Monthly Archives: December 2013

Upon the second look

Christmas holidays are packed with many impressions and events. And these events – meeting family and friends, going to Christmas market, going to cozy restaurants, cooking, going for a walk, to a playground, and many other – come with incredible density, that we often can only grant a first look on what we see and experience.

Photographs are the wonderful means not only to catch a memory but they also give us a possibility for a second look.

Here are some pictures of my holidays these year and my discoveries upon the second look.

A fir tree in front of a house: something caught my sight and made me to make this picture. And when the picture was made I noticed the harmony and how all three fit together: the house, the pattern on it and the tree had a sharp top, all pointing up and the contrast in colors making the bank in front of the house calling to take a seat and catch a breath and look around.


Hot coffee is one of my favorite drinks. Noticing damp raising from a hot drink in a picture, of which I thought to be at first of bad quality, made me sigh with pleasure.


The lights on the tree, above and under it, add a special magic to it. This Christmas tree is framed with light. I discovered this while looking at the picture. Upon the second look.


The picture below was made by mistake on our way to a Christmas market. And now upon a second look I really like it. Many of the pavements we walk are very special and we fail to see them while trying to reach our goals. I am grateful to this “mistake”. It made me appreciate the way I took.


The two pictures below attracted my first look, but looking at them together while writing this post made me realize that we humans are able to make wonderful things out of seemingly mundane things: cabinets with electrical equipment and walls can become eye catchers and smile bringers.



Born in a forest

“Born in a forest, in a forest she grew,
in winter and summer beautiful and green she was.”
(Translated from a Russian children’s song about Christmas tree)

Somehow I cannot say “it” to a Christmas tree. When translating word by word, in Romanian and German it’s him and in Russian it’s her. And somehow “she” seems to suit a Christmas tree best. With all the glitter and decoration appearing as a magnificent dress.

We didn’t celebrate Christmas in Soviet Union. We had New Year’s Eve instead. And as for Christmas, there were certain mandatory attributes to these wonderful family gatherings: presents, tasty meal, and music. And a decorated fir tree with a figurines of Father Frost and his granddaughter Snegurochka underneath.

New Year’s parties at schools and kindergartens didn’t have angels. There were many snowflakes dancing happily around the festively decorated trees.

Over the years I attended many Christmas celebrations and learned various traditions about winter holidays and about Christmas trees. I learned that some decorate them on the day before Christmas, whereas in Soviet Union we decorated them somewhere in the beginning of December and kept them until the so-called Old New Year’s Eve, January thirtheen. Today, I have friends in Denmark, who are so much in love with her and Christmas tradition, that they decorate her in the beginning of November.

But whatever the tradition, whatever the song sung about her, for me she will always remain a symbol for warmth and love, a symbol for the best in a family.

For all my family members and  friends, old, good, new, just met, yet to meet, and your friends and families: Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Many Happy Moments witnessed by a glittering, magical beauty of a Christmas tree!

Picture 1: a two-year-old Santa Claus with braids in front of a Christmas tree he decorated last year with his father and me. The first he decorated in his life.


Picture 2: my days as a snowflake.


Friends at work

As a remote employee, I enjoy quiet times when I can let my brain steam and bubble while doing my job in the complete silence of our home during the day.

But I truly enjoy my monthly travels to the office I belong with.

If on any particular reason the time between the travels to the office is longer that one month, then I notice something, or rather I notice that something or someone is missing.

I miss my friends at work. Without various social and meeting networks one month would be much, much too long. These sweet people are not just colleagues. They are my friends!

I claim that my colleagues are ones of the very best one could have in the world. And I suspect that everyone who loves his or her job, does it also because of great colleagues.

And another claim of mine: any working place has great people, or at least one great and kind person, and most will welcome you if you welcome them.

December Christmas atmosphere has surely amplified this warm feeling of being together with my colleagues. We worked hard on closing up many projects and tasks at the end of the year, but we also laughed, joked, helped and encouraged each other in our work.

This time, there were three of us, “remote ones” in the office, or rather two “children who moved out and came to visit” and one “cousin” from the sister-office in another country. I had an impression that everyone was happy to see us and that our stay had a special meaning. By deliberate “luck” we were the ones to be drawn to open pre-Christmas presents on these days of visit.

The Christmas party was, of course, the highlight with the fun games, wonderful meal and dances afterwards.

I was so warmed and impressed by the intensity of these two days I spent with my colleagues, that I couldn’t stop thinking about this during my flight back home.

Therefore this post, which I dedicate to all great colleagues of this world, whichever job you are doing and wherever you are working. Thank you for supporting your friends at work no matter how far they may be! Thank you for your special friendship!


Picture: there is a sky-walk between the national and international flight areas in Copenhagen airport. I usually choose to go below it along a narrow walk leading directly to the gate I often suppose to take, but this time, on an impulse, I chose the sky-walk. And I was rewarded! The whole walk was lined-up with beautifully decorated Christmas trees. Every column had one adjacent to it! A picture was a must! In fact I took nine! And share two of them with you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year  to everyone who reads these lines!

IMG_0098 IMG_0101


Lilly is a princess. She is not a child because she is a princess. Lilly lives in a castle.

Once there were many Lillis and many castles, but usually there is only one Lilly living in one castle.

She is very kind to dogs. She loves dogs and she feeds the dogs.

Lilly always allows things that mommy and daddy forbid. She always manages the things mommy and daddy don’t manage.

And she is the one for whom my three-years-old son threatens to leave when he and I argue.

Here is the story of how Lilly was ‘born’. It happened this summer in the picturesque town of Briançon, in French Alps.

On the first day of our summer vacation, and as my husband was fetching the stroller from our car, Niklas and I witnessed a gorgeous British bride and her bridesmaids heading to the church accompanied by some friends and family. Just a few minutes before, we’ve seen many guests of this wedding near the church as we passed by. All the guests seemed to have travelled here all the way from Great Britain. I was carrying Niklas in my arms when we saw the bride and her friends.

The young women were singing loudly and very well, I must say. They looked like having sprang straight out of a romantic movie into the streets of Briançon. The street we saw them walking was steep and shadowy. They were going down the hill towards us. The descending blond beauty in white was shining and both my son and I were mesmerized by the wonder and the merriness of it all.

I said to Niklas: “Look, what a beautiful bride!”

I saw confusion in his eyes and said: “She is marrying today. And that is why she is dressed like a beautiful princess.”

In the following few days, Niklas was playing and trying to dress as both a bride and a groom and leading me several times to an imaginary altar.

The second part of the story started when my mother-in-law bought him a book about the builder Manny, a French equivalent for Bob the Builder. While translating the book into German she did call Manny Bob. Manny-Bob had a beautiful Kelly to help him with his work. And Manny-Bob had a construction company and his own car with his name on it.

Several days past. We were in our car on the way to the next walk in the mountains. And this is when it happened.

As we passed several sweet looking small town houses, Niklas said: “Here lives my beautiful Lilly.”

I was intrigued. “Who is Lilly?”

“She is my mother and I am married with her.”

“But if you and Lilly are married, then she is probably your wife, isn’t she?”

“No, – , yes.”

“Sweetheart, do you mean Kelly, Manny’s, sorry, Bob’s Kelly?”

“No, Lilly!” And after a pause, “And I have a construction company and my car!”

A few more days later, Niklas went with his father and his grandparents to a castle, situated at the top of the city. I stayed at our vacation home to do some writing.

When they came back, Niklas told me about the castle and that Lilly lived there. They all heard many dogs behind the gates leading to the castle. The gates were locked but Niklas and his entourage could hear that there were several if not many dogs and they all claimed hearing someone giving food to the dogs. Niklas said it was Lilly. That she was kind and loved her dogs.

It is already more than three months since then and Lilly is always there when my son needs her.

When we, his parents, say: “Niklas, you must not do this!” the answer often is: “But Lilly allows this! She is nice!”

She always does what we fail to do. For example, she already managed to get a movie on DVD, which we recently watched in the cinema and which is not on sale yet. Anywhere. Even Nikolaus, one of the German equivalents of Santa Claus, who brings sweets and small gifts on December 6, couldn’t find one, according to mommy. But Lilly could, and she and Niklas watched the movie together.

Lilly never disappoints my son. And she is the source for many stories. Now, when mommy and daddy tell about their colleagues and friends at the dinner table, Niklas can contribute as well. And he tells us about someone who we know nothing about, just like he doesn’t know about some of our colleagues or friends. He tells us about Lilly.

In September, my son had something close to a crush on a girl of four. This is another cute story, but here it is relevant to be mentioned because this crush came and went. Lilly is still here.

Lilly reminds me of my own escapes when I was a child. When I started learning English, I imagined having a friend, or rather an admirer and a husband-to-be, with whom I spoke English. He was English and could not speak any other language than English and he had no name. This most handsome young man, whom I was never able to describe except him being extremely handsome and very kind, was the one with whom I shared all my most secret of secrets.

I am grateful to my son and to Lilly to remind me of the works of my own imagination and what a powerful and wonderful force it is. Without it many things would appear two-dimensional and un-poetic.

I don’t know whether my son will remember Lilly and her story when he grows up. We both might forget this story as I forgot about mine until Lilly was ‘born’.

That is why I wanted to record it and to share it.

Let this story be a sweet reminder to Niklas and to all of us about all the wonderful ways our imagination leads us along.

We often blame our imagination for our fears, but it can also provide help, it can reassure us in our beginnings, make us look ahead with curiosity and excitement, and show us the ways out of the labyrinth of doubts and worries.

Did you have your own Lilly or an English friend when you grew up? What was she, he, they like?

P. S. At the walls of Lilly’s castle:


P. P. S. Niklas the Builder:


Privileged by a cat

I woke up in the middle of the night because someone was shaking me. It was not a panicky shaking like in case of an earthquake or a fire. It was a rhythmic shaking as if someone was rocking me into sleep, but with rather abrupt and ungentle movements.

At first, I didn’t recognize where I was. I tried to support myself on my elbows to look at my feet and legs, where the shakes were coming from. But I had to stop because my head threatened to explode. And then, I started to recall what happened the evening before.

My colleagues and I had a wild and fun Christmas party. At the midnight we celebrated my birthday. Aha, this was the reason for my headache, or rather, I had to admit, a bad hangover. I immediately dreaded the morning.

Since I lived more than an hour away from our office at that time, my friend and colleague Klaudia has offered me to stay at her place overnight. I did it already several times until this encounter. And as at times before I slept on her guest bed.

I raised my head slowly, to avoid new headache punches. And that was when I saw him. Timmy! Klaudia’s big black cat. I could only see his silhouette in the moonlight, but it was him. And he was sitting on my ankles and washing himself. Thus, the short, rhythmic shakes.

I knew that Timmy started to accept me. He is not a cat who loves a cuddle or a rub. He shows you his appreciation by not minding you when you walk by his side while his majesty is taking his meal. You might think that he accidently touches you with his tail, but this is actually a gesture of acknowledgement toward only selected visitors. And the top honor is him sleeping on your feet. Only Klaudia and less than a handful friends received such a treatment, as Klaudia once told me.

So, this time he has chosen me. At first, I felt really privileged. I had always big respect for cats and their independency. But after several minutes of Timmy’s evening bath, which seemed not to come to any close end, I decided to place my feet on some ‘not so shaky’ ground, so to speak. I moved my legs carefully from under Timmy in order not to disturb him too much.

He stopped, but didn’t go away. As soon as I settled, he got up, searched my legs with his paw through the blanket and lied down. Again on my ankles. A second later he continued his evening bath.

Now, that was unacceptable! I had my wishes, too! He was a cat, for goodness sake! I was not going to let a cat dictate how I should sleep!

So, I moved my feet again away from Timmy. Even if they were slightly uncovered now and it was cold without a blanket, still I didn’t want to give in in this fight.

This time, Timmy didn’t stop his washing while I was moving away. He did it only when I stopped. Then he raised again, searched for my ankles and accommodated himself on them again.

We repeated the whole procedure several times. I was starting to get desperate, but I still didn’t want to chase him away. It might have ended worse for me, for starters. I never saw him in rage before and I didn’t want to try.

On the other hand, I liked this most elegant creature with his black slender body with hardly visible white spots on the ends of his front paws. You could only guess the small white spots at the top of his ears. But the most I liked about him was his character. He not only knew exactly what he wanted, but he also signaled it clearly. His slow considerate walks through Klaudia’s kitchen made any visitors slow down, interrupt whatever they were doing, turn and give him way.

While I was contemplating all the above, the shaking continued. I noticed that I was calming down and becoming sleepy.

Ok, I agreed. “I surrender, Timmy”, I said to him in my thoughts. “Now, rock me into sleep, please”.

And he did.