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As P. and I approach the end of our stay in England, assorted thanks and apologies:

First (chronologically) to the staff of Virgin Atlantic, who checked us in when we showed up flustered and an hour later than we should have been. (G. had forgotten P's passport, and retrieving it took rather a lot of time. Good thing I built an hour of "something goes hideously wrong" time into the schedule.)

Second (though most importantly) to my Mom and her husband, who put up with a frequently hyper nine-y-o and his father (moody, broody, inclined to leave them with the kid in favour of doing tourist stuff) for nine days, AND totally drove us around and paid for tickets and bankrolled us all the way.

Third, to the waitress at the Lindesfarne Inn, near Berwick and the aforesaid Isle, for helping keep up with all of our orders, supplying me with cider, and lending me her pen to write postcards and things. I repaid the favour by inadvertently walking off with the pen.

Finally (well, I hope): to the change ringers of York, who not only enthusiastically welcomed a questionably competent ringer to Sunday ringing,* but then invited me back for practice.
At which point I promptly fumbled the sally and consequently broke the stay on the #4.
They did not have a spare stay.
And then they STILL were all understanding*** and supportive and mostly concerned about whether I'd injured myself (ans: not beyond mild rope burn), AND let me keep ringing, which was good 'cause that's traditionally the moment when learners totally freeze up and have to relearn like a zillion things before they recover their confidence, and then invited me out to the pub and bought me a pint. Ladies and Gents, if you're ever in Boston, I totally owe you Thai food.
And now I'm gonna go home and neurotically check every stay in the tower at CotA for signs of damage.


Also, mad thanks (though I hope no apologies!) to [personal profile] tree_and_leaf and husband, who invited me to Wakefield and put me up, so that I actually got a chance to hang out in person with Tree for more than half an hour.


* I mean, at home I'm at least vaguely competent, but they're intimidatingly good. Y'know, perfect striking, the fourteen-year-old who's learning to ring two bells at one, the twelve-year-old who's learning Bristol...and the fact that several of them can ring a bell with no stay.

** Once again, then stay is the chunk of wood attached to the bell that prevents it from swinging past the point where the mouth is pointing up.

*** Admittedly, they tell me this happens a lot at St. Wilfrid's, and the #4 is traditionally (both there and elsewhere) one of the bells that gets abused by novice ringers the most.
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OK, I'm out of materials for the Census, and haven't heard back from my bosses at BRCF so I don't have anything to edit either, so I'm going to catch up on blogging instead!

Yesterday was pretty fun. The day pretty much went pancakes - ringing - barbecue - more ringing.

Ringing pt. 1 was at Old North, and featured meeting various and assorted visiting ringers I hadn't met before/occasional ringers I see once in a blue moon. I tore out of there five minutes early, hauled butt to the train station and caught my usual train home,* and then NOT usually retrieved my car and picked up [personal profile] nineweaving, then slavishly followed Siri's directions out to [personal profile] sovay's parents' house for the annual ice cream churning and Grill All The Things. Neither of these exactly went as usual: they have a new ice cream maker (much needed), but the vendor had sent S's Mom a motor instead of a crank, so we just sort of sat on the stoop and watched the motor make the ice cream. And then we decided we were too hot (and/or too busy juggling toddlers) to grill, so we just did hamburgers and such in the oven. But a good time was still had.

I ducked out early from this as well to haul my butt BACK downtown for the annual rite of providing the bells for the 1812 Overture on the Esplanade.** Being me, I arrived waaayyy too early, and so hung out with people (inc. even MORE ringers I'd never met) and watched them eat dinner, since post barbecue I was mostly too full for the various yummy things that people had brought for the (equally traditional) picnic in the church courtyard.
Then ringing happened. [profile] lauradi got a video if anyone's interested, which features decent ringing and me looking emaciated. Apparently I need to eat more, despite my All The Muffins diet and effectively eating dinner twice that day.

The fireworks were pretty awesome, even without the bit where I think they were trying to reproduce the shape of the continental US in FIRE.

* Incidentally: a vote of thanks to the MBTA and all of their employees and assorted auxiliary people who did sterling work to public transit moving through a federal holiday.

** CotA is a couple of blocks away, and so we'd be audible from there if it weren't for all the soundproofing. BECAUSE of the soundproofing, there've been microphones permanently installed in the bell chamber since 1976.

choco_frosh: Konstanz, imaginary depiction in a map of the Swabian War, 1500 (Costenitz)
Various work-related $#!7:

Fustest: So my boss, after I'd told him I was leaving at some point in the near future, asked me to write out a letter of resignation, because the higher-ups had been asking for one; and so I did, but didn't specify an end date.
Allegedly, since that was the case, they are simply going to PICK my end date, based on when we get my replacement adequately trained. So I could be out of a job as early as next Friday.

The fact that I find it plausible either that my supervisor is screwing me over OR that the upper management of MRE are being a bunch of callous, shooting-themselves-in-the-foot cheese-parers is one more reason why I need to get out of this job.

As D. at bellringing last night put it: "I mean, it's good that you're finally getting out of there! But money is good too."
(Everyone at practice expressed congratulations that I was finally leaving this job. I guess I may have been bitching about it a bit. I guess they thought the bitching was deserved.)

But yeah. Unemployed in the near future. And...

2. I thought I was being hired by the Census. They're not replying to my emails, though.

3. On the other hand, it's a three-day weekend. Or, well, 3+ days, since [University]'s closing at 2 tomorrow.* And nothing planned on Saturday, 'cause practice got cancelled due to practically every ringer in the area road-tripping to Quebec. Anybody want to do a thing?

(Friday afternoon is going to be catch up on chores and make a strawberry-rhubarb crumble, unless somebody talks me into doing something more exciting. Sunday, of course, is choir followed by more choir followed by ringing followed by more ringing followed by Fall Over. Followed by contradancing. Monday, who knows?

More Later.

PS: Everyone remind me that I need to check twiddle pins!

* 3a. Supervisor, in one of his many questionable moves, is actually giving several people the ENTIRE day off; I volunteered to be the one to come in so as to have some leverage for taking half a day off NEXT week, to meet a friend of [personal profile] sovay's at his (ridiculously well-funded research-based) place of employment, in the hopes that having some of the people there actually know my face will increase my odds of getting hired there at some point...
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Gah, right, I never did that post about the rest of my trip to Maine because...well, if I'm honest, mostly because I've been spending too much time playing a bellringing practice game in my iPhone.* Have the condensed version of most of three weekends.

The rest of a weekend in Maine )

LAST weekend: Well, there were no horseshoe crabs (too early in the season), and I didn't get in as much ringing as I'd've liked (or talk Peter into seeing the mosaics), but I got to call the bells into Jennys and Peter and I made sand Pokémon and flew a kite, so it was a pretty ok day. And Sunday my copy of Ursula Vernon's latest unexpectedly showed up in the mail, so that was a pretty ok day overall too.

And I think I'm gonna stop now, because I stayed up til midnight on Friday devouring The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and I didn't really get to catch up last night, and I've had probably more ice cream than you should eat in one sitting, and so I think it's time to keel over again.

* I guess I also owe you a post on "Bellringing and how it is awesome but also horribly addictive".
** In which I was glad to discover neither of their cats had barfed, since apparently they'd been doing that...
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grumble grumble stupid pharmacies that bug you endlessly to get your prescriptions refilled, then only hold them for like 48 hours when you actually manage to do so, grumble.

Anyway. Another week has slid by, and I still haven't gotten around to writing up the rest of last weekend. ([personal profile] julian has been travelloging after the fact, so I guess I could do the same?) But tomorrow I am off to the Cape with a kid and a couple of passengers, to ring bells and annoy crustaceans.* Wish us luck!

* OK, you know and I know that technically horseshoe crabs are chelicerates, Order Xiphosura; but the older literature referred to all marine arthropods as crustaceans, and there really isn't a better word. And who knows, we may find hermit crabs or something.
PS: Limulus polyphemus is one of only FOUR living species worldwide? yeesh.
PPS: Limulus polyphemus is a really great name.
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Spent the entirity (sp?) of today exercising or doing bell stuff. [Spliced rope on #4]
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Amended: I forgot that, while I mentioned in passing that I was ringing a quarter peal* today, I hadn't indicated why this one was particularly noteworthy. The method was one called St. Clement's, which was new to a couple other people in the band; but the important thing from my end is that whereas in previous peals I was tenoring (i.e. ringing my bell last in every change), this time I was ringing the treble, so changing place every stroke, although that's still a much less complicated thing than everybody else was doing!
Well, we kinda, supposedly got the quarter-peal. We had to restart once, with me hauling frantically on the rope of the #3 to get back into lead; and even after that, it was pretty rough. There were at least two occasions where I thought I ought to still be in thirds place but everyone else seemed to think I should be leading, so I led and then it turned out I was right the first time; and once or twice when the opposite occurred. (Don't tell the Central Council.) But supposedly, we made it through; and as always, when our conductor proclaimed "And that's all!" I was left thoroughly incredulous.

