Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Burren

Last weekend we did a little exploring in County Clare. API, the program I'm in Ireland with, organized a tour. We went to the Cliffs of Moher, Ailwee Caves, and the Burren. We were on the bus most of the day, but the country side is beautiful. I would love to go back some time, with more time to explore. The burren is an area of exposed lime stone, with rocky hillsides and fertile valleys. Ancient stone walls crisscross the landscape, cutting it up into small fields with a few sheep or cows in each.

A castle we stopped to look at:

Me at the Cliffs:


An excavated portal tomb:


A neolithic ring fort or "fairy ring":






Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I've been living in Ireland for a week now. I'm studying abroad at the National University of Ireland in Galway. I ended up here almost by accident - I knew I wanted to study abroad, and I didn't want to take extra time to graduate. I had to find a place where I could take the three civil engineering classes I needed for my major, with a program approved by the UNH study abroad office, and in a location where I would be willing to live for five months (the last one was pretty easy).

I needed three civil classes, which meant I had to find a school on pretty much the same schedule as UNH. I needed Soil Mechanics, Structures, and Wastewater, all in the same place. Edinburgh had some, but no soil mechanics. Manchester only offered a more advanced structures class. Somewhere in Australia might have worked, but flights are so expensive and none of the schools I could find were quite right. NUI Galway wasn't quite the only option, but it was clearly the best. Now that I'm here it's hard to imagine being anywhere else.

I'm living in a student apartment complex about a 20 minute walk from the University, with three other girls from the program and a Spanish guy. Every morning I leave and head up the hill - away from the shopping center and the rotary. I walk by a field with ponies, old and new stone walls. If I look carefully between the houses across the street I can see Menlo Castle in the distance. I cut across a bit of marshy grass by the river, climb up to the road, hop the gardrail, and cross the River Corrib towards campus. It's a beautiful walk, misty or clear.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Short Detour into Food

It's been a long time since I've posted, but I'm back. I have done some knitting, but mostly a lot of cooking. I'm working at a summer camp in Canada at the moment, and I have been in charge of the kitchen. I arrived a week ago, and immediately made dinner for 25 people. Since then I've been cooking at least one meal every day.

I went up to Langskib and made roast chicken for a Waldorf group, and fried eggs for breakfast. Back at Northwaters, I was only cooking occasionally, and for 12 people or so. I made Indian twice (in a row, but at the request of my boss), with dahl and potato-spinach and rice. I cooked corn chowder for lunch, with sandwhich fixings, and made tacos for dinner. This morning we had pancakes and boiled eggs and bacon for breakfast, and black bean soup (with chickpeas - I've been using up the wintered-over cans), also bagles. For dinner we're having lasagna and zucchini.

The hardest part about cooking for the masses is knowing how much people are going to eat. I hate having a ton of leftovers, and food going to waste, but I want to make sure everyone gets enough to eat. I thought that getting everything done on time would be a problem, but it hasn't been so far.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I play rugby for the club team at my school, and in the spring we often have to practice at 6 AM, because there's snow outside and not a lot of room inside. I have 8 o'clock classes every day, and generally this means that I go directly from practice to class. The first couple of times I did this, I just put sweatpants on over my shorts and sneakers. But I quickly realized that I wasn't comfortable sitting in class in gym clothes. I never go to class in my pajamas, or in sweatpants. The most casual I get is jeans and a t-shirt. There might not be a whole lot of difference between sweatpants and jeans, but in my mind I am not prepared for class if I haven't put on real pants first.

I recently ran across this quote by Theodore Dalrymple in In Character:

For many years I believed that how a man dressed was unimportant; it was the man within that counted, not the man without. My belief excused me for being myself rather scruffily dressed, which was very easy and convenient for me in terms of effort required. But I now think that I was mistaken, for it does not follow from the fact that outward appearance is not all-important that it is of no importance at all.

The small matter of cleaning one's shoes, for example, is not one of vanity alone, though of course it can be carried on to the point of vanity and even obsession and fetish. It is, rather, a discipline and a small sign that one is prepared to go to some trouble for the good opinion and satisfaction of others. It is a recognition that one lives in a social world. That is why total informality of dress is a sign of advancing egotism.

That is exactly how I feel. If I can't be bothered to get dressed before going to class what does that say about my opinion of the class, my professor, and my fellow students? I respect them, and the least I can do is put on a proper pair of pants before showing up in class. A professor wouldn't teach a class in sweats, we as students owe them the same respect.

On a completely different note - I am almost done with my sweater. I have finished all the pieces and cut the steek, now I just need to assemble it and figure out some kind of closure. I'm thinking maybe a knitted on band and collar, with mitered corners, but I want the collar to be green, and I'm not sure if having the band green too would be weird looking. We shall see.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Once apon a time in France

Well, I'm back at school now. I have been for three weeks, actually, but my course load being what it is I've been a bit busy. I missed the first week of class, which really wasn't much of an issue. I was caught up in a week or so, though Chemistry is still kicking my butt. It's not so much that I don't expect to do well, it's just that it's a lot of work.

The rest of my time in France was pretty good, though I am never going anywhere without a cell phone again. Mine doesn't work, and I didn't bother to get one because I was only there for a month, but it was really difficult to meet up with people without being able to call. It wasn't the end of the world, but it made me appreciate how much easier it is to meet people when they are always on the other end of their phone. Must have been hard back in the day before cell phones.

Back at school means being back at swing, which is lovely. We had a dance just last weekend, and I got a whole lot of swing music for my computer. We had a big stack of CDs in the office, and I took them home and ripped them to itunes, then put them on a thumb drive and brought them to the dance. I now have 300 MB of swing, and my ipod is nearly full.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Vizille

On Monday afternoon I went on a mini excursion to the nearby town of Vizille. It's half an hour away by bus, and has a château with a museum of the French Revolution inside. The château was quite interesting, some of the rooms were set up, others contained displays of various revolution artifacts. The château itself was at one time a residence of the president of France, and Charles de Gaul hosted some set of foreign visitors there. The château itself is worth a visit, but the garden was really spectacular, even covered in snow. There are formal hedges and flowerbeds, a water feature with a fountain and many little arched bridges, and ducks. A path runs all the way around the small park, through stands of trees with benches and tables. It would be a lovely place to go in the summer, with a sketch book and picnic lunch. Actually, Grenoble in general would be nice in the summer - all the parks in the city center, and hiking in the mountains.

The Château

Thursday, January 7, 2010

France-ness

So here I am in France, without ever photographing and posting about my Christmas knitting. There wasn't a whole lot of it, but enough to warant a post with pictures surely. I produced a scarf from Knitted Lace of Estonia for my sister - the peacock and leaf scarf, except much longer and in white angora. For my brother I made a pair of socks, in blue with a knit two, purl one, one seedstitch, purl one rib (which was very successful) with a green cuff. I also made a document carrying bag for my dad out of green leaf-patterned brocade.

I'm staying in Grenoble for the next month and studying French at the CUEF (Centre Universitaire d'Etudes Françaises). I'm living with a host family in the center of grenoble; right in the old city. I take the tram to class every day - the stop is a block or so away, and I have a 20 minute ride.

The tram is pretty awesome. It runs on electricity, and is very quiet. There are wires overhead, but only two except at intersections. The rails are set into the pavement, and cars drive over them all the time. Because the electricity is in wires overhead, there is no third rail like the subway, and people step onto the tracks and cross over. Even when the tracks are separated from the road there is no barrier of any kind - at the station you just walk to the other side to change direction.

I forgot my camera (I don't know how - I walked right by it when I left) so there will likely be no pictures, but I'll still be able to post discriptions.