It’s been a week full of things I’d never done before such as finding the default music player on my laptop and playing with a dog. I also didn’t write a word of fiction but that’s fine. My brain’s taking a break and I fully understand — heat is not conducive to anything but the most rudimentary mental tasks.
The difference between Heaven and Hell
It’s 3 degrees Celsius. Okay, not heaven but a bearable summer. Three degrees. It was 28 when we arrived and it was rather nice especially in the evening when there was wind to move the air. And then it rose to 31 and we were suddenly in Hell: immovable, stale, damp air, sweat, puffiness, no sleep because everything is too sticky, the works.
Now that’s the summer here I’ve learned to bear if not love. Glad that August didn’t disappoint even if it was for just two days. We left on Saturday and it was pleasantly windy. Also, whoever invented fans was a genius. I’m putting them right up there with contacts and mayonnaise as some of the worlds greatest inventions that — this is important — are not controversial (like electricity) so they’re really great.
I used to be a huge fan of the seaside. I loved everything about it, but mostly the water. And then, a few self-inflicted sunburns later, this love started to wane. I still loved the sea but not the beach and sadly, the sea here comes with beaches, scorching sand, and people baking themselves. As I had to slather myself in SPF 50 sunscreen every time we ventured out of the house to go see the sea my love continued waning.
This year was the first time I never went to see the sea. Until this year, I joined Big C. and Little C. at least once but I discovered my experience by the seaside was made even more unpleasant by the need to keep constant watch on the kid because, you know, the sea might get up and swallow her. Yes, it can. I’ve seen it in “The Raft”. Okay, fine, so it was a mutated oil spill there that rose and swallowed everyone but still. Anyway, this year I let the beach lovers go indulge themselves without my annoying self and everyone was happier for it. But I am a little sad I no longer need to see the sea. I blame the heat.
A natural alarm clock
As I mentioned, I think, in my previous profound look, my in-laws’ household contains a parrot. It’s a small creature with a cockatoo-like crest and orange cheeks. It is also, apparently, a living alarm clock doubling as a car alarm — you know, one of those annoying ones that play several tunes? Yeah, that. And it couldn’t produce its sounds at the same time, either. Every morning it started whistling/chirping/singing at different times adding the element of surprise to the element of annoyance. Little C. made a very lifelike sculpture of him — it’s male — out of plasticine and shed feathers.
Of dogs and toddlers
The other non-human member of the household was a five-month-old beagle. In other words, a toddler. A very energetic toddler. A very energetic, very loud, and cute toddler that has yet to be fully house trained so there were accidents. These accidents go very well with the heat, I have to say. There is no quick enough way to clean them before they perfume the whole house.
But that’s nothing compared with the “Play with me, play with me, play with me NOW” frame of mind so typical of toddlers. I’ve never had the pleasure of raising a dog but I have been frightened by a couple so I generally prefer to keep my distance. Yes, they range from cute to lovely and they are intelligent and lovable and everything but I’d rather treat dogs the way some people treat children (for similar reasons, I suspect): they’re great as long as they’re someone else’s.
This attitude, however, became impossible when I was faced with those soulful eyes and my ears were confronted by the “Play with me!” bark. It’s amazing how quickly you learn to understand the different barks, seriously. So I chased her and I tickled her, and I rubbed her belly, and I hugged her, and I chased her more, and if you think I’m going to announce we’re getting a dog you are mistaken but it was fun. Dogs are straightforward in their desires, I think. That makes them easy to understand. Now try that with cats and their poker faces.
Food, glorious food
Every year my mother-on-law makes sarmale for us. For me, because she knows how much I love them. They’re a typical Balkan dish that may have come from ancient Greece or from the Ottoman Empire but is now all over the place and there are maybe half a dozen ways to make it, if not more. However you choose to make sarmale (or сарми, or dolmas), the most important thing is to make enough of them. My mother-in-law, being the perfect human being that she is, always makes a lot. And I eat a lot.
Overeating is not particularly popular with me these days because growing up, also known as aging, leads to changes in the way your body responds to things, and one of these changes is something like a hangover but from eating too much. Yeah, I was horrified when I happened to me for the first time. Worse, I was betrayed by my own body. So generally I try to be good and stay in line. Except when it comes to sarmale. I stuffed myself on Friday and I am not ashamed to admit it. I’m also taking a dozen home because, as I said, my mother-in-law is a perfect human being and this means she thinks ahead. She made 65 in total.
There’s a first time for everything
Including things you never wanted to try such as a 3 in 1. For those who have no idea what a 3 in 1 is, it is this. Well, being the brilliant mathematical brain that I am, I counted I would need five teabags for the week, forgetting we were leaving on Saturday.
This left me a teabag short and for some reason tea is not a particularly popular drink here so finding a decent one is hard and not worth the effort for a day. So I got a 3 in 1. It’s still caffeine, I thought. It will do the job of preventing me from stumbling at every step and hitting pars of my body in various obstacles, which is what happened the one day I decided to try and go without tea.
This is how we pay for our mistakes — dearly. It would have been palatable if it hadn’t been so bloody sweet. Unfortunately, the third ingredient was overwhelming, making my morning hot drinking experience a misery. But it’s got caffeine so that was something. I’ was safe on the way from the flat to the car if oversugared. I will be careful counting tea bags from now on.