the day today

11 Sep

Right now, the flat is filled with the scent of Grundy’s Hodge-podge Chilli simmering gently on the stove top. Later, caramelising sugars and melting chocolate might filter through, too, if I can convince Matthew to bake some.

Next to me sits Yeti. She’s dreaming, of eating something, I think. Her whiskers flicker as her mouth twitches and she occasionally sniffs the sofa in front of her. Across the room, Mozzie has her tail tucked smoothly round the curve of her body.

On the coffee table is a short stack of papers, which I am supposed to be editing. I am decidedly not editing anything. Instead, I have been

  1. working on a new pattern, finally perfected after several days of knitting and ripping back. I am unabashedly pleased with this pattern and even more so the yarn. Sweet Clement merino sock is so gorgeous to work with, and has held up admirably. I’ve literally ripped back the same three inches of sock back to the cuff eight times and there’s virtually no fuzzing or splitting, or other signs of damage to the ply. Very impressive!
  2. becoming mildly obsessed with Cooking for Geeks. After listening to Jeff Potter speak to Cynthia Graber on the Scientific American podcast, I have an irrepressible urge to get me an infrared thermometer. It can only be a vast improvement to my quality of life.
  3. listening to Lingua Franca and the dulcet tones of Maria Zijlstra. as she explains the intricacies and oddities of language. She focuses primarily on Australian English – unsurprising, given she and the programme are based in Australia – but she has guests of all varieties and from all backgrounds. The other week she spoke to Steven Weinberger of the Speech Accent Archive. The archive seeks to collect and store as many examples of the following passage being spoken:

Please call Stella.  Ask her to bring these things with her from the store:  Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob.  We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids.  She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station.

It’s fascinating. It’s used for all sorts of things, from linguistic studies to voice coaching. I’m very tempted to submit a sample myself. Who knows, someone somewhere might well need to know the precise intonations and nuances of a mid-Atlantic (re: ‘educated’ middle England/lapsed Canadian) female living in London, in her early thirties. But I think I’ll wait until after I stop sounding like a pubescent 12-year-old boy. I’ve been ill all week and, as always, it’s gone straight to my throat. At IKnit yesterday someone commented it sounded like I couldn’t talk and breathe at the same time — they were right. It’s getting better, but still.

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