Sunshine and Early Departure

September 16th, 2014 No comments

The sun certainly came out of hiding this morning. The air crisp and clear. You think that the weather gods know that our ship sails at lunch time? What fun is overcast and rain when you don’t have tourists out to become wet and miserable ?

One of the other knitters and I made the hike to town. Besides the Icelandic hand knitters guild shop which was open we identified three other major locations for yarn (all of whom open at 1100 which means we stared through the window, took pictures and saved our money) and several minor. Seems like all the gift and souvenir stores are now carrying sport weight in about 15 colors just in case someone needs a yarn fix.

Since we had forced our way against the wind on our trip to Reykjavik we had that little bit of extra push to help along those last two kilometers back. And yes there was a city pay shuttle bus but really – better to walk along the harbor for a 9 km round trip to the far end then have to hit the treadmill tonight.

Time to knit?

Most certainly!

Categories: Travel Tags:

Ice, Volcanos, Waterfalls

September 15th, 2014 No comments

It wasn’t something that occurred to be in 2010. And it certainly didn’t until we drove off road today on our adventure. Along the area where there used to be a mountain top which exploded in lava and ash is now partly a plain criss crossed by flooded flat lands and rivers.

More than spew ash in the air to disrupt air traffic, volcanos produce heat. And if yours just happens to push lava up under the largest glacier in Iceland then the resulting large amount of melted ice should not be a surprise. Melted ice = water, right? Not just the planes then but also the local farmers flooded out, roads and bridges affected. Sheep, don’t forget the sheep. Really not sure how well they would swim in the month of April.

So there you have one of the second and third order effects; water run off and flooding. We managed to get 2/3 of the way toward the remaining glacial area before the height of the rivers made it too risky. No bridges here but off road in a 4×4

Instead we visited waterfall after waterfall one of which had a small climb (527 steps according to the sign) to reach the observation platform at the top. There is a really challenging hiking trail that starts there but we had neither the time or the equipment for a 26 km jaunt at this time of year.

Then there was the hiking behind a falls and the hiking up a river bed to the base of another. It was a fabulous day and hopefully I can do pix at some point.

Categories: Travel Tags:

It’s getting colder

September 14th, 2014 No comments

And the volcanos are holding off; at least so far as to not trash cruise ships ability to dock.

The remainder of yesterday was spent on wandering streets, taking a few pix, and meeting a ram with a really impressive set of double horns.

Oh yes, and finding out that even with a ship in port those 1400 closing hours are firm. The yarn shop at the mall had nice yarn but nothing special. The best one in town was closed. Sirri featured mostly finished products but did have a small room of yarn from local sheep ( but I do suspect it was spun I neither Denmark or Estonia.

So today is mostly show and tell at the crafters table and tomorrow we dock in Iceland.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Tørshaven

September 13th, 2014 No comments

We weren’t underway even 30 minutes last evening before the fog crept up around us to blanket the sea with in a few hundred meters of the ship. The Shetlands seem to first recede, then vanish into mist. Slightly an eerie feeling with gulls calling but not visible. If I was a Bard, it would be a wonderful start to a tale of magic, struggle and stubbornness. Shetlands are part of Scotland. That sense of independence and stubborn has insured their survival.

Overnight we have traveled in the white with not even the moon visible.

This morning I woke to white out followed by an announcement that the cargo ship had not cleared the pier due to technical difficulties so that we would be tendering. In spite of all of that we were on the pier about 1145 just in time to see the sun finally being disgusted enough with the damp to burn it away

So now I am wandering old sod roofed houses, book stores and seeing want is on the three yarn stores in town. I even found postcards. Last tender is 1730 leaving a reasonable but not huge amount of time in this clean, organized and free bus ride town.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Lerwick

September 12th, 2014 No comments

You are hearing from me early today both so that you know that I am fine and the fact that reasonable WiFi is always easier to find before most of the passengers get off the ship.  For those of you who have forgotten all the Geography you have learned, the Shetlands are off of the coast of & part of Scotland. So yes, there are quiet but firm opinions here on independence. Most here see themselves as much more politically and financially vulnerable than the main land of Scotland and don’t see anywhere the pride of independence balancing the potential costs.

Lerwick is the largest of the towns here. Hardworking and nothing fancy. Much of the industry is directed toward the sea or maintenance of the buildings that are here. Since many seem to date back a century or two (what was good enough for our great grandparents should be good enough for us and our children….)..
Anyway. I was the only one on the upper deck of my tender as it traveled from ship to shore.
When you build your houses of stone or local brick when the clay of your land is has the color of winter seas your buildings are dark, plain and undistinguished against the bright green of nature. The roofs are dark, the chimneys prominent. This is Scotland. You don’t fix that which is not broken. If it worked for your grandparents then it is probably right for wind, wave and sea and strong enough to survive on this isolated location.
I spent the first couple of hours walking around town before finding a nice coffee shop to have tea with milk and WiFi.  I know where I can find the Museum, the knit shops, the Shetland Islands Spinners Guild and the Puffins. 
 
I am off!
Categories: Knitting, Travel Tags:

Remember

September 11th, 2014 No comments

Where you were, what you were doing that morning of East Coast Time. Coffee perhaps? Or tea at your desk partway through the work day? Were you asleep since in your life and time it was too early to think about being awake much less fire and falling bodies.

The number of lives lost was not actually all that great if you compare it to other disasters both natural and man made. But this particular act of violence has had long term consequences for both the US and the world. Innocence and security at home can’t be reestablished. Iraq, Afghanistan and the aftermath can’t be undone.

These last 13 years have seen changes in attitudes, civil liberties, and justice in the US and none of them for the good.

