Wednesday, 22 December 2010

While vacuuming under my bed...

... I found a dearly missed wristwarmer with several dust bunnies attached, seven packs of tissues, quite an amount of used tissues and a skein of yarn.

One thing is positive, the dust generator doesn't live under the bed. Gotta check the corners because I'm positive I can't be producing that much dust. Crumbs and sheddings, yes, but not dust.

Why, yes, I did some cleaning. It somehow happened that the floor was covered in yarn and shopping bags with things (and dust). Instead of cleaning reasonably, for example mopping the floor, I spent two days arranging yarn to future projects, ripping a failed sweater, skeining skeins and winding balls, washing that damn fluff that was chewed and drooled on by a friend's baby and such.

Christmas knitting is so much better than Christmas cleaning.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


I met her back in Florence and, well, she rocks. She looks good, she's smart, she knows Italian. Exact opposite of me.

The other day, she sent me a calendar with pics of Switzerland. I wanted a diary - did I hint that my Italian sucks? And that we use it as a lingua franca? - but I got this wall calendar. I browsed it and discovered that they have at least two sheep breeds in Switzerland. I didn't go to check my stash whether I actually have some Swiss yarn but I don't think so. This should be fixed someday later, after I make a bigger dent in my current stash.

Anyway, I made a scarf for Laura. I didn't have enough of that turquoise yarn so I made it into a design feature and added a less prominent colour that matched well. While casting off, I ran out of that yarn as well so I created another design feature and added some very contrasting yarn.

Laura can happily drool because I'm not mailing anything until January 3, when the Postal Doom of Giftmas should be over. I also have an urgent itch to knit something else for her. She's petite and such people are a heaven sent gift from heaven when it comes to knitting clothes for them...

....wanders off pondering

Monday, 20 December 2010

Yarn! Stuff to make yarn!

Last week, I had some mail.
A fellow Raveller, after my rant along the lines of Look, I can spin, sent me a heap of roving in various materials to try. I was somewhat busy working (yeah, I do work sometimes) so I only petted the fibres, put them aside in the shelf and dabbled in my editor work.

And, Joanna mailed me some stuff she got on my behalf on fleabay and such places. As if my stash hasn't already been threating to ingest me. But, it's all pretty yarns.

(To those who know me better than cursorily: nope, candy pink is not my colour at all and nope, I don't have any specific plan for that yarn. Same for steel grey. But I have a crapton of yarn to knit while thinking.)

Saturday, 11 December 2010


I make things. (Obviously.)

Sometimes I myself wonder whether I'm so cheap, so crazy or so freaking creative, trying to find a reason why I bother. I suspect the real reasons are two: it is indeed cheaper to make things and... it's fun.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me present you my soap. Last week, I boiled some lye in bad oil to see how it works, threw the stinky thing away content that chemistry is the same as ever, took good oil and more lye and cooked it until yellow. Since I'm not much of an expert in technology, I just left the matter sit in the pot and it hardened. I should have added the fragrances and stuff before it would harden and pour it in a mold but I did not so I needed to use the other technology - soak, chop, knead, let dry.

Pot of soap, knife, board, perfumes, namely Eau du Calvados, Mahora with an addition of some myrtle cologne, Boucheron's Jaïpur in extrait and limited edition bottle, Santa Maria Novella's Cuoio di Spagna

After having finely chopped the crude soap, I added some hazelnut oil and divided the 'dough' in approximately equal bits.

I made little depressions in each of the soap balls and poured in a not-really-carefully measured amount of fragrance, now they look almost edible. Then I kneaded until even.

The soap bars with fingerprints of yours truly are now sitting on my fugly blue plastic carving board and drying - there will be some pictures later on. It is a gift for my mother and if she doesn't like it, she's getting itchy woolen socks for the rest of her life.


After a course of antibiotics, I noticed a slight improvement but I dare say that I don't feel exactly well. I get deadly tired after 15 minutes of walking instead of five and I get less fever spells.

I have an appointment with allergist/immunologist on Thursday and for the proper testing, I need to be weaned off the antihistamines. No allergy meds - snotty nose and swollen eyes and various itches and such. Yesterday I was at a friend's place and she has four cats. I have only one cat allergy but it got pretty bad. Now I'm in my house which is devoid of cats so I'm just plainly swollen and sneezy. I fished out the corticoid sprays and stuff and I'm trying to survive somehow. It sucks. And, bad allergy means an upcoming headache. It probably has some better reason than buildup of excessive snot that starts leaking into my brain but it feels exactly like that.

I have a new psychiatrist. So far, he seems to be rather cool so I hold hopes. We discussed my current mental and physical state (I feel like shit and I have a bit of fever, can't be entirely psychosomatic) and I got more antidepressants because but for the fever, it can be indeed depression and it's worth trying. So far, no results but I feel at least a bit optimistic.

Nothing much can help my face, though. Maybe I could try an ice pack. Snorgling a kitty, otherwise a universal cure for just about anything would certainly fail this time.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Hangover day

... which says most.

A friend, whom I haven't seen for quite a time, had some business in this town and it ended earlier than expected so instead of a quick coffee downtown, she came to my place and there was some reasonable amount of revelry. Watching videos on Failblog, gossiping, the usual stuff that's more fun when not done alone. And moderate drinking.
I blame the young wine. I don't drink it since that incident with reserve Beaujolais, and, after all, it's a known fact that it gives headaches.

Friend stayed overnight, I saw her off, I dealt with the gas pipes maintenance guy, got the kettle boiling - the idea of coffee made me even sicker - to start the rehydration process and then I decided that I'm useless and sleepy.

I slept half of the day. It's one of the glories of working from home. The downside is that I need to do my daily allotment of stuff anyway.

I'm catching up with my writing and the remaining bottle of that headache-inducing stuff goes to some deserving enemy. Or undeserving friend.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Random observations

Today I ventured out after four days. I'm doing things from home, which is wonderful because I don't need to go anywhere. Just with trash, from time to time, because it might stink. Which I did. I checked from inside that the weather looked very unpleasant... and indeed it was. Along with a lack of visual appeal, it was windy and rather cold.

I lost appetite. Next time when I'll go out, I'll buy some chocolate to see what that does. Midnight chocolate in bed is one of my most persevering vices. I don't miss it but maybe the brain decided that there's no point in craving for chocolate when there's none at home.

Spinning rocks.

I was rather grumpy all day long. Not that this would be any news. For some reason - either I was being narcissistic or I was looking for something - I was reading through my old blog posts and I found out that a year or so ago, I was the same grumpy pessimist planning a better future. Better future hasn't appeared yet.... upon which I thought to myself: And why should I expect that my life should be happy? In fact, how could I dare? Or, from another viewpoint, why should I bother to expect something above the very lousy baseline? Maybe life sucks as per definition.

More grump to follow, stay tuned.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Lousy day, but colourful

I took various bland yarns and redyed them because, well, I have no use for pale ochre, pale baby blue, pale apricot and such.
The huge mainly blue thing is my pencil roving. I would love to spin a reasonable skein for an upcoming sweater because I need something in this colour and I have none such in my stash but I spin too slowly.
I dyed pieces of the same roving in different colours, one greyish handful and one bright green, and today I spun this:
13,5 metres, Navajo-plied because a colour gradation appeared and I wanted to preserve it. It took me two hours. Spinning for other use than having pretty little skeins doesn't work for me yet, apparently.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

How I didn't get another cat

I went to my GP for some damn paper. One of the glories of being ill with something unidentifiable is that one does lots of walking.
On my way back, I was crossing a road and I saw two policemen standing above what looked like a dead cat. They were on my way and I was all oh, poor kitty, so I went to have a look. Dead cat was still breathing and one of the police idjits was standing on its tail so that it wouldn't run away. I knelt down because, well, a scared and hurt kitty can always do with a bit of calm talk and stroking. The police had already called a veterinary ambulance, which arrived shortly, and meantime, they asked me what would I have done if I found said cat. "Sir, I'd stop this passing taxi and go to the closest vet," I answered and police idjits gave me a disbelieving and puzzled look. The vet arrived, asked whether I'm the owner, Nope, I said, asked the police who is the owner, Dunno, said they, and the vet remarked that if the cat isn't microchipped, he might need to put him down because nobody would pay for all that hassle.

There goes my food budget for a month, I decided, and I said that I'm taking over the responsibility, the bills and be it needed, the cat. I drove to the clinic with the vet, kitty needed to be sedated anyway so I was hanging around the waiting room. Meantime, I alarmed a friend who alarmed the internetz, and pondered how this might turn out. The cat was a castrated tom, blue, although too thin to be a British Shorthair, and not that furry as well, but anyway, it should be someone's cat and whoever that someone may be, they might miss their kitty, but if he's not chipped, someone else who is at hand needs to deal with matters. Also, the cat didn't look really badly injured, there was something obviously wrong with his front paw and he was bleeding from his mouth, but no bits and pieces were missing nor visibly damaged beyond repair, so I was going through my list of friends, relatives and random strangers who could be persuaded to care for a cat.
The owners appeared, though. The police idjits were loitering around the area and stopped for a smoke just in front of their house when the cat owners were coming home from somewhere. Cat owners asked what's up, police mentioned the cat, they went Oh shit, that's our cat, and were promptly dispatched to said clinic. I learned that the cat was indeed British Shorthair, who had been lost for a few weeks and had returned stick thin only a few days ago.

I happily accepted a drive home from them and left them my phone number to keep me informed, all the vet told us that the kitty's tongue was partly torn off, stitched back and hopefully, it would heal.

Alas, later in the afternoon, the lady called me that the kitty didn't make it.

I was devastated. Which felt odd, I fostered cats and had a few die and those were cats I had around for quite a time, whom I fed medicines and whose diarrhoea I cleaned, and their deaths touched me less than the of a cat I've stroked a few times when he was lounging on the garden fence and, well, when lying hurt in the curb. I spent the evening in solitary drinking.

I wonder, is it too insensitive to point the people at my friend who has four sweet British Shorthair kittens?


(1) Internship rocks.
I went to the library yesterday and it felt good. I did my hair, put on a bit of jewellery and felt all proud. Well, for a while. When I arrived to the office where I supposed I'd be working the next six weeks, I was exhausted so I had hard time understanding and sorting out what Z., the sort-of-a-boss is telling me.
But, mainly, entering the stuff to the database can be done from home. No need to do my hair or to exert any physical effort. What a relief.
(2) Doc called. Mycoplasma confirmed, chlamydias confirmed. He consulted an antibiotics specialists because these two bastards are regularly treated with tetracyclins, whom I met last in around 1997 and I remember it very clearly because I spent five days with my head in the toilet bowl. Well, mostly my head, I had a diarrhoea as well. Or it can be macrolids that give me itchy hives. Antibiotics expert recommended something from the quinolone group and I did the studip thing to consult Wikipedia and learned that the side effects may include my tendons melting. The advantage is that I'll only need to take that stuff for ten days while both tetracyclins and macrolids need to be used for four to six weeks. Uh, that ciprofloxacin or what I'm getting must be a tough shit.
Yeah, and I still might be having toxo but the nurse forgot to write it down on the lab sheet so I'll have to go and get some blood drawn some other day.
(3) I dyed a heap of pencil roving and some random yarns, too. Looks good.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Today has been one of those days. I woke up and wished I could spend some time in that half asleep state forever. Or at least until matters improve.
When I got up and regained my equilibrium, I wanted to be preferably dead although I would probably be okay if I could dig a burrow and stay there until matters improve.
Yesterday I got a decent dose of You're fat, ugly and lazy yesterday so I hoped that today, parents might shut up at least for a while. Obviously they didn't. Also, twice in two days I got a lecture on how I should dress more professional than I dress, which gets an extra dose of absurdity when I'm cleaning, wearing worn and not exactly clean stuff and when parents could have noticed ten years ago that the farthest I go in this garb is the trash bin.
I've never gone as far as cutting myself but I do something similar mentally. I've brought the art of self-abashing to professional levels. Sure I could get better clothes and something more professional than baggy jeans and baggy sweatshirts but I don't deserve anything better than slightly dirty, somewhat crumpled, misfitting and anything but flattering stuff. After all, I'm fat, ugly and lazy. And can't afford it anyway.

I need a shrink. That fever, fatigue and sore eyes might be toxo or mycoplasma. But the other sort of fatigue, being tired with life itself, that's depression indeed.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Dispatch from the waiting room

After pondering a bit, I decided that although my fatigue might be aggravated depression, it is very unlikely that it would also cause swollen eyes or fever. So, at last, I went to my doc friend, who got a bucket of blood drawn to test for any random bug that may cause not very specific symptoms.

The tests got back and I was sorta positive for a few bugs. Today, I finally read through part of the mail backlog and found an invitation to experiment on humans - a bunch of researchers at the university is testing students for toxoplasmosis and doing various psychologic tests to find out how toxo correlates with cognitive function. And, I possibly have toxo. If it gets confirmed, I'm going to be put on antiprotozoans (or whatever the anti-toxo meds are) because my doc decided just to bomb the bugs and see what happens because tests or not, I'm miserable enough. I mailed the researcher back with this, maybe I'll enter the literature as a nice case study of cognitive whatever while being treated.

Meantime, I feel crappy.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

New hobby

I learned to spin, folks.
It was a lengthy process. Years ago, three or four it might be, I got a spindle and some fibre, tried it, it was no big deal, so I traded some of that fibre and kept the nice batts from Beau North Star Alpacas which Alpaca Granny graciously gave me.... and nothing happened for a few years.
Last weekend, I was rummaging around for some reason and found that bag of spindle and fibre. It wasn't actually lost, I knew perfectly well about it.. but this time it attracted my attention and I just gave it a try.

And I made yarn.

Apparently, things have their time. On Friday, I dropped at friend's town, we went for a walk and in the old town, when a car was passing us in a narrow street, we stopped by an art supply shop. I peeked in the window just because it was there and there were a few handfuls of coloured fibre with a tag saying something like Fibre for felting. I went in and found out that they had coloured fibre but also bags of natural grey, chocolate and cream. I got a bag of each.

And made more yarn.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Red emergency!

The most noble goal of finishing some of my knitting is being fulfilled. Sort of. The other day, I finished and mailed off a pink leftover scarf for Sadako. When taking it from storage, I did notice a small hole, fixed it as best as I could and thought something about those mysterious bugs that get a gnaw or two of fibre without leaving excrements and that was it.

Three days ago, I decided that the time was very ripe for the mostly blue sweater. I got the yarn in around April, after a heat wave when it started to be cold, because I wanted something warm and cuddly. First problem was that I made the body way too narrow, some fifteen centimetres narrower than my chest. I decided that I'll rather lose ten kilos to make it neatly fitted, not disgustingly overstretched, which says more about my historical optimism than an actual statement of historical optimism. Second and major problem... well, I used the afterthought heel approach to the neck hole, I picked out the closing thread, got the live stitches on the needle and seriously cussed about a dropped stitch five rows after the cast-on. Upon closer inspection, I discovered that it wasn't a dropped stitch but that someone took a gnaw of my yarn... again. I cussed wildly, put the sweater on my mannequin and went to do something else.

Yesterday, I was spinning and found several gnawed-out holes in the centre of my alpaca batt. Bug is not relying solely on sheeps' wool, apparently. I grabbed the spray insecticide and used it liberally on whatever woolen I could find and then I continued to freak out. I might have a thousand skeins of yarn, in various odd places, for goddness' sake, and fabrics, good part of it is silk, and the collection of kimonos, generously soaked in moth balls, but who knows whether the crap it works. The only way how to get rid of bugs, apart from some highly poisonous and possibly illegal methods is to freeze the yarn, thaw it and to repeat the process a few times week after week because moth eggs are not killed by frost. In theory, I could wait a few months and spread my precious yarns in the garden but there are flaws. A few months. Also, my mother would kill me if she knew that i own much more yarn than she thinks. (x)
Tomorrow I need to plunder the drugstore for as potent pesticides as I can get. And cedarwood oil, which only repels them but it smells nice.

(1) I must've mentioned it somewhere. She thinks hobbies are a mental illness. Possibly with the exception of weeding, mowing the lawn and cussing weeds and lawn and whining about the lack of will on the part of other family members to mow or weed.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Chronicles of failure

No, it's not my complete authorised autobiography. Just a piece of knitting.

I started a sweater in February. Big bulky sweater. It was winter, after all. I happily knitted and knitted and then I ran out of yarn. I saw it coming so I decided to save yarn by adding a bit of waist shaping, thus narrowing the garment at a certain point. Still I was worried that there might not be yarn enough so I located someone's skein of said yarn being offered for sale at a reasonable price. Meantime there was summer, other stuff to do than knit winter garments and a few days ago, I decided that I'd better get something done. I pulled the sweater out of the plastic bag where it was resting and because I wasn't absolutely sure about where the work stalled, I tried the half-sweater on. It felt oddly big, there was a big chunk missing in the front but I still could wrap it around like a cardigan. Then I started turning around in the mirror to find that the waist shaping is nice but in the area of my buttocks.

see the flare at the dress form's hips? That should have been the waist. Not pretty

I wanted to set up the whole thing on the dress form to see how it looks like with the newly added contrasting insert and although it's not finished yet, I was quite happy.

The sweater is friggin' big but most of it is already blocked so it shouldn't stretch anymore but for the front insert in green and yellow-green (that's why the front is crooked, blocked and unblocked bits of fabrics have met). It's only pinned together so that the edges of the fabric wouldn't roll apart. Also, it's heavily pinned on and around the mannequin. Further measuring showed that I made it way too wide. Maybe 15cm.

See? To make the sweater look halfway decent from the front, I had to fold the fabric over quite a bit. Admittedly, the mannequin is much smaller than me and I do it often but normally I only tuck the fabric in a bit, it's not folded twice.

Dear readers, the question you ask now, I believe, is: what the hell I was measuring. And what the hell I was thinking. Now, the answer is that I have no clue.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Shopping spree: random new stuff.

Today's primary mission was to check perfumeries and drugstores to get a few handfuls of blotters. Checking autumn releases would be an inevitable side effect, though. So, my impressions, with no particular order (as the blotters come up):

Prairie's Life Threads, Ruby, Emerald and Sapphire: expensively and exquisitely boring.

L'Occitane's lavender cologne: Now that's interesting lavender, unlike another lavenders. And they have the essential oil. It's A. O. C. (1) and they had a little flyer with the picture and name of that lavender farmer but I forgot to take one.

Bleu de Chanel: erm, well.

Etro's Messe de Minuit: I can't still decide on this one. But I wanted to try Guerlain's Habit Rouge, which I did, and I had a blotter at hand while testing this one. And then I found out that Habit Rouge is exactly the piece of puzzle I miss in Messe. Should you please me, give me both at once.

Lalique's Encre Noire pour Elle: Encre Noire pour no-one was a hit and apparently someone decided that since it was already marketed to guys, it can't be claimed unisex so they made a ladies' version, which was specified as such. It's a waste of good alcohol, black glass and just about everything. Instead of a variation on that swampy vetiver (a friend of mine said once that wearing Encre Noire, he feels like a posh corpse. Yes, he's somewhat gothy type), it's an indefinable fruity watery something. I do bet that it sells well, that those ladies who are terribly scared that they may be perceived as weird for wearing men's scents, will be buying it and persuading themselves that it's almost like the good ole Encre Noire sans.

Guerlain's Habit Rouge: I love that one. But, the thing is that I was hanging around the store, sniffing the blotter, and an assistant asked if she may help me, I said Well, not really, I'm just checking what's new, she showed me something and I mentioned that I have this Habit Rouge here, isn't it prety, and she jumped up and said Ooooooops, madam! But it's for men!, to which I soothingly replied that indeed, and I'm well aware of it but that I like it quite a bit anyway. I got a look that said Warning, weird customer.

Gaultier's Le Mâle Terrible: fine with me. I've loved Le Mâle ever since it was launched and I'm still wearing it but it has a very strong chemical undertone which I do not mind at all but I don't always feel like wearing it. The terrible version is in fact much lighter, soapier, cleaner and without this chemical whatever-it-is so it would be an excellent complement. Now they need to make a version with extra cade and frankincense.

Lanvin's Marry me: Yawn.

Floris' White Rose: Here with it.

Masaki Matsushita's Fluo: I haven't smelled that much synthetic fruit since... since I had very non-organic hard candies that were free of natural colourants and flavourings. Not that bad as it may sound, in fact I wouldn't mind if I got this one for free, some days, I feel like I was 12. The bottle is horrid, though.

Masaki Matsushita's M;O°C: what the fuck this is for a name? Also, it smells of tap water and mint. Not that bad as the bottle might be hinting.

Masaki Matsushita's Aqua: Now that one is a pretty lemony scent. In a horrid bottle.

And at last, Estée Lauder's Sensuous Noir: for me, much better than the rather simple but nice Sensuous. The noir version (which lives in a blue bottle) is woodier and incensier (2). It would make a good trio with Habit Rouge and Messe de Minuit. Again, horrid bottle.

At the end, I discovered a discount corner and everything by Annayake was 70% off. It means that their cosmetics got to the rather expensive range, (the usual prices being damn fucking above the roof) and I got their Matsuri, of which I'll write some other day. No nail varnish today, after all, I have five bottles of turqouise nail paint already.

(1) Appellation d'origine controlé (pardon my French). In other words, it's known where exactly it comes from, unlike Made in EU, just somewhere there, and it may well mean that somewhere in the EU, someone mixed lavender oils from who knows where.

(2) See? I made a word.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Wool pig

The other day, namely Thursday, I dropped to my LYS (1). I needed some gadgets, striping yarn cheaper and possibly less wild than Noro and the owner is a friend so a chitchat is never out of question. I brought her some chocolate too.

She helped me to pick the yarn and I also asked whether she had cleaned up the leftovers closet because I love rummaging. She said Yes and lead me to the back room and showed me that I can pick anything from this - five or six huge crates full of random yarns, sorted vaguely by colour. I tried to be politely restrained but after a bit of urging, I grabbed everything that gave me an idea. Admittedly, sometimes the idea was only Ooh, shiny, but there's lots of ooh, shiny that would work well for baby stuff for my friend's girl and I quite like baby stuff because it goes fast and I can try new things. And, well, what sort of a knitter I would be if a ball of cashmere didn't make me to think what to make of it, coming up with at least five ideas.

Well, this.

Kindly overlook the dirty rug and random mess in my stash corner. One day I'll throw the rug away, promise. Also, note that now, the yarn is stored in a huge paper bag and soon it'll be processed to things. (2)

(1) Local Yarn Store
(2) definition of soon may vary.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Random observations

I have cold. That nasty cold that blocked my nose for the night and I couldn't really sleep. Weren't it for my mom who called at 1008 to ask how I am, I'd be probably dozing off until now.

I made it to the 1030 doc appointment, though. I can act fast when it's needed and if it's not for too long.

Doc said that her qualification ends at 20mg of citalopram and that if I need more, I need to see a psychiatrist. I shrugged, thinking something unhappy, while she started naming local shrinks. Since I'm having depressions and related fun since I was around 16, and since this is a small town, good part of them were on the blacklist, such as Dr. Whatever, who didn't have any better idea than telling my mother, without my approval or knowledge, although I was legally sane and of age. Or Dr. So-and-so who is just a generalized jerk. Dr. Whatshisname who gave me antipsychotics for sick stomach, I wonder whether this dearie goes fishing with dynamite.
The problem is that I'm smart. I might be a blonde with painted nails but that doesn't mean I'm a brainless Barbie, puh-leeze. To illustrate what happens: it was a psychologist but the story is too cute. She showed me the Rorschach test images and asked me to tell her what do they remind me of. Vertebra, another vertebra, lumbar vertebra, alien vertebra, vertebra with some soft tissues attached... erm, are you okay, doc? Doc muttered something about morbid thoughts and how bad it is. If she had asked Why vertebrae?, I'd answer Yanno, I'm learning to draw. Anatomical drawings. After anatomy atlas, volume I, bones.
And nope, I have no clue what's so morbid about vertebrae. Also, I have no clue why the psychoworkers don't even suspect that the clients might be thinking creatures.
I spread the word, I still hold hope that there are thinking shrinks somewhere out there in the world.

To add insult to injury, herpes started to grow on my lip.

A bit of shameless bragging: I made a good geometric sketch for a sweater knit entirely on bias. Now I need to try whether it works in real.

Life sucks, why?

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Fashion tip of the day

If you use long pins to hold your hair, it is extremely recommendable to pull further clothing items over your head very carefully. The resulting mess of hair, sweater and hair accessories is rather difficult to disentangle, especially if your arms are already in the sweater.

And I did use knitting needles, yes, why. I couldn't find anything handier without rummaging in the drawer. But I'm led to wonder where I could find pretty hairpins - maybe I could use the KnitPro Symfonie double point needles in coloured laminated wood?

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Just... just...

I acted totally studip today and also totally studip sociophobic chickenshit way. Not that the latter surprised me but in the circumstances, it almost made me cry.

I decided to do something productive and decided that taking the trash to the bins would be the thing. So I packed up that box of used nappies K. left here, bag of kitchen trash, another bag of plastic and a handful of milk cartons and while trying to get through the door without dropping any of these, I grabbed the keys, slammed the door at attempt three, went out and noticed that although I have keys, it's not the set with blue keyring with a red diode light, two big keys and a small one for the mailbox but just two big keys that however did vaguely look like the right ones. I turned around and went to try but vaguely looking right doesn't mean looking right.

I went to throw away the trash hoping for a miracle or something.

I live on the ground floor. After having the place burglarized and after my flatmate lost the cat through the window (story omitted but it makes my blood boil years after), I just don't keep the windows open when I'm not around, which may mean not in the room, depending on the momentary paranoia level. No, I don't have a yard where I could keep the spare keys in a birdhouse. No, I don't have a car parked around the corner with spare keys taped to the inside of the bumper. Since I went with the trash, I didn't take such useful things as my celly or some money. J. has the keys and should be somewhere around but I have no clue where, he was due to arrive yesterday evening but I haven't heard from him.

I sat on the stairs and pondered about the possibilities. The obvious one, ring the doorbel to any random neighbour and explain the situation via the intercom, asking them to let me in and to let me use their phone to call a locksmith was just impossible. Like, making-me-sick-to-think-of-it impossible. I decided to wait for something to happen because nothing can be worse than talking through the intercom to someone whom I barely know and who has hardly any idea who I am.

A while later a lady I rememered vaguely having seen before was arriving, she said Hello, are you waiting for someone? and then I said Yeah, well, I locked myself out... etc.

I called a locksmith, got the door opened, paid him what was to be my food budget for two weeks and decided that trash is not that bad house company after all.

Also, I am stupid.

Edited to add this cool graph that explains just about anything:
. I needed a bitter grin with my late morning coffee.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Movie archaeology

While living on Ravelry, which means living among Americans mostly, I became a part of the beehive mentality of the bunch I socialize with. I started referencing to Star Trek which I might not have seen at all, for example. I felt it as a major flaw in my education, not the Star Trek per se but the general popcultural (with a shift to nerdy) framework of which I was aware but without deeper knowledge. In other words, my friends talked about things I didn't udnerstand and sometimes I felt bad about that.

The other day, Sadako probably got slightly annoyed with my method of obtaining movies and music, which consisted of asking her to do it for me and taught me the basics, namely where to find stuff and where to find subtitles if they don't come with stuff. Since she lives on various cinéphile forums, I use her as a reference in case I need to find out what the movie where Antonio Banderas plays a lover to some Persian prince or that one about the Danish guys who have Mifune's ghost in the basement.
To which there's a story. When I was around ten, the revolution came, no more censorship, lots of enthusiasm and some chaos. At around the same time, my parents got a new TV set that was stationed in their bedroom. Since I didn't want to watch news or whatever they were watching then, I hid in the bedroom and watched movies. Apparently, the program department poured in whatever hadn't been allowed because there was nudity, blood, anything possibly politically offensive, stuff from the ebil Capitalist countries... and I watched whatever I found interesting. That movie about some American anti-Commie headquarters, and how things got out of control, Americans nuked Moscow by mistake and to make things even, they also nuked their very own New York. Another hint, it was black and white. It conveyed the atmosphere very well and quel surprise, those whom our propaganda depicted as the worst scum evah were actual people with actual fears. I might be 11 or 12 so I wouldn't think of it as educational. Or Fellini's Dolce Vita, which I didn't really get until much later but it was pretty. Scores of classical westerns, they had been teh ebil American things so we wouldn't get much of them. For whatever reason, I remember McKenna's Gold. Someone in the programming department must have had a weak spot for Japanese movies, too, some were lovable - colourful, quirky and with buckets of blood to add to the colours. And obviously action movies of very various quality, I think I've seen dozens. Trash of all genres. Existential it-is-not-really-porn-it-is-art stuff. Something that could well be Russ Meyer but I'd have to check.

Around two years later, things settled and the programming department either got fired or burned down but all this stopped. I needed to wait five or six years until I became aware of cultural mags where I could read about that stuff. But, it was pre-internet era (2) so that was all I could do, along with a bit of hope that one day, it will be screened at the university cinema ran by the half-crazy people from Film Studies department.

Another dose of eclectic came when I started studying. I lived at the dorms, my roommates were irritating, to put it mildly, and the National Film Archive cinema was two blocks away. If I got a sandwich and a ticket, it was cheaper than an actual dinner and I could spend two hours in the theatre covered in burgundy plush and gilded stucco watching some more Hungarian psychological dramas or whatever it might have been. At that time, I started to take notes. Not really extensive but digging in my old diaries might at least help identifying that Mexican movie whose plot I didn't get at all but visually, it was a two hour orgasm.

Somewhere on the way, I developed a deep love for (a) sarcastic movies of any sort (b) visually strong stuff (c) films where every killed person has at least 15 litres of blood. (3)

Huh. Now when I've learned to download stuff, I can search for something from which I remember one scene that struck me. (4)

(1) I'm old
(2) I've already mentioned that I'm old, haven't I.
(3) Think me cruel but after a day spent by creating another piece of academic obfuscation, nothing is as relaxing as a sarcastic and aesthetically pleasing bloodshed.
(4) I'd love to be bored someday. I keep failing.

Radio silence

I'm writing my doctoral thesis, it goes slowly and it generally sucks. I'll be back later, stay tuned.

Monday, 16 August 2010

I sense a problem

Sadako finally taught me how to download movies from teh internetz. I could think of a handful from the top of my head and then there're catalogs from film festivals where I'll be able to find out whatever I missed, would want to see again... I'm doomed.

In other news, another sign of apocalypse has been spotted. Coffee makes me nauseous. I drink impossible amounts of tea, then, and I hope it goes away somehow.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

I stand corrected

I'm no expert in mycology, until recently I had known only around 8 species by name. Those nicely coloured boletes were not two specimens of Boletus satanas but one Boletus calopus, inedible because awfully bitter (but oh so pretty. I know where they grow, I'll get a picture when the rains stop) a well slug-gnawed Boletus erythropus.
Which I found out by showing them to a botanist friend. I was also told that B. erythropus is hardly ever infected with insect larvae but that it's popular among slugs and forest mice. Also, it turns nicely blue when bruised or cut. Mental note: I should read something about the chemistry in mushrooms. I wonder whether the blue colour could be fixed somehow.

It's raining and I'm not going anywhere out until it's sunny. No more mushrooms for a few days, promise.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Too much time on my hands

That's yesterday's batch. Without the non-edible ones I plan to use for dyeing. I'm going to get some more now.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Hunter and gatherer. More of a gatherer

In the 1850's, Austrian parliament passed a law granting the right of passage, so what's not fenced is accessible. And it's also permitted to pick mushrooms, berries, herbs and other stuff, and dry sticks.
Not that gathering dry sticks would be a prevailing industry but mushrooming is a national sport and at around this time, various yummy things are rather easy to find.
To start with, I'm regularly going to the meadow behind the hotel to pick St. John's wort and tansy for dyeing, I've brought a bagful of lichens, for dyeing too, and some Matricaria... and well, mushrooms. It's warm and humid and they grow like mad.
L. had told me some time ago that she'd love to try this national sport so I invited her over. I know six edible species, umpteen poisonous ones and since it's a national sport, first graders are taught the most important thing: pick only what you know for sure. (1) L. has very overblown ideas about my knowledge, I'm able to name half of the plants in the curb but that's all. And, there're thousands of species of mushrooms growing in this general area (some are in the form of goo under rotting wood, admittedly) so if I know 20 at most... well. L. had a happy.
Mushrooms shouldn't be carried in plastic bags, they might start metabolizing themselves into something not-really-healthy (2); normal people use baskets. Since I'm not a regular mushroomer, I use a paper bag from Bravissimo lined with newspapers. Style, I don't have any.

(1) and also that although paris (Paris quadrifolia) berries look like blueberries, the whole plant is totally different and the berries are poisonous. There's lots of them growing in the nearby forest, gotta pick one for my herbary. Also, paris and blueberries are totally not similar; I wonder how many people would really think they're picking a blueberry... and whether it's not criminal stupidity.
(2) at which point I always wish I knew more chemistry
(3) old newspapers are one of the most important materials for an aspiring nature lover and gatherer of stuff. Used to press flowers, to dry stuff on... at the worst, you can even read them.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Scents of the Mediterranean

I was invited to another joint blog project. Oddly enough, just now, I'm pretty far from the Mediterranean and it even smells different here so it might get a bit fuzzy.

When Ines reached me via Helg, the first thought was Eh, I wanted to make a perfume reflecting the stuff I smelled on my way to the library. Starting with two sorts of jasmine that grew in my street, and wisteria, cypresses, elder (might be the only elder shrub in Tuscany, though, growing in the curb there), cedars and dry grass.

I'm not absolutely positive that this is Jasminum sambac but this grows two blocks to the south from my Florentine abode. I'd often pluck a branch and wear it in my hair. It greatly complemented Une Fleur de Chanel and Shiseido's Vocalise.

Apart from my love for jasmine, growing on every other fence, there were magnolias, one under my windows (like, deep under, I lived on the fifth floor) and they mixed in an odd yet pleasing way with the smell of ozone and machine or whatever the railway smells of. Which brings me to the thought that I have yet to discover what are these 'technical' smells made off. I'm a sucker for gasoline, asphalt, wood paint and this sort of stuff and apparently, blending them with flowers might yield most interesting results.

At first, I thought that I could mention two myrrh fragrances I have, both of which happen to be Italian; to me, myrrh has an aspect of sea breeze. But I lived in Florence and, more importantly, I don't like sea. It's big and fish pee in it, I like to say, which sounds like a stupid joke but it points out the two things that put me off: it's too big to see what's in there and it may be pretty messy.
Nor are there orange blossoms, roses or what else. I have an orange tree in my office back north and where I was, oranges were a thing brought from Sicily. Roses... well, as far as I noticed, the local gardens and yards featured wisterias, jasmine, magnolias, mimosas, cammelias... roses not so much. After all, I lived in a city, not in some picturesque country villa. And outside the city, it was something for which I have an exact botanic term: ugly uninteresting undergrowth. Speaking of ugly uninteresting undergrowth, it's not that ugly nor uninteresting in the light of my latest studies

Whatever point of view I take, my Florence, and thus my Italy is mostly the strange green smell of hot asphalt and jasmine. And the famous Florentine iris? Must've skipped me. I think Santa Maria Novella and I Profumi di Firenze both have an iris fragrance but I'm not that mad after iris, I got Cuoio di Spagna from the former and Cuoio di Russia from the latter. Not to remind me of the famous and Florentine leather manufacture, I just like leather fragrances, the harsher, the better. Oddly enough, real leather smells somewhat different anyway.

Aaaaand, wherever I go, it's very likely that I'll be accompanied by some hand-dyed yarn, which obviously smells of sheep and vinegar. A bit of my private universe, I guess...

This joint blog project was organized by Ines of All I am, a redhead. Check out the other participating blogs:
Scent Hive, A rose beyond the Thames, Illuminated Perfume Journal, Perfume in Progress, Katie Puckrik Smells, Ayala Smelly Blog, Notes from the Ledge, Olfactarama, Suzanne's Perfume Journal, The Non Blonde, Waft by Carol, Hortus Conclusus, Bonkers about perfume and
I Smell Therefore I am.

Thursday, 29 July 2010


Apparently, I got used to not blogging.

Lo, behold and beware, then. I'm not-exactly-holidaying in the mountains. It's a combo of hiding from people in order to write my thesis and asthma treatment. I've settled in my hotel suite in this Podunk (tomorrow's quest is to go to the nearest ATM. 3km through the woods or 8 km on the road) and so far, I've procured a decent writing table and gathered an armful of St. John's wort for dyeing wool which is not exactly the sort of productivity I expected. Well, yeah, I've made around a bajillion of decants I've sent from the local post office (and ran out of cash to mail the rest, thus the trip tomorrow) but no really serious work was done.

Also, my usb ports ignore data storage media so there will be no pictures until sometime later. Only words.

To start with, we're buying the next door house. I prefer to call it chalet, it's one, after all. We being me and my father, whom the hotel belongs (1). Because, for some reason, the ski lift belongs to the hotel. The ski slope, on which it stands, belongs to the chalet and its five or six hectares of land. Apart from the actual slope, there are some woods and meadows uphill.
Have you noticed that I'm not overly enthused about academic career?
Have you noticed that I've got some inexplicable affinity to sheep? Well, not yet, I still need to write about my trip to England but say Yes to yourself and ignore the doubts.

So, obviously, I've been wandering around, planning the landscaping (my own garden, yay, and there's a spring and a swamp for swamp irises!) and the general style (village chic or some such. No 'folk' crap bought wholesale, homegrown mint for mojitos and teas and such), the bar (homemade crisps? not sure whether it's doable but certainly homemade cakes from whatever the garden yields) and... sheepies.

You're officially permitted to call me silly. Or even worse. No, I know nothing about sheep but that they are stupid and produce fibre. Recently, I've learned that they are loud and that they can run really fast. Yes, sheep in full gallop are something memorable. Meantime, I've found out that they are even stupider but docile (thus manageable, one hopes) and that they tend to get all parasites imaginable. But, squeeeee, my own fibre (2). And if it fails, the sheep can be made into kebabs and served to the hotel guests as a special attraction for the New Year's party or something. (3)

Now I need to cool down and wait until my enthusiasm is gone. But, hey, I could grow my own garden without my mother and her Prussian gardening style! Damn.

(1) My family is not filthy rich, just mildly stainedly rich, that's it.
(2) I produced two hanks of handspun. Bulky and underspun, to be exact. One was in ghastly colours and I traded it for something I found more reasonable but the recipient glowed with glee, the other I still have. And, well, metre and half of superwash merino and Meezer blend. Still a way to go.
(3) Mental note: try on something less expensive than, say, California Variegated Mutant.

Monday, 19 July 2010


Yesterday we made a day trip to Oxford. Which was full of the !@#$% tourists and larger than tolerable amounts of Italian brats. After fighting the crowds for a while, we decided to seek refuge in the Ashmolean museum for a while.
Some five hours later, the custodians chased us out because they were closing. Then we sat in front of the museum building, mom was having her nicotine fix, and we decided that we need to go back because we hadn't seen the reliquary of Thomas Beckett, we never found that room with textiles again and the majolica collection would deserve a closer inspection.
I don't totally mind spending a day, two or ten in a museum, it seems to me that the average specimen of fellow citizen is usually much less enthused by endless cases of things of rather obscure nature while I'm running around and shouting See! Deruta! (that comes with lustre glazes) or That's Urbino there! (1) while that fellow citizen who accompanies me thinks something about maybe not actually benign fools. Ashmolean is an archeological museum plus somewhat eclectic collection so apparently, it entertained even my mother (albeit sometimes on the Oh, shiny level).

The detailed account of the journey including various interesting accidents, of my cold, of the conference and such will be given later. No worries, I can't deprive the world of the story how we... Just you wait.

(1) I'm no expert on majolica, I've only spent a few uneventful afternoons, two, to be exact, in the municipal museum in Arezzo where they have humongous collection of them and I sometimes get it right.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

In other news

It appears that I have a slightly significantly disgusting microbial garden in my throat, Eustachian tubes and surrounding spaces.
It's my day 2 on antibiotics and they work, or at least the infected bits now don't hurt like hell, just in sort of discreet and tolerable way. No allergic reaction either.
I have no appetite and even if I had, I can swallow only liquids.
I'm exhausted so don't expect any cool blogging in the next few days.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

World champion in bizarre

I got a cold. Then I got a sunstroke. Now I have a sore throat, headache, I feel dizzy and generally wrong.
A. saved my life with aspirin and coffee beans in chocolate for the moment but walking around Vienna was no fun after a night in air-conditioned train with the AC not working.
I should get cards made, which say Personal Shopper. I brought a sheep-sized chunk of yarn to Viennese Ravellers and went to buy some cosmetics for fellow beauty freaks of North. Not to mention those 8 bottles of Chanel that contribute to my suitcase being heavy like hell.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Shopping spree

I set off too late to get the yarn Anna and Kristin wanted, yarn store has a lunch break so I only went to Chanel's to get a bottle of Sycomore for someone. I ranted about my collection - the staff/customer ratio was around six to one - and stated my wishes for No. 46 reissue, and the guy at the till was all Oh I need to find some information about this one, I've never heard about it, you're a collector, ooh, aah, cool. I forgot to throw the blog url at him, though.
Another fellow perfumista wanted me to ask how much the Armani Privé stuff, those bottles with stones, cost, and whether they have miniatures, and that they'll have it cheaper online but I should still go and ask. Well, I hate the souk mentality and I'm busy enough to solve someone's mental problems but I went to have a look because it's a nice shop and I had a chance to, well, try stuff.
Eau de Lutens: if I got it as a gift, I wouldn't mind but I don't need another bland neroli cologne, I already got Soleil du Capri.
Piguet's Baghari: goes to the wish list. Powdery leather, for times when paint-blistering leather wouldn't be the best option.
Fille en Aiguiles: see Eau de Lutens.
Chanel's Cuir de Russie: I have a bottle of extrait but I could indeed stand the big one.
Tom Ford's Japon Noir: Reminds me of one thing by Annick Goutal whose name I forgot, plus a touch of wood and roses and incense. I would love to have this one.
Fleurs du Orangier: see Fille en Aiguiles
Fleurs du Citronnier: see Fleurs du Orangier
Piguet's Bandit: not bad but I'm not sure I like that much galbanum.

