Good luck, little bird.
A family group of swallows has taken to nesting around the boat sheds at Back Beach and we have been watching the babies fledge and get their insect-grabbing wings over the last couple of months. Unfortunately one of them had been downed by unseasonal southerly gales and sat huddled on the road, dazed, possibly with strained wings and definitely just moments from being run over. Luckily R saw it and carried it home, from where it was delivered to the Dunedin Wildlife Hospital. A big shout out to the DOC weekend operator who went the extra mile and picked it up for us. Fingers crossed that it just needed a couple of days to rehydrate and recover.
Good luck, little bird.
Overall, Bite Liquefied Lipstick is a really nice product without the downsides I'd anticipated from this format. I forgot to mention that after a full day in these colours my lips feel relieved and conditioned, which is such a lovely bonus- it is almost worth buying them for that effect alone. Recommended.
L2R, MAC unless stated: Russian Red, Bite Clove, Nars Deborah, Nars Lonely Heart, Spice it Up, Deep Love, Paramount
from peeping at the IVH show with the lit feet and stuff
There's a feeling you get, when you're looking through screeds of crappy shit on auction sites instead of doing something constructive/overdue and finally, you spot something weird, alluring and inexpensive amid the garbage. It's not triumph- it's sleazier than that, a moment of ha ha, brain, you thought I was just being a lazy twat these last three hours, foolish organ! Something venal and self-deceiving. How Trump's kids must feel on a really good day, I suppose.
Anyway, I had this feeling a couple of weeks back when I spotted this large and incredibly beady conical item. I didn't know what it was, exactly, but I did know that it was one of those awesome and poorly-described things that must be mine. Lucky we still had double figures in our account!
A notion plucked from some dingey mental crevice whispered that I'd seen something like it before, somewhere, and a wee bit of online poking yielded a result; this is a Batak food cover. I know even less about Batak items than I do about the slightly more common Iban/Dayak group work, so I shall defer to someone who appears less of an ignoramus for the attribution (consult the link for a very similar example and more learned explanation).
These amazing constructions are apparently prestige items brought out during marital and funerary feasts as part of the procession and presentation of expensive dishes. I say are, but were is probably more apposite, given the decline of indigenous practise in southern Asia these days in the face of growing religious intolerance in many formerly tribal areas.
On one level it is intensely depressing to find these beautiful heirloom pieces and know the incredible aesthetic traditions they represent are falling into redundancy. But what can you do? Collect and value them, I suppose, and try to attribute them correctly.
I have a couple of actual Dayak sun hats (see one of them below) so I knew this probably wasn't the same thing when I spotted it. They're much more lightly constructed and explicitly hattier than the Batak cover, even to my eye.
Dayak artisans also seemed fond of working their beads into discrete panels that could be applied to and removed from the more organic basal objects as they wore out, which, as anyone who's ever beaded anything can tell you, is both shrewd and humane.
In contrast, the tiny strings of Batak beads are couched, directly and almost individually (take a moment to think about the labour required here) to a walnut-hued rattan or split cane woven base. The latter is surprisingly prosaic, with all the attention directed to the stunning floral and faunal motifs relevant to the family involved. The beads are so densely-applied that it is impossible to discern the nature of the construction unless you examine the reverse, their busy mass relieved only by narrow lines of marine shells that demarcate the feature panels.
While my main source of info didn't speculate about the age of their piece, I'd say it's contemporaneous with mine. The beads on this one may not have the shiny uniformity of the most modern production but they're not the eye-fucking glass minuscules of the earliest period, so I'll poop out a guesstimate of mid-20th C for this cover. The hand-spun cotton thread securing the beads and scraps of hand-loomed plainweave cloth that once lined the reverse speak of a domestic situation still producing or acquiring these non-commercial materials, but it could be twenty years in either direction. I know I say that about virtually everything I acquire but there's bugger-all literature out there to inform a bitch, so you're stuck with my shitty opinion. There's not much evidence of any super-modern production of these; I'm pretty sure they're something old-skool nana made for the family and I'm not sure how many nanas of that vintage are still with us.
Dealers are pricing these covers out of our modest reach so it's gratifying to hear that they still turn up, misidentified, on Ebay occasionally where they represent a lot of ethnographic and artistic bang for your buck. I bought this one from a lady who used to live in Malaysia and consider it one of the greatest bargains I've ever stumbled across.
No more snow fell earthward and Susan lay staring up into the vaulted night, its fabric stained, from the gravid hearth-grey of afternoon to a blackness pillared by the birches, their limbs arrayed like charred bones. Without its stars the sky seemed starved and vacuous, its morbid sable breathing down upon her face while the icy ground beneath conducted her extremities into insensibility, claiming her swollen, leaking hand and block-like feet, on which she had been made to stand until she could no longer do so. Lying prone replaced shuttered exhaustion with a forest viewed in yawning, supine peripheral, the depths of an unknown ocean, her hopeless flesh confiding to its drifting horrors as though it were blood spilled into the water.
Staring at the sky quieted the flashbulb flickers at the edges of her vision and dimmed their association with the silver-foiled eyes that might have stared back from between the trees. The prospect of captivity beneath an eidiré with the woman standing guard as her only companion shared its colour with the interstellar spaces. That no one would come to intervene was something that lay like the snow, anaesthetic once accepted, its principles and mechanism just as spotless and pristine. When Susan closed her eyes she saw the face that Sachiin turned to her in another kind of darkness, discovering the ease with which those most private of exchanges could serve as a farewell, its tender, down-like irony bending the trees once more as tears beaded between her lashes.
