Summer’s End

Sablićevo beach, Rijeka

It’s probably one of the last hot days of the year, 31 degrees in Rijeka (29 here on my mountain), and I’ve decided to make the most of summer while it lasts and go swimming as often as I can. I don’t have time for full days by the beach, but I swim for 10 minutes, lie in the sun for another 30-40 minutes, and then I go back home. All done in under 1 1/2 hours.

I’m paying a lot of attention to my everyday life at the moment. After all, there are not many models for living and working entirely for oneself and in a decidedly non-busy way. I’m still finding my way between the extremes of “total structure and don’t deviate from your schedule for even an hour” and “just do what you feel like doing and end up not getting much done at all”. My focus is sleep, rest, do what lights me up, and work (which also lights me up, for the most part) as much as I need to in order to make the money I need. I’m consciously not trying to maximise my income right now and to put quality over quantity every time.

As I continue to build this life, the thought of where I’m going to live is never far from my mind, but how is just as important. I find I’m no longer willing to compromise by short-term renting and not being able to sleep. I’ll look for a long-term solution within the next year or so and I’m setting this intention consciously, not knowing how it’ll come to fruition.

It’s part of the whole “slowing down and prioritising my well-being and joy over everything” plan that I’ve been pursuing in various ways, and I’m pleased to see it becoming manifest in my everyday life more and more. This goes right down to the physical comfort of wearing clothes that don’t just fit but feel like a caress on my body. At the same time, I find myself less and less willing to feed the inhuman and environmentally catastrophic fast-clothing industry with its slave labour and mountains of waste. I’ve been looking for alternatives and come up with a few exciting solutions, even outside of second-hand/charity shops (which I love, too):

For the first time in my entire life, I’ve found a store whose clothes I love! This wonderful boutique right here in Rijeka has beautiful, comfortable clothes in cotton and linen. Such as this blouse and this top plus capri trousers:


The other discovery is Etsy (etsy.com). Now this is where it goes grassroots. Mind you, some of the online stores you see advertised on Facebook and the like, selling cheap, low-quality and badly cut clothes made from child/slave-waged labour, can also be found on Etsy so always check your Etsy shop’s bio. Most shopes there are regular people who sell handmade (!!) clothes, and you can find treasures. Such as this dress, pure cotton, hand-sown to my measurements for less than 60 EUR:

Sorry for the awkward angle and the silly face. At least you can see the dress! And my piano! And Chopin!

The great thing about Etsy is that it’s not just a marketplace, but a community, too. I have had lovely conversations with some of the shop owners there and have marked several shops as favourites. The advantage is that I can buy stuff that’s been made from natural fabrics and then I’ll pay the actual person who made it, circumventing the entire fashion industry! Some of the clothes are a little more pricey, but I’m happy to pay 80 EUR for linen trousers that are hand-sown to my measurements because I know I’ll be able to wear them for 10 years, rather than buy some cheap H&M shite that falls apart after the second wash.

We need to normalise wearing clothes for longer than a season or two. Well-made things can last 5-10 years or longer. The fashion industry is just over 100 years old and is destroying our planet (google it). The idea that you can wear a dress only once, for example, was put about by just the people who want to sell you more clothes. No more! Wear the dress to three different weddings. And the opera, too. If you love it, it fits and it feels amazing, why wouldn’t you? Fuck convention.

While I’m talking about the environment: Etsy also allows you to filter stores that, for example, ship to Croatia, and you can filter the store’s location, too. I don’t want clothes shipped to me halfway around the world and have only made exceptions very occasionally (think once a year or so). Otherwise, all the stores I buy from are in Europe: Italy, Germany, Lithuania… Again, it makes for lovely contacts with people from all over.

I feel very subversive doing this, and it sings to me in just the right way – the way that tells me I’m doing something which is aligned with my soul. I can’t even describe the feeling of wearing comfortable, beautiful clothes. If I were a cat, I’d be purring all day. Seriously.

Now that summer is almost over, I’ve been looking for knitters and promptly found a few more Etsy shops to put into my favourites. Just ordered my first knitted jumper (this one! What d’you think?) for autumn. Gods, I want to shout this out to the world, can you tell? I’ll finish off this post with a list of my favourite stores, with links. But first I’ll wish you a beautiful Autumn Equinox, which will happen on the 22nd of September this year. I’m so not ready to let go of summer just yet, but, heck… And a week from now it’ll be an entire season since Brandon died. I’m still no closer to comprehending it.

The list (first summer/cotton/linen, then winter/knitwear):

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The 2020 Version Of Summer Holidays

Me and my town in the magic twilight

Uff. I got a little dispirited after my last entry when I poured out my heart about my homesickness and nobody said anything about it! And then I sent an email to those who follow the blog a few weeks later, not realising that WordPress had closed off the comment option by then. Thanks for the emails telling me you’re still out there. I ❤ you guys.

