Sunday, November 19, 2017

Brubeck's "To Hope!"

This is a part of a celebration Mass Dave Brubeck (yes, that Dave Brubeck, and yes, he wrote some religious music) wrote.

Nothing too deep here other than that I like it, and I think we all need the kind of hope and joy evinced in this:

Christmas knitting done

I finished the gift-exchange hat today:

gift hat ii

This is an older yarn, but it is nicer (nicer fibers and colors) than the all-acrylic one I had thought of using. It's Filatura di Crosa "Sempre," and I've had it for at least 10 years. (I bought five or six balls on closeout for a scarf that will probably never get made.)

The ball was 95 meters, and it took almost every bit - that yarn on the chair under the hat is what was left over at the end of kitchenering.

So now I can shift over to my own projects for the rest of the time.

I also added a few more decorations:

A garland over the window:

window garland

Ive had this a couple years.  It used to go on the mantel but now that Ponyville is there pretty much permanently, I decided to hang it up over the window instead. 


And a wreath. On my bathroom door. As you do.

(Well really: I bought it on a good sale and I REALLY liked it - it's one that lights up, it has a battery pack and a timer - and figured I'd just chance if it was thin enough to go between my front door and the screen door. It isn't, so I put it up on the bathroom instead. But with the timer on, it stays lit past my bedtime so for at least the first part of the night, serves as a nightlight if I go to the bathroom after bed....)

I'm almost packed. I do still have to get the toiletries and a couple other items in or two. Am probably going to cancel my office hours tomorrow so I can get home a bit early and take care of the few last things.

I have three vintage British mysteries and a book on Churchill. And two pairs of socks - one already underway, the other to be cast on. I expect that will be enough to keep me busy even if I wind up having to sit somewhere for a while.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

the tree photos

I finally had time (and was in the right headspace*) to photograph the tree

(*I figure: my dad's going to come home EVENTUALLY. If he isn't home for Thanksgiving, it might actually be more comfortable for him from the standpoint of not being in an overflowing house with a dog and two cats (tripping hazard) and an active small child. I mean, the food thing will stink, but my mom said she'd freeze some of the Thanksgiving food and keep it for when he got home. If he isn't home. He might well be if they figure some way to get him more mobile quickly and if the muscle takes a turn for the better. I've decided at this point hoping he's home for Christmas is probably the best to hope for, and just be overjoyed if they get it sorted earlier.)

(Edited to add, about 8 pm: My mom just called. There's more than half a chance, it sounds like, they'll send my dad home on Monday, he's showing some improvement in mobility and pain. That would be a huge relief and would make Thanksgiving a lot nicer. Also, my brother and his family decided not to bring the cats. The dog is still coming but he's no problem: he's well behaved and big enough not to pose the kind of trip hazard a small cat might.

I'm hoping the improvement continues so my dad DOES get to come home. I won't know for sure until I get up there because if he's released, it will be when I'm already on the road, but....I'll find out when I get there. I also reminded my mom I could do any necessary marketing and also to much of the prep-cooking (pies and stuff like cranberry sauce) on Wednesday....)

Anyway. Here's the whole tree:

whole tree

And some of the individual ornaments. These are a mix of old and new. Most of the new ones (the silver icicles, the glittery pinecones, the sheep and other fiber animals, and the vintagey red-and-green glass) are from Target. The rest have been acquired various places over the years.

tree top

Treetop angel. I've had this for years. No, I did not crochet it - it came from one of the big box craft stores, so probably someone in China or the Philippines made it. (Somewhere my mom has one either she or her mom made. We don't use it any more because we have another one - I might see if she'd be willing to part with it because one someone in my family made would have more meaning.)

lots of ornaments

Just a bunch of ornaments, a mix of old and new. A lot of the old ones are the really small ones because my old tree was like 3 1/2 feet tall.

Rarity, snoopies, shark

The sequinned hammerhead shark, and also my Rarity ornament, and the Snoopy gingerbread house (that one came from the Hallmark).


Another Hallmark ornament: this is Moondancer, in her G1 form. I *think* this is the only G1 representation among Hallmark ornaments; maybe they will do more. (Or do a G3 Minty, who would be pretty perfect as a Christmas ornament)

Good Ol' Eeyore

Eeyore and a bison from the Target (they had several ornaments of "fiber animals" though I don't know if that was the intention - I have a llama, a musk ox or yak (hard to tell) and this guy)

I've had the Eeyore FOREVER - as long as I've been putting up a tree on my own.


And my other sequinned sea creature: a narwhal. Along with one of the anthropomorphic sheep from Target.

Fluttershy and Luna

Fluttershy and (not so visible) Luna. The only one of the Main Six I lack is Applejack - I know there is an ornament of her out. I don't know if they made one of Celestia but I'd want that one too, if it were available.

Pinkie, Rudolph, RD, Pusheen

Rudolph (another Hallmark ornament) and Rainbow Dash and you can see Pinkie peeking out from behind a tiny Hello Kitty. (Twilight is also on the tree but I guess I didn't get her in any photos).


And a few more. The rabbit was a gift from an aunt and uncle a few years ago (before everyone decided to quit doing the "gifts to grown adult kids" thing)

And I'm glad now I bought a "big" tree, and I'm glad I decorated it WEDNESDAY night - before the whole kerfuffle with my dad; Thursday night I might have got half through it and just not felt like doing more.

Comedy of errors

If I get my second exam written after lunch, maybe I work up the motivation to photograph the tree.

But this morning, oy.

I'm on communion duty this month (with another person; she did last week and will do next week). We had run out of the disposable plastic cups that we use (yes, disposable, but that means less concern about communicable diseases and also they are much LIGHTER).

I was expecting the secretary would get more. By the time I was down there this morning, she had not. I assumed that meant one of two things: something came up at home and she couldn't, or they could not be obtained locally. But I decided to try the Christian supplies shop just in case. Called them: no answer. Okay, fine, they're just downtown.So I drove down there.

And met with an empty storefront.

Yup, even the Christian-supplies shop has left us.

I didn't want to drive out to wal-mart on the random chance they had them (there are a few craft projects that call for such a thing). I really didn't want to drive to Sherman, where there is a Lifeway that would have them.

The other option was to use the old glass cups - which are heavier and have to be washed and sterilized after use. And are harder to fill without making a mess.

I tried calling the secretary's cell phone - no answer. Called her husband at home. He said "Yes, she got more bread...." but didn't mention cups so I figured those were not available. (He also said the Christian-supplies shop has moved, but I don't know).

So I figured, I was on my own.

I wound up having to wash the glass cups - they had been stored in a sealed container but were extremely dusty. I washed about 65. (we had a few plastic cups left, but not enough). Also washed the trays because no one else had for a while, apparently.

It took a while.

And filling the glass cups - there's more splashing and mess. I finally got it done.

And returned home to a message from the secretary: she had the cups but "time got away" from her and was bringing them down that moment.

So, yeah.

I did all that work for nothing.
And I'm probably gonna get complained at for the "too heavy" glass cups. And I may wind up having to be the one to wash and sterilize them.

Normally the secretary is a "have things done well before time" person so I assumed the absence of cups meant they were unobtainable. Oh well.

On the upside, the KnitPicks order I made came. I might take the new Felici I bought along for socks, and just cast on and knit simple socks: if my dad is still in the hospital, I expect at least one long day up there visiting, and will want something like simple knitting.

But yeah. I'm tired of things being such a mess. I want things to go smoothly for a while.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Not as hoped...

Good news: nothing is broken, it's apparently just a muscle thing.
Bad news: unless he's able to get more mobile (partly a matter of being willing to, working against the pain), he may wind up going to a rehab center for a while.

This sucks. I mean, the good news, is it sounds like it will eventually get better if not totally better, but it just kind of sucks. And this is a bad time of year for it to happen.

Also, apparently being on a "Cardiac menu" in the hospital REALLY sucks, and my mom says she doubts we'd be permitted to bring him Thanksgiving dinner if he's still there. (Good lord, hospital. The man is 82. Let him have one decent meal while he's there).

The other good news is my mom says the nurses are good (well, this is a hospital that is, or at least used to be, affiliated with a big nursing school, so one would hope so) and the doctor said he understood what the pain was like, as he apparently had the same injury. (Which gives me hope that they can do something to improve my dad's status)

My brother is apparently still going to bring his whole menagerie, and they will be there before I get there.

I'm just....I'm tired of holidays being such a jumbled up mess where someone's hurt and everything's chaotic.

I hope Christmas is better.

I really hope my dad doesn't have to go to a rehab center :(

Don't get me wrong: I'm grateful that he's improving and I'm glad it was nothing worse than a strain on an already painful muscle, but....part of it is the not-knowing. Not knowing if he'll be home for Thanksgiving, or if I'll have to find my own way from the train station (and back to it on Friday), or whatever. (Dangit. I should have got more cash. Well, I guess most taxis take credit cards, if it comes to that. Or maybe my mom's friend Debbie can get me, if she's in town.)

On the other hand: I am not having the gloomy thoughts I was having last night, when I didn't know the full extent of his injuries for sure - apparently is is just a muscle that is involved, nothing spinal. So while it sucks, hopefully he will be coming home soon, with more comfort and better mobility than he had had.

Now I'm glad I have a couple of those vintage British mystery reprints saved back; will take them to read on the train and also if I need to escape from the chaos while up there. (I do not plan on really doing much, if any, knitting - won't take the knitting out of my room with 2 untrained cats, a dog, and a small child there, none of whom understand that chewing on yarn or pulling needles out of projects is not cool). 

Hanging in there

Friends have reassured me that it's common to keep older people in hospital overnight as a "safety" thing (to make sure nothing else is wrong, and yeah, he's on a blood thinner, so any injury could trigger later bleeding). And I guess he was in a lot of pain; a couple other times he either refused to go, or, the other ER visit in 2016, he insisted on going home.

My mom said she'd call tonight. I figure not getting a call before then is good news. I'm hoping the result is that he gets sent home today, or, failing that, they have some therapy they can do that will lead to improvement quickly. I suppose the other option is they send him to a "rehab center" or somesuch (which he would hate) to try to build up strength and balance. (He was doing PT, but had some other health issues that interfered a bit).

I slept okay - surprisingly - but had that other weird sensation upon waking: a brief moment of feeling like everything was okay, followed almost immediately by the "oh, no..." of remembering the worry of last night. (There MUST be a word for that: perhaps in German or one of the Scandinavian languages).

At least I have this weekend "off," except for writing the exams ahead. I'm still feeling not-too-great; the cold has progressed to the "mucus congestion" stage and I've started taking guafenisin to hopefully prevent chest congestion (though I find it also helps with sinus congestion). Yes, it's OK to take with my other meds, I made sure to check on that years back.

I just, my main sensation about this is DO NOT WANT. Partly for my dad's sake, because I know it sucks mightily to be in hospital and not be able to do what you want (apparently they also marked him down for "heart healthy diet" and my mom says the soup they brought him last night was inedible, and then they wouldn't even let him have ice cream, because....heart healthy.)

But I admit, partly selfishly for my own sake. It's hard for me not to worry and to look ahead and go, "Okay, these are the things I have to think about for when he's gone" and I'm not ready to contemplate all of that yet. And I also feel like, after a hard semester and year in general, it's not right to have to face up to THIS, too. Like 2016 was, this year has been a year of, "REALLY? this TOO?" events.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

no pictures yet

Guys, I'm not up for it tonight.

My mom just called. They were going out for a doctor's appointment and my dad - who uses a walker - apparently slipped off the front porch step and fell. They called the EMTs and he went to the ER. A CAT scan turned up no neck injury, and apparently there is no real spinal injury (possibly a tiny, non-displaced fracture to one of the "wings" of one of the vertebrae but the neurologist said there was nothing they did for those and it doesn't pose a danger). The possible fracture is on the opposite side from the pain (it is on the right, pain is on the left) so presumably it is not the cause. And the doctor said they did nothing for them anyway.

Apparently it's muscular. He possibly had a torn muscle in the back (old injury) and I know he's fallen a few times over the years. (And for a number of years, before he saw a podiatrist and got a lift made for one shoe - he had one leg marginally shorter than the other and it has caused a little scoliosis, which may be a source of the pain)

They are keeping him overnight "for observation" and also for pain control.

I am, understandably, not happy about this development. I asked my mom if she would prefer I cancel my Thanksgiving trip (If it's going to be too much chaos) and she said no.

But yeah. Not up to photographing my tree.

I just hope I can shut off the worrying enough to sleep tonight.

ETA: on further thought, with my brother and sister in law AND their kid AND the whole menagerie, my mom probably needs me there. I will probably be the one upon whom cooking and dishwashing duties fall if my dad needs extra help (if he's even home then....sob).

(It would be nice if my brother could be persuaded to board his animals but I don't think that will happen).

I'm just bracing myself to be the Maiden Aunt who Does All The Work this break, and telling myself I MUST be gracious and cheerful about it.

I just hope - dear God - that Christmas 2016 wasn't the last Christmas I get to have with my dad. Going to go cry a little now...

in the news

I just heard this afternoon that the board in my state that governs things like legislative compensation voted to issue a nearly 9% pay cut to Legislators.

You might remember, with the furlough days I withstood in Spring 2016 amounted to about a 9% pay cut. (I will refrain from mentioning the essentially-50% pay cut for summer teaching that year).

But, I don't know. There seems to me something quite....poetically just....about this action, given the dithering on the budget.

In fact, I have the perfect .gif to sum up my reaction:

Well, another character from that show might have another perspective:

Yeah, I don't know. Most of the folks in the Legislature, I think, have side careers where they earn more money....more than I do, even without the 9% pay cut I weathered.

Slowly getting better

I guess. Right now my worst complaints is that my throat is still sore (from what used to be called "catarrh," which I think is a more evocative word than "post-nasal drip") and the hives I got - OMB, the hives - as a response to the virus* are really itchy

(*Apparently this is a thing for some viruses, especially in people prone to hives? I looked it up online and the couple of urticaria sites that referred to it seemed to treat it as no big deal, so I won't worry. But I'll be glad when they're gone. It does seem any more when my immune system is challenged, I get more hives: got a few after the flu vaccine)

I did push through and decorate the tree last night. I had enough ornaments, especially after stopping at Lowe's (for hooks) and buying a box of glass balls in silver glitter, copper-color, and white with gold and silver stripes.

Yes, I prefer the glass balls. I looked at the "shatterproof" ornaments, but they always look kind of cheap and compromise-y to me. Like, "Yes, we have hyper dogs and a small child, but we still want to put up a tree, so here, let's have some plastic things that look like glass." I was hoping the technology on these things had got better, but you can still see the seams from the molds and the chunkiness and everything.

And anyway: it's just me in the house and I kind of bent the hooks around the branches so I expect the ornaments will stay on.

Even at that, I had a REALLY hard time putting anything breakable on the lower branches: memories of years and years in a house with cats. We used to have a tradition of putting bells - real bells, like the sleigh-bell type jingle bells - on the lower branches because when my parents cats were young and rambunctious, it served as an early-warning system that one was messing with the tree. They never tried to climb it, but when they were young, they did like to lie under it and sometimes swat at the ornaments - so we just put light, unbreakable things (and the bells) on the lower branches.

I have a lot of ornaments. I even didn't wind up using all I had, partly because I ran out of steam (I may fill in one or two gaps, as I spot them, later this week. And I do want to run to the CVS just on the off chance the Applejack ornament that is supposedly out is there....Amazon has it but only in a 2-pack with Twilight, which I already have, and also I think they were "third party prices," which I tend to be unwilling to pay.)

I have LOTS of "toy" type ornaments: the My Little Ponies, yes, but also a couple of Snoopies and Hello Kitty and a SpongeBob SquarePants I totally forgot I had. And lots of just little soft-toy things: a couple of reindeer, a few unicorns (one from this year's collection at Target), some mice...I suspect it's showing my 1970s roots that I have a lot of handmade (or handmade-looking) ornaments, and my tree isn't really "themed."

We never did "themed" trees when I was a kid - it was just "what ornaments do we have and which ones to do we like?" Every year a few of the glass balls would perish as someone dropped them, or one of the cornhusk ornaments would crumble or get an infestation of bugs...we always had more ornaments than we put up, anyway. But some of my friends, their families did "themed" trees where the ornaments were all one color or shape, or it had a theme like "lodge style" or some such, and I often wondered: what did they do with the ornaments after the theme was over? Because some people had different themes every year. (Now that I think of it: it's entirely possible all the stuff was rented. I think I've seen businesses locally that do that. But that makes me kind of sad because I always liked seeing the same ornaments come out each December.)

I just realized I didn't get my Rudolph out....I will have to find that ornament and put it up.

So I don't have to go to Sherman this weekend, and I don't think I will. For one thing: I need the time to be sure I'm FULLY recovered before traveling for Thanksgiving next week (It will be semi chaos at my parents' house: my brother and sister-in-law are bringing both their dog and their two new cats, and my niece is now 5 and apparently pretty hyper). Also, I could get a start on writing an exam I give the week we come back....that would make my life easier if I did that.

And it will be nice to just have some quiet time at home. And to finish the AAUW hat gift.

Photos of the tree will come, but will come later, after I get home and get a few things done this afternoon.

But it was nice to focus on that. I half-watched a Hallmark channel movie ("Carols and Angels," or some such? One of the characters was an angel, apparently in Clarence Oddbody mode, who was supposed to get a particular man and woman to fall in love, because they were destined for each other?) while I trimmed the tree but yeah.That kind of thing puts me in a better headspace than the news (the worst news of late: the guy in California who went on a "killing rampage" even though his neighbors had apparently called the cops for some time warning he was dangerous. The most potentially interesting in a geopolitical sort of way, so probably won't get reported on much Stateside: what's going on in Zimbabwe. I'm hoping hard that if Mugabe gets ousted, they have elections, some reasonable person gets elected, and things go better for the ordinary people of that nation, but I think "hope" is about the best I can say there...)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Did one thing

After teaching my 2 classes, I just headed home - the paper is done and in, the exams for later in the week are written, and I don't really have any grading. I figured I would get better faster at home, and I do feel some better now.

