April 16th, 2014

Rhythm is gonna get you

Kids up here get to start playing a musical instrument through their school in third grade, and as she’s finishing up second grade now, it’s time for Petra to choose an instrument. Last week I took her to an open house at the music school, where she got to try out a good twenty or so instruments before deciding on a first and second choice. I was angling hard for the baritone — mostly, I admit, because I’ve been longing to get my hands on a baritone for a good many years now, but she wasn’t much a fan.

She was quite taken, much to my delight, with the upright bass, but unfortunately that’s not an option at her school here. Boo, hiss.

She decided, after only minimal agonizing, to put down trumpet as her first choice and piano as her second. I approve heartily of both, so here’s hoping she gets chosen for one or the other (it’s a lottery system, as there are only a limited number of spots for each instrument).

As for me, I couldn’t shake the idea of a baritone, so I stated looking around online when we got home. I found one that I thought was reasonably priced, and I made a post on Facebook linking to it and saying how much I wanted it. A friend of mine from the history department quickly posted a link to one that was even cheaper, from a supplier he knows and trusts in Germany, and I was powerless to resist. I ordered it that same evening, and it should be arriving tomorrow. I am seriously on pins and needles.

One of these days we need to get one of these.

Served up by Beverly at 10:50 pm 1 Comment »

April 4th, 2014


You guys, I am all typed out. Seriously, I think I’ve used up every word in my brain working on my thesis over the past week. The good news is, I’ve got 47 pages now, and 16 more will get me into the acceptable range. I’m sure I’ve got enough material to get me there and beyond,and it’s so good to feel like the end is almost in sight.

Also, Yrsa cute as all get-out.

hamming it up

Served up by Beverly at 10:48 pm 2 Comments »

March 30th, 2014

Might go and get me a new tattoo

Or, rather, I already did. Two, in fact. I was going to get just the spider, but while we were in England one of my classmates suggested I should get an army ant as well. Though he was just joking, the idea took hold in my head. I’m not sure that the ant on my arm is an actually an army ant (it’s a rather imprecise designation), but ants are cool and I liked the picture I decided on, so when I visited my tattoo guy on Tuesday, I figured it would go nicely alongside the spider.

This picture was taken just now, and you can see that the tattoos are in the peely-flaky stage. Still, you get the idea.

The ant and the spider

Served up by Beverly at 07:00 pm Comments Off

March 24th, 2014

Canons Ashby

I promised pictures a while ago, and now I’m finally getting around to posting some. I didn’t take all that many, so I didn’t have many to choose from. These were all taken at Canons Ashby, a place to which pictures simply can’t do justice.

Lovely view



Gorgeous stove

Medieval priory

Served up by Beverly at 11:34 pm 3 Comments »

March 17th, 2014


It’s been a long time coming, I know …

I’m having a hard time getting my words to come out right for my thesis, so I figured I might as well try my hand here. At least the critics are nicer! (Actually, the critics of my thesis are pretty nice as well, except for me, myself; I find myself hating nearly every word I put down lately.) Anyway, I just got a good and thorough pep talk from one of my classmates, and now I’m feeling better than I was a couple of hours ago. Now just to hold on to that feeling until tomorrow morning …

In the meantime, I’ll give a little recap of how we spent our time in England (I could let it suffice to say that there were plenty of pints involved, but that’s probably less fun for you all than it was for me).

Anyway, we got to Northampton last Sunday evening and checked in to our hotel before heading out for dinner (and pints). Due to a near-to-last-minute problem with our original hotel, we ended up at Travelodge, which was adequate, but certainly no more. I think we were all a bit disheartened by the lack of free wi-fi and the atrocious sugar-bomb-in-a-box that passed for breakfast. We gamely soldiered on, however, and had a good morning of workshop activity with English researchers and Ph.D. students. The afternoon we spent visiting a couple of churches and the Sessions House. My favorite was easily St. Peter’s Church, built in the 1100s. It’s an indescribably lovely little building.

The rest of the day we were back doing workshop-type stuff, and after a late dinner we retired just before midnight. We were up early again the next morning for an excursion to Canons Ashby House. The house itself was magnificent, and it was made all the more appealing by an extremely engaging tour guide.

We returned to Northampton after lunch and set our minds back on our work. The workshop wrapped up at 5pm, and we were on our own for the rest of the evening. One classmate and I did a tiny bit of shopping at Tesco then hit KFC for dinner before meeting up with everybody else for, you guessed it, pints. It was a fun evening, with just enough tension and discomfort mixed in to keep things interesting.

After far too little sleep, we set off on our journey home early-ish Wednesday morning, and I got home just around seven that evening. It took me way too long to catch up on sleep and get my head back into the thesis game, but other than that I have no complaints. You may well have complaints about the lack of pictures in this post, but I promise I’ll rectify that situation in the next couple of days. Be forewarned, though, that I didn’t take nearly as many as I probably should have.

Served up by Beverly at 10:36 pm Comments Off

March 8th, 2014


I have to drag myself out of bed at six o’clock tomorrow morning. That is the one thing I haven’t been looking forward to about my trip to England. The rest of it will be a lot of fun, I’m sure, not least because the people I’m traveling with are a lot of fun. Also, the weather is supposed to be nice and warm, around 15°C (60°F) at mid-day, and I’m enjoying the thought of taking a light jacket.

Honestly, though, it’s a pretty nice spring up here, too. The temperatures are way above freezing, and the snow is all but gone. Today the skies were clear and blue, and if it hadn’t been for the crazy winds it would have been absolutely perfect.

The only bad thing about this weekend is that I didn’t get nearly as much work done as I’d been aiming for. I did get five good pages, between Wednesday and Thursday, but not more than a paragraph yesterday and today. I still feel like I’m in pretty good shape to meet my deadline (rough draft April 4, final product May 16), but time is starting to get short. Unfortunately, March is kind of a busy month for me, but at least the kids are going back to school on Monday, and after I’m home from Northampton on Wednesday, I’ll have a good stretch of days to write before my next trip to Uppsala on the 21st. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Served up by Beverly at 09:15 pm Comments Off

March 4th, 2014


The kids are on “sport break” this week, a break that is traditionally dedicated to outdoor winder activities, but the dearth of snow has more or less put the kibosh on that. We’re not really much of an outdoor-winter-activities kind of family, though, so none of us is very disappointed. We don’t really have much planned aside from staying up late and sleeping in as much as we can. Poor Olof has to work every day except today, so he doesn’t even get that pleasure.

This morning I was up early-ish — around 9 — to go to town and get my hair done. Olof, Tage, and Petra had plans later to go to some sort of activity place with an after-school group Petra attends, so I took the bus and he took the car. He prefers never to drive if he can avoid it, so that was a seldom-seen role reversal. He would happily have taken the bus himself, but there’s no stop close to where they were going, so he had little choice.

The two littlest girls stayed over at Olof’s parents’ house while we all were away, so when I got home I took advantage of a bit of alone time to work some on my paper. The others got home about an hour after I did and before too long it was time to be thinking about dinner. Neither of us could really be bothered, so we figured we might as well have dinner in town and do a little grocery shopping afterward. The kids readily agreed to this plan, obviously, so we all loaded up in the car and headed back the way most of us had recently come, with me driving this time.

I think we got most of what we need for a few days, and if I’m lucky we won’t have to shop or meal-plan again before I leave for Northampton on Sunday morning. What they here at home decide to do after that is all on them.

Served up by Beverly at 08:52 pm Comments Off

February 24th, 2014

Still here

The sick just will not let us go. Brynja was home all last week, and on Friday Petra started exhibiting the same telltale fever Brynja started with. Brynja’s is nearly back to her regular self, but Petra had a pretty rough weekend with fever and chills, headache, sore throat, and coughing.

Olof and I have also been going a little back and forth with the coughing and general ick, and I am so ready for it to go away. We heard this morning that chicken pox is going around the pre-school, but at least that’s been got out of the way for us. I just simply don’t have time for that sort of thing.

Petra and Tage were both home today, though I think Tage’s malaise was as much due to the two teeth he pulled yesterday. He lost both his canine and first molar on the same side, and he may have been a little too vigorous in his tooth-wiggling. He’s been complaining quite a bit about it hurting, and I can see when I look at him that he’s a little swollen on that side.

I’m hoping that everyone goes back to school tomorrow, ’cause I could really use a full work day before flying down to Uppsala Wednesday morning. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to this trip — it’s been a month since I’ve been there and I am way overdue.Unfortunately, Tage also has a violin concert on Wednesday morning, so I’ll be missing that. He’s such an easy-going kid, mostly, and he just takes that sort of thing in stride, but I know I’ll be stewing over it for weeks.

Served up by Beverly at 09:38 pm Comments Off

February 17th, 2014


Last night, just as we were getting ready for bed, Lydia came downstairs carrying a sobbing Brynja. At first I thought she’d had a nightmare or fallen out of bed, but it turned out that she’d woken with a terrible headache and was startlingly feverish. We dosed her up with acetaminophen and made her a bed on the couch, putting a glass of water and the remote control on the coffee table beside her. This morning when we got up she was fast asleep, and still too warm, so we didn’t bother waking her for school.

She is both the best and worst kid to have home sick, and for the same reason. When she’s not well, she just lies listlessly on the couch and feels miserable. She doesn’t constantly ask for things, or give us a running litany of her ever-worsening symptoms, or beg to be held for hours on end. She just suffers in silence and lets us go about our business. It’s agonizing, her stoicism.

She’s been back-and-forth for most of the day today, but has never felt well enough to eat more than popsicles and blueberry soup. I expect she’ll be home tomorrow, and I’m crossing my fingers that she’s the only one. So far everyone seems fine, but it came on pretty suddenly for Brynja, so I daren’t be too optimistic.

Served up by Beverly at 11:07 pm Comments Off

February 16th, 2014


So Friday was Valentine’s Day. It’s not a thing I’m much interested in — I don’t think Olof and I even wished each other a Happy Valentine’s Day — but the kids had been waiting for it for weeks. Not because they care any more than their parents do about hearts and flowers, but because it was the premiere date for the Lego movie.

We’d been planning to take the three middle kids and leave Yrsa with Farmor, partly because she’s only three, partly because the only showings were 3D, and partly because the English showing wasn’t until 8:15 in the evening. In the end, however, the older kids had talked it up so much in front of her that we didn’t have the heart to leave her when it was time to go.

Cartoons aren’t usually shown in English up here in the hinterlands, so we felt pretty lucky that this one was. I think it was down to the movie being directed at a mixed audience, rather than just at kids, and we weren’t surprised to find that our kids were the only ones under the age of about fifteen in attendance. I had thought that other audience members might think, since we brought little kids, that we had missed that it was an English showing, but as much as they all gabbed before the movie started there was little chance of that.

They settled right down when the curtains went up, though (probably didn’t hurt that their mouths were full of popcorn), and they all watched raptly. Even Yrsa stayed awake for the entire movie, although she wore the 3D glasses only about a third of the time, which is probably just as well. They all loved it and have been begging to see it again, and Olof loved it as well. I thought it was pretty good myself, which is saying something, as I’m really not much of a moviegoer.

All in all, it may just have been the best Valentine’s date I’ve ever been on.

Served up by Beverly at 11:26 pm Comments Off