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YOU CAN'T HAVE A LIGHT WITHOUT A DARK TO STICK IT IN*
Walking through an early winter evening, with the shine of the streetlights on the wet pavement, there's a strange sense of peace that envelops you just as surely as the scarf you have wrapped around your head. It wasn't cold enough to wear mittens; I let my hands dangle inside my big warm sleeves. The scarf was more for surety, a precaution against cold in the throat. It wasn't even cold enough for dragon breath, but it was dark as the inside of a dragon's cave and damp like it too. Looking up, I could see stars, not stalactites. No sign of Smaug.

Do you know the difference between stalactites and stalagmites without looking it up? I read the trick of remembering once, it's a simple mnemonic: stalaCtites have a C for ceiling, stalaGmites have a G for ground. Pretty cool, eh? Caves, even though I think they are nifty and mysterious and wonderful, give me the heebie-jeebies, thanks to a creeping claustrophobia that usually only manifests in crowds. I've been in a lot of caverns as a youngster, including the Mammoth Caves and some really amazing ones in Spain, but it's been awhile since I was underground in a natural cavern. I think my dad must have had a thing for caves, since we always made a point of touring any that happened to be nearby whenever we were road-tripping.

The only cave around here is Tykarpsgrottan, which is really a limestone quarry, but Karin was a baby when we visited it. The last one I was in, this past summer was, coincidentally, also a limestone quarry.

Karin's room is rather cave-like, what with the dark red walls and the black furniture, especially when she has the blackout blind pulled down. It's very cozy, though. Martin's room will be quite the opposite. Anders painted the walls this past weekend and the colors Martin chose are light and lovely: a pale creamy biscuity beige named Silke, and a medium-dusty pale Sage green. I had printed out the tree pattern and Anders had bought the paint for the 3 different colors to be used for them, but then he came to me and said that HE wanted to paint the trees.

"Oh," I said, a little disappointed, "okay, but I thought I was going to do it." Well yes, he said, but it was the only really fun part of renovating...he'd already done all the boring things: stripping, spackling, painting ceiling and trim. How could I argue with that? Even if Martin and I had also done some boring parts: moving out furniture, cleaning out stuff, stripping off the border...I wasn't really emotionally invested in having to paint the trees. Anders brought home a projector and made a stencil by tracing the tree pattern onto butcher block paper. He's already painted the bright one, and is halfway through one of the dark ones. These are leafless trees, no verdancy despite the woodland tones. It's going to be a real forest on the long wall, a groovy grove of bare branches.

I was going to try and tie this all together with some sort of meditation on trees growing from the ground like stalagmites but it just sounded silly and when you come right down to it, makes no sense so, so much for that flight of fancy. :P Anyway, the light and dark aspects completely aside, it's a rather fascinating exercise in the differences in taste and the reflections of personality when you compare the rooms of my kids. And yes, when we're done I'll post photos, I promise.

*Title from a quote by Arlo Guthrie
okay
mood: okay
music: Sophie B. Hawkins—As I Lay Me Down
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Comments
(Anonymous)

Great for Anders to get creative! I expect he's enjoying it. And, I look forward to seeing it - and Karin's room also. Lvoe, Lizardmom

He's really into it :)

The different tastes of our children, although affirming their distinct personalities, still sometimes tends to amaze me.
Looking forward to the photos.

Yep! I bet my mom thinks the same thing about us still. :)

(Anonymous)

I am sure she does!!!!
Seester

(Anonymous)

Yep! Not difficult to figure that out! :0 Love, Lizardmom

(Anonymous)
From Megsie

I can't wait to see the pictures! I remember Karin's red room, with the dragon, but a reminder photo would be much appreciated, just for the sake of comparison.

As for caves, when I was little, I was fascinated by them. I don't remember ever going IN one, but I always thought I would LOVE discovering a cave for a secret hideout. I did go through a cave that was a "haunted house" for Halloween when I was in college. It surely made it more scary for me, but I was young and not too scared, I wanted to go through again. I think it would be fun to go through a cave still, but I may be a little more apprehensive now that I am older. Why is that that the older you get the less courage you seem to have. It gets in the way of playing, doesn't it?

Re: From Megsie

I think the photos I posted from Karin's room before were just with the bed in, not the final arrangment and before we had anything on the walls.

A haunted house cave would be very cool :)

I think you're right that fear gets in the way more when you're older...maybe because you know more about possible consequences of being where you are. It's the same that way with flying for me. Much worse now than when I was younger.

(Anonymous)

Now you made curious about Karin's room too. Can you post a photo of that as well as Martin's?

I just love the way you write!

/Mia

http://mias.blogg.se

I promise I will. I did post photos of her room but it wasn't 100% finished then.

if you're claustrophobic then definitely don't go to the (real, not quarry) cave in björkliden in northern sweden. first a chimney-like descent and then crawling flat on your stomach through a tunnel so low that they yell at you every time you bump the helmet into the miniscule stalagtites (because when you touch them they stop growing).

also, in swedish, stalag-T-iter grow from the "tak". :)

Hm, in that case stalak-T-it from "tak", stalag-M-it from "mark".

No way would I go in björkliden after that description: EEK! :O

Very cool that the mnemonic works in Swedish, too! :D

The trees would've been fun to paint; I agree.

But isn't Anders clever with the creation of the stencil? I would not have thought of that, so I would have handed him the paintbrush as gracefully as you did.

They would have been fun, but he's really into it. Plus he has paint clothes and I don't :D

(Anonymous)
from cousin kat

Hi Liz,

just wanted to pop in and say hi! I've all but abandoned my blog, but still keep up with reading all my favorites like yours!
I'm looking forward to seeing the pics of the kid's rooms! We're in the midst of buying a house, so it's fun to see how you have it decorated, painted, etc. Plus I just love house pics!
I'm so glad you're mom will be coming soon and for a month!!!! Wow, lucky you! I wish my mom were able to do that! But my sis and her boyfriend will be here for a few days in December, so I'm very much looking forward to having some family here for Christmas...will be a nice change!
I have 3 weeks off in August, so maybe we can get together then? Mull it over!

XO,
Cousin Kat

Re: from cousin kat

Don't give up on your blog! (especially for FB!)...I feel like I want to write here MORE now, actually. FB is just too flutterby for me most of the time. I don't really feel I get to KNOW people there the way I do here.

I will keep August in mind, but I can't plan that far ahead. We want to go to Italy this year, and to the States with the whole family, so that's our goal for vacation time.

I wholly agree with you on caves. Wonderful and mysterious, yes, but they've scared the crap out of me since I was a kid and read several books about being trapped in a cave (a staple of Christian YA lit, I guess... oh, and didn't Tom Sawyer get himself stuck in one too?). In Ireland this summer, Dan & I stayed up too late watching a Discovery Channel show about a wilderness explorer worming his way through an unexplored water-filled cave in Transylvania, after which I needed intense therapy. :) I would be quite content to keep my lifetime cave experiences to a cozy room like Karin's.

Yep, Tom Sawyer too. No way I could ever be a spelunker, but I love saying that word! :D

thanks for that mnemonic. the only caves i've been in are the Oregon Caves...i was maybe 8 and family friends took me. i loved the caves, but i have acrophobia, so nearly died from the anxiety having to climb up/down the ladders. it traumatized me enough that every time i drive by that exit in Southern Oregon, i still shudder. :)

when my (younger) brother was in high school, he went to the paint store to buy black paint to paint his room...you know you live in a small town when the paint store owner refuses to sell it to you because your dad might get mad. he wouldn't give him anything darker than navy blue...so he got to spend his teen years in a navy cave. :)

Hahahahaha! that is so hilarious about your brother and the navy cave!

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