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August 2017

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political performance

Aug. 21st, 2017 10:18 am
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The first of the festival performances was by a cultural troupe that looked very Chinese to us - in their faces, hair, and clothes - and distinct from the locals. The music they were dancing to also sounded very Chinese. D observed that they are clearly happy to be part of India, which is not sure of all the tribes in the state. In the Tawang region, however, they are probably very aware of the oppression of Tibet. Until he said this, it had not occurred to me how political this performance was, just by the fact it was happening.

a different dance

After that there were speeches from the monks that went on far too long - the locals were looking pretty bored. (I forgot to mention: we were, as promised, welcomed to the festival as honoured guests in the opening speech.)

faces and schoolgirls and proud fathers, oh my )

After that there was another dance troupe, wearing tentacle hats, and then it was time for us to leave.

yak wool hats
Yesterday we managed to combine being completely relaxed with starting to explore our environs. After a morning of chilling, and a light lunch, abrinsky and I went out for a walk. Our plan was to go to the local supermarket to buy some kitchen roll, but first we set off in the opposite direction.

Our holiday property, a big square block that was once the police station, is about half way along the high street, so we are surrounded by interesting shops and buildings. There's a fantastic decommissioned chapel with a wonderful wooden door and short-but-commanding turret for sale, but sadly the deadline for offers passed on Friday, so our sudden interest in owning a Welsh chapel was short lived. Then there was a big old building housing an interesting looking café and a couple of shops, one of which was a secondhand bookshop. You will be unsurprised to learn that we went in the bookshop, and bought a couple of books. abrinsky, to our amazement, found a book about Mizoram, an Indian state on which we've found very little published in English. We snapped that up. When we got back we discovered that it's the memoir of a Welsh missionary woman in Mizoram after WW2.

My find was a book of crochet patterns, published by Batsford in 1969. I love Batsford's modern textile books (which tend to have lovely tactile covers), and their older ones are also very desirable. There are lots of patterns for placemats, table cloths, tray covers, pillowcase edgings, and other household items that are very much of their time. There are also some clothes that I would definitely wear:

Fab Batsford book of #crochet patterns from the 60s. Would def wear this. Find #oftheday

I'm seriously thinking of having a go at that or one of the other tops, but they are crocheted in very fine yarn with a 1.25mm hook, so I estimate it will take me around seventeen years to complete. This may be a good thing - a way of filling my need to make, whilst slowing down my rate of acquiring stuff.

abrinsky, however, rejected the opportunity to be a style icon with a crocheted tie:

But @abrinsky has refused the opportunity to become a style icon in a crocheted tie 😂

After the bookshop was St Cadfan's church, which is 1500 years old and very impressive. I haven't uploaded the other photos yet, but this head from one of the pillars intrigued us because it seems to be a woman, where all the others are clearly men. (We could be misreading, but we spent ages comparing faces, facial hair, and apparel.)

Face #oftheday #tywyn #stcadfans

After the church there were derelict buildings, ghost signs, a C20 Catholic Church that we couldn't get into and a plan to go to the beach. But then it started to rain, so we headed back and stopped at Dolly's where they serve delicious gluten free cake and acceptable coffee.

(We didn't actually buy any kitchen roll.)

honoured guests

Aug. 20th, 2017 04:43 pm
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We were keeping an eye on the time while exploring the monastery, and made sure we headed back to the festival in time for the opening ceremony. We were seated in the third row of the honoured guest area, and waited for an awkwardly long time for things to kick off. We were all being terribly British, by which I mean feeling excruciatingly embarrassed.

view from the front row

The festival was being held to commemorate the anniversary of the current Dalai Lama being awarded the Nobel Prize. It was to Tawang that he fled from Tibet, and there is clearly still a very strong connection with the town/monastery/district.

Eventually drums and trumpets heralded the arrival of monks and a portrait of the Dalai Lama, the latter provided by Shan State in Myanmar, we were told. Then the monks, actual important people, and much of the crowd came up to present offerings to His Holiness. The monks and others took photos, but I felt far too awkward to do that.

smoke and flags (bw)

so many things to photograph while we waited )

After a while D signalled to us and we sneaked out of the back of the pavilion, but we were asked to stay longer and watch the performances. To tempt us, we were plied with milk tea and plates of rice containing raisins and nuts and butter that tasted (smelled?) rather sour. (I don't know, but did wonder if it might be yak butter.) We were all happy - no, eager - to hang around, once we'd escaped the posh seats and could move around mingling and photographing.

Donald Trump described anti-fascist and anti-racist demonstrators who converged on Boston as “anti-police agitators” on Saturday, in a tweet that seemed destined to revive the still simmering controversy over his remarks equating the far right and anti-Nazis in Charlottesville last weekend.

“Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston,” Trump tweeted. “Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.”

But he later seemed to back the right to demonstrate, posting: “Our great country has been divided for decades. Sometimes you need protest in order to heal, & we will heal, & be stronger than ever before!”

He added: “I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate. Our country will soon come together as one!”

well that was a day

Aug. 20th, 2017 09:17 am
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Yesterday morning was going really well: being organised, packing, having short breaks so that it didn't feel like a rush, making salad...and then I mandolined a massive slice off the tip of my finger. abrinsky was his usual calm and effective self, dressing my finger, stopping me from fainting (I don't do well with the sight of blood, especially my own), being my personal packer, and even removing the extra protein from the salad.

I wasn't able to carry any heavy stuff to the car, and I really wasn't in a fit state to drive, so he packed the car and then spent four and half hours driving to Wales. He took the scenic route and it really was full of beautiful scenes.

drive by green

view from a traffic light

We arrived safely, by the sea, and found our holiday rental to be MASSIVE and very well furnished. The entire teeny cottage we rented in Northumberland in June would fit in our bedroom here.

My brother on the other hand, spent the day waiting for his kids to arrive back in the East Midlands from a holiday in Northumberland with their mother, before he could start his four hour drive (with bad back) to Wales. They didn't reach here until almost 10pm, by which time abrinsky and I were up well past our bedtime. But we bravely coped with exhausted kids, and exhausted brother, and eventually got to sleep around eleven.

Our plan for today is something rather more restful, involving no driving and no sharp implements.

On the plus side, I spent four and a half hours sitting in a physio-approved posture in abrinsky's comfortable car, and protecting my damaged finger in my sleep prevented flexing my wrist, so my usual neck/shoulder/hand issues have abated. Drastic measures...

In chirpier news

Aug. 19th, 2017 10:19 am
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The day after we got back from Helsinki, I was mucking out Bugsy's stable when I heard a lot of chirping and noticed that there were swallows flying around.

Having raised their first clutch, they've built a second nest. This one is in the rafters above the tack room (and, thankfully, above an open area of floor rather than anything that will take harm from having bird poo all over it!), which they're accessing by flying into Bugsy's stable and through the roof space.

I'm glad they're doing so much better this year!

differences in process

Aug. 19th, 2017 10:46 am
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The prayer hall was fairly large but the striking thing was its height. We've visited quite a number of monasteries, and few of the prayer halls have been high spaces. D pointed out the overlap with Hinduism, suggesting that the differences lie in process, not in the essentials. He also drew our attention to the Garuda above the statue of the Buddha in the prayer hall.
There were light bulbs, like candles, all the way round the hall. Drums and horns. Light and shadows.


a balcony for me

many of my favourite pictures )
to ask whether any kindly person was running

The Independent: Steve Bannon: Trump 'decides to remove chief strategist' from White House role
CBS live updates (warning: autoplays stuff)

"A person close to Bannon" said it was TOTALLY HIS IDEA Y'ALL, IT'S ALL PART OF HIS MASTER PLAN DON'T YOU SEE.

ETA: Recommended:
Thanks to folks at [community profile] thisfinecrew for links, and links that led to other links among the following:

Solidarity Cville: Donate -- suggestions and links for local groups to support

Indivisble: Stand in Solidarity with Charlottesville - Find an Event

The Nation: Here’s What You Can Do After Charlottesville

Indivisible: Are Your Members of Congress Doing Enough to Respond to the Charlottesville Terrorist Attack? -- though this is several days old and therefore lacks a script for HOLY FUCK THE PRESIDENT IS DEFENDING NEO-NAZIS (EVEN MORE) WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

SPLC releases new edition of Ten Ways to Fight Hate guide after Charlottesville attack

Politico: GOP chairmen resist hearings on white supremacy

They don't want it. Demand it.

[ profile] plaidadder: Three Democratic members of the House have introduced a censure resolution.

You can read the text here.

Censure is a formal reprimand. It is not legally binding, but it is rare, and Sends a Message. originally organized around a campaign to get Congress to censure Clinton instead of impeaching him.

This may be an attempt to accomplish something less difficult than impeachment; or it may be a trial run to see how many Republicans are ready to jump from the Trump Train.

ETA: Politico: Pelosi endorses censure of Trump over Charlottesville response -- apparently at least 79 Democrats have signed.

Not directly Charlottesville-related, but interesting and could be worth asking your reps to support:

H.R.1987 - Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity Act

To steal Wikipedia's explanation: "This bill would replace the Cabinet as the body that, together with the Vice President, determines whether Section 4 should be invoked. Under the bill, an eleven-member commission would conduct an examination of the President when directed to do so by a concurrent resolution of the Congress."

(Which, basically, shifts the power to forcibly 25th-Amendment the President back towards Congress to a greater degree, as opposed to depending entirely on the Cabinet which that President apppointed.)

nothing undecorated

Aug. 18th, 2017 01:39 pm
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Our guide had got word that there was going to be a small festival outside the monastery that day. We stopped at the monastery gate and found the festival ground immediately adjacent. Everything was still being set up, and the organisers came over to tell us the start time. They also wanted to know where we were from, so that we could be officially welcomed in the opening speech. They insisted we return for the opening and sit in the area for honoured guests. Fortunately, we had time to visit the monastery first, and brace ourselves for being accorded an honour of which we felt completely undeserving.

Prayers large and small

prayers large and small

prayers in every colour; prayers close to heaven )

The monastery complex is huge. We knew it must be, given the way it dominated the view from our hotel, but we only truly realised the scale once we started walking around.

small monks


all my favourite colours )

And textures too. (One of my favourite images from the trip.)


It included a vast library and a newly converted medical centre with the best windows )

The museum contained some pretty old artefacts, including clothing in a tragically pool state and needing some proper conservation. (I have decided that if I have my time all over again I'm going to be a textile historian/conservator.)

museum objects )

marking the spot

Aug. 18th, 2017 12:27 pm
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[personal profile] lamentables
This is a braindump of randomness.

x #oftheday

My tendinopathy is healing, if more slowly than I would like. My physio's recommendation that I have my vitamin B12 level checked turned out to be a good call. My level is borderline, currently not quite low enough to require treatment, according to my GP, but definitely low enough to require monitoring. More testing in December. Reading what the Internet has to offer on the subject indicates that my age, taking metformin for diabetes, and taking a proton pump inhibitor for acid reflux are all factors that might lead to reduced B12 levels.
My physio has now also assessed me for the pain, numbness, and pins-and-needles in my hand, which has gradually got bad enough to interfere with my sleep. It a problem that starts with my neck (C6), but one that should be easily fixed. I've ordered a wrist brace to wear in bed for possible carpal tunnel issues (I flex my wrists a lot in my sleep). I've got exercises to do with my arm and neck. And I've got very strict instructions about my posture, not sitting too long, and not slumping. Apparently I have the beginnings of a hump from spending so much of my life hunched over for work and play. Shoulders back!

The historian Mary Beard has the twitter handle @wmarybeard. I read this as 'WilliamandMary Beard'. Every time. A misspent youth reading 1066 And All That, is probably to blame.

Henry, the white cat, continues to visit and make himself at home, taking advantage of the catering facilities, enjoying the companionship of The Princess, and asking abrinsky and I for attention if we're around. He's a real cutie. On Monday evening his dad came round looking for him because he had a vet appointment and had conveniently disappeared. His dad assured me that he's well-cared for at home, not that I doubted it.

We are leaving tomorrow lunchtime for a week by the sea in Wales. Today we are engaged in the sort of leisurely preparations that feel both productive and more like pleasure than chores. I'm roasting ALL the veg, so that we can use them as salad (carrots, beetroot, sweet potato) or ingredients in cooked dishes. I've roasted aubergines to a purée, in which state I find them a very useful ingredient. I've just got some roasted peppers out of the oven and put them in a box so their skins will just slide off when they've cooled. Then I shall slice them finely and keep them in the fridge in oil - perfect for adding to salads, oil and all. (I can't eat raw peppers because the skin disagrees with me terribly, and anyway I love the sweetness that comes with roasting.) The roasted fennel is an experiment.
I might make some lemon polenta cake this afternoon.
I'm also doing a bit of ironing. I'm learning to love ironing as a way of getting to know my clothes, keeping an eye out for essential maintenance, seeing how they wear and change. So that doesn't feel like a burden any more.
And I'm thinking about which books and which crafty things I shall take with me. That's always a pleasure.
I like to thing that this is what life will be like when we retire. I'm looking forward to it.

When I asked our neighbour to look after our cats next week, he asked me to walk Percy for a week next month. Fair exchange.

Last week I completed the most onerous task that was still hanging over me, as part of my charity work. I was SO RELIEVED. And then unexpectedly found myself feeling massively sad about it all. Not regretful, just sad. I'm also pretty sad that none of my fellow trustees have been in touch to say...anything at all...about the fact I'm leaving. That has made me sad and hurt and confirmed I've made the right decision.
It remains true I have learned an awful lot in the last five years, grown a lot, and benefited from working with some truly awesome women. I get to keep that forever.
Monday is my birthday, and to celebrate Jane is going to show me around Paris for a long weekend. We're off tomorrow morning, and arriving back on my actual Birthday (Monday), which is _also_ the anniversary of the first time she hugged me (after she came to the airport to meet me off the plane back from my trip around the Southlands).

I arrived home to discover that she had made this wonder in the living room:

And I am looking forward to being allowed to open any of the things underneath it!

(Jim is being left with strict instructions that he is not allowed to eat any of the boxes. Or the tree. Or be sick on any of them. Or peek inside.)