in the last line. So, we're singing, "...say that Christmas never go away." Which sets my teeth on edge.

The choir I'm in is part of the national Joyvoice choir program which has branches all over the country. It's an extremely popular "anyone can sing" format. You don't have to read music, in fact you don't even GET music. They use an app and recordings of the music and parts for you to memorize, with the song lyrics available if you also want to print them out or read them. I was flabbergasted to hear how many people are in them. Two of my colleagues were in the one in Lomma and said they had around 200 people. The one I joined, in Lund, has around 75 regulars, and the leader said there were actually about 140 who had signed up and paid. Mostly women, of course, but lots of men as well.

Considering that the little choir I was in a year and half ago, in Eslöv, which had a similar format (no reading music, just memorizing), really struggled to get even 15 regular members, I was amazed. It's quite different though, being part of such a large choir. I am used to feeling like my voice and singing skills make a difference in the choir I am in, and in a group this large, they don't. It makes me feel voiceless...which, how ironic. I've been singing in choirs on and off since I was 13 years old, and this one is the least enjoyable for the reasons I've mentioned. The choir leader's manner also grates on me a bit, though I could live with that, if I liked the music she was choosing better. The registration fee was quite hefty, so I'll stick it out through this term, but then we'll see. There must be other smaller choirs around Lund that might fit me better, that aren't church choirs.
empty calendar

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.
hearthouse

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.
alphabetsoup

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