I had a list of things I wanted to buy in the USA - so many things you only realize you miss once you don't have them anymore. Most of those I ordered online - it's one of the many advantages of staying with friends, you can ask them to send stuff to their address. There more advantages to that, of course: proper duvets instead of tucked in hotel blankets (which I deeply hate); a possibility to cook (pasta with salmon in cream sauce and pancakes were on the menu this time); someone to share hard apple ciders with so you can try more; great conversations; pokemon go geekery; the feeling of coming home because you've visited this person so often in the last years.

But back to things - this is what this particular magpie brought back:

Read more... )
I know, cooking posts in such a quick succession! But I just need the creativity outlet that cooking gives me. Plus I am making photos of a lot of the staples that I cook for the first time here in Leiden, things that I do not photograph when I cook them the second or the twentieth time. Although the definition of "staple" is an interesting one once you hit a certain number of recipes - my "yummy" folder alone contains 90 PDFs and there are tons and tons of dishes that I don't have a written recipe for, from pancakes to plov (in two rather different variations), from baked fish to endless variations on "classic" salads. So even a staple can sometimes only return onto the menu after a year. Or have to wait until I'm in a country that has a certain ingredient readily available.

Anyway, less talking, more food. As always: if you are interested in a certain recipe, let me know, I am glad to either provide a link or to try to write it down:



Grapefruit cake that I made with N. It was nice and moist (this was the first time I soaked a cake with extra juice - I was hesitant but it worked greatly) and all around delicious. Having a loaf pan is a great thing.

24 more )

my people

Apr. 5th, 2017 06:01 am
pax_athena: (Default)
So I asked myself what's the worst thing that can happen and that would be to loose my little community - you folks keep me sane and functioning. Given how a few people I cherish went DW only, I will be cross-posting, I think. And keep an independent archive of my LJ to keep all the comments. Filters etc. will be set up once I have a bit more breathing room and am not in meetings 12 hours out of 24 and jet-lagged.
Tags:
Hello from Shiphol. Yes, an airport again. I may be functioning on less than three hours of sleep. It was kind of my fault - I knew there is something that needs to be done by today 4 PM (actually by today 10 AM but in a different time zone) and that I did not want to risk finishing the work on the plane, i.e, count on WiFi being available. And well, instead of doing the work I went on an extended shopping tour.

But then - if you pack for an important trip and realize you hate all your non-jeans pants at the moment, what else are you to do? Well, not true about hating all of them, but none of them felt like one of the two pairs of pants (the other being the dark jeans) I wanted to pack. I knew this was long coming - my non-jeans pants tend to be wider, the kind of wider classic trousers, very conservative side of business casual, whatever. And everyone in freaking Netherlands seems to be wearing the skinny version and yes, I am not immune to being constantly confronted with a certain look that I also like. But I was hoping to avoid this; I do have enough pants and sometimes this kind of urges just go away once I waited a few months. This one clearly did not.
Anyway, now I am a proud owner of skinny business-like trousers that are almost ankle length - short enough to look fun with both sneakers and oxfords and even afford some glimpses of red socks (packed two pairs), but not short enough to give me the feeling that my legs would freeze. I am very particular about feet not being too cold or too warm.
I want to wear them all the time now. (I haven't worn them a single one yet. Let's hope that the decision to buy and take them with me will not turn out to be a wrong one.)

I also looked around for good red ballet flat. No chance - not unexpectedly, I've been on lookout for some for a while now and could not find a pair I liked, not even online. Both C&A have cheap pairs though (both with a bow - a no-go for me - and both terribly uncomfortable) so I have hopes that I may have more luck this summer. I really, really need a pair, I have a thousand outfits that only work with red ballet flat. I miss my old ones :( (but they were falling apart).

*****

I still love clothes as a creative outlet. But man, do I understand the appeal of just having a uniform or a tiny capsule wardrobe. I would be unhappy with one but sometimes I just wish ...

*****

I'm also kind of missing the outfit posts from last year. I enjoyed them. Actually, I tried to keep making them but in winter there is absolutely no natural light in my apartment in the mornings - or in the evenings, by the time I come home. And it just does not work with the lamplight in my bedroom.
There is plenty of it even at 7 AM right now. But do I want to add another five minutes to my morning routine? Outfit photos vs. five more minutes of sleep or a glimpse into Internet in the morning? Hmmm.

