Saturday, June 24, 2017

More Elinor photos.

First of all, maybe I have to explain: why make a ponified Elinor Dashwood? She isn't even necessarily my favorite Austen character (though she is of the ones from Sense and Sensibility).

Well, it was one of those weird things my brain did....quite a while ago now I dreamed that I was traveling, and I had with me a crocheted pony I had made that was supposed to be Elinor Dashwood. Because I remember colors from my dreams (however dreams may work, however your brain deals with those random neuronal firings), I remembered her as being pale peach with a turquoise mane and tail. Yes, oddly specific, and not colors widely worn in the Regency era I suspect, but whatever.

Eventually, I bought yarn - Big Twist Premium, a rather tightly spun yet soft acrylic - in the colors for her. (And fortunately, as I blogged about last week, I bought two of the peach color - this is a thicker yarn so there's slightly less yardage per skein, and I needed just a bit more from the second skein for the fourth leg).

So I don't know. I decided a little while back I wanted to make her and I started, and then I crocheted faster and harder when I realized I was running short, just in case I'd have to make a run to the JoAnn's for more - not sure if I'd get the same dyelot because it was about a year ago I bought the yarn - and then I couldn't get down there because it was nasty hot and I didn't want to drive in it.

I finished her last night:

Elinor sitting

It took a long time to do the mane; it is a pretty complicated style (and is perhaps more Early Victorian than truly Regency, but it's cute, so I don't really care).

I had to think hard about her eye color. My first thought was green, but that didn't work. And I tried gray and lavender and even some "weird" colors sometimes seen on Ponies (like pink) but finally decided that brown was the only one that really worked.

Elinor face

I like it. I think it was a good choice.

And yes, I see know, her eyes are slightly wonky (the position of the eyeshine is off). In person it's not so egregious and it took a lot of work to get these eyes as right as they are, so I'm not going to change it.

Her "cutie mark" is a sheet of drawing paper being sketched on. I didn't try to make a representational sketch, just had a "line" drawn on it by the "pencil":

Elinor cutie mark

It's mentioned in the novel that Elinor draws as a hobby, and it's implied that she's a better artist than many young women who sketched merely to show off their graceful hands.

And no, I don't think at this point I have plans to make a Marianne pony (though you never know) but her mark would have to be either a piano or a music book, since she played.

(If I *did*, I think I'd get two other colors of the Big Twist. Part of it is that it's a fairly nice amigurumi yarn - I also made Keroberos out of it - but also so they'd match more in size)

One thing I have noticed that "worsted weight" acrylics differ a lot from brand to brand, and how big the ponies come out (and how fat) varies a little. Also how tight the stitches are - the Big Twist is a slightly fatter yarn so there are fewer gaps between the stitches and I think it looks better. So I did a line up of some of the ponies I've made. I *think* I remember what yarn I used for each one:

 pony lineup

Okay. Let's see:

Fluttershy was some kind of Bernat yarn, maybe Super Value. She came out a little smaller and thinner than some, but she was also the first one I made.

Spitfire was made of Vanna's Choice, which is another good amigurumi yarn because it's a little fatter. Her head is a little wider than some other ponies'.

Elinor is probably the fattest of the ponies; she is made of Big Twist but I think I also stuffed her more fully.

Folio is made of Heartland, a fairly basic worsted-weight acrylic, except it's slightly heathered.

Horsey McHorseface is of  Wool-ease Correction: Red Heart Soft.; again, he's a little smaller and skinnier than some of the ponies.

Colgate/Minuette is made of Red Heart (Super Saver, I think); she came out a little bigger and rounder.

I also like that that line up shows some of the facial differences. In some cases (like Fluttershy and Spitfire) I was trying to capture an expression like the pony would have on the show - the others (Horsey and Folio and Elinor) I didn't have to worry and could just kind of take my own way with the face. (I admit Minuette doesn't much look like herself on the show, but I made her back before "Amending Fences" when Minuette was just a barely-glimpsed background pony).

first the tmi

this is more for me than you. I don't tend to save calendars and I am bad at keeping a paper journal so:

I have to reset the time-to-menopause clock as of today. (Sigh. I really thought I was on the way to 'done')

I wonder if working out in the heat for an extended period of time Wednesday messed with things? I thought the aches and pains (and stomach issues, and vaguely-lower-back pain) were just either "I worked too hard" or "I ate something that my body didn't like." Nope.

(At least I still have supplies on hand)

eta: this probably also explained why the cupcakes at the natural foods store looked so good to me. (And the all-natural marshmallows. and the maple-cream-top yogurt....)

My cupcake. You can't have any.

Friday, June 23, 2017

and another pony

Better photos will come tomorrow when I have more energy and time, but I finally finished the Elinor Dashwood-themed pony.

The manestyle took a bit of figuring out: in the end I did long stitches to make the "flat" (pulled-back) part of the hair, and then braided a bun and attached it, and crocheted six corkscrew curls for the side curls. And I made rooted-in bangs, because I decided she needed bangs.

The manestyle might be a bit more early-Victorian than Regency, but oh well. I still like it:

She also has three thicker corkscrews for her tail. (I would have used that method had I decided to crochet my own Rarity rather than buying a pre-made one; I think that would have worked well. The corkscrews take a while to do but there is something pleasing about them.

I wound up using brown for her eyes. Green seemed not to work, gray didn't work, I didn't want blue, and even the "odd" colors (some ponies have lavender or even pinkish eyes) didn't work, but the brown seems okay.

It is hard to tell the true colors in webcam shots - she is a peach color with turquoise mane and tail - hopefully that will show better in the photos I take tomorrow.

that's a nope

Decided to postpone the Sherman trip after coming over here and watering my research plots. It's currently (not quite 10 am) 82 F (28 C) and a 73 F (23 C) dewpoint. The "feels like" temperature is 87 F but it sure feels hotter out.

It was oppressive. Oppressive is the best way to describe any dewpoint above about 65 F. It wasn't so bad while I was watering, but getting the hose out and putting it back was bad, because:

a. It's inside a locked fence with a heavy gate where you have to do a bit of manipulation to open and lock.

b. It's 200' of hose that has to be fed out through a gap in the fence (the gate, of course, is on the other side)

c. The hose has to be unrolled, and then rolled back up

d. And even if I weren't the sort of person who puts away stuff they are borrowing, I'd do it here, because my colleague whose hose it is warned me that stuff that's not inside the fence has a way of "walking away." (which is awful but that is kinda life here: there are places where there are just permanent "garage sales" and the assumption is that at least some of them is stuff that's been picked up via five-finger discount. That's what people told me when I had a $10 sprinkler stolen from my yard and I just thought it was silly that someone would steal a sprinkler - but I guess a free sprinkler you could sell for maybe $3 is $3 profit).

I said many unladylike words while rolling up the hose.

So I'm going to just go home, do my piano practice (changing clothes first; I now have a pair of "fieldwork pants" and a couple of "fieldwork t-shirts" I can just wear a few times to do this between washings). If I feel up to it later I'll do a workout but now I'm wondering how much of that half-hour or so of wrestling a hose in the heat I could count as exercise.

I never did finish the Elinor pony - she lacks one side curl and I need to do her face and cutie mark, so that's probably my activity for part of today.

Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler and it might even rain in the morning (please God because then I won't need to water) so I think I'll go shopping THEN. It's Pony Hiatus so I won't really miss anything by not watching, and if it DOES rain so I don't have to take the 45 minutes or whatever to water (and then change out of grubby clothes) I can leave all the earlier.

Maybe changing plans...

So, earlier this week, they were all "STARTING FRIDAY IT IS GOING TO BE LIKE 10 DEGREES COOLER" and I was all "Awesome, that means I'll go to Sherman Friday and shop."


So, ugh. If I were having to go to the doctor or something, I'd push on, but for something "nonessential," I don't want to risk it - if my car broke down (highly unlikely, especially given I've had it checked out and I keep up with maintenance on it) it would be miserable and it would also just be a pain to have to walk around outside (the places I am going are all separate stores or are that "modern strip-mall concept" so you have to either walk outside between the stores, or walk back out to your car and drive.

I don't know, though. The heat index is for North Texas only, I think it's been hotter here before this year (the local weather station is very Sherman-centric). But, it's supposed to be cooler tomorrow (but it's also likely to be raining.

I can't decide; I might wait until after I go over and do the watering and see how it feels - if I'm back home here from shopping by noon or shortly after I should miss the worst of the heat. But it's hard to know.

I have a coupon in my e-mail from Ulta; I suppose if it expires today that will decide it.

(The coupon is good through July 1)

But I don't know. I kind of wanted to go today - smaller crowds (it is not a payday Friday, Saturdays tend to be busy). Saturday is open because I guess - sigh - the Season 7 Pony Hiatus has begun for the US (even though Canada and Australia apparently continue to get new episodes? What?) Yeah, they are doing a "marathon" but two of the big parts of it are Equestria Girls things.

I don't know. I still kind of WANT to go today...

