Monday, July 31, 2006
10 Year Carte de Sejour
I spent nearly six hours in the Prefecture today, and it was quite nerve-wracking, because they told me when I got there that they would be telling me today whether I had been accepted for the 10 year carte de sejour.......... finally they did accept me, after a lot of waiting around and agonising. I had worried a lot about it for the past few months anyway, because, although I meet all the requirements, some of them to a stunning extent (my exam marks in French language are extremely good, I am lucky to be good at language exams, we are talking about 90% and higher), the officials here just make their own decisions and can refuse applications on a very abitrary basis.

So that is over, and I can collect my card at the end of September, you would think they were going hand engrave it on specially mined gold, the amount of time it takes. And of course, nothing happens in August here anyway.

I came to work and have just now completed my last pre-vacation task, so I'm about to pack up and go home. Yay!!!!!!!!!!1

Probably you won't hear too much from me during my vacation (three weeks), but I hope I'll have a lot of finishes to post once I get back.
posted by Ally at 8:09 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Saturday in Paris
What a lot of work I have to do in the apartment! Mostly it involves sorting out a whole lot of things and taking them down to the rubbish, I'm talking about the magazine pile, no-one needs two years worth of Paris Match and Point de Vue. And the other thing is clothes, there are old t-shirts I wore in Australia and I just don't need those hanging around. In the past couple of years I've got a lot less interested in buying clothes, which is good because, oddly enough, Paris is not a great place for buying clothes for the normal person. Unless very expensive, the quality is not good, so nowadays I reserve the clothesbuying for trips to Germany and Scandinavia.

I've done a little bit today, followed by a trip to Le Bon Marche, where I bought two French embroidery books, one regarding a historic sampler collection and one by Marie-Therese St Aubin about fish:

FNAC will only give a tiny picture of the sampler book, but you can enlarge the Poissons! Why, I do not know. You can see they are both in the same collection, Mango Pratique Cahier du Createur.

I've also been to WH Smith to buy some novels to read while it is still so hot and I don't feel like doing anything, and then went to Hippo and had tartare of tomatoes with shrimps followed by a bavette with baked potato and roquefort sauce. I love Hippo, it is a chain restaurant and can be variable, but is generally good. Lovely steaks, bavette or onglet, and nice salads and things as well. When the Dwarf got delayed for seven hours at CDG, he got a free meal at Hippo and said it was horrible. But he chose grilled chicken, which is not something that I would choose in France anyway, and probably on a busy day when they are giving out lots of free meals to stranded travellers, it was a super-dry piece of cardboard with some wet green beans. He should have had the steak or the Cretan Salad (big hit of their summer menu).

It is still hot, it was 27 degrees inside the apartment at 1pm, so I've gone out and left the curtains drawn. hopefully it won't climb too much more, and it did get down to about 25 overnight. I'm sitting at work now with a fan trained on me, and I'm about to revise a decision sheet for Leo and send it to him. That leaves me one major piece of work for tomorrow or Monday.

Have only stitched a little bit today, in between trip to Le Bon Marche and trip to WH Smith / La Defense, on the Papillon pochette. Will do more of that tonight, in between reading new books and sipping on the rose wine I intend to buy on the way home!

posted by Ally at 4:38 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, July 28, 2006
Home At Last
The airport was not as bad as I had feared....I was able to check in straight away, although it looked like a two hour queue (I use the word "queue" very loosely indeed) for economy. Upstairs the Red Cross had set up camp next to the lounge, although they didn't seem to be in evidence. I saw a plane bound for Canada, which I've never seen at Larnaca before, and the collection of charter aircraft in the parking spots was even more motley than usual.

I had ordered a car and driver to meet me, which was good, because it is still hot here - after a heatwave, Paris takes ages to cool down, and, even though it is only supposed to be 26 today, it feels very hot and sticky. So he carried my cases upstairs, which I could not have done at all. I opened the mail, went to the supermarket and went to bed basically. Up again today to look through documents that I need to take on Monday to the Prefecture. I brought a whole lot of stuff to work and have it ranged on my desk, ready to be photocopied when I get the energy.

Leo called me earlier, it appears that he and David had to hitch-hike halfway to the airport last night, as the taxi broke down. I can just see two white-haired gents with computer bags with their thumbs out.

Nicky has been on Skype, sounding mildly panicked about Ireland, he leaves on Sunday. There are two guys here who are going to be working with him, I hope they will be nice to him. It's a whole new phase of the project, and one that the client should have initiated some time ago, if they want to meet their regulatory deadline, so they are putting all available bodies on to this.

I did get a lot of nice mail:

- four Loose Feathers leaflets from Blackbird Designs
- Couleurs des Fees Flower Quaker Accoudoir and Accessoires I leaflets
- linen and threads from Sew and Sew in the UK (best and fastest service of any ONS, I think)
- a stash enhancement package from Traditional Stitches
- 10th Anniversary Christmas Ornaments book
- first instalment of Leanne's House quilt (so gorgeous, lots of really nice fabrics, and beautifully arranged, so that I don't have to do too much cutting myself).

Also bought three stitching magazines at St Lazare this morning, and went to Loisirs and Creations and bought some linen, so-called Hardanger scissors (we'll see!) and 1/4" tape so I do my seams OK on the Leanne's House quilt.

Intend to go home at a reasonable hour and start tidying up, the apartment is a mess, and I am hoping that Nicky will turn up at some stage. He better give it a couple of weeks, as it will take me that long. I keep finding newspapers that I read when I was at home for two days in February!

