just life weeknotes

weeknotes, 11/23

– after all the packing and the cleaning, we arrived at the train station at 6am on wednesday, only to discover the railway workers were on strike and our train wasn’t going to come… so we drove north instead, which feels like a waste of gas and reading time, but it’s not the end of the world.

– we spent time at my parents, whose love language is cooking up a feast every time we’re home. this weekend was the camellia’s fair at their hometown, and the whole place was brimming with people and excitement. children were dressed up with flowers and marched in the main street, tv channels interviewed people… everyone seemed happy.

– the four-book saga of lila and lenu has finally come to an end, and i feel a little empty. i’ve been reading and listening to these books for three months now, following their lives as they unfold like a violent soap opera. the naples of 50 years ago felt like a vicious place, with forces pulling in all directions and conflict taking place in everyone’s doorstep. how small the world was back then (the size of a neighborhood), and how things have changed since, especially for women… i’ll miss these two, and their love-hate relationship.

– as a sidenote, it’s amazing how much i’ve read since i stopped reading fanfiction… which is to be expected, but i’m kind of blown away by it nonetheless. books are still not as satisfying as fanfiction for the most part… but i’m trying to branch out and explore different styles, find my way to the things and authors i like. it’s been fun!

– the new camera is here! it’s unbelievably slim, and unlike most cameras i’ve owned, the film rolls from right to left. i loaded it with a long-expired ilford pan that has been languishing in the fridge for years, and have been snapping away with it. can’t wait to see what comes out!

– this is a little ridiculous, but i’ve become the kind of person who is so sensitive to coffee that having tiramisu for dessert at dinnertime will keep me awake at night. sigh.

– one week until taiwan!!!!!

just life weeknotes

weeknotes, 10/23

the boy turned 42, and we celebrated with bolas de berlim!

i sent a couple of forgotten rolls of film to the lab, and the scans came back this week — both not great. failing cameras have been killing my photography mojo for sometime now, so while searching around for a new 35mm point and shoot, i stumbled on the reto ultra wide and slim (a remake of the old vivitar uws). the price was cheap, and the camera looked so thin it could probably fit into any pocket… so i went for it and ordered one. can’t wait to get it and run some rolls through it!

it’s two weeks until leave for taiwan, but we’re going to the north in a few days, so we’re in full packing mode already. in the middle of the frenzy, i got myself my first pair of paez, with a funky print. i really like alpargata-type of shoes for the sunny months.

this week has been all about interviewing people to help me with support at postcrossing. i’d never done this before, and it felt huge and difficult — conducting the interviews, choosing the person (and the prospect of telling others they’re not the chosen ones), mentally preparing to let go of bits of the job… we’re still very much in the beginning of it, but i have some hope that by this time next year, my days will be better.

our part-time cat, checking out the newly finished succulent garden.

just life weeknotes

weeknotes, 9/23

– our friends from russia came to visit us for a few days. it was really nice to see them again, to chat and to meet the newest member of the family, a 2-year old who is chatty and happy to engage with strangers, happy to lead them by the hand while saying “tuff tuff” (let’s go!). her vocabulary is really sweet — for instance, “ffff! fff!” (the sound of blowing air through her lips) means “to sleep”, and “miam miam” means “to eat”. even with the language barrier, we got along brilliantly!

– they brought lots of things from russia and uzbekistan for us to try, and one of them was half a kilo of pine nuts! pine nuts are just normal nuts in russia apparently, but here they are such a special commodity that their price is just astounding… i had never seen so many pine nuts together in my life! my favourites are definitely the sushkis though, the slightly sweetened hard cookies that you eat with tea.

– the boy’s allergies have been acting up a bit, which means a lot of wheezing in the night… and a lot of waking up for me. because of this, i thought to get myself some earplugs… but i don’t like that most are single use. while researching, i stumbled on reusable silicone earplugs that you mould to your ears and decided to try them out. they’re a bit like children’s playing putty: you roll them in your fingers to warm up and then just kind of stretch them on your earlobes, pushing a little to make a seal. the soundproofing is quite noticeable, and i’ve managed to get a few good nights of sleep this week. hurray!

– i also got a new bag and water bottle that i’m quite happy with. the back pain has been a bit bad this year, so when i saw this bag at ikea that looked like a cheap copy of the fjällräven that everyone seems to love, i went for it. the water bottle is just something i found randomly browsing online. it’s really light, and fits the bag perfectly. win-win!

– all the books i “read” this week were children’s books: todos fazemos tudo, um dia na praia and where the wild things are… but the book the kid most enjoyed was dr. seuss’s fox in socks, which our friends twisted their tongues to translate into russian, with hilarious results! :D


weeknotes, 7/23

– went to alentejo for a couple of days, to get out of home a little bit and explore different places. we stayed at a cheap-ish farmhouse with a super nice caretaker, got pampered by her breakfasts, got lost in the unpaved paths of the montes there, ate our weight in pork and migas, spotted some flocks of wintering golden plovers, and even took a selfie with the great bustard! well, not the real thing… sadly, the big bird continues to elude us, but we’re not discouraged and shall come back. 

– we watched the queen’s gambit, which made me realize chess seems to be much more of a game in which you study and memorize, than one where you just… play. it’s a little disappointing, but also intriguing. i still want to learn it.

– we ordered the little stones for the garden, so now all that is left to do is to put them there… all 7 tons of them. :| kind of eager to see the end result!

– we watched a tom scott video about chatGPT that was a kind of a fascinating wake-up call. i’ve tried the engine a few times and i’m still in awe of it — but like tom, it’s the kind of awe that makes me reel with the possibilities, that brings about the feeling of being on the edge of something big. being the kind of person who mostly writes (emails, posts) for a living, it’s dizzying to see a machine grasp the context of a query and draft a perfectly toned response to it. the implications of it are huge, and we’re only getting started.

– we went up to the hills here in tavira to have d. fernanda’s açorda de galinha, a soupy dish that mixes chicken, bread, chickpeas and mint. we hadn’t had it a long time, and it was really lovely to taste it again. it made me think that there are nice things to taste and explore at every corner, even in the corners we already know by heart… something we sometimes forget in the sameness of our days at home.

– i finished the third book of the neapolitan novels, half of it by reading the book itself, half on audiobook while i took care of the garden. some things in lina and lenu’s lives feel more settled, now that they’re adults with children, yet it all feels fragile and off at the same time… now only the final book is missing, and i’m ready for the conclusion. 

physicsgirl, one of the youtubers we subscribe to and enjoy, caught covid last year, then had long covid symptoms that morphed into me/cfs… which, to me, is one of the scariest diseases out there. :( it’s been on my radar for some time, as i interviewed someone with it some years ago, and ever since then, the random cruelty of it often comes to mind. out of nowhere, a virus attacks your body and leaves you debilitated and drained of energy to the point where you cannot walk, eat or even talk. it’s a disease that is relatively unknown and understudied, and for which there is no cure. it’s just heartbreaking.


weeknotes, 6/23

– phase 1 of the garden transformation is afoot: the garden has been sprayed with weed killers to rid it of the stubborn clover and grass. i’m not too keen on herbicide… but after 7 years of trying to unsuccessfully tame the weeds, i give up. it is what it is. next week we should order the little stones and the anti-grass cloth that goes underneath them. i’ve started planting the succulent patch on a reserved corner of the garden, but my dodgy back makes it slow going.

– the air fryer is still going strong! this week, besides roasting veggies for side dishes, we also did some zaatar chicken wings and also some creamy garlic chicken which were quite nice. i’m enjoying exploring it!

– started to knit a sweater for my future baby nephew! maybe knitting sweaters for small creatures will be more successful than knitting sweaters for grown-ups, which so far has proved beyond my patience and ability. i’m using these instructions, which seem simple enough.

– we started the process of hiring someone to help me with support at postcrossing. it’ll take time to interview, choose and onboard the new person, but at last i’ll get some help and (hopefully) stop being so overwhelmed by work all the time. it’s a start!

– i finished book #2 of the neapolitan novels, which invited a trip to the library to get some new books! i got book #3 of the series, then browsed the shelves for a long time and stumbled on a couple of books by portuguese authors (who, coincidentally, were themselves a couple). i love the library!

– we played the game with friends, and it was surprisingly challenging, despite the relatively simple mechanics.