Most of our band immediately decamped to various other commitments, but Michael and I--the band's two weakest links--went out and had a beer and a late/second lunch. Now I am tipsy, but should really be going home to get $#17 done...

PS: Yup, still countertenoring in choir.

* If I haven't mentioned before, a quarter peal is 45+ minutes of continuous ringing, including at least 1250 changes (the ringing equivalent of measures in normal music), in which you repeat changes as few times as is possible.
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The weather seems to be playing a multi-level April Fool's joke.
"Oh, you thought it was going to be spring? Haha, have an April Fools blizzard! No wait--psych! Snain. But it's going to snow in earnest tomorrow. Oh, you actually believed that? Ha, no it's raining..
Yes! Got you to go outside in street shoes with an umbrella. Psych! Wintry mix."

Meantime, in an interesting slice of life, North Station in filled with people in either Bruins jerseys or kirugami.
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This week at work, our copy center guy is taking a few days off as paternity leave...
Which means that my favorite coworker, who usually does the deliveries with me, is in the copy center...
Which means that I take over most of HER responsibilities, while still having most of mine...

And of course, this Would be the week when some random bureaucrat decides to play mind games with us, and then raises a giant stink when we (welnigh inevitably) deliver his package to the wrong building. Sigh.

It's that kind of week.

Oh well, bell practice tonight, then have a beer withe the associate rector; and quarter peal on Sunday!
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OK, I shouldn't ACTUALLY be so negative. I'm making progress, I'm (sorta) ringing Grandsire now, Plain Bob* will probably happen within the next couple of weeks. As I say: it's just weird when you remember when so-and-so couldn't put two strokes together, and now YOU're the one who's an idiot.

And I successfully replaced the clapper on the #5!** Go, me! (Now I just have to check to reassure myself that the weird noise it's making doesn't mean it's about to fall off again!

Now my job situation at the moment: THAT's worth complaining about...


After practice on Wednesday, went out for one last dinner at King and I with various fellow Ephs and [personal profile] landofnowhere: the latter bore up well as the rest of us swapped stories of how the campus has changed over time, and which buildings we'd broken into for kicks at some point in our irresponsible youth.

Plain Bob, like Grandsire, is one of the simpler Methods in changeringing;
although having just read the comments on an entry by the incomparable [personal profile] tkingfisher, I am now imagining that it is what she'd call her new property if she bought a chunk of North Dakota or something.

** Albeit with a lot of help from fellow steeplekeeper Ricki, and secondarily from Margaret, Austin, and Phoebe; none of whom have DW or LJ accounts that I know of.
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Whelp, it finally happened.

People who started ringing after me are now better at than I am.*

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My old client from Germany unexpectedly dumped a project in my lap a couple of weeks ago, so much of this weekend has been spent either translating terms and conditions from German, or procrastinating from doing same.*

I also found time to do a couple of loads of laundry, eat some extremely delicious curry that my roommates were kind enough to offer me, and start learning how to ring Grandsire.** Oh, and sing a Candlemas service, which at CotA experience. Fixing my car was supposed to happen, but instead they want me to bring it in on Tuesday.
Knee is slowly progressing toward healing, not helped by the fact that any pair of shoes other than sneakers and my now incredibly beat-up Rockports seems to make it worse. (My brother suggested trying insoles this afternoon: I may give that a shot.) But I managed a short run this afternoon, and it went ok. Not quite well enough that I want to try my usual 3-mile thing tomorrow, though. I think I'll go to handbell practice instead.

*Well, or "Stumbling around like a zombie because I procrastinated all afternoon and then stayed up til midnight working on it while consuming caffeine and sugar, and so only got like five hours of sleep."

