kareina: (stitched)
The last couple of days, when my friends in Alaska were complaining of -50 it has bee 5 degrees above freezing during the days. It has dropped below 0 Cat nights, so the melting isn't as bad as it could be, but still I wish we could just have a proper winter with snow that stays snow and doesn't melt and re-freeze into a lower harder crust. So far the record number of days in a row of temperatures below freezing this year is six days (in December the record was 11 days). This morning it is a lovely -7 C, but my phone says that it will be above 0 again in a couple of days. This makes several years in a row wherein winter has been replaced by winter-spring melting-winter-spring melting-etc.

But even if the weather isn't living up to my ideal, the rest of life is going well. Work is fun, Frostheim is fun (we had only three of us for this week's social night, but it was a delightful time chatting with them and making progress on the new pair of Thorsbjorg trousers I started at the workshop last weekend), choir is fun, Phire practice is fun, my love life is wonderful, and I am looking forward to dance starting back up on the weekend (it actually started last Sunday, but D & C were too tired after the costume workshop and I didn't want to stop sewing, so we didn't go.
kareina: (stitched)
My day started earlier than I had been hoping for, when I woke at 03:00 because that annoying pain between the shoulder blades that seems to only come while sleeping had returned (I had an issue with this back in 2014, but the exercises the physical therapist gave me cleared it up--it has started up again in recent weeks, so I have started trying to remember to do those exercises again). Therefore I got up and did some stuff for Norrskensfest (31 people registered, and still nearly two months to go before the event) and checked email before returning to bed at 06:00 for two more hours sleep.

The second time I got up I went in to the office, where I spent a busy productive day that kept me amused till it was time to head to Phire practice. Before practice I was feeling a bit tired, and considered just heading home, but my acroyoga partner, E., had sent me links to this video of a routine, and to this one, both of which looked both fun, and within reach of our current skill level, so we had to try them. I can report that we are NOT as graceful as the people in the two films. However, with a bit of help from our spotters we did manage both routines, for certain, generous definitions of the word "manage". We are both looking forward to playing more with these on Friday. We also had a couple of new girls, one of whom is so tiny that she doesn't even weight 50 kg (I am about 56), so I got to be the base for a change, which is a good thing to practice so as to make me a better flyer. Then I did my yoga for the day as E. went to practice juggling for a bit.

After Phire it was time for Choir, where we sang only high energy songs. The choir is up to about 20 members, which is really nice after a couple of slow years, and by the end of the evening I was so full of energy that I kept singing as I cycled home (well, not when I passed people going the other direction). That energy lasted long enough to make draft of a poster calling for yet more people to join choir if they wish to be part of this year's Lucia performance, read a bit of FB, and now post this. But it is now after 23:00, so I had better wrap this up and head to sleep. Though a bit more yoga might be wise, first.
kareina: (stitched)
Yesterday was the first nyckleharpa night of the autumn, and, as always, it was ever so much fun. Seven people playing nyckleharpa, while I worked on my sewing project. I so love living in Sweden!

Today was my first day back in the office after my week of at-home vacation, and I can't claim to have accomplished much, other than battling my way through the pile of email that had accumulated. Then I went home and took a nearly 2 hour nap. But this evening was the first choir meeting of the autumn, and it was much fun. Even though we hadn't done much advertizment, we still had ten or so people, and it felt good to sing again. One of the new girls sings really well. At one point we were doing a round, and our conductor put that new girl and one of the boys into a group of their own, and the other two groups had 4 of us each, and I had to struggle to sing with my own group instead of following the group of two, since they were so loud and clear behind me.
kareina: (me)
Someone has posted on facebook some videos from our choir concert last month. I figure at least mom will want to see them:

Video #1

Video #2
kareina: (me)
This morning started with meeting a friend at the gym to do the "day one" workout my physical trainer has given me--complete with pushups and lots of shoulder exercises. Then, in the early afternoon, I got a message from another friend asking if I would like to meet her at the gym to do some aerial silks training this evening. Of course I would! And no other conflicts, either.

Luckily, [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had driven in to work this morning (I rode with him), which meant that after I finished work (at 14:00, since I started later than usual due to the workout) I could walk to his office, head home and take a quick nap, eat dinner, and grab the rolling suitcase full of the aerial silks, which I have had at my place for some weeks now, since the girl who used to have it was going to be out of town during our practice session, and hasn't gotten them back yet. Then I drove back, left the car at his office, and got to the gym before 17:00 (as an university employee, I can get into the gym for free, but only during business hours), so that I could get in the door. Once inside, of course, I was permitted to stay as long as I wanted.

Just as with last time I tried this, I had trouble climbing the fabric when first I tried. Eventually I remembered that with my small hands it really does work better to have one length of fabric in each hand, rather than trying to hold them both together, even though I still wrap them both around my feet for the climbing. We spent nearly two hours climbing, trying interesting poses in the air, and, occasionally, practicing hand-stands as a "rest". Now my hands are a bit sore, and I am so looking forward to doing it again on Friday!

Yesterday we couldn't do aerial silks, as that practice room doesn't have a place to hang them from, so we just did some acroyoga poses, which are just as much fun, just as hard to do, but doesn't hurt one's hands and feet in the same way.

Choir yesterday after Phire practice was also much fun. We have a good group this year.
kareina: (stitched)
Of course, I should have gone to bed before 01:00 last night, but I didn't. So instead of getting up at 05:30 to start my morning exercises I slept till quarter till seven. I still did my before-getting-up situps, and then went to the living room and did the pushups and squats section of what would have been yesterday's phone app workout, but yesterday I opted to stop after only the abs and "extra bodyweight" sections, because I thought that 52 minutes were enough. Of course, the two sections that remained to be done today added up to only 10 minutes, which was good because that gave me time for a shower before riding in to work with [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar.

Work went well, and kept me busy till time to go meet my friend at 13:00 at the gym, where we did the "day one" workout as I haven't yet received the description for the day two workout from my trainer. After the workout we spent a bit of time doing very basic acro yoga--just the airplane position, since she isn't used to doing it, so just that much takes an effort.

Then I worked for another couple of hours till it was time to go to Phire practice at 16:00. Since E., the girl who is so good at acro yoga, was sick today I was on my own, but managed to convince a number of people to give it a try. Mostly just the basic airplane pose, as they had trouble holding their legs still if they were base, and had trouble balancing if they were flying. But it is good for me to practice being base, too, and I still have fun flying, even if the base wobbles a bit. But boy does it give me appreciation for E.'s skill. When she lifts me into airplane it is as stable as laying on the ground, and she has no difficulties doing all the advanced poses. Hopefully she will be feeling better by next Tuesday (even if she is better by Friday, I won't make it to practice then, as I will be in Finland).

After Phire it was time to head to choir, which was much fun. We got some new exchange students, so there were 12 of us tonight--exactly six each male and female voices.

Since I did my yoga during Phire practice I can head to bed as soon as I post this, which would be very wise, since tomorrow I am meeting my friend at 08:30 for another workout, and then I will go to work, where, at 10:00, the laser service technician will arrive from Germany. He will be here all day, and tomorrow as well. I suspect that I probably ought to work full time the next couple of days while he is here, but I don't know for certain yet if that will be happening. It is mostly up to him, and how easy he finds it to have someone else present trying to learn stuff as he works.
kareina: (me)
Tuesdays will be my longest day this semester (side note: I have been in Sweden long enough that it feels funny to use that word in this context, since here that spelling means "vacation"). Today's schedule:

06:00 wake up, start situps
06:19 finish situps (and reading LJ/email)
06:34 start my actual morning workout (phone app)
07:04 workout done (today was a shorter/easier day than yesterday)
07:38 start playing dulcimer
07:44 done playing dulcimer
07:58 start walking to work
08:44 arrive at work and start my day
11:20 pause work and head to the gym
11:30 meeting with my personal trainer (who showed me my first workout routine, now I just need to find time to do it--he promises to email me the details tomorrow)
12:37 back to the office, arriving just as a friend dropped by to say hello
12:58 resume work
15:44 pause work to eat some dinner and check personal email, LJ and FB
16:30 begin Phire practice (today: staff work, acrobatics, head stands (with splits) and hand stands against the wall, and juggling)
18:02 pause in Phire practice for a meeting, during which I did yoga
18:18 resume Phire practice (more staff work and juggling,and some hand stands against the wall)
18:40 done Phire practice
19:00 begin choir practice
20:30 done choir practice, hang out and chat with people for another 30 minutes
21:12 shovel snow
21:18 check mail, look up used pianos and keyboards for sale, and email the choir officers the list so that the group can buy one, instead of us needing to bring ours
22:15 get this far in typing this post. Once it is done and posted I may do a bit more yoga before bed, since my legs could use it...

Choir was much fun today--we started two new songs, both of which are done in mixed groups. The first was Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 (which song could have been a factor in my having been a career student--it came out when I was 14 and convinced me that I never wanted a "job"), and the second was Alice Cooper's Poison (while I had heard this one before, I didn't have hearing aids then, so had never actually heard/understood the lyrics before tonight--Oh, My! I didn't realize that it was a love song, nor that it had such... vivid images).

Tomorrow the only thing on the calendar is work, so I should be home early enough to do something useful around the house. Unless I just sleep.


Sep. 22nd, 2015 10:22 pm
kareina: (stitched)
Choir this semester is even more fun than usual. Our director has decided to spice things up by adding in a fair few simple songs wherein the parts are mixed "groups" rather than the traditional "soprano, alto, tenor, and bass". So each group is likely to have some male, some female, some high, and some low voices in them. One group will have the melody, another a different melody, another will sing only a fraction of the words in an interesting counter-rhythm, and another might have an interesting clapping pattern.

Today's new song counts as a "learn Swedish one song at a time" entry, even though it is largely nonsense:


Jag vill bo i en svamp
annars får jag kramp
det finns hopp för min kropp
i en mullig sopp
Kom en kväll ah var snäll
till min kantarell
Titta in å ta ton
i min champinjon

Meanwhile group two sings:

Svamp, svaaaaaaaamp, en svamp, en svamp, en…

While the other group just shouts out: Svamp! at the end of each of the main phrases above.

The above (kind of) means:

I want to live in a mushroom
or else I will have a cramp
there is hope for my body
in a chubby mushroom
Come one night, oh be kind
to my mushroom
Come by and start singing (take a tone)
in my mushroom.

(ok, as a non-mushroom eater, I didn't bother to translate the various types of mushrooms and fungi, since I couldn't tell them apart, anyway…)

One can listen to it here.

Note: [livejournal.com profile] bethchm, mom is having enough fun singing with us in choir that if you happen to hear of a "just for fun" choir in your area you might encourage her to join it...
kareina: (stitched)
Those of you who actually read my posts may remember that [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I participated in the choir performances at the Masque the evening of the Grand Ball at the Known World Dance event in Germany in April. It turns out that someone got video of the Masque performances, which consisted of first a spoken introduction telling the audience something of a legend from Greek Mythology, then the choir singing about that tale, then the dancers enacting the tale via dance. Hopefully the links work for everyone--they work for me, but then I am part of the FB group to which they were posted, so of course I can see them:

Masque - Entrance of Gaita and Singers

Masque Part 1 - Pizochara - The Argonauts and the Lemnosians

Masque Part 2 - Mercantia - Paris, the Golden Apple, and the Three Goddesses

Masque Part 3 - Anello - Achilles and Penthisileas

Masque - Part 4 - Tesara (Penelope weaving and unweaving the tapestry)
kareina: (stitched)
This morning we bundled the hammer duclimer, nyckleharpa, a microphone, a trolley and box of cables into the car, drove to Uni, where [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar dropped me and the music stuff off at my office on his way to work. I spent the morning accomplishing stuff (to the point where my in-box was empty!), and at noon I wheeled the music stuff towards the next building, and was met by [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar on the way, so he took the trolley and I had only the dulcimer left to carry.

The Solar Wind Orchestra performed four tunes for the students hanging out in the big room with a stage and some comfy couches, and then I brought the gear back to my office and [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar hopped into his work car to do the 45 minute drive to Piteå, where he had a computer to fix (or something). I then spent another few hours doing useful stuff on the computer, and finished up and started walking home around the same time he started driving back from Piteå. I walked briskly, and managed to get home about 5 minutes before he did, but that was enough time to get our car plugged in so that it would be warm for the trip back to campus for choir and start a pot of vegetable soup.

Since we didn't have much time available, I did a really quick soup: I tossed one chunk of frozen mashed pumpkin (which I had cooked and mashed a month or two back and froze in empty yoghurt (actually skyr) containers) into a pot with a little water, and turned the stove on high and put more water into the electric kettle to warm up. I then tossed a handful of frozen cabbage, the last of the bag of frozen mixed corn, broccoli and capsicum, a handful of frozen kale, another of frozen spinach, and some additional frozen broccoli into a bowl to wait a bit before putting into the soup pot. About the time I finished that and got the rest of the frozen veg back into the freezer the kettle was hot, so I added that water to the pot. As soon as the pumpkin had thawed I tossed in the rest of the veg, a "can" (cardboard box) of lentils, and a can of sliced water chestnuts into the pot. Added some pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, a few green herbs, and a dash of soy sauce. As soon as the pot returned to a boil I took it off the heat and sat down to eat, only 21 minutes after completing the walk (and that time included taking off coat and boots).

This gave me 40 minutes to relax with a book before we went out to choir, where the turnout was really low--we started with one each soprano, bass, and tenor, and three altos. A bit later a second bass showed up. However, we had lots of fun. Sung Dona Nobis, a couple of new songs I hadn't seen before, and Spider Pig. However, our director had only three parts for Dona Nobis, so I promised to email her a pdf with all five parts--I hope that she likes the other two parts and we add them to the list.

After choir we picked up the music stuff from my office, unloaded it, finally shoveled away the berm that got plowed over the bottom of the driveway yesterday, I emailed the pdf to the choir director, and spent a full hour paging down my FB feed reading all kinds of good news, and inspirational posts. Eventually I hit a negative post, followed promptly by a political one, and so I decided to close FB and post here instead. I have heard a fair few people lately complain about FB being too negative/argumentative/political, and I am pleased to report that, actually, those posts are in the minority of what I see over there. Perhaps I have used the "I don't want to see" this button often enough, and long enough ago that the computer in charge of deciding what should be important to me learned? Perhaps I just know lots of wonderful people? Either way, I am happy with it.

Ok, time for yoga and bed!


Nov. 16th, 2014 10:53 am
kareina: (house)
The snow we had had in mid October was long gone, the fault of the +8 C temps we were cursed with the latter part of the month. But then early November greeted us with nice temperatures dropping as cold as -10, giving the ground a chance to get a decent freeze. However, with the lack of snow, the world was looking pretty dark and dismal--grass doesn't hold its green after freezing. Therefore I was delighted to see snowfall this weekend--the world is, once again, looking bright and beautiful with its thin white coat. There still isn't much snow, but it makes such a difference. My phone tells me that this weekend's warm temperatures (high of +2) will go away and we should have decent sub-zero temperatures for the rest of the week. With luck the snow will survive till the cold returns.

I think last winter's pathetic showing may have scared me for life--before last winter it never would have occurred to me to worry about snow being able to last--of course snow stays on the ground all winter and it never rains. But now I worry and look at the forecast--will it stay nice and cold, or will we have another winter of not nice rains destroying the good snow cover?

In other news, we had a great band practice on Thursday--we are ready to perform at the SCA event on the weekend. And last night's choir party was fun. Despite having gotten a slow start to the semester, with a shortage of boys for a while, we still managed to have a total of 10 of us here for the party, and it was five of each gender. I baked two loafs of cardamon bread for it--one with plenty of milk and butter in it, and the other, much smaller loaf with no dairy at all since one of the girls is allergic to milk. I also baked some more pears. I had done a small batch of pears for band night, and it was so good they asked me to do it again for the party. I used fairly large pears, one scant tablespoon of brown sugar for every two pears, and lots of butter--first a thick coating of butter to grease the glass baking pan, and then I used a cheese slicer to make thin slices of butter to cover the top of the pears. I also sifted in a hint of gluten free oat flour (one of the band members can't eat gluten) into the pan to help thicken the sauce, and sprinkled on a bit of water to keep it from drying up before the liquid started cooking out of the pears. I baked them at 150 C, and, once they warmed up and started forming sauce I stirred them occasionally to keep the top layer from drying out or browning. Everyone else brought enough food to the party that there are some pears left over, which is a good thing, because I am getting hungry for them just typing this up.

[livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar has been hard at work making some nice chests that are exactly small enough to fit into the trunk of the car so that packing for events will be easier. The first one is done and the second is coming along nicely. I wish I could be helping with the project, but while he does that I have been working on the edits to my paper for publication, gathering info for a class on the History of the SCA. I also want to put together something in the way of a hand-out for a hand sewing class. In my imagination I make small hand-sewn samplers of all of the stitch types [livejournal.com profile] hrj has accumulated on her web page on Archaeological Sewing. However, the class is next weekend, so that is probably not going to happen, even if it would be totally cool.
kareina: (me)
Last week in Choir we started learning a new song, Waltzing Matilda. I am embarrassed to admit that in the five years I spent in Australia I never learned that song. Now, five years after leaving, I am finally learning it. However, it is new to everyone in the choir, and so didn't exist in our midi archive, so I couldn't listen to the tune on my own, yet, to better learn it.

On Friday some of the choir folk gathered at our place for instrumental music and singing and general fun. During the evening I asked where we get our midi files, and if I could help with uploading them. He explained that we take the photocopied sheet music the choir director gives us and transcribes it into a music notation program, then export the midis from there. And by "we" I mean "the one bass who had been in the choir even longer than [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar has". The one who has finally, after many years with the choir, moved on to other things. This meant that "we" meant "no one, unless our over-worked choir president gets around to it".

I have a perfectly good copy of Noteworthy composer, so I said I would try typing up the song. Of course, we were out of town on the weekend, so I didn't get started till Monday. 5.8 hours of work (scattered in three sessions over two days), and I got it all entered in by this morning. Then I couldn't figure out how to get the program to spit out the midi. There is a "record" button, but pressing that makes the program ask me to "please select an input device", but the drop down menu from which one is, presumably, meant to select said device is totally blank.

I checked the web page, and it said one does it by selecting File>Export. However, I didn't have an "export" button under the file menu. I tried up grading the program, and still no export button. So I gave up for the time being and finished up my uni work instead.

By "finished up" I mean "did the last couple of edits to the paper in progress, exported the figures from CorelDraw as eps files (save for the two that didn't have good quality in that format--they became tiff files), and uploaded everything to the publisher's web page and then hit the "re-submit" button. If all goes well this time they accept it, and I am truly done with the last job (the one for which the last of the funding ran out in June).

Tonight's choir session was fun, if rather lacking in Bass voices ([livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had to work in Kiruna today, and he wasn't done till 17:00. It is at least a four hour drive, so he isn't home yet, but is expected soonish, I would think. Why the other Bass who have tried choir out this semester weren't there I don't know, but we didn't have any). After choir I was inspired to try again, and this time I tried the "save as" button. Sure enough, one can "save as" a midi file. Much to my delight when one has typed up the lyrics into the program (essential for me to keep track of where in the song we are!) the program exports the lyrics, too. So I have the alto part of Waltzing Matilda playing in a loop in the background as I type, and at any time I can glance at the other screen where the word corresponding with the note that is currently playing is highlighted in blue.

In other news, I am nearly done with my current nålbindening project. A cute grey pointy hat with fur trim in omani stitch. Choir tonight wasn't quite long enough to finish the very top of the point. Clearly I should have kept stitching during the break. This is the most complicated stitch I have tried yet. The join to the previous row is totally normal, but then one needs to hook two threads from the right side of the holding thumb (assuming one is stitching right-handed) before taking three threads from the thumb on the left side and twisting them together before finishing the stitch. I know from experience that if one forgets to do those first two threads on the right one winds up with a hole in the pattern. Usually I took out the stitches back to the hole and did it again properly. But I don't promise I caught the mistake every time!
kareina: (house)
Today (Thursday) is a holiday in Sweden, so we have had a productive day:

*one load of laundry washed
*one wall in the downstairs room painted (2 coats)
*one new strawberry patch location has been prepped including decorative stone fronting and a wooden frame
*one third of the strawberries from one of the two old patches has been transplanted to the new location
*one dead tree cut down
*part of a gravel pile moved so that it is now possible to drive the mini tractor/trailer past it
*one custom fit screen built for the downstairs bedroom window so we can open the window without letting in bugs (really important now that there is fresh paint on one of the walls.

Yesterday was the end of the semester party for our choir, held in conjunction with our normal band practice for those of us in the choir who like to make more music than just singing. We had seven of us here (which, sadly is most of the choir these days). I made nettle soup from the nettles growing in our yard (I could do this daily all summer and never run out of nettles) and they liked it so much that most of them had seconds. I also did a lovely gluten-free apple and red currant crumble, and I have a second batch of (possibly) non-gluten free oat and walnut crumble topping sitting in the fridge to use on another occasion; I remembered at the last second that I should have grabbed the other (certified gluten free) box oats, so rather than poisoning my friend I made more topping (without walnuts, since the last of them went into the first batch), and used it instead. I also made some yummy bread rolls, and one of the other members brought some yummy apricot bread he had made. It was a fun evening, and the last time we get to see a couple of the guys, since they are exchange students and will be heading home to their own countries soon (and one had already left and so missed the party).

Tuesday was our normal choir practice, and Monday was nyckleharpa (and dulcimer!) night, so it has been a music filled week.

Sunday we had Swedish Folk Dancing--we are now doing the final few rehearsals before the summer performances, so it is much fun.

Saturday day we helped [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's dad cut and split wood for the year. No where near as much as we did last year, since it was such a mild winter no one used up all of what we cut last year, and he and I don't need any, since we still don't have a wood stove, so the only time we used any of the wood was for one camping event.

Saturday night I spent on line at my 30th highschool reunion.

OK, I confess, I typed it like that because that phrase will not conjure up the correct mental image in anyone who didn't go to school with me. Steller was not your typical high school. It was an alternative school aimed at self-motivated students and it was an amazingly fun place to be for the six years I was the correct age to attend. This year marks the 40th Anniversary of Steller's founding, so they hosted a party at the school and Stellerites from all over went home for it, and a bunch of us connected to the event from our computers at our homes (including locations in Sweden, Germany, Main, Colorado, California, and Washington, that I know of).

I really enjoyed the evening. Because of the time zone difference (10 hours) between here and Alaska, I was on line for the event from 23:30 to 04:00, and loved every minute of it (well, except for the short time where the connection broke and it took a couple of minutes to get it back). I got to see some old friends and lovers, I got to meet some interesting new people, of all ages. One woman who was in the internet chat had been part of the first class to attend Steller the first year it opened (and so was just enough older than I that we wouldn't have met back them--she would have graduated before I started at Steller), another (the one in Germany) graduated last year. It was interesting comparing notes with them and learning that the wonderful school I attended was pretty much the same from the beginning, and is still pretty much the same as of last year.

One of the things that has eaten a fair chunk of my time lately was preparing the Memorial Wall, with posters in tribute to those Stellerites who have already died. This was a difficult task that wouldn't have been possible at all without the facebook groups for Steller alumini, but seems to have been much appreciated. One of my old boyfriends, who was actually at Steller for the party, came in to the computer lab to say hello, and let me know that he appreciated the wall, but when he came to the poster for Steven, one of our mutual friends, he burst into tears. This did not surprise me, I cried a bit when I gathered up photos of Steven from the yearbook. His was one of the deaths that would have been so easy to prevent, if he had only made some different lifestyle choices. But it was his life to spend wisely or to squander and I can only hope that he enjoyed as much as he got.

Friday was my student's and my last day in Finland working on the Microprobe, followed by a band practice at my house (which I got home on time for, because we finished with the probe nice and early that day)

Thursday was a quiet evening at my host's house in Oulu while she was at choir, and some fun visiting with her before and after her choir session, and that brings me current on the major happenings in my life since my last update. Hope things are as fun for the rest of you.
kareina: (house)
I have mentioned repeatedly how weird our winter was this year, and how little snow we got. I just found this photo from a year ago on 21 April, 2013, which shows how much snow was left at the time:

spring 2013

Coincidentally, the earliest walkway photo progress I took this year was also on 21 April, as you can see, not a drop of snow remained on the ground:

April 2014

It truly was a weird, low-snow winter. Our next door neighbour normally has a big bonfire in his yard for Valborgsafton (31 April), but this year, while made ready the pile of logs weeks ago, he opted not to light it, because the field was naught but dry grass (last year the grass near the fire was still snow-covered), and he didn't want to risk starting a runaway fire.

Our choir normally performs traditional spring songs at the big Valborgasafton bonfire at the University, but this year, since we are such a small choir, we opted to instead go do two indoor performances at some old-folks homes, to bring spring to those who can't get out and see it for themselves. Afterwards half of us (which is to five--it is a SMALL choir this year) came over to our place and sang for the neighbours at their bbq--while they didn't have the bonfire lit, they did have a small fire for sausages etc.

I also found this photo, from March 2013, which shows why we still had a decent amount of snow left at the end of April last year:

March 2013

This year the deepest bit of snow in the yard was only about 1/3 of what we had left in March last year...
kareina: (me)
The choir that [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I sing, Studentenkör Aurora (Student Choir Aurora), has been talking about getting some of us together to do instrumental stuff for a while, and tonight it finally happened. Five of us gathered in our living room to play, and it was fun.

Keep in mind that I did not learn to play any instrument growing up. I decided in the early 1980's that I wanted a Hammer Dulcimer when Tania Opland returned in Alaska to play at the Renaissance Fair there, and I fell in love with the sound of the instrument, the fact that if one does not know what one is doing and strikes the strings randomly it will make pleasing sounds, and the fact that the strings are in order, so that if only looks at the dots on some sheet music and sees the pattern they make one need only repeat the exact same spatial pattern on the instrument to achieve the tune. This is in direct contrast to instruments like the violin, which my sister tried to learn as a child--on that instrument one can make some very unpleasant noises if one doesn't know what one is doing, and it is necessary to remember weird placement of one's fingers on a string to achieve notes, and while those placements make sense in terms of the laws of physics, they do not easily correlate with the dots on the page.

Sadly I couldn't afford to buy one until just a few years ago, and while I was putting forth effort to learn to play it when it first arrived, more recently life has been more busy than usual; the last time I played it at all was December, and the last time I tuned it was eight months ago.

Therefore, since the plan was to do instrumental stuff this evening I made time to turn the dulcimer (most strings had relaxed enough to show on the tuner as the next letter down from what it should be) and then check to see if I can remember how to play any of the few tunes I had learned. It turns out I can still play the second song I learned to sing in Swedish.

Therefore, when we gathered this evening and the guy organizing things asked "Is there any song one of you want to do?", I promptly mentioned that one. It turns out that not only do I recall which strings I need to hit, in what order, and in what rhythm, I can also do so accurately enough to play with other humans, and it is fun! I hadn't really gotten to play music with others before. Well, I did once play with [livejournal.com profile] mushroom_maiden back in Tasmania--she knew enough about chords that she was able to say "here, hit these two strings at the same time, then these two, then these two. Repeat that, in this rhythm, over and over. Then she played a melody on the guitar, and the two instruments sounded great together. But since then there has only been one or two short attempts to play with [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, until tonight. However, tonight was so much fun I would like to do it again.

We had fun playing with arrangements for Ridom, and finally settled on this pattern, which I am recording here so that I don't forget, so that the next time we meet and they say "what did we do?", I can look it up if I need to )
kareina: (me)
As regular readers will remember, I sing with the student choir at the University here in Luleå. For the past couple of years we have been heavily recruiting exchange students and have maintained a good mix of people from all over the world, though, of course, the faces change each year and, for many of them, each semester. The new semester started last week, and already we have our first gig of the season: performing at the banquet welcoming the newest crop of Exchange Students to Sweden. However, most of the choir isn't available for this performance (even [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar is out of town this weekend. There are only four of us who are able to participate--one soprano, me (alt), and two tenors. One of the tenors is Swedish and the president of the choir, the other two are exchange students themselves. Therefore, given the limited number of people for this gig, rather than actually doing full choir arrangement we have opted on a simpler set:

The president and I will be introduced as ambassadors for the student choir, come to invite them all to come participate with us on Tuesdays, and we will welcome them to Sweden with a traditional Swedish drinking song. As soon as we start with "Helan går!", the choir exchange students will stand up at their place and sing the reply, and then walk up to join us on the stage, where we will give the full song another run through, in unison. Then after we sing that one our president will announce that he understand that the dinner has a theme for the evening of Cartoons/comics, and will point out that our choir has a new mascot, the spider pig (which one of the exchange students will be wearing as a placard on his chest). Then we will sing the Spider Pig song (which I had never heard of before Tuesday--I am so out of touch with popular culture, I didn't even know there was a movie for that cartoon family). After we sing the line "can he swing from a web?", I will snatch away the spider pig, turn him back right side up, and sing a solo "No he can't! He's a pig!", before the soprano snatches the pig back from me to turn it back into a spider pig for the song finale. Then we will tell the crowd that if they join us on Tuesday they can hear this song done in full four-part choir arrangement, and take our leave.

I think it will be fun, and I can't believe that I, whom my friends used to tell me not to sing with them because I sang in a monotone "and it throws the rest of us off", will be singing a solo! I have come a very, very long way. With luck it will get even better soon. Another of our choir members teaches voice lessons, so we will be meeting up on Sunday afternoon to trade a singing lesson for a massage.

The drinking song we will be singing is extremely well known throughout Sweden, and in a fair few other places as well:

Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lallan lej
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej
Och den som inte helan tar*
Han heller inte halvan får
Helan går
Sjung hopp faderallan lej

Which roughly translates to:

The whole goes (down the hatch)
sing fa la la...
The whole goes (down the hatch)
sing fa la la...
and those who don't take the whole (drink in one go)
he cannot have half of it either
sing fa la la...

As our president was teaching us the words tonight I commented that "I need to remember that 'får' rhymes with 'går', and not 'tar' so that I pronounce it correctly". Therefore I was highly amused to come home and read on the Wikipedia page for this song that "*In the classic version, "trår" is used instead of "tar". "Tar" is modernized, and doesn't rhyme." Edited to add: Our Choir president replies "Well, in this one case I'd argue the modernization is an improvement anyway. "Trår" means "yearn", which doesn't really makes as much sense as "tar"." I argue that he is mistaken--I think "those who don't yearn (to drink) the whole (glass in one go) can't have half of it either." works just fine.
kareina: (stitched)
One of the big holiday traditions here in Sweden centers around St. Lucia--across the country on December 13th there are hundreds of performances by various choirs, each with a person dressed as Lucia, with a crown of lit candles on her head, wearing the traditional white dress and red belt. The other women in the choir also wear the white dresses and red belts, and everyone in the choir carries a lit candle. Usually there is little to no other light in the room besides the candles the choir carries (and, in the case of Lucia, wears). The performance is usually early in the morning--here at our uni it happens at 07:30, and takes about a half an hour. Despite the early hour the hall is packed with people who come to listen (and drink the traditional glogg and eat pepperkakor and lucia bullar) before they head to work or classes or whatever for the day.

This year someone in the audience with the capability to record video was a friend to one of the choir members, and he put a short video on line which shows our procession in and has excerpts from each of the songs we did. I am posting the link here because I suspect my mom would want to watch, and there is a chance that someone else might be interested.

However, I have no idea if any of you would click the link to watch a student choir singing in the (mostly) dark, so if you would be so kind as to leave a comment to let me know if you did, it would amuse me to find out who (if anyone) does watch it, and if you watch/listen to all 11 minutes, or only glance at part of it). Some of the songs are in Swedish, some in English, and one in Sami, and all have a strong Christmas theme +/- religious symbolism (personally I would like the tradition better without the religious part, but I so love to sing I am willing to sing pretty sounding songs despite the religious trappings).
kareina: (stitched)
The last couple of days have been unseasonably warm. One of my friends today said that she heard that yesterday was the warmest day on record for Sweden in the last century. I believe it. When we were driving to Boliden at one point the thermometer in the car said that it was +9 C! This is not a reasonable temperature for this far north this time of the year--it is supposed to be winter already. This afternoon it was raining, and nearly all of the snow was gone from the yard (though every place anyone has walked or driven or done anything else to compact the snow it was solid, very wet, ice), and there were even standing puddles! Ick! (Note: the work we did on the yard this summer was worth it--none of those puddles are anywhere near the places we walk, unlike what happened when we bought the house last year.)

However, tonight while we were at dance practice it finally cooled back off enough to permit the rain to turn into snow. So now we have a wet snow accumulating on top of the wet ice and sticking to it just enough to provide traction and nice, safe footing. It is now possible to walk without fear of falling, and the ground is once again white and beautiful, and I am much happier. Not that it is actually cold, mind you, it is only 0 C, but so long as it doesn't go above zero again this snow should stand a chance to stick around. I sure hope that it does.

Dance practice was fun--since it was the last of the season we were in costume. There were only six of us in attendance, but we enjoyed dancing, and ate pound cake with raspberries and cream. I love dancing, but I am not going to try to run dance again next semester--the most we ever got to show up on a given week was six people, a couple of times it was only 4, once no one showed up besides [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I, and one other time we canceled in advance because the ones who usually make it knew in advance that they wouldn't be able to. If we get more people showing interest in the future we can try again then. I still have the Swedish Folk Dancing, after all. So it isn't like I am not doing any dancing.

After dance the huge fluffy flakes of falling snow was so pretty once I got home I got out my spark and went for a a quick ride/kick down to the end of the road and back. Fun! It is a 20 minute walk to do that distance on food, but kicking down the road with one foot on the sled runner meant I could go there and back in 12 minutes.

Now I need to go do my yoga and get to sleep--our choir has its annual Lucia performance in the morning, and we need to gather at 06:30 to get ready for the 07:30 performance. Then we have a second gig at 09:00 at a business across the street from the uni before I can really start my work day. Then, in the early evening we have one more performance, and then a choir party at our house, so it will be a musical day.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
Today was a nine hour work day, during which I accomplished printing that thin section report I mentioned yesterday (it is about 1 cm thick when printed double-sided--130 pages will do that) giving a 30 minute presentation, listened to two other presentations by my uni colleagues, met briefly with my colleagues at the mine (who say they are pleased with what I have accomplished over these past two years, which is a relief, since I, of course, think it isn't enough), and rode in the car two and from Boliden (two hours each way).

I got home well early enough that I could have made it to jodo training tonight, but realized that if I wanted to bake a cake for tomorrow's dance practice tonight way my only opportunity, so [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar went to practice without me and I stayed home, baked the cake, ironed my Lucia robes for Friday's choir performance, washed a load of laundry, typed up the lyrics for the songs we are singing so that I will have thought about the words once before the performance, and found clip art to represent each song and printed the two songs I actually need help with the words and all of the clip art, in the correct order, onto a piece of paper the same size as the paper plates we use as a candle base. The other kids in the choir tend to hand-write the lyrics they want reminders for onto the plates, but I thought it made more sense to print it.

I really ought to have been working this evening, since I didn't do any modeling all day, nor have I made any progress on my report, but I left my work computer at my office after getting back to town this evening--it seemed like a smart idea, since I need to meet a student tomorrow morning to talk to her about helping with the petrology part of my research. I rather enjoyed the evening off.
kareina: (stitched)
This past weekend only had one thing on the calender as the weekend approached: a party for out choir on Saturday evening, to be held at our house. He was on call, so when he got the call on Friday evening that he would have to go to Skellefteå on Saturday morning we formulated a plan: He would do the two hour drive south, do the job, then, on his return trip, stop half way and visit his parents, since he had some things he needed to discuss with his mom. In the meantime I would have the whole morning and afternoon to bake bread for the party and clean the house (which needed it, since we have been too busy with both work and projects to keep on top of the basic cleaning). However, on Saturday morning he called a colleague at the Skellefteå office who agreed to go do the computer repair in his own town and save [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar the trip. He then called his mother, who told him we should come over as they were doing are doing a party for the visiting grandkids and your brother in Skellefteå and his wife and son would be there, too.

Therefore we revised the plan: I started the bread rising, and he started housecleaning. While the bread did the first rising I helped with house cleaning, and then I shaped the loaves (one large loaf with chunks of garlic in it, which would roast to tender goodness while the bread baked, one medium cardamom bread, braided, and one filled loaf using the rest of the cardamom bread dough and a filling of almonds and pistachios in a thickened milk sauce) and put them in the fridge. That took the whole morning, and by noon we were on the road south.

We had a delightful visit with his family (he got to discuss the things with his mom that prompted the call--she is a self-employed accountant/tax prep. person, and we wanted an explanation of the paperwork that had been posted to us by the tax office about our property) and, and while we were chatting she pointed out an ad in her local paper for someone selling a timmerlada (wooden barn/shed originally intended for storing hay) who was asking only 10,000 SEK for it (this is the cost of a nyckleharpa, and about 1/4 of what other people have been adverting used timmerlador for). We have been wanting another shed, so he gave them a call, and we agreed to go look at it the next day.

After having cake and cookies with the family soon after we arrived, and then an early dinner with them a bit later we were back on the road to head home around 16:00. This got us home before 17:00, which gave us a bit more than an hour to get the bread baked and create a table out of saw horses and a door and a bench out of a solid plank and some large bricks so that the kids would have somewhere to sit (the choir is a "student choir", so it is mostly undergrads, but since it is open to all and has only one entrance requirement (must love to sing) there are a few of us who are not undergrads) during dinner.
the choir party itself and the games we played )

The party broke up around 01:00, and we were in bed by 2:30, which gave almost enough sleep before heading out in the morning to go look at that timmerlada for sale )


kareina: (Default)

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