Friday, September 15, 2006

Our Girl

... is a very, very, very weird girl. In the car on the way to Sweden, she got to thinking about Harry Potter. She says his uncle and aunt should be named Vermin and Clunia (which is an Asian clown, according to her). Perhaps.

She is a bit paranoid these days about bees and wasps, not because *I* was stung by one, but because she thinks she herself has been “pinched” or “bitten” by one a couple of times now. I haven’t noticed any giant red boils on her anywhere, so I doubt it. A few days ago she managed to use a Pringles can to catch a wasp that was in her room. I told her to put it on the balcony, and I would let it out later after it had calmed down (not wanting another sting myself). Except I forgot. The next day there was a slightly dead wasp in the Pringles can. Despite her fear of living wasps, she felt nothing but pity for the dead one. Hence the wasp grave on our balcony.

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Sometimes I feel like I just can’t win with Hannah. In the course of cleaning her room (which is finally done, thank the seven dwarves), Hannah has been reintroduced to the large number and variety of her toys. She dug right into the Polly Pockets and came up with new and glamorous sartorial choices for those little blobs of plastic and rubber. She held one of her concoctions up and asked what I thought. “Pretty.” She thought Polly looked more like a homeless child.

John has been reading Hannah The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at bedtime. I think Zaphod Beeblebrox is her favorite character. Every time some alien shows up unannounced, which happens fairly often, she says, “Zaphod Beeblebrox?” before he can finish the sentence. This may explain a lot about her in the future.

Cookie Cookie Cookie Starts with C

I think I poked fun at the tea-set-shaped cookie cutters before, but I bought them anyway.

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To complement them, zoo animals, including a lion, a hippo, a moose, a camel, an elephant, and a giraffe. We only realized we were out of powdered sugar for glaze when the second batch was already in the oven, so we had to make do with some disturbingly shiny sprinkles.

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Speaking of moose, there were signs on all the roads in southern Sweden to watch out for moose. I am kicking myself that I didn't get a photo, but they are all over the Internet. Anyhoo, rather than read my rather boring book on the drive home, I stared into the woods, trying to spot a moose. At one point, I saw an animal that was noticeably smaller than a moose, but I thought it might be a baby moose and was starting to get excited. Until I realized that it was a dark grey standard poodle. Accompanying its owner, who was wearing hunting gear. A poodle as a hunting dog??? Swedes are weird.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I Love My Husband

... except when I want to throttle him. This morning I cleaned the kitchen--vacuumed and mopped, and scrubbed the fronts of all the cabinets. I don't know what he was off doing, but it didn't make it onto his radar. After Hannah and I had made cookies this afternoon, I was lamenting the state of my freshly mopped floor.

John: "You mopped this morning?"
Me: "Yes."
John: "I was wishing the floor would get mopped."
Me: bust out laughing

He's lucky I have the sense of humor I do, or he would have been dead meat. I guess my response offset my super-bitchy attitude this morning. I don't do mornings, and John was being all chipper and awake, and he expected me to be the same, and that just chapped my ass.

I have a paper to write by the end of the month--procrastination, thy name is Nee--but I have been too busy to work on it much. I have been engaged in the domestic equivalent of putting a pillow over my head and humming loudly. I've been quilting, balancing our bank account, going to the library, cleaning--oh dear dwarfs, Hannah's room was on the verge of being condemned; I found a half-eaten marshmallow cookie while cleaning in there. Hannah has been fussed at quite a bit today, and she has commanded me to report that she called herself a pile of doo-doo. I only told her that she was just getting herself deeper into the doo-doo with her bad attitude and poor hygiene, not that she actually *was* doo-doo. Just want everyone to be clear on that.

I've been kicking around on one of my short stories, with a little success, but I doubt it will be in form to send to any editors before school starts in about a month. Maybe I will have a flash of inspiration, but it is more likely to be a flash of annoyance.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Rest of the (Vacation) Story

Even though I’ve been humming The 12 Days of Christmas since the first day of our vacation, I don’t think I’m going to make it through all 11 Days of Vacation, so here is the run-down of what’s left.

On day 4, we toured an old copper mine (which was colder than a well-digger’s butt). John and Hannah panned for gold afterward and came up with about 9 flakes total. Hannah had been expecting the amounts to come in clump-size, but she didn’t seem too disappointed with her take.

On day 5, we stayed close to the cottage. In the morning, we went for a very chilly row around the lake. I let John do all the rowing, because that’s the kind of wife I am. Then he and Hannah took a dip in the lake while I went to work on the laundry. Of course Hannah caught a bad cold, but it only lasted a couple of days. Later, Hannah and John played in the yard, using the clothes I had put out on the line as a mid-line for various throwing games (frisbee, some balls they found in the storeroom). In the afternoon we took a long, muddy walk.
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On day 6, we drove into Vetlanda (the closest town and the county seat, about 10 miles from our cottage) to get more groceries and shop for books and videos and a new fall jacket for Hannah. I think Hannah finally figured out how to use the cable receiver in the cottage on this day, so we got a healthy dose of tv, too.
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On day 7, we drove to Astrid Lindgren’s World in Vimmerby. It was so charming. Imagine: a theme park based on books. There were no rides, just settings based on AL’s stories. Different shows were performed with characters from the stories, and most of the ones we saw were fairly interactive, getting kids to come up on the set and participate. On the way home, we stopped at a village that was the basis for the setting of The Children of Noisy Village. We’re almost positive it was used in the movie version as well.
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We also stopped at the wooden town of Eksjö. John was much more excited to be there than we were.

On day 8, we hung around the cottage some more. We went down to the lake, and Hannah tried her hand at fishing for the first time. We cooked wieners over a campfire, then John and Hannah got in the boat to fish some more. I think they had a good time, but Hannah was so tired when they got back that she had a bit of a meltdown when it was time to throw back the two small fish they had caught.
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On day 9, we visited a few things that lay on the road between our cottage and Vetlanda (a rune stone, a ruined fortress), then we ran a few errands before heading back to start cleaning (since we were leaving first thing the next morning). John took off for a few hours to visit a nearby village where some of his ancestors emigrated from, but Hannah wanted to veg out and not visit any more old places, and I like to pack in peace, so the two of us stayed home.
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On day 10, we headed out for Denmark. I think we made 3 “detours” on the way, so I was a bit tired and cranky by the time we got to our room for the night. John felt that if we were going to “be in the neighborhood”, we ought to see the historical sites in the area. Unfortunately, northern Europe has a 2000-year-old history, so you can’t spit without hitting a historical site of some sort around here. Even worse, something may have happened there, but there is not necessarily any mark left of it; or the event is legendary, and the site is only a best guess based on the information in the legend. John really gets off to all that, but it tends to make me cranky-pants. I want to see the real thing, not a reproduction or a guess.

While looking for one such reproduction, we found ourselves in the middle of a hail storm. And if we had had an umbrella with us, John would have tried to leave the car to get up close to the site. In-sane!

The Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, was pretty cool. Even Hannah enjoyed herself for the most part, except that we couldn’t buy her an ice cream because we hadn’t found an ATM yet.
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On day 11, we hit Legoland. Hannah totally dug the rides, none of which were especially scary or large. John and I liked the models: different European cities and famous buildings made out of Legos.
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On day 12, we drove home. It only took us about 2 hours to drive across half the length of Denmark, but then we stopped in Germany to visit another Viking museum. That was a 4-hour stop-over. In theory everything was interesting, but John was in full read-every-placard mode, and Hannah’s and my cup of patience was not exactly overflowing. As Hannah said, her favorite place in the world is our town, our village, our house, her bed, and she wanted to get there as quickly as possible. We made it home at 10 pm that night.

In the meanwhile, we have been recuperating and gearing up for Hannah to start back to school in a week.