Saturday, May 16, 2015

Whatever happened to the Big Apple?

G'day all!

We recently spent a week in New York City.  It's mighty convenient that DH's work is based there and they like him to visit because $400 a night for a hotel room is more than I want to pay!  Anyway, something I noticed is all the tourist tat no longer mentions the Big Apple.  It's all I heart NY.

These guys made me yummy Pad Thai.

So whatever happened to the Big Apple?  Did that advertising campaign got boring?

Lots of redwood water tanks!

Ornate buildings near the Flatiron

May the Fourth be with You!

I don't buy tourist tat because I don't like buying tourist tat these days.  Fridge magnets and occasionally a t-shirt that is irresistible are about as far as I go.

Anyway, I spent a lovely few days walking the streets of Manhattan between about 25th up to halfway through Central Park.  Over seven days (including a day where we spent six hours on a plane), I walked almost ten kilometres a day.  On a couple of days, I walked more then 20,000 steps.

Looking south on the Hudson River

Nifty murals seen from the High Line

Looking south from Sheep Meadow in Central Park

Red eared sliders begging for food, Central Park

Spring blooms

The Mall in early Spring livery

Sunset from the Air Train.

I admit that my feet were a bit tired after that but walking did feel very normal.  One of my hips started whinging too but with a careful gait change and some squats, I got on top of that!
School buses, tulips and skyscrapers

A quieter part of town

People always encourage me to go shopping in NYC and go to shows but you know what I like doing?

I like going to Central Park.  Now that I've discovered the Ramble, I go there and well ramble, and I've found the bird feeding area so I sit there and watch the birds and take pics of them.  I could do that for hours.

More Narnia

Cardinal bathing.  Exciting to me!
American Goldfinch.  Exciting to me!

I have done that for hours.  Ahem.

Yep, I go to the densest city in the United States and go to the park to find the wildest bit of it to sit and watch birds.

I did do a bit of shopping but nothing of any note.  I also moaned about how hot it was.  It was 28 C, people!  We've hardly gotten above 20 C in Seattle so far this year, and 28 C and a bit of humidity was too much!

Whilst we were on the east coast, we did a side trip down to DC to visit friends who live just outside DC.  We caught the train down, and that is an interesting trip in itself.  It was lovely to see them because it's been years, and lovely to see their girls (who are growing up, as kids are wont to do).  We got to see a bit of the area in which they live and...

Philadelphia from the train

Everything is bright green.  Except the lamp.
Makes me think of Narnia

Lake, fountain and moon!

I got to go to Maryland Sheep and Wool!  Yay!  (Thanks to a very kind Ravelry contact and her husband.)

I've wanted to get to MDSW for years and years and years.  Ever since I heard about it online through blogs.  I have to say it was worth the wait.  It's a smorgasbord of wonderful fibery stuff.

(And for those who are not in the know, it is not Mary land, it is merrillend all blurred together.)

I bought yarn at MDSW.  Duh!  And some lovely tops, one of which I've already spun up, the other is on the wheel at the moment.

I saw some interesting sheep.  I saw some interesting stuff and bought from new and well-established dyers.

My haul.  The front and centre yarn is already a sock
Don't you take your sheep for walks?

Some of the food stands are pretty fancy

Cool markings, bro!

I bought fleece.  This was an indulgence and naughty, given I've hardly touched the fleece I got nearly three years ago at OFFF in Oregon.  I got that fleece commercially washed and some of it came back greasy and a mess, and the rest is disarrayed and needs to be picked and carded, and I have neither picker nor a drum carder.  Actually, I don't think I've got hand cards here either.

I bought lovely fleece.  I spent part of yesterday washing some of the fleece so I can play with it.  It is lovely lovely stuff - CVM/Romeldale (a favourite since my time in Colorado when I first came across it), all bouncy and yummy.  I'll have to deal with the Corriedale fleece some other time.  Actually I have to deal with the rest of the CVM fleece too.

