oooh pretty!


I read recently that birdwatching from your home provides a major boost to mental health. The article says, "Researchers from the University of Exeter recently found that bird watching can have a positive effect on mental health. They discovered that people who are able to watch birds from their homes have a lower risk of depression, stress, and anxiety compared to people who live in less nature dense areas with fewer birds."

We have two bird feeders set up at the corner of the deck, one that holds 2 suet balls and one that is 2-sided for sunflower seeds and a seed mix. The seed mix disappears down to the perch every day. The sunflower seeds go down much more slowly, despite the fact that there are sunflower seeds in the seed mix, too. The suet balls also disappear really fast. Sometimes, that is because the big birds come and attack the feeder until they knock it to the ground and can drag the suet balls away. I get up often and scare the "the big blacks" away, which sounds really racist... it's the crows, jackdaws, rooks and ravens. All huge and very aggressive. I don't scare the magpies away, even though they're just as big and aggressive as the crows and jackdaws, because I love magpies. They're so colorful and cheeky.

Lately, we've had a pair of wood pigeons (much bigger than regular city-style pigeons) and a bunch of mourning doves. The doves are about as big as the magpies, but they're very timid. The wood pigeons are twice their size, and they're bullies. They charge the doves repeatedly and drive them away from the area below the feeders, hopping and popping up in the air until the doves back off. We get a lot of pheasants throughout the winter, but now that people are out and about, they don't come around much. Other than the very occasional visit from a middle-spotted woodpecker or a pair of blackbirds, we mostly get the small songbirds: sparrows, tits, chickadees, finches. I have yet to see a pied wagtail (Spring's herald) this year, but they don't frequent our feeders, anyway.

I refill the feeders every couple of days and jet-wash the birdbath at the same time, before refilling it with clean water. It's gratifying to see the birds using it, and fun to see them splashing in the water during the summer months, though we stop filling the feeders by the end of April. I have friends who feed the birds year round, but they make such a huge mess with seed detritus that we only supplement them until late spring.

It's a long weekend, for the Easter holidays. We had Friday off and this coming Monday as well. Yesterday, we had Good Friday dinner, an Ek family tradition, with Anders' sister and family, and Karin, and it was a really lovely, relaxed dinner, with delicious food. Maria made a whole side of salmon baked in the oven and covered with a coating of panko, chopped dill and butter. And Anders made homemade meatballs from a blend of beef, pork and moose. YUM YUM. He was also in charge of the hard-boiled eggs and spent the morning coloring them au natural; three different batches with onionskins, blueberries and turmeric. The turmeric turns them a bright yellow, the blueberries were a purple-dusky blue, and the onionskins were a mottled brown and yellow.

It's the first year since we had kids that I haven't colored eggs myself. The only Easter decoration we have out is a bundle of birch branches with brightly-colored feathers tied to them, stuck in one of the pots out front. My friend Debbie gave them to me a week ago, or I wouldn't even have that! The feathers on birch branches is a exclusively Swedish tradition.

Today's project, since it is finally sunny again, was dealing with the garden. I cleaned up the front garden beds, filled all the pots with pansies and bought a new honeysuckle for the other side of the trellis and 2 butterfly bushes to plant in the back corner of the yard. I miscounted the first time though and missed a pot, so I didn't have enough pansies. But for my afternoon walk, I went back to the plantshop and bought three more...CURLY ONES! They're so cool. I googled them and they are called Viola Frizzle Sizzle Blue. How is that for a super cool name?! They look like this:

Anders is readying the seed starter pots and planting tomatoes, snap peas and soybeans. We have potatoes and carrots ready to go into the ground as soon the temperatures stay steady enough. He's also going to trim the old honeysuckle and the roses, and plant the new one I bought today as well as prepare a bed for the butterfly bushes (I hope!). I am looking forward to warmer weather and putting out the deck furniture so we can sit out back and enjoy the sunshine, when we have it.

Happy Easter!


The people behind us are slowly but surely cutting down ALL the trees and bushes and shrubbery that block the view of their backyard and farm from our backyard. It's making me sad. They decimated all the trees that were there before and now he's out there again with a chainsaw buzzing away. If he cuts down all the lilacs that are growing by the ditch, I'm going to be very very sad. All the natural greenery that hemmed in our yard: gone. I don't want to look at the back of their carport and stable and parking area. Our yard was pretty private before, but now it feels open to everyone and I don't like it. Our little hedge will take 30 more years to get high enough to block everything. I wonder if I can talk Anders into planting some trees and bushes along our hedge...

Karin accompanied me today to the mall so I could look for new bathroom towels and rugs. We've had the same towels least 15 years, maybe since we moved into this house. They're a pale sage and I've loved them and they've stood the test of time. It's only now that they are starting to fray along the edges. A few of the towels have a couple of discolored splotches but they're hardly noticeable. I don't like going to the mall right now, but we were pleasantly surprised to find it nearly empty. So we took advantage of that and went in many more stores than we had originally planned.

I've had my eye out for some replacement bowls for a set that I got from my grandma years ago that are hand-painted with little dutch girls on the inside. I like them and they're a very useful size, but they were getting chipped and dinged. I found lovely ones at Søstrene Grene, 6 different colors in pale dusky shades, with a matte outside and a glossy finish on the inside. They're slightly shorter than the ones I was replacing, but also slightly wider, so they'll work, I think. Karin was sad about the dutch girl bowls, so I looked them over when I got home and decided 4 of them were okay enough to give her and she can decide if she wants them. Or give 2 to her brother and keep 2 for herself.

We also stopped at a clothing store that has stuff in my size and I found a pair of workout pants and two lightweight summery shirts. Then we went to Hemtex and looked at towels. I wanted something in an in-between color: not too dark and not too light. And not too brown/beige, since the tiles in the bathroom are in shades of brown and it would be too much. They had bathroom rugs in white, in the sizes I wanted, so I got those. We found towels in what looked like a medium-pale green that I thought would work and after waffling a bit, I decided to get them. Only to find when I got home that they look super dark, almost teal blue! What a difference lighting's really kind of aggravating that they looked so different in the store. I still like them and will keep them, but have hung them up just to get used to the color first.

We set the clocks forward last night and lost an hour. I'm feeling it now; thinking about taking a nap. But I need to do my treadmill 20 first. It's been very cold, raw-feeling and rainy all weekend. We had originally planned to go get bags of dirt and fertilizer and seedling cups from the plant nursery and I was going to buy pansies to put in all the pots, but the weather was just too uncongenial. Anders did stop there today while I was shopping with Karin, but said it was just too busy with people and he didn't feel comfortable going inside. We'll have to make a run after work one day and hope it won't be too busy.

I have two short work weeks now...we have Friday off this coming week (Good Friday) and the following Monday (day after Easter). Short weeks are honestly just stressful right now, and a long weekend feels rather meaningless when you can't really go anywhere. I'm determined to get the pansies by next weekend though, as my yard needs some spring cheer and so do I.

It's been a nice weekend, really. We had myskväll on Friday, Anders and I, watching Bäst i Test, and a new show called Veckans Ord (Word of the Week) with a TV host I like. Then we watched The Dig, with Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan, which we both liked. I had a nice phone call with my mom yesterday and we had good news from last week, too: Martin got his second vaccination shot on Friday, and my mom got hers (single-shot) last Tuesday. A major worry off my mind!

So, that puts me in a good frame of mind for the end of the weekend and the start of a short work week. I have things going on this week, too, so stuff to look forward to: AWC zoom meeting, a much-needed massage, my sister's birthday (the last of the March flurry of family birthdays) and possibly a socially-distanced Easter dinner with Anders' sister and family on Friday, if all goes well and everyone is healthy.

Happy Sunday!


I was just realizing that I have only been sick once in over a year. I searched through my posts and the only thing I've had since 2019 was a head cold in June last year. Staying away from people sure cuts down on your sick days. All that hand-washing and social distancing really DOES work on cutting down disease...and not just corona. Although I confess, sometimes it would be nice to have an excuse to stay in bed and call in sick. Ha! I wonder if these habits will stick with us.

I dunno...yesterday, Karin and I ran to the plant nursery to buy seed potatoes and carrot seeds. The place was humming and they had signs everywhere reminding people to keep a safe distance and that only X amount of people were allowed in the shop and the seed barn and the café and the greenhouse. It seemed to me that people were just in their own little worlds, on their own little missions and not really paying attention to any of that. People walked quite close to us, obliviously, and even though there was space between people in line at the cashier, there were a few that didn't seem to care, and brushed by others as if they weren't there.

Even I screwed up and I'm normally very conscious of social distancing. I went to find someone who worked there because I had a question about the carrot seeds. We were looking for a roll of them, implanted on a paper strip, and I didn't see them in the seed barn. I found someone in the covered walkway, putting out pots of spring flowers. "Excuse me," I said, "can I ask you a question?" She looked up at me and said yes, and then stepped backwards. I immediately took a step forward, not even thinking, while asking my question, and when she backed up again, I started to move forward again, until she held up her hand and I realized what I was doing and apologized and backed up myself. Karin was simultaneously amused and horrified at me. "What were you DOING?" she hissed. "I WASN'T THINKING! I just wanted to ask my question and she was moving away from me."

How many times do we do things without thinking? ALL THE TIME. It's human nature, isn't it? But all year (and really, for most of my adult life), I've found myself saying repeatedly, "what were they THINKING?!"...genuinely horrified at my fellow human beings for their behavior. Granted, I think my not-thinking about instinctively moving toward someone I was trying to talk to is a very different thing from people who behave in all sorts of awful, hateful, violent ways, but I suspect more of it than we'd like to admit comes down to not-thinking. Or rather, reacting. Whether out of fear, or anger, or self-righteousness, things would sure be different in the world if people would stop and really THINK about what they are doing. And why.

Even though I haven't been sick, I am tired. I'm sad and stressed and my eyes are itching like crazy (thanks, early allergies!). Walking in the sun helps. Massages help. Getting a good night sleep helps. I think a year-plus of all this extra worry and stress and sadness is really starting to take a toll, not just on me but one everyone I know. So, here's to taking a little extra thought: for yourself, for ourselves, for everyone we know.

Really good (and relevant) writing out there right now: An Unlikely Conversation Starter


Vaccine envy
I am thrilled that my mom is getting hers this week (1 shot) and Martin gets his second dose next week. I'm happy for all my friends and relatives who have gotten theirs or have their scheduled. But I'm aggravated that there's no knowing when we'll be getting ours here. Everything is delayed, maybe by as much as 4 months. SUCK.

Hate crimes
What is WRONG with people? Why are so many people so scared of others who are different and feel the need to be hateful to them? Just be KIND to other people. How hard is that, honestly? And if you can't be kind, then shut up and leave other people the hell alone.

Work stress
Starting to get ridiculous. We've been operating at such a high level of overwork and stress for so long (literally, years) that everyone, including management, and even we, ourselves, think it's normal. It's NOT NORMAL. Thank goodness my manager is taking us seriously and addressing the issue now, since we have raised a flag that we are all starting to crack. I love my job but MAN I would like to catch my breath once in a while.

Taxes and FBARs
It's that time of year again when I get to resent my birth country's government all over again for the draconian requirements on expats. I've downloaded all the tax forms but am dreading actually trying to figure them out again since they've changed AGAIN this year. The FBARs, in contrast, were a piece of cake. 30 minutes yesterday of checking account balances and writing notes and 10 minutes today of filling out the online form and submitting it. It irks that I have to file this report at all, much less with the "Financial Crimes Enforcement Network" as if my choice to live and work abroad supposes me to be a criminal hiding money offshore. And best of all, even when I'm done with mine, I still have to help Karin figure out hers. And do Martin's FBAR with him as well. Thankfully, he's dealing with his own tax filing this year again.

Walks in the sunshine
I can't get enough sunshine right now. The sun on my shoulders, through the dining room window, while I'm working away, is like a benediction, and worth the glare on the screen. The 15-minute lunchtime walks with the sun on my head and the cool fresh air are a TONIC. Exactly what I need, every day. More, please.

Extended restrictions
I knew it was probably coming, but I confess to a sinking heart when we got the email today confirming that we are to continue working fulltime from home until the end of May. GAH. One of my friends asked if I wanted to go to the movies next week and I got the heebie-jeebies. Right now, it feels like this will never end.

Replacements for dishes
We got a set of 12 place settings for our everyday dishes when we got married. I love them. They're eggplant purple Sasaki stoneware. I can't remember, but I think my brother actually got me the first place settings even before that, and we just filled up to 12 on our registry. They're extremely hardy, so despite having a few with nicks, we've only lost a few pieces over the last 25 years. We're missing 1 dinner plate, 2 salad plates and 1 bowl. Unlike the replacement teaspoons for our cutlery, the dishes don't cost that much and even though they're discontinued, I found some on Amazon and the rest on for very reasonable prices. Since we're considering shipping stuff from the US when Martin moves home, I'm thinking I will just go ahead and order them and send them to my sister to include in the crate.

Overdue appointments
Due to the pandemic, I've been putting off some things and now with the restrictions getting extended again, I'm getting a bit antsy. One thing I've been putting off is already over a year overdue. URGH. Don't lecture me if you comment. I KNOW.

The fruit doesn't fall very far from the tree
Martin made my day yesterday with a text message that said "This is very random but can we go antiquing after I come home? Idk why I was always so against it as a kid but I'd literally love it now." ...HAHAHAH! You'd have thought I was dragging my children over hot coals every time I tried to get them to go into an antique shop or secondhand store back when they were younger. Now they BOTH love it. :D

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I've been thinking a lot about time passing lately. My father died when he was 56 and because I have a lot of the same issues he did, healthwise, though with one major difference, this year...the year I am 56, has been a little fraught for me, mentally. Like many adults, I often boggle about how fast time goes. I read once that it has to do with the fact that as an adult, you've already done many things at least once, and therefore, they seem to go faster the second (or third or eleventyth) time around, because you know how it goes. You know what to expect, what to anticipate and there's no open-ended sense of wonder about them.

Maybe that's true, maybe not. Maybe it's because we (and by we, I mean me. I can't speak for you.) tend to live our lives a little bit in the future due to our tendency to look ahead. I'm preparing for Christmas, for example, well before it actually occurs. In fact, I ordered my first Christmas present for someone a couple of weeks ago (a personal record, I think). So, if I already have next Christmas on the brain less than 2 months after the last Christmas, does that help it to zoom towards me? Some people think like this: there are STILL 9 and a half months before Christmas. Whereas, I think like this: there are ONLY 9 and a half months left until Christmas.

I suppose for some people, anticipation makes things drag out. If they are one of the STILL-thinking people, time drags while you wait to get to the anticipated event. If you, like me, are one of the ONLY-thinking people, it seems like time speeds up instead and that anticipated event is already looming. And I suppose also, that for many of us, we forget about the FACT of time passing and just go about our business, until suddenly we look up and our children are in their twenties and we've been at our jobs for a ridiculously long amount of time, or we've lived in this place for a ridiculously long amount of time, or whatever. When we stop and think about time passing, that's when it boggles us and feels like it's zipped right by. Because we weren't necessarily paying attention. Time has a way of doing that: sneaking past us in order to turn around and shout SURPRISE! just to see the look on our face.

Anders and I were talking about retirement (theoretically) a week or so ago and I was shocked to realize how fast it's coming. Even if I'm only 56 now, turning 57 this year, that's not many more years before I reach the typical retirement age of 65. Not even 10 years away. And even if I retire a little later than that, say 67, that's not much longer. 10 years ago, my daughter was 11...that feels like a lifetime and yet it's gone so fast. 10 years before that, she was a baby. EEEK. Slow down, time, seriously, what's the rush?!

I suspect procrastinators are STILL-thinking people. That's one reason why they can procrastinate...they feel they have plenty of time* what's the hurry? While I'm just the opposite, most of the time. There's never plenty of time, or if there is, I fill it up with preparation or other activities, until suddenly it's TIME. Maybe those who are extra anal-retentive single-minded about time management are, most likely, ONLY-thinking people.

My original plan, while I was mulling over and composing this post in my head, was to jot down some of the "it's been this many years since" types of milestones over the years, but now I don't feel like it and I think this post went in a different direction anyway. And just so we are clear, as of today, there are ONLY 284 days left until Christmas.

*I know this is a simplification. There are lots of reasons for procrastinating.

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I haven't been getting many comments lately. I understand from at least two people who read my blog, but who don't have Livejournal accounts, that they are no longer able to comment and get an error message claiming they are "banned from commenting". I have checked all my settings and I have NOT banned anyone, and my Livejournal is set to allow commenting from anonymous, non-LJ sources, so I'm at a loss as to what to do.

If you can comment (and are not an LJ user), please do so. If you CAN'T, can you please send me a PM on Facebook or an email (lizardek at yahoo dot com). I'll investigate further if so, though I'm not sure even how to proceed.



Mostly, I am tired or stressed (work) or bored or lethargic. I am tired of life during a pandemic as so many people are, but I have no right to complain, really. It mostly means that I am struggling with not having anything to write about. We finished watching Six Feet Under last night, and I had read somewhere that the show's finale was considered one of the best season finales ever. I couldn't figure out how that could be possible, in the episodes leading up to it, but they were right: it was great. Closure all around, in every possible way.

I get really aggravated watching shows and movies where characters act and react in ways that I find extremely unrealistic. I know, intellectually, that they are doing so because to act in rational, real-life ways would be boring and leave the show with no drama to build a story around, but it makes me just want to smack them most of the time. It's harder to suspend your disbelief for stuff like that than it is to suspend it for fantasy and science fiction.

Currently, I'm in the middle of an biography about Emily Dickinson, which is excellent (Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds by Lyndall Gordon), but reads a bit as if it was originally a thesis paper. I have few people here to discuss it with, since most Swedes don't know Emily Dickinson from a hole in the wall).

I just looked out the window and it's SNOWING again. ¤#/=¤!&@!! GAH. That's something that definitely makes me tired: the early "spring" weather here in Sweden. It teases. It lifts you UP with excitement over a few days of sun and warm temperatures and then flings you down again with sleet and snow and frost and grey rain clouds. Over and over until June, basically (if you're lucky). I'm already experiencing itchy eyes and extra sneeziness, thanks to early allergies onset. Ugh.

And here, when I am finally getting around to posting something, all I am doing is complaining. Lame.


It's kinda nice, since we can't go out to restaurants (or don't anyway, which amounts to the same thing), to feel like I'm getting several gourmet meals a week, since we're getting 3 HelloFresh dinners every Saturday and I live with a gourmet chef. Or at least a husband who likes to try new things and loves to cook. Win-win for everything but my waistline. Tonight, he made mushroom risotto with fresh al dente green was super yummy! Creamy and crunchy in just the right combination. So far, there have only been two recipes that we thought were sort of meh...everything else has been delicious. And since I really don't cook hardly at all anymore, it's been a lovely way to enjoy my husband's talents and give us a dinnertime together.

I decided to start purging songs from my Spotify list the other day just to get it down to a more manageable level, make sure the songs on it were really all ones I love, and to be able to add more later without them getting totally lost in the mix. I had a tendency a few years ago to just add entire albums of artists I liked, without listening to them carefully first, and now I'm weeding out the ones that aren't truly keepers. Generally speaking, I love my Spotify list. I listen to it all the time, at work, in the car, when I'm cleaning, or home alone. I listen to the one that Martin made for me for Christmas an awful lot, too, but that one only has 32 songs on it *heart* and several of them have already been added to my main list because I love them so much.

When I started the purge, I had 2108 songs on my main list. I put them in order by year and started going through them from the first songs I ever added, to present. I'm in the middle of 2018 at the moment and I've already removed 408 songs. I'm back at it this evening for a little while, so I fully expect by the time I'm done to be well under 1500 songs. Still a ridiculously large number but hey, I've been around a long time and listened to and loved a LOT of music.

I used to make mix tapes all the time, back in the day, and I was a total nerd about making pretty covers for them AND keeping meticulous track with index cards and notebook lists of all the songs and artists on each of them. I still have a cassette tape holder on the wall that holds 100 cassettes. Most of them were made by me, but some were made FOR me as well. I don't actually listen to them anymore, but at one point I had copied the majority of them onto DVDs and now much of that same music, plus lots and lots of newer stuff, is on my playlist.

I still have those boxes of index cards and notebooks full of music lists, in the closet, gathering dust. I just pulled them out and had a laugh. There are three boxes of index cards in alphabetical order. Each card has an artist listed at the top, and then a handwritten list of songs with a number that corresponds to the cassette tape they're on. The first page in the notebook is title "Cassette Inventory, Liz Slaughter, from 1984 to Present". :D All typed out neat and cleanly. There are 94 cassette tapes in the list, with the last 20 or so handwritten in at the end.

My cassettes were all named, and I was quite the inventor when it came to them. Here's a very small sample:
  • Music to give stomachfarts by
  • Whaddaya want...wicker?!?
  • Quiet noises in loud places
  • Piano Fart
  • Wired for Sound
  • Purr-fect Mew-sic
  • Music that melts in your mouth
  • EASy listening
That last one, because of my initials, of course: EAS.

And then a page for each cassette, also typed (on my IBM Selectric II typewriter that I LOVED), which lists the artist and song title in order, and at the bottom of every page this information: who made the tape, and WHERE, and the month and year it was made, and the inspiration for the name of the mix. I'm such a giant nerd, it's hard to comprehend. At the bottom of the page of the cassette titled "TAANSTAAFL" the last line reads: "Title from THERE AIN'T NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH (Thanks, Heinlein!)". HAHAHAHA

At the back are also lists of all the tapes I made for other people. Just to be sure I didn't repeat myself if I happened to make them more than one. I made them for my sister, my brother, my girlfriends, boyfriends, college roommates, miscellaneous relatives and friends and colleagues. There's at least one for someone whose name I no longer recognize. I wonder if any of those tapes still exist. I suspect most people have long since pitched their cassettes and mix tapes. Except that when you think of the amount of love, effort and time that went into them, maybe not.

Maybe it's time to let them go? Maybe not the cassettes themselves, but the obvious evidence of my musical OCD tendencies. Haaa. Although, I kind of think this stuff is hilarious and too perfect to leave to my children to deal with and laugh over some day.
bad books


Did you know about the tradition of saying "rabbit rabbit rabbit" on March 1st to ensure good luck throughout the rest of the year? Did we collectively forget to do it last March? Rabbit rabbit rabbit has its own Wikipedia page, even. And some people say it on the first of every month...just for extra luck! We say "rabbits rabbits rabbits" to make the smoke of bonfire go in a different direction, away from our eyes, too. To be honest, I can't remember when that started or when I first heard about the March 1st thing.

Anyway, I actually have something to write about today! We got the results of our vote for the next batch of books our book group is going to read. I nominated 5 books and I ended up not even voting for one of them because there were so many interesting books on the list. We had a record number of people interested in participating and newbies joining the book group. 9 people recommended books and NINETEEN voted! WOW. It was murder trying to whittle the list down to the required number of votes.

There were many political titles, auto/biographies and books by Black authors on the list this year, a definite sign of the times. Only 2 of the books recommended were by an author we have already read and I haven't read ANY of the ones that won, for a wonder! In fact, on the list of 46 books that were recommended, there was only ONE that I HAD read. A record! Our organizer was really pleased because we voted for 9 books and everyone who recommended books had one of theirs chosen! Wins all around!

Here is the list, in case you are interested or looking for something to read:

Key: blue=recommended/voted for by me, purple=recommended by me but not voted for by me, green=voted for by me, yellow=already read. The ones with a star in front won.

    1. Know My Name by Chanel Miller
    2. *Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
    3. *Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
    4. Fight Like a Girl by Clementine Ford
    5. Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice by Raymond Arsenault
    6. Challenge Accepted! by Celeste Barber
    7. The Other Hand by Chris Cleaver
    8. *The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
    9. Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman
    10. *Mr Mac and Me by Esther Freud
    11. Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life by Annie Spence
    12. Salamander by Thomas Wharton
    13. What Kind of Woman: Poems by Kate Baer
    14. The Obstacle in the Way by Ryan Holiday
    15. Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville
    16. The Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and The Articles of Confederation
    17. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey
    18. *The Truths We Hold: An American Journey by Kamala Harris
    19. *They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
    20. Want by Lynn Steger Strong
    21. The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation by Anna Malaika Tubbs
    22. Halfway Home: Race, Punishment and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration by Reuben Jonathan Miller
    23. Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan
    24. Deacon King Kong by James McBride
    25. *The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
    26. Super Sad True Love Story: A Novel by Gary Shteyngart
    27. Anxious People: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
    28. The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu
    29. The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
    30. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins
    31. The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
    32. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
    33. *Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters
    34. The Mandibles: A Family by Lionel Shriver
    35. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
    36. Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue
    37. The Terranauts: A Novel by T.C. Boyle
    38. She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan
    39. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
    40. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    41. Circe by Madeline Miller
    42. Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Jane Sherron de Hart
    43. Becoming by Michelle Obama
    44. *The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
    45. The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
    46. The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper

    So, a lot of books to add to my reading list! I gave Anders the Trevor Noah autobiography for Christmas so I don't have to buy that one, at least!


All week long, I'm thinking: "write a post, write a post, write a post" and then it's the weekend again and the posts were only written in my head. I don't want to sit down in front of the computer in the evenings to write a post when I'm sitting in front of the computer all day long for work. It's a conundrum.

My brother called this morning and we talked for longer than usual, due to the fact that his family left to go for a walk without him at the beginning of the phone call. He's longing for a vacation or a getaway at least, to somewhere other than their neighborhood. It's crazy to think that the pandemic has been going on for a year now. He keeps seeing ads for "Swedish vacation homes" in his social media feed. Last week on the news, there were a couple of interviews with people from mainland Europe that moved to Sweden during the course of last year because they wanted to escape the pandemic restrictions of their home country and come live in a place where you aren't required to wear a mask, where restaurants are still open, where you can go out if you wish. COVID-refugees, they called them.

And it's IS a bit easier here, in that regard. Even though more people are wearing masks now, it's still far from the norm. But people are generally cautious here, I feel. We wash our hands all the time. Standing close to anyone is just not done. I go to the grocery store at off-peak hours when possible, to avoid crowding. We don't go shopping for anything else than groceries, for the most part. We stay home and we don't have people over, generally speaking. We HAVE had a few friends over during the course of the year, but we've been so careful every time. I HAVE been to the hairdresser and to my massage therapist. I've been to my office, though not much lately since we were sent home full time last October. So much of it is about carefulness and common sense. Of course, we're all tired of it, why wouldn't we be? But we endure because this isn't over yet. Sweden is slowly vaccinating the populace, but the schedule is delayed due to issues with getting vaccine deliveries. Last I heard, the general population will begin receiving vaccinations in April sometime. Sign me up!

Karin's roommate tested positive on Thursday so all three of them are in quarantine. Karin and Nelly took tests yesterday and are awaiting the results, though neither of them is sick. We saw Karin last Sunday, and she would have been exposed at that point, but neither of us are sick, either, so far, knock on wood. We delivered groceries to them on Thursday evening and she stopped by today, masked-up, to pick up some stuff, but will stay home from work all next week as well, awaiting the test results of the first test, and then taking another on Tuesday, most likely. Gah. I guess it's a good thing that we did the February 5K last Sunday as otherwise, I would have had to do it alone, which is not nearly as much fun.

Martin and I are reading the fourth Dune book together, God Emperor of Dune. Or rather, he is listening to it, and I am reading the physical book. He had already done the first three, but waited for me to catch up before we started on this one together. I'm almost done...on page 354 of 423, and expect to finish it this afternoon. We've already had some interesting text conversations about it...religion, gender identity, government, politics, destiny. They are definitely not perfect books, but they sure provoke a lot of thought. After this, I have to get the book group book started as we have our Zoom bookworms meeting on Thursday. I suspect it will be slow going, but at least I will have made a start, and because it's non-fiction, I already know the story and the outcome.

It's sunny today and quite cold. I've already done my treadmill 20 but am going to head out for a walk in the sunshine when I'm done posting this.

What else? I'm sure there's more, since it's been over a week since I last posted, but I can't think of anything.