Monday, September 15, 2008

We have moved!

We would love to start sharing some patterns and recipes, and a few other bits and bobs with you, and have therefore moved to WordPress.

Here is our new URL:

Hope to see you over there (the first free pattern has already made it onto our ‘new’ blog)!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Fashion Show

The sunny weather in the morning made it possible to take good pictures of some knits that I have done a long time ago - way before Ravelry existed. Therefore I cannot remember the correct years in which in knitted them, but it must have been somewhere between 1996 and 2000.

Green Silk Cardigan (Seta from Lana Grossa)

G and I ran outside (in the middle of breakfast - obviously not trusting that the sun would last until we finished!) to take these. Probably to the delight of the entire street. We had some people passing by, watching with amusement, not understanding what was going on. And might I add it was still freezing in the sunshine and the light breeze didn't help to make me any warmer. Thankfully I got some hot coffee with the rest of my breakfast after we finished.

Golden Top, horrible pattern, but really cool once done, made as a concert top (looks great 'au naturel' with black trousers) with Lincraft Starry Night

Cable Top with Seta from Lana Grossa

Lana Grossa India

I have never tried this combination before, I made it as a concert top. I knitted it for a skirt I found on sale at Monsoon for a fraction of the original price (broken zipper - a nightmare to fix). I had no idea what to wear with it. It's difficult to combine because of the changing colour of the skirt. I told the lady who runs the yarn shop at home, when I went home for Christmas (obviously I had to have a stop in my old LYS) and she suggested this ribbon yarn. Amazing what you can find in your LYS!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Express Lane Socks and Saturday Roast

D - I finally managed to make a picture of the Express Lane Socks I knitted for M (lovely pattern! I just had to make the socks slightly shorter as I was knitting with leftovers from my previous project: Dream in Colour, Smooshy, Colourway: Beach Fog).

When I woke up at 7.30am this morning, the beautiful awareness trickled into my conscience, that it was SATURDAY! The day to turn over in bed and sleep or doze another hour or so... no squeezing into the tube (London Underground) or fighting your way through masses of city dwellers on their way to work, to make it to work just in time (as the London Underground train had to park in the tunnel once again and took 30 minutes for a supposed 10 minute journey...)

So I turned over in bed and enjoyed the sun that tentatively shone its way through the clouds and into my window. K could unfortunately not make it to our weekly mosaique meeting and rehearsal today, so M and I had a nice long breakfast, knitted a few rows and listned to Ella Fitzgerald (Ella Swings Lightly). Such a lovely chilled and cozy morning.

A little later, we got this ready (here it is just going into the oven):

Oh so yummy pork roast on a bed of roast potatoes, tomatoes and onions.... mmmmh...
A, who is studying in the UK for a year (or more..), came by for lunch and we had a lovely - and, lets face it, fattening - meal and nice chat. In a couple of weeks' time M and I will be staying with her parents in Salem, OR :-) I can hardly wait - Seattle, Portland, Salem, Bend, Cannon Beach, Crater Lake.... here we come!!

Until then I shall knit a little faster to be able to finish my gifts for our lovely OR hosts, and I might add a couple of items to my USA shopping wish list...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Say it in French

...I really wanted to say that to this house owner who has been getting work done on her property for months now. The same person who would only know me at official neighbourhood watch meetings and always overlooks me otherwise (as I 'only' rent and do not own the house I live in).
Like all builders, no matter in which country or from which nationality, hers come in the early morning to make a lot of noise (jackhammer was the favorite tool this week), then have an extensive break and do something around midday again. The time when the rest of the population will either still sleep or have a lunch break (should they work from home). The builders' van/lorry/skip will block the street for hours - making deliveries to other houses in the street nearly impossible.
This afternoon they added a new sound effect: a high pitched screech, not unlike what you hear at the dentist. To this you add the noise of the planes (thanks to Heathrow Terminal 5) which sometimes sound like they are flying through the attic, especially at 5.45am and 11pm (thankfully not every day). Well, you get the picture.
When I saw this doodle in another blog, it expressed what I felt this morning when I was so tired I nearly fell off the bed. This sleep deprivation then made me forget to eat lunch and bake Banana bread for one hour before realising that the temperature was far too low to make anything happen to the dough... time for the weekend and some sleep!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Oh, Pictures

What to do on another rainy day in London (apart from dreaming of the upcoming holiday.... just 11 days to go!!!!! Watch this space for Oregon travel pics)? Look at yarn and FOs and brag with past achievements :-)

Melon pattern scarf (Victorian Lace Today) - in Blood (yes, what a name for a coulourway) Kid Silk Haze...

