Finally! The slope of weeds is now a slope of perennials.

Earlier this week I spent a couple of evenings distilling my ideas and plant lists into an actual planting plan. I’d been putting this off because it seemed hard. I don’t know much about individual plants. With many of the perennials that seemed most suitable based on my reading, I only had photos to go by – I had no picture in my head of what they actually look like or how large they grow.

I was hoping there would be a tool for this, some nice software package or web site where I enter the size of my planting area, place my plants and then see some rendering of what it might look like. But no – I found nothing of the sort.

So for the first draft I went back to my favourite low-tech tool: sticky notes. A small sticky note measures about 35 by 50 mm, which is not so far from the size of the average perennial, scaled down by 100. I drew our slope on paper, to scale, and then played around with sticky notes representing the various kinds of plants I had in mind. When I was roughly done I looked up each plant’s actual planting distance and drew a prettier and more durable version.

Today we went plant shopping, big time. And then we planted them and now it’s done! It will be very exciting to see whether this turns out anything like I imagine, and how well the plants will thrive.

Well… almost done. There were no Cimicifuga to be found at Ulriksdal, so we’ll have to find those elsewhere. We took all the Aquilegia they had (of the colour that I wanted) and a few of them were barely alive, so I might have to replace those as well.

The planting list, for the record:
Front border: Alchemilla mollis (jättedaggkåpa, pehme kortsleht).
Just behind the Alchemilla, barely visible: Aquilegia “Ruby port” (akleja, aed-kurekell).
Behind those, around the stones: Carex morrowii “Ice Dance” (japansk starr, jaapani tarn).
Behind the Carex: placeholders for the Cimicifuga (höstsilverax, lursslill)
Behind those, nearest the cellar wall: Lamprocapnos spectabilis (löjtnantshjärta, murtudsüda).
Border next to the stairs: Epimedium rubrum (röd sockblomma).
Between the Epimedium and the stones: Astilbe “Rock and Roll”.
Top edge: Hosta fortunei “Aureomarginata”(funkia).
Far corner: Hemerocallis “Frans Hals” (daglilja, päevaliilia).

Jackpot in the game of yellow car: being first to remember the parking lot of the local post office and call the five yellow cars lined up there.

Two afternoons in a row.

The anger and discontent continues. I am almost (almost) getting immune to it. But it is affecting all of us.

The day begins, literally, with Adrian angry at us for waking him. Then we go downstairs and read a story, which means complaining about the choice of book.

The breakfast is wrong, the bowl is wrong, the fact that porridge was served by Eric and not me is wrong.

Really whatever we do it’s wrong. In the morning he is angry because it’s Eric who will drop him off at daycare and not me. In the afternoon he is angry because it’s me picking him up and not Eric.

If I come by bike he’s angry; if I walk he’s angry; if he has to ride his balance bike he is angry.

If we go to the supermarket he’s angry about having to do that. If I’ve done the shopping beforehand without him, he says he wants to go to the supermarket.

He seems to be extra angry when he’s just with us, and less so when he’s with friends.

And when he isn’t angry, he whines. He seems almost incapable of expressing an opinion without whining our shouting.

My current working hypothesis is that this might perhaps be due to lack of sleep. He refuses to go to bed, and he especially refuses to go to bed with Eric, and he extra super refuses to go to bed earlier than Ingrid. So most evenings he goes to bed later than I think he really needs to. I guess we may have to simply start ignoring his opinions about this and forcefully carry him to his bed when we think it’s time.

When he isn’t angry, his favourite game is “mommy daddy baby”. Usually I am the baby and he is the daddy. My job is easy; I need to lie down and sleep in the play tent. He pretend reads books for me, brings me toys, makes me breakfast etc. “Baby, daddy will be back in just a moment!”

He is interested in who eats what. What do dogs eat? And snails? Ducks? And what about frogs? And thieves?

I wonder what or who he thinks a thief is. He knows I had my bike stolen by a thief, but I wonder what kind of picture he sees in his head when he thinks about that.

Favourite vegetable: Broccoli.
Favourite book: Sipsik.
Favourite plaything: Lengths of plastic pipe (left over from when I built bird netting frames for our planter boxes). One large cardboard box. Lego.

Yesterday the Solhem homeowners’ association had an open gardens day. There will be a countrywide open gardens day in two weeks; this is a mini version of the same thing. Ingrid and I briefly visited four gardens in our neighbourhood while Adrian was attending a birthday party.

For some reason I didn’t bring a camera. Somehow this decision seemed to make sense at the time.

The gardens were of course all very different. But afterwards I thought about what they had in common that made them interesting. What does an interesting garden have?

  • Water elements. One of them had a beautiful pond with a deep blue mosaic bottom. But even the tiniest pond and the smallest bird bath adds life. Which is an odd thing to say given that water is not alive and the most of rest of the garden is… So maybe it adds something else. Reflection?
  • Level differences. Not one of the gardens was flat, and the flat parts were generally the least interesting ones, no matter how pretty the bushes and flowers.
  • Rooms – places to discover. All of these gardens had parts that were hidden from view, not because they were on the other side of the house but because the garden had intentionally been divided into rooms.
  • Architectural, large man-made structures. A beautifully designed trellis, a stone wall, a gate or an arch, a stone path…
  • Decorations. Small sculptures, hanging decorations in trees, etc.

For some reason when I think about adding any large structure to our garden, like a trellis wall or even a stone path, I feel a resistance. The same with decorative elements like metal sculptures or glass details. It just feels wrong. But when I see them in place in others’ gardens, I invariably like them.

Ingrid finished first grade this week. The last day of school was this Wednesday. The entire school gathered in the schoolyard; kids sang and performed; the headmistress held a speech. Then Ingrid and I went to town and celebrated with a sushi lunch, ice cream, and a large Lego Friends set.

Ingrid was not entirely happy to finish first grade. She was perfectly happy about the school year ending and summer vacation beginning. But having to move up to grade 2 was not all positive, because it will involve more change than Ingrid wants. The main problem is that her class will move to a different building. This year classes 1A and FA (year 0) were in the same building, and three of her best friends from preschool are in that FA class. Now they will be further away, so they won’t be in after school care together any more. Luckily they will have the same teachers next year at least.

Ingrid is a novelty-seeker but she also wants things to stay the same. She likes doing and seeing new things, going to new places, etc. But she wants the foundation to be unchanged: home, family, school, friends.

She is open to new things but not if they replace old things. It is difficult for her to let things go, and to choose between alternatives when choosing one thing means giving up the other. When she chooses to have chocolate for dessert instead of, say, a piece of cake, she asks if we can make that cake again some other time. We say yes, of course, and that is enough – she can let it go and never asks for it again.

But choices that are final and for real are hard, like choosing between staying at home and watching a movie with Adrian, or going to the supermarket with me. Or deciding what sports she will want to do this autumn. She vacillates and hesitates and then in the end sticks to the same ones that she did this year.

Her sense of balance has matured and she no longer has her childhood tolerance for swinging and spinning. She now gets nauseous on merry-go-rounds, especially the small fast ones at playgrounds. She can still swing, but cannot read on a swing like she used to. She also cannot read in the car any more.

This meant that car rides became incredibly BOOH-RING! because sitting still and not being entertained by anything is just awfully unbearably boring. Then she remembered the game of “yellow car”, and now this keeps her really busy. And she is good at it! While my brain is busy with other thoughts (such as driving for example), she really focuses and racks up point after point.

In our version of the game we just play for points: the one to first spot a yellow car gets a point. Our rules are that only cars count (not trucks or buses). Parked cars count; however taxis don’t. There is one taxi company in Stockholm that has yellow cars and all the taxis were making the game way too easy.

Adrian occasionally joins in and shouts “blue car” or “white car” and then asks how many points he has. We usually tell him some random number and he’s happy with that.

We reset our point counts after the last rule adjustment (the addition of the taxi rule) and the score is now about 35:10. At first she spotted about two yellow cars for each one of mine, and now she’s pulling ahead at an even faster pace. My only defence is that I am thinking about other things. But really she is both better at noticing details, pays more attention to her immediate surroundings, and has faster reactions.

Her faster reactions are very apparent in Minion Rush, which is her current favourite iPad game. It’s a fun game and I’ve spent some time playing myself. I am nowhere near as fast as her. I watch her play, effortlessly navigating the obstacles at speeds that I usually don’t reach (because I crash before I get that far), and she even has brain capacity left over to talk at the same time!

She is still really polite and I hear lots of please and thank you from her every day. She tells me I am the best mum in the world, because I am so kind. Sometimes she kind of overdoes it a bit and thanks me three times for the same thing but really I don’t mind.

Words she thinks are super funny: Tuberkulos. Chihuahua. Trehundra kvart i sju. (That last one means “three hundred quarter to seven” and is something Adrian said once: he doesn’t yet understand that some measurements cannot be combined with others).

She likes knee socks and likes them pulled really taut so they absolutely do not sag even a millimetre.

You know how people say that becoming a parent has changed them, and that it has taught them new things about themselves? All sorts of life lessons, often deep and true.

It turns out that this also applies on the very lowest levels, the smallest things – such as sleep habits.

Adrian still sleeps with us. The actual position has varied – first it was me next to him, then Eric, now it’s my turn again. Most of the night Adrian is on his side and I am on mine and I don’t notice him much. But in the early hours of the morning, as he moves into lighter sleep, he wants body contact.

He likes to sleep with the soles of his feet pressed against me, for example, or even with his legs on top of me: as if he was supported from below when sitting or standing.

He also likes to put his hands inside his pyjamas, so his palms are against his neck and shoulder. Or he clasps his hands and then tucks them next to his neck.

I had never really thought about it much but I’ve noticed that I actually do kind of the same. I also like to press my feet against Eric (but not at 5 o’clock in the morning, and not against his ribs). And there is something oddly comfortable about putting my hand on my neck and shoulder when I’m sleeping on my side (or on my abdomen if I’m on my back). It’s as if an open loop was closed. I am grounded.

Ingrid is picky about the physical sensation of her sleeping arrangements. She needs everything to feel just right. She has a narrow comfort zone when it comes to temperature, for example. During the day she doesn’t care much, but at night it can take her a long while to find a good blanket solution. She tries one blanket, then the other, then the thinner one folded double… then puts her legs out, then just her feet… it’s either too warm or too cold, and needs to be adjusted until it’s right. And only then she can go to sleep.

The blanket needs to lie right as well before she can feel comfortable, and if I am holding my hand on her chest or stomach that also needs to be right: not too far up or too far down, and in the middle rather than to one side. And likewise her own arms and legs. She can’t just put them down and be comfortable – they need to be adjusted until they feel right.

Now I’m not too picky about blanket weight (I think) – my usual blanket is usually warm enough. But I do recognise this feeling of things being uncomfortable when they’re not just right. For me it comes and goes; sometimes I feel it much more strongly and then for a long time I may not notice it at all.

During a “sensitive” period I feel every wrinkle in the bedsheet, especially under my feet. It can really bother me if the blanket lies more heavily on one leg than the other, or if it touches me too lightly in some place. The blanket needs to come up to my shoulders but not touch my neck.

I grew up in an apartment and I lived in apartments all the way until we moved here to Spånga, 6 years ago. Although I did spend all the summers of my childhood at my grandmother’s sommer cottage in the country.

I knew that a house would bring all sorts of new responsibilities. All sorts of renovation projects, shovelling snow and raking leaves – no big surprises there.

One thing I wasn’t quite prepared for was the amount of death, or perhaps the closeness of it.

In an apartment one may find dead house plants, and flies and spiders, and probably nothing higher up the evolutionary tree.

Here, we have had birds kill themselves by flying into our windows. We’ve had strong circumstantial evidence (of the olfactory kind) of a dead rat/mouse and then another poisoned rat under the house. And in the past two weeks we’ve found two dead young birds in the garden.

Ingrid found the first one. She didn’t want us to just throw it in the garbage so we buried it, and planted a primrose on it grave. When we found the second one I gave it a less ceremonial burial. Now I’m thinking I should maybe mark its grave somehow after all, because otherwise I might get an unpleasant surprise if I ever try to plant something there.

I wonder how long it takes for a dead bird to be reduced to its skeleton under the ground.

I found dead birds surprisingly hard to identify. They do not look like they normally do at all. Posture is a big part of birdness. However based on their size and colouring, I guess they might have been young blackbirds – probably taken by cats.