CVM/Romeldale fleece pre and post washing

Holly's fleece.  She's a CVM sheep

Luscious black Corriedale fleece

The day after I went to MDSW, we went to visit Great Falls on the Potomac River (latter is National parks link).  That was an interesting trip because of it
a) having cascades, white water and some actual waterfalls
b) being a place with a bit of history about it.

The falls on the Potomac got in the way of boat traffic, so the obvious thing to do in the late 1700s was build a canal around it!  George Washington was a major supporter of the canal.  It was on the Virginia side (the other side of the river is Maryland!).  It was doomed to fail as the Potomac is very seasonal and suffers highs that stopped boat traffic going upstream and lows that stopped all boat traffic, literally.

Looks smaller than it is.  Wibbly waterfall

Tie dye at Great Falls

All of the excitement

This canal once led to locks that went around
the waterfalls and rapids

If this looks like a lock, there's a reason for that

I can see why a lot of people go there - water and history - but alas swimming is strictly verboten above the falls.  It gets warm and a dip in the water would be grand but there's a little issue - people regularly get washed into the main part of the river or fall off the rocks in the gorge and get dashed to death in the cascades.

We also discovered that after a cold winter and manky April, we were lucky enough to see the start of summer in the DC area.  Yep, the weather was glorious on Saturday with enough breeze to temper the sun, on Sunday it started getting humid and when we hurried through the National Mall on Monday morning on our way to get our Amtrak train back to NYC, it was starting to get horrid!  DH was dripping sweat and even I was feeling sweaty.  Sorry, I was glowing.  A lot.

As close to the White House as I've ever been

Fishface!  Washington Monument in background

Truth in advertising.  The National Mall is not always pretty

Spring on the east coast of the US is apparently about two weeks long and involves the earliest Spring flowers and the start of the trees leafing out.  Then when enough trees have greened up, they pump so much moisture into the air that it goes humid.

We got to experience a brief moment of Spring and then the start of summer.  Ugh.  We were so glad to get back to Seattle, even if it means getting into the low 20s at best and a slow ramp up to summer.  I think I prefer five months of Spring than two weeks of it and five months of summer followed by three weeks of autumn, five months of winter, two weeks of mud season and two weeks of Spring...

I've got plenty more I want to say about the train trip but this is getting long with a gazillion photos...  Oh and I have to show off two shawls I've made recently, though I haven't blocked one yet.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dawn service

G'day all!

For many years now, I've been saying I will get up early and go to a dawn service on Anzac Day.

Well I finally did.

I'm only over 13,000 km from home (and that distance makes me feel a bit heartsick to be honest) and there was no eternal flame, no lighthorsemen or soldiers standing guard, but there was a bunch of Aussies and Kiwis (and their American families) and I think maybe a few Turks as well, and we stood in the pre-dawn light, listened to the Last Post, laid wreaths and flowers, listened to a short speech or two, a song sung on such occasions by Maoris (Maori men fought alongside their European brothers), and promised to remember the fallen and the returned.

It is one hundred years on 25th April this year since the storming of what came to be known as Anzac Cove along with other beach fronts on the Gallipoli (Gelibolu) Peninsula in what is now called Turkey.  Australian, New Zealand, English, French, Indians and even some Newfoundland troops attacked the Ottoman Empire with the idea of pushing through to Constantinople (now Istanbul) and controlling the passage of ships through to the Black Sea, allowing Russia sea access.  It was early in WWI and men from the colonies flocked to defend their motherland and her allies.

Like many Australians (and Kiwis), I had a relative at Gallipoli.  My Pop didn't storm the beaches and cliffs that day.  He enlisted later, on 22nd of June 1915 and sailed from Melbourne on the HMAT Makarini.  This man, who is not my Pop, enlisted on the same day - even the writing on the enlistment is the same - and sailed on the same transport ship, and I'm pretty sure Pop would've known him and probably did pretty much the same things as him.  I know Pop was at Mudros and something I've read or heard said his Gallipoli campaign was not long.

At the going down of the sun

But he was an ANZAC.

And he fought at the Somme and nearly died there.

And he came home, like so many others, a man broken certainly in body.  His lungs were scarred from being gassed, his face was broken from the almost lethal wound he took.  He was missing a kidney I think too.  He didn't talk about the war but often disappeared into his shed.

And in the morning

Pop died when I was nine.  I have few memories of him apart from him being tall and scary, with a shock of white curls on his head, a husky voice (either from being gassed or the wound that nearly killed him) and a face that didn't work properly.  I remember him bestowing sloppy, bristly kisses.  I remember his bright blue eyes pleading with me when he was in hospital, trapped in a body that had had a severe stroke, a stroke that robbed him of his voice and movement on one side and not long afterwards, his life.

It's not much to remember your grandfather by, but it is what I've got.  It might also explain my interest in working out where he went during the war and when he was there.

40% of the fit and able male Australian population aged 18 to 44 enlisted for duty in WWI.  40%.  60% of them became casualties - either dead or wounded.  Our Kiwi brothers suffered hardly any better - they had a 59% casualty rating.  If Australia made that same commitment to a war now as we did a hundred years ago, three hundred thousand men and women would die on the battlefield, and some three quarters of a million men and women would return wounded.  300,000 would die within several years of the war.   It is shocking to think about the impact this must have had on the population left behind, the fathers and brothers and sons lost to the nation.   (Link here.)

It's not appropriate to say "Happy Anzac Day."  There is nothing happy about Anzac Day, not the reason for the fighting, not the huge loss of life - not just Australians and New Zealanders and English and French and Indians and a handful of what now would be Canadians.  87,000 Turks lost their lives defending their shores.  Not the fact that we still send men and women into danger and bring them back so often broken in spirit and body.  Anzac Day is a commemoration not a celebration of war, of the horrors, of the damage.  But it is a day of pride too, pride in the accomplishments of our then two newly birthed nations, of the sacrifices made by so many in so often overwhelming odds.  It is a day that makes me sad to the point of tears, and I feel compelled to read as many stories about it as I can.

It is appropriate to say, "Lest we forget."

We will remember them.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Spring has sprung

G'day all!

I am a very bad blogger, but you know that already...

This early Spring has been wonderful.  Some things that have happened have been less wonderful - losing Leonard Nimoy and then Sir Terry and then Malcolm Fraser (ex-Prime Minister of Oz and someone who had stood up for his humanitarian principles for the last 40-odd years) and the Germanwings disaster...

Mm, gluten and dairy-free "pizza".  Why yes, there is
only half of it left.  The rest was in my belly, and
that second half soon joined the first...

Green trees!  A miracle!

But the flowers and the weather have provided nice little pep-me-ups along the way, even if we got to equinox and the weather got worse not better!  Still we need a bit of rain and a bit of gloom to remind us how glorious it is here.

I've been making a bit.  I've been working.  I've been slacking in the garden, then slaving in the garden.  It is starting to come together.

These showed up a day after I said that I still
had the dogwoods to look forward to...

Two weekends ago we went to the local African Violet society show and sale.  The sale was better than the show but never mind!  I'm just used to the insanity of the "Early Morn" African Violet group in my home city.  Their plants are just amazing - people who grow for show are a dedicated breed!  But we came home with some lovely little plants and lots of Streptocarpus varieties.  We now have even more plants in the house - the only room without a plant at the moment is the bathroom - I might move a couple of orchids back in there...  Even the laundry has plants in it!

These are in my yard!

Last weekend we went to the Spring grafting festival organised by the local tree fruit society.  We learned how to do a simple splice graft, where you cut the rootstock and the scion on an angle and mate them up, trying to keep as much cambium (the juicy vascular part under the bark) in contact as possible.  Then you wrap the graft up with tape, tightly, and wait to see if the graft takes.  We did a bunch of semi-dwarf apple trees with some interesting varieties of apple (okay, ones that I like cos DH was not expressing an opinion plus some I thought sounded good like an unnamed variety from a tree on Vashon Island).  We came home with six little apple trees and two quinces, total cost something like $16.  I have no idea how long it will take for us to see if the plants have taken or if they will even take but I keep dancing out to the front yard to check them.  (I have plans for them to become something like a Belgian Fence.)

Not in our yard but still pretty!

I have to admit I've been busy avoiding things too.  I'm not going to go into them on the blog, but I have to say it was more of an unpleasant surprise than I would like and now I have another set of regular tests that I have to undertake.  Yay me, I have to have breast cancer screening (that's happening at the end of the week), bowel cancer screening (every five years), melanoma screening (every year) and pancreatic cancer screening (every year, some time in earlyish May).  Plus I have to watch for "bowel habit changes" and stomach pains, and with me that happens every time the wind changes.  Oh joy oh bliss.

Yoshino cherry trees in bloom.

Love this street when the cherries are in bloom

It is a pity that my body looks reasonably good but is actually pretty screwed up genetically.  I keep thanking pitchforks and pointy ears that I never had kids because passing all this crud onto them would be horrible.  But for the nonce I am reasonably healthy and long may I stay that way (or better!).

Different Japanese ornamental cherries

And back to the Yoshino cherries.  Ahh....

It is interesting to see the things that trip me up.  Health issues are an obvious one.  People often say that I seem to have a very good attitude regarding cancer.

If a good attitude means ignoring it as much as possible, well yes, yes I do.  Not much I can do apart from try to look after myself and get regular screening.  It is the only way I can function.  If I start looking at Dr Google then I melt down into a quivering mess.  So I blithely ignore the internet on such subjects and keep on cruising on my own special plane.

Piper's Creek

Today DH got cranky with me because I "was not walking fast enough."  We were strolling through a fairly wild park and I keep stopping to take photos because the leaves are bursting out and it is becoming even greener (moss keeps things green here in winter even when the deciduous trees have lost their leaves), plus I cannot walk fast even now due to this weird voice/throat thing.  Turns out that "not fast enough" is one of my buttons and DH mashed it good and proper.  I offered him the car keys so that he could hurry back whilst I moseyed, but he refused them at first. then finally took them and ran off.

Mossy mosses

"Not fast enough", "not quick enough", "not big enough" tie into my role as baby sister.  I was never enough, always holding my family back because there's no way someone with a five year gap to the next sibling and a much bigger gap to their eldest siblings is ever going to keep up unless they are carried or otherwise transported.  Of course DH was the eldest and never had to deal with this version of "enough" (though he has his own bogles about "enough").  Anyway, it seems that not enough is still triggery for me.  Weird, huh, how early habits can carry through your life?

Green greenness.

It took me a while to get my composure back, though if you plonk me in the middle of nature, even a suburban park, I will regain it, possibly more quickly than in any other situation,  I kept plodding along, admiring the greenness and the little creek that I was following.

Salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis

By the time I reached the end of the trail and had the car in my sights, DH appeared from the other direction, bearing apple juice.  He apologised for being cranky with me and things were okay again.

Tonight we went to a friend's "hooray I quit my job and I'm going back to uni" party, and I went for another stroll, mostly because I needed to walk off two meat patties and a fair amount of pulled chicken.  They live near Green Lake and I've often wanted to walk around there in the late afternoon/early evening.

Green Lake at dusk

So that is a quick round up of the last few weeks.  I will soon have another quilt done and TWO knitting projects (both shawls, both need blocking).  But first I have to help DH move an absolute mountain of vegie patch mix/mulch we got for the back yard.  It turns out that 8 yards of the stuff is a LOT!  I had to go buy a wheelbarrow (which I'd been thinking of doing for ages anyway but this pressed the point!).