crazybouncingowl

A LITTLE BIT OF ORK

I haven't written a thing, though I think about writing. Everything I could possibly write about seems trite in the face of what the world is facing. Any problem I might have is so overwhelmingly first-world that it would be embarrassing to write about it and to be honest, I don't have any problems like that. I'm fine. We're fine. Everyone I know is fine, so far. We've been on a rotating work-from-home schedule for 2.5 weeks and I'm officially halfway through Gilmore Girls and have no idea what I'll watch after that. Westworld season 3? Except how can I watch that without Martin, who is in the state with the third-highest count of COVID-19 cases? (he's fine. making face masks with a sewing machine, but fine)

Friday was April Fool's Day and I was working in the office when I got a text from my brother. A really long text, including two ultrasound photos of his upcoming DAUGHTER. "If this is an April Fool's joke, I'm going to come and kill you, closed-borders be damned." I wrote back and then I called him. Not a joke! It made me cry at the office, I was so thrilled and moved and happy for them, except OMG another baby and they're on lockdown and out of work and already have two kids and OMG. SO HAPPY though!

Then, to show our working-from-home teammates how much we missed them, we wrapped their desks, chairs and everything on them in plastic wrap with a note saying they'd been sanitized for their own protection, and April Fool's one day late! I laughed my head off for 15 minutes while wrapping things in plastic. They came in the next morning and vowed vengeance next year. Paybacks are hell! I'm not too worried...they'll have forgotten by then. And at this rate, we might all still be working from home then anyway!

It's been mostly sunny all last week but VERY cold and the past few days we've had hail showers while the sun was shining and then spitting rain. Today there are those big puffy sheep-like clouds in a very blue sky but it's breezy and still very chilly. The birds are wolfing down the birdseed; I can't keep up with them.

Next week is a short week and so is the week after that, due to Easter. Our boss asked us to make sure we had put in our summer vacation requests and I wrote back and told her vacation seems very meaningless right now. When you can't go anywhere or see anyone and you're already at home, having work to do at least helps break up the tedium. Not that there isn't plenty that we could do here, around the house.

Anders is planning on expanding the porch and the deck. We have the vegetable garden to prep and plant. I want to do a SUPER THOROUGH cleaning of the kitchen and bathrooms. And, there's always laundry. Oh, and taxes. There's always those, as well. I DID get my FBARs done and submitted already, though, so that's one stupid requirement to a stupid government that is done.

I finished a book yesterday which was about two people trying to survive and meet up again in an end-of-the-world story about America after the pandemics have rolled through and the grid has gone down and people are just trying to get by, and it was really good, but also really too close to home right now. I need something more escapist or upbeat now, I think.

It's obvious, I'm sure, that there was good reason for not bothering to write anything. More later, as soon as I ork.
amuse me

LIFE IN THE TIME OF CORONA

I could get used to this working from home thing, even if the social distancing will prove difficult in the long run. I suspect it makes rather a huge difference that my children are grown and (pretty much) gone and it's just the two of us rattling around in here. There are plenty of weekends that I spend, to all intents and purposes, alone, as it is. This isn't that much different.

We started a rotating work-from-home schedule on Thursday, splitting our entire department into two groups and each of our teams into two as well. The idea is that if someone gets sick, they will not be able to infect everyone and it's all about slowing things down and flattening the curve right now. We have a standing 11 am video chat for our little team, which helps, since even when I get back to the office, I won't see everyone and even my boss is on the opposite schedule.

Sweden is a rather social-distancy type of place as it is, so the current crisis doesn't seem to be causing as much freakout as some might have thought. We did have some panic buying a week or so ago, when the toilet paper and paper towel shelves at even our local supermarket were completely empty but they're filled again now. The things have have been low are pasta, canned goods and flour, but even those haven't been completely gone. The only thing that seems to be really hard to get right now is Tylenol-type painkillers. I was at the pharmacy a couple of days ago to get refills on my allergy meds and saw the pain medication shelves were completely empty still, after more than 2 weeks, apart from ibuprofen painkillers, which are supposed to be avoided if you get sick with the Corona virus. I asked the pharmacist about it and she said they'd already had to ration people to 1-2 boxes, since people were buying 10-15 at a time. They were supposed to get a new shipment in yesterday but I didn't go back to see.

