Thursday, November 21, 2013


 Some 19 months ago I decided to turn off all chat functions of gmail.

I don’t get to see who is “on” and people from my address book don’t get to see the dot advertising my availability.

Why did I do that?

Well, I did not like the feeling that people were contacting me by pure opportunity. That we are conversing because of pure chance of my dot being green and that my time is being used as a filler because of someone else’s boredom. As this was something that bothered me I first took out a trial period in which I only made myself “invisible” and when that confirmed my hypothesis that “out of sight is out of mind” since no whatayodoin’ e-mails came during that period I took the leap and turned the availability banner off.

I like to think of my communication habits as one stemming from interest. When I wish to speak (correspond/converse/interact) with someone I wish to do so with particular person and about particular topic or field at which I consider that particular person to be an expert or valuable opinion holder. Some people give good money advice, some are well versed in music issues, with some I share skill or proclivity and some are exquisite “devil’s advocates” that find downsides even to most glorious deals. Some of them are wonderful people that emote and share in a way that one feels honored to spend time in their presence.

I find their expertise precious and their willingness to share it a gift. To waste anybody’s time by demeaning their worth using them as a prop to pass the time feels plain wrong.

So what did I get by going through with this change?

Well, I got the realization just how much of people that surround me will not be contacting me anymore. That is profoundly awakening fact. I learned that even the idea of “choice” in this issue - of consciously removing oneself out of the white noise of undirected traffic - is unheard of, strange and repulsing to some people. That some people fear that they will be forgotten (what basically  does that say about their relationships if being available around the clock is prerequisite for interaction?).

I also learned who will contact me and how kind and caring people can be, in addition to their fields of expertise. I learned that it is much easier to be attentive to own and other people’s states and needs if you’re not drowning in a flood of dopamine.

It is not strange now to see several e-mails from friends or people still unknown a week and for that e-mails to be full of substance and emotion so I have to think a day or two of what do I write back. It gives me the feeling of conversing in “snail mail” and waiting for a mailman that I still remember brought great joy. People sometimes contact me to tell me they loved my post or that they would like an advice on knitting or clinical trials or movie or want to discuss divorce or some other thing I made public here in this blog and I never ever feel like we’re wasting each other’s time.

It just brings great joy.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Man Zero and Russian Circles @ Mocvara 16Nov2013

Nothing ever changes, nothing stays the same.

I woke up yesterday, on the morning of the concert I've been waiting for over two years and ticket to which I've been proudly owning from the day they were released, with fever and sore throat, pounding headache and stressful news in my inbox.

Life as usual.

I prioritized; sickness today, stress tomorrow.

So I made some caramel milk and some good food and kept myself busy and warm. Night came. I expected terrible crowd so I parked even before the overpass and walked to Mocvara watching fog rise up from the river. Went in. Met friends old and new and smiled and conversed.

Soon, Man Zero were up...

... and the sound was so impeccable and beautiful - loud and clear and particular and warm - I was standing there in the front moved and in rapture. I have listened to them half a dozen times already and I know they are excellent but there is always something new or something more and their music always feels so fresh and so familiar at the same time.

There is often a gimmick at the end of their performance when they use effects, pound on guitars and extract the sounds from their instruments while leaving the stage and even though it wasn't my first time to see this I find it completely great and a perfect ending to the show.

... and I love how there are always people to show genuine surprise with this:

After a short break and some stage rearranging it was time for Russian Circles to go up. In the meantime the audience changed and Mocvara was now jam-packed with people. Many of that people were clearly not there because of Russian Circles music but to socialize and that would later prove to be exceptionally annoying because they couldn't keep their mouth shut during quieter passages so they successfully mangled the experience of a flow of the performance into isolated islands of noise in a yapping stream of stupidity.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First Russian Circles got out and they played.

... and in my opinion there were two things miscalculated from their side. First was the fog. Fog makes for lousy visibility so it is lousy for taking pictures, but it also distracts audience from performers into their own world of having fun. Slightly tipsy and half drunk people find easier to forget they are on a live show when they are not able to see it so they talk and, what's even worse, they take out their cigs and smoke - what fucks it up for that other half who would like to participate in a live gig.

Second thing is the sound itself. It took me shortest possible amount of time to see that this is not going to be crystalline sound of a gig dedicated to skill. This was more of a grinding gig, showing their metallic side, power over skill, and that brought too much bass into the equation. 

All things considered; the audience, the fog and the bass - not much of their exquisite music shone through.

I love them to bits so I've already forgiven them, then and there, while sounds of Mladek were filling up the room as a billowing fire of magnificence.

On a nights like this, when I surge from the venue with last notes played still ringing in my ears I so wish it was always a summer night, vibrant and close to the skin, and that it would last forever. 


I could then just keep on walking, with the wonder of that sound in my ears, overjoyed and empty, like a crystal glass holding on to its tone.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Times They Are a-Changin'

Lately, I am pressed for time.
Early evenings make me too tired to write when I come home after all daily responsibilities,
But I listen to new music
And I watch new movies
And I go cycling on weekends (and even sometimes on weekdays!)
And I smell the change in the wind.

Love is IN. Emptiness is OUT.

Graffiti on highway overpass by Podsused bridge in Zagreb. Sentence below reads:"I love you forever"

I feel the tide
and it is changing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Make Your Own Om Nom

My daughter started playing “Cut the Rope” game a while back and she immediately fell in love with that cute Om Nom character. Of course she also wished for a “real one” and came to me with request to make her a knitted companion.

She said: “I KNOW you can do it.” so matter-of-factly and with a wide genuine smile that I could not refuse this request even if I weren’t enjoying the challenges she puts before me.

This toy is a small knitted plushie, filled with polyester fiber (pillow filling) and with details made from felt cloth, cotton thread and buttons. Mine is about 12cm in diameter, size of a larger apple. It is worked on a small set of dpns 2mm or smaller. Choose needle size to produce firm fabric with your chosen yarn. As it is often said to “take time to save time” try your hand/needles/yarn on a small swatch so that toy making doesn’t end in tears when you will be trying to fill too loose package.

So, to make one of your own prepare:
-          One skein of yarn (Om Nom is green in the game but it could be beautiful in any other color also. Depending on a yarn you chose you could have plenty left over as it only takes about 20 g to make one)
-          Set of 5 double pointed needless appropriate for your chosen yarn (mine were 2 mm for yarn Jelka - fingering 4ply, 200 m in 50 g)
-          2-3 handfuls of polyester pillow filling
-          2 small black shank buttons for pupils of the eyes
-          White and black felt cloth (I ran out of white so we used light blue)
          Darning needle
-          Small sewing needle

-          Cotton thread in felt cloth colors

Shaping of the ball that makes the body is like shaping the top of top-down hat like beret/tam that has 8 “slices” at sides of which you do all of your increasing and decreasing.
Using method of disappearing loop cast on 9 stitches (as the method does not allow for even number of stitches).

Preparatory row: divide stitches to 4 needles (2+2+2+3), mark beginning of round if you want (yarn tail will be hanging out of disappearing loop so maybe you can orient by this alone). You will now be working in the round, always with right side work facing you. Try to pull the tail to make sure it can be tightened.

1st row:  knit 2+knit 2+ knit2 and knit 3
2nd row: kfb all but the last 2 stitches, just knit them (there should be 4 stitches on each of 4 dpns)
3rd row: knit
4th row: kfb all stitches (doubling the stitches, there should be 8 stitches on each needle which equals 2 “slices” of 4 stitches each - from this point onward if you think in terms of “slices” it will be easier for you to visualize where to increase and decrease)
5th row: knit
6th row: *kfb, knit 2, kfb* two times per needle (2 slices of 6 stitches each or 12 stitches total per needle)
7th  row: knit
8th row: knit
9th row: *kfb, knit 4, kfb* two times per needle (2 slices of 8 stitches each or 16 stitches total per needle)
10th row: knit
11th row: knit
12th row: widening for “chest” and “back” of the toy will make Om Nom more balanced when sewing on feet so counting from the beginning of the round on 1st and 3rd needle kfb seventh and ninth stitch (total 18 stitches), knit all stitches on 2nd and 4th needle (stays 16 stitches)
13th row: knit
14th row: counting from the beginning of the round on 1st and 3rd needle kfb seventh and eleventh stitch (total 20 stitches), knit all stitches on 2nd and 4th needle (stays 16 stitches)
17th to 34th row: knit
35th row: counting from the beginning of the round on 1st and 3rd needle decrease ssk 7th and 8th stitch and k2tog stitch 12 and 13 (total 18 stitches), knit all stitches on 2nd and 4th needle (stays 16 stitches)
36th row: knit
37th row: knit
38th row: counting from the beginning of the round on 1st and 3rd needle decrease ssk  7th and 8th stitch and k2tog stitch 10 and 11 (total 16 stitches), knit all stitches on 2nd and 4th needle (stays 16 stitches)
39th row: knit
40th row: knit
41st row: decrease at the ends of “slices” so *ssk, knit 4, k2tog* 2 times per needle (slices of 6 stitches or total 12 per needle)
42th row: knit
43th row: *ssk, knit 2, k2tog* 2 times per needle (slices of 4 stitches or total of 8 per needle)
44th row: knit - here is when you fill the body with pillow filling. Fill quite packed as you will work few more rows afterward to close out the body so there will be enough filling for whole body.
45th row: *ssk, k2tog* 2 times per needle (total 4 stitches per needle)
46th row: *ssk, k2tog* once per needle (as there are no more stitches left and with this decrease it leaves 2 stitches on each of four needles)
47th row: k2tog each needle stitches, collecting them to one needle only (4 stitches total)
48th to 52nd row: knit 5 rows of i-cord with remaining 4 stitches
53rd row: kfb all stitches, dividing them to 4 needles (2 stitches on each needle)
54th row: knit
55th row: kfb all stitches (4 stitches on each needle)
56th to 60th row: knit
61st row: *ssk, k2tog* all around (2 stitches on each needle)
62nd row: knit
Fill the small tentacle on Om Nom’s head and cut approx. 20 cm tail of yarn. Darn needle with the end of yarn and pull it through all remaining stitches, closing it like the disappearing ring in the beginning (cast on). Weave the end firmly and invisibly into the tentacle.

LEGS (make 4)
Cast on 8 stitches using Judy’s Magic Cast On - 4 stitches on each needle, like you are casting on for a sock.
Knit one row.
In second row increase kfb on beginning and end of each needle (6 stitches per needle, 12 total)
Knit one row.
Increase kfb on beginning and end of each needle (8 stitches per needle, 16 total).
Knit around dividing stitches on 4 needles, 4 stitches each, mark beginning of round if needed.
Knit 4 more rounds.
Cast off not too loosely, cut approx. 20 cm tail. 

Cut out eye whites and 4 teeth from light felt.
Cut out thin line for the mouth from black felt.

So, now you have all your parts for making Om Nom...

... and when you arrange them like this you can almost see how he will look like.

Make sure to position body correctly in regards with supposed “chest” and “back” (increases and decreases on 1st and 3rd needle) before you begin attaching feet. Using the tail from cast off attach feet to the body, filling it with polyester fiber when you come to last 3-4 stitches and close all holes and weave in ends neatly.  

Using black cotton thread sew shank buttons to the light felt making the pupils for the eyes.
Using light cotton thread sew eyes to the body.
With black thread sew mouth to make Om Nom smile.
With light thread sew teeth below the black line of mouth spacing them evenly apart so he looks cute and hungry.

Weave any remaining ends and go fetch him some candy. All done. 
You can even take him to work with you to show off :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

What's Cookin'?

It's a Saturday morning on an actual Friday and I'm up and about for three hours already and I'm happy and content at this moment and I'm actively trying to savour and prolong this moment so I'm writing a post about it.

Last few weeks have been tough. I do not feel like talking about it since I feel that the story is not mine only to share but the thing involves my (direct) family and is a source of constant pain and dissapointment. And I cannot speak about it.

So I thought to share how I've been dealing with it.

I bought myself a wonderful toy: Kenwood FPM 270. Somebody may think that this has something to do with music, as name Kenwood would suggest, but this is even better for a woman of many appetites like me.

This appliance is a food processor with all the beauty of audio componenets Japanese Corporation with which it shares the name makes. I saved money for it and have been keeping an eye on it for a year and finaly I chose to buy it now. My interest first was piqued by this application having a grain mill and I wanted this because special flours in Croatia are expensive as gold. Like buckwheat flour; 1 kg buckwheat costs 2,5 $ and 1 kg buckwheat flour is 7 $. For rice price for 1 kg can be as low as 1 $, but 1 kg of rice flour is almost 10 $. Urad or chickpea flour is unavailable alltogether in Croatian market and there are wonderful things to be made from it.

So this appliance makes posible many other DIY things for me. And it also grates, slices, mixes, liquifies, presses citrus fruit, makes nut butters, pates and doughs and its centrifugal juicer makes the most of any fruit and vegetable in terms of wonderful fresh juice and pressed pulp for cooking. It is very robust and everything is detachable so it can be thoroughly cleaned.

And I am very pleased with things I can do with it: two mid-sized carrots and two small apples yield one full glass (2 dcl) of juice!

I was shocked how much pure juice there is in them and I can also turn pulp into delicious cake sasoned with cinnamon, clover and nutmeg.

This is 3:7 buckwheat to wheat flour bread (with some flax and sunflower sees kneaded in). Smells so wonderful I think this is the best baked good smell I ever experienced and my daughter liked it so much she even asked me to pack her a slice for snack at school three days this week.

This morning I thought to grate some fresh carrot and beets and leave them to marinate for lunch salad. It took 5 minutes to clean the veggies and 30 seconds to grate them in FPM:

And while doing this I realised I could go for a glass of fresh beet-carrot-apple juice and I'm sipping on it now.

In this moment life is beautiful.