July 1st, 2020



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.