Monday, 25 May 2015

FIB, CIA and Other Career Choices for a Latvian Boy

Today I had an 8th-grader tell me that all he really wants to do in his life is to work for FBI in the USA. He's neither the brightest nor the most diligent student, but for now he has a clear goal, and who am I to tell him it will most probably not be as easy and as much fun as he thinks it will. So we went through some of the inevitable steps he must take in order to even come close to doing something like that some day (like getting a student visa or green card in America, for starters!) Then he asked what I had dreamed of becoming when I was 16, and I had to tell him I really wanted to be a rockstar. He didn't even laugh, though I am now as apprehensive of his chances ever getting to work for FBI as I am of my chances of being a guitar goddess - not in this life, dear Diana.
However, I do hope his dream will last at least long enough to help him find motivation to stay in school and to study hard. After all, that's my job - whether he becomes a secret agent or not.

And who would have thought - there is a whole wiki page just on how to become an FBI or CIA agent!

Monday, 11 May 2015

I Made a Young Man Cry

This was a special day for me, and I don't know yet how it's going to affect my work with one 8th grader. I made him cry, and it seemed to be the purifying sort of crying that brings some sweet release and relief. I think it was my first real therapy session with a student, and I really really hope I'm not wrong and will not have to eat some humble pie later on. It seemed I had made some real connection with him, and this was also the first time that I realized I needed some tissues in "my" office. I didn't have any, didn't offer him any, and I could see he was a bit embarrassed by his tears. Oh, I do hope I've gained some ground with him.

I've just returned from a very romantic long walk with my husband and the dog. Everything is in bloom, everything is incredibly beautiful, the world seems new and fresh. The last thing I want to do is translate, but translate I must, for I am a translator. It's hard being what you are and doing what you do when you want to just take huge gulps of life and not think about the mundane, about earning a living and doing everyday things.
I won't fret, all is well.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

I'm on Edge

I can't work, can't really sleep, can't even garden. The clinical psychology practicum is going as wrong as it can possibly go. It's less than three weeks until the deadline, and I don't even have a mentor yet! I'm desperate. I was in a crisis centre for a month, and on April 30 I found out that the lawyer of the crisis centre had found some issues with the agreement and I could not complete the practicum there - due to some technicality. On that same day I managed to find another placement - with the largest psychiatry hospital in the country, and arranged to go there (with that same agreement) this Tuesday. I was so very nervous I drove the 50 km to the hospital more than an hour early, just to receive a message from my would-be mentor saying that he was sick and that I should call him on Thursday (today). I was so high-strung all morning, hesitating to call and waiting for some stupid signs, that I gave up and just sent him a message, asking when I could meet him and if he was OK now. He hasn't replied. It's been two hours, and I still don't know anything.
What's the worst thing that can happen? I might not be able to complete this year and would have to do the practicum next year, and that would mean that I would lose my scholarship. It would mean quite a lot of money, and I would really hate to pay. Moreover, I would feel like a failure.
I don't know why the school practicum went so brilliantly while this one presents such challenges that I'm losing sleep and all motivation to work.

Monday, 13 April 2015

A Tough Day for a New School Psychologist

I arrived at 12.30, half an hour early. I went into the teachers' room and saw what I thought was quite an unusual sight. A teenage boy was standing near the door, and all the teachers were standing up and looked very angry. The scout leader, being the manliest man of the school, was reproaching the boy. The scout leader looked all red and besides himself with fury. I watched as the boy closed in, not looking at anyone, ear-buds behind his ears, hood over his head, all dignified and careless, and indifferent. When all the angry words and accusations were over - it turned out he (and two of his classmates) had climbed out onto the school roof during classes to smoke. "Are you an addict?" the principal asked? She was so mad. "Can't you do without smoking at least until the break?"
The boy didn't say anything. I asked him to come to my office after the English lesson - during biology. I didn't want him to miss English, and the biology teacher was quite willing to send the boy to me.
I worked with his younger brother during that lesson. I found the same indifference, the same lack of emotions, of feelings, of any life in the boy that his brother had displayed just a while ago. I learned about the boys verbal skills and attention span, about his lack of sleep and dislike for his teacher. He left, and I began waiting for his big brother. But he never came.
I intend to see him tomorrow, first thing in the morning, during the first class, but there is no way of knowing whether he will show up at all.
I really hope to make both of those brothers see that the world is not against them and that they indeed can be appreciated and seen for who they are - not as delinquents, but as kids that desperately need care - with no one to give a damn about how they're doing at school or in life, for that matter.
Of course, I'm naive and idealistic to think that I can help those boys, but I suppose newbies have to be that way, or there is no hope at all if we are all cynics right from the start. Oh, I do hope he comes to my office tomorrow.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Planting, Dancing and Bullying

It's raining now after two days of the most perfect spring weather. I managed to sew a lot of flower seeds as well as some peas and yellow string beans.
On Friday I bought Forsythia x intermedia "Lynwood Gold". The three naked branches leave a lot of room for imagination, and I hope it will grow thick and flower lavishly.
I did manage to finish the socks for Walter's dance recital on Saturday. This is how they turned out, I was rather pleased, even if the project was quite quick and easy.

The dance recital was great, and I couldn't be prouder since it was the first time I saw my child dancing with a proper dance club. I think even Ralph felt a bit envious watching his brother, but I doubt that will be enough to make him join the dance club as well.

I'm at school three days a week - Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. As luck would have it, both on Thursday and Friday "things happened" at school, and I've been thinking about bullying prevention and attendance problems for three days now. I have some sort of a plan in my head that I wish to implement, but I must admit, the task seems daunting.
This video might be a good start - at least to know which methods have been proven to be less than effective, and it is a nationwide problem that has not really been addressed on a national level in my country, so I need to put together my own materials, translating and adapting from strategies that have already been proven to work.

I do hope to make a difference, but I feel sooo new to all of this...

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Oh, Yes, It's All Good!

Yesterday was one of those days. One of those incredible days when everything just falls in its place. I went to school (to work with kids! And teachers! Yay!), I finished my practicum report, I drove to the city, I got there in record time, submitted the report and was back in my home town just two and a half hours later! I don't think I had to stop at any red lights, that was just unbelievable. I even managed to squeeze in some 10 minutes for the library, and I even got two books on autism and Asperger's that I had wanted to read for some time now. And I got back home, and everything went so smoothly I could not even believe it. A group-mate called and said she could help me find the clinical practicum for April-May, and I got hold of the would-be mentor at a crisis centre. She agreed to meet me on Tuesday, and I just can't wait!
Life is getting more and more hectic and busy, so it's easy not to notice that spring is here. But it is! And I'm sure many people would appreciate if their 3-minute walk to work looked like this.

Tonight I will relax with a wonderful knitting work - dancing socks for my son.
And tomorrow... and on Saturday... I will make sure to find some time for some gardening work! Oh, life is so good!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

First Day

The first school day is over, and what a day it was! It was a bit weird, looking through all the materials that the previous psychologist has left, reading the student files and getting to know so many of them...
Everything was new. Going to work in the morning was quite new, but taking a change of shoes with me to work was unprecedented. Learning the ropes, meeting the kids. Hugging some and reproaching some others. Even drying tears.
I really, really like it there. I didn't even want to leave. If I didn't have soooooo much to do (I need to hand in my practicum report tomorrow and translate three hour-long "Top Gear" episodes, and two episodes of a German police drama, and I have to drive to the city tomorrow to the University, and I need to finish knitting socks for my son's dance recital on Saturday, and I need to find someone - anyone! - to take me on for the second practicum.)
Life has never been more exciting and fun.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A New Job! A Dream Job!

Yes, yes, yes, I've been accepted as the new psychologist in our local primary school!

I'm so happy! I'm doing the happy dance!

Wait, WHAT?!

I start on Tuesday and am feeling a bit jittery, a bit panicky... Happy, yes, but wow, how did that happen?!
I feel a bit like on the day I gave birth to my first-born and was both in awe and in shock about the matters of this world that was so incredibly irresponsible and thoughtless that it gave me this wonderful human being and did not even make laws on how warmly to dress it! I had to figure everything out myself! That was insane!
Yes, it's just like that right now as well.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Life-Changing Life Changes

If I'm allowed to wish for something (and I most certainly am), then I really, really, really hope that my potential internship mentor turns out to be my actual internship mentor. And I need to know that tomorrow.
I've done so much this year that I am quite amazed at myself and even consider patting myself on the back. I've done my school psychology internship (I still have to write the "report", though, and it's not going to be easy), I've learned so much, and I have even applied for a job at the local school. It's thanks to the economy and the fact that the psychology law is still in the making that I can do that at all. But I can, and I'm going to take advantage of the situation.
On Thursday I will sign a contract that will allow me to work and learn, and hopefully to do some good - albeit for absolute peanuts. But there are other perks - like a chance to be away from home (and the fridge - you work-from-home moms surely know what it's like. Or not.). I will have my own office!!! With furniture, books, file cabinets, folders and staples!!!
I will be one of the teaching staff!
I will be allowed to sit in the teachers' room during breaks! And to talk to actual teachers like I'm one of them! (This might be a bit naive, I know - a psychologist is never one of the teachers, she's more like "help".)
The first internship (or "school psychology practice") is over, and tomorrow I'm supposed to go to a clinical internship, watch a psychologist at work, do some testing and interviewing, and evaluating on my own (quite a lot, in fact - at least 80 hours), but I still don't know if I will be taken on or if I will have to look for another place rather frantically.
So, please, the Force, make that person pick up her phone tomorrow and tell me she's willing to take me and teach me, and work with me. Because I will be the best student ever, I swear I will. Or at least the best I can be.

Yeah! I'm a school psychologist!

Test and scramble, test and scramble...

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A Fitness Cult

I went to the BodyArt workout today - for the first time since New Year. For some reason I could never get to workouts during these two weeks - either they had been cancelled or the time had been changed, and I didn't know.
But I went there today, and the body had almost forgotten the movements that I thought it new by heart. Anyway, I felt such a high afterwards that I applied for a masterclass in a couple of weeks, a 3-hour-workout, 20 euros, in Riga. And I came home and told my husband that I really really really wanted to go to the BodyArt summer camp (220 euros).
- Wow, - he said. - That's a lot of money. Are you sure you're not in some religious cult?

Oh, I do hope I am. I want to be a part of that fitness cult so, so, so much...

(P.S. And also, last Friday in a counselling lecture the professor told us that it was actually the standard way of battling addictions - to replace them with socially acceptable addictions - most frequently sports and fitness. How I wish to get rid of that sugar addiction and replace it with workouts... What's keeping me from really doing it? If I only knew.)
(P.P.S. A psychotherapist whose group counselling I attended used to say, "But you do know. Don't say you don't. A person always knows.")

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

It's Winter, and It's Hard

I've gained weight. It's so hard to admit this, but I've beaten my PW (personal worst), and I really don't feel the resources needed to deal with this.

I'm almost done with the first semester of studies. I feel I'm well on my way to become a psychologist, but the real career and goals seem rather unattainable right now.

It's all due just to a couple of things that will be over by the end of this week, but for some reason they seem so hopelessly huge that I feel a bit helpless. I need to finish translating a book (Minecraft Blockopedia, no less!) (311 pages, no less!), I need to do three episodes of X Factor UK (and one of those is 98 minutes, hopeless, I know). And then there are two term-papers for school. Due this Saturday.

It seems I don't get to do the things I want to do, and partly that's because of the weather. It's winter, and the roads are just dreadful, there is no other word. They make me dread going anywhere. I got in a bit of an accident on the road a couple of weeks ago. No one was hurt, but I got so scared that I don't get any pleasure from driving any more. Just dread. And last Saturday I got pulled over by the police and had to pay 40 Euros for running the yellow light. (Yellow! And they even reprimanded me for driving so slowly, below the speed limit! That's a first for me.)

We're redecorating Walter's room, and by "us" I mean Arthur. I just provide the money. Lots of it.

I don't  feel the new year has begun. Just the opposite. I'm feeling old and stretched - like Bilbo Baggins in "LOTR".

Sort of stretched, like... butter scraped over too much bread. I need a holiday. A very long holiday. And I don't expect I shall return. In fact I mean not to. 

