Love

13 Jul

The longer I am a mom the more I realize just how deep, tender and aching a mother’s love is.

Each day with Alex opens me up to wonders I never knew possible.

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Slovak Notes — The Church of Sport

12 Jun

The Church of Sport (Kosice 1991)

My first Sunday in Kosice I got drunk. Not just drunk, rip-roaring drunk. I didn’t mean to at first, but it was the only way to erase what started as a truly terrible day.

Waking up hungry but also happy to have a free day to get to know the city better, I decided to head on down to the main downtown area, grab a bite to eat, and maybe do a little shopping. Unfortunately, no one mentioned to me that on Sundays practically everything shuts down in Kosice.

I had seen a city park on the map that was right next to the train station. In Moscow the year before, I loved strolling around the various city parks and people-watching. Parks were always great places to strike up random conversations with people and practice my Russian. In the Soviet Union many of the parks were well-kept and (once you learned to ignore the jingoistic music blasting from the loudspeakers) escapes from the everyday grunginess of the city. Naively I thought that the same would apply to parks in Kosice.

First I hopped on a tram to the center of town. It’s like a medieval version of a ghost town. Nothing’s open. Few people are walking around. Everything looks dead. Things aren’t helped by the fact that it’s overcast outside.

After walking around a while and not finding anywhere to eat, I headed on over to Mestsky (City) Park, figuring that since it’s close to the train station there should be someplace open where I can get a bite to eat. As luck would have it, there is a place open – a small octagonal hotdog kiosk. “Ah,” I think to myself, “things are looking up.”

The hotdog turned out to be a disgusting fatty wiener that made me slightly sick to my stomach. Okay, so things weren’t really turning out the way I would like them too, but, I’m close to the park, I at least have had some protein, I figured that my little adventure is really not so bad thus far.

The park seemed a little run-down. There are a few rusting bits of what look like kiddy rides scattered throughout and everything’s covered in a thin layer of dirt. I keep walking around and then I hear a “Psst…”

Yeah, I know, I’m in a strange country and hearing a “Psst…” should be a deterrent to anyone travelling alone. It’s not like I sought out the voice. It came from right in front of me. I was on a collision course with…

A strange guy jacking off right in the middle of a bush.

Now I’m not someone who plopped down into Slovakia from small town USA. I grew up in DC and consider myself hardened to the strange things that city life brings – the homeless or crazy people talking to themselves. But I’d never really seen a flasher before except for when I was 5 and the little boy my age who lived down the street would always come out of the john with his pants down to his ankles.

I was freaked.

Here I was standing in the middle of a park on a Sunday morning with a fatty hotdog churning madly in my stomach and there was a guy bearing all (which, from what I could tell, wasn’t all that much).

I turned heel and bolted back to the dorm where I found Karl and another teacher who had been in Kosice for a few months, Don, hanging out. I told them my story and subsequently learned about the dearth of things to do in Kosice on Sundays. Don, having the experience of a few Sundays in Kosice under his belt, suggested that we go to a nearby restaurant, Sport, that happened to be one of the only restaurants in town open on Sundays.

Sport, with its socialist interior, gray light from outside filtering through the large windows, and slightly stained tablecloths was a haven for me that day. Not only was the food good and cheap, so was the beer. With the first major tinges of homesickness setting in the beer was a solace, a hopsy elixir. By the time Sport closed (early in the afternoon), a comfortable numbness started to settle in and the flasher was slowly becoming a thing of the past. The three of us stumbled home, complaining about Kosice and anything else we could think of.

This was my first Sunday in Kosice and, since I planned to stay at least 6 months, I’d have a lot more. Even though hanging with Don and Karl helped, I still felt down. I just couldn’t imagine spending my time walking down barren streets and potentially running into perverts on every corner.

It was comforting, though, knowing that Sport was a place to retreat to. If I ever happened to be stuck in Kosice on a Sunday, I’d often go and seek refuge in its greasy but (since beer was cheap) hallowed halls. Since I was no longer a churchgoer, but rather an agnostic recovering Catholic, Sport served as an adequate spot to withdraw to on a Sunday.  It may not have been the most spiritual place in the world, but for many a Sunday, it sure was good for my soul.

Copyright K. Datko 2009

Aww…..

7 Jun
Alex and Jonathan

Alex and Jonathan

Memories of Donald…

3 Jun

Two days ago I got a phone call from my former Venetian neighbor, Greta, telling me the terrible news. Donald, who was truly the heart and soul of our Venice California enclave known as 28 Sunset was gone.

Gone.

I only found out this morning what had happened.

He was hit by a bus.

Even though I haven’t seen him since I was 5 months pregnant with Alex, I can’t stop the tears from falling. Donald was my age. He was my neighbor for 7 or so years. So many of my memories of Venice include him. Just the other day, as I was exfoliating my face with a J-A-S-O-N product, I was thinking about him because he gave it to me.

