Saturday, July 21, 2018

some random thoughts

* I ran out to the Mart of Wal today because I needed food but I can't deal with the heat, and there are reports of the interstate buckling in places from it and...yeah, I might WANT to go to Sherman, but I'm not gonna until it cools down.

* I wound up sleeping later than is normal for me (7:15 am). I guess I was tired? I know I woke up around 3 and it took me a while to get back to sleep. But it meant I was walking into the wal-mart around 8 and it was already getting kind of crowded and crazy - I suppose some people were shopping early in order to beat the heat, and maybe others had places they were going later today, I don't know. But I don't particularly like shopping when it's busy.

A British grocery store is planning to introduce "Austim friendly hours" where they dim the lights down a little, and don't do PA (they call it Tannoy) announcements or play music, and I think they said there would be limited use of carts? Or maybe not have restocking that hour? And have specially-trained cashiers.

And this is a fantastic idea, but I hope they don't also choose to exclude non-autistic people who are willing to abide by the "rules" of being quiet and everything....because I'm not gonna lie, I would rather shop in a store with less bright lighting and a lower level of noise and ESPECIALLY at a time when they're not restocking (wal-mart is open 24 hours and it seems often early on Saturdays is when they have all the aisles jammed with carts of boxes for the restock) and all of that.

Honestly, stores should try it: if revenue goes UP in those hours, maybe go to being like that ALL the time? Or post "Our restocking hours are...." so you knew and could avoid the place if that bugged you.

(One of the big reasons I liked the late, lamented Fresh Market in my parents' town was just this: they had lower lights - sort of drop lighting, and it was LED rather than fluorescent, and the walls were dark so you didn't have reflected light everywhere, and instead of announcements or jangly music they played quiet chamber music and I loved that. And also, they weren't open 24 hours, so I presume they did their restocking after closing, so you never had pallets blocking aisles or big empty gaps on shelves)

* At least Mart of Wal now carries the little Alexa "sweet potato puffs" (essentially like less-crunchy tater tots made of sweet potatoes) which was one of the big reasons I went to the natural foods store in Sherman. We'll see how long the local Wal-Mart offers these (they tend to carry products for a few weeks and then never restock) but at least I was able to replenish my supply for this week.

I rely on these a lot because they're relatively nutritious/healthful, they taste good, they keep well (frozen), and they're easy to fix (grease a pan, put them in, stick them in a 375 degree oven for about fifteen minutes, and there you are). 

* Also, walking out, I looked at the "claw machine." Lots of stores around here have these and I assume the store gets a cut of the money taken in. But I also realized: those claw machines are a good lesson about adulthood.

Because you might really WANT that stuffed Pinkie Pie over in the corner, but maybe the the Minion is easier to get, and you have to decide: are you going to waste a lot of time and money and maybe never get the Pinkie Pie, or are you willing to settle for the Minion?

(And also: sometimes, instead of getting even the Minion, you get stuck with the creepy clown instead).

(And also, the "good" prizes tend to be stuffed in in such a way that they're hard to grab, or they're shaped in a way that makes them easily fall out of the claw)

I dunno. I am of two minds about kids and disappointment: part of me feels like, "They will have the next 60-80 years of their life to know about disappointment, so it's nice to let them have a few years shielded from it" and yet on the other hand I feel like never tasting disappointment in your life makes you a less-functional adult (and I have dealt with my share of college students who seemed unable to cope graciously with disappointment).

I know I had my share of disappointments as a kid, ranging from "It's storming so we can't go to the pool" (which is a disappointment, but one out of anyone's control) to "you're not invited to the birthday party" to "yes, you saved your allowance for 24 weeks in order to be able to afford the Big Toy that you really wanted, but the store is now sold out of them and they won't be getting any more" (which felt like a particular insult to me; for one thing, I did things the right way (was frugal, avoided buying candy or comics or anything for an eternity), for another it was basic unfairness - I received a meager allowance and essentially never got toys other than at Christmas or on birthdays, and of COURSE the kids down the street got a big toy if they earned one A, and here I was earning them "for nothing" and so on....)

But I still wasn't prepared for the sheer volume of disappointment you sometimes have to cope with as an adult. (And not just cope with, but cope with with a smile on your face and be gracious about it...)

* With a recent KnitPicks order, I was able to use an offer to get a free ball of Alux, a new yarn they have. It's fingering weight, baby alpaca and lurex, so it has a lot of shimmer to it. It actually looks kind of retro, in a way (there used to be yarns that had a tinsel thread in mom had a shawl of one, but one of their cats ate part of the shawl...)

I got the color called "Opal," a very pale blue-green, kind of that "1950s turquoise," which may heighten the "this feels like an older yarn to me" effect. 

Of course, it was just one fifty-gram ball, so you're limited in what you can do. (If I'd been thinking, maybe I'd have used it for Barbie clothes, but...) I found a fingerless mitt pattern I liked, and since they're only wrist-length, I should easily have enough.

Except. Wow, is this stuff splitty. I need to work on it in strong light so I don't split the yarn and get thin and thick stitches....I don't think I'd use it again.

* But yeah. It's already super hot. I'm not leaving the house again today except to get the mail when it comes.

I have to do my piano practice but then I think I'm just going to knit on my various projects the rest of the day.

* Edited to add: And I'm seeing posts on Twitter and various blogs about different "cons" (conventions: some are Pony themed, and there is also the "big" Comic Con in San Diego). And I have conflicted feelings about this.

Part of me feels bad I never get to go to these. They sound fun and wacky and like a good place to indulge one's pop culture interests (I think, honestly, the pony conventions that welcomed all generations of pony fans would be most amenable to me)

(I don't go partly because of logistics, partly because of sheer expense - I can't imagine the cost of a hotel room, in a big-city downtown, when they knew they had a captive audience. And I'm not fluent enough in things like Uber or even just cadging rides with people to be able to do the "go to an outlying hotel" thing. And that's on top of the airfare or whatever and the cost to get in.... I can't really justify the expense to myself)

But another part of me knows I'm too much of an introvert to be comfortable in those big of crowds and also a level of chaos where you have people running around in costumes, and often acting the part of the character they are, and also the idea that there is probably a non-zero number of dudes looking for cheap quick con hook-ups and the whole on-the-prowl thing is kind of unappealing. And that's even outside of the idea of "gatekeeping" - I know there would be at least a few people at some cons who would look at me and go, "She's OLD. Why is she even here? She shouldn't be here!" or something similar, or want to point and shame me as a "fake fan" because (a) I might only be in to 10% of the stuff at the con and (b) even of that 10%, I am not an encyclopedia on it.

As I said on Twitter: I suspect cons bring out some of the best people but also some of the worst, and I am not up for being in close proximity to "worst people" right now.

Also, going alone seems....almost kind of risky. I'm sure people do it, but between the would-be gatekeepers, the on-the-prowl dudes, the petty criminals that probably hang out places like that looking to pickpocket and seems like it would be a lot safer to go with a squad who could watch out for you.

And I don't really have a squad. Oh, I have *friends,* and pretty good friends - but I recognize they all have families and other responsibilities and jobs and stuff that take precedence over *me* in their life....and so I don't count on people to be my "squad."

As much as I wish I had one.

Mostly all I've ever had has been a loose amalgamation of friends, some of whom I might only see once or twice a month.

But secretly, I wish I had a "squad." Even as I recognize that once you pass 21 or so, that's probably largely impossible, given people's conflicting life-responsibilities. And I realize that MY life responsibilities would keep me from being a good "squad member" because I couldn't drop everything in the middle of the week and, I don't know, go take someone out for a long lunch and shopping trip in the middle of the day on their birthday. (Or do something like let the air out of someone's cheating boyfriend's bike's tires.)

But even if it isn't logistically possible, I still kind of wish for it. (And I admit, when I am contemplating "what if we go Full Dystopia?" one of the things that worries me is not having a "squad." Because if everything goes to Hell and it goes back to tribalism, those of us who don't immediately have a tribe around us? We're the first ones up against the wall and the tribes will fight over our stuff after we're dead....I don't like thinking that but that's why I pray every day we DON'T go Full Dystopia.)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Once again decamping

Decamping* to my bedroom, as it's cooler than the living room. I think there are two factors in play here:

The bedroom is at the northeast corner of the house, and so when, as they say, the sun's over the yardarm, it's not shining on this side of the house. In the afternoons, especially late afternoon as the sun is low in the sky, my living room gets the full blast of the sun.

Also, my bedroom has, I think, three vents for the AC system, my living room only has two, and my living room is about 1 1/2 times the size of my bedroom. And I've got one vent mostly closed on the recommendation of the piano tuner, though I think he said really it was heat in the winter that's worse.

(*Heh. I don't camp, I de-camp. Maybe de-camping is even farther from "real" camping than "glamping" is - at a minimum, to be happy, I need a functional bathroom (ideally in the same vicinity as my bed and not requiring venturing outside in the dark), a place to lie down that is free of bugs, and temperatures cool enough to be comfortable. Camping here outdoors this week would be *awful* given how hot it is, and given that the low last night was about 80 F)

But yeah. I've got my stats book (going to try to do a couple more Pomodoros yet today), and I have the "Mr. Tumnus' house" ambient sounds (which reminds me of winter so hopefully will make me feel cooler, though another one I like is the Calming Ravenclaw common room, which is good for studying to and also gives you at least the illusion of there being a cat about).

And it was a good mail day. The yarn for my Ginny's Cardigan came and I am very pleased with the color, it is just right. (You can't always tell on a monitor; that's one risk of having to order stuff online). I don't know but that might be the next sweater I start....

And this:

See that word right there? FALL. Boom. It's going to be fall again some day. I just have to make it through a couple more months.

While I don't want ice or related, I do hope we have a somewhat-cold winter after this summer, and I have lots of opportunities to wear my knits.

Also, I did order a copy of "Pacific Knits" - I guess in addition to supporting the designers, some of the cost goes to Ravelry, which is nice. (There was a Bob sticker on the back of the mailer)

Yes, that's a baby on the front, but most of the designs are either multisized or in adult sizes. There's also an interesting pair of lace socks in there as well as the other stuff I noticed when I ordered it.

This is usually the time of year I start longing for fall. Not just because of the heat but because summer gets sort of tedious. I start thinking of making soup, or of casseroles, the kind of food that appeals in fall but not so much in summer. And I get tired of all my thin, light little dresses.

I also weary of the....immutability?....of the weather here. You can pretty much predict Summer with a few sentences:

Hot, humid, if there's rain it will be very spotty and in the late afternoon, high pressure will set in and it will be dry and miserably hot and you can't get away from the burning eye of the sun.

It wasn't like that in Ohio where we would get a couple hot weeks but then mercifully a cold front (and a genuine one, not what they call "cool" fronts here) would blow in across Lake Erie and we'd get a few days back into the 70s. (I don't remember it *ever* hitting 100 in Ohio when I was growing up. Maybe it got close a few it's a regular occurrence)

I will say, despite the heat? I made a cup of my favorite tea (the peppermint-bark one, which is a mix of black and green teas, chocolate flavoring, and mint leaves) AND I PUT GOLDEN SYRUP IN IT. I had been drinking my tea unsugared for quite a while because of the blood work and this diet thing and today I just decided "forget it, today is a "cheat day" and did it.

That may be how I have to proceed with trying to lose some weight: eat very carefully (limiting processed carbohydrates, in particular, that seems to be the thing that is the biggest obstacle to me dropping weight) most days, and then one or two days a week eat how I'd like to eat (within reason, but I never went crazy even when I wasn't trying to restrict calories: a "cheat day" would likely mean I ate dessert and I had sugar in my tea and I ate more bread and didn't worry so much about stuffing in all the vegetables I'm supposed to)

That said, for the rest of the times? I found an herbal mint tea called "Buttermint" (mint leaves and vanilla flavoring) that is quite nice on its own, and also, no caffeine, so if I want it at night I can have it.

Well, that's done

It would be nice, though, if phlebotomists never ran late to their jobs.

(She wasn't VERY late, and I didn't say anything, because for all I know, she had a kid she had to wrestle into daycare or something before getting to work. But yeah. I passed from hungry, to "sorta ok," to nauseated. I'm sorta hungry again and I told myself "if you are ever allowed a donut, it's after bloodwork" so I have an apple fritter and a cup of milk).

Here's hoping the results all come back good. I'm careful in my regular life but I worry because (a) fattish woman of menopausal age and (b) weak family history of diabetes and I really do not want ANOTHER "oh here change your whole lifestyle and take this other medication" thing.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Shopping the stash

Or, why you should have at least a SMALL accumulation of raw materials for your craft, especially if you live (like me) in Beyond Far East.

I have a very large amount of sockyarn. (I almost said "a literal ton" but it probably doesn't amount to that. I wouldn't be surprised if I owned close to a ton of books, though: books are heavy)

Anyway. I found a couple patterns I want to do in the near future.

first, a pattern I kind of fell in love with (largely for the name) and was willing to pay for: Vintage Fairy Lights which is very cute and very sweet and they show it made in a speckle yarn.

And I have some of that! This is a colorway called (IIRC) Cosmic Wonderdust. (Madelinetosh)

But when digging it out, I found a dark-horse contender I might also consider: a skein of gumball-colored Lion Brand that I remember buying on a shopping trip with Laura and I was laughing about how it was objectively kind of ugly, but I still liked it:

Yes, those both have roughly the same amount of yarn (about 400 yards), they are just differently wound. I'm strongly leaning towards the first one (Cosmic Wonderdust) though because the pattern seems like one that will work up best on a very light and not too busy yarn.

second a freebee: Socks for the Deputy Headmistress (Another Harry Potter inspired pattern; the headmistress in question is Minerva McGonigall).

It's a pattern that DEFINITELY needs a solid color - it's a knit-purl pattern and those get lost in a multi yarn. But I found several that will work, I will just have to decide which one is best.

If Minerva McGonigall wore socks, what color would she wear:

Blue (though in real life, it's a little more turquoise than true blue), purple (another Lion Brand, the colorway is named "Grape Soda"), sparkly grey (you can't see it but both the grey and the green have little sparkles shot through them) or sparkly green?

(Personally, I am *thinking* sparkly green....though none of those are really Gryffindor colors, are they? But I also like the idea of the purple).

For me, this is one of the most fun parts of projects: finding the right yarn for a pattern (or the right pattern for a yarn).

Thursday afternoon things

* I have hit a wall with this heat. I went out over my lunch break to water my hanging baskets and refill the bird bath (the robins, in particular, seem to use it a lot this summer) and I felt like I needed to lie down even though I'd not been outside that long or done anything very strenuous.

* I am also in START ALL THE THINGS mode. (this often happens this time of year). I dug out the duck-egg colored Nashua I want to use for Flax, but I also found the yarn I bought ages ago for the Heliopath vest (though now I'm wondering, as it's a "hairier" yarn (Lustro), if I will come to grief with the dropped stitches and if maybe I'm not better off finding something else....I think it takes a worsted for the vest and I very much want yellow as the color for it, would mind buying new yarn as I don't have any larger amounts of a yellowish yarn. I don't know. Maybe I could swatch and try dropping stitches in the swatch to see how it works).

And I also want to make Ginny's Cardigan (from the same Harry Potter Knits, which I guess has been re-branded Wizard Knits to avoid copyright complications). In fact, I have some tweedy dk on order for it in a medium brown (the color I most commonly wear of the neutrals).

A lot of times Start All the Things mode also carries with it a strong desire for "fantasy" projects, like the Harry Potter knits. I wonder if it's a bit of a desire for an escape....I was searching on "hobbit" and "Narnia" the other day for patterns on Ravelry. (And I found a couple of nice fingerless mitt patterns.)

* I read a few more chapters in the biostats book this morning but I find my brain fatigues fast with that sort of thing, so I switched to the "history of the environmental movement" book for the afternoon. And a couple of striking things:

- In the late 60s, there was a move to dam a couple side canyons of the Grand Canyon, which would have flooded them and probably altered things in the main canyon. Lots of people were aghast at that idea (Barry Goldwater, for one) but LBJ was in favor of it. But a huge PR push by environmental groups (plus anger from some in the Northwest because apparently some dams on the Columbia were bundled in with the plan) stopped it.

- It seems there was less of a hardness-of-positions in the past: there were a number of people (Goldwater being a well known one) on the R side of the aisle who were concerned with conservation and with NOT destroying (at least) the big, recognizable areas. (Goldwater apparently said his greatest regret was voting in favor of the Glen Canyon dam, after he realized what was destroyed).

I really do think in recent years divides have got sharper, people are less likely (less willing?) to work together or to see the other guy's side, and I think that hurts us as a nation.

- Also, once again, women's contributions: one of the EARLY (like, WWII era) proponents of solar energy was the physicist Maria Telkes. (And I wonder - how different would the nation be if that path had been pursued heavily that far back? Would we have more efficient solar power than we do now? I mean, there have been a lot of improvements in the past 15 years, but imagine, if industry/government had backed it back starting in the 40s....)

* Much discussion on Twitter of a mysterious black granite sarcophagus that had been found in Egypt. The "serious" speculation was hope it was the tomb of Alexander the Great; the best "silly" speculation I saw was that they'd discover David Bowie, alive and well, and with secret knowledge that he'd use to heal this timeline. The most "downer" on was "it's full of plague scarabs, and we probably deserve that."

Well, it was opened.

The skeletal remains of three people (they have been dubbed "warriors" on the basis of one having what looked like arrow damage to the skull) and a heck of a lot of thousands-of-years-old "sewage" (or perhaps, and I hate to acquaint you with this term if you don't know it, "body liquor"*)

(*there is a long and bad old story about how I even know that term. Suffice to say it involves one of my grad school colleagues who worked for the gross anatomist, a deep-freeze full of rat carcasses, and a careless janitor over Christmas break)

I kind of expected - on the basis that what looked to me (from the photo I saw) like a vandalized head of an alabaster statue - that it was going to be some old leader, maybe even someone written out of most histories, who had gone so bad his people offed him, buried him, and busted up one of his statues and left the head there as a warning to others/insult to the one they killed. But it seems to have been even less romantic than that...

* But still, News of the Weird in my world:

- a woman was arrested in Ada for attempted arson. She was spotted rifling through a deep-freeze (I suspect this was one of those situations where the homeowners had it in a garage, and the door was left open). When the cops came (apparently the homeowner called them), the woman tried to set the deep freeze on fire.

- Another woman was arrested and fought cops for *an hour* after a traffic stop. They are claiming she was under the influence of "bath salts" (a synthetic drug that I guess is like khat? But it sounds like her reaction was more like that of someone on PCP. At any rate - yipes).

I think the heat brings out worse behavior than you normally see. Irritable people get more irritable; people prone to behave in illogical ways get more illogical.. When drugs or alcohol "are involved" (as the common news-speak is), they seem to be involved to a much stronger effect....

And that kind of thing is also why I'm less inclined to go out in the heat. I COULD stand to pick up a few things at the natural-foods store, but, meh - I remember a couple summers ago when some parts of 75 buckled in less-extreme heat than we're having now, and I have no desire to experience the damage my car could take as a result of that, so I guess I'll rely on local stores for a little while longer.

I'll be glad when the heat breaks. It's like the whole world has a fever.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Finished a thing

This is a pair of socks I started over my visit to Illinois and just now got finished. The yarn is Biscotte et Cie., and I think it's one of her Harry Potter themed ones, as it's called Chaudron baveur, which best translates to "Leaky Cauldron" (which, IIRC, was the name of the wizard's pub).

Chaudron baveur

I used one of the Nancy Bush "updated Weldon's patterns" - from Vintage Knitted Socks, the one called "Lichen Ribbed Sock" which has an unusual toe (the decreases are done as p2tog, which means they show a bit more.

Chaudron baveur II

The poison green, brown, and purple do seem like appropriate "wizard" colors.


I finished reading "The Ghost of Thomas Kempe" the other night. Good book, makes me want to seek out some of Livesey's novels-for-grown-ups and read them. It was an entertaining story but also did touch on some of the themes of history, and the different generations, and even, really, identity.

Last night I re-started "The Grey King," realizing I had never finished it, and also never read the very last of the The Dark Is Rising sequence. (I think what happened is I was reading it before Christmas break, didn't want to drag the book with me, and then got my attention pulled away by other things).

One thing both novels share (besides being aimed at a younger set - am guessing the target audiences for these was anywhere between 8 and 15, with "The Ghost of Thomas Kempe" maybe aiming a bit younger) is that they're fantasy novels, and yet are grounded in more or less everyday life, and I find I particularly like that trope. I don't know if that it's that I'm too "practical" to enjoy high fantasy as much (though I still have great love for "The Hobbit," I could never finish the Lord of the Rings trilogy) or if it's that I want to believe that there could be magic interwoven into everyday life, and so these novels feed into that somewhat.

(I should also finish the last three Harry Potter novels. And yes, I know: I've been warned they get progressively darker and I will have to be sure I'm in a "good place," headspace wise, if I undertake them: I find I sometimes have to put a book away for a while if it gets too sad or depressing). 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

My happy place

I didn't get a lot done today. I wound up with what was probably a cramp in the muscle in my upper back and was in pain for a while this morning, and the pain made me irritable and clumsy and I couldn't effectively practice piano.

But then I also remembered: hey, hadn't it been a while since I had an oil and filter change? I was remembering early May, but nope, when I called to check (It's complicated but I lost the little clingfilm thing that gives the "next recommended date*" and didn't have the paperwork handy**) it had been early this year - much earlier than May.

So, okay. I also knew I needed a new battery soon - this one is close to the end of its useful life, it's a little tougher to start up these days, and I didn't want to risk being off somewhere in this heat with a car that would not start. So I started that process.

(* they didn't give me one this time so I better keep the paperwork handy as a reminder, and maybe write something on my calendar)

(** I tend to be organized about some things but I have a hard time with that kind of random paperwork. I would also be hardpressed to track down a sequential six-months' worth of bank statements if I needed them. I know, I know: binders, except during the regular semester when I get home tired at 5 pm and have a meeting at 6, I don't want to be messing with any stinkin' binders)

But anyway. I got at least one useful thing done today, then. I did also do a bit of reading (finished Chapter 4, about the early 20th-century environmental movement) in "This Green and Growing Land," which is a history of the environmental movement in the US. (I am reading this for more background for Policy and Law). It's a *really* interesting book and is written in a style that makes it enjoyable to read. (Some of these kinds of things, they're a little tedious, but this book is pretty fun).

One thing I learned is just how active women were in the early days of the environmental movement, and how often their contributions were downplayed, especially by those who favored business interests over land preservation (the women were referred to as "birdwatchers" and "sentimental" and similar. And apparently some guy also rolled a little homophobia in there, with a crack about "short-haired women and long-haired men," perhaps confusing Walt Whitman (who was gay) with John Muir (who almost certainly was not).

I also learned that a lot of the "first woman graduate of X" (where X is somewhere like MIT) often wound up working in either a social movement like Settlement Houses or in the environmental movement and I wonder if part of that is that other careers were more closed to them. But I did learn that one of the main founders of Occupational Health (part of our Safety degree here) was a woman - a chemist, Dr. Alice Hamilton. And yeah, that makes me chuckle a little bit in light of that TERRIBLE class I had several years ago that was terrible in large part because there were some Safety majors who had the worst stereotypical dude-bro attitudes ever in it, and seemed to think because I was a woman (and a very traditionally-feminine presenting woman*** at that), I couldn't teach them anything.

(*** And I don't think I should have to - pardon the language - butch up in order to earn some grudging respect from people like that. I should be able to be who I am. My colleagues and the students in my major respect me even when I show up to class in a pink dress and jewelry. And I suspect even if I did try harder to be "one of the boys," those types wouldn't respect me any more.)

But yeah. I feel better for having read that, partly because it's a cheering thing to read and partly because I felt like I got something done.

I also cleaned my  bedroom a bit after getting home - it had gotten bad and also I had an anxious spell and it's better to work through those by doing something active. And it's nicer to have my room picked up a bit. And this is a cooler space (temperature wise) than my living room these days, so I can sit here and listen to Pandora (the wifi stretches at least this far) and read and knit - got caught up on the most recent issue of American Scientist and also started a new thing:

It's a very simple knitted "neckwarmer" (like a short scarf, but it will have buttons - and that's my goal the next time I get to JoAnn's or somewhere, to find a nice pair of 1" buttons that will work for this.)

It's the purple yarn I bought at the new Sherman yarn shop - it was purpose-bought for this pattern (it's a free one off of Ravelry and I suppose a person could figure it out for themselves - it's a mistake-stitch rib (I THINK - I think I'm remembering correctly that this is mistake stitch)

And yes, I know I have a lot of stuffed animals here (you can see Clawhauser, and most of Pfred, and a tiny bit of my Pinkie Pie there....) but that's part of why this is my happy place.

Modern day shopping

It's day 2 of "hotpocalypse" here. And we have the added feature of dust from the Sahara blowing in, and they've warned that people with respiratory issues (like asthmatics) may have problems.

I can't tell if it was power-of-suggestion or actual (I run an airconditioner nearly 24/7 so you'd think it would filter out the dust) but I had a tough time getting through the workout this morning.

And I found out from my mom a couple of businesses up there that I liked and patronized have closed, or are closing - Murray's Shoes, which is where I bought my shoes for years and years. They tried to find a buyer but no one bit, I guess. The thing is, they sold nicer shoes that were better for your feet, so their town (like the areas around me) are mostly left with either the super-cheap shoe warehouse type places where people like me have to be *very* careful about shoes (and also - they fall apart easily, that's my experience with the cheap shoes. I don't want to have to replace them after a few wearings) or the few, high-end places (and in my area, I think you have to go to Dallas for that). So I don't know what people who are willing to spend a *bit* more but aren't quite ready for $400 shoes are going to do....especially me. I know, mail order - but I have hard to fit feet (narrow heel and I get blisters like nobody's business if the shoes are at all loose in the heels) and for dress shoes - to be worn with hose or with no stockings - fit is even more crucial.

Also the Fresh Market is going. I'm not entirely surprised, I knew the company as a whole was in trouble but it still makes me sad. It was one grocery store that was pleasant to go to - no harsh lighting, it was quiet, the shelves weren't just metal bolted together. They carried things other places did not.

Here, we have Green Spray, which as I've said is nice enough for what they carry but they tend to have limited stock and are pretty "basic." And Pruett's is nice but again, it's a little too brightly-lit in most of the store for my taste, and while they have become my go-to for produce and meat (because theirs is the best in town), they still don't carry everything I need. So that means I wind up going to...wal-mart (dun dun dun). I've complained at length about wal-mart before - it's loud, because it has high ceilings that echo like crazy, and it's overly lit with fluorescent lights. And the aisles - when they redid the place, they widened the aisles, but then they put "special offers" standing in the middle of some of them and that just narrows them again so only one cart can get through....and a lot of my problems with wal-mart is the way lots of people in it behave; people are pushy or loud or fight with their families. On a crowded day it's a misery to go there, and I admit if I need something and it's something only the wal-mart has, I change my meals for that day not to include it, if it's a busy day (like a Friday afternoon). And they're *terrible* these days about restocking - I went in on Saturday and there were huge swathes of empty shelves (luckily, nothing I needed). And some sections wind up in chaos (their toy section, especially) because they lack the paid staff to tidy.

(And frankly? I kind of hate having to go to multiple stores to get what I need. Pruett's is not so bad because they are kind of on my way home from work and they're rarely as horribly slammed as the wal-mart - though they ARE pretty busy on Payday Fridays - and the cashiers are less surly, which tells me they're probably better-treated)

And so, I don't know. I get that the Fresh Market is very much an upscale phenomenon, and we live (seemingly) in a world where people with Fresh Market money are fewer and fewer, and so the rest of us wind up with the Wal-mart or dollar stores, and because those stores keep their budgets down (and pay staff badly, and have inadequate staff), the experience is just kind of horrible. My usual Wal-mart feeling is "I want to get in, get the stuff I need, pay with a minimum of fuss, and scram." I don't want to browse, especially, or loiter. (And I think the wal-mart knows that, and their habit of randomly rearranging sections is a way of forcing people to browse longer in the hopes they'll find something else to buy).

And yes. I realize how effete it is to complain about how "unaesthetic" the wal-mart experience is, but some weeks, except for work and church, that's the ONLY place I go and....I tend to suffer a bit, emotionally, from a lack of pleasant "third places" in my life.

But then again: as an introvert, and someone who has a strong dislike of noise and chaos, maybe it's not so effete to want a place that doesn't feel overwhelming on a busy day? (How do people with autism manage grocery shopping? I am not but I do have the sometimes-easily-sensorily-overwhelmed-when-it's-too-loud-too-bright-and-too-hot tendencies)

(I wish we had an Aldi. It would probably do well here and people who have them tell me the prices are competitive with wal-mart, but the quality is generally better. But again: you can't always find everything you want)

The Bergner's up in my parents' town is closing, too. (I don't remember if the Sears is, but if it is - that means the one remaining enclosed mall has gone from five anchor stores: JC Penny, Sears, Bergner's, Kohl's, and Famous-Barr/Macy's, to one (Kohl's).

I know the mall nearest me - the Midway Mall, which I've not been in in years - has a Dillard's left, but that's about it.

