Sunday, April 30, 2006

M'Aidez

...May Day

Went to Kew Gardens with my Amma. It was a beautiful day, mostly, and I chose it because rain is promised for the rest of the holiday weekend. When the sun showed, it was hot enough to burn the top of my feet in their boots. When it went behind the clouds, the breeze blew cold and everyone put their jackets on.


The Pagoda

It was an idyllic day overall, full of people wandering, gawking, laughing, and taking photos of blossoms and birds. No rushing, just lots of peace and contentment and dawdling, just the way a spring weekend ought to be.



I do go on don't I? We were there for the Woodland Wonders spring festival. In the main area in front of Queen Charlotte's Cottage, there was a little arena surrounded by bales of hay for us to sit on. In the centre, a Maypole where the Right Royal Revelers did a couple of May dances and a Mumming play about St George and the Dragon.
Then there were Morris Dancers. Yay! (I am sure some of you remember my rant about the loss of English rural traditions starting with the dancing.)



The Queen's cottage, a quaint thatched summer playhouse, was open to the public for the first time.



It consisted of a downstairs room, an upstairs room, a cute corner closet within a closet, and a kitchen/scullery area with only four calling bells for the servants. There were two costumed actresses (representing daughters of George III and Queen Charlotte) who taught all the little girls how to curtsey and back out of the presence of royalty.



The rest of the fair was full of tents and stalls with wool spinning, lathe pole turning, pottery, broom-making, basket-weaving, felt art, carpentry, hedge-laying; working horses pulling logs, longbow archery, and:

A birds of prey arena, where I touched a Brown Owl!!!!!!! I LOVE owls. I love the way the word rounds out of the mouth too.
I felt the softness of the back of its head and as my fingers ran down its back, I felt also the warmth of its body through its wings.




Wow.



The hunting demonstration was performed by a gorgeous Barn Owl called Poppy.



Even in the park itself there was so much to see. I have not been to Kew since I can remember, so it was all new for me. We saw Temperate House (a giant conservatory), the Pagoda (now open to climb the 50 metres, affording great views of London), King William's temple (dedicated to those who served in a couple of contemporary wars), a cuuuute Japanese gateway (I forgot to take a pic), a ruined gateway (ooh mystery), even a Redwood grove!


King William's Temple



A pheasant. Doesn't look real, does it?

Afterwards we had sausages and mash, and tea and Victoria sponge cake in the Pavilion restaurant.

I got home past 8pm, and it was not fully dark even an hour later. I am enjoying all this daylight.

Friday, April 28, 2006

20sixers on fire

That lot on 20six are a breed apart!

This morning Diva posted about her fiance Nagnagnag looking, like men do, for something he thought he had lost. After a frantic surface glance around the house, he could not find it, as he had only lifted the top two top items of clothing from the pile, and Diva found it by lifting a third.

She continued:

As he pointed out when I had finished giggling at him, nagnagnag would make a hopeless detective, I can imagine the scene now:

Detective Insp Nags: Walks in to room and steps over a dead body.
"So, what's up here then?"
He looks about.
"Hmmm, nothing out of the ordinary."
Constable: "What about that sir?"
Points to dead body.
Detective Insp Nags: "Yes the carpet is awful, oh well there's no accounting for taste. Right, nothing doing here, let's go Constable."
Constable: "Errr, ok."
Detective Inspector Nags: As he turns to go
"*tut* What a waste of time, that's the fourth false alarm this week."
He trips over the body as he walks out.
"Mind the draught excluder Constable, it's rather large."



*sigh* You gotta love him ;o)

[Diva's stories are so funny they usually have me in tears...]

********************



In true 20six form, Ska Girl posted this story:

The Head Girl and the Firemen

I have just experienced quite the most satisfying verbal exchange in quite a long while:

As I made my way home about 10 minutes ago, I noticed a Fire Engine waiting at the lights as I crossed the road. I must at this point add that I like Firemen a lot - not just in a "hot-in-uniform" sort of way either, but in a "wow, you save lives and drive trucks with sirens" sort of way. They are cool.

As I reached the pavement parallel to them, I accidentally dropped a letter I had to post, and had to bend down to pick it up. This action caused my skirt to rise above my knee, exposing the shameful appearance of my stockings today.

One of the firemean shouted over:

"Oi, sweetheart, did you know you've got a ladder in your stockings?"

I replied, a little cockily:

"Actually, there's three!"

Not to be outdone, he came back with:

"Well, mine's bigger than yours!" (cue much laughter from the guys in the cab)

I was stunned. Yes, of course, your Fire Engine has a ladder which is easily, oooh, 100x bigger than the ones in my stockings. Normally, I would have just blushed and walked on, but no, the Power of Triple Espressos carried me through and with my most beguiling smile, I retorted:

"True. But you aren't climbing these ones!"

His co-Firemen all wooped at him, and I strutted off home, feeling a bit surprised, but rather smug.

*******************

Gotta love 'em indeed.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

[Edited]

I can't get online. At all! Frustrating to the extreme. Is it me or is it Wanadoo? Not that I could see your answers anyway...

**********

An hour later: I am back online after a whole day off, just wanted to point out that the lines above were sent from my mobile phone.


Steli - apologies for taking so long to write the Bosch blog.

**********

Tonight I went to the Arts Club to see a live harpsichord recital with violin accompaniment, of Handel, Scarlatti, and J.S. Bach.

Dinner on the club table in the dining room was amazing and consisted of the most interesting assortment of items I have ever seen arranged on one plate:

Three ballotines (stuffed, rolled, sliced) of guinea fowl on a little bed of cooked spinach with a light hint of mushroomy sauce, no doubt containing some sort of alcohol.
In front of that, a scoop of lightly mashed parsley potato set into a dollop of creamed spiced pumpkin.
Balanced on top of the guinea fowl was an actual foie gras entier (whole duck/goose liver), cooked to crispness outside and succulence inside.

(Apparently the fattened liver is a delicacy nearly up there with truffles.)

Everything on the plate was fun to eat in various combinations.

This eating adventure was followed by a neat little understated dessert - strawberries and cream in milles feuilles pastry with berry sorbet.

And then espresso to finish, as always.

I saw familiar faces and new ones; it probably takes a long time to meet all the members on a casual basis.
Everyone spots my potential. Some have interesting advice. A few know people I should contact. At least most people try...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Weekend prattling

My landlord finally gave me a bookcase yesterday evening, so I spent the day spring cleaning, y'know, doing the windows, picture rails, skirting boards and the corners. It felt great!

There seems to be a pattern. I spend the winter feeling low and lethargic, thinking, "Will I be like this forever?" and then - it happened last year too - there is one sunny day in April when I just spring to life and clean the room from top to bottom, windows wide open and curtains fluttering in the breeze.

That day was yesterday.

Today I have been wiping down all the dusty books that have spent the past two years stacked alongside the wall by my bed. They are all on shelves now, just about. I have some amazing books, it's so exciting to see them all again! I had to laugh when I went picked one up and exclaimed, "Oh my, I have a Dictionary of Theories?!".

There are more than 200! Half are art and history books and a couple of art historical tomes - so heavy that if you could throw it, you would kill a man at a few paces.

Then there are a lot of nice reference volumes, French/Italian/Latin/Icelandic dictionaries, some family antiques, a couple of box sets, a whole shelf of literary classics and fiction.
And a bothersome pile of Christie's magazines, useful magazines, auction catalogues, maps, and guides from absolutely every place I have visited in the past four years.

Remind me never to buy another book.




My shorter, straightened hair:



















Oven mitt from Jia Li in Newfoundland. It is handmade locally by a granny.
and metal bookmark from Denise in NYC. It's from Kate Spade's paperie in SoHo.





















Piccadilly Circus/Regent's Street.
It is at moments like these when I remember I love London:























A goose by the pond at Regent's Park:

Thursday, April 20, 2006

10 Impressions

I saw, heard, and thought of a million things today and will try to capture a handful of them for you.

