marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
On account of it's being Mother's Day, I've realised that I haven't posted anything about my mother here yet, which is a serious oversight.

Since I'm being rather picky in what I post on this blog, these reminiscences are also picky, but, well...

Me & mom are very different personalities, and she told me once, recently, that she had had absolutely no idea what to think of and do with my little imaginative self; that one year, when I was about three, there she was with tiny me walking next to her talking about something imaginary and being a complete stranger to her. But I think she did a pretty good job for a clueless person. ;-)

For one thing, mother was indeed the person I came to with my very first creative efforts: I asked her to draw my imaginary animals for me, and clueless or not, she did a splendid job before I could do for myself. The first one, apparently, I asked for at that age of three or four much in the same manner the Little Prince asked for his sheep; except mine wasn't an existing species and wasn't in a box. (The Little Prince is, incidentally, one of my mom's favourite books.)

She is the person responsible for the first Ransome book entering this household, and while I'm not entirely certain, I think also for the Narnia books. (She certainly gave me some of mine, the ones I got next after my older sisters' original concession of leaving Prince Caspian to me because there was an odd number of them.)
The first Ransome book to enter this household was The Coot Club. There is a Czech publishing house specialising in children's books, and each half-year or so, it would send catalogues of its new books to schools, where the children would order books through the school. Our parents were always quite supportive of this venture, so I think every time, each of us could pick up to three books or so? I do remember usually carrying more books home on the day the order arrived than most of my classmates did. Anyway, one time, there was The Coot Club in the offer, and mom convinced one of my older sisters that it was worth ordering. And she was right, of course. :-)

This goes hand in hand with mom later convincing us to listen to a radio programme for children when The Coot Club was on as a serial. We had tried listening to the programme before and pretty much hated it, but it turned out each week in the month was under the direction of someone else, and there was this man whose direction we loved; he had conversations with travellers and natural scientists and writers and all sorts of interesting people, and played music we liked, and adapted books we liked for radio plays (through which means we also discovered other books we liked). You never felt like he was talking down to you or talking about things adults think children will like: he simply talked about things he liked. (Heh, hello, Lewis' priceless thoughts on these matters.) So that was another huge, formative thing we can be thankful to mom for.

Every now and then, she has this curious ability of digging up or stumbling upon something that's just what I needed and didn't know I needed it. One year, she sent me off (with my agreement) to a weekend children's trip organised by her employer, which sounds potentially awful and was actually awesome. The person organising it was another such enthusiast who was good with children because he did what he enjoyed, and I went with them at least three more times, visiting beautiful places around this country I never would have otherwise learned of, and taking my friends with me a couple of times, too.

Mom read books to us in the evenings, and sang traditional folk songs to us, and cut Christmas cookies with us, and did other such wonderful and traditional mom things when we were little.

She likes flowers and gardening, so in a roundabout way (by planting them in the first place), she's responsible for my love of phloxes, the scent of which will forever be the scent of my childhood summers.

And she's the talkative one in the family, the one who'll strike up conversations with strangers; which is how I met my best friend at the age of three. That friend whom, these days, I won't see for months and when we meet again, we'll talk like only days or weeks have passed. How that happened I don't know, but obviously, I would not be that lucky without mom being a lot more outgoing than I am.

Her birthday's next week; sometimes, it would fall on Mother's Day, which, in a childhood logic, was only natural.
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Disclaimer: This duo has a fairly cavalier approach to wines. Which is definitely not the same as a connoisseur approach to wines.

* * *

I made pasta with bacon and tomatoes for lunch / dinner / you-know-the-main-meal-of-the-day-that-Czechs-have-at-noon.

Father (considering): There's a Müller opened... and a Neuburger unopened, but I'm saving that. Two Neuburgers.
Me: I think I'll really have the Müller.
(= Müller Thurgau, a dry white)
Father: It's Hungarian.
Me: It's Hungarian, but bottled in Velké Pavlovice. (...) You stopped it with a stopper from port!
Father: I couldn't push the cork back in, and the stopper from the port was just lying at hand.
Me: It doesn't even bother to say what it goes with...
Father (with conviction): Müller goes with everything.

* * *

Earlier this month:
Father (speaking of a Wikipedia article he'd already come across much earlier): Neuburger is... (blah, blah), the vine was fished out of the Danube in the 1860s. The centre of growing is in Austria, area of 652 ha. It is also grown in (blah, blah) and the Czech Republic, area of 795 ha...
Me (bursting out laughing): The centre of growing is the Czech Republic!

