Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A day of destruction

During the session of indoor archaeology, I discovered various stuff.

I also don't assign the title of cleaning to a twice-weekly removal of stuff left o the floor and lazy vacuuming, that would go to the category of irregular maintenance. Cleaning is an in-depth activity when things are put to their place from wherever they veered, sorted out, cleaned, assigned to a gift pile - or to trash.

Now, the time ripened for dealing with several knitting work in progress, known as WIPs in the trade.

I'm a passionate knitter but at a point, I started, did my best but half a year later, it wouldn't be my best but badly substandard. However, I only threw out one sweater in my whole life. It was made of garden variety wool which is still produced and still as nice as evah and it was worn to unwashable greyish shade and to shreds. I even tell my gift recipients that in case they didn't like my handknits, got bored of them, outgrew them or lost too much weight, or they weren't able to deal with the tar stain, they should return them. Everything can be fixed and I prefer to reknit something to the giftee's expectations (well, to an extent) rather than having my work lie somewhere at the bottom of the closet.

I ended up with quite some WIPs or even finished things that were not to my liking. The blue sweater I started in high hopes of having it ready for the previous winter wasn't finished but it already showed that it wasn't what I would want it to be. Meantime I got annoyed knitting it so now there's a bit of fabric to rip and three huge balls of reclaimed yarn; it's gooddamn yarn, I'm telling ya, I don't knit from shit.

The sweater I've worn only once, for a walk on the day of my 30th birthdy, when I also discovered that there were several design faults that made it sort of problematic was destined to be ripped long time ago but I somehow lifted my lazy ass only today. One of the yarns used was already being lunched on by the goddamn carpet beetles but it's still salvageable - just coming in more pieces. Now there are two huge balls of reclaimed yarn and a box full of kinky rippings that need some special attention.

This was one of my early experiments, it’s in expensive and weird yarn and it’s made really badly, with major mistakes and construction faults.

There are a few more in consideration. Every each of them was turned around and inspected and I did lots of thinking before I decided that this or that piece is going to the recycling bin. Short sleeves can be lengthened, design experiment gone wrong may be partially ripped and fixed... but sometimes it happens that it's badly designed, in wrong size, the yarn choice is plainly wrong and I don't find any pleasure in the knitting process anymore. Then, the time for reconsideration comes.

I admit that I keep several sweaters (and several boxes of other clothing items) too small for me. Hope springs eternal and I really intend to lose some weight. When the time comes, and I'm sure it will come, I'll be well dressed.

Then there's the category of things that are worn out. I haven't got that deep with cleaning but I know where they are and their time will come.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Indoor archeology

I do major cleaning plus decluttering for one and only reason: when I miss something. Then I start digging up in a random place, discover a pocket universe of aggregated things among three volumes of Mikael Niemi's books or behind a tome on Italian Baroque art, I bring a washcloth to wipe the dust, and to wipe the dust, I take out the books from the whole shelf segment, finding more things between, in and behind the books... you see where it goes.

The missed objects were remote for the vacuum cleaner and scissors. Said remote was located under a small pile that contained a hank of yarn, an old magazine, folded silk scarf and a bottle of nail paint. Hank of yarn sits on a chair along with 20-odd others, pulled from the crrevices and abysses of the small bookcase, old mag was tossed, silk scarf was added to a goodie bag for a friend and the nail paint is sitting somewhere around.

The small bookcase, though... It contained a heap of perfumes. I totally need a special cupboard for my collection because they deserve a decent storage. Meantime, they're located in a sturdy box that contained the stovetop; it's big, flat and sturdy. I don't really know how many perfumes I have, it's not worth the bothering. Hundreds. I found some of whose existence I forgot and I noticed that I'm missing a few, which practically means that they live in some other parallel universe; no biggie.

I also randomly opened a book and a banknote fell to my feet. Maybe I'll be rich at the end of the day.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Sad. For realz

I generally don't comment politics and stuff. Not that I wouldn't be aware about things going on but I'm not that interested in such matters that I'd be able to comment them in at least half-assedly qualified manner.

I sometimes make an exception, though.

The revolution was on the 17th, which was Friday. Parents were busy building a house so they noticed something was going on only on Sunday evening. It took two more days until mom and her friends deposed the commie school director - I yet have to find out what they were actually doing because later on, mom was invited to the new parliament. She refused, though, because she had a kid who would need to change schools and... anyways. My only chance of being a spoiled politician's brat was thus missed. I'm a spoiled businesspeople's brat and instead of being at the funeral procession, I'm sitting at work, watching the procession online, doing nothing because work be damned now and I'm pissed that I'm not there.

Mom would however take me to all demonstrations and public meetings and the atmosphere got etched deep into me and the urgent feeling of possibilities within reach.

I saw Vaclav Havel only once in person. He came to my hometown for the students' celebrations of 1st of May. Mom and her revolutionary friends were there along with all the kids. We sat on the edge of an 18th century fountain and... that was it. History was happening around me, it's worth it for its own sake.

Now, I feel history happening again and the spirit of the revolution was brought back.

I just wanted to share my feelings. Don't look for a point here and excuse me now, I'm busy being sad.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Santal Massoïa

It's weird. Seriously weird.

I should get some santal essential oil to relate, the closest I got to a santal is Keiko Mecheri's solilignum (1) Bois de Santal, which is sweet, creamy woody thing. I expected more of the same from Jean-Claude Ellena but I got this weird stuff.

They finally got it at Hermès, the sales lady sprayed me generously and I went Oh what the fuck. No creamy sweetness but something weird. I smelled and sniffed and wondered until something connected in my little blonde brain and shouted Salted butter!!!

At which point, I got even more whatthefucked and puzzled. I went to Hermès to buy this thing and I wanted to love it to shreds but it was so weird. I chatted with the sales lady, tried on Voyage (probably goes to the no, thanks file) and Jardin sur le toit and hiris and then the thing on my wrists went all celery root fried in butter. Not bad, actually a nice smell, it's one of my fave foods, fried celery root. In a perfume, though? That crossed my mental border of perfume accords and the ideas started to veer into the dangerous areas of food scents. Something in my brain started to yell What's going to come next? We've already had caramel and butter and honey, is there going to be a Boeuf Gardénia or Pizza Labdanum in the Hermessence line sometime soon, or even worse, Chocolat Roquefort?

What saved me from running away was a blotter sprayed with Hiris. Hiris went surprisingly well with Santal Massoïa and I ended up buying two bottles although I cursed myself that I get a perfume and then another perfume only to make the first one wearable.

I went home, did laundry and some other random stuff and then brought myself to unpacking my loot from the shopping war. I sprayed myself with Santal Massoïa again and I noticed the sweet creamy thing I had imagined as proper santal and a soapy facette. Maybe even a touch of iris but the aldehydes or rose or what may be the cause of the soap could explain why it works so well with Hiris.

At the end, I did come to like the Santal Massoïa. Earlier than expected, even. After all, if the chefs can spray food with perfume (2), why there couldn't be a Quattro formaggi cologne. With some extra peperoni on a good day.

For some factual information, check Perfume Shrine here. I only do rants.

(1) the word soliflor is used for a fragrance based on one accord. It means single flower, though, and being a generally anal person and a proud grammar Nazi, I've already coined soliradix for vetiver stuff and soliherba for whatever comes from the leaves and stems. Solilignum is a natural addition to the line.
(2) it's actually essential oils. (3)
(3) and I'm skipping the whole field of food flavourings because it's another can of worms.

Monday, 12 December 2011

An interesting start of the week.

Sometimes, the rather boring office job gets a bit of zing.

Boss' briefcase was stolen from his car overnight. He’s old school, he writes his notes on paper, in pencil, and he had two months’ worth of some tables and calculations. The loss made him quite unhappy, especially because it wasn't the first time. Ironically, he uses his briefcase only as a thing to hold all his papers together, he carries money, cellphones, cigarettes, keys and the interesting stuff in his pockets.

The editors were summoned and sent to search the nearby trashbins and shrubbery because it was sort of expected that the villains check said briefcase for interesting content, find none and toss it. So, there were four of us in our office finery, peeking into yew growths and inspecting places used in lieu of public toilets (there used to be some in the park but the city tore them down deeming them useless or some such).

At the end, it was an excellent spiritual exercise. Facing a heap of bottles that used to hold cheap liquor, one has to be of a saintly nature to hold hopes for humankind without serious inner struggle, I pondered, and maybe some follower of St. Francis of Assisi could bring a trash bag to collect all that rubbish, disperse it into the proper recycling bins and preach to people about proper usage of said bins, and doing all this without a word of complain. Not me, I wouldn't resist placing the trash bags on the doorstep of the city hall with a nice note regarding the office for municipal lawn and shrubbery.
At the end, I concluded that life goes nowhere anyway and that I could use a good soak in brain bleach so that I stopped pondering.

Briefcase was not located. It was rightly remarked that brown briefcase in brown rotting leaves is hard to spot and that next time, the boss should opt for an orange model with reflex stripes.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


In winter.


The first plant that sprouted from the turfs and clusters of soil which I was able to identify is Oxalis pes-caprae or Bermuda Butterfly. Okay, there's something which is likely Crocus nudiflorus but it's only likely, the leaves only started sticking out lately.

I'm accumulating various cheese and yogurt pots to house the seeds and that's going to be another endless source of fun. The tags say things like This looks like Delphinuim, Stuff that grew on the sidewalk in Ribeira Brava or WTF. My abilities to identify plants by seeds are just around nil.

Today I got a letter saying that I got kicked out of the Natural Sciences. I knew it was coming, I failed to sign up for the semester in time. I don't really care, it was a logistic nonsense. I'm not even upset or anything, just sort of sorry. I do perceive it as a personal failure because a logistic nonsense is not a thing I couldn't manage, the hell, if I tried harder. Or some such shit.

Monday, 5 December 2011

I'm a knitter, live with it.

This darling is finished. Or, frankly, almost finished. I ran out of yarn halfway through the last row and I'm not ripping anything to shorten it by a few rows to have enough. No, I don't have more of that yarn, it was the only skein. I have something similar used way up in the sweater at home II. so it will take a while but I consider the sweater finished.

The picture was taken three skeins ago, on Sunday morning. At a certain point, I decided to bite it and I'm taking my knitting downstairs to work on it while watching telly and there was some downhill skiing and stuff. The Eurosport channel is much more fun in winter and no, I don't like football. I do tolerate tennis but my mom is working hard in disgusting it to me.

Anyway, now I need to find something in mild progress so that there would be idiotic knitting enough to go on and on and on while House M. D. is being mean, or something like that.

Or maybe I should start working on those 10 pages I should have written by tomorrow noon. That's probably a way to go.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Still no kitchen

The tiles were laid and now there's a bunch of guys putting various bits and pieces together. The current state of matters is that the ovens (three of them) are in place, the stovetop and sink are laid out in the hallway, the dishwasher sits in the living room side to side with a heap of styrofoam and there are some bits and pieces of furniture around.

I hear that we'll be cooking on Saturday.

Meantime, I suffer. Yesterday, at work, I positively smelled pork with onions. I checked and nobody had anything of this sort for lunch. I generally long after cooked food and my mind conjures up images of soups, stews, hot steaming rice, bacon and eggs, apple compote, cookies, chicken curry... name it and I'll drool.

We ordered pizza for dinner. Not bad but stewed pheasant with roasted potatoes or rice with a soy derivate of the day would be much better. It's no help that the kitchen installing crew loved our new tiles. I want food, damn.

Raglan sweater

I have a long-standing urge to knit a lace shawl or throw and I even printed the pattern and picked the right yarn for Kællingesjal, a beautiful wrap reconstructed from a 19th century original; Mette Rorbach has more details here
The pattern doesn't include a chart and I'm not able to knit well from written instructions and I'd have to make a swatch and it would be too difficult and whatever.

And at a certain point, I was going for a trip and needed something small to knit on the train and while walking. I reached for some Kureyon and Silky Merino and started a raglan sweater.

It's another of my patternless creations but I find myself unable to explain the how-to without pictures. Stay tuned.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Kitchenless living

Rice can be cooked in the office microwave. A slight problem arose when I wasn't able to locate any salt but miso worked fairly well to make it edible.

I don't eat out because (1) I'm cheap (2) I'm on gluten-free diet. The same reasons exclude various prefabricated food-like things, which are also either awful or made of who knows what. While random rice with random miso is not exactly haute cuisine, I at least know what is it made of.

Kitchen news:
Last week, they delivered our tiles. Upon unpacking, it was discovered that some of them were wall tiles, not floor tiles. Different durability, different dimensions. Dad almost bursted and made the lady in the tile shop cry. (*) Several phone calls later, we were informed that the white tiles are sold out and a new batch will be fired in the second half of 2012 so what now, we need to decide in 20 minutes if we want it delivered within a week or ten days. At the end, the main floor colour will be blue or black, depending on the architect (gotta call her yet for the new design). The tiles should be laid during the weekend and the whole thing should be finished in another week. Or two. Or possibly three.

2x6 minutes in the microwave renders the rice edible but somewhat too hard - I have some generic round grain rice. I have two more weeks to find out how to cook it nicely. Or I'll lose patience and start lunching in the little yet authentic Italian bar downtown.

(*) I don't really agree with my dad's bouts of loud shouting in general but the same shop took our order, they wanted a deposit, and informed us that our tiles will be there in three weeks. After three and half weeks, when someone started inquiring where the tiles are, they told us that oooops, they are not made anymore and there're none in stock in the Spanish central, and oops, we forgot to check beforehand, and oops, we forgot to tell you. The place needs some common sense. Or some actual management.____

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Family reunion

My uncle is an idiot. Which is not exactly hot news but he took another chance to demonstrate it again, and in a particularly spectacular manner.

He was married, got his wife preggers and then dumped her. He has never seen his son. He spread layers over layers of lies about his ex and the whole thing. His daughters from his following marriage didn't know about it weren't it for a grandpa (not the shared one) warning them not to date any Nicholas ever because it may be their brother, and some stalking much later.

In spring, mom and my cousin, who is a half-sister of said guy (the other cousin is a half-sister of the first cousin. At this point, forget it or start sketching a graph) decided to find him, which she did, brought him tor the rest of the clan to see, Nicholas found that out of the blue, he's blessed with scores of aunts, cousins, aunts' cousins and similar people and everything went just fine.

Until around Wednesday.

My grandparents have a diamond wedding anniversary and my parents are throwing a party for them (fiy, like, just now). Uncle Idjit was told that Nicholas will be here and said that he's not coming. Because he decided 35 years ago that he doesn't want to deal with this person. That he made an agreement with his ex. And that the person is total stranger to him. And that nobody is going to change his mind. And that nobody will change his decisions behind his back. He even yelled at his daughter for inviting Nicholas because he's paying the party and nobody should be inviting strangers behind his back. (As if.)

So, yesterday he grabbed his wife #3 and left. As a bonus, he left his grandson behind at the hotel without telling anyone.

There was a relay between my mom, aunt, cousins and dad. Mom yelled at Idjit that she's not talking to him if he doesn't come back, which he refused. Idjit called my father to inform him that his wife is a harpy, mean bitch and he's not even coming to her funeral (which is regretted by exactly no-one). Nicky was a bit sad, he wanted to see his father but at the end, he shrugged it off.

My father, who pays for the whole thing, made a few evil grins and said that he'll have the bill delivered to his idjit brother in law.

The rest is a good ole party with lots of food, so much food that we'll get the leftovers boxed to eat until we get our kitchen rebuilt (the story of tile apocalypse will follow when I get reasonably sober).

And yeah, this is a completely pointless and arbitrary post.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Daily clutter

I wonder where all the things come from. I reached the ultimate level of mess when I didn't have any place to step on the floor. After a few thoughts about pitchfork, I just started cleaning up.

It is trickier than it seems. I don't have enough storage space and I'm a messy person. Which means that finding places to put things in so that they don't stick out is tough. Een tougher is keeping them there, or, to be exact, put them back after using them. This simply doesn't happen for various reasons - messy, busy, always working on umpteen things at a time - so... go figure.

Things are not as easy as they seem. I can put things away but that wasn't the only point. I needed to put the herbary to storage for winter. I could just gather all the pressed plants in a folder but I'm somewhat orderly so I neatly stuck them to the sheets, tagged them, placed to the Unsorted folder and only then I put everything in a storage box which is now kicked under the piano. I ripped a botched sweater and now the yarn is soaking - the skeins will be dry by tomorrow and I'll put them back to stash clean and ready for some further use. I'm updating various files, which means that pictures and notes are being sorted out instead of just moving them from the camera SD card for some sort of later treatment. The thing is, the I'll do it later tends to happen not next Wednesday as sort of presumed but three years later.

To illustrate the point: My knitting file.

The yellow post-its are works in actual progress, which are on the needles, worked on, even if with breaks. The orange ones are failed attempts that need reworking, plans and ideas. One sweater needs some 34 rows of a sleeve to be finished. It's been languishing around here for several weeks although now I've deided to hit it and finish it because, 34 rows, the heck.

Now, I'm just taking a few things to the trash and then I totally plan to snuggle up with the lappy, some movies and all the nearly finished knitting. Two hanks and one messy piece of barely definable fabric less is cleaning, too.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

I need chocolate. And booze.

I'm on a diet and I'm doing my best, I even had a nice bout of hypoglycemia the other day. But....

BossDad is hiring. The welding department of four was dissolved. Three were fired for general assholery, as I hear, and the fourth one is in hospital with throat cancer and won't be around for a while, poor guy.

So, BossDad got some resumés from various agencies and invited a bunch of people for some grilling. BossMom is the evil cop who hands out tests on grammar and general knowledge and such, BossDad is the bad cop and I'm probably the nicest one, mainly because I'm lazy and mean but not inherently evil. Or... whatevs.

