Saturday, June 24, 2006

Some time ago

Actually, quite a long time ago now, Franklin posted about a book that was due to come out and which he thought would be well worth a read. I have now read it, in conjunction with this one. I think it was a good combination - two books from completely different perspectives both looking at communication and life across the gender divide.

If I'd only read the book which was written by a linguist (the second one), I'd have a very skewed understanding of how communication works. As a woman and a linguist, the author was quite understandably very focussed on the role of words and the meaning beneath words. The book Franklin recommended, also written by a woman, was a very good read, but not a comfortable one. I'll be going back to it a few times, I think, to see what else is waiting to bite!

I'm not going to give any more away. There's a good review linked from Franklin's post, so if you want to know more, pop over.

I've had a wretched week, but thanks to a brief conversation with the best Dad in the world (not that I'm biased or anything) I've got my head straightened out a bit and hope to get a bit more done this week coming.

You must be joking! It's nearly July, which is when our busiest season starts, I'm still trying to finish painting downstairs, and we're down to three rooms in the hotel thanks to the emergency renovations....

Sunday, June 18, 2006


The weather has, rather unexpectedly, broken. After forecasts of 19C and sunshine, we have 13C and rain. Here's hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Progress is being made on the purple pullover I'm knitting in Jaeger "Odessa". I've now completed all the bits, and the front (the last part knitted) is soaking at the moment in preparation for blocking. Pictures once it's dry, I promise.

Knitting this has entailed a number of "Firsts" for me:
  • the first pattern I chose because I liked it, and not because it came in my size
  • the first pattern I've knitted with set in sleeves
  • the first pattern where I've done serious rewriting and recalculating to get something that will (hopefully) fit me
  • the first garment I've knitted for me (other than accessories) in a lightweight yarn that is likely to suit me

There's another big first coming up: sewing in set-in sleeves. Any tips?

I've had fewer responses to my political posting than I expected. Today I received a fairly strongly worded one from a person who apparently doesn't feel quite strongly enough to provide either a name or an email address. The gist of their query seems to be whether I believe that people who do bad, even terrible, things have the same fundamental rights as people who don't. I'm paraphrasing here - do go and look at the comment yourself for the details.

As I can't reply directly, but feel that this deserves an answer, I'm going to do so here.

To put it bluntly. Yes, I do.

I believe that every human being has the right to be treated with respect, and according to the rule of law. Even if they have done, or may do, or are accused of doing, things which I find abhorrent. I believe that it is important that justice is done, and that it is seen to be done. I believe that what you do is far more important than why you do it: in other words, that there is no occasion on which it is right to say that the end justifies the means.

Until people are willing to accept that there may be more than one right way to live, or govern, then I don't see how any peace can be made to last, whether it be negotiated or imposed.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Navel Gazing

Awkward and generally uncomfortable, but sadly necessary at times.

I've been thinking about our business, and the part I play in it, rather a lot recently. Fundamentally, I think I'm in the wrong job. I'm very methodical, very orderly, and reasonably good at getting things done properly and well. Sometimes I'm even good at getting things done to a deadline, and I'm pretty good at prioritising and time-management and all the other 'management' things which people say are so important to running a business of any kind.

What I'm not good at, however, is big dreams, grand plans, or however you want to describe the process of defining where exactly it is that you want to be. Once someone else has come up with a dream, I can usually take that and fill in the annoying little details which mean it has a chance of working, but without someone else to provide that spark, I tend to do a very good impersonation of a mouse in the bottom of a barrel.


I think that means that I'm not suited to anything higher than middle management....

I'm sure part of my problem here is that we are chronically short-staffed. It's difficult to think about what you'd like to achieve when you're struggling to keep the place open and running (not to mention your eyes open and yourself running) - and even more difficult when you're dealing with fairly serious structural repairs right in the middle of the tourist season! Nevertheless, I don't believe that the overwork is the main problem. It's more that the overwork has been masking the lack of vision.

"So busy being busy, you forget what it was you were trying to do."

Thursday, June 15, 2006

We're getting our railway back

Well, sort of. It will run from Edinburgh to Tweedbank (near Galashiels) which means that instead of having the nearest railhead at St Boswells (10 miles) we'll have about double that to travel to get a train.

Details here.

The strip-out-and-fix of the family rooms continues - but a little slower than we were hoping. We have to have them ready for the 1st of July, so that's when they'll be ready ... I hope.

People from the National Museum of Scotland have arrived today to take the old mechanical dumb waiter away. Good for us, as it saves space in the skip, and good for them as they get one with all its workings intact.

And the new member of staff due to start on Tuesday didn't turn up. Didn't phone. Nothing. I simply don't understand the attitude that sends someone to interview, has them accept a job after negotiating hours to suit, has them confirm their start date and time, and then silence. The idea of recruiting a couple of overseas working holidaymakers is becoming more appealing by the minute!

Crafty stuff
Not knitting, but rag rug making. Last weekend saw me out from 10.30 until 4.30 on both Saturday and Sunday, learning about the rag rug making methods of both the UK and the USA. The course was led by Mary Dayton, who is based in Dunoon. It was fun. Really good fun. Particularly as I was concentrating so hard on learning how to do new stuff that I didn't think about the hotel more than once an hour. This is a good thing.

On the Sunday we watched a video about an American fiber artist Gloria Crouse. I can't find much on the web about her - just this episode on HGTV. Watching my fellow workshop-takers during her video was informative: Gloria seems to love bright, cheerful, loud colour combinations; and the rest of the group were squirming uncomfortably at the lack of "subtlety" and the "Americanism" of it all. I thought it was wonderful - totally appropriate for the large-scale commissions she was making. Some of the smaller rugs were very cleverly constructed too - no plain rectangles here - or with small removable bits attached with velcro to allow for a complete colour-scheme change!

The obsession of our little group with doing things that will last - no latex, as that breaks down in less than 50 years - and not spending more than you have to - buy second-hand or use your old clothes. The thought of using all new materials, as the American tradition appears to be - horrified them. The reasons given were interesting - oh, but all the reds will be the same colour if you buy them new: you want old faded colours to get more richness to your work.

Fascinating stuff.

I'll probably not do much rug making myself - but I might make little things like decorations, pictures, or bags. If you want to see what's possible, though, have a look at this.

I'll put up pictures of my own attempts as soon as I get new batteries for the camera.

Edited to add
Pictures are here. My favourites are below.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I don't normally "do" politics

but I'm going to make an exception today.

According to the BBC, three detainees at Guantanamo Bay have committed suicide. They weren't the first to attempt to do so, just the first to succeed.

The response of the Camp Commander, Rear Adm Harry Harris, has left me feeling both sickened and shocked.

Rear Adm Harris said he did not believe the men had killed themselves out of despair.

"They are smart. They are creative, they are committed," he said.

"They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

How on earth do you characterise suicide, in a cell, using bedsheets and clothing, as an act of warfare?

The men had apparently been on hunger strike, and had been force-fed by the US military, before they killed themselves. From what I've read, they must have been desperate: there is no hope of their being brought to trial, no information on what they are accused of, and hence no chance of their being able to defend themselves and either serve their punishment or be freed.

I used to have a great deal of respect for the American Dream, and the people who worked so hard to make it possible. I still think their are lots of good Americans, but my feelings towards America as a political entity are distinctly mixed.

How can you claim to uphold the rule of law, and favour democracy, when your own people are stretching the law to the point of breaking, and apparently only support democracy outwith the USA when the people vote as you want them to?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Been a bit busy recently....

Here's why.

No knitting - fingers covered in paint do not mix well with purple sparkly yarn!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Of smoke detectors and labourers

So, imagine you are going to take down an old (very old - probably over 300 years old) plaster ceiling in a room which has a smoke detector. You have been provided with detailed instructions on Health & Safety, and a set of caps to isolate any smoke detectors.

Do you:
a) wear a hard hat
b) isolate the smoke detector
c) evacuate the building when the fire alarm goes off
d) apologise

That's right, you:
e) do none of the above, and act extremely disgruntled when the site supervisor (that would be me) swears at you after the fire alarm goes off for the umpteenth time.

I really swore. Lots, and at length. Having to kick my pub customers out into the rain was bad enough, but fetching a smoke detector cap, only to find that said labourers had just fitted the one they already had - thereby trapping the dust inside the detector.... Well, lets just say that I wasn't particularly polite.

Thank heavens this lot have finished the work they're doing in the main building, and are only responsible for a little tidying up of the back carparking area.

Truly gorgeous today.
Pub front door

We ended up eating out in the beer garden, and it was lovely. We'll have that open for the weekend, which is forecast to be warm and sunny, but will then have to close it to allow for work on the ceiling/floor above.

Still plodding away on "Melissa" (see below). I've completed the back, and am trying to work out my first ever set of bust darts in knitting. I've also just realised that although the overall circumference is likely to be correct, I've miscalculated the side seam positions.


I honestly had no idea how narrow my back was compared to my front, despite much use of tape measures over the years. I am not ripping the work-to-date out, though, for two very good reasons. Firstly, this yarn doesn't survive being knit with terribly well, never mind being ripped out. Secondly, there is just no way that I'd ever knit it again if I did, so I carry on and hope for the best.