Friday, September 27, 2019

Back on the Cam


I am here in Cambridge again, for a couple of months. I've just been settling in, sorting out a bike, finding some old friends. We have a nice flat with a lovely view (and a great selection of books on the shelves).

This is more or less my front yard. 

There are cows. 

Cambridge: where everyone cycles, and there is a gutter like this at the side of the road. Yikes.

Some touristy sites. Since Stephen is a member of the university, he can get me in to colleges without paying, so we have to make time to do that!

For your needlework news, I have these little needlepoint pictures on the wall. Peace, courage and harmony.

I was thinking of making a whole new post about the Fitzwilliam museum, but it is raining out so I might as well stay home and post pictures!

200-year-old teapot

800-year-old teapot!

I saw a lot of other stuff, but stopped taking pictures after a while. There was an exhibit about fans, for example. Great thing #73, admission to the museum is free, so I will for sure pop back in some day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Forty years later

Last night we went out to see Nick Lowe and Los Straightjackets perform. Nick Lowe's big hit was Cruel to Be Kind, in 1979. Everyone in the audience was 20 then, so we were a bunch of old geezers out on the town.

Balding and paunchy rock fans

We were not the first in line but we did have seats for the first hour (waiting) and a half (warmup band), but once the main act took the stage we had to stand to see anything. I guess old people are supposed to go to a real theatre with real seats.

Nick Lowe is looking pretty good for 70. He played old and new songs, all with that New Wave/rockabilly/English feel!

Los Straightjackets are an instrumental surf-ish band, who always wear Mexican wrestling face masks. (I dunno why!) I had been assured that Stephen was the only one in the world who liked them, but obviously half the club last night was there to see them rather than Nick Lowe.

Halfway through the evening, Nick went off-stage and left the Straightjackets to blast out their hits. Classic surf songs, mainly, with the volume turned to 11.

He came back in a new shirt.

Finally the two really tall guys in front of me moved and I could see both Nick and the Straightjackets at the same time!

When I was 20 I would have been up there on the floor in front of the stage. It was great to hear the live music and all, but I wish we'd had a better view, a comfier seat, a less crowded venue and maybe even a place to actually dance.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Pre-travel wrap-up

Let's get organized, shall we?

I saw a few more movies last week.

Friday I saw a shorts program. Several of these short films were outstanding! Rebel was about far-right anti-immigrant groups in Quebec in the near future. It was a bit simple, but a cliff-hanger ending. Ani was a nice story about a girl and her father, made by a woman for her own father. And The Physics of Sorrow was amazing, for the story and mainly for the technique, animation using encaustic painting. A visual delight.

Saturday I had not planned to see anything, but a friend had an extra ticket to The Truth, and who can resist Catherine Deneuve at 9 am on a Saturday morning? She was amazing, and the movie, mostly in French, with Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke, was really entertaining, quiet, not Hollywood-ish. It didn't come to some big crescendo ending, but told a story of a family, and an aging actress who had made certain choices in her life.

That evening we had a party at our house; we made too much food; it was really fun; now we have so many leftovers to eat before Friday.

At the party I also talked to a friend who had seen the film State Funeral, and he told me it was two hours of watching people stand in line. Well, that was our last film of the festival, and off we went on Sunday afternoon to see it.

People standing in line for a movie

It was two hours of people standing in line, but wow, what lines! It is a documentary made from archival footage from all over the Soviet Union in the two weeks following Stalin's death in 1953. People from east to west gather in town squares to listen to the radio. Huge statues are surrounded by giant floral wreaths and photos, and more just keep coming. In Moscow people go through a palatial building to see the open coffin, piled high with flowers. Elsewhere, across the whole, wide country, citizens parade past monuments, in March, so some of them are still in winter and some are beginning to feel like spring. Hats, scarves, coats all were interesting! Sometimes you'd see a line of people in woollen scarves, and then someone go by in a shiny, rich, fur hat. Some coats were plain, some had big fur collars. Some people were weeping openly, some were stony-faced. They knew things that we don't know, but we now know things that they didn't. One wonders what they were thinking, what happened next to this person or that. 

It ended with the coffin being taken to the mausoleum in Red Square, with speeches from Molotov and Beria, more people lining up. What happened in the months and years afterwards would make a fascinating movie as well, of course.

The filmmaker after State Funeral

Crazy, but I really enjoyed this!

Now we just have to fit in the last few coffee dates and university chores and occasions for eating all those leftovers. Oh, and packing. How much will I really knit in the next few months? How many layers will I need to keep warm, or cool?

Yeah, I am knitting a sweater. Long cuffs, thumb holes to keep my hands warm on early morning walks by the river. Except, um, I did the second sleeve just like the first, and that was not the right thing to do. This has been corrected now and I just have the body to knit. It'll be done any day now....

Friday, September 13, 2019

More movies and the moon

Yesterday was a big day, as it turned out.

I had a lunch date downtown, so that was very nice. My friend works at City Hall.

Then I had a few hours to kill before my movie. Not really enough time to go home, I thought.

I sat in the plaza, but couldn't do that for four hours. I knit the last bit of yarn that I had. I remembered that as a Textile Museum volunteer I could get in to the Art Gallery of Ontario for free!

So I sauntered over there and saw some art.

This is a little sketch for a bigger painting, called Above Lake Superior, which we had a print of in our home when I was growing up. I love those trees!