I'm working from home through Wednesday next week, then switch and will be in the office from Thursday to the following Wednesday, unless our company decides to send everyone home for good at some point. I have a little command center set up on the dining room table with a big 32-inch monitor and my laptop. The only issue has been the slow connection, which seems to be the VPN to the company and not our actual Internet at home. Yesterday afternoon, it was so slow that I could barely work. Opening files took 10 minutes. Generating a PDF of the large annual report I'm working on took over an hour. VERY frustrating, and resulted in my working later than usual, since I spent so much time waiting for things during the afternoon hours, and even a little time today. Thank goodness we're relatively slow right now, or we'd really be struggling.

I've talked to my family and everyone is okay so far. My mom is on her way back to Michigan from Connecticut, where she was helping my sister with the last preparations before their move to North Carolina this coming week. My mom couldn't drive through Canada to get home, which shaves a couple of hours off the trip, as they'd already closed the borders to all but essential traffic and she didn't think they'd take "getting home to her 103-year-old-at-risk mother" would be considered "essential traffic." Martin's job is down to bare-bones, as restaurants in Michigan have been closed for dine-in guests. His boss is only allowing one server to work each shift since more aren't needed for takeout business. He apparently raised their minimum wages by $1.50 to compensate, since they rarely get tips on any takeout orders (and what they do get has to be split with the chefs, of course). Martin said it was better than a bad regular day but nowhere near a good one. At least he's still working. Karin is still working part-time at Axis, but 100% from home, though she might go on my schedule so she doesn't go completely insane. Her recently-new other hallf-time job as a boule guide at the Boule Bar in Malmö has also dried up completely as all events and gatherings are pretty much cancelled. She's moving back home from Lund next weekend from the apartment she's been living in since January. Apparently the guy who owns the place isn't able to come home so he's rented it out to someone else after Karin's 4-month sub-lease is up.

Honestly, I don't know what I'll do if any of them get sick, but part of me thinks it's pretty inevitable. Being so far away from so many of my family is really hard NORMALLY. Right now, I just want to gather them all close (which defeats the whole purpose of social distancing...). My cousin's son, out in Colorado, was the second confirmed Corona case in Boulder. He's recovering and was still in quarantine as of last week. His mom said he told her it was like being hit by a freight train. And he's a healthy 20-something. My cousin, who lives in the Detroit suburbs, had already reached out to Martin to see if he needed anything and let me know she was available if anything should come up. It's definitely comforting to have family nearby my overseas kid. Especially since he's without healthcare in the worst country to be in for that.

I've had to limit my news intake as it's too depressing. The Swedish newscasts are pretty much all-Corona all the time, and of course it's all over social media. I try to only check the virus statistics website once a day. My brother, who has already been home a couple of weeks with two active young kids and no work, has called more times since this started than he has in months, so I guess that's a plus. :D

Everything we had scheduled through the end of this month is pretty much canceled. The artist talk at the museum of sketches next week, all my choir practices (though the choir leader wants to try having practice via Skype/Zoom), a friend's 50th birthday bash, and all the AWC events. Anders and I have tickets to see a show in Malmö on April 9 but it's up in the air. And I have a hair appointment in 2 weeks which I'm REALLY hoping doesn't get canceled. UGH.

We had a gorgeous sunny day on Thursday, warm enough in the sunshine that I was able to take a 15-minute sun break on the deck in the afternoon. Yesterday was back to gray and rain and a thundering downpour of hail at 1 pm (which all promptly melted), but today was beautiful: sunny again, though still cold. I vacuumed and cleaned up the porch furniture and wiped things down so that we can sit out there as soon as it's really warm enough. We need the sunshine, that's for sure.

I hope anyone still reading this is doing okay and staying safe and healthy. Feels a little apocalyptic out there, around the world, but hey, at least it's all good for the climate crisis, right?
wrung out

ALL OF THE ABOVE, APPROXIMATELY

It's 6:09 am on a Saturday morning as I start typing this. I've been awake since 4:44 am, god knows why. I woke up abruptly, padded to the bathroom, had a drink of water and laid back down, expecting to fall back asleep without a problem, but no. Tossing and turning didn't help and then I started doing layouts in my head and that was it...I was wide awake by 5:30. It's been ages since this has happened. I honestly think that there is so much anxiety swirling around everything right now and this is where it's affecting me today. Today? Tonight? Last night? Right now. All the time.

