kareina: (Default)
Well, not that spur of the moment, since I won't fly till a month from now, but it took perhaps 20 minutes from deciding to go to having the flights booked.

I will be heading south to see my friend M, who lives in Uppsala, the weekend of 12 February. Means I will miss the Frostheim annual meeting, but that was the time that worked for M.
kareina: (stitched)
Before heading to Italy at the beginning of the month I kind of wished the trip wasn't on the calendar, since we were having beautiful winter weather, and with C. just having moved in, there would be lots to do at home. As it turned out that beautiful winter weather lasted just till it was time to come home, and then we had a couple of weeks with temps above freezing during the day, and below at night, which resulted in a very icy driveway, but the ice over the walkway was easily chopped away, so that has been bare paving and cobblestones for a while now. The first part of this holiday weekend we were given nice weather again--below freezing, and a fresh dusting of snow to brighten up the world. Not that much of our snow had gone yet--only the part of the yard right up next to the house has melted enough to show the grass.

But what about the part about C's moving stuff in? They did, of course, accomplish some of it while I was gone, but there was plenty more to do after I got back. Not necessarily in this order:

We put her bed, which is a Queen-sized IKEA bed which easily lifts up to reveal storage underneath, in our bedroom upstairs, and we put the King-sized memory foam mattress upon which we had been sleeping on top of the old Queen-sized bed downstairs, after building it a shelf extension to support the extra width of mattress. Should we ever have lots of houseguests at one time, we can take it off again and put it on the living room floor, and some can sleep in the guest room on that bed, while others take the living room.

We moved the bookshelves to the living room, and added her books into the mix, and we put up her nice set of IKEA shelves in the office as project shelves. Her plants have covered every available window ledge (and one, which wants much less sunlight, lives on top of one of the living room speakers).

We went through all of her kitchen stuff and, when her items were either unique or better than the equivalent we already had, her item went into the kitchen cupboards, and ours went either into storage, the get rid of pile, or the "stuff she will take with her when she heads south for that 4-month summer job" pile, but when we already had something in that niche that was better than hers, ours stayed in the cupboards, and hers went into one of the above piles.

And much more--this being a holiday weekend we have been making good progress. However, I won't be available to help for the rest of it, so it is good that we have come so far along in the project. I have just heard from O. His grandmother's health has taken an abrupt turn for the worse, so he and I will be driving over to Finland tomorrow morning to see her, and staying there till Monday.
kareina: (me)
Monday: A walk in the morning, followed by taking the train home from Narvik (seven hours). The first half of the trip I had a delightful conversation with a Scottish woman on her way to Kiruna. Got home just before 18:00 and spent several hours shoveling the snow that had accumulated while we were out of town ([livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar was in Göteborg helping C. pack up her stuff for the move up here), and then stayed up way late visiting with O.

Tuesday: Work, followed by Phire practice. (Acroyoga! Including standing on other people's shoulders, and even being a human barbell for our strong man to pick up from the ground and over-head press.) Followed by choir.

Wednesday: More snow shoveling, followed by work, followed by meeting my personal trainer at 13:00 to get a new work out, followed by more work, then meeting E. for aerial silk training. We do this at the uni gym, in the room one can book for badminton, and one books for an hour at a time. When our hour was nearly up the people who had booked next started arriving, and they didn't want to play badminton either, they were going to do fencing, and didn't mind us hanging from the ceiling in the corner, so said we could stay. Our choir president, who went with us to Finland for the SCA event last month, was one of the fencers. So, of course, I had to point out to him that there will be SCA fencers at the event in Skellefteå in a couple of weeks, if we wants to join us for that. I wound up staying up too late that evening too, chatting over FB to my friend H. in Umeå about Tolkien's elvish language, which he encourages me to study. (It is, in fact, interesting, but I am not certain when I am going to add in time to study anything just now.)

Thursday: Work, the laser Technician returned to do the other repair he noticed needed to happen when he was last here, but didn't have the parts at the time. He was done around lunch time, so I dropped him in Gammelstad so he could do some sightseeing before his flight, and I went home for a much needed nap. Then shoveled more snow, and then went to the Frostheim Social night, where my apprentices helped me drape a pattern for a set of Thorsbjorg trousers (3685), because I thought they would make good jester trousers for our acroyoga performance at the SCA event in a couple of weeks. (They had been included in the slide show at the talk in Norway, and that inspired me to want a set. Of course I had seen them before, but until I wanted something to wear that would be good for acroyoga, I hadn't thought of making some for me before). Thursday, despite staying up visiting with O. for quite a while, I still managed to get to sleep around 02:30, which was nearly two hours before [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and C. finally arrived home with the trailer full of everything she owns.

Friday morning we took it easy and had a leisurely breakfast, then around lunch time [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar dropped me and O. at uni so I could work and he could head home. (I normally have Friday's off, but since Monday was a travel day, I needed to work.) After work I went to the gym to do the new workout, which my trainer had finally sent me the pdf for that afternoon, followed by Phire training, including a bit of juggling, some acroyoga, some fan dance, and some aerial silks. It was a great turn out, and the gym was quite full.

Saturday was a laundry day, and I finished up the hardest part of the pattern: the feet. once I was happy with the whole pattern, I cut out the trousers in some blue/black/white/grey striped wool twill I bought years ago (when living in Italy) and started the assembly--three hours of hand sewing was enough to get the seat attached and both legs stitched shut (but not finished). Then I selected some leather from the scrap leather box and cut out the feet bottoms, but by then I was too tired to do more that night.

Today I did a small phone app workout, followed by pinning the leather feet bottoms to the trousers and sewing one of the feet on before it was time to meet E., O., and A. for more practice. She and I did acro yoga, and the boys practiced double staff stuff, taking breaks now and then when she and I wanted to try new/dangerous/tricky stuff and needed spotters to make certain she didn't drop me on my head or something. I need to work on more wrist strength stuff--getting from the bat pose (hanging from my hips from her upraised feet) to the side star (laying horizontally across her upraised feet), requires a fair bit of arm/wrist strength to push myself up into position. But so much fun! We have started deciding which poses we will use for the performance at the SCA event in Skellefteå in a couple of weeks, and my apprentice #2 will play La Belle pavane on her chalumeau (medieval clarinet) for background music.

This evening is folk dance, but we will be there a couple of hours early, because this is the week that we are going to do filming of all of the dances our teacher has choreographed, so that she will have a record, and so that people other places can learn them. For this reason C. won't be coming along, since she hasn't trained in those dances, and she wants to do more organizing of stuff, but she will normally come along to dance, I think.

Next weekend we might head to Umeå for the folk festival, depending on if they have recovered from packing and the road trip up from the south, and the following week I head to Italy for a week. The weekend after that is the event, for which we need the acroyoga routine ready, so we had better find time to practice between now and then.
kareina: (stitched)
I happened to glance at FB today at the right time to see a post from [livejournal.com profile] northernotter about the talk she will be doing on her hand-woven reproduction of the Skjoldehamn find next weekend. Clicking on the link reveals that the other speaker will be Lise Bender Jørgensen, who has published so many books on archaeological textiles. Of course I have to go!

So I have booked train tickets to Narvik for way too early next Friday morning, and then I will take a bus to Tromsø, spend the weekend there, see the exhibit, attend the talks, and then bus back to Narvik Sunday evening to catch the train home on Monday morning. Since I will be missing work that Monday I can work the following Friday to make up for it, so I don't even need to take a day off. Norway! Mountains! Textiles! I am looking forward to the trip.

This weekend's home improvement project has been prep work to consolidate our beds, in preparation for C moving in. When I first met [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar he was sleeping on a queen sized bed on a simple IKEA frame. It is a fine bed, and we slept on it for several years before deciding to buy the king sized memory foam mattress upon which we now sleep. When we bought the larger mattress we decided to move the old bed to the guest room, and we just put the mattress on the floor, where it has been working just fine. However, when C moves in she will be bringing her bed with her. It is a queen sized IKEA bed with a large amount of storage area under the mattress, which easily lifts up on some sort of spring-loaded pivoting system.

Since this will be more large beds than we have rooms to keep them in, we decided to double up our old and new beds into a single unit. Therefore we built an extension for our old bed frame that is the same height as the old mattress. Now we can put the king sized mattress on top of the old mattress + extension, and it will work just fine. Should we have lots of house guests at once, we can move the large mattress to the living room floor, and that will still leave the queen sized bed in the guest room.

And last, but certainly not least: Snow! Yesterday we finally got something resembling a decent snow fall! Combined with some pretty good winds, so this morning when we woke up we had some lovely snow-dunes stretching across our yard. It took me about 40 minutes to use the shovel to clear the path to the shed where the snow-blower lives, and then another hour for him to use the snowblower to clear the driveways, while I used the shovel to clear out the rest of the walkways, and tidy up some of the narrow little ridges of snow he left behind.

Of course I used the snow I shoveled to build up a little hill in front of the house, and after we were done I got out my sled and played on the hill a bit. So wonderful to finally have decent snow!

Now it is time to head to folk dance for the evening, so even if there were more to say, I have run out of time to say it...
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
After leaving the gym today I drove one of the girls over to the larger grocery store near which she lives. I had been considering heading over there anyway, since the little store near the uni does carry Turkish yoghurt, but it doesn't carry the ecological (or organic, if you live in the states) variety. The fact that she would benefit from a lift (since buses don't run very often on Saturdays here) decided me, and off we went.

While I was there I not only got the Turkish yoghurt, filmjölk, and ordinary milk we needed (and some fruit and veg), I also picked up a container of the "traditional", un-homogenized, milk, thinking it might be nice to make some cheese.

Therefore, just after 13:00 today I wandered into the kitchen, set some frozen svartvinbär (black currants) into a pot on the stove with water, and told it to warm up and simmer while I made cheese (since, if I am going to be in the kitchen for quite a while, I may as well accomplish more than one task).

Then I pondered what sort of cheese I wanted to make. Certainly one of the quick varieties--I wanted to be eating it within a couple of hours, not days or even weeks from now. I considered juustoleipä (known in Swedish as kaffe ost because it is a cheese traditionally served with coffee), the yummy Finnish cheese that I learned to make from the recipe my mother's aunt Sally provided, which involves rennet. My family always just called it "juusto", even though that part of the longer name only means "cheese", and applies to everything in the cheese family). I considered a basic soft cheese made by adding lemon juice to warm milk. I considered the Indian cheese paneer, which also uses lemon juice.

All three are good, but they have Very different textures and fill very different niches. I couldn't decide so I asked [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar if he had any input. Nope, none at all, he likes all three.

So I consulted a very old cheese, butter, and yoghurt making book that I inherited from my step father to see if anything in there turned out to be inspiring. Their soft cheeses all required a "starter", which involves heating milk and then leaving it sit for another day before using it. Nope. Not an option. I want my cheese, and I want it now.

However, the book did turn out to be inspiring, since in the section talking about the various ways to get the milk to curdle, it pointed out that liquid rennet loses its effectiveness with time. It has been a long time since I made jussto, so I decided that it might be smart to check and see if the liquid rennet I had in the fridge still works at all. And if it doesn't, we do have lemon juice.

Thus decided I pulled out the recipe )

Now, I didn't have 8 quarts of milk, I bought only two liters (which is kinda similar to 2 quarts), and I don't have rennet tablets, only liquid rennet, which, it turns out, has a best by date of January 2013 (which means it has been even longer than I thought since last I made cheese). So I did some modifications. I went to pour in a bit of rennet, and it gushed out of the bottle faster than I expected. I thought out it, and the part about "two years past its best-by date", and poured in a bit more. Since I had only a little milk compared to my great-aunt's recipe, I used only a small amount of cornstarch, even less sugar, and only a bit of salt.

Now, every time I have tried to make juusto before there was never any "press with hands till water comes to top" possible, as the curds were small and scattered--any attempt to press them caused them to separate, and my hands to sink in between them. Therefore I have needed to resort to pouring the liquid through a cheese cloth to catch the cheese. However, it always tasted good, so I just coped. This time, on the other hand, it worked! Very, very soon after stirring suddenly the pot contained a whiteish cohesive blob, which, if gently pressed with hands revealed the whey in which it was floating.

This meant that I didn't need to use a cheese cloth at all. Instead, at first, I just used a ladle to gently push down on the mass of cheese and let the liquid pour into the ladle. Once I had gathered somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of a liter of whey that way it became hard to use the ladle. So at that point we poured everything into a deep baking pan, set a mostly flat (it has a slight rim at the edge) baking pan over it, and gently tipped it to let the liquid pour out of the corner of the pan. This was a kind of slow, and slightly messy process, that involved needing to switch which corner I poured from on a fairly regular basis, as the cheese blob worked its way to the corner and slowed down the pouring. Eventually I had more than a liter of liquid poured off, and the cheese blob was small enough that I could change out the large flatish baking sheet for a small (sandwich size) plate, which I could set only over the cheese and apply a bit of pressure to it, to get the last of the water out.

By the end of the process I think I had about 1.5 liters of whey, and a small blob of cheese the same diameter as the plate (~20 cm) and almost 1 cm thick. At that point I transferred the cheese to the plate long enough to wash the whey off of the deeper pan, then put the cheese onto it and popped it into the broiler.

When I took the milk off of the heat the second time I decided that since the front burner is so much better than the back one that I would move that svartvinbärsylt in progress to the front burner. However, once the cheese was in the oven I realized that while I had done the transfer, I had also turned the wrong knobs, so the berries were sitting and waiting on an off burner, while the other back burner was happily warming the room. Oops. Though, in hind sight, that was probably a very good thing, since I didn't have berries being done and wanting attention at the same time as I was dealing with the cheese. So I re-started the heat under the fruit, and then sat on the floor to watch the cheese so that it didn't over cook. As soon as it developed a few of the characteristic brown spots I pulled out the pan, set that flatish baking dish on top and flipped them over to transfer the cheese to it so I could broil the other side.

When it was done I transferred it to another plate, and set that outside on the porch (inside the wooden box we keep out there just so we can let food cool without being eaten by the neighbourhood cats or wild critters. By this time the berries were boiling again, so I stirred them (pausing only a couple of times to go get another bite of juusto, which is every bit as yummy, and squeaky, as it is supposed to be) and waited till enough water had cooked off.

As I was cooking the berries I considered the whey. I normally bake it into bread (and really yummy bread it is, too), but this time I am also considering making the Norwegian brown cheese from it. I looked on line, and it is made only by heating whey for a long time so that it caramelizes and the liquid cooks off, and then, when it is getting kind of thick, string in cream and continuing to cook till it reaches the desired consistency.

This is really tempting. However, most sources say that this process takes 4 to 6 (or sometimes even 12) hours to accomplish, and I had just spent 4 hours standing in the kitchen, and my legs were stiff enough. Besides I didn't think of this while in the store, so I don't have any cream in the house. Tomorrow is soon enough to decide if the whey wants to be bread or brown cheese (or both).

Tomorrow I need to head to uni to pick up a friend from the Student Choir Aurora around 13:00. We will first go purchase a second hand electric keyboard so that Aurora will have a keyboard of its own, which can live at uni, and we won't have to bring ours any more on the nights that the Uni one has been checked out by one of the other clubs (which happens fairly often). Then I will bring him back here so he can try on costumes before he travels with my apprentice #2 and I to the SCA event in Finland next weekend. That event is being held in conjunction with the Finnish Early music society, which is why the three of us are interested in attending. This will be his first SCA event, I hope he enjoys it.

But, since I will be out during the day, that means I have the option of buying cream on that trip, though when I would have time to use it thereafter, I am not certain.
kareina: (stitched)
I have four hours before time for the Frostheim meeting, which I will attend on my way to the airport to fly to Göteborg for the weekend. I ought to be using that time to get the house cleaned up so that my future self will want to come to it again. I am sitting at the computer. With luck this won't take long and the housework will still get done.

Yesterday morning I took mom to the airport. It has been great having her here. During her four weeks here we made it to the gym twice a week, so hopefully her physical therapist/doc/or whatever title they happen to hold who monitors her twice a week workouts back home will be pleased with her. I look forward to hearing if she has improved, stayed the same, or gotten better while on holiday. I hadn't been to the gym myself in many months, even though it is free to uni employees (so long as we go during business hours), so it was probably good for me, too. Not that I don't get a fair bit of motion into my days already, with my morning situps etc., evening yoga, and either biking or walking to work most days.

In addition to the gym we brought her along to nyckleharpa night twice, Finnish language class twice, choir three times, Frostheim social night 4 times, held a bbq here for her the first weekend, took her to visit family in Finland the second weekend, to an SCA event in Sundsvall the third weekend, and to visit [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's parents at their beautiful new farm the final weekend. In between she found plenty of time to read her way most of the way through Katherine Kerr's Devery books, so I think she was well entertained. She can rest when she gets home and "all" she has to do is play chauffeur to the grandchildren there.

We, on the other hand, can rest when we are dead, apparently, since this weekend's plan includes a Folk Dance on Friday, SCA event on Saturday, and opera on Sunday. We will fly home on Monday morning early enough to go straight from the airport to the office.

Oops, the alarm just went off to say the washer should be done, so I guess I will go hang up the clothes, and do that vacuuming that wants doing--those dust bunnies are getting scary.
kareina: (stitched)
Thursday: Attend the normal SCA/Frostheim gathering at the university campus at 18:00. Leave there and drive to K & H's house just south of Umeå (a nearly 4 hour drive, so we will be getting there kind of late).

Friday: Drive from there to Sundsvall, stopping at Skulleberget along the High Coast for a short adventure. We need to be in Sundsvall by 13:00, but from K & H's house it should only be a 2.5 hour drive, so even with the adventure it should be doable.

Saturday: Teach embroidery workshop at the SCA Glöta Gillet event.

Sunday: return home, with stops along the way at Skulleberget (because, mountain!) and K & H's house (because she probably wants to go home, and she is coming with us to the event).
kareina: (stitched)
Edited to add a photo )
The Luleåhembygsgille (folk music, dance, etc. group) went as a group to Kalottspel, a folk music gathering in Målslev, Norway (around half way between Narvik and Tromsø) this weekend. Eighteen of us did the 10.5 hr bus drive together, and another met us there, preferring to take his own car and arrive earlier. We had a very good mix of ages--three young children, a couple of teenagers, and adults ranging from probably twenty-something to likely sixty-something. Gender balance, on the other hand, wasn't really present. Two of the kids were boys, and three of the adults in the bus were men.

As to be expected on such a trip, the journey was part of the fun. We gathered early for a 06:00 departure from Luleå, which meant that I had risen at 03:30 so as to have time for a brief workout and packing the little ice-chest before the taxi came to take me to the meeting place.

Like some of the others, I took a nap for the first portion of the trip--I have seen that part of the highway before, and wanted to be awake when we reached the mountains. We did a couple of short stops early on to pick up people who live an hour north of town then stopped in Kiruna for a lunch break, so the driver could have his mandatory one-hour rest break.

The others all went to a restaurant with a buffet, but whilst it would have been nice to join them for the company, I didn't see anything on offer that I wanted to eat, and I had lots of yummy food with me, so I waited at the bus (such restaurants usually don't care to let you in if you don't pay, so I didn't even ask).

Kiruna is located along the eastern edge of the Swedish mountains, so from there the drive becomes even prettier. Much to my delight, soon after leaving Kiruna a bunch of us broke into song, giving me a perfect mix of lovely sights to see out the window and sharing one of my favourite activities with others. We sang many Swedish songs I already knew (or had at least heard before), and many more that were new to me.

We arrived at the site just before 17:00, which gave us time to settle in and pay for courses before the evening concert. Our home for the weekend was a conjoined pair of school classrooms, obviously for little kids, judging by the books and toys available. One of the rooms had a small loft, which I claimed for my nest--it was just big enough for my camping mat on the diagonal, with my bag of stuff in the corner. Luckily it wasn't a hot weekend, or the loft might have gotten too warm, since there was no openable window at that level. But it turned out to be a perfect place for me to sleep, even if it wasn't tall enough to sit fully upright.

As it turned out I had too much stuff. I had been expecting something like our Spelmanstämman, which is held mostly outdoors, and open to the public (for an admission fee, of course), with performances all day and even some craft booths. Instead it was more like our trettondag kurser (13th day courses), with workshops during the day, concerts in the evening, and folk dancing all night, but all indoors. So I didn't need my folk costumes nor did I need most of the other warm clothing and rain gear I had brought. On the other hand, I could have brought my hammer dulcimer, which I wouldn't have wanted along at an outdoor thing, but would have been find to have in the classroom we called home.

Friday evening's concert was three guys who were really good (I bought their CD). Two had a relaxed performance style that included a normal level of audience interaction, but the guitarist played with his eyes closed and really focused on what he was doing. Especially for the song he did as a solo (which he afterwards said wad mostly improvised on the spot) it felt almost like an invasion of his privacy to watch him doing something so personal, but oh, did it sound fabulous!

Friday evening's dance was held at a small hall a few kilometers away, so there was a small buss available to transport people back and forth. I danced every dance for the first two hours, then was both getting sleepy and having more problems finding people to dance with as everyone who wanted to dance were already on the floor, and the others seemed to be there just to watch, judging by their refusal when asked to dance. Therefore, when I saw the bus about to depart with the kids who had been the musicians for one of the early dance sets, I took the chance and went back to the school and got some sleep.

Saturday morning I had time to take a walk and enjoy the views to be had in a broad Norwegian valley with a meandering river surrounded by a nice mix of farmland and forest, and even a couple of grass-roofed houses. Then it was time for the workshops—some of us went to dance, others music, and five of us went to the workshop for Norwegian folk songs. We made up the bulk of the class—the only other people in the room were the teacher and a Norwegian woman she obviously already knew.

The format for the class was that the teacher would sing a song, then I took a photo of the lyrics from her print out, and while I looked at the photo and copied out the text by hand onto a blank sheet of paper the teacher read the text out loud for the others to hand-write their own version (the teacher is a firm believer in the fact that one remembers better if one writes it out oneself). During that part she also clarified the meaning of words as needed. For the most part a Swedish speaker can communicate just find with a Norwegian, each speaking their own language, but some words differ quite a bit.

Then she would sing the song again, one phrase at a time, and we would echo the phrases. Then she would sing the harmony and a couple of us would learn that. Finally we would sing the song through together a number of times before we all took out our phones or other recording devices to record the whole song so we could listen to it and remember it later. This approach doesn't give time to learn many songs (we did only two), but it does increase the odds of us remembering the songs. Perhaps it might have gone faster if most of the students were Norwegian instead of Swedish and they could have skipped the part where we discussed the meaning? I don't know.

Then we had some time to relax before the evening concert, and we decided that our group would contribute a performance of handskarna du gav mig,one of the songs we had sung on the bus during the drive over, so we spent some time practicing that, and deciding how best to blend the singing with the bass and clarinet playing. The concert started with the traditional allspel (everyone plays), and our group was the fourth act. It is tough to say from the stage how it sounded to the audience, but it sounded really good from where I was standing. I really enjoyed most of the concert, which had enough acts that there was in intermission before the last few. The last act of the evening, however, had the sound turned up way too loud—at first I simply turned off my hearing aids (which is enough to let me work in a workshop with a variety of power tools running with no discomfort), but then the volume rose again, and I was forced to also try covering my ears with my hands. When even that didn't help I gave up and left the room. Our class room was right across from the performance room, and even with the door shut the hand full of us who had left the room because the noise was too much for us, could still hear some of the sounds from the speaker system. I wasn't surprised that I wasn't the only one who fled from the high volume, but I was surprised how many stayed.

After the concert it took just over a half an hour to clear the chairs out of the way to create a dance floor, and once again I danced every dance for the first two hours. At which point I was once again feeling sleepy, and, once again, hit a point where everyone willing to say yes to dancing was already on the floor. Therefore, once again, after getting a number of "no"s in a row, I gave up and returned to my loft for some sleep. I am told that for those people willing to sit and talk for a bit before getting up and dancing again that the dancing went on all night. The teen girls in our group tell me that they stayed up all night, then had breakfast and packed up before boarding our bus home. I don't recall being able to do that at their age—I have always been too fond of sleep to miss out entirely.

The only thing on Sunday's schedule was the trip home, which was a lovely mix of singing songs and enjoying the views, interesting conversations, taking naps, and reading. We again stopped in Kiruna for a long break, but we did fewer other stops, so we were home pretty much exactly 10 hours after we departed.

I was pleased that I managed to do so well speaking Swedish all weekend. Before the journey started the man who organized the trip told me "Du få inte prata engelska på bussen, bara svenska!", and indeed, I did manage to carry on conversations only in Swedish for both bus trips, and more than 90% of my conversations on site. I did revert to English a few times, and not only to speak with the woman who attended the event from Germany and couldn't speak Swedish or Norwegian, but it felt good to actually be able to participate in normal, every-day conversations in Swedish, and not just with the two people who normally speak Swedish to me.
kareina: (stitched)
Work this week wasn't expected to be easy--lasers, at least the kind we have, are meant to be used regularly, and really need to be fired every two weeks in order to stay in prime working condition. I have just had two weeks off of work, which means that the laser wasn't fired during that time. So it wasn't surprising that I needed to do a gas exchange first thing on Monday, because the old ArF gas that has been siting in the chamber ready to fire the laser has gotten stale, or whatever happens to it to make the laser need a lot more power put into it to generate the same amount of laser energy. Neither was it surprising that even after the gas exchange I couldn't get a good performance report on Monday, or even Tuesday. However, by Wednesday morning things had settled in, and I got a passing performance report and ran our "check standards" lab book, just to get more data points as to how our system is performing.

This morning I expected I might try running some other sort of analysis, but it wasn't meant to be--the vacuum pump in the next room was off, which meant that there was no vacuum in the ICP unit, which meant that the plasma wouldn't turn on. We have no idea why it was off--as far as my colleague B and I know, no one turned the pump off. When we tried turning it on with the switch on the side of the pump nothing happened. So we went back into the lab itself and turned off the main power switch on ICP-MS unit (into which the vacuum pump is plugged). After waiting 20 to 30 seconds we turned it back on, and this time the vacuum pump started up. After a bit of a wait it did its job enough that the green light came on, saying that the system had achieved the vacuum and was good to start.

Sure enough, at that point the plasma started just fine, but when I tried to run a performance report I got a new error message "Analyzer Pressure too high". Not having seen this one before I promptly wrote an email to the service people explaining all of the above, and asking what we need to do next, and spent the rest of the work day trying to catch up on the various emails sent to me while I was on vacation.

On the bike ride home I was delighted to see a work crew out, removing the curb from the center portion of the road which the bike path has been meant to cross. We cyclists have been having to drive around those curbs ever since they got the path mostly in last autumn. They were taking out the one closest to Uni as I went past, so I paused to express my appreciation, and I asked if this meant that the path itself would soon be paved. The guy who spoke to me didn't know the schedule for the paving, but I still think it is a good sign. They had already done the one where the path crosses a road just before the turn off to my neighbourhood, and it was a pleasure to just pedal straight across that road, rather than having to detour around the curb.

Since the paint is now dry on the upstairs shed window frame I had taken down to re-paint I tried to put the window back. Since I was working on my own I got it out by unscrewing the hinges with one hand, whilst holding the window (which was open and hanging out over the drop to the ground) with the other. Luckily, the hinges sat fairly tightly into their carved recess in the frame, so the window didn't try to fall while I was still dealing with the screws, but instead had to be plucked out of the groves when the last screw was out. However, I knew that putting it back wouldn't be so easy. Therefore I decided that it might be smarter to first screw back the part of the hinges that attach to the window frame, and then put the window onto the hinges. However, I failed to take into consideration the fact that once on the hinge the window exactly fits into the opening. Therefore it isn't actually possible to lift the window high enough to put the hinge back together when half of it is on the window, and the other half in the frame. Oops. And I had come up with such a good idea of wrapping a length of nylon webbing around the window to give me a good handle and make it less likely to be dropped in the process. At that point I gave up, left the hinge half screwed to the window frame till [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar gets back and there is one person to hold the window and another to drive the screw driver.

I have spent most of the evening getting ready for tomorrow's journey to Norway. I had packed clothes and dance shoes on Monday, but tonight I did more food prep of things to take with me, packed toiletries, do laundry and other house work so that the place will be nice to come home to, etc. Since I had just enough yoghurt left for one serving of muesli I decided to pick some smultrons (wild strawberry) to go with it, and I would have one extra yummy breakfast ready to eat on the road tomorrow (and the others will be my normal water on the muesli). However, this time, whilst picking the berries I was inspired to actually rip away the tall grass and other plants that have been growing over the rest of the smultrons (I had gotten the part that is easy to reach from the alleyway to the earth cellar a couple of weeks ago, just as the berries were first starting to come in). Today's reward was way more berries than I expected to find under all that growth--nearly a full cup of tiny, sweet berries! Yum!

It isn't yet 8pm, but I probably ought to do my yoga so that it is done when the last load of laundry comes out of the machine, then I can go to bed early--I have my alarm set for 03:30 so that I will have time to do my morning work out before I go, and actually get the food out of freezer and fridge and into the soft ice-chest before my taxi arrives at 05:20. The bus doesn't actually depart till 06:00, and it shouldn't be more than 5 or 10 minutes from here to the meeting point, but I didn't want to be late, which is why I gave it a full 40 minutes. Then I can sleep on the first part of the drive, so that I wake up on time to enjoy the mountains as we get to Norway. Have I mentioned recently how much I miss mountains? They are really the only thing that Luleå lacks to be perfect.
kareina: (stitched)
I just saw a link to a great article on the Known World Dance Event in Germany we recently attended. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I even show up in the background of one of the photos dancing in the streets.

Today we finally finished the final step on creating a cover for the trailer we are borrowing from his little brother-it has a frame made of scrap timber, walls and sides of sheets of one of those not-plywood, yet made from wood bits things for which I don't actually know the name, and a top made of a very sturdy tarp. I have painted our coats of arms on the side--not grand art (one doesn't get that when using spray paint on an irregular surface, with not much time available), but it is certainly recognizable heraldry, and at 80 km it will look fine. We also ran a bead of silicon sealant around the join between the tarp and the frame, so it should stay dry in there, even if it rains.

We are mostly packed and organized--just the food, toiletries and a few other little odds and ends to gather and pack. Sometime after he gets home from work the three of us can load up and go. We are planning on starting driving late tonight, stop for a few sightseeing adventures on the way, visit his big brother at his new house in Uppsala, and probably arrive on site sometime earlyish Saturday. This plan is, of course, subject to change without notice.
kareina: (me)
Back in November, when the funding was approved for me to do the trip to Australia in February for a one week conference, followed by a week of training at the CODES LA-ICP-MS laboratory I sent in an application for a new Australian passport. My old one hadn't expired--it still had several years left. However, it was in the old spelling of my name.

My Swedish resident visa came with a note saying that in order to re-enter Sweden if I leave I need to be traveling with a passport that shows the same name as the visa. According to Australian law, an Australian citizen may not enter Australia using a passport+/-visa from any other country. Therefore, I needed to update my passport to show the new name--never mind that the change was one single letter (e to i) in my first name.

Not too long after I sent in my application I got a call from the Australian embassy in Stockholm, saying that there was something wrong with the passport photos--they looked like they had little white dots on them--rather like they had been put into an envelope before dry and got stuck and then pulled free. This is a feature I hadn't noticed before sending them, but one can't argue in these situations, one simply tries again. Since the call was late in the day--to late to go into town to the passport photo place, I decided to try on our own. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had recently obtained some free photo paper for laser printers, so we took a photo, scaled it to the correct size and printed new photos, and I express mailed them the next morning.

Got a call a few days later saying they didn't like the quality of those photos--the colour balance wasn't right. So I went into town and paid for a new batch of passport photos, and sent them in. By then it was 15 December, and I was getting a bit concerned, since I knew that we were coming up against the holidays, when nothing gets done in Sweden, probably not even at the Australian Embassy.

I didn't hear back from them after that, so last week I called them to ask if they ever got those photos, or if I need to try again. Got the answering machine, and also sent an email. They replied to the email saying that they got the photos, the photos are fine, but now there is a problem with the paperwork showing that my name had been changed. While I had, according to the instructions I had at the time, had that paper notarized, it turns out that what it actually needed was an "apostille".

This email arrived on Thursday evening, and I did the research to discover that "apostille" is a service that is only available in Sweden at a notary public (so I had been in the right place, but got the wrong service back in November). In the Luleå area there is one law firm with does this. Their web page said that the notary service is available at the Boden branch on Friday mornings from 09:00 to 09:30, or at the Luleå branch on Monday mornings between 09:00 and 10:00.

Luckily I don't work on Fridays, and hadn't had anything planed, so bright and early the next morning I got up and drove to Boden. Normally this is about a half an hour drive, but that night it snowed some wet, heavy snow, and the trip took a full 45 minutes. I arrived at their office at 09:05, to discover the door was locked. So I called [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, who looked at their web page, confirmed that they were supposed to be here for notary service from 09:00 to 09:30, and gave me their phone numbers. I called them, and the guy who answered said "yes, usually on Friday mornings, but not this week". Sigh. I asked him what I could do, since time was of the essence, and he suggested I try calling the Luleå branch, since he was busy.

So I went into town and to the tax office (which is the branch of the government that does the name change), and got a new stamp on the copy of my name change form, showing that it is official, and while there stopped by the Luleå branch of the law firm. This office has a buzzer outside the door, and instructions for visitors to type a code. I did, and when she answered I explained (in Swedish) that I need an appostile. She told me that they do that on Mondays between 09:00 and 10:00, and I asked if she was certain they would be there then. She assured me they would be, and I went home and tried to be patient.

I had a lovely weekend, despite the underlying stress about not being able to move forward on the passport paperwork, and bright and early Monday morning I went in to town. This time the lady buzzed me in, and I sat down to wait. I had planned to read something for work, but they had a kid's book on the table that looked interesting, so I started reading it instead. In the time it took to be my turn, and then in the time it took the attorney to take away my form and add apostile stamps (in both Swedish and English, for good measure), I managed to read 17 pages of the book, and wanted to know what happened next.

Once I had my paperwork I went straight to the office, scanned the form so I could email it to the Embassy to give them a chance to check and be certain it was ok before the paper one, which I expressed mailed, could get there. Then I checked the uni library web page, and determined that yes, the book I had started was available. So, of course, I went straight to the library and checked it out. (The link goes to the English version of the book, since most of my readers don't do Swedish.)

This week has slipped quickly by, with continued sewing on the dress in progress, work, time hanging out with friends, dance (but we missed choir, since [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar hadn't completely recovered from his cough that he has had since just after Christmas). I managed to finish the book on Friday, but didn't manage to get to the library to get the next one in the series, so that will have to wait till Monday.

Today I got an email from the Embassy—my passport has been produced, and it should reach them in Stockholm by the middle of next week. I don't actually fly till the middle of the following week, so, if all goes well with the transport thereof, I should get it on time. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

yum!

Sep. 26th, 2014 12:40 pm
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
This weekend we are heading to Sorsele (about three or four hour drive: inland and one river valley south) to attend their Folk Music and Dance Week 25 Year Jubelie We went a couple of years ago as part of a group from the local folk music and dance group, a bunch of us in a rented van, and had a great time. This time we will be staying with one of our favourite people from SCA and Larp. This is her home town, and we will be staying at her parent's cabin.

Since we have a road trip and a weekend with lots of stuff on I decided that I would convert leftovers into easy road food.

saffron/rice/almond oven pancake recipe )
leftover soup lasagna )Yum! I was really happy with how both of them came out, and both will be good eaten cold out of the ice box whenever we get hungry.

Now I need to do some packing so that we are ready to go when he gets home from work. Tonight's program has an interesting thing on at 21:00, so if we can get an early enough start we can attend that.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
On Wednesday I managed to finish the last of the revisions to my paper that the reviewers suggested and emailed it off to my co-author. He had already warned me that he would be traveling all last week with poor internet access, so he wouldn't be able to look at it before Monday, so this meant that I got the rest of the week off. (It says something about Academia that in a summer when I am technically unemployed I am still working so many hours that I revel in 2.5 days off.)

I celebrated the time off by returning to the various outdoor home improvement projects that have been neglected the past few weeks. Thursday I managed to level out the pile of dirt [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had dumped in the area that will, probably next summer, become the home of the new shed we bought last autumn and haven't had time to put up. This is an area next to the driveway that had sloped a fair bit, so earlier this summer he used the tractor to frame the space with some large rocks (0.5 to 1.5 m wide) and then dumped the load of dirt and rocks he got from a colleague's yard (said colleague was grateful that we were willing to use the tractor and huge trailer to haul it off at one go, saving him many, many trips to the dump with his tiny trailer) there and smoothed it out with the tractor. Then, while I was off in Norway he added another scoop (or more?) to the area, and the last load was dumped right at the edge of those framing stones, such that much of the dirt had fallen down the outside of them and obscured the lovely rocks from sight. Therefore I started Thursday morning by scooping up the dirt from the outside and carefully packing it into the spaces between the stones before tossing the rest of the excess into the center of where the shed will be. Then I raked all of the area between the stones to a reasonably level surface and used a little hand broom to clean off the outside of all of the stones. The area looks much better now.

After doing all of that I had some lunch, and made progress on my current book in progress. I had never read (or heard of) the English version, but the cover made it look like a fun read, and, indeed, now that the annoying character is out of the picture, it is, and I look forward to reading this one a second time, now that I know where the story is going, so I can look for details I missed on the first pass. I see that there are more books by the author about one of the other intriguing characters, so perhaps I will track them down some day.

Then I went back out and sifted rocks out of dirt to continue filling in the walkway to the earth cellar. That project is more than half done now, and it would be nice if it were completely done before the snow flies, so that the path isn't muddy during the spring melt.

I managed to get about three buckets of small rocks suitable for the walkway (and put larger ones aside for building the earth cellar). I used the sifted dirt for back fill behind the earth cellar walls, but the single wheelbarrow full of dirt didn't make any noticeable difference in depth of fill. Then I went in, played hammer dulcimer a bit, and did more reading.

Later, after [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar got home from work we built an extension to the series of A-frame/tripods we use over the earth cellar walls for hoisting rocks up and into place so that we can start work on the south wall of the cellar. However, since sun is actually setting these days, the light wasn't good enough to start using the frame to move rocks, so instead he brought up a load of dirt in the tractor scoop, and we started filling in gravel against the wall and dirt further out behind the walls that we have already worked on this summer. On the north side of the earth cellar the wall is now less than 1 meter below the surface of the yard, and we have filled in dirt behind that wall all the way to the top, so next spring we won't have the same problem with the sides of the pit eroding and falling in that we had this spring.

Friday he only had to work half a day (having been on call last week), so we took the opportunity to lower the next three large stones into the pit and into place where they will go on the wall. However, by the time that was done we had only a couple of hours before our friends from choir were expected for instrumental music night, so instead of concreting them straight away we opted to do a bit more dirt and gravel fill on the west and south side of the cellar, so now everything is as high as it can be till we do the next batch of concrete.

The plan for today is to do that concreting, bake the loaf of bread (full of whole cloves of garlic, which will roast to pockets of soft goodness in the baking) that is rising, and then head to Umeå (three hours south) for the 30th birthday party for two of our friends (twin brothers).
kareina: (me)
Just like every other holiday in Sweden, Midsummer is celebrated on Midsummer Eve, not the day itself. However, in our case the day started the day before that. On Thursday one of our (exchange student) friends from choir, came over for dinner for one last visit before he returns to Germany next week, and then we took him with us to the park in town where the Luleå Hembygdsgille (folk music and dance group) runs a Midsummer celebration, where we helped to wrap leaf covered branches around the midsummer pole thingie for the next day (I try not to think of it as a cross, so as not to be uncomfortable participating in someone else's religious ceremony).

Friday we got up early enough to unload the huge lathe he dad is lending us from the giant trailer (which we hauled here with the tractor on Wednesday, after having loaded it onto the tractor on Tuesday--remind me to post photos of the loading at some point if you are interested in seeing it). It now sits in the car port, awaiting our creating a concrete platform in the shed with a window for it to live upon.

Then we went to the Gillestuget (the little old school building in Gammelstad where the Hembygdsgille does folk dancing, meetings, etc.), and [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar loaded up a trailer of stuff to take to the park in town to set up the sound system for the stage there, and I practiced the day's dance program with the others. ([livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar used to do the dance performances on Midsummer too, but in recent years (and for as long as I have lived here), he runs the sound instead, saying it is a nice change from the dancing, and he thinks it is fun, too.)

After the trailer was loaded and the dancers were happy that we all know what we are doing, everyone sat down to a lunch of traditional Swedish food. As is usual when that is what is being served, there was not much on offer that I eat, since I don't care for fish and don't eat meat (other than the occasional wild game, which doesn't cause the same issues with my digestion as store-bought meat does), so all I took was a couple of tiny boiled potatoes, a couple of thin slices of cheese, a little bit of salad (lettuce, tomato, cucumber), and half a hard boiled egg. The tiny amount of food on my plate got comments from the others at our table, since they each took two to three times as many different items as I had taken. However, I rarely eat much at one sitting, since I prefer to spread my food intake more evenly across the day time hours, and I had food in by back pack for later, so it didn't worry me to have only a little. I did, of course, take plenty of strawberries for desert, with cream, when that was put out.

After lunch [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar departed with the trailer for town to set things up there, and our group, in our folk costume finery, gathered at the entrance to the open air museum at Hängnan (not far from the Gillestuget) and paraded in to the stage, musicians playing. We dancers left our baskets and bags on the stage behind the musicians and then we went out into the dense crowds (literally thousands of people gather in this park for Midsummer; some years it has exceeded 10,000) to do the traditional raising of the leaf and flower covered pole, which includes carrying it in a loop around the area and then standing it up in a hole in the ground, followed by dancing around it.

I am told that everyone in Sweden who is old enough to dance at all has participated in these dances--all families make certain that their kids get a chance to do the dances around the midsummer pole, whether at a large celebration like this one, or at a private one at someone's summer cottage, and everyone knows the songs well enough to sing along. At our celebration the musicians play the traditional songs and a group of us join them on stage to sing the words into microphones, while the rest of us lead the dances around the pole (I, of course, was with the dancers). The dances all fall into the category of "mimed dances", which is to say there are hand motions. For one we play the part of bunnies, horses, and elephants, and use our hands to show the relative size of each creatures ears, tails (and trunk!), for another we mime playing musical instruments, and a third involves leaning one way and another ("hit" and "dit"). The sequence of dances takes a good 10 to 20 minutes all told, and is fun, and the part of the crowd closest to the pole, which contains lots and lots of children, and a few adults, all dance with us, and everyone sings.

Then we moved over to the stage for a folk dance performance, and as soon as that was done we went to town and did it all again at the park there, for the much more reasonably sized crowd there (probably still more than 1000 people, but the people density was better).

For the second performance, since there was more room to move in town, we added in a promenade dance involving as many people from the audience as we could persuade to join us, doing all of the traditional patterns of couples splitting up, coming back together, reversing the line to walk under the arch of joined hands of the couples following, splitting the line into two by alternating couples going either left or right around the dance area, and then joining back together in groups of four, and again in groups of eight (I have done this with the dance group in Australia, and at the end, when everyone is lined up in groups of eight across the room, they followed it with a pattern dance that needs dancers to be in groups of eight--a great way to start an evening of dance).

However, on this occasion, the groups of eight was the last set in the figure, and marked the end of the dancing for the day. Therefore, we all helped [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar load all of the sound equipment and other items back into the trailer, and he and I took it back to the Gillestuget to unload. Then we returned to our house, where his parents (who had joined us at the park in town for the performance) joined us for coffee and to see what all we have accomplished in the way of home improvements since their last visit.

Then we were both tired, and [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar wasn't feeling so good, so we went to bed early (21:30!), which meant that I was awake and doing my morning situps at 04:30 today. This is good, because it gives me plenty of time to accomplish a few things before I fly to Copenhagen later this morning, where I will participate as one of the panelists in the session "New concepts of mobility to foster career development and gender balance in Europe" at the Euroscience Open Forum. This session is sponsored by the Marie Curie Fellowship Association. They asked me to participate in it since I had done so much work for the booklet of role models for mobility of women scientists that we put together a coupld of years back.

I never really liked the idea of traveling to a city at midsummer, when I could be home in my nearly country setting working on the earth cellar, but they managed to talk me into participating anyway, since they cover the travel costs to get there. So I fly down today, and will arrive around 15:00. My cousins, who live in Denmark, will pick me up at the airport, we will drop my stuff at their place and relax a bit, then I will head to the conference venue for a meeting with the other panelists at 17:00, then back to my cousin's house to hang out with them for the evening. Tomorrow morning we have the conference session, and then in the evening I fly home again. I am looking forward to seeing what [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar does with the tractor while I am gone, now that we finally have it here.
kareina: (stitched)
I am delighted to report that the weather has taken a major turn for the better. Instead of those dreadful days of +3 C we had for most of Christmas week, I am delighted to report that the weather has taken a major turn for the better. Instead of those dreadful days of +3 C we had for most of Christmas week, which meant huge amounts of snow melting, puddles forming, and roads and "walkways" which were really wet, icy, slippery, and dangerous, and trees looking their worst as dismal brown twigs, we now have wonderful -10 C temperatures, which means that the ice is (mostly) no longer slippery, the trees are once again covered in beautiful white crystals, and, for the first time in days, I was inspired to actually go for a real walk into the forest. The improvement in weather has also improved my mood and energy levels, which is good, since I have lots to do today and tomorrow during the day before we take the night train to Lund (in far, far southern Sweden).

The timing of the improvement in weather amuses me: when I first heard about the 31st Nordic Geological Winter Meeting to be held in Lund in January my reaction was “ick, who wants to go that far south in January?” At the time I was fully confident that up here we would have perfect winter weather, with plenty of snow and temperatures ranging from -20 to -5 C, and no warmer, since that is what one normally has that time of year. I also expected that as far south as Lund (nearly, but not quite as far south as one can go without leaving Sweden) there would probably not be any snow and the temperatures would likely range between -5 and +10 C, which makes rain possible, and, if there is one thing I never, ever want to see again, it is a winter rain. Therefore I didn’t want to attend the meeting, but I signed up for it anyway, because I had so much fun at the Metamorphic Geology Field Symposium I attended back in August, that I wanted to attend the metamorphic session at the winter meeting, too.

Fast forward to this month, which, while it has had days of nice weather, snow fall, and temperatures below freezing, has also been plagued with warm days of rain, snow melting, and slippery roads. It finally got bad enough that I was, frankly, relieved, that we were planning on heading south—if it is going to be so damned warm it is better to have it that little bit warmer, so that there is no snow to melt, and any rain actually gets absorbed into the ground and the wet goes away. Yes, my first choice is to actually have proper winter, but if that isn’t possible, perhaps it is a good idea to leave home for a week, and not be depressed watching my beloved snow melt.

But today the temperatures are lovely, and the weather widget on my phone thinks that the temperatures will hold below freezing for at least the next four or five days, and I can’t help but think that, perhaps, I would rather stay home—if the weather is good I would rather not be away and miss it. Proper winter weather has been too rare in my life the past decade or so, and I don’t want to miss a day if it, if it is happening, now that I once again live far enough north to experience it.

Oh well, I am certain I will enjoy the meeting, I am looking forward to day-tripping 12th Night, and it will be nice to see [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors’s parent’s again. Our train departs tomorrow at 20:00, and I will fly home again after the conference on the 10th. If I don’t post between now and then you will know that it is a busy trip.
kareina: (house)
While we still had [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's dad's tractor here this summer one of the things he did was expand the parking area by the house, and level out the part of the yard that used to get deep mud puddles when it rained. In the process he unearthed a fair few medium sized rocks which got piled in a heap next to the parking area, and just left there. If they are needed for the earth cellar we can move them later, and if not we can use them for other landscaping, or, just have a pile of rocks. We haven't really paid much attention to that pile, other than adding to it now and then over the course of the summer's project time.

Today, when we got home we noticed that, in addition to rocks, there is also a coating of gravel on that pile. Gravel we didn't put there. Looking closer at it we see that mixed into that gravel is a bunch of maple leaves. We don't have any maple trees on our property. Looking around a bit more we could see tire marks from our tractor frozen into the dirt on the part of the driveway we have yet to spread gravel over, and on the part of the driveway leading up to the parking area, we could see tire marks from a very different tractor, with much different space to its treads. Therefore we know that whomever came into our yard and dumped gravel on our rock pile did so a at least couple of days ago, before the dirt froze.

What we don't know is who put it there, or why. We sure would have liked to have been here when they did, then we could have suggested that instead of mixing gravel with the rocks it would be better to dump it on the new part of the parking area, which could use some gravel...

In other news my calender is looking rather full the next few weeks. Not only is stuff still very busy at work, we will be doing lots on the next few weekends. This weekend it looks like we will host the party for the choir at our house. The following weekend we drive to Umeå (four hours south) for an SCA dance event. The weekend after that we drive to Skellefteå (two hours south) to help [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's little brother move to the new house they just bought. The weekend after that we might participate in another Lavj, and the one thereafter I fly to France to visit [livejournal.com profile] linda_linsefors.
kareina: (stitched)
The next North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles takes place in Hallstatt, Austria from 21 to 24 May 2014. This is where the fun Salt Mine Tour I posted about in 2010 is located. The NESAT program says there will be an excursion to the "salt mine and cemetery", and I am willing to bet that tour will be quite different, and probably more fascinating (including textiles?), than the standard tourist tour.

The next Double Wars, Drachenwald's largest camping event (which has a full food plan and rooms in cabins available, so international visitors need bring only garb and things they want do play with on site) is scheduled for 23 May to 1 June 2014. This means that anyone flying over from the states could easily attend all of NESAT, then head over to southern Sweden, spend a full week at Double Wars (missing the first two days of the event, but quite probably worth it) and then fly home out of Copenhagen (closest airport to site) or Stockholm (still close enough to easily get to by train).

Of course, the really keen could do NESAT, then Double Wars, then, assuming that [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's brother once again decides to take his huge motor home (that used to be a bus) down to DW (which he is thinking about), could do a luxury road trip to northern Sweden with us and visit me for a while...

Of course, this puts me in a quandary. Last time we did the bus to DW I didn't get to go along for the trip down, because I had to go to Cyprus for work, and I was really bummed about missing out on the road trip and first couple of days of the event. NESAT, on the other hand, is an adventure MUCH more to my tastes than the Cyprus trip, but damn it, the bus is such a nice way to do a road trip! Oh well, it is much too soon to be making such decisions. If my grant application isn't approved and I don't have funding and so am out of work I won't be able to afford NESAT anyway...
kareina: (BSE garnet)
One of my favourite Drachenwald SCA events is Double Wars, held for a week + 2 weekends every spring in southern Sweden. Last year I missed the first few days of the event because I had to do the Cyprus trip for work. This year we haven't yet decided which event(s?) we will be travelling to attend (events in northern Sweden a four hour drive from home or less don't count as "travel", but there are not so many of those), in part because of budget reasons (so far as the budget is concerned fewer long-distance events is a good thing), in part because of complications in coordinating [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's vacation time (his company, which does IT support for many other companies) has a policy wherein the summer is split in half, and have of the people take their holidays in the first half of summer, the other half takes theirs in the second half, and the following year they switch. This policy ensures that there is always someone on duty who can handle any computer repairs that come up. However, the big Drachenwald 20 year anniversary event happens to fall in the wrong half of the summer for [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar to be able to attend this year. It *might* be possible for him to trade with a colleague which half of the summer he gets off, if someone else also has a reason to want to swap, but there is no guarantee that he could find someone, and he was otherwise looking forward to having some time off in late summer this year to do mountain hiking.

Because of these questions we have been putting off deciding which event to attend. Double Wars is always fun, and since it is before summer he can, in theory, attend every year, since there are no restrictions on asking for time off then. 20-year would be fun, but see above for complications with respect to timing. Visby Medieval week is fun, and if he doesn't swap holidays it falls in the correct half of the summer. There are, doubtless, other events we would enjoy that aren't yet on this list. We want to travel to at least one big event this year, but it might be smart to limit it to only one for budget reasons, to say nothing of the fact that work has been in the "way too much to do and not enough time to do it" mode for a while now, so and attending long camping events will not help that one bit.

This week I have yet another complication come up. It turns out that the geologists at the mine have a meeting every 2-3 months, and the next meeting has the theme of "lithogeochemistry" (which is what my project is all about), and I have been invited to attend the meeting (which is actually held out at the mine site and not at corporate headquarters--I have not yet been to the mine site, and it would be good for me to see it) to present my work in progress. Sounds good, yes? However, the date of the meeting happens to fall in the exact middle of Double Wars. This means that either I would have to miss the event, or decide to attend only one weekend of it, or drive down to the event, leave Tuesday evening, fly back up north, attend the meeting on Wednesday, and then fly back down south to finish the event--a prospect that is both expensive and probably rather tiring.

When I was a child I used to hear people reply to questions of "are you going to ____, it will be fun!" with "I can't, I have to work", and I was grateful not to have a job, and hoped that I would never have one. Now it is my turn to realize that sometimes I should say "I can't, I have to work", and I find myself wishing that these schedule conflicts between personal and work lives didn't come up...
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)
We had a very nice, largely lazy weekend. We did host a couple of couch surfers from the Netherlands. A delightful young couple. Greeted them with a late lunch upon their arrival, took them out to Gammelstad to see the open-air museum and church village, then took them to the summer cabin of our folk dance teacher because they wanted to see the sea, since they are doing a journey around the Baltic, and the summer cabin is on the coast. While we were there I learned about Åkerbär, which they described as the world's most aromatic berry. They had a very small bucket full of them (the berries being very difficult to find and to pick), and let us try one each. Yum! I hope that when we find a house to buy the land has some of those growing on them.

On Monday morning I joined the rest of the full department (SBN, or Samhällsbyggnad och naturresurser, which translates to Civil, Enviromental and Natural Resources Engineering) departing for the town of Arvidsjuar for a "Kick-Off Retreat" to start the new school year by getting to know our colleagues. The retreat was listed as "mandatory", and 173 of us (of around 350) actually showed up. I know that at least some folk had good excuses--the PhD student across the hall from me and his wife are both in the department--she is one week over due with their second child, so they stayed home to keep waiting rather than attend the retreat).

The conference hotel is a full two hour's bus ride from our uni, and by the time we arrived my back, which had been feeling much better, was once again quite unhappy with me. So after the opening ceremony I checked with the front desk of the hotel, and yes, their spa does include massage. So I booked one. The soonest opportunity they had was at 14:00. My talk was scheduled for 15:00, so I booked a 50 minute massage. It helped. When first I lay down on the table my lower back hurt just laying there. By the time she was done it only hurt when she pushed on the sore muscles or I needed to move.

The down side of having trained as a massage therapist myself is that I tend to observe their technique and a running evaluation of their work runs through my mind. I opted not to give her feedback, because after the massage I needed to get dressed and head downstairs to give my talk straight away. But, having thought it out, I will share it with the lot of you. Perhaps someone somewhere, will benefit from it.

Her massage was in general good--she has a confidant touch, and a very reasonable pattern to her work--starting with the back and shoulders, progressing to the legs, and then working on the front of the legs and arms. However, in a normal massage I also like the feet and scalp/face/and neck worked on as well. (I suppose that it is possible that she does these normally, but cut them to give my lower back extra attention, since I had told her that was the problem area.)

But the thing that I found really disconcerting was her tendency to let go and walk away from the table to get more massage oil or another towel to cover my back when she moved to my legs, or to adjust the arm rests on the table before I turned over. (note: I hadn't seen a table with such arm rests before, I think I like it) When I was in massage school one of my teachers cautioned us to never let go of our clients while working. She suggested that we treat them like a horse--maintain a contact as you walk around their body so that they know where you are when they can't see you. If you need to get more oil keep the back of your hand against them while pouring oil into it with the other hand. I so agree with this logic! Every time she let go and walked away I wondered if she was done, already. That moment of confusion adds a bit of tension that takes some time to sooth back out when she returned to work. It would have been better if she kept the contact when she had to do other things. Sigh.

All in all I didn't think she did as good of a job as [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar does. Her work is clearly mostly a memorized pattern, slightly modified to suit the needs of the body she is working on. His massage is always based on "listening" with his fingers to see how the body is doing, where the knots are, and what needs work. He never gives the same massage twice. However, if the massage wasn't as good as what I could have had at home, still it was quite good, and had me feeling better enough to do my talk in comfort.

My talk seemed to go over fairly well. Since our department has everything from Architects to Scientists I aimed it at a general audience, and simply explained my project title, one small bit at a time, starting with "why 3D modeling", and then explaining every other phrase and ending with "how does one approach such a project,anyway?". My boss said it was well done, which I appreciate (and hope he remembers when it comes time to decide whether or not to renew my contract).

I enjoyed listing to many of the other talks. One which I found particularly interesting talked about using a cone filled with prisms to collect sunlight, then pipe it via fiber optic cables to be stored as heat and later converted to energy. The long term goal of the project is a system that can provide for all of the energy needs of a single home, with one cone and etc. Their test cone full of prisms collected the sunlight and concentrated it enough to burn holes in a bit of wood as soon as it was put into the path of the combined beam.

In the evening the instructed us to combine ourselves into groups based on the regions from which we come. I opted to join the "Asia and Oceania" group, both on the strength of my Australian passport and the fact that I lived in Japan till I was three. This meant that I was the only Australian and the only Japanese person in the group. Which is kind of surprising--our department is 43% foreign born. Our group had a large number of people from China, a bunch from India and from Iran, a few from other Asian locations, and me. After we were in groups we were instructed to come up with something to entertain people at dinner, preferably from our homelands. I decided as the token Australian I would stand on my head, since everything there is upside down compared to up here.

Therefore, when the department head opened the evening's entertainment by calling up the the group from China, who sang a song in Chinese, I followed and gave them my Australian/upside down intro and did a headstand. There was lots of very loud applause when I did it, and our department head gave me a hug and told me that she thought I was joking when I told her I would. From there we had offers of songs, stories and other bits of entertainment at random intervals for the rest of the evening, which made for a very enjoyable dinner. (Not that I was eating, of course. Dinner was scheduled to begin at 19:00, and I rarely, if ever, eat that late. Therefore the lady who organized the event had pre-ordered a plate for me served hours earlier--I had my meal in my room at 16:45, and was quite happy I did, since the food for everyone else didn't hit the table before 23:30.)

My back wasn't overjoyed with me for doing the head-stand, mind you, but between the massage, and the half an hour I spent in the sauna during the "relaxation" time before dinner it was mostly ok with me that night. Sadly, the bed was a bit on the soft side, and the pillows were dreadful polyester filled things that got me to complain on FB about my failure to bring one of my own feather pillows with me. I normally do bring at least one, but given the back issue I opted to keep my pack as light as possible this time, and regretted it. Luckily, I did bring my cloak in progress, so instead of having to use the dreadful polyester filled doona they hotel provided I took out the filling and used the doona cover as a sheet, with my cloak as a blanket, so at least the covers were nice.

Sadly, my back wasn't overly happy in the morning, and the bus ride home didn't help either, but once I was home I once again had access to massages from [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and the possibility of hanging from my hips from his upraised feet, which always helps my back feel better. So hopefully now that I am home the recovery will resume and I will soon be back to normal. I hope so, my exercise log is very disappointed with me this month, and it had been looking better than average before I hurt myself.

I have a week and a half to get it better before I fly to Stockholm, where I will meet my mother and then board a new plane to Copenhagen, where we will visit cousins who live there for the weekend before returning home for her visit here. She will be here for nearly a month, and I am looking forward to seeing her.

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