On love & haiku; notes from a lecture about Bashō


Make no mistake, when I saw that there would be a Bashō-lecture open to all, by Lars Vargö, I jumped for joy and wrote it down in my calendar. Bashō is my fave poet probably and Lars Vargö is a scholar of Japanese literature and a well-known and respected translator of haiku, I even have a book on my shelves translated by him.

It was such a diverse and engaged crowd that gathered to listen the other evening. That in itself made me very happy. I mean, liking Bashō is not fringe. When it comes to poetry taste I’m as “basic” as it gets; my top 5 (in no internal order) is Pushkin, Akhmatova, Omar Khayyam, Bashō and  Szymborska.

So what I learned is why Bashō is such figure within the discipline; he was not only the master but also the arbiter of style. Haiku, which is what we in the west call it, comes from a long tradition and became more and more minimal over the years. By the time Bashō came around (he was born in 1644) what was needed was a framework, and guidelines. From this tradition other forms of poetry also emerged, but Bashō came to define the school of poetry called Hokku that works with symbols like the seasons and things related to the seasons, and that has as a fundamental technique that the seasonal aspects should be juxtaposed with something. That being the conceptual framework there is a lot of flowers and moons in the poems in this discipline. Vargö said that as a translator there is a hurdle to get over, being fed up with flowers and moons for a bit, and then seeing their beauty again.

Using words and images conjured should be done with the aim of painting a picture but not saying too much, the reader should themselves “connect the dots”. What should transcend though is a feeling of elegance but also lightness. I think that this is what I connect with, the spirit and feeling of the poems. That is also something that translators have to work around. What I have now understood is how different Japanese and western languages work, and that the rhythm is different in the original language. I always knew that it was the case, but the difference between the Japanese counting the sounds for each sign and how that is different from a syllable or a character in the west is somewhat clearer.

When it comes to translations of haiku, and their popularity in the west, there have been waves of which the first included people like Lafcadio Hearn and Arthur Waley (who also translated parts of Tale of Genji). Later people like Reginald Horace Blyth were very important. With the rising interest in haiku, western poets tried writing poems within that style. Jack Kerouac was mentioned as someone how had managed in a good way and was recommended reading by Vargö (the work by Kerouac is called Book of haikus and was published posthumously in 2003).

The many ways to translate was given time in the lecture and examples read; there are versions but no exact right or wrong. Some translators make an effort to keep the format, where as others find that using more words to capture the emotion might be needed. What I reflected on afterwards was how that might differ between Swedish and English as Swedish is a, I think, a more precise language. People always say that there is similarity in design between japan and Sweden (and Finland) and I think that can be probably be said about the languages too? Both being a prodyct of mentality and a way of thinking.  In any case, and I learned this with The Tale of Genjji, that translation makes all the difference and it is with shopping around for one you like, or make the effort to compare. Translations, I guess at least, are also influenced by their context which means that the time when they were translated, might matter to the end result.

For those that find Bashō fascinating but might not be entirely sold on poetry I recommend his travelogue The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches, which is just what it sounds like. For those that like his poetry, I also recommend learning more about him by reading the book mentioned in the previous sentence. As a mix of poetry and prose, it has something for everyone. But yeah, I do prefer his poems, I cannot get enough of moons and flowers, I really can’t.





Wednesday&Where cashmere sweaters go when they die…


I have put the sewing machine away for now, trying to use the stuff I have instead if making more. For now. At the rate that things are falling apart and are not possible to put together again I will get it out again cirka June.

The last thing I made until I decided to put a moratorium on making things, is this franken-sweater. I love patchwork and my cashmere sweaters and cardigans mean a lot to me so when they reach that stage that they really are not wearable in polite society, I chopped them up and made a new item.

This is not the most wearable item one can imagine, but with simple trousers or jeans it looks very good. More importantly it is super comfy and warm.

And that’s all I have to say really. I’m just trying to get the most wear age and value out of my clothes, which means using them a lot. And when you wear out clothes that does not necessarily have to be the end. I realize that not everyone has access to a sewing machine or the skills needed. But if you do, this is an idea.



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I recently got around to reading my first P.G Wodehouse, or more exactly, my first Jeeves&Wooster. On the back of this book, it does say that Wodehouse wrote over 90 books but I assume a fair share of those are novels about Jeeves&Wooster because those are the only ones I have ever heard about. Or is that only because those are the ones that were adapted into a TV-series?

Full disclosure; I haven’t seen the TV-series either, just a snippet and I didn’t whet my appetite. There is so much there that I should instinctively like and take to (20s -30s style, British dry wit, Lords and Ladies!). But no, I left the room, probably to go off read a book somewhere.

