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.
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.
February 24th, 2014
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.
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.
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.
February 11th, 2014
I was very industrious today, putting in a few solid hours working on my thesis. My page count thus far is six or seven, which means I’m ten percent done! Yeah, that’s pretty daunting. Not too daunting, though — yet? — as I’ve still got a good six weeks until I need to submit it, then I’ll have time for revisions before the final submission in mid-May. I still can’t believe how many hours of work go into just one page of text, Part of what slows me down is that I’m very much an edit-as-I-go type of writer, so at least I can say that what I’ve got down so far is pretty much in finished form.
I have to tell you, I am so fascinated by “my” priest; I think I could make an entire career researching and writing his life story. I’d tell you more about him, but, well … spoilers. Just believe me when I say that it’s a story worth reading about. I feel very fortunate to have stumbled upon such a rich character. It does creep me out some, though, to think about some scholar looking into all the details of my life, sordid and otherwise, some three hundred years from now. It also makes me think I should keep a thorough diary of absolutely everything, just to help that someday researcher on her way (what I wouldn’t give for my priest to have kept a journal!).
The absolute worst part about this thesis-writing is that I’m working in Microsoft Word … gah. I suppose at least I’m learning all over again to be thankful for Linux. I complained to Olof today about some quirk or other in Windows taking me longer to sort out than it had done to write an entire page earlier in the day. He just chuckled wryly and said he could tell I didn’t work with Windows very often. Against his deeply-held principles, he works all day with Microsoft products, and he told me that he sometimes counts the time lost to Microsoft inefficiency in days rather than hours. Double gah.
February 6th, 2014
Yesterday I had my first hearing test since my surgery in December. I don’t remember the actual numbers, mostly because I don’t understand them, but the upshot is there’s a “clear improvement” in my hearing. Apparently my right ear is still quite a bit stronger than my left ear, but the operated ear is approaching normal hearing. I’ve been told that it could get better still in the coming months, but even if it doesn’t, I’m pleased with the results.
In other news, although the dishwasher was indeed repaired last week, the fix didn’t last longer than one wash, so we’ve still been washing by hand. The repair guy came just a few minutes ago to give it another try, so keep your fingers crossed that this time it sticks.
I’m home for another three weeks before my next trip to Uppsala, and I really need to get the bulk of my thesis written in that time. My preliminary deadline isn’t until the first of April, but March is going to be extremely busy with a trip to England and at least one other trip to the university for seminars and meetings. The final deadline is mid-May, but my supervisor needs a finished manuscript six weeks earlier in order for her to read it and give me feedback for the final polish. I’d hoped to be able to churn out five pages per day, but it’s looking like two or three is going to be the most I can hope for. I did get the books I’d been waiting for, and have also found another couple of texts that should be pretty useful. I think I’ll need to make one more quick trip to the archives, to photograph a couple of documents that I missed on my earlier visits.
The stress is starting to set in a little, but I still feel as though I’m in pretty good shape to come up with a solid finished product in two months’ time. Just gotta keep on keepin’ on.
February 4th, 2014
I put in a solid few hours working on my thesis today. I did fall rather short of the five pages I was aiming for, but I got two pretty good ones, bringing my total to four. It’s so much slower going when I have to look up references and insert footnotes and all that. Also, I’m waiting for a couple of books that I need to cite, so there are some pretty big gaps in what I can write right now. With luck those books will show up this week and I can get that bit out of the way.
Probably the biggest part of the challenge is that I’m not confident about how to incorporate methodology, theory, previous research, et cetera into a smoothly flowing paper. It all seems so clunky. What’s wrong with just telling an interesting story, anyway? I know, I know, it’s not “scientific,” but damn it, Jim, I’m a historian, not a scientist! In my most recent years of study I’ve learned that “descriptive” is just about the worst thing a proper academic text should be. I don’t know if it’s my age showing, or different systems, or god, who knows … all I know is that I earned lots of As on lots of descriptive papers in my undergrad days. It’s a whole new world, it seems.
February 3rd, 2014
Tage has been complaining of headaches for the past while, which is always a bit of a worry. I took him to the doctor a few weeks ago where they took some blood for testing and did a rudimentary physical. Having ruled out anything immediately wrong in a physical sense, they suggested that we take him for an eye exam. I half-expected that glasses might be the cure, but the exam this afternoon found that his vision is perfect. So, back to square one.
After the eye appointment, he and I grabbed a quick dinner at Subway then hurried to his orchestra practice. It’s a nice break for me to sit and listen to the music — they’re surprisingly good — while I read a book. I’m nearly through Life after Life by Kate Atkinson, and it is a terrific read. I love her style so much, and she’ll always be a favorite of mine if for nothing more than that she titled an earlier book Started Early, Took My Dog. I can hardly think of a better title (or a better life philosophy, come to that).
I really do need to stop reading fiction and get more serious about writing my thesis. A completed manuscript is due to my supervisor in two months, and I’ve written hardly more than two pages. Those pages are good, if I do say so myself, but it’s not much to stand on. I’ve set a goal of at least twenty pages — the entire thing is supposed to be seventy — by Friday the 14th. Ideally I’d like to have a complete draft by the end of this month, so that I can spend March polishing it up, but I’m aware that’s rather a lofty aim.
February 2nd, 2014
This afternoon Olof watched Groundhog Day with the kids, in what has become a yearly tradition for them. I like the movie fine, but I don’t love it beyond reason the way some people seem to, so I stayed in the office and listened to George Strait on Spotify. There’s nothing like good country music.
We were up early this morning to head out to the church for the “children’s service” that Petra was taking part in as part of an after-school group she attends. Church isn’t really my thing, but the service was short and the kids were cute, so it was all right. Getting out of bed at nine on a Sunday morning was not all right, however, so I made sure to take a long nap when we came home.
In the middle of my lie-down, Tage came in to tell me that Gwen (the cat) was puking “like, every ten seconds”. Yay. I got up and checked out the situation, and she seemed mostly okay. Apparently she’d eaten part of a rubber spiderweb toy. She got at least two biggish pieces out of her system, which is good, but I worry that there’s more in there. She’s eating and drinking and seems her normal self, but she’s still throwing up now and then as well. I guess a call to the vet is in order tomorrow. Stupid cat.
You know what else is stupid? Our having learned in typing class that two spaces between sentences was the way to go. Not so, as it turns out. For more than twenty-five years I’ve been spacing twice after every sentence, and it’s so ingrained in my fingers that I can hardly help myself. I decided a couple of years ago just to go with it, and hadn’t thought much about until I started seriously writing my thesis. Now I’m determined to break the habit, and it’s just about as much fun (and easy) as breaking habits tends to be.