Wednesday, January 22, 2020

101 things in 1001 days -- 250 days left

As of today I have 250 days left in my 101 things in 1001 days project, and it seems like I'm nowhere near close to getting even half of my things done. But I'm still pleased with the results so far -- 40 things! -- and I think there are several additional things I'll manage to do in the next 250 days.

Here's what I've completed so far:

Adventure Time
1. climb Mt. St. Helens - September 2018
4. ride a Shinkansen - September 2019
5. go snowshoeing - January 2019
6. go to a country I haven’t visited before - China, November 2018
9. try stand-up paddle boarding

Always Be Learning
10. 2018: 1 sketch each week – Sketchy Sundays
16. take pottery class / learn to throw on the wheel
21. take ukulele lessons - January - February 2019

22. about us page
23. about us widget
24. annotate the Carros de Foc trip – with pictures – on TWS blog
25. blog 150 times
26. comment on 100 different blogs
27. email subscriptions for the blog
31. visitors widget

36. read Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species”
38. read Darwin’s “Voyages of the Beagle” 
40. read Dickens(mas) – read all 5 xmas novellas between Thanksgiving and Xmas
42. read Joyce’s “Ulysses” March 9 – June 16, 2018

Craftacular – 33 monthly projects:
46. Africa scrapbook
52. DanAlex baby blanket
53. Edna Looney santa banner
54.finish 2017 temperature afghan (weaving in ends and crocheting a border)
55. fox needlepoint part 1, flowers
56. fox needlepoint part 2, fox
57. fox needlepoint part 3, leaves
58. fox needlepoint part 4, background
59. Halloween banner
60. Joy cross stitch – Mom
61. Joy cross stitch - Sue
63. pillows – make up raven, fox, hare, and swan cushions!
70. swan needlepoint, part 1 - wings
71. swan needlepoint, part 2 – necks and heads
72. swan needlepoint, part 3 - bodies
73. swan needlepoint, part 4 - plants
74. swan needlepoint, part 5 - background
75. xmas banner

87. find next great gig - November 2019!
88. get Thames Path photos scanned

House Proud:
100. stain patio

And here's what I'm still working on:

Always Be Learning
- GA-certified -- I think I need to complete a few things to re-certify myself. But this is within reach
- learn Photoshop -- I actually now HAVE Photoshop, and have started working through the "learning" modules.
- lettering 30-day challenge -- I plan on starting this on February 1
- Spanish -- I've shifted from Rosetta Stone to working through Duo; I now want to complete the second "castle" (what is that thing???) and am making good, steady progress.
- vegan cheese -- 2 down, 3 to go. I'll wrap this up in the next couple of weeks!

- try three new templates ... I tried one and hated it, but I'll make myself try a couple more
- Thames Path -- I have organized the photos and recovered the tiny bit of writing I already did. This is going to be hard, but there are a bunch of things to write about, so I'll start writing in early February to publish in March and beyond.

- I'm actually reading volume 2 of Macaulay RIGHT NOW. It's slow going, but I feel I can keep reading and get through all 10 volumes in the next 250 days.
- I'm also on the 4th of 5 Dickens novels. I'll get this done!

- I'm stitching Acanthus right now, in another month I'll feel like I've done "part 1/3" I should be able to complete the stitching of the leaves (if not also the background) in the next 250 days
- I'm changing "sashiko dish towels" to "embroidered dish towels" because I CAN'T FIND THE BLUE TOWELS. Which is making me feel like a crazy person. But it will still be embroidering towels for a gift, and the "due date" is actually earlier. This I'll start in February as an OMG.
- I actually have a plan for the scrap quilt -- but I won't start that yet.
- I re-spotted the materials for the "simple sashiko throw" and feel like that will be a great project for right after I finish ...
- stash afghan -- I've started to crochet and using up leftover yarn from my temperature afghan -- so I feel really good about this. I'm sharing this as part of ScrapHappy day, so that inspires me to keep going.

The other categories? Miserable. My fitness level is, well, unfit. No progress on my GOHIO tasks. And House Proud? A bit shameful. Still, at least one of those things has to be completed in the next 250 days, so there you go.

You can see the whole list of 101 things in 1001 days here, and I'd love any encouragement to help me in the last lap!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Travel Tuesday : Night Train to Luxor

After coming back from the pyramids (the PYRAMIDS!!!), we spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool -- some sunning, some swimming.

Then at 6:30 we caught a taxi to Giza station, where we stood around on the platform for an hour before getting on the sleeper train!

Funny old train; reeks of cigarettes throughout, but each car as 10 2-person compartments.

Shortly after leaving Giza, we were served dinner by our attendant:

In order to give the attendant time to make up the room into bunkbeds, we wandered down to the club car after dinner -- thick fog of smoke -- we were served a can of coke between us and charged for two drinks. Awesome! Glamour!

Beds were comfy-ish, but the jolting of the train meant we had very little sleep on the "sleeping train" In the morning we were woken up by the attendant and served an extra strange conglomeration of breakfast items, each individually wrapped: a croissant, a soft roll, a slice of white bread, a slice of cake, plus butter and jam and triangle cheese.

Left the train sleepily at 5am, arriving at Luxor.

We piled into a taxi to take us to our hotel, the Sofitel Karnak. As we were ABSURDLY EARLY and their system wasn't online yet, we spent quite a while watching the sun rise from the banks of the Nile, and just relaxing by the pool.

There was a lot of moving around from room to room to room, but at 11:30 we were given a lovely room in the "Ramses Wing" with a balcony overlooking a grassy open space and, as booked, a huge and very comfortable king-size bed. And after a relatively sleepless night on the train, we had a good, long nap.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

ScrapHappy Day : yarn as scraps?

One of the great things about participating in a stitch-a-long is that you meet a lot of other crafty folk, and then you meet their networks, and so on. I noticed that some people in my stitch-a-long take part in a "ScrapHappy Day" -- a day to show the projects you make from scraps -- and that I even knew the organizers!

A lot of my fellow stitchers are also quilters, and while I have quilted, I haven't made time to do it lately. So I didn't think I really had anything to show. And then I wondered, would leftover yarn be considered "scraps"?

Well, yes. Yes I say. And it's a lot of yarn.

How might someone end up with quite so much scrap yarn? Well, it's like this.

In 2017 I made a temperature afghan using "15 shades of grey" -- 15 shades, from black to white, reflecting different temperatures. A lot of people do their temperature afghans with a rainbow motif -- not my style -- or with 8 colors. Not me -- I went to the fabric store and pulled the largest range of black to white I could. It remains one of my all-time favorite craft projects. Here's the end of January, in the cold, dark winter:

Here's a few months in, when I realized it was going to be massive.

And here's the end of August, when I realized this massive blanket was going to be too long for a bed (but my cat didn't care).

The problem with a temperature afghan is that you don't know in advance how much of any particular yarn you're going to need. Because I wanted a greyscale afghan, I had to use multiple yarn brands ... thus increasing the chance that any one might go out of stock/production during the year. I bought one skein of each and when I ran out, bought an additional skein. In one case I managed to get the last skein listed on the Jo-Ann website in Western Washington -- and had to drive 15 miles to go get it.

But for the most part, I had extra yarn. We only topped 90 degrees F 3 days in 2017, and never topped 95, so the skein for "Elephant" was barely touched, and the white skein was untouched. Other colors were replaced late in the year, and were mostly full, too. So what to do?

While I loved the temperature afghan, the last thing I needed was ANOTHER TEMPERATURE AFGHAN. So the yarn went back into a box and into the basement.

At some point in 2019 I saw this pattern for a Rainbow Stained Glass Blanket by Pat Foster online and thought, "Oh! This might be DESIGNED to use up leftover temperature afghan yarn!:

I decided that, rather than use grey "leading" and a rainbow, I'd use black yarn leftover from this and other projects and fill in the "windows" with my shades of grey. And it's PERFECT:

Sadly the photos don't really show the different shades -- I blame the light-correction on the iPhone trying too hard! But hopefully you can see that the colors start with a very dark charcoal and are now at a medium grey.

My plans are to use up as much of the scrap yarn as I can by crocheting each color three times -- or as yarn allows. Given that I don't make a ton of time to crochet, I'm pleased with my progress so far. And it feels great to work on a project that didn't require new supplies!

ScrapHappy Day is organized by Kate and Gun, so if you're interested in participating please see their blogs. And why not check out what all the other scraptacular folks have been making out of their scraps?

Kate, Gun, Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda, Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Claire, Jean, Joanne, Jon, Hayley, Dawn, Gwen, Connie, Bekki, Pauline, and Sue L.

I'll be back on the 15th of February, hopefully showing off more progress!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Travel Tuesday : The Pyramids of Giza

Got up early and had a quick breakfast before going out to meet Alaa, our driver. Again, having the driver was fantastic: he took us to buy water ("it's very hot -- and water inside is very expensive") and then drove us to the ticket counter, waited until we went through the controls, and then drove us to the Great Pyramid.

We went IN the great pyramid -- strange -- you go in and then up a very steep, small ramp, and then up a steeper but tall ramp, and then squeeze through a low doorway into the chamber... which was full of what I must assume were so-Cal hippies chanting. Awesome. The best part was that they had seated themselves right in front of the door -- so you had to squeeze past them into the room. Oh, and they shushed you when you made noise. Great.

It was at that point that I realized that the pyramids are just amazing manmade structures, very old. Not spiritual beacons. Just buildings. Amazing buildings, but just buildings.

At some point they stopped and all you could hear was breathing. Then, after a few minutes they started again. That (and the fact that I was dripping with sweat in the heat) was my cue to squeeze back out past the hippies, telling the people trapped outside that there was plenty of room inside if they could just squeeze in.

Then down down down the ramps, scary scary, and back out into the fresh air. I was amazed at how big all the blocks were.

Alaa was waiting, and took us around to the smaller tombs. He told us to give the guard $1 or 5 pounds each, AFTER looking, and no more. So he convinced the guard to unlock the doors and let us in. There was some back and forth, but we did get in. Smaller tombs but more inside them -- lovely carvings, some still with paint. Really happy we got to see them.

Then back to the car and Alaa drove us to a panorama point and took silly pictures of us making pyramid shapes. I loved seeing police on camels. Alaa's presence kept other would-be guides and touts away, making the money completely worthwhile.

A few more stops for photos -- by the small pyramid, by the sphinx, and then we were dropped at a papyrus museum. Bless. But it wasn't a hard sell, and they showed us how they make papyrus. Pretty interesting. Of course, we didn't buy anything. Then back to the hotel, where we hung out for a few hours before catching our train to Luxor.

Pyramids: so big! Still surprising to spot them out of the corners of our eyes.

Sphinx: Alan Bennet was right -- it is like meeting a famous person and being surprised by how small they are in real life.

Alaa: marvellous. He bought me a falafel to try and then laughed when we told him we eat it at home. At one point he and I chatted while Wil was in the loo and he told me he has a family here in Cairo but another wife in South Africa. Wow! I took his picture and he said "You can e-mail it to me." Really nice man -- he kept the hassle away from us completely.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Hike(-let) of the Week : Twin Ponds Park

We didn't have a ton of time -- so much to do! -- and the weather was pretty miserable. So we pinpointed a park near where we needed to head later in the day and decided to explore there.

I thought I had never been to this park -- though when we were walking around I realized I had been there when the north pond was home to river otters. Still, it was a nice, very brief walk.

We parked on Meridian and entered the park via the Trail of the Cedars.

It was well maintained, level, and dry despite all the rain we had been having. Soon we came into sight of the first pond:

You can tell by the photo just how rainy it was -- absolutely pelting down with rain.

We followed the edge of the lakes, eventually going around the northern lake. The water seems pretty high here...

And eventually went around the soccer field and into a little wooded area called the Arboretum, behind a p-patch and a tennis court. But this was essentially a dead end, so we headed back the way we came.

There's a trail -- we could see it in person, and it was marked on the map -- but it looked pretty overgrown, and I had read that there's a little stream crossing, so we avoided it and skirted the soccer field again.

We walked next to the lakes for a bit.

And then crossed a little "land bridge" between the two of them. Isn't this beautiful?

But all too soon we were back at the Trail of the Cedars and back out to the car -- a very short "hike".

the very wet wildlife
Still, it's the first conscious "let's go out and walk on a trail" of the year, so I'm including it in my 2020 Vision project. They can't all be big treks!!!

Twin Ponds Trail

1.3 miles
43 feet elevation gain