No turkeys in India

Still here, in India. Still in Ranchi.

I’ve been successful for most of today in resolutely not thinking about Thanksgiving. It’s one of my very favorite holidays because of the way that I celebrate with family and friends.I’ve felt very alone in Ranchi lately, so it’s doubly hard. I went to my adviser’s house for a mini-Thanksgiving. He told me that if I was ever feeling homesick, I could have dinner with him and his wife – so I took him up on it in honor of this holiday.

This was our feast:

ISP 1 082

That’s honey chicken, a beef stew thing, and rice. We even had beer! When he heard I haven’t had Indian rice beer yet, he said that we have to go out and do that before I leave Ranchi. He joked that it’s what made a Swiss friend of his stay for an extra year!

Apparently November/December is also harvest time in India, and people have small celebrations giving thanks for the food and the previous year. So we combined traditions and had a blast. Good conversation, relaxed atmosphere, a very good thing.

Being here gives me a lot to think about, and to be thankful for. Yup, it’s list-time:

*Friends and family. Seriously, y’all are amazing.
*Food. An abundance of food, at that. It’s even the sort of food I want to eat, not what I have to.
*Tap water.
*Electricity. And that I can charge my laptop whenever I want to when I’m at home.
*The existence of switches for plugs. I will definitely miss being able to turn a whole outlet off when I go back home!
*The fact that when I’m in America, I speak the dominant language.
*My bicycle. And that I don’t face imminent death by riding it in the Twin Cities. So … bike lanes?
*Coffee.
*Coffeeshops.
*Coffeeshops that don’t play Akon when I walk in ‘cause I’m American and clearly we all love Akon.
*My iPod. So I can block out the Akon.
*The way the leaves change in Autumn.
*The fact that I am privileged and lucky enough to get all the way to India.
*Chutzpah.
*Books! Particularly “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel and “Haroun and the Sea of Stories" by Salman Rushdie. Just finished “Life of Pi,” which was amazing, and have just started “Haroun and the Sea of Stories,” which is even more amazing.
*Rickshaws that are public, and thus only charge me 6 rupees a ride.
*The Twin Cities metrotransit system.
*Pets. Especially the ones that don’t have rabies and are ok to cuddle with.
*Did I mention my friends and family? Because I’m pretty sure my life wouldn’t be anywhere near as amazing and breathtaking without you.

In other news …

As a way to stave off the homesickness, I’ve begun knitting again! I finally caved and went to buy knitting needles and yarn. It feels SO GOOD! I’m making Stephen West’s Boneyard Shawl for a John-thing. As of right now, it looks like this:

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I am determined to finish it by the time I get back to the states. This shouldn’t be too hard, considering how easy the pattern is.

I’ve also decided to get another tattoo. I’ve been thinking of this one since I got my last one, which was in November 2008. I’ll still wait until the spring to get it – it’s a text tattoo, and so I have to think about the placement, line breaks, and font. And also tattoos heal better when it’s not the middle of the dry MN winter.

Tomorrow I’m headed off to the Piparwar coal mine. Piparwar is one of the case studies for my research, so it’s a very important site visit. But I have been informed by multiple people that I have to be very careful, so I won’t really get to ask too many questions. But it will still be good to see the mine itself, to get a grip on the scope of the issue. I’m sure there will be another post after that, with some pictures of the mine/resettlement area.

Till then, I’m jealous of all of you and your turkey (and wild rice and sweet potato and cranberry) feasts.

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Solstice Joy part 1

Well, I’ve finally landed at home. There was a bit of an adventure at my parents’ country house: in the two weeks that they’ve been gone, it has become mouse-ridden and our water froze. Not so awesome.

And then we came back to my childhood home, which was a really good place to land. I’ve been in limbo since Wednesday, so I as desperately needing a home base.

I’ve been thinking a lot about rather depressing topics lately, and as it’s a holiday season, I figure I really need to stop that nonsense. Today is the winter solstice; I’m supposed to take my mind OFF things like that today. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing for the solstice. It’s today, so I should come up with something. I’m thinking I’ll do some sort of vigil, meditation, baking, coffee, something to make me stay up late. If I don’t stay up through the night, I’ll probably get up really early to watch the sunrise.

One traditional thing to do on the solstice is just to craft. Which means I’ll probably spend most of the night knitting presents for people.

Mom and I are making a solstice dinner tonight as well – probably something Scandinavian, as we are very Norweigian. Recipes for that to come.

We’re also going shopping today for Christmas presents. I’ve run out of time to knit the things I was going to, so I have to find some presents for some of the people on my list.

In other knitting news, I’ve determined that there are some things I really, really need this winter that I could knit for myself.

1. A Scarf (or two)

Based on the scarves worn by some trolls in a Norwegian Children's Book.

Ravelry link to this scarf here.

This is a good, plain old warm scarf.

Ravelry link for this pattern here.

2. Hand/Armwarmers!

Ravelry has some really beautiful armwarmers, and I could definitely use them. I mean, I’ve finished weatherizing my room (finally), so hopefully it will be a little warmer than it usually is, but I could still use some hand/arm warmers to bundle up in.

Red Right Hand

These are pretty simple, and within my level of talent with knitting. But here are some other armwarmers I’d like to make as I get better at knitting:

Aran Gauntlets

Lyra's Wristwarmers - Gorgeous, but I'm a little scared of colorplay

Nereid Fingerless Gloves

All patterns can be found on ravelry, mostly free, and I’ve helpfully provided their titles.

So, clearly I just need to get a lot better at knitting to make these gorgeous wrist/hand/armwarmers.

More babble about knitting coming later. Plans for cowls and hats! It is definitely the season for knitting, that’s for sure.

I will also post a recipe for the Norwegian dinner mom and I make tonight. It will be wonderful.

(Yes, being on break means that I post here more often. What of it?)

In which Abbie talks simultaneously about school, knitting, sewing, and herbology. E-gads!

Ugh.

ughughugh.

The semester officially starts tomorrow. Who’s not ready? That would be me.

Thankfully this fall I’m taking a lighter load. Only 12 credits, rather than my usual 16. I’ve been dragging my feet much more than usual this year, but I think that has a lot to do with not having much of a break this summer. I was just gettin’ my groove on! Getting projects completed/started!

I think, next summer, I’m just going to do Summer of Solutions. And maaaaaaybe a class. Maybe. If I really need to do it to graduate on time. Or to maintain my sanity in the spring semester.

At least I’m starting the semester off with the one class I’m really excited about – the 21st century novel. I’m going to spend the rest of tonight finishing the first novel for that class, and maybe getting a dent in the next one. I definitely suggest Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem to anyone looking to spice up their reading list with something really reminiscent of the noir genre.

My other classes are a science class, Biodiversity and Conservation Biology, and one for Social Justice, From Development to Globalization. When/if I go to India, I’ll be studying development issues in-depth, and this should be a good way to get started thinking about that.

We’ll see how I feel at the end of the week, once I’ve got more fully into my classes.

**

So I’m almost done with that white dress from a couple of posts ago. I’m wearing it right now, and it’s incredibly sexy. But there are some issues with the construction of it that I need to fix goddammit because they’re going to bother me from now to eternity.

I think this dress might be an exercise in patience. Unfortunately, I got my patience from my mother, who is a hot-blooded, red-headed Norwegian. And I believe a Taurus Scorpio. Yeah, you can imagine how much patience that leaves me with.

But if I am considering, at all, selling home-made clothing for any kind of money, I need to learn to be patient and crank out really good products quickly. And right now, while it’s a flattering dress, it’s not made as well as it could have been.

Here’s a teaser picture for you all before that dress is done:

013It’s not a terribly good picture, but you get the idea. I should really find someone who would be willing to photograph me wearing the things I’m making after they’re done … there is always the roommate, but I’m not sure if she’d like doing that. For now, we’ll just have to make do with my self-taken photos in a full-length mirror.

*

Thankfully, the knitting is going much better than the sewing these days. Which is strange, because knitting takes much more patience (just because it takes infinitely longer). But the sweater I’m working on is really coming along. A couple more movie nights, and I should have the body of it done. I’m probably about half done with that. Still have a long way to go, though – there are the sleeves, after all. But it’s definitely coming along, and resembling something I would wear on my torso.

Here are a couple of pics of the progress so far:

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I particularly like how the flash played with the colors for this picture.

Best picture of the buttonholes I could muster.

Best picture of the buttonholes I could muster.

Oh, and I almost forgot the exciting bit of this post! A friend of mine saw my jean skirt, and she liked it so much that she commissioned me to make her a skirt out of a pair of her old jeans! We went and bought fabric the other day, and I think it will be super cute. It won’t be the same as my skirt, but now that I’ve done it once I feel like I can take some creative license with it.

There will be pics of that skirt to come later, and I’m sure she wouldn’t mind posing for me in it once it’s done.

I’ve also been a very good scavenger lately. This past weekend, I found some fantastic used fabric for dirt-cheap. I’ll buy some vintage patterns to go along with it, and post some pics. Yesterday, Goodwill was having a 50% off sale, and I went and found some amazing things. Mostly kitchen things, but I found a book on natural healing that was quite exciting and a Brita filter for a friend. If only I’d found some more fabric or some patterns! But alas, we can’t always have such luck.

Due to my using a lot of herbs for cooking, witchery, and other various uses, I think I might start an herb container garden. More coming on this later, but know that it’s coming. Most likely. I need to gauge how expensive it will be to start up an herb garden, and how well the herbs will take to growing inside. I also need to have a more final list of plants I’m going to grow, and for what purposes. Anyway, more on that later. I have things to do other than post this entry!

I’m off to finish reading my book.

Ta ta,

Abbie