Can you call it insomnia if it's waking up after 6-ish hours of sleep? Or just a sign of aging? Sometimes it's the birds chirping outside our window when it's a cloudless morning that wakes me up, but I can usually fall back asleep after that. Sometimes it's the people next door who get up super-early to go deal with their horses that wakes me up, but I can usually fall back asleep after that. But layout problems in my head? There's no sleeping after that. I even lay there and contemplating getting up and driving in to work to fetch my laptop so I could work them out for real, but I'm only awake early, not insane.

I'm sad about Elizabeth Warren dropping out of the Presidential race, but what is more saddening, not really surprised. I'm depressed about the upcoming US election and all the stupidity swirling around it. I'm freaked out by climate change. And trying to stay focused on things I can manage results in working on layout problems in my head at 5 am when I should be sleeping. Getting a really well-thought-out and attractive-looking layout done isn't going to save the planet, which doesn't make me feel any better. I sometimes feel like the Earth is shrugging its skin trying to dislodge an irritant. We're the irritant.

I'm worried about the coronavirus and all the stupidity swirling around it, too. My sister's planned tag-a-long with her husband's work trip to Zürich is cancelled...she was going to spend the week with my brother, while her husband was working. My husband's work trip to Italy next week was cancelled and we have 2 people at work in quarantine who were in northern Italy skiing 2 weeks ago. Martin is planning on buying tickets to come home in June and we had been discussing going to the States later in the summer to visit my mom, but now we really don't know what to do. I guess buy rebookable or refundable plane tickets but the extra cost might mean the trip isn't affordable at all and who know what's going to happen in the coming months.

It's getting lighter out but I can see it's not going to be a sunny day. It's quite overcast, though the clouds are high up. More rain on the forecast, for the foreseeable future. I'm so tired of rain. Tonight we're going to dinner with friends and tomorrow I'm going to see Beauty & the Beast at Malmö Opera with Debbie. Might have to sneak a nap this afternoon. It's almost 7 am now. It hasn't taken me an hour to type this...I've been surfing inbetween paragraphs: checking coronavirus statistics and adding books to my wishlist.

I could continue being sad and anxious and freaked out about things mostly outside my control. I could go back to bed and try to go back to sleep for a couple of hours. I could go lie on the couch and read or scroll through Instagram. I could go get that laptop and work on the layout ideas that woke me up to begin with. I could walk on the treadmill, which I do when I get up on weekend mornings anyway. Or all of the above, in approximately that order.
empty calendar

THERE SHE GOES, THERE SHE GOES AGAIN

I don't know why I was just thinking about it, but one thing that I regret is that there are no home movies of my childhood. We never had a video camera, and Anders and I never got one either, when our kids were small, so I regret that, too. Even though we eventually had iphones, it wasn't until the kids were nearly teenagers. We have a VHS of our wedding somewhere, and a film clip some friends took at an AWC fourth of July BBQ when Karin was quite young, but that's pretty much it.

So, February flew by. I guess that's what happens when life is full and busy and work is insane... you don't have time to think about the fact that you haven't written a thing in weeks. Or to feel bad about it, except in passing.

I've actually been to the movies FOUR times in the past few weeks, which must be a record. Karin has been my willing date and we even managed to get Anders out. I've seen Little Women, The Lost Boys, 1917 and Parasite (tonight). Three of those four movies were very good. Two were fantastic, and one (I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader) was so ridiculously bad that I literally laughed out loud all the way through it.

The reason why we were watching The Lost Boys in the first place, seeing as how it was released in 1987, was because we found out that the movie theater here has a a Throwback Tuesday program where they show "classic" movies each week on Tuesdays, probably as a way to fill the theaters on a slow weekday night. I don't know why The Lost Boys rates as a classic, though it was referred to as a "cult classic" on several reviews I read, but it was showing and Karin agreed to go with me on a lark (and regretted it mightily) and it was SO BAD. I THINK I saw it back when it came out, but I honestly can't swear to it, as I didn't remember anything, and MAN, did it not age well.