However, I’m always asking people for book recommendations for light books. This is sort of why a reread so much; there are a few books I love, that always make me feel good, and because I know them through and through there are no surprise heart breaks or sudden emotions. But I need more of those kinds of books (there is a limit to how many times a person can read Pride&Prejudice, The beautiful fall or Temeraire), well-written but not too much. Somewhere along the line someone mentioned P.G Wodehouse and I made a note.

What I found myself with was The code of the Woosters, and I have no idea where it fits in the series, neither according to quality nor if it is an early or late one. I tried to Google but all posts referred to the TV-series. Never mind.

Reading this over a weekend was just enough; it did become somewhat repetitive after 200 pages but that might be that this is the worts of them (and should that be the case; it is still pretty good). Obviously through the setting and the language, Nancy Mitford came to mind. I’m glad that the dynamic between Jeeves and Wooster is more balanced than I had assumed; in my head Bertie was a complete clod always saved by Jeeves. I mean, he isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer but that is because he is a spoilt rich man; he doesn’t have to be very clever (he reminds me of so many cats that I have known somehow). Bertie Wooster is reasonable and educated. He also likes to party. Fair enough. He is also quick to thank Jeeves for his services and brilliant ideas, which does infuse this book with a warmth that I did not expect.

I will most likely read more Jeeves&Wooster books, mixed in between sad books and on holiday. If my parents were not in the process of selling the cottage I would buy a few of these to have out there, they would be just perfect by the fireplace on rainy evenings in autumn. As it stands I will swing by the library on occasion and see what’s available.

In short; well-written, funny, light, a good length of book but a bit much of the same over and over. I give this a solid 3 and we’ll see when I read more. Looking at what’s in my TBR-pile I should really stock up already.



7 feminist texts, as a point of departure.


What I’m talking about is well-known books or articles that analyze structures and norms in an effort to identify the mechanisms that cause the gender relations that we have. In short; models for thinking. Most of these texts know about or have already read. I’m writing this list because I have to start somewhere. (It is fully possible that I have written a similar list before. At some point blogging becomes a bit of a blur).

  1. A room of one’s own by Virginia Woolf. This is a short text, it can be read in one sitting, but I has been with mew for a long time. i read this the first time when i was quite young and though I did on some level understand it intuitively it took a few years before I could use her arguments in a debate and translate them to a modern setting.
  2. The beauty myth by Naomi Wolf. I read this over the weekend, and I’m glad I finally did. So many texts and articles that I have read over the years have roots in this pounce. It is still very relevant tin looking at how women’s looks are judged differently, how beauty ideals can affect us all and how the line between sex and violence has been blurred with adverts effects. Which doesn’t mean that I think that  spending time and money on skin care makes anyone a bad feminist (it doesn’t).
  3. The second sex by Simone de Beauvoir. Iconic text by a gifted writer. This meant a lot to me when I read it the first time. I think at this point so many people “know” the essence of it; that woman is something that you are socialized into. You are taught to behave in a certain way, and yet those traits are seen as “natural”. Women are not by birth nicer than men, they are just not allowed to misbehave all that much.
  4. We should all be feminists- Chimamanda ngozi Adichie. A much lauded text of letter years. Based on a TED talk this little pamphlet is so quick to read that there is no excuse not to. Proving, which is sad in a way, that feminism still is needed and relevant, it also brings POC into the discussion. If feminism must not become “femi-cism” i.e. white straight women fighting for their rights and not including women of colour and the LGBT community.
  5. Under det rosa täcket by Nina Björk. This book that was released in the 90s builds on the beauty myth, and is a look at Swedish feminism in that era. It is still a work that is much talked about and it had a huge impression on me. One thing is always that Sweden prides itself of being a very egalitarian society, and it is, that doesn’t mean the struggle is over. Better than elsewhere is not enough (which is otherwise an argument made by a certain kind of man).
  6. The Scum manifest by Valerie Solanas. Being a feminist does not mean that you hate mean. Solanas text is angry and it has been used and read and discussed so much that I do think that it has a place in the canon of feminist literature (thanks Stina B. for mentioning it in our discussion; I had forgotten about it).
  7. Men explain things to me by Rebecca Solnit. In telling a story about how she was told, by a man, about a book she herself had written, she dissects a situation and its theoretical underpinnings. Solnit is someone I think in general has well put and considered things to say about society, politics, gender relations and power but this books is accessible which is part of its success.

Which books would you have included on this list?


Shame, sorrow and stats (The skirt diaries pt. 89?90?)

The skirt parade continues even though it is not strictly every day. The winter continues up here; a layer of snow, very icy streets and temperatures hovering around -5 degrees. And I have  already used my thicker skirts, so I have to choose wisely.

