Summer bummer

Commentary

Photo credit: gege.gatt

They usually count me among the lucky ones who get to sit around during summer. Formally speaking, that may be true; but I’m here to convince you otherwise. The little voices in my head are telling me that there is no way I can get everything I need to get done within the entire month of August.

Go ahead, roll your eyes, wince at me. It doesn’t stop it from being true. Even the ants here are staging a retreat below the keyboard – some brave lookouts comb the white plains of the ibook for the deathly fingers of yours truly much to their utter bad luck (the fingers are lurking). What am I on about? Is it the heat? Or maybe it’s the stress of  knowing I won’t get all my to-dos done that makes ants miraculously appear out of nowhere on my laptop, in my bowl of cereal and most likely swimming somewhere in my stomach too. As you wonder whether I’ve now become positively insane, let me take a moment to explain everything that I plan, but won’t have time to fulfill.

The Summer Wishlist

Thank you magazine articles for constantly letting us know what the best summer / beach reads are. I have feverishly read all the summaries, religiously circled the ones I might be interested in and now all I have to do is pack a beach towel, head for the nearest beach and root myself in the most cancerous looking spot of sun. It’s what I did every other year, but this year it seems like the hardest thing on earth possibly because my perception of hard has changed dramatically. There’s one reason for this, and you can blame it on the kids.

And yes, thank you too billboard ads, mailings, radio and TV advertisements. I now know that I can’t afford even the best deals in travel packages. My financial situation is so dire that I can hardly even get to the average hotel that’s down the street (not that I would want to anyway). Yet at night, when I tend to get more delusional than usual, I search the web frantically for ticket prices and accommodation and convince myself with midnight maths that I can afford it. I wake up with a number hangover, but luckily with no great debt as of yet, at least.

And oh, let’s not forget sleeping late, going out, meeting with friends and the general paralysis of all things normal in your schedule. In the 100% humidity we’ve been experiencing lately, the only paralysis I feel is that of my brain.

I think the message is clear: Get out – even the ants are vacating. I would hide under the table for a week until people start wondering where I’ve disappeared too, but that’s not possible because the carpenter will be delivering the dining table in September. I don’t even have a bed to crawl under, for shade if nothing else. I could of course sandwich myself in the bookcase; perhaps surrounded by books I could feel a touch of the escape from the mundane even briefly, before the bookcase topples over me.

It’s going to be a short one month, I’m sure.

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On summer

Rants

Hello summer,

We’ve been waiting for you. We’ve quantified you to the certainty of 30 degrees Celsius and we monitor the weather forecast like hungry wolves. Clouds tomorrow? Saharan dust? Let that not come in the way of your arrival, we beg. But the tell-tale sign arrives overnight, and we don’t even need to check our thermometers to confirm your entrance. Suddenly, hair frizzes up, furniture is coated with a thick film of moisture and we are scooped up in a dense cloud of opaqueness. Humidity heralds your arrival. And instead of a warm welcome, we’re thinking, how could we forget about what you do to us every year?

We get carried away with romantic notions of the Ss: sun, salty sea, seashells, sand. As we slap on our sunscreen with SPF 1,000 under the scorching sun, we soon realize that it’s about time we bought our own beach umbrella because there’s very little hope we’ll ever manage to get the few sunbeds that offer it as option. As we enter the water, we yelp silently, trying to look good as we enter a liquid version of our freezer. Of course it’s refreshing, we fib. “Look at me, I’m diving in, ha ha,” and our heart comes to an abrupt halt before resuming again when we break the surface. “God that felt good!” we say through clenched teeth. Around us, a few hundred others do the same, and we try to ignore the persistent question, as we hit a warm spot while we’re swimming. It’s the currents, we convince ourselves, though we know as we eye the crowd that it’s plain human nature. Oh yes, gross, summer, gross.

Then come plans for traveling and discovering and getting away from worries and people (though the latter, few of us would admit). We make grand plans for escape, and monitor prices closely before booking on the day when unexpectedly, prices rise, dammit. We buy travel guides and optimistically keep them on the coffee table, hoping that we’ll pick them up before the trip. We make our budget so that we never keep it, and come back with empty pockets and ticket stubs that we’re not sure whether to keep as souvenirs or throw out. As for our peace of mind? No room for that, surely, with the stress of seeing all the sights, avoiding all the touristy places and getting our value for money. Going back to work no longer seems like a bad idea, actually.

And when we start to take at least three showers a day, we remember why it is that you stink summer. We are gullible people, we like to live life in postcards that say “Wish you were here!” or go to work dancing to summer beats, sipping on mojitos. But when you arrive, you bring with you the unbearable heat, those long long days, that need filling. So we venture out to coffeeshops more, we go out at nights, because we wear denial on our sleeves, and by the end of it, we come out of August broke and in despair. We wait for the first rain eagerly, and monitor thermometers for temperature fluctuations. We are people of routine and we work in this cycle.

For now, in early June, all I have to say is “Welcome back.” By the end of it, we’ll hate you, that’s a promise.

plain bananas x

Just mental

Jewelry

I’m happy to announce: I’m back.

And by back, I mean back to the beading fun. Last night before going to bed I really felt the urge to make a set of earrings, which I shared with you yesterday. They are now available at my shop. The same feeling greeted me in the morning, and I made another set while having my dose of Vitamin C in the sun. The nutrients worked, because look:

Indulging in my girly persona

Indulging in my girly persona

And in general I’ve been on the hyper side of things. Just thinking about all the changes that my apartment will undergo — this major face lift — really makes me lose sleep at night. Not from worry or stress, but excitement. I think about the major changes, and pepper those thoughts with a lot of great accessories I come across on Etsy and interior design blogs and magazines and oh my, I’m in mental heaven! If only mental money could work as well in reality as it does in my head, where budget is a word that is foreign and utterly meaningless. But that’s in my head — and as regards most things in there — pretty useless to the real world.

But I promised a little view of the kitchen plans. In the absence of a scanner, I photographed the catalog. I think it gives you the overall idea:

Be my guests!

Be my guests!

And lastly, all your crossed fingers did the trick! My sister got the job and now it’s time for celebration. Bring out the wine and some food because I’m famished. But before I go, here’s a view from my balcony along with my little friend. Enjoy!

The beach waits for you (and me)

The beach waits for you (and me)

Math Monday

math monday

mathsbananas

I’m getting better with the days. Granted it’s 1 a.m. (sort of) but for my purposes it’s still Monday night. I just managed to steal some minutes at the end of a rather longish day, and now it’s time to do the math.

  • 1 new listing on Etsy finally! Oh yeah, this banana has risen from the Etsy dead. I’ve managed to locate my beads, and supplies but the frames I use to take photos with the jewelry are still in the mysterious box no. 7 which is nowhere near me, right now.
Caution: not edible!

Caution: not edible!

  • 6 is the number of boxes I have unpacked. You might be wondering what’s taking so long — I keep going on and on about boxes. I should be done already, right? Well not quite. I’ve just moved to my apartment and it will soon undergo major renovation, so I’m not too quick with unpacking things that don’t need to be out of their boxes yet. It’s going to be a long while before I manage to call this place my home, but I love changes, and boy am I excited.
  • 5-digit number, which I dare not mention, is the cost of the whole renovation. I was doing the math earlier this evening along with the carpenter. I’m quite optimistically looking beyond the big sum of expenses and envisioning the big change and long-term investment. Wouldn’t you?
  • 1.5 job interviews for my sister. The .5 is for the second part of the interview which involves some hands-on creativity tomorrow with a live brief (by the way, my sister’s a graphic designer / illustrator and she designs anything plain bananas you see). I’m hoping you can cross your fingers too.
  • 1 new pair of earrings that I have yet to list. The perfect way to end a long day of numbers.
Look beyond the bad lighting

Look beyond the bad lighting

Coming soon, a photo of the kitchen I’ve chosen and my clean desk. Ok, I’ll sneak in one of the sea from my balcony too.

How was your week in numbers?

Beachy time

Musings

I’ve been in Chania for a whole year, and spent most of last summer there too, but it wasn’t until this August that I truly discovered some of the great beaches we had at our disposal. All it took was renting a car. We were thrilled at first because we had a means of transport and could pretty much pick any point on the map and head for it. Sounds like a great way to spend a week with visiting friends, right? Packed like sardines in the not-so-spacious Huyndai Atoz is one thing; doing the whole road trip transfixed in one position with no radio is quite another.

You see at first we didn’t notice that there wasn’t a radio affixed to the car, because it’s something you take for granted. The antenna was there. The radio? Nowhere to be found. I actually stumbled upon this little detail when I mechanically made for the turn on / volume knob and hit a flat surface. Then I tried to pull it off, thinking it’s a cover. But no, no such thing. If you’re having trouble visualizing this, here’s what it looked like:

It looked like a freaky skeletor-style face

It looked like a freaky skeletor-style face

Luckily we had one of those cassette / CD players which we loaded with batteries and connected to our iPods. We were so bad-ass.

We headed to the nearby beaches, testing the waters, but soon enough we ventured out to a big tourist attraction, Elafonisi. An island is connected to the mainland from a tiny stretch of sand. On some days it tends to be windy there, with lots of waves, but luckily the sea was calm when we were there. As the wave washes over the sand on the shore, the color of the sand is pink from the shells. We took a leisurely walk along the coast and kept stopping to collect shells. I have so much material for new beading adventures!

Looking for shells

Looking for shells


Infecting others to do the same. I enlisted my boyfriends help too!

Infecting others to do the same. I enlisted my boyfriend's help too!