** See The Nine Tailors, pp. 11-12 and passim in my edition.
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Apparently my raise FINALLY came through. My financial situation is still pretty parlous, though.

Meanwhile, the inevitable has finally happened, and I have found ways to combine my obsessions with doing graphic art and bellringing. So spent waaaayy too much of the last couple of nights designing a bell tower, to be built after I inherit $20 million and a place in the country (ha!), and part of tonight trying to work out if any of the bells ever ring the same sequence in something called Dewsbury...which I had worked out from first principles while on my lunch break, and then sent to one of my instructors with a note to ask Does this work and What is it, anyway?

She said that she'd never rung it, but it actually looked kinda kinda pretty, and she might make everyone else learn it.

Weather: 1" snow, much of which has now melted.
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This was the weekend of failing at productivity. I stayed up til midnight on Saturday, and I can't even use the excuse that I was shoveling: I was reading Dark Lord of Derkholme.

Oh well, at least I got some decent ringing in on Sunday?

[All of the above replaces a much longer and more eloquent post that the computer ate yesterday, grr. ]

Meantime, I've been doing physical therapy, and my knee continues to improve. Still swollen, but it feels like I *could* run on it--though it's doubtful whether that would be a good idea. My PT people say they're going to try modifying my running stride.
If I ever see them again, that is. That, I think, is going to depend on whether my insurance is gonna pay for any of this. [Right, I need to call some point.]
I'm taking the next two sessions off, anyway, because I'm going to be at Arisia. Yay!
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The weekend--and Christmas--are sadly drawing to a close, so I guess I'd better post a review of the latter. Written in bed,* because it seems likely that one of the things screwing up my knee is sitting at the desk in my bedroom for any length of time.

Featuring menorahs and unexpected gifts )

Ringing in the New Year )
Tomorrow I need to go to work. That seems strange, now.
Also, it means I should sleep.

* Well, the bits I didn't previously draft on my phone.

** OK, strictly Dad's partner El.'s house, but you get the idea.

*** Note to self: Yes, add butter; but not that much; do NOT attempt to mix lemon juice directly into eggnog and half-melted butter. (The thing came out ok anyway.)

**** I say "actually" because the first time I was involved in trying to do firing--July 4 of what is now last year--it didn't really work at all.
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So. Babysitters. In Boston, on New Year's Eve.

Going to be prohibitively expensive, right?


I'd been trading emails with G. about arrangements for Peter's travels after Christmas. I'd been hoping to bring him along to [personal profile] sovay's family's annual Latke-fest, which this year falls on the 30th. Sovay's Mom likes to see him; so, of course, does his unGodmother; and it's one of the few events I go to that's really kid-friendly. The plan was therefore: have the day off on Friday; go up to Maine on Thursday night, where Peter has been spending a couple of days with his Grandfather; exchange presents and such with Dad, go down to Boston, have Latkes. G. picks him up sometime on NYE; I go literally ring in the New Year in a belltower.

Since the key "Day off on the 29th" hadn't been settled til yesterday, though--and since G. had forgotten about the latke plan, back when it was in its very theoretical stages--she'd already made OTHER plans.

So I have a lot of feels about all this. About which more later, since I need to go catch a train.

Addendum, as promised )
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Open letter to Squigamunk:
I thought of you yesterday, as Ricky and I took turns trying to lie under the tenor bell at Old North, like mechanics under a really low-slung car. We were once again trying to replace a staple bolt, which is the thing that holds the clapper to the bell;* this time, in stark contrast to last time, Ricky got the nylock nuts came off the old one in no time flat while I was trying to get into the tower (past most of a cruise ship's worth of tourists), but getting the whole assemblage back in took multiple tries and balancing it on bricks. I guess last time I just had sheer dumb luck with that...
But anyway, I thought of you, because I'm sure you've been under cars on a good many occasions. And I imagine you would have been fascinated by the process. And yes, we could also have used an extra person to hand us wrenches...


PS: I have eaten waaaayyy too many Lindt balls in the past two weeks. I blame you for everything. OK, that's actually not true, but I wish I could.

(Actual practice yesterday featured me ringing "inside" on a method - Basto - for the first time. That made no sense to anyone but me? OK, I accomplished a thing!)

