Thursday, June 28, 2007

In Lübeck

I'm staying with my sister in Lübeck for a couple of days. At the moment we are sitting on her bed G., my sister and I all with our laptops waiting for R., my sister's boyfriend, to wake up from his nap. He had a hard day at the clinic and declared he couldn't go out for dinner if he didn't have his two minutes of sleep.
We had a great day doing almost nothing. My sister has the flat in the center of town, everything in walking distance. We went out to get some funky Roiboos tea (Peach&Cream and Creativity) some sugar free licorice, Gummybears , some German Books and a cool poster.(Two things in life one can't do without: cats and books). One of the books is by a German comedian about his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. According to my cousin it was great fun to read. And the must-have in Lübeck: Coffee at Niederegger! I had a marzipan flavoured black tea. Not bad!
- .... we just came back from dinner-
We had a very funny, very nice dinner at the Steakhouse which had a great view of the Holstentor!
I really enjoy holidays!
The blanket I made for my sister was finished in time and she loves it! Unfortunately I forgot to make a picture at home and just took one yesterday night with bad lighting with G's camera. I will put them on the blog when I'm back home. Despite a very happy sister (which made me forget the long depressive weeks of working simple garter stitch) I wouldn't knit a log cabin adult size blanket again all that soon. It looks great, but it's really heavy to knit the last two rectangles, it pulls on the arms. But I found a similar pattern online...I'll post more about that later as well....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Here they are!

A couple of weeks ago I won the coffee and yarn still life contest on the Knitter's Coffee Swap. The prize arrived last Saturday and made me really happy!
I never had stichmarkers before: I always used different coloured yarn. Ever since I discovered that stichmarkers exist I was very tempted to get them, but I could never bring myself to buy any as they are the sort of luxury my mother and grandmother would call me insane for buying. They have used coloured yarn for 'centuries', why would I need something like this now....?
I guess I'm much more influenced by them than I'd like to admit :-) BUT the problem was solved by winning some! They are absolutely beautiful. A wonderful work of art! And you can get them on Etsy - in case you were wondering....

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sentences I really enjoyed hearing ... NOT!

I've been wanting to write a following post about my illness ever since I received a first comment on my first post. I know there are others like me out there :-) Today seems to be a perfect day for it, as I can't do much anyway. It's what I would qualify as medium-bad day. I sit here with a gel eyemask over my swollen eye (I'm not quite sure why exactly my body came up with this response to having pushed it slightly over the edge, it's only the second time ever). Obvioulsy it's only one eye, otherwise I wouldn't be able to write, but in order to see sharply, I have to wear glasses over the eye-mask - what a pretty picture! I rejoiced in the fact that the mask and my T-shirt are both blue: at least I'm stylish and colour co-ordinated!
I'll try to do some knitting later, some low brain activity project. The problem I found with these medium-bad days is that I'm not allowed to sleep too much, I have to find something that keeps me sitting and reasonably occupied, otherwise I get bored and am a pain for everyone around me. The idea of writing on the blog is a new try, I'll see how it works out.

Sentences I have heard over the years from the day I started feeling unwell up to today.
The first one that comes to mind was said to me during a date. This "man" (for want of a better word) suddenly said he really liked me, but since my genepool was contaminated he didn't see any future for us (i.e. he couldn't think of marriage). But he'd still like to go out with me if I'd agree to his terms. HA! On a second date he thought of marriage? Pahlease! He definitely had a big enough ego for a whole company. Once I had recovered enough from this experience to be able to tell this story to friends, a wide variety of plans have been developed since, how I could have dealt satisfactorily with that situation: He and I had gone out to a restaurant and I had just started my soup - wouldn't it have been perfect to throw this into his face right there and then?! Well, I'd love to say I did, but in the actual event I didn't. I just went home.
You need good sleep is another one of my favourites. The irony that it's called 'Chronic Fatigue Syndrom' does not mean that you can sleep or that sleep really recharges your batteries.
If I'd be you I'd go and see a doctor - ?!? At that time I had already seen so many of them that I needed more than my own hands and feet to count them. I should have dealt creatively with this situation! I should have thought about getting a signature of all the doctors I saw (with date and time) and then got them printed on my T-shirt.
Today I felt really tired, I know now how you feel. Hmm really? Your legs are in pain/going numb, you are exhausted but unable to sleep, you have to consider whether you have the strength to make it from your bed to the toilet to empty the few contents of your stomach without breaking down on the stairs? I'm so glad to be understood. (G. edited the last two sentences, she feels it makes more sense to non-CFS people. I rarely talk about the actual symptoms. Because if I did, I'd get the 'It must be horrible to get this' monologue, see below.) But then again what can one expect having something called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It sounds like we should sleep all day anyway.
You are still young- I never really understood this one. Several interpretations seem possible. Young means healthy therefore 1) you are not allowed to be ill or 2) you are just faking it, because you can't seriously be as unwell as you claim as you haven't reached the dentures cleaning age?
You are young therefore it's not as bad. As bad as what, as if I'd be 80? What do people mean?
What's one (two, tree, five) years in a life? I don't know, what is it? It's time, most probably and it's relative. Maybe it means that I should be grateful that it was only five years that I had to put my life on complete hold while my life as I knew it slipped away.
Couldn't it be in your mind - AH! There it is. Finally, our all-time favourite! My favourite version of this one acctually is when it comes from aunty Emma or uncle Franz who have just discovered the word psychosomatic in a popular magazine. Totally convinced that they found the only true solution lots of amateur psychologists (unfortunately many professionals as well) keep screaning your life for possible undigested, unresolved problems. I my case it was fear of the unknown - I just started university, I was a musician - and we all know they are neurotic - I was a young women - too sensitive. I still lived with my parents - couldn't detach from home. Actually, my mother had to hear that I only got ill, because she couldn't let me go. Go, where? When I insisted that I did what I loved and was sucessfull, I was too busy and I just needed more rest, or maybe - and this is the best - in my heart of hearts I wasn't really happy doing what I wanted and therefore my body sent me this message.
You don't look sick. There are two versions of this, one is actually meant in a nice way. In the case of the second one, you feel like you have to apologise that you are not the image of a sick person. Also really wrong in this scenario: laughing. Happiness is only for the healthy.
Oh my God, it must be horrible to get this. Ah, I thought "a beam of sunlight, someone understands". My hope got shattered a second later with the question if it would be contagious. After I answered that I didn't think so, a monologue followed about "how horrible to get this". I'd had preferred the monologue "how horrible to have this". One year, my parents couldn't rent a friends' holiday cottage (despite the fact that I didn't plan to come along) because my illness was classified by these people as contagious.

There are still a couple of very interesting sentences, but I think I'll save then for another time. If some of you who are reading this have experienced similar things, please leave a comment! I know you're out there reading this blog, so just leave a comment.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Don Giovanni at Covent Garden

I just got home from a very fun evening out at London's Covent Garden. BP is putting on big-screen events all over the place, broadcasting live from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. So, we were sitting out in the square with about 3000-4000 others, watching on the big screen what was being performed inside the house (you can see the blob of light in the distance - that's the screen!).
After the mad scramble for a seat, that is floor space for my little blanket(and 'seats' for M. and T. who came at different times, as they finished work a bit later than I did), it was a great night out, and there wasn't as much rain as in previous years (just the odd shower that was easily coped with by wearing one of the free ponchos the organisers had distributed at the entrance).
Sarah Fox sang a great Zerlina, Erwin Schrott was strong and sexy as Don Giovanni, and Anna Maria Martinez did a cracking good Donna Elvira. Oh - and here is the proof picture: my knitting project grew as well during the .... less intesting... bits ;-) For a review of the Don Giovanni Premiere, have a look at Intermezzo's blog!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Worldwide Knit in Public Day

G and I joined the Stich and Bitch London Knit Crawl through London on yesterday's Worldwide Knit in Public Day. They started out at noon at St. Paul's, went across the river to Tate Modern, then to the Jubilee Gardens (under the London Eye) and finished by knitting under the Lions at Trafalgar Square from 5pm to 6pm. We joined them for the last two places only.... we had to buy some wool first :) Our local yarn shop is celebrating its first birthday - Happy Birthday, Stash! I had to buy some more yarn for my sister's blanket (the one that never seems to get to an end) and G bought some very nice kidsilk in sage and indigo - lace knitting is her new addiction and it took long enough for the Victorian Lace book to arrive! She waited for over a month for it.
So, armed with our knitting, we searched for the weird and wonderful people who would want to meet and knit in public, and we found them under the London Eye as it said in the Stich and Bitch Newsletter. My item of choice was the sockapalooza sock (as seen in the picture). G had her wonderfully soft HandMaiden shawl project. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm quite shy joining a new group and I always think no one is ever going to talk to me. Well, this wasn't true for this cool group of knitters. It didn't take much time and people in the group (as well as random passers-by) would ask about our projects. Initally I only wanted to stay for the Jubilee Gardens, but it was too nice talking, so that we ended up going to Trafalgar Square as well (and to the Pub after that....) This proved to be quite a challenge as there was a Free-Palestine-Demostration going on at Trafalgar. The person dealing with the sound system must have had a really bad day and the noise level was annoyingly high. So we ended up as a sort of added bonus attraction to the Lions for passing tourists (amongst questions of "are you knitting for peace?" "are you knitting for Palestine?" "what do you want to achieve by knitting here?"). All in all a lovely day!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Prize won for educational work

For the second time in two years we have been awarded an honoured mention at the prestigious competition "Kinder zum Olymp" (Children to the Olympus) for our educational work in 2006. We are the only independent music group ever to have achieved that. I'm very proud of the work we have done. We have been added to the official list and you can check out some more pictures and details (all in German, sorry) here and here.
Looking through the list of who won the last two years, I didn't find anything similar to what we do. Probably we are mad, it's an incredible amount of work! In order to have scenes from operas that kids can safely sing, we need to cruise through the entire opera repertoire and then write a new show to put all of them together in a logical order. It gives the kids a sense of achievement when they get to perform with real opera singers on a real stage. From the feedback we got it's also a huge form of encourgement to the kids. My two favourite feedbacks from those workshops were: 1) 'I now believe that I can achieve everything that I want to.' - (and that came from a group of kids with incredibly low self esteem), and 2) in answer to the question of the National Television interview 'what is the difference between singing your favourite pop songs at home and opera at this workshop?', the boy looked at the lady slightly bewildered and said 'We just sing higher.'

All of this puts me in the right mood to go out an join the S&B London for the international knitting in public day. So, everyone now - don't sit behind your computer, go out and get knitting!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

My package arrived!

My Knitter's Coffee Swap package arrived from California yesterday. It couldn't have come at a better time. Our rental agreement expires in two months and we are negotiating with the agency - is it really called negotiating if you are bullied into an agreement...? Anyway, no more breath should be wasted on this matter here - my swap package arrived yesterday and looked like this...... You have no idea how hard it was not to rip it open straight away and to take pictures before!

Then it looked like this - and still you can't see what great things were hidden inside. My swap pal wrote that she could track down the package until San Fransisco on the 23rd of May, then it disappeared in space -or rather on a flight to London and spent a considerable time at customs until it arrived on my doorstep.
Inside I found three skeins of Lopi yarn from Iceland perfect for a felted bag (I wanted to make one for sooo long) one skein of Debbie' Bliss cashemerino dk in a petrol color (absolutely stunning color, never seen that one before) and 2 different sorts of coffee. I'm saving it for the weekend. (God, I wished it would be Saturday already!)
This wasn't all! My swap pal also found me a photo album (I have been looking for one for quite a while but couldn't find a nice one), Californian pine nuts and pistachio (how did she know that I love them?!) some sugar free sweets (I can't have 'real' sugar) and a pattern for a felted bag. It virtually made me hop and skip to work like a small child. (I'm the sort of person who hops when happy). Thank you my lovely pal!