Tag: the Brunette

Egypt: Days -2 to 0

I left La Crosse on Saturday morning and headed for New York. Got to see the Brunette and Husband. Attempted to locate new reading material for the Brunette before he left for his next work trip (he’s picky). Met up with M on Sunday evening. Monday, M and I walked up and down Manhattan, trying on hats, futilely searching for interesting silver, and shunning the spring fashions that were just starting to make their appearance.  I’d been able to leave my heavy coat in Queens and wore only a light fleece. In January!

After one more meal we headed to the airport. Security was pretty standard, nothing I hadn’t expected. I’d now gone through two sets of airport security with knitting needles and no questions. For the curious, I was flying with KnitPicks Wooden 4″ Double-Pointed Needles, or as I prefer to call them, oversized painted toothpicks. I cast on a project immediately after getting through security in La Crosse and through 4 airports no one even asked what I was making. I did, of course, have extras in my checked luggage. 

We boarded and were happy to find that we had a set of three seats to ourselves. After a first round of airplane food, we read, listened to music, I did a minimal amount of knitting, we talked…the usual airplane time passing tricks. And we tried, pretty much unsuccessfully, to sleep. This was abnormal for me. I’ve been known to fall asleep before take off.  

Arriving in Paris at something like 4 a.m. Eastern Time, 9 a.m local, we hustled down the concourse and on to our next gate. I was bleary and my brain wasn’t registering what was said to me in English, let alone polite French, but eventually I gathered I needed to also shed my jacket (not just my shoes) and got my carry-on bag rummaged through again. We had coffee and muffins and eventually we shuttled out to our plane, where we boarded and waited for a couple of hours. No particular reason was given, so we all just hung out and eventually they said sit down we’re leaving. It was a full flight this time and we were seated next to a man heading to work on the oil rigs.

We’d left New York in the dark Monday and arrived well after dark in Cairo on Tuesday, total travel time about 16 hours I think? Whatever time it was, I was wiped. We shuttled to the airport, got our passports stamped, and started the search for our luggage. I also flagged down the car service meeting us. Luggage in hand we were passed through a couple of people to our personal car.

We hurtled towards Cairo, the guide accompanying our driver chattering a mile a minute about what we were passing and offering to set up various tours for us, which we politely said we’d consider. We arrived relatively quickly on Zamalek, an island in the middle of the Nile River, which is the richest area of Cairo and where our hotel was located. Zamalek is a warren of one way streets, abrupt turns, and triple parked cars, as well as the home of most of the embassies, including the one for the US.

M and I stayed at the President Hotel, which, we were told, is primarily a Canadian/European travelers hotel. Our room was relatively spacious, with a desk and a “comfortable” chair besides the twin beds with bedside tables. There was a mini fridge that we didn’t use, and a TV where we kept up on world happenings, mostly the earthquake in Haiti and the Senate race in the US. It was clean though slightly worn and we were very careful about using bottled water to wash our faces, brush our teeth etc. Our room had a view over the courtyard of the Chinese Embassy next door.

Now local, I phoned our tour guide arranger Mohammed, who joined us at our hotel to review the plans for the next four days. My one page of details and scribbled notes became the basis of all reminders and my travel journal. He also took us to buy water and sandwiches from one of the local delis. Fed and through showers, we adjourned to bed. Cairo continued it’s noise, the noise pollution of car horns, sirens, etc, said to make the city 8x as loud as a city of equivalent size.

We would sleep through a light rain and awaken at 4:30 a.m. to the pre-dawn call to prayer.

This is a Song for My Generation

Over the past couple of years, I’ve commented about the focus on teens and a lack of library service to young adults–which by my definition is people over 18. 

Following the discussions I had with people at ALA last summer, I kept editing and working on a draft about what kind of programs to offer, what focuses I saw missing, and this general issue of a lack of outreach to a big part of our tax base.

This morning I had the chance to express my feelings on a broader level. I entered the LISNews Essay Competition with the following:  Don’t Forget About Us. 

I wrote that essay for myself, for the Blonde and the Brunette, for AudioGirl, My Friend the Lawyer, LibraryChic, Sibling-the-Elder and Younger, and the other friends who look at me like I’m crazy when I suggest that they use their local public library. It’s sad when my friends will call me–two time zones away–rather than reach out to their local resources. Not that I don’t appreciate the validation that they think I’ll be able to find the impossible, but they have free resources closer to home. 

Holiday in T-6 and Counting…..

I’m leaving for NYC/Egypt in six days!!

M and I have been discussing vague travel plans for two or three years and finally, with the help of Air France Holidays*, we’re headed off to Egypt.

I have a long weekend in New York on the way out, which is never a hardship. And then–camels, 70 degree temperatures, a totally different cultural experience and a new continent for me!

So far:

  • I got my visa, which is a full page in my otherwise unstamped passport. Obviously it’s been too many years since I traveled out of the country.
  • I have arranged for a cat sitter in residence. O met Gypsy last night and it was a smashing success. Gypsy might want to go home with her at the end of it…
  • The Incredibly-Patient-Mother hemmed a pair of jeans so I can wear them with flats for hiking about pyramids and such. All of my other jeans are hemmed to two inch heels, so this was an important consideration.
  • The Brunette has agreed to keep my winter coat and some heavier clothes at his house so I don’t have to worry about hauling a down coat there and back.
  • We’ve arranged for a tour guide/driver while we’re there, working off recommendations of a professor in MN who is a native Egyptian and regularly takes student groups.
  • Wound up five skeins of yarn and bought new 4″ knitting needles to take with me. They’re TINY, it looks like I’m knitting with colorful toothpicks.

Still to do:

  • Pack some clothes.
  • Load the mp3 player
  • Get a larger memory SD card
  • Figure out what to take to read. I’m thinking about my hard cover of Anathem by Neal Stephenson. Yes, it’s heavy but I’ll be able to lay it out flat on the tray table and knit while I’m reading. Also I’ll pack some paperback romances that can be left behind.

It’s unclear how much web time I’ll have once we get there. I expect to mostly be off the grid for five or six days. My cell phone won’t work and I’m not packing my laptop. So the pictures and trip updates will probably have to wait.

We’re not sure if we’ll get to go through full body scanners on the trip home. It’s the one thing I’m concerned about as we’re headed home because we won’t have a long layover in Paris.

*The prices are amazing!

On the Flip Side

No, I’m not dead, just buried. Freelance work seriously picked up and then I went home for six days. Now I’ve returned and started to make sense of the disaster zone also known as my desk at work, and have hope that the living room floor will be reclaimed within the next 72 hours. And so I get back to my writing, yours obediently.

I had the chance, early in the month, to attend Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. It was a bit of a drive but the day was lovely and I was on a mission. At the Jefferson Fairgrounds I found two large buildings full of vendors with all manner of woolly goodness. That I succumbed only to some beautiful pale seafoam green alpaca, some tweedy alpaca, two skeins of coarser but delicious Icelandic wool and a couple of bars of soap should be applauded. Apparently I’m now collecting bars of great handmade soap, but at least it gets used and cleanliness/godliness and all that.

Also I met some sheep. There were a lot of sheep that looked like ones that I imagine in my head when I think of those wool-providing creatures. Then there were the ones as pictured here, who looked a lot more like goats that someone stuffed into a woolly pillow. Doesn’t that look like a fluffy Alpine to you?

The majority of the sheep were friendly and happy to discover whether or not I tasted like a salt lick. Fingers are always an acceptable nibbling treat.

I finished my first ever pair of socks! It came about entirely as a coping method one day, when I had so much running about in my brain that I quite literally could not do anything else. I sat and knit just plain stitches, one after the other, around in a very small circle. 52 stitches per row. Who knows how many rows because I didn’t count. Just one more needle, one more row. My brain ran on at insane miles per hour and my physical self worked stitch after stitch.

Now:

They haven’t been blocked yet. The yarn is Sanguine Gryphon Eidos in Alcibiades using the numbers/pattern from the Tsock Tsarina’s Tsock 101 Kit for those of the knitterly persuasion playing along.

And then it was back to Queens for two days of Indian summer and the first chills of fall. I stayed with the Brunette and Husband and new roommate. The Actor convinced me that singing for Rock Band, in public, was somehow acceptable. I made my way through Evanescence and No Doubt before it was decided that my rock repertoire was rather limited. (I knew this, they didn’t believe me. When Rock Band comes out with the 24 Italian Songs and Arias for Medium-High Voice version, call me.)

The Blonde, Brunette, Husband and I went apple picking upstate, in/near Warwick, NY. It’s a combination apple picking, rose garden (small but great colors), winery, and homemade donuts place. We stood for over 40 minutes waiting in line for fresh donuts and agreed that it was a form of unusual punishment to wait and be able to see and smell hot donuts but not buy nor taste lest our tongues be burnt. But warm apple cider donuts and great wine, as well as quite abundant apples, made it well worth the trip. (The two bottles of wine survived the plane trip home!!!)

Me in the obligatory “put your head in the cutout” –as required by the Blonde.

Finally, I headed into the City to meet up with My-Friend-the-Lawyer (who these days is more like My-Friend-the-Student, but he’s almost done with that) and eat amazing Lebanese food at Naya. The desserts were incredible.

So that’s where I’ve been.

But Wait? There was Monday!!

Okay, so I didn’t leave the ALA Conference Sunday afternoon and come flying back the La Crosse, I did see some of my friends from Chicago.

Sunday night, I hung out with the Brunette’s brother. He and I have an amazing ability to miss each other’s phone calls. It’s kind of uncanny. He’d leave a message, I wouldn’t get it until three hours later and too late to meet up. I’d let him know of plans, he’d call back the next day or sometime in the following week. Repeat for the entire 14 months I lived in Chicago.

But here, we managed to coordinate not only phone calls, but locations! Who knew? We wandered over to West Fest and then to Old Town, trading stories at ridiculous speeds. Yes, I even took a picture to prove the occasion actually happened. Well, I didn’t take it, but I handed off the camera for appropriate snapping of pictures.

Monday, AudioGirl and I set off for breakfast and then her local branch. To our mutual surprise and dismay, her library won’t allow you to place holds on materials if you have a fine on your card. Nor will they allow online payments so that if you want to place a hold and have a fine, you could discharge it from home. No, you have to go to the branch to pay. Her suggestion: “Make me pay when I pick up the book, hold THAT book hostage, at least you know I want it and will come for it!”*

Despite being a large and relatively new building, walking into AudioGirl’s branch felt like running a gauntlet. Yes, I know putting a desk where you walk in directs people to staff but it felt unwelcoming–this HUGE expanse of desk and nowhere to go but down a corridor past it into the computer area and be judged if we were worthy of using the materials. I suppose it was relatively similar at my old branch but at least there one could see books and seating area. Here it was all computer desks and it felt cramped.

I failed in the “are you worthy to enter” category. I had a covered cup of iced tea with me. I hadn’t slurped it at high speed because we weren’t actually using the library, we were never going past the gauntlet. But I got asked to leave with it anyway while AudioGirl paid a 60 cent fine and forgot to place the hold. We finally did put it on hold back at her house.

The drink thing both amused and saddened me. I understand it, truly I do. It’s an urban library, and there can certainly be a lot of food and drink issues. Our policy at my current POW is no “meals” and we do try to keep food to the “toddler snack” variety, which seems to go over with our patrons. What this means for me is that I don’t have to be the drink police and saying no. And to be honest, the last two big spills I’m aware of–both were staff members, both were in staff work areas, and one of them was me. I was just glad it was on a part of the floor that was linoleum, I was drinking a latte.

Following the library, AudioGirl and adjourned to a used bookstore for new-to-us knitting books and then to a large city park to bask in sunshine and soak up a lovely summer day with a friend. It was amusing to see from the bookstore markings how short a time good knitting books last. Both of the books we purchased had come into the store less than two weeks before and while they had shelves upon shelves of cookbooks, there was only one wee half shelf of knitting books. I finally replaced my copy of Stitch and Bitch, my other copy having gone to live with the Brunette.

Tuesday morning was breakfast and then back to La Crosse. The day was overcast, which actually helped. Driving back during the day puts me directly in the sun’s path and I didn’t really need my left arm to get completely burnt. I’ve done that once already, it’s not fun. I pulled into La Crosse just after 4 p.m. and was on desk by five.

*Note: Have since spoken to Madame Director about online payments and how it might be possible without the money disappearing into city coffers. We’re getting credit/debit payments, which is a significant start.