Tuesday 31 July 2012

Summertime! A very long blog post

Yesterday, I did one of those summertime things. I went to a lake/fishpond/whatever it's called in English; mom had said there should be wild plums.
Maybe there are, I don't know. I never came to the place where they are supposedly growing, because on the way there, I found abandoned apple trees - lots of them, guarded by fearsome stinging nettles.
And just by picking the apples I could reach easily, I brought home about 3 kg of apples. Glorious green tart summer apples, perfect for pies and other such things.

Now, let us interrupt the story with an advertisement...

Well, sort of.
-~- Accordion to Kellie Summertime Blog Party -~-
What is your favorite cold summer treat?
My all time favourite summer treat, forget cold, is a juicy green tart summer apple, picked from the tree, and all the things that can be made from it. Like apple strudel.

I forgot to put any sugar in it. An excuse to put even more sugar on top!

If you insist on "cold", it's lemon ice cream. Especially the lemon + mint + ginger ice cream that I once had. My sister made homemade ice cream recently, cherry (obviously), with excellent results (so excellent that I do not have a photo). There's mint growing in our garden, and lemon and ginger are easy to come by. Maybe I should try it.
But mango lassi is also good.
Ideal summer vacation?
 Anywhere with a forest (although Bohemian-Moravian Highlands don't hurt). And blueberries. Or blackberries. And little streams in the forest. Accessible by train. The possibility to visit historical sites, like a chateau. And nice people around.

The Konopiště chateau, the residence of Franz Ferdinand d'Este, which we visited with mom and sister and cousins back in 2008.
Favorite summertime sport?
 Alternating between basketball and softball; but both only when it's not too hot. And I'm not much of a sport girl to begin with. If hiking by any chance counts as a sport, it's definitely hiking.
Name your favorite book for the perfect summer afternoon read
 The best, perfect summer afternoon read was Silver Rose/Green Brigade. I found it in the library of a recreation centre/camp that belongs to my church; it's the sort of library where people put their library castoffs. It was an old book, from the 1940s (as I figured out much later), and some of the pages were still uncut (!). I carefully cut them, and read it one summer afternoon on a lakeside...
When I came to the camp next year, the book was in pieces, scattered over the whole library, and I could not put it back together.
(I saved several books from that library; until then, it felt like stealing, or borrowing for an indefinite time; after that, I kept them without regret.)

Currently, both me and my sister are immersed in the Brother Cadfael series. I found its awesomeness thanks to Lisa. I had encoutered it once or twice before, the name and the basic premise, but I had not bothered checking it out because back then it sounded like one of the countless "historical" novels that are to be found out there. You know, historical murder mystery? Solved by a monk? Sounds a lot like something riding the popularity of Name of the Rose. Thankfully, I know better now. It was written by a historian, it describes a time and place in English history that you rarely hear about (plus some Welsh history thrown into the mix, which you hear about even more rarely), and it was translated into Czech by two of the best Czech translators from English. Just that would suffice to mark them as books made of win; but it usually also has very good stories. ;-)
Current #1 summer goal:
 To organise and clean up my sewing supplies. Ideally also to sew something up in the process.
A favorite summertime memory
 Too many!
The one time I scored a homerun in softball at a summer camp? The times in the Baltic countries with my family, my first glimpse of the sea at the Curonian Spit, the crying of the seagulls, a field full of storks? The one time we celebrated Christmas in August? The many times I picked blueberries? The countless campfires, the songs, the starry skies? That one summer camp based around The Hobbit, and the night walk along a creek, with torches (real ones, not the electric sort) and the campfire under a rock cliff? The time I was learning to recognise plants, and the fact that I still recognise some of them? The smell of wild thyme? The smell of phloxes?
As I said, too many.

There's also a ModCloth giveaway running at Accordion to Kellie. I'm not sure I want to win it myself (overseas shipping, you know?), but hey, maybe you want. :-)

Do you still remember I was telling a story?

The story is a story of "luck sides with the prepared." In this case, someone equipped with a camera.
As I walked towards the farther end of the lake, bag full of apples and still hoping to find some plums, I noticed a bird in the creek that runs alongside the lake. I thought it to be a duck, but gave it a second thought and turned back, to see it was not a duck.

I do not know what it is, but it is certainly not something seen every day.

Then some people passed me (actually, one of them was a librarian lady that I like to chat with when I go to the library, walking her dogs). The birds disappeared under the plants at the farther bank. And as I waited for them to reappear...

A muskrat came out. It swam to a spot just in front of me, and sat there, cleaning itself, and pretty much ignored the fact that there was a human silently watching it just some four meters away.
And since I stood there for quite some time, watching and photographing the birds and the muskrat, all the time carrying three kilos of apples on one shoulder, I never came to the other end of the lake where the plums are growing. When the muskrat swam away again, I turned back.

And encountered one more being.

Before I reached home, on the lower end of the block, I realised there was a beautiful rose. I'm not so keen on roses as such, but yellow (as the one we have) and orange and yellow-and-orange, and this very slightly orange-ish pink, are very pretty.

Yellow and orange roses smell of carrots to me. That's why I love them.

Friday 27 July 2012

How to find an easy happiness and fill your house with books

(OK, so maybe the happiness part doesn't work for everyone, but I had to make up a title for this post, you see?)

Have you by any chance seen Neil Gaiman's library?
Neil Gaiman's quickly become one of my favourite authors, and favourite person(alitie)s. For things like his blog, full of links to interesting things I'd otherwise never learn about, The Graveyard Book, keeping bees (which I've never done, and probably never will, but totally consider a normal thing to do that most people unfortunately don't do anymore) and liking G.K. Chesterton. And his library.
When I first saw the photos of his library, I thought "wow" and "how did he achieve that?"
Then I looked at my room and thought: "He's just older than me. When I'm as old as him, I might need a library like that."

Not all of these books are mine (some of the dictionaries are family-owned), but most of them are. They don't fit in. This is only one of three bookcases/shelves I currently occupy. The books still do not fit in. The detective stories are cheerfully overflowing their alotted space (and I only limit myself to five writers!). The collection of Czech classics is inexplicably growing. The interview books and historical novels squeezed between the dictionaries are just that: squeezed. My books by Finnish authors are forced to democratically (but not always equally) share space with my comic books. The sewing and crafty books groan under the weight of Russian and British history (but Russian history is much heavier). One more Gaiman and I'm done for...

I'm slightly envious of my sister's new tidy bookcases. But it's only thanks to them that my books do not threaten to kill me anymore.

See? Tidy and pretty. I can't keep mine that way. I just can't help it. Books keep entering my possession.

For one thing, the local library keeps selling off old books, duplicates, for 1 CZK a piece. THAT, my dear readers, is not a bargain. I don't think there even is a word for THAT.

And they started another project: people can bring their duplicate or otherwise unwanted books there. They either keep them in the library, or put them into a bookcase outside the library, where people can pick them for free. How cool is that?

As a result of having a fantastic local library (which I have every intention of supporting; how many small town libraries keep lots of Baltic literature?), my own library is growing.

With pieces like these:

 I don't think you have to speak Czech to recognise this.

 Anne of Green Gables and her Czech counterparts Gabra and Málinka

Rupert was new to me, but apparently he is quite big in the English speaking world. About half a year ago, I saw a reprint in the English section of a large Prague bookshop. So yes, they are worn and tatty, but they're the original from 1950s and I am so lucky to have them.

This 1983 Slovakian book on embroidery has one of the most "unappetising" covers I've ever seen. (A book on embroidery and the largest part of the cover is filled with a lamp?! Not to mention the awful composition of the text in the image...)
Inside, it's droolworthy.

It even shows the wrong side of the embroidery techniques!

Last time I visited (Tuesday), I bought Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie, four books of the Truth and Justice pentalogy by Anton Hansen Tammsaare (sadly, one was missing) and one more book by him. I'm well on my way to needing Neil Gaiman's library.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Finally, photos of Kaksi

You know, the Hard to Photograph One.

"Surely you put this up here for me?"

(My sister wanted to air her duvet. She did not count on the line hanging so low under the weight.)

Oh, and two posts on the same issue that you should read if you have not yet.
The Dreamstress on (not) valueing textiles.
Stephanie on the real value of artefacts.
That's what the "Museums" tag is for.

Monday 23 July 2012

Meet Ema

Janul's new overlocker (and Janul herself) reminded me I have not shown you my new sewing machine yet.
So here she is, in all her baby chubbiness and baby colours.

She IS a baby, compared to the old treadle Singer sitting outside under a plastic cover and a pile of wooden palettes. I don't know much about the old Singer; it's allegedly not working. One day, I will pull it out and find out, but for now, I have Ema.
She's even a baby compared to the Lucznik. The Lucznik did not have a name; it was the one and only sewing machine I knew, and it was so mechanical and so well-worn that it did not need a name; it had a personality on its own: a bit too stubborn but a hard worker (and while we're at it, it's a he). But then this shiny smooth new thing came along and needed a name to fit in. So it became Ema.
Ema, because Ema is a favourite name with alphabet book writers, and she's such a baby.

Ema is a Singer Tradition 2259. The "tradition" part is rather ridiculous, but I'm not complaining. It probably means it's not computerised; that, for me, means it's very similar to the Lucznik (which, mother tells me, was pretty much an Eastern block Singer knockoff). So using it is quite intuitive for me. AND the bobbins are interchangeable.
Sadly, the feet are not. Ema has flashy modern snap-on feet. Like, you know, ballet flats. Lucznik's feet are screw-on, strurdier; like combat boots. Thus, unfortunately, Ema cannot do the gathering that was a blast with one of the Lucznik's feet. And Lucznik's zipper foot is much better than Ema's.

But Ema's got a scallop stitch.

Lucznik's backstitching was much easier. The "lever" held in place on its own. You need to hold Ema's "lever" in place yourself, and you kind of wish you had three or four hands when you do that.

But Ema is portable.

And sewing sleeves on Ema is MUCH easier. And since I insist on having sleeves on my clothes...

Saturday 21 July 2012

New acquisitions (something must go)

I entered a thrift shop (one of those I enter quite often), and found several things; I came home with two.

This cost me only 20 CZK. Because it promotes someone else's Alma Mater - the shop sits across the street from the Faculty of Arts, which makes a sweatshirt from the technical university almost contraband... But hey, that should not be a problem for a seamstress, right? It's a very quality material, made in the Czech Republic (that's rare!), and a lovely colour at that.


It comes with a fun little special something, too. The previous owner wrote "This is mine!!!" on the tag. It was, unwittingly, clever. Now it is mine!!!

And a hat. A fabulous hat, with a very vintage-y shape.


And the ribbon matches my tote!

These lovely new acquisitions are, also, a reminder to me to go through my T-shirt stash. I have lots and lots of T-shirts, mostly of the "workclothes" kind, and wear only a fraction of them regularly. Some must go.

Saturday 14 July 2012

Oona, you made my day

Yesterday was a cloudy, rainy, cold (17 degrees Celsius? What a summer!) day when I felt like doing nothing but sleeping.
Then my sister went to the mailbox and said there was some fabric for me.
Fabric? I thought.

Fabric indeed. Oona, you may claim to be a selfish brat, but your Pay It Forward is fabulous!

Fabric bangles, as promised. Just the thing to wear with my orange T-shirt. Or my beige T-shirts. Or my blues. Clever.

The aforementioned fabric. The roses look familiar - or is it just me? They demand to be a lacy dress overlay, somehow. The other fabric, an embroidered shiny blue fabulousness that cannot be as well seen on the photo as I thought, probably wants to be a fabulous shiny blue embroidered skirt. Together, the fabrics reminded me of my beloved Latvian mittens.

And then there's the CD, "Oona's Jumpin' July".

Oona, have you been peeking into my house the last ten years or so? Because that's exactly what I do. Jump around.
I must admit not all of the songs are my cup of tea, but others are very much so, so it balances out. The last one? Wow.

Now I must finally gather my wits and courage and material and everything and do my PIF. I like that acronym, don't you?