Better enough to do this:

new tree

Yeah, I assembled the new tree. (It's hard to photograph a big thing when you have a small house and your camera doesn't have a wide-angle type feature).

It was much easier than I anticipated - it's just three big segments that hook together, the two lower ones have the branches on hinges, and then you "fluff" them out. (I can see places where I need to do more of that).

I figure that's enough for today; tomorrow I might see about putting the lights on.

I did wind up having to move the piano a little (closer to the wall) and I still am afraid the tree takes up too much space - there's not really space to do the dvd workout now (and I'd be afraid, with the jumping moves, of jiggling an ornament off).

I still might try and see about moving the table away from the front window and putting the tree THERE. Bonus of that would be it could be seen from the street, especially if I put the lights on a timer, then they could turn on if I'm out in the evening and I could see them when I come home. I will have to try that, because having the tree in the window instead of the curve of the piano might be a better choice.

(It's wider than I anticipated...)

I should probably get out a measuring tape and try measuring first before I do all the shuffling of stuff. Because I also have to be able to get to the piano...

(yeah, no. Not gonna work. Glad I measured first).

I think I will need to get more ornaments for the tree given how big it is, but that can be a project for this weekend, maybe. Hopefully I'll be over this by then - I'm feeling a good bit better this afternoon; I suspect all the extra sleep last night helped. (I'm still running a little fever though, so I don't know)

Also, this came yesterday and I photographed it, but was feeling too poorly to post:

shipping bag

That's a compression bag (which was itself within a large box).

When the bag is opened, the item inside expands:


It's Polaris! Who I have decided, from the expression and generally delicate color scheme, is a "she."

I still have to kind of squish her back into shape, but here she is.

I will have to be kind of careful only to hug her when my face is clean, given how pale she is. I have a tendency to wear too much powder and it rubs off on things (sometimes my clothes).

Edited to add: Decided to put the lights on. These are LED twinkle lights and I am very happy with them. I bought six boxes - there are 60 to a strand - but only needed four. Not sure what to do with the other two - could return them, if I can find my receipt. Or I could put them up somewhere else in the house. Or I could even ask around if there's some family that wants to do a little decorating but can't afford two. Two boxes of lights is not a lot, but it's better than nothing.

And here's the tree:


yes, a cold.

I started feeling worse after I got home yesterday. I decided to take my temperature, on the grounds of "if you have a fever, you are contagious" and as one of the CWF members has a husband doing chemo....well, I didn't want to pass potential sick on.

It was 99.5. As my temperature normally runs a bit below average (98.6 is merely an average value, it's not the "right" or the "ideal" one), I figured I was sick. So I called one of the women to let her know and decided to just bail on CWF.

That was a good decision because then I started getting VERY chilled. Well, it had started in my office, which is often too cold in the "transitional" period (and has a vent that blows cold air down on my neck). I turned the thermostat up to 72 - as high as I am willing to go - and was still cold, so finally around 7 pm I just gave up, got into pajamas, heated up my buckwheat bags, and got into bed with them. I read most of this week's issue of "The Week" (normally comes on Saturday but there was no mail delivery this Saturday for Veteran's Day). Was going to read the new Interweave but felt so tired by the end of "The Week" that I just went to sleep.

I slept okay, but one of the weird features of viruses for me - and I don't think this is just that I'm drinking more fluids - is that I have to get up for the bathroom more often, so every couple hours I was up. Well, it also gave a chance to try to clear out my sinuses from a standing position. And to drink more water for my scratchy throat, though that of course exacerbated the other problem.

I did finally wake up in the middle of the night and was HOT instead of cold (I have a wool mattress topper, which holds a lot of heat, and it often happens I warm up overnight). I was hoping that meant the fever had broken but I still had it this morning.

Yes, I am in at work. If it were earlier in the semester and I were not giving a quiz in one class I might have taken a sick day. At least when I walk out of class around noon or so, I have nothing else I have to be doing, so I can just go home and stay home.

The worst part right now, I think, is some muscle aches - the coldness has subsided, the sore throat is a bit better, but the back of my neck and my shoulders and lower back hurt (this is not terribly uncommon for me with colds, and I don't think I'm sick enough for this to be a flu, and anyway, I had the flu shot so hopefully I am protected against the most common strains).

I am also very tired. I got up, got dressed, and then went back and laid down in bed for another 10 minutes because it wore me out to just go through all the rituals of washing and combing hair and applying makeup and putting clothes on...

I'm hoping I feel a little better, or at least better enough to sit on the floor and try to put the new tree together - my plan was to put it up this week (though I could put that off until Thursday evening, or even the weekend...)

I bought some orange juice on the way home yesterday afternoon but I now remember why I quit drinking orange juice in the morning (other than the sugar content): it's VERY acid and gives me a little indigestion. Ugh. I think lunch today might be one of the "ginger noodle bowls" (an instant food that amazingly is low enough in sodium and contains nothing I'm allergic to) and maybe some cranberry sauce. Yes, that sounds weird, but that kind of sour/astringent stuff appeals to me when I'm stuffed up, and I think I need to dial it back a little on orange juice...maybe make a pot of hibiscus tea and drink that during the afternoon.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Uploaded the rewrite

My student had a few suggestions, which I incorporated, and I made the last few stylistic changes. Uploaded it, plus my non-snarky comments to the editor about how I responded to the reviewers.

I heard back from him that "it shouldn't need to go out for another round of review" so, in the absence of other evidence, I am going to presume that means it's accepted.

This is a short video that pretty much sums up how I feel. (How I feel upon the completion of any big stressful work project, in fact:)

On top of that, I am afraid I'm getting a cold. My throat has been scratchy all day and I've felt cold despite it not being that cold (about 71 F) in my office. I have CWF tonight and I am no longer "in charge," so on the one hand I can just go and sit and not do anything....but on the other hand, if I'm contagious, I probably should not (one of the women has a husband undergoing chemo). I will take my temperature when I get home and if I have a fever, I'll call someone to explain why I won't be there).

I hope this is just allergies - it could be, given the dust I kicked up cleaning my bedroom yesterday - but a check of my temperature will tell me for sure.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

why a stash....

Lots of people question having a "stash" of yarn. (They tend to be people who live near a yarn shop).

Well, I can tell you another "Why you have a stash" story. I started the gift-hat for AAUW and realized those "cake" type yarns change color FAR TOO SLOWLY to work with the hat pattern - it will look really stupid. So I thought, "Do I have a self-striper, that moves fast enough, and is worsted weight?"

About 10 minutes of searching turned up a long-ago Elann purchase, bought for one of those multidirectional diagonal scarves....but a couple balls of it could be repurposed into a hat (also, it's unlikely I'll make that scarf, anyway.

So, ta-da:
Hard to tell the colors, but it's white with multi and brown with multi, and you can see the colors change fairly fast, which is what this hat required. So now to rip out the acrylic (this is nicer yarn anyway: a wool blend) and restart....

And getting ready

*I did buy a new tree yesterday. Went to Home Depot, found an unlit, takes-apart tree that is probably skinny enough. It's 7 1/2 feet tall, which is a bit more than I was anticipating, but I can make it work. (my ceilings are the standard 8'). I did also buy more lights (I have, I think, six strands of 60, which isn't QUITE what they recommend for a six foot tree, but maybe that's people who do the super-intensive "wrap them around the branches" thing, rather than the "drape them" thing, which is what I do.

I'm not sure what to do with the old one. It's not perfect, but it's not totally worn out yet. I don't quite want to just put it to the curb (though perhaps someone would pick it up) but I don't think it's quite good enough to donate, other than maybe to someone I knew really well. (If the college youth group wants a small tree and puts out a call for one, I can do that....)

I confess, buying the tree, and more lights, and more ornaments, my Inner Calvinist popped up and reminded me that I could just as well be giving that money to some group that helped the poor. But I don't know. Perfectionism is something I struggle with a lot - I do tithe, and I give small amounts of money other places as well. You could literally give away every penny that you didn't need to stay alive....and it still wouldn't eliminate need, I don't think. And a lot of people don't give as much as I do.

(I will note in passing seeing many children in the Target whining for toys yesterday, and thinking of how my parents would sternly remind my brother or me that (a) Christmas was coming, so if we REALLY wanted it, we should put it on our list and (b) (When we were really young) "Do you want Santa's helpers to hear you acting like that?"

Of course, most of the toy-whining is "I want it now" not "I want it enough to put it on my Christmas list"

* I also went to Kopper Kettle on the way home, and finished up the last of my for-family shopping - I bought a fancy bread mix and some gardening stuff for my sister-in-law to go with what I already had for her (she likes both baking and gardening) and I bought a tiny pack of heirloom popcorn for my brother.

