Thursday, March 29, 2007

Who's driving your plane?

Guess I'll find out tomorrow.

Tomorrow we fly Manchester to Newquay, all of an hour's flight - it takes longer to drive to Manchester airport! Seemed much the best way to visit the DSM's mother.

She has been extraordinarily patient, having been dying to see her little boy since he first had his heart attack. But this really is the first opportunity we have had one way and another, and even so, it is a very literal interpretation of a flying visit as we will be home again by Sunday teatime. Still long enough to reassure her, I hope. It will be lovely to see her, she is a very special person, and as she can't travel herself any more and our trips are usually few and far between, something good has again come from the "event"! I actually think more flying visits are going to be in our future - may enlarge our carbon footprint, but gets the two of them (three of us) together more often, and as she is 91 that can't be a bad thing.

We have some news for her. The DSM had his long-awaited hospital appointment yesterday, and he checks out ok, but does still have the fibrillation. and they are going to try to reset it. So, he is now on Warfarin (it wasn't me, guv, honest!) and they have upped the betablocker dose (boo, hiss, the Reynaud's will probably now get worse) for various technical reasons that we do just about follow, and then in a week or four's time, they will have him in for the day and do the deed. Yikes.

Next week, he will probably start the process of making arrangements to return to work. That's going to be interesting......

I have a new sock project to while away the time whilst travelling or chatting. I have finished the custom dye job ones (I will post a photograph when we get back, together with one or two braid ones, but simply can't face doing it this evening*). The new pair are A Departure (inadvertent - groan!) They almost qualify, indeed are described as, lace.

You may hear the screams as the plane passes overhead.......

But I am just a little bored with plain vanilla (I think there is another groan to be inserted there). I did a K3 P1 rib on the just-completed ones, and now want to venture a tiny bit further into complexity. Well, in my terms of reference, anyway. Watch this space, if you dare. (The pattern is the purl lace from Socksx3, and only has one actual pattern row, so there is hope.)

I completed a flat braid sample today - I found it more tricky, it was harder to keep an even tension, mostly because there is a cross-over swap for the last move of the sequence, and I couldn't do that evenly. Still, practice might help.........

*I was also handicapped. Without going into revolting detail, I have a degree of gum disease, in the main kept reasonably well in check by good work on my part (I am sometimes dumbfounded by what as practised by others is, I suppose, adequate oral hygiene!) So, every now and again, I get a flare-up of what in the good old days was probably what was known as a "gumboil". Sounds so folksy and charming, no? And I also suppose that it is not so very surprising that an episode has erupted (hah) now. Something was going to. So, a trip to the dentist, and a prescription for antibiotics, blergh. Making me feel somewhat seedy.

So, I am retiring early for the night, with a newly charged iPod and my new sock. I'll no doubt get a cat or two. I really rather like the sound of that, cosy, on a dank, chilly night.

OK, expect a day or two of silence. And then maybe some photos.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I have had the nicest morning - and in to the afternoon, too.

Went to my favourite book group at my favourite cafe in town this morning. The book had been "The Way By Swann's" by Proust. Quite why it is no longer called "Swann's Way" we none of us could fathom, despite the rambling explanation in the translator's foreword.

Now, this is a book that I had always intended, wanted to read. When I finally got to it, I was dreadfully ashamed to realise that I couldn't. I found it entirely unreadable. I would start a sentence, which would then stagger on through many clauses and sub-clauses, until I reached the end, by which time I had forgotten what I had read at the beginning. so back I would go to read it over, only to find that it didn't make any sense anyway. The deep shame. The mind had to be going.

Until I get to the group to find that three quarters of those present had felt exactly the same thing, and of the three who had finished, two had ground on just to be obstinate and would never, ever, read another, and the third - well, was just a swot!

Oh, the relief!

So we sat there for another hour just chatting about this and that, little things like the DSM's health, that one of them had just had an episode of renal failure, another a massive anaphylactic shock, how we all liked crime novels, and the benefits of getting the dreaded bus pass.......

Then himself joined us, and he and I did a little organic produce shopping and then had lunch in the same cafe, who do the nicest veggie burgers with salads, and great juices, each one freshly made to order. Good jazz as muzak, too.

After which, we trolled over to the computer geeks place and arranged for them to come and have a look-see at our geriatric system, which is going to drive me to cybercide any day now. Rebooting several times a day is not my idea of fun. At the very least I shall get them to rig up my laptop so I can access the internet and then the pc can do what it damn well chooses. But forgetting the annoyance with that, it is a Good Thing to be getting under way.

And then home, on a glorious spring day, blue skies, gentle breeze, moderately warm - I flung open windows left and right, including the new one in the workroom roof for the first time. In poured the light, and wonderful birdsong, the liquid calling of a spring blackbird, wrens, robins - even the odd squirrel...not to mention the odd thudding of furry paws.

er - this wasn't here before......

er - wot's this, then?

neelix on roof

Shall I just pretend that they aren't calling to me out of a hole in the roof that wasn't there before?

seen from the window

Oh, well, we'll just sit here in the sunshine until they have calmed down a bit.......

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Look what the cat dragged in

A knackered blogger opens one bleary eye and attempts to type. What she might type is anyone's guess, coherence is not gonna be her strong point today.

String together: one day of teaching two charming women alpaca owners to spin, zero to wheel in five hours; one day of regular AH class with fifteen plus the DSM (who actually helped out a lot and was v. useful) teaching basic intro to simple braiding, plus overseeing three newish spinners thirsty for knowledge; one night out on the tiles (of which more in a tick or two); and a dratted clock change. All these total up to one extremely sleepy person....

All the teaching went extremely well. I was particularly pleased with the braiding (and yes, I will post some picture soonish), as I did not make a complete arse of myself and everyone involved appeared to have a really good time. the previous day had gone like a dream, too, one of them didn't get it quite as comprehensively as the other, but was going to make a spinner eventually.

As something of an aside. One of the women had bought herself a second hand wheel which she brought for me to give the once-over. It had a few things slightly wrong with it, one bobbin missing a bush (I think they are called - the plastic insert thingy, anyway, meaning it would not sit on the flyer shaft properly and therefore being unusable); the drive band was the wrong one for the wheel, too tight; and it was generally in need of some TLC. Now, I know the vendors, and have my qualms about them; I have also come across another beginning spinner who had bought a wheel from them that was in a similar condition. And, frankly, I do not consider this an acceptable way to do business. But I don't know what to do about it, for various reasons. In some circumstances, if anyone asks me where to go and buy a wheel, or would I recommend these people, then I could simply state what I have observed and suggest a cautious approach. But so far, it has been too late, and the deed has been done, with the unknowing novice left in possession of a wheel that is not up to scratch. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

Now. this time last week, I was ranting about the ghastly opera performance we had just been to. Last night, we risked a new venture, and went over to York where there was one of the New York Metropolitan Opera live relays to a cinema, the Barber of Seville (only in Italian, and I can't spell it!). My BIL was in the party, too, and he can be somewhat....well, never mind. So I was a bit apprehensive. It was fantastic! there were two or three very short breaks in transmission, at which the entire audience gasped in horror at missing the wonderful sounds, but apart from that all went very well and it was the most glorious performance. OK, so you should expect that from a world class house like the Met, but this was over and above expectation. OK, so a very traditional interpretation - but the director came from a theatrical rather than an operatic background, and that added an enormous amount to the understanding and enjoyment of the evening. Plus, the performers were damn fine actors as well as singers. The whole thing was a joy, so much so that we are going to go to the next one in a months time, Il Trittico, which I have never seen the entirety of, only one of the three.

This is all words, words, words, and not a drop of fibre in sight, so probably time to shut up. The DSM (who is progressing well, in leaps and bounds) has decided it is a good day to chop some bits of the mahonia for some reason, and again for some unknown reason is demanding my help. I had better oblige, and if I am still as sleepy when I get back in, give in and crash out with my iPod, and the cats, who have not stirred from their bed all day.

They don't like the clock change either.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Had not yet gone, it seems.


This was what it gave us three days ago. It didn't last long, and neither did it inconvenience us at all as the lane didn't take the snow even though the fields and trees did. It was just pretty. I should imagine that will be the last of it now, but, hey, I could be wrong.

We are back to lovely blue skies mainly. In fact, the DSM decided this morning that we had to have our coffee outside, up on our precipitous garden, sitting in the sun. It was super, he was quite right. Unfortunately, I had massive amounts of stuff to get through today (which I still haven't finished, so what am I doing sitting here blogging, then?) so I couldn't indulge myself all that long.

I think I am looking at the future. Mostly this is good, we are establishing a routine of sorts (don't want to be too hidebound) and I am at last managing to lead my life as well as his - mostly. If this was permanent, something would have to go, and I am already muttering about this - and getting somewhere, hence having the decorators in. Cleaning and some gardening next, with a bit of luck. I also had a less enticing vision of the future a couple of days ago went we did the supermarket shopping, though, and a certain person spent a lot of time peering suspiciously at labels and trying to get me to buy things I Did Not Want. H'mm.

Now for something completely different.

long-tailed tit nest

I took this by dint of hanging out of our bedroom window, and to my amazement, you can actually see what is going on here, if you peer at it. (I think maybe you can biggify this, or at least go to Flickr and get a larger image there.)

Towards the middle of the picture, you can just see a darker, denser patch. That is the nest of a long tailed tit. Go left and downwards somewhat, and you can see one of the birds, too, at least, I can, and I don't think it is wishful thinking! I love these birds, we always have them around, more in winter than summer usually, so this is a real treat.

And talking of nests, there is a young heronry establishing itself down the road apiece. A heron sitting on a nest looks hilariously funny, I am ashamed to say. But I am so glad they are there. There have been dippers galore of late, another favourite, but a huge mystery is that I am totally convinced that I saw a grey wagtail through the velux window weeks ago, long before they should have been around. It was just after some very strong winds, and perhaps it had been blown off-course?

Wonderful as they are, enough of birds. I have been fibering away, really quite successfully, lots of spindle spinning. I have finished the blue fluff and like it a lot. Went back to some blue silk that I had on the go on my Bosworth Moosie, which spin (both) beautifully. Started some on another spindle so I can ply it. I am attempting to round up all the spindles I have used and left scattered around the domain - there seem to be fewer than I remember, I need to buy some more!

I am horribly afraid that I may have become hooked on braiding. I have a ribbon one on the wooden disc at the moment and it looks very pretty, and am in the process of setting up a honeycomb braid on another disc we hunted up. That will have to do for now - the class is on Friday. And tomorrow I have the alpaca ladies. I dug out the alpaca stash and spent some time refreshing myself, spinning some samples. Lovely stuff, I have. I need to do an alpaca project.....

I have also nearly finished Freyalyn's sock stuff and angora blend, very quick to spin as you can just point of contact it out very rapidly. It's nice. And I have done some more of the Rovings, spun ditto.

It has been surprisingly hard to work to carve out all that necessary time, but I am very glad that I have. It may be easier after this week is over, and especially as we have also had to put the kitchen and landing stuff back in place. although having said that, we are flying (literally) down to Cornwall for a terribly quick visit to the DSM's mum, who has been very patient with us, and is longing to see her baby boy, bless her.

Finally - the Spring Spin Off arrived this morning. Haven't had time to read any of it although it looks to be a good issue. but the SOAR workshop list is of course in there. What to do, what to do? It's his decision, as the Himalayas it out (It was to have been his birthday treat, but it seems over-risky now under the circs.) The workshops look better than last year, but do they grab us with wild excitement? H'mm. There are plenty of fors and plenty of against, as Plan B would be pretty cool. Watch this space.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Please Go Home

"Shall we?" I hissed as the house lights, for some unaccountable reason came part-way up.

We were making our first trip in to Leeds to see Monteverde's Orpheo at Opera North. I knew, with a grim certainty within in the first few minutes that the production and I were not going to Get On. But it was only when the aforementioned occurred that I was able to start with the hissing and the desperate looks, only to find that the DSM was even more keen to escape that I was!

So, the fault may lie within us. I just did a bit of googling, and the only review that I could find absolutely loved it. Lets give you mine....

A stage, littered with chairs and sofas. The only entrances are on one side of the stage, large niches four feet off the ground which the hapless cast have to negotiate if necessary. In one case, this involves Musica, who for no apparent reason is dressed in a sort of cancan costume, tinsel and extremely high heels, having to balance on the narrow arm of a chair that is being braced by another singer.

The walls and floor are in a sort of tongue and groove effect finish in a bilious shade of mustard. The cast have to inspect the wall minutely at certain intervals and Euridice is taped to it at one point. The director is in love with sticky tape, a very noisy tape, employed frequently to wrap up Orpheo, Euridice and some of the furniture. The costumes are varied, more or less modern with the addition of some Elizabethan ruffs for some, and one character is wearing a fake fur tunic and brown leggings, another a particoloured red nd yellow....ensemble. Euridice is draped in white chiffon (and a lot of sticky tape) to become a somewhat reluctant bride. I was not too happy about the symbolism here, methinks.

The music was pretty much ok, although it could have been a bit crisper, and I hated the way that the director had them portraying the opposite emotion to that suggested by the words (surtitles) much of the time.

We left - oh, I think I said that.

I do not belong to the school of thought that says that theatre should be fossilised. I am perfectly happy with a production using contemporary themes - I once saw one of the Shakespeare Henrys in a semi=modern interpretation with crowds of football supporters and a gang of squaddies, and it was great. But this was just gimmick for the sake of it, and it makes me angry, it insults the performers and it insults the audience.

Rant mode off.

In other news - went to guild this morning, very pleasant, sat and spindle spun and chatted for an hour or two and then came home, whereupon I fell asleep on the bed! Obviously, the stresses of the last few weeks haven't quite worked through.

I've done some more braiding, still enjoying it, may post photos later if anything comes out well enough. I need to practice a bit more, and then get some work sheets prepared for Friday. I also have two women coming for a spinning lesson on Thursday - alpaca owners. Need to prepare a bit for that as well. A busy week, it seems.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Off the hook?

Could it be that the end is in sight?

Yesterday, no workmen in the bathroom, which was a bit of a blow as I am definitely feeling the psychological need to be shower clean.

But this morning, they turned up bright and early, and zipped through what they deemed necessary to do like the proverbial white tornado. Unfortunately, the "white" part seemed only to refer to the 'orrible mess of grout and plaster that they left all over every surface...not to mention all the pink plaster dust in the shower tray itself....not to mention. Oh, bah, humbug!

And it was only after they had gone that I realised that they had not put back the grab handle in the shower, and had resited the actual shower head in a different place. The DSM has buggered off again - he may just have a hissy-fit when he gets back, but what could I have done, they were shouting goodbye as they fled down the stairs - I do so wonder why......

Having got that moan off my chest, the painters are great, pleasant, work like the devil is behind them and will be done by the end of the day (and so, dear readers, will I be.......)

So, how have I been occupying my time, then? For one thing, I have gone ruthlessly through my lifetime collection of recipes torn out of newspapers and magazines and discarded something like 99% of them. Each one has gone into the pile, and then rarely been disturbed since. They are gone - only the best survive. Four versions of Sticky Toffee Pudding, a Brown Bread ice cream that I haven't made in years, but do know to be wonderful, and several dishes involving polenta, who knows why - they must just have tasted good on reading. (I can do that, another of my weirder talents.)

But I have also been active in other directions. (Apologies for the photos, can't move in here to arrange prettily and I simply can't be arsed to crop them).

Braiding disc

I have never before managed to make anything approaching a halfway decent braid. then I saw this wooden disc with its own little stand - a miniature Marudai, i'faith! - and couldn't resist, particularly as my AH class wanted a session on braiding. All of a sudden, I sort of get it. My tension is awful (is there a hidden message there, eh?), but is slowly improving and best of all, I have actually been enjoying it. The one I am working on here is a flat braid, but I have done a round, and prefer it. I bought the Jacqui Carey book, Beginner's guide to Braiding which seems excellent. Just what I need, a new fibre interest.....

But I do not neglect spinning. Purely in the interests of providing lots of material for our class in the summer, you understand, this arrived in the post yesterday.


I had, to be honest, been a little doubtful as to how usable it might turn out to be, but it was a very pleasant surprise. Not only is it very nicely made and easy on the eye, but it spins really very well. I can imagine it being particularly useful if you want to spin in a fairly confined space, like on a train, in a car, even, or in your very own padded cell (giving yet another insight into the state of her mind.....)

It is a Spindolyn. My other new best friend? Who knows, but it all helps.

Monday, March 12, 2007

You can make it if you try

There are two men in the kitchen, plugging holes and doing general preparation-type stuff.

There are two men in the bathroom, seemingly creating chaos, but there are now tiles on the shower walls slowly appearing, and therefore a horrible noise from time to time as they cut through aforementioned with an electric gizmo of great power.

Clump, clump, clump on the stairs, clatter crash bang, ggrrriiiiinnding NOISE.

I am struggling to remember that there are good things in life like fibre, yarn, beads, spindles, etc.


The DSM leaves the building on his way to his first stress management session.

Oh, the irony.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Little by little

A number of things are happening.....

The DSM is making good progress. Not that he has ever been awful, after the first day or two, but suddenly he both looks and acts more like his old self.

The bathroom changeth (and then sticks again!) The shower panels were removed, tiles came off the wall and plastering took place. It then has taken days to dry out, but is nearly there, and we are assured that the thing will all be put back into operation on Monday.

Which is the day that the decorators start on the kitchen. But at least we did not have to cancel them again, and they can box and cox with one another for one day, surely?

By the end of next week, we might just have got rid of these particular uncertainties that seem to have been hanging over us for quite a few weeks. Huzzah.

Then. Long day out yesterday, which himself survived very well. I went beading with a friend (and some of her other friends.) I started this:

Netted cuff WIP

A lousy photo of one third of a three-bead netting cuff, but I have got going with beading again! And have plenty of ideas for other things, some of which are simple stringing projects, but pretty nonetheless. Wow, cor &etc.

Followed by this:

Mojave Polwarth

I have actually managed to come up with a few hours of real spinning time, and have started on the kilo of Rovings Mojave that I had smuggled in to my own stash. It is lovely, a real pleasure to spin. And, by the way, Francine has sent the new stuff for Woolfest so nice and early that it is already here and I am going to have to stop myself from hijacking some of that, too. Some lovely new colourways.

I have also continued to spindle spin the blue fluff and am halfway down the foot of a sock. So I am feeling much improved myself. Even after also fitting in a visit to my mother yesterday as well as everything else. Though I have to say she was considerably more cheerful than the last time we saw her, and I am glad for it. Perhaps now that Spring is springing a bit? Maybe?

Actually, it certainly is, all of a sudden there are daffodils out all over the place, and leaf buds on the trees and great warblings from the local birds. So maybe it is just our sap a'rising up, too. But wot the heck - fun anyway.

Tomorrow at some point I shall need to remove most of the loose stuff from the kitchen, but otherwise I intend to devote myself to pure pleasure for the rest of the weekend. Just don't let anyone try to stop me.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Shine a light

First - I have ripped my first attempt at a sock with my custom dyed yarn, it was coming out way too large and I am totally fed up with toe-up socks again. Because of the shape of my feet, I can't do the thing that most people like them for, namely try them on as a WIP - works for me better the other way around. And for the same reason, they simply don't suit my feet, I need a pointy toe to fit my pointy foot! (Yes, boggle your minds!)

OK, that is the sum total of fibre activity - well, nearly. A smidge more braid-practice, a tiny yardage of spinning. This is getting desperate.

On the other hand. We went to the flicks last night, to an excellent film that I will probably never want to see again. The Last King of Scotland. Despite being massively hyped, it was quite superb, the acting was magnificent. But it had you on the edge of your seat constantly, waiting for disaster to befall, and although the film-makers did not do any unnecessary dwelling on the horrors (neither IMHO did they shirk their responsibility thereto) it was pretty grim. Well worth seeing - the once.

Now, today's weather is quite appalling, strong winds and rain lashing down on to the windowpanes. Even the DSM has not gone out for his constitutional.

But last night when we came out of the cinema, the sky was perfectly clear and the total lunar eclipse had started. So, we drove up on to the moor, quite close to the University Observatory in fact (and we were not the only idiots so doing, I was quite glad to see.) It remained clear, and although the wind was bitingly cold we couldn't resist staying out of the car to watch until totality (and the onset of frostbite....) This does not, of course, have quite the same grandeur as a solar eclipse, but it was fascinating and beautiful. The shadow of the earth appears reddish across the face of the moon, and even when completely covered it looks like a remote ball hanging there in the sky. This was unexpected, as in the solar eclipse, it was exactly as if someone had cut out a hole in the sky to show the blackness of infinite nothing beneath. And of course, the other thing is how bright the stars then seem, after the light from the moon is gone. going up on to the moor reduces the light pollution somewhat - not much - so the stars look better anyway, but we could see things we wouldn't normally have noticed, like maybe a galaxy lurking "in" Orion, and different constellations.

We don't, him and me, know enough about astronomy, but we do, as they say, know what we like.

I couldn't find a picture of last night on the web, but this site is quite informative and has some images.

And to briefly return to fibre - in checking to see if the wonderful Brenda Dayne had another episode of her podcast up, I tripped over this entry on her blog. Scroll down aways, to "Milk Carton".....


Friday, March 02, 2007

Crosby, Shells, Nosh and............

No, I'm sorry, I just cannot do it. Complete the title with the DSM's suggestion, I mean. OK, so it made me roar with laughter at the time, but put that down to an abundance of sea air.

Run sequence.....



This link seems maybe a bit impermanent, but I'll give it a go anyway.....neither is it the menu we had, but never the less, it all tasted jolly good. Much as I google, I can't find a decent link for the Eagle and Child at Bispham, but if you want a good meal in an attractive, traditional-style (now gastro-) pub, then this one is pretty good!



I have been wanting to see the Gormley installation for ages, and thought I had missed my chance - it should have been moved by now. but seemingly, public pressure has at least extended it's stay at Crosby, and with a fine and sunny day showing up it made a good longish day out for the DSM to try his wings and a bit more driving.

Wow. Incredibly impressive. I had not taken on board how extensive it is - 100 statues over 3 km of shore, all staring out to sea. It reminded me very much of this.

We had a super day. Yes, quite tiring including as it did quite a hike along the beach and around a lagoon (saw tufties and a pair of goldeneye!) but very good. I did try to write this up that night, but had to store it as a draft and finish up later. So I will cut this fairly short for now and simply include a few more images.

And not a scrap of fibre in view.....