Saturday 14 February 2009

Egypt here I come

Benny here. Am off to the Red Sea with Sally and a woman she calls Mother Hand. It is a long old way from Yellowstone! But since Sally forgot to take me on her last trip I am excited to be on the move again. Not sure how I will take to snorkelling - but I take my duties as the best travelled bison seriously so I might do a bit of parascending or something. Here I am at Heathrow enjoying a pre-flight donut. Bon voyage! To me, anyway!

Posted by ShoZu

Saturday 7 February 2009

Ka trouble

Poor Henry.

(You know, since I'm calling the car by its name, that the news is not going to be good).

He'd been stranded at home for several days, what with all the snow. This morning, I went out with a few of my neighbours and we spent 2 hours shovelling the packed ice and snow off the road and into the wheelbarrow, until we'd cleared the end of the cul de sac, and then a couple of other people came out and cleared tyre tracks down the road, and an enterprising neighbour who'd raided the grit bin round the corner threw about 2 buckets of it down, so Henry was liberated.

Still, I made Mr Z come to Asdal with me this evening, partly because I wanted to get him food for when I'm on holiday, partly because I was being wussy about driving in icy conditions.

I'm glad he came with me.

And after I'd just wiped the numberplate, too.

We were sat at a temporary traffic light, not two minutes from home, with a carful of groceries, when there was an almighty BANG! from the front passenger side. I thought it was a tyre. It was not (although it is now...) Mr Z tried to drive it, but there was an awful grating, rubbing noise, so we just had to stop. halfway through the temporary traffic light system. Great. Seems that the suspension, which the service garage told me LAST WEEK would be OK until my next service, picked today to collapse.

I am grateful we were stationary when I happened, though.

The RAC came after about 2 hours and towed Henry to the local garage, where the tyre was popped during the lifting-back-onto-the-road process. The garage are going to try and sort it out tomorrow, bless them - just in time for the next dump of snow, rendering the roads undrivable, again.

Off topic, I can't believe Gloucestershire council is using table salt to grit the roads. It's just beyond a joke. Though it is effective - I used up half a tub on the road last night, and judging by the completely bare salt shelf in Asdal, many others are thinking the same. Unless South Gloucs is trying the same trick.

In a positive piece of driving news, I got a solicitor's letter on Thursday with details of my claim for October's accident. It is a sizable sum. All that complaining I did about having to see an independent GP suddenly seems unecessary. Obviously it's not an actual figure yet - but even the lowest estimate she gave me will cover almost all of the cost of flights to the US this summer. It seems a LOT of money, but then when I think about the amount of trouble it caused me, between not sleeping properly for days, to being unable to mark any coursework because of the neck pains, to having to get Mother & Father Z to schlep me around while Henry was getting his MOT, it seems about right.

I'm getting a bit sick of the snow, now. I had Tuesday off because I couldn't get the car out - and school closed at lunchtime anyway. Then school closed on Thursday and Friday too. I got all the History coursework I had here - well over half - marked, and a lot of knitting done. I'm a bit fed up with the snow now, though, and I REALLY don't want to be snowed out early next week too, as I need my laptop, which is locked in my classroom desk drawer. I didn't think to bring it home. I thought it would be one snow day at the most. Then the deputy head warned me it might be Monday and Tuesday too, when she rang on Friday morning.

I suppose the world will keep turning, but I have things I must do before half term.

I took lots of pictures on Thursday, with my new camera that goes underwater and can be dropped and sat on and stuff. I had dithered about the camera for a long while, as it was quite an expense, but finally I decided to just go for it. I've got a bit of the audiobook money left, and no pressing expenses (apart from a new suspnesion strut but I didn't know that then...) Really pleased I went for it. There's a Flickr set of the snowy results there, but here's one to be going on with.

This camelia is bizarre - after a day covered in snow the buds had actually started to open. !!

Friday 6 February 2009

First FOs of 2009

I have been a productive knitter, so far. My other resolutions, such as exercising and reading more books, have taken some time to get off the ground (though I did purchase and read Z For Zachariah, a book I remember from my teens, last week) but I already have two FOs to share, and another on the way.

FO # 1: Lelah

Pattern: Lelah, by Christina Buhagier at Knitting for Boozehags (no link because it's defunct now, sadly)
4mm and 3.5mm Knitpicks
Allhemp6 in Midori, three full skeins and about a third of a fourth.
I knitted in a couple of extra lace panels and phased them out at my waist. I knitted more repeats of the lace pattern. I did four short rows around halfway up the bust to make sure it was high enough at the front.

I basically took the pattern at its word and measured and did some maths and it came out a perfect fit. It's such a perfect fit it doesn't even need elastic to keep it up! I have knitted a couple of icord straps though, which will be attached with poppers or hooks and eyes.

There was a bit of a wobble where I realised my gauge was different to my swatch (must be the round-knitting as opposed to the flat-knitting) and I had to rip back a day's worth of knitting and do rather a lot of decreases, but it was made a lot better because, for the first time ever, I used a lifeline. I don't know what made me do it. Prescience!

It's hard to do the pulled back shoulders, one leg forward pose
when Mr Z tells me to flick my hair from side to side.

Then, of course, it snowed - a lot. Hence the pictures. I like the irony. Really it's for my trip to the Red Sea next week. I may have bought 7 different kinds of green ribbon online because I couldn't pick the one I liked best...

FO # 2: Fingerless gloves for swap

Mayahana Flying Gloves
4mm DPNs
RYC Baby Cashsoft in pale pink (that colour that looks sort of grey). It is so soft and lovely.
I didn't knit a thumb I just made a hole. I ribbed at the top, too, though that may be part of the original pattern. I only really used it to get the number of stitches ot cast on, and for the link to the lattice stitch. They are very pretty, and luckily too small for me or they might not make it into the swap parcel.

Tonight I have knitted one Eowyn mitt, too, for a friend from knitting group who is trying to rustle up something warming for friends of her son, who lives in a unit for people with head injuries in Devon (I think that's what it is - it's one of those stories I missed the beginning of). Apparently the unit is very cold at present.

I haven't knitted any Eowyns for over a year and it feels funny to go back to a pattern I am so familiar with, when I am a considerably more accomplished knitter. For a start, I can't understand wtf I EVER knitted them flat and seamed (I remember thinking of a good reason at the time, heaven knoiws what it was). For another thing, the first mitt only took me an hour, and I certainly wasn't that quick last time.

I bought a new camera. I have many, many snowy pictures to share. But talking about Eowyn makes me want to go and CO for the second one, so they will have to wait.

25 things about me

This one's doing the rounds on Facebook but I don't want all these good me-facts going to waste over there!

Here are 25 things you might not know about me.

1. I have a shockingly bad short term memory and often forget what I'm saying halfway through a sentence, or ask the same question several times at 30 second intervals. I have an awesome long-term memory, though.

2. The right side of my hair is always curlier than the left because I twist it round my fingers absent-mindedly.

3. I eat out of date food. A lot. Yesterday I ate a yogurt that went out of date on November 11th. I view the date stamps as guidelines, really.

4. Top of my list of things to do before I die is see the southern hemisphere.

5. "Feel the fear and do it anyway" is one of my favourite sayings.

6. At last count I had 9 wrap dresses, which may be too many.

7. It really irritates me when non-knitters look at me knitting and say, "You're so clever! I could never do that." Do they think I was born doing it? It's a skill like anything else and anyone can do it if they learn!
(Knitting readers might recognise this fact. My favourite story to do with it is the woman who heard this while she was visiting someone in hospital - from a brain surgeon.)

8. I'm a terrible hoarder. At present, I am mostly hoarding yarn, perfume and bath products. I am also a big book hoarder - that's ongoing.

9. I enjoy making Mr Z jump - and it's really easy. Sometimes he will jump when I have come in late, banged around downstairs, been to the loo and then walked into the office and said hello, because he is oblivious. I feel guilty about it quite often, but it gives me the giggles.

10. I find it really difficult to read non-fiction; it takes me a really long time. I think it's because I don't care how it ends.

11. I like to be busy, although I'm never very productive. I am a bit half-arsed, truth be told. But I like to have lots on the go.

12. I'm really excited about holidays this year because I'll be going abroad 4 times on 4 very different trips. 2 are with school. I like doing school residentials, they're really rewarding. I don't get why other people don't.

13. I love being 30. I was excited to turn 30. My 20s felt like they went on forever and I'm really excited by this whole new decade stretching out ahead of me. Especially since I'm now a lot better off, more stable and happier than I was when I turned 20. And, I was relieved when I discovered that the school years are not the best years. I wouldn't be a teenager again for anything, unless I could take all I know now back with me.

14. I thought that stuff about your wedding day being one of the best days of your life was a load of old bollocks, until mine was. I still regret wearing those shoes, though. I should have gone for the uncomfortable but utterly gorgeous pair instead, especially since I took them off at the reception anyway.

15. I love baking, and it makes me sad that Mr Z does not really eat cake. It is just as well, though, because I would have baked us into matching gastric bands by now if he did.

16. I'm a qualified ski instructor - only on nursery slopes, though. My best instructor move is backwards snowplough whilst bent over holding the fronts of somebody else's skis. I rock that move.

17. I love pens and pretty stationery. I own more notebooks than I will ever use, I fear. They make me do more work for school, though, so that I can fill them up.

18. I am absolutely obsessed with polka dot stuff. I love polka dots. Every day, I wear something spotty. My staffroom mug is polka dot. My wedding ring is kind of polka dot. My wedding dress had polka dots on it, though you can't really make them out.

19. I still have my first car - an E reg mini - in the garage. I dream about getting a Haynes manual and fixing it up myself. Then I'd have it resprayed with a polka dot roof and polka dot fabric.

20. I have an A-level in Latin. It was my best A-level grade - a B. It is more useful than I thought it would be.

21. I have only ever dated men who are computer geeks. I hold their collective knowledge responsible for my ability to teach ICT without any qualifications or formal training, and my extensive use of keyboard shortcuts.

22. I lived in Las Vegas for a year after I finished university. I didn't work or anything, I just sat around Father Hand's apartment reading and chatting to people online, and sometimes I'd cycle to the library or the cinema. I did an amazing bus trip though, and covered 9000 miles in 5 weeks. Good times.

23. When I was a student, I used to go and sit next to Alexandra Palace when I was feeling a bit blue. It was 2 buses away from my house but even the journey was cathartic. Being able to see London spread out made me feel insignificant and, in turn, my problems.

24. I kept extensive diaries all through my teenage years. I only stopped when I started going out with Mr Z. I can't imagine not telling him everything - though quite often I suspect he'd rather not know.
It's fun to read back over the diaries, but there are still bits - the bad bits - that I can't read because they're too evocative.

25. When I have a bad day at school I think of working on Playscheme and getting beaten up on the minibus by Joe and spat at by Shimu and happy slapped by Michelle, and it puts it all in perspective! I still miss Playscheme every summer, though.