Applicants took over my table in BossMom's office so I'm sitting in the hallway. It's no biggie but everyone entering or leaving is opening the slightly creaky door behind my back, BossDad is bringing the applicants in in somewhat loud and boisterous manner and I'm, after all, interviewing them. I have some rather urgent work to do, it requires concentration and I'm interrupted every ten minutes. So far, I have sorted out my mail, paid bills, wrote several lengthy and messy emails to people who are hopefully used to my idiosyncratic ways and bought a bottle of neroli on fleabay. Uh, and I have read not only a crapton but a whole shitload of stuff on

The result of the day is that finally, we'll have a PR manager. No more damn fucking advertising for the poor innocent editors who are busy with just about anything else.

Now, I'm off to get something like a dinner and a bit of rest since there's an overnighter ahead. I need to do some actual work.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Anabasis, part two

We're in the other hotel in Fuengirola, it's raining or about to rain or just after the rain, including a loud storm in the early morning.

We caught a break between two rains and went to explore the Sohail castle across the river. Apparently, there were quite some rains because what was a poor excuse for a stream was now overflowing its bed and proved that there's nice brown soil somewhere up there.

I grabbed my last chance at botanizing and dug up some more little plants (I expect a considerable amount of indoor gardening to come). Meantime, it started to rain again so we returned to the hotel for some cussing and booze.

Another break between rains was used for shopping, which enriched me by two Agatha Ruiz de la Prada bags, one nail paint, several fans, five metres of fuchsia grosgrain ribbon, another bottle of Bacardi Elixir (to take home, for a winter of very particular caipirinhas), two black tank tops and one in purple (when it fits, get many, I'm telling you) and probably something more. I didn't score a blossoming jacaranda branch, all the jacaranda trees within walking distance were too tall.

We packed and hoped for the best in the morning.


Thursday, 3 November 2011

Anabasis, part one and half

Parents decided to show them.
If they say it's not possible to get us home by Friday, we'll show them that it is.

Dad asked the car rental owner to sell him something.
Mom threatened just anyone around by press and lawyers and kept telling dad that he's crazy.
I kept searching for airline tickets and I kept being told that it's not possible that there are no flights within reasonable timeframe and price range.

In the morning, most of the emotions cooled down, I still spent some time messing with airline reservation thingies, then we packed and got transferred to another hotel. Car rental guy apparently decided we're loonies on the loose and never appeared. Parents gave up and decided that they'd better grab the day and enjoy the whole thing.

So.... we lazied around and then went shopping. I got more fans (shit, those nice painted ones cost from 80 euros upwards), a tank top that fits so well that tomorrow I'm going to get some more and a stunning Agatha Ruiz de la Prada bag.

It's not bad, I kept saying it from the beginning.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Pass the caipirinha.

Or two.

The travel agency folks announced that our flight back was cancelled and that some people are going back via Barcelona (which includes getting up at four-ish) and that the rest, including us, on Saturday.

I went Woo hoo, two more days of holidays and I'll have to reschedule shit so that I'll do the Friday things on Monday and that was it. Dad went ballistic because he has some appointments on Friday and because anyways, mom went ballistic because This. Is. Not. Fair. This is the package holiday for the 55+ group and how the poor grandmas are going to find their way on the Barcelona airport and the meanos shouldn't get away with it.

So, my polite well-mannered mom kept using her arsenal of four-letter words while dad was yelling at the travel agency representative who was the last person who could actually do anything but take the shitstorm with smile. I needed something at the reception so I gave the gal a few advices how not to piss my parents further.

Anyway, mom is still angry and uttering florid verbiage that includes 'bastards', 'lawyers', 'I'll complain to the European Union' and 'fuck'. Dad is meantime working on a future urban legend about a tourist who rented a car from the local rental and then fell in love with said car so that he bought it and drove a few thousand kilometres home (without a driving license but that's another story).

I keep saying Loonies on the lose and keenly observe the situation. So far, I had two caipirinhas, found a train to Madrid and airline tickets from Madrid towards Hometown, dad called travel agency gal that there's an Iberia flight at 1510 and remarked that they don't want to send people home fast, they want to get them there cheap with El Cheapo Airlines.

I'll see what happens. Alas, it won't be happening far away from me.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Drunk before sunrise

We landed at Benalmádena, a bit west from Málaga.

Spain is at the very west of the timezone so there's dark until around half past eight, maybe.
And mom discovered that the breakfast buffet includes champagne. Go figure.

We suffered through some mass tourism, being taken to Malaga and then to Mijas. Malaga is a town so there're actual things to see and I could see many more if it weren't for unnamed parents who needed coffee, water, rest and to pee; I had around five coffees and with the help of my Pocket Guide to Spanish Conversation, I learned a few more useful phrases. If there were more organized bus trips included, I might be able to lead a reasonably sophisticated conversation at the end of the week.

Mijas, on the other hand, is entirely virtual reality. A random village, no different from others, turned a tourist attraction and nobody will give me those two hours back. Someone with excellent marketing skills was behind this and hopefully, they'll burn in hell. Parents claimed that this experience was not entirely regrettable and we argued.

Yes, why, I'm not entirely sober when writing this. So sue me.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Vere Novo

And now for something less obscure: Guerlain.

Vere Novo, the internets agree, was created by Jacques Guerlain in 1895. That's all I know and the rest is rants.

There is it, a two ounce 'apothecary' bottle, sitting on my table. The bottle was made by Pochet et du Courval until 1939, which is also the ante quem date for the content. I'm not that much of an expert to set a more exact date based on the label so I welcome any further clarification.

1895... back then, people used to put perfume on their gloves and handkerchiefs. There were only a few synthetic materials used in perfumery. Holy shit, this thing may have been made before my great-grandma was born!!! For some reason, I expected that Vere Novo would be something like Shalimar, just uglier. I'm not the biggest fan of Shalimar, it's somewhere between the I wouldn't mind it as a gift and Quite like it on my appreciation scale, which is probably why I have two bottles of it but that would be another story. Maybe later, and after all, everybody knows Shalimar. Back to the ancient Vere Novo, which is not similar to Shalimar.

It took me quite a time to get a grasp of this fragrance. It happens rather often with vintages, some are so well blended and matured that it is pretty hard to discern the perfume accords or ingredients. The same is happening again and again with Vere Novo: whatever was it made of, now it is a perfect unity. I dabbed it generously on my forearm and it surprised me again. Three words: galbanum, leather, vanilla. I'm sure there's more to that (I suspect some cade and vetiver at least, and anything that suppresses the annoying sweet facet of ethylvanilin) but there's a green blast of the top notes, which may rather be some aged citruses than actual galbanum, or citruses and galbanum. The first half an hour, there's even a teeny tiny touch of sillage, from two steps away, it may be supposed that I could be wearing a perfume. A bit later, when I moved my arm around, I'd stop and wonder how come I smell so nicely and now, in the afternoon, there's a spot that smells vaguely of vanilla. Or rather vanilla leather, don't you dare to think about in-your-face vanilla of a drugstore body lotion. If I understand what a skin scent is, then this is the skin scent.

I like quite an amount of fragrances and I don't have a strict preference, even if I rather dwell in the smoky resiny territory most of the time. The occasions when I get really enchanted are few and far between but this is one of them.

Mourn for this fragrance because it was discontinued a hundred years ago or around. However, in spirit, it is close to Vol de Nuit and less so in Shalimar (which is too sweet but there is something in common). Or believe in a stroke of luck.

A special message for the Guerlain headquarters: should you kindly revive this one, too, and preferably in an affordable presentation? With a nice skin product, preferably perfumed oil. Thank you very much.

My badly guessed notes for Guerlain's Vere Novo: lime, galbanum, leather, vanilla, touch of vetiver.

Saturday, 8 October 2011


Includes potentially important announcement
I am proud of myself today. I accumulated a huge backlog of pressed plants, half-legible notes, nicely prepared tags to go with something in the mess folder...

I had declared the hallway a Herbary Room some time ago. The coffee table is perfect for spreading sheets of paper, piling newspapers interspersed with plants and topped with eight heavy exhibition catalogues to make the plants flatter... but in winter, the table serves as a flower stand for hibiscuses, orchids, camellias and stuff that lives outside all summer long.

This is the place.

I sit on that spot on the carpet which is not covered in paper.

Note the newspapers all over the place. Since the standard herbary sheets are 30x45 cm, slightly larger than the standardized A3 format, they need to be custom ordered. To have nice folders from white paper, one would need to order them, too, while newspapers have just the right size, being a tad larger than the sheets, and they come free. I mean, newspapers do cost something but you can retrieve some from the trash bin, for example. I'm picking well-read copies from my dad's trash. Today I had the chance to refresh my memory on the beatification of Pope John Paul the latest or the World Championship in ice hockey.
Every folder is meant for one plant family, which is a standard way of sorting. I have a folder of singularities, or stuff where I have only one specimen of said family, to keep things somewhat easier, a family gets its own folder when there're two or more. Which is not really difficult, today I started eight new folders - the messy pile contained lots of interesting stuff.

I was told by my dear friend and occasional mentor M. that if a herbary is to have a sense, it needs to be publicly accessible. I thus hereby announce that my herbary is accesible to public by prior arrangement. Bring your own computer, there's no trained staff to assist you either and the internet connection sucks but there is coffee and on a good day, cookies. I can offer a small and not particularly fine selection of botany books and lots of literature on art, there may be a kitteh available if she wants and I plan to get some cushions to sit on during the winter.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Spin all the things!

I was doing some cleaning.

For some reason I'm not able to recall, I started digging in my stash boxes and discovered that my roving is happily inhabited by dermatid beetles. The beetles eat flowers or some such but their larvae are rather ugly fuzzy things that eat wool. They prefer cashmere, though, or cat hair. If you are interested in the little buggers, google them yourself. I know them and due to insectophobic people, or just Oooooh-creepy! people, I'm not even linking.
I inspected the rovings and my precious Scottish cashmere seems to be untouched but I decided that the safest way of dealing with the problem is to spin more. After all, disturbing the buggers disturbs them, complicates their sexual lives and maybe light and air kills them, who am I to know.

I however decided that it would be a damn good idea to go through the fibres via spinning them. I made daily allotments and I'm keeping with the plans quite well.

This is natural brown Shetland roving. The proper name of this fibre colour is moorit. So far, I have some 100m of two ply, which may have used up around a half of the total of 120g of fibre. I have some natural black roving, which is in fact deep chocolate brown, true grey, sort of grey and white, which just calls for some knitting project in all natural colours.

This yarn is probably Blue-faced Leicester. I got it from a Norwegian Raveller whose name I forgot (sorry), redyed it towards green and continued in my usual manner - singles with Z-twist, loose double. It drafts somewhat less eagerly so in fact, it's PITA to spin and my fingers hurt. But the result is pretty and fluffy and anyway.

Bleached yak. Spins like butter. The fibres have short staple length so it needs to be spun carefully. I intend to keep it a single.

To those who don't understand the fibery language: Look what pretty things I made.
Yes I'm still grumpy and down. I even have half a bar of chocolate on my table and it tastes icky. Means this is a damn bad day. The cat however didn't end it the way it started and refrained from further puking in my bed. Either she did something else or she likes clindamycin because she's licking my shoulder.

And now about something completely different.

It's no secret that I've gone through some eating disorders. I still struggle with disordered eating - I learned not to count kilojoules even in the toothpick I used to poke that tomato peel from behind my molar but I haven't managed to somehow eat normally, regularly, without periods of restriction or binging. Well, restriction isn't what it used to be in those glorious days when I used to eat twice a week, when those meals might be a bottle of sour milk or vegetable broth.

By the way, starving gets you a nice high. I tried to look up that article which was published on ScienceBlogs some time ago, which compared the brain's response to cocaine and to starving and it was pretty similar but my search powers failed me. Anyway, I don't find starving particularly difficult. I can just do it. My daily food struggle is between Eat all the things! and Don't eat at all!, along with a metaphorical Muppet flail.

And then there's an eternal fight, which is actually not a real fight, between me and my parents. Yesterday's debate started by my mother expressing her opinion which ran like You're a filthy pig. She was led to this opinion by my stuff just spread around in my place. I'm bored with this endless passive aggressive games and loads of bullshit so I said that since the place is messy but clean, I protest against both filthy and pig. Fast forward an hour to something like You are not able to follow a diet later than until the lunch, you're a glutton with no willpower. I tried to explain some of the emotional component but was told that this is not about any emotions, that all I need to do is to skip meals. Or some such. The whole discussion was pretty pointless. Although I was willing to explain, the other party wasn't willing to let me finish a sentence and even less so to actually think about what I'm saying. Food is not related to emotion, I was told, and after all, emotions are just irrational crap and anyone who has a bit of willpower will do just what they need to do, regardless of their feeling, and this is the right way to do.

Really, the easiest thing is not to eat. I'm really really attracted to the idea. To prove that I have that willpower. To be able to say Now I'm a sick wreck, are you happy with me and my willpower, and am I finally thin enough for you?

I hear that people cut themselves to deal with tension buildup - compared to the physical pain, the inner one wanes, or that's how I imagine it. I prefer walking in the cold, fingernails turning blue do the some thing for me. The rather nice Indian summer refuses to cooperate, there's not even a bit of biting wind.

I had a breakfast, admittedly, but otherwise, I'm just letting things be. I'm not thinking about any balanced diet and useful nutrients or the sensibility of getting a dinner. I'm down and disgusted and since I live with my stupid, pointless, no-good and irrational feelings for quite a while, I sense that I won't feel like finishing that unwrapped bar of chocolate which is sitting on my table at home. That self-starvation high is actually pretty cool.

Friday, 30 September 2011


Mom leaves for work earlier than I do, at least in general.
I hardly ever go to the kitchen and general surrounding area, I even make packed lunches and forgot to pick one today.
It is generally known.

So, I came to work, BossMom was already sitting there doing whatevwer she's doing and asked whether I closed the terrace door. Nope, I said, I didn't go there at all so I didn't notice.
Boo hoo, you should have known, the cat wanted to go outside so I opened the door and you should have noticed, whinety whine you're so stupid, that the door is open. You mean that I should have left you a note in written? when it's so obvious that you should have read my thoughts that this time I didn't close the terrace door.
Yes, you should have left a note, I said. BossMom growled Don't talk to me and now she's sulking.
Not that I particularly regretted not talking to her, I can at least download my movies and do my fleabay shopping in peace (not really).

The real issue is sorta different, the cat does go outside but sorta supervised. She can't crawl under the fence because it's pretty low - unless she finds her way under the garage gate. She can't climb although the fence is so rotten that with a bit of trying, she could walk through at some places. She's microchipped and nobody in the general neighbourhood has a Meezer I'd know of. I just hope I come home and find the little barstud sleeping on the sofa.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Fibre is good for you

First it was like:

Then it was like:

And this afternoon it was like:

To be continued.

For knitting geeks, the orange shit is Silk Garden Lite, colour 2047, I guess, with strawberry red, pinkish and brown bits cut out, and it will be on the shoulders. There's a hole for the head somewhere in that mess pictured.
The next yarn is Malabrigo Rios, colour Arco Iris or Indiecita.
The teal-with-things is Noro again, Ouchou, colour 8, closely followed by Silk Garden, colour 8, whose blue bits are happily used for another sweater I may or may not show sometime later.

Monday, 19 September 2011

First world problems

My feet are size 42. For most of my grown up life I wore 41 and it wasn't exactly comfy. I still sometimes get something in size 41 (Yes, I'm talking about those Beverly Feldman shoes from fleabay, but BF fits okay and one pair were thongs.) The Marc Jacobs ballet flats were cheap and 41. I decided they would work. They worked although it cost quite some effort to stretch them - and they are rather narrow than short as such.

When summer came, I started wearing thongs and sandals. Now I'm in Prague, I need to go to some discussion panel at the Ministry of Education so I took decent shoes with me. Said Marc Jacobs. On the first day, I decided that less than comfy is not a problem, I won't do any major walking etc. Today afternoon, I was highly inclined to go buy shoes NAO but it's rainy and I'm wintery-depressed and I had a problem with dragging my tired body to the metro station to go home.
During the Pilates class, my feet grew a few more blisters so I plastered and band-aided them and stumbled home, thinking that there's a shopping hell on the way so I'll act spoiled and go shoe-shopping at 9 pm. Shopping hell was open but the boutiques were closed. I fail to see a point of open mall with closed shops but I'm not your typical consumer.

The report on getting size 42 shoes in a country when normal range ends at 41 and the existence of abnormal is denied will follow.

Monday, 12 September 2011

I'd better be working.

Instead, I'm listening to some quarter tone jazz, shopping for fabrics and generally

And trying not to poke the roadrash on my elbow.

I'm taking the wager seriously, or at least halfway seriously, regarding my ever-enormous consumption of chocolate. Around a month ago, I scratched my toes against the curb and there're still some pretty thick scabs. Yesterday I cycled for a while. I wanted to ride across a small wooden bridge to see what's on the other river bank and in the middle, my brain caught up, screamed Eeeeeep, I iz scared of falling into the big scary river and I leaned against the railing. Railing made of un-de-barked wood. The problem of jeans with huge pink spot (it was wool dye, it shouldn't dye cotton, damn) and the question of spot removal was solved by tearing said jeans, I proudly showed my battle wounds at home, which mom commented that I should be getting band-aid in bulk.

I couldn't find the something-cain ointment in the morning and now I'm hurting.

But, I've lost some two kilos since the last time I checked. So what.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The pasta chronicles, part 427

For your own mental safety, do not ask for more.

I had a pasta lunch and then I went for a cycling trip and had to stop for emergency vomiting. I swear that I'm going gluten-free for real*.

* At least until the next yummy cake.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

My inner self

Yay for technology. Now the whole world can see my knees. Should there be a person of medical persuasion, I'd love to get a clarification on what 'patellar dysplasia' means outside the veterinary realm (Wikipedia, source of all and sometimes wrong knowledge, mentions something related to dogs) and whether it is related to my left patella being out of place - I guess that the left one is wrong because my left knee hurts.

There's also a heel available.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


I found a picture of yours truly some six years and 30 kilos ago.

Disheartening, isn't that.

In fact, it may be only 27 kilos ago. And I thought I was fat, then. I might have a pic from the times when I was anorexic and thought I was fat.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Random strangers

On Friday, I was sitting on the train, minding my own business and knitting a sample of something striped.
Then I pulled out a hank of Rios, untangled it, placed it on my knees and started winding a ball. A lady two seats away gestured that she'll hold the hank for me. I though she was a knitter, too, but she said she wasn't - she only used to hold a hank for her mother. Hi, friendly stranger, there'll be pics of said sweater in distant future, stay tuned.

A day later, on a bus, two Korean ladies were utterly fascinated by the fact that I knitted and stared out of the window. And that I knitted, for that matter. As it happened, a while later, two Japanese guys filled the other seats around me and expressed something between wtfitude and amazement.

I wonder, is the meme that only grandmas knit spread in Far East, too?

Thursday, 28 July 2011


On Saturday, I got a few pieces of apricot cake from Grandma. Being the pig I am, I ate all four of them although I knew I'll regret later. And I did. I'm not venturing into the fields of TMI (or Too Much Information), let's say that the inner disturbances were somewhat more disturbing and I decided to go really gluten-free.

I haven't mentioned it probably, I'm not coeliac, I just can't stand the gluten thing in larger amounts. Or, well, I won't die but having a nice sandwich or serving of pasta guarantees quality reading time in the bathroom and increased consumption of supersoft toilet paper. No, thanks.

The other day, I got a muffin form, a thing that can serve a dual purpose of baking muffins and feeding ten kittens at a time (not at the same time, obviously), so I took the generic cake dough recipe, substituted wheat flour with lupin flour, threw in a bit of psyllium fibre which gets gooey when wet and glues the thing together. I was also advised to be generous with liquids as the gluten-free flours absorb more of them. The raw dough tasted horrid - try raw legume of your choice and see. I wasn't sure about the whole undertaking so I added two teaspoons of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg each, lots of spices cover up many a botched cooking experiment, formed twelve cups in the muffin form and baked until scorched around the edges (I yet have to refine working with the muffin form). Then I wiped off the scorched bits and poured the baker's cheese-and-sour cream cream into the cups and baked yet for a while until I got bored of waiting. Rest of the dough was mixed with what remained of the cream after my nomming, which made five more yummy thingies.

Yes, yummy thingies. I didn't trust gluten-free baking too much because half of the storebought stuff tasted plastic and the other half was weird and expensive but this was... well, good. The lupin flour dough has nice texture if nothing else.

Problem: I should lose weight. Lots of it. I stopped eating cakes and pastries and stuff because it would make me sick but now I have non-sickening option.

The recipe:
two cups of flour
one cup of sugar
two tablespoons of butter, or more
one egg
one pack of baking powder
some water
fruit or things of one's choice
Mix, if not fluid, add water, pour into a greased baking tray, spread fruits and stuff, bake until done.

The gluten-free version
Two cups of lupin flour
two tablespoons or some such of psyllium fibre
one cup of sugar
two eggs
some butter
one pack of baking powder
some water
whatever topping

Mix until the dough sticks to anything but itself. Force into baking tray, top with topping, bake until done. Could be half an hour at 200°C but it doesn't matter, this is as idiot-proof as it goes in baking.

Pics maybe later, if I catch something not eaten yet.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


The other day, we were sitting on the terrace and ranting about things and other things. My father also coughed, chronic bronchitis is a bitch. And then we were poking fun at each other for being out of shape in many ways and it ended up in a wager:
If I lose 20 kilos before Christmas, my dad will stop smoking

I was immediately in. My father is a chain smoker with a physical dependence on nicotine. I've had enough of unsolicited advice along the lines of People won't ever like and respect you when you're such a fatso. I gave away my stash of chocolate and similar noms and started srsly dieting because workout is not a problem, lousy eating habits are. Two weeks in, I'm 2 kilos less and I've been only sitting, typing and rotting away. I'd add some exercise weren't it for either torrid heat or rainstorms (which means too rainy for cycling and too wet and hot inside for anything but lying and sweating).

We'll see. As the things are going, I'm still ready to get me a bowl of popcorn on the 25th to watch what's going to happen.

(should I post pics of the progress, I wonder?)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

I want some sleep

I didn't pull an overnighter, at a certain point, I simply started falling asleep so I dragged my exhausted self to bed, set the alarm clock to six, got up at seven and now I'm getting sleep-deprived, still quite some work to go, and the ever-annoying mother behind my back asks every two hours whether I have already finished.
Well, when I'm finished, I'll fall asleep, thankyouverymuch, and you will notice that.

I'm left to wonder why the hell I bother with this Ph. D. thingy at all. I wanted to go for it because every other idiot has a degree (every first idiot has two) due to pay-and-graduate institution in almost every village while a Ph. D. has maintained a certain level of coolness. I got to a point when I'm strongly doubting it. To be frank, I've been doubting the general purpose of life for quite a few years and the provisional conclusion is that there's no purpose and no reason but if one is cynical enough, it is fun to watch. Sort of, because I don't feel any good about endless writing of something nobody will ever bother to read because it's going to rot away in a shelf, under a layer of dust.

Sigh. Apparently I need more coffee and I'd better go back to work. I might start puking of sheer fatigue and I want to have something done before that.

Monday, 20 June 2011


If you wondered what I may be up to.
I'm sitting in my den, covered in cat hair, the den, me less so, I change my clothes on occasions while I don't bother cleaning. There're papers spread all over, books piled around my table, I'm drinking unreasonable amounts of coffee and there's an overnighter ahead. I'm about to finish my doctoral thesis and when I need to clear my head, I spin. It's even more mindless than knitting and it doesn't require such a bulk of stuff to handle.
For those curious about the fibres, from left to right:
Wensleydale tops on the spindle
Corriedale in fawn
Shetland in brown
Gotland is the tiny bit of grey, I just wanted to try how the fibre feels (damn good)
Some-or-another stuff I got from a Norwegian Raveller. I have a tag somewhere
Blend of teal mohair and Knitpicks'merino and silk blend
I still need to write something and to put it into some sort of a presentable shape but I've already made plans for the Wensleydale, it will become a two-ply for a lace shawl.

I suspect that the existence of toilet roll cores proves the existence of God, because nothing is so useful for spinners, while being readily available (mostly) for free.

Back to work.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


The other day, I've wondered about Shiseido's perfume naming strategy. It appears to me that someone picked a word they liked, possibly tweaked it around a bit and here we go, let's stick it onto the bottle, nobody would care anyway. Because... Sourire? To smile? Why not, say, Pour sourir or Une souris?

Same thing with Dignita. It suspiciously reminds me of the good old Latin-derived dignity but none of the languages I'm familiar with uses it in this form. I may be wrong and it means something like Tender Flowers in an extinct dialect of Inner Mongolia.
I however suppose that someone in the marketing department just liked the word. I could imagine the smell of dignity, something between moth balls, old leather, expensive woods and incense. Or some such. The brownish jus and brown and white packaging would also hint something more substantial but Dignita is anything else but moth balls, old leather and the general air of old mansion that could use some redecorating and thorough cleaning.

I did my best to find the notes listed somewhere but I've failed. My smell detection device, which is not the bestest, says that there's a gentle whiff of PVC at the beginning but that doesn't surprise me, many fragrances give out a very chemical odour before the alcohol evaporates. Then, Dignita becomes a really nice floral - there's a whiff of violets, not the alph amethyl ionone sort from violet pastilles (oh, yum) but a greener variety, and then the fragrance evolves into a lovely bouquet of roses, although the first identifiable smell is that of a soap named Green Apple, which we used when I was a child - maybe I should check some bad drugstore which has the less fashionable stuff and I'll find it somewhere. Or it may be some other tart fruit - wild cranberries or white currants; one way or another, it (a) makes me drool (b) reminds me of Dior's Chris 47. Anyhow, tart fruits and armful of roses. Those of the soapy variety, then the lemony Gloria Dei and maybe a whiff of the most extraordinary Mainzer Fastnacht, which was elaborated in another Shiseido's fragrance, Blue Rose (which will be dealt with shortly), and some cut grass.

After the initial multifaceted impression, Dignita remains rather linear. Fruits and roses wear down a bit, revealing a soft resiny and powdery base - elemi and iris, I would say, along a well crafted base of general leafy greenery. And a bucketful of lovely musk, that bright, cheery, clean and soothing type, which is the reason why Dignita lasts rather long but after an hour it quietens to a slightly powdery skin scent that still keeps a bit of tartness.

I have no clue whether Dignita is still produced. Uncle Google found several Russian online retailers that sell it, I scored my bottle in France.

A point about the picture above: The beautiful Old English rose of unknown cultivar just fits to the fragrance. Of slightly indefinable colour between apricot and yellow which fades as the blossoms wilt, it smells faintly of, well, roses of the sweeter variety, with a touch of something incense-y. And it matches colour of the jus. Coouldn't resist the kitsch. I however resisted cutting my last iris despite how it would fit in.

To make the blog more interactive, I'm asking a question, dear readers. What Shiseido fragrance would you want to read about next? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Not yet compost

I need to get more sheets cut for my herbary - I thought 500 would last me an entire season but I'm already running out. I could maybe start numbering the specimens. In fact, I'd welcome some database thingy which would also store the data... but that would be probably too much to expect from life and universe.

Yesterday, M. dropped for dinner. I needed to plant the stuff I brought over from Madeira and which included a fern whose name I forgot, some Viola riviniana or what the hell, Viola odorata ssp. maderensis, and the stuff that arrived just because I left and which was left at M.'s for plant sitting. I heard that cat called Squirrel showed quite a bit of interest in Wassabia but then decided to go on chewing her palm. M. seems to be rather envious of my little yard. I got some useful information, bragged about how I grow my own weeds for my herbary because they have lots of space, M. laughed, held my Fumaria when I picked some other stuff and then he shouted out: Holy shit, what's this?

I'm not telling you what it was before it gets published in an impacted magazine. Let's say that my garden is interesting.

I like weeds. After all, weed is whatever is defined as unwanted so... so what. By not minding them, I make them non-weeds, after all.

And now I need to get back to my serious writing. Then I'll hopefully install the PhotoShop and I'll be back with pictures.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011


I should be doing something sensible but it's lunchbreak, people have gone out to get some food while I munched on some ricotta and dried fruit over the keyboard and the tasks require a colleague or some software to be downloaded - I'm still shoulder-deep in the mess caused by the new laptop. A less urgent matter, the dendrology books, which I've downloaded the other day, is sitting at the back of my head and poking me constantly, we seem to be having constant arguments about, say, root system of cherry trees compared to that of apricot trees.

I'm sitting between two laptops, several data storage thingies and in the midst of large cable clump. But in a reasonable time, I'll have a new version of PhotoShop (which will irk the hell out of me because I'm conservative), and maybe I'll even sort out my files in a manner I actually understand. Not that I wouldn't understand the First Available Surface system of filing, and I used to have a rather good idea what the folders named Leftovers, Others, Random, Some stuff and Something else contain. Now, the folders are on several less than neat piles on the external discs and I strongly suspect that something of the more important variety went missing.

The good news is that the current history textbook is being reviewed, proofread, re-reviewed and re-proofread, in other words, getting the finishing touches. When my graphics guy is back from lunch, we're going to start the other one.

Now I need more coffee.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Exploding fish

I would explore Madeiran shrubbery but mom made faces whenever I plunged into growth or squatted to observe a specimen of particularly interesting weed. which reminds me that I failed to pick some of that pretty Juncus thingy. I tried to be nice at least for a while so I limited myself to exploring Madeiran cuisine.
The local specialty, the espada fish (I have to look it up for exact name yet), baked with banana, was offered in the hotel restaurant so I went for it and it was nommy

For the day after, we had booked a round trip. I mentioned that the whole thing was meant for elderly people getting some travel. I must have ranted on and on about my hate of tourist crowd - in case you missed it, let it be noted that I hate tourists, I hate the crowds who totally need to take a picture with every odd-shaped rock, old-looking house or a place where Betty Famous sat down on her hike from Anytown West to Podunk. So, we ended up in a place where Winston Churchill spent a few days holidaying, and in that fishing village, said espada fish is fished. The guide started explaining that said fish lives in depths around 1800m, at which point I gagged because obviously, pull it out of deep waters and it explodes. Guide continued with gory details of how the fishermen never saw said fish alive because on its journey upwards, its stomach explodes, and its eyes explode, and I had a hard time of not throwing up my dinner.

I got a swordfish for my lunch and from then on, I stuck to fish of whose death I knew nothing. Yes, if I were to hunt my own meat, I'd be a vegetarian, I guess, and I thank all the developed and decadent society that I can get my dead animals dead, degutted and neatly sliced.

The Madeira landscape is magnificent, though. The trip was good for two things: some street anthropology concerning mass tourism (and reinforcing my view on that) and seeing that landscape. Among the rugged rocks or laurel forests, we started telling to each other that we totally need to bring Dad here the next time.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Rejoice not

I'm not dead and you will need to read my rants on and on.

I kept silent for a while. Old laptop is old, new laptop is cool but I need to get used to it and it has no photoshop, work is to be worked.

But, most importantly, I became subject of my mother's craziness. On Thursday, she read that European Union (or someone else) funds travelling to several destinations for people over 55. Mom decided she needed to go to Mallorca next week and wanted me to go with her. I refused, I have stuff to do which can't be easily rescheduled, so it was last Sunday or never, Mallorca wasn't available and we thus ended up at Madeira.

I repeat, in case you didn't get the message clear. We decided to go someplace on Thursday and flew Sunday morning.

Packing requires 30 minutes plus five hours of looking for battery charger, no big deal, but there was some work to do at work and I had to transfer data from old lappy to the new one so I spent most of Saturday in the office as well, and in order to be at the airport early in the morning, we took the midnight train.... but meantime I organized that M. comes, lends me his atlas of plants of Canary islands (which share a good part of flora with Madeira) and takes my freshly arrived plants for plant-sitting. Also, I realized that there are many interesting things (read plants) on Madeira.

Alas, there was not that much time and occasion for picking stuff for my herbary but I snatched a few, now happily resting in fresh dry newspaper under a heap of art books and I yet have to go through the pictures. We also agreed that this trip needs to be repeated.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Back to scheduled programming

I don't really stick to traditions just because they are traditions but this year, some spring cleaning did indeed happen. The main reason is that my laptop is living on borrowed time and I wouldn't want to lose my files. Been there, done that.

I got an external harddisk, lost it, got another, found the first one... so I'm backing up. Or backupping. Possibly both.

So far, I have discovered many a thing. Not that picture of a Montmartre house covered in blossoming wisteria, but, well, other stuff. And since the cleaning extended to shelves and the Closet of Doom, there's a sampling of things to come:

A Molyneux week. There'll be Rue Royale, Charme, Numéro Cinq, two different editions of Vivre and Quartz which smells like warm water.

After that, just in tow, Gueldy week. Gueldiana, of course, and also Lys Bleu, Cuir de Russie and Cyclamen. I think I may have one more but I'm not sure.

Obviously, I'll throw in some knitting and random flowers because it's me. And a gratuitous kitty or two if I can find the Montmartre directory.

and if you're good guys and ask nicely, you might get a random dose of less-known Guerlain stuff

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Spring is here!!

Not that I was that dumb and wouldn't recognize blossoming trees, snowdrops, narcissi, hyacinths and such stuff but now, asparagus appeared. Locally grown and for reasonable prices. Spring is never complete with overindulging in asparagus and the resulting stinky pee.
Another spring thing is basketmaking. I got excellent garden shears and we're going out so I intend to get some willow twigs and make a basket or two. Haven't done it for years but I got an Urge. And, obviously, there's the element of irking people. Mom will say that it's useless, other will stare in awe because I'm doing something perceived as difficult while telling them that it's rather easy. (No, I'm not a particularly nice person.}

In other news, dad decided to teach me to drive so if you don't hear from me anymore, it went badly.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Nerdy fun

I learned a new word: Epistemophile. Person who likes learning for the sake of learning.

When I mentioned it in front of my mother, she gave me the eye and said that she knows only one such and thank gods for that because otherwise life would be entirely unbearable.

And now excuse me, I need to go and enjoy the process of understanding organic chemistry.*

* Next time: Joys of being an editor. Part 2217

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Increasing amounts of meh

I guess that my life is so boring and pointless that there's nothing to write about.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The newly found cousin

It's not news that my uncle is an arsehole of the cowardly sort. I still have in fresh memory how he threw his stepdaughter out. Because, after 20 years, he decided that she was a stranger and it's dangerous to have strangers at home because them strangers could steal something or such.

He acquired said stepdaughter when he ran away from his wife #1 to another gal who happened to have a child with her husband, who, obviously, wasn't my uncle. They both divorced, uncle wanted to adopt my cousin but her biological father wouldn't allow it, nothing happened for umpteen years until uncle found his current wife #3 who decided that strangers are a big no-no. One day, cousin returned home from the medical school, lock was changed, she rang the bell, uncle, whom she called father, opened, she went in, got slammed by the door and told to go away. Classy.

Now.... it was sorta known that uncle had a son with wife #1. There were various stories, often slightly contradictory, why they separated. My cousin, not the abovementioned one but her half-sister, daughter of idiot uncle and #2, my red-haired aunt, found said son and they're in lively contact, he shares my mother's sense of humor, is my uncle's spitting image and my mother's Evil Plan is to bring him and his family as a super special gift for my grandparents' diamond wedding. Newly found cousin agrees. I got a job, since I live closer than Agile Cousin, to go visit him, too, so that we're not a whole bunch of strangers at once.

If you lost track and don't know who is related to whom, I may contemplate making a graph. And yes, why, our family does have its bit of crazy.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Unbelievers' special: a proof that we do have a tree in our office

It's some sort of acacia. My botanist friend brought two saplings, one failed to thrive and was thrown out or died or whut, this one gets trimmed every now and then or it might devour us.

It's not remembered who installed the plush snake. We're contemplating getting an apple.

Next: ginormous hibiscus in the other office.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

On hardware

My computer got too packed with movies, pictures and general clutter. I decluttered (there's various smart software that gets you rid of lots of something that you never miss later on) but still, the thingy was slow and such. I got an external harddisk. Tried it, had it on my table for that day when I'll move my files there and then it disappeared. I looked to all possible places and many impossible ones but it was just gone. I decided that the possibility of me placing the box with said harddisk on the paper bin and my mom taking the trash out was the reason of missing gadget.
I got another harddisk, moved my movies there, whined about that small but perceptible dent in my budget - I could have bought some yarn, spinning fibre, perfume, shoes, things... and went on with my life.
Today, I put a bag of roving on the piano and when I took it to put it to place, harddisk was under it. The cat is away so I blame the gnomes.

Also, my monitor is borked. Very borked. I consulted that special sort of borkedness with the internets, which say that the graphic card is dying, that it requires servicing and that it sucks. Sigh.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Om nom nom nom

Prompted by the success of celery pie I baked on Pi day, and that bag of vegetables mysteriously appearing on the countertop yesterday morning, I decided that it's time to start cooking. That my mother's endless line of stews is sorta boring.

The mystery bag (as it was explained later, it contained stuff dad found in the company fridge and nobody claimed it) contained some two kilos of carrots and I thought about making carrot meringues. These require parmesan so I dropped to the cheese shop...

...and my subconscious proved to be ahead of matters again. Yesterday's dream was about a mushrooming trip and yours truly digging for truffles and finding none.

So, I was standing in the queue at the cheese deli with sleeve over my nose because by Gods, it stank there. I'm known for not being able to withstand some smells, I need my blue cheese enclosed within a sandwich to be able to eat it and the smell of garlic is a good method how to get rid of me for half a day - or how to make me throw up. And there it was, on the counter, making a face at me (as far as jars can make faces). Truffle honey. With real truffle floating in it.

I got my chunk of parmesan, some ooh, shiny goat cheese and said truffle honey. The rest of my shift, I'll be busy finding out what's that good for. Or maybe I should do some real work and use a spoon.

Random musings. Culture special

I was randomly clicking on YouTube recommendations and came across this.

I only listen to youtube, this music theme is not particularly exciting or new or surprising but when I heard that clapping, I had a look.
And gasped. Because those guys rock. This type of dance looks like random stomping and waving legs around but my knees started to hurt when I was watching that. The steps are damn good workout for the thighs, too, and one needs to be damn good to make it look so relaxed and easy.

Yesterday, I was listening to the cultural gossip on the radio. Jose Cura is singing the lead in Pagliacci, I decided that it might be worth seeing and after the shift, I started the internetz. I had to give in my long-term ideal of getting the cheapest ticket (eight years of being a student does weird things to one's reasoning. I've become cheap. Very cheap) because there was only one. One. The last one. The theatre's website says not to lose hope, that many of the bookings have to be confirmed yet and that there actually might be some tickets available in April but I wouldn't bet on it. There are many opera freaks in this country.
Well, I got that ticket. It wasn't the cheapest one so bye bye, my food and entertainment budget for March.
I bragged about the ticket to parents. Dad made a blank face, mom said How will you get to some damn Podunk across the whole country?, to which I replied that most likely by train and bus, why. The obvious question was And why, by all gods and saints, you need to see some goddamn opera at all, and why you bother to spend three days by travelling there and back. Hey, mom, it's in August, in a nice area, I'll take a few days off, do some sightseeing and botanizing. Aaaand, I like teh culture and I'm not ashamed of it. Both parents threw a look of deep lack of understanding, shrugged and continued watching football.

In order to get back on the bandwagon with social life, I went to a lecture on Baroque sculptors. Was fun, should do it more often.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Adventure in white, and another in green

I started making a white sweater some rather long time ago. This effort was stalled several times due to lack of yarn, whatever. And meantime, I decided that I needed a chunkier white sweater. Also, meantime I happened to miscalculate or guesstimate very badly and produced several sweaters that turned out to be too small so I cast on generously.

And then everything went wrong. I counted with those usual 14-ish skeins. At the stage pictured, the total was 18 skeins and there're sleeves to go. Obviously, most of the yarn lives in the other stash I'll be visiting only next Wednesday. And spring hit so I'll have a darn beautiful sweater for next winter.

The pic is taken in my mother's bedroom, if the purple picture-thingy were mine, it would take five minutes to take it to the trash.

Some time ago, my heart desired highlighter green yarn. I looked around, didn't find any and then I wandered to my LYS and there it was, a single orphan skein of Malabrigo Worsted in Apple green. M. had only one skein in stock and didn't plan on placing an order from Malabrigo because teh economy sucks; I grabbed that one, poked it around and then found a matching yarn.
Somehow, it's becoming customary that I'm ordering yarn for work in progress and it irks me, I'm telling you. Well, more apple green yarn is on its way from overseas. And I'm already pondering whether 4 skeins in total would be enough, because paired with the other yarn, it's meagre 1500 metres and that may not be enough for a thigh-long tunic.
Because, knitting from actual stash is so mainstream.

Random musings

Yesterday, I had one of those very realistic dreams. One of those in technicolour, including noises, smells and cortisol dripping from my hair. I travelled to my friend Kristina to somewhere in Northern Japan. Said friend lives in Paris... just sayin'. Well, I had a paper with an exact itinerary so that I wouldn't have to interact with the natives. I ended up in Podunk where I was aiming but my cellphone finally fell apart and I couldn't text Kristina to come and pick me up. I sat on a railing pondering what to do, with a huge dilapidated football stadium towering behind me, and apparently I picked a spot where local youngsters liked to hang around. Well, there was no help but to interact, one nice girl lend me her celly so that I could call Kristina who brought me to her place. She needed to work the next day so she sent me to the wilderness of the downtown to buy a new celly.
From all that stranger-induced stress, I fainted and smashed my head on the edge of the curb, resulting in some neat stitching at the back of my head.
What is my subconscious telling me, damn fucking hell? I've long ago noticed that I'm a sociophobic chickenshit who tends to freak out in places that speak unknown languages. I know that my cellphone is old. I've noticed the news. Why can't I dream of something more entertaining? Or shall I finally go into screenwriting and make this into a Lychesque flick?

Speaking of Japan, we a bunch of Ravellers are organizing a charity auction (me being a really small part of that we). And maybe I should start buying more Noro yarns to help the economy to recover. Or I should finally kick my lazy ass to learn Japanese as I had already planned. (If nothing else, I could have escaped the Oooooh, panic in the news. Yeah, native idjits already plundered pharmacies of potassium iodide, because there's the radioactive end of the world coming. Apparently I have a good reason to hate people, at least sometimes.]

I still have no social life.

My workplace was moved to an office next door. Too much light there, the other inhabitant loves blazing lights, my dark den was much comfier. At least I put up a demotivational poster with a Land Rover covered by shrubbery and drowning in dirty water, with a caption New career in the army. My Procrustean chair and sometimes rather boring work feels much better when I look at said poster because my feet are nice and dry.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Spring is coming

Well, sort of. The weather is seemingly beautiful, sunny and such, but it's cold as hell. So, there's a good chance that I finish my cool chunky soft white sweater in time to wear it.

I cleaned the closet, apparently, spring struck in this department, too.
It was quite a bit of adventure. I wouldn't guess I might have 20 pairs of jeans, of which 17 are too small for me, I found my old evening dress, size 38 - yes, people of the world, I did wear size 38. And smaller.
I threw out a dress I started making in my most anorexic times. I was 19 or 20, wanted to go to a party, started sewing this lovely yellow linen piece... bearing on mind that for sure I'm going to lose those five centimetres around the waist in those three months. I didn't go to the party after all and I never finished the dress, which was some 80cm in the hips. Apparently, carpet beetles like linen so the little barstuds gnawed some holes in it and I tossed it in the trash. Good riddance.

But... but....

My high school graduation dress. Well, I think so, I don't remember what I wore but I got it around that time. Size 38. Maybe I should give in and toss it but I can't, somehow.

Maybe I should hit the gym, after all, the Intelligent Magazine (TM) already announced that it's time to get into shape for the bikini season. Did I say that I've thrown out a few old swimsuits? I didn't wink, I don't like swimming anyway so I don't build emotional ties to swimsuits.

Friday, 25 February 2011

New adventures in yarn

I've been knitting like mad lately. I decided that with my yarn acquiring folly, I might end up drowned in wool and that this year, I'm going to knit up more than what I acquire.
The month of January was a great fail, I got 103 skeins of yarn, of which I bought 87. Winter sale in my LYS, and a local wool mill discontinued their wonderful wool/'paca blend so I squirreled 38 balls from various sources because basic soft yarn is always handy. And, I knitted up around 30 skeins, I don't have the list with me.

February is continuing to be one big fail as well. At least I started a big fluffy sweater on 4mm needles which goes faster than knitting up sock and fingering yarn. Being decided to cull up my yarn acquiring activities, I found myself bored or tired at work so much that I'd spent some time now and then looking on yarn porn... which obviously leads to a slippery slope. I accumulated a heap of post-its with notes like Lovelyyarns-dot-com has Diakeito's Diamusee for only $5.20. I'd be a total sucker for Diakeito yarns if they only were sorta normally available.

Lately, I've fallen for wool/alpaca blends. And I've had a weak spot for Schoppel because I love their logo with winking cat. Yes, in a way, I'm a simple person. Very very simple person. I got their Natur Pur because it was white and generally nice and started knitting that white fluffy sweater.

See? I started with alternating Bouton d'Or's Ksar in sort of cream or pale camel colour, Silk Garden in 269, which is shades of white and some brown that was hacked away, and said Natur Pur. Then I threw in some lighter yarns which are even fluffier but, well, wool/alpaca blend which is even and cloudy is boring. Natur Pur contains some guard hair, few of them in black, and apparently I need yarn from which I can pick things. Noro has twigs, Natur Pur has tough wiry black hair. I got another six skeins in the continuing LYS sale, along with... quite some other yarn.

I'm doomed.
As soon as I get my mother out of the house, because she lacks the necessary sense of humour, and as soon as I get a halfway decent photographer (mental note, need to get the camera fixed someday), I'll take that iconic shot of a knitter in a tub full of yarn skeins.

Stay tuned. Since I've already opened that can of worms, I'll keep you, dear readers, updated on my health status and lousy feelings of incompetence.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Just ranting, bear with me.

I'll be 32.
I've been depressed, on and off, since I was 14 or 15.

More than half a lifetime.

Well, there were the times off depression, off medication, I was thin (well, I'd have to dig out pictures, even then, I thought I was fat), I managed doing things, I travelled, I walked a lot and never felt too tired. For real, those were around three years between my 22 and 25 or such. And I sewed a lot and wore the clothes regardless of what my mother said. I didn't think much about her nagging or people looking odd at my hat with sunflowers.

I started a fashion blog. Well, not that it would be a fashion blog proper, it's rather making fun of fashion bloggers, showing that I wear rather a narrow range of clothes, all in the same style. However, I became a bit more aware of what I am wearing and how does it look because photographs are teh bitch. I also noticed increased spendings on clothing-related crap and urgent need to own more than four pairs of shoes, which probably has something to do with the fact that I discovered the existence of pretty shoes in size 42 and I want to catch up with years of blisters and shoes that don't fit. Or maybe another blog is just another useless idea and the Universe punishes me by draining my money away.

I have an urge to stop eating these days. Not eating is fun, one big adrenaline rush. Well, yeah, sometimes one may stumble or even fall because lack of blood glucose is teh bitch too... but. Now, I know I'm not rational, reasonable, sensible and such. I was anorexic and bits of my brain apparently never recovered. But, by objective measures, I'm fat anyway.

Next paycheck goes towards two bags of yarn, camera repair, bills... and for the rest, I'll get a special jar. Because, what's in bank, can be way too easily accessed through the visa card, while jar is safely in the bookshelf when I'm eyeing the cute crap in a store or on fleabay. Said jar will hold cash for the breast reduction surgery (yay scars) and meantime I can starve and work out myself thin. Or at least thinner.

Now, the rational bit of my mind tells me that this way of thinking is totally wrong, that I should stop worrying, that people like me even with those 25 kilos of fat (see, I'm realistic, in those days, ten years ago, I was around 70 and I disregard the fact that I wanted to be thinner, I wore size 38 and that is okay), that I should get therapy, that... that...

I just feel sad and lonely. It seems to me that I feel sad and lonely more often than people generally do but in fact, I don't know. Maybe all people feel incompetent and miserable all the time so I have nothing to worry about. The problem is that I'll never know, maybe everyone is pretending to be nice and jolly as I do. No, folks, I'm only pathetic.

In fact, I didn't feel that good those 10 years ago. At an exam, I just burst out crying that I'm totally stupid and useless and that I'm never ever going to achieve anything in my life. Now, I feel I was right. I'm not any smarter, I've done nothing too useful and achievements somehow fail to happen, too. I should've studied more. I should've studied at all.

Or maybe I'm not lonely at all. I do like being somewhere on my own, reading, knitting, doing nothing. Maybe it's only a dream never to be fulfilled, based on pulp novels, that people actually do have regular social life, maybe everyone just sits in the corner whining - who am I to know.


Wednesday, 12 January 2011


I was taking some pics for my fashion blog (1)because after quite a time, I was at home when there was still some daylight. After a long long time, I managed something worth the name of self-portrait because for two seconds, the sun shone and it just happened. I admit to quite some photoshopping, though. And if I had two more seconds of sun, I'd make another shot, with symmetrical hair. Which I'll do, some other day.

I admit to being slightly obsessed with my hair. All that peroxide, oil and expensive brushes get on one's brain sooner or later.

Since I'm dabbling into art, I was reminded of something else.

Enthroned goddess from Antikensammlung Berlin: Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

One day, I'll add some better styling to such hair for more cool.
(1a) should you want me to add some verbiage in English, ask for it in the comments there.
(1b) said blog is not very serious. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


I'm writing a history textbook and I'm editing another one so I'm happily immersed in various epochs finding out random interesting things. Too bad that I'm getting oxhide ingots, Standard of Ur, Piero della Francesca and John of Luxembourg mixed together into some sort of history pizza.

I have my little obsessions and quirks so just now I'm planning to insert something on Manuel Chrysoloras into the book I'm editoring and embellishing but the editor-in-chief doesn't know who this guy was so it might be a bit of challenge. I can be pushy, though, and I have a weak spot Early Renaissance and consequently, all things Florentine. Manuel Chrysoloras was invited by Coluccio Salutati, chancellor of Florence , to reside at Santa Maria degli Angeli (where the Arts Faculty of said university is now) (gah, I should finish my thesis, or, well, start the bulk of the work, for that matter) and to teach Greek, to anyone interested, I hear, and if I remember well, he was paid by the city council (gah, I should've bought the catalog of the Salutati exhibition that happened at Biblioteca di San Lorenzo a few years ago, now I'd know).
And this should be translated into Humanist Latin, incised in stone and used to hit the world leaders on their precious little heads because education is the bestest thing in the world. Well, along with knitting, indoor plumbing and sliced bread.


A friend works in a bookstore. BIG bookstore. She has an employee discount and an ability to search databases and stock of the actual stone stores for things. It has already proven useful when I found a rather obscure book that has been out of print for five years and she has it on her table now, waiting for the right time when we meet for a coffee.
Today I was browsing through Hartt, that big book on Italian Renaissance art where Frederick Hartt was one of the authors when said friend messaged me that today she had folks from Thames & Hudson there and that they'll be ordering books from them from time to time and that she can get them for bulk price. I eyed my well-worn beloved copy of Hartt, published by said Thames and Hudson, for which I had paid arm and leg a few years ago and just now I'm perusing their online catalog.
A thing struck me recently. There seems to be a general lack of books on Japanese art but for those damn woodprints. I care a damn about woodprints, I mean, they're pretty but there's moar. I must be doing something wrong because I doubt I'm the only person who speaks English but not Japanese but is interested in said matter.

I'd probably better be knitting.

Upon digging in the internetz, I discovered that part of what Leonard Woolley dug up in Ur ended up in Penn Museum and that there are actual books with coloured pictures of Sumerian (?) thingies. Darn, how am I supposed to write something sane about Mesopotamia when I can't get sane literature in this country? In the National Library, they have an issue of something like Acta Sumerologica. Published in Tokyo. Some of the Mesopotamian stuff is inherited in our culture, not theirs, but they do have some research and publications going on. Alright, someone gets a point for bringing said journal to the library but...

Erm, I need a new bookshelf anyway and I might get a book on Sumer, too. Just because. And the stuff is pretty.

Now I'm going to knit. For real.