Sunday, 31 January 2010

Apogee Full Moon

Last night the moon was full, did you see it? Do you see it tonight? Doesn't it look big and beautiful?
The moon moves in an elliptical orbit and one side of the ellipse is closer to us than the other. When that coincides with the full moon we get what we see now.

I love the fact that it arrived in midwinter and with a break in the weather too - perfect moon-viewing weather for me and my telescope!

Saturday, 30 January 2010

When the link you used to follow disappeared, how did you react? I know you googled that first day, and found me by searching for "blogspot silme", but what did you think? What was your initial reaction? And now what? Why do you drop by every day? What do you see here that draws you back, again and again?

I am curious.

Decaf me.

I have been trying to figure out when I last saw a movie in a theatre, and I think it is over two years ago I did so in Sweden, meaning last time was in Honolulu.

Anyway, last night I actually did go to the movies. Alone, as is my habit. And for those that know me it is probably unsurprising that it was the Sherlock Holmes movie that drew me.

Not sure what I think though, I was amused but I wouldn't see it again.

And considering my insomnia this week, I used my caffeine-bandaids to stay awake during the film... it worked. I got all the way home before I crashed, not even snoozing off in the train. Lovely, lovely caffeine.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Herr Silme

Booked my plane tickets for going to Finland today. With my advancing age I have found time to become an issue and I am not up to spending many many hours in a ferry to go to my former home country, so flying it is.

In English-speaking countries I sortof accept that I have to fill in a title since titles are still used for politely addressing people you don't know - I don't like it but I accept it. And there's usually the possibility to choose a more generic title although it is still gender dependant and it makes me grit my teeth.

In Sweden (and for that sake Norway) titles feel archaic to put it mildly. Addressing someone as "Mr. Whatever" (or rather Herr...) would sound flippant at best were one to do it in a serious situation for instance with a customer.

Anyway, SAS gave me the option of choosing among the following: Herr, Fru, Frk.

Wtf.

So I chose Herr.

Hope security won't give me issues about it though... :D

Want, but need?

My desktop computer's hardware is six years old. Most of it, anyway - it got a new disk two years ago. It does strange things at times (completely disregarding the partially broken old disk I should discard). I am getting worried about it. I've been thinking a few simple upgrades might do the trick but I am more and more worried that something big will break, like the motherboard or the processor. Ideally it would stay alive for another four years, since ten years active use would be nice. But dunno if it will. Also, there is the thing that the chassi takes SPACE. Thus it is now sitting in a corner with alot of extension cables to things like the monitor etc. Not an ideal solution either.

Kinda want to replace it with an itsy bitsy tiny thing that can sit discretly on top of my bookshelf.

My laptop is four years old and rather ..unstable. Also it is big and lumpy and I never bring it anywhere for that reason. I think that will die first. And I would like to have the replacement on hand before it does. Being without it for even a few days is unthinkable.

I see money leaving my account, that I shouldn't spend :(

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Online Oniochalasia

I accidentally ordered something again.

To be honest, I am sorta looking forward until the next time I am so ill I can honestly say I am better off NOT going the, uhm.. 50? 100? meters down to the local grocery shop, because then I am gonna order my groceries online. The cost of delivery is just high enough that it isn't worth it unless I am buying ALOT (and I mean ALOT) of heavy stuff (flour, juice, milk, etc), or am so ill I shouldn't leave the flat. But am I looking forwards to it! Buying my GROCERIES ONLINE and having them DELIVERED TO MY DOOR! Pure bliss.

I love the web. The web brings me shopping without having to go in actual shops and deal with pesky people.

A few weeks back I had a book package I went to pick up (had to order the 5th and 6th Maisie Dobbs books online to get hold of them) and the guy at the place I get my post said "oh, where have you been, it's been aaaages!" when he saw me. Ahem. To be honest I try to order less because it is becoming embarrassing. Or maybe I should make places send the packages poste restante to other places, different places every time. Huh. Anyway I (for once) came up with a good reply WHILE I WAS STILL THERE, not ten minutes later, so I told him I had figured they had so much to do over Christmas that I wanted to give them a break.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Strategic Mistakes

I am very allergic to tomatoes. I get all sorts of reactions - extremely upset stomach, itchy skin, swelling throat. It is bad for me. Period. Unfortunately I tend to like tomato food like pasta sauces and other goodies. Still, no go, it isn't worth it when I get ill - the discomfort is bad enough that even I am convinced. For this reason I have avoided sun-dried tomatoes completely, seeing them as some sort of Concentrated Evil (and besides I am not THAT fond of fresh tomatoes, just cooked ones, so I probably wouldn't like them anyway).

Lately I have been going through one of my Need To Try New Stuff periods. It means I am learning to eat olives, among other things. That is, black olives, the green ones are still disgusting and I won't touch them. Expanding my range of taste, so to say.

One evening last week I looked at a sliver of sun-dried tomato in my sallad and instead of putting it aside, like I had done with all the previous slivers I had fished out of it, I put it in my mouth. Afterall, gotta try new stuff.

Now. Problem.

I REALLY LIKED IT!

:(

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Pattern Pirate

I am a pattern pirate. I copy other's patterns by eye, recreating them on paper, instead of buying. Does that make me a bad person? :/

Dystopic Dreams: High Tide

I think we are walking north.

Or what was once called north, what it is now I do not know. I have my reasons for believing so, and I try to teach them to the younger members of the group, but they have a hard time understanding my concern with such archaic terms as north and south. Maybe they are right, maybe it no longer matters when not even the Sun knows where to rise anymore. Still, I tell them, about how the trees in this part of the world would get a thicker bark on the north side to protect them against the cold winter wind. How anthills would always be on the same side of trees and rocks for the same reason. And while I talk about the world I knew when I grew up, decades ago, we walk, steadily northwards (or so I believe).

---

During the past days' walk the dry landscape has taken on what I think of as a more coastal aspect. I cannot pinpoint exactly what it is, a combination of the plants, the way the landscape slopes, its very rockyness. I know what will meet us when we reach what was once the coast, and so does the others, but we still continue, hoping against hope that it will be different this time, that the ocean will have returned.

Early in the afternoon the horizon widens in glimpses and then suddenly we are on a cliff top, looking out across an immense desert broken by rocks and hollows – a former sea floor now dry and cracked. We silently look out across it, and without speaking we seem to agree to take a break, some sitting down, others unharnessing the horses to let them graze for an hour or so. We carry very little with us, yet it is a relief to put down our packs.

As we have walked we have left behind everything not vital, and our requirements on our belongings are high. Equipment need to be light and sturdy. Even with the horses pulling the wagon, we cannot bring much with us. The wagon is reserved for foodstuffs we gather along the way along with the water bottles we fill whenever we find a source of fresh water, and on our backs we carry what supplies we find essential for our own sake along with some items that belong to the group as a whole. I carry a collapsible spade strapped to my worn backpack. Simon has an axe, it is heavier than my spade and I don't envy him although it is also a weapon.

I think most of us are armed. I know I am. Along with my staff I have a large hunting knife strapped to the piece of rope that does duty as a belt. I also have three more blades hidden under my clothes. I am not sure how well they are hidden and how many knows about them, the way I know that Linda has a handgun in the longhandled bag she carries across her body. She never shows it to anyone, but she sometimes touches the bag as if to reassure herself that it is still there. I don't know if she has any ammunition for it. I don't know if it matters, if someone is pointing a gun at you the likelihood that you will start second-guessing whether it can fire or not is not high. It takes a special sort of person to do that and we are not it, at least.

We used to practice fighting with staves, figuring if we could defend ourself with a readily available weapon we would be better off. The day Kay took a crack on the skull practice ended permanently. I still practice swinging and twirling it, sometimes taking a few cracks at a bush or an innocent tree, but I am not sure how much use it will be in a real situation. Running is our best defense.

---

A bit up the coast there is an old and not quite abandoned fishing village (nowadays without the fishing). We know we might not be welcome but we head there anyway, to ask for news and maybe barter. This village turns out to be one of the good stops - they don't mind us coming; noone is shouting for us to move along and go back where we came from, or pointing shotguns at us. Instead we are generously offered the use of some uninhabited cottages, provided we break nothing, create no trouble, eat our own foodstuffs, and that we provide help with carrying stone for a drywall being built to fence in a field for their sheep. Reasonable enough demands and after a quick council we decide to stay for a few days in the village at the edge of the dry ocean floor.

The next day the horses and I help ferry stones up the hill to where the drywall is being built. It is hard work, and I cannot but help notice that we travellers with our hunter-gatherer lifestyle seem to be in much better overall shape than the villagers. Working alongside them I ask questions about how they live and they are happy enough to tell me.

They tell me how they are only fifty-some people left in the village which used to be ten times the size with the outlying crofts, how they cannot spare the fresh water they have for crops and how they pick the land around them clean. How they got scurvy in the winter, living off meat and fish. The old men tell me how their language is losing words, how words like "dreich" and "smirr" no longer mean anything to the children who have never seen such weather. They laugh as I frown at their unfamiliar dialect. They tell me that once this village used to be the home of a brewery, making the best beer and whisky, but without grain the traditional golden spirits are gone. Nowadays they brew a kind of mead out of what the countryside offers and wild honey.

Later they tell me about the sea floor with its rugged landscape of old rocks and reefs, about how they used to go there to gather sea weed, crabs and mussles living in the tidal ponds left on it. But as their world dried out they had to go farther and farther out, and nowadays they don't find it safe to venture that far. The tide sometimes still comes in, all the way from the
continental shelf out in the North Sea one grizzled old sailor suggests, and being caught on the ocean floor in an incoming tide is death. They lost several people to that fate. They point out the tide watch on a high cliff, children taking turns throughout the day keeping a lookout for the water. The past month the tide has come in twice, leaving new tidal ponds closer to home where the villagers can forage.

---

Our group now consist of 34 people, including three toddlers, and we have for the time being settled in three cottages in an abandoned street in the village. I bask in the luxury of going to bed in a real bed with a soft matress instead of in a hammock or on the ground, but in the morning I feel stiff and my back aches.

We barter with the villagers, their sheep means they have wool and luckily some to spare. We get sheepskin and undyed wool yarn as well as some old sheets in exchange for herbs and dried vegetables. We are unhappy to part with the food but we need to mend our clothes before they fall off our backs completely. A different group goes out to help with the wall bordering the sheep field today and I am not among them, instead spending the day looking after my gear and trying to patch together my boots. I have walked barefoot since the end of winter, but eventually it will get colder again and I will regret not having footwear even though the soles of my feet are as tough as the boot leather by now.

That afternoon a fog horns blows an alarm over the village and we all run out in the streets. The locals are running towards the waterfront, carrying various fishing implements and we trail after them, wondering at the tense but happy mood. At the docks the boats sitting tilted on the dry sea floor are now being manned by fisherfolk.

The tide is coming in and the former fishing village will again be a fishing village for a few hours - provided the tide comes far enough in. It mostly does, the smiling people assure us. Tonight there will be a fish dinner which they will share with us provided the catch is good enough.

---

We are walking what was once southwards.

In the evenings we discuss where to go. Several of us believe we should cross the Channel again, that the continental mountains might be acting as a cloud catcher providing rain and steady supply of fresh water.

Back when we first crossed the channel it was a fellfield, pioneer plants having settled in the soil left behind by the water as it retreated, even young trees growing in sheltered spots. Now we have seen the force with wich the tide comes in from its unaturally long and far low tide point, and we worry about repeating the crossing. Still, we will walk south, and seek an inhabited fishing village there to ask advice on the tidal patterns.

Our next goal now settled, we walk on.

Friday, 22 January 2010

The Perfect Snowflake

Tuesday morning there was a flurry of snow as I walked to the metro. When I looked at my mittens they were all perfect snowflakes, you could see the structure. I was just looking and looking while waiting for my train. Nine while nine I'm waiting.

Wednesday evening I got a minor anxiety attack when I realised that thursday I was meeting a bunch of Scary Strangers in a Scary Place. Of course it wasn't scary at all when I came there and found them, and there was even a few known faces from last meetup, as well as from the interwebs. Lovely lovely people. Thanks for a great night!

Today I slept in with all of 30 minutes or so, woke up at 0530. Slow morning, eating sandwiches with orange marmalade and Norwegian cheese and drinking coffee and a big glass of water. I love having better time in the mornings, that we can sometimes work flexible hours and come in a bit later. Hanging around at home 30 minutes extra, writing a bit, or reading for a few minutes. Settles me and makes me in a good mood before the day to come.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Maisie Dobbs

I am onto the fifth Maisie Dobbs book (author Jacqueline Winspear) - the first one had me crying through large parts of the book, the second and onwards have luckily been less emotionally exhausting and more of a completely addictive series to read. I started reading NYE and I have had to hunt down more books in the few weeks since that.

The first one (just called "Maisie Dobbs") I would recommend no matter if you like sleuthing stories or not, because it is a genre crossover and the detective story is a minor part in this first book. Lovely read, go get it!

PS: It is translated to Swedish, Mum. You can read it too.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Writer Emerges

The rough draft of DD: High Tide is done and I of course want to post it at once. Going to re-read it in a few days, I know some of the wordings are off.

I feel that the narrator voice has changed from the Mirror Lake (the introduction) to The Empty Spaces, but perhaps it is not a bad thing, seeing as the first text was rather stylized and enigmatic. I am still moving within the boundaries of the original text (somewhat expanded upon, and irrelevant dream things cut away), and will be with the next text too, but after that I have to start thinking more seriously of where I am heading with this. (High Tide is actually not a part of the original subject, but a linking text to give more background.)

I added links to the texts in the margin, so it will be easier to backtrack.

And for you that don't know what happened: The Mirror Lake which was written an early Thursday morning, summarising a dream I had that night (after being out with the GWU girls the night before, actually), made people ask for more and since I had alot more that I sliced out of the original short text, I complied.

Going to need help and feedback though!

I thought I had shelved writing more or less permanently after enjoying writing very much in my teens, and filling book after book with stories. The stories have remained with me but putting them down in text has not, although I spend hours every day thinking out what happens, dialogue, finding the perfect words. So this is a rough awakening of a sleeping skill which was never properly honed at all. I find I quite enjoy it though.

I have chosen to write in English seeing as 1) it is the language with which I am most comfortable expressing myself 2) I would lose readers by using Norwegian or Swedish 3) it seems to me to be the most flexible of the three languages (or again, maybe it is just a question of control).

Dystopic Dreams: The Mirror Lake

From my sketchbook.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

I think stories are best when they are written just before dawn. At least stories written by me. The one below was not written before dawn but in what little daylight exists in mid-January in Sweden. I am not sure about it. What do you think?

Dystopic Dreams: The Empty Spaces

The countryside we have been walking through for the past week has become increasingly densely once-populated, the people and livestock now gone but the houses they lived in remaining. At a distance they look deceptively normal, as if people would still live there and tend them. Upon closer inspection the windows are gaping and wildlife has moved in, paint is flaking and a shutter or loose board might be slamming in the wind.

Today is almost completely windless, a heavy oppressive feeling to the air, making it difficult to breathe, our lungs labouring although the air is relatively cool after the scorching heat of the past moons. Those among us who remember most of the education we received as children, Before, mutter uneasily among us at the air quality. We shudder to think what exactly is in the air to make our lungs cramp in this way.

We have to move on.

While walking I daydream, seeing in my mind people from the books and stories of Before. Men wearing suits and ties (how ridiculous it would seem in this reality!) investigating unnamed crimes. I enjoy those daydreams the most, a world where killing, stealing, harming others was not allowed and sent the Good Guys hunting down the Bad Guys. Now there are no Good Guys, just Bad Guys and Scared Guys. I imagine myself as a Good Guy, bringing safety to people.

A sudden noise behind a hedge makes me start and brings me back to dusty road along which we are walking. My image of myself as a hero fades quickly as I recall that I am really quite afraid, in fact I dare not investigate even a snapping twig alone. Recklessly Simon does and parts the hedge to look. Nothing is to be seen in the weedy garden beyond, and as one we increase our pace to get farther away before dark.

---

I think we are somewhere in what was once the English countryside, but I am not sure. We have walked for so long. The houses look decidedly un-British, with steep gables and long eaves, more like something to be found in the Alps. No mountain in sight however, and my internal navigator insists that the southern part of Britain would be about right. I usually trust that instinct, I have to - we have no sure way of knowing where we are. None of us can read the stars very well and the sun seems to rise and set at different angles every moon. I had a compass early on, but when it started spinning slowly, like the arm counting the seconds in an old clock, it was deemed bad luck and Kay, superstitious Kay, threw it into a river.

That was almost two years ago, and it is a long time since we saw anything deserving the name river - a muddy stream is the best we can hope for and is cause for celebration. We desperately need a good source of clean water. It is exactly 47 days since it rained according to the notches on my walking staff. We all notch sticks and staves, to keep count of the time seems irrationally important, a sense of order imposed on our existance.

Last winter it rained almost continuously for three moons, a steady drizzle so acid your scalp would start itching and burning after ten minutes out in it. The plants whose sap eases acid burn are now among the things we continuously look for while walking.

---

That night we break into a large and relatively unharmed house, and prepare to settle there for some days, while gathering what edible plants we can find in the area. The house is empty of useful items, but it provides walls that will protect against some of the night chill and, hopefully, against the all too real human predators out there.

We hang our net hammocks in tiers in a high ceilinged room with a fireplace, we think it was once a sitting room. Some dusty fabric found in a closet provides some privacy around individual hammocks, as well as keeping drafts out and heat in. As I finish placing my meagre belongings in the corner, I notice Eric hanging a small sign on a hammock set in the best place in the room, close to the fireplace. Annoyance burns at me, that he doesn't trust us not to take the place he secured but needs to set up a name sign. Then I see the name on the sign and my heart sinks as I notice that two other hammocks hold their own name signs.

Mona.
Nelly.
Maya.

"Eric." I touch his arm. "Eric, please. They aren't coming back. They are gone."

My soft voice still carries in the silent room and others look up. Eric seems to be the only one not hearing me, nor does he seem to feel my touch on his arm. I could as well be talking to a wall and I have to clamp my teeth together to not start screaming at him.

Kay pulls me wordlessly away.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Give-away knitwear...

I knit too much for myself to use, and the result is a stack of mittens and hats I do not use. I am willing to give it away - Want anything? Post a motivation in the comments of why exactly you should have the item of your desire (and which item struck your fancy). Anonymous comments are disregarded.

The entrelac hat is now finished and up for grabs if you Add Imagewant it. Acrylic yarn not wool so less scratchy. Made to fit a thick-skulled person (like me).




Here is another hat in the same yarn but not entrelac and a different colour.

These mittens are also available. They are wool, slimfit (ladies size in other words), and unlined, so best suitable for temperatures between -2 and 5c and not too windy conditions. If you ask really nicely I will consider lining them in velvet for you though, which will make them alot warmer. They look a bit twisted without hands in them but on they look nice.

I am almost done with a neckwarmer/tubular scarf (note that it is not a regular scarf but a circle that will wrap twice around your neck) in the same purple hue, wool. However I broke my pins so I have to buy new ones to finish it, thus some waiting time unfortunately. Should take me a day or so once I get the pins though. Here is a photo of the unfinished product draped over my arm like a minute ago.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sunday, 10 January 2010

#tolkien-meets

The IRC-channel #Tolkien on IRCnet has met several times.
Myself I have attended Nrkpg november 2000 (hosting with Spid and Inz), Nrkpg Halloween 2001 (hosting with Spid and Inz), Pori may 2002 (co-hostess with Beledra), Oulu june 2002 (I hitchhiked from Helsinki and up north, and back south again), and Tampere Midsummer 2003, as well as one in Helsinki/Vantaa I believe was in 2003 (there was snow) and one in Helsinki-Espoo sometime in the early 2000's. I have of course missed just as many or more. There was also a housewarming party in Nrkpg 2004 which was dominated by #tolkieneers.

Today I have found photos from the four first mentioned, and oh what a laugh. We were all so young, and such silly photoes, and the HAIR! Anyway, now they are shared with the FB-group - yes, we have moved into modern media though a bunch of us oldies still use IRC. Will this winter/spring bring a new meet? Hope so! I want to go :)

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Usefulness

I packed away the X-mas ornaments, and by careful repacking of the box' content I managed to fit it all back in with space left over. I found a number of sea shells in there, though. Logical! (I haven't the faintest idea why they are there or how they came there, no.)

I have wanted a real drawing table with a transparent light up surface for quite some years. I almost bought one recently, but I have a large (and in honesty perfectly good) desk which I would have needed to get out of here to make space for a drawing table. As I don't have anything deskbound like computers on the desk, it wouldn't have mattered, but the practical issues are immense. Getting it down and into the storage, and will it even fit once we get it down into the bomb room?

I wound up with a budget DIY solution: Two of these from ikea with a glass pane stuck in between them and a cheap spotlight stuck to the desks edge lighting it up from behind. Total cost: Less than 200 SEK (the desk-y things were on sale). And I can pack it up and store it away if I want the surface to become flat again. The threshold for larger drawing projects now dropped radically.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Viewmaster

I remember having one of these as a kid - wonder what happened to them, and to the disks. Probably broke them :/

Thanks, Kit, for reminding me!

Careful what you say

Today I was reminded about what I had said in August/September. Oops. Does this make it my fault?

Apparently (and I recall it when reminded) I said that this winter will be colder than the past few years and we will see more snow than I have seen since I moved to Stockholm.

WAS I RIGHT OR WAS I RIGHT?

Meh. Wish I hadn't been though.

New Year Resolutions

I never have new year resolutions. They are silly, you can start new stuff any time and you'll just break them anyway.

However, this year I spontaneously got a new year resolution on the morning the 1st. I will start writing morning pages. At least one page every morning with my morning tea.

The reasons are multiple. The past year has seen me returning more to creating writing (and writing in general!) which is good. Need to get my hand back. Also, while I write alot here, there are things I should write down for my own sake which aren't necessarily meant for the public eye. And lastly, I accidentally bought a diary type notebook on a sale, might as well use it!

Another new thing I am learning: To knit the other way. With opposite hands. Mirroring my normal knitting. The reason? So I won't have to turn my work and purl when knitting stockinette that's not in the round. Lazy? Yes, certainly. However I also believe it will speed up my knitting when I get the hang of it, and it certainly isn't difficult. The hardest part at the moment is getting the right firmness (or looseness) on the knitting.