hearthouse

INHALE THE FUTURE, EXHALE THE PAST

I write a lot of posts in my head, apparently. And then I'm surprised when I finally get around to looking at LJ and none of them are there. Where is my thought-transfer writing apparatus? It's over there with the matter transmitter that no one has bothered to build me yet. Damn it. Get busy, matter-transmitter-builders! What are you WAITING for??

If there was a matter transmitter, I wonder if it would be as expensive as flying. I would hope it wouldn't take as long. And that I wouldn't need to worry about getting COVID-19 while I was in transit.

My mom put her house on the market this week. The whole process is going really fast and it's freaking her out a bit, which is freaking me out a bit, too. It's really, really killing me that I can't just BE there to help her. I'm considering figuring out a way to go anyway, but there are so many risks and issues with traveling right now, that I'm really torn about what to do. Plus there's the whole not wanting to go to the land of the insane and the home of the election from hell. If the house sells quickly, she won't have a lot of time to get all her stuff dealt with and packed and moved and she has a LOT of stuff, AND she doesn't know yet where she wants to move TO. GAH!

The real estate company came and took a bajillion photos of the house and made it look gorgeous (which isn't hard because it is) and twice as big, which is, because it's already enormous. I was flipping through the pictures for the second time and found myself thinking that it looked beautiful but that something was off, and then I realized it was because all my mom's photos of family, which are normally all over the house, were all missing. She and my sister removed them all, after the realtor told them that doing so was part of preparing the house for photos and viewings. Apparently, people need to be able to imagine themselves into the house, and they can't do that if your kids and grandkids are mugging at them from every wall.

I saved all the photos to my hard drive, just so I can visit it again virtually, if I don't figure out how to get there before she moves out. I tried to show the photos to Karin but she got so sad and upset about the whole thing she refused to look at them. I know how she feels, and I know my mom feels the same. She and my dad built that house from scratch 25 years ago, and my dad only got to enjoy it for not quite 2 years before he died. That house is SO very much my mom. Beautiful, comfortable furniture, lots and lots of chairs (OMG so many chairs. My mom has a million chairs.) grouped together that invite you to sit and stay awhile, beautiful interesting things to look at every where you turn and lots and lots of room to spread out. It's out in the middle of the woods and her yard is huge, surrounded by trees on all sides. She regularly gets squirrels and deer and wild turkey passing through. Every inch of the place was thoughtfully designed to accommodate my dad's disability and to be a place of peace and comfort. It hosted us for so many family vacations and holidays and parties. I'll really miss it.

BUT. I know it's the right thing to do. I know it's the right time, too, and I'm really proud of my mom for taking the plunge and dealing with this on her own. It's a lot to deal with. Even though she's moved many times in her life...maybe more than I have (and I've moved 29 times!), she's having to do this one largely alone and it's a major one: downsizing and moving all at once.

I think about it too...downsizing and moving. I don't want to move more than maybe one more time, if I can avoid it. Already this house is too big for just two people, with Karin in Malmö (for the moment) and Martin in Detroit, but I'm still not ready to leave it. I love this house. We built it, too, and designed it to have the same kind of comfort and peacefulness that my parents succeeded with. I think it's fine to stay here for a while though and have our home be a place where our children and our families and friends can come to visit and enjoy vacations and holidays and parties.

Too bad I can't get some of my mom's chairs over here via matter transmitter.
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happyfindus

DOWN TO 2, UP TO 7

We're officially a 2-person household again as Karin is in the process of moving out from under her parent's roof and into another (temporary) apartment with a friend, this time in Malmö. Since she is working at Flyinge school, which is literally less than a 5-minute walk from our door, and will have to pay an alarmingly high amount in rent each month, plus deal with parking there, when she could continue to live here for free, I am a bit boggled by her choice, but she's young and cool and ready to be on her own. And since she has now made the decision not to start university next month which would have entailed a move to a new place and new lifestyle, I guess this is the next best thing. Independence that she can pay for with her salary and a place to drop in and sleep overnight when needed. She has to be at work here in Flyinge at 7:45 each morning and with rush hour traffic from Malmö or having to take the trains/buses all the way, she's going to be having to get up awfully early every day to get to work on time...and if she chooses to spend the nights more often here or at her nearby girlfriend's, then I will REALLY question spending money on rent for a place half an hour away.

Ah well, I guess they have to figure it out for themselves, right?

