Sunday, August 19, 2012

Embracing the Insomnia ...

Well, the insomniac  definitely lived up to her nickname this week, waking up in the wee hours far too many times to allow for anything remotely resembling a productive work week. And while she relishes her early morning “quiet-times” when not employed, it isn't nearly half as much fun getting up at 2:00 a.m. and heading back to bed at 5:00, when one is quite aware the alarm is set to go off in thirty minutes ...

The Week Without Sleep
A Short Story with Visual Aids

Monday Morning, 5:30 a.m.

How did you sleep, dear?

Not great.
I'll drink lots of that vile coffee at work to stay awake.
I'll be fine.

Monday Evening

How was your day, dear?

Not great.
I think I'll have a little nightcap to help me fall asleep.
I'll be fine.

Tuesday Morning, 5:30 a.m.

Dear, it's 5:30. Time to get up.

Tuesday Evening

Maybe a slightly larger nightcap tonight ...

Wednesday Morning, 5:30 a.m.

Sweet Elusive Sleep!
O, that way madness lies ...

Wednesday Evening

I swear, if I don't get a decent sleep tonight,
I will Just Die ...

Thursday Morning, 5:30 a.m.

How can I possibly  be expected to go to work
with these dreadful bags under my eyes!

Thursday Evening

I better get a full eight hours tonight, or someone Will Suffer!
Most likely me.

Friday Morning, 5:30 a.m.

Is it Friday yet?

Friday Noon

I think I'll catch up on a little reading during lunch ...  ZZZzzzzzz......

Friday Evening, 5:30 p.m.

Whatever you want to watch on TV is fine with ... ZZZzzzzzz......

The Long Suffering Spouse, 5:35 p.m.

Thank Heaven, she's finally  asleep!
I don't think I can live through another thirty years of this ...

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties ... ZZZzzzzzz......


Sunday, August 12, 2012

The 30th Anniversary Sound of Music Tour vs. The Best Catacombs Ever

The insomniac  and her long-suffering spouse took a trip to Europe last fall, as a bit of a  reward for making it through thirty years of wedded bliss. Included in the itinerary were Poland (#43), the Czech Republic (#2), Slovakia (#19), Austria (#21) and Germany (#23); each country selected for inclusion in this Grand Tour ranking in the top twenty-five countries with the highest alcohol consumption, according to the World Health Organization. Even though Poland ranked only #43, they had a Charnel House which helped make up for their less than stellar rating. And other than Catacombs, Cemeteries, Crypts and Charnel Houses, one really can't think of a better reason to include a country in one's travel plans.

After arriving in Salzburg for a two-day stay, the insomniac  and spouse did a quick tour through the Schloss Mirabell Palace gardens, added to the rather hastily Googled itinerary because of the Zwergerlgarten or Dwarf Garden. Created in 1715, the garden was “a play on the Baroque obsession with imperfection, denatured creatures and other morbid motives, containing a number of white marble statues modeled after real dwarves”. The insomniac  has chosen not to share any of these photos, as you'd be hard pressed to distinguish her from the hideous female dwarf statue she was posing next to. Please enjoy some pretty pictures of imaginary horse-like creatures instead.

Unicorn Statues at the Schloss Mirabell Gates

Pegasus Statue that Maria and the children
danced around while singing Do-Re-Mi.

For the Sound of Music fans ...

After the Zwergerlgarten, a short walk down the main street of the Old Town, stopping just long enough to purchase a bottle of Schnapps for consumption later in the day. A fairly lengthy stop, as the shopkeeper was thoughtful enough to give us a very detailed description of every type of Schnapps available for purchase, of which there were many. Probably in the hundreds.

Best. McDonald's Sign. Ever.

At the very end of the main street in the Old Town, after a right turn, then a left, just past the main square and to the right again, tucked in behind the Oldest Bakery in the World, or maybe it was the Oldest Mill in the World, but definitely next to the Oldest Restaurant in the World (St. Peter's Stiftskeller - and you can Google that!), one finally  found Petersfriedhof, or St. Peter's Cemetery. The insomniac  is sharing these directions so that should you ever decide to visit Salzburg, you can simply print a copy of this post to take with you, then you too will be able to find St. Peter's just as easily as she did.

St. Peter's is the oldest Christian graveyard in Salzburg, dating back to 1627. Allegedly, most visitors come to the cemetery to see where the Von Trapp family hid out in the movie. NOT the case for the insomniac, who came instead for the catacombs carved in the rock face above the cemetery. However, the steep stone-carved stairs and the “small admission fee” influenced one's decision to stray from the itinerary for the second time that trip, and a short walk on the level ground of the cemetery proved quite satisfactory.

If you've stumbled across this post hoping for information on the 30th Anniversary Sound of Music Tour, that last reference to the Von Trapp family hiding in the cemetery was it. From here on in, it's all about the Catacombs.

