Culture: Very French descriptions of colors

I write with fountain pens and colorful inks, and often check to see if there are new colors I could be enjoying. A favorite French brand, Herbin, as both lovely colors AND notable descriptions of those colors on their website.

Herbin Calligraphy Supplies | Fine Writing Ink, Calligraphy Pens, and Sealing Wax | Pen Ink Cartridges, Reed and Bamboo Pens

Vert empire : cette couleur évoque le sacre de Napoléon Bonaparte le 2 décembre 1804 en la cathédrale Notre-Dame à Paris. Napoléon Bonaparte pris lui-même la couronne impériale (couronne de lauriers) des mains du Pape Pie VII pour se la poser sur la tête. Il couronna ensuite son épouse Joséphine qui devint ainsi impératrice.

What do I mean? There is a lovely brown called “Terre de feu.” It evokes certain volcanic islands south of Chile. And the English translation of the description says, “This brown ink has a red tone a reminder of the burnt lands and vast deserts where nothing ever grows.”

NOTHING EVER GROWS THERE. BUY THIS INK!!

I can’t resist that.

Or a dusty rose. “Bouquet d’antan (Bouquet of yesterday pink): It represents a bouquet that can be found at an elderly’s house.” It’s a lovely color (I will buy a bottle!), but it also sounds like someone is rebuking their grandmother for nostalgia, doesn’t it? Yes, it does, as the description continues: “The color is the symbol of nostalgia of the time that has gone by.” GET OVER IT, GRANDMÈRE!

I didn’t know there was a color for “grievance,” but there is, and who doesn’t want to emphasize their grievances with an appropriate color?? Grievance is a delicious shade of violet. Of course it is.

It’s as if I’ve discovered a new view of the world, and can now wander about, attributing attitude to all of the colors in my home. Me tomorrow morning: “This antique gold with a hint of green evokes a bitter, fading houseplant which rejects the window you have chosen in your new apartment. It will NOT forgive you. This flat was a mistake. Available in 25 ml or 10 ml travel size.”

Two fountain pen inks I take the greatest pleasure in writing with are from Herbin. They flow well, are well saturated with color, never feather on my preferred papers, flow smoothly, and don’t clog my pens.

Your letters or journals will obviously look more clever in these colors. Your pen pals will sigh. You can sigh directly at https://www.jherbin.com/fountain_pen_inks.html

The colors I use regularly and love from Herbin: Poussiére de Lune (moondust, a rich violet); Vert Empire (a faded, velvety green); Rouge Grenat (a deep, pomegranate red); Corail des Tropiques (coral orange-pink, closer to Rouille D’Ancre than the color chart suggests; pleasantly legible, and as cheerful as a Caribbean beach vacation — now I’m really thinking this way); Emeraude de Chivor (turquoise-to-teal with bright red and metallic gold particles, which are only visible on less absorbent papers); and a new, tiny bottle of Bleu Myosotis (go read the description for that one!).

I also have a bottle of Herbin’s white calligraphy ink, which I use in a special pen on black paper, because: me. It offers good contrast, and handles well.

I’ve seen all the other fountain pen fanatic blogs, and I know I’m supposed to create a brilliant work of art with a watercolor brush AND write at least two major journal spreads in each of the colors I chose, plus provide a written specification of every tool in the room while I created it, describe what I had for lunch, and a provide an original recipe for that. Also, I must ensure that each color has its own separate blog entry. However, this just isn’t the day/week for that.

I understand the convention, so as a gesture of goodwill toward my fellow fanatics, I’ll share my own spontaneous, inept tribute to Emeraude de Chivor, because I can:


Example of me spontaneously going overboard in trying to pool Herbin’s Emeraude de Chivor drawn on Tomoe River cream-colored paper, in various bright or direct sunlight conditions.  I went extra heavy with an oversized calligraphy pen to  load up the paper so you can see the red and gold particles. 

If/when I dedicate a post to this ink the way I use it most, I’ll use a fountain pen with a fat nib so you can see each inky letter outlined in the red and gold particles when dry. It’s quite an effect – all correspondence I’ve written with it generated questions about how I did this magic.

~~~

Related to the idea of fun with how colors are labeled, but not entirely on topic: AI generated names for paint colors from Janelle Shane:

New paint colors invented by neural network

So if you’ve ever picked out paint, you know that every infinitesimally different shade of blue, beige, and gray has its own descriptive, attractive name. Tuscan sunrise, blushing pear, Tradewind, etc… There are in fact people who invent these names for a living.

Life: NOT Talking About COVID-19, and other topics

Some of my friends in other countries talk about things other than the COVID-19 pandemic, and that’s a bit disorienting. I realize that their regions are only applying quarantine-type precautions NOW, and so their experience of 2020 was different, and still is different.

I’m sincerely happy for them, that life has proceeded almost normally for them. (It bothers me, to the extent that “normal life” got people killed, but these attitudes are so regionalized that it’s hard to even know what information they have.) I can remember what that WAS like, in the Before Times, and I can ask them questions about it, and cheer them on.

I can’t reciprocate conversationally with news of my own, because it’s like I’m reporting from a well-appointed cave. Yes, I’m still in the cave! It’s still very cave-like! My food delivery to the cave was botched today! Cave living involves too much planning! Blah blah blah, cave cave cave! (Yes, I’m TOTALLY pretending I wasn’t this boring before the pandemic! 😀 I mean, I work in law (on the systems, processes, people management, and project management sides), so draw your own conclusions there.)

Nothing is “normal.” Nothing has been normal for a while. There is almost nothing in my life that hasn’t been affected in some way by the pandemic. What I eat, what I wear, how I spend my free time, how I exercise, who I interact with, how I spend money, how I look, how healthy I am, when I can see my doctors, what I read, how I sleep, what I daydream about, what news I seek out, which charities I support, how often I see my own parents, how often my parents see each other…

~ on coping and consolation activities while sheltering in place ~

I’m a largely self-entertaining person, and I’m “holding up” well. I’m reading great books; I’m writing to great friends; I’m having audio and video calls with family and other dear people; I’ve been out on masked outdoor walks with my gal pod; I’m fearlessly experimenting with recipe modifications; I’m studying Spanish; I’m watching sci-fi films and even some television… but it’s all “making do.” It’s all a series of compromises. It sounds nice because of how I am describing it, but it’s not what I want – I want to VISIT my family, I want to TRAVEL to and with far away friends, I want to DINE OUT with my local social groups, I want to COOK for my pals, I want to see movies on HUGE SCREENS in proper theaters while eating overpriced popcorn after a day of chatting IN CAFES, buying books IN BOOKSTORES, viewing art up close IN MUSEUMS, and chattering away with pals in LIVELY NEIGHBORHOODS with cheerful ‘street life’ all around.

I know there are better versions of the activities I’m doing now. I remember them. I want them back, but won’t resume ANY of them until it truly appears to be safe to do so. (And I won’t be an early adapter to return.)

So I’m glad I’m doing so much with my small amounts of non-working time, but I am not satisfied.

~ on fictionalizing not discussing disasters ~

Although NaNoWriMo is over for 2020, I’m considering writing a science fiction novella about life during a vivid, gaudy space invasion, while people are trying to pretend that it isn’t happening. There are aliens marching down the street; there is a vast spaceship hovering over the grocery store; the skies light up with strange lights every evening… Yet people are looking down at their cars and making small talk about a new Marvel movie, a new bakery that they haven’t tried yet, or the school they hope their child will apply for in three years. My character is standing there, agreeing, brushing small drones out of her hair when they get tangled. She’s thinking: “Damned drones: I’ll need to get a repellant,” but won’t say that aloud, because that would be rude. Acknowledging the drones would be talking about the invasion. She can’t talk about the invasion. No one talks about the invasion. Except children, who have no manners and need to be shushed.

~ on metaphors for losing touch with prior ways of living ~

I have more empathy for people working in space, and especially for the people who will go on long interplanetary missions in the near-ish future. Their loved ones at home will send them emotional video messages about broadcasted sporting events, new television shows they are engrossed in, and how they had trouble parking; their children will show them their algebra homework and complain about their soccer coach; and the astronauts will smile, nod, and not entirely be able to relate in that moment because of the distance between the life they used to live, and the life they are living now. “It’s really great to hear from you! How are things here? Well, I eat lunch that I can squeeze out of plastic bags, if anything goes wrong we will decompress and die, if my mission goes well I will never see the earth in person again, I’m working on some science projects that should earn me several more Ph.D.s, and the results may allow us to survive in a space colony. Yes, sure, tell me more about parking problems you had near your favorite restaurant!”

I’m hoping there are space therapists. Lots of space therapists. And that they have a really nice mission patch.

News: COVID-19 Zoonosis summary from WHO

While I’m relieved this is being studied and taken seriously, I remain uncomfortable with the idea that our COVID-19 vaccination programs could be undermined when humans infect industrially farmed animals, who then return the favor with new variants.

If you’re interested in an overview of the animal-to-human-transmission – zoonosis – situation with COVID-19, you should read the WHO summary that focuses on mink farms and related infections, below. (When last I visited, it was updated in early November 2020; additional cases have occurred since that time: you can see more recent case counts just by running a search for COVID mink. Ick.)

SARS-CoV-2 mink-associated variant strain – Denmark

Since June 2020, 214 human cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Denmark with SARS-CoV-2 variants associated with farmed minks, including 12 cases with a unique variant, reported on 5 November. All 12 cases were identified in September 2020 in North Jutland, Denmark.

STOP WEARING ANIMALS, HUMANS! (Yes, I’d be supportive of humans discontinuing all industrial farming of animals. It will be great when swine flu, bird flu, etc., aren’t human pandemics brought about by these crowded and unsanitary industrial practices.)

News: More contagious COVID-19 Strain

This is not the news I wanted or needed, but it jumped out this morning.

Johnson U-turn leaves nation’s plans for Christmas in tatters

The nation’s Christmas plans were plunged into chaos last night after Boris Johnson dramatically abandoned his attempts to avoid tighter Covid restrictions, and instead placed millions of people under new lockdown measures to try to curb a highly infectious new strain of the virus.

(Yes, I did opt for the photo of Sturgeon over Johnson in that card, because OF COURSE I did.)

The key quote is:

In a major U-turn that prompted an immediate backlash from his party, the prime minister placed a third of England’s population under new tier 4 restrictions to counter a Covid strain believed to be up to 70% more transmissible than previous variants.

from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/19/johnson-u-turn-leaves-nations-plans-for-christmas-in-tatters

SEVENTY PERCENT?!?!? Yikes. Just when vaccines were starting to tilt the news in a more hopeful direction…

Life: Lights

Holiday lights

Weblog by A. Elizabeth Graves. Featuring iPhone photography and links on science-y and foodie topics.

I decorated today. For the solstice/Xmas holidays, I mean.

I’m usually visually understated about this time of year. I have simple tastes, leaning toward one or two colors (gold, red, green, white, OR silver) and some sparkling visual calm. This isn’t rebellion, but I’ve had loved ones who needed ALL THE XMAS THINGS all the time, which was too much for me. As in: if the soap in the bathroom wasn’t Xmas-themed, the world might end. I’ve swung HARD in the other direction.

A solid, pagan solstice/northern European-themed Christmas for me is: a really good, gluten free cake or pumpkin pie, a fresh-smelling wreath, cozy pajamas, feasting on favorite winter foods with loved ones and chatting most of the day away, curling up in front of a fireplace (or bank of candles), and some light entertainment.

This year, all the social elements of Xmas are unsafe, so I’m going a bit out of my range to do something cheerful with lights that is NOT monochromatic (gasp), cycles through MANY colors (gasp!), and is even visible outside.

I’m afraid I’ll get so used to them, I won’t want to take them down. 🙂

News: COVID Alert

This is a level above being merely COVID-AWARE, I guess. This isn’t how I expected the emergency alert system to be used, but things are pretty rough right now in the U.S.

Today’s LOUD smartphone alert.

So, the good news is that the FDA granted emergency authorization for the Moderna vaccine, so now we’ll have two we can use in the U.S., once we work out the logistics of distributing and administering them.

The bad news is that Los Angeles County already has a COVID fatality rate that that can now be characterized in deaths per hour.

It’s… as bad as was predicted by people who are good at predicting epidemics. Who knew?

This is still a really difficult time, and even with the vaccines being authorized, it feels like relief for most people from all of the dread and risk management and logistics and economic despair is still a long way off.

We all need to find some sparks of joy to keep us going, but it’s tough knowing how hard it is for everyone right now. Even if my phone hadn’t blared this loud reminder.

Books: Audiobooks that support your local bookshop

There are times when I want to read a book, there are times when I won’t do my chores if I have the option of a reading a book, and there are times when one of my neighbors shouts her conversations immediately outside one of my windows, distracting me from my reading. The solution to these awkward circumstances is: listening to an audiobook.

Audiobooks from megacorporations don’t support my beloved local bookshops, but Libro.fm does. Libro.fm sends a portion of my purchases to a specific local affiliate shop of my choosing. (I see you, Green Apple Books!) I recently signed on with them, and recommend their service, website, and app (<– referral link, if you are into that).

About Libro.fm Audiobooks

Skip content Libro.fm makes it possible for you to buy audiobooks through your local bookstore, giving you the power to keep money within your local economy, create local jobs, and make a difference in your community.

Audiobooks aren’t a new idea: even in my childhood (geologic ages ago), there were books on record or audio cassette (now you know my age) that were like radio story programs. They relied entirely on dramatic readings and cool sound effects! There were also tapes I could play along with children’s books, with child-appropriate character acting, and a chime when it was time to turn the page, to give tired parents a break from reading the same story in dozens of voices YET AGAIN. (I still have songs from Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day and Jungle Book memorized… ) Current publishers have the author or other skilled voice actor read mainstream, contemporary books, either condensed or full (unabridged), in an up-to-date, relying-on-the-words way. I still love, purchase, and collect BOOKS, of course; audiobooks are just a nice way to enjoy a book once eye fatigue from work has set in. Audiobooks can be well-produced and enjoyable as an experience in their own way.

News: US Pandemic Deaths cross 300,000

I don’t really know what to do with this information. It’s… difficult to process 190,000+ new COVID-19 cases daily, or over 1,000 deaths daily just in this one country. It feels important; I hope to survive to look back on this time and recognize how remarkable it was; it is the context that affects every day of my life currently; but it is also terrible and haunting and difficult and sad.

Art: Textile design by Märta Måås-Fjetterström

I received a gorgeous postcard in the mail today from Norway; it’s a card from a retrospective art show in Sweden of the artist Märta Måås-Fjetterström. She’s famous for her amazing carpets, which have been used in Nobel Prize ceremonies, and are in design collections of museums around the world.

I was delighted to search for her, and see some of her work. Her studio is still active and producing her designs, and so there are MANY search results!

Märta Måås-Fjetterström

Märta Maas-Fjetterström was an influential Mid-Century Swedish textile designer. Her pieces are prized as classic and timeless examples of Modernist Swedish textile ideals. Often inspired by nature, her carpets are both stylized and organic, evoking her earthly source material though the subtle depictions of flowers and landscapes.

Somehow, the WSJ has one of the best-illustrated article on the operation of her studio in the present time.

The Enduring Appeal of Märta Måås-Fjetterström’s Modernist Swedish Rugs

A Swedish artist working in the early years of the last century, quietly radical in her choices of clear, bright colors and abstract imagery. Pioneering painter Hilma af Klint, the subject of a blockbuster show currently on view at New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, isn’t the only one who fits this description.

I learn so much from my friendly postcard senders!