Friday, 18 October 2013

Gah!! It's back to the grindstone!

Well, the jury's in.  Revise and resubmit.  Gah!!!!!!

One examiner thought it was "a solid piece of work,"  that the "quality of the thesis is of generally of a high standard" with "relatively few errors" and the conclusions contributed to "the body of knowledge for both researcher and practitioner."

Another thought it was "of interest and substance" and that I met my goals in all but the acoustic analysis and discussion in the arena of acoustic science; that I hadn't proved that I knew what I was talking about.  That just made them more irritated by formatting errors (don't rely on word large documents to pick up things like ?? for you - apparently it's a proper word and don't whatever you do expect the printed form to bear any resemblance to the on screen form) and other things that might have been minor amendments.

The third examiner commended me for my approach but had the same serious concerns about the acoustic analysis, commented briefly about errors and then proceeded to give me very helpful suggestions regarding plugging the gaps including a reading list that mostly post-dated the work I had done.  The perils of taking too long to write the rotten thing.

The whole thing is quite frustrating because much of the information was there, in an appendix that was referred to in the text, and it would seem that no-one got that far.  I had been told that there was too much information, that it just sort of sat there not doing anything.  I insisted that it needed to be there, but in the end I moved it out.  What I should have done was to find a better way to incorporate it with the dissertation.

It is also frustrating because no-one on my panel picked up the problem, no-one, not even in my final pre-submission presentation, which heavily relied on acoustic analysis.  I was worried about my conclusions, about the biographical chapter, about the formatting, about the tale I was telling but apparently I left some ducks out of the line-up.

Back to the drawing board.  Most of the work has in fact been done (to quote the wise BJ), time to make it all work properly.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Lots of bridges and plenty of water....

Six months!  I haven't written a blog post for six months? How can that be? Where on earth did six whole months disappear into the abyss?  There has been, as the title of this post hints, a lot of water under those there bridges - not to mention the odd wadi or so.  Where to start?  For those of you who read Davids Dribblings, you may feel that you are a little up to datish.  But only just.

Life has pottered on here in Oman.  For the first time in I think my entire life I have no reason to organise my day (my week, my month) and the effect is disorienting to say the least.  You'd think that I'd revel in being able to do things I haven't been able to do for years -read a novel during the day guilt free, watch television during the day while sewing, embroidering or knitting (or patting the cat), go wandering, write blog posts lots of things.  But no. The days seem to manage to evaporate with there being absolutely nothing to show for them apart from a made bed, the occasional attack of dish washing and perhaps some clean clothes.  Well that's what it seems like anyway.  I suppose the reality is a little different.

In my last post I was playing with some natural dyes and about to learn to spin with an Omani drop spindle. What I was actually doing was feeling pathetic about not taking part in an exciting arts pentathlon with the rest of my household. So of course I had to help.  So apart from the legumes I played with saffron, indigo and madder.  I cannot believe how easy it is to get these things here!  Just pop down to the souq and pick them up!  This is what I made with my little balls of coloured wool. 
The back of the bag

The front of the bag.
It's a bag for keeping gaming pieces in.  Yes, I went a little crazy, but isn't it cute???????

Getting the hang of being able to dash away on the weekend has been difficult to come to terms with too, but we have been doing it. There would be lots of lovely pictures but we also go burgled and off went my brand new camera and my laptop (which was full of carefully downloaded pictures from the camera sigh) so there aren't any.  You will just have to make do with some from our Eid Al Fitr trip to Masirah Island, home of five different species of critically endangered turtles.  It was our first time camping by ourselves (I of course stressed about the food.  We had too much - who'd a thought?)

Masirah Island is someway down the coast of Oman and takes three or four hours to drive to the ferry.  We had been told many horror stories about how hard it was to get a place on the ferry, hundreds of cars and only a few places, they only ran at high tide, you could never tell when or where you had to be to get on.  "It'll be fine" says David (another thing to stress about) and, of course, it was.  It usually is.  We drove down the road towards the dock and they waved us into the last spot without us stopping.  We found out later that they had waited for us.

On the ferry.  It takes 11/2 to 2 hours to get to the island

After arriving we tootled off down the ocean side of the island to find somewhere to camp.  We were hopeful of seeing turtles and that was the side they nested on.  We hunted around, driving in and out of coves, on and off the beach, over some rocks (lots of rocks, we have a four wheel drive and David's not afraid to use it!) until we were almost out of light.  Then we found a beach with some sheltering little dunes and decided that was it for the night.  Cooking on the hibachi took a little longer than intended (let's not go into why foil wrapped potatoes shouldn't be baked on an hibachi) but we finally buried the potatoes and cooked the steaks anyway.

David attending the hibachi
After dinner (and maybe one or two beers) we drifted off for a walk on the beach.  It was hermit crab heaven!  There were shells of all shapes and sizes scuttling along the beach away from our torches, not to mention the very indignant looking crabs (the ones with the googlie eyes on stalks) who watched us from the edge of the waves.  We saw the tracks of turtles (they're a little obvious) before we came across a determined female who ignored us intently as she dug her hole.  It was pretty amazing I have to say and we might have been a bit excited.  Then I saw a little baby turtle.  I did a very silly happy dance and called over David.  By the time he got there (slowwwww, 2 seconds at least) there were hundreds, all appearing out of nowhere.  Now that is an experience that it not likely to be topped in a hurry.  I confess I picked up little turtles and turned them towards the sea.  They run around like crazy and really have not much idea where they're going.  Until the sea hits them and they become little swimming machines.  If I managed to get just one extra turtle into the circle of life I will be pleased.  

A teensie bit of our first campsite.
We had an excellent sleep, some beach walking and then David couldn't stay still any more.  We'd brought the kayak with us and we were determined to get it into the water.  Just not the ocean side with its rough surf and suspicious under tow so we packed up and headed round the Island.  

First of all we went in search of water.  There are wells dotted around the place and there is something very satisfying about getting your water from an ancient well.  At least from watching David get water from the ancient well......




We went an looked at the wrecked dow.  Still a tourist attraction, but it's slowly disappearing.  Some people who don't pay attention when taking photographs might also disappear.......

The Wrecked Dow.  If you want to see it, get there soonish.
We went hunting for a congenial camping spot on the Oman side of the island.  Bad idea.  They have wind surfing and paragliding schools there for a reason.  It's flat, featureless and, you guessed it, windy.  We eventually found a place where we could snuggle between spiky trees amongst the camel dung.  It was loud and encouraged us to rethink our method of fixing our shelter.

David relaxing after a hard day of something.  Notice the carefully placed kayak- otherwise known as Mr Windbreak.
A quick visit to town failed to find either a repair kit for the air mattress (spikey teeth marks were found and the mattress stayed on Masirah in a comfy rubbish bin) or a fisherman to sell us fish for dinner.  Fine.  I then discovered that not only were Johnny cakes great on an hibachi, the Camembert, smoked salmon and avocado went extremely well inside the johnny cake dough.

Nom Nom Nom

What happens when you don't use sunscreen. Ow!!!
I found all sorts of things on the beach, including this little bird made of seaweed, sand and shells.

We left Masirah swearing and declaring that we would be back.  We travelled across on the ferry to the sounds of young Omani blokes have a sing song on the deck and the sight of a pod of dolphins cutting across the bow.  Driving back along the coast road we discovered that the signs that told you to be careful of moving sand dunes were right

Sand blowing across the road, BACK to the desert.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Gettin' Ma Hippy on - Dyeing in Muscat

There might be some knitting going on here in Oman that needs the odd bit of colour....  I just might have picked up some of Chris Robertson's white hand spun from my Canberra stash....

The original hand spun

I want a nice brown.  I could spin the dark fleece that also came home with me or I could dye some of the white.  I want it now! Time to dye!!!!!!!!!!!

What to use...what to use....  I know!  To the kitchen!

Black lentils[1]::
1kg black (beluga) lentils covered with water and soaked overnight (all I have to do now is think what to do with many, many soaked black lentils.

The original amount was just a little mound in the steel bowl

I strained the water from the lentils and placed it in a smallish saucepan – there was less than a litre of liquid left and I wanted darkish wool.

The murky browny blurg

I dampened the wool and placed it in the dye stuff, raised the temperature to boiling and simmered for 1 hour.  Since there was not very much liquid I left the lid on the pot throughout this stage and made sure that the wool was covered. I also stirred it regularly and occasionally turned it over. 

I left the wool in the pot to cool,  then rinsed out the liquid and left it to dry.

Before and after.  The photograph really doesn't do it justice

The result is a gingery milk-chocolate colour that matches bits of the cat and apparently tastes quite good.  Now to sort out the next culinary dye adventure.

It's Button coloured and will be kept out of her reach....
 The next step is to learn to spin with an Omani drop spindle, although I've not seen them actually dropping them only sitting and using a short draw. Although this probably has more to do with the fact they're spinning goat and camel hair rather than wool.  The lady in the centre has a spindle and is teasing out the fibres prior to spinning.

From "fleece" to yarn to ropes
Three ladies at the Muscat Festival February 2013

The spindle itself is made completely of wood and is top weighted.  I've never played with a top weighted spindle before, so this should be interesting.......

An Omani spindle.  Wish me luck!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Tis Done Diddly Done Done!

Yes, it's done.  Finished. Completed. Printed. Submitted.  I've even got a pen to prove it.

One letter of acknowledgement and an ANU pen
The final three months just don't bear talking about.  They were full of long days at the computer, occasional visits to the gym, book-club once a month and not a whole lot more.  David would drag me out when he was sick of me and make me have fresh air.  I feel that I really should be able to remember some things that we did, but right now the brain is somewhere halfway between Canberra and Muscat.  If anyone sees it could they give it a kick and tell it to get over here?

The last three weeks were in Canberra at Michelle's place (that would be the incredible, amazing, well-travelled and unbelievably generous Michelle) while she was in London having a marvellous time.  David played the tourist and I lived and breathed thesis. I could not possibly have made it through those weeks without the help and support of a small army of friends who kept me fed and entertained.

Part of the entertainment team.

Most importantly, the thesis would not have been finished but for some very special people dropping everything and being there for me when I most needed it. In particular Leslie, Kiriel, Brooke and Miesje (all of who ditched family and friends to spend days and nights with me) and Libby who baked and decorated up some Easter goodies that were amazing!!!  Six came home to Muscat with me and David, Rufus and George got to enjoy them as well.

Libby's Thesis Completion Easter Biscuits
The final night was loooonng.  Brooke finished re-jigging the discography. Leslie mopped up the Katrina after her brain completely refused to boot up and even admit what the thesis was about.  Kiriel was formatting, formatting, formatting.  The night ended at 7:30am when the formatting checks were done.  Into the car and off to the printer.

This is what 9:00am looked like after no sleep (well for Kiriel anyway) and two very delicious egg and bacon rolls

 After a few little heart attacks (what do you mean you printed it in black and white?????  I'm sorry, the Chairperson of your panel is in a meeting at the other end of the University and won't be back until have to submit at 3:30?...Oh...just a minute...The printer left out how many colour illustrations?????) the 400 page baby was submitted.  On an odd note, it weighed just about the same as Rufus when he arrived in my life.............
.....and here it is in all its temporary binding glory! 
I arrived home to visits from Rufus, George, Mum and Dad (but that's another story) and now I'm a little trashed.  It has taken me until this week to pick up a book of any kind and I still am completely incapable of multi tasking in any useful form.  Soon I'll have to think of how to develop my own daily schedule with no must-do's, for the first time that I can actually remember.  Wish me luck and watch this space!