The shame in the headline refers to a few of my skirts that are a little too snug to wear at the moment. Whether I should feel shame because I have gained weight or if it is a shame I cannot use them right now is a matter of opinion. I very often get a bit curvy around my thighs in winter; I work out differently and eat more cheese. This has happened before, and it only affects a few skirts of a certain cut. So three skirts are hors jeu for now.

The sorrow comes from noticing that two of my skirts have tears. One of them is a green skirt in Indian raw silk and I hope to be able to patch it up. The other is also green, with Nefertiti’s head printed on it. The fabric came from my grandmother about ten years ago. She had bought in Egypt in the 80s and kept it folded up in a plastic bag. It is not high quality and I’m surprised it had lasted this long. the dress I made in the same fabric fell to pieces a few years ago, though admittedly I used that dress more. I am thinking about trying to salvage a bit of this and mix it up with other fabric, and make a dress, as I think the fabric is just the coolest. But basically two skirts have retired (but we are hoping for comebacks and possible reincarnation).

Add to that sevens skirts I have worn lately, of which six I managed to photograph.

  1. Mustard yellow skirt with gold embroidery. I love this skirt. After much use the last five years or so the embroidery is starting to look a bit worse for wear but it holds up well enough. It was good quality fabric that I was given (my father had been given it by a coworker from Pakistan). It is like walking around wearing sunshine.
  2. Bali dancer-print. Great skirt, bad pic. This is something that I have been given by my mother. I had to shorten it a bit to make it work, but it is a winner. At this point this skirt is older than me, and oh my has it been worn. Still in great nick though.
  3. Leopard print skirt. This one is semi-retired already. I made this out of a dress I had (the armpits were a mess after many years). The dress was vintage to begin with and then I wore it like mad for a few years. Not much wear in it any more, but I have had some great time in that skirt/dress. I will always remember it fondly.
  4. Chinese teapot print in red, on black. Another one that I got from my mum and I love this one so much. The fabric was bought in London when on a visit in the 70s and then mum made a cool skirt that I snatched out of her closet in my teens. I’ve had to repair it a few times but it is hanging in there. This belongs in my skirt hall of fame for sure.
  5. My “Northanger abbey skirt”. From my Austen&Attire project this remains one of my fave garments (but not a book I rate all that highly).
  6. African Dutch wax print. Made by me, fabric bought at a flea market. Good quality fabric and I made the effort to line it an everything. Gets used more in spring and summer. I used to have a matching top but that wore our way before the skirt did.
  7. Brown skirts with an impressionistic floral pattern. This was made by me in fabric I bought and it got a spin the other day. Which is not unusual, it is skirt that fits many moods and occasion. I completely forgot to photograph it however.

So there we have it. Three too tight to be worn, two are actually torn. Seven were wont without here being spring , what will next week bring? And I still have a lot of skirts, probably more than first count because there is that box of “summer clothes” that I haven’t looked in for a few months.


7 things I have learned this week.


The work week is almost over, and the weekend will soon begin. So what have I learned this week? What new and exciting knowledge has the world brought to my attention?

  1. Watergate is my comfort zone. As the world has gone increasingly mad I have sought comfort in the warm embrace of the Watergate scandal. The difference between Nixon and Trump is that Nixon did not, thankfully, have Twitter. I’ve been listening to the podcast Slow burn from Slate and it has been brilliant. So much I didn’t know and it is all better than the conspiracy theories that I can conjure on my own. The first season of Slow Burn has been a joy and I look forward to another season (although I wonder if they can top this). It is like the first season of Serial but  less murder, more political bribes. I wish someone would make a podcast like this about the assassination of Olof Palme (he was the Swedish prime minister and got assassinated in 1986. Read more here.
  2. You can change the nibs on your reservoir pen. And the nibs come in sizes. Did you know this? I didn’t. Nobody has ever told me. I assume that people higher up on the socioeconomic ladder might get taught this as children, I come from a long line of working class people who favor ball point pens. I took a fancy to reservoir pens at a young age because of the ink and everything. I had my Tombow that I loved and then I went with the Lamy. I’ve also had many of the cheap disposable kind. But I was out and remembered that I needed to by ink cartridges for the Lamy, and took the opportunity to ask about why it was giving me attitude and not spreading the ink evenly. The staff took one look at it and pointed out that the nib had been bent and needed to be replaced. Which was not expensive to do. Then they asked me what size I wanted. I was gobsmacked. There is a story I often tell about the cheap ink pen I bought once that had the perfect nib because it was slightly bigger then normal, which was great for me who I actually writes a lot. What I do find however is that I need to by light blue ink instead for dark  noe that I have a medium nib (the combination of thick line and dark ink is like shouting or writing in all caps).
  3. I am out of the loop. I watch more beauty tutorials then I should. Theoretically my contour skills are bomb. In reality I don’t even have the stuff that is needed; neither product nor brushes. That is in fact a whole different blog post. What I wanted to point out is that there is this trend now where beauty bloggers try to follow each others tutorials, with varying results. As it has become trendy, people outside of that world get in on the game. Like Garret Watts. He is apparently a big Youtuber, I stumbled into this one by accident. Nevertheless, about 16.15 into the video (which you can find here) Watts comments on the conversation in the original video. In the tutorial being followed, Jeffery Starr talks to someone about how he and the other person used to work in the Mac store at which Watts exclaims “they used to sell computers? Sick”.(said in a positive way nota bene). Nevertheless,  I felt that. Had I not know a bit about make-up I would legit have thought that Mac-store refered to Macintosh not Mac Cosmetics. It happens so often that I think I know what is cool, and then I get my ass handed to me. Also; don’t use Cheetos anywhere near your eyes, and always keep “red Vines” in your handbag).
  4. Jeeves &Wooster are fun. I read my first P.G. Wodehouse this week and I liked it. Review to come.
  5. Pizza really is a great vehicle for flavour. I went to Babette here in Stockholm for the first time the other night. I have wanted to go for ages because I do love a pizza with ambition, which is just what Babette serves. I ate the one with mozzarella, red pepper& walnut pesto and salami; it was delicious. Pizza has been on my mind since the first episode of Ugly Delicious.
  6. The best adventures involve dead Egyptians, they really do. I found an old fave comic/graphic novel recently; The extraordinary adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec. Early 20th century, Paris, a fearless woman and supernatural beings. In one of the adventures a mummy turns up. In the first one it is an ancient Babylonian god (and a dinosaur) that cause mayhem. Rereading this one  I realized why I fell so hard for Penny Dreadful (I had no connection to The league of extraordinary gentlemen prior) but this was my primer. Not even with the nerdy things to I have the sense to like the stuff the cool boys are into. and not even with the stuff I like do I keep up; there was apparently a movie made of this album, by Luc Besson! I really should try to get a hold of that (by which I mean I will look if Netflix/HBO has it, and if not, forget about it).
  7. I have a thing for lilac despite the fact that it makes me look very pale. I went to the clothing swap and ended up coming home with a lilac top. And I can make all kinds of remarks about how it “washes me out” but the fact is still that I have one blouse, one scarf, one bag and a pair of shoes in that colour. And those are the things that are top of mind. If I had a good look in my closet I might find more items.


Thursday&Trip to Liljevalchs


One of the first signs of spring, I guess, is The Spring Salon at Liljevalchs. I have written about this before, but to recap; Liljevalchs is an art venue in Stockholm run by the local government. Every year, in the beginning of the year, it hosts a salon where people can send artworks they have made. Should they be accepted they get be represented at the salon, where everything is for sale should be noted. So for a few weeks it’s a big gallery.


If art is a way to take the pulse on contemporary society, then what is the shape of things to come? The answer is: I don’t know. First of all I’m not sure that this years jury is interested in art at all. Secondly it felt like it was mostly the same kind of artworks at usual, maybe a few more with a religious motif, but that might also be my observational bias. Either there isn’t much happening in society, what ever is happening is doing so amongst people under the age of 18 (the youngest exhibitor at the Salon was 19 years old) or my eyes are tired and I am oblivious to the signs around me.


My faves included a few textile pieces (always; I have a weak spot for embroidery, appliqué and other methods of making art in textile), the works that incorporated pressed flowers (see above) and all the stuff that was in pair or made by books. None of those were trends as such, or the kind of thing to stand out. More like the kind of art I would like to own and have at home (which I guess is the point of the show?). The funniest thing was overhearing a woman telling her friend, in a very nonchalant tone of voice, that she has bough artworks from several salons but that she keeps misplacing it and now have no idea where those pieces are. I don’t know if I’m upset on behalf of the artists whose work isn’t  cared for or if I’m slightly envious of that level of art ownership; to have so much of it that you can just misplace things and shrug your shoulders about it.


If the “mainstreamness” of the art is somewhat depressing the popularity of the show itself is uplifting. Even on a Monday afternoon, when the visit took place, it was crowded. So many people wanted to see it apparently. Yes, Liljevalchs has reopened after the renovation so maybe there is a bit of a novelty-factor but in general the salon is a well visited one. And most of the art work is sold which I think is a good thing.

I didn’t buy any art, I didn’t even buy the catalogue this year. Or a measly little postcard in the shop. The shop is still good though, it always has been in my opinion. The storage boxes and restrooms downstairs have improved with the renovation. The nice café next door isn’t open yet (their renovation isn’t finished)

More information about Liljevalchs can be found here.