And Beaudelaire Socks (Dream in Colour Smooshy)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I knit day

Ooh, what weather - London didn't try very hard to make this a nice sunny, welcoming day... rain and wind and more rain... a cheerful grey-in-grey.
Not daunted by the non-hospitable weather, M and I packed our little cotton socks (well, cotton hat in my case, as I am knitting gifts for D's little son who is expected in 3 months' time) and made our way to the I Knit London Day. Guest speaker was the Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl McPhee), but as we hadn't made up our minds early enough, we didn't buy a ticket for her special event. Sorry, Stephanie, we would have loved to hear you speak, daunting as the Lindley Hall might have been - I'm sure you did a great job and hope you had a fantastic time with all the British knitters who bought their tickets on time!!

Instead, we used the lull in market hall visitors and managed to make our way to the book stands. I sometimes wonder how very lovely knitters can transform into very scary people who run over you and use elbows to make it to the fronts of stands... hmm. There we are - focus on yummy yarns and goodies might be to blame here (at least I hope that there are no more sinister reasons...). Anyway, it was great to see the lovely Socktopus with busy helpers, and enjoy looking and squeezing my way through some beautiful (oh so forbidden) and scrumptious yarns.
And despite my very firm stash-buying-ban, one little skein of lace yarn somehow clung to my hands at The Loop stand, and made it into my bag (making me part with my pub lunch money... probably better spent on the lovely lace yarn... my re-heated Risotto at home was quite nice, thank you very much)

Back at home, slightly shivering, we made the kitchen nice and cosy, had coffee with our fellow mosaique member and pianits K, talking about warmth, reindeer candles, future recording projects, etc. I think I might pick up my cotton hat now and knit a few more rounds for D's baby while letting the day pass by in front of my eyes one more time. More iknit day pictures here....

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Under the spell of the 'L'...

There is a lot to be said for the equality of letters in the alphabet, but after M found this on YouTube, there is no question - I am decidedly a new fan of the 'L'. Thank you Sam Ramey

And - have I made you an 'L' fan?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Flower Power Elefant

Happy Monday morning!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Baby knitting & Sunshine

Yes! Summer in London (at least one day of it....)! At 25 degrees Celsius and with just a few fluffy clouds in the sky, M and I just had to go out and sit in the park.
Equipped with the left-overs of last night's pizza and some coffee, as well as our new picknick blanket (finally premiered on actual grass under a sunny sky), current knitting projects, finished baby knitting projects, and a camera, we settled down next to the Thames River and a bare chested Italian gentleman who was obviously catching up on all of last week's phone calls. Just to annoy him I didn't take a picture of him, especially when he started whistling different tunes and trying a few other interesting moves to catch our attention after spotting the camera....

But really - it was a very lovely and peaceful day, and my skin might even have made the transition from greenish white to eggshell off-white. Here are some of the FOs that have finally been caught by the black box:

Saartje's Baby Bootees (Cashsoft Baby DK, Rowan)

Stripy-Baby-Trousers (Organic Cotton, Blue Sky Alpacas)

Coffee&Cream Baby Trousers (Organic Cotton, Blue Sky Alpacas)


Friday, August 29, 2008

A lot of words

What words do we use most in our blogs.... an interesting question.This is dots&yarn laid out in a wordle: a graphic representation of all the words we use. I know, I write most of the entries lately - but G gets to read (and correct!) them before anyone else can see them. Since I have a dislike for stating the obvious at times or I get carried away for whatever reason and my mind is already in the new paragraph while I'm still writing the previous one. I wonder, though, if anyone of you would recognise us in those words...?

Unlike in German (where I have several favourite words like fürdahin which doesn't seem to translate) I wasn't aware which words I used most; apart from really which gets used in every language in the house - even in Portuguese thanks to a weird moment of watching parts of Shrek in Portuguese.

Some words seem to be quite prophetic like 'got sewing' which G definitely did do over the long weekend. We still need to put up the pictures of proof, but this will definitely be the topic for another entry - maybe tomorrow if we're lucky.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Paris for the day

Finally we did it! We went to Paris, just for the day so don't get too jealous here. It was a fantastic day, though. Right from the - very early - start to the - late - end of it. We managed to meet up with our good friend (and former house mate) H who had finished playing for a masterclass and stayed on for half a day to see us.

After the 4am start and journey on the Eurostar from London to Paris, our (second) start of the day was a breakfast at the riverbank of the Seine, then (after some walking around) lunch at my favourite restaurant - my family has been going to this place since 1978. We spent some time around Sacre Coeur which as you can see in the mosaic (below) involved some knitting and buying very cool materials for sewing (pictures to come soon). A coffee stop on the roof terrace of the Printemps gave us enough time to recover (see picture above - took some time to merge my 5 photos in Photoshop!) and a quick jump to the Champs Elysées finished our trip.
Sunday we were barely able to move! But G's tried out the sewing machine and finished her felted bag adding a lining and a shoulder strap. More sewing is planned for the weekend as well as my final sprint for the Olympic Sock - 35% still to knit - that should be manageable if no disaster strikes. G has finished hers, so she's allowed the sewing and taking pictures of the FOs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympic Weekend

And we're off! Friday night we watched the re-play of the opening ceremony on France2 (one needs to brush up one's languages from time to time) and cast on for our Olympic challenge. The really cool thing was that France2 managed to get the Chinese educational attaché (I think) from the Chinese Embassy in Paris - always referred to as "mon cher Wang" who explained the symbols and history of China (as represented in the ceremony) with great enthusiasm and depth. Words are (almost) wasted to describe this wonderful ceremony, one needed to see it: the drummers and the dancers and the 'run' at the top of the bird's nest to light the Olympic fire - amazing, miraculous, mind-blowing ideas carried out to perfection!

Watching this, G worked out an Olympic pattern which we immediately tried out - and about 1 hour later frogged the whole thing because it didn't work well with the character/colours of the wool. This obviously meant that we restarted the Sock almost from the point go on Saturday morning. (Disaster no1)

I'm leaving out the minor disasters of Saturday morning: upset stomachs of house mate and house guests as well as the return of a jacket for house guest by very pregnant friend of just mentioned house guest who then (as it turned out Sunday afternoon) went straight from us to the hospital to deliver the baby! (Talk about planning out your chores for the day...)

We had planned some knitting time during the day and made our way to Stash Yarns to visit the lovely D. Walking up towards the shop we got caught in the sales.... And then disaster no 2 hit us - rain or as they say here drizzle. This is the understatement of the century! It basically means you get soaked to the bones within minutes by a light, relentless rain. It might have helped to know the exact location of shops around Upper Richmond Road (which we didn't) and so we did get really soaked. (leaving out a lot of grumpy words) Buying clothes in the sales has its advantage: it meant that we could change into something dry when we finally made it into the shop. We had some enjoyable time knitting and chatting to the people in the shop before we made it home (via a hairdresser appointment) - in a dry spell.

Sunday disater no3 struck in the morning when I sliced my thumb on the side of a package of pain killers (I see irony), but an Elastoplast Spray Bandage (bought some time later) made it possible to knit again. Sunday, as can be seen in the picture taken above, had some very rainy spells and the most beautiful rainbow I've seen lately. I managed to make a panorama image in Photoshop from two picture I took while hanging out of the window. Should I take this as a positive sign that we'll make our Olympic challenge?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ravelympic Oath

"In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Ravelympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a knitting without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of knitting and the honour of our teams."

PS. Does coffee count as a drug?

For Tigerduck: the yarn - Cherry Tree Hill Peacock Supersock, the trainer and a woolly teammate

For Tournesol: the yarn (Handmaiden Cashar), the trainer and a woolly teammate)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gratitude Take II - Memories

During the last week, working like a dog, I thought it might be good to take a leaf out of the Yankediva's book and write some more about gratitude to keep my positive attitude up.
The plan was to say that I'm grateful for good friends who sacrifice their weekends to help me work/share their food/are an endless source of musical inspiration - until about 30 minutes ago. While being on Skype with G, I suddenly realised which day it'll be tomorrow:
08.08.08 - this would have been the 100th birthday of my first singing teacher Clemens Kaiser-Breme who shaped my life more than anyone else.

I was 15 when I went to see him for an audition; he was 80. I was a stubborn teenager, he a famous singing teacher. I came armed with 5 full opera scores which I could have sung from back to front, impersonating every character if asked to do so. I declared I hated Lieder, they were boring: therefore I wouldn't sing one for him. I really had nerve!

For 7 years, until the doctors forbade him to teach, I went to his house in Essen up to three times a week for lessons. He promised my parents he would take my musical education in hand and so he did.

Having been born in Dortmund in 1908 Kaiser-Breme was the second of three children. His father worked in the town administration and would only remember the birthdays of first and last child by counting it out from his second child - a source of great laughter in the family. In the 1920s Kaiser-Breme went to Berlin to study with Albert Fischer whom he lovingly called 'der dicke Fischer' (the chubby Fischer). He used to be invited for coffee to Max Friendlaender's house, where they would make music together for hours, and he saw Benjamino Gigli and Feodor Chaliapin on stage and was blown away by Chaliapin's Mephistophele in Gounod's Faust. He saw Richard Strauss rehearse and worked with lots of other famous musicians who are long dead now. He also could tell lots of stories about the world wars (both of them, including the occupation in-between).

After practicing on stage how to ask a women to marry him (as Mandryka in Strausses Opera Arabella) he dared to do so in real life - 'Carölchen' as he called her - she was eight years older then him, not usual in those times! She had already known him when he passed his A levels. I won't say childhood sweathearts, because both of them remained adamant that they were just friends at that time. Whenever they tried to separate something made them reconnect. She moved to Berlin shortly after him, working as a librarian if I remember correctly, and could only find a flat in his building. She was very worried about what people would say 'at home' about this fact. A couple of years later he decided to find out if he could live without her, suddenly not speaking to her for a year (without informing her he'd do that). At the end of this year she nearly ended up marrying his brother! (This might have been the trigger for him to finally pop the question....) She was still furious about this event when I got to know her.

I remember the note from his parents in his Arabella score congratulating him (finally) to his engagement. This was one of the few things that survived WWII, almost everything else he owned, including his house, burned down in one night. When we worked on Arabella, (arias or duets) he asked his wife up to the studio at the end of the lesson for a mini concert whenever we had done a good job. He was a brilliant pianist and always played himself for all his lessons.

Struck by a mysterious illness he nearly died in his mid thirties (I think). This left him paralyzed for some time and he had to re-discover his body. He never got the full use of his legs back and walking was agony. Since opera performance was now mostly out of the question for him, he started a career as lieder and oratorio singer, he did research about singing for the Max Plank Institute and was an outstanding teacher and coach to numerous world stars. For years he was Professor for singing at the Folkwang Hochschule.

What I'm most grateful for is the discipline I learned from him, not only for learning music, but for all areas of life. Even during the hottest summer he'd wear a suit for hisf lessons, politely asking if he was allowed to take off the jacket. In contrast, he always wore slippers, I suppose real shoes were too painful to wear. He drilled discipline into my body and brain and that was the best that could have happened to me. When I fell ill, it saved me from drowning in self-pity. He wasn't the cuddly nice person you'd like to have as a grandfather, he commanded the room. I remember that I absolutely hated having to call him, because he always appeared so very distant on the phone. He admitted it was a trick he acquired from his father to keep off the annoying callers, but I wished he would have warmed up a bit to the people he knew.

He died in 1997 shortly after his adored wife. He had always said that if she was gone he wouldn't want to live any more. She had great heart trouble at the end of her life and there was more than one moment when we thought she'd left us already. So, his funeral was actually ... happy, as far as funerals can be happy. The priest had been a guest at the Kaiser-Breme house for years and knew him very well, and we all felt Kaiser-Breme wasn't really gone.

While writing this so many memories and stories come back to me. He always refused to write his memoires, saying that people would find it too boring. I found it fascinating. In my lessons I transformed into a sponge soaking up everything he said. I don't own at picture of him (this one here I found on the internet). I was too shy to ask if I could take one. What I have are numerous tapes of my lessons, which I still listen to from time to time . G lately tracked down a recording of him on iTunes, but most of his recordings were destroyed in the Dresden inferno at the end of the war (he was convinced all of them were gone).

I wish I could say to him how grateful I am for everything I have learned from him, especially because some things only proved useful years later, but I hope - wherever he is - he knows it anyway.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dos and Don'ts

If I could tell you anything (and not sound bossy) I would tell you not to get sick with food poisoning on a weekend where it feels like it could be summer (this time is so short here) .

Certainly don't get sick on Sunday morning hereby ruining the rest of the weekend. Do make sure if you travel by taxi to the airport to meet your sister (in transit on her way back home from the US) that there is an escape (in this case a service area).

Do not
get so sick that you can't sleep, your feverish body tossing and turning all night, too hot one moment, too cold the next.

Do not
take a hot bath to ease the cramps telling your house mate to look after you. She might fall asleep and not realise you struggle to get out.

When you finally stumble into the kitchen you realise that your zeal for banning packaged food has left you with nothing that can be easily heated.

Go back to bed you aren't hungry anyway.

When you eventually manage to get back up and look outside, you realise the bugs have left the garden and the clematis is in full flower.

Do be glad about the Riverford delivery that left you with some vegetables and frozen meat. (and about the other housemate suffering from the same sickness: at least you know you're not alone) Equally, be glad about get-well-texts from lovely people, Stelline that have been waiting in your cupbord and crazy former housemates who still make you laugh.
And finally make litres of soup with the remaining meat and vegetables, crawl back to bed, listen to an audiobook, knit (if strengh allows it). Otherwise enjoy the flowers that your housemate got at work (where she got an amazing review with a big bunch of flowers)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Meaningful post?

