Friday, June 30, 2006
Cyber Bullies and Others
What are cyber bullies? well, these are the people who leave nasty comments on other people's blogs, also the people who develop virusses, who steal personal information, who send pornographic emails to you and your colleagues from your own email address, who hack into the family photo album and replace the snapshots with unspeakable images.... the list is endless because every day they think of something new and horrible to do. Such energy must go into this, why can't they direct it instead, if not to something actively constructive, at least to something harmless?

I'm thinking about cyber bullies (not that they deserve thinking about) because of the blog of Vero which closed after a horrid comment was left there by some inadequate individual with nothing better to do than wound someone who has given so much pleasure and inspiration to so many of us stitchers. Other people have also experienced incidents lately, not specifically with nasty comments, but just with things that are really inappropriate.

The internet is a public space, for sure, and maybe we have to expect that things won't be the same as in our private worlds, but it's like any public space, there are certain standards and levels of decency that need to be preserved. The cyber bullies are taking advantage of the fact that we can't see their faces to behave in ways that they mightn't be able to get away with in the real world.

Not that there aren't bullies in the real world - I should know, I was married to one and I work for one now (yes, he's still hanging around, rumour hath it that we won't get rid of him until 17th July). But at least you can see them, and there are ways to deal with them, unpleasant though they are.

In general I think there is a lack of standards in public politeness today, although in most cases it falls short of bullying - you know the sort of thing, the woman who cuts in front of you in the supermarket queue and says, "you don't mind, do you, I'm in a hurry" or the man who stands at the airline counter demanding to be upgraded because he's so important. They're just rude and painful people who haven't been brought up to share or to play nicely.

You read that bullies are people who lack self-esteem - I have to differ on that one, or maybe it is just the bullies I have known. Both my ex-husband and D suffer from an inappropriately high level of self-esteem, and I think are probably narcissistic to boot.

And what is our little D doing today? He is sitting in his office sulking, with his bald head gleaming in the sunlight......... he's making quite a lot of noise, with his worry beads (his rattle, we say now) and his extra-noisy printer, but that's typical. It's rather a dull day, there is only Marlon and me here so far, the little boys are swimming, I hope, they were still here when I left at 8:30 pm last night. I have put my Ipod Nano on, and am listening to Gitte Hænning, while I write and run batch jobs.

And I am leaving latest 1:30pm, to go to Jacques Dessange, for facial and hair.........
posted by Ally at 9:15 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Hot Hot Hot
The weather is shockingly hot, and for once quite humid.......... so no-one is very happy. I left early last night and got home, then immediately got a phone call from David about configuration problems. I've just spent an hour sorting this out this morning, also dealing with Marlon's configuration problems. Which are so minor, and he will not deal with them himself. Everything that he has mentioned to me could be sorted out by one of the street kittens, it's so elementary, it doesn't need me to investigate!

By the way, the latest crop of street kittens were out to play last night, for the first time, I think. They are only about 6 inches long, and do not have much sense yet. I removed a small grey and white one from the middle of the road where it was sitting washing itself, and gave it a lecture about how very unwise this was. Small kittens are so wonderful, they bounce out onto the pavement with this "Hello world! C'est moi!" attitude, nothing frightens them. They come readymade with already convincing "goodness, humans are bizarre!" looks, which they will only perfect as they get older.

Last night I did finish the tsimbi on Lefkaritika 1, so I have only the ten remaining openwork squares to go on that. It is looking good! Then I can concentrate on Lefkaritika 2, which is going to take ages, there is nearly two meters of tsimbi, I would think. My taxi driver told me that one of her customers bought a tablecloth with matching napkins in Lefkara and it cost £600 - all I can say is, I can see exactly why.

Re getting around in Cyprus, taking a taxi is really the only way - I don't drive myself at all, the world does not need me on the road, as I can neither see properly nor concentrate properly. Nor do I want to get into this whole car culture, it's just too boring. There are a few busses, I went on a bus to Limassol, it was me plus a bus full of migrant workers and backpackers. But to places like Lefkara you can't take a bus, there are local ones, but they would leave Lefkara for Larnaca at 6am and go back at 2pm, or something like that, it's all geared to people going to market or to school. So people like me rely on a taxi driver to get around, a trip around town, to collect mail from the post office, for example, costs £5, and a trip to a village can be £15 or £25, depending on how far it is.

Nicky will be back next week, I will be very happy to see him, I wonder if he has missed me at all.......... I am worried though about what Leo is going to say to him. It is true there is one thing that Nicky did kind of stuff up, but like everyone, he is running on empty. I truly need my four weeks holiday, and I think we are all in the same boat.
posted by Ally at 2:43 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Wednesday AM
Last night I was so tired when I got home - I did do tsimbi however, as I am determined to finish that this week. Now I have only half the long side to do! I went to bed slightly earlier - 12:15 instead of 12:30 - but the effect of this was negligible, as I had to get up shortly afterwards, I was feeling nauseated. Did not throw up, fortunately, but a total wreck this morning. The last time I felt as bad as this and threw up was when I was working in the US in 2000, and I threw up for two days, then had to catch a plane to Denmark for Christmas. I spent most of Christmas and New Year lying on my bed in the Hotel Admiral and it was a really cheap trip because I didn't eat anything for a week.

David is also wrecked, he fell asleep in a meeting we just had about training, Marlon's voice is soporific. Marlon is off testing now, clearly he is a lot better at training. I don't know how either David or I are going to keep on going for the rest of the week, I am at breaking point and so is he. I can't believe the mess this project is in, corners have been cut and everything has been skimped everywhere, because of D's obsession with finishing early and getting out of Cyprus. Not to mention his total ignorance of how to run a project - yesterday I discovered all the software builds had not been applied to our onsite test environment, but they had been applied to the client's test environment and to the configuration master, even though they have never been tested onsite. Go figure.

The training will start next week, and go for two weeks......... I have been invited to do a session on advanced processing of customer connections. It's not until the end, so I have time to prepare and time to finish my current testing.

