In baby steps it goes forward

Sep. 19th, 2017 11:03 pm
kareina: (BSE garnet)
[personal profile] kareina
I am making tiny progress on preparing my application for a 2nd PhD through the University of Durham. Today I actually started filling in the on-line application form, so that the basics are ready when I finally have my project proposal and budget ready to attach. I have exchanged a number of letters with my potential advisor, who has written to various people in her network and forwarded me their replies. She sent me a copy of a very interesting PhD thesis by one of her colleagues who studied "war booty" from the Roman Iron Age, using LA-ICP-MS to study the weapons that had been deposited in a heap in a lake. What really amazed me about his thesis is that he did his data processing by hand, in a spreadsheet, since his department didn't have a licence for a program like iolite, which is what I use for my LA-ICP-MS data processing.

I also looked at the web page for the Swedish student financial aid people. It looks like it is possible for me to get a stipend from them to study in the UK, but only until I am 57, so I had better do it now and not wait. The stipend isn't huge, but it will make a difference in paying for lab work and possibly even getting to Durham now and then to actually see my advisor in person.

The only reason I don't already have a project proposal is that there are too many cool project ideas that we have been tossing back and forth at one another. The good news is that I will enjoy whatever project we settle on, the bad news is that I can only pick one. garnets? glass? soapstone? beads? cooking toys? Something Viking Age, anyway, and using Swedish artifacts. That much we know.

Some of you who have been reading this since I first got hired to run the LA-ICP-MS lab might remember that while waiting for the delivery of the machines I had contacted some archaeologists in Uppsala wondering if they might be interested in doing some collaborative research on some garnet-bearing sword hilts etc. It turns out that my potential advisor knows them, and is good friends with one of them.

The more letters we exchange, the more convinced I am that this is a chance of a lifetime, and I should go for it.

And, to make things even better, AMT was fun tonight, as always! I love the gymnastics training. Never mind that I am the worst kid in the class, I am showing improvement every week, and enjoying it.

I stopped by an open house today--one of the houses in our neighbourhood is for sale--the third since we bought our place (if you count ours). That house is slightly older than ours (1964 vs '66), not as big, weirdly laid out (who sets it up so that one has to go through the kitchen into and then through a bedroom to get to the garage and laundry area? Why did they take off the back door? They also have much, much, much less land than we have--just a small yard suitable for little kids to play in. I am so happy we got the house we did. The highlight of the house was a wall mounted can-opener in the kitchen, that, from the look of it, must have been put up when the house was brand new. but probably hasn't been used in years, since most "canned" food in Sweden comes in cardboard boxes, and those few items that are in metal cans have a self-opening lid.

a nice, easy day

Sep. 17th, 2017 10:21 pm
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[personal profile] kareina
Didn't get as much done as I had planed, due to an unexpected 2.5 hour nap after lunch (and thus didn't manage to get out the door on time to go to folk music), but I made some progress on my great colour-coding of sheet music to make it easier to learn to play the songs on the dulcimer project.

I had much fun at folk dance class tonight. A couple of my friends who normal play folk music and don't dance have decided to start dancing with us, and I am delighted that they did. Then I came home and checked registrations for Norrskensfesten, and we had two new sign up since yesterday--one is a friend from the Helsinki area of Finland, who is pretty much always playing music at events, so he will be a delightful addition to the event.

Does anyone know where to find "saved drafts" on Dreamwidth? When I pushed the "post" button a bit ago the page asked me "would you like to restore from a saved draft?" and gave me the title of yesterday's post (plenty of newcomers), and I was confused, as I remember actually posting that. I went to another tab, checked, and the post doesn't show, so I returned to the first tab, intending to click "yes" to the question, but it had vanished, and I can't find any buttons anywhere to find the draft...

I love Fridays!

Sep. 15th, 2017 09:54 pm
kareina: (Default)
[personal profile] kareina
The best part about working half-time is that I get Fridays off (why work five 4-hour days, when I can work four 5-hour days?). This means that I get an extra day on the weekend to accomplish whatever needs doing. Today I:

*washed my bed sheets and underwear
*cleaned out the gutters on the house (boy, did that need doing)
*put the deck furniture into the shed for the winter (we are into rainy autumn weather now, we probably won't need it again before the snow flies)
*cooked a yummy lunch for myself (kale, broccoli, zucchini, broad beans, carrot, garlic, alfalfa sprouts, almonds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, eggs, butter, and a hint of curry spices)
*made a bread dough to bake tomorrow for the Frostheim picnic
*read an amazing short story (if you haven't read it yet, read the prequil first)
*cooked 7 liters of black currants down to 3.5 liters of jam
*finished the painting on the bridges of my hammer dulcimer

By the time I was done with that it was 17:00 and David was home from work, so we carried the extra desk downstairs, where it will have its top replaced with Caroline's nice table top before it is taken to the apartment so they will have a pretty table, with raise-lower legs. Then our friends Birger and Siv from the LuleƄ Hembygdsgille dropped by for a visit, and I showed her some of the wool fabric I have left after having used some for costumes for me, and she liked both the brown/indigo wool and the light blue/grey wool twill enough that she bought both. She plans to make a viking dress before Norrskensfesten to go with the broaches she bought at the Lofotr viking museum in Lofoten this summer. (I really need to go back there!)

After they left and David went to the other house took the time to clean up, package up the jam into plastic containers for the freezer, and then sat down to the computer to tell the world (via FB) how wonderful the story I read today was. Seriously, while I love all of [personal profile] hrj's writing, Hyddwen (and Hoywverch, which I read on Wednesday) were even more my cup of tea than usual. I think it was the delightful blend of very traditional story telling and classic tropes with a powerful loving relationship of a sort which might have been unexpected in such a time period, but instead felt totally natural, normal, and right. I wish I had read this story while still in high school. Sadly, she hadn't gotten around to writing it that long ago.

After that I updated the Norrskensfesten spreadsheet to show the latest registrations, and worried for a bit because we have only 22 people registered so far. Then I checked last year's spreadsheet, and as of 15 September we had only 21 people registered, but by the time the event happened that had grown to 100 people, so perhaps we will yet get enough to cover the cost of the hall (not that it truly matters--Frostheim can afford the site if we don't, but it is nice if an event doesn't lose money). Of course, the fact that this year the event is two weeks earlier than last year means that I can't really compare the same date, but I am trying to let these numbers comfort me anyway, since worry never helps.

Now I should do my yoga, gather a few things to bring to the picnic tomorrow (especially wool, as it is likely to rain, at least some), and get some sleep.
kareina: (Default)
[personal profile] kareina
This morning I decided to run some errands, including buying some kitchen toys to replace ones that Caroline had brought with her that I liked, but then she took them with her when she moved to the apartment this month. I also needed to replace our broken staff mixer, which broke right after she moved in, so we have just been using hers ever since. We actually have two broken staff mixers, and both came with some accessories. Standing there in the store I was pretty certain that one of them was a Braun, and so I decided I would pick up one of that brand, but without any accessories, since we had some at home. But they had a variety of different ones in that brand, so after deciding what I wanted I decided to double check the display model to be certain that the one sold on its own still fit the attachments that come with the other. It did. Decision made I grabbed the small box containing just one mixer, on the shelf under the several different Braun mixers, paid, and went to the next stop for the day. Some time later, errands accomplished, I first went downstairs and grabbed the bag of broken mixers and accessories, looked inside, and was pleased to discover that my memory was correct, one of them was, in fact a Braun. Sadly, while my memory is functioning fine, my ability to actually read things in front of me or notice details wasn't, as the box I purchased was some other brand entirely, still starting with a B, but that was where the resemblance ended. I looked in the box, and it didn't fit either set of accessories. I didn't really want to head back out to the store, but decided that it was better to get it over with straight away, so I did.

On the homeward trip I decided that I had better get petrol while I was out, as I was down to a 1/4 tank. As I stood there, in the rain, filling the tank and nice looking young man came up to me and asked (in English) if I were by any chance heading south down the highway next, as he and his friend were trying to return to Germany after several weeks of hiking in the area. I explained that I was just heading home a couple of km away, and he asked if I had any suggestions for a better place to try to get a ride, as they weren't having any luck (indeed, mine was the only car at the station). My first reply was that I couldn't think of anything--none of the stations in the LuleƄ area are near the highway, and he agreed that they hadn't seen anything good on the map, and turned to walk back through the rain to join his friend, who had stayed with the packs under the overhang near the door. I thought about it a second, and then went after him and suggested that if they just wanted to get out of the rain for a bit, they could follow me home and have some food, and then I could take them with me to the station in Gammalstad a bit later when I went out for folk music and dance. They both thought this was a good idea, so they tossed their packs in the car, and off we went.

I had left over soup in the fridge, which I fed them with some home made bread rolls I pulled from the freezer, and then they helped me eat yesterday's nectarine and apple-walnut cobbler, which they liked so much they both had seconds. Then I packed up my dulcimer, dance shoes, and a sewing project and took them to the petrol station in Gammelstad, where I hope they had better luck finding a ride. They were happy as they were out of the rain for a while and got fed yummy, fresh, home made food (after three weeks of freeze-dried), and I got some pleasant (and cute) company and help eating the desert which was really a bit too big for just me to finish in a reasonable amount of time. And I got out the door early enough to actually attend the folk music session, for the first time in a very long time.

My first 1.5 years in Sweden David and I always went to music at 16:00, followed by dance (in the same room) at 18:30, and I loved it. But after we bought the house (and were thus closer to the site for music and dance) we started being so busy with other projects that we didn't make it on time for music, only dance. More recently David hasn't even had the energy for dance, so I am going to that on my own. But now that he is spending more time at Caroline's place than the house (which may change a bit once they finish getting stuff settled in there) I am free to do whatever I want, and I want to go to both music and dance. If I keep not bringing my dulcimer just because I don't know many songs yet then I won't learn more.

Tomorrow is nyckleharpa night, and this week I will bring the Dulcimer--it is already packed, and was in tune today, so it should be ok tomorrow.
kareina: (Default)
[personal profile] kareina
I just posted an entry from 1988. Yup. 1988. A letter I had written to my mother then, which somehow wound up on my desk here among a bunch of other filing. I laughed so much reading it that I have taken the time to type it up before tossing the original into recycling. My writing style hasn't changed much, but my ability to use commas certainly has. Here is the link if you want to read it:
kareina: (Default)
[personal profile] kareina
I was cleaning my desk today (9 September 2017), and found a dot matrix printed piece of paper (with the perforated edges and holes for going through the printer still intact) in a stack of old filing that I had been meaning to go through for a while now. I am not certain how it got into this pile, but I have a vague memory of mom giving me some old letters I had sent her years ago. This was the only one in that stack, but it amused me to read it, so I am re-typing it here, with the date of entry edited to show the date that the original letter had been written. I will do my best to leave spelling and punctuation as it was in the original, though it will be hard, I keep wanting to add commas, and capital letters, though there is only the one major misspelling.


Well it is lucky I got early today as the mailman brought my christmas presents. Two full months early you know how to be cruel. The first thing I did was to rip off the customs tags without reading them so that I will be surprised when the time comes. The mailman also had my last letter to you which didn't have enough postage. This is why it took so long to get there.

I hope that these paint brushes are what Amber needs. I went into Blaine's Paint shop and told the lady there what you wanted and she said "is she painting water-color or oil?". Of course I didn't know, so she went and got three brushes and boxed them up for mailing for me saying that these were probably the brushes you wanted.

The other stuff I've included are things I found at the house that I thought would be fun to send. Just to be obnoxious.

I have made my first safe trip to Homer, the curse must be broken. Last Friday at around 19:30 my friend Carrie, from mountaineering class, asked me if I wanted to go to Homer with her. You know me, I said sure, then asked why. It turns out that her folks live in Home and had been talking about bringing Carrie's snowtires up to her, but didn't know when they would find the time. So we called down and told her brother that we would be there around 0:00 to 1:00. Her folks were out when we called, but her brother promised to let them know. Needless to say he forgot. We got in at 0:30 and everyone was asleep. Her brother woke up to let us in and told us that he forgot to tell his folks we were coming, then went straight back to bed. Boy was I discusted, as I told Carrie, I was raised that if uninvited unexpected guests arrive in the middle of the night you get up and entertain them, not go to sleep! Carrie didn't want to wake anyone so we pulled out the couch bed and crashed in the living room. The next morning her mom got a early phone call and, not wanting to wake her husband, took the call in the kitchen. She didn't bother to turn on the light so when I woke to the sound of her voice I fell right back to sleep. She is from Minnesota and her accent is familiar enough that her voice soothed me to sleep. Around 08:30 their exchange student, Phillipe, came up for breakfast as he had a swim meet to attend. Just before he got up Carrie got up to go to the bathroom. He turned on the light, and for the first time Sharon, Carrie's mom notices that there is someone sleeping in her living room. Phillipe tells her that it is Carrie, but she realizes that it can't be, the hair isn't red. So she comes over and lifts the blanket to see who it is whereupon I open my eyes and say "Hi, I'm, Reia.". After a few moments for it all to sink in she notices that the bathroom door is closed and asks if Carrie is in there. I say yes and tell her that Todd forgot to pass on the message. So she went back to her phone call. When she was done she told Carrie that we should have waken her when we got in, she would have fed us on the spot. I couldn't resist telling Carrie !I told you so" about people entertaining unexpected guests in the middle of the night.

Carrie's dad changed the oil and put on the snow tires, then we took a walk on the beach before returning to anchorage. We were back in time to change for an SCA dance demo."

The letter ends there, though there must have been another page at one time, since there is no signature salutation at the bottom, though I really don't remember writing this, so I have no idea what else it might have said. Now I wonder what else I put into that package, and why it was obnoxious.
kareina: (Default)
[personal profile] kareina
This morning I was motivated to start a new modern sewing project. I think I mentioned some time back that I had finally gotten around to cutting open the front of a modern sweater and putting in a zipper as it was a great weight for a summer/autumn jacket, but that it was still too big, and I ought to alter it. Today I finally did. It was another of those stupid modern shirts where the arms are not designed to be raised, and it was too big around for me, which meant that the sleeves hung just a bit too long. So I marked where the edge of my shoulders hit the sweater and cut straight down from there, giving me a central body rectangle (with a zipper in it for the front part). Then I cut the sleeves off of the bit that had been between them and the body rectangle. Then I cut the bottom of that bit into a triangle which I sewed to the body rectangles as gores from hips to waist, and the part that was left I sewed the straight bits together (that had been next to the body rectangle before being cut off), then trimmed the other edges to make that part a more symmetrical diamond shape, which I sewed in as under-arm gores that fill in the arm pit where the sleeves used to have a weird curved attachment to the body, making it hard to raise one's arms, and extending down from there to the waist. Actually, it was long enough to go past the waist, so I opted to leave both sets of gores as long as they could be, and they go past one other at the waist. The result is quite comfortable. This all took 6.6 hours of my day, not counting various food breaks.

When I was done I re-arranged the office furniture, which makes me happy. I love re-arranging furniture. However, David may not be so pleased, since he wasn't here to discuss my plans and had no input. However, he and Caroline dropped by today so he could work on a project in the shop and she could get some more things to take to the apartment, and even though they were here a couple of hours, he didn't make time to talk with me. I asked him to join me when I sat down to eat during a sewing break, but he didn't want any of the apple-nectarine cobbler I had baked*, so I suggested he sit down and talk with me while he ate, but he wandered off to do something else instead, so I returned to my sewing, and a short bit later they shouted from the door that they were leaving. If he didn't want to make time to talk, then he had better not be bothered when he notices I moved his desk without asking first. (I am fairly certain he will be ok with it.)

Tomorrow I hope to pick more berries, even if it is still raining (it has been since yesterday), but it all depends on how healthy I am feeling. I haven't gotten any sicker, but I still have that hint of soreness in my throat if I swallow. I also have another issue I have forgotten to mention--my left index finger has kinda swollen and hurting at the base if I try to do anything with it since Thursday evening, and I have no idea why. I didn't bump it, it has no cuts to be infected, I wasn't even doing anything that used it that evening--I was at the computer, but mostly reading instead of typing. Oh well, if it is still bothering me on Wednesday when I see my physical therapist I can ask about that, too.

*I had thought to make a fruit salad, but the nectarines were so insipid that I figured the only way to make them palatable was to bake them with the tart apples, a bit of sugar, and a topping of oats, walnuts, butter, yoghurt, and more sugar. No, UI didn't make it sweet, but I figured it needed a little to do something about the poor nectarines, who were picked before their time and sent who knows how far around the world to languish in the fridge till I noticed we had them. It worked, they were much tastier after baking and adding other yummy stuff to them.

two gentle projects for a lazy day

Sep. 8th, 2017 09:46 pm
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[personal profile] kareina
Still feeling not entirely healthy, though also not really showing much in the way of symptoms, either (slight hint of discomfort in my throat if I swallow, but other than that nothing). With luck I will just get over it without ever feeling worse, but to be certain, I have taken it easy today.

Project #1 was making a template for decorating my hammer dulcimer. I think I have mentioned before that in an attempt to learn to read music I am trying to colour-code it (A=red, B=purple, C=blue, D=green, E=yellow, F=orange, G=brown). At first I was doing the colouring of the music in a drawing program, but it turns out that the uni printers are calibrated way too differently from my monitor, so that the colours which are easy to distinguish on the screen are hard to tell apart when printed (especially the brown-purple-blue-green and the red-orange). Therefore I have given up on that and am instead just using colour pencils to write on printouts of the sheet music. I had had little coloured dots, printed from the computer, that I glued down to the bridges of the dulcimer, but the quality of glue stick is variable, and some dots were coming off, and see above about the difficulties in telling the colours apart. I could mostly manage anyway, since I know the sequence, so the one just above the yellow has to be the orange, but that sequence of several in a row that look nearly the same makes it harder.

Therefore I have decided to invest in some paint and do decorative little swirly bits on the bridges in the colours, and, while I am at it, make the ones that are sharp or flat look different from the ones that are natural. The first step was to order the paint. The other day I checked the Swedish art supply store that David orders from, and noticed they had some sets of acrylic paint, but none of them seemed to contain all of the colours I needed. Therefore I sent them an email explaining what I wanted, and why it was important to be able to tell the colours apart, and could they recommend to me which sets and/or individual colours I should order? I wrote in English, but included a sentence in Swedish at the end saying they were welcome to reply in Swedish if they like, as I have no problems reading it. Not much more than 24 hours later I got a reply, in English (the writer confessed that it is his native language) stating that since none of their sets actually contains purple, I would be better off ordering individual colours, and he gave me the list of product numbers to get the full set I need. As soon as I placed my order I also filled in their contact form thanking them for awesome customer service, and naming the guy who had written.

Since the paint has been ordered, it was time to decide exactly what I will be doing with the paint, so opened up an old drawing of my dulcimer, with strings labeled as to which is which, and added a new layer to actually draw the bridges (which I measured). Then I added another layer to design the swirly bits to paint onto the bridges, and coloured them on screen to see how it would look. I decided to go with making the sharps and flats have only a thin line connecting the top and bottom swirls, but the naturals have a wide bit in the middle, too. Easy to tell them apart, but not distracting, either.

Then I printed a black and white version of the bridges and swirls, coloured them in with my coloured pencils (which I can easily tell apart), and tried sliding them under the strings and onto the bridges. It turns out that my spacing of the bridges wasn't quite right, so I needed to print and colour a couple of times before I managed to have a perfectly sized strip to label the strings (I also had to scrape away the remaining old glued on dots). I have tried playing from sheet music with these swirls under the strings, and it works. It will look much better when I have replaced that paper with the painted swirls, though I am not looking forward to having to loosen all of the strings enough to push them off of the bridges to do the painting and then tightening them again to the correct note. I will need to do them only a few at a time, I think.

Once that was done I spent an hour curled up on the couch reading, took a nap, read some more, and then was inspired to do a long-procrastinated project. Back in about 1989 or so my then-boyfriend, George, had a pair of wool dress trouser that he didn't want any more (shrunk in the wash? wearing out? tired of them? I don't recall why, but he gave them to me). They were much too big in the waist (even in those days, when I was much chubbier than I am today), but with a safety pin to hold them on they did just fine as a layer over silk or wool tights for cross country skiing. I have used them for many years, and over time the fabric in the crotch wore thin and then gone. At some point, years ago, I kinda patched them from the inside with scraps of some other wool, but that wasn't working so well anymore, since the holes had grown. They got stuck into the mending closet some unknown amount of time back, and largely forgotten.

Till late this summer, when I wanted something to wear on my legs while working outside on a cool, rainy day. Then I remembered them, checked my clothes cupboard and couldn't find them, checked the mending cupboard, and there they were. Still too big, still with holes in the crotch, but over wool tights they were just fine for working outside in not so nice weather. This time as I overlapped the waist huge amounts before pinning them on it occurred to me that it might be possible to cut away fabric from the inside of the thighs to get rid of the holes and take them in to actually fit.

Today I remembered that, and thought I would give it a try. Sure enough, looking closely at the legs, the damage was concentrated in the crotch such that a straight line up the back of the leg, from the ankel to the waist would just miss the damaged area, and the part below the holes, but between that line and the original inner leg seam looked wide enough to make some triangle gores for the crotch. So I gave it a try, and three hours later I have a pair of trousers that fit. I might have liked the thighs to be a little looser, but that wasn't possible given the fabric I was starting with, and they aren't exactly tight. Much to my delight I was able to do the entire project on the treadle sewing machine. I had expected that I wouldn't be able to do the second pass of the flat-fled seams on the legs, but I managed it.

Thinking that I couldn't do the finishing of the legs, I decided to try part of it anyway, to reduce the amount of hand-sewing that would be needed, so I first finished the back seam from the waist to the crotch (I didn't do anything to the front seam--it still has the original zipper), then sewed shut both legs, the opened it up and, starting from mid-upper thigh, started finishing that flat-felled seam, expecting that I would be able to manage from there, across the crotch, and down to about the same spot on the other leg.

However when I reached that point I realized that I could managed to crumple up the fabric behind the sewing machine foot and smooth out the fabric in the path of the seam and do another couple of cm more. Then I realized I could smooth out the next 2 cm, and so on, right down to the ankel. Since that worked, I returned to the other leg, and gave it a try from the ankel up, and sure enough managed to smooth out and fold under about 2 cm of seam at a time till I reached the part that I had already done. This won't be at all surprising to those of you who sew by machine regularly, but for so many years I sewed only Medieval costumes, and then only by hand, so I didn't think I would manage.

Now it is 22:25, so I should go to my yoga, take another hot shower, and get some sleep.

no Frostheim tonight :-(

Sep. 7th, 2017 07:54 pm
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[personal profile] kareina
Last night I was feeling like I may be coming down with a sore throat, so I went to bed early. After nine hours of sleep I was feeling just well enough that I went in to work, but then needed another two hour nap this afternoon after working my half day, after which my throat had a hint of hurting when I swallow, but doesn't hurt if I don't, so I am clearly still fighting off some sort of virus or something. Therefore I contacted the people I had hoped to meet with to discuss Norrskensfesten stuff, and they are all either out of town or otherwise busy today anyway, so I contacted the other guy with the room key, and he and his wife can't make it because she is sick, so I announced on FB that the meeting is canceled and stayed home. Hopefully tomorrow I will be feeling better.


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January 2016


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