Listening to the book pictured on the left last weekend I really - really wanted to write a meaningful blog post on Monday. Well, obviously that didn't work, it never seems to work if I set out to write meaningful things (imagine deep meaningful sigh).
So I deleted the pathetic attempt and am now writing again without trying to squeeze the meaning into the post: Julie-Julia is great. It's fun and entertaining and totally crazy. How can it not be, when someone sets out to cook all the 524 recipes of Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking in 365 days? (This includes the famous recipe of Homard à l'Américaine which has been avoided in my family ever since we knew it existed. There is even a family ban on it for restaurant orders.) In a time, where most of us didn't even know how to spell the word blog (in 2002 to be exact) Julia Powell blogged every day about her cooking experiences over the year and this is how the book came into being.
And if you are thinking "aha - a book deal... could that be what Tournesol is envisioning when she is trying to write a meaningful blog post", you're wrong. I thought about how and by what people are inspired and that we all need someone to inspire us - to do better, to try again, to try something new or something at all. And that we need to be reminded every now and then that we're not the only person in the world who feels sorry for him/herself.
The only flaw with Julie's book is in the publisher's summary: it doesn't say that the book is going to make you want to cook. You'll need to read/listen to it after you have stocked up your fridge from the market/supermarket and/or home delivery.
How I found out about the book? It's on a summer reading list of a French magazine. If they recommended a book about food it had to be good! And as I said it's also available as an audio book on audible. So what are you still doing here? Go over there and listen and be inspired!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Must have

"It's yellow, it's ugly, it doesn't go with anything, but it can save your life." Last month Karl Lagerfeld launched the French campaign for the safety vest.
If you want to avoid a penalty (which can be up to 120€) you'll need one of those when you drive through Belgium, Italy, Montenegro, Austria, Croatia, Slovakia and Spain during your summer holiday. It will be obligatory in France from October, so you'll be safe there. The same goes for cars with foreign number plates in Norway and Portugal. Although how you'll manage to drive to Portugal by car without driving through at least a part of Spain (where you'll need one) is not clear.
They even come with a EU norm (DIN EN 471) Anyone out there who wants to submit a EU normed safety vest knitting pattern....?

Friday, June 27, 2008

post 101!

I just realised that this is the 101st post on our blog! Yey! So much for the "I'll never be able to post anything on the blog" moments.
I love Fridays! I always have - even in school, when went to my cello lessons on a Friday afternoon and to my orchestra rehearsal in the evening. Although strictly speaking I don't have a 'real' Friday/weekend anymore since I left university. However, I try to stick to a Friday routine and because I love the mosaic tool so much you can see what I've done today or am still doing.
Initially I only wanted to share this with you. Sorry guys it's in German - even with a slight dialect, but I'm sure you'll get the idea about knitting on trains. You can even see a man knitting and to what the Europacup can inspire! Also note: important for knitting is a bottle of slow gin to keep the knitting needles well oiled. :-) Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Five Minutes?

Five minutes for a to-do list that could keep me running until Christmas, five minutes to realise I have too much to write about to fit it into one blog entry, five minutes that I spent to think if I wanted to write bullet points, but obviously decided against it, five minutes I spent looking out of the window enjoying the sunshine, five minutes to update the blogroll...

Talking about time, I found this lately and I'm seriously thinking of getting one. I severely dislike (borderline to hate) the mobile phone alarm clock in the morning. I just need to make sure I put some nice music on, not necessarily classical though.
Although classical music makes an interesting subject for conversation. Last Saturday while hunting a black dress for G, we sat on the tube (Underground) from Richmond to High Street Kensington and got to talking to a stranger. Yes I know, I usually never talk to strangers (at least not more than one or two sentences) and if it wouldn't have been for G the conversation wouldn't have been very long. But within the very short period of time that the tube ride took, we were chatting about music festivals in Germany, Buxtehude, and the Chinese music week on BBC3. It actually reminded me that I wanted to look into Buxtehude vocal pieces which I had totally forgotten about. Thank you stranger!

Also on the singing front: Our Waiting Room concert has been found 'outstanding' in the Music and Mind season review and we have been asked back for the London Opera Vocal team for this year's summer course. How much fun can you have, working with friends? KL and I have been a terrific Wotan in rehearsals years ago - time to revive this while working on the third act of 'Die Walküre'. If you find yourself in London on the first weekend of August, come along to watch us work in the National Opera Studio. As far as I can remember from previous years, you can listen to the final concerts on the Sunday or come to observe (on donation basis). If you're unsure if this is somthing you'd like to do, this is the time to find out! We'd love to see you there.

On the knitting front I nearly finished the second pair of baby pants for the 'twin set'. I would have finished it already if I had remembered to take the second colourway with me yesterday. It didn't seem to be the best day for knitting though: G took all her knitting and left the needles at home...

Five minutes it will take me to go downstairs and make myself some coffee. What a great start to the day!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Days of nothing

After the madness of the weekend (and some mean food related headache on Tuesday) I enjoy sitting here looking out of the window. It's sunny, there is a light breeze - all I need now is a coffee . Hmm this involves moving (kitchen is downstairs) and I'm quite comfortable here... maybe after I finish writing this entry. Our camera still refuses to cooperate and housemate J was so kind to offer hers. The trouble is: she has been doing double shifts for weeks and I haven't seen her for days. I heard her leaving early in this morning so I know she is still around... I have finished my baby pants for my sister's friend and I'm currently on the second one - she is having twins. So far you just have to take my word for it that they are really cute.

The only thing I have done today was this mosaic meme I had wanted to do ever since I saw it on the yarn tootin' blog.It was fun! I apologise for not giving the accurate source of my pictures but my computer is funny today and didn't let me save all the locations. I'm not about to tag anyone, but if you like to play along the rules are simple (and it's contagious here is G's mosaic)
A. Type your answer in flickr search; use only the first page to pick an image
B. Copy and past your picture URLs into fd's mosaique maker

The questions are:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Madness - and gratefulness

Is it ever going to be summer this year? This morning the sky was bright and blue and enthusiastically I was wearing a skirt to meet our friend HC for breakfast before she starts her estival activities in the UK this year coaching in Glyndebourne. G, HC and I used to share a house for a while and I really miss her and our crazy Monday morning conversations about the meaning of life. But coming back to the summer outfit, by the time we went home at about 1pm my legs had a nice blue-ish colour and for the rest of the day I abandoned the idea of summer clothes.

I'll leave the story with the 'cat Nazi' and the slight madness that followed to G for another post. In any case, instead of visiting the cat we went to Ikea last weekend and bought lots of stuff and an assortment of boxes and shelves to organise all our things: music, CDs, DVDs, books and - yarn!

With order re-established, I virtually didn't leave the room in days in order to finish our press pack for our Body&Voice - Voice unlimited Project! From about 20 hours of material (concerts, workshops etc) we created a short video about our ensemble - only 2 minutes long and not too bad for someone who's not a technician in the first place. Eventually we'll put it on our YouTube site, so you can see for yourselves.
I'm so proud of our Body&Voice Project. A project that unites singing and body works with a team of experienced singers and practitioners; oh, just go over to our Body&Voice website where G just put the English site in place.
I had this idea for years, but only last year I found a team of practitioners who believed in the project. We received the most amazing feedback in our workshops last year. In about a day our amateur singers (who generally only sung in the shower) not only learned a couple of opera choruses (some in two parts) but happily performed them at the end in a mini staged version - and last but not least had loads of fun.
As an interesting side effect, our practitioners loved the singing so much that they joined in the singing classes like it would be the most natural thing to do and one of the participants has now joined a choral society. We usually get a lot of comments from people who think they are 'not cool enough' or 'not good enough' to join a singing workshop. Excuse me, but if you love to sing then you are definitely cool and good enough to do it (I'm not saying you will become an instant professional).
Who knows - you might find that you're actually much cooler or better than you think you are - and let me tell you the surroundings of the abbey where we will be doing the course this September are spectacular. So grab your favourite partner and/or friend and go to Germany for a weekend. There is loads to discover!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Don't tell me you added butter, too?!

I often read "it was one of THOSE days"... well, it certainly was one of THOSE weeks. If at all possible, I was more tired this (Monday) morning than I had been on Friday night after a week of working over-time every day.
The working week ended with M and I making some Risotto on Friday night (we often cook together), both not being able to eat much of it, deciding that it must be tiredness. The Risotto lasted us until Sunday, when M had a look in the butter dish (to butter a toast), wondering out loud where all the butter had gone.... she had only put a small piece into the Risotto - wait "You put BUTTER INTO THE RISOTTO, TOO?!" Well, let me tell you it tasted lovely and lasted for three meals for both of us. :-)

It was a very nice weekend with a spinning meeting in J's garden on Saturday morning (I still don't spin but was knitting happily on another baby hat.... more about this in a later post and no, I'm not pregnant). But from the moment M and I returned home, we were glued to our computers editing away at a promo DVD for our vocal ensemble. Oh, the memories - apart from the understandable problems in listening to oneself perform (I should have done this differently, not the right breath control here, so-and-so messed up this bit), it was a journey into reminiscence...
Apart from being absolutely shattered from not having slept enough and having worked through most of Saturday and all of Sunday, I loved every minute of it! We really built up an ensemble out of nothing despite M's sometimes debilitating illness and my having to earn money in non-singing jobs to make ends meet. This weekend's journey to past concerts and projects really made me want to fight for our little tiny corner, making a difference in some people's lives by performing for them and enabling them to make music as well (any encouragement is more than welcome, especially as M has been rather poorly in the last few weeks!).
So up, up and beyond.....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

And it's our turn

Diane has tagged us for a bit of Meme. Well let's have it then.

