Thursday, October 5, 2017

On Latex

Let's see what I know about latex: too shiny; transparent; too clingy; always tight fitting; comes in ridiculous colors. It has a range of properties I don't find appealing. It's definitely not my choice of fabric. But wait, it's actually not fabric. See a short article on MJTrends for details

Now let's see some dresses on Atsuko Kudo's site HERE

I don't know what to say because these are some really nice cuts and the colors are to die for. And yet, when I look at the semi-transparent flesh Alejandra dress, all I can think of how it would fare in the rain.

It's been raining on and off for days. As I waited for the bus the other day, I did not notice the large puddle of water by the curb. Then suddenly, out of nowhere, the bus pulled in and splashed the water high up as it stopped. And before I knew it, my jeans got drenched up to the knees.

At that moment, I wished my jeans were made of latex. By the time I got home and right after I peeled them off, I changed my mind yet again and was a latex fan no more. My fandom lasted less than 20 minutes. As for the dress, I still love the cut but I'd prefer something similar in fabric. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Rainy Days

The best thing that can happen to you on a rainy day is to bump into a cheerful group of Danish visitors. You chat. They make you smile. What's more: they might even visit your blog. At which point you realize that you haven't updated it for ages.

Vær hilset! Det var hyggeligt at møde dig. Gå til: 2015 January 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


This bracelet is about 7 years old. As you can see on the image below, some shells are broken. It was discounted at 50% because of that. I’ve never meant to fix it. I like the way it is.

I wanted to know what type of shell my bracelet is made of. So I went through online catalogs trying to identify it. The first question I tried to answer was: Is this a freshwater or a saltwater shell? I settled on saltwater shell. I figured it must be found in abundance because of the many pieces needed to make one jewelry item priced so cheap. Therefore, it must be a common species.

I could picture an island from a tropical zone with a sandy shore line dotted with shells; a place in the middle of the ocean that looks like paradise. But reality kicked in when I saw the documentary Plastics in Paradise about the situation on the Cocos Keeling Islands. It turns out that plastic pollution is getting worse as plastic makes its way to even the most remote spots on our planet.  
It’s a pretty good deal: no air fare (as it’s being carried by the currents) and some of the best beaches for accommodation. Too bad we are paying the price as the shorelines get covered not in shells but plastic debris. I wish I knew how to live a life without plastic! It’s not only disposable plastic I am concerned about, but any other type that we use on a daily basis. Just thinking about the sheer quantity of plastics we are surrounded by makes me really concerned. Could this keyboard I am typing on be made of anything else but plastic? How about phones, home appliances, plane parts, etc.? The list is endless.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

No Grammar, No Cry

The scene is a basement of a derelict building. I'm in a dimly lit room with a dozen others. I’m wearing a white T-shirt with the caption NO GRAMMAR, NO CRY. We are sitting in a circle on some creaky old chairs. It's a familiar scene. No one wants to break the silence. It’s my turn to step out on a podium to speak. All eyes are on me. I freeze up for a brief moment (which actually feels like forever). 
I take a deep breath, clear my throat and say, “Hi, my name is Maria. And I'm a grammar junkie.” I pause to look around the room. I see folding tables and stale donuts on a plastic tray.

“Hi Maria,” the others say in unison. Everyone is here. It’s the regular weekly meeting of the group called Grammarholic Anonymous. I take another deep breath before I start my tale about my recent struggle.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Grammar Rules

I love the ocean. It’s seemingly endless and can be unpredictable.

I love grammar. A wise man told me once that grammar doesn’t exist. That I found disheartening. I wish he'd said, "We do not know if grammar exists or not, but it seems reasonable to assume that it does."

Grammar is almost like a living thing; mysterious and messy for its own sake. Sometimes, there are no rules. (Plus no freedom in how to use the non-existent rules.) Other times, it fully contradicts its own rules. No one knows why, it’s just the way it is. 

Grammar is a repeating offender in making rules fly out the window. And no one can say: “Hey you, contradictory grammar rule, you don't make any sense," because it actually does. And everyone agrees on that. 

I love grammar. It’s so much more than all of its seemingly endless rules combined. And it can be unpredictable. Just like the ocean.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


I used to thrift on a regular basis and I’ve always had my preferred places to go. As my favorite store switched to a lower quality stock, I hardly visit it anymore. What I like about thrifting is that each item I see on the racks is one of a kind. And who could resist that? Besides, by buying second hand, I’ve been doing my part in saving energy and resources required to produce new items. It’s good to give a used item a second chance to prolong its lifespan. I was sure I’ve been doing the right thing.

And what about maintenance? I saw no difference for new items or old ones in this regard. When doing laundry, I save electricity using lower temperature settings. I also save on water by capturing and reusing gray water. I thought there wasn’t much else to do there until I bumped into guppyfriend and learned about microfiber pollution. With each washing cycle, microfibers are released into the environment. What guppyfriend came up with is a wash bag that wouldn’t let those tiny particles seep into the water to be discharged with gray water.

The more I thought about it, the more I started to see microfibers as a curse. I could only see 2 options as to how to avoid microfiber pollution: to use natural fibers only that do not harm our water ways as they break down or, to fundamentally change the way we wash our clothes and eliminate water from the process. And I kept thinking... "Would tiny particles coming from natural fibers make any difference for aquatic life? Should guppies be on a “natural fiber” diet?" Even if the technology exists for waterless washing machines, we are still a long way from implementing it. It seems that guppyfriend offers a simple solution to the problem. 

GUPPY FRIEND is a German startup from Berlin, founded by LANGBRETT

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Master of Her Craft

I entered the shop from the street and had a short conversation with the owner about her job. That’s what she told me: She was born with a needle in her hand and she has been sewing as far as she could remember. She never makes the same dress twice. Nor does she create the exact replica of a dress from a picture; her design would always be different in some detail.

I asked her if she made coats from scratch. She was 12 years old when she first cut a sewing pattern of a coat, she said with pride, but she can’t do it anymore because of her strained hand. I couldn’t blame her if she never wanted to make coats again. I once tried to take an old coat apart and the task proved to be too difficult.

It took her 3 years to complete her studies as a tailor and another 5 years of apprenticeship to become a master craftsman. She has more than 50 years experience designing and making garments. When I asked her about other family members possessing the same set of skills she gave a definite no. Not even her grandchildren would show any interest in sewing, she added.

Saturday, March 25, 2017


I came across this video earlier this year. It’s just over 11 minutes long. I found it hard to watch in the light of the current drought conditions in Kenya.  

Check out the beautiful imagery. I am fascinated by how composed and graceful these women look under these circumstances. The portraits of the Maasai women by Marc Haers are fantastic. I especially like the group portraits (at 7:23 and 7:37 min.). These people have been working so hard to stave off drought.  

"Let’s think about the small things and the small places that you cannot reach, but can affect you. That are seriously affected by climate change." 

Benson Leyian
Jusdiggit Project Coordinator

Project by: Justdiggit

Interviews by: 
Safi Graauw

Cinematography by:  Marc Haers

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

World Water Day

I feel privileged not to have experienced water rationing in my life. Today is World Water Day; a call to be more water-savvy and a reminder as well that not all are so lucky. It's hard to grasp that there are those for whom every drop counts as they struggle to get their daily needs met. 

This year's theme is wastewater; something I try to keep to a minimum by using just as much water as needed. My biggest water-saving practice is capturing gray water when doing laundry. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Smog of the Sea

Applied foot moisturizer for dry skin on sole. Massaged some hand cream into palm. Realized dryness on lips. Applied lip balm. 

Done in reverse order, there would be some lip balm residue on my hand and foot which would be way better than having some sole softener on my lips. Well, no cracked lips in a while -- guaranteed. 

Having some minuscule amount of foot balm on my lips is not a big deal. What bothers me though that these skin care products come in single-use plastic containers. 

The Smog of the Sea is a documentary about plastic pollution. Click on the title below for more information. 

Writer/Editor/Director: Ian Cheney
Cinematography by: Ian Cheney & Jack Johnson
Duration: 30 min.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Cat's Dream

The slippers came by mail neatly stuffed in an oversize envelope. Velvety soft to the touch and adored with pom-poms, they were designed for maximum comfort. I call them A cat’s dream.

I had a cat encounter of the first kind on the street last week. There was this gray, ball-like creature sunbathing on the concrete ledge of a fence looking at me as I approached. 

After capturing my full and undivided attention, the next trick the cat did was to dance around my leg. Then it paused to look up at me. A second later I'd find myself stroking it, at which point I realized that I am not a cat person. “I am not a cat person,” I told the cat. It ignored me. It then promptly repeated the experiment by performing its eel-like moves again and posed -- as if for a camera. “Wow. What a show. I must be special,” I thought as I left.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Happy New Year!

It’s just a bit late for new year resolutions so I simply made a short list as a reminder with no time frame attached.

Be humble.

Do no harm.

Keep safe.

Practice water saving measures throughout the year.

Practice mindfulness.

Learn a language that no one speaks. Note: Great. And who am I going to practice it with?

Keep learning.

Value the most what you learn from by making mistakes.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Gold Is Not My Color

Festive earrings made of craft wire. The design comes from an old book. Following the step-by-step instructions was the easy part. It was hard enough on my wrist to make the coils, but the real challenge was to make them look identical. I ended up making a few extra pieces to match. None are identical, just close enough. In most cases, it’s the same with our ears; they can be slightly different in size and shape. Earrings are to emphasize symmetry and they can be more fun to make than wear. I can see lots of plier marks on the coils.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sisal Bag

It happened in the middle of the summer on a weekday in the early morning hours. I can’t recall what I was wearing that day except for the sisal bag and the straw hat. The hat was new. The bag was slightly used -- a lucky find from a nearby thrift store.

I was alone taking a stroll downtown at a popular holiday destination. In my bag were a water bottle, a shopping list and small amount of change. As I walked, I heard footsteps behind me and slowed down to let the person pass. It seemed that he could never catch up with me as he also slowed his pace.

When he finally passed me, he took a sharp turn and grabbed my bag by the straps. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I just acted on instinct. Since sisal doesn’t slip easily, I also could get a good grip on the straps. We now were face-to-face pulling the bag full-force.

He was steady on his legs but slow as if hesitating over his next move. I felt his strength gradually increase as he tried to overpower me. It made me realize that I was no match to him. My bag was still in one piece; with all the opposing forces exerted on it, the sisal wouldn’t break. At that point, I thought I should let him have it.

There was a construction site nearby and the workers heard the commotion. They couldn’t have seen what was going on and they decided to find it out. As they got closer, the man eased his pull and let go of the bag. Then he took a few steps to walk away as if nothing happened. Just around that time, the guys from the construction site reached the scene. Once they made sure that no one was harmed, they headed back to work. The experience left me shaken and in disbelief. I was too upset to say anything.

Due to the pulling contest, the slots through which the straps were attached to the bag seemed to be a bit wider now. Other than that, there was no visible damage on the sisal.