Today is my last day at work. It's been a slow, confusing, trailing-off kind of goodbye to this place. I've worked here for over two years, the longest job I've ever held. My CV is full of gaps and employment lasting six months, a year or so, as I keep finding myself shifting countries. But it's been good, I've learnt and grown so much here. Great people that I'll miss.
Next week I head to New Zealand for seven weeks. Right now I'm entering that strange limbo - when routine goes out the window, there seems to be so much to do and so little time. Yet once you get on the plane it all just kinda seems irrelevant anyway cause you are just so excited about going home.
Overflowing heavens of squandered stars
flame brilliantly above your troubles. Instead
of into your pillows, weep up toward them.
There, at the already weeping, at the ending visage,
slowly thinning out, ravishing
worldspace begins. Who will interrupt,
once you force your way there,
the current? No one. You may panic,
and fight that overwhelming course of stars
that streams toward you. Breathe.
Breathe the darkness of the earth and again
look up! Again. Lightly and facelessly
depths lean toward you from above. The serene
countenance dissolved in night makes room for you.
Rainer Maria Rilke
When the canals begin to freeze, Amsterdam seems to go revert to days gone by. As I walked down Keizersgracht yesterday, I was reminded of all the old Dutch paintings in the Rijksmusem (minus the frozen bikes).
Today is Christmas Eve. I'll be spending tomorrow with a whole bunch of other Christmas orphans. And Marty and Mariko too, who just arrived this morning from London. They were lucky to get through- there's been so many flight cancellations because of the snow. I'd like to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and if you or your loved ones have to travel, may their journeys be swift and stress-free.
It's nearly Christmas. The snow has defeated me and so I've been catching the tram where I just so happen to transfer at the Christmas market on Leidseplien. There you can smell gluehwien and oliebollen and there's ice skaters falling over each other at the little ice rink they put up each year. It's small and kind of dinky but it still made me feel all christmassy. Especially the lights in the trees, they just look magical with all the snow everywhere. I've got to admit- oliebollen are pretty yum when they are fresh and warm. You do end up covered in icing sugar though.
This is a little star I sewed to put on top of our Christmas tree. The deal is here you buy a glass pointy ornament to put on top of your tree - but I'm all about the star. I embroidered a snowflake so that one day, when I live in a warmer climate, it will remind me of this snowy European Christmas.
The wintergreen, the juniper
The cornflower and the chicory
All the words you said to me
Still vibrating in the air
The elm, the ash and the linden tree
The dark and deep, enchanted sea
The trembling moon and the stars unfurled
There she goes, my beautiful world
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - There she goes, my beautiful world
Saturday was officially snowman making day. Jamie and Josh were the most dedicated, they rolled the base and the tummy. Chris and I were less so, we made the chest and head. Simon graciously donated his hat. (Tracey and Sarah sat in the Film Museum and defrosted their toes.) We named him Henry.
I woke up this morning to a winter wonderland. Everything has been transformed by a beautiful layer of soft, white snow. Including my bike, which I had to ride to work. And as I was riding to work it started snowing heavily again. And so I too was transformed by a beautiful layer of soft, white snow. I want to say I looked like the White Witch of Narnia, but really I looked more like Frosty the Snowman.
Some days suck. Tuesday sucked quite a lot for some reason. And to be honest, recently life has been a bit rough. Sickness, the never ending dark, freezing cold weather, boyfriend away, the inevitable homesickness leading up to Christmas. And I've been hermited away and going all domestic baking and sewing. Next thing you know, I'll be cleaning. Something had to give.
And then last night I had a night in the studio and it was just so good. So productive and so exciting. Life feels sparkly again. Here's a song by Florence to cheer you all up.
I went for a walk in the snow during my lunchbreak. These Toi toi photos made me laugh - to me, Toi tois belong on a NZ beach. My brother and I used to risk getting cut up by cutty grass to break one off. We'd play-fight with them, shaking their feathery ends in each other's faces. They don't belong on a frozen lake in snowy Holland, with poor little frozen meerkoeten valiantly skidding around on the ice around them.
For about a year, my friend Barbara had promised to take me to Utrecht to the fabric market that's held there on a Saturday. Finally, early last year, we went and timed it to coincide with a huge rommelmarkt that was being held. There, under a table, hidden in it's box was this gorgeous little Singer Featherweight sewing machine. And the guy was only asking €20. But he couldn't tell me if it was working or not. So I took a risk, bought it, plugged it in and nope, it didn't work.
The good news? All it needed was a transformer- it's on American voltage. Barbara had one in her attic, it just took her another year or so to find it. Then it took me another 3-4 months to try to plugging it in. And what do you know? It works beautifully. Absolutely perfectly.
(BTW- the fabric market is great- totally worth the train ride out to Utrecht.)
You probably know about the Uniform Project by now, if not then definitely check it out- it's a pretty cool idea. Basically- one girl wears one dress for one year. And raises money for schools in India. Right- so now you know. And I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of the pattern- it's all sold out now.
Every now and then, I get what my Mum calls, "the sewing bug". So, as my boyfriend is away for work at the moment, I have converted my house in to a sewing studio... and I've got way too many projects on the go. Typical. Another one is a copy of this dress. I've done up a successful muslin, and cut into the expensive fabric, so fingers crossed. For the record, I used a combo of two patterns, Colette Patterns' Macaron and the Selfish Seamstress' Coffee Date dress, which if you are a sewing geek like me, you'll probably know.
I've also cut out a muslin in the purple fabric above for the U.P. dress and hope to sew that up this weekend too. The black textured fabric above is the fabric provided with the U.P. pattern and I have to be really careful- I can't get any more of it!