Saturday, December 30, 2006
Saturday in Office
I came here this morning, because it's really the easiest way to access our network, although I can do it from McDo, but that risks to be crowded on a Saturday as well... I should have had a photo of Catherine Agnes and some others as well, but guess what, the camera needs batteries, I'll get them on the way home.

The Ice Age seems to be over, but now it is raining, so I guess we can look forward to a week of that. It seems the top temperature today could be 10 degrees, which is tropical compared with the last week.

I see this morning that Saddam Hussein has been executed, I really have very mixed feelings about this. I know he was a horrible, brutal tyrant, but I think it is going to the same level to kill him, it makes murderers of those who do it. And I'm worried too that Islamists may take some sort of revenge, and there will be more terrorist attacks. However, I guess the problem is, what do you actually do with someone like that? It would be nice to think that he might become reformed and feel remorse and make amends, but realistically I doubt that would happen. So I guess this had to happen, but still.

On more pleasant subjects, I have started the Be Not Afraid Limited Edition tin from Praiseworthy Stitches:

This is extremely nice, much nicer than the picture would have you think, but there was not enough of the red in the kit, I had to find some more, and I doubt that there is enough white either. The border is alternating double back stitch, and I knew exactly how to do this, having done some on Catherine Agnes! I got this kit from SB&B, and I have to say it arrived quickly, they must have had it there, but the postage! Astronomical! However, I wanted this one, and they were the only place I could find it.

I'm trying to get things together for going back to Cyprus in seven days time, kit up several projects and so on, so I don't get bored. But I've still got so much to do at home, and this week I've got to go to the doctor's, hairdressers etc etc. Must have a facial, my skin feels terrible, with all the climate changes, although it doesn't look as bad as it feels. And all the shopping as well... I better get on, I have expenses claims and so on to do.
posted by Ally at 1:19 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The Ice Age
Here in Paris the top temperature this week has been about 3 degrees, and there is simply no sun. There is daylight starting about 9am through to about 5pm, so in fact I haven't been getting up until after 9am, and then it is round about zero, according to the outside thermometer. Outside it is very dull and semi-foggy at that hour, we don't seem to get any clear light until the afternoon.

Of course I'm not really used to the cold any more, after over a year in Cyprus, I think I spent about three days in Paris last winter, as that was the height of the Dwarf's horror regime when I was never allowed to go home. Actually I had a horrible dream about him last night, in which he asked me to be the lead architect on his new project (whereabouts unknown) and I burst into laughter.... don't know what happened after that, as I woke up.

Anyway I am not doing a lot in this weather, I venture out in small bursts, have been to Modes et Travaux to pick up some more DMC for my A Mon Ami Pierre Darning Sampler that I intend to start next week, have been to WH Smith to buy books, to supermarket to buy food etc, but that's about it. I am doing a bit of tidying up in the apartment also, it looks less like a bomb site.

I have finished Catherine Agnes, and there will be a photo at the weekend, also one of La Ruche, which is going into its frame today. My other pre-New Year task is to finish the Motif Florentin. I'm also knitting a La Droguerie alpaca scarf rather slowly, it's about 20 centimeters now.

Fortunately the weather is due to improve and the weekend should rise to the tropical heights of 10 or 12 degrees! With sun, as well. I hope it keeps up during the week, as I have to go to doctor's, epilation, hairdresser etc etc, before I go back to Cyprus.
posted by Ally at 11:45 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Boxing Day
Or the day after Christmas, for those who don't use the English expression. In France this is not a holiday (in Cyprus it is, and they tend to call it Boxing Day as well, when they speak English), so I have been out to Monoprix and Le Bon Marche, now am sitting in McDo making use of the free wireless.

I got home on Saturday, absolutely whacked, because I had to wait over an hour for my baggage - marked priority, but it came out last, the communists must have been on duty again- , and when I got out the driver with my name on a card was looking rather boot-faced, which was nothing to what he looked when we got to my place and found there was no elevator. I still haven't unpacked most things, actually, I have been so tired since, and my place looks like a bombsite. One that is being tidied up however! I have been through a few piles of things and rearranged them, and I should continue to do this over the next few days. One thing is that I have an awful lot of clothes I just do not wear, so they are all going in the Emmaus bags (that's an organisation we have here for charity).

Saturday and yesterday I did not do much, except read and stitch - I have all but finished Catherine Agnes, there should be a photo in the next update, and I have started a new scarf, in alpaca, in a very simple chevron lace pattern (which I have had to unpick a few times, I am really out of practice at this!)