1) I was roused from bed this morning by a rapping at my door: water dripping through the ceiling in the kitchen above the microwave (!)
My concealed toilet tank had cracked and indeed I could hear the drip. It must have happened overnight.
The plumber came right over, so when I returned home this evening, all was well.

2) I emailed the events coordinator at the Arts Club telling her I'd be dropping in a cheque this afternoon for two events this month. As I left the house I thought, "What if she has to contact me today for some reason?"
I dropped the cheque off.
Sure enough, I got home and found two emails from her saying that one event was cancelled and the other saying what should she now do with my cheque?
It was the best one - theatre and costume design! The other one is a harpsichord recital.

3) A man got on the Tube with me at St John's Wood. I was out gallivanting all afternoon. When I returned to SJW, there he was again, passing me on the up escalator. He recognised me and smiled.
I wonder where he went and what he did.

4) There are at least 5 hairdressers within a street of me, but I don't like them. Except for one year, I have been going to the same place in Knightsbridge since I came here.
My excellent Italian stylist has put a pink streak in her hair.
I was too hot to have tea and jaffa cakes :(
I ate the lemon slice in my glass of water without wincing.

5) On the Tube going home, I sat beside a man studying Classical Greek. He was writing on a sheet of paper covered with verb conjugations. Blast from the past! I wanted to tell him he was crazy. He saw me reading wide-eyed, and chuckled.

6) I went back home, changed my boots from heels to flats, put on a warmer jacket, and went off to Waitrose, where I promptly took it off in a sweat.
There was an insect leg in the bag of salad I nearly bought.
I did buy a bag of half-fat Caesar salad. It tastes funny, and I have not finished it.
I bought a can of condensed milk to put on my hot buttered toast in the morning. You should try it sometime if you don't mind licking sticky fingers.

7) I looked at all the chimney pots on the houses along Acacia Avenue on the way home.
I began to think I like chimneys, when really I just like blackbirds sitting on them, singing.
And there is a magnolia tree a few doors down. I can't wait to smell it.

8) Can you tell I watched Amelie last night?
Mon dieu! Moi, je suis Amelie! Ou, presque...

9) On Saturday, my landlord is giving me a bookcase. He wants to make it two, but that would involve me losing my long mirror and kidney-shaped makeup table between the two windows.

10) There was a film crew filming through the window at the local grocer's. I spent a while in there, choosing bits n bobs. I wonder if I'm on it.

I'm falling asleep, but haven't had my tea yet.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April outfit, etc




Flowers in my hair and a rabbit by my side.
What more could a girl want?














Why does being a PA terrify me?

(Link opens in new window.)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bank Holiday thoughts

Ummmmm did I say I was feeling better on Friday? From the nausea, maybe, but I was still unwell until Sunday. I got so fed UP.
I slept 10 hours on Saturday night and woke up way after the local Easter service had started! So much for that.

It was sad, an Easter Sunday at home. In the afternoon I thought I'd go out for a walk and sit for a while in the park. It threatened to drizzle. On the way back I popped into Boots and picked up some Imodium.

When I got home all I wanted to do was sleep.

I had no idea diarrhea took this much out of you. Oh. Ha ha.

Today I feel quite perky, not a day too soon as I am to go to a friend's house this afternoon. Today I really really want to vacuum my room.
Is that asking too much of myself too soon?

I had brown toast and ginger jam for breakfast and all's quiet. Whew.
[Edit] Yes! It's a good thing I'm all better, we had homemade Indian food for dinner. It was nyummy.

**********

Oh, I've just got off the phone with my oldest friend. Her parents have always been extremely restrictive regarding her dating life. Mine would have been free if I'd actually had the opportunity - they are shockingly so now (much unlike I expected).

She hasn't really dated much - while I've been on plenty of first dates. Last year, she and I dated and broke up with guys around the same time. Our first real possibilities. Other than that, we're pretty naive.

Ironically, she's been going out this year with a guy she met 10 years ago and they both liked each other, but her father said no. I guess Greek parents don't let their kids make mistakes.

I told her it was just as well - they might have matured, changed and then grown apart. Still, that's the way to learn isn't it?
But then, they wouldn't have had this opportunity. And he has remembered her for 10 years.

Today they are seamless. They both know they are going to marry each other.

Hello, my turn next, thank you very much.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Slightly Easter-ish

Started feeling a bit better this evening. I had a bowl of apple porridge for dinner. Yums. A bit easier to think of than soup.


Cammie

So. I was telling one of the 20sixers (Sunshinechick) about the chicken I had in Texas. It was a real white one that ate, pooped, and laid loads of double-yolked eggs for the heck of it.

When it was a baby, I called it Cammie (why???) and held my breath hoping it wouldn't grow into a stupid rooster. It thought I was its mummy. It would take naps under my shirt and then emerge to poop on a tissue.

If I set it on the floor at one end of the room and walked towards the other, it would run pell mell for my feet. Before I even reached the other side of the room I'd be tripping over the little thing!

At bedtime, I'd wrap it snugly in a little felt cloth and pop it in - funny enough - a mini easter egg basket. If the cloth loosened an iota, in the middle of the night, Cammie would set to cheeping until I got up and re-wrapped it.

Cammie died while we were on holiday. While she started running away from me, she developed quite a nice relationship with my uncle. He'd sit on the deck drinking a beer and she'd hang about at his feet. One day, a dog came in and mauled her.


Silky

My first chicken was a really interesting one, a Japanese silky:






















They are born nekkid and black! They are the ugliest, bitsiest-looking things when their feathers are coming through. But once that's over, poof! A powder puff on legs. When I bathed her, she was a sorry shivering lump, but as she dried she went poof again and smelled good too :P

I called her Silky (original!), she used to purr if I scratched her neck and the top of her head, a tuft she could not reach. Also, she would never eat tidbits if we threw them in front of her. Only out of the hand, oh la.
And finally, her little eggs (one every couple of days, because we used to feed her Layette pellets) had a pretty ivory shell and the yolks were a rich reddish orange.

These precious eggs she refused to lay outdoors. She always, always came indoors. We would follow her round the living room with a cloth as she pranced about choosing a chair. Up she'd jump onto the couch, pick a bit, get the cloth stuffed under her.
Nope, not good enough.
Down we go again.
How about the wing chair? Give that a try...nope.
Hop off indignantly.
Maybe the club chair. Hm, this will do. I'll lay here, if you please.

It all started because Mum begged me to have a chicken. She said it was a good experience because she remembered the rooster her Dad used to favour. He called him William. The two of them spent hours on the verandah together. William....*snigger*


Thingy

This one is the most unusual. We had loads of zebra finches over the years.
















The one on the left is a female - she is buff grey all over and the only decoration she owns is her tear drop cheeks. Some females are white all over with black teardrops. We've had both types.

They all successfully nested like this:

















Love and Joy had Peace and Hope, etc.

Our last pair was Meep and Minnie (in the US). Meep comes from the plaintive little sound they make - you can always set them off in a flurry of meeps if you do it too.

Meep refused to be a mother. She would sit on the eggs, hatch them, starve and then smother the little babbies with the bedding. We removed the nest. My parents and I stood there in dismay, counting the flattened dead chicks. I could take it no more. Rather than throttle Meep, I decided to rescue the last survivor.

Yes, I was in charge of my own hatchling, and though normally timid and flighty, they can be pretty friendly if hand-reared.



















Looooooook! It was so pathetic and teeny I called it Thingy. Even now, I miss it...
The wee little thing was so cold in my hand.
Good heavens, what to feed it?
Leftover baby formula from when Mum babysat the neighbour's son!
How?
With the tip of a toothpick, painstakingly, in the palm of my hand.
No worries, I have patience for this kind of thing. Wanted to be a vet once.

Thingy grew! Without even setting an alarm, I got up every two hours to feed him (I am going to be such a good Mum!), always keeping a preparation of formula on my bedside table. Thingy slept there in a tiny shallow basket lined with cotton pads under a warm desk lamp.

