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.