And, I don't know. Maybe I'm being a little "tinfoil hattie" here but I feel like this is just another part of what I've referred to as the "hollowing out of the middle" - where it seems for those of us who are ostensibly middle-class (and actually, except for some of the medical professionals and maybe the high mucky-mucks in the casino, I'm probably one of the richer people in town, with my roughly-$60K-a-year income) don't really have options left - we can save our money for months upon months and maybe mail-order something from Nordstrom's*, or we can go buy cheap crud at the wal-mart that falls apart after a few washings (or, if you're like me, and you have the skill - and the time, which I don't often have - you make your own clothes. Yup, that's partly why I do it - I know I can get a better made product when I do it myself. I'm not quite there with jeans and trousers yet because I do find that Lee's fit me acceptably, but when I want a dress or skirt, it's frankly simpler to buy fabric and grab one of my favorite patterns....)

(*Or, I suppose, go into debt up to one's eyeballs, but I was not raised that way, so I'm left saving my pennies to be able to pay cash. I am the child of Depression-baby, Silent-Generation parents who themselves came from frugal families...)

I've also heard some people lately saying it's even hard to find decent clothes shopping online....which makes me kind of sad.

(Although, then again: I've had good luck with Vermont Country Store. So maybe what we have to do is seek out the "little guys" like them, and patronize them. I've been v. happy with the M.Mac dress I bought from them, and I keep thinking I should get another in a different style: I really like the Morning Glory dress, but again, $75 for a dress, while it's easily worth that (and I bet the people who made it are decently treated - it is made in the US), that's a fair amount of money for me, and I'd have to think about it and probably budget for it. But maybe eventually I will get one, or will ask for one for Christmas....)

I think of a joke (except it's not really a joke) my grandmother used to tell, about a girl getting ready to go out to a dance, and she says, "Should I wear my newest dress, my blue dress, or the one I wore before?" and the punchline is they are all the same dress....and yes, that's how people in my family lived up to my generation, and so I still have some of those attitudes. Someone complimented me the other day on a dress (one I had made) and I was literally "You know....this is like 20 years old!" And it was. I try to take care of my clothes - treat stains when they happen, wash them gently, hang them up. I've gotten better at changing into really OLD things for hard work (I have a designated pair of khakis and shirt - though those khakis are close to failing utterly, they either blow out in the thighs or get worn through in the knees) and saving my good clothes, but I know my mom used to gripe a little at my dad about going out to clean the garage in a dress shirt (but she also recognized that behavior's origin: my paternal grandmother complained about how my grandfather would change the oil in good pants and a white dress shirt...)

But yeah. I wonder if we are headed back for a time when a lot of people have relatively few clothes and have to care for them (as a rebellion against the "cheap couture" of poorly-made stuff that is probably made under not-very-nice conditions for the makers). Or maybe we're heading for some kind of bimodal culture, where there are some people who are willing to pay more and have less stuff, but have it be better-made stuff that lasts (that would be me: I'd rather pay twice as much for a skirt and have it last 10 years than get some inexpensive thing that only lasts 4) and another group who still wants the "fast couture" or whatever it's called. (If you're in the first group, you either look for "classic" designs or don't mind dressing a little idiosyncratically. And anyway, if stuff looks dated fast, it more commonly is that fast-couture stuff. And one trend I'd like to see die? The "cold shoulders" look where there are cutouts on the shoulders of a top.)

I was talking the other night about all the repairs I did. At one point I looked at the yellow fingerless mitts (they were the worst, and are the ones I found a couple of holes in AFTER washing after I thought I'd repaired them) and wondered: "You have a lot of fingerless mitts. Why not just trash this pair?" But I remember the work that went into them, and also I *like* that pair. And I have the yarn and the skill and the time, so why NOT fix them?

And maybe that's a little difference people learn, when they have the chance to make stuff? They know the work that goes into it, and maybe value it a bit more? I don't know. I know I have gotten very fussy about food in certain ways, with knowing how to cook: I find a lot of pre-prepared commercial stuff tastes a lot worse than it looks, and in a lot of cases I wind up going, "Wow, I could make that better and cheaper at home"

(One exception: barbecue. It is almost impossible to make proper barbecue at home unless you own a smoker. So that's why, if I'm going out to eat and I am choosing the place, I almost always choose barbecue. I figure: if you're going to a restaurant, get something you CAN'T make at home, or that they can make better than you can. Though maybe I'm a better cook than most people, I don't know)

But I suppose this is me, a not-quite-old-yet woman yelling at a cloud, but: it does seem that the world is changing in a lot of ways for the worse. Fewer small local stores where the owners/buyers for the store knew what local tastes and interests were, fewer places that sell really good quality stuff knowing that people won't necessarily be back in six weeks (and that people seem to TOLERATE that stuff is poorly made and is designed to be replaced on a regular basis**), stores that are nice to go into instead of loud and bright and chaotic....and yes, it does drive me more and more to look online for things, because going out sometimes feels like too much...

(**I wonder also if this is something that feeds the constant yard sales you see - one thing I've noticed is that some people change their home decor extremely frequently....they buy the various gew-gaws that places like Bed, Bath, and Beyond sells, and then tire of them, and replace them with new in six months....but something must be done with the old ones, so, yard sale. And yeah, that's their right to do that but that's just so different from how I operate - I took part in a few yard sales in my life and MAN that is a hard way to either get rid of stuff or raise money, and also, I get attached to the various decorative stuff I have (much of it bought from antiques shops or inherited through family) and I want to keep it forever, never mind that my house decor doesn't change over time.  I do have some "seasonal" stuff I put out, especially at Christmas, but that's different from going to, say "nautical theme" and then changing that out for "Asian-inspired decor" and then going to, I don't  know "Nature neutrals" or some such. And I shouldn't judge, it's me it seems tedious to have to constantly update and then DEAL with the leftover old stuff.

But I'm the kind of person who can cry over a broken tea mug - "because I LIKED it!" - so what do I know)

Monday, July 16, 2018

My Inner Child

So, yeah. A week or so ago I ordered some stuff that was reminiscent of the cracker jack/gumball machine/party favor bag prizes of my youth. As I said - I never had money for that kind of stuff (and didn't get invited to birthday parties) so that kind of stuff was maybe a little rare for me.

And I suppose for some adults, buying stuff that fills some kind of hole that got opened up in childhood is a thing. I don't know, it's always been me. Though for me it tends not to be proxy things like purses or cars, but the literal toys I wanted and couldn't get.

Well, here's the first item:

"crystal" mice

The "crystal" animal family. I remember things like these as being things like "prizes" at fairs and the like (and look, they have their original box! And I'm keeping the box, it's kind of cool and makes me think they maybe date earlier than I thought....). These were based on an earlier idea - china animals that was a "mom and babies" that were joined by a little chain. (My mom had a set of cats. I finally persuaded her to remove the chain because I felt like the cats wanted to be free).

I also had a little toy mouse almost exactly like one of the baby mice when I was a kid.

And yeah, I don't know what I'll really DO with these other than put them on a shelf somewhere and look at them periodically, but maybe that's enough.

I also got a couple of silly little wobbly toys. Not Weebles (which we never had when I was a kid - we were a Fisher-Price family, but friends had Weebles), but smaller and probably older:

wobbly 2

These are REALLY tiny, like less than an inch tall. And they do wobble very well when you poke them, which is oddly pleasing. (I can't do video so you'll have to imagine the wobbling).

I suspect most of these things are things that ceased being made when the CPSC came to the fore; these are totally the sort of thing that would wind up swallowed (though I'm guessing they'd be too small to obstruct an airway, and probably would, um, "pass" easily enough) or stuck in a nose.

And this is the "lucky dip" (two sets - they came bagged together and at first I was concerned, but then I counted the items and found that the two sets were there). I DO think it is as advertised and is old-stock/European. The little rubber baby is stamped "Made in Germany," but none of the other things are marked:

box o' tat

There's a lot of interesting stuff there, across several scales. There's a glass beer mug about the right size for Wilbur, my toy tardigrade, and a larger chalice sort of thing that might work for the Barbie dolls...and some tiny food, and a lot of barnyard animals...

here's a photo without flash, a lot of the white things kind of disappeared in that other one:

Box o' tat, no flash

(Not shown are the flat-backed primary-colored sheep; they may eventually wind up glued to a pencil cup or something)

Also this weekend I repainted my toenails, with China Glaze "Where's the Party Cannon At" (a Pinkie Pie themed glitter polish):

close up

Monday mixed bag

Some good, some bad:

* I cleared out a WHOLE BUNCH of mending I needed to do last night. Because mending isn't "fun" in the way that making new stuff is, I tend to let it pile up. Also, several of the things were knitted items that got holes and I had to either seek out the scraps of leftover yarn or find a matching yarn. But finally last night I got sick of them being piled on the little table next to my chair, so I did them:

sewing repairs:
- reattach a button to a skirt (this is one of those buttons-all-down-the-front and the button that fell off was one of the top ones. I could have worn the skirt if it had been the bottom-most button (I never button that one for ease in walking) but this one would have caused an unattractive gap and shown either my slip or underwear)

- repair a tiny tear in my Sanrio sweatshirt (it came that way, I presume it was a factory error. It was small enough and easily enough fixed that I figured it was easier than sending it back and hoping there was a spare one in my size - this was the one out of the loot crate)

knitted item repair

- Fix a strained spot in the toe (threatening to become a hole) on my blue Van Gogh socks. This is a favorite pair so I wanted to be sure to fix them well. (Van Gogh = the yarn was an Opal line with colors inspired by paintings, this one was, IIRC, Starry Night)

- Fix a small snagged spot on my grey cabled sweater that had become a hole. This required me taking back a partial skein of the yarn (I had had lots left over and gave it to my mom for a project. But I retrieved the skein over my last visit up there)

- Fix holes in a pastel-colored hat, probably from me carelessly leaving it out where carpet beetles could get to it. I was fortunate in finding the yarn for this, I had to do a bit of hunting.

- Fix holes in two pairs of fingerless mitts, one probably left in coat pockets over a summer (and so more critter-accessable than my usual storage), the other a pair I had left over in my office that may have got munched when we had the moth infestation (which has been dealt with because the moth larvae were also eating the bird specimens).

I washed the gloves after that and unfortunately discovered another hole in one, so after they dry I have a bit more fixing to do.

* Found out this morning one of the members of my AAUW group, while on vacation in the Grand Canyon, fell on a trail and broke her hip (complication level: she is either on break from, or just finished up with, chemotherapy for a recurrence of cancer). She wound up in surgery in *Arizona*. Fortunately she has family with her. But still, how scary, to be badly injured far away from home and the doctors you know. I hope she has a good recovery. (Her name is Rebecca)

* I think I pulled one of my rib-area muscles, either working to cut brush on Saturday, or hoisting the heavy bags of yarn (I keep most of my stash in roughly 4 ' by 2' by 2' clear plastic rectangular bags - sweater bags, they're called, I think). They get heavy. It's not BAD but it does catch me when I move a particular way.

* Getting the mending out of the way though has energized me for doing more stuff. I have another pair of simple socks nearly finished, and I want to drag out the Augusta cardigan and work on it again. I also wound off a little yarn and am contemplating starting something new - specifically, the Antler Toque. The pattern itself is free but I'm seriously considering buying the eBook that it also comes in - partly to support the designer (and Ravelry) but partly because I like those kind of classic, simple patterns. (ooh, there's a nice sweater with the antler cable pattern in the book...)

I have some dark blue-green yarn (I made a KnitPicks order a while back and got some Preciosa to try) for it.

I also have my "freebee" skein of one of KnitPicks' new yarns that they were giving away with purchases over a certain amount. It's fingering weight and there's not much of I guess it will be fingerless mitts, and I have a couple patterns that should work.

I also want to start another sweater some time, though I really should (a) finish the Augusta cardigan and (b) Pull the owl sweater back out and work on it more. But I found some yarn I had bought and forgotten (some of it Webs closeouts) and I had put the pattern right with the yarn so I'd have them together....the Tilted Duster from an old issue of IK, for example, along with dark-blue yarn in the original yarn recommended....and I found the duck-egg color yarn I put aside for Flax, which would make a good read-and-knit project.

And yes, it's ironic I'm thinking of cold-weather stuff when we're entering the hottest week so far this year (and may it be the hottest week, and it get cooler again after this week is over). But really, many of my hobbies are hobbies that go best for cold weather: making quilts, and knitting (especially with wool, and wool is my favorite fiber to knit with), and even reading - reading is BEST on a cold winter evening when you can curl up in bed under a couple of quilts. And even making stuffies, because when it gets hot like this I thrash around in bed and a lot of the stuffies I have forming a sort of "soft headboard" for me wind up on the floor.

* I did get all of the hanging baskets arranged on Saturday afternoon and I pleased to report I've already seen hummingbirds visiting the lantana several times. (And bumble bees).

* Friday is my blood work and I'm striving to eat lower-sugar (and in general, striving to eat healthier, so I can see if I can drop a few pounds before my checkup - and already I'm noticing that maybe I have dropped a *little*). I need to be more disciplined about that any way but I can TELL that for me eating sweets is a comfort mechanism, and honestly, some days I feel like I have few enough of those. Especially in the heat when things like hot baths and wrapping up in a blanket are out. I've also been trying to work back into something more like the DASH diet. The irony of it is: even as I kind of hate it (so many vegetables, bleargh), I can also tell I feel physically better when I do it....

But Friday morning, after the fasting for the blood draw, I am TOTALLY getting a donut on the way home, because if there's any time you can have a donut, it's right after blood work. (It's probably been several months since I had one at this point....)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Older and tougher

I guess that's what's happening to me. I'm getting a little tougher in specific ways as I get older.

Anyway: I decided early afternoon to (a) take a quick run to Lulu and Hazel's for fun and (b) get a couple more hanging baskets for the bees and butterflies.

(I did buy a *little* fabric. And a cute pattern. Anyway, it's nice to support small local businesses).

And then to the garden center. I got a callibrancha basket, but then looking at the other ones - Why not Lantana? Butterflies like it and it's so darn invasive you don't want to plant it in the GROUND, but a basket is probably OK. And why not a red petunia in hopes of getting hummingbirds to stop at it?

And I thought - well, you have that second shepherd's crook in the backyard, you could hang two of the baskets there.

And then I thought - why not MOVE the crook so they're all in the front of the house, so you can see them and enjoy them?

But to get to the crook, I had to move the metal yard chair (I have one of those old style tube-framed metal chairs - kind of that 1950s style with the solid metal seat and back).

Picked it up, and moved it.

There were hornets.

Oh crap, there were hornets.

I dropped the chair and backed off. I felt one land on my arm - felt its scratchy legs - and was like NOT TODAY MONKEYFIGHTER - and batted at my arm and managed to get it off before it stung, and backed away fast enough to avoid the others (which was a trick - I was in fairly open sandals, capris, and a short sleeved shirt.

This is actually huge for me because when I was a kid I was TERRIFIED of stinging insects. Even bumblebees and honeybees, which are comparatively mellow. I remember crying and refusing to follow when I was maybe about seven and my class was going on a short hike, and we had to walk past sweet-clover that was full of honeybees. And of screaming, running, and flapping my arms (that last probably not a wise move) whenever I saw a wasp.

But, one thing I'm learning about adulthood: there's rarely someone there to comfort you or to sigh and find another way around the bees, so you just have to be tough and deal with it. And bumblebees are now my friends (I like watching them visit the flowers in my front garden) and honeybees and all the odd little native bees.

I haven't been stung in a long time (and that's a bit of a concern: I have no idea if in my new, more-allergic state, if I'd react badly. I got stung multiple times 20 years ago when I blundered into a hornet's nest while doing field work - I remember one of the people helping me actually pulling the hornets off my arms because they were multiply stinging me - and except for my left arm (where I got the most stings) swelling a little and hurting the next day, I was OK. The most recent sting I had was from a halictid bee ("sweat bee") and while those hurt, they're much smaller than a typical sting).

I'm glad I managed to avoid it here, though, mainly for the "what if I reacted badly"

(Oh, wait - a couple years ago I brushed against a wasp and got stung on the hand, and except for the normal swelling a person gets with that kind of a sting, had no reaction, so I'm *probably* safe)

But yeah. The hornets kind of foiled my plans there.

And then stood back and was like "well, crud." I knew I couldn't hang the baskets up then - I had dragged them all out back to water them well before hanging them. So I just hung the lantana and the callibrancha in my redbud, and thought.

And I thought - maybe I have hornet killer? Maybe I can get rid of them? I found an old can but of course it was empty or clogged.

So I thought - do I go back out now? I have to get rid of the hornets if they're in the ground, they're really close to my garage and wow was I lucky I didn't encounter them before.

So I did run BACK out. Found a can of foaming spray that DID NOT also boast it killed carpenter bees (this one probably does, but....I want to avoid as much collateral damage as I can and I don't mind carpenter bees).

I also decided - heck, the shepherd's crooks were $15, just get another one while I'm out, so I can leave the one in place (it's where I hang the birdfeeders in the winter).

Found my stuff, got in line. There were two lines (side by side) open. I stood BETWEEN the two with the plan of just hopping over to the next cashier who got free. A guy got behind me.

"Which line are you even IN" he snarled at me.

I looked at him. Decided "oh no, not today, I am not being Fluttershy and I have done too many 'I pick this line' only to have the person ahead of me have a MAJOR problem that results in me waiting 10 extra minutes while everyone who picked a DIFFERENT line gets served first" and I said, calmly "I am in the line for the next cashier that becomes available."

Now, I suppose in rare instances that would have been a risky response (after all, a guy got knifed at the movie theater in Sherman last week for asserting that a seat a guy was in was actually reserved for him) but in this case the guy seemed to tolerate it.

And really, that's what stores should do: have one line, in a funnel set up, where the NEXT person in line goes to the NEXT cashier free, regardless of where they are - like I said, I've had too many times when someone tried to line-jump me, or too many times where I got to the head of the line to hear "Honey, I have to close this register," or too many times where I picked the line where the person either has a major malfunction or starts an argument with the cashier, and I'm getting too old to spend my weekends standing in lines.

But yeah. I did find out - after I sprayed the ground where I thought the nest was - that it was actually underneath the chair (but I managed to tip the chair over and hit the nest, and do that all without being stung.

So now I'm going to install my new shepherd's crook, hang up my new plants, and hope the bumblebees and other fun to watch critters find them fairly soon.

Friday, July 13, 2018

A little quotation

What I was talking about yesterday, about sometimes indulging in something you might have enjoyed as a child being okay - I saw this over at LadyWaterfall's tumblr (a Pony blog) but I guess she didn't actually write it:

If you’re an adult, do the stuff you couldn’t as a kid.

Like, me and my sister went to a museum, and they had an extra exhibit of butterflies. But it cost £3. So we sighed, walked past, then stopped. We each had £3. We could see the butterflies. And we did it was great. We followed it up with an ice-cream as well because Mum and Dad weren’t there to say no.

I was driving back from a work trip with 2 other people in their early 20s, and we drove past a MacDonalds. One of the others went “Aww man, I’d love a McFlurry.” And the guy driving pulled in to the drive through. It was wild. But it was great.

I went to a park over the weekend and I was thinking “Man, I’d love to hire one of those bikes and cycle round the park.” It took me a few minutes to go “Wait, I can hire one of those bikes!” I guess what I’m saying is, those impulsive things you wanted to do as a kid - see the dinosaur exhibit, play in the fountains with the other kids, lie in the shade for 2 hours - you can do when you’re an adult. You have to deal with a whole lot of other bull, but at least you can indulge your inner 8 year-old."

