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Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

New view

Not-so-new-but-still-dreamy job still messing with my blogging habit. Newly moved to a great little flat in the center of the small coastal town I think I am going to call my home for a long while. As my various views have been a key part of this blog over the years, I hereby continue this tradition by posting this new view. Enjoy.

newest view

I feel somewhat like a bird living up under the clouds. The flat has windows in three directions: north, east and south. The southern “windows” are actually three very small windows and one big, frigging conservatory/sun room (thank you Wikipedia) that actually is floor-to-ceiling glass to the south, east and west. I am thinking of naming it the Orangery (considering the number of Citrus species I am going to grow there). There will be lots of plant-talk on this blog in the future. You have been warned.

Upcoming: old jewellers glass-topped desk crammed with fountain pens.

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The two areas of intrest that have held my attention the longest are exotic (house)plants and fantastic literature. I have been into plants since I was about 12 years old, and at that time I was already an avid reader. A long-standing favourite book that combines these interests, a book I have previously mentioned on this blog, is Hothouse, by Brian Aldiss. His Saliva tree is also a classic in its own right. Of course, there are plenty of others. In my botany-related to-read pile is Phytosphere by Scott Mackay and Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock. Maybe a future area of collecting, botanical SF and Fantasy? I haven’t even gotten into green/macro biopunk yet. Just wait til I get my lab up and running… Any book recommendations?

I am growing tiny black holes in my bedroom window...

Huernia keniensis. I am growing tiny black holes in my bedroom window…

With an interest in the odd, grotesque and strangely beautiful, the more common houseplants did not do it for me, at least not for long. So I researched… Among the orchids there are many species that look beyond weird but I will start this series with another class of plants, the Stapeliads (tribus stapeliae). To add even more epicness, almost all the generas have names that really trigger the imagination: Huernia, Carraluma, Stapelia, Quaqua and Tromotriche. The genus Hoodia that has been featured in the weight-loss press, is also a stapeliad.

Stapelia grandiflora

Stapelia grandiflora

Probably Stapelia lepida

Probably Stapelia lepida

I wouldn’t go so far as to say reality is more fantastic than mine (and your) imagination. But I would say they are equal, if you know where to look.

These plants are E A S Y to cultivate, cheap to buy cuttings of (but you’ll have to wait a while for them to flower if you buy smaller cuttings) and generally awesome. They do like to dry up between waterings and a sunny, but not burning hot, spot in a bright window. Fortunately, as opposed to several orchid genera, they tend to look nice (Well, barbed-tentacle-nice) even when not flowering. The only disadvantage might be the stink. Yep, most of them are pollinated by flies, not by butterflies or moths. Ergo: “scent” of rotting meat or days-old cadaver. Some species are worse than others. When growing them in a small apartment I either open the window a bit or (really!) cut the flowers off and throw them away after a couple of days.

Upcoming: at least several posts on different orchid species, various pretty-leaf plants and probably more stapeliads, since the ones I bought a couple of years ago now are flowering size. Also, maybe a drollery or to inspired by my plant collection? Moving into my new and plant-wise very optimal apartment next week. Can’t wait!

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Vivarium, at five months…

New city and new place of work have kept me and left me busy and tired. I do like (almost) everything about this new phase of my life, but there is definitely a period of acclimatisation. I have a small but persistant headache and my eyes are a bit strained. I have made some progress on my borders and figured out the story a bit more on one of my Graphic Novel ideas. Apart from that I have read some books (Jasper Fforde, Celis T Rono, Conan Doyle and Jaqueline Carey), watched a lot of Farscape and started to paint the small figures that came with the boardgame Mice and Mystics I bought at Orcs nest this spring.

I brought my vivarium (of course). At five months running everything have been developing nicely. I have had to fight off a small fungal infection with neem oil and cinnamon powder. Seems to have worked and now I have made sure to improve the ventilation. None of the orchids have flowered yet. The Sinningias flower profusely, very prettily. I have sown another batch and they also seem to sprout small new plants from the base. The Kyoto moss spores have thrived in the treefern-wall in the back.

I am really annoyed at not being able to take better pictures, like the ones my father took in this post. Below is the best I managed, after some computer manipulation

Vivarium month 5

In other news: WordPress informs me that “sometimes your visitors will see ads here”. I have gotten more than a couple of e-mails from people wanting (sometimes for a small fee) to write guest posts. I guess this comes with this blogging thing. I have had plans on paying the fee to get my own domain and get rid of ads, but I am not yet decided. This was supposed to be a no-cost/no-earn blog and I hope to keep it that way. I hope it is not too annoying!

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Slingertak

Below is the ceiling of my room in the 19th century apartment.

Slingertak

I am very satisfied. My next ceiling, however, I’ll paint myself.

Art-wise, I have only this thumbbird to add, since I haven’t really had time to do anything else than get acquainted with my new place of work, new city and new place of living. In all, I am very content with everything, albeit a bit overwhelmed. I have gone swimming in the Baltic sea twice this weekend, played several boardgames and managed to both study for work and get some drawing done. This move is exactly what I needed and I have a very good feeling about this.

Thumbirds5

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Thumbirds3

Packing and unpacking, you get to appreciate your belongings. Or, get annoyed at the amount of belongings you somehow managed to accumulate. Since I have some months off, I have taken the opportunity to really go through all my stuff. Now, the movers were of the decided opinion that I didn’t have that much stuff (17 standard boxes, ten smaller boxes, a desk, a bookshelf, a table and chairs and a mattress plus some odds and ends). Yes, I asked. I, on the other hand, felt drowned in stuff and I still do. I am way too fond of slowly collecting things to become a true minimalist, but in my own way I am looking to simplify. So, enter the idea of going through everything one more time and sort stuff out. I am currently five big boxes and three book-boxes ahead in this adventure.

Packing and unpacking, you also stumble upon of serendipitous combinations of stuff. In this case, some appreciated books that just matched SO well. Serendipity is, by the way, one of my favourite words and I am happy I got an opportunity to use it.

Prettycovers

I have mentioned it on the blog before, I know. I have an idea of illustrating a book while I read it. Among the first fantastic books I read were Jules Verne (which I have also mentioned before). The copperstick illustrations always got my imagination going. I like the style as well, and I hope to incorporate it in my own style of drawing (that is: continue with focus on ink but add some planning and more elaborate backgrounds). The book I’d definitely choose for the first book is Kraken by China Mièville. Keep your eyes out for some drawings of bug familiars on strike, scary tattoos and such. The matching bookmark is from Black Gull Books .

I have my friend at Pimpinett to thank for getting me into Chesterton. Thank you again, K! I implore everyone to go read The Man Who Was Thursday, it is a perfect introduction to his work.

Louis-Ferdinand Céline… I can’t remember how I stumbled onto his work years ago. Probably looking for subversive literature as a teenager. I enjoy the (extremely) black and dry humour and, yes, the misanthropic bent. My translation of Voyage au bout de la nuit, is a later one, evidently challenged since it was considered too modern by some. The defenders insist it is more true to the sentiments of the original novel and in some ways more correct in the harshness of the language. I still wish I could read it in French, though. Never been good at French. My grandfathers brothers wife was French and recently passed away. I sort of regret I never discussed Céline with her. I have a feeling she wasn’t a fan, but it would still have been interesting. The fact that I never broached the subject is a combination of me not daring to and us being not close at all, I met her two or three times the past five years. But still.

Upcoming: today I made soap again. I used smoked tea, clary sage, green mint, lavender, propolis and spirulina algae. If all goes well, this soap will have an earthy, green, smoky and minty type of fragrance and a pretty three-colour swirl in dark brown, grey and dark green. If it goes not-so-well I will have a vague minty smelling disaster in three shades of muggy brown. I will know tomorrow. It is very exciting and fun still, this soapmaking thing.

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A while ago I ordered samples of different greys from Goulet Pens. I really like the opportunity to compare inks. If shipping to Sweden weren’t so expensive, I’d order more often. My favourite grays were J Herbin Gris Nuage and Noodlers Lexington Gray. J Herbin is more blueish, without wandering too far into blue territory. I found the full bottle of ink at Sandbergs Pappershandel in Umeå, where I passed through for a job interview a week or so ago. Great little independent shop with knowledge of fountain pens and ink, but no homepage.

My new EF Parker 51 I bought via Ebay to replace the one that broke has a slightly different personality than the original one. It is drier and doesn’t like Noodler’s black. I tried Pelikan Black, which works a lot better in the pen, but for drawing I still like Noodler’s Black better. Maybe I’ll try J Herbin Perle Noir or some other black ink in the upcoming months. Noodler’s does have a couple of different blacks as well, I might try Borealis Black if it still exists. Have to look that up. Finding the right black is very important.

Sockbird Teaser

A proper Drawer of Sockbirds post is upcoming, as soon as my scanner arrives. This is just a teaser of the next group of sockbirds, the Grey Gang. The Grey Gang specialise in wool socks. The pens are my new “Birger” black extra fine with a gold-filled cap and the other a translucent fantasy Parker 51 demonstrator from the Argentinian seller Kullock on Ebay. The latter pen has a broad, wet nib and I used it for the Gris Nuage ink. The brush is series 7 W&N, I have forgotten the size. It is small, perhaps a 2? A great brush. Also, I really like the design on the Clairefontaine sketch pads, I am glad I picked one up on looks alone. Fortunately the inside matched the outside in terms of quality.

Kiruna Church

Last but not least, an image from the very last evening I spent above the Arctic Circle (unfortunately not with Aurora Borealis). The building is the church of Kiruna, a very special building you can read more about here. I now reside down south, soon signing the contract for the upcoming position I have accepted in a small coastal town in the south of Sweden, by the Baltic Sea. I begin in August. In the months that remain until I start working again, I plan to read, make a lot of art and hopefully travel to Colorado, Gotland and Köln. Of all places. 🙂

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Look, another Thumbbird! I had almost forgotten they existed.

Thumbirds2

Today is my birthday. I am not one for lavish celebrating of birthdays. I do not mind, though. I seem to have missed out on the fear of aging that so many of my contemporaries suffer from. I like getting older. I adore (to my fiancées amusement) my approximately ten white hairs that annoyingly showed up in the middle of my scalp, not at my temples (which would have been way more distinguished-looking). They also have a tendency to stick right up, since they are coarser and shorter than the other hairs. I see this as a prelude to me becoming a very odd sort of little (well, 5.9) white haired mad scientist-type lady.

Seems like I will stay above the Arctic Circle another month, til the end of March. There will be a week of skiing and I have two great interviews planned. I expect to get at least one offer, if not two. I think I am a great fit at both places, one in particular. If I get the one I really want, I’ll not commence working until after summer this year. Economically this is a bit suboptimal, but it will give me plenty of time to read, make art and spend time with family. In other words, things that are more valuable than making money. I’m of the frugal sort anyway, so it’s not a huge problem.

Another view, this time of the mine:

Kirunavaara

I’ll miss this place!

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