The Year of the Cat

So this is how we – in three quite unplanned steps – got ourselves a large family in the course of 2019!

Happy new year!

Some Things Are Stronger Than Us

I can update so rarely. This draft is from August!

Children growing up in loving families take for granted that everything is going to be alright. They may be terrified of small things like barking dogs or sudden noises, or being called a baby by peers.

But when it comes to the big scaries, for them it is happily clear that their parents can stop any old tidal wave heading their way. And often, metaphorically, we can. We sure would happily die trying!

But some things are stronger than us.

Sea currents, say.

Or disappointments not addressed for weeks, months, years. The pain of changing and feeling unseen as the person you’ve proudly become.

It’s the hottest month in Cyprus. I float happily face down in shifting water. My ears and my mind are both filled with currents.

The tingling of a million pebbles forever looking for their place in the order of things.

I can make out dim outlines of little fishes quickly swimming past. My body is pulled and pushed by impatient waves. The archaic appetite of this mass wants to suck in me, my family.

My most beloved friends. Every body on this beach, this coast, warm and sweaty and fragile. And at the end, so shockingly alone.

Some things are stronger than us.

But which things?

https://open.spotify.com/track/6bewkREJxEPKRYZcypacXm?si=qNjGvXqZQyaJ4SaZJ1opNA Music for floating in warm sea water during the hottest month of the year

The Cypriot Cure

‘Did you bring the bloodwork?’ mumbled the doctor, gazing at me over her glasses. ‘Oh no, I just had so much on my mind, I’m sorry.’ ‘Get me the bloodwork’, she huffed, visibly annoyed now. ‘You have to take care of yourself! If you don’t, how can you care for your kids?’

Looking at all the things I manage to worry about in my everyday life, worry over my kids tends to be a little bit on the consuming side. Most days I feel good about things, but there are some days in between when just fret, worry and brood and just can’t help myself. On Worry Days, I eat, I worry, I drive, I worry. I go to the doctor, for myself, and remember only upon leaving what it was that I actually phoned in for.

But no matter!

I can just drive back home and indulge in some good fretting over my kids again; over what I’m doing as a parent and whether it’s enough.

Yes I’m doing all I can, obviously, but maybe I should do more? More than I can?

Maybe I should change completely? All of my qualities, for their sake? Be less selfish in my love and give up my spot to somebody else, ffs? Someone confident who knows what the heck they’re doing and what it was they went to the doctor for, that sorta person? Someone on social media, perhaps? Swarms of confident and knowledgeable mothers over there, I’ve noticed!

When it comes to my work, feedback is usually quick. Ok, add a bit of descriptive text then resend. I add descriptive text and resend and everyone is happy. Payment ensues.

With our youngest generation, immediate feedback is often a bit ambivalent. And I guess the real results of our blood, sweat and tears won’t materialise until a decade or two from now. And then, my worried self figures, there will be no kid anymore, but a glaring adult who may choose their graduation or a similar public event to announce they never want kids themselves because their own childhood was so off-putting because of those people, those two over there! We’ll look around and others will look at us, with disapproval, and we’ll look at each other. And I’ll tell my husband I told you so.

‘Have we eaten today?’ he now asks, stroking my hair.

Not at the imaginary graduation (because in all of my imaginings, the last word is mine: ‘so’ from ‘I told you so’) but now here, on our sofa at 22:35.

In Cypriot folklore, whoever goes off the railings with fret is probably a bit peckish. When fed, they will regain their composure and their confidence instantly. Not to mention their belief in God and the unwavering certainty that everything will turn out fabulous at the end, actually. You eat, your worry goes elsewhere, to someone peckish!

But he’s got a point! When a worried person eats, it’s seldom with much mindfulness.

I don’t know it yet but I will eat mindfully tomorrow. I will be sat in my pyjama trousers at the dining table, in front of a hearty bowl of pasta and between us two, a flickering tealight and a bottle of white will sit firmly and decisively on the table.

The wine is to be finished. Music is to be listened to.

Later, snooker will be watched and I can rest my head on someone who knew me years before I became anyone’s mum, and has eaten, and knows the kids the way only we two know. And he is of the opinion that things are going to turn out just fine.

The next day, an alternative graduation scenario shyly comes to mind. A small grin, not vengeful but just relieved and triumphant and young. Rows and rows of parents swept up by a communal silent cry of pride. A tall boy on stage will look for us in the crowd and he’ll smile a bit and we’ll try to wave. And my husband will say I told you so.

The Cypriot cure.

Now testing against pessimism, melancholy, worry and self-pity in overwhelmed working mothers!

Something Borrowed

His name is Bruno and he was home alone today.

So we could borrow him!

The park was a lush green paradise of birdsong and sunshine filtered through a million leaves.

Bruno enjoyed the smell aspects of it.

And some womanising. Oh dear!

Cyprus is so gorgeous!

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And apparently, smells fabulous too.

Writing for a Living

I write for money! Yes I do.

Nope, not for the Cyprus Mail. It’s there for breakfast and lunch companionship only!

I receive blueprints and pour over them like a woman possessed. Then begin frantic area research and note taking. In challenging cases, enlist a music streaming service.

What’s near the development?

What will the views be like?

How does one get anyplace?

Notes.

Start typing: architecture, design. Landscaping, layouts.

And all the practical stuff, try to be a bit more brief for goodness’ sake, it isn’t a bleeding novel!

Selling points? Hmm.

Introduction. (This is everything.)

Title options. Usually too long, grimace.

Chop! Mourn.

Okay? Off it goes.

Burst through school gates. Panting, so late, so disheveled and not bearing snacks it seems actually.

Usher people to Greek tutoring.

Sit in the car a bit cold. Fantasize of writing for fun maybe tonight.

Like lock my door, turn up the music?

Then, for goodness’ sake, write like there’s no tomorrow?

DSC_0782

Yes! Yes!!

Maybe tomorrow?

After Cyprus, Where Would You Go?

‘When the man loves the woman more, they have sons’, declared the Ukrainian grandma at the head of the table, nodding at our kids. ‘Da’ attested my gentlemanly husband, giving my thigh a gentle little pat.

We are not this slim, it’s my friend’s camera:)

We were seated around a solid wood table with flowers in the middle, this is Cyprus after all. Outside the air was restlessly shifting under November rain. It was just about to hit these cobbled alleys and mountain pines, and the village dog running up and down the main street barking at cars.

He wouldn’t mind. He had a job to do. So many funny looking Nicosiades to chase!

On the table there were glasses of red, white and water, hot plates of veg and lamb and a salad with fresh bread softening in sweet olive oil. I was tasting something with a difficult name, something quite heavenly when my friend asked of our plans after Cyprus.

‘Where would we go after Cyprus?’ I wondered, looking from plate to plate desperately trying to decide what to try next. ‘What would we eat?’

There was pleasant agreement over the impossibility of eating anything in other countries. We continued the meal surrounded by the old stone walls and happily lunching kids. My other half who has been so absent-minded lately seemed to be quite content too, amidst steaming little plates being entertained by our friend the walking library of… romantic jokes.

I can imagine someone leaving Cyprus for New York maybe. Lots of good stuff to eat there!

But right now I really can’t see where else anyone would like to go after Cyprus, nor indeed why!

And I think grandma might just agree with me! She is clearly a very wise lady.

Space Tag

Tonight we got some takeaway. It’s Sunday night and we are both a bit worse for wear.

One has muscle pain after running around in the cold evening breeze thinking they were 17.

The other has her usual number of worries, just because!

This week was the last week one unlucky stray kitten got to live. His short story ended under a heat lamp at the vet’s.

Next door to him three little former strays slept in a warm and cosy heap. To wake up again soon, curious and playful, for another lovely day.

This was the week when French Conversation was cancelled and we didn’t know that. Waiting, we covered everything from space travel to Cyprus problem.

This week our building shook violently with the pitter patter of four Darth Vaders playing some kind of a beastly space tag. One of the Darths had previously soothed a fading kitten but was now full of cheery fight again.

Like you want your kids to be, a while  after a disappointment.

It was when I woke up on Saturday and decided to contribute my five cents to the Cyprus question debate. My overture was met with a surprised and a tad exasperated look from the neighbouring pillow.

This one by my spouse who is a patient type

It was the week we froze in bed. Not so much because of the CyProb pillow talk but because it seems

summer is gone.

Stray

I wasn’t able to snap anything resembling a cat portrait because our friend was on the move all the time. ‘Let me’ said my kid!

Officially one of a million and a half. But not to us!

Because he has an old injury in his front leg but

still comes running whenever we step out the front door.

The first time my son saw him

he couldn’t think of anything but the poor broken legged cat and what would become of him.

Then we made friends with him.

And found out it’s an old problem and that

he is actually the happiest and friendliest cat we’ve ever known!

He is not in pain now.

The entire neighbourhood feeds and spoils him.

He purrs like a lawnmower.

We wish we could adopt him. But since that would slowly suffocate me to death, I’m thinking we’ll hang out instead.

Is that okay, dear little friend?

Happiness Triggers

Sometimes in my new life, going around minding my own business, something triggers a severe and unexpected attack of happiness.

Often it’s houses, like this one above. I mean, what an entrance for an ordinary block of flats! Like going into a Greek poetry library when you’re in fact just going to load up the washing machine, aren’t you!

Happiness attack.

Absurdity is another trigger. Yesterday I bent my head to pass from under the branches of a tree standing on the pavement – and the whole thing buzzed. The entire tree was alive with thousands of bees. (Meanwhile in Finland, snow is drifting onto the ground.)

Surprise happiness attacks. Oof.

Doing something new is a suspected happiness source as well. Last Saturday I chaired a meeting between similarly motivated strangers. Something new was established for young Finns in Nicosia. Afterwards, smelling of smoke (the kids’ play area was in the smoking section of the café – because kid smokers?) I got into my car and BANG! Stinky happy driver approaching from twelve o’clock!

The fourth culprit is pleasant repetition after a tumultuous time. I lounge on in the balcony contemplating nothing. A bit unsteady, it’s not a sofa I sit on but an old spare mattress on a cardboard box. Some people don’t have time for garden furniture shopping apparently. And then the moon rises shyly from the corner of my building: Hey Aino, how are you, how’s Cyprus?

Oh!

Hey moon, Cyprus is just so lovely!

And I’m here and the food really is just so good and we have a stray cat friend you know!

And people friends. Please say hello to home country when you get there. It’s the one with the thousand lakes and the thousand freezing postmen.

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