Friday, August 29, 2008
Friday --- Slow Day
It's the first day without Alec - even though on Friday, he is not normally here, it feels different. His things are still on the other side of the desk, because he will be back when I am on vacation, but I won't see him for ages.

I am terribly tired, and struggling to stay awake, I hope I can leave by 6pm i.e. I hope there are no errors with payments, bills etc today. I really don't want to be looking for duplicate records that have caused SQL 2112 errors and have to be found so that the accounts can be billed. My personal view is that these errors should not be allowed to happen anyway i.e. put error handling on every select statement where this could potentially happen, but it's not a popular view amongst the developers. Some of whom have very hardline views on things - I recall one of them telling me that, if there was such and such a data anomaly, of course the account should not be billed! Well, I said, my client doesn't see it that way, they are a company who needs to bill their customers for the services provided and the customers actually get cross if they don't get a bill.

Today I booked to go to a hotel on the coast, only 15 minutes drive from Larnaca Airport, for the Friday and Saturday night before I leave here - this will be a nice break, with a lagoon style swimming pool, etc etc, as well as closer to the airport, so I don't have to get up at 6am on a Sunday. I am actually thinking of flying back a few days before the official end of my holiday, and doing something similar, maybe for about four days. The prices are not bad from October onwards.

Tempting to sleep in tomorrow.......... let's see how late I go to bed tonight! I just intend to stitch and listen to an audiobook, the news on tv these days is all about football, I am not joking, as last night the first half hour was about one football game, then we had ten minutes of real news, then sports news, which involved the President of Cyprus talking about the football match!
posted by Ally at 3:18 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, August 28, 2008
If you had to choose, would you rather spend money on overdyed floss or hand-dyed fabric?

Actually I think my vote goes to the overdyed floss, I don't use so much hand-dyed fabric - partly because of availability and partly because I often seem to get the piece that looks very odd when I do order it specially.

But thread is another matter indeed - I have good collections of GAST and WDW, plus quite a bot of Thread Gatherer, Crescent Colours, Caron Collection, Olde Willow Stitchery, Needle Necessities and Dinky Dyes. The only overdyed ones I really don't like are the DMC ones, I think they should stick to what they do best. At the moment I am in love with Belle Soie from Crescent Colours and am seriously thinking of expanding to a complete collection of that. I tend to buy for specific projects and then fill in gaps as and when the mood takes me.
posted by Ally at 12:55 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Hornbook Aux Chardons
Here it is! I finished the Hornbook Aux Chardons last night, from La Sylphide Tocquee.... it is all 1 over 1, on 36 count linen, so I did use a magnifier for this. I don't think the photo is at the best angle, because it makes it seem as though the top edge has disappeared, but it is really there! I quite enjoyed doing this, but I wouldn't be up for a whole sampler of 1 over 1.

Today is Alec's last day here, apart from the short time he will be back while I am on holiday in September, and he has to do running around paying bills and clearing his apartment, since he is staying in a privately-owned apartment. When he comes back, he will stay in my hotel apartment, since I will not be there, and it will save me clearing things up entirely, I'll just move my stuff into the spare room.

I will miss him, I don't know when I will see him again. That's the thing about this job, sometimes you work with the same people for a long time, but other times they get assigned elsewhere. And it is tricky at the moment, because the people I have been working with are all experienced, and the tendency now is to separate us and assign us to projects with all new people, of whom there are many. And this is not always a great experience for the experienced one, I found this out in Paris, when I was just hounded by questions from, among others, the mad Moroccan. I really do not miss that girl at all! But she is only one of many, I haven't been too impressed by the other ones I've met, they all seem to have a huge sense of entitlement and a complete lack of willingness to read through traces and programs and all the other long and tedious documents that we have to use at times.

Alec says he is incredibly tired, which I can understand, but I am also incredibly tired, which is less understandable.......... I can only attribute it to the heat and humidity, which is not going to go away in a hurry. I really want to have a long, uninterrupted sleep, but when will this happen?

I've done a fair bit of holiday planning, and I'm making a huge list of threads, linen, yarn etc that I want to try and pick up in London or York, plus anywhere else that I happen to go during the three weeks. And a list of books as well, and other shopping. And lists of things that I will bring back to Nicosia after the holidays. Goodness, I am looking forward to getting away to somewhere cooler.
posted by Ally at 9:45 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, August 25, 2008
Monday Again!
Last night I actually had some decent sleep, I wonder if it had anything to do with the salmon and noodles I ate at Wagamama last evening? I think I will try and eat fish at least twice a week, and see if that makes a difference healthwise. Anything is worth trying in this climate, which continues extremely humid. I went for a 15 minute walk yesterday to get newspapers, and I was the only person out walking, and I came home drenched in sweat.

Most of yesterday, I sat on my sofa and watched the end of the Olympics, and also did a good half of the alphabet on my "Hornbook aux Chardons", which of course I had put down a few weeks ago when I didn't feel like doing 1 over 1. I also sewed up a pair of knitted mittens that I bought as a kit from Le Bon Marche last year - they are pretty, but Noro Silk Mountain is hideous to sew up. And I darned in the ends of a lacy Sari Ribbon scarf that I knitted not long ago, so that was quite a little catch-up. I have a couple of stitching UFOs that I should also do something with, we'll see. If I come back after the holidays, I should get a lot of stitching and knitting done, the way things are here.

Oh well, back to the grind....
posted by Ally at 11:20 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Ladybug, Ladybug
Here is my latest finish, the one I have been working on this week:

I followed the principle of doing all the boring green bits first, and it looked so dreary, then when I put the ladybugs and flowers in, it really looked lovely all of a sudden....

And here is the state of the play with the Red Velvet Building Blocks, I am getting there:

Not sure when I will get it finished, but definitely not by the end of August! That's only a week.....

It's also when my work permit runs out, and we should be applying for another one, if I am to come back after my holidays. Now there is a question about how long I should in fact stay here that is threatening to overwhelm the issue of the application, and this is very annoying. I am on the point of saying to everyone concerned, well, why not just get someone from Europe to do this job? As it's obviously the main qualification, and anyone European could do a much better job than I can. Then I can go back to Paris and live at home and work on the project there, without all these hassles. Scream!

On the more pleasant side, I have been listening to a great audiobook, "A Company of Swans" by Eva Ibbotson. About the daughter of a Cambridge professor in the early 20th century, who runs away to join a ballet company that goes on tour in the Amazon. I really recommend this one. I think it is actually billed as a young adult novel, but in fact I think it is too subtle for many of today's teenagers. I really don't want it to finish. If you like Jane Austen and "Ballet Shoes", you will love this one.

I also did go to the Post Office this morning to pick up my parcel, and it was from Loop, how impressive! The Handmaiden Seasilk laceweight yarn I ordered is beautiful, although winding it will be a pain, as there are 600 meters of it. I am thinking of making a lace shawl, there are some patterns that are not too complex, and could be good television / train /other mindless activity knitting.

Weather continues absolutely horrible, with 81% humidity, and over 40 degrees. Practically everyone is behaving oddly, there was a ghastly murder here last week (sister shoots other sister with hunting rifle in front of third sister, and about two streets from me, evidently perfectly respectable family). So many drownings also, including one in a river, which is bizarre, it must be the only river in Cyprus that actually has water.
posted by Ally at 12:49 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Some Spectacular Service
At least I think so........ at work today I got a slip to go and collect a registered parcel from the UK from the Post Office. And I am sure the only thing outstanding for me from the UK is something I ordered from Loop in London last Friday! If so, that is less than a week, which would be truly amazing.

It should be a Norah Gaughan pattern book for winter and some Handmaiden Sea Silk yarn, fruits of my browsing on Ravelry, which is fairly addictive. I want to try some lace knitting, nothing too complicated, but in silk for this climate, as it appears I am staying here for the time being. I intend to go to Loop when I am on my holidays in fact, and stock up on some more yarn. I have a shortlist of shops to visit, including Loop, Viking Loom in York, and a few bookshops such as Hatchards. I will naturally live on Pret A Manger for the week that I am there, although maybe I will go to Wagamama as well once or twice, and I have picked hotels with swimming pools, so everything is arranged for a proper break!

I have now heard from our lawyer in the US, apparently they have found a new lawyer here, and I should get to talk to him tomorrow afternoon - only on the phone, but still. Hopefully he will not be solely money-oriented as the previous two have been. He is an immigration specialist, and apparently only deals in this area, so that is a lot better than the shipping lawyer the company first hired.

Apart from that life goes on as usual. It is stinking hot here, I was thinking yesterday that we have had these temperatures since May at least, and it was quite warm even before that. Plus no rain in Nicosia since I can remember. I am never quite sure whether it is my hot flushes or the weather when I start to perspire in the office, but, looking over at Alec, I can see he is exactly the same on most occasions. He keeps on getting up to wash his hands, but it is so hot that one's hands feel sticky when they touch anything, inlcuding a keyboard or a mouse.

At night I go home and flake for a while, then I have been stitching this week, mostly on "Ladybug, Ladybug", I would like to finish that, as I hate having these small ones hanging around.
posted by Ally at 2:45 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
How do you balance your stitching time with your other obligations such as work, household chores, etc.?

This varies, according to what country I am in, and whether I am working or on holiday. Of course, if I have a lot on at work, I get very little stitching done, as I get home so late. However, if I am in Cyprus and not too busy at work, I can get quite a lot done, as I have no housework responsibilities here at all, apart from tidying up and doing a bit of laundry. No cooking, cleaning etc. It's quite different if I am at home in Paris, where I do all my own housework, and also have a lot of other things to do, as Paris is a bit more lively than Nicosia! Nicosia has no such temptations as the Louvre and WH Smith etc etc...

What do you do to your thread clippings? Do you just scrap them or do you use them in something else?

Oh, I just scrap them......... when I was at Skals, we were advised to collect them and eventually we would have enough to stuff a pincushion, but really! How long would this take, and wouldn't it all show through, depending upon what colour the pincushion and the threads were? At Skals we did have a jar for left-over threads that were long enough to do something with, and people could use this if they just needed a colour for a few stitches, that was quite practical. Same at Veronique de Luna's school in Paris. But these days, if it's just a clipping, I let it fall to the floor and someone sweeps it up (Cyprus) or I do (Paris).

Do you ever get to a point working on a project that you’ve had for so long, you start to wonder what possessed you to start it in the first place?

This usually happens when I am on the tenth square of pattern darning or one over one on 32 count! I know perfectly well what possessed me to start it - it looked beautiful and I really wanted to do it - but some of these ones take forever, and I do start to doubt my own judgement in starting and despair about the prospect of ever finishing. In these cases, the remedy is to put it away until I can get excited about it again. After all, it is supposed to be fun, and it actually doesn't matter if something takes me five years to stitch.
posted by Ally at 11:21 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, August 18, 2008
Not Quite Succumbed to Heat Stroke
I just realised I had not written a thing since last Tuesday, which is really quite uncharacteristic of me! It has been so hot here that it saps all one's strength, and at home I spend a lot of time gazing at men in short shorts (Olympics!) while sitting under the airconditioning. At work the airconditioning is a joke, it really doesn't work at all well. Alec and I both feel drained by 6pm.

Our Big Boss took us out to lunch on Thursday, after having high-level meetings for all of Wednesday and Thursday morning, so we didn't get lunch until 2.30pm! He took us to a Greek buffet up on the highway out of Nicosia, which is quite pleasant, with a good breeze and lots of salads. He did comment on the heat and how did we endure it? We took the opportunity to tell him it was essential to stay in a hotel apartment here, as opposed to a private one, because of the water shortage.

The main feature of lunch with BB was that he told me to stay here for another year, as that was the result of his discussions with the client. This is going to upset Sylvain greatly, as he had me all lined up to go to one of his lovely French clients for six months! I was a bit iffy about that, although I would have done it - really I would prefer to go to Alec's project or David's project, but I can accept that I am the only fluent French speaker available. However, I can't say that I really mind being here, even being the only one - as Alec is going to Tallinn. I can stay in my apartment, and I will be able to swim into the autumn. I will get a lot of stitching done over the winter, most likely. No housework etc. There are some good points, and I guess some bad (I could get lonely and depressed?).

So that took care of Thursday, and Friday I was so exhausted that I went back to bed at 11am and slept for nearly five hours! This may well have been the best thing to do, as Nicosia was totally, totally dead.......... no shops at all were open, not even kiosks, and when I went to Gloria Jeans to check my email, I was the only person there. On Saturday the shops were open, but practically empty, which was quite nice, as I browsed in Zara Home without anyone crashing into me, and managed to buy pink wine glasses, beaded white coasters, a strip of twinkly lights and a very nice dark pink knitted rug with bobbles and a crochet edge, meant for a baby, but just the right size for my knees in winter.

I managed to get quite a bit of my Red Velvet Buliding Blocks done in between sleeping and shopping, and I even photographed this, but my camera is at home and I am at work. Also did a bit of Ladybug, Ladybug from LHN, which I started a while ago and just put down after a few stitches! I'd like to get it finished soon, as it's only four weeks until I need to get everything sorted out and packed away. I plan to leave here on 13 September, and I have booked Eurostar to go to London the following week for a few days, I'm still thinking about what I shall do with the rest of my three weeks off.
posted by Ally at 2:22 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Indecision and Disorganisation
I am talking about my many managers, you would think that everything would be very efficient, what with Sylvain, the Big Boss, the Resources Director and the Project Manager, wouldn't you? But no, in fact, Alec and I were saying earlier how things really couldn't get much more disorganised. We had an email from the Big Boss today saying he would be in town tomorrow. Why, we wonder, as everyone here is on holiday? Except us, of course, and I really think he has come to see our clients and partners, rather than us.

The Project Manager has gone off on three weeks holiday, telling us the day he left, and not letting me know whether I should plan to return here in October. Then I get a request from the Resources Manager to know if I am returning here, because he has a request, presumably from Sylvain, for me to join a project in Paris on October. What do I know? I am actually a bit apprehensive about joining this project in Paris, after the last one that was there. The one where I had to travel for three hours a day and listen to people screaming in weird southern accents for 10 hours a day, as they picked their noses in public. It is not the same company of course, I (along with everyone else) have refused to go back there, but of course this one is completely unknown. I believe it would be closer to home though.

It would be very strange living in my own apartment again the whole time. I suppose it would have some benefits, especially concerning spare time activities.... I didn't really expect this to be a possibility, so I haven't thought about it previously. Every time I have considered not being in Cyprus from October, it has been more like, well, I may be in Poland or Estonia or somewhere like that.
posted by Ally at 4:52 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, August 11, 2008
Red Velvet Progress
Here is the latest on the Red Velvet Building Blocks, I have done a fair bit over the weekend, after a not very productive week:

The weekend of course was hot, with the sun beating down as usual. I had to go to the Post Office on Saturday morning, but after that I collected a whole load of water and soft drinks and put these in the fridge before heading to the pool. At least this weekend the pool was not very crowded, as most people in Nicosia are on their summer holidays now. Only a couple of local families with their footballs etc. I'm always surprised by how badly the local people swim, that is, when they try to swim instead of just jumping around in the pool - I can swim faster and more stylishly than most of them (and I am no expert, believe me!).
I did watch Olympic Games for some hours, as I have Eurosport, which has continuous coverage, although often of not very interesting things, like basketball, which I turn off at once. For some reason, that sport really irritates me, but everyone else seems to think it is wonderful, I can't figure this out. I quite like watching swimming and cycling, but I would prefer if they showed more equestrian events as well. The handball and football are also big turnoffs, they just seem to go on for ages, and thank goodness they have not tried to show us hockey yet. Maybe I don't like these sports because they remind me too much of school?
posted by Ally at 12:00 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, August 08, 2008
At last it is Friday, I am really tired and would like to go to sleep! I don't have a lot to do this week, and I am by myself in the office, apart from the client, of course. It is holiday time here, next week Nicosia will be almost totally empty.

Yesterday I spent three hours on the phone with Sylvain, doing my appraisal, goodness how tedious. And I don't think it was very productive, we have quite different ideas of how things work.... I still haven't decided whether I shall change groups and work for Yehiel or not, really I need to discuss more with him. The most I did get out of Sylvain is that I would not ever have to go back to the nasty French client where I spent seven months last year being totally miserable and never having a second to myself. Suzette has also told him that she's out of there when her latest contract with them is up, this is quite soon.

I have not stitched all week, I've been so tired in the evenings, so I hope to make up for it this weekend. I'm just hoping it's not too hot, but I think that may be a vain hope, so I hope also that there are not huge crowds at the swimming pool. It's not the other guests who are the problem, they are mostly middle-aged business people like myself, but it's the locals with huge families who like to yell and throw footballs around in the pool that make it a bit difficult for normal people. People can be so pushy these days..... there seem to be so many that think they are the only person in the world.

By the way, don't know who Anonymous is, but my opinion about music is just that, an opinion.... neither right nor wrong. Actually I prefer Kim Larsen way over any other (showing my age?), but he wasn't on the list!
posted by Ally at 11:11 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Random Questions.
What time do you go to bed?: Try to go at 11pm, but it can be much, much later

Do you drink coffee?: Yes, but not a huge amount, maybe two cups a day

What was the last song you listened to?: Songs on Carla Bruni's new album

How old were you when you got/gave your first kiss?: Can't remember

What kind of ice cream is your favorite?: Hokey Pokey

Have you ever met an internet friend in real life?: No

Are you/have you ever been anorexic?: Not quite....but I came close as a teenager

Do you know which US states don't use Daylight Saving Time?: No idea

What size shoe do you wear?: 39

Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?: Sylvain, one of my many bosses

Which is more important in your life, TV or Internet?: Internet

Do you have an iPod?: Two, full size and Nano, and thinking of getting an Iphone

Have you ever been fired from a job?: No

Have you ever taken something you knew belonged to someone else?: No

Do you overuse smileys?: No

Who is better; Madonna or Blondie?: Can't bear either of them

Who is better; Elton John or Billy Joel?: Elton, I think

Do you know the song Total Eclipse Of The Heart?: I have heard it

When was the last time you ate something?: At breakfast

Name three website you visit every day:: Ravelry, AngloInfo Cyprus, Cyprus Mail

Have you seen all of the Jaws movies?: No

Do you have Entomophobia?: No

Do you know what Entomophobia is?: No

Have you ever worn black eyeliner?: No

Have you ever worn blue mascara?: No, I wear green if I wear mascara

Ever spiked your hair?: No

How long have you had a computer?: 20 years or so, I think

Have you ever written something, and published it on the internet?: No, well, yes, I suppose this blog....

Do you have a crush on anyone at the moment?: No

Do you like Starbucks?: Yes, I go there a lot, they have good airconditioning and a wireless network

Have you ever owned a kitten?: Yes, many kittens over the years, my family always has cats and I wish I could have one now

Is it raining where you are?: No, not since at least last November

When was the last time you played cards? (not on the computer): Years ago I used to play Paitence with my grandmother, so we are going back over 20 years

Can you play chess?: No

Ever owned a pair of the original Nikes? (white, with only a single swoosh): No, I cannot bear trainers

Ever worn leg warmers?: Yes, in the 70s

When was the last time you read a book over 700 pages long?: Recently, I read a lot and often long books

How many people are on your IM friends list?: About 20

How many hours of sleep do you usually get?: About six

Have you ever drank cherry coke?: No, it sounds horrible

Do you prefer using pens or pencils?: Don't mind

Have you ever skipped for a long distance?: No

Have you ever had a black eye?: No

The torture is over, you may now leave.

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posted by Ally at 10:24 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Which Austen Heroine Am I?
posted by Ally at 10:08 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Back From Paris
My trip to Paris was fairly rushed, but comfortable enough, as I only took hand luggage both ways, so escaped the horrible wait for suitcases plus lugging stuff upstairs. I managed to do quite a bit of tidying up at home, washing etc, as well as shopping.

My squishy mail arrived, most of it at any rate, so I am well supplied with books to read, also the Shepherds Bush "Sail Away" kit arrived, all my red Belle Soie silks and the Romy Austria Sampler - which also calls for Gloriana Rosewood, popular colour that. I still have to evaluate the red silks I bought completely, but there are some good colours there. The only thing I was mildly cross about was that I couldn't find Millennium 3 (French version, it hasn't been translated into English yet) in any bookshop I went to, it is so popular. I totally recommend the Millennium Trilogy, but I think only the first one is available in English now. I am dying to find out what happens in Volume 3....

Today I came into work at 8:30am as usual, although I did not get into Nicosia until 10:45 last night. The plane came via Thessaloniki, where we sat on the ground for about 45 minutes, while they refuelled and cleaned, and people got off and on. It was one of those little Airbus A320s with one door at the front, so I could see everything that was going on and everyone had to walk past me to get off and on. They told us to stay in our seats during refuelling with our seatbelts unfastened, and on no account to use anything that might interfere with the process - so, of course, the first thing that happens is that several French guys go up the front and ask if they can go outside to smoke! Well, no, which they had to be told several times. So another lot of French people decide that they would like to move up the front and sit in business class and chat loudly during the stop, and protest vociferously when they get removed. Poor flight attendant who is supposed to be supervising off and onloading of food trolleys instead has to supervise French people!

Today is very quiet here, as Alec is in Tel Aviv for the week, he has a deep relationship with his dentist at present, think it must be root canals or something equally complicated and expensive. There is also no DBA, he is on holidays for a week, so I cannot do some of the testing I was going to.... I'll have to work out after lunch exactly what I can do this week, it may not be much.
posted by Ally at 11:22 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments