Archaeological Museum of Macedonia – Part 1: Little Shiny Things

Also known as a coin collection. I don’t have much to comment here, except that they really know how to set the mood for learning about history:

© rq, all rights reserved.

While there was quite a bit to learn, the focus was on coins. So here we go: be as amazed as I was at the variety of designs, the visible cultural influences, the intricacy and the detail, the mastery and the metalwork.

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Natural Dyes

Since a few years ago, when I read a very intriguing article, Eastertime has become a time for experimentation – for experimenting with natural dyes! For the eggs, obviously.

Now, tradition has it that you use onion skins – gives a nice warm reddish-brown tone, and if you stick little leaves and shoots and spring flowers around the surface of the egg and wrap it in some extra onion skin and gauze (or old pantyhose), you can get some wonderful imprinting and marbling on your egg, in tones of yellow and green.

My original break with tradition occurred about 5 years ago, when I read about red cabbage – apparently, using boiled red cabbage produces a lovely shade of blue, plus you can also do the usual addition of shoots-and-flowers, and also get marbling effects.

It works.

Also with snowdrops and an onionskin direct on the shell. One of this year’s efforts – and boy is it difficult to get some good focus on eggs! © rq, all rights reserved.

That blue tone at the bottom? If you use red cabbage correctly, it gets even more vivid.

However! In subsequent years I have read about other plant-based materials that can be used as dyes: beets (for raspberry red), turmeric (for deep yellow), blueberries (for dark blue/black), etc. This year I decided to experiment a little again, since I have transferred my knowledge of red cabbage to the immediate family, and it’s time to try something new (the blue colour is no longer original once everyone is doing it).

Meet this year’s subjects:

From left to right: curry and chamomile; red cabbage; beets; hibiscus tea; onion skin. © rq, all rights reserved.

To review the results:

  1. I expected more from the turmeric, but this just proves you can’t trust online blog posts raving about the wonderful shades of golden-yellow, even if you follow their instructions word for word;
  2. Red cabbage is both a stable value and also quite versatile with the patterning, adding an onion skin for colour will not ruin the dye;
  3. Beets are fakers – I tried beets a few years ago with similar results but was willing to give them a second chance, but alas, if this is raspberry red, then someone needs to review their colour wheel;
  4. Hibiscus tea is a keeper and shall be repeated because it has a wonderful deep shade of blue-black and also holds up well with patterning for some very interesting colouring;
  5. Onion skins is old reliable onion skins and to ensure at least a few good-looking eggs should be used every year.

A few close-ups:

Hibiscus tea with dandelion and a few other new leaves. © rq, all rights reserved.

Curry and chamomile, plus some directly applied onion skin, which is what provides the brilliant colour; probably will not repeat this shade in future. © rq, all rights reserved.

Raspbery red, tplrplrplr. The applied botanicals is what saves this one. © rq, all rights reserved.

Paired red cabbage with onion skin again – this colour pairing, along with hibiscus with onion skin, are my favourites for the contrasts it provides. © rq, all rights reserved.

Onion skins with new leaves of goutweed and dandelion blossom. Classic. © rq, all rights reserved.

The family portrait: a nice spectrum of naturally produced colours. © rq, all rights reserved.

So there you have it – low effort and high quality coloured eggs from ordinary things you can find in your kitchen (or get for cheap). If I don’t forget, I might do a tutorial post for next year, because the whole process is ridiculously easy.

(Choir Juventus  cover, original here.)

Canyon Matka – Part 7: Miscellaneous and Odd

This is the final post from Canyon Matka, a couple of views of the dam, and some random items I saw along the way.

As mentioned before, never believe anyone if they tell you there is nothing to see: I was thoroughly impressed with my visit to this canyon, and I would certainly plan to see other parts of the country (especially the mountains!) if I had the chance. Maybe I’m just easily pleased, but the sheer beauty of Macedonian nature – so different from the one up here – is enough to keep me satisfied.

Looking back towards Skopje (or at least an edge of it). © rq, all rights reserved.

The hydroelectric dam – it’s hard to get it all in one photo! © rq, all rights reserved.

Tangles. © rq, all rights reserved.

Some mountaintops with a mysterious trail… © rq, all rights reserved.

And that trail leads down to what apparently is locally known as the American Embassy… © rq, all rights reserved.

It was there. © rq, all rights reserved.

Living over the edge… © rq, all rights reserved.

… And a look upcliff. © rq, all rights reserved.

Maybe he assumed it was too dark for me to take a good photo, but this little feller spent a good ten minutes singing right about my head, giving me a chance to adjust the camera to get at least this one decent shot! © rq, all rights reserved.

Farewell to this adventure, and here’s to the next one!

A Beautiful G R E E N Morning

Over the weekend, everything exploded into that fresh, new shade of green that is among my favourite colours – it’s not that I’m partial to green (it’s actually among my less favourite colours), it’s that this particular shade always looks so clean and bright and only lasts a very short while. In other words, it is extremely transient, but it means that winter is over (never mind the possible frosts, life has returned). I love it. And to celebrate, here is some bad phone photography:

But just look at that colour! © rq, all rights reserved.


(The Green Song by Pērkons. Same vocalist as previously, lyrics below in somewhat literal translation.)

Touch the earth, the earth is white.
The earth is white, a moment before it was green.
Give your warmth, it will be green again.
Remember, remember, remember – your part is green.
Remember, remember – everything is in your hands.
Hail is hail, frost is frost,
Most is mist above all things until now.
On which hill will we light our fire,
Where shall we winter this summer?
How important, do you think,
How important is a single fire?
What will you, icicle, icicle, do when
When the awl of the sun pierces you?
When the awl of the sun pierces you?
Hail is hail, frost is frost,
Mist is mist above all things until now.
As many fires as will be lit on each hill,
So long shall we live.

Canyon Matka – Part 6: Rocks

Yes, just a close look at a small (seriously, not sarcasm this time) selection of rocks – and some rock formations that were especially interesting.

Rock slices everywhere! © rq, all rights reserved.

My all-time favourite quartz, popping up in the most unexpected of places! © rq, all rights reserved.

A look at the rock face itself – in this part, all the layers were vertical. © rq, all rights reserved.

A look straight up the rock face – those trees and shrubs are quite impressive. © rq, all rights reserved.

And this, probably my favourite – just look at those strata bending ’round, how much power and how much time is behind that shape. © rq, all rights reserved.

It may be that nothing breaks like a heart, but certainly nothing breaks like a rock. Take it away, Miley.


I made some boasting noises about my magnolia, so just to prove that it really is an explosion of pink and white this year (it’s a youngling), I took some evening photographs, with a special dedication to Giliell. ;)

© rq, all rights reserved.

A slightly better angle, non? © rq, all rights reserved.

They remind me of birds, a flock of free-wheeling birds. © rq, all rights reserved.

© rq, all rights reserved.

© rq, all rights reserved.

Ah, yes… © rq, all rights reserved.

Canyon Matka – Part 5: Surfacing

After long silence, here is the next installment of my visit to Canyon Matka in Macedonia – now the Republic of North Macedonia! (It was a bit of a joke, you’ve been there several times already but you’re visiting an entirely new country for the first time!)

We’ve looked beneath the water, and we have looked into the mirror that is the water – but today we will look at the surface of the water itself.

The river is narrow but quite deep, and as our visit occurred during the evening, there was some beautiful play of light on water, abstract art and distorted reflections. For all the canyon’s twists and turns, it was poured full of sunlight for most of the trip. Anyway, that’s it for the fancy prose, so without further ado:

© rq, all rights reserved.

© rq, all rights reserved.

© rq, all rights reserved.

© rq, all rights reserved.

A Year Long Journey

Thanks for everyone’s kind thoughts, the antibiotics seem to be doing something, though everything I’ve read about pertussis includes the warning that the coughing fits can last up to 3 months (depending on the source – shortest I’ve heard is 10 weeks, in China apparently they call it the “100-day cough”). So I’m not looking forward to that, because in about 3 weeks I have a big conference (in Madrid!) where I have presenting responsibilities and I was hoping the “long cough” (as it is called in Latvian) wouldn’t be quite so long…

However, I am looking forward to discovering more art like A Year Long Journey by Ryo Takemasa. Only one example, you must visit the site to see more:

A Progression of Beautiful Mornings

It’s been a while and I’ve collected quite a few, so here, all at once, is a collection of mornings at the train station, from about mid-January to the very beginning of April. It all starts out quite dark, gloomy and melodramatic, as January ought to be – it is, after all, the depth of cruel winter, and the freezing grip of the season is unrelenting…

January. ©rq, all rights reserved.

February. ©rq, all rights reserved.

Beginning of March. ©rq, all rights reserved.

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Mystical Worlds

No, this will not be another black hole post, although if you haven’t seen it yet, quickly:

First ever direct image of a black hole! The supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87 — 6.5 billion times as massive as the Sun! The image is better than I expected!

As tweeted by Katie Mack (@AstroKatie).

Instead, I found some art! Some spooky art that speaks to me, because despite the darkness, they don’t leave me feeling sad – there’s a loneliness that I enjoy because it has strength and conviction. Anyway, may I introduce you to Dawid Planeta – Artist Illustrates His Battle With Depression as a Mystical World of Spirit Animals, via My Modern Met:

A small figure appears throughout the poignant series, perhaps representing Planeta himself. He’s seen wandering through the fog-filled labyrinth, bravely facing the ominous jungle animals who feature glowing eyes that illuminate the darkness. They seem to be guiding him through the deep jungle, “to find his inner strength, find the light and come back with it.” And, Planeta explains, “When he knows who he is, he goes there again, this time without fear. He goes there because it’s a part of who he is. It’s a part of human nature you can’t ignore. You need to know all parts of life, dark and bright.”

Despite the difficulty of dealing with depression, Planeta managed to channel his feelings into creativity. “Depression—it’s not easy to deal with, but when you try, you can stop thinking about it as a weakness and turn it into something brilliant,” he says. “That’s what I aim to accomplish with my art. Things I’m trying to depict are dark, mysterious and frightening, but if you look closely, you will find excitement, passion and joy. Just open your mind and see.”

One example before the cut, for more keep reading:

by Dawid Planeta

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Excuses, Excuses

There is a reason why I was hesitant in accepting the co-blogger post, and that is because I am notoriously inconsistent.

I do a lot of prioritizing of energy and time, and as much as I’d like to say this blog is higher on that list, the top 3 spots go to family, work and health – and sometimes, there is nothing left over. My friendships suffer neglect, my roses remain uncut, and I realize that, although I have the material, I don’t have the motivation to put together a post of any kind. For that, I apologize.

I am currently on antibiotics for a sinus infection and the early signs of strep throat, but alongside that I have some nasty bronchitis that seems to be enjoying April far more than I am. Doctor’s orders are to literally stay in bed and sleep until Saturday, but there is emails to answer and projects to sort out and my candidate-in-training is writing her thesis, which must be submitted on Monday (when I have to be in Sweden) – and of course, there’s the children and their shenanigans.

However, I have not forgotten: I still have photos from Canyon Matka, I still have photos from the coin museum (yes, it’s just lots of old, shiny coins!), I still have photos from the aqueduct, plus various random items that show signs of spring arriving. So as slow as I take it, please take it with the best of intentions.

April is for sure this year the cruellest month. And to think it’s only just begun…