Wednesday, August 23, 2017

strangely comforting thing

And maybe a little regressive, I don't know, though it wasn't something I did as a kid.

The other night I had set my two relatively-newly-purchased G3 ponies (Toola Roola and Sew-and-Sew) out on my piano and I thought, "Their hair looks a little messy." So I took the small comb that had come with one of the more-vintage G1s I bought and combed out their hair.

It was....oddly soothing. The hair wasn't badly tangled, just a little disarranged, but smoothing it out and getting all the color blocks to stand out cleanly (both of these ponies have multicolored hair, the different colors are in "chunks") was comforting.

Maybe I see the popularity of the "brushables" now. Maybe this is kind of like those fidget spinner things (which I would find annoying to watch) for me.

I decided last night to dig out the stuffed Coco Pommel I had. Her hair had got distressingly tangled (that's the problem with the stuffed toys with dollyhair: unless you leave them sitting very still on a shelf, the hair gets tangled. Even just having them sitting on a bed where you move them out of the way when you go to sleep tangles the hair).

That took more work, and the tiny comb wasn't the best tool for it. I need to, maybe, invest in a very wide-tooth human-sized comb and use that for the bigger ponies' hair.

But I fixed it. It just takes time. And kind of like long, tangled human hair, you have to start at the END (not the scalp) and do it bit by bit, kind of "massaging out" the tangles when you get to them.

I decided I didn't want that to happen again, so I took a couple of hair-thingies I had bought but not used (one a simple elastic, the other a "flower shaped" yellow thing). I kind of wound up her tail and secured it with the elastic, and did a simple updo with her mane and used the yellow flower thing to hold it. She actually looks really cute with her hair up. (I did similar to Starlight Glimmer shortly after getting her, knowing how badly Coco's hair had tangled).

But anyway. That was how I calmed myself down last night. (I had to bake the jam bars, and that was kind of a horrorshow: the new bag of powdered sugar, I don't know if they seal them up under a vacuum or what, but it seems like when I open them, no matter how carefully I cut the bag, I wind up with puffs of powdered sugar EVERYWHERE. I confess, I didn't clean the kitchen last night, which may have been a bad move ("Do you want ants? Because this is how you get ants!") but I was tired and kind of fed up by the time I got them out of the oven.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday morning thoughts

* Wow, was I tired when I got home last night. Being out in the sun more? Allergies? First day back? I don't know. I got my piano practice done and sort-of cooked dinner (main dish was sauteed spinach*)

(*Am trying to get more iron after, um, recent events suggest to me I probably need to be careful about replacing it)

I knit a few rounds on the Grasse Matinee (I am 2" or so from being able to do the edging of the body. I have decided I want to AT LEAST get to the sleeves on this before starting anything else new).

And then I just had to go to bed. It's been a long time since I felt that extremely tired. (Possibly related: my blood pressure, when I took it, was down to around 110/60, which is not abnormally low but is a bit low for me)

* Our enrollment is up about 6.5% over last year. And yes, I know, to a certain extent these numbers are gamed (counting people taking one on-line course the same as a full time student) but I know in the brave new world of lowered state appropriations, we live and die by enrollment. (There's also some evidence that one of our "sister schools" is hurting far, far worse than they let on publicly. I feel bad about that from the standpoint that I know faculty there, but I feel also like that may ultimately benefit us. I hate that circle-the-wagons feeling like it's a small pie and if we can get a bigger piece that's great even if it means someone else gets a smaller one, but that's what circumstances have reduced us to).

* Saw another TSET "nannying" ad this morning. (TSET is the group tasked with using the "tobacco settlement" money. Its original plan was to use it for tobacco-abatement education, but it's experienced mission creep, like just about anything in government that has a budget). This one is about exercise and my goodness. Yes, I think MOST adults are aware they need to exercise. The ad implied we should be doing an hour a day.

Now, I probably exercise more than average, and I can't/won't do an hour every day. I MIGHT do an hour occasionally if I'm out hiking or doing yardwork or something actually fun. But I'm not going to be on a bike that goes nowhere for an hour or similar - and not every day, because I'm old and creaky and tend to hurt myself if I overdo.

And yes, I realize this is, to lightly euphemise a favorite phrase of an old friend, "My stuff," but this kind of thing doesn't work so well on me because it makes me feel uncomfortable and guilty and tune out the message. I am pretty sure it's being done on the same grounds that some etiquette experts suggest, instead of getting-mad-at and confronting that chronically late friend, you just tell them the meeting time is 15 minutes to a half-hour earlier than you expect it to be - in other words, they are telling us to work out for an hour in the hopes of getting us to do 15 minutes.

That might work on most people. It doesn't work on recovering perfectionists like me. I was actually wondering, "If I got up early and did my usual 1/2 hour to 40 minutes, could I cram in another 20 minutes later in the day? And I realized, no, not really, not with piano practice* and cooking and laundry and in a few weeks grading and afternoon/evening meetings and everything else.

(*And darn it, no. I am NOT giving that up)

But the thing is - with other ads suggesting we all need a "side hustle" (and I suppose in some careers, you do) and all of that - when do we sleep? When do we relax? Everything just seems a little too much some times. Life is, and should be, more than just work and exercise and housework.

Also, and this is an issue that came up in all the budget cutting last year: why can not some of this "education" money be diverted to places where it would really count, like actual health care or one-on-one health education for those who don't get it already? Instead of spamming all of us with ads that frankly tick some of us off, and the rest of us ignore?

(Follow the money, I suppose)

Anyway. As I said on Twitter I generally avoid soda but the sugar-soda-shaming ads from the same outlet kind of want me to DRINK a soda in defiance. (I keep that flavored seltzer stuff on hand - no sugar and generally no salt, but it satisfies the need for something fizzy when you want it. Once in a very great while, if I am eating a meal out somewhere, I will have a lemon-lime soda or a root beer, but that's not more than once a month)

* One of the older men in the congregation I belong to died. He had been unwell for quite a while (Had had several surgeries, mainly to try to correct some circulatory issues). His wife has also struggled. I feel sad that he's gone but at least he's out of pain now.

The funeral is Thursday, I got a call last night asking if I could make the jam bars I often make for receptions and bring them down. (They know I am busy with teaching so big things are off the table, as is serving at the luncheon). I said yes, I could do that - I will probably pick up the couple of things I need (ground pecans and powdered sugar) at the Green Spray on my way home and do them tonight.

And a couple of thoughts:

- When you're a "church lady" (And I think I can call myself that, even if I didn't follow the standard "adult woman" path of marriage-and-children), you often have something specific you're called on to make. For my mom, it's often her "Aunt Lou's Orange Cake" that she's made a lot for funerals. Or her seven-layer salad. I don't know. There's something I just LIKE about that idea, that everyone has their "thing" they do, and that in cases of a death (or a happier occasion, like the installation of a new minister), you get called on to make that thing and bring it and people kind of expect it.

- Also, the funeral - which is at 1 pm Thursday and I think I will go to, I can run out after class and if I have to skip lunch, so be it - is on the same day as this "Be a Rockstar Teacher" program that's on campus. It has been very heavily advertised and as I commented before, I dislike the whole idea of pushing people to be "Rockstars," because I have a specific stereotypical idea of what a "Rockstar" is, and I see it as being more about the person and what they get and how they benefit, than it is about doing the best job possible and using your own special talents in your own particular way to benefit others. I've also said that as a culture we need fewer wannabee "rockstars" and more just solid decent people you can depend on. (There was a mention - just one, I counted - of "servant leadership" in the various meetings I was at last week. And granted, you far, far more commonly hear "servant leadership" discussed in a religious setting - it's a big thing we talk about in my congregation - but I tend to see that as a better model than the "Okay, I'm in charge, so what perks do I get now?" idea that seems to be so common these days. The problem, of course, is that "servant leadership" can be very tiring....)

But anyway: I'd far rather make jam bars for the reception for the F family, and go to Mr. F.'s funeral, than go to that program. It's not that I don't WANT to improve my's partly that I think the model of how I would work to improve would be different from "rockstar," but also, there are things that are far more important (like being there for people) to me than being seen as a "rockstar" is.

* There's been some talk lately about the various factions in our culture, and how some groups feel downtrodden and the like, and also there was discussion I saw of "Hey, have you noticed: sitcoms are all pretty much about upper-middle-class lifestyles, even if the people portrayed are supposed to be in the working class?" and the idea of the inflation of what we think we deserve and everything.

And I don't know. I know I've been very blessed in my life (or, if you prefer: had my share of privilege)  but another thing I've learned is: you have to define "success" for yourself. What makes another person a "success" isn't necessarily what will do it for you, and if everyone decides they need fame and fortune....well, there are gonna be a lot of disappointed people.

And granted, maybe for some, success is that figurative gold-plated toilet. But that's not what it takes for all of us to feel successful. The thing I want most, I guess, is to feel like I've made a difference somehow. On good days I feel that. And sometimes, yes, "making a difference" means you make do with less, or you don't advance yourself as much. But that's okay... Which is why I'm going to the funeral of a man I really didn't know ALL that well (I know his wife better, have served on committees with her) instead of some get-ahead seminar.

I also think perhaps, thinking of the other person instead of yourself gets you out of your head a little - and maybe it does choke off some of that nascent dissatisfaction about "why don't I even have a gold-plated sink tap, when there are people who have entirely gold-plated bathrooms" (and of course, in some cases, going out to help the other guy maybe reminds you that there are people in this world who don't have a bathroom AT ALL....)

Monday, August 21, 2017

some eclipse thoughts

Leading up to it, I was kind of like "meh." My main interest was in maybe seeing it get dark in the middle of the day, and cooler (it's been brutally hot here again).

I also got really tired of all the constant hype. One of the things our culture is bad at, I think, is hyping things up to the point where you're sick of them before they even happen (related: they had Hallowe'en and even Thanksgiving decor up at the JoAnn's this weekend).

But I had my dumb little mylar pinhole projector (I saved the Mylar baggie Applejack came in, cut a square of it, mounted it in a cardboard frame and figured I'd project the eclipse). Then the head of Chemistry announced they had glasses to give out at the student union. I decided against hiking over there - it's hot, and anyway, I figured I'd either wait in line for ever or they'd run out. Turns out I didn't need to.

I was using my dumb little projector (which actually works, but you can't see much detail) when my colleague T. stopped me in the hall and said he had a piece of the smoked glass out of a welding helmet that was safe to use - so I got a quick glance at the sun that way (at about 50% coverage). And I was watching the coverage NASA was doing out of Casper, Wyoming.

I have indirect memories of Casper - the name is familiar to me (I think I actually WAS there, once) because my dad, every summer, would lead geology Field Camp there (at Casper College - when I was a kid I think I had a Casper College t-shirt he brought me back). That was 35 or more years ago now.

But the Casper coverage made me happy. It was pretty much the science of it and what was being observed.

I tried some coverage out of Nebraska first, and it was like a giant party and they also had a certain "Science Celebrity" there and frankly, I take a dim view of that sort of thing - where it makes it more about the PERSON than the PHENOMENON. And they had a band playing goofy songs and I thought, "Yeah, they're positioning it as the Nerd Woodstock" and I was immediately turned off because I'm old and grumpy. Also, at one point Science Celebrity lead the crowd in a chant of something like "It's Not Mysticism, It's Science!" and I was like, meh, can we not celebrate BOTH the scientific aspects of this and maybe the mythos/spiritual side? I dislike it when either side is hostile towards the other, as someone whose life straddles the scientific and the spiritual. (Part of it is anyone doing that kind of stuff makes me feel like, "Well, I don't fit in THERE, I guess" and I hate feeling that way). I mean, this isn't like it's some giant celebration of Science defeating Unreason or something - yes, I suppose it's a big world and there are Eclipse Deniers or something out there, but it does feel very much like one particular crowd going "This is ours alone, and we don't want you getting any of your religion cooties on it!" And that actually turns me off of the whole "Science: it works, b*tches" and similar stuff you see. Yes, science is a very useful way of looking at certain things, and scientific research has done stuff like virtually eliminate polio, and all but the most extreme and deluded of religious people look at that and go "That's good! That's the kind of thing people were put here to do!" But there's also a moral/ethical dimension to life and often spirtuality or faith are MORE important than science for informing that dimension. There are things we can do (medically and otherwise) that we should not do, and without that ethical governor on the system, things could spin badly out of control. I tend to see - as someone who is perhaps a bit more religiously liberal (in the sense of not demanding the Bible be taken as literal) and who is a scientist but also a person of faith - that there are ways the two can work together. (But another thing our culture tends to do poorly, I think, is moderation)

There's also something to be said for a simple old-fashioned sense of wonder about things, without having to overexplain it or turn it into a weapon to beat people who are different from you with. I liked the little low-key eclipse-viewing in my department; there was mostly just a lot of "wow, this is cool" and no larger discussion of what it "meant."

I wish there were less hostility between the two and yes I do see it coming from both sides, speaking as someone who's in the middle.

Anyway. Rant mode off.

But the Casper coverage was nice. They had a woman from NASA talking about it and showing the different ways you can quickly make a pinhole projector (you could even use a piece of pegboard!). And there was a guy talking about historical artwork (some scientific, some tribal/spiritual) dealing with eclipses. I thought it was much better coverage - more low-key, more about the event - than the party atmosphere the other place had.

I went back out to look again, and ran into my colleague D. And it turned out he had a bunch of the eclipse glasses that Chemistry was handing out - so I went out and stood in the back parking lot with him and a couple of the students and we passed the glasses around and looked. And T. came out and watched with us.  And I remembered the '79 partial eclipse (D. remembered that eclipse too, he's only a year younger than I am - and T. is maybe 8 years older, so he talked about having been in metals shop and them taking the welding hoods out). And at peak, I remembered something, either from the '79 eclipse or the one I didn't get to see in Hawaii about 25 years ago - that the shadows of the leaves will sort of "project" the eclipse, being like a pinhole. So I pointed that out and D. took a photo, and then T. realized "Hey, you can make a pinhole by curling up your index finger and project the eclipse that way!" and we all had to do that too, and D. took a picture of me (well, my hand) doing it.

So it was fun. I feel almost a little bit about it like I did about the Prince William/Kate Middleton wedding: I was SO eye-rolly about it in the days leading up to it, but when I saw a little of it, and saw how the people watching it were SO happy about it, I changed my mind. I dunno. Something that makes people happy (while doing harm to none) is a good thing. The eclipse was a good thing and I'm happy now I took (a little bit) of a part in it and got to kind of see it.

I don't feel sorry I didn't make the effort to travel to see totality, though that would have been kind of cool (the excitement from the people in Casper when it passed over was great).

And as someone said on Twitter: "I like it when we are all talking about something but it is a fun science thing instead of something terrible." True that, and I wish we had more things like that.

A little tradition

First day of classes here (even though I've already had several e-mails begging to be excused - or rather, asking forgiveness rather than permission to be absent - from people who traveled to the Totality Zone for the eclipse).

Anyway, I used to have a little tradition of posting a version of Brahms' "Academic Festival Overture" (a favorite piece of music and also one that, when I was younger, stupider, and more idealistic, encapsulated some of my romantic dreams of what academia was like).

I didn't last year. But 2016 was an annus horribilus in many ways, and a lot of things I once did got side-tracked that year and I'm only slowly coming back to them.

So anyway. Here's hoping for better times ahead, even though my nature is to prepare for the worst.

This is, I think, a different version than I posted before. It's the CSO with Sir George Solti conducting.

I have gotten back to some "older" ways of doing things, which are maybe better ways:

1. Getting up early to work out. This has a couple of benefits - first, I am doing what is honestly a rather boring process while I am still slightly asleep, so it seems less boring. Second, as I said the other day, it drains away some of the nervous energy I seem to build up and helps me cope with the lowgrade anxiety that always seems to accompany me these days. And third, even if I accomplish NOTHING else in the day, I can say "At least I got a workout in." And based on a sample size of a couple days - I seem less likely to hurt myself first thing in the morning, I don't know if it's because I don't push quite so hard or maybe my muscles aren't tense from the day.

2. Trying to actively decouple from the internet in the afternoon/evening and knitting instead. I have maybe 1/3 of the back of the Augusta cardigan (just plain stockinette here) knit because I watched a movie ("The King's Speech") Sunday afternoon, and also because I just sat and knitted. I have too much yarn ahead and too many things I want to make not to be knitting in my free time.

3. Going to bed MUCH earlier, reading for 1/2 hour or so, and going to sleep earlier. This is necessary for my slightly-before-5-am wake-time for exercise, but maybe Ben Franklin had this one right, I don't know.

I'm still working on Moby-Dick and am determined to finish it this fall. (Again: I have too many books not to spend time reading them)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

And maybe another?

The yarn I ordered earlier for Great Horn-Rimmed came today (Huh. For once SmartPost delivered when they said it would).

So I don't know - I have an extra row-counter, I have the right sized needle free, maybe I consider starting this soon. (I think instead of swatching this I am just going to START, and trust that it will work out/just unravel and go back to use a different needle if it doesn't work out).

I'm really happy with the substitute color choices. As I said, Rauma was too expensive (and too much effort, would have to either order it from Europe or would have to go a couple different places for it) and Palette was more reasonable and had pretty much comparable colors:

great hornrimmed

I'm excited for this. My first ever colorwork sweater, and my first ever steeking!

New sweater time

Because I found such great buttons yesterday, I decided to go ahead and start the Augusta Cardigan. I swatched for it last night. I don't wash and block my swatches even though I knew some recommend it; I figure if you can get gauge with a plain old wool yarn, blocking won't change that, and you can even play a little with the blocking to stretch or squash a little.

The yarn I'm using is an old (long discontinued) K1C2 yarn called Camelino. I suspect it's *slightly* crisper than the recommended yarn, but I think that will actually be good for the stitch definition of the cables.

sweater start

You can see the color there. It's sort of a dark honey color, or maybe a golden brown. I think it will be a good color. It's hard to see the buttons I bought so I tried a close up.

They're glass! Made in the Czech Republic, and a lot of the really old-school glass buttons were made in Czechoslovakia (I have some from an antique store, and one of my sweaters boasts a set). I wonder if maybe some of the same factories/equipment are used. (These are buttons by Blumenthal/La Mode).


Yeah, I love having fancy buttons for my knitwear. I figure, I'm taking umpteen hours to knit a sweater, so I think spending maybe $5 more to get "just the right buttons" instead of going with the cheapest option makes sense. And good buttons are almost like jewelry.

My plan for today is to finish up my piano practice and then maybe put a movie on (I have a copy of "The King's Speech" and I never watched it through) and start in on this. (The back is all plain stockinette; I can't decide whether to start that first or to do the fronts - which have cabling - first).

I'm making a bigger size (44"). I'm reasonably sure the 41" size would fit me, but the more generously-cut one will be good for OVER things, and also, sometimes you just want a cardigan a little bit baggy. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

One quick thing

Getting out did help me feel better. I have food ahead for the next couple weeks and also got some of the things I like a lot but cannot find locally.

And I bought more bath fizzies. Yes, they are expensive for the fact that they are one-use item, but they are a pleasant and enjoyable thing and are cheaper than going to the spa (or even a fancy bar drink) and hot baths are often how I relax at the end of the week, so.

I also think the Augusta cardigan has leapt ahead in the queue (unless I start both it and Heliopath....)because I found the PERFECT buttons for it at the JoAnn's - some of those vintage-reproduction ones that La Mode does. (I will photograph the yarn and buttons, and maybe the swatch if I do it tonight....but soon I need to do more piano practice).

I also bought this at the Books a Million:

Yes, Hasbro has licensed some of the G1 characters to be made in Blindbox form. They were expensive - $14 (I get 10% off though) so I only bought one, but you're going to get to see me unbox it. I don't know which one it is yet. I hope it's a good one.

The boxes are hard to open - glued tight shut and also taped shut. I suppose they don't want people "peeking" and also maybe these are easy for people to shoplift. (I think the guy had to deactivate a theft control thing when he rang it up for me).

There is a foil bag in there just like the Funko blind bags have.

It feels like there's also a collector card or something in there too.

So, here goes...



It's Applejack! Who in G1 was a very "silly" and also clumsy pony. And yes, there's a little collector card with her description: "Applejack is a clumsy Earth Pony who loves apples! Even though she's clumsy, she can always rely on her friends to help her. Her cutie mark is seven apples."

I don't have a G1 Applejack so I can put her with the other G1s I have...even though she's more the size of the baby ponies than the grown ones.

But yeah - I might actually, as a young teen, have bought some of these if they had been more like this - I loved toys with movable poseable legs.

another little job

I'm (one of) the tech editors for a small regional journal. This USUALLY means proofreading and doing stuff with helping people decide on keywords (though in this era of online journal searches, I suspect keywords are less crucial than they once were).

Well, I got a paper yesterday for them.

It's an "historical" paper. As in, a thesis written years ago and never published (this journal tends to do this, to get information out of the "grey literature" and where people can find it.)

Problem? The species names. I have to check every single one of them to see (a) is it up to date - that is, is it the currently-accepted one and (b) get the "authority" name - that is, the person credited with giving it that name/the species description.

This is a thing. In fact, there are sort of low-grade fights over who has "authority" or who had the first published account and what makes the name valid. (There are international governing bodies that determine if scientific names are valid or not. You can't just slap a name on a new species and call it good - you have to go through the proper body).

In a way, I admit I find it a little laughable. (I'm a field ecologist; I tend to, taxonomically-speaking, be a lumper rather than a splitter, and I've told students "If we don't know what a plant is for sure, it's more important we all call it the same thing than that we necessarily get it right" - oh, if we're going to publish results, we take a piece of it and do our best to key it out in the lab, but I'm not going to waste a half-hour of field time dithering over which species of goldenrod something is)

I kind of griped about it yesterday when I got it - of COURSE it would come right before classes started, and of COURSE it would be a paper with like three hundred species names to check in it. is the kind of work I can do in little bits, 15 or 20 minutes here or there, as I have time (good office-hours stuff). I have a printout of the paper and I just checkmark things as I have completed them so I know right where I am. And secretly....I kind of like this work. Because it's fiddly but not hard, and it's not super-high-stakes: it's not my paper, and there's another editor who will likely catch it if I happen to miss one.

And I realized: holy cow, if Lisa Simpson grew up to be a botanist, this is what she'd be doing. (She'd be a taxonomist, I think). This is as close to "proofreading" as you get in botany. (And famously, in one of the Treehouse of Horror specials, her skill at proofreading was what earned her a seat on the rocket-ship "Ark" that was going to take people from a doomed Earth to a new home). And granted, I tend to think that in the world the way it is today, that skill would be laughed at and I'd be put on the "B" Ark (the one going to the sun) in order to give my space to yet another pop diva or utility infielder or low-level politician, but it is a skill I do tend to pride myself on slightly.

(And anyway: they gave me a little start-up money for a project, and they are probably publishing a paper of mine, so I feel like I might as well throw a little service their way)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

an early night

(The bomb thing was resolved peacefully. The guy was arrested, the bomb squad came and took the device away, the neighborhood opened back up. Best possible resolution.)

My piano teacher called - parent-teacher conferences are running long so she's coming tomorrow at 6. I THINK I can still get to Sherman and back but perhaps (womp womp) I cut out going antiquing and just make it a "necessary things" trip. Maybe I go to the Books A Million and just buy whatever appealing blindbag toys they have. Or to the JoAnn's and just spend time looking at the beads and stuff. Even not buying anything, for some reason, looking at the racks of beads or buttons soothes me.

(Reminder: get plain yogurt, you need to start carrying lunches again)

So I have sheets in the wash and as soon as they go in the dryer I am going to shower, and then change my sheets, and probably go to bed early. I might wind off the Lustra and have a go at swatching it, I don't know.

I'm tired. I suppose part of it is meetings - sitting in meetings, the "hurry up and wait" of it all makes me tired.

Our enrollment is up slightly but credit-hour production is down: more people are coming to school BUT they are taking fewer classes (more part-timers, more people who have to work). The budget is still uncertain because apparently the Legislature tried to pull an end-run by adding a $1.50 "fee" to a pack of cigarettes to make up for lost revenue and the state Supreme Court said that it was a tax, not a fee, and they didn't go through proper channels to establish the that (potential) revenue is gone, which may come back to bite US somehow.

Interesting how yesterday the campus president said "we won't have furlough days" and today he said, "I don't foresee us having furlough days." Maybe I'm reading too much into that and am too much a pessimist....

he also noted that that was the decision he lost the most sleep over in his career as our president. I would like to somewhat grumpily tell him that a lot of US lost a lot of sleep over the furlough days as well. I mean, I get that he didn't have a choice, but....that, as much as anything in my time here, has done more to "break" me and kill my remaining idealism.

And yeah, there haven't even been cost-of-living increases for several years. (I'm doing OK, financially, it's just...there's something symbolic about a lot of the things that go on and it's hard to keep on "going that extra mile" as we were exhorted to today when there's what we do is appreciated. I don't know if the administration and the regents realize just how tired some of us are, and how close the well is to empty for some of us....)

I dunno. I recognize a big part of this is (a) It's August and everything feels like a sweaty armpit, (b) the rain we have had has led to a spike in mold spores and mold makes my allergies make me feel depressed and (c) apprehension about the start of classes coupled with that weird "hanging around with not much to do" feeling

Part of the problem is also uncertainty. I don't deal well at all with uncertainty, with not knowing. As I said, I'm the kind of person who needs plans A, B, C, D, E, and F through Z and not knowing which plan I'm going to have to pull out bothers me. And not knowing what I might have to be bracing for bothers me. (Honestly? The worst time in the dentist's chair for me is when he's inspecting my teeth and "hmm"ing and "aaaah"ing, not when he's already said, "Well, you have a cavity you will need to get filled")

I'm telling myself nice clean sheets on the bed and going to bed and reading a mystery (instead of "Moby-Dick," just for tonight) will make me feel better and happier. (What I really need, I think, is a hug, but that's not going to be forthcoming, so....we beat on, boats against the current, or something.)

a bad start

Today is the first day of school for the grade-school kids in my town.

Guess what happened near one of the elementary schools (the one on the south side of town)?

An alleged pipe bomb was found in a car. Yeah. The school is on lockdown. Those poor kids - in fact, I think there's a kindergarten there so for some kids this is their first day of school, and this is what happens. I hope the teachers manage to keep things calm and maybe even try to keep the scariest stuff from the kids.

There's a suspect in custody, apparently had warrants out for his arrest and the classic "alcohol is suspected to be involved" line was given in the brief news story.

They're still waiting on a bomb squad as of about an hour ago.

but yeah. This is really not cool. And yes, I know, 13 or more people are dead in Barcelona because of yet another van attack. There is just too much bad stuff coming too fast and too loudly.

The only thing I can say about the pipe-bomb thing is (a) at least it didn't go off and I assume the bomb squad will defuse it - if it is even a bomb, it could be a fake, that's happened and (b) speaking selfishly, this is on the other side of town from where I work and live so I'm safe where I am and I should have no trouble getting home.

But still. Those poor kids. I would have been freaked out by a "lockdown" when I was a schoolkid. I marvel that back then - more innocent times, I guess - the big concerns were tornadoes or getting everyone out fast enough if there were a fire. (We had tornado drills and fire drills; we never even though of the possibility  of "armed invader" drills).

I just want to build a blanket fort.

Wednesday morning things

Another bad light last night. It was too much rushing around late. I got to looking at the instructions for the Heliopath Vest and the amounts of yarn and was like "waaaaaaiiiit...." and went and looked at the Lustro I had.

Five skeins. At 197 yards each. The pattern, to make the size fit me, calls for 5, 200-yard skeins (I am substituting yarn, but as the yarn used is a "grabby" sort of yarn, I don't think the Lustro will be bad for it).

But anyway. For about 10 minutes I thought I had bought too little yarn. And this was several years ago, I don't even know if Lustro is still being produced (let alone trying to get any in the same dye lot).

I didn't wind the yarn off (as I had been thinking of doing) because my mind went to "oh, you won't have enough, not even for the one-size-smaller than you'd been thinking of doing." And I thought, "maybe I'll just need to sell it on Ravelry" and felt very disappointed.

Then I thought, wait, maybe you bought more yarn and one skein got separated? And then I thought, you photographed that yarn for your blog, maybe you can look up the photo and count skeins.

While waiting for the computer to boot up and find the wifi, I dug back in that same container of yarn....and there it was.

Yeah, I have six skeins. Six times 197 is 1182, and the largest amount required for the size I might make is 1100 (I am going to have to measure myself wearing a  blouse I might wear under it and decide if the 41 3/4" size will be big enough or if I have to do the 45" size - that bigger size will probably be baggy but I don't want it to be too tight across the chest).

But of course, by then I was kind of upset and had been rushing around.

And then, after getting in bed, there were a couple power flickers, which led to my dehumidifier beeping. I don't know why - we didn't get storms until v. early this morning. But when I got up to check on the dehumidifier I realized its "clean the filter" light was on - which maybe was messing with it, I don't know. (The power flickers, if they were, weren't enough to reset my digital clock). So at 11:00 at night I was washing the stupid dehumidifier filter because then I was scared to run it with the dirty filter. (There have been too many news stories about houses that burned because of malfunctioning electrical appliances).


Am still kind of unhappy with the whole human race. Yes, "whole" is a pretty strong word and I still love the individual people I am around but....just any mass of humanity makes me suspicious these days.

the survivalist types say "avoid large crowds" (because crowds are what the bad guys target, even if the crowd themselves are "good guys") and I am beginning to think they are right. Also mobs of people just in general behave less-rationally, I think, than the average individual person.

And yes, I get that "loving" people in the agape sense doesn't mean putting up with their nonsense, and it means loving them DESPITE being frustrated with all of the things they do that are not good. But I get tired.


I also had a minor epiphany this morning.

You know that old Beach Boys song, "God only Knows" ("I may not always love you....but long as there are stars above you....")

When I was younger, I loved that song. I hoped that some day I would have someone in my life who would love me like that, where I was essentially the whole world to him, and to have that kind of meaning in someone's life.

As I got a little older, and learned more about humanity, I realized how absolutely rare that kind of love is....and that it was probably something I'd never get to have (and with each year that passes, it becomes less likely).

I realized this morning (after a chain of clicking made me listen to it again) that it would be kind of exhausting for me now to have someone who depended on me so much that he could literally not imagine how he'd live without me there....and yeah, maybe that level of dependence is a little creepy, I don't know, if you take it literally.

I get that the song is really late-teen/early-20s romanticism talking, but a grown-up person needs to depend on themselves and not be so welded to another person that they cannot envision life without them. (Because life is unpredictable - as my mother told me when I was a girl, "There are lots of good men out there but you cannot depend on one for your sole support" - she saw both her sisters lose two husbands apiece fairly young.)

I dunno, though. It does get hard sometimes being pretty much your sole emotional support. And it kind of stinks when you realize you're someone who's tried hard to take up so little "space" in people's live that you've effectively edited yourself out of them, and you wind up feeling like you don't matter that much to anyone.


I still tentatively plan to go to Sherman tomorrow. No idea how long the faculty meeting will last but I can't believe it will be more than 2 1/2 hours (it starts at 9).

I don't know. I need to go grocery shopping (there are certain things I really like that no local store carries - I have been relying heavily on Manischewitz brand "fine egg noodles" for a starch, they are the best egg noodles I've been able to buy around here, but the local stores only sell that "No Yolks" brand, which I do not like). I want to go antiquing but if I get off very late there won't be time to do everything, and also places will be crowded because it's Friday. I don't know. I'll have to see how I feel then and how late it is when I walk out of the meeting.


I think I'm also just cranky because my bad shoulder has been bothering me. I am taking today off from exercising because it was so bad last night. (I think this is that I broke the collarbone a few years back in a fall, didn't realize I had, and it healed a little funny and now I have arthritis or something there. And when I'm tense and when it's humid, that conspires to make the arthritis flare up. Periodically it will "pop" and sometimes that makes it stop hurting for a while)

Also, my hip bursitis is back a little bit. Again, I think it's the humidity that's doing it.

And I'm still afraid to take NSAIDS because I don't want to mess up my stomach again (and tylenol does nothing for me) so I just kind of tough it out. (It's also too hot to put a heating pad on the aching areas....)


One other thing - this came across Twitter and I admit I like it.

My own literal "neighborhood" is okay these days, save for one set of neighbors who like to play audio a bit louder than I'd choose, but if you think of "neighborhood" in the sense of Luke 10:29, yes, it works:

I feel that very much. (Or, again, as my mother said on more than one occasion: "I raised you kids to be too nice")

Mr. Rogers was great about teaching you to love your neighbors but I don't remember him ever covering what you do if you have to confront your neighbors over something they are doing that is wrong...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

And looking ahead

Thinking of new projects, since I think my knitting mojo (or rather, desire to knit) is slowly returning.

I am considering winding off the Lustro I have in stash for the "Heliopath Vest" and starting that. (I am also thinking maybe this is a good time to finally read the last three books of Harry Potter. Yes, I know it gets "dark" and that it's fundamentally a parable about fighting fascism but....the idea of the good guys winning in the end is appealing. I do have to finish "Moby-Dick" first, though, I think)

I also broke down - after literally years of looking at the pattern - and ordered yarn for the Great Horn-Rimmed. No, not the Rauma listed there - no one retailer had all the "right" colors and at that, at the cheapest, it would be like $140 to make a vest to fit me. Instead, I did my best - flipping between the Rauma distributor site and the KnitPicks site - to pick colors of their Palette yarn that would work. That cost about $60 (and I will probably have yarn leftover as Palette is a longer put-up than the Rauma).

Yes, I know I said I hated doing colorwork. Yes, I have another colorwork vest yarn (the Edward VII vest from Folk Vests) tucked away. But I don't know. For some reason I want some big complex sink-into-it project right now. I might even cast this on (provided I have the right sized needle free) when the yarn arrives. (It is due Saturday, but it's also coming SmartPost, so it might not get here until Monday or later....)

I am also telling myself that that owl vest is NOT too "twee" and "young" for someone of my age and necessary gravitas (necessary, given some of the students I've had - if you act too much like them, you lose some of the respect. And also necessary, I think, because I feel that it is more becoming to someone of my size to carry herself with gravitas than otherwise).

However, speaking of "twee" and "young" - I keep looking at the big "polar bear head purse" (a round, cartoony polar bear head that has a catch at the top and a string so you can wear it like a purse) and realizing I never will feel comfortable using it in public. I am trying to decide (I might have to ask my mom) if it's something my niece would like or, failing that, seeing if I can find a friend who has a kid who would want it. I kind of hate giving it up because it's cute but, as I said, I'd never feel brave enough to walk out of the house carrying it (not even as part of a costume, I suspect).

I also think I need to dig out some of my Jane Brocket books and look at them again. (Sadly, she seems to have quit blogging - it's been more than a year - but at least I can revisit her writing). I think I need some comfort and coziness and domesticity right now.

Another vague thought: buy a bunch more row-counters the next time I'm at JoAnn's (possibly Friday afternoon) and just start all the projects I want to, and work on whatever I feel like, and figure everything will eventually get finished somehow. I don't know. I am in the mood to start all the things which can be bad news for getting anything finished.

And starting anew

Early morning meetings today (ugh).

I decided to start over with some new scheduling. Today was Day 1 of getting up early and exercising first thing again. I had done this for years and years, on the grounds that at 5 am, it's exceptionally unlikely anyone is going to "need" me for anything. But I quit late last year in favor of late-day exercising, after ongoing indigestion problems suggested working out on a totally empty stomach was unwise (and it was too early to get up, eat breakfast, wait for it to settle, and then work out). But working out at the end of the day is a drag, and if I had evening meetings it meant it was harder to get it in.

Also, I think some of my "bleak moods" are tied to not exercising in the morning - I have a suspicion some of the anxiety I feel gets bled away by exercising, and by doing it early, I'm in a better mood.

So I did that today. Right now I think I feel better than I had previously. We'll see how this works out. If I start having stomach issues again I'll have to shift back, but otherwise, it IS kind of a relief to know that at least I have exercised, even if I don't get much else done in a day.

I also decided I have to disengage from the Internet earlier in the evening, for two reasons - first, so I will sleep better and second, so I can spend some of my free time knitting instead. I added maybe an inch to the Grasse Matinee last night (the end bit of this is v. slow going. I can't wait to move on to the sleeves...)

I slept some better last night, but....there may have been a reason why I was sad and crabby and sleeping badly this week or so. Yeah, my stupid body.

(And again, more for me than for you: time to reset the time-to-menopause clock. Sigh.)

I'm also making a dumb little ritual of saying "goodnight" on Twitter when I log off in the early evening; I think to does help me to disconnect and not go running back to check again; I guess I feel like the people who follow me will know that if they tweet at me, I won't get it until the next morning.

So, I'm stuck in meetings from 8 until noon. After that, I don't know - I might just come home and relax.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Well, that's done

Home from the doctor.

My weight had not changed. I hoped for a little loss, but then again - I've been coming home for lunch every day this summer, and I know I haven't exactly been abstemious. (I probably need to be more careful than I am.)

She said my bloodwork was "very good, and very consistent" (I presume that means she was finally able to get my records from the clinic she was formerly with; I know that was a problem earlier on) and so I don't need to do it again until next year. She also said my home blood pressure readings were very consistent and were good. (They bounce anywhere from 110-130 on the systolic and 70-80ish on the diastolic, but I guess that's pretty consistent? I don't know, the whole "high blood pressure" thing is still fairly new for me).

My blood pressure while there was....not so good. For one thing I get "performance anxiety" over stuff like that (I WANT it to be low and that jinxes me). Also, I don't know for sure if it was a child or a "challenged" adult in one of the other rooms having to get a shot, but someone (either a woman or a girl or a young boy) was SCREAMING and sobbing about the shot and how they didn't want it, and it went on and on....and sitting there in the waiting room I thought, "This is not good for my blood pressure" because hearing someone else upset makes me tense and unhappy.

I did not like getting shots as a child but I remember my MO as being more sitting there, hot silent tears running down my face and feeling anger at the nurse who was having to give it. (I still don't like them but I dislike getting sick even more, so, I get them)

I did mention that I "seemed to pull muscles more easily" and her suggestion was I needed to stretch more before working out (she asked me what exercise I did) and that I probably don't drink enough water. (That could well be the case, and I need to do more of that). She didn't mention my weight which I admit  is probably  too high to be healthy long-term but she did comment that she thought the level of exercise I was doing was excellent, and she commented again about my "good" blood numbers, and the fact that I "never" seem to get sick (I did admit: "I get some of the little viruses that go around but I usually know it's a virus and I figure all you'd tell me was to rest and drink water, and I can tell myself that without having to pay a co-pay" and she laughed)

I asked about the shingles vaccine but I am not quite old enough yet for it to be a good idea, apparently.

The good news is I don't need to go back for another six months.

I said on Twitter that I would get a milkshake for dinner if everything was good, but, I don't know....I'm home, I've put away my car and taken off my shoes, I hate going out in end-of-day traffic, AND I still have leftover baked beans I could eat, so maybe I do that instead. (I might work up the motivation to make biscuits, though)

I DO think I am going to try going back to morning workouts....I am wondering if my muscles being fatigued from the day could play a factor in the greater number of what feel like pulled muscles. This means an earlier bedtime from now on.

ETA: Biscuits are in the oven. I think I will enjoy that more than I would a milkshake anyway, especially since I have a fresh jar of the good Kroger's "Private Selection" Oregon Strawberry preserves to open and eat on them.  And the bonus is, if I'm still as sick of oatmeal tomorrow as I was this morning, I can have a leftover biscuit or two instead for breakfast.

summer is over

I wish "meteorological" or whatever-you-call it summer was over. I wish it was cooler out but it sounds like our heat machine is going to start cranking in time for the start of classes. I hope the building AC holds up but am prepared for hot classrooms.

Tomorrow, at 8 am, is our "faculty symposium." And then the day after that is a 10:30-noon thing. The afternoon stuff Thursday is "for new faculty but existing faculty are welcome" which I am interpreting as a "we are not requiring you to be there" so I am skipping it. Friday is my departmental meeting but it's early enough that I MIGHT, if I feel like it, be able to run out to Sherman in the afternoon.

I dunno. I'm not ready for the fall. I feel more not-ready, ironically, than I do after summers where I taught. (That does not mean I am teaching next summer. Not unless they change how they compensate people back to something like the old system; I'm too old and the way I teach is too much work to make adjunct pay)

I dunno. I need to adjust my attitude. I was not in a good place last evening, and I woke up in the middle of the night after one of those vague bad dreams (running around in a dark house trying to either get away from something or get to something, and I kept tripping over floor lamps and running into stuff, and I guess whatever it was I was trying to avoid was pretty bad because after I woke up I wound up lying in bed shaking and crying a little and having to tell myself I was okay. I finally just got up and turned a light on for a while; yes, it wakes me up, but it does help.)

I think it's the humidity. I can't breathe right when it's this humid and it makes my brain think I'm either anxious or in danger and I react accordingly.

I think just also the news is bad enough. Anything happening on a university campus makes the part of my brain that MUST have Plans A, B, C, D, E, and F through Z go "Okay, what would you do if that happened here? How would you stay safe, how would you keep from inadvertently destroying your career?" and while given the level of diversity of our campus* and the fact that we have a lot of older students and people with families and other responsibilities to attend to, we might not get that but still...

(*Though I don't know, I don't know what UVA's composition was like)

I don't know. If you're an anxious person to begin with, living in tense times is not fun.

I also suspect my anxiety has two other foci:

1. Our research project has failed to yield much in the way of useful results. Germination was horrible, and I think I'm going to send the student home with some extra seed (or have her do it up on campus) where we just do what are sometimes called "rag-doll germination tests" - put the seeds between wet filter paper and see what kind of germination you get, because I'm fearful these seeds (that I've had for about a year) have lost viability and maybe that was what happened. And I feel bad about it because she needs to write up a paper in order to earn her grade, and there's not much TO write up. And while it's not my fault the study failed.....still, I don't know. I feel responsible .

2. I'm worried about my new class. I feel like an impostor because I'm not really an expert in either environmental policy or environmental law and I probably know barely more than what the students do. And it's too late now to either pull out of teaching it or to do much more in the way of preparation. Why did I think I could do this? Why did I tell people I could do this? The other option would have been to try to hire an adjunct to do it. We probably wouldn't have got anyone, but that might have sent a message that "We really need to make this a full-time line and offer proper pay and benefits" and then we'd get someone qualified.

I dunno. Everything feels like such a mess right now. I think part of the problem is that I feel like a lot of things are currently out of my control and I don't like things being out of my control, where I can't really do anything more other than the equivalent of a little "body English" to change their outcome.

I reiterate what I said on twitter: considering the past week (well, 10 days now), I feel like I've aged about five years.

Doesn't help that I have a doctor's checkup this afternoon. My doctor is very nice and all but I can't quite shake the past history of OTHER doctors who scolded me about my weight, or about not eating less and exercising more and I just feel kind of defeated that I don't apparently have the willpower to make myself smaller, that that's another area of my life that doesn't seem to be under control.

(There was a thing making the rounds on Twitter yesterday, what would you change about yourself if you could change one thing? And I would want to be smaller. Not just thinner, though that's a big part of it - but in general, shorter, less ungainly, taking-up-less-space, and have smaller more delicate features than I do. And I know, it's one of those "you want what you don't have" things - like how people with straight hair look at my hair and go "I wish I had curly hair like yours" and I am all YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MUCH EXTRA WORK AND CARE CURLY HAIR CAN TAKE TO MAKE IT LOOK OK but yeah, I wish I were the kind of woman who could shop at "sample sales" and who never had to worry what other people would think if she ordered dessert at a restaurant....)

Monday, August 14, 2017

"Non-squad Goals"

I joked about this on Twitter. One of my friends on there posted this .gif:

And I responded to it, and reposted it myself with the joke "non-squad goals."

Partly because I don't really have a "squad," as much as I would kind of like to (though maybe at nearly 50, one is too old for that sort of thing, I don't know). And partly because events of the larger world have made this sort of thing seem much more attractive to me than being IN the world:

The Lake Isle of Innisfree - WB Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

WB Yeats reading his own poetry! The first one - the Lake Isle of Innisfree - is the one that kind of inspired this post.

But yeah. Part of it is, the immediacy of tending bean-rows and watching over bees would take a person out of the ugliness of the world: having something that is so immediately useful (I presume that without the beans produced by the beanrows, the speaker will not get to eat) to do is necessary and important, and makes you forget other things.

(That may be part of my distress; the way I earn my living is in many ways so removed from the actual kind of useful work farmers and the like do....)

And part of it is being out in a place where there's beauty. And being alone. I don't know that I could literally be a hermit (though maybe, with no access to "news of the world," I could be - I mostly need other people to ground me when I get overwrought about things but if I don't HEAR those things...)

I don't know. I'm in one of those moods where I'd like to build a big blanket fort and hide in it but I know that wouldn't work....

But then again

I just remembered something this morning:

11 years ago.

At the time, I thought they were a nutso anarcho-environmentalist group, but after consultation with a friend who had done research into the Holocaust and the history of nazi groups....turns out it was probably a white supremacist type group.

So, they've been out there forever, it's just, it's reaching a boiling point right now.

I'm so sick of the ugliness. And I'm sick of feeling mostly impotent even though I try to be a "good person" and all that business.

I have to get back to work - to my distress, I find that the last material I need to prep (Endangered Species Act, Lacey Act, and other resource-protection type acts) don't have a chapter in ANY of the books I have so I'm having to go to all the primary sources which means a lot more work for me.


Also, in my usual obsessive quest to "understand why" I read this article about a former supremacist

one of the things he said in there, though: he talks about "broken places" in people causing "potholes" that lead them to go into these kind of extremist groups.

And again, I feel myself feeling like I feel about the shooter who is described as a "loner" - there's a little bit of BS to that. Because I know I have some specific places in which I'm pretty broken, I know I have potholes in my soul because of stuff that's happened to me or my particular brain chemistry - but I'm revulsed by any ideology like this.

I don't know. Sometimes I think people go into too many contortions to avoid saying "This is evil and this person chose to do evil."

And yeah, like I said before: it takes work and effort and thought not to be selfish, but even someone with as many broken places as I have can see that and can try to put in that effort, so it seems too facile to say "oh, they had a hard childhood so they're this way now"

Monday morning thoughts

I need to get dressed for the day and go in and try to do some work, but first:

1. I think some of my distress in recent days has come from summer nearly being over and (a) I didn't get as much done as I wanted to and (b) I didn't have as much fun as I had planned on. That "taking one day a week and just exploring the small towns around the area" never happened. I took one trip to Longview and one to Whitesboro and that was it, other than some trips for bigger, better grocery shopping than what I can get in town.

Also, the whole "being alone in my head" thing gets to me. I feel an active resistance towards going in and reading *yet another chapter* of the Policy and Law stuff.

2. I am deeply dismayed about a lot of things going on in our country. I guess the race hatred never actually decreased, it just buried itself for a while. (and it's more than that: some outlets are focusing on the racist tendencies but there's also a lot of Anti-Semitism out there, and even the crazy old kind that I thought died with Old Hollywood...)

I dunno, but....maybe it's an oversimplification but it seems to me people who feel a certain level of security and that their lives have been a "success" however they may define it aren't out doing that stuff.

And it's also like what my mom used to say about vandalism and petty crime and stuff: "If they put their energy to doing *good* maybe they'd be surprised at how much they could get done." (Though perhaps part of the problem is, in their minds, they ARE doing good)

I'm also dismayed about some subset of the commentatiat that seems to figure if you're not getting on a bus to go counter-protest, you're "one of them." Not all of us have lives that would allow us to do that. Not all of us are physically capable of doing that.

I confess, I think about "what would you do if That Group showed up in your town and..." I don't know. I LIKE to think I'd maybe be out there with the church groups doing a peaceful counter protest, lots of people just down on their knees praying for the safety of everyone in the town (and maybe praying that the angry people go away*). Or that I'd be handing out bottles of water to the cordon of police trying to keep the different groups separate.

(*And as seems to often be the case - the guys who showed up at the Charlottesville march *weren't* local guys)

But the truth is, I've just got me. If I were seriously injured, like in a brawl, I'd have big problems - there is no one with the time to take care of me. If I got arrested for "civil disobedience" because I got up in some anti-Semite's face and screamed at him, and some admin at my university figured that was insubordination and I was some kind of a "risk," I might no longer have a job - and I need this gig.

And yes, that's cowardly, I know. But I feel like I need to make my own safety (in all senses) a priority because I don't know too many other people who would.

I don't know. The whole thing just makes me deeply sad, that there are still people who feel this way. I mean, there always will be - pace Nelson Mandela, I DO NOT think "love comes more easily to the human heart than hate" - I think the natural (animal) state of humans is to fear and distrust those who are not like them, and to be deeply selfish.

(and yes. On some level my "self preservation" instincts are selfish, but they are more passively than actively selfish, so hopefully I am not quite as bad a person for that)

You have to work at loving most people. Most people have annoying characteristics, or you don't fully understand them, or whatever. I find it very easy to get angry at people, though generally my anger manifests as an "I don't even want to know you" and me just silently stalking away.

I don't know. One of the big issues I personally have is feeling like people are saying* "You're not doing enough" whether that "enough" is "protecting my health" with exercise and avoidance of anything that actually tastes good. Or if "enough" is work - class prep, research, etc. Or whether "enough" is service to humanity (which is really the only way I can fight against some of the bad things - is the quiet low-key stuff like donating money to good causes that help people, or working at a food bank, that kind of thing. It's not going out and getting in the face of a racist, but....)

(*which is just projecting my perfectionism on other people)

And so that's why I feel so tired and so worn right now - the idea that nothing I can do is ever enough. And I know I tend to conflate "who I am" with "what I do" too much, but the feeling that "nothing I can do is ever enough" slips over into being "I'M not enough" and that's not a good way to feel.

3. And yes, I'm tired. Saturday night I was watching re-runs of ER because there was nothing else I wanted to watch on*

(*Shame on you, Cartoon Network, for reducing the diversity of your programming to the barest minimum. And that new cartoon, "OK GO"? It seems aggressively ugly and I don't like that art style, so I can't even watch it to see if the writing is any good)

And there was a scene - this was early in the series when Dr. Greene's daughter was a little girl (but after his divorce) and she was staying with him. But because he's an ER doctor, he's always working, so he took her to the hospital with him, to sit in the staff breakroom. And when he finally wrapped things up and was ready to take her home, she was so tired she asked him if he would carry her. And he said something like "of course" and picked her up.

And I admit, that made me cry a little. It's been more than 40 years (I'm guessing about 43) since anyone picked me up and carried me, and I know I'm way too big for that now. But I want someone to carry me - maybe more figuratively than literally, I don't know. It gets so hard and so tiring being the only one - like I said, I am the only one I have to depend on. If I get sick and I'm out of whatever OTC medicine I need, I have to either suit up and get out to the drugstore, or I have to make do without out. When I come home tired on Wednesday or Thursday evening, the laundry still needs to be done and it's just me there to do it. When I don't know what I want to eat, I have to figure it out myself.

And at this point, it's always going to be that way.

And I just get tired.

And the other thing? Having another person there means you get to focus on them and the news of the world, for example, recedes a little bit if your beloved has strep throat and you need to attend to them and make sure they're not getting worse. Or if they have a big project at work and are stressed out about it.  Or, in better times: planning a birthday surprise for them makes the ugliness of the world go away a little. When you're alone it's too easy to focus on the ugliness.

I don't know. I know part of this is allergies - ragweed has started - and allergies always make me kind of dysphoric and "meh."

4. I still kind of hurt. Friday evening I mowed the lawn. It was pretty miserable because it was so humid but it needed doing. I woke up sometime v. early Saturday morning with horrible muscle cramps all around my chest and upper back, and something not unlike an asthma attack, but less bad. I couldn't get comfortable but was afraid to get out of bed because I didn't know if the pain I was in might make me weak and prone to falling/passing out (it has happened before). Eventually it got better but the rest of the weekend I was kind of sore.

We also had a dewpoint of 79 F for a while yesterday. I didn't realize that and tried to do the dvd workout, and was like "Wow, that near-asthma attack must have done something to my lungs" because I had to stop every 10 minutes or so and take a break.

It's still humid today. I'm tired of the humidity.

5. Tomorrow is my doctor's checkup. I haven't lost the weight I wanted to lose (I THINK. I don't own a scale because past experience is that constantly monitoring my weight is bad for me, it's better to go by the fit of my clothes). I don't think I've gained any, my clothes still fit the same, but I would have liked to lose some. I tried increasing exercise. I've cut back on eating. I was hoping the "menopausal women just have to, like, halve the calories they take in" wasn't going to be true for me but maybe I just have to say goodbye to desserts forever and try to exist on mainly vegetables.

And that makes me sad because I have so few other pleasures in life, and I don't care what you say, most vegetables aren't that enjoyable to eat. I eat them because they are good for me.

Then Wednesday is allllll the sitting in a room and being talked at. At least it's shorter this year and if I'm reading the schedule right, they aren't making us do active-shooter training.

(I am reminding myself the possibility still exists that (a) they might add it in at the last minute or (b) someone had the spectacularly bad idea of having someone come in and do a "simulated situation" as a surprise - bad, because it's entirely possible there might be a few folks in the audience with actual weapons who would rush the "would be bad guy" and also there are enough of us with weird medical conditions that sudden stress would be a bad thing)

Thursday is more meetings, and Friday is my departmental meeting. So summer is effectively over for me now. And I'm sad, like I said in #1, I don't feel like I really DID anything.

6. No, wait, I have more. I was thinking this weekend - in conjunction with the just being tired about always shouldering things - about the whole "Fallen Caryatid" passage from Stranger in a Strange Land. And yes, this is a real statue - Rodin did a couple different variants of it, holding different things. (And there's also, IIRC, an allusion to it in Despicable Me at the Bank of Evil in the very opening, but it's a male caryatid and he winds up genuinely crushed).

But here's the quotation again:
"This poor little caryatid has fallen under the load. She’s a good girl—look at her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, not blaming anyone, not even the gods…and still trying to shoulder her load, after she’s crumpled under it.But she’s more than just good art denouncing bad art; she’s a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women—this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude until they crumpled under their loads. It’s courage…and victory.
Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn’t give up…she’s still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her…she’s all the unsung heroes who couldn’t make it but never quit."

And I also read an article suggestion higher ed is 'under assault'

(And yes, in before someone else says: "it brought it on itself" and perhaps yes, some of the more silly season stuff has been some level of pandering to student demands when they don't fully understand, but....there's more to it than that)

And yeah, I know: higher ed is expensive. And state budgets are squeezed, so state schools suffer and there's the whole financial thing (this is top of mind for me, because it looks like the state legislature is going to have to go back and mess with the budget again, and that will probably mean a bit more blood is squeezed from our stone).

But even beyond that. Even beyond all the sillier more extreme stuff that's happened in the past few years - it does seem that there's a trend in our culture towards not wanting to think, not wanting to consider conflicting opinions, latching on to an idea you find comforting and hanging on to it even when evidence suggests otherwise*, wanting to be entertained over everything, and wanting v. simple solutions to complicated problems. (Most issues in our culture are very complicated and nuanced and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters, and that is probably why so many people are angry and fighting, or are despairing and on the verge of giving up)

(*all the "alternative health" stuff sold by starlets, much of which stuff is useless, and some of which may be actively dangerous to the user)

And one thing I will say I'm heartily sick of is the "let's tar with a broad brush" - "All academics are dangerous radicals who should be fired" for example. Or "All white people are automatically bad."

Yes, in both categories, some are, and I hate that and I wish I didn't have to suffer guilt by association. know, I don't know where I'm going with this other than that I'm FREAKING TIRED and this stone I've been carrying for so long isn't getting any lighter, and I'm sick and tired of being told how what I'm already doing is insufficient, and I need to do more and sacrifice more, and....also the whole idea that I'm working at a career that is dying quickly or slowly (depending upon whom you read) and....I just don't know how I "can even" for much longer.

Maybe it will get better once classes start, I don't know. But right now I'm just kind of sick of humanity.

There was a Peanuts comic strip I remember from one of the big compilations I had:

And I remember, even as a younger person, feeling like Linus had it completely backwards: I love individual people. I love my colleagues and most of my students once I learn about them. I love the tiny little woman at church who only comes up to my shoulder and who runs the children's program. I love the flamboyant guy who likes to clap during the closing chorus. I love the young woman at the local quilt shop who answers "okie dokie!" instead of "yes" to questions.

But humanity as a whole? Forget 'em. When you put them together in a group, bad stuff starts to ooze out. And I think I'm seeing too much of humanity and too little of individual people right now.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

post-sweater letdown

Maybe part of it is it's so hot out (and it's incredibly humid). Maybe part of it is events of the world (as I said on Twitter: I feel like I have aged five years in this past week). Maybe part of it is that the collar came out a little tighter than I had hoped - I have to take my glasses off to take the sweater on and off (suggesting it is not so great for on-campus wear, where one room might be 55 F and another might be 80 F - all on the same day)

But yeah, I finished Hagrid. I have one skein of the yarn (and a bit of the skein I used to finish the last sleeve and the neck) left.

(Also, you can see why thinner-yarn sweaters are better for me than aran-weight, like this one is - it makes me look kind of "poochy" and I dislike that*)

(* and yeah, yeah, I know: it's my gut that makes me look "poochy," not the sweater, but I think the sweater draws attention to it).

hagrid 2

hagrid 1

Maybe this is why it takes me forever to finish something: once it's done, I can see flaws in it that I was able to overlook while I worked on it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Partial weekend acheivements

I made the baked beans last night.

They were quite good. My only complaint is they were a BIT on the sweet side - but remember, I tend to like things less sweet than the average person. If I made them again I might increase the mustard, or add a tiny bit of either hot sauce or cayenne pepper to cut the "sweet" a little - and maybe use a tiny bit less maple syrup.

I am giving the recipe as written - I left out the salt and I didn't use the ham hock. (I am guessing you could also put cut-up already-cooked pork or even chicken in at the end if you wanted them to be meaty, like the "beans and bits" some barbecue places do.

It makes a LOT. The recipe says 8 servings but those must be big servings. I am going to freeze some of them - beans usually freeze pretty well.


2 cups dried navy beans (I used Great Northern, which are slightly smaller and in my experience, work up more tender).

Either soak overnight, do the boil-and-sit (that's what I do - boil a couple minutes, let sit an hour, rinse and drain) or cover the beans with water and boil 30 minutes.

Drain the beans and discard the water (it has some of the indigestible stuff in it so you don't want it anyway)


1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon dry mustart
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups of water

Mix these together

Chop up an onion

Cut up 6 strips of bacon and put them in the bottom of a Dutch Oven. Put half the beans on top of that, and half of the onion. Then add the ham hock and put the rest of the beans and the onion on top of it.

Pour the maple syrup mixture over the whole thing, cover, cook at 325 F for 3 hours. Check periodically and add water if necessary (I had to).

Take the pot out. If you used a hamhock, take it out, let it cool, and pull and shred the meat off it, then put it back into the beans (or add the cut up other meat - I might do chicken in these some time)

Combine 2 Tablespoons of softened butter and 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar (really, you probably need more....) and dot on top of the beans. Put them BACK in the oven, uncovered, for 1/2 hour until the topping melts into a glaze.

One other thing I did differently: I just coarsely cut the onion (into quarters) because I generally do not eat the onion cooked in baked beans. It's mainly there to flavor them.

These would be good, I think, with barbecued meat or with brown bread and maybe something a little salty on the side to cut the sweetness. That said, I think I prefer maple syrup to molasses in baked beans because it's more "delicate."

 I dropped the Mary Engelbreit quilt top off at the quilter's yesterday. She said "maybe 8 weeks, maybe faster" (her sister does the quilting and was out of town.

I'm excited to get this one done; I forgot how cute the top was. It's ALMOST Christmas colors (red and green and yellow, but pastels rather than the darker colors more typically used).

I also feel motivated to consider working on the "birb" quilt again, which may be my NEXT "drop off to get quilted" top.

I also changed out my nail polish for the new Ponified ones. I'm pretty happy with how they look (photographs later on) and they seem to dry v. fast (maybe that's the clay added in?) I will have to see in the coming days how it holds up - if it holds up BETTER than average, this may be my new go-to brand. Especially if it helps keep my nails from breaking.

And glitter! I love glitter nail polish and so the glitter lifts my spirits. "Hey, Girl, Hey" is VERY subtle - it's clear with whitish glitter - so you don't notice it unless you're paying attention.

Lemme see if I can get a quick and dirty webcam shot for now:


I am sewing up Hagrid but forgot how long that process took, especially when you are using floss that is not a 100% color match.

Am still debating whether pushing ahead with Grasse Matinee when this is done, or giving in to startitis - I am thinking of all the great sweaters in my queue that I already have yarn for....

Friday, August 11, 2017

Weekend of self-care

I decided that was what I wanted, before next week's whirlwind of meetings, and the following week's grinding-to-life of classes.

Yesterday afternoon I cleaned house. Not 100%, my bedroom is still cluttered as is my home office, I mmmmmight attack those tomorrow, I don't know. But I'm always in a better mood after doing this; I get busy enough and am bugged enough by stuff like dust on my piano or mystery-splotches from cooking on the kitchen floor that I feel bad until I get the house cleaned. I also worry: what if someone has to come over and goes in my kitchen? I mean, it's super cluttered, but somehow it seems worse if it's *dirty* too. It's never really unhygienic - I don't have mice falling out of the ceiling or anything - but I do wind up with spills on the floor and the stovetop and similar.

I decided not to go to Sherman for shopping this weekend because it's "sales tax free on certain school supplies and kids' clothes" weekend and I know the stores will be slammed, and places like the Target may be the scene of several meltdowns on the part of kids who want something they're not gonna get, or who don't want something their parent thinks they need. And that might spill over to the groceries.

So I got what I needed for the next week at Mart of Wal (and am considering doing a combined antiquing and grocery trip NEXT weekend, or maybe Friday afternoon next week if our faculty meeting gets done early enough)

I also need to get better at "eating off the shelf" and using up some of what I have stored. And so to that effect, I decided to make a (modified version, slightly) of the "Pork Lover's Maple Baked Beans" from the "101 things to do with beans" cookbook.

(No, children: stuffing them up your nose is not one of the things).

Anyway. This is a cookbook I've had for a while - my dad got my mom a copy last Christmas (they use beans a lot, because beans are economical and also healthful) and there were so many good recipes in it she wound up ordering copies for my brother and for me. (The garbanzo-bean patties are particularly good but the only drawback - and why I've never made them - is you have to run the beans through a food processor and the agony of washing mine makes me not want to do it. And I tried mashing them with a potato masher; that doesn't really work). I wonder if a food mill would work? I have one and it's a lot less effort to clean (and to get out) than the food processor....

But anyway: I was looking at it the other night and realized I'd not made baked beans in a while. (Part of this is the need to avoid things like bacon, but occasionally probably small amounts of it as flavoring - especially if I leave out the other salt in the recipe - is okay).

So I'm doing these with a pack of Great Northern beans off the shelf - the only thing I had to buy was bacon. I bought the smallest package I could (How I wish we had an old fashioned meat market where I could go in and ask for two or three slices and only have to pay for two or three slices. I know bacon freezes but it doesn't keep more than a couple months, even in the freezer. Maybe after Pruett's renovation I'll be able to get small quantities of stuff? Given that this is a college town (lots of students and a fair few singletons among faculty, and also lots of widows, you'd think the shops would be more oriented towards selling small sizes).

If the beans are good I will share the recipe. (I didn't buy the ham hocks they call for - usually Green Spray has them but I don't need that kind of meat in my beans; I probably will pick out and not eat the bacon, either)

They also have maple syrup in them (as sweetener) and mustard and onion and you put a little butter in them (which I bet improves them a lot).

I also have the goal of finishing Hagrid. I got the collar all done last night so I just have to finish the sewing. I might start the Augusta cardigan, I don't know. Or I might try to get closer to finished on the Grasse Matinee, or work on one of the several stalled shawls...

I also have half a plan to FINALLY iron off the Mary Engelbreit top and backing I've had folded up for years and take it to Lulu and Hazel's for longarming - would be nice to have this one all done.

I'm also going to try to transition my sleep patterns back to "going to bed earlier" so I can start getting up a bit earlier - on days when I haven't had to meet my research student, I've slept in, sometimes as late as nearly 7, and that's when I usually leave the house on school I need to work back to:

getting into bed sometime between 8:30 and 9 pm
reading for a while longer instead of interacting with a screen so much*
getting up earlier again.

I may - have not yet decided - try to shift back to exercising early in the morning (hopefully I am past whatever issue gave me indigestion from that) so I don't have it hanging over me when I get home. Then again, I have but one afternoon lab this semester so I might be able to cut out early enough most days, if I'm disciplined about getting stuff done during the hours I'm not in class.

(*Am wondering if some of my "staying awake too long after I get into bed/weird mash-up dream" issues are related to this. Have had several dreams in the past weeks that have fundamentally been cribbed from "Bob's Burgers'" episodes I watched before bed, and while they're entertaining and not BAD, there's just a lot of stuff going on in them, and I feel less rested after the crazy information-packed dreams. (Also: dear brain? You don't need the plot points of every episode of Bob's Burgers in your long-term memory, okay?))

I also want to (finally!) finish reading Moby-Dick. I'm not sure what my next "big" book will be - I want to read both Emma and Persuasion some time soon, but I also have a new-ish translation of The Three Musketeers that supposedly preserves some of the more....not quite "risque," but close....jokes that apparently the original had but had been excised for a lot of the versions used in schools. I'm sure I have some other big books stacked up I'm not thinking of...I also want to start on Rosemary Sutcliffe's Roman-legion stories (it's a trilogy, or at least, I have three books) some time. That's a little lighter as I THINK they were originally written for kids/teens, but then again - a lot of early 20th-century children's novels are pretty darn complex and well-written, and are easily enjoyable by adults.

I also have a copy of St. Julian's "Revelations of Divine Love" (a Folio Society purchase) that might be good for times when I'm sad and rattled by the world....(It is her words - the "all shall be well" phrase - that is engraved on my favorite pendant to wear)

Other little things to do, I think:

change out my finger/toe nail polish for the new ponified ones
change the sheets on the bed (maybe in tandem with cleaning my bedroom tomorrow)
wind off some yarn with the thought of starting new projects sometime
hand quilt a bit on the top in the frame, again with the thought of "maybe I can soon think about doing another one"

I do also need to mow the yard; that might be a late-afternoon thing for today provided the rain holds off. (Right now it looks like it might)

leaving this here

This was re-tweeted by someone I follow - originally from Hugh Kearns.

It's genius, it makes sense to me, and I am stealing it to use in my biostats class this fall:

(ARGH. stupid blogger picture uploader not working. Let's try another method):

crying wolf


So anyway:

1. Twitter IS good for something after all. (You have to be careful whom you follow, is all).

2. Having Flickr as a second string to your bow is a good idea when Blogger picture-upload fails, which seems to be more often than not these days.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Good mail day

Several things I was expecting came today.

An order box from Ulta - there is a new line of My Little Pony-inspired nail polishes (and yes, apparently for adult, or at least teen, women). Two of them had that teeny tiny holographic glitter that I love so much, and so I ordered them: "Hey Girl, Hey" (which I am wondering is Trenderhoof trying to speak to Applejack). It's a slightly milky white with glitter. (I am not sure how these will look on - they have a tiny bit of clay in them that is supposed to strengthen your nails).

The other one is "Where's the Party Cannon At" and it's Pinkie-Pie-Hair pink, with glitter.

My plan, next time I change out polish (certainly for the start of classes) is to put the pink one on my toes - where a stronger color works better (most of my warm-weather dress shoes are open toed) and the "Hey Girl, Hey" on my fingernails. (I like a little color there, but something v. subtle - I think it looks better, is less distracting, and also it shows chips and wear less, which is a thing - sometimes I think nail polish is partly semiotic; you are effectively saying "I do not need to do heavy work with my hands" when you have an elaborate manicure)

I got a couple other things - that "Unicorn's Mane" hair pomade I use to try to keep down frizz, and a new shower cap, and some fancy-fancy hairclips.

I did that instead of driving down there because I've found the local Ulta doesn't always have the newest stuff on the website, and really, it's *easier*

My Doki Doki box also came.

One thing I probably can't use - a snack pack of "caramel corn" (think: something kind of like sweet Cheetos, only harder). I can't eat hard crunchy things any more - my bite is all jacked up and I worry about my fragile teeth. I may have to find someone to share these with. Or maybe I try soaking them in milk to see if they become edible to me.

There were good things in the box, though. This is my favorite:

A wee little (maybe 4 ounces) Studio Ghibli mug with totoros on it. It's plastic, which means it makes a good replacement for the bathroom toothbrush mug I have had - and have been using since fall of 1987 when I started college. This one is cuter.

And I got a plushie in this box, which is always good.

A small round birb. I think he's supposed to be an owl? Maybe? I haven't named him yet. He's made of a very soft plush and has something that's either a bandanna or a backpack on.

 There was also some Cinnomoroll (a dog character that I thought was a bunny at first) stationery, and the Hoppe-Chan, and a little pen shaped like a vitamin pill...(apparently pill-shaped things - like capsules - are a popular shape for things like that in Japan).

And this:

It's a "lucky bow" with constellations on it. Like what Japanese schoolgirls wear, they say.

It's cute, but I haven't been a student since 1999, and probably haven't counted as a "schoolgirl" since perhaps 1987, so....I probably won't be wearing it.


IT WORKS. It so works. (I will probably have to shorten the "ties" by removing the clasp and cutting it off shorter and putting the clasp back on if I want it permanently for this, but yeah. I like it a lot)

This is maybe a little better shot.

I guess I have to turn off my reading lamp to get better webcam shots.

I also got my newest-old-pony today. This one was apparently known as Snookums in the US, and by the much more interesting name Baby Welliboot in the UK, so I am keeping the Baby Welliboot name.

I think he's a boy despite the eyelashes - something about him just says "boy" to me:

The mane and tail are that "fading pink" and have mostly faded but I don't really care because he's so cute.

And he's a drink and wet, see:



Wet. (Cheeky. He's showing his bunghole.)