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zird is the word [userpic]
GOOD THINGS, DESPITE EVERYTHING
So much of everything lately makes me roll my eyes or grit my teeth. I seem to be seething, constantly. Like so many others, I am horrified and frightened and angry as all hell by the news, by the news, by the unending, ungodly, unbelievable news, that you keep thinking can't get worse, but then it DOES, but I feel mute. As if what I say doesn't matter because it doesn't change anything, even when I know that's not true. There are so many things stuffing up my brain that nothing can get out, despite all the pushing.

I don't feel like I know the right things to say: to my daughter who's struggling with the reality of a long-distance relationship. To my son, who's probably not going to be able to finish out this year of college since the money is running out. To my sister, who I don't talk to enough and don't know what to say to, when I do. And in the midst of all the anxiety and pressure and stress, there are good things. Of course there are good things.

Two weekends ago, Anders and Karin and I left late Saturday afternoon, after Karin got off work at the cafe and drove 3 hours north to Kalmar. Kalmar is a city on the east coast of Sweden, with a bridge that leads from it to the island of Öland. We've been to Öland, and in fact, we've been to Kalmar but it was years ago, when Martin was a baby, and we were just passing through. This time, our purpose was to see the da Vinci exhibit at Kalmar Castle before it closed.

Karin, who is really good at this sort of thing, found and booked an AirBnB for us, and it turned out to be a delightful, cosy and spotlessly clean tiny apartment that looked like something out of a magazine, right near the main walking street and downtown area. We got there around dinner time, unloaded and then set off to find a place to eat dinner. We ended up at an Asian buffet place which was nothing to write home about, but did the job, then went back to the apartment and watched "Svenska Nyheter" until we were too tired to stay up any later.

On Sunday, we had a fantastic breakfast at a downtown hotel, and then headed to the castle. It was a perfectly gorgeous, mild autumn day. The trees are turning and people were out walking their dogs. We walked along the edge of the Baltic Sea and over to the castle entrance. Kalmar Castle is lovely and in a great shape, with large halls perfect for an exhibition with lots of large items. The da Vinci exhibition was all about the artist's inventions, and there were tons of them. Lots of prototypes to walk around, touch and read about, huge posters of his drawings and notes, and several really well-done, interesting films and then, of course, the rest of the castle, with all its history. We really enjoyed it.

Afterwards, we went back into the center of town and had lunch at Pinchos (tapas with a circus theme, haha!) and then we drove home again. A perfect little weekend outing. It was much better than this past weekend, when I was down with a bad cold, and then cracked the back of my back molar off. AUGH.

Today, however, I was at the dentist, and they fixed it in half an hour. And I managed to get through the whole thing without gagging once. Yay, me!

I'm trying to keep my mind on positive things: what I'm looking forward to in the near future includes dinner with my best friends this upcoming weekend, going to two different musical sing-a-longs in the next couple of weeks, and figuring out how to be positive for the other people in my life who need it as much as I do.

If you have positive things going on, please share! It helps to hear about good things, no matter how small or trivial they may seem.

Other good things: Karin registered to vote today. My brother has a job again. The weather has turned warm enough that my tomatoes might finish ripening. There are more green peppers coming, too. And both my rosebushes are blooming again.
 contemplative
mood: contemplative
music: TV in the other room


zird is the word [userpic]
IS THIS THING ON?
I used to live a lot more of my life online, in the blog world mostly, than I do now. Not surprising, since so very many people have stopped blogging for one reason or another. I find that weeks fly by and I don't even think about it once, and when I do check my list of people to read I find it takes just a few minutes to scan through the time that has passed...maybe someone has posted something that takes longer than a minute to read, but it's rare. And getting rarer, sadly.*

It's not exactly that I'm not ONLINE anymore, because I'm online all the time. At least it feels that way. I spend plenty of time answering emails, and texts and messages and scrolling through Instagram (which definitely takes longer than just a few minutes). I stop by Facebook, though I don't post there all that much either. I read the news...or at least skim the headlines, since actually reading the news often makes me so sad and upset and aggravated that it's more an exercise in despair and restraint than is healthy.

I watch shows online, and movies...flipping around between Netflix and AppleTV and HBO Nordic and SVTPlay and SF Anytime, and YouTube...but it's not actually the bulk of my time. My online time seems to be mostly frittering. It's the Twitter syndrome of small soundbites instead of substantial content. It leaves me feeling sort of flat. It doesn't fill me up.

I suppose, that if I want to make a satisfying meal of the content I consume online, then I have to help contribute to the feast. Being online is like a potluck, in that sense. If everyone brings finger food and appetizers, you get full, maybe, but you're sort of left feeling as if you didn't really get a good meal out of it. There's no UMAMI about people online anymore. And there's no real sense of closure either. People have just sort of faded away. It's a bummer that you don't get to hear about the latest chapters of lives that you were once rather immersed in, to one degree or another, and for good or, sometimes, ill. There's no happy ending. Or sad ending, or ANY ending, really. You know they're out there, somewhere, but you no longer know what they are doing, or feeling, or thinking, or laughing about.

Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe we were TOO invested in other people's lives, and neglecting our own. But it doesn't feel like that. It feels more like a sort of accidental abandonment by friends, of friends. It's not that I don't care enough to write as much as I used to, certainly.

Blah blah blah.

*crickets*

When you sit down to write something, it helps to have something in mind to write about. I haven't felt like that in a long time. That I've had anything particular to write about. But it's not like the things that I have written about before were anything earth-shattering. I just did it. I just wrote about them. What I was doing, or feeling, or thinking, or laughing about. It makes me feel good to write something, anyway. It makes me feel better when, at the end of the year, I have a record of my life and thoughts that I can print for posterity (or for my kids, whichever comes first). It probably doesn't help that so much of my brain space these days is eaten up with the crazy at work. Still, there are plenty of other things to write about, and think about, and laugh about. Right?

Today was a particularly crazy, stressful day at work, with several meetings, too much to do (as usual) and trying to get plane tickets booked for a trip to Italy for work next week with my boss. I was very pleased that she asked me to accompany her. It's to hold a branding training for the S. Europe regional marketing staff. I have been to the Axis office in Milan once before, years ago, but they have since expanded and moved, so it will all be new to me. And it's the first work trip I've had in ages...years, actually, so that's nice, too.

The massage appointment I also had scheduled today was canceled last minute due to illness, which I was particularly bummed about, since it's been 3 weeks and I was desperately in need of one to help stave off shoulder issues...but then Karin agreed to give me a half-hour this evening (for pay, but still) and she ALSO cooked dinner from scratch, unasked. It was delicious: red pesto pasta with zucchini and smoked salmon. You should be envious. And the tomatoes in the garden are STILL ripening. I brought in another handful tonight. It's been about a handful a day since late July. Yum yum. AND we're going to try to dry the giant sunflower serendipitously sprouted in the front yard over the summer. It's HUGE—seriously. The size of a very fat dinner plate. The head has bowed and the petals are starting to fall. As soon as it starts to turn yellow/brown, we'll chop it off and bring it in to dry (assuming the birds don't beat us to it). I expect there are close to a thousands sunflower seeds in that thing.

What else haven't I written about? Karin's struggles with the driving test. Karin's job at my company getting extended. Martin's year and then some at college. What we're doing for Christmas. Anders' kayak (it's finished! It's beautiful! It floats!). So many things that get missed when I don't sit down and just write. Just do it.

*Alas
 recumbent
mood: recumbent
music: Maia Sharp—A Home


zird is the word [userpic]
WHERE'S MY "I VOTED" STICKER?
It's that time of year again, when we vote on books for the AWC book group after sending in our nominations. There are around 15 or so regulars and when each of them sends 3-5 book recommendations, it makes for quite a long list. We had 35 to choose from this year and the 9 winners were announced today. We actually have one book left from last year's list, that we will be discussing next week and I just realized I'd better get going on it. I often wait until quite close to the book discussion date because if I read the book too far in advance, I can't remember the details! :D

Our book group organizer pointed out that it was a very close race this year; only two books were chosen by an overwhelming majority. The rest of the winners received a few votes each and our list is compiled of the books that each received four or more votes. We seem to be in the mood for a good story this year; only two non-fiction titles made the list, which is a bit of a change from the last couple of years. We also seem to want to read about women! In past years we've often had a person who could 'feel our pulse', and nominated several of the titles that were eventually chosen. This year, however, each book in the 'final nine' was nominated by a different person. That somehow feels very democratic!

I'm okay with the list even though only three of the books I voted for and only ONE of the books I nominated made the list because there is only one book on it that I've already read. I re-recommended a book this year that I nominated last year, which didn't make the cut either time, so I'll just have to read it on my own time.

Here is the list, in case you're interested or looking for something to read!

Key: blue=recommended/voted for by me. green=voted for by me. yellow=already read. The ones with a star in front won.
  1. * All the Single Ladies - Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister
  2. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  3. * Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton
  4. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
  5. The Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama
  6. The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood
  7. Carried Away - A personal selection of stories by Alice Munro
  8. Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
  9. * Educated by Tara Westover
  10. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  11. The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll
  12. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
  13. * The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil
  14. Good Me Bad Me: A Novel by Ali Land
  15. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  16. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  17. * The Home for Unwanted Girls: The Heart-Wrenching Story of a Mother-Daughter Bond That Could Not Be Broken by Joanna Goodman
  18. Hotel Sacher: A Novel by Rodica Doehnert
  19. The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us by Diane Ackerman
  20. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  21. * Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  22. Little Nothing by Marisa Silver
  23. Making Friends with Death by Laura Pritchett
  24. Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
  25. * The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Ziynab Joukhadar
  26. Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
  27. Nothing Holds Back the Night by Delphine de Vigan
  28. The Outsider, by Stephen King
  29. * The Power by Naomi Alderman
  30. * A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  31. Runaway Amish Girl: The Great Escape by Emma Gingerich
  32. Sapiens, A Brief History of Human kind by Yuval Noah Harari
  33. The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch
  34. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  35. What Unites Us by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner
Lots of good reading ahead! Now I just have to finish indulging myself with a childhood favorite (Heidi) and get going on the book for next week so I can talk intelligently about it when we meet!
 pleased
mood: pleased
music: The Cars—Magic


zird is the word [userpic]
THIS IS THE LIFE
Tonight, Karin drove to the bus stop in Gårdstånga, and I was glad I was just along for the ride, because it meant that I could concentrate on staring at the GIGANTIC FIERY RED sun that was just about to descend below the horizon. We could only see the top of it above the trees, but it was seriously HUGE. Then as I turned the car around, after we switched places, we saw two hot-air balloons out over Odarslöv and one of them was as big as the sun. Weird what atmospherics can do.

She had a nice week in Greece, except for the part where she and her friend had their stuff stolen off the beach. They had stopped on the way back to their apartment for an evening swim, and while they were in the water, about 2 meters away from their bags, Karin noticed a man sneaking away from their stuff. She raced as fast as she could out of the water, but couldn't catch up to him, and they discovered both their bags were missing: phones, wallets, jewelry, keys, ...augh!

They went to the police immediately who, apparently tired of rich tourist kids, were complete jerks and extremely rude to them. GAH. Anyway, after filling out the report, and back on their way home (with no money and an 8-kilometer walk ahead of them), Karin remembered that she had "Find my iPhone" on, and was able to log in to it from someone else's phone (apparently, there were several other kids with them, that they had met earlier). One of the guys went hunting for the location pinpointed on the app, and after she called it repeatedly so he could hear it ringing, they found their bags, abandoned in a yard, wrapped in a towel. They got their iphones, wallets (sans cash, but with cards/IDs), and keys back. But her jewelry, including 4 gold rings, her gold Casio watch and her Apple Airpod earphones were gone.

One of the rings was mine and one was an heirloom from my grandfather that my mom gave her last summer, so a lot of sentimental value. :( Thankfully, we had the receipt for the earphones and she had photos as proof of ownership of the rings and watch so will hopefully get reimbursement from our insurance agency for the stolen items. I managed to bite my tongue and not ask her what she was thinking, leaving her valuables on the beach with no one to guard them, but gah. Anyway, she's definitely learned THAT lesson. And her father and I were very glad that no one was hurt and they were able to recover so much!

After a week of rain and chilly temps, it seems to have evened out again and we've had really nice weather, not too cold, and no wind, and beautiful evenings. There's been a lot going on...in the past 5 days I've had an evening work event, a birthday dinner with the Wonders, a crayfish party, a movie night with Karin and a hair appointment. Whew!

Martin has started school again and sent me photos of the dorm room he is sharing with his 3 best friends at CCS, but I have yet to talk to him to find out how it's going. I'm sure he's full up already, considering he has TWO jobs to handle, on top of classes starting. One is a 5-hour per week school photographer job and the other is a 15-hour position working at the center where they rent out cameras and equipment to the students. They are only allowed to work 20 hours during school terms, so he's at the limit and actually just had to turn down another position that was offered to him in the photography lab the week before school started! Now if he can just parlay that kind of stuff into enough money to stay in school next term, we'll be getting somewhere! :D

We have AWC board elections coming up at the end of this month, and yes, I'm staying on as the membership officer again. We already have a full roster, which I think is the earliest we've ever had the board nominations filled in the 20 years the club has existed. And it's a GOOD one again this year, so I'm quite pleased.

In other news, there are more tomatoes ripening on the vine and I picked four orange peppers this week. Yum yum! My salads this past month have been divine.
 calm
mood: calm
music: Swedish election debates on TV


zird is the word [userpic]
LEFT OF CENTER, PLUS POTATOES
Karin is leaving in the morning (really more like the middle of the night, since her flight from Copenhagen leaves at 6 a.m.) for Greece on a last-minute cheap ticket deal with a couple of friends. They are going to Kos, which I know nothing about, but the name was vaguely familiar, a brain-remnant left over from years of Humanities and Art History classes, one presumes.

She came home after work to finish packing and requested "a nice dinner" so I had the inspiration to drive to Eslöv to an excellent butcher that we patronize on occasion and buy something for Anders to grill. The butcher is a little storefront in the back end of a rather sketchy industrial area but it is very well-trafficked. There were a dozen cars out front and several people waiting in line. In addition to many choices of cuts of meat, they also have a small selection of excellent cheeses, lots of homemade sauce choices, farm-fresh eggs and several shelves of spendy imported items like balsamic vinegar and fancy crackers. I bought 3 pork chops which they put into a bag of "sweet & smoky" marinade for me, a little container of "the best" Bearnaise sauce and a bag of excellent fresh-baked croissants. I wasn't going to the grocery store, and we didn't have potatoes at home, so I reasoned we could either have the croissants as dinner rolls or we could always make some rice or pasta.

Then I remembered that Skarhult castle is on the way home and they have a little old brick building on the side of the road where they sell their own eggs, potatoes, tomatoes and wheat flour. It's all on the honor system; you can leave cash in a box or pay with Swish on your phone app (which is what I did since I never have cash on me anymore), and quite cheap. I bought a 2 kilo bag of absolutely delicious potatoes for only 30 SEK ($3.28). These are the same potatoes that Anders bought back in May; which we ended up planting the last few that hadn't gotten cooked as seed potatoes...we harvested them only a few weeks ago and they were SCRUMPTIOUS.

Mostly, I'm a big fan of one-stop-shopping at our local grocery store, which has an excellent deli counter for meat and cheese and a fairly impressive produce section, but it was fun to get "the best" and put together a delicious dinner, which granted, someone else cooked for us. Thanks, honey!

Sweden is rapidly approaching Election Day, which comes here, as in the US, every four years. However, here there are 9 major parties to choose between (plus lots of little ones that don't actually have enough votes to warrant seats in Parliament), which makes things both confusing and difficult, especially since they tend to group together in various alliances to form governments, since none of them are really big enough to have a true majority. This will be the second national election that I'm eligible to vote in, and I'm much more invested now in actively figuring out who really deserves my vote. The thing is, almost all the parties here are so far to the left of what we consider "left" in the States, that it's rather comical. Martin tried to get all of us to take the "Election compass" quiz on the major news sites which helps you figure out what parties your ideals are most aligned with, in terms of the most debated issues of the day. He and Karin and I all basically got the same spread, with our top three percentages going to the Left Party, Green Party and the currently in-power Swedish Social Democrats, though not necessarily in the same order.

That last is NOT to be confused with the deliberately similarly-named Sweden Democrats who have, the past several years, vastly increased their base in politics, popular opinion and government seats. The Sverigedemokraterna are a right-wing white nationalist group with true neo-Nazi roots who have tried to clean up their act, and cover their tracks, in order to gather voters, succeeding quite handily, sadly. Their main platform of success is on rousing people to vote against immigration, refugees, women's rights and political "correctness" just like all the other populist parties across the world, including the one in power at home.

It's been the main topic of conversation during lunch hour, with many of my colleagues there, and friends outside of work as well, unsure of who they will vote for. There is no real "front-runner" and no real charismatic party leaders and a lot of dissatisfaction both with the party in power and things in general, despite the fact that Sweden is doing many, many things well.

Karin, rather surprisingly, is extremely well-versed in the political scene and has very decided opinions about the issues and the parties. She's been very vocal about what she thinks, and decries the fact that so many of the young people she knows are voting for the populist party out of what she (and I) considers to be sheer willful ignorance.

Even though it is already possible to cast your vote in the pre-voting process, I think I'll wait until the actual election day and walk over with my husband to the kids' former elementary school, a couple of blocks away, in the center of our little village and cast my vote in the school library, with a piece of paper marked with my choice, the old-fashioned way. I just hope I can figure out who I'm going to actually vote for before I get there. It's not so easy as it is in the US where these days it feels like there are really only two choices: good and evil. Ha! If only the choices were as simple as potatoes: starchy or waxy, or as they're known in Swedish: mjölig eller fast. It depends on whether you're mashing or not, but for the most part, I choose firm and solid over mushy any time!
 hopeful
mood: hopeful
music: Earth, Wind & Fire—Got to Get You Into My Life


zird is the word [userpic]
NOW I LAY ME DOWN
It's tough coming home from work, especially after a night where I didn't sleep well, because I either 1) couldn't get to sleep 2) couldn't get comfortable and kept waking up 3) kept waking up too hot 4) woke up super early and a) had to get up to go to the bathroom b) had a headache and had to get up to take medicine c) heard the furnace beeping and had to get up to go turn it off d) woke up when my husband's alarm went off and then again when he went in and out of the closet because the closet door squeaks, or 5) all of the above, because if I sit down on the couch I'm done for.

Did you manage to get through and actually understand the gist of that opening sentence? Because I'M lost but that's probably because I'm tired. Heh.

Maybe it's worse when I've spent the weekend staying up too late and sleeping in too long, like I did this weekend, even though I had to get up before I wanted to, BOTH DAYS, and go fetch Karin at the bus stop in Gårdstånga because there are no buses to Flyinge on weekends. She's finally working on getting her driver's license and man, I CAN'T WAIT. 20 years of driving kids around, and picking them up again, is too many. She's doing the second risk-driving course tomorrow, which teaches you how to drive in icy conditions, and after that she just has to take and pass the monster theory test and then the actual driving test. Unfortunately, she still probably won't be done until September or October since you have to book the tests so far in advance, but an end is in sight!

I had a nice, quiet birthday on Friday. Got presents from Anders on Wednesday night because he left early Thursday morning for Cyckel Vasa up north with a bunch of mountain-biking pals, and Karin gave me her present on Thursday night because I had Friday off and she didn't want to wake me up at 6:30 to...make me hunt for my present. She had put together a little treasure hunt, printing out little clues that led me from the kitchen out to the storage room (where there were roses), and then to Martin's room, where there was a final riddle that once I figured it out, led me to my present, which was hidden in the (turned-off) oven.

It was a little metal bird sculpture that I had admired months ago in a shop at Tirups Örtagård (a garden center with a nice cafe where we had taken Anders' mom for lunch once. Sneaky!

On Friday I got up late, and then went in to Lund to meet her and 2 friends for lunch. Then I took her back to work where my colleagues all pounced on me and sang Happy Birthday, and then Karin and I went down to Malmö. We visited Anders' mom and then walked around Malmöfestivalen for a couple of hours, had sushi for dinner and churros for dessert, and then I dropped her off at a friend's house and went home. I spent the rest of the very quiet weekend watching good movies: The Florida Project, Garden State and I, Tonya. All of them were excellent in very different ways.

It's nearly 8 pm and I mostly just want to go lie down but if I do, I'll wake up even earlier than usual, so that's out. It's been cold and windy and rainy since Saturday, though I DID see one shooting start on Saturday night, at 2 am after I had finished watching a double feature and then pulled myself out of the rabbit hole of IMDb trivia and Wikipedia pages the movies led me to. It's overcast again now: a solid pale grey sheet of cloud cover, so I guess I don't get the Perseids for my birthday this year. Maybe tomorrow, since tonight is the peak, and there will still be a chance to see some if I'm lucky and it clears up by tomorrow evening.

Since I can't go lie down yet, I will go start looking for airline tickets for Christmas, a job I passionately hate. That ought to rile me up enough to stay up until it's time to go to bed.
 tired
mood: tired
music: Karin singing Hush Little Baby


zird is the word [userpic]
HOT POTATO
I'm normally about as far from being a gardener as you can get. I don't like being outside all that much. I loathe having dirt under my fingernails. Bending over is hard these days thanks to back issues and kneeling is out completely. That said, I like gardens. I like flowers. And I like eating things. This year has been a banner year in the Ek family backyard, where we've managed to grow several...crops.

Thanks to getting net on the cherry tree, we enjoyed a month-long bonanza of delicious sweet cherries. It's hard to believe I had practically never even eaten cherries before I turned 40.



Then I bought some starter vegetables from a colleague and have spent most of this incredibly dry, hot summer determined to keep them alive, only to discover that vegetables apparently LOVE the back side of the house and all the hot, hot sun, with a good dousing every evening. Our scallions went bananas and poofed up into a huge tufty bunch of green onion spears. The green pepper plant has rewarded us with two bright orange beauties and a couple more on the way. The little chili pepper plant has several small spiky green chillis coming (we don't know how long before they turn red, though), and the cherry tomatoes have taken over the entire wall. We can't even open our bedroom window all the way. Next year, they're getting moved over to remedy that!

A week ago we harvested the "new" potatoes that Anders planted. They were all small, ranging in size from marble to slightly-bigger-than-a-golf-ball. They came to about half a big bowlful and we boiled them for dinner, and served them with salmon and asparagus and Bernaise sauce. They were buttery and DELICIOUS. We will be doing that again, for sure...maybe planning for twice as many and twice the harvests, now that we sort of know what we're doing, in regards to potatoes.



Every evening for the past several weeks, when I've gone out to water, I've come back in with a handful or two of ripe or nearly ripe perfect little round tomatoes. So fun to throw them into the salads I make and bring to work. It's best to grow things that we will actually eat, you know? :D

And that's not even including the unexpected, serendipitous plums! We can't take credit for those at all. Anders picked everything that was left on the tree-bush-shrub-green-giant; another bowlful to make marmalade from, but we'll see if it gets made, as they are already pretty well past ripe and he's out in the garage working on the finish of the kayak which is now glued together and getting close to being done!

Anyway, I guess part of it is just the luck of being home in the summer months...we couldn't have done any of this "farming" at all if we'd been in the States for 3-4 weeks like the previous two years. Getting to eat yummy things that you have grown and actually like kind of...grows on you. Hah!

I have a birthday at the end of this week, but it's not a major one, and with Anders gone for the upcoming weekend and Martin in the States, I'm not really feeling like celebrating. Karin has mentioned going to Malmöfestivalen for the evening as it's opening night, but I'm not sure I want to brave the madness, even for the lure of langos and churros. The heat has given us a respite, at least a couple of days, and it was dotting random drops of rain on my head when I went out to water tonight, so maybe we'll actually get a downpour. I hope it stays cool for awhile, though it's still humid...or maybe that's just me. HOT FLASH alert. GAH.

I read recently that hot flashes can plague women in menopause for up to 10 years. Most women experience them for an average of SEVEN. I haven't even been having them for a year yet, but I already know I won't make it. I'll have to move to Siberia.

Looking forward to: staying up for the Perseids this weekend, getting together with my friends Debbie & Camilla, finalizing plans for Christmas, book group on Thursday
 calm
mood: calm
music: Jack Savoretti—Back Where I Belong


zird is the word [userpic]
PLUMBING THE DEPTHS
I just realized what is wrong with me. I'm in a rut. You know the one, maybe...where life is moving smoothly along and nothing much is happening; certainly nothing worth writing about, and you don't feel particularly sad or happy or really, anything. You just get up in the morning and do the things you have to do: shower, dress, brush your teeth, etc. You go to work, you eat the meals that keep you going, you do some of the things that you like doing: reading, watching a movie or a show, making phone calls, checking email, but there are no real highs or lows.

Maybe it's just the heat talking. My last post was a 1-day relief in a 2.5 MONTH stretch of hot, humid summer days. I don't want to complain about sunny summer days, but after a week of 90+ temps, I feel I have the right. Yesterday the house was 90 degrees INSIDE when I woke up to go to work. That's ridiculous. It wasn't even that hot outside at that point! GAH.

The other night when I went out to water the flowers and vegetables, I was standing over the potato patch and saw, at eye-level that the evil thornbush was full of fruit...that smelled quite nice actually and were bigger than I expected for a bush that I had tagged in my mind as a useless invader who has only been allowed to live because for about 2 weeks each spring, it's beautiful. It explodes in March with millions of little white blossoms and generally looks like a wedding cake for about 14 days.

I knew the bush had fruit, but I've not paid that much attention to it, figuring it was some sort of berry that birds might eat but not people. And the last two summers we've been gone for the entire month of July so this is the first summer that I've been home to notice and also close enough to actually pay attention, thanks to the potatoes. I picked a couple of the fruits...they're a bright yellow, about the size of a cherry. But they're not a cherry. I posted a photo of them on Instagram and asked for help identifying them. Lots of answers and guesses...narrowing it down finally to decide they are mirabelle plums! Totally edible and quite sweet. Good for jams/jellies, cakes/pies, or fermenting into wine, etc. Huh! Who'da thunkit?

Apparently, they are BANNED in the US, because only "true" Mirabelle plums can come from Lorraine, France and import laws restrict them. There must be SOME sort of small yellow plums around, in America...it's a big country. What a weird thing to have banned. Anyway, the wikipedia pages I researched don't say anything about it being found in Scandinavia, but do mention that they grow wild as well as domestically, in the European continent. So, serendiptiously, it turns out we have TWO bumper-crop-bearing fruit trees in our yard!





I've never cared all that much for plums...not sure why. It's just not a fruit I grew up eating much, for some reason, so it's not one I prefer or purchase, though I have always like them when baked into a cake or pie (disclaimer: I suspect I would like pretty much ANY fruit baked into a cake or a pie. Mmmmmmmmmm pie). I have already given away a liter bag to 1 friend and am taking 2 more to friends at work on Monday. What we have leftover will probably be...baked into a cake or a pie. Heh. Or maybe Anders will get creative and make some plum chutney. I never cared much for cherries either, until I moved to Sweden, and was given a cherry tree the year I turned 40.

Anyway, back to my rut. If it's not the heat, maybe it's post-project let-down. I've had a really busy spring and early summer with lots of things going on and lots of visitors. Now that's all done and there's not really anything on the agenda to anticipate quite yet, or for a long while. We are tentatively considering trying to go to the States for Christmas this year, but still have to make some definitely decisions. Maybe it's just that I'm working all summer, while everyone else is off, and playing, and obviously enjoying the heatwave. More power to them, since even if heat is not my thing, I fully understand why most everyone else is so thrilled about this summer. It IS unprecedented, and I am NOT complaining about the sunshine. Just the heat part of it. Which I know, I know...that's what the sun IS. But oy vey, I'm kinda ready for fall.

Maybe it's just aging. Or empty-nesting. Or menopause.

Maybe it's all of the above.

Whatever it is, I'm plumb tired of it. Time to pull a Moonstruck, slap myself and yell "SNAP OUT OF IT!"

But first, time to go google plum pie recipes.
 apathetic
mood: apathetic
music: FANS AT HIGH SPEED


zird is the word [userpic]
COOLING DOWN A BIT
It was cloudy today, an even gray cover, misting us in rain but not enough to actually WATER the thirsty earth. I went out with the hose after dinner and gave the potatoes and the tomatoes a good soaking, stopping to pluck another little red cherry tomato. The plants are so heavy they are pulling away from the house and leaning the slatted sticks that were supposed to support them over so far that I'm pretty sure it's just a matter of time before they hit the ground. There are tons of tiny green tomato balls growing and still the little yellow flowers keep coming. Tomato bonanza!

The potatoes that Anders planted are nearly a foot high (though the ones in the far back corner are smaller). We have no idea when there will, or IF there will, actually be potatoes underneath those leaves. We've never done this before and since we planted them SUPER late (mid-June), it might be mid-September before we have new potatoes. Better late than never, though, I guess. Anders thinks the plants should flower before we'll actually get potatoes but I don't know...they're the ROOTS, aren't they? Do potato plant flowers matter when you've planted potatoes from pieces of potatoes? Maybe flowers don't matter? Guess I should get Googling.

It's funny how no one wants to complain about the heat, because this is probably the best Swedish summer in history, sun-wise. We had the hottest May on record, and it's only gotten hotter. We haven't gone over the highest temperatures recorded here, according to Wikipedia, but we're pretty darn close. Today was a return to the USUAL Swedish summer weather, and there were a lot of surreptitious sighs of relief going on.

There's not much to write about right now, or at least not a lot going on that needs to be recorded for posterity. Anders is on vacation. Karin stayed home sick with a sore throat today. I worked. Work is only slightly less busy than usual, but I'm keeping things caught up, so that's a good feeling. It's weird to sit down and just write like this when I haven't been so good at doing it for so long.

We have weekend plans to go see "Bruksspelet" which is the original musical playing at Klippans old paper mill. This year's play is set in the 1970s and further back, "In grandfather's time". They've been putting on musicals at the former paper mill since 2013 but we've never managed to get in gear and get tickets before now, despite having friends who have worked with it nearly since the beginning. The paper mill in Klippan opened in 1573 so it has a long history in the town. It's pretty cool that they have made such a success of it year after year with the musical filling seats for an entire month each summer.

I just turned and looked out the window and it's raining much more steadily now. I could hear the steady patter for several minutes before I registered what it was; it's been so long since we've had rain! I hope it's doing it up north where all the fires have been, and not just here. It's probably just raining because I watered. I didn't wash the car so that must be it.
 calm
mood: calm
music: Cajsa Stina Äkerström—Långt härifrån


zird is the word [userpic]
I'M MELTING, I'M MELTING
It's official: I'm overheating. The house is hot, I'm hot. Every fan we own is on, and it's NOT HELPING.

GAH.

It was 32C when I got home today. That's 96F. In SWEDEN. Even in mid-July, that's damn hot. Add hot flashes to that, and I am one unhappy camper. If it doesn't cool down soon, I'm going to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West in a pool of my own sweat, swearing all the way. Yeah, yeah, there's no humidity and it will cool down overnight, but OMG I'm hot today. I was so hot and tired and headachy after work that I had to lie down (under our bedroom ceiling fan). I set the alarm for half an hour and when I woke up again, I was literally shaking.

The weather forecast calls for these high temps into the next two weeks. It's been hot and getting progressively hotter since mid-May. It's rained ONCE. Tomorrow we're supposed to have "heavy thunderstorms" but the temperatures are staying close to 90. GAH!!! I'm going to go get a popsicle. Maybe that will help.
 hot
mood: hot
music: sizzling skin


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lizardek

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I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

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