Daily target met. Goal!

Today I had to go and see if my  (unmentionable) car would like to come home, or rather be towed to nearest garage. (Full story here) It was much more pleasant to get my daily amount of steps done with music playing in earphones and Aklejas company. No rain and comfortable shoes also made it more enjoyable. And the fact that I’m no longer seriously p****d off.

“Nice walkies!”

My company is apparently in just as poor shape and as lazy as me. She started off leading the way, tail and head held high, with a nice spring in her tiny step. Half an hour later she started dragging behind and pulling on the lead to go back home. Tail down and sad expression on her little face. Our normal walks don’t usually take us on narrow sidewalks with heavy traffic. She wants grass and nice smells. She had picked up on the fact that this walk was not solely to her benefit.

“I want to go home!”

And the car? Well, he had had the entire night to contemplate his wrongdoings, and was happy to start immediately, without any fuss, swearing (on my part) or promises of a wax, oil change or whatever could make him happy. Showing no remorse whatsoever, he happily took me home as if nothing had ever happened. Now he’s back in the driveway looking just fine. He might think all my talk about recycling scrap metal was just empty threats.

I really thought this relationship would last for many more years. Not necessarily until death do us part, because that is usually not a good thing when we’re on the subject of cars and traffic. But still, at least for better and for worse. This one prefers the sunny days and trips to the beach and such. I need one that takes me to the supermarket and back even when the weather is bad. Reliable, is the key word. At least it hasn’t given up on me in the middle of rush hour. Yet…

Let’s see how the next one lives up to expectations. He sure looks like something that could go into outer space. I never had a car this modern, so it will take me ages to get aqauainted with all the extras and gadgets.


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Ending a relationship

Just arrived in January 2013

Some people laugh at me when I attribute human traits or behaviours to my cars, and I let them. They are machines without any brains or emotions, right? But I know I’m not the only person to call my car by name or gender (although some might not admit to it in public). 

My car has let me down a few times over the last couple of years, and I finally decided to replace him. (Yes, this is a He). He has served me (mostly) well for the most part. There has been a few incidents and I’ve taken him to hospital = treated by a good mechanic.  But the last straw was when he decided to have something similar to an epileptic seizure in the parking garage at the airport when I went to pick up Gary. The happiness of having him visiting was somewhat damped by having to wait an hour for the tow truck and then go home by taxi. And that’s when I decided enough is enough and started looking for a replacement. (For the Volvo that is, not Gary, obviously)

At Lisbon airport

This is the moment I realized this six year old relationship has reached its end. I can’t put up with his antics anymore. Tow truck and emergency mechanic shouldn’t be a recurring thing for us, when it could be fun road trips and adventures. Time to say goodbye.

I don’t know much about cars and engines, although I have had cars all my adult life. For the first time I’m on my own here. Friends and family give me all sorts of helpful input of what I should look for. So I have looked at WV, Mercedes, Honda, Puegeot and Kia. And more. “What do you want?”, they ask. It’s simple, really. I want something reliable, comfortable with a cupholder and bluetooth. Blue would be nice. And automatic. That’s it. I think the arrangement should be simple: I do my part as in filling gas, oil, water, paying tax  and insurance, and have it serviced before annual inspection. In return, it should start every time I turn the key, and do its job. That simple.

Not my hobby

After being indecisive for a while, and getting tempted by cars way out of my league, I finally found my next vehicle. Surprise, surprise, another Volvo…..    (OK, no comments) After a test drive and asking the salesman a thousand stupid questions plus a bit of haggling, I finally closed the deal a couple of days ago, and this miracle will be delivered next week.

New (almost) and very pretty

Now, here is where I think my current car can read my mind. He obviously knows I have found another and feels betrayed and rejected. He got his carefully planned revenge today.

I was just going to drive, quickly, to the nearest supermarket to buy dogfood. It was raining a little, but I didn’t bring a jacket or good shoes, because I had a car…  Also I left my phone at home on charge, since I was only going to be gone for 20 minutes. (You can see where this is going, right?)

I come out of the supermarket with my dog food, squeeze myself into the drivers seat (because someone had parked 3 inches away), put the key into the ignition and turn it and…. nothing. Yes, everything lights up, and the music goes on, but that’s all. We’ve been through this before, so I talk nicely to him and start over. Double check all details.
But no. It’s a No from the Volvo. He does not want to take me home today.

So here I was, without phone, no jacket and a bag of dogfood and a very uncooperative car. I begged, I prayed to the car god above, and turned and twisted every dial, knob and button to no avail. He was not going to fall for any of that. Not leaving the parking. So I did the only reasonable thing. I left him there, to ponder his mistakes and walked away.

While walking the long way home in the rain (drizzle, really, to be honest) in poor shoes on slippery Portuguese cobblestones, I came up with a few unmentionable adjectives for the car that decided to end it all this way. Very disappointing, since I had plans to find him a good home. Now I’m more likely to sell him to be recycled as cat food cans.

Tomorrow I’ll walk back there and see if I can make him cooperative enough to come home again. At least I’ll hit my target for number of steps again.




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The key to a longer life

I’ve heard that making your bed every morning is very important, and possibly the key to happiness. Something successful people do in order to stay organized, neat and focused. I have my doubts about these theories, but make my bed most days anyway. It’s just a nice feeling to have the bed ready and welcoming at the end of a long day.

This one specific morning, I choose not to. Or I forgot. It doesn’t matter. Since I’m usually a very quiet sleeper,  the process of making the bed is very simple. I just fold the duvet back in place, fluff up the pillows and then just pull the bedspread over. My bed is large enough to accomodate an entire family, but I since I live alone, I only use the last five inches on one side, so the bedspread and decorative pillows are just pushed to the other side at night.

What my bed usually looks like in the morning.

But on this occasion I didn’t spend those 40 seconds to do make the bed. Big mistake.

That night, I had to live the horrors resulting from not leaving my bed tidy.  At bedtime, I was really, really tired. Almost sleepwalking, I stagger into the bedroom without switching the lights on. But there is enough light coming in from the streetlights to show the contours of a person in my bed. Or a corpse! This is when my heart missed a couple of beats. I gasped for air.  I stopped dead in my tracks, hit the light switch and tried to remember the emergency number as I reached for my phone.

It took me just those extra couple of seconds to understand what I was looking at. (Picture taken after I switched the lights on)

I had just forgotten to make the bed. It was simply the extra pillows under the bedspread. By now I wasn’t sleepy anymore. Wide awake. Pulse at 180 bpm. And made a note to self to always make my bed from here on. I’m now convinced that it actually is the key to a longer life.


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Not a morning person

That’s sort of a paradox, because I like mornings, and I usually wake up quite early. But on the other hand, it takes me a couple of hours and a gallon of coffee to make me human, and function normally. So I’m sort of a fake morning person.

This morning was no exception. I follow my very set schedule: turn the music on, put the kettle on, feed my dog, print out the daily samurai-sudoku, and sit down to enjoy the coffee and gather my thoughts.

But since I’m still suffering from a cold (the third in so many months), morning coffee also comes with some medications. I line them up, next to my steaming mug of java and a big glass of H2O. (And my counter top now resembles a pharmacy).

So I take the first pill with a small sip of water. Take the next one out from its plastic cylinder. It’s the fizzy kind, that has to be dissolved in half a glass of water. And where do I drop that big white disc? Well, not in the glass of water. Because it’s still early and I didn’t sleep well last night. At least that’s the excuse I’m going to go with here.

The sight was pretty impressive. I didn’t know coffee could do that. Have you ever put a Mentos in a glass of Coke? Then you get the picture.

Then I just had to start over. Make another coffee. Put another tablet in the waterglass. Try to gather all my marbles that seemed to be still asleep, or escaped.

Later the same day, I went out for dinner, and thought an Irish Coffee might be the right remedy. But Catarina, the barmaid, convinced me that a hot toddy would do the trick, so I let her make me one. She swears by the healing properties of this brew, so of course I gave it a shot. I’ll be right as rain tomorrow. We all know that bar staff know everything, right?

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Tax number on receipt?

In Portugal, whenever you purchase something, they will always ask if you want to put your tax number on the receipt. It’s a way for people to easier manage their deductibles for the tax return. This is something that I never do, because I don’t have an income in this country, and therefore can not expect to deduct anything. And besides, would the authorities really need or even want to know the amount of coffee I purchase over a year? Or anything, really? So my answer to this question is always “No, thank you”.

I visited the shopping mall with a friend the other day. We both had a number of errands on our list, so we went together. First stop was Fnac, for a printer ink cartridge. At the checkout, I said ‘No’ as usual to this perpetual question. My friend said, that since she is self employed (and a Portuguese tax payer), this would be one of the occasions when  she’d submit her tax number, because printer ink would be deductible. It’s a clever system.

We moved on. Next stop was the lingerie shop. I needed some underwear. This store does apparently not get a lot of customers on a late Monday afternoon, so the staff must be bored half to death. And if they work on commission, also desperate to sell something.

The young, pretty girl attending the store did her very best to get us entusiastic over little garments of silk and lace.  It was a bit amusing thinking of what might be going through her brain at that point. Here is the customer: woman in her late fifties, who’s quite obviously suffering from a cold, wearing a neck brace and a hoodie. I imagined her first thought might be:  ‘Hey, let’s sell this poor old thing some sexy underwear! She obviously needs all the help she can get.‘ . She then proceeds to ask me what I’m looking for. Which I summed up by stating that I wasn’t looking for neither the Bridget Jones style nor the proper granny outfit. She wasn’t sure how to react to that, but her facial expression was best described as ‘interesting’, as she mentally processed my request.

The girl is a good employee and finds me what I’m looking for. And when I’m about to pay she asks the standard question – “Do you want your tax number on the receipt?”.        I know they have to ask, but I find it sort of funny, so I tell her – “No, thank you. I don’t think the tax authorities need to know I bought new panties”.

Makes me wonder who would think to try to deduct underwear from tax declaration  anyway. Then it dawned on me, and I told her – “They are not for proffessional use”. I kept a straight face,  she stared and blinked twice before realizing it was a joke. My friend, who shares my sense of humor, snorted and laughed out loud as we hurried out the  door. I think the girls there will remember us.

old stripper

Older ‘proffessional’. She might be able to deduct the expenses…

Den här historien kunde varit ännu roligare på svenska….. “Trosorna avdrages i kassan”.

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Haunted house

I wasn’t sleeping well because I’ve had a cold for a few days. My coughing woke me up every couple of hours for the third night in a row. So I was really, really tired. But at 4.30 in the morning I’m woken up by voices. I can clearly hear two men talking to each other.

At first I thought I might have been dreaming. I sat up and listened more closely. At this point it didn’t worry me at all. Assuming the sound was coming from outside and it was simply guests from the hotel next door arriving home from a late night out. It was a Saturday night after all. And the dog didn’t react either. But then I froze. I noticed I had closed the balcony door and all the windows last night because of the heavy rain. And those voices sounded very close. Too clear. Speaking in English. As if they came from downstairs, actually.

By now I’m wide awake and my heart is racing. All imaginable scenarios flashed through my brain. Having a vivid imagination doesn’t help in situations like this. The possibilities seemed endless. It could be random drunk intruders having confused my house with their own holiday home (this has happened before). Or burglars and murderers, coming to take my life and my valuables. Perhaps unusually loud ghosts. Did I let guests in yesterday and forget? Was I losing my mind?  The fact that the dog was still soundly asleep would indicate the latter.

I quietly sneak out of bed and curse my stupidity at having left all possible weapons downstairs (golf club, fire poker, big carving knifes) and look around for something I could use to defend myself. A nail file? I tip-toe to the stairs in order to hear what they are saying. The voices are definitely coming from the living room.

Halfway down the stairs, wearing flannel pajamas, clutching the miniscule nailfile, it dawned on me. It was the TV providing the voices. Instead of shutting it off properly, I must have just paused it and forgot to actually switch it off. And for some reason it had un-paused itself.  My sigh of relief must have been audible all around the neighborhood. Feeling ridiculous for letting my imagination get me carried away. I straighten myself up and walk downstairs to find the TV showing a late night thriller. Two men contemplating a crime, in low voices. Luckily it wasn’t my demise they were plotting.

I was back to bed and fast asleep within one minute. Happy knowing there were no witnesses to my stupidity. But this morning I found it too funny not to share.

I’m sure everyone has done something equally stupid, but are just to embarrassed to admit it.



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Pizza and ice cream

I think that tonight will be the night. When I can finally enjoy some of the simple pleasures in life again: pizza and ice cream.

My stomach seems to have recovered from one course of powerful antibiotics and then the flu from hell. Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say I was neither willing nor able to stray too far from the bathroom. Someone explained (very accurately) how you can tell it is a proper flu: First you think you’re going to die. But after having spent the night on the bathroom floor you wish you are going to die.  So yes, this was a proper flu.

My system appeared to have adjusted to a diet consisting of only white rice and tea, and rebelled violently to any attemps of ingesting anything remotely more interesting.

Yesterday I went out on a limb and had a burger and a beer for lunch. (And that was absolutely the best meal I had in a long time!) There were only mild reactions from my digestive system, so I figured I was out of the woods.  When I returned home from lunch, I found a note on my kitchen counter. My dear cleaning lady, who is obviously both literate and caring, informed me my medication had expired years ago. Possibly the reason they hadn’t been working as expected.

Now that nature has taken care of my problems without too much help from modern medicine, I am sincerely looking forward to my dinner. The kind that makes you feel human, and again able to enjoy life. My dog will be exited at the prospect of getting a couple of crusts (her favorite thing!).

Oh, how pathetic this sounds:  Highlight of the week is premade food on the couch, with the dog, watching a movie. Topping it all off with after dinner delight, compliments of Misters Ben and Jerry.

Things really don’t have to be all that complex to be good.


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2018 in review

Another year has gone by, at lightning speed again. It is true, that the older you get, the faster the years go by? As I was flipping through my calendar to take a quick look at 2018, I noticed that it has been a good year. Finally. Instead of telling an endless story of all the things happening I choose to just show a few pictures to sum it all up, and show a handful of the highlights.

Friends and family visiting:

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Travelling to Spain, Scotland and Sweden:

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Quality time in Portugal:

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The animals:

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Growing family

No, I don’t mean that there are more of them, but the grandkids are getting bigger!

During my recent visit, we took the family picture the same way we had done before, and the evidence is clear: all the babies are growing up. To be even more adorable, of course! And it makes being Grandma more and more enjoyable!




These days we can have very deep and challenging conversations about dinosaurs, bunnies, excavators and all the other things that are miraculous part of the world. And they get increasingly cuddly too! Yes, I’m aware that they one day will deny all of this, but we’re trying to live in the moment now. And I’m saving all the funny and embarrasing moments for a good story to tell when they are a lot older.


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We need to talk

“We need to talk”

I’ve learned that these words might make up one of the most uncomfortable sentences a person could ever hear.

These four little words  do  not ever mean: “I want to have a nice conversation with you, possibly over dinner”.   No, it means there is going to be bad news. It means the other person has something to tell you, that you don’t want to hear. And you might need to brace yourself. There is  a slight chill of fear down your spine. How hard will it be? How much will it cost?

It could be different types of bad news, regarding on whom they’re coming from. Here’s a list:

  • Boss – You will be fired. Second best: we need to reduce your salary
  • Boyfriend: He wants to break up. Prepare by getting champagne or Kleenex, depending on what kind of boyfriend he has been.
  • Landlord: Your building is going to be demolished and you need to move out. Next week. (Call your Mom, you’ll be moving back home. Again)
  • Bank: There is a serious overdraft on your credit card.
  • 18 yo son: He demolished your car and didn’t have insurance
  • Doctor: This one is potentially very bad and will scare you half to death. Nine times out of ten, it just means they misplaced your blood test and you need to go back for another one.
  • Bestie: Her other friends have decided they don’t want to party with you anymore. Like a partial break-up. You need to reconsider your drinking habits if you want to join  back in.
  • Laundry service: They managed to completely ruin your favourite coat, that you paid a small fortune for. Back in 1987. Which means they consider it worthless.
  • Car mechanic: Your car has a problem that will cost more to fix than the car is worth.
  • Teacher: You are about to fail this course. You might need to reconsider your choice of education, or start putting some serious effort in.

When people really do want to talk to you, as in having a nice conversation, or even just plain gossip, they wont ask for a “talk”.  The invitation could be for practically anything else, like drinks, lunch or a walk along the beach.

“Let’s meet up for a drink” is exactly the opposite. This will bring good news, or if nothing else,  good conversation. Either way, no reason to bring the big handkerchief along.

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