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I finally finished reading The Goldfinch today...I'm probably the last person on the planet. It was REALLY good, and hard to put down, while I was supposed to be hanging out with family I never see. I thought about it all the time I wasn't reading it; definite sign of a good book! It's our book group book for January but we're not meeting until the 21st, so I should probably write down some of my thoughts about it, since my memory is sieve-like these days.

We got home last night after another grueling day of driving. We left rather late after having breakfast in the Ferienwohnung at 8, packing the car and stopping at John's to say goodbye, so we didn't get home until well after 11 p.m. And my family is all thoroughly trained that a trip isn't over until the bags are emptied and everything is put away and amazingly, that was done and I fell into bed at 12:30. Today has been laundry load after load, grocery shopping, cleaning, reading, and catching up. I'm about ready to go start dinner.

It was such a nice way to spend the mellandagarna (the days between Christmas & New Year's)...a road trip down to southern Germany for a week with John and Simone and the boys. Jakob is talking up a storm and apparently remembered us as he was very welcoming and not at all shy. Samuel is so big and totally into Star Wars (despite never having seen the movies) and superheroes (despite never having read a comic book) and they both jabber away at us in German while we smile and look confused and ask them to say it in English.

The weather was crazy warm...actually 16 degrees the day after we arrived! We went for a 5-hour (!) walk around Hohenschwangau and the lake next to it. I've been to Füssen many times now and STILL haven't been inside that castle, though I've done Neuschwanstein twice. The line for the tour was insane, so we skipped it and walked instead. Gorgeous day! The whole week was beautiful, right up until New Year's Eve when the clouds came in and the temperature dropped, but still no snow. We went to the BMW museum in Munich, most of the family went swimming one day, we went to a crazy little junk collection house called the Kutschenmuseum, we visited the market in Kempten and went shopping. We played games at home and hung out and walked and talked. The last night we took everyone out to dinner at Hotel Christine, in the little village just past the fields (between John's place and our rental), which was fantastic. Definitely not the best Weightwatcher week, but it was great food all the time. New Year's Eve we all struggled to stay awake, and lit firework fountains behind the house (Jakob: Heiß! Heiß!) and watched the fireworks all around us at the foot of the Alps. It was beautiful and very, very cold.

On the way home, John called us just before we got to the ferry to Denmark after 8 hours of driving, and told us we had to turn around and come back: Simone had broken her leg and he was at the hospital. !!!! She was running up a skateboard ramp, at a little park about a mile from their house, with the kids, and slipped and fell. A very bad break: ankle and both bones in her lower leg. She had 3 surgeries last night (3.5 hours) and will be in the hospital for at least 7 days. Good thing their neighbor was out jogging near the park right after it happened and was able to call the ambulance right away! Can you believe it?? At least we had actually left before one of them went into the hospital this time!! I offered to turn around and fly back down for the week, but John told me not to bother. Simone's mom is coming to help and he'll take more time off work. She won't be mobile for 6 weeks!! Don't know how they'll manage with the two little boys. URGH.

For more pictures of what we did: Martin's photo album on Facebook

And still ahead, another week off: WHEEE!!!
mood: calm
music: Smallpools—Dreaming


I only liked the first half of The Goldfinch - once the action shifted to Vegas, my interest waned.

Your week sounds busy and very enjoyable. Those sorts of holidays are refreshing, despite the long trip. Bummer about the high temperatures and the lack of snow and ironic that you had to come home to find snow. Is it snowing in Skåne? I hope so. The boys have really grown so much and Anders and the kids look really relaxed and at home. Karin has also grown into a beautiful young woman quickly. I was going to say how much like Karin Simone looked in that picture with John, until I realised that it WAS Karin! Doh. Don't mind me .. old age, wonky eyes etc..

Oh no about Simone! That sounds particularly nasty and painful. Like you, I wonder how she'll cope with two energetic boys as the six weeks they mention is just the beginning. Once mobile, there's still a long road ahead with physio and rehabilitation. It's good that she has the support of her mum and John, but what an awful way to start the year. :(

It isn't snowing down here but it is VERY cold!! I can't decide if I wish it would snow or not. Simone's mom can't stay very long, unfortunately...she lives an hour away and works, too.

Re The Goldfish, I was a little worried when he ended up in Vegas, and relieved that he went back to NY, though I thought it was sad when he got there. There was a little too much existential bellyaching for my taste at the end but I really enjoyed it otherwise.

Unbelievable about your sister-in-law. I genuinely assumed that was a prank your brother was playing on you. Poor thing! Everything else sounds lovely. Ich wünsche Ihnen ein glückliches neues Jahr!

When he called us in the car, I thought he was joking, too. I wish! Poor Simone! Happy New Year!

I haven't read the book so no comment there, but thanks for the new vocabulary. We need a word in English for mellandagarna. Great photos, but poor Simone! It's good that you were able to read today while you did the laundry... driving is so exhausting!

We DO need a word in English for mellandagarna! It's very handy!

From Megsie

Happy New Year! I am so sorry to hear about Simone. That is just terrible. I am sending healing thoughts to her and strength to your brother!

Your trip (other than that news) sounds fantastic! And SO WARM. It is really cold here, at least it feels cold...I have no idea what the temperature really is--all I know is that my toes are cold!

All is well here, tonight/tomorrow Christmas will be put back into the boxes, and I will begin course-schedules and syllabi and general freaking out about a brand new semester. I am SO NOT READY to go back. I am still worn out! Oh well. Ready or not her it comes!

Re: From Megsie

It's FREEZING here in Sweden, though it was similarly cold down in Germany by the time we left. I am working on putting the tree decorations away... it usually takes me several days. The house stuff will wait until the end of the week, at least :) Happy New Year!

It sounds like a fantastic vacation -- good food and family, plenty of sights to see and weather that let you see them.

I'm envious that you have another week off -- it's back to work today for me, cough and all. (Hopefully, I'm past the contagious stage. ;-))

Feeling so bad for Simone. :-( I hope the boys don't drive her to distraction while she's healing -- they're both getting so big!

I honestly don't see how she's going to be able to managed on crutches for 6 weeks. URGH.

What an absolutely lovely break - love Bavaria and would love to go back for another look at Hohenschwangau. I had a friend with breaks similar to what you're describing for Simone. She is going to need all the help she can get post-surgery. Enjoy your time off!

I wish there was some option to have a nanny in to help during her recuperation!

Your visits with your brother are fraught with medical disasters! Simone strikes me as a very strong person so I'm sure she'll be able to handle the crutches and rehab but it's a terrible blow in any case. And not that there's ever a good time for it to happen but winter seems especially difficult to be maneuvering around on anything but the steadiest of two feet.

I agree and if even if they don't have snow yet, they are sure to get it at some point, and when they do, they always get totally socked. Such a drag!!!

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