December catch-up

Hello again! Another month under my belt in the ever-forward-moving progression towards my big 3-0.

Ridiculous relief as blessed Gordy from the Apple Store, Buchanan Street, saved my poor MacBook Pro’s life (by replacing its logic board), and thusly my harddrive and all my many things. Thanks Gordy!!! I’ve since backed everything up again and will be more diligent, scout’s honor! Have also upgraded my OS from Leopard (retro!!) to Maverick and upgraded RAM so feeling slick and shiny in the new year. *my tech teeth are tingling*.

baublesDecember has been pretty eventful: we completed our Race for charity, I went Glassblowing!, we spent loads of time playing boardgames with pals (and enjoying our friends’ new super-cute puppy!), and we racked up another few hours at karaoke (+2hrs with Stuart & +2hrs with my Bball team on our night out – danger!). Supercube gang stamped up my point card as well so looking forward to trying to squeeze in another cheeky hour+ before 2014!).

So many Christmas parties – work, bball team, pals & family. Handsome S and family were very good to me this Christmas, and I am looking forward to many upcoming adventures and trying new things (including scuba diving lessons!, trips abroad and tasty meals). I am also immensely grateful for all the glorious free time. I have read lots and played lots of video & board games and generally gotten loads done that I’ve been putting off as work has been so manic lately. There is nothing as wonderful as free time.

More specific 30-by-30 updates:
I managed to finish a poem called ‘On the first day’; it’s pretty pants (a sci-fi villanelle… will never see the light of day!). But at least it’s finished!
Back on the Duolingo bandwagon (only just) with Spanish and can now read 64.8% of newspapers(?) in Spanish. Haven’t touched the German though…
And my Coding class starts in January!
Looking forward to dedicating Jan-Feb to 30 days of proper Paleo (hopefully making a dent in ‘cut 30lbs’.
I think it’s my last chance to try and plant garlic to grow this year – will get on this in January too.
We’ve also booked our Iceland holiday in February – Northern Lights boat trip and tickets to 3-day Sonar Festival sorted! V excited = understatement of the year.
Still to plan is our LA trip (hopefully including a ‘mommy & me’ element), and how to squeeze in the many, many remaining adventures before August. Bring it!

In other news, a teacher-friend asked on FB recently about winter traditions around the world, and it got me thinking about all the amazing festivities in Scotland around Christmas & New Year (Hogmanay). Reflecting on this made me really grateful for what an amazing opportunity it is and has been to live in this city, with so many kind and friendly people. I am so lucky and so fortunate; I promise I don’t take it for granted.

reading
Kona Macphee – Perfect Blue
Paul Muldoon – Maggot
Rachel Boast – Sidereal
Matthew Sweeney – Sanctuary

Ursula Le Guin – The Other Wind
Ursula Le Guin – Tales of Earthsea (short stories after the Earthsea trilogy)

soundtrack
Ms Mr – Hurricane
POLIÇA – Chain My Name
Duke Dumont feat. Jax Jones – I Got U
Disclosure – Help Me Lose My Mind

You know what are almost as good as Red Bull adverts? GoPro adverts: GoPro hero3+ advert
Was watching the Russian space walk the other day and even they’ve got GoPro cameras now. The future is all around us.

Lastly, to get you in the spirit of the season, be sure to check out Google’s 2013 zeitgeist! It is tops.
And keep an eye out for my wee Lion&Sloth 2013 in review – to be posted shortly!

See you in the New Year! Here’s to family & friends & living a content-rich life. Lang may yer lum reek!

Try glassblowing: DONE!

Had mentioned finding a glassblowing course in my October update. Initially, it was the only class I could find near Edinburgh. But with further looking, it was one of the only I could find in Scotland! Lucky it’s so close by!

Elin Isaksson, a Swedish glassblower based in Stirling, offers taster courses in glassblowing. She also offers full day courses (where you make a bauble, a tumbler and a paperweight), but the taster class (just a bauble) is a fraction of the price, so thought I’d try it first before investing further. Plus with the prospect of being able to make my own glass bauble just in time to go up on our Christmas tree, I signed right up! My pal also fancied it so I had a wing(wo)man – double trouble!

We managed the interesting drive down a very rural road in the countryside near Stirling. It must be properly brilliant to get to wake up with your studio right outside and nothing else but farms and fields as far as the eye can see.

view

There were two other people at the class when we arrived which made for quite an intimate setting, and Elin started right in on showing us the tools and machinery in her glassblowing studio. She gave us some basic pointers on the process of making a glass bauble, and made a couple baubles herself so we had an idea of the steps involved:

