Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Notes from the survivor

Christmas started strange. Mom was asking, What has happened to you? (Here the story would require adding someting like 'and poked me with her toes' but this is not a short story but a brief account of what happened) and I wondered. Who the hell is that You from the question, why cannot she shut up and ask someone competent and why there's the bathroom floor tiles sticking to my face. And, last but not least, why my ankle so fucking hurts.
When I regained even more consciousness, I discovered that I am indeed lying on the bathroom floor, I have a terrible headache* and I hit the edge of the step with my inner ankle and the cupboard with my head. I went to the bathroom because I was thirsty and for some reason, I fainted.
The rest of the morning I spent mostly lying on the bathroom floor because (a) the tiles felt so nice and cooling (b) I had an urgent feeling that I will puke and the end of the world will come. I don't remember feeling that awfully sick in my life.
Then we went shopping. Not that we'd buy anything special but I needed raisins for my baking and Mom needed whatever for whatever - I recall buying some anti-wrinkle crap set for my aunt and gianduiotti for me (it's the nougat from Torino. Drool).

It settled later and even the cold (it was an awful cold, folks) went away. Next time I'll hit my ankle, it apparently works. I spent the whole Saturday and Sunday lazying around, Mom told me to rest and not make any fast movements so I settled with Peter Englund's book and read. And made the Christmas pudding which is not a local tradition but we're a cosmopolitan family and since I didn't manage to bake the Finnish gingerbread thingies.....

I did the tree decorating. This year we didn't get any decorations, they don't stock the blown glass ones in Tesco anymore, bastards, and I'm afraid that all the glassworks will go bankrupt because all the idiots buy the Chinese crap which is ugly, plastic and cheap.

I got a gift voucher. My father buys gifts on the 24th.... so I got a book called something like The Basics of Macrophotography. Most of it was basics of photography and basics of photoshopping. Oddly enough, I've been earning my living with photography and photoshopping for years so that's a sucky gift - but apart from leaving everything to the last minute, my father has a peculiar sense of humour so he added a gift voucher for 'one pc. of macro lens redeemable after reading the book'. I should remind my gracious dad that I have a Pentax. Just in case, I know my people.

*my sweet and gracious father would say Horrid are the mornings of the drunks but I didn't have hangover. I hadn't drank anything that would justify the state so the theory is that I was just plainly ill.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Some pics

My dad is trying to strangle me or something. The lady sitting on the stairs isn't my grandma but mom's younger sister. The reception was in the students' pub nearby and it was cool. They cook well but the place lacks intimidating damask tablecloths and posh silverware so people felt like in a students' pub. And in posh restaurants, they don't have laminate cows in the stairway to the bathrooms.
I got two pens, an antique bracelet and lots of praise. Praise is the most important thing, folks. And part of the whole thing is that all your relatives - or at least all your sane relatives - come (not accomplished, cousin's little son is ill, uncle was at the court and his idiotic wife wasn't missed either, some didn't show without excuse, bastards), bring you gifts and flowers and you just walk with armful of stuff to the pub or just somewhere so that the passers-by can see and show some praise.
And..... flowers are tasty.

Monday, December 17, 2007

In a hurry

It's my proms today. All possible and impossible relatives coming, I need to go with the trash to the post office and to the bank and to get some cat sand and something to eat (I don't feel like cooking now and the reception is at four). I need to do my hair and my face - I have a rash on my face and it itches. I have acne and it's all inflamed. Once upon a time I need to look at least passably good. There's not a decent pair of tights (I'm gonna wear a dress, folks) in this house because there's no pair of tights. Not a thing I'd wear. I feel weird about this. I hate formal clothes and if I need some, I love to make fun of the formalities with crazy shoes or something. Well, those I have. My all-purpose pink and lilac stiletto slingbacks. I have a lilac silk flower which I might toss in my hair which reminds me that I should do my hair, too. And, I have to manage somehow and not to get any cat hair or my hair onto the damn dress, it's black velvet.

But, the trash. The bag is ready at the door and half of it is the contents of the sandbox. And nails first.
Off I go, pictures will follow someday. Some distant day, as I know myself.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Just so

There's an exhibition organized and paid for by the city council. Since all the money allocated went to restoring the exhibited stuff, it has no advertising whatsoever. It is in the Clam-Gallas Palace and oddly enough, it is about Clam-Gallas Palace. And... nobody knows about it.
Johann Fischer of Erlach was the architect of the building which means that the palace is the topmost jewel of Baroque architecture. I'm not expert on Baroque, sorry, so most I can say is that the building is cute.
The exhibition shows, among others, the original plans and sketches of the interior decorations which were preserved in such an extent as no other examples, partly due to the changes of the plan - the plans would be otherwise 'used up' during the construction and whatever remained would be thrown away as scrap paper. And the interior sketches are the largest drawings surviving by Fischer - who was originally trained as a sculptor and who was a great drawer, the largest convolute of construction plans existing - they don't have anything comparable even in Italy. And... nobody knows. If you go to Prague before January 27, drop there. The exhibition isn't showy at all but if for nothing else, it's worth seeing the plans.

I went to pick my yarns. Ravelry is stuck, I put the yarn porn here so that I can brag about it. I got some French designer yarns - eight balls of woolen tweed by Dorothée Bis (isn't that cool?) which I vaguely plan to use for some heavy sweater and some Pierre Cardin cotton-wool blend which is really cute.
And some Noro. As usual - I discovered that I do buy other yarns from the sellers from which I get Noro, otherwise I don't bother. With the French ones, it was three skeins of Yamato and one skein of something apparently Noro-ish but not Yamato. More silk in it.
Then there's Miho which is thin viscose thread and it's lovable and useless. Twenty skeins of Yamabiko and nine skeins of the other Asuka. I should go on yarn diet.
I'm testing the bamboo socks. They are too loose and shapeless to wear but they feel nice. The fabric has become totally flat on the soles (pic not shown) and I'm really curious how long will it take before they fall apart. I have a kilo of this yarn so I'll need to invent an alternative use, I guess.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Linköping finished

I finished the second sock. It came out a bit wider than the previous one, I skipped some k2togs past heel but who the heck cares. The yarn is pretty, the pattern is pretty. I want to give it a try, it's bamboo and definitely sock yarn and since I have some business plans with the yarn, I need to test how long would the socks last. I wore them to the post office and they absorbed all the dirt from my shoes but they felt nice. And, since bamboo is not the slightest stretchy, they are very non-obstructive to the verge of falling off so they need to be knitted in stretchy stitches.
Pics someday.

Wonderful life

Note: This post contains some politically incorrect opinions. Politically correct minds, self-approved mind police, Ministry of Love and similar institutions should not read any further and if they do, they've been warned.

The sweater didn't want to be knitted, apparently. After starting it too wide, too small, on wrong needles and badly in a few other ways of which some demonstrated only after knitting up three balls, I cast on for the umpteenth time. I screwed the provisional cast on again so I had to cut out the extra thread but I survived. Two and half balls later I discovered that I knitted a Moebius. I checked before turning in the picot edge. I checked after. I swear it wasn't there.
I asked for expert advice on Ravelry and I was told that the yarn doesn't want to be knitted and that it deserves some spa time in My Stash and maybe some treat. I bought chocolates. Maybe the yarn would rather like eggnog latte or roast duck sandwich but I don't have these.
I went to the post office, I should have had a parcel there and an oversize letter. The letters from today weren't there yet (no I do not understand how come that the postwoman tosses the card that I have bulky mail at the post office even before it's at the post office. Time loop?). I waited in a queue, apparently a ton of people is getting Christmas gifts from mail order catalogues. Guessing from the envelopes and boxes, from bad ones.
The postmistress told me that I have another parcel for which some custom fees have to be paid (Noro, yea). I didn't have money enough because I had done some shopping on the way there and.... there should be a card from the parcel service that they were at my place, banged the door and nobody answered. I always get only the second card that the postwoman brings some two or three days before the parcel is sent back. Some of my mail was returned because some lazyass is lazy to do the deliveries, they write Wasn't at home to the ledger and go for a beer. I couldn't get the parcel (the Post doesn't accept cards), I gave in another 50min queue at the letter till and went home. Tomorrow I'm going to do some serious complaining - the bad thing is that the parcel service is operated separately, the local post just gets what wasn't delivered by the parcel department so that people can pick it. I'll have to call some idiots somewhere but I'll do it and I'll enjoy. Luckily the returned mail was local, imagining that I'd have my parcel returned to Japan or U. S. or Mars is really freaking me out. It was tough enough to explain that I do can pick my mail, that I'm not the idiot, to the natives who know the local ways.
Yes, it was yarn. French designer yarns (Lovely Dorothee Bis tweed, for example), some Yamato and a skein without tag that looked extremely Noro-ish but it wasn't Yamato as the seller thought and there's simply no tag. I'll have to dig in my collection and check - there's lots of silk in it but that's all clues.

When I'm shopping on eBay, I sometimes wonder what the Americans think of a buyer from somewhere out there. I guess Czech Republic is much less known than, say, Iraq. Sometimes the sellers are worried about the postal services here. The local post office is a bit anally retentive and it gives mail out in chunks, not as it is arriving and sometimes the mail gets stuck at the customs clearance but the postmen do not get eaten by wolves, there are no evil postal thieves in the local deserts who would steal my yarns and sell them to slavery.... but, for most of the world we are some small country across half of the world and since the people in the faraway lands always have only civil wars, floods and famines, awful dictators and such - our TV news show that too, just the list of faraway countries is different - people worry about mail.
This lady took precautions. She nicely wrapped the box in brown paper which she secured with several miles of duct tape - good quality tape. Under the brown paper, there was a Smirnoff vodka carton, possibly to dissuade wolves who are known for not liking booze. Or maybe to dissuade the feral Iraquis or wherever beyond known universe the parcel goes. Again, secured by a few more miles of duct tape. It took me half an hour to dig my way in the parcel. Well done.... but not necessary. But, I'll make the box into a kitty house, it's the right size. It's reinforced by the tape, it'll last.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Thai-Italian fusion

I'm not a renowned cook but I'm working on it.
Today's recipe is crazy but...

one onion
some zucchini
any veggies you fancy
one bag of red Thai sauce
a bottle of Chianti
any pasta you fancy
oil*, salt
Heat the oil in asaucepan, throw in chopped onion and the Thai sauce and let it fry. When the pan contents become sticky, toss in chopped vegetables and a bit of salt and put the lid on. Let it simmer and then add a glass of wine. Reduce theliquid and meantime prepare any pasta or rice you fancy. To be more fusion, mix them. When there's brown goo between pieces of veggies, add another glass of wine, stir, let warm up a bit and serve immediately. There needs to be some alcohol.
Parmesan is not necessary. I haven't decided whether I like the sauce but I'm having second serving of it. With spinach tortellini.

*olive oil. Almond or trouffle oil is sorta spice and that frying crap is not oil.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Things gone bad

Did I already mention the family business? Possibly so.
There is the publishing house where I grew up. Then, there's my father who is the owner and The Chief. And he's thinking about selling the whole thing to the Finns.
Nothing against Finns, nothing against anything. But, this is my playground and I do not want to share it with anyone, Finns or whoever.
The only problem is, to take the publishing house over, I would have to work with my father - he's a nice person but impossible to work with. I hate some of his ways, like letting some issues just rot away, I hate his attitude to people (kick their asses to make them work better - might work on cleaners but people with two Ph.D.s do not really appreciate it), he's also surrounding himself with inept people to stand out as the smartest one. And, he has this way of telling people what to do: Go there, I don't know where, get that, I don't know what and how come that it's not done yet. I know I cannot work with him or else we kill each other within a few days - we're both too strong personalities with views too different. I worked with him in the past and I've had enough.
Yes, getting some financial support from a multinational something would be nice, there are some economical problems, mainly because The Chief is playing with cars instead of doing economy and blames my mother (the editor-in-chief called also The Bestest Boss - not by me, we argue a lot) that she should do more. Like, doing the editing and supervising ten people, writing her own stuff, doing the PR, marketing, going to schools, inventing advertising campaigns and teaching at universities and maybe she could sit on a stationary bicycle and make some electricity, too. Anyhow, getting a partner would mean that the place wouldn't be my playground anymore. I'm a generous person but there are a few things I do not share. Books, money, underwear, toothbrushes and playgrounds. Selling the publishing house off - well, for me it makes no difference whether it's owned and ran by someone else or closed down. It's not, then.
It's not sold yet, there are some proceedings and negotiations going on and I hope the Finns will find out that the whole thing sucks and they do not want it anyway. But, I just have to decide what to do - if I say Hey, I want this, I'm quitting school and I want to run the house, I'll get it. But I don't want to quit school. Nor want I to decide that I'll get the Ph.D. first and then I'll go run the house instead of doing research.
The school sucks. The general attitude the Ph.D. students is Don't go to school, don't block the hallways and don't bother and I'd like to learn something yet which means going abroad (for which I need to get some scholarship somewhere with which I cannot expect any help from the school). And if I wanted to do some serious research, I suppose I'd have to move abroad.

What the hell should I do? I have no idea.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Something for the world

Chicken with chesnut and apple stuffing
1 chicken
a handful of chesnuts
5 apples of your preference
a cup of millet flakes
1 egg
salt, pepper, oregano, oil

Stuffing: Roast the chesnuts and chop them. Soak the millet flakes, throw inthe chesnuts, chop one of the apples and throw it in, too. Add one apple, salt, spice generously.
Stuff the stuffing into the chicken.
Roast until the chicken starts falling apart in a well oiled baking tray at some 200 degrees. Celsius, please. Pour over with water from time to time. Ten minutes before you decide it finished, add the remaining apples and stuffing.

One of my ad hoc recipes.

I've been writing all day long so I deserve a nice dinner. Next time it'll be something soaked in wine.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Caffeine and allergy pills

One day I'll be having nice, healthy breakfasts. One very distant day.
I just want to feel normal. I had a bit of problems with breathing and I wonder whether the aggravation of all my allergy problems is mental (and it'll go away when I'll stop thinking about it) or whether it's real. In any case, it sucks. I'm not getting rid of my food obsession, I still love to cook and I love to eat the good stuff. It just makes me sick.
Yesterday we were to see the Swan Lake in the State Opera. I hate the State Opera, it's for snobs. Yes, I know it, it's not just my biased opinion, I used to share a room with a student of marketing who worked there in the PR department and I was explicitly told that they aren't really interested in local audience because the Czechs have no culture and cannot appreciate the high artistic values of their production and in general, they are hillbillies and rednecks. I got some tickets from the abovementioned roommate and the opera was nice indeed, Dvořák's Dimitri. It was even better when I closed my eyes.
The Swan lake wasn't bad. I've seen the same piece in the National Theatre in the spring with much more boring stage design. However, the choreography was the same old Ivanov and Petipa - showy but mildly boring. Sometimes looking too much like working out in a group, sometimes like a series of little for everybody to show what they know. I admit, Bournonville's Academy(or what's its name) looks similar but it's the point of it. Yes, the ballet was a kitsch. Total showy lovable kitsch:D Ivana made some pictures and promised to send them someday.
Yet, there was an extremely nnoying thing. Bad floor that squeaked when the dancers were doing turns. And bad shoes. Imagine twenty pairs of pointe shoes (hard tip, you know) banging on the bad floor when there's good acoustics. I heard the stomping when there was loud music and it wasn't only when the whole corps was landing after a jump, it was even the little steps. Yes, I'm the biggest advocate of GM pointes and I might be biased because I never had any pointe shoes and after seeing the inside of others with the rough fabric glued onto cardboard or what the hell it is made of, my feet hurt. I value my feet too much to try the old-fashioned type and I just don't get it, why someone still uses them.

I was digging thru Facebook. I don't really use it more than as a sort of address book, there are other communities to talk and play. I came across the pics of Kristina, a long time friend and... she's so beautiful. She looks good on pics and I wonder why she isn't on the front page of Vogue. Maybe I should move to Paris to get the look, too:D

Monday, December 03, 2007


I finished the shrug, now it's blocking. I wanted to hand wash it only but it was still leaving tons of lanolin (did they wash the yarn at all?) so I tossed it in the washing machine. I have a suspicion that the lanolin will be washing off for quite a time, the yarn is still somewhat stiff and dense but it's getting better with every wash - you do not want to know what came off when I washed the skeins (they felt greasy to me just when I touched them). But I didn't wash all the skeins and I might have grabbed an unwashed one. I'm not the most ordinate person in the world.
It wasn't too easy to be yarn-ordinate in my room which was flooded in yarn. I should have taken the 'before' picture but I did not. But, basically, there was a huge heap of yarn by the wall and random bags and skeins in all possible and impossible places.
I sorted everything out - a box for leftovers and small amounts,another for large amounts of get-me-rid-of-this, big plastic bag for acrylics.... put it to my Ravelry stash folder and what I do not need or I do not have any use for, went for sale. Handpaints on etsy, commercial yarns on Ravelry trade/sell page. I posted a note on the local knitting forum and know what? Within two hours I found new happy owners of more than a kilo of baby acrylic yarns. For non-knitters: that's a huge bag. Not that huge as the one on the pic, around a third of it. And, I have some nice handdyed sock yarn, folks. Mean the Christmas.
I couldn't resist displaying my collection. Lots of very nice yarn. I have it not for knitting but for having it. Do not ask why, go pet your collection of coffee cups or whatever you have. Yes, you too.
This one arrived in today's mail. Rare piece.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Funny little things

I have a rash on my face and hands. It itches. It certainly doesn't look sexy. I hate all my damn allergies.
I started the day with oversleeping. At 0815 I was to be at the station (ten minutes walking, ten minutes on the bus) but at eight I was still in bed (yes, I was ebaying in the night so I had a break in sleeping at 3 a.m. Got those two skeins of Noro Miho, though). It took me three minutes to get out of the house (cleaning teeth included) and I got to the train - I was late for the meeting but there was almost no-one to meet.
We were to a nice little trip with a handful of the Erasmus students (pics later, I'm too lazy to find the camera), had a nice little hike and it was cool. It's always cool when there's only a handful of people but it's not economically viable. I took my knitting (lots of time on the train) but I forgot to take the needles.
I've been to theatre with Ivana to see a performance of the ballet of the Slovak National Theatre which was the modern ballet I like. Based on classic, with pointes and stuff, but not a museum. There's going to be some original Bournonville in May, too - I've seen some Bournonville choreographies in Copenhagen and they were not museum pieces, though, although 200 years old. The point is somewhere else, I'd say
And, thinking of the performance, I wonder how one does the entrelac with jumping? I have hard time to manage it on the ground. End of geeky rants.
I'm finishing Jane's shrug. I'll wash it tomorrow - Jane, I have allergy to fabric softener, I'll use my hair shampoo. Warning, it's something organic made of cade and lavender and it has a very specific smokey scent. It'll wash away.