The living room

Tried a mum & baby yoga class today, with mixed results. The yoga was nice, and it was nice to do something new. But trying to get anywhere on time with Adrian is always a challenge; having him awake and happy when we get there adds another layer of planning. Basically I had to plan all my activities from 8am onwards with the aim of making it to the class at 11. The class turned out to be an hour and a half long, which was way more than Adrian could take, so we got out after about an hour. And since I spent no more than half my time there doing yoga (the rest went to breastfeeding, nappy changes, and other baby management activities) I didn’t really think it was worth the time, or the effort, or the money. Not going back next week.

All my days recently have been filled with either boring long walks to keep Adrian happy, or exhausting planned activities. I need to find a middle ground: activities that keep us both reasonably occupied, without having to follow a schedule or be on time. Museums, perhaps.

The builders blocked off the kitchen and the living room and then tore out the ceilings. It’s a good thing I wasn’t planning to spend the day at home: it was dust and noise and reciprocating saws and plastic sheeting all the way.

Now that it’s finished, Eric has moved essential furniture back into the living room. Non-essentials are relegated to the basement, since we will need all the space we have for the stuff we currently have in the newer half of the house (which will be blocked off completely pretty soon). My immediate reactions are: (1) those extra 30 cm of height make a big difference, and (2) how nice to have an uncluttered room. When this is all done, I will try to have less stuff and less furniture in each room.

Yesterday: the spring term started at Ingrid’s dance-and-play group.

This morning I went to the clinic (vårdcentral) in the morning to have someone look at my nose. Turns out that the sore nose, or rather the sore in my nose, was caused by a staph infection, not herpes (cold sores). I’m used to getting cold sores when I have a cold, so I had assumed this was one of them. But after 5 days I thought it wasn’t behaving quite “right”. So now I got a prescription for fucidin cream, and care instructions which are pretty much the opposite to what’s advised for cold sores. (Cold sores: don’t touch, don’t pick; my staph sore: try to get rid of the scab.)

Then a trip to town for a blood test, to check my thyroid function. The local clinic does those as well but apparently they’re not connected to the right IT systems. In order for the results to reach my gynecologist, I need to go to another place. I normally go to the clinic at Odenplan, because it’s closest to where I work, so to make things simple I did the same today. I’m always impressed by how good they are at what they do. They never complain about my veins, which the phlebotomists at Royal London Hospital usually did. Very skilled, very fast.

On my way home, when Adrian woke and wanted to nurse, I stopped at Stockholms Glasshus, which is an upmarket ice cream bar. Ice cream in January felt a bit odd, but it’s the only place I could think of where I would be guaranteed to find space for the stroller at lunchtime.

And even though I bought sorbet (raspberry and blackcurrant), Adrian had one of his screaming interludes about 4 hours later. Quite often at ice cream cafes they use the same spoon for all flavours and just quickly rinse it in a bucket of water inbetween servings. Can that trace amount of dairy ice cream have been enough to cause a reaction?

Totally knackered. By 5pm I felt that it would be nice to call it a day and not do anything more.

We had a busy day yesterday and another one today. Playgroup with Adrian, then a long walk while he napped, and otherwise trying to cope with his bored whining. That came on top of a bad night – Adrian woke to nurse at about 3.15 and then spent the next hour tossing and turning and grunting and almost-sleeping. In the end I picked him up and woke him, and then he got out whatever burp or fart was bother him, and then finally we could go back to sleep.

The same seems to be true for Adrian. He had one decent hour-long nap in the morning, then another one after playgroup. After that one he managed to stay awake for less than an hour and then slept for another 90 minutes. And finally a fourth 40-minute nap at around 6pm.

Today is cleaning day. We have a cleaning lady here for 3 hours every other Tuesday.

The neighbours are drilling for geothermal heating. I think by now everyone in this neighbourhood has geothermal heating, except us. And those who don’t are getting it: I think there’s been a drill somewhere in the area every other week during this winter.

And of course there are builders in the house. With all the crowd and the noise, I decided to flee. Picked up Adrian’s passport; did some much-needed shopping. I thought Adrian would spend all the time looking around but instead he slept almost 2 hours.

The builders lay tiles in the laundry room so it’s been off limits today, and since that’s where our only functioning door is right now, we’ve been going in and out through the balcony. The balcony door cannot be locked or unlocked from the outside, so we’ve had to make sure that someone is in the house all the time.

Brought home a friend for Ingrid. They played on their own without even quarrelling. And the guest even ate some of our food! (“Burgers” made of mashed potatoes, peas and bell peppers.)

The builders are back, after a pause of more than a month. They started by installing (or whatever it’s called) a new window in the new bathroom, to replace an old one.

When we began the remodelling we inventoried the windows of this house. Between the 9 full-sized windows, we had 7 different sizes. They were also at different heights, even when on the same wall. Today the builders discovered that they had also been installed differently: some in line with the outside of the wall, some set back about 10 cm from the facade.

Now that they’ve replaced on the of the windows, at least the two windows on the same wall are of the same height and at the same height. On the other hand, the new window is of a completely different style and colour than all the others. So while in the long run it will all look better, in the short run it is actually getting worse.

Bought some nice clothes from the second-hand shop at Spånga torg. Most of their stuff is slightly too conservative for my taste, so I rarely venture inside. Now I saw a top + skirt from Desigual in the window, and once inside I also found a simple red velvet dress, nice and soft. Bought them all without trying, since I had Adrian in the sling, and only tried them on in the evening. Luckily all 3 fit me. I like buying 2nd hand clothing (and selling or giving away stuff I no longer wear) – it feels good to give things a 2nd life.

Watched part 2 of Band of Brothers with Eric in the evening.

New on the left, old on the right

This is a fabulous book. (I just want to have that clear up front, in case someone can’t be bothered to read the whole review.)

I read The Road a few years back and loved it. Knowing that, Eric gave me this one as a Christmas present.

The back cover blurb didn’t sound too interesting. A drug deal gone wrong, a psychopathic killer, lots of people dead, “a Western thriller with a racy plot.” Weeeellll OK, I’ll give it a try.

And after a dozen pages I was hooked. The back cover blurb is factually correct but really the plot is the least important part of this book. It’s all about the tone, the mood, the way of telling the story.

To very briefly summarize the story, Llewellyn Moss stumbles upon the remains of that drug deal gone wrong, including lots of guns, dead bodies, and cash. He takes the cash. But the owners of the money won’t let it go so easily. Soon he’s chased by a bunch of Mexicans as well as a psychopathic hit man, Anton Chigurh. He’s no pushover (having served in Vietnam as a sniper) but Chigurh is in a class of his own. After the county sheriff finds out what’s going on, he also starts looking for Moss, hoping to somehow save his life.

But the theme of the book, if I were to summarize it in a single sentence, is the erosion of America’s morals. “People don’t say Sir and Ma’am any more,” as one of the characters puts it. And that (and the killings) is what sets the tone for the book.

Aside: I know some people cannot read and enjoy books they don’t agree with – books about homosexuals, or about people with bad manners, or about men with unfashionable views on women, or whatever their gripe. I have no problem with disagreeing with a book’s message. Unlike the sheriff, I don’t mind “kids with green hair and bones through their noses”, but I like the book nevertheless.

The mood is bleak and bloody, grim. Not even halfway through the book it becomes obvious that there isn’t going to be any happy ending here. The readers should count themselves lucky to see some of the good guys survive.

McCarthy has a very pared-down writing style, with very little punctuation. There is little to separate dialogue from exposition, so they can be hard to keep apart. It’s all very sparse: “show, don’t tell” all the way, and even the showing is brief, condensed, concentrated.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the sparseness, the book is very driven and intense, and vivid, almost as if it was written as a movie script. Every scene is so clear that I can see it in front of me. I only had some difficulty with the initial scenes, because I really don’t know what a West Texan floodplain looks like, what sort of plants candelilla and catclaw might be, or what a talus is. And I wasn’t going to interrupt my reading for a visit to Wikipedia.

It all just flows perfectly. There is nothing in this book that could be done better.

Eric and I watched the movie shortly after I’d finished the book, and it complemented the book very well. (So that’s what West Texas looks like.) It’s a very faithful rendition, and an excellent movie in its own right.

Adlibris, Amazon US, Amazon UK.

PS: Actually there is one thing about the book that really could have been done better, but it’s on the outside of the book, not inside. It has a very nice typographic book cover, sepia-toned letters on black background, stylish, matches the tone of the book very well. And then… they slap a marketing quote on it. Gaah! (Read about the book cover from the guys who made it.)

Still not quite well so Adrian and I took a long nap this morning. After that the whole family went to Livrustkammaren, the Royal Armoury. There was a temporary exhibition about “Hov och tass i kunglig tjänst”, or “Hoof and Paw in Their Majesties’ Service”, about royal dogs and horses, but also princess dresses (both to look at and to try on), carriages, and other stuff that I’d normally have looked at but that Ingrid had no patience for. Then linner at restaurant Shogun, with sushi and tempura and dim sum.

Unfortunately Ingrid pretty much had a meltdown when we got home (probably too tired) and Adrian barely slept at all during the day, so the evening was not fun for anyone.

On the other hand, both kids were asleep by 8.20.

Feeling ill: coughing and sneezing and pre-feverish and really tired. Got some nice long naps together with Adrian.

Watched No Country for Old Men with Eric yesterday evening, having finished the book recently.

Something weird going on with Adrian tonight; he keeps waking and screaming and can barely sleep even in the sling.

Adrian still has some lingering tummy troubles because of the goat’s milk I had for breakfast yesterday, and a bad cough, too. Woke me at about a quarter past 5 this morning to feed, and then couldn’t fall asleep again. Both of us tired and off-balance all day. Luckily both of us got a nice long nap in the bed before lunch.

For breakfast I tried goat’s milk in my porridge to see if Adrian tolerates it any better than cow’s milk. By the afternoon it was clear that the answer is no. Bummer.

Ingrid cycled to nursery since the roads were now clear of snow and ice after several days of above-zero temperatures.

Next I went to a local playgroup (öppna förskolan) with Adrian to see if that would alleviate his boredom and crankiness. It was a great hit, just what the doctor ordered. We got there at half past 10, just as they were doing some singing. Ten, maybe 12 mums and babies sitting in a circle on mattresses and blankets on the floor. Adrian sat and stared. When the singing was done, we stayed where we were and he went on looking at the people around him. He was even happy lying on his tummy on the floor, looking at the other babies doing the same, or sitting or crawling if they were a bit older. No older kids were around, since Wednesdays are baby days. Which makes it nice and safe for the little ones. Definitely going back next week again.

In the afternoon we went to the library where I read some books for Ingrid, and borrowed a few.