Goodness, I am looking forward to Lefkara on Saturday, I keep on saying that, but it is like being in another world there. And I am entirely sure it will be a D-free zone, when we went on our work excursion to Lefkara in December, he was very scornful about the whole thing. To him any form of handcraft is a waste of time, I can remember his reaction when someone at work asked me if I knew what a blog was.

"Of course", I replied innocently, "a friend of mine is having a great success with a knitting blog". "Kneeeting, kneeeeting", he screamed, "stupid women should not be allowed to use serious facilities for such rubbish........"

So it's a fair bet he would go berko if he ever saw this one!

Oh my goodness, I've just been eavesdropping on Leo on the phone with the big boss, he#s talking about not having me on the project from the end of July. Well, I expected that, I'm going to be buried in the suburbs of Paris or something like that. But I also heard him talking about not having Nicky from the end of July or maybe even the end of June. Of course, Nicky is a contractor, so they can do this, but even so. I would be sad not to have Nicky here, and I have been assuming that they would keep him because of the fact that he is the only one who speaks Greek.
posted by Ally at 9:50 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I did a lot of tsimbi last night! Here is the corner of Lefkaritika 1, where I finished the third side (short) and turned into the fourth side (long) last night. You can see how the piece is pinned and how the two threads used to add bulk to the buttonhole edging are also stretched out and held with a pin:

And a close up of the corner, I hope it gives a better idea of the tsimbi:

Here is the piece pinned onto the padded board, I guess this is about 35 x 25 centimeters, although I have seen them smaller than this:

And a close up of the edge where it is rolled up and pinned to the board to keep it out of the way (don't want it trailing in the dust, as you sit outside your house in Lefkara!):

And the good news is I am going to Lefkara on Saturday, our taxi driver will take me in the morning and bring me back in the afternoon. I am really looking forward to this! I will try and take lots of photos and post them, so everyone can see what Lefkara is like. I don't intend to buy any more embroideries, although you never know. It would be nice to get some linen and coton perle if they have this, there must be a shop somewhere in Lefkara that sells the raw materials.

I did stay up until 12:30 last night doing tsimbi, which wasn't really a good idea - when I got to bed, I was so enervated that I couldn't sleep, and of course I had to get up at 7:30 am, so I am quite tired now. David also says he couldn't sleep last night. I think the simple fact is that both of us are overdoing it madly at work and not getting enough rest and relaxation. He's talking about taking some vacation and bringing the family over for a week to see Cyprus. Hope he brings the dog, she's cute and I adored her when I went to Israel for the weekend last year.

All the clients have disappeared to some meeting, D is in his office glowering (he has shaved his head completely and looks like a miniature and bad tempered Yul Brynner, deeply unattractive), Marlon appears to be asleep, Leo is making humph noises, Alec, David and I are working hard (I am running batch jobs and doing this in the gaps). So far no-one has thought of calling Nicky in Chicago! I am missing him quite a lot actually.

posted by Ally at 8:50 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, June 26, 2006
Later - 8pm
Oh, I'm not going to stay past 21:00, I don't think I can really...

I am now drowning in errors and configuration anomalies, I have raised several problems today, and likely both the people in the US and in Singapore think I am a horrid pest. But we must solve them for our client.

I was sad today to see that I blog I read quite often, of a French stitcher, has closed because someone has made a nasty comment on it, accusing her of egoism. Goodness, I don't think this is really necessary, and of course the person who did it was one of these charming little souls who don't leave any identity. I feel so sad for this lady, as she made so much effort with her blog, and there were always such beautiful photos, it was very professional indeed. If only the people who have so much spare time to denigrate the efforts of others would use it more constructively!

Anyone who does have any spare time can come and help me with testing :)
posted by Ally at 8:09 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Another Week Begins
And I am sure it will be as "interesting" as last week........... I just got "test results" from Marlon, mostly it was that configuration did not exist! He's also bypassed errors by putting in fake Characteristic Types, Units of Measure and Times of Use amongst other things, and configured monthly meters on the bimonthly meter table, this is only going to lead to disaster. Naturally he's now stopped testing while these "problems" are sorted out.........

I can see that not everyone thinks Meter Read Validation is a riveting subject ("get a life!" David always says to me), but surely he has some professional pride? Maybe he just doesn't understand how the whole thing works? I don't know, all I know is that I've got to do all the testing myself!

Now, after that little fit of rage, I will tell that I started doing Lefkaritika again last night, I started on the third side of tsimbi on Lefkaritika 1, the finikoto piece. I want to try and finish this tsimbi this week, that will only leave the openwork motifs. I suppose now that I've said that, there will be an avalanche of work and I will not be able to do a thing. I hope this is not the case, because I'd also like to finish the border on the 2006 Collectors Heart. By the way, the button to sew on that is so cute, I am looking forward to this step.

Poor, poor Nicky, what a holiday he is having! They were on the phone to him at 4am Chicago time! I don't know all the details, but it rattled David so much that he spilled his coffee everywhere at lunch and shouted a very rude word.

I would like to go home and do my Lefkaritika right now, goodness I am looking forward to going to Lefkara on Saturday.
posted by Ally at 11:39 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, June 25, 2006
Spa Pedicure
This is the second go at this post, my whole system just suddenly shut down and the last one got eaten - it is too hot for this! I suspect there is a nasty virus going around, so I am now updating my anti-virus software. The client told us they had a virus on the server, which worried me, but they seemd quite sanguine about this, I hope they are taking steps to get rid of it.

I've just come back from having a spa pedicure and my eyebrows shaped at Jacques Dessange, which is one of the few things you can do in Nicosia on a Sunday morning. I always like going there, even though they never get my name right and I am resigned to being called anything from Antigone to Stefania! I have also made an appointment for 2pm Friday, so I will have to leave early, I don't care what D thinks about this (if he is still in the equation, we very much hope he won't be). Leo won't mind, he's OK so long as I do the work, and boy am I doing the work.

Had a very lazy day yesterday, mostly at home in the airconditioning, as it was - and is - very hot indeed. Went out to drycleaners, Debenhams, Accessorize and L'Occitane, nearly dead by 11am, so went home. I slept for four hours in the afternoon, then got up and did 2006 Collector's Hear, here is a little progress picture:

Have just started on the border, which is Lancaster Read with spots of Straw Bonnet, like the second "stratum" of the heart itself. Please admire the 2006, as I had to pull it out twice, I kept on getting it in the wrong place!