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday morning random

* First up, a couple photos of the experimental site, courtesy of my research student (she used her phone-camera):



(Yipes. Edited to give smaller size. sorry for the huge if you saw it earlier)

* I'm not as sore this morning as I feared I might be. I'm *slightly* sore, but no worse than after a day of unusually hard yardwork. I do have a fair number of hives, though.

* I started the mane/hair on the new Pony last night. The tail is done, but wow, I forgot how long each corkscrew curl takes to make... I still have one or two small ones to do for each side of the "mane-do" and then I have to decide whether I go with my original plan of "rooting" and then styling the mane (like I have done on most of the others of this I've made) or the possibility of stitching down long lengths of yarn to make a very flat manestyle, and then making a separate bun (and maybe a separate braid for across the top; some Regency hair was sort of elaborate in an understated way) and attaching those over the stitched-down hair. That idea pleases me because it feels like it should be faster than the "root then style" and also may be less likely to get messy over time.

I also now have to consider eye color. I don't think I want to do blue, given that the mane and tail are a turquoise color. Green was my first thought but I might see if I have some light brown felt (or some in almost a hazel color) and try those. (I don't think violet would work).

* I'm looking forward to getting out tomorrow to do some shopping - it's been a little while. For one thing, there are a few things I need from the Ulta and the like. (I doubt they will ever get these. I wish they would: what a fun idea, a bath fizzy with a toy inside of it. Probably intended for kids who won't take baths( but honestly I think there are a lot of kid-aimed things that old tired adults need, too.)

(*I wonder how common that is, or if it is still common any more. I don't remember ever having to be nagged to take a bath (or shower, once I was older), but then again: I'm a girl, and also, I was also the kind of kid who never needed to be nagged about bedtime)

I also need to go to the natural-foods store for some stuff. One problem I have in the summer is I kind of burn out on knowing what to fix as food, so I wind up eating a lot of quick-fix stuff, or weird combinations, or things that are suboptimal nutritionally.

* I finished "The Z Murders" the other night. Once again, I say: J. Jefferson Farjeon is an unfairly neglected Golden Era mystery writer. This book wound up being more suspenseful/more a thriller and less of a true mystery (about 2/3 of the way through we know "whodunnit" but the real question is, "are the Good Guy and the Damsel in Distress going to survive this?" and "Will the police track the bad guy down in time?"

Also, it's kind of creepy and uncanny, given how the murderer is described. And the person who wrote the introduction (for the British Library Crime Classics edition I read) noted how "serial killers" aren't strictly a modern phenomenon - he also referenced Christie's "ABC Murders" as an example of this. (Interestingly, the "ABC" - a railway time table in alphabetical order - plays a minor role in advancing the plot in this novel as well). But it's still creepy and I suspect we - I mean, those of us who are more or less psychologically normal - tend to be a bit interested in reading about people like this (though I'd rather read about fictional serial killers than actual ones) because we literally cannot understand the motivation behind them. There's sort of an "as the twig is bent" thing going on: maybe you were bullied as a child. Or maybe one of your parents told you you were a "mistake." Or maybe your first love spectacularly humiliated and abandoned you. Or maybe you failed terribly at your first job. But 99% of the human population kind of grows a shell over that hurt and moves on....and then there are a very few people who, probably because of some existing predisposition, maybe even a genetic one, cannot get past that, and decide that others must pay for the way they were treated. Or they decide those people are obstacles to something they want, and so rather than recalibrating "what I want," they decide to remove the "obstacles" ("Kind Hearts and Coronets" plays on this idea).

I think this is also why I was so horrified by, and yet found myself reading stories about, the Amy Bishop case. (Biology professor who shot and killed several colleagues after she was denied tenure). For one reason: among "serial killers" (though in her case she's not quite that), she's in some ways closest to me - woman, biologist, professor. But yet, so very different - had I been denied tenure here? Unless there was a clear reason for an appeal (which I would then have attempted), my answer would have been to "go home and cry a lot, and then try to find a new job somewhere else."

(I was also a bullied kid in school, which is why I find the "bullied kid" explanation for school shooters unsatisfying and difficult. Because that seems to imply, "Let's round up all the loners and geeks and do something with them before they turn bad" and it's not that.....there's something already going on in the person, and maybe it's that thing that leads to them being bullied, but there's something there that maybe makes compassion difficult? I don't know).

I will say in this novel it seems to imply an event in the murderer's life - a pretty big and horrific one - was the trigger factor that led him to start doing it. But again, I'm not sure I buy the concept of someone "being driven to murder" if they don't already have something in their personal make-up that would allow that.

* I decided to (temporarily, at least) abandon "Tom Jones" (it is very slow to get started, and something about Fielding's tone is currently annoying to me) and decided instead to go back and re-start "Moby-Dick." I got up to about page 700 (I can't remember how many pages the edition I have is, I think it's the Everyman's Library paperback one? Anyway, it reproduces some of the Rockwell Kent engravings from an earlier edition...) and then for some reason put it aside.

There is a webstie called Genius that gives even more detailed annotations than the edition I have, and I've been using that a bit to follow along and catch things I don't catch. (Though I will note, some of the Genius annotations link to pop-cultural things I don't get either - I mean, modern stuff - and some are things that just make me roll my eyes in a "Yeah, I'm 12 years old inside and I still don't find that that funny" way. And I do suppose it's one of those Sparknotes/Cliff's Notes thing perhaps for people who don't want to actually READ the book, but I don't think it matters once you're an adult and are reading on your own. (And anyway: I read the chapters first and then go back and look at the annotations.)

I still maintain that in a modern "reboot" of this story, Ishmael would be a disaffected hipster - maybe a former Barista instead of a former schoolteacher. Not sure what dangerous job he'd sign on for - a little while back I opined "oil exploration" but the oil bust has taken the wind out of that a little bit.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

and that's done (II)

Today was summer research setup day: my student and I did outdoor plantings of the different prairie species, half of the blocks as controls, half with cedar litter on top of them, to see if red cedar has an effect in field conditions (and with a thicker litter layer than what I could manage in lab). We have an area a short distance from the biology building we can use.

We planned to start at 7:15 and I said to myself, "We'll probably be done by 11."

That was a mistake.

For one thing: we didn't account for how heavily the grass would regrow on the prepared plots. She had mowed and tilled back in May, while I was gone, but everything came roaring back. So first we had to re-prepare the plots.

First up, mowing.

She had brought her little reel-type mower - like mine, but wimpier, and in worse need of sharpening. That didn't seem to work very well so she called over to the physical plant - she works there, so she has an "in" - and asked to borrow a gas mower. So while she went to get that, I fought with the mower and the manual "tiller" (a four-pronged tool you jab in the ground and turn to tear up the surface vegetation. I may have to get one for my own garden).

Then, she tilled while I mowed. And we realized: the manual tiller, while it works well for small spaces, makes a person very sore very fast to do a large area. (This is eight blocks, four meters by two meters).

So she arranged to borrow a generator - because she had brought her little electric tiller, but of course that space is nowhere near a plug. So while she was getting the generator, I ran home and got my big extension cord, because borrowing an extension cord would mind going to YET ANOTHER group on campus.

Then, I kept working the manual tiller (I don't like being idle) and she followed in my wake with the electric one.

Finally, we were able to plant....we divided off the area, I marked out the rows for the different species (taking care to sort-of randomize them so position on the block shouldn't be a confounding factor).

It was at least 11 by when we started this.

And it was HOT. I mean, it wasn't as hot as it's been, but the dewpoint was in the mid-60s and it was in the low 80s and sunny.

The "bright golden haze on the meadow" Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote about isn't nearly so wonderful when you're working out in it (that "haze" is water rising in to the atmosphere off of the ground).

I started to feel kind of crummy. I kept pushing because I just wanted to get done, but I can tell my heat tolerance is about gone. I'm not sure if that's "the change" or if it's taking a beta blocker or what, but I kept feeling like I was going to bonk out (it probably didn't help that all I had for breakfast was a bowl of oatmeal and a small glass of milk)

We did have to keep running up to the building for stuff - more water, to water the seeds in, more of the bagged-up cedar litter, etc. At least it gave me a chance to cool off a little.

I admit, the last 20 minutes or so was her laying out the rest of the litter and watering while I sat in the shade. I think part of it was I was bordering on something like either hypoglycemia* or perhaps hyponatremia (I avoid sodium in my diet but I was perspiring heavily and I know you lose salt in sweat)

(*My blood sugar readings have always been normal when medically tested, but I suspect having gone too long without eating and working hard out in the heat could have done something)

We did find out there's a tap we can use on a metal building (we have a couple of storage buildings - Butler buildings - that are used for various things; this one is mostly used for storing the small boats for the ichthyology classes and the like). And there are hoses. So for future watering we won't have to drag the big (3 gallon?) carboys back and forth from the building. (I can BARELY carry both of them full, and especially not on a hot humid day).

I'm glad it's done but I'm FRIED. I came home and showered and ate (a fatty salty fast-food sandwich and a shake, but I figured (a) I needed something quick and requiring minimal thought and (b) that is a bit higher in sodium just in case I had depleted my levels - I know someone on a diuretic who got hyponatremic and wound up in the hospital). I feel a bit better but I don't feel great - I do feel like I spent six hours working hard out in the sun. I do think I managed to avoid getting sunburned: I wore spf 55 and also had a big hat and a long-sleeved cotton shirt over my t-shirt (which may have contributed to my overheating, but probably in the long run avoiding sunburn was better)

I'm hoping I perk back up enough a bit later to try to do the manestyle on the new Pony (all the crocheting is done and she's assembled, but I think to get the Regency look, I will need to crochet a bunch of those "inchworm" curls (those of you who were girls in the 1970s might remember the inchworm bookmarks with these) for the tail, and also as sort of "sidelocks" to the manestyle. (I think the rest, I may just use long hair and tie it into a bun for her).

I've also decided I'm taking most of Friday off (I do have to go in and water the plants; the campus is closed Fridays so my student wouldn't have access to things) and going to Sherman for some shopping.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

and that's done

Dental checkup. I hate those far more than I should. Part of it is bad memories from childhood of having bad teeth (apparently: not entirely my fault, though I didn't have the best dental hygiene; my niece also has some serious tooth issues and the dentist said that her weak enamel was v. likely hereditary. And her problems, though a good bit worse than mine, were similar). Part of it just my own personal sensory/brain-wiring issues: I don't like comparative strangers being all up in my face, and I don't like metal things in my mouth, and I don't like strange sounds in my mouth, and I have very sensitive hearing and also sinuses that transfer every weird mouth-sound to my ears, so my jaw clicking a little sounds like me breaking a tooth some times.

Also, doesn't help that a few years ago, I literally DID break a tooth, to the point where (sorry, dental phobes) I could feel the "flap" that was broken and just barely attached. (Shudder).

Also, last time, the hygienist was someone who wanted to BECOME a dentist, and so had a little bit of that insecurity-complex thing going on, and also liked using her position to lecture at me ("Why are your gums so sensitive?" she asked, while jamming floss into them, right after I told her my allergies had been bad and I was getting over a cold. Also I guess my gums bled a little which led her to tell me I wasn't flossing "hard" enough and I needed to toughen up my gums (???))

So that was part of the reason I was apprehensive. Because it's bad enough lying helpless in a chair with pointy metal things in your mouth without someone telling you "I don't understand why you are unhappy. This isn't hurting you."

Fortunately, I got someone different this time, someone who was quite cheerful and once I admitted I had a strong gag reflex (it's true) was extra careful with the bitewings and also was careful while doing the work on me. And she didn't Sonicate me, instead, she used a manual pick, which I actually prefer, because the sound of the Sonicator is like the Devil's "REEEEEEEEEE!"

She also kept telling me periodically I was doing "great" and kept me posted on how much longer a process was going to take.

The other piece of good news: my teeth are sound (and I have x-rays this appointment to prove it) and need no further work. Barring emergencies, I don't need to go back until December.

I did have one odd stray thought during the whole thing: I wonder where teeth fall on Moh's scale of hardness. (This is a geology thing for determining properties of rocks and minerals).

Turns out, it's known: tooth enamel is similar enough to apatite, which has a hardness of five.

Of course, the problems with that are (a) enamel is a pretty thin layer and can be subject to wear and acid attack that weaken it, (b) that doesn't consider the structural soundness of the shape of the tooth (I know lots of people who have managed to shear off a bit of a molar on something) and (c) if you've had any work done, that's gonna weaken the whole tooth (which is why I had that tooth break several years ago: it was a large, old filling, and it had probably gotten weak, and I hit just the wrong spot on it with an over-roasted dry roasted peanut)

Also, scratch-resistance doesn't mean something isn't brittle, and I think that's the real problem with tooth damage, more than scratching them.

That said, our enamel apparently has the same hardnessas glass and knife blades, meaning neither should scratch your teeth. (But a steel file will - ouch)


ETA: I made it through the appointment (mentally, I mean) using three things: thinking about getting in bed tonight and NOT having any checkups hanging over my head (I've had three in the past month). And I took one of my spare blindbag figurines of Fluttershy in my pocket, and also I looked out the window at the sky and clouds. One small bit of good design the dentists thought of when having this office built - all of the examination chairs, and most of the "operatory" chairs (the ones where they do fillings and crown preps and the like) look out big windows. The regular exam chairs are the best because they look out the back of the building, and there's nothing there but trees and sky (the front of the building fronts on the access road for 75). There ARE a few operatories (where they do bigger things, I assume) that are just a chair in a private room with no windows - I was in one of those for the emergency treatment of my broken tooth, but I think that was because all the other chairs were booked (I was fit in on v. short notice), the other crowns I've had done have been in the normal chairs. That room may have been for the sedation dentistry part of the practice, I don't know.

And people do ask me: why not do sedation if you hate it so much, or at least take a Xanax or something before going in? Well, for one thing - I am more afraid of being "out of it" and not being able to manage if, for example, I suddenly have a lot of post-nasal drip choking me. And I react strangely to some medications, and never having taken Xanax, it might be a bit of a gamble to see how I react. (Benadryl, for example, makes me hyperalert and anxious instead of sleepy).

But the other thing is, the logistics would be such a pain: I'd have to find someone with the time to drive me out there, and then wait, and then drive me home. Most of my friends either work and aren't free when I would make the appointment, or they are caring for elderly/disabled parents or spouses, or have small children at home. So I find it just easier to white-knuckle it through the appointment - and really, it's less stressful in the long run, because I'm worst right before the appointment and a little bit during, and figuring out the logistics would be days of stress for me.

Monday, June 19, 2017

So I dunno

I tend to see symbolism in things where it doesn't actually exist, but that's kind of my way of relating to the world.

Today is trash pick-up day in my neighborhood. I had my cart out - they usually come through before I come in to the office these days. I did my workout and got dressed and was getting ready to come over here, and I decided to drag my cart back up to the back of the house.

And I noticed some stray trash. A run-over Dr. Pepper can at the base of my drive. (Some people apparently don't use trash bags, and if there's a wind at all when they're dumping the cart, stuff gets blown out of it). I picked it up and dropped it in the empty can. (I know, I know, recycling, but I don't use aluminum cans and it would mean hanging on to a filthy can until I had time to drop it off somewhere).

And then I noticed a take-out food box in my neighbor's yard. And I sighed.

And at first, I thought, "It's not in my yard. It's their responsibility. Getting it would mean walking up there and getting my feet wet" (It rained here last night, and I am wearing sandals - barefoot*)

(*I'm wearing a skirt because it's hot but elected for no hose today because it's hot. I normally wear them even when it's warm because I get hives super easily and that tiny barrier of fabric seems to prevent some contact between allergens and my legs. But I also wear them because of something that is kind of this big secret a lot of women experience, and because "fat" is seen as "unattractive" and probably "you deserve any unpleasantness you experience" you don't hear a lot about it but - it's sometimes known by the not-lovely term, "chub-rub." Where your thighs come into contact when you walk and the skin gets irritated. And if you're prone to hives like I am, it's just that much worse. I do have a substance - it's sold to runners to prevent chafing - called "Body Glide" that goes on like antiperspirant and supposedly prevents the issue, but it's not 100%).

Anyway. I looked at it. And then I thought about my neighbors' weird schedules (I rarely see them during the day; they seem to leave for work v. early in the morning or v. late in the evening) and thought, "It could be days before that gets picked up."

So I picked it up. It was kind of gross, because I didn't realize (it was flipped over) there was a piece of wax paper in it smeared with what was probably hot sauce. But I picked it up and dropped it in the trash. And yeah, my feet got wet and I probably got pollen on my feet and I will probably pay for it with itchiness later.

And I don't know. It did seem symbolic to me, in a way: doing a tiny thing that fixed a problem that maybe someone else would eventually fix but maybe not, that led to me putting myself out a little bit, and no one will notice, and anyway, there's far worse litter elsewhere in town.

It does feel like whatever good I can's like one drop of rosewater in a sea of the smell of rotting cabbages. I do it, because it's how I was raised, but increasingly, I feel like it's utterly useless.

Also, I don't know. I never know what is my responsibility and what is not. If I hate litter and want my neighborhood to look nice, is it my responsibility to pick up trash from my neighbor's lawns? I mean, if I knew I had that cranky person neighbor who yelled at me for going on their lawn I wouldn't - but if my neighbors were even home, they were probably asleep, given their late work schedules, so.

And I do think this is one of my problems: I make things my responsibility that probably shouldn't be. The downsides to that are that I feel taken for granted a lot because I am not the sort of person to do stuff, like, say, cleaning something up at church and then go around and telling everyone I'm the one who did it because it annoys me when people do that, where they do some little thing and then can't let anyone else forget that they did. And the other downside is if I DON'T do it at some point, it sometimes winds up un-done, and then people gripe about "it didn't get done" and I feel vaguely guilty, even if it was that circumstances prevented me.

(One of the men in my Sunday school class talks about how a problem in our society is "Let 'George' do it" with the side observation that I often seem to be 'George.' He's probably right, but I'm the kind of person who can't see something that needs to be fixed or put away or cleaned up or whatever where I could do it, and NOT do it, because of how I was raised). 

It's cooler today but still humid. I got within 9 minutes of being done with my 45 minute workout, and my body was just like "nope." I stopped for a bit and rested and then did the rest but it makes me sad because not very many years ago I was able to do an hour much of the time without too much difficulty. It does seem since I went on the beta blocker my stamina has dropped, but I don't know if that's it or if it's just age.

On world events

The only thing I have to say is: An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

I hope we're not headed for a violent dystopia but some days I wonder. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Winning "yarn chicken"

Yarn Chicken is what knitters/crocheters call it when they are close to running out of yarn for a project.

I was worried about this with the Elinor Dashwood pony. So much so that I had half-planned on going to Sherman this weekend (except then it was too hot) to see if I could find another skein of the yarn (and hope it was the same dyelot).

Got the head, ears, body done. Got the first three legs done.

Realized I had only a small amount of yarn - probably not enough - left. Grumbled to myself about "why didn't you buy a second skein? You ALWAYS overbuy for amigurumi and wind up with acrylic yarn left over, so much so that some day you'll have to do a scrap afghan."

Decided half-heartedly to check the bag where I had stored the yarn again just in case, but figured I would have to stop work until I could get to Sherman (and hope they still had that color in stock).


Yup, there was a second skein buried down there in the bag. So I have the same dyelot, no need for a trip out, no need to hope I can find more of the yarn.

It's not winning the way I hoped to win, but it's still winning.


I'd do the Success Kid pose, but I need a hand to hit the "shutter" button on the webcam, and I can't quite make my face do that expression.

So I might finish her legs tonight. Still not sure what to do for the manestyle - I might look up Regency style hairstyles but I'm thinking some kind of a bun,  maybe with even little crocheted "sidelock" curls. And I'm not sure how best to render a sketchbook cutie mark. But even if it doesn't look perfect, it's not like I'm trying to replicate an in-show pony, so it doesn't really matter.

Happy Father's Day

(And yes, I am going to call my own father after church).

I never fully understood my dad's job when I was a kid - oh, I understood what teaching college classes was like, and I saw a little bit of the research he did (for one thing: he had a light table at home and did some of his mapwork on it - that was sort of a proto-version of GIS, I now realize: you get several different maps at the same scale and layer them together and look for what you need, like the overlap of certain soil associations and the locations of wells where you want to collect water). But I didn't fully understand what working with grad students was like, or the administrative stuff my dad did - for a number of years when I was young he was Coordinator of Research at his university.

As an adult, I realize what kind of people-wrangling some of that stuff required. Being coordinator of research means working with people disappointed they didn't get a grant, or who kept sloppy records and had cost over-runs, or pushing people to wind up projects because the granting agency requires a report soon.

And grad students - I have worked with a few, including two "unsuccessful" ones (one never wrote up her research, despite my "reminders" and timed out of the program; the other had lots of ideas but couldn't quite build the foundation under them, and also had life-circumstances (a high-risk pregnancy means you don't collect soil samples from a Superfund site) that prevented her from going ahead). And sometimes you have to ride people to get them to work. (My advisor had to poke me a few times to get me to write or rewrite, and I think I was more diligent than many).

I remember once my dad talking about a grad student who had shown promise, but sort-of-abruptly became "flakey" about coming in to lab or working. "I wonder what her name is," my dad speculated, assuming (perhaps correctly) that this fellow had a new girlfriend. And yeah. You don't just wind up working with students: you wind up sometimes working with students' families, significant others, friends. (Sometimes that's good: some of my students have brought in their tween/teen children to "show them how research works" and it's been positive, but in other cases, it's been a case of family-drama-leading-to-extensions-and-complications)

I wonder how my dad felt about all the people-wrangling. I know I hate it and consider it the most taxing part of my job.

In fact, I don't really KNOW that much about how my dad felt about his work: he and my mom, true to their "Silent Generation" designation, tend to be fairly stoic about such things. It was only a couple of years ago that I learned that maybe my mom was slightly unpopular in school (because her family had less money) and faced some of the same unpleasantnesses I did (Oh, we had more money than her family had, but we were also living in a wealthier milieu, so I was still "poor" in the eyes of the girls with multiple pairs of designer jeans and add-a-bead necklaces)

Anyway. I can assume my dad liked his work OK because he took early retirement from one position (in Ohio) and then applied for other positions (one quirk of the system when he was in it: he could not be employed in another Ohio state position, either teaching or agency. So they wound up moving). He was then hired for another position, they moved, and he worked for close to 20 more years there, retiring a second time in his 70s. He was brought in, on that position, to be a department chair (many departments - mine does this - try to promote-from-within, on the grounds that in a harmonious department, someone who's worked there will better know the department and its needs, but sometimes when there are factions, you have to bring in an outsider.) And there were factions in his new department he had to try to reconcile. (Again, I heard a little complaining about behaviors/attitudes of some colleagues, but never any sort of "Ugh, my job is awful" like I might say)

I suppose he figured the good parts outweighed the bad, as I feel on good days. (I vacillate on retirement plans. On good days I think "I can't imagine not going to work every morning and I'd miss the students, so if my health holds up I might keep doing this until 72 or so" but on bad days - or on days when it looks like our funding's going to be cut again - or on those "robots are gonna take our jerbs" days - I say to myself, "60 and out"  - I can retire with full benefits at 60, because of age+years of experience = 90. We are under the "rule of 90," or at least we were when I came in.)

I don't know. Maybe there was a seismic shift in attitudes between his generation and mine - it does seem Silent Generation folks were more prone to just stay closed-mouths about work - that what mattered was family and maybe what you did on your time off, and if work wasn't great, well, work was what adults DID, and it didn't matter as much if you were happy or not, as long as you were useful and were supporting your family.

He did do things on his time off. He didn't golf, like some dads. Or sail, like one of my uncles did for a while. He built stuff - in the house in Ohio we had lots of big shelves in the basement, half to hold rarely-used kitchen appliances and spare canned goods, the other half to hold my mom's fabric collection. And there were big shelves in the garage to hold car stuff and also general "junk" - especially after he and his brothers had to break up their parents' household. He and some friends built an excellent "fort" (with a sandbox on the ground floor, and two other "floors," both of which were open to the sky). For a while, he did most of the minor car repairs and changed the oil. (He put a manual choke in a balky van he used for fieldwork)

He DID work a lot - brought grading home, or worked on research, all of that. In fact, I think I inherited some of that. I know one rare complaint my mom made was that she thought he worked too much and too hard. And I see that in myself: I see my work-life (and also, I guess, the stuff I do at church) as "What matters" and everything I WANT to do as "it doesn't matter so you only get to do it when you have time" and that's probably not good for me. (And also perhaps is why I "can't imagine a time when I DON'T go to work")

He also has a temper, which I inherited, but I've managed to put a chokehold on that and mostly control it. I do sigh a lot and rub the bridge of my nose when someone is being particularly difficult.

And sometimes, I hear his voice - not so much timbre and tone, but the way of saying something - coming out of my mouth. (One of his grad students - a woman with kids coming back to finish a degree, and whose family wound up becoming family friends - used to chide him about using his "professor voice" on people, and I hear myself doing that sometimes)

A couple of other things about him I seem to have inherited:

1. A tendency to do messy jobs in inappropriate clothing - my mom used to get after him for doing fix-it jobs while still in a dress shirt and tie after teaching. (She says "His dad used to change the oil in his car while wearing a white dress shirt, so...."). I find myself sometimes doing gardening in my work clothes, and I have to remind myself to change clothes before doing heavy cleaning.

2. Frugality in some things. He always gave fairly nice gifts but then wore the same shoes until they were falling apart. I am like that in some ways. (And again, it was said of my grandfather: "Cy will wear the same old beat-up winter coat, and spend all his money on books"). Also a certain degree of paralysis before "big" purchases, because of the imagined need to get the best value-for-money and trying to figure out which brand will be most reliable. (He has has a subscription to "Consumers Reports" for as long as I can remember - so, at least 40 years)

3. A certain degree of stubbornness. Though I don't think that's all bad. It keeps you going even when things are difficult.

And, one thing I did - I got my dad hooked on "The Simpsons," especially the earlier seasons (which I find funnier and often more heartfelt). And here's a Homer Simpson image that I think shows one of the (rare?) good-dad sides of Homer, where he took Mr. Burns' mocking "Don't forget: you're here forever" sign and turned it into something else:

Friday, June 16, 2017

It was corrosion

Well, that's the Teal Deer right there. Turns out the reason the tech didn't check the amps on the battery earlier was that the terminals were corroded. So he just indicated it as being in the red zone without any other information.

I waited about an hour (they were still busy) but the mechanic (a woman - they have a woman mechanic there now) came in and told me that it was just corrosion, they cleaned the terminals, and when they did, the battery tested fine. And they installed some anti-corrosion pads.

The entire bill was about $30, which was way better than the $150 or so for a new battery I was expecting.