What is now being lost are the personal stories. The memories of those who who were killed, those who died while doing their jobs in the service of their city, county, country.

Not just today, but for the next few days – think. It has been 13 years. We all have been affected. Not just the US but from almost all countries around the world whose citizens were in the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, on that final flight going to ground.

Remember, think about your contributions for the last 13 years. And say a prayer or light a candle or meditate on where you are going from here in memory of those individuals, their families, friends and the holes left by their deaths.

Categories: Travel Tags:

The moose is still here, Kristiansand

September 10th, 2014 2 comments

It was relaxing, just walking around a perfectly normal Norwegian town. Yes, several book stores had a few post cards and the small info point on the pier had magnets, but the tenor of the town is normal commerce.

Since last night I had flippantly texted the kids that this was their “last chance for Norwegian Sweaters” imagine my surprise when the replies I received were to the positive. So here I am
In the non tourist town looking for sweaters. My own fault. Several sweater stores in Oslo but I hadn’t offered so here I am looking for sweaters when it isn’t cold.

Husfliden! Yes they have sweaters. rauma (hand knit ) Dale, Viking. Next challenge was to find the sweaters in approximately the right color and size combination. Meeting up with friends I dragged my heavy bag to the quilt store – no purchases. To the other yarn store – no sweaters and avoided buying anything more.

Detoured back to the ship for lunch before hiking all over the town again. I have been here before and still find the sculptures a bit strange. But what clinched my memories was the stuffed moose on a rolling platform on the pier…,

And George- Happy Anniversary
!

Categories: Travel Tags:

turn over day in Oslo

September 9th, 2014 No comments

We sail into OsloHarbor to the quiet rumble of the engines and slapping waves. I get to enjoy the sight of the buildings appearing out of the mist and starting to sparkle in the wavering early morning light.

Docking promptly at 0700 I am standing on my balcony with my camera when the rain starts.

 

(please note, this doesn’t slow me down.  I have a rain jacket, an umbrella and a date with free WiFi in the shopping center before most are off the ship.  I just love high speed free…..

Categories: Travel Tags:

Knitting

September 8th, 2014 No comments

After a week of wandering around on ship without any obligations to anyone I thought to behave myself. After all, I had dinner last night at Chops with Klaus & Ilona who I first met last fall on that little jaunt across the Pacific and around Australia. In the lounge earlier in the evening were a whole table of those with fancy name tags with whom I have met on previous crossings.

So it was that I took myself up to the Solarium before 0900 to stake out an area and have a munch since I was already there. Neither are actually all that much of a hardship. I am an early riser, a couple of lattes were already history. Besides, the kiwi yogurt parfaits are lovely.

Rather than 9-11, this gathering turned into an all day happy chat. Two of those wanting to learn brought yarn, needles and husbands. The other serious crafter in the group brought not only here knitting but also hand piecing, lots of pictures and her husband. The guys were fine even though they denied any interest in participating in our end of the table. I had forgotten to post on the Community Bulletin Board but crafters seem to be able to find each other anyway.

Since I had such a good start to the day, I managed a trip to the gym and a limited supper in the CL. The Aussie with whom I chatted reminds me of my British exercise companion from the Grandeur & Liberty. Nothing like being 87, still reasonably mobile and off for a bit of travel. Then just before heading back to my lovely cabin (balcony, spacious and as far aft as was possible) I turned a short hello to Art & Julie into an hour + conversation. We connected on the Infinity this winter, so they had missed most of my whines concerning George’s house in Berkeley.

Sitting on my balcony watching the moon hanging not quite full in the sky I really appreciate the changes in my life, especially the last year. I love the travel, the time to learn about new subjects, and mostly all the fascinating people. Obviously I don’t miss cranking patients through an exam room, but that wasn’t my role (except sometimes on deployments) for the last two decades in the Army anyway.

Categories: Friends, Travel Tags:

Heading across the Atlantic

September 7th, 2014 No comments

Changing cabins once again, I am headed across the Atlantic by the Northern Route. The stops should be fabulous and hopefully Iceland will not be a blast.

 

Up and across

Up and across

 

ITINERARY

DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Sun Sep 7 Hamburg, Germany 5:00pm
Mon Sep 8 At Sea
Tue Sep 9 Oslo, Norway 7:00am 5:00pm
Wed Sep 10 Kristiansand, Norway 10:00am 6:00pm
Thu Sep 11 At Sea
Fri Sep 12 Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland 7:00am 4:00pm
Sat Sep 13 Torshavn, Denmark 10:00am 7:00pm
Sun Sep 14 At Sea
Mon Sep 15 Reykjavik, Iceland 9:00am
Tue Sep 16 Reykjavik, Iceland 1:00pm
Wed Sep 17 At Sea
Thu Sep 18 At Sea
Fri Sep 19 At Sea
Sat Sep 20 St. John’s, NL, Canada 7:00am 3:00pm
Sun Sep 21 At Sea
Mon Sep 22 At Sea
Tue Sep 23 Bayonne, NJ 6:00am

None of the stops are new for me except for Lerwick. The Cruise Critic group is not as large as many of my transatlantics which is all to the good. A bit of rest, reading and knitting on sea days would be a novelty for me, right?.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Oh, right

September 6th, 2014 No comments

what one does on the last day of a “cruise” is get organized. Unless of course if you are staying on for the next voyage. If you are staying with the ship you might not have to do anything. Unless, of course you are changing cabins….in which case you have to pack up enough of your stuff so that your poor cabin attendant can relocate you without problems.

If you want to do it yourself, not a problem but then it is a matter of hanging out till those who are in the next cabin on your list have departed the ship. No one likes being invaded and there is this slight issue of not leaving personal belongings open to the perusal of other passengers. What can I say? I am not particularly paranoid but that doesn’t mean that I want to put temptation in the way of someone who is departing the ship.

