Jack’s Walk

Last year we didn’t really have too much of an autumn show of colour. Instead, most trees just went from green to brown to leafless. This year, though, autumn is glorious and all the trees are wearing their best, bright party dresses. Jack and I invite you to join us as we stroll around our neighbourhood and look at all the pretty October colour.

Just starting to colour up

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Chinese Fabric Art

Opus has sent us a special treat… a few pictures taken while he was visiting China. The photos are full of energy and bright, bold colour and I can’t help but think that it must have been very special to see this art with people who understand its true value. Thanks so much for sharing, Opus.

 Pictures from Lijiang in southern China.  I visited with a couple of fabric artists who wanted to see the work done by local women. We were not disappointed!  The woman with the elaborately embroidered headwear is Naxi, best I can remember.  Lijiang is on an ancient trade route, the Tea-Horse road, which was used to trade tea from southern China for Tibetan horses.

©Opus, all rights reserved

©Opus, all rights reserved

©Opus, all rights reserved

Affinity is growing

It is with great delight that I announce that rq is joining the blogging team here at Affinity. Many of you are familiar with rq from the comments section of the blog where she has been contributing for many years. She is now ready to step up and do some blogging herself and we couldn’t be happier. She brings a lot to our team and we can expect posts on an interesting mix of subjects ranging from Baltic culture to the arts. Perhaps she’ll even share a peek into the random and interesting things that cross her path. For now there will be no fixed schedule for rq’s posts. Instead, they will come as happy little surprises that surface amidst our already mixed bag.

So now we are four. Four bloggers in four different countries, all with different interests and different points of view, but all wanting to share our worlds with you. We’re also a curious bunch and we want this blog to be a vibrant international community where other people share their worlds with us. That’s one of the best parts of Affinity. It has many voices and you just never know what will pop up. We also hope that one of those voices will be yours. We still invite you to share your favourite recipes, photos, arts and crafts with us. You don’t have to be a great photographer or a master artist to contribute. I’m certainly neither of those things.

I would also like to take a minute to acknowledge the founder of Affinity, Caine. This blog was her vision and she always welcomed contributions from her readers. Her voice was always encouraging and it is because of her support that I even dared to try blogging. Caine expressed a desire for rq to become part of this blog and I know that she would be thrilled by the news.

Affinity just became more interesting. I hope you’ll all help me welcome rq.

Slavic Saturday

OK, I’ll bite. Last week Rob Grigjanis mentioned Antonín Dvořák and he indeed is one of Czech composers whose work is dear to my heart. I particularly like his Slavonic Dances, Opus 46. I was looking for a video that I like and unfortunately the only one that I do cannot be embedded, so you would have to head over to Czech TV Website. I hope it works for out-of state too. Other recordings that I have found on YouTube I did not like – right at the first dance “Furiant” seemed either too fast or too bland.

That I make such judgement is slightly ironic and possibly unfair to the musicians. I do not dance at all and I hate it, particularly polka. Surely everyone knows polka, although not everyone knows that it is originally Czech dance. My experience with it is however rather unpleasant – I was always a bad dancer, but it was seen as somewhat required to take dance lessons in highschool, so I did, being awkward and clumsy all the time despite my best effort. And polka was for me the last straw in this string of tortures – at the end of the lesson my disgruntled dance partner has lifted her skirt and has shown me her feet that were kicked and stomped bloody. That put a final crimp in my (non-existent as it was) desire to dance that dance ever again, since I try not to hurt people on principle.

It is not that I do not have a sense of rhythm, but everyone tells me polka has two and a half step (hence the name půlka(half)-polka), however I simply hear three steps and that daft little half-skip just tangles both my brain and my feet. Not that other dances are much better with their inane jumping and turning and all that nonsense. I do not see the point of dancing, really.

But the music can be beautiful and can move me to tap my feet or nod my head a little. That much I admit.

Wackaloon

Liz Crokin, right wing “journalist” has recently lost the tips of two fingers in a surfing accident and is blaming Hilary Clinton as the cause.

While she realizes that it was probably “just a freak accident,” that didn’t stop her from also asserting that it may have been the result of a curse that had been placed on her by Hillary Clinton or artist Marina Abramović or some other “witch” that is targeting her due to her efforts to expose the secret satanic cannibalistic pedophile cult that supposedly runs the world.

Is it just me, or do other people think that the right wing of America have lost their minds. I can almost get past their belief in their God (almost, but not really), but what is up with the belief in witches and spells and curses. Do they really think we live in Harry Potter World full of magic, and if so why isn’t their all-powerful, all-seeing God doing something about it? It seems to me that it just highlights the impotence of their sky God. It all seems so totally illogical and totally ridiculous. The full story is at Right Wing Watch, if you can stomach it. Just a word of warning, if you click on the links inside the story be prepared for even more ridiculous right wing thinking.

 

Barcelona: the City 4: Streets

Wedged in between the mountains and the sea, Barcelona’s streets tend to be narrow and dark, and beautiful.

But it’s also a place where you can see the contrast between rich and poor, with people sleeping rough, begging for change and trying to make ends meet by selling knickknacks. When you come to the harbour you will have the multi-million dollar yachts next to poor immigrants selling cheap sunglases.

I will say one thing in favour of Barcelona and that is that they don’t seem to actively work against the homeless population. There was a spot at Catalunya where our bus arrived and left where a homeless guy had his place, with a small foam mattress and a few belongings. He usually wasn’t there when we arrived, but at least nobody destroyed his things and the police didn’t remove them.

My kids were wondering about the “junk”, not knowing that this was somebody’s home, and when I explained it to them they emptied their pockets and put all their change on the mattress. I was never prouder of them than in that moment.

Narrow street with decorated balconies

Narrow street just off the Rambla. ©Giliell, all rights reserved

Small balcony with many potted plants

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Barcelona: The City 2: La Plaza Catalunya

The centre of Barcelona is the Plaza Catalunya. Lined on one side by the traditional Corte Inglés shopping centre and start of the Rambla, the main boulevard, there’s a snowball’s chance in hell you’ll miss it. Most tourist buses start and stop there (our shuttle bus from the camp site dropped us off there and picked us up, and so did most others), the hop on- hop off buses stop there, the metro lines do, the regional train station is under it.

Above it are the pigeons.

Water fountain by night, brightly lit.

The fountain by night.
©Giliell, all rights reserved

 

Water fountain in daylight.

The fountain by day.
©Giliell, all rights reserved

Pigeon bathing in a water fountain.

Did I say fountain? What I meant was “pigeon bath”.
©Giliell, all rights reserved

Pigeons in a tree.

How many pigeons can you count?
©Giliell, all rights reserved

Dividing The UK Twelve Ways & The Most Popular Sauce.

Maps crated by reddit user generalscruff.

Maps crated by reddit user generalscruff.

Click for giant size!

The 12 maps above are a tongue-in-cheek look at the various ways the UK is divided besides Brexit or how to pronounce scone.

And before anyone complains, they are meant to be humorous and should not be taken too seriously.

You can see each map in more detail below: click over for this!

Map created by reddit user generalscruff.

Map created by reddit user generalscruff.

Click for giant size. You can see more of this here.

The Open Country of Woman’s Heart & Other Allegorical Maps.

The Public Domain Review has some wonderful and awesome allegorical maps, which clearly show the trains of thought and cultural sentiments of the 18th and 19th centuries. Click for full size.

A Map of the Open Country of Woman’s Heart, Exhibiting its internal communications, and the facilities and dangers to Travellers therein, By A Lady; Lith. of D.W. Kellog & Co, ca. 1830s — Source.

A Map of the Open Country of Woman’s Heart, Exhibiting its internal communications, and the facilities and dangers to Travellers therein, By A Lady; Lith. of D.W. Kellog & Co, ca. 1830s — [Source.]

Thomas Sayer’s A Map or Chart of the Road of Love, and Harbour of Marriage, 1748 — Source.

Thomas Sayer’s A Map or Chart of the Road of Love, and Harbour of Marriage, 1748 — [Source.]

You can see many more of these allegorical maps at The Public Domain Review.

Ice Cream Saloons: A Place For Unchaperoned Women.

Ice cream parlor of L. C. Fish, Merced, Calif.

Ice cream parlor of L. C. Fish, Merced, Calif. Source.

…Throughout the 19th century, restaurants catered to a predominately male clientele. Much like taverns and gentlemen’s clubs, they were places where men went to socialize, discuss business, and otherwise escape the responsibilities of work and home. It was considered inappropriate for women to dine alone, and those who did were assumed to be prostitutes. Given this association, unescorted women were banned from most high-end restaurants and generally did not patronize taverns, chophouses, and other masculine haunts.

As American cities continued to expand, it became increasingly inconvenient for women to return home for midday meals. The growing demand for ladies’ lunch spots inspired the creation of an entirely new restaurant: the ice-cream saloon. At a time when respectable women were excluded from much of public life, these decadent eateries allowed women to dine alone without putting their bodies or reputations at risk.

[…]

The first ice cream saloons were humble cafes that served little more than ice cream, pastries, and oysters. As women became more comfortable eating out, they expanded into opulent, full-service restaurants with sophisticated menus that rivaled those at most other elite establishments. In 1850, a journalist described one ice cream saloon as offering “an extensive bill of fare … ice cream — oysters, stewed, fried and broiled; —broiled chickens, omelettes, sandwiches; boiled and poached eggs; broiled ham; beef-steak, coffee, chocolate, toast and butter.” According to the historian Paul Freeman, the 1862 menu of an ice cream saloon in New York ran a whopping 57 pages and featured mother of pearl detailing.

[…]

Although ice cream parlors had an air of dainty domesticity, they also developed more sultry reputations. At the time, they were one of the few places where both men and women could go unchaperoned. As a result, they became popular destinations for dates and other illicit rendezvous. “Did a young lady wish to enjoy the society of the lover whom ‘Papa’ had forbidden the house?” the New York Times wrote in 1866. “A meeting at Taylor’s was arranged, where soft words and loving looks served to atone for parental harshness, and aided the digestion of pickled oysters.”

Innocent young couples weren’t the only pairs tucked together in the velvet booths. During a trip to Taylor’s, one writer observed “a middle-aged man and woman in deep and earnest conversation. They are evidently man and wife—though not each others!” Moralists were also outraged by the presence of pimps, prostitutes, and women “who were not over particular with the company they kept.” These scandalous scenes prompted rumors of ice cream “drugged with passion-exciting Vanilla” that seduced virtuous women into taking “the first step…which leads to infamy.”

These charges did little to dissuade respectable women from patronizing ice cream saloons. In fact, their reputation as “a trysting ground for all sorts of lovers” may have made the saloons all the more enticing. According to the Times, Taylor’s “always maintained its popularity, in spite of (or perhaps because of) rumors that it afforded most elegant opportunities for meetings not entirely correct.”

Oh my, passion-exciting Vanilla! I have vanilla ice cream in my freezer, and I had no idea of the evil I was hosting. I’ll enjoy it all the more for that. You can read much more about the history of Ice Cream Saloons at Atlas Obscura.

Sure, Macramé Your Hair, Why Not?

I got distracted. Again. Seems my brain has been having a bit of a vacation too, I’ve been quite the space case lately. Anyroad, came upon these um, attachments? Extensions? Falls? (Does anyone else remember falls?) I’d love to have some of these done with my hair, if it ever achieves thickness again. These are from 1840. Click for full size!

The Bakemono Zukushi “Monster” Scroll.

Rokurokubi (ろくろくび), a long-necked woman is pictured next to an Inugami (犬神) dog spirit.

Rokurokubi (ろくろくび), a long-necked woman is pictured next to an Inugami (犬神) dog spirit.

These wonderful images featured here are from a Japanese painted scroll known as the Bakemono zukushi. The artist and date is unknown, though its thought to hail from the Edo-period, sometime from the 18th or 19th century. Across it’s length are depicted a ghoulish array of “yokai” from Japanese folklore. […]

The class of yokai characterised by an ability to shapeshift, and that featured in this scroll, is the bakemono (or obake), a word literally meaning “changing thing” or “thing that changes”. The founding father of minzokugaku (Japanese folklore studies), Yanagita Kuno (1875–1962), drew a distinction between yurei (ghosts) and bakemono: the former haunt people and are associated with the depth of night, whereas the latter haunt places and are seen by the dim light of dusk or dawn.

Amongst the bakemono monsters depicted in the scroll is the rokurokubi (ろくろくび), a long-necked woman whose name literally means “pulley neck”. Whether shown with a completely detachable head (more common in Chinese versions), or with head upon the end of a long threadlike neck as shown here, the head of the rokurokubi has the ability to fly about independently of the body. In his 1904 collection Kwaidan, Lafcadio Hearn provides the first extended discussion of this yokai in English, telling of a samurai-turned-travelling-priest who finds himself staying the night in a household of rokurokubi intent on eating their guest.

Daichiuchi (大地打) is a mallet-wielding monster with a bird-like face.

Daichiuchi (大地打) is a mallet-wielding monster with a bird-like face.

Fascinating monsters all, and you can see and read much more at The Public Domain Review.