Tuesday, June 29, 2010

West Side Story

Ballsbridge presents a rather posh face to the world - and yet, catching glimpses of back yards, I can never quite help feeling like there might be some drama of West Side Story dimensions happening right behind it all.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Funky flora

Four years have passed (precisely! It was also during the World Cup), and I still miss my little balcony in Berlin. It was tiny, but big enough for two chairs and a table, or one IKEA Poäng armchair, and, most importantly, it was home to my four large flower beds. I had decidedly maternal feelings for all my plants, monitored every new passion flower and nasturtium bud and many unnamed other blossoms with pride, and it improved the view from my bedroom remarkably.

Since then, that hasn't happened again. My remaining indoor potted plants didn't seem to like Hamburg much. Only three survived and accompanied me to Poland, and then, the transport back to Germany in winter temperatures killed them off in the end. (I'm still mourning them.)

In my new Dublin home, I only share my bedroom with a potted plant named Colin (he's growing well so far). But I miss growing flowers from seed.

I do, however, observe all the flora that I pass on my way to work. The mild and wettish Dublin climate does seem to be good for front garden plants, and apart from an enormous amount of fuchsia bushes, there are also huge roses, and some funky things by the canal that I cannot identify (but captured on virtual polaroid). Yay for summer flowers, balcony or not!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Past victories - glorious future?

I'm posting this as a backdated entry, just in time for tomorrow's match!
I will be cheering from Málaga this time but so far the "cheering from abroad" concept has been working splendidly...
Go Schland!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rock star (complimentary pun for Germanophiles)

It has only been three years that this skirt lay in corners, half-finished. In fact, it moved cities and countries with me - three times, in total - before reaching completion. But now, the time seemed right (or actually, I just happened to find the thread that would not tear while trying to attach the wider bottom of the skirt to the yoke. For those who care about the technical details).
It's stretchy linen with a late 60s-ish print and a 50s-ish shape and I'm quite content with the result, even if I am not sure when/where I'll wear it - maybe it will accompany me to Brittany in a month, and I'll try to blend in with the stereotypically well-dressed French women.
Or at least I won't look German at first glance. Dublin confirms my impression from my times in other places: German tourists have this habit of dressing painfully reasonably, at least once they are over the age of 45. They take the phrase "urban jungle" very literally, and European capitals inspire them to don outdoor jackets and hiking boots, backpacks with big water bottles in their mesh side pockets, and they never quite trust the fact that most European capitals are very happy to sell you all kinds of refreshments on every corner of every touristy area. No, they carry their homemade sandwiches (sneakily wrapped up during the hotel breakfast) and will frown at maps every twenty steps, completely ignoring friendly natives who might be quite happy to help them, if only they ever looked up. Sigh. May this skirt save me from fitting in with them. (Oh, I'm also under 45.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Missing owls

I quite enjoy my new home but there is one thing I still miss, and that Dublin hasn't been able to provide: After several months, I still catch myself walking along streets with half an eye cast on walls and signs, trying to spot graffiti owls.
Sadly, those wonderful creatures seem to restrict their habitat to Wroclaw. I miss them.
Walking around Dublin, I found a few nice stencilled things on houses - generally, Dublin in this area is remarkably graffiti-free. As far as ugly tagging goes, that is fine with me, but I do miss the clever owls that adapted to their specific locations.
The only remotely similar thing is this dinosaur that seems to be quietly taking over Dublin 4. If only it varied a little bit or interacted with its surroundings... then I might see some potential to be a tiny consolation in this owl-free environment.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Quick visit to Samuel Beckett

 It is STILL summer in this fine city. Natives claim this isn't really possible, and yet it is still warm, even by continental European standards. (Yes: Weather is a huge issue here, and forever a great source of small talk material.) So after a day in the office, it is a good idea to make some use of it and go for a walk.
This stroll took me along the Liffey to Dublin's newest bridge - looks like a harp, but is named, mysteriously, after Samuel Beckett.
In other news, we started an a cappella group at the office! Amazingly, it has more guys than girls so far (but mostly tenors). Fame is surely right around the corner.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cheering from afar

It may be a little harder to feel the World Cup enthusiasm for your team from abroad... but not much. Not when for each match, there is a a crowd of over 50 Germans (and German-friendly folks) gathering in the same pub to cheer.
It worked, too! Surely, the war paint on my face and black/red/gold outfit contributed as well...
Go Germany!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Facing the summer in style

If there's anything that can jinx the continuously nice weather, it's this: After about a decade without proper prescription sunglasses (or, for that matter, any sunglasses, because without prescription lenses, the choice was either dark blurriness or overexposed sharp vision, and I chose the latter), I finally went out and found a new pair.
A brief trip to a cheap optician proved once again that my taste (or shape of face) sadly isn't cheap: On shelves upon shelves of glasses, there was only one type of frames available: Wide, thick and boxy. Nothing else. Nice enough, just not on my face, which does not shift its features to accomodate the latest trend in eyewear, and proved unsuitable for this style.

And so I walked out desperate, and then into a neat little designer optician. And the friendly lady instantly handed me my dream pair. I confirmed that Ray Ban Wayfarers make me look like a large-beaked owl, and that some obscure brands exist that I've never heard of but still demand 600€ a pair, and back to pair number one. They had the right prescription lenses in stock, and so just a day later, here I am, walking out with a pair of Georgio Armani sunglasses, and don't have to squint and risk premature wrinkling or other such dangers, and look stylish in the process.
Yes, since then, there have been clouds for the first time in days. I declare this a partial win.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer in the city

Official beginning of summer, and it actually is summer. (The Irish around me insist that I should just assume that this also marks the end of summer, but I still refuse to believe it.)
Happy people, lying in the park after work - good thing that it stays light out until well after eleven!
Happy days.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Twisted donut

Summer has reached Dublin! It is warmer than any of the meteorological warnings that I got before moving here ever seemed to find possible. (Did I just jinx it all by typing this?)

The Irish hardly know what to do with themselves, fashion-wise - they were all as unclothed as acceptable already when temperatures went over 15°C, so now in 25°, there is little left to remove.  (At the same time, continental Europeans slowly consider taking off scarves and leaving the house without jackets.)

In any case - lovely! And no, this is not related to the daily poladroid, only that the new stadium looked pretty in the sunshine. In a slightly extraterrestrial way. Or, on an empty stomach, like a twisted steel donut.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Friday evening, I was inspired to unpack my guitar again - still untouched since it went on its journey from Poland to Ireland in a box - after a musically talented guest took it and played for a bit, proving that with the right skills, it is a pretty nice instrument.
So I decided to work on my skills, watched a few YouTube videos to complement my book from the 80s that taught me my first couple of chords, and played away.
I certainly feel the effect in my finger tips... let's see how long my motivation lasts. Or the flatmate's tolerance.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What Remains of the Week

On Friday evenings, when looking at the scenery that is left behind by crowds of departing Google employees, it can sometimes feel like a pack of hungry animals moved on after a week-long feast... and there may be some truth to that.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fertile feathered friends

Even after five months (has it been this long already?), I am still quite delighted with the birds that live on and around the Grand Canal and make the way to and from work a bit more interesting.

I'm also very impressed with their... let's call it reproductive productivity? While I can't identify individual birds (and so don't know if it's just a few very fertile parents or if the bird populations takes turns in breeding), there seems to be new fluffy ducks/swans/moorhens/random black duck-like animals at a surprising rate. Sadly, I seem quite unlucky when it comes to catching my favourites, the moorhens, in their fluffiest, cutest stage - I only found a few when they were already in their most reckless teenage phase.

Right now, it's the young swans that attract most attention (for being relatively smallest still) - the lady in the picture had even brought food. I only worry about the state of the canal. When they finished a huge dredging project a few weeks ago, it had pretty emerald waters for a little while. Suddenly, there seems to be a yucky permanent influx of soapy waters that do not look appetizing (nor healthy for birds) but do add interest to poladroidery...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The concept of summer

Outside my window, it is bright and sunny and I discovered during a brief trip to Tesco's that it is absolutely and amazingly lovely outside. Only that I am in bed with some sort of fluish migraine. And if I wasn't in bed, I'd be in the office.
So summer is quite wasted on me, but I do appreciate the concept. It's a bit hard to find any truly summery motif inside my apartment for my daily virtual polaroid so I'll turn to my window sill and document one of the coolest things about living in Dublin: You can get on public transportation and in 30 minutes, it takes you right to the beach, where you can find nice seashells and stare at the horizon and think of New York. Let's hope that there will be a weekend soon that allows me to take advantage of that! For now, looking at maritime souvenirs will have to do.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back to the teens

 Yay: Tegan & Sara played in Dublin and it was pretty awesome, except that most of the audience was female and young and extremely into it, so that the average pitch of the screaming was a little painful. Sort of like human vuvuzelas, which made up for missing the World Cup match, maybe?
It was, however, a very nicely colourful crowd - I suppose that most of the stylish lesbian teenager population of Dublin was present - and even though I neither had neon pink hair nor star tattoos nor the average age, we still got asked to pose with a poster advertising for a Pride Week event. We were told that the pictures could be found on Facebook today, but not where exactly they might end up. I was somewhat surprised (creeped out?), however, when I realised that I was able to track down the woman who took the pictures within five minutes on Facebook, even though I didn't know her name. So much for being anonymous on the net...

Oh wait, concert entries should mention music, right? Hm. I did plan on buying their CD but the queue for merchandise was about a mile long. Now I ordered it on Amazon, and it was even on sale. I hope they ship quickly. (I also really wish there was an Irish Amazon shop!)

Below is a live shot from the concert. The cell phone picture quality isn't spectacular, so let's declare this an artsy attempt at capturing the atmosphere. Or maybe just pretty red and blue amorphous shapes, however you prefer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Masked headache

The black balloon floating over my desk (no significance, even if colleagues were fearful, it was just... there) with its wide post-it smile is a bit like the effect of painkillers on my headache. Or that's what my post-lunch brain came up with. It is still a black balloon of death, only masked in a more bearable way.
Then the sun came out and my headache lifted along with the clouds. Hmmmmm.

The drugs don't work

Instead of going to the pub to watch the Germany match with a crowd of Germans, I spent the night at home with a World Cup livestream, ibuprofen, mint oil and self-pity. So much about having a relaxing Sunday...

To keep my hands busy while watching them WIN WIN WIN against Australia, however, I put together a little papercraft boy with his dog. (The printable template can be found on the "free toys" page at marshallalexander.net.) My head kills but I am still amused.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

And so it begins

Still a day to go until Germany actually plays but it is never too early to conjure up the proper spirit (well, this isn't actually at my place but I still thought it made the dull England - USA match more bearable).

Friday, June 11, 2010


Even though the day started well with a coffee delivered right to my desk (yay for fancy Gaggia machines making two cappuccinos at the same time so that those with the skills to operate them can make coworkers happy!), I am quite excited that the weekend is near! A long to-do list is already being compiled in my head and I have the unusual hope that it will be rainy so that I'm not tempted to leave the house and be lazy in the sun. (Even though I could deal with it if I had to.)
The only thing missing is TV at home, with the World Cup about to start (yet another danger that could drag me away from my to-do list). Is there any live streaming to be found on the net, I wonder? Or do I have to spend the next weeks in pubs? (Again, the hardships of my life right now seem rather manageable.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010


The World Cup is close - at the office, our team tournament suggests that Germany has an excellent chance at victory. I already have my title, then! And foosball is certainly a respectable sport. 
Let's see what the real world, real people game brings, even though the "seeing" bit of that is complicated by the fact that we have three TV sets in our apartment but no actual TV reception or plan...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Mathematical marine models in crochet

I went to see the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef at the Science Gallery. Weird yet awesome, gigantic crochet structure that a) is huge and b) somehow mysteriously proves that crochet is a way to make a mathematical model of hyperbolic space that was previously believed to be impossible to make into a model. It's also c) pleasantly colourful. Nice.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Guinness mugs are good for you

It may not be appropriate to have a pint at the office before Friday evening (and it may also not be the most appetising drink in the morning) but my standard of office living has been greatly enhanced by purchasing a giant mug that, amusingly, imitates the colour scheme of a real pint quite convincingly. Also, it gives me enough tea to get me through the first hour in the morning. Also, I just really like that toucan.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Time flies

The mess from last blog entry has been mostly cleared, and Dublin has been good to me so far. Too bad that none of that made it into my blog! This has to change. Let's try my luck with a simple picture project for now: Virtual polaroids! Pictured above is tonight's knitting. The scarf has been on my needles for a long time and travelled with me quite a bit. Amusingly, now I even met its designer and saw the original when buying wool at thisisknit.ie (lovely yarn shop, especially after seeing only acrylic and cotton yarn in Poland. Their site has the pattern for free!). It's pretty long already. If I keep watching Lost, I might even finish it. The weather has been changing wildly from 12°C and rain back to 23° and sun, so I think woolly things will be useful throughout the year here.