In Close Quarters

When I was little, I was alone a lot. My parents were both working, and I had no siblings (other than my considerably older half brother who never lived with us). I taught myself how to read even before first grade simply as a way to kill the interminable hours my parents needed to do grown-up stuff. I remember envying my friend U. who shared a room with her two younger sisters – how amazing it must be to always have someone to talk to or play with! I loved it at their house, and I was there a lot. But of course even they had other things to do sometimes, and I remember walking the streets of my small home town many afternoons. I would check out shops, I’d visit the Natural History Museum close to our house, and I must have spent hours on the swing at the park close by, generally by myself.

Looking back, it seems bizarre how nobody seemed to feel I needed to be watched more. But evidently that’s how it was, and my parents certainly had enough shit on their plates, what with my dad’s chronic arthritis pain, my mom’s nervous breakdown and the massive cluster-fuck not being a party member in communist Romania entailed. But I do recall feeling lonely more often than not, and I suspect my decision to work from home was heavily influenced by my conviction that it’s a huge advantage to be available when the kids come home from school.

So why was I was thinking back to those days?  I just spent two rainy weeks at our house in the country with kids, cats & my husband who commuted to town to work every day. For the first time, we were the only ones there in our little country community. The other families were traveling or otherwise busy over fall break, and that left my daughter in pretty much the same predicament I remember so well from my childhood. There were a few grown-ups around, but no children to play with and to talk to about all the stuff that’s important to little girls. Now my daughter is not exactly an introvert, and if she’s bored or annoyed, everyone around her will know about it! So there I was trying to juggle her interests (8th birthday! Unbelievable but true…)

img_0232 an urgent proofreading assignment and my own stress relief. Tempers were short, and the weather got worse and worse, which resulted in a lot of time spent indoors.

Paradoxically, my strategy when cornered is always to withdraw even more. I like my headspace, and I need my alone time so I don’t turn into a sociopath. Does it get worse as I get older? Yup. Do people think I’m weird? Probably. Am I worried to end up a funny old lady who talks to herself? Not really. I mean, I’m pretty certain I will become that eccentric elderly person, but I’m not worried ;-). As for being bombarded with constant attention-seeking, conversation and needs – I don’t cope with that very well. At all.

I think both my daughter and I are probably fortunate to usually be surrounded by other family members and friends who act as deflector shields. It was an exhausting two weeks of perpetual push and pull. It may well have been the first break I was relieved to see come to an end, and this morning, waving goodbye when everybody left, I felt genuine relief at the prospect of 7 hours of not being talked to … and yet here I am, communicating with you on my blog. Humans are illogical, as Spock used to observe. (Cocking Vulcan eyebrow^).

Between birthday celebrations, cabin fever, stomach bugs and urgent deadlines – was there any time to do crafts? Why yes, there was! Let’s see. First, I finished these …

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… as well as these ‚welcome-home‘ socks. I made them during my daughter’s first class trip. I just love this hand-dyed yarn, it reminds me of glorious early summer roses:img_0194The yarn below was purchased in an attempt to capture some fall colors before they all go away. Check it out  – doesn’t it resemble the birthday bouquet I picked for my daughter?img_0224

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I’m making a very fluffy, soft cowl in brioche stitch, see? To give it a more orange shade, and to take the fluffiness to max level, S, the yarn shop lady, recommended adding a bright orange mohair yarn to the soft baby alpaca blend. Here’s how it’s turning out – I’m pleased despite having to work with such humongous needles, ugh.IMG_0339.JPG

Also, my old friend A. has a very cute new baby boy :-). So of course I went and bought yarn for a pair of stripy socks and hat. It’s a beautifully soft merino and silk blend, and it should keep young C.H. nice and warm. Here’s how far I’ve gotten:

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My daughter chose the color combo because I couldn’t make up my mind that day, and since it’s such a very classic design with the navy-and-white, I’m pulling a little color sequence switcheroo – can you see?

Last but not least, I fell in love with this rainbow yarn, look:

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I’m planning to make quite a few kids‘ socks from this beauty. You can never have too many rainbows in your life, am I right?

I can not believe it’s just a matter of weeks until Christmas, can you? I always feel that over the last couple months of the year, time keeps accelerating. I already know I’ll have to speed-walk through November to get my stuff done. But hopefully, I’ll be able to slow down a bit again in December. A girl can dream.

I always seem to end my fall posts with a toadstool pic – can’t help myself, they’re just so pretty.

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Have a good November, and of course: Happy Halloween everyone …

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I Can Eat Zucchini Too, Dammit

Every year, it’s the same. Summer’s here, and with it an abundance of fruit to choose from (Strawberries! Cherries! Raspberries!) Once the strawberries start to peter out, I’m OK, because we get peaches, grapes, fresh apples and pears, yay! So I’m all set on the fruit front.

I love fruit and vegetables the summer season has to offer, and I enjoy eating salad every day, buying fresh eggplants, new potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes that don’t taste like rain (that’s what my dad used to say, and he was rarely wrong about food) … all good, were it not for the dratted green-peeled, really productive but (to me anyway) bland-tasting vegetable my husband and his garden are forcing on me. Try as I might, I just don’t love them :-/. And for that, we do get a lot of them, sigh. This one was forgotten for 2 weeks, and I will say that it looks kind of impressive. I’ve shied away from cooking it – it just seems too big to be tasty, even those who love Zucchini have said so.

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There was a smaller one right next to it on the plant, and since I was feeling hungry just a half hour ago, charitable, inspired and what not, I decided to give it a chance. As you know, I try to stay away from carbs whenever I can, so pasta was not an option for lunch, and it’s horrible outside so I wasn’t feeling like salad either. So I dug out one wedge of a vegetable I do love (Hokkaido pumpkin) and another I don’t (guesses?) from my vegetable cooler, as well as a shallot, some ginger root and a bit of leftover Feta cheese. I sauteed the cubed stuff in olive oil, and lo and behold, with a bit of sage and black pepper, it didn’t turn out that badly. Actually, it was pretty good. :-). This may be the Hokkaido pumpkin’s doing (I love that in every way you can eat it: soup, risotto topping, stuffed, baked, or – case in point – cubed and fried). But all in all I just had a nice lunch, despite the fact that half of it consisted of a piece of Zucchini. Check it out:

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Feeling proud of myself for getting over myself, I needed to share this with the class. Which reminds me of a really lovely pop song from quite a few years back – smile, and listen to Heather Small:

Proud