Midsummer at the cabin

The first thing to greet us as we approached our middle-of-the-forest paradise was a startled reindeer that obligingly ran alongside the car so I could document it.

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The second welcome came from the wealth of buttercups that dotted the entire lawn.

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The first day was lovely and bright, the kind of day when the sky is white and endless.

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On my walk, I was accompanied by a fearless butterfly that fluttered along in front of me and landed to let me snap dozens of closeups. Look how the light filters through those gossamer wings.

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And look at its tiny, furry face! How often do we pay attention to the faces of butterflies? We’re too seduced by their colourful wings.

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In this one it looks like it’s stumbling home after a night on the town!

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The lingonberry bushes were flowering.

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Back at the cabin, we made a miniature maypole in the garden.

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Dinner was served on the fire. 🙂

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The buttercups glowed in the light of a torch.

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And afterwards I went up to where the forest used to be and watched the clouds blush at the setting sun.

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And somewhere here, among the fallen trees and under the dramatic sky, I lost my battery charger, so the rest of the weekend went undocumented. Maybe it was for the best. It rained the entire time and I needed some rest – the kind of rest I call non-days, that is days when time passes from your first coffeecup to your final glass of wine without even touching you; when you somnambulate through the afternoon like a ghost through the grey gauze separating us from eternity; when there’s just a big Nothing where you usually live your life.

Sometimes I resent these days, because I like to pretend that I can live two lives at once, at the speed of light. But after a period of high activity, I always find myself in these empty slumps, as if they’re the price I must pay for living too much, for hoarding time and experiences. It’s a balance sheet, and I never get away with too much greed – or too much work. I guess it’s my body’s way of making sure I don’t exceed my ‘income’.

And today I took the bus into town to buy a new charger. It’s as symbolic as it gets. 🙂

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Just a few more lilacs

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There’s a Swedish saying – “between hawthorn and lilacs” – which means a really, really short time. Legend has it that a Stockholm cobbler put a sign on his door that his shop was closed between hawthorn and lilacs – maybe to enjoy this brief but heavenly time of changes and delicate foliage just before summer settles like a green and sleepy giant.

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It’s such a transient beauty, and maybe that’s part of the charm. The lilacs explode on the trees in white and pale purple, and then wilt within days. But while they flower, nothing smells more divine. Well, apart from the man in the pic below. 🙂

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Strings in sunlight

Tonight hubby had his final guitar lesson for the semester with his group of new learners, and my presence was kindly tolerated. 🙂 We grilled sausages in a hut built in traditional Sami style (grillkåta) and played and sang together in between bites.

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It’s always fun to see hubby in teaching mode. He really was born to do this – and I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse! In any case, he’s really good at making people sort of perform at a higher level than they really should be able to – to create circumstances and show the exact things they need to immediately apply brand new knowledge in relevant and inspiring exercises. They get to feel that they can do things instead of staying at a very basic level and rehashing the same old stuff again and again. I don’t know, it’s hard to describe, but I really admire his ability to bring out the best in people.

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It was such a lovely evening – windy but sunny – and the hut we sat in was cozy and warm with a fire in the middle and benches covered in reindeer pelts.

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The glamorous life of a musician

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“I wish I was a musician. It’s such a glamorous, romantic life…”

Or is it? Let’s have a look at a day in the life.

6.30 am: Drive to the guy who owns the band van

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7.15 am: Load stuff and leave for the venue

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8.30 – 10-00 am: set up the equipment and test the sound

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10.00 – 11.00 am: Wait

11.00 – 11.45: Play (note that the actual gig starts four and a half hours after we left home)

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11.45 – 1.00 pm: Wait, possibly buy a hamburger

1.00 – 1.45 pm: Play again

1.45 – 2.15: Wait

2.45 – 3.00 pm: Play one last time

3.00 – 5.30 pm: Load all the stuff in the van again and drive home.

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And that’s a daytime gig – imagine if all this happened at night. Because of course musicians always work when other people are free, just like cooks and cinema operators.

And all this doesn’t even take into account the hours and hours of rehearsing, or the money you spend on petrol, strings, pedals, speakers, lights, and other equipment. It’s like Michael says in the fourth book about Pax, Cutting Edge:

Sometimes he wanted to explain to people how much work went into a gig, that it wasn’t something you just pulled out of your sleeve, but that was the one thing he could never do. The whole point was that it had to look easy. If it didn’t, no one would be seduced by it. After all, who wanted their entertainment to look like hard work?

Floored again

Yesterday I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do for about a year: laid a floor on the landing outside one of our front doors (long story, don’t ask). It’s been an eyesore – ugly plastic carpet with paint stains – but now I suddenly had the energy to do something about it.

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About a year ago, I started on this tiny space by painting the frankly revolting wall green, but I never got any further. The floor is only three metres square, but it’s still a proper project, you know? You still have to drag out all the STUFF and you have to THINK and DO THE THINGS and you’re working in ergonomically horrible positions and it takes time.

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But I’m a firm believer in waiting until your natural instinct – your body – tells you to go ahead instead of working against your energies. So this time, even though I should have been scraping the facade, my instinct guided me to lay floors instead. And because I obeyed that hunch, it went splendidly. 🙂

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And the SATISFACTION. So worth it.

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Small and unassuming

This post and the links in it contain advertisements for my book.

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I turn to see Henrik smiling at something on the ground. I walk over and peer down at the carpet of tiny white petals. “Ah, the arctic starflower.”

“Chickweed wintergreen,” he playfully corrects me.

“I prefer the arctic starflower. It sounds so….” I gesture vaguely. “Mysterious,” I settle for, but it sounds so ridiculous that I blush. It makes Henrik laugh, but it’s not a mean laugh. It sounds knowing. As if, once again, we share something.

“Yeah, it’s supposed to be seen in twilight, isn’t it?” he says.

I squirm. “Perhaps. It’s just… it’s such a small and unassuming flower. You can walk right past it and not even notice.”

Henrik raises an eyebrow that looks disconcertingly flirty. “Is that a metaphor?”

I give him a look. “You think I’m small and unassuming?”

His gaze flickers down to my belt and then back up. “Well, you do kind of apologize for existing.”

(The Seventh Flower by Ingela Bohm)

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Christer isSeventhFlower[The]FS_v1 too old to believe in fairy tales. He’s not the kind of guy to pick the proverbial seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve so he can dream of who he will marry, and he certainly isn’t the type to fall for someone he’s just met. Especially not a womanizing blogger named Henrik.

Besides, Christer’s previous marriage didn’t end with a happily ever after. Therefore, he has no interest in gifting his heart to someone who lives five hundred miles away and probably isn’t even gay. His family is right: it’s time he grew up and stopped dreaming.

But Midsummer’s Eve in Sweden is a magical night, and Henrik won’t stop flirting. As the midnight sun shines down on the misty woods, maybe there’s room for one last dream.

Available at Dreamspinner and Amazon

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