We were pretty lazy at Elafonisi, because the later it got, the less people on the beach and the calmer the waters. And the colors in the sky? Magical!

Dive in

Dive in

And then we looked on the other side as the sun set and we ran across the beach to take photos. The golden hues were to die for!

My favorite hour

My favorite hour

After this great beach, we thought we’d head out to Balos, near Gramvousa. The photos we’d seen of the place told of a very exotic location that looked nothing like the Greek beaches we were familiar with. And let’s be honest, how many of those postcards for sale aren’t entirely changed by photoshop? So we were skeptical but curious. In fact we were so curious as to follow the map instructions even though part of the route was marked as dirt road. But hey, we were on a road trip, right? And next to dirt road, the route was labeled “scenic”. What more could we ask for? We wanted adventure, and adventure we got.

The dirt started out…dirty but drivable. As we progressed in our average 10 km / h the size of the rocks on the ground increased so that it was bad enough we were ascending at an angle on a dirt road, we also had to manoeuvre our tiny radioless car around those huge boulders. It all seemed like a bad Atari game, really.

Bumpy road ahead

Bumpy road ahead

On our way there we came across a lot of friendly free-roaming goats. They posed for us too.

Friendly goat

Friendly goat

A mere 20 km later, we arrived at the parking area, because what followed was a 2 km walk on a footpath. We had to descend our way on the other side to find the exotic beach of Balos.

On the footpath to the beach

On the footpath to the beach


Our first sight of the beach right at the top

Our first sight of the beach right at the top


The breathtaking view!

The breathtaking view!


More of the beach

More of the beach

Spot that boat over there? Well, in case you ever visit Crete, this beach should be in your list of sights not to miss. And that boat is your gift from God. Forget the dirt road, the walking all the way down to the beach (don’t even get me started on the steps we had to go up!). A mere 50 minutes cruise and voila! You’re at the beach. Unless you’re more the adventure type. Like our macho group.

Then again, on our way back we had the full moon and despite the rocky ride, it was a great view to enjoy the whole way home. Radio or no radio.

Full moon, the sea and a perfect ride home

Full moon, the sea and a perfect ride home

Swimming to meet you

Musings

It’s hot, there’s no Internet and in my book, there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be at the beach, right?

I leave you with some photos, few words and the hope that Internet will be restored soon!

(Oh yeah, this is brought to you from the cutest coffeeshop in Chania!)

Book? Check!

Book? Check!

the beach

the beach

Mojito? Check!

Mojito? Check!

The banana on the beach

The banana on the beach

Spot the banana having fun!

Spot the banana having fun!

There will be a new artist tomorrow, even though there’s no Internet. Ah, yes. Magic, gotta love it.

Summertime and the living is easy

Jewelry, Musings

Ok, so it’s technically not summer yet — we’re still a week or so away from entering the summer month triad. Yeah, sure, go ahead and convince me that with 30 ℃ there’s still a week left until summer. I won’t buy that. It’s here — I can smell it, feel it and even sweat it. Out come the sandals and dresses, the summer hats and sunscreens and bring on the ice, will you please? It’s boiling out here.

But out here, is where I want to be. I find it hard staying indoors when the weather is treating me to this abundance of sunlight. Cleaning our relatively big veranda was a task we’ve been postponing for a few weeks, but with mercury rising, Saturday had us doing the unavoidable. And today, I’ve been doing nothing more than laze around outside, drinking my coffee, reading my book and enjoying the evening breeze.

My summer table

On the veranda, where I pretend I'm at a coffee shop

I couldn’t even bring myself to stay indoors and work on my little beading corner, even though I really wanted to create today. Solution: move the beads outside and create to my heart’s content.

Last night, on a walk down Chania’s old harbor, I suddenly realized how buzzing every place was — so many tourists, so many locals out for a drink in the cool breeze of these early summer nights. The island is dressed in its summery persona already and I felt lucky to be living the island life, so close by the sea.

Inspired by these realizations, you won’t be surprised to see that the result of my beading efforts led me to island colors and beachy themes. Sea-shells definitely couldn’t be absent from these leg bracelets I made:

She wears seashells by the seashore

She wears seashells by the seashore

I will be listing these on Etsy as soon as I take some more photos on a beach location near me. I have to say, I’m in love with the colors, and I’m so glad it’s summer.

On a different note, the first plain bananas package has safely arrived at its destination. I will be mapping the plain bananas’ journey across the globe (though after much frustration, I’m still looking for a map to do this online – open to suggestions) with buyers’ pictures. It’s an open invitation to help me with the project and already the first item has been mapped. Thank you Gigi for the love and the photo. Plain Bananas loves you too.

Here’s where these earrings have gone:

(If you would like to see a map of this, you can always check my flickr account, which is the only place I have input this, so far).

plain bananas travels to Philadelphia

plain bananas travels to Philadelphia

The journey will continue.

Summer, welcome back.