Thursday, July 20, 2017

Last night's play

I mentioned I was going to see Henry V.

I liked it, with a few reservations I'll note.

It was NOT a reset - it was a very minimal set (in keeping, I suppose, with the "you'll need to imagine this" theme of the play, as the Chorus points out.). The costumes were similarly minimal and didn't try to tie very much to any period -the English wore trousers, loose shirts, and vests; the French were a bit more formal/bit more luxurious fabrics (the French king had a stiff, almost smoking-jacket-like coat that looked like it was made of a quilted material).

Several parts were played by the same actor. In the case of minor parts, this was fine, but they had the same person playing Exeter (Henry's uncle) and MacMorris, and once or twice I was kind of "Wait, does he have the Exeter vest on, or the MacMorris one?....it's been a while since I read the play). Also as is typical for our Shakespeare, some of the male parts were actually women in trouser roles. (I think there are only four female characters in the entire play? The French queen, Princess Catherine, her maid, and Pistol's wife?)

The Chorus was played by a woman, and she did very well; she spoke clearly and at an appropriate tone. They had the actors mic'ed and sometimes that leads to problems if you're someone who is used to being LOUD for an un-mic'ed stage*. The person who played Henry was very loud. I do not know if that was partly intentional but I will say at times I had difficulty understanding him because he was loud and spoke fast and shouted a lot. (I think the shouting was intentional, as I'll discuss later)

(*I would probably not do well with a microphone; I learned to project from an early age (long story but my parents put me in drama classes as an 8-year-old to try to help me overcome some of my shyness) and I continue to do that for teaching even though the rooms I am in are fairly small. I also have a deepish voice for a woman.)

One thing they did that I liked - and a lot of stage productions of this may do it, I don't know - but during a battle scene towards they end, they used a fog machine and dimmed the lights (sort of a "fog of war" thing) and it made the stage-fighting less clearly, well, staged. (The actors had swords but you could tell from the audience they were not actual swords, though I suspect if you got hit upside the head with the broad side of one, it would still hurt).

Another thing they did - after the "day was won" by the English, and the accountings of the dead were made, all the English (well, the ones still standing) mourned their dead by singing (I think it was, I am not up on the Latin Mass) something in Latin. (I caught "Domine" and I think "sine nomine" but I didn't recognize the piece....). They did it a capella. Having known some people who could act but not sing, it was striking how good they were, and it was probably the most moving part of the play (and yes, I felt that familiar prickling at the back of my eyes)

One thing that struck me: I have read that Henry V can be viewed as either a glorification of war or as an indictment of it - "War is glory" vs. "War is hell" - depending on how it is played. I had only seen the Olivier movie version before (and read the play) and so I had seen more of the "war is glory" interpretation; this one went much more with the "war is hell" view. For one thing, Henry's anger at many points (over the insult of the tennis balls, for example) seemed over the top and you got the sense the character was being played as someone immature and perhaps a bit unstable. And even the "comic" "low-life" soldiers like Pistol and Bardolph, in their tavern scene, were much less funny and much more threatening (at one point in this production, they drew swords on each other: I can't remember if that was in the original stage directions). And as I said, Henry shouted a LOT, and you did get that sense of "this is someone with a hair-trigger temper and probably should not be king" (Though then again: Seeing it all through a modern eye....times were different then. I'm also reminded of that by how confused I got (again) by the whole "ransom" business. I know I looked it up when I read the play but it still is hard to grasp given a modern perspective).

Even the famous "Crispin's day" speech came across less as a call to responsibility and glory and more as the desperate words of someone trying to rally his troops (and maybe himself too) to a doomed mission.

It's also possible, of course, that I'm older and sadder and more cynical than I was when I first read the play several years ago. (But I think partly they did go with the "war is hell" version of it)

The funniest part, probably, was the scene with Katherine and her maid trying to teach Katherine a little English....hand and fingers (Fingres!) and nails and so forth. (And actually....there's more to it that I didn't catch. I didn't make the foot/"foutre" connection - "foutre," in French, is the translation of the big-baddie, mother-of-all-swear-words in English, though I have been told, the "f" word and the "s" word are used much more casually, and seen as much less "bad," than they are in English. I DO know in Canadian French, if you really want to curse, you use (literal) profanity - you profane religious things - though again, that may also have less of the impact it once had. (And yes, in English, for many people, the "Anglo-Saxonisms of four letters" have lost a lot of their punch because of frequent use. I still don't use them, because that's how I was brought up, and I do like being able to reserve a usage of the "s word" for a situation that truly calls for it, but I do know some people throw them around like confetti at a parade)

Also, when Henry wooed Katherine - it was funny, but he also played it a bit for "cringe value" - again, perhaps, keeping with the characterization of Henry as someone not entirely in control of himself.

The various "British Isles" soldiers (Fluellen, MacMorris, and Jamy) were less distinctive and played less broadly than I thought they would be. I don't know if that is some kind of modern "sensitivity" (though I admit, as someone whose primary ethnicity is Irish, I would not be insulted by someone doing a broad "bog Irish" accent on stage. I'm not even insulted by "Sgt. Schulz" German, and my secondary ethnicity is German...). Fluellen I could tell mainly by his copious use of "look you" (which is in the play dialog); he didn't seem to do the p-for-b and f-for-v substitutions Shakespeare wrote. And MacMorris - who was played by a professional actor (we get a couple of Equity actors on loan for the summer) DID do a bit of an accent, but not broad. Jamy was played by a student and I suspect he may not have been comfortable trying an accent (and also, he was African-American - so maybe was concerned about the idea of "guy doing a broad stereotypical accent" more than some would be).

I will say I wish they had done a bit more costume differentiation (the fellow who played Jamy was also the French Constable and one of the other minor British parts) to tell the parts from one another.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday afternoon random

Mail today was odd.

The bad: a solicitation from one of the local funeral homes. I get the whole idea of pre-paying, but...it's unsettling to get an ad in the mail. (And yes, I probably should figure something out; one CAN get hit by a car or some such, even if one doesn't want to think about that).

The good: PONY MAIL!

This was from a fairly new seller on Etsy (All The Ponies) and I am pretty happy. I think the curls are original so even though they're a little messy, I'm not going to mess with them too much:

Cherries Jubilee, the namesake for the plump cherry-orchard-owning pony in G4. (I like how G4 does those little callbacks - I suspect some of the parents of the child-fans were kids themselves who had the G1 ponys. Or, shoot, the grandparents - I am old enough to have a teenaged grandkid if I had had a baby in my early 20s and that child had a child in THEIR early 20s....and the girls who played with G1 would only be 4-5 years younger than I am).

this is a color scheme I didn't have a pony in yet, and I just liked her, and she was inexpensive enough.

I really need to get proper shelving for my Ponies. I made room for the Monster High dolls on the top of one of the bookcases in my bedroom but I also want to put up some wall shelves for them. The problem is finding ones I can hang without too much wall-anchoring (so: not very heavy shelves). The bedroom has wallpaper over paneling, which tells me the plaster underneath may be trashed. (The rest of the house seems to have been re-done with drywall, and not so perfectly either - I can see the seams).

I dunno. My ponies and my Monster High dolls just make me happy. I can't explain why. I suppose it's that they are something relatively uncomplicated. 

***

I'm also thinking about crocheting YET ANOTHER earlier-gen pony: going to look in my stash and see if I have some white yarn, and bright yellow....and I might make a G4-ized Surprise (with the "spiral curls" for her hair like I did for Elinor. And I confess, I'm also considering doing a bunch of curls in a bright pink and replacing the hair on my Pinkie Pie. The boucle was nice, but it seems like it's not holding up so well, and I don't want a bald Pinkie. I don't know. I might make Surprise first and see how I like the all-over bouncy curls).

Suprise was the original model for Pinkie in the Friendship is Magic series, but then they decided to use Pinkie instead, and changed that character from a pegasus to an Earth pony. 

and if I have the yarn in-stash, all it will cost me will be time...

***

Even though I'm supposed to limit salt (and I try hard to), I've been craving saltier things of late. Today I broke down and bought some deli roast beef to make a sandwich for dinner, hoping that takes care of my craving (I really wanted a deli-made roast beef sandwich but we don't have a good deli here).

I know the old thing about "you crave what your body needs" is mostly hogwash, but I wonder if I've been having some electrolyte issues this summer and maybe even went hyponatremic (a little) at one point: I had one evening where I got VERY shaky on my feet getting out of the shower and I had to be careful for the rest of the night.

***

And yes, once again I'm grateful we now have Pruett's. We still have the same people who shop there as used to shop at the old place (entire families forming a "flying wedge" maneuver that blocks an entire aisle, or, as I saw today - people walking in a line six across going out the door so I had to step back for a moment and let them pass before I could go in) but at least the store is now cleaner and has a better selection and I am looking forward to the renovation that will make it look a bit prettier (I hope).

And yes, I know, this brands me TOTALLY as what someone I know calls "bougie," but you know, it matters to me. When I may go SO FEW places in a week (home, work, church, and grocery store are all the places I go some weeks), it does kind of make a difference to have  a place to shop in that's not aggressively ugly. (That's part of what bothers me about wal-mart: high echoey ceilings, and God help you if you go there with a headache on a day when there are kids testing out the echoes by screaming, little iPad tv things on the endcaps blaring ads, pallets of stuff blocking the aisles....and the other day, when I was in there, it was so DARK that I wondered if they were having a power outage. I think it was that they had the lights turned down and it was overcast so little natural light was coming in the skylights, but it was a little eerie. I mean, I know: good on them for saving energy but...)

But anyway. Also the people who work at the Pruett's seem pretty nice, and are less surly than the average wal-mart clerk. (That suggests to me working conditions there are better than at wal-mart.)


***

I also want to start a new sweater soon. I'm thinking of a cabled sweater that is in (I think) New England Knits and some honey-colored yarn I have for it deep in the stash, and it would be good to start working down my stash.

(I think secretly I hope working on fall/winter things will call down cooler weather - it's been pretty awful here this week and while I'm grateful to have good air conditioning in the house, it's not much fun to leave the house).

But I need to finish a few more things first, I think.


Close to done

I'm on the last lace section of the Hagrid scarf. I am still not sure if I will have enough yarn for the full thing as written so I will watch carefully. (I suppose I could just keep knitting, put in a lifeline at the place I'd have to rip back to, and see if I had enough for the full set of repeats).

I'm also a lot further along on the Policy and Law stuff than I realized: looking at the past year's syllabus, it looks like I'm already up through October. I'm going to keep going, though....and also, I'm including a few other things (like some of the regulations on land use) the other person did not. Now I'm hoping I have enough time to cover everything....we'll have to see.

It's been a long, long time since I made a class 100% from scratch. Even when I started teaching Principles I back in 2011, there was kind of a "set" syllabus of what we needed to cover and when. Here, it's all on me. (Well, I do need to meet with my colleagues who are also in Conservation to see what they think and if I'm overlooking anything).

I also need to find at least two more readings. I have "Tragedy of the Commons" in the v. first week and a pretty good history of environmental law by Patricia M. Wells, but I need to find something maybe on the Clean Air/Clean Water acts, and maybe something on RCRA or the Superfund stuff.

I still kind of feel like I don't know what I'm doing but maybe that's how it's supposed to feel, I don't know.

Maybe it's good to have to make a class 100% from scratch once in a while, I don't know.

That said: I'm not going to fret too much about losing most of tomorrow to Meals on Wheels (and tomorrow afternoon my plan is to go home and clean house a bit) and also Friday. (And of course, Saturday is meeting up with Laura).

Tonight I am going to see Henry V. My campus does a Shakespearean festival (though usually only one play is Shakespeare: this year it was also heavily kid-themed: there was a kid play (one the kids were acting in) and a teen play I think. And they did Tony N Tina's Wedding, which I honestly wondered how well the humor (very New Jersey-centric) would translate to southern Oklahoma. I know there are things funny to people from New York/New Jersey that I don't find funny, and probably some of the stuff I find funny isn't funny to them.

(One of the re-runs of Bob's Burgers last night was about the kids taking off - "Stand By Me" style - to go see this alleged two-butted goat. One of the gags was "does it have two anuses" and of course Gene speculated that it could pass gas in harmony - "fartmony." And I admit I was tired at the time and my inner 12 year old tends to come out when I'm tired, but I laughed for about five minutes at that. And yes, the two-butted goat DID exist...)

Anyway. I've read Henry V and seen the old movie of it, it will be interesting to see this version. (Please don't be a reset, please don't be a reset....I like some of the resets, especially of the comedies, but I prefer the histories unaltered).

This is also something I ran across on Twitter (it was part of a longer thread about the people who genuinely love you vs. the people you manage to finagle into loving you) and it struck me:

"The people who love you, really, love you even though you are a complicated heap of twigs and stars and too-sensitive wriggling things." (from Maria DahvanaHeadley)

And that's something I really struggle with. I suspect a lot of people do; I suspect I feel it because I spent so much time as a kid feeling rejected by my peers. And it's why I do things like make sure my house is as clean as I can make it before someone comes over (and really, really hate it when someone "drops in" when I have not had time to clean) because I think people will think less of me if they see I have a dusty floor or spilled face-powder in my (one) bathroom. And it's perhaps also why I take on thankless tasks some time: somewhere deep down there is still that scared 11 year old who thinks maybe she can MAKE people like her if she does enough for them.

(There is perhaps a slight parallel there with the idea of the faith vs. works dichtomy....)

And I'm always a little afraid to let the mask slip with someone I don't know well. If I snort-laugh in your presence (it happens), if I get angry at something around you and express that anger, if I cry in front of you, it means I've reached an unusual level of comfort with your presence, because those are all things I fear will drive people away if I show them.

I also admit I have a problem with something else she talked about in that thread: accepting that there are going to be people who just don't like you, for their own reasons, which may be completely illogical. Because really, I walk around doing that, going "But I am as mild as a dove and as gentle as a lamb and I don't express my unpopular opinions and I try not to dominate the conversation and for goodness sakes, I do volunteer tasks other people won't do! Why won't this person like me?" and yes, I do internally go a little bit crazy-Fluttershy:



I don't know. Maybe it's because there are a lot of people who have traits that annoy me but that I am MOSTLY willing to overlook that it bugs me when there seems to be one little thing about me that people just can't get past to bring themselves to like me, I don't know.

(And maybe it's not even ME that they don't like, but rather what I represent: the various tropes out there about higher ed, for example, and it makes me bite my tongue so hard, the things some people say, but inwardly I'm screaming NO BUT I AM NOT LIKE THAT AND YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND or in some cases, when I'm really angry, I think hard at them, OKAY THEN, LET'S SHUT DOWN ALL THE UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES, ALL OF 'EM. AND GOOD DARN LUCK FINDING A SURGEON OR A NURSE OR A DENTIST OR AN ENGINEER OR SOMEONE TO WRITE UP THE CONTRACT FOR YOU TO BUY A HOUSE TWENTY YEARS FROM NOW and I realize it's not reasonable but....well, I guess this is my first experience of real prejudice* and it's kind of hard to cope with)

(*And yeah, we had a few sexist type teachers when I was in school but that somehow seemed different because ALL the girls rolled their eyes over the stupidity of that, and just quietly pushed to earn better grades than the boys did. But here, I don't know....it feels like it's something I identify pretty strongly with and it's being misrepresented, though I also acknowledge there are some profs out there who make it waaaaay too hard to caricature all of us.)

But yeah. There does seem to be a shortage of love in the world and sometimes I confess I feel a little deficit of it in my own life, and I tend to go way too much into people-pleasing mode as a result.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

And breaking through

I feel in a happier mood today.

Part of it is, yes, my student is now back, so I'm not concerned that her stomach issue was a really BIG issue (I think I am scared of stomach bugs now, after my own woes of several months in 2016, and moreso the fact that Margaret's cancer apparently showed up first as something that seemed like a stomach bug but got worse and worse). But also, she's a super-positive person, and being around someone like that, it cannot help but rub off on me a little and it raises my mood to be working with her.

Also, we got the weeding done and the germination check sorted, so all I need do tomorrow (it is her day off hose duty) is water the things. And I got the next draft of our paper to her and we will work on that again on Thursday.

And I broke through a little stall on the Policy and Law stuff - I had been doing a lot of "catch up" reading in the other books I have and got REALLY bogged down in the whole judicial-review end of things and also some of the federal-government stuff. Part of it is I'm working out of three books - started with a 2008 edition of "Environmental Law for Non-Lawyers" (Firestone and Reed), which is the most readable of the three, but then I figured I had better dip into the Kubasek and Silverman one (that's an older one, last revised in 2002 and it seems to have been somewhat unevenly revised - some of the chapters don't mention GW Bush's changes, and he would have been in office when it came out). That's where I bogged down in some of the judicial stuff.

I had also looked into getting a newer edition of that Kubasek book - there is a 2013 edition (which, given what's going on in government? Probably not quite new ENOUGH....) but Amazon wants something like $160 for a copy, or I can "rent" a copy (no thanks) for the "bargain" price of $40.

I figured, given the uneven updating of the one I have, that renting probably wasn't even worth it. (And I can search things online, and have, and have found some of the updated information I need).

But I did find a cheap-enough "Essentials Of" by Nash, and started reading that. It's....not that fun. Sometimes law/economics stuff is not written in a very engaging way and I can feel my brain trying to turn off as I read it. (I take copious notes, which forces me to stay engaged).

Today, I finally said "Bag it" and started making some new presentations: one on the history and function of the EPA, and another one on "how agency regulations get made" and got some progress done. (I have eight presentations, in part or in full, at this point, but I may be streamlining two and combining them, I don't know).

But yeah. Gotta get back to the presentations and gotta move on from the dense law stuff, because it's just a bit more than 30 days before classes start and I still have to cover land use and RCRA and RIFRA and the Lacey Act and lots of those other things. And I have to figure out some readings - I have "Tragedy of the Commons" lined up for early on, and also a PM Wald article that goes through some of the history and justification for environmental legislation, but I need a few more readings, and both of those will be early-in-the-semester one. (I opted not to use a texbook, because of constraints of time and also I know those things are expensive and get dated fast, though next go-round I might have people get the little Nash book, even though it's not an exciting read, it's not that expensive, and is a good basic handbook.)

