Swissified At Last

For my Swissification Saga, read these posts:

Swissification Strep Two
Swissification Step Three
Swissification: Suite but not quite Fin
A Milestone Birthday

Here they are, at last! My passport and ID card certifying that I really am a Swiss citizen. After waiting patiently for two years for the powers that be to approve my application for naturalisation, the actual production and delivery of these documents went very fast. A short session for the digital photo and fingerprinting last Friday, and the postman brought me the pass on Tuesday and the ID card on Wednesday! 

It’s a strange thing to be given a new nationality, almost like a re-birth. After being a foreigner here for almost fifty years, I now have to discover my inner Swiss identity. And as it all coincides with my 80th birthday, it’s also like being given a new lease of life! These documents expire when I’m 90 – shall I still be around then to renew them? Watch this space! As far as I am aware, there’s no special ceremony for the conferring of this honour, no official swearing of allegiance or vowing to defend the Heimat with my life, just a letter from the Cantonal Government reminding me of the importance of using my vote for the good of the country.

That doesn’t prevent me from celebrating privately, of course, and I have done so not only by enjoying a glass of a delicious Swiss wine from St Saphorin (I also have an unopened bottle of wine from my village, but am waiting for the right person to share that one with) but also by getting new curtains for my living room. 

This was a spur of the moment decision – my best friend asked me to pop into IKEA as I was passing, and buy her some drinking glasses. Of course, nobody can pop into IKEA and just buy drinking glasses. The managers have designed a diabolical parcours or labyrinth that ensures you simply cannot go straight to your target but have to wander around bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms being constantly waylaid and ambushed by objects you didn’t realise you actually needed but now find are essential and/or irresistible. 

I have curtains in my basement that fit my French windows, but I made them 30 years ago and although they are still in excellent condition and the colours/pattern not even outdated, I wanted something different. I had perfectly good plain white linen-effect curtains at the other window, which also came from IKEA about 15 years ago. Of course, that particular fabric is no longer available, but hey, look! A double pack for the price of one, with nice white herringbone weave. Go for it, girl, live dangerously and replace the lot! So I did. Eight new curtains. I hear the echo of my mother’s voice in my head: “That will see me out!” she used to say in her last decade or two whenever she bought anything new.

Result: I now have matching curtains at both windows, and am very pleased with the way they look. They were half a metre too long so I spent about half an hour pondering whether to puddle or break. Is puddling even still fashionable? I looked online, and apparently anything goes nowadays except swags and curtains at half-mast. I’ve always liked the puddled look, but know from experience that (a) puddled hems collect dust and (b) if they are going to be drawn they need constant re-arranging like bridal gowns in photographs. Break was really my only option, about a centimetre above the floor. This has left me with eight pieces of fabric hemmed on three sides, each measuring 145 x 65 cm … there must be something I can do with that!

Another little dilemma was that the relatively expensive hooks I had bought at IKEA didn’t fit the groove in my curtain railway. Luckily I still have the hooks from my previous drapes. On my first attempt at hanging them, the tops of the curtains drooped. What had I done wrong? I could have ordered some extremely expensive pleating hooks, but I was sure there must be a solution. Throughout my life, I must have dressed hundreds of windows, but it’s been a while and I had forgotten how to thread the hooks to make a pleat. Suddenly it all came back. I took them all down and inserted the hooks again. This time they behaved themselves. I wondered what else I might have forgotten, or if there’s any kind of new window treatment I could adopt so I googled “hanging curtains” and found a video entitled “How to train your curtains”. It seems other people have naughty disobedient curtains that have to be trained to hang in straight columns by being tied together for a fortnight or so. I remember German housewives pinning their net curtains into pleats back in the nineteen-sixties; do they still do that? Mine don’t need that punishment.

One thing I learnt at an early age from my mother is that hanging material tends to stretch lengthways and curtains will drop, so I always pin hems and leave them for a while before sewing them. In the past, I often forgot about them, and more than one visitor has enquired why my curtain hems were pinned and not sewn. One guest – an aunt who was a tailor’s wife – actually spent a few hours of her holiday with us hemming the curtains in our chalet! Bless her! My new curtain hems are pinned, and I trust that I’ll remember to sew them before they need washing. 

Finally, I am very relieved that in spite of climbing up and down on a stool at least four times per curtain (4×8 =32) I was able to keep my balance and not fall off. A good afternoon’s work!

30 thoughts on “Swissified At Last

  1. Catherine, you’ve done a fine job. Hanging curtains is tricky and frustrating but they look good. As for washing them, a no no from me! I vacuum mine, some have been up for 20 years. Life is too short to stuff a mushroom as someone once said! Enjoy your new look xx

    • I don’t think I have ever lived in the same house for 20 years so curtains have had to come down now and then! And then were washed, sometimes re-used (shortened, lengthened, passed on) or just folded neatly to wait for a new life. Which is why I have so many in my basement … I need to borrow a self-threading sewing machine next …

  2. Congratulations on your new nationality!

    I like the new curtains and I agree about cutting them rather than puddling.

    In other news, the Mole poem poetry exercise was very well received yesterday, thank you.

  3. Congratulations on your old but newly approved nationality. What a great accomplishment and a nice round year to carry it through in.

    My, but aren’t you a curtain maven! Congratulations on bringing yourself to replace them all at once. I suspect this felt slightly frivolous as you first considered it. I know I chastise myself for replacing things that don’t absolutely “need” to be replaced. But what the heck. For your 80th year, you deserve some fun in your surroundings.

    I’ve never been a fan of the puddled look. I didn’t even know that it was called such. It always looked too messy and contrived and a great way for my assortment of pets (which at the moment I’m empty of) to bed down in or to play in, or any other manner of oddities. Also, as I looked at all that fabric on your floor and considered your age, my practical mind warned, horrible tripping hazard! I’m glad you’re going to hem them and that after all that excitement you kept yourself upright.

  4. Good for you! I grew up in Denmark but have spent 40 years of my adult life in California and Seattle. Now I’m back in Denmark retiring here. The best decision to reconnect with my roots, despite the fact I have three adult children and six grandchildren in the U.S.

  5. You are a citizen of three countries? I didn’t even know we could do that. I’d love to hear more about your journey and if you have lived there 50 or your 80 years, why not sooner? Do you have homes and family in all three countries? I find that exciting, but mysterious, beyond my limited life experience. Are there previous posts relating to these questions? I hope I am not being too nosy. I am just fascinated.

  6. Well, congratulations. But I am a bit jealous of your organizational skills. You got citizenship, which I have not yet started. You put up and kinda sorta hemmed new curtains, while I’m wondering whether I actually need them on every single window. Plus I’m a huge fan of those clips, so I avoid the whole hemming thing entirely. And you have actually tagged all your posts. Me? Don’t ask….

  7. My place is a lot smaller can yours as I downsized almost 20 years ago, so I have fewer windows. The pins may stay in for the next 20 years … I can be forgetful! Citizenship – it’s a long story! I’ll add links to previous posts on the subject so you can follow the saga!

    • A very warm welcome back, Jonah! So pleased to know that you are still chugging along and I hope will be doing so for a good while yet.,yes, please bring me up to date – am heading over to your new blog to see how you are dong. A big hug!!

      • If I had stories to tell before, they’ve only deepened my appreciation for the life that has been given to me. But I don’t want to clutter up your blog with my story. Is there another way to communicate with you; something more private? What’s your pleasure?

  8. Pingback: A Century of Sewing Machines | catterel

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