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.
Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

1. Ten years ago

Tournesol: Ten years ago I took my first steps back into life after being struck by CFIDS 12 years ago (I didn't know it was CFIDS at that time tough), I went on holiday to Paris with my friend A (something we promised ourselves we would do if we ever recovered from our respective illnesses - and yes, it was a very dark winter night when we made the promise, and we tried to be up-beat by thinking we'd make it through this!), I was busy living my 'second life', started on the auditions/competitions circuit again, looked for a new singing teacher (only would find him a year later), made one CD recording of a Mozart Mass and worked as a singing teacher for a school choir.

Tigerduck: I had just moved to Tampa, FL working with a Christian ministry (helping churches locally, going into Juvenile Detention Centres working with the young people there, sending Polynesian dance teams all over the place, and many more things). I also went to Australia (near Brisbane) for 3 months - hmm lots of things come to mind, but the years already start to blur a bit. I was only 23 then!

2. Five things on today's "to do" list (in no particular order)

eat lunch
* doing some admin work for our singing ensemble
* have a look if I can fix the external hard drive
* do my laundry
* go over that list of music for three voices and see if I can track down the sheet music

*get up at 6.30am and don't fall asleep again
*find the right clothes to wear to work and don't curse too loudly when my hair does what it wants (clearly against my will and the higher powers of blow drier and hair straightener)
*stay calm at work and get as much done as quickly as possible while enjoying myself as well
*buy some yarn to knit baby garments (cotton and RYC CashSoftDK)
*watch House

3. Snacks I enjoy

Difficult, depending on the time of day chocolate (the sugar free version), carrot sticks with houmous, muesli bar (I recently discovered a sugar free version at home), and lately rice cakes with Amaranth and Apfelschmaus, salty black licorice (sugar free)

Tigerduck: Chocolate (sugar free = headache free!), crisps with guacamole, carrot sticks (!!) with Humous, cherry tomatoes, Lärabars (esp. lemon!), Salzstangen, salty black licorice (again of the sugar free variety - has to be)

4. Things I would do if I would be a billionaire

Tournesol: Buy flats in London and Paris (and probably somewhere else too but I can't think about it now), send my parents on that holiday they dream of, do the same for my sister, do a lot of charity with kids and music (and not be worried about being paid for a change), give to research, enjoy life without the pressure of money - wow that sounds good!

Tigerduck:Yes. Me too - although I don't really think my parents would actually enjoy going away all that much (they just got a dog in February) - but there is always time for that. There are so many fantastic things to do and to give to, projects that allow people to build up a living and have hope in their communities. The possibilities are endless.

5. Places I have lived

Tournesol: Really lived in (like in stayed for more than 3 month), Hamm (Westfalen), Dortmund, Münster, Paris and London

Tigerduck:Hamburg (Germany), a ship (while in Dakar - Senegal, Lome - Togo, St. Vincent - Caribbean, Jacksonville, FL, Wilminton, NC and Norfolk, Virginia - USA, France), Salem, OR (USA), Tampa, FL (USA), Budapest (Hungary), Rostov-on-Don (Russia), Klaipeda (Lithuania), Carbrook (near Brisbane, Australia), Big Island of Hawaii, London (UK).... hmm might be a few more - point is I have moved around a bit.

People I want to know more about
This is tricky.... Ali, Daisy, Rachel, Laurie, Eusebius,

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A little trip to Amsterdam

Two weeks of wonderful sunshine here in London, and then a trip with work colleagues to Amsterdam.... pouring rain!! However, it cleared towards the middle of the day, and it turned out to be a great time on a boat, going through the Amsterdam canals.

Although I have been to Amsterdam many times before, I had never had the opportunity to see some of the little hidden courtyards - originally mostly built out of charity by organisations or individuals - that can be found in the centre of the city. Here is a picture taken in such a courtyard.

It was a bit too late for shopping by the time we came off the boat, but I just had to take a picture of this cheese store.... Really makes me want to go back some time soon (sigh). Besides... there must be some nice little yarn and crafts stores just waiting to be explored.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy CFIDS/ME Day!

Today on Florence Nightingale's 188th birthday we celebrate the international CFIDS/ME Awareness Day, actually the whole month of May is dedicated to CFIDS/ME. The biggest event will be the 3rd international conference on the 23rd of May in London.
On this Awareness Day we should not forget those ones who aren't lucky enough to have supportive families and friends and those ones who passed away miserably like Sophia Mizra. If you are going to read about Sophia's story and medieval practice in the 20th century, you might need some time to re-adjust afterwards; her story is very touching.

The CDFIS Association of America Website with their campaign SPARKS is still the only one having started a media campaign and keeping a list of all interesting materials.
The Guardian commented on this month's event by publishing an article about what life with CFIDS feels like, which I only became aware of thanks to reading posts on the Ravelry forums - knitting helps!
A very good site is run by CFIDS-affected Regina Clos , but you'll need to know a bit of German. Since Germany is miles behind the USA and the UK, she took the time to translate lots of articles from English into German. It makes a huge difference to be able to read an article in your own language; also, many CFIDS/ME patients suffer from 'brain fog' which some times even makes reading in their native language difficult - never mind trying to read in a foreign language. Even the German Association for CFIDS referrs to her website as the one with the most up-do-date data base information. In order to keep her site alive she has finally agreed to put up a donation button. If you can spare a few Pounds/Dollars/Euros, give them to her so she can keep up this fantastic work.
Having CFIDS myself, I know how hard it is to keep yourself going despite the pain, the fatigue and all the countless other problems a chronic illness brings with itself, while not allowing yourself to wallow in self pity and slip into depression. To give you an example of how a constant lack of energy feels like, have a look at the spoon theory.
Having said all this, thinking about illness shouldn't make us depressive for the rest of the day - on the contrary, it should make us celebrate life in all its diversity! We cannot put our life on hold until we are all 'healthy' (and what is all healthy anyway?) there is so much to discover and what seems like small steps to one is a giant leap for another. So, for today, let's not go out and compete about who is the best but encourage our colleagues and friends to be who they are.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Weekend away going to Luebeck

We went to see my sister in Luebeck for her birthday and to celebrate her exams. My parents took us to a restaurant for dinner, I don't think I have eaten that much for weeks! During this weekend we found a most amazing shop and we made this: and this and thisWe drove to the beach and watched the ferries to Finland. It did look like they were walking over the beach...
and we spent lots of time talking, sitting on the balcony, watching a cat
And then we did some more talking, eating (white asparagus, I really miss this here in the UK!) and watching the sun set. A perfect weekend!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Going to have a cat!

The landlord has given his permission: we can have a cat! I'm soooo excited!! Some happy thoughts after spending one hour trying to fix my Thunderbird. But hands up who knew that the Logitech software is blocking Thunderbird updates? Huh? No idea why, but when I disabled it, the email gods smiled at me again. So now you all know and I can get back to knitting...

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy Birthday to .... Us!

I can't believe we almost missed it - dots&yarn is now one year old. It's been lovely blogging and sharing with all of you!! So, 5000 site visits on, we are still alive and kicking :-) Happy first birthday to us

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wonderwool and gifts

Wonderwool weekend, and G and I made it there! Not exactly knowing what to expect, I was nevertheless looking forward if not to a great show, then at least to a weekend away. It only took Hertz 30 minutes to go through our booking on Friday evening, and judging by the faces in the room that was very fast - which made us start the trip later than we anticipated, but despite that we had a lot of fun. Having spent all my time with arranging events for our vocal group, I really enjoyed every free minute - even driving on the motorway which I usually don't like that much. We had the most beautiful Bed and Breakfast. Just look at the view in the morning from the bed. We drove up to the Show grounds after breakfast on Saturday morning in the sunshine. Even the weather was perfect, there was really not much to complain about! In the hall it didn't take us long to meet with lots of lovely people. Have a look over there to check out the pictures on their blogs. As our camera wasn't cooperative during the weekend all our pictures were taken with our mobile phones. Our Ravelry Badges (very quickly printed out on Friday morning) were a great tool to talk to strangers. I managed to get my Mum's and sister's birthday presents this week. G finally got her wish and tried out the giant knitting needles, and continental knitting is not an adventage here!
After a nice pub dinner we drove back home (some more late night driving). The past two days were spent very close to the phone, as my sister had her last exams in medical school and I'm proud to say she did brilliantly and passed everything yesterday evening. I'm still working on her graduation present (actually we are working on it as it is a co-production) I'm sorry to be so enigmatic, but my sister tends to check out the blog at odd times, so I can't say more. I'm flying to Germany on Saturday morning (this time some very, very early getting up) to see her. Initially I wanted to pick her up after her last exam (as it is tradition in Germany), but I couldn't leave earlier. Well, Saturday will do nicely, too, and I'll even get a part of the birthday cake then.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring cleaning

Spring cleaning does help, not only to get rid off dust and clutter, but also to find lost things! One of the lost items was the camera....
Our Easter Egg project

The garden wakes up. My hosta shows definite signs of spring too.

I love Fridays, especially when we get our fruit and veggie delivery. I don't have to carry them, they taste much better than from the supermarket - and (equally important) they're organic.

The finished Irish Hiking Scarf with the wool from the Knitter's Coffee Swap 3. I finished it some time ago, but there was no camera to take a picture of proof.

In case you're wondering what I'm doing right now... this is the second sock of the second pair of Globe Trotter Socks for my Dad (I'm suffering at bit from second sock syndrome) and I'm listening to Jonathan Stroud's The Amulet of Samarkand. Acctually I'm cheating and listening to it in German, but it's fantastically read by Martin Semmelrogge. So please excuse me I have to listen some more.