Meantime, the Dean of York has apparently locked the Minster's ringers out of the tower. WTF.

Anyway. I'm once again going to blow off actual housework in favor of jogging and spending more time in church (Evensong, possibly with Nineweaving, in this case.) This is how I roll, I guess.

* Strictly, the staple bolt holds the hinge-like jobbie to which the clapper is attached (via the clapper bolt, which is a different thing again) to the headstock... but close enough.
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Just by way of explanation in advance:
I've started a "Steeplekeeper's diary" on my Dreamwidth account. It's mostly for my own benefit--to provide me with a record for my report at next year's annual meeting, if nothing else. But it's also going to be a sort of blog-within-a-blog, for anyone who's interested in following along with what I'm doing (maintenance-wise, anyway) while up a belfry. So. uh...tune in to the original entry periodically if you're interested!

Weather has been autumnal...ish. Today got up into the 70s, though it was cold this morning. I cycled to the train station for the first time; hopefully my bike will still be there when I get back.

Meantime, my quasi-crush is waaaayy cooler than me. Uh, if you feel like it, write back and remind me of something I'm actually cool at. Between that and work, I actually need a reminder that I'm a worthwhile human being.
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1 Oct.: Assisted in replacing the staple bolt on #7 at Old North. NB #8 still to go. Nylon nuts are a pain.
NB: Antique bell fittings, lacking staple bolts, presumably work quite differently.

5 Oct.: Replaced the rope on #3 at CotA.
Mem.: fid
Mem: measure length of tail and height of sally on old rope first!!
Mem: drop most of the rope down the hole (by attaching to previous rope, ad lib.); through hole in wheel (check it's the right way);
then once around the first upright, coil around the two uprights til c. 15 cm. left, then TAKE UP SLACK from every coil EXC. the first one, THEN wrap, drop end through center, put under first loop around single upright.

Mem.: Don't do practice while hungry: leads to Int. -6

15 Oct.: Assisted in replacing staple bolt on Tenor at Old North. [See "Open Letter to Squigamunk"]

19 Oct.: Let rope on #3 down by about six inches. Mem.: measuring by height of sally above your nose is a useful technique.

December: Ordered new bolt from Whitechapel: Ricky kindly agreed to include the cost in his larger order for Old North.


15 Feb.: Finally got the clapper bolt off the new clapper of the #5. New staple bolt had arrived from Whitechapel the previous week, so now just need to find the time to reassemble the whole business, get the old clapper off the 5, and put the new one back in...

22 Feb.: Put the new clapper back on the #5 (Well, Ricky did a lot of the work: also props to Margaret, Phoebe, and Austin.)

To do:
- Go through the tool box in the ringing chamber ✓
- Go through the "Maintenance" section of the Tower Handbook.
- Ask if we need to start more ropes hanging
- Learn splicing [Follow-on book?]
- Repairs to gudgeon of #5
- Clapper of 5 needs a new bolt
- Check why #5 making weird juddering noise. (Adjust twiddle pins? Gudgeon?)
- Clean excess oil off frame of #5
- Shorten rope on #3
- Oil #6 - Ricky? Two person, afternoon job, anyway
- Organize bell chamber cleaning

- Talk to church about getting another 3 ropes (Eddie)
- Get new bolt/whatever for 5 (Josh/Elaine)
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1) Immediately before and after Readercon last summer, my reading focused largely on novels involving people trying not to (a) starve to death and/or (b) fuck their relatives.

This summer, it appears that the new theme is: women who discover, in the aftermath of horribly traumatic sexual experiences, that they weren't interested in guys to begin with anyway.*

Both lists feature ass-kicking heroines in some version of dark-age Britain.

1a) re: A Free Man of Color: That one chapter may have set some kind of record for greatest number of unexpected-but-shouldn't-have-been-unexpected revelations per chapter in any book ever.

2) *If* all goes as planned I will be ringing my first quarter peal on August 7! Sovay (and anybody else who might conceivably be interested), it'll be at Old North from about noon to 12:45 or so: feel free to drop by.

3) It is way too fucking hot.

* ETA: Oh, that and people getting supernatural protection that they hadn't asked for, from gods not their own, which none the less ends up saving their rear ends.


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