Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Today you get thought hot off my brain, as long as I can remember what it was I was going to say! Some may know I have a Masters in Linguistics, or that I was ABD (All but dissertation) on the road to a PhD in Linguistics. My field was sociolinguistocs which usually got short shrift in formal linguistics because of the reign of Noam Chomsky, with whom I disagree almost entirely. Chomsky viewed what actually came out of the mouths of speakers as insignificant compared the the black box of language in the brain. Besides the fact that brain research has shown that language is not a black box (read Oliver Saks) unless you consider the brain as a whole as the black box, you know as well as I do that people from different places speak the same language differently. Most commonly this is in pronunciation. I have learned how to spot a Kiwi (New Zealander) in 25 words or less. There are certain phrases that Aussies quote as telling signs, but I hear it in the change of different vowels. "Definite" come out as "difinit"

I've been collecting Australianisms since I got here and add new ones every week. Last week I heard "the duck's guts" meaning "everything" or maybe "kit and caboodle". Now I didn't stop and quiz the speaker about whether this was something his mother said and where she was from, but this was new to me. To Americans, "to take a squiz" or "hit for six" may be as mysterious, but they are now as part of my vocabulary as "the whole nine yards".

What prompted today's post was reading Meg Swanson, who is practically a god to us knitters, write about the enormity of Elizabeth Zimmerman's contribution to knitting. I should give up on "enormity" whose dictionary meaning (Mirriam-Webster) is "
an outrageous, improper, vicious, or immoral act" but is almost universally used today as "a huge amount". I can see people needing a noun to use from "enormous" but "enormity" ain't it. But I might as well forget it as I have forgot my battle over less vs. fewer. In linguistics classes, especially grammar and meaning forums, you would frequently be given sentences that you could signify as ungrammatical, and in papers read in conferences votes could be taken about whether sentences were grammatical or not (and what about that black box, Noam?). I have to restrain myself from correcting people or even grilling them on where a phrase came from (dialectology, very not-black-box). Written language is even worse and it's not just non=native speakers who mangle it. Yesterday I got an email from the Library's own book store apologozing for getting a "sir name" wrong.

I've got a lot of phrases from my mother, but I've lived in Australia long enough that I can't even tell now whether I'm using American or Aussie terms for things. I remember my first problem with "haberdashery" which in the US means men's clothing but here means what Yanks would call "notions", those extra bits and pieces for sewing, like tape measures and needles. Americans rarely lose their accents here, but my vocabulary is a dog's breakfast at the moment.

I am also crushed to find out that the only day President Obama will be in Canberra will be the day after my knee surgery. I was ready to stand outside the US embassy and wave a flag but I won't be able to now. I'll be physically close since the hospital is just a mile away but not good enough. Rats.

Another friend is now fighting cancer, and I have been told I better get used to this as I get older. There are a few people my age or older who are disgustingy healthy but for the most part nearly every one I know of my age has some medical condition that they are battling. I know our genetics is not wired for us to live this long, so naturally things start to fail with age. Medical science can keep us alive longer (see BFLB's blog) but the cost in dollars and angst and pain is not insignificant.

Apologies that the Weather Pixie seems to have disappeared again. I haven't removed the link in hopes that the site revives as has happened before.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Today you get photos. Above is the result of my spinning some of that really long alpaca I showed you before. I spun directly from the locks and it was pretty easy and it seems to be a really firm yarn, due to the very long fibres. I may try it as warp for a scarf.

Next is a shot of my crepe myrtle, one of the many things planted by the precious homeowner in ridiculous places. This is between the two driveways with my next door neighbour. The drought has been so bad it hasn't bloomed in years but all the rain that we have had here has finally coaxed it to bloom. It's right against a utility pole as well, and sometimes gets the not very gentle attention of utility folks. The other pink shrub in front is an oleander which blooms no matter what the weather.

Since I've mentioned rain, I'll tell you that we got 60 mm. in one day this weekend. Thunderstorms and lightning (very very frightening) (sorry, I couldn't help it) and torrential rain. My back yard was soggy and no lawn mowing got done. Today was supposed to be sunny but isn't; it's overcast and breezy and I hope we get some sun because the lawn now needs to be mowed. I have larvested some more potatoes, and continue to get tomatoes.