I just realized that I haven't written anything about Karin not starting university this next month as originally planned. Universities are still mostly online only here in Sweden, and with her program being international, approximately 70% of the students in her program can't get here. Her expectations for university life were thus completely wrecked, and she decided to defer for another year. She has applied for a couple of courses in Malmö but is on the waiting list, so we'll see. At least she has a full time job! After losing her job at Axis unexpectedly at the beginning of the summer due to shortsightedness on the part of her managers who didn't give her the correct contract for the correct dates, and having her other part time job as a boule guide dry up, also due to the pandemic, she managed to snag a job working for Flyinge school for a month and a half until school ended. They liked her so much they asked her to come back full time in the fall, so she's been working since school started in the middle of August.

Her room is echoingly empty, even though there is still a lot of stuff stuffed in her closet and some overspill into Martin's plus some miscellaneous boxes and bags. I'm thinking maybe I'll move my treadmill into it, which would make the TV in the playroom watchable again from the sofa. Or the art table that we put in Martin's room after our bedroom renovation. We don't know at this point if, or when, she might move back in. I suspect she'll go from there straight to college next fall (assuming she makes enough money to keep paying her rent and bills in this apartment). After university, which would be 3 years away, I'd be awfully surprised if she moved back home. And by then I'll be pushing 60. How is that even possible? La la la I can't hear you.

I haven't written in ages because honestly, I don't seem to have much to write about. Even my random thoughts and musing seem bland and repetitive to me most of the time. I've managed to persuade 2 people to step up for AWC board elections and with the 1 other person who volunteered and the majority of the board staying on, we only have 1 more position to fill, and it's the least important. In fact, it's a position that I personally think we could do without, so we'll see. We have the board elections coming up at the end of September but we still don't think we can have an in-person meeting and on top of things, the hotel we've been using for our monthly meetings up until the start of the pandemic, just drastically raised their prices and because we waived dues for this year (due to the pandemic and not being able to have activities and meetings), we can't afford it anymore. It's always something, isn't it? We had just gotten the board positions pretty much filled, which was a fairly stressful process, and now this. Urgh.

We also moved into our new office headquarters, a brand-spanking-new building, the week before last, and I've been working on site for 3 days so far. I'll be in the office again Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday next week as well, before I rotate back to working from home. We're on the 7th floor, facing northeast and my team is sitting in a fairly large open landscape room with huge windows and a fantastic view on 3 sides.

We still haven't settled exactly how we want our desks arranged and the discussion has been unexpectedly painful and drawn-out since there are so many opinions and so many individual requests: sit by a window, not sit with backs to the window because of the light/reflection (which is impossible in this room anyway), move away from the entrance, not sit with backs to traffic and/or entrance, keep our teams together, not have to walk behind someone else to get to your desk or be the one someone else has to walk behind. I think we've had 7 different sketched-up suggestions for arranging the room so far and we still haven't arrived at one that makes everyone, or even the majority, happy. We are not allowed to move our furniture ourselves, though one of my teammates and I already did rotate our desks because both of us were sitting with our backs to the entire room, which was very uncomfortable. I actually like how I have my desk now but I know I won't be allowed to keep it that way. Sigh.

Also, I'm pretty sure summier over since, although I have yet to see a sugar beet on the side of the road, the spiders have made a concerted effort to move into the house. I've seen at least 3 large daddy-longlegs in various places inside today. Maybe they think since Karin has moved out, and we have 2 empty bedrooms that there is plenty of room for them.
cleaning-sweep

I DID THIS AND THIS AND THIS AND THIS

I woke up with a headache and haven't been able to shake it all day, despite drinking lots of water, sitting with the neck massager and taking ibuprofin. It's still there, behind my eyes and at the base of my skull. Gah. It's been a very productive week; in fact, it's been a very productive 3 weeks (technically of vacation, but since I have worked almost every day I'll have to tell my boss I only actually took two weeks). I had quite a long to-do list when I started and I nearly doubled it during the course of vacation. Here is what I have accomplished, since, as I told my sister a couple of nights ago, I like making lists:
  • cleaned out the computer desk, hall closet, storage room, pantry, bathroom cabinets, laundry room cabinets and computer room closet
  • had a broken bracelet fixed
  • had a picture framed
  • washed all the sofa and chair and recliner cushion covers
  • replaced the playroom sofa
  • got Karin to do her FBARs and US taxes
  • got some things dry-cleaned
  • purged a bag's worth of books
  • mailed sheet and poster to Martin
  • repotted the monstera
  • organized the DVDs into plastic pockets, and cleaned out a huge box of old photos & negatives
  • cleaned out the refrigerator and defrosted the freezer
  • scrubbed the recycling bins
  • completed and mailed bank paperwork
  • updated the AWC website, started the membership renewal list and wrote a huge document of considerations on a project for the board
  • mopped all the tile floors of the house
  • had an eye appointment and ordered new glasses
  • ordered new deck furniture
  • bought new throw pillows for the sofa and a new kitchen mat
  • scheduled massages for Karin and I next week
  • walked on the treadmill nearly every day
  • had a birthday
  • did far too much of my day job even though I was supposed to be on vacation
  • went to Bosjökloster for a day with my best friends, and had dinner with them twice
  • visited Anders' mom, from a safe distance
  • read the book for book group, among others
  • watered the garden every night
  • deadheaded the roses and pelargoniums
  • picked fresh vegetables for our lunches and dinners from the garden: snap peas! potatos! tomatoes! carrots! kohlrabi!
In addition to all that, Anders has finished the deck! He laid the last few planks today. And he's done a boatload of yardwork, including weeding, hedge-trimming, and mowing. Tonight he's out kayaking on the river that runs through our village and tomorrow hopefully he will start on the porch. Just in case you think I have nothing left to do, here is the rest of the to-do list:
  • Make doctor appointment
  • clean up vegetable garden
  • dig out new vegetable garden (so we can double our production next year!)
  • clean out stones in space behind house
  • clip and repot all the jade plants in the kitchen
  • pay taxes owed for Martin
  • repaint the garage
  • deep clean in the kitchen: behind/under oven, fridge, freezer
  • request new stimulus check for Karin
  • plan where to plant butterfly bushes for next year
This is probably the least slug-like vacation I have ever had. I think I need a vacation from my vacation! But I have actually enjoyed most of it...I did it at my own pace with no stress and relaxed a lot inbetween things. One of my colleagues who I handled a request for a few days ago told me I was bad at vacations (and that I was her most valued co-worker). I laughed, but I can't decide if she's right or not. I don't think I'm constitutionally able to do NOTHING for very long. And I am quite pleased with the amount of stuff that I have crossed off my list and accomplished during the last almost-month.

Anders gave me a small circular granite birdbath for my birthday and we set it up in the yard, beside the trellis, in front of the big rosebush. It's so heavy that I can't even lift it. He said today while he was workiing on the deck that at one point there were 9 or 10 little sparrows clustered around and in it. Yay!

It's been beautiful weather the past two days, slightly cooler than the heatwave we had at the beginning of the week, when temperatures hit mid-90s. Now it's back down to low 80s, clear and sunny and very slightly breezy: perfect in every way. Even if I only have 4 more days before I have to officially start work again, and even though we have spent our entire vacation at home, pretty much literally, it's been fine. I do wish I could have gone to the States as we had originally planned at the beginning of the year, but it will be all the more anticipated for when we can actually go...whenever that may be.
goingroundandround

WHAT TO DO

Ermagerd, it's already August. How time flies when you're... oh, never mind. Time isn't flying, actually. It's moving, at least. All the things that I usually look forward to about the fall and the holidays feel very far away and unattainable right now. Everything is still canceled. Things are still closed. We're not seeing friends or going to parties. I don't know if anyone is planning on hosting a crayfish party this year, but even if they were, I'm not sure we'd go. We have no info about Karin's starting university in a...month? some weeks? We have no date and no info on school start, actual classes or not, or housing.

One week of vacation is done, and I have crossed off a ton of things on my to-do list, including lots of things that I keep adding to it. This was my to-do list at the start of last week:



It was actually only the TOP piece of paper but because I was squishing things in around the edges, Anders decided to help me out by extending it. Good thing he did, because I've filled most of the second piece of paper already as well (and crossed most of it off)! I've also WORKED a little bit almost every day, simply because there was still so much on my plate in addition to what I was covering for other people. And there are certain types of work that only I handle and I didn't feel comfortable leaving them for the newbie and our freelancer to do, so. But it's been fine. I've only worked a bit and only when I felt it necessary and it wasn't a burden or anything. I'm trying to do at least one of the things on my list every day and I am being a slug, too: sleeping in, walking on the treadmill every day, reading, and playing plenty of ipad games. I'm actually not watching much TV though Anders and I have watched a couple of movies. I just haven't been in the mood.