To re-emphasise what I said about being very happy here and this being sort of the ideal place, I thought I’d post a few pictures. The above was taken by Cassandra just this past weekend, when we went for drinks in the balmy late-summer air of historical Trsat, which is like a little fairy-tale village but very much part of the town (and even fairly central). The picture doesn’t do the view justice by a long road, the panorama stretched all the way to what’s far outside the left edge of this picture.

I’ve been travelling a little too, but only in my own car, because one COVID scare is enough for me by far (not that there’s any way to completely exclude the possibility of infection in any case, but at least I’m not taking any planes or trains). In July, I drove to Germany to visit my auntie and my dad. It was insane: Two full-day trips for just over a day there, but I’m so so glad I went. Dad is 91 and getting thinner and more frail every time I see him. His dementia means that he doesn’t quite get what’s going on, and that’s probably for the best. I got to spend a good hour with him, pushing his wheelchair around the little park of the care home (visitors are not allowed inside at the moment) and sitting on a bench and chatting. I’m not even sure he still knows who I am, but he corrected me when I got the name of a street in his hometown wrong – that he still remembers!

On the way there, I spent one evening with my Auntie Inge who still lives in the said hometown. I have memories of a lot of childhood holidays there, but it was only now that she told me the details of the day when her younger sister died in 1945, and the exact spot where it happened. I’d always known that I should have had another auntie who died in the very last days of WW II at age five, but I never knew the details, and I must say, it’s a harrrowing tale.

Hers was a completely pointless death, all the fault of those asshole Nazis who were already utterly defeated but still insisted on sending soldiers – including teenagers and old men – to attack the US forces, who would never have decided to shell that little Bavarian town if they hadn’t been under constant, hopeless, last-ditch attack from them. One of the first hits destroyed a house next to which my Auntie Edith was just walking with the youngest (my dad had four sisters), trying to get home because the air-raid sirens had gone off. She was flung aside as Maria-Luise got buried under the rubble of the crumbling house wall. And then it fell to that 11-year old to carry her dead sister home, after digging her out. And my Auntie Inge who told me the story, only got away because she had decided to skip ahead. Imagine what these girls must have been through, imagine that on a child’s psyche, at a time when there was no psychological care for trauma sufferers after the war.

On to more cheerful subjects. Back in Croatia, I spent a few carefree weeks going swimming in the sea 1-2 times a week and working from my little dreamy spot outside the house:

I also looked after the most adorable little cat for a while, who has thankfully found a home in the meantime, because I couldn’t keep her, of course, much as I wanted to because she truly stole my heart. But she’s very happy now!

In August, I took a 3-day mini holiday at my doorstep, in Istria. I drove the 2 hours or so to Rovinj, a romantic historical town with enchanted little cobblestone streets and cafes by the sea. The next day I took the ferry to the island Cres, where Claudia lives, and spent a day with her. We went swimming and had dinner in yet another fairy-tale old town, and the next day I got the grand tour around the island with Claudia as my chauffeuse and tourist guide!

Here’s a sunset impression from the old town of Rovinj, looking out to the sea and a little island I wish I could live on:

I can see already that I’m going to have to make another entry talking about a further subject I’m very excited about, because this one’s getting too long. But there’s one more thing I still need to tell you! I’m hoping the infection numbers will go down in autumn because I’ve decided to spend December in Vienna, pandemic situation permitting. Vienna is magical at Christmas, and of course so is Rijeka, but I haven’t been to Vienna in December in 15 years and so it’s time. I’m booking lots of concert tickets which luckily are fully refundable in case they should get cancelled. I don’t care if I have to wear full HAZMAT, I need to get out and hear live music. Fingers crossed.

I know this blog entry gives the impression that I’m out and about a lot, but believe me, these two trips represented two Monday-to-Wednesday car journeys on my own. That was it. I’m still mostly in isolation at home, when I go swimming I’m on my own, I’ve met with a friend twice over the last six weeks, and otherwise I only do grocery shopping. I’m high-risk, and there are too many fascist conspiracy theorists believing COVID is a hoax and boycott masks – stupid science deniers that they are – for me to take any chances. After 6 months, it’s really starting to feel heavy being isolated. Fuck Nazis.

So this was Part I. Expect Part II within the next week or so! And before I sign off: Below is a shot I took in the famous Valentino cocktail bar in Rovinj, where you actually sit “on the rocks”, on cushions, directly above the sea. It’s ridiculously beautiful and romantic – well, I think the picture gives you a good impression.

Take care of yourselves, and let me know how you are.

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Valentino Bar in Rovinj