I often make fun of my life with our two big dogs, and life is pretty hilarious around our boys – but the truth is that most of the time it’s like this…
Yesterday I let go of my own stories for a while and like so often before, I turned to someone who was much more skilled in the art of wordsmithing than I’ll ever be – Mr. Tolkien. Then I geeked out a little…
How many Tolkien quotes can you find in the below?
(actual quotes from LOTR and the Hobbit, not *gasp* the movies)
I’m sure someone will know, or else I’ll put an answer up here eventually so don’t spend the whole weekend trying to figure it out… relax and hang out with your family and friends instead – I know I will!
Preparations for a dinner party (aka ‘Someone’s being more of a Tolkien-nerd than usual’)
Last week we were having a long-expected party and, as usual, we were late with our preparations. Since we obviously needed to provide dinner, priority one was going to the supermarket.
“I’ll take the narrow back roads, they’ll be quicker!” I called out, running toward my tiny car.
“I’ll be right behind you, so don’t go where I can’t follow,” my husband shouted quickly from his huge pick-up truck, which was unexpected from my usually slow-speaking hubby who’d never say anything unless it’s worth taking a long time to say.
Since I planned to make Italian risotto, we started out by searching the isles for Arborio rice and balsamic vinegar. This proved to be harder than I thought and I was on the verge of deciding to go for mashed potatoes instead when I stumbled upon a tiny, old lady who directed me to my goal, proving yet again that even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
I thanked the woman profusely, thinking that there’s nothing like looking, if you want to find something. And you certainly usually find something if you look, but it’s not always quite the something you were after, unfortunately. To my horror, the best vinegar was sold out, which of course put me firmly on the road to disaster, but spine and also courage is found in unlikely places. I promptly picked up a bottle of the cheap stuff, met the hubby at the check-out where we spent the time waiting in line arguing about who’d go to the home store to buy scented candles for the table.
“A man like me does not simply walk into the home improvement store,” my husband rumbled and dangled the keys to his truck right in front of me.
This was true, but the noise from the key ring irritated me, so I snatched them out of his hand.
“I will take the ring,” he said, “though I don’t know the way to make risotto so you’d better not stay in that place for freaking ever.”
Then he left with a relieved grin, and I proceeded forward in the infuriatingly slow line.
As I put the bags into the trunk of my car I noticed a man passing me. He was walking slowly and, to my horror, there were tears in his eyes, so I took a quick step toward him, reaching for my phone to call for help.
“I’m fine,” he muttered. “Got shit in my left eye, though.”
“Sorry, I thought you were crying,” I said, feeling like a fool, assuming that he’d been staggering around in confusion on the parking lot outside our local Whole Foods, but not all those who wander are lost, of course.
“Nah, I do not weep, for not all tears are an evil and in my case, they’re a blessing. Should flush the dust out just right.”
I nodded to him, bid my goodbyes and made my way home with my groceries, at last. Oh my, precious little time to prepare before the guests would arrive, I thought.
As I drove, I thought about who we’d invited. There was my buddy Morris, of course, and his joked always entertained. Although, he usually paused for a long time before the actual punch line, and letting someone else always have to carry on the story was annoying. Our other friends never seemed to mind, though, and I felt convinced we’d have a fantastic time like we always did.
When I got home, the table was set, the grill was prepared, and as I closed the door, my husband called out to me, “Everything is set, honey, and all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. Do you want to shower first or should I?”
“What have I got in my pocket?” I murmured to myself and pulled out a quarter.
“I’ll flip you for it!” I replied.
Guessing I should have used the command ‘catch’ instead…
‘Wilder’ is sent off for edit, so I threw myself straight into ‘Sweet Water’, the next book in that series, and – finally. In that story, there’s this girl with an enormous need for peace of mind, and I know just where to take her. I wrote a guest post about it for Mama Reads Blog a while back, but if you missed it, here it is again.
