...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

From fish to nilaga with lots of things in between

Pretty huh? I got this from Liz and Rob for Christmas. For such a pretty thing, it’s actually a ceramic hot pad for putting warm pots on. I love the movement of the school of fish across it, the different colors, the bubbliness of the water, and that the fish seem to be happily swimming along.

I saw it at the Christmas market at Schwezingen, where it stuck out among mode impersonal geometric designs. It turns out that the seller himself had actually made this piece, and we talked to him as he ate his goulash dinner from a thermos. Hard job, this, to be in a stall all day. He said that the different colors were actually different thicknesses of glaze. There was no story behind him choosing a fish pattern. Maybe that just goes to show that not all pretty things have to have an underlying thought. So, these fish have a mass-produced kind of nature, but also – in having met its maker – also had the character of a handicraft.

When we ended the conversation, we biked out of the market with Liz 12 Euros poorer and with the fish wrapped in newspaper, inside a plastic bag on my bike handle.

- - -

Lea asked me yesterday what my projects were for 2014. Since 2012, I have tended to see my new years as an opportunity to make to-do-projects for myself, to pursue my own personal goals. Rather than making resolutions (which anyway shouldn’t just be done in January every year), I make a list of a number of things that I would like to experience or accomplish during the year. It could be something that I want to improve on, or a dream of a travel destination. It could be a training- or work goal, or an ambition to learn something new. During the course of the year, these projects also have a way of leading into new goals.

2012 was a year of indifference to fear, and at the same time a search for some kind of juice in life. I took my Swedish license and bought my own car. I started strength training again and hiked a lot to prepare for hiking in the Swedish mountains. I also challenged my own discomfort with water to new heights, and I learned to paddle a kayak and to swim crawl. I even hopped from a diving platform for the first time in my life. Behind this I guess I also wanted to test the limits of mental toughness. I enrolled in a survival course and a military weekend that autumn (And actually, they were quite alright, too!).

When I home on New Year’s Eve after celebrating Christmas in the Philippines, I felt a sense of hope. 2013 for me has been a year of optimism and a belief in the future. Many of my goals also had to do with improvement, and many of them also became good shared memories with friends. I improved my balance on skates (with a slippery start in Valla’s ice oval!), learned to ski better (also in powdery snow!), and even tried downhill skiing for the first time. I discovered during downhill skiing that I’m not as indifferent to fear as last year, even though my past successes give me hope that I can learn. I also ran my first marathon and climbed Sweden’s highest mountain in good time before turning 30 - Hoorah! (Yes, that reminds me: I have to blog about that climb one day. Haha!). These experiences have contributed to a lot of joy in my life this year. Anything is possible!

Some scenes from this year's New Year's walk in the city. 

- - - 

It’s 2014 now. Time to think ahead again. This year’s big thing is the dissertation. In some ways this is even bigger than my previous projects, just because I get a title from it :-) Ending the thesis also seems a good way to start the first quarter of the year: I see a clear goal, and I can almost taste it now. Funnily the next half of the year is a big unknown terrain yet where work is concerned. Hopefully there will be full- or part time research- or teaching positions open in my university (and in my field) by spring. Otherwise, it’s up to me to apply for post-doc funding to place here or elsewhere (depending on the conditions attached to the post-doc). The prospect of moving isn’t very tempting though.

So the first on my 2014 project-list is: 

(1) Finish my dissertation. Make it as good as you can do it. Graduate and get a job within the university.

I’ve also thought of other projects, but they kind of pale in comparison to graduating. But here they are anyway:

(2) Set up radio, do DX-ing. I already contacted my landlord about the possibility of setting up an antenna.

(3) Load my film camera with film (two whole years after Lea delivered it here!). Start taking pictures with the film camera, learn the basics. As a motivation, maybe post some of the best results online.

(4) Cook more. Not just lunchbox food, but good ole’ home-cooked Sunday meals like I used to have time for. Started today by defrosting a whole chicken. Half of it became nilaga (Sunday chicken soup), and the other half became some thai dish (future lunchbox item). I love cooking and I should invest more time into it.

(5) I also have a fifth project at the back of my head but seems impossible in this rainy winter. I got money from M&M to enroll in a skiing course, since I want to improve. If this waits till next season is something that’s up to the weather. On the other hand, since I’m all busy finishing my dissertation right now, I don’t actually mind a dry and unexciting winter weather outside.

That’s it for now. Let’s see what the next half of the year brings job-wise so maybe I can start planning other things too.

 Not the fish, but chicken in the nilaga. Just posting it because I'm to eat it now :-)


Blogger Vicky G said...

Joy, happy new year!!!! Good luck with the projects, looking forward to your film photos :) I'm getting a new camera to force myself to take photos, so we'll see about that.

Also, hope all goes well with your dissertation! Mike (my husband na di mo pa na-meet, hehe) has been through it and I know how crazy it could be. Ako ang taga-edit nya dati pero with the formatting lang, obviously not with the content, hahaha

Yun lang! Hope to read more about your projects in the coming year! And I plan to re-consider my goals this year as projects because it makes so much more sense to think of them as such ;)

10:07 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Hej Cheryl! (Why do I still keep on calling you that? Haha!) Hey, are you still blogging? A quick visit to your blog and I see that the last one is from june 2013, haha!

Thanks for rooting for me! I must say, proofreading articles are a good way to get to know the content though. Or get to know your husband's work. Hope to meet Mike one day! I have plans of going to QC this year, will talk to you.

And way to go for still checking on me here! :-D Blogz not dead. Hahaha!

12:08 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

P.S. Vicky, does it ever occur to you that these blogs are just like those long letters we used to write in gradeschool? Well I guess I'm still at it after all these years :-D

12:09 PM

Blogger Vicky G said...

Joy! I don't know what happened to the previous comment I left!

I moved to a couple of blogs because I wanted to try wordpress: viewfromwednesday.wordpress.com and vanillaandcheese.wordpress.com. The second one is supposedly a shared blog with Mike but he never updated it, so now I'm stuck with it. Hahahaha.

I have a functional understanding of Mike's dissertation and can bluff my way with other people about it. Haha! And you're right, I never thought blogging is like our long letters from grade school, but it is! I'll try to remember that when I find myself feeling bleagh to write.

Let me know when you visit Manila and I'll see about timing a visit with you! :D

11:10 AM


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