Maybe not so much on the "getting a McFlurry" or similar (at least not until my bloodwork comes back and my blood sugar and cholesterol are all OK), but....yeah. My box of little toys is on its way to me from the Etsy seller, it's supposed to be here Monday.

And yeah, maybe there is stuff I really CAN'T do (I don't think a pony could support my weight; it might even be a struggle for a smallish horse, I don't know), and there's some stuff I wouldn't be comfortable doing (And some stuff I wouldn't want to do....) but yes. This is why I have cartoon-character band-aids in my medicine cabinet (the "flesh" ones don't match my flesh anyway - I don't know who they were designed for but they don't work for most skin tones, it seems). And why I like cartoons.

But yeah. Maybe what I need to do more is look for the little things that would have made me happy as a child and just DO them.

Onward and upward

Feeling a little cheerier today. Though I am having a bad outbreak of hives. These things, they seem to have their own schedule. I'm beginning to think it's some kind of weird internal autoimmune thing with me and not any allergen I can pinpoint in some cases - sometimes, yes, I do get 'em after working in the yard, but I haven't done that in quite a few days, and the last time I did, the hives afterward were less than these. And I don't think it's any food item I can pinpoint; I have not eaten anything unusual - not even strawberries, which I suspected at times of doing it to me - in recent days. It's possible they're just on their own clock; I've read that about chronic hives.

I also wonder if my moods track with them - I know yesterday I was having some mild GI system pain before the hives popped (and yes, you can get internal hives, and they can be dangerous except in my case they seem not to be) and felt cranky and sad, and now I wonder if "cranky and sad" is more an early warning system that my immune system is going into overdrive than anything on its own.

I don't know.

I did have to temporarily discontinue reading "Seven Dead" because once again it's at what I would call a "claustrophobic" place - it's really more of a thriller in some ways than a mystery, and when I'm already struggling a little I dislike reading about protagonists being locked in rooms, or there being characters who might be very dangerous, might merely be slightly menacing, or might just be odd, and you can't tell which it is.

I picked up "The Ghost of Thomas Kempe" again last night but even IT got into a sort of sad, speculative place (James thinking about Arnold - a young man who had experienced the ghost before, back in the 1850s, and he could actually "sense" a ghost of the young man who was following him around and being sort of a companion, but now he's learned that Arnold also grew to be a very old man - and in fact is one of the benefactors of the school - and he's thinking how strange it is, thinking about how some day he will be old, and that the old widow who lives near them was once a young girl.

Though then again: that is kind of an interesting thought. I've heard the saying "We are always the same age inside" though I think it's more that we carry around remnants and memories from all the different ages we have been. I KNOW I have that lonely six year old who wishes she had more friends who lived near by hanging out in my psyche, and I regularly make jokes about how I am perpetually 12 because the idea of butts cracks me up, and I think I also have that tentative 16 year old in there, wearing make up for the first time and wondering what impression she's making on the world, and and and.

I think in my case, for some reason, the child I was occupies a bigger place in my psyche than the older ages do, or than those child-memories do for other people. I REMEMBER my young-adulthood, I remember grad school and all....but perhaps because it was by and large a happier time for me (I had a tribe of people who thought and acted like me, I felt understood for once in my life) it didn't make as big an impression on my personality? I mean, I remember it well - I remember goofing with Tim and Joe in the lab (Joe had some kind of Sim-type PC game, where you terraformed the planet, and one of the things was that Gaia would talk back to you if you clicked in a certain place ("Stop poking me!") and I remember Joe doing that over and over and us just roaring with laughter because....I don't know. It sounds stupid now but it was so funny at the time. And I remember when we made plans as a group to meet up and see Forrest Gump when it came out, but one group got delayed by having to wait on a train, and Eric raised one eyebrow and said, "You need to plan for things like trains" and how that kind of became a catchphrase for that cohort, and how we wound up seeing "The Lion King" instead (which I probably actually enjoyed more). And the summer we all worked hard to move departmental stuff into the new building that had been built, and then I found out by some quirk of the tax laws, almost my entire pay wound up going to taxes...

And I remember coming here, though I admit in a way the past nearly-20 years have been a bit of a blur because I've worked so hard, and it's kind of been the same darn thing over and over again ("It's Fall Semester, so this must be Biostats") and I confess there have been some times I've been in the classroom for a class I *always* teach and have caught myself wondering, "Is this fall semester or spring semester now?"

I dunno. The "James realizes Arnold was a whole real person with a whole real life and not some kind of semi-imaginary child figure who can be a pal to him" thing seemed terribly sad to me last night, but maybe now it doesn't seem so.

And yes, as I said, that kid that I was is still with me - the six year old wishing for someone to come and play, the eight year old making elaborate fantasy worlds in her dollhouses and with small toys, the ten year old making doll clothes (I played with toys - mostly stuffed animals, really, rather than dolls - until an embarrassingly late age). Even the teenager who collected dolls because saying "I collect these because I'm interested in the history of 20th century American childhood" sounds more sophisticated than "I like dolls and like going around to antique and resale shops and looking for old ones"

The thing is, I don't quite know what to do with 'em. I don't know that buying more dolls to satisfy my teen-collector who secretly just wants to dress and pose them and give them elaborate backstories, or buying the shiny trinkets that eight year old me wanted but never had any money to buy is necessarily a useful strategy. But I also don't want to figuratively shove them in a closet and make them shut up, or try (somehow) to force them all to grow up so it's just 49-year-old me in my psyche....

Thursday, July 12, 2018

One other thing

Sorry about all of this but it's hot and I don't feel great and I've been doing calorie-restriction (both because of the heat and because of my upcoming doctor's checkup) and it gets really old really fast eating almost exclusively fruits and vegetables but...

There are a bunch of other things I've been thinking about.

* Last week I talked about how I saw that couple fighting with each other on my street? (Well, I do see couples fight occasionally; I've seen people scream at each other in the wal-mart over money being spent or foods they don't want or whatever). And I admit my take-home from that was "probably better to be alone; "single blessedness" used to be a term used for some women who chose to devote themselves to good works rather than a partner"

But then, that evening (irony) I was watching a repeat of "Dr. Pol" and it was the one where he and his wife (Diane) had their 50th wedding anniversary, and as part of that they chose to renew their vows.

And I admit it, I sat there weeping in front of the tv. And when Diane Pol made a comment like "God must have meant for Jan to come here to Michigan [for those who don't watch the show, the doctor - Jan Pol - is originally from the Netherlands; I guess he did a student-exchange program in high school and that's how he met his wife] so we could wind up together" and I just *sobbed* and said "I wish I had that."

So yeah. Maybe it's just a time right now when I'm disinclined to be happy with my lot, I don't know.

And I'm sure they probably have disagreements and even arguments but the way the show presents it, it seems like a pretty harmonious marriage and they seem like fairly good people.....I was reminded of this because my mom sent me a clipping (she knows I like the show) from Parade magazine (which always runs "features" on well-known people when they have a new book or show or movie - the new season of this starts up this weekend) but in the short interview he makes the comment that they 'treat people the way we'd want to be treated' or somesuch and yeah....sometimes that feels like all to rare a thing in this world.

I just....sometimes I wish I had a little more support. But dating is hard. Even meeting someone is hard. (And don't suggest online dating. Just, don't). (And one of the unsettling-to-me things I learned recently? A single woman who had been a member at the church I belong to left it and started attending another, rather different church, because, and I quote "there are more single guys there." I suppose it's a matter of priority but I wouldn't go to a church that I had certain theological disagreements with - which I would with the one she had chosen - just on the off chance I might find a mate. Then again, it's entirely possible I'm Doing It Wrong and that's why I'm still single, that I haven't been willing to endure enough discomfort? I don't know. And I still need to call someone to help "spot" me on the ladder when I go to trim those branches....)

* I think I figured out my objection to some of the more activist minded sorts saying "heck no, we're not going to be civil" over whatever injustice is currently happening. And it's largely "my stuff" (to euphemize a phrase a friend used). But it's this: because I am not often around the seats of power, because I have almost no dealings with politicians of any stripe, I interpret "being not-civil" as including some degree of spillover, where you're uncivil in various ways to ordinary people.

(There may also be something about it that feels wrong to me that I can't quite put my finger on, I don't know).

But I do often feel - when I read stories about that dude who stabbed the guy over a movie theater seat (which made the Dallas radio news, and it was actually a more complex story than how they presented it - apparently the victim got into a fight with the perpetrator and that led to the stabbing*) and also people screaming at each other in the grocery or people saying bad things about others behind their backs or people leaving trash around and expecting others to pick it up....well, I feel like the social fabric is fraying and tearing, and it worries me.

It worries me that some day I will be, I don't know, at the JoAnn's, and I will wind up an injured bystander in someone's fight. Or that someone rushing to get to the parking space before I can pull into it will hit me in such a way that I do not recover from the car accident. Or that someone will come onto campus with a serious grudge, and I'll be one of the people whose face gets plastered in the photomontage about the people they offer up 'thoughts and prayers' to the families of.

And I admit, it's all I can do not to throw up my hands and become,  if not 100% a hermit (I don't think I could just jettison my responsibilities at church, or my job), at least 85% of one.

(*And I admit, this is how I'm either wise or a coward, I don't know - but if some dude was sitting in my assigned seat, and I said, "Hey, you might not realize this, but that's my seat, would you please move" and they refused, I'd probably just go find someone in charge and say "hey, there's a dude in my seat, can I have a different one?" and if there weren't a different one, I might even just ask for a refund and leave)

And yeah, I recognize that this feeling of "it's people I can't stand" (to quote Linus van Pelt) is a combination of a couple of things:

- the summer heat, humidity, and high pressure, which make me low-level achy and therefore low-level dyspeptic

- the fact that MOST of the people I interact with currently on a random day are, well, randos out in public - the other people at the grocery store, the Unknown Quantities living in the rental houses down the street...and not knowing a person tends to make you less willing to dismiss/accept their bad behavior ("Oh, their bad knee is hurting them" you say about a loved one who crabs at you. Or "I know she's tired and worried about her mom's poor health" over a friend who suddenly seems unable to fulfill without complaint the responsibilities they cheerfully carried before)

And so, I develop a jaundiced view of humanity. (and pace Linus, I think he had it backwards: I love individual PEOPLE that I know and understand and I've heard their backstory. But humanity as a mass? forget it. They're rude, they're selfish, they leave messes around for others to clean up....and yes, "humanity" as a whole is made up of people, but.....It's harder to love what you do not know).

Summer hits hard

So I stepped outside, to contemplate doing some brush cutting, and went "nope" and went back in and dressed in campus-friendly clothes and came over here. It's incredibly humid out (we got rain last night) and it's already hot and I just didn't WANT to.

And I'm taking the day off from exercising even though I admit I feel a little guilty about that - I'm tired and I hurt. I can probably pick up the missed minutes tomorrow and Saturday, but ugh. Keeping up with an exercise schedule, even indoors, is hard when it's so hot and humid and generally unpleasant.

Also, again I feel kind of lonely. Board and Elders' meeting were last night, those things, I'm essentially working, having to pay attention and consider things and there's always the worry (given that we've had a few contentious Board meetings in the past) that something might go very wrong and so I'm always apprehensive during them. So it doesn't feel like getting together with friends, it feels like working.

And I remembered this song, from the long-ago days of my childhood:

(From the old Sesame Street. And yes, I know, people are commenting on how the apes' enclosure is very old-skool and is Not How It Should Be Done and that's probably why they re-did the segment in the 90s with close ups of snow leopards in a more naturalistic setting).

But yeah. I feel that song hard, and I remember it so much from my childhood. I even remember tearfully telling my mom (I think it was on a day when one of my relatively few childhood friends was off playing with another friend of hers, someone I didn't know) that I wished I had a friend who was always around for me and my mom commented that if the friend were always around, I might get bored of them and wish they'd go away. And I amended my wish: I wish I had a friend who was always there when I wanted them to be there. And yes, as an adult I get that that's a very selfish desire (no reciprocity - no mention of me being there for them when they wanted me, and also my wanting the power to summon and dismiss at will, but then that's kind of how kids are).

But yeah. I remember being a lonely little kid, wishing I had more friends. And I think also the "feeling excluded a lot" thing was part and parcel of this.

But yeah. That sad little kid rises to the surface again when I'm not busy enough or doing enough different things, and I've really noticed that this summer. Oh, I know, at some point I will be complaining this fall about having too much to do (I just agreed to take on a research student starting this fall...). I guess that's the adult version for me of "I wish I had a friend who was always there when I wanted them" - "I wish I was busy enough not to be sad but not so busy that I'm stressed out."

I don't know. I'd plan doing something fun this weekend but it's supposed to be heat indexes in the low 100s and I just can't deal with that. I'll probably just do a quick grocery run locally, maybe early tomorrow morning, and then stay home the rest of the weekend, because the combination of heat, worrying about "what do I do if I'm in Sherman and my car poops out?" (I need to replace the battery some time but just haven't gotten around to it, and I worry about this heat), and just generally not feeling great (heat, humidity, etc.)

It's 30 C in my office. I need to work. There are people I care about that I'm now worrying about for various reason. I don't like this. I want to go back to a time when things were happier and I had fewer concerns and it wasn't roasting hot.

Edited to add: I think I just need to be gentle with myself these next few days. I have worries (the whole bloodwork/looming doctor's appointment, the eternal worry about aging parents, worries about the future (both fiscally - the TIAA and Vanguard statements came the other day - and more globally about what is happening with the world and with people). And I know given the heat and humidity I am not functioning as happily as I normally do. I know when it's hot and humid I am more inclined to be grumpy/sad/irritable*/not want to do things. It's just part of summer for me.

(*There is someone, I know not if faculty, staff, or student, because I keep my office door closed to try to hoard what cool air comes out of the vent, but this person comes and slams a door repeatedly, five or six times, a couple times a day. It annoys me a lot. I try to tell myself that maybe it's someone with OCD or something and they need to do that for self-comfort....but it does me a discomfort. And I guess that's modern life in a nutshell: what comforts one may discomfort another, and so who gets the right to have comfort?)

But I decided: okay, you have to be careful about food for the nonce, but you can go ahead and have other treats - I have decided to loosen some of my restrictions on spending. I found an Esty site the other day that sold what might generally be dismissively called "plastic tat" - the little cheap prizes that came out of gumball machines or cereal boxes or that could be sometimes bought at craft stores. And I admit it: I ordered some stuff. Two "lucky dips" of fifteen small plastic toys each (claim is they came from Europe, we will see), and a set of silly little flat-back plastic sheep that I might glue onto a box or something, and a couple of little tiny "weebles" type toys, and one of those clear plastic "animal family" figures - an animal, with its babies chained to it (these were common when I was a child and were often inexpensive prizes or party-favor type gifts).

And this raises some complex feelings for me....a big part of the "I want this" is "I want the mild and unlikely to be bad surprise of getting something where I don't know what it is." I've always liked "grab bag" type things where you kind of knew going in what was in the bag - one of the quilt shops up in Illinois used to do....I think they called them "ducklings,"? or maybe "piglets" - bags of six or eight small pieces of fabric, usually a fat quarter or two and maybe some fat eights, but you didn't know in advance what the fabrics would be, and I always liked to get those because it was fun to see what the fabric was and most of the time, it was something I could use OR could trade with someone else who quilted for something I wanted.

And my intense love of blindbag toys stems from this. Even as I go 'okay, so now I have Friend Bear, I guess I'll line her up with the other little Care Bears figures I have' and I don't ever really do that much more with them.

But there's another thing going on here, and it's something I'm realizing is a side effect of my parents' frugality. Yes, their being frugal taught me well: I have, currently, zero debt. I own my house outright (long story but: bought a small older house as a fixer-upper. Was able to offer cash and got a discounted price because the seller needed money right then).

But at the same time, I think I missed out on some of the simple fun of childhood through being told to "save your pennies." - I often wanted to put a quarter in the gumball machine to see what little toy came out, but either I didn't have a quarter on me (most of the time) or I was told not to waste my money on it, OR I was saving my meager allowance for something I REALLY wanted, and as the most I ever got in my young life was $2 a week, it took a very long time to save up for something, and I know once I got "burned" by the item being 100% sold-out forever when I had the money saved....

And I know my mother says "I hope they're not spoiling her" about my niece, but I think part of it is my brother and sister are more willing to spend money on that kind of simple fun. And I wonder, if I had been allowed and even encouraged to throw my quarters away on dumb little toys as a kid, I wouldn't be so tempted as an adult.

(And also, there are so many more experiences my niece gets to have, by virtue of where they live and also there being a more general recognition now that there need to be fun things for kids than when I was a kid - they have a membership at a petting-zoo type place and she's gotten to do things like have birds perch on her arm and go on pony rides. I got to ride a pony ONCE when I was a child, and it was for about five minutes at the departmental picnic my dad's department put on)

(And yet? I don't remember ever being discouraged from buying the Diener eraser animals I loved and loved to play with. Maybe they were okay because they were "office supplies"? Or maybe it was that we didn't get to the store that sold them that often? People are odd)

I've also talked before about how I bought some of the Build-a-Bear Care bears when they came out (well, I really wanted Grumpy, but at one point Cheer and Share were on sale for cheap, and I decided he needed friends) because I wanted a Grumpy Bear when they came out when I was a kid, but I was like 13, and was trying to seem sophisticated, and it seemed too babyish to ask for a Care Bear for Christmas, and so I never got one....And that I bought some of the "vintage reproduction" Strawberry Shortcake dolls, because they were another toy line I liked but was just on the cusp of being "too old for" when they were originally in the stores. (And all my vintage Ponies).

And I think also the fact that I now have three dressable Barbies (Sam came yesterday, but sadly, I don't think it's wise to take her hair out of the bun, so she will have to wear a permabun) is part of this. It is just fun - in a very simpleminded very basic way - to change their clothes, to pick out outfits. I admit I've "wasted" a lot of money on Barbie clothes. (And I do want to have a try at making a few things; I found a pattern for a skirt and for a laceweight-yarn pullover on Ravelry). But I don't know. For me it does pay dividends in happiness because when I come home and decide to change the clothes on the dolls, it does allow me to de-track my mind, at least for a few minutes, from whatever I dealt with during the day or whatever was bothering me.

Anyway, if there seems to be interest, there will be pictures of Sam eventually, and also maybe of the "lucky dip" toys when they arrive.

In the news

I need to get ready and maybe go out and cut brush for a little bit before going over to school and working, but a few things I've seen....

*There was a social-media post (I saw it on Twitter) thanking the "support people" in the Thai cave rescue (the people who cooked food, the people who are helping clean up the flooded farm fields, the people who cleaned the area where the rescuers were staying).

I think we do need to be reminded of that: even if you're not the equivalent of a cave-diving expert or a Navy SEAL, there is still something you can do to help - the people who few the SEALs had an important job, too, just not as obvious a one.

(I will just in passing contrast this with a famous American inventor/rich guy who seemed to keep pushing himself forward in the effort and acting as if he could be the great savior with an invention....which probably wasn't practical for this situation....and the SEALs were more like, "No, really, we got this" and they proceeded to bring all the kids and their coach out safely. And the rich guy, you get the feeling he wanted attention there...

* Some news stories do feel a bit to me like a glitch in the Matrix: Man stabs another man at movie theater. This is the big movie theater in Sherman. I've never gone to it but it's right next to where the Books a Million I know where they're talking about it.

Anyway, apparently the story goes, some guy showed up and started sitting in seats that had been "reserved" (It's been so long since I went out to a movie that I didn't even know they reserved seats). He'd get told to move, but I guess finally he got fed up and things went bad - he said "I should be able to sit where I want," the guy he muttered that to (after he had asked the perpetrator to move out of the victim's reserved seat), there was a scuffle, and the "I should be able to sit where I want" guy stabbed the other guy.

The movie being shown? "The First Purge," which I understand is part of a dystopian horror series where there's a day every year where every law - up to and including murder - are in abeyance, so you can "do what you want."

People ask me why I don't go out in public more. This kind of thing is why.

* The basketball court for kids (built with a grant from the Nancy Lieberman foundation, and I had to look that up - she's a former basketball player herself, and apparently is not related to the former vice-presidential candidate) is back open. They had to spend city money to repair it, and spend more to erect a fence to help protect it, because people are terrible.

Again, this is one of those things I don't get. How much unhappiness must you have in your heart to want to vandalize a basketball court that was build for kids to be happy and have fun?

* And also on how how much unhappiness and other stuff must you have in your heart - a couple of high-profile folks have recently been revealed using ugly slurs against other groups. I admit I've said my share of annoyed utterances about fellow drivers and the like, but it takes the form of criticisms of their behavior ("Oh, THANKS for the the turn signal, jerk" when someone turns in front of me without signalling) or is a more general insult (like, "jerk!"). I guess I was raised NOT to think those other things or to say them, and the whole "it just slipped out" excuse never quite washed with me because I think in order to SAY that kind of thing, you have to have it in your heart or your mind first. And really, my first reaction to someone is going to be to how they are behaving and not who they are.

As for "slipped out" - the ONE time I swore in front of my mom, it was one of those situations. We were driving somewhere, and a couple blocks ahead of us, one of those big electrical transformers exploded. I exclaimed "Oh, s***!" out of fear.

My mom gave me SUCH A LOOK. (I was in my late 20s at the time). But yeah, that's the kind of thing that "slips out" of my mouth in extremis.

(I've gotten better about that of late; I trained myself really hard when I was teaching Youth Group to use 100% G-rated expletives. And also, I do that in front of my classes - most students wouldn't mind a four-letter word, but those one or two who do, you have to be conscious of them).

So I dunno. Three stories about human badness and one about human goodness. That's biased, of course, by what actually *makes* the news but I would hope we would all strive to be like the people who cooked meals for the rescuers or who are helping clean up the flooded farm fields....

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Two disparate thoughts:

First: I see the New York Times is once again running a knitting article. I admit my gut suspicion is that it's really a "buy my book" piece. But yeah, the author makes a deal about how many people start to knit and then drop it. She blames scarves-as-a-first-project.

I don't know. Yes, a scarf is not a great first project (it SEEMS like it would be, because easy and no shaping, but scarves can be wicked boring to knit - often if I'm doing a simple one, it's my knit-and-read project). (That said, contra what is stated in the article: I like scarves and I wear them. Often a scarf makes the difference between "ugh I am cold outside with just this sweater" and "I am OK with just this sweater")

If I were teaching a new knitter, the first thing I'd show them how to do was a simple cotton dishcloth. Probably in that "Grandmother's Favorite Cotton Dishcloth" pattern that is EVERYWHERE online (that is a non-ravelry link, and it has some really nice photos of pretty dishcloths on it).

Yes, a dishcloth is non-glamorous and utilitarian. But it IS useful. Even if you make a mistake in it somewhere. And they last for a long time (especially if you do them of 100% white cotton - you can even soak them in bleach, then, if you have to). And everyone can use them, practically. And they only take a couple hours to make.

The second project I'd suggest would be a hat. Depending on the person, it would either be a knit-flat and seamed pattern, or I'd introduce the person to the magic of knitting in the round. (generally hats go down best, I find, on short circulars, though you can also use double-points, and in fact, will probably need them to finish off the top). Hats are useful in most climates, they don't take a lot of yarn, you can use any kind of wild-colored or soft or pretty yarn you want because generally they don't get hard wear like socks or a pullover.

Or, if the person seemed especially interested in knitting-in-the-round, I'd suggest mittens. (Yes, there are knit-flat-and-seamed mittens out there, but I've yet to see a pattern that gave as satisfying a product as the knit in the round kind). Mittens are what got me hooked on knitting back around 1997 when I started up again - there is something kind of magic (at least to me) about knitting in the round.

And of course, there are always socks, but I don't think they are a beginner project, necessarily. (One time I unsuccessfully tried to teach someone to knit, it was a labmate who wanted to learn to make socks. Even using a worsted-weight-friendly pattern, she had a hard time getting the hang of knitting in the round. Or maybe she wasn't patient enough, I don't know)

Socks are still one of my favorite projects.

As for crocheting....well, I'd probably start with either a hat or an amigurumi creature, depending on the person's inclination. These days I almost exclusively use crocheting for "critters" because I tend to prefer the "hand" of a knitted fabric more for wearing, and I find it hard to get the knack of crocheting on really fine yarn.

ETA: and another article, this one from Forbes about how craft stores now must pander to the stereotype of Millennial interests and wants and guys, I just need to lie down for a little bit...

Look. People who do crafts hardcore, we are often not like the "median" person of a given cohort. We tend to be more committed to stuff. We tend to care less about being "cool," in fact, some of us even cultivate a consciously "uncool" persona. We don't like being pandered to.

I'm not a Millennial, either - I'm Gen X. We're the generation that probably has more money than the Millennials (in that we are more established in our careers). Yeah, we're probably broker than the Baby Boomers on average, but I suspect we still have more disposable income than those younger than us. And a lot of us are beginning to (hopefully?) approach retirement, and we may have more time - at a lot of us older Xers, if we even had kids, they're more independent now (teens or even early 20s) so we probably have more time. But has any industry EVER bothered to court us?

The whole idea that "we need to appeal to the most shallow 5% of a generation that is big and diverse and also is media-savvy and so will probably see through pandering attempts" is super dumb. And this line from the story:"Crafting retailers have no time to wait. They must turn their stores into Instagram-worthy destinations that will attract the next generation creative hobbyists." does me a discomfort.

Look, you make your store shiny and slick and emoji-filled and dumb everything down? The Millennials who might actually have become your good customers are gonna bail, and the gen Xers will be behind them, rolling their eyes.

(Also, the idea of an "instragram-worthy destination," what does that even MEAN? I'm picturing people getting all up in your face and taking your picture without your permission and if that's how it is, I'll become a hermit, thanks).

What I want in a small craft shop is this: a good selection of supplies. Enough yarn OF THE SAME STINKING DYELOT to be able to make a sweater. A knowledgeable staff that aren't snooty and aloof but that at the same time aren't following me around like a puppy and trying to chat me up. A place that isn't loud or over-bright or too hot or that pipes in loud canned music. A table where a person can sit to craft if they want, but no pressure if they're an introvert who wants to buy their stuff and scram.

And in a superstore-type place, like Michael's, what I want is: a big selection of a lot of different things. Shelves that aren't an ungodly mess. Enough cash registers open so I'm not waiting on line for fifteen minutes. Again, no loud music and no endcap tvs blaring ads would be a major plus.

I suppose "Instragram-worthy" means "quirky and twee," and while I can be down for that, I want some substance behind the quirkiness; I don't want to walk into what is ostensibly a yarn shop and ask some Bored Young Person behind the desk if they have long-cable circular needles and have them snap their gum at me and go "I dunno....I guess? the needles are over there" and wave vaguely at half the store.

But yeah. If in three years the plaint is "Millennials are killing craft stores!" the answer is no, it's not the Millennials, it's the belief that stores need to change and jettison substance in favor of style that doomed them.

Also, while I'm complaining: calling people who sew "sewists" discomfits me. I get that "sewer" has an unfortunate homonym when typed rather than said, but "sewist" sounds to me like someone who is marching in protest over something, or like something deeply political. (And I get that some people who sew ARE, but I am not. Personally, I prefer to say 'seamstress' for what I do, but I get that that is a very gendered term.)


A sad story out of Dallas yesterday: a guy was shot and killed by police because he was being "menacing" with machetes. He was described as "not wearing shoes, socks, or a shirt, and waving machetes around and yelling" and later in the radio-news story the comment was made "his motives are unknown" and I admit I was kinda screaming "UNTREATED MENTAL ILLNESS OR DRUG USE" at the radio.

And it's unfortunate he was killed. Yes, I guess a lot of people were scared - one woman who worked in a shop said they locked the doors and hunkered down and hoped he'd go away. He didn't actually hurt anyone but when police approached, he wouldn't drop the weapons (which, again, leads me to think there was something not-normal going on in his brain: if I were out in  my yard cutting weeds with my machete, and I saw a cop walking up to me, I'd carefully set it down on the ground and step away from it so he'd know I wasn't a threat)

And yeah, I know I shouldn't Monday-morning quarterback, but it made me wonder: why don't police have tranquilizer guns, like people who work around large animals do? It would make more sense, ultimately, to hit the guy with a tranq, take him to a hospital, have him evaluated. I suppose there are safety concerns and all involved (for both perpetrator and police) but I wonder - the guy is dead now, being tranquilized, even though it carries some risks, means it's less likely he'd be dead. And if a cop can hit him with a bullet you'd think he could hit him with a dart. (I don't know. Maybe humans know to pull out tranq darts and animals don't?)

I also know that police sometimes use beanbag guns to subdue people when it looks like a non-violent confrontation but I guess they felt that was contraindicated here?

But I would not be surprised to find out this was someone who was a meth addict, or had gotten a bad batch of some other kind of drug, or had gone off his meds, or something.

I dunno. I also wonder how I'd react in my building if someone showed up with longknives. I suppose my first instinct would be to get into the first room I could block him OUT of  and lock the door, and call from the phone in the room (or, if there were no phone, hope someone else called). I think I would find someone coming in with a knife a LITTLE less scary and traumatic than someone coming in with a gun - if you can move quickly you can more easily get out of the range of a knife, and if you can lock yourself in a room the knife-bearer usually can't get in, where I've heard of stories of people with guns trying to breach the door by shooting the lock or some such.