For my Swissification Saga, read these posts:
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but I made them 30 years ago and although they are still in excellent condition and the colours/pattern not even outdated, I wanted something different.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!