Thursday, 15 September 2011

Treasure The Ordinary

Treasure the ordinary. My Daughter is back from her trip down south and though its only been a couple of days, life already seems to be settling into something resembling, well, ordinary life. This morning I took the Daughter to the kindergarten for the first time in almost three months, and what a joy it was to watch her being greeted by her friends calling out how much they'd missed her, to see them encircling her in the yard, asking for her to tell where she'd been, to tell everything. And as I left her there, full of stories of summer, and headed to the university myself, I couldn't have cared less about the grey, drizzly weather, about the exam I am not prepared for or the deadlines I've missed, about the car making strange noises or the fact that as I hurried to dress this morning I put on a pare of holey stockings. Sure, my life could be so much more organised, so much more, well, efficient. So much more of so many things. But it isn't. And it's all life.

Last night I dreamed of running. Not running away from something. Not escaping. But running, purely for the joy of movement. I was running through fields and forest, feeling the wind on my skin and smiling for the joy of being able to move so effortlessly. For the joy of my legs not being in pain, my heart pumping blood to my veins easily, oh so easily. I watched the ground as it sped underneath my feet, the sky. Even now, I can easily get a hold of that feeling. I remember that feeling. And I hope against hope that one day I can again feel that feeling since right now that, if anything, is what I lack. Not health, as such, because that I will never have, but to be healthy enough. Treasure the ordinary. I say that again. Because to everyone who has health, it is ordinary. You do not think of it. It is a part of your ordinary existence. Until it ceases to be. And at that point, at least in my case, no amount of money in the world can buy it back. There are things that you can do, but when it's gone it's gone.

Which brings me to food. I've again had to revise my eating regime to make sure I am getting all the necessary vitamins and stuff so that at least what I eat is not working against me in stabilising this pesky little lupus thingy. And don't get me wrong, this is no diet I am talking about here, but rather making sure that I get what my body needs to get nutritionally. I mean, I like food. I like cooking it. Baking it. And eating it. Which is not a problem for me because I do not cater to the idea of there being one-size-fits-all. In anything, really, let alone lookswise. I am tall. I am curvy.  I am a big handsome gal. As I was leafing through some images online, my Daughter saw this one and immediately shouted out loud: '' Mommy, that's YOU!'' Oh. Ok. That's cool.

She does look
kinda familiar...

For a long time in my life I listened to some people very close to me telling me to wear a certain style of a shoe because it made my feet look delicate and look now, I do not have delicate feet. Not by a long shot. They are short, wide and pretty much mangled up from pointe ballet shoes. And I remember all those comments about not wearing a certain length in a skirt or dress because it was not becoming due to my strong, muscular calves. Yes. I have calves that refuse to fit into any regular sized boot. Always did. Even when I was very, very much smaller than I am today my calves had a life of their own. So, did I only wear that certain style of shoe or skirt length? Of course I did not. I wore what I wanted, but little sneaky comments like this still tend to lodge themselves inside the deep recesses of your brain matter and pop up when you least want them to. Today, though, I tell these little comments to take a hike. I think one of the best compliments I've ever gotten was very recently in a rockabilly sorta evening happening. It was already very late, I was feeling less than fresh as a daisy and me and my Harley Hairy Person were getting ready to leave when a friend of his looked me up and down, then did the same to him and said: '' You both just look so completely like yourselves.'' Love that. Just love that. 

And you know what, not a long time ago I was asked if I wanted to become a model. As in a plus size model. Now. Plus what? Does that mean I am over some mystery line in size after which a woman becomes out of line? Naturally, I got a bit curious and did some internet searching on the topic of 'plus size' and whoopsadaisy... A so-called regular woman is apparently around 164cm tall and wears a size 42-44 (UK14-16/US12-14). The average so-called regular model is about 180cm tall and wears a size 32-34 (UK4-6/US2-4). And what they call a plus size model is generally a woman who is almost as tall as a regular model but most often wears a size 40-42 (UK12-14/US10-12). Confusing, eh....

They call her
a plus size model.

And this is obviously
the ever so lovely
Christina Hendricks.
Widely touted in the media
as being
plus size...

So this is what we
as women
should model 
ourselves to?


And just to give you an idea
of how things have
been changing, here is
what models
used to look like...

They would
probably call her
fat today.

I don't mean that there aren't some people who are naturally very, very thin, because of course there are. Just like there are people who are very short, very tall, very redheaded, very blonde, very anything. But when you hear the alarming reports of eating disorders starting to show up in girls as young as 5 or 7 years old, you really, and I mean really, should get a  bit concerned. The plain truth here is that media is obviously not showing us a representation of women as we are, and if you compare the image of women in media to the one of men you don't really have to delve all that deeply to see that the variety of roles and images given to men are much more varied and permissible, more real. Even when it comes to what they call celebrities. The men, it seems, don't really look all that strange, but just take a look at the women. What in the name of lord is going on in here? 

She says she is
does not watch 
her weight
loves to eat...

This is something I feel quite strongly about. Both because I grew up in the world of ballet and gymnastics that was nothing if not productive to all sorts of eating disorders, but also because I am a mother. And my Daughter is built just like me. Already taller than her peers, with a muscular, strong build. And it chills me to the core to hear of children only about six months older than her having eating disorders because they have been told that they have to be thin. Delicate. Skinny. I don't want my Daughter to ever question her body, no matter what shape or size it is. She will, I know, but I wish she didn't have to. And that's why I tell her that she is beautiful. That she is smart and strong and brave. Just as she is.

Card from

And I never did take up on that modeling offer. Not the one for lingerie modeling either... Though I have to say that after the initial open mouthed shock subsided I laughed and told the woman running the lingerie boutique that while I was very happy that they would like to be represented by someone like me, practically forty with all these happy little lumps and bumps and stripes and scars, it was really not for me. I probably went home and did a little baking. A little reading. And sat down in the evening in the faded pink velvet armchair in the corner of my Daughters room and watched her sleep. Curled my short, stubby feet and chunky calves underneath my thighs with the circumference of a supermodels waist, and again thought how lucky I am that I get to live an ordinary life. Ok. Maybe not so ordinary, but what passes for ordinary in my quirky, un-super-modelly, so-not-celebrity life. 

This here is pretty much the only song I've ever sung to my Daughter, a lot, when she was a baby. And Puff The Magic Dragon, of course. And sometimes, she still asks me to sing this one. And I do. Completely and utterly out of tune and creakily and squeakily I massacre the little song and yet she hums and sways to it, and that my dears, that is acceptance. That is her, loving me, just as I am.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Lupus and Apple Pie

I have been resting, basically in what is bedrest, for the past day or so. My face is flaming red with the lupus mask, all the ittybitty joints in my hands seem to be shouting out loud and the exhaustion, well, fatique is what they call it but call it whatever you wish, it is not a terribly lovely feeling when you simply can not stay awake and your whole body feels like there's lead in your veins instead of blood. And if I hear one more person tell me that I need to not stress I will scream. If I have the energy, that is. I mean, I know. Controlling stress helps in trying to control the actual physiological manifestations of lupus. If you have SLE, even so called normal daily stress can exacerbate the disease, the musculoskeletal and skin symptoms, the continuous fever and pain. But what can one do, live in a bubble?

No. One can not live in a bubble. Moving to live as a hermit in some Arctic Sea island is hardly an option. Sooooo, what actually is an option? Since much of the stress in our life is also caused by things beyond our own control, the behavior of others as well as unforeseen changes in our professional, financial or social life, the only thing left really is to turn the gaze inwards and try to find a way of not letting it get to you. Which I am crap at. But damn if I don't try. 

I've been called a bleeding heart liberal, an eternal idealist, a soft-hearted fool who carries all the troubles of the world on her shoulders. When I was a lot younger, about a half of a life-time ago, I used to keep up a shell of iron. Helped a lot I might say when you are hell bent on banging your head and fists against every single real or imagined fence of ignorance or injustice. But, as I got older and the shell started to, instead of growing thicker, to crack,  as the skin on my hands started to show through the fissures, to bleed and to grow scars, I was faced with a choice. Either you stop caring and let it all just wash over you or you still bang your head and your fists and you hurt and bleed and grow scars and cry and care, but this time, without the protection of the iron cover of the youth. 

Well, it's pretty obvious what I 'chose'. Which makes it a bit tricky now that I am also dealing with this little misbehaving disease of mine. Catch 22, one might say. But what's a life without challenges, huh?

Yesterday I enrolled the Daughter in swimming school, and am myself contemplating starting figure skating classes for adults. And for sure, it's off to the gym via a trip to a physical therapist very soon, even if I can only do five reps instead of the 75 I used to be able to. I've been told to try things like yoga or tai-chi, so maybe I will. I would love to be able to take dance classes again, though I know I will never again get to the point where I myself would be able to teach them. But what I will be able to do is take long walks outside in the evenings with my Daughter, bike rides too. To see the season once again turning.

And as it is indeed autumn here, I have, when I have the energy, been up to all sorts of bakings and preserving-of-thingies. Recently I made this apple pie, I mean, what could possibly be more autumny than an apple pie?

The recipe can be found 
and a similar one in English

I have also gotten bitten by the home improvement bug. Again. And my bank balance is right now thanking the fact that I am drawn towards the old and rickety instead of the brand-new and designery...

In the bedroom.

And whoever says books don't breed hasn't been to my house. When we moved in here last October, I covered half of the walls in the living room with bookshelves. And now, that is no longer enough... There are books stacked on practically every flat surface, on top of the rows on the shelves, on floors and chairs. Soooo, what else is there to do but dedicate one more wall from the living room to the books...surely I did not hear anyone whispering that I should contemplate selling some of them....Nooo, come to me little ones! Do you know what I did just the other day? I checked some facts I needed to know in an actual encyclopedia instead of Googling them and how lovely was that I tell you. I mean, I know I know, technology is everything, but real life books for me, yes, I am one of those people who sometimes just smells books...

And as poetry
is one of
the loves of my life,
below is just one of the many
new additions 
my flock.

Poetry by
Margaret Atwood.
If you've only 
ever read
her prose, do check this out.

And on a different note...
another ittybitty addition,
but then again
maybe not 
so different after all.
Identity in Difference. 
Good Ol Hegel...

It is now afternoon and I am in bed. I wonder if I can make it outside today, there's a breeze out there throwing the leaves around. I can see it from my bedroom window. I think I am going to try, maybe a trip to the library, even. And because I have come to realise that even though lupus is much more common than is generally thought, people tend to know very little or nothing about it and that has a straight effect on the time and money given out to research and, of course, to finding a cure. So, please watch the video below and spread the word. 

Thank you.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Darkness and Light

I have been waging a war with myself about writing here for a long time now. Conflicted about posting pictures about sweet bakings, cute vintage finds and finally finished sewing projects while at the same time having some serious, and I mean serious stuff to deal with. Not wanting to dump the aforementioned stuff out here in the open either. So silence it was. The words poured on paper, and to the lovely people near me who have lent me a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on to. Right now I am not feeling terribly positive that things are progressing positively in many respects, but I have a life to live and despite the attempts of what sometimes feels like life, the universe and everything doing its damnest to keep me from living it that is precisely what I intend to do. Should you not right now be feeling like listening to any more of the heavy stuff then just scroll down to the clothes pics below, I totally understand, believe you me...

As I sit here, I have now been missing my Daughter for exactly fourteen days and eighteen hours. She will be home in a week, and my heart is not whole before that. She is on a trip with her Father to meet her Portuguese grandparents and while I see it as a good thing for her to not grow estranged from that side of her family, I couldn't help but to cry as I was arranging her fall clothes in her closet all ready for her return. As any mother will know, having your young child be away from you, thousands, thousands of kilometres away from you, is a harrowing thought as such, but in this case what has made it all the worse is all the other stuff that has been going on. For various reasons I can not go to specific detail, but suffice it to say that ever since I decided to start dating again last winter and spring, a long time after the divorce became final, I have had to deal with a lot of severe unpleasantness from my ex-husband. To an unreasonable degree.

I remember sitting in a room in July with him and an official, listening to the raging tirade from him, staring out of the window at the clouds, tears falling down my face, asking, praying to god, whoever you are out there, wherever you are out there, to please, please give me strength to not to break. To not to let the bitterness, the vindictiveness to get to me. To give me peace and serenity enough to not to get drawn in to the river of anger and start taking an eye for an eye. Because I won't. There are always two sides to any story, and I am far from being without blame as to why I eventually ended up applying for the divorce but as to what is going on right now, well, enough is enough.  

Straight talk, eh? It is. Life. What can you do. At times it's a funny little romantic comedy. Others, a dark, hollow drama with serious horror flick tones thrown in. A bit of action, some spaghetti western and touches of Rocky Horror Picture Show mixed with Sound of Music. Gentlemen Prefere Blondes goes Boondock Saints. Oh my. 

This summer, I have also gotten to know the kind of people I frankly never thought I would come to call as friends. I actually not only went but also volunteer worked in a biker happening held near here in what was practically middle of the forest. Six hundred bikers. And no, not the bicycle kind either. And the people I met were some of the friendliest, most frank and relaxed human beings I have had the pleasure to come across to. Hairy, yes. And maybe just a tad more tattooed than the general population with a slight tendency towards black leather vests with insignia on the back. And there I was, in my long circle skirt with flowers, my ballerina slippers and red-and-white checkered country-Annie blouse and knowing zilch, absolute zero, about motorcycles and yet, what a lovely time I had. Granted, I have been around all sorts of wild and woolly creatures from the fringes of humanity before but even so I really must say that these harleyhairypeople are truly a breed of their own. Sure, every flock has its troublemakers, but generally, yes, lovely people.


And now, since the fall, or autumn, whichever the word you choose to use, is here, I will say goodbye to the summer by posting a few pictures of the more superficial side of things these past few months. 

A fifty years old
Husqvarna bike...

...that is perfectly suited
to driving in skirts.

A pale blue circle skirt
with stitched on flowers.
Yeah, I know,
still missing a waistband and hemming here...

Summer dress
made with a 1950's pattern
with some modifications up top...

Fabric covered buttons
and a sash that ties in the back...
...I made the front waist part
of the sash ruched to hide...
all the cakes I loooove to eat...
There are also deep pockets
set in the side seams
in case I wish to 
some of the cakes with me.

A high-waisted below-the-knee
length jeans skirt 
with a flip in the back
a blouse shortened
from a 1950's

A fifties skirt with
a modern day belt, both found at a charity shop.

The fairground skirt
with pleats in
the back.

Bought at the local version of
e-bay for peanuts.

Pink shoes!
Probably from the 1960's or
Swedish, with a fantastic fit
and leather outer soles.

And of course,
the boring but ever-so-practical
black shoes.
From the 1960's.

Black Esprit ones 
bought at a sale and probably
one of the most comfortable
pair of heels I've ever 
Danced the jive for hours
in these and still
managed to 
walk the next day.

My Sister brought these
for the Daughter
from when she
went to Bali in July.
I am seriously

So, with heavy and light. With darkness and sunshine, I leave you now. The leaves are falling from the trees and I have bought my boots out from their summer hiding place. I have started lighting candles in the evening again. And now I shall head to the fabric store to see what delights they have on offer for this season.

It's a sweet life, no matter what. It has to be.

So see you soon, my lovelies.