Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Palais des Nations, Sunrise over Lac Leman and the Alps, and Blog Statistics Humour


I've been an admirer of sunsets all my life, which comes from summers spent in Kusadasi and watching the sun set into the sea every night (my grandmother used to tell me and my sister that if you skipped a stone on the water and made a wish, then stayed silent on the walk home, your wish would come true. Now I wonder if she wasn't inventing the silence bit just to keep two young girls from chattering endlessly!). The sun rose over the mountains and its colours weren't easily visible from our house.

I've shared photos of the sunrise over our Swiss village before, and quite a few photos of the grounds of the Palais des Nations, Ariana Park, as well as of the entrance to the United Nations. Oddly, though, even though I've taken quite a few photos, I don't think I've ever posted photos of the sunrise over Lac Leman and the Alps before.

Before that, though, I thought I'd collate some random blog-related stuff.

First up, a new collection of funny blog spam. I last shared a few of these Funniest, Most Ridiculous Blog Spam Comments in 2012. Here're the latest:

I hardly ever check my blog statistics, I suppose because it's all I can do to keep up with posting and commenting; trying to curate my visitors and attract ever more comments is not in the plan right now.

Speaking of plans, I did notice that I omitted any mention of ROW80 last week. I'm alternately slacking on writing and embarking on a new reading goal. I've tried this before (180 books to read by 2015), but now that I'm more seriously looking into options for shipping our library out of storage and back into our home, I decided to tackle once again the matter of reading books I already own. Already since we've come to Switzerland I've attended four book fairs at the library and hauled home a bunch of paperbacks. What's the sense in doing that if the TBR pile topples over quicker than I can read any of the books in it? Best to keep adding to wishlists and not actually buying any more. Out of 60-80 books (it depends on the method of counting; sometimes I like to be factual and count every single book, other times I figure there's no sense including the books that I didn't choose myself and am not likely to read at all), I've already read five in the last two weeks. All that to say my goal for the next little while is to read up a storm. And then with a clear conscience get some of the books floating towards the top of the wishlist (the longer the list sits, the more the items in it move around, but certain authors always stay near the top), especially Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warning, and the brand new Julian Barnes, The Noise of Time.

Back to the statistics. In the last five years or so, the main search terms that brought visitors to the blog were the following:

borek, and it's accurate spelling, börek

jamie fraser

palos de la frontera

natalie wood

akzhana abdalieva

severus snape

yertle the turtle


cat with book

Some of these are only to be expected (cats, books, Jamie Fraser, and my recipe for börek). Palos de la Frontera is the port from which Christopher Columbus first sailed, and at which my character Rosa first learned the truth of her paternity.

Akzhana Abdalieva is an artist from Kazakhstan. There's precious little information about her online. Severus Snape must be because of my post entitled Severus Snape. That Is All.

Bonifacio must be due to the gorgeous photo of a ship in sail that I took in Corsica many years ago. Oddly enough, I can't find the post now. Comes from not ever having using tags in my posts. Sigh.

Natalie Wood I can't explain. The only time I've ever mentioned her is in reference to Rosa.

And Yertle the Turtle comes up in a series I was doing of famous authors and musicians and their favourite books; Dr Seuss was one of drummer and manager of Spirit of the West Vince Ditrich's picks.

Then there are the top ten posts, which are apparently the following (and oddly, peaked in 2012. I wonder if that's accurate?):

Dec 16, 2012

Now for the photos! Sunshine and sunrises across the Palais des Nations:

Also, sheep

Are you an admirer of sunsets or sunrises?
What interesting things have you discovered about your own blog?

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Year-end Knitting and Other Hobbies Review, including Outlander and John Howe

Part two of the year end reviews, this time for all other hobbies!

I had a very short recap last year of my knitting in 2014, and posted these goals:

1. Finish knitting three more cowls
2. Think about buying expensive wool to make, slowly, methodically, and properly, a gorgeous design by Kate Davies
3. Organise all our photos and print a few, especially for our grandparents
4. Bake more!

I completed 3, got a start on 4, and am still doing 2! The first goal got derailed a bit as the second cowl fell to pieces (I attempted to use a set of very thick circular needles, which didn't work in my hands at all. I need to tink (undo; knit spelled backwards!) that cowl and restart).

Items that I completed were a square for a joint project, a baby tuque, a second tuque, and two baby blankets.

The second tuque started as a pair of leg warmers, promised to Diana Gabaldon when she was up in Scotland, and cold... 

...it reached this height...

...and somehow turned into a hat instead!

If I had started both leg warmers at the same time, they might have stayed leg warmers (also if I had been able to finish them in any decent length of time), but one of the reasons why I use the Magic Loop method when (and if) I make socks is because I can't stand knitting something then having to turn around and make a matching second item. Much better to knit both at once!

 This is the start of the baby tuque; I shared a photo of the completed tuque in October.

Blankets one and two. Funny, I guess I didn't take a photo of the first one after I completed it. Will try to remember to take one after baby comes!

I only had a handful of blog posts last year, some featuring interesting knitting links, one related to Outlander, one featuring Geek Knits, and one on Tolkien Reading Day.

I also became a patron of Knitty magazine, and kept up my collection of knitting-in-public-and-literature references. Here's one more:

Edith Piaf knitting

A collection of other-hobby items:

Blog contests
Crystal's always featuring new authors! Back in December she showcased Jules Smith, and I won a signed copy of Sophie's Throughway!
A new author each time; see who she's featuring this week at Crystal Collier.

It was the anniversary of Charles Perrault's birthday last Tuesday, and Google had some lovely doodles:

And I got an Outlander colouring book and a signed (!) page of a Pauline Baynes illustration for The Chronicles of Narnia!

I just learned that one of my favourite Tolkien illustrators, John Howe, lives in Switzerland!

This weekend is Burns supper night, held to celebrate the life and poetry of Robert Burns.

Here's a track that features a line from Tam O' Shanter:

Gratuitous baby photo

What projects are you focusing on?

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Bowie and Montreux

David Bowie lived in Switzerland for a while in the 1980s, and (besides having friends such as Iggy Pop visit to write songs together), recorded songs at Mountain Recording Studios in Montreux, where Queen had also recorded (and the song Smoke on the Water was born.

We visited Montreux last month for the first time, as well as Chillon Castle (remembering Byron and Shelley's visit there 200 years ago).

But first, I storified the last few days' worth of tweets (it's not chronological, but it's not that important to read them in any kind of order. Storify doesn't clearly show what I was replying to in some cases, and in those instances I've included the original tweets from others). Black Tie, White Noise was the first album I got after the Greatest Hits, because it came out the year I was old enough to start paying attention to music on my own, following on from what I'd learned from my parents and the local classic rock station. I thought the Shire Reckoning entry was apt, for some reason. Don't miss the Neil Gaiman story or the photo from the International Space Station.

There's no tweet to show it, but one of the first lines I ever heard that stuck with me (you know, those random bits of lyrics and poetry that move with you throughout your life) was "put on your red shoes and dance the blues".

Canadian chalet at the Christmas market
The Bremen Town Musicians
The Alps behind the Chateau de Chillon
A brief history from Wikipedia: "The oldest parts of the castle have not been definitively dated, but the first written record of the castle is in 1005. It was built to control the road from Burgundy to the Great Saint Bernard Pass. From the mid 12th century, the castle was summer home to the Counts of Savoy, who kept a fleet of ships on Lake Geneva. The castle was greatly expanded in 1248 by Peter II.
During the 16th century Wars of Religion, it was used by the dukes of Savoy to house prisoners. Its most famous prisoner was probably François de Bonivard, a Genevois monk, prior of St. Victor in Geneva and politician who was imprisoned there in 1530 for defending his homeland from the dukes of Savoy.
Over his six-year term, de Bonivard paced as far as his chain would allow, and the chain and rut are still visible. He was rescued in 1536 by his countrymen and Bernese, who took the castle by force. The prison was residence for Bernese bailiff until Chillon was converted into a state prison in 1733."
Byron's name carved on the pillar to which Francois Bonivard was chained.
Byron's The Prisoner of Chillon tells the tale.

Hangman's noose (sorry it's sideways!)
The dungeons
Look out! A Dragon!
Freddie Mercury

I haven't done much worth reporting for ROW80. I'm hoping to submit an entry for the January excercise on the Forum (all about backstory and flashbacks), though!

How are you remembering Bowie?

Books I'm Reading and Finished Books

  • The Making of Outlander by Tara Bennett
  • Testament of Experience by Vera Brittain
  • Zoom sur Plainpalais by Corinne Jaquet
  • beta read! (JB)
  • ***Reading At Intervals***
  • Sophie's Choice by William Styron
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw
  • Burning Sky by Lori Benton
  • 12 Anne and Avonlea books by L. M. Montgomery (skimming/reread (this was free on Kindle!))
  • Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford
  • Istanbul Noir (Akashic Books anthology)
  • The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts edited by J. D. Rateliff
  • The Jerusalem Bible
  • ***Finished Books***
  • The Children of Men by P. D. James
  • A Daughter's A Daughter by Mary Westmacott (Agatha Christie)
  • A Girl From Yamhill by Beverly Cleary
  • Sunlight by Margaret Rucker (poem; floating in a cocktail glass)
  • Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
  • Preface to The Hobbit, by Christopher Tolkien
  • Ilk Defa... by Beste Barki (essays)
  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers (essay)
  • The Moon and I by Betsy Byars
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  • Rogue Warrior by Regan Walker
  • Beauty and the Beast by Villeneuve
  • Black (what was this? I don't remember!)
  • Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
  • Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. Awry (26 book collection)
  • beta read (Born to Run by RB)
  • The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay (poem; reread)
  • The Kraken by Alfred Lord Tennyson (poem)
  • Android's Dream by John Scalzi
  • The Mysterious Tadpole by Stephen Kellogg (reread)
  • Yashim Cooks Istanbul by Jason Goodwin
  • Miniatures by John Scalzi
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  • Kitty-in-Boots by Beatrix Potter (illustrated by Quentin Blake)
  • All or Nothing by Rose Lerner (short story)
  • Merry Christmas, Emily (board book)
  • Extra Yarn by __ and Jan Klassen
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Outlandish Companion II by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Outlandish Companion I, Revised by Diana Gabaldon
  • MacHinery and the Cauliflowers by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Dileas by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • The Gold Watch by Alistair MacLean (short story)
  • betty, butter, sun by Monica Byrne (short story)
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay by J.K. Rowling
  • The Very Cranky Bear (Scholastic)
  • various haiku by R. Wodaski
  • ongoing rereads of most board books listed last year!
  • see the 2016 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2016/12/annual-books-read-statistics-2016.html
  • see the 2015 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2015/12/annual-books-read-statistics.html
  • see the 2014 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ch/2014/12/books-read-in-2014-review.html
  • see the 2013 list and statistics at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2014/01/toast-to-professor-books-read-in-2013.html
  • see the 2012 list and statistics here http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/12/the-hobbit-review-and-year-end-books.html
  • see the 2011 statistics on http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011-statistics-fourth.html
  • see the 2011 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.ca/2012/01/books-read-in-2011.html
  • see the 2010 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2010/12/books-read-in-2010-listed-here.html
  • see the 2009 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-ii.html
  • also in 2009 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-read-in-2009-part-iv.html
  • see the 2008 list at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-ii.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-vi.html
  • also in 2008 at http://thegirdleofmelian.blogspot.com/2008/12/books-read-in-2008-part-iv.html