*****

We'll see. And in the meantime I hope I can get some sleep on the plane. Maybe staying awake for so long was not a bad idea and will help me shift to east coast time sooner. Also i have dinner today with people whom I haven't seen for a few month now and have dearly missed. I want to board sooner and then be done with the flight and the airport security and the looong taxi ride to where I need to go.

(At least I used the long night yesterday for two useful things besides the actual work that needed to be finished: a) to do my nails which are b) re-activate my US-phone so I can continue playing pokemon go, partly with my friends there.)
I kind of feel strange - here I am, posting about Iceland while sitting in our airbnb in Naples and having written most of the text of this post in the train to Paris. I've never expected this to be my life and I am pretty sure I am not going to keep this pace for long (neither want not be able to), but for the moment ... Well.



Just a random shot along the road (it's all the ring road). Isn't the landscape just gorgeous?


Read more... )


And in case you want more - previously in the Iceland holiday series: goats, surfaces/pattern/colors and Reykjavik to Höfn, counterclockwise.

Paris 2017

Mar. 21st, 2017 10:14 pm
pax_athena: (birds)
I walked 24 km on Saturday and 15 on Sunday. On Monday, I gave a talk in the morning and spent the rest of Monday and the whole of Tuesday pretty much in non-stop discussion with old and new-to-me colleagues, bouncing off ideas, discussing possible projects, trying to understand each other's approaches, interrupted only when the core group of the four of us were sharing funny stories about things that happened at this conferences or that meeting or sad/scared/desperate musings on world politics (understandably, between an American, a German living in the Netherlands and two French people).

I spent all the time pretty much non-stop with J. (yes, half of my friends seem to have names starting with this letter) - which was a bit of a risk: being the kind of people who, by our nature, need long to become friends with someone (friendships were something that we talked about on one of the mornings), we only grew closer towards the end of my stay in the USA. But it was amazing. I never ever want to miss the people I met through science having been part of my life, no matter where I go next. (And funnily, this J. and I are usually on different sides of many scientific discussions, but it does not stop us from liking each other).

The weekend program consisted of Sainte Chapelle (somehow I missed what to expect from the Sainte Chapelle and was, when we entered the lower half, deeply convinced that this was it; my gasp once we entered the main chapel may have been very loud), the museum of Asian art (I need so much more time here), Louvre (I need a year here, at least; this time with the Vermeer special exhibition) and the catacombs. We've eaten at a basque place (less good than last time - last time was the first time I had tripe in my life and I fell in love with it), a random tiny&homey maroccan place (tajine, couscous, mint tea and an appertizer of which we don't know what it was - but it was amazing) and a fancy French place with an amazing dessert, intense cheeses and tongue for a starter.

I was a Vermeer fangirl (even though the exhibition highlighted mainly a very certain motif in his paintings): a set of coasters (that contain my favorite, "The Little Street"), a magnet, a postcard and a poster/print (all of "the astronomer", I clearly could not have passed on this one). Also, the French know their fashion - I took home a long-sleeved blouse (white), a sleeveless shirt-blouse (red), a sleeveless shirt/untershirt with thin but not spaghetti straps that finally fits the way I want, and a short black sweater with bird applications (that I did not need but that looked freaking good on me). All bought why I had to wait - because no, I did not really want to waste my limited time on shopping but when at the train station an hour too early or having fifteen minutes to kill waiting for your partner in crime to arrive but not able to check in into the hotel yet ...

A few impressions:



Sainte Chappelle.

9 more )


[eda:] When leaving the house on Saturday, I realized that I forgot my power cable at home - I went back and lo-and-behold, there as not also my power cable, still plugged in (I have an extra one at work so I usually don't need to pack it), but also my wallet, still waiting quietly on the shelf next to the door. And 10 minutes before leaving the Paris institute, I realized that I am missing my wallet. The last time I could remember seeing it was when I took it out of the pocket in the bathroom, to prevent it plunging into the toilet. Luckily, we caught up with the secretary on the stairs. Two minutes later and I would have been stuck in Paris, about to cross two country borders (France/Belgium and Belgium/Netherlands) without an ID. Not to mention all my cards, but I've been least worried about them at this point.

well ...