  1. She showed us how she would heat the steel blowpipe first so that molten glass would stick to it.
  2. Then she dipped the blowpipe into the furnace – a huge vat of molten glass that she’d prepared the night before (it was so bright I couldn’t even really look at it straight on!)
  3. Next she rolled the blowpipe with a ball of molten glass stuck to it, into some pre-prepared bowls of tiny flecks of coloured glass. (She explained that red and yellow dyed glass is more expensive than blue and green dyed glass because they’re often made using flecks of gold. Neat!)
  4. Then she took the glass on the rod to the bench, where she rolled the rod evenly while cupping it with a block (which was actually a wooden cup-shaped thing with a handle. The wooden cup was soaking in some water so it wouldn’t burn when it came into contact with the super-hot glass).
  5. She puffed a few breaths of air through the blowpipe and started shaping the bauble, but the glass very quickly got too cool to blow anymore air into, so she put the glass into this CRAZY hot furnace called a glory hole, which is used to re-heat the glass so you can keep shaping it.
  6. She then blew into it a few times more and rolled it at the bench while using the jacks (a big pair of tweezer-shaped tools) to start to sort of mark off where the bauble would be ‘cut’ (off of the blowpipe). As she squeezed, you could really see the bauble taking shape.
  7. Then finally when it was the shape she wanted, she took the bauble on the rod to a table with a sort of prepared cup and knocked the rod ever so slightly with a stick, and the bauble fell perfectly into the cup.
  8. She then took a chuck of molten glass from the furnace and stuck that on top (looked like a Hershey’s kiss!) and made a wee curl so that we could hang our baubles.
  9. The baubles then got put into the annealer – a sort of cooling box. It’s very hot (everything is! A perfect place to hang out in winter!), but decreases temperature over time, allowing the glass to cool gradually so that it tempers properly and won’t shatter. This means we have to wait for our wee baubles to arrive in the post! Very exciting.
My pal giving it a shot like a pro!
My pal giving it a shot like a pro!

THEN we all got a turn each! My pal was very brave and went first. She did an amazing job and made it look super easy.

Then I got to give it a go! Tricky stuff! Especially hard to keep the rod rolling while also pinching the jacks into the glass. That said, the trickiest part for me was probably blowing air through the blowpipe before the glass got too cool to shape. I think I had to do it like 4 times (reheating in the glory hole each time) before it was the ‘right’ size. And then it’s all about controlling your breath depending on how hot (and therefore malleable) the glass is. So much to think about all at once!

I had an amazing time at Elin’s class, and so glad to stop by her studio before Christmas – she was having a sale so I managed to buy a lovely glass pitcher for a steal off the normal price! I’ll post a photo of the pitcher, and my bauble once it arrives.

Am starting to save my pennies for her full-day class. *double-thumbs up* If you’re in the area, you should too! Or at least try the taster class – I definitely recommend it.

glass

November catch-up

Many Adventures this November!

Spent first weekend recovering from our AMAZING Halloween party. At said party, we made cupcakes that looked like brains, played Are you a Werewolf?, and S & I made a real-life Escape-the-Room game with puzzles and clues and made all our friends test their mettle (with real-life Sadako sitting in the corner of the room!). Mega-fun & frights.

Second weekend we went to the 10th Anniversary party for the post-production company our friend works for. I’m so proud to have such totally interesting and amazing friends. They all do incredible stuff! Some are doctors and nurses, some own or manage their own stores, lots are singers or in bands. I’m so proud!

Third weekend we went through to Glasgow to see Koreless. Stayed up late and slept on our friend’s floor like the good old days! Oh, to be young.

Fourth weekend we celebrated a 30th on the town, then played boardgames with pals. And the final weekend (well, Thursday) we had a literal ‘mini-Thanksgiving’ at home. I wish I could show you photos, but unfortunately this coincided with the HDD of my computer giving up the ghost, and I’ve got to wait til Friday to take it through to the shops to get diagnosed. Sad times! (Also makes for a pretty text-heavy post – apologies! Also thanks to S for sharing his gamer pc…)

Onwards & upwards. Keeping a chin up and all that!

Made some ace hummingbird cake cupcakes for Children in Need bake sale at work, and donated my massive pile of books! At -21 items. (Mostly on account of having a panic looking for the Installation discs for my laptop and binning anything in sight.)

Found out my good friends are getting married next April, so planning a trip back to SoCal to celebrate. S suggested a cheeky trip to Hawaii en route or after, so we’re looking into options! Might get my mom to come along with us for my Mommy & me vacation! S promises to go scuba diving or something to while away the hours. Hard life. =)

Looking forward to our race this weekend. Also signed up for a glassblowing taster session (as mentioned in October)! Will post more on these next week.

Still negatron on the home-buying. We were SO CLOSE last week, only missed the highest bid on a nice house in Ratho by a couple hundred quid. S is optimistic!

We’re in economy-drive mode and eating through the pantries right now, which means pretty much disregarding paleo (beans! bran!). Also means no Wings this month (SORROW!) or karaoke (TRUE SORROW!). The miseries of winter.

Poems, I am most sad about right now. I back up my computer pretty regularly, maybe every couple months or so. But not frequently enough to save the last three poems! Fingers crossed they can access the harddrive on Friday but if not, rest in peace to my poor short-lived new poems (and so many scraps and fragments!) that never got to see the light of day. And here’s to writing more but being more fastidious about storage.

reading

Hannah Lowe – Chick (BRILLIANT BOOK! I’ve been trying to push this on everyone!)
Louise Gluck – Meadowlands
John Ashberry – Wakefulness
Derek Walcott – White Egrets
Sam Riviere – The Bestiary
Kei Miller – A Light Song of Light (Heard he’s working on a new collection. Can’t wait!!)

Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games Trilogy – Had to! Went to see the second one in cinema…. so moreish…

soundtrack

Avicii – You Make Me …has totally grown on me
Cider Sky – We Are In Love
Koreless – Last Remnants
Koreless – Sun
Blue Foundation – Eyes on Fire (Zeds dead remix)
Noosa – Walk On By (Sound Remedy Remix)

Not sure if I like the music, but the extended(?) music video for 30 Seconds to Mars, City of Angels, made me so nostalgic for Los Angeles. The good and the bad and the beautiful sparkling nighttime skyline.

Also, can’t wait to see this!: Grand Budapest Hotel trailer.

Here’s to December – the final month of 2013, ever!