I also bought this, for myself:


Yes, I know. But it's really nice, it's like a snowglobe that shakes itself - there is a tiny paddlewheel down in there (it runs on batteries) that agitates the water or glycerin or whatever is in there and keeps the "snow" moving.

There's also a light in there (LED, I presume and hope: so it will last better) so it works almost as sort of a nightlight or little ambient additional light. The shop had two; the other one showed the Holy Family but I bought this one on the grounds that I can leave it out into January, since it's just plain "Winter"

* And my Christmas gifts for family are ready to go. I finished my mom's hat this morning:


It's made from Felici Worsted, a striping worsted KnitPicks briefly made (maybe they are bringing it back?). The hat is knitted vertically, using shortrows to shape - it's sort of a clever idea, and works well with these chunky striping yarns. (Yes, it looks small. It stretches A LOT. It will fit her).

It came out looking more "rustic" and less-sophisticated than I envisioned it but I think she will still like it, and anyway, there's not time to get a fancier yarn and try a reboot - I still have one to make for AAUW (I am going to try a Caron Cake type yarn for it - but am concerned the changes will be too slow for it to look right, I will have to see).

* After piano lesson, I spent some time cleaning my bedroom (it NEEDED it). Am going to change the sheets next, and I realized: hey, it's not too early now to put my Paddington Bear Christmas quilt on. This is a quilt I pieced some years back, very simple (just four patches with alternating plan squares) made of three different Christmas fabrics with Paddington - a green background, a red background, and a white background. (The white background has the most interesting detail, so I used it for the big squares). The church quilting group my mom belonged to (which sadly no longer exists) quilted it for me, so I kind of treasure it. But I use it every year because I figure there's little point in treasuring something if you can't (carefully) use it.

And anyway: Paddington is one of the Good Things, I think. I have on good authority that the 2015 movie about him was good (and I have ordered a dvd of it) and apparently another one has been made, and has at least opened in the UK (I hope we get it here, or at least on a dvd that will work in American machines).

I admit I was apprehensive about the movie because I see there is far too much of a modern trend in movies to make them "hip" by putting in rude humor - or feeling that there has to be bathroom humor to appeal to kids. (Oh, how recently that was not so....) I saw an ad for the re-imagining (I am not calling it a remake) of "Ferdinand the Bull" and apparently they have put in flatulence jokes, and....yeah.

I mean, yes, sometimes I laugh at immature humor like that but I tend to feel that children's "classics" should be left more or less intact. (I wonder if they even kept the pacifism message that the book originally had).

But yes. I've rewatched that Marks and Spencer ad that is apparently a clip from the new movie, and remain convinced of its goodness - it is really a short story about redemption, in a way. ("Thank you, little bear.")

And oh, I think that's something some of us need to hear so much. Or at least I need to hear it, right now. I've said, too many times this fall, "The human race is irreedeemably bad" (Well, the Gospels would argue with me on that). Or "I wonder if God has turned His back on us, finally, and we're being left to our own devices in this universe." Because it is easy to turn cynical in the world today, when there is so much cynicism around.

I think one of the things that's changed for me this fall is that I've been watching more news, and I shouldn't do that - I need to watch more cartoons, for one thing*

(*Part of the blame lies with how the channels that show cartoons do their programming. The thing now is rather than regularly scheduling stuff, so, for example, if it's Thursday night, you know it's We Bare Bears, they do blocks. So it's hours and hours and hours, endlessly seeming, of something you don't want, and the stuff you do shows up at random times, so unless you have an "alert on your phone" or some such or dvr stuff, you miss it. Which is slightly unfair to us Luddites who don't want to constantly be pinged by phones or who don't want to pay another $15 a month for the privilege of recording stuff....)

And I've been watching the Hallmark Channel. I've talked about this before but I do think the thing I love in the Christmas specials especially, is it does suggest there are chances at redemption and reconciliation: the person who dislikes Christmas because of unhappy past holidays learns the joy of it; the family member who is estranged comes back into the fold. People get their happily-ever-after, whatever form that may take.

And while I may no longer believe in a literal Santa Claus, or in the possibility that everyone has a "soul mate," or even that everyone gets to have a love of their life, I do want to believe in happily-ever-afters, whatever form that may take. I suppose they don't exist in the earthly world, or at least not for some people, but I want to believe in them as a POSSIBILITY.

Hope is so important. I realize that now; this past year - well, really, since fall of 2015, when some of the budget stuff here started hitting the fan - I've felt my hope diminish. I thought "Maybe this is actually what midlife feels life" or "maybe this is the "Is that all there is" that Peggy Lee sang about" but maybe it really was just being too plugged into the cynical and disappointing side of life.

And even if the hope is false hope, it's still nicer than the alternative. (I think of Puddleglum, in that scene in "The Silver Chair," where he tells the Green Witch that even if Aslan was a lie and a game for babies, that "lie" beat the "real" world all hollow, and yes, I can see that. And I wonder if there isn't a sort of....nihilism, the false sophistication of snarking at everything and not enjoying - and trying not to let others enjoy - the simple things and the sweet things and yes, the things that are maybe a little bit corny. But sometimes a little corniness is pleasant, and it takes the harder edges off the world.

* Possible further proof God has a sense of humor: This week was the first week we did a "lockdown" on the church, where all the doors were locked but the main one, and that one was locked once services started.

The Scripture for today (in the lectionary): Matthew 25: 1-13. That is: the parable of the foolish bridesmaids (or the "foolish virgins," in some translations) - the girls who didn't have enough oil for their lamp, so they had to go out and buy oil, and wound up locked out of the wedding celebration.


I admit, I'm still not convinced we're doing the right thing but maybe it's the only thing we can do; maybe some people would avoid coming to church on the grounds they didn't feel "safe," I don't know. I do know our main front doors are glass, so a determined wrongdoer could get in, but it might buy a minute or two for people to get out or get under cover.

What a world we live in. (Again: I wish the real world were more like Equestria. Or more like the towns shown in the Hallmark Channel Christmas movies...)

At least it seems (said with fingers crossed), we've got through one Sunday without some kind of major atrocity being reported in the news...

* Which is why I like the simple escapism of some of the Christmas specials, and of cartoons, and of Christmas stories. I have a book called something like Mistletoe and Holly, and where it has some of the familiar ones in every compilation (like "The Story of the Goblin who Stole a Sexton"), there are some less-familiar ones. I read one the other night called "Christmas Jenny" - set in early to mid 19th century (I am guessing) New England, where the "Jenny" of the story is a woman who lives alone on the side of the mountain in a cottage. She makes a meager living selling vegetables she grows (during the summer) and evergreens and things like ground-pine (a club-moss) during the winter. She's seen as "odd," in large part because she never married (she is described as having become "love-cracked" - she loved a young man, thought he was going to marry her, and he threw her over for another girl). She also loves animals (part of the "love cracked" thing, as one character explains: apparently her ability to love humans was hurt, so she transfers that love to creatures of the forest) and works to heal and release ones she finds injured, and a lot of the money she makes goes to buy food for them.

But of course, because people are suspicious of those who are different from them, the rumor gets around that she keeps the animals captive under horrible conditions, and that she also has a little "deaf and dumb" child she keeps as a slave. And so the parson and the deacon - largely at the deacon's urging - go up there to confront her. (It is in its way, almost a more-modern witch hunt). While there, they find instead, the animals are well-cared-for, the child is clean and content. And then they are confronted by Mrs. Carey - a woman who knows and likes Jenny, partly because Jenny is one person who can talk Jonas Carey - Mrs. Carey's husband - out of his "tantrums" (when he sits down and refuses to move or do anything). Mrs. Carey is of the opinion that not only is Jenny not harmful, she is a force for good....and the minister and the deacon wind up somewhat cowed under Mrs. Carey's commentary. And the next day, when Mr. and Mrs. Carey go to pay a call on Jenny (on Christmas day), they find her well-supplied with food, and provided with a new calico dress (she had been planning on getting one, but spent her money on food for the birds instead, there being a cold snap). The implication is the deacon and minister arranged it...

And again, it's just a nice story. The idea that this woman seen by "the world" as odd and by some as possibly slightly dangerous is, in fact, a force for good and a loving individual....and that some of those who suspect her have their minds changed.

And yeah. Maybe it's simple, maybe it's unsophisticated. But I need stories like that - the hope they give, the reminder that even though I am, in some ways, a bit like Jenny (and I KNOW there are people who have viewed me with a jaundiced eye because of my single state), I can still be a force for good and really, what matters is what is in my own heart, and not what others might think.

(I think that's another problem I've had this fall: once again getting into the mindset of letting what other people think of me - or what I think they might think of me - affect me too much, rather than being the person I know I am and not worrying about it).

Friday, November 10, 2017

And peacefully home.


Yesterday: completed the rewrite (well, there are one or two tiny stylistic things I still need to change, but that will come after my student reads it through). Sent it on to her.

You know? Maybe I am making a difference. She commented today, "I like how you did the write-up of your comments to the editor" noting that I sort of took on one of the reviewers for their complaints (very mildly) and I kind of laughed and said "you should have seen my first draft of the thing" and she laughed but - people who are going into research need to know how to do that kind of thing, to be able to cope with criticism, counter it in some cases, and in others, just go "meh, not worth it" and make the changes recommended.

Today: had two small bits of grading, had the "alert reports" about grades, attendance, and other problems, had two exams to polish up for next week, had to make a review for the week after Thanksgiving, and I had to update the BlackBoard pages for a couple classes. My original plan was to do a few little things today, then come in tomorrow and do the rest

I was originally scheduled to have piano this afternoon, but then my teacher e-mailed me and asked me if Sunday afternoon after church would be equally good, and I realized, it would actually be BETTER for me - so I said, yes, let's do it then. And then I realized: I'm free. I can stay over at school and work until I'm done if I want to.

And then I thought: if I do that, I can have Saturday ENTIRELY off. I could even go back to Target and contemplating getting a new Christmas tree. (I have pretty much decided to get a 6' "slim" tree to stand up in the "curve" of my piano - because then I can have more ornaments on it and it's just generally nicer.) We get a "don't call it a Christmas bonus" the end of this month so I am telling myself, based on what I should get (they say it is 1.5% of our base salary), I'm good to spend around $150 or so. (The rest of the bonus will pay for my trip home in December - often my parents pay for Thanksgiving and I'm kind of expecting that this year if they can, though if they can't, that's fine).

I've already spent a little....I bought myself a present last night for finishing the rewrite.

Yes, it's yet another stuffed animal. It's a "giant" (well, comparatively: 30") stuffed polar bear. (I considered a panda at first, but (a) decided I liked the polar bear better and (b) someone complained that the panda's white fur got stains from the black fur....)

But then I realized: I already have a name for this.

When I was a kid, I had a giant stuffed polar bear. I don't remember where it came from; both my brother and I had one. In the mode of cheaper 1970s stuffed toys, it was stuffed with those tiny styrofoam pellets (like what beanbag chairs had). Mine was named Polaris (after the north star, not after the snowmobile company).

I don't have Polaris any more. I can't remember now if he started to leak pellets and got thrown away, or if he got ruined in one of the basement-floods when some of my stuff was stored down there (when I was in college). But there's a nice continuity for the name, to apply it to the new one. (I have not yet decided if the bear is male or female, and I don't know enough Latin - even the bastardized science-Latin - to know if "Polaris" is an adjective that applies to a male, female, or if it's neuter. The star is "Stella Polaris" so....I don't know. Not that it matters, after all, women sometimes get men's names. I thought of changing to to Polara if I decided she was a girl, but I think Polaris still works, and also, I want that connection to the past stuffie....)

Anyway. In a few minutes I need to make lamb loaf for dinner. (The sell-by date was yesterday, but it's a shrink-wrapped package, so I am assuming it is okay). And I have the mountain of laundry doing. And I've decided I'm going to take a warm bath, with a bath fizzie, tonight.

It's good to be able to relax. The cyclic nature of academia (where you are going like crazy for a while, and then have brief periods of idleness) and my own need to have everything done long before deadlines (I do not like, and cannot deal with, putting stuff off until the last minute) means there are times I'm freaking out and wondering how I'm going to get it all done, and then suddenly, it's like, "Huh. I got it all done."

though I admit I can relax better when nothing is hanging over my head, which is like this weekend.

And yeah, I think I am going to make a Target run. I don't need much in the way of groceries, but I will need milk, but I can get it there if I decide not to go to the Kroger.

Needing and not

There are things I need*

(*And I am not going to argue the shades of meaning between literal "need" and mere "want." I do that to myself too much: "You don't need to go to Sherman for bigger, better grocery shopping." "You don't need to take time off now," "You don't need that item that would make your life easier or you happier." Being raised by a frugal parent and a workaholic one is good in some ways - diligence - but it does also make me question my need for rest of downtime or all that)

And there are things I don't need.

Some things I need (some aren't things):

More sleep. I feel better this morning after sleeping longer last night. I think during the week sometimes I get sleep deprived and I can really feel it.

More downtime, where I can just be quiet and do things like knit or quilt. My mom's hat is a little more than half-knit; I want to get it finished this weekend and maybe start the AAUW hat.

To finish a lot of the ongoing projects. I am going to work on this after I get the two necessary parts of Christmas knitting done.

To laugh more. I haven't laughed much this fall, and I need to laugh more.

To spend more time around people somehow. I have work and I have church, and once a month I have AAUW, but that's it. I need to try to find more people who are congenial to my interests or who I am to hang out with - but it's hard, locally. (Because I don't generally fit in places - and there's no knitting group, and the quilting group I know of meets while I am in class)

To "tar my boat" again - that is, in the sense of how Eugene Peterson used it:  "All the water in the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside. Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us." I've let the world's troubles impinge on me too much - getting down over stuff I have no control over.

To remind myself that because a person is older, more senior, or more powerful than I, that doesn't necessarily make them wiser or less prone to throwing tantrums or being petty. It also means I don't have to join them, it's not my fault they're doing it, and I don't really have to condone it or do more than maybe keep my mouth shut and extricate myself from the situation as quickly as possible.

To develop more energy/motivation to clean my house.. I am telling myself that maybe Sunday afternoon after church I should put on some loud music and tackle the sewing room and my bedroom and clean them up.

To remind myself that just because the good I can do seems very small, I shouldn't stop trying to do it or despair. To think of things like Go Fund Me, where thousands of people sending in a dollar or five dollars each solve a problem....and that my little bit of good is my contribution. And also that it's not my responsibility whether or not other people try to do good.

I don't need:

To keep being so influenced by other's opinions. One thing I kind of dislike about myself is that I care so hard about what other people think. This is good, sometimes - in that it makes me more thoughtful and more prone to be polite and keep the Golden Rule in practice. It's good in the sense of "I care about how other people feel so I'm going not to be rude, and I'm going to try to consider culture, etc. when I talk to someone." But it's not so good in cases where I leave some situation and I wonder to myself, "What are they saying about me now?" Probably the answer is "nothing," given the usual level of human self-absorption, but still, I wonder - having, at an impressionable age, had a couple instances of overhearing people I thought were my friends saying not very nice things about me when they thought I was absent.

To worry so much about sleep. I woke up last night at midnight after being asleep a couple hours. Got up for the loo, got back in bed, and couldn't go back to sleep immediately. And I got a little concerned (I have a history of insomnia, though it's more often a case of not being able to shut my brain off to go to sleep the first time). Then I told myself, "this is just the gap between first sleep and second sleep." There's a hypothesis that people slept in two shifts - borne out by written accounts of people doing stuff in the middle of the night, everything from praying to...uh...making babies...between the first sleep and second sleep. Apparently before electric light (or even oil lamps), people went to bed earlier, and slept until about midnight or 1 am, and then woke for a bit, and then slept again. And probably this is unfamiliar to us because we're all so sleep-deprived, and we've also been told "if you can't get back to sleep right away GET UP OUT OF BED." And while in some cases (monks going to pray), yeah, they did get out of bed, there's evidence that married couples would lie in bed and talk or....make the aforementioned babies... (And I did get back to sleep fairly quickly. And what I did in the intervening? Like the monks, I prayed. Because I'm alone in bed and God is the only one I've got to talk to.)

To despair so much at the state of the world. It's always been bad, there have always been bad people doing bad things. We probably hear it more because (a) the 24-hour news cycle and (b) what is fundamentally a good thing: a lot of the people doing bad, exploitative things are finally being called out on it and are seeing some pushback. And maybe this will lead to things getting better?

To think that when things aren't ideal now, that they will always be so. Maybe I'll make a new friend here in town. Maybe some fun new store or new group will open up.  Or that somehow finances will get better in my state. Or that attitudes will change and people will once again have some respect for education.


I started the squeezy-exercise last evening - where I take the breadloaf thing (this is one of those Japanese squishy toys) and squeezed it in each hand for 90 seconds, with three reps per hand (trading off). That's the protocol given. I did it again this morning.

90 seconds is kind of a long time. If nothing else, it will strengthen my wrists - I won't have any further trouble opening jars, I suppose. Of course it's too early to know if it will affect my blood pressure - they say it took six weeks for the participants to notice an effect. But if it works, it's worth doing, because I really REALLY would like to reduce my dose of beta blocker; I think some of my recent woes about having less energy and feeling "sad" may be partly tied to the side effects of that.

I will say I feel calmer this morning but I cannot tell if that's the effect of having the rewrite essentially done (student researcher is looking it over and will give comments on Monday) or the squeezy exercise. I suppose it's the former but I wish it were the latter because that kind of thing is easier to control than the whole worrying about "am I doing enough at work"


I also needed this today, apparently, seeing as I've watched it thrice already:

Yes, it's an ad. No, I don't care that it is. Note that it's an ad that doesn't really push a particular product so much as it pushes an IDEA - the idea of giving. (And, I suppose, the idea of the redeeming power of Paddington's firm goodness - he does not even entertain the idea that "Santa" is, actually, a thief).

I suspect British Christmas ads are better than ours - I have already seen too many "Buy your loved one a car!" ads and while, I don't doubt that if you're planning on getting a new car anyway, maybe making it a family Christmas gift is a good way to go.....I tend to think of Christmas gifts as smaller, less expensive, and more personal. Like a book the person hasn't read. Or a new winter hat. Or even an amaryllis to start so there's some color and brightness during the cold dark winter.

(I also need to get down to Kopper Kettle and see if there's any good small additional gift for my sister-in-law. In a pinch, I could do an Amazon gift certificate, but that feels quite impersonal, and I'd rather have a nice *thing* to give than some electronic bits representing currency.)

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Tired of people

Well, the rewrite is done (for now) but I don't even feel v. happy about it:

1. Re-reading the reviewers' comments was painful. A colleague of mine commented the other day that it seemed to him that reviewers are getting more vindictive and nasty, and he may well be right. It's been a long time since I reviewed a paper (haven't been asked - most of what I've done lately has been editing "historical" papers to meet modern standards, which is different) but I was taught to be positive, to offer stuff as constructive criticism, and not to unleash whatever inner demons you have on the writer who, like you, is really just another poor slob trying to get through life with a minimum of pain.

but it does seem the world is stacked against the poor slobs who want to get through life with a minimum pain (causing OR experiencing) these days.

2. Lots of unpleasantness on what used to be a friendly online community. It's like everyone suddenly seems to have adopted the motto from that bad old "Real World" series: "when people stop getting polite and start getting 'real'," which assumes that "polite" and "real" are opposites, and that "real" (in the sense of "let it all hang out, and if I hurt someone's feelings, they shouldn't have got their feelings in the way of my id") is preferable to politeness.

And you know? forget that. I want to be polite. I was raised to be polite and God help me, I cannot do otherwise.

I did have one minor responsibility in the group which I just quietly resigned after someone - in the interest, more or less, of being their Real Self, said something that hurt me. My MO in these instances - as a former bullied child - is not to try to stand up for myself (that only attracts more negative attention and maybe attracts other bullies) but to wander away.

so yeah, that's one comfort gone.

It really does feel like people have gotten a good 50% meaner in the past year. I don't know if it's frustration with the way things are, or if that the way things have changed empowers people to let their inner....nastiness (I was going to say "snake," but that's an insult to snakes) out. Either way, it's a bad turn of events..

And I'm STILL shaken by the idea that we're turning the church into a virtual fortress every Sunday morning. (I'm glad we never got around to putting up barbed wire on the top of the fencing around the playground area - the issue arose because a couple teens/preteens in the neighborhood were climbing the fence at night and breaking stuff, and there was also concern that if they were injured, we would be liable, even though we had NO TRESPASSING signs posted....barbed wire was suggested as a solution but a lot of us thought it was 'bad optics' even if apparently a lot of OTHER urban churches have it. (We are in as close to the "city center" as my city has). The family of troublesome kids has moved away.....And yes, we did try approaching them and asking them not to, and we did try asking the local police to speak with them....nothing worked).

I dunno. I recognize that I'm worn out (tried to do far, far, far too much these past few weeks) and I might be lowgrade sick (or, as I suspect, suffering PMS which - stupid body - can we please stop with this? I'm nearly 50, I have no male prospects on the horizon, and even if I did, I DON'T WANT BABIES. So can we be done? Okay?)

Ugh. I am thinking it would be a primo idea to go home and just go to bed VERY early tonight. (And anyway: it gets dark early enough now). I feel chilled and achy and unhappy and I know I'm operating on too-little sleep....

AND I just realized I have to do the monthly grade-reports before Monday. Argh. It never stops.

What to say?

I've started and archived several posts the past few days (because too negative). I've really been mired in the middle of this rewrite. And I've not been feeling well - even though the local weather casters claim "Allergens are low or absent," something is bothering me - I have hives and my nose is running.

I saw something on Twitter, about the creative process (link is here. I will euphemize because there are a couple of harsh words in there, and also, I want to add my own flourish, but here it is:

The Six Stages of Almost Any Big Endeavor in My Life:

1. This is exciting
2. This is difficult
3. This is crud and is awful
4. **I** am awful, I can't do this
5. It might be okay
6. It's done and I guess it's OK.

(I don't get back 'round to "this is exciting" or "this is awesome" on most things. Completing something usually means exhaustion and I'm only happy about it afterward).

Right now I've started to pull into stage 5. Yesterday, I was stuck between 3 and 4.

I wound up yesterday too with too many people solutioneering at me, which makes me crabby. I expressed displeasure with the current state of things somewhere on line, and immediately got a chorus of "You need to go to therapy! You need meds!" and I am like "Uh, I'm fundamentally OK, I'm just venting. This is how I vent"

And then, at Board Meeting, casual discussion of Thanksgiving travel, and someone rolled their eyes over that I take the train, and "why don't you fly?"

(Um, because I don't have a family member to drive me to OKC or Dallas, which are the nearest airports? Because flying is awful when you're alone? Because I can sit and read on the train and I like that?).

I did jokingly say, "But I'd need a passport to do that*" and that set off a round of shocked, "You don't have a passport? Why don't you go get one?"

(Because it takes time and effort, and I have neither. People don't understand).

(*Come mid-January, because of my state being stupid in a very particular way, our driver's licenses will no longer count as valid ID for flying, because, apparently, the state didn't take sufficiently intrusive anti-terrorism investigation measures on driver's licenses? I don't know. And yes, I do need to get a passport soon because if I had to get home FAST in an emergency - though dear knows how I'd cope with getting to an airport - I'd need to be able to fly).

But yeah.

The other big feature of Board Meeting? A discussion of new security procedures because even church isn't a Safe Place any more. We've got some things planned to do - I won't go into details other than to note it was a bit elucidating to learn just who has a CCW and "carries" on a regular basis - but it makes me sad. Because one thing we're gonna do is lock everything up tight. So if someone comes to visit, they may not feel welcome, which I think this is just going to contribute to our spiralling down until we close.**

Also, I raised the issue of getting out in case of fire - yes, the doors lock from the inside, but it also takes a moment (and a bit of strength in your hand/wrist in the case of a couple doors) to get them open. Yes, in a real emergency I'd throw the little table in the vestibule through the glass door if we couldn't get them open fast enough, but.....I recommended discussing it with the fire marshal here (because I know she has put the kibosh on certain things we wanted to do on campus to protect against intruders - making the point that a fire is far more likely, and you don't want a deadly fire). I don't know if anyone will heed my suggestion but at least I made it.

I hate this. I murmured - and the people next to me heard - "this will end with me becoming a hermit" as the discussion was going on but yeah, I kind of feel that's where we're headed. (How many more years will we have the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade? Or the Super Bowl? Or any of that?) 

(**There's a - Buddhist, I think it is - concept that says "the cup is already broken," meaning, the way to avoid attachment in this life is to think of things as already dead and gone and over, so you won't mourn them when the inevitable happens. I can't do that. I can't act as if every good thing in my life has already gone away, but if I could, maybe I'd worry less)

Anyway. My yesterday was entirely this:

1. Writing on the stupid rewrite
2. Complaining/worrying about the stupid rewrite
3. Board meeting.

You don't know how glad I will be to be done with the rewrite. I am trying very hard to think "Detachment from Outcomes" (one of my friends in grad school had a tiny sign that said that up on her computer monitor, so she would remind herself just to work without worrying about the eventual result of that work) so that the "but what if they reject it after all this work" doesn't come up in my head and shut me down.

(It does not help that a colleague got a paper rejected from the same journal - well, I was second author, because I helped collect data - and this person was kind of unhappy about it and unloaded on ME. I get tired of being unloaded on, especially when the issue is in no way my fault)

I can tell I need a break because lots of little things annoy me. The new "Mary Jane's Farm" came yesterday and I read it while eating dinner, and I was more eye-rolly about some of the "woo" stuff than usual. (And also eye-rolly about how Certain People are designated as Special and therefore worthy of great praise and celebration, whereas mooks like me - who probably deserve it, because we really have no special talents, but still - labor in obscurity, and are tired all the time, and often don't even hear a 'thanks' for the efforts we go to at work. Yeah, I want to be special. I want to do something that makes people go "oh, that's cool" and care about me, but, it seems my lot in life is just to work in the background and kind of do the thankless stuff that people only care about when it goes undone).

But, one thing I am going to try: there was a digest of some 'study results' (and I know: I should look up the original because there's a good chance they got it wrong in the magazine) suggesting that doing a couple of little sets of exercises per day, where you squeeze very hard for 90 seconds on something like a stress ball, may over the long run, lower blood pressure.

It's dumb, but it's worth a try, I think. I have a goofy squeezy thing at home (a loaf of bread - scented with that fake-butter scent that supposedly is bad for you in popcorn - that came in one of my recent Doki Doki boxes) and I'm thinking of buying something a little less goofy to keep over at work.

I'm guessing the mechanism could either be:

1. It reduces stress and tension, and therefore you are calmer, so lower blood pressure
2. It does something to the veins in your arms, maybe squeezing blood back to the heart? So maybe either the heart doesn't work as hard, or it works against the hardening of the arteries. I don't know.

They say it lowers systolic more, and right now my systolic is pretty good; it's my diastolic (the pushback from the blood vessels, rather than the push from the heart) that is creeping up a little.

But still, worth a try. And if nothing else, I get to look at the goofy squeezy toys on Amazon and pick one out. (Hm. Maybe if dentist's offices wanted to start giving prizes to adults - which honestly, I think they should - you make it through an appointment without screaming or biting the dentist, you deserve a prize - they could be stress squeezies. Because the good Lord knows we're all stressed out.)

(I also wonder if my recent increased need to sleep with either my giant cat stuffy, or my little flat Clawhauser stuffie, squashed to my chest is in some way related to that. Good heavens, I wonder how much higher my blood pressure would be WITHOUT the stuffed animals in my life...)

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

a gift idea.

Apparently this is A Thing now. Remember the ├╝ber-expensive pre-dirtied jeans, so you can look like a landscaper even if you're really the kind of person who talks really loud to landscapers because, you know, people who look like they might be from another country will understand English if you TALK REALLY LOUD AND SLOW TO THEM?

Well, Tiffany's has them beat. I remember when I was a Girl Scout, and we saved old cans, washed them well, and decoupaged them with fabric scraps to use as a pencil holder. Tiffany's doesn't even go that far: Plated Tiffany's Tin Can.

Yes, I guess it is silver-plated and vermeil (That's a mixture with gold in it, isn't it?) on the inside. And a little robin's-egg-blue stripe so your friends in-the-know will know it's from Tiffany's without you having to tell them.

(Pity they don't sell a replica of the Crackerjack prize that Paul Varjac got engraved for Holly Golightly....)

I dunno. I can only laugh about this. It's dumb and it's silly and I can't tell if Tiffany's is actually trolling us, or if they really expect someone will buy these as gifts. I suppose someone WILL, because it's almost an Emperor's New Clothes sort of thing - people will talk about how "smart" (in the old, 1950s sense) it is to have something that looks like an old Folger's can, but isn't, on your desk. And the people who think that's "smart" will not be the sort of people who ever DID use old Folger's (or other) cans to store office supplies. So the people who think this is clever and the people who think this is either silly or kind of useless are disjoint sets, so it's all good.

Though I confess: If I knew FOR A FACT that my family and friends saw this story, I'd be reeeeeeaaaaaaallllly tempted to save the cans the beans I eat come in, and wash them *very* well (and strip off the labels), and then carefully paint a line of nail polish up one side, and maybe even, if I'm very ambitious, go get a can of clear spray lacquer and spray them out on my drive so that the nail polish doesn't wear off so easily.....and bingo! you have your own Stylish Can for Storing Pencils Or Other Tall Skinny Things. And I could even use a different shade of polish on each one, so they'd be Unique!

But like I said: I doubt many people on my gift list will have seen this, so they'd just be puzzled by my apparent regression to third grade.

But I might make one for my office over at work, I don't know.

(They also have a $9000 "ball of yarn," except it's faux yarn, you can't even knit with it. Forget that. Anyway, $9000 would buy enough Lion Brand for me to make a blanket to cover my entire house, if I only had time to make it....)

Ugh, time pressures

One thing I miss about Former Me: I used to be better able at working on something and feeling like "At least I am working on this, I am making progress" and not worrying about the other things I have to do.

I realized that today: even the simple pleasure of keying in data is gone (it's repetitive, doesn't require much thought, but is a step on the way to data analysis), because I find myself thinking of how I need this rewrite DONE, like, YESTERDAY. And how I also have two exams to write for NEXT week, and I have to figure out the court-case assignment for my other class. And, and, and. And my house is a mess again, and I need to make time to work out this afternoon because I couldn't drag my sorry backside out of bed early enough to this morning.

Being an adult is way less fun than I imagined it being when I was a child. I suspect that's true of everyone (at least, everyone who isn't fleeing a dysfunctional childhood). Responsibility is not fun. Work is not fun. Especially not fun is having responsibility without authority, where there are places where I'd like to put my foot down on stuff but can't.


This new prep just did me in this semester. I mean, it was a good class, I enjoyed the students in it, and I understand I'm doing an important service to my department - but I don't sleep well on nights before it because I'm so worried about doing a "good job" (it's environmental policy and law, which is about as far out of my expertise as it's possible to go and not have it be gross malpractice for me to be teaching it).

It doesn't help that - as I said on twitter (euphemizing slightly more here) - it just seems there are more rude jerks in the world than there once were (or maybe I notice it more). Driving home for lunch, I had one of those situations where I clearly had the right of way (green light) but someone on a side street started LOOMING out, as people do, almost a game of chicken to see if they could get me to slow up (no dice: there was someone behind me) and let them in. I HATE that because I always expect the person is going to just GO and then hit me.


I'm already telling myself when I get this rewrite done I am getting myself some kind of a treat, but I cannot think of what. There is nothing I need, and anyway, Christmas is coming, so buying myself anything I could ask for as a present isn't a good idea. And there are no movies opening I want to go and see, and no interesting museums within easy driving I don't know.

Maybe I'll think of something later. I hope so. I don't like this feeling of "I can't think of anything I would want" because it's also close to the "I know I should eat but nothing appeals to me" feeling when I'm unwell, or the "I'm bored" feeling when I am getting sick. (I know I'm getting sick if I'm bored, because I usually have too many things I want to do).


I just want this rewrite DONE. I am working on tables right now. They want tables of EVERYTHING, even stuff that would not reasonably be table-fied. But whatever. I'm doing as I'm told because it's easier to do it than to try to justify not doing it (and risk getting a rejection).  But right now I'm at the "I'm so sick of it" stage. Which is the unfortunate thing about academic (and maybe all) publishing: at the point when the thing is actually going to press and you should be happy and excited? You're so sick of it and so deflated from all the work you can't be happy about it.

Monday, November 06, 2017

hair getting therapy?

So I said I was going to buy a hair masque or something as my "indulgent spa day thing"?

I did. It's called "Long Hair Therapy." (Yes, I may need it, but apparently my hair gets it). It's a weird shower cap type thing full of goo:

You leave it on for 15 minutes (after shampooing like normal), then rinse it out.

We'll see. My Inner Scrooge McDuck is going "Lass, ya coulda done the same wi' a coupla tablespoons of mayonnaise and an ol' towel" and he may be right. Maybe I try that next time.

Then again: I don't have enough new experiences in my life and this is definitely a new one. (And the temporary hair dye seemed like a bad idea; fuchsia highlights probably would have got me a talking to from some administrator about "being distracting in the classroom")

Thinking of Christmas

I think that's what's going to help me make it through. Christmas is a big deal to me, even if the day itself doesn't always live up to my memories or hopes. (I just hope this year is better, with no one injured).

I did find out today we're getting a "stipend" (in other words: "Don't call it a Christmas bonus; we're a state school") towards the end of this month. 1.5% of base salary (probably minus taxes and in my case minus what gets Hoovered out to go into my 457 B account - though I suppose Future Me, if there IS a Future Me* will thank me.

(*Some days I wonder, given geopolitics. I hope there will be, but I still worry)

Anyway. That makes things a little easier as I had some big expenses this fall that my salary didn't cover comfortably. (I had to take a bit out of savings, and I hate doing that, even though dealing with emergencies is what having savings is for)

But now I'm thinking about the cute sweet winsome pleasant things.

As I said earlier, I started my mom's hat, and I have plans to do yet another for AAUW (I ordered some yarn from Webs today just in case the Sweet Roll doesn't seem likely to work out). And I have the fairy lights going. And I did buy some ornaments at Target on Saturday.

And I do think I want to get a new, skinny, 6' tall tree - to set up along side my piano, and to hold all the many ornaments I own. (And that gives me license to buy a few more, and also, I can stick some of the toys I have on the tree - am thinking Applejack and Minty and company would look nice). And I have some twinkly multi-colored LEDs. (As much as I like the white fairy lights for around the door frame, I want colorful lights on the tree, because that's what we always had when I was growing up.)

I also mentioned the Hallmark movies. It's funny: those sort of sappy, low-level romances make me roll my eyes normally, but given a Christmas theme - I'm kind of a sucker for them. (And also: Hallmark tends to be wholesome, in the sense that the guy and gal get married at the end of the movie, and everything proceeds in a decorous way. I don't like "strong" romance; I prefer my romance to be more in the model of Austen or those other early writers where you were wed before you were bed, or however they say it.)  I probably need to switch to those full-time and see if I can set up a parental-lock function to keep myself from watching the news.

I've talked before about Christmas brain - part of it is, yes, just being able to enjoy the bright and pretty and sweet and sparkly things. The stuff that isn't, you know, "really" Christmas in the church sense of it, but the stuff that makes life nice, and especially, during what is usually a cold and dark time of year, makes things nicer.

But the other thing, and I was thinking of this the other day (and probably need to think about it more): I was thinking how "I want to be done with hearing about bad news, and I want to spend my time thinking about the Good News." And yes, that's not just for Christmas, but for me, it seems easier at Christmas and at Easter than it does in what is sometimes termed "Ordinary Time."

And yes, I've gotten good at compartmentalizing "Advent" (which is really a mini-Lent and a time for reflection and contemplation) from "The Christmas Season" which is more celebratory and of course includes the things I listed: decorating, and tv specials (even the sappy Hallmark rom-coms), and special foods, and being cozy, and shopping for gifts, and all that.

(My gift shopping is NEARLY done. I need to find one or two more things for my sister-in-law - I am thinking I might try the local gourmet shop, which is like the ONE nice and fun store left downtown, for something.)

I also want to get my gift-knitting done, so I can maybe do a little toymaking for myself: I still want to crochet a G4-ized Surprise, and I still want to make the "sleepy Scootaloo" I bought yarn for. And I have other yarns ahead for other toys....

(And I have to think about what *I* want as gifts; my mom has been nudging me for a list. I think I will start checking the catalogs; I know any more it's easier for her to do catalog stuff than run all over town looking for some item I want. The thing is, there's not that much I NEED - I saw a couple of tops in the Duluth Trading catalog that were cute and would fill a place in my winter wardrobe, and I need some new dress shoes, but those are really best bought in person, so I don't know. I might ask her for an Ulta gift card, given my newfound love of cosmetics....I don't need any yarn or books or things like that, and I confess, at nearly 50, I'm a little embarrassed to ask for toys, so I tend to get those for myself.)

It is still too early for Christmas music, I think, but when I get my new tree and put it up, maybe that's when I get the music out. I'm thinking maybe next week, maybe do it bit by bit, in the evenings - bring a few things out each day and set them up and around, I don't know. I am gone over Thanksgiving and then it's a hard push to get to the end of the semester. This year, I leave on the 18th for Christmas, so it's a *bit* later than it often is.....

(I already think I'm going to see if there's some way I can drag the owl sweater with me and get more work done on it over break, when I have more time and more attention)

I'm also ready for it to get cold. It was in the upper 80s over the weekend, which is for the birds. I don't want ice and I don't necessarily want snow (snow is best when no one has to go anywhere, like, on Christmas Day itself), but I would like it to FEEL like fall/winter. And for me to be able to wear my winter stuff a little this year....

Back at it

Back in my office, back trying to rewrite the rewrite. I don't want to, but I must, so I guess I will. Right now I am at the "explain everything as if I am talking to a 2 year old" stage because I think one of the reviewers misunderstood the stats I applied and maybe I was unclear, I don't know. I think I will write this morning and make tables this afternoon - or maybe do those tomorrow afternoon, when I'm likely to be even MORE tired.

At least driving to work in the light instead of the dark was a relief. I know lots of people complain about the end of DST, but as someone who is an early-to-rise sort, I don't like driving to work in the dark. I don't care about it getting dark early in the evening at home because it getting dark in the evening is normal, and most evenings I don't have to be working hard on something, so it's okay.

I woke up at 2:30 am today. I tried to go back to sleep. But I found myself visualizing myself in my classrooms and what I'd do if someone showed up at the door who was armed (and was not a campus cop on a peaceful mission of some kind). I *almost* just got up to do the workout then, except I thought, "Yeah, then you'll train your body that it's OK to wake up at 2:30 am" so I stayed in bed. Eventually I quieted my mind down but, ugh.

Part of what it took to quiet my mind was grabbing Riesige Katze (the big stuffed cat I bought back in July) and hugging it to my chest. Sad, really: that I'm nearly 50 and I need that to comfort me. But it was too hard to get back to sleep otherwise.

Yesterday afternoon I dug out the outlet-timer and put the fairy lights back on. They are set to turn on at 4 pm and off around 10 - so pretty much the whole I'm I'm home in the evening, and even a bit after I go to bed (though usually there's one or two trips to the bathroom before I really settle, so it's good to have a little extra light). Yes, it's very early. But I feel like I need it.

A lot of the problem is that I feel like the world is increasingly chaotic. I don't like chaos; I like order. And it's upsetting to have things be not-predictable, and be that in bad ways. (Some of the "survivalist" types say "Don't go to 'stupid' places" as shorthand for "this is how you stay safe and avoid people with weapons." But what happens when people want to start making church and work "stupid" places?)

I worked a bit on my mom's hat last night. I finished the first "wedge" and just barely began the second one. This is going to be my push-to-finish project now, and then, a third hat for the AAUW gift exchange, though I'm concerned - I only bought one skein of the Felici worsted (for my mom's hat), I'm worried the "Sweet roll" or whatever the acrylic copycat I bought for the AAUW hat won't change colors fast enough, and the hat will look stupid.

Well, if it does, I'll have to go out to Tuesday Morning before the party and buy some kind of tchotcke there. (There is a $10 limit on the gifts, though I doubt everyone sticks to it). But I admit: I was hunting around last night for self-striping worsted weight that changed color fairly rapidly, and couldn't find any (I guess KP only made a little of the Felici Worsted, and it all sold out).

I dunno. it feels like everything is working suboptimally right now and I find that difficult and upsetting. I am hoping at least ONE thing goes smoothly this week...

I'll be a lot happier when this blasted rewrite is done.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

ugh, the news

I hadn't heard about the latest church shooting (near San Antonio) until after I'd written that post. Someone posted something on Twitter and in a chain of following the tweet.....I found it.

I don't understand humanity. I wonder if this will turn out to be domestic terrorism of some kind. I can't imagine ever wanting to kill someone, not even someone who hurt me a lot. I can imagine wanting to see them wind up in prison or something, but that's different.

Anyway.  I decided to turn off the news - no one knows anything and it's wild speculation and honestly trying to guess at a motive is pointless because I think if you can "understand" the motivation for someone to do this, you probably better check yourself in somewhere where you can get taken care of, but still...

it upsets me a lot because I spend so much time in church and I admit there have been times I've been up at the lectern reading the announcements or the Call to Worship where I wonder: what would I do if I saw someone bust in the back door with a weapon?


So anyway. I decided to do a few housekeeping tasks - a couple of the globe lights in my bathroom fixture had burned out, so I replaced them (at some point I want to get the LED ones - apparently they make LED globe lights now - so I won't have to do this so often).

Then I decided to put up the new smoke detector. I wanted to put this up right over my bedroom door (in my bedroom) because it has an emergency light to help you find your way out in a fire. But. I forgot about the stupid paneling that the person who owned this house before me put up (it has wallpaper over it) and it's always a nightmare to put screws into it, or nails bigger than the tiniest of finishing nails. I also forgot that I don't know where my drill bits are - I have a Phillip's head driver in the chock of the drill, but all the bits have gone missing. So I couldn't do it the way I SHOULD have - drill two pilot holes and then install the screws. So I tried first with just the screws. No go, and I lost both the screws (they fell and rolled away, probably under a bookcase. Found two new ones of similar size. This time tried making pilot holes with a hammer and nail. That worked, except one screw Would. Not. Go. In. All. The. Way. It stuck out like 1/32 of an inch and I swear that was enough to mess up the whole thing - I could not get the alarm to attach to the bracket and I was on the point of just going "Okay. I set the alarm on top of one of the bookcases and it will probably still work if it has to" but finally, by rotating the bracket and pulling that side out just a bit, I was able to get it to attach:

I really hope it does not fall down now. I hate how it seems every job I take on like this winds up being way harder than it should be, and turns out far less neat and elegant - and yes, even though you can't really see the bunged-up job of attaching the bracket, I know it's there, and it bothers me. (I have NEVER been a "done beats perfect" sort of person)

Next, I decided to swap out the bulbs in the kitchen fixture (one had burnt out and the other three were mismatched catch-as-catch-can ones from the incandescents I still had on hand). I had bought a box of 4 "warm white" LEDs yesterday with the thought of doing that - partly to avoid having to change bulbs so often. (Though that one is not so bad because I can do it without having to get on a chair.)

At least that was successful:

They are very bright. The downside is it's obvious how dusty some areas of my kitchen (like the glass shades on that) are.

I'm not feeling a lot happier, but at least I took care of those things.

Can I have another weekend day? I'm not ready to go back to work tomorrow. Even though I have to :(

I'm also gonna say (edited to add), that as a Christian I find it especially offensive and awful to hear news of a shooting in a church. Oh, I know it's awful when it happens at schools, workplaces, stores, homes....but there's something special to me about churches (and other houses of worship; I remember feeling similarly offended over the attack at the Sikh temple back in 2012 or so).

I think that's what upsets me so extra much about this.

I don't know. I just really wish I had someone here right now to give me a hug. I know I've made a big deal in the past about being touch averse, but I'm becoming less so, and I'm finding I just really do need a hug periodically, but the way the world works - if you don't have a kid or a significant other, you're probably not going to get hugged very often. Especially now, when creeps like Weinstein has made it even harder for men and women to negotiate the dance between the sexes.

I probably need to take a hot shower tonight (it's too hot here for a bath). I read somewhere that warm water, like in a shower, triggers a similar reaction to being hugged and I think I can kind of see that.