On this day...
5 years ago: Eighty-five months
10 years ago: Twenty-five months

After Uprooted, I immediately looked for more books by Naomi Novik. I found and read Spinning Silver, and it is just as engrossing, graceful and brilliant as Uprooted.

The books are like sisters – similar in some ways, different in other. In structure, this one is less straightforward and more messy and sprawling. In content, Spinning Silver is also a melding of fairy tales: spinning silver into gold like in Rumpelstiltskin, a fairy king who steals a human girl away, a fire demon who eats souls, etc. The enemy this time isn’t intent on devouring the land, but on bringing on a never-ending winter.

The heroines in this book are more ordinary but at the same time more heroic. They have no magical powers, but they work harder at protecting and saving those they love.

That is what much of this book is about: hard, painful work for the sake of your loved ones. It’s about the heroism of quiet strength rather than spectacular magic. About the pain of being unloved, and the growth that love can bring about. Not romantic love, mind you, but love for one’s family and people.

I wish she had written more like these two, but instead the rest of her work is “Napoleonic wars with dragons”. Too bad.

Shopping is not my favourite activity. Some things are harder to shop than others, and some are positively anxiety-inducing. Footwear is among the worst. It’s hard to find good shoes, and bad ones will affect my well-being daily, and they cost a lot so I can’t just buy and hope for the best and throw them out like a piece of cheese I didn’t like.

Skirts and trousers are also hard, and sports bras.

All of these categories have hundreds, if not thousands, of varieties to choose from. Some will fit me really badly, and others will fit only slightly badly, and some might actually fit really well – but there is no way to find out in advance how something will fit.

Shoe shops offer more choice than ever, so it should be easier than ever to find something that fits. And there are specialist sites that only sell sports bras, for example. But their wide selection of goods is presented in such a way that you can only choose by looks, not by fit. I can search for red shoes, sparkly shoes, platform soled shoes, but I cannot search shoes with soft soles, or boots with a wide calf – or trousers that will fit wide hips and a narrow waist.

The winter boots that I finally bought last year didn’t even last through one winter season – both zippers broke, in different ways. So I have to go through it again this year. To my surprise I actually found two pairs of boots that fit me, in the first batch I ordered. I might actually buy both pairs, even thought it feels decadently wasteful. Soon I will be like Imelda Marcos.

Grade six means more homework than ever, and grades.

Ingrid is pretty stressed out by the whole grading thing. Back in my days, we got graded from day 1 so it was just the way things were. Now grading in the early years is “not done”, in Sweden at least, so when the kids do start getting grades, it’s a big deal. I am looking forward to Christmas and the end of the autumn school term, so that Ingrid can get her grades and realize that (a) she will get good ones and (b) if and when she doesn’t, it’s not the end of the world.

Games night at work. Yes, it’s Ticket to ride again!

Back from scout meet.

November has zero redeeming qualities.

And now we have 5 more months of this grayness to look forward to.

Playing Ticket to Ride.

The long, weird city names and the European geography no longer pose a challenge to Adrian, so we’ve advanced from the kids’ version to the full game. But we mostly skip the extra rules that have been added to this European-map version.

More Halloween. It’s school break and Ingrid was home alone all week. One day the rest of us came home to a fully decorated house, with bats and pumpkins and paper ghosts, and spooky balloons jumping out at us around various corners.

We have a large garage, thanks to a previous owner of the house who, according to rumour, had a small taxi business. Most of the year we don’t use it as a garage because we’re lazy and keep the car parked outside. Instead we use the garage for storing all kinds of other things, such as bicycles, outgrown children’s clothes, flowerpots, winter tyres, camping equipment etc. But when the temperatures start to go below freezing, we squeeze all these other things together and make space for the car.

Our old Volvo fits perfectly. There is enough space left over on all sides that I can drive in carefully rather than anxiously. And there is even enough space left that I can wrangle my bike out without having to move the car.

Six pacman-shaped spider eyes and a multitude of viciously sharp teeth.