I got a heavily discounted Feminité du Bois body milk, now I need only the 100ml eau de parfum and Eau Timide to have the complete line of everything. I got a sample of the Lutens' version so I see a comparative review in near future.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


Warning, the following post might contain peanuts runes.
Also, you might find it extremely boring, in that case, skip it and wait a few days until a rant on something else. I plan one on underwear.

I'm working of it. Sort of. I decided that if the whole thing is going to suck, I should at least have stunning appendices.
Shortly after I started bringing this idea, which, as an idea, is rather okay, I realized the depths of my blunder.
One of the documents I'm working with is the testament of King Magnus and Queen Blanche of Sweden, given the 1st of May of 1346 in Lodöse.

Modern Swedish somewhat reminds a casual observer of modern German. In fact, the who knows one language can read the other and get the point. It was at the times of Hanseatic League that carried nearly all the trade around the Baltic Sea (and elsewhere), when the Swedes improved their vocabulary by adopting many German words (Low German, in fact, but don't ask me pretty please on the historical development of German, thankyouverymuch). Specific vocabulary related to trade but lots of others. Anything with the prefix för- is of German origin, for example. My knowledge of German is very superficial, acquired mainly while changing trains at the now torn down South Station in Vienna and those eight years of German at schools I refuse to count because my brain refused to have anything to do with the cunning forms of torture German language teachers are so fond of. But still, knowing at least some German helps indeed.
And, in 1346, German-derived words were not in fashion yet.

Obviously, it's written in language over 650 years old and considerably changed. I had a course on historical development of Swedish which I sometimes attended and didn't sleep through it and I've read about things which shows to be an advantage. So 'iorþrike' can be easily understood as jordiska riket, earthly kingdom (after all, it's a testament of a king), but what the freaking hell is 'harþlicæ plictugher'? Swedish dropped declination and conjugation so the latter would be most likely related to today's plikt, duty, but still. I'd rather be playing with jigsaw puzzles or knitting Estonian lace.

Or I could have remained stupid.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Asphalt and jasmine night

Yesterday I went to the grocery to get some mosquitocide and more vegetables and mozarella - I'm getting one of the cheaper ones and it's heavenly. There are things I love about Italy.
I passed around a freshly repaired piece of sidewalk and to my surprise, the asphalt smelled not like burnt rubber, as I would most likely expect but rather green.
I came back with six kilos of vegetables, installed the insecticide in the socket and while messing around, I took up the dried twig of jasmine and smelled it. Asphalt.

There's lots of jasmine around, it seems that it's easy to grow and in the evenings, the wind brings the smell. Not asphalt, though.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Escale aux Marquises (or, not really)

Let me start elsewhere.

I know that it's a stylistic approach I use so often that it may qualify either as being boring or as abuse. But this story indeed starts elsewhere.

I went to buy some stuff. Namely a tunic of fine white linen. This is a clothing item that probably exists only in my wild dreams because all that would have the right shape was made of slippery polyester satin, weird indefinable stuff that scratched from ten metres afar... and if it was the right material, it wasn't a white tunic but a shirt embroidered in faux mother of pearl. At the end, I wandered to a department store, got something in turquoise polyester (1) (I almost got a matching bra. Almost because I'm fat but that's yet another story).
The department store has a perfume and cosmetics department so I leered around in case there was something I had missed and I spotted Cristal Boreal on display.

The jewel that contains a lip gloss of marginal colour. Last year's limited edition. I wanted to get it but I forgot and on fleabay it sells for around $200. The shop assistant noticed me loitering, asked Can I help you, I said yes, I want this... and there it was. For 71 euros. Apparently, the shop assistant was glad to have sold old crap because I got a generous handful of freebies. Miniature coral red lipstick, for example, and I have an urge to actually wear it (my usual colours being gold and silver....) and some samples, including the Escale aux Marquises.

I actually tried that even in the store and I'm somewhat underimpressed. I'm not much of a citrus person and this one smells so strongly of lemon peel that it makes my eyes water. There's some petitgrain, a hint of myrrh and after a few hours, the adstringent quality wanes and the fragrance gets rather resinous. I didn't find tiaré in the composition, I'm easily overwhelmed by citruses (2).

I like the Cruise Collection as an idea. Alas, Escale à Portofino gets stinky on me and Escale à Pondichéry is nice but with no staying power - on the contrary from the citrus couple. If the Diors make a myrrh cologne next year, I'll be standing in the line. Now, should anyone want my sample, write a blurb in the comments, and excuse me for now, I have to adore my lip balm in a shiny box.

(1) I should have gotten a tube of sunscreen, SPF 50, tan and turquoise do not mix well unless I would want to look as a beach volley instructor. Which isn't a way to go, trust me.
(2) Thinking of it, there are two prominently citrusy fragrances that I like: Nina Ricci's Bigarade, velvety bitter composition with so much petitgrain that in theory I shouldn't survive it and Montale's cold and distant Soleil du Capri. Cologne has to be myrrh and more myrrh to me. Green tea would be fine, too but I haven't met a fragrance that would have a decent staying power on me.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Route Mandarine

My concentration spam is larger than that of a kitten but not by much. Which means that the rather fabulous samples I got months ago at Fragranze fair are not all reviewed.
Route Mandarine is a soft oriental, somewhat similar to the discontinued Opium d'Été. I mean, it is similar in concept and well, there's cinnamon, muguet and vanilla. Ylang-ylang in the top notes is very prominent and combined with cinnamon and muguet, it gets a mellifluous quality. Mellifluous is not a random nice word, after only a few minutes the fragrance turns to honey soli-... something. (1) Or honey with a dash of that Tesco smothie that made me sick the other day, it was mango and something (2) and there's a touch of a fruity zing in the scent. The citruses do not demonstrate as citrusy in a lemon cologne, there is a bit of bitter petitgrain that reminds me, as petitgrain does, of uncleaned litterbox from five metres afar. Orange is that touch of unripe strawberries - I should get some education, maybe these contain the same thing.
And... the fragrance works best in hot weather. Just now I'm sitting in my Florence place, sweating profusely, and the fragrance that had appeared not really bad but not entirely excellent got much better in heat, getting somewhat close to Asja.

Erm... I've been struggling with this review for more than a month. I've ran out of the generous sample so just a brief summary: this is a lovely oriental and it goes to my wishlist. Enough said.

(1) Soliflor means single flower. Similarly, and excuse my dog Latin, soliradix would be a single root, a vetiver thing, for example, and soliherba would be anything made of the parts above ground of a plant, a green cologne. The more knowledgeable among us can play this to infinity and beyond but thinking of it, I wouldn't venture into the territory of anal glands.
(2) The reason for my sick was not Tesco but the idiotic idea of drinking fruit juice in the morning when every cell of my body calls for triple dose of caffeine and stomach lining is still deeply asleep.

Top notes: Egyptian geranium, Florida orange, bergamot, Italian mandarin, clove, Ivory Coast citron, cinnamon and ylang ylang.
Heart notes: Patchouli, Bulgarian rose, muguet, Egyptian jasmine, orange blossom, Indian sandalwood and Haitian vetiver.
Base notes: White musk, vanilla, amber, Spanish labdanum, Indian ince.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Under the cupola

I took Vindobona (1) to Villach.
For some reason, it wasn't Orient Express or some such that would invoke the proper train travel romantic and call of the distance for me, it was Vindobona. It didn't go through my back of the woods so I only started using it while going from Prague to Bratislava twice a week (2). Vindobona was a Roman camp where today the centre of Vienna is located, in the province of Pannonia, after which a train to Budapest and further is named. clearly remember that I used to take Pannonia train at a certain point of my life and I think it went from Berlin or Hamburg to Bucurest via Prague, Bratislava and Budapest but I checked only to see that things are different.

There's even a list of named trains! Not exhaustive in any way so when I set up an account on wikipedia and find a time to play with timetables.... well, anyway, hail to Wikipedia, source of all (albeit not always right) knowledge.