Mar. 14th, 2017 02:21 pm
pax_athena: (headdesk)
I guess I just realized that there is a point at which I would consider moving away from here: if me seeing the "promo in feed" thing on my friends' list is not a strange hiccup of programming but something that is going to happen from now on, in spite of me having a permanent account ... Yes, I am allergic to advertisement, especially when I paid to be rid of it.

Not a thing I wanted to be forced to contemplate.

(FYI: for me, it's always the fifth entry on my friends' list. [eda:] And now it's gone. Let's see what the support people say. [eda2:] and now it's back again.).

[hopefully final eda:] They say it was a temporary issue that has been solved. See here. Well, let's hope that this was not a sign of things to come ...
Tags:
Four book recommendations - they are all very different books and all very much worth reading:

I. There should be a collective noun for gems like these stories are: Susan Palwick "The Fate of Mice"

I've stumbled over Palwick's name several times in Gardner Dozois' the best SF of the year collections - and her stories never failed to touch in that particular way that I want a short story to. And here is a collection of stories that are utterly different - some pure fantasy, other realistic, thirds fairy tale-like, forth soft science fiction - but each touch the reader. I'm sad that her body of work is so small and am considering picking up her novels even though neither of them would have interested me if they were by a different writer. But I want to read more by her.

II. Human nature through the lens of speculative fiction: Naomi Alderman "The Power"

I'm not gonna to tell you what the book is about - because telling you more than the blurb says will be spoiling it. So I will repeat roughly what [personal profile] luna_puella told me: I spent the first half of the book half-cheering. And the second horrified, realizing where this was heading to (but not realizing how far the author would go describing the way there). Over on goodreads, my review started with a long list of the things the book does wrong - and a giant warning for sexual violance but yes, it is more than necessary here (and here I was, thinking this sounded like young adult - ahahahah. Not at all.) And it still got five stars.

III. Life and art after a terror attack: Catherine Meurisse "Die Leichtigkeit / La légèreté"

This one has not been translated into English - I would like to say "yet", but I also do not see this happening, unfortunately. I would not know many French comics that make it into the English market, which is such a loss. But if you know French or German, read it.
Don't let the pastel tones of the cover deceive you: Catherine Meurisse was one of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. So she is direct and sometimes gross and utterly able to sum what needs to be said in one panel and a few words. But what needs to be said if most of your closest friends and colleagues are suddenly dead? If the only reason you escaped the same fate was the fact that you missed a train - because you could not get out of bed? How do you live with the hole they left in your life? How do you find your way back into art when the place where you've done art for the last ten years has been so utterly absolutely destroyed - and is it at all something you should be thinking about given the loss of life?

IV. The cruelty of innocence: Ágota Kristóf "Das große Heft / The Notebook / Le grand cahier"

Here I am, trying to make you want to read the book and failing. Perhaps because it was so utterly different from what I expected it to read - short and icy and easily read but oh so hard to digest. It has also been a while seen I read anything that had such a masterful command of language - not a word too much, not a sentence that would not be there for a purpose, not a single misstep in the well calculated format of the novel.
The twins are utterly innocent - and utterly cruel and both things are two sides of the same coin. They learn - to write only the truth (and only things that are well defined are true) and to be utterly still and to bear pain. Do they love? Perhaps, but love is not a well defined word and thus not true. Neither is hate. But they help - and they kill. They lie and they blackmail - but they live, not only when the war is raging around them, but even when the peace descends, swallowing all. And they write, only the truth, as we read it.

(Look, another entry from an airport! Also, all links go to goodreads. Feel free to add me there if we are not friends there yet! It's my other internet addiction. Especially their recommendations functions.)

(no subject)

Mar. 12th, 2017 10:45 am
pax_athena: (shawl)
Sorry for not posting/commenting much. In Germany, still ill but also busy and not allowed[*] to use the laptop:

IMG_20170311_224319860.jpg

three more )


[*] by the neighbor
Isn't it fun how your cooking in every place is somewhat different? Or is it just me? Of course it' the question of the groceries you can actually get (easily) in a certain place but also of kitchen equipment (I do not have a microwave here, so anything that needs to be heated up in a microwave is work lunch - but I do have a loaf cake form now) and just the general feeling of a place. My apartment is rather cold, so I make a lot of soups, which also have the advantage of not needing a microwave to heat them, and oven-baked things. There is also a lot of space in my fridge so things get frozen - today for breakfast, I had two slices of a fruit&nut loaf that I made some four weeks ago, for example.

Anyway, here are the things I made in Leiden, at least the beginning of them. Except, for some reason, I did not make a single photos of potatoes with herb quark even though I ate them a ton. I have so missed quark!
I have more photos but the post is overloaded as it is already. More to come soon! (I also definitely preferred the light in the Somerville apartment; definitely made better photos. I know I could learn to make better photos but I am lazy and, when I make the photos, usually too hungry to wait. See the potatoes that never made it to being photographed at all.)

25 photos of foooooood )
Tags:

positives

Feb. 20th, 2017 10:01 pm
pax_athena: (for you)
  • Yoga makes me wide awake. Which is annoying on one side given how the yoga courses I can attend are all from 6 to 7:30, I only get home at 8:15 and actually want to be in bed, reading, by 10 PM. And cool on the other, because I do feel awake and good.
  • Dutch museums are the best (things to remember: the white melted styrofoam sculpture; visitor reactions being incorporated into the exhibition; the 1000 years old ship; the man with the swan and the different readings of the same artwork). Also, the museums-card is the best because it allows all those wonderful short visits.
  • Utrecht is indeed pretty! So much Art Nouveau! Such cool more modern building, such harmony between the different ages! And has a feminist academic-flavored bookstore that I may be a bit in love with. (Got two novels and did not get a book on linguistics although I was very tempted.) Thank you so much, [livejournal.com profile] luna_puella for realizing that I would love it!
  • My new hand blender is the best. After the first I bought turned out to be such a failure, I got a 600W one. And oh, frozen kiwis? Give me 20 seconds and they are wonderfully incorporated into a smoothie.
  • Also, I now have a partner in crime for Michelin-star adventures in Amsterdam. I guess I am at the point in my life where I do have special friends for going to expensive restaurants with. Now we only need to figure out when both of us have free - we have already agreed that weekends are a no-go and are likely harder to book anyway.
  • And to counteract what people keep telling about Dutch food: it may be often breads and salads, but I haven't had a bad salad (i.e. the typical pile of iceberg lettuce with a few tomatoes and something that resembles meat on top) here yet. I am very happy. (That said, I do find my colleagues eating bread with chocolate and sugar sprinkles for lunch ... strange. I do get it as a desert from time to time, but not for lunch every day.)

trinities[*]

Feb. 17th, 2017 06:59 pm
pax_athena: (touchy)
  • Three things on the news that make me despair[**]:
    • American politics
    • Dutch politics
    • Poll numbers of the German Greens
  • Three things that gave me warm fuzzy work feelings:
    • The support of my colleagues for my candidacy for the staff association
    • That talk invitation (that also makes a very awkward trip a lot easier)
    • Witty e-mail conversations with a bunch of my favorite people
  • Three things this weekend that I am looking forward to and am somewhat intimidated by:
    • Fancy lunch with someone I only ever met at a couple of conferences (and who isn't in science anymore) but who shares my love for good food later today.
    • Good-bye party of a colleague tomorrow.
    • Meeting with a local LJ-friend (*winkwink*) the day after tomorrow.
  • Three things I ordered online recently:
    • A blender (because the one I bought wasn't working properly - I have better hopes for this one).
    • Two pairs of jeans and two black turtleneck sweaters (keeping only a pair of jeans, unfortunately; I needed a good black turtleneck more, alas ...)
    • 10 books (all by women, all but one foreign)
  • Three trips in March:
    • Rosenheim
    • Paris
    • Naples
  • Three homemade things in my freezer:
    • Cauliflower soup
    • Pasta bake
    • Minipancakes
  • Three things on my phone that make me happy:
    • WhatsApp (because friends far away)
    • Pokemon Go (because Generation 2 Pokemon since today!)
    • That new word-game in "Peak" where I reached the legendary status now
  • Three museums I've been to so far:
    • Sieboldhuis Leiden (Japanese Museum) for the Kunisada Exhibition
    • NEMO Science Museum Amsterdam (OMG! Live chain reaction!)
    • Fries Museum Leeuwarden for the Alma-Tadema exhibition