This was probably because I was watching football - nothing else on tv, and I had the chance to see Argentina eliminate D's team! My heroes, the Argentinians! I expect we will see a sour little face tomorrow, and there will be much whirling of the worry beads.

I plan to have an equally inactive day today, am only here for a little while.... just to see if there was any vital email that I missed through sloping off at 3pm on Friday. I've also emailed our receptionist in Paris to change my flight back to the end of July. I was supposed to go back for a few days in the first week of July, but it's hot, the flights are crowded and it just makes me so tired. It's better if I leave it until the end of the month, when I can take all my stuff back with me. There are also a few financial advantages - I won't have to pay 500€ for another business class supplement, and I will get 26 days of per diem for July. This is good, because, if I go to a project in Paris after the summer, I won't be getting any more per diem for a long time!
posted by Ally at 12:29 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, June 23, 2006
More Questions
Have you ever participated in a SAL on one of the BB's or with people in RL? How did it go? If no, why not? and would you ever consider do so?

No, I haven't, I can't really keep up with that sort of thing......... I don't have a lot of time and am not a fast stitcher, so I would rapidly fall behind. It's something I might do in later years, when I am not working like this - at least I hope I won't be, you never know with the lifting of the retirement age!

What do you think of Chatelaine designs? have you ever stitched one or do you want to? What do you like/dislike about them? And finally how do you feel about projects that cost over $150 in supplies?

Some Chatelaine designs are OK, I quite like that Japanese box, for one, but most of them don't do much for me. I think they are rather like Teresa Wentzler designs, and I am not especially keen on them either. If I did do one, the Japanese box would be a possibility. I don't mind the cost really, or wouldn't for something I was fond of, but I don't like this whole thing of you have to get the pattern through a yahoo group for some of them, its way too much hassle.

What types of stitching and design styles appeal to you most? What types and styles don't appeal?

I am a total sucker for counted whitework, such as hardanger, hedebo and the current Lefkaritika, and will spend hours and euros pursuing this. Of the regular designers, I like Indigo Rose and Drawn Thread very much, also Emie Bishop, I like stuff with specialty stitches. I'm interested in things with a historical basis, so other designers like Barrick Samplers appeal very much (I saw "Withering Tulips" yesterday on one site, I love that). I'm not very keen on things that are for Christmas or other "special occasions", especially American ones like Halloween. But I do like designers like Lizzie Kate and Heart in Hand who have nice things in GAST or WDW, with sayings that mean something to me, either on a frivolous or a deeper level.

You will have gathered from this that I have given up on work temporarily, I have a little headache, D has been either in his office screaming into the phone or out of his office screaming at one of us for most of the morning. I think he was screaming at Nicky for part of the time, which is unfair, as it was 3am in Chicago, for one thing. He also sent email in which he mis-spelled both "Nicky" and "Rosetta", which I think is just pig-ignorant after working with them both for a year.

I intend to spend the weekend recovering from the horrors of this week.......... I am hoping that I can find the folk museum open tomorrow, it is rumoured to have an excellent collection of Lefkaritika, but as it opens very rarely and not at the times on its noticeboard, it is very difficult to get to see this. I'm also going to go and buy a huge quantity of coton perle no 8, for future Lefkaritika and so on.
posted by Ally at 1:31 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
In a major way, I have really had this week up to here.....

David and Nicky are having a fight, by email and with considerable time differences, as David is in Israel and Nicky is in Chicago. It is about something where there seems to have been a major misunderstanding, and neither will back down, so I expect they will have to kill each other or something. One of those male things.

Marlon is a useless twit, and is driving me mad. So far he is the only other one here today, given that Nicky is in Chicago and the Israelis are in Israel. D has not fronted, nor have the little boys from Singapore (they work from about 10am to 10pm, their hotel swimming pool is only open from 8am to 6pm, so I think they do gym and swimming before work rather than after).

I went home at 7pm yesterday which was the earliest for several weeks. I can't believe how tired I am at this stage of the project, when we need all our energy to get through the acceptance testing. There's no doubt why we are in such a bad situation now, it is D who has pushed us all along to do things faster than is necessary or wise, because he had this mad idea that we were going to finish the project several months early so that he could go on to something bigger or better. Of course, he was new to the company, and had no experience in our software or methodology, or in the untilities industry, and we don't believe he has ever been a project director before, although the bosses keep on trying to say that he has. It's definitely been the worst managed project that I have ever been on. Leo is a vast improvement on D, but even he has his work cut out for him, with the bad situation we are in.

Actually it would be nice if D did not front today, but I suppose that is too much to hope for, he will probably stomp in soon on his squeaky little soles. Alec told me that the people who are going to work on his next project will be in town next week, they are all coming here for planning meetings. In fact they are all Israelis, no-one else would work for him, so this will be nice for him - he is anti-Semitic, among other things. Also anti-Cypriot, and definitely anti-Danish Kiwis!

He's just stomped in and asked me some pathetic question, I guess this will continue......... I am going out shopping at lunchtime, then I am going home very, very early today, I may work a bare eight hours. I want to get on with Lefkaritika, I haven't done any of that for a while, because of the horrors here and the week in Paris, but I think it's time to start again and try and finish Finikoto. And continue with my 2006 collector's heart.
posted by Ally at 9:03 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Quiet Thursday AM
This morning I didn't get up until 7:15, then I went down to Eleftheria Square and bought papers at the kiosk, and picked up a taxi to go to the big Post Office to get a parcel from Criss Cross Row and on to work. The taxi driver was sweet, he told me he had spent over two years in Melbourne (which he liked) and over two years in Sweden (which he hated). I guess Sweden is one of the more un-Cypriot places I can think of. I'll miss the Cypriots when I go back to Paris.

The parcel had two skeins of Soie Cristale for an Indigo Rose Biscornu, and some R&R Reproductions 40 count Creme Brulee linen - this is the first time I've ordered R&R, and, to be honest, I'm not sure I would again. It's kind of a murky, mottled colour, and was really rather expensive for what it is. We'll see how I go stitching on it!

