Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Turn on - Turn off

I have had a few conversations recently with folks about how much computers dominate their (or their spouses) lives. I don’t tend to go through a day without using my computer - it starts with breakfast - I like to listen to the radio - which I stream on my computer and since it is on I tend to check in with my personal email, the work email, facebook and blogger. Occasionally I even take a glimpse at the world beyond my own little microcosm and check out the news.

When I tear myself away from the breakfast table/workstation I can still be plugged in; though my phone has much less ease of access as others I have seen, so I don’t tend to spend nearly as much time down that particular rabbit hole as other people.

I occasionally manage to perform tasks in my life without the aid of a power point. I am pleased to say that on Sunday, knowing I needed travel across town on the bus later on, and knowing that Sunday bus times are infrequent - I made my way down the stairs, out the front door and walked the two meters to the bus stop to check the bus times. All this without even a pedometer!

I could have used the online bus tracker thingimy and saved myself from going out into the cold before I needed to, but this way I got some exercise, gauged if I had enough layers on to brave the blustery day and took out a load of recycling - and thus spent two minutes achieving what would have probably taken me five had I tried to negotiate the zoom in and out map bus tracker timetable thing. I admit that other people probably manage to negotiate the bus time table technology much more quickly than I do - but they are probably sitting amongst piles of recycling and never going out their front doors to play in the snow.

The joy's of going outside in Edinburgh

When we got home from our recent trip to France the  fiancĂ© announced
that next time we go on holiday he is making me get an e-reader. Despite my love of flipping through the pages of books I sadly had to agree that carrying four paperbacks, one hardcover book, a diary, two notebooks, writing paper and two magazines did make our journey from Scotland to France on the train rather more painful than necessary.

Traveling light across France

Still we did almost use all the paper based reading and note taking materials:

Vanity Fair made good train journey flicking.
I wrote two letters which have since arrived to two happy post enthusiasts.
Bloke - by Bruce Pascoe got read by both J and his pal Nobby - thus spreading the word on good Australian writing.
Wintering - Kate Moses - read by me.
The Tenderness of Wolves - Stef Penney - was read by me.

I will admit that the hardcover edition of Ya-Ya’s in Bloom by Rebecca West only got opened on the very last leg of the return journey and my book of Emily Dickinson poetry remained

Still on the technology side of the bulk we carried about there were:
laptop charger and laptop - two of each,
phone and charger two of each
my digital camera and charger
his go-pro (which plugs into the computer)
my ipod and charger
plus adaptors to make Australian and British plugs fit European sockets.

My two notebooks - one recently filled and one fresh one were used in the aid of my current writing project. I do develope a lot of my writing projects on my computer but sometimes a girl just needs some paper and a pen to get things going and keep track of the miscellany of things she comes across as she goes along.

One of the things I like to keep in my notebook is a page devoted to a word list  - sometimes this list contains words I have newly discovered, sometimes it is ones whose precise definition I had to look up in order to make sure I was using them correctly and sometimes I just write them down because I like the feel of them on my tongue.
One of the many things that could not be transported on my journey from Australia (and consequently could not be taken to France for a week) was my rather hefty dictionary - purchased to celebrate the start of my Honours year in Creative Writing - and driven home by my friend Seb. I have a little paperback dictionary that sits near where I work, but it often lets me down and I am forced to look up word definitions on online dictionaries.
And so my tug of war with the computer goes on... meanwhile as you sit at your computer reading this here are a few lovely words from my word lis. I hope they make your heart sing as much as mine -
languorously: without exertion, lazily
contralto: lowest of the three female voices
gloaming: evening twighlight
nostrum: medicine whose effectiveness is unproven - a favourite but usually ineffective remedy
alouette: a device for inducing sleep by tiering the eyes

Monday, 11 March 2013

A snow blind outing

sunny day in the French Alps - February 2013

While we were in the French Alps recently I read a book that contained very graphic descriptions of a woman suffering snow blindness. Set in the wilds of Canada in 1867 one of the characters eyes are:
’...red and weeping. Flashes of red and purple cross my dull vision. There is a throbbing pain behind my eyes. I know I should have covered them on leaving yesterday, but I did not think of it...’
The Tenderness of Wolves, Steph Penney

In the Alps I could readily understand the brightness of sun on snow, we had day after day of clear skies and sun shining down on diamond bright ski slopes. Every time I went outside during the day I wore my sunglasses - and the ultimate fashion accessory if you are a true snow bunny is a ski goggle suntan. 

man and dog in the French Alps 

Back at home in Edinburgh we had the beginnings of spring, flowers were peaking out and I had hopes of being able to retire my leg warmers. Then yesterday I opened the curtains to see snow on the ground. Through winter there were bits and pieces of snow but it did not really stick around in town. Today when I looked out the window I was expecting it all to have melted away, but the landscape was whiter than it had been all winter.

I had an errand that would not be put off by my desire to stay snuggled up inside, so I got out my leg warmers and waterproofs and headed out into the snow flurries. Somehow in the time it took me to get down the stairs the skies had cleared and the sun came out and I found myself blinded by the white light. 

Edinburgh street scape in the snow - March 2013

Rather than heading back upstairs to fetch my sunglasses I put my head down watched out for ice patches and soldiered on - alternating between squinting and closing one eye and then the other as I made my way down the road. 

With the right gear sunshine and snow make for great outdoor conditions - as attested by the mummies doing their aerobic workout in the park and the family with their sled on the hill. Meanwhile for me it was a relief to find myself in shadow and to see the sky going from blue to grey.  

In the time it took to enter the shop and complete my transaction the weather had turned again and I found myself outside in the midst of a different type of snow blindness - this one caused by heavy snow swirling through the air. 

white out in the park - Edinburgh, March 2013

Walking back home through the monochrome world was actually more comfortable for my sunglasses free self, but the sledges, work out mummies and even my footprints from fifteen minutes previous had all vanished in the white.

white out on a familiar street scape - Edinburgh, March 2013 

self portrait dedicated to all my Aussie friends and family sweltering away in 40c conditions.