Sunday, August 5, 2007

Baa (or: new blog home!)

I've decided to my blog to a WordPress account. From now on you can find me at:
http://sinensis.wordpress.com/

(The name comes from Camellia sinensis, which is the tea plant.)

In other news, the offline move continues. I sit surrounded by cardboard boxes and bits of random things that haven't found their boxy homes yet. It's now in the game of "what won't I need/can I get away without for the next week." I totally tried to bargain for packing all the dishes except two bowls and two plates.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Uprooting

(Sun hides behind the trees in Churchill Park.)

In the process of moving and packing and getting through the things that need doing, I've been a pretty transient person over the last couple of weeks. Most of my stuff is still in the apartment I'm moving out of, my clothes and a few handy-access items are at the place where I'm house sitting, and other things are gradually getting packed up and moved to holding areas. Little things start falling through the cracks. (Where did that hairclip go? Did I lose my other flash drive? Where's my change purse, I knew I had it yesterday afternoon when I paid for that parking meter... And why can't I find enough socks?)


Going back and forth between TO and Hamilton did give me a fun chance last weekend to revisit some hiking trails we used to walk all over as kids and teenagers. Catching up with my grad friend S, we started in Churchill Park and took a good walk down to Princess Point. The weather was perfect, we caught some nice views, and caught up on department goings-on. Somehow grad student stuff is a lot easier to commiserate on, when you can do it in that kind of space.



My supervisor's doing some uprooting of his own after retirement. This week my job as RA was to clear the remaining books out of his office, but not before the grads had a chance to take their pick of the litter. The rest is now packed in boxes, waiting to be shipped off to the bookstore to find a new lease on their book-ly lives. Me and my shoulders will be doing some stretching in the meantime.

And hey, look, I did some knitting too.

That's one Smart Capitals sock and the toe of the second (awww. lookit da little toe!) ready to get started. I came to Lettuce Knit night again this week and finished the first. Since I fear Second Sock Syndrome with a mighty and powerful dread, I had to start the second one then and there. Because I was not foresighted enough to photocopy the cast-on instructions this involved having to remember and reverse engineer a provisional cast-on for the toe. It may have involved some gibbering and weeping. Then Em sorted out my really lousy crochet enough to rip back the live stitches and all was well.

Also thanks to Dr. Steph for this handy toe-up tip: when figuring out the length for the leg, go as far as it will take to match the length of the foot when folded over at the heel. This one worked out poifectly.


Last is the hourglass pullover which would be going along gangbusters if I'd only just sit down and knit the sucker. Body, one sleeve, and the second one started. It's knitting up great, and I can't wait to block it and wear it. I might even have enough worsted-weight in the stash to get a second one out, here's hoping. (Oh, and that other thing? A £2 Rosetta stone pencil case souvenir from the British Museum. It's the perfect size for knitting accessories. If I'd bought nothing else on the whole trip, that tiny little souvenir would have still made this knitter happy.)

Oh my. Is that the time?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

This just in!

...I am a little behind. On knitting, on the Intarwebs, on everything.

To wit, in the last month, I have knit:
(a) almost to the end of one Smart Capitals sock
(b) a body and half a sleeve of an hourglass pullover (stockinette country is your friend)
(c) one row of Icarus.

And for this great accomplishment, Glenna has gifted me with a Rockin' Girl Blogger award! Well shucks. Now I'll have to do things like get out the Rockin'-o-Meter to check each post for Rockin'-ness and make sure I don't fall behind. Thanks man!



Sure, the rest of the world could have taken that same month and done a Mystery Stole or a whole Icarus or three Bohuses (Bohi?), but over here, we go for the meditative approach. Really savour every stitch. Or at least that's the official story. Really, I'm just beginning the long slow painful like water-torture process of moving, as well as house-sitting til the end of August, so my goods and knitting habits are in disarray.

Technology around also seems to have upheaved itself on me. Starting with a fun little adventure in which I tottled off to a store which shall not be named to protect the guilty *cough*BestBuy*cough* for a wee little wireless card and a wee little chip of extra memory. The high point was when the RAM was so defective and/or incompatible that it started to mimic full computer death! So fun! Luckily it survived a full system restore, to wipe the drive and hopefully improve performance, but my data is all still on the backup drives. As are fun piccies. We'll see if we can't get those up and running for the next post.

As of yesterday I am the owner of my Very First Cell Phone. It even takes pictures. (I mentioned I'm slow, right?) A camera and a phone all in one? Who can live at this speed?


I tested it out last night at Lettuce Knit, where I tagged along with Glenna for some quality time with the socks and some visiting with the exciting folks there. That's her with Aven's little guy, already a yarn hound in the making. He's fun to hang out with. And likes to eat yarn labels.

And just to make this post extra incestuous, I have to give a shout-out since G's finally posted the pattern for the Brennan cardi. It looks super. Good luck to everyone who wants to give it a try. Stay strong through the diagonal rib and all that seaming. It's a dream when it's done.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Athens of the North

Hopping a train from Aberdeen, I set out for two nights in Edinburgh. This was the most open-ended part of the trip since I was on my own and, other than knowing where I was staying and what my guide told me were the major landmarks were, I was on my own.

I think I'm not alone in having Waverley train station as my first glimpse into the city. It covers the full city block between two bridges. Exiting on to Princes Street, I decided after fifteen minutes of Not Finding The Right Bus to get to the B&B, to hop a cab. My luggage did not complain and neither did my back. (My wallet might have.)


I arrived with a few hours of afternoon still to take advantage of, and found to my surprise that the town of Roslin was on the same bus route that went right past my B&B. Da Vinci Code mythology notwithstanding, I couldn't pass that up.


Roslin itself is teeny and ordinary and now just happens to get swarmed with busloads of tourists every day. It was an odd feeling to be chugging along with the crowd ("eh, they're all going to the chapel", said a local as he watched half the bus empty out"), but the ride there made for some pretty amazing countryside sights.
This is the view from the chapel parking lot (reverent, no?):

I found that compared with the 10 pounds at Westminster, I was much happier to pay 6 pounds admission to the tiny chapel, because it's clearly in need of restoration and must be just sagging under the weight of tourists. Scaffolding and a protective roof buttress the outside.


To see inside is somewhat humbling. Once you're in, there you are: no transcepts or aisles, just the church and a pretty unbelievable work of masonry. Each window has a story in it, carved into gargoyles and mini-friezes and ledges. I only took a few photos. It felt like trespassing, to overdo it. There's a much different feeling from St. Paul's and Westminster. Westminster especially is grand and extravagant and made for show: Rosslyn's intimate.

The rest of my time was spent mostly in Old Town and Princes Street, where most of the nice walking and older sights are. The streets are hilly and full of cobblestones, and spooky little closes where I imagined a lot of Dickensian trysts and muggings taking place.


Along the Royal Mile you can find approximately 4,793 stores that will sell you Rock Candy, shortbread, tartan blankets for 10 pounds (oh, if I'd had room in my luggage), kilts, sweaters, or even swords. My first night I had fish & chips with mushy peas (very practical! keeps them from rolling off your fork) at a pub near St. Giles Kirk. My second day, I walked around Canongate Kirk and its collection of tombstones and mausoleums.

Then, I made my way down to Holyrood Park and developed a death wish by climbing the hill. But ooh, you get a pretty nice view in the end. (More clouds. Blue sky. Happy.)



Staggering back, I had an hour and a half before the National Gallery closed, and had a fabulous time with the paintings (including an awesome tableaux of Achilles mourning Patroclus that I wish they'd had on a card). A great find was a little statue of Antoine Lavoisier in a nice down on the end. (I patted his toe. Thanks, man.)


Finishing up, I found an ice cream in the park, waved to the castle, and walked in the direction of the B&B until I found a Marks & Spencer. Loading up for dinner and pack lunch for the next day, I had an early night in. Again I saw plenty but, again, there's more for next time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Silver City

On Monday night I finally flew in (boy, are my arms tired) from the UK, after a second week of traveling. It's good to be back among the familiar. There's still plenty of trip diaries to post, which I didn't want to post en route because there was no way to get pictures off the camera, and a post without a pic is like a cone without ice cream. (Or a cone without a stick of Flake chocolate. Mmm, ice cream.)

From London I made my way to Scotland, to meet up with a friend for a few days. By this time London had grown rainy, and so was Aberdeen. Our pilot informed us though that, happily, we'd have some brightness at 30,000ft of cruising altitude before "descending into the murk" again.


The plane was a tiny jet (pre-boarding announcement went something to the effect of "Ladies and gentlemen, we'll be travelling today on the smallest plane in existence, so upon boarding any hand luggage larger than a small handbag will be chucked over the side."), so my seat was both an aisle and a window. Score. Plenty of elbow room to keep working on Smart Capitals #1 (with a Roast Chicken & mayo sandwich from Costa. I thought the one from Boots is nicer).

Upon arrival I was excited to meet up with Laura and get on with 2 days of just plain relaxing and hanging out. The weather cooperated as far as giving us lots of grey and rain to drive us inside, but we managed a good afternoon of sightseeing Aberdeen. Like the Mercat cross, in town:


The guidebooks call Aberdeen the Silver City, or Granite City, because so many of the buildings are made of granite. (Laura also informs me this means Aberdonians are exposed to more radioactivity than your average nuclear power plant employee.) So this gives it two options: (a) grey, grey, OMG grey, and more grey, or (b) a sparkling paradise alight with the glow of a million fragments of mica. Honestly, it was an interesting change from the London sights, and really a distinct city-scape.


Among the more distinct was Marischal College, all cool and spiky:


And Provost Skeine's house, a historical site that also hosts rotating exhibits about the city and Scottish history.


And even William Wallace knows how to preen for the camera:


Over two nights that could easiy have been stretched to more, we hunkered in like the silly fangirls we are and had a blast. Along the way the hourglass pullover grew all the way to the armholes, and part of a sleeve. (Pics of that still to come.)

And just as I had to leave, the sun started to come out. Boo. Which means there's always more, for next time.