But watching both 1917 and Parasite made up for it. SO GOOD, so very, very good, in such very different ways. I feel like I'm watching things a lot right now, more than I'm reading, to be honest. I'm watching three series at once as well as suddenly being a movie junkie. We finished The Man in the High Castle, and now Anders and I are watching the BBC Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch (he's never seen it, though I watched it with Martin back when it was released). I also finished (or caught up with The Crown). Right now, I'm watching The Gilmore Girls when I walk on the treadmill, which I never saw, not one episode of, when it was actually showing. And I've watched a couple of episodes each of Carnival Row and After Life. Neither of which has grabbed me quite yet, but we'll see.

I've just started reading City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, which is for book group. I've never read any of her other books, not even Eat Pray Love, which everyone seems to have read. I do that a lot: avoid books that everyone has read, not always on purpose, but still. I'm only a few chapters in, but so far, so good.

What else? The dining room chairs are recovered and done, and look beautiful. Anders had to repair two of them after I finished removing the staples and the old fabric and he finished recovering them. My friend picked a logo and it was the one I was happiest with, so that was good. I'm still waiting for her to give me content for all her marketing materials and stationery so I can provide business cards designs and such, but it's progress. I started a new choir and I really like it. The director is excellent and the size of the choir is large but not ridiculous and I like the songs we're doing. I've made a huge amount of progress on my monster project at work and my manager's boss was pleased with it, so that makes me happy.

Everyone I can think of is doing well, and though there are things to worry about in the news (there are always things to worry about in the news), I'm trying to stay focused on the positive and the things that I can influence and the things that I can manage.

I can't believe tomorrow is already March. Our plum tree is about to burst into leaf and I think it's time to find seed potatoes already. Spring was officially here over a week ago and will be obviously here any day now. Zoom, goes the week, the month, the year. Try to keep up.
youarehere

TIME OF THE SEASON

I refilled the bird feeder with seed and the suet ball holder today and was instantly gratified to see both of them immediately crowded with sparrows and songbirds the moment I went inside. It's very satisfying to think I'm helping the birds in some small way and that they find their way to our feeders at all. I want to plant butterfly bushes this year, too, to try and put some part of our yard to use for butterflies and hopefully, bees. Most of our large yard is just grass, which isn't doing anything useful and since we're rarely out on it, is just a big waste of space.

The book we read for January, for my book group, which I recommended after reading about it somewhere, was Wilding by Isabella Tree. It's a fascinating story of a huge estate in the UK that was intensively farmed for years and the decision the family made to let it revert to a natural state after giving up on the farming which was bankrupting them. The success they've had with the return of various species of wildlife, including many nearly extinct in Britain was interesting and hopeful to read about. I was particularly struck by the anger and threats they were met with by their neighbors and others, who were really mad about the entire project, calling them negligent for allowing their land to go to "waste" just because they were no longer using it for farming. It was eye-opening to read about the connections they made between the way the land was used and the way everything works together in harmony when left alone. It was worth reading for the chapter on earthworms alone.

Anyway, our little yard, while large by the standards of our neighborhood, is a postage stamp in comparison with theirs, and while we can't introduce herds of roe deer or Exmoor ponies or beavers or wild pigs, we CAN plant more bushes and trees that will attract and support birds, butterflies and bees. One thing she talked about in the book which also struck me was how empty the skies have become just since a few generations back. There are no huge flocks of birds anymore, for the most part. Perhaps that's why we're so drawn to the sight of a lone hawk or stork in the air...it's so unusual to see anything at all up there. So, I'm always glad to see the little birds at the feeder. It gives me comfort to see them swooping back and forth from the plum tree to the deck and back.

It's another gray day here...we had sunshine yesterday and once last week, but the sunny days have been far outnumbered by overcast and rainy ones this whole "winter". I think we need to find a new word to describe this season since it no longer seems to fulfill the criteria for "winter" anymore. Meteorologically speaking, we went straight from autumn to spring, rarely dipping below freezing at all. I have only had to scrape windows a handful of times since November and I don't think we had freezing temps for more than a couple of nights at all. Kind of scary to think about, up here in the not-so-frozen-anymore North. Of course, we could still get some real winter weather, all the way into April, even snow, but I sort of think the chances are pretty slim. There were already daffodils blooming in Malmö a few weeks ago, in mid-January.