I did speak to my mother and my sister in NZ, they had just finished Christmas dinner, a huge feed of roast lamb and kumara (of which I was very jealous), so they were replete, to say the least. My mother sent me 50 euros and my sister sent me a travel set of Trilogy skin care products and a book of subversive desk signs for the office. My favourites are "I don't get even - I get odder" and "Situation Desperate - Bring Chocolate". I myself just had some steak with bearnaise sauce and little charlotte potatoes and creamed carrots for Christmas dinner, nothing huge or fancy.

That's about it for now, I am going to go home and do some more tidying / stitching / reading. By the way, I am really behind in reading everyone else's blogs and commenting, I hope you will forgive me.
posted by Ally at 1:23 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, December 22, 2006
This morning I had breakfast by myself in the hotel, there was no-one else in the dining room, and now I am sitting by myself at work, David and Alec have gone home of course, and the boys from Singapore have departed for Christmas as well. It is also raining, so the whole thing is fairly depressing. I also have virtually nothing to do, except write some configuration notes, so I am rather bored.

Today may well be the last day before Christmas that I update here, so I will take the opportunity to wish everyone who reads a Merry Christmas... I don't think I have so many regular readers, but I know there are a few who do.

I am hoping I don't spend the Christmas holidays ill, as I did in August. I want to be able to do some things, like go to my Waou club again, and tidy up my apartment, and so on. I did think of trying to go away, but I remember the snow storm last year in Copenhagen, so I am not anxious to repeat that one.

I will be going home quite early today, to pack up all my stuff, actually it is not too bad, I will be leaving a few things here in the cupboard. I am supposed to come back on 6 January, but we shall see. I talked to the new lawyer on the phone today, and she tried to tell me that I should go to the Cyprus Embassy in Paris and get a visa! Then five minutes later she rings and says she's talked to their immigration agent and I don't have to do this, but please carry a lot of cash when I enter the country. I am certainly not doing this! Also I have to carry a lot of documents, which she is supposed to send me. The whole thing is perfectly ridiculous, but we shall see what happens.
posted by Ally at 10:44 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Two Days to Go!!!
I am so looking forward to going home again, even though there is the whole horror of the flight to get through. I also did something which might seem rather strange and checked on the dates of the Islamic Haj! This is because last year I travelled back to Cyprus after Christmas holidays with 300 people en route to Mecca, and it was not what you might call comfortable in the airport departure lounge, plus it took an hour to board the plane. Fortunately it seems that the Haj and I do not coincide this year.

Last night I finished my Echarpe Harlequin, and I am wearing it right now - it is quite admired by David and Alec. I have threatened to have compulsory knitting lessons for my colleagues after the holidays. The boys from Singapore actually need them, as they have no warm clothes. I suggested to one of them that he buy some shirts with long sleeves, and he looked at me as though I were mad, and said, but when would he wear them, and was the rest of Europe as cold as Cyprus? It is a good 20 degrees here most days, fine and sunny mostly, but he was serious. I don't know what he will do when he gets sent to Minnesota or somewhere like that in winter. They are going back to the apartment every night and turning both heaters up to 30 degrees, which is the maximum and leaving them like that all night. I turn mine off overnight, although I do have them on for a short while in the evening. Actually I suppose they have three heaters, as their apartment is a two bedroomed one.

Re the Echarpe Harlequin, I used the nicest needles, Clover Takumi, only about 20cm long, but single-pointed - just perfect for scarves and other little knits, I hate narrow strips on great long needles, and I am not one of those people who only ever use circulars. When I get back to Paris, I am going to start my next scarf, or maybe some Hundertwasser socks. Also finish Catherine Agnes (she is airplane work on Saturday as well), and if I still have to do any of Motif Florentin.... then I can have some new starts, I think!
posted by Ally at 12:34 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Live Theatre
I got up at the crack of dawn this morning, well 7:15, although this was not helped by a very disturbed night, when I woke up at 5:00 am, with my phone on the floor instead of beside me on the bed. I crawled out and went to breakfast, where David joined me looking like death, and wearing Leo's jacket with brass buttons. We got a taxi out to the new office building, for a supposed 9:00 am start of our client's presentation of the new system. It did start by 9:45... of course it was in Greek, so I understood about half, and I had to hit David every now and then to keep him from falling asleep and snoring. It seemed well received, but it went on for three hours!

I now feel incredibly tired, even though I haven't done anything all day. I did look up the opening times for Le Bon Marche, it is not open on Sunday, except for La Grande Epicerie, why did I think it was? I was sure that the signs in the store said "Dimanche 24 decembre"! I am absolutely positive that the other shops I want to go to are open, I got paranoid and looked them all up now.

Last night I all but finished my echarpe harlequin, the ball of wool is quite tiny now, and I should get it done tonight. Severely tempted to go and have extremely large and rich dessert crepes tonight, actually.

We spoke to Leo on the phone, he called to check up on us, and he sounds less subdued than yesterday, which is something.
posted by Ally at 4:12 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Great Free Knitting Patterns
Just a quick one to say that I have found this great site "Drops" - it has hundreds, if not thousands, of free knitting patterns in several languages.

I am making my list of yarn etc for my next Sunday trip to Le Bon Marche, I am going to be there at the minute it opens. Other places on the list are Brentanos, WH Smith, the supermarket, the wine shop and Au Nom de la Rose. Then I will feel that Christmas is really about to happen!
posted by Ally at 3:31 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Not to me, but unfortunately to Leo - he was going for a walk last night and got hit by a car, which then drove off. He was very lucky, it just got his leg, and there is a very deep cut that has required 40 stitches, but when you think what could have happened! The car just drove off, which I think iniquitous, and Alec said there was no way with that sort of deep injury that the car would not have known that he had hit Leo. What a coward!

Poor Leo was kind of left lying in the road, but he could at least phone Alec, and it was fairly near their apartments, so he got there quickly, and they phoned our taxi driver, who came and took them to hospital. She was great, and got them to the best hospital, and stayed there all night, and took Alec back to get pyjamas and toiletries for Leo, and then back home finally at 1:00am.

David phoned the Hologram this morning, to try and get the insurance sorted out, I hope at least that Leo is covered properly. Poor David is kind of overcome by guilt, because he was out running at the time, and he heard voices calling to him - it was Alec and Leo - but he couldn't see them in the dark and thought they were just calling out hello, not that something serious had happened! He says he has had a couple of close shaves while running, the behaviour of motorists here is really, really bad.

Part of the problem is that there are no pavements on a lot of streets, or, if there are, there are cars parked on them, so you have to walk on the road. But the Cypriots are not usually skilled drivers, which is amazing for the amount of time they spend driving and for how enthusiastic they are about cars. I have to admit I plan things when I go places so that I have as few big roads as possible to cross, and I wouldn't walk some places in the dark - not because I am scared of anyone I might meet, but because of the traffic.

Last night while all this was happening I am afraid I was at "Ty Couz", the Breton cafe near the hotel (round the corner and across a small street only) eating Crepe St Malo, which has ham, cheese, mushroom and egg. Plus two glasses of wine. I went back home at 10pm, and knitted for a while, then went to bed and had some problems falling asleep. Got up this morning, and came here to find I was the only one, joined shortly thereafter by David, and we sat wondering where Alec and Leo were, until the truth was revealed when Alec came in and told us about the accident.

We just spoke to Leo on the phone, and he sounds extremely subdued for him, but the doctor will tell him later whether he can go home today. It looks as though he will be on crutches for a while, of course....... we also just had a visit from the big boss here, to say how terrible it was, and I think he will be getting a few more calls of sympathy.
posted by Ally at 9:56 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, December 18, 2006
We are all frustrated, as part of the move to "O", we have had to tidy up our mail so that it is less than 1MB, and also change our passwords so that they contain 8 letters, including at least one capital and one special character. The mail thing is bad enough (I had 4MB, and that is not unusual), but the password thing is anguish indeed. David ended up with neither his new nor his old password working, and I have my new password working with Outlook, but not anything else. Then, to add insult to injury, we have to change them every three months - so, just as soon as one has finally remembered the old one, I guess. This move does not take account of the geriatric architects, it seems.

Last night I took out Motif Florentin and did a bit, not a whole lot, but I also finished the first skein of "Blossom" on my new scarf. This is good, because I would like to wear it soon, and also I have two more scarves and three pairs of socks to knit! Actually I have lots to do when I get back to Paris, and the first thing is to sort out exactly what I do have to do. I also tracked down the peach coloured Medici wool I need for Toccata 1 - it is discontinued, but Victoria Broad in Paris have stocks and are mailing it to me. Actually all of Medici wool is discontinued, which is a pity, it was nice fine wool, very useful. I suppose they want to concentrate on their horrible new threads and all that ghastly Senseo stuff.

Tonight may be a good night to have crepes, I am feeling rather jaded.
posted by Ally at 9:48 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Some More Finishes and A New Start
I was very industrious yesterday and finished Galons et Bordures, the first photo shows the effect better, I think, but of course the Cypriot sun is playing havoc with the light:

The full size is over 30 centimeters, I think, it could be used for a cushion or a foot-stool:
Also got out my crochet hook and attached the fringe to my Anny Blatt scarf:

And I also got out an Elle Tricote kit I have had for a while (fruit of one of my trips to Le Bon Marche, of course) and started that:

The yarn is Noro Blossom, which is a nice, tweedy, nubbly yarn, with lovely colour changes:

As you see this one is knitted with short rows, so that you form a curved shape which then drapes around the neck:

There are two hanks of Blossom in the kit, and it should be 160 cm long, but I do not think it will take a long time, what I have done so far is the work of maybe an hour last night and a few minutes this morning.

