Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Akagera National Park

Akagera is a game park in Rwanda's east. I think that for the most part, the pictures will speak for themselves. If you're most interested in sub-Saharan African land mammals, skip to the end, but be warned that you'll miss the hippos. Also, please note that one of the bird pictures is actually a hippo picture. :o) Kevin, thank you for Fancy Camera!

This post of about 50 pictures contains a jump break to spare those of you who use certain kinds of blog readers. Just click on the little link that says "Read more" after the eagle picture to see the rest of the pictures.

These trees are full of cormorants and African darters. We saw them from a boat.
"Please," said our guide, "do not put your hand in the water, because crocodiles."

Purple heron.

Not actually sure what we've got here, but it's purdy.

This big guy is a monitor lizard.

Purple heron...

...purple heron.

Female African eagle.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Guess Where I Am

The view outside the plane window on the way to this destination...

...was variations on this theme...

...for about six hours.

The capital city is hilly...

hot and hazy...

with many bright flowers.

It's mountainous here.

Cows in a truck.

Rolling hills

and a beautiful sun

and geckos.

Maybe it's time for some direct clues. This is a Kenyan beer...
but I am not in Kenya.
This is a Ugandan gin...
but I am not in Uganda.

I am not in Tanzania... but the hills in the backdrop of this picture are.

Maybe this license plate game will help.
This truck is from Tanzania; check out the license plate.

This car is from Uganda.

This truck is from the country I'm in...

as are these cars and motos.

If you've guessed I'm in the beautiful, mountainous country of Rwanda, you win. :o) The first three photos are the Sahara Desert from above, the next three the capital city of Kigali. Next up are pictures from the drive to Akagera National Park, and the picture with the hills of Tanzania in the background was taken in the park. My next post will be pictures from the park, where I was SO HAPPY to be in possession of Fancy Camera. Stay tuned! But don't hold your breath, because the Wi-Fi situation is a bit dire and I'm not sure when the next post will happen.

Monday, February 1, 2016


What is the author knitting?

The knitters among you will recognize this as an i-cord.

Three needles, three stitches per needle... looks fiddly.

Seems to be growing...

And growing....

Basil is riveted.

If these last two pictures seem lots nicer than the others, it's because Kevin took them, with Fancy Camera.

For this picture, I stuffed the ball of yarn into the thing I'm knitting
to make it more recognizable what I'm knitting.

Now beginning to knit a flat back. Decreasing stitches,
more abruptly than I was previously increasing them.

Almost done with the back; almost time to add...

Fiberfill stuffing.

It's what you think it is.

And now I'm knitting the other one...

And now they are done.

So here's the thing: I have the coolest friends. Recently, a friend who was about to undergo a double mastectomy told me about Knitted Knockers, which are soft, comfortable knitted prosthetic breasts. Did you know that silicone breast prosthetics are hot, heavy, and expensive, and can't be worn until weeks after surgery? Knitted prosthetics, on the other hand, are soft, light, and pretty, and, thanks to the organizers at knittedknockers.org and a lot of volunteer knitters, they're free for anyone who needs them. I just checked out the order page on the website, and there's a drop-down menu that seems to allow for every country, so I think the organization provides these worldwide! Check out this website, it's the coolest thing. And if you're a knitter, all the resources are there for you to knit them yourself. The website accepts donations of money and of knitted prosthetics.

if you're an inexperienced knitter and find this project intimidating – before I knitted these, I had never knitted an i-cord, never used double pointed needles, never used more than two needles at once, and never increased nor decreased stitches. This was a great way to learn all of those skills :o). I did some searching for tutorials on YouTube when necessary, and it turned out that with the exception of the very beginning, when you're working with a lot of tiny, tight stitches on multiple needles, it was easy. It was really enjoyable, to be honest. My friend provided me with this beautiful variegated yarn, and if you're a beginner, I actually recommend variegated yarn. The constantly changing colors make it much, much easier for you to figure out which row is which and tell whether you've made a mistake or not.

Please pass on the word about knittedknockers.org to anyone who might benefit from it!!!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Photography Practice

Kevin has a fancy camera, and he takes lovely pictures. He would say the lovely pictures are because of the fancy camera, but everyone has seen uninspired pictures taken on fancy cameras, so I call bullshit on that. He takes lovely pictures because he's good at it. Here's a photo he took of my most recent Halloween costume.

 I was the forest at night.

Next week, I'm leaving on a very (very!) exciting trip. In the past, when I've gone on exciting trips, I've taken photos on my iPhone, and really, considering the phone's limitations, I guess I can't complain. However, next week's trip is extra exciting, and deserves something more. So Kevin is generously sending me off with Fancy Camera.

Fancy Camera is much more complicated than other cameras I've used! Therefore, I've been practicing. This involves things like lining up some shoes on my living room floor, lying down on the rug, and experimenting with focal points and apertures and shutter speeds and other camera words.

If you're wondering how to achieve these amazing results, the answer is, Fiddling With Buttons. I also recommend Hoping For The Best. Please, everybody pray for me while I'm on this trip. I really want to take some pictures that will do my destination justice, and I won't have the time for all this careful fiddling.

Here are a few more random sights I've managed to capture around town while practicing.

 Happy birthday, Mom :o)

 Here in Cambridge, the bus stops are pretty fancy.

 Random hovercraft on my bookshelf.

This is an example of a picture that, while far from brilliant,
 would have been horrendous if taken on my iPhone…

Harvard Square intersection.

Stay tuned next week for pictures from my mystery destination! I promise that even if they aren't very good, they'll be more exciting than shoes on my living room floor.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The common house zebra, when frightened, hides in the sock drawer. (For camouflage.)

This week I discovered that it's astonishingly easy for a person with minimal sewing skills to make a zebra out of socks.

Meet Basil.

It took me maybe two hours to make Basil, no more, no kidding. I used this wonderful sock zebra pattern/tutorial at The Sewing Directory by Caroline Short, with only minor alterations.

Here's how things looked partway through, though those who know Basil
personally may find this picture upsetting and, if so, should avert their eyes.

The quotient of adorableness to effort is very, very, VERY high.

Basil, incidentally, is a sock zebra from the planet Gallifrey.
Consequently he has two hearts, like the Doctor.

Basil likes having cousins. Maybe you should make a sock zebra, too.

The main thing I altered in the pattern is that I wanted Basil to have free arms, separate from his body. If you use tall enough socks (this pair went about halfway up the shin), you'll have enough sock material in the sock you use for the head to create both the ears and a couple of slender arms, which I then hemmed, stuffed, and attached to the torso.

This was so straightforward that I'm not sure why the world isn't overrun with sock zebras.

(Basil says that would be a good thing.)