Ken Thomson liked to collect things, and his collections were donated to the AGO. He sure knew what he liked...

If I were rich, I think I'd collect snuff bottles, too. So wonderful!

I'd seen most of this before, but yesterday I stumbled into a darkened room containing books. He had a book, maybe 4 or 5 inches thick, about the Book of Job, and they knew who the scribe was! Now that's pretty amazing.

There was also something new at the AGO, an infinity room by Yayoi Kusama.

Many silver balls. I would have liked more time in there, but you can only stay for one minute! I guess I could have come back 10 minutes later.

Finally, time to go to the movie.

Stephen came with me and we saw the Cordillera of Dreams by Patricio Guzmán. There was lots of wonderful footage of the Andes: the ice, the rocks, the snow, the sky... and talk with artists who worked in and around the mountains. One of these was another filmmaker, who has filmed riots and protests and police action in Chile for the past 20 or 30 years. Guzmán left Chile after the coup in 1973, and Chilean politics is clearly very important to him and in his work. For me, this was definitely a case of not knowing enough before going into the theatre, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had known more about the filmmaker and his work. Interesting, though, for sure.

Well, our day was not over! The film ended shortly before 8, and we hadn't really had dinner. So, a lovely charcuterie platter at a local pub, and then we were off to see the moon.

The Bentway is a park made under our hideous downtown expressway. In the winter they make a skating rink over the paths, but I haven't seen anything else there. Now someone had suspended a giant inflated moon, there are talks and food trucks and tons of people!

And a very nearly full moon in the sky as well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Countdown begins

We leave for Cambridge in 10 days!

This morning I went and bought chips and cheese and stuff for our farewell party this weekend, and knit on my sweater. Why oh why didn't I finish this in May?

Soon I will have a yoke and two sleeves. Getting there. But don't forget that countdown...

After lunch I headed downtown for another movie. This one was The Kingmaker, about Imelda Marcos. Oh, my. The filmmaker was there -- she started out to make a movie about Calauit Island and the zebras and giraffes Imelda brought there, but things got out of hand -- and she stressed how charming and convincing Imelda was in interviews, so there were also lots of activists and political opponents in the movie to balance her out. Haunting... alarming... scary as heck!

The sweater is too large for lineup knitting, so I started something new. I have some weird cotton, quite fine, and I am just knitting around and around, hoping to have a neck-warmer/cowl thing. Knitting standing up in a line is not optimal, and I somehow twisted the hundred or more stitches, knitting happily on for almost an inch.

Oops, so as we were sitting waiting for the movie to start, I figured it out. On row 8 or 10, I cast off a few stitches, twisted the whole thing till it was straight again, and carried on. That twist is now a decorative element and I won't hear another word about it. Ahem.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

It's film festival time again

September means TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival. Last year I think I only saw two movies, but this year I again bought a pack of six tickets and will see five movies. (I do keep entering any contest I see, but I haven't won a dang thing!)

Today I saw Desert One, a documentary about the Iran hostage crisis in 1979-80. It was a piece of history I sorta remember: I was a student living in residence and watched the news sporadically, but we all knew about the Shah and the Ayatollah and the hostages. I learned a lot about the disastrous secret attempt to rescue the hostages; the eight people who were killed; the burned helicopters in the desert, which are still there and where an anniversary celebration occurs every year.

This movie features interviews with so many key players: to start at the top, President Carter and Vice-President Mondale! There are also several hostages, pilots and special operations members and their families, hostage-takers and an Iranian who translated for them.

When the Americans flew in to the Iranian desert on their secret mission, they didn't expect to meet anyone, and certainly not a bus full of a family party! There was even an interview in the film with a man who was an 11-year-old boy on that bus. He said he was terrified, but when they were finally able to drive away, he couldn't wait to tell his friends at school.

I do love a good Q&A after a film! I always try to take a picture, but it is always too dark and I am too far away.

The guy with the mic is Kevin Hermening, one of the hostages;
the woman in black to his right is director Barbara Kopple 

We were very lucky to have Kevin Hermening in the theatre. He was only 20 when he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and became a hostage. He is very well-spoken and thoughtful -- I guess after almost 40 years he has done a lot of thinking.

This was only the second screening of the film, but I'm sure it will get snapped up for distribution and be widely available soon. A pretty amazing story, all around. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

She's all snug now

I am completely finished Elaine's Snuggies, as they are called in the pattern book, or knickers, long underwear, pantalettes... Woolly underthings from the 1940s.

I knit a leg, almost ran out of yarn. So I went and bought another skein of yellow yarn: same brand, same shop, yellow. But, I remember thinking I was knitting "butter" yellow, and the label on the second skein definitely said "lemon." It wasn't till I was looking at these pictures that I realized they are in fact quite different!

I also knit a gusset. There are no instructions as to how to fit it all together, but the legs get a bit wider, and then a bit narrower, and I just figured out how I thought it should work.

back view
I can understand how the idea of the misshapen knitwear would come about. If you didn't know how to sew the gusset in, you could certainly make a funny-looking pair of drawers.

front view

Today was spent making a long cord for the waist, since I don't have tiny elastic to fit through little yarnover holes, and there is no sizing information given in the pattern. I suspect she can gain her Freshman 15 and not worry about these fitting.

I think she will wear these over leggings or tights, perhaps under a skirt. I will ask her for a modelled shot; we shall see. I have to mail them away to her!