Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Ichiroya Kimono Flea Market!

Yesterday I was browsing one of my favourite websites, where I normally buy kimono and other lovely Japanese goods, like fabrics and so on... The site is and they offer a truly awesome selection of kimono, geta, silk bolts, cotton bolts, yukata etc. Ichiroya is run by a lovely couple, Ichiro San and his wife Yuka San, from beautiful Osaka, along with their wonderful, helpful staff. They are a great authority in kimono matters indeed and, every Sunday, they do publish a fantastic newsletter, which is a treasure for whoever is interested in Japan, their culture and facts.

Some months ago I bought some vintage fabric samples from them, brought it to Rio and asked Cenira, who is a fantastic seamstress, to make some little cushions for my neko. My Mother bought some ribbons and tassles in the habberdashery, and we came up with lovely designs for the cushions.

I brought it to Dublin and took some pics of some of my neko sitting on the cushions. I sent it to Yuka San and Ichiro San and they have published it in the Ichiroya's photo album! It's so cool, I loved it! My neko now are famous, real "top models"! I was so happy to see them there! Have a look at them in Ichiroya's page here:

Yuka San and Ichiro San have a Photo Album space where they publish photographs of their customers and their kimonos, including handicraft, obi displays, kimono displays of course, and kitsuke (or "how to wear"). It's great. They also receive piles of wonderful pieces everyday and post their photographs every night! Lots of work involved! They do ship everywhere, and it's all very easy, since you can use Paypal and they can dispatch it via EMS, if you wish. It's so fast, you wouldn't believe it! And the service is amazing, they are always ready to help you, a real gem to deal with.

But what I really adore there is their newsletters. They are all super interesting, and it's a joy reading them. That's why I wait for it so anxiously every Sunday! If you wish to subscribe, you just need to join their Mail List. It's really, really cool!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Contemporary Fairy Tale??...

Well, I just arrived from the cinema with Mark, where we watched The Village by M. Night Shyamalan.

I don't know what to say, except that I was deeply disturbed by the film, since its very beginning. Not only because it's creepy (and I do love horror films mind you). It's not even that. I was feeling really uncomfortable with the story, almost like a personal matter. Don't ask me why. I was about to get up and leave the theatre at one point.

The atmosphere was very unsettling, very dark, disturbing, oppressive, almost like a vivid nightmare, one of those where you want to wake up but cannot. Or, even worse, one of those bad moments in one's life, when one sees there's no escape. The actors were superb though, especially Joaquin Phoenix. Adrian Brody was excellent as well, maybe not as great as in The Pianist, but then again, it's a completely different style, and character, of course.

Again, I am not sure why it has made so uncomfortable, and wanting it to be over. At the same time, I was morbidly curious about it and wanting to see where it would go, or how it would end. I had the impression that everything in that "village" was archetypical, ancient, hidden somewhere deep inside every single inhabitant. As it seems to be the case. At any rate, I don't have much to add about it and, still now, at home, I am feeling a bit strange, and not very comfortable when I think of it.

And the fact that tonight is one of those windy, cold nights (yes, whistling, howling Northern winds!) does not help either!

At any rate, please go see it. I cannot say that I really liked it. I much prefer his Sixth Sense, or Unbreakable, since they did not make me feel unsettled, or weird. Maybe I should just think about it a bit more... But Mark loved it and I want to check what he has to say about it now.

After a Long Time...

... I have decided to post again. I've been too lazy lately, that must be said and not much keen to write much. But today, I'm back!

We have just watched 2001 A Space Odissey on DVD. That was such a remarkable film. I still remember my parents telling me about it when they firstly saw it, ages ago (to be precise when the film was released, was that the 60's? Anyway, a long long time ago). I was very impressed by their opinions about it, although I did not understand much - I was still a little girl. But those things always interested me. At that time I dreamt about being an astronomer, and all the images they described to me were just perfect: the Moon and Jupiter, the monolith, the pitch black, soundless space. I saw it at least 8 times in my adolescence. And it's a film I still love. It's perfect, and it looks "clean". Not like the new Sci-Fi films, where the locations, spacecrafts and even people look quite dodgy, and almost "dirty", dark, dusty... Well, after my parents told me about it, the perspective of a year "2001" was always in my mind: where will I be, how old will I be by then, and what will I be doing. I did not become an astronomer though. And here I am...

What else happened these days? I started a new medication 2 weeks ago, Provigil it's called. The neurologists give it to narcoleptic patients, and MS patients suffering of fatigue (my case). It seems to be working OK, but sometimes I have my doubts. I was quite tired today and spent most of the day in bed (asleep of course), but I also have a cold, so, I cannot really say those pills are not quite working. We never know, and at any rate I will keep taking it unless the docs say otherwise.

This week I received another Hello Kitty doll. These dolls (they are wonderful, so perfect, so detailed) I buy them in a very cool website: JBox (or JList). They are based in Japan (part of it is based in America though) and sell all sorts of Japanese things: from snacks to multi-region DVD players and lots of Anime DVD's and manga. And Kitty-Chan! Needless to say I do love it...

My first doll was Kitty-Chan dressed as Fuji Musume, or the Wisteria Maiden, from a famous Kabuki play of the same title. Mark has posted a picture of her in his blog, and she looks too kawaii to be true! And this one, I found her in JBox some days after I received my Fuji Musume. Now her character is called Shizuka Gozen, or Lady Shizuka.

Lady Shizuka is a character of another kabuki play, Yoshitsune Senbonzakura - that means something like "Yoshitsune and the (Yoshino) Cherry Trees". She was the lover - or concubine - of the great warrior Yoshitsune, from the XIIth Century Japan, in the Heian Era, and originally a sacred dancer in a Shinto srine. She was renowned not only for her beauty and loveliness, but also for the power of her sacred, magical dance.

Herself and her lover were being persecuted by his envious half-brother, the Shogun at the time, Yoritomo. Well, the story is long and sad. She was pregnant of Yoshitsune's child, and arrested by Yoritomo's troops in Kyoto. She's been interrogated on the whereabouts of Yoshitsune but, of course, did not say a word. Knowing that she was pregnant, Yoritomo ordered that, in case the baby was a boy, it should be immediately killed. Any male descendant of Yoshitsune would mean a threat to his rule. And so it happened. When the baby was born, it was indeed a boy, and immediately snatched from her arms and killed in a deserted beach.

Before letting Shizuka go, Yoritomo was determined to see her perform one of her famous dances. She resisted, of course, but convinced (and fooled) by the Shogun's servants, went to a nearby shrine to perform a sacred dance, a supplication dance as per their suggestion. The Shogun was observing her, hiding behind a bamboo blind in the shrine. Everyone looking at her dance at that moment was bewitched, enchanted, mesmerised. She realised then she has been fooled and changed from a dance to a love song in honour of her beloved.

That enfuriated the Shogun, of course, but at the same time, it was undeniably beautiful, and he just let her go back to Kyoto and did not harm her at all. Arriving there though and still separated from her beloved, she cut off her long hair, completely shaved her head and decided to become a nun. Yoshitsune meantime, has been tracked down by Yoritomo's warriors and killed. It seems she died of grief one year after.

Well... Too sad, but most kabuki plays are like that. It seems Shizuka was only eighteen at the time. It also seems she is not a real character, but part of the world of legends. Yoshitsune, however, was a real warrior, as was the Shogun, Yoritomo.

Well, back to Kitty-Chan dressed as Shizuka Gozen: she wears kimono, a golden obi and red silky obijime, and also a juban (under-kimono). She graciously bears a tiara, or kanzashi pin in her head, decorated with delicate silver flowers. Finally, in her left hand she holds a ko-tsuzumi, which is a small hand-held drum used in kabuki and noh plays and dances. Have a look at her:

As for the display sign, I am not sure what it means, but I know the very first kanji at the top reads her name, Shizuka. If anyone can read the other two kanji, please let me know!

Friday, July 23, 2004

Back to Ireland

It's been a long time since my last blog. As expected, I did not post anything while I was in Rio. We had a great time there, and this time I was completely relaxed, not worrying too much, about anything!

I need to tell about all the things we saw and did in those 2 weeks, skipping of course the travel in our way in! That was a nightmare! But at least we got all the suitcases and very quickly this time. But it was horrendous. At least this time Mark was with me. When it happened last year, I was travelling alone. They even put me at the Sheraton, with a wonderful bedroom, flip-flops and a fluffy bathrobe. But all I could do was crying, so stressed I was...