* * *

The lowdown: The varieties / types of wine most likely to be bought by Father are Riesling, Tokaji Furmint, Neuburger, and Müller Thurgau, probably in that order (except that Neuburger would be, without a shadow of doubt, bought much more often if it could much more often be stumbled upon). And port. With the exception of the latter and the very occasional South African red, it's all whites from Central Europe, leaning heavily towards the dry end of the spectrum.
I pretty much agree with that choice, although I also share my mother's taste for Sauvignon.
Basically, give me a dry or semi-dry white, please, and by all means, make it Central European.

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)

To my readers: you don't really have to read this, I guess, it's a bit of an anthill into mountains; I just needed to get this out of the system, because it's hit a nerve on some basic level in ways that surprised me, it's late in the evening, I have no one to share with at the moment and I don't want to end the day with it rattling about in my head.

If you're inclined to self-assessment, though, I guess it could be interesting.

If you don't want to, just jump straight to the cuteness. If I've figured this cut thing out correctly.

Read more... )



And because I did say I didn't want to end the day on that note, let's end it on this: the first baby wild horse born in the Czech lands (ha!) in centuries. (Okay, technically an Exmooor pony. Which apparently recent research indicates is as close to the original wild horse as it gets.)

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Some days ago, my father bought a mocca pot, obstinately ignored the instructions to wash it thoroughly and cook several cups of coffee in it without drinking first ("what a waste"), and then very happily pronounced the resulting coffee as tasting exactly the way it used to. The part that boggles me is that I agree with him.
We never had one in all my memory, and neither had anyone I know. And besides, I started drinking coffee only a few years ago and still don't do that often.
The only explanation I have is that grandma has always had this percolator thing or whatever - I'm really confused about all the manners in which coffee can be prepared and the translation - which father says is basically the same thing with different anatomy (not in those words, those are mine); and I may have occasionally tasted it as a child to see if I still hated it.
I don't hate it anymore. I actually approach it like a treat. I'm slightly puzzled by that, too.

But I'm still enjoying the Yorkshire Tea - that father used to bring from Britain years ago and now ordered online - much more. Much more often. We both have a thing for "common black tea", my father and me - that's what he calls it, with carefully put on British pronunciation. How I loved its blackness when he first brought it; back then, the choice of teas in Czech shops was very dismal indeed. It's got better (even the awful awful cheap Czech brand of tea has got slightly better since it's not Czech anymore, I think; in this particular case, being bought off by an international concern was not a bad thing, because the concern is Indian). But Yorkshire Tea is still a class unto itself which I love with all the calm fierceness I imagine English people might love their tea.

* * *

I wonder what my various not-Czech online acquaintances would think of the relish with which I devour bread with lard, salt and fresh onion these days, another blast from the past. (It started a few days ago with the need to consume vitamins in this autumnal time and being left with onions in the house, but by now it's just an excuse.) The trick is, it has to be processed lard, not that sticky soapy pressed stuff. And Czech or similar bread; it would not work with white bread or bread that is somewhat too sweet in taste.
Years ago, a visiting Irish vegetarian man was horrified by the relish with which I ate a similar combination in a pub. I'm not sure what horrified him more, the fact that it was blatantly meat-based, or the blatant amount of fat a young slip of a girl like me was eating without concern. With fresh onion.
* * *
I'm sewing a corset. It's my first properly boned Victorian-ish corset (corded Regency stays don't count in this context); I'm making it for my sister, and, partially due to my lack of experience, it's taking far too long. Also, grommets setting is proving highly unpredictable for me, and tiresome. I've made myself a tiny callus on my right thumb. Thank goodness for thimbles.
I have to keep mom updated on the progress, because she bought the materials as a gift for my sister. It's a roundabout gift and repayment in my family; my sister recently gave me money for a theatre performance as payment for the corset. I went to see one of the Cimrman plays with a cousin, who goes to their plays very, very often and this time she suddenly found herself with a spare ticket.

Anyway, I'm in the handsewing finishing stage, and I'd started (re-)reading Night Watch by Terry Pratchett, and was bemoaning the impossibility of sewing and reading at the same time. Because that would be the perfect thing to keep me going.
The obvious answer is, of course, audiobooks. There does not seem to have been a Czech audiobook of Night Watch published yet, but I found an amateur reading on a file-sharing site. The reader's doing voices and everything. It took me a while to get used to the voices and emphases being different than I imagined, but goodness it's good for an amateur job. Death's voice is run through an echo effect and it's perfect. It's so good they should just recruit the reader and make it official.
He's done Guards! Guards! and Wyrd Sisters as well; I think for a while, my reading vs sewing dilemma is solved neatly.

(I wonder how it works when I do have those books, just not in audio form. Okay, and Guards! Guards! is just barely glued back into book form by now.)

* * *

My father came to my room to share the excitement over the Latvian writing he's found on batteries he bought earlier today:
"'Nemest uguni.' Isn't it beautiful?"
I agreed that it was, and he left to look up the case of "uguns" used in a Latvian grammar.