Josephine shifted in her seat upon a fallen bough. The girl had turned her face away, rolling into a curve around a cough between the two chains that held her in the mist of the small clearing. Her hair, still gently blue, retained its close-set braids, the tortuous romanticism of the arrangement skewed by the blind rote of their construction. Slowly, she returned to lying on her back. Josephine counted off the hours the hostage had already passed in silence while the prospect of captivity grew protean features and an intent tuned to her darkest spectrum. She had seen its nightmare aspect rend and gut resolve and knew that it required no assistance, thinking herself privy to one of the small concessions dowering submission when she saw the girl's attention had shifted toward her.
A closer look revealed that it did not solicit or even consider her, but had settled on the darkness over her shoulder. Reclaiming her weapon, Josephine turned and beheld the shape that had come forth between the branches. An owl grasped a slender limb at the edge of the clearing, wearing a white far warmer than the snow and as plush as winter ermine, the disquieting schematics of its pallid, annular mask laid round eyes like polished domes of quartz. It shrugged its pinions before blinking from the way ahead, setting a stare on the girl as she used her arms to rise and sit back on her knees. Josephine oversaw their exchange with the suspicion she accorded all requited silence, opening her mouth in unformed objection while Susan reached out slowly and took up snow between her fingers, touching it to her brow in deference to the visitor. The beam from her guard's torch crossed the branches and found the bird's glowing eyes; it clapped its beak, put out its wings and flew on over their heads.
The same light blanched the girl's face when Josephine turned it on her, studying her for a while.
"Call to them." she instructed, her voice echoing slightly in the quiet. The captive sat without moving, her saturnine refusal drawing Josephine from the fallen tree. She unclipped something from her belt as she approached. "Put your back into it." Susan let the woman loose the chain from her hands without looking at her. The ruby binding of her multitool was empurpled by the darkness, like the ends of her own fingers. "Do it now. Nice and loud or I will hurt you, just like before." She felt her cold hand flattened across her knee and pinned fast at the wrist. When she would not comply, the woman closed the alloy jaws on her bitten index finger and prised the riven nail from its bed.
Susan did not know which of Sachiin's names she screamed into the trees. One of the conscripts, his skin prickling with its shivering abandon, halted at the northern end of the clearing with his rifle in both hands, his frown hardly distinguishable from his customary expression.
"I gotta relieve you if you can't keep her iced." he called, making a careful study of the surrounding trees as Josephine rose. In watching him return to his unseen station, she pressed her boot down on the girl's bleeding hand, leaning over as she twisted it slowly into the snow and desisting only when her full weight did not elicit any more audible response.
One and Three lifted Susan from the ground together, bruising the crooks of her arms and availing themselves of fumbling manual gratuities while Shaw lifted a scope to his eye and played it once more over the visible ruin. He muttered to himself as she was dragged past him, glaring at Josephine's back while she stooped to collect the sensor units.
"Called it in yet?" the latter inquired. His silence prompted her to reach into her shirt and retrieve the locator beacon once more. "We've got a good window to get the choppers here."
"The snow's done. We're walking out." Shaw told her.
"I lived half my life in Telluride, and if this snow's done, then you're exactly the kind of charismatic overachiever we need in a leadership role." He stuffed the scope into his pack. Confident she had attracted the conscripts' attention, she blew the moisture from the sensors as she packed them away. "So today we're going to haul her dead weight through hostiles waiting to burn us with our own gear... I guess, to a town, stacked double-wide with tipsters, off-season mercs, so you can... maybe blow off the pick up and run for the border? Try and turn her in? They'll do the flyover, look at your log pics and want to know why you left that shady..." She nodded up toward the ruin. "You'll say you just had a feeling it was clear. They'll promote you and give these guys a ten g bar tab."
Behind her their subordinates dropped the girl into the snow and devoted themselves to his response, snorting and wiping their noses with their gloved hands. Their captive's voice issued from within the copse of black-clad legs encircling her, barely loud enough to penetrate them.
"None of us will get anywhere." she observed, examining the blood crusted on her fingers.
"Why's that?" Shaw asked of her, scowling again.
"The other things... the wolves."
"You made contact with them?"
Her laconic delivery did not moderate the impact of its substance on the conscripts; she watched their boots shift in the snow before her while they absorbed it.
"They'll kill everyone. There's ten of them to every one of you."
Josephine smirked and tightened the straps of her pack, hoisting it onto her shoulder.
"Which is why the two subs are sitting up there, waiting for us to walk into them."
"If they were here, they would have come down the hill with knives and cut your fucking heads off." Susan observed, to which Josephine smiled again, dryly.
"If they were here, that's what I'd say too."
"They cut you loose." Shaw reminded her. "Bailed... walked out right over the top of you, and it looks like that total lack of interest in your welfare's gonna work out great for them. How's that feel?"
The girl seemed to ponder his inquiry.
"Not as bad as letting you go when I should have let them hack you into dogfood." she admitted. "You fucking weasel knob end."
"She let you go? I don't remember that in your report." chuckled Josephine, adding another strip of tape to the gauze on her face.
"He was hiding behind a door." the girl informed her, watching the woman extract grim pleasure from the intelligence. "You're all fucked, alright? Just let me go."
"I know dodging contact is a thing for you, but that's not why you won't head up there, is it Nathaniel?" Josephine inquired, both hands on her hips.
Shaw fired his pack so hard at the ground that its lid lapsed open and spilled its contents onto the snow, leaving him to stand with empty hands. The conscripts backed out of his way around the girl; he dragged her to her feet and held her for a moment, unable to decide on a reprisal, then thrust her once more at them.
"Two, Three... take the hill, keep a tight line... you see something, you get low." he told them, walking away from the disturbance Susan caused by refusing the climb. Josephine strode toward her and kneed her hard onto her face.
"Walk or lose a finger."
CONTINUED NEXT WEEKISH
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce