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*pops up*

And here I am once more.

It's been a busy while, it definitely has.

Since we last spoke, my grandmother was taken ill, and ended up in the hospital. As some of you know, she's rapidly descended into senility since the stroke she had last year. Which only added to our stress.

She's physically and mentally unable to take care of herself, but keeps refusing any kind of help. Anyone sent out to help gets yelled at, insulted and threatened. She really should be in a home, so we've been working hard on getting one sorted. She's of course going to refuse to go. It's all very problematic. *sighs* I know it wears my father completely to pieces sometimes. Especially since she's started confusing him with his father, who's been dead for the last twenty-eight years.

In better news, though, I've gotten a job. Finally. That's what I've been preoccupied with lately. Got a job at the library of the Norwegian Directorate for Health and Social Services. I do love my job to bits, even if it wears me out.

I love library work, and in this job, I get to do what I love. Took me a while to get used to it all, though. The first couple of weeks, I was so exhausted after work I didn't have the energy for anything. Have to be mentally on your toes a lot of the time. Fortunately my boss and co-workers are lovely people. They've done their best to make me feel at home. I didn't know there was a place that nice to work at.

So that's what's been up with me. Working, and getting used to my duties. It was all very new when I started, but they've been good at explaining. I do wonder how our patrons are going to get the time to read all the stuff they ask us to order for them. We've sent so many orders to Germany it's ridiculous. Didn't know there were that many medically related journals in the whole world. But eh, if they didn't order things all the time, I wouldn't have a job, so I guess there's no need to complain. Not that I do often. I just boggle at the length of some of these lists. One person ordered over two hundred different articles. I think they order for a whole group who's going to split it between them, though.

One of the big temptations is the urge to read our various documents and books while working. Didn't really think health-related stuff could be that interesting.

Long time no see...

I know I have promised some of you a picture update, and it will definitely be up. But since I actually had something I wanted to speak of, that goes up first. So the latest events go up first, imagine that. *chuckles*

As a few of you know, my mother's cousin died last Monday, of a heart attack, at the relatively young age of 65. Today was the funeral. I never had any doubt that I wanted to attend, as I actually knew and liked the man. He was a lovely person, torn away from his family and friends much too soon.

The funeral itself was a lovely affair, I thought. The church was packed to capacity with family, friends and neighbors. There were lovely wreaths and flowers all around the coffin. With personal notes attached to each on the ribbons. I admit it hit me pretty hard to see the coffin and know who was inside. It makes it easier to believe that it's really true.

The priest got definite points from me, though. It was immediately obvious that she'd spoken to the family, and that she wanted to make the ceremony a personal one. She spoke of his life at length, about his experiences, and how he touched other people's lives, giving extra space to his giving personality. She also said that he was one of the people she did funerals for that she wished she could have met. All in all, touching. In addition, family members and friends made short speeches as well, speaking about how he'd touched their lives. Quite a few sniffles all around, but that's to be expected. And we had each other. My mother, father and I, all together.

(Why is it that all the priests that have really touched me throughout the years have been female? I might have to do something about that in a separate post.)

Then came the point where the coffin was carried to the graveside. While it had been a sunny, lovely day when we arrived at church, at that point it was pouring down, heavy, soaking rain. My father later commented to me that his first reaction was that my mother's late cousin had arranged it from the afterlife, as he was quite the joker. My mother also confirmed that she thought the same.

Either way, the coffin was carried out, the ceremony done, and the coffin finally lowered into the grave. Everyone got soaked to the skin, but no one seemed to mind at all. They just cracked jokes about the pointlessness of having spent time fixing one's hair before the funeral.

Shortly after, we arrived at a small hall rented for the occasion, where the family would meet, talk, eat and share memories. The rain got referenced, with the comment that it'd been a fitting sendoff for a farmer like my mother's cousin had been.

Then there was food and talking. Lots of both, as they are both typical of the family. We wouldn't let anyone go hungry from the table. Ever. I'm sure the hosts got to eat lots of lovely sandwiches and cake for days afterwards.

It was a nice event. Everyone on their best, most graceful behavior. Some people admittedly weren't on speaking terms, but you couldn't tell by looking at them, because everyone was focused on community, it seemed. There was a continuous din, from the constant chatting at all the tables. You couldn't move to get to the tables set up with the food on it, because the hall was so full, so a few people just got the trays off the tables, and sent them around so everyone got to take what they wanted without having to wait in line. Which worked great.

Not to mention there was lots of laughter. Which my mother's cousin would have liked, as he was the known for his sense of humor, in addition to his caring heart. He was the type who helped everyone. One who cared. So the world's a little less nice for not having him in it. But he got a send-off I think he would have loved.

Surprise of surprises, I'm actually alive.

For the last three weeks, I've been off in Italy, courtesy of my parents. They were going, and wanted me to come along. I know, I am incredibly fortunate.

Of course, that did mean far less internet than normal for me. But I'm not complaining, as I always enjoy Italy. Tuscany was no exception.

We started the vacation off in this lovely place known as Marina di Massa, where we'd rented an apartment. We do that a lot when we go on vacation. Hotels aren't really our thing. My parents love to cook for themselves when we can, and you can't do that in a hotel room.

Not that I mind. I love my dad's cooking, and I enjoy the privacy the apartment granted. I got my own room, naturally. Always good to have a place of your own you can retire to when the fancy takes you.

Marina di Massa was a fairly small place, which I like. Crowds can be quite stressful. Though with our usual impeccable timing, we'd arrived right in the middle of this weekly market thing, so the streets were packed with people and stalls selling practically everything. Italians definitely take their purses seriously. Even if they have no clue whatsoever about properly long purse straps. Is there any wonder that in Rome, purse snatchers on motorcycles drive past women and snatch their purses? I like my purses to have long enough straps that the strap can co from one shoulder down to the other hip, and the purse can be hidden under the jacket. But most of the purses we saw in Italy had these short-short straps, so even those tiny Italians would have to carry it in their hand. But enough on the topic of purses.

We did go through the market for a bit, having a look at everything. Always fun to see, even if it tired me out something fierce. Naturally, we retired early.

The next few days were spent getting to know the neighboring area. Which we found quite enjoyable.

And then, the highlight of that first week. Going to Florence. We'd managed to get tickets to the Uffizi. Note to anyone else attempting this: Do not think you can visit Pisa and Florence in one day. The Uffizi itself is gigantic. I don't think any of us three realized how big it is. Clearly those Medicis did not mess around with their mansions. They liked it BIG.

Of course, a lot of the art would not have existed without their patronage, or been around for us to look at without their collection mania, so I suppose it's all good.

The first few rooms seemed to be packed with religious art. I know mom and I were both suffering from total overdoses after a while. We were joking that the Virgin Mary looked so tired in some of the pictures because of she sheer number of pictures she'd had to be in.

But then, we got to the Botticelli room. Sure, I'd seen reproductions of his paintings before, but I had no idea how impressive they were in person. I've earned a new appreciation for Botticelli.

Another artist I gained a lot of appreciation for was Titian. I swear his paintings practically glow.

In between those two rooms, of course, there was lots of walking. And lots of paintings and statues. Lots of artists whose names I can't remember at the moment. But we bought a book about the art collection of the Uffizi, so I'll have to refresh my memory and post some of the other names that impressed me at some point. It was just so much.

When we got to the third hour of looking at art, we skipped a couple rooms. We were just done. No chance of moving on to Pisa, we were all full to the brim of impressions.

Oddly enough, the sheer number of people there did not bother me that much. Maybe because I was mostly preoccupied with the art.

We could take no pictures in the Uffizi, but we have a couple pictures of us outside. I'll have to post them when I get a chance. Such as the ones of me with the famous "David" by Michelangelo.

The rest of the week was spent in quiet enjoyment, as we were all worn out.

Second week, we actually had to move. We were heading north. Into the Barolo district. I'd miss Marina di Massa, but I knew dad had arranged for us to visit several wineyards, and we were meeting friends up there. So we got our stuff into our rental car, and drove off.

We found the place, and met up with my parents' friends. And everyone had a good laugh about how every single wineyard my dad had asked had decided to let him visit. So we'd have seven places to visit.

Not that I went to every place, but I found the ones I did go to fairly interesting. Always nice to see how wines are produced. I did not realize how gigantic those wine barrels are. You could fit a small apartment into one of the bigger sizes.

Of course, there was wine tasting galore. And being the horribly unprofessional taster I am, I swallowed. So on the days we visited wineyards, I did not exactly end up sober. But I found it to be worth it. Though my dad tells me that Barolo is not for complete beginners to wine-tasting. I can understand why. The Barolo wines tend to be rather strong and complex. If you're new to it all, it could get horribly overwhelming. It did overwhelm me a little at first, but I was enjoying it quite a lot by the time we were done with the week of wine-tasting.

What I failed to mention before was that my dad managed to forget his camera in Marina di Massa. Fortunately, our friends took lots of pictures, which they promised to share. So there should be much to share. Of course, in one way, it worked out wonderfully, as we decided to return to Marina di Massa for that last week. Was good to be back in that same apartment. With everything within reach. Even if I found our view of the Barolo district incredible. If I'd been the one with the camera, there would have been three million landscape pictures.

We never did get to Pisa, but that's maybe for another time.

In a stroke of horrible timing, just before departure, we all came down with some sort of stomach ailment. Though we did make it back to Oslo in one piece, with our luggage and everything. Even if I did throw up in a trashcan at the Malpensa airport in Milan. If anyone reads this who works there...sorry.

But we all made it without further incident, and so did our luggage. Thankfully.

There's bound to be more details later, as I post pictures, and crossreference with my parents' travel notes.

But for now, this is it.

Bit of a Week in Review

I've been meaning to post for quite a few days now, but I've been busy. I still am, a bit, but it's winding down now. So that's good.

On the job search: I'm going to another meeting on Thursday, so hopefully something constructive will come of that. In the meantime, I'm doing an odd job for my mom. It's starting to come together nicely. The usual getting stuff from paper into a computer file thing. I'm not too bad at that. It's taking longer than I originally envisioned, but that's because I swear their budget printouts are as badly organized as my home. (ask ahofschu about that, he just about had a fit when he saw the mess I'd created.)

On family time: House M.D. rocks. Mom, dad and I watched it together last Wednesday. We all laughed heartily, especially dad. It's good to know that he can watch shows with doctors in them despite being a medical statistician. Having been a conjurer when he was younger than I am now, he can't watch crime shows with conjurers in them. He'll guess in five seconds flat how things were done. And he's usually right, too.

On my weight loss work: I work out three times a week, and go for long walks the other, so I hope to see even more results soon. According to the whole BMI thing, I'm borderline obese, but honestly, you couldn't really guess by looking at me. I carry those extra pounds pretty well. I remember when I asked swandog to guess, once we were discussing weight, she thought I weighed less than she does, while it's the other way around. *laughs*

On WoW: It's hard to be interested in my old characters, when I'm so eager to get my hands on my Blood Elves and Draenei. After a lot of thinking about it, I cut it down to four new characters. One Draenei Shaman, one Blood Elf Mage (that's her in my icon), one Blood Elf Hunter, and one Blood Elf paladin. Speaking of Blood Elf paladins... This comic made me laugh. It's true, Blood Elves have to steal everything. I love my snooty cleptomaniacs.

I did work some on my human mage this week, though. She's now level 33, which means she gets to wear the Robe of Power, which I just love to bits. It looks like something a Blood Elf would wear. I had to turn off showing the hat graphic, though, as the brown hood she still wears clashes something horrid. Agh, what is it with hats? I'd love to see more nifty hats. Whitemane's Chapeau would match perfectly, but she needs to be level 39 to wear that. Plus it drops in Scarlet Monastery Cathedral. But Whitemane's my favorite hat. I have to go convince someone to take me there. That combo would be perfect to wear around town. For now, when Felynrae wanders around Stormwind or other cities, it is in a Dalaran wizard's robe.

One of my favorite druids quit, which made me sad. At least I have his MSN, so he can stay in touch. And it's good that he's doing what he can to not become addicted.

So all in all, good week.

Funny stuff

From worldofwarcraft: Loot arguing dates back to ancient Greece. That one made me snicker and thank whatever deities are out there that I haven't gotten into any loot arguments that I can remember.

Life continues to be good...

It's still a good thing to be me. I went to my usual weighing session/pep talk (which I go to every three weeks) yesterday evening, and I got the niftiest surprise ever. Four pounds down. According to the scales, it was all fat too. Which really made me squeal. I felt so good. I've been stuck on the same weight for so long, I was about to give up. Now that it's moving again, I'm feeling moved to continue with the whole tiring workout routine.

In other news, the incredible lane ended up making me icons. *chuckles* Totally unexpected:

and for the Draenei,
and for the Blood Elves. The Draenei is wonderfully expressive, and the Blood Elf's just so cute. Makes me want to pick her up and hug her. Looks good for a caster, too.

I was going to link you all to a few videos I had bookmarked of various Draenei and Blood Elf animations. But apparently Blizzard's started pulling the stuff. Which is a real shame. The official information, which has been paltry to say the least, hasn't gotten me half as excited about Burning Crusade as the leaked stuff. It was generating a lot of good impressions and excitements. People took a look at the stuff and decided they wanted the expansion. If I were Blizzard, I'd have left the stuff in place, just for the general excitement it generated, but done's done.

Oh, well. Hopefully it means they'll be releasing more of their own info soon. I remember back after they first announced Burning Crusade, it took so long before any news and content was added, it totally ruined the excitement I'd originally felt at the news. It became a form of slow torture. I hope they can keep the excitement burning.

Still alive...

And not much to report. Still looking for work, still no Burning Crusade released yet.

But it's been a good weekend. I got to spend time with my dear ahofschu. It was a wonderful weekend.

Thank goodness for those who keep digging up info about Burning Crusade, by the way. Especially lane, who went and posted about the different faces and other options for the new races.

I couldn't resist, and to my great glee, I found the perfect faces for two of my very favorite characters.

and

Mmmm...I guess this was more of a gratituous icon post than anything else.

There's just so little to report about the job search. It's going frightfully slow. Hopefully I'll have something by the end of the year.

A good week...

It started on Saturday with a visit to my dear friend swandog's. It was lovely to see her again.

Moreover, for the first time in a very long time, I borrowed the folks' car. I was fairly impressed with how well I drove on the way there. It requires me to get on the E6, and that's a highway. But I did it.

Pleased with myself, I was the first one to arrive. But hot on my heels the rest arrived, and soon we were a lovely group.

It was once more established that the best way to get my attention when I'm looking at your books is to shout "Cookie!" Hence, that's my new nickname. And to those of you who play World of Warcraft...no, I'm not a Murloc. *grins* Not even a Snow Murloc.

We ended up going out for pizza, which was fairly okay. *grins*

Upon arriving back at the apartment, we all sat down to watch Princess Bride. I love that movie. It didn't matter too much that it didn't have subtitles, I still watched and enjoyed.

A while later, we played a couple rounds of a game called Munchkin. Pretty fun stuff. First time around, I won, but that was just beginner's luck. Second round took forever. And I was squarely beaten.

Somehow, in between all the chatting, gaming and watching of stuff, it was past midnight, and I ended up driving home.

I got quite lost, and took the long way home, but I did it. So I was tired, wet and proud when I arrived home. (It was raining something fierce.)

Sunday, which was spent with my dear ahofschu, was crowned by picking mom up. She'd gotten home from her vacation, and was quite glad to be home.

Monday and Tuesday were both spent with my dearly beloved as well, all in all very good.

Today, I surprised my mom and made her co-worker envious by making dinner. *laughs* He was so envious when he found out mom was coming home to a finished dinner. Now, it was nothing fancy, but I really have to repeat that feat sometime. Goddess knows, if I leave it to dad all the time, there'll be a lot of hot dog dinners. He's a lovely cook, he just ends up too exhausted to cook sometimes.

So it's been a good time so far, and I hope the week will continue to be this good.

Job search

No news yet.

I just hope the agencies will have dug something up by this coming Wednesday. It's almost a bit annoying how they keep me waiting. But I suppose that's what you get when two agencies need to be involved in everything. Both the financial aid people, and the ones who are actually finding the job.

I'd have hoped to find a job by September, but now I don't know how possible that still is. Meh.

Job search

Finally I got hold of the woman I needed to talk to. Being overworked and underpaid (as they all are), she'd not managed to get back to me yesterday. But she let me know that I'll be meeting with them this coming Wednesday, the 30th. Nice to see that the ball's finally rolling.

Who knows, sometime in September, I may have a job. At least I'm not losing my financial aid while looking. *laughs* Thank the Light for those mercies.

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Falmalire
snowelf
Eldalossë Súrilenda, the Snow Elf Sphynx

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