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.