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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stress, sunshine and spelling. And cows.

I have been a bit quiet on the blog-front lately. I’ve been dealing with stuff that, for various reasons, is hard to write about. My dad and my (adult) sister have had a spectacular falling-out. I’ve had some unnecessarily ugly arguments with my husband. If I had the courage of Eden Riley it would all be documented here in brutally, eloquently honest detail, but I can’t quite bring myself to do it, to write with gritty honesty about this highly personal and compellingly sordid stuff.

Instead, let me divulge my newest time-wasting pursuit. I found this brilliant OED spelling quiz thanks to More Than A Mum, and nerd that I am, I'm addicted. All you word-nerds out there must try level “Fiendish”. I am ashamed to admit that not once have I managed to score a perfect 15/15, thanks to words like “shibboleth” and “pyrrhic” and “peccadillo” (and also words I thought I could actually spell, like “impugn”, “scurrilous”, “bulwark” and “querulous”. Sheesh.)

Try it. It’s highly addictive.

Meanwhile, though big disquieting waves have been rolling through parts of my life, making me anxious and fretful at times, on other fronts all has been quiet and peaceful and normal. My girls and I have spent lots of time outside in the warm sunshine, which we’ve soaked up greedily after months of cold, cloudy days. We savoured the first strawberries of the season, and ate our first stickily-dripping popsicles. Inspired by Mister Maker, we made fabulous shaggy birds out of paper plates. I learned the surprisingly-useful passive form in Finnish class. And out of the blue, Big Sister announced that when she grew up to be a famous singer and dancer and had her own tv show starring herself, she would perform “Rock Star” by Pink because “I sound just like her when I sing it!”

[Gotta love her overwhelming self-assurance, but in all honesty am not sure the Idols judges would use those exact words.]

The week ended on a philosophical note, with Little Sister’s thoughts on the afterlife.

Our home is not far from Helsinki’s Hietaniemi Cemetery. My girls and I have walked past it many times, and lately Little Sister (who is three) has been suddenly curious about its mysterious rows of headstones. Last week I tried to explain the basics about graves and their contents, in what I hoped were accurate yet understandable terms that wouldn't freak her out too much.

Little Sister digested this information, and mentally added a few extra details. The other night at the dinner table, she summarized her current thinking for us:

"We fall in the ground when we are dead. We fall into the big rocks. That's called a graveyard. And once we're dead, the cows will clap."

And so, in summary, my week has featured: stress, spelling, sunshine, strawberries, and soaring ambition. And bovine applause.

14 comments:

  1. How did she get to cows clapping?! Did you go down the 'goes into the earth, helps the grass grow' route? I feel a little put out at the thought of cows dancing on my grave lol, some people I expect it from but I always considered the cows to be my friends, I feel slightly less guilty about a BBQ burger now!!

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    1. It is a complete mystery to me where she got the cows from. In my What Happens When We Die explanation I didn't venture into "corpses fertilizing the earth" territory, and although one sees some weird shit at times in Helsinki, I'm fairly certain that cows have never been seen grazing among the Hietaniemi headstones...

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  2. Oh dear, I won't even dare go to that spelling site. Goodbye all work. Maybe next week when I'm done teaching and have a long summer ahead of me! :D

    Oh children. They are the best when it comes to getting perspective for life!

    I am sorry to hear about all the trouble. Especially family relations that you aren't directly involved but still hurt you are horrible. I hope all of it works out. I find it very hard to write publicly about very personal things as well. I actually don't have a problem when it comes to myself, but I always fear someone else involved will see it as me betraying their trust or telling everyone things that are meant to stay in the family or in our friendship.
    In any case, I do wish you all a lot of strength to talk it out and get things resolved.

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    1. Katri, that's exactly it - writing honestly about negative parts of my personal relationships feels like a betrayal of the other people involved. If I think about it, even the blogger Eden Riley (mentioned above), who is known for her searing honesty, usually doesn't say much that's truly negative about other people in her life. I guess we are all aware of certain lines that shouldn't be crossed...
      Anyway, thank you so much for your kind wishes :)

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  3. Sorry to hear about the trouble. :-( Hope everything works out well in the end.

    Your child is really funny! :-D Clapping cows?

    YAY for warm sunshine and learning passive. :-D It's been cold here again after the weekend's gorgeous warm weather. This morning it was only 5'C when I cycled to work. Yikes!!! They say that it even got close to 0'C during the night. I wonder what kind of summer awaits us here in the north ha ha ha...but never mind that as long as I get to enjoy my summer weeks off from work later on. YAY! :-D

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    1. Amel, yes, I think I spoke too soon about warmth and sunshine. Even here in Helsinki it's chilly today. I have a thick fleece on, and I even thought about getting my beanie and gloves back out of storage! I feel as though summer is teasing us - appearing for a few days at a time, only to disappear again behind dark clouds and freezing winds... still, it is only May. There is still plenty of time for a "proper" summer!

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  4. I LOVE the clapping cows, I hope there are clapping cows for me when I go - I wonder if this is a business opportunity? You know, like those people that sell doves to release at weddings...

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    1. I love the idea of clapping cows, too (odd though it is!) I can just picture a group of motherly-looking Far Side-type cows gathered calmly around a fresh grave, standing on their hind legs and solemnly tapping their front hooves together in pleasant echoey unison, as if to say, "Well lived, my dear. Rest in peace".

      LOL that this could be a new business opportunity on a par with doves at weddings!! hahaha, brilliant!!

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  5. love it. not the bit about your dad and sister or you and hubby, but the whole overall blog. the bit about the cows.

    so pleased you are soaking in the vitamin d :) xxxxxxxxxx

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    1. Thanks, Lake House Writer! By the way, I loved your photo challenge photo for today. Brilliantly done.

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  6. Spelling is exercise for the mind. I hope the rest of the week has gentler exercise for your heart...

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    1. Thank you so very much, Steve. Actually, this week was a much better one :)
      And don't tell me - you got an easy 15/15 on the spelling quiz? I am ashamed to admit that after playing it multiple times I've managed full marks only once...

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  7. life, eh.
    Pain, distraction, joy. leavened by the wonderfully surreal things our children say and do.
    I wish I could say something comforting that wasn't cliche or platitude. My experience - for what it is worth - is that all things pass. And you will endure.
    Thinking of you. Yx
    PS I am off to play that word game...!

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    1. Thanks so much for your good wishes. The good and the bad do come in waves, and luckily it seems as though last week's dark water has already started to recede.

      I'm still hooked on the spelling game. My older daughter (6) likes to sit next to me and cheer me on. She also makes me keep a list of all the words I got wrong :)

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