Yes, that's what I mean. I need to get rid of all things "Diana", and start anew. Afresh. 

This is what I saw yesterday. It's in the middle of a city, just by a highway. I envy this man so much. I want to be him.

See you tomorrow, I need to go to a Parents Board meeting at school. I have no idea what I'll be doing or (God forbid!) saying there. 

Monday, 3 November 2014


Life is so full right now I can't seem to keep up with it. Everything has changed in my life. Things started changing when I began my studies, but November 1 was basically the last day of my old life. Everything has changed.
I was in a 3-day group therapy in existential psychology, and nothing is the same any more. The therapist said I had to choose between being thin and staying married, and I made my choice to stay married. And with that I also made my choice to give up staying fat.
I'm a bit afraid to jinx it, so I won't talk of that now, but I feel like a whole new person. It's like I didn't actually "try losing weight" before as much as I "struggled to keep it on".
I've given myself permission to want things, to choose things and to live my own life. To take what I want, and first of all, to be (or get) aware of what it is I want. Food is no longer just something that keeps my armour of fat on my body. It's now something that I choose and that I actively want. It turns out - I want so little of it. The hunger cues have returned, and I feel full so much sooner.

And the sex life, OMG, don't get me started on that. It's not as if I didn't want sex before, but it was more or less thinking about both of us, never of what I want. Never really actively wanting, demanding and taking.
This last night made me choose my husband again and again, and fall in love with him deeper than the first time. When he came home tonight - with a huge red rose! - I felt so shy and so deeply in love, that I was blushing all the time he was kissing me.
He feels the change. I daresay, the whole family feels it.
I feel like sky is the limit. I'm feeling so happy now. I'm quite curious what happens next. And whether I will be able to stay in this feeling for some time - long enough to shed that weight that no longer serves any purpose. And to keep finding myself in new places, new situations, new thoughts.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

David and Lisa, Lisa and David

First I watched the 1962 movie. A brilliant movie, I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the human psyche.

Then I watched the 1998 TV movie presented by Oprah.

After that I read the actual book by Theodore Isaac Rubin, available on internet free of charge right here.

So I feel quite competent to express my views on all three of them.
I cannot say if people who are not interested and have not taken any courses in psychiatry and psychology will gain much pleasure from these works or will even understand the symbolic aspects of the movies. To be honest, at times it seemed to me the actors of the 1998 movie did not quite get them either (and I'm actually talking about Brittany Murphy here). Brittany's portrayal of Lisa seems artificial. Only after reading the book I found out that Lisa was supposed to be 14, and David turned 16 during the book. However, the kids seemed much older than that in 1998 - and not because of the age of the actors (Brittany was 21 and Lukas Haas was 22), but because of the rather sexual connotations the TV movie had in comparison to the 1962 movie, and also the book.
After reading the book I realized there were actually three quite different stories of David and Lisa. First and foremost, in the way that the main characters were treated by the authors. As the book was quite vague about the parents and the causes of David's disorders, the movie makers could make whatever they wanted out of them.

The 1962 movie showed the problems as rooted in David's mother's tense and uptight personality. In many respects this character seemed very plausible and really drove the story-line forwards. Mother was aggressive, demanding, very artificial, very suppressed and suppressing. She took David away from "school" because she did not like the changes in him that had made him more outspoken and communicative. The 1998 mother (played by Allison Janney) had very different considerations. She took David out of the institution because she was shocked and scared for him after seeing the other kids. She also worried about him getting used to being institutionalized. In this version it was not the mother that was to (at least partly) blame for her son's disorders. This is very important. On one hand, it does a lot of good - taking away the stigma that the mothers of special-needs kids often get. The doctor tells the 1998 mother very early on: "Nobody blames you." We learn that David's father has died some years ago, but it does not explain or even try to explain David's problems. Surely his obsession has began much earlier.

What we don't really see in any of the movies but find in the book is that David spends at least two hours every morning getting obsessively clean, washing himself eight times, shaving again and again, devoting a lot of effort to his hair. The 1998 movie left me dubious - on one hand, David's hairdo was such that he could have done himself (surely no hairdresser could ever get near him!), but at the same time it did not fit (at least my) idea of an OCD image, it looked a bit too wild.

The book exposes Lisa's symptoms perfectly. You see immediately what the author (a psychiatrist!) needs you to notice. Lisa's character is quite incoherent, incomprehensible at the beginning. It's not rhyming she does as much as just mumble-jumble repetition of sounds and more or less made-up words. As Lisa's treatment (and relationship) progresses, her texts make more sense. This is where I blame Brittany Murphy. Or perhaps the director, I don't know. She says the rhymes like it's Shakespeare and not something just out of her head, repetitive and very childish. Her emotions seemed much too "normal", sorry for this very vague term, but she did not seem credible as a mentally severely handicapped person. Also, in the "masturbation" scene with the hand - she somehow makes it seem as if it's some other person's hand touching her, not her own discovery of her feminine sexuality. That might have been deliberate and in tune with the whole idea of making this "growing-up" story into a real sexual love story. Meanwhile, as we know, the concept of touch is of very high importance in this story - it's help and healing for some, and horror and torture for others.

This intention to romanticize the story could also be observed in the way that the makers of the 1998 movie changed the gender of at least two people - John (Lisa's "handler") into Maggie, and Simon (David's chess partner, the piano-playing boy) into Natalie. Lisa is supposed to feel some incomprehensible (to her) jealousy because of David's friendship with another person, but instead her jealousy is discreetly made into a much more "romantic", aggressive, possessive notion. No wonder! If Oprah calls this a "love story"! The book does not really lend itself to be perceived as such. It is really a story of slow and perhaps hopeless treatment and improvement, but for it to be a real love story it lacks the possibility of future for this relationship of two people at least one of which might never really reach real adulthood with all its responsibilities and accountability.

David, on the other hand, gets more and more involved with other people, even though he still avoids all physical contact. Watching the movies I wondered how the doctors had examined him, and the book did not disappoint and revealed all the medical notes. As the book is clearly Freudian, the dreams have the greatest significance. I found, however, that the clock scenes in the 1998 movie did not work at all. They were vague and even unmemorable. I suppose the director did not want to take a page straight out of the 1962 movie, but he should have! The book was quite clear about the way the dreams should have been portrayed, and if 1962 movie depicted his gory and very hostile, very aggressive, very destructive dreams as just disturbing, the 1998 scenes were not even that.
The same can be said about the statue in the museum. If we as viewers immediately, even somewhat viscerally  understood Lisa's longing to squeeze into the embrace of the statue between the mother and the child (I remind - we know nothing of Lisa's family or childhood traumas), then the only thing going for the 1998 statue was the complete blankness of the face, void of any features or emotions.

All in all, the 1998 movie seemed dumbed down and lacked the logic of the 1962 movie and the book. There was no catharsis in the scene where David insists on dropping the rhyming and speaking normally. Lisa just gives in for no apparent reason, while in the 1962 movie we see how scared Lisa is of losing her defense mechanism and how she reacts to a direct order from David, as from a paternal figure. It's the same with the final scene in the museum. The 1962 gives us a step-by-step account of how Lisa's and David's trust has grown. In the 1998 movie we see David's outstretched hand as a gesture of pity or mercy, not as a result of his own learning to trust people and overcome his demons. What I loved in the final scene was the much shorter physical distance from the museum to the car. With my current (very limited) understanding of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, the doctor would not have left everything in the hands of fate staying in the car several hundred metres away. We don't even see the person who has in many ways orchestrated the scene. The 1998 movie seems more plausible that way (the doctor could have easily observed the events on the stairs from the car without seeming indifferent or bold), and I really liked the symbolic way he opened the back door of the car for the "love couple" coming downstairs and holding hands.

Overall, a very good material for students of psychology, and I include my opinions in such detail for just one purpose - to watch the movies again and read my comments once I'm a full-fledged psychologist myself. I really loved the characters of the psychiatrist in both movies. He embodied everything I'm striving and hoping to be - a very sensitive, composed, benevolent, never judgmental professional. And Wikipedia provides a whole list of movies for further exploration of what has so clinically been dubbed "the human condition".

Monday, 18 August 2014

Summer's Almost Gone

Sadly, it's quite possible that today was the last time we went for a swim this year. It's getting increasingly cold, and the water is increasingly hard to get into. Still, after you've sweated out a good deal doing some manual labour (I piled all the firewood in neat(ish) stacks today!), there's nothing like shocking yourself with a cold, cold swim in the river.

The dog can't be persuaded, though.

Summer's Almost Gone.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

I'm no Princess

But my husband got quite romantic today and took me (without the kids, yay!) to Rundale Palace, the most opulent and impressive palace in Latvia. I've been there three or four times, and, to be honest, not much has changed there, but it's the first time in my life that I'm really really REALLY interested in the palace park.

So we drove a bit more than an hour to Bauska, quite a sleepy city that looked weirdly deserted. It was great getting there, there's nothing like talking all the way about all the things that I want to talk about without the kids listening.

Someone had poured some washing liquid or detergent in the fountain.

We saw a wonderful private garden that I would have loved to see more of.

We spent quite a long time looking for a place to eat. Any place with reasonable food at a reasonable price. Everything was closed on Sundays. I thought Sundays were the most profitable days, but I suppose it's just me.
Finally we found a strange place called "The Tavern". It looked rather cheap and dirty, a bit like a diner in American movies where a frumpy exhausted wife serves some mediocre food and her grumpy husband stands behind the counter. Only it wasn't like that. The food wasn't particularly cheap, and I must say, not too good either, and we waited almost an hour for it. But we were hungry and willing to overlook anything, even the very sour raspberries that tasted a lot like vinegar.

Then we went to the palace. It's huge and it's astounding, and as soon as you get in you feel that you would never want to live there, and you wonder how on earth they kept warm in there.

But we weren't allowed to take pictures (I didn't want to pay for that, knowing that I could never take better pictures than on their web page), so this is the only one I took, because there is some man in the painting with a fly above the lip.

You can't really see it in this photo very well, but there's a fly. It reminds me of this very popular picture. It must be a thing - an insect on the lip. A note to myself - must research.

All in all, I was quite happy when the tour was over and we were out in the park. It was a feast for my eyes, and Arthur indulged me, so we went to look at every plant and every gazebo.

I definitely want a pergola, and Arthur promised to make me one - "some day".

On the way home we were stopped by the police for speeding. We were very disappointed, because we hadn't noticed the sign and we don't ever go over the speed limit on purpose. After some 20 minutes spent nervously waiting for the policeman to write the ticked for 40 euros, we were set free with just a warning, and the policeman told Arthur to by flowers for his wife (me!) for those 40 euros. As if I needed flowers - it was enough to be set free without the fine!

Upon our return home we found out that kids had had two other kids over, and they had spent the whole day with them. As soon as the old folks are out of the house, the young ones are having a party!

It's Sunday night as I'm writing these words, and tomorrow is a new week with (hopefully) a lot of work. And I have to get my stuff together about the weight-loss stuff, it's getting me down a lot lately.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The Pleasure of Making Things

I don't make new clothes very often any more. Basically because I can't keep up with the demands of fashion for two style-conscious young men who are quite anxious when it comes to being seen in uncool stuff. And also - I know how much my time costs, so it's usually not cost-effective to spend four or five hours, or much more, to make something that I could buy if I worked hard for two or three hours. But I do love sewing, and there are some things I can run away with. Those are the things that rarely get seen by others - like pants or shorts for wearing at home, and also pajamas. Making them fills me with immense pride in my own craftiness and allows me to learn new things. The lingering summer heat has provided me with a perfect opportunity to brush up on those pant sewing skills that are badly underdeveloped and unused. (Did I tell you I can only make pants with elastic waist and bed-clothes, and such? I'm no good with more complicated designs like stretchy fabrics, T-shirts or - God forbid - a dress!)

