kareina: (stitched)
As some of you may remember, my mother lives in Seattle with my sister, her husband, and their two daughters. This year my sister and her family had decided that it was time to spend the holidays in Oaxaca, Mexico, with his family, but my mother opted not to join them on that trip (mom can handle very basic Spanish, but can't follow a conversation that is actually interesting). Instead she planned to spend her birthday (19 December) in San Francisco with my step-sister and then return to Seattle for the rest of the year.

I am told that she had a fabulous birthday party in San Fran, involving foods from pretty much everywhere she has ever lived and lots of singing and playing of both guitar and banjo (yay for musical guests, one of whom went to high school with me--his mother and mine used to be really close, but, sadly, she died some years back). However, before flying back to Seattle, she got the call that her little sister in Milwaukee had suffered a stroke. After consultation with various family members it was decided that her big sister would fly from Alaska to Seattle, mom would fly back to Seattle (and pack warmer clothes than she had taken to California), and then the two of them would fly back to Wisconsin more or less together (I think they actually got different flights, but close enough to the same time to share transport to and from the airport).

Sadly, such plans take time to enact, and it turns out that while mom and her big sister made it to Milwaukee safe and sound, they got there about an hour after their little sister had died. This is at least twice now that someone in my family wasn't able to hang on until the people flying there to say good bye were able to arrive. When my step-dad died he did so while two of my sisters were flying to Australia to see him. But death happens when it will, and while we can do things to bring it sooner, it is damned hard to deny or put off, never mind that we have a medical industry dedicated to learning more and more ways to do just that. Then again, quality of life matters--while "not dead" is an amazingly awesome goal in and of itself, one also needs to be able to enjoy living in the body--what we really need is to get to the point that we can deny death in such a way that the survivor has a body which will let them do everything they would wish to be alive to do...

So, now my mom is in Wisconsin, with her one remaining sibling (they lost their brother to a brain tumor many years ago) and I don't know how many nieces, nephews, etc. (mom's little sister had three kids, all of whom have lots of kids each, and Wisconsin is also where her brother's son and his large family live, and where one of her big sister's five kids lives). I hope that the visit turns out to be one that is full of joy and laughter amid the shared grief and mourning, and that the visit becomes a treasured memory for her.

I really want to go post a "good bye" note on my Aunt's FB wall, but her kids haven't shared anything publicly yet--right now there are only "good luck" and "heal well" kind of notes on her wall, and I don't want to say anything in public till her kids are ready to do so. Which, given the time zone difference won't be for many hours anyway--it is still the middle of the night there.

Really puts this cold that has been bothering me into perspective--I may be low energy and coughing out ick, but my brain works, and I am not likely to die. This doesn't stop me from wanting to be back to 100% already, mind you.
kareina: (me)
One of my cousins recently contacted me on facebook to let me know that they had a bunch of old photos of my father, and was I interested in them? I gave her my address, and this week a packet arrived in the mail. She had not only sent photos of a much younger version of my dad than I had ever seen, there were also a number of photos of me when I was really little. I had, of course, seen the ones of me, since they were also in the albums my parents kept (and which are, last I heard, at my sister's house in Seattle), but the ones of my dad I hadn't seen before.

Dad turned 34 the week after I was born, and these photos are all from when he was, I would guess, between 16 and 20. It was quite a surprise to see him with hair--by the time I was born he had settled on a flat-top crew cut, and wore it that way for the rest of his life. It was also surprising to find out that he had been blond. By the time I was born his hair (never more than 1 cm long) was dark with some silver highlights, and it had switched to mostly salt-and-pepper colour by the time I was 7 or so.

One of my cousins remember his mother admitting that the reason she first got to know his father is because she thought my father was cute.

my dad and I

You know, she has a point. I don't tend to find short hair attractive on anyone, but still, my dad had a pretty face, and the cutest little points on the sides of his ears, which, sadly, I didn't inherit, though I think I got his eyes...
kareina: (me)
With midsummer past, and C back down to Gothenburg for a bit I had expected that we would make a bit more progress on the earth cellar in the evenings after he got home from work this week. However, it turns out that one of his brothers has his vacation now, and took the opportunity to drive up from the south a really big lorry with an open back that almost looks like an oversized dump truck, but it doesn't dump. Instead its sides fold down so that one can put stuff onto and off of the bed with a fork lift. Since he was doing the drive anyway, he took the opportunity to bring us some tree parts--he had cut down an oak, a cherry, and an apple tree on his property, and since he knows we want to build musical instruments he offered the wood too us. We gladly said yes, but our circular saw can't cut things more than 4" tall (I have no idea why these boys, who live in a metric country and normally use centimeters, chose to refer to wood thickness in inches, but they did), so his brother pre-cut the oak trunk into 4" slabs, and loaded up the chunks + the smaller unsliced trunks and branches and brought them north.

The boys have been discussing for quite some time (possibly years since first mention) cleaning up their dad's property at Hemmingsmark. They grew up in that village, and when the kids were grown and their parents decided to move to a house they built themselves overlooking the water near Piteå they sold the part of the farm the house was on, but kept the largely forested (+ a couple of small fields) property across the street. Their property on the water wasn't that big, and didn't have a lot of out-buildings, so the Hemmingsmark land was where they stored stuff (three old shipping containers full of things the kids left behind when they moved out, and stuff the parents weren't using anymore, plus things like the tractor and digger which also were stored there, and where they took the wood they cut from their other forest properties to chop and spit it into firewood to keep the house warm in the winter. However, in addition to storing stuff that might once again be useful, there had also accumulated a few piles of things that won't be useful (including a very old shed that had collapsed from age).

Now that their parents have moved to a beautiful old farm, with plenty of property and outbuildings they have decided to quit storing stuff at Hemmingsmark, and to move the heavy equipment to the new farm, too. Therefore it is finally time to do the cleaning up and organizing of the Hemmingsmark property.

Therefore, after [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar got off of work on Monday we drove down there (75 minute drive) to help the two brothers who had been hard at work there all day. We arrived on time to be given the task of taking off the extra roof that had been over the gap between two of the containers, which provided a dry place to store the cut and split firewood to keep it dry before moving it to the houses where it would be burned.

So up the roof he and I went. He has done lots of on-roof related tasks over the years--they built their parent's last house, and have done more than one re-roofing project together. Therefore, after we took off the corrugated metal over roof exposing the widely spaced wooden boards nailed crosswise over the old telephone poles, which stretch from one container to the other, he continued to move rapidly and with confidence, using his crowbar to pull nails out of the boards from a standing, and bent over position. I, on the other hand, have only ever been on roofs to enjoy the view (but that fairly often--mom couldn't keep us kids off of the roof, even after my sister managed to hurt herself pretty badly by slipping when she was climbing down the tree). Therefore instead of standing up to use the crowbar, I sat down on the boards for better stability, and then pried up the nails. This, of course, meant that he managed to pull far more nails than I did (we won't discuss the fact that his longer muscles + testosterone means that he would have still pulled them faster, even if he had been sitting down and couldn't move as fast from one to the next), yet he still appreciated my help--together the job was done faster than he could have managed it.

That first evening we had time only for that, loading the above mentioned nice wood onto the trailer, and discussing the plans for the next night. Then it was home, arriving around midnight, which meant that by the time yoga was done and we were ready for bed it was 01:00.

Tuesday we both went to work, and then again went to Hemmingsmark, where he and I removed the old straw from an old shed, took the rest of the way apart the above mentioned collapsed shed and sorted the components into keep (corrugated metal roof pieces), add to the growing bonfire pile (the old wood), and trash (the tarp that had been nailed over it some many years back), loaded the boards from the roof we had disassembled yesterday onto our trailer to take home to use in the extra shed that we are planning on putting up here (we bought the logs for it the autumn before last, but haven't had a chance to set it up yet--that one will likely be where the forge lives when we get to it), and gathered up more stuff to add to the bonfire pile. In the meanwhile his brothers used the digger to pick up pieces of the old broken huge piece of heavy equipment (too broken to even guess what it had been, but it is larger than the digger, which is huge) onto the back of that above mentioned truck to haul away to where one disposes of large scrap metal. This took long enough that it was 12:30 before we got home.

Wednesday we had planned on heading there again, but at the last minute they sent him to Jokkmokk for work, so he didn't get home from work till almost 22:00, after which he had to spend some time at the computer doing paperwork to close out cases he had been working on this week so that accounting could do their month-end tasks.

Thursday afternoon was clean the water pipes day )
Today being Friday, and my normal day off, I returned all of the stuff to that room, slightly better organized than before, finished building a set of pattens, and did lots of laundry. It isn't yet decided if we are going to Hemmingsmark again nor not tonight. I kind of hope we stay home. I still have a few things I want to do to get ready for the SCA event that I will be heading to next week. On the other hand, all of that time driving back and forth means that we have been making great progress reading aloud from Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones. He is really loving the story (we are past most of the major plot revelations now--just a few last complications to deal with), and I am enjoying it even more on the second read than the first, and I really liked the first (I have always been an addicted re-reader, and this story lends itself very well to multiple reads). Once we finish it we can buy the next in the series, and this time I can read it out loud on my first read, which has the advantage in that we can pause and speculate together how things will turn out, since neither of us knows.
kareina: (stitched)
The following is a copy of what I just sent in to be Posted to the West Kingdom Memoriam page

My First SCA sister. Well, technically, Alicianne would count as my second, since on the day I adopted my SCA mother, Jenyvr of Squalid Manor, Jenyvr already had a babe in arms, but since Terah couldn't yet communicate at that point, in my heart Alicianne was my first SCA sister--she adopted Jenvyr within days of my doing so, and for my early SCA years in Oertha she was my closest friend. Ann joined my modern family for Christmas holidays, and she was the person my (biological) mother contacted to do the arrangements/invite people when mom decided that she wanted to throw me a surprise party for my 18th Birthday.

Alicianne was not what she would have described as a "happy" person, but she was "Easily Amused", and she and I had made matching t-shirts with just that motto written upon them. We also made ourselves matching costumes for a decadence revel sometime in the mid 1980's. It was so not a style (blue swede leather push-up bodice thingie, white off-the-shoulder underdress, and blue skirt) that I would have chosen on my own--I would have been way too embarrassed to wear something that... provocative (even to a "decadence" revel) if it had been my idea, but with her encouragement (and willingness to accept full credit for the idea) I agreed, and we had such fun making them, and wearing them to the event. Years later I turned the leather into a lovely pair of gloves.

When I moved away to Atenveldt we kept in occasional touch, thanks to my weakness for long-distance phone calls, and when I returned to Eskalya we had no problems picking back up a close friendship as though no time had elapsed. I have rarely had friend who was not a lover with whom I hung out so often and so regularly as she and I did. I miss that.

Then I moved away again (An Tir that time), and we were once again reduced to infrequent phone calls (while I got my first email address around then, she resisted getting one). A few years later I returned to Oertha, but to Winter's Gate that time, and she stepped up as Princess. On her first trip up to Winter's Gate after I arrived I was showing her the tunic I had just completed for my new boyfriend, and she said (with all the fake haughtiness a Princess, who is also your sister, can muster) said "You never made me a new tunic".

"You never asked me to", I replied.

"You never made me a new tunic" says she.

"Yes, your highness, let me leave site, I will be back soon" says I.

So I hurried home and got my (and the boyfriend's) fabric stash, went back to site and showed her what I had available. She choose a green fabric for the tunic, a dark blue for the neck facing, and some golden yellow to separate the two (she was always a herald--one doesn't put a colour on a colour! and all three feature on her coat of arms). So as the event progressed I went to work and managed to cut and hand-sew the tunic to completion before she had to return to Eskalya at the end of the weekend (see photos taken at the Eskalya Yule event (December 9, 1995, AS XXX) to see the finished result). It was so much fun to make a gift for such a dear friend, and it made me smile to see it every time I saw her wearing it at an event for years thereafter (and she said it was one of her favorite tunics, and it had been made of a sturdy, lasting, fabric, so she wore it for many years).

We continued to be close whenever we lived in the same town (two more times after I left Fairbanks), and I always enjoyed hanging out with her and working on projects together and generating minor mischief.

Sadly, once I moved far enough away that long distance phone calls were no longer an option we drifted out of touch--she never did take to using email if it could possibly be avoided. As a result she has been one of the reasons I have been hoping to make another visit home to Oertha, so that we could catch up in person, but, alas, while I will likely get back there one day, she will not be there to greet me.

Kareina Talvi Tytär, Viscountess, OL, currently residing in Drachenwald
kareina: (Default)
Sometime back when regular access to the internet for normal folk was young one of my first cousins, in Wisconsin, received an e-mail from a guy in Sweden with the same last name, wondering if they were related. My cousin didn't know, so referred the question to my mother, who had been updating the family tree. Mom and the guy in Sweden compared notes and determined that their grandfathers had been brothers (which makes them second cousins). Years later mom and my step dad did a round-the-world trip, which included a stop in Sweden to meet that guy and his family (his parents had moved there from Finland in the 1960's), and they really enjoyed the trip. Years thereafter mom came to visit me while I was living in Italy, and we contacted her second cousin to see if they wanted another visit.

He had since moved to Finland, and suggested that we meet at the old family home in northern Finland, so we did, and had a great time. Now (nearly two years later) mom is once again visiting me for a month, so we decided to go back and visit the cousins in Finland once again. This time we were close enough to drive.

Therefore we set out from Luleå on Friday around mid-day, and five hours later we arrived in Oulainen. The couple we stayed with are an aunt and uncle of that first contact person (which makes them first cousins to my grandfather). They used to live in Sweden, so [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I spoke to them in Swedish, and mom did her best to use Finnish. Fortunately, two of their daughters also visited, so we had people who could translate Finnish for us. They are all delightful people, and it was a joy to stay with them.

On Saturday we went to the home of another cousin, where we met tons of other relatives and ate lots and lots of good food. On Sunday we went to the home of another cousin, and met more family, and ate more good food. I feel very lucky that we liked everyone we met and had much fun visiting with them.

Both [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and I made progress on our nålbinding projects, which fascinated our family, none of whom had ever seen it before. One of the cousins (who is the same age as my mom, but is actually her father's first cousin) was so interested that I did my best to teach her how. However, she doesn't speak English or Swedish, so it was a bit of a challenge as I could really only demonstrate (anyone who has links to good Finnish Language web pages on nålbinding are welcome to let me know so that I can send them to her).

Mom enjoyed her visit, so we left her there. We will go back next weekend to collect her. With luck she will be a little better at Finnish than she was when she arrived. (She spoke Finnish as a child, but once her grandparents died when she was 7 years old her family largely quit using that language, so she doesn't remember all that much of it.)

On the drive home I read out loud to [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar from The Wise Man's Fear. This is the first time either of us have read this book, and we haven't had a chance for me to read to him since before mom arrived, since we have been so busy, so it was nice to get a number of chapters in to it. It amused us both that he reduced to a couple of sentences a series of adventures that other authors would have devoted a full novel to. We are looking forward to reading the rest of the book, though we may not have time till we drive back to Finland next weekend...

I am pleased to report that for most of the drive wherein I wasn't reading aloud he and I spoke to one another in Swedish. I am getting better at it...
kareina: (Default)
Even though I *know* that the very best way to learn a language is to try to speak it, all the time, I don't actually manage with that goal very often. In my normal life it is just too easy to use English. Most of our friends are not only fluent in English, but enjoy speaking it, so we do. I do hear Swedish conversations semi regularly, but only when they are talking amongst themselves--when people want to include me in the conversations they switch to English. The one place wherein I actually need Swedish is when we head to [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's parent's house--his Dad speaks less English than I do Swedish.

I really enjoy our visits out there. They live in a beautiful house on a large chunk of land, so there is no noise from neighbours. Their view is of a channel of ocean, with a mostly forested bit of land on the far side. A nice, relaxing setting, and the company is good. His family is rather close--he has three brothers and a sister, and even though three of them settled in the south of Sweden they maintain very regular contact, usually phone calls, and in person visits several times a year. This weekend one of the brothers, his wife, and their daughter was up visiting, so we went out, as did the other brother and his wife who live in the north. This meant we had 8 adults and one child in the house, which meant much laughter and conversation. While I can't follow most of the Swedish conversation, yet, I still rather enjoy listening to it, it is clear that they are a happy group, and it is good entertainment as I sit and stitch. Sometimes they translate for me, but usually I am happy to just listen. This morning I woke up from a dream wherein I realized that the steady hum of background conversation in the dream that I hadn't been understanding was people speaking in Swedish. I guess that is what happens when one spends a couple of days listening to it.

I now have a stack of books I have borrowed from the visiting brother's wife--the latter books in the Anne of Green Gables series, which will be interesting to read in Swedish, and a couple of books written about the same time period in Swedish which she tells me that if I like those I will probably liked these too. But I will save reading them till after I have read the ones wherein I already know the story.

I did pick up a copy of the first Pippi Longstocking book this weekend and read it--there were very few words in there I didn't know, and I can't blame my understanding of the story on remembering the English version--I read that book only once, in the 6th grade, borrowed from the school library, and had long since forgotten the details. My reading is really very much better than my ability to understand the spoken language. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's dad tried to test my ability to understand what I head by reading random sentences to me from the book, but because I had already read those pages it was easy--I could just compare the sounds to my memory of the printed page... I wonder if people with no hearing problem lag as far behind in learning to understand the sound of a new language as compared to reading as I do.

Later today we have our normal Sunday folk music session, followed by the folk dance session. Always much fun, and another good chance to practice hearing Swedish.
kareina: (Default)
I have been meaning to post about my adventures over easter weekend, but haven't spent all that much time on the computer since then, so haven't gotten to it. However, I know that I have taken too much time to get to it because my mother sent me a facebook message asking about the trip. (Note: oddly enough, I can't actually access FB today, so I couldn't reply to her there if I wanted to. Is anyone else having issues with FB?)

Easter weekend adventures, including a train trip, family visits, and a gaming con )It wasn't until Sunday evening that we finally got around to actually playing in a role-playing game instead of board games and card games. Part of that was the fact that I am limited to games running in English, and not everyone is interested in running them in English, partly because we were having fun with what we were doing, so didn't really look all that hard for role-playing games. But since it is a role-playing game con, we thought it would be fun to participate in one.

The one we played is called "While the World Ends" (or "Medan världen går under" in Swedish). It was written by a friend of ours, so we travelled 19 hours each way to play a game with someone who lives within walking distance. However, the game was much fun, and totally worth the trip. a description of the game mechanics for this game plus some of our story )

This was my first experience in "story based" roleplaying games, and I quite liked it. Unlike traditional role playing games, which have complex rules (usually focused on combat), this game had very little need for dice, and only six-sided dice were needed at all. The emphasis was on creating an interesting story. I have always described myself as a reader, not a writer, so I was a bit sceptical before the game began. However, as it turns out, the cooperative nature and the formula for the start makes it easy for even non-writers to participate in the creation of the story and to enjoy the process. I started out content to let the others come up with the first scenes, but once I'd seen how it worked it was easy to become inspired as to what sort of things my character might try to do to achieve his goal of getting the job in the lab, and then suggest scenes in which he could try them. Perhaps all those years of reading have paid off.
I bought some books )

The train ride home was just as nice as the trip down, and involved some hanging out and chatting (I am rather enjoying being involved with someone with whom I can spend nearly every waking hour of a long weekend, and we still have plenty to talk about on the journey home), some reading, and lots and lots of sleeping.
this week's adventures and fitness goals )
kareina: (me)
On Friday mom and I flew to Finland. We left my apartment at 08:00, flew to Helsinki, and changed planes for the flight to Oulu, which is near the mid-point (north to south) of the country. We were met there by my mother's second cousin, who had driven the seven hours north from the Helsinki area just to pick us up. He took us the 100 km south to the home of one of his aunts, where we stayed for the weekend. We arrived at their house at 20:00, so not quite 12 hours of travel, given the one-hour time change.

A number of other relatives were there, and they greeted us with "a light snack", which consisted of karjalan piirakka, complete with the egg-butter accompaniment, and thin pancakes with strawberry topping. Since my sister (who did her high school exchange in Finland, had told me that I had to try the karjalan piirakka while I was there, it was delightful to be served them as soon as we arrived. The evening was spent getting to know the small group (~8) and trying to learn their names. Mom had the advantage there, as she'd met some of them back in 2002 when she visited some of them in Sweden (many Fins moved to Sweden in the 1960's looking for work, a number of our cousins included--a few of them have returned to Finland in the past few years).


Saturday morning I went for a walk with one of the cousins--there is a lovely trail that starts near their house which is a lighted ski-trail in the winter, but is still a hiking trail just now. Then we joined the more extended family at the Tyyskä house. In the old days in Finland it was the houses which were named, and families took their names from the house. The original house is no longer there, but the replacement, built in the 1950's is still there, still occupied by family, and still in good shape. There were around 30 of us there for a noon meal, which was mostly yummy baked goods. The older folk didn't speak much English, but there were enough from the younger generations who did who were happy to translate.

The differences in the generations are amusing--my mother's grandfather was the eldest child in his family, and the people we met on this trip are descended from a couple of his younger siblings, who stayed in Finland when he moved to the US. Because of the difference in ages between those siblings, combined with differences of when they choose to have their children the "aunts and uncles" we met this trip are all the same age as my mother, but their children, who are the same number of generations removed from the common ancestor as my mother, are mostly younger than I am.

While at the old family home they took us to see the old "smoke sauna" they still have, and compared it with the more modern stove sauna, and the even more modern electric sauna. The "smoke sauna has no stove pipe--the fire is built in a large box, which has rocks on top, and the smoke works its way out between the rocks. As a result the walls are black with soot, and the room smells quite smoky. I don't think I'd care to use that one! The next sauna has a wood stove, with a stove pipe, so the smoke goes away, and the walls are nice, clean, bare wood. That stove also is covered with rocks, which retain the heat and help heat the room. It is necessary to replace the rocks every few years as they loose their heat capacity with repeated use. The electric sauna is more convenient, but all agreed that it wasn't as nice.

After the lunch party broke up we were taken to see the house where my mother's father had been born. His parents moved to the US twice. Once before he was born; his elder brother was born in the US. Then they returned to Finland for a few years, and my grandfather was born there. Then, when he was two years old they returned to the States, this time for good. One of the older uncles says that he can recall his parents getting letters from mom's grandfather when he was young. However, mom has no memory of her grandfather ever mentioning family in Finland, so she was rather surprised when a Finnish cousin (living in Sweden at the time) contacted her to see if they were related (he'd been given her address by the son of mom's brother, who still has the surname Tyyskä, since my cousin didn't have a copy of the family tree, but knew that my mother did).

We returned to the house at which we were staying on time for the evening meal, at 16:00. Can I tell you how very pleased I was to be visiting people who like their meals on the same schedule my body wants them? So many people in other places think that the evening meal should be hours later than that, but I need my food early! Many of the people who had been to the afternoon gathering made it for dinner too, and a few others who hadn't been able to attend the afternoon as well. It was a delightful evening full of good food, good company, and good music. After most people went home they warmed up the sauna, and we took turns enjoying that relaxation (their sauna is inside the house, and rather small--two at a time is actually a very reasonable number for that sauna, though I would have prefered more company).

Sunday morning we had time for more visiting with our hosts and the other family who had been spending the most time with us before we had to return to the airport for the flights home. Even though it was such a short visit both mom and I felt amazingly welcomed, and like we fit in and belonged. I want to meet my cousins Carola and Carina, who still live in Sweden--their mother says I not only resemble them, but have some of the same gestures and patterns of movement. We were all sad when it was time to leave, and tears were shed from more than one eye. I'm so glad we went, and I look forward to keeping in touch with these delightful, kind, generous people.

Most of the photos are on mom's camera, and we don't have the cable to get them off of that, so sharing them will have to wait till she returns to the US next week...

Needless to say, I made no progress on my uni work while there (though I did remember to read my 1000 words a day each day--I'm up to 277 days in a row this time--that is 70% of the days that have happened since starting my post-doc, and 25% of the days since I decided to start reading 1000 words of geologic literature a day). Today I managed to make some progress on my speech for an upcoming talk, and made a new MgO tube for the next experiment I will run. I've got about an hour left available this evening for work before I need to head home--it is important that I be on day shift next week, so I will start this week, and see if I can keep to the schedule.
kareina: (me)
On Friday mom and I flew to Finland. We left my apartment at 08:00, flew to Helsinki, and changed planes for the flight to Oulu, which is near the mid-point (north to south) of the country. We were met there by my mother's second cousin, who had driven the seven hours north from the Helsinki area just to pick us up. He took us the 100 km south to the home of one of his aunts, where we stayed for the weekend. We arrived at their house at 20:00, so not quite 12 hours of travel, given the one-hour time change.

A number of other relatives were there, and they greeted us with "a light snack", which consisted of karjalan piirakka, complete with the egg-butter accompaniment, and thin pancakes with strawberry topping. Since my sister (who did her high school exchange in Finland, had told me that I had to try the karjalan piirakka while I was there, it was delightful to be served them as soon as we arrived. The evening was spent getting to know the small group (~8) and trying to learn their names. Mom had the advantage there, as she'd met some of them back in 2002 when she visited some of them in Sweden (many Fins moved to Sweden in the 1960's looking for work, a number of our cousins included--a few of them have returned to Finland in the past few years).


Saturday morning I went for a walk with one of the cousins--there is a lovely trail that starts near their house which is a lighted ski-trail in the winter, but is still a hiking trail just now. Then we joined the more extended family at the Tyyskä house. In the old days in Finland it was the houses which were named, and families took their names from the house. The original house is no longer there, but the replacement, built in the 1950's is still there, still occupied by family, and still in good shape. There were around 30 of us there for a noon meal, which was mostly yummy baked goods. The older folk didn't speak much English, but there were enough from the younger generations who did who were happy to translate.

The differences in the generations are amusing--my mother's grandfather was the eldest child in his family, and the people we met on this trip are descended from a couple of his younger siblings, who stayed in Finland when he moved to the US. Because of the difference in ages between those siblings, combined with differences of when they choose to have their children the "aunts and uncles" we met this trip are all the same age as my mother, but their children, who are the same number of generations removed from the common ancestor as my mother, are mostly younger than I am.

While at the old family home they took us to see the old "smoke sauna" they still have, and compared it with the more modern stove sauna, and the even more modern electric sauna. The "smoke sauna has no stove pipe--the fire is built in a large box, which has rocks on top, and the smoke works its way out between the rocks. As a result the walls are black with soot, and the room smells quite smoky. I don't think I'd care to use that one! The next sauna has a wood stove, with a stove pipe, so the smoke goes away, and the walls are nice, clean, bare wood. That stove also is covered with rocks, which retain the heat and help heat the room. It is necessary to replace the rocks every few years as they loose their heat capacity with repeated use. The electric sauna is more convenient, but all agreed that it wasn't as nice.

After the lunch party broke up we were taken to see the house where my mother's father had been born. His parents moved to the US twice. Once before he was born; his elder brother was born in the US. Then they returned to Finland for a few years, and my grandfather was born there. Then, when he was two years old they returned to the States, this time for good. One of the older uncles says that he can recall his parents getting letters from mom's grandfather when he was young. However, mom has no memory of her grandfather ever mentioning family in Finland, so she was rather surprised when a Finnish cousin (living in Sweden at the time) contacted her to see if they were related (he'd been given her address by the son of mom's brother, who still has the surname Tyyskä, since my cousin didn't have a copy of the family tree, but knew that my mother did).

We returned to the house at which we were staying on time for the evening meal, at 16:00. Can I tell you how very pleased I was to be visiting people who like their meals on the same schedule my body wants them? So many people in other places think that the evening meal should be hours later than that, but I need my food early! Many of the people who had been to the afternoon gathering made it for dinner too, and a few others who hadn't been able to attend the afternoon as well. It was a delightful evening full of good food, good company, and good music. After most people went home they warmed up the sauna, and we took turns enjoying that relaxation (their sauna is inside the house, and rather small--two at a time is actually a very reasonable number for that sauna, though I would have prefered more company).

Sunday morning we had time for more visiting with our hosts and the other family who had been spending the most time with us before we had to return to the airport for the flights home. Even though it was such a short visit both mom and I felt amazingly welcomed, and like we fit in and belonged. I want to meet my cousins Carola and Carina, who still live in Sweden--their mother says I not only resemble them, but have some of the same gestures and patterns of movement. We were all sad when it was time to leave, and tears were shed from more than one eye. I'm so glad we went, and I look forward to keeping in touch with these delightful, kind, generous people.

Most of the photos are on mom's camera, and we don't have the cable to get them off of that, so sharing them will have to wait till she returns to the US next week...

Needless to say, I made no progress on my uni work while there (though I did remember to read my 1000 words a day each day--I'm up to 277 days in a row this time--that is 70% of the days that have happened since starting my post-doc, and 25% of the days since I decided to start reading 1000 words of geologic literature a day). Today I managed to make some progress on my speech for an upcoming talk, and made a new MgO tube for the next experiment I will run. I've got about an hour left available this evening for work before I need to head home--it is important that I be on day shift next week, so I will start this week, and see if I can keep to the schedule.
kareina: (me)
Or perhaps it is the computer issues. Or perhaps having lots of work to do and job applications to complete. Whatever it is, I have not been posting as often as I once did.

So, what have I been up to? My mother arrived on Saturday afternoon. I took the bus out to the airport to meet her, and we took the train to the city center and then the Metro home from there. That gave me enough time to finally complete both my three-fingered gloves and my fingerless gloves that had been nearly done since returning from the Textile Forum. Our entertainment of the evening was cooking dinner (I had the foresight to leave bread dough rising so that it was ready to bake when we got home) and a short stroll around the neighbourhood.

Sunday morning we did a bit of sight-seeing in the city center before we went to a bbq hosted by the other SCA family in Milan. They had some non-SCA other guests, and a very pleasant time was had by all. Having finished my two nålbinding projects in progress the day before, I started a new one from the beautiful dark blue baby llama wool that followed me home from Vienna. The highlight of our morning sightseeing, for me, was heading up to the roof of the cathedral to admire the view of the Alps. Since it had rained heavily on Friday and Saturday the air was clear, and the full range was very visible. Mom choose to relax and people-watch on a bench while I went up the roof; she isn't fond of heights. She commented "even seeing those people up there gives me vertigo". Then she pointed to the roof, and I realized that we could, in fact, see people up there--much to my surprise, since we were standing on the far side of the cathedral than the part of the roof I have normally visited. Accordingly, when I reached the roof this time, instead of ignoring the short side-passage with the sign pointing to the lift (elevator for the Americans in my audience) I decided to walk down it. Much to my surprise, the passage went further than I'd guessed, and led not only to the lift, but to the whole other half of the roof. So I wound spending a good 30 minutes up there exploring the parts I'd not yet seen, as well as returning to my favorite part (the highest part they will let us access) and admiring the view). Luckily mom enjoyed her people-watching, though, perhaps, not as much as I enjoyed my time "up".

Monday and Tuesday I worked during the day, with slightly longer than usual lunch breaks to spend with her, and in the evenings we worked on my CV and cover letter for one of my job applications. Today I submitted that application--it wasn't actually due till Friday, but I don't like leaving such things to the last day, and I am scheduled to use the microprobe tomorrow. Then I looked at the calender, and saw that two others are due on Monday. Since we are planing on heading out of town on adventures this weekend, I decided that I may as well apply for them today, too. Now that I've done the major revisions of the application packets for the one I submitted last week, and the one I did early today, it was a fairly easy matter to assemble relevant paragraphs and edit the job-specific info to make two new application packets. Perhaps if the other two were in as desirable a location as the first I would have taken a bit more time with them. But at least all three sound like fun jobs. This brings my total to 12 positions applied to since 30 June, and 8 more with due-dates between 15 Oct and 10 Dec. It will be interesting to see how many lead to interviews. I'm not as hopeful for the ones summited earlier, but I feel that the recent packets were quite good, and I would be surprised if none of them make interview stage. Then again--it matters just as much who else is applying, so anything is possible.

My progress report for the week: Welded shut a capsule for my next experiment on my first try, and it felt easy. Temperature really does matter. Don't bother trying to do this in the summer--wait till it cools off, the stress of failure isn't worth it, and you won't get one to work, anyway. Still need to do one more, but then again, we already decided that we wouldn't run the next experiment till we see the results from the last, and I'm not scheduled for more microprobe time till tomorrow. I guess this means that I had better do more welding on Friday morning before mom and I pick up our rental car and head to the Schnals Valley (where I lived for a week during the Textile Forum).

We decided not to go to Cairo--my cousin there is doing a lot of travel for work just now, so wouldn't have been available to properly host us, and the temperatures there are, he reports, still around 95 F. However, the following weekend we are flying to Finland to visit family--descendants of her grandfather's brother, who remained in Finland when her grandfather moved to the US. She's met one of them before (with whom we've made the arrangements), but this will be my first time to meet any of them.
kareina: (me)
Or perhaps it is the computer issues. Or perhaps having lots of work to do and job applications to complete. Whatever it is, I have not been posting as often as I once did.

So, what have I been up to? My mother arrived on Saturday afternoon. I took the bus out to the airport to meet her, and we took the train to the city center and then the Metro home from there. That gave me enough time to finally complete both my three-fingered gloves and my fingerless gloves that had been nearly done since returning from the Textile Forum. Our entertainment of the evening was cooking dinner (I had the foresight to leave bread dough rising so that it was ready to bake when we got home) and a short stroll around the neighbourhood.

Sunday morning we did a bit of sight-seeing in the city center before we went to a bbq hosted by the other SCA family in Milan. They had some non-SCA other guests, and a very pleasant time was had by all. Having finished my two nålbinding projects in progress the day before, I started a new one from the beautiful dark blue baby llama wool that followed me home from Vienna. The highlight of our morning sightseeing, for me, was heading up to the roof of the cathedral to admire the view of the Alps. Since it had rained heavily on Friday and Saturday the air was clear, and the full range was very visible. Mom choose to relax and people-watch on a bench while I went up the roof; she isn't fond of heights. She commented "even seeing those people up there gives me vertigo". Then she pointed to the roof, and I realized that we could, in fact, see people up there--much to my surprise, since we were standing on the far side of the cathedral than the part of the roof I have normally visited. Accordingly, when I reached the roof this time, instead of ignoring the short side-passage with the sign pointing to the lift (elevator for the Americans in my audience) I decided to walk down it. Much to my surprise, the passage went further than I'd guessed, and led not only to the lift, but to the whole other half of the roof. So I wound spending a good 30 minutes up there exploring the parts I'd not yet seen, as well as returning to my favorite part (the highest part they will let us access) and admiring the view). Luckily mom enjoyed her people-watching, though, perhaps, not as much as I enjoyed my time "up".

Monday and Tuesday I worked during the day, with slightly longer than usual lunch breaks to spend with her, and in the evenings we worked on my CV and cover letter for one of my job applications. Today I submitted that application--it wasn't actually due till Friday, but I don't like leaving such things to the last day, and I am scheduled to use the microprobe tomorrow. Then I looked at the calender, and saw that two others are due on Monday. Since we are planing on heading out of town on adventures this weekend, I decided that I may as well apply for them today, too. Now that I've done the major revisions of the application packets for the one I submitted last week, and the one I did early today, it was a fairly easy matter to assemble relevant paragraphs and edit the job-specific info to make two new application packets. Perhaps if the other two were in as desirable a location as the first I would have taken a bit more time with them. But at least all three sound like fun jobs. This brings my total to 12 positions applied to since 30 June, and 8 more with due-dates between 15 Oct and 10 Dec. It will be interesting to see how many lead to interviews. I'm not as hopeful for the ones summited earlier, but I feel that the recent packets were quite good, and I would be surprised if none of them make interview stage. Then again--it matters just as much who else is applying, so anything is possible.

My progress report for the week: Welded shut a capsule for my next experiment on my first try, and it felt easy. Temperature really does matter. Don't bother trying to do this in the summer--wait till it cools off, the stress of failure isn't worth it, and you won't get one to work, anyway. Still need to do one more, but then again, we already decided that we wouldn't run the next experiment till we see the results from the last, and I'm not scheduled for more microprobe time till tomorrow. I guess this means that I had better do more welding on Friday morning before mom and I pick up our rental car and head to the Schnals Valley (where I lived for a week during the Textile Forum).

We decided not to go to Cairo--my cousin there is doing a lot of travel for work just now, so wouldn't have been available to properly host us, and the temperatures there are, he reports, still around 95 F. However, the following weekend we are flying to Finland to visit family--descendants of her grandfather's brother, who remained in Finland when her grandfather moved to the US. She's met one of them before (with whom we've made the arrangements), but this will be my first time to meet any of them.
kareina: (me)
After a delightful visit with cousins in Copper Center I drove back to Wasillia with my cousins K. & R. on Christmas Eve. We left there about 15:30, so as evening was coming on, but it was still light enough to see the mountains when we left behind the broad valley of the Copper River basin and started up into the hills. After we passed Gunsight Mountain (I am ashamed to admit that I'd been driving past that mountain for years before I made the connection between the name of the peak at that distinctive square notch in the peak which resembles the notch in a gun used for sighting) we stopped at a pull out so the boys could fire a few tracer shots from their .50 caliber. They shot at the bluff on the far side of the river (checking the topo map when we got home, the bluff was about a mile from the highway at that point). Since the bullets were moving directly away from us they looked to be moving rather slowly, in a pretty red arc (though I know that were they coming towards us they would have been moving much to quickly to avoid if we were unfortunate enough to be in their path). One of the shots hit the top of the bluff and ricocheted back up into the air for a bit. It is really kind of impressive that tool users are able to throw the functional equivalent of a rock for such a great distance, really. Pity that the only two reasons one might do so are 1) for the fun of seeing it fly (like we did) or 2) to cause harm to another (sadly, the reason the technology was developed). Soon after we returned to the road we passed the cute little octagonal cabin that I loved as a child--I'd make up any number of stories about living in it and enjoying the mountains every day, instead of just driving through them once every month or so to see family up north to entertain myself as we drove. A bit further south we passed a small peak with the official name of Lion Head Rock, but which my cousins always said looked like a nipple, but my sister and I, who must have been hungry when first we saw it, thought looked like a chicken drumstick laying up against the side of a hill (the photo in the link isn't quite taken from the correct angle to show that illusion--I couldn't find one taken from the correct spot, and it was too dark for me to take a photo whilst driving). No matter what one thinks it looks like, it is easy to tell from looking at it that it is what is left of the core of an old volcano, like Pilot Rock in Oregon. Funny that I never noticed that before, even though I have done this drive a few times since I started studying geology. It took my cousin mentioning in conversation that is what the peak is, about an hour before we passed it on the way up to get me to say "yes, that is exactly what it looks like!". When I was young the four-hour drive seemed to take ages, but now it seems pretty quick, and it took little more time before we were passing King Mountain, and not much longer there after before we were back at K's house in Wasillia.

We enjoyed a quite Chirstmas Eve with his wife, sons, and a friend of theirs who is visiting from the lower '48, and I got to sleep by 01:00. I heard him and his two-year old moving by 07:30, and though I could easily have gone back to sleep, I decided that since I was sleeping on an air-mattress in front of the tree, I should probably get up so that when they were ready to unwrap presents I'd be out of the way. Cousin R. came back out to enjoy Chirstmas dinner with us, as did K's wife's dad, step-mom, and two dogs (both of whom are as quiet and well-mannered as K's dog). We had a lovely feast, at which I ate more than I should, and during the course of the day I stitched up a small Christmas tree ornament for them. They were pleased to receive a hand-made gift, and I had the fun of making it. I took photos, but, alas, I left the connecting cable for the camera in Italy, so sharing it will have to wait till I return next month. After dinner I got a ride with R. back to Anchorage to the home of my SCA brother, who owns his own house (purchased two years ago, when he was only 20). I may well wind up going to stay with other folk between now and when I fly to Fairbanks, but since there is a guest room here I've unpacked my suitcase into the closet--if I go spend a day or two elsewhere I'll just take a change of clothes in my carry-on luggage, rather than dragging along everything, including the costumes brought for events.

They've bid me to make myself at home, and gave me free reign in the kitchen, so I baked more braided bread today. I love having friends and family who will let me do that.

While I've called a few people, no one has been home, so it looks like I'll probably make it an early night and catch up on my sleep, and see if I can finish shaking off the hint of sniffles that I've picked up in my travels.
kareina: (me)
After a delightful visit with cousins in Copper Center I drove back to Wasillia with my cousins K. & R. on Christmas Eve. We left there about 15:30, so as evening was coming on, but it was still light enough to see the mountains when we left behind the broad valley of the Copper River basin and started up into the hills. After we passed Gunsight Mountain (I am ashamed to admit that I'd been driving past that mountain for years before I made the connection between the name of the peak at that distinctive square notch in the peak which resembles the notch in a gun used for sighting) we stopped at a pull out so the boys could fire a few tracer shots from their .50 caliber. They shot at the bluff on the far side of the river (checking the topo map when we got home, the bluff was about a mile from the highway at that point). Since the bullets were moving directly away from us they looked to be moving rather slowly, in a pretty red arc (though I know that were they coming towards us they would have been moving much to quickly to avoid if we were unfortunate enough to be in their path). One of the shots hit the top of the bluff and ricocheted back up into the air for a bit. It is really kind of impressive that tool users are able to throw the functional equivalent of a rock for such a great distance, really. Pity that the only two reasons one might do so are 1) for the fun of seeing it fly (like we did) or 2) to cause harm to another (sadly, the reason the technology was developed). Soon after we returned to the road we passed the cute little octagonal cabin that I loved as a child--I'd make up any number of stories about living in it and enjoying the mountains every day, instead of just driving through them once every month or so to see family up north to entertain myself as we drove. A bit further south we passed a small peak with the official name of Lion Head Rock, but which my cousins always said looked like a nipple, but my sister and I, who must have been hungry when first we saw it, thought looked like a chicken drumstick laying up against the side of a hill (the photo in the link isn't quite taken from the correct angle to show that illusion--I couldn't find one taken from the correct spot, and it was too dark for me to take a photo whilst driving). No matter what one thinks it looks like, it is easy to tell from looking at it that it is what is left of the core of an old volcano, like Pilot Rock in Oregon. Funny that I never noticed that before, even though I have done this drive a few times since I started studying geology. It took my cousin mentioning in conversation that is what the peak is, about an hour before we passed it on the way up to get me to say "yes, that is exactly what it looks like!". When I was young the four-hour drive seemed to take ages, but now it seems pretty quick, and it took little more time before we were passing King Mountain, and not much longer there after before we were back at K's house in Wasillia.

We enjoyed a quite Chirstmas Eve with his wife, sons, and a friend of theirs who is visiting from the lower '48, and I got to sleep by 01:00. I heard him and his two-year old moving by 07:30, and though I could easily have gone back to sleep, I decided that since I was sleeping on an air-mattress in front of the tree, I should probably get up so that when they were ready to unwrap presents I'd be out of the way. Cousin R. came back out to enjoy Chirstmas dinner with us, as did K's wife's dad, step-mom, and two dogs (both of whom are as quiet and well-mannered as K's dog). We had a lovely feast, at which I ate more than I should, and during the course of the day I stitched up a small Christmas tree ornament for them. They were pleased to receive a hand-made gift, and I had the fun of making it. I took photos, but, alas, I left the connecting cable for the camera in Italy, so sharing it will have to wait till I return next month. After dinner I got a ride with R. back to Anchorage to the home of my SCA brother, who owns his own house (purchased two years ago, when he was only 20). I may well wind up going to stay with other folk between now and when I fly to Fairbanks, but since there is a guest room here I've unpacked my suitcase into the closet--if I go spend a day or two elsewhere I'll just take a change of clothes in my carry-on luggage, rather than dragging along everything, including the costumes brought for events.

They've bid me to make myself at home, and gave me free reign in the kitchen, so I baked more braided bread today. I love having friends and family who will let me do that.

While I've called a few people, no one has been home, so it looks like I'll probably make it an early night and catch up on my sleep, and see if I can finish shaking off the hint of sniffles that I've picked up in my travels.
kareina: (me)
I arrived in Anchorage on Monday afternoon, after a pleasant flight wherin I accomplished more sewing on my winter coat in progress, getting the cuffs and collar attached (thus making it much more wearable!). Before boarding the plane I enjoyed one of those "small world" moments which is so common in Alaska. A woman sat down next to me in the boarding area, and we got to chatting. I thought she looked kind of familiar, and just then she shifted her boarding pass so that I could see her name. Causing me to say "wait, I know you!". She is the mother of one of my highschool boyfriends, and one of my friends on Facebook. I wouldn't have recognized her name if not for the latter--she changed back to her maiden name after her second divorce years ago, but when I knew her she was using the surname of her children's father. She told me that she thought I looked familiar too, and had been thinking to herself that I looked to be about the same age as her kids, and wondering if I had attended Steller.

I was met at the airport by a friend with whom I had attended highschool. He and I didn't really get to know one another then--he was several grades ahead of me, and I idolized his circle of friends, but didn't hang out with them. However, we've gotten to know one another via facebook, and he'd sent me a message saying that if I made it back to Alaska I should come visit, so I took him up on it. I'm glad I did, I had much fun hanging out with his family. They let me play in the kitchen, baking them an apple pie on Monday after dinner. I do them they way my aunt taught me, piling fresh sliced apples more than twice the hight of the pie plate and covering them with spiced sugar and a bit of butter before doming the pie crust over all. Then bake a short time in a hot oven, to get the crust to solidify in place before turning the heat down and letting the apples cook down till they just fill the shell bottom. They've got a *nice* stove/oven. After the pie went into the oven we played Settlers of Cattan till after midnight. (There are advantages to visiting during school holidays--the kids are permitted to stay up late if they are behaving themselves and being pleasant company.) On Tuesday I baked a particularly soft and yummy braided loaf of bread, using buttermilk for the liquid. Tuesday afternoon I went for a short walk to admire the view--it is so nice to be back in Anchorage and have the lovely Chugach Range for a backdrop. I'm also overjoyed to be some place with real snow again. Tuesday evening I went sledding for the first time in at least a decade. Fun! I should really do this more often.

On Wednesday morning I was picked up by my cousin R., and we drove out to Wasilla to his brother K.'s house. After a brief visit there we three drove up to Copper Center (about four hour drive north) to the home of their brother S. I truly enjoyed that drive--the mountains through which we drive are beautiful. We used to do that drive quite a few times a year when I was a kid, since my cousins lived in the Sourdough area. Even when I was little I'd spend the drive with my eyes glued to the window admiring the beauty of the mountains.

We arrived as S.'s wife K. was finishing up some holiday pies, and she let me make the bread dough for the breadsticks for her holiday party today. Since she had a half gallon of cream in the fridge I opted for a rich loaf--I used two cups of cream, two of milk, two eggs, and some hot water for the liquid, added about a half a stick of butter, a spoonful of honey, and enough flour (mostly white, but some whole wheat) to make up enough dough for six loaves of bread (she's expecting 43 people for tonight's gathering). We three pans of breadsticks, and then I showed her how to make crescent rolls with the rest of the dough. Again the bread came out very soft and yummy, and we've eaten a fair few of the rolls already, and guests aren't expected to start arriving for hours.

I won't see the arrival of the guests. K., R., and I will be driving back to Wasilla this afternoon so that K. can spend Christmas with his wife and sons. R. will be flying out on Tuesday, and I'll probably be spending time with friends in Anchorage after Christmas and before I fly to Fairbanks on the 30th. Now I just need to contact people and make arrangements for where I will be going next. Sure hope they let me do baking wherever I wind up, too, I'm liking having access to better ovens than the tiny toaster oven I've got in Milan.
kareina: (me)
I arrived in Anchorage on Monday afternoon, after a pleasant flight wherin I accomplished more sewing on my winter coat in progress, getting the cuffs and collar attached (thus making it much more wearable!). Before boarding the plane I enjoyed one of those "small world" moments which is so common in Alaska. A woman sat down next to me in the boarding area, and we got to chatting. I thought she looked kind of familiar, and just then she shifted her boarding pass so that I could see her name. Causing me to say "wait, I know you!". She is the mother of one of my highschool boyfriends, and one of my friends on Facebook. I wouldn't have recognized her name if not for the latter--she changed back to her maiden name after her second divorce years ago, but when I knew her she was using the surname of her children's father. She told me that she thought I looked familiar too, and had been thinking to herself that I looked to be about the same age as her kids, and wondering if I had attended Steller.

I was met at the airport by a friend with whom I had attended highschool. He and I didn't really get to know one another then--he was several grades ahead of me, and I idolized his circle of friends, but didn't hang out with them. However, we've gotten to know one another via facebook, and he'd sent me a message saying that if I made it back to Alaska I should come visit, so I took him up on it. I'm glad I did, I had much fun hanging out with his family. They let me play in the kitchen, baking them an apple pie on Monday after dinner. I do them they way my aunt taught me, piling fresh sliced apples more than twice the hight of the pie plate and covering them with spiced sugar and a bit of butter before doming the pie crust over all. Then bake a short time in a hot oven, to get the crust to solidify in place before turning the heat down and letting the apples cook down till they just fill the shell bottom. They've got a *nice* stove/oven. After the pie went into the oven we played Settlers of Cattan till after midnight. (There are advantages to visiting during school holidays--the kids are permitted to stay up late if they are behaving themselves and being pleasant company.) On Tuesday I baked a particularly soft and yummy braided loaf of bread, using buttermilk for the liquid. Tuesday afternoon I went for a short walk to admire the view--it is so nice to be back in Anchorage and have the lovely Chugach Range for a backdrop. I'm also overjoyed to be some place with real snow again. Tuesday evening I went sledding for the first time in at least a decade. Fun! I should really do this more often.

On Wednesday morning I was picked up by my cousin R., and we drove out to Wasilla to his brother K.'s house. After a brief visit there we three drove up to Copper Center (about four hour drive north) to the home of their brother S. I truly enjoyed that drive--the mountains through which we drive are beautiful. We used to do that drive quite a few times a year when I was a kid, since my cousins lived in the Sourdough area. Even when I was little I'd spend the drive with my eyes glued to the window admiring the beauty of the mountains.

We arrived as S.'s wife K. was finishing up some holiday pies, and she let me make the bread dough for the breadsticks for her holiday party today. Since she had a half gallon of cream in the fridge I opted for a rich loaf--I used two cups of cream, two of milk, two eggs, and some hot water for the liquid, added about a half a stick of butter, a spoonful of honey, and enough flour (mostly white, but some whole wheat) to make up enough dough for six loaves of bread (she's expecting 43 people for tonight's gathering). We three pans of breadsticks, and then I showed her how to make crescent rolls with the rest of the dough. Again the bread came out very soft and yummy, and we've eaten a fair few of the rolls already, and guests aren't expected to start arriving for hours.

I won't see the arrival of the guests. K., R., and I will be driving back to Wasilla this afternoon so that K. can spend Christmas with his wife and sons. R. will be flying out on Tuesday, and I'll probably be spending time with friends in Anchorage after Christmas and before I fly to Fairbanks on the 30th. Now I just need to contact people and make arrangements for where I will be going next. Sure hope they let me do baking wherever I wind up, too, I'm liking having access to better ovens than the tiny toaster oven I've got in Milan.
kareina: (me)
Spent yesterday with the family in Seattle. It was my nephew's 4th birthday, so we went to a berry farm in the morning. I can report that while the raspberries are still very early in the season in the Seattle area, there were enough ripe on the vines to make it worth the effort, thought the largest ones were on the dry side (and so weren't often put into the buckets, but were tasted several times to see if they were any different. This place seems to have several varieties, since there was quite a difference from row to row in the size/shape/taste/level of ripeness of the berries. After picking berries we spent time at their amusement park, which the kids loved. Then back to my sister's house, where I got laundry started, got a nap, and then spent more time with the family before deciding that I would walk up to the store and get some dried fruit and nuts to make hais for travel food (my version uses much less in the way of bread crumbs, and adds other fruits in addition to the dates--it is different every time. This time the store didn't have any pistachios, so I used almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. It also had very little in the way of dried fruit choices, so I just used dates and dried cranberries, plus two small figs I hadn't yet eaten from the last store I stopped at). I figure it will be good to have while traveling, and when I first get to Milan, since I don't know if my "room" that the Uni has arranged for me has a kitchen or anything. Once the hais was done I had just enough time for a quick shower and putting the last few things into the luggage before heading to the airport. Got to the gate on time to do yoga before boarding, but nothing else. Had a pleasant flight--nice and short (only three hours). Actually watched the in-flight movie while doing sewing--a sci/fi/fantasy/kung fu movie that was kind of cute, and then got a nap.

Landed at 05:00 and was met by my aunt and cousin. I'd last seen her at my step-sister's wedding a number of years ago, but I hadn't seen him since we were 16! Enjoyed the drive back to her house, getting caught up on the news of decades. Stopped along the way for breakfast, an d then took a nap when we got back to the house. Woke up around 1pm when my cousin returned, this time with his wife, a couple of his kids, and his granddaughter. (How can someone younger than I have a granddaughter?! Sure, he's only two months younger, and he did father his first child quite young, but still!) I'd like to compare photos of the little blue-eyed blond granddaughter with pictures of me at that age, I think I see a resemblance. Had a delightful time visiting with them all, and we made home-made pizza for supper. Was challenged a bit with the pizza dough, as the yeast in the house was a bit old, but it is good that we figured it out, because the plan for tomorrow is to bake garlic bread (with little pockets of soft, roasted garlic in it).

After the cousins went home my aunt and I soaked in her hot tub (nice!) and then I did yoga while she watched a movie. I confess to getting sucked in to the movie, and so I fetched my sewing once I'd done with stretching and saw it through to the (predictable) end. Two movies in two days--so not like me.

Tomorrow the rest of my cousins are coming over for a bbq, and a couple of my friends from An Tir who settled out this way will pick me up. I'll spend Monday with them before flying out Monday night.
kareina: (me)
Spent yesterday with the family in Seattle. It was my nephew's 4th birthday, so we went to a berry farm in the morning. I can report that while the raspberries are still very early in the season in the Seattle area, there were enough ripe on the vines to make it worth the effort, thought the largest ones were on the dry side (and so weren't often put into the buckets, but were tasted several times to see if they were any different. This place seems to have several varieties, since there was quite a difference from row to row in the size/shape/taste/level of ripeness of the berries. After picking berries we spent time at their amusement park, which the kids loved. Then back to my sister's house, where I got laundry started, got a nap, and then spent more time with the family before deciding that I would walk up to the store and get some dried fruit and nuts to make hais for travel food (my version uses much less in the way of bread crumbs, and adds other fruits in addition to the dates--it is different every time. This time the store didn't have any pistachios, so I used almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and walnuts. It also had very little in the way of dried fruit choices, so I just used dates and dried cranberries, plus two small figs I hadn't yet eaten from the last store I stopped at). I figure it will be good to have while traveling, and when I first get to Milan, since I don't know if my "room" that the Uni has arranged for me has a kitchen or anything. Once the hais was done I had just enough time for a quick shower and putting the last few things into the luggage before heading to the airport. Got to the gate on time to do yoga before boarding, but nothing else. Had a pleasant flight--nice and short (only three hours). Actually watched the in-flight movie while doing sewing--a sci/fi/fantasy/kung fu movie that was kind of cute, and then got a nap.

Landed at 05:00 and was met by my aunt and cousin. I'd last seen her at my step-sister's wedding a number of years ago, but I hadn't seen him since we were 16! Enjoyed the drive back to her house, getting caught up on the news of decades. Stopped along the way for breakfast, an d then took a nap when we got back to the house. Woke up around 1pm when my cousin returned, this time with his wife, a couple of his kids, and his granddaughter. (How can someone younger than I have a granddaughter?! Sure, he's only two months younger, and he did father his first child quite young, but still!) I'd like to compare photos of the little blue-eyed blond granddaughter with pictures of me at that age, I think I see a resemblance. Had a delightful time visiting with them all, and we made home-made pizza for supper. Was challenged a bit with the pizza dough, as the yeast in the house was a bit old, but it is good that we figured it out, because the plan for tomorrow is to bake garlic bread (with little pockets of soft, roasted garlic in it).

After the cousins went home my aunt and I soaked in her hot tub (nice!) and then I did yoga while she watched a movie. I confess to getting sucked in to the movie, and so I fetched my sewing once I'd done with stretching and saw it through to the (predictable) end. Two movies in two days--so not like me.

Tomorrow the rest of my cousins are coming over for a bbq, and a couple of my friends from An Tir who settled out this way will pick me up. I'll spend Monday with them before flying out Monday night.
kareina: (me)
Several days have slipped by without posting as I've travelled around the greater Seattle area visiting friends.

Monday evening I went to hear Tania perform in Tacoma. This show had a better turn-out than did the Friday show, and she'd had another couple of days to recover from her jet lag from her return from Ireland. She did a fabulous job, as she always does, with a good mix of old favourite songs and things I'd not heard before. (When she did the set list she deliberately selected stuff she hadn't done on Friday, since I'd told her I'd try to catch Monday's show too). The other audience members looked surprised when I actually managed to sing along on the chorus of the Russian song about the birch tree and the rabbits. But then, I bought the tape upon which she has that song recorded many years ago, so I'd have been surprised if I couldn't.

Tuesday morning was spent at my sister's house with family, then Tuesday afternoon I accompanied Tania over the water to the Indian Reservation upon which she lives. This was much fun--we cooked yummy food (including fresh bread) and went for a walk into lovely down town Suquamish, where I saw Chief Seattle's grave. I hadn't known that the city was named after a person before, so the trip was educational as well as fun. This is the first time she and I have had that much time to just hang out together, though we've known one another since I was still in highschool. We've always lived in different cities, so only see one another when one or the other of us is visiting the area. I'm very glad I made the time for it, it was truly a highlight of my trip so far. Tuesday evening I caught the ferry back over the water and went to [livejournal.com profile] josiestraka's house for the evening. It was good to get to spend a bit more time with her and her family before leaving town.

Wednesday I returned to my sister's house during the day and enjoyed the chaos which is caused by the houseful (remember that my Australian step-sister, her husband, and their two children are also visiting just now and that my mother, sister, her husband, and two children live here--this adds up to four kids under five years of age in the house). In the evening I went down to Olympia to see [livejournal.com profile] maeva00, [livejournal.com profile] ariadne3, and Bill. It was a delight to see them, and see how much has changed at their house (I saw it last many, many years ago, soon after he bought the place). They fed me squash blossoms, whcih they coated with fresh egg from their hens and a spiced breading and then cooked over an open fire. Yum!

I stayed the night at their place, and this morning as I finished eating breakfast I received a call from my sister, wondering if I could bring the car back as the other two were in use already, and she wanted to do some grocery shopping today. So I hurried home (only 1.5 hour drive!) and took a moment to look at e-mail while she and the kids were at the store. Then I borrowed the car again and went over the water the other direction to the Microsoft campus to visit with an old friend from highschool on his lunch break. I took the scenic route back from that trip as I'd noticed that the bridge over the lake was completely backed up with parked traffic in the towards-Seattle direction, and I didn't much like the thought of sitting in a hot car on a freeway not moving. So I told Mom's GPS to guide me to Bothell, and then once I was there, asked it to guide me home. It was still hot waiting for the traffic lights, but with lights one is certain that it will change and you will start moving again. There are no such guarantees when traffic stops on a bridge.

In the morning the whole family will be going to a berry farm to pick raspberries and celebrate my oldest nephew's fourth birthday. In the afternoon there will be further birthday celebrations at the house, and at night I board a plane to Chicago, where my cousin from Racine will pick me up and take me to Wisconsin to see family members I've not seen since I was 16. If there is anyone else in Seattle who wants to see me before I go, please let me know ASAP--tomorrow is my last chance. (I'd be ok with missing some of the afternoon birthday stuff to see people, if it comes down to that, but I don't think I'm going to miss the berries in the morning.)
kareina: (me)
Several days have slipped by without posting as I've travelled around the greater Seattle area visiting friends.

Monday evening I went to hear Tania perform in Tacoma. This show had a better turn-out than did the Friday show, and she'd had another couple of days to recover from her jet lag from her return from Ireland. She did a fabulous job, as she always does, with a good mix of old favourite songs and things I'd not heard before. (When she did the set list she deliberately selected stuff she hadn't done on Friday, since I'd told her I'd try to catch Monday's show too). The other audience members looked surprised when I actually managed to sing along on the chorus of the Russian song about the birch tree and the rabbits. But then, I bought the tape upon which she has that song recorded many years ago, so I'd have been surprised if I couldn't.

Tuesday morning was spent at my sister's house with family, then Tuesday afternoon I accompanied Tania over the water to the Indian Reservation upon which she lives. This was much fun--we cooked yummy food (including fresh bread) and went for a walk into lovely down town Suquamish, where I saw Chief Seattle's grave. I hadn't known that the city was named after a person before, so the trip was educational as well as fun. This is the first time she and I have had that much time to just hang out together, though we've known one another since I was still in highschool. We've always lived in different cities, so only see one another when one or the other of us is visiting the area. I'm very glad I made the time for it, it was truly a highlight of my trip so far. Tuesday evening I caught the ferry back over the water and went to [livejournal.com profile] josiestraka's house for the evening. It was good to get to spend a bit more time with her and her family before leaving town.

Wednesday I returned to my sister's house during the day and enjoyed the chaos which is caused by the houseful (remember that my Australian step-sister, her husband, and their two children are also visiting just now and that my mother, sister, her husband, and two children live here--this adds up to four kids under five years of age in the house). In the evening I went down to Olympia to see [livejournal.com profile] maeva00, [livejournal.com profile] ariadne3, and Bill. It was a delight to see them, and see how much has changed at their house (I saw it last many, many years ago, soon after he bought the place). They fed me squash blossoms, whcih they coated with fresh egg from their hens and a spiced breading and then cooked over an open fire. Yum!

I stayed the night at their place, and this morning as I finished eating breakfast I received a call from my sister, wondering if I could bring the car back as the other two were in use already, and she wanted to do some grocery shopping today. So I hurried home (only 1.5 hour drive!) and took a moment to look at e-mail while she and the kids were at the store. Then I borrowed the car again and went over the water the other direction to the Microsoft campus to visit with an old friend from highschool on his lunch break. I took the scenic route back from that trip as I'd noticed that the bridge over the lake was completely backed up with parked traffic in the towards-Seattle direction, and I didn't much like the thought of sitting in a hot car on a freeway not moving. So I told Mom's GPS to guide me to Bothell, and then once I was there, asked it to guide me home. It was still hot waiting for the traffic lights, but with lights one is certain that it will change and you will start moving again. There are no such guarantees when traffic stops on a bridge.

In the morning the whole family will be going to a berry farm to pick raspberries and celebrate my oldest nephew's fourth birthday. In the afternoon there will be further birthday celebrations at the house, and at night I board a plane to Chicago, where my cousin from Racine will pick me up and take me to Wisconsin to see family members I've not seen since I was 16. If there is anyone else in Seattle who wants to see me before I go, please let me know ASAP--tomorrow is my last chance. (I'd be ok with missing some of the afternoon birthday stuff to see people, if it comes down to that, but I don't think I'm going to miss the berries in the morning.)

in Seattle

Jun. 25th, 2009 10:21 pm
kareina: (me)
I've had a peasant couple of days of travel. Got a ride from my knight to Longbeach, were we enjoyed the hospitality of a rented beach house with [livejournal.com profile] josiestraka and her family/friends. This included several long walks along the beach, much good food, and good company. The drive out to the beach house included such highlights as a stop at "Dismal Niche", which name was truly irresistible. Apparently this was the place that Lewis & Clark's party spent many days trapped due to torrential downpour before they could commence their return journey, having successfully found the Pacific Ocean.

Today I've made the trip up to Seattle, and am at my sister's house. I can be reached on my mother's cell phone (206) 484-5960 for those of you who are local--I'd like to see as many folk as I can before I leave town on the 3rd. My oldest niece is now nearly five years old, and she seems to take more after me than her mother in terms of personality. She helped me bake a loaf of bread tonight (I mean that literally--she was truly helpful). Note, she make take after me, but she looks just like her mother did at that age. You can't fool me, sure the eyes are brown and not blue, and the hair may be brown not blond, but that is my little sister, I am certain of it.

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