Unfortunately in the news last night and this morning, it warns of terror attacks over Christmas, and I am flying on Saturday. This is horrible, it means that everyone flying is going to be so nervous and upset, and it will be even more stressful than usual. I just wish these people would stop it, no-one is impressed.

The other thing that is bugging me about Christmas is the awful "music", I mean like the tape that the hotel is playing at breakfast, really horrible stuff like "I saw Mummy kissing Santa Claus" and ghastly versions of virtually every other Christmas song you can think of. Like "Let it Snow", which is simply not going to happen in Nicosia. Actually it is dreadful here at the moment, because there is piped music in the streets, the shops are open even today, and there are people staggering towards their cars with bags of all the most useless junk you can think of, I think every bad taste decoration in the world finds its way to Cyprus. According to Nicky, this has only started happening in the past few years, as in fact, in the Greek Orthodox Church, Easter is more important than Christmas, and there was never any commercialisation. They do have beautiful church services and carols, however, the traditions are very special. It was always traditional to have presents at Easter, so now the children here do well twice a year.

Actually I did send the boys off to Troodos to see snow today, at least I think I did, as I saw one of them at breakfast and he was wondering where they should go. They keep asking about snow and would it be too cold up at Troodos (it should be about 15 degrees at midday, quite sunny, and with light snow on the peaks only), as though it would be an Arctic blizzard, so I think its time they saw the truth for themselves. Neither has ever seen snow, but I think they have watched that documentary about the penguins.

Now I should do a little bit of work for tomorrow, then maybe some shopping, and then go home to do some of the motif Florentin.

posted by Ally at 12:04 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Catherine Agnes - Slugs & All!
Here is Catherine Agnes as she is now:

And a close-up (not real great quality) of the "slugs":
I did quite a bit yesterday, you see, and it feels good to have started the borders - definitely this is a 2006 finish!
I got up this morning and went in to breakfast about 9 am, coinciding with the exit of the boys from Singapore who were about to drive to Paphos in a hire car. They did invite me to go with them, but I am a bit wary of going with people whose driving skills I don't know about. Given that neither of them drives regularly, and when they do, it's on the other side of the road, staying at home may be the wiser option, when you also take into account the rudimentary road skills of most Cypriots. Especially as I technically don't have travel insurance, although the Hologram told me yesterday that it would be extended, there were two options and he should hear last night which was the one they were going to take. He also did tell me that they were looking at everyone else's days away from home to see if they were affected - although it wouldn't surprise me if I were the only one at present, as most people are weekly commuters. I almost feel sorry for him, he expressed some surprise that no-one was officially counting the days, you can tell he hasn't been with the company very long.
I plan to spend the day stitching and shopping..... also to avoid getting my wallet snatched, which is what happened on the equivalent day last year, David kindly reminded me on Thursday!

posted by Ally at 11:43 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, December 15, 2006
Later on Friday
Now I feel quite good, because I finished the bullion knots, I now have 14 completed spots, as I have fillings to do on two, plus the inner borders and the alphabet. So it is two fillings, plus the outer borders and the corners to go!

I also just called up and paid my Barclaycard over the phone, it makes me feel good to feel that I no longer owe them £1100 - this was from old hotel bills, and I have had the money for it sitting in my account for ages, as it was reimbursed on expenses. But I haven't been able to work out from the Barclaycard bill how I am supposed to pay an account that is in £ sterling when I have euros. Goodness, I just called them, and they said, we accept French debit cards, no problem. On the last day of this year, I am going to sit and drink a toast to 2006, the year that I ended with no debts at all. It was only thanks to the per diem allowance, and to determined non-spending, I didn't, for example, go on holiday or anything like that.