I've made more camouflage fabric shorts over the years than I care to count. There are at least three reasons for that.
1) The fabric is dead easy to sew - it has lines on the wrong side that make measuring, drawing and cutting incredibly convenient.
2) It's a rather safe bet that the boys are going to wear them. The novelty has worn off over the last four or five years, I must admit, and I wouldn't buy camouflage any more now, but I got this fabric last year and just didn't get around to sewing. You can never know if the boys would actually wear the blue or green, or black, or grey that I would imagine the boys would like when buying the fabric, and I know from experience that taking them (or the husband, for that matter) to the fabric store with me not only bores the living daylight out of them, but also completely ruins the magical joy that I experience in such venues.
3) Camouflage fabric disguises dirt! What's not to love?

I've noticed the shorts I've made a couple (three? four? hopefully not five!) years ago have "shrunk" on the boys to the extent they almost need to lie down to pull them on. A sure sign of growing! And an even more sure sign of a need for new shorts!

Sewing is like gardening - you can only learn by doing, and by now I have a pretty clear idea of what works and what doesn't. Like, now I know The Boys need deep pockets in the front - they have wallets, and money, and phones now! I hadn't done sewn in pockets before, but it really proved to be very easy. I'll keep making them. I also know I need a wider elastic, but I don't see a visit to a fabric store any time soon, so I'll have to do with a rather narrow one for the waist.

It's a real treat to take time away from work, especially on such hot days as these, to make something new. To hide in the bedroom with closed curtains to block out the light, to have some gardening programs providing heavenly and inspiring background noise, and to cut, and sew, and iron (yes, even iron in 37 degrees Celsius), and to come out for brief moments to measure someone's waist or to ask someone to try on the almost finished garment, and then - yes, to present it to a boy who's happy not just because he really needs new shorts, but also because he knows how much pleasure his mom has in her own private blissful sanctuary behind the closed doors of the bedroom - sewing away.

(I couldn't choose one picture, because - just look at the dog!)

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Summer Heat Wave

It's so hot it's very hard to get down to work. We spend our days swimming in the river, and I spend my nights translating.
The garden seems a bit tired - or it might be just me. Lobelias have spread and filled out all the space, so it looks nice. It's always interesting to see which plants take over the garden. It's lobelias this year because I've sown literally hundreds from seed and now I have lobelias everywhere. Surely it's going to be something quite different next year.

Each year my knowledge and understanding of gardening grows, and so do my ambitions.
There are things I know I won't be sowing again any time soon - like the leafy goosefoot (chenopodium foliosum) that I'm quite disappointed in. It's called "spinach strawberry" in my native language, and it tastes nothing like strawberries. If anything, it tastes like spinach, a bit bland and to some extent even a bit unpleasant. It gets better if it's very ripe, but still... It does have some ornamental value, however.

Gladioli are starting to burst open, and the blood red silk is spilling out. I love gladioli, but I hope they wait a bit. I planted them later on purpose - to have flowers to give the teachers on September 1. I do hope they wait just four more weeks... But you can't keep a flower in the bud if it's determined to come out.

I've harvested the onions - not a lot, and not very big, but those are just some nice side-effects of having spring-onions up till now.

On Friday we got the firewood delivered. It's one of those seasons - like you have a strawberry season, and then there's the car repair season, and there's firewood season. I will have to find time to put it all away in neat rows in the shed... But not today. It's just too hot.

It was just as hot yesterday, and I suggested we went on a nightly roadtrip to the seaside. It was the best decision - the trip was not as excruciating in our AC-less car, and the beach was rather vacant, if not for some youths in tents. The water was just perfect, and I did just a tiny little bit of skinny-dipping in the dark while the kids had their sandwiches in the dunes. Made my husband excited about swimming in the sea as well.

I'm longing for a thunderstorm. The last one was four days ago, and it seems like an eternity. Everything is dry, and I'm tired of this heat. Will I really have to go downstairs to the cellar and search for the electric fan? I hate wasting electricity on things I can do without, bet I have a huge job to do this night, and perhaps it's time I admitted I really can't do without it.
But four days ago we had a thunderstorm that was also long overdue, and I sat on the stairs outside the house and let the water cool me down, and the dog was so anxious about the thunder I had to comfort him constantly.

Oh, good times. is not my friend and predicts some rain no sooner that next Thursday with temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius every single day...
But it's summer, and in just seven or eight months I'll be ready to give up anything just to have some warm weather again.