I hate when things get different and woe be upon those who decided to tear down the Südbahnhof station in Vienna. Woe upon me, too, for years I decided that one day, when I will be without tons of baggage, I'll take some pics of the station hall, with those Escher-esque moving ramps. I will sadly miss Ein Augenblick Zeit, the two big blinking eyes that made a weird sound from time to time, the linked article says that the exhibit was moved to Karlsruhe... where the fucking hell is Karlsruhe and why should I bother to go to some goddamn modern art gallery when I hate them as a concept?
I never managed to take my pics and now, from the passing train I saw a huge triangle of... nothing. I had heard some things about the railway mix-up and that Südbahnhof was torn down but I thought it a misinterpretation, exaggeration or some such. Nope. I think I should start photographing railway stations stat! because I see that many of them across the whole Europe are getting uglified - they call it modernized in the newspeak, leading to, among others, hard job of finding the trains there. And the rails are so neatly welded that you don't hear the proper rhythm of a train going:

At Villach I changed for a sleeper. I remember reading about wagon-lits in a detective story when I was maybe six and that was cool thing, romantic and practicalat once. This time, I had a bed proper, for the second time in my life (3), because for some strange railway reasons, it was cheaper than couchette. Alas, I had only 6 hours and 12 minutes to enjoy, of which I was mostly sleeping (badly).

Well, in the morning I landed in Florence, found out that the bus stations are reorganized again (have I already stated my general attitude to rebuilding things?) and since then, I'm sweating and wondering how to survive and work.

No, I never had a model railway.
And, some Victorian porn for entertainment value:

(1) EC 172/173 going from Villach Hauptbahnhof to Hamburg Altona and back.
(2) I would love to have a simple, plain and somewhat boring life. Sure, it would mean that my brain would have imploded long time ago but sometimes not being is a welcoming option, like just now when I feel that I may boil alive.
(3) The previous time... well, that would be entirely different story. Next time, maybe.

Out in the wild

I spent five days at the field trip of Department of Botany.
It was immense fun, the natural science people are more user-friendly, there was no intellectual snobbery or arrogance from the teachers. Lots of crazy, though, but in a nice way.

I'm quite low maintenance (1) so I grabbed the laptop, some reading matter, reasonable amount of clean underwear... and that was it, moreless. Yeah, and chocolate, lots, because the school canteen is what it is. I thought there would be wifi, after all, it's the university, but nope - thus the radio silence and a general lack of online coverage.

It rained. A lot.
My decision that one set of clothes is just about fine because it's a camp, not a hotel, and at the end, everything will be wet and dirty, was perfect. I was dirty and wet but so was everyone.
Also, for messing around in the forest, an umbrella is the best option. You can make notes without your notebook getting wet and it can be used to fend off dinosaurs and evil tree branches. It doesn't look like the true-to-the-bone outdoor gear but botanizing is not a fashion show (some ladies apparently thought it but the hypothesis that wolves might prefer to dine on people sans makeup was not verified due to general lack of wolves).
I wore birks. (2) And jeans, tank top and a merino/qiviut blend sweater. Not a real city chic but in general, I was heavily overdressed. Also, I lacked umpteen insulation layers compared to the rest of the crowd but it was moderately warm, very humid... and, well, in one day, I had Reputation. Blue paint on the toenails helped quite a bit, I suspect. In continued rains, I walked barefoot around the camp and also out in the wild as long as the terrain permitted. I wasn't asked whether I drink anti-freeze but apparently people guessed so.

There's one important thing: I was in average ten years older than the... kids. I knew some Latin, I had wrinkles and half of a Ph. D. and apparently it made me even crazier because at a certain age, one should be done with that booooring school. Also, my cabin mate, aged whopping 20, was totally flabbergasted that I don't have kids (3) and don't intend to have any. WHat surprised me is that she planned to get some asap, and that she believed in homeopathy, for which karma got her on the spot, she turned down the offers of ibuprofene for her menstrual pains because she doesn't eat chemicals and she has some extremely diluted dinosaur shit homeopathic remedies for that.
People-watching is a good hobby.

I brought lots of stuff to inspect and I wanted to keep the moss specimens nicely at one place, without changing them into a handful of indefinable debris. Since I was somehow underprepared in the field of packaging material, I MacGuyvered a box out of a chocolate wrapper (4) which gained me a bit of awe... what the kids do nowadays at school when they are bored, I wonder?
The mosses are now firmly planted in my garden because... because they are pretty and I have a yard to stick plants in.

(1) before you start chiming in about my collection of anti-wrinkle creams and nail paints, rest assured that I can live without. Perfumes are a collection in the narrow sense of the word, they are for artistic appreciation much more than for keeping me trimmed. And now go on reading to get the real point
(2) minuscule b since I'm not referring to the brand name but to a certain sort of orthopedic footwear, which in my case were Schoeller thongs.
(3) and the whole package including husband, ex-husband, mortgage, debts... but that's what my old crone brain adds.
(4) Lindt with pears and almonds,although the pears are made from apples and stuff. I love it and it was on sale and I care a damn about folks claiming that Lindt and Sprüngli is bad chocolate.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Le parfum du Maharajah de Kapurthala

part II
(part I to be found here)

There's a technical issue with vintage perfumes. For some reason, at the first sniff, they tend to smell weirdly and pungently citrusy - I don't really believe that all of them contain a bucketful of neroli, petitgrain and whoknowswhat aldehydes. It needs quite a considerable time to decipher a really old fragrance, at least that's what my experience says.

I kept wearing Le Parfum du Maharajah de Kapurthala for three days in a row. I expected an oriental. Cinnamon, sandalwood, something like that. The odd citrusy top notes didn't fit into this preconceived idea, possibly introduced by earlier testing of Route Mandarine so I was somewhat disappointed. Not for long, upon closer scrutiny, that neroli, along with carnation and possibly rose developed into a lush green accord and I started to purr because it was a a thing of pure beauty. It only takes a while and the fragrance shifts elsewhere, to spicy floral accord (pepper, ylang-ylang, jasmine, some such). At this point, the whole thing could remain a lovely green floral but it is a true chameleon, changing to... wonderful soft leather.
I'm still learning to understand leather fragrances and I probably started from the tougher end, I really like leather scents which are so pungent that they make paint flake off. The realm of the less aggressive ones is yet to be explored but after a short flirt with Guerlain's Derby (okay, I would be glad if someone gave me a bottle but when I run out of my sample, I won't regret) or the famous Knize Ten (just fine but where's the leather? It's chewing gum and a hint of spices...), I was left rather surprised by the tendency towards blah. Until now.

Le parfum du Maharajah de Kapurthala is one of the great abstractions - a few ingredients can be guessed. And every time I try, I find something different, just now I opened the bottle and it was all cinnamon, vanilla and pepper. Great olfactory toy, I would say.

This perfume is long discontinued and hard to find so I'm afraid you have to trust me on the description. I at least threw in more pictures.

Monday, 24 May 2010

What a shitty day

(1) At the dentist's: no filling yet in lieu of that I ate last week, the dentists were to a ceramics workshop and got some new technology to do it in ceramics. Will cost a small fortune but it shouldn't get gnawed off again.
(2) At the vet: kitty has bad pancreas. It's either metabolic mess that could be solved with diet, or, more likely, tumor.
(3) In the family: in fact, when I called for the results of the blood panel, I conflated 'elevated glucose levels' and 'will need strict diet', interspersed with the vet's apologies for not being at the office and thus not being able to give me exact results as diabetes, of which I whined to my parents. There would be some interesting psychologic explanation, I guess.
My father said: Oh, what now, is there diabetic cat food?
My mother said: Don't you want to get a kitten instead?
(4) Out in the wild: been caught in the rain and drenched to the bone twice today.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


I detest flying.
In the good olden days when one was allowed on board with as much water and booze as they could carry, when the personnel and crew was nice and one got cushions and blankets without asking, it was tolerable and sometimes even exciting. Now it's the century of Fruit Bat, we've had terrorists that made travelling miserable for us dehydrated people, volcanic ash which made the tickets disgustingly expensive...

Alrighty, a silly story, you deserve it.
So, there was 9/11. We were scheduled to go, or to be exact, to fly to Cyprus two weeks later. We included yours truly, my mother who is able to get lost at a Podunk bus station, her sister, my scaredy-shit aunt, who had never really travelled, her two teenage sons and all my grandparents that were alive at that time, three pieces altogether, including an alcoholic and chain-smoker grandma and slightly senile and considerably idiotic know-it-all grandpa.
Cynical as I am, I ordered diabetic fare for grandpa because he prefers cakes - yes, there were days when they actually served meals included in the price of the ticket. I took a huge first aid kit that included a bottle of alcohol and required my mother that she take one onboard - it was before someone decided that cheap vodka could be used to poison the captain or wtf.
Things went as crazily as they could. I knew the hotel so upon seeing the keys, I assigned to me and to my mother the room most distant from the others. Later on I learned that the downstairs room with garden view was meant for alcoholic grandma who claimed that she wouldn't be able to climb the stairs. Gah. At Day 2, mom crept to me asking for the sunburn ointment for grandpa who knew what's best for him, the best of his day was refusing sunscreen. Alcoholic grandma was sulking for no apparent reason. Aunt got hives so I pulled out allergy meds and hives ointment. Normal grandma got sunburnt - more panthenol and hardcore sunscreen for her. Teenagers were annoying. During the first five days, I used up all betadine, band-aids, mosquito repellents, ibuprofen, anti-diarrhoea stuff and sunscreen I had. My father was to arrive for a few days only so he was ordered to plunder the pharmacy, booze wasn't exactly required due to easily obtainable local wine and I was grinning smugly and whenever someone whined about someone else, I smiled and said I had been telling it all the time.
The real Rio was the journey back. I left my shoes in the room and checked out. Then I realized I was barefoot, explained at the reception, got the keys and went back. Meantime the room was serviced and the maintenance denied existence of my shoes so I was going back in beach thongs.
Grandpa fell asleep at the airport bathroom and the flight was delayed because of our group.
My father is the alpha male which sometimes interferes with my traditional rank of navigator and the who deals with natives - he snatched the ticket stubs and I was somehow required to place the chaotic mob of my relatives not knowing where while being yelled at by several angry flight attendants (they probably immediately recognized who is the real boss here, that's what I call good training). I reclaimed the stubs and found out an elderly couple blocking our seats. Upon polite request, they refused to move so I channeled the attendants' anger to them.
We were seated, grandma got pissed at grandpa that she wanted the window seat and they started arguing. Alcoholic grandma installed the sickness bag on her lap and started explaining, including vivid gestures, how sick she is going to be for sure and that she will die soon. Cousins started fighting for something. Aunt had stupid questions and mom made faces at her. Father yelled at his mother, the alcoholic grandma, to drop it. Grandpa wanted to have a smoke and I needed to tell aunt, who was at hand, to get the cigarettes away from him, plain explanation that this is a non-smoking flight elicited a reaction along the lines of Nobody will tell me what I can do.
It took just around ten minutes for the attendants to get the point and they kept me inundated with champagne while smiling understandingly. I ended up in Vienna in an improbable state of mind, smiling widely and wearing beach thongs in snow, which didn't matter to me at all.
That's how I realized that being drunk doesn't make flying any nice but it makes me not to care.

Long bus routes are like flying. Sans onboard meal and much longer. That's why I try to avoid buses as much as possible.

Trains, on the other hand....
I've always loved trains. There is a theory that it's the genetics, my great-grandfather was a railroad engineer (and a sailor before that) but most likely it's just because.

I'm going to a conference in Leeds. The previous time I checked the airline tickets were around 300 euros, meantime there was that volcano with sexy name (1) doing its job and today the price soared to around 700. And I hate flying. I hear that it's never gonna get any better, prices rising, service worsening, security idiots being idiots... so I simply decided not to fly. It's not that convenient anyway. One day, I'll extend this no flying policy for trips overseas. After all, if the gods had wanted us to fly, they'd give out the tickets for free. (2)

I'm in the midst of planning the train trip via Cologne, Brussels and the tunnel. Exciting.

(1) Sure I know how to write Eyjafjallajökull. I like silly jokes, that's it.
(2) The who gets the Terry Pratchett reference right will get a large sample of Sira des Indes, of which I intend to rant soon.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Cry into the darkness

Two ancient Guerlains appeared on eBay last week.

This beauty sold for $1274.

This one went for over $1400.

Guerlains, it could be you earning that money if you relaunched things from your archives. I would be willing to pay some 400-500 euros for Djedi, don't need the posh bottle. I'd love to sniff tens of your creations of the past and I believe I would get some because, admittedly, I care a damn about your violets (the Meteorites powder I got the other day reeks of violet bon bons, damn)

I know that I'm not going to be heard but I just needed to vent. Aaaaargh.

Guerlains, for your information, I'm getting my vintage perfumes elsewhere. Serves you right.

Monday, 3 May 2010


There's a movie called Amerika, based on one of Kafka's short stories.

The theme song is no big deal, I'd say, but the dark stylization oscillating between art deco and greasy industrial atmosphere is utterly cool. Upon seeing that there's a perfume named Amérique, I fell immediately for the name. It took me some time to actually find it, it's been discontinued for long.
First, I got a miniature of EdT which seemed all carnations to me. Carnations have a warm peppery aspect. Also, the sweaty facet of coriander is present and certain bitternes.
Then I got a bottle of extrait and that hit me straight and plain: Fruity chypre. Sometimes one doesn't need complicated metaphors and florid verbiage.

I had imagined Amérique as a cross between Dzongkha and Black Cashmere and I got fruity chypre. For around five seconds, the cognitive dissonance irked me and then I went off to look for something inspirating for this blog post and stumbled upon... and now the weak of heart and those with taste, sit comfortably and have some alcohol at hand.
Okay, here it is, the original advert for Amérique. Ladies, gentlemen, kittens and other creatures, see the Sunday Morning Hangover after Saturday Night Fever.

Did I say that Amérique is very neat fruity chypre? I did? Well, a reminder. Now, instead of brain bleach, a plain pic taken by yours truly on a sunny morning, if you enlarge it in your photoshop, you'll see the blue sky and my elbow reflecting on the stopper.

Amérique was discontinued long ago but it sometimes appears on auction sites or in various corners of the internetz.

Notes for Amérique: rose, jasmine, geranium, mimosa, hyacinth, neroli, chamomile, vetiver, clary sage, coriander, pepper, iris, rosewood, sandalwood.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Maharajah de Kapurthala

part I.

I'm not an avid collector of shoes.
Not that I wouldn't want to be but I fall even of the lowest of heels and there is rather limited variety of funky shoes on flat soles or platforms. I have a pair of dress Birks, had thongs with rhinestones... and the rest is plain vanilla whatever comes in size 42. Which does not necessarily mean that I wouldn't appreciate looking at shoes. The other day, many months ago, I wandered to the Ferragamo museum to, well, look at shoes. It was nice to see all those creations, I was never aware how much of it was custom-made, all that crochet and lace. But then there was this one:

Jewelled sandals made for Maharani of Cooch Behar. While I searched for the picture, I learned that she was a real fashion icon of her time. The tag in the museum cupboard also said that a handful of replicas are reserved for customers of the Ferragamo store in Tokyo, upon which I bitterly regretted that I'm not filthy rich.

I spent the afternoon searching the internets. I discovered that Kapurthala is a real place (sorry.... my geography is no big deal) and that, among other interesting tidbits of information, it's where the Shalimar gardens are located (1).
And then there's Parfum du Maharajah de Kapurthala by Lenthéric. Perfume Intelligence says: "Named after the Maharajah; possibly commissioned by him." Or, wide choice, low prices (2). At least Perfume Intelligence says that the perfume was launched in 1925 and should it have been comissioned by the Maharajah, or named after him, then it was Jagatjit Singh:

While researching for something useful for this post (4), I found lots of articles about how the Indian royalty had nothing constructive to do, being under the British rule so they toured Europe spending money by handfuls and were glamorous. See the sandals above, after all.

It's not an exciting piece of information but I'll check some books for part II. Meantime, you can disentangle the recurrent and less recurrent notes. (9) The actual perfume review will be up as soon as Plague is over and I can trust my smell again.

Images snatched from The Tribune (the jewel-covered sandal;

(1)Think Guerlain's Shalimar. Clicking the linky in the wikipedia article about Kapurthala, I was redirected to an article about Shalimar Gardens in Lahore. Low prices, wide choice (3). See also (5)
(2) that's sarcasm
(3) that's also sarcasm.
(4) whose usefulness is at your judgment, as well as my research result
(5) The Shalimar Gardens of Lahore, I read at Wikipedia, source of all knowledge (6), were built by Shah Jahan of Taj Mahal fame and I've hereby judged that it's these gardens that gave name to the perfume. (8)
(6) albeit sometimes very wrong, but all
(8) It is also possible that Shalimar Garden means Municipal Green in some language I do not know so it's up to the readers to educate me.
(9) I wasn't drunk while writing this. Neither insane. Just playful. (10)
(10) tee hee, see how much can be written just about nothing.