Thursday, 23 December 2010

Walking In The Air

Yeah, I know, I know, just because we in the western world are celebrating something called christmas doesn't mean the whole world will suddenly be overflowing with joy and goodwill. But for a moment here, I would like to allow myself the liberty of not thinking about it. Of just being here, in the moment. Enjoying the scent of the Sweet Corn Casserole sneaking from the oven, the candles and the christmas tree lights, the heat of the radiator against which I'm sitting, and the warmth of my mulled cider. The Daughter is visiting a friend and will be back in a while, but right now it's just me, music and cooking. I'm quite sure I have forgotten something, but whatever it will end up being I think I will survive without. I predicted that I would end up being all sweaty and harassed come today, the 23rd, but weirdly enough I have not been quite this calm and happy in a long, long time. Strange. But lovely.

Yesterday was the fall season ending at the Daughter's kindergarten, and I made some cakes for her teachers as a thank you for their efforts during this time. I think they have done a lovely job with my indeed joyful but admittedly quick-tempered little girl, not everybody would have gotten her so well, since while I do not advocate brattish, impolite behavior, I also do not think children should be made into mindless, copycat drones of each others. So here are the cakes...

... which were decorated with your basic marzipan and sugar paste. Though I'm not a fan of marzipan myself, I ended up having to use it for the white parts since quite a lot of my sugar paste had dried beyond salvation. The cake itself is basic vanilla sponge, filled with vanilla custard and apple and cinnamon sauce for which I just cooked some chopped apples with cinnamon and sugar until mushy.

So, now I have stuck the Sweetcorn Casserole in the oven, and am just whiling away the time. Ooops. Just remembered I still have two presents to pack, one of which is for the Daughter, so I better get that done now before she gets back. See you in a sec. 

Ok, done. Books are such a joy to pack.

And now I'm going to turn on the heat in the oven to get a nice golden crust on the Sweetcorn Thingy and start preparing the Smoked Salmon Salad. All nice and easy. And when my Daughter gets back I'm going to watch this film with her...

...and munch on some Tuna Melts. And before you go all damn-that-woman let me tell you that during these past two days alone I have managed to set off the fire alarm four, yes, FOUR times because I have made something, errrr, smoky, in the kitchen. I have walked into at least three doors due to silly absentmindedness and poured one cup of coffee and one of tea on a tray instead of the cup as I simply forgot that the cup would be needed at all. And as I said before, I am certain that I have forgotten something, quite possibly quite a few things, but honestly, I don't care. My heart is warm and my mind is calm, for once, so maybe this, indeed is the long sought after Christmas Spirit? And on that note, my dears, gotta fly now, the smoke alarm is making strange beeps, I guess the casserole must be ready then...

Have Yourself a Peaceful Christmas, Everyone.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

You know, I had this long, thought-out post all ready to be sent out today, but right now I just don't feel like doing that. Maybe I will post it one of these days, maybe not, but not today. At this moment I am again sitting next to my Daughter's bed, waiting for her to fall asleep. She said to me that she's ' contemplating things'. My three-year old 'contemplates' things before she falls asleep a lot. Some evenings, this declaration is followed by the strangest of questions or comments, some funny, some so serious that I have to reach out to hold her while I explain to her whatever it is that has puzzled her that particular day. Not too long ago, after this 'contemplation' she asked me almost in tears about how can a heart die and turn to stone. Well, knowing that this was the direct result of a children's movie she'd seen earlier in the day, it wasn't too hard to soothe her and pretty soon she was indeed dozing off. But this is a child whose questions generally can not be dodged with some inane 'made for kids' answers, and quite often it is her questions that make me stop and think about the 'made for adults' answers to her questions. What makes a heart die and turn to stone indeed?

I took that picture today of my kitchen window. It is filled with these little icy flowers, and I am supposed to be having something done about it to stop it from getting so. But I don't want to nor do I intend to. I think it's beautiful. Nature's own work of art. My neighbors worry that us 'girls' are freezing in here, but really, it's perfectly warm. I grew up in an oldish wooden house in which all the windows froze like this in the winter, and in which the outer hall was so cold during the winter months that it could double up as a freezer. And for a long, long time, we did not even have a shower room in the same building, but had to run to the sauna across our yard. Wonderful in the summer when you could just sit outside and cool down after  bathing. Not so wonderful in the winter when unless you wrapped up your head in towels the end of your hair would turn into little icicles. And your eyelashes did that anyway. 