Thingy started to sprout fluff like the ones in the photo above. He got strong enough to flip about a bit. One day, at feeding time, he uttered a wee lil' squeak! I was so excited I squeaked too!

But then one day we had to make the long drive between Houston and Dallas in the middle of the ever-scorching 100-degree summer sun. Protected somewhat by coastal humidity in Houston, the sun becomes prickly and relentless in Dallas. Fry an egg on the bonnet and all that. As I drove, Mum did all she could to shield Thingy from sunlight. We made it.

But then Thingy died the next day from the noxious fumes after my Gran went overboard with bug spray in the next room, chasing a cockroach.

I mean, he was just beginning to get excited about greeting me at feeding time!!! He was even strong enough to flip over in my palm. I had a little cry.

If we hadn't gone to flipping Dallas, where nothing ever went right anyway, I would have had a tame Zebra finch.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Apologies for this rare rant

For the past couple of days I have not been feeling myself. At first I thought I was just getting over the stress of hosting my guests. If that were the case, there'd be no excuse for feeling bad today too.

Yesterday, my head hurt and I was just exhausted all over. In the evening, I made an effort to go out and stock up my food supplies. Came back, managed dinner, and crashed with all my clothes on at 1.30am, woke up at 4, flossed my teeth (on a whim), showered, and slept 6 more hours.

Today, my stomach hurts as well as my back which is affecting my legs too. Twinges of pain here and there. Ugh.
And because I was fighting with my shopping on the way home, my wrists, arms and shoulders ache too. As well as where the shopping trolley has left bruises up my calves.

I feel like rubbish overall.

But I toiled away all day today, missing the bank hours, so I got my prettily handwritten application in the front door at a certain company as they were closing for the weekend - but my rent will be late.
I was then able to pick up some antacid at a pharmacy - not a day too soon as I need it right now.

Now I think about it, the last time I felt so inexplicably crappy was when I was about 16. A number of things converged at one time: giant final exams, after which I went home and cried all over my mother's lap. Plus, packing up the house to move 300 miles south, to Houston. On the last day, I lay on my bed with a fever and an aching spine while my parents took down my curtains and things...And in the car on the 4 hour drive down next day, I was dosed up on Imodium to keep my bowels in.

Lassitude is a good word. As I type this, I could roll over onto my bed with my jeans on...right now...

Maybe I will look for a Detox course at a health food store.

I want my mummy. For hugs and her lovely voice.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

So, the past few days...

Past few days (take 2)
Vanessa and Troy had spent a few days near Frankfurt, for an old friend's wedding. V lived a few years there as a child, and T was stationed there once in the US Army.

Sunday, they arrive:
1) Took them to their hotel in Swiss Cottage to drop off their luggage. Spotted the farmer's market.
2) Early dinner at Cumin, Indian restaurant at the 02 Centre on Finchley Road.
3) Back to my place to rest, hang out, have tea and biscuits. They checked emails and we gossiped. I trimmed my nails and as I was not doing a good enough job, Troy buffed them up to a serious shine. Then he did Vanessa's. She's not a makeup/perfume/nails kind of girl, so I had to beg her. Then he did his.

Monday, my birthday:
1) Breakfast at Cafe Rouge - you have to try that place. It's better than Cafe Richoux.
2) We went to M&S so V could buy some more British undies.
3) Leisurely wander along Oxford St (T has a dud knee and needs a walking stick)
4) Walked slowly to Yauatcha on Broadwick Street. Dim Sum and cocktails downstairs.
I had a long violet and raspberry cocktail. V had a long pear and lychee cocktail. Containing 3 different alcohols, mine was stronger than hers.
5) When it comes to Yauatcha, dessert is another event, upstairs.
I had a Shanghai Lily: a light sponge surrounded with cream, encased in a white chocolate shell topped with rose jam. In the centre is a delicious heart of shredded lychee marinated in sweet white Gewurtztraminer wine.
Vanessa had a Marron Rose: a flavoured creamy souffle with a centre of yummy marron glacé (sugared chestnuts).
And a floral tea, as they were out of orchid, my fave.
(T didn't want anything.)
6) Walk to Piccadilly Circus at twilight for the best photo opportunities, on the way to the Arts Club, where we lounged in the bistro and had coffee/red wine and a cigar until 10.30 pm.

Tuesday, long day:
1) Late morning, we met and had lunch at the 02 Centre. T wanted fish and chips before leaving London, and as there wasn't time to go all the way out to my place in Richmond, I decided Wetherspoons was most likely to offer a good deal. Some of the worst chish n fips I've eaten in this country.
2) I went off to my voice course for 2, which over-ran until 8pm! We had lashings of tea and Jaffa cakes, though. So I wasn't starving when I went back to Swiss Cottage to meet V&T. They did nothing today - he was tired - so the original plan for Tower Hill to Parliament didn't happen.
3) Dinner at a Thai restaurant at 9pm.
4) Farewells.
5) Got halfway down the escalator at the station, then remembered I was still carrying the white chocolate I'd bought Vanessa some time ago. I ran back up, went to the hotel and she came and met me in the lounge.
6) We ended up sharing one square of chocolate and chatting in the lounge till 11.30. The only time she and I spent together, so we had a nice tete-a-tete.

My whole life I've wanted a sister - and I got one in Vanessa 6 years ago :)
I am thankful that she has visited me every year since I moved back here.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Birthday Buff

Vanessa, my old uni roomie is visiting for a few days.

Her boyfriend buffed my nails, then hers, then his.

He offered after I'd trimmed and filed them, obviously feeling I wasn't doing a good enough job - which I wasn't: I can now see my reflection in my thumbnail.

Then I persuaded her to let him do hers and she relented. Miss Vanessa is not the nail/perfume/makeup type, but I argued that lots of girls would do anything to have a boyfriend who did that.

I wanted to fall asleep when he was doing them, like when you get the shiatsu head massage at the hairdresser. I am now determined to start going back to salons for manicures, pedicures and massages. Anything for well-being these days...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Star Blogs & Egyptian Iwen

1) In typical style, Steliano has written an outstanding post on the decision tree and trusting one's intuition.
In part of my comment I dealt with a line he had written:

"Life has no memory, why should we?"

Because we are the are the ones that experience life. Life is a process, and we are sentient beings who learn from it. Our brains are the nets that catch life and keep it as it flows through us.


2) Rebecca blogged today about a wedding she is attending this weekend near Venice:

Italians tend to get married in the late morning. This way you have a 7 hour lunch and then go home and die and then go to the hospital and then come home again and sleep.

Tops! It is my favourite sentence from her entire blog so far, and she produces some real gems, I tell you.

**********

Iwen...

...is Egyptian for colour, appearance, character, being, nature. It was integral to every person and every object in ancient Egypt.

The Egyptians used a limited palette and every colour was believed to hold certain qualities. Because of this, they were carefully paired for the utmost effect.

For instance:
1. Gold and Silver - the duality of opposites, like sun and moon.
2. Red and White - the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt.
3. Green and Black - two aspects of regeneration.


I. Black - kem -- fertility, new life, resurrection

This is the colour of the fertile silt left by the annual Nile floods. Ancient Egypt was called Kemet, the black land. It symbolises the agricultural processes facilitated by the all-important floods.

Osiris, resurrected god of the dead, was known as "the black one". It was the colour of the underworld, where the sun regenerated every night. Used on paintings and sculpture, black was expected to invoke the process of regeneration.

It was also the standard hair colour and used to represent the skin of the Nubians and Kushites, people from the lands south of Egypt.


II. White - hedj -- purity, cleanliness, sacredness, simplicity

This is the colour of tools, sacred objects and animals, even priests' sandals. In real life, clothing was undyed linen and translated easily to art.

Silver is also hedj but written in the determinative case (grammar) signifying precious metals. This is the colour of the sun at dawn, the moon and stars. Since silver was rarer than gold in Egypt, it was the most valued.


III. Blue
- irtyu -- the heavens, dominion of the gods, water, floods

The Egyptians favoured semi-precious blue stones such as azurite (tefer) and lapis lazuli (khesbedj). The degree to which the stones were ground determined the shade of blue produced, from fine light blue to coarse royal blue.

Synthetic blue became known in the medieval world as Egyptian blue.

Lapis lazuli, imported across the Sinai desert at great cost, produced the deepest blue and represented the colour of the hair of the gods and the face of the god Amun and the Pharaohs associated with him.


IV. Green - wahdj -- fresh growth, vegetation, new life, well-being, resurrection
The hieroglyph is a papyrus stem and frond.

This was the colour of the "Eye of Horus" (wedjat) which had healing and protective powers.
In Egypt, to "do green things" meant to behave in a positive, life-affirming manner.

Written in the determinative case to signify minerals (hieroglyph = three grains of sand), wahdj was the word for malachite, which represented joy.

The Egyptians were able to manufacture a green pigment, verdigris, or hes-byah, which means copper or bronze rust.

Turquoise (mefkhat) was highly valued and came from Sinai. It represented joy and the colour of the sun's rays at dawn. The goddess Hathor, Lady of Turquoise, controlled the destiny of newborn babies and so this was a colour of prophecy and foretelling.


V. Yellow
- khenet -- the sun, perfection

It was used to represent women's skin and the skin of Mediterranean neighbours such as Libyans, Syrians, the Bedouin, Hittites.

Synthetic yellow was made of lead antimonite which renders pale, but the original name is unknown. It is difficult to distinguish today because lead white deepens to yellow, whereas the strong yellow of orpiment fades with time.

(Orange was considered a yellow because the name "orange" only came into use when the fruits spread from China in the middle ages.)

Gold (newb) represented the skin of the gods in sculpture and symbolised eternity and indestructibility. Gold leaf was therefore used on sarcophagi because the pharaoh had become a god.
In painting, the gods' skin was represented by yellow, reddish-yellow, blue, green, or black.


VI. Red
- deshr -- chaos, disorder, destructive fire, fury, danger
Hieroglyph: the desert-dwelling ibis

This represented the desert (deshret, red land) which was the opposite of the fertile land (kemet, black land). The principle red, ochre, was obtained from the desert itself.

It was the colour of Seth, god of chaos and death. Accordingly, outcasts were exiled to the desert. The desert was also the door to the underworld.

Chaos red was the opposite of pure white. Deathly red was the opposite of renewing green or black.

Simultaneously, red symbolised the life-giving function of blood and the life-supporting role of fire, and so was often used in the colour of protective amulets.



(source: Alistair Boddy-Evans)

Too sleepy to find a better image...

Osiris, from the Book of the Dead


Thursday, April 06, 2006

Hold it

I wanted to blog about the symbolic use of colour in Egyptian wall paintings but I am too sleepy having battered my brain in a 5 hour "meeting" that ended at 8.

So watch this space...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Eating

Eton twice in one day.

Only two days' notice! This morning an invitation to some party in honour of the birthday of Queen Margerethe II of Denmark. I know, what?

Oh! It's because she is an artist...

There will be lots of lobster and clam chowder finished off with an Eton Mess**, traditionally served at the school on the 4th June for parents' visiting day.

The dress code is lounge suits, so what do girls wear?

And now I am watching Tom Parker Bowles (Camilla's son) at the Rowlands tuck shop* at Eton where he went to school, of course.
He is a food writer now.

*No English school experience is complete without the requisite tuck shop. Students flock to the nearest with their pocket change to buy absolute junk food: bacon rolls, doughnuts, marshmallows, chocolate bars and so on.

**Recipes differ slightly, but it goes something like this:

Eton Mess

450g (1 lb) - Strawberries (and some raspberries?)
375ml (12 fl oz) - Double or Whipping cream (or Greek yoghurt)
6 - Meringues
75 ml (2½ fl oz) - Kirsch (or Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
A few sprigs Mint (optional)

Chop and hull the strawberries, reserving a few for decoration.
Place in a bowl and add the kirsch, cover and chill for 2-3 hours.
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, fold in the strawberries and juices
Crush the meringues and fold into the mixture
Spoon into small sundae dishes or wine glasses, decorate with the reserved strawberries (some raspberries) and a sprig of mint.
Serve immediately.

**********

Speaking of food, I have too many teas for one person:

1) Brooke Bond Choicest Blend (so strong I can use one bag twice)
2) Fortnum & Mason Orange Pekoe (so perfectly translucent it deserves bone china)
3) Twinings "& Rose" (boring)
4) Twinings Lady Grey (going off it)
5) Betty's of Harrogate tea with rose petals (thirst-quenchingly delicate)
6) Ayurvedic lime and aloe vera Detox (necessary evil)
7) Jasmine leaf & petal tea (unbelievably fragrant, from a shop lined with drawers and jars)
8) Chinese gunpowder green tea (in a box I cannot read)
9) Birt & Tang Ginger with clove and apple (haven't tried it yet)
10) Marks & Spencer Chamomile, Limeflower and Lavender (makes me go mmmmm...)

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ten billion tonnes???

10,000,000,000

1010

I can't even imagine even ten thousand or ten million tonnes of anything...
The average car weighs ONE tonne...

But ten billion tonnes is how much ash and pumice were spewed out by Mount Vesuvius.

Rescue parties from Rome were so overwhelmed by the destruction, they just turned back in despair and Pompeii faded from memory.
It was discovered by chance in 1954 during the building of an aqueduct.

























Mt Vesuvius across the Bay of Naples



I knowwwww, I only blogged about the super volcano a week ago...but...last weekend I saw the docudrama about Pompeii's last day.

Remember when I was in there in December, I wanted to cry when I saw some of the casts:



























(I want to replace this pic with a more artistic version)





In the last stages, some died from breathing hydrochloric acid.

Then there was the pyroclastic flow.
The first breath burned the lungs, causing them to fill with fluid. Breathing fire.
The second breath took in ash which created a cement-like mix. Suffocation.
The third breath solidified it. Slow death.

In other areas, there was the superheated gas which vapourised flesh, caused the brain to boil, and teeth and bones to explode.


Such blasts only occur once every 2,000 years. The original inhabitants did not know that Vesuvius was a volcano. The first readers of Pliny's account did not even believe his story. This must mean that the mountain's previous eruption occurred before written history.

The ancients did not know disaster like we do...

Today, 3 million people live in the shadow of Vesuvius.
79 AD...
























Half her original size and still intimidating

Meantime I am writing a post on 20six about the
Art of Letters

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Eeeeeeeee

I put this up on 20six last night and it caused quite a stir, so here it is for you all too:
**********

Heeeelp!

A giant bumblebee came in my room - as big as my fist - I have a small fist - but that still makes a big bee --- !

I ran out of the room screaming, and it was bumbling all over the place. This is sooo why they call them bumble bees. Finally it knocked itself out on the hot lightbulbs. By the time I crept in, spotted it by my boots, and emptied the water glass to pop on top of it, the thing was off again.

I ran out of the room screaming part deux. It stunned itself again, but this time I have no idea where it fell. I considered sitting on the stairs for a while.

But obviously I am back in my recliner, every moment half expecting something to crawl up my leg. Having just typed that, my feet are way off the ground now!

And my tea is stone cold...

Where is the intruder?

Wanted: knight in shining armour to rescue damsel in distress.


UPDATE

Well, my overnight guest decided to wake up at 9.30 am exactly, when it buzzed out of wherever it had slept.

I ran out of the room part trois but I didn't scream this time. It skipped the open window and headed straight for the closed one. Bumble, bumble, bumble, it went, against the glass...

I came back in and sprayed it with a room scent, but the thing was so big it didn't slow down. When it realised it had been doused, it sat on the middle ledge of the sash to wipe itself off. Meantime, I pushed the top sash down so that all I had to do was pop the flyswat down and flip the bee out.


Bye bye, Bumble Bee.

**********

I think she was a queen, so she could sting. She had awoken from her winter slumber and was off looking for a new home where she could found another colony.