The thing is now, to keep it up, and never to get into debt again - not having a husband will surely help that, it all dates from his era, and we are talking seven years ago, so it takes a while to get over it. But I think one bottle of champagne for Christmas and one bottle for New Year might be allowed. Someone asked me about champagne and living in France, actually, an Australian friend, because in Australia we always used to drink local "champagne" (forbidden to call it that though), and I think it was about $5 per bottle on special. So she was asking how much champagne is in France, and is it better, worse, worth it etc. The answer is, it comes in all prices from 5 euros upwards, and not all of it is really champagne, some is made the same way, but comes from other places, like Alsace or the Loire. If I want a bottle for Christmas, I would probably spend a fair amount, up to 50 euros, but more likely about 30, just depending on where I go and what there is. If they have a really good deal on something that is normally 80 or 100 euros and it is half price, I would be tempted indeed. Of course this is more expensive than what I used to pay in Australia, but it is better, I have to admit, as I like really dry stuff with subtle but abundant and durable bubbles. The only other "champagne" I like is the NZ Pelorus, but actually this costs 25 euros in France as well. And if you buy NZ wine in France, you will probably get a lecture from everyone else in the shop, unless you put on a pitiful face and declare extreme homesickness!
posted by Ally at 4:19 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Well, we did get a release, I sent most of it back and departed here in a foul mood at 9pm... I can't believe it, I am still having trouble with addresses being printed on a report.

This is the one where first we couldn't get a report at all, because one Street Number out of 3000 was missing. Now it came out, but with a message saying "Street Number missing", no Street, Town, anything else that might help to identify it. So I say, this is not what we discussed. They say, well, this is what the standard address formatting algorithm does, it would be very complicated to do anything else, and take a long time. I've now told them I can't see why, it is only putting the information that is on the database on a piece of paper, and furthermore I have no way of explaining to the client why that is so practically impossible, so please start now.

I'm honestly not sure whether it is ignorance, a desire to avoid work, or whatever, all I know is that, when I was a programmer, I wouldn't have dreamed of doing something like that. If the client had wanted an address, I would have provided it, if it was there.

Also very frustrating is that I have counted the number of bullion knots required for the last spot on CA - it is 28! 7 per side of this "flower"! All I can say is, I expect I will have improved somewhat at bullion knots by the end of this (or else be able to embroider slugs most convincingly). I am really not fond of these, and I loathe people who say they are easy and do all those awful things from "Inspirations" that are composed entirely of them. I speak of the horrible white bears covered with the things, that type of thing. Actually I like quite a lot of the things in "Inspirations", although I've never made any, and I no longer subscribe, because it's terribly expensive in France, and they have way too many childrens and baby things for me. The bears and the mice are just too much!

One thing about the bullion knots is that I find them impossible to work in the frame, so I am glad I used Q Snaps, it's easy to remove them and stitch the bullion knots without. I am up to knot number 9. I suspect that daylight is essential, so I will be doing them between 2pm and 4pm this afternoon i.e. gap being client going home and it getting dark.

Leo was muttering yesterday about he really had to go to Lefkara, so I hope he decides to do this next week and take me with him. He talked practically non-stop yesterday, and must have made or received 50 phone calls - I said to David, was he related to the duracell bunny, and David said, at least the duracell bunny, while energetic, was quietly so. Leo doesn't sit in the separate office like the Dwarf did, he prefers to be out with us - the Dwarf was so status-conscious about things like this, and he used to close the door if he was talking on the phone, because it was all top-secret, of course.

Only 8 days until I go home for Christmas! I am so looking forward to it, even though Paris will be cold and grey, and I will be by myself for most of the time. It will just be nice not to have to think about work permits and so on for a while. Although there may be progress, Leo is talking to another lawyer, and the reason I think there may be progress is because this one is a woman, and will probably actually do something, as opposed to the previous one, who was a very arrogant man, who did so little that I was actually surprised that he could breathe unaided.
posted by Ally at 10:08 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Well, our release did not arrive yesterday, David and I sat here until nearly 9pm waiting, then went out to have crepes.......... result was that I went to bed at 1am, which is not really a great idea during the week. At least I did go to sleep, but of course I didn't get up until after 8am.

Now we do have a release, but there are some problems installing it. I can see me working over the weekend on this one, because I have to do regression testing on one huge new thing. They keep on putting new people on coding stuff for me, and it is a nightmare, because I mean very new, straight out of school, with no product or business knowledge. I had to explain in words of one syllable that no, the client did not want to be completely unable to get a Meter Testing report just because one property had no Street Number in the system, especially as the error message they were producing didn't actually say which of the 3000 properties that should be on the report was the one without the Street Number! And, no, the Customer Service Officers were not going to use Oracle SQL Developer to find out which one it was and fix it on the database! Normally I can cope with a certain lack of business knowledge, but this one was just a complete absence of common sense.

Last night I finished the third side of the alphabet on CA, so she is coming along, I even wonder if I could finish her before Christmas, but that will certainly depend upon the testing as well. And a piece of good news, I happened to look in my suitace this morning and found the missing colour of wool for Motif Florentin, it must have just dropped out of the bag, so I can do that this weekend as well. Once I have finished the last bit of Galons et Bordures, it is so close to finished! I am going to have about twelve finishes for 2006, that is pretty good for me, as it has been such an unsettled and busy year.
posted by Ally at 11:37 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Photos - Motif Florentin, CA
Here is the start of the Motif Florentin, the result just of six hours work on Sunday:
As you see, the colours are very subtle, in fact so subtle that I left one of them in its box in Paris, so I won't be able to finish it while I am here! The final measurement is 12 cm wide by 24.5 high, and Veronique has used hers on a cushion.
Now Catherine Agnes, as you see she is so advanced that I think she will be a 2006 finish:
I love the spider webs, I was quite careful with the Polar Ice silk to get them all slightly different in colour, and I think it's worked well:
The Mardi Gras silk is great for the lettering, I think it is a great colour:

And you see I have cut the threads in the corner spots, so weaving is the easy part! Still a couple of other spots to finish, including the bullion knot one, of course.

Last night I did go out (in the rain, we had rain!), just to the Breton Creperie near the hotel. It wasn't bad for a Breton Creperie in Nicosia, although the waitress did seem a bit puzzled by my French pronounciation of the items on the menu... the crepe complete was with buckwheat flour, although it was not as dark as it would have been in Brittany, but I expect that wouldn't be to local tastes. Then had a sweet crepe Suzette, and it was all washed down with three glasses of wine. I should make the effort to do this more often.

Plans for the next few days include a lot of testing, I hope, as we are scheduled to get a big delivery today.... maybe I will have to do some work at the weekend to get all of this finished before Christmas.

Labels: ,

posted by Ally at 9:14 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Back in Nicosia
I know I've said this before, but this is very likely my last "tour of duty" in Cyprus, I go home on the 23rd and do not know yet if I come back here after Christmas... it depends upon the work permit situation, it seems.

I just heard also that HR, to add to their other sins, changed our on-assignment travel and health insurance policy without telling us. Not only that, but it looks like the new one only covers people who are away from home for 270 days or less in a year. Guess who is up to day 276 now? I was less than impressed, and have said terrible things to the Hologram.

Paris was quite eventful, although when I arrived on Thursday, I was shattered, and I really thought taking my case up four flights of stairs would be the end of me. I bought food and collected mail (lots of good stuff - sock yarn, Quaker charts, charts for Whitman's tins, magazines, I will report more on things as the case arises), then went to bed.

On Friday I went to Le Bon Marche and bought a picture frame, plastic sleeves and - yay! - mesh bags. These are quite hard to find in Paris, actually, and I bought four quite large ones. Then upstairs to La Droguerie, where I bought two scarf kits, so more knitting is in store for me.

At Brentano's I bought a book by Effie Mitrofanis, a Jennifer Chiaverini novel and a fascinating book called "Yiddish Civilisation". David, predictably, is going to borrow this after me, I started it on the plane yesterday. So far I have got to the Middle Ages, and Europe is just a swirling mass of peoples, religions and cultures. I love this sort of thing, and David, of course, thinks it is wonderful that non-Jewish people want to find out abour Jewish history, but really this is relevant for every European.

Then I went to work to pick up more parcels, books from Amazon and a Christmas present from my sister. Then back home to sleep.

Saturday I did a bit of shopping, necessary stuff at Sephora and so on, then slept for three hours before our work Christmas party. The last one before we become part of the big new company. This was at Bercy Village at Club Med World, I was of course one of the three people who were on time! Six people who were coming from near Versailles did not arrive until 9:30 pm because of the traffic and there were three people sick - there is some awful flu going around in Paris - but most people eventually turned up. We had foie gras, medallion of veal with new potatoes and extremely rich chocolate tart, so not a green vegetable in sight. I went home at 11 pm and did not stay for the nightclub part, because I had to get up on Sunday morning.

This was for Veronique's class in Motif Florentin, which was just a one-day effort. The motif is of course Bargello, but in such subtle colours - four shades of wool and two of linen - I shall photograph tomorrow. Veronique's techniques are great as usual. There were just two other students, so we all had lunch together with Veronique and Jean-Louis, it was fun.

Yesterday I just got up late, wrapped parcels and went to the Post Office, it was to send the presents to my mother and sister, then I went to the airport. The weather was vile, so I thought the plane might be late, and in fact the incoming plane from Larnaca was about 20 minutes late, but that didn't seem to affect us, we boarded slightly late as usual, but took off immediately instead of waiting in a queue. Sylvain was with me, but sat further back (with a magazine I found in the salon, about luxury watches, which are his passion). One is not supposed to remove magazines from the salon, but knowing that Sylvain has this passion, it would have been mean not to, and certainly his eyes lit up when he saw it. They saddened a little when we got on the plane and I said, my seat is just here, and he had to walk several rows back! He is here now, talking madly with Leo about PD type things.

I will post some pictures tomorrow, I hope, of Catherine Agnes and the Motif Florentin.... goodness I am looking forward to going home for Christmas and sorting things out, and being in my own apartment for two weeks at a time.
posted by Ally at 3:15 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Supreme Irony
Yesterday HR - in the person of the Hologram's temporary assistant - decided that they needed to have signed copies of all the letters of assignment, never mind that I gave them a signed copy not long after I started this project. So I get this letter from them which says, among other things, "prompt submission of visa applications is essential, as the consequences of travelling without correct documentation can be severe". Of course, I write back to her saying I assumed this was supposed to be ironical in the circumstances, and now I seem to be in the doghouse for being a meany to HR. Funny, I thought it was the other way around...

Both Alec and I have colds or something, he said he slept for nine hours last night, which is unusual. I also left a heater on all night, which is unusual as well. But I went home, and started shivering madly, so I ran a hot bath (and it didn't seem hot enough), then I even made a cup of camomile tea, because it was the only sachet I had and went to bed really early, about 10 pm. I did another border of Catherine Agnes and finished another spot. Now I have 10 completed spots, guess which ones are left - the one with bullion knots and the one with detached buttonhole bars.

I am not especially looking forward to the flight tomorrow, since I am not feeling great. It is pretty unpleasant having to catch a bus out to the plane and climb up the steps. And I am not really rapt in small planes (it is an Airbus A320), there is not a lot of room. I am fairly sure I will go straight to bed when I get home...
posted by Ally at 10:24 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Tuesday AM
Well, Leo has just photocopied my passport, my alien booklet (yes, truly that's what they give foreigners in Cyprus) and my French resident's card. A propos of the alien booklet, Big Boss from London laughed uproariously when he saw it and said he always knew and now it was official! I gave him a look and said that lots of other people should actually have alien booklets in that case.

But it seems that Leo will see the new lawyer this week, I only hope that I will not get arrested coming back into Cyprus on Monday. It is also possible that Sylvain will be on the same plane. We are not getting a visit from Big Boss next week, it has been downgraded to just Sylvain. It is faintly embarrassing travelling with Sylvain, as he is in economy and I am in business class - if we check in together, he can check in at the same counter, but cannot come into the lounge, so I feel impelled to sit in the public area with him, and I hate this. Then of course we travel in different cabins, and I get off the plane and into the first bus, so we don't meet again until baggage claim. One thing, if I get arrested for not having a work permit, then at least Sylvain will see it and be able to do something (I hope, although I have a suspicion he would be useless).

On far more pleasant subjects, I was thinking about what pieces I should start stitching in 2007. Toccata 1 and 2 are high on the list, and today I read on the Elegant Stitch website that Toccata 3 will be released in January, so I think I had better get cracking on 1 and 2 as first projects for the New Year. I still have some leftovers from 2006 (lots of finishing, too!), and I will try and do another two UFOs next year.

This year's two UFOs are the Inglestone Sampler and La Ruche, the latter being not quite finished, but I will finish it on the plane on Thursday, I think. I'm going to get a frame for it at Le Bon Marche on Friday, and I'm sure I have bees and a suitable button. Next year's UFOs are going to be the Green Usak cushion and something else, not sure yet, there is a hardanger table mat that only needs fillings and some finishing. But there are some others that are equally worthy - although I probably only have about six UFOs, tops, which I think is not bad, compared to some I have read about.

David isn't here this week yet, he is at a bat mitzvah in London and won't be back until tomorrow, I miss him.... double miss Nicky, of course, but we talk a lot.

Labels: ,

posted by Ally at 9:52 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Monday, December 04, 2006
Finally, CA Pictures!
Well, I think I am not the world's greatest photographer, but here we are:

I really enjoy those Rhodes stitches, and the spider webs, but not the buttonholing... actually I did a lot more last night (three spots on the left-hand side), and have nine completed spots and two partial ones, plus the outline of the four reticello areas. I am on track to be able to do the inner borders on the plane on Thursday.

Today there does seem to be some movement on the work permit front - Leo, who is quite rightly fed up with the whole thing, is talking to some lawyers, so maybe by the time I am leaving Cyprus, I will have a work permit. Alec, who came on the plane from Tel Aviv last night, got asked at Immigration to show a new receipt - NOT a work permit, they don't care about that for him, but they want to know that he has paid a new application fee, since his old one is over a year old! I guess this is an easy source of revenue for the Cyprus Government.

Apart from that, I am still working away on meter testing.....


posted by Ally at 10:51 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Catherine Agnes & Other Progress
Yesterday I had breakfast, then went shopping, just bought a crochet hook and some shoes from Aerosoles. Nothing exciting, black work shoes, although they are rather nice and very comfortable.

Then I went straight home and basically did Galons et Bordures all day, with intervals of knitting my scarf and a small amount of Catherine Agnes. For G&B I have only the outer border of "cachemire en pave" - I think this is also called Cashmere Stitch in English - and weaving the threads in the centre, so I will finish it either today or tomorrow. Also the scarf now just needs its fringe. It has come out well, looks rather expensive, which is good. It is for casual wear only, being fluffy. I'll post a picture as soon as the fringe is on. Same with G&B, when I've done the last border.

I just downloaded the latest issue of "Gift of Stitching" magazine, it was a bit better than some of the recent issues. A lot of Christmas ornaments, some of them quite nice, including some Quaker ones from Olde Willow Stitchery, which I may well make. Most of the patterns in this magazine though are not normally to my taste, and some of the articles - there is a most tedious serious about a scientist who becomes a designer, I'm afraid I like neither her writing nor her designs. I'm not sure if I will subscribe again, I'll make the decision after I see the next issue.

I looked at my last post again, with my rave about the Dwarf, anyone who reads it and doesn't know the whole history would think I was crazy... but I've been thinking a whole lot about the issue of bullying lately. Of course, he wasn't just a bully, but also a liar and a cheat. I've found out that my old apartment's lease did not forbid having pets, as he always told me it did. He was a cat hater, in fact he used to say they were stupid, which he made the mistake of saying to the Big Boss one day. So he cooked this one up just to annoy me. What is really indefensible, though, is the way he bullied the kids from Singapore. The first little girl that came used to spend a lot of time in the loo crying, and she asked me for help, which really cut me up, because there wasn't a lot I could do. I offered to talk to her boss and get him to do something about it (he's a friend of mine from way back), but she didn't want this. I think in the end she talked to him, and she did get moved. The current two boys had only a few weeks of the Dwarf regime, but it was enough for them, I think. Especially the bit where he met them from a 16 hour flight and brough them straight to the office for eight hours work! I did tell their boss about that one, he was not impressed.

I've just taken photos of the latest Catherine Agnes progess - 6 spots finished! - but this beastly blogger will not allow me to post them!

My plans for the afternoon include going to Debenhams to buy a pink computer mouse, then home to read the Sunday paper and have a sleep. There is a movie with Hugh Grant on tonight, so I'll watch that while dsoing G&B.

Labels: ,

posted by Ally at 10:11 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, December 01, 2006
Words Fail Me
I was talking to the Resources Director in London this morning about the whole work permit problem plus some other things, and guess what he told me? The Dwarf has asked for me to come and work with him in the desert!!!! Of course, I accused Mr RD of making up stories, but he swears this is true. Naturally I said that nothing would make me do this, I would rather slit my wrists. It appears that Mr RD has told him I am unavailable, which I suppose is true, but I told him I would prefer that he had said I would rather slit my wrists than work with (sorry, I mean, for him) him again.

I actually cannot believe that this bizarre little gargoyle can tell me in front of a whole project team, including people from outside the company, that I am a useless architect who has put the whole project in jeopardy with my pathetic decision sheets, then a year later make a request that I come and work with him again. What does he want to do? Finish me off entirely! Or maybe he really is entirely insensitive and just doesn't think about anyone else, I actually think that is probably correct.

I told Mr RD that, actually in my worse moments, I have visions of the Dwarf being stoned to death for drinking alcohol - it's not allowed there, another reason not to go, because for some reason close proximity to the Dwarf induces near-alcoholism in even the most sober types. I'll never forget the night that David, Nicky and I drank five bottles of wine between us, watched with fascinated horror by Alec and the two from Singapore (who had all stopped at a glass or two). Normally none of us drinks anything much, so you can imagine the effects. But this was after we had been doing business process re-engineering with the help of the Dwarf, it was hell.

On more pleasant subjects, I did a bit more of Catherine Agnes last night, I now have three complete spots and three part spots. I hope to increase that tonight! I have decided I will do the borders for the reticello squares as I go, then do the cutting and weaving as the last of the spot work. Actually it is one thing of which I have no fear, I find all the detached buttonholing much more difficult, it is just that I think I will get the best result doing it like that.

This weekend, I want to do more of my Anny Blatt scarf, plus finish Galons et Bordures, as well as the stitching on La Ruche. Also I will come on Sunday, and finish one more section of my guide to meter management and testing.
posted by Ally at 10:59 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments