Wednesday, June 12, 2024

one good thing

 The manuscript - covering a couple years' (and several research students' help collecting) data from a field site here, which I sent off in July 2022 (with my standard comment to self of,  "Godspeed, little manuscript) is now actually-factually published. I *think* this link will work and should be free to read; my paper starts on page 52


I'm more excited about it than I am about typical publications but (a) I've not had anything come out for a while and (b) I'm not sure when I'll be starting my next round of research (right now - I mean RIGHT right now - guys are working on my garage and I need to be at least nominally in town so I can be available if they have questions). I do want to grab the first round of samples before June ends; I am thinking maybe do one close to the end of each month (June, July, August, September, and possibly October) and I will have to weigh each sample (carry a balance into the field) so I get as close to the same amount of soil in each one (though possibly volume is a better measure? I have to think on that) so the communities will be more comparable. And I'll have to mark the sites I sample from (and get GPS coordinates), and, and, and.


But at least now I have a paper out, a paper that I thought had been desk rejected when I heard nothing for a while (I was forgetting it was already 2022 when I sent it in; this is only 2 years turnaround, which is not bad at all for a volunteer-staffed journal)


But yeah. I am really worn out right now. I think part of it is all the logistic stuff I've had to fit in, and just dealing with, frankly, the shock of coming home to a downed tree. And the meeting-that-was-not-the-bad-meeting-I-feared ate up a lot of my brainspace from when it was first called until after it happened. 

I haven't done much actual craft working. I did do some more gluing and painting on the Moominhouse stuff Sunday afternoon - I really want to clear off my work table, which is also my cutting table, because I have two quilts I need to put bindings on, and I want to start a new top, but I have to have that table and the ironing board clear - and I have to clean my cutting mat; it's got glue residue on it now. And I do have all those boxes stacked up where I need to finish the kit. But it's hard to overcome inertia when you're tired and stressed....

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

And today's done

 The meeting was less dire than I feared. One of the issue is that I always forget that in the absence of information (like every congregation I've been in, we have some communication problems), people assume the worst and start rumors.

I guess I'm different: if I see a situation and it seems odd but I don't know all the information I figure either I'll be told when it's necessary, or it's information I'm not supposed to know. (Without too much detail: health issue in someone who was fundamentally an intern, which lead to all kinds of bad assumptions because the people in charge were doing their best to protect the intern's privacy when they had to leave)

but it was long. And I am tired. And very, very, very peopled-out. Maybe my introvert nature is returning after seeming to have lost it during the pandemic (when I was alone all the time and longed to be with people). 

Also, midmorning the roof guy called AGAIN. His construction guys finished their job early, and they can come tomorrow instead of this coming Monday, so can I be available at 7 am to let them in my garage?

Yes, I can, but that also means setting an alarm (so I am off to bed soon - going to read for a while and hopefully make my brain shut up so I can sleep). 

I also ran out to my friend Dana's house; she had offered to give me the extra black shingles she had leftover from a re-roofing job, and that'll save me a few bucks (or: save my insurer a few bucks), so I went out and got them. My original plan was to back up to my garage and just slide the bundles out (they're 20 asphalt shingles to a bundle) but when I got to my drive I was afraid to back in (there's a bend to my drive, and right at the bend my pecan tree is on one side, and the neighbor's heat pump is on the other, and I was afraid of hitting either one, and I can't look over my shoulder as easily right now because I pulled a muscle on the side of my neck... so I pulled in straight and hefted them out of the back into the garage. The Internet tells me they weigh between 50 and 80 pounds but I don't know....I MIGHT be able to lift 50 pounds, but not 80.

Also, this afternoon (while still dreading the meeting), I looked up and re-read "Fire Watch" (well, I skimmed parts of it. I was looking for the part I was thinking about). I have a copy of the book with the story somewhere but I'm not totally sure where I put it but I could find this reprint online.

I like how it's somewhat ambiguous (the ending, you can't tell if it was really real or staged) and you do feel the sort of confusion and fear that Bartholomew feels at the beginning when he can't recall all the "past facts" he had to cram on short notice* before time traveling

(*the precipitating problem was that Bartholomew had originally prepared to travel with St. Paul back in first-century Palestine when he was ACTUALLY be slated to be sent to St. Paul's CATHEDRAL in 1940 London. And it turns out he guesses - correctly?? I don't know - that his job there is to prevent it from being destroyed, either in the Blitz or by (he confusedly thinks) someone in the cathedral who is actually a spy). 

But more than that, it's kind of a meditation on impermanence and loss and realizing that everything in the past is now gone - and as a result, everything you know now will one day be gone. And that's hard, and it feels harder to me now after I've lost the number of people I have.

But the passage I was looking for, and what originally made me cry, was this, Bartholomew remembering his last day - when Langby was grievously burned and Bartholemew's hands were burned trying to rescue him, and they both put out the bomb that would have burned down St.. Paul's, and it possibly cost Langby his life. Here, Bartholomew has returned to his own time, but is reflecting:

"St Paul's Station is not there, of course, so I got out at Holborn and walked, thinking about my last meeting with Dean Matthews on the morning after the burning of the city. This morning.

"I understand you saved Langby's life," he said. "I also understand that between you, you saved St Paul's last night."

I showed him the letter from my uncle and he stared at it as if he could not think what it was. "Nothing stays saved forever," he said, and for a terrible moment I thought he was going to tell me Langby had died. "We shall have to keep on saving St Paul's until Hitler decides to bomb something else."

"Nothing stays saved forever" which for me, carries the undercurrent, heartbreaking but true, of "everything you do, every effort you expend, is ultimately futile" and I am not sure how to square that with anything, and keep the motivation to keep TRYING. 

And yes, also, there is that scene early in the story, where Bartholomew brings suspicion on himself because, overcome by seeing the beauty of the nave of the cathedral from the whispering gallery, he almost falls over the railing. He passes it off as an attack of acrophobia, but it seems to make Langy suspicious. 

But the idea - nothing can stay saved forever BUT ALSO you can cherish it in the here and now, perhaps that's the answer.

But then, at the very end of the story, Bartholomew notes - after going to see the memorial stone that, in Bartholomew's timeline* memorializes when a Communist blew up St. Paul's with a "pinpoint bomb" in 2007 - 

"Dean Matthews is wrong. I have fought with memory my whole practicum only to find that it is not the enemy at all, and being an historian is not some saintly burden after all. Because Dunworthy is not blinking against the fatal sunlight of the last morning, but into the bloom of that first afternoon, looking at the great west doors of St Paul's at what is, like Langby, like all of it, every moment, in us, saved forever."

(*It's complicated. Willis wrote this story in the early 80s, when of course it was plausible Communists (the Soviets, I presume) became terrorists, and they had  "pinpoint bombs," which are perhaps like suitcase nukes?  It seems less plausible now when a lot of the "stochastic terror" we now see is extremist Americans killing schoolchildren or shoppers with guns, instead of blowing up buildings. I am not sure which is worse. Because, of course, if someone blew up St. Paul's, a lot of people would be dead, at least as many as in a grocery-store shooting)

But it is something to contemplate, a paradox, perhaps a spiritual question: nothing on this earth is saved forever. But apparently - the sense I get from the story is - we still should TRY, even if, perhaps, in some cases it means sacrificing ourselves as Langby did. But at the same time, we have to accept that those things will eventually be destroyed. And yet AGAIN - we can enjoy them in the here and now, and perhaps we need to try to, at least for a bit, forget that they will be destroyed, and in that moment as we appreciate it, convince ourselves, somehow, that it will last forever. Because maybe that's the only way you stay sane? Ignoring the impermanence of everything, even your own life? Because all of these thoughts are things I have wrestled with A LOT since 2019. 

(I forget what year I read Fire Watch, but it was well before then, it resonates differently to me now.. And I just realized this year is the fifth Father's Day without my dad. It still catches me occasionally, some of the ads I've seen, or the thought of "I'd be sending him a card if....")

Monday, June 10, 2024

quick check-in

 Busy day today. I texted the tree guys early on, the owner of the service texted back with a price (it's high, but not terrible, and I have money in savings) and they can be out in 2 weeks to do it. Hopefully there will be no windstorms between now and then, and after that, I should be a lot more secure in being able to avoid damage.

Also, the roof guy called back just as I was planning to talk to him. He said the carpenter he uses was in town today and he wanted him to see the damage so they could put an estimate together. So I came home at noon and met with them. 

$1200, but that involves fixing the four damaged rafters, and the decking, and applying new shingles. And anyway, my insurer should pay for it. That will be the last thing, then, I think. They're due early next week. I'll be glad to get that done - I have not been parking in the garage out of fear part of a rafter (or some of the damaged lath) might come down on my car. If hail seemed pretty likely I'd reconsider but so far I've been safe.

And it's quite a thing to totally be talked over by two 70-something men. They were arguing about whether to replace the lath given it's not structural at this point (there is roof decking) and I was like "I don't care as long as you can get spacers between the rafters and the decking so the roof sits right without the damaged lath parts" and at this point I don't know for sure what they're going to do because they kept arguing back and forth about it and I just shut up because I could tell what I was saying didn't count.


Tonight is the cwf salad supper - I did my  salad and then a quick workout (I'm realizing that even if it hurts when I first start, I have to do them to keep flexibility and have less pain the next day). Tomorrow night is a pastor-parish committee meeting and it's likely to be a contentious one and I am very much not looking forward to it. And if it gets too bad? I will simply excuse myself and LEAVE*

I'm hoping it will work out like the one in March where all parties were able to come to a reasonable agreement. 

(* there was a horrible one with a seminary student we had filling in for like a year back in 2015 or so, where two people wound up yelling at each other and I wound up in tears, and went home wondering if I just needed to find a new church. Eventually each party separately called me up and apologized - I guess one of the strengths of not showing strong emotion publicly - I hate crying or being angry in front of people - means that when I DO, people take it seriously. So I'm saving that as a nuclear option if it's too bad and upsetting)

Wednesday night is more meetings so likely there won't be much knitting content this week 

For the little while I was at work today I started reading a new book about "teaching people to do ecological research" and it's mostly aimed at grad students or those who supervise them. It's maybe not quite right for what I do, and I admit some of the stuff rubs me the wrong way a little - or maybe it's because it "convicts" me and shows me why I've not been a more successful researcher: "don't read too much background*" and "don't learn skills you won't need"** and "when you are a K-12 and undergrad student, the "currency" you earn is good grades and that all goes away when you're in grad school and publications are your new currency"*** (and by extension: doing things that don't serve the goal of publications should be avoided, and I have seen in departments of professors, people who managed to dump the administrative, high-effort teaching, and "soft" tasks off onto others and not do what I think should be their share)

* my problem with research students and undergrads doing research projects is getting them to read ENOUGH background, and to search for the right kind instead of grabbing the very first thing that pops up.


** I tend to feel as if "nothing you learn is ever wasted" and there are some skills I developed years back that I've been able to repurpose to serve new ends, and also knowing "unrelated" things (I am not a plant systematist but had enough background to develop a course in it as a fill-in before we could hire someone


*** I guess this is true but there are times where I feel like taking tests and earning grades was the thing I was best at, and I'm not nearly as good at doing research or the more competitive things that are sometimes involved with that.


I mean, okay: I've dealt with a monster amount of stress for, well, all of 2024 (injury, serving on a search committee that ultimately failed because we apparently had a candidate who looked good on paper but absolutely lied to our faces, and baldly, and I am not the only one who thinks that), and the thing with the troubled student, and getting stranded in Illinois for several days due to the derailment, and coming back to tree damage and having to talk to way more strangers than I am remotely comfortable with to get things fixed, and now having a meeting that might be unpleasant and I am TIRED. And I don't know that there are a lot of consolations I got in and among all that.  

Also, driving home from dropping my latest receipt off at the insurer's, and stopping in the quilt shop to talk (and learning that the person they contracted out much of their longarm work to passed away suddenly, meaning we'll have to find new people to quilt our quilts), I got to thinking about all the things I've tried to do over the years* and how so many of them fell apart, and I thought about some quotation from (I think it was) the Connie Willis story Fire Watch, about how nothing you try to save is ever safe forever, and everything ends and sometimes you can do everything you can and it doesn't help and just.... minor existential crisis time, with big hot wet tears** and a sense of exhaustion at the world and a desire to scream at God for continually sending me stuff I can handle, but just barely, and how tired I am, and how demoralized I am.

(*once again worrying about the future of the congregation I belong to)

(** I don't have any problems with strong emotion when I'm alone; I will readily cry if I feel the need when I am alone). 

And I wish I knew. I wish I knew whether all of this means it's time to somehow cut my losses and find some other town to live in and another job and to try to find a place to live, and to just DEAL with the awfulness of trying to make new friends, and then if maybe I should have done this 10 or 15 years ago, instead of holding on and telling myself "this town will grow, things will get better, new people will move in and you will make friends" but also being afraid that if I go somewhere else I will find it much the same, which means the fault's in me - bad at making friends, bad at being able to build a life...

I know i'm probably overtired, in part, and may be catastrophizing about the upcoming meeting, but things are not great right now

Friday, June 07, 2024

The finished projects

 Of course this was all before I even KNEW about what I was coming back to (I still do not know for sure when the tree came down, but given that the leaves had not withered when I first saw it, I presume it was not much later than the 26th of May)

But I did finish a couple of things. And started a couple more. I'm going to go in reverse with the last item finished

This one was a kit. I *think* I bought it at JoAnn's, but it might have been Michael's. Chartwell Books is the publisher and Kati Gàlusz is the designer.

It's called "Unofficial Wednesday Crochet" - a doll that looks like Wednesday Addams but who isn't, "officially," because of licensing.

I had started it a while back, got the arms done, and then stopped. It's a very fiddly pattern because it's very small

Hand for scale.

The pattern is designed so nearly everything is crocheted on - you make the arms and legs first, then join the legs and continue the body, and attach the arms as you go. Then you change color to do the head (and change again to do the top of the hair). When the body is all done, you pick up stitches (hard to do at this scale in crochet) and knit the skirt on at the waist. The collar and ears are made separately and sewn on, as is the hair

Her braids are supposed to be longer than that, and if I were making this pattern again I'd use a hook one size larger for the hair; it's hard to crochet it on such a tight scale and it did come out a bit small. 

She's just barely 6" tall knit with the E hook that was recommended.

I will say the yarn wasn't *great* - it was kind of splitty and it's one of those very simple cheap acrylics. Again, if I were making this again I'd find one of the "premium" acrylic worsted-weights in the right colors to use. 

I rushed to get this done - finished her just at the end of the evening the night before i went back, I really didn't want to carry along an almost-but-not-quite finished project (and I didn't keep the leftover yarn scraps).

I did save the book; I can see how with modifications one could make a Louise from Bob's Burgers (the main challenge being getting the rabbit-ear hat right) and as I said, it's a cleverly designed pattern even IF it is fiddly to make.

She's also about the right size to hang out with my "Spectrier" Pokemon, which is like a ghost horse? So probably appropriate for Wednesday:

Thursday, June 06, 2024

And back home

 For real, this time. 

So, let's see: I left off Monday late afternoon. The inspector never came but I didn't expect them to because it was pouring all afternoon and evening 

(I have not been out to the field site but I suspect it's flooded; when I run out in a bit I will decide if I feel up to making a very-out-of-my-way side trip there to see)

So Tuesday. I decided not to gamble on getting power back so I kept the motel room one more night; the insurance agent said they'd most likely pay for it even though the power was technically back on, I didn't know until it was too late to cancel and check out. 

Went over to campus because in all this, I deliver another sermon Sunday and needed to write on that. I called the city once they opened and talked to the inspector; he said "yeah you should be able to call OG and E by 11 am" but I never trust those things and I had been told that someone would call when the inspection was done. 

No one called, so a bit after 11, I ran over there. Yeah, there was a green tag on the electric box, meaning it passed.

At that point I was STARVING. I had eaten early and not a great breakfast - one of those "make in the tilty press" waffles that some motels do as their "hot" part of the "free hot breakfast" and it didn't stick with me, and I didn't want to deal with O G and E's phone tree without food. 

So I ran to Jimmy's Egg and realized something:

As of the end of February, I now qualify to order off this menu.

I am not sure how I feel about this. (I ordered a three egg omelet off the regular menu, because I wanted both toast and a small salad. In retrospect it was too much food, I left one of the pieces of toast and a bit of the omelet, but I ate most of it). I also wound up drinking two "regular" Cokes (they kind of just keep bringing refills, and I was headachy and low-sugar-y when the waitress asked what I wanted to drink so I just reflexively said "Coke" instead of either water or 2% milk)

Then, back in my car, I tried calling O G and E. 

Their service is good, their phone tree is kind of a nightmare. FINALLY after going through several iterations AND having a call drop (and having been told "no what you have is new construction, you have to talk to them") I gave up and drove home. Finally got someone, and she said "Ma'am, my work order shows that the line has been restrung" and I said "no I can tell you it hasn....." and as I was saying that I walked into my backyard and yeah, it had. I apologized profusely, and said "either I didn't look up when I was here before, or it happened while I was at lunch" and rang off

So I figured: NOW I have power

Went in, flipped a switch. Nothing.

Okay, fine, cool, cool, maybe they hit the disconnect switch on the breaker box. Checked the breaker box, flipped the switch on and off. 

Nope. nothing.

I started to panic. I was so tired, this had been such a long and upsetting thing, I still had stuff I had to do (get cable/internet restored, get my garage fixed and at that point I had not even seen the damage), get the rest of the tree taken down on my own dime, get rid of the spoiled food in the freezer and fridge.

I assumed it meant either the breaker box needed replacing, or the whole dang house needed to be rewired (because I was literally thinking of the "new wine in old skins" line from the Bible).

Called the electrician, kind of freaking out. He told me, "Just hang on, this might be something simple, I'll send my assistant."

Assistant got out of his truck and when he realized what house it was, he smacked his forehead and said "I'm sorry, I forgot to show you."

I had never lived somewhere with an external disconnect switch; that was what that second box was. He opened it up and showed me, and yeah, the switch was off. He flipped it on and said "now go try a light switch"

And yes, that was it. I thanked him and he did apologize to me again (but I get it! It was starting to pour as he finished up and also he probably mostly works newer construction where people are used to that kind of external disconnect but I had never had to deal with one before). 

Yesterday the main thing was getting the cable restored, and again, the guy had to do some upgrades (he also said he had to sit with his truck in the alley a while - a couple* was fighting and apparently he wanted to monitor it (implying he is a mandated reporter, like I am) and he said he also wanted to keep an eye on all the equipment because "stuff's been stolen before in cases like that." But he got it done:

(*and sadly yes, I know exactly which house he's talking about and when I finally get around to replacing that back fence it will be with a 6' tall privacy fence because of them, it wigs me out to be doing yardwork back there and see them yelling at each other)


And proof it works (I switched the tv on the moment the light on the cable box went steady)

He did have to come in and check the modem speed for me.

In a bit I am running down to the ISP to check to be sure there is no charge for this - he didn't have me sign anything or give me a bill and I DO NOT WANT it to just show up on my next cable bill; I will get a receipt if there is a charge because my insurer will pay for it.

the guy did also show me that the cable would need replacement soon anyway because squirrels have been chewing on it. Why do they do that? I don't know but once before I had to have work done because of a squirrel. 

Today, A T and T is putting the landline box (which got knocked down) back up. Yeah, I keep a landline, I treat it as an insurance policy because my phone doesn't work great when there's no wifi in the house.

The last big thing is getting the roofer out, this will be a big job as a rafter DOES have a crack in it and while he can maybe buddy-join to it, he'll have to straighten things out. But I'm calling him tomorrow. 

I did also get the front yard mowed today and later on if it starts to cool down I might start cutting back a lot of the brush that has grown up....

Monday, June 03, 2024

and it's progressing

 Some photos. 

this is what I came home to

And this is the state of the electrical box. (O G and E had turned off the power and removed the line at this point; it was safe for me to go back there

That was Friday. Let's see, on Friday I:

- called O G and E for an emergency disconnect

- Got instructions from the guy (O G and E's "guys" are, in my experience, all very helpful) on what needed to happen to restore power. He repeated it for me when I asked (I was understandably shaky at that point)

- Got my fresh food over to Dana's

- Arranged for a motel room through tonight (and I will probably keep the reservation for tomorrow night that I made on Sunday, when I was afraid the repairs would take more than a day and  a half)

Saturday, I

- Found the tree guys and arranged for them to come

- Printed out the sermon and other stuff (e.g., a benediction) I would need for Sunday)

- Contacted the 1-800 number for my insurer and opened a claim

The tree guys worked pretty fast until they got to the biggest part of the bole, which understandably took longer:

that was about an hour into their working.

this is the tree by the end of the day:

Yes, next week I am going to call the guys back and arrange for the rest of it to be removed; it's not safe long term. But I need to get the other stuff fixed yet.

Sunday I did the sermon. I need to write another for next week; I might look up the lectionary scripture tonight and start thinking about it. 

I also did laundry down at the church. Hopefully I will not need to do that again; that I'll be back in my house soon.

This morning, I stopped by my insurance agent. The lead guy wasn't in yet but one of his helpers gave me a list of approved roofers (in fact, the roofer may bill the insurance directly) and she said regretfully they didn't have a similar list of electricians. But then I called the electrician my friend Dana recommended. Unfortunately, he had too much lined up, but recommended ANOTHER guy - a former lineman, in fact, so I assume he knows his stuff - and I called him. And yes, he could come. He told me he'd call, it might be 10 am. 

And he did! And he looked at the breaker box in the house, looked at the damaged meter, had one of his dudes take it apart and look at it, and after him assessing it, he said "oh yeah, this'll be simple. I'll go get the permit to work from the city, I'll call you when I'm done"

I was scared, frankly, because I was afraid before I talked to him there would be dozens of code updates* that would need to be done, and it would be hundreds of dollars that aren't covered by insurance, and days and days of me being out of my house. But no

(*later, my secretary said "everything other than the meter should be grandfathered in, even if some day you do want to do a rewiring job, you don't need to now). 

So I went to the bank, and went back to the insurance agent (he was in then, and added in what information I had to my claim. Sounds like I have a smaller deductible than most given how long I've had the policy and the fact that I have NEVER used it, other than using my auto policy when a vandal broke a car window some years back). Ate some lunch. 

Went back to the motel, realized it was clouding up FAST, thought "I'm gonna go check and warn the dude; he probably has a phone app that alerts him about storms but still"

Got there and saw that the young guy who worked with him was just clearing everything up. I commented about the rain coming up fast and he laughed and said "yeah, I just gotta close the breaker box, and then we're good. My boss is trying to arrange for the city inspection, I'm going to call him so I can make out an invoice and give you a receipt"

So that got done

I locked up and went back to my office for a while. The electrician called, apologetic: "I'm waiting on the inspector to get back to city hall, don't know if he'll get to it today" (at this point it was POURING rain and I laughed and told the guy I didn't expect things would be this far along by now, and I understood if the inspector couldn't get out. He said he'd call me when they did. And I thanked him for coming out so fast, because yes, I am genuinely grateful; all too often here people think needs like this are less urgent than they are to the person experiencing them.

So possibly by tomorrow I have power back on. (I will have to call O G and E for a reconnect after the inspection)

I'm keeping the motel room for tomorrow night; I will need to check out and check back in but the person at the front desk told me I didn't need to move my stuff out of the room, they can just give me the same room back.

I also went to the cable provider. Tentatively I have a Wednesday afternoon appointment to reconnect the cable; if the power is not back on by then I can reschedule.

I also, in all of this, called the recommended roofer for my garage, he said he'd be out in a day or two to assess and at least put a tarp up there.

So it's MOSTLY done, and pending the inspection being good, everything should happen in good time. 

I wanted to drop the receipt off for the electrical work at my insurer, and frankly, I wanted one of the sweet mint iced teas from H Tea O - my lunch (a grilled chicken sandwich which came with bacon - which I didn't ask for - as well as the tomato that I did, and fries and "fry sauce") wasn't sitting too happily (I blame the fry sauce) and I thought mint might help my stomach.

But first, I wanted to run home and verify I DID lock both doors (I had)

It was still pouring at this point. As I was pulling out, a young woman - probably about 18, possibly pregnant - was walking down the street and she hailed me. At first I thought she was a friend of my next door neighbor - she has a friend who looks similar who sometimes stays with her. But when I rolled down the window, I saw she wasn't*

"do you know how to get to AAAA Apartments?" (not its actual name). I said yes, it was on the other side of town. At first I thought she wanted directions, then I realized she wanted a ride

(*and now I think about it, but it didn't register before - she had some bruises on her face, which might play a role in what was going on).

"I had a fight with my boyfriend and I want to get home to my mom. I don't want to stay with him any more and I need to get there."

Well: I was raised in the generation of Never Pick Up A Hitchhiker Because They Might Pull A Weapon and Steal Your Car or Hurt You but my snap judgment was: this is a very young girl, it's raining HARD and she's upset and it's a good 2 1/2 miles to where she needs to be. I sighed, and cleared off the front seat, and explained I was having to have home repair done and was out of my house for the moment, but she could ride if she could fit in around the stuff (my bottle of laundry soap, some books, a box).

She got in. Yes, I admit, I thought "what if she does pull a knife or something" but I decided that was vanishingly unlikely AND ALSO *I* did not pose a threat to *her* whereas someone else that might offer her a ride could. 

So I started driving. She talked CONSTANTLY and in a slightly disjointed way so I don't know if she needed medications she didn't have or what but she was friendly enough. Asked my name, I told her (just my first name). Asked where I was staying - I was elusive about that. Asked if I smoked; here you never know which kind of plant the person means these days but I think she was wanting to bum a cigarette. (I don't smoke)

She asked my phone number, seemingly in the context of "maybe we could hang some time!" and in retrospect, I probably should have said "honey, please look closely at me, I'm probably older than your mom" but in the moment I didn't think of that, and God forgive me, I gave her an intentionally incorrect number (subbing in a different digit for one of the regular digits). I hope no one actually has that number, or I hope she thinks I said it wrong or she wrote it wrong. But I didn't want calls, didn't want to have to block her if she called, and this seemed kinder than flat refusing.

At any rate: we got there and I dropped her off and I hope she's safe now and that she does get back to California (where she said she used to live).

I ALMOST never do that - because of the risk. I DO, in carefully considered situations, offer food or a small amount of money to people asking for help. Not often, but I have handed a $5 bill to the guy asking for help with food* when I feel particularly flush

(*I know, I know. But I figure $5 will more likely buy a hamburger than drugs, and maybe the guy was genuinely hungry and in need)

Anyway, I figured: (a) a lot of other people helped me these past few days (though some did get paid for their trouble) and (b) I was someone who would get her safely home instead of making her life worse

I did have to detour on the way back, a train was blocking the road crossing I would take, and I briefly thought "no good deed goes unpunished" but whatever, I got my receipt dropped off, and I also got this:

now we wait.

Saturday late morning the tree guy texted me, asking for photos. I said "it's bad" and sent him photos. He said "$3000, we can have a team out this afternoon"

So I said yes. I'm not going to dicker on price* and I was grateful they could come.

They came - as is typical for workers here a sizable crew of Hispanic guys; two of them were comfortable enough in English to speak with me. The lead guy described what they were going to do, I told them to go ahead, and he could text me if they needed me. 

So I went down to the church and practiced the sermon I'm giving (the minister is taking vacation; I have to write another one this week, but I'm going to wait until after I talk to the electrician to even think about it)

No texts from the guys, but I did go back once or twice to just peek. The first part went really fast, it was the big old bole part that took more work because it required more careful going. One of the later times I checked back in, the oldest guy on the team (perhaps 60?) came up to me and asked if I knew there was a small hole in my garage roof

Dangit. I thought I might have escaped that damage. He said "yeah, you can't see it on this side" (so at least if there's a leak, my lawnmower won't get rained on - it's electric so that could be bad). Then he said: if you have a ladder I could climb up and photograph it.

Hhahahhahhhahah. I have a ladder but it's in the garage, which only will open (currently, as I don't have the pullcord disengaged) with an electric opener, and the "back door" in was blocked off. Oh well. So I'll find out either after I get power back, or once I get a roofer, depending on how things go

It was about 6:30 when they got done.

*it's possible my insurance will pay for it. My actual agent wasn't in yet this morning but his assistant said "they usually cover removal of one tree" and this was one tree, and if so, I've already covered my deductible.

I ran to Pruett's and bought a few things I could eat cold (there is a small fridge in my motel room) - some cheese, some grapes, a bottle of kefir, a loaf of brown bread and a jar of Nutella. I might have been able to retrieve my Nutella from home but meh, going back there depresses me a little right now. 

So I spent Sunday in a holding pattern. After church (and I got my lunch paid for at least) I went to my friend Dana's and retrieved the raspberries and blueberries out of her fridge, because I can eat those without any preparation. 

And then this morning, back at it: went to my insurer's office but the main dude wasn't in; an office worker helped me as much as she could but they inexplicably do not keep a list of recommended electricians. So i called the place Dana recommended back; apparently they have too much going on right now but the woman recommended another guy - and he's available, he's supposed to call me in about an hour to let me know he's on his way. I later found out when I talked to my secretary (who owns a few rental properties) this is someone she would recommend so I feel better about ti.

I'm just hoping the damage is easily repaired and there aren't too many code corrections that need to be done (the city has to sign off on it before power can be restored). My fear it it'll be something not-fixable without an entire rewiring of the darn house, or it can't be brought up to code, or whatever. I'm not allowing myself to hope that it'll be fixed by the end of the day today. 

(Even if it is? I'll set the air conditioning to an intermediate temperature and let it cool off overnight as I've already paid for tonight's motel room. And then just check out tomorrow morning. I have no cable or internet at home and still a hole in the garage roof, but I can deal with that later on)

The one wrench in the works is we're supposed to have storms today which may block the guy being able to work. 

I have my tree removal receipt, I will get receipts from the motel when I check out (supposedly my insurance will cover it), I will need a receipt from the electrician and the roofer, I am not sure if my insurance will cover the cost of the cable restoration seeing as it's not "essential" for living in the house but I'll get a receipt anyway. 

I hope this is over soon. This has been upsetting and exhausting and is a level of "adulting" I do not like

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Starting the process.

 Got a lead on a tree guy who works Saturdays. He had me text pictures ("that looks bad" was his response) and said he MIGHT be able to get a crew out to at least assess this afternoon.

Decided to talk to my insurer; I've paid at least $1000 a year (and closer to $1200 in recent years) every year since I had the house (so: 23 years) and before that had renter's through them. And my parents were with them for years. And this is the FIRST claim I've ever filed so fingers crossed they don't decide to drop me after filing a claim (I have heard of such things). I've been told by the national system (my local guy isn't in 'til Monday) that they will most likely at least cover some of the motel cost. 

But it is very tiresome when you can't be home. I need to go figure out lunch (not sure what; I guess I'll get carry out, maybe eventually I do something like buy individual yogurts and grab a spoon from home or get plastic ware. We don't have "healthful" restaurant options really here (unless you get the salads, I guess, but too much salad doesn't work well for me; sometimes my Asteraceae allergies mean I don't digest lettuce all that well)

I also have to practice the sermon for tomorrow. Yes I am going through with it even though I'm tired and distracted, only other choice is them having someone just do a reading and dismissing early. 

I really hope things start moving along better with the tree (haven't heard back whether the guys can come today) and I hope I can get the electrician Monday

Friday, May 31, 2024

Had to leave

 Long story but I am in the local Quality in for at least a couple days.

my elm tree came down while I was out of town. It didn't BREAK the power line, but the line is down on the ground and it partially pulled the meter  (and wow, did I struggle to remember that word while on the phone with people). O G and E came and shut off the power, but I have to get an electrician to repair the box's connection, and the city to sign off on the repair, and THEN O G and E will reconnect my power.

I hope they don't charge me a reconnect fee seeing as this was an emergency.

I also have to find a tree guy to cut up and get rid of the tree. And then get the cable guys to restore the cable - I have neither cable tv nor internet at home. (Well, I don't have power, either)

my friend Dana made room in her fridge for the spoilable food I bought, most of it has long shelf dates (milk and cheese). 

I just.....if anything else goes wrong I'd be tempted to hand in a resignation and just LEAVE. Send for my piano and some of my books at a later date and just move back to my mom's. And yes, the hotel room for five nights is ruinously expensive; I guess I won't be doing anything fun that costs money this summer. And the tree will be costly, and the electric repairs will be costly, and  Vyve will probably find a way to gouge me for the cable repair. (or maybe I just say "forget you" and see if I can get Dish, and get internet through it? IDK)

I just wish I were back in my HOUSE. And I wish everything was OK. but it isn't, it very much isn't. 

And the logistics of scheduling everything that needs to happen is undoing me - no one works Saturdays; there are no "emergency" electricians, and often workers here seem to think that people with this kind of urgent rendering-their-house-unlivable thing can just go stay with family. I have no family and as far as I know none of my friends have a free bedroom so I can't crash there.

I'd probably be more upset if I wasn't so tired. I'm lying on the hotel bed right now with Bob's Burgers in on the background (at first I thought "Well at least I can watch the Poirot that PBS re runs but then I remembered that today is Friday, not Saturday)

At least I get free wi fi

and at least the electrical fault didn't burn my house down ("I don't want to alarm you," the OG and E guy said, "But I've seen that happen when the damage is a little worse than this")

and at least I'm safely in town....

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

And still waiting.

 It’s maddeningly hard to find information about Amtrak “short term” (I HOPE) train cancellations. The tracking site at Dixieland Software has given the best information. The official site doesn’t even mention the disruption and just shows “estimated times of arrival.” I even joined the Reddit Amtrak community; one person on there posted about being stuck in St Louis and there are no rental cars. No one on the Amtrak discussion board knows anything. For that matter, AMTRAK may not know anything at this point.

Not that I’d rent a car in St Louis: too far to drive in unfamiliar territory, especially arriving at night. If it came to that, I would take the earliest possible Illinois Service train there is so as to have drive time in daylight.

No, Greyhound is not an option; it doesn’t run to where my car is AND the last time I rode it (just from Dallas to my home) I had a bad experience and given how much worse the average human seems to be now…

I was supposed to fill in for the vacationing pastor on Sunday; I called the secretary today to apologize and explain. She was very upbeat and told me not to worry, I could text her as soon as I know (which would be Thursday at the latest) and if I can’t make it, they’ll figure something out.

So I am trying not to worry and telling myself that my absence not being a world ending thing, that means Thursdays train WILL run as scheduled.

I’m glad I brought more than just one project. 

I am worried about how bad my lawn will be..,

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Welp, more days…

 So, late last night I got an automated call from Amtrak.

My train for tonight is canceled. (I found out this morning a freight had a hazmat derailment in Arkansas)

I tried to talk to an agent on the phone but either it was too late in the evening or everyone was busy for a long time.

I handed the phone off to my mom to listen if someone came on the line (and she inadvertently hung up) while I used her iPad to remake a reservation for Tuesday.

Then this morning I called and got the cancelled trip refunded.

Well, about 20 minutes ago I got a call: that trip is cancelled. With the agent’s help I rescheduled for Thursday but who knows? Supposedly there’s a track hold because of the hazmat thing but who knows if it’ll be cleared or if now flooding is a problem. The annoying thing is that Amtrak will not be providing alternative transportation south of St. Louis, so I would be on my own to get from St Louis to Mineola: too far to rent a car and drive, with Greyhound (which can be a nightmare for a solo woman traveling) I’d have to get from Tyler or Longview to my car in Mineola.

I wouldn’t worry but I was scheduled to fill the pulpit on June 2, so I really need to be back. (I am also worried about my houseplants on waterers).

The other thing that trips what you might call “anxiety paredolia” is that this happened in 2019 a couple months before my dad died -I was up here for extra days because of cancellations- and while intellectually I know that there’s no possible link, and mom mom’s health is still quite robust, still, emotionally, it makes me uncomfortable (I am not ready to be an “adult orphan,” nor deal with the paperwork that will fall partly on me)

It’s also a worry of  “how do I get home if the train isn’t running again?

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Some found items

 I decided to hunt around a little for a couple books I had as a kid. I didn’t find one of them, but I found one set:

A set of four books: one on farm animals and pets, and then baby animals of Asia, Africa, and the Americas. 

I got these as a birthday gift when I turned 7; I can’t remember if my parents gave them to me, or one of the aunt-uncle pairs. They’re basically very brief encyclopedic entries about each animal, along with drawings. 

I liked learning about different animals as a kid, and these books have some unusual ones like saiga and pangolins. I was surprised to find that the books were originally published in French and then translated. They’re old enough to have “Rhodesia” on the map of Africa. And they don’t show a partitioned Korea, though they bear a 1970s copyright date.

I used these books as references when I wanted to draw animals as a kid, and I just liked looking at them.

In my looking for the bird book I didn’t find, I did find a few other things 

Makit and Bakit kits were a thing when I was a kid: tiny hard plastic crystals you put inside a frame and baked. I now wonder what kind of damage I took from the plastic fumes (we made them in the kitchen oven) but they were fun to do.

I suspect this design was cashing in on Miss Piggy’s fame (it would have been about 1978) but she actually looks more like the Richard Scarry pig characters.

And then Hector. This is a small (3” or so) mouse I made when I was 8 or 9. He was one of my favorite toys for a while and I’m glad to find I kept him. He’s kind of worn but I carried him around a lot and I think he had at least one “bath” after getting dirty when I played outside 

And then finally, dolls I had bought for my collection but absolutely didn’t remember having. I may have bought them at a doll show when I was in grad school.

In the 1970s, Mattel made a line of dolls called the Sunshine Family.  I had a set, which I played with a lot- basically a wholesome, back to the lander family.

There was also a Black family (friends of theirs) called the Happy Family. I’ve never actually seen them. 

But close to the Bicentennial, they made a “historical” line called Star Spangled Dolls - some were couples (a Revolutionary War soldier and his bride, a pair of jazz musicians) and some solo “girl” dolls (presumably: teenagers too young to marry yet)

I was already kind of “out” of being interested in dolls when they came out but in recent years I wanted some. And I did buy another Sunshine Family, plus the grandparents, from Etsy. From time to time I saw one of the Star Spangled Dolls, but they were either more than I wanted to pay, or were in poor shape.

So imagine my surprise when I found these packed away in a box: the Colonial Girl, the Pioneer Girl, and the “Indian Maiden” (of very nonspecific tribe).

They’re about 9” tall 

ETA: they DO have names. The Colonial girl is Alison Thompson, the pioneer girl is Sarah Jane Benson, and the Native American girl is “Smiling Eyes,” and it says she’s from a “Northern Plains Tribe,” which, okay, that’s probably the best fit for the costume. (Living where I do I am much more familiar with Choctaw and Chickasaw traditional dress, and I have a nodding acquaintance with how Diné women would have dressed…)

One of the online auction/ valuation sites had photos of the boxes showing their names.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

the summer feeling

 Yeah, I noticed it a day or two after classes were over and grades were in: the old summer feeling, that vague memory of being a kid getting off the school bus on the last day of school.

That feeling of all possibilities being open, that summer was going to be forever, that all the things you wanted to do but couldn't because of school were open to you now. 

Oh, summer wore thin after a couple weeks, but that first day that feeling of "going to friends' houses/playing outside/baking cookies/going to the library/reading/watching cartoons/drawing/making doll clothes/building stuff with lego/playing board games/making crafts/rearranging my room/going places with Mom and Dad" was kind of like that moment on Christmas morning before you went down the stairs and literally anything you wanted could be waiting under the tree. 

It's different when you're an adult of course. But it is nice, when you teach, to have those first few days when the pressure lifts, when you don't have classes to prep, or lab-planning to slot into your week, and all the various worries and concerns students have, and all the paperwork - and just be able to work on your own stuff. Or even take a break. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

A few photos.

 The train trip up was long and arduous: several hours delayed when I got on that got worse overnight. I was also very sore when I got off - both having to sit too much and the jolting of the train. But at least I’m here and it’s ten days before I need to go back.

The Arch, by (as I remember it) late-morning light. And the Mississippi is up somewhat.

Out and about: baby chicks at the farm store (we went for birdseed) and a bubble tea.

My mom has a mother groundhog and THREE babies living under her deck; these are two of them 

They play-wrestle like kittens 

I went through some old school stuff. The sketchbook (which I didn’t keep) had very rudimentary stuff for 3-D art; back in high school. I had written “INSCRUTABLE ART DESERVES TO BE PARODIED” on it, and that’s on brand for how I was in high school. 

I did keep the three ring binder (it had Snoopy on the outside with the old Mork and Mindy sticker 

the "moon" book

 One book I read recently was Rebecca Boyle's "Our Moon." I enjoyed it, though like all of these "sweeping" non fiction books, there were parts I liked better than others. 

She starts out talking about speculation as to how the moon formed. One hypothesis is that the earth collided with another planetary mass (hypothetically named Theia) and the result was a larger earth and the formation of the moon. This is interesting to me given that I've read the particular size of the earth is what allows for it to hold the right kind of atmosphere for life....

There are other hypotheses. I admit I've never had classwork in that material, so I can't evaluate the various hypotheses and I'm not sure I fully understood them. (I was reading that part right after I injured my leg, so I wasn't sleeping well, and maybe that affected my comprehension).

The second section was historical/ancient people's conception of the moon, as much as we know about them. Apparently in some parts of the ancient Middle East, there were moon cults, and at least one ruler "secretly" considered the moon goddess his favorite (even though the sun goddess was considered the important one who had to be propitiated).

She also mentioned Stonehenge and other ancient stone circles - or the remnants of where "woodhedges" were. There's a little bit of speculation about the various festivals and things. And yes, I can see in ancient societies, where either knowing timing to plant, or the timing of hunting/migrating to be where the game was. It's a very different way of thinking from us, where we have calendars and most of us don't farm and hunting is only a very specialty activity.

There were also probably ceremonies or observances that knowing the moon position and time of year would be important for. Like a lot of things in anthropology, when we don't know what they were for, we go "ritual or religious reasons" (There's a funny book by David Macauley* called "Motel of the Mysteries" where he approaches far-future archaeologists finding a midcentury American Route-66 style motel - one thing I remember is that the "archaeologists" interpreted the toilet seats as a ceremonial head/neck dress)

(*I actually met David Macauley in the very early 1980s; some of us who wrote "particularly good" (in the judgment of our teachers) stories got to meet him and he gave a talk for us. Somewhere I have a copy of his book "Cathedral" that he autographed)

From there, she moves to the space race and the missions to the moon. And it is kind of amazing that we did that, back in the 1960s. (It's commonly noted that modern smartphones are more powerful than the computers that got humans safely to the moon and back). Both amazing in that it was done with only one really bad mishap (the fire  on Apollo 1 that killed the three astronauts on board), but also amazing that we had the political will to do that then. (Looking from the perspective of seeing years of infighting, gridlock, and ridiculousness in our government). I mean, I guess some would argue that it was done largely as a "flex" on the Russians - they had the first man in space, but we had the first man to walk on the moon (And as far as I remember - the only people to walk on the moon were Americans)

Another interesting observation - a lot of the astronauts were fairly religious men. Buzz Aldrin (who was an elder in his Presbyterian church) made arrangements to be allowed to take communion on the moon. There was the reading from Genesis - done over the radio- and at least one of the astronauts offered a prayer. Again, today, I think that might cause more consternation, even if it was very clear that was one individual exercising his own private faith.

But she also writes about the "overview effect" and how people were deeply changed from having viewed the Earth from "the outside" - apparently several astronauts developed much deeper and more intense faith as a result, and several have written about realizing how small and fragile our world is. 

And now: the talk of returning to the moon. And the talk of using the moon - either "outsourcing" really dirty industries there, or mining resources from it. And I get the arguments in favor, but everything in me recoils at that. Like, NO. We should treat the moon as a sort of World Park, I think, where we don't pollute it or commercialize it (ugh, luxury hotels on the moon for the megawealthy. Though then again? Maybe the overview effect will change a few hearts?). I'd rather see it left as it is, with only the human incursions/space junk from earlier missions there. (Really, space exploration needs to be: you packed it in, you pack it out, like they say with roadless areas here on earth).

But anyway: I enjoyed the book; it's well-written and it's amazing to go in a couple hundred pages from "this is how we think the moon formed billions of years ago" to "should we mine minerals from the moon"

Monday, May 13, 2024

Always "little guys"

 One of the things I've always liked, from early childhood, have been what I now call "little guys" - small figures, mostly of animals or anthropomorphic creatures. I like having them around to look at.

When I was a kid, I had a lot of these. Sometimes I would (carefully! so as not to lose it or have a teacher confiscate it - I never played with them in class) carry one in a pocket, just as a reminder, just as a reassurance. My mom referred to them as "pocket friends," and my parents never made A Deal about it (some people's parents absolutely would, and would ban their kids from it). I don't know. It just brought me comfort.

At home - or at recess, if other friends had brought small figures - I would play with them. Moving them through elaborate stories I made up, or sometimes building "houses" out of either Lego or out of small boxes (shoe boxes were much-coveted in my household). 

At some point I stopped "playing" in that sense, but I kept the little guys (well, most of them). Put them up on shelves, repurposed wooden fruit crates by nailing thin bits of lath in to serve as shelves, and so on. 

Most of them are (I admit) still in storage at my mom's house; I did retrieve a few over the years. 

But I've also bought more; here are a couple recent "little guys"

Smurfs were just such a Thing when I was like 11 and 12. The shop that had them used to sell out early on, and it was often impossible to find the desirable ones (like Smurfette) and you had to be lucky to go in when they had a new shipment. Eventually the "cool kids" outgrew them and I was able to find the ones I wanted more easily. Back then I liked the more "neutral" position ones - the better to play with, or fit into the little houses. But as I buy them as an adult, I like the more distinctive poses - this ice skater (who fell down) is my most recent purchase, because he's amusing.

I need to put up a little shelf so I can line up all the ones I have. I haven't even brought back the ones up at my mother's house.

I think about being that age: 11 or 12 and just on the cusp of being a teenager. And very concerned about how I was perceived, and being afraid of looking babyish or weird, and so I eventually stopped talking about collecting Little Guys with other people. 

I do remember when a couple of the big early-80s "properties" came out - Strawberry Shortcake, and My Little Pony, and Care Bears. 

I didn't particularly care for My Little Pony back then - they all looked alike to me (same pose more or less, though I guess you could argue that the Smurfs were pretty much all the same, except for Papa Smurf and Smurfette). I did like Strawberry Shortcake and I bought a doll of her, I just liked the idea of a small, jointed doll (though her articulation is much more limited than, for example, the Creatable World kids) and a doll that represented a KID. I never got into Barbie because I couldn't relate to her - a grown up, impossibly well put-together (my hair was always a mess), and the clothes thing didn't appeal to me. (Also, I was prime Barbie age during the "Malibu" era, and swimsuit clad dolls were even LESS interesting to a landlocked kid like me).

I secretly wanted a Grumpy Bear but never asked for one because of being afraid of looking babyish. I have two now - the giant Build-a-Bear reproduction, and a much smaller one that I sometimes carry with me when I travel.

And I've been collecting Ponies for a while; I started out being a fan of the 2010 reboot show (sometimes called "G4" for Generation 4) but then I began buying the vintage ponies.

And some new re-imaginings. There's a much-loved-by-collectors and impossibly-hard-to-find Japanese line of early 80s ponies from Takara, where they have a TOTALLY different design - much smaller and rounder, and they are bipedal rather than walking on all fours. Kind of, "what if Hello Kitty but a pony?"

Recently one of the reproduction companies (HQG1C for High Quality Generation 1 Customs) made a reissue/re-imagining of these, including a baby version, and I bought two:


 They don't come officially named, but I call mine Muffins (the grey one with blond hair - Muffins was one of the alternate names for the wonky-eyed pony more fans called Derpy) and Moondancer (white with pink mane; she is close to the colors of the original Moondancer).

The hair isn't *perfect* and I'm not good enough at styling it to make it go into curls or something. Maybe at some point I will try wetting it down and using chenille stems as curlers, and see if I can get a set into it. 

But yes; I've always liked Little Guys (or Little Gals, I guess)

Friday, May 10, 2024

And it's break

 (time embargoed post)

I think back to the end-of-the-school-year feelings when I was a kid. I liked school, I liked learning, I mostly liked my teachers. I didn't always like interacting with the other students. 

Summers were, as I remember them, pretty good. Summers then were definitely better than summers now. Now I either am working too hard (like: teaching a challenging class in half the time, or trying to grind through a lot of research/prepwork when I'm just tired) or I feel at loose ends. Because I think I've forgotten how to "play."

When I was under 12 (well, to be honest: under about 15, in fact), I could play. I either made up elaborate stories for my stuffed animals to move through, or I made clothes for them (or for the few dolls I had that I cared much about; I mostly preferred stuffed animals as a kid). or I made dollhouses from boxes or "fairy houses" out in the yard. Or played games with the neighborhood kids. Or did crafts, or read library books. 

I think also maybe not being alone a lot was a part of it? My parents were there (though a number of years my dad was gone for several weeks in the summer, teaching field camp, and back in the days of expensive long-distance calls we mostly heard from him through regular letters or postcards). My brother was there, and honestly we did get on pretty well when we were small; it was after the teenaged years that we diverged in our interests and outlook. Sometimes we'd build epic things with Lego, or we'd work together on some project (like trying to dig a canal in the yard.....which got us in trouble)

And there were friends around. I had one down the street from me; the kids across the street, while they weren't into things like building dollhouses or playing with stuffed animals, they liked "exploring" (walking around the un-built-up parts of the neighborhood) or playing some kind of athletic game. I was never good at HORSE but I played because it was something to play with other people. We also played capture the flag and that football game that used to be called "Smear the...." which was essentially "try to tackle whoever has the ball"

We also played a form of flag football with bandanas as the flags. 

And there were trees to climb, and frogs to try to catch, and.....I don't even know what the adult equivalent of all those things are. I wish I knew, and they were things I enjoyed and could find a crew to do with me.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

I’m still waiting

 Bus bridge messed everything up. We were told the train was due at 5:15, it never came. The website kept showing 5:15.

In the middle of all this, a troubled (dementia? Maybe?) woman who had got off the westbound train this morning and thought there’d be another one soon (and who got off because she said she wasn’t getting on a bus because - warning for a slur, here, but I am quoting her - she didn’t want to sit next to a “queer.”)

Eventually the station attendant got her sorted (it may not have been dementia but merely attention seeking) and put her in a taxi…. So she can pick up the train tomorrow.

But there was still no information: was the train even still coming? Had the bus bridge not left Temple, which would mean it would be like 4 am before I got on? Do I get a motel room? Try to change my ticket? What? And how do I get food: I get cranky and headachey when I skip meals.

So Martha, the station attendant kept calling around. Because: if I knew the train wasn’t due for three hours I could go get food; if it was due in 20 minutes, no way.

FINALLY the station attendant got ahold of someone in Temple who knew: it was due to leave Fort Worth in 10-15 minutes, then two hours here.

As it turned out, the husband (who was not traveling; he works for EMS the next county over and is on call if there’s bad weather) offered to run and pick up food for us. I took him up on it

Not shown: the real-sugar glass bottle of Coke (some restaurants here get in the Mexicoke because people prefer it)

I don’t GENERALLY drink Coke but I was headachey and sometimes that helps. 

And the guy wouldn’t even take money for it! He bought me my meal! 

So things look better, given I am no longer headachey. And the train will be here in … womp womp…. An hour and a half 

ready to go

 I've double-checked my list and I have everything on it. 

I do need to quick run the vacuum over the floors before I leave; I think other than unplugging a few energy hogs that's all I need to do. My train is currently on time but there's several hours between where it is and where I get on it at this point. 

I've got a COUPLE embargoed posts and might do an occasional SHORT post (I do not like typing on my phone and generate many errors because of autocorrect) while I'm gone.

anyway, have a piece of music I randomly ran across and love greatly (and also made me realize how you could dress if you were a woman in a ska band - no, scratch that, ska ORCHESTRA)

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

I'm almost packed

 I've got all my clothes and most of the projects packed (I have to decide whether to stick all the bits of the Wednesday Addams little doll in a baggie and tuck it in - it wouldn't take up much room and maybe I would finish it). Mostly took sockyarn and a couple different patterns (one called "recreational tilling" that will work with striping yarns, and I have an old regia in browns (like the soil, get it?) and brighter colors.. And I have a pattern with a zig-zag down the side that I might do with the Garfield colored yarn).

I think the only "in progress" project I will take will be the "Princess Luna Socks" (the ones in a modified feather-and-fan, out of purple and black glittery yarn). At the end I might see if I can fit the Orchard and Vine in (I would love to finish it) but also I am concerned about having too much heavy stuff to transport

Got my books picked out - I finished the Moon book last night and might do an embargoed post on it - so it's a couple new-to-me mysteries and "The Wee Free Men" (which I bought ages ago on someone's recommendation and never read) and one about seashells. 

I do still have to go to the bank and gas up the car and buy some additional small mother's day gift if I can find a good thing. And I should mow the yard late today. And then do the stretching, which I skipped yesterday (no time; it was after 8 pm when I got home) and I can feel that I skipped it.

I leave tomorrow. Tomorrow morning I can bung the various toiletries and medications in my backpack, and see which (if any) "comfort critters" I can fit in (I need to take at least Squishy Dog, who can serve as an emergency pillow; there's always a slim chance something happens and the sleeper gets bad-ordered and you get busted down to coach, and there are no pillows in coach). 

I'm also going to have to take my cane, if there's some emergency where we have to walk far or across uneven ground I would need it. I don't LOVE that idea, but I figure better safe than sorry. I wish I had a collapsable one but I don't, and maybe those are less stable? Also it sounds like the sleeper car is on the very end of the train and the diner car is up front, so I'll have to get through a couple coaches....

Monday, May 06, 2024

last stage begun

 I finished the sleeve cuff on the sweater this weekend and began the front bands. I don't know if I'll finish them before I leave for Illinois, and given I'm trying to travel lighter (less to carry with my bad knee), I'm not sure I'd take an almost-but-not-quite finished big project

I'm not sure how much chance I'll get to work on it tonight. We had a job candidate in and I volunteered to go with the group taking him out to dinner, but the person in charge of e-mailing or texting me the location hasn't contacted me yet, so I have no idea going on (which always bugs me; lunch was "we're leaving in a few minutes for the place" and what does "few minutes' mean? In some cases, if I take it to mean five, I get there way before everyone; if I take it to mean fifteen, sometimes I'm late. I wasn't the latest one THIS time but I need more precision). Anyway, it's supposed to be at 6:30 so if I don't hear in another 10 or so minutes maybe I just give up and figure either the person in charge forgot, or the candidate decided to juet get something "to go" to eat in his room - because being out tonight may not be great.

Yeah, we're on the very edge of the "severe weather" area but there are a lot of warnings that it could get bad. So if I don't hear soon - or don't hear at all - maybe I garage my car and figure out something to eat here (I don't have a lot of food on hand, given that I leave Wednesday midafternoon for a couple weeks).

I'm trying to write a few time-embargoed posts but it's been challenging, lots of stuff going on.

Thursday, May 02, 2024

a busy day

 * Today is the retirement lunch for my colleague, and then the AAUW "end of year dinner out." I will have to find something small/easily halved and leftovers carried home for the lunch meal especially. (It's at a Mexican place I've never been to, but which the retiree apparently likes. The dinner is at the local Italian place and they do have a couple appetizer items that are good, so I might get one of those as my meal instead)

* I am annoyed (well not really) to report that I must do the PT stretches every day from now on, I guess. I REALLY hurt yesterday morning, to the point where I had to use the cane everywhere (mostly now I've just been bringing it and leaving it in my office in case). I was afraid I'd re-injured myself. And then when I got home around 3, I decided: this is the last rain free day for a while, you HAVE to mow the lawn even though you hurt (which then put me over the 3000 step threshold for my day). And then after resting a bit, I did the PT stretches.

And I felt much better this morning. Well, I was also careful to ice the knee after heavy exertion, and careful not to sit "criss cross applesauce" in my big chair - it's large enough that I can so I sometimes do it, but sitting with one leg crooked up under the other is probably not good now. 

But I am going to try to make time between the two meals (!) to at least do the PT stretches; I think I need them to keep that leg from stiffening up. Maybe eventually I'll be able to decrease the frequency but it DOES feel, when it hurts, like the muscles are very tight, and maybe that's an aftereffect of the damage I suffered?

* Have to start thinking about carry-along projects. I have the socks currently on the needles, and a couple of self-patterning yarns that I could just take as simple projects. But I'm also considering digging out the hexagon quilt that I have not worked on in AGES and bringing it:

It'd be something different, and something that's been in a stall for a long time. I know I have lots of the papers (and if I'm careful, I can reuse them) and lots of hexagons already cut, but also there are some bits and scraps of fabric my mom has that I could use and incorporate too. 

I'm considering, if and when I finish this, just doing it as a coverlet - not putting a batting in it and just either tying or tack-stitching it to the backing in various places. I'll have to think about it. It's all handsewn and I'm not sure it would hold up to the stress of being tugged on a quilting machine (nor would the pattern work well with the stock quilting patterns) and I am horribly slow at handquilting anything. 

* Well, the troubled-student situation has (apparently) resolved. Not for the best, but definitely not for the worst. (Best at this point, I think, would have been them earlier on having gone "something's not right with me" and their family supporting them in getting help). Apparently what happened - the colleague who runs the "capstone class" they were in gave them the final and exit essay papers and on the exit essay the student expressed a firm desire to kill themselves. Which of course triggers the "they need protection" guideline, and that was why I saw a campus police officer escorting them outside the building as I came in. 

The worst outcome: well, I don't like to think about it but some of my nerves Tuesday morning were "what if they did (what they ultimately had threatened to do)" and I am the one to find them?" I mean, with counseling I'd probably be OK but it's not something I like to contemplate.

I hope they get help. I've been in holes myself before but never as bad as they apparently were; mine were more a situational depression (largely during the pandemic) and it sounds like theirs is a serious biochemical issue.

* My colleague had to fill out a police report; I flashed back to when that guy rearended me while driving a university van (luckily with no students on board and luckily I was not hurt). That was a lot less scary and stressful though - once the accident was over and I knew I was unhurt, and the other driver confessed responsibility IN FRONT OF A COP, I knew it was all just paperwork. 

* Posting my final grades this morning. Only 2 Fs out of all the classes; one of them was someone who came and spoke to me and acknowledged that life and stuff got in the way of them doing better (but that I was a good teacher and they were sorry they couldn't make a go of it). I feel sad about that; I hope maybe someday they can come back and finish their degree. The other person was someone who frankly I think wasn't ready for college; they would constantly e-mail claiming they couldn't find the stuff I posted on the class webpage (when everyone else could) and I'd copy the link and e-mail it back to them but often they then never completed the assignment. I admit I feel less bad about that because I feel like there was much less "try" there than with the other student. 

My athlete made good enough grades to keep eligibility (if they haven't used up their years of it yet).

But yeah, I am just tired. Some years I am happy when the semester ends; I feel successful and like I accomplished a lot. This year, I just feel like I survived - that injury really messed a lot of things up and I'm still not totally over it.

* I have to do a few things before I leave to visit my mom next week; I agreed to fill the pulpit in the minister's absence so I need to write two sermons, one for each of the first two weeks in June.