I think I’ll go and make myself an espresso now, and attempt to do the impossible; find a quiet corner in my busy house. Then I’ll kick off the weekend, sniffing my coffee and trying to catch that zen state I often end up in when I have dinner in a small town in Italy. Maybe I’ll find it, though most likely I won’t, but regardless, I’m sure the weekend will be great.
Hope you’ll all have a good one too!
Dinner in a small town in Italy
In a small town in northern Italy, there’s this place that I love. It’s just a small restaurant, not fancy at all – but just like anywhere you go in that region, the food is amazing.
I’m usually the first one to sit down at a table. They open at 7 pm, which to a Swede is well past dinner time, and when I walk in five minutes past the hour, the staff always smile widely. The waitress sweeps her arm out in a wide arc to indicate that I can indeed sit anywhere I like. I usually pick a small table in a corner, with my back against the wall.
The pizza baker always shouts a friendly ‘Buonasera’ from behind his counter and wiggles the wooden spatula he uses to shuffle the pies in and out from the huge oven. Then the waitress comes with the menu, and pours me a small complimentary glass of Prosecco, sparkling white wine. The first time I was there I protested, saying in my limited Italian that I’d prefer Lambrusco, the sparkling red from the area. She looked at me and replied gently that yes, of course I did. For dinner. This was Prosecco, to start with.
So I sit there, inhaling deeply. My nostrils slowly fill with the smell of garlic and tomato, mushroom and whatever vegetables they’re cooking in the kitchen. It’s quiet and peaceful, and I sip my Prosecco wondering what to have for dinner, knowing that I’ll end up having a pizza. Nothing tastes like the pizza at that place. It’s thin, with just a splash of tomato and a thin layer of Mozzarella. On top of the cheese is the ham, from Parma, of course, and perhaps a few cherry tomatoes. Finishing it off is a handful of Arugula, and if you feel just a little bit crazy, you can sprinkle it with the chili flavored oil that always has its place on the table.
Then people start to fill the restaurant. Slowly the sounds are increasing, people are talking and laughing, glasses are clinked, and there are soft sounds from cutlery scraping across the plates. The smells from the kitchen intensify, the staff walks faster but they still never seem to rush. Once the kids are fed, they walk around freely, and they never disturb anyone. They don’t run and don’t shout; they just blend into the crowd somehow.
Sometimes people come up to me to talk, and I try to reply but my Italian is mostly a mix of French with a few words of Spanish so unless they speak English (and they normally don’t) we end up smiling and nodding before they move on.
I can stay there the whole night, and I never get any dirty looks from the staff for lingering. They offer me espresso and Nocino, a sweet walnut liqueur, and let me sit there for as long as I like. Sometimes I write, and sometimes I draw, but most of the time I end up with my pen in my hand, head leaned back against the wall behind me, just watching.
I haven’t included this place in a story yet. Somehow it’s too precious, and I haven’t found the words to describe it just right, but one day I will. When one of my heroines finds herself desperately needing peace of mind, I’ll take her to my special place. Until then, I’ll just keep it to myself.
There are two big, black dogs in my life.
Oh, yeah, I have two teenage daughters and a husband as well – but somehow they never seem to take up nearly as much space as our dogs.
My dogs don’t do lonely very well. Or to be honest, not at all.
You know those last precious minutes just before the alarm goes off in the morning? That’s when one, or both of them, puts their snout under my sheets and snorts, repeatedly. I’m not a morning person, but just about any attention is amazing to them, so they simply laugh at my angry growls and keep at it until I get up.
They’re the kind of dogs that won’t leave my side, and that’s wonderfully, breathtakingly heartwarming. Until I have to visit the bathroom, and they sit there in front of me, staring curiously. It’s also a really weird feeling to walk out of the shower to find both of them staring at my naked body. What’s even weirder is that I still get embarrassed by it, and cover up with a towel. Also, you know how it’s nicer to let your body lotion dry off before putting clothes on? Well, my dogs love lotion, so either I hurry getting dressed, or they’ll lick it off.
Cooking is an interesting experience, with them trailing behind me between sink, counter, and stove. Did I mention that they’re big? I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like when I’m in a hurry, rushing around in the kitchen with a blur of black dogs around my feet.
One of them likes to keep his head on my lap when I sit at the kitchen table, and he can stand there through a whole meal, just resting his big head softly on my leg. Looking down, I invariably find him watching me, and there’s such endless adoration in those eyes that most of the time I can’t make myself push him away, even though they’re not allowed at the table when we eat.
I’m convinced that they have one big brain-cell each, and it’s either on… or it’s off.
When it comes to finding or obtaining food, they’re incredibly clever. Suddenly, they can open doors and drawers without any problems at all, and we have yet to find a puzzle-toy that they haven’t figured out in no time at all.
Then when I pretend to toss a ball without releasing it, they run like crazy through our back yard, searching frantically for it. Finally, they come back looking happily at my hand holding the ball. “Fantastic, there it is!” they seem to think. So I fake-throw again, and off they go…
They’re certainly not the kind of dogs that fits everyone, but I can’t imagine life without them, and there’s one thing I know for sure – life is never boring when you have dogs like ours.
Now the weekend is coming up, and since autumn has hit Scandinavia the weather ranges from cold and wet to… colder and wetter. It doesn’t matter to our dogs, so I know I’ll spend a chunk of time in a raincoat, tossing a ball or just goofing around, and loving it!
Whatever plans y’all have for the weekend – hope you have a good one!
The fantastic artist Mónica put her pens to one of my coloring pages, and wow – isn’t the result amazing!? I love!
Check her out on Instagram at _love_coloring
People sometimes ask how I come up with the stories I write, and I usually answer quite honestly that I have no clue. Secretly, I find the questions a bit baffling because to me, everyday life is full of mysteries and I just write some of them down.
Take my dogs, for example. How can they poop more than what we actually feed them? The number of bags we buy to clean up after them is so embarrassing that I alternate stores to get them from, to avoid the raised eyebrows I get from the clerks if I don’t.
How can it be that my teenage daughters are absolutely exhausted every time it’s time to wash up after dinner when they can walk around a shopping mall for hours?
Where do half of all socks I put in the washing machine go? Is there a separate universe for odd socks somewhere? Who lives there? A bunch of one-legged aliens?
Why does my left foot twitch slightly when I get an itch on the back of my right shoulder? And why does it always start to itch there just when I painted the nails on my left hand? Is there perhaps a deity somewhere who enjoys watching me as I’m twisting into a pretzel, trying futilely to scratch?
If my car is low on gas – why is that always when I’m late for a meeting?
Sometimes emails just disappear, never to be seen again, but where do they go? Is there a universal mailbox for randomly lost emails, and does someone monitor that? Who works there? Is it perhaps the one-legged aliens?
When I’m running, why will my shoe laces never come loose when I’m exhausted and need a short break? Why does it always happen when I have a good run, feeling strong and fast?
How can it be that we all like honey when, in reality, it’s partially digested bee-vomit?
Why is yawning contagious? It also seems that it’s not only spreading to other humans because my dogs yawn when I do. Does that then mean that it’s contagious to other animals? Could I make frogs yawn? Or fish?
Why do I always open my mouth when I put on mascara?
I could go on forever, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll go back to my desk and continue re-writing and correcting ‘Wilder’ because – yay! – first draft is done!
Have a nice weekend y’all!
Autumn has come to Scandinavia, and it isn’t cold exactly but there’s a chill in the air, which means that we don’t leave the back door open all day long. It also means that I’m facing this, all day long…
“When you find this, I am gone. My hope is that you are my kin and that the blood of the fire dragons run strong in your soul. Know that our prophecies are honest and true. Heed the words and honor your heritage. I am Vildman, ruler of the fire dragons in the North. Make me proud.”