kareina: (stitched)
There, the grant application that has been taking so much of my time has been submitted. We can re-open it and edit as many times as we like between now and next Wednesday's deadline, but in the worst case, they at least have the current draft. This means I am free to spend tomorrow packing for the weekend's SCA event, and can enjoy the SCA event this weekend. (however, if any of my colleagues sends me comments tomorrow during the day, I will, of course pause from packing to deal with them straight away, but it also won't surprise me if I hear nothing more till Monday)

This has been a fun grant proposal to work on--I have learned a fair bit on how to do them, especially from the comments from Grants Office. I am quite happy with some of the paragraphs I wrote today. But then, it is fairly low stakes for me--if they say yes then there is another post-doc in the department with whom I will work closely, but nothing else changes for me (ok, it gets us one step closer to having the budget for me to go full time, but I don't know that this one alone would be enough for that), and if we don't get it my employment situation doesn't change at all. On the other hand, it would make a huge difference for our potential post doc. But she knows that there is only an 11% success rate, so she isn't holding her breath.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
As I think I mentioned yesterday, my energy levels at work were kinda low and I didn't get much accomplished on my first day back from vacation other than cleaning the junk out of my in-box. After last night's choir I foolishly sat up at the computer till after midnight, and then finally got around to yoga, and headed to bed around 01:00, fully expecting to be tired today, too. This morning, however, I woke up early thinking of an email from my Russian colleague, which inspired me as to a direction one of my Master's students might go in her research, so I sent her a quick email during morning situps, did my workout (which I didn't do yesterday), and triked into the office before 08:00. That was good, as it gave me time to refresh my memory on where we were on that grant application we started last spring before my 09:00 meeting with one of my colleagues to discuss it. That meeting went well, and I returned to my office inspired as to how to fill in the last few missing sections and trim down some of the earlier sections to get us closer to our page limit.

That part of the application, which describes the research project, the post-doc we want to hire for it, and our department, explaining to the evaluation committee why the project is important, why she is the perfect person to do the project, and why ours is the perfect location for the research, can't be more than 10 pages. By 14:00 today I had managed to fill in some text in every section, and shorten the long bits enough that instead of the 12 pages I started the day with, I had only 10 pages plus three extra lines of text. Satisfied with this result, I sent it off to the grants office (who had been warned it would be coming, and who are still willing to give me feedback on it), with questions as to which bit of the "gender dimension" section that I wrote are actually relevant to the evaluation committee, what else, if anything needs cutting, and have we left off any information that would make it better?

I thought to go home at that point, but just then the guy in IT who had been helping me by writing a script to merge a grid of photos from the laser into a single image called, and wondered if it would be a good time to show me how to access and use the script. It was, so we did, and it turns out to be very easy. Now I just need to find the time to take a new set of photos, with a closer spacing this time, so that we can crop off the outermost edge, where the photos get darker as the edge of the field of view on the laser is further from the light source. Then, when I know how much to crop, he will write the next half of the script, so I can crop and stitch with the typing of one simple command.

Just as I finished up that one of my colleagues, who is a structural geologist, stopped by the office with a question. He wanted to know what kinds of depths equate to 1 kb of pressure. My first answer was "not bloody much", and I reached for my copy of the bible of metamorphic petrology and quickly flipped to a diagram like this one, which shows both pressure and depth, one on each side of the diagram. He was quite pleased to hear this, since he has been trying to understand the rocks in his field area, which are very folded, yet lack any clues indicating high pressure. Another of our colleagues had done some P-T work on rocks from that area, and calculated pressures of about 1 kb, which is really low, but temperatures high enough to permit a rock undergo ductile deformation. Apparently there is also brittle deformation in the fold hinges in that area, which also makes sense in a high heat-low pressure area, as the deformation concentrated there could use up enough of the heat to permit the transition to brittle.

I also managed to talk with my other colleague about my idea for the one master's student to work with the samples from Russia, and she likes the idea. Now if the student only likes it, too. Then, just as I was leaving my office to head home, my other Master's student dropped by to make an appointment for tomorrow morning to discuss what she wants to do for her project.

On a normal work day I sit alone in my office and never see or hear anyone. Today I spoke with five different people in the line of duty, and enjoyed it.

To celebrate I came home and made some home made noodles with veg and nuts and seeds. I have the house to myself the next couple of days while [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar and C. are up north visiting one of her friends from uni, who is working at the Naturum Visitor Centre in Laponia, the World Heritage part of Swedish Lappland. I have never been up there, so I would have loved to have joined them, but with the grant proposal mentioned above due on 14 September, I really can't spare the time. Besides, it might be easier for them to look like a normal couple, rather than a triple when visiting a friend from school.

Look, mom, since I have been home I have been good about posting pretty much every day, so you will have something to read. However, now that they are letting you out of the hospital early since you have had such a rapid recovery from your stroke, I don't know if you will have time to keep checking this daily.
kareina: (me)
This week has slipped by very quickly--we have managed several four-hour sessions on earth cellar building, and are now nearing the point where we will be able to start building the framework for the roof. We have also managed to get in some yard work--the first few strawberries and smultrons are starting to ripen, he fixed the ride-on mower (again) and has taken it down to clear something resembling a path between the many black currant bushes, we transplanted a little plant with maple-leaves that had been growing just inside of the carport.

I remember seeing it there early last summer, and wondering if it was a baby tree (there are no maple trees any where in the neighbourhood), but then it got taken out, along with the grass and flowers also trying to grow in that area, when he took the weed-wacker to it. When I saw it again this summer I decided it was cute, and perhaps it should have a chance to live elsewhere. So I moved it to the little triangle of land between the walkways to the house and sheds. Then we set three large red granite old curb stones around it, so that he will remember not to run it over with a lawn mower, and so that none of the paths drift onto it when shoveling snow in the winter. It will be interesting to see if it grows up to be a bush, a tree, or what.

Yesterday afternoon we visited the other local laurel and his family, since [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar had been helping him with some computer repairs, and the part he had been waiting for had finally arrived. They invited us to stay for dinner afterwords, which was lovely (especially as they eat early enough in the evening that I was still hungry!).

Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] lifeofglamour's reports of her regular fitness workouts I finally decided this week to look to see if there were a useful phone app that might encourage me to do a bit more exercise than I get from my daily situps, yoga, and concreting rocks into the earth cellar in progress. I am not inclined to use videos as she does, but I was willing to download one of the simple 30-day challenge apps that only provides a list of which exercises it thinks one should do on a given day, and an illustrated description of how to do them. I can now report that starting from "beginner, level one" (which, so far, is taking me 15 minutes to complete all the exercises for a day) is really easy if one is as active as I am, except for the squats. There is nothing like squats in my normal daily movement patterns, so that one actually gets me to break a sweat. Today was day three, and it involved 75 normal squats, and another 14 "wide squats". Makes me a bit concerned about what Advanced, level two will be like. However, if I do the app in order from the beginning, that is six months from now, so nothing I need to worry about yet.

Have I mentioned how wonderful my boyfriend is recently? As I sat here typing this he came in and did the vacuuming. How many other people have partners who do house work after 01:00 in the morning (or at all)? Now I hear him playing the piano in the next room, so I will post this and go enjoy it...
kareina: (me)
April and May were particularly busy months for me, and included travel. As a result my exercise log got kind of behind. Not the basic data entry--these days I do that on my phone, but the excel spreadsheet where I actually tally up the number of hours spent on various activities and convert the data to graphs--that part didn't really get done during those two months. Since then I have managed to keep that part up to date for new stuff, and have, every so often, gone back and copy-pasted the older data into the spreadsheet. Tonight I finally finished all of that for those two months, to discover that while April was fairly typical in terms of my exercise levels, May was the lowest month since I started keeping the logs in Excel where I could see the graphs as they form. I strongly suspect that, had I been pulling that data into Excel and looked at the graphs as they were forming, I would likely have been a bit (ok, a lot) more active that month. Oh well, the logs are current now, and likely to remain that way--nothing like seeing a record low to inspire one to return to paying attention to that aspect of one's life!

We managed another four batches of concrete today, and, since today's rock were on the back side of the wall, we were also able to fill in lots of gravel and dirt behind the walls. (Why, yes, yes that does count towards the above mentioned exercise log.) Sadly, some of the rocks used today were particularly pretty, but no one will ever see them again, since they are on the back side of the wall. So it goes, and it can't be helped--there are far too many pretty rocks available for all of them to wind up in visible places in the walls (and, sometimes, rocks that aren't so pretty wind up in visible locations because that is where they happen to fit best).

While I was updating my logs [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar managed to do some maintenance on the ride-on lawn mower and make progress on the great computer stuff sorting project which has been filling the guest room. Not too much more needing to happen in there before it will be ready for mom's visit in September.

If it isn't raining tomorrow (or only does it lightly) we can make more earth cellar progress, if it is we can focus on other projects. Monday some friends are coming over for dinner, one of whom I have been discussing the possibility of her becoming my apprentice. I hope she says yes, it would be lovely to have a local apprentice.

Have I mentioned that I will be running Norrskennsfest in November? It is the big event of the year for the shire, and I am looking forward to it. We are looking at doing a day-time feast and bardic competition, in addition to some of the traditional activities.
kareina: (stitched)
They have finally published the article summarizing the research I did for the first few years I was at LTU. Such a relief to finally have that well and truly done... (if anyone actually wants to read it and doesn't have access to the journal give me an email address and I can send you a copy, but I don't know that it will be interesting to anyone who isn't working on a related geologic research project...)
kareina: (BSE garnet)
We have confirmation from the supplier that the Argon Gas, which is necessary to run our laser ablation system, will actually be delivered on 17 April, and the installation of the Laser is scheduled for the week of 20 April. So, just over 6.5 months after being hired to run the LA-ICP-MS lab, I will actually have a LA-ICP-MS to run!

It will be an interesting, and hopefully fun, change to my working life.

So, basically, the trip to the Known World Dance event in Germany will be the turning point--I will come back from that on 19 April, and the next day we will start installing the lab.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
In Sweden both the Friday before and the Monday after Easter are public holidays, and the Thursday before most businesses are only open the first half of the day. Since we had the days off and would be free to hang out, C came up from Göteburg to spend time with us. She will actually be here two full weeks, and intends to use the time we are at work to make time on her studies for the distance courses she is currently working on.

However, even though we have a friend over and it is time to work on projects (my dress is nearly done now!), I am still finding a bit of time to work on that paper from my research when I was in Italy. By getting up way too early in the morning and doing a couple of hours while they are still asleep, but at least it is something. Today I wrapped up a section of the paper, and sent what I have to my co-authors in Italy for their feedback. Assuming they don't make time to look at it till after Easter this means I can enjoy the rest of these days off without feeling guilty about not working on that project any more.
kareina: (stitched)
life is busy

Spring (which is to say weather that flits back and forth above and below zero every day) came early, just before I got back from Australia and is still here, so the snow is steadly melting. However, we had enough that it is still nearly knee high in some places, so I have been out cross country skiing fairly often. Not that I need to mind you, I could just walk on that solid icy stuff if I wanted to.

Been working on that paper from my Italian research, and managed to finally finish editing a 75 page manuscript for some of my colleagues. Still no laser at work.

Tomorrow we head to the Skellefteå area for an SCA event.

My bliaut isn't done yet, but it is getting closer--one last seam to finish before I can start attaching the trim to the hem and do the side lacing.

We decided to head to Double Wars in May, which will be a long drive. One could do it in 15.5 hours if one didn't need to stop, and could do the speed limit the whole way. We will have a trailer, so no faster than 80 km/hr, and we will stop often to stretch, and at least once to nap, so we guess at least 24 hours.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
Long time readers of my journal may recall that I spent 1.5 years in Italy, doing experimental petrology, which is the process of making very tiny rocks by putting powder of a known composition into a 2 mm diameter gold tube (7 mm long), welding the tube shut, and subjecting it to really high pressures and temperatures for two weeks to a month, before opening them up and looking at which minerals grew, and what specific composition those minerals had. I did this a number of times, at a variety of temperatures and pressures, and, as expected, there was a definite pattern to which minerals formed at what temperature/pressure combination.

In an ideal world I would have written up the results from that post doc position while I was still in Italy, but I was still doing experiments up till a week or two before the job ended and I moved to Sweden (for love of [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, and it didn't happen. Then I was having so much fun spending time with a delightful man I didn't make much progress on the paper, and then I got hired at LTU for a project that was demanding enough I totally abandoned all attempts to do anything with that paper. I did, briefly, consider dusting off my notes and returning to it last year around this time, when I went to 25% time at work, but then I enrolled in that Swedish for Immigrants course, which took up the energy which might otherwise have gone for that.

However, now that I am working 50%, I have been thinking I really ought to get back to that paper--after all, I did finally finish the paper from my PhD research, it would be nice to make a clean sweep of all of my research UFOs. Besides, that was a fun and interesting project, and the data will be useful to other people (and therefore I would get cited, too).

The straw that finally tipped the balance and prompted me to write to my old boss from Italy was seeing an email to one of my geology lists that said:

***********
DEADLINE EXTENDED TO JUNE 30, 2015

CALL FOR PAPERS: Special Section on Advances in Ultrahigh-Pressure Metamorphism for the centennial celebration of American Mineralogist

Special Section Associate Editors Jane A. Gilotti, Daniela Rubatto and Hans-Peter Schertl are soliciting papers on the broad spectrum of mineralogical, petrological, and geochemical aspects of ultrahigh-pressure metamorphism in crustal rocks. Topics of interest include aspects of UHP mineral nano- and microstructure, crystallography, fluid and melt inclusions, petrology and geochemistry related to UHP topics, and geochronological studies. Papers that present theoretical, analytical or conceptual advances toward the understanding of UHP metamorphism are particularly encouraged. The window for submission of papers is has been extended to June 30, 2015. Please contact the guest editors with the title of your intended submission, and any questions, if you have not done so already. Follow the instructions for online submittal on the American Mineralogist website. The papers will be reviewed on an as received basis, and they will be published in American Mineralogist as soon as they complete the review process under the special heading of Advances in Ultrahigh-Pressure Metamorphism. Papers will be collected in a dedicated hard copy version after all the papers are published.
***********

So I forwarded the announcement to Stefano, and asked him if he thought it might be worth re-working my paper in progress to better fit that series. He replied in the affirmative, so I spent quite a while today composing a letter to the Special Section Associate Editors to ask if they would be interested in my submitting my research, which actually focuses on the changes in which minerals are present above and below the transition between high and ultra high pressure metamorphism.

Now, I must confess that, before I saw the call for papers I hadn't actually though in those terms about my work--when I started the position he told me that I would be working on "elucidating the talc-garnet tie line", which, now that I look at my results, corresponds pretty much exactly with the above mentioned transition between "UHP and HP". Having this new way to look at it will make it *much* easier to write the introduction and discussion sections of this paper. My first draft of the paper, which never got done, was actually being written more like a thesis, describing what I did and what the results were, with pretty much no "so what" at all, because, honestly, at the time I did the experiments, I didn't really know "so what". Perhaps if I had remained in Italy until I finished the paper I would have worked out that part in conversations with my boss, but I had other things to do, and left the day my contract ended.

I am actually looking forward to doing this paper, and doing it right this time.
though there is a minor hitch )

However, before I got very far with the new outline I saw that I had a bounced message notice--the address in the ad for one of the editors was incorrect, so I looked her up on line and re-sent to her real address, noting in passing that she is doing REALLY interesting work on Greenland UHP rocks!. She replied almost immediately to say that they are interested, please submit. She also included an article from her Greenland research for me to read. It is, in fact, as interesting as I had expected from the blurb on her web page.

So now I have a new goal: write up the research I did whist in Italy and get it published in the Special Section on Advances in Ultrahigh-Pressure Metamorphism for the centennial celebration of American Mineralogist, before the 30 June deadline. Wish me luck.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
When last I posted it was the first week day of my second week in Tassie. At the time I rather expected that I would continue to check in each day and record my adventures. Nope. Been home for the better part of a week, and haven't posted any of that, either. So, what can I remember...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The trip down had involved:

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

By comparison the flight home was faster:

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

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

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

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

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

I am certain there was more, but I have been typing quite long enough...
kareina: (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!
kareina: (stitched)
I already mentioned that I was up late at the SCA event on the weekend because I was having so much fun. Well, that pattern has continued into the week, too--I haven't made it to bed before 01:00 all week, but am still getting up early enough to do the 45 minute walk to work in the morning. Mind you, I am not arriving at the office at 07:00 or 07:15 as I often do, but instead more like 07:30 or 07:45, but I am still the first one in my corridor. However, I have still be going home at 11:00 or 12:00 when [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar goes home for lunch, so I may want to work a few hours on Friday to make up for it.

So far this work week has been spent researching travel and accommodation for the conference in Australia in February, reading my student's thesis drafts, and compiling information as to what standards are available, from where, and for how much, so that we can decide which ones to get now, to have ready when the Laser Ablation-ICP-MS arrives, and which ones we will wait on till the lab is generating a bit of income from fees paid by the users. (It is farily obvious that if the department doesn't have the budget to cover a full time salary for me, they don't have a huge budget for buying standards, either. (not that it is broke or anything, just that, like at most unis, the cash available in the department is mostly tied to specific research grants, and can't be used for things not directly related to those projects)).

At home I have been focusing on projects. I want a new bliaut--my first one is getting worn out. We have some lovely dark blue silk that I want to use, and have been wondering if I want to do it with or without the tummy gathers that was fashionable in the 12th century. I haven't been all that happy with the gathers on brown wool bliaut, but that has more to do with the fact that they don't always sit right, and often need adjusting. Somehow I don't think I would have that problem with the lighter weight silk. However, another issue with the brown is that the skirt is heavy enough that even though when I first lace the dress the hem is all one length and up off the ground, over the course of the day it droops on the sides and people start to step on it while I am dancing, which isn't an issue with the older blue bliaut, since it is only just long enough for me, even unlaced (the brown is longer than I am tall when it is unlaced).

But what has really and truly decided me on skipping the gathering this time around was the hours I have spent doing two different cutting diagrams--one if I make it extra long and gather it up, and the other if I don't. The latter option lets me get another set of skirt gores out of the fabric, transforming the skirt from just under 3/4 circle to just about a full circle skirt. Can you say "dancing skirt"? I apologize to people who care about 12 Century fashion and think that this style is better with the tummy gathers--I am going to go for the fuller skirt instead...
kareina: (BSE garnet)
I am loving my new job. Sure, the lab doesn't exist yet, but it is getting closer. There is a big wooden box in the hallway outside of the lab room (which is still being renovated) that contains the coolant system. The ICP-MS unit is on a truck on its way here from Germany. Hopefully they haven't shipped the laser yet though, since the manufacturer says that once it is delivered we need to get it hooked up to the ICP-MS system within three weeks, or it will have leaked too much of the gases that it comes pre-loaded with, and then something terrible, no doubt, will happen. Or, at least something expensive.

Today I spent 1.5 hours meeting with the researches who hired me talking about the lab and what all still needs to be done before the equipment arrives and soon after it gets here. I am keeping so busy I often wind up more than working my half time, but then on other days I go home early to make up for it, so now I am only 1.4 hours ahead of where I should be at this point in the month.

Part of the reason I am ahead at all is that I went to a course today on how to run the system for making web pages at the uni. The course was held in Swedish, but I did just fine with it, and learned lots. Looking forward to improving our lab web page, but not before Monday at the soonest.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a day off for me, but my Master's student, who was supposed to finish his degree last Spring, is finally doing his presentation tomorrow, and I have to be there, so I will go in for an hour or so.
kareina: (stitched)
Wednesday was my first, official, day on the job, but, of course, I hadn't been able to resist sending work related emails before I started, so I was able to hit the ground running and made contact with all kinds of people who have information I need to get the lab set up and functioning.

Thursday I finished getting approval for the email address for the lab, so now people don't have to be able to spell Chmielowski if they want to book time with us, instead they just send a note to LaserICPMS (at) ltu.se. That evening was the business meeting for Luleåhembygsgille, the local folk music and dance group, so I made some progress while listening to the meeting on a sewing UFO--a cloak I started for [livejournal.com profile] clovis_t when we were living in Tasmania, but which didn't get finished before we moved away. I had shown him how to work on it (it is a simple tablet-woven edging onto wool that doesn't fray), but he never made time for it, and then he dropped out of the SCA after moving to Scotland, so I got it back from him a couple of years ago, when we visited Scotland, and, now years later, I am finally working on it again.

Friday was a day off, since my new job is 50% time, and I decided that my ideal schedule would be four five-hour days, working mornings Monday-Thursday. So, after taking a walk in the forest, where I found (and devoured) some yummy blueberries that survived the frost of last week, I enjoyed a lazy morning getting useful stuff done inside the house, then in the afternoon one of the guys from choir came over and we planted some garlic. By "we" I mean I choose the spot (next to the chives that were already growing here when we moved in), he dug up the soil a bit and broke up the clumps of grass, he broke apart the cloves of garlic and stuck them into the soil, and I raked up some leaves and pine needles from the yard to cover them. He said he appreciated the chance to do some gardening--he grew up on a farm, but is now living in an apartment while attending uni. Then I fed him some home-baked garlic bread (the kind with chunks of soft roasted garlic in the bread) and tea make from blackcurrant leaves we have dried.

He had to head home around the time that others from choir showed up for our weekly music session, and we had another delightful evening making music with our friends.

Saturday was "what else can we get accomplished before we return [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's father's tractor to him?" day. We added a few more tractor scoops of dirt to the space behind the earth cellar walls (and, of course, gravel right up next to the walls), so that it is now completely filled in as high as the walls are now (I really should take some progress photos, but haven't remembered to do that), which is to say shoulder height on the north (uphill) side and hip high on the south. We also packed dirt against the walls of the hole, so that there should be far less of a problem next spring with erosion.

Then we took a lunch break, and after lunch we went down to the small shed on the far side of the field to clean it out. This is the shed the previous owners had used as a shelter for their two horses, and it was still full of straw and manure. So he parked the tractor just outside the shed door, and we filled the scoop 6.5 times before we got it all cleaned out and down to bare dirt floor. Sometime soon we need to do some more work on this shed if it is going to last. The previous owners cut away a couple of timbers to make the door taller for the horses, and while the sort of nailed some boards around the larger opening, they didn't do so in such a way as to prevent that wall from starting to sag, so it has. They also set the shed upon the dirt/plants rather than putting it onto stone foundation, so the bottom most logs have started to rot and are not in good shape. They also put on a very good new roof, so if we get a decent snow year I am not certain the walls will be up to holding the weight. With luck this is one of the projects we will be able to do something about next weekend when [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's brother is here.

Saturday evening one of our friends had invited us over for a movie night, but, much to my delight, the small group of us just hung out and chatted and we never got around to turning on a movie, though I did get a leg massage, since my legs were protesting the fact that I had spent a couple hours shovelling dirt, followed by a couple of hours wielding a pitchfork full of straw etc.

Sunday we got up early and got ready to return the tractor. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjargathered together the things that needed to go back with it, and I cleaned out a summer's worth of dirt/dust that had accumulated on all the surfaces inside the tractor. Then he started driving the tractor to his dad's property in Hemmingsmark (the village he grew up in--his parents sold the house and farm when they moved to Piteå, but they kept the forest). Since we knew it would take him three hours I went for a walk in the forest and accomplished a few things around the house before I took the car and followed him. It took me exactly one hour to get there, including stopping to fill up the gas tank--the trip is now slightly faster than it used to be, since the highway department has made a few improvements that mean that some stretches that used to be 90 kph are now 110 kph.

After dropping off the tractor we went to his parent's house, to help celebrate his dad's birthday. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar little brother, sister in law, and nephew also joined us for the occasion. Before we arrived he had mentioned that his mother promised us "cake", and I expected to see the normal Swedish birthday cake--a layer cake, with a filling of mashed berries (or jam) blended with whipped cream, and the cake covered with whipped cream and decorated with fruit slices. However, when we sat down to the table his mother put out two plates covered with cookies (two types), a plate covered with square slices of a thin cake with a thin chocolate-looking frosting, and a fourth plate full of home-baked cinnamon rolls. For only 7 people (including the toddler).

We sat and visited and made decent progress on making the cake, cookies, and rolls disappear (I had three of the rolls and one cookie myself). Then, when I was feeling proud of myself for not eating more than that, his mother brought out the birthday cake—a lovely whipped cream covered thing decorated with rings of green grapes and mandarin orange slices. Yum! After eating a slice of that, too, I started feeling sleepy, and noticed that [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar's dad had gone to lay down on the couch for a nap. This sounded like a good idea, so I took the other part of the (huge L-shaped) couch for a short nap myself. I only slept for about 15 minutes, then returned to the table and conversation and working on a nålbindining project when dad got back up. But then [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar started looking tired, as did his brother, so they took the couch for their nap, and slept a good 30 to 40 minutes, until his mother had dinner pretty much ready.

After dinner we hopped back into the car and made it back to Luleå exactly on time for our normal Sunday folk dance session.

Today I walked to work for the first time since the snow melted last spring. Sure, I could still cycle for another week or three, depending on when it starts snowing, but it is smarter to get back into the habit of walking now. (Sure lots of people bike year-round here, but my trike is low enough to the ground I wouldn't want to ride it in fresh snow, and one can't guarantee that it won't snow whilst one is in the office).

This afternoon [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar brought home a useful item—a large cabinet that used to be used for sorting mail at one of the businesses he fixes computers at. This will be very useful for organizing stuff in the shop.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
It will need work, and I will need to learn lots more about how the system for adding stuff to the web page works, but I have a basic web page for the Laser-ablation ICP-MS laboratory I am responsible for.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
On Wednesday I managed to finish the last of the revisions to my paper that the reviewers suggested and emailed it off to my co-author. He had already warned me that he would be traveling all last week with poor internet access, so he wouldn't be able to look at it before Monday, so this meant that I got the rest of the week off. (It says something about Academia that in a summer when I am technically unemployed I am still working so many hours that I revel in 2.5 days off.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The plan for today is to do that concreting, bake the loaf of bread (full of whole cloves of garlic, which will roast to pockets of soft goodness in the baking) that is rising, and then head to Umeå (three hours south) for the 30th birthday party for two of our friends (twin brothers).
kareina: (BSE garnet)
I made it into the office this morning, where I managed to work my way through the first sub-section of the suggested edits to the results section of the paper. Hopefully I will go back tomorrow (ok, later today if one wishes to get technical about it) and do the next part. However, reviewer #2 (the one who was enthusiastic about offering edits to the text) is the guy that wrote the papers that taught me the techniques used to obtain the results for that section, so, although I haven't read ahead to see what he has to say about that section, I am expecting that he will have found quite a bit to say. (Does anyone else work their way through suggestions for edits to their papers on the first pass through like I do, or do you all read all of the comments first, and then go back and decide which ones to use?)

I don't recall if I have mentioned it, but I have been drying black currants for later use in my breakfast muesli, and the batch is finally done--1.5 days in the dehydrator is what it takes to get all of them to not feel moist. However, it is possible to remove some of them much sooner than that (and I do--I don't see any point in leaving them sit there once they have shriveled small enough that they can be forced through the holes in the drying rack). The large jar I am filling with dried currants is now nearly half full, so if I pick a few more to dry in the next batch it should fill the jar.

Today's progress on the stuff for Nordanil was focused on that shield I mentioned yesterday--I added a metal band around the rim, which should help hold it together, and drilled in some holes and added plugs to help hold the reinforcing ribs to the back side of the shield. Then we bought some white paint and I started painting the knotwork cat onto the shield. I had time for two coats of the white, and I will decide tomorrow if I need a third, or if I can get away with going to the blue lines for the detail work.

Then I helped [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar fix that broken plow, again. This is the third time, and he is getting much better at it. This is the first time that I have helped, and he really likes the part where I hold the chunk of metal he is straightening up against the part of the plow to which it attaches so that he can step back far enough away to get a good look and see if he is happy with the angle yet. I can see how it would be difficult to hold it in place oneself, given that the metal is still hot and must be held with the long tongs.

This evening, after he went to bed (he has to drive to Kiruna tomorrow for work, which means eight hours of driving time plus doing the IT work while he is there, so he actually went to bed by 23:00) I happened to look at the Luleå annonsblad (normally it goes straight to recycling), and noticed that one of the jobs advertized is for an educator position at Teknikens Hus. I had lots of fun spending an afternoon volunteering at that science museum for the ForskarFredag (researcher's Friday) they did a couple of years ago, when I was still new to Sweden.

Therefore I wrote an email to the guy named in the ad under "more information", and asked him if he welcomes applications from people from out of the country. I mentioned that I have been doing research at the Uni, which means that I haven't had as much opportunity to speak Swedish as I should have had after 3.5 years in Sweden. I also let him know that I am interested in the position because I had so much fun at that ForskarFredag, but on that occasion, I spoke mostly English to the high school students, and I expect that with younger children I would need to speak mostly Swedish, and I concluded that bit saying that my Swedish is much better now, so perhaps I would be fine. Then I asked how one applies (the ad wasn't clear on that point), and if he would accept the CV in English. At least, I hope that is what I said--I wrote the letter in Swedish, and while what I typed gives me back more or less what I was expecting when I put it into GoogleTranslate, one can't always trust that, and, as mentioned above, my handy native speaker was already asleep. I have already had an auto reply saying that he is on vacation till 18 Aug (which is the application deadline), but that he would be replying to job inquires nonetheless.

If he does reply that will make him more efficient than my colleagues across the hall, who foolishly advertized that Laser ICPMS job I applied for with an application deadline only days before their summer holiday began, which is why they sent an email to all of us applicants saying that they wouldn't actually get around to doing interviews till August of September.

Now it is really late, so I guess it is time to do yoga and get to bed myself (note: I did, in fact, go out for a short walk before yoga last night after posting here that I planned to do so. Yay me! So far I have gotten out for a walk or a bike ride every day this month--way better than the four times I did that last month.)
kareina: (fresh baked rolls)
When I was a kid I was taught to wash the sheets and pillowcases every week. In those days I had a single bed, only one pillow, a large top-loading washing machine that took only about 30 minutes to run a load, and a dryer. This meant that the whole process from stripping the bed to making it again (IF I wanted to re-use the same sheets) took not much more than an hour, perhaps an hour and a half, tops.

These days I have a king-sized bed, between the two of us we have eight pillows (and I use two pillow cases on each), and we each have our own doona (mine is a real one, filled with down, his has a horrid polyester filling). We don't have quite enough pillowcases, and we still have only the one fitted sheet that fits the new bed, so it is necessary to get it all dried and put back on the bed before we want to sleep in it. Our front-loading washer is small enough this means that it takes four loads of laundry to wash all of the sheets, doona covers, and pillows cases. Even using the "extra fast wash" button on the washer each load takes 1.5 hours to wash, and we have no dryer, which means either I wait for a good enough day to hang them outside, or I hang them in the sauna with a heater/fan running in hopes that each load is dry enough to take down before the next one comes out of the washer.

Today was a nice enough day that I could dry them outside, and between the wind and the sun each load was dry before the next one came out (which is good, since the clothes line won't hold all that much at one time). This means that I started laundry at 08:30 and brought the last load in from the line at 15:50. A lot of time and bother, but I am so looking forward to sleeping in the nice clean sheets!

No wonder I put off washing the sheets so long these days! The fact that it can be several weeks before I am willing to invest that much time into the project also helps explain why I want double pillow cases--without a dryer I won't wash my pillows, so I would rather give them extra protection.

However, while the laundry runs one can accomplish other things. Today, in sessions of 1.5 hours or less I:

*took the car in for service and replacing the break pads (and got a ride home from [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar, who followed along in his work car).

*Picked enough black currants to fill three trays in the food dehydrator (I could have picked many more, but the alarm went off to take sheets out of the washer)

*cut my round shield for the Nordanil Lajv from the boards I had glued together the other day (these had previously been the top of a pallet we had on hand, so this project is costing only time, not materials)

*cut the center hole for the shield

*glued down the reinforcing ribs and handle to the shield

*gave the shield a base coat of grey paint (same stuff we painted the concrete floor with)

*made a pattern for the shield-boss

*cut out a shield-boss from some scrap sheepskin that had once been a coat that shrunk after getting wet

*read more than 150 pages of my book in progress

*picked up the car after service/break repair

*ran enough almonds through the hand-crank grater to re-fill the almond flour jar (and sifted out the big chunks, which I ate in some oatmeal)

*cooked up the zucchini the neighbour gave us from her garden with some snowpeas, leek, garlic, left over rice, cashews, sesame seeds, egg, and butter

I still need to go for a walk, since, as you can see, that list is rather lacking in exercise, and do my yoga. I guess I should turn off the computer soon.

Tomorrow needs to be another go to the office and work on the revisions to that paper day. If I have a productive morning doing that then my reward can be more projects at home.
kareina: (BSE garnet)
Today I actually made time for that uni work. At first I thought I would just work from home, since I had the work computer here. However, it took about thirty seconds of trying to look at comments from two different computers and the paper itself to decide that two monitors is not enough, so I packed up the computer and some lunch and hopped on my trike for the first time all month to head into the office, where I managed to make a good start on the revisions, starting with the easy bit--looking at the edits both reviewers suggested and either make the same changes in my document or make some other change that also fixes the problem. So far I have managed to do this for the abstract and introduction sections.

Doing that plus a short break to apply for two more administration/technician sorts of positions at the uni (on the off chance that I don't get the one I applied for back in May that the hiring committee will start thinking about again in a couple of weeks, when they get back from their holidays) took just over four hours, which I decided was enough for a single day when I am unemployed.

So I went home and took an hour's nap, and got up on time to have dinner before picking some strawberries from the patch and then heading down to the bottom of the property to check on those åkerbär I found on the weekend. Sure enough, they were now ready. Yum! I was able to find about 15 of the berries, most of which were really really small, but each one is totally packed with flavour. These berries have a shape rather like a raspberry, made of little individual globes. Most of the berries had only two little sub globes (which is what I meant by "small", but one was a fully formed clump of at least eight little sub globes. Wow, was that one good. It will be interesting to compare future years with this one--there are hundreds of the plants there, but only a tiny percentage of them are growing berries this year. I wonder if this is typical?

Then I helped [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar to move the longest of the big stones into a position around the deck, where they can serve as a bench until and unless we need them elsewhere. Then we tested the new plow we bought yesterday. Even though one of the two cutting disks that precede the plow itself doesn't rotate the tool is still wonderfully effective, doing just what it is supposed to do--taking a nice deep chunk of soil/plant cover and flipping it over. In the process he occasionally exposed small stones, so I followed after the plow and picked them up and carried them to the edge of the field. Sometimes he turned up a stone too big for me to pick up, so he would pick up the plow, turn the tractor around and use the forks to pick it up and carry it away. Once the stone he found was too big for him to dig out, though he tried for a while. Therefore tomorrow he will call a friend with a larger tractor, and see if he still wants to come play.
kareina: (house)
I commented here yesterday that today I ought to look at the comments from the reviewers and do whatever it takes to get that manuscript revised to suit them. I even went so far as to add it to my calender. Did I do that?

Let's see:

I started the morning by discovering that we have way more red current bushes than we had thought. Last year we found the few red current bushes on the west side of our field, right next to the sharp bend in the property line. I had picked most of the berries from those bushes the other day, but one of the plants had a bunch of berries that weren't completely ripe yet, so I left them. On that day we had also walked down to the bottom end of the property to see how the black currents were coming along, and on the way back noticed another red current bush at the south edge of the field, but since I didn't have a bucket with me then I had resolved to go back later, and today was later.

I picked the few remaining berries from red current bush location #1, then went to location #2, picked those, then saw another bush a bit further into the trees, and picked those, which led to another bush, and so on till I got to the little shed down there (where the previous owner's horses went when they needed shelter). That is about where the black current bushes start. There is a rather good sized chunk of land down there which is now mostly nettle and black current--the current bushes had been planted as a small scale commercial venture some decades ago, and have been left to run wild for at least a decade (though one can still see the hints of rows in google earth).

Given how many red current bushes I had found scattered here and there among the trees I suspected that over on the other side of the black currents I might find more red currents, so I continued working my way down the property, and went all the way to the water's edge. I did, in fact find more red currents ready to be picked, and, even more exciting, I spotted some åkerbär. They are not yet ripe, but they are showing a hint of colour, and you can bet I will be checking them pretty much daily from now till they are ready to eat--their flavour is worth crossing through the mosquito rich portion of the property!

I spent nearly 1.5 hours picking berries, and wound up with two full liters of red currents to put into the freezer. On the way back up to the house I also discovered that we have a few high-bush blueberry plants growing between the red current location #1 and the change in slope from the field to the level the house sits at. I had never actually seen high bush blueberries before, but I knew they existed, since I had a field assistant from Bulgaria with me when I did my field work in the Brooks Range for my Master's degree; when he saw the tiny low-lying alpine blueberries I was happily eating during the last half of that field season his reaction was "you would bend down for this?". He then explained that back in Bulgaria blueberries grew on bushes at waist height.

Therefore, when I saw bushes at waist height in my own yard that contain clumps of berries in various states of ripeness ranging from whitish pink to full dark bluish purple, I happily started eating the dark ones. Yum! Even better, when [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar got home and I showed them to him he tried one (he had never seen high bush blueberries before either) and said that he isn't all that impressed with them, so I get them all to myself!

After the berries were picked, washed, and into the freezer I curled up with a book and lunch. [livejournal.com profile] lord_kjar got home for lunch just as I finished eating mine. I checked the wall we had scraped yesterday, and it was dry (despite yesterday's rain), so I had him raise up the tractor scoop and I went to work painting the next bit of the wall while he went in and had his lunch. I managed to finish before he had to go back to work, which is a good thing, since, left to its own devices, the tractor scoop will gradually lower itself.

This wouldn't be a problem if not for two factors: 1) the way the hinges are set up for moving the scoop one can drive right up to the wall, start raising the scoop, and in the process the scoop becomes further from the wall. Therefore it is necessary to then drive further towards the wall if one wishes to stand on the scoop and paint the wall. Therefore, if one were to just let the scoop sag over time it would also come a bit forward in the process, and would thus eventually hit the wall. Strangely, we don't wish this to happen. and 2) in addition to simply lowering, the scoop also rotates as it ever so slowly sinks. This means that when we raise it we angle the base of the scoop, where we are standing to paint, nearly flat, but tilted such that were we to spill water (or paint) onto it, the liquid would flow towards the back end of the scoop. However, over the course of the hour it took me to do the painting the tilt gradually changed, passing through horizontal, and ending with a slight lean outwards. Not enough to make anything sitting on the scoop fall off, but enough that were water spilled it would run off the front of the scoop and land on the ground below. Needless to say, if left to do this long enough, eventually the solid objects (including the paint bucket) would fall off the scoop. Since I don't know how to drive the tractor this means that I can only use the tractor as scaffolding when he is home to lower the scoop when I am done. (...and to be available to make minor re-adjustments to the position of the scoop if needed. This wasn't needed today, but yesterday, when we were both standing on the scoop it did that slow sink a bit faster due to the extra weight, so he needed to take the ladder down twice to go re-lift and tilt the scoop to a better position.)

After he lowered the scoop and moved the tractor away I had time enough to also paint the part of that section that one can reach from the ground. Soon after I was done and had cleaned everything away for the day it started gently raining. After it had rained for a while I checked the wall, and was delighted to discover that none of that rain was actually hitting the wall. The overhang of the roof is just wide enough that such a soft rain, falling exactly perpendicular to the ground, completely misses the wall. Now this wall is more than half done (since it turns out the tractor scoop is a bit over 1/4 of the width of the wall. Hopefully we will have a few more windows of painting opportunity in the next few weeks.

After I cleaned up the painting mess and got a shower it was time to play in the kitchen. When we were in the grocery store last night I was delighted to see some beet greens (with beet roots attached), so I bought them. By this afternoon the greens were looking kind of wilted, so I cut them off and put them soaking in cold water to perk them up a bit while I made a beetloaf with which to restock the freezer.

Today's beetloaf recipe, on the off chance that anyone wants to try it. )

The beet loaf was delicious, and holds together really well when sliced. We ate a slice each straight away, and the rest of the slices have been packed into two ice cream boxes and put into the freezer to be eaten whenever we are hungry but have no time/energy to cook, or want something easy to take with us.

Then we went out and bought a second hand double-bladed plow he had seen advertized on blocket (the Swedish on-line source for second hand everything). He had been wanting a better way to smooth out the field so that, eventually, we can host Medieval camping events, and this should do the trick. The plan is to plow the field both north-south and east-west, then use the other tool that he has from his dad to break up the plowed earth into clumps, then he will be able to drag some sort of smoothing device (perhaps made from logs, perhaps one of those long stones we bought) to level the field off. It will be interesting to see how much of that list he can accomplish between now and when we need to return the tractor to his dad at the end of the summer, given that we also want to work on the earth cellar and have other projects, too.

After we got home I also mixed up and baked some oven pancakes to put into the freezer. With all of the hot weather we have been having we had run out of the last stash--I rather enjoy getting out a slice of frozen pancake and gnawing on it while it thaws. It is a nice, cold snack, and usually lasts more than a page or two into a book (unlike the thawed version).

So, nope. No uni work today. Perhaps tomorrow.

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