I’m on vacation starting this week, and vacation for me means gardening. I have a long list of projects I want to do at some point. Today I focused on rejuvenating our massive lilac hedge. I’m about halfway done, and expecting sore elbows and wrists tonight from all the sawing and cutting.

I’ve also started preparing another perennial bed. The slope previously known as the slope of weeds has been such a success that I must have more. So I’m creating a bed in front of the house (section 1) right along the side of the house.

Step one is to remove the turf. The soil, as in most of the garden, is heavy clay. It is unshovelable – you need to cut it instead. Each chunk of turf has to be cut loose on all four sides, and sometimes from underneath as well. My work therefore progresses in neat rows, each just a bit narrower than the spade (about 17-18 cm.)

When I plant bushes, I also measure the planting hole in terms of spades. A standard planting hole is nine square spades, i.e. a square hole with its sides measuring three spade-widths.

Ingrid has been working, off and on, on building a miniature raft. It took several session to get the sawing done. Today we assembled the raft and tried it out in our inflatable pool. The raft got christened The White Tiger and was crewed by a brave mouse.

Adrian wanted to join in and brought out his pirate boat that I built some time ago according to his instructions. It needed an equally impressive name of course and is now known as The Black Lightning. Its crew consisted of a pirate of course, and his parrot.

And some game pieces. And some cars, so it was now a pirate car ferry.

And a troll and a lizard and a dinosaur. I’m not sure what that makes it. A floating zoo?

We took the train to town to go to our favourite ice cream place, Stockholms Glasshus. When we got there it turned out that they were not serving any ice cream at all today because they’d had a fire.

It was a hot day and we had really been looking forward to that ice cream and didn’t want to just turn around and go home, so we walked to Fryst, another good ice cream place, sort of nearby. Their ice cream was as good as Stockholms Glasshus, but maybe not quite worth the walk for the kids. By the time we were back at the train station they were pretty tired and hungry.

I had a haircut on Monday. Really short. I like the feeling of short hair, with no hair touching my neck or ears, especially in summer.

My mother doesn’t approve. She hasn’t seen this haircut yet but I already know what she will say, or at least think, because I’ve heard it before. “Why do you cut it so short? You look like a boy. I don’t like it.” She also cannot fathom my choice to not try and push my almost non-existent boobs into a more feminine shape.

My goodness how liberating it was to stop wearing a bra! And to think that I longed for one when I was a teenager and all the other girls had them and not me, because my body was a bit late to puberty.

With age (if one can talk of “age” at my age… I’m not exactly a wise old woman) I am gradually acquiring a wonderful disregard for other people’s opinions about things that do not concern them.

Today I wanted to explore these expectations of appropriate feminine appearance. I wanted to take a self-portrait that would make me look as unfeminine as possible.

What makes a woman look feminine? Softness and curves. Posing tips for portraits of women boil down to bending everything that can be bent, tilting everything that can be tilted, and shooting nothing straight on. The corollary is that for a masculine look, you accentuate the angles and the squareness.

Women are posed to look slimmer. Men are posed to look strong and confident.

Women tilt their head forward and are photographed from above, men are more likely to be posed leaning back and photographed from below.

I cheated and borrowed Eric’s cap for some of these. The baggy t-shirt is all my own though.

Not because we’ve been doing any watering. It’s been raining almost every day recently, or at least night.

Total concentration.

Adrian plays with Legos all the time. Currently his favourites are the Lego Creator sets (aimed at 6 to 12 year olds) where you can use the same blocks to make multiple models. For example the “Red creatures” set allows you to make a spider, a snake or a scorpion. He likes building the models, then playing with them, but also building other little random things. These sets have lots of fiddly pieces: oddly shaped pieces or jointed ones, and details such as teeth and claws, which seem to inspire him.

Rain. Again.

And the girl who never wore clothes with fewer than five colours, much less anything black or gray, now asked me to buy this dress.

Self-portrait with silly boy