Monday, 30 April 2007

The world of poetry

As well as having a mood meter I used to include and regularly change quotes in my email signature to reflect my mood, to highlight important experiences or just share some words that I found beautiful. So I thought I’ll add “Quote of the week” posts to this blog.

But in my experience poetry speaks to you either at first sight or not at all. A flash of revelation and a flash of response. Like lightning. Like falling in love.
J. M. Coetzee "Disgrace"

At first my whole world of poetry consisted mostly of Pushkin, Lermontov and Esenin. And then one day I read Irina Odoyevtseva’s “On the banks of the Neva” and was introduced to the poetry world of St Peterburg at the beginning of 20th century. I was able to find a small tome of Silver Age poets and fall in love with exotic themes in Gumilyov’s poems, with romantism of Tsvetaeva, with quirkiness of Osip Mandelshtam. Few years later I had a chance to read most of the published poems of Anna Akhmatova in the chronological order and was struck by being able to trace her life through her poems, by the strength of her character.

I recently finished reading Odoyevtseva’s second book “On the banks of the Seine” (Ирина Одоевцева - На берегах Сены) and again was inspired to write down a long list of books I want to read, people I want to find out more about. I still sadly read too few of beautiful Russian poems.
I also recently finished Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights. Mum, I think you’ll like it. How did I miss out on reading it before? Now I want to read Gaskell's "The Life of Charlotte Bronte" . Seems like every book recently leads to at least one other.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Brit in the family

Cat’s new shinny microchiped British passport arrived on Friday with a baby picture, which doesn’t even look like her anymore. British Citizen! I never thought that my first child will be a British citizen, born in London right next to the Paddington station. Will she find it amusing that I never even heard of Paddington Bear until the end of 2004?

I’m still occasionally astounded by the fact that I am someone’s mother. My life before Cat seems very distant and my current life doesn’t yet feel like it is fully mine. I wonder when the sense of being magically transported into the middle of someone else’s life will go away? While I’m struggling to recognize it as my own, I marvel at how perfectly this life fits me. Clive and I settled into very peaceful, comfortable and supportive relationship. And Cat helps us to recognise the important things in life and I believe helps us to appreciate each other more. I always thought that I’ll have two sons followed by a daughter until I got pregnant. And when that certainty went away and I knew that I’ll have a daughter. Based on my relationship with my mum, which wasn’t always easy, there are some character qualities; like seriousness, stubbornness and independence of thought; that I dreaded in my future daughter. But in last few years, as our relationship matured and we learned to respect each other as adults, I accepted that my mum was and always will be my biggest and most respected role model. We are very similar and I’m proud (and happy) to be like her. And while people argue about who Cat looks like, I am and will be glad to see glimpses of us all in her. I’m joyful she is here to cement our family bonds by her similarities and to expand our world views by her differences.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

When to praise?

After spending first half of the day outside I was trying to quickly eat my sandwich while Cat was enjoying her latest mission - practicing passing light rattles and teething beads from one hand to another. She is getting really good at that btw. On hearing a noise, which usually means that she dropped the rattle and wants me to get it back for her, I took another bite out of my sandwich and looked down to see an empty space. After a second of total unreality my eyes shifted a bit further and there she was, rolled over from her back onto her stomach, cool as the cucumber, casually playing with the teething beads. All baby books advise parents to praise all of their babies’ achievements, but it would be a bit silly (and probably highly confusing to her) if I started clapping my hands at that point. Wouldn’t it? Hopefully she’ll do few more rolls while I'm actually looking at her. But she seem to have a preference for showing off acquired skills only after getting comfortable with them while she thinks no one is looking.

Happy five month birthday, babe!

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Accomodation found

On Monday our search for new place was finally over. After unsuccessfully searching in our current area, we decided to move a bit further away from London centre for six months. And while staying close to the underground station and big supermarket and paying lower rent than we would here, we’ll have time to weight our options, decide what is important to us and search for that perfect place. Current search was a bit of a failure partially due to us not having a set list of requirements, despite being very clear on what we don’t want. And it looks like agents work better with a list of wants.

I had lots of grand plans for what I can do now that I don’t have to spend most of my free time calling agents and looking at often totally unsuitable place. Sadly I managed to catch some type of intense 24 hour stomach bug. On Monday I was sick on the London underground while travelling to estate agent to put down the deposit. Probably not something I should be proud of, but what impressed me was that, while most people did the usual I-can’t-see-you tube trick, one young woman stopped to check that I was OK and was very persistent in making sure that I don’t require any further assistance. By mid Monday afternoon I was struggling to keep anything down including water. Last time I remember feeling that bad was after work Christmas Party 2004 and we consumed insane amounts of tequila that time. I was very happy to see Clive back home in the evening as I could give Cat to him and curl up under duvet. Clive was quick to point out that I felt extremely cold, not because it was significantly colder than previous few days, but because I was running mild fever. On Tuesday Clive took a day off work (Thanks Love!) and looked after Cat and me, while I mostly stayed in bed. And by the end of the day I felt much better and was able to eat again. Ironically three people emailed asking how I feel about having dinner with them on weekend. I really don’t want to think much about food at the moment.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Saturday, 14 April 2007

For Julia

Since Julia keeps on reminding me that my blog wasn’t updated for awhile, here is update on Cat.

She outgrew most of her 3-6 months clothes and some of 6-9 ones as well. While waiting for Real Estate appointment yesterday I had time to browse some of the charity shops at West Hampstead. And was pleasantly surprised to find some baby clothes in very good condition, so I got her some 9-12 months and 1-1 1/2 year tops. While my rational side understands the need to buy bigger clothes, emotionally I don’t feel ready for getting her clothes marked as 12 month/1 year. She can’t be that big! But if we run out of the right size outfits I can always leave her naked as she still doesn’t like putting on of clothes, but likes them being taken off. While she hates dressing up, she is in love with sucking and chewing on any clothes within her reach.

She likes being upright and tries very hard to lift herself up into vertical position from lying down and 45 degree one in the rocking chair. So I spend a lot of time on the floor with her lifting her up, helping her sit and lowering her down.

She is still not a big fan of tummy time, but started turning her upper body left and right while on her tummy to see what’s happening on the sides and to find her favourite toys. Once she spots them, she tries to sweep them closer to herself. So eventually she ends up with two-three toys under her chest/face. I also discovered that most of the time, while on her back, she can grab light rattles and teething beads by using trial and error method. But if I’m next to her she just stretches her arm upwards, opens her hand and waits for me to place the toy into it.

Clive pointed out that in a last week or so she learned to wiggle her toes independently of each other. Her fascinations for her own hands shifted to being mesmerized by her own legs/feet. She can now grab both her feet with corresponding hands at the same time and also grab right one with her left hand.

During the day, just before falling asleep, she likes practicing making sounds. She starts with very soft gggrrrr sound, which slowly gets louder and louder and transforms into very loud Aaaaaa. Then she starts varying the loudness and pitch/intonation. Eventually she stops, smiles and starts again with the very soft gggrrr. Very cute, but can get a bit irritating after awhile.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Yummy apple

Steve was carrying food. I was pushing the pram. And Clive was carrying Cat, who was all smiles and laughter. Four of us went to the local park to enjoy blue skies, sunshine and some pies. Cat kept on eyeing all our food.

So eventually I let her lick a tiny amount of the mushy apple from my apple tart. Yummy!

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Elementary, my dear Watson

One thing I love about living in England is being able to see the places mentioned in the books, specially when those books were my childhood favourites. So today I decided to visit Sherlock Holmes Museum since I’m re-reading The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes at the moment. It is so tiny! I always imagined Sherlock's rooms to be cramped with various odd things, but much bigger than they are in reality. The English smallness still often catches me by surprise. As expected there were few Russians around. I wonder if Holmes is more popular and more loved there than he is in England. I wish I could re-watch Russian movies with Vasili Livanov as Sherlock Holmes. I can’t imagine him to be any different and therefore struggle to watch movie adaptations with any other actors no matter how good they are.

While I admire Holmes love for observation and logic, my favourite detective will always be Miss Marple. I adore her little English garden and constant tea drinking. Doesn’t it sound like a perfect way to spend ones elder years? (Joan Hickson was perfect in that role). I guess I should research if there are any Agatha Christie museums around.

The smallness of the museum was to my advantage as Cat seems to prefer outdoors and gets restless very fast inside. So after spending about 20 minutes in there I walked from Baker Street to St John’s Wood station via Regent’s Park. I’ve been to Regent’s Park numerous times, however I never been to that part of the park before. Why did I always walk from St John’s Wood station to Baker Street along Park Road instead of going through the park? Strange, very strange. The area on the left of the lake is beautiful, particularly on the warm sunny day like today (supposed to be 20 degrees!). The lake and the islands were teaming with the bird life and Cat was happy to watch flying, swimming, diving, mating birds. Sadly I could only identify doves, swans and ducks for her. The rest had to be labelled as “I think it’s a goose… it doesn’t look like a duck...”, “that looks like some type of stork… well it has long legs and neck, must be stork”. I think next time I’ll bring the camera along, take some pictures and with the help of Collins Bird Guide will try to figure out what are all those birds are exactly. Sounds like a perfect way to spend free time, maybe I can learn the names of most plants and flowers as well. I always wanted to do it, but there was never enough time. As mentioned Cat prefers to be outside, so in a way I’m forced to have time to study outdoors. Motherhood has its own advantages. I’m looking forward to the time when I finally get to play with a train set (one of my childhood dreams) and Meccano.

Monday, 2 April 2007

The official photographer

I’m a bit sad about having almost no photos with Cat and I together, especially because I’m the one she spends most of her time with. Cat and I visited Julia on Saturday, while Clive searched for new accommodation and our current flat was shown to the potential buyers. Julia took some very lovely photos of us two and Cat by herself. So I think I should appoint her as the official photographer to Empress Catherine the Great.

Cat loves being upright, all of the sudden she even likes being on her tummy – anything would do as long as it isn’t lying down on her back. I think both of us are looking forward to the time when she’ll be able to sit unaided. At the moment she can only do few seconds at the time.

Does she look to you like she is teething? Though she could be using her mouth to help herself stay upright.