Kalottspel

Aug. 14th, 2017 10:04 pm
kareina: (Default)
We arrived at the school which serves as the main base for the event at 16:00 on Friday, and spent some time hanging out in the entrance area waiting till the people doing check in were ready to take our money. (We got a really good deal on the weekend--not only is the Luleå Hembygdsgille paying for bus rental and petrol, they also organized us a huge discount on the entrance fee--instead of the advertised 950 NOK, we paid only 350 each.)

After checking in a couple of us hurried off to the concert that started at 17:00 at another venue, while the rest of us moved into our classroom, ate some dinner, and relaxed. I was disappointed to discover that the cute little loft play area that I slept in last time I was here (year before last) has had its stairs removed and the entrance nailed shut, so I had to sleep on floor level like everyone else.

The next official thing on the programme was the concert in the gym across the hall from our room, at 19:30. The performers were a trio I have seen and enjoyed on other occasions, and four of their numbers are songs I have heard before , and also the ones with choruses, so also the ones they encouraged the audience to sing along, so, of course, I did. Sadly, the guy running lights and sound turned off even the along the side of the hall lighting that I had been using to work on my embroidery project while waiting for the concert. Gee, I move a lot when not working on a craft project. I massaged my own feet, hands and arms, re-braided my hair, drimmed along to the music, etc. Luckily, I was sitting at one edge of a row (so I had the best pre-concert light for my sewing), and no one sat next to me, so my constant motion didn't disturb anyone.

After the concert I changed into my dancing skirt and grabbed the bag with my dance shoes and joined the folks out front of the building waiting for a ride to the dance hall. After what seemed much longer than it was the bus finally arrived and took us the 6 minutes up the road for the dance, arriving right at 22;00

I spent not quite three hours dancing (often with others, but occasionally alone when I couldn't find someone to dance with), till my feet were really hurting. Then I and one other from my party (and a few people I didn't know) got a ride back to the school where, having done my yoga before the concert, I went straight to sleep and didn't get up till 10:00! (Not counting going to the loo about every two hours all night, having drunk plenty of water whilst dancing.)

That gave me time Saturday morning for breakfast and paying for the song course (classes cost extra), before it started at 11:00. I really enjoyed the course, which was taught by a couple of the ladies in the group Kongero. I wound up buying one of their CDs and their songbook, since the songs they taught were featured therein. I am thinking that it might be time to try to find some friends to sing folk songs with regularly. I keep attending these workshops once or twice a year and then never singing those songs again (most have parts, so sound better with enough people to cover the parts).

After class was a long enough break for a quick lunch before the afternoon concert, which included performances by the talented school kids who have been doing music workshops over the course of the event (which had been running a couple of daus before we arrived). Another of the afternoon performances was a couple in traditional Sami dress performing some very nature inspired pieces. The first was the man playing an etheral tune on a flute while the woman sang sounds that managed to be both lovely to listen to and also sound like a mosquito. During that piece the littler school kids ran gleefluy through the audience prending to swat mosquitos between their hands, often pretty much right in the faces of the audience members. The kids sermed to really enjoy that. Another of the Sami nature songs the children paraded through the audiance with their faces covered by leaves/branches (a different sort for each kid).

Then there was another break before the next performance, which was part of the Family Day of the music festival. This was two women who portrayed a story through the use of song, words, interpretive dance and violin playing. My Norwegian isn't good enough to have followed all of the little nuances of the tale, but I had no problems following most of it (and could have understood a fair bit of the story even if I hadn't understood any of the words).

After that show I had a quick dinner and a half hour walk to enjoy the beautiful mountain views. I also laughed to notice the one peak with a flat top that kinda reminded me of Flattop mountain in Anchorage--what got me to laugh is that Flattop (and all of the peaks of the Chugach Range) are to the east of the city, which means that the sun rises either from behind them, or, in mid winter, to the right of them. To see something that looks kinda like Flattop with the evening sun just to its right was a bit disconcerting.

The concert Saturday evening started, as is traditional, with the allspel(everyone plays), followed by performances by pretty much every group on site, all of whom are good. Then, after intermission, was the performance by the featured group, MäSä Duo who had flown up from Finland just to perform for us, and perform they could! One plays violin, and the other a tiny accordion, both with amazing energy, tallent, and impressive speed. They tended to start many of their numbers slow and dreamy, and after a lovely intro, kick it up several notches in speed/energy, and then do it again a couple more times. I couldn't sit still, but was pretty much dancing in my seat for the hour they played. Then there was a short break to clear the chairs out of the way and set up some tables in the back half of the gym before the dance started. The Finnish duo played the first dance set, and were kind enough to keep the music at a medium tempo (for them, which meant nice, fast dancing). They also played more repeats of each dance tune than is customary in Norway, which I really appreciated. After there set all the other groups took a turn playing for dancing, which meant lots of beautiful music all night long. Once again I only managed not quite three hours of non stop (unless you count running to the loo when they changed bands) dancing before my feet couldn't take any more, so I walked across the hall and went to bed around 01:30.

I woke at 07:00, which gave plenty of time to pack up, have breakfast, do some yoga, and just hang out with my travelling companions before our bus picked us up at 09:00. The trip home took just over 10 hours, some of which I slept, of course, some of which I typed much of the above, and the rest we sang songs and just enjoyed the travel.
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
Ten of us from the Luleå Hembygdsgille(Folk music/dance/costume society) gathered early this morning and the bus departed at 06:00. Because we are so few this year we have only a small bus--large enough for those of us who want them to have a pair od seats to ourselves, but not big enough to have a toilet on board. Therefore we had a short stop around 08:00, and a longer stop in Kiruna. Everyone but me choose to eat there. The hotel restaurant wasn't open yet, but the Thai Arctic Grill was, and they all ate things like burgers and fries, over cooked fried spring rolls, and other things that simply didn't look like food to me. It was pretty much all monochrome pale brown fried food colour (even the hamburger buns had that shade, though they looked too soft to have been fried). Only the bus driver, whose plate was covered in a mound of meat that looked sufficient to satisfy a small wolf pack had something a bit darker than the fried startch that filled most of the plates. All in all I was relived that I had my own food in the bus, and happily worked on my embroidery project while they ate, then returned to the bus, had a short nap, and woke up to the pretty view of the cute little Swedish mountains that are the prelude to the more spectacular Norwegian mountains. With this lovely view out my window I just ate my lunch of home made egg noodles with fresh (grocery store) broccoli, silverbeet and kale and fireweed stems from our garden, red lentils, roasted cashews, and a bit of butter and curry ilke spices that the lentils had been cooked with. Then I ate a kiwifruit for desert. My bowl was a pretty mix of green and orange that looked and tasted so very much better than what the resturant had. I am so pleased that I am smart enough to bring along food from home.

Later when I get hungry again I have pasties. I have breadrolls baked around yummy home made spegetti sauce. I have lots more fruit, and cheese, and nuts and seeds, and home baked oat cakes made with real butter. Travel food doesn't have to taste horrid.
kareina: (Default)
When people ask me where I am from, I tend to give "Alaska" as my short answer, since I have lived more time there than any other place (but now Sweden is in second place). Today I saw a link on FB to a Geographic Midpoint Calculator, which will tell you where the mid point of everywhere you have ever lived is, and you can weight it by how much time you have spent in each place.

My 36 places ) However, clearly some of these estimates are off, as the sum of these numbers is just more than 1.5 years less than I have been on this planet, but it is close enough for now.

According to my weighted average midpoint, I have spent my time on earth more or less in the Yukon Territory, due north of Dawson (and further north than Fairbanks is):

map
kareina: (Default)
This weekend was Drachenwald Spring Crown. I drove down with three students, two of whom had class till 14:30, so we didn't actually get on the road till 15:00. This meant that we arrived at 21:00, just as court was about to start. There were two "party sleeping rooms"--rooms for people who are likely to be up late at night, and will want to sleep as late as their schedules will permit in the morning, but both were already quite full when we arrived, so instead of going with plan A (set up D&C's air mattress right next to my bed so that they had a place already when they finally arrived around midnight (since he had to work a full day Friday)) I wound up moving my friend H's bed a bit to the side and squeezing my bed between his and that of my minion in one of the rooms, and then moved a few other things to the side in the other to make room for D&C's bed in there. Not ideal, but better than sleeping in the room for people who want to go to bed and wake up early, since that is where small children with very loud morning voices sleep. (However, S, who drove down with D&C wound up moving to one of those "quiet" rooms anyway after sleeping in ours the first night, as the only place in our room that had room for her meant that others had to step over her to get to or from their own beds, and they did. Often.)

The site was lovely, with a balcony around the main hall, and both "party" sleeping rooms had doors opening on the balcony, which meant that I was able to set up my bed and get dressed, yet still pop out to the balcony often enough to see which very deserving people were getting awards. After I was all moved in I enjoyed the evening hanging out with people, and didn't get around to doing yoga till around 03:30 (which counts as 27:30 Friday night as far as my exercise log is concerned), yet still managed a full 35 minute session, since both H and T joined me, which made it much more fun to keep going.

Saturday I managed to get up at 08:30, which gave me time for breakfast before helping O into armour. There were 15 couples who had signed up to enter (which we must do at least a month before the event in this Kingdom), but two wound up having to drop out due to illness and injury, leaving 12 couples. Of this group there were 2 dukes, a count, three viscounts and a knight fighting, and my champion was not only the newest authorized fighter, he was the only fighter who didn't already have an AoA (the consorts included 5 countesses, a count, three viscountesses, and a pelican, and all of the others had at least an AoA).

They ran the tournament with first a single round-robin list, during which my champion managed one victory--a lovely shot to the fact of the Knight who went on to finals. After the first round robin list the top four fighters fought a best-two-of-three round robin list, after which the top two went on to the final round. I think that adds up to 20 bouts fought before one makes it to finals, so you can tell that stamina is valued here, and was really needed as all of the semi-final bouts were quite long.

The winner of the tourney managed to do so despite the handicap of not being used to fighting on loose gravel to provide traction despite the slush on the ground--a problem that didn't phase the Swedish entrants at all, since that is normal spring conditions here. (note that spring is MUCH further advanced down there--we still have thigh deep hard crusted snow left here, except for the little patch of bare grass right next to the side of the house where the sun's heat is reflected back, but there they had only a few cm of snow on the ground, all of which was kinda slushy in the warm (read "a couple of degrees above freezing") spring day.

After the tournament I had time for lunch before the Laurel's meeting, and then I finally got to check out merchant's row, where I managed to NOT buy more fabric from Medeltidsmode, even though so much of it is so lovely. I still haven't had time to sew the really beautiful fabric I got from them at Visby! I did however, pick up two small and one large wooden (on was birch bark) boxes that will be useful for keeping food in at camping events, from a "garage sale" merchant.

Then I did a performance of the poem I had entered in the Arts and Sciences competition (the link goes to the pdf of my documentation) to the people who happened to be hanging out in the vicinity of the A&S contest tables (it was this performance which was judged as part of my entry). After that I had time to change clothes into a dress (I had been wearing two layers of wool trousers and wool tunic and coat for the tourney, and when I came in just stripped down to linen tunic and one pair of trousers for a while) before court and evening feast. They had the thrones set up at one end of the hall, and high table at the other. Since I like to be able to hear court I claimed a corner of a table closest to the thrones, and a bunch of people I had never met claimed all the seats near me, which gave me a good excuse to visit with people I didn't know.

During court they called up all of the fighters in the tournament, and His Majesty first thanked them all, said good words of the entire tournament, then especially praised my champion and my minion, who were the two least experienced fighters in the list, yet two of the most enthusiastic. This made me quite proud of my household, but then his Royal Highness also stood up, and further echoed the praise for both of them, and gifted them with rings from his fingers, and I was even more pleased for them. During the same court my champion also received his award of arms, which further brought me joy.

I didn't eat any of the feast, of course, it being served well after my interest in food had turned off for the evening (I had brought some of my own food, to eat between the served breakfast and lunch, and between lunch and when I ceased to feel hungry), which left me free to wander the hall and visit with various friends, stopping occasionally back at my own seat to visit with the one's I hadn't known before. About mid-way through the feast the person running the A&S contest had me perform my poem again, and I got several compliments on it over the rest of the evening.

After the feast ended a bunch of us did dancing to live music, and much later in the evening (just after midnight), I changed back into tunic and trousers so that E and I could do some acroyoga. We were joined by a few others who wanted to give it a try. It was much fun. Then I did my normal yoga, and afterwards T. started massaging my calves for me, which caused me to start drifting off to sleep, so when she stopped I expressed my thanks and went to bed, at around 02:00.

Sunday I didn't get up till around 09:00, which still gave me plenty of time to enjoy breakfast, pack, visit with people, and still get off site at 11:30. This got me home at 17:30, which meant that I had time to make a quick pot of soup, eat some of it, and sill make it to our normal folk dance session only 15 minutes late. It felt great to move after six hours in the car (thanks to the students I needed only drive 1 of those hours myself, which meant good progress on my sewing (new underdress of that really nice white herringbone linen I bought during the Viking costume workshop we had in January) during the trip). However, I got tired and left about half an hour early, which meant only 1 hour of dancing for the day. As a result April's exercise log isn't looking as good as March's, yet (1.22 hrs/day so far this month , as compared to 2.07 hrs/day last), but with luck I will have both the time and energy to bring that total up before the month is over.

Today I managed to get to work this morning (I took the trike in, which means less time accumulated for the exercise than if I walked, but it also meant I got home sooner), and then went home and took a nap. After my nap I read for a bit, and fell asleep again. I must have needed it. Eventually I managed to get up and do the unpacking that I hadn't done last night due to going to dance, and then caught up on finances and other computer stuff. However, I should soon put down the computer and do yoga.

Oh, I realized that when I posted last weekend's event summary from the airport on my way home I forgot to change my log in to the DW account, so it posted only to LJ. Therefore I will copy-paste that here, and those of you who are still reading on LJ can skip the rest of this post as you have already seen it.

the post from the weekend before Crown )
kareina: (BSE garnet)
This week's work is happening in Finland. I flew out of Luleå Monday afternoon (the cab picked me up at home at 14:40, so I had plenty of time in the morning, and cooked some yummy homemade noodles with dried nettles in the noodles, fresh spinach, snowpeas, and butter to take with me) and arrived in Helsinki at 20:35 (including the one hour time change).

I was met at the airport by my cousin Kimmo (he is actually a grandson of my great-grandfather's brother, putting him in the same generation as my mom, but he is younger than I am due to the age difference between those two brothers +/- timing of subsequent generations). He and I relaxed at a coffee shop at the airport for a bit, where he enjoyed a coffee plus one of the cookies I had brought along for the trip, and I worked on a sewing project. Then we took train and bus to the city of Espoo, just across the river from Helsinki, where the Finish Geological Survey (GTK) is located.

I checked into my room, and he stayed long enough for another cup of coffee before heading out. It was good to catch up with him. He is fairly recently single (amicable separation from a long-term partner), so if I know anyone who enjoys participating in sports who might like a nice Finnish man for a partner, let me know and I will introduce you. There is a photo of he and I here, but I suspect that you would need to be friends with him on FB to see it (and mom already has, so this may be kinda useless info).

I woke up this morning early enough to borrow one of the hotel swim suits (one size fits all, but, luckily, I am "one size") for a quick swim before starting the day. I had to borrow one, I have no idea where mine is. Come to think of it, the last time I remember using it was some years back, when I stayed at this hotel while attending a short course in Laser-ablation ICP-MS at GTK. I suppose it is possible it got accidentally left here. But the one I borrowed today, was not my missing suit.

The guys at GTK had told me that I could show up any time after 09:00, and google maps told me that it is a 9 minute walk from my hotel, so, of course, I left my room at 18 minutes before 9:00. Sure enough, I arrived 9 minutes later (I don't know what criteria google uses to calculate time needed to walk somewhere, but I usually walk at exactly that speed). Of course I had no idea where in the building I needed to go, so I asked the woman working at the reception desk. She had no idea what a microprobe is, nor where to find it, and, of course, my colleague wasn't answering his phone so early in the day. But then one of the geologist walked by and was able to give her the name of someone else associated with that lab, and he came and showed me to where they get their coffee in the morning before starting work.

After he had his coffee we went to the lab, and he spend an hour or so doing some testing and calibration of the machine before we started choosing my analysis points. The plan had been to analyze about 100 points on each of the two samples. Both samples had been marked with a set of six squares, and I had printed out large photos of each marked area, so it was easy to make notes as to the exact location of the analysis points. There were 4 different mineral phases we wanted to analyze, which would come to 25 points per sample for each mineral per sample, except for the fact that one mineral (pyrite) is really common in sample A and very rare in sample B, and another (chalocopyrite) doesn't exist at all in sample A, but is really common in sample B, and it turns out that sample B also had a few rare grains of another mineral that A didn't have (phyrotite). So we planned to take extra of the minerals that exist on only one of the two thin sections, but we got a bit enthusiastic, and wound up selecting some extras of everything. By 15:00, when we'd finished marking the last spot the total analysis time was predicted to need 23 hours, which wouldn't have left time tomorrow to run the other samples we want to do. So we counted how many spots we had for each different mineral, and for which locations (by hand, since it turns out not to be possible to copy-paste the list before the analyses have been run) and decided which areas had points we could delete from the list. After deleting lots the new predicted run time was 19 hours, so he told me not to come back till around noon tomorrow and I went back to the hotel room to read for a bit before heading out with the SCA folk.

At 17:00 V. arrived to pick me us, and we first stopped by a cute little iron age replica village, though, of course, we couldn't see much, since setting the clocks back this past weekend means that it is now dark before 17:00, even this far south. Then we went to the pub, which turns out to also be a Czech resturant. Since we were there fairly early I was still hungry. I was also intrigued by the sound of their "Clear garlic soup served in a crispy crusted bread bowl", so I ordered it. Oh, wow, yum! [livejournal.com profile] madbaker, I think this soup was made with you in mind. They totally used "more" garlic, and the bread was excellent, especially with the garlic soup soaking into it. I have previously had soups served in bread rolls. This one was large enough to count as a loaf. There seemed to be some thinly sliced onions in the pot as well as plenty of slices of what must have been some fairly large cloves of garlic, and a bit of cheese as well. There were some croutons in there too, and I wonder if they had been made from what had been cut out of the bread before putting the soup in, since there weren't too many of them. My only complaint was that it simply wasn't possible to finish it, and since everyone else ordered their own things from the menu I couldn't convince anyone else to eat the last of it for me, so it just went to waste.

a loaf of soup
Note that the spoon in the photo is a rather large table spoon, not the tiny delicate tea spoon it would need to be if that loaf of soup had been only a manageable sized roll.

Over the course of the evening we had about half a dozen local SCA people (most of whom I had met at Cudgel War this summer) plus me. It was a lovely evening. Since I don't have to be back at the lab till noon tomorrow, I have taken some time to relax and catch up on what has been happening with my friends while I have been busy, but I am tired, so I had best do my yoga and get some sleep anyway. Tomorrow I hope we have enough time to get the analysis points chosen for the other set of samples before I have to leave for the airport to head home.
kareina: (me)
This got long, let me break it into reasonable sized chunks...
Saturday )
Sunday )
Monday )
Tuesday )
Wednesday (today: travel day) )
But, of course, I can't post this till later, anyway, by which time I will know if it went according to plan.

...and, now, hours later, I can report that it did go according to plan. I bought a two day public transit pass, took the city bus in from the airport, and hopped off as it passed near a train station, walked the couple of blocks over, and down to the tracks, and then took that line till it intersected with the line that goes to my friend's house, arriving here sometime between 13:30 and 14:00. We spent a couple hours visiting, and then he went out to rescue a damsel in distress before heading to the sword fighting lesson he teaches on Wednesday, and I am enjoying a quiet evening in his apartment, where I plan to catch up on stuff on the computer, hopefully do my workout (which I didn't get up on time to do this morning), and certainlly do my yoga. L. may still make it over here later tonight. This morning she said she would be with her mother till 18:00, which is pretty much now.
kareina: (stitched)
This weekend I traveled to the Canton of Kaarnemaa, in the Barony of Aarnimetsä along with E., my apprentice number two, and A., a friend from our choir. The SCA event was being held in conjunction with the Finnish Early Music Society, who were sponsoring a variety of classes and concerts. Back in November, when I first heard of the event, I sent an email to the contact person for the Early Music Society, asking if the classes included any at an appropriate level for someone like me, who is only a beginner musician, but I never got a reply, and didn't try again. My apprentice also sent an email, explaining that she plays clarinet in an orchestra, and has a medieval version of the instrument, and was coming over, and wanting to do music with people, but she didn't get a reply either, and was also busy enough not to bother trying again. Undaunted, we just drove over for the SCA event, and figured we would ask about the classes when we got there.

The event announcement said that the site would open at 16:00, and GoogleMaps said that it should take around 4.5 hours (and there is a one hour time change between here and there), so we decided to leave site at 10:00 on Friday. I managed to get up early enough Friday morning to pack the last minute things (pillows, doona, phone charger, food from fridge), and load up the car early enough to meet my friend S. at the gym for a workout before picking up A & E, and we were on the road by 10:20. E. did all the driving, so I could sew (and I payed for the petrol), and the roads were clear and dry, and temperatures were nice (around -18 C). We stopped only once for a toilet break, and happily talked the whole time.

We wound up pulling into the site parking lot at 15:59 (Finnish time), and the hall wasn't open yet. After double checking to be certain we were at the right place we called the autocrat, who was just leaving his house, less than 1 km away, so was there pretty much at the same time as we were.

The hall is a community youth center for the town, and has lots of different rooms scattered about in a nearly maze-like pattern. We three, having first choice, wound up taking the room on the far side of the kitchen that opened up on the feast hall, since it had dark blinds pulled down over the windows, and thus would be a good place for sleeping. My apprentice was quicker than I to notice the stack of pallets that had a mattress on it, so she claimed that. I took the the other corner of the room, and A. built his nest against the wall.

After we had our beds set up and costumes on we went out to the hall and enjoyed conversation first with the autocrat and his wife, and then with a few others who arrived not so long later. Friday evening people provided their own dinner, but they made an "experimental pie" that is kind of similar to the traditional Finnish Christmas cookie that involves cooked dates on a puff-pastry like base. However, the pie was more a blend of chopped dates and pears with sugar and spices on a puff pastry base. It was really yummy, and was the perfect desert after eating the fruit and oven pancakes I had brought along for road food.

The first concert of the weekend was scheduled for 19:00 at a nearby church, so about 10 minutes before we all put on our cloaks and hoods and walked over. Other than the medieval band, the group of us were the only ones in Medieval costume. The music was great, and their instruments interesting. The hammer dulcimer they had with them is very, very unlike mine, but checking the instrument page on their web page, they don't seem to have a photo of the one they used this weekend--instead just one that isn't very different from my own.

After the concert we were introduced to the person coordinating the early music classes, who was embarrassed to hear that we had written but gotten no reply, but he confessed that he didn't know if he had seen the messages and intended to reply, or if they just didn't reach him. He introduced my apprentice to the teacher of the class she would be interested in, and I opted to just do the SCA event and attend concerts, rather than trying to join classes aimed at real musicians. Then we walked back to the hall and chatted for a while, but we were all a bit tired, so those who were sleeping off site went home, and the rest of us retired around 23:00, give or take a bit depending on the person's bedtime routines.

Saturday morning breakfast was scheduled for 08:00, but I didn't finish my morning situps till 08:20. I had considered going straight from there to the room down the hall that has a pull up bar upon which I could hang my jungle gym to do my workout for the day first, but when I came out into the hall a bunch of people were enjoying breakfast, so I opted to join them. After breakfast there were some classes, and I sat in for the start of them, before deciding that I should go do that workout, so I did.

After the workout I had an hour to get dressed, watch the tail end of a slide show of cool artifacts in museums the autocrat has visited, and visit with people before they served a yummy lunch of carrot soup, bread, cheese, and more of that yummy experimental pie.

Then my apprentice went off to her music class, and many of the others on site went to the sports center next door, where they had set up a temporary archery range for the event. I choose to stay on site working on my tunic in progress, and my friend A. stayed as well. He is studying English, and had along a copy of Pride and Prejudice that he needed to read for a class, so I suggested that he read aloud to keep me entertained while I stitched. Much to my delight, he did, and I found it quite amusing, even though I have never actually read that book, and I was coming in somewhere in the middle of the story.

However, after a while I got sleepy, despite having gotten plenty of sleep the night before, so I went a lay down for a 20 minute nap, and A. went out for a walk. When I woke up to an empty hall I decided that I should take a walk, too, and did so. When I returned half an hour later the hall was once again full (if you count a 14 person event "full"), and we settled into happy conversation till time for the feast, at 16:30 (such a wonderful time to eat--right when I am hungry!).

Even though it was a small, and informal, event, I still opted to put on my circlet and veil (I was wearing my pretty blue silk bliaut) for the feast itself. The food was yummy--he made a saffron rice, some eggplant pancakes, some wild hare cooked with warm spices and onion, some pork (that I didn't try), and some lingon berries cooked in honey. Not a huge variety of stuff, but about perfect for a small event like this one. There was also pears baked in sugar and spices for desert, some really yummy cookies, and, of course, more of that experimental pie (of which he had made rather a lot, and we happily kept eating it all weekend).

During the feast I recited the first bit of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, explaining that I had chosen it as my period piece for the Norrskensbard competition in November because it was "English". They laughed when I repeated after the recitation "English". Then my apprentice took out her period instrument and played for them. I got the impression that they enjoyed having a bit of entertainment at the feast, even though they hadn't planned any. After the feast we all walked back over to the church for the second concert of the weekend.

This one was a mixed concert--many (all???) of the performance were people who had been participating in the courses over the weekend, and they were all really good. I was very impressed with the hugely long neck on the one lute--I had never seen one like that before. I was also REALLY impressed with the choir who performed--there were only 13 people in it, which is about the same as our student choir on a good day, but we never achieve even the volume of the performing choir, let alone the shear richness of sound the got. At first they were just a beautifully balanced richness of sound, but then I realized that if I focused on the face of an individual singing I could actually pick their voice out of the crowd, and then, when I switched to a new face, I could hear that voice. I have no idea if this is normal or not, I don't recall ever trying that before.

After the concert we returned to the hall, and I noticed that they had listed "dancing" on the schedule for 21:00, so I asked about it, and they admitted that they hadn't actually brought any music, so I plugged my phone into the hall stereo system, and we danced for a good hour or so, followed by more pleasant conversation and sewing time. I eventually did my yoga a bit before midnight, and was in bed not too long after midnight.

This morning I slept till 09:00, and again joined people for breakfast after morning situps and before working out. However, since we had plenty of time before E. next music class at noon, I did, in fact, make time for a workout before packing up stuff and heading over the autocrat's house (the others finished the site cleaning while I exercised). Their house has a cute little medieval room downstairs, complete with tapestries, trestle tables, and iron candle holding chandlers. I want such a room! Sadly, I have no idea where I would fit one in this house.

While E. was in class the autocrat's wife cooked us lunch, and it was ready about the time the class ended, so we had a yummy meal (mostly event leftovers, with a few additions) before hitting the road. The weather had really warmed up (got to +2 C!), so the roads back were no were near as clear as on the trip down, but it all went smoothly. There were a couple of stressful seconds when a white reindeer was suddenly visible standing right on the side of the road, but there was room to go between it and the on coming traffic, so all was fine.

We stopped in Haparanda on the way home to stock up on my of the yummy juustoleipa one can buy there, since it is a border town, and were back in Luleå at 18:20. This gave me just time to drop them off, head home, unload the car, and head out to Folk Dancing, arriving only about 25 minutes late. It felt so good to MOVE after sitting in the car for much of the day, and, of course, the dancing was, as it always is, just plain fun.

Now it is after midnight, so I had better do my yoga and get some sleep before work in the morning. Tomorrow evening a friend (or two?) from Phire will be coming over for dinner, so I should also decide what I will be cooking.
kareina: (stitched)
The 14 hour train trip from Göteberg to Luleå is, in many ways, nice and relaxing--we have beds, so we can stretch out and sleep comfortably. Yet, somehow, by the time we were home I was feeling very tired. Cooked a yummy soup right away anyway, as one needs to eat. Then, after a bit of unpacking we did some grocery shopping, and then made pizza. C would have been willing to use something like store bought pita bread for the pizza base, but no way am I ever going to eat store bought bread if there is another option, so I made pizza dough. She cooked up a pizza sauce involving tons of onion, some canned tomato, herbs, extra salt and sugar added. Ick. My pizza sauce was tomato paste, with one spoonful of her canned tomato, herbs and onion/garlic (BEFORE she added the salt and sugar, thank you). The nice thing about having a couple of ceramic pizza pans is that mine could bake while hers warmed up, and then we both get pizza we are happy with.

It is now only 17:40, but I feel like it is already time to do yoga and go to bed. Somehow I bet I get distracted and don't manage sleep straight away...
kareina: (stitched)
Thursday it was only four of us for the Frostheim meeting, but it was all productive stitching time for three of us (and [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar entertained us by playing the violin, which he was bringing along with us to Göteborg for the weekend, since it is *much* easier to travel with than the nyckleharpa). We had to leave after only 40 minutes, since the next stop was the airport, where, it turned out, our flight was delayed, so we could have stitched for longer. But I used the wait to do my yoga, so it was ok with me. We finally landed late enough that rather than bothering with public transit we just took a taxi to C's apartment, and I was asleep not too long after we got there.

Friday morning I woke up around 08:00 when C's alarm went off, and after my situps we three had breakfast together before she needed to head off to a class (which had originally been scheduled for earlier in the week, but had gotten moved at the last minute). After she left [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar worked on the cloak for a bit, but then were both feeling tired, so we laid down for a nap. I think I expected to sleep for perhaps 20 minutes, but it was three hours later that either of us woke up! I think I had been burning the candle at both ends a bit too much in the week before.

After the nap we had time to cook an early dinner and then take the tram out to meet C and head to her folk music session/lesson. Their group is around 12 violins, one flute (C), one guitar, and a banjo. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, of course, joined them with his violin, and I worked on the cloak (not only did I not bring the dulcimer due to being too big to easily fly with, but I don't learn new songs as fast as they were going through them, so I wouldn't have been able to play anyway).

After the music session we went downstairs to the folk dance class and joined them, and then stayed afterwards for the open folk dance session afterwards. I danced some with [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and some with C, but they also wanted to dance with one another, so I asked a random man standing nearby if he wanted to dance, and he said yes. He was a fairly good dancer, so when he made no move to go dance with anyone else I kept dancing with him, for a number of dances in a row as that seemed easier than trying to find another partner (since most people there seem to dance a number in a row with a same person).

In the short pauses between dances he chatted with me (in Swedish) about music and dance, where I came from, and asked why I was in town. When I explained that there was a "medeltids envenmang" that weekend he asked for more information, and then asked for more details about the local SCA group than I could provide. Therefore I brought him over to [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and C, who were taking a break to eat some food, and let her fill him in. In the process he managed to not make a very good impression on [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, when he replied to hearing that one of the SCA activities was armoured combat with a joke about bondage (but I didn't understand his comment, the whole conversation being in Swedish, and I don't have those words in my vocabulary).

After C and [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar finished eating we went back in, and I danced with one of them, and then the other, and then they danced with one another again, and since there was no one in the room at that point who wasn't dancing, I danced alone for a few songs, before the same guy asked me to dance again, so, of course, I said yes. Towards the end of the evening he said he needed to leave, and asked me for my phone number, which really surprised me, since nothing about him really caught my interest, and I didn't feel comfortable giving it to him, so I explained (truthfully), that I prefer email to phones since my hearing aids makes it much easier to understand speech when I can see the person, and gave him one of my less used email addresses.

After he left a really good looking man, with lovely long dark hair, with silver highlights, and a pretty dark & silver beard came in, and C pointed him out and strongly recommended that I dance with him, since he is a good dancer. This sounded like a very good idea to me, and much more appealing than the random guy I had danced with earlier. It is funny how, while physical beauty shouldn't be important, it does make a difference. I am certain that some people would find the earlier random guy attractive--he is reasonably tall, and reasonably fit, but his short hair and clean shaven face combined with something I can't define in his manner made him totally uninteresting to me.

I did manage to get in a couple of dances with the pretty long haired man, who does, indeed, dance very well, but we didn't really talk much--my Swedish isn't up to leading a conversation, and he didn't ask questions. Then it was time to head home. On the way home C told me that the pretty long haired man comes from somewhere else, perhaps Ireland or the UK, she couldn't really remember. That could explain the lack of conversation--we were speaking in Swedish--perhaps he also isn't so comfortable driving conversations in that language. And, of course, my ear for dialects isn't good enough to have realized from listening to him that he isn't a native Swedish speaker.

Saturday morning we got up early to head to the SCA event (which actually started Friday night, but had we tried to go out to the site after dance we would have arrived *really* late). We went out to catch the tram, which would have taken us to another tram, and then a bus, which combined would have gotten us to site 1.5 hours after leaving the apartment. However, when we got to the tram stop she checked the phone app that shows the schedule of the recommended buses/trams for the journey, and it announced that the schedule for one or more of those buses/trams had changed since she did the query and now we would need to walk some blocks to another stop, and once there the changes would have us at site nearly half an hour later than planned. We discussed it, and opted to just take a cab, which got us to site in only 30 minutes.

The event itself was very nice and relaxed. I did some work on the cloak, led some dancing, chatted with people, and was really flirted with by a girl who, while caressing the silk of my dress (and the curve of my waist), explained to me how wonderful I am and how beautiful, and how the colours of my gown are perfect for me, etc. I loved and appreciated the attention, though I wouldn't be interested in the girl, since she is a snus user (and I think she smokes, too, though, perhaps, that was just her friend) and has rather more piercings than I find appealing, but it still felt good to be thus showered with compliments.

After the feast we went out to the hot tub for a bit, afterwards I went straight to bed, since I didn't feel inclined to wriggle back into the bliaut (it is *really* comfortable to wear, but not so much fun to put on or take off). As a result I woke up early enough to go for an hour walk in the morning before breakfast, which was really nice. A pretty, misty morning--barely able to see the cute Swedish farm houses and their stone fences as I passed them on my way up the hill.

After breakfast on Sunday we caught the buss and trams back to her apartment, where we had just enough time to change into presentable modern clothing, pack up the SCA stuff properly for travel (and in C's case unpack and put away her SCA stuff), and make and eat some food, before heading into town to the opera house.

It turns out that I still haven't seen an opera--while we had discussed seeing one, the things playing that day led to C choosing the musical, Crazy about You, rather than the opera. The play was done in Swedish, which meant that I couldn't follow the plot as well as one would wish to. While I can understand lots, and do ok when a conversation follows expected patterns, I wasn't able to follow all of the plot twists--just the ones that were really clear from body language and use of archetypes, etc. However, it was a musical, which means I enjoyed listening to it anyway, and was amused by the costuming. (Who dreamed up the cowboys and Indian themed show girl outfits? the girls had long Indian feather headdresses over red and white striped cow-girl skirts and blue sequin tank-tops with a star on each breast, while the boys were dressed in cowboy style outfits which were also heavily embellished with a red, white, and blue sequined ornamentation involving blue with white stars and red and white stripes.)

After the play they had second dinner, I did yoga, and we relaxed and hung out for a while. Eventually I went to sleep, and they chatted for another hour or so. The alarm went off at 04:00 on Monday, which gave me time to do my situps and pack the last minute things (my pillow and phone chargers) before catching a taxi back to the airport. No one else sat in our row, so I got a nap on the flight, and then we went straight to work from the airport.

Monday evening was Finnish class, and tonight was choir, where, of course, I worked on the cloak, bringing the total to 139 hours so far. We are both looking forward to tomorrow evening, when there is nothing at all upon the calendar.

Gotvik trip

Mar. 9th, 2015 04:18 pm
kareina: (stitched)
Last week was a busy one, with the Nyckleharpa group meeting on Monday (I bring my dulcimer, play along on the two songs I know, and spend the rest of the evening listing to lovely music being learned/practiced while I make progress on my current sewing project), Choir on Tuesday (this year's issues with attendance has continued--we had two sopranos, two altos, two bass, and one tenor. Therefore we have decided that since our recruitment attempts aren't working we will try plan B: bring along musical instruments and when there aren't enough voices to do parts we just sing and play, but when there are we can sing parts), Wednesday was Solar Wind Orchestra (the instrumental spin off group that is formed of (mostly) members of our Choir, Aurora, and which we are hoping will keep the choir alive a bit longer by taking the instruments to Choir), Thursday we flew to Gothenburg (as it is spelled on maps written by English speakers), and Friday we took the bus out to the site for the St. Egon Feast and Normark Coronet Tournament and Investiture.

The busy week schedule meant that I hadn't really properly recovered energy levels after the Australia trip, since I wound up staying up later than I should have on pretty much all of those nights. As a result I was so tired by early Friday evening that I wound up laying down for a two hour nap, and then getting up and being sociable again in the late evening. I think I went to bed again around 01:00, yet still woke up around 07:00 with enough energy to go out for a walk before breakfast (which was scheduled to be served at 08:00).

I wound up taking a side road up a hill past a number of farm and eventually into a forest, where the road ended at a gate next an old farm house that, these days, only grows old cars lying around the field in careless abandon. By the time I got back down the hill to the site it was just after 08:00, and I enjoyed my breakfast.

This was the first time I have made it to a Nordmark Cornet. They happen only once every nine months (give or take). The year that it was held here in Frostheim (in July, that year, which is why I say "give or take, since one can't get to March from July by counting nine months at a time) was the year I had to be in Australia, awaiting my visa to move to Sweden. I did call in and get to listen to the final rounds (one by a Frostheim fighter!), but it is not the same as being there. The subsequent Nordmark Cornet tournaments have been held far enough away during times we didn't have the budget and/or time to travel, so I missed them. We probably wouldn't have gone this time either, since we aren't in a habit of it, but C talked us into coming down for it--she has been up here three times to visit since moving away in October, and it was our turn to visit her.

The tournament was scheduled for 11:00, and there were seven fighters in the list, which was fought round-robin, with each bout being done as a best two out of three (the one time there was a double kill they went to four bouts to decide it). At the end of the day there was one knight who had six victories, and two fighters who had four each. So the two fought one another, and then the victor fought the one who was clean (and by clean I mean his lovely white silk surcoat with a damask fleur-du-lis pattern on it was still lovely and white despite the mud--he had been careful to not actually fall down during the (few) deaths he had had during the sub-round bouts). I was not terribly surprised when the knight won, and was pleased to see it--he and his lady are delightful people, and they like to make spiffy stuff, so will always look the part.

Lunch was scheduled for 13:00, and the tourney was over in plenty of time for us to be back inside (out of the wind, which was surprisingly cold, given that there is no snow at all on the ground that far south) in plenty of time for it, but lunch prep wound up taking more time than expected (or something--I didn't hear the details) so food wasn't served till 13:30. This gave us time to check out the two merchants on site and pick up some more linen thread since we were running low.

After lunch I changed out of my nice warm Viking boy clothes (normal version, not the man/muscles and beard that I use when actually trying to play a man at a Lajv) that I had brought along to wear Friday night and during the tournament (ok, I didn't actually wear the wool trousers or wool over tunic Friday night, they only went on for being outside, and whilst indoors I contented myself with my white undertunic and a black linen tunic I made years ago that used to belong to [livejournal.com profile] clovis_t, which his mum gave me when I was visiting Tassie) and into my blue/brown wool bliaut and added my braid extenders. Then C put on her new braid extenders, which had been inspired by mine. In her case it really is her own hair sticking out the bottom--she saved the hair that got cut off during a tragic misunderstanding of a hair dresser about just exactly what she wanted done. My extenders hang just to my hips, hers rich to mid-thigh. Need to re-do mine to make them longer...

We managed to get dressed up in good time for court, which was both the last court of Sven and Siobhan and the investiture of William and Isabetta. Having grown up in Oertha, where the new Princess have overnight to prepare for their Investiture, at first it sounded kind of fast to do the Investiture just a few hours after the tournament. However, it turns out to have been plenty of time for them to prepare, since, after their investiture and accepting the oaths of fealty from their officers, they actually had business of their own! They called up [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and presented him the scroll from his AoA (and the man who had been the Prince to give him that AoA happened to be the herald for this court, so he got to beam happily from behind the thrones for that). Then, when [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar was ready to return to his seat they told him that he did not have leave to depart, and then presented him with Ljusorden, the Principality award for arts and sciences, in appreciation of the fact that he is playing beautiful music at every event he attends. They apologized for not having a token for him, but said to make it up to him they had not one, but two beautiful scrolls to commemorate it. Therefore, in one event, he managed to go from zero scrolls to one more than I have. Their new Highnesses actually presented several different awards, and each one came with a scroll. Now that is truly being prepared to hit the ground running!

(ok, so they had help from the outgoing royals, who had arranged a few award scrolls to be made for people for whom they would have been happy to be the ones presenting, and the calligraphy carefully didn't state the names of the Prince and Princess, so that either the incoming or the outgoing pair could sign the scrolls and give the awards, but still, it is quite impressive, especially to one like me, who grew up in a Kingdom with a huge backlog and who still doesn't have her AoA scroll, from 1985.)

After court was the banquet. I, of course, was long since done eating for the day, but we still put out a plate and bowl to mark my place next to [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and C. We were seated across the table from a musician with a violin, and adjacent to several other musicians and singers at the next table, so there was much music and singing happening in our end of the hall before the feast, and at random intervals during it. I sensibly did my yoga early in the feast, finishing up as the toasts were called (I like being at an event large enough that I don't need to make one of the toasts--as "just" a viscountess I really am fairly far down the OP, but here in the north I am the third ranked person, since we have only one each count and countess, and this is a Kingdom in which the toasts are made in order of presence).

They held a couple of mini-courts during the feast, mostly to acknowledge and thank people who had worked at the event, presentation of gifts from ambassadors from other branches, and other similar business. They also presented two awards to people on behalf of former royalty (in one case from several years back), that had been officially presented during court at an event in which the recipient hadn't been in attendance, so everyone kept the secret until they could get it at the next event at which both they and the royals were in attendance. There was also a performance of the Drachenwald Theater Guild--a very silly impromptu story, which had been written in advance in the form of a mad-lib: the Queen had been given a list of questions to answer, and those words were slotted into the story (The Princess and the Pea), to make for a very absurd tale, which was acted out by random members of the populace, chosen by guild members on the spur of the moment, while the (guild head? the countess in the jester costume, anyway) read the story aloud. Since the audience was participating the story held everyone's attention, and there was much laughter.

The feast, like lunch before it, was served about a half an hour behind the originally planned schedule, which meant that when it came time to depart to go catch our bus back to the city (at 22:30) desert had not yet been served. It took two buses and one tram to get back to C's apartment, and we arrived just at midnight. This meant that I had re-done the packing for the next day's flight home, and managed to go two sleep by around 1:30 ish, and slept till around 07:00. We had to depart for the airport at 09:40, and were landing at the airport in Luleå around 14:00, since we were lucky enough to get a direct flight home (the flight down involved a change of planes in Stockholm, and then getting off that plane when something in the door broke when they went to close it, so we passengers were re-booked onto the next flight, which meant we took off from Luleå at 18:30, but didn't make it to C's apartment till midnight).

Despite the weekend of adventures down south, we still managed to make it to dance on Sunday evening, which was fun. Today I walked both to and from work, since [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar wasn't able to come home for lunch, and someone needed to be here from noon to accept the piano delivery. Yup. We have a new piano. His sister called him recently to ask him if he wanted a nice walnut wood piano. Never mind that we already had an old school piano in the living room, of course he said yes. It cost about 4000 SEK to ship it up from southern Sweden (almost €430, or $550 USD, or $615 AU at today's exchange rate), but that isn't bad for a nice instrument that sounds so much better than the one we already had. It will need tuning, of course, but even so it already sounds nicer.

As it turned out, they didn't deliver till almost 15:00, so he was able to be here and help the two delivery men get it up the stairs and into the front door.

We have nothing special on tonight's calender, which is a delightful change (and probably why I am finally finding time to post something), but tomorrow is Choir, and Wednesday is Solar Wind...
kareina: (BSE garnet)
When last I posted it was the first week day of my second week in Tassie. At the time I rather expected that I would continue to check in each day and record my adventures. Nope. Been home for the better part of a week, and haven't posted any of that, either. So, what can I remember...

Ok, the training week was both really, really useful, and a bit disappointing. The latter because, while I know I learned lots, I am also aware of just how much more I am going to need to learn to be able to do my job well, once our lab actually exists. I did wind up making a rater long list of stuff that our lab will need to acquire, preferably by the time we are operational. Did you know that there exists a hand-held meter for measuring the energy of a laser beam? Neither did I. The model of laser they have in Tasie has two different places one can measure it--once at the beginning, right after it gets generated, and again at the end before it gets focused and goes into the sample analysis chamber. The way the tool works is that it has a little round bit of (glass?) in a frame that gets slotted into a gap in the machine, blocking the laser path. The laser beam travels right through the gas, and sensors built into the frame send a message up the wire to the hand-held unit, which converts the information to an number, which it displays on the screen. If everything is working properly then that number will match the one you entered into the controlling computer saying how much energy the laser is supposed to be firing at today. It will also be the same both at the beginning of its path, and after traveling through the machine (and being bent around corners by the mirrors). A good lab checks this daily. Oh, and that gap into which one puts the sensor? One can stick ones finger in there--at that point in the process the laser hasn't been focused--it is still a fairly wide beam, and you can't feel anything more than what you would feel to have any other beam of light shining upon you. Yes, the laboratory analysis demonstrated this for me.

The adventures I did during my second week in Tassie included:

Monday: Contra dance. So much fun! I have missed contra dancing. I did my best to convince my friends D & C who run the contra dances there to come to Sweden and teach a contra dance workshop here.

Tuesday: SCA dance practice: More fun! It was good to practice a bit of Italian Ren dances--we don't tend to do them up here, and I will need to do some at the Known World Dance event in Germany in April. Held at the home of a friend who has a lovely house built in a really pretty farming valley about a half a hour south of Hobart. His cow had a new calf, and the flock of wallabies which graze in his paddock includes an albino wallaby.

Wednesday: Walked into town and met my dance friend C, then drove to a home on the other side of the river, where lives a man who has been making and selling leather hats at the Salamanca Market in Hobart for more than 40 years. I bought two hats from him--one for [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, and one for me. Then we did a walk along a lovely sandy beach, and after that we drove a bit further down the road and walked along another beach, which was muddier, had lots more plant life, and a fair bit of wildlife (crabs, etc.). She showed me one of the plants along the shore, which is mostly green, but it has red bits, which start low and gradually work their way to the tips, and then the red bit falls off. The red part is where the plant is concentrating all of the salt it takes up, and getting rid of it when it falls off. She then plucked up a bit of red end and bit it to taste the salt. Since she didn't seem hurt by doing this, I tried it. Yup, really salty. I only tasted, I didn't eat any--I don't tend to use salt in my cooking, so strong salty taste isn't appealing.

Thursday: The only evening I spent in my hotel room instead of adventuring with people (I needed it by then!) I had thought to catch up on posting to livejournal (I do my reading on the phone during my morning situps, but it isn't practical to post then), but instead spend the time on a skype call to my sweetie at home, and showed him the hat and other stuff I had gotten for him. I also showed him the SCA stuff we had gotten from [livejournal.com profile] clovis_t's mum, and he surprised me by saying that he wanted more of the armour and shields and costumes than I had expected. This complicated things, since my luggage on the way down was already 15 kg of my 30 kg limit, and it took a bit of effort to manage to make it all fit. In fact, I wound up leaving behind the aluminium heater shield with metal basket hand protection, and only brought home the aluminium round shield--it wouldn't have been worth paying the excess baggage fees for that last 4 kg. So an SCA friend kept it and said she would sell it and give
[livejournal.com profile] clovis_t the money for it.

Friday: met up with my friend E, with whom I had done adventures the first weekend, and we did one final adventure, walking on a beach (it was a hot day, so that sea breeze was really welcome). I gave her the last bit of food I had purchased and not yet eaten (a little bit of flour, 4 eggs, and part of a pack of butter--I did alright guessing how much to buy, I think), and then she took me to the airport for my flight to Melbourne to visit my step-sister, K and her husband and their sons. I had only met the boys once before, back in 2011. Now the oldest is almost 10 and his brother about 6.

Saturday was really hot (35 C). K and I went in the morning to a yoga studio near her house. She did the 1.5 hour beginning class, and sent me to the next room for the intermediate class. This is the first yoga class I have attended in many years, and it was rather nice to just follow what someone else was doing for a change. She also had a couple of poses I hadn't seen before, which was nice. In the afternoon we drove further up into the hills (they live in Belgrave, which is as far from the city as one can get and still be on the train line) to a park on a river, and we kids played in the river while K relaxed on the beach in the shade. Ok, I spent a bit of time on shore at first too, because the ankle-deep water next to our blanket was in the sun, but then I discovered that just down stream a bit there was a stretch where the river was in shadow and the water was deep enough in one spot (next to some lovely rock outcrop) that if I stood up in it only my head and shoulders would stick out.

Sunday we just hung out with one another, visited, and lounged around the house and tried to keep cool (went through a fair bit of ice in our water) until it was time to head to the airport for my long journey home.

The trip down had involved:

*~1.25 hour flight to Stockholm
*~2.25 hour wait at the airport in Stockholm
*~6.25 hour flight to Dubai
*~4.5 hour wait at the Dubai airport
*~7 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur
*~1.5 hour wait at the Kuala Lumpur airport
*~7 hour flight to Melbourne

By comparison the flight home was faster:

*~14 hour flight to Dubai
*~2.25 hour wait at the Dubai airport
*~6.25 hour flight to Stockholm
*~2.25 wait at the Stockholm airport
*~1.25 hour flight to Luleå

Luckily, that plane for the 14 hour flight is a huge one, which meant that the area at the base of the stairs and next to the toilets was large enough that it was possible to do yoga there. I did yoga and the physical therapy exercises they gave me to keep my hips from hurting when I sit three different times that flight! (and in every airport on the way,and the trip down included both yoga and physical therapy at every airport--next to a nice little waterfall in Dubai).

I arrived home to what seems to be a really early Spring. The temperatures here have been hovering around 0 C, and often warmer than that, and predicted to be mostly warmer than zero for at least the next nine days. This means that there has been a fair bit of melting--huge puddles in parking lots and on some roads. Slippery sidewalks. I remember complaining about this kind of weather last year around this time, or perhaps a bit later. I still don't like it much and would rather have the nice -15 C temps and fluffy snow, but I must confess that after two weeks of summer, which both begun and ended with temps of +35 C, and am really enjoying the comfort of temps ranging from -4 to +4. Though I shouldn't have worn that cotton sweater under my coat the other day for the walk home from work--I wound up sweating.

One advantage of the warm weather is that it has made it slightly easier to deal with one of the downsides of home ownership--the filter pump on our septic system has died (after many years of use). So [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar ordered a new one, and while waiting for it to arrive rigged up a temporary one run by an extension cord from the house (ok several of them to reach that far) with an attached hose he ran over the snow from the one tank to the next. Since it has, just, been freezing at night he has had to go out each evening after work to bring out the pump and turn it on for a few hours, then bring it back in before bed. But the new pump arrived Friday, and it has the correct fittings to attach to the underground hose (or pipes?) connecting the two tanks, so it can be just left out there. Tomorrow he will attach it to the underground electric cable that the old pump had been running from, and we will be able to bring back in those electric cables. If it had chosen a week of -20 for this I am not certain it would have worked to run the hose over the snow--at those temps perhaps it would have frozen even though the pump was running.

Now that I am home we finally have a date (17 April) for the arrival of the Argon gas canister, being shipped from the US, that is needed for the installation of our laser--it needs the Ar to make the plasma so we can analyze the samples, and apparently it isn't permitted to use European gas canisters with their different sized openings. Assuming nothing comes up between now and then we will have the laser installed promptly after the gas arrives, and my job as a laser operating mad scientist will properly begin. In the meantime my Master's student, who was supposed to finish up last spring, has finally returned from his holiday in Thailand and given me his latest draft to check, and a couple of my colleagues have given me a long manuscript they have been working on to check it for good use of the English language, so I have plenty to do to keep me busy at work.

I am certain there was more, but I have been typing quite long enough...
kareina: (BSE garnet)
The conference in Denmark this weekend went well, though it seems perhaps a bit silly to spend so much time in transit for such a short time on site. Flew down Saturday afternoon, and home Sunday evening. Ah well, that is as much time as I was willing to spend away from home.

It was good to spend time with my cousins, who I haven't seen since mom and I visited them a bit more than a year and a half ago. When last I was there their young son (who is now 11 years old, and speaking much better English than last I saw him) proudly showed off the small treasure chest he had with rocks. Therefore this time I brought him the last of the pretty rocks I had collected on the trip to Cyprus two years ago (the rest went to my nieces in Seattle). He was very enthusiastic about receiving them, correctly identified the pyrite in about 1/10 of a second of looking at it (which is all one needs if one has ever seen it before), and then happily got out his collection, which had grown enough since my last visit that he now has three large plastic boxes with individual cubby holes for each rock, and a bit of paper towel in each to cushion them.

On the way home I finished the book I had brought with me, and I had plenty of time to change planes in Stockholm, so I stuck my nose into a bookstore, and walked out with four books in Swedish. The three books of the EarthSea trilogy, and a copy of Neil Gaiman's "Odd och frostjattarna". I had never read the latter before, and found it delightful. I managed to finish it before landing in Luleå, and it was so nice to read a book in a single day again (that used to be normal, but, other than books written for very little children, it hasn't happened since I switched to reading in Swedish). Granted, it is so short that it took only 2 hours, but still...

There was more, but it is way past my bedtime, and I get to play with building the earth cellar tomorrow...
kareina: (stitched)
Due to time and budget constraints I have not been as active at the Kingdom (or even Principality) level as I would like to be since moving to Nordmark, since we mostly only attend things within a three hour drive, and only do far away events once or twice a year. As a result I am long since out of the habit of planning to attend Kingdom level events, and thus it wasn't till well after the beds for 12th Night had sold out that I made the connection that I needed to be at a geology conference in Lund the only four days after 12th Night, which was being held only an one hour drive from Lund. Add to the equation that [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors parents live in Lund, and a plan was formed.

The three of us took the night train from Luleå on the evening of 1 January. This one departs Luleå at 20:00 and arrives in Stockholm at 09:20 the following morning. We then had a two hour wait to catch the "fast train" from there further south to Lund, where we arrived at 15:30, which is actually faster than we could have gotten there if we had just drove from Luleå, especially given that I need to stop and stretch often on road trips these days. Yes, Sweden is a long country!

Her parents picked us up from the train station and brought us back to their place for a yummy dinner and pleasant conversation. The next morning they took us out hiking, and in the evening we met up with some of her friends from school in town--we went to a restaurant for an early (by everyone else's standards, and quite a reasonable time by mine) dinner, and then we sat there and chatted for a couple of hours thereafter before biking back to her parent's house. The following morning was Saturday, so we got up early, put on costumes, and drove the hour out to the site.

Those of you who are in the West and some of the other Kingdoms are used to 12th Night at hotels in the middle of cities. I don't know if this is typical for Drachenwald 12th Night, but this site is a small collection of cabins in the forest in the country side (it is where Double Wars is held every year in May). Those people who were staying on site (which was most people there, I think) mostly had shared rooms with four bunk beds to a room. The main building has a kitchen and two modest sized halls. When we arrived on site one of those halls was already set up for court, but we had an hour or so to relax and get hugs from a few people before it was time to be seated.

I really enjoyed the courts at this event--it was a lovely mix of touching and heartwarming, pageantry and formality, and silly/funny moments. In between the courts I had a chance to catch up with people I haven't seen since Double Wars last May and meet some new interesting people and also admire the pretty things in the Arts and Sciences display. That evening at feast we sat with [livejournal.com profile] aryanhwy and her family, and I am so glad that we did--it was the most fun I have had at a feast ever. We normally just sit somewhere random, with no idea who will be seated next to us, and as a result we may or may not converse with the people who wind up there. But this time we all planned to sit together from the first, and the conversation was always entertaining. I so hope we can attend more events together in the future.

Yesterday we had a nice fika with some of [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors's family. I managed to converse with her grandfather in Swedish. I suspect that I could have used English with him, but he seemed to appreciate that I was using Swedish, and he was kind enough to speak slowly enough that I could understand him. Today we will meet her sister, and this evening [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar flies back to Luleå. The next day she flies back from France, and my conference starts bright and early Wednesday morning.

There was one merchant at 12th Night, but they didn't have anything I needed. However, it looks like I will score at the conference. There is a geologist living in Trondheim whom I first met at an SCA music and dance event in Stockholm back in 2009 who does a fair bit of Viking reenactment stuff and does tablet weaving for sale. She emailed me yesterday to see if I would be at the conference, since she is going, and I replied to let her know I was already here, and then asked if she has any tablet weaving in stock. She does, and is willing to bring it with her, yay!
kareina: (me)
As 2013 draws to a close I am inspired to look back over the year and see how it went for me. Just to be different, this time for each month I think I will share three things: 1) An adventure undertaken, 2) A project completed, and 3) A travel destination. That is, assuming I can remember one of each category for every month… )

So, there you go, I did manage to come up with something that fell into each of those categories for each and every month of the year. While there were, of course, also challenges to overcome this year, I think that for the most part I have enjoyed the year, and look forward to seeing what sorts of adventure I get up to and what projects I undertake next year.

home again

Nov. 20th, 2013 06:07 pm
kareina: (me)
The rest of my long weekend visit to France slipped by fairly quickly. We made it back to the climbing on Sunday, so that was two days in a row of climbing. not surprisingly, my arms got more tired faster, but it still went well and was ever so much fun. Want a climbing wall of my own!

Monday [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors had to work, so I walked her half way to the office in the morning--her route is along the bike path along the river in Grenoble, so there are lovely views of the mountains that surround the city. Then I settled down to my computer and did work well into the evening (when she got home from work I was in the middle of a task, so she happily pulled out her work and settled in with her calculations (she is a theoretical physicist) until I reached a breaking point. Then we went for a walk to the train station to see if we could buy bus tickets for my morning trip back to the airport. It turns out not to be possible at that hour (it was 8 pm when we started walking, and it is about 20 min to get there), but it was nice to get out and stretch our legs. After our walk I packed my bag (easy to do when one is flying carry-on only), did yoga, and we went to sleep before 23:00, which gave a bit of a nap before it was time to get back up again. I started my morning situps at 02:30, and we were out the door to go back to the bus station by 03:00. The bus I needed wasn't till 04:00, but we wanted to be certain I didn't miss it, since the next bus wouldn't be till 05:00, and that would be pushing it to make the flight on time.

We were rather surprised that a bus pulled into the station (and into the parking spot for the 04:00 airport bus) at only 03:25 (just after we got there) and passengers appeared from no where to start boarding it. That bus didn't have a sign saying it was going to the airport, but the people had luggage. So we tried asking, and one of the passengers had enough English to explain "Private", and we waited. Sure enough, that one went on its way at 03:40, and the airport bus arrived at 04:50. It turns out that I was able to buy my ticket on the bus (good thing, since the station wasn't open), and I started on my way. She went home for a nap before work, and I managed to nap on my flights.

I got a short nap between Lyon and Frankfurt, then a really good nap between Frankfurt and Stockholm, since I had three seats in a row to myself, and could lay down and sleep, and then another decent nap on the flight to Luleå, where again I got three seats and could lay down. It was a long day though--I didn't land here till more than 12 hours after leaving her apartment. (ok, so that is nothing compared to some of the traveling some of you have been doing lately, but keen in mind, I didn't leave the EU--heck, I didn't even bring my passport, and didn't need to show ID for any of my flights).

I had just enough time after arriving home to cook up some soup and enjoy dinner before we went to choir, bringing our house guest, K, with us. She sings in a choir in Umeå, and she liked some of the holiday songs we are working on and plans to steal them for her choir. It was fun to see the interesting expression on her face when she realized that one of our songs is in the Sami language and she had no idea how to pronounce some of those weird letters. From when I sit that song isn't any harder than the Swedish ones. But then again, Sami kinda sorta sounds a bit like Finnish, and while I don't speak Finnish I heard a lot of it when I was little, since mom's family comes from Finland.

It is lovely to be home again, and truly wonderful to have hot water whenever I want it. The apartment [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors lives in has one of those hot water heaters that doesn't heat the water until you are about to use it, and it has something wrong with it such that if you leave it on when not using hot water the pressure builds up to dangerous levels, and if left like that will most certainly break it worse than it already is, if it doesn't actually explode from the pressure. So they have been leaving it off most of the time, and only turning it on when they want to take a shower or feel for doing the dishes. Turning it on involves a pair of pliers and far more twisting of that knob than one would reasonably expect, while bent over at an awkward angle to reach. It is wonderful to be able to get hot water from my sink any time I want!

My only complaint about being home is that while I was gone whomever was supposed to watch the weather and keep it nice and cold must have gotten distracted, because it warmed up to enough above freezing that all of the snow on the roads and walking paths melted and now it has re-frozen again, so the paths and roads are all very slippery thick ice. This was not pleasant getting out of the neighbourhood for my morning walk to Uni. Luckily, as soon as I crossed the main road and got onto the path that will be turned into a bike path next year, the going was good again--it is clear that I am the only person so far this winter to go that way--my old foot prints are still visible in the snow, which is not as thick as it was when I left and now has a crusty top layer, but no other humans have gone that way.

I hope that we soon get a thin layer of slightly wet snow that bonds with the ice to provide traction, followed by colder temps and plenty of thick, fluffy snow to make the world pretty again. However, today was clear and cloudless, so that wish isn't likely to be soon coming.

climbing!

Nov. 16th, 2013 08:30 pm
kareina: (me)
One of the things I have always enjoyed, but have not made enough time for in recent years is climbing. As a kid we were on the roof of the house often, and I loved to go up trees. I was introduced to rock-climbing in high school, and loved it, and climbed at random intervals when I wasn't at SCA events for the next decade. (Granted, I was at SCA events really often then, so that didn't leave many opportunities to climb, but it was more frequent then than it has been in recent years.) However, I really got hooked on indoor climbing when I lived in Fairbanks. The university gym there has a climbing wall, and the gym was free to all students (well, I suppose since we had paid our student activity fee, it wasn't really free, but that fee was obligatory no matter if we used the gym or not, so it felt free). The combination of free place to climb, plus frequent days of temperatures which are too cold to want to be outside for long meant that I was climbing pretty often when I lived there.

I continued to make time to climb occasionally when I was living in California, but no where near so often, since the climbing gyms there were not conveniently located, and neither was the one in Tassie, so I didn't make it there often, either. Then I never found one in Italy, and since I moved to Luleå I have only gone climbing once. They do have a climbing wall at the uni in Luleå, but it is only permitted to use it when the climbing club is there, which is one night a week (or so they told me when I looked into it when first I moved), and [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I managed to make it only once, and were not impressed enough to make time for it again (I prefer to climb in gyms that are open often enough that one can climb at a time where there isn't a crowd so that one needn't wait in line for a chance on the wall).

As a result, other than the occasional tree, or scrambling up a boulder along a hiking trail, I haven't climbed in much too long. Therefore, this weekend, while I am visiting [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors in Grenoble, we went climbing, and it was so much fun! I suspect that the muscles I built up with all of the work on the earth cellar have not yet gone away, and the fact that these days I weigh a good 30 lbs less than when last I was doing regular climbing have both helped, because it all went quite well. We climbed nine different routes (I have vague memories of only doing six in a session back then, but since I didn't write stuff down then either I can't check).

All of the climbing gyms I have previously climbed at have ropes provided and always attached to the wall and ready for people to climb. The gyms here in France have some ropes one can rent, but most people bring their own ropes. Therefore it is necessary for people to lead-climb to get the rope up the wall in the first place, and then the second person can top-rope. I have almost no lead climbing experience, so we started the day letting me lead climb up an easy wall, and I didn't even bother paying attention to the routes (the holds are different colours, and to climb a specific route one uses only the holds of a specific colour and ignores everything else on the wall). [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors was surprised that after I got to the top I climbed down, because the people who introduced her to climbing all just sit down and let their belayer lower them back to the floor when they are done. However, when I mentioned that I thought it was good practice to down-climb, because there are times when out hiking one gets to a spot where it is necessary if one doesn't wish to turn back, and she happily started down-climbing too.

more details about the climbs I did )

We had lots of fun climbing, and plan to go back once more this weekend, and it will look quite good for my exercise log, since it is a 40 minute walk each way, and my total climbing time was about 45 minutes (of three hours in the gym--she did most of the lead climbing, so probably spent an hour on the wall, and we wound up taking breaks between climbing because we kept taking off the climbing shoes when it wasn't our turn on the wall. This was fast for her, since her shoes have velcro, but I bought mine in a day when velcro wasn't an option on climbing shoes, so I had to deal with laces.
kareina: (stitched)
yipes--as it really been more than two weeks since last I posted? Oops. Life has been busy. Really, really busy. With nearly no leisure time on the computer.

Before I forget the details I should type up the little holiday [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I took last weekend.

Wednesday, which was the night before we left, I was outside, enjoying the peace and quiet of our neighbourhood, shovelling some snow and revelling in the beauty of the starry night. I have mentioned before that I love winter more than any other season, and that was a stunning example of how beautiful it is. I really didn't want to leave my beloved winter to head south.

However, we have been wanting to visit our friend L ever since she moved to Grenoble to start a PhD program (theoretical physics) last August, and I didn't want to do it in summer, since it will be hot there in the summer, so we decided on March.

Therefore we got up at 04:00 on Thursday and took a cab to the airport. Followed by a plane to Stockholm (1.5 hour flight), followed by a plane to Geneve (1.67 hr flight) followed by a bus to Grenoble (another 3.5 hours total, including getting luggage back and waiting for the bus).

Friday during the day we hung out with L and explored a little bit of the city. Much to our surprise the temperatures were +14 C, and after leaving our nice -14 weather it felt like mid summer. If only I had thought to bring my sandals with me! Hiking boots are not comfortable when it is that warm.

That evening we went with her to a Folk Dance, which was rather better attended than she expected. Since there were so many dancers in the room it was quite hot, but we had much fun dancing nonetheless. Some of the dances were couples dances, but many were circle dances done in patterns that caused one to switch partners. I really enjoy those sort of dances.

Saturday morning we took the cable car up to the top of the ridge above the city and hiked along the ridge, down the valley, up the next ridge, along it, and then down into another valley, for a total of 15.4 km. I don't know if it is the longest hike I have ever done (I didn't learn about web pages like runkeeper till recently), but it is certainly the longest I have taken in a number of years. It didn't rain on us, much, but it did hail. I put some photos over on Facebook, but I will post a couple here for those who don't do FB.

light bursting through the clouds

looking down

We reached our B&B just after 19:00 (luckily, we made it down to the road before full dark) and enjoyed a relaxing evening.

The next day we did a much shorter 5.9 km loop around the valley

nice ridge

the village we stayed in

Then we took a cab back to the city.

Sunday evening they went to a contact improv jam session, but I stayed at her apartment and relaxed and unpacked from the hike and organized stuff.

Monday was more hanging out and exploring the city and cooking yummy food

Tuesday we flew home.

This week has been full on with trips to collect samples and attending the thesis defence of one of my friends.

This weekend I should write up a handout to go with the class I will be teaching at an SCA event next weekend (we will be making wax tablets) and work on the grant application I failed to touch all week (because I forgot it existed while I was on holiday, and didn't remember till this evening).
kareina: (BSE garnet)
I spent last week in Stockholm for a short course on Thermocalc. If anyone had told the undergraduate version of me that I would one day voluntarily spend from 10:00 to 19:30 several days in a row for one class, instead of the 30 to 60 minutes at at time I was used to back then, she would have told them that they were mad. Yet I was so grateful for the chance. This program uses thermodynamic data to calculate which mineral phases will be stable at any given temperature or pressure based on the input parameters. Unlike the program Perple_X, which I used during my PhD research, Thermocalc requires a LOT more user input at every step of the way to draw the diagrams. Perple_X takes your input data, thinks about it for some time (minutes or hours, depending on what data you start with), and spits out a diagram showing which groups of minerals will be stable at which temps and pressures for the bulk composition in question. Thermocalc instead does the calculation for each boundary between regions of different mineral assemblages for you, but you have to tell it one at a time which calculations you want to do. This means you are effectively drawing the diagram yourself, the program is just there to work out the exact orientation and position of the lines, you choose which lines are drawn. The disadvantage is that it takes much more user time. The advantage is that when you are done you UNDERSTAND why each and every line is there. Totally worth the class to truly understand how and why these diagrams work. So very grateful I didn't try to teach myself how to use this program--one really does need a teacher. At least if one is me...

The downside of having to go away for the course was that I was gone for [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's birthday. So I celebrated that evening by baking shortbread cookies for him, and chatting on the phone with him, and I brought most of the cookies home for him the next day when class ended. I did leave some of the cookies with my host. She is a geologist I met when she was up visiting LTU to do some collaboration with one of the people at our uni. She was here for a month or three, so I introduced her to my gaming group and she really enjoyed hanging out with the lot of us. It was nice to see her again in her own home. It was also nice to discover that a series of books I have really enjoyed has been translated to Swedish, since she has them all on her bookshelf. Sadly, the science fiction book shop in Stockholm didn't have the Swedish version in stock, so I contented myself with picking up a copy of Hobbiten (note: in Swedish the word "the" is added to the end of word with either the suffix "en" or "et", depending on the word. apparently "Hobbit" is an -"en" word.)

Tomorrow marks a full week since I got home from Stockholm, yet today was the first chance I have had to sit down and write up a post. Well, I could have done it last night, since Choir doesn't start back up again till next week, but when I sat down to check LJ [livejournal.com profile] blamebrampton mentioned that she had written a new story, and I lost the evening reading it. She says that the story is 66,000 words, and it took me just over three and a half hours to read it, so I my reading speed turns out to be about 300 words/minute. I bet it is no where near that fast in Swedish! Technically, reading this breaks my "no fiction in Swedish unless it is reading outloud to someone else" rule, but reading LJ doesn't count, right? Sadly, she never has found me someone writing fan fic in Swedish, but then again, I am still happier reading stories I already know, so that I don't have to look up the words.

Monday we hosted the first ever dance practice in our living room. A couple of people said they plan to come next time, but couldn't make it this time, but we still had four dancers total (including us), which is enough for lots of dances, and we had fun doing them. One of the two dancers who joined us is from the folk dance organization, and the other is an SCA dancer who recently moved here from Umeå. After dancing I posted to both the folk dance email list and the SCA forum saying which dances we did and reminding everyone that they are welcome to join us for the next one, in two weeks time. That evening I got a reply from a musician who wants to come play music for us next time if the others in her group are interested. I, of course, replied with an enthusiastic yes, they are welcome.

On Saturday the folk dance group is having a dance-share day--all of the different dance groups will gather and show the others what they do, so I will go and try the ones new to me, and share the Medieval stuff with them. Perhaps someone will like it enough to come along.

Next week I head down to Boliden for more sample collecting. I would love to just stay home, I like home, but the samples need collecting, and sooner is better than later, since it can take months before the results get back once we send them away for analysis.
kareina: (Default)
Back when I had plenty of time to spend at the computer for non-work as well as work stuff I posted here nearly daily. The upside to that was that it gives me a pretty good record of what I was up to then, but the down side is that I wasn't doing much outside of working on my PhD and going for walks. These days there is so much I would like to record about what I am doing, but the only way I can manage it is to take time that I should be doing something else (like, now, for instance).

I have managed a couple of f-locked posts in recent weeks, but they have focused on very narrow topics and haven't included updates on everything else in my life. So, what all is "everything else"?

music )

projects )

uni work )

travel/family )

health/fitness )

There are many more categories of things happening in my life, but it is time to put down LJ and get to them.
kareina: (Default)
Since last I checked in...

I flew to Stockholm a week ago Friday to meet my mother, who flew in from Seattle. My flight arrived in good time--after walking from terminal 4 to terminal 5 I reached the door outside of the arrivals gate about 10 minutes before her plane was due to land (about 15 min earlier than scheduled, according to the computer display on the wall). So I sat down on floor at the base of a pillar and got out my nålbinding to wait for her to come through the door. After 25 or 30 minutes or so I was feeling restless, so I stood up to wait, but still no sign of her walking through that door. After around an hour of waiting I was even more restless, and thinking that it was time to go find a loo, but still no sign of her. How long does it takes to fetch luggage and clear customs, anyway? Soon thereafter my phone rang--it was the airlines, they had my mother at the gate for our next flight, waiting for me (still three hours before that flight was due to depart, mind you). How did she manage to get past me? Sneaky mom.

So I dumped my water, made my way back up stairs and through security and to the gate, and sure enough, there was mom, happily sitting back waiting for me, with an empty wheel chair at her side. She has had issues with her ankles and feet swelling up whenever she flies for her entire life (something I am grateful she didn't pass on to me!), and it has gotten worse as she has gotten older, so these days she orders wheelchair support at the airport. Therefore she had been met at her incoming gate and whisked through the crowds at full speed ahead, bypassing lines, fetching her luggage, slowing down only long enough for someone to take a quick glance at her passport, straight to the gate for her next flight. Either I missed seeing her because I wasn't looking for a wheel chair, or (and I think more likely), they didn't even bring her out through the main arrivals door at all, but just took her on a secret back door path.

So we had a good laugh, and settled in to visit until our flight to Copenhagen, to visit her cousin, and his son, the son's wife and their 9 year old boy. She had met them all before, and of course knew the cousin when they were kids in Michigan, before his dad took him to Europe to live. It was a delightful weekend visit. I enjoyed their company very much. My second cousin has many interests in common with me, and he has done larp and historical reenactment back before his son was born, and we got along well. His wife comes from Poland and is a delight to visit with.

On Saturday we young folk went to a History Park , leaving mom and her cousin to hang out at home and visit. It was a fun trip, and we didn't have time to see it all. Our first stop was the pottery house, where they had buckets of clay and told us that we were free to make something, and take it home with us later. None of us four could resist the chance to play, so we sat down. I made a small bowl, similar to my memory of one I used when living at the history park in the Netherlands for the first European Textile Forum.

From there we went to the textile house, where I enjoyed looking at the looms, fabric, and yarn they had on display. No one was on duty there, so I couldn't ask if the beautiful hand woven diamond twill fabric was on sale, which may have been a good thing--if it was it wouldn't have been cheap. From there we walked past the stone age farms and over to the Viking settlements, where they had a variety of stones set up to let people grind their own grain, so we did, we then mixed it with water "baked" it on an iron plate over a fire. That was just enough of a snack to whet our appetites (since we didn't grind much each), so we bought some bread dough, which we wrapped on sticks and toasted over the fire (and they also bought sausages to toast).

After that we checked out one of the dug-out boats and went for a quick paddle, then on to the Iron Age settlement, where the kid went down into the clay pit and dug out a good sized handful of clay to take home and make more stuff. By that point it was getting kind of lateish, so we went back to the pottery building, collected the things we had made, and they also bought a to-go kit of more clay and a nice polished stone for smoothing the items when they are slightly dry. They also provided instructions on how to fire them in an oxygen poor environment, by putting them into a metal box (like for cookies) with some newspaper, putting a small hole in the lid, and then putting the box into a fire. Apparently this will give a nice black finish to the items, but if you prefer red do it without putting a lid on the box.

On Sunday mom and I and her cousin went to the museum in town and saw the section that goes from the early stone age through to viking times. It was cool to see Egtved girl's clothes in person after reading about them so many times over the years.

On Monday morning we flew back to Sweden, and rather than going in to work that afternoon I devoted the rest of the day to washing everything I had taken with me (save for the clay bowl, which needs to dry for a week before we try to fire it). Sadly (and unbeknownst to mom and I before we went), my cousins smoke. While they were kind and didn't do it in the house while we where there, it is clear that they normally do, and everything reeked after a long weekend in their home. Sigh. And they are such delightfully good company otherwise, too.

The work week flew by, with lots to do at work, choir Tuesday evening (mom came along and enjoyed it), Wednesday evening I made a Shepard's pie for dinner (and a second one to have available for road food this weekend), Thursday we went to armouring night, and Friday mom and I participated in a gaming convention [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar went to an obligatory work social event).

My mother has never done anything in the role-playing category of games before, but she is a very talented public speaker and an avid reader, so I thought she would have fun, and she did. The game we played was The Daughter's of Verona, where the players are all actors in a Shakespearean comedy. We make up the story as we go, keeping to a formula of what broad categories of things have to happen in each act.

Because there were two people who are brand new to role playing games in our group we started with warm up exercises: first we each in turn made a statement of something which isn't true (e.g. the sky is green), then we each made a statement about ourselves that isn't true (e.g. I am 6'3" tall). Then our host explained how the turns of the game work, with each of us taking turns to set a scene (e.g. Act 1 scene 1, A Message Arrives, setting: an Inn). Whomever sets the scene announces who enters the stage, then speaks the first line, and the rest of the players respond. He then gave an example, wherein in entered one of his own characters, and then one of my mother's, and he spoke a line to her. She then replied, in character, with a voice filled with stage presence and good projection, and I could see him visibly relax, as he discovered what I already knew--my mother is a natural for such games!

As with every other time I have played this game it was much fun, there was much laughter as weird plot twists kept presenting themselves. I strongly recommend this game, it is so entertaining.

On Saturday we went on tourist adventures, taking mom on the same look we took [livejournal.com profile] aelfgyfu on when she was here this spring--to Storeforsen to see Europe's largest rapids, then on past the Arctic Circle to the town of Jokkmok, where mom did some shopping at the tourist shop there, and finally home. This morning we caught up on some much needed housework, and soon we will head to Gammelstad, where we will have a little time to look at the church town before we take mom to the first session of Folk music for the season, followed by folk dance.

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