Monday, 23 October 2017

Goodbye Bluey

On Saturday morning Bluey scooted at the back door as usual and disappeared.  This morning David found him curled up safely in the wheel well of my car quite, quite dead.  He had probably been there for a little while given the fluids I washed off the paving before David could come home and see them.

He often came out from under my car when we arrived home in the Land Rover, it was a safe place where he could sleep and wait.  We don't know what happened, it could have been a car or a fight, but at least he's not just missing.

Well, that's not really true, there's a little Bluey sized hole in our lives right now and it's likely to stay there given the whole leaving Oman, going to France and then to Australia senario.  Our lives over the next little while will not really be condusive to introducing pets.

And now with apologies to Ogden Nash

Bluey was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
In a blink he'd chase lions down the stairs,
He always yowled like a tiger in a rage,
And would never cry for a nice, safe cage.

He was the runt of the litter, but was the sole surviver.

Sometimes he was a little odd, but always laid back

 He was very good at relaxing on his chairs

He liked to sit with you wherever you were,

On the roof 

In the sewing room

On the couch

He protected us from the marauding hordes

And like to hold hands during his morning cuddle in bed

We'll miss you Mr Blue

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A little distraction

Well, David said that he was going to Cairo for work.  I think he was just avoiding being in the same country as me coming up to a French exam.  It may be that they don't let us know what kind of questions are going to be on the thing, or it could be that I might be a little bit of a perfectionist, but I'm a bit stressed.  A bit, just a bit...okay quite a lot and David would be perfectly justified fleeing the country except that he has to sit the exam when he comes back.

So I'm here with a couple of hours to go and at complete saturation point.  I can't actually remember anything, but that appears to be beside the point.  I very carefully took myself out this morning to try to be calm and had a perfectly nice visit to Muscat City Centre.  I managed to remember to pick up the moisteriser that I had run out of weeks ago (and received a lovely complement about my hair  - it went like this:

Very Lovely Salesgirl (VLS)   "I love your hair, it looks lovely."  Me:  "Thank-you, I grew it myself" (flick) - it should be note that I was wearing it out because the temperature is under 30 degrees.  VLS (completely missing the irony because English is her second, third, fourth or fifith language).  "Better than a salon, don't take it to a salon!"

There, a rather lovely thing to say.  It was especially nice because it came on top of the need to take two or three classes to convince our French class that I am not a blonde.  Non redheads will probably have no clue how astonishingly aweful it is to be called a blonde after years of copping quite a lot of "stuff" for being a redhead.****

Don't get me wrong, I loved being a redhead.  It was sometimes horrid, but mostly it was awesome.  I'm still a redhead, just a grey and white one.  It's weird.  Very weird.  But I refuse to succumb to the dye bottle, and lovely lasses like that VLS help me along the way.

Where was I?  Right, the moisteriser. I remembered the moisteriser because I had time to kill while I waited for a response from Customer Service (via whatsapp, because everything is done via whatsapp here) about getting some bags for my vacuum cleaner.  Apparently shops don't keep that sort of thing anymore (or quite possibly ever) so I needed to contact this random person, who apparently belonged to someone's customer service and he would tell me where to come - in all likelihood that would be Ruwi -50 kms across town and pretty much inpenetrable unless you have some sort of native guide.

After the moisturiser there was the Amouage shop where I discovered that they had just released a new perfume based on cherry blossom and rose - very apropos all things considered.  It is gorgeous, and a bottle came home with me (when I eventually left).  Then came coffee and a little pondering.  There had been no phone call.  Sigh.

Suddenly I was sick of waiting.  Waiting for a vacuum bag for goodness sake. I decided I was not going to drag myself on a 100km round trip in vile traffic when I was going to have to do it this evening as well.  So I went upstairs and bought a new vacuum cleaner - for 20 rial - with a one year warranty.  We're only going to be here one more year and the two hours it would take to get the new one would literally cost me twice that.  Sad but true.

I feel much better now.  Especially after the chiropracter, coffee and cake.  Now for that exam.  But first a gratuitous Bluey shot.

****Before I get gutted by all the blondes I know (including my very lovely youngest sister) I want to be very clear it has nothing to do blonde jokes either.  

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Whoops! I blinked and it's 2017!

This year has been a year of contrasts.  There has been enormous amounts of travel, we bought a house in France (or rather finished buying a house in France), we started learning French (dear God!), I graduated (finally), number one son married the love of his life (we're pretty fond of her too), a dear friend left this world far, far, far too soon, and life generally trundled on (actually I'm still pretty much in denial about Michelle's death and I think our first visit to Canberra is going to be quite confronting.

The most fabulous thing that happened in 2016
I actually write a lot of blogs in my head.  There seems to be a running commentary inside my head while I'm doing things and I take photos to sort of punctuate the commentary.  Unfortunately it very rarely comes out of my head and into the aether.  But maybe today will be different.

We have just come back from Europe.  David had meetings in Brussels and I stayed for a in Sept Forges.  David of course is straight back into work, but I have the luxury of actually starting the year in a more relaxed manner - except for French, that is never relaxed.  You know, they say that when you dream in a language you're getting the hand of it, but I'm not sure that nightmares about conjugating verbs is quite what they mean.  However, I was able to return the wrongly packaged ink cartridges in France, in French and no-one laughed - well not to my face anyway.

Where was I....whoops, the wind has just started barrelling about and blowing pillows off the bed.  Maybe it will actually rain.  Oh dear a crow just got blown off the electricity wires......

One of the things that I've really enjoyed this year is weaving.  I've played around with my little saori loom and had a great time.  Then I decided to weave curtains for Sept Forge.  The windows in the house face the road.  Now, the road is just outside the front door, literally. It is a private road and there are very few houses on it, but people do walk down it and can peer inside and see what we were doing, if they were so inclined and if we were there.  In my head the windows are quite small, but they're not really, in fact two of them are doors.  But I made my plans anyway.

Right on the road.

Our kookaburras laugh at people walking past.

Things were going swimmingly.  I decided on a pattern (Swedish Mosquito Lace - very nice and windowy), ordered the thread (a lovely 20/2 white unmercerised cotton from Halcyon Yarns - which arrived almost immediately), planned the warp (this is when I began to question my sanity), spent a week winding a 15 metre warp (with 537 ends - which is a squidge over 8000 metres in case you were wondering), and then went to wind it onto the loom.  David was helping (he's very brave) and it went pear-shaped almost immediately.  The raddle leapt to it's doom and suddenly I was hanging on to a whole lot of out of control threads.  The inevitable happened.  Two warp threads broke and all the others decided to do something else that evening.

First there was the eight threads that had glued themselves together with fluff from the green linen.

Then there were these lot who decided to party on together.  Notice the lovely smooth, untangled right hand group?  

Two days later I had untangled the mess and managed to get it on the loom.  I didn't throw anything or scream even once.  David very sensibly left the room and then fed me wine when I came out.  See why I married him?  All was well.  Mostly

That was when I realised that when I had made adjustments to balance the pattern I had neglected to remember that my loom was only 60cm wide.  The warp was wider.  Okay, so now there are threads being wound off the back beam and onto little knitting bobbins as I weave - or through the brake, or under into the warp, or where-ever it wants to when I'm not looking.  I finally tied everything on and started weaving.  Cool, it looks like it's going to work!  Except for the selvedges, the tension at the selvedges came loose, horribly loose.  Sigh.  I battled on and kept the selvedges sort of okay by shoving bits of cardboard and chopsticks in as I wound on.

Last night I got to just over two metres of fabric and the right selvedge went out on strike, it was time to declare selvedge defeat.  I decided I had enough to make a pair of curtains for the smallest window, so this morning I cut it off.  There were some pretty ugly bits.

So about those selvedges.......

Whoops, that's where a chopstick missed.

But on the whole it was looking okay

I gave it a little wet finishing and things started looking even better.  After I pressed it gently with my awesome 6kg dry iron a small miracle had happened.  It looked just like it was supposed to, except for the green bits, the original was all white.

The all over look

The lace.  These little windows just magically appear during the wet finishing.

And just look at those selvedges. 
Tomorrow I'll tie the warp back on and continue weaving.  Next time we go to France I'll be able to take curtains with me!  Cheers everyone!!

This is the best way to learn French, drinking wine with the neighbours.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

After a long break a quick hello.

Gosh it's been a long time since I posted an update.  There is a draft sitting around waiting for me to remember where I was going with it, but in the meantime this is what we did yesterday..........

Me and this bloke....

Drove into Wadi Mistal

With this bloke
One old goat

And this lovely lass

An intrepid photographer

And saw some goats...well, we saw a lot of goats.

On sheer cliff faces

even sheerer (and higher) cliff faces
In trees

On Quad bikes

There were baby goats with the cutest tails

A very new goat with a very jaunty tail

And very happy goats

Smiley Omani goats

We saw men removing wandering wadi from the road

with palm fronds and shovels of course

Some grand vistas.  Some from high up.
The ubiquitous felaj system, but this time with hanging vegetation 

Some were far away (Wadi Mistal is HUGE!!)

with added ruin in the foreground
Some had villages nestled in them

al Qurah Village where I spied a young girl curled up on her window sill reading.

And in those villages, there were (apart from the goats)

Cats doing what cats do ie sitting next to the felaj watching the water.
It was a lovely, lovely day and finished with wine and beer in Ali and Bob's garden along with multitudinous chirruping birdlife an Henrietta - the world's most spoilt chook.  

Life is good.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A Sojourn in Paris

I'm sitting in my study with the windows all open and a gentle breeze wafting in.  They're digging up the road outside and chucking about concrete mixed with plaster in the building site behind.  I'm on day 7 of my first cold in two years.  I feel disgusting.  Everything still hurts.  I did manage to go to Arabic yesterday, but that meant that getting out of bed this morning was problematic.  Bluey of course had the cure, but life really does have to start moving.......  It makes me realise just how healthy it is living in this neck of the woods.  Just three days in Paris, with what seemed like the entire population all coughing without covering any orifices, was my downfall.

I was thinking to myself, I must blog.  My brain gave one of those snorts which translates as "Yeah, sure riiiiiiight,"  Then I remembered the sitting-cafe-times in Paris resting the ()*&*( knee, and pulled out my notebook.  So now you are going to be treated to what I actually wrote in Paris.........  Oh, and I should mention.  There is a long sentence warning in this blog.  I don't care how much my more sensitive friends twitch, it was in Paris in little cafes.  I can make my sentences as long as I like.

Saturday January 17 2015 (How does it get to be 2015?  How?)

So Paris is a much lovelier place after a good nights sleep, lushly gorgeous pastries for breakfast - the panne raisin was simply the best I've ever tasted - some sunshine, and slightly less traffic.  It is not a very happy place place when you have just flown overnight with not nearly enough sleep, had your wallet stolen on the way to town from the airport [David's, not mine],  and been too cold and tired to properly cope with Parisian traffic after two hours giving a statement to the police.  Oh, having a new wool coat helps to!

It has not lived up to its reputation of being filled with rude and obnoxious people.  Apart from the scumbag pickpocket, everyone has been lovely.  Every time I had to tackle stairs with my suitcase some stranger would materialise and carry it for me.  No-one seems particularly put out that we don't speak French.  A cheery bonjour followed by complete puzzlement seems to work fine.

 It is cold, but not too cold.  There was rain, but soft gentle rain.  There were frequent police sirens, but they more resembled counterpoint rather than cacophony and sometime could almost be taken for the the call to prayer [so maybe that has more to do with living in the Middle East than anything else].  The view from the windows of the tiny apartment is not of the gardens, but a large dirty building whose windows reveal enormous skeletons of creature long dead..........

The view from our apartment, I never did catch any of them moving
The Seine is dirty, fast flowing and really quite malevolent.  At times the currents vie with each other, creating  waves resembling the wake of seamonsters.  I wonder how many little yappy dogs wearing knitted pink coats have been devoured in her depths?

Cluny was smaller than I expected and I kept being reminded of The Cloisters in New York City.  It is a lovely place, with squeaky floors and multi-generational walls.  The tapestries [the Lady and the Unicorn series of course in case you were wondering] were a revelation.  No pictures that I have ever  seen prepared me for their sheer size and astonishing beauty.  I had never dreamed that the way the threads were manipulated would give a thread dimensional texture, which brings them to life in front of you in a way the photographs are not able.  The jewels on the gowns seemed to sparkle and standout from the background.  The brocade patterns were executed, it seems, at a slightly different tension so they are smoother and denser.  The animals are so lively, especially the rabbits and dogs.  
The flowers are meticulously gorgeous.

There was a goat.  Yes, just the one.

Bunnies and puppies

And there were foxes!!

I hope this captures at least some of the changes of texture.  If not, you'll just have to go and look at them.
I found it impossible to look away from them [David's Dribblings has a photo of me standing next to one of the tapestries, it will give you some scale].  

There are many other tapestries in Cluny, all of very different quality and none as spectacular as the ladies with their unicorns.  There is one that comes to mind which  seems cartoon-like or childish in its simplicity.  It is not badly made, but the faces of the knights and ladies have a blocky simplicity and naivety not seen in the other works.  

There's something Disneylike about them.

Someone's not happy 

I'm pretty sure these are the romantic leads......

I wonder what its story is?  Was it made by someone from the family?  Was its design created by a beloved child and then worked by professionals?  The expressions on the faces capture teenage eye-rolling and ogling particularly well.

The visit turned into a madonna and child festival.  Often my visits to museums end up with a bit of a theme.  Today I was drawn to the faces of the Madonna.  So many of them have gentle, fragile beauty, while others have a quiet strength.  I wonder at the women whose faces inspired the artists who created these portraits in wood, stone, alabaster, gold and enamel.

So sweet

My favourite family group

The most despairing Pieta Madonna I have every seen.  My heart breaks for her.