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Banks of Green Willow

 A lovely piece of music that some of you will probably know already.

The composer was George Butterworth.  I came to his music via morris as he was an important early member of the Edwardian morris revival.  Like Vaughn Williams, he sought inspiration in traditional folk music and was a keen collector of folk songs.


One of the earliest pieces of film of morris dance in existence shows George dancing - and he was a very good dancer.


He died in the Battle of the Somme, and Banks of Green Willow is often played to commemorate the fallen. This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.

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Going for a walk

 I'm aware that I've posted relatively little of recent. Most of the time I've just been so tired.

I had a bad bout of asthma in early December, that required two courses of steroids to shift it (please, please will the government do something about air pollution!).  the side effects from the steroids wrecked my muscles and it's taken until now to get back to full fitness. Well, almost, I think it will be a few weeks yet until I finally see the back of it.

I'm hypermobile (ie.  very, very bendy) which is great for things like dancing, but means that if I lose muscle tone, my slack tendons (which is basically what hypermobility is) means that things fall out of shape. My knee started flopping to one side and I didn't realise that for a long time. This had the effect of causing severe pain in my Achilles tendon, etc. etc.

Anyway, lots of exercises have got the strength back in the knee and the calf muscles and the tendon pain is gone in one foot and greatly improved in the other.

I do lots of walking as both a source of enjoyment and a practical necessity.

I was talking to my next door neighbour last week, and became aware just how unwell she has been.   A combination of depression, work stress, aches and pains, etc.  She hardly ever goes out because she tires too much when she walks, and she looks really pale from lack of sunlight.

So, when I saw her waving off a visitor this morning, I went out on impulse and invited her to come for a walk with me.

We had a gentle stroll across the heath (a path she'd never taken before, although she'd lived here over a decade) and I think it did help her a bit. We've arranged to do it again tomorrow.  I'd normally walk further, but I don't want to exhaust her.  Tomorrow we'll have added five year old, and I think that will be a bonus. Oswin is very good at chatting to people.  She makes instant friends.  (Last week, she invited the lady in the wholefood shop to come to her birthday party!)
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Memories

 It's funny that things that make you remember the dead.

I rarely remember the date anyone died, it's other triggers.

It's Baycon in a few weeks (a great little board game convention near Exeter).  That brings back memories of Molly, my mother-in-law.  That's where I was when my brother in law phoned to say she'd gone into hospital with terminal bowel cancer.

I remember the kindness of people I hardly knew, little things that helped me cope.  Of all things, a few yellow marbles.  Two ladies know I was looking for a yellow marble to complete a second-hand solitaire set.  They visited 'House of Marbles' and bought me four lovely marbles of different shapes and patterns. I still have them.  

On May 4th, I remember Molly in a different way.  She was born on Star Wars day, so it's easy to remember.  On that day, I go out and do something she would have enjoyed.  Often, we visit a garden centre, have lunch there and come back with a new plant for the garden.

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House sales

 When selling or buying houses, do not rely on your solicitor. The estate agent often has a better idea what is going on, and has a stronger incentive to get things moving.

If you can establish good relations with the actual buyer/seller, even better.  The person living in the house we were buying for our daughter (he was the son of the deceased) was an enormous help in all kinds of ways.  Really nice guy and happy that a family was moving into the house he had grown up in.  Showed us all the stuff that the solicitors claimed to know nothing of, from the cavity wall insulation certificates to the stop cock.  (the house was being sold through an asset management company and they took the legal line that they were not responsible for passing on information about the property as they had no personal knowledge of it)

When the chain kept wobbling because communications via the asset management company were so poor, David, ,my daughter, myself and one of the estate agents were by passing the solicitors to keep communications flowing up and down the chain as to what was actually happening and where the hold ups were.

Things were so tight that we ended up exchanging and completing on the same day (poor David was up against a really tight deadline on his move, and he would have hit real problems if the move was delayed any longer.)   I made sure our money was with the solicitor several days in advance, so that we'd be able to exchange quickly when the moment came.  Least we could do for him.)

I'm finding the same thing on the sale.  The estate agent knows more than the solicitor -especially as my contact at the solicitor is on holiday...

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Good day for the longsword team

 One of the things that bedevils morris teams is trying to recruit younger members.   The older teams get, the harder it is to recruit younger dancers.  The more women you have in a team, the harder it can become to recruit men.

The converse does not apply as strongly. It's easy to get older people to join a younger team. Women are more likely to join a predominately male team.

Around seven years ago, Anonymous Morris did a workshop with a local scout group.  It gained them a 12 year old recruit, who has grown as the team has grown, is now over 6ft tall and one of our best dancers. He recently recruited his girlfriend and she's a really good dancer too.

It looks like Southern Star may have pulled it off too. Fingers crossed.

A couple of weeks ago, we did a longsword workshop with a scout group.  We sorted the children into groups based on height (swords dances are both easier and safer when dancers in the same set are similar in height) and asked them to choose their own 'number 1'. Number 1 leads the dancers and calls the figures.

Half way through the evening, I over-rode their choice and appointed a new number 1.  It wasn't that the original boy was particularly bad, just that the new boy was significantly better. He was already calling out most of the moves, had a really good sense of position and obviously had a good visualisation of the overall dance in his head. (the group, including the former leader, were perfectly happy with this decision).

At the end of the evening, I handed out leaflets for Southern Star to all the most promising dancers and had a chat with W in particular. Turned out that he lived in Corfe Mullen...

I made it clear that he would be very welcome indeed if he did choose to join us.  

After that you just have to cross your fingers.

He didn't turn up for the two weeks after the workshop, and I'd decided that our luck wasn't in, but last night, he appeared!

Learnt everything with the speed of greased lightening, seemed to really enjoy himself and says he may bring a friend next week!

Yea!  Even teams led by ladies of age 60 can occasionally gain youngsters.  Sometimes, the dance is good enough, and the enthusiasm infectious enough to work the magic.

W is a natural.  Not one of life's extroverts, but has a sense of position that is essential for sword dancing.  He also listens and remembers.  (not familiar with the terms clockwise and anti-clockwise -but that's digital time for you - I have to remember to say right and left turn, rather than clock and a/c)

It helps that we now have four regular experienced dancers.  It's much, much easier to learn sword dancing when you have experienced dancers in the set.  As you all hold the end of someone else's sword, they can help draw you in the correct direction.  When we started out a couple of years ago, no one except myself had any experience of sword dancing and it could take ages to get a single move correct. Now, we all learn a lot faster.

So, here's hoping W is back next week!

I have a six man dance from the tradition that I'd love to try, but that will have to wait until we have eight active members.  Two of our existing members aren't flexible enough around the knees to do fast over the sword moves while rotating the circle at the same time.  For the time being, I'll teach our 3 and four man dances and look for traditional six man figures that don't involve going over the swords.

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I got this book because it was on the list of 100 best SF novels that was circulating recently, and it was only £1 on Kindle.  (It's now free!)

I don't know if I'll ever read it again, but it was certainly worth reading. 

It's a curious book. Beautifully written with text that draws on varied imagery, and uses both the nature of water and the tea ceremony to reflect the narrator's thoughts and her approach to life.
 
The author has a way of foreshadowing events that is almost spooky.  Reading one section, I knew that a character was about to die, yet upon re-reading it, I could not tell exactly had keyed me in. It was very subtle, but works, because the protagonist is a tea master - and she is able to sense when death is coming. Somehow, the writer conveys this ability to the reader.
 
In this post-climate change world, water is in very short supply, and the government use the water supply to control the population.  Finland, one of the last inhabitable areas has been ruled for a long time by people of Chinese origin and some of the names and customs reflect this.  Much technology has been lost and people scavenge the waste dumps of the past for useful items, or things that can be converted into useful objects.
 
It works well as a background and was pretty convincing overall.  the only item that really threw me out of the book was an almond tree (almonds need large amounts of water and I can't see them being grown in a region with severe water shortages).
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I love my granddaughter

 Oswin - I'm five in April

Granny - What would you like for your birthday?

Owsin - I've got lots of toys already. I don't need any more.

Granny - would you like me to give some money to a charity for you?

Oswin  - I want to help owls.

Granny - We'll make a donation to the RSPB (Royal Society for Protection of Birds) and you can sit by the computer on your birthday and help me make it.

Oswin - tell them it's for barn owls.

(Just like her mother and her uncle, her favourite bedtime audio book was 'The  owl who was afraid of the dark'. Can't recommend it too highly - just make sure you avoid any abridged versions.  It's all about Plop, a baby barn owl, who gradually moves from being scared of the dark to discovering that it's wonderful!)

She's very environmentally aware for a four year old - both her parents and grandparents are very involved on that front.  But she isn't missing out on anything - rather the opposite, I think.  She doesn't have loads of expensive toys - what she does have is lots of time spent with people who like playing games with her, talk to her about the things she enjoys (still daffodils at number 1), play shops, read books, go for walks, etc.

Time after time, I've seen her pass over the doll's house (lovely one from a charity shop), the model railway (passed down the family), piles of bricks, etc in favour of playing with totally improvised toys.

The recent favourite has been a box of stitch markers.  Little coloured things for marking positions in crochet and knitting.  Combined with the racks for holding Scrabble tiles, they are involved in some complicated game that I don't fully comprehend, but I think they're all representing children in her school, and the different colours represent different classes. They all get marched into lines and generally bossed about!

Coloured glass beads (probably intended for flower arranging originally, but I got them in a charity shop because they were pretty) are also a favourite, along with a box of assorted dice. We're gamers, we have LOTS of dice.

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Travels in Tartary

 I know some of you were interested in my review of Fathers Huc and Gabert's travels through Tibet in the early 1800s

Reapermum on LJ spotted that you can download the book (it's old and has been out of copyright for a long time), which is handy as it seems to be out of print at present.

'Lamas of the Western Havens' is only part of 'Travels in Tartary, Thibet and China'

Volumes 1 and 2 are both available on Project Gutenberg 
https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/32747
https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/33269 This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.

'Line of Separation' and learning German

 If you want a recommendation for a really good German-language (with subtitles) TV programme, then try this recommendation by londonkds.

The drama is called 'Line of Separation' and is on channel 4 iplayer.

It's set just at the end of WW2 and it's pretty harrowing.  Definitely not for children.  Well acted.

My grandparents lived through being bombed, but they never had to live through occupation - for which I am very grateful.

I'm teaching myself a little German at the moment, partly because I'm not too well at present (costochondritis).  I tire easily and can only do a limited amount of computer work before my ribs start hurting.

There's only so much TV one can watch before brain rot sets in - sitting down with board game rules in German, and a dictionary and grammar to hand, at least ensures that the brain is engaged.

There's nothing quite like trying to work out the correct ending for an adjective when used before a feminine noun in the accusative case to force you to have to think...

And if anyone can tell me why it's "keinen Dank"  - Ah, just got it.  Dank is spelt the same whether it's singlar or plural (half the online dictionaries don't tell you what the plural is, which is a right pain).  Thus, "no thanks" and keinen  with 'en' is correct for mixed declension plural before a masculine noun.  (I wanted something to distract me from stress, there's nothing like tables of endings...)

Why, why, why do languages have genders?  
What's the point?

English is good in that regard, but has its own quirks.  eg. "I hit him"  - is that present or past tense?  I never noticed before, until I was looking for simple sentences to translate and realised that I didn't know what tense to use in German. This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.

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 A book that is far more about character than plot.  Take eight people of various personalities, races, genders, etc., place them on board a space ship on a long journey and get to know them.
By the end of the book, the crew of the Wayfarer feel like old friends. You could sit down at a table with them  to eat a delicious meal cooked by Dr Chef (using ingredients from an alien marketplace), your surroundings cheerfully decorated by Kizzy from whatever she had to hand.  There would be laughs, grumbles from Corbin, an empty seat for Orhan  (who never eats communally, but still has a place in case they ever change their mind), and conversation that will cover everything from navigation issues to bad jokes.

There's a plot, though it's more a series of encounters that help us learn more about the crew, but also about what it means to be human, or indeed to be a sapient being of any kind.
 
Definitely looking forward to reading the next one!
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Judith
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Judith Proctor

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