Cemetery Picture I

Cemetery Picture II

Cemetery Picture III

Gratuitous Picture of Skeleton (or Skull)

The acronym works equally well for both ...

Now while St. Peter's was indeed a lovely cemetery, the one that most definitely should not be missed is the Sebastianskirche and Friedhof, or St. Sebastians's Church and Cemetery. Although unaware of this fact before today, the Gothic church was torn down in 1750 and replaced by a Baroque colonnaded hall surrounding the cemetery which contains The. Best. Catacombs. Ever.

Colonnaded Hall

Catacombs inside the Colonnaded Hall

Another GPOS ...

And another ...

One was also unaware of the following facts: “The passage to St. Sebastian's Cemetery has held the tomb of the famous physician Paracelsus since 1564. Other famous personalities have also found their final resting place under the magnificent arcades - Mozart's father Leopold, his wife Constanze as well as her second husband Georg, her aunt Genovefa, and Elia Castello, builder of the Gabriel Chapel.”

And although the insomniac  completely missed Paracelsus' grave, she is almost positive this next photo is of Constanze's, since she recognized the Mozart name and knew she should take a picture of it because it was probably Historically Important. Unfortunately, the script on the stone is too small to be legible, making it a definite possibility that this one is not, in fact, Constanze Mozart's grave.

For all intents and purposes,
Constanze Mozart's Final Resting Place ...

Gabriel Chapel with Mausoleum

Built for Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich
who built the Schloss Mirabell Palace for his Mistress ...

St. Sebastian's was one of most serene and beautiful cemeteries that one has ever had the good fortune to stumble across, as there was not a single tourist in sight. Perhaps they got their directions from Google Maps as well, but did not possess the insomniac's  relentless determination nor her excellent navigational skills, and therefore never found its location. The only other living person there was a young local girl who was enjoying her lunch in the peaceful surroundings, undisturbed but for two very quiet and respectful tourists.

The insomniac  would like to have her lunch here every day, too ...

The insomniac  was also unaware that
the Mozart family were Vampyres.

That's the only plausible explanation for the stake ...

Best. Cemetery. Ever.

At this point, as it was raining so hard it was decided a Hot Chocolate Break was in order, before the eventual return to the B&B for the much anticipated Schnapps Break. In case you'd like to retrace the insomniac's  itinerary and try this restaurant, it was either called the Mozart Restaurant, or it was located in the house where Mozart was born, or maybe it was the house where Mozart grew up. In one's defense, the sign was in German and the only recognizable word was Mozart. But you could probably Google it.

And here is where the insomniac  attempted one of those “artistic” food shots that are so popular in blogs these days. It was probably fortunate one did not quite finish the German Rosetta Stone course before the trip, and was therefore blissfully unaware of what was being said by the restaurant's patrons as they pointed and snickered.

Best. Hot Chocolate. Ever.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams ... one almost wishes it were cool enough to even consider having some Hot Chocolate before retiring. Or Schnapps. Goodnight, my pretties.


PostScript: The insomniac  would like thank Tante Fledermaus for bringing the GPOY acronym to her attention. One can already tell that subtle variations of this acronym will come in very handy for future posts. She would also like to point out that even though she didn't manage to complete the entire German Rosetta Stone course, Tante AND Fledermaus are two words she actually knows the meaning of without having to Google them. The only other useful words she retained from the course were “Zwei Bier, Bitte”. Oh, and Schnapps.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Beadwork and Velvet and Bits of Old Fabric ...

... these are a few of one's favourite things! The preceding should be sung to the tune of “Raindrops on Roses” with humble apologies to any Sound of Music fans who might be reading this post which, considering the topics generally covered in this blog, seems highly unlikely. But just to make perfectly clear the insomniac's  sentiments about the Sound of Music, neither she nor her long-suffering spouse participated in any of the S of M tours last year whilst in Salzburg, instead choosing to spend time visiting two very lovely cemeteries with amazing catacombs, photos of which will be shown in a future post. The future quite probably meaning next week, since no other possible topics have as yet sprung to mind.

To reiterate: Best. Catacombs. Ever.

The insomniac  will now share with you some of the eBay auctions she has lost over the years, occasionally due to her rather limited eBay budget, but more frequently because she has quite simply forgotten to snipe the highest bidder at the last possible second.

Gilded Shelf with Beaded Valance

As much of the antique beadwork still in pristine condition seems to go for a relatively high price these days, one often has to resign oneself to right-clicking the nicer pieces in order to preserve a copy for posterity, in lieu of being able to actually own the original. The insomniac  is quite a pushover for needlepoint roses on burgundy backgrounds, but never even attempts a bid on face screens or valances of any kind, as they inevitably end up well above one's comfort zone for frivolous purchases. In such cases, one must resort to the RightClick-SaveImage Feature on the computer in order to enjoy them in a more frugal manner. Although one grudgingly admits that one doesn't really need to own every piece of beadwork one runs across on the internet ... very grudgingly, mind you.

Beadwork and Needlepoint Face Screen

Beadwork and Needlepoint Shelf Valance

If one is able to trust one's memory (which, generally speaking, one cannot), the following two pieces were bid on but not won. The beautiful background colour is what first caught the insomniac's  eye, but once the auction was lost, they were then preserved with the aforementioned RightClick-Save. One felt they were good candidates for a future “Crafting with the Insomniac  Project” especially the tea cozy, being constructed with that simple beadwork stitch that works up relatively quickly and would make a perfect introductory project for someone wanting to learn basic beadwork. Let's plan for that sometime this winter, shall we? Start collecting your beads and velvets now, my pretties ...

Beaded Tea Cozy
One can justify not going over budget on this one
because one is inclined to be more of a coffee fiend ...

Another regrettable loss was this beaded tea tray, without it's wooden frame. It should have gone for much cheaper because of the absentee frame, but apparently everyone else in the world who was bidding on it liked the background colour just as much as the insomniac  did, because it went for much higher than one's Highest Bid. Dammit.

Beaded Tea Tray, Bereft of Frame

The following piece should have also gone for a veritable song but, once again, apparently the insomniac  is not the only one who collects antique beadwork in lousy condition with the hope of getting a Really Good Deal. And even though one is quite sure you will have a hard time believing this statement, the insomniac  actually does have definite limits as to what she will pay for a piece of handwork that requires many, MANY hours of restoration work. Really, she does. Really.

Needlework and Beaded Table Runner
Love the design of the leaves ... and the colours.

The remainder of the pieces are actually in the insomniac's  rather limited collection. One is not going to divulge the price paid for this next item, due to the spouse doing the proofreading and all, plus the fact that one hasn't managed to remain married for thirty glorious years by revealing every little purchase one has made during some misguided 2:00 a.m. eBay shopping spree; some things are better left unspoken.

But the beadwork was impeccable, the design and colours actually SPOKE to the insomniac  on some subliminal level, and the size of the beads was so miniscule (around size 16, which is so teensy it makes one's eyes ache just thinking about it) that the budget was tossed aside for that month and the purse will now spend the remainder of its days hanging from the bedroom wall. Thoughts of an artful display on the dresser were entertained but were also tossed aside, because a purse displayed laying flat on a dresser would obviously collect substantially more dust than one displayed hanging on a wall. 

Antique Beaded Purse

The following valance was purchased when there happened to be a little extra money left in the budget for a completely frivolous “investment”. The insomniac  had every intention of repairing the black needlepoint trim at the top, which had worn away and left patches of bare canvas showing. But, as with many things on display in the Gothic Mansion, once the valance had been around for a while, the bare patches became slightly less irritating for some reason. Truth be told, ignoring the bare patches eventually becomes the much preferred alternative to dismantling the piece in order to repair it. 

Beadwork and Needlepoint Valance

The following piece was a rare Etsy purchase. The insomniac  is not sure why she isn't as big a fan of Etsy as eBay, considering one is able to purchase items immediately without the added pressure of having to remember to outbid a fellow eBayer at the last minute. And although one has no idea why the piece was purchased or what it will be used for, it is Burgundy and Black, and that is reason enough. Sometimes the Hunting and Gathering part of a potential project is much more enjoyable than the actual Getting Down to Work part, don't you agree?

Velvet AND Beads Together
This tattered piece also SPOKE to the insomniac,
well, more like whispered - a little like Gollum - yesssssss ...

Just this past month, a gryphon tea cozy was won on eBay UK, the insomniac  actually remembering to snipe some poor soul during the last 30 seconds of the auction. (Sincerest regrets if that was you, but hopefully you remembered to RightClick-Save before deleting the auction info.) Both sides of the tea cozy are in quite bad shape, but it was purchased with the intent to create a needlepoint pattern for working a new copy. Having now received the two pieces, one feels that one side will eventually end up framed as some sort of collage piece, with bits of black velvet mourning trims covering the holes and worn bits. But that is a project for a cold winter weekend, as the real third-floor attic is too unbearably hot at the moment to even consider spending longer than five minutes up there. Possibly sometime in late September, after  the bees and wasps have finally given up attempting to find somewhere in the attic to overwinter.

Beadwork and Needlepoint Tea Cozy
Those gryphons makes one's heart beat faster ...

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams ... and should anyone have any lovely pictures of antique beaded textiles they'd like to share with the insomniac, please feel free to email them to her. Because she has a lot of Virtual Storage available on her computer for pretty pictures, but not much Actual Storage left in the attic. Goodnight, my pretties.