The AWC board decided to waive dues for our members for the whole year, since we don't know how long the restrictions on gatherings will last and we can't really organize or hold any meetings or activities. That includes new members joining until February, which is our half-year mark, and then we will reevaluate the situation and see if we need to start charging new members again at that point (which is only half-price anyway). We are also in the middle of a huge discussion about some major changes and it will be very interesting to see how that plays out.

The summer is half over already but it's still light plenty late into the evenings. Anders has gotten the entire base laid for the deck/porch and will start laying the deck tomorrow. I expect the deck will be done in 2-3 days at the pace he's keeping. The porch will be next after that, and he'll be reusing parts of the old one, so I hope it will also go quickly. It will be really nice to have it done, it's going to be awesome to have it all nice and new and larger.

Tomorrow's vacation agenda includes taking a picture to be matted/framed, taking 2 skirts to drycleaning because they're pleated and I can't deal with pleats, and probably working some, since only our freelancer is there tomorrow and Tuesday and she's going to be overloaded. Today we went to see Anders' mom (from the inside of her porch with glass between us) and I repotted a rootbound plant that desperately needed more room, so you can see, I am taking it easy. :D
ducky

NEWS FROM THE INSIDE OF MY HOUSE

Where do people go when they stop blogging? How can they stand not knowing what's going on in the lives of the friends they've made online? How can they stand not knowing how the story continues? Even though I can go weeks without posting, I can't imagine stopping forever. Or, well, I can, but I don't want to. I like having this record of my life, my thoughts, my obiter dictum. I still think about blog friends, online friends, who left the blog world years ago. Just dropped off, stopped writing, as if no one cared that they were gone. I wonder what they're doing. I hope they're okay.

Sometimes I'll see them on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter...so I know they're still alive. The lure of the quick and easy 140 character limit has won over nearly everyone these days. Blogging takes time and thought and sometimes research and preparation. It's WORK. But satisfying work, nonetheless. I think it's the most rewarding form of social media, and I'm not even talking about the affirmation and validation. The act of writing itself is a reward.

I'm officially on vacation tomorrow. Or more to the point: staycation (or hemester as they call it in Swedish). If this had been a normal year, we'd be heading to the States right about now. Instead, we'll be spending our time off at home. Working on projects around the house, like everyone else, everywhere. I have already crossed off several things on my to-do list, but I also added several things, so no itemized progress has been made. Tomorrow I'm going to spend the day with my two best friends...we're going to Bosjökloster to see the exhibitions and have lunch. Anders and I are also talking about a couple of places to take day trips to, during the next three weeks; we'll see what we decide on.

Other updates

Karin got accepted to Linné University and will start in the fall (in, like, a MONTH! EEK!) in Växjo. It's about 2.5 hours north of here. She's enrolled in an international marketing communications program but is still awaiting word on whether the school will be holding classes or only providing online learning. If the former, she also has to find a place to live and student housing was tight before the pandemic; now it's REALLY hard since so many people have applied for school since they are out of work.

Martin quit his job at the sushi restaurant, since his boss was doing shady stuff with his salary, and had lowered it back down to $3-something an hour. Since they are still not getting much in the way of tips, which is what he was basically living on before the pandemic, he couldn't afford to keep working there. He's been applying to several different places, had an interview at Dominos on Saturday, and got the job on the spot. They pay much better, though I suspect he will tire of it quickly, so I hope one of the other applications pans out. He and Malachi, and their friend/current roommate Isis, are moving this coming week to a new apartment across the street from where they currently live. They are quite happily in the middle of arranging furniture, painting, cleaning, etc. Martin has turned into a plant-daddy, and has acquired a whole jungle of green growing things to lavish attention on, including six plants from my grandmother's apartment that really need the love. I never got to see his first apartment! (I mean, apart from photos and video phone call tours). I hope I'll get to see this one in person at some point.

I remembered yesterday that the AWC board needs to get in gear for the fall, and our new season and started sending emails and messages to people. We are facing a crisis, both thanks to the pandemic and the fact that two vital members of our board are stepping down at the end of September, and we don't have any good replacements lined up. We haven't been able to have any activities or meetings since February, and it's looking like that will continue through the end of the year, which means that all three of our biggest events will be canceled and/or drastically scaled down. I am beginning to wonder if we'll survive all of this. In addition, of our three activities officers, which are basically the most important jobs on the board; one has been sick with COVID-19 since March, one has ghosted us completely, and the third one has been useless; she lives quite far away, offers to help, but doesn't do anything concrete. :( URGH. The sick one is one of the ones stepping down, and while I can't blame her, I am really bummed, because she was really good, and active the first part of the season, before she got sick. So, we have at least 4 positions to fill and under the circumstances, none of them will be easy. GAH. And all that isn't even ON my to-do list yet.

And you? How ARE you? Are you okay?
forthehalibut

MOVING FORWARD, MOVING UP, MOVING IN

Anders is on vacation and so far, he's made an awesome start on his vacation project, which is redoing the entire deck and making the glassed-in porch bigger. In 2 days, he's already ripped out and removed the entire deck and the porch walls. Tomorrow he has a trailer all day to take multiple loads of wood to the dump, and on Thursday he's rented a container to remove all the sand that was underneath the deck. Right now, he's doing a side project: removing the stump of the plum tree. Not easy!

I am still working. If I can make it through this last week of work, I have three weeks of vacation ahead of me, with the disclaimer that I will probably do some work during it, regardless, especially next week, when there are only 2 people there, the newest person on our team and our freelancer. It makes me a little nervous. We've been non-stop slammed with work since the summer started and people started going on vacation...no dip in incoming jobs due to vacations, nope. In addition to handling all my own work, and keeping an eye on everything coming in for our team (as a first line of defense), I've also been covering for the entire illustration team, and have all my teammate's translation jobs, neither of which has been onerous, but has required emailing and coordinating.

Even with the directive to work in the office if you are not on vacation, instead of rotating, today was the highest amount of people on our entire floor so far: 8. It's VERY quiet. I spent some time today packing up the 4 cabinets of archives that we have. I still have to pack up my own desk and PC, but will wait until Friday. We are supposed to be moving to our new building the week I get back, in the middle of August, but we don't have a definite moving date or place/room numbers yet. We'll still be in open landscape, more's the pity, but at least it is one big room away from the traffic lanes. We'll be on the 7th floor. I've been told our floor is the best, as we have TWO terraces, but I have yet to see inside the building as access has been severely restricted. This is an architectural sketch, but it's basically exactly like this:



This is from the back:


Some time ago, I mentioned the logo and design work I was doing for a friend, and it's almost all done now. Her logo was finalized a few months ago, and I designed 2 flyers: a single page for digital use/download and a trifold for printing, and her business cards in both Swedish and English. Then my friend Russell and his brother Michael built the website for her, and her Facebook page. I'm really pleased with the results of everything. It was a challenging project, designing a logo and materials for someone who can't see them. I haven't heard yet if she's had a chance to review the online sites with her screen reader, but I think everything looks fantastic. Check it out: blindspot Wellness



In other news: Karin turned 21 last week. How is that even possible? She celebrated with a small-ish group of friends here in the backyard, playing beer pong and chilling on the deck (pre-removal). Our garden is doing pretty well...we've harvested lots of snap peas, and potatoes. I've had 2.5 kohlrabi. All of our carrots pulled so far have been weirdly stunted. We have lots of tiny artichokes, and I have (probably too) high hopes for them. And one of the tomato plants fell over during the windy week we had last week and broke, so I'm pretty sure the tomatoes that were ripening on it are a lost cause. I've written a to-do list for my 3 weeks of vacation that is full of things to clean out and purge. It's a really long list. I'm weirdly excited to get started on it (I've already crossed things off it that I got done last weekend, haha!).

I just heard a V of geese honking overhead as they flew by. Are they heading south already? Do they know something we don't know?
happyfindus

BERNICE MCNALLY PANGBORN 1916-2020

My last grandparent passed away today. I'm sad about it, but at the same time, she lived an unbelievably long life and she went peacefully at the end. Just think, if she had managed to hang on for just another 3 weeks, she would have been 104 years old. Still, she beat her own mother, who was 2 weeks shy of 103 when SHE died. It was really tough at the end, for my mom and my sister, who have spent the last three weeks caring for her around the clock. Thanks to the pandemic risks and travel restrictions, I couldn't go to the States to be there and help, which has been awful and left me feeling horribly guilty and helpless, even though it wasn't under my control.

It's weird to think that I no longer have living grandparents. I've had nearly 56 years of having grandparents, at least one of them. My own great-grandmother (the last of my great-grandparents and the only one alive after my early childhood) died when I was 26. Of my four grandparents, my dad's father died when I was 5; I don't remember him at all. He's still out there on the Internet, though...you can Google and find a lot of his medical papers and writings on early cancer research. His wife, my dad's mother, died in 1990 and my mom's father passed away in 1993. I was a young adult by then, and I had fond memories of both of them, having spent many holidays and summers visiting them in Chicago and Detroit, respectively. And now, my mom's mom in 2020, 27 years after her husband.

My grandmother, the one who left us today, made the best gingersnap cookies in the world. Her cookie jar was always full; in fact, many of my memories of her are in the kitchen. I remember her letting us make little pie patties from leftover pie dough, sprinkling them with cinnamon and sugar. She made fantastic Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and loved having the whole family around. She was a keen Bridge player, into her late 90s, and I remember her dancing with my grandad to Lawrence Welk's television show when I was small. She loved her family, her kids and grandkids and made her home welcoming and cozy for all of us when we descended upon her. She rooted for the Detroit Tigers, was a crossword fanatic and loved ice cream. I remember her in the evenings at family parties, with a drink in one hand, sitting at the card table, playing cards, laughing and joking with everyone. I think being surrounded by family made her happier than anything.

family_party.jpg
Typical family evening: Aunt Kathie, Aunt Joanne, Uncle Mike, Grandma, Uncle Sam, and my mom

I know small details about her life, but realize that there are huge gaps in my knowledge. I know when she married my granddad, but not how they met (though I might have been told at some point, and subsequently forgotten). I know she worked with my grandfather at his tool & die company for years, but not what she did during the war, for example. I know that she had very little family of her own and really adopted her husband's entire gigantic clan wholeheartedly. I plan on talking to my mom soon to write down more stories and memories and events of her life. She told us lots of stories over the years, but I never wrote them down at the time. Stupid. Write stuff down. Always, always, write stuff down. Your memory is more fragile and scattered than you know.

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My grandmother as a small child

greatgma_with_grandads_sisters.jpg
Babes on the beach: My grandma is in the center, with 4 of my grandad's sister's around her (Mary & Leta on the left, Flossie & Arla on the right), mid-1950s

grandad_grandma_pangborn.jpg
50th wedding anniversary, 1981: Wallace S. Pangborn and Bernice McNally Pangborn

greatgma_uncle_sam.jpg
Laughing with my Uncle Sam

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Still partying at 100 years old!

mk_greatgma_summer2016.jpg
With great-grandkids Martin and Karin, summer 2016

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Eating ice cream, a favorite treat

Rest in peace, Grandma. And say hi to Granddad!
happyfindus

PATRIOT ACT

It's the 4th of July today but we aren't celebrating. We had tentative plans to attend a social distancing picnic with the AWC at the beach, but the weather and pandemic fears caused it to be cancelled anyway. It's been raining steadily all day, an unending downpour in various degrees of severity from drizzle to hard-enough-to-bounce off the asphalt. Ah well, the lawn needed the water.

Despite the rain, we were super busy today. Anders was up and out of the house before 8 am to fetch a rented trailer van and as soon as he came back we filled it up with furniture and various bags of stuff to go to charity and then filled the rest of the trailer with garbage/recycling to go to the dump.

I don't know how the dumps/recycling centers are where you live, but they are VERY organized here. There is a container for everything and signs telling you exactly what you can put in each of them, and staff to check that you aren't being willfully stupid or contrary by throwing things any old place. There was even a double container for furniture and other donations but the woman there looked over our stuff and rejected it all. :D

We ditched, finally, the mattress and box springs from the American double bed that I bought BEFORE I met Anders, back in Chicago (the antique black walnut frame is in the attic, now). The bed moved from our room to Karin's and then was languishing in Martin's room. Since all the bed sizes are totally different here, we couldn't get a replacement mattress that fit; it was time to say goodbye. It makes me sad because I LOVED that bed. I know putting it in the attic was stupid, because it will probably never come down from there again until we move/die, but I still couldn't bear to part with the headboard and footboard. The mattress and box springs went into a specific container designated for those "and sofas". There were containers for wood, cardboard, garden waste, electronics, chemicals, plastic, you name it.

We pitched everything that was for the dump and then headed to a huge charity shop that takes donations, in Lund, where we dropped off the furniture and other various bags and boxes of miscellaneous stuff that I'd been gathering during the course of the year, to donate to the annual Flyinge flea market that usually takes place in August. I suspect, though we haven't actually heard anything, that it will be cancelled this year, due to COVID. The charity shop was hopping, full of people, only two of whom had masks on. We were pretty much in and out, after handing over our stuff. Too many people in one place is freaky nowadays.

Then we drove to a different part of Lund and picked up a bed for Karin (one of Anders' colleagues gave it to her when he moved back to Germany), plus a huge mirror and shoe shelf for her room. So, the bed she had in HER room, which was actually MARTIN'S bed, is now back in his room. It was musical beds for a bit, there, and not in any sketchy way. Now I'm trying to organize Martin's room and clean it up, since the moving of stuff caused chaos (Karin also got rid of her dresser, and since she doesn't yet have a replacement, her clothes are in HIS, plus several bags all over the place).

Good thing I didn't have any plans today, eh?

Then I called and talked to my mom and sister for a bit. My grandmother is still hanging on, but they expect the end will come any time now. :(

I've also spent quite a bit of time today investigating ways to get our stimulus checks deposited. I went to our bank office on Thursday after work only to find out they will not accept ANY foreign checks whatsoever and haven't for years. Then I went down the street to the other bank that I had been told MIGHT accept/cash them. The woman I talked to told me that...well, maybe, but the whole thing is currently up for discussion in their upper management since they are now getting so many inquiries from people about these. She said I should first call the IRS (!) and make sure I was entitled to the check, which, ...what? Give me a break. Because it was in the news that the IRS actually did send out checks in error and was recalling them (though not from people like me). And then, if the answer was yes, I could choose to come back and they would cash the check...to the tune of 1500 SEK and several weeks of waiting while they apparently MAIL IT BACK TO THE US FOR VERIFICATION. And if it is refused, you don't get the fee refunded. So.

I had also heard that Paypal might be an option and apparently it is...if you are in the US or have your account attached to a US bank. After quite a bit of mucking about with Paypal's website and their app it appears that their service won't work for us. Last attempt is to see if I can deposit it with my American credit union account via their mobile app. Fingers crossed! I have to call them next week to get help because I don't have all the info I need here. Karin got her letter on Friday, with her name, her address and the country we live in all misspelled, so who knows if it will work for her to sign over the check to me so I can deposit it at my credit union as well, or whether we have to request a new check for her from the IRS.

Now, we're going to go finish up our Independence Day Saturday by watching a movie about a real American hero: Mr. Rogers.

Happy 4th to you all!
tired

LIFE, VEGETABLES & OTHER TIMELY TOPICS

Every day mostly the same. Same routines, same meals, same feelings. I wake up, I shower and dress. I work, I eat something. I read something. I walk on the treadmill. I do laundry. I play games on the iPad and think about writing. I call my mom or my son. I talk to my husband and my daughter. I water the garden and the vegetables and admire the roses. Sometimes, something changes and I see a couple of my friends or we visit Anders' mom (from behind plexiglas, when it's not raining).

In our garden, there are tiny green tomatoes already, and 2-inch long snow peas. I thought they were going to be snap peas but apparently I mistranslated the seed packet and bought the wrong one. Which isn't wrong, since I like snow peas, too. The artichokes have been infested by tiny black aphids, and when I went to to the plant nursery, despite telling the staff what they were on, she directed me to a spray bottle, and while I was in line to buy it, I read the label thoroughly and it said "not for use on anything you are going to eat!" so I set it down and left without it. We have the same aphid issue on the cherry tree (which is not the reason we have no cherries this year) and a while back someone told us to spray with a soap & water solution.

So, we mixed that up, and sprayed the artichokes (in the late evening so the sun wouldn't cause burning) but the sun burned it anyway and everywhere we sprayed, the leaves are curling up brown. There are 4 baby artichokes on one of the plants and 2 on the other, but I don't know if 1) they will survive or 2) if they will be edible if they do.

We've already had one meal with our own new potatoes and they were SO good. Delicious little balls of butter-flavored potatoes (no butter actually included). The kohlrabis and carrots seem to be doing well this year. Today, Karin and I went to the plant nursery and bought geraniums (pelargoniums) and I replaced all the spent, leggy pansies that have been drooping in the heat. They didn't have the shocking neon-pink ones I prefer, alas. I had to buy pale pink and purpley and light red. The roses and honeysuckles have exploded, like every summer; they are a real feast for the eyes and nose.

I read two fantastic books in a row this week; gobbled them up. I highly recommend them if you like whip-smart topical essays: both by Lindy West, the first one is Shrill and the second one is The Witches are Coming. Good stuff.

The other thing on my mind is the fact that my grandmother is dying. And my mom and sister are dealing with it all first-hand, with almost no other familial help. My sister's daughter is there, helping around the house, and cooking, and Martin has made it there a couple of days to be on hand, but that's basically it. I don't know if my cousins and their kids don't know what's going on or don't care. Either way they are total no-shows, which makes me both sad and upset. If I could be there, I would. It's not like this is an unexpected thing, seeing as how my grandmother is a month shy of 104, but the slow end of a long life is demanding, emotionally draining and brutally physical for the caregivers. It's hard to think of my grandmother the way my mom and sister describe her this past year. It's hard to remember what she used to be like before she got so old. Back when she played card games and laughed at her family teasing her and kept the cookie jar full with her delicious gingerbread and chocolate chip cookies. Back when she lived on the lake and we could go up and sleep in the bird room in the summer and sit under the marten house and hear all the old family stories. She's the very last one of that generation, on my mom's side. The wheel's sliding around and down a notch.

It's the first of July. Six whole months of this year have managed to slide by, both quickly and slowly at the same time. Hard to believe it's past midsummer already. Hard to believe the state of things. I feel hopeful and hopeless, simultaneously. I'm afraid to get my hopes up for change.

My stimulus check arrived in the mail yesterday, 2 months after it was mailed (according to the IRS website). Karin's still hasn't shown up, neither has the accompanying letter for her (I got mine a week ago). But now I face the issue of trying to get it either deposited or cashed, since apparently Swedish banks are refusing them. One of my friends, who also got hers the yesterday, went to 4 different banks and the currency exchange place, all of whom turned her away. Ugh. Free money is a real pain, hahahaha. Gah. We've heard that one bank might be willing to cash them, and there might be some way to get it deposited using Paypal, but I haven't had a chance to investigate either option yet.

I've seen a question meme circulating on Facebook, asking "one question, answer yes or no": do you wear a mask? I wonder what the point is. I suspect that no matter how people answer, they feel self-righteous about their response. We don't wear masks here in Sweden, generally speaking, and despite what the media seems to be saying, we are not all dying like flies here. But there's so much uncertainty about the situation and the curve and risk factors. We might get to the point where we all have to wear masks in public, as well, but I really hope not. We've been socially distant from pretty much everyone for months, but we have a daughter in the group of self-deluded immortals (20-somethings) so who knows what will happen? I hope you all stay safe, anyway.
happyfindus

SSSH

No one knows how to just listen anymore. Every conversation, at least ones that I am often part of, seems to turn into a sort of subtle one-upmanship. I don't think people do it on purpose. I certainly don't do it on purpose. But I find myself doing it too, and it bothers me, both when I do it, and when people do it to me. The fact that they do it unconsciously bothers me, too. It's as though no one is actually listening to anything you talk about except in the context of how it applies to them and your conversation is simply a trigger to talk about their own similar experiences, but WORSE.

Say you are talking to your spouse about an issue you've run into at work with one of the managers. You're venting a little bit, simply wanting to talk it out and get some validation that your reactions in the scenario weren't completely off-base and when you pause for breath, he starts talking about how awful things are at HIS job and how the managers are all idiots and listen to what they recently did that is so much worse than your story. And you find yourself nodding and saying, "oh wow, that IS terrible" and you never seem to get back to YOUR story. It just disappears into the context of the conversation, leaving you feeling rather ignored and unsatisfied about your attempt to get some clarity.

Or say you are talking to a friend about the worry you are feeling for your mom who is far away and dealing with the impending death of your grandmother, her mother, and how you feel so helpless and unable to do anything because you can't go be there to help with anything concrete, and your friend answers you with the fact that HER grandmother just died a couple of weeks ago, also far away, and leaving her feeling helpless. Your response? Sympathy and "oh wow, that IS terrible" and it IS. But.

It's a human impulse, apparently, when you hear a story or an incident or an experience, to share the story or incident or experience in YOUR life that relates, that is triggered by the telling of the first one. And sometimes, it can definitely be helpful, on both sides, because you can get info and insight into how someone else handled something similar to the thing that is happening or has happened to you. It can give you the sense that you are not alone. But I often think it leaves me feeling more alone, and not heard. That my story or incident is simply a reminder to someone of something similar that has happened to them that they must then relate in order to show me that I don't have it that bad.

I think we all need to be better at listening. It's very topical right now, this not listening, with all the people answering "all lives matter" in response to "Black lives matter". When you don't listen, you miss the point. And the point is so often just to be HEARD. Just to get validation, or agreement, or sympathy or confirmation. It's not to get one-upped.

And, maybe in some cases, our answers containing our own stories in response to someone else's ARE our way of saying "I hear you and validate your story with a similar one of my own". Maybe I'm making too big a deal out of this, but it's been on my mind so I thought I'd vent a little, write it out. Maybe get some validation that my reactions aren't way off-base.