Got here at 8:30 am, no sign of anyone - Leo went home last night, Nicky is on a plane to Chicago - Alec has arrived, also Marlon, our trainer, who is here and is doing some testing for me, very, very slowly. No sign of David, he was probably up late last night, and watching soccer. D is here, looking thunderous, he went out yesterday, coincidentally at the time when his country was playing in the World Cup, and came back two hours later, looking depressed. They lost, ha ha, I am now a firm supporter of the team that beat them.

Marlon has just told me there is a huge error in what's been delivered for one of my major developments. I am quite sick about this. If he's right, then I can't see what the programmers actually did. If he's wrong, then I don't trust what he's doing. It is a big worry with such a huge thread, I have to have a lot of help with the testing, but, like they say, it is hard to get good help.

I don't want to spend all weekend here. In fact, one of the weekends before I go from here - and I am assuming that it will be the end of July, and that I will be on a different project come September - I am going to ask Galatia, the taxi driver, to take me to Lefkara and spend the day there and look at all the shops and the museum and have lunch.

We are all longing for D to go, and we still don't know when it will be, we are hoping next week. It's unlikely that he will say anything to us, as no-one is really on speakers with him at present, and there won't be any sort of farewell party or drinks, as you would normally have - since no-one wants to spend even a minute with him.

Oh well, back to the grindstone, must check up on Marlon's activities, try and verify his testing.
posted by Ally at 9:15 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Some Questions With Answers
I found these questions all over the place, people seem to have been answering them, so I thought I would too....

1. How do you store your floss?

I have three floss boxes of DMC thread, plus a whole bag of loose echevettes (cannot remember English for this at present). I am considering getting a Gold Concept binder for these, they are reasonably priced in France. For other threads, I have some on rings, either with or without flossaway bags, and I have a fairly large box full of balls of pearl cotton.

2. Do you keep a complete set of DMC?

I have most colours, but not all - I buy new ones if I need them, but mostly these days I buy other threads. I'd like to have a complete set of Gentle Arts Sampler Threads and Weekes Dye Works.

3. Do you buy new floss to "kit" up new projects or do you use out of a master set?

Well, both sometimes. I try to use what I have, but, if a DMC is in use already on another project, I would probably buy another. If a specialty thread requires a whole skein (ah, that is what an echevette is) , or I think it will, for a project, I will buy another skein.

And another one:

What "rules" do you make for yourself regarding your stitching? (These can include finishes, starts, purchases, rotations, hours, fabrics, flosses, etc, etc..)

None really, the whole point of it is that it's supposed to be fun, and not involve a lot of rules. Having said this, I do not like disorder, and I try to keep things tidy and only have a reasonable number of projects at once. It can be hard, because I've been living in two places at once for the past year. My apartment in Paris needs major reorganisation!

I wouldn't ever do a rotation, my life is too unpredictable, and I really couldn't tell you what time I will be home tonight, let alone next Tuesday night.

As far as stash is concerned, if I see something I like, generally I buy it, unless it's really stupidly expensive. For fabric, I buy what I need for projects, although sometimes I will buy a piece if I see it in a shop and like the colour. For threads, I have so much that I just buy what I need for particular projects, although I will buy the new GAST and WDW periodically. I've no ambitions to collect whole series of silk threads, although I do use them when a project calls for them.

For hours of stitching, I don't really get as many as I would like (owing to chaos of work, largely), but I am quite capable of sitting still for hours and stitching. This is something I became used to at Skals, where I embroidered from 8:oo am to 10:00 am and from 10:30 am to 12:30 every day, with many afternoon classes from 1:30 to 4:30 as well. Not to mention free time stitching, too. These days I am lucky if I get an hour in the evening, plus a few hours at the weekend.

Last night I did get about an hour and did some more of the HIH 2006 Collector's Heart - I think this one will be quite quick, and I can buy one of those nice frames from Zara Home for it. I love Zara Home!

Well, back to the grindstone, we have even more chaos here than usual.... Leo and D were having a not specially friendly meeting about the hours put in on this project. It is all costing a lot more than foreseen, I think the fact that D is so unpleasant that people automatically double estimates before giving them to him may have something to do with it!
posted by Ally at 3:05 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Later on Tuesday
Goodness, I have a headache now! It is the everlasting worry beads that have been whirling since he got here at 9am, an hour and a half after me - Nicky was already here as usual. I just went out to get the coffee, and Nicky came to help me, as there were eight to bring back. Of course I did not ask D if he wanted one, as he's on about £100,000 a year, I think he can afford his own.

Think will go home shortly, and work on 2006 Collector's Heart.... Bee Charmer has been to work today, but is going home, as it is NOT a bean bag (David's idea).
posted by Ally at 7:46 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Bee Charmer

Here is the finished Bee Charmer, I managed to attach the tassels at about 10pm last night - after having worked from 7:30 am to 8:30 pm! Then, when I was trying to escape (the others were still there, although Nicky was the only other one who had started early, and David had also had a siesta), Leo grabbed me to look at one of his speadsheets, which are becoming rapidly less enthralling.

Sylvain is here, we all hope to tell D to go away soon! Evidently his future colleagues are coming here next week for a meeting with him, I said to Alec that I hope they don't all resign instantly. Or maybe they will all kill him in the first week.

Nicky is going on holiday at the end of the week, just back to the US for a week, to see whether his apartment still survives without him. I will miss him a lot. He says D has been giving him beady looks all day yesterday - we had a two hour meeting with the worry beads whirling around, a dreadful noise. And David said something about he hoped these didn't fly off and hit someone. No-one dares to just tell him to put the silly things away, the tirade that would ensue is too horrible to contemplate.

Must make a few little updates to my template to reflect the Bee Charmer!
posted by Ally at 8:07 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Some Progress
I finished the stitching on the Bee Charmer last night and this morning made tassels - after going out to Debenhams to try and find some #387 Coton Perle 12. Well, of course I didn't find it, this is Nicosia, and we are lucky anything is open on a Sunday at all. Fortunately the Debenhams which has haberdashery is in the tourist area, and they did have some ecru crochet cotton, which is a reasonable substitute. I'll sew them on tonight, if I can find a suitable needle for that.

Sewing it up to make the biscornu shape was not too horrendous, in fact it was quite fun. That is good, because I have another Indigo Rose chart for a biscornu, am just waiting to get some materials for it. Also have yet another Indigo Rose chart for a pin cushion with a secret base, sort of, those materials should be here soon, I hope.

I also started this afternoon the Merry Cox Shaker Spool Holder from SANQ, and I have to say I am not enamoured of the DMC linen thread, it seems very fragile when you are using one strand. Personally I think a "proper" linen thread, I am thinking of the ones we used at Skals for Hedebo, would be preferable. It is going to be very small and sweet, this box. There's no way I can do the finishing before the holidays, as it would be an exercise in frustration to get the finishing materials here. It's far too hot to be running around town to the dozen shops that may or may not have what's needed.

Apart from that, have done nothing today, and plan to do nothing more, except stitching and ironing. Nicky is off somewhere, watching football, he has revealed himself to be a total addict. I think he now chooses his cafes by the size of the screen. Leo and David are also fanatics, Alec less so, I think. Although he does watch it, and is capable of having intelligent discussions on the subject, I surprised him one time deep in football conversation with the Spanish head waiter at the hotel in Belfast where we used to stay every week.

I'm still quite surprised by my positive thoughts about the new project in France, although we still have not won the contract. I hear we are very well-placed, though, especially after winning the other big French contract, on which three people have already started work. Realistically I know I can't stay here for the whole project, they will never wear four extremely experienced architects - between us, Alec, David, Nicky and I have 55 years with the company - staying here while there are other projects entirely staffed by people with about one year's experience.
posted by Ally at 6:09 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Back in Cyprus
I finally got back last night......... I was totally dead when I arrived, I think I've never been so tired in my entire life before. I managed to get up at about 9:30 this morning, tidy up a bit, put washing on and so on, then came here. I found one of the boys from Singapore here, I read my email, went out to have lunch at Debenhams and came back to find Nicky here. He's in fact only just left, so I haven't got that much done.

The flight was not bad, but I was glad I did upgrade, as five minutes before boarding, a huge group of middle-aged to elderly French people, all with vast amounts of hand luggage and wearing coats (typically French, to wear coats to Cyprus in June - although, had they been going to Copenhagen, it would have been fur coats, I have seen this). There were only five people in the business class cabin, although the French tourists kept trying to invade. Which is unreasonable, how can they expect to get into business class when they have paid 340€ for a week in Cyprus, including hotel and airfare, when the people who were in business class paid 1000€ because they wanted to sit in a more private place? I hate to think what sort of hotel they would be staying at. It is business class for me for the rest of the tourist season.

Looking back on the week in Paris, it was far, far too stressful, because of the carte de sejour thing, the visit to the client with Sylvain, and these Skype messages from D. Sylvain is coming here this week, and I really hope it is to tell D that his job here is complete, and it is all up to Leo now.

Of course I did virtually no stitching this week, it is just totally ridiculous. When I go home, I must try to make up for this........... the electricity is off here tomorrow, so I won't be working tomorrow. Which is probably a good thing.
posted by Ally at 2:27 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, June 15, 2006
Chez Le Client....
We went, Gil & I, with Sylvain to the potential client, first to our partner, the integrator - I seem to have been walking all over Paris all day. First we took the train to St Lazare, then walked uphill to the integrator, then we walked from there to the potential client at rue de Washington. Thank God we had lunch after that, but then we walked to the RER at Etoile. At least we didn't have to walk all the way to La Defense.

As soon as we got back, our very inelegant French pre-sales consultant rushed up to me and said "Qu'est-ce que vous vous foutiez chez X sans que je le sache?", which is so rude that I am not translating it. I just looked at him and told him to speak to Sylvain about this, and I am not speaking to that guy again.

I have also had D trouble today, he was busy commanding me to ring Rosetta three seconds before we went out - I gave him short shrift, and told Sylvain how rude he was.

On the plus side, I got a book from FNAC, which is Petits Points et Toile de Lin by Marjorie Massey, who is a French designer, her designs are the Passé Composé series, very nice, lots of hearts and so on. I think I should make something from that in August. I also have the book Petits Cadeaux Brodés by the women who did the Cartonnage book, that's another one for August. Which I am looking forward to very much. I spoke to Sylvain about the extra week of holiday, and I think he will agree. It will all depend upon whether we get this client and what the planning is for that.

Sylvain did also say that, not only do I speak correct French, I express myself in French better than many French people. That was quite nice of him, I hope he was not just trying to butter me up. It was also really nice to see Gil, I like him so much, he has a wicked sense of humour.
posted by Ally at 5:50 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Wednesday AM
I think I might just kill Sylvain now, it would save time later!

First he gets me to stay until Friday, so I can go to this meeting with him tomorrow, then he sends me an email last night after midnight, with the "planning" for this meeting, it turns out that it involves from 9am to 4pm tomorrow, at three separate locations! Plus I have to speak about myself and my vision for the project in French for about an hour. At least Gil, another French colleague, will be there, he is coming back from Abu Dhabi for this meeting, he is the lead architect there now. He is being described as the project manager for this French project, but I don't know if this is correct, I had thought it would be Sylvain himself, the prospect of which did not thrill me. I would much prefer Gil, but that leaves the question of who is the lead architect if he is not? I can tell you, it is not me.

The other thing is, this project is described as starting in September, and I had really hoped to go back to Nicosia after the holidays. Of course, this is the French, so they could well mean September of next year or the year after, but still......... and they are muttering about all the planning that needs to be done over the summer. No way am I doing any of that, I am going on holidays.

Leo has also written a very cross email to Sylvain, quite rightly, saying that he should have spoken to him before pulling me off for the best part of a week. Which is true, although I can do some things from here, I really need to be there for Rosetta.

Of course, I don't get to do stitching this week, it seems, I just get to stand in queues, and read documents about this potential French client, as well as try and do some of my real work.
posted by Ally at 12:40 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Paris Invaded By Cattle!
After the ones yesterday at La Defense,I have seen these ones today at Opera:

I do not know what the cow thing is in aid of, but it's obviously some organised artistic expression, given that I have seen them in two places now.

I am totally exhausted, as I had to stand outside the police station of the 17th arondissement in beating sunshine for two hours before they would let me in to get my recipisse. They were letting in five people at a time, so I assumed the locale was very small, so I was astounded when I got in and found a cool, spacious room with many rows of chairs for those waiting to see the staff! Once there, racism operated and the blonde middle-aged lady with the Chanel necklace and the decent handbag got seen before the black and Asian people who formed the rest of the queue. This always sickens me in French government offices, but there's nothing I can do about it - if you protest, they send you away and don't allow you back in!

The bad news is, I am not allowed to fly back until Friday, Sylvain has confirmed this meeting with the potential French client for Thursday lunchtime. Leo doesn't know this yet, although I just spoke with Nicky and David on the phone, they were fairly confident he would go ballistic. He is in a terrible position, as all of D's mistakes are coming home to roost.

posted by Ally at 2:25 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, June 12, 2006
Monday in Paris
It is 35 degrees in the office, and the airconditioning is broken - this happens every summer and the building manager seems quite incapable of handling the situation. He is a very odd man, who wears a woollen suit even in the heat and has said several times that he doesn't know why the heat bothers us so much. He also has a very weird view on women, he used to burst in here and ask me where the keys for such and such were, and other things like that. This was in the days when I was the only woman here apart from the receptionist. I used to have to explain every time that I was ingenieur informatique and nothing to do with the administration, but he never got it.

Also the door is broken, it is not just my card. Given the aircon situation, it is now propped wide open. I also have a fan trained on me,which makes it just bearable.

I went over to the shopping centre before, as I needed to get some photos for my bureaucratic application tomorrow, and there are some large cows everywhere, like these:

They are really rather cute, pity about the ropes, I think they should be set free actually, but I guess the security men at the shopping centre wouldn't like this.

Had conversation with Sylvain about the Russia project, trying to find out when D might actually be leaving. He claims not to know, which actually in our company could well be the truth. But he did tell me that D should spend three days in Russia this week, which is more than D told us. Although we knew from Nicky's impressive sleuthing and reading upside down skills. I had a Skype chat with Nicky earlier, he is evidently feeling rather relaxed, as he was quite flirty.

Sylvain has told me that I may need to stay another day, as there is another French project in the offing, and it is entirely possible that I will work on it. They wish to present to the client or to the integrator, I am not sure which, potential team members, probably on Wednesday, which is when I should fly. I have upgraded myself however, so I could change the flight very easily, if there is availability. I think this potential French project sounds better than the other one, as it is not in the suburbs, Sylvain said he thought it would be based at the integrator's, near St Lazare. This is highly convenient for me, as I would just need to take the no 28 bus every day, and it is also near the Modes et Travaux shop (really good needlework shop, also has Anny Blatt yarn).

Of course, I don't want to leave David, Alec and Nicky - especially Nicky.

posted by Ally at 1:22 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Totally Infuriated
Firstly by Cyprus Airways, or more specifically, the man who screamed at me yesterday and nearly wouldn't let me board the plane, because he didn't have my flight coupon. I was positive it was in the boarding pass pocket when I handed this over at the gate, although there is a slight chance it could have fallen out on the way to the gate.

And I do know they need the flight coupon, but still there was no need to scream at me and make me take everything out of my handbag and computer bag, then scream at me again, then ask to see the receipt for my ticket. Plus taking both the boarding pass stub and my passport away for ages. I wasn't impressed, and I was a nervous wreck by the time that I got on the plane.

However the stewardess, who knows me from other flights, was very kind, and also the captain yesterday had the same name - first name and surname - as Nicky. I don't think they are related at all, there are some names that are very common in Cyprus.

Second source of irritation, I go to work this morning, and find out that my access card does not work any more. What is going on? So I am here in MacDo until my battery runs out, then I am going shopping, then home. I have really had enough this week.

Hope to finish the Bee Charmer today, as I am on the fourth side of the verse - I did take a picture of it the other night, but it is a really bad one, I won't post it.
posted by Ally at 11:50 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, June 09, 2006
Some Really Good News
Last night I went home at 8 pm or so, watched TV, did Sudoku, Bee Charmer, sulked madly and felt really, really sick. I went to bed before 12 and woke up again at 1:30 am, then at 5:00 am with stomach pains. Went back to bed again, then got up at 7:30 am and had a shower etc. Just getting dressed when Nicky phoned, with good news:

Me: Oui, hallo, I am just getting dressed...

Nicky: blush

Me: I do have some clothes on, it's not that bad

Nicky: I have good news

Me: You mean D is leaving today?

Nicky: No, not that, the police called, they have your wallet.

Apparently the wallet that got stolen in Debenhams before Christmas was found in Stasicratous Street some time later, and the only thing that the police could use to track me was the security card from work, which has the name of the organisation on it. There are things in my wallet with my name, also my address and phone number, but only in French! So they knew my name, and where I worked, and called the main desk here, and tracked me down that way.

I went down to fetch it on my way, the police station is only across from work, and there were four policemen there to help me. Of course, they asked where I come from, and one of them wanted to know if I knew his uncle Constantinos in Wellington!

Then I went across the road and to Cyprus Airways, I decided to upgrade my ticket for tomorrow to business class, I really am way too ill to endure a gaggle of French tourists or whatever in economy. On the seat map they showed me, I am the only passenger in business, and I hope it stays that way. I requested a seat on the right, so that I can take some aerial photos of the Greek islands, I think that is the side where you get a good view. At least I will get something for my £200 plus that I paid to upgrade.

Came back and said loudly to Nicky in front of D that I upgraded because I really felt sick. Not a word from D. We have not had one word of thanks from him for working twelve hour days for the past two weeks. Not one please, not one thank you. Only, you need to do more, you need to work harder, you need to work faster.

Actually he doesn't say "you", he always says "jew" - he's not a native English speaker, and he has some very strange sayings. I always feel like saying "no, David Jew, me Lutheran".

Anyway soon he will be history. Rosetta asked me this morning if D was cross with them (the client) for yesterday, in the meeting where they said they could not go on with the present timetable. I'm afraid I said that, if so, they were not in an exclusive club! Nicky told me that Andy, the male version of Rosetta, that he works with a lot, told him that D makes him feel "not well". Think Nicky said it was the same for us all.

Last night, I did do a lot of Bee Charmer in between sulking and feeling sick - I have finished the top, apart from the verse, which I have done one word of. It is 1 over 1! And I did the backstitching on the bottom. Maybe I can put it together over the weekend.

In fact I don't intend to do too much work in Paris, except that I do have to go in on Sunday and do something for Leo. On Monday I will also work for some of the day, but on Tuesday I will do my bureaucracy thing, and I am telling everyone it will take all day. In fact, it shouldn't unless I am very unlucky, so I will go shopping afterwards instead of working. On Wednesday I am not sure if I will work in the morning and go to the airport from work.
posted by Ally at 11:00 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Thursday, June 08, 2006
NOT Lefkaritika 12!
I am very cross about this! Yes, we wasted the whole day listening to people talking. I got here at 8 am, we had a meeting from 10 am to 1 pm, then from 2 pm to 7:30 pm............ needless to say, I have done no actual work.

Now plan to go home and do Bee Charmer and sulk!
posted by Ally at 7:29 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Roll On the Day
When our little D, alias Colonel Klink, departs for the frozen wastes of Russia. The powers that be will not tell us when this is (probably means they don't actually know, and haven't made any proper arrangements for anything), but we can't see a reason for him to stay, as Leo is back and is definitely winning friends and influencing people.

D on the other hand needs several decades at charm school even to become remotely human, I couldn't possibly write here the words I think about him, it would do untold damage to my reputation. As it was, I suprised the big boss from London a couple of weeks ago, when he said to me "The problem you guys have with D is that he's just a jerk, right?" I replied, "No, he is an ********", and Nicky says, "Right, he's an ********". BB looked very surprised to hear such words out of the mouths of middle-aged people who wear nerdy spectacles.

This litle demo that David and I were going to do, that would take half an hour maximum, has so far taken six hours over two days, and seems set to continue. David and I are both at the point of total exhaustion, he was here until 10:30 pm last night, while I left at 8:30 pm. I went home and stitched and watched television until 12:30, so was totally exhausted this morning.

I have started the Bee Charmer biscornu, I think it will be quite cute - no pictures so far, as have not had time at all. I am about halfway through the top, I think stitching the verse 1 over 1 will be the real killer, everything else is easy.

Tomorrow is the last Lefkaritika lesson, I really hope D does not prevent me from going on the grounds that I have too much work to do.
posted by Ally at 4:05 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, June 05, 2006
On the Street Where I Live

This is my apartment block, taken from the other side of the carpark across the road......... when I viewed this apartment, David was with me. We were walking down the street with the real estate agent, I was walking towards this building saying "I hope it's that one", while David was saying to the guy "If it's the pink one, she'll take it."

And you know that this is downtown Nicosia, well, look who lives across the road:

Actually this chicken is quite large and the first time I encountered it, it was wandering around on the road in the dark. It is an only chicken, and all the street kittens are quite terrified of it. The people who are in this house used to have two chickens, but the other one, which was much younger and presumably more tender, was stolen some time ago. I think Nicosia may be the only capital in Europe where a chicken lives in the next street to the boutiques of Mont Blanc, Roberto Cavalli, Fendi and other stylish types.

David called me at 11 pm last night to ask how late he could call if there was a problem, he and Nicky were in the office until midnight. I got here at 7:45 am and Nicky was already here, looking just a little bit weary. They both went off to deal with the three ladies who are the main user representatives this morning, while I dealt with Rosetta.

Rosetta is just fine with me, positive, friendly, smiling, agreeing that we can go forward. With D however, it is a different story, so much so that he accuses me of making up my experiences! I would begin to feel that I was not judging things correctly, except that the others assure me that Rosetta is very negative when D is around.

The upshot of all of this is that David and I have to do another demo, as D thinks that this will make the client feel more positive. I think not.
posted by Ally at 9:37 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, June 04, 2006
AMAP Quaker Pochette - Stitching Finished!
And here are the pictures to prove it:

It is on 28 count "dirty linen" with DMC 814, and I used five skeins of that. It's a bit larger than the model which was on a finer count, but not much larger, only a centimeter each way in it, I think. Not sure if I will make the rest of the set, scissors pouches and so on, we'll think about that one. Especially as I am going to do Couleurs des Fées, the Quaker Flowers, soon.

I did't quite finish it while watching the Great Escape, I had to do a little bit when I got out of bed this morning. Then I had shower, got dressed and went to Starbucks where I trimmed and folded the edges, so that it is all ready to have the lining put it when I have bought the material for that. It is so cute and so little!

At Starbucks, I was sitting stitching and along comes Nicky. "That doesn't look like Lefkaritika", he said, he is Cypriot, but a male nevertheless. He was funny, he wouldn't sit and have his coffee with me, he went with his computer and sat at another table, then somewhat later he came and sat down and talked for ages, by that time I was doing Lefkaritika, nearly the last four-sided stitch on Lefkaritika 1. After that I had to come here, after all I had spent from 9am to 11am in Starbucks sewing, so alas, the testing database calls.

David called Nicky while I was there, he plans to come to work after he flies in tonight, like 9pm, and he wants Nicky there as well. As he will stay until about 2am, Nicky is not real keen, as he said, at least one of us has to be awake tomorrow. We are all just praying that Colonel Klink (I just realised that actually D looks exactly like him, only somewhat shorter) will not make any speeches tomorrow. If he does, Rosetta is likely to go berserk, followed shortly by me.

In fact, I told David last week after D's latest public attack that any more of that and I would be on the next plane to Paris to see my lawyer. This was intended to be conveyed to D, and I believe it has been. He fulminated to David about how traitorous and disloyal I was when I failed to agree with him in last Monday's meeting - this is nonsense, not least because those who scream at their fellow workers in public do not deserve our loyalty. Mine is to the client, to help them get the system they need and deserve, and to our company, to ensure that its product is properly implemented and that its reputation remains high, not to a nasty little man who needs about ten years at charm school.

Here, by the way, it is at least 40 degrees, and the airconditioning in the office is not working - do not know why, I flicked the switches and nothing happened. So I have opened all the windows, and from time to time pour water over myself as well as drinking large quantities of it.

posted by Ally at 11:21 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, June 03, 2006
5 things in my fridge
1. Orange juice
2. Perrier
3. Agios Nikolaos water
4. Sun block
5. After sun cream

5 items in my closet
1. Linen dresses for work
2. Sandals
3. Pearl necklace
4. Sunhats
5. Selection of very large handbags

5 items in my purse (handbag, really)
1. Wallet
2. Ipod
3. Avene mineral water spray
4. Pencil case
5. Sun block

5 items in my car
No car, I don't need one just for one person, and I am getting really sick of people who spend the entire summer driving around Nicosia by themselves in their car at top speed, with occasional incursions on to the footpath.

That was just for fun, I need some, because I am here on Saturday afternoon, getting data ready for Monday, and I think I shall be here most of tomorrow as well. I need to check on the config what packages can be used by the testers i.e. the ones that are not affected by problems, inactivate everything else and double test the supposedly correct ones. I have got a lot of problems, but the two major ones are being dealt with, in Singapore and Des Moines respectively.

Actually the Singapore problem nearly did for me this week, it was the one D was getting het up about, and he was being so horrible about the whole thing that I nearly told him that we would change the configuration and not be so ambitious about what we were trying to achieve. Naturally I would have made him square this with the client.

However, I really couldn't do that in the end, and in fact I came up with a design for an algorithm that actually works and is flexible enough to accommodate everything they want. This was after the designers had presented me with about a dozen variations that a) didn't meet the requirements b) were unintelligible to anyone normal and c) didn't work anyway. Of course this was all with D breathing down my neck, so it was a wonder I could get anything done anyway. Nicky and I were trying to think of suitable other careers for him, and the only things that sprang to mind were concentration camp guard and assembly line supervisor.

After all of that it would be nice to have an entire weekend to enjoy but this is just not going to happen.......... last night I did stitch on AMAP Quaker Pochette until 1am, I hope to finish the stitching tonight while watching the Great Escape (for about the millionth time here in Cyprus, they repeat it regularly).

The temperature by the way was 35 degrees at 11 am this morning, so I have only been shopping for about an hour before giving up and going home.
posted by Ally at 6:10 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, June 02, 2006
Friday At Last
Here we are Friday morning, and D is already wiping the sweat from his brow, he is stressing about some phone call he had about delaying the start of testing. It may cause yet another timetable change, but am not stressing about it, as there is nothing I can do except continue in the way I am going.

He hauled me into his office for interrogation, now Nicky, who just came back from downloading more fixes for me at the cafe, is in there. Personally I think it's all political, and our client will follow their own timetable, plus try to make things a little difficult for him, as they dislike him so much. Rosetta is counting the days until he goes, and somehow I feel his farewell party will be a very joyous occasion.

Last night I did more of the AMAP Quaker Pochette, I think I am up to 90% of the stitching, and should certainly finish that this weekend, barring D forcing us to spend 48 hours straight in the office. I do have to spend some time here, but hopefully not all of it.

Yesterday I did order some Thalys tickets, as they are only 10 euros for most tickets for August - I will go on a day trip to Brussels and on an overnight to Ostende. I can visit Craft Corner in Brussels, they are at La Hulpe in the suburbs, I haven't ever been there, though. Ostende is for the sea of course. I doubt whether I will be able to do a real holiday.
posted by Ally at 9:29 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Lekaritika 11
Just back from the lesson, we started our third piece today, this is Potamos, or the "river", where there is a kind of river of openwork running around the border. It is not as difficult as I expected to do the cutting for this, but I suspect binding the edges will be a pain. We do this next week, which is the last lesson. I will miss the ladies, and I will have a lot to do still, I think it will take me months to finish both pieces.

It is quiet here today, David and Alec have gone home, so it is just Nicky, me and D. Nicky is sloping off to a cafe, allegedly to download software, but really to ogle the local talent. I will also go soon, I am totally and completely drained, it is virtually impossible to do anything more today.

I did order the Quaker armchair necessaire and matching accessories from Les Fees Brodeuses just now, this is for Couleurs des Fees 2006, there will be a message group for this, sort of a SAL thingy, I think. In French, of course.
posted by Ally at 6:30 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday AM
My goodness, I got home at 9:15 pm last night! It makes over 12 hours of work. Went to bed after midnight, and got up at 8:00 am, so arrived here at about 9:00 am. Still unbearably tired, because of the stress here, D is just getting up everyone's nose. He keeps on doing plans with Rosetta and me both in two places at the same time. The plan for next week has now been redone by David, taking account of everyone's physical limitations! None of us can walk on water either.

At least today I am going out to Lefkaritika, as we are having another lesson, I do not know if this will be the last. I haven't done much this week, except at the weekend, and that was on Lefkaritika 1, not Lefkaritika 2. In fact last night, I did quite a bit of AMAP Quaker, as I am now in sight of the end and so there is the incentive to finish it. When I go to Paris, I can get the material for the lining and finish it at my leisure. It would be nice to be able to go to Le Rouvray for this.

I am going to Paris next Saturday, and I have to stay longer than two days, much to D's chagrin, since I need to go and get a recipisse for my carte de sejour renewal. I have booked to come back on the following Wednesday, but the way I feel at present, I may just make it the Thursday. I have to do a lot of obligatory things, so I want to be able to do some me things as well.

I feel so tired, I know David is exhausted also, and yesterday even Nicky looked very tired, and he is the youngest of us architects, and normally you cannot tell whether he is tired or not, owing to his totally inscrutable expression. He is up with the users today, and he calls me on Skype and says immediately "you are on speaker phone" before I can say anything!
posted by Ally at 12:02 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments