Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Lent 2014

I must say that for me Lent has always been a "non-event". I didn't even know the English word for it until last year and it was certainly not on my agenda for 2014 as something I should plan for, never mind take action in any way.  The Hungarian word for it is Nagyböjt, literally meaning "big fast". It happens before Easter for 40 days. This pretty much summed up my knowledge on the matter. And this despite me having been a Christian for some 19 years now. No, I have no explanation to provide for this one, sorry.

So according to the Internet, Lent is a period of 40 days before Easter during which many Christians do not eat certain foods or do certain pleasurable activities as a way of remembering the suffering of Jesus Christ. It is based on
 the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by the Devil. Traditionally people focused more on prayer, fasting and alms giving during this period before celebrating the resurrection of Jesus at Easter.

As I said, this whole thing completely bypassed me until last year when someone posted a link on facebook about 40 acts of kindness. Those  40 days came and went, without me taking much notice of the daily emails. And back in another year I slumped.

This year the buzz on facebook started up again and it seemed that everybody and their dog was "giving up something for Lent". I even got asked "what are YOU giving up?" Well… I could give up chocolate (like about 60% of FB users) but since I am not that keen on chocolate to begin with, that would be no sacrifice really. I could give up alcohol, but I've already given that up a few weeks back for different reasons, so then again that wouldn't count. Exercise more? I don't see how that would be a sacrifice, although for sure that would help with self control and discipline… Eat less? Good luck to monitor that. Stop drinking fizzy drinks? Yeah… that would be a good idea, but again how would that help?

And then someone mentioned 40 acts of kindness again. And I realised I was still signed up for the emails. So there, I am going to do this for Lent. Small acts of kindness and generosity, giving up some of my time, money and self to reach out to others. Maybe it will make a small difference to someone. For sure it will make a difference to me. Accepting to step out of my comfort zone to connect with others is not easy. So here is my sacrifice for Lent 2014, allowing those uncomfortable and possibly painful steps to shape me into a better person.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Done and dusted

Ok, so first here's to admit that the last two blog posts were actually no blog posts at all. They were a copy-paste from my creativity journal with a little bit added extra to spare you my shorthand.

That said, the fact remains that I've done it! Actually THEM. Firstly, I emptied the green trunk in the backroom. Amazing achievement, please clap your hands now, thank you, flowers in the dressing room, thank you. That trunk held some of our prized (???) possessions that might have been shipped out with us had we decided to leave, but since we are staying, I just put them back on the various shelves where they belonged. (You're still with me?)

By that time I decided that lunch was in order, procrastination can taste yummy sometimes… But then I proceeded outside to do my planting thing. I shall spare you the details, but the end result is a tray of wanna-be tomato plants, a pot filled with basil and coriander seeds and another housing a happy mix of sage, thyme, parsley and whatever other herb seeds I could find. Will they grow? I have no clue. Some friends seem to think that unlike the thousand year old pharaoh seeds, these have a lesser chance of germinating. (Yea of little faith...) But I planted them and watered them, so my part here is done, the rest is up to nature to sort out. And yes, I did get dirt under my finger nails. But that was small change compared to the dead slug in the planting dirt mix. Slugs are right up there with beets on my list of pet hates. So talk about widening my comfort zone...

Now uploading the two pictures to illustrate my feat took longer than the whole planting process altogether, including going to the shop to buy a shovel. Also the estimated time remaining on my Top Gear download is currently 4 weeks and 6 days. Not to worry, I will treat you to a post on our glorious internet connection in the very near future. That is if I can upload it...

Up to me???

Day 42: One more form to fill, yahooo….. It is for the end of the project, as in FINISHED project, which is clearly not the case, since my project is still outside on the garden table broken down to its elements. Finishing it seems to suppose that I actually have started on it… Now that is the big holdup here. You see, I am quite happy in front of my computer. It is a cosy place with a cup of coffee right at hand and my phone and my water bottle and some dirty dishes and papers and a stapler and six different colour highlighters in a glass jar and HB pencils for the kids' homework and my gratefulness jar and a number of other items that should have never made it to my desk but lo and behold, this is where they are. I swear items crawl onto my desk when I am not looking and then just lie low until they kind of blend in. Every week or so I force myself to take a critical look, as in examining each item that sits on this 1.5 m2 surface and no kidding, I cannot explain the appearance of half of them. I then put them away where they belong, but two days later they are back on my desk. The desk is jinxed, that's a fact. Maybe it needs exorcised. I hear rags and soapy water are used for that purpose, but I haven’t yet managed to bring myself to such extreme measures. So anyways, the project is outside and I am inside, so this whole commotion about actually finishing it seems a bit premature. But since I have checked the BBC news (the poor soul who had to break down the door of a bathroom in Sochi two days ago now got stuck in an elevator), read my habithacker email and ignored all the others, ensured I was up-to-date with the latest gossip on facebook, watched some YouTube and started downloading the latest Top Gear…. well, since all this is done, I guess there ain't nothing else to do but to get started on my creativity project, coupled with some decluttering. Off I go.

I'll be back.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Greenthumbing it

Day 39: Creativity by design - Oh gosh, I now have to actually DO something. What shall it be??? I'm thinking planting a plant. Yes, that. Don't ask me why, considering that every single thing that we planted so far happened to die. But hey, why not. 

Creative Project Completion Plan
Project I will finish: Plant a herb garden

Specific steps I must take to finish project:
- Fill pot with dirt
- Put seeds inside
- Tag them
- Water

Supplies needed to finish project (note what you already have and what you need to get):
- Pot
- Dirt
- Seeds


Errands required to finish project:

Estimate of project budget:

Hm. So what am I waiting for? Don't even have to leave the house for this one.

I don't think this project will need lots of time. Clearly I could plan something bigger, but let's start with something small and then work our way up, shall we. Once the seeds are planted and some feeling of accomplishment has been generated, I could consider setting up for weekly digital scrapbooking sessions. That is if I manage to find that scrapbooking for dummies book in the meantime. Because I have no clue where it is.

Day 41:You've almost begun. - OK, right now I have about two hours ahead of me, with nothing planned, except making some lunch soon because I am starving. So I will take the next few minutes to figure out what I actually do have for the planting process and then go from there.

And yes, I cheated on Day 40 and 41 because I did not go through all the questions and planning, the reason being that I chose a "small" project that can be done relatively quickly and doesn't need to be months in the making. At least the prep part of it. BUT I will plan for something bigger, as mentioned above. Promised.

OK, update. I found planting trays, soil and even a big hard plastic ozone tray to put the planting trays in. Also found seeds that are "slightly" outdated (2005 anyone?) but hey, didn't they dig up things from the pharaohs' tombs and it germinated? Right? Right. What I do need though is a small shovel. Yes, I could use a spoon or my hands. I hate dirt under my finger nails though. Yes, I am that much of a princess and I deal with it. I am sure we had one, but like a number of other things, it went missing. Indeed, our garden has this innate capacity of vaporising items. I think this is what must have happened to a number of rakes, spades, shears, brooms and gas bottles, because I have no other logical explanation for their sudden and permanent disappearance. So this afternoon I will pop into the tiny garden shoppie on Street 1 and buy a teeny-tiny shovel. Problem solved. Well, at least in theory, so far.

On a sidenote, I found beetroot seeds. BEETROOT!!! In MY house!!!!! Looking for the sanitizer as we speak.

(To be continued...)

Friday, 7 February 2014

The donkey

Two days ago as I was coming home from shopping, I found this donkey on our street. It was dark brown with big sores on its back, skinny and visibly just walking along. No rope hanging off his feet or neck. Several people walked by, nobody laying claim on him. He wandered all the way up the to garbage bin in front of our house, then turned around and trotted back where he came from. I don't know anything about donkeys. Don't know what they eat or how they are supposed to be cared for. Otherwise probably I would have taken him in. I am incorrigible as in I just tend to collect abandoned things. And even when I don't collect them, I can't help feeling sorry and concerned and my conscience stirs in me. I know I can do nothing really. The poor animal has been abandoned by his owner, too ill and weak to work, too expensive to keep or to be put down. So he wanders around aimlessly, probably drinking sewage water and eating garbage. Then yesterday as I was taking the nanny back home, I saw the poor thing again, standing in front of her house, quite a few streets up from ours. And I still couldn't help feeling for the poor soul. I know there are many people here who are as bad off as this donkey. Maybe worse. I can give a few pounds here or there, but it probably won't make any lasting difference, just as it wouldn't have changed much to be able to get a bucket of clean water or a carrot to the donkey. Maybe it would have changed a few minutes of his life, but clearly not sustainable. But then again, does it need to be sustainable? Maybe making somebody happy or well-fed or not thirsty for a short while is all the difference that is needed sometimes.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Something new, old, borrowed and blue

I merged my two blogs. Back in June, or was it May, I started a new blog called cement factory nomads. I had a good reason back then to do so, but then things changed and I realised that I don't want to scrap under this blue sky. It kind of stuck with me from the very beginning, I wrote when I was happy, I wrote when I was upset, I wrote to make sense of things and to record them. So just leaving it all behind proved more difficult than I thought. But then when I got back to it a few weeks ago, I also realised that it was very dark and grey, reflecting a mood that is no longer mine. Cement factory nomads had a brighter and more colourful setup and some posts that talked about the wonderful holidays we had in Scotland. So I decided to merge the two, including posts and design. So this is my old blue sky blog with a new feel, borrowed from another blog that no longer exists.

Something new, something old, something borrowed, something blue.

I think I have the right combination to baffle the Evil Eye.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Creativity Day 5

"Perfectionism thwarts creativity" and "Everybody starts with a SFD (shitty first draft)" were the two postulates of today's creativity email. So, I have five minutes (four by now) to write something. I also could have painted or danced for five minutes but that did not happen and it is 22:24 by now, so I'll just stick to writing and typing real blooming fast. 2014 is my year of C R E A T I V I T Y. I decided to do things, to stop being afraid of failure, to abandon some conventions and break some moulds. I will experiment and produce a number of SFDs. Maybe lots. I will try new things and I will first suck at them. Surely I will keep sucking at a number of them. But some of them might just click and I will learn new skills, acquire new knowledge and generally widen my horizons on all levels. So from now on it is shitty first drafts for me! :)