[*] Of course, if I use the word "trinity" I mean this one, which is one of my usual recommendations if people ask for a great self-contained series within the DC universe.
[**] No, discussion not welcome.
I spent the week at the most useless meeting ever - seriously, if you invite people, have a plan of what you want to accomplish and how to get there. You may want to change it once you see how things develop, but have a plan. Don't ask people you invited "so what do we do next?". Argh. Those are five days I will never get back - and the older I get and the longer I work in this field (and realize that the first week I can host a certain visitor from Spain is in July - everything else is already planned out in some way!), the more I believe that time is the most expensive thing you can ask from people is their time. And to add insult to injury, I also got to enjoy sleet (in its British English meaning not the American English one) for the three hours that I had to explore Bern.

Anyway, it was not only awful. At least I spent some of the evenings with a friend an another person I like, drinking - beer in their case, coke in mine, since Switzerland does not really do cider in tiny corner cafes - and talking. And on my way there, I met with [livejournal.com profile] nefertina86 who was a joy to talk to and introduced me to my new addiction, Luxembuergerli (think tiny macarons). (Plus I got another visit by an (LJ) friend sorted out minutes before my own flight started!)

Now I am looking forward to the market tomorrow, friends coming over for dinner and pandemic on Sunday and cooking with another friend on Monday (I have a terribly early meeting in Amsterdam on Tuesday, so I will be sleeping at her place which will save me about an hour time in the morning - yay for friends who understand this). And here is what I want to cook on Sunday as well as a few other new recipes I loved from the last half a year or so:

Red Pesto Ravioli with roasted tomatoes [vegetarian; can be made vegan by leaving out goat cheese and using vegan pasta]
This one is back from when 101cookbooks was a great work - an old favorite that I never linked to and that I am going to make for my friends. A great vegetarian dish that is especially good for entertaining: easy to make but looks and tastes very sophisticated.
Don't leave out the roasted tomatoes, they are awesome and really make the dish shine. You can simplify the dish by using normal pasta instead of ravioli and just going for some red pesto or tapenade with the roasted tomatoes; the simplified version is my favorite way to use up old, soft tomatoes (cherry tomatoes work best but others are OK, too.).

10 more recipe recs )
Sometimes you read a poem and it makes you cry rives- even if it is likely just some online meme, even of you read it for the x-th time:



(Sorry, in Russian and I will not even try to translate it. If somebody on my list wants to, give it a shot. I absolutely can't.)
I don't think I have ever, in my whole life, have been upset with the past-me. It's not like I make good decisions only but I also deeply believe that whatever decision I made was the right in the given moment - the fact that I often hate making decisions and spend hours agonizing over even the smallest ones sometimes helps. Or maybe just not making some necessary ones because it's too hard to tell whether I am going down the wrong path or not - which is then again not a good thing, but this is not about this.

I'm pretty thankful to the past-me who thought that a water-resistant phone sounded good, cleverly deducing that future-me may drop it somewhere. Yeah, I did. No, back pockets are really not a good place for phones. They fall out there. Yet my Moto is still alive and well.

There is also the moment in the evening when I force myself away from the living room and the computer, into the bedroom and towards a book and away from the monitors. I'm not always good at this and the general feeling is "but I still had nothing of the evening!", but it's mostly worth it. (Sometimes it helps that the bedroom, being small, is easier to get warm than the living room.)

There is also the fact that right now I mostly manage to reduce the time from my alarm clock sounding to getting out of the door to 50 minutes (I know this is a lot for some, but it's little for me) and part of it is daily due to last-evening-me actually pre-cutting all my snack veggies and putting them away in a box in the fridge.