So programme for the weekend includes tidying up, sorting out my stitching program and going to the gym to sign up, so that I can use the pool as of now! I used to belong to Waou, the cringingly named upmarket branch of Club Med Gym, there are about five Waous in Paris and most have a pool. The one with the really good pool is the one that is in the top of the Sofitel. There is a fantastic view from there, so I quite like that one, but there is also a good pool at Bercy. And they all have steam rooms as well.
posted by Ally at 2:19 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I'm Flying Tomorrow
And I have so much to do before then.......... had long meeting this morning with Leo, David, Andy and Rosetta. She is also flying tomorrow morning, from the same airport, at much the same time, so I may get to see Mr Rosetta and Little Rosetta, although this airport has been rather crowded lately. Naturally she has left several hours ago, while I am still here, probably for several hours to come. I have got stacks to do, plus stacks to do at home, and I have to leave at 7:30am tomorrow.

We went out to lunch - Leo, David, Nicky, me - for ages, though. Nicky is very apprehensive about what is going to happen. He said something about, if he goes to Belfast, he can always spend weekends in London or Paris. I do not think I have seen the last of Nicky, even if he is not here when I come back.

Last night I did about half a butterfly on the Papillon trousse de brodeuse, I guess this one is the eponymous papillon, as it's the biggest. It's on the back, surrounded by small flowers, no photo until it's a whole butterfly. I'm not sure how much I will do tonight, I have to do so much at the apartment.

Also, and thank goodness, my Queen of the Needle kit arrived yesterday, I had thought they were sending it to Paris, so it was lucky that it got here before I departed. It is so gorgeous, but you have to be a pink person to appreciate it. And, as everyone knows, I am the pinkest. So the list to do over the holidays lengthens!
posted by Ally at 5:03 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Papillon Trousse de Brodeuse
This is the picture that it wouldn't let me post yesterday:

It is cute, and I finished the inside pocket embroidery last night, and started on the back, which is a large papillon. I was stitching until after midnight, as there was noise in the street, and I couldn't sleep. It's on the nice "dirty linen", I do like this fabric. The kit is really good, plenty of thread, also the lining fabric and the ribbon are included. I can't remember how much it was, but this kit has been very popular in France indeed.

Above is the whole of the inside front...........below a rather unfocussed closeup of the flowers:

I am so happy to think I will soon be home, even though there is the ordeal of the flight first. I can never understand people who claim to enjoy flying, it makes me wonder what the rest of their life is like.

Nicky told me they had offered him to go to Belfast or Utrecht, he makes it sound as though it is his choice, although with this company it rarely is. There are people who claim they get a choice, but I certainly never have, and no-one that I actually discuss these things in detail with has either. If it is his choice, I think he wants Utrecht, or maybe that's what I hope he wants. Utrecht is a train ride from Paris, and I hear it also has great embroidery shops, so I might have to visit there.

I just spoke to the resources manager about my own situation, as far as he is concerned I am starting at the French client on 4 September. Of course, it isn't signed yet, and Leo opposes it, so who knows?
posted by Ally at 9:49 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, July 24, 2006
Monday AM
Well, Nicky got a phone call at the weekend to say that they want him to move to another project.... he is a bit stunned, although he did see it coming. He's hoping that it's not Russia, he will refuse if so. Wish he spoke French, then it could be Paris.

Thankfully we do not have a Beirut project. I am not joking, it is just the sort of place where we would have a project, we do already have two in Islamic countries, and they are always raving on about fantastic opportunities in Syria or Jordan. No-one is forced to go to these places, and there are bonus payments for people who do, although they are not, to my mind, very generous. In some places, they have bodyguards as well, with guns, which would terrify me in itself, as I have a complete horror of guns. I'll stick to the European projects, thank you very much.

I am really not looking forward to this flight on Thursday, it is totally booked out and I am really worried about it - if I had any alternative, I would delay my return, but I have to be back by Friday to prepare my Monday appointment with the prefecture.

I'm finding this whole war thing quite horrific, I've never been so close to a war before, and, while of course I'm not in the middle of it and it doesn't affect me personally, except for inconveniencing my travel plans slightly, it is quite scary. I just hope it doesn't spread. I'd like to think I'd be a bit more well-behaved though than some of the American evacuees at the Nicosia showgrounds. Some of them have been complaining that there was no American food available, and one woman wanted to make a complaint because some people speaking Arabic were evacuated, and she thought only "full Americans" should be!

So it wasn't a great weekend, because I just worried about everything, as well as did packing and so on. I have a large suitcase and a largish Lancel holdall, and I am sure I will be over 30 kilos, I just hope they will let me take it all on.

I did press on with the four-sided stitch on Lefkaritika 2, I have nearly finished the 210cm of the outer border. I think there is about six meters of four-sided stitch in Lefkaritika 2, good thing it is one of my favourite stitches! I've also started a project I didn't realise I had with me, the Papillon pochette from Au Fil Des Reves. I bought this about two years ago at a salon in Paris and just never got around to doing it. It's sweet, in Soie d'Alger, a lot of blue, which is not really my thing, but the overall effect isn't "blue, blue, blue", it's more subtle than that. I used to hate it in Australia where everything was blue - I remember going to Lincraft one day and all they had was blue fabric, the sales people couldn't understand why I was upset, they kept on saying "but everyone likes blue, its the most popular". Sure it is, if it's all you have.

But anyway the Papillon pochette is not the Lincraft type of blue, and it will be another one for the finishing marathon, as it seems to be quite quick, I did most of one of the three panels last night. There is also a scissor pocket and cushion and a needlebook to stitch (small motifs only), and the lining was included in the kit, so it makes up for my bad experience with the La Ruche kit, which is in the suitcase now.

Not sure why but I cannot upload photos today! Oh well, back to work..........
posted by Ally at 9:20 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Last Saturday in Cyprus
Before the holidays anyway........... of course I have had to spend it tidying up in the apartment. I am so bad at housework that I think the landlady will complain and get it cleaned again anyway, but at least I have removed some of the dust. If you have a dust phobia, I wouldn't recommend moving to Cyprus, as it is unavoidable, and not just on the days when everything turns red because of what wafts over from Egypt and you can't go out if you have asthma.

In Paris I will have to remove the dust that comes from the apartment not being occupied for the best part of a year, but that won't be too bad, at least the apartment there is small. It's an advantage to have a small place in Paris, as you can enjoy the city instead of spending your time cleaning, also it saves on the habitation tax. I only pay about 150€ a year in my place for that tax, plus I pay the tv tax, about 114€, along with it. France is full of people who pay cash for their tv, since the shops forward the names of tv buyers to the tax authorities. It's really silly, because they have inspectors who find out these people anyway, and they get a fine.

Actually I don't feel too bad, after my first entirely dwarf-free week since last July......... I am really hoping that he will not be back next week, but I know the lease on his apartment is until the end of July and he doesn't have anywhere else to live.........
posted by Ally at 5:48 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Only A Week To Go
Before I am on that plane! In seat 1C, I went to Cyprus Airways yesterday to make sure I had the correct seat. I casually told Rosetta this morning that I had this seat, she has been a pain lately and I just wanted to see her go rather green. I also threw in that both David and I were ill, we hoped it wasn't passive smoking, we weren't used to it, as we didn't know people in our home countries that smoked.......... our sort of people don't! Mean of me, but then we have had some provocation.

We learned yesterday from the training evaluation forms from Marlon's two week course that one man had written "the project director and architects really detract from the reputation of (the company name)". Now this man doesn't know me, he never came to my PA sessions and when I went to give my talk at the training, he left the room, with every expression of boredom, and he did go to a few of David's PA sessions, but contributed nothing, I think David may have asked him a couple of times if he was awake. So it's hardly an authoritative view, but really, it still hurts when someone resorts to personal abuse like that.

Wonder if this guy will want any help with anything later on, I wouldn't think he would be getting any from me, as he knows it all already.

I am at the stage where I can start to look forward to the holiday, even though I have so much to do. I feel relatively rested today, as I went home at 7:30pm last night and just did sudoku and cryptic crosswords until midnight. I also tried to do La Ruche, but not only am I definitely running out of the green - the third colour! - but I need to undo a bit, clearly because it's hard counting green stitches on green fabric. If I can get some more DMC at the weekend, I may take it up again, otherwise it's Lefkaritika only until I go back to Paris.

It's Marlon's last day today, he is off to South Africa for anywhere from three to twelve months, and also Alec is starting two weeks' holiday. It's that time of the year! I can hardly wait.
posted by Ally at 10:36 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Leo has just asked me why Andy wants us to do all these "demos". I said there were three possibilities:

- he is a masochist
- he cannot control the users
- he really thinks they are useful

All I know is they are hell for us. David turned grey and was on the point of collapse after this morning, so has gone home. I feel terrible, and have a splitting headache, because I had the constant screaming while I was doing my "demo" this morning.

At one point, I said "well, if no-one is interested to listen, I am happy to pack up and go back to my office. I'd like to get home before 9pm tonight." Blank stares from everyone except Rosetta, who shushed them so I could go on.

I am not the headache type, in fact I have a robust constitution, although I am suffering from lack of exercise. I need to go to the gym or else go walking in the Swiss mountains or something.... it's impossible here, it's too hot to move. Leo and Alec just went down to the plant room and fiddled with the airconditioning, it's a bit cooler in this room now. Of course the locals have gone home for siesta at 2:15 pm as usual. I really don't mind that, if only they would work when they are here. We knew before we came that they were on a strict 7 hour day, so that's no surprise, but we kind of expected they would do something during it.

I did stitch on La Ruche last night, it looks as though I may run out of a third colour of DMC. I guess the test stitcher was one of those people who reuses envelopes and pieces of string. She probably has a special embroidered bag for the pieces of string, embroidered with the leftover thread she has from La Ruche!!! It is starting to annoy me. Maybe I will go back to the Usak!

A note on the international situation, you would never think there was a war on not far from here. I work with Israelis, of course, so maybe I get a different view of it from a lot of people. One of our colleagues is sitting at home in Haifa in her bomb-proof room. David was trying to remember this morning if he had a bomb-proof room...........

I am not staying past 7:30pm tonight, I just cant, and we told Leo none of these sessions tomorrow, not unless he wants us all with one foot in the grave.
posted by Ally at 4:58 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, July 17, 2006
It Must Get Better
I arrived this morning at 8:30am, after a sleepless night, to find that we were supposed to do yet another demo at 9:00am. I managed to get this put off until 9:30am, and I was assured yet again that it would just be a demo, take a couple of hours or a day, and we would not be subjected to all of this heckling and "this is wrong!", "this is not what we want!" from individuals.

Fat chance.

Of course it was just a noisy free for all like every other one of these sessions. In the event I escaped after about two hours, but David was stuck there until two o'clock. Leo went to a meeting earlier with the big bosss here to talk about the problems we are facing, and came back slightly optimistic, but the fact is that there isn't much progress because we are spending all this time at these "demos" and not actually getting any work done. David fell asleep at lunchtime and had to go home for an hour.

I booked another airticket today, from Paris to Larnaca on 19 August and Larnaca to Paris on 2 September. There are no economy class seats on 2 September, so that saves me about 100 euros, as the cheapest fare the travel agent can give is 851 euros and the business class fare is 1240 euros. The difference is 399 euros, whereas on the last ticket I think I paid 480 euros extra. I've worked out the best way of doing it, I just minus the amount from my expenses claim, so I never have to pay money for this.

And I told Leo that I would be staying at the hotel around the corner from work when I came back. It has a swimming pool and gym, and they will give me breakfast, and any other meals should I want them, plus make my bed and clean my clothes. This whole housework thing in a flat that is over 100 square meters is driving me mad, I will be very glad to get back to my 29 square meters in Paris. That I can clean in an hour on Saturdays, and it looks beautiful, and I never need to have dinners or anything, I can just take people to restaurants or out to drinks and say, quite truthfully, that I don't entertain at home, because its really only a pied-a-terre for one person.

Tonight I really have to get some sleep, but I'd like to do some more of La Ruche - although, very frustratingly, there is another colour of DMC that I need more of! I've also had a rethink on the large 3-D bees, I am thinking more of brass bees, with some flower buttons, or even a rabbit at the bottom, and making it into a cottage-style cushion, with a patchwork border. We'll see when I get back to Paris, where I have a stock of bees and buttons and so on!
posted by Ally at 5:59 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, July 16, 2006
I feel quite rested, I am in the office, but not working, just catching up on administrative stuff. I've just sent my sister a long email and tidied up part of my desk (it's an extremely large table, with several piles of stuff dating from various epochs of this project).

On Friday I went home in a state practically of collapse at 3:30pm, I really couldn't stay awake any longer. So I slept for two hours and got woken up by the resources manager from London, who asked me to come back here after the holidays for two or three weeks. Until the French project begins. Bang goes my fourth week of holiday, but I knew this would happen. I wouldn't have said yes if the Dwarf had still been here, but I like Leo, so it's OK. Plus the lease on my apartment is up mid-August, so I hope that means I can stay in a hotel with swimming pool for two or three weeks. I may even try to get them to pay a business class airfare, but they may refuse that on principle.

During those two or three weeks, I have to hand over to Alec, which is a bit like teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. Then I go off to be a functional architect on this new French project, along with Gil and some guy from South Africa, who is an XAI expert, but does not speak French. This will be interesting, it will be the first time I get to do actual rates and billing, I assume I will have a lot to do with them, even though it will be Gil who is the lead architect.

By the by, the resources manager did tell me that now they are keeping a close eye on the Dwarf, so it seems our complaints have not fallen entirely on deaf ears. Nicky and I have always been amazed that the management has shown so much favour to someone new to the company, and with all these defects (rude, incompetent, psychotic etc), and ignored what trusted, long-term employees (all of us) have said. Maybe now they are seeing sense, but I think it is only that Leo has come and pointed out to them several disaster areas that is having this effect. I told resources manager that I would never work with the Dwarf again in any circumstances.

After that, the weekend could only get better.......... I watched "Wuthering Heights" (a 1980 version with no-one I recognised in it) and finished the centre of the Green Usak on Friday night, then slept late on Saturday morning. Into the old town to have lunch with David and his family (who are here for the weekend) and Nicky. Then Nicky and I walked back out to the new town and nearly expired from heat stroke, it was 39 degrees. Today is just as hot.

So I slept after that, and got up to tidy the flat and do some Lefkaritika, I did quite a bit of four-sided stitch on Lefkaritika 2. And I've taken out another UFO, "La Ruche" from "La Garrigue". I cannot find a picture of this anywhere, but it is a beehive with flowers and bees, including rather large bumble-bees on wires that get attached at the end. Of course I bought it because I liked these, and I didn't realise how boring a fairly large brown hive would be to stitch. The flowers will be much more fun. And in fact, with the brown, there wasn't even enough in the kit, but it was just DMC 380, so of course I had this. I've nearly finished the largest brown bit, so maybe this will speed up progress now.

This morning I got up about 9am and got here by 10am, so in fact I am ready to go out and have some lunch, then go home and have a rest.......... I will just make it through the week if I get enough rest at the weekend. This project has been so tiring, unlike any other I've ever been on, I am always totally exhausted. I think it will be better when I get back to Paris and I can go to the gym again, swim every day during the holidays if I want to and walk on the treadmill.
posted by Ally at 12:21 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, July 14, 2006
One Little Achievement
Last night I sat down and did the hemstitching round the edge of the Inglestone Sampler, so here it is:

It is really rather small, I think about 6 x 8 inches, so it is amazing that it has taken me such a long time! But I bought it, started it, then put it away for a long time. At least there is one UFO off the list. I've actually got no idea how many there are, this is one of the things I have to sort out in Paris, there are ones I haven't touched since I moved from Australia.

At present it seems unimaginable that I will ever get back to Paris, even though it is only twelve days or so! From the way Leo was talking yesterday, I will not get the fourth week of holiday, and they will bring me back here. In that case, I think I will be in a state of collapse again by Christmas. Today I didn't get out of bed until 8am, and I am still so tired. I am not sure how long I can hold up today before going home to bed.
posted by Ally at 10:39 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Not A Morning Person
I did not want to get up this morning, having gone to bed at 12:30 after going out for dinner and not getting back until 11pm. Of course I then sat down to do a Sudoku etc. We all went (except D) to meet the three people from our new Russian project who are in town for their first meetings with D, their new leader. Lucky them. Although they seem already to be as enraptured with him as we are.

Now I have to go and do demo, I hope not for four hours, I couldn't stand it. My entrance is delayed slightly, as Nicky is still in there, telling them something about printing bills. He pops out every now and then to ask me a question about configuration of postal routes or something. David says, how do you know all this weird stuff? I read the manual, I said, and managed not to fall asleep at that point, like everyone else clearly has.

Now Nicky has come out, D has arrived (oh no!), and Rosetta and Andy have gone into D's office with Leo and the boy from Singapore who is doing all the printing stuff. This is not real good, Rosetta may start screaming. She certainly would if it was D alone, but Leo's presence may calm things down. The problem is that D thinks he is a technical expert and did all this stuff with printing that should have been done by technical experts, of course it doesn't work in any way that is acceptable to normal people. I am really sick about this, as it is a pain for the client of course, and also it means that we get these visits from D, even though he is no longer on this project. Leo wants him to face his responsibilities, which is correct, it's just a pain that he reappears. I long for him to leave the country.

I still don't know where I am going to be in September, it looks as though we may have this new French contract, the one where the office is near the Champs Elysees, so they will want me there. Yesterday our resources manager asked me if I thought the client here would mind me leaving. Yes, they will go ballistic, I said. Oh, he said. Nicky and David are both highly anxious not to have to be the new me. I really don't know what will happen, especially as I am pretty sure Leo would like to get rid of Nicky.

I have found an amazing new website called "Library Thing", where you can catalog all your books, using databases from all over the world, like Amazon, and the Library of Congress and the Kongelige Bibliothek in Denmark. It's good for me because I have books in many languages, so I can find most things. It would be fun to do all my books, but I am not sure if I would have time over the holidays. It may be the sort of thing that I need to do an hour every weekend if I go back to Paris. I need to be there to do it, because that's where the books are.

A bit later - oh my goodness, I have just spent one hour in D's office, explaining all about letters extracts. Query, why does no-one ever remember anything about this? I have explained it many times before.

Somewhat later still - we finally have got to do today's demo, after another hour of discussion about whether testing will go ahead next week. I am confused about the answer, but I think it is that it will, just it won't be called testing. I then did the demo, and it generated two new requirements, I think. One of which is nutty. At last I could have lunch, by that time it was 3:30pm. I won't get out of here until 9pm, it seems.

So I have indulged in stash enhancement, I ordered the Leanne's House block of the month quilt. It is very nice, in pinks and with lots of embroidery on the blocks, absolutely my sort of quilt. I do very little patchwork and quilting these days, but I like to do the odd bit from time to time, and this one has been a temptation for a while.
posted by Ally at 10:02 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
It May Be Party Time..........
We are not really sure, but we have not seen D all week.......... I asked Leo if he had really gone, and he said "virtually", which is practically the worst thing he could say to someone in IT, we know all about real and virtual.

It's great not having seen him for two days, I can feel my blood pressure returning to normal. We are having a tough week, but at least it's not to the accompaniment of worry beads, tapping shoes and hyperventilation. Today for example David and I did four hours of system demo with very little nervousness or anxiety, Leo was there with us, and we did have to answer questions as well, from Rosetta and Andreas. But we didn't have the fear of giving a "wrong" answer or being attacked by D for not having done something.

Leo has suggested we had a farewell party for D, I passed on David's idea of having a sombrero party and all putting on our best Mexican accents! D has a Mexican accent, and, for some reason, it is not allowed to make fun of Mexican accents, but it is perfectly OK for him to laugh hilariously at German or Danish accents. I don't get this one, and in fact I don't get D's whole racism thing. Its something he's always on about, once he told me off for saying "Filipina maid", as I was referring to one that I had seen at a neighbour's house. This apparently is highly racist, I can't see why, but it doesn't seem to be racist to say "German maid" or "French photographer" or "Israeli architect". And he's always raving on about how rude the French are, which I would have thought was racist, so he is certainly quite screwed up somewhere.

Today looks like being another twelve hour day, like yesterday, since I have "homework" from the morning's sessions, plus I have to prepare for my guest appearance at Marlon's training course tomorrow. Last night I went home and watched a movie that started as I walked in the door at 21:15 and finished at 23:30, at which point I had a bath and went to bed. Then I got up at 7:15 and it all started again. After the four hour demo, David and I were exhausted and we went across the road to the Italian restaurant to have lunch, we could barely pick up the forks to convey the food to our mouths.

So this may not be a big stitching week..... last night, I just did some of the background on the Green Usak centre, I shall be happy if I get this finished and get on to the border this week. And I am trying to tidy up and get things straight at home, in preparation for going back to Paris, but Alec said to me earlier, you will be back here after the holidays, you know. So I don't know, I really don't.
posted by Ally at 4:49 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Tropical Sunday
It's very hot, last night at midnight it was still nearly 30 degrees, I know because I stayed up to watch "Howards End", which didn't finish until 1:30 am - it's quite a long film. And I got quite a lot of the Green Usak done, this is it:

Nearly all the middle is done, I just have to do the background of the bottom two rows and one lozenge in the middle row. This is what the pattern looks like closer up:

It is a nice design and will make a lovely cushion, and of course I love the greens, but goodness, it is tedious to do. I still have most of the border to do, so I don't think I will get it finished before leaving Cyprus, but you never know. It would be good to include it in the construction fest I am going to have to have over the summer.

I am getting very cross about work not being able to tell me where I am going to be after the holidays, the timetable for Veronique de Luna's classes is out now, and I really want to sign up for some of the level 2 classes, such as Bargello and Galons et Bordures. I also have to do Point de Chartres, in order to progress to Level 3, although I am not expecting to enjoy that so much.

I mentioned to Rosetta that I may not be back after the holidays, I thought she was going to combust. I don't think it's fair to the client to leave them in the dark entirely, knowing this company it could be the day I leave for vacation and we still wouldn't be certain, so no-one would have said anything, then Rosetta and co would get a shock when I don't turn up in September. I don't want to do this to them....

posted by Ally at 12:11 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, July 07, 2006
Yes, thank goodness. And I am leaving here at 3pm to go to Jacques Dessange to have my hair done. It is totally overdue, because I did not go last time I was in Paris, so it is getting too shaggy and I have a few silver threads showing. Which is really the first time, I blame it on D. Who has just arrived, said good morning to Nicky and ignored me. I think probably he has been told in London that I have complained about him and asked not to work with him again. Unfair to take it out on me, because I am not the only one, Alec and Nicky will not work with him again. David probably would, if he had to, but not if there was another choice.

It is a bit cooler here today, overnight was quite cool, and I think the forecast is only for about 32. I am hoping the weekend will be relatively cool, so I can do a bit of shopping. I need another suitcase, I am going to have excess luggage, there is no way around it. I'm starting to go through stuff now and work out what to take back, it is hard after a year. And the company will not pay any excess baggage or transport of possessions, because this is not a relocation. They are so mean, how do they expect you to work for a year away from home with only a suitcase? And I was only going home once a month for two to three days - although the timetabling of this was the Dwarf rather than the company, he used to kick up such a fuss when I went to Paris.

Last night I got home at 8:15pm, quite early really, I even saw some of the news......... I did Lefkaritika 2, there are miles of four-sided stitch, I can see me doing this on trains all summer. Not planes though, I think the plane from Larnaka to Paris on the 27th will be the last for a while.

When I get home, sorting out the stash is a major priority.....

By the way, I asked my tester, who is Russian, about D's command of Russian, and was told he was not fluent, but his Russian pronounciation is better than his English. "That is not difficult", said Nicky. I think he added a cynical laugh as well.
posted by Ally at 9:39 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, July 06, 2006
He's Back..................
Yes, the baby with his rattle came back from London, but I have found a way to stop the flicking of the worry beads, I just stare very fixedly at his hand while he is flicking them and he stops. We all do that now, it was David's idea.

David has escaped back to Israel early for the weekend, because he has something on tonight. The rest of us are suffering still............. Nicky was actually late, he overslept, the rest of us are all envious, as no-one else can sleep past 5am. I feel exhausted as soon as I wake up, Leo has bags under his eyes, Alec sounds so weary.

I did get a nice parcel yesterday from SBB, the Just Nan "Flower Girls", plus two charts from Abby Rose for stitching smalls. Their service was good, she emailed me to say there would be a wait, emailed when they were sent and the parcel arrived within a week, so I was pretty happy. I'm looking forward to getting the silks from them when I get back to Paris. Actually there should be a few things waiting for me.

I left at nearly 9pm last night, and I was so hungry I had to go get a baked potato, so I didn't get home until after 9. Then there was a puddle of water on my bedroom floor - there was a freak storm yesterday, something that hasn't happened here in 35 years, and it must have been because of this, everywhere in town was flooded. So I had to mop up. It was strange, the windows were closed and I am on the second floor, so I don't pretend to understand it. There were fallen trees everywhere as well, and sadly one lady was killed at the town markets, since an iron bar flew off something and on to her.

Some questions:

Have you ever used a magnifying glass while stitching? If so, did you find it helpful?

I quite often use a large magnifying glass that hangs around my neck, while I am here in Cyprus. The light in my apartment is terrible, and, especially until I got the new specs, I was having trouble seeing. In Paris, I wouldn't use it so much, as I have a Daylight Lamp. This also has a magnifier, but I only use that on 40 count material. For anything less, the Daylight Lamp by itself is fine.

What is the biggest mishap you have had with your stitching material(i.e. spillages)?

When I was making the Secret Garden Needlebook, my Irish wolfhound knocked over a glass of wine and some went onto it. It was rinsed out immediately, and the Secret Garden suffered no ill effects, it is one of my favourite pieces. This was a long time ago in Australia, my dear Micky has no longer been with us for many years, and I miss him still. He was a very good dog and loved to sit and stitch with me. In the kitchen was a favourite spot because he could then also keep an eye on anything that was cooking.

How many cross stitch books do you own and how often do you use them?

I've got no idea how many stitching books I own, there are many subjects including cross-stitch. I use them quite regularly, but sort of in waves. At present my constant companion is the Lefkaritika book! I've got books in English, French, German and Danish that I use often. I regularly buy French ones these days, usually if I like the sound of them from the reviews in the magazines or if I see them in the FNAC or Le Bon Marche. I always enjoy books with lots of diagrams and I like books that deal with historical ot technical aspects. I'm not that keen on books that just have designs, although I do have a few, there's one from Ehrmann that I made a few things from. You could have bought the kits for these designs, but goodness, they were expensive, and it was cheaper to buy the book, blank canvas and the wool.

I have a LOT of books anyway, I read a huge amount, and a huge variety. I tend to read anything popular that comes out (although I draw the line at complete rubbish like Stephen King! whom the French seem to consider a literary author for some reason that entirely escapes me), but really what I like is history and poetry. I read a lot of poetry and I find it a great joy in times of sadness or depression. I can always tell when I am finding things tough, I tend to go straight for the Roman Odes of Horace!

Actually when I get home to Paris, I must sort out the books and give the year's quota of "airport books" to the library. I don't keep those, because I need the space for stitching books, and others of more long-term interest. My goodness, the clearing up over the holidays will be massive!

Have just found out that the only Greek Marlon has learned from his pupils this week is not something that can be repeated in polite company. Like many Greek words, it has English derivatives - "scatological" is one! This really is slightly depressing.
posted by Ally at 11:16 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Somewhat Better
I went home at 7:30 pm and went to bed for an hour, then got up again and did Lefkaritika 2. Went back to bed, and woke up at 1:15, walked around for a bit and then went back to bed again. This may be the pattern for the next three weeks.

Yesterday afternoon the resource manager in London told me that it was practically certain I would be returning to France in September. I will try and talk to him today about this. And Sylvain has just walked in, to my surprise, he says it was a last minute thing and he bought his ticket yesterday. He's here to support Leo, who is still very new as a PD, but miles better than D. Who has not shown his face this week, he is rumoured to be in London - hope he is doing a course at Lucie Clayton, or some other charm school. I wish I had known at the weekend that he wouldn't be here, it might have helped my permanent stomach ache.

SBB are having a 25% off sale, so I bought all the threads for Catherine Agnes and Toccata 1, it came to about $70 US with the shipping, so that is not bad, given the exchange rate with the euro. I certainly couldn't have bought 22 skeins of silk thread in France for that. And they should, I hope, be there by the time I get home for the holidays.

I am stressing slightly about the return to Paris, I have to pack up everything in the flat here, get it to Paris, get ready for my appointment at the Prefecture, finish all my work here, its just a horrible amount of stuff to do in about three weeks. Then I have three to four weeks holidays, and I really have to get the flat in Paris organised again, because I've spent about fifteen nights there since last August, I think. There's piles of everything everywhere, I bet I can see the newspaper I read when I was home for one night in February sort of thing.

And there is all the other stuff, will I be able to do my job properly in French? Will I have to do financial? It is primarily a billing project, although the client is aware that I am a meter and meter reading person, as far as specialties are concerned. Can't have bills without reads. Well, you can, but no-one is very happy with the results. How much will I miss Nicky? Will my PD be another D? All those things...........

Nicky by the way is clearly asleep at his desk, he is leaning back and his head is nodding, he is not quite snoring, but give him five minutes.... I think it's a combination of exhaustion from what we've been going through here, his painful trip to the dentist yesterday and the World Cup. Leo and Sylvain have gone to a meeting, so at least they are not observing this. Think David may also fall asleep.
posted by Ally at 8:36 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Perfectly Hideous Day
It started out with trying to get rid of the ants in the kitchen at 6.30 am, then I got to work and my connections would not work! I burst into tears, which infuriated everyone, and we spent 1.5 hours until we finally could restore my laptop to a point where it would work. Thank God for Access IBM and its restore facility.

I am just spending all my time answering questions, my tester that I have this week is a nice chap, but not real bright. And the people in Singapore seem to require everything to be said five times before they will believe me. Most of the problems we are running into are because of D's mismanagement, we could have done with a lot more time or less pressure in the time we did have - looking back on it, we spent too much time saying how long it would take us to do things and when we could have them finished, rather than actually doing them.

As a consolation for this trauma I have ordered four Blackbird Designs charts from Wyndham Needleworks. I've asked for them to be sent to Paris, as of course I'll get the email saying that they are out of stock and I will end up waiting a month. But I guess they will arrive eventually! Rest assured I will NOT be ordering the R&R linen that they call for, I think I can find a nice substitute that doesnt look like it had a cup of coffee thrown over it!
posted by Ally at 12:10 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, July 03, 2006
Quick Monday Post
I am recovering from an onslaught of questions today....... Nicky has just gone out to get the afternoon coffees, and I am waiting for him to get back. For Anne, re Nicky, yes, you're probably right, but it's hard when, in our real lives, we live on opposite sides of the world.... and, while we're here, we just work all the time.

Marlon is an idiot, he did not do a dry run on Friday on the test database of his training material, so I got a panicked call from David, who was in the the room with him, to come and rescue them when they were getting errors. I charge off and instantly identify the problem as being a missing program, which would have been noticed on a dry run. I can't believe a trainer would just go into the room and wing it like that.

It was evidently a stressful morning for David, he has asked Marlon five times this afternoon if he plans to do a dry run before tomorrow's session. And he has just been singing "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" at me in a really bad French accent, so he has totally flipped.

Apart from my rescue mission, I have just answered questions all day today, there are two guys in Singapore that are driving me mad, in one case with questions about the internal workings of a Cobol program that he himself wrote.

I wonder what time I can escape tonight.........I want to go home, I got out a UFO last night that I was without fail going to finish down here, and, now it's only a month to go, and I haven't even touched it. It's a rather nice needlepoint cushion called "Green Usak" from Russell House Tapestries, and it was quite expensive at Celimene Pompon in Paris, so I would like to get it done and made up. But I kind of lost interest, because it is all tent stitch, and I prefer a variety of stitches for canvaswork.
posted by Ally at 5:47 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, July 02, 2006
It was a great day! Galatia came and picked me up at 10:30 am and I was in the centre of Lefkara by 11:30 am, it's really not far from Nicosia, although it's just a different world.

First I went to the museum, to get there you just go along Leonardo Da Vinci street, then Museum street - note that, while the street signs are bilingual in Cyprus, the English translation is often fairly creative:

You want to see some of the street names in Nicosia, we have Tzon Kennenty (he was the brother of Rompert, you know), Lount Tzortz (this is Lloyd George) and Tzortz Vyron (George Byron) amongst others. The French names seem to come off worst, I can't remember how Honore De Balzac goes, but it's horrific.

The Museum is an old restored house, the Patsalos mansion, built around a courtyard. There is no photography allowed, and you have to put your handbag in a locker before you go in, but I did take this picture of the courtyard from outside:

The Lefkaritika embroideries are upstairs in the main house, and there are some very old and beautiful ones, enormous bedspreads and hangings. It is not a big museum, and, apart from theLefkaritika, there are two or three furnished rooms, those are lovely, and some displays about the history of Lefkara. It is so interesting, embroidery made Lefkara into probably the most developed and prosperous village of Cyprus - even in the early 20th century, there were doctors, schools and cultural associations.

The museum doesn't have any postcards of the embroideries, but they do sell the book about Lefkaritika by Androulla Hadjiyasemmi (I think that's her name), both in English and in Greek. It's the only one and fortunately it is very good, it has pictures of all the embroideries there, and a lot of how to diagrams.

From the museum I walked downhill to the main area where the shops and restaurants are, there are some lovely little lanes to wander through:

There are about three streets of shops, this is a typical shop:

Note the signs on this one are in Russian and German as well as English. The chair out the front is for the lady who will sit there embroidering and calling out to the customers to come in. They all speak perfect English, and a lot of them not bad German as well - which I found out yesterday, as they all assumed a plump blonde lady with pale skin would be German. I'm always getting mistaken for German, even in Germany, but honestly Mummy's family came from Germany to Denmark in the 18th century, so you would have thought the German genes were somewhat diluted by now.

Of course I got the full treatment, they will do anything to get you inside and buying! I could have had dozens of cold drinks and so on. I was quite fair and said I was there only to look, not to buy, I had bought before, but still I got the whole sales pitch! Most of the shops have only a selection of handmade lefkaritika, there is a lot of machine stuff and a lot of that stuff that comes from the Far East and makes me sad about how much people get paid. I think the best shop is the one that has the "DMC Handcraft Centre" sign outside, she has only handmade lefkaritika and none of the other stuff. It is not cheap, but, as one lady told me, it takes two weeks to make the centre for a wooden tray. A long table runner will be anything from £40 to £100, depending upon the design. You could get a small piece in a not too complex design for £20, and, for the really poor, there are coasters with a single daisy, I think they were £2 or £3.

I had lunch at a coffee shop called Adamos, it wasn't bad, but I think I would recommend the Lefkara Pavilion (think that's the name), the restaurant with a terrace opposite the school in the main embroidery street, for anyone who plans to go there.

Village life is quite amazing, I heard loud shouts of "karpouzi, karpouzi", and thought, I know that word, it's watermelon, then lo and behold, this truck arrived:

It was a man and his wife, who came to sell watermelons, all the little old ladies who were sitting outside on their chairs bought one. He weighed them in a plastic rubbish bin, with a sliding weight:
It's not the best picture, but I think you can just see the bin and how he is holding the weight. Then his wife would take the watermelon into the house for the old lady, they were weighing about 14 kilos each, I could hear this.

The other interesting thing that happened there was I heard the police siren and along comes the police car, followed by a wedding procession on the way to the church. The first time it was the bridegroom, and then 15 minutes later, it was the bride. I don't know if this is the custom in villages, I must ask the locals tomorrow......... Galatia arrived to take me home at the same time as the bride and her police escort, so I didn't get to go down to the church again and photograph the arrival, that would have been fun.

I got home about six, and of course had to have a little sleep. But I got up later, and, while I was watching "Bridges of Madison County" (for the second time and I liked it more this time), I finished the 2006 Collectors Heart:

Today I didn't get up until 10, since the film finished at nearly 2am, and I've just been to get newspapers and have something to eat. The temperature down the road was 38.9 at 11am, so it will only get hotter. The forecast was for 37, but you can count on it being a lot hotter than that, I usually think it is about five degrees hotter. In fact, here they don't even pretend the weather forecasts are accurate, and they only do the next day, nothing beyond that, I find this refreshingly honest.

This week I don't know how much time I will have for stitching or anything else apart from work, it could be even worse than the last two weeks.... Marlon's training course begins on Monday, and I also have a helper coming for a week, a guy who used to work for the company and has just rejoined. He's going to do some of my outstanding testing. He is also going to the Russia project, so he will have a nice little foretaste of D's management style. It will also be interesting to get his views on how well D speaks Russian. He told us he was fluent and spoke it like a native, but then, as BB from London pointed out to me, he probably thinks he speaks English fluently as well. Sometimes BB says things that Big Boss should not say to the staff, but I guess he has reason to know that I am as closed as an oyster when it comes to repeating that sort of thing within the company.

Nicky will be back tomorrow, thank goodness, I am looking forward to seeing him again....... I hope things will go OK between him and Leo, I couldn't stand it if they don't. I have really missed Nicky this week. I like David and Alec, of course, but Nicky is special, I really wish I had met him years ago.
posted by Ally at 12:06 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments