Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Left

Left.

Left is a strange thing. If people tell me to go to a direction or w/e I am likely to pick the wrong one. “The other left!” they'll shout at me.

When I was in the US this winter, I was behaving more left-handedly than I have in decades. Gripping tools with my left hand, balancing my body when shooting as if I was using my left hand, etc. Why?

My left side is broken, by the way. Ankle (muscles and tissue stretched and damaged). Knee (arthritis). Lung (still filled with phlegm after the pneumonia). Hand/wrist (no longer able to obey the finer instructions I send it). Eye (-2.25 + some astigmatism). Ear (buzzes, and cannot use in-ear earphones or any kind of earplugs - they will either pop right out again or hurt or both). Eyebrow (nerve damaged, so it doesn't move properly). The right side is fine.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Cure

1 sliced orange
1/2 sliced lemon (although using 1 is possible if you like)
a chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

Put in a pot. Cover with water. Boil for several minutes.
Pour the water into a cup.
Add honey according to taste.

Optional: Some liquor, preferably whisky or cognac.


Edit: The point of this is the ginger. The citrus is there for the sake of your tastebuds, which presumably are not used to a strong homemade ginger brew. 


Saturday, 25 February 2012

North Carolina, Day 1

Sunday Jan 29.: Catty Sunday

Having found Wayne, or been found by Wayne, saturday afternoon EST, I was taken back to their house where I got to meet two dogs and four cats and Patty. I was rather weary, and after I had cleaned away some travel grime they took me out for dinner. The most notable event was that they wanted to see my ID to serve me beer (more funny than anything else. I didn't have my passport with me, but our general amusement seemed to convince the waitress).

Sunday we went off to Carolina Tiger Rescue, where Wayne and Patty used to volunteer.




Where is my banana! 










Graveyard

Dining table

I went through several frustrating months of anxious hunting for a dining table last fall, before I finally, by chance (I was venting my frustration at a salesman in a shop that was closing) found the perfect table - custom made for me. The size I wanted, and without the modern "squareness" (thick square legs and thick square edges) that I didn't like. Slightly slimmer, in oiled oak, it has been sitting wrapped and legless in my hallway since the end of january.

Today I finally got around to evicting the old ugly ikea-"wood" table (now hiding in the balcony until I can get rid of it), and getting the new into place. Also rolled out the rug which has been waiting for the table for months. Two chairs are still in bits and pieces but they will be in place later today.

New, and rather grey, kitchen/dining area (the chairs have grey fabric covered seats).
Unfortunately it matches the weather today...


Monday, 20 February 2012

Silence

Tonight I received news that a friend died after getting caught in an avalanche in Austria yesterday. He was a fantastic person, among those that pulled me out of my blackest moment a decade ago, and a very talented man, musically, but also it seemed at times, at anything he decided he wanted to do.

Jaakko, we rarely spoke these days, but you will be greatly missed, not just by me, but by many.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Guest Blogger: Wayne

Saturday, Jan 28.: Waiting for Silme

OK, it is 28 January 2012 and it is 5:45 pm and I am waiting at the arriving passenger area where I always wait for Erik. Planeload after planeload of people keeps arriving. I keep checking the board for arrivals and departures and it suddenly jumps from “On Time” to “Arrived”. I wait through two more piles of people and no Silme. Finally I ask someone at a ticket counter. International flights arrive at an obscure spot buried behind the luggage carousels. OK, I am supposed to know this? I run down there and arrive at a weird seating area with some very tall, very secure doors and wait with a lot of other people who look as “anticipatory” as I look . . . I guess. Me? I am about to jump out of my skin with excitement. All the years of looking and pushing (yes I have pushed at times since 1982) focuses on this one event: The arrival of the first cousin in our family from Norway to visit our family in the USA since 1886.


So, who is counting? Me. I waited and watched as the doors opened like a Transporter from the set of Star Trek and person after person “materialized” through those doors. Would I recognize her? Would she recognize me? How do I greet her? Do I hug her? Shake her hand? Turns out she likes to sit in the plane until the last passenger has deplaned. Then she makes her entrance. Thanks Silme.




It turned out to be so easy. She was grinning at me because I had missed her arrival. She was all the way down the ramp (20 feet from me) while I was talking to a guy who recognized my tee shirt with “woodturning” on it. He was, it turned out, taking a class from our teachers when we learned woodturning. How did I recognize her? She had the same silly grin on her face that I did. I got my hug and then awkwardly asked Silme to let me say one more thing to a fellow woodturner. Then, taking her suitcase I proudly led her to the car and took her home to my family (my wife Patty and two dogs and four cats).

We were off on a four-day adventure of showing her our home, our hometown, our friends, our favorite place to eat (Gulf Rim in Hillsborough, NC), my tiger friends Rajah and Kaela (Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro, NC), and our woodturning “hobby”. Sadly, we had to hand her off to another friend in Charlotte for her trip to Florida for more friends. Eventually she would wind up experiencing my son Erik’s adventure in southwest Texas in his 1959 Ford Ranch Wagon and 1951 Kozy Coach Trailer. We did not want to let her leave. This will happen again.

Anticipation in the Air

Saturday, Jan. 28th: In the Air.

Time is passing. Silme is sleeping with a blanket halfway pulled over her. In a few hours her plane will leave.


Hah! You thought I would oversleep didn't you? So it seems, did everyone online that night who followed my accidents.

At 02.55 I opened my eyes, checked the time, got out of bed and turned off the alarms. None of them had yet sounded, and wouldn't have until 10-20 minutes later (depending on which alarm). I was tired but lucid. The nap had done me good. Dropping the last items into my bag, I got ready to leave and was about to head out the door when I realised it was at least 25 minutes until the car would come to pick me up. Back to the sofa and impatiently waiting.

Around 05.00 I was at the airport, bag left at the check-in counter (I hoped it would show up when I arrived at the airport on the other side of the ocean). I discovered that most restaurants were in one end of the terminal and the gate my flight was leaving from in the other end. Breakfast and coffee needed anyway.

Some time later I was seated in my window seat on the plane. Noone was in the middle seat yet, and I kept my fingers crossed. I felt like I was taking up too much space and that the poor person placed there would be squeezed. No such luck. The guy who turned up and sat down in that seat was fat enough to make the arm rests bulge. It hurt. I decided to keep my mouth shut and smile politely if he could buckle his seat belt - this was after all the short flight. Inwardly I prayed for better luck on the longer 9h flight from London-Heathrow to Raleigh-Durham.

Wish granted! After some hours spent at Heathrow, where I to my later regret did NOT buy jellybeans, I had passed through multiple layers of security. They all spoke so softly I couldn't hear them properly. My flight turned out to be half empty and everybody had two seats to themselves. I was still high on excitement at finally being underway, and didn't sleep much on any of the flights. I got a short nap, I think on the first of the two flights, but after that I was awake and bouncing. I entertained myself by taking photos of clouds, and eventually the ground along the US east coast, until the captain told us to shut down all electronic equipment, raise our seat backs, and buckle up. Almost there!

As is often the case I was almost last off the plane (not wanted to hang around in the aisle waiting for the doors to open I tend to stay seated until things clear up), last through customs, and my bag was right in front of my nose when I reached baggage claim. I proceeded towards the exit signs, which led through several sets of tall white sliding doors.

I hoped that on the other side of those doors, my distant cousin Wayne would be waiting to pick me up..


Preparation and Catastrophe

Thursday, Jan 26.: Blocking 
I had a plan. A great plan. I would finish Trish the Shawl (only the finishing touches left), block it, then pack. Knowing I had to get up approximately at 3am Saturday meant I wanted to have almost nothing left to do Friday, being able to just go to bed and try to get some sleep after work.

So far so good. Finishing it took a few minutes, and I had some vague idea pinning it out would take me 30 minutes or so. Unfortunately, when I finally was done pinning it out and looked at the time, I had spent three hours fighting with the pins, on my knees on the floor. Another work day ahead, time to get some sleep. Packing progress: 0%.

Friday, Jan 27.: Last Minute Trouble
"Packing, pfuh. Just throw a few things into a bag and you're all set."

I frowned and shook my head at this statement at work, aware that I would have to plan carefully what to bring to avoid an excess of luggage. I still thought it couldn't take that much time, however, since I had it planned out in my head. Or so I thought.

Torn between the options of taking a bus from work between 16.00 and 17.00, or staying until 18.00 and getting a ride home AND a free dinner between 17.00 and 18.00, against my own wisdom of knowing better I opted for the late but comfortable option. After all, I'd only lose an hour.

That hour turned out to be crucial as I struggled to get everything packed and ready for departure, my hair washed, and to be in bed before 21.00 in an attempt to get at least 6h of sleep. After emptying my wardrobe onto my bed, sorting through it, and stacking exactly the amount of clothes needed for the amount of days in question (knowing I would have the possibility to do laundry after five days), I started fitting everything into my suitcase which suddenly looked tiny, after feeling gargantuan when I bought it and refused to get a "big" suitcase, opting instead for the middle size. As usual I put two changes of clothes into my carry-on backpack in case the checked suitcase would go AWOL.

Gathering the last bits and pieces I ran around the flat, and tugged out my mp3-player from the computer's USB-port where it was charging without doing the "remove safely" procedure. I hadn't gone more than three meters from the computer before I realised something was up: The player was giving strange messages on the screen, and finally told me it had failed loading the fonts, and shut itself down. Start of panic. Nothing I could come up with revived it. With the stress growing I turned unable to understand instructions unless spelled out in very simple steps. In the end it took a calm person with remote access to my laptop to fix it.
3,5 hours had passed, and it was now almost midnight. I was not done packing. In another 3 hours or so I would have to get up and get ready to head to the airport.

Finishing packing, I discovered that I had put my camera bag down on one of my heat-paks (you know, gel things where you flip a metal thingie and it goes hard and warm for about 30 minutes), which had burst and leaked gel on the bed. The gel had been triggered, and was hard. The sheets were crusted to the mattress. I had the stuff all over me. "Avoid exposure on skin in case product breaks". Lovely. Another thing I did not have time to deal with, and I decided to leave the mess for when I got home.

At 01.00 I decided to go against all advice and get a couple of hours sleep. I was running out of steam and sleep sounded better than staying up, even knowing I would be likely to hate waking up in so short a time. I set multiple alarms and went to sleep on the other side of the bed, where no scary chemicals were spreading their malicious powder over my sheets.

I fell asleep instantly.

About...

In a fit of procrastination I updated the "about" tab instead of continuing the process of tidying up my flat.

Sisyphus World Tour

Finally, it has begun not only on the road but also on the internet. 

We had a great first week (aka the shakedown cruise) in the car and trailer (feb6th-12th), and I really wish I could come along for the rest of the adventure. Unfortunately I will have to leave it at following the odyssey online... but I will be back. 

Expect some beautiful photography and some very good writing from Erik!


Sisyphus World Tour 2012


My own part of the story is coming up here, but to be honest I have been down-prioritising my own blogging since I came home - in part to get the SWT up and running. I think I made the right choice. :-)

Exoneration

Wayne points out: "You did NOT get bad water in Hillsborough!!  :-)"


- This is true! It was the only place on the trip where my senses did not pick up on anything off with the water. Probably as good as it is here. 

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Looks aren't everything

Erik, with whom I was staying (or travelling, depending on your perspective) in Texas last week, has been talking about blogging some of his adventures, and so I decided to gift him with a domain and a blog. I have been fighting with the layout of that on my awake spare time during this week, but things are starting to fall into place. The background photo aren't perfect (it doesn't show off the Wagon's hiney to her best advantage if you view the site on a lower resolution), but that can be changed when the perfect photo is found (or taken). Now I know how to do it and what tricks the thing will try to play on me when I do it...

Since I learnt so much about customising the layout of the blog template, I went ahead and updated this today on my lunch break. New background photo (taken by yours truly in Big Bend national park), and new colour scheme and fonts, mostly. Some other details have also been updated. So, big question - do you like it? Colours OK to read? Does it look pleasant? Did I mess up something? I have tested in three browsers on two operating systems, so it should look approximately the same on whatever you choose to view it on.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Status

I got home monday evening. Now it is friday evening. I decided I should probably get some groceries - I have been subsisting on takeaway coffee and restaurant lunches since I got home. My sleep pattern is still weird: I fall asleep in the evening when I should, and get up in the morning when I should, but in the middle of the night I am awake (usually between 2300 and 0200).

Picked up the cat wednesday, he is happy to be home and more clingy than usual (!).

I am having some sort of mysterious skin reaction; which I am ready to blame on water that smells of chlorine. Patches of my skin all over my body is dry in a way that is reminiscient of scabs on sores. Also my nails flaked apart completely, probably same thing. At the moment wearing plastic nails (that fall off if I take a shower) to protect my sensitive fingertips lacking their usual nail protection. Meh. OK, so the water is one thing I really do not like about being in the states. Some places it is fine, but most places it smells like a public swimming pool and hurts me. Becoming scaly. Sss.

With the sick leave I have been gone from work since december 15th until feb 14th (being there in total five days, three of which were partial days). I was somewhat demotivated before the absence, getting back felt so-so. Today, fourth day back, I actually left work with a sense that it'll be fine. I understood stuff and even had the answers to something (though they might simply have asked me to boost my confidence), and I'll manage, somehow. Optimism reasserted itself!

Unless you'd noticed from my comments elsewhere, I had a great time in the States. I did not want to go home. I want to go back. There are all these lovely beautiful people I would like to spend more time with.

Now also..

Now also a mobile site for this blog (quick loading less image heavy).

The Journey: On My Way There

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Hyvää Ystävänpäivää!

Happy Friendship Day, darlings.

(As most of you know, I swear by the Finnish holiday rather than the forced romantic one. I think about ALL the people I love!)


In other news: Jetlagged out of my skull. Nodded off in a meeting at work, and had to go home. Chose to get a cab because I did not trust myself to stay awake on the train. Got home, went to bed, slept for some minutes, was woken by the phone, except I did not realise it was the phone - I was trying to make it be silent so that it would not disturb other campers or something like that.

Yep, no idea where I was or what was going on. Lady kindly rang back five times as I repeatedly hung up on her and told her to shush, she seemed to realise I was half-dreaming (though she was annoyed, but polite).

Fell back asleep after noting down the call and slept for another 3,5 hours only to wake again, no clue where I was, confusedly looking for Erik. Most interesting - I have NEVER been this disoriented before at any time that I can remember, I usually know exactly where I am when I wake up.

What do you think caused it?

Quick update from the trip

More to come later, but here are the few photos I shared in Facebook during the trip - in inverted order. So, just to recap: Visiting relatives in North Carolina, road trip with my friend Carol down to Florida to visit more friends, then I flew out to Texas to spend a week there. Got lots and lots and lots of photos, which will slowly but surely appear here during the coming month or so.


Erik gave me a shooting lesson (and took pictures of it).


Our "rig" as the RV-people called it. Hot girls, huh? :)
We seemed to be a tourist attraction on our own with that couple! (59 Ford and 51 Kozy Coach)

Hot boiled peanuts (cajun spiced). Served by my friend Jeannine when I was in FL and my new favourite thing.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

On the road

Jan 28th - Feb 3rd: North Carolina, had a great a time visiting cousins. Feb 3rd - Feb 6th: Florida, having a wonderful time with C&J!! Yet to come: adventure in Texas w/ E.