Yep, happens in Alaska too...

But to this day, I hardly ever get cold, even at seriously freezing temperatures. Except, of course,  for my fingers and toes that suffer from Raynayd's and are usually very, very cold to touch, but then again, the saying does go...

My heart must be boiling then.

Today I had my family over for lunch. My other Sister is visiting from south and I just felt like this house needed some delicious cooking aromas, some chatter, laughter and the warmth of having it filled with people you love. So, perhaps to deal with the chill outside I decided to go for something decidedly more warm, Jambalaya, served with Corn Bread and a dessert of Mississippi Mud Pie. Or so was my intention. Well, the Jambalaya came out nicely and even my Father took seconds and thirds, and he is not known to be a friend of anything all that spicy. But the Corn Bread, well, it was not to be since I simply forgot to buy the corn. So in the end I made the Corn Bread sans the Corn, and just slapped some cheese on top. Interesting, my dears, interesting.... Usually I use this recipe because it has the actual sweetcorn in it instead of just the cornmeal, and Ido have to say that cornbread is one of my all time favorite breads. Highly recommended. 

And here's the Jambalaya...

... for which I diced 1 green bell pepper and 1 red bell pepper followed with 5 stalks of celery, 2 onions and 3 cloves of garlic. I then heated up around 60 grams of butter in a heavy bottomed pan, and added the vegetables stirring constantly to coat them in the butter. Next, I added some Cajun Spice Mixture for which I gave the recipe in an earlier post about crayfish, and followed this by adding 3 cups of uncooked long grain rice. Stir the rice, spices and vegetables well. Then I poured in about 500 ml of dry, white wine. You could obviously use stock, but having tried that I must say it really does not give the same kind of flavor the wine does. Again, stir well. Next, in goes a can of tomatoes, about 400 grams, chopped, and the cubed fish of which I used about half a kilo of. You can use any type of white fish, and seafood too, or just go with different sorts of meat. Now, leave to simmer until the rice is cooked, mixing every now and then with a wooden spoon. Enjoy.

For dessert, I was intending to make a Mississippi Mud Pie as per this recipe from my old and well dirtied up Cajun and Creole Cookbook...

... and my dears, that is the only picture you will ever see of that particular piece of cake. Sure, my cake did make it to the table, and sure, we did eat it and it certainly tasted delightful but frankly, it looked rather alarming, slightly extraterrestial one might say. Or just plain Out Of Space. But I do recommend it anyway, just take heed of my mistakes which are as follows...

For the bottom, instead of the one in my book, go with Martha and just replace some of the flour with dark cocoa powder. And by the way, one cup equals 2,5 desilitres.... Then, do NOT take the ice cream out to 'warm up 15 minutes before cooking time' or it will not be cold enough to handle the oven. Now, this was not the first time I have made merengue covered ice -cream in the oven and was frankly quite puzzled by this advise, which I should indeed just have promptly discarded. So, scoop the vanilla and chocolate (well, I used vanilla and strawberry...) ice-cream on top of the thoroughly cooled bottom. And BEFORE you do this, have the merengue ready. Sure, the merengue does not keep, but neither does the ice-cream. So, for the merengue, take 4 egg whites and around 3 cups of granulated sugar and whisk until STIFF. And I mean STIFF. You should be able to tip the bowl and not have the mixture immediately fall on the floor or it will indeed fall on the bottom of your oven. Next, scoop the merengue on top of the ice-cream and gently lift into the oven at 200C. Bake until the merengue is golden, 5 minutes max. Take out and serve immediately. This is one of those dishes that does not wait.  

NOTE! After having seriously wondered about this recipe myself, seeing as this was not the first time dealing with mudcakes for me, and after having some feedback from a friend who is somewhat familiar with them as well, I have come to a conclusion that there must be some sort of mistake in my cookbook here as this is much more like Baked Alaska than any kind of mudcake. 

So, the dessert was tasty but looked like some sort of nuclear fall-out mushroom. The Corn Bread was nice but it had no corn. Sometimes, I really do make rather epic mistakes in the kitchen and yeah, I improvise a lot but usually, it all works out in the end. Lovely lunch was had by all and regardless of some rather mad and messy moments in the kitchen it's been one of the most peaceful and happy days for me in a long, long time. 