But yeah: I feel a little better for having got that much done today. And maybe I need to just power through and do the Land Use stuff tomorrow (I have the chapter in Firestone and Reed nearly completed, and I can just add to it if the other books have other stuff I need to add).  And I should look at what my predecessor in this did; she gave me all her materials.

I will confess I'm a little scared about this class and may be over preparing, I don't know.

I was thinking today of "The Paper Chase" (which maybe I should try to see if Amazon Prime has for streaming and watch again) and yeah, I know that was a very different type of law (Contract law was what Kingsfield was all about) but I admit there's a certain attraction for that character to me, even if he was kind of rude to his students. (And you don't DARE be rude to students any more; I don't even know if you could at Harvard Law). But I do wish I could come across as a bit more Imperious, and a bit more of an Authority. Or even an Eminence grise (well, my hair isn't quite there yet).

I'd like to be more like Kingsfield (I'd include a picture, but Blogger's "photo" function seems to be borked) but I admit a lot of days I feel like I come across more like Mme. Trelawney in the Harry Potter movies - oddly dressed, a bit goofy, a bit not quite "there" - I do tend to go off onto odd tangents at times or make obscure jokes that it turns out no one gets.

(For example, I cared enough to look up a photo of Arthur Pigou when I referenced Pigouvian tax and stick it in the Powerpoint. And I'm going to show them the "I'm Just a Bill" Schoolhouse Rock as a reminder of how laws get made in Congress)

And while my glasses aren't quite that thick, some days I do feel about that myopic. 

But my usual MO when I'm apprehensive about something is to overprepare. (I am the one who practiced my grad-school research-talks for conferences four times before going to the conference, and then tried to practice them twice the day before, if I could find a room set up to allow practicing of talks). So maybe I'll be fine, I don't know. (And even if it's not perfect, I'm probably the most qualified person who has the time in her schedule to teach this, so)




fixing of mistakes

I sat down last evening to knit more on the Hagrid scarf. Got some done (having to switch the channel from "Trauma: Life in the ER" to "The Incredible Dr. Pol" because the ER stories were depressing me and at least on Dr. Pol you get to see stories about a cow having an uncomplicated birth of a healthy calf, or Dr. Pol rescuing a kitten from a well pit, and the kitten being fine).

Then I realized I made an error. I tried dropping and fixing the stitches (it was a knit-for-purl substitution) and then realized I'd fixed them wrong - so I unknitted that row and redid it.

Then I realized I had messed up the garter stitch edging on one side for a few rows - purled where I should have knitted. So I tried dropping and redoing the stitches, but that is really confusing at the end of a row.

I suppose I should back up here for the non-knitters and point out there are three ways you can fix an error in a knitted thing (at least that I know of):

1. You can drop the stitch or stitches in question, "ladder down" and then reknit just those stitches. This is a little tricky but it is the fastest and is good if, for example, you're doing a knit-purl pattern and you purled when you should have knitted, or vice versa. I also think this works best if it's within just a couple rows of where you are (so: look at your knitting periodically) though I have read of people fixing miscrossed cables by dropping down dozens of rows.

2. You can "un-knit" (or as some people say, "tink" - which is "knit," backwards) - painstakingly undoing each stitch in order back to your mistake, and then knitting it back the right way. This is maddeningly slow to do if your mistake is very many rows down but it is also the method I most often employ because it's easier to get it right than the dropping-down method is, and it also tends (I find) to mess with your gauge less.

3. You can do what some people call "frogging" (as in "rip-it, rip-it" - yes, knitters have no shortage of agonizingly cutesy argot). You take the stitches off the needle and pull. This unravels the knitting. If you're good, you can stop it right below your error, put the needles back in, and start all over again. Some knitters use the trick of a "lifeline" (lots of knitters of complex lace do this) where you run a thin thread - dental floss is often used- through your knitting however many rows (15 or 20, in some cases), on the idea that if you have to rip back, (a) the lifeline will stop wholesale destruction - you will not be able to rip past it and (b) you will know right where you have to pick up - with un-knitting, you can reset your row marker or otherwise keep track as you go, but ripping is faster (and often done in anger) and unless you're v. good at "reading" your knitting, you might not know what row you wound up with.

I've...never used a lifeline. I don't think I've ever ripped to fix an error EXCEPT in a case of a project gone very wrong where starting over from the beginning is preferable (e.g., the Cobblestone sweater, where I found out some inches in I really needed to be alternating the balls of the yarn, because it was one of those kettle-dyed-without-dye-lots ones and the different skeins weren't quite all the same purple).

Also, in some cases, ripping is perhaps inadvisable - on a very fluffy yarn where the "fluffs" can tangle, you can get knots. And on a very delicate laceweight, pulling very hard may separate your yarn. The yarn I am using for the Hagrid scarf is mulespun/woolen-spun rather than worsted spun (think: less tightly plied) and I worried a bit about it coming apart when I unknitted it, and I would not want to have ripped it.

But at any rate, I got it fixed. And yeah, it annoys me when I make a mistake and have to go back and fix it (I am that way about ANYTHING; that may be partly why I'm such a perfectionist). Then again: it would be nice if everything in life were that easily fixed when it got messed up - that you could just go back, undo and then redo it, and it's like the mistake never happened.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Deeply regressive behavior

Pikachu arrived

He's littler than I anticipated but that's not a problem. (He's also not quite as soft as I'd like - it's not really fleece he's made of but more of sort of an interlock material).

But yeah. I dunno, I've kind of changed my mind on Pokemon after watching a few episodes. I used to be kind of "ugh, it's a little bit boring, isn't it?" and I also know someone who referred to it as "Cockfighting with anime creatures" and that kind of turned me off of it, but I don't know. It doesn't seem....quite as violent as all that. Maybe it's more like martial-arts type fighting, where in the contests you really don't hurt your opponent? I don't know.

And you have to admit, a lot of the creatures are cute. And the colors in the cartoon are nice (yes, that matters to me). And I have to admit the idea that the thing has been around for some 20 years (in either video-game or cartoon form) kind of appeals to me - one of the reasons I also like Hello Kitty is her longevity.

I admit - and this is the reason for the title - I played the video I posted on Friday and made Pikachu "dance" along with it (as much as he could - his arms are sewn down to his body so he can't wave them around). I dunno. It's the simple things.




Year's hottest week

That's what they're predicting, anyway.

My student and I decided to do half the weeding this morning, and the other half tomorrow. Part of this is that she had to get to her other job by 10, but I admit I suggested the idea because I'd rather be out in the heat for less than 2 hours (we started at 7 am and will start tomorrow at 7 am).

I set my alarm - I haven't, much, this summer, and of course I slept badly because of (a) "what if it doesn't go off, or if I have it set in such a way I don't hear it*

(*The CD player on the big old clock radio thing I have is broken - I really need to replace it at some point - and if the alarm gets set to "CD" I MIGHT hear the click of it trying to turn on, but might not)

and (b) "how much longer do I have to sleep?" I woke up many times during the night, many more times on a night when I don't have to get up until 6:30 (the time I normally usually wake without an alarm).

Also, yipes, the dreams I had. I hope that was all the sadness and loneliness and bad-feelings being sent to the recycling center of my mind to be transformed into something better. I don't remember a lot of them other than feelings and in one my mother saying "I didn't want to tell you before, but it's at Stage 3" (meaning: cancer, and the implication was she had it. And yes, my mother has the habit of "I didn't want to tell you before" on difficult/sad things, I think because she wants to spare my feelings, but honestly? I'd rather hear the bad news up front and I have told her that).

Anyway. As far as I know, in the real world, she's perfectly healthy, so either it was vague fear being translated or it was sadness about someone else being translated (Possibly about Margaret. She wasn't exactly a mother figure to me but as a woman about 10 years older than my mom is....it's easy for my subconscious to confound the relationships).

(If they were making Inside Out about an adult, I think there would be something like a "recycling center" in the brain where old memories get changed around, or maybe where feelings that go one way get changed into another kind of feelings. I don't know)

On ITFF we were talking a bit about how often stuff in "kid's" movies makes us cry and someone noted that "in some ways, the emotion is more distilled" and I think there's a truth to that - possibly even could be said the emotion is more "pure." They mentioned Up of course (I think EVERYONE cries, and cries pretty hard, during the first 20 minutes of Up). And I said I still cry at a particular point (well, actually, 2 or 3 points) in Big Hero Six, and I cry at We Are Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy....I think I also mentioned how I had been watching Wreck It-Ralph yesterday and started to cry at the point where Ralph pretty much decided he was going to sacrifice himself for Vanellope. (Of course, there's a Deus Ex Machina in the form of a racecar that saves him, but still). Actually, I think that's what gets me to cry hardest in a movie: not the couple who "should" have been together winding up together, not even things like the end of Old Yeller, but that point where a character decides: I value this other individual's life more than my own, so I will very likely risk the end of my own life to save them. ("Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."). And you know? it seems to me that's a more commonly-shown thing these days in movies aimed at kids than at those aimed at adults. I am not sure what that means. (There are enough "old" movies, like TMC type movies, that have that concept of self-sacrifice in them). 

Someone suggested I would probably like Moana and they are probably right. I don't have Netflix or anything like that but at some point if the dvd isn't too spendy, I might get it.

Though first, I have the (original) Teen Titans series coming at some point - it was an Amazon Prime Day buy, about $40 for all five seasons. This is the early-2000s version, which was more drama and less slapstick and also (IMHO) better animation and more realistic-looking characters. Nothing against Teen Titans Go, but I really prefer the Teen Titans series that was more serious and more about extended storytelling rather than gags.
***

I got more sewing done on the Birb quilt this weekend but it was just "intermediate" steps so I have no additional blocks yet. I have the parts for making 9 more (of the 17 total full blocks) and will get to that at some point, hopefully this week. (There are also 14 "half blocks" so the edges of the quilt come out straight - the blocks are set "on point.")

I also worked more on the Hagrid scarf and am now worried I may run short of yarn. If that happens, I think I'll just leave off one or all of the last repeats of the cabled section ('shaggy beard.") I think it will make more sense to be sure I have enough yarn to do the eight garter stitch rows that finish the thing off.  I think my goal for the rest of the summer though is to try to dig out the buried-in-bags projects (the Hagrid Scarf, the big sweater, the "purple thing" stole, a scarf I started ages ago....) and finish them up.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday afternoon stuff

Still feeling kind of sad. I suspect it's the weather. I do not deal well with heat and humidity.

* My student e-mailed me; she's going to be back tomorrow morning and will start weeding even if she gets there before me. I'm relieved even though I'm not looking forward to working out in the heat (I feel like it's partly my project so I need to help).

* I'm glad I'll be mostly off hose-duty for a few days. It gets really old really fast.

* Today, as I was leaving, a campus police officer drove up (across the grass!) to where I was parked to check up on me. Not to see if I was OK (I was walking back to my car) but to be sure I was "supposed" to be there. He recognized me, which was good (I had my faculty ID in my purse but would have had to hunt for it if challenged) but I admit, driving back, I thought a little irritatedly: "Okay, so I'm not invisible after all."

Yeah, I'm still unhappy about what happened yesterday. And it bothers me that my usual mode of acting - of being polite and non-pushy - didn't get me what I wanted, and it was only some hours later when I was at home that I realized I COULD have done something like said loudly "HEY YOU MOVE YOUR CART" but that kind of thing doesn't occur to me as a behavior.

It's probably good, because people being what they are, you say that to the wrong person and you wind up in the hospital.

But yeah - the whole reason I drag out to the grocery at 7 am is to avoid people-problems.

And it makes me sad that in the world today, politeness seems to be heard and so often things default to that person yelling "HEY YOU MOVE YOUR (EXPLETIVE) CART"

It does often seem to me that I don't get "heard." I'm not quite able to ramp it up and to be louder or more aggro, so I kind of just go around being sad and not-heard and actually being surprised when someone does hear me. 

(I also wound up having to go 2 other places to get spinach: I won't buy the brand the wal-mart carries because I did once and it was terrible. But Green Spray had none, I asked the produce guy and he apologetically said they didn't get any in in the most recent shipment. So after watering today I ran to Pruett's and they had some. But yeah.....I'm honestly more prone to go without than do the "run around to many different stores" thing. But stir-fried spinach was the only thing that appealed to me for dinner...)

* I'm still grieving M.'s death, I guess. (I can't go into a lot of detail about "why no funeral/memorial service" other than that her step-son is being....a bit difficult). Today in the prayer, the minister referred to her, and said the standard* "May eternal light shine upon her" and I had to shed a few tears sitting there in the pew.

(*Not so standard for Disciples of Christ, though; that's a slightly unusual usage in our denomination. This minister is more "high church" than the last few we've had and I have to say I LIKE that. I like some level of formality in things)

Part of me feels like I've been mourning her for a long time - she first took sick in January 2016.


* I dug out the Hagrid scarf and realized I'm just one more set of pattern repeats (something like 35 rows) from done, so now I'm going to push to get that done - I really need to clear out a few ongoing projects.

Edited to add: been working on it some more. I may have this done in another day or two...

* I have a headache. Pretty sure it's the heat, humidity, and allergies. I need to do the rest of piano practice and maybe shower to see if that makes me feel better. 

* Also, I broke down and ordered myself a stuffed Pikachu on Amazon. Had been thinking of getting one for a while, but watching that Pikachus-dancing video pushed me over the edge. I've also kind of off and on been watching the "Sun and Moon" series that Disney XD (I think it is) shows. It's....oddly cute and nice. I dunno, I just like cartoons. Cartoons are better than real life in a lot of ways, and I find many cartoons more relaxing and entertaining than "shows for grown ups."

Pikachu is supposed to arrive tomorrow. That makes me happy; tomorrow is going to be a long day between the weeding and I also have an AAUW executive board meeting in the afternoon. 

Next week is just going to be long anyway because Thursday and Friday I do Meals on Wheels, which I am still slightly apprehensive about even as I realized part of my funk is that I feel like I'm not doing anything "useful" to other people - all the work I seem to be doing right now is "for me" and I think I get down when I feel like I'm not reaching out to help others.

And I just confirmed for Saturday that Laura and I are going to meet up in Longview, which makes me happy - something to look forward to. I don't NEED any yarn but I will probably buy some, or at least get a pattern and maybe an extra set of needles or two.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Proving to myself

Taking a webcam photo even though I'm not at my best (hivey eye, little make up on):

Yeah, no, I'm not invisible after all.

But I feel it. Decided to to to Mart of Wal this morning, seeing as I didn't have enough need for groceries to justify a trip to Sherman.

First up: apparently there's a fun-run today; my street was blocked off (at 7 am!) already so I had to detour. (Curse the detours in this town. You can't JUST get anywhere right now, between the construction and streets being set aside for other things).

And then, as I was leaving the Mart of Wal: a woman, standing, with her FULL CART RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE EXIT DOOR while she chatted with other people. One person with just a bag squeezed past her but I had got a couple half-gallons of milk and didn't feel like wrestling the four slightly-teary plastic bags out to the car without benefit of cart - at the very worst, my cartons of milk would fall out and burst on the pavement. Well, she didn't see me, didn't move.

I said, "Excuse me." In a fairly normal conversational voice.

She kept talking. I KNOW she wasn't Deaf because she was speaking to the other people and no one was using ASL.

I said "Excuse me" slightly louder. She didn't move.

So, finally, I just pulled her cart back out of the space in the door and moved past. She STILL didn't notice.

There's a mental illness called Cottard's Delusion where a person believes themselves to be dead. I occasionally have flashes of a delusion that maybe I'm invisible. (I'm 5'7" and nearly 200 lbs. so it's not that I'm so small people don't see me).

But yeah, between feeling lonely because no one is around, and it being hot and miserable, I did NOT need to feel like I don't exist in the wal-mart.

***

I have to practice piano, and write my Sunday school lesson, and go water the research plots. I don't want to do any of those things. I guess I just pick one and do it first, and then do the others after it.

Friday, July 14, 2017

I got nothing

It's Friday, it's death-hot, the news of the world is bad. So here, have some Pikachu dancing to yodeling and trying to sell you soft drinks:



(It would work on me, except that those soft drinks are not for sale here)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

trying for cheer

Have felt vaguely 'down' and "black-doggish" the past couple days.

(Winston Churchill, famously, referred to bleak moods, or what may have been depressive episodes, as his "black dog." I like that image - for one thing, it does slightly externalize it. And I am something like fifth cousin to him, so...)

Anyway, trying to cheer myself up this evening, looking again at this month's Doki Doki box. This one had more "useful" type stuff - the theme was "cute and clean kitchen" so there were a couple of reusable cleaning cloths (Hello Kitty) and a drying-towel (My Melody):

doki doki

There are also two plastic My Melody bowls, but I think I am going to use them as pin dishes in my sewing room instead of anywhere in the kitchen. (I have bad luck with plastic kitchenware; I tend to forget a burner is on and set it on the burner).

And my favorite thing:

apron

A big apron. I use aprons a lot - both when I cook, but also sometimes when I eat (if it's something greasy, or tomatoey, or runny, where I might get food on my clothes. They described this one as "Mac and Cheese color" which I admit I like better than plain "orange" (though the mac and cheese I make is decidedly NOT that color)

(Also, if anyone reads Japanese and can tell me the translation of the symbols along the top....Doki Doki tends not to provide translations)

There was also a tiny blindbag figure (but no plushie this time, and I hope there is one next month):

This is Calimero, who is apparently a character from a "vintage" anime (an Italian/Japanese joint effort):

calimero

Supposedly he will hang on the edge of a glass but I guess mine is defective because he wouldn't hang off the edge of anything I tried him on.

Not shown are the inevitable Hoppe Chan figure, and also an onigiri (rice ball) mold that makes panda shaped rice balls (and comes with a stamper so you can cut the panda face shapes out of seaweed. I am not sure I would ever use that and admit I might be able to be talked out if it if there's someone who actually MAKES onigiri. (I could use it myself and just not do the seaweed thing, I suppose. But don't you need sticky rice for it to work?)

And then this is the just-barest-beginning of the moss stitch scarf. (The yarn is not "Big," it is "Big Wool." I don't remember when I bought it - I THINK it was an Elann purchase (Hm, wonder if they're still around, haven't bought from them in ages....yes, they do, but apparently they only sell their own yarns, no closeouts, any more. Too bad - I remember when I used to stalk them to try to get fancy yarns on the cheap. I guess that's the new thing, lots of places have gone from carrying "closeout" yarn to "their own house brand." I guess Webs still does a lot of closeouts though....)

scarf start

I might work on this more tonight.

Sandwiches and "capital"

So, David Brooks wrote a column on how those with "privilege" (a term I have grown to heartily hate*) are "hogging it all" and not allowing people from "below" them to move into their classes.

(*"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." In many ways, I grew up privileged, but my growing-up years were not uniformly easy - I was bullied in school, I KNOW I didn't fit in, I was an anxious kid, some of the time I was pretty unhappy)

Anyway, he used the extended metaphor of taking one of his "less-educated" friends to a sandwich shop that had fancy Italian deli meats, and it didn't go well:

"Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican."

Um. Yeah. It's also possible she didn't like cured meat. (I might be a hard person to take out to a restaurant, given my specific dietary restrictions.)

A lot of people are rightfully mocking the fact that he writes a column on the "hoarding of privilege" and then goes on to come off very tone-deaf here: "The un-educated, they just don't understand fancy Italian meat, so we probably better just plan on eating fast food"

And I don't know. I realize that this is a different thing (because "privilege" is not a two-way street) but say Brooks had an African-American colleague whose roots were very much in the American South. And said colleague finds out that a new "soul food" restaurant that is super-authentic has opened up. So he takes Brooks with him. I can guarantee you that most Euro-Americans would probably be somewhat baffled by soul food of some forms (pig-ear sandwiches) and would probably find some of it unappealing. Or, say, Brooks had an Afro-Caribbean colleague: he might not even recognize some of the foods his colleague knew.

Also: I know food pretty well, and I think Brooks would regard me as well-educated. But there are some food traditions where I'd be lost. (The first time I went to a Thai restaurant, luckily it was with a Thai person, and she was able to steer me towards something I would like). Sushi restaurants. Very old-skool delis, whether Jewish or Italian. Danish Smorgasbord. And there are some things I don't like: I don't care for the high-style "traditional" French food with its heavy sauces and the like.

(A little story: I remember my mom telling me - I was a kid at the time - about the eldest daughter of one of the neighbor families, how she went out on a date with a guy, and they went to a very fancy French place, the heavy sauces and everything, and on the way home, she threw up in his car. The moral my mom wanted to convey being, "Fancy food isn't always the best food" though now as an adult, I wonder if maybe "adult beverages" were also involved, seeing as the daughter was over 18 at the time and this was before Ohio changed its legal drinking age to 21).

But yeah - we all have blind spots about things. I know what a pasty is (the food kind, I mean - not the part-of-a-burlesque-dancer's-kit kind). And I know what pierogis are. And what paczki are. All of that by virtue of family background or where I grew up. (Pasties - they are very, very common in the UP of Michigan, where my mom grew up. There are pasty stands kind of like some places have taco trucks. In fact, things being what they are, I wouldn't be surprised to learn someone now has a pasty food truck. Which actually would be an awesome business idea - you could have the traditional kind, and a vegetarian kind, and maybe a few weird variants like smoked salmon for people who want the weird stuff). And I know a lot of the various UK foods, partly from background, partly from interest. And I probably know more German foods than many of my peers because of my heritage.

The thing is, does this convey me any privilege? I kind of doubt it. Actually, I think the food-as-status-marker thing has kind of lessened recently, though I know there are some pockets of folks who still do food-as-virtue-signalling and have things like micturational combat over how "locally" they eat. But we also all know that tiresome person who goes on and on about whatever food he or she finds "downmarket" and that doesn't enhance that person's status in my eyes at all.

The thing is: we all have areas where we can manage in the flow of life, and other areas where our "faces freeze up" because we're awkward or uncomfortable or don't know how things go.

The one and only time I ate at a country club, I felt that way - "I don't belong here" - and I wanted to get done with the dinner and get out as fast as I could because I knew I didn't fit in, I knew I was an impostor, and I was one laugh-snort or misfiring joke away from being outed as a total impostor.

And yes, there is one thing Brooks gets right: it's probably incumbent on people who ask someone somewhere to make sure their guest is comfortable. One of my favorite stories illustrating the difference between "manners" and "politeness" comes from "Say Please, Say Thank You" (which I know I've referred to before). The story is probably apocryphal, but: A diplomat, who had been raised very much in the ways of proper etiquette and manners, who always knew what fork to use, was at a fancy dinner somewhere. One of the guests was an individual from a more-rural, or perceived-as-more-backwards country, and for one course, the fellow picked up the "wrong" fork. The diplomat saw that, and decided to do the same - first, so the man (his guest) would not feel awkward or uncomfortable if he spotted others using a different fork, but also so no one could say "Ha! Did you see that hick? He used the dessert fork for the fish course!" (And yes, people ARE that petty)

But anyway. There are all times where we are "tourists" who don't know the lingo, and are surrounded by people who have the "privilege" of knowing it. I remember feeling that a lot growing up - my parents put fairly tight restrictions on what media we were allowed (and the way things worked where I grew up, there was no being able to sneak into an R movie - to go to the movies one had to be driven to the mall by parents) and so I didn't know much of the pop culture my friends and colleagues were marinated in, and it made me feel weird and uncomfortable and yes, it gave them another way to make fun of me.

I still have a lot of pop-cultural blind spots: I pretend to know "The Godfather" because I'm familiar with a few of the tropes (the horse head in the bed) and the lines ("Take the gun, leave the cannoli") but I have *never actually seen the movie.* And I don't feel a strong need to see it. 

And yes, I came from a fairly "privileged" (there's that word again) background. Granted, what I look back on now as things I was lucky to have (I think that's a better term) are maybe not material things:
 - my brother and I were "wanted" and loved kids
 - our parents valued education and wanted us to work hard and do well
 - our parents didn't put their own personal wants over the needs of the family (the more I see of the local news, the more I realize this was a huge thing)
 - they did stuff to "enrich" us - to use another word I dislike - they took us to the public library every week and encouraged us to check out as many books as we could carry, they took us to National Parks on vacation, they took us hiking in the local Metroparks and the Cuyahoga National Recreation Area.
 - they didn't regard the picture-perfection of their house as the be-all and end-all: regularly there were paintings my brother or I had done drying on the dining room table, or they let us build epic Lego structures in the family room, and we had aquariums with turtles and tadpoles and stuff in the house. I was kind of shocked going over to a new friend's house for the first time and learning she was not allowed to take her toys out of her bedroom because her mom "didn't want the house messed up"

Did any of that give me "social capital"? Heck if I know. It did help me in school - using the library prepared me for doing stuff like searching for journal articles as an adult. And all the parks and the tadpoles kept me interested in science even during that 11-13 age period when it wasn't "cool" for girls to like science or even be particularly smart. But I didn't fit in with my peers. And I sometimes still feel I don't fit in. Any fancy boutique I've ever walked in to - I feel that way doubly in those - first, because I have no experience shopping like that (Von Maur is probably the absolute limit of "fanciness" I can tolerate) but secondly because many of those places stop at a size 10 or so (Years ago, I remember a woman in a store looking at me and sniffing, "Honey, we don't have anything in YOUR size" - and that was more than 20 years ago, when I was a bit closer to a 10 than I am now)

I guess the argument I am making is, there are different types of social capital. There are different ways of knowing stuff. The kind of B-school stuff that Brooks seems to be talking about - like being comfortable in a swanky Italian deli - would not be that useful to me, not here, where getting something like soppressata for a recipe requires a special trip and a lot of driving. But being able to talk to a diversity of people and not look down your nose at them - that is more valuable. Or knowing "what kind of bee is that?" In fact, I think I've impressed more people - and come across as "useful" to a wider range of people - through knowing plants and animals** and being able to identify them and tell people if a particular bug was dangerous (to them or their trees or their garden) or not.

(**And that is not necessarily something requiring an advanced education; there was a retired farmer who used to volunteer at the CVNRA who know all KINDS of stuff. I have no idea what his educational background was but it didn't really matter because he had the experience and knew the area)

There's not just one way to be. Knowing what fork to use, or what kind of jewelry is appropriate at what age, or what mortadella is, isn't that useful in some areas of farm country. And it wouldn't be useful in rural Asia, or deep in the rainforest. Those places, you need more practical knowledge....and maybe the idea that "capital" comes in the form of recognizing fancy deli meats tells us how far we have got from the actual and practical.

(I will also end, with "on the 'hogging' of privilege" - that I have seen students from my university move up the economic ladder by virtue of their education here - that they learn to write better, and how to research, and they learn stuff like lab techniques that can be parlayed into a more-secure and generally-better-paying job. Maybe it's hard to break into the 1%, and that's what Brooks is saying, I don't know. But I don't think I'd want to be part of the 1%; from what I've seen of it, the air seems awfully thin and there's not a lot of room to be kind of weird and nerdy like I am. I'm happier being somewhere in the vague upper 50%, where my needs are met but there's less pressure on me to conform.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Well, that's better

The meeting is over, so I don't have to worry about it any more.

(The two main things I was concerned about worked out as I had hoped they would - maybe that was how they were meant to work out, then. We renewed an important contract, so stability, yay, and we also voted to resolve an ongoing financial thing tied up with the fact that apparently at one point the accountant we used wasn't doing things....entirely above board. Which, is especially not cool when you're talking about a church, but whatever, it's resolved).

Part of the issue - and the reason I am always anticipatorily dreading these meetings - is that in a small church (so few people available to volunteer) and that is often financially strapped (so hard to hire and keep people, and something like the AC going out is a big bad deal) - they often tend to be fraught. We've also had, in the past, our share of disagreement, which I don't cope well with - I don't like seeing two people I care about arguing, and I don't like feeling like maybe I need to take sides.

We don't meet in August (we take it as a "vacation month") so for a while I'm free of that concern.

I also found out why my older friend-from-church's memorial service has been so delayed. I don't want to air dirty laundry so I will just not that Sometimes Family Members Are Difficult and Sometimes They Want What They Want Even If The Person They Are Honoring Would Not Have Wanted That.

(I think my parents have done pre-planning. I certainly hope they have but even if they didn't I know them well enough to know what would and would not be their wishes, and I'm going to do what they would have wanted)

I wasn't hungry at dinner time because of being hot and tired and bummed out about having to go back out so I ate a very minimal dinner (mainly to get in a couple servings of vegetables for the day) but now I have fro-yo.

So things are better. (No, I am not going to eat all of that in one sitting; that's why I got a pint - I can put the rest away and have it another day).

And now I can relax. Hopefully my student will be better tomorrow, both for her sake (I worry a bit about people when they're not well) but also for mine.

And I started a new project. The new Knit Simple had a very simple (it's in the name) moss-stitch wide scarf to be made of superbulky yarn, and I thought "Hey, I have some really old Rowan Big in my stash, wonder if I have enough?" and as it turns out, I do, so I'm making a big chunky moss stitch scarf. In bright pink. I might keep it, or, if a charity seems to need it I might donate it, or I might give it as a gift - but at any rate, it's nice restful knitting and it gets something out of my stash.


But I might just go to bed early tonight, I don't know.

All the feels

Having one of those days.

On twitter, riffing about the comment a highly-placed political official made about another person, that he was a "high-quality person and very transparent," I said I didn't want to speculate on whether or not I'm high-quality, but I'm certainly "transparent," if by "transparent" you mean "prone to barf out all your feelings on social media."

But better out than in, as a famous ogre once said, so here goes:

* I'm sick of summer, officially. It's too hot, I don't want to go anywhere or do anything because it's so hot. Even sewing last night was less fun because my sewing room is at the end of the chain of ductwork so it stays warmer than the rest of the house (and dragging a fan in there would be tough, never mind finding a place to plug it in).

I watered the plots again this morning and it was just miserable.

* My student is still sick and now I'm worried it's something more serious than a simple stomach bug, and how will we finish the project if she can't finish the summer? And doing the watering alone is a pain and takes more than twice the effort doing it with two people does - you have to hook up the hose, then feed it out through the gap in the fence, then pull it partway up to the plots, then feed more hose, then pull it more of the way, then walk back to turn it on (so you don't waste water or get yourself soaked while feeding it), water all the plots being sure not to drag the hose across any of them (and that is after unhooking the chain that closes the gate), then pull the hose back out, close the gate to the plots, go turn off the water, pull the hose bit by bit through the gap in the fence, coil it up, at some point unhooking it and at which point you will get wet even if you tried to "bleed" the hose before moving it (which requires more walking back and forth - back to the nozzle after you've shut off the water) and then lock up the big heavy gate.

And it's hard not to take things as a personal insult, in the mood I'm in:
- the hose gets hot in the sun (black rubber) and hurts my hands
- it's a lot of effort to drag it and coil it (I still feel like I should be singing sea shanties as I pull on the hose; it seems very much like old-time sailors pulling rope for whatever they pulled rope for)
- there are sandburs that get in my socks and hurt (Sandburs feel like a personal insult)
- It's just hot, and it's inefficient, and there's a lot of walking back and forth, and if the stupid gate weren't on the other side of the fence from where the hose has to be fed out from, it would be a thousand times easier...

And I think about how if I had someone to help me, it would be easier, but there's no one - the two colleagues who are on campus are in class when I need to be watering, there's no one else here.

* Summer is lonesome. I think I talked to ONE person yesterday, and that was less than 10 words - the colleague who teaches anatomy saw me heading out for lunch and he said "Going home for the day?" and I said, "No, going home for lunch" and he said "Oh."

Almost no one else is around. The person with whom I share a teaching lab is not around and some decisions need to be made about what to do with some of the stuff in there (new OSHA rules limiting what can be stored where) and I can't get rid of anything that is his with him not here, but I don't know where to put it, because it can't stay where it is.

I also just kind of hate summer in general, because the popular image of it does not match up to my experience:

My experience: it's hot, it's bright, a lot of the things I like doing aren't active at the moment, going anywhere feels like more of an effort

The popular image: BIG FUN TIMES GO TO THE BEACH AND THE POOL AND GO OUT AND MEET PEOPLE AND PARTY AND FUN AND LOVIN' IN THE SUMMERTIME AND THIS IS THE BEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE

and I am like "No." I don't like hanging out at the pool (uncomfortable in a swimsuit, chlorine bothers me). I don't like being out in the hot sun for long because I overheat easily and burn easily and would rather be indoors unless I am actually, you know, doing fieldwork, and even then, I'd rather be doing it in the spring and the fall when it's more temperate.

And I also feel like "maybe I'm missing out. Maybe this really is the fun time and everyone else is off having fun and I don't know where they are and I am missing the fun" and I feel extra miserable because I feel like I am, once again, failing at fun.

I also miss having a schedule. I thought I wouldn't, but I do. I mean, I don't miss dealing with student emergencies or "emergencies" (the person who fails to plan in advance and then it falls to me to try to help them mop up) and I don't miss all the "hey i am not going to be in class today because of reasons and can i have an excused absence because i've already missed three times and i don't want to start losing points"

But I miss having something that feels purposeful each day. I missed seeing people and not feeling like some kind of weird rapture has happened and I'm one of the few left behind.

* I'm also roundly sick of Environmental Policy and Law. I've become even more cynical about how lawmaking works in this country now that I've seen it written up of how it should work vs. how it usually actually works (there are a hundred ways to game the system if you have money and/or influence)

I spent about six to seven hours yesterday and Monday reading and taking notes on the stuff and I need to do some more today, I guess, but I just find myself resisting it. I need to keep going though - next week is going to be taken up with some other stuff, and it's only about a month before classes start, and I only have about a month's worth of material prepared thus far.

* And tonight is Board Meeting, which on top of the "ugh, have to leave the house after I've returned home for the day" has been promoted as an "important" meeting and I am now worried there's some controversy we'll have to deal with or some unpleasant decision that needs to be made. And yes, I know: I worry excessively about things like this, but in the past there have been meetings that blindsided me with their unpleasantness. And also, it seems to be a 'survival strategy' I've developed, that anticipating the worst means that anything even slightly less than the very worst feels like a win....(It's also possible that this is the first meeting with new board members, and our last meeting was poorly-attended, and they may be trying to make it so more people come, I don't know)

* And yeah. I've felt more anxious these past few days over stuff. I am sure part of it is the "one inch picture frame" - when I am working on just one or a few things, it's easier to get totally inside my head and then little things bug me far more than they should. I'm not good at letting stuff go:
- why don't I have more in-person friends to do stuff with? (Realization: I don't reach out to people that much. Part of it is that most of the people I know are a good bit older than I am. Part of it is, I think, as a kid, I was "taught" by my peers that I was a pest other people really didn't want around and they tolerated for the sake of....I don't know. But I think I'm slow to want to call someone and suggest doing something because somewhere in the back of my mind there's still that fear that maybe I am a pest.)

- why did the city call me and not leave a message? (that was yesterday's worry, and probably, it was either a misdial from an employee, or maybe their 'bot hiccuped - they do robocalls for things like bad-weather warnings)

- what's the meeting tonight going to be? Isn't this when we renew the six-month contract of the new pastor? What if someone thinks he's not had enough new people decide to join or enough new donations brought in to keep him on, what will we do then?

- will I get the Policy and Law stuff done in time? Will I do a good enough job of it? Should I have told them to try to hire an adjunct instead of me doing it, even though getting someone qualified and willing to teach for what the uni will pay is unlikely.

- why can't I motivate myself to clean my house better? My bedroom and sewing rooms are a pit and if I were injured or required surgery I'd be embarrassed to get someone in to help me with stuff - I'd probably insist on the futon being made up into a bed and sleeping out in the living room just so no one would go into my bedroom, it's such a mess.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Not again, city

So I came home for lunch, and found a "missed" phone call on my phone.

From the city.

Oh, crikey. So I checked for a message - some work is being done up the street and it's not impossible it could have messed with the water system. But no message.

So of course, now I'm anxious.

This happened once before - the call is from the general city number so you don't know what department. And when I called back to ask, the person-manning-the-desk was kind of rude to me, in the "How should  **I** know why someone would call you?" sense.

So I waited. Figured it was some "nonconforming" thing in my yard yet again (even though right then everything was under control) and waited on the letter.

No letter ever came. I finally decided maybe someone misdialed or butt-dialed or something. (I used to be on a citizens'-panel thing).

So this time, I don't know. Yes, the brush has grown up a bit in my alleyway; I've tried to knock it back. And yeah, I never replaced the fence (I need to do that but trying to find a reliable work-person in this town is HARD. And I've asked around, and no one knows a "good" fence guy).

So who knows. I guess I wait again and see if there's a letter. But you'd think: if they bother to call and it's about something, they can bother to leave a message. I mean, this is not my doctor, HIPAA is not in effect here.

The other thing that worries me: I paid my water bill just recently but once before, when the PO lost a bunch of them, we all got letters saying HEY YOU DEADBEAT WE ARE TURNING YOUR WATER OFF ON FRIDAY IF YOU DON'T PAY UP NOW. The letter came on the day the bill was due in! No second notice, no warning, just: hey you deadbeat. I pointed out to the office, when I went down there that:

a. If they had bothered to check my records, they'd have seen I was a customer for something like 12 years at that point, and every single month had paid on time and in full and

b. it's a bit rich to arrange for "we're turning off your water" letters to go out with NO second notice first, and that in fact I had NO knowledge my payment had not been received.

Again, they weren't exactly cheerful about it; they said, "Oh, but we use an outside firm, we have no control over those letters" and I was like "but if you hire a firm to do that, don't you get to set the parameters?" But anyway.

One thing I've learned is that there is no petty tyrant like a small-town bureaucrat. I know I tend to be excessively a rule-follower and I fear "humiliation" (actual or in-my-own-mind) more than I should.

When the dunning letter came about the water bill, my dad's reaction was, "Go to the bank. Get the amount of the bill in pennies. Drop them on the water department's desk and tell them you're paid up" but I couldn't do that (because I was afraid they might still cut off my water). And when they harassed me about the alleyway someone told me "Just let them send a guy, then, and they'll send you a bill" BUT I think there is also a fine tied in with that, and I would have had to appear before some kind of board to "explain myself," apparently. (Yes, I know that seems Kafkaesque and this is the US, but....)

So I don't know. I'm hoping again it was a misdial, because REALLY you would hope someone would have the courtesy to leave a message if I needed to take some action. But this has triggered all my insecurities and taken me from "things are going along pretty okay" to "now I'm going to worry for the next two weeks." And yes, I know I am too good at dreading things; my default response to "What is the worst that can happen?" is "The very worst possible thing." (In this case: being dragged before some board to "explain" why I don't have a better-kempt yard, and be fined, and be given some ridiculously-short window to get it into compliance, so I wind up hurting myself trying to do it myself....)

Also, the "uneven application" of the rules bugs me a lot - there are houses with trash all around in the yard, old appliances, where noise is always an issue, and nothing is ever done about those. But let the privet get a little tall at my place, and all Hell breaks loose. (Yes, it is EXACTLY like the cop pulling the guy over for going 10 mph over the speed limit when everyone else is going 20-25 mph: "You, I could catch.")

This does not help as much as I thought it would:





If I were doing it all over again? I might have chosen a property OUTSIDE of town.


ETA: I am telling myself to be reasonable about this:

a. The two times the city came after me for "brush in the alley" they did it only by letter
b. The previous time the city called me and left no message, it was apparently a misdial because nothing came of it.
 and

c. there are people on my street with far, far worse yards/alleys than mine right now

Also the mail came before I came back here. Didn't see a letter from the city but my Doki Doki box came, and also a quilt magazine. So I left Pfred (see photo above) propped up in my big chair and he is guarding the box and magazine for me until I get home. And also, Pfred is about the closest thing to a friendly face/pet I have to greet me when I come home, so I kind of need that.

It's still hot

I managed to mow last night but that - followed by hanging out online - was about all I got done yesterday evening.

I can still mow lawns, even with my heightened heat sensitivity, but wow, do I feel it in my lungs - lots of sort of gasping for air, and lots of feeling my heart going way faster than it should. (I have read that beta blockers affect one's heat tolerance and I suspect that's true). I got the front yard done okay, took one break to sit on the stoop and drink some of the bottle of water I carried out with me. (I also poured a little out on the anthropoconglomerate* paver next to the sidewalk, hoping the bumblebees would see it if they needed water, but apparently they did not.

(*There is a sedimentary rock called conglomerate that looks like a bunch of pebbles cemented together. Well, this is a human-made paver in that style: that concrete stuff embedded with small roundish rocks for traction. Therefore, anthropoconglomerate)

The back yard was harder, but it always is. For some reason (more shade?) it seems to grow thicker and taller grass. Luckily, I also have an old metal lawn chair back there so I could mow a few passes and then sit down to let my breathing slow. (The dewpoint was 73, which I definitely was feeling - it was like I couldn't get enough air into my lungs).

I did wind up hearing my across the alleyway neighbor. I've long had problems with the various people who inhabited that house - some years back, the dude living their catcalled and propositioned me (sort of) while I was out working in my garden. Which is just wrong. I mean, it's wrong to have to be catcalled on a public street but it seems worse on one's own property. Now it's a different couple, they fight and yell at each other, and last night, the guy came home and yelled "Woman, where's my dinner?" as he went in the door - and no, I don't think it was one of those running-joke things some couples have where one person says something that sounds offensive but it's actually a big joke they both laugh about.

Yeah. "Woman, where's my dinner?" like it was the 1880s or something.

Sometimes I feel bad about being single. Yesterday evening was not one of those times because I was reminded there are things worse than coming home to a silent house and then having to cook your own dinner.

I do think I pulled that muscle in my side again - I seem to pull it every time I mow. Oh well.

***

Next week I do something for the first time ever. Every quarter, the church I belong to delivers Meals on Wheels (in my town, it's almost entirely a volunteer effort - the food may be paid for by the government, I don't know, but it seems most of the labor is volunteer). I said I'd do it seeing as I otherwise never can (and several of the regular drivers are out of town).

I have Thursday AND Friday. Okay, fine. (Normally people just get one day). I'm a bit apprehensive because I've never done this before, I may be doing it ALONE (shortage of people) and it's also going and talking to people I don't know and that's really scary. But it needs to be done so I'll do it.

***

I need to motivate myself to get some work done because I promised myself that I could knock off early this afternoon and do some sewing or knitting (I am taking a rest day from working out). I want to do more on the "birb" quilt.And maybe look over the Mary Engelbreit quilt (to check for water stains and to see what kind of pressing it needs) with an aim of getting it to the longarmer.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday morning things

EDITED TO ADD: NEW RULE TIME FOR COMMENTING: because of a spate of vague anonymous comments that seem to be positive but have little reference to the post they're made on, and I am suspicious that they are somehow a "test" before something bigger, I will NO LONGER APPROVE comments that are not "signed." You can still comment as "anonymous" but please tell me IN the comment who you are, or chances are, your comment will go where the goblins go, yo-ho, yo-ho.


* Purlewe: on "not needing" a giant Totoro: I feel the same way. Don't need one, have nowhere to put it, and yet, I kinda want one.

Then again, I didn't really "need" Pfred but ironically I find some nights when I'm sad or worried being able to throw an arm over him helps. And he helps make a little "nest" to have my head down in, so the light coming in (like, when the moon is full) is blocked a little.

Though I wonder: if something makes you happy and improves your sleep, isn't it kind of, sort of, a "need"? As someone who's had off and on insomnia (thank goodness, almost never for more than a night or two) down through the years, anything that improves sleep is important and valuable and somehow Pfred makes me feel "safe" and so I sleep better.

* My student e-mailed me: won't be here, her whole family is down with a stomach bug. Midweek least week (Wednesday), maybe I had the same thing - I never get VERY sick with stomach bugs (I think it's the yogurt I eat and the probiotics) but enough is going on to make me unhappy. And I lost my appetite, and I was chilled and tired.

So maybe it wasn't another "surprise! Now you are intolerant of this food that formerly was totally innocent!" (I was wondering it about sweet potato, as that was one thing I ate before the last bout) and just a virus where I didn't get clearly sick enough to go "Yup, it's a virus."

My appetite is back. I made "roasted" chicken thighs last night (just put poultry seasoning on them - and a little butter, as, annoyingly, like so many chicken parts now, you can only get boneless-and-skinless and bone-in tastes better and skin-on doesn't dry out so much.)

* One of the cases where knowing a bit of history* makes you cynical. This is making the rounds on Twitter:



Um, the very same Walter Winchell who was known for "attempting to destroy the careers of people both private and public whom he disliked" (From his Wikipedia biography....I just kind of looked there to verify what I kind of already suspected. And apparently he even went after Josephine Baker, who HAD been a friend, for calling him out over something. Ugh, I guess childishness among adults isn't a 21st century phenomenon)

I don't know but some of his behavior - particularly the "I'm going to destroy you by revealing this sensitive information you don't want out there" is the very example of adult bullying, and also, he seems not to have stood by his friends all that well...

And yeah, it's perhaps not as simple as that: apparently he was also anti-Nazi, but....the way he treated some people was, to use a modern turn of phrase, "problematic"

(*Very likely I first learned who he was from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon, though also the lyrics of "The Lady is a Tramp" reference him, in that the eponymous "trampy" lady (who is really rather more a "good sort but perhaps not refined") reads every line of Winchell)

I mean, I like the photo - it features two of my favorite animals - but I really, really side-eye that quotation. Surely they could have found someone a bit more, I don't know, pure in their motives? Or perhaps they figure no one knows who Winchell was any more?

* So many future quilt plans. I think what I'm going to try to be a lot more about now is using fabric in a pattern I sort-of like for it, instead of trying to find the "perfect" pattern - and I want to start working down on the mountain of pre-cuts I have.

I am also seriously considering pressing off the Mary Engelbreit quilt and taking it in to be quilted this week. I did see one tiny place that looks like a water spot on it and I am really hoping it did not get wet or something when the roof in that room leaked. (If there is any water damage, it's very minimal, and I MIGHT be able to wash the quilt top on the gentle cycle if I have to - or wash it in a pillowcase so it doesn't fray)

I also learned from the latest e-mail from the quilt place that at least one of the women working there has the same surname as the owner of the car lot - so yes, it is a daughter, and either an unmarried daughter or someone who kept her maiden name.

I also bought a new Pam and Nicky Lintott Jelly Roll book at the JoAnn's (they have quite a line of them out). There are several quilts in there I want to make, so it will be good for working down on the accumulated fabric, and I may even have enough of the right "backgrounds" in the stash to work.

I also want to pull out the second sleeve of the Hagrid sweater and get back to that; it would be nice to have the sweater all finished for the first cold day in fall and it really will not take that long.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

new top begun!

So I got all the cutting done, and decided to do one trial block first (just to be sure everything fits together correctly; it is not impossible for a pattern to have errors).

BIRB!

BIRB!

I am super pleased with this. It came out very nicely, and what I can do now is just happily motor on with the sewing - first doing the "flying geese" units (the triangles) for a bunch, then, as I feel like it, putting them together into blocks.

This is the first "just one color" quilt I have ever made and I have to admit the idea of it (as well as the execution, at least as far as I can see here) pleases me a lot. And it also amuses me, because I can call it my "birb" quilt.

the newest quilt

My plan for this afternoon is to finish cutting all the background bits for the "birb" quilt, and maybe even start a bit of sewing on it, but as I was cutting, I noticed the sun had come out, so I decided to run out and take a photo of the newest quilt - the one I put the binding on last week.

This is the one I got done at Lulu and Hazel's and I'm contemplating my stack of unquilted tops to decide which one I want to take down there next to get done - whether to do the "crossfire" quilt top I just finished, or take an older one and get it done. (I have one older top with some Mary Engelbreit fabrics that I already have the backing sewn up for; I would just need to press it off again)

Anyway. I decided to grab some photos of the quilt while the sun was out:

book of stamps long shot

It's a lot paler fabrics than I normally use, but I think it makes the quilting stand out more.

book of stamps finished

The fabric is one of those jelly roll cuts (for the "stamps) plus some coordinating yardage for the "frames" of the 16-patches.

book of stamps back

I chose a grey for the back (there are greys, and also sort of a taupe, mixed in with the peach and teal). The yellow flowers pick up the little bit of yellow in the front. I tend to prefer a print fabric for the back of my quilts even if it is more expensive than a plain color.

book of stamps close up 2

And here's a close up, showing the binding. I've come to  like darker or more intensely-colored bindings on my quilts; they seem to "frame" them well.

I'm pretty happy with it. Right now, of course, it's too hot for a quilt on the bed. (I still have one "to look at" but wind up peeling it back when I get into bed at night). One thing I didn't mention in my post about yesterday's trip: Kroger's already had a back-to-school aisle going on, and JoAnn's already had halloween and fall decorations up. (It's slightly unsettling, 4+ months before halloween, to round the corner of an aisle and see simulated cat and dog skeletons on display). On the one hand, it makes me sad because it makes me feel the ever-accelerating passage of time (I have just over a month left to lick this new class into shape) but on the other hand, I find it oddly comforting to remember there will be a time when it won't be 110 in the shade and things like sleeping under a quilt is appealing....

but yeah, it seems *awfully* early for halloween stuff....

Saturday, July 08, 2017

And I'm home

Something I've noticed: either there are more poor drivers on the road, traffic in the Sherman/Denison area has gotten worse, or (and?) I've become less tolerant* of traffic.

(*In the sense of not being frightened/freaked out by things that happen, not in the sense of getting angry - I'm pretty good at keeping my temper under control, though I do feel my frustration rising when, for example, there's someone going 20 mph below the speed limit without good cause (like, if they had a trailer they were towing, that might be good cause) but with a phone mashed to their ear. But even that, I can take a deep breath and tell myself remaining calm means I'm more likely to get whereever safely)

But yeah. And also, in Sherman (just like here), there are a few cases of construction on streets I need to use, and as a result, there are truly inelegant detours I have to take. (I joked the other day that maybe the road-construction companies were in cahoots with the gas stations, and all the detours made people burn more gas, so they had to buy more gas).

And I do think there are more bad/aggressive drivers out there. Today, driving down, there was someone in one of those big-jacked-up-suspension-so-they-can-go-mudding pickup trucks weaving in and out of lanes of traffic with nary a turn signal. (I don't like lane jockeys to begin with, but it's worse when they won't signal). The truck had "BIG SEXY" stenciled on the back window so it's not like they would be un-obvious if they committed an actual lawbreaking infraction....

But I got it done.

It was nice to get to Home A La Mode again. They were out of the Meow or Never fabric (that was the line the charm packs were from) but I think now I'll just dig something out of the stash and use it. I did find some other fabric I wanted, though, and also a very large quilt stencil that might work for a quilt top in my to-be-quilted pile. And the people there are just nice and it's nice to be fussed over a little, which is a big feature of why I like small businesses instead of megastores.

(And yes, I realize that it's slightly pathetic that I look to the people working in a shop to fuss over me, but - I'm usually the one in my friend-group who does the fussing-over people, and I also have a hard time asking for that sort of thing, and as I said a while back: when you've projected an image of yourself for so long as The Strong Tough Independent One, it's kind of hard to walk that back)

And I went to Kaboodles. Bought another one of the lemongrass candles I liked. (So many scents bother my allergies that when I find one that doesn't, I like to have multiples of it). And a bar of that "Monk Soap" (Made by Benedictine monks in Louisiana). It's called "Solemn Vespers" and is a strong spicy scent - I think there's perhaps cinnamon in it. I'm thinking it will be a good soap to use in the summer - I, ahem, have to use very strong deodorizing soap when it's this hot and I'm working outside. And anyway, good smelling soap is just one of the small pleasures of life, and I tend to feel that if you can afford the small pleasures like that (I can), it's worth taking them.

I also found a book by Clare Boothe (before she was Luce, apparently, and apparently also before she became quite so political) called Europe in the Spring that purports to be an eyewitness account of what was happening in the late 30s there. I don't know. It was $5, it looked kind of interesting, and it also has all kinds of bits of paper inserted in it and I admit part of the fun of used books is seeing what stuff people have left in their old books - if there's anything really cool, I'll post a photo. (I once found some Confederate scrip - I am pretty sure it was real - in an old book I bought at a used book sale)

Also got barbecue for lunch. And went to JoAnn's. It's kind of a crapshoot these days with the coupons; you might have a really good one but then everything you want is on sale for a considerably lower percent than the coupon offers (and you can't use the coupon on on-sale things), but I did manage to get a big chunk of cream-colored Kona cotton (for a future quilt using one of my 1930s reproduction fabric Jelly Rolls) for 50% off.  Also the new issue of Quilty is out, which pleases me (I should subscribe as soon as they start taking subscribers).

And I got food, including some prosciutto, for my plan of trying a pasta with prosciutto, lightly-cooked spinach, and a garlic/oil sauce.

But yeah - I like getting out, I enjoy being able to go to do fun shopping, but crikey, the drive isn't fun any more. (I know people who are saying that Dallas is gradually creeping north and perhaps they're correct; perhaps my reduced tolerance of the traffic is because it's gotten heavier and some of the drivers are more aggressive).

Though next time I do this, it will be going earlier in the morning (so: at a time of lesser traffic) and I will quickly be getting off 75 and on to 69 - my trip in 2 weeks to Longview to meet up with Laura.


Big stuffed Totoro

If I didn't already have Pfred, I'd be tempted to do this:



That's really a pretty solid short tutorial on how to make a simple ('flatsy style") stuffed toy. It works well for Totoro, might not work so well for other critters. (I think if one wanted to make a big Pony, you'd need two body pieces, an underbody, and a separate head, probably with a head gusset).

(Using fleece is important: fleece doesn't ravel so you can do things like raw-edge applique the decorations on without worrying. Also fleece tends to be more "forgiving" than woven fabric is)

But it would be kind of fun to have a giant-sized Totoro (I'm a biggish person, so it would probably have to be 7 or 8 feet long, and proportionally wide, in order for me to be able to lie on it like that small woman is at the end of the video).