Saturday, 31 January 2009

A Few Precious Treasures



Marcia Hoehne has kindly given me this nice new award which I am to display along with a description of a few things I love.

Now, I am spoiled for choice when it comes to things I love. I am crazy about music and art and cats and books and plants, and above all, my dear family. I would find it hard to live without onions and garlic and cheese and chocolate and fresh coriander and chili peppers and beans and just about every kind of so-called ethnic food you might care to mention. But I would like to use this opportunity to talk about a few seemingly insignificant things that have become huge since moving here -- things I might not have given a second thought, back home in Scotland.

1) My old black shoes. I bought these frankly ugly shoes about six months before we left. They have a Velcro strap across the front and flat heels, and no fashionable woman in her right mind would be caught dead in them. But my feet have high arches and these shoes have built-in arch supports, and every time I hear one of my colleagues click-clicking along the corridor in her rat-stabber stilettos, I bless these shoes. I don't know how my colleague copes. We're on our feet up to six hours at a stretch, and in her shoes, I am convinced that I would become a homicidal maniac.

2) The two tiny sewing kits I got on Turkish Air. Somewhere in storage, I have a good-sized sewing box filled with different colors of thread, a selection of needles, scissors, a seam-ripper, tape measure, and pin cushion. Here in our little southern outpost, I have two tiny sewing kits and in the past five months, I have used them to 1) sew a torn pocket on a sundress, 2) mend Eldest Daughter's jeans, 3) fix Acquired Daughter's broken shoe strap (courtesy of Eldest's big clumsy feet), 4) sew two buttons back on husband's shirt, 5) hem up Youngest Daughter's shirt and -- well, you get the picture. I do believe in five months I have done more needlework than I did in an entire year back in Scotland, and I even have a good twenty inches of purple and orange thread left over.

3) My tatty old leg warmers. Way back when, after the movies Fame and Flashdance, every girl and her sister had to have a pair of leg warmers. Even non-dancing girls and women in places like Los Angeles and Florida could be seen sporting big, fashionable-looking leg warmers over their skin-tight blue jeans, sometimes spangled with bits of metallic thread or studded with sequins. Please don't imagine that my leg warmers, kindly sent by my friend Dina, are anything like those. They are black and plain and without them I would no doubt have lived through January, but it would not have been much fun.

4) My secondhand clothes shop lined trousers. We came here with a baggage weight limit of just under 20 kilograms per person. That meant that none of us could bring more than a few articles of winter clothing, and though clothes in big cities like Istanbul are well made and cheap, in our town they happen to be expensive. I bought my nearly-new fake moleskin lined trousers at my favorite thrift shop, run by the Cats Protection League, and I daily bless the woman who was crazy (or rich) enough to get rid of them.

5) My travel flashlight.I have a poor sense of direction and bad night vision. We live in a neighborhood sorely lacking in sidewalks but well supplied with potholes and missing chunks of asphalt. Every time I go walking at night, my trusty travel flashlight keeps me out of ditches -- and other people's driveways and entrances.

6) Our internet connection cable. Every time I plug this into my computer, I marvel at its power. It is half the width of my little finger, but it can connect me with people all over the world. It is such a compelling object that it commands the attention and respect of every member of this family, and -- even as I write this -- is an object of hot contention. I am being reminded that my turn with the cable is now over, so I'll pass this along to a few fellow writers who might be game to play along: Merry and Eryl, and Charlie, and Ms A. Paperback Writer, over to you if you're interested!

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19 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I might have to put a list like this together. It might be a little stranger than this list.

Congrats on the award.

Kim Ayres said...

An award well deserved and delightfully carried out :)

Tigermama said...

"Rat-stabber stilettos"....what a fabulously descriptive phrase!

Robin said...

Congratulations on a well deserved award.

Love the post! I could use a few of those Turkish travel sewing kits. My sewing kit is in a clear plastic makeup bag, and it has become a hopelessly tangled mess. The only color thread I really have left is a big spool of white I got at the drugstore. You have motivated me, and tomorrow I'm taking a trip to the sewing store and cleaning out my kit.

Patois said...

What a great list. Every item is magnificent.

Mary Witzl said...

Charles -- Do it! If I'd known you were game, your name would have been on my awards list. And your stuff had better be stranger than the stuff on my list: I went for the most prosaic things I could think of here. If you ever want to have a competition for strange, however, let me know...

Kim -- Thank you. I made it nice and short to minimize the boredom factor, which I worried might be significant.

Tigermama -- Really, you have to see these shoes to believe them. The heels are a good three inches long, the patent leather is polished to a high gloss, and the wearer, frankly, looks great in them. But just looking at her feet makes my arches ache. I can't imagine how she gets to the end of every day without wanting to scream.

Robin -- My sewing box back home, I probably should have noted, is the biggest mess in the world. Some of the thread is all scrambled up with a bead necklace that one of my kids broke when she was four and I've been meaning to fix ever since (she is 17 now); the needles and pins are all over the place, and the scissors keep disappearing because everybody knows where mine are. But I figure mine is more interesting than a neatly kept sewing kit, and I'm betting yours is too. Let's make a pact: I won't tidy mine up if you don't tidy yours...

Patois -- The shoes and the fake moleskin trousers are my pride and joy. I've obviously settled happily into middle age: it's comfort over fashion any time now.

Bish Denham said...

Great list! Rat-stabber stilettos...I'm with you, I don't know how women who wear them walk.

Robin said...

Well, that sure made my day simpler, (except that we're seeing "Milk" today, and the movie theater does happen to be right next to the sewing store). I'll join the pact. No tidying the sewing kit. But I say we can get new scissors. (Why do they have to lose scissors and nail clippers? Why?)

Linda D. (sbk) said...

I miss my leg warmers. I had to buy a pair for my daughter a little while ago because she figure skates and she needed them to keep her legs warm. It is so tempting to sneak into her drawer and snatch them.

Old Black Shoes ... what can I say? I bet mine look worse than yours. They're old and tattered and falling apart, but I keep wearing them because I can't find another pair to replace them. I have impossible high arches too and NEVER wear high heals. EVER.

A Paperback Writer said...

Oh my. I am going to have to dig my old leg warmers out of that drawer in the basement. I have 3 pairs, one pair nearly worn out. Even before Flashdance, we used them in dance class. I have one pair made of llama wool and decorated in Guatemalan designs. Maybe I need to wear those to school and emotionally disturb my students...
Thanks for the nomination. I will try to do it justice.

Mary Witzl said...

Bish -- They look so beautiful, though, don't you agree? I'm sure if I could wear them, I would. I'll bet that a lot of the women who don't wear high heels just have the wrong feet for them.

Robin -- I want to see Milk! He was one of the first people I ever voted for (sniff). Get new scissors, by all means, but find a hiding place for them that only you will know about. I've got a great one now and I can find my scissors every time.

Linda -- (Blush) The first leg warmers I started using WERE my daughter's -- she never wore them and, when I swiped them, never even noticed.

I have to teach in mine, so you're probably right, but in storage I've got a pair of Seibel's that I am sure could challenge yours: the soles actually have holes in them, but they're still comfortable for gardening in dry weather. Seibel's are an absolute must if you've got high arches; I had one pair for almost eight years and wore them down to nothing.

APW -- I know you can do this justice! And get those Guatemalan leg warmers out of storage and shock your students -- life is too short and winters where you live are too cold.

Carrie Harris said...

I ADORE leg warmers. Everyone should have them. :)

adrienne said...

Great list! Comfort sure does have a value.

Kanani said...

Congratulations!
Hope you can start adding photos to the blog!

Marcia said...

Poor sense of direction and bad night vision! For a minute I thought, "Hey, this must be MY blog." And I can't walk in stilettos either. Man, I sound like a little old lady. :)But just the thought of the pressure on the balls of my feet makes them burn.

Eryl Shields said...

I love this list! It's these more prosaic things that really provide the nutriment of our lives, so it's great to see them given their due.

Thank you for passing it on to me, I haven't had one of these for ages and I find that the form makes me think in a different way, which can be very useful.

Mary Witzl said...

Carrie -- People who don't know me sometimes notice mine and seem to think they're a fashion statement. If more people actually wore them, they'd realize that they're a necessary item of clothing, not just a vapid accessory.

Adrienne -- I'd have scorned comfort when I was 17; my black shoes, in particular, would have grossed me out. The way things are going, I just hope I don't end up as one of those old ladies who shuffles around in furry slippers.

Kanani -- I wanted to photograph everything! In particular, I wanted a photo of my shoes, scruffy leg warmers, and my internet connection. But that would have meant having to beg either of my kids for technical help (with, admittedly, Eldest's camera) and that would have been just a little too much.

Marcia -- It's the pressure on the balls of my feet that gets to me the most. Whenever I've been dumb enough to wear high heels, I find myself aching to take off my shoes and rub my arches -- and my feet ache and burn for weeks after. I don't know how women in stilettos cope, but I am convinced their feet are made differently.

Eryl -- You are so right about prosaic things. I find it hard to part company with some of the old, well-used things that have stood me in good stead over the years.

You've actually already done this, haven't you? I remember posts about your mother's mixing bowls and your favorite armchair. Come to think of it, I wish I had one of your mixing bowls here; I'd absolutely write about it -- after I used it.

Charlie said...

Mary, I did in fact miss this post--I get behind, and the two teenager posts made me forget to come back for this one.

I am nowhere in your writing league and I never do memes, but on this occasion I will--my brain could use some airing out.

Thank you so much.

Mary Witzl said...

Charlie -- You are a fine writer. So much so that it feels presumptuous even writing this -- as though I have any business judging you! That piece you wrote about the women you used to work with brought tears to my eyes -- it was utterly beautiful.