And here is my main knitting project at the moment, the X & O vest from Folk Vests, knit in a mohair and natural brown wool given to me by BFLB. It's knit in the round, and around me is a long way. Each row seems to take forever. I need 6 repeats of the X and O cables to get to the armholes, and I've done 2. I'm using my Knitpicks Options needles with a long cord.

I am very dissatisfied with how much weight I've gained. Back to what I was before I went on a brand name diet and lost 30 kg. I am not eating all that much and don't snack but I know it's because I am not getting enough exercise. The problem at this particular point is that exercise, even walking, makes my leg muscles spasm and hurt. This is only solved by rest. Only 11 days to my surgery and I hope this will let me walk naturally for the first time in years, and also be able to target weight loss. Since I've decided to postpone my next trip to the states, I need to work on fitness, just to take the trip, even without weight loss.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

I have just looked out the back window into the garden and saw a flock of about 15 silvereyes. They are so tiny and travel in flocks, so you can be surrounded by a dozen tiny twittery jewels. They are common in my back yard, but seeing them sitting in a row on the back fence is not common.

I now have a scanner that works and I have a bunch of old photos to scan and potentially to share with my unknown readers. This is the noble Haile Selassie, when he was still a kitten and not yet noble. He was my first cat and in some sense my favourite cat. He had a very grave and quiet personality, although he was good at cat soccer with a crumpled piece of paper. He lived first in ex-1's dorm room at my uni, then with my parents for a year until we found a place that allowed pets. He moved to Washington from Chapel Hill, and then to Ohio where he finally succumbed to old age at 18. He was loving without being demanding or clingy, a good lap cat and tolerant of the kitten we later introduced into the household. The kitten worshiped Haile so there was no conflict and Haile's nobility at having this small orange thing follow him around and sit next to him was charming. I though all cats were like that and I was very surprised to discover each cat has its own personality.

Here are the almost-Olympics socks, which I finished a few nights ago. I have since started a new pair, back to wool this time, in Opal Neon which is red, several shades of red but red. I am halfway down the leg on the first one. I have also been knitting on the Irish vest but one row is a very long one, since it's knit in one piece. Lots of seed stitch and cables. Unfortunately, I am discovering that after an evening of knitting knit/purl in either ribbing for the sock or seed stitch for the vest and my hands are quite sore the next day. They don't hurt while I'm actually knitting so I refuse to give up, but I try (even though it's excruciating) to do nothing for a little while at least while watching my evening TV. Doing nothing does not come easily to me.

To the left is the produc
e of my garden from yesterday's work day. I was digging up weeds near the potatoes and noticed they were dying back, so I dug a little further and produced about 8 potatoes, some of which I had for dinner last night. I thought that the eggplants had succumbed to the weather but they had produced fruit even if it is small. Likewise, I thought the beans had given up, but when I looked deeper, I found beans! And of course, a selection of tomatoes, from Black Russians to yellow cherry tomatoes.

Books: I raced through Sue Grafton's U is for Undertow in record time. I am beginning to bore with her style and this one I felt was contrived. You could tell from the way it unfolded how it would end, and Kinsey's chance of being at the right place at the right time was a bit too convenient for me. I am also tired of being stuck in 1988. I am now reading William Gibson's Spook Country, which is spare and elegant and makes you feel slightly off centre.

I am slowly getting the house ready so I can go off to hospital and then recuperate. I washed my bedspread today since yesterday's rain never materialized and now find the forecast for today is 40% chance of rain. I hope it will dry without another rinse. If is stays dry I may mow the lawn. I'm arranging to get my car repaired while I'm unable to drive. My Foxtel box is full of movies and other things of interest. I enjoyed Monarchy which showed the Queen as a very alert and energetic lady, although I still wonder what's in that ever-present handbag. She alone must support the millinery industry of the UK, not only by her own use, but by all the people she receives wearing hats as well.