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25 April 2016 @ 04:41 pm
I know full well that one of the most useful things I can say to someone after reading (or hearing) something that provokes a strong emotional response in me is something along the lines of "Give me a minute--I am having a strong emotional respons to what I heard(read). Let me process this a bit, and then we can talk about it and try to determine if what you thought you said and what I thought I heard have anything to do with one another".

Yet even so, I was foolish enough to let my fingers start typing some of the free-associated thoughts that spilled forth along with the emotions. Not in a nice, safe Word document that only I would see, no--I typed them in a FB chat window, with the "press enter to send" button activated.

This foolishness on my part resulted in unedited, unconsidered, raw-emotion bearing thoughts getting abruptly, and unexpectedly, sent, mid-sentence, to another human being, for which I am deeply apologetic.

I share the fact that I made this mistake today publicly as a reminder to myself that I know better, and to be more courteous the next time I feel such a reaction to something I hear. If any who reads these words happen to learn from my mistake without the bother of making it yourself, then that is a bonus side effect.
22 April 2016 @ 08:52 pm
Many years ago, while visiting corva, she took me back-pack shopping, and I found a wonderful Camelbak pack that was everything I was looking for. Small enough to be a good every-day take with me bag and to fit under the seat in front of me on an airplane when fully loaded, yet big enough to fit everything I wanted to have within easy reach while traveling, including my laptop computer (which is rather large as laptops go).

It had handy side pockets that I could reach (awkwardly) without taking off the pack, in which I kept little plastic boxes of food (never leave home without some food! a single serving of muesli, another of nuts, or dried fruit, or hais, etc.), and my wool leg and ankel warmers (one box and one set of warmers on each side. It had a large main compartment in which I kept a wool sweater for if I got cold, and at least one sewing or nålbinding project (usually one of each) in case I needed something to do with my hands, and more recently, also half a dozen kosh balls for juggling practice.

It had a slightly smaller front compartment which had a variety of small sub-pockets, and a nice flat internal zippered compartment just big enough to keep plane or train tickets and a passport. My hearing aid box fit perfectly in one of the sub pockets, my wallet fit in the depths of that compartment, I kept a pair of chopsticks, a pen, a needle case, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. in there.

There was a little tiny pocket at the very top of the pack in which my old sunglasses case lived, back when I didn't need glasses and so didn't have expensive prescription sunglasses. That pocket also was large enough to keep my hand-lens (a geologist should never leave home without one), a handkerchief, a silk scarf to tie around my ears if they got cold, and even a washable flannel menstrual pad, because one never knows when one's cycle might start while one is away from home.

And, being a camelback, it also had a compartment with a plastic water bag that held three liters of water. Even when fully loaded with all of the above take-with-me-everywhere everyday stuff, there was still plenty of room in the pack to add other things at need and when traveling. The computer, change of clothes, a larger sewing project, books, whatever.

However, time passes, wear and tear happens. When I was in Australia in 2011 waiting for my visa to move to Sweden I had put the emergency food in plastic bags in the side pockets, rather than plastic boxes, to cut down on bulk/weight. Sadly, some mice were living in the house I was staying at, and they thought it was easier to chew through the fabric of the side pockets to get at the food, than to pull the bags out of the tops of the pockets (the pockets didn't fasten shut, but were made of stretchy fabric, and had elastic at the top, which made it easy to access while wearing the pack). Ever since those pockets have had ugly patches over those holes made from a heavy duty string kind of nålbinded over the holes, so that it would still stretch, but not leak from the holes.

More recently the zippers on the main compartment started to die--that slow way plastic zippers have, where if you zip past a certain point it starts to open up behind the zipper, but if one pulls the zipper back down to the bottom and zips up again but not past that point, then the teeth will probably hold. Eventually there were two such spots, one on each side, meaning that often the bag would open itself up, unless I were very careful how I zipped it.

In addition, the plastic water bag was getting really old and in bad shape, and kind of gross, and I started thinking of replacing it. I checked the local camping stores early last winter, on a day I had to be in town anyway, and they had nothing like this. All the camelback packs were tiny little sports bags for athletes who want to carry water, and perhaps one energy bar. There was nothing big enough to carry even a small nålbinding project, let alone anything else.

A couple of months ago I got frustrated enough with the steadily worsening condition of the pack to look on line. Sadly, there is nothing on the pack that mentions any sort of product name, just that the manufacturer is Camelbak. So I checked their web page anyway, and looked at photos of everything, and couldn't find anything even remotely like this wonderful pack, and I gave up.

Have I mentioned that I really hate shopping? In my experience shopping goes like this:

Me: I know exactly what I want, but where do I get it?
Store #s 1 to n: here are 100's of products that are totally unlike what you are looking for.
Me: but do you have object X with features Y & Z?
Store #s 1 to n: Look! We have object W with features P & Q, and object D with features F & G.
Me: But no one caries X with feature Y, even without feature Z? I give up!

It doesn't seem to matter if I look in real stores, or on line--I seem to be the only person on the planet who wants what I am looking for, and so stores don't carry it.

This week the worsening condition of the pack became frustrating enough that I checked the Camelback web page again, and saw three packs that *might* do, even though they didn't look nearly as nice as my poor dying pack. Clicking their "where to buy" button and selecting "Sweden" gave me a handful of Swedish merchants, one of whom not only carried one of those packs, but had it in a better colour (black) than the main Camelback web page had (a shade of blue a bit too pale and too turquoise to suit me).

It claimed to be a "perfect balance of cargo and hydration in a feature-rich design", and one of the photos showed some internal pockets. So I went ahead and ordered it, and it arrived today.

I can report that it is much smaller than my old, beloved, and really kind of dead pack. I managed to transfer over almost all of the stuff that had been in the old pack. But the new one is stuffed to the gills, and it won't be possible to add anything else, ever. Even though the current nålbinding project is a fairly small one. There are no handy large mesh side pockets--instead there are two tiny ones, one with a zipper, and one without. By transferering my nuts and hais from the square plastic boxes in which they had been stored into smaller plastic spice jars, they just fit in the side pocket with a zipper, and the little wool hat and gloves (that I think I forgot to mention from the little top compartment above) completely fills the other one. I was forced to put the plastic box of muesli in the main compartment, with the kosh balls, the sweater, and the nålbinding. The leg and wrist warmers and the wallet completely fill the smallest outer most compartment, and the middle compartment, which does have some internal pockets, but no wonderful zippered passport compartment, is full of the hearing aid box, comb, tootbrush, etc.

I am going to leave the stuff in there for now, and see how I go with such a small, and over-full pack. If it really doesn't work, I suppose I could try to replace the zippers on the old one, and try to find some new mesh fabric to replace those old dead side pockets. Or perhaps add mesh side pockets to this one. Or be cruel to my future self by not carrying things with me that I might need. Or something.
22 April 2016 @ 06:42 pm
Therefore I will make a list of what I have done so far, and add to it as the day goes on, to see if it still looks lazy when I spell it all out:

Before 12:30

* morning situps, 13 minutes
* workout, 45 minutes
* shower
* changed both water filters
* cleaned both toilets
* ate first and (later) second breakfast
* washed & put away dishes
* reading in Swedish (> 1 hr)
* two loads of laundry
* replied to some work emails
* checked Fb (35 m)
* made bread dough (wheat, oat, rye)
* shaped deep-dish pizza crust, filled with tomato, artichoke, nettles, and black beans, covered with more dough, covered and put into the oven.
* shaped & buttered bread rolls to bake when pie is done
* washed more dishes

After 12:30:

* enjoyed the sight of falling snow enough to comment on it on FB (without staying at the computer afterwards)
* ate pizza
* baked bread rolls
* ate 2 bread rollsv
* washed and put away dishes
* dug a tiny bit of the snow out of the earth cellar
* stood the fallen trash cans back up
* checked the tread on the summer tires that car
* re-set the new car's service clock
* chatted on the phone with lord_kjar (1 hr)
* took a nap (40 minutes)

After 15:00

* ate more pizza
* took out recycling
* biked to post office (at grocery store by uni) to pick up package
* visited with old friend I hadn't seen in ages at the store
* bought a few groceries
* got some kisses from O.
* biked home
* did yoga

Now it is closing in on 19:00 and I almost feel like going to bed....
20 April 2016 @ 10:10 pm
We had seven of us for Frostheim's craft night tonight. Not quite all at the same time though--V. arrived early and left early. S. came a bit later, but also didn't stay long, and J., a totally new guy, arrived during the last 45 minutes we were there. However, I am glad I did, since O. had asked me to bring in my armour and swords and stuff to show him, and he sounds keen to try fighter practice on Sunday. Also, since the armour was there O. spent the evening trying stuff on and thinking about what he will want to do differently when he builds his own, so it was worth the effort of bringing all the stuff.

L. had finished the nålbinding project she started last week (her first, ever), and was ready to be shown how to start a project again. She is one of the students in the group who is also in my department, and trying to decide what she wants to do for her Master's project, so I shared some ideas of projects she could do with the laser. My apprentice, E. is the other, and she is also considering laser-based projects for her Master's, if she doesn't go with a geophysics project. It will be interesting to see what they wind up choosing.

My other apprentice, A. finished a project tonight--a lovely blue wool triangle cloak for which she has tablet woven a maroon and grey edging. I quite like how it came out. I have made progress on my glasses case--the strap is nearly completely attached now, only 12 cm of seam left to do on it, but now it is finally wearable. I made the strap for this one a good bit longer than the last, so it rides down by my hip, instead of my waist, which means that I don't have to remember to take it off when I put on my coat, which will make life much easier. It will also be nice to always have all four pairs of glasses in reach, so I can just grab the pair I need for any given task, and not try to use the wrong ones because I couldn't be bothered walking all the way to my backpack.

Last night's snow actually stuck in a few, isolated, spots, which meant that tiny pockets of the world were fresh and white this morning (if only about 1 mm thick), but, of course, it didn't last, and by the middle of the day it was +5 C. Even so, there is still a fair bit of snow out on the field, even if it is mostly gone in the forest and up by the house. I need to remember to take a photo of the yard tomorrow to compare with the ones I took last year and the year before on that date.
20 April 2016 @ 04:37 pm
I have long held the philosophy that sugar isn't worth ingesting unless it is part of a homemade desert, and even then I tend to use much less sugar than the typical recipe of that type calls for. The one exception to this rule that I have made is to eat gelato when living in Italy, because 1) it is hot there and 2) it isn't as sweet as your typical store-bought ice cream, so it actually tastes pretty nice. My all-time favourite flavour of Itaian gelato is Fior di Latte (which means "flower of milk", where "flower" = "best of", and, indeed, it is).

It has been several years since we bought our ice cream maker, and I have made a variety of yummy ice creams over the years. Yet, for some reason, it took till last November before it occurred to me to ask google for a recipe for Fir di Latte gelato, and then it took till today before I remembered to try it. If I hadn't had some cream in the fridge that we bought on the weekend and then didn't use I may not have looked into the "recipes I haven't tried yet" folder on my phone, but I did, and I am glad that I did.

The version I wrote down back in November called for 2 cups of milk (or half and half) and one cup cream. However, the "ecological" cream available in the store here comes in 300 ml packages. Therefore I put the cream into a 4-cup Pyrex mixing bowl, and added milk to it till I had a total of two cups liquid. Then I put one more cup of milk into a sauce pan on the stove with half a cup of sugar (the original recipe called for 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, so, of course, my first try is with the low end of the range) and heated it till the sugar dissolved.

Then I mixed it with the milk/cream and a pinch of salt, and let it cool a bit before putting it into the ice cream maker. After it was done I did what I always do--divide the batch into a dozen silicone muffin cups and pop it into the freezer to become firmer while I happily licked the spoon, ice cream maker insert thingie that stirs the cream, and, of course, the walls of the ice cream maker itself. Then I washed up and went back to the freezer and took out one of the not yet firm servings, and ate it. Then had a second, because, Yum! ...now I am contemplating if I want to give in to the desire to go get a third.
19 April 2016 @ 08:17 pm
After C. moved in with us this spring we occasionally started noting times when it might have been handy to have a second car. Nothing that wasn't easy to work around, like her dropping me at the University for the SCA meeting on her way to dance class, but one could see how it could make a difference in the future. Neither of them hesitated when the spur-of-the-moment trip to Finland came up and I took O. over to see his grandmother, whose health had taken a turn for the worse, but on that occasion it was only the fact that Monday's nyckleharpa night had been canceled that made it not an inconvenience for them that we didn't get back from that trip till later than nyckleharpa night would have started.

After that trip lord_kjar made it clear that while I am welcome to head to Visby for Medieval Week this year, he didn't want me to take our car--ten days with no car at home is more than he cared to work around, and he started suggesting that, perhaps, it might be time to get a second car. To my mind, the only kind of second car worth buying is one large enough to take pavilion and everything to SCA camping events, but I didn't really think we could afford one, so I didn't even look when he first suggested it.

But then we looked into the cost of a rental vehicle for getting to Visby. It turns out that one can rent a mini-van for a week for (don't quote me on this number, I am very bad at remembering numbers) something like 4000 SEK. However, one would need to spend a good bit more than that for the 10 or so days the trip takes if one wants to spend the full week at Visby. That total scared me a bit, and I started thinking it might be smarter to just buy something.

At first I daydreamed about a cargo van. Something with a huge amount of carrying capacity, and a bench seat that sits three people. But I didn't think one would be easily found, so I didn't look. Finally, this weekend, I decided to check blocket to see what was available. Much to my surprise, there was a white cargo van of exactly that description available, for only 24000 SEK. So I asked lord_kjar to have a look at the ad, and while he was looking, he noticed a smaller, more delicate blue van-like object that has seven seats, five of which are removable, for only 20000 SEK. Both were about the same age, with similar number of kilometers driven.

But the more we discussed it, the more the smaller one sounded like the better option. It still holds WAY more stuff than the car we already had, but it would be easier to handel, and more versatile, since for winter events, when we don't need the pavilion, we could take passengers with us, and still have room for a reasonable amount of stuff. Little extras like cruise control also added into the mix.

So I gave them a call, and agreed to go look at it today at 14:00. If I didn't like it then there would be no need for lord_kjar to get involved at all. However, after I looked at it and determined that, yes, I can pack what I need for a camping event in it, and having driven it, and determined that, yes, I am reasonably comfortable driving it, it was time to get him involved. Therefore, when he got off of work we went back over, and he gave it a test drive, pushing its limits much more than I would have done, and decided that it was in good enough shape to last for at least four or five trips as far as Visby. If he is right then buying this is a good bit cheaper than renting a car for those trips. So we decided to buy it.

Then came the part that I love about living in the future, and living in Sweden. To do the sale itself, the owner picked up his phone, opened the web page for transport styrelsen, used his phone to scan the box code on the top of his copy of the title, entered in his personal number, driver's licence number and expiration date, and pressed "next". Then I entered my personal number, driver's licence number and expiration date, and pressed "next". Then it showed us that the car would be transferred to my name, and we pressed "ok", and the car was mine. I will get a new title in the mail soon.

Then it was time to do the payment. We checked, and one can't just "Swish" the money from our phone to theirs, since that is limited to 3000 SEK at a time. So instead lord_kjar logged into the bank's phone app and we entered in the other guys's bank account number (by a lucky coincidence he uses the same bank, which made this a one-number to type transaction) to do the transfer. However, then the bank said that 20000 SEK was over the daily transfer limit. So instead he transferred 10000 to that number, and I pulled out my phone and transferred 10000 from the exact same account, and it worked. So now we have a second car, for the cost of two nyckelharpas.

new car

We won't discuss the fact that now we will need to pay for insurance, that registration comes due soon, it needs new windshield wipers, and it is about due for a regular service.
17 April 2016 @ 11:52 pm
Yesterday some of our friends from choir came over for home made pizza and movie night. They left right after the movie, which meant that I was able to go to bed around 21:30 and sleep for more than nine hours, which I needed after a busy week of not quite enough sleep each night.

This morning I woke up inspired to actually start working on the new gambeson I have been thinking of making. This one will be done much like a Viking or Rus kaftan, but made from a couple of layers of modern terrycloth towel, covered inside and out with linen (or, more probably, a linen-cotton blend--it has been years since that fabric was purchased, so I can't swear to which it is, but I have my suspicions based on the budget that would have applied then).

I am, of course, sewing it by hand, and have chosen to do it the slow, methodical wayCollapse )

I managed to accomplish steps 1 & 2 in the 1 hr 40 minutes I worked on this before lord_kjar, who had stayed up late making a wall-mounted knife block for the little knife I want within reach of the stove, got up.

Once he was awake I took a break from sewing so that we could discuss our plans for changes to the pantry in the kitchen, and we looked at the 3D model he has made on the computer for what he has been thinking. This got us to debating exactly how big the pantry area needs to be, and how big the open area on that side of the kitchen should be, so, of course, we left the computer and walked into the kitchen to point, discuss, and re-measure.

The plan involves moving the cabinet with glass doors that came with the house from the corner to the middle of that wall, raising the upper part of that cabinet till the top touches the ceiling so that there is room for the microwave to stand on the cabinet base, then building a set of pantry shelves wrapping from the light switch to that cabinet. The question we were debating is exactly where the cabinet should sit when the work is done, and whether it is more important to have a larger pantry, or more open space on the right side of the cabinet.

Therefore I suggested that we give it a try--take down the wall-mounted shelves in the middle of the wall, move the cabinet to approximately where it will be after building the real pantry, take off the upper part and make it ready for the extension, and move the bookshelves that we have been using as a "temporary" pantry into the corner where we want the real pantry.

He was ok with this, so we did. The "nice" dishes that live in that cabinet are now in two banana boxes in the storage area downstairs, the wider bookshelf has been moved into the corner to the left of the cabinet base, the microwave, toaster, etc. now sits on the cabinet base, and the narrower bookshelf (which didn't fit on the other wall) has been brought downstairs, while the even narrower shelf that used to be downstairs has been brought upstairs to act as a temporary pantry shelf.

The verdict is that I really look forward to finishing the real pantry, as we currently have too many things standing behind of or stacked on top of other things, but that, overall, the idea looks like it will work.

Once we got that done he went out to the forge shed, where he is working on building a ventilation hood over the forge, and I returned to the gambeson in progress. I managed to get it far enough along that one sleeve is 90% done--the underarm square is totally attached to one side of the sleeve, and the sleeve has had its lining sewn shut and the tablet woven band has started to be attached. I might have finished it, but it was nearly 21:00 at that point, so I put the project down, satisfied now that my idea for doing the seams will work, and did my workout.

Then I turned in my Chatelaine's report and typed up this. Now it is nearly midnight, and time for me to do yoga and get some sleep before work tomorrow.
16 April 2016 @ 12:59 am
lord_kjar and I did a major grocery store run today, stocking up on a fair few things that had been running low, and tossing a few impulse items into the cart while at it. One of the things that hadn't been on the list was the ecological cinnamon that we hadn't seen before, and, while we were at it, the ecological licorice powder by the same company. I don't actually like licorice, but he really does, which is why I pointed it out to him when I noticed it.

When we got home and put the groceries away I discovered that we had just enough of the almost empty sugar to mean that we couldn't quite put all of the new sugar into the jar. Therefore I suggested we make some cookies with the sugar that didn't fit, and, since we had the licorice, I suggested we try doing some licorice cookies, so that I wouldn't eat them.

He liked that idea, but couldn't decide between putting the powder into the dough, or sprinkling it on afterwards, like we do with cinnamon. Therefore we tried both--I mixed the butter, sugar, and eggs, divided it in half, put flour and baking powder into half, and licorice, flour, and baking powder into the other half. Then I rolled out the plain dough, cut cookies, and sprinkled them with the powder, and rolled out the flavoured dough and cut those cookies, too. He tells me that both are good, but the ones with the powder on top are slightly nicer. I am content to believe him--I have no interest in tasting them.
11 April 2016 @ 07:09 pm
I am enjoying one of my favourite activities: working on a sewing project in the living room of a beautiful old Swedish farm house on the Lule river, listening to five Nyckelharpa players practice beautiful Swedish folk music.

I hope that the rest of you are also having it nice today.