dazed days….

Being an easily distracted person can get one in trouble and I remember being roundly scolded by my father when I was little, for forgetting that I was supposed to be fetching him a glass of water or something as I wandered off, his request quite easily forgotten. I guess the attention deficit must have been pretty bad if it warranted him putting a little clause in his daily prayer, exhorting the Almighty to intercede on my behalf.

But I can’t help laughing a little at myself sometimes as I register my own distraction and continue to go about multi-tasking through my housewifely day.

Today my body has not been very successful in fighting off the allergens (which I am beginning to suspect are due to mold spores rather than Fuzzy) and I awoke early, my bronchiolar passages blocked.

I have been told of the beneficial uses of honey as an expectorant, and tried sipping a honeyed mug of hot water to see if it had any effect, but no go, the inhaler had to be used.

So after a very lazy start to the day, during which I succumbed to the will of the internet gods, I was prodded into making breakfast by a hungry Huz. A packet of wheat thins with my mug of tea works just fine, but Huz being a manly man needs his protein fix.

Anyways, it was 11 am already, and he was beginning to look a bit woebegone by now. I’m a bit dazed due to lack of oxygen in my brain, and the last thing I want to do is make breakfast. All I want to do is sit somewhere very quietly…..and breathe.

Two days of hard labour though have not been very good for my right forearm muscles, and I contemplated this as I thought of the kind of eggs I would make for him. An omelette would require the chopping of onions and tomatoes into tiny pieces, not possible with an achy forearm….

But why (I wondered as my gaze wandered) was the assortment of empty jars and jam bottles lying there on the counter taking up unnecessary space since so many days?

‘Right, time to put those away in the cabinet’, I thought, as I climbed atop a footstool in order to reach the place where I store such things.

That done, I glimpsed the bowl of the food processor sitting needlessly all by its lonesome, unused for days (taking up unnecessary space) so while I was up on that footstool, I thought I might as well put that away as well.

The blender/food processor storage space is rather cramped, so things have to be manoeuvred rather carefully in there lest something fall to the ground and break.

Which is why my lazy self had been postponing the putting away of the food processor bowl for so many days after making the damned pesto.

I congratulated myself on a job well done, and remembered why I had come into the kitchen in the first place. Oh yes, breakfast for Huz.

But wait, what are these wet towels doing on the floor, next to the washing machine? How very messy. We can’t have that.

So I carried them over to the balcony and hung them all out to dry, and while doing that I noticed how very blue the sky looked today. The sun was shining promisingly and I didn’t think it would rain at all. A good time to put a batch of clothes in the wash!

Gathering up a load of sorted clothes (a batch of mostly pink, red and orange) I put them in the washing machine, not a minute of sunshine to be wasted.

Alright then, time to tackle those eggs. Four should be enough to tide us through to lunch, and it would be a late one considering how slow and lazy and wheezy I was….

A little red chilli powder and some salt was added to the eggs and whisked with a bit of milk, when I had the bright idea of putting some fresh chopped basil into the mix…..

Since I was still in my nightgown, I had to fetch myself a shirt to wear on top of it before making my way down the stairs to the courtyard where I keep my pots of basil and cut a nice leafy stalk.

Then back to the kitchen to rinse the leaves, chop them up, whisk them into the eggs and……oh wait…I forgot to warm up the saucepan….

Saucepan on the stove, a bit of cooking oil poured in, but before I pour in the eggs…….where’s the bread? It must be put in the toaster BEFORE scrambling the eggs or else the eggs will get cold while the bread is toasting. Can’t have that!

Ultimately of course, the eggs turned out perfect and the bread was toasted simultaneously and we had a warm fulfilling breakfast before going off on our separate missions of the day…

Somehow or the other, everything always gets done, doesn’t it?

I’m glad Zahooran was there yesterday though, to scrub the blackened bottom of the cooker after I burnt half the chickpeas that I had left on the stove while I wandered off to reorganize my wardrobe….

But I will have you know that I managed to make something very yummy out of the buttery soft chickpeas that were salvaged….and they didn’t taste burnt at all.

Autumn, anyone?

I’ve been reading a lot of posts about autumn lately, one of which was even Freshly Pressed today, and left me desirous of a warm apple-cinnamon scone with my tea.

For some in the right place at this time (meaning latitudes higher/lower than the Tropics) the air is getting nippier, days are getting shorter…..and trees are beginning to get more colourful.

How lucky are you people of the Temperate zones…..you get to witness and FEEL the change of seasons.

I’m sure it must be glorious….despite getting back into school routine for mommies and children alike. In that sense autumn really is the beginning of a new year. Some even redefine it as a Β time for rejuvenation…..of rebirth….and I think I can relate to that if the last two days are anything to go by.

You see, dear readers, I have been spring-cleaning at a time of year normally associated with the autumnal months, though Karachi seems to have registered this time of the year of all times, as the monsoon season.

So while dark clouds gathered overhead and burst their breaches, and as it rained non-stop for 24 hours, turning the poorly-drained streets and lanes of Karachi into rivers and lakes, and as yours truly deemed it wise not to venture out of her bubble for fear of the car stalling while navigating a particularly large lake which is actually her link to the rest of the world, the sponges, dusters and wash-cloths were brought out and the house got a thorough clean-up.

The night it started raining was the same night that I decided to take my allergies more seriously.

I have been waking up in the morning, my lungs choked, unable to breathe, despite the antihistamine pill I have been taking every night for the last month, until I take a few puffs of Aerolin. My bronchioles expand and I relax, and sink back into my pillow with relief.

For the last few years, these symptoms have usually arisen in October……so I’m taken by surprise this year as it started much earlier, and lately I have been thinking maybe it’s not just dust I’m allergic to. Perhaps I have been in denial about my cat allergies, I don’t know, maybe it is time for me to go to an allergy specialist and get myself tested.

I stayed up till 3 am the other night, sitting next to my balcony door, listening to the rumbling thunder, ominously loud at times, and the flashes of lightning periodically illuminating the sky. As the rain lashed against the door, and Fuzzy sat nearby, his ears twitching, looking worried, I read through six different articles that told me similar things about how to deal with cat allergies. I bookmarked this one, and am considering printing it out and sticking it to my bathroom door so I can read it every day and be more motivated and less likely to slack off in terms of safely and effectively minimising my allergic reaction to whatever it is in my house that’s triggering it.

Apparently, there are many allergens that can cause the same symptoms as cat allergens, some of which can be more serious than those that can be caused by a cat alone.

Whatever the case may be, there can be no harm in cleaning the house from top to bottom (with a bandanna wrapped around my face) and it can only benefit my fellow inhabitants and I.

The first thing I did was to remove my work table from a closed, carpeted room into a more airy area right next to the balcony. As many of you know, I spend an unhealthy amount of time on my laptop! Therefore, it was imperative that I balance the unhealthiness with a healthier environment, and I think It will make a big difference. Fingers crossed.

I realise that my house is probably smothered in cat allergens because Fuzzy, as his name indicates, has been endowed with very fine, downy fur. He is also, unfortunately, a black cat. Cats with dark fur are more allergy-inducing than cats with light fur.

I wish I had known this when we adopted him. Sigh. But it’s too late now, I love the little critter.

Here’s a little known fact. I am the only person in my family that has a humungusly soft spot for animals. I mean, my Mom does too, but I was always the one who imposed pets on her, she never had any when she was growing up. I do know for a fact that she adored my neighbour’s dog (i think his name was Silver…..he was sadly hit by a car…) and didn’t object to her rabbits roaming our house, munching uncooked lasagne sheets and pooping on the sofa….but I am straying from the topic at hand….

So I started with the space which I shall now inhabit as my primary work area, and armed with a ladder, soapy water and a sponge, I proceeded to systematically wash all the walls, from ceiling to floor. I dusted everything thoroughly with a damp cloth, vacuumed the furniture, the blinds, cleaned the fans of all the accumulated dirt and cat hair (which we do every 10 days or so) and washed the curtains in hot water to kill all the allergens on them.

Needless to say, I have been passing out, exhausted from the hard work, my arms aching, but feeling great that I’m working towards making the house healthier. I smile with happiness as I sing wheezily while going about my work, puffing my inhaler when need be.

Too bad Zahooran wasn’t around to see her employer doing a better job of housework than her that first day πŸ˜›

The biggest change for poor little Fuzzy is going to be the fact that I must train him not to sleep under the bed in my room…..which is his favourite place in the whole house for most of the day, emerging only in the evening, stretching out his limbs and meandering his way to one of us for some love, or over to his water bowl if he’s thirsty.

He runs into my room and under the bed, first chance he gets! Especially when the doorbell rings……he is terrified of visitors πŸ™‚

Giving him up is just not an option, friends.

I know I just have to work a little harder, that’s all.

But since we’re on the theme of the art work around my house, and autumn brings to mind dead leaves, here’s some I painted several years ago when I picked them up from somewhere because I thought they were beautiful.

browny
olive-y

Here’s to rebirth…..and rejuvenation. And cleaner air and less allergens. And hopefully more watercolours some day.

My heart goes out to the people of Badin and all the other waterlogged, flooded areas of Sindh, where people’s homes and livelihoods have once again been ruthlessly washed away. I know better now than to wish for rain in a country with governments that do nothing to improve or spend more money on building and maintaining crucial infrastructure.

when Huz got me roses….

….I thought they needed to be immortalized. Such a rare occasion definitely should be! (and no, this post is NOT about my husbands sense of romance….I used to emotionally blackmail him into getting me flowers….cos I really like them. They’re so pretty! But I don’t anymore….emotionally blackmail him, that is…if i want flowers, I go get them myself. And that’s fine too. Though I realize he will read this post and feel blackmailed again. Heh heh. That’s fine too)

So, the day after a long gone birthday, I made these quick watercolours, trying to capture the shades of yellow, peach and orange merging into red at the edges.

Here they are, for what they’re worth, framed and hung near the entrance to the house.

I should have you know, this post was inspired by Patty over at meandering minds…...she is an amazing woman who is working on her watercolor skills even as she fractured her collarbone three times in the past two months!!! (give or take a few weeks)

I don’t know how she manages to produce a blog post through the haze of extreme pain that envelops her these days, but she does. I tip my hat to her.

And this goes out to my lovely fellow bloggers who wanted to see more of the artwork scattered around my house. It’s a great theme, (meaning I don’t need to put words to the myriad difficult thoughts churning through my head every day…..call it a cop out) and I have a couple more up my sleeve. Stay tuned please.

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Fluttering a summer away…an art project and some memories.

The year was 2002, and Huz had some work in the Maldives. Yes, you heard me right. The Maldives. He had to be there for a month, and luckily the time coincided with summer holidays for Amu, so after working out the feasibility of the two of us going along and staying at a nearby resort island while Huz ferried back and forth to work in Male, it was decided that we would accompany him πŸ™‚

In retrospect, it was probably the most idyllic month of our lives, and I would give an arm and a leg to be there now, when I have so many more digital cameras, but really, at the time I couldn’t help wondering what Amu and I would DO all day to keep us entertained. How much snorkelling and swimming can one possibly do? How much can you read in a hammock? How do you keep a four year old occupied all day for weeks on an island without any forms of recreation besides the obvious ones? How many sand castles can you make? (we made one every day πŸ˜› )

These are questions (among many more) that I may answer in some future blog post, with pictorial illustrations. For now, I will have you, my dear readers, know that I took along with me my paintbrushes, watercolours, and some good Cansen paper. And a Nature book on butterflies.

I love butterflies. They are the most mesmerising creatures (in my opinion) and I am blown away by the sheer variety of them. If one happens to flutter by, I will drop everything and watch it till it flutters away. It’s just one of those things you have to do. Watch butterflies, yeah.

I never liked the idea of real, dead butterflies framed and put on walls (no offense to anyone who does so, it just doesn’t appeal to me.) But I had an idea when I came across that book on butterflies in an old book store. Why not replicate them in watercolours?

So I decided to make that my summer project, and what better way to put your nose to the grindstone than to maroon yourself on a tiny Maldivian island?

Every day (after my post-breakfast nap) I sat down by the window in my beach bungalow, with all my paraphernalia laid out neatly. I would first sketch the butterfly, a painstaking process (when you’re feeling lazy in the summery torpor) because one half of the butterfly had to be an exact mirror image of the other half. Crazy concentration. Once the sketch was complete, I’d start mixing colours and painting.

When I look at my framed butterfly panels now, I associate them with that idyllic Maldivian summer of 2002. It brings back (slightly blurred) memories of white sand, dappled sunlight filtering in through the trees, turquoise waters and countless afternoons spent going for walks around Paradise island, sand castles, and yoga on the beach.

So I hope you enjoy looking at these today. I inscribed the scientific names of the butterflies underneath the watercolors because I love saying the names out loud and would have forgotten them otherwise…

To give you an idea of the size, these were all done on 5”x5” squares of white paper.

turquoise
bottle green
aquamarine
glass
dotty
brown
orange
yellow
watery

Can you guess which one I love the most? What would you do for fun/recreation on a month-long getaway in Paradise? πŸ™‚

Sunday ambience

all is peaceful...sun shines...cricketers play..
hark! something grows!
and the champa springs forth a new bunch of buds..
the mysteriously dormant leafy sprigs produce a profusion of mysterious yellow blooms...
(thank you Pasha!)
the other pot chooses to be more demure..
the chilli plant rose again like a phoenix from the ashes, and is now more beautiful than it ever was...
tomato seedlings have found new homes...
bumblebee takes a chill pill. too lazy a sunday to be dive-bombing my ears πŸ˜›
to think the champa was so little when i planted it...just two little sprigs with some leaves..
it has replaced the bug-friendly allamanda as my new pride and joy πŸ™‚
the house is peaceful too, without Zahooran to disrupt the artful mess...
morning light filters through the blinds..
this one's for Kathy πŸ™‚
the offspring plants her juice on the table...
and proceeds to gobble her cereal. which reminds me....

I should do something about breakfast πŸ™‚