And now it is time for me to wrap up this evening. A new week looms ahead. These past few weeks have been very tough, now it is literally and officially a whole new era in life for me. And you know what, I think I'm going to be just fine.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Learning A New Way To Sit Will Change Your Life...or something...

This weeks headlines from top womens magazines as seen while either queuing for the cashier in the supermarket or waiting to hear your name being called at the hospital lab...'' Two Weeks to a Happy Life''. '' Learning a New Way to Sit Will Change Your Life.'' And of course, the one that promised to tell me how to ''Have the Best Christmas Ever'' just by choosing the right nail polish color and suitably foxy lingerie. Now, I have nothing against new and mind-blowing ways of sitting, and as to the nail polish, well, it's just, you know, nail polish, it's not like we're going to build world peace by just choosing the right color or brand. And lingerie, well, I just realised that unlike in the English language, in my mother tongue we don't even have the division between underwear and lingerie. What does that tell you? No wonder they need to run these headlines in the magazines, the lingerie business would go bust if it were left to us practically minded ladies to choose our underwear. Bust, eh? Just call me the queen of the bad pun. And as to the first one, the one promising happy life in two weeks, I can not even begin to imagine what that would entail. It all reminds me of another headline I remember from last summer that caught my eye, this time it was one extolling the virtues of  ''Learning Your True Buttock Shape''. And then what? Or maybe I just really need to learn my true buttock shape in order to be able to truly appreciate the wisdom that goes into making these headlines. Right. I'll pass.

Bette Davis, 1939.
But I bet she had no delusions
about the miraculous
powers of her nail polish.

And as the endless queue in the supermarket was slowly inching it's way forward, another header for an article in an entirely different type of magazine loomed my way. '' Ten Steps to No Christmas Stress''. I bet the first real step in that direction would be not to buy that magazine and to not read those 'ten steps'. Come on now, we are talking about a stay-at-home-mum oriented family magazine here. And if you are a stay-at-home-mum prone to Christmas stress, then I bet buying a magazine otherwise full of things to make and do for Christmas, going through them, and then on top of that, reading a list of ten things more that you can do in order to avoid that said stress that I bet just got hell of a lot worse, would be really rather unproductive, to say the least. Phew. Now, I used to be a stay-at-home-mum, and loved it. I loved the time I got to spend with my Daughter. But I was not then, nor am I now, prone to Christmas stress. Granted, I still haven't gotten all the decorations up and will probably, again, send my Christmas cards on the 23rd or something, but in the end I know that the actual Christmas will be just fine. Who cares if my hummus and eggplant spreads look rather alarmingly like wall-paper glue, and everybody just looks all ''well, ahemmm, interesting, very interesting'' when you present them with your giant capers as starters. 

Thats me, right, 
getting ready to serve yet another
of my delightful Christmas Day

Yeah, sounds a bit strangely Middle-Eastern for a Scandinavian Christmas menu, doesn't it. You see, I am not too fond of the actual traditional Christmas Food that's supposed to be eaten on Christmas Eve, so I leave taking care of that to my Mother. And they leave coming up with something for a loooooong lunch on the 25th to me. Weehey. So, last year they got a vaguely Middle-Eastern spread. Don't get me wrong, some of it was actually pretty good and went down nicely, unlike the eggplant spread that I found still lurking in my Mother's fridge quite a few weeks later. I haven't yet decided what to do this year, but sushi, anyone? Just kidding. I think that might be stretching my family's open-minded Christmas spirit just a tad too far. 

That pretty much sums us up.

I've also been thinking about what attracts us to each others, again, thanks to that unbelievably slow queue. Another headline, I think this one was in Cosmo or something. '' You Fell for Your Man's Smell''. Okey dokey. Without going further into evolution biology, I can only say that the advertising agency responsible for those AXE ads must be behind this one. But what is it that attracts us to each other? I recently read an article in another magazine in which the woman being interviewed claimed to have two 'Men Types' that she always goes for. The skinny, artistic type, and the burly, beary sort of fellow. Her words, not mine... I never understood what was it that people mean by this. Are they implying that those outward characteristics come attached to certain personality types? That all 'skinny, artistic types' are the same? By this rationale, let's imagine a man claiming his type to be tall, green eyed blondes with big boobs and pouty lips. What do you think he's looking for? Well, he would most likely be in for one hell of a disappointment should he be unfortunate enough to mistake me for his 'type'. And trust me, many have.

So you think you know what she's like?
You sure?

And maybe it is precisely because of this that I find this  'my type' business based on looks so absurd, unless, of course, you really do not care one whit about what's on the inside. To me, some people just 'have it', regardless of their looks, and I have had the weirdest of incidents in my life to prove that. Case in point. Quite a few years ago I was sitting at the Brussels airport, in Belgium, waiting to board a plane to Lisbon, minding my own business, when I saw a pair of sneakers appearing on the floor in front of me. ''Mam, would you mind taking part in our survey? It would only take a few minutes?'' said a voice on top of the sneakers. I lifted my eyes from my book already mouthing the words ' no thank you' when suddenly I found myself smiling from ear to ear as I could not help but stare into the eyes of the increasingly red faced young man in front of me. To this day I could not tell you what he looked like, only that it was certainly nothing out of the ordinary, but we ended up doing the survey while grinning like idiots and I boarded the plane feeling all giddy and light. Attraction, pure and simple. But what was it that I was attracted to? His looks? Hardly. His personality? Very unlikely. So, what was it then?

And to further prove my point. This time at the Frankfurt airport. What is it with me and airports... Well, at one time in my life I seemed to be spending so much time at airports no wonder I ended up meeting all sorts of curious characters there. Well, this time I was approached in a cafe by one super confident, super smooth man asking if he could sit at my table. Seeing that most of the chairs at most of the other tables were taken, I said he could. The result? A full on flirt attack. That left me just plain bored bored bored and wishing he would just go away already. Sure, he would've ticked all the women's magazine boxes for a stereotypically handsome, stylish and witty male, but there was just simply nothing there. Nothing. Maybe, based on my outward appearance he thought I was something I am not. Well, tough. 

And it's been a tough few weeks here for me too, like I said in the previous post. Eight years ago at the end of November I got married. This year, about the same time, the divorce decree came through. I have changed my name, and am finding it rather weird to look at my new, old name. It's going to take some time before I get used to signing it again. People being born and dying. Falling ill and getting better. Life, I guess you could say. My youngest sister brought this angel cookie cutter set from her recent trip to Berlin, and I have yet to put it to use. Maybe tomorrow I should just bake some sugary sweet vanilla cookies for the Daughter's kindergarten class. I've already taken them a batch of gingerbread and another one of gooey chocolate chip cookies, and let's just say they were not complaining. What can I say. I like to cook. I like to bake. The kids like to eat what I bake and there always seem to be some adventurous souls who are willing to brave my cooking. Perfect.

Thanks, Sis. 

And yeah, I just realised that I have actually bought one Christmas Present. One. And I don't think I have the faintest of ideas where my address book is. Hard to send those cards without addresses. Blimey. And no, I haven't made a single present yet either. So how many days was it again until Christmas? Ten? Oh, but no worries then, it'll all sort itself out. I'll just make myself a nice cup of hot cocoa, dunk some marshmallows in there and just sit and relax. Isn't that what the 'holiday spirit' is about anyway? And I bet I won't be saying that come the 23rd...

Monday, 6 December 2010

Song of Peace

Today is our Independence Day. On the 6th of December 1917, our country became independent from Russia, and has been ever since. This day is not celebrated by parades or parties, but rather with quiet contemplation, this independence was not won easily. 

And this suits me today. This morning I received sad news, and don't mind just spending the day enjoying the little, ordinary things in life. Playing with my Daughter. The gingerbread men in the oven. The quietly falling snow and the ice rink waiting for us outside. Today we're going to try ice skating. My Daughter for the first time in her life, and me for the first time in years. I hope my ankles won't mind too much. And I'm going to be thankful for my life. It is certainly not all that I wanted it to be, but it's life, and I still have it. And today, that's enough.

Hug your loved ones. Give them kisses to last a lifetime. Tell them how much you care.

And to you, my love, from here to eternity.

Joan Baez sings Finlandia by Jean Sibelius.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Weird Cakes and Crazy Contortions

Cold! Cooooold!!!! I just arrived home and am trying to warm myself up on the sofa, curled under my lovely, fluffy, green wool blanket. The wind is coming in from Siberia, no, really, it is, and that combined with the -23C ( -9.5F ) temperature does not for a very welcoming weather make. Sure, it's very pretty out there for the few moments the sun is up, but damn, this is not the normal weather for this time of the year. Not even here. I just count myself lucky that I get to cuddle up in here surrounded by candlelight, a good book waiting to be opened on the table and some good, dry red breathing in the kitchen. 

And no kids. Yeah, you read right. No kids. And for the past 24 hours I've had two. I know, I know, now all of you with more than one kid of your own are shaking your head and tsktskking to yourself, but let me explain. Last night we had my cousin's almost ten years old Daughter for a sleepover, and while she is, I think, a very lovely, affectionate girl, she also comes with a host of issues which tend to make her, well, a handful. And I can only bow down to those parents of children with 'special needs' who just keep on going, keep on loving and doing the best they can. I am exhausted after only 24 hours. Granted, I am not healthy, but still. All I can say is, respect. 

So, now I haven't got a single kid here. How come? Well, my Daughter is staying over at her Grandparents, which is always fun for her, and tonight she was going to do some baking with her Grandfather... And let me tell you, this must be the only occasion and the only thing my Father bakes. And they make these...

...for which I don't think there is even a word in English. It's fish and lard, yeah, lard, baked into a crust of rye. Supposedly delicious, some say. And it's probably already obvious that it's not exactly one of my favourites. I've never made it and can't remember the last time I ate it. And I don't intend to, either. Should you want to make and taste it, however, the BBC actually has a recipe in English here. But, regardless of what they actually bake, they both love these baking sessions and frankly speaking I doubt if the end result is what matters here...

I had been meaning to take my Daughter and our sleepover girly out to play this morning, but the weather really thought otherwise, and seeing that I really had to come up with something for them to do if I wanted to have a snowflakes chance in hell of keeping the house in one piece 'till the afternoon, so foolish as I am, I suggested we bake a cake. My oh my. By the time I realised my mistake it was obviously way too late so I decided to just throw reason out of the window ( not exactly first time, that one... ) and just go with the flow. And what the flow brought us was this. The wondrous result of two pairs of hands dipping into all sorts of jars and bags and '' Can we put this in?'' being answered all too many times with '' Yeah, why not. Just dump it in.''

A heart shaped sort-of chocolate cake with pink cream cheese topping and four birthday candles. Why? Because the girls saw the candles in the cupboard and decided candles were in order. So birthday candles it was. And surprisingly enough the cake tasted rather nice, all chocolatey and squidgy, despite really having been, literally, thrown together from whatever happened to be lurking in the kitchen cupboard. So forgive me if I won't post a recipe here but it was indeed tasty, in a kiddy kind of way, and what's most important, the girls were mightily proud of their cake.

Besides the cold, weird chocolate cakes and even weirder traditional fishythingies I've been thinking a lot lately about genes. Well, not in the research sense of the word, but rather as how and what we transfer on to our kids. You see, my Daughter is a very beautiful child. And she is going to be a very beautiful woman some day, but she looks very little like me. Most of her looks she's inherited from her paternal Grandmother, and fine by me that is, she is and was a beautiful woman, but this my Daughter not looking all that much like me has lead to some mightily hilarious incidents. While people, even complete strangers, tend to comment on how beautiful she is, they almost invariably also tend to continue with ''...but she hardly looks like you at all!'' Yeah. Right. And after that they, depending on the level of brain action on the speakers part, either blush bright red or continue completely oblivious to what it was they just blurted out. Frankly, I have always found this hilarious, since I know fully what they mean. 

And with her growing older, getting nearer to the age of maybe starting a hobby, I have thought a lot about whether I tend to push her into a certain direction, or whether it is just that she somehow naturally leans towards the same things I like? Or is that due to what she's been exposed to? Does she prefer ballet over football because I do? Does she like gymnastics because I, unwittingly, tend to encourage her in that direction? I don't know, but I do know that she also shows a definite talent in those areas. She is naturally very athletic and flexible and loves music and dancing. But whether or not I want her to choose that path is an entirely different matter altogether. Let me show you something here. This is Rhythmic Sports Gymnastics. My thing...

Beautiful, huh...

And slightly sick too if I may say so myself...

You see, I do hold very fond memories of my time as a gymnast, but I think some of my biggest issues, bodywise, and yeah, as far as my previous and still somewhat existing attitude towards what could be considered 'human weakness' go, stem from that same time. What it is is a discipline I have not seen much elsewhere. Ballet yes, but other than that, no. We are talking about training schedules and weight regimes, not to mention the mentality building so severe that without it I would now be even quite a bit taller than I am and would have started puberty years earlier than I did. Not good. So not good.

 Esthetically, I still love it... but I am more aware now than I think I ever was about the truly dark side of this 'sport' as well, of what it takes to get there...

Been there, done that.

Yes, I remember.

I was lucky in not having problems staying thin, so while many, many others suffered from various eating disorders, I pretty much threw the prescribed diets out of the window. But that did not keep me from internalising the dogma of thin equaling good, and it has taken me decades to grow out of it. And to give myself a break from the ' you'll stop when you faint' attitude. But despite all that, there are lessons learned during those tough years that I can still say I am happy I got to learn. That I got to know that in the end, you can take much more than you thought you could. And if you don't try, you will never find out just how much you can take. I learned that I am strong, both physically and mentally, and knowing this has taken me through many a sticky situation and time in my life. I also learned that I have an innate sense of 'enough is enough' as was proven time and again when my Trainer just simply pushed me too far and received a ball, clubs or whatever happened to be in my hands thrown at her as I stormed out of the training hall. Sure, the next day I would be back as any a good little gymnast but never did I let her make me into a tired, crying wreck. Which I have, unfortunately, seen done as well and of which I fear she was not entirely above of.

So while I do appreciate the beauty, and the discipline to a certain degree, I do wish my Daughter never decides to want to become a competitive gymnast. Or a ballerina. Both, she will be allowed to try but I can only keep my fingers crossed and hope that she decides to choose to continue on something less punishing, like my younger Sister did by changing from gymnastics to competitive show dance. Dance, music, movement - good. Doing it until you literally can no longer move or think - bad. 

So, I don't know. Am I doing her a disfavor by even introducing her to these things? But how could I just shut her out of what is, still, such a huge part of my life? Sigh. Parenting. Lovely it is but I do guess no-one ever said it was going to be easy.

Now, however, that I think I have thoroughly been warmed by both my blankie and my red, I think I am going to cut myself a piece of some rather freakish choccy cake, grab my book and just sink deeper into my oh so soft sofa. No trainer here to admonish me now. No sound in my head telling me to jump higher, run faster, eat less and just 'bloody wrap that leg around your head now already'. And indeed, nobody here to slap my stomach for it being too 'bulging' either...


And the tunes for tonight come here...

Sunday, 21 November 2010


Green. The spring leaf green of childhood. The deep green of being an adult. Being 'green'. Living green. Recently I have found myself being pulled towards all things green, and a friend of mine said while patting my new green, fluffy woollen blanket that green is the color of the heart chakra. Well now, I don't know about chakras, but green somehow just feels right to me now.  As for living green, I could certainly do more. Who couldn't. I could buy organic. Recycle more. Not love driving my car as much as I do. Ok, that last one would be a pretty tough deal, but recycling, yeah, that I could do.

And what indeed is vintage but recycling. Yesterday I went to the Vintage Fair, and was hugely disappointed as far as the wares go. Or maybe I've just been abroad too much, but come on now! Overpriced, bad quality, very little variety. And yeah, ok so maybe I'm being a snob again but Vienna Naschmarkt, anyone? Any little weekend morning street market in any southern European country?? Les Puces in Paris??? I admit. I've been spoiled. But what was bugging me the most is that almost none of the stuff on offer was anything but your basic stuff from any little town flea-market, only priced about thrice the amount. Bahhumbug. I found exactly one dress I might have considered had it been priced reasonably, a 1940's dress along these lines...

But not only was it not priced correctly, 
it was also of very bad quality 
...heeohoy, I'll make one myself!

And that in mind I went scouring the aisles again looking for vintage patterns. Nothing! Shame! By now decidedly disappointed I started to go through the accessories. Bags. Now. I have more than enough vintage evening purses to last a lifetime, most of which I've had for years and will only add another one if I find something truly spectacular. Not going to happen here. Jewellery. Well, costume jewelery I can not wear, unless I wish to bloat to twice my size with rather fetching red rashes. Belts, no luck. Gloves, dismal. Hats, even worse. Hatpins, I found exactly three, all of them of very, very boring !!! By now you surely get the picture...

This, however, is 
like my trusted stand-by
evening bag bought
a decade ago, born 
half a century ago
and still having life in it for another.

If, however, the wares on offer were nothing to write home about, at least I spent some lovely time just people watching. Seemed to me that the 1950's are the decade here. Saw some really lovely ladies, especially one woman quite possibly in her fifties wearing a lovely secretarey pencil skirt with a fantastic 50's bad gal angora sweater, ankle boots and all. And the best thing about her was the way she was carrying herself, as if she was wearing what she wears every single day anyway. You see, that I think is the problem with full-on vintage dressing, the wearer disappears behind the clothes. The clothes start wearing you. And then everyone just gets uncomfortable.


Later on, in the bus to the centre I came across these two young people. I am saying young people as in maybe ten, fifteen years younger than me. A girl and a boy, I would say, though obviously they were young adults, but there was something very 'girl and a boy' about them. The girl was very pretty in a young, fresh-faced kind of way. Reddish brown short curls peeking from underneath a hand knitted deep green beret. Glasses, cutest dimples and an unlined,  pale skin. The boy was not from around here, which was obvious not only by his looks but by their use of english. American, he was, I realised before tuning out of their conversation as it became far too personal for my ears. Seeing them I could not help since they were sitting right there opposite me, but the least I could do was to try and give them an illusion of privacy by looking out of the window since I instantly recognised what was going on. They had spent the night, the weekend, the week, who knows, together, and now the boy was leaving. They were obviously in love and also obviously terrified. 

He kept taking her hand and kissing it. She kept leaning her head on his shoulder. Soon they were whispering. And I felt my heart go out for them. Who knows, maybe they will live happily ever after. A house, a car and two point five children... Or not. But even if they will not live together ever after, they will live. Very few people actually die from a broken heart. This I would like to tell them. Be brave. Live so you don't have to be sorry for the things you didn't do. But of course I don't, I just keep staring out of the window pretending I'm not even there. Then, an old woman gets on the bus, sits next to me, right in front of the boy. I see her lips purse into a tight line. See the disapproving way she keeps glancing at them. And I remember thinking to myself that I hope never in this life to become that, bitter. Life might not have shown me or show me now the peachiest of sides but why should I grudge other people their happiness? Especially since I know that there are very few of us who can walk through this life without getting punched a little here and a little more there. Ending up more on the bruised, autumn shade of green. So all the best for you two, lovebirds. May life be kind to you.

I didn't use to be like this, all well-wishing-dotty-cookie. Now don't get me wrong, I'm still no Buddha. I scream, I shout. When I get tired and upset I can be terribly mean to the people I love. Sometimes I rave against the 'injustice of it all'. And what what life has also made me is even less tolerant than before of ignorant, intentiously rude and mean people. And of bullshit, if you will pardon my french here. Life is too short. To be bitter or to listen to bullshit. Period.

Now, you better listen, kids,
no bullshit, you hear me?

I'm on my way home now. Sitting glamorously in an airport lobby with a glass of bubbly in my hand... Did you actually buy that for a second there? No? Thought so. But I am actually on my way home now, though instead of flying I'm taking an eleven hour trip by train, and instead of being glamorously dressed up in wiggly skirts and pin-up heels, I'm wearing a grey knitted woollen dress with an enormously long stripy woollen scarf around my neck. Come on, it's cold with a capital C out there. And heels? Yeah, sure, if you like to imagine my comfortable boots with  woolly knitted legwarmers as something they most certainly are not.  And my hair is in plaids. Glamorous, my middle name....But I am wearing the stiletto lipstick, does that count?

Winter fashion circa 1952
Not quite me...

That's more like it.
Though I'm not entirely sure
what that slightly creepy
poodle is doing there...

And love these hats.
Can see myself wearing one
pulled down over my ears.
Not the yellow one though, the 
resemblance to the Big Bird might
be a tad too close for comfort.

But honestly, as I was walking to the railway station, I saw this really fashionable young woman walking on the other side of the street. She was wearing a short, swingy camel coat in a sort of 1960's  style and a pair of rather swanky high heel ankle booties. Her hair was loooong and dark and glossy. And she looked like she was cold as hell. We're talking below zero here. With a wind freezing enough to make your nose shrivel and fall off. And she was wearing no pants, no skirt or dress that I could discern though there might have been a minuscule one hiding there under the coat. All you could see were miles of skin and bones leg clad in a thin veil of pantyhose. That poor girl did not even had enough padding under her own skin to keep her warm! And no hat! No gloves! Just a teeny tiny handbag. So I ask you, comfort or glamour? Freezing your ass off or looking like Puffa the Quilted Penguin? Well, me, I go for the penguin look, only add some stripy mittens and a fluffy grandma knitted hat as well. But each to their own. Certainly this young lady was looking very nice in her own way, but I wouldn't exactly call it sensible. But then again, I'm quite sure sensible was not the effect she was going for anyway...

That there is a genuine 1960's
swing coat, and I get it, 
it's supposed to be worn like this,
with bare or practically bare 
legs but honey, in that case
you're living in the wrong country.

And this dreadfully fashionable young lady would probably also never end up in the kind of stylistic ditch I've been the past couple of days. A word to the wise, do not color your hair using supermarket hair coloring especially if your hair is of a lighter than light shade of pale blond. You will end up with a weird color. If you're lucky you will end up with a nice shade of kitty pee. If not, a mop of green with some strategic bluish grey stripes shall be yours. I was not lucky. It's been a long, long time since I've tried to change my haircolor, and will not be doing it again any time soon. Thanks to some hair saving moves I am now pretty much back to my original blond color, but lovely as green is, both as a color and as a metaphor, flattering as a hair color it is not.

So, keep green, dears, only keep it out of  your hair. 

Friday, 19 November 2010

Rocking Chair Party Animal in A Ghost House

Yesterday morning I got up at 3 a.m. Total madness. Even with my plane leaving at six it was still way, way too early, and way, way too dark and cold to be up and about. And it was still way, way too cold almost four hours later sitting in the front of the airplane, the door for some mysterious reason open to let the freezing wind in and absolutely no heating on whatsoever. Me, I was by that time practically asleep anyway, but the old dears sitting next to me were practically turning blue. When somebody finally asked the stewardess, who, by the way, was also turning a fetching shade of purple, what the hell was going on she explained that the plane was being de-iced and therefore the engines could not be started to heat the cabin. Nice. I mean yeah, I wouldn't want to fly on a plane with frozen wings but I also don't think deepfreezing the passengers does much good for the airline publicity.

Gone are the golden days
of air travel...

Later yesterday afternoon, having listened to several hours of both pretentious, just-doing-this-because-it-sounds-brilliant sort of academic garbage and some absolutely brilliant pieces of research, I felt the need for some fresh air and during a coffee break decided to take a walk around the area surrounding the compound. And what did I find? My oh my. A little shop called the Vaudeville Boutique.

And this, of course, is the
legendary wiggle skirt.
Had one.
Lost it.
Want a new one.
They have it...

And speaking of occasions, last night I was supposed to be partying my head off with various academics and other strange creatures, but instead found myself sitting in a rocking chair in an empty one hundred years old wooden house by a lake before the evening had even turned into double digits. There were going to be other people arriving later, once they're done getting all wild and woolly eyed , but right then and there it was just me and the ghostlies in the candlelight. Yeah, I travel with a candle in a glass jar. Of course I do. Who doesn't? Adds instant atmosphere to the skankiest of hotel rooms. Just light the candle, turn off the lights and voila, the dirty, cigarrette smoke stained ceiling just disappeared. And somehow the left-over-from-the-80's furniture suddenly became mysteriously shadowy and alluring...

Not that this place would need any help from candles. Its perfectly old, shadowy and rickety all on its own. My Mother said as I was showing her pictures of this place that there are bound to be ghosts. Fine by me. Room for everyone. But seriously, this place is lovely...

The desk in my room with a 
nice cup of piping hot 

Last night I heard plenty of heavy
footsteps on the stairs...
...unfortunately it was just my 
wild and woolly eyed comrades trying
to climb the stairs to their bedroom upstairs.

This evening as I was coming back from a day of academia again, I decided to try the bus system and as the bus does not come all the way to the villa I had to walk quite a while to reach it...

...and now this warmblooded woman is taking herself to a well-earned, steaming hot bubble bath. Tomorrow shall be a day of vintage finds!