Today, it’s all about waiting.

Waiting to start the 2017 addition of the Helsinki Midnight Run. (My start time is 21.25, Helsinki time.)

Waiting to hear how prepared and where are family and friends in Florida are hunkered down and hopefully safe from Irma’s approach. (Last forecast has her hitting the Florida Keys early Sunday morning local time, Sunday afternoon our time.)

And, waiting to learn the fate of those who are currently riding out Irma’s wrath across Cuba.

I hate waiting. For anything. But, waiting on all of this on the same day has me unbelievably restless and anxious and fidgety. And, the weather here appears to reflect my mood rather well — rainy, windy and generally miserable and unsettled.

There’s absolutely nothing we can do from here for those in Florida and Cuba currently either experiencing what I image to be hollowing winds and lashing rain, deafening and terrifying at once. I can’t help but worry about those we’ve met who live far too close to the water’s edge. I can’t help but think of the waves currently crashing over the Malecón, which will likely grow and intensify as Irma follows Cuba’s coast. And, I hope against hope that not too much is washed away.

And, I can’t help but wonder what will remain tomorrow and the day after.

And, then comes Florida, likely to take on the full force or Irma’s terror.

As I sit or pace or try to work and take my mind off Irma’, the faces of those I love flash before my eyes, whether in Cuba or Florida.

And the word that comes to mind is simply, ‘¡cuidate!’

Be safe.


Day 40: Proekt 365 (Anything and then some…)

Day 40: Proekt 365 I'd do anything, and then some...

Day 40: Proekt 365
I’d do anything, and then some…

The life of an expat is filled with bittersweet moments, just like life lived anywhere. It is a great life for the most part, although not quite the ‘adventure’ that most envision. It’s certainly not a life I ever thought I’d find myself living.

Unlike life in my home country, my circles of friends tend to shift each year if not every few months. (I intentionally say ‘circles’ since at this point there are circles of friends in Moscow, Amsterdam and Helsinki as well as all those in the US and those who live all over the place and don’t necessarily fit neatly into any of the other geographic circles.) The shift, however, is not a result of any sort of fickleness within me or amongst my friends. It’s just the nature of the ‘community’.

Rather than finding a job, buying a house and settling for several decades in a particular neighbourhood, life abroad is a very large game of musical chairs of sorts. Individuals and families drift in and out on a fairly regular basis. Contracts and assignments are temporary and tend to last several years at most. Unless one has strong family ties to a particular country (such as when someone’s spouse happens to be from that particular country), the community is in a constant state of flux as people come and go and move from one place to another.

It must have been a year or so ago that I read a fantastic blog about the intensity of expat friendships in particular. (I wish I could find it, because it struck a cord with me in so many ways.) It’s difficult to describe just how intense those bonds can be between expats. They form incredibly quickly and with an urgency and intensity that are rare in one’s home country. Perhaps it’s because we all know the temporariness to the time we’ll physically spend in that shared place and space. For whatever reason, they are immensely meaningful and powerful. It is also incredibly difficult and painful when friends move on to the ‘next’ place, and it happens far, far too often.

I do not like that ‘moving on part’ of the expat life, whether it is our own or watching a good friend leave. But, I’d not give those relationships up for anything in the world, despite how gut-wrenching it can be when it is time to say farewell to a fellow traveler.

Today’s image was from a send off for one such friend. Part truth (in that I’d do just about anything for these particular friends in whose company a lovely afternoon was spent) and part humourous (in that it’s not clear if the ‘deer’ was meant in an ironic way or simply an instance of ‘funny English’), it provided a nice backdrop over lunch on an otherwise bittersweet occasion.

And, to the girlfriend leaving, this is not farewell, but until we meet again, my deer (I mean, dear).

Day 39: Proekt 365 (More than just afternoon tea)

Day 39: Proekt 365 More than just afternoon tea

Day 39: Proekt 365
More than just afternoon tea

Today is not a standard Caturday of fun—I’m once again sat behind my lovely desk pounding away at the keyboard in a desperate attempt to meet my Monday deadlines. As I hit that afternoon lull that always greets me between 14.00–16.00, I contemplated a re-dosing of coffee before deciding to have a spot of afternoon green tea. I’m glad I did.

Not only do I love this particular teapot— a total impulse buy found on sale at Indiska several years ago—but, every pot of tea reminds me of some lovely friends in Amsterdam and various Caturdays spent doing all manner of things silly and fun. To keep my tea warm, my friends Brad and Christopher helped me acquire not just this particular tea warmer, but also a twin of its which suffered an unfortunate and mysterious accident after I became thoroughly attached to and dependent upon it. (Said tea warmer still functions, but looks a little less lovely.)

That first teapot warmer was found on our first outing to an antique market in Haarlem several years ago, which necessitated an insanely early morning alarm for someone who had imbibed a little too much the night before. (Nope. Wasn’t me. I swear.) These two darling friends took great care of me that day, and indulged my immediate infatuation with the idea of a teapot warmer by helping me score this beauty. Every time I use it, I am reminded of Christopher’s race to find the very best antiques. He searches carefully, keeping tabs on the behaviour and movements of his competitors and, then, swoops in at just the right moment to find that special something. It’s a lovely sight. Brad had told me that the closer we’d get to the market, the quicker Christopher’s pace would become. A more apt description I’ve never heard!

It’s an incredibly fun way to spend a day, even if it does start early. And, reminds me of just how much The Cuban and I need to get to Amsterdam to visit all those friends we haven’t seen in far, far too long!

But, today is also made special because of the particular tea in the teapot. Those same friends  also turned me on to one of my favourite teas these days — Bigelow Mango Green Tea hits the spot on a chilly, grey winter afternoon. It’s so perfect, I might just go for two pots today.

I may be trapped at my desk today. But, at least I’m surrounded by reminders of more relaxing days spent in fine company. (And, as soon as possible, we will get there for a visit, guys!)