23 September 2009

Wiring issues

Today I am using the oldest ever Nokia in Turkey while my one-year old cell phone is getting serviced. In the meantime, my computer decided to crash while doing Auto Update (what's the point of this function if it only causes mid-week distress?), which means victory points for my darling husband who hates Apple. And to top it off, I couldn't speak Turkish today to save my life while trying to explain said malfunction. So everything is on hold again, except for the fact that I was able to sneak in a stop at the habberdashery (love that word) for DMC floss and canvas. No photo today because I'm separated from my computer, of course. Hoping your day was more pleasant...

18 September 2009

Babar the Pillow

This weekend marks the start of Sugar Holiday, ┼×eker Bayram─▒, the end of Ramazan, and with it comes visiting family and delicious food. This usually entails a freshly cleaned house for visitors, too, and new outfits for the kids. Tomorrow I'll be cleaning and baking (looks like I'll make a brunch cake with blackberries), and I'm already hungry thinking about it. I managed to squeeze in one last project before fall cleaning takes over, though, and it turned out to be a (tiny) pillow.

I stitched this Babar pattern when I was pregnant with Lina and needed a quick project. I think that if I just did rows and rows of x's without any pattern at all, I would be just as happy as a real pattern because a good, long row of uninterrupted stitches is as close I get to meditation these days. But it's hard to gift projects with random stitches. I read somewhere, several years back, about how really truly subversive stitching has been for women at various points in history, because in the act of stitching, one has contemplative thought and makes room for imagination and desire. That could, of course, be dangerous if you were not encouraged to think. My friend Tara talks about this regarding the intricate 'oya' lace patterns traditionally done by village women in Turkey in her blog post Needlework and Crystals.

Today I made the little pillow and stuffed it, propping it on Topi's bed where I hope he'll discover it when he comes home from nursery today.

Happy Bayram! Iyi bayramlar!

17 September 2009

From Australia, with love

This past summer I did a magazine swap with the lovely Keryn of Eighty Days Design. I got the magazines before I left for a trip home to the US, but for one reason or another didn't get to delve into them until my return. I also think that because we were in completely different seasons (it was winter for her in July-August), I couldn't dive into pictures of warm slippers and sweaters, deeper colors like browns, reds and yellow, until now. I think that was one kind of enjoyable outcome of the swap - it gave me something to save for later, and now that we are getting a chill in the air in the morning and evening, sitting down with these magazines is pure heaven. She sent me not only three design magazines, including Vogue Living and Frankie magazine, but also gorgeous fabric and some of her cards.

I have big plans for this fabric, and now that I'm cross-stitching again, it will involve a hoop and some embroidery thread.  Note the cute lion head below the fabric? That's because Lina's crib is in my studio. Studio by day, nursery by night.

I noticed a little bit of a Turkish theme running through Inside Out magazine that Keryn sent me.   In an article on things under $100, I found this great pillow of the Aya Sophia in Istanbul from PipWilly. And then, Turkey's very own Divan Turkish Delight, below, made the same spread. 

Keryn's blog is wonderful, and it is fun to see her influences and behind-the-scenes peeks into how she makes her cards. Thank you Keryn, for the new project, some great morning magazine reading, and some beautiful cards that I can't decide whether to save or send....

07 September 2009


I've recovered two of my very first, badly made stitching projects from my childhood home. One I write about here, or hint at, rather. It's a stitching of a pink rabbit I probably started when I was between 8 to 10 years old that I never finished, and for the fun of it thought I would not only finish now at age 30, but also turn into Lina's birth record. I'm nearly done, but keep finding some reason not to finish it just yet. I wonder if it being 22-years old and sentimental has anything to do with it.

The second is of this little house, still in the aqua blue plastic hoop from when I dropped this project, probably around the same age. I think it must have come before the pink rabbit because my stitching is atrocious. The back-side of it is a maze of sad, confused and knotted yarn, all the strands wrapped around each other in an attempt to get somewhere else. I don't remember who helped me with this piece. I learned from a few different people, including my Grandma Schueller, our lovely elderly neighbor Evelyn Sveum across the ridge (we lived in a valley, and our nearest neighbors were on actual hilly ridges), or my babysitter. I certainly know it wasn't my mother because she had died when I was six. I have a framed "My Sampler of Stitches" that my mom made when she was 10 and it hangs now in my hallway here, after being stuck in a box for four years.

The needle

But whoever is responsible for teaching me let me use an extremely large needle for this small project! No wonder I had anxious decision making about where to put it and how to pull it through the fabric. Or maybe I had picked the needle myself, thinking that the bigger, sharper, and more deadly the needle, the better. Regardless, sadly, I let this one remain unfinished. Unlike the pink bunny, there is no resuscitation for this ugly little house. I'm thinking I'll just take off the hoop, hand-clean it and iron it and then frame it. Why frame it? It's ugly in a cute way, I guess, and I'm going through a phase where I like to frame everything. I've framed a lot of cross-stitching in the last year or so, like this, this, and this, and more. The problem is that our walls are concrete and it is impossible to nail and/or drill through them. So they act as props, or I rotate them. But framing a stitching somehow elevates it, kitsch-ifies it, and gives it more proper attention than stored away, don't you think?

05 September 2009

While she sleeps

Is there anything wrong about eating potato chips, a fried egg, and plain rice for breakfast? Blame in on my flu, but in combination together, it just tasted wonderful. I was able to tolerate a cup of medium strength coffee (yesterday was weak, and may have accounted for my headache later), and feel much more optimistic about the state of my health now that I know I can go take a shower while Lina sleeps. It's funny to me that essential things, things like showering, get pushed aside when one's children are small. Or maybe I've just gotten lazy and used to it, but it is not uncommon for three days to pass before a blinking light goes off that I can't remember my last shower. This is horrible, for more than one reason, but doesn't seem to bother anyone in my family because I stopped pleading for shower breaks a few months ago and no one noticed.
Something else of consequence has happened in our household (blame it on the full moon a few nights ago) because of a certain argument about money, again. Growing up in my family, we didn't really openly discuss money unless it was to sit down and make a list for a pro/con-type-decision-making situation. In my husband's family, every other word out of their mouth has a dollar figure in it (or should I say lira?). If someone goes to the grocery store, they ask about how much the groceries were. They ask about credit card bills. They talk about bus money and minus accounts and mortgages and school bills and how much clothing costs and how expensive vegetables at the bazaar costs and how much of a rip-off restaurants are because they are too expensive. Everything is either too expensive or not discussed at all. Whenever I point out the value of something pricey (buying this home appliance/pair of shoes/suit IS expensive, but outweighs buying a cheaper one that will breakdown or fall apart), they just shake their heads with disapproval. This is not to say that I care too much about it at this point. I have been indoctrinated into the family enough to care less about what they say about my purchases. The point is that my husband's way of talking about money (openly, freely, with love), is the opposite of mine (closed, panicky, defensively) and once in a while we have fun, drawn-out arguments that last days.
Case in point two nights ago. Which gave me a lot to think about because for the first time it got through to me that my strategy wasn't working. Though I have not been asked, I am going to do something I think nearly impossible: give full disclosure about spending to my hubby through the form of a little notebook with figures in it. I have to do it my way, of course. Spreadsheets are SO not my thing. And this little notebook is a token of my love because I agree that I am nasty when talking about money. I retreat into my little hole and don't come out until I think the coast is clear. I am the only one responsible for this, and I've used up my free tokens for the argument that "Americans just think differently about money!" because clearly, it is more important to me that all things regarding finance happen more smoothly in our household than they have been.
Thus, a cute little notebook that I spent $3.99 on from Cartolina Cards via GreetQ. My first entry in the notebook is $13.46 for an eReader download this morning, thinking I would take a chance on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because it seems everyone in Europe has been wild about it. But first I have to finish my compulsive reading of Julie & Julia, with which I have fallen in love, despite my misgivings. I will say that I am glad that I didn't read it when it first came out in 2005, even though I've had it on my to-read list for that long. Because I had just married, because I abhorred cooking my first year in Turkey, and because reading the first few pages about a woman in the subway who was destructively mad totally turned me off, I thought I'd save it for later. I'm glad I saved it for now even though everyone else is reading it and watching the movie. I'm not opposed to mainstream fixations. Lately, I am delighted by mine.
Hopefully this tangent won't get in the way of me taking my shower, the very first thing I had on my mind once Lina fell asleep. My apologies for the extra-long posts these days. For some reason, taking six weeks off from blogging has made me come back enthralled.
Happy weekend, everyone.

04 September 2009

A Day of Rest

 Big Sky, Little Hideaway, 2004

It shouldn't surprise me that now that I've finally got time to work (baby sleeping, Topi at school), I'm indisposed.  The snails in our neighborhood have more energy than me right now, using it to bravely cross trecherous sidewalks, of which there are plenty (snails and trecherous sidewalks). The same snails that I adore and point out excitedly to my husband or kids or to passers-by and then accidentally step on with a horrible crunch, usually at night, after a rainfall. If I've mentioned this before, I'm sorry. I still swear I can hear the tiny snail scream as it suffers below my hoof. My husband, when he really wants to touch a nerve, calls me affectionately, "Snail Killer."

I suppose that if I have enough energy to muse about dying snails, I should have enough to work on one of many things that make my desk look like mini-pilgrimages up the Pyramids. Neatly stacked things does not mean organization, though. It means orderly disfunction, in my world. It means that in the process of trying to arrange my life and control it that I make little piles of things, group things together in platonic relationships so that I feel better.

The lack of energy does come from something legit, though. It started with a few unhappy grumbles of my stomach three days ago (could have been the excessive amount of chocolate milk I was drinking with my children, just like Topi likes it: milk in a glass with two scoops of chocolate milk power on top, not mixed, so he can scoop out the chocolate and ask for more. I protested this until I tried it out myself, realizing it was delicious.) and has turned into my late-summer-early-fall stomach flu. Without fail this time of year for the last three years I have to eat salted potatoes and rice with yogurt (and butter, because I can't live without the butter) and wave goodbye to my family as I cloister myself in the bathroom for a week. Sorry.

I chalk it up to the seasons changing, or that my life tends to change in some way in the fall, mimicking the start of the school year like it used to. Either way, despite the unpleasantness, forced rest is usually just what I need because most of the time I am either really excited about something or panicking about it. Both can happen in the same five minutes. 

I'm reading a book that everyone else is reading right now about another 30-year old who's personal experiment (this time, in the kitchen) turned into literary fame while I rest, and waiting for feedback on some work I've done so I can do revision #210. The calm right now, the illusion of calm, I should say, is only because I've gone through my Gmail and labeled everything so they are in neat little subcategories. Look, no mail! But my TO DO label in bright red still haunts me from the left-hand side of the screen and I meekly look at it and hope it doesn't start flashing. 

Does anybody really listen to their body when they are worn down, tired, anxious and overdoing it? If you do, pray tell. I have lost count of the number of times I've cut back, made changes, etc, to slow down the pace, and I pretty much always end up right where I started. In the most pleasant way, I am grateful for this because I always find things that captivate me that I want to do, make, learn about. On the other hand, over-committment and exhaustion go hand in hand. Even reading becomes a sporting event, hurtling through pages so I can start another one because I just don't know when I'll have the time again. But regardless, this time I'm listening to the clanging bell of my body telling me to take a break and only moving my fingers about the keyboard because the idea struck me that you, too, might relate to that. And if so, I'd like to know about it. 

01 September 2009

The calm and the storm

The calm

I've been back in Turkey for two weeks, and now that it is September 1st (my favorite month because psst... it's my birthday month! and because I've never lost the thrill of fall and the start of school) I'm back in full swing after taking my sweet old time. Which means I'm skipping the part about being calm and stress-free and going straight to fried and edgy.

The storm

The big news this week is that Topi has started "school" and with that comes a real routine! For the first time in three years! Lina will stay home with me, and we'll work something out, but I'll still be working while she naps and when I can bribe her to play independently after she wakes up.

This morning, when it hit me that I'm back where I started regarding the stress of juggling two kids while working at home, I thought of the three Escape Tactics I use to deal with it all: reading, stitching, and cleaning (but how come my house is never clean?). I'm determined to finish Lina's birth record before she is 2, so I picked this up again while my living room swirled with two little kids swinging from the pipes and using the phone cord as a jump rope (yes, we have a phone with a cord because Topi destroyed our cordless two years ago. I'm not going to replace it until they are both 10 years old). And now I'm going to pick up my embroidery floss off the floor.