I was sick when we were there, as usual with a cough/cold. It seems this cough will never go away. And also, the bruise/burn in my tummy became very nasty and I needed to go to a Dermatologist there. She said it almost got necrosed! And prescribed me some topic antibiotic, which has improved things since the very first day. Well, not completely healed yet, but almost there.

We came back to Ireland on Saturday, arrived here last Sunday. All very tiring, but I happened to meet a lovely girl in the plane, Cristiane. She is a Brazilian living in Bristol, and we had a very nice chat. It was great. I will email her this weekend.

I was not very well this week and have been to my GP yesterday. It's the fatigue caused by my condition, and besides I was also quite dizzy and a bit nauseous today. So, I did not go to the office today, nor the day before yesterday. I expect to be back on Monday, as soon as I am recovered.

Mark is renting a car this weekend and tomorrow we'll go to a Serono training in the City Centre. They are releasing a new injector that hopefully will make these injections easier and, who knows, not as sore.

Now, it's time to go and read a bit, after a nice shower with lots of lemony shampoos and my new Molton Brown shower gel. Is there anything better than lots of lemony, citrussy, fresh bath stuff when it's Summer?? I love it, I feel very invigorated with these green scents... And I finally managed to get a bottle of "Hierbas de Ibiza" today, so, I am all fresh and comfy now...

Good Night now!

Friday, July 02, 2004

Itekimasu!!! (Or... "I'm Off!!!")


I didn't post anything these days, because I was sick (again!). Yes, on Tuesday and also yesterday, but now I just don't want to talk about it!

Today is the first day of my Hols! Mark is still working though, for officially his vacations start on Monday.

I am here trying to make a pancake, I know I am a lousy cook, but I will give it a try. I forgot to ask Mark if I need to stir the mixture (he prepared it yesterday, so it's just taking it off the fridge) and, in those 10 minutes where the pan is heating, when exactly do I need to add the butter! Ah well, I will try anyways.

We are leaving home at 16h30 to go the airport! Cannot wait to get to Rio! Bringing some more manga and also "Big Fish" to read in the plane! Great!

And I want to spread the news about a new manga that's being released this week by Tokyopop: "Princess Ai". It seems quite interesting and it's also been co-written by Courtney Love. The artwork is very cool, as everything you can expect from Tokyopop. If you are interested, please check this link for a preview (it contains the very first chapter of the book for your appreciation):

I personally liked the graphics VERY much. And will certainly add it to my Amazon Wish List, he he!

Well... Now back to the pancakes. I messed it up. It was too big and it broke when I turned it up. But it was great, really. Horrible, but tasty. And finally, the 2nd pancake was burnt because I forgot to add more butter to the pan. Living and learning. Now I know, and the next time it will not be as bad, I am sure!

Well, talk to you now when I get to Rio! Sayonara!

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Which "Love Hina" Girl Are You?

Well, of course I am... Yeah, you guessed. Mutsumi. Who else? I am clumsy, and a bit of a klutz, distracted and anaemic. I like long skirts and daydream a lot. Sometimes I feel like fainting too - but not to the point of others seeing my soul taking off! It seems I do look a bit younger than what I actually am. Could only be her, really. However I might be Shinobu as well, or so that's what Mark thought before Mutsumi came into the scene! (What I am in the end is a female version of Keitaro. And that would most certainly be Mutsumi, right?)

It's a fun quiz really, and quite clever indeedy. I have attached my results below as well as the link - in case you wish to give it a go!

(Oh dear! Are you even sure you answered the questions correctly?) Underneath your confused exterior, you hold fast to your certainties and seek to find the truth about the things you don't know. While you may not be brimming with confidence and energy, you are content with who you are and accepting of both your faults and the faults of others. But while those around you love you deep down, they may find your nonchalance somewhat infuriating. Try to put a bit more thought into what you are doing, and be more aware of your surroundings.

Which Love Hina Girl Are You?

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Another Day in Rainy Dun Laoghaire

(Or would that be "Another Rainy Day in Dun Laoghaire"?)

An uneventful day at work today. Mark is out in Godalming, for a presentation with our SITA bosses. He woke up quite early, around 5h30 or so. I could not sleep very well after that.

Well, the thing is I burnt my tummy with my heat pad (for my interferon injections) some days ago and now it not only looks pretty nasty, as it is quite sore too. I am afraid it's got infected or something. If it persists, I will probably need to go to Dr. Kavanagh before our trip to Rio next week.

(I am tired of going to doctors, although Dr. Kavanagh is really nice and everything. It's just that I am quite fed up with being sick and needing to go to hospitals and GP's almost every month or so...)

And besides that my face has got quite itchy and red today, really annoying. Damn, damn, damn! If you have MS there's always something going on, really. And then you don't know if it's just a normal ailment, or if it's caused - or somehow worsened - by the MS itself.

I've noticed that since I got diagnosed, or maybe even before that (not quite sure now) it's getting harder for me to recover from, say, a cold. Everything seems to last for longer and affects me more. It's a pain in the behind, really...

(Or maybe... Maybe I am just becoming an old wreck and it's not the MS, but purely and simply "old age", ha ha...)

I didn't take a lunch break today because the weather is very very miserable, rainy and windy and chilly, and silly me did not bring an umbrella. Maybe Summer is over, after some 2 or 3 weeks of impeccable sunny and breezy days. Well, we'll be in Rio in only 10 days anyways, so, do not despair Andrea, do not...

What was I saying? Ah yes, since I did not have a lunch break (nor a real "lunch" mind you), I'm gonna head home in 15 minutes or so, have a nice shower, wash my face and put some calming lotion all over it to see if the "itchy & scratchy" sensation goes away. And pretend I'm in a zombie movie... Actually not! I will just relax. Read some "Love Hina". Then switch on that dishwasher, bring the rubbish down to the garage (important thing!), have my injection, relax, relax, relax (not necessarily in that order)... And, last but not least, wait for Mark.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

My 1st Post!!!!

I am so excited! This is my first post to this weblog thingy. Welcome!

I have decided to make a weblog myself after Mark started to use Blogger. I must confess I was a tiny bit jealous, he he! Just a bit...

Ah well, I will try and use this as a diary, for friends and family. However, I'm a bit lazy and don't know if I'm gonna be diligent enough to keep doing it, you know, everyday and so on!

(Will try at least!)

Not much news today, except that i have received a new neko! This one I ordered from Cocoro, that great Japanese shop in Toronto. Murakami San is very helpful and, after ordering it on Tursday night, it's been promptly dispatched and arrived today (only 2 business days). Actually this neko is a picture frame. I still need to find someone fluent in Japanese to translate some of the characters for me. Not very likely to succeed here in Ireland, but let's see. If I were in Rio, that would be easy-peasy though.

It arrived broken, because it's quite fragile. The parcel was very well packed of course, but I can imagine how these things may be handled by those people in the airports, mail offices, delivery companies etc, and that in spite of all the "fragile" stickers that have been carefully attached to the boxes... It's a porcelain frame, thus, very likely to get damaged.

Thanks to Mark though, it's all fixed now (husbands are SO useful!!!). He used some Super-Glue and voilà! My neko frame is born-again! Here's a pic of my new neko acquistion (ain't that super-cute???)...

I've also ordered some new geta from Cocoro. Geta are Japanese sandals, made out of wood, this one is paulownia. Right and left foot are the same (differently from our Western shoes that have left and right foot), and they have a silk strap (well, I usually see geta with silk straps anyways, but I'm sure they can be made of any other material, or fabric). They are the most comfortable shoes I ever worn, and I use them as flip-flops (I think Ireland is a bit too cold and wet to go outside wearing them, unfortunately). This one has a black hanao ("strap") with an embroidered rabbit, and it looks and feels very nice. I want to take a picture, but now I am a bit tired!

What else for today? Emailed my friend Cíntia, my Mom is going bananas with no email (that Symantec anti-virus is messing up the dialup connection, it seems) and Mark is reading Love Hina right now! Who said Love Hina is "for gals"??? Nah-nah-nee-nah-nah... Boyz love it too, it seems! (Well, Mark does at least)... I'm also reading it of course, but I am only at volume 8. It's great, I highly recommend it, hilarious indeed. I will tell more in my next posts, hopefully.

Well, Good Night, if I'm not too lazy/too tired and things like that, see ya tomorrow...