The cottage

I don't know where to start really.

You know how you want something so bad, for years, and then all of a sudden it happens? The feeling of surrealism mixed with excitement and fear that it's all just a dream that will get ripped out of your hands by that damn mosquito flying into your ear, waking you up at 3.30 AM, AGAIN.

As you groggily slap your own face to get rid of the pest, the realization that the dream was just a figment of your brain's imagination stings just as much as your face does.

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But this seems to be real. My feet ache after walking around for hours to, from and around the cottage, my hands buzz after being used too much. My sunglasses are not at home, because I forgot them over there. Hell, I even have video proof of me ripping out a carpet. Let's hope it's MY carpet, and not someone else's.

We didn't really plan on it. We had toyed with the thought of getting a cottage somewhere rural because I have fantasized about it for so long, and because A have been thinking about it too. We were just supposed to look at old random cottages to get a basis for comparison, so we would know when we tripped over the exact right house in the right spot.

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So yeah we won’t be using that oven. I’m sure it still works, but… no.

So when this popped up on the market, we figured we'd go there. On the way over, we discussed what dealbreakers we have. Big, costly needs of acute renovations, too harshly renovated, dwelling too much in the shadows of woods, too far out into nowhere, too small of a plot, too much traffic, too modern, no electricity, no water source.

The main idea with a country house was getting away from today's connected world, being able to go somewhere and relax, connect with nature in a more natural way. Somewhere where I can hang around old things, build furniture and interior decor that doesn't fit into a modern, sellable house (like building my own kitchen counter, for example). Somewhere to experiment, take care of the old, make a fire in the old cast iron stove and be forced to slow down. The old saying, and I'm paraphrasing, "when the hands work, the mind can rest", is so true for me. A wants to build and experiment with off-grid solutions to modern problems, and while we have a house to do this at, it's just not the same.

In our house, we have warm water, electricity, WIFI, microwaves and all the common comforts of modern life. The feeling of connecting an off-grid solution here just doesn't make sense.

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Important information from 1962

So we got there and were welcomed by the sellers. Walked around with them, and then by ourselves. It's built in 1880 and from what my researched ocular inspections say, it was added-to and renovated around 1930. There's no water or drains inside but has a well outside. It has wooden stoves and a fireplace and the two kitchens from 1930 have probably lethal appliances. There is electricity. Uninsulated attic and a mess of a remade hallway. But the magic happens where the family that sold it, has been living there in succession from the start, and they've left so much old stuff. The barn is filled with random stuff that is worth zero in money, but so much for me. The attic has old furniture and table cloths and pots and pans, that one can find in any old second-hand shop. But it connects the house and the location to the people who have lived there all these years, and I think that's lovely.

Now, you're not supposed to fall in love with real estate and especially not the first one you look at, but I admit, I'm one of the people who do. One of the selling points was the massive amount of stuff they had in there, and we asked if they would leave everything they didn't want to take with them. Of course this saved them days, if not weeks, of work so they said yes. The thought of furnishing an entire house didn’t really gel with us either, it would be too much. With all the perks of this house and the absence of our dealbreakers, it tickled our fancy.

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Drawings from 1955. As personal as it gets, without diaries

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When I a little later, on our alone tour around the property, pointed at the old stone wall and without thinking about myself said "Does this belong to our cottage?", A said he knew that a bid was the table.

And here we are. Life's short, let's chance it. Let's hope we make it through life in regular with all it's obligations and can feel that the cottage provides us with a welcome breeze of calm and old-time renovations that fuels the mind and heart. Wish us luck. We're probably gonna need it.

And also, I'm asking for forgiveness from you guys that are not at all interested in old houses and old stuff, because... yeah you know that's it's gonna be a lot of that from now on.

Okay so I obviously broke Bloglovin.

Yeah ya know, I thought it worked at first. But then I realized that it really didn’t. So I’ve changed things back a little. Just a little. So you guys who read this through Bloglovin ACTUALLY GETS IT. While it was all broken, I posted these babies. In case you’ve missed them. They’re great. It’s old things galore!

Gol stave church

SO BEAUTIFUL DANGIT

I’m a pro-crastinator

An excuse to post food photos

A magical museum in Norway

We celebrated Midsummer’s Eve


Midsummer's Eve 2019

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Looking a little worse for wear the day after, but hey. Still beautiful!

Having been brainwashed by the traditional Midsummer celebrations in Dalarna during my upbringing, this year I kind of missed all that jazz. The decoration of the Maypole, the dancing, the schnappsing (I didn't do this in my youth, just to make it clear), the cabin hanging and the BBQing and most importantly, the new potatoes! The classic Swedish Midsummer celebrations are not quite as unsettling as that new horror movie Midsommar wants to make it out, as the biggest threats to one's person are flying blood-sucking terrors by the hundreds and getting rogue pieces of wood tossed at you by sloshed participants in the classic game of "kubb". Oh, and the Chinese water torture that in this country goes by the epithet "rain" that most Midsummer Eve's have to withstand.

After a short session of getting my plans enabled by my dear partner in crime and household, I invited all the peeps. In the end, around 25 people came and celebrated with us. And, as usual, I ran around doing stuff and trying to be a hostess and then suddenly, the day had turned into night and the last guests left in a taxi. Someday, I'm gonna learn how to plan better so I can hang out more with my friends when having heaps of them over. Someday...

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Kubb, the epitome of “use what we’ve got”, aka throw pieces of wood at other pieces of wood.

But the weather was beautiful and sunny for once, and just windy enough to help keep the mosquitoes at bay. We ate, schnappsed, laughed, talked, threw sticks at each other, played traditional Swedish music. We decorated a wonderful Maypole with scraps from our yard, heaps of daisies and pieces from a thuja we're taking down when we find the energy. You take what you have, ya know? It was a lovely way to celebrate and at least three people have already said “Next year…” as if we’ve started a new tradition. Well, I don’t mind!

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The plundering of the daisy field in our backyard didn’t even cause a dent in it.

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“Pfff, see if we care!”

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Done! Beautiful!

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The inauguration of the pole by “troll dancing” and stomping around. Yeah, I don’t know either, but it was great!

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The thoughtful club

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A little schnapps, yes!

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Mingles

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Ponderings and the obvious signs of a party having taken place. Also, a heap of old wood and trash that we have to cart away to the recycling yard. It’s in half of the pictures. #neverforgetthemess

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The Norwegian folk museum

You know what? I am, for once, choosing to refrain from being long-winded. I just don’t really have any words that can compete with the … yeah. The Norwegian Folk Museum speaks for itself, even though I could write pages and pages about how wonderful it is. Because it is. Visit it, and stare at a thousand years of Norwegian culture, collected and curated to show the finest that people have made throughout the years.

We spent five hours just walking around looking at the stave church, the old houses (one from the 12th century!), art and curious things from everyday life. Now, let's get into things so beautiful, it makes me want to cry.

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What I've eaten lately

Yeah, so I needed an excuse to post images of food because I like posting pictures of food even though I'm in no way unique nor really creative or even cook very much, and... well I'm doing it okay? Okay! Good!

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If you love garlic and haven’t tried grilling and smoking garlic in a little olive oil on the BBQ, DO IT NOW. I’ll wait. SO good.

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We tried the white version of our favourite bubbly, Haute Couture rosé. The blanc is meh. The pink is so good, and apparently suits a surprising amount of people’s tastes (source: Going around offering it to 40 people and most gladly accepted refills)!

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BBQ with halloumi and fancy sea salt in a little ceramic pot my mom made in 1972 crowns the food table.

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I tried out my chocolate molds while I made whole coffee beans covered in 70% dark chocolate for the person in the household that doesn’t bathe in cold brew every day, aka my partner. They’re quite nice but leave a serious coffee breath, beware!

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I also made my favourite… bun… cake? Swedish buttercake. It’s like seriously moist cinnamon rolls with cardamom, filled with vanilla cream. Recipe here, in Swedish. I’m sure you can translate it if it tickles your fancy.

Considering how much I love eating, I should cook more. Maybe I should cook more. Hmm.

The Pro-crastinator.

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I am not a writer. So if I'm not a writer, I can't be besieged by writer's block, right? Well, how come I am then, Mr. Semantics?!

All these post ideas, all this time, and no words.

I mean I COULD just write posts that are really straight forward and to the point, but that's no fun. I want to make up words and write sentences that are "too long". I want to tumble down the linguistical grassy knolls with a witty lover and get myself private bits-deep into the ugly synonym swamps of the West Germanic heritage. I seek to subdue the lingua franca and inherit the world in a language that is not my native one, and I want to carry on the storytelling legacy by reciting my own measly life adventures in a way that evokes joy, emotions and preferably, a little laughter here and there.

So, you know. No pressure.

Side note, I'm this far into this post and Grammarly is already shouting at me to change eight "writing issues", of which nature's I cannot see until I pay them 123 dollars upfront, or 30 dollars a month. I, on my individual vocabulary quest, should, of course, accept this terminological teacher's hand on my shoulder, but I will not! Because I'm crazy and puzzling in my life choices! Hee!

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Is this were I start caring about what Grammarly is trying to tell me? Naw! Another day!

Back to my main objective - blogging about blogging. I hear it's a lucrative business. What? So this kind of blogging about blogging ISN'T the lucrative kind? Oh well, just like the ways I do everything then; unpaid, unwanted, and just good enough for me because I made it.

And you know what? There's nothing wrong with living life that way as long as it makes you happy!

BUT! Back to my main objective once again. I procrastinate, I collect ideas and roll around haunted by mosquitoes in the grass to get that good snapshot of what an absolute trainwreck the old neglected vegetable patch in the garden is now compared to the mowed lawn.
Then I go inside again, patch up my wounds and... you know, do anything else than write. For days. Because writing is hard. And then, suddenly, I realise I haven't posted in two weeks. Again! Dangit! I am going to blame it on the complex nature of man and our kind's approach to deadlines, aka, "my humanity makes me procrastinate!".

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Trainwreck. But the bumblebees love it, so win!

- 40 minutes of silence-

Okay, so I'm back. I took the time to read up on procrastination, snapped a few photos, got myself cookies, cleaned the kitchen counters and googled redcurrant recipes instead of writing. What were we talking about? Oh, right, procrastination...


As Monty Python says; GET ON WITH IT!

What I am trying to say is that I need to get my writing shit together. Just do it, just like I am right now. Because it's fun, and doing fun things makes your life better. So writing should make my life better. Why am I avoiding it then? Now is the time you say; "Just like you're avoiding dealing with your eating habits, your health issues, your come-and-go depression, your childhood traumas and painting that dang kitchen because you know that when you've done that, you have to work on the curtains and that's going to be a bitch in the kitchen?".

I mean, you didn't have to get so SERIOUS... but... yeah. All of the above.

The point of this post isn't really to promise you or me anything in particular. It's just what I happened to think about today. And a post came out of it! It just happened!

Have I cured it?! Have I?!

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Gol stave church, Norway

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Gol stave church crowns a hill on Bygdöy just outside of Oslo, Norway. It was moved into the area that is the Norwegian Folke Museum in 1881, from its original location at Gol, Hallingdal in Norway. The locals in Gol wanted a new, fresher and fancier church and so they built a new one and gave their old one away. I'm... not gonna judge.

Ahem.

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The building has undergone renovations and reconstructions during the years that have passed, but the oldest timbers in the church are dendrochronologically dated to the ample years of 1157 and 1214-1215 and it is believed that the church was built around time due to stylistic conformity. When the church was reassembled at Bydgöy, they looked over the parts and tried to restore it to what they believed was the original 13th-century style.

The paintings in the chancel are originals from 1652 and some other parts have been restored after examples from other stave churches, like Borgund and Hopperstad stave churches.

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I don't know about you, but I love these things. There are 28 stave churches left in Norway and I want to see them all. Every one of them. I've always wanted to visit Norway to cruise around and stare stupidly at nature and old things, and now I've gotten at least a little taste of what our neighbouring country has to offer.

The ambiance in the room when all the other tourists cleared out was stunning. The light seeping in through the narrow doors, accenting the warmth in the wooden interior with its elaborate carvings. The solid walls silencing the outside sound of people moving about. Your gaze is drawn along the pillars and upwards, to find new details and decorations as you let yourself be swept away in their intricacy.

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Enormous power statements like cathedrals and churches, stretching vaults set in stone, golden chandeliers towering above you as you walk silently along the aisles yields a special feeling, but lingering in this space is resonating much more with me.

The worn floor has been trampled by tourists for 140 years, but you can still feel the everyday Christian visitor from eras long lost. Almost nine hundred years ago they built this very church, in a time that blends together with the Viking age, in a time that was so very different from the world we live in today.

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Re-vamping the blog?

You know how you have a blog and everything works and you’re kind of pleased and stuff is running along smoothly? Yes? And then you know how you in the instant everything works, you’re kind of pleased and everything’s running smoothly and you therefore cannot help but decide to REARRANGE ERRYTHANG! Yes? Not just me? Oh, good!  

Because... that’s probably what’s gonna happen. We’ll see where this madness takes us!  

If you get weird updates and posts posted that suddenly disappear and everything looks different every time you step in here, it’s all good. It’s just me being crazy. Because ya know, status quo IS FOR SUCKERS!  

I’ll let you know if I’m done changing things up and become pleased again, so you can yell at me for destroying everything you liked and replaced it with terrible fire-breathing dragons of the internet-version of a blog. If I do so, feel free to mention so in the comments.  

Is there anything specific that you LIKE about this blog, that you want to inform me about, that I really should keep? I’m thinking a little magazine-style-somethin' somethin’, and yeah, I’m not sure it’s a good idea but if I don’t try it, I’ll never know, right!

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Elder @ Slaktkyrkan, or a 107 minute long mind journey

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When Elder played in Stockholm a little over a year ago, I was somewhere in the country, pouting. The memory flees me, but most likely I attended school some 500 kilometers north of where I live, and 700 kilometers north of where the gig took place. I mean, I’m up for train-related challenges sometimes but the logistics of the whole affair made it far more difficult, if not impossible, to fuse the gig and the mandatory lectures into a successful scheme that would have been worth the money and effort spent. I missed out that time.

So when they announced they were returning to the exact same place (a place often used for alternative music aptly called ”The Slaughter Church”) a year later, I was all over that feeding hand like a hungry, angry chihuahua with no boundaries. Dork, the biggest lover of Elder that I keep in close quarters, and I searched for other participants but failed to find any. We booked two tickets for ourselves and that was that.

When the fair Wednesday came along, Dork picked me up. Both of us tired, beat and sort of not really regretting our decision but already imagining the suffering that would ensue the day after the gig, we set out for Stockholm. When one reaches the sweet age of 30+, one's old-time crazy schedules of doing whatever one wants to do in spite of having to get up early the next day has been exchanged for a softer, more pliable lifestyle that adjusts to how much, or little, energy one has. This said, planning for months to come home at 1.30 AM on a Wednesday night before starting work at 8 AM the next day, is a high baller shot collar-sort of situation. It all lends to the whole ordeal to only take place when it’s absolutely, definitely, assuredly, worth it.

And Elder is absolutely, definitely, assuredly, worth it.

The hipsters though?

Sitting through and low-key enjoying the supporting acts Dun Ringill and Vokonis, something had been nestling itself into my brain. I looked around. Suddenly I saw it so clearly that I didn’t understand how I could have missed it the previous hours. The audience consisted of hipsters. All kinds of them. Being a metalhead, I mostly attend gigs that have a large gathering of black-clothed, Converse-sporting merch-wearing and sometimes patched-vest-adorned dudes with a tendency to use the devil’s horns too often. This time, it was different. Dudes wearing backpacks, folded-up chinos, white T-shirts with vivid print and hats loitered and sipped on beers, pulling their noisily patterned socks up so they would show above the lining of their shoes. I nudged Dork.

”Aren’t there a LOT of hipsters here?”

"I’ve thought about that too.”

Then it hit me.

”… Are metalheads morphing into hipsters as they grow older??”

Dork looked at me.

”Maybe!”

We silently watched the hipsters mingle around under the high, white vaults. Their straw hats lit from above by the skylight, their fashionable wooden wristwatches sparkling as the red stage lights swooped past the crowd. I couldn’t make light of all this because it was almost time for Elder to walk on stage, but I am not done with my inquiries. It’s a mystery for another time.

Sidenote

Before the gig started, I had to use the bathroom. I ended up in line behind a couple, closely resembling the two founding, and only, members of the Gender Equality Society in New Girl, aka a dorky Jessica Day and a dorky dude, both being a lot closer to prom night age than my own crypt keeper stance in life. Also hipsters. I don’t want to judge characters based off of appearances, but I wasn’t surprised later on when they didn’t last the entire gig and retreated to a sitting-really-close-to-each-other-holding-hands-position in the back of the room instead. Ah, young love. At least they didn’t make out right in front of me the entire show like that equally young couple did on the Nightwish gig on Metaltown 2008. #canneverforgetthesoundsofslobberingteens

Another high point apart from the performance of the band that I clearly digress from, was the bouncy dude holding a pint, happily skipping nearer the stage through the crowd while expertly avoiding bumping into anyone like the ex-leper in Life of Brian.

On to the frickin’ point

The band got on stage and after a short hello, we were lulled into their psychedelic stoner rock with progressive tendencies. Accompanied by a colourful, psychedelic pulsing background screening that fit the songs perfectly, I, sober, experienced the closest I’ve been to a drug-induced cartoon montage of how it feels to lift off of the ground and be carried into an alternate realm with random stuff like cans of beans or grandma flying past. The mood and lowered speed of their music really resonates with me and creates a calming, healing atmosphere for this always cluttered brain to rest in, guitars luring me to follow their every whim*. With the bright lights, the not so crowded room we were in (meaning no one’s bumping into me) and the music created a 107 minute long therapy session with time flying right by like it was that hint of sunshine on an otherwise rainy day. I got to hear two of my favourite songs from their second last album, the masterpiece called Reflections of a Floating World. I broke out of my spell a little just to sing along to Sanctuary, silently wording ”station wagon” to myself because it's funnier and it sort of sounds like that’s what he’s saying.

Nearing midnight after the gig and the mandatory encore, we strolled out into the comfortable May evening after Dork got some merch and their new record on vinyl, and got in the car for the almost two-hour long drive home.

*I’m not a music reviewer, can you tell?

Cue a scrappy clip that does the band no justice

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You carry so much grief, he said

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And I do. I just don't know how not to.

Some of you know it all. You heard the whole story as my world was coming down around me. For you who haven't been around that long; it feels weird to list stuff because it's like I'm fishing for sympathy, and I don't feel like someone to feel sorry for.

This evening I walked around in my garden. The green grass tickled my feet, butterflies flapped around the violets in the golden light. I smelled the apple blossom and watched the bees buzz around its crown in the setting sun. I'm so fucking lucky. Just a few hours ago I got to spend some time with my dad. I live in a beautiful little house with a wonderful man and two great kids. I have so many friends and family that I cherish. Wonderful people that have given me so much, welcoming me back with open arms after being gone for so long.

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But the wounds stay open, and I don't know how to close them back up again.

I spend late nights searching for information, trying to get clues on where to go from here. How to handle grief in a constructive way. Most of the articles I find are about how to forgive someone. They tell me how to write letters asking for forgiveness, but I have no one to apologize to. They tell me how to write a letter to those who cannot beg for forgiveness, but I have no one to pardon. No one was at fault for what happened during those years. It just happened. It was nature, chaos, entropy. No one is to blame, no one to address liberating letters to, no one to turn my back to before I enter the path of salvation. How do I find relief from something that was entirely beyond my control?

I've tried finding comfort in just that; that I could do nothing to spare myself from the sorrow, but it's been fruitless. I still feel the burden on my shoulders. I'm stuck.

It hasn't stopped me from living life. Far from it. The last three years have been a flurry of positive experiences and wonderful events, side by side with the darker sides of life. I go all in but keep a little distance at the same time to protect myself from further suffering, and that's not what I want. I'm afraid of being dependent on someone else. I'm afraid of getting sucked up into another person's world, a world that I would have to abandon in case of a separation, just like four years ago. To make friends that I would lose, just like I did four years ago. To love something so deeply and then lose it again. I could have tried to regain my footing where I had loved living for six years, but I would have been forced to sell my home either way. In hindsight, I made the right decision by leaving.

While there's no regret in moving back home, it's harshly bittersweet having left such a big part of my heart among the open fields, 400 kilometers from where I now sit in a chair across from the man I love. It pains me that my heart irreversibly lies in a place that I will never again call home. That the whole process of losing my home, my planned future, my marriage, and my job intermingles with the loss of my mom just after I moved back home. It's a mess, sincere gratitude mixed with deep sorrow. Confusing and hard to deal with.

We went back there a few weeks ago, for Easter. A friend of mine is currently living just a few kilometers from my beloved ex-house, so we took the opportunity to drive around and visit my favourite historical sites that A wanted to see for himself. I didn't tell anyone I was visiting because, honestly, I didn't know how I would handle being back. I wasn't ready to see anyone that I held dear. Almost four years ago, I just upped and left. I never said goodbye to my co-workers (I was on sick leave due to chronic pain when my ex and I split up and I realized I wouldn't be returning to work), and never hugged my friends that last time. It hurt a lot to see my old home again and traveling the same old roads, there's no need in hiding that. I didn't cry as much as I thought I would, and it was sort of nice to see the old haunts again, but I didn't find relief afterward. The pain persists.

I'm almost ashamed to talk about my grief, having received so much love throughout the years since I moved back home as if I'm an ungrateful failure that can't just let the past be the past and move on. But when I look back on what I've gone through with factual eyes, I don't feel like a failure. I've been supported by my close ones, but I have fought on under my own steam. In just a few years I experienced some of life's most painful events, and I still stand even if my knees are buckling sometimes. Maybe I should be proud, but I'm not.

I can't put my finger on what I'm stuck on. It's like stasis. I'm so incredibly happy for everything I've been gifted but still carrying a thinly veiled sadness. Like living in my home town again is just a reminder of what I've lost instead of it being a new start, even though I'm so grateful for it all. All of it has been so acutely apparent in all aspects of my life, making me feel like I am my loss, not just the one having experienced it.

Maybe writing this post is a sign that I'm going in the right direction. A hint that I've grown tired of the grief, and that I'm ready to move on. Let’s hope it’s that way. I just don't know how to.