The February malaise extends to blogging, I’m finding.

But I did the Year of the Rat Treasure Hunt* and our team (“Plague It Again, Sam”) placed fifth in the Regular division (up from about 33rd last year, and out of hundreds of teams!) We should also have won best Film-Noir Themed Team Name but apparently there was another team with the same name and they got to the podium first**. Whatever, at least we got to feel clever! The weather was pretty lousy, windy and rainy, but not as bad as the predictions said it would be.

Also, this year we were much, much cleverer in planning our route, and we hardly saw the big parade at all. This meant that we finished much sooner, but also meant, obviously, that we didn’t see the parade which was too bad even if most of the paraders were swathed in protective plastic like ambulatory parlor furniture.

Odd treasure hunt story; so I’m standing with a crowd of about 15 other people, and we’re all looking for a number that we know is somewhere on a building. A little old man*** comes up to me and says in a thick accent “I have live here forty year. I never see this people before. What is happening?” I tell him it’s a game, a treasure hunt. “Treasure?” he says, confused. “Not real treasure,” I say, “Just a game. We get clues and have to go to places and find stuff and write it down.” “I have live here forty year!” he says, louder. “That’s nice,” I say. “Here!” he says and lunges towards me. I step back, and so the thing that he was trying to put on my shoulder instead falls to the ground. At first I think it’s a flapping wind-up toy, but then I see that it’s a small white live bird, like a small dove. I barely have enough time to register this when the little old man dives for the bird, scoops it up and makes it disappear somehow into his coat.

My teammates, having found the elusive number, attract my attention and I go to leave, when the little man is in front of me again. “Here!” he says, “This treasure! You want treasure!” He’s holding out a book; I can’t quite see what it is but it looks like an elementary school atlas or something with a purple ‘70’s looking cover. It has loose pages stuffed inside. “Here!” he says insistently. I say “No thanks! Take care!” and leave with my friends.

I’ll never get to Narnia at this rate.

* R:tAG bowed out; it was lousy weather plus he wasn’t sure if his lower back could handle the strain.

** We were also all wearing trenchcoats, fedoras and mouse noses, though the noses didn't last long. They're hard to breathe through.

*** Apparently I am a veritable magnet for strange little old men. I cannot think of a way to parlay this into anything useful, but it does appear to be my superpower.

Gung hay fat choi! I can’t believe it’s the Year of the Rat already… I’m still writing “Pig” on all my cheques. We’re doing the New Year Treasure Hunt again, and I am quite looking forwards to it. Last year we ended up in 33rd place (not bad for hundreds of teams and our first try!)

So we went and had a lovely afternoon tea*, at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco which is an amazing and elegant place. The tea was in the “Garden Court” which I expect could stand up to the Ritz or Claridge’s in London, and moved into the “Pied Piper” pub where we admired the original Maxfield Parrish over the bar. The costumes were fantastic and I have a brain-ful of ideas now. I especially liked the driving costume with goggles that one lady had (you can sort of see her behind me in the picture below). I am a fool for a goggle.

And there is a picture of us both here. R:tAG borrowed a monocle from a friend who also likes vintage clothes, and he looked quite dashing.

The dress was the most “real” thing I’ve ever sewn… by real I mean like clothing rather than like a costume. It was tedious but not difficult, except for the back closure. Which was really my fault anyway.***

I’ve been worried about my crazydar malfunctioning, and I was relieved to find that it is miscalibrated but is not completely inoperative when we were stopped by a little old man outside the pub who initially was just complimenting us on our costumes, youth and good health** but then found out I had an engineering background. He got a light in his eye, and I thought to myself “This will be either perpetual motion or Velikovsky” and sure enough, he wanted to know if I could help him with a design for an engine he had that would run on the “free energy of the universe.”

What is it about certain memes that attract certain minds (or is it vice versa?) I’m beginning to think that just like individual bodies are physically susceptible to some things (allergies, etc.) individual minds are likewise susceptible. There are generally gullible people, who just have a weak mental immune system I guess, but then there seems to be a correlation between specific ideas and specific personalities. The perpetual motion inventor, the crazy cat lady… you can almost tell by looking what their particular meme-infection is going to be.

Anyway, we politely disengaged ourselves from the little old man and wished him luck, but if you hear of a perpetual-motion solution to the world's energy problems soon, you heard it here first.

* Not High Tea, unfortunately, as I was feeling quite peckish. But they had lovely little finger sammiches of smoked duck and salmon and pear+Stilton (yum!) and cucumber, and scones, and little dainties, and about six different kinds of tea, and it was very good.

** And who doesn’t like to listen to that?

*** The pattern said to use hooks and eyes, placed alternately for strength (like, the first set would have the hook on the right, the set below would have the hook on the left, etc.). I had a devil of a time getting them to line up so I just used snaps. Mistake. Snaps are great for holding flaps together when there’s no stress, but between the close fit of the bodice and my wide shoulders, every time I moved my hand above my waist or further than 20cm from my body, I’d hear the “plink, plink, plink” of snaps popping open. I put in a few hasty hooks and eyes, so my modesty was not compromised, but I still had to ask R:tAG to re-snap me every 20 minutes or so. He took to whispering “Grrr! Hulk smash puny Edwardians!” which gave me the giggles and usually caused more snap casualties.

Work has taken a turn for the sucky. I didn’t get home much before 9:30 PM on any night last week, mainly because some mouth-breathing fellaheen in Cairo took a backhoe to a major fiberoptic trunk or something and knocked out computer communication between us and our Bangalore office. Lo, the wonders of a global economy. And R:tAG got a promotion, which is marvelous and exciting of course, but which has also meant longer hours for him.

So we’ve eaten fast food for almost every meal for a week, and I feel like the Coles’ Notes version of Supersize Me. * The fridge contains nothing but beer and a couple of condiment bottles. And here it is, Monday again, with no foreseeable change in that situation.


So next weekend, assuming we both don’t die of scurvy or pellagra or beriberi or something, we’re going to the Gilded Age Tea, which means a new dress for me and a really big hat, whee! This is how I’ve been spending the spare minutes that I have. Pix to follow, and by the way the dress dummy is turning out to be a valuable tool in the sewing room especially since I appear to be constitutionally incapable of following directions as written.** I might have to make another one but taking more care and using proper materials.

Here are some random amusing links:

Pencil Sculptures
Cool Stencils
Deja Vu All Over Again
Cloverfield in 15 Minutes
Beautiful Dirigible
My Next Knitting Project
The Perils of Pantorexia (this is "pants" in the British sense, not the North American one)
I Need This Hat
Little Savages

* Though strangely, the healthiest thing I ate was an Asian grilled chicken salad from MacDonald’s.

** I already knew this about knitting, but it turns out it's true of sewing also, which means I’m doing a lot of experimentation by draping, and that’s much, much easier on a dress dummy if one is not unnaturally bendy. Which I am not.


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