Donald was an intense person. A fighter. I can’t help but think that if we had more people like Donald in our world taking care of just a small piece of it, it’d be a better place.

Donald was the first person to tell me about 9-11. I remember going to work that Tuesday morning and out comes Donald, arms waving wildly and excitedly, “We’ve been bombed!”. The only time I saw the footage of the Twin Towers was that morning on his TV.

One time our apartment was being stalked by a guy who was stealing our bikes and harassing/stalking our fellow neighbor, Lisa. Donald and I followed the guy twice trying to catch up with him and tell him to get lost or at least get his license plate number.

We had a stray cat in our building who had obviously been dumped by someone. Donald took her in, named her Mickey and took care of her until she passed. He kept her ashes in an urn because he missed her so much.

For the longest time I heard yelling and thought it was a woman screaming until I realized that it was actually George, Donald’s parrot, calling out his name. George was a fixture in our apartment complex.

If it weren’t for Donald catching the person who was renting our crazy-shut-in manager’s parking space in the act, we would probably still have the crazy manager to contend with.

Donald and my neighbor Lisa came over for a vegetarian Christmas dinner I had fixed one year. He brought a lovely red wine and we had a great time.

I’d always get free samples of great organic cosmetics from Donald. He was always so nice about passing cool things along to others.

For the longest time we had a tattered white swinging couch-thing in our courtyard that Donald had brought in. It was always so much fun to sit on it and hang out. When the couch had finally seen its last legs, he rescued a really cool table from down the street and set it up with a few chairs and potted plants. The first few pictures of things from my blog were taken using that table as a backdrop. He was always concerned about creating a nice shared communal space in our courtyard.

He was always excited to see doves and hummingbirds nesting in our courtyard trees and would do anything he could to protect them from the gardeners and stray cats.

When Donald got his new car he was super duper retentive about getting scratches. I remember coming home one day with a note on my door saying I owed him money for a scratch. I took him outside, opened my door and showed him that there was no way my door could’ve made that ding and everything was cool. When I got my new car, he showed me how to use a paint marker to cover up dings.

I loved looking at his paintings and wished he could’ve been discovered by a rich and famous art collector. He was one of the most talented people I know.

Donald always championed things around our building. He discovered that a pipe had burst and saved our complex from being flooded and overcome with mildew. He always watched over our parking spots and made certain our apartment building was a safe place to be.

To me Donald symbolized Venice in all its artistic bohemian intensity.

Rest in peace, Donald. You’ll be missed by many.

Still here….

13 May

Nope, haven’t forsaken the blog yet. I guess most of us go through a period of time when we either get too busy or overwhelmed to update regularly. That’s me!

Thanks for the nice comments from some of you. I would love to post patterns and such, and hopefully will someday. Right now if I can get more than 30 minutes of time on the computer a day, I’m really lucky.

Things have been really strange lately. I guess this past year has been both wonderful and sad at the same time. Recently I lost one of my dear uncles. His wife had passed away only 8 months earlier. It’s not only sad for me, but I really think about my cousins a lot and about how hard it must be to lose both parents in 8 months. They were a really close family who had been through a lot of hard times but my uncle and aunt were all about loving others and showed their kindness to their family in subtle but powerful ways.

We’ve also been perpetually sick here in the burbs. I think the last day I felt totally fine was about 3 weeks ago… Ah well…

Hopefully I’ll be able to post some fun and positive things fairly soon. Can’t believe I haven’t posted a FO for over a year (even though I have pics of some…)

Our Strawberry Monster

Our Strawberry Monster

Happy Birthday, Little One!

26 Feb

Alex is a whole year old today. Wow!

alex3

How time flies!

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Blogiversary… A few of my favorite posts…

17 Feb

Today’s my 2 year blogiversary. Last year I was a little too busy to blog what with giving birth (or close to it) and all. But this year I thought I’d give my blog a little more attention.

When I first started this blog, I really wanted it to be a place where I wrote essays about my daily life. No small thing was too small. Most of my writing I really wanted to focus on fiber, since fiber is what speaks to me no matter how long between projects. I spent a lot of time on my initial blog posts, hoping to hone my writing skills. I also wanted to post patterns and tutorials on my blog. My goals were to increase my traffic. My hope was that someone would ‘discover’ my writing and that I could parlay that into something larger.

But, two months into my blogging adventures, life suddenly changed. I got engaged, moved, pregnant and married all within the course of 6 months. I just didn’t have the energy to devote myself to my blog the way I wanted to. In fact I probably posted more blogs in my first month than I have this past year.

Oh well. C’est la vie. My life is so rich these days and I will always have a blog (or whatever will be around in coming years) to return to when I have more time.

For the moment, though, I thought I would post links to my favorite posts. The posts that really tell a lot about me and that might have gotten buried in a chronological sidebar archive somewhere along the way.