Friday, 29 August 2008

Snails envied no more (envy now redirected to homeowners)

After a few frantic days of telephone calls and long hours in front of the computer, plus a hellishly expensive train journey down to Oxford, I've secured myself a pad. It's cheap & cheerful (in Oxford terms), and it's pleasantly close to Rob, Louise & Arran's place. They were kind enough to have taken me in during my brief trip - and happy hours were spent chasing after Arran around the house, and feeding him a gratifyingly large quantity of blackberries.

The neighbourhood I will be living in seems pleasantly exciting: multicultural, full of charity shops, and plenty of green space. I'm looking forward to discovering a new place - but also apprehensive of leaving an old, familiar one.

But then again. Change is the only constant.

For photos of an amazingly cute toddler, see my flickr.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008


Piers Plowman, Passus 17

SPES: I am looking for the knight that gave me the commandments on Sinai; I have it here
WILL: Ohhh - is it sealed? Can I see it?
SPES: No - i am looking for him that has the seal; it's the Cross and Christendom; when it was sealed thus I knew Lucifer's days were numbered
WILL: Go on, let me see it so I know the commandments;
SPES: *brings out a piece of rock with some Latin on it - trans. love God & thy neighbour*
WILL: Is that it?
SPES: Yeah. If you live by it, the devil will leave you alone, and you'll not have to worry about dying; I've saved loads of folk with this, I'll have you know.

More desire...

Once upon a time I dated someone in Edinburgh whose father is a jeweler. I bought some amazing pieces from him, including a brooch in red enamel, set in silver, with gold flames dangling from it. I have since lost this brooch (I lose alot of things). The other day I saw this ring on line, and it reminded me of my brooch so much.

It's ok to miss physical things intensely, right?

It's a shame that this ring is far too expensive... $215... with my track record it'll be lost for good in no time.

But looking at things I like does please me to no end - and that, at least, is free.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Feast for the eys

Here's some photos from Sakuran. I didn't think much of the film, but the costumes, colours and girls are a feast for the eyes.

Uhhhhh... now back to Piers Plowman. (yes, I am at the library)

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Envy of snails

Snails carry their shells where ever they go, like a mobile house. I am going to be homeless come October in Oxford if I don't find a place.

We found a nice place with the coolest sounding landlord (climber, designer of disabilities friendly software, maker of soap, promoter of pressure group against over packaging), out in the country side surrounded by green space. It's also 11 miles out of town. I like the idea of cycling 22 miles a day, it sounds pleasantly hardcore. But the truth is there's a lot of rain here in Britain, and hardcore though it may be, I can forget about wearing anything fashionable, ever - and get used to go around soggy and wet all the time.


There's several other options I'm going to have a look at on Wednesday. The price of everything gets me down though. So does the idea that unless we find the right place, Toph won't be able to move down to Oxford with me. We've already been apart for so long - and things are so good with us right now in Edinburgh. I loathe to think of not having him around to do the cooking, composting, bike fixing, laundry - er, I mean, to wake up to in the morning. Of course living apart may be more economical and productive for both of us... but...

I don't really want to go to Oxford - I don't mean the university, but the town. I'm a bit tired of moving around. Anders reckons that 3-4 years is a long time in one place, but I think for me that's the min. amount of time it takes to get comfortable. So I've had 4 year in Edinburgh, 1 in Taiwan, and now another in Oxford. I'm beginning to look forward to settling somewhere and having a good reason to buy home furnishings.

Speaking of settling down, I had a rather funny experience with Cathy, Toph's sister. We were talking about knitting and I said something about how I can't wait to get started on baby things, since my aunt is expecting and several others I know have wee bairns. She asked me if that was all and whether I had more news - I got a bit confused. Then she asked me outright if I was pregnant. I had to laugh. I'm a belt and braces girl, if you know what I mean. I'd like to think that accidents of that sort doesn't happen to people like me. Best piece of advice: be careful if you can't be good!

And I can't.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Frocks on the blog and what it indicates.

If I post pictures of frocks here, it's because I'm working, and I want to have a break. There's something about pretty pictures of pretty clothes that makes it seem alright for me to sit and read more of Piers Plowman. Same goes for pictures of Audrey Hepburn, which makes bad things ok, and ok things good.

I love the rich raspberry colour of the empire waist dress from Necessity is the Mother (and I love the name of the shop!). I do have reservations about the fit though - my bust is what would be described in Chinese as "airport like" - think runways. Hm. Still, nothing to stop me from looking at it and feeling like the world is that much better for having beautiful things in it.

The same goes for the pinafore dress from Victorian Bird. I am very taken with alot of their designs - and their prices are really very very reasonable. Not being a wasp shaped girl, I've always found higher waistlines flattering to my figure (ditto for the raspberry dress). I'm not sure what it is about the pinafore design - but I love it. In fact, this photo of it I've got totally doesn't do it justice. Please do visit Victorian Bird and look at some of their other things to fully appreciate the simplicity and perfect balance (strange, I know - but that's how I'd describe it) of their cuts.

Sometimes I wonder whether I really do want to go and do this M.St. degree. I do love medieval literature - but there is a part of me that really would like to think about nothing but frocks all day. Will I ever gather enough courage to abandon the safety of esoteric intellectual pursuits...?

For now, though, Piers Plowman bloody well ain't gonna read itself.


5.297: Now bigynneth Gloton for togoto shrifte,
5.298: And kaireth hym to kirkewarde his coupe to shewe.
5.299: Ac Beton the Brewestere bad hym good morwe
5.300: And asked of hym with that, whiderward he wolde.
5.301: "To holy chirche,' quod he, "for to here masse,
5.302: And sithen I wole be shryven, and synne na moore.'
5.303: " I have good ale, gossib,' quod she, " Gloton, woltow assaye?'
5.304: " Hastow,' quod he, "any hote spices?'
5.305: "I have pepir and pione,' quod she, "and a pound of garleek,
5.306: A ferthyngworth of fenel seed for fastynge dayes.
5.307: Thanne goth Gloton in, and grete othes after.

from Piers Plowman.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Temptations returned

Just because I am in Edinburgh and living a more ecologically conscientious lifestyle doesn't mean I am far from temptation. Thanks to the good internet I can work more efficiently and slack with likewise efficiency.

I am supposedly reading and taking notes on Piers Plowman (a lot of rats and mice appear around line 146 of the Prologue. Random or what?). But I take breaks to look at blogs, and to take note of beautiful things which I covet. Though it is technically slacking, I find that it increases my over all productivity because it allows me to return to the text with, er, greater degree of concentration... yes. (not thinking of frocks, I assure you).

Still - things, things, things. Here I am reading a text which has definite spiritual aims and I am thinking of frocks. Particularly this one, from My Favorite Vintage. I mean, look at the flat neckline - I think that would be quite flattering on someone like me, who has broad shoulders. Also, the detailing on the back of the neckline, in green velvet, is really, really nice. Usually I am not much for yellow, or for this kind of 50s print and cut - but I'm willing to make an exception.

So who wants to buy me a dress? Go on, it's not even the most expensive one in the shop.

Monday, 11 August 2008

There are things that money can't buy...

People sometimes ask me whether I enjoy living in Taipei or Edinburgh more. It is of course a slightly unfair comparison, since I have far more friends in Edinburgh, having lived here for 4 years of my adult life, and only 1 in Taipei. Either way I have worked out a simple formula to explain what the major difference is between Edinburgh and Taipei, at least for me.

In Edinburgh, the good points are the things which money can't buy: good air quality, good amount of green space, good healthy life style, etc. For everything that one has to spend money on, Edinburgh is not so great. Expensive, and you'd never really get too much bang for your buck.

In Taipei, the good point is that I always feel like I'm getting my money's worth. Because I was working, I could afford to eat out, take taxis, buy a stupid amount of shoes and clothes, and have fresh flowers at home when I feel like it. The real difference is not that I am employed in Taipei a student in Edinburgh, but the fact that one simplest gets a bigger bang for one's buck in Taipei - things are cheap closer to the manufacturing heartland of the world, I guess.

However, in Taipei, those things which I consider to be public property, such as good air or green space, are horrendously thin on the ground (comparatively). This is frustrating as it's not something I can do anything about as an individual - and moreover, not something I can simply buy.

Of course there are some things which don't stand up to much comparison. In Edinburgh people piss all over the fucking town. Yes, I mean that. If you walk around town and detect a foul odour of piss, it's not cats - it's the drunks. But then again, this town has charity shops, which are always worth a good rummage and can turn up some cheap & cheerful surprise bargains.

Over all though, considering my consumption tendencies, my conscience rests easier in Edinburgh. I get my food from the East Coast Organics farm delivered to me in the form of an ecobox once a week (highly recommended if you live within delivery range). I buy the rest from independent organic shops such as The New Leaf and Real Foods (expensive, but comprehensive). I cycle or walk absolutely everywhere (the number of times I have been in a car in Edinburgh can almost be counted on one hand - if you happen to be a mutant with 20 odd fingers on one hand). But most importantly, I don't consume a huge amount of new, mass produced, environment destroying goods. Instead, most of my material desires are satisfied by way of vintage shops or charity shops - all second hand.

So yeah, it's nice to be back here where I feel like the natural lifestyle I adopt brings me closer to being the person I want to be. Where I am not continually and sorely tempted by cheap mass produce consumer goods, and not likely to consume too much processed foods or fast snacks which are high in sodium and MSG.

But... I do miss the temptations.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Back in Action

It's August in Edinburgh and things feel like they've not moved in 4 years.

Case and point(s):
  1. The freaks are back on the street, and still working the same lines, chillin in the same places, and shootin the same shit.
  2. I am back at my usual spot of the Edinburgh University Library, using my same old account (which should have by now, a year after my graduation, expired), and working on the same old thing.
  3. Still waking up next to Toph in the same bed.
  4. Jamie is still working at Alien Rock.
The grass is lush and green, the tents up are in the George Square Gardens, and the Royal Mile takes about an hour to walk down. Undoubtedly chippie prices will have risen accordingly. There are some things which don't change, and to tell the truth, I don't mind at all.

Things which have changed:
  1. What the hell is this monstrosity in the middle of the meadows? Who needs a fucking "artisan" bakery? What do they sell? Limited edition signed loaves? Why have so many Starbucks sprung up like fungus after spring rain? How many lattes can one city really consume?
  2. Why have the old shops I could afford to shop at gone out of business to be replaced by "artisan" bakeries? I hear people talking about how bad the economy is - but that obviously only affects selected individuals!
  3. Barney no longer works at Alien Rock. The place will never be the same. I can't even do 6A+ comfortably on a slab any more. The shame! The shame!
  4. There are a lot of unfamiliar faces on the swing scene - and they are using the horror of all horrors, Facebook.
Some pictures will help to contextualize everything... but that must wait till after I have done some work (yes, I come to the library, and the first thing I do is update my blog).