It's scary, disconcerting, and depressing to think about climate change and how little the actions we take personally matter. Maybe recycling. and eating less meat, and avoiding single-use plastic and planting butterfly bushes isn't much, but it's better than nothing.
findus

DOWNTIME CHEZ LIZARDEK

I survived last week's crazy but honestly, only by the skin of my teeth (which is a horrid expression, ew). It was grueling with work so busy and something to do every single evening. I didn't get home most evenings until well after 9 and since I typically need to be in bed by 9:30 if I'm going to be worth anything the following day, it was a bit of a struggle to remain both upright and cheerful and I don't think I managed all that well, if truth be told. It wasn't that the things I was doing were hard, or not fun, it was just that it was such a relentless schedule for so many days in a row.

Anders and Karin left for a week-long ski trip in Italy yesterday super-early in the morning and I had my two best friends over for dinner in the evening and that was the start of winding down, finally. We had a lovely long evening of chatting and laughing and eating, and I slept like the dead last night and when I work up at 6:50 this morning, I went right back to sleep, and when I woke up again at 8:30 I went right back to sleep again. :D (then I got up and walked on the treadmill, so I wasn't a complete slug).

I've spent the day taking it easy, getting small things done, at a slower pace and I feel quite relaxed and refreshed and ready to face the week. In which, I might add, I have only ONE evening scheduled (choir). Poor Anders and Karin's bags didn't arrive and they don't have any clothes, including their ski suits, so they are not having a fun beginning to their trip. This is the second ski trip in January where Karin's bag was late arriving. I had a nice long phone conversation with Martin and now I'm posting before heading to bed to read.

I quite like having the house to myself. I like that what I put away stays put away. I like that after I clean the house it stays clean. I can watch what I want and eat what I want and I can sleep guilt-free about snoring. I know I'll miss them in a few days, but like every time I get a family-free week, I enjoy every minute out of my downtime. It's funny...I don't think of myself as either an extrovert or an introvert, but somewhere in the middle. I'm not a naturally social person, though I think some people would dispute that because I can put on a good show, but really, days like today are what keeps me balanced. I love to enjoy my space and the people around me at a more leisurely pace.

Sometimes when I write about the things I am doing or accomplishing, it makes me feel both pleased and proud, and rather embarrassed. I know that I'm looking for affirmation in some way; everyone needs validation that they've spent their time wisely or usefully, being productive. Getting things done is part of my way of life; it defines me to myself to a large degree. I get things done. And even on the days when I consider that I'm being quite a slug, I am still, often, getting things done. Minor things, maybe, or only a few things, but still...things get done.

Maybe I'd be better off, or more relaxed, if I was able to really be a slug, but I don't see the point. I believe I can alternate relaxation with production in a balanced way, and it works for me. But it IS nice to just have to think about myself for a week. When my family comes home, I'll be better able to think about them, and that anticipation makes it worth it, and makes me happy.
goingroundandround

FILLING IN THE NEGATIVE SPACE WITH POSITIVELY EVERYTHING*

I was waiting for a friend of mine at the mall on Friday evening, sitting on a bench outside of the store we were going to the grand opening of. I had my phone out and was checking email or Facebook or something and I glanced up to see if I could see her coming yet. But coming toward me was Karin. My daughter. And I thought, "What is Karin doing here??" Only a split second later I realized it WASN'T her at all. It was a girl her age, dressed EXACTLY like Karin dresses, with the same shape face and the same hairdo (blond streaks up in a small bun). My double-take must have been quite amusing.

She was wearing a white shirt and wide black pants, a little short, above fat-heeled white sneakers with a camel-colored wool winter coat and a purse with a thick shiny black strap diagonally across her chest underneath the coat. I swear she was my daughter's twin. I didn't react fast enough to lift my phone up and take a photo and then it was too late; she was around the corner and gone. I texted Karin and told her I'd seen her doppelgänger and she immediately responded asking me if the girl had a nose piercing. "I wasn't that close to her!" I texted back. As if she would have known who it was if I'd noticed a piercing. Is my daughter's style a UNIFORM? Is it what all the cool twenty-somethings are wearing? haha! Maybe it was her evil twin.

Yesterday, Martin called me from the grocery store to ask me what else, besides artichokes, he needed in order to make artichokes for dinner. And how long should he cook them? I had a major flashback to the many, many phone calls I made to my own mother when I wasn't much older than he is, asking her the same kinds of questions. We didn't have Google then or smartphones, so calling my mom was always the best option: she always had the answers I needed and the time to give them to me, it seemed. She basically taught me to cook, by long-distance, since I was forever calling to ask her cooking questions. I gave Martin the answers and told him how to cook artichokes was in my cookbook that he has a copy of. He texted later to say they ended up not having them for dinner since they didn't think the artichokes looked that great.

Karin and I went to a pottery-painting class on Thursday last week that was organized by the AWC. I thought it sounded fun, even though I don't really need any more "things" ...I figured I could always give away whatever I ended up painting. Karin did a large deep-edged pasta bowl in blue blobs and speckled outside. I did a 3-tier candy/cookie holder in a rainbow of colors. It will be interesting to see how they actually turned out, since the colors darken so much after glazing.

Friday I took the day off, one of the compensation days for the hours I worked over Christmas break. The very first thing I did after I got up was to walk for 25 minutes...on my new treadmill! Anders had sent me an email at work the day before, with an ad for treadmills on sale at a store nearby and when I replied "YES PLEASE" he went and got one. They were a SUPER deal and the treadmill is wonderful: very comfortable and smooth to walk on. He set it up for me that evening, so I've been able to walk for 3 days straight and plan to continue at least 25 minutes every day that I can, either right after work, or right after I get up, on weekends.

I also found fabric to recover the dining room chairs with. I took one of the seats with me to the fabric store but there was nothing even remotely close to the pattern we currently have (thin stripes alternating in light and dark green and beige). But I found a gorgeous darker green upholstery fabric with a leaf pattern on it, and sent pictures for approval to Anders. He did, so I bought enough to cover all the chairs, plus 2 extra. Now we have to remove the staples from all the chairs, which is a major chore. Anders' dad staple-gunned the fabric to the chairs for us, and because the pattern was striped he was extra thorough to make sure that the stripes wouldn't move. There must be nearly a hundred staples in each of the chair seats, PLUS another 30 or so more holding a piece of "finishing" fabric over the bottom. Thankfully, Anders has a special staple remover for staple gun staples, but it's still a very manual job.

Anders and I are watching The Man in the High Castle (I am also, finally, watching The Crown) and are just in the beginning of season 3. I wasn't sure about it at first and honestly it took nearly the whole of the first season to really get engaged, but right at the end of season 1 the show went off the rails and now I'm obsessed. It raises all kinds of questions about hairy issues. And I am really waffling about what I think of one of the main characters who both needs to get what's coming to him and ALSO really needs to be redeemed. It's based on a book which I have never read, but might have to, now. Anyway, watching The Crown (while walking on the treadmill!) makes a nice change of pace from worrying about what would happen if fascism and Nazism won the day.

I initially watched the first episode of The Crown ages ago, and my reaction was "meh"...because I know the story. And I don't really care about the British royal family that much, but Karin wanted to watch it with me (she's since had her own "meh" moment), so I gave it another shot, and now I'm hooked, even though I still don't really care about the British royal family all that much. But I find myself Wikipedia-ing things constantly for BOTH these shows, so in addition to being interesting, I'm learning things I didn't know, and that's always a good thing, I suppose.

So, this has been a productive weekend and I have a crazy week ahead of me. The first AWC meeting of 2020 is tomorrow, including our annual media sale, and the trunk of my car is filled with ELEVEN large bags of books. How I'm going to get them from the car to the hotel tomorrow, and then all the leftovers BACK to the car is currently exercising my brain as the hotel is on a main road and there is no good place to stop and pull up near the door. Tuesday, I have to drive BACK to Malmö after work to drop off the books at the school we donate our leftovers to. Wednesday I am trying a new choir, and Thursday is book group (plus picking up the pottery if I can't do it Tuesday). And work is insane, besides.

Wish me luck and I hope to see you on the other side of the week!

*from I Do, by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
key to lizardek

STATE OF THE LIZARDEK

Reading: Wilding—Returning Nature to Our Farm by Isabella Tree

Eating: honey-scented pork filet with garlic-roasted bacon

Singing: nothing yet! Starting a new choir hopefully next Wednesday!

Listening: my Spotify playlist, but I need some new music! Recommendations?

Editing: waiting on final feedback for the logo design for Emily

Drinking: really really cold ice water

Watching: The Man in the High Castle

Waiting for: my next Friday off

Looking at: Instagram

Enjoying: having a clean house

Feeling: like I need a kick in the butt

Finished: the Christmas stuff purge

Buying: new fabric for the dining room chairs, new shades for the floor lamps

Calling: my mom and Martin

Visiting: Anders' uncle Ingvar whom I haven't seen in ages

Wishing: we had had SOME snow this year...still not too late? Maybe?

Wondering: whether I want to push for being a Team Leader at work or not

Cleaning: out books for the media sale

Playing: Two Dots

Paying: for too many months of being a slug

Writing: this post
  • Current Music
    Hoobastank—More Beautiful
  • Tags
cleaning-sweep

OUT WITH THE OLD

One of the items on my long-term to-do list was "purge Xmas stuff". It's been on the list since the summer of 2018 but I couldn't do anything about it last year as we spent last Christmas in the US, so we didn't decorate or have a tree at home. But it was on my mind, as one in a long line of cleaning-out projects that I've been slowly working through.

I actually decorated a bit early this year, as we had our big Thanksgiving dinner at the last Saturday of November and I wanted the house festive for the party. So, all the house decorations were up before December had even started. We put our tree up in mid-December and while I was decorating it, I separated out all of the ornaments that belonged to Martin and Karin (not as easy as you might think). Both my mom and I have given each of the kids a tree ornament pretty much every year of their lives so they both have a about 40 to start their own decorations with. I mailed two boxes of ornaments to Martin and Karin took hers to decorate the little tree in her temporary apartment with.

While I was hanging ornaments on the tree, I also removed ones that, for one reason or another, I had never used, or decided now that I didn't love enough to keep. I gave the kids first dibs but the rest will be going to the Flyinge flea market in the summer. This weekend, I took down the decorations, packing up the tree ornaments and covering the dining room table with all the "house" decorations, and then I did the same thing: packing only the ones that I really love.

Of the six moving boxes of Christmas decorations and ornaments, I managed to empty one and a half completely, which I think is a good start. I plan to try and do the same thing every year...and also squash the impulse to buy new decorations since there is a part of me that is very drawn to glitter and shiny gold and red stuff. I even went through all the things that the kids had made when they were small, adding to their personal piles but keeping a few that made me smile the most.

It feels good to have the house back in order, cleaned and vacuumed. All the paintings are back on the walls and I can enjoy the return to normalcy that packing away Christmas brings. There are no public holidays in Sweden until Easter week, which means we don't have any days off until April 9 (Good Friday). That's 2.5 months of solid work weeks. Because I worked about 3 days worth total over the Christmas holidays, I'm thinking I'll take a couple of Fridays during the "ox weeks" as they're called to give myself some mental health days that I suspect will be much needed. Maybe one at the end of each month until April.

It's Sunday evening, a few hours still to go until bedtime. I've already eaten dinner, and watched some TV and finished one book and started another. It's pitch black outside, and it feels much later than it actually is. I am SO looking forward to more light; the weather has been dreary: rain every day for what seems ages, and the constant cloud cover doesn't help with the darkness. Good thing we still have the advent lights and stars up in the windows...they'll stay up until the end of January to combat the dark!
key to lizardek

CONVENIENCE, COLLECTION & CONNECTIVITY

Sometimes I look at my phone and just marvel about how much things have changed in such a short time. All because of the technology available in a tiny flat rectangle no bigger than a piece of knäckebröd. I know that people moan about how much smartphones have taken over our lives, but honestly, they provide so much convenience and knowledge at the drop of a hat, it's hard not to love them and be impressed.

Think of how much paper we save the environment because we no longer need paper maps or boarding passes or newspapers or calendars or notepads or stationary or photo albums or movie tickets or decks of cards or cash or address books or encyclopedias (or any other books, except that I still love actual physical books) or receipts, or even, in some cases, menus.

Think of how fast we can find out what song is playing or how much 378 x 81,256 is (30,714,768) or what show is playing at the movie theater or whether it's supposed to rain tomorrow in Portland, Oregon (yes, but only scattered showers) or who the King of England was in 1244 (Henry III) or everything you could possibly want to know ABOUT Henry III. Or when the first iPhone was released (January 9, 2007).

You can find out which constellation you're looking at in the night sky. You can find out what kind of tree it is that you just took a picture of.

Think of how many devices they've replaced: watches, alarm clocks, stopwatches, cameras, timers, GPS, radios, record players, ATMs, calculators, rulers, tape measures, flashlights, blood pressure monitors, pulse trackers, step counters, CDs, DVDs, video recorders, tape machines, ticketing machines, parking meters, ...and that's just the SHORT list.

I can see almost instantly where my kids are (or at least where their phones are, haha!). Karin's in Schladming, Styria, Austria. It looks like Martin, who is in Detroit, is at work. :) This comes in extremely handy if their phone is lost or stolen, as Karin can attest to. We can see where we're going and how to get there, and how long it will take us depending on our mode of transportation and whether there is construction in the way that requires an alternate route. We can see exactly where WE are in the whole entire world. We can access street views of almost anywhere, and they're constantly being updated.

Our phones are not just a way for us to talk with those far away from us. We can text them, Facetime them, video chat with them. We can share and update our experiences and happenings and feelings and daily life on social media so that our friends and family know what's going on with us.

We can store so much info that it boggles the mind: photos, contacts, passwords, favorites, web pages, prescriptions, medical information, videos, documents, coupons, music and more.

We can access our banks, our medical history, our playlists, our email, our boarding passes. We can track packages and pay bills and call an Uber. It's really amazing and slightly mindboggling if you think about it.

People say it's frightening how dependent we've become on our phones, but it's not that different from before. We were still dependent on all that stuff; it's just because everything is gathered in ONE device for us now. It's just more convenient! It's all right THERE. We don't have to wait to look something up when we get home or call mom long-distance for a recipe (though I recommend doing that anyway because duh, CALL YOUR MOM) or use a lifeline because you can't remember who played that guy in that show you used to watch. The part that is frightening is the thought of what you would do if something happened to your phone.

For many of us, we no longer have cameras or landlines or calendars or calculators or even watches, except for the ones on our phones. The part that isn't frightening, exactly, but sobering, is how much we let these little devices fill up our time. How many minutes of every day we waste/spend looking at them, getting affirmations from them, playing games on them, using them in myriad ways that have nothing to do with telephony. They're handy little devils, but they sure are addictive. (did you know that they're actually referred to as "handys" in Germany?)

That time we used to spend staring out a bus window or flipping through outdated magazines in a waiting room can now be spent reading a book or watching a show or connecting with a friend. Granted, sometimes downtime and boredom is a GOOD thing. It helps us process and recharge and reset. But for those who loathe wasting time and those who want to utilize every moment to its fullest, smartphones are a godsend. Not that everyone who uses smartphones doesn't waste time...on the contrary. They waste it all over the place. That's what games and social media are for, essentially. But the option...the potential at least, for utilizing your time to the fullest, is there.

I can't imagine life without them, though, and I'm not sure I want to. I don't think I'd want to go back to the way things were before in the sense of convenience, collection and connectivity. I like having a pocket-sized one-stop shop.

Apps I think everyone should have: Weather, Maps, Calculator, Translator, Converters(for money and everything else), Wikipedia, IMDb, Instagram, Goodreads, Spotify, YouTube, Find My iPhone (or equivalent), Wallet (or equivalent), Mitt Apotek (or equivalent)

Some favorite apps that I use all the time
  • Shazam - find out what song is playing instantly (and add it to your playlist)
  • CostSplit - figure out how much everyone owes each other when you're out or on a trip with multiple people
  • Parkster - pay for the actual time you spend parking, not just a guess at how long you'll be (Sweden-only)
  • Swish - instant money transfer; who needs cash?! (Sweden-only)
  • JustWatch - find out which streaming services that series or film you want to watch is on
  • Night Sky - point your device at the sky and see what's up there, no matter the weather
What favorite useful apps have you found?
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