Still, it's too late and I'm too tired to go to Sherman this afternoon (and anyway, the ribs will be done soon). Maybe tomorrow, but most likely not - it really is beastly hot out there and I wouldn't want to leave until after New Pony (and also I have communion prep tomorrow, and a Sunday school lesson to write). And who knows: maybe this is an "omen" that the peach colored yarn I have will be sufficient to crochet the whole pony.

ETA: communion prep is off my schedule, the lovely new person I am partnered with called me and said, "You've done it the first two Sundays this month so let me get it this week and next week." Don't have to ask me twice.

Still, I think this is going to be an at-home weekend, given all the heat warnings they are doing, and also I just need a day at home. If I run short on yarn I can put the Pony aside until I can either get to JoAnn's or mail order yarn (it's an acrylic, but it does have dye lots, so it might not match PERFECTLY, but whatever.)

Comedy of errors

So, I had my meeting with the student. It was short, but fairly productive - Monday we should have a manuscript to send in (she is doing a bit more writing on it this afternoon). And Wednesday we will (finally) set up the summer experiment.

And then. I decided I wanted to go to Sherman, but first, I thought, I better talk to the mechanic about my car's battery - it's supposed to be a heat index of 103 today and while being "stranded" in Sherman wouldn't be as deadly as being "stranded" in the field on that hot of a day (because I could go into an air conditioned store while waiting for help), I figured I'd rather avoid it by either getting a new battery, or if the guy reassured me it was OK, I could just go.

But it was busy out there. (Yeah, bad on me for trying to get my car looked at before a summer weekend). The head mechanic was all "Why didn't they write down the cold-cranking amps? They're supposed to write down the cold-cranking amps!" and said he'd get someone to check.

It was about 11 am at that point and I was starting to get hungry. I had planned on running down to Sherman and maybe going to the barbecue place.

Anyway. The underling came back - "The battery terminals are all corroded, I'll have to clean it before I can check."

I groaned, and said I really needed to grab lunch (I don't get hungry often these days, but when I do, it comes on fast and it can get BAD if I don't eat something nutritious) and I didn't fancy the thought of sitting for an hour while they processed the cars in before me.

Also, I had noticed my watch had stopped - the battery had been running down. And because one of the little ways in which I am compulsive is that having a stopped watch bugs me - and bugs me, like, a LOT - I wanted to go and attend to that. So I said I'd come back later.

I ran to the Walgreen's, because it was close. But I couldn't read the battery size on the back of the watch. And none of the tools I had in the car worked to open it. I asked the woman at the checkstand if I could borrow a small screwdriver

(At this point, I was bordering on "hangry," with a side of "it's way, way too hot out" with a side of worry about what the stuff is going to cost in re: my car)

"We don't have one. And we don't sell watch batteries."

"I'm pretty sure I bought the last one here" I said, while looking at the wall of small button-type batteries arranged RIGHT BEHIND WHERE SHE WAS STANDING.

The young guy in the photo department waved me over and said, "Let me try to open it." He was very nice about it, worked for maybe 10 minutes, finally said, "I'm just scratching the heck out of the back, I'm sorry, I don't want to try any more"

I thanked him for his efforts. (Even though I could feel the vague "urge to kill, rising, rising" in me, I was still polite to people. Because it's not their fault it's 103 degrees out and I haven't had lunch and my car is on the fritz)

I thought I'd go home and try myself. (The dude suggested I go to wal-mart, and I was like "I really don't want to go to wal-mart" and he laughed and said "I hear you")

On a whim, I turned down main street and went to one of the FEW businesses still open there - a jeweler's. I asked the young woman behind the counter if she could help. She looked at the watch (which probably cost about 10% - maybe even 1% - of the watches they sold) and kind of shot me a despairing glance. "I'll TRY" she said, and disappeared into the back room.

And I stood there, very still, trying hard not to look like riff raff with my $25 Eeyore watch and the fact that I was wearing no jewelry other than my old, old high school class ring* and my Medic-alert bracelet**

(*I got into the habit back in high school and don't feel right now without it, even as I think I maybe should replace it with something less outdated for me)

(**warning of my sulfa allergy)

She was gone a little while but then came back out - "I fixed it!" I was elated, because I'm attached to this watch. She did say it was hard to get the back off (no fake).

Upside: it was only $10.

So now I'm home. I'm eating up the last of the five-cup salad I made for Monday's CWF salad supper and I've made some smoked-salmon-on-rye open-faced sandwiches. Not QUITE Cackle and Oink's barbecue, but at least it's reasonably nutritious.

(The smoked salmon I get comes in little foil packets from the natural-foods store. It's lower in sodium than most but has the unfortunate appearance - and smell, when you first open it - that reminds you a bit of cat food. But low-sodium beggars can't be choosers).

So, the trip to Sherman is scrubbed for today - I have to go back out to the monkey-fighting mechanic's after I eat and find out how bad things are. I'm less upset with this than I was a few minutes ago - driving home I was thinking about how I had PLANNED to pick up a spare skein of the salmon-colored yarn for that pony I'm working on. And then I thought, "Well, between this and the near-miss accident this morning*, this is an omen you shouldn't go. You could either, if you run out of yarn, just ABANDON the project, or you could make striped legs, which would look super stupid and would annoy you forever and you wouldn't love the finished project then because it would always remind you of this bad day" but now I'm more like, "Eh, maybe I can get the yarn next week, if I even need it." (It's possible I will still have enough, and that would be a win.)

(*Someone pulled right out in front of me, from a gas station, as I was driving in this morning. They would have side-swiped my front passenger side had I not hit the brakes (no one was behind me, fortunately) and laid on the horn. I don't know WHAT was up with the person - fairly late-model luxo-boat car, windows so deeply tinted I couldn't see the driver, and they were going about 15 in a zone posted for 30. I don't know if it was someone just at the very limit of "shouldn't be driving any more," someone who was drunk or stoned (at 8:30 am?), someone on a cell phone, or what. But I wasn't happy).

One other consolation: since I can't have barbecue for lunch, I decided to put the pork I bought yesterday in the crockpot to see how it cooks up. I am hoping that Pruett's meat is as good as people are telling me.

I might also just get an ice cream cone or a small milkshake from the Braum's that's next door to the car place. I don't know.

being an adult

I know the other day I talked about some of the good things of childhood and how it's nice to be able to, for example, buy a doll as an adult without endless weeks of saving my tiny allowance (and doing extra chores) AND THEN having to wait until one of my parents can take me to a store where that doll MIGHT be sold. (And once or twice as a kid: the disappointment of something being sold out when I had finally saved up the money for it).

But really, liking cartoons and My Little Ponies and stuffies and dolls is about the extent of how I am a "child."

I've talked before about how people praise me for being diligent, and how that's kind of a frustrating thing to be known for, because it's not *fun*.

But this is something I experienced in recent weeks, in re: a group I am part of that does volunteer-type work. We were having our annual planning meeting and were trying to allocate duties. Because it's June, I guess, and because lots of people are on vacation, I guess, relatively few of us were there. And so we had to try to suss out, "Would so-and-so be willing/able to do this task?"

And at one point, one member of the group noted, "Don't assign that duty to Francie*, she won't do it, and it will just fall on one of the rest of us."

(*Not the person's actual name)

And.....I don't get that. I really don't get that. If you're part of a group that does volunteer work, and you're asked to do something, and you don't have a good, clear excuse (like: your spouse is now in long-term care and you need to assist them. Or, like: you are in the middle of a high-risk pregnancy. Or like: you have a chronic illness like MS that means you have good days and bad days and you can't predict what days will be good or bad), you DO THE THING YOU ARE ASKED TO DO. It is called "pulling your weight."

And that's what makes me so irritated about some groups I am a part of: there are the people who do the majority of the work, and then there are free-riders. And no one ever says anything much to the free-riders, EVEN AS THEY ARE HASSLING THE WORKERS TO DO MORE. (And yes, I've been in the position, of people telling me, "Well, you could take on that task" and I am like "but I am already doing five or six things and also don't forget that I work full-time and I am single so I have to do all my own marketing and laundry and everything"

I try to be sympathetic, because I know, "be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle" but sometimes I want to say to some of these groups, "Maybe, maybe if it's the same five people who have to do everything, and we have lots of people just riding on what they do, maybe we need to disband and if people express shock or horror over that, then they need to step up and carry some of the load." Or those people need to quit the group. Or something.

I don't know. But I'm too hot, I'm sort of tired, I'm achy this morning (our weather is - I can only describe it as BEASTLY. They're running constant news stories on local news about not leaving kids or dogs in cars and about how you should just risk misdemeanor charges, being sued and possibly beat up by the car owner, and break out a window in a car if you see a kid or an animal in there, and they're giving the warning signs of heat exhaustion).

And I have changed my plans; my research student can meet today so I decided to go in to work at least this morning. I MIGHT go over to the dealership this afternoon and see about getting a new battery in my car - they warned me the old one was starting to go bad at the last maintenance check-up, and I can tell it's been harder to crank it these past few days, and in this heat, I do NOT want to get stranded somewhere with a car that won't start.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

the "new" store

So, after burning my brain out on legalese/details of various Acts involving environmental protection, I decided to knock off early and check out the "new" Pruett's Foods.

Pruett's is, apparently, a small independent-grocery chain (they describe themselves as being affiliated with Associated Wholesale Grocers, which I guess allows them to negotiate on price for things). The women at church praised their produce and meat departments - two that are important to me - so I am hopeful and decided to check out the store.

Well, they haven't renovated, though they have lots of signs noting that a remodeling is coming this fall - they have just now hung a banner saying "Pruett's Foods" over the old Nichol's Dollar Saver sign. And they have mylar balloons at each checkstand saying "Welcome to Pruett's" but pretty much everything else looks like the old Dollar Saver (that used to be a Winn-Dixie).


The store was noticeably cleaner when I was in this time - it looked like they had stripped and rewaxed the tile floors, for example. And yes, how clean a grocery store is MATTERS to me and I don't want to shop at one that looks dirty or dingy because it makes me wonder how they take care of the fresh food.

Otherwise, the layout was the same as it used to be (though that might change). There did seem to be a lot of restocking going on, which may mean more new things coming.

The produce section was bigger and nicer. It's bigger than the Green Spray's and I suspect it's nicer (though not bigger) than the Wal-Mart's. One new thing: they have little bottles of different "varietal" (like Granny Smith and Honeycrisp) apple juice. And yeah, I know, apple juice is loaded with sugar and all that, but once in a while I like a GOOD apple juice as a treat. (And it's probably better for you than soda, and if you don't drink it more than a couple times a month, I can't imagine it being v. harmful).

The young woman who checked me out said "OH, that's SO good!" and said that the Honeycrisp one (the one I was getting) was the best. So I'm hopeful.

I also bought a package of country style ribs to do in the crockpot this weekend - they already have their own branded meat out, and as I said, one of the things people said they did well was meat.

They don't have EVERYTHING I buy - there was no organic milk (other than that filtered Fairlife stuff, and I'm not entirely sure I want to pay the premium for that, though if I have to start strictly watching sugars I might, because it's lower in sugar than regular milk). But again, that might change with the remodel.

They do have one thing I couldn't otherwise get locally - they had listed in their online circular "Alexia sweet potato fries" and while the wal-mart carries the FRIES, it is the "puffs" (think tater tots, just with sweet potato) that I like - and they had them. They also had the five-cheese Italian blend I like for pizza.

They also have a small bakery. There was a case with fancy cupcakes, but no one in the bakery to ask about them at the moment (and I didn't need a cupcake). That may also expand with the remodel, I don't know. They also carry The Father's Table cheesecake (in two-slice packs), which is a nice thing to have available when a real treat is needed.

And next to the deli, they now have a grab-and-go section with a few pre-made sandwiches and things like hummus and fancier cheese.

So I am holding out hope as they slowly transition into being more like a "regular" Pruett's, they will have more and more of the things I want, and they will be a nice place to shop. (Honestly? If they get organic milk I may be able to mostly quit using the wal-mart, which would make me happy, because that place is a zoo some times during the week. And also to be honest: I'd rather my money go to a smaller, regional, chain. Apparently it is still owned by the son and daughter-in-law of the founders...)

The photos of the stores the company has on its website look very nice - and again, the appearance of a grocery store MATTERS to me more than it probably should - and I'm hoping the remodel makes the store look like them.

So, hopefully, I will have a nice new place to shop now.

"Hard to identify"

I read something yesterday in the new issue of the ONPS newsletter that surprised me a little.

I was familiar with the term birders use - "LBJ," which stands for "Little brown job," meaning one of the small brownish birds (often sparrows but also some of the warblers) that are hard to tell apart, especially if they are flitting around in a tree where you don't get a full view of them. (Some people use the acronym "LBB" for "little brown bird")

Well, there's a comparable one for plants. Members of the Asteraceae (the daisy family), which used to be known as the Compositae*

(*Plant taxonomy is kind of weird. There were a lot of "old" family names that didn't fit the official pattern, so Compositae and Umbelliferae and Labiatae and Cruciferae are now Asteraceae and Apiaceae and Menthaceae and Brassicaceae but a lot of us know the old names....I think the new names came into common use about the time I was in college, though it might have been earlier and my botany profs were just all old-school)

Anyway, a lot of the composites (the old general name for things in the Asteraceae) are hard to tell apart, especially the fall-flowering yellow ones. I have to think hard about the names of even some of the common ones and I kind of groan if I run across a goldenrod other than a few of the ones with really distinctive leaves because the flowers are all so similar, and identifying them usually means going into the lab and working with a dissecting microscope on the flowers and using a key.

So, there is a 'grouping name' for the yellow-flowered Asteraceae like Little Brown Jobs.

(I tend to just refer to them as "it's another yellow Asteraceae").

But apparently the "official" acronym is DYC. Which is short for "Damned yellow composite."

The thing that surprised me is that phrase is attributed to Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Johnson. (I'm not surprised about the wildflower thing; there is a whole wildflower center in Austin dedicated to her and she was known for that sort of thing. I'm surprised about the "Damned")

Would she have said that?

Scanning my memory banks, I realize I don't know that much about her. I do know that President Johnson could be a rather....earthy.....talker (there is an infamous tape of a phone call he had with his tailor, describing in detail to the man how NOT to make his pants fit too tightly and why). But I dunno, I pictured Lady Bird as being more, well, ladylike. And also it was the 1960s, I don't know how common openly saying something like "damned" was - there are certain words that have only become common/accepted on network tv since the late 1980s.

And I admit, I think my mental picture of a "mid 20th century former First Lady" is strongly influenced by the story about Bess Truman, where a group of women came to her and said "Can't you encourage your husband, on his garden tours, to call it 'fertilizer' instead of 'manure,' because 'manure' is such a coarse word," and Bess' response was "It took me 20 years to encourage him to call it 'manure.'"

I'm also cognizant of the differences in attitudes of my students - some coming from very conservatively-religious backgrounds, some coming from different cultures than my own - so I'd never say "damned" about something in front of the class. I *might* say "darned yellow composite" though, as I noted, I'd probably be more prone to sort of sigh and go "it's a yellow Asteraceae."

I'm good at plant identification but some groups are difficult - yellow Asteraceae are kind of a pain if you don't work with them on a regular basis, and some grasses can be hard if they don't have flowering/fruiting heads on them. And anything in rosette form is gonna be tough.

ETA: I guess I should be glad the acronym isn't FYC. (Like Fine Young Cannibals, which I was once told was actually supposed to stand for something ELSE but that which the FCC wouldn't allow....)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Never too late

Someone once said - and it's probably one of those unattributable sayings that lots of people are claimed to have said - that it's never too late to have a happy childhood.

I mostly don't agree with that - I don't think as adults we can go back, really and be like children again, and really, we should not. You have to grow up, and take adult responsibilities, and be an adult. But enjoyment of some of the trappings of childhood are still attainable. I admit, on my birthday, I would really like to have (as a once-a-year treat) a really gooey cake, with lots of frosting, and frosting roses. And I get ALL the roses, because it's my birthday.

(But it has to be good frosting, and sadly, most "store" cakes don't have very good frosting. The "celebration" of my award that my parents did for me - they ordered a cake from a baker local to them (Janet's Cakes) and her cakes have EXCELLENT frosting (for one thing: it is not too sweet and I think she uses real butter in it) so of course I wanted frosting roses.)

But anyway. I think one of the reason I have acquired so many toys as an adult is (a) I have disposable income I did not as a child and (b) they make me happy.

This is my "prize" for getting my paper accepted and getting the revisions done with no tears* - A Disney Rapunzel fashion-type doll.

(*There sometimes are, with revising a paper, because Reviewer 2.)

the hair

A couple of thoughts:

1. I might actually have played with fashion-type dolls as a child if they were like this. For one thing, she's articulated, and WELL articulated (often the dolls of my youth had pivot joints and shoulders and hips, and a few of the Barbie types had those "click-click" knees, but the arms were rigid and the waists didn't turn). Like I said about the Monster High dolls: these are fun to pose.

(Though apparently now the Monster High line has been simplified down and a lot of the dolls lack much in the way of articulation, which is kind of sad).

2. The face is cartoony, because, well, the character is based on a cartoon. I didn't find Barbie "cute," as a kid, but I would have found this doll cute. (Possibly there's some kind of an uncanny-valley thing in there where Barbie in the 70s was trying to be "too" realistic, and the giant "anime" eyes here shatter any chance at realism, and therefore mostly avoids the uncanny valley).

3. She's a character who has Adventures. And I know a lot of ink and even more electrons have been spilled on what it means for our society that princesses are no longer passive vessels waiting for their princes to come, and that they often get themselves out of peril, rather than waiting for true love's kiss or whatever. I dunno. I do know as a child that I found a lot of that stuff kind of uninteresting, because the idea of princessdom seemed really remote from my life - and princesses seemed kind of boring, anyway, and I'd rather go climb a tree or work in the garden. But a number of the recent princesses have "spunk," and as much as I hate the idea of forced spunk, I find it more appealing than the helpless sort. And also, as a kid, I'd have had an easier time dreaming up things for a doll that had Adventures to do - it seemed with Barbie it was like "oh, here, let's change her clothes. Now let's change her clothes again" and I'm sure not all girls were like that but a number of my friends who had Barbie seemed to see her as....well, I think "prissy" would be the word I would have used - she wouldn't have gone outdoors, lest she mess up her clothes, or try to do things like scale the bookcases, lest she mess her hair.

And I know, a lot of people have commented on the problems with the whole Disney thing, and in a lot of cases, the stories are considerably bowdlerized from the original sources (I probably read a more-faithful version of the story in the Red Fairy Book, but I don't remember it. A little looking online tells me one thing - Rapunzel had a couple of kids (out of wedlock!) by the prince who climbed into her tower. And of course, there are probably lots of symbols in the thing that the original hearers would get, but us moderns, more removed from the earthier parts of life, ignore).

Also, the name - turns out it's the common name of a plant. (in German, and I guessed from the combination of letters, it had to be). The plant is Valerianella locusta, also known as corn salad, and it's a common green used in some salad mixes. (I think I've eaten it: a couple years my mother grew it). Apparently the idea is that Rapunzel's mother, while pregnant with her, craved the corn salad in the witch's garden, and that set everything in motion that wound up with the witch getting Rapunzel.

(Also, it's sometimes described as having a purplish flower - though most Valerianellas I know have white flowers - and the Disney Rapunzel has a purple dress, which makes me wonder if they looked it up).

Anyway. A fun doll to have. She came with her pet chameleon Pascal (and I wonder if there's some kind of in-joke there, referencing Blaise Pascal) and a frying pan - in the movie, she used that as a weapon of self-defense.

She's barefoot, which I guess I'm okay with, and those feet....well, I doubt any of the shoes I currently have for fashion dolls would fit her, so I guess she stays barefoot, even if I do make a different dress for her at some point.

She is an awfully cute doll, though:

Rapunzel close up

She has, as you would guess, a LOT of hair, and I'm going to have to take care as I display her or move her around not to tangle it too much. (It's heavy, and it makes it a little harder to pose her because the hair makes her tend to fall over in certain poses)


I can imagine that certain little girls will love playing with that hair, and I can imagine 5-10 years from now there being lots of nearly-bald Rapunzels in thrift stores.

"Glow cat, I love you!"

"I love you, glow cat"

Wednesday midday stuff

* Big stuff going on in the news: a horrific fire in a London high-rise that lead to something like 9 deaths, and apparently they had no sprinkler system?

I confess: I worry about fires in the tower dorms here but I'm pretty sure they have sprinkler systems. I used to live in an apartment block (in Ann Arbor) on the sixth floor. I don't think there were sprinklers but I don't remember now. There was one a fire alarm - someone had a grease fire in their kitchen - and I remember running down the six flights of stairs - each side of the building had fire stairs (I sometimes used them to climb to my apartment if I needed exercise). I do remember one apartment had a guy who used a wheelchair and people had to carry him out of the building because you don't want to use elevators in a possible fire.

Fortunately, the grease fire was out almost as soon as the alarms went off (the apartment dweller knew the trick of clapping a pan lid down on top of the pan where there was a fire to smother it).

But yeah, I'm not sure I'd want to live in a higher-level apartment any more, not given other things I've read about.

* And a shooting at a Congress baseball practice. Apparently it was just an angry guy with possibly a vendetta against the particular party that was practicing? I don't know. My general feeling is "Disagree with people in government all you want, but the way you challenge them is at the ballot box, in the letters-to-the-editor, or with peaceful protests."

I hope this is a one-off incident. I am too good at seeing patterns where there may be none and I know a few times I've said "We're in for a really ugly couple months" and usually it comes to nothing.

The shooter was from Belleville, Illinois. I know where that is but it is not near to where I used to live.

* However, locally, things are okay: I submitted the revised manuscript yesterday so that means another publication coming out, and I rewrote the manuscript a student and I are doing and sent it to her for comments.

* And also, the bigger thing: My friend Laura was passing through the area on her way to a wedding in Colorado, so we made plans to meet up. We went to the fairly-new "Jimmy's Egg" (you can probably guess what style of restaurant that is) in town. It was pretty good - definitely a cut above IHOP. (I had a cheese omelette and part of a serving of sweet potato pancakes, she had a breakfast combination with eggs and meat and fruit). It was just good to get to see her.

* So I'm taking the rest of the day off. I need to practice piano for the day and I have Board Meeting tonight but otherwise I have a little time to work on the current amigurumi Pony (at this point it does look like I might have to do a JoAnn's run this weekend for more yarn, but we'll see).

I found out yesterday that classes start a week later in August than I planned (August 21, not August 14) so I think a day off here and there won't hurt my progress.

I also cleaned the house a little (mostly stuff like sweeping and washing floors; I had already picked stuff up a little) which means it's also done for when my piano teacher comes tomorrow.

* I also have vague plans to do something "fun" on Friday. No idea whether to just do a Sherman run, or to go to Whitesboro, or to stay home and work on a quilt. (Though I probably do need to at least do a grocery run).

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

smol bean alert

Yeah, more G1 baby ponies. What can I say? I am totally in love with these as a toy concept. These two came from Ogreberry Cottage on etsy.

First up is Baby Sunribbon - a rainbow baby pony. (Apparently rainbow ponies were a whole subline, where they had rainbow-gradient hair instead of one- or two-color hair. I guess that lives on in today's Rainbow Dash):

That gives you an idea of how small these "smol beans" are.

Sunribbon is a very light blue - like, Rainbow Dash blue, maybe even a bit less intense than that.

I think I have more of the babies now than of the adults, but honestly, when I'm browsing 'round Etsy, it's more likely a baby pony that will randomly grab my heart than one of the adult ones - there are a few of the adult ones I want (though probably will never have, because some of them seem to be Grail Ponies for collectors who are richer/more willing to spend than I)

The second one is yet another First Tooth baby pony - Baby Quackers. (There is also an adult Quackers, I don't know if there was an adult Sunribbon*)

See her tooth?

(*And I do think I remember reading that it was some kind of mirror-magic that produced the baby-ponies-that-were-essentially-clones of the adults. But given that the world of Ponies - both the current generation and the earlier ones - were so heavily skewed female, perhaps some kind of parthenogenesis-like reproduction was necessary. And, of course, that handwaves away any uncomfortable questions from children still too young to be told the birds and bees)

And actually - the idea of Rainbow Dash being the spiritual descendant of the Rainbow Ponies....maybe there are some other elements of G1 that have been quietly brought into G4. Because after all, what are the Crystal Empire ponies but a sort of Glitter Pony? And of course Spike was in the G3 movies, and he may have been in G1. And even some of the villains (Tirek) and other incidentals (Smooze) were adopted from G1.  We have yet to see a twinkle-eye version or a twice-as-fancy, but....there's still part of season 7, and a movie, and it's hinted there might be a season 8.

Monday, June 12, 2017

this is interesting

The former Winn-Dixie (which was a Nichols') has been bought by Pruett's Foods.

Apparently this is going to be an upgrade. The women were talking about it at CWF tonight. Apparently some of them shop at the one in Atoka, making the drive for similar reasons that I make the drive to Sherman for Kroger's.

I'm hopeful about this. Several people commented that their produce was very nice, which is a big thing for me - I've complained on here about how the wal-mart seems to be slow to put produce out and it's approaching spoiled by the time it's on the sales floor.

So, I hope what the women were talking about is true.

I also heard a rumor that a new grocery was coming to Caddo, which is a lot closer to me than Sherman is, but that was less-substantiated.

But oh, how nice it would be to have a nice, relatively-newly-renovated grocery store here that is NOT the wal-mart.

Monday afternoon random

* Annual eye checkup today. It took far longer than I anticipated (I didn't get over here - I mean, to work - until after lunch, but that was partly because I also took time to make my salad for the CWF salad supper this morning)

I am assuming either they were really heavily booked, or my doctor had to deal with an emergency - I had to wait a long time for him after the nurse/tech got done with the initial tests (eye pressure and all of that).

The good news is my eyes are very healthy. My prescription has not changed so I get to keep my current glasses, which is good because (a) I like them and (b) it saves me money. The scans of my retinas looked good, not even any apparent damage from having high blood pressure.

So, thus far, all my medical stuff (regular doctor, gyn, eye doctor) have pronounced me healthy. (My gyn commented that "Yup, you're normal" after looking at all my numbers and doing the exam.)

* It's suddenly got very hot and humid here. Highs in the 90s and the dewpoint right now is something like 68 F, which is honestly kind of miserable and even with air conditioning in the house AND my new dehumidifier running, I have to really push hard to get through a workout.

I am contemplating shifting my schedule once again: training myself to get up a bit earlier (I woke up slightly after 5 this morning and just got up), eating breakfast earlier, and then once that's settled, doing my exercise in the morning. Because it means I can stay over here later in the day without worrying about running into my fixing-dinner-time or anything, and I MIGHT have slightly better "wind" early in the morning right after taking my anti-asthma pill.

