i want this man cave too – the Futuro House

As a woman I’ve always thought this ‘man cave‘ thing is so juvenile and lame.

I mean, why do men, who do not have to deal with hormonal changes on a monthly basis need a room, space, corner or area of a dwelling specifically reserved for men to be in a solitary condition, away from the rest of the world (other than his buddies)?

Aren’t men built with a special genes that allows them to block the rest of the world? Example, “Hon, can you change Tim please? He’s screaming and pounding away in front of you!” {silence} – falls on deaf ears.

Well, believe it or not, when I saw The Futuro House at Marché Dauphine

I blurted out: I want this man cave too!

The Futuro House was designed in 1968 by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. It was commissioned as a “holiday house” or vacation home and was intended for use in the mountain-side setting. As such, the structure Matti Suuronen built would need to satisfy three criteria: transportable to the site easily, low maintenance and shed snow easily. At just over 26 feet in diameter and 11 feet high, the final design of the Futuro House epitomises the utopian architectural design of the 1960s, when advances in techniques had fired the inventiveness of creators of that period.

Completely equipped with custom furnishings that fit the interesting shape of this house, there are purportedly 96 Futuro Houses in the world, 60% of which have been accounted for.

The Futuro House above sits under Paris’ youngest flea market in the Saint-Ouen cluster of flea markets (the Marché Dauphine) Eiffel-like glass roof and is constructed out of fibre glass.

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Marché Dauphine 
132 -140 rue des Rosiers 
93400 Saint Ouen
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my 1st blooper for 2013!

In a strange way I have the strangest superstition … like not starting a new year with chores or events I do not like, which I have control over and doing more of the things I like.
So for 2013, I wanted to revisit a hobby I had when I was a child: painting
At 12 I had produced at least 8 pieces of oil painting and had won numerous competitions for oil pastels and poster colour. My first oil pastel commission was a 8 piece collection of ethnic people of Malaysia, many of which had excessive creases and folded skin. It’s a pity I can’t relocate the film photos of them, but I recalled my mom (who is vain and takes offense to wrinkles then) saying, why must you keep drawing old people?
I have no recollection how much I was paid, but I sure felt rich at the age of 11 as it bought me my first real oil painting “set” of:
  • Winsor & Newton Artist oil colours  essential colours in cadmium red, phthalo blue, cadmium yellow, phthalo green, burnt umber, titanium white, zinc white and Payne’s grey.
  • 3 palette knifes
  • 3 Filbert brushes
  • linseed oil
  • natural/ organic turpenoid (not the cheap turpentine I had been using from the good ol’ neighbourhood hardware store)
  • professionally treated canvas!
The latter was such a joy.
With limited budgets, I used to buy the “canvas” sold in one of those one-stop shops that sells demented grandfather PJs pants to sleek coconut hair oil and MR 9.90 canvas shoes.
These “canvas” were meant to be covers of iron boards back in the day when Brabantia ironing board was unheard off and not oil/ acrylic painting. It lacked texture, but hey as an 11 year old with a ridiculous chocolate hoarding addiction then, affordability and lunch money only stretches so far. Without proper primer, I used to “steal” the leftover white emulsion paints in the garage my dad had abandoned, which created a greater awareness of the various hardware items that would influence me greatly in my university days.
I’ve never been good at water colours.
Perhaps the only water colour images I was exposed to as a child growing up was Chinese water colour and those lame landscapes of the sea, the harbour, the cottage garden type. None of which got my blood pumping. Hence, I never quite went down that route.
My various attempts were pathetic.
I had dismissed it as a natural thing as it’s quite difficult to switch from heavy mediums and intense colours to controlling lightly tinted water on paper.
Something like being able to play both tennis and ping pong well.
However, subconsciously, I have been painfully aware and attracted to watercolour works by illustrators of travel journals … and Moleskine.
The thing is Moleskine only entered the Malaysian market a couple of years back… by which time, professional day job had taken over my life … and if I may say, the pricing is day light robbery by all accounts.
To make it worse, I could not bring myself to buy an ordinary, slightly thicker than onion skin paper notebook when I used to sell whimsical handmade notebook to an equally whimsical stationer for working women in New York.
Nonetheless, I finally relented and bought my first Moleskine – Travel Journal (no less) in 2011.
I had contemplated about it for a long time, prodded by the decision by my travel mate who thought it would be a great idea to start journaling our travels starting from the Balkans.
Interesting to note, neither he nor I lugged our Moleskine – Travel Journal along.
He had brought a palm sized thin notebook – freebie from some Bank would be my guess.
I brought along my RM 2.90 ring notepad –  the one that oozes inspiration.
But over time, I did attempt some journaling on the Moleskine – Travel Journal.
Admittedly, this was driven solely by the cost of the damn thing … hence the guilt of not using it.
I started off with Sri Lanka, Hong Kong and a partial entry of a 4×4 Road Trip. These were done in the scrapbooking style.
But as of yesterday, I decided to try my hand at watercolor sketching of Sarajevo.
This urge started at 1:53 am as I sat on my bed trying to recall by memory the green building along the river, just 100 metres from the Latin Bridge where the Archduke Franc Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, thereby starting the First World War … or should I say the never ending wars and exchange of hands of lands between Greater Serbia and the then Yugoslavia.
Penelope Sarajevo Latin Bridge
As the slightly thicker than onion skin thin paper pucker and dry … I looked up the travel photo this morning … gulp, gulp, it’s confirmed: I am demented! My memory of the building (reproduced below) is anything but …
Penelope Water Colour 1
Great thing is I am Malaysian.Sigh

We have lots of ethnic and religious calendars – I can always start over if things don’t work out many, many times in a Gregorian calendar year!

Phew! Suddenly things don’t seem too bad…
And hopefully through osmosis I’ll be able to be improve as I upload great travel illustrations by inspirational illustrators, architects, just plain talented folks in my co-authored (to be launched) new blog in 2013: Geek’s G-Spots

the best ever birthday gift {thus far}

Exactly 1,097 days ago, I first blogged about plans for Ethiopia… fleetingly.
Since that faithful day on 4th October 2009 {in an entry that had almost no relevance to Ethiopia}, 6 entries of Ethiopia has appeared in this space, but nothing much had happened, other than the procurement of an Ethiopia & Eritrea LP, which authors tickled my fancy.
Partly it had to do with me not being able to wrap my head around the Ethiopian visa issue and the consulate being in one of those places which is not in my “Penelope favourite places”
Mostly I didn’t have the resolute will to do something about it as these travels takes a lot of planning and patience in figuring the ways about it.
so what has changed?
I had ‘burned’ my opportunity during the Eid period with the arrival of my newest nephew Benji; with neither North Korea or Myanmar happening … just me contributing to the national airlines revenue although they have treated me so badly. Or rather Enrich has.
I am close to ‘burning’ my Deepavali-Awal Muharram opportunity due to indecisiveness of doing the Eastern Europe circuit of Ukraine, Moldova, Transnistria and Romania or sailing the Lofoten Islands under the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis



The first choice ‘pull’ is Chernobyl.
Prypiat to be exact … and it pretty much stops there, other than the 2 embarrassing admission that it ‘earns’ me 3 new countries’ immigration stamps to add to my list, and I get to feel closer to Jason Bourne while I stare out of the Black Sea in Odessa.
Yes, I know he’s frictional … but I’m not quite done with my childhood days of imaginary friends … so, please let me be.
The second choice ‘pull’ is of course the dancing lights … but, I got a bit greedy. I figured if I were to make the effort, I’d want to throw in ocras, polar bears and some crazy geographical formations. Well, we all know that that’s not going to happen as the time of sighting are all different, with the exception of the geographical formations and location wise it could be anything from Iceland to Alaska!
Being totally a non landscape person – well, I’m appreciative up to perhaps an hour at the very most and it really has to be spectacular to hold my attention – I’m seriously wondering why would I want to chill my bones only to have the not-so-authentic knee scream in pain and arthritis some 2 decades later to regret the decision. I’m also wondering if I’d every look at 1,479 photos of neon lights against dark skies and slabs of peak “egg whites” with hues of blue and green on them once I’ve return to the good ol’ warm and toasty equator.
And with limited days off, a peculiar carry forward system, impossible project datelines and parallel projects … I MUST NOT ‘burn’ the lovely 2013 late January to early February stretch of holidays … Prophet Muhammad, Thaipusam, FT Day and Chinese New Year … where 9 days of annual leave gets you 19 days off … I MUST be OUT OF MY MIND to let this opportunity slip by.
Coupled by the need to conserve some days off for either a trip to Cuba or the Trans-Siberia in July/August 2013 … of course, I am under immense pressure.

And with that I had written to them and ask if they could consider me for a candidate in January/ February 2013. I had sourced the world wide web for visa information.
For the former, I received an affirmation on my birthday – thank you!
Best birthday present ever {for now at least}
As for the latter I found this website … though I may be clutching on straws, it looks better than the earlier Beijing contact.