Thursday, February 29, 2024

Maurice and Maralyn A Whale, a Shipwreck, a Love Story by Sophie Elmhirst

 Maurice and Maralyn
A Whale, a Shipwreck, a Love Story
by Sophie Elmhirst
ISBN 9781784744922

After they got married in the 1960s, Maurice and Maralyn were feeling stifled by their suburban British life So in the early 1970s, they sold their bungalow, had a boat built, finished the inside themselves, and set off to sail to New Zealand. Because they wanted to be truly away from 'civilization' they did not have a radio on their boat and they planned a route away from shipping lanes. They were happy and content with life at sea until one morning, a wounded whale rammed their boat, leaving a large hole. In less than an hour, they were on a life raft and dinghy with what few things they'd been able to salvage, watching their boat sink. Thus began their 118-day ordeal, drifting in the sea, trying to survive.

This book is the story of that event, but also of Maurice and Maralyn's relationship, which is almost a character in its own right. The relationship they had with one another was the foundation of everything--the choice to go on the voyage in the first place, the way it changed once the disaster had occurred, how things unfolded after it was over, and more. We see a bit about Maurice and a bit about Maralyn, but much more about Maurice-and-Maralyn. Today there is more acceptance of those who don't fit well within the confines of conventional society, but back then--at least in the world of US suburbia where I come from--there was little tolerance for those who didn't want to live that kind of life. I was fascinated by their strategies for dealing with that and by their survival strategies when things went horribly wrong.

It's a great book--part adventure story, part love story, part self-discovery story. I devoured it and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Loving Little Scrappy Squares

 One day as we were coming home from doing some errands, Bill reminded me that he never took pictures of the cuddly poncho I was wearing, so I stood there, stuck out my arms, and he clicked. I finished it quite a while ago and I love it. I loved making it, love the way it turned out, and love wearing it.

There are 224 squares, all made on my pin loom from odd balls and scraps of yarn that I'd been given or found in charity shops, most left from other projects. I did a simple crochet border using yarn that a friend brought back from a Boston thrift store. It was on a huge cone. So far, I've used it to make a sweater, fingerless gloves, sock cuffs, and more and I still have some left.

I love my pin looms. This one has the pins further apart than most so I can use chunkier yarn or thinner hard held doubled if I want. I can also use a single strand of thinner yarn for a more open weave. The loom uses less yarn to make a square than knitting or crocheting would, so even small scraps go a long way. Some of the squares are plain weave but a few have a more textured weave pattern. All the yarn is wool, mohair, or a combination.

Both the weaving and the sewing together are very meditative activities and it's nice to relax into a project, play with colour and texture, and see how things unfold.

Monday, February 26, 2024

What Day Is It and Where Am I?

 Well, 2024 has been a weird year so far. The days have passed by in a blur. First, Bill and I coughed our way into the new year--that annoying tickle that pops up randomly and wants to hang around for a while, preventing sleep and being generally aggravating. By the time that was over, we had days of ice, particularly on one side of the street, so we didn't get out much. Finally that was over and I took my computer in to be looked at. As I suspected, the cord wasn't staying firmly in the port so it wasn't getting any power. Joe, the tech guy, said he might have the part but if not, he'd order it and I should check back in a few days. I did this and found that the one he had was a smidge too short. The only one he could find to order was in Germany and it was on its way. Three weeks later, it arrived and he sent me a text to say it was ready. Not only did he fix that, but he replaced some other cord thing and cleaned my crumb-filled keyboard--all for €45! It was nice to have it back and working properly, but my use of it didn't last long because right around the time I got it back, we started moving.

We didn't move far--just to the building that used to be in front of us. I've written before about the beer garden that was across the very narrow 'river' from our bedroom window and the extremely disruptive noise pollution that spewed forth from it. They've done a great deal of work on it over the winter so they use it more than they used to, although January was a lovely, quiet month. It won't be long, though, until spring and summer are in full swing and the crap starts in earnest all over again, so we started looking. As has been the case for a few years, the housing market is very tight (whether buying or renting) and we weren't finding much. There are way more huge houses than there used to be and we don't need a 4 or 5-bedroom house, even if the rent was affordable, which it is not. Still, I obsessively checked my list of websites numerous times a day and hoped something would come up. One day, I noticed that Bundoran had two new listings, so I clicked on them. Both apartments looked really nice in the pictures and one looked just right for us. As I read the description and looked at the map views, I could see where a mistake had been made. The apartment is not in Bundoran at all, but right here in Glenties. And I was pretty happy to see that they both were the apartments that our landlord was refurbishing from pretty much the bare walls soon after we moved to this village. He'd been using them as holiday homes/short term lets, but there was rarely anyone in them. Now he's renting them out on a long term basis. We immediately felt a surge of hope. We like the landlord and the management company--when there's an issue, they're on it. We thought we'd have a pretty good chance at the one we wanted, so Bill put us on the list and we viewed it a few days later. We think that this will help with the noise issue. I don't need silence, but I wanted it dulled enough to make my ear plugs and ear defenders actually work. This place has new insulation and a lot of it. It's configured in such a way that the bedrooms are on the opposite side of the building from the beer garden and there are walls and doors in between. In the old place, the difference in the noise level between the bedroom and bathroom, where the windows faced the source of the noise, and the living room, where the conservatory stood in between, was noticeable, so I am hoping that walls, doors, and distance will work here. It's also up higher than the old place, which is level with the bar. It's a gamble, but given the lack of options, it's one we decided to take. In any case, this is a better apartment. There are small things that make living here more convenient. The full size fridge/freezer means that I don't have to bend down and grope around to find things in a small under-counter fridge or think carefully about how I am going to fit something in there. The small hot water tank means that we don't have to boil the kettle for hot water, which makes doing dishes and food prep quicker and easier. In the old place, the only way to heat water was to burn oil and that seemed wasteful, particularly since it didn't stay hot for very long once we turned it off, so we just boiled the kettle instead. Everything in the new apartment is more energy efficient, including the heat, which is electric. No more buying oil. The insulation is great and there are these little closet things (I call them cubby closets) which are the spaces between the outside walls with their several inches of insulation, and the inside walls, so the place retains the heat well. The furniture is way more comfortable. And there are two bedrooms. We haven't had a noise pollution event since we've been here, so we don't yet know how it will be in that regard.

The move itself was weird, since we were just carrying stuff a short distance. There are a lot of stairs, though, and we have a lot of books, which are heavy. We figured it would be a slow process, but we were wrong. Some friends came over and everything except a few last minute things were brought over in less than two hours. It took a while to sort through everything and get it all put away, but we're pretty much done now. Tomorrow we do the walkthrough at the old place with the letting agent. I guess someone is moving in this week. On Friday, we gave it a good clean and put everything back where it was when we arrived. I am pretty sure the new tenant won't need all 15 of the wineglasses, but they're back in the cupboard now, just in case.

One glitch may have turned into quite a gift. When Bill contacted Vodafone to start a home move process, he was told that someone would contact him to set everything up within 3 business days. Those days came and went with no call, so he called them back and was told the place isn't wired and he should call back when it is. Then Vodafone guy cancelled our broadband in the old apartment right then. I called the management company and they gave me the info so we could log on to the communal wifi that was here for the holiday home guests. It's due to stop within days and the strength was weak, but between that and our phones, we managed. The holiday home wifi is eir(con) who are major rip-off artists, so we didn't want to deal with them (again). We also didn't want to argue with Vodafone, so we returned the modem and said farewell. In the end, we went with a small, Irish, family business called RuralWifi. The modem was delivered today. It took less than 5 minutes to set up. And just like that, we were connected. The strength is good throughout the apartment and the speed is good so far. I'm really hoping this works out, because I'd much rather support these people than the big companies.

So that's where we are and what we've been up to. I hope the first couple months of 2024 have treated you kindly.