Also, it just feels good to get that kind of thing out of the way early on. ("Do the task you like least first and the rest of the day goes better")

* I checked out Deva by Cammy. Nice! Lots of the old Deva favorites are still there, and the prices aren't outrageous. I had been wearing my old "Edwardian pajamas" set (though apparently by mistake I ordered a button-front, man-styled* top instead of the camisole type top) and it was getting a little worn - so I decided to try out the "reincarnation" of Deva Lifewear and I ordered a set of them in rose. They do note that some of the stuff has to be made when you order it, so it may take some weeks, but that's fine with me.

(*Man-styled, in that the buttons are on the opposite side from a woman's blouse).

I dunno. I just kind of like the idea of those pajamas. They may be a trifle warm for our summers (longer "bottoms") but once fall comes, they should work well.

(I tend to "sleep hot" and except for the very coldest winter nights usually use something like shorts and a t-shirt as pajamas).

* Thinking about projects again.

I pulled out some yarn I bought long ago - Big Twist acrylic in salmon and turquoise (I know, but they sort of work) and started on the Elinor Dashwood pony I wrote about eons ago - this is a crochet pony that was in a dream I had - yes, a ponified version of the Austen character. I don't know why. But I decided I wanted to make it, and bought the yarn, and then I thought about it again over the weekend (I think the chain of thinking was: "Hey, this new Disney cartoon based on "Tangled" - apparently it is set in some weird interstitial time after Rapunzel returns to the castle but before she and Eugene marry? - isn't half bad." Followed immediately by, "Wow, I should make a ponified Rapunzel (lavender like her dress, with green eyes and long blonde mane and tail)" Followed by, "Wait, you have yarn put aside for that Elinor Dashwood pony you never made")

I started it. I might not have QUITE enough of the salmon yarn, I fear - it's going to be very close. However, apparently JoAnn's still has some in stock so if I get enough progress on her this week to judge, I could pick up another skein if needed this coming weekend.

Alternate plan: do the legs in white with some kind of shoe-colored hoof, and then make her a dress to wear (so the legs are like "stockings"). Though that's not my original plan and I'm not sure how you'd make a Regency dress for a four-footed creature. (I do plan on making a bonnet for her to wear, at least, but I can do that of felt.)

I also FINALLY found my copy of "The Happy Hooker" - I had misfiled it on a shelf with knitting books. So I think I should dig out the long-stalled "test pattern blanket" and try to finish it. I know I have all the yarn together and all the squares I had made (though also, I might look at the colors again, I know I had to "compromise" on some of them, and if I can find better shades, I might just buy and re-start those colors, I don't know.

I also probably need to just have a stalled-project blowout this summer and finish the stuff I have hidden away in bags different places - already have started that with the Scottish Thistle shawl.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A favorite reborn

(N.B.: Something is broken in Flickr at the moment so I'm going to just load these directly from disk. They may look different but I think it should work.)

A little while back, I wrote about re-creating a much-loved but totally-worn-out Deva Lifewear dress by cutting it apart and using it as a pattern. I did finish it over break

It is just kind of a loose-fitting dress - it has a multiply-gored skirt (dang, I should have thought to get a "twirl" picture).

I used a batik-print fabric for it. Originally, I wanted a sort-of-gauzy fabric (thicker but more loosely woven) like the "breezecloth" that Deva originally used, but I couldn't find one, so I went with a quilting fabric. (I am wondering if quilting fabric sells better/is more profitable than dress fabric - probably more people quilt these days than sew clothing; I know I do more quilting than I do clothes-making). I'm pretty happy with how it came out, even though it drapes differently (it's crisper and less drapey) than the original fabric

On the original dress, it was too long and too loose, so my mom cut a strip off the hem, re-hemmed it, and turned the strip into ties to cinch in the waist. I copied that detail on the new dress so it's not quite so huge on me - it's a "pop over the head" dress (so no zipper) and that makes it necessarily have to be more loosely cut.

But that's good in hot weather. And one thing I've found with my hives, when they're bad, tight clothing makes them worse, or "rub points" where a seam is right against the skin makes them worse, so having a few loose-fitting dresses is good for very hot conditions or bad hive days.

Here's a photograph with no flash, perhaps showing the color of the fabric more true. It's predominantly blue, but there are hints of purple and blue-green in the pattern.

I do think the batiks look more "dressy" than some other prints do, perhaps because of giving a bit of an illusion of something like watered silk.

And here's a "twirling" shot of the skirt. Because having a dress that flares out when you spin or turn is one of the little pleasures of life, and is the whole reason for putting a lot of gores into a skirt.

(And the "auto timer" on my camera is VERY long when you have to spin waiting for the photo to go. I actually made myself feel slightly sick to my stomach from the spinning.)

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ads and music....

I have a pretty good auditory memory. I can pick out songs I know* pretty easily, and I also tend to think a lot about the meaning/intent of a song.

This is sometimes kind of weird given the usage of music in ads. 

(*I mostly know pre-1985 pop or things like "standards" and classical, so I doubt I will be going on that new game show where you try to beat some online app at identifying music)

The current one that's poking at my brain is the car maker that's using Simon and Garfunkel's "America" in their ads.

It's interesting in that they have selectively chosen, they cut out "so we bought a pack of cigarettes....and Mrs. Wagner's pies..." (Because cigarettes are Not Correct for people to be implied to consume these days, and Mrs. Wagner's pies haven't existed since the summer of 1969).

But more importantly, given what a car ad is trying to do, vs. what I saw as the original intent of the song, they don't play the lines:

"'Kathy, I'm lost,' I said, though I knew she was sleeping,
'I'm aching and empty and I don't know why..."

Not exactly the mood that a company looking to sell a family or couple their product would be going for....I always saw "America" as fundamentally a song of disaffection, about people who don't know their place in the world, and are kind of anti-consumerist (they're riding around the country on a bus, for goodness sake - though maybe buses were nicer 50 years ago than they are now). Not the sort of song that would persuade me to buy a car.

Then again, I'm probably not their target market. What I want in a car is really mostly: 1. Is it safe to drive, will I be more or less likely to survive if I get in an accident? and 2. Is it reliable or am I going to be stuck with it in the shop all the time? and 3. (though this is a lesser concern because I don't drive THAT much) Is the gas mileage okay?

So anyway.

(I also will confess here that the ad with the Irish (? I presume) grandma going with her American family to scatter her husband's ashes creeps me out a little bit. I mean, yeah, I get for some people that's a meaningful thing but I'd be really uncomfortable traveling 2000 miles - presumably, the family is going cross-country - with grand-dad's ashes in an urn on the seat next to me)

But this has gone on for a long time. I remember some years ago being puzzled by Dove soap using a song that I knew as "La Goulante de Pauvre Jean" - fundamentally, a song about a guy who is broke and women don't like him, so he becomes a crook and, it implies, is hanged for his troubles. Doesn't have anything to do with soap or bathing or even really women's beauty...

(And through the magic of YouTube, here it is, along with an English translation of the rather slangy French. And as far as I know French slang of that era, it seems a pretty accurate one)

And yes, I know: here it's perhaps better known as "The Poor People of Paris" as a sort-of gloopy instrumental. But surely I'm not the ONLY American who started singing the Piaf version under her breath when the ad came on?

I also remember an ad for a sports drink that used a version of "House of the Rising Sun" as the music over video of people falling, wiping out, etc. (presumably because they got dehydrated) and it caused a similar dissonance in my mind. And one for a tea that used "Little Bitty Pretty One" morphed into something that was like a chant, and they had people dressed as Zen monks humming to it.

And I know there was some Gen-X outrage I saw online over a brand of crackers using Modern English's "Melt with You" in its ad. (I do think advertisers do that sort of thing with some risk: there does seem to be a group of people who would reject a brand for "banalizing" an iconic song by using it to push their product)

Though more recently, there was a Piaf song used pretty effectively in an ad - showing a woman going through the stages of her life to the tune of "Non, Je ne Regrette Rien" (no, I regret nothing - primarily it was about the loves in the singer's life, which, for Piaf, there were numerous). The ad was surprisingly moving (it was for Dove chocolates) and the music there was effective. (It may also have been that there was enough ambiguity in the ad - what does it actually mean? that it caught people's attention) But it does seem all too often, the music seems chosen purely because "hey, it's something our customer base relates to!" or "hey, that's a cool tune!" or maybe even "The title relates to our product!" without really thinking.

Perhaps the reason the "Je Ne Regrette Rien" ad was so striking - and so many people responded positively to it - was that it was one in which the music and the mood it meant to convey *matched*. (It probably also didn't hurt that it was an old enough - and perhaps, obscure enough in the US - song that there wouldn't be anyone who'd huffily go "THAT WAS AN ICONIC SONG OF MY EARLY 20S AND YOU ARE TRYING TO DESTROY IT!!!"

Oh, and another one, though this one seems kind of nonsensical to me and I sort of like how it's silly: Cici's Pizza (a chain that does pizza buffets) is using "Safety Dance" (in highly modified, instrumental form) as background music in their ads.

This is it:

I can't go "They're ruining a song of my youth!" because, honestly, having Ren-Faire-wenches and jester-little-people in the video kind of means that ship has already sailed.