Earl Grey and I

If you are looking for a passionate love affair, you have come to the right place. This is the story of a girl, who met her true love in a mansion, on the shore of the restless Atlantic Ocean. They had met before, they were, in fact, fairly well aquainted, but only the absence after ages of adversity made the girl realise, how she had missed him, how she had always loved him better than anyone in the world.

It was the year 2006 and the west coast of Ireland was having a miraculously warm and sunny June and July.

I was working in Renvyle House Hotel as a waitress, splitting shifts, drinking from the bar after hours, walking to Tully or Tullycross, the nearest… villages?.. in the evening for drinks with the other hotel staff. Every morning I woke to this view outside the door of the stables converted to staff quarters:

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For a person who doesn’t eat red meat the menu for the staff feedings was appalling.. But luckily after a few days of eating only the potatoes and (apparently) celery which had been boiled in grease so that even I could eat it, I made friends with one of the young chefs who started to feed me feta-pesto-vegetable filos and delicious vegetarian risottos. In secret of course.

But the tea didn’t get better. On my days off I hiked the 4 miles (three times a week) or 8 miles (twice a day) to the nearest bus stop and headed to Clifden or some such place. More often even, I walked a few hundred metres until I hit a bigger road and then hitch-hiked my way around the west coast. Sitting in cafes, going for a drink in pubs, listening to awesome sessions and so on.

But nothing could save me from the disgusting lamb-flavoured tea that I got for the most of the time at Renvyle. I mean, I love tea. I love the  making of it, and the feel of the clean china and the steam from the kettle and the slow steep of colour into the water and finally the delicious taste and feel as the hot liquid fills my mouth and warms me as I drink it. I love holding a tea cup. But the only thing is, the only enjoyment the tea could give me was that finger-warming sensation. After that it was pure shite, excuse my Irish expression.

Apparently I have some gift for making friends and lo, and behold, one of the lunch chefs, a Polish woman who knew almost no English at all (and I don’t speak Polish) fell in love with me and I fell in love with her. She was the kindest person, with a sad story, only too common, of a child and a husband she was keeping in bread in Poland. You know those people who you don’t need a common language with? She was one of those. She fed me strawberries and ice cream when the management got shitty. She brought me tea, when I had a flu. I will always remember her as one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

And one day, she gave me a small stash of the better quality, Twinnings Earl Grey teabags. It is hard to describe what it felt like, the kindness. I had done nothing for her. I had nothing to offer her but to be kind to her and appreciate that she was a person in her own right. And she made me the first cup of Earl Grey that tasted like heaven after the long hours running around the hotel, carrying trays on one hand (yes I can do that), polishing spoons and being the eye-sore of some of the management (I really don’t know why).

The smell of bergamot and tea will always bring her to my mind. I keep loving the people who love me even though we never see each other again. I keep loving Monica and thinking of her every time I make a cup of Earl Grey tea. It’s like coming home to a place where you are accepted for what you are.

And this ends this soppy love story, one of my very few.

Love,

Maiju

Oscar Gala fashion 2015

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You must all be clamouring to know what glamorous ensemble I’ve chosen to wear for the Oscar Gala this year.

Ever since forever they have somehow mislaid my invitation, but never mind. I am prepared for the night.

This year my costume is a vintage one, from the Christmas collection of 2010. The beautiful details of this flannel dream include columns of red and white snowflakes and stars. It is fashionably adorned with cat hair, tea stains and the bodice is crowned by crumbs of toast.

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On my feet are the beautiful creations of my mother. These unique woollen socks are made of Gjestal’s Maija yarn and they compliment beautifully my chilly toes.

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As stylist I rely enrirely on the local water the showers here spout.

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I will be (probably) live tweeting the whole experience, so pop a pot of popcorn and join me @mayusteapot

Love,

Maiju

Buried in books

I have been rather. Lately.

I mean, maybe I should ask for a Viking burial when I die and that all my books will be burned on the boat with me. Except:

1) Under no circumstances do I encourage or approve of burning (or otherwise harming) books

2) The boat would sink before half the books were on it…

Real talk. How many books have you bought during the past 7 days?

The correct and exact number for me is 13. Thirteen. Yes, I have walked to town three times during the last 7 days and once I only made it to library, which means I didn’t have to pay for the books I carried home.  Of course I’m including here the 5 books I ordered online, one of which is a birthday present to a friend.

If you read this, I would like your opinion. Do you think I have a problem? Because I don’t. But the first step to recovery is supposed to be recognising the problem.

And I don’t always buy so many books. Sometimes I buy only a couple a month.

Anyway. Going to get back to reading. Catch you later!

Love,

Maiju

The Hobbit and Sexism

There has been a storm brewing for a pretty long time now. I will let it rage on page today and hopefullly putting  it to words makes it tame down somewhat.

This post is about The Hobbit and Sexism..

Do you still remember, as I do, when visiting the Middle Earth on a silver screen was a pleasurable experience. When the nature of New Zealand and the props and costumes department made you ooh with wonder. When you were still getting used to seeing one of your favourite secondary worlds in the flesh.

Well, not entirely though. I read The Hobbit when I was 10 and The Lord of the Rings when I was 11. This was in the first half of 1990s. I still remember that my teacher extended the loan period from the normal two weeks to three for The Lord of the Rings. I borrowed the book from the school library. I really don’t remember much about that reading experience, except that I was enthralled and what fascinated my imagination the most at the time, were the descriptions of places and people. I remember seeing the place in my mind very clearly.

So you might guess that since I’d had a clear picture of the people and places in my mind for ten years before I saw the first film (and had reread both books several times), not everything was as I’d imagined it.

So imagine me, stepping back into this magical world after several years and watching the new Hobbit films. The scenery is pretty, I admit. The people are pretty. There is, yet again, too much fighting scenes, that have been put in and then because of that, some interesting non-fighting scenes are left out. There they are again, the horror film elements that Peter Jackson in vain uses to make better a story that is so good that even his additions can’t ruin it.

And then, Tauriel.

I have heard the explanations why Tauriel was added. And I agree with them totally. No girl, or boy, should need to watch a film trilogy which has no women in it.

Tauriel herself doesn’t bother me as such, but it’s what they have made of her. There is so much potential, which falls totally flat on its stomach, breaks a few ribs and crawls under the ruins of the tower on Ravenhill and stares unconsolably at the events unfolding.

When I was a child, it did not bother me one jot that the 14 characters (plus Gandalf) were all men. I should feel ashamed. I should think I’m a bad feminist. But I don’t. The gender of the characters hasn’t made it more difficult for me to identify with the characters. I feel as if people who find it so, are missing the point of the book. The point of the book for me is friendship.

I was brought up in a household which has always upheld the equality of gender. It really hasn’t even been upheld, it’s just been there. I think this is one of the main reasons that it hasn’t bothered me that all the characters in The Hobbit are men. I never saw there to be any reason why they couldn’t be women, any of them, but they just weren’t. And I do see the double edged sword here. People see it as an assumption that they are all men. Because they are going on an adventure. And doing man stuff. And that assumption is bad. What I’m saying is that I didn’t assume anything like it. It hasn’t warped my mind to thinking that only men can have adventures and should be the heros of stories.

In Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, I fully appreciate him bringing in female charachters (TWO WHOLE female characters! Are you sure we can manage two women!?). But the way in which he brings in Tauriel makes my skin crawl.

As I said, for me the theme of The Hobbit, by J.R.R.Tolkien, is friendship. And acceptance. Thirteen tough guys take a small, nerdy, anxious person with them and that person overcomes his fear, and earns his place among the tough guys. Which has bothered me far more than the gender of the characters. I feel like Thorin and those in his company, who think Bilbo has to earn his place in the crew, are being jack asses. But I really like that also the tough guys have to grow to learn that being small, nerdy and anxious is as valuable as toughness.

Anyway. I’m finally getting to my point. (Finally.)

Tauriel is a kick-ass character. She fights well, she makes her own decisions. What I don’t get is, why the bloody hell does she have to have this romantic plot with Kili to promt her actions?!?!?!?!!??!?!?!

Why, oh why couldn’t she just be the elf who accepted the dwarves as people, people who make mistakes and who are hungry for gold, but people all the same. Her potential is the intelligent elf who sees the matter from a new perspective and because of that helps the dwarves, the elf who befriends, Eru forbid, some of the dwarves and accepts them as equals and fights with them because of that. Completely missing from the film is also the acceptance of the rest of the dwarves of Tauriel. It seems like they are grudgingly okay with her because their mate has a crush on her. This bothers me so much because in the book, gender has no relation to the actions, in my mind, of the characters (even though they all happen to be male), but in the films the romantic blerghplot between Tauriel and Kili makes gender relevant.

I have read The Hobbit an n amount of times. I really don’t know how many. Always, when I’ve finished it, I start it again. I’ve read it from end to beginning twice (a chapter at a time) and I’ve read it aloud several times. I have it in 10 languages. It is one of my favourite books. And still, after all these years and reads, what touches my heart very strongly is this simple line:

Fili and Kili had fallen defending him [Thorin] with shield and body…

I was looking forward to this scene in the film. It is just mentioned after the fact in the book, so I was waiting for Peter Jackson to show me one of my favourite heroic moments, when these friends stand side by side and fight Goblin and Wolf, Orc and Warg. Instead, Fili fell from a tower and Kili had a lame “romantic” death at the feet of Tauriel.

So yes, I am all for adding female characters to stories where there are none. But I am totally against the requirement, that if there is a female character, her existence must be justified by a lame romantic plot.

So grrrrr…

Okay. I might continue about this later if I feel like it, but now it’s over and out from me. Have a good Wednesday!

Love,

Maiju

Unbroken crochet

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As it happens, due to a turn of events (mainly a missing subtitle file), The Theory of Everything was cancelled for today so instead we saw Unbroken. Which was actually what I wanted to see more.

It was a captivating film and Alexandre Desplat’s music carried through it. It sounds so effortless! Now I really want to read the book the film is based on.

The Lion visited with his mum after the film and I’ve been crocheting the Great A’tuin the whole evening. I got new yarn for it since I didn’t have enough to finish it and ended up starting it all over. The two hexagons above I crocheted at the film.

It was actually just me and my dad in the cinema! So no one gaped at me for crocheting. We could have talked as well during the film but it was so intense that we didn’t.

The Theory of Wednesday

I went for a walk with my friend and her little (oh my Google) soon 6-month old boy, whom we call the Lion in English conversations.

The sky is grey and it’s approximately 0ºC with no wind, so it’s fairly warm. The treebranches are burdened with heavy snow and form interesting arched avenues in the patches of woods at the shore. And a pink line of clear but hazy sky can be seen on the western horizon over the sea ice.

So yes. A nice before-noon. I just emerged from the shower and will soon dry my hair and head to town with my dad to see The Theory of Everything.

Now that I think about it, I really didn’t have anything special to say. Well, will publish this anyway. Bear with me 😛

Love,

Maiju