Blue and White

I had an aunt who wasn’t related to me at all. She lived a couple of floors below us when I was a baby. Her son slept over at ours sometimes, drew cartoons and built houses in the woods with my brother.

After they left town, this aunt never slipped out of touch for long. Not with my parents. And not with me, either.

Come to think of it, she was the only person outside my own family who knew me my whole life.

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I grew up, moved cities. Felt restless, toured the continent. She was interested in where I was and how I was. I calmed down, got married, babtised my kids; she booked plane tickets and brought presents.

This talented and spirited woman, this wonderful Finnish aunt as a young restless one herself had toured Cyprus, singing in tavernas. She was really pleased with my choice of a husband. So she painted us a picture of two Greek lovers and carefully wrote wedding verse in Greek. Blue and white. White and blue.

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In my childish entitlement, it never crossed my mind that she might one day die.

That day arrived last week.

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I now have a new brother. A brother from another mother! Not related but dear in any case.

I so wish his sadness lets light in one day.

White and blue.

Blue and light.

These are for him, from his childhood and ours:

 

 

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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.

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?

The New Normal: Morning

The new normal. I think we are now living it because days are starting to resemble each other. So maybe I can now show you what life is like on a regular Monday and maybe it will still ring true after a year or two? I wouldn’t mind if it did.

6.40 Out of bed, to the command centre located at the fruit bowl. That’s where all important papers seem to hang out, uninvited. (Different devices also like to charge their batteries there, on top of the avocados. So rude!)

Try to make out my kids’ ever-changing school schedules, can’t see anything. Remember now have reading glasses, put them on. Husband bought them for me after my protests that I couldn’t see his work tweets when he stuck his phone in my face and asked for opinions. Such an amazing present. Can now admire his work tweets so much. Also have little reading lights on both sides. Like the headlights of a car. Can read things in the dark!

6.45 Finally up to speed about who has P.E. today and can start ironing uniforms. Do it on the bed because of the rush, accidentally iron sheets underneath into tight creases. Dang. Meanwhile husband has carried comatose offspring to sofa and disappeared. Don’t know what to do with poor floppy children. Only brought them home at 9.20 last night forchristssake! Weekend by the sea – fun during, painful the morning after. Put on Cartoon Network. Disappear into the kitchen.

7.10 Cartoon Network revived children. Hurrah! But they don’t like the butter because it’s not the same brand they they were used to in Switzerland. Lecture/encouraging pep talk about aquired tastes and angry daddies who detest being late for work. Pack third grader’s backpack, like every morning. I know I said I wouldn’t do it anymore! But 7.10! Butter dispute! Swimming after school! Brother has tennis! Angry husband alert! Where is the racquet?

7.30 There they go. Phew! Follow their departure from the balcony to be absolutely sure.

Then coo at balcony plants. Give water to whoever is looking a bit rough. Coo some more.

Worry about lost youth. Reading glasses! Talking to plants! What next?

Panicky fit of ‘what happened to my youth?’: Put on sneakers and cap and rush out for sporty walk. Should probably run but use 2009 knee problem as excuse as always. Happily stroll around taking pictures with my phone instead.

As always.

Love it.

This unflattering shadow was harrassing me all the way

Getting a bit hot around 8.20.

But what flowers!

What views!

What trees!

And what a light.

Our block of flats in the background
Our balcony is the one with the moving box peeking down, of course
Someone pretty next to our entrance

9.05 Back home quite sweaty. Type a message to my client asking if they need any writing done. Remember computer refused to start on Friday. Stop typing.

Have breakfast and shower in peace.

What Else Is There?

Ohh.

Everyone’s out.

The sun shines in through the blinds. I am so sleep deprived but so relieved too.

On the screen, two boys in uniforms pose in front of the school’s lemon trees.

A little ray of raw happiness seeps in with the sunshine.

They seem to be okay.

Now, what else is there I wonder?

What’s in Your Dreams?

It’s hard to fall asleep, I know. But you made it!

I’d love to high-five you but won’t.

Instead I just look at you and listen to you and wonder what’s in your dreams.

Ladybirds, cousins, balloons? Or my tense, stressed-out voice from last week?

The images of your room perhaps? The only one you ever had, now empty and echoing, sterile and strange…

Whatever it is, I’m here. For you. Always.

One Thousand Mornings

We send them to school in their little beige shorts and their little white polo shirts, red jumpers still on in the morning.

By midday it often starts to rain big, sparkly drops of summer so that they have no choice but to run from class to class.

When I fetch them it’s sunny again, but the mood is changing. By the end of the afternoon it’s pouring.

Anyone who’s out then will feel the unsettling heat of the electric storm circling Alpine villages in the distance.

The thunder sounds especially eerie in the night. It echoes from one mountain range into the other as we lay in bed in between.

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The next morning again into the red uniforms. Rain or shine, summer through winter, those smart little shirts and trousers. Red white, khaki, look alive please, please put your arm through here cause Daddy’s a good man and needs to keep his job, too!

One thousand school mornings like this.

One thousand mornings of these colours and this rush and now all that remains are fifteen.

To the Seaside

Last time we lived in Cyprus, we were new first-time parents.

I remember the idea was to drive to the seaside every now and then for a refreshing weekend away from the busy streets of Nicosia.

It was an excellent plan and we did it, at least twice!

The packing, the driving, the sleeping con baby… Truth be told, the seaside might as well have been on the other side of the world! We never went.

We sat in dusty, hot Nicosia all pale. All the while just an hour away, tanned tourists ran into the waves screaming with delight, morning to night.

Eight years on, we are returning to Nicosia with two lively boys. The idea is to drive to the seaside every now and then for a refreshing weekend away from the busy streets of the capital.

Or maybe just a quick visit to the beach and back home again for dinner, but really often.

In Cyprus when it rains, it rains (and only when one is on the motorway).

How do you think we’ll do?

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