Saturday, June 25, 2016

Funny cat video

en Français, mais c'est amusant parce que il est en Français.  (To me at least)

There are English subtitles. One slightly rough word in there (I think the French idiom is different but means roughly the same)



Ouvre-moi la porte, hoooooomain!

I shared this with a colleague who is learning French (long story but his daughter married a Frenchman and he wants to be able to converse with his son-in-law's family). He appreciated it.

(I also note that the cat "tutoyes" his human - in French, they have a formal you (vous) and an informal you (tu) and typically one would vovoyer (use the vous form) with someone "superior" to you, and "tu" with an equal or subordinate. Hm. I am assuming, from what I know about the ways of cats, he is using it as a superior would to an inferior).

Actually "Parole du Chat" is an entire channel - I will have to watch the other videos. ("Les Gros Mots" is swear words, in case you either want to avoid that one or watch it particularly)

quick random thought

I need to eat lunch, finish my piano practice, and go back to the handquilting I'm doing, but yesterday I mentioned "getting my head stuck in the one-inch picture frame" (which is an Anne Lamott image, from "Bird by Bird")

Well, maybe here's another version of it, appropriate for someone who is both a Pony fan and a scientist (if not especially a lab scientist - but I'm not going to try to find a picture of a pony with its head stuck in a bee's nest)






Maybe if I can remember that when I start getting to that point it will make me laugh and sort of pull me back out of it, I don't know.

Friday, June 24, 2016

and much better

I needed a day out. I do think I get my head too stuck in the "one inch picture frame," especially during summers when (a) it's really too hot to spend much time outside, (b) few of my colleagues are around and most of the other things where I talk to people (AAUW, for example) are in abeyance and (c) summer classes move fast and make me tired.

Today was my trip to Longview to meet up with Laura and shop and get lunch and talk with someone about something OTHER than work-related matters or volunteer-work related matters.

I do think a lot of my unhappiness of late is that MOST of what I do involving other people these days includes me carrying a responsibility of some sort - being Head Elder, or being secretary of AAUW, or having to consider the issues at hand and vote intelligently in faculty meetings - I have almost nothing, really, that involves in-person interaction with other people where I am doing things PURELY for fun, with nothing expected of me.

(driving down there, I also realized: there have been more than a few days lately where the reason I got out of bed was because someone was expecting me to be somewhere to do something. Not because I wanted to get out of bed or was so filled with joy at the prospect of another day of what my life is right now. And "people are expecting me to go and do" is a kind of sad reason for getting out of bed, even if it did get me out of bed)

But yeah. It was a good day mainly because of getting to see Laura and spend a lot of time talking and laughing over stuff. And looking at books and yarn and looking at clothes in one shop and going "oh, that's cute..." and then "But not $60 cute"

I didn't buy a LOT, and except for the gas and the groceries I stopped for on the way home, I used exclusively cash, as a way to force myself to be more frugal. Got some really pretty blue twist sockyarn (from the Cascade Heritage line), and a couple skeins of super bright color changing sockyarn for a smallish shawl (Possibly rectangular, possibly done in something like Old Shale that has a simple enough repeat). I also bought some panda point protectors which I may never use for those but they were super cute and not very expensive and I wanted them.

This was all at Stitches and Stuff. The two owners - Sue and Frances, who are sisters - are like the best yarn-shop owners ever. They are like how I would describe the perfect owner of a yarn shop - friendly and supportive and super interested in the craft and able to suggest things.....Each of us wound up also buying a roll of netting (something new they are carrying) for kitchen scrubbies - I had seen the scrubbies made up sitting next to the basket of netting and I exclaimed, "Oh, those are the best scrubbies!" (I got one in a gift exchange a couple years ago). They gave us each a copy of the pattern (Perhaps because we were buying the net - and I also bought a size M crochet hook as I knew I didn't have one and that's what the pattern took).

We also got lunch at Barron's. After debating a bit I went with their pasta again even though it contains two things (brined Kalamata olives and pickled artichoke hearts) that are not on my "generally approved" diet list. (But once in a while doesn't hurt too terribly, I think, and anyway my blood pressure has been lower lately).

And I got a new buckwheat bag (one of the heart-shaped, minky-covered ones). These wear out periodically and I use them a LOT when my gut is bothering me, or my intercostals are cramping up, or sometimes even when I am just sad (especially in the winter when heat is more appealing).

We also ran to Books a Million and Michael's and each got a few little other things (I found a Hamish Macbeth mystery I had not read yet). I actually wound up getting out of Longview later than I had planned but that's ok. I still managed to stop at the Kroger's and get home before it got dark out, and that was what mattered.

I think I'm going to take tomorrow off from working and knit or sew instead.....I want to finish off some of my ongoing projects before I start on any of the new yarn.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"Ice Bear disapproves"

I'm feeling a little better. I went to the reception thing. (I could have just as well skipped it; the place was packed, no one would have noticed if I was there or not). It was a "chocolate buffet," apparently at the retiree's request. (Paid for by private money - I doubt the campus has the funds for that kind of thing).

(I joked on Twitter that if I rate a reception when I retire - if I am still teaching when I do - I want an all-barbecue reception. Because barbecue. And yes, there can be tofu or vegetarian barbecue beans for those who do not eat meat)

I am watching a lot of cartoons these days because I confess there is a Certain Person that is in the news a lot that I sort of have a hard time tolerating listening to, so I switch away when that person is on. Which is a lot, these days.

A couple things:

1. I don't get home in time these days to catch re-runs of Pony so if I want Pony I have to either pull out the dvds or watch them on places like Dailymotion that seem to be "approved" (or so it seems) to keep the episodes up online.

2."The Amazing World of Gumball" has some slightly....subversive (?) ideas in it at times. One episode I saw recently was a parody of the tendency for people to want to bubble-wrap the world: Darwin the fish becomes very worried about safety, and somehow becomes the Safety Dictator (apparently because he is so cute and does big anime-sparkly eyes and people can't resist him?) And like any of this sort of for-your-own-good dictator, things get really miserable for everyone really fast. Finally his brother does convince him to step down: after all, as Gumball points out, how can you be a "good guy" if you are sitting on a throne and carrying a riding crop. (Heh.)

There are other hints of that kind of thing in other episodes, or at least ideas that might go against the standard "let's make everything as bland and inoffensive as possible" idea. (one episode has a song about how growing up means giving up on dream after dream.)

3. I've been enjoying (not that I get to see it often) We Bare Bears, a fairly new cartoon. It consists of three bear "brothers" (of different species, so presumably brothers-from-other-mothers). (I think an early episode shows them starting out as cubs in a pet shop and joining forces that way? Though that might be non-canonical, I am not sure how "show canon" works on this show yet).

Anyway. The characters are Grizz (Grizzly), the eldest, who is probably the most outgoing and also the most bro-dude-i-est of the bears. But also kind of the leader. And the middle brother is Pan-pan (Panda), who is cute and kind of girl-crazy and sort of otaku-esque and you'd think he'd be my favorite, but you'd be wrong. (Panda can be a wuss and can be seriously whiny)

No, my favorite is the "little brother," Ice Bear (a polar bear). Ice Bear is cool. Ice Bear doesn't talk much. Ice Bear speaks of himself in the third person. Ice Bear refers to himself as Ice Bear.

Ice Bear knits. And he is a gourmet chef. And in at least one episode, he gets frustrated because the other bears seem to take him for granted. (I am a lot like Ice Bear in some ways, which is probably why I like him. Well, he doesn't talk much, which is not like me, and he's also good at martial arts, which is also not like me)

Ice Bear also uses a modified refrigerator as his bedroom and he is shown not to tolerate heat and humidity well.

Ice Bear disapproves of heat.



And so do I. (It's been very hot and humid here, and while it wasn't hot in lab today, it was humid, and I think that contributed to getting me down)

(I even rennamed the tiny Percy the Polar Bear I made off the Alan Dart pattern in a back number of Simply Knitting to Ice Bear because he looked enough like Ice Bear to me)

Two quick "feels"

I do have a lab to set up but two - well, really three, things, because a comment response first:

The dvd is called "Dance x Fitness with Kenn Kihiu." It's a pretty fast moving and surprisingly strenuous (as in, you don't think, "Oh, this is hard" while you're doing it, but you're tired after it and I regularly pull some muscles doing it if I've been away from it.) There are LOTS of different moves in it, some that work the abdomen, some for the shoulders. Lots of things where you have to kind of partially squat down and I think that's what's working the hamstrings.  I don't know if Kenn is Nigerian or from a Caribbean nation or possibly an Anglophone South American - he has a bit of an accent and sometimes phrases things a little differently (and I can't always interpret everything he says, not that you need to understand everything on the video). There are a lot of points where he's going "Sit down for me! Sit down for me!" meaning you need to kind of squat down to work whatever the big muscles on the back of the thighs are.

It has tightened up my legs and definitely my upper abdomen and I think my arms a little bit. And I was in okay shape before I did it because I was using the cross-country ski simulator.

And now, the feels:

1. I found out for sure today that I'm being paid at the adjunct rate. That is, $700 per credit hour taught for the entire summer. (Two classes, four credit hours each: you can do the math). My pay is exactly half of what my normal professor pay is. My take home pay is not good. I couldn't live - not without being painfully frugal - on that for very long.

I know, I can't complain about this too much:

A. I have a job. I fully expect that come fall, regular pay (perhaps less a 10% cut if times are still so bad) will come back for me. My job is as secure as anyone's job can be, pretty much....it's not like I have to go interview with Bob and Bob every year or something like that.

B. I'm still making over minimum wage even based on my net pay. Well, not with my net pay if you peg $15 as the minimum wage as some are arguing for, but I'm still making over local minimum wage. And my work conditions are much better than the typical minimum wage job: I don't have to be around hot grease, or diesel fumes, or loud noises, or sullen/hungover/troubled co-workers.

C. I agreed to this. I could have said, when we found out about the cuts, "Sorry, if I don't get 10 in both my classes [what it would have taken to get full pay, I think....maybe they raised it to 12], I'm not teaching. I don't care if that messes up several people who are planning to graduate, they should have planned better." Instead, I said, "That's an awful option but I don't want to screw over the students so I'll teach even if the classes don't fill." (In the past, I was able to get full pay for classes with fewer than 10 - because usually at least one class had 10, and also we could make the case that other classes in the department were over 10, and money was fungible, so.....well, apparently the money is no longer fungible.)

And yeah. I suppose the main argument here is I'm "too nice" and don't look out for my own self-interest enough but, I don't know. I do feel a LITTLE cheated that the upper admin did not warn us this might happen back when I agreed to teach summer, and back when the first few people signed up. Then again, they didn't know that the price of oil was going to tank and the Legislature was going to freak and squeeze higher ed but. I find I often do things that in the moment I think, "I'm being good and kind" and then when I get into the middle of it I am more like "Ugh, why did I take this on?"

I think of Dr. Thompson, one of my grad-school profs, and his standard comment whenever someone did a thankless task that got them little or no return on their effort: "You'll have another star in your crown." Yeah, great, that's really nice, but it doesn't help me re-roof my house in the here and now.

(All of this would be a lot harder if I had a problem student in either of my classes this summer but I don't. Mercifully, no one that makes my life miserable)

Also doesn't help to learn that some of the coaches at OU received raises that are larger than the full year's salary for an incoming Assistant Professor here. And yeah, yeah: "They bring in money for the school" and "Good coaches are rarer than people who can teach college" but still, it's a little frustrating. I feel kind of devalued at the moment. (A colleague reminded me that they have a huge endowment and those guys are probably paid out of alumni donations. But still: I hate that our world says "celebrity" is the best thing to be and the valuable thing.)

If by some catastrophe (what is the reverse of a miracle? Catastrophe is the best word I can come up with), the decision was made HEY YOU ARE ALL NOW ADJUNCTS AT ADJUNCT PAY and I'd wind up making about $20K before taxes.....well, I'd have to say, bye, sorry, gonna see what else I can do with my life. Being a professor isn't HARD the way some jobs are hard but you do have to deal with an awful lot of people with an awful lot of problems and I'd rather deal with different people and different problems for more money if $20K were my new salary.


Wait, wait, there's more (Edited to Add): I think the frustration I am feeling is that there are people around - some of them commentators so they have the veneer of seeming to know what they're talking about, some of them just regular folks - who essentially take the stance of "Except for maybe Harvard and Yale for the lawyers, and maybe a few seminaries, and maybe Harvey Mudd, let's shut 'em all down. What do people need an education for? Education is useless, just go start up a business!" Or similar arguments. And it makes me tired, especially with the low summer pay, because right at the moment I feel kind of like my life is a giant mistake and I went into the wrong field and no one gives a care about what I do and it's my own fault, anyway, for not choosing something actually useful to do with my life.


And yeah, I know last week I was praising the "Not the best, but still good" mentality and talking about how I still loved and valued a 30 year old plastic toy horse that had faded and had imperfect hair, but right today I feel like that nightmare My Little Pony with the faded body and  screwed-up hair and the bad stain and the worn-off cutie mark. I know part of it is that the Black Dog that visits me every summer has been sleeping on my chest at night and is huffing its damp breath on my right hip as I walk down the hall....but right now I'm feeling pretty insignificant and what's worse, I feel like if I had done something different in my life (married and had kids, become a medical professional, become an engineer, opened a business....) maybe I'd feel like my life meant something. If I had kids I'd at least occasionally hear an "I love you, mommy" and if I had become a doctor at least a few times in my career I might have the satisfaction of having saved a life. Right now I feel kind of useless. I suppose some would say that's a message I need to, I don't know, go to nursing school RIGHT NAOW and then hop the first ship for the Congo to try to help fight yellow fever or something.

I don't know. The world's in a mess and there's literally nothing concrete I can do to make things better, and the "at least you're not making things worse" I used to comfort myself with isn't enough any more.

2. This afternoon is a retirement reception for someone on campus. This is someone I was in a group with and who worked closely on some stuff so I SHOULD go but I really feel like I don't want to. My lab, if it runs the full time, lets out at 5 pm. The reception is from 4 to 6 and I know you don't have to stay the full time but honestly, at 5 pm, it's hot, I'm tired, I just want to scram and go home, and anyway, tonight I need to do my Sunday school lesson because tomorrow will be taken up with the trip and Saturday I probably need to do some stuff in here.

But I SHOULD go. So I will. This is the thing that I dislike most about adulthood: how often I do things I don't want to but know I should, and how many times I don't do things I'd like to because there's no time or energy or money for me to.

I wonder if they'll even have cake, or if that's off the budget now. (Now I think of that bit from A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge is seeing how he would have no mourners if he died, because one of the men, upon asked if he was attending the funeral, said something like, "Only if they will feed me")


And yeah, I'm still going tomorrow, and still buying yarn or books or patterns if something catches my fancy. I went to the bank yesterday and got some cash out of my savings account - which is where my tax refund still (mostly) sits, and where the couple hundred bucks I made reviewing books last year sits. And I do have enough in there to cover most minor household catastrophes (just not, if they all happened at once, like the stove melted down and the washing machine and dryer quit and I needed a new roof and my car got badly damaged in some way insurance wouldn't cover...). And in happier (?) times I might have paused about extracting money from SAVINGS (rather than taking less from Checking and going, "this is all you can spend because this is all the flex money you have for this month") but seeing as my money in Savings is earning a grand APY of 0.15%, it's losing value faster than interest accrues (inflation). So, eh meh.

And I've decided anyway, my Zombie Apocalypse skill is (a) making hats and socks and the like out of wool and (b) having tons of wool on hand to be able to do that. On ITFF, there's been some talk of Zombie Apocalypse Teams, as in, what is the skill that would make you valuable to a team....oh, I have more skills than that: I'm a good planner, I'm generally good at cobbling up fixes for stuff even without the right tools or raw materials, and I can cook good food out of cheap ingredients, and I'm pretty strong and I bet I could roundhouse kick well with a little practice.... Heh, and one of the people who posted about it said that one person she knew had taken on the nickname "Bait" after failing to come up with any other useful skills.

Thursday morning random

* In the summer, Thursday is my Friday, so I almost called this Friday morning random.

* Trip on Friday is a go. I am so happy to be thinking of getting out of town, getting to a real yarn shop, but most importantly getting to see and hang out with a friend. I do get something analogous to cabin fever in the summer. (I think maybe I have some things backward in my brain chemistry; I perk right up in the dead of winter when everyone else is depressed, and in the summer, when everyone's happy and having fun, I want to hide indoors and I feel "trapped" because of the heat)

* I have no projects for which I am seeking yarn (well, there is one sweater I might want to make some time that calls for about 1500 yards of dk yarn, so I am keeping that in mind). Oh, I'll probably buy something but I admit if it weren't for the meet-up, I totally would not be going. (Or I'd go somewhere closer instead)

* I discovered something last night that pleases me. I can touch my toes again without bending my knees. The last time I remember being able to do this was like high school. (I dropped the razor in the shower while shaving my legs and without thinking, just bent over at the waist to retrieve it, and then was all "Wait....how long have I been able to bend like that without bending my knees?") I think it must be the result of a combination of loss of some girth around the waist but also strengthening my leg muscles or maybe making my hamstrings less tight because of the new-ish workout (this is that dvd I've been using).

I can't put my hands flat on the floor like I could when I was a kid, and I might never be able to do that again (as an adult, my arms are a little proportionally short), but it's nice to regain a little flexibility and realize that midlife doesn't necessarily mean everything physical gets worse.

And I have noticed lately that bending from the waist (like, to pick something up off the floor) has been way easier and actually is my preferable mode of retrieving things (instead of squatting down by bending my knees).

* I was a really flexible little kid - I took several years of gymnastics class (I never was comfortable with the back-flipping stuff or even cartwheels and I gave it up before it got really hardcore, so I never would have wound up as a cheerleader, for example) and I remember my teacher commenting that I could do some bends that some of my classmates could not. I also took a year of intro ballet but dropped it because the teacher was kind of, I don't know, snappish, and it just wasn't as much fun. When I hit puberty that's when I got fat and lost a lot of my flexibility - I didn't like to exercise and I think the paces they put us through at school were not the kind of exercise I needed.

* I did a little house-cleaning last afternoon. Piano lessons re-start next week, so I will have to be better about keeping the place up. (Well, also, I am happier when the place isn't a mess).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

a new link

Rare that I find one of these (and I probably need to clean out my sidebar and get rid of blogs that have quit blogging) but I happened upon "The Passing Tramp" today - it's a blog about mysteries and detective fiction, including vintage mysteries. So. I had to add it.

Also, kind of scrolling through, I found this quotation, from "A Twenties American Newspaper":

The startling fact has recently been disclosed in a survey of the bookstores of Ann Arbor that while students at Michigan read poetry and essays, and professors' wives read biography and novels, professors read detective fiction.


Granted, in the 20s, I probably would have been more likely to have been a professor's wife than a professor myself (or I would have wound up something like a spinster schoolteacher), but yes. That makes me smile.

(Also, I wonder what college students read today? I remember when I was a student at Michigan I pretty much read anything, from Nero Wolfe novels (that's when I first got into mysteries) to "classic" novels to stuff like "And the Band Played On" (AIDS was still a new and very scary thing when I was in college)

I've often said I like mysteries (or detective fiction) because it carries within it the theme of restoration: the world goes wrong, something is upset. But someone, either a professional who's done this for years or an amateur who is just that clever, figures out who did the wrong thing. And the person who did the wrong thing is punished* and things are restored, as best they can, to how they were before.

(*Or in a few cases, punishes themselves - there is a famous Poirot mystery where the murderer commits suicide rather than face trial)

And I find that narrative oddly comforting: the idea that the broken world can maybe be fixed a little and restored. But also that someone who is intelligent, persistent, and attentive to detail is the one who saves the day. (Sometimes it seems a great deal of pop culture celebrates stupidity and loudness, so I like the celebration of intelligence and quiet that many detective novels are).

But I also wonder: could there be something about the professorial (at least of the old-school sort, and frankly, in a lot of ways, I am old-school compared to many of my peers) mindset that is drawn to detective fiction? Is it that it's a vicarious thrill? A puzzle to pick apart? Or are there others who like the idea of "a world restored"?

(My mother is also a fan of detective fiction and I know she once commented she had read that JFK had liked mystery novels. I have no idea if that's correct - I figured he'd have read spy stories, actually - but her implication was "this is something intelligent people like to read for fun" and of course I find that flattering, anyway).


Two different books

Reading two books right now. One for work, one for fun.

The one for work is called "Allelopathy" (for those unfamiliar: allelopathy is caused by chemicals released by sessile organisms like plants into their surrounding area. I always thought of it as a *harmful* effect, because that's the usual textbook definition, but this author also includes stimulatory effects). It's by Elroy Rice, who is usually considered one of the "greats" of Oklahoma agronomy/ecology.

I hate to say it though but I am struggling with this book. It's....not that well written. I had been wondering why I had never been encouraged to read it by any of the people (who would know) that I had talked about my work in Korean lespedeza with. Maybe it's that it's a very scattered collection of anecdotal reports from other published papers, and the organization...oy, the organization. It's not making much of an impression on the wrinkles of my brain because it jumps so rapidly from species to species. (And, I confess, I skimmed over the stuff about allelopathy affecting two crops - one is bajra, which Google tells me is a millet, and I forget the other - in India because not relevant to what I am doing). Maybe it gets better; a later chapter is on prairies so that might go down better.

The second one is one of those Golden Era mystery novels, called Thirteen Guests. This is by J. Jefferson Farjeon, whom I talked about the other day.

I'm enjoying this book so far. I just generally enjoy this class of novels. For some reason, I am very good at imagining what the interiors (and exteriors) of the houses where these tend to be set look like (maybe many years of watching the various adaptations of classic mysteries that various British production companies put out and PBS shows) and I can even imagine what some of the characters look like.

The funny thing is, I don't think I would have wanted to live in the era, or at least the milieu (upper middle class British) where these take place: too much weight put on women finding a husband before it's "too late," too many superficial niceties like having to use the right fork or dress a particular way for a particular meal, too many people with sort of ugly attitudes (there was a lot of anti-Semitism, especially among the upper classes it seems, in Edwardian Britain) who explained those attitudes away in various ways. And yet, I enjoy books set in that era.

With these one-off novels (and also, a less-familiar-to-me writer), I can't quite decide yet which of the characters to give my sympathy to. (Of course, in novels with a "known" detective, I tend to side with him or her). Right now I think I'm rooting for John Foss, who seems to be the central character. I'm not terribly far in but we don't know much about Foss yet - he shows up on a train to the town where the country-house having the party is. He is injured getting off the train and is conveyed to the country house (he was not an invited guest; another character invites him). Apparently he took off for Flensham (the town where the story is set) with no plans in mind other than a desire to get away from London, where apparently his beloved spurned him.

The character who "rescues" John Foss is the widow Nadine Leveredge, who is the other character I am tentatively rooting for. She's a widow, and therefore her flirtation with John, while perhaps not ENTIRELY seen as above-board by the others, doesn't bother him too much (she is, apparently, a YOUNG widow - she is described as the sort the Victorians would have said was "too attractive")

There are other characters, some of which, at least so far, are not very completely drawn: there is a family (man, wife, their daughter) of what are implied to be nouveux-riches (He made his money selling meat). There's the Lord of the manor and his daughter (I am fearful the daughter may wind up being the victim here; I get that sense). There is an unpleasant couple called the Chaters (and a character makes a joke to himself that there should have been an "e" inserted into that name) and I suspect perhaps the man will be the victim - if this is the sort of novel where "the most 'deserving' character winds up dead" because Mr. Chater is apparently a blackmailer and also one of those people who thinks himself so important that it is fine for him to bully and abuse the servants of his host's household.

There's also a painter - Leicester Pratt - who is painting a portrait of the Lord's daughter - and a gossip columnist, Lionel Bultin. Pratt and Bultin are made to room together and they argue a bit like an old married couple. They are probably, after Foss and Leveredge, the most interesting characters to me in the book - Bultin is a total cynic and Pratt is somewhat of a cad but they are still interesting.

The title of the book refers to the fact that twelve were invited to the party - Foss, as an uninvited guest, makes number 13 - and of course Foss and several others are superstitious. (As it turns out, the "thirteenth guest" - the person thirteenth to enter the house - is Mr. Chater, which further pushes my hunch that he's the one who will meet an untimely end).

It's funny. A lot lately has been made of the concept of "blanket forts" (people on a couple internet boards I frequent joke about retreating to "blanket forts" when the ugliness of the world gets to be too much). A literal "blanket fort" wouldn't help me too much because of course my thoughts would always follow me in there....and it's usually my thoughts or concerns about what is going on in the world that overwhelm me and make me NEED the concept of a "blanket fort." But having a good, absorbing book, one where I can picture the settings and characters in my mind, helps to shut down some of the concerns and racing thoughts.

A little prayer

I was thinking about this in lab yesterday (Small class, it was data collection time, so I was mostly-uninvolved).

Me, circa 1976: standing beside my dad's basement workshop bench, holding up a dollhouse highchair (made of that cheap 1970s toy plastic): "Daddy, it's broken, can you please fix it?"

Me, circa 2016, looking at the world, then raising my eyes: "Daddy,* it's broken, can you please fix it?"

(*"Abba" roughly translates, according to some authorities, as "Daddy," so I'm not being too presumptuous).

As a child, I held up broken toys to my biological father and asked him to fix them. Today, I point out the broken world (or what I see as such) to a God I sometimes think of as "Father" and ask for it to be fixed, somehow.

(And yes, I know, that "fix" has come in different times and different ways over the past couple thousand years -the big one for my faith-path being just about 2000 years ago, but humanity is rebellious enough that we keep resisting those fixes)

But there's so much going on right now. From the big issues (all the ugliness over Brexit, and honestly I'm glad I don't live there because I don't know what to think on it. And the shooting in Orlando. And all the shootings that happen - but go largely unreported because it's black-on-black crime - in Chicago) to the people I care about having medical problems to financial concerns (and things like more stores closing) to the looming election this fall....everything seems so messed up and as I said yesterday, while I try to do good and try to bring some love into the world, what I can do is so tiny...And so literally all I feel I can do is say "It's broken. I can't fix it. Only You can fix it. Please fix it."

I don't know. I do recognize that part of this is the usual summer ick I get, where I'm tired and sad and I feel kind of trapped (this year it's worse, with the road construction getting to the nearest decent area to get groceries more difficult) and my allergies are bad but 2016 does feel like a year where a lot of stuff is just falling apart. Maybe it has always been so. I don't know.

I also think of my dad when I was a kid: most of the time he did try to fix stuff. He didn't always succeed, because even in the 1970s lots of toys were cheap junk that were not meant to be fixed. Or the fix turned out worse: I specifically remember I had a little pin of a mouse (I was very fond of mice as a child) that someone had given me (?birthday gift? Maybe?) and the pin-back fell off of it. So my dad tried to solder it, not fully realizing that the little mouse-figure was made of pewter, and probably a lead-based pewter at that (I've SAID the 1970s hated children; lead poisoning isn't just a 2010s thing). And it melted.

And being the child I was - soft hearted and prone to become irrationally attached to little things, I cried and moped around for the rest of the day. Oh, I didn't blame my dad; he did his best. I was just upset at the sheer cosmic unfairness of it, that I had this thing and it broke and my dad in good faith tried to fix it but now it was irreparably ruined.

(I actually still have that pin! My mom saved it for years in her jewelry box, I don't know why, and a while back she gave it to me. It's just a blob with a mouse ear on what must have been the head....but I also kept it, it's now in the bottom of MY jewelry box).

And for a couple years after that, every Christmas, my dad would seek out and buy for me some kind of costume-jewelry mouse pin....my favorite, as a child, was one I want to say I think Avon put out? It was a Dickensian mouse with square-framed granny-style glasses that were on a hinge so they would raise and lower.

But anyway. He sought out those pins as a way to try to make it up to me, for what happened, for the fact that he could not fix something I treasured.....

I don't know where I'm going with this. But it's something that popped into my head.

(I also wonder some times if some of the things I do, all the ridiculous toys I buy for myself, some of the other things I do, if it's me trying to make up for....I don't know, some LACK in my past? I don't know what it would be. Maybe if I could figure out what that hole was, I could more productively fix it, I don't know.)


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Looking for happy

I keep trying.

* I really hope the tentative plans I had with my friend Laura for a meet-up on Friday work out. (I have a message in to her to see). At first, last week, I was not enthusiastic about driving 3 hours in the heat ("What if my car breaks down?") but now I just need so badly to get out and see someone different and BE somewhere different that I'm willing to risk it. (And I think *55 still works to summon the highway patrol if you have a problem). And anyway, a breakdown is extremely unlikely.

* I still feel the lonely bug hard, and I tell myself that as soon as summer is over, everyone will be back and things will be better but that's a long slog. Even though I do not need more busy-ness in my life I am beginning to wonder if there is some kind of a group out there - a choral group, a crafting group, SOMETHING - that meets at a time I could go to it, just for the ability to get out and not be either at work or at home. (I think part of my problem is that most of the groups I am a part of, I carry a lot of responsibility, I am not really part of any groups that are purely for fun where I feel I can turn down a leadership role.)

I did e-mail my piano teacher to see if we could start up summer lessons, that will make things a little better because (a) it's seeing another person during the week and (b) it gives me motivation to keep my house clean (it needs it right now). As much as I joke about "transition to hermit 87% complete" and as much as I can't stand crowds, I really miss having people (in small groups and carefully chosen people) around.

* I pulled out a long-stalled project and worked on it last night - this is the Sloane shawl. I'm probably close to being done, I think it is minimally big enough but I can't decide, do I do "minimally big enough" or do I do "work until you're almost out of yarn and have a big shawl"? Normally I like big shawls because I'm a biggish woman myself (5' 7", and also broad shoulders) but I admit I'm getting tired of the pattern. But I think I do need to power through this summer and complete a few of the things that are within some short distance of being finished: this, a cowl, a hat, the Hagrid sweater are some of the big ones.

* Tentative plans at some point soon: cast on the second sleeve for Hagrid. I finished the first one back in January and haven't touched the sweater since.

* I need to hunt around and hope I can find the keyfob I had for years on my house keys. I realized today it isn't on there and I REALLY hope it's in my traveling purse or on the table where I normally keep my keys (it is not in my regular purse). It was a gift from someone back before I moved down here, a small brass circle that says "God Keeps His Promises" and it has a ton of sentimental value to me....I don't know how long it's been missing because it was something I was so "used to" being there that I overlooked it. I hope I can find it. It's detached once or twice before because the jump ring that holds it on separates - I probably need to get a new one. (And I admit the slightly superstitious part of me wonders if finding it will maybe make me start feeling better, or make things start going better).

It's possible it's in a jeans pocket of something I wore recently but haven't washed yet, also. But I hope I find it.

I've also lost the tiny mirror I used to keep in my office for when I was wearing lipstick and needed to reapply it. I suspect that is just buried somewhere and hopefully I find it soon (and anyway, I was much less attached to that and I have another little mirror out of one of the Doki Doki boxes I carry in my purse now)

And it's Tuesday

And I'm tired of 2016 and what it's been doing.

A friend is facing what I am assuming is back surgery.

My sister-in-law - I just found this out last night - did something to her knee. She was carrying her daughter (who at 3 1/2 is probably getting a bit big to be carried comfortably) and she "turned funny," and now her knee is swollen and painful.

Still no word on a budget, 10 days from the start of the new fiscal year. I am fully expecting to have to accept a sizable pay cut.

(Though that might be because I'm a Generation X-er. I read somewhere a short summary of someone's stereotypes of the various generations and the comment was that Gen X was the first generation that assumed they won't see the generous federal (or state, or private-pension) programs their parents did, and my reaction was, "yeah, that's pretty much right." I think a lot of gen-xers are deep down slight pessimists, at least about money, because at least the oldest of us remember the 1970s, and lines to buy gas, and thermostats-turned-down-in-winter, and "No, there isn't money for that toy you want" and doing "staycations" before they were given a cute name and we also see - and I suppose some of us are parents of, and so are to blame - kids throwing tantrums in the Target because they are told, "No, I'm not going to buy you a toy this time, you got one last time" and we remember being kids and getting toys at Christmas and our birthdays and mmmmmaybe if we saved up our allowance for MONTHS and got someone to drive us to the toy store, we were allowed to buy one, but other than that, no, no random toys-just-because. Or maybe that was just my family.)

And my favorite restaurant was burglarized last night; the worst that happened was damage to the doors and cash register; they say no money was taken but it makes me sad: it's a small business run by a couple, they have good food, and.....I don't know, it just bugs me.

It does seem crime is going up here. Granted, most of the violent crime is drug-related or otherwise involves circumstances that would not lead to me being involved in it (i.e., it's not random crime on innocent citizens) but still, it's distressing.

Part of what bugs me about the last three items is my wondering if that is part of an ongoing "push" that I need to think about moving on. I don't WANT to move. I have a lot of responsibilities here I don't want to drop (but then again, if my congregation folds - which is a real possibility in the next couple years - that's one set of responsibilities gone). It just feels like everything is getting worse....more crime, fewer nice things, what nice things we do having being damaged....maybe this is true everywhere now and we're just going through a bad period as a culture, I don't know.

I don't know where I'd go or what I'd do. I could see moving back closer to my parents to be able to help them if that became necessary BUT I'd have to get out of academia, or else manage to land a job at a private school, because Illinois' funding for higher ed is even more broken than my state's.

I dunno. The year's not quite half over and I'm just tired.

One thing, which is a good thing but which still brought up a lot of feelings: Sunday was Margaret's birthday. She is the woman who had GI surgery back in January and has had some serious episodes since. She just got home from her latest round in the hospital, but wasn't well enough to come to church. So one of the people got her on speakerphone and we all sang "Happy Birthday" to her....
I was the person standing at the lectern doing announcements and it caught me by surprise, and I had to fight to keep from tearing up a little. I can't even really explain how I felt. On the one hand, yes, I'm happy she's doing better and is home. But I'm still sad she's dealing with this and has had this enormous change in her life. And there was some of the leftover sadness/worry/whatever from those two times where it looked unlikely she would make it. But part of it was just being tired of seeing people I care about having medical problems.

And now it's time to get dressed and get ready for a day of teaching. All I can do is keep on keepin' on, but I'm tired and I want to hear some good news soon, and I mean big good news, not some human-interest story about someone finding their lost dog, something that will materially make the world a better place and not just for one family.

And I DO try to make the world around me a better place, as much as I can. I try to do my best at my job no matter what I'm being paid, because I'm there for the students. And I try to generally be a kind and supportive person - shoot, I try to put all those Elements of Harmony into play (though I can't really wield "magic" and some days "laughter" also escapes me. At least I can be honest and loyal and kind and generous...) But what I can do is so small.  And that's what gets me down, that feeling of spitting at a fire to try to put it out.

Monday, June 20, 2016

working on stuff

I want to start the new stuffies sometime soon but decided I really needed to finish something first, and also maybe do a little bit on one of the three sweaters I have going.

I worked a lot this weekend on what I am calling the "Party Cannon" socks (The pattern is called Flamethrower, and the yarn colorway is Bonbons Pyramide, and I am a fan of MLP:FiM, so it was kind of an organic progression, and anyway, I like the idea of a party cannon that shoots confetti better than a flamethrower* anyway)

(*With the possible exception of a Weed Dragon, which isn't really a flame thrower as much as it is a small torch on a stick that you can use to burn off weeds. Except, much of the year here, that would not be allowed, because dry. But it would be so much better than chemicals! More final, plus no chemical exposure and no chemicals getting washed into the storm drains. And you can see right away that that grass growing in your sidewalk cracks is going away)

I'm up to the heel flap on the second sock and fear I may be playing a bit of "yarn chicken" with these. I THINK I will have enough but that ball is getting smaller pretty fast. I TRIED to match the socks by winding off a bit of the yarn when I started the second one (I kept it, it's somewhere, so I could use if for the toe if I had to). The sad thing is I got off-kilter somehow and the socks won't match, though it's maybe less noticeable on these than it is on some.

I'm also almost up to the point of dividing for the front and back shoulder sections of Raven, but I will have to put another row counter into use for that one (Okay, one reason I need to finish some stuff? Most of my row counters are in-use on other projects. And I can't just pop down to the yarn/quilt shop any more and get one BECAUSE THAT SHOP CLOSED. And Voldemart doesn't carry such things*, so I'd either need to mail order one, or wait until my next Sherman trip, or.....I suppose I could use a pencil and paper, which is what people did before row counters were common, but given how my house is a black hole for paper....)

(*Which tells me that the claim some make, "If Wal-Mart doesn't sell it, you don't need it" is an insidious lie. They also don't sell much in the way of books other than glurgy "inspirationals" and self-help books and the currently-popular Teen Dystopia novel. I suppose you could claim "For Some Values of 'Need'" but then we get onto a slippery slope of telling people what they should and should not have in their lives...)

What I really need to do is make a schedule and finish all the half-finished things on the needles, or, failing that, pull some things off and rip them back until such time as I find a more suitable pattern. Or just finish some things - like a hat I decided I didn't like that well - and save them for the next call for donation somewhere goes out. (If I don't like something because of the way the colors worked up, that doesn't mean there won't be someone who really likes it)

Starting stuff is fun. Finishing stuff is fun. It's the intermediate slog that gets tiresome, when it feels like that thing will never be finished.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Friday wrap-up

I did go and do grocery (and other) shopping yesterday. I discovered that Books a Million is apparently discontinuing (or maybe just are for the summer - they've done that before) the British knitting magazines I like. Luckily JoAnn's still carries at least Simply Knitting, so I can get it there. (But I kind of feel like the point of selling a magazine on a newsstand is ALWAYS to sell it.... but stores around here are annoying that way, they carry stuff for a while and then randomly drop it)

I also bought some brown and black acrylic, and a tiny horse-head applique. I had the idea for a Horsey McHorseface (there is a racehorse named that, riffing on the Boaty McBoatface bit) done in the style of the G4 ponies I make....and when I saw the applique I knew it had to be. (the backstory: Horsey is a stallion, but he is a sprinter - after all, wouldn't racehorses in the Equestrian world be like track and field stars - so he is smaller and lighter than other stallions and is closer in size to the mares.)

I also bought some peach and turquoise yarn and half have the idea of making the "Elinor Dashwood" pony that I dreamed about a while back. (I have oddly specific dreams and a very vivid memory, I know). The peach yarn was just too pretty to pass up....

I also stopped in at Tuesday Morning. Usually when I do I don't find anything I want (but you never know) but this time I found a few clearanced of those "POP ponies" - these are the ones where you can change out the manes and tails and things like wings. I bought one - Spitfire. I wasn't in to the whole line when it came out but I kind of like the Spitfire.

Because of this

spitfire

"My, my Spitfire......have you had wing enhancements?"

(She also comes with little yellow "regular" wings, and an odd pair of pink princess-esque wings. I  guess the idea was you had to buy multiple sets to get all the parts?)

I also realized that I never photographed the little dragon I made over break. So here is "Strawberry":

strawberry


You can see how tiny she is. She's made off the "Darby the Dragon" pattern that is on Ravelry. I had bought the yarn (the colorway is called something like Strawberry Surprise) before deciding on a pattern and finally found this one that I wanted to make. (Sometimes I just find a wild variegated yarn I want to make a toy out of).

She also goes well with Buttercup, a dragon I made a long time ago:

two dragons

I now imagine that Buttercup is her slightly-older cousin (but not so much older that it isn't still fun to play with her).

Buttercup's pattern is from Lucy Collin; Strawberry's is from Emily Turner. (I checked that because I was curious in case the same person had made both patterns).

I also had my own personal little movie night last night - I had bought Zootopia when it came out but hadn't got around to watching it. In general, I liked it: like many kids' movies, there are "issues" introduced (here: the ones of prejudice and also "are there groups that are biologically prone to violence?" and also the interesting question of what happens when there are two opposing "tribes," one of which is more numerous but the other of which is arguably more powerful/physically stronger). In some places I admit the message felt a tiny bit heavy-handed but I think the ending saved the movie from cynicism.

I think the best thing about the movie is the backgrounds. The backgrounds were incredibly beautifully rendered (especially the rainforest) and, at least from what I saw of them, were accurate - the rainforest, for example, was multilayered, with lots of animals living in the treetops. 

(Also, it really should have been called "Mammaltopia" - not a bird or a herptile* in evidence)

(*Amphibians and reptiles are sometimes lumped together as "herptiles")

Also, more than recent Disney cartoons I remember, it makes some pretty obvious references to pop culture - The Godfather and Breaking Bad. (Though there was one Frozen joke I was not expecting, and laughed out loud when it happened)

The voice cast was *mostly* people that did not make me go "oh, he's that guy from that thing" - most of them were people I didn't recognize. I knew Shakira was Gazelle, and I had suspected Idris Elba was the chief of police, but most of the rest I didn't recognize (Well, Tommy Chong - whose voice is pretty unmistakable, has a minor role, but I couldn't tell if it was him or someone trying, like, really HARD, man, to sound like him).

Also the actor who voiced the real Stanford Pines (from "Gravity Falls") and who also is the "professor" on those Farmer's Insurance commercials was the mayor, but it was more for me "That voice is familiar" than "Oh, it's that guy."

Fun fact: a "bellwether" is a real thing; it's a castrated male sheep who usually "led" a flock; a bell was often placed around his neck. ("Bellwether" is also used metaphorically to mean something is an indicator; there was some stock-market analyst my dad used to watch on tv who used the word a lot)

I didn't find the sloths nearly as funny as some people did, apparently, but then I WORK in a bureaucracy (And have spent pretty much my entire adult life in them) and so I have dealt with functionaries who seemed to function like sloths.

Also, a slight spoiler: there's a character I started off liking (because of who she was) but who did what TvTropes calls a "face-heel turn" towards the end, and I went "Ohhhh noooooo, [charactername]!"

Friday, June 17, 2016

crazy old world

Well, our heat advisory got extended so I think I'm going to write my Sunday School lesson this morning and then go shopping....I need to figure out an alternative for small "populations" to do mark-and-recapture (the local pet shop quit selling crickets, and I don't feel like buying crickets in Sherman and trying to keep them alive into next week, especially not keeping them alive in my hot car as I run other errands - I HAVE to do the grocery shopping last). I'm thinking small beads, and having the students sub in a different color bead for the "marked" individual.

(This idea has some precedent: I have read that Basque sheepherders arrange to put a certain number of black sheep per 100 white sheep in their herds, because they can quickly count the black sheep to see if the herd is more or less together)

Also, I just need to get out to JoAnn's to roam the aisles of craft supplies, which makes me feel better even if I don't need anything for myself.

And I don't want to shop at the wal-mart again this week. Because weird or bad things are happening at our local wal-marts:

1. one of the ones in North Texas, a woman was nearly sexually assaulted, in broad daylight, in the parking lot. (she fought back and screamed and apparently some people came to her aid and her attacker ran, but still)

2. There is apparently a bunch of guys roaming around with cell phone cameras trying to get into public restrooms that aren't closely monitored, and then filming women who are in there. One guy has been caught and if he's the guy, I hope the book is seriously thrown at him. (Conversation I had with a colleague back when cell phone cameras first came out: Me: "Who needs a camera on their *phone*?" Him: "Pervs." Though there are other good uses of it - if you're in a minor car accident, you can take photos right there and send it to your insurance agent. But still, there are too many pervs out there, and one is too many)

3. Some guy found a baggie of pot (! or so he claims, he found it) in the Ada wal-mart and he tried to get the crew at the service desk to call police, but they wouldn't. (I would not have picked something like that up, had I seen it: his prints are now on it. I'd be concerned about it being linked to me by some overzealous investigator even though everyone who knows me (including the local DA) know I am not that kind of person. And yeah, I get wanting to keep a child from running across it, but still: I have no interest in having to prove to someone that I'm innocent.)

But yeah. The world has got a lot more uncomfortable of late and some of that seems focused on our local wal-marts. Granted, that kind of stuff can happen ANYWHERE but I have not heard of stuff like that at the Kroger's. (And the place I will probably stop, if I need to, for a public washroom, has one with a door that locks.)

I dunno. The summer crazies are starting way too early, along with the summer heat.

Also, a lot of hay is being made on local news about the bankruptcy of the Hastings' chain and how the stores will all close "if a buyer is not found." Hastings is one of the two bookstore outlets near me - the local used-book store closed, I'm pretty sure the used-book store in Denison closed...there is a small store in Ardmore called The Bookseller (I *think* they are still in business), but still....

I will say in my opinion Hastings has gone far down in quality since I first visited one; the stores I've been in lately seem grubby and ill-kept up. I THINK I heard that they had been sold a few years back, and at the time I heard that I thought, "That's about when they started to decline." But still, it makes me concerned to see more and more outlets failing. (Borders, not that I ever had one near me, is long gone. The paperback exchange in my downtown is gone. Hancock Fabrics is gone, the little quilt shop in my town is gone). And yeah, I get that most people don't read "physical books" any more but I kind of need places that aren't work or church to go....otherwise I hide in my house and become more and more hermit-like. 

(There is still Books a Million in Sherman, and that's usually my go-to place when I want to browse books, but now I guess it will be the only place short a trip to Ardmore or even farther (I think McKinney has a Half-Price Books, but McKinney is awfully far))


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday afternoon things

* Interesting in-lab occurrence: I used the word "spigot" to refer to an outdoor water faucet (like you would attach a hose to) and at least one of the students did not know the word. And this is someone who is a good, well-rounded student. So now I'm wondering:

- American regionalism? (I am from the upper Midwest, many of my older relatives were influenced by Canadian English)
- Generational thing? (I am Gen-X but was raised by Silent Gen parents and my grandparents were....I don't know? Some of them were born at the very end of the 1800s, so I don't know what generation that is, and the student is 22)
- A word more commonly used in British English and I just read too many British books?

The funny thing was when she asked for an explanation, I had to struggle and finally said "outdoor water tap." (I am tired - Thursdays are gosh awful long days - and it is hot and humid here and I slept badly last night so my brain is set on "slow")

* My dad apparently fell again yesterday. He has one knee that buckles under him at times (the one he had operated on, too). It SOUNDS like he wasn't hurt too badly (landed on an elbow and his back, didn't hit his head) but still I do worry slightly. (He did not want my mom to tell me because "she'll worry" but I need to know these things). As both falls took place sort of in the same place, I am now lobbying my mom to get a handrail installed there. (And dangit, if I had known when I was up there? I would have tracked the construction guy down myself and paid for it if that was what it took).

I'll see if they call tonight with an update, otherwise I figure no news means it's nothing big.

* That's partly why I slept so badly last night. 2016 needs to stop beating up on people I care about.

* And I have a dilemma. I need to spend one "weekend" day in here laboring on my poster. It can be Friday or Saturday. Both days have advantages and drawbacks. The other day I decided I AM going to Sherman as I need a couple little lab supplies that the JoAnn's (yes) can supply, and also I just need to get out of town for a bit. (There is No New Pony Saturday - it's hiatus time - so that's not a consideration)

The pros of shopping Friday, working Saturday: I will be more rested Saturday after a day off. The stores may be less crowded. I feel like I need a break. If anything goes very wrong with my car (a worry in this extreme heat) getting help may be more of an option.

The cons: they turn down/off the AC in the building on weekends so Friday will be hot but Saturday may be hotter. If I come in and work Friday, then I can go shopping with a completely clear conscience. And we have a heat advisory that will be on tomorrow but MAY be lifted Saturday. Heat wears me out like nothing else.There's a church movie night (they are traveling to Sherman for it) Friday night and I admit it's a movie I'm not interested in seeing ("You before me") and it seems "easier" to me to give regrets (if anyone asks, this was an opt-in thing) by saying "I worked all day and I"m beat"


(I would TOTALLY go if they were going to the new "Jungle Book," but as it's entirely adults, I guess they're not interested in seeing a "kids'" movie. I want to see the new "Jungle Book" sometime - I've heard it's good and also Bill Murray as Baloo.....)

I may just wait and see how I feel first thing tomorrow, I don't know.

oh it's hot

We're under a heat advisory. Well, some counties to the north of us have a heat WARNING which is worse.

It's very humid, that's much of it. Dewpoints in the 70s which is getting in the "downright painful" range. (And my hives are back, apparently my body really dislikes humidity).

Anyway. The local weather guy is sometimes prone to use kind of odd syntax for things, and this morning he commented 'The heat and humidity will work over your body a bit" and of course the phrase "work over" makes me think of a cartoon mobster going "hand over da money or else!" while his goons punch someone.

Or something like this





Though it looks there like Bart is complying.

Maybe more like this:




or like this:





So I don't know. I was thinking of going to Sherman for some shopping either tomorrow or Saturday but I have a horror of my car overheating (it never has, and the fluids are all up to date, but still I worry) so I don't know if I will. It's kind of a trapped feeling.

(Which is also enhanced by the fact that of the three bridges across the Red that allow me to get to Texas, one has a lot of construction close to it and traffic is super slow, another had *chunks fall out of the bridge deck last summer* and may actually be closed, and the third would put be about 30 miles east of where I actually want to be. So my feeling of cabin fever is starting extra early this year.

And before you ask, no: there is no good grocery shopping near me that doesn't involve driving to Texas. I searched Google Maps for grocery stores and it would take driving to McAlester or practically to OKC to find something better than a small place or a wal-mart.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pillow Talk photos

just a quick post as I need to practice piano and I mmmmmay try working out this afternoon as I feel more able to breathe, but here is the before and after on Pillow Talk:

Before:

who is this??? (free pony)

After:

Pillow Talk "display side"

She's still an off-color (she is supposed to be lilac but looks grey, almost a greige) BUT her symbols are brighter and she is cleaner. I think the biggest change is how her tail went from frizzy to smooth - that was just conditioner, careful combing, and arranging it to dry in a smooth curl.

And for fun, the "non-dominant side" (I guess "NDS" stands for "non-display side" in the Pony collector world, but I think of "non-dominant," like "non-dominant hand")

Pillow Talk "non dominant side"

Her hair has also faded - that white stripe was originally green, I guess. (ETA: maybe not, a lot of the photos show her with that white section at the back.)

Looking for better

And yeah, I get that some of those things (and some of the other things making me sad) also have their good sides.

One big one: I feel kind of lonely and at loose ends because many of my colleagues are not around. But that is because I *genuinely like* my colleagues and enjoy talking to them when they are around, so I miss it when they're off doing the things people who don't teach summers do. It would be much worse if I were like, "oh thank goodness, it's such a relief not to have my colleagues around for the summer"

And also: my breathing is better, I think the monteleukast kicked in for the day. Which tells me that even though my hives have been less* I still need to take it.

(*This is because I quit taking a medication - NOT the blood pressure one, another one, one I had taken for years for some - uh - female issues, and which I suspected was contributing to the monthly stomach problems. With my gyn's blessing, I quit taking it in May, and have discovered (a) the stomach issues are far less and (b) the hives seem to be fewer and are much more 'traceable,' as in "Oh, I went out and worked in the garden and now I have hives on my wrists" and less "OMB, WHY DO I HAVE HIVES I WAS INDOORS ALL DAY YESTERDAY."

That said: I do still also have to avoid Red 40, learned that the hard way when I bought a "snack cake" that I didn't realize had it in until I got some stomach cramps and went and looked at the wrapper)

In fact, I am back to pretty much eating normally. (The downside? I think I regained the several pounds I lost during the ongoing bouts of stomach upset - my weight was the lowest it's been in about 10 years at the gyn appointment. Then again, that puts another worry that cropped up to rest: 'what if that weight loss means you have cancer?' though I think I'd be a lot sicker if I did and see more than just a 5-pound drop in weight)

And my annoyance at some people (not you, Purlewe) retweeting stuff, or just the general "life philosophy summed up as a bumper sticker" things - well, that's a side effect of freedom of speech and if we were in a super repressive society where the Internet were turned off (and please God, let no one consider that a *good* idea to prevent things like, I don't know, hateful rhetoric influencing people, though I could see someone taking that step. When no one has free will, everyone is perfectly obedient....)

And with the annoying TSET ads, I can flip the channel, just like I do when a particular candidate is being shown speaking. (Depending on November's outcome, I will likely spend a great deal of the next four years watching only cartoons, "Untold Stories of the ER," and cooking shows).

And yeah, I have no control over the weather and it's unpleasant and I just have to live through it. And similarly I have no control over the not-knowing about the budget and that's unpleasant and I just have to live through it. (Though I would like some stability in my life; we have a good interim guy at church but he can only stay till the end of the summer, so we will either need to find a permanent, or more likely, another interim. And that makes me unsettled and unhappy because church and work are the two big important things in my life)

And as for shopping: I have the internet and yeah, I got the e-mail yesterday that "Boaty McBoatface" pony is on the way to me. And I have tons of books that I need to read - I could open my own bookstore though I would only have one copy of everything. But I do still wonder at the vape shops: are they banking, maybe, on pot being legalized nationwide so they can turn into whatever you would call a head shop under a situation where pot was legal? (And I still wouldn't shop there; that's something I have zero interest in trying)

And I did give Pillow Talk a cleaning last night. I had read on the pony preservation site that OxyClean is apparently safe to use and works well. So I took the OxyClean I had for treating clothing stains and one of the little cotton pads I use for makeup removal (they are kind of like cotton balls flattened out and "quilted" so they don't fuzz) and saturated it and wiped her all over and then used another to 'rinse'. (I didn't want to dunk her in water lest it got inside her). I won't say it was "miraculous" - that would take her old color being restored and she's still sort of a fadey grey instead of lilac - but she looks very much better now, much brighter and what I thought was "pindot" or some other breakdown product was apparently just dirt. And her body markings are much brighter and nicer - I guess they just had a film of dust over them.

And I dampened her hair and slathered cheap conditioner on it and used the comb off of one of my G4 ponies to gently comb it out, starting at the tips so I didn't yank out any hairs. Her tail is a lot less frizzy now....I left the mane and tail in a 'set" (tail wrapped around her leg, mane wrapped around her neck and held in place with one of my hair elastics) and will take them out this afternoon to see how they dried but I think she looks much less "baity*" now and more respectable.

(* "Bait" ponies are ones that are sufficiently damaged or in poor enough condition that a collector feels justified doing extensive restoration work or turning them into a "custom" job with different hair or something).

And yeah, again: I know. The world is burning down around me, it seems, but oddly I am taking a certain amount of joy from cleaning up a 30-year-old toy, a stupid plastic pony. I can't explain it but somehow I felt happier and better after the little restoration work I did on her. (I have done a tiny bit of furniture restoration - mostly refinishing/cleaning the old finish - and it gave me a similar joy. I can't quite explain it.....maybe, taking something that is slightly trashed and through care (and caring about it) making it better?) As much as I have any maternal feelings I tend to expend them on things like my ponies.

I should photo her tonight after I let her hair out of the elastics to see how it did. I do think her tail, which was really frizzy, will be greatly improved. I may also send a photo to the seller to thank her and also let her know my package arrived.

(And yeah, now I can see myself haunting resale shops for really dirty trashed ponies to see who I can make pretty again. It's ridiculous how satisfying I find that)

too much misery

Seriously considering just leaving twitter. Or maybe unfollowing a ton of people because there's way too much pointiness and anger and wild political speculation, even from folks who were originally apolitical. (And I wish sometimes there were two features: one, "Don't show me any tweets with this particular word in it" and "don't show me any retweets from people I don't follow). Also frustrated at the "conspiracy theories" that have been spun up ("The guy did it because he was secretly gay and propositioned someone at the club who turned him down"). I tend to operate under Ockham's Razor: what is the simplest explanation that fits? And some of the things on offer aren't that simple.... Of course, from my own perspective, I say "He gave in to the temptation of great evil (to kill people whose lives were totally separate from his and who had not harmed him in any way)" but it seems "evil" isn't a popular word these days. (And I know, there is an impulse to try to understand what made the person tick, I think because ordinary people want to reassure themselves, "I could never do something so awful." I remember doing that myself during the Amy Bishop case.)

We're under a heat advisory. I opined yesterday that I was surprised how OK I felt but I don't feel OK this morning - even in an air conditioned house (though I have turned the temperature up to avoid overworking the unit) with a dehumidifier going, I am having some minor breathing distress. (I also slept badly). Not gonna try working out today, I think the effort of standing and teaching will be physically stressful enough.

Also am distressed over the lack of a budget so far for fall; I need to start planning if I face a large pay cut - plan to live without cable or a landline phone and do some serious cutbacks in how I buy food. I get that the powers that be that make this budget are probably flailing and struggling because the state just released its budget (and higher ed took another hit) but we really do need information; I deal badly with situations where I don't have enough data to make an informed decision. (And some people may want to start looking for new jobs. I'm not there yet; owning a house outright is a powerful inducement to stay put, but if my department starts to empty out if people go elsewhere I might consider it).

And I'm annoyed at TSET or whoever spends their money. This is the fund that apparently came from suing the tobacco companies. But they've repurposed that money to sugar-shame: there is a series of ads that essentially say "if you drink anything other than water, you're an idiot, because every other beverage has lots of sugar." Granted, I almost never drink anything other than water, milk, or unsweetened tea, and I know the ads aren't aimed at me but this is the whole "I'm a freaking grown-up, let me choose what I want to drink!" issue. And I wonder what they're going to start shaming us for next? Also, I vaguely remember a plan to use some of the TSET money for something else a while back (maybe rural health care?) and the argument was made that no, it was JUST for educating about the dangers of tobacco use....

I also find myself wondering....vape shops must be enormously profitable. Every tiny town I drove through on Saturday had one. It makes me slightly sad as there's little in the way of places in my town I want to shop at (the bookstore closed, the quilt shop closed) and I wish there were more shopping options available to me. (And I suppose, though, vape-shopping isn't "fun" shopping, but still, I look at the shops and go "I wish people felt that way about bookstores and every little town had one")

I hope it gets less hot soon. I'm not even gonna say "cools down" because it won't cool down enough for me now until October or so.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Days are long

* The current dewpoint is 77 F. I'm frankly surprised I'm not more miserable - I can breathe okay, but I am getting something not unlike sciatica that stretches from my lower back down my right leg. I suspect, given the timing of its onset, it's from standing too long on a concrete floor. (Well, tile, but a think layer of tile over concrete). Hopefully a warm shower will fix it because I'm still afraid to take NSAIDs given my stomach issues (which are mostly better now but once bitten, twice shy)

* We have a Heat Advisory tomorrow and Thursday because of the sheer level of humidity - apparently all the rain we got a while back is slowly returning to the atmosphere but deciding to hang around in the air for a while first. They are threatening heat indices of 106 tomorrow. At least for me it's a lecture-only day, so I can wear one of my thin light little dresses and not have to worry about spilling chemicals on it or something.

* And yeah, every single one of the soil test chemicals that comes in powder form has clumped, as have many of the granulated spices (especially the granulated garlic) I use at home. Really not a fan of humidity.

* I wonder how long before brownouts become an issue? I need to do laundry but I guess I wait and do a load or two later in the evening rather than right as I get home.

* I am alarmed that it is this hot this early in the summer. Not looking forward to August, when I will be here full-time (not traveling) and will be trying to do SOME research that involves a field component.

* Also I think people are getting angry easier and earlier. Recently I had do "soothe" (ugh) someone who was stomping around and griping about something that happened to him that was an accident where another person just kind of derped - it sounds like the kind of thing that sometimes just happens when someone is tired. Anyway, he was stomping around complaining about how "all Oklahomans are stupid" and I was like dude, you were born here and you have lived here far longer than I have so chill a little.

I mean, I get it - I could see myself spinning up some Righteous Anger over someone derping but often when I realize that's what happened I can get my emotions to stand down.

But yeah. Am not up for being a people-soother this summer. I don't know why I so often wind up in that role. I did not become a mother, in part, because I tend to run out of patience for things like complaining or attention-neediness at inopportune times.

* I need to knit something. I've been dinking around too much on the Internet when at home in the evening and not actually DOING anything that seems productive.

* Also I wind up spending money maybe I should not spend. I found, in an Etsy shop, a Big Brother pony for a "reasonable" price (he is missing his hat and scarf, but I'm okay with that and I might even see if I could bash up a little replacement hat for him out of felt or something). It is "Salty," the sailor pony, who has a boat (like a little cabin cruiser) as his butt symbol.

But I'm changing his name. Oh yes I am. Because when I saw the photo, my brain went "It's Boaty McBoatface" and I couldn't resist buying him and doing the name change. (I wanted a boy pony for my herd anyway. I HAVE to, HAVE to get a shelf to hold them now)

* I also did a tiny trial-wash of the FREE PONY. Part of her problem is just plain old grime; she will look better after she's had a bath and had her hair done. She'll never be true-color again; the lilac she is supposed to be has faded and there are a few speckles that might be what they call "pin dot" (None of these toys were meant to last, and honestly it's kind of amazing they have. I know someone once talked about how "they" should make a biodegradable Barbie and I was like "Won't someone think of the collectors?" (or: "won't someone think of just the sentimental people who want to hang onto a childhood toy?"). Some of the collector blogs speak of "pony cancer" which is a designation that makes me twitch because I know too many people who have had real, genuine, person-cancer and it seems....dismissive? to call the incipient chemical breakdown of plastic by that name. (There are also "age spots" on some ponies which is what I think this one has. I don't mind that designation; that seems more benign).

* I wonder if any chemical engineers have devoted any study to the changes that take place in old plastics and what those changes are. And even things like how coloration of items change - I said yesterday that I liked the old yellow ponies because they seemed to hold their color well (a lot of the white ones get dingy, and some of the other colors - like this lilac - can fade). I wonder what dyes are used and how they differ? (Apparently there has been at least some anecdotal research by fans: MLP Preservation Project has a lot of stuff. Apparently some of the issues are bacteria getting into the vinyl? Ick, and I didn't even know that there was enough "stuff" in vinyl bacteria could "eat." (then again, stale coffee will grow mold....)

(Actually, that whole site is fascinating to me. I love the idea of being able to repair and renovate stuff. On another page they talk about how to re-dye the "fugitive pink" hair that was used on some ponies like Posey. I am lucky in that my Posey still has pink hair, but the Up, Up, and Away I have, I thought she was made with white hair? Apparently it was originally pink.  No, I'm not going to try to dye it, I kind of like it in its current shade).

Actually, I like some of the imperfections I've seen in the ponies I own. It reminds me that we're all imperfect but we're also still worthy of love. I've talked before about how I'm one of the "dreaded unboxers" and I could not see, for example, spending $70 for a pony still on its card - it's like buying "collector" wine, you can only hang on to it to sell to the next person, you can't ENJOY it. I'd rather have my $10 and $15 not-quite-perfect ponies that I can hold and pose and enjoy than something that's so mint I'd be afraid to breathe on it.

And yeah, I think the "none of us is perfect but we are still worthy of love" is something I (with my tendency towards self-criticism and perfectionism) needs to be reminded of. I saw this last night and at first I laughed - because really, finding that in a grocery store* would be really funny, but then it made me think:





"Not the best/But still good"

Because really, I think that's a realistic goal, which is better than an unrealistic one.


(*If it's not Photoshop, which I kind of suspect it is)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ponies, yarn, books

That was the title of a post I was thinking of writing earlier, but first, some photos:

These are the "giveaway" items. Not a great photo but maybe you get the idea what they are like. Again, if you want any (or all) of these, drop me an e-mail. First person gets them and if no one asks within a few days maybe I'll put it up on one of the Rav boards I belong to to see if anyone wants them. (Or maybe post on Twitter - I think at least one person who follows me is into Vocaloid)

giveaways

Top left is the eyeball barette. Top right is the zipper bracelet. Bottom is the Vocaloid/Hatsune Miko lanyard. (Hatsune Miko is on one side and other Vocaloid characters are on the other).

And here's another item I made over break:

moomintroll

Moomintroll! (And Bee, if you're reading this - this is the pattern in the magazine you sent me, I FINALLY got around to making him). I used an acrylic yarn rather than the recommended cotton because I'm not fond of crocheting on a dk or larger weight cotton yarn.

You can probably see about how big he is there but he is a nice, huggable size. This photo is blurry (I took it one-handed) and I kind of have a thousand-yard stare*, but you can see how he's a nice size:

hugging moomin

*Heh, my expression almost reminds me of some of the old propaganda posters some countries would put out, where the Happy Workers are staring towards the future as they labor on the farm.

And then, Ponies:

My newest ponies came today. The "bonus" the seller said she was including (because the order was delayed was a big surprise. I was expecting something like a magnet or some kind of little tchotcke but it was this:

who is this??? (free pony)

She's a tiny bit grubby and stained (but worth giving a bath to and maybe applying a Magic Eraser to - some of the pony blogs recommend that). I don't even know who she is! One of the twice-as-fancies, maybe? The copyright year is 1987.

(Oh! Pillow Talk. She's not actually grey, she's just a very faded lilac. Okay then. I'm gonna try giving her a bath to see if that helps any. But even if it doesn't: free pony! And yeah, her name is kind of hilarious to me given that I know the "grown up" meaning of "pillow talk")

And here are the ones I ordered:

Bouncy and Tappy
 
bouncy and tappy

I mmmmmmay try washing Tappy's hair with a bit of conditioner to see if I can get it smoother. (She was a decent price and I knew the hair wasn't perfect).
(ETA: maybe not. The MLP wikia shows her in "original state" with a funny poofy curl like her hair has, so maybe not washing it is better)

Bouncy I wanted specifically because she was a First Tooth Pony, see?

bouncy tooth

Knowing what I know of horse dentition that is hilariously wrong, but it's cute and amusing. And there is something kind of endearing about the First Tooths. (Teeth?)  She's so little and cute.

(In the G1 ponies, the yellow ponies are my favorites; they seem to hold their color the best. I have more yellow ponies than any other color.)

So anyway. Lots of bad stuff going on in the world (I don't know if it's over yet but apparently University of Toronto wound up on lockdown because of an armed "bad guy" spotted on campus, and of course there's the continuing issue of Orlando). I reposted on Twitter a photo that Webs posted, because as I said, "looking at pictures of pretty yarn makes me feel better about the world." And it does. I know it's a very self-absorbed thing but it  does help me.

Also ponies....I spent some time yesterday looking at pictures of Ponies, especially on Etsy. Didn't order any as I know I had these on the way to me and also I am waiting for "just the perfect" unicorn to be the other "adult" unicorn in my herd. (I have a Baby Glory). (I did also look at the Mountain Boys - an only-Europe release of male ponies which were pretty cool, but of course the prices on them were more than I could or would pay)

And books - I started J. Jefferson Farjeon's "Thirteen Guests" the other day. It's another one of those Golden Era mystery novels (a whole lot of the less-famous-author ones are being republished, which makes me tremendously happy, because I love these novels). This one involves a young man who is slightly injured while debarking from a train, and who is then taken to a big country house (where he knows no one) to recover because apparently his ankle is messed up enough that he must stay off it. I'm not very far in but it promises to be good. I really liked "Mystery in White," another one of Farjeon's (set at Christmastime, and ever so slightly creepy in the old ghost-stories-at-Christmas mode).

(Oh, and if his name is slightly familiar? His sister, Eleanor, wrote a lot of children's novels that were pretty well known even when I was growing up. And she wrote the words to this):



I always associate that with a folkie style and I wondered how it sounded sung by a church choir or something like that.... here's a version by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir:



And yarn, ponies, and books are three things that make me happy. And you can mix them up and put them together:

books and ponies (either Twilight Sparkle, or my own Folio, or even Rainbow Dash, who was shown reading and trying to ignore Fluttershy's brother in a recent episode)

yarn and ponies (I am thinking about "which Pony do I want to crochet next?" I am torn between doing the Trixie I bought  a pattern for and a G4-ized Minty off of the old familiar pattern I've used a lot. I also want to do a Sunburst at some point but that will require more thought to do the alterations to add a horn and do the hair and beard. I think his "forehead blaze" will have to be felt....I could also see doing more "G1 to G4" versions, like a Bubbles** or a Up Up and Away (who has the most unusual color scheme of any of the ponies I own))

books and yarn....I can read and knit at the same time provided it is a simple thing I am knitting....

(**Though really, it could be argued that Derpy is Bubbles brought into G4, given her cutie mark)

I had my eye check up today. My prescription has not changed enough for me to justify buying new glasses. (Insurance pays for nearly all of the exam but only part of the glasses). My eyes are also healthy, which is a relief. I had remarked to the person doing the intake testing that I noticed bright lights seemed to give me a longer "afterimage" than I should have and everyone was slightly concerned by that (the doctor said that could be an indicator of the beginnings of macular degeneration) so he decided to do a "challenge test" where he shined a (painfully) bright light into each eye in succession, and then had me look at the chart and tell how soon I could read it again.

Normal is 30 seconds or less. It took me 20 seconds. So I guess what seemed really long for my eyes to recover isn't. (But still. I am very sensitive to bright lights but kind of have always been. One reason why I always wear sunglasses when it's bright out)

Early Monday Morning

* That Saturday trip kind of ate my weekend. I didn't have a lot of energy to do much after church Sunday. The biggest thing was to go out and cut a bunch of blackberry (it's a wild plant and doesn't make good fruit, but is super invasive) and other weeds out of my side yard. I did this because the city included with everyone's water bill this month a list of what constitutes code violations ("tall weeds" are one, though most of my yard is better than my neighbors' on that front) and I just don't want to do that tango of getting written up again.

Also, with trash pick up today I could put some of the more noxious stuff (the so-called honeyvine, which has a stinky sap and also will spread like wildfire if you don't keep cutting it out) in the trash cart. Brush pickup isn't for a couple more weeks but I went ahead and stacked the branches I cut in the usual place; I don't think you get in trouble for that.

* One of the things that distresses me about adult life is the sheer amount of "maintenance" required: you have to exercise nearly every day if you want to be in good shape. You have to check your various account balances regularly to make sure nothing got messed up. If you have a yard, you either have to pay a person or you have to go out at least once a week and remove weeds and mow and do stuff like trim hedges.

* I also went out and worked because I was sick of the news. I watched some of the reports because I still labor under the delusion that an adult needs to know what's going on in the world, but I got so sickened by the political spin that was spinning up in re: the Orlando nightclub shooting. I dunno. When something like this happens and I see the various bits of political spin and the like, I think of the old story about the blind men and the elephant: someone is grabbing the leg and going "It's a tree!," someone else is feeling of the side and going, "No, it's a wall!".... It's a terrible thing that happened and there are going to be a lot of people mourning someone they loved. And that's the main thing that strikes me, and also the fact that there are a lot of people who feel unsafe now (though in the world, with how it is now, there aren't really any of us who are safe....I know this all too well working on a college campus)

 (And though for reasons I am not generally a fan of setting aside certain violent crimes in a separate class and calling them Hate Crimes - because really, the person who gets shot is no less dead if it was a random mugging than if he were targeted because he belonged to a particular group - if we're gonna call anything a hate crime, I think this qualifies.It's still early days but it turns out it may also qualify as terrorism...)

But yeah. I did shift at some point to cartoons.

* Dewpoints here are in the 70s, which is fairly miserable. I managed doing the brush cutting yesterday but did feel slightly dizzy and unwell for a bit after coming back in, and had a bout of shortness of breath, but that passed. (and it could have been asthma related: lots of grass pollen out there).

The upside is we are getting a little bit of rain (to the northwest of me they got lots), and normally this is when the rain shuts off for the summer, so every little bit helps. Also, it's supposed to be less hot but the humidity will be high, so that seems like a wash.

* The June Doki Doki box had the theme of "Harajuku Fashion" so it maybe it skews a bit young for me, and I have a couple things in it (which I will try to photograph later) I'd be willing to send off to someone who would use them:

- a green and orange "zipper" bracelet. It's fairly small, it just barely fits my wrist and I have slender wrists, and at any rate I'd never wear it.

-A hairclip/barette thing that is a bow with a fake blue eye on top of it (!) I guess "creepy cute" is a thing, this is that. Mmmmmmaybe I'd consider wearing it some hallowe'en but I doubt I'd remember to, and if someone has a young teen daughter/niece/granddaughter who would enjoy it, I'd rather pass it along.

- A Hatsune Miko/Vocaloid lanyard/key clip. I am not into this program (I guess it is a video game) but I know there are people out there who really love Hatsune Miko so I'd just as soon pass it along if someone wants it. (I thought it was an anime at first, that's how little I know about it)

Any of these things is small and could go in a puffy envelope so postage would be minimal and I'd like them to go to someone who might enjoy them. (First e-mail to me - address is on the sidebar - will get it. If no one here asks after a few days I might try posting on some of the Ravelry boards I frequent)

I did get some fun stuff: best thing was a blind-box Snoopy figure, the one I got is sky blue with little clouds on it. And a stuffed-toy "Hoppe chan." And a little hand towel - apparently in Japan paper towels in public bathrooms are rare, so people carry their own small hand towels? (One reason I enjoy this subscription service is that it's  chance to maybe learn a little about a culture different from mine).

Next month's box is "festivals" which should be fun, and also apparently they are promising one of the little Disney "tsum tsum" toys....the little plush toys are really my favorite things in the boxes. But it's just nice to have the box to look forward to, to know that sometime in the first week of the month you will get a box full of surprises, and at least one of those surprises is going to be something really good.