Monday, March 8, 2010

Memories of Japan: Email "Sent: 24/8/07"

Imagine for a moment that you are sitting on a train. a young woman opposite you sits down. she's obviously not from around these parts. she looks distinctly "foreign". As you are on a train, and stranger observation is a given, you don't look away when she reaches into a bag and takes out a banana. She looks at the banana with obvious anticipation in her eyes. Without first peeling it, she brings it up to her mouth whole and just as her teeth are about to sink into the thick skin, something deep down inside you calls out: "AREN'T YOU GOING TO PEEL IT FIRST!". It was a gut reaction. You didn't mean to say it...but could you really have let her bite into a banana without warning her first? The woman looks up in obvious surprise. The young man standing next to her reacts first: "oh, it's ok. that's the way we eat bananas where we're from." at this point, half the carriage is looking at him, with unconcealed curiosity. He goes on to explain to his captivated audience that they eat the skins of many fruits. Grapes, pears and so on. The carriage nod sagely at this nugget of information. The young woman looks at you apologetically, smiles, and slowly bites into the banana, not showing any displeasure at the texture or taste of the skin. You, along with the rest of the carriage, watch the girl progress through the banana, and half heartedly but unsuccessfully try to guard your incomprehension. you smile at the woman and file the incident away in your memory, for relating to friends and neighbors in the near future.

the real story is that i (the foreign woman)bit into a whole peach! the rest of the story is exactly as happened! the reaction of the woman sitting opposite me was so impulsive and so strong, that i could only understand it if i substitued the peach in my brain with a banana.
It's so strange for me to think that I have been here an entire year, and am only now learning that people usually peel their peaches before eating them. who'd a thunk it! it makes me happy that i have decided to stay on here for a second year! i feel like i still have sooo much to learn! lots of it food related! i am without doubt head over heels in love with japanese food!

incidentally, the peaches here are huge, delicious and almost overflowing with sweet juices. seriously. they are good. i can't stop eating them. regardless of the fact that they cost about a euro each. sometimes more. i also can't stop chanting my newly learnt tongue twister: sumomo mo momo mo momo no uchi. (plums and peaches are part of the peach family)

Sunday, December 27, 2009


My newspaper dress on the runway...

Once upon a time (read, a few years ago) I decided that I could do a dressmaking class by night in my final year of college. The dressmaking class in effect, was a skirt making class, as this is the easiest of the garments, it turns out. We spent a lot of time learning pattern making and not so much time actually sewing up finished garments. Twas just after finishing this class that I decided I could cut out pattern pieces in newspaper and sew them up to make a cheap costume for a fancy dress party. I later added a top to it and put it in a fashion show held during Trinity Arts Week which featured a section for outfits made from recycled oddments by Trinity students. I had all but forgotten about this until the evening of Christmas Day when my cousin was telling me about her recent plastic bag creations, and her intention to make her next costume out of newspapers. From this, rang some bells, and the bells led to a quick bebo search for photos taken by my friend Maeve all those years ago (read, 3 or 4?) before I myself became a camera owner. Here they are swiped from Bebo to entertain your curiosity and fulfill my desire to post more frequently!

My newspaper dress leaving the runway...

Monday, December 21, 2009

A 5 minute post for Maeve

I am a sporadic knitter.

My most recent knitting endeaver led me to/forced me to learn two new knitting skills. WOOP!
  1. knitting on 4 double pointed needles
  2. buttonholes
Knitting on double pointed needles enables you to knit a tube rather than a flat piece of material.

My tube shaped project of choice was to be a pair of wrist warmers in which two buttonholes acted as thumbholes! Nice!

Me with finished wrist warmers

Knitting techniques, I find are almost impossible to learn from words alone. In an ideal world, I would be learning from a friend or relative, but as my favourite knitting enthusiast no longer lives in the same country as me, I find internet tutorials to be absolutely brilliant in getting you over the couple of hurdles that you'll usually stumble across in patterns. (how to+youtube+knitting technique listed in pattern=pure brilliance!) Knitters love youtube. Who knew!

I adapted this pattern for wrist warmers on knitty.
I kept the ribbing for the first and last inch of the pattern, but in between I wanted plain stockinette stitch.
Knitting on double pointed needles produces stockinette stitch just by knitting constantly, which is a lovely surprise!!! (Usually, stockinette stitch is made from knitting one row, and purling the next.) Who knew!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

college art....

"Mary and Joseph" or "What I did in school on Monday"

Increasingly, there is a very negative atmosphere in college these days. The general feeling is that we have a million assignments that we are drowning in, while our energy still goes on attending lectures where we might spend (as on Monday just gone) an hour folding, tearing and scrunching paper to make a nativity scene in low relief, that nobody will ever see...
I hope that one day I'll do this with my future students and look back on it and be glad that instead of cramming for an Irish grammar exam (current concern.....oh so many rules to learn) I was making 3D stick figures that give no clue to their identity....

Friday, July 17, 2009

Introducing Claire

Claire's Facebook Profile Picture

My amazingly talented, funny and truly lovely friend Claire makes beautiful clothes. She has flawless taste, and although I have only seen one finished garment (an oh so cute chocolate brown corduroy long sleeved dress. I want one!!) I know that she is constantly playing around with patterns and ideas, but, isn’t there always a but, Claire’s budding career as a designer has a shadow hanging over it; for Claire the designer has a significant though endearing flaw; a kind of humble inability to finish pieces. She is a perfectionist, which is great, but dangerous! If she finished and displayed some of her work, I have no doubt but that people would want and love her clothes. Like me, and like a lot of other people, she rarely works or does anything really, without specific, immutable deadlines, but deadlines, she can meet, and meet them well! So, in an attempt to force…ahem, help Claire, I have suggested that she complete 2 designs, make them up in an array of fabrics, and bring them to the Dublin Flea Market (held on the last Sunday of every month) who incidentally have the most whimsically lovely posters imaginable.

We are aiming for the September Market. I plan to be there too selling baked goods beside her, keeping her company, and luring people over to her stall in a non threatening manner with tasty treats. For once people see her clothes, how will they possibly be able to resist? Sneaky! Now you know!

“And what does this all have to do with you and your blog Marol?” wailed the children….

At the time of our conversation, I didn’t quite realise it, but Claire knows that I too have an inability to work without deadlines, and so, in return she has badgered me into committing to a weekly Friday blog entry. So, there, I’ve said it. I will be posting every Friday. Now you know that too.

Acknowledging and ignoring the Fear

I listen to a podcast called “This American Life” religiously and subsequent to the recomendation of blogger extraordinaire: Anjali. It is a brilliantly edited

collection of random stories and intriguing glimpses into peoples’ lives, which leaves you convinced that the world is a beautiful place full of wonder and meaning at every turn, even if it is occasionally bittersweet and at times heartbreaking. Basically, it’s really good. The Irish listenership for the podcast is still very low, but it is a household name in the States so I hear. Ira Glass, the host of this wonderful show, has to his own admission done some truly awful broadcasting early in his life, but is adamant that in order to progress and get good, you have to just put yourself out there, bad as you might be at the start, and that is the only way to progress. And, as I would like to progress as a blogger, you my potentially non existent readers may have to ….for a time….endure some truly awful posts….but if Ira is right….I can only improve!! Now you know, now you know it all.

Monday, May 4, 2009

and after all the worry...

a bud from my ash tree

You wouldn't believe how happy I was when I finally saw that my tree was producing leaves!!!
Hooray! Isn't it beautiful? I really can't believe I've never paid any attention to buds and leaves before.... The shame is mounting. Mounting.

oil crayon drawing for my "Adopt a Tree" project

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kandinsky update....

I taught the Kandinsky lesson to my Junior Infant class on my first week of Teaching Practice, and this is what they produced....

I know I'm biased....but...aren't they gorgeous?