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December 21st, 2018 (11:51 am)

Santa's littlest helper is ready to roll:

In case it worries other people as much as it worried me when I noticed, I've since swapped the Mediaeval and Renaissance Drama anthologies, so they're now in proper chronological order.

I still haven't heard from the RSPCA. After a couple of days, I stopped being upset and started being sneaky -- "When they come, I'll tell them to check the shed" (because the door was stuck fast and I wanted it opened) -- but now I'm just pissed off, so, if they ever do bother to turn up, they'd better be wearing tin hats.

Last weekend, my brother and sister-in-law, P&K, came up from East Anglia, and we had our first Christmas of the year. I have a pathelogical need for everything to match, but I've always wanted to be the sort of person who can just throw disparate things together with exquisite taste, so, this year, I handed P&K an assortment of stuff and asked them to set the table. Here's the result, before and after the meal, with my niece's little son, M, at the centre of the second picture:

I think the table looks nice! Our second Christmas of the year will be on Christmas Day, and I'll try to do something similar, but I've bought a white table runner...

I managed to finish M's Santa suit just in time:

Joining the legs together and knitting the first couple of inches of body was a real fight, because the circular needle needs to bend into a figure-of-3 shape, which it doesn't, easily, and I had to keep pulling out loops of excess cable between groups of stiches. On reflection, I think the pattern's a bit bonkers. The finished suit's slightly big, so I don't know if M'll ever get to wear it. It would be nice if my niece put it on him and took some pictures for posterity.

I also made my brother a snowman hat:

(I've no idea whether people actually like getting the things I knit for them!)

Now I can to go back to knitting the blanket, which I'm making for myself so that's much less stressful. I've also bought some vintage dolls' clothes patterns from Etsy, which I think I can adapt to look more Lord of the Rings for Eowyn. On the whole, I'm a more confident knitter than sewer.


I promised some pictures of Krakow, and I took a bajillion, so here are a few, and I'll post some more next time. :-)

The crossroads near my brother's apartment has been torn up so that the tramlines can be replaced and -- in the hope of improving his chances of re-election, apparently -- the Mayor has decided to rennovate the entire line at once, so the roadworks extend almost into the centre of town.

There is usually a tram stop behind that big light!

Every day, we had to walk along the side of the roadworks, to the next crossroads, and catch a replacement bus. The buses were free but incredibly busy and, a couple of times, late at night, we gave in and took a taxi instead.

Here's a view of the Main Square, the Rynek Główny, with the Cloth Hall on the left. The Christmas Market was already set up on the other side of the hall, but hadn't yet opened.

Here's another view of the square, showing St. Mary's Basilica, the Mariacki.

Every hour, on the hour, a trumpeter plays a signal, called the Hejnał, from all four sides of the taller tower. It commemorates the alarm that was sounded before a 13th century Mongol attack on the city, and it breaks off suddenly, because the original trumpeter was shot dead.

All the trees in the square had been covered in lights, which changed slowly from silver to gold and back again.

The ground floor of the Cloth Hall is filled with little stalls selling souvenirs. (The Museum beneath it shows that its Mediaeval predecessor was also filled with rows of little stalls, though the things they sold were rather more luxurious ;-)

That's me on the right, in the black coat, with all the hair. My brother was trying to work out how to put the camera on a better setting...

Later, we went to our favourite little vodka bar to warm up.

We shared a taster tray of flavoured vodkas -- coffee, black pepper, black cherry, elderberry, caramel, and quince -- then each of us had a glass of our favourite.

They taste like soft drinks so you can easily drink far too much if you're not careful. In the past, we've seen the place packed with drunken and vomiting Brits, but now there's a sign on the door saying 'No Stag or Hen Parties', and they've raised the prices a bit!


A few more of the 100 Questions!

61. Do you speak a second language?

Sadly, no, though I did study French and Latin at school.

It takes me a few days in France to get up the confidence to try speaking, but by the end of a week I can generally understand and make myself understood, so I'm pretty sure I'd soon be fluent in a sort of pidgin French if I ever had the opportunity to stay there for any length of time. I can say the odd word in Polish and wave my hands about eloquently. And I was doing quite well with Ancient Egyptian* until I had to stop because something in Real Life demanded all my free time. Oh, and when I was writing Legolas/Eowyn stories, I did learn a bit of Elvish, but I've forgotten most of that now.

* Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs are brilliant! Once you know that

means 'poor, mean, insignificant', that

means 'man', and that

represent n, dj and s, you can see a word like

and think, "'nedjes' -- it must mean an insignificant person," and then you find out that it is translated as 'poor man, commoner'.

62. Who was your first ever best friend?

Denise, at infant school. She was tiny and fragile-looking, so I always felt huge and clumsy when I was with her. I think every close friend I've ever had has made me feel like Pooh Bear with Piglet.

Speaking of Pooh, with some of the money I was refunded after doing the Goody Bags for writerconuk, I bought this from Etsy:

It's a 1970s Soviet badge, and the vendor, who is Latvian, had it listed as Winnie the Pooh. I wasn't convinced, so I carefully pasted the cyrillic letters into Google translate and this was the result:

It's pronounced something like "Vin-ni Pukh".

It seems that, in 1969, the Russian director Fyodor Khitruk, who didn't know that Disney had already made a film, made three animated shorts, which you can watch on YouTube with English subtitles. They're wonderful -- 'grittier' than Disney -- and Pooh's song is particularly catchy!

63. Have you ever had an operation?

Yes, I've had four!

I was sterilised when I was thirty. I was very slim and fit in those days, and was up and about (though bent over a bit!) a few hours later.

More recently, I've had my knee repaired (which took a lot more time to heal, and then I more or less wrecked it again doing too much on holiday); I've had my gall bladder taken out (and woke up to hear the nurse saying, "She keeps stopping breathing, but it's okay because she starts up again by herself," and then spent the afternoon on oxygen, which I don't think I really needed but which was fun); and I had a carpal tunnel operation on my right hand (which was bizarre, because they use a local anaesthetic, and I could feel them working on it and mopping up the blood, but there was no pain -- the surgeon said that no one knows how that works).

64. Tell me about your favourite cousin

I have five cousins and I don't have a favourite. I don't see them often, but they're all lovely. One is ex-RAF and now works in security, here and in Germany; one lives in Spain, where he and his partner run a taxi service for British tourists; one is an engineer and does a lot of work in China; one is the funniest, bubbliest woman you could ever meet; and one is a real earth mother, fostering children and looking after anyone in need.

65. Do you have a piece of clothing that doesn’t even fit you anymore but you can’t bare to throw away?


My wardrobe is absolutely full of stuff that doesn't fit now but, you never know, may fit again, one day. My favourite is probably the slinky red dress I bought for the millenium. It's covered in transparent sequins, so it has that wet/snakeskin look. I had a good figure in those days :-)

66. Have you ever been in a musical?

I was in my school choir -- in the second altos, though my voice is naturally higher -- and we once sang Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Does that count?

67. Do you have a porch?

No, I have a vestibule. The inner door has coloured glass panels and, one day, I'm going to commission kazzy_cee to make a stained glass centrepiece for it.

68. How many times have you watched your favourite movie?

I saw the first Pirates of the Caribbean film about twenty times.

69. What do you order at McDonalds?

When I lived in East Markham (just off the A1, near Newark) there was a McDonald's Drive Through at the bottom of the hill, and my ex and I sometimes had a vanilla milkshake, even though we weren't totally sure it was vegetarian. Last time I bothered to investigate, McDonalds wasn't good for vegetarians. I think that even the chips were sprayed with beef fat to make them crispy.

70. Do you get on with old people?

LOL! Do young people get on with me?

Having said that, a lady who looked a fair bit older than I do knocked on the door yesterday and said, "My Dad took in this parcel for you..." So maybe I'm not as old as I feel.


The Christmas tree I'd had for 8 years died when I was away in Vancouver. I think it had got waterlogged, and the Beast from the East froze its roots. It had grown about 18 inches since I planted it, and I was very sad to lose it.

This spring (above) compared to last spring (below) -- and it has since lost almost all of its needles.

We have put it, still in its soil, behind the garage, where it can either pass away or recover in peace, and I have bought a new one, which is nice and bushy, and my brother's going to help me put it in a bigger pot asap. Then it will just be a matter of crossing my fingers.


Posted by: Karen (kazzy_cee)
Posted at: December 21st, 2018 06:30 pm (UTC)

I lost the Christmas tree I'd had for a while last summer, it just got too dry I think. I've bought another one to replace it and I'm hoping to give it a bit more care this year.

I love the idea of that tree changing colour. It all looks very cold but - vodka.....yum!!!

The knitting is lovely :)

I am waiting for the instructions for your glass door.... still....;)

Posted by: ningloreth (ningloreth)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2018 12:24 pm (UTC)

This year's weathers were obviously a bad combination for Christmas trees.

It was very cold (by our standards) for the first few days. I was in my element -- though I did have to wear a hat! -- but P&K found it uncomfortable. After that, it turned quite mild.

I keep changing my mind about what I want for the door. Originally, I thought fish -- like the one you made for me -- but, more recently, I've been thinking that a geometrical pattern would be nice. I have seen something I like, which I've saved somewhere (just as inspiration), and I've also saved the picture of your star within a star because I really liked that, except that it was empty in the middle! When my mortgage finishes, in April-ish, I will switch into renovation mode, and this is the first 'job' on my list. The kitchen ceiling is the second ;-)

Posted by: Maz (thismaz)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2018 06:21 am (UTC)

What an interesting read - so many subjects covered.

I do like the elf bear riding the deer.
And the knitted hat. I hope your niece does take some pictures on M in the Santa suit.

The Krakow tree is lovely and I do like the market with it's vaulted ceiling and cast light fittings.

Good luck with the new tree.

Posted by: ningloreth (ningloreth)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2018 12:31 pm (UTC)

I hadn't really noticed the cast iron lights until you pointed them out! The Christmas decorations in Krakow are generally very tasteful and well-coordinated.

Thank you! I talk to all of my plants, but there's something special about a Christmas tree.

Posted by: sparrow2000 (sparrow2000)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2018 09:22 pm (UTC)

The table looks wonderful, and I loved the pictures from Krakow!

Sad about the tree, so I hope the new one lasts as long!

Merry Christmas hon. I hope you have a lovely day and a great year in 2019 - without a cat... *g*

Posted by: ningloreth (ningloreth)
Posted at: December 22nd, 2018 10:58 pm (UTC)

Merry Christmas to you, too!

(It would be just my luck if Santa brought me a kitten for Christmas, LOL).

Posted by: Ree (reetinkerbell)
Posted at: December 26th, 2018 06:03 pm (UTC)

Such a cute little helper!! You made the teddy yourself, I imagine, and it works so well with the little reindeer!

It looks like a lovely Christmas celebration and the table looked very nice.

And how nice it is to see Krakow again, this time in wintertime (even though there wasn't any snow; is there usually?). And thank you for the link to the Russian Winnie-the-Pooh, I have bookmarked it - what I have seen so far, it looks wonderfully drawn (I love "properly" drawn cartoons, they look so homely and extra cute).

Best of luck to your new tree!

Posted by: ningloreth (ningloreth)
Posted at: December 27th, 2018 10:30 am (UTC)

Yes, the teddy was 'mine' from the ones I made for writercon, and my sister-in-law sat him on the reindeer when she was helping me decorate.

I'll be posting some more pictures of Krakow. I think there were a few snowflakes when we were first there, but then it got much milder. They've had snow since, though -- you could see it on the web cam:


It's just rainy today. (I saw the 1900 exhibition they're advertising on the banners).

I like the 'properly' drawn cartoons, too.

Thank you!

Posted by: Ree (reetinkerbell)
Posted at: December 27th, 2018 01:43 pm (UTC)

So lovely! Thank you for the link. :)

I hope the rain will ease up soon.

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