It is beautiful, in an ordinary beautiful language way.

(It means "Do not throw into a fire." The case seems to be mixed up. Father still doesn't realise just how good with language he is.)
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Summer weather + standing around for over five hours = tiiiiired.
Summer weather + walking around Prague + dancing = fun, let's go see more of Prague! (The impression my sister gives of her Latvians.)

I'll post more when I sort through the photos. They very kindly posed for me for photos of all the female costumes, plus of course I took lots of other photos of other ensembles as well. (I love Latvian folk costumes. And folk costumes from the general Baltic area. Compared to costumes from areas like France, you can really see how they would have been made at home.)

I don't have any videos, because my camera tends to turn itself off after less than a minute when I take videos...

So an old one. This song's very popular with Latvian folklore dance ensembles; the lyrics are traditional, the melody and arrangement are by the Latvian music group Iļģi.

Heh. Really, really popular.

(That's from Dzeismu svétki, the Festival of Songs, a tradition since the 1870s. I guess this goes a long way towards explaining why this particular choreography seems so widespread.)
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
I'm rather glad to be, because it's hot outside. 18:45 PM, and it's still 33 degrees Celsius. In the shade. The cats have been playing dead all day. A little bit of a wind has just picked up, so I guess I'll venture outside and finally hang the laundry.

Czech Republic is suffering from droughts.

My sister had to leave the house through the window, because our metal entrance door (to the garden) expanded so much in the heat we flat out could not open it. While it does tend to expand in the summer, I don't think that's ever happened before.

She needed to go to Prague because she'll be playing guide to a Latvian folklore dance group in the days to come. I have to stay in, because I can't leave and leave the window open, obviously. I hope it'll get better in the days to come, because there's that upcoming folklore festival and I really would like to go there!
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Take 1 as in, my initial thoughts on it. :-)

I've made three claims; two stories down, one to go.

Someone made a claim on my prompt overnight - yes, indeed, I've been sitting like a stupid watchdog on it. The claim's made me giddily happy, even though there's no story yet.

The whole exercise, especially thinking about a "safe story" for the prompt, has also made me realise that in the recent months (not sure how long), I've adopted a much more cavalier attitude towards my creations than I'd had for the rest of my life before.
Read more... )

So now that I was looking at my stories, I realised I did not feel all that attached to any of them to prevent them from being remixed. I guess this means, if I ever publish any original work, I may be less bothered by fandom. :D
marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
To Anonymous NFE Writer, Marmota, scribbler from the Czech Lands, Greetings.

Thank you very much for generously offering to lend your time and talents to my whims.

I have long been wishing for a greater number of stories that tell of the smaller and less known inhabitants of Narnia rather than the famous kings and queens (not that I find the reasons they are famous unimportant). I would like to hear the story of the Robin that led the Pevensie siblings to the Beavers. And to know her name (see my previous post as to why "her"). I would like to know what Pattertwig's journey to the Lantern was like, and when and how he came back, and whether he had a family. I would like to read of the exploits of Narnian Frogs, and what the Kestrels are like. Or I would like to know if there are Dormice living in Narnia, and what their culture is like. Or whether the Jackdaw who became the first joke became wise in old age. That kind of stories.

I would also like to know if there are other creatures, considered mythical in our world, living in Narnia or the world around. Did they, perhaps, travel to our world at some point, to account for the existence of the myths and folklore? Or were the myths and folklore, in some inexplicable way, the basis for their creation?

Come to think of it, how did the Marshwiggles come to be, and what are their relations with Water Rats like?

Basically, I am really interested in what the NFE tags deem Narnian Subcultures and Backstory, with a dose of Worldbuilding, Mythology & Folklore or Mythical Creatures thrown in.

I prefer stories of friendship over romance (but I like a good, character-based romance, too, when it comes to it); I prefer not to read slash, definitely do not want incest, and would prefer for my story to stay in the area up to T.

Thank you, once again, for listening to my ruminations, and good luck in trying to accommodate them - and may you receive just the kind of story you wish for!

Written in an undisclosed location in the Czech Lands, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Redthrive, in the year 2015.
marmota_b: Photo of a purple flower against sunlight, shining through (End of August)
I'm in the final stages of moving from one flat when at school to another. My family had been occupying the old one for over ten years, it turns out; my sisters before me. We kept finding Things. Little sentimental mementoes and practical things completely forgotten about because they were part of the landscape. A little ceramics whale I made years ago in art class. Four extension cords; I nearly forgot one. The dust pan and brush, and the bin. Father's tools. He even had a pair of jeans left behind in the wardrobe. The curtains in the kitchen window were about five shades of grey darker at the bottom than they were on top.
We have to move out because the house is a little over a hundred years old and apparently the electrical wiring in the flat hasn't been changed since it was first put in, or something. And there's a persistent gas leak. And the bath is in the kitchen, which was fun while we were there, kind of, except that there was no door, just a curtain, so, you know, the new tennants will no doubt want a more modern approach to in-house hygiene.
The old little green sink in the toilet that I'm so fond of and refused to have replaced got a stamp of approval from a member of the reviewing committee (there was my aunt, whose house it is, the young lady who helps oversee the house for her, and the man in charge of the upcoming renovation). It made me a little warm inside. Hopefully the new tennants will like it, too.

The new flat is somewhat smaller, which means now there's stuff everywhere, before I figure out where it all goes. And I kind of hate the bed; I slept on the floor in the old flat, because it turns out I like my sleeping surfaces really hard. So for now, I sleep on the floor again, which of course doesn't help the situation with stuff everywhere. And there are zero nails in the walls and we're not allowed to put in new ones, which is rubbish, especially because I have several pictures and a mirror.
There's a river at one side, and forested hills on the other side, and gardens everywhere, including right in front of the balcony that my room opens into. (The neighbours have chicken even, which is so much right, and I've heard a woodpecker and seen a jay.) And even though there's a fairly frequented road right in front of the house, it's still a considerable step up from the old place where there's one of the busiest streets, right next to a busy crossroads, and trams going underneath your window every ten minutes or so; and if your forgot your laptop open overnight, it would be covered in dust in the morning.
Also, internet. Right now, I'm sitting in the old flat with the mobile connection, which has been rendered mostly obsolete with the move.
So it's mostly a win.

All the moving and all the school stuff, though, means there hasn't been much fanfiction writing in the past months. I can't move on with The Peridan Chronicles, even though I want to. I'm stuck on a chapter that needs primarily stylistics, and an ethical/spiritual debate, and such like, which requires more thinking than I have mental capacity for for the time being. I figured out the stuff with the Polynesian heritage for Telmarines I mentioned before (it makes so much sense for this character I had had a vague idea for), and that's about it when it comes to inspiration for it.
There hasn't even been any sewing (aside from darning a sock recently), which tends to be my go-to activity when I'm intellectually depleted.

In other news, though, I wrote two limericks in the creative writing course, one as my regular assignment and one instead of a critique because the critique was to point out the rhyming scheme; so I feel rather accomplished in that regard. Me and poetry don't normally get on.

So I'm sitting in the old flat, writing a post to make sense of it. To put a thick line behind it. Something along those lines. I'll miss the green sink, but the green chairs went with me. On the bus. In three consecutive journeys over the weekend. My sister joked that the drivers on the line would come to believe there was a green-chair-wielding ghost haunting them.

This should not fit, but the mood does.

marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)
Today, in a lesson on war poets (WW1), our teacher said something along the lines of "who knows what we lost in the trenches of WW1, considering what we did get," speaking of some philosophers and writers, pondering how different the world would be if they had died in the war. I immediately thought of Lewis and Tolkien - how diferent the world would be without them! I did not say it aloud, because it would be very much derailing the discussion, but I'm thinking the difference might have, at this point, been even more pronounced than in those cases he named. It would have, most certainly, meant a much more profound difference in my own life.

Just to think of what children's books were like before The Hobbit, and those are people's first introduction to literature. Well, it's not entirely like The Hobbit is the only one (and there's George MacDonald if nothing else), but it's definitely sort of a class for itself. Fantastic literature would, of course, be very different - and considering how many fantasy and sci-fi, or sort of something like that, films we get these days... If all that had emerged from the trenches of WW1 had been modernism, there would certainly be something significant missing from the world as it is today.

I'm definitely biased; someone else might have been hugely impacted by modernism. I wasn't, not that same way. So there's that personal factor. But this is a personal journal; I'm not aspiring to academia here.

So there's no deep thought in this, I'm afraid, but it did make me wonder how much of my imagination as well as my ability to see the beauty of the real world, including the beauty of language, owes to those two. At an early age, just like Lewis points out in a defense of fantasy, their enchanted forests taught me to see some enchatnment in every forest. At an early age, they taught me about the fragile connection between reality and language, without me realising it. Think of all those descriptions Lewis gives, only to end saying it wasn't quite like that, really. "Yrch," said Legolas, falling into his own tongue. It's sort of banal, but it jumped out at me, and remained with me ever since.
("Philosophy was killed by language," the teacher said, in that same abovementioned line of thought, although I sort of missed the connection, because I forgot which philosopher/thinker he was referring to.)
I probably would not be studying English if I had not grown up with their books. I would not have learned to love Englishness without the hobbits and Puddleglum and countless other little instances; and in the very same way, I probably would not have learned to love Czechness so much.


marmota_b: Photo of my groundhog plushie puppet, holding a wrapped present (Default)

June 2017



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