Not very trusting am I?

Anyway, packing is what one does on the last day of the cruise. Along with eating – always an option. Only ships with major problems leaving them dead in the water have ever been rumored to run short on rood. In the case of the passengers on this particular vessel, a shortage of beer might be seen as more concerning than a lack of food. But since there was no lack of food – those of us staying on the ship were treated to a rather nice luncheon to accompany the info-dump about turnover day in Hamburg. Since there were 14 passengers who boarded in Oslo also staying for the transatlantic, they included them as well.

So that leaves me after lunch with packing, which actually I could do in the morning if I want to be up early. Pilot joins the ship at midnight for the sail up the Elbe. With docking at 0700 that should be plenty of time…..

Categories: Travel Tags:

Aalesund

September 5th, 2014 No comments

I love this town, sprawled across three islands and crawling up the side of the hills with houses clinging in places that wouldn’t be allowed in California. But then, I don’t think fire is a big issue here. And if rain was going to wash them away, well it would have happened several years ago. That is not to say that the city itself was not destroyed by fire in 1904, but just that today the rain seems to keep all those lovely stone and concrete buildings more than damp.

I’m not hiking up to the top of the mountain today. I have been up there to look down over the city the last three times I have been here. Today instead I am catching up on email and files (something ever so tempting about free high speed wifi in the local shopping center) as well as correspondence.

Of course, since I don’t need anything at all, I won’t be stopping at the new yarn store, the souvenir shops or any of the second hand locations….

Categories: Travel Tags:

I am not 32 anymore

September 4th, 2014 No comments

Also in port yesterday – HAL Rotterdam. & Phoenix Albatross

Passenger origin: (all numbers rounded)
180 Norwegians
150 Spanish
225 Romanians
170 US
730 Germans

Ok and on to today. But first, the year is 1983 and I am hiking a 200 km self paced volksmarch around the Canton of Thurgau in Switzerland. It is the second day. Yesterday we hiked 70km today is is only 60 but we have done sea level to 1000 meters six times.

After that it has taken a lot of hiking up to intimidate me

Then today I am hiking up to a waterfall. Only 1500 meters up the mountains scrambling around ricks streams and wet grass.

My 24 hours is about to run out so the rest of the story tomorrow.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Stavanger

September 3rd, 2014 No comments

As it turns out, climbing Pulpit Rock today was out of the question. Yes, it is near Stavanger, but near is relative. Being docked for about seven hours balanced against a 3 hour drive each way without even including the more than 90 minutes to climbed …. Well even a member of the Denial Royalty can honestly believe that particular feasibility.

So instead Joy who I met along with her husband in the Vision TA in fall 2012 picked me up for some more local sightseeing. Since her husband Ron works for NATO here I lucked out with knowing someone familiar with the area.

We went to the Three Swords Monument, the actual battlefield location, and the local TV tower. The last was to get an overview of the area. There were tour buses at the Monument but not at the battlefield or Harald’s Chair since scrambling down embankments, across cow pastures and up the sides of hills is not compatible with most cruise ship passengers on tour.

You remember Harald the Fair/Long Hair? The Norwegian King who united the three kingdoms in Norway around 872? Something about winning the hand of the woman he wanted. Personally having your guy go to war for you is a bit much, but then I am not a Viking Woman of the 9th century. I will leave it to your imagination if she really wanted a united Norway or saw it as a way to avoid Harald/get him killed. After the other two chiefs surrendered to him, folk lore has that he finally got his hair cut. Thus there is the stone chair sitting near the cliff side to this day.

Oh, Gjestal has a factory store about 45 minutes out of town where they sell both sweaters and yarn.

Pictures have been taken. Adding then to posts will be limited till I am home as a warning post has come in from my server. I am close to my paid for limit. I manage all functions relayed to self-hosting off a dedicated netbook at home. Since I am not home and don’t have either account info or passwords, FTP clean out of duplicate files and junk is just going to have to wait.

Just think high hills, rocky fields, water, fjords and lots of pine trees. No. Not Northern Minnesota or the Upper Michigan Peninsula but close.

Gee, Norwegians feeling like home in the new land….

Categories: Travel Tags:

First Stop – Oslo

September 2nd, 2014 No comments

You know you are in Norway when:

The alphabet sprouts new A and O diatrictical marks

When the cost of a cup of coffee is $7

When NOW means Norwegians on Wheels

When you find yourself watching young troops marching up then lining a parade route as an honor guard while military marching bands blast our ears.

Where most of the names on buildings could just as easily be found in Northfield MN

Where the coffee and ice cream places out number everything else

If you are on my postcard list, not happening here. As much as I might love you – between the card and postage it’s over $4. Even Italy is cheaper than that. Got back to the ship with the same amount as I left with.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Glass Doors

September 1st, 2014 No comments

It seems to me that large glass doors – oh about the size and shape of the one leading into the fitness center on the Legend – need to have a large sign on them at about face height. Most certainly they should not be so clear and clean that you don’t see that they are there. Is that enough said? My head is hard but my knee has a significant bruise on it.

In any case it put a slightly different end on the day than what I had planned. Not that I didn’t enjoy myself today. I slept, read, talked to a few people and finished the back on my Ypsilon Vest. I made it to the fitness center and pushed my number of steps past 10k for the day according to the FitBit.

I just hadn’t planned on sitting this evening with an ice pack on my knee and whining. So shoot me now!

Cruise
Have met some interesting people: there is a couple from Canada a few hours from both Calgary and Edmonton who will be on ship until Quebec City. They are lovely, less polite than a few other Canadians and have the distinction of their parents having immigrated from Minnesota ~ 1910 since the US was getting too crowded (especially with their fellow Norwegians) according to family history. A sail away I met a couple of guys who live in Hamburg. One is German, the other came to Germany for a Master’s degree about 15 years ago and is still here.

And yes, there are a significant number of staff who are either still on board from last spring or have been on leave and have now returned for the trip back to the US.

Books -

In other news – I forgot to mention didn’t I that I dropped off 19 kids books at the USO on the way to the states last month. Put 10 on the shelves in Neuegasse last week on Thursday and another 11 on Friday.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Back on a ship!

August 31st, 2014 No comments

Yes!

 

just a few Norwegian Ports

just a few Norwegian Ports

 

Wouldn’t think that I was excited or anything (grin)

 

ITINERARY

DAY DATE PORT ARRIVE   DEPART
Sun Aug 31 Hamburg, Germany 5:00pm
Mon Sep 1 At Sea
Tue Sep 2 Oslo, Norway 7:00am 4:00pm
Wed Sep 3 Stavanger, Norway 10:30am 6:00pm
Thu Sep 4 Geiranger, Norway 2:00pm 10:00pm
Fri Sep 5 Alesund, Norway 7:00am 5:00pm
Sat Sep 6 At Sea
Sun Sep 7 Hamburg, Germany 7:00am
Categories: Travel Tags:

Off to Hamburg

August 30th, 2014 No comments

I was actually all packed and ready to go last night at a more than reasonable time. It really wasn’t all that hard: traveling clothes are easy and I had already figured out what I wanted for knitting projects. Then I remembered that this trip was northern across the Atlantic and didn’t need snorkel gear or beach wear. So out came some items and in went the umbrella, rain jacket and a variety of items for layering.

This morning, when the weather looked like rain I traded sandals for hiking shoes which meant I needed socks and perhaps the umbrella? Nah, and closed the suitcase for the third time.

The train trip was enjoyable featuring a change in Mannheim, a reserved seat, a wonderful young (and tall) man who boosted my suitcase up to the rack and only 26 minutes of delay. Hotel is another story. It is clean and basic with flaky internet. Did I mention the fact that there are no lifts? Wasn’t in the info on the booking site. My suitcase is sitting in solitary splendour in their luggage room since I was not about to carry it up two flights, long flights of stairs.

I’m across the street from the main train station and about 2km from the HafenCity port. I walked it today to check out the route noticing that there are escalators at both the U-Bahn station on mine and the ports end. If the weather is good I will walk, if not? Well public transportation is only 20 meters away. One of the Aida ships docked today; sailing out at 1800 with a crowd there to watch. None of the people with whom I spoke knew anyone on the ship. They just thought it was good fun to watch a sail away.

Check in is at 1100 – I asked! So am going to attempt sleep if the drunks in the next room chooses to shut up for a few minutes. I am not interested in thanking the idiot who thought giving the a room with a balavony was a brilliant idea …..

Categories: Travel Tags:

Worse than socks

August 29th, 2014 No comments

We all know and hate the sock problem.

You buy socks in pairs and somehow, over the course of washings one of those socks disappears. Now we all know very well that you put the socks in the hamper, after all what adult would leave his rolled up socks on the floor to escape under the bed. Which also might result in leaving the hidden behind as you travel. No, socks all go in the laundry basket. Then, somewhere between that basket and the washing and drying process one of the pair escapes.

 

Nah, he wouldn't leave socks on the floor....

Nah, he wouldn’t leave socks on the floor….

 

After a while, unless you buy socks by the bag guaranteeing that your socks will have to learn to live with cousins so that you don’t need to bother about matching with proper mates. Sooner or later your luck will run out, but that could be months or years rather than weeks down the road. You can deal with the lone single sock then. Easy, peasy. Toss it out. But most of us wind up with more than the single orphan.

Today I found out there is an item worse than socks for going astray. Gloves. Specifically black gloves. When we were packing out, I carefully grabbed all the black gloves I could find and placed them safely on a shelf. While packing for the next month I decided that it just might get cool in Norway, Iceland, Canada. Perhaps I might like to bring a pair of gloves in case? Hats aren’t an issue; I can always knit another hat.

This is what I found:

above are solo gloves, below are three pair...from 16 gloves

above are solo gloves, below are three pair…from 16 gloves

yes that is right – three pairs. Five stray right gloves, four stray black left gloves and a grey one that was lonely and snuck into the stack. I went hunting in the hallway drawers and turned up another five solos. I also found underwear, socks, single mittens and a really amazing collection of cords. But no pairs. Think about it. These aren’t all my fault, it takes a family to lose 1/2 of fifteen pairs of gloves.

And now you understand why I refuse to knit gloves or mittens for my family.

Categories: family, home Tags:

SABLE

August 28th, 2014 1 comment

No, not a coat. Just the knitters’ abbreviate for …

Stash
Accumulated
Beyond
Life
Expectancy

which I now have embroidered on this lovely project bag courtesy of Dagmar (NanaWolf’s Sister). She thinks I did her a kindness by giving her most of our pegged together bookshelves while I know she did me a huge favor by hauling them out of here and sparing me from lifting, toting and taking them to the charity shop. We are both thrilled at the results.

My Stash Treasure

My Stash Treasure

Now, SABLE can apply to just about any craft, hobby or indulgence in spite of the fact that the addict may be able to look you straight in the eye and lie:

“No, I don’t have too much [fill in the blank with the category under contention]”

when it is perfectly obvious that one man could never, ever, under any circumstances personally restore more than 110 antique autos even if he manages to live another 30 years. With certain kinds of collections – survival in terms of financial or life/limb may be seriously under question. I don’t recommend either poisonous snakes, scorpions or tarantulas.

Women are more often accused of having this condition (SABLE) than men. After all, how many 3.00 circular needles do I really need? Oh, wait! Someone just told me about one made of a material I don’t already have in the collection….

Or skeins of yarn, or fleece (which can lead to goats, bunnies and llamas none of which are particularly healthy for your budget or your lawn). Then there are the fabric fanatics who don’t restrict themselves to just fabrics. After all, you need thread and patterns and sewing machines and sergers and books and interfacings and notions and…

In traditional households part of the problem might also result from those gender roles and lack of understanding on the part of someone that both parties are working and therefore the outside income rightfully belongs to both, even if the he-man is the one drawing the formal paycheck. This brings a certain sneakiness to stash accumulation with an air of “I’m not really entitled” around the edges. Neither excess purse string controls or hiding stash are conducive to healthy partnerships.

Since I have a more than healthy income, buying yarn, fiber toys etc is my choice. I wouldn’t begrudge George his hobbies,,, if he had any. But that is a whole different story and why I think sometimes he is happy to see me traveling.

There are sanctioned activities which are socially accepted. If you are a bibliophile, no one blinks twice as you overload your house with books. After all, it is a legitimate passion. Until the firemen can’t get in the door or the smell of moldy books causes the neighbors allergies to erupt in full force.

Then there are the fly fishermen. Hundreds of flies, most exquisitely unique and hand tied in that tackle box. Why? Only one fits on the line at a time, right? So why worry when I need more than one knitting needle. We all know that one size doesn’t ever fit all circumstances.

For the purposes of my sanity, I am going to completely ignore the civilian gun nuts. 16 handguns, 2 shotguns and 5 rifles? In suburban Maryland? Why? Have you grown extra arms?

All in all, collecting is fun but not profitable and can cause the occasional bit of anxiety. I will carry my new project bag on the Legend of the Seas with pride.

(See Brad, you don’t even have to collect elephants to play! Other people have far larger collections!)

Categories: Books & Tapes, Fiber Tags:

Keybearer

August 27th, 2014 3 comments

It wasn’t until we were on the S-bahn between Mannheim and Heidelberg that I discovered the real reason my true love waited for me. We had been on different flights from the US; him flying first to SF and then home on Lufthansa, me straight from Denver on a flight that turned out to be significantly late.

“Do you have a house key?” he asks..

“Of course,” I reply, “Don’t you?”

No

Oh.

and with that, everything was clear. He has been this particular route before, stranded without a way to get into the house. The last time wasn’t pretty and involved waiting most of the day for the Eldest who was off in another city. Our friend who has an emergency key was tied up at work. I was not in country which either took me off the blame line or placed me square in the center of the bull’s eye.

This time around there would be a limited ability to be rescued. The Eldest is in California, our friend with the key might/might not be around today. But here I am, returning on the same day ad close to the same time. Rather than ask me for my key (or ask me to bring an extra from home before coming to the states) he chose to say nothing.

Isn’t it so nice to be loved?

Categories: Travel Tags:

Flight Delays

August 26th, 2014 No comments

One of the realities that I often choose to ignore is the fact that nothing in the world of aviation really seems to run on time. You can believe all the hype and numbers put out by the airlines about percentage of flights that leave on time. You can look below the surface at the definitions and find that leaving on time may mean actually leaving, or just closing the doors on the plane.

In any case, none of it matters if the flight that has just been trashed is YOUR flight. It is only an hour, right? And they let you know early so that you could do something else with your day, right?

Of course, you are also talking to the idiot who didn’t bother to get added to the rental car contract. The one who was thinking to about being nice to her dear husband when she had him take the car back last night so that he wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle this morning. The one who is now stuck without wheels and flying an airline which isn’t going to open baggage drop off till four hour before the flight. And, as I just found out – on the only flight for which Lufthansa is the actual provider of the aircraft so it is not like I can depend on them to have counters open for other flights.

What was I thinking?

Categories: Travel Tags:

Coin of the Realm

August 21st, 2014 No comments

One of the things that happened in clerking out the house for shipping was the number of coins that turned up in interesting locations. All together, I have pictures the amount several times. We had coinage from both before and after the advent of the EU. Then add in all the other countries to which I have paid a visit over the last 20 years or so. So I have shekels, lira, $$ from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, pesos, and coinage from the Middle East, South America and Africa.

In my suitcase this time I brought a small bag of US coinage. Small I. Terms of. OT taking up all of the suitcase, larger in that it added more than 2 kg to the weight.

When I went to the post office today, I decided to use my coinage to pay off the mailing. I had two priority boxed at the $12.xx each size and a coup,e of tevdek mailers, I was able to provide 38.60 in coins: quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies. One of the other counter clerks was also interested in change. He swapped $15 in paper money for 4 dollars in quarters, seven dollars in dimes and the rest in nickels and pennies. I also gifted him two coins -a penny forum Canada and one from her Majesty. This still left me with change in my ziplock.

As it turns out, Wells Fargo Bank has a branch here in Aspen. The nice clerk ran my remaining change through her machine. $4.07. She was also willing to convert a traveler’s check from 2001 into real money as well.

So there you have it: 38.60+15.00+4.07= 57.67 unless I can’t add in my head.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Thoughts on flying

August 20th, 2014 No comments

Thoughts on flying

There are an excess of middle aged and up men on transatlantic business sections on weekday flights. I will just for the sake of argument assume a fair number of the are executives by the way they act and treat the Lufthansa staff. There is a certain amount of arrogance that seems to occur in CROs and general officers|: a kind of center of the universe re attitude where theirs is the I pinion that counts. Their needs come first Now in ones own firm that maybe true, bit on a airplane it is amazing how much rudeness one sees in the huddle of folks waiting to access one of the toilets.

This leads me to the next comment. Exit row in business is a bad idea. Same rules apply as far as no seat in front of you to stuff anything under. Worse, on some of the planes you are afforded an opportunity to observe more of your fellow passengers than you might wish.

Next. Footwear on planes. It is rare to see flip flops in business. Instead everyone seems to walk around in their socks. Now this is far superior to exposed feet on the carpets but still leads me to question if anyone is thinking at all before entering the toilet. Walking into a public toilet in stocking feet – and make no mistake, this is a very public toilet which is gender irrelevant – is not something most would do in any other venue. Why on earth anyone would do so on a plane is beyond me. It is about as smart as sitting down without checking either seat placement or cleanliness. But why should I be surprised about failures to zip or tuck in a group that wears sock ( and most not even the airplane provided ones) into the toilet?

Probably that was more than you wanted to think about with your cornflakes.

Then I would be demise if I did not mention the 25% of the business class passengers who are obviously there due to personal size and not by choice. This plane has been modernised but it is not one of those with acessible loos. For several passengers this was an issue.

I was glad to make Denver, get off the plane, find George and complain the whole drive to Aspen.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Unrecognized Changes

August 18th, 2014 No comments

There I was feeling all smug because I got to London City Airport early. Never mind that I had bought my ticket for the DLR and wandered off with my change, forgetting to pick up the ticket. Some lovely person grabbed the ticket and stopped me before I was a complete idiot.

Consider this foreshadowing for the rest of my journey. I got on the DLR in the correct direction. Two stops and one changes at Canning Town. This, of course, is provided that you can get through all the moms, toddlers and prams in time to exit the car. Failing that you ride one more stop to Star Lane, change directions and go back one stop.  Then there is getting from Platform 1&2 to Platform 3 (departure for Woolrich Arsenal not during rush hour). Elevator to the tunnel, Elevator up followed by escalator and dodging the crowds since the number of people hanging out on the platform is steadily increasing.

So there I am, London City Airport. Looking at the flight board – I don’t see my flight.  Huh? I did the online check in that morning and didn’t see a problem. I go to a kiosk which tells me that I can’t check in there for Heathrow flights…. What the hey?!?!? I didn’t book a flight out of Heathrow. I am not completely crazy; Convention at ExCel in Docklands = London City Airport.  I manage to get logged into the free Wifi. The flight on my reservation doesn’t exist.

I go to the desk and meet an absolutely wonderful woman. We look at my board passing. Sure enough, it says LHR. It is 1530. I could go to Heathrow, but I really don’t want to. There is a flight at LCY ~ 1700.  Miriam (great name, that) attempts to change the flight. No go as I am now booked out of another airport. Undaunted, she finds her supervisor and between them she gets me off the 2000 flight from Heathrow and onto the 1700 flight from LCY.  This is not exactly uncomplicated and takes a significant effort and phone calls to their central office with lots of explanations.

My suitcase gets checked, I sail through security and get to the gate with time to spare. The flight from Germany is late getting in due to rain and we are about 20 minutes late leaving. I don’t care, I am on the plane. I am even in an exit row – go figure. Frankfurt is no hassles, I catch the direct train to Heidelberg and am home just after 2200 (which is about 2 hours earlier than originally planned).

In the hour I have been home I have run a load of wash and packed my suitcase of everything that isn’t in the washer. Just started the dryer and I am now going to crash.

Moral of my whole story – providing an email for schedule changes doesn’t do you any good if you fail to read your email.  The fact that I fly Lufthansa a lot I think also made a difference. I can’t imaging British Airways making that kind of effort for me.

Categories: Travel Tags:

Hugos and scene around

August 17th, 2014 No comments

The Hugos

BEST NOVEL

Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie (Orbit US / Orbit UK)

BEST NOVELLA

“Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)

BEST NOVELETTE

“The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (maryrobinettekowal.com /
Tor.com, 09-2013)

BEST SHORT STORY

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

 

Ok- and now that is out of the way. I spent a lot of the day restocking bookshelves, attending literary beers – Mary Turzillo; KaffeeKlatsches – Kate Elliott,  Michelle Sagara (West); and otherwise having a relaxing day.

 

Quiddich

Quiddich

more Quiddich

more Quiddich

Steampunk complete with striped socks

Steampunk complete with striped socks

The Iconic Costumers

The Iconic Costumers

Categories: Cons Tags:

Disguises

August 16th, 2014 No comments

or costumes or masquerades. That is what a lot of the day seemed to be about. However, you will get those tomorrow since Sunday is Hall Costume Day and it is more fun to batch the insanity in one place.

Rather, I am going to detour to talk about pants. For men, the styles haven’t changed much in decades or centuries. It is solely a matter of fabrics and textures, textiles. It is not a matter of length, blousing or tightness. Face it – doublets have been long gone. Instead the only challenge seems to be that of the younger make generation actually managing to keep their pants high enough to cover both essentials and underwear. Most adults don’t want to see sagging, boxer shorts or have a visual of naked buttocks skin burned into their mind. The thought of having a visual as persistent as that jingle which converts to an ear worm is enough to produce shudders.

 

And then there is women’s fashion. Pants that go to various lengths, change color, move zippers from front to side to back to more than one of the above. Men at least have the sense to place trouser zippers/buttons in a logical and useful place. Recently, apparently to better show off belly piercing, tattoos and make oversized guts more comfortable, there has been a change in the height of waistlines. Technically referred to as “low rise” many of these items feature 10-15 cm (4-6″ for those stuck on the English system) of height above the crotch of the garment. For comparison, hips are normally measured 9″ (~22cm) below the waist. Unless you are wearing clothing that is a size or more too small, there is a significant risk of clothing going south.  So here we have it – another clothing item designed to create equality  between men and women. And slide off the ass of both.

Can you tell I am not thrilled? What is worse? I found I had inadvertently purchased one of these evil pairs of trousers. Even more fun is that while I purchased my normal size, apparently these either run large or I have shrunk. The second is extremely unlikely so I will continue to grumble about the latter. It couldn’t possibly be my fault for purchasing clothing without trying it on. Not after having been able to do this from Jack Wolfskin for years.  Not accepting any responsibility here, not me. Must be the clothing.   Now, all you need to add to completely understand my joy is airline security. Belts aren’t worth wearing through airports and packing one would mean that you knew you needed a belt.

So there I am, in the middle of a Science Fiction convention surrounded by literally dozens and dozens of young men in jeans popping in and out of the gaming tent. They are wearing various appropriate to the Con T-Shirts. None of them are cool – their pants fit.  And there I am, having to wear my shirt untucked so as to not spend the entire day yanking at my trousers.

Photos

Categories: Books & Tapes, Cons, Knitting Tags:

Various Entertainments – WorldCon- LonCon3 – Day 2

August 15th, 2014 1 comment

Just assume that I spend time every day working Registration and I won’t bother to mention it again.

But I am also making time to attend a few panels, a KoffeeKlatsch or two and what are now referred to as Literary Beers. The first case involves daytime sit around a table with a limited number of people and an author. The second is the same, only usually in the afternoon and involves meeting in the fan hall (noisier) and with beer.

In the morning, I attended a fun discussion with CE Murphy and Suzanne MacLeod which focused on Urban Fantasy, how to avoid sparkling vampires and the challenges for authors with imprints, pseudonyms and branding. I was astonished that neither was booked out (we joined the tables) but perhaps it was the early hour.

There were exhibits –

Exhibit Costume

Exhibit Costume

Wizard of Pigeons - Megan Lindholm

Wizard of Pigeons – Megan Lindholm. One of the earliest real Urban Fantasy

Robin Hobbs - Wild Rain, Mad Ship & Dragon series

Robin Hobbs – Wild Rain, Mad Ship & Dragon series

John Clute's Study

John Clute’s Study

you can't call it Tardis - that name is copyrighted (and trademarked)

you can’t call it Tardis – that name is copyrighted (and trademarked)

Ok - this is what you were expecting to see

Ok – this is what you were expecting to see

and knitting in the afternoon

completely taking over the Fan Activities tent for a couple of hours

completely taking over the Fan Activities tent for a couple of hours

Knitters and Crafters

Knitters and Crafters

  

I also managed to snag a seat at Jon Courtney Grimwood’s Literary Beer table.  He is an interesting man, crossing the line between really intellectually written and mind-twisting science fiction and literature. As you might not be away – the official main stream newspaper reviewers detest genre and love “literary novels.” As a result, how your books are named and labeled affects sales, ordering and essentially your success.

I skipped the concert in favor of getting sleep.

Categories: Cons Tags:

Retro Hugos

August 14th, 2014 No comments

For those of you who are not familiar with Science Fiction & Fandom, please bear with me (bare? oh yes there are always a few of those.) The first significant gathering of SciFi fans, friends, authors and other serious devotees of the genre occurred in 1939, New York City. Apparently they had so much fun, they decided to do it again. With the exception of a few war years, this convention – now named WorldCon – meets every year. This year is the 72nd WorldCon aka LonCon 3 meeting in London. In 1953 the Hugo Awards were instituted to recognize greatness in the field. From novels and short forms, authors and editors, the list of categories has grown over the years to include semi-pro and fans (fanzines) and now the extensive lists includes fiction, non-fiction (reference materials), publications, podcasting, long and short form action (TV & movies), art, editors…

Tonight the production team presented the Hugos for 1939 along with several of the expected “presented at the Con” awards.

Presented as a live radio program

Presented as a live radio program

I made it till almost 2200 and headed back to the hotel completely wiped having worked registration for a good chunk of the day. I ran into dozens of convention friends and managed to finish the first 1/4 of my knitted top and headed around to the back making progress there as well.

Categories: Cons Tags:

Lost souls

August 13th, 2014 1 comment

It is challenging to find an interesting or exciting post name that isn’t a repeat when dealing with Frankfurt Airport and the various lounges. Since I am headed to the UK, it is Terminal B rather than the usual A or Z. Never the less, the lounge features all the same goodies – coffees, food, power drops, and booze (for those who indulge). So far I have had a couple of wraps, two different kinds of salad and a couple of lattes. There are also puddings, gelbe grutze and cookies. Could I be over caffeinated already?

For a change, the trip to the airport was quite entertaining. I boarded the S1 at Suedstadt-Westadt with a planned change to an ICE in Mannheim. At the Heidelberg HBF two couples complete with large suitcases got on the train, sat down (we were in the open bike/stroller/excess whatever section) and started to fuss about whether or not there was enough time for their train change in Mannheim. Was 16 minutes going to be enough? One doesn’t have to be a detective to guess that they were changing to the same train as I in Mannheim and heading to the airport.

The older couple appeared to be about my age and the younger were obviously daughter and son-in-law. Feeling like a nice person, I offered to help them find their train. Bailing off in Mannheim, we headed to the under-track passage and the elevator to Track 3. This is a change of one platform. The station is extremely well signed. Our connecting ICE was on time. We were lucky to have a car stop with a door directly in front of us. Shall we just say that the train was packed to over flowing? We managed to get all the suitcases on and ourselves jammed in at the head of the line, then played the reverse push and shove at the airport.

At this point, I figured the better part of valor would be the Lufthansa Rail-Fly desk in the train terminal. 10 minutes, boarding cards issued, all the luggage checked, and we were on our way to security. I said good-bye to Kim, Scott, Kathy, and Sal at the Z escalator as they are Sacramento bound via LAX. I am sure they will appreciate the Lufthansa Lounge for a much needed rest after the train. They enjoyed their 17 days in Europe: and were unaware that California has a reciprocity agreement with Germany – speeding points here will transfer home…

Since my flight goes to London City (got to love Docklands Rail since I only have to go two stops at the London end to get to my hotel), going through Passport Control is a requirement. 20 minutes in the passport line is unusual but – Hint – if you are from Asia and on a visa, don’t try to leave a day after your visa expires. Especially if you are going to a country that also requires a visa (which you don’t have). It also might help if someone in the group spoke either German or English. Not surprising, the Border Police can find translators…

No additional book drop offs this morning – I completely forgot since I normally bring a bag of books to the USO. But then I was in a hurry after making an emergency run once more to REWE…

The charcoal backpack, complete with embroidered Edelweiss

The charcoal backpack, complete with embroidered Edelweiss

the manly shoulder bag with insulated liner

the manly shoulder bag with insulated liner

Any

You see, I had sent a picture of the Pauliner display to the kids last night, inquiring if anyone was interested. Resounding yes from 3/4 with the request to include the beer. Well, I am not hauling beer to the US, it just makes for too heavy a load. But at 9.99€ each (including six bottles of brew) it seemed like a bargain. As it turned out, there were two choices, not one, in the display. Both are made out of sturdy felted material. The one is a cute backpack, the other an over the shoulder bag. I think I can fit them in my extra bag (sans beer) along with this year’s crop of hats and scarves when I head to Denver next week.

Update book guess list – (X-322)

Alison 4444 (cost of an object)
Carmen 4567
Cat – TNTC (but less than her, so I guess she is taking all the really high numbers)
April – 6289
Isobel – 4882
Mary – 5777
Steven – 5280 (feet in a mile)
Christian – 4997
Kim – 7012

Oh! The reason for London? World Con – LonCon 3 is at the Excel Center in the Docklands.

Categories: family, Travel Tags:

What got left behind

August 12th, 2014 No comments

When I discovered the first of the “oops” items not even an hour after the truck left, I thought it might be fun to start a list and see how it goes:

  • a basket containing parts of two spinning wheels which are in one of the containers
  • one & 1/2 boxes of books (surprise? not.) including a couple of historical books and a travel book from Israel
  • a sealed envelope marked “LLadro” which I know contains the arm which was broken off one of the statues about 2-3 moves ago.
  • one of the legs for my large embroidery stand.
  • the bag of cardboard spools for the warping rack
  • the zebra wood plate (over 30 cn across, it is not exactly small) that is mostly for display but is really nice to look at and feel
  • (and this is a place holder since I haven’t looked in the laundry room yet, the kitchen or double checked our bedroom….)

Siebenschlafer

Apparently the critters have scored another victory in their attempt to invade every wall in our house.  One of the more adventurous apparently managed to get a new access to the wall between the back hall and the living room. Haven’t heard them in that area before. Idiot apparently couldn’t find its way back out. When I went to bed last night, it was still wheezing and scrabbling. This has been an ongoing battle over the last several years. I think emptying the attic has emboldened them.

 

Coffee

Which leads me to the high point of the day. I got this lovely toy to replace yet another non-functioning coffee maker. I don’t know what it is about this house, but coffee makers have an average life expectancy of six months. I was sick of continually running out of my coffee because someone else has no clue as to how much coffee to put in the filter, or balancing the cone on top of the thermos since the small broken piece that lets the coffee go into the pot rather than all over the counter has gone AWOL.

I saved up my little stickers from REWE and got my coffee maker at 40% of the normal price. Color me happy. Then I ran into a slight issue. They didn’t have the capsules. And, as it turns out, each fancy little machine has a slightly different shape and size designed to prevent you from buying anything other than theirs. Really, it is the same issues as printers – money is not made on the machine – it is made on the supplies.

Anyway – neither REWE nor Aldi had them. The Tschibo shop on the Hauptstrasse did. So off I went to buy coffee for my machine. Since I walked into town (and back) I figured to stock up. In the future, I will just order enough on line to get free shipping….

And the coffee? It was wonderful. I had two cups!

Coffee - 9 choices - no broken pot

Coffee – 9 choices – no broken pot

What I did find at REWE (no I didn’t buy any) was beer with carriers in anticipation of Oktoberfest.

For 10E you can buy a six pack complete with a Trachten Wool Carrier

For 10E you can buy a six pack complete with a Trachten Wool Carrier

Knitting

New project on the needles. This one is easy and portable. What more could I want besides a Hanne Falkenberg design (not her yarn) and garter stitch for travel?

right front - Ypsilon

right front – Ypsilon

Books

Only dropped off 72 books this morning. I hadn’t planned on making the run, but since I was awake I went. Put out all the garbage/trash containers while I was at it. Wonder of wonders – the rubbish was picked up today (say good-bye to three blue bags full of horrible, moldy stuff) as well as the recycle container emptied.

For reasons that you already know – I took a hike downtown around lunch time. Had five books which I was going to drop off at the local to the Cemetery Coffee Shop (they have a swap shelf) but they are closed. Both school holidays and looking for a new manager. So those five books were added to the Neuegasse shelves. It wasn’t fast – about 1/3 of what I had dropped off this morning was already gone – because there were about 10 people rooting through the shelves when I got there.

Categories: Books & Tapes, home Tags:
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