Yesterday, I spent the evening making fist a lentil and sweet potato dal with rice tat I packed away for the lunches during the week and then mini-frittatas (in a newly bough muffin tin) and freezing them - for some reason, I crave warm breakfast at work. Last month, a while before leaving for the holidays, I made a giant bunch of syrniki, the last of which I ate on Friday. By the way, if someone has recipes for breakfast foods that can be warmed up in the microwave (we don't have a toaster so things like bagels or toast are out and so are scones if I want them warm; I do generally not like oatmeal although maybe I should try again), they are more then welcome. I'm drawing a blank - I could imagine making rice pudding or warming up normal pancakes instead of syrniki, but that's almost it.

I employ the same approach committing to social things of which I know that I will enjoy them but that my future-me will flinch away from them if she had to make the decision right before (right now I am fretting over D. visiting later today and staying over and hating my past-me for committing, but I know this will pass). I now need to apply this to some of my work/science/career (update CV, make some things for future projects, address some thing I hate and keep delaying because yes, I can) - I think this will be my approach for the next months. Do more things that make future-me's life easier (it helps that my new computer is to arrive on Monday and I will have to spend time setting everything up; and I do mean everything this time, not half-done jobs and "I will finish this later", it never happens).

books '16

Jan. 3rd, 2017 10:34 pm
pax_athena: (book vault)
That was a good reading year both in terms of numbers and in terms of what the books meant to me. I also ended up rocking the read-two-thirds-books-by-women resolution with 46 out of 2016 books with a female first authors (two of those were co-writes with a man). But it has also been a year of a lot of comfort reads: see all the Terry Pratchetts and Agatha Christies and bad romance novels (even though "Trade Me" does not fall unto this - it's romance, but it tries, as far as I can tell as someone who is not usually into the genre - to do something that the genre does not usually do and is very, very good at it, for a romance book).

I've given up the balance between the different languages (partly because of all the books I could get in English, now that I am back in Europe it should be easier to include more German and Russian again; partly because of all the comfort reads that happen in English - I guess this will depend on what the year is like). My plan for 2017 is to read more internationally - more authors who do _not_ come from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, UK, or USA (recommendations, especially for books by women, are still welcome here), which will also likely mean reading more in German since this is my preferred language for translations.

Anyway, before I ramble on, the books. As usual, recommendations highlighted in color, points are out of five with zero a possible mark:

65 books )


After struggling with reading this year, my goal were a more modest 52. But I managed to find my reading muse again (partly but just taking time to read in bed every night) and managed 65 even though there were books that took again to finish - like the amazing dark money, that did cost me a whole month, but was more than worth it. I talked about "Lean In" and how, if you are hesitating because of the media coverage of the book, you totally should get it - and yes, it may make you upset with yourself for not reading it before. "101 Things I Learned in Architecture School" is the perfect bathroom read - and gives you a ton of insight into how architecture works.

"The Man Who Sold the Moon" is a novella, available online, and if you like science fiction, you should read it - it's one of those stories that made me cry so hard and was worth every tear. "Jagannath" is hard to get in print - keep an eye out for the author, there is a ton of promise there (she also translates her own work from Swedish to English and talks about it in the afterword for those interested in translation and language and the interplay with literature). I did not expect to love "Uprooted" as much as I did, but it was absolutely glorious. "Beetle in the Anthill" is an incredible clever rumination on human nature, security and fear of the unknown (and now that I write this micro-review down I realize how important this book is today) - extremely condensed essence of science fiction. "The Giver" is a classic and I understand why and I have decided to ignore that any of the books that come afterwards exist, because this is not how I interpret the ending (and not how I would have interpreted it if I had read the book when younger).

"Visitation" is painful and very German in more than one way; people who will have to read it in school may hate it - a few will love it and yes, this book should be taught. "Winternähe" is the best text I know on being German and Jewish (or Jewish and German) and young today; there is a passage in this book that I need to post, a paragraph I want to make everyone remember.

"Dear Committee Members" is hilarious and another one I recommended before - and that a few people who either followed my recommendation or whom I physically gave the book loved (in at least a case enough to pass it on to several colleagues - I have no idea whether I will get it back at any point, but that's OK, I'm fine with buying it a second time). "Illness as Metaphor" was a surprise - somehow I did not expect to like it that much; it was also one of the books where I actually needed a dictionary on several occasions, this does not happen often. "Arcadia" does work much better on stage than as a text and I had the luck to see an amazing production in the Central Square Theatre (which I terribly miss now). "Childhood fourty nine" is Ulitskaya at her best, wonderfully illustrated.

"Vicious", "City of Angels or the Overcoat of Dr. Freud" and "Warchild" should get honorary mentions; both are not total recommendations, but still books that I have a lot of feelings about - of very different kind given how different the books are, of course.

Anyway, let's see what the new reading year will bring, right?!

Lists from previous years are here: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.
old.jpg

-- my grandmother, my mother, me, my father --


My grandmother has been stripped of her name three times and of two years of her life: first time when her first given name was erased and she made two years younger to be able to keep attending school during World War II. Second time when her first name was turned into a Russian one. Third time when, once she reclaimed her second first name after the end of SU, the "Ș" that her name started with (pronounced as a "sh") was written as a "S" (pronounces as the "z" in "zoo") once we moved to Germany (there is no "Ș" in German). She died being two years younger on paper than she really was.

***

In a way, I am more worried now: my mother has been taking care of my grandma at what pretty much accounted to full time (even if taking care meant sitting there for a few hours in the late evening so she would not be alone - but imagine this every day, year after year and think about how much emotional labor that is) for the last eight years. There is a hole in her life she will need to fill now - and she is, in a way, in the very state my grandma was when we came to Germany: retired, without much social contact, not being able to afford almost anything social. Her health is failing and so is my father's.
I more than vividly remember what it means if my mother slides deep into depression. And she is older now, more fragile. And I am not there to deal with it (and can't be there to deal with it; the distance to the people who need you is a steep price to pay - don't ever underestimate it).
I am so, so, so worried.

***

I do not think I will be able to eat döner kebab for a while. I ordered börek when we stopped at the Turkish fast food store the day before yesterday - last time that I've been to Germany, my mother and I bought two döners, because my grandmother wanted one (no, she was not supposed to eat spicy and could not eat half of it at once - but she liked it). So I ate a garlicky döner and spent a lot of time brushing my teeth afterwards because I actually was in A. there for a dentist appointment.

***

I still cry at random moments (it's almost funny - I would not have thought that this would be my reaction).

Do you know how every apartment or house has it's own very special smell? We came home after half-emtying my grandmothers apartment and I breathed in ♥'s place in R. - and then it hit me that I will never smell my grandma's place again. Ever. Ever.

I may be crying as I am writing this down.

***

I was trying to remember a children's book I read as a kid a few weeks ago - and here it was, lying on the dresser. Why was it there? Why did she pick this particular book up, even if it was just to move it to someplace else and then to forget about it halfway?

***

I got some books and the shawl (a blue pavlovo posad style one) she was wearing all the time. There are a lot of things I would love to rescue: the little figurines she cherished, the plush toys. But it does not make much sense, does it? So: some books and the shawl, hoping I will be able to wear it without crying all the time.

My cousin asked for a box of sweets from my grandma's apartment, an open one. I hope my aunt will be able to get it through the Canadian customs.

***

My parents had to downsize a few years ago - from the 3 rooms (not: three bedrooms) 78 square meters (that I and my brother used to share with them, back in times) to 50, perhaps even less, 2 rooms (again - not three *bedrooms*) and low ceilings (I can reach them and I am not a big person - but you take what you can if you need to stay where there is working public transport on the weekends and close to the grandma you are taking care of, given the rising prices). And now the emotionally valuable contests of my grandmothers apartment (the old dinnerware, a ton of her crochetry, books that lived at her place because there was no place at my parents', photos will all their emotional value) are in boxes in the middle of the living room. And I can't imagine where they'll put them.

(Still not sure whether I will be able to reply here. Let's see. And forgive me if I don't.)

(no subject)

Apr. 19th, 2009 06:03 pm
pax_athena: (Default)
This one is for commenting/reading my friends' DW journals only.

My own actual at journal is over at livejournal http://pax-athena.livejournal.com .