Sunday, September 9, 2012

The spice of life

So here I am in Bonn! The apartment my husband and I share is small, as you might expect in Europe, though not our smallest ever apartment. That would be the first place we lived in New York, which came in at a whopping 200 square feet. This place, while bigger, has some features that make it pretty different compared to other places I've lived.

In the lower right, you can see that the bed is lofted. In the upper right, you'll notice that there are two electric burners but no oven. Underneath the burners is the fridge, which one could call mini. On the left you can kind of see that instead of having a tub or stall for a shower, you just shower right there in the bathroom. That's the toilet on the left and there's a drain in the floor. You just squeegee the whole place down when you're through. I find it tremendously amusing.

Perhaps some of you who are reading are accustomed to such a situation, but it's really different for me. The biggest challenge is the kitchen/fridge combo, as well as the limitation on kinds of ingredients available here, the result of which is the revival of my college student menu. Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup forever!

But what about yarn? I am happy to let you know that I packed a lot of yarn and fiber coming here. Behold:

Have you ever gone on a trip and only brought one book to read, so that you'd finally read it after all these years passing it over in favor of other books? I did that once, with Anna Karenina, and I'm doing it a little bit here with yarn, in particular the kitchen cotton on the right and the marled wool on the left. Those are projects for which I want the finished product, but I'm not particularly excited about the actual knitting.

In a moment of "Why not?" I decided to cast on a whole bunch of things, because I had the needles for them and without home internet access (yet) or television or even English language radio, it's good to feel like I have a lot of options for my entertainment at home.

More on these projects as I work on them more. I have to say, I'm really enjoying having this many choices, especially considering I also have my on-the-go socks and a couple of spinning projects.

Variety, it's the spice of life! So is curry ketchup, incidentally, which I may be mailing back to myself when I move back to the US...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thrilling tales of the Belgian countryside

Here I am, living in Germany, though the move here started off with a week-long trip to Belgium.

It was silly of me not to stop on the bike and take pictures of the farms in Belgium, because not only do they have the cutest fuzzy dairy cows with little horns, but there are also TONS of sheep. We were mostly pretty focused on the beer, though.

The other thing I was excited about was lace! Brugge (Bruges in French) is the quaintest little city you'll ever see--it's that first photo up there, and it has been a center for lacemaking going on 400 years. We visited the Lace Centre there, where there was a room full of women working on their stunning lace projects. Their totally insane stunning lace projects. It's pretty rare for a fiber art to scare me off, but seriously, bobbin lace is out of control scary.

Now, speaking of scary, something really dramatic happened during this trip. On our longest day of biking, we biked about 50km (30 miles) with all of our stuff, to get from Brugge to Ieper (Ypres), with a couple of stops for beer and WWI history. (I'm not sure if that sounds like a lot to you or not, but I barely know how to ride a bike, so it was a lot to me.) We stopped for a minute so Noah could look at the map, and in a sickening moment, I realized the pannier had fallen off the side of his bike. It was holding my bag, the one with my wallet, my phone, my passport, my knitting, my eyeglasses, etc. You get the picture.

In a flash Noah said, "I'm going to go back and find it," and sped away on his bike. There I was, alone on a tiny country road, between a farmhouse and a corn field, completely dazed. I sat on a stone post and though about what I'd just lost. It was just stuff, right? But how easy would it be to replace? I didn't know how long Noah would be gone, I had no way of contacting him or anyone else, and I had to do something before I went crazy with thoughts of how idiotic I'd look wearing my prescription sunglasses full time until I could get new glasses, and where the closest consulate was. Luckily I still had my backpack, and in there was my little spinning project.

So I sat, and I spun, and before too long, Noah returned with my bag miraculously intact. During our joyful reunion he said to me, "You're so zen about this. This is totally a situation in which I'd be crying." I pointed to my little spinning project on the ground and he laughed knowingly.

Thank you, little spinning project, for keeping me company in that harrowing time.