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Yes, I’m actually back – again.  I’m still knitting and I still have cats (more on that later), I still travel more than I’d like, but have just not made time for the blog in a long time.

One of my new interests actually stems from some of the work travel I’ve done in the last few years.  Four years ago, I had (oh, the horror, I was forced to do this!!!)  to go to Japan for a meeting on one of my projects.  I really enjoyed it, and felt very welcomed by people in Japan even though we had few words in common and even though I was obviously “not from around here”.  My last day in Tokyo, I wore a sweater I had knitted, and went to Rokugien Park to see the fall color and sit in the sunshine and knit a bit.  I ended up sharing a park bench with some ladies of a certain age, who had no English to go with my lack of Japanese, but we still admired each other’s sweaters and exchanged smiles.  So – I decided to learn Japanese!  I’ve now been studying it with a teacher for two years, although “study” means a 90-minute lesson each week and not really doing my homework until a few hours before my lesson.  I start the intermediate text book soon, though, and I’m hoping I can improve my study habits with the new book.  I’m also going to be posting the odd blog entry in Japanese, just to practice my use of the language.

Other major travel I’ve done has been a trip to China three years ago for the same project, and another trip to Japan two years ago again for the same project.

Next year is a big birthday for me, and I’m buying myself a tourism trip to Japan.  At the moment, I’m thinking about the spring during cherry blossom time, but I’m not sure that’s going to work because I’m going to be in the US for two weeks in March to attend a congress and a departmental meeting, and I’m not sure I can then take two weeks the following month to go to Japan!  But we’ll see.

Knitting – I’m still knitting.  I made the mistake of taking Princess off the needles several years ago to spread her out for someone who wanted to see her, and I haven’t touched her since.  One day…  Other than that, I’ve been doing a lot of knitting!  Not really very many shawls, but lots and lots of sweaters, most of which actually fit.

Cats – three and a half years ago, my little calico girl was diagnosed with advanced kidney disease, and started on blood pressure meds and special diet.  In feline kidney disease, the kidneys lose their ability to hold water back, so the cats just lose water like mad.  Blood pressure meds reduce the load on the kidneys and extend their lifespan “a little bit”.  I figured I would lose her first, but she’s still going strong!  Unfortunately, in March 2016 her big fluffy brother developed a carcinoma under his tongue.  Cortisol kept it from growing too fast, although it was growing, but in July 2016 it just got to be too much and I had to say goodbye.  In October, I adopted an 8-month old tiger boy who VERY rapidly made himself at home!   Here he is, about 48 hours after moving in.

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Sophie had settled on my lap to “help” me knit, and he decided that he wanted to help too!  Sophie didn’t stay on my lap for very long after he did this, for some strange reason…

So that’s me.  Anybody still out there?  🙂

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I’m ba-ack

So you may remember (probably not! 🙂 ) that I was scheduled to fly DUS-ORD-PHL on Monday 21 Dec, then PHL-small town on Tuesday? Well, believe it or not, that actually happened! Flight to ORD left a bit late, actually turned out to be the same aircraft I was supposed to take Sunday on DUS-EWR, so of course it was covered in snow and ice. The de-icing solution they were using on the plane was orange, so it felt like we were sitting inside an orange slushy for a while; there were probably two inches of snow and ice on for example the wings and engines that all had to come off.

Got to the PHL airport Hilton (my brand of choice) at about 11 at night, only to find that the hotel restaurant had closed at 10, and “room service” consisted of sandwiches from the bar. Ha ha. Went down to the desk, where they had a flyer from Domino’s Pizza, handed the information to all the other starving guests I met (there were a lot of us who were very unhappy with the PHL Hilton that night), and called Domino’s. Man, does American pizza hit the spot sometimes!

Coming back was nowhere near the drama that getting to the US had been. Shall I just leave it at that? Got to take my knitting on the plane, didn’t have any major delays, I’m a happy bunny. And oh, the civilized niceties of traveling “at the front of the bus” as I call it! Arrive in Frankfurt, clear immigration, and you’re automaticlly dumped out into the land-side terminal so have to clear security again. But… Lufthansa has put in an “arrivals lounge” for all their business-class guests arriving from overseas. With SHOWERS!!! I rarely carry liquids or gels in my carry-on because it’s just not worth the hassle, but this time I did. The only thing I really needed to have with me was toothpaste, though, as each separate little bathroom-shower room has huge dispensers of L’Occitane shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, and hand soap. My favorite brand!

Progress on Princess continues, although slowly. I am now done with pattern row 90, knitting row 100, so I am at 14.58% completion (I think I can go into Ravelry tonight and bump it up to 15%, don’t you?).

How’s your knitting?

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Trying it again

Remember yesterday I was supposed to fly Dusseldorf – Newark – Philadelphia? Yeah, well… it snowed. All day. They finally cancelled our flight at 5 pm when the crew ran out of legal work time, and sent us all of to hotels or back home, saying “we’ll rebook you and call you when we have a new itinerary.”

So today I’m flying Dusseldorf – Chicago – Philadelphia.

Anyone want to place any bets???

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Who woulda thunk it, eh? But what else is one to do while trapped at an airport, but go and whinge to the blog?

Christmas vacation started out with such promise… flights Nice to Frankfurt to Philadelphia, overnight at Philadelphia, then fly to the town closest to my parents. Ha ha ha. (more…)

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Not dead yet…

But you are forgiven if you’ve wondered, lately!

No, I’ve not quit knitting either. I’m suffering from a combination of a lack of interest in Princess (bad news, that!), an upsurge of interest in something else I’m working on and NO, I’m not going to show you yet, and now feeling like I don’t have time to do anything, let alone knit. Which is silly, I do have plenty of time, I just don’t do much of it. (more…)

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Just a quick note

No, I haven’t forgotten my blog! I’ve been busy, and sad to say I set Princess aside for a bit. Something about hitting the milestone of finishing a page of the chart acted as a brake to forward progress. Well, I’ve still got time to get it done.

And, I’m off to Germany today, including a 3-hour layover in Zurich airport. So that will give me some good knitting time.

Hope your knitting is going well!

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Princess first: I did a whole half a row last night, oh boy! It could, of course, have been the glass of red wine that sapped my motivation and will to knit, but all I know is that I reached that midpoint and just didn’t want to be knitting ANY MORE. Maybe it was the large purring lump on my lap, instead? I’m on the verge of finishing the first chart of the border (am currently knitting row 60, and the chart ends with row 62), and am currently 5 days behind. You would think that those two things between them would drive me onward, but no.

Charl, my fat boycat, has remembered with the approach of cooler weather, that cuddling on mama’s lap is a Very Good Thing, and is taking every chance he gets to do exactly that. And cuddling up to me at night, as well. It’s not easy to roll over when there’s a 15-pound cat snuggled right up against you, you know? Sophie, his sister, takes funny spells. When I got them back from the boarding kennel, she wouldn’t have much to do with me. Then she spent a week cuddling any time I stood still, and now she’s back being aloof again. Charl and I sit in the living room and knit in the evenings, Sophie sits in the kitchen on a chair. Every now and then she’ll “ping” to see where her brother and I are, but when I answer her she shuts up and goes back to sleep.

I went to the grocery store near the office the other day to get components of breakfast, and found myself standing in front of the dairy case muttering in frustration. Because I like my sleep, I eat breakfast at the office instead of at home, and for me breakfast is a glop of plain unflavored yogurt with cereal stirred in. Cheap on the Weightwatchers points, and it holds me pretty well until lunch. Over here, yogurt comes ONLY in individual-serving containers. In the US it might come in quart-sized (liter-sized) containers or so, but not here in southern France. Not much yogurt is sold unflavored at all, and I knew that going in. One has a choice of flavored, of sweetened unflavored with fruit at the bottom, of flavored with fruit mixed in, etc etc etc. For a good picture of a yogurt case, go look at David Lebovitz’ blog.

But plain yogurt? On this day, at this store, I found myself repeatedly reaching for what *looked* like a plain yogurt 4-pack, only to draw my hand away when I discovered it was actually fromage blanc. Fromage blanc is supposed to be a “cousin” to yogurt, but at least to me it’s only a distant cousin. The only fromage blanc I’ve ever had has been incredibly tart, much firmer than yogurt (only slightly softer than cream cheese, while in Europe yogurt tends to be quite soft), and just not the same. After stomping up and down the aisle, I found myself saying “I only want a little bit of butter for my bread!” Those of you who have children probably know the poem… I remember having it read to me, and then reading it myself later, when I was very young ;). Where does it come from? Why, from The King’s Breakfast, by AA Milne and published in When We Were Very Young. The full text of the poem is at Off At A Tangent, who has an interesting blog to read!

On a better note… shortly after getting frustrated by not finding my plain yogurt, I did manage to find it, and snaffled up one of the 4 4-packs they had. A noticeable hole among the serried ranks of fruited, flavored, sweetened, and even drinkable yogurts they had. Perhaps the fact that the unflavored plain type is drawn down in stock while shelves are full of all the other stuff should be a sign? But there we go, frustration eased for the moment!

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