Planet Night Lights

Window lights swallowed most stars
save a few warriors:
Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Orion

But the city can’t wash away
the solidity of planets: Mars, rising
red over the gable facing
my lone dark window

Jupiter, hovering nearby
Saturn, lingering
in the halo of a crescent Moon

I fall asleep as Venus brightens dawn

Lark of Concrete Fields (Poetry Portrait)

He danced in a field of wild flowers,
took their memory across the sea
– long weeks away from home
(but the game went with him, even when he played on foreign shores)

There’s golden sunshine and the colour of rain-wet straw,
the lark in the meadow sings out to him,
and the song of a travelling bard
(and the songs play inside him, beckoning to follow)

A spring in his step and sparkling laughter in his eyes,
he dances for himself and fights for a better world,
miles to go and people to meet
(be it on green grass or grey pavement, both are his playground)

hungry for stars

I’m hungry for stars, longing to see the Milky Way again on summer nights and in the dark mid-winter. The light pollution in this city is too strong. I wish I could sit on the roof and see more than just a few faint stars against the never really dark sky. I’d take pictures and print them to cover my walls like I did with the posters of space nebulae and fantastic creatures I had when I was younger. I miss really feeling part of this galaxy.

first carrot

Today I had my first home-grown carrot for breakfast.

I found it when I was checking my flower vegetable pots and boxes because we had a lot of rain the last few nights and I don’t have a draining system for my tiny garden. Curious me decided to see how the carrots and radishes were faring, because especially the former ones are growing pretty close to each other. In the middle of the box I found this lovely carrot, then decided to eat it, as it wouldn’t have grown much bigger anyway – it was nearly as long as the box is deep already, and squeezed in between of some smaller carrots (which now have new room to grow).

When I was a young child and we still lived in a village we had some carrots in our big garden, but when we moved to a small town the soil in our garden there didn’t work for carrots (or the snails ate them all). Last year my first tiny urban garden yielded nothing but some bitter lettuce and a handful of mini-potatoes as the rest of my vegetables dried up in the sun, so this was the very first carrot all planted, cared for, and eaten by be my. It didn’t taste that good (a little on the bitter side), but I don’t care.I don’t now if I told you before, but my plan of decorating the roof in front of our east-facing windows with cornflowers worked! They don’t need a lot of soil, apparently, to bloom in wonderful shades of blue and purple.

caring, repairing, replacing

Springtime. Sunshine, and time to get things fixed.

Last week I brought my bicycle to the repair shop nearby because I was too lazy to find and put on a new headlight, and I didn’t feel confident about tightening the chain myself (gear hub and badly rusted screws … I used to know how to put the gear hub of my old bike back on, but always did the repairs together with my dad). Today I could take it home, and a few minutes ago I got a call that my camera is good to go already as well – I took it to a shop for a sensor cleaning only yesterday!

It’s the first time I’m spending a lot of money on things I already own, but it makes me happy that there are possibilities to care for things so they will last, instead of just wearing them out and then throwing them away. The bike I use is really my mother’s (we swapped our bikes some years ago, because the frame of my old one didn’t fit my proportions – my legs are a little shorter than hers, I guess), and I bought the DSLR from a person I know. So both items are not new, both have their flaws and limits, but both are worth caring for them.

I try to expand the repair mentality to many concepts, but it is really hard to find shoes that will last longer than their soles. Today I decided to replace my slippers after having worn them nearly daily for more years than I can remember. Five? Seven? Sadly I can’t have them repaired, because they are completely worn out and one has broken to the point of tripping me every few days. The only thing still intact are the straps and buckles. I hope that my ankle boots will survive many years though so I’ll be able to take them to a shoemaker instead of buying new ones all the time, as I chose them specifically to be easy to maintain by classical measures.

Aside from that I really should learn how to mend clothes properly (right now two of my favourite pairs of tights are waiting for some new yarn), but most of my torn items are beyond hope, I fear. Especially my “sportswear”.

Last week I bought the first “new” pair of sweatpants since I moved out from my parents’ (nearly six years … and the sweatpants are even older) even though the old pair is still in a somewhat wearable condition, at least according to my definition. So I won’t throw away the old sweatpants immediately, despite the fact that they are starting to show the usual wear and tear, which looks really grubby on what used to be bright orange. I just don’t want to wear them around other people anymore, especially when said people wear crisp white abadás or at least somewhat decent gym clothes. The black pair I wear now will be more neutral in different settings, and more forgiving when it comes to ageing, I hope. Bonus: I got it for cheap at the second-hand store. I own another pair of older black sweatpants, but I don’t think that mending would salvage them, and I’ll put them away soon.

My usual gym shirt (a cotton band shirt I inherited years and years ago from a person I can’t remember) is so old and worn that it’s just a few holes shy of being more suitable for a rag. At least this way I don’t have to care about what happens to it when rolling around on the floor or whatever. But now that I try to put more efforts into my play the baggy shirt has become more of a nuisance and I switched to a double-layer of old black tops I found in the back of our closet. So I’m stuck with a shabby shirt I’m very attached to, and snug tops that are too short. At least I feel more confident in my newly assembled snug, black attire, and less like a total loser trying to keep up with the cool kids.

First lesson I take home from this … it’s important to repair things, to care for what I own, but at some point I’ll have to decide whether I want to be enslaved by my own rules, or whether I grant myself the freedom to replace something before it falls apart. Ask yourself if you need the new thing. If it’s a valid need, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s emotional or physical. I’m not talking about binge shopping to overcome depression, mind you, and neither would I dare comparing emotional needs to bare essentials like food for starving people! But if a young child wished for a plush alligator instead of grandma’s creepy old doll to protect them from monsters at night and it’s the only thing that will help them sleep, is this a less valid need than a new set of coloured pencils for the older sibling who is in school already? If someone is left by the love of their life, wouldn’t they feel the urge to replace the dishes that person bought for them after a while, because of the emotional weight of these everyday items? If a pair of sweatpants is what keeps me from seeing myself as the weird loser girl no one in their right mind would want to teach new moves, this investment is more justified than upgrading from a bar-style cell phone to a smartphone just because it’s soooo important to have good hardware when I don’t need one (yep, I still don’t own a smartphone. Maybe I’m a weird hippie with weird priorities.) I don’t have to buy new tank tops right away, because the ones I own are borderline comfortable and will (hopefully) do their job until I either decide to join a club and get their garb, or move to a different city. Ask yourself if it is a good thing to replace an item before its time, and take some time to come to an honest answer.

Speaking of replacing … I’d rather fix our laundry rack with glue and a chopstick than replace it with a new one I feel I’ll hate. I hate being “forced” to replace things. I want THIS laundry rack. I didn’t want to replace the cheap pair of kitchen scissors that was merely three years old, but it was next to impossible to fix them, which made me angry. Hi, my name is Starfish, I’m stubborn and very attached to random household items.

Second lesson: When replacing old stuff, buy sturdy things, if possible with exchangeable parts. Choose items of a quality that will make them survive the strongest or clumsiest person frequenting your living space, no matter whether that’s yourself, your spouse, random friends, or even the toddler or cat you want to add to your household in a few years from now. Buy neutral things in a style you really like – if you buy quality and intend to keep something for years, you shouldn’t follow currents trends, because otherwise you might be very angry with  yourself when next season that hot pink leather couch with lime green applications or the anatomically correct heart-shaped coffee table made from oakwood will be out of fashion.

Third lesson … I need to write shorter posts. This one started out as two short paragraphs, but then my mind began to wander.

serendipity and finding things: wooden crate

From early childhood on I’ve had a tendency to find things. Funny things, expensive things, beautiful things, and material for creating new things. Some examples were big coins at the beach, a golden ring with a teeny tiny brilliant in a street in my hometown (of course we took it to the lost property office, but nobody claimed it, so after a year we could take it home for a small fee), small stones guiding my way, single earrings, big picture frames, and today a big wooden crate.

I like wooden crates, but the prices are crazy at the moment. The one I found today is pretty sturdy and has nicely stencilled lettering saying “Mount Athos Vineyard” in red, so at a home decoration store it would cost 20-30€! It was just there, leaning against a tree in the small street I usually come along when going to the mall for grocery shopping. I sent a short prayer for it to be there upon my return from my errands, et voilà, when I came back it still sat there in all its wooden glory. Sure, I had to scrub it and it would need a bit of sanding if I wanted to put delicate things into it, but it perfectly fits on top of my nightstand (which we found in the attic of our current apartment, by the way) and will serve as a small bookshelf for my favourite volumes. I like reading in bed and had been looking for a storage solution for some books for a while, so its a really nice instance serendipity :)

I hope to be able to share more findings and other cases of serendipity in the future. Sometimes things come for free if we just wait a little while – for another example, after I had been wishing for a sewing machine for some years we got a pretty good one for free from friends, we only had to pay for the repair it needed (we got if fixed a few weeks ago, finally).

A dream of life and light

Washing the dust of centuries off my window I discovered anew the brilliant blueness of the sky, and I began to dream and dance, feeling the cluttered space called “home” is not big enough to hold the soul of a daydreamer and the grace of sunlight dancing tiptoed across a floor covered in dust-bunnies scared of brutally honest daylight.

At night I felt the darkness of the city closing in, not the darkness caused by the absence of light but rather the antonymic omnipresence of shallow light and screens  and neon signs leaving no place for the magic of stories told in the dark. So I filled a jar with colourful lights myself and put up a tiny cardboard sign, “here be fireflies”, and I danced to music nearly as old as myself and pretended the room was adjacent not to street lamps and rows upon rows of three-story houses but to open fields and grass covered paths leading to creaky doors hiding more rooms holding wonder and bold dreams instead of the plastic-shaped pieces of cheap and short-lived idols of these dreams.

For a moment I could believe that dancing and dreaming would be enough for creating one night of tidal waves sweeping away all the speechless artefacts of a culture with nothing new to tell, but when I opened the eyes of my inner child again, all the heaps of rubble covered in the blood of dying hearts had remained in streets wandered by screen-chained ghosts and surrounded by beauty robbed of attention and pure-minded admiration.

Still, every now and then I meet someone, most of the time a child, who is not yet oblivious to the magic of the beauty in between and who might be willing to learn the art of dreaming away the gangrenous layers of one-use happiness and purchasable instant status covering the fresh, green